Widescreen view of the history of the ages, as though on one screen.
This view starts in the distant past, with Eternity.
Eternity is a mystery that our human minds, anchored as we are in time, cannot grasp, just as human ears cannot grasp the pitch of ultra sound (though animals like dogs can hear it), nor human eyes the color of ultra violet (which birds can see).
Being limited to the experience of time, we will call this: Eternity Past - Eternity before God created the heavens and the earth. The Bible simply calls it "the beginning".
In the beginning, there was God.
The Bible book of beginnings, Genesis, uses the plural word Elohim to designate God. Thus, in the very first verses, God Who inspired the Bible gives us a hint that He is a plural unity. (Later, the New Testament revelation shows that He is One God in Three Persons - a tri-unity, which Bible scholars refer to as The Trinity. Although the word Trinity does not occur in the Bible, it is a convenient and accurate shorthand for what the Bible clearly shows to be the tri-unty of God.)
In Genesis, the plurality in God is more strongly expressed by the first person plural and singular pronouns in Genesis 1:26-27,
Genesis 1:26 And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.
27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.
Three verses later, the Genesis account uses the first person singular pronoun.
Genesis 29 And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; ...
Some say that the plural usage in verse 26 was the plural of majesty (the "royal We"). If that were the case, then why is the royal We not used in verse 29?
This pair of verses is the first indication in Scripture that God is a Unity of Being in a Plurality of Persons, as would be expected if God is Tri-Une.
Bible study usually begins with the creation of heaven and earth, followed by the creation, temptation and fall of man (Genesis 1 to 3). But, it is not possible to fully grasp the origin of the tempter (Genesis 3), nor the place, purpose and destiny of man unless we are informed about an earlier order of created spirit beings, the angels, their origin, place, nature, office, and purpose ... and the fall of a significant minority of them. This information is necessary because it was through one of them, a fallen and cast-out angel, that man was tempted to sin against his Creator. This fallen angel was named Lucifer (his proper name), and came to be known after his rebellion as Satan (Adversary), referring to what he became, the great Adversary of God and man. He is also referred to as the Devil (Accuser), the Old Serpent, and the Dragon (Revelation 12:9-10, and Revelation 20:2).
This first human sin, triggered by Satan, was the beginning of the ruin of mankind. This ruin made necessary the great Eternal Sacrifice, God's Plan of Redemption, which is the central message, the "hot focus", of the Bible.
That is why, in this CinemaScopic View, we will briefly outline the origin of the angels and the fall of a significant minority of them before going on to outline the fall of man.
Creation of Angels
In His first work of creation, the Tri-Une God created a number of orders of supernatural spirit beings. We say "supernatural", because they are above the order of the Nature that we see all around us. The Bible refers to the different orders of spirit beings as cherubim (Genesis 3:24, Ezekiel 10:1), seraphim (Isaiah 6:2,6), the archangel (1 Thessalonians 4:16; Jude verse 9), angels (numerous references), and many other orders of spiritual beings (the thrones, dominions, principalities, and powers referred to in Romans 8:38; Ephesians 3:10; and Colossians 1:16 ).
In the creation of the angelic hosts, we see the longing of God's heart revealed. God is love, and love was the first cause and purpose of creation.
When God created the angels, what God desired was ...
- a perfect company with many of God's attributes:
- with the intelligence to understand His creation and His love
- with the power to act and to communicate
- with the power of choice, who would choose to be in harmony with His perfect will
- who would love Him with a perfect love
- and be like Him in character and with Him in intimacy throughout a perfect eternity.
God created the angelic hosts as a perfect company of spirit beings, with the attributes mentioned above.
But amazingly, the harmony of Heaven was broken! The eternal purpose of the Creator's Will was violated and seemingly thwarted by a creature's will!
Fall of Angels
Lucifer was one of the highest of the angelic spirit beings (Isaiah 14:12). He was called "the anointed cherub that covereth" (Ezekiel 28:14). From what has been attributed to him in these two passages, we could surmise that he was one of the ruling angels (archangels). (Note that the only angel named as archangel in the Bible, is Michael, the warrior archangel, who is also the prince-guardian of Israel - see Daniel 10:13, 21; Daniel 12:1; Jude 9; Revelation 12:7. But, since archangel means "ruling angel", and Lucifer was "the anointed cherub that covereth", it can safely be deduced that he too was an archangel.) From the Ezekiel passage, we can also surmise that Lucifer was the worship leader of heaven, with the capacity of producing music built into him ("... the workmanship of thy tabrets and of thy pipes was prepared in thee in the day that thou wast created." Ezekiel 28:13).
Filled with pride at his own beauty, giftings and brilliance, Lucifer resolved to exalt himself above God (Isaiah 14:13-14). This was rebellion (Ezekiel 28:14-17), all the more evil because of the perfection and wisdom with which Lucifer had been gifted by God. After his rebellion, Lucifer came to be known as Satan, which means, Adversary (1 Chronicles 21:1; Job 1 and Job 2; Matthew 4:10; Rev 12 and Rev 20; and many other scriptures).
Lucifer, the arch-rebel, persuaded many other angels to follow him.
It is surmised, because of the way that Revelation 12:4 expresses it ("And his tail drew the third part of the stars of heaven, and did cast them to the earth"), that a third of the angels joined his rebellion. Jesus saw Satan falling from heaven like lightning (Luke 10:18).
Though a finite creature of God, Satan has been and will continue to be, the greatest adversary of God and man, till God puts an end to his evil plans and manoeuverings by throwing him eternally into the lake of fire (Revelation 20).
The fall of the angels opens up great "mysteries" ... facts which cannot be known except by revelation:
- The mystery of the creation of angels (intelligent spirit beings) prior to the creation of man.
- The mystery of godliness (1 Timothy 3:16), existing in God and the Holy Angels who stayed loyal to God, prior to the creation of man.
- The mystery of iniquity (2 Thessalonians 2:7) brought into existence through the rebellion of a significant minority of angels, prior to the creation of man.
So, before God's perfect creation of man, there already existed evil, rebellion, discord in the universe - a universe spoken into being by the perfect Word of God, in the perfect will of God, for the perfect purposes of God, who is the very summit of perfection.
The mystery of godliness and the mystery of iniquity are themes that run like a red thread from the book of Genesis to the book of Revelation.
Creation of Man
We will see that the thread of gold that runs through the Bible is God's purpose of intimacy with the intelligent beings whom He created. We have seen that this was God's purpose in creating angels. We shall now see that this was also His goal in creating mankind.
After the rebellion of Satan and his angelic followers, God purposed another company He could share His intimate love with, and so He created Man (Genesis 1 and 2). God created Man in His image, after His likeness (Genesis 1:26). God is a trinity, and God created man as a trinity of spirit, soul and body (Genesis 2:7; 1 Thessalonians 5:23). (It is clear from Hebrews 4:12, that there is a distinction between soul and spirit, though they are as close together as bone and marrow.)
When God created man, what God had desired was ...
- a perfect company with some of God's attributes (Genesis 17:1. Deuteronomy 18:13.)
- with the intelligence to understand His creation and His love
- with the power to act and to communicate
- with the power of choice, choosing to live in harmony with His perfect will (Psalms 18:30; 19:7)
- who would love Him with a perfect love (1 John 4:17-18),
- and be like Him in character and with Him in intimacy (2 Corinthians 13:11),
- throughout a perfect eternity (Ephesians 5:27).
So God resumed His purpose of intimate fellowship with a new and perfect company of intelligent creatures. He fellowshiped with our first parents in an even more tender way than with the angels. For example, the rebel Angel had declared, "I will ascend above the heights of the clouds." But in the garden of Eden, it was God Who came down, "walking in the garden in the cool of the day" (Genesis 3:8). God walked and talked with man whom He had made in His own image and likeness to enjoy the intimacy which so many of the angels had rebelliously forfeited.
After the creation of man, Satan hated Adam and Eve (whom God loved) and he continued his rebellion by tempting these new creatures to disobey God (Genesis 3:1-5).
Fall of Man
The Adversary entered the scene of Eden's beauty and God's companionship with man. Satan had one devilish intention - to break the fellowship between God and man. He tried to persuade Adam and Eve to disobey God's only commandment, which was that they mustn't eat of just one tree out of the great variety of trees in the orchard of Eden. Sadly, Adam and Eve let themselves be persuaded, and so sinned and joined the rebellion (Genesis 3:6).
When our first parents sinned, they were alienated (separated) from God (Genesis 3:8). Ever since then, Satan has been working to keep men out of fellowship with God.
When man became separated from God, he became vulnerable to the desires of his own flesh, to the evil moral influences that would be bred in society, and to the influence, control and power of Satan and the other fallen angels and demons.
Angels and demons have no bodies of flesh. But they are able to enter into and inhabit the bodies of human beings (Mark 5:8-13; Luke 8:29,32,33). They seek to inhabit people whenever possible so as to keep them in bondage. They can do this when, in ways that we will study elsewhere on this site, people given them rights of occupancy.
God's Rescue Plan
God's intimate relationship with angels was broken by angelic sin. God's more intimate relationship with man was broken by human sin. But God's eternal purpose was unchanged and unchangeable, just as His Eternal Being is unchanging and unchangeable.
Because of the terrible failure of the angels and of man, God purposed yet another company - a New Creation - created from the soil of mankind (just as mankind was created from the soil of the earth). God purposed a New Creation of "sons of God" who would eternally satisfy the longing of His heart.
God purposed this because He loved (and loves) man, yes, even sinful man, with an unfathomable love, a love greater than that which He had for the holy angels.
Jesus illustrates this in the parable of the Prodigal Son. The Father showed more love for the younger son who had left home and squandered his inheritance but had at last returned, than for the faithful elder son who never left home! In the same manner, God has expressed unsurpassably His love towards us men, than He has ever expressed towards the angels who never sinned! (See Luke 15:25-32.)
So God prepared an incredible way of escape for man, yes, for us. He first hinted at this in sentencing Satan in Genesis 3:15. And here's how he fulfilled His Promise.
He first chose a single man, Abraham, and made Promises to him, promises which He repeated to Abraham's son Isaac, and Isaac's son Jacob. From this family, He got Himself a people, the 12 tribes of Israel. (Israel was Jacob's God-given name . In the Bible, God alternately calls him Jacob or Israel). God considers the people of Israel His particular trophy.
Deuteronomy 32:9 For the LORD'S portion is his people; Jacob is the lot of his inheritance.
One of God's promises to Abraham was this:
Genesis 12:3 And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.
Genesis 22:18 And in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because thou hast obeyed my voice.
He fulfilled His promise in the garden of Eden, and His promise to Abraham, when He sent His Son, the second Person of the Trinity, to take on human flesh by being born as a baby of a Jewish virgin. (This is why Jesus is called her seed in Genesis 3:15. In all other places in the Bible, the word "seed" when used of human beings, refers to the seed of a man.) Jesus had to have a virgin birth, because His father was God Himself (Luke 1:35). Because Mary was a Jewish virgin, she was also Abraham's descendant, and so Jesus body was also derived from Abraham's seed.
By the way He lived, Jesus showed us the character of God, His power and His love.
And then in the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus drank the repugnant chalice of man's sin, taking on Himself man's Sin, man's Guilt, man's Penalty and man's Death. By His death on the Cross at Calvary, Jesus showed us the awfulness of sin, the wrath of God against sin, and the extraordinary love with which God loved us - a love so great that He was willing to take on Himself the punishment due to our sin.
Since Calvary, everyone who believes in Jesus (that is, trusts Him to save them by His death on the Cross) is released from the only wages that Satan ever pays his servants. They are not only released from eternal punishment but also receive from God the unmerited gift of eternal life!
For Jesus was God, yet man, God veiled in a robe of human flesh. And when the veil, that is His flesh, was torn (as the veil of the temple was torn, Matthew 27:51, Mark 15:38, Luke 23:45), and He cried "It is finished" (John 19:30), man was given the right to come face to face with God. No longer is there need for altar, priest, pope, earthly mediation or heavenly mediation other than Christ. The vilest sinner with a broken contrite heart may come boldly through the torn veil (through His Sacrificial Death, through His Shed Blood) and find a new and living way back to the heart of God (Hebrews 10:20). There that repentant sinner can live forever in that blessed and unending intimacy that God purposed in His great heart of love, even before the angels sang His praises, or the stars of heaven declared His glory!
Man getting back to God - and to all that he had from God - is the living heartbeat of the Messiah. He sacrificed His life in a most painful death, shedding every drop of His Blood, so that a company of hell-deserving sinners could be brought back into inseparable fellowship and communion with His own heart of love (Ephesians 2:7). The understanding of our heart needs to saturated with the wonderful realization of the Eternal Oneness between the Redeemer and His Redeemed People (Colossians 1:17, John 17:21-23).
Living, loving, comforting, strengthening intimacy with us, is God's desire for us. He wants to enjoy this intimacy with us moment by moment, day by day, in sunshine and shadow. Not only in worship services or solitary prayer, but in the kitchen, in the shop, in the school or college, at the office, at the factory, on the farm, in a restaurant, at the theater, in fact in every aspect of life. He wants us to feel His wondrous presence, to see His glory, to smell His sweet fragrance, to hear His voice above the confusion of a troubled world. He assures us, "I will never leave you nor forsake you", "... if I go to prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you unto myself." (Hebrews 13:5b, John 14:3.)
Jesus began His ministry by fulfilling the prophecy of Isaiah 61:1 (Luke 4:18), preaching the Good News of salvation, healing the sick, casting out demons, and demonstrating the power, wisdom and love of God towards us. He then told His disciples to do the same (Matthew 10:1,7,8).
Before ascending into heaven, Jesus gave His first disciples what became known as the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20; Mark 16:15-18, Acts 1:8).
In His Great Commission to His first disciples, He told them to make more disciples starting with Jews, and then going on to the gentile nations (non-Jews, referred to in the KJV New Testament as "the Greeks" or "the nations"), to baptize them, and to teach them to do the same things as the first disciples, namely, to preach the Good News to the Jews first and then to the gentiles, make them disciples, heal the sick, and cast out demons, and then to teach these these new disciples to repeat the cycle, and so on indefinitely, till His return (2 Timothy 2:2).
The Church in the New Testament Period
In the book of Acts, we see the believers begin to do just this. The apostles and their disciples (like Philip the evangelist in Acts 8), preached the Good News, healed the sick, and cast out demons. They started with the Jews (in Jerusalem and Judea, Acts 2 to 7) and the half-Jews of Samaria (Acts 8), and then God used Peter to open the door to the Gentiles (Acts 10 and 11). Then God appointed Paul as the apostle to the Gentiles (Romans 11:13, the "uncircumcision" of Galatians 2:7a), while Peter and the other original apostles continued their ministry to the Jews, (the "circumcision" of Galatians 2:7b.)
The Church as we see her today
This Commission was never rescinded. Consequently, the believers of today are also commissioned to preach the Good News, heal the sick, and cast out demons! To the Jew first, and then to the Gentiles (Romans 1:16).
Unfortunately, many believers and entire churches have lost sight of the fullness of the Great Commission. They fall short in two ways.
- For many centuries, the churches restricted themselves, for the most part, to giving the Good News to the Gentiles.
- They restrict themselves to just preaching the Good News about us being saved from eternal punishment. But the Good News is also about us enjoying abundant life on this earth (John 10:10) in freedom (John 8:32,36). Salvation includes not just forgiveness of sin, but also healing and deliverance, and it must come not just in words of man's wisdom (theology), but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power (1 Corinthians 2:4).
Here are some points vital for believers to know:
- When a person becomes a child of God by trusting Jesus for salvation, he or she is transplanted from the Kingdom of darkness to the Kingdom of God. A citizen of God's Kingdom belongs to God.. If a demon was present before conversion, he doesn't necessarily leave at conversion, but he does not possess the born again Christian. In fact, a born again Christian cannot be possessed by a demon, but the territory of his life can certainly be occupied or oppressed. In short, a born again Christian could be demonized and thus may need deliverance.
- Demons occupy territory through rights they have been given as a result of sin, unforgiveness, generational iniquity, etc. A vital part of the deliverance ministry is to recognize these rights and remove them.
- Generally speaking, deliverance ministry is only for Christians. That's because only born-again Christians can be filled with the Holy Spirit, and so be protected from the danger of re-infestation (Mathew 12:45, Luke 11:26).
- Born again Christians have been given Christ's authority over the powers of darkness (Luke 10:19, Mark 16:17, Acts 28:3-6), so believers are able to deliver people from demons, and the attacks of demons, just as Jesus did.
The Church as we expect her to be in the near future
The day is coming when God's Spirit will be poured out upon all flesh, Jew and Gentile, and every believer shall prophesy, shall see visions and have dreams from God, shall heal the sick and discern spirits and cast out demons, and be living demonstrations of the glory of God before He comes to take His sons into glory in the Rapture. (Joel 2:28-29. Acts 2:16-18. Habakkuk 2:14. Ephesians 5:27.)
This last outpouring of the Holy Spirit began in the early 20th century, and accelerated in the second half of that century. But it must be recognized that the Devil has counterfeited many aspects of that outpouring - Hence Jesus' warning "Take heed that you be not Deceived!" is applicable even more so today. when deception and delusion is so prevalent in the churches. See Wolf Scope, Mark Vickler, False Gospel (the teaching of Charles Finney!), and Joan Hunter (please discern her ministry)
How will it culminate?
Before going to the Cross, Jesus prayed for His disciples (all Jews) and those who would believe through them across the centuries (mostly gentiles). He prayed that they might be one as He is one with the Father, and would experience the glory that the Father had given Him.
John 17:20 Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word;
21 That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.
22 And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one:
23 I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me.
The greatest outpouring of the Holy Spirit manifested in the operation of all the gifts of the Spirit, and the greatest outpouring of the glory of God manifested in signs and wonders, angelic visitations and the appearance of the Shekinah glory, will occur when Jewish and Gentile believers become "one new man" and the middle wall of partition disappears altogether (Ephesians 2:14). This greatest outpouring will be without deception or delusion.
Then Jesus will be ready to rapture His glorious body, a body clothed with the glory given to Jesus, a body in which Jewish believers and Gentile believers express perfectly the unity of the body.
Then will follow the Tribulation in which the world will be ruled by the Beast (the anti-Christ, anti-Messiah). But even here Jews will have a central role to play.
Revelation 7 presents 144,000 Jews who are sealed on God's orders (Revelation 7:1-8). They will be 144,000 powerful evangelists who (along with the two Jewish witnesses of Revelation 11:3-12) will bring the Good News of Salvation in the midst of the Tribulation with astounding results (Rev 7:9-10, Rev 14:1-3).
The Tribulation period will also see the expression of the One New Man. As new Gentiles come to faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, Jews and Gentiles will worship together, singing the song of Moses and the song of the Lamb of God (Revelation 15:3).
Eternity Future begins with the descent of the city of New Jerusalem from heaven to earth. The New Jerusalem will continue to express the unity between Jews and Gentiles, with the 12 gates of the city inscribed with the names of the 12 tribes of the children of Israel (Revelation 21:12) and the 12 foundations of the city inscribed with the names of the 12 apostles of the Lamb through whom Gentiles were first welcomed into the Body of Christ.
And with that we pass into Eternity Future, where God will at last have the longing of His heart ...
- a perfect company (Genesis 17:1. Deuteronomy 18:13.) of angels and men
- with the intelligence to understand His creation, love, and redemption
- with the power to act, rule and communicate
- with the power of choice, choosing to live in harmony with His perfect will (Psalms 18:30; 19:7),
- and love Him with a perfect love (1 John 4:17-18),
- being like Him in character and with Him in intimacy (2 Corinthians 13:11),
- throughout a perfect eternity (Ephesians 5:27).
Revelation 22:17 And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.