Saturday, July 23, 2005

The Big Picture

Here's something I found by meditating on God's Word.

When we think about God, we usually think about mankind's relationship to God, and sometimes also we think about the environment around us that God created for us. But that's not The Big Picture. God has also created other thinking, living creatures -- the angels -- and environments for them to live in. Literally, 'angel' means 'messenger' -- those that God has used to convey messages to us -- but in general, it includes all the races of 'people' creatures that God has created other than the race of mankind.

I'm not implying that it is wrong to concentrate on our own relationship to God. Certainly the Bible speaks far more about us than of the angels. But I think we can understand our own relationship to God better if we see it as part of The Big Picture.

The explanation of sin and evil in our world is inextricably linked to one angel in particular, Satan, or the Devil. This issue is so fundamental, that it is addressed by the first book of the Bible to be written, the book of Job. Yes, although Job is placed in the middle of our Bible, it was the first book written. And the entrance of sin into our world is recorded in the first book of the Bible, Genesis.

Pretend that you are an angel, not one of those that joined Satan's rebellion and his fall. How would you see the history of mankind?

Before Satan's rebellion, the angels knew nothing of sin, and so also knew nothing of grace and forgiveness. How could they understand grace and forgiveness when there is no sin? They knew of God's love, of course, but not knowing about grace and forgiveness, I think they must have taken God's love for granted.

Now, when Satan rebelled and some other angels joined him, and they were forced to leave heaven (the environment originally created for them to live in), did the remaining angels learn about grace and forgiveness? No, because God hasn't ever, and never will, offer forgiveness to Satan and his followers (demons).

What did they learn by observing what Satan did, and God's reaction to Satan's rebellion? They learned about God's wrath, which they had not seen before. Now, if you were an angel, and you suddenly learned about God's wrath, what would you think about God's love? I think you might doubt God's love a little, or at least be confused. You would need to learn about God's grace and forgiveness.

When mankind (Adam and Eve) were created, did the remaining angels learn about grace and forgiveness? No, only after sin was allowed to contaminate the human race, and a Redeemer was foretold, did they begin to get a hint. And when that Redeemer came, and paid for our sins on the cross, and was resurrected, and some forgiven sinners also resurrected, then they had enough to understand more.

Notice that it was necessary for God to allow sin to contaminate the human race so that the angels might have the opportunity to learn about God's grace and forgiveness. It may be hard to understand why God would allow this to happen; but it is certain that it did happen, so either God allowed it or God is not in total control. The Bible assures us that God is in total control, and that God has allowed sin to enter our world. It likens God to a potter who from one lump of clay makes a garbage container to be tossed out and a beautiful container to be admired and preserved. And does the clay have any right to tell the potter that he is wrong to do this?

We anticipate the time that we will live in heaven and have an opportunity to converse with the angels. But the angels would say that they anticipate the time that they will have an opportunity to converse with us. The relationship between us and the angels, I think, will be something like the relationship between the athletes of some sport and the fans of that sport: We have participated in this grace and forgiveness thing that the angels wonder about, and have watched from afar, but have never experienced. I think they are eager to hear our stories -- our personal testimonies -- and to listen to our songs of praise.


Your brother George said...

1 Peter 1:10-12 came to mind when I read this blog

JC said...

Yes, "..the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow ... the gospel ... which things the angels desire to look into."

Isn't it wonderful, how when you "hide God's Word in your heart", that when you meditate on it, or discuss it, or ponder life's questions, that relevent passages come to mind.

J. Mark Thompson said...

Hmm, how can you be sure that God did not offer forgiveness to the fallen angels? Since God loves all He has made, I would assume that He does offer them forgiveness, but that something about the nature of the devils (changelessness?) makes it impossible for them to receive it.

JC said...

A good question, Mark.
Revelations 20:10 reveals God's plan to cast the devil into the lake of fire (hell).
2 Peter 2:4 says that "God spared not the angels that sinned", but destined them for hell also.
Jude 6 says that the angels that left heaven are 'reserved' for judgement day.
The Bible speaks often of forgiveness offered to mankind, but only on condition of faith. The apostle James when defining real faith (trust in God that leads us to follow His guidance), examines the 'faith' that merely believes in the existence of God. In James 2:19, he points out that "the devils [demons] also believe, and tremble".
The Bible speaks of the devil deceiving some of mankind, and I think we can assume that he has also deceived the demons (fallen angels). That is as close as I can get to a Biblical basis for your idea of 'changelessness'.
We should always keep in mind that judgement is mandatory, but forgiveness is optional. As sinners, we cannot demand forgiveness from God. But we ought to be eternally grateful that he has offered it to us.

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