The Continuing Conflict
Satan’s goal is to rule the world instead of God and have all humanity worship him (Isa. 14:12–14). Consequently, he has tried to destroy the woman and her Seed since he first heard God’s promise of a Redeemer in Genesis 3:15.
Before the Savior’s birth, Satan tried to destroy the Jewish people to prevent the Redeemer from coming. Failing that, he tried to kill Jesus prematurely before the Messiah could become the final atoning sacrifice for humanity’s sin. Failing again, he has been trying to prevent Jesus from returning to Earth by annihilating the Jewish people so there will be no Messianic Kingdom over which Jesus can rule. Here are but a few of his many attempts to thwart God’s plan of redemption:
Before Jesus’ Birth
→ Adam and Eve’s son Cain murdered his righteous brother Abel. This was Satan’s first attempt to destroy the Messianic line. But Eve bore Seth, who would continue it (Gen. 4—5).
→ Hagar the Egyptian bore Abraham’s first son, Ishmael (16:1–4, 15), who was not the son of promise. God’s plan of redemption necessitated Abraham’s wife, Sarah, to birth Isaac, through whom God would raise up Jacob and the Jewish people.
→ When the Israelites were slaves in Egypt, Pharaoh issued a decree to kill all male Jewish children at birth (Ex. 1).
→ When the Israelites fled Egypt, Pharaoh attempted to destroy them at the Red Sea (chap. 14).
→ The nation of Moab tried to prevent the Israelites from entering the Promised Land by provoking God to destroy them because of their sin (Num. 22—24).
→ In 722 BC, the Assyrian army took the 10 northern tribes of Israel into captivity (2 Ki. 17).
→ In 586 BC, the Babylonians destroyed Jerusalem and took the two southern tribes into captivity (2 Chr. 36).
→ When Ahasuerus ruled the Persian Empire, home to all of world Jewry, Haman tried to manipulate him into annihilating all of God’s Chosen People (Est. 3—8).
→ Around 175 BC, Antiochus IV (Epiphanes) tried to corrupt Judaism by Hellenizing Israel with Greek culture and language (cf. Dan. 8; 11:2–35). Jews who refused to comply were persecuted and murdered so brutally that Antiochus is considered a type of the Antichrist.
Before Jesus’ Crucifixion
→ After Jesus’ birth, Satan tried to “devour” the Child born by the woman (Israel, Rev. 12:1–4), using Roman King Herod to kill all the male children born in Bethlehem around the time of Jesus’ birth (Mt. 2:16). But an angel told Jesus’ earthly father, Joseph, to flee with his family to Egypt (vv. 13–14). After Herod died, they returned and lived in Nazareth.
→ Satan tried to corrupt Jesus by tempting Him to compromise His sinless obedience and trust in God the Father (4:1–11). He tempted Him physically by trying to persuade Jesus to command that stones be turned to bread to satisfy His hunger. He tempted Him mentally by trying to coax Him to jump from the Temple’s high point, testing God’s faithfulness to rescue Him from death. And he tempted Jesus spiritually by promising to give Him “all the kingdoms of the world and their glory . . . if You will fall down and worship me” (vv. 8–9). Jesus rejected each temptation by quoting God’s Word (cf. Dt. 6:13, 16; 8:3).
→ Satan used Peter to try to persuade Jesus not to go to the cross. Peter rebuked Jesus (Mt. 16:22), prompting Jesus to reply, “Get behind Me, Satan! You are an offense to Me, for you are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men” (v. 23). God’s plan to redeem humanity depended on Jesus’ obedience all the way to His death.
→ People tried to throw Jesus off a cliff. Jesus had read the Messianic passage Isaiah 61:1 in a synagogue in Nazareth, saying, “Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing” (Lk. 4:21). He also gave illustrations of God’s miraculous acts among Gentiles. The congregation clearly understood Jesus was declaring God gave divine grace to the Gentiles but not to Israel because of Israel’s unbelief (vv. 25–27). Filled with wrath, the congregation forced Jesus from the city and tried to kill Him by throwing Him over a high cliff. Jesus miraculously escaped, but Satan persisted in trying to kill Jesus throughout His ministry (cf. Jn. 7:30; 8:59; 10:39).
Before Jesus’ Second Coming
→ In AD 70 the Romans destroyed Jerusalem and the Temple and scattered the Jewish people throughout the world, where Satan persecutes them continually and tries to destroy them.
→ Throughout the centuries, satanically driven antisemitism has taken many forms: inquisitions, expulsions, persecutions, pogroms, anti-Zionism. The list goes on. Satan will persist until the times of the Gentiles end (Lk. 21:24) with Messiah Jesus’ return to rescue the Jewish people from the Antichrist and establish His Messianic Kingdom.