After the temptation in the garden of Eden and the fall of mankind into sin, you have this fascinating back-and-forth in a spiritual warfare between God and Satan.
When man fell into sin (Gen. 3), God by His grace sought man out, sacrificed animals, clothed them with skins, and told Satan that a redeemer would come who would bruise his head (Gen. 3:14-19), which would be a crippling blow to his vitality, to his authority, and to his person. This would also be the beginning of the end of his career.
We then had Cain murdering Abel in Gen. 4. Although Satan is not mentioned in that story in Genesis, 1 John 3:12 would tell us that Cain was “of that wicked one.” He bought into Satan’s lies believing that he could bring his own good works, good in the sight of his own eyes, to gain the approval of God rather than simply obeying God’s Word, which is a brilliant deception on the part of Satan. He appealed to the flesh and the pride of life and gave birth to the “way of Cain” (Jud. 11), which is every false religion that ever existed in which man thinks he can approach God in his own way on his own terms rather than approaching God His way on His terms.
Following that, the earth plunged into wickedness and giants (Gen. 6), all of which was designed to thwart God’s plans of bringing into this world the Redeemer. God responds by saving Noah, flooding the earth, and establishing human government (Gen. 9:1-6).
Satan then uses Nimrod to build Babylon in the land of Shinar (Gen. 11), essentially Satan’s home base of human operations for a one world system under his leadership. Interestingly, it wasn’t a system that was atheistic in nature. They believed in God but they’d go the way of Cain. They’d build a tower to Heaven in which they would through their own efforts approach God on their terms rather than simply approach God on His terms. So God confused the languages and the people scattered abroad.
Then God did something amazing. He’d go on the offensive.
He brought Abram out of the Ur of the Chaldees (Gen. 12), and He uses him to establish “a great nation” to walk in His ways and in His paths, to be a witness and agency of blessing to the world about Jehovah God. They would be the instrument through which God would ultimately repossess the earth from Satan’s domain. God promised Abram a land, the land of Canaan, which was at the time an utterly wickedly place, the hotbed of propagation for Satan’s abominations on the earth.
In Job, when Satan presented himself before the Lord, the Lord asked him (Job 2:2) “From whence comest thou?” Satan said, “From going to and fro in the earth, and from walking up and down in it.” Satan walked the earth as one who owned it, one who possessed it. So when God told Abraham to walk around and survey the promised land of Canaan (Gen. 13:15-18), he was essentially mimicking the way Satan walked the earth as one who possessed it, but in this case, it was God signaling to Satan that He was taking possession of this land for His own use to wage an epic warfare. Not only that, God took the battle right into the very heart of Satan’s operations, a powerful gesture of repossessing a portion of the earth back to God for His own purposes.
Satan wasted no time personally attacking Israel in every way imaginable relentlessly day after day without relief, and it’s no wonder they fell into idolatry so often.
He especially attacked David, the man after God’s own heart. He would’ve had him murdered before he ever sat on the throne. The ink wasn’t dry on the Davidic covenant before David was tempted to sin, and as king, he became an adulterer and a murderer (2 Sam. 11). Satan moved David to number Israel in his pride (1 Chron. 21), and Solomon, with all his material prosperity and wisdom, was led by Satan into moral corruption through strange women and became a worshipper of idols (2 Kings 23:13).
Athaliah, the wicked queen, wife of Jehoram, King of Judah, descendent of David, tried to exterminate all the offspring of David (2 Chron. 22:10-12). She failed.
There were all the wicked kings of Judah and all the tribes of Israel corrupted by the devil with all the false worship, the idolatrous practices like the worship of Moloch with its abominable child sacrifices, the high places, the false prophets, the moral corruption and so many other evils that led the chosen people away from God.
Yet, throughout all of that spiritual warfare in the OT, we also had these phenomenal stories of faith, as listed in Hebrews 11, “The Faith Hall of Fame.” By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain. By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death. By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his household. By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place he should receive for an inheritance, obeyed, and he went out, not knowing whither he went. By faith Sara received strength to conceive and was delivered a child when she was past age. By faith Moses refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season, esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than all the treasures of Egypt. By faith the Jews passed through the Red Sea as by dry land and the Egyptians drowned. By faith the walls of Jericho fell. By faith the harlot Rahab perished not with them that believed not, when she had received the spies with peace. By faith, we have Samson, David, Samuel, the prophets, and so many more, who through faith subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, and waxed valiant in fight.
You also had in the OT, through the prophets, the slow progressive revelation about God’s plans for the earth, which spelled out the hope of Israel (Jer. 31) and the doom of Satan (Isa. 14:12-17), how God’s people would possess the land promised to Abraham, even the uttermost parts of the earth (Psa. 2:8), how a Messiah would come (Isa. 7:14, 9:6), how He would setup His kingdom here on earth (Psa. 22:27, 72:8), and He would sit upon David’s throne (Jer. 23:5-8). Israel would be a blessing to the whole world about Christ to such a degree the gentiles would take hold of the skirt of him that is a Jew, saying, “We will go with you: for we have heard that God is with you” (Zech. 8:23).
And through it all in the OT, God was victorious. He would achieve everything He said He was going to accomplish through prophesy, and when that fulness of time had finally come, “God sent forth his Son made of a woman, made under the law, to redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons.” (Gal 4:4).
When the Messiah finally arrived, He thwarted every murder attempt, every temptation, and every accusation thrown at Him until He chose to endure His death on the cross. He offered the kingdom to His people, but He was rejected and murdered on a cross betrayed by one of His own disciples who was possessed by Satan himself (Luke 22:3) who put into Judas’ heart the motivation to betray Him (John 13:2). How was it that Satan was able to do that to one of the Lord’s own disciples? Because Judas was never saved. The Lord said in prayer (John 17:12), “Those that thou gavest me I have kept, and none of them is lost, but the son of perdition; that the scripture might be fulfilled.”
In that event in which the Lord was crucified, Satan believed he won and that he ruined God’s plans. He was ready to bring out an antichrist and do battle during the time of Jacob’s Trouble, which was about to befall the world at Pentecost (Acts 2:16-20).
Then something happened that no one saw coming. A Pharisee named Saul, who went about Israel torturing and killing believers, the chief of sinners, got converted on the road to Damascus (Acts 9). He became the Apostle Paul. He was then given new revelations (2 Cor. 12:1). Then Paul stepped onto the world stage revealing to all a secret from God that had been kept hidden since the world began (Rom. 16:25-26). God would turn the Lord’s death on the cross into the greatest victory on earth, in which His death, burial, and resurrection would pay for all the sins of all mankind for all time, that His resurrection would earn Him the keys to sin, hell, and death (Rev. 1:18, Rom. 8:2-4), and that God has set Israel aside temporarily (Rom. 11) to offer salvation by grace through faith (Eph. 2:8-9) to everyone on the planet who believes in the greatest victory program mankind has ever been extended by God since the dawn of time.
We would have the Holy Spirit inside of us (1 Cor. 3:16). We’d be identified with His work on the cross. The same tenets we accepted by faith to become saved became the same tenets we would accept by faith to reckon as true everything God made us in Christ. We became spiritually dead, buried, and resurrected with Christ in order for that victory, for that eternal life, to become a reality in us the moment we believed. It was as if God the Father said to us, “now that you’ve reckoned my Son died, was buried, and resurrected for you, now go reckon that truth for yourself as being dead, buried, and resurrected with My Son.” As a result of our faith, we were transformed by the Spirit with Christ’s life in us, now living His victorious resurrection life as new creatures freed from sin and alive unto God right here on Earth. All of this essentially, made us undefeatable, eternally victorious, spiritual warriors.
No one in the spiritual realm, not even God’s own heavenly angels, saw this coming. You had centuries of the Mosaic Law and the countless sacrifices of innocent animal blood to cover sin. You had the veiled prophesies of the Lord’s crucifixion (Psa. 22, Isa. 53), and it never dawned on anyone in the demonic kingdom, especially Satan, what a victory the Lord’s death would be for all mankind as a once for all payment for every sin (Heb. 10:10). As Paul said in 1 Cor. 2:8, had any of the princes of this world known this great secret, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.
The “mystery” revealed through Paul illuminates what is the most breathtaking plot twist ever, the most brilliant out-strategizing, out-maneuvering, and out-witting in any warfare that will ever take place. And yet, God’s checkmate on Satan was so simple because all He did was keep a secret. Mere child’s play! God succeeded in disproving the very thing Satan’s pride, his corrupted wisdom, and his bravado boasted that he would do. That is, God proved He cannot be outwitted and usurped from His throne.
J.C. O’Hair once wrote, “Because the Anointed Cherub in heaven said to God, ‘I Will,’ the true Anointed, God in human form, drank the cup in the Garden when He said, ‘Thy will be done,’ and finished the work at Calvary. Because Lucifer wanted to be like the Most High God, the Most High God has been made in the likeness of sinful man to defeat the fallen one.”
God at last exhausted His love in the gift of His only begotten Son, and in that gift of His Son, He has shined unto all the world in the clearest light, in the purest light, His greatest news ever: eternal life by grace through faith alone trusting in the sacrifice of His Son as a payment for all your sins (1 Cor. 15:1-4). He’s given us through Paul a revelation that outshines every other revelation that came before him in that God now comes to man on the simple condition of accepting the offer of His Son’s payment for your sins by faith – nothing to pay, nothing to do – an offer that takes man from his deplorable depths of misery in sin and by grace makes him a child of God.
How astounding that God used the most lawless act in history to reveal the depths of His wisdom and His power! The cross stands out in all eternity as God’s purpose of redemption. The cross will never be forgotten in all eternity to come. In that cross, on which His holy Son, the Lord of Glory, the Prince of Life, died, God has provided redemption for lost man and the ultimate regeneration of a marred creation.
Here are the profoundest depths of wisdom, the greatest revelations of God in His righteousness and love. Here and here alone the way to God and glory is revealed. It’s for this reason that Paul would at the end of Rom. 11 break out into a doxology and write, “O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out! For who hath known the mind of the Lord? or who hath been his counsellor? Or who hath first given to him, and it shall be recompensed unto him again? For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things: to whom be glory for ever. Amen.”