ECHOES FROM EDEN
"Now the SERPENT was more subtil than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made...and the SERPENT said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die... and the Lord God said unto the SERPENT, Because thou hast done this, thou art cursed above all cattle, and above every beast of the field; upon thy belly shalt thou go, and dust shalt eat all the days of thy life: and I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel" (Gen. 3:1,4,14-15).
The ancient serpent, having beguiled Eve, became the recipient of the FIRST CURSE in history. Most students of the Word know that man was cursed, the woman was cursed, the ground was cursed, and the earth was cursed, but few remember that before all this the serpent was cursed. The curse is first mentioned in Gen. 3:14. "And the Lord God said unto the SERPENT, Because thou hast done this THOU ART CURSED above all cattle, and above every beast of the field; upon thy belly shalt thou go, and dust shalt thou eat all the days of thy life." The serpent, called before the tribunal of the Almighty, received a two-fold curse, recorded here in strong figures of speech which sternly emphasize the power of the judgment: UPON YOUR BELLY SHALL YOU GO and DUST YOU SHALL EAT.
This is a symbol and the Deceiver, Satan, that old serpent, has to eat dust! What is the dust? Not the dirt of the ground! In the passing of the judgment-sentence, God began with the serpent and said, "DUST shalt thou eat." Then to the man, God said, "In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for DUST THOU ART, and UNTO DUST shalt thou return." So that first Adam, sinful, fallen, and cursed is declared by the counsel of the Lord TO BE DUST. Said the Psalmist, "For He knoweth our frame; He remembereth that WE ARE DUST" (Ps. 103:14). That we are DUST! By the very nature of things, when the serpent eats, he seeks to SATISFY HIS APPETITE and GRATIFY HIS DESIRES. Originally he found pleasure in higher things and had access higher realms, but the curse of "eating dust" limits the object of his devouring. Today, the sphere of Satan's activity is earth, and the object of his devouring is the man of the earth. "Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the Devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about seeking WHOM HE MAY DEVOUR" (I Pet. 5:8).
There is also the sentence: "Upon your belly shall you go." This judgment speaks of infinitely more than a literal snake slithering along upon a literal belly of flesh and blood. The very fact that God states that the serpent was now to crawl upon his belly, which obviously he had not done before, reveals that there was a DESCENDING from one realm to another, from a higher to a lower, from a greater to a lesser. Previously he walked in loftier realms, his sphere of activity extended to higher domains, but he is now lowered into the dust realm, into the sphere of man, confined to the earthy, limited to action upon and expression through THE MAN OF THE DUST. Thus we read in Eph. 2:2, "And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins: wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, THE SPIRIT THAT NOW WORKETH IN THE CHILDREN OF DISOBEDIENCE." Ah, yes, this evil spirit is IN MAN!
It is not difficult for us to acknowledge that GOD was manifest in the flesh through the incarnation of Jesus Christ. What we have often failed to perceive is that there has also been AN INCARNATION OF SATAN IN THE FLESH. Just as God was manifested in the flesh through Jesus, the last Adam, and now through His body, so it is becoming knowledge to us that Satan has been manifested in the flesh of the first Adam, and now in his posterity!
GET THEE BEHIND ME - SATAN!
While earthly races vary in stature, physical features, and color, the nature of man is unvariable and universal. For the carnal nature there are no national boundaries, no aspects peculiar to a certain tribe, no ethnic group or national entity has any monopoly on the serpent that lies in the heart of man. All men of every country and every tongue and every race are possessed of the very same thoughts, impulses, desires, emotions, and state of being, for they are all partakers of the collective nature of Adam. The mind of Satan is the mind that worketh in all the children of disobedience. This is the mind that inspires the ever increasing evil and confusion that today is running rampant among all nations. This is also the mastermind that dominates the religious confusion of this dark hour.
From the day of the fall in Eden even unto this hour man has borne the imprint of the satanic mind, the mark of the serpent, the mark of the beast. That mark in his mind has been manifested in everything he has set his hand to do. Politically he has filled the world with wars and rumors of wars, greed, hatred, bloodshed, and oppression. Socially he has rocked the world with every imaginable devilish perversion, and religiously he has displaced the mind of Christ with the carnal mind to bring about a form of godliness devoid of power or reality, but filled with a confusion of human ideas that would stagger the imagination.
We need not be surprised to learn that the serpent lurks in the corruption of the mind and heart of man. Can there be found in all the universe a more possessive, blinding, or deceiving devil than the devil of SELF? Over and over again in the Word of God we find this terrible truth reiterated. Several years ago a friend penned these true and eloquent words: "We hear Jesus say, 'For FROM WITHIN, OUT OF THE HEART OF MEN, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, coveteousness, WICKEDNESS (mark this word: we are coming back to it), DECEIT, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness: all these evil things come FROM WITHIN and defile the man'" (Mk. 7:21-23). Every sin-category imaginable is contained in this discourse. Everything that a man could ever do or think that is evil is said by Jesus to come - not from outside himself but from within! Among those things that come out of a man is DECEIT - that strong characteristic of SATAN. More interesting than that, however, is the word here translated WICKEDNESS. There are, in the Greek, two words for wickedness. One is KAKOS, which means, simply, bad or wicked or worthless. The other word is PONEROS which carries with it the meaning of something that is not only bad itself but desires to make everything it touches as evil as itself is. Kenneth Wuest translates it "the pernicious one" - likening it to a cancer that eats and spreads and devours everything in its path. It is a CONTAGIOUS EVIL! When used in the masculine singular (Greek) according to Dr. Strong, it is 'the Devil.' It is the word used in the Lord's prayer which says 'deliver us from THE EVIL' (in the Greek it appears with the definite article and would more accurately read, 'deliver us from the evil ONE'). This word is strongly related by its perniciousness to that 'roaring lion who walks about seeking whom he may devour.' PONEROS is, furthermore, the word selected by the Spirit of God to pen the words of I Jn. 2:13 which says, 'I write unto you young men because you have overcome the WICKED ONE.' The reference is obviously to the Devil, and he is called HO PONEROS: THE EVIL! Paul, also, chose to use the word PONEROS in Ephesians in his exhortation to take the shield of faith 'wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the WICKED ONE (PONEROS)' (Eph. 6:16). The word, of course, is not always used in speaking of the Devil as a personality, but when the Devil is described, it is this word PONEROS that is used. In Mk. 7:22, then, we find PONEROS used to describe the wickedness that comes OUT OF THE HEART OF MAN and it is that form of wickedness WHICH IS ASSOCIATED BY THE HOLY SPIRIT WITH SATAN!"
When the hour of the crucifixion of our Lord drew near, Jesus began "to show unto His disciples how He must go into Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day. Then Peter took Him, and began to rebuke Him, saying, Be it far from Thee Lord: this shall not be unto Thee. But turned and said unto Peter, Get thee behind Me, SATAN; THOU art an offence unto Me; for thou savorest not the things that be of GOD, but those that be of MEN. THEN Jesus said unto His disciples, If any man will come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me" (Mat. 16:21-24). Self and Satan despise and hate the cross. They will scamper wildly in any direction to avoid it. They will turn their backs upon it, dig under it, try to go around it or climb over it, but they will never embrace it. The cross is the death knell of self, and self is the arch enemy of the cross. The cross is the eternal undoing of the self-life but from it the Christ-life is born. The cross is death to the "I", but it is the beginning of the "not I, but Christ."
When Jesus began to reveal to His disciples that He must soon go to the cross and suffer and be put to death, Peter began to rebuke Him. Where did he find the senseless courage that would dare to rebuke the Lord? Ah, the answer seems disturbingly evident - far, far too clear to be a comfort to any of us! The Lord Himself gives us the answer, for, "He turned and said unto Peter, Get thee behind Me, SATAN! thou art an offence unto Me; for thou savorest not the things that be of GOD, but those that be of MEN." What a shocking way to talk to the great apostle Peter! Atrocious: that is, according to accepted standards! "Get thee behind Me, SATAN!" And our Lord was not merely on a name-calling spree when He uttered these words, either. He never uttered words in vain, without a definite meaning. Peter as Satan on what basis? That he was demented, insane? That he was a medium, bringing spirits out of the supernatural sphere? No, merely that he SPOKE AS A MAN!!! "Get thee behind Me, Satan, you who think and speak like a man!"
Is this not also what James was saying when he described the wisdom of man by saying, "If ye have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, glory not, and lie not against the truth. THIS WISDOM descendeth not from above, but is EARTHLY, SENSUAL and D-E-V-I-L-I-S-H!" (James 3:14-15). Here we see that that which is EARTHLY and SENSUAL is that which is considered by the Spirit of God, DEVILISH! For, the apostle goes on to say, "Where envying and strife is, there is CONFUSION (Babylon) and EVERY evil work" (James 3:16). There is, according to James' words, no need to look any further for the source of EVERY EVIL WORK on the face of the earth than that DIVISION and ENVYING and STRIFE that emanates from the human heart!
Again in Jn. 6:70 we read, "Have I not chosen you twelve, and one of you I-S A D-E-V-I-L?" Here our Lord of course referred to Judas. In these Scriptures we have some very plain statements to the effect that certain men WERE SATAN or DEVILS. Please, let us not forget that we are still studying the fully inspired Word of God, and not some infamous fairy tale. The Devil, about whom we are studying, hates above all else to have his real identity and location made known. The only way he can carry on his business is to deceive men and women into thinking he is what he is not. As long as we think he is some funny little man with horns and a pitchfork we can never be DECEIVED by him! I fearlessly declare, beloved, that Satan and the carnal mind are so ONE that you cannot without the other! Satan and self are so ONE that they are inseperable! Satan and human nature are so ONE that they are indivisible! Is it any wonder, then, that the friendly hand of self, yea, the friendly hand of Satan, was so quickly extended to prevent our Lord from going to the cross? "This shall not be done unto Thee," said Peter. "You must not talk that way, Lord. You are the Christ, you can never go to the cross! You must save yourself. Don't go to Jerusalem. Don't let them lay their hands on you. We shall fight against it with sword, if necessary, or you can call twelve legions of angels to save yourself from the cross." Save yourself, save your-SELF is the eternal cry! Escape the cross! Turn aside! Turn back! Ah, what voice, this? Truly it is the voice of Satan. But never forget for one moment, beloved, that it is also the voice of THE CARNAL MIND! Oh yes, there must be death to self, that impudent, ego-centric devil that would and does usurp the throne of Christ's Kingdom within!
And now we uncover some other startling facts. The Greek word "diabolos" is the Greek word for "devil." In all the Greek new testament it is never used for anything or anyone else. But in three appearances of the word in the New Testament, the men who supposed to translate that original, instead of translating it in harmony with every other use of the word rendered it in such a way as to mystify and hide the truth. When translated, here is what I Tim. 3:11 actually says. It is talking about deacons. And it says this, "even so must their wives be grave, NOT DEVILS (diabolos), sober, faithful in all things." Just imagine a deacon marrying a funny black thing with horns, a pointed tail and cloven hoofs! In Titus 2:1-3 Paul is giving some instructions concerning the Churches and the believers in those Churches. And here is what he writes to Titus: "The aged women likewise, that they be in behaviour as becometh holiness, NOT DEVILS (diabolos), not given to much wine, teachers of good things." In II Tim. 3:1-5 we read this: "This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For MEN shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, without natural affection, trucebreakers, DEVILS (diabolos), incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God; having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof." What an indictment against human nature, and against modern religion! "In the last days perilous times shall come. For MEN shall be...DEVILS...having a FORM of godliness, but denying the POWER thereof."
The Churches are, indeed, full of devils! And they have no more desire to go to the cross than Peter did. Well does this enemy of God, enthroned in the human heart, this adversary of redemption and of all mankind, know that, in the blessed hour when the "I" is crucified and brought to death, all his power and all his authority and sway in that life is broken forever. His appetite is denied, his desires are rejected, and his work is destroyed in every fully the cross of Christ and the "I" of self has become forever dead with Him, then shall it be even as the firstborn Son in triumph declared: "I will not talk with you much more, for the prince (evil genius, ruler) of the world is coming. And he has no claim on Me, there is nothing in Me that belongs to him, he has no power over Me" (Jn. 14:30, Amplified). Satan has no power at all when SELF is gone. Then he has no more power in your life or mine than he had in the life of our Lord Jesus Christ. How unspeakably wonderful the hour for any man when Satan shall find nothing in him upon which he can feed or lay hold, nothing upon which he can satisfy his evil desires or his corrupt nature, for all that is of the flesh has been crucified with Christ. The lust of the flesh is mortified. The lust of the eye is dead. The pride of life is nailed to the cross. The Adam man exists no more, Satan's ground is destroyed, and from then on it is NOT I, BUT CHRIST!
THE DRAGON IN THE SEA
"And the great DRAGON was cast out, that OLD SERPENT, called the DEVIL, and SATAN, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth...and I saw an angel come down from heaven, having the key of the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand. And he laid hold on the DRAGON, that OLD SERPENT, which is the DEVIL and SATAN, and bound him a thousand years" (Rev. 12:9; 20:1-2).
Large sections of Scripture, in fact a preponderance of the prophetical books, are couched in symbolic terms, hiding much of the "mysteries" of God in figurative language. This is done quite purposely by the Lord that the non-elect while "seeing" actually "see not" and "hearing" actually "hear not" (Mat. 13:10-17). The careful study of the key Semitic symbols, in which so much of the Word of God is given, is vitally important to the one who would "rightly divide the Word of truth." Since the book of Revelation is a "signified" or "sign-language" book, we should not be surprised to find that it abounds in Semitic symbols which convey the truth in figurative language.
Just as the title "serpent" in Genesis describes the Devil as wily, poisonous, and deadly, so the term "dragon" is descriptive of his great power, magnitude, and terrifying monster qualities. Hear what the Scripture says about the serpent and the dragon, and it will be very clear that these are one and the same. "And there appeared another wonder in heaven; and behold a great RED DRAGON, having seven heads and ten horns...and the great DRAGON was cast out, that ANCIENT SERPENT, called the DEVIL, and SATAN, which deceiveth the whole world...and they worshipped the DRAGON which gave power unto the beast...and an angel came down and laid hold on the DRAGON, that ancient SERPENT, WHICH IS THE DEVIL, AND SATAN, and bound him..." (Rev. 12:3,9; 13:4; 20:1-2).
The dragon is a fabulous mythical creature that never really existed except in the imaginations of men. They were supposed to be enormous in size, up to forty feet long. They had wings like a bird's, scales like a reptile's, claws like an eagle's, and long tails like an alligator's. They breathed fire. The dragon always stood as a symbol of wrath and destruction.
As the wily serpent came with stealth into the Garden of Eden defiling with rebellion the hearts of the parents of the human race, cursed and confined to dwell in the earthy nature of the man of dust, making a murderer of Adam's first son, so has he developed in mankind from that small and unimposing beginning to become a monster of gigantic dimensions filling the whole world with satanic rebellion and corruption. In Genesis Satan entered Eden as a cunning little serpent, but in Revelation he has grown into a monstrous fire-belching dragon in the earth and in the sea. In Genesis Satan is a wily serpent indwelling a mere handful of people, whereas in Revelation he is a "great red dragon, having seven heads and ten horns," - a composite of peoples, nations, and governmental authorities.
When Adam and Eve departed from Eden the serpent was in their hearts, in their minds, and in their bodies. It should not be difficult for any man to see that all the unrestrained evils that are running rampant in the world today are but the out-croppings, the fruitage, the increase, yea, the dragon that is now full-grown from the little serpent in Eden. After Adam and Eve were expelled from the Garden it was but a short space until the serpent in Cain slew one righteous man, whereas the dragon that stalks the earth today in a vast multitude of billions of Adam's posterity has slain millions on the blood-stained battlefields of every continent and nation on the face of the earth, not to mention the untold millions more who have been the victims of crime and violence of every kind, and the saints of all ages who have been viciously persecuted to death.
The satanically inspired persecutors and murderers of the righteous have exhausted all the art of pain and cruelty, so that it would now be difficult to invent a new kind of torture which they have not practiced upon the followers of the Lamb. The saints have been shot, stabbed, stoned, drowned, beheaded, hanged, drawn, quartered, impaled, burnt, buried alive, roasted on spits, baked in ovens, thrown into furnaces, tumbled over precipices, sunk in mire and pits, starved with hunger, frozen with cold, hung on tender hooks, suspended by the hair of the head, stuffed and blown up with gunpowder, ripped with swords, tied to the tails of horses and dragged over streets and flints, beaten with anvils and hammers, bored with hot irons, torn piece-meals by red-hot pincers, hacked with axes, pricked with forks, stuck from head to foot with pins, choked with water, lime, rags, urine, excrements, shut up in caves or dungeons, thrown into boiling oil, burning pitch, melted lead, they have had their flesh scalped and torn from their bones, they have been trampled and danced upon, till their bowels have gushed out, they have had their eyes dug out, their nails torn off, their ears, lips, tongues, arms, breasts, etc. cut off. Women and young girls have also suffered such barbarities, accompanied with all the imaginable indignities, insults, shame, and pungent pangs to which their sex could expose them. This has been the treatment inflicted on the faithful followers of Christ by pagan Rome, on the saints of dark ages by the harlot church system, and in recent times by the communists and others. Ah, yes, the little serpent has become a giant dragon, stalking and stomping about in the dust of Adam's race!
We need not be surprised at the increase of this power at the end of the age. Can we not see that in every age the degree of wickedness in the earth is proportionate to the INCREASE OF MANKIND? Of a dim and distant age it is written, "and it came to pass, when MEN BEGAN TO MULTIPLY on the face of the earth...God saw that the WICKEDNESS OF MAN WAS GREAT in the earth, and that every imagination of his heart was only evil continually" (Gen. 6:1,6). And of our own age it is declared, "This know also that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, coveteous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, without natural affection, trucebreakers, devils, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God" (II Tim. 3:1-4). Two milleniums ago the apostle Paul accurately prophesied, "But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived" (II Tim. 3:13). May the Spirit of the Lord open wide the eyes of our understanding to see the simple and evident truth that as MEN increase in the earth - THE DEVIL INCREASES! In making this statement, I am fully aware that such a though runs contrary to long-established views of theology, but we are NOT CONCERNED with the views of Babylon's theology, for theology is not really the truth of God but the ideas of men. I am concerned only with the truth of God as it is revealed in His Word in the light of inspiration and revelation.
Now we come to an amazing promise which may be hard for the natural mind to interpret, but when men seek the face of the Lord He sends His Holy Spirit to dispel the darkness of the carnal mind that He may reveal to our broken and contrite hearts the things that pertain to the eternal purposes of God. The promise is stated: "In that day the Lord with His sore and great and strong sword shall punish leviathan the piercing serpent, even leviathan that crooked serpent; and HE SHALL SLAY THE DRAGON THAT IS IN THE SEA" (Isa. 27:1). The word "leviathan" means literally "a beast dwelling in the sea." In the Hebrew the chief word for dragon is "tannin" and in meaning is synonymous with "leviathan". The translators of the Greek Septuagint used the word "drakon" to render both words. Drakon is derived from another Greek word, "derkomai," which means "sea serpent, serpent of the abyss." Leviathan, the serpent, and the dragon are thus different aspects of the same being, for note, "In that day the Lord with His sore and great and strong sword shall punish LEVIATHAN the piercing SERPENT, even LEVIATHAN that crooked SERPENT; and He shall slay the DRAGON that is in the sea."
This is the SERPENT THAT DWELLS WITHIN US, the DEVIL and SATAN, the BEAST NATURE WITHIN MAN, that inner force which opposes what God wants for us and tries always to bind us to earthly things, keeping us from seeking those things which are above, where Christ sitteth at the right hand of God. My soul rejoices with joy unspeakable in the blessed knowledge that God has promised deliverance for mankind as this SEA DWELLING BEAST is slain with the mighty, strong sword of the Lord!
Before we speak further of this, I would like to point out that throughout the Scriptures the sea is a type of the raging, restless, surging masses of unregenerate humanity, tossed to and fro by the inner storms of the turbulent nature of Adam. The prophet Isaiah penned these inspired words, "The wicked are like THE TROUBLED SEA, which cannot rest, whose waters cast up mire and dirt. There is no peace, saith my God, to the wicked" (Isa. 57:20-21). Jude also described the wicked when he said, "These are RAGING WAVES OF THE SEA, foaming out their own shame" (Jude 13). John, on the Isle of Patmos, had a vision of great whore sitting on many waters. The angel revealed the meaning of the "many waters," saying, "the waters which thou sawest, where the whore sitteth, ARE PEOPLES, AND MULTITUDES, AND NATIONS, AND TONGUES" (Rev. 17:15).
John also saw a vision of A BEAST RISING OUT OF THE SEA, a beast coming up out of the midst of the multitudes of raging, restless, seething humanity, the SEA OF MAN. The natural sea is a great deep, an abyss (Gen. 1:2; 7:11; 8:2; Deut. 8:7; 33:13). The Psalmist wrote of this abyss of wicked men, "They SEARCH out iniquities; they accomplish a diligent SEARCH: both the INWARD THOUGHT of every one of them, and the HEART is D-E-E-P" (Ps. 64:6). To the enlightened mind of David the depth of iniquity of which the human heart is capable is so great that it is beyond the ability of man to comprehend. The heart of man is an UNFATHOMABLE DEPTH, or, as Jeremiah observed, "The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: WHO CAN KNOW IT?" (Jer. 17:9). While John the Revelator saw the beast rising out of the sea (abyss, depth) of humanity (the carnal mind), Jesus expressed the same truth thus, "For from WITHIN, O-U-T O-F THE HEART OF MEN, proceed all these evil things!"
But God, blessed be His wonderful name! has a remedy for this sea-dwelling beast, leviathan the crooked serpent, the dragon in the sea, for His plan of redemption is directed toward removing this beast with His strong and mighty sword. The Word of the Lord declares, "Thou rulest THE RAGING OF THE SEA: when the waves thereof arise, THOU STILLEST THEM" (Ps. 89:9). Many centuries ago the Spirit of God inspired these beautiful words of promise, "The floods have lifted up, O Lord, the floods have lifted up their voice; the floods lift up their waves. The Lord on high IS MIGHTER THAN THE NOISE OF MANY WATERS, yea, than THE MIGHTY WAVES OF THE SEA" (Ps. 93:3-4). Praise God! He rules the INNER RAGING OF THE SEA and He stills ALL ITS TEMPESTS! That unstable nature within, so quickly moved by the storms created by the carnal mind, the torrents of passion, and the turbulent emotions of the soul, is quieted by the Lord who arises within to RULE THE RAGING OF THE SEA. And then follows the calm, the state described by Paul, - "that we be no more tossed to and fro with every wind...but may grow up in all things into Him who is the Head, even Christ" (Eph. 4:14-15).
When John beheld in vision the unveiling of Christ - Christ the Head and Christ the body - he also saw "a throne set in heaven" with Christ upon the throne. "And before the throne there was A SEA OF GLASS like unto crystal..." (Rev. 4:1-6). As surely as the raging sea represents multitudes of surging, restless, clamoring, sinning humanity, so does the exquisite sea of glass before the throne of God represent an assembled throng of blood-washed saints IN WHOSE HEARTS THE PEACE OF GOD RULES. This great SEA OF REDEEMED AND TRANSFORMED MEN is calm and serene, tranquil and quiet, transformed "even as by the Spirit of the Lord." The SEA-DWELLING BEAST has been dealt with. The inner nature of man has been changed, Satan has been bound, and the sea is now calm.
The "Sword of the Lord" is the Word of God, the almighty Word by means of which He slays THE DRAGON IN THE SEA. When the BEAST NATURE which once brought forth RAGING WAVES OF THE SEA is destroyed the SEA OF MAN is peaceful and serene, manifesting the peace of the Kingdom of God. In the earth today there are two companies of "sea people" - those of TROUBLED SEA and the SEA OF GLASS PEOPLE. Thank God, amidst all the trouble, distress, sorrow, tragedy, problems and pressures of this world system there is a SEA OF GLASS, a PEOPLE abiding in the peace of the Kingdom of Heaven on earth! These are "before the throne" - willing subjects of the LORDSHIP of Jesus Christ. The apostle Paul greeted the Ephesian believers with this fervent prayer: "Grace to you, and PEACE, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ" (Eph. 1:2). Peace! One of the beautiful titles of our Lord Jesus Christ is "Prince of Peace". The first mark of the Kingdom of God is: Christ as King. If Christ is the Prince or the King of peace, then peace is a dimension of the Kingdom of God. There are many wonderful truths to embrace, endless revelations to inspire and thrill and transform the hearts of God's Sons, but none more meaningful or sublime than that written by Paul to the Romans, "For the Kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and PEACE, and joy in the Holy Ghost" (Rom. 14:17). The Kingdom of God is...PEACE!
The mark of what a kingdom is, is to be seen in the King. Christ now reigns on throne of the Father. And on earth there is an EMBODIMENT, a MANIFESTATION of the Kingdom; its power is seen in the lives of those in whom it rules. Christ lives and dwells and rules in our hearts! The blessed firstborn Son, the Prince of Peace declared to those called to become His "many brethren": "Peace I leave with you, My peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you" (Jn. 14:27). As you acquire peace in your heart from God by the indwelling spirit of Sonship, I have good news for you! You have received a measure of the Kingdom of God, for that is what the Kingdom is. As the peace of God reigns in your heart, in the midst of all the problems and pressures, in a world of turmoil and fear, the Prince of Peace has ascended His throne and reigns. Peace is spirit. The Kingdom of God is spiritual because God is spiritual, but, never forget, beloved, spirit is REAL. Peace is REAL! The Kingdom of God is a spiritual dimension available to men upon this earth. As the righteousness, peace, and joy of God arises to rule in your heart you discover the manifestation of the Kingdom of God within you and through you. Praise the Lord! God is bringing "many Sons" to walk in a conscious awareness of God's Kingdom and minister its glorious and eternal reality to all mankind now and in the age and the ages to come, blessed be His wonderful name!
How the world needs this peace! Men's hearts are failing them today for fear in looking after those things which are coming upon earth. The land is filled with violence, the break down of morals, the rampaging divorce rate, corruption and evil men in government, refusing to uphold the law and introducing all manner of corruption. The world continually sinks lower and lower into sin and ever increasing degradation, revelling in drunkedness, committing adultery, fornication, sodomy, incest, blowing its mind with drugs, deafened and demented in body and soul by the raucous racket called "music", cheating, lying, stealing, increasing daily in violence, rape, and murder, until it has become a seething mass of godless corruption and immorality. Ah - the TROUBLED SEA! And over this agitated sea there looms the ominous spectre of the unceasing encroachment of godless communism, the stockpiling of nuclear weapons, the development of untold thousands of missiles with which to deliver these bombs to all the great industrial centers and cities of the world. I can tell you by the Word of the Lord, dear ones, a STORM of unprecendented fury approaches on the sea, soon to strike all nations with incredible fierceness, and the fear of that awful catastrophy even now holds the inhabitants of the earth in its vice-like grip.
Thank God, there is another sea, the SEA OF GLASS, a PEOPLE prepared by the Spirit of the Lord to minister the peace of God in the midst of the raging sea - a strong and mighty Word of the Lord in their mouths with which to slay the dragon in the sea! This is the message Jesus intended to convey when in the midst of the storm on the sea of Galilee He commanded, "Peace! Be still!" He had the peace WITHIN HIMSELF or He never could have imparted it to the winds and the waves. And now the peace of God is becoming personified WITHIN A PEOPLE, the body of Christ, for such a time as this.
"For, behold, the Lord cometh out of His place to punish the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity: the earth also shall disclose her blood, and shall no more cover her slain. IN THAT DAY THE LORD WITH HIS SORE AND GREAT AND STRONG SWORD...shall slay the dragon that is in the sea" (Isa. 26:21; 27:1). The "great and strong sword" is "the sword of the Spirit, WHICH IS the Word of God," by which the Sons of God engage in warfare with the enemy. Is this truth not the one that was in Paul's mind when he declared, "And then shall that Wicked (one) be revealed, whom the Lord shall CONSUME WITH THE SPIRIT (word) OF HIS MOUTH, and shall destroy with the brightness of His coming" (II Thes. 2:8).
As we consider these thoughts, may God almighty grant that His Spirit may instruct us in the way of truth and understanding. When John saw the Lord coming upon a white horse, followed by the armies from heaven, he saw the Lord with a SHARP SWORD going out of His MOUTH "that with it He should smite the nations: and He shall rule them with a rod of iron" (Rev. 19:15). In the midst of all the confusion and darkness of this hour the Spirit of God is calling out a people for His name. He is training them in the school of obedience and refining them in the furnace of affliction. He is stripping them of self-interest, draining them of self-will, plucking from their hearts ALL the deceptive ways of Babylon, causing them to abhor the vain efforts of the flesh. These are putting on the whole armor of God, these are dwelling in heavenly places, seated with Christ, and these are the ARMY FROM HEAVEN that follows the Lamb in battle. From within, out of their innermost being is arising a strong and mighty WORD, the sword of the Spirit, by which the enemy shall be conquered. "He cast out the spirits WITH HIS WORD" (Mat. 8:16). This sin-weary world shall yet be governed by a glorious company of Sons of God, every one in the image of Christ, every one a brother of Jesus Christ, every one invested with His authority, every one a Son given "power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy" (Lk. 10:19). Adam, the Son of God reigning supreme in his glorious earth at last in the blessed Kingdom of the Father. The whole earth, as Eden was, shall be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.
These Sons shall be able to raise their voices in mighty declarations of authority. Then shall be fulfilled the fullness of the word spoken by the Lord to His disciples, "And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; THEY SHALL TAKE UP SERPENTS; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover" (Mk. 16:17-18). Some people have thought this meant to be able to handle poisonous snakes without being hurt. Others have supposed this meant that IF you accidently took up a serpent as Paul did that there would be no harm. This latter surely is true, but this Scripture gives no one license to deliberately take up snakes and handle them. But beyond all this, let me point out to you one of the meanings of the term "take up" in this verse. No only does the Greek word (airo) mean to "take up" but it also means to "take away" (see Strong's and Young's Concordances). In other words, "They shall TAKE AWAY serpents," not take up and handle them. The WHOLE SERPENT KINGDOM (Satan, the Devil) shall be REMOVED, TAKEN AWAY by these mighty believers; yea, they shall SLAY the dragon that is in the sea!
Thank God, this wonderful reality is even now being established in a people apprehended of God. How we long for such a day as this for all people and nations! Today we hear of "deliverance ministries" and many go about "casting out devils" in lengthy sessions of exorcism attended by manifestation such as coughing, vomiting, etc. Some are told they have legions of devils and they are given names like "lazy devil," "false doctrine evil," "lust devil," etc. etc. We praise God for all who are delivered in any measure from spirits of any kind, but often it is like a man at the mouth of the mighty Mississippi trying to bail out the river with a bucket, there seems to be no end to the masses of spirits, problems, and works of the flesh with which people contend. We find, however, that the redemptive work of Jesus Christ is not merely that which deals with the branches of the tree, but is that which essentially must "lay the axe to the root of the tree." That is why Paul said, "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" (Eph. 6:12).
The ultimate warfare is in that DEEP INNER REALM where the SOURCE of all the external sin and evil manifestations is to be found. As long as we content ourselves to deal with individual "demons," or to treat "social ills," or to wage war "against sin," or to struggle with the "lusts of the flesh," all of which are in the external realm of the TENTACLES, we shall find ourselves ever defeated in even these things. LAY THE AXE TO THE ROOT OF THE TREE, DEAL WITH THE STRONGMAN WHO SITS ENTHRONED IN THE VERY NATURE OF ADAM, PIERCE THE HEAD of the octopus and one automatically destroys the power of the tentacles! Speaking of the hour when the Sons of God would rise to that place of authority in Jesus Christ, John the Revelator wrote, "And there was war - IN HEAVEN - and the DRAGON (Adamic mind, nature) fought and his angels and PREVAILED NOT!" (Rev. 12:7-8). Men must rise - and thank God, they SHALL RISE to that place of understanding and authority of the root, not to some individual "demon" - but to the ROOT ITSELF: the ADAMIC NATURE, WHERE SATAN'S SEAT IS! In dealing with the root, the tentacles will take care of themselves. This goes far beyond merely casting out the negative, it means such a complete TRANSFORMATION OF BEING that the negative HAS NO GROUND TO STAND UPON, NO PLACE TO DWELL.
THE BOTTOMLESS PIT
"And I saw an angel come down from heaven, having the key of the BOTTOMLESS PIT and a great chain in his hand. And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan, and cast him into the BOTTOMLESS PIT, and shut him up, and set a seal upon him, that he should deceive the nations no more..." (Rev. 20:1-3).
The "bottomless pit" is certainly not a hole in the ground; it is, rather, a Semitic symbol which signifies a state or condition wherein there is NO BOTTOM, thus NO GROUND TO STAND UPON. Satan was given "ground" in man's life when God declared to him, "Upon thy belly shalt thou go, and dust shalt thou eat..." (Gen. 3:14). Praise God, when our adversary, the Devil, is cast into the BOTTOMLESS PIT, it means that he is circumvented to a realm where he has NO GROUND to stand upon, NO BASE for his activity, and NO FOUNDATION upon which he can build his work. God is "pulling the rug out from under the Devil" as He purges out all the evil and corruption in our nature, all the rebellion and self-hood of the carnal mind, that there be NO BASIS upon which the forces of evil can operate. This indicates such a TRANSFORMATION OF BEING that not only are the works of the Devil destroyed in us, but also it is impossible for him to corrupt us again. Thus conformed to the image of the Son we can say with Jesus, "The prince of this world cometh, and HATH NOTHING (no place) IN ME!"
In those blessed Sons of God, joined in Christ as one body, God is raising up a house in which He can dwell and manifest His glory without interference or conflict. When the apostle Paul wrote to Timothy, he revealed a truth which lies in contrast to the picture of Satan in the bottomless pit. "...that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the Church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth" (I Tim. 3:15). There are three aspects of the Church mentioned in this wonderful passage: the "house of God," the "Church of the living God," and the "pillar and ground of the truth."
What does this term "the house of God" mean? When you refer to "your house", you mean the place where you dwell, where you live, where you work out your life; and that is just the meaning of the house of God. It is not an empty cliche, it is not a light or loose term. The "house of God" is the place where God dwells, where He lives, and where He works out His life. This house is none other than the Church of the living God. Notice that the term here is not merely "God," but "living God." He is also living; and He now dwells in the Church, moves in the Church, and works out the fullness of His life in the Church. When we say that the Church is the house of God, we must have a very deep realization that God DWELLS, LIVES, AND WORKS OUT HIS LIFE in this house!
The true Church is not only the house of God, but it is also THE PILLAR AND GROUND OF THE TRUTH. What is truth? do not think that truth means doctrine! Truth is not what you believe about thing, the truth is the very fact of the thing itself. The word truth means REALITY. Nothing is real in the whole universe, nothing is truth; everything that is but a shadow. Everything that can be seen, everything that can be touched, everything that can be possessed and enjoyed is not real, but at best a shadow. Whatever exists in this universe is but a shadow, not the real thing! What is the real thing? It is CHRIST - HE is the reality of everything! The food you eat is not the real food, but only a shadow of the real food. The real food is Christ! The physical life you live is not real life, but only a shadow of the real life. The real life is Christ! "He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life" (I Jn. 5:12).
If a friend sends you a photograph of himself, you will say, "This is so and so." But in truth that is not so and so. It is only a picture, an image, and a false image at that. In fact, all images are false, for living realities are not found in images. The whole universe is but an image. All the types, all the figures, all the shadows in the Old Testament were but images of the REALITY TO COME, WHICH IS CHRIST HIMSELF. Christ is the truth, Christ is the reality of the whole universe. If you just have a doctrine about Christ, you do not have the reality of Christ. He Himself is the reality, and His Spirit is the SPIRIT OF REALITY.
The PEOPLE in whom this living god dwells. lives, and moves, is the PILLAR AND GROUND upon which the reality stands. It bears the reality. WITHIN this people the living God dwells, and UPON this people the truth, the reality stands. Ah, as the nature of God's people is changed by the Spirit of God Satan finds himself shut out, excluded from their lives, no ground to stand upon, no basis for his activity, indeed, HE IS IN A BOTTOMLESS PIT! As new creation people our lives BECOME THE PILLAR AND GROUND of this universal reality, which is the Lord Jesus Christ! In the Church God dwells, because the Church is the house of God. And upon this people is BUILT THE REALITY OF CHRIST. Redeemed by His precious blood, justified by the Spirit of God, we become the "base", the sure foundation upon which every GOOD WORK can be built, and, praise God, on which no evil work can be built.
Hear it! All the reality of the universe is established upon the lives of God's saints! If anyone wants to know what life is, he will see and touch it in God's people. If someone would like to know what love is, what joy is, what peace is, what truth, faithfulness, righteousness, power, glory, glory, wisdom, or knowledge is, he will see it and touch it upon and in this people. "And the government shall be UPON HIS SHOULDER" (Isa. 9:6). "Upon the shoulder" means that THE WHOLE BODY BEARS THE WEIGHT OF IT. Jesus Christ is THE HEAD, the mind, the leader, but the power and glory of the Kingdom rests upon HIS BODY, the PILLAR and GROUND of the TRUTH. What a day, when ALL NATIONS become a bottomless pit for Satan, and he has no more ground in the nature of the human race! I can tell you, dear ones, that already Satan is finding very little "ground" to creep upon in those elect Sons apprehended to be the FIRSTFRUITS of God's redemption. Victory upon victory they are gaining as they are being changed from men of the dust to men of the Spirit, from the image of the earthy to the image of the heavenly. The reality of HIS DIVINE LIFE is being built up in their inner man, and now THEY ARE THE GROUND, THE BASE, THE FOUNDATION OF THE TRUTH, even Mount Zion of which it is written, "Behold I lay in Zion for a foundation a stone, a tried stone, a precious corner stone, a sure foundation: HE THAT BELIEVETH (this) shall not make haste (be anxious)" (Isa. 28:16). Zion is composed of those saints in whom Christ has been established as a sure foundation; no matter what comes, how hard the winds of adversary blow, how fierce the storm, how heavy the pressures, THEY REMAIN UNSHAKABLE, FIRM, STEADY, RESOLUTE, STEADFAST, CONSTANT, and UNMOVABLE. Upon such a people the government of God's Kingdom rests! Through the ministry of such a people, praise God, the day shall come when throughout all the earth, in every nation and people and kindred and tribe and tongue THE DRAGON THAT IS IN THE SEA SHALL BE SLAIN BY THE SWORD OF THE SPIRIT, and God, at last, shall experiencially be A-L-L I-N A-L-L. "The wilderness and the solitary place shall be glad for them (the Sons of God); and the desert shall rejoice, and blossom as the rose. And the parched ground shall become a pool, and the thirsty land springs of water: IN THE HABITATION OF DRAGONS, where each lay, shall be grass with reeds and rushes. The beast of the field shall honor Me, the DRAGONS AND THE OWLS...because I give drink to My people, My chosen" (Isa. 35:1,7; 43:20).
J. PRESTON EBY
J. PRESTON EBY
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