(NOTE: All Scripture verses are taken from the New International Version 1984, unless otherwise stated.)
FOCUS: As I was praying about writing Study #2 of this series, the Lord gave me an analogy to share…. When we think of good and evil in the Bible, it’s like two cars driving side by side in separate lanes with a dotted line between them. Let’s imagine that one of those lanes represents “right” behavior and the other represents “wrong” behavior. The dotted line down the middle symbolizes God’s gift of freewill. Both of the cars are speeding toward the same destination — eternity. They are allowed to change lanes as each driver desires. At some point, they come to a toll booth — death — and are required to pay a fee. Neither of the drivers have what is required to pass through. The toll collector says, “Don’t worry, your admission has been paid for by the Son of God.” One driver understands that this is the only way he can pay the toll. He accepts responsibility as a true disciple of Christ and moves through to the next segment of the journey — on to the place that Jesus has been preparing for him. The second driver says, “I will not accept that. It ‘s foolishness.” So, since there are no U-turns allowed on the road, the driver is instructed to pull-off into an unpleasant waiting area called “Hades” to hang out until further notice….
Keeping in mind that our goal is to look at the Bible through the lens of simplicity, let’s move on.
FOUNDATION SCRIPTURE: “But now a righteousness from God, apart from the law, has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Jesus Christ. ” (Romans 3:21-24).
PROPHECY CONNECTION #1: Good and Evil + Freewill, from the Beginning
Everything was GOOD in Adam and Eve’s world. They were both naked (completely innocent) and unashamed. Then a created being from the supernatural realm dropped in for a visit. The man and his wife had to make a choice: Cling to GOD’S GOOD “status quo” OR venture into the unknown and experience WHAT THE DEVIL PROMISED. In a fraction of a moment they both made a decision that rocked them to their very souls. Then it was God’s turn to respond. And the blame game began….
Genesis 3:8-24 (abridged version):
“Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God as He was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the Lord God among the trees of the garden. But the Lord God called to the man, ‘Where are you?’
“He answered, ‘I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid.’
“And [God] said, ‘Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?’
“The man said, ‘The woman you put here with me — she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it.’
“Then the Lord God said to the woman, ‘What is this you have done?’
“The woman said, ‘The serpent deceived me, and I ate.’
“SO THE LORD GOD SAID TO THE SERPENT, ‘Because you have done this, Cursed are you … I will put enmity [mutual hatred] between you and the woman, and BETWEEN YOUR OFFSPRING AND HERS; HE WILL CRUSH YOUR HEAD, AND YOU WILL STRIKE HIS HEEL.‘ …
“To Adam He said, ‘Because you listened to your wife and ate from the tree about which I commanded you, “You must not eat of it,” Cursed is the ground BECAUSE OF YOU … By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return.‘”…
“So the Lord God banished them from the Garden of Eden … He placed on the east side of the Garden of Eden cherubim, and a flaming sword flashing back and forth to guard the way to the tree of life.”
PROPHECY CONNECTION #2: Good vs. Evil + Freewill in the Middle
As soon as the first couple was expelled from their perfect home, all hell broke loose! They had to fend for themselves in a hostile environment. Their first-born son, Cain, had tendencies toward evil; their second son, Abel, was intrinsically good. Evil prevailed, and Cain killed his brother Abel! So the Lord God told Cain that he would be “under a curse” and would be “a restless wanderer for the rest of his life.” So Cain went out from the Lord’s presence and lived in the land of Nod. But God had another plan for the first couple, now grieving over the loss of both of their sons….
A. Genesis 4:1-26 (abridged version)
“… (verse 25) Adam lay with his wife again, and she gave birth to a son and named him SETH, saying, ‘God has granted me another child in place of Abel [the GOOD son], since Cain [the EVIL son] killed him. Seth also had a son, and he named him Enosh.
“AT THAT TIME MEN BEGAN TO CALL UPON THE NAME OF THE LORD.”
B. Genesis 6: 1-8
As men began to increase and daughters were born, created beings from the supernatural realm once again began to influence mankind upon the earth….
“… (verse 5) The Lord saw how great man’s wickedness on the earth had become, and that every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time. The Lord was grieved that He had made man on the earth and His heart was filled with pain. So the Lord said, I will wipe mankind, whom I have created, from the face of the earth … for I am grieved that I have made them. But Noah — a direct descendant of Seth — found favor in the eyes of the Lord.”
C. Genesis 5 through Malachi 4
Down through the centuries, scholars and lay people alike have debated whether the Bible’s Old Testament represents fact or fiction. But one thing is certain: its books contain invaluable lessons gleaned from the documented struggles between real men and women who have been allowed freewill by their Creator. The Lord God tried to get the attention of mankind by sending messages from heaven through GOOD people like Noah, Abraham, and David. And through messengers called Prophets, like Samuel, Isaiah, and Daniel. But no one would listen. So He had to take drastic measures and meet people where they lived to SHOW them the difference between GOOD and EVIL, and remind them of how much He loves them….
The prophet Isaiah foretold the coming of a Savior: ” He [will be] despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering…. Surely he [will] take up our infirmities, and carry our sorrows, yet we [will] consider him stricken by God, smitten by Him, and afflicted. But he [will be] pierced for our transgressions, he [will be] crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that [brings] us peace [will be] upon him, and by his wounds we are healed. We all like sheep have gone astray. Each of us has turned to his own way; and the Lord [will lay] on him the iniquity [SIN] of us all.” (Isaiah 53:1-6)
JESUS of Nazareth — a documented, direct descendant of Seth — fulfilled every one of the Old Testament prophecies concerning the coming of a Messiah to save individuals from spending eternity with the devil. (“The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work.” — 1 John 3:8b) And everyone who believes in Him will have eternal life with God. (“The Father loves the Son and has placed everything in His hands. Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on him.” — John 3:35-36)
The prophet Malachi foretold a day of vengeance: “‘Surely the day is coming, it will burn like a furnace. All the arrogant and every evil doer will be stubble, and that day that is coming will set them on fire,’ says the Lord Almighty…. But for you who revere my name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its wings.” (Malachi 4:1-2) The prophet John described what that day will look like: “The sky receded like a scroll, rolling up, and every mountain and island was removed from its place. Then the kings of the earth, the princes, the generals, the rich, the mighty, and every slave and every free man hid in caves and among the rocks of the mountains. They called to the mountains and the rocks, ‘Fall on us and hide us from the face of Him who sits on the throne [the Lord God] and from the wrath of the Lamb [the Son of God]! For the great day of their wrath has come, and who can stand?'” (Revelation 6:14-17)
PROPHECY CONNECTION #3: Good, Evil and Freewill at the New Beginning!
Jesus showed His GOOD friend, John, what things will be like AFTER THE FINAL SEPARATION OF GOOD AND EVIL / the disciples of Jesus from the followers of the devil — anyone whose name is not found written in the book of life (Revelation 19:10-15).
Revelation 21:1-22:6 (abridged)
“Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth … I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God … I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Now the dwelling of God is with men, and He will live with them.’ [Just as He did in the beginning!]…”
WHAT’S THE POINT?
Once again we can see that the Bible can be simplified so that anyone who genuinely wants to hear it and understand God’s Word can have that opportunity. Once the “static” is removed from the communication line, the bottom line message concerning the history of God’s creation can be heard. Obviously we can only speculate when it comes to filling in the mysterious blanks. But we can know about God’s perfect plan, because of the proof that we’ve been given through His true prophets and the living testimony of His Son, Jesus Christ.
WHY DOES IT MATTER?
Jesus said, “Yes, I am coming soon” (Revelation 22:20). But the word “soon” is relative. Most humans will meet Jesus at the moment of their earthly death. Some will actually live to see “the day of the Lord’s wrath.” Each individual will have their fate decided by the One who holds “the keys to death and Hades” (Revelation 1:18). And some will be saved “as one escaping through the flames” of fire that “will test the quality of each man’s work” (1 Corinthians 3:13-15).
THINK ABOUT IT …
It might seem odd that on the Day of the Lord men will shrink with fear and hide from “the wrath of the Lamb.” We don’t think of a lamb as something to be feared. Perhaps that’s why so many people feel comfortable disrespecting the Son of God. But ask yourself, Am I one of those who will be cowering on that day that has been foretold by God’s true prophets? Or will I be among the “great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and in front of the Lamb” on the day of His wrath? Read Revelation 6:12-17, Matthew 24:29-31, Revelation 3:10, and Revelation 7:1, 9-17 … and think about it.