Thursday, November 21, 2013

Thursday, November 21 ~ Miriam

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is 1 John 3; Ezekiel 41-42.
Today's scripture focus is Luke 22:1-6

Now the Feast of Unleavened Bread, which is called the Passover, was approaching. 2 The chief priests and the scribes were seeking how they might put Him to death; for they were afraid of the people.

3 And Satan entered into Judas who was called Iscariot, belonging to the number of the twelve. 4 And he went away and discussed with the chief priests and officers how he might betray Him to them. 5 They were glad and agreed to give him money. 6 So he consented, and began seeking a good opportunity to betray Him to them apart from the crowd.

So reading the verses above, one might think that everything is playing into the hands of Satan.  Here are the hypocritical religious leaders working towards their own ends trying to get rid of Jesus without causing a riot.  So, in order to help these religious leaders out because it suited his agenda, Satan takes hold of Judas (and lets not pretend Judas was innocent here, because obviously Satan can only move in when he is permitted to) and goes off to betray Jesus to these corrupt religious leaders.  Sounds like it's part of Satan's plan, doesn't it?  MacArthur says this, in Sinister Players in the Sovereign Plan of Redemption:

The New Testament is crystal clear that everything in the life of our Lord was controlled by His Father...everything.  Jesus said, “I only do what the Father wills Me to do.  I only say what the Father wants Me to say.  I only do what the Father shows Me to do.”  Everything He did was what God wanted Him to do and everything that was done around Him was what God wanted or allowed to be done.  Not only did Jesus do only what the Father willed Him to do, He only did what the Father willed Him to do when the Father willed Him to do it.  He did what the Father willed, when the Father willed.  In fact, He came into the world in the fullness of time.  Which means on a divine schedule, when God’s time was exactly right. 
And He went out of the world on divine schedule.  His death was planned by God before the foundation of the world.  That’s why He is in the Scripture called the Lamb slain from before the foundation of the world.  It was a divine plan on God’s part that Jesus would die even before anything was created.  Not only was it determined that He would die, it was determined when He would be born, where He would live, when He would die as to the year, as to the month, as to the week, as to the day, as to the hour.
So the religious leaders need a way to get to Jesus secretly, quietly, when he doesn't have crowds of people around him.  But how to find him?  He goes to the Mount of Olives at night with his disciples, but you can't go running around in the dark with a bunch of soldiers trying to find him.  They didn't have night vision goggles, satellite images, or GPS trackers.

Then a most amazing thing happened.  Guess who showed up at their meeting?  Judas.  The best understanding of the New Testament accounts is that Judas walked in to Caiaphas’ house into the meeting.  “How much is it worth to you if I tell you where Jesus is in the middle of the night?”  That’s essentially what happened.  This is God’s time and everything is in motion.

Why would Judas do that?  First of all, he was the devil, he was an unbeliever, he was unregenerate.  He was a fake.  He was a fraud.  He was a phony.  But why would he do that?  He was greedy, filled with avarice, wanted money, stealing from the bag, knew he was going to get out, the thing was going south, going the way he didn’t want it to go.  He had wasted three years, he wants out but he wants compensation. 

But still, how do you get over the hump of three years of exposure to Jesus?  Three years of seeing miracle after miracle after miracle?  Having seen the way He taught, heard everything He said and experiences meekness and kindness and humility and gentleness as well as His power and conviction, truth, how do you do this?

Verse 3 tells you how, and we move from the devout to the devil, “And Satan entered into Judas.”  Whatever restraint might have been in Judas’ mind, whatever held Judas back, didn’t hold him back anymore.  He was already a child of the devil.  Just like the leaders were the children of the devil, John 8, “You’re of your father the devil,” Jesus said to the leaders.  The devil moved them to do what they did and now the devil had another of his own children, Judas, and he moved him to do what he did.  In fact, he not only moved him, he not only made treacherous suggestions to Judas, he moved in.  There’s a progression there. 

And so, Satan moves in.  But this is all in God’s plan.  Let me say something that might surprise you.  As we come to the devil, you need to understand one thing, Satan is God’s devil, he is God’s devil.  He operates only within the parameters that God gives him.  God is sovereign over Satan, absolutely sovereign over Satan.  Look, Satan is who he is because he tried to assault the sovereignty of God.  Do you understand that?  Do you understand that if there’s any one thing you know to be true about Satan, it is that he cannot overpower God?  He cannot rebel against God.  He cannot claim equality with God or superiority to God.  That’s what he tried to do in the rebellion, along with a third of the angels, and he was thrown out of heaven along with all of them and they are permanently demonized and God prepared a lake of fire where they will burn forever and ever and ever, along with all those who reject Christ.  The devil tried to operate outside the framework of divine sovereignty and all he got for it was eternal wretchedness and was thrown out of heaven.  The devil is God’s devil.  He works only within the parameters which a sovereign God determines.

Hard to wrap your brain around, isn't it?  Especially for those who insist that God is only good and kind and loving and forgiving.  He is all those things.  But He is also holy and just.  We live in a world that is saturated in everything that God despises.  Obviously, if God is sovereign, then bad things come because He allows it.  He not only allows it, but also makes it part of the overall design and fabric of His plan.  Does He cause  them?  I would venture to say, sometimes, yes.  Sometimes He has to give us hard things to teach us something.  I don't think we can always pass the buck to the devil when bad things happen, or say that it's because we live in a fallen world, and that God just allowed it or helped us through it.  Sometimes, at least, God has to teach and discipline and let's face it - we learn a lot more through difficult circumstances than easy, peaceful times.

I am comforted by the fact that ALL things are filtered through the hands of God.  The good, the bad, and the ugly.  He never promised we wouldn't go through hard times, He only promised to be with us through it all.  I keep thinking of Romans 5:3-4:   And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope;

Happy Thursday!

Tomorrow's scripture focus:  Luke 22:7-13.
Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage:  1 John 4; Ezekiel 43-44


tammi said...

Great way to summarize and wrap up your thoughts on this tough matter, Miriam! It is so hard to understand why God would PLAN for evil to become a part of the human experience, and yet I keep thinking about the illustration of diamonds... they sparkle most brilliantly against a black background. There are so many characteristics of God we wouldn't experience, need, or care about if evil didn't exist. We NEED it to SEE HIM!!!

Tammy said...

I think we often allow man's free will to take away from God's sovereignty. He truly is in absolute control at all times. It's true, we do need evil to see Him. Just like we need His wrath in order to see His grace.