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SATAN AND HIS ANGELS. A CHAPTER IN ANCIENT HISTORY, FROM UR OF THE CHALDEES.

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THI
THIS phrase is so nearly a Scriptural one that it may be allowed

to head an inquiry in the teaching of the Word of God on the subject. In Rev. xii, 7 we meet with the “ dragon and his angels,” and in the next verse he is “ that old serpent, the devil and Satan.” These are all names of one being. Except when the name is used in a secondary sense, we never get a plurality of Satans or devils in Hebrew or Greek.

Now what can be read of these beings in the Word of God ?

Our Lord clearly carries back the evil character of the devil to the beginning (John viii. 44); but he nowhere speaks of his angels as being with him, so early, in his sin. I think we have no Bible proof that there were more fallen angels than this one, before the human race began to be numerous. Then the “Nephalim, or fallen ones,” were in the earth about 200 years before the flood. I give them fourscore years to have wrought mischief before the declaration that the limit of Divine forbearance was placed at 120 years (Genesis vi. 3). Satan is but a creature, and could only do a limited mischief when alone. So he sought allies of whom he knew in other parts of the empire of God.

It was “the dragon who drew with his tail the third part of the stars of heaven, and did cast them to the earth ” (Rev. xii. 4). John does not tell us when he did this; but whenever it was, Satan was the cause of their fall from heaven to the earth, at some period before the battle when Michael and his angels drove them down.

Put this with "the Nephalim were on the earth in those days," and you have sons of God, who are fallen ones, brought down to the earth under the influence of the poison of the serpent's tail, or, in plain terms, Satan presented seductions to these sons of God which bewitched them to ruin. “He deceives the whole world." What was the forbidden fruit to which he directed their attention ? It was to the beautiful daughters of men. Had these sons of God never seen them before? Yes, very often, and no harm came from it; but so had Eve seen the “ tree of knowledge of good and evil,” but when Satan took it up, he turned it to a successful temptation. And so might he direct attention to the charms of woman, and succeed in leading those “ Ben-Aleim, or sons of the mighty," to leave their own original state and habitation, and come to mingle mischievously with the sons of men. But it was not enough to turn the attention of what the Septuagint calls angels, and the Peshito calls Ginbra, mighty ones, to the fair daughters of men, he must also find an appropriate temptation for these human maidens. Now this he would find in the mystery of the Divine oracleGenesis iii. 15 : “ The seed of the woman shall bruise thy head."

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Eight generations had appeared, and yet no conquering seed had come. Was this desire of woman never to be realised, or must it be through the intervention of some higher father ?

These doubts would not be unnatural in the minds of men and women in the seventh generation. Enoch, then, too, lifted up his warning voice, and then escaped the clutch of “him that had the power of death—that is, the devil.” At this stage Satan, from his revealed character, must have had “ great wrath.” What might not follow if God went on taking men away without death? But being only a creature, Satan could not do all the mischief which he purposed unassisted ; and so he laid the bait of beauty before angels, and the one of motherhood of the promised seed of the woman, in whose parentage no mention is made of man, before the fair virgins of that early time, and so wrought the ruin of both.

In those early days when Job and his friends sat on the ground in high discourse, one of them related a vision which he had had, when he heard a voice saying, “ Shall a man be more pure than his Maker ? Behold, He put no trust in His servants, and His angels he charged with folly." That these were higher than human beings is clear from what follows: “How much less in them that dwell in houses of clay, whose foundation is in the dust, and who are crushed before the moth ?”

Mark the contrast, and say what these angels, who were charged with folly, must have been ? Now, Hales makes this discourse to have been held 184 years before Abram was born, and neither Job nor the other speakers treat it as a fictitious reference to the past. This is the earliest reference to erring angels after the account in Genesis vi. ; but it does not tell us when God, having kept His servants on trial, but without trusting His own counsels on their faithfulness, at length “charged them with folly,” or, as others read it, with vanity or defect. This much, however, is clear, that these men had proof that angels had fallen from their first position and been set aside by God as sinners. We next get a glimpse of the Nephalim in Numbers xiii., and here the men who speak of them are every man a ruler among the tribes of Israel. They are giving an unfavourable report of the prospects of Israel winning Canaan. These are some of their words : “All the people that we saw in the land are men of great stature : and there we saw the Nephalim, children of Anak," or, as some spell it, Ganak. It denotes to encompass as a chain the neck. What encloses men like the air ? But Paul speaks of “The power or army of the air," and John calls the heaven, from which the dragon and his angels are to be expelled by Michael and his angels, by these words, their place was not found any more in heaven.” Now the air is one heaven with the Hebrews, and somewhere therein there is what is called their place," where Satan and his angels dwell. Did these princes mean by fallen ones, who were represented by very tall powerful men, the dwellers in the air? “Children of the east" is

used of men who dwelt there—then why not children of Anak, that which encircles, mean dwellers in the circumambient air ? If this be considered, we get these leaders in Israel holding a tradition that there were beings in the regions near the earth, with whose power men could not contend successfully, and that they had children dwelling among men,

Now, as I read 2 Peter ii. 4 from the Peshito, the angels that sinned were put in keeping in a dominion which was proximate to the place of their sin. Jude has nearly the same idea, but the keeping is in bonds which are not known, or, as the Greek has it, they are delivered into chains of darkness. What are these but such restraints as God can use without the creatures being aware how He restrains them ?

Is not this view of Anak, as suggested by the thirteenth of Numbers, being the encircling air, and of 2 Peter ii. 4 and Jude 6, placing the fallen angels near the earth, and also that of Paul placing them in the air, sustained by what is found in Daniel x. ?

In the third year of Cyrus, King of Persia, on the twenty-fourth day of the first month, after a fast of three full weeks, the prophet Daniel had a revelation. He was on the bank of the Tigris, when an angel appeared to him in glory so splendid that the prophet, though used to earthly grandeur, was entirely overpowered. It needed that the visitor rouse and revive him, in order that he might receive the divine communication. But before making it he honoured Daniel with an account of the interval between his beginning to fast and pray on the first of the month, and the arrival of the answer to his prayer on the twenty-fourth. Well might Daniel be called greatly beloved when Gabriel bears an apology from the court of heaven for his being kept in suspense. Notice the tenour of the apology : “From the first day that thou didst set thine heart to understand and to chasten thyself before God, thy words were heard, and I have come for thy words” (Dan. x. 12).

In verse 11 the angel said, “ Unto thee am I now sent.” Now, mark the reason why he had been delayed.

“But the prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me one and twenty days ; but, lo! Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, and I remained there with the kings of Persia.” This is the explanation of the three weeks' delay. What does it mean? Not that a human being hindered so mighty an angel bent on fulfilling a God-given mission for three weeks. This is absurd. Nor does it mean that Persia had then two human kings with whom Gabriel stayed three weeks. Dismiss the notion that Cyrus, who was the friend of Daniel and his people, was this hindering prince. Our thoughts are lifted up to some mightier beings, whom it took the help of Michael, united to the might of Gabriel, to overcome for a short season. When his message was delivered, he was about to go forth and fight with the same prince of Persia as had hindered his progress in coming to instruct the prophet. Are we not here in the presence of a leader of the host or army of the high ones that are on high, rather than of the kings of the earth who are upon the earth, both of whom are to be visited with punishment ? (Isaiah xxiv. 21.) And does it not seem clear that these hold a position above the earth, so that angels sent forth to minister to the heirs of salvation can be hindered when on errands of mercy ? How great the power in the evil prince, if unsupported he sustained the attack of both Gabriel and Michael for three full weeks! How inveterate his enmity to good, if Gabriel knew he would have to fight him again before he could regain heaven!

From this glimpse of the "Unseen Universe" given to Daniel, several further things are suggested :

1. The length to which it pleases God to allow evil spirits liberty to do wrong.

Here we have Daniel praying and fasting in earnest search of more light for three full weeks. His prayer is heard at once, and Gabriel despatched with its answer. But on his earthward flight he is detected, passing through a region occupied by a mighty foe with whom he must fight before he proceeds; and when the Allseeing Lord of angels has sent Michael—" he who is as God”—to help his messenger, the way of Gabriel to reach Daniel is only opened in three full weeks. Does not this narrative, as well as as that earlier one in the book of Job, show what great range of interference with holy angels and men is permitted to evil spirits ? This is a mystery which awaits its solution in the future, but it gives us a lesson of caution to keep on the watch against our spiritual foes. Wisely did Paul recommend us to “put on the whole armour of God (Eph. vi. 11), that we may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil," and tell us that he has with him not human evil agents only, but “principalities, and powers, and rulers of the darkness of the world, who are spiritual wickednesses dwelling in high regions." Here, as in chap. ii., we have Satan and the high officers of his army put for the whole army or power of the air.

2. Is it not consolatory to find that the angels who are sent forth to minister to God's people will do His bidding by His church below, even though it involve conflict with the powers of darkness ?

Is it not so here? Holy angels are fellow soldiers with the saints, fighting against the same foes, and under the same Captain. They, like Joab, when he divided the army with Abishai his brother, are ready to encounter the more formidable enemy. Then see what champions these angel-warriors are! What was the aspect of this one, just issuing from a conflict not of three hours but of three weeks ? Does he seem worn and wearied ? Are his robes torn and stained ? Here is the picture of one trained in the study of grand and noble men and kings, whom he has often met at two imperial courts. And how does this high writer describe

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him? “I lifted up mine eyes and looked, and behold a certain man clothed in linen, whose loins were girded with the fine gold of Uphaz; his body was like the beryl, and his face as the appearance of lightning, and his eyes as lamps of fire, and his arms and his feet like in colour to polished brass, and the voice of his words like the voice of a multitude.” Such is the champion of truth and right. Is he not more glorious coming out of the conflict than when he entered ? And when he returns to heaven after the next combat which is soon to take blace, will he not enter it more glorious for his trials than when he departed on his errand ? So the holy martyr Stephen, in the heat of conflict with the enemies of Christ, stood before the council, and as they gazed upon him they saw his face as it had been the face of an angel.

So, too, our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh out for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory. And so, also, Christ, the Prince of cross-bearers, is to be the King of glory and the wearer of many crowns. In this high outcome of suffering, as in all things joyous and satisfactory, He shall have the pre-eminence.

3. Have we not here a call to be both careful and courageous ?

We should not make too light of Satan on the one hand, nor be too fearful of him on the other. He cannot safely be ignored, for he is “our adversary,” and goeth about seeking whom he may devour. If he and his angels wrought such mischief to the antediluvian world as brought on the flood; and if it shall be “ Woe to the inhabiters of the earth and the sea," when again the devil and his angels are cast down to the earth before Michael and the army of the Lord; if he dared attack Gabriel on his errand of mercy to Daniel, and Christ when he came to save the world, -" let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall.” But let not Satan be deified, for he is but a creature, and, with all his evil following, he has but a limited power.

Jesus overcame him, and “God shall bruise Satan under the feet of the saints." Gabriel overcame him and looked confidently for a further encounter.

Enoch won a glorious victory over him that had the power of death ; and when the muster roll shall be called, after the war is over, a host of heroes shall answer to the summons, all of whom

are more than conquerors over angels, principalities, and powers," yea, even over death, that last enemy, through the might of Him in whom is revealed the love of God to men.

Large though the apparent liberty of Satan and his angels be, they are held in chains by one mightier than they. And He who maketh the wrath of man to praise Him, and restrains the remainder, has just the same mastery over evil spirits. When what is called the binding of Satan comes, it will not be a new thing in his history, but he will bear a heavier chain, of shorter length, and one of whose restraining power he shall be conscious.

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