By Elder Enoch Ofori Jnr
(Sabbath Sermon, 14th July, 2012)
"How hath the Oppressor Ceased!"
The overall message of the Bible falls into the category of good news, but it also contains quite some bad news. The news of man’s fall and its resultant evils of sin, death, and sickness have found expression in the numerous incidents of disobedience and punishments recorded in the Bible as well as the last great judgment to be visited on the wicked.
But ultimately good days are coming. As believers, this is cause for great joy. Not only because God has promised it and therefore certain to happen, but also because the coming new age of unprecedented peace and joy is meant for us believers.
In Isa. 14 the prophet, in a transcendent prophetic utterance, juxtaposes the last and definitive judgment to come upon Satan with the then imminent judgment to come upon Babylon, Israel’s long-time oppressor when out of mercy God restores His people.
In this sense, "the king of Babylon" mentioned beginning in verse 4 is a metaphor for Satan, referred to by his former name Lucifer (v. 12). And he’s doomed to be judged by God just as his human ally, the king of Babylon, also faces judgment. But different timetables are involved: The king of Babylon’s judgment was impending and is now a fact of history; Satan’s is yet to come, and that’s when the whole creation will heave a great sigh of relief.
That’s when the people of God will break into a taunt of victory against royal Babylon-Satan: "How hath the oppressor ceased! the golden city ceased!" (v. 4).
May God grant all of us the grace to join in that glorious celebration of victory on that day when the Lord comes to be glorified in His saints! That the remnant people of Judah sung such a song against the king of Babylon when literal Babylon was overthrown (as prophesied in chapter 13) indicates that God’s people of every generation are set to have small-scale victories over the agents of Satan till the final great victory over the devil himself.
So be prepared to take up the victory song now and then because victory after victory is coming our way as God causes us to triumph daily in Christ (2 Cor. 2:14).
So how does God bring all of this about?
"The whole Earth is at Rest"
God’s mercy will ensure that His people never remain under oppression forever. He will yet choose His people and will restore them to their destiny of greatness as He turns the tables on their oppressors:
"For the LORD will have mercy on Jacob, and will yet choose Israel, and set them in their own land: and the strangers shall be joined with them, and they shall cleave to the house of Jacob.
"And the people shall take them, and bring them to their place: and the house of Israel shall possess them in the land of the LORD for servants and handmaids: and they shall take them captives, whose captives they were; and they shall rule over their oppressors.
"And it shall come to pass in the day that the LORD shall give thee rest from thy sorrow, and from thy fear, and from the hard bondage wherein thou wast made to serve,
"That thou shalt take up this proverb against the king of Babylon, and say, How hath the oppressor ceased! the golden city ceased!"( Isa. 14:1-4).
The LORD promises great honour and glory and complete rest from our sorrow and fear. But how will the oppressor go out of action?
He will not just be a spent force or run out of steam; the LORD will take stout action against him and persecute him (vv. 5-6).
The result is marvellous: "The whole earth is at rest, and is quiet: they break forth into singing" (v. 7, 8). This anticipates the millennial world when Satan is bound in the abyss (Rev. 20:1-3).
During this time of bliss, the whole creation will be caught up in a new order of Edenic peace and tranquility. Paul associates this epoch with ‘the glorious liberty of the children of God’:
"For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.
"For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God.
"For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected the same in hope,
"Because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God.
"For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now.
"And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body" (Rom. 8:18-23).
However, before the final binding of Satan our God will have launched a series of pot shots and stout attacks on the devil so you will have some respite in your life. Paul encouraged the believers in Rome: "And the God of peace shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. Amen" (Rom. 16:20).
That crushing of Satan will involve some binding:
"But if I cast out devils by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God is come unto you.
"Or else how can one enter into a strong man’s house, and spoil his goods, except he first bind the strong man? and then he will spoil his house" (Matt. 12:28-29).
A Fall from the Pinnacle of Pride to the Pit of Hell
What next happens to Satan after he is broken by God?
He causes a stir in hell!–as he’s cast into hell to join his two end-time comrades-in-crime, the beast and the false prophet, who are there ahead of him (Rev. 19:20) in the wake of their ignoble defeat at Armageddon:
"And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever" (Rev. 20:10).
In the pride of his heart, Satan had thought within himself: “I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north", the very locus of God’s throne and government in the heavenly mount Zion (Ps 48:2). "I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High" (Isa. 14:13-14).
But Lucifer was soundly defeated by Michael and His army of holy angels. Subsequently, he and his rebellious angels were banished from heaven to earth, "and there was no longer any place for them in heaven" (Rev. 12:7-10 ESV).
The prophet celebrates that fall of Satan in a poetic oration:
"How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations!" (Isa. 14:12).
But that was an intermediate fall; he will go down further into hell and cause a stir there as especially all the elite victims of his deception express surprise that, like they, he has finally been caged by God Almighty:
"Hell from beneath is moved for thee to meet thee at thy coming: it stirreth up the dead for thee, even all the chief ones of the earth; it hath raised up from their thrones all the kings of the nations.
"All they shall speak and say unto thee, Art thou also become weak as we? art thou become like unto us?
"Thy pomp is brought down to the grave, and the noise of thy viols: the worm is spread under thee, and the worms cover thee" (Isa. 14:9-11).
Satan will not escape. From the great height of his evil imagination, this "father of lies" and mass murderer par excellence "shall be brought down to hell, to the sides of the pit. They that see thee shall narrowly look upon thee, and consider thee, saying, Is this the man that made the earth to tremble, that did shake kingdoms; That made the world as a wilderness, and destroyed the cities thereof; that opened not the house of his prisoners?" (Isa. 14:15-17).
Good days are coming. Satan, the bane of all humanity, will be nailed for good. Just make sure you don’t share in his ill-fate by living your life according to his evil will. Hell-fire was specially prepared for the devil and his angels (Matt. 25:41). But our holy heavenly Father cannot take in people who spent their lives doing the will of Satan in violation of His holy commandments. That sort of devilish acculturation is not welcome in heaven!
"And there shall in no wise enter into it any thing that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie: but they which are written in the Lamb’s book of life".
"Blessed are they that do His commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city.
"For without are dogs, and sorcerers, and whoremongers, and murderers, and idolaters, and whosoever loveth and maketh a lie".
Before us lie two clearly defined choices: obedience into life in the city of God or indulgence in moral and spiritual filth resulting in eternal separation from God. If we choose the former, we can imagine ourselves as ever-ruling monarchs in a post-Satan universe:
"And the kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdom under the whole heaven, shall be given to the people of the saints of the most High, whose kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey Him" (Dan. 7:27).
All things will become new:
"And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea.
"And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.
"And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God.
"And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.
"And He that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And He said unto me, Write: for these words are true and faithful" (Rev. 21:1-5).
That’s what the loving Father has in store if you will live for Him in righteousness and holiness by faith in His Son Jesus. HalleluYAH!