A Look at the Big Picture
The Bible presents a philosophy of history. It reveals God’s purpose for history and enables us to understand why things have happened in the past, why the world is the way it is today, and what is to happen in the future.
This philosophy begins in eternity past when the personal, sovereign God of the Bible decided to have a Kingdom over which He could rule as the sovereign King. God created the universe as the realm of His universal Kingdom (Ex. 20:11) and made two kinds of personal subjects: angels to serve Him primarily in the heavenly realm and humans to whom He gave dominion over the earthly realm of His universal Kingdom (Gen. 1:26–28; Ps. 103:19–22; 148:2–5).
The fact that God gave mankind dominion over the earth indicates that He established a theocracy as Earth’s original form of government. In a theocracy, God’s rule is administered through a representative. God appointed the first man, Adam, to be this representative, with the responsibility to administer God’s rule the way God wanted it to be administered.
After God created His universal Kingdom, He pronounced it “very good” (Gen. 1:31). But later the most magnificent angel God created, “the anointed cherub who covers,” who was “perfect” from the day he was created until “iniquity was found” in him, became consumed with pride because of his beauty (Ezek. 28:14–15, 17; 1 Tim. 3:6). So he began a war to overthrow God and usurp the position of sovereign Ruler of the universe. He boasted, “I will be like the Most High” (Isa. 14:14). And thus he became Satan, the great adversary—or enemy—of God.
Satan prompted other angels to join his revolt and persuaded Adam, God’s earthly representative, to rebel against God (Gen. 3:1–12; Mt. 25:41). Because God’s human representative defected, the earthly theocracy was lost. Through his defection, called the fall of man, Adam handed over the rule of the world system to God’s enemy; and Satan and his forces have dominated it ever since (Lk. 4:5–7; Jn. 14:30; 1 Jn. 5:19).
Since the goal of Satan’s war is to overthrow God and usurp the position of sovereign Ruler, God’s purpose for history is to glorify Himself by demonstrating that He alone is the sovereign God of the universe.
For God to accomplish this purpose for history, He must crush Satan and eliminate him from the earth, along with his evil rule of the world system. Then God must restore His theocracy. Doing so will require another Adam, a human representative, administering God’s rule over the entire earth for the last age of its history. Were God not to accomplish these things before the history of the present earth ends, then God would be defeated by Satan.
Immediately after Adam’s defection, God informed His enemy that a child born of a woman would crush Satan and thereby redeem the world system from Satan’s domination (Gen. 3:15). This Redeemer would be God’s key to Satan’s defeat. God also indicated the Redeemer would die as a result of Satan’s work. Later He also revealed that the Redeemer would die to deal effectively with human sin, the cause of mankind’s serious predicament (Isa. 53; Jn. 1:29). The sin problem had to be solved in order for God to accomplish His purpose for history.
Because the advent and work of the Redeemer are God’s key to Satan’s defeat, Satan tried many means through-out Old Testament history to prevent the Redeemer’s birth. But God sovereignly counteracted every satanic attempt. This conflict between Satan and God prompted the origin of murder, apostasy, the flood in Noah’s day, capital punishment, human government, different languages and nations, false religions, Israel, anti-Semitism, the plagues of Egypt, the Exodus, the Red Sea miracle, and the Mosaic Law. It also prompted how Satan and God used for their purposes such nations as Egypt, Assyria, Babylon, Media-Persia, Greece, and Rome.
Through Old Testament prophets, God revealed that the promised Redeemer would be His eternal Son whom He would give to the world through incarnation by human birth via an Israelite, virgin woman. From within Israel, His Son would rule the theocratic Kingdom of God forever from the throne of His ancestor David (Isa. 7:14; 9:6–7; Mic. 5:2).
Despite Satan’s contrary attempts, God brought the Redeemer into the world. He was born of the virgin Mary in Israel during the reign of Herod the Great, the Roman-appointed ruler of that nation. The Redeemer’s God-assigned, human name was Jesus (Hebrew, Yeshua, “salvation”) because, as Savior, He would deal effectively with mankind’s sin (Mt. 1:18—2:2; Lk. 1:26–38; 2:1–20).
Satan failed to prevent the Redeemer from coming. So his next move to escape being crushed was to try to prevent the Redeemer from completing the work that God sent Him to do. Satan used three lines of attack against Jesus: He tried to kill Him, corrupt Him, and force rejection of Him.
First, through Herod and others, Satan tried in vain to destroy Jesus before the Redeemer could complete His God-assigned mission (Mt. 2:1–18; Lk. 4:16–30; Jn. 8:37–44). Second, he offered Jesus the rule of the world system, tempting Him to worship Satan and thereby defect from God. But Jesus refused (Lk. 4:5–6). Third, he worked in the hearts of people who heard the message of the future Kingdom of God, prompting them to reject Jesus as the Messiah and His offer of that Kingdom (Mt. 13:18–19).
Yet God sovereignly used the satanically prompted rejection of both Jesus and His offer of the Kingdom as His means of getting Jesus to the cross to become the “Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (Jn. 1:29). Jesus’ cry, “It is finished,” signified that He completed the task of dealing effectively with mankind’s sin—the task necessary for God to accomplish His purpose for history (Jn. 19:28–30).
Jesus’ work on the cross sealed Satan’s doom. It brought a sentence of divine judgment that God will execute on His enemy in the future (Jn. 16:11).
Israel Loses Preeminence
So Satan failed to prevent Jesus from dealing effectively with mankind’s sin. However, since Jesus died, and a dead Messiah cannot rule the world, Satan wanted to keep Him dead. Thus Israel’s religious leaders received Pilate’s permission to make the tomb secure (Mt. 27:62–66). But God sovereignly resurrected Jesus bodily from the tomb (28:1–7).
Although thousands of Jewish people accepted Jesus as their Messiah and Savior, Israel as a nation did not. Thus it did not meet the spiritual requirement of repentance for the theocratic Kingdom of God—the restored Davidic Kingdom—to come (3:1–2; 4:17, 23; 10:1–7).
Centuries earlier God had foretold that it would be so (Isa. 53). But God also foretold that in the future, Israel will repent and the future theocratic Kingdom of God will come (Zech. 12—14). Peter indicated the same (Acts 3:12–22).
God has determined that Israel will be the spiritual leader of the world in His future Kingdom (Isa. 2:1–4; 61:6; Zech. 8:20–23). To become that leader, Israel must be spiritually right with God.
Because Israel must repent before God will crush Satan and restore His theocracy, Satan has tried repeatedly to destroy Israel before it can do so. The Holocaust of World War II was one of those satanic attempts. And, unfortunately, more are on the way.