It Is Finished
Heaven beheld as Jesus was betrayed into the hands of the murderous mob,
and with mockery and violence hurried from one tribunal to another.
Angels heard the sneers of His persecutors because of His lowly birth.
They heard the denial with cursing and swearing by one of His best-loved disciples.
All of heaven saw the frenzied work of Satan, and his power over the hearts of men.
Imagine this terrible scene...
The Savior seized at midnight in Gethsemane,
dragged to and fro from palace to judgment hall,
arraigned twice before the priests,
twice before the Sanhedrin,
twice before Pilate,
and once before Herod,
and led out to be crucified,
bearing the heavy burden of the cross,
amid the wailing of the daughters of Jerusalem and the jeering of the crowd.
Heaven viewed with grief and amazement Christ hanging upon the cross,
blood flowing from His wounded temples,
and sweat tinged with blood standing upon His brow.
From His hands and feet the blood fell,
drop by drop,
upon the rock drilled for the foot of the cross.
The wounds made by the nails gaped as the weight of His body dragged upon His hands.
His labored breath grew quick and deep,
as His soul panted under the burden of the sins of the world.
All heaven was filled with wonder when the prayer of Christ was offered in the midst of His terrible suffering,
—“Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.” Luke 23:34.
Yet there stood men,
formed in the image of God,
joining to crush out the life of His one and only Son.
What a sight for the heavenly universe!
(Inspired by The Desire of Ages)
Lucifer had been originally an angel of light.
“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.
- Ezekiel 28:12-15
Lucifer was cast out of heaven because he desired to be God.
“How you are fallen from heaven,
O Lucifer, son of the morning!
How you are cut down to the ground,
You who weakened the nations!
For you have said in your heart:
‘I will ascend into heaven,
I will exalt my throne above the stars of God;
I will also sit on the mount of the congregation
On the farthest sides of the north;
I will ascend above the heights of the clouds,
I will be like the Most High.’
Yet you shall be brought down to Sheol,
To the lowest depths of the Pit.
- Isaiah 14:12-15 NKJV
Lucifer, started a rebellion in heaven. He wanted to be God. Lucifer believed that he could do a better job than what God was doing.
And war broke out in heaven: Michael and his angels fought with the dragon; and the dragon and his angels fought, but they did not prevail, nor was a place found for them in heaven any longer. So the great dragon was cast out, that serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was cast to the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.
- Revelation 12:7-9 NKJV (bold mine)
Not only did Satan start a rebellion, Revelation 12:7a tells us that "His tail drew a third of the stars of heaven and threw them to the earth." We understand that to mean that one third of the angels of heaven followed Satan in his rebellion against God.
Satan had been so crafty with his lies that I believe it was not until the brutal death of Christ on the cross that the character of Satan was clearly revealed to the angels. The Satan's deceptions had been so masterful that even holy beings had not understood his principles. They had not clearly seen the nature of his rebellion.
I believe this is important because it helps paint a picture that aids our understanding of other parts of the story of redemption. For example, why did God no destroy Satan right-away? Why cast him to earth?
God could have destroyed Satan and the rebellious angels as easily as you can cast a pebble to the earth; but He did not do this. God was not going to crush a rebellion by force. Coercion is found only under Satan's government. God's principles are very different. His authority rests upon goodness, mercy, and love; and the presentation of these principles is the means He uses. God's government is moral, and truth and love are to be the prevailing power.
If God simply crushed Satan and his followers He would have proved Satan right. God would have forever appeared to be a despot instead of a loving God. The whole universe would have followed God out of fear of being destroyed and the angels would have forever wondered if Lucifer really would have been a better ruler.
Satan came to earth and tempted Adam and Eve, and when they fell, they chose Satan over God. Now the universe would watch and see the outcome of Satan's style of leadership.
Aleister Crowley, an occultist from the early 1900, claims that "Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law."
I really don't want to chase that rabbit into the occult and satanism, etc. I did a bit of research on it and decided to stop because some things I really prefer to not expose myself to. I mention this just to point out that this law is diametrically opposed to God's law which can be summed up in love God above everything else and your neighbor as yourself. (Matthew 22:34-40)
God's law is focused on others while Satan's is focused on self. God says "If you love me keep my commandments" (John 14:15) Satan says "Do what you want."
Another way of describing this is God has a law, and Satan is against the law.
Think of a western movie where you have the sheriff who is the law, and the outlaws.
Being an outlaw can seem fun, even harmless. Do what you want doesn't seem like an evil way to live one's life. So you can see why Satan would have gained a following, and why many others who did not follow him might still have wondered if maybe Satan was not that bad of an angel, maybe he was on to something.
How we view God
Many seem to view God as harsh, old fashioned, stern, all powerful being who can't wait to zap those who disobey His will. Satan has done a good job spreading his views of God. Sadly he seems to have used the church in many occasions to misrepresent God and turn many away form Him. Causing many humans to believe that they can indeed be much happier living without God, living as if God did not exist, just doing whatever makes them happy.
God had revealed Who He was in the Old Testament. His grace, His mercy, His patience, its all there. But that was not enough. Jesus' life on earth is the greatest revelation we have ever seen of who God is.
Through Jesus, God's mercy was manifested to men. Jesus was the Word of God made flesh (John 1:14). Jesus lived a perfect life, a life of perfect obedience to the law of God, though He was tempted like us, Jesus never sinned (Hebrews 4:15 [more verses about Jesus' sinlessness]). If Jesus never sinned, that means he never broke the law (1 John 3:4). In living a perfect life Jesus was nothing like the religious leaders of His time. In living a life that followed the will of God in every aspect with perfection Jesus was not an unpleasant person, rather the opposite, children wanted to be with Him and multitudes followed Him. Jesus brought life and healing and clarity regarding the will of God. Jesus revealed not only the true character of God, but also what a perfect life of obedience looked like, not something terrible, but rather the greatest blessing this world had ever seen.
Relating to the Law
Nevertheless, mercy does not set aside justice. The law reveals the attributes of God's character, and not a jot or tittle of it could be changed (Matthew 5:18) to meet humanity in its fallen condition.
God did not change His law, but He sacrificed Himself, in Christ, for man's redemption. “God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto Himself.” 2 Corinthians 5:19.
I believe everyone understands that the law requires righteousness,—a righteous life, a perfect character; and we humans cannot offer this to God, because we have all sinned (Romans 3:23). We are unable to meet the claims of God's holy law.
But Christ, coming to the earth as man, lived a holy life, and developed a perfect character. These He offers as a free gift to all who will receive them. His life stands for the life of men.
The Desire of Ages page 762
This is how our past sins are forgiven, thanks to God's patience. More than this, Christ imbues us with the attributes of God. He builds up our human character to become more and more like His divine character, full of spiritual strength and beauty. This is how the very righteousness of the law is fulfilled in the believer in Christ. God can “be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.” Romans 3:26.
I find it amazing how God's love can be been expressed in His justice just like in His mercy. Justice is the foundation of God's government, it is also the fruit of His love. Satan tried to separate mercy from truth and justice. Satan sought to prove that the righteousness of God's law is an enemy to peace and happiness. But Christ shows us that in God's plan justice and mercy are inseparable, the one cannot exist without the other.
“Mercy and truth are met together; righteousness and peace have kissed each other.”
Justice and Mercy
By His life and His death, Jesus proved once and for all that God's justice did not destroy His mercy. Jesus also made it clear that sin could be forgiven, and that the law is righteous, and can be perfectly obeyed. Satan's charges against God's government and character were refuted.
God had given man unmistakable evidence of His infinite love.
Satan, however, had one more trick up his sleeve. He would now proclaim that mercy destroyed justice, that the death of Christ did away with the Father's law.
The problem with this line of thought is that if it had it been possible for the law to be changed or repealed, then Christ did not have to die. We have a whole post on how Jesus prayed to the Father asking if there was any other way, but there wasn't, so Jesus agreed to drink the cup (die on the cross for our sins). (Matthew 26:36-46)
The problem with doing away with the law is that doing so would immortalize transgression, and place the world forever under Satan's control. If the law was faulty in any way and needed to be changed somehow, it would prove Satan's claims that God's government was flawed and that he, Satan, would do a better job as God. It was exactly because the law was changeless, and because humanity could be saved only through obedience to its precepts, that Jesus was lifted up on the cross. Yet the very means by which Christ established the law Satan represented as destroying it. This is where we have last conflict of the great controversy between Christ and Satan.
The death of Jesus on the cross demonstrates that God's law is perfect and immutable.
The cross also made manifest the true nature of sin, revealing the true character of Satan.
At the cross the destruction of sin and Satan was forever made certain, the redemption of man was assured, and the universe was made eternally secure.
Christ Himself fully comprehended the results of the sacrifice made upon Calvary. To all these He looked forward when upon the cross He cried out, “It is finished.” (John 19:30)
Finally, at the end of time, the final destruction of sin will vindicate God's love and establish His honor before a universe of beings who delight to do His will, and in whose heart is His law.
Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. Also there was no more sea. Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.”
Then He who sat on the throne said, “Behold, I make all things new.” And He said to me,“Write, for these words are true and faithful.”
- Revelation 21:1-5 NKJV