bits from bob....
Mike Armour (The Newcomer's Guide to the Bible, College Press, 1999) raises an intriguing possibility for a thorny biblical issue.
In John 13:2 the text says that Satan was responsible for enticing Judas to betray Jesus. John 13:27 affirms that Satan entered into Judas during the events of the Supper, after which Jesus encouraged Judas to act quickly. It is easy to prove from Scripture that Satan planned Jesus' death and that he was involved in motivating the human players to carry out his scheme. The cross appears to be Satan's idea and a major part of his plan to overthrow good and demonstrate his own superiority.
However, we also know from Scripture that God planned for Jesus to redeem creation from before the beginning of time. Jesus is described as the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world (Rev. 13:8). Old Testament prophecies make clear to us in retrospect that God in his divine wisdom intended to redeem us from sin by the sacrifice and crucifixion of his own Son. Armour suggests that the question of who really planned the cross can be explained by noting that God kept his plan hidden during the Old Testament era. While we have prophetic references that we can now interpret and understand in relation to the cross, the Bible says that the mystery was not revealed in those days. Peter says the prophets inquired and diligently searched to understand the salvation, suffering, and glory which were being described (1 Peter 1:10-11). The heroes of faith did not receive the promise (Heb. 11:39). Paul wrote to the Ephesians that the mystery was revealed to him, but was not made known in previous times in the same way that it is now revealed by the Spirit (Eph. 3:1-5). Of course, Paul is referring not only to the basis of God's grace but to the fact that the grace of God would also be available to the Gentiles.
Is this why God kept his redemptive plan hidden up until the time of Jesus? Is this why the mystery was not revealed to the angels and prophets? The reference to the angels suggests that God was also hiding his intentions from Satan. In another interesting passage, Paul says that if the rulers of this world had known God eternal hidden wisdom they would not have crucified the Lord of glory (1 Cor. 2:7-8). Whether these rulers are physical rulers who by the motivation of Satan were involved in Jesus' crucifixion, or are spiritual Satanic and demonic forces, the truth is that they were completely caught unaware when by killing the anointed Messiah of God they actually sealed their own fate and made possible the forgiveness of sins by God!
It is easy to believe that the God more powerful than any other force, and certainly more powerful than Satan, could cause Satan to be unwittingly used for the accomplishment of his purposes. This theme frequently resounds through the Old Testament.
The same great God that overpowered Satan in the events of the cross is at work in our world today. Even though Satan has not been fully bound is and seeking pray (1 Peter 5:8), God's presence among his people is sufficient to overcome that force. Arm your selves for the battle (Eph. 6:10-17) and find God's provision (1 Cor. 10:13). Will you join me today in praising God for his great wisdom?
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