The devil made his first appearance in the Bible when he tempted the couple with a deceptive question “Did God say?” (Genesis 3.1).
This question is at the root of all human sin and rebellion against God. We refuse his guidance because we believe we know better than God how to conduct our lives.
At the end of history, the devil shows his true intent to greatly harm humans.
Rejoice then, you heavens
and those who dwell in them!
But woe to the earth and the sea,
for the devil has come down to you
with great wrath
because he knows that his time is short!” (Revelation 12.12)
The antagonism directed against the church has its origin in the hatred of Satan for Christ.
Jesus explained this fact to his followers. “But they will do all these things to you on account of my name, because they do not know him who sent me” (John 15:21).
When Paul was converted on the Damascus Road, he learned that in persecuting the church, he was persecuting Christ.
He fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?”
He asked, “Who are you, Lord?” The reply came, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting” (Acts 9:4-5).
Satan is not able to harm God, but he uses every available scheme to cause pain to those whom God loves.
The situation in Venezuela is one of many examples of how Satan harms humans in his effort to hurt a loving God.
Why do so many people from Venezuela make a long, costly, and dangerous journey to America’s borders?
The economist Omar Zambrano describes Venezuela as a “hellscape of inequality.” Venezuela is among the most unequal countries in the world. The richest 10 percent of Venezuela’s population earns 70 times more than its poorest 10 percent.
If that figure doesn’t grab your attention, try this. Elvia Jurado, a law professor, has taught at the University of Carabobo for 32 years. This professional woman makes around $35 every two weeks.
Because of their inability to afford food prices, the average Venezuelan is losing 25 pounds every year.
Venezuela is one among a list of horrific situations that include Sudan, Ukraine, 199 mass shootings in America, and the list goes on.
Who is behind the world’s pain?
Satan uses humans to inflict pain on each other. President Zelinski spoke for both Russian and Ukrainian families when he said that everyone has someone in their phone’s contact list who has been killed in the war.
A small group of kleptocrats in Russia wanted to exert their power and believed Ukraine was an easy mark in 2022. They have been used by Satan to destroy cities and kill adults and children alike.
The Russian Wagner Group has been in Sudan helping Russia obtain gold to finance its war in Ukraine. The hand of the devil is evident in the harm done to an already poor nation.
The more than 13,900 people killed in gun violence so far in 2023 are testimonies to the truth of Jesus’ words, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy” (John 10.10).
The evil one specifically targets followers of Jesus.
So when the dragon saw that he had been thrown down to the earth, he pursued the woman who had delivered the male child.
But the woman was given the two wings of the great eagle, so that she could fly from the serpent into the wilderness, to her place where she is nourished for a time, and times, and half a time (Revelation 12.13).
This imagery comes from the Exodus where Pharaoh pursued God’s people, but they were protected by God.
Notice the parallel picture of God’s protection for his people during the time of Moses.
You have seen what I did to the Egyptians and how I bore you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself (Exodus 19:4).
A frequently quoted verse from Isaiah speaks to God’s provision during times of trouble.
But those who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength;
they shall mount up with wings like eagles;
they shall run and not be weary;
they shall walk and not faint. (Isaiah 40:31)
The Waters of Chaos
The ancient world believed that the chaotic waters of the sea were a god that battled with other gods for supremacy.
The creation story declared that the chaotic oceans were created by God who is supreme over all.
Overpowering waters have been a common metaphor in the Old Testament for overwhelming evil. The picture of the evil one is one of evil that inundates the earth, particularly against God’s people.
Then from his mouth the serpent poured water like a river after the woman, to sweep her away with the flood.
But the earth came to the help of the woman; it opened its mouth and swallowed the river that the dragon had poured from his mouth (Revelation 12.15-16).
Paul described the reality of how evil seeks to swallow up God’s people.
The coming of the lawless one is apparent in the working of Satan, who uses all power, signs, lying wonders,
And every kind of wicked deception for those who are perishing because they refused to love the truth and so be saved.
For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion, leading them to believe what is false (2 Thessalonians 2:9-11).
Even though the wicked perish, the faithful can depend on God’s protection.
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you,
and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you;
when you walk through fire you shall not be burned,
and the flame shall not consume you. (Isaiah 43:2)
War on God’s Family
The good news message of God’s grace proclaims that it is God’s eternal purpose to incorporate us into his family.
We are far more than people who have been allowed into heaven. We are God’s family members, according to Paul.
For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn within a large family (Romans 8.29).
The good news is that we are part of God’s family. The bad news is that the devil wages war against us.
Then the dragon was angry with the woman and went off to wage war on the rest of her children, those who keep the commandments of God and hold the testimony of Jesus (Revelation 12.17).
While Christians in America may not experience the same level of persecution as Christians in other parts of the world, here are some ways that the enemy opposes us.
— Some Christians may experience discrimination or harassment in the workplace due to their religious beliefs. This could include being passed over for promotions, being given undesirable job assignments, or being subjected to derogatory comments or jokes.
— Some may face being left out of certain social groups or events due to their religious beliefs.
— In rare cases, Christians in America may experience acts of violence or vandalism, due to their religious beliefs.
Our church in Louisiana experienced vandalism. I realized that we were a symbol of authority and that vandalism was a strike against authority.
Let’s not forget the Bible teaches us that the devil’s goal is to harm humans and oppose God’s people.
The devil seeks to use humans to inflict pain on each other, and this can be seen in situations such as the crisis in Venezuela or the conflicts in Sudan and Ukraine.
However, as believers, we can take comfort in the fact that God promises to protect his people, even amid overwhelming evil.
As we face the challenges of living in a fallen world, let us hold fast to our faith and trust in God’s unfailing love and protection.
Rudy Ross and I discuss this passage on YouTube today. It can be found on the Bob Spradling channel.