If God exists, why does He permit evil and suffering in this world?
The first principle that is necessary in our understanding of the present world is who has the right of rulership for the earth.
The universe is ruled by God, who made all things. He has, however, given rulership of the earth to other beings over the course of earth’s history. There is some debate as to whether a race of nonhuman beings existed on earth before man who were under Lucifer’s authority before Adam was created. Evidence for this possibility is seen in the fossil record of skeletal remains which display beings that are not related to Homo sapiens. Anthropologists have stated that these skeletal remains are dated as far back in earth’s history as 5 million years ago. Scientists have asserted that these beings are not human, they not apes; and they are certainly not an intermediate species. Some scholars believe that these beings could have been a part of a global catastrophe that caused the earth to be formless and void, as described by Genesis 1:2.
Sidebar: This premise is detailed in my book: “A Universe From God.” The reader should note that this author, as many others, are still studying and seeking to understand the correct context and application of Genesis 1:1-2. Neither I, nor anyone else; really knows for certain, when God created the universe. Nor do we know what or who were present, if anything, before Adam was created. We may gain some insight into this time from correctly understanding what God is saying in this text, but we will never know for certain until we are all finally home with the Lord. The following is provided for the reader for the purpose of provoking thought, and is not intended as official doctrine nor are these points the firm opinions of this author.
The original creation of the universe by God is described by Genesis Chapter 1:1:
In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. —Genesis 1:1
We should be clear here that the Bible does not state when this original creation took place. We cannot link the re-creative six days of Genesis 1:3-31 to this original creation of verse 1. They are separated by verse 2 in which the earth became formless and void.
The earth is described as “formless and void,” by God:
The earth was without form, and void; and darkness was on the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters. —Genesis 1:2
Beginning at verse 3, God brings the earth out of its state of formlessness and allows the sun to be seen once again on the earth, the land is separated from the oceans, with man placed on the earth along with the animal kingdom.
The fallen Lucifer, who is now called satan, is described first by Ezekiel as the evil power behind the king of Tyre, followed by his description as the “anointed cherub” who was cast out of the mountain of God because of his pride and desire to overthrow God’s rulership.
Son of man, take up a lamentation for the king of Tyre, and say to him, “Thus says the Lord GOD: ‘You were the seal of perfection, Full of wisdom and perfect in beauty. You were in Eden, the garden of God; Every precious stone was your covering: The sardius, topaz, and diamond, Beryl, onyx, and jasper, Sapphire, turquoise, and emerald with gold. The workmanship of your timbrels and pipes Was prepared for you on the day you were created. You were the anointed cherub who covers; I established you; You were on the holy mountain of God; You walked back and forth in the midst of fiery stones. You were perfect in your ways from the day you were created, Till iniquity was found in you. By the abundance of your trading You became filled with violence within, And you sinned; Therefore I cast you as a profane thing Out of the mountain of God; And I destroyed you, O covering cherub, From the midst of the fiery stones.’ ” —Ezekiel 28:12
Lucifer, before his fall, was in “Eden, the garden of God”—a term often used to describe paradise or a geographical area like the Jordan valley, in Genesis 13:10.
And Lot lifted his eyes and saw all the plain of Jordan, that it was well watered everywhere (before the LORD destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah) like the garden of the LORD, like the land of Egypt as you go toward Zoar. —Genesis 13:10
This was not the Eden that Adam was placed in—for we see Lucifer as satan, the fallen being, in that garden.
God describes the conditions of Lucifer’s heart that caused his fall, and the events that took place as a result:
Your heart was lifted up because of your beauty; You corrupted your wisdom for the sake of your splendor; I cast you to the ground, I laid you before kings, That they might gaze at you. 18 You defiled your sanctuaries By the multitude of your iniquities, By the iniquity of your trading; Therefore I brought fire from your midst; It devoured you, And I turned you to ashes upon the earth In the sight of all who saw you. 19 All who knew you among the peoples are astonished at you; You have become a horror, And shall be no more forever. —Ezekiel 28:17-19
God describes satan as dwelling in the king of Tyre in Ezekiel 28:12, as the one who was behind this evil king’s rulership and fully in control of that kingdom. Beginning at verse 14, the true identity of the king of Tyre is revealed: He was “the anointed cherub” who was formerly in the Garden of God—a title reserved for the angels. It is certain that God is describing Lucifer, before and during his fall from heaven, when he determined to overthrow God’s rule and take the kingdom by force for himself.
Verse 17: It was pride that caused his fall.
Verse 18: He possessed sanctuaries; he was turned to ashes upon the earth; his fall was seen as a horror by those who occupied the earth at that time.
Verse 19: The people who observed Lucifer’s fall were astonished.
The context of Ezekiel 28:19 is pre-Adam, pre-Genesis verse 3. Lucifer was on the earth, seen by people, and removed by God as a ruler. Perhaps, the most revealing fact is that Ezekiel describes the people who witnessed his fall as—shocked.
…I turned you to ashes upon the earth In the sight of all who saw you. —Ezekiel 28:18
Some scholars’ conjecture here that the events of this fall resulted in the earth becoming formless and void, at Genesis 1:2. This occurred as a result of the fall of Lucifer and the destruction of the kingdoms, peoples, and all living things on the earth at that time.
The context does not allow for the possibility that this took place during the time of Adam when, in six literal, 24 hour days, God brought the earth out of its formless state.
Job Chapter 38 describes Lucifer and all the angels rejoicing over the creation of God, when He created the universe. This took place at a time of great distance from Genesis 1:3.
(God asks Job) “Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth?…When the morning stars sang together, And all the sons of God shouted for joy?” —Job 38:4,7
The Opposition of Satan
When Adam was created, we see that there was great opposition to his rule over the earth from the fallen Lucifer. We are not told the original source of his hatred against Adam. It is certainly possible that had satan received rulership from God over the earth before Adam and forfeited that rule at his fall, that he would be in great displeasure that Adam would receive the kingdom that was formerly his. Throughout the Bible, we see consistent malevolence against the line of descendants that would bring the Messiah to earth. The source of this hostility is most certainly satan. A continued hatred for the descendants of Abraham is exhibited in Haman (from the Book of Esther) and, much later, Hitler—both of which, sought the extermination of the Jews, unsuccessfully.
The fact that God has preserved the Jews throughout the history of the world, despite overwhelming hatred and attempts at their annihilation, is evidence of a transcendent plan and purpose for these wonderful people, a plan that find its origin in God, who first called Abraham to believe in Him.
The Bible reveals that in the last days, all Israel will be saved, as they come into a knowledge of their Messiah and receive Him. The Jews and the Gentiles will be united as one people under God’s final kingdom of this world that will be ruled by the Messiah, and last forever.
Rulership of the earth won by satan, from Adam
When satan deceived Adam and he lost his rulership over the earth, satan once again became the ruler of this present world. Jesus confirmed this fact, in John Chapter 12:
Now is the judgment of this world; now the ruler of this world will be cast out. —John 12:31
This right of rulership has continued over the ages until the day that Jesus died for the sins of the world and once again won the right for God to rule over the earth.
…For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil. —1 John 3:8
When Jesus died and rose again, He received the right to take back God’s rulership of the earth. This will begin when Jesus returns to earth, the second time. In the Book of Revelation Chapter 5, we see Jesus taking the title deed for the earth from the hand of the Father and begin to open each of the seven seals. This opening of each seal, brings God’s judgement to the world, and grants Jesus the authority to take back the earth from satan’s rule. The opening of these seven seals begins the seven-year Tribulation period.
Then I saw in the right hand of him who was seated on the throne a scroll written within and on the back, sealed with seven seals. 2 And I saw a mighty angel proclaiming with a loud voice, Who is worthy to open the scroll and break its seals? 3 And no one in heaven or on earth or under the earth was able to open the scroll or to look into it, 4 and I began to weep loudly because no one was found worthy to open the scroll or to look into it. 5 And one of the elders said to me, Weep no more; behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has conquered, so that he can open the scroll and its seven seals. 6 And between the throne and the four living creatures and among the elders I saw a Lamb standing, as though it had been slain, with seven horns and with seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth. 7 And he went and took the scroll from the right hand of him who was seated on the throne. 8 And when he had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty- four elders fell down before the Lamb, each holding a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. (ESV) —Revelation 5:1-8
And they sang a new song, saying: “You are worthy to take the scroll, And to open its seals; For You were slain, And have redeemed us to God by Your blood Out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation, 10 And have made us kings and priests to our God; And we shall reign on the earth.” —Revelation 5:9-10
Verse 1: We see the Father sitting on the throne of God in heaven.
Verses 1-5: A cry from heaven is heard, asking “who is worthy to open the seals that are on the scroll;” the title-deed for the earth. No one is found worthy, except one: the Lion of the Tribe of Judah—a name used for Jesus.
Verse 6: Jesus is seen coming from the one throne in heaven, from the midst of this throne where the Father sits. He is described as “a Lamb as though it had been slain.”
Verses 7-9: Jesus takes the scroll from the hand of the Father, which causes praise to break forth from those who have been redeemed by Jesus’ blood. These individuals begin to proclaim that Jesus alone is worthy to receive the kingdom because of His death and resurrection. He has redeemed people from all over the earth, out of every tribe, tongue, nation, and people.
Verse 10: Upon Jesus assuming authority over the earth as its ruler, He will appoint kings and priests to co-rule with Him when He returns. These kings and priests are those who have surrendered their lives to Jesus as Lord and Savior, during the time before the Tribulation began.
The right to rulership is limited
It should be clarified, that although satan has won the right to rule over the kingdoms of this world from Adam, he does so under the total sovereignty of God. We see an example of this in the Book of Daniel Chapter 4. God tells Nebuchadnezzar that it is He who gives the power to rule, not men.
…In order that the living may know That the Most High rules in the kingdom of men, Gives it to whomever He will, And sets over it the lowest of men. —Daniel 4:17
God never loses His sovereignty over the earth
We observe that God always remains sovereign over the earth, even when rulership is won by others. An example of this limited rulership granted by God, is seen in the Book of Job, when satan requests that God permit him the opportunity to afflict Job, in order to prove whether his love for God is genuine or due to the benefits that he receives from the Lord.
Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan also came among them. 7 And the LORD said to Satan, “From where do you come?” So Satan answered the LORD and said, “From going to and fro on the earth, and from walking back and forth on it.” 8 Then the LORD said to Satan, “Have you considered My servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, one who fears God and shuns evil?” 9 So Satan answered the LORD and said, “Does Job fear God for nothing? 10 Have You not made a hedge around him, around his household, and around all that he has on every side? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land. 11 But now, stretch out Your hand and touch all that he has, and he will surely curse You to Your face!” 12 And the LORD said to Satan, “Behold, all that he has is in your power; only do not lay a hand on his person.” So Satan went out from the presence of the LORD. —Job 1:6-12
The accusation of satan is: “Does Job fear God for nothing?” God has placed a hedge of protection around Job so that satan is not permitted to harm him. The request by satan is that God allow him the right to harm Job as a test of the true motivation for Job’s fear of God (respect, honor).
This efficiently illustrates the fact that although satan has rulership over the earth, he is still under the authority of God as sovereign over the universe. It also proves that God is actively involved in every aspect of human life down to the finest details.
God’s sovereignty versus the will of man
God is sovereign, but He allows mankind the privilege of making personal decisions, for-which; He holds us accountable for the consequences of those decisions.
In the Book of Revelation, there is an example of how the Lord fulfills His purposes, by guiding the affairs of men to accomplish His will. People who have chosen to worship satan as the “beast,” God will place into their hearts a desire to fulfill His purposes. Remember that these individuals are not the saved, but those who have given their worship to satan.
For God has put it into their hearts to fulfill His purpose, to be of one mind, and to give their kingdom to the beast, until the words of God are fulfilled. —Revelation 17:17
In the Book of Acts, we see both the sovereign will and power of God working together with the actions of people, to accomplish God’s purpose.
Men of Israel, hear these words: 1. Jesus of Nazareth, a Man attested by God to you by miracles, wonders, and signs which God did through Him in your midst, as you yourselves also know—23 Him, 2. being delivered by the determined purpose and foreknowledge of God, 3. you have taken by lawless hands, have crucified, and put to death; 24 whom 4. God raised up, having loosed the pains of death, because it was not possible that He should be held by it. —Acts 2:22-24
Follow this narrative carefully:
- Jesus of Nazareth, attested to by God as the Messiah.
- He was delivered to Israel by the determined purpose and foreknowledge of God.
- Evil men took Him by lawless hands and crucified Him.
- God raised Him to life.
Notice that in this short description, we see that God’s sovereignty was working together with the actions of men—to accomplish the death and resurrection of the Messiah, so that God could offer salvation to all people.
First principle: Rulership may have been Lucifer’s before Adam was created. When Lucifer sinned and turned against God, he lost his rulership. This rule was then given to Adam, who lost it again to satan. It has remained under satan’s limited authority since Adam’s forfeiture.
Second Principle: When Jesus died and rose again, He acquired the right to rule over the earth once again. This rulership is delayed until the return of Jesus to the earth, at the end of the seven year Tribulation Period.
The question could be asked: Why has God permitted satan to exist at all, since he is clearly in opposition to God and has such great hatred for all the descendants of Adam?
The answer to this question is: God is allowing satan to continue on the earth as a part of His sovereign will and plan for all mankind. The right to rule was fairly won by satan from Adam. This is likely what prevented God from expelling him altogether from the earth. Second, we should understand that satan and the fallen angels are no threat to God or the descendants of Adam, under God’s oversight. God has allowed satan to continue for the apparent purpose of allowing each human being a choice. Either to love and trust God to rule over their lives, or to reject Him and live under the rulership of satan’s kingdom. This is a fundamental principle of rulership in the universe. There are only two kingdoms: God’s kingdom of light and love, and satan’s kingdom of darkness and death. A person who does not choose God’s kingdom automatically defaults to satan’s kingdom. Many people are of the opinion that they will not serve either God or satan. This is not possible. To reject God is to give allegiance to satan. There is no other option from God’s vantage point. This principle is vividly defined throughout the Bible.
(Jesus said) He who is not with Me is against Me, and he who does not gather with Me scatters. —Luke 11:23
One classic example of this is seen in the previous verse from Ezekiel 28:12, where God describes the king of Tyre as being under the control of the cherub, Lucifer; who once dwelt in heaven. Today, he dwells on the earth, creating havoc and death, and ruling through the leaders of nations who are given to his will.
There is no guarantee of protection from satan for the unsaved
Remember the principle of two kingdoms. At the present, by our own choice or lack of choice, we either belong to God or to satan. It is important that we understand that God only protects those who are in a personal relationship with Him. Job was under the Lord’s safekeeping, because Job loved the Lord and served Him. Those who do not belong to God, satan is free to influence, afflict, oppress, direct, and kill. Do you see how this principle explains why there is so much evil in the world today? It is not God’s fault that evil men chose evil actions—as they are led by their king, the fallen angel, who has the authority to control and direct all those who chose not to love God.
Paul described this power that satan has, to blind the eyes of people who do not belong to God, by causing them to not be able to see who Jesus is and receive Him as their Savior. Notice that Paul describes satan as “the God of this age (little “g”).
But even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, 4 whose minds the god of this age has blinded, who do not believe, lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine on them. —2 Corinthians 4:3
Jesus, in describing people who have hearts that are hardened by bitterness, due to their hurt or the wrongful actions of others; find that their ability to comprehend who Jesus is and receive Him, is hindered.
When anyone hears about Jesus, and does not understand, satan comes and snatches away what was sown in his heart. (RCR) —Matthew 13:19
Jesus will rule over the earth at His return
When Jesus came in fulfillment of the prophecies of the Old Testament that are detailed in this book, He came the first time to fulfill the scriptures that describe the Messiah as coming to earth for salvation. When Jesus returns the second time, He will fulfill the scriptures that describe the Messiah as coming to rule over the whole earth as the rightful King.
Although Jesus arrived the first time on earth as a humble servant who laid down His life for all mankind, at His return; He will come with great power—as the King of kings and Lord of lords.
Then I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse! The one sitting on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he judges and makes war. 12 His eyes are like a flame of fire, and on his head are many diadems, and he has a name written that no one knows but himself. 13 He is clothed in a robe dipped in blood, and the name by which he is called is The Word of God. 14 And the armies of heaven, arrayed in fine linen, white and pure, were following him on white horses. 15 From his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations, and he will rule them with a rod of iron. (ESV) —Revelation 19:11-15
The Book of 1 Samuel develops this principle of one King as the ruler over all of God’s people. In 1 Samuel 2:10, God illustrates this concept at its highest ideal and brings the righteous kingdom of God’s Messiah to earth. It has been the eternal purpose of God that all mankind should be ruled by Him alone. Jesus claimed to be the Messiah and the One appointed by God to rule the earth.
The world under satan’s kingdom
Why is there so much suffering in the world? If there is a God of love, why does He permit evil in the world?
This is what the world looks like when satan is the “god of this age” (2 Corinthians 4:3). When Jesus returns to rule over the earth and puts an end to satan’s rule there will be perfect peace and no one will hurt or kill anyone on the earth ever again.
They shall not hurt nor destroy in all My holy mountain, For the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD As the waters cover the sea. —Isaiah 11:9
Why doesn’t God do something about evil?
The answer is: He has done something. God sent His only Son into the world to destroy the works of the devil. Jesus has defeated satan at the cross and has won the right to govern the kingdoms of men. Jesus will return to the earth at the end of the seven-year Tribulation with His redeemed church, to rule over the earth in perfect righteousness and peace. At that time, the people of the earth will see what God has intended for our world, when it is ruled with justice and equity for all people.
Today, we see the effects of a world ruled by satan, with men and women given over to him; serving his plans and purposes. Each person makes their own decision for who they will serve. Since most of the people on the earth chose not to submit their lives to God and live in opposition to His will, a great number of people are unwittingly serving under satan’s rulership. As a result, our world suffers greatly, due to the effects of sin and evil. We cannot blame God for the pain and suffering which exists in the world that is caused by the evil and selfish actions of men and woman, who live under the dominion of satan’s opposition to God.
God has a plan that is in progress today—bringing to an end to all of our suffering. When Jesus returns to earth as its rightful ruler; evil, pain, suffering, and death will end. What more could God have done in sending His only Son to die for us in order to defeat the evil rulership of satan on the earth? All that could be done has been done. Until that glorious day when Jesus does return, the earth will continue to suffer.
The testing of Jesus that qualified Him to rule
When Jesus began His public ministry, there were three temptations that satan brought to Him. Jesus came as the second Adam; therefore, He had to be tempted in all of the same areas as the first Adam was tempted. If Jesus could not pass these tests, He could not be the Savior of the world.
Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. And when He had fasted forty days and forty nights, afterward He was hungry. —Matthew 4:1-2
These trials came to Jesus when He was at His very weakest point as a man. After having gone without food for forty days, His body was emptied of all physical power.
The physical aspects of a 40-day fast
Medical experts state that in days 1-3 of a fast, the human body is using up the remaining food that is left in the intestines. It is during these first three days that a person will experience intense, gut-wrenching hunger pains with headaches, body aches, and even joint pain. During this initial phase, the Body is ridding itself of all the toxins that have been stored, over a prolonged period of time. From days 4-39, a human body will use the fat that it has stored during past periods of feeding. It is during days 4-39 that a person may feel no hunger or desire for food at all. Most people do not experience intense hunger pains again until around the 40th day of a fast. After this forty-day period of time, when nutrients that had been stored in reserve, no longer exists; the body begins the process of death.
Here in Matthew’s gospel, after forty days without food, Jesus is in the process of dying. It was during this moment of incredible weakness and physical suffering, when satan came to Jesus to tempt Him. Temptations to sin will often come to us when we are at our weakest point. Lack of sleep, times of hunger, or in the presence of pressure and stress—these are some of the points of contact that satan uses to bring temptations to sin into our life.
There are three main temptations that are described in the Bible
For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father but is of the world. —1 John 2:16
- The Lust of the Flesh
- The Lust of the Eyes
- The Pride of Life
In the beginning, at the Garden of Eden, it was in these three areas that Eve was tested.
1 Now the serpent was more deceptive than any animal of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said to the woman, “Has God indeed said, ‘You shall not eat of every tree of the garden’?” 2 And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat the fruit of the trees of the garden; 3 but of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God has said, ‘You shall not eat it, nor shall you touch it, lest you die.’ ” 4 Then the serpent said to the woman, “You will not die. 5 For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and 1. you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” (The Lust of the Flesh) 6 So when the woman 2. saw that the tree was good for food, (The Lust of the Eyes) that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree 3. desirable to make one wise (The Pride of life), she took of its fruit and ate. She also gave to her husband with her, and he ate. (RCR) —Genesis 3:1-6
Jesus’ First Temptation: The Lust of the Flesh
Now when the tempter came to Him, he said, “If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread.” But He answered and said, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.’ ” —Matthew 4:3
In the original Hebrew language, the term, “if you are the Son of God,” is more correctly translated as, “Since you are the Son of God…”
“Since you are the Son of God, go ahead and use your power to change these stones into bread” (The Lust of the Flesh).
After 40 days without nutrients, the flesh is screaming for food. The temptation for Jesus to use His power as God and turn one of these large, round, Judean stones—into hot bread, must have been great. Jesus would not use His power to satisfy His flesh by changing the stones to bread, in order to feed His human need for food. Jesus would submit Himself to the Father and prevail in the course that He had determined to go through. All of this was so that He could be our Savior and undergo all of the same trials and temptations that we will experience as human beings. Jesus understands what it is like to be you, because He went through everything that you will go through in your life. This is why He is able to have compassion on you when you are suffering. Jesus was tempted, and He suffered; and yet, He did not sin nor turn His trust away from God.
For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. —Hebrews 4:15
Second Temptation: The Lust of the Eyes
Then the devil took Jesus up into the holy city, set Him on the pinnacle of the temple, and said to Him, “Since You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down. For it is written: ‘God shall give His angels charge over you,’ and, ‘In their hands they will bear you up, Lest you dash your foot against a stone.’ ” Jesus said to him, “It is written again, ‘You shall not tempt the LORD your God.’ ” —Matthew 4:5-7 (RCR)
It is interesting that in the account of this event, Matthew describes satan as bringing Jesus “up into the holy city.” Then he says that satan “set Him on the pinnacle of the temple.” Apparently, Jesus allowed satan to carry Him to the top of the temple. The purpose of this action by satan, was to bring Jesus to a place where He could observe, with His eyes, the majesty of the temple and the city of Jerusalem. In the emotion of that moment, as Jesus gazed out onto all that was before Him, satan again tempts Jesus to demonstrate His power as God, by jumping off the temple pinnacle and be unharmed. According to Psalm 91:12, God will give His angels charge over the Messiah, to protect Him.
For He shall give His angels charge over you, To keep you in all your ways. In their hands they shall bear you up, Lest you dash your foot against a stone. 12 You shall tread upon the lion and the cobra. —Psalm 91:11-12
An added element to satan’s tactics is the use of the word of God, to justify using this power: “For it is written: ‘God shall give His angels charge over you,’ and, ‘In their hands they shall bear you up, Lest you dash your foot against a stone.’ ” Jesus corrects satan’s misuse of God’s word and rightly states the correct application of scripture for this situation: “You shall not tempt the LORD your God.” This, a reminder to satan that God is still LORD over all his actions; and that whatever satan does, he does so by God’s sovereign will, for His own purposes.
Although satan quotes Psalm 91:11 and part of verse 12, in applying to Jesus as the Messiah, the object of David’s Psalm, apparently he forgot to read the rest of this verse where the Messiah: “shall tread upon the cobra and crush his head.”
Third Temptation: The Pride of Life
Again, the satan took Jesus up on an exceedingly high mountain, and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. And he said to Him, “All these things I will give You if You will fall down and worship me.” Then Jesus said to him, “Away with you, Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the LORD your God, and Him only you shall serve.’ ” Then the devil departed, and the angels came and ministered to Him. —Matthew 4:8-11(RCR)
The authority to rule over the earth is claimed by satan
In Luke’s gospel, he records this event as the second that occurred; Matthew records it as the third event. Luke also adds the detail that satan said to Jesus: “All this authority I will give You, and their glory; for this has been delivered to me, and I give it to whomever I wish.”
Then the devil, taking Him up on a high mountain, showed Him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time. And the devil said to Him, “All this authority I will give You, and their glory; for this has been delivered to me, and I give it to whomever I wish. Therefore, if You will worship before me, all will be Yours.” And Jesus answered and said to him, “Get behind Me, Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the LORD your God, and Him only you shall serve.’ ” —Luke 4:5-8
Finally, the opportunity that is presented by satan, to Jesus: He can have all of the glory and power right now, without going through the pain and suffering of the cross—if Jesus will only bow in worship to satan.
There is a claim made here by satan, in Luke 4:6, that he has the right of rule over all the kingdoms of the world (this has been delivered to me, and I give it to whomever I wish). Notice that nowhere does Jesus dispute this fact that satan has the current right of rulership. Jesus only argues that worship and adoration belong to the living and eternal God, not to any of His creatures.
This fact being true, it answers the question: “If there is an all-loving God, why does He permit so much suffering?”
The answer is that satan has won the right to exercise rulership over the earth—having received it from Adam, back in the Garden of Eden. Adam was given this dominion; and under his righteous leadership, there was no pain or suffering in the world. When satan deceived Eve and Adam disobeyed God, he lost this right of rulership to satan. Every since that time, the world has been under the dominion of satan, who is called “the god of this age.” This is the primary reason that the world is filled with evil and violence; this is what the world looks like when it is ruled by satan.
This dominion by satan is limited by God; otherwise, satan would murder every person on the earth.
God is sovereign over all of the affairs of men. All kings and kingdoms are placed where they are, for God’s own purposes. The lesson of this truth was hard learned by one of the most powerful kings the world has ever known: Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon.
Nebuchadnezzar was the most powerful man in the entire world during that period of history. At one point, He began to think that all of his power, and his vast kingdom, came about as a result of his efforts and wisdom. God sent Daniel to Nebuchadnezzar to inform him that the kingdom which he had received—came to him by God. It is the Lord who places men in positions of leadership, not other men.
…The Most High rules in the kingdom of men, Gives it to whomever He will, And sets over it the lowest of men. —Daniel 4:17
God instructs Daniel to inform Nebuchadnezzar, that as a result of his pride and public declaration that the entire kingdom of Babylon came about by his own power; Nebuchadnezzar will be driven into the fields of Babylon where he will lose his mind and eat grass like an animal. This condition would last for a period of seven years—until Nebuchadnezzar acknowledged that God rules over all the kingdoms of men and gives this power to whomever He choses.
They shall drive you (Nebuchadnezzar) from men, your dwelling shall be with the beasts of the field, and they shall make you eat grass like oxen. They shall wet you with the dew of heaven, and seven times shall pass over you, till you know that the Most High rules in the kingdom of men, and gives it to whomever He chooses. —Daniel 4:25
This same principle is echoed by Paul in the New Testament:
Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God. —Romans 13:1
Men are influenced by evil, with the source of all evil coming from satan. Because men will not submit their lives to the true and living God, they are under the dominion of satan’s kingdom. There are only two kingdoms in the universe: the kingdom of light, under God; and the kingdom of darkness, under satan. Every person is serving under one of these two kingdoms whether by choice or by indecision. This is what the Bible teaches, and the reality of this truth is demonstrated by the condition of human society. We see the evidence of evil as the preeminent fact of human life all over the face of the earth. Mankind, for the most part, is under this dominion of satan; and follows his evil plans for the destruction of all people.
We know that we are of God, and the whole world lies under the sway of the wicked one. —1 John 5:19
It is not God’s fault that there is so much suffering in the world today. It is man’s fault. Before we blame Adam for all of the suffering in the world, we must look at ourselves and ask the question: “Am I fully surrendered to God’s will in my own life?” Are we living lives of righteousness as required by God? It is a fact that much of the suffering that takes place in the world today is caused by people.
Why would we imagine that a truly loving God would deprive those whom He has created, the right of self-determination and free will? It would not be loving nor fair for God to force men to obey Him in this present dispensation of Grace. Today, men have the free choice to serve God. Until Jesus returns to set up His kingdom on the earth, the freedom of choice will continue. The option to commit evil is the fault of those who perpetrate that evil, not God who gives men the right to choose.
We live during an unprecedented period of history in the universe. For a brief time, God allows some of His creation to rebel against Him. In every other corner of the universe, all of creation is already in submission to God and does all that He requires. We have been given the supreme gift of choosing our eternal destiny. God has provided a choice—the decision is ours. If we choose wisely, we will spend eternity in eternal peace and joy. If we choose poorly, we will have no one to blame for our incredulity, except ourselves.
Forever, O LORD, Your word is settled in heaven. —Psalms 119:89
Those who will submit their life to Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior have the assurance in the word of God that when they die, they will have heaven as their home. This is because Jesus has already fully paid for all of our sins, and has taken the penalty that we deserve. Once we have exercised our option to submit our lives to Jesus’ authority and believe in Him for our salvation, we have passed from the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of light. The kingdom of light will be ruled forever, by the Messiah, King Jesus.
 Expositors Bible Commentary: Eden” is used often in the Scriptures to refer to the Paradise described in Genesis 1- 3. “Eden” clearly is used also as a simile to portray the splendor of a given geographical area, like the Jordan Valley viewed by Lot in Genesis 13: 10.
 Jesus speaking to the Chief Priest and the Pharisees of Israel: You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it. John 8:44
 Shelton, Herbert, The Science and Fine Art of Fasting, American Natural Hygiene Society, Incorporate; 5th edition (August 1978)
Categories: Robert Clifton Robinson