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"Your Adversary The Devil" (1 Peter 5.8)

We read in Jude 9 that "Michael the archangel, when contending with the devil he disputed about the body of Moses, durst not bring against him a railing judgement, but said, The Lord rebuke thee." This scripture would warn us against treating such an enemy lightly.

We would draw attention to Ezekiel 28, where, under the figure of the King of Tyre, it is stated in verse 13, "Thou wast in Eden the garden of God," and in verse 14, "Thou wast the anointed cherub that covereth ... ; thou hast walked up and down in the midst of the stones of fire ... " It is evident from the fact that figures of cherubim were worked upon the curtains and the veil of the tabernacle, that these beings were closely associated with the Divine Presence. This person was the anointed one "that covereth ... ". Verse 15 refers to the day when he was created. The references to this being's perfection are in the past tense, "Thou wast perfect." Ultimately that perfection was marred by iniquity. He manifested a spirit akin to that which characterized the prince of Tyre.

This being was none other than he that is called the Devil and Satan (Revelation 20.2). He is also called "the dragon," "the old serpent."

It has been mentioned that he was in Eden, the garden of God, but he is not presented here in this garden in his wickedness. He is seen in his glory and perfection. This would not point to the garden into which God put Adam, to dress it and to keep it, for the serpent, being a beast of the field, had no rightful place in Eden, although he gained entrance thereto (Genesis 3.1). It takes one back prior to the history of man. Alas! that such a mighty being should fail his Creator and use all his capabilities in constant endeavour to mar and destroy the Creator's work.

A consideration of the devil's devices and activities during human history is essential, for popular conceptions are often far astray from the truth regarding these matters. When he entered the garden, and beguiled Eve, he did not at first directly deny the word of God but questioned it, saying, "Yea, hath God said?" In reply, Eve did not state exactly what God had said, but added the words, "Neither shall ye touch it." The germ of doubt was sown in her heart and God's word was disobeyed (Genesis 3.1-8).

Let us now consider the part the devil played in the trials of Job, that perfect and upright man who lived in the land of Uz. Many ignore the fact so clearly stated in Job 1.6 and 2.1, that, when the son of God came to present themselves before the LORD, Satan came also among them. That he is permitted of God so to do as "the accuser of the brethren" is seen in Revelation 12.10. God took delight in Job and when Satan said he had come "from going to and fro in the earth," God said to Him, "Hast thou considered My servant Job? for there is none like him in the earth." The Adversary's reply was, "Doth Job fear God for nought? "and further that if God put forth His hand and touched Job, the latter would renounce God to His face. To vindicate the integrity of His servant, God put all that was Job's into the hand of Satan with the limitation "only upon himself put not forth thine hand." From the sore trials that beset Job in quick succession we can learn something of the might and power of the devil. The Sabeans were the first to be used in Job's testing. They came and destroyed his servants and robbed him of his oxen and asses. Next the fire of God fell from heaven consuming the sheep and the servants. Then follows the attack of three bands of the Chaldeans with the loss of the servants and Job's camels, and lastly the surviving messenger comes with tidings of the greatest loss of all, the heaviest of the trials, the loss of his sons and daughters caused by a great wind from the wilderness smiting and overthrowing the house where they were together, eating and drinking. Job's faith was triumphant and although we know the devil was behind these trials, Job received them as from God Himself. He worshipped and said, "Naked came I out of my mother's womb, and naked shall I return thither: the LORD gave, and the LORD hath taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD." In yet another conversation between the LORD and Satan concerning Job the adversary is given permission to touch Job's bone and flesh, but to spare his life. So Satan smote Job with sore boils from the sole of his foot unto his crown. As he sits among the ashes another trial comes to him from his wife. Pitying his sad plight, his wife says, " Dost thou still hold fast thine integrity? renounce God, and die." But here again Job's faith was triumphant, the vile purpose of the adversary was foiled, and the LORD'S testimony concerning His servant fully vindicated. Said Job to his wife, "Thou speakest as one of the foolish women speaketh. What? shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil ? In all this did not Job sin with his lips." From these portions we learn something of Satan's great power with its limitations under the sovereignty of the LORD.

Constantly in Old Testament times there were manifestations of Satan's influence. One such instance is recorded in Zechariah 3. A work of God was progressing on earth. God's people had again laid the foundation of His house in Jerusalem. The LORD found great joy in this, despite the weakness and frailty of His servants. Satan is shown as Joshua's adversary. God's grace is manifested and the adversary is silenced. His efforts to hinder the work of God, whether through his protestations in God's presence, or by human agency, are frustrated, and the work of building the house and the wall prospered. As we, in our weakness and unworthiness, labour in God's house today we can find strong encouragement in this account of remnant times. We need to realize that Joshua's adversary is our adversary. He still opposes both in heaven and on earth the work of God in the house of God. The blood of Jesus is sufficient answer to his opposition in heaven and God, our God, is stronger than any earthly enemies Satan may seek to use in his fell designs. Let us

thank Him and take heed to the admonition given to Joshua and his fellows,

"And the angel of the LORD protested unto Joshua, saying, Thus saith the LORD of hosts: if thou wilt walk in My ways, and if thou wilt keep My charge, then thou also shalt judge My house, and shalt also keep My courts, and 1 will give thee a place of access among these that stand by" (Zechariah 3.6, 7).

We have already referred to Satan's attack on man in his innocence, in Eden, and would now consider his attack upon .the "last Adam." the Lord Jesus Christ, who was led of the Spirit into the wilderness, and there the devil came to him. What striking contrasts are seen between the episode in Eden and that in the wilderness! Adam and Eve had the blessing of companionship. Both failed, but Adam was the responsible head. The Lord Jesus was alone, save for the wild beasts.

Adam was in Eden's garden, so different from the picture presented to the mind in the word "wilderness," in which we envisage a barren land. Adam was abundantly supplied with food, but it is recorded of the Lord Jesus that "He hungered." In such circumstances the Man of Sorrows is attacked. The wily tempter says, "If Thou art the Son of God, command that these stones become loaves" (Matthew 4.8 R.V.M.). In contrast to the statement of Eve, the Lord Jesus replied with the exact word of God. A second time the adversary attacks. This time he sets the Lord on the pinnacle of the temple and uses the word of God as a weapon, quoting from Psalm 91.11,12. He says, "If Thou art the Son of God, cast Thyself down: for it is written,

He shall give His angels charge concerning Thee

And on their hands they shall bear Thee up,

Lest haply Thou dash Thy foot against a stone" (Matthew 4.6).

Our hearts rejoice as we hear the Lord's reply,

"Again it is written,

Thou shalt not tempt the Lord Thy God."

He seeks to gain the adoration of the Holy One by the promise of "all the kingdoms of the world and the glory of them" but is again repulsed. The Lord said, "Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written,

Thou shalt worship the Lord, Thy God, and Him only shalt Thou serve."

So Satan departed from Him, but it was only for a season, for He came back to the attack again, but always to fail. The subsequent gospel history reveals the hatred the adversary had toward the Lord Jesus, the" altogether lovely One." How solemn is the record of what took place not long before His crucifixion! "Satan entered into Judas, who was called Iscariot" (Luke 22.8). Hatred is ever in the human heart against the Lord Jesus until subdued by the power of divine love, so the heart of Judas proved a fertile plot for the adversary. Yea, who can doubt that Satan's operations in the willing hearts of men co-ordinated the flood of human hatred which, rising to full tide, expressed itself in these words, "Away with Him" ?

As in reverent meditation we follow the Lord Jesus from Pilate's hall to the Cross, and contemplate Him hanging in death, we rejoice in the knowledge that it was through death He brought to nought "him that had the power of death, that is, the devil." At His resurrection deliverance came, for captivity was captive led. Later we hear from Him, the Risen One, those words of triumph,

"I was dead, and behold, I am alive for evermore, and I have the keys of death and of Hades" (Revelation 1.18).

We thank God who giveth us the victory, through our Lord Jesus Christ.

"Victory" is indeed the final word, though we shall see that the wily serpent has not ceased to attack those who follow the Lord.