Jesus said that Satan has been a deceiver from the beginning. From the moment the snake stepped onto the pages of Scripture, his role and motives were firmly set. Satan tempted our first parents to believe a lie and the disaster that followed was immense. He continued this sinister trend as the biblical story unfolded- not always so obvious to the readers of Scripture. We don't always see his actions with perfect clarity, but he obviously sets himself against the saving plan of God. The curtain on his activity is pulled back in the temptation of Job, where Satan brings destruction to Job’s family, possessions, and health. Jesus revealed to Peter, before his denial of Christ, that the evil one desired to sift him like wheat. So, we know that the devil is behind the fall of many who willfully choose to follow the ungodly desires of their heart. He has always set his sights on those who seek to do the Lord’s will. He was certainly behind the rebellion of Israel during the Exodus, resulting in the judgment of an entire generation before they could enter the Promised Land. He, no doubt, had designs to thwart the plan of God by bringing nations to battle against the Lord’s people, by tempting Israel’s kings through lust and greed, and by enticing the people toward idolatry resulting in their exile. God’s grace must have been exhausting to him, but at every turn each man that had the appearance of God’s chosen one was found to be lacking.
We should not be surprised that when Jesus came, demonic activity increased dramatically. Indeed, there were more demon-possessed people in the narratives, but we must also be aware that Satan was certainly at work in events such as Herod’s slaughtering of the children and the Pharisees’ plot to murder Christ. In spite of the devil's efforts, Jesus proved Himself to be pure and righteous by succeeding where Israel had failed. Satan could not bring Him to sin in the wilderness. Our Lord was the obedient Son the nation could never be. He was the true Israel. Satan had always preyed on the weak, but Christ was strong. This makes the crucifixion such an amazing moment in the sovereign plan of God. By all appearances, Satan had gained victory over man once again. The hatred of the people for Christ had resulted in His death, but in God’s wisdom, that death would bring forth eternal life. Satan would have known that God was just and holy, and because of this, would punish sinful man. What he did not know was that God would justly atone for the sins of His people by punishing His Son, the God-man, in their place. Jesus bore His Father's righteous wrath, and then demonstrated His power over death through His own resurrection. Satan had been a pawn in God’s eternal plan to exalt His Son and demonstrate His glory in a holy people who have the Lord as their King. Every failure of man in the pages of Scripture had been a small victory for Satan at the time- but only for a short while. Even those events were part of the infinite wisdom of God to manifest his glory and power in the work of Christ, and in those who would believe in the saving power of Jesus and receive Him as their greatest treasure. What a God worthy of praise!
Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!
“For who has known the mind of the Lord,
or who has been his counselor?”
“Or who has given a gift to him
that he might be repaid?”
For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen. (Romans 11:33-36 ESV)