The Cosmic Conspiracy, Part 6
The previous post left off setting the stage for a confrontation that was in the making for thousands of years. Satan’s schemes for world domination seemed to be working perfectly as the little ray of hope, the remnant of Israel, was gasping for air in the life-crushing grip of Satan’s hatred for humanity. The Genesis 3 prophecy of the Messiah was still looming over the enemy. There were signs that an invasion was eminent but the details were still so cloudy, as Almighty God had veiled much of His majestic military strategy in dark sayings that only those who were seeking His Spirit could understand.
The tiny speck of geography of Judea was now the epicenter for wickedness on the planet. B.C. time was about to turn into A.D. time, so it was time for the enemy’s ground forces to invade the region and stack the deck against this coming Messiah and the army that was expected to come with Him. Satan was poised for war, but there was an eerie silence over the mapped out combat zone. Was this the calm before the storm?
A strange report must have come into the enemy’s lair that an entourage of Babylonian Magi were headed for Judea in a caravan carrying precious cargo. The reconnaissance reports were telling of a group of mystic astronomers that had identified a powerful alignment of stars and planets that were foretelling of a great king that was about to be born on the earth. These Magi had access to all manner of prophetic writings, including the Hebrew scriptures that were brought to Babylon centuries before by the exiles from Israel, like Daniel (who was part of this class of wise men of his day). Had they discovered the plan and cracked the code of God’s prophetic plan? Satan must find out.
By this time, the Romans had placated the unruly Jews by giving them their “own” king, who was ultimately owned by the Empire, to rule over them. All official business of Judea would have to pass through his court so the Magi would have to enter the region and meet with Herod. Herod was not only the puppet king of the Jews, he was also a pawn of Satan. If the information revealed by the Magi gave any concrete facts about the invasion, the enemy would have the upper hand, and hopefully put an end to the war before it began.
The report of the Magi sent shockwaves through Herod’s court and the hierarchy of Judea’s corrupt ruling classes. The headline read that a new king was about to be born and His official position would be called The King of the Jews. If this was true, the coming invasion was coming through the birth of a baby. This made no sense. How could this be the awesome plan of Almighty God? This would be too easy.
The news enraged king Herod and inspired Satan to go into super stealth mode. With all the corrupt cunning in his being, Satan devised a plan to use the Magi to lead him right to the front door of this new King. After much discussion and deliberation with the Magi, Herod’s Jewish priests, and counselors, it was determined that the birthplace was somewhere around the little town of Bethlehem, and that the birth probably had already taken place perhaps 2 years ago based on the timing of the celestial alignment the Magi saw, which sparked their pilgrimage in the first place. Satan, now working through Herod, instructed the Magi to go find this king, pay their respects and homage to him, and then come back and tell Herod his whereabouts so he too could do the same.
Matthew recounts this story in his gospel and reveals the true nature of Satan’s absolute hatred for all things human. The plot line plays out that the Magi did indeed find Jesus in Bethlehem. But, warned by God in a dream, these wise men of the East disregarded Herod’s instructions to report back to him and went home to their land by another route.
This further enraged Herod, and now the fangs of Satan were laid bare for all to see. Herod, knowing that the baby-king was somewhere in the regions of Bethlehem, and was probably no more than 2 years old, orders the slaughter of all male babies 2 years old and under in the environs of Bethlehem with the intention of putting to death this upstart king and any hope that his kingdom would ever be realized. This was such a horrible atrocity, and it was also the fulfillment of prophecy (Jer. 31:15) centuries before that foretold of the inexhaustible wickedness of Satan.
Sidebar: Since the entire focus of this blog series is to uncover the cosmic conspiracy of Satan, we need to stop for a moment in our expose’ to focus in on what is revealed in the actions of Herod in the account above. Tracing Satan’s history with humanity back to the expulsion from the garden, a plot of murder and destruction of human life goes into high gear. It started with the murder of Able by Cain and escalated to a society of humanity that was so filled with murder that it was destroying itself. Murder was a way of life (see
As we follow the story, God preserves Noah and His family through the great flood, and begins the process of repopulating the earth and continuing with the original mandate to Adam and Eve. It was not long after this that humans rebelled again and began doing their will, their way. Instead of spreading out over the earth they congregated together to form a large city, in which they built at its center a great temple for worship to the demon-gods. A central focus of this worship was human sacrifice, and in particular, infant sacrifice. To be sure, the spirit of murder came back with a vengeance also. But, now putting murder in the context of a religious rite, a rite that was meant to appease the gods, murder was not only acceptable, it was necessary.
This story line weaves throughout the pages of biblical history and Satan’s dealing with humans, right up to this current moment. As we progress through this series we will trace this death wish presented in various forms. All of Satan’s maniacal actions towards humans focuses on this: cause as much pain and suffering for humans as possible, then destroy human life by any means possible. Why is Satan so consumed with destroying us?
There are many theological reasons that could be given, and would be true. But at the core, I believe, is Satan’s deep, eternal hatred for God. If Satan cannot kill God, he will torture and kill the things that are the most precious to God - humans, the crown and glory of His creation (at least on Earth). Satan wants God to suffer for what God did to him and we are the target of his rage.
The biblical narrative of the birth and early years of Jesus is filled with God’s intervention and protection over the tiny infant and his family as they moved from place to place outrunning the enemy’s clutches. By the time Jesus was probably 5 or 6, He was living back in Nazareth, the town of His earthly parents. We don’t learn much about Jesus in these early years and we don’t know from the biblical account if Satan was totally aware of Who Jesus really was at this point. I believe Satan and his demon hordes were nervously optimistic that the slaughter of the babies had taken care of the threat of the Messiah. Then, almost out of nowhere, a wild-eyed, hyper-zealous prophet begins a ministry of announcing and preparing the way for the coming Messiah. The war was not over, it was just about to begin!
When Jesus was about 30 years old, He was baptized by His cousin, John the Baptist, and was filled with the Holy Spirit. It was at that moment that the Glory of Jesus was manifest to all who had eyes to see. And it was at that moment that Satan set his sights on Jesus. Now he had the target he had been waiting for for millennia. The fury of the kingdom of darkness was aligned against Jesus and the prophetic showdown was moving towards a great climax. Over the centuries Satan worked through his demon underlings to ravage the earth. Now Satan, himself, would be directly involved in hand-to-hand combat and would stop at nothing in his quest to destroy Jesus.
The account of this epic battle is presented in the Gospels. The first encounter (Luke 4), displays Satan using his go-to strategy of cunning and reasoning to get Jesus to fall into a trap. It had worked with Adam and Eve, perhaps it would work on Jesus. If it did, game over, and the war was won. Jesus, even in His weakened physical strength, tramples on the wiles of the devil, and walks out of the battle with no hint of weakness. Satan flees the scene and regroups. Looking at the weapons in his arsenal, Satan had at his disposal the Roman empire, the godless heathen culture of the gentiles, or his prized weapon, religion.
The next scene in Jesus’ ministry reveals the weapon of choice - religion. Jesus entered His hometown for Sabbath service and He was immediately confronted by the religious stronghold over the Jews. By the end of the service, his own neighbors were trying to throw Him off a cliff! Jesus, undaunted, and filled with the power and poise of the Holy Spirit, walks right through the crowd and continues His ministry. Jesus’ entire public ministry for 3 or so years was hounded and pounded by the religion of the Jews. The nation that was given the charge of protecting and adhering to the Law of God was rejecting its promised Messiah. Conflict after conflict is unfolded in the pages of the Gospels. Satan is wielding his swords of legalism, liberalism, and paganism in the face of Jesus. Jesus is unshakable. Every attack that religion hurled at Jesus backfired and turned into a foray for the Kingdom of Light to keep advancing into enemy territory.
Jesus ministered like a Kingdom wrecking ball. The demon hordes that were summoned to Judea were being cast out like ragdolls with one word from the mouth of Jesus . Sickness and disease that was plaguing the populace as a result of the assault of sin in humanity was being healed and cleansed by the powerful compassion of Jesus. The disenfranchised pagans were flocking around Jesus in what was fast becoming a Jesus movement. Jesus was running roughshod over every barricade, breaking every chain of bondage, and bombarding the fortress of lies that held the people of God in captivity with the Gospel of Truth.
Jesus was marching towards Jerusalem, the center of Jewish life and religion, and the center of Satan’s kingdom on Earth. This would be the rematch from 3 years prior in the wilderness of Judea. Satan knew that if Jesus was going to destroy the last of his forces of resistance - religion- He would have to do it where its life-blood was pumping from. This would be the more opportune time that Satan was waiting for. Jesus would walk into the center of the web of the cosmic conspiracy and be trapped and held bound as the black widow of wickedness was lying in wait to inflict its venomous bite and destroy this would-be Messiah once and for all.
The conspiracy seemed to be closing in and shutting off all routes of escape should Jesus step foot in Jerusalem. Jesus’ disciples, knowing that Jerusalem was the hotbed of hatred towards Him (and His disciples) pleaded with Him not to go. Satan truly believed that his siren song was drawing Jesus into his trap. However, Jesus was setting His face towards Jerusalem to willingly walk into the trap. Jesus knew exactly what He was doing, but Satan had no idea.
What plays out next in the cosmic conspiracy reveals more details of the strategy of Satan to use religion against God. The truth we extract in this next scene has been played out over the centuries of Christianity right to our present day. With this information we should be able to uncover the plot of our enemy and destroy the works of the devil. For as the Apostle Paul stated, “we are not unaware of the schemes of the enemy,” or are we? We’ll just have to find out...
by Pastor Jim Anan