The Secret of Israel (14) – The big confrontation

editor - 2 April 2019

What fascinates me every time is that Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, at the beginning of His work has a meeting with the devil in the Judean desert. We know the course of the so-called temptation. But what gets stuck in my mind is the power the devil pretends to have.

He shows Jesus all the kingdoms of the world and their glory, from a high mountain and then says: “I will give you all their authority and splendour; it has been given to me, and I can give it to anyone I want to…” (Luke 4:6). That’s quite a statement! The apostle Paul confirms this in Ephesians 6 when he speaks about our struggle against the rulers and powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.

Claim of the devil
You can ask yourself what is this all about? Anyway, suddenly you understand that the restoration of Israel’s Kingdom and the return of Israel’s lost tribes is no simple matter. Isaiah 49 did say that this was one of the tasks of the coming Messiah, but he also spoke about prisoners who are in the dark and whom the Lord’s Anointed should have to liberate.

In another chapter we hear God call: I will say to the north, ‘Give them up!’ and to the south, ‘Do not hold them back.’ Bring my sons from afar and my daughters from the ends of the earth” (Isaiah 43:6). The completion of the history of salvation is not like a warm knife cutting through butter. Satan himself and his demons terrorize God’s people wherever they are, lead the nations astray and appoint the leaders and rulers of the nations, against God and His people and they obstruct the history of salvation.

If you ask how this is possible, then the answer is: The devil obtained a tremendous claim and that is sin. Wherever sin rules he puts down his paws and says: Mine! And the pinnacle of his power is death. Ultimately everything will lead to a profound silence, not paradise, but the icy emptiness of death controls the future.

Misunderstood Anointed One
When after three years, just before Pesach, hundreds of thousands of people welcome Jesus in the Kidron Valley and praise Him as the Lord’s Anointed and as Israel’s King who will end all their suffering, Jesus enters the gates of the holy city and He does that to lay down His life for His sheep. No one understands, people walk back, get on with their lives and Jesus moves on misunderstood: Why doesn’t He do something, why doesn’t He push through?

The truth is that He as Israel’s King is looking for the greatest and most important confrontation necessary to fulfil everything. God makes Himself heard from heaven and encourages His Son: The Father will glorify His Name in what His Son will do now. People heard a great sound on that moment and asked themselves anxiously what this is all about and Jesus says: “Now is the time for judgment on this world; now the prince of this world will be driven out.” (John 12:31). Here Jesus as God’s Lamb will be crucified and in His dying process He breaks the devil’s power. He will take away the sin of the world and thus destroy the foundation on which the devil rests.

Behaving as if he reached the grand final
Not that the devil is prepared to concede that. Although he (to put it in football terms) will not go through to the next round, but he is behaving as if he reached the grand final. And he will spread death and destruction and will constantly try to assert his power in the world. But ultimately his fate is settled a long time ago. It will continue, finally: Israel’s restoration, the return of the lost sheep, the ingathering of the nations, and the completion of the history of salvation.

When we think about the suffering of Christ, we must firstly think about the following. It is all much broader than my own personal life… The focus is on God’s wonderful works. The prophet Isaiah mentions in his large chapter about the suffering of the Lord’s Servant (Isaiah 53): “Yet it was the Lord’s will to crush him and cause him to suffer, and though the Lord makes his life an offering for sin, he will see his offspring and prolong his days, and the will of the Lord will prosper in his hand.” (Isaiah 53:10).


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