Copyright 1994 - 2018 Bill's Bible Basics
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Published On :
April 9, 1998
Last Updated :
September 5, 2012
Jesus Is Under The Authority Of His Father, God The Father Is Greater Than Jesus Christ, Chain Of Command In Book Of Revelation, God The Father's Hierarchical Command Structure, Satan Serves As God's Prosecuting Attorney And Executor Of His Divine Will, Devil Is God Of This World, Satan: A Son Of God In Courts Of Heaven, Satan Challenges God To Remove His Hand Of Blessing From Job's Life, Accuser Of Our Brethren, Father Of Lies, Job's Afflictions And Stand Of Faith, No Man Hates His Own Flesh, Job Repents Of His Self-Righteousness And Pride, God Blesses Job Twice As Much As Before, Satan Fulfilled God's Will By Tempting King David To Conduct The Census, 70,000 Men Die As A Result Of David's Disobedience, Theory Regarding The Timing Of Psalm Twenty, Jesus Tempted By The Devil In The Wilderness, Jesus Was Made The Perfect Sacrifice Through His Human Temptations And Sufferings, All Of The Apostles Experienced God's Refining Process, Peter Is Sifted By Satan And Denies The Lord, Apostle Paul Buffeted By A Messenger Of Satan, Guardian Angels And Pesky Demons, Two Voices: God's Conviction And The Devil's Condemnation, How To Respond To Satan's Taunts, Fight The Good Fight Of Faith, Don't Let Satan Keep You Down, Accomplish God's Will For Your Life, Satan is God's Watch Dog, Closing Remarks
As I point out in articles such as "So You Really Think You Are So Humble?", there are a number of Scriptures in the New Testament which indicate that Jesus was under the Authority of His Father, and that He in fact took His orders from His Father. Stated another way, God the Father is greater than Jesus Christ. The Lord Himself informs us in the Gospel of John that without His Father's Permission and Anointing, He can do nothing, as we see here:
"Ye have heard how I said unto you, I go away, and come again unto you. If ye loved me, ye would rejoice, because I said, I go unto the Father: for my Father is greater than I."
John 14:28, KJV
"Then answered Jesus and said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do: for what things soever he doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise. For the Father loveth the Son, and sheweth him all things that himself doeth: and he will shew him greater works than these, that ye may marvel . . . I can of mine own self do nothing: as I hear, I judge: and my judgment is just; because I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent me."
John 5:19-20, 30, KJV
"My Father is greater than I." There is really no other way to interpret those words, is there? If one person is greater than another, then obviously, they cannot be exactly equal in status, or in their level of authority, can they? Taking into consideration verses such as these -- and there are more -- it is easy to understand how Jesus could create all things in the beginning, under the direct Supervision of His Father, precisely as the Apostle Paul wrote. Another example of the Heavenly chain of command can be found in the opening verse of the Book of Revelation, as we see here:
"The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him, to shew unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass; and he sent and signified it by his angel unto his servant John:"
Revelation 1:1, KJV
Here we see that God the Father gave the Revelation to His Son. Jesus then passed it to one of the Angels. The Angel then delivered the Revelation to the Apostle John. In turn, John wrote it down for the benefit of the Christian Churches which existed at that time, and for our own benefit as well. This is a very clear chain of command in the Heavenly Realm, as we can see by this simple graphic:
God the Father => Jesus => Angel => John => Churches
At this point, you may be wondering how this relates to our original question, and the census which was taken by David the king. Actually, it is all very related; because what we have demonstrated here is a hierarchical command structure. What we must also realize is that even the rebellious Angels are subject to God's Will, including Satan himself. This is where we can begin to understand exactly what is happening between the Lord, Satan and King David in these two verses from the Old Testament. From a human legal perspective, we can say that Satan serves as God's prosecuting attorney. He also serves as the executor of God's Divine Chastisements. Furthermore, as the Apostle Paul also reveals in this verse, the Devil is the god of this current world:
"In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them."
2 Corinthians 4:4, KJV
While some people may not be aware of this fact, depending upon how we choose to interpret the following verses, it appears that Satan either was -- or may still be -- allowed to enter into the Courts of Heaven. In fact, he is called a son of God, even though he is indeed a rebellious son of God. We find the following verses repeated several times in the Book of Job:
"Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan came also among them. And the LORD said unto Satan, Whence comest thou? Then Satan answered the LORD, and said, From going to and fro in the earth, and from walking up and down in it. And the LORD said unto Satan, Hast thou considered my servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God, and escheweth evil?"
Job 1:6-8, KJV
Here we see Satan communing with the other Angelic Beings before the Throne of God. If Satan wasn't still viewed as a son of God at the time that this event occurred, would he even be permitted to appear before the Throne of Almighty God? I imagine that what is happening in these verses is similar to how knights would present themselves before their king in the days of chivalry. At any rate, the Lord does not simply ignore Satan. Rather, He engages in conversation with him, and the topic of the Patriarch Job's loyalty enters the discussion. It is at this moment that Satan challenges the Lord with the following words:
"Then Satan answered the LORD, and said, Doth Job fear God for nought? Hast not thou made an hedge about him, and about his house, and about all that he hath on every side? thou hast blessed the work of his hands, and his substance is increased in the land. But put forth thine hand now, and touch all that he hath, and he will curse thee to thy face. And the LORD said unto Satan, Behold, all that he hath is in thy power; only upon himself put not forth thine hand. So Satan went forth from the presence of the LORD."
Job 1:9-12, KJV
As you can see, Satan is basically making the accusation that the only reason why Job is so loyal and obedient, is because God has blessed him materially. As we discovered in part two, in the Book of Revelation, that old, lying serpent is called "the accuser of our brethren". Furthermore, in the Gospel of John, Jesus outright calls him the Father of Lies, as we see by this verse:
"Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it."
John 8:44, KJV
Having made his accusation against Job, Satan then dares the Lord to remove His blessings from Job's life. Surely Job is such an opportunist, that the minute tragedy befalls him, he will curse God to His face; at least so the Devil foolishly believes. Notice what happens next. God does not personally undertake this action against Job. Rather, He gives Satan permission and the authority to touch Job's possessions and wealth. However, as you may know if you are familiar with the Book of Job, despite everything that befalls him, loyal Job does not budge in his faithfulness to the Lord. Tragedy -- while it certainly brings down Job and causes him a lot of grief -- does not make him abandon his faith in God.
For his part, due to his own pride, the Devil is not about to admit defeat so easily in the Heavenly Courtroom. This is a very tough case, but the prosecuting attorney still has other tricks up his serpentine sleeve. It is at this point that the Devil determines that more drastic measures are required if he is to really defeat Job. Thus, as we see by the following verses, Satan requests a second audience with the Lord, where he is granted permission to physically afflict poor Job's flesh:
"And Satan answered the LORD, and said, Skin for skin, yea, all that a man hath will he give for his life. But put forth thine hand now, and touch his bone and his flesh, and he will curse thee to thy face. And the LORD said unto Satan, Behold, he is in thine hand; but save his life. So went Satan forth from the presence of the LORD, and smote Job with sore boils from the sole of his foot unto his crown."
Job 2:4-7, KJV
As you can see, this time when Satan challenges the Lord, he claims that a man will do anything to save his own life. Of course, he is in fact right. In many cases, some people will save their own skin, before they will think about trying to save someone else. As the Apostle Paul likewise wrote in his Epistle to the Ephesians:
"For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church:"
Ephesians 5:29, KJV
So, Satan basically tells the Lord, "Alright, I went easy on Job. Just let me actually discomfort his flesh, and watch how fast he turns on You and curses You to Your face." As we saw during the previous audience, once again God does not afflict Job directly. Rather, He grants Satan permission to torment Job's flesh. However, there is one important caveat: He must not actually kill Job.
The rest of the Book of Job details the conversations which occurred between Job and the Lord, as well as with his wife -- who mocks him and tells him to just curse God and die -- and with his three friends -- Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite and Zophar the Naamathite -- who also challenge Job's integrity. In the end, Job recognizes his pride and self-righteous attitude and repents of his sins. As a result, God blesses him twice as much as before, as is revealed by the following verses:
"And the LORD turned the captivity of Job, when he prayed for his friends: also the LORD gave Job twice as much as he had before. Then came there unto him all his brethren, and all his sisters, and all they that had been of his acquaintance before, and did eat bread with him in his house: and they bemoaned him, and comforted him over all the evil that the LORD had brought upon him: every man also gave him a piece of money, and every one an earring of gold. So the LORD blessed the latter end of Job more than his beginning: for he had fourteen thousand sheep, and six thousand camels, and a thousand yoke of oxen, and a thousand she asses. He had also seven sons and three daughters. And he called the name of the first, Jemima; and the name of the second, Kezia; and the name of the third, Kerenhappuch. And in all the land were no women found so fair as the daughters of Job: and their father gave them inheritance among their brethren. After this lived Job an hundred and forty years, and saw his sons, and his sons' sons, even four generations. So Job died, being old and full of days."
Job 42:10-17, KJV
The key lesson from this story which applies to our current discussion regarding King David's sin, is that God did not intervene directly in Job's life. Rather, as He has done on many occasions down through time, He used Satan both as His prosecutor and executor of His Divine Will. Although he is a rebellious Angel, nevertheless, Satan is still bound by the command structure, laws and restrictions of God's Celestial Government. This is quite evident from the story of Job. As James writes in his Epistle:
"Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble."
James 2:19, KJV
Thus, it is my belief that when the verse says that the Lord moved against David to conduct a census, it may really mean that God gave Satan permission to influence David's thoughts and heart. It is my view that this is why we are told in the second verse that Satan stood up against Israel and provoked David to conduct the census. In other words, the first verse informs us that it was the Lord who was moving against King David; and the second verse explains to us exactly how God moved against the king, just as He had done when He gave the Devil permission to afflict Job. While this is just a theory, it would seem to be in agreement with God's modus operandi, or method of operation.
To reiterate, Satan was operating under the authority of the Lord as the executor of His Divine Will. Because of David's pride, vanity, self-confidence and haughtiness, God used the Devil to chastise him and knock him down a few notches, and to remind the king in a very clear way that God alone was the true source of his power and victory over his enemies. Sadly, as the following verses reveal, this turned out to be a very expensive lesson for King David to learn. As a result of the king's disobedience in instructing Joab to conduct the census -- even though Joab and the other army captains were against the idea of conducting the census -- 70,000 men were slain:
"And David's heart smote him after that he had numbered the people. And David said unto the LORD, I have sinned greatly in that I have done: and now, I beseech thee, O LORD, take away the iniquity of thy servant; for I have done very foolishly. For when David was up in the morning, the word of the LORD came unto the prophet Gad, David's seer, saying, Go and say unto David, Thus saith the LORD, I offer thee three things; choose thee one of them, that I may do it unto thee. So Gad came to David, and told him, and said unto him, Shall seven years of famine come unto thee in thy land? or wilt thou flee three months before thine enemies, while they pursue thee? or that there be three days' pestilence in thy land? now advise, and see what answer I shall return to him that sent me. And David said unto Gad, I am in a great strait: let us fall now into the hand of the LORD; for his mercies are great: and let me not fall into the hand of man. So the LORD sent a pestilence upon Israel from the morning even to the time appointed: and there died of the people from Dan even to Beersheba seventy thousand men."
2 Samuel 24:9-15, KJV
While there is no clear indication regarding when it was actually written, I have wondered if Psalm Twenty may have been composed by David sometime after the previous tragedy. In part one of this series, I shared verse seven from this Psalm with you. Here it is again for your consideration:
"Some trust in chariots, and some in horses: but we will remember the name of the LORD our God."
Psalms 20:7, KJV
However, if we go back one verse, we are given a suggestion that David may have said this in his song because something occurred which influenced his thoughts. Notice in particular that the king writes "Now know I that the LORD saveth his anointed". Is it possible that King David now realized this because he had just lost 70,000 of his best fighting men to a terrible plague?:
"Now know I that the LORD saveth his anointed; he will hear him from his holy heaven with the saving strength of his right hand. Some trust in chariots, and some in horses: but we will remember the name of the LORD our God."
Psalms 20:6-7, KJV
We find other examples in the Scriptures where God likewise used Satan in this very same fashion; that is, to both test, strengthen and even purge His children. Primary among these is Jesus' own earthly Ministry. As you will no doubt recall, God allowed Satan to test Jesus during His forty days in the wilderness, as we see by the following verses:
"Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil. And when he had fasted forty days and forty nights, he was afterward an hungred. And when the tempter came to him, he said, If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread. But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God. Then the devil taketh him up into the holy city, and setteth him on a pinnacle of the temple, And saith unto him, If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down: for it is written, He shall give his angels charge concerning thee: and in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone. Jesus said unto him, It is written again, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God. Again, the devil taketh him up into an exceeding high mountain, and sheweth him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them; And saith unto him, All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me. Then saith Jesus unto him, Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve. Then the devil leaveth him, and, behold, angels came and ministered unto him."
Matthew 4:1-11, KJV
Please notice that we are specifically told that Jesus was "led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil". Clearly then, this was a part of God's plan for His Son. God the Father tested Jesus' mettle. As I explain in a number of other articles, in order to make the Perfect Sacrifice, Jesus had to be tempted in like manner as we are; and He had to resist that temptation. He had to prove His love and loyalty to the Father. Thus we read the following in the Epistle to the Hebrews:
"For verily he took not on him the nature of angels; but he took on him the seed of Abraham. Wherefore in all things it behoved him to be made like unto his brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people. For in that he himself hath suffered being tempted, he is able to succour them that are tempted."
Hebrews 2:16-18, KJV
"Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession. For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin."
Hebrews 4:14-15, KJV
All of the Apostles likewise experienced the same refining process. Let us not forget that as per Jesus' own words, all of them abandoned the Lord on the night of His betrayal by Judas in the Garden of Gethsemane. Furthermore, we are told that they likewise hid themselves in a cowardly fashion in a sealed room, as a result of their fear of the Jewish elders. Consider the following verses:
"Then saith Jesus unto them, All ye shall be offended because of me this night: for it is written, I will smite the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock shall be scattered abroad. But after I am risen again, I will go before you into Galilee. Peter answered and said unto him, Though all men shall be offended because of thee, yet will I never be offended. Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, That this night, before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice. Peter said unto him, Though I should die with thee, yet will I not deny thee. Likewise also said all the disciples . . . Then all the disciples forsook him, and fled."
Matthew 26:31-35, 56b, KJV
"Then the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled for fear of the Jews, came Jesus and stood in the midst, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you . . . And after eight days again his disciples were within, and Thomas with them: then came Jesus, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, Peace be unto you."
John 20:19, 26, KJV
As I explain in the article entitled "Peter: Faith Tried in the Fire", being as he was to become one of the key pillars in the Early Church, the Lord warned the Apostle Peter that the Devil was out to get him, and was trying to sift him like wheat. In fact, Jesus outright told Peter that he would soon fall, as we see by the following verses:
"And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat: But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren. And he said unto him, Lord, I am ready to go with thee, both into prison, and to death. And he said, I tell thee, Peter, the cock shall not crow this day, before that thou shalt thrice deny that thou knowest me."
Luke 22:31-34, KJV
As I explain in such series as "Why Doesn't God Heal Me?", even the Apostle Paul informs us that the Lord permitted a messenger of Satan to constantly harass him and to keep him in a humble state before the Lord. Consider these verses:
"And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure. For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong."
2 Corinthians 12:7-10, KJV
While some people may scoff at the notion of Guardian Angels and little demons on our shoulders, as we can see, there is indeed Scriptural proof to validate such spiritual realities. We all have our Angel, as well as our demon. The still, small voice which encourages us and inspires us to do what is right is the Lord's Spirit; while the harsh voice that constantly criticizes us, condemns us and puts us down, is the voice of Satan; or at least one of his many minions. God sometimes uses His Spirit to point out our errors in order to convict our hearts, but it is for the purpose of helping us to make improvements in our lives. It is not to condemn us.
In contrast, Satan will only paint a very negative picture. He will tell us that we are hopeless, that we are just dirty rotten sinners, and that we are useless to the Lord's Work. If this happens to you, don't you believe it for one minute! Please know that the Lord loves you very much. Furthermore, He wants to use you for His service if you will allow Him to. When that negative voice speaks to your heart, just agree and shout, "Yes, you are absolutely right! I am a terrible mess!" Respond to Satan's wicked taunts by singing "Jesus loves me this I know, for the Bible tells me so. Little ones to Him belong, we are weak but He is strong!" Remember this verse as well:
". . . The Lord rebuke thee!"
Jude 9, KJV
Instead of wallowing in the mire of our own sins, we need to humbly confess our dismal state, and claim the Lord's Mercy on our lives. We need to stand up and be fighters for Jesus. Being as he was quite the fighter himself, the Apostle Paul had a number of things to say regarding being fighters for the Lord. Consider the following verses:
"Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses."
1 Timothy 6:12, KJV
"Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier."
2 Timothy 2:3-4, KJV
"Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places."
Ephesians 6:10-12, KJV
Satan does his best to keep us down, because he knows that once we get on our feet and start fighting with the Sword of the Spirit -- that is, the Word of God -- he is in trouble. If there is one thing that he does not want us doing, it is sharing our faith with others and winning new souls for the glory of God's Kingdom. Of course, not everyone is a great soul-winner. Perhaps your particular ministry and calling is something else. Whatever it happens to be, Satan will try to keep you so bogged down in your sins, that you will never accomplish anything for the Lord. Is that what you want?
In conclusion, as we have seen, while Satan has indeed turned against the Lord, nevertheless, God still has him on a leash. Furthermore, God uses that old snake as a sort of prosecutor and executor of His Divine Will. He allows him to nip at our heels and keep us in line. As we have also learned through the example of King David, if we disobey God or displease Him in some way, we may temporarily fall outside of the aura of His Divine Protection, in which case Satan and his demons may be permitted to test and tempt us, and perhaps even cause us bodily harm -- as in the case of the Patriarch Job -- until we realize our error, repent, and call out to the Lord for His forgiveness and help. I discuss this same topic more at length in such articles as "Beholding the Evil and the Good".
In addition to the aforementioned lessons, I hope that you have learned how to recognize alleged contradictions in God's Word, as well as how to properly study the Sacred Scriptures. To reiterate, rather than lean to our own understanding, we need to take the time to more thoroughly search God's Word, and compare Scripture with Scripture, so that we can arrive at the truth. We need to rightly divide the Word of Truth, and correctly interpret the Scriptures. Furthermore, as I mentioned in part one, we all need to ask the Lord for His Wisdom and Spiritual Discernment, so that we may be led by His Spirit in our understanding.
If we rely solely upon our own understanding and wisdom, we are bound to make mistakes as we read and study God's Word. We may even find imaginary contradictions, as many atheists and God haters tend to do. They have even published books regarding such matters. God will send us strong delusion if that is what we want. As I mentioned in part one, outside of a few numerical errors, most of these contradictions -- if not all of them -- only exist in their own stubborn hearts and minds.
With these thoughts I will bring this series to a close. I hope that you have found it informative, and I pray that it has been a blessing and an inspiration in your life. If you have enjoyed reading this series, please consider sharing its URL with your online friends. If you have an account with Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Tumblr, etc, I would also appreciate if you would take the time to click on the corresponding link that is found on this page. Thanks so much, and may God bless you abundantly!
For additional information and further study, you may want to refer to the list of reading resources below which were also mentioned in this series, or which are related to the topics which were discussed in this series. All of them are also located on this very same Bill's Bible Basics website:
Beholding the Evil and the Good
Do You Want Love and Light, or Rod and Wrath?
Free Will and Personal Choice
Job and the Land of Uz
Nephilim: The Giants of Genesis
Peter: Faith Tried in the Fire
Revelation's Babylon the Great
Satan: His Origin, Purpose and Future
Sex, a Bowl of Soup and the Nature of Angels
So You Really Think You Are So Humble?
Study, Work and Don't Be Ashamed
The Battle is Not Yours Alone!
The Book of Enoch: Truth or Heresy?
The Children of God and Politics
The Fruits of Disobedience
The Judgement of Angels, Demons and Men
The Lord Will Lift You Up!
The Only Credentials You Need!
The Wisdom of God Versus the Philosophy of Men
Why Doesn't God Heal Me?