Why I Believe That The CHURCH Is The Solution, Part 2
The previous post set the stage for what looked like an invasion of Earth by God to redeem a world that was in the throes of chaos. We see a loving Creator establishing a beachhead on the shores of this enemy-infested planet by planting a garden-fortress, creating humans, and setting in motion a pseudo-military campaign to liberate the earth and return it to its former splendor. The imagery presented in the first 3 chapters of Genesis almost appear like the plot line for a fantastical sci-fi thriller. If our grid for understanding how all that we see came into being is strictly logic based and empirically proven, then we can put the biblical account on the shelf with all the other great works of literary fiction. However, if God is a Spirit, and the spirit world existed before the naturalistic world, then reading the Genesis account through this lens will bring into focus a cosmic war that is still raging.
If this be the case, how in the world could the earth have become a swirling mass of chaotic darkness that needed to be redeemed? If God is an all-loving, gracious, and good Being, where in the universe did this evil menace originate? The scriptures are filled with references to this diabolical spiritual entity that can be pieced together to form a picture of happenings at some point outside of what we know as time (time was created by God “in the beginning”). To our scientifically biased Western mind, this sounds ludicrous. But to the mind of the ancients that lived in the regions of the Ancient Near East (the geographical epicenter for the early biblical accounts of the first chapters of Genesis), this was the fabric of their core belief system. I believe that the ancients were more queued into reality than we are today with all of our advanced sophistications.
The scope of this post is to whet your appetite to go on a journey of discovery into some of the points I am raising here. There are many great scholarly works available that will take you deep into the minutia of the details. For our purposes here, I am going to lay out my thoughts on what could have happened and where we are in the timeline of God’s liberation invasion.
In the early stages of the Genesis account just prior to the creation of humanity, it seems that God is having a conversation with Himself. The language states, “Let us make man in our image.” One traditional explanation for this plurality is that God is speaking to Himself as the trinity - God as Father, Son, & Spirit. This could be an explanation, and the revelation of God is presented throughout scripture as triune, but a careful examination of the ancient Hebrew language used points to a plurality of spiritual beings that were in God’s presence as He was making His creation decrees.
This was not a new concept being foisted on the readers of the day when the verses of Genesis were penned. The beliefs of a supreme God, surrounded by other spiritual beings before and during the creation of our world as we know it, is recorded in writings more ancient than the record of Genesis. Some of the terms that pepper the Genesis account are, “sons of God,” angels, archangels, cherubim, seraphim, among others, that point to the “Host of Heaven” that existed with God pre-time as we know it.
If these spiritual beings were present with Almighty God, we must assume that some, if not all, had the ability to exercise a will to remain in harmony with God or rebel and launch a coup against His sovereignty in the universe. There are a number of verses of scripture that point to a cosmic rebellion that happened at some point in God’s history regarding a powerful spirit-being, that became corrupted by its own splendor, and decided to instigate a rebellion and gather a force bent on dethroning God. Here are just two of many references to this occurrence:
[Isa. 14:12 NLT] "How you are fallen from heaven, O shining star, son of the morning! You have been thrown down to the earth, you who destroyed the nations of the world.”
[Jude 1:6 NLT] “And I remind you of the angels who did not stay within the limits of authority God gave them but left the place where they belonged. God has kept them securely chained in prisons of darkness, waiting for the great day of judgment.”
If you continue to read the references, cross references, and word origins of this and other verses of scripture, a picture begins to unfold of a time when a very powerful and influential being led a rebellion against God and the beings loyal to Him. Obviously, a created being could never dethrone the Creator, and therefore was cast out of the precincts of the Heavenly Courts and the entire mob of anarchists ended up on what we now call planet Earth. This rebellion is the genesis of all that we call evil. The Hebrew word for “evil” portrays any thought and/or action that is out of harmony with God. Evil cannot coexist with good. Evil was cast out of Heaven and set the scene for the account of Genesis 1. The result was that whatever was before this moment was now a mass of chaotic darkness with headquarters in a place called the abyss.
This is the point where the record of Genesis picks up the account in more detail. God’s plan for the redemption of the earth and the removal of evil starts with God introducing light to expose the work that needed to be done. We can see God creating (or even recreating?) the planet and all that may have been corrupted by the heavenly war that transpired (remember, this is an opinion of the possibilities presented by the language of the Genesis account and other cross referenced verses of scripture). The Garden of Eden, in many respects, could have been an exact reproduction of the Headquarters of Heaven being set up on the earth to serve as a staging for the rest of the redemption operation. The creation of humanity was in part, I believe, to serve as the army God would activate against the forces of darkness (see previous post for more detail on this).
Up until the third chapter of Genesis, the plan seemed to be moving along flawlessly. God and humanity were locked into a perfectly harmonious relationship of fellowship and destiny. Humanity, created in the image of God, would reproduce this image through procreation and then take dominion over the earth by establishing a civilization that fully expressed the culture of Heaven - the glory of God’s splendor radiating from every nook and cranny of creation. In Genesis 3 we are introduced to a spiritual being that in Hebrew was called, “nachash.” This is a very interesting word and needs to be understood in the three parts of speech it is represented by. As a noun, it can be understood as a serpent (more than a mere snake), as a verb it means an enchanter, deceiver, or spell caster, and as an adjective it can be understood as “shining one.”
All three of these definitions taken together and connected with all the scripture that contains references to this title (the Hebrew uses a definite article indicating a specific being) point to a being that we are not wrong in stating that was some type of divine spiritual being (small “d”). This being was at one time in the Courts of Heaven with God and was cast out and became the king-pin for the rebellion (see Isa. 14:12-ff). Its main objective in showing up in the garden was to deceive humanity into the same rebellion and by doing so, abort the redemption plan that had been initiated.
Because the Garden was a place where God (and the other divine beings already mentioned above) were inhabiting along with Adam and Eve, it should not be surprising that they so readily had entered into a conversation with this divine, spiritual being. Perhaps, the actual entity of darkness & evil, nachash, disguised itself as this serpent being in order to engage them? Whatever the actual truth may be, the deception worked, humanity was banned from the Garden, and the plan of redemption seemed to have been thwarted. There is always a “however” in God’s almighty plan. The however comes in the form of God, Himself, Who will eventually take on the body and limitations of a human and go right into the abyss of darkness to face the fallen warlord head on!
We are getting to the part where the “Why I Believe the Church is the Solution” comes in, but we still need to paint a clearer picture of what the battlefield looked like just before Jesus’ pronouncement that He was instituting the final phase of His take-back of the earth plan. After humanity is removed from the Garden (for their own good, as an act of a loving Creator) all hell breaks loose on the planet.
The slide is gradual at first but by the time the events of Genesis 6 is reached, the description of the human condition is dismally bleak. We are told, almost as if in passing, that there was an invasion of diabolical divine spirit beings that were able to morph into human form and cohabitate with human women who gave birth to offspring that contained the DNA of darkness and destruction. This statement is made as if the first ancient readers would know exactly what is being referred to. Indeed, they would have understood all of this because the spawn of these bizarre cohabitations were still creating havoc on the earth at the time that Genesis was written.
We may find this too mythical to incorporate into our worldview and pass it off as the way our uneducated and animistic ancestors dealt with the unexplainable. But remember, our Christian faith rests on the facts that God came to Earth as a human, was killed, and resurrected Himself to save humanity. Is that any less amazing? If we take the biblical account to be authentic, this fits with many other references in scripture to the infestation of evil in our world. Here is the description of humankind during this period: [Gen 6:5 NLT] “The LORD observed the extent of human wickedness on the earth, and he saw that everything they thought or imagined was consistently and totally evil.”
If we follow the storyline of redemption from this point on we will see Almighty God begin operation redemption by selecting one individual, Abraham (Genesis 12), from all the people on the earth, making a covenant with Him, and declaring him to be the generator of a nation of people who would carry the seed of righteousness and truth far into the future when finally, God, in the form of Jesus, would come through his genetic line and restore humanity to its place as viceroys of Earth.
Biblical history is replete with the highs and lows, the successes and failures, and the ebbs and flows in humanity’s struggle in the ongoing war with nachash. God is faithful to stick with this rag-tag army and not change plans or directions. God will take back the earth, deal with darkness and chaos, and restore everything to His original plan. Jesus steps onto the stage of history right in the thick of a culture steeped in broken religious systems, political oppression, national upheavals, social depravity where gloom and darkness are plastered over the headlines, and the average Mary & Joe of Judea are holding out for the long awaited Messiah. Sounds like a page right out of our daily media report. For Jesus, this is go time!
What comes next is shock and awe for the underworld. So, stay tuned and tune in...
by Pastor Jim Anan