Overruled: part 2

ImageBut God, whose lovingkindness was reaching out to man, found a way to shed innocent blood and still spare these people whom He loved so much.  And so God slew animals, and it was the first time that anything, anywhere died. And he took the skins of the animals and gave them to man to cover his shame and guilt. And the precedent became law, a law that could never be repealed—sin is punishable by death. Where there is sin, blood must be shed. It is the only payment fitting the offense.

And so, all through the ages, as God continued to reach out to man in unbounded love, calling him back, extending mercy and compassion to him from generation to generation, Satan continued to parade himself before the courts of heaven, day and night, accusing and attacking at every turn. When the earth was filled with unrighteousness, and wickedness prevailed in every place, Satan saw God’s patience and cried, “I object!”

“Sustained,” said the one righteous judge, and a flood covered the earth.  But Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord, and so came a new beginning.

But again, sin reigned in the human race under the iron hand of hell, under whose rule the earth moaned. So when the people of God followed after idols, Satan raised his fist and yelled, “I object! They don’t deserve your favor!”

“Sustained,” said the Father, and off they went into slavery or exile, while the Father kept reaching.

And when Saul, the anointed king of God’s people, rebelled against the commands of God and chose his own way, the now familiar “Objection!” rang again from the voice of the accuser. “He doesn’t deserve to lead your people!”

“Sustained,” agreed the Father, and a new king was found, one whose heart chased after God’s own heart.

And when David succumbed to the pull of temptation, the voice was heard: “Objection! You say he has a heart like yours? Ha! He is an adulterer and a murderer. How dare you let him build your house? I object!”

And the Father, even while forgiving David’s sin, was forced to agree. “Sustained,” he said, and the task of building a temple to the name of the Lord was passed to the next generation.
But there was a mystery, as yet unrevealed, working its way down through the passage of time. God had a plan. It was a plan that he had always known would be put into motion, a plan to redeem, to buy back what man had lost. This plan unfolded behind the scenes, quietly but powerfully. The prophets would speak of this plan to send a Savior, a Messiah, someone who would restore everything to its proper order. The people of God heard the promise, and they waited, and watched, all the while under the constant accusations of hell.

Then, one night, in a pasture outside of the little town of Bethlehem, this plan of God that had been hidden in the ages burst out into the open! “Rejoice!” went up the cry, as all the angels of heaven packed themselves into a tiny piece of sky and sang the song that they had been waiting thousands of years to sing. “For unto you is born, this day, in the city of David, a Savior, which is Christ the King! Rejoice! Glory to God in the highest heaven, and peace on earth to all people, on whom His favor rests!”

And for once, on that night, while all of heaven sang at the top of its lungs, the familiar scream of objection … could not be heard.

And the tables began to turn.  The court of heaven went into recess. The accuser  became very busy trying to hold on to his power, while the Judge spent time with His family, watching His Son grow up. Jesus grew in stature, the Bible says, and in favor with God and with man.

At the age of thirty, this man, the Son of God, took the plan of God public. He began to attack Satan’s power base, and train others to do the same. “For this reason,” John tells us, “the Son of God was revealed—to destroy the works of the devil.”

So on it went, for three and a half years, Satan struggling to hold on to an authority that he sees slipping away, and Jesus, casting the kingdom of darkness out of people and replacing it with the kingdom of God.

In a last-ditch effort to hold on to his ever more tenuous position, satan rallies his troops, and a scheme is hatched to kill this greatest threat. Using forces both inside and outside of Jesus’ organization, Satan succeeds in staging what is surely the most brilliant coup in the history of the world. He arranges for Jesus to be arrested, illegally tried, convicted, and sentenced to death at the hands of those He said He had come to save. Tortured, mocked, spit upon, accused, this one man, the only man who had never sinned, carried his own wood of execution through the city streets, up to a hill outside the city gates, where everyone could witness his shame.

And so, as all of heaven falls silent, Satan steals quietly back into the courtroom and watches as, once again, God sits down on His throne and prepares to hand down a decision.  Satan, knowing he has won, strikes a pose of victory and waits for his moment, the moment where he will declare that God’s greatest plan has failed, that he has lost the earth and its inhabitants forever.

But… something catches his ear. He hears a conversation that is taking place on that hill far below. Jesus is stretched out, crucified, dying, done for, and Satan hears the last part of something that is being said. It is coming from one of his own people, someone he has invested much time and energy into and discarded. It is coming from  one of the thieves hanging beside Jesus. “Remember me,” he is saying, “when you come into Your Kingdom.”

And then the ancient and accursed accuser hears something that shakes him to his very core: “Even today,” Jesus says, “you will be with me in paradise.”
“Objection!” he screams, high-pitched and scared. “He can’t do that! That man is mine! He lived a life of sin, and he belongs to me! You know the law! I object.”
And the Father looks down. And he sees the blood of His own perfect Son, flowing down the rough, splintered wood of the cross. He sees one perfect life slipping into death, sinlessness becoming sin, and even as Satan’s objection echoes through the halls of heaven, the Father stands from His throne, looks at Satan with all the authority that has resided in Him since the beginning, and says, finally, the words that all of heaven has been waiting to hear since before time began: “OBJECTION… OVERRULED! The blood of my son is enough! It is sufficient to pay the price for all of sin, for all time! From this day forward, no more sacrifice will be required. No more blood need be shed. All who believe on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ will be saved. Saved from the penalty of their sin! Saved from death! Saved from you! They will be the rescued, the redeemed, the righteous people of God, and we will be together both now and forever!”

“No,” cried satan, his voice beginning to crack under the strain, “you can’t do that! The world is mine! Remember? They gave it to me! I object!”

“OVERRULED!” shouted the Father, and the doorposts of heaven shook. “Man gave it to you, and now the Son of Man has bought it back! He has brought my Kingdom, my rule, my reign, back to the earth and its inhabitants. They no longer need to be under your darkness, living in your chains! This court hereby proclaims that by the blood of my dear Son, mankind is free!”
And far below, Jesus answers back, “It is finished!”

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