A very perceptive man once opined that the world was created by the Devil when God wasn’t looking. This very logical observation got me to thinking, and also prompted me into doing some research on Mr. Satan. Although always thought of as being of the stronger sex, this has actually never been verified. Since he is said to be at the root of all evil, it is quite possible that he may be a she, but since the traditional view is that Satan is a male, I will go along with this. As a boy, I used to wonder why God didn’t kill him, and this, for me, remained one of the great mysteries of theology for many years. I now know the reason, which I hope to make clear to you also, dear reader, if you will bear with me for a little while.
Mr. Satan has generally been free to roam the earth and “do his deviltry;” playing tricks upon God, his angels, and his children. There has only been one occasion, as far as I can determine, when any kind of restraint was put upon him. Somewhere around the year 96 A.D. he was haled into Jehovah’s court, where he drew a 1,000 year sentence (Rev. 20:1-3). During this millennium, while he remained chained in a bottomless pit, all was sweetness and light upon the earth. There were no wars, conflicts, or troubles of any kind. The tiger munched grass, sharks ate seaweed, and mosquitoes nibbled little chunks from rocks.
This idyllic state of affairs came to an end in 1096. Mr. Satan had served his time, and was to be “loosed a little season.” However, there is no record that he ever went back to jail after this; or if he did, he must have escaped quickly, or been paroled. And although he has been accused of many bad things in the meantime, no new felony charges have been brought against him. It is possible that he is smarter than the F.B.I. and all the other law enforcement agencies put together, or it could simply be that the Justice Dept. has never issued an order to recapture him. Fundamentalists say that the Devil’s crowd is now in Washington, so perhaps this latter explanation has merit.
One might think, however, that the clergy would at least be straining every nerve and muscle to put Mr. Satan behind bars, but on reflection, we cannot help but wonder what the state of affairs would be if they actually succeeded. Would the salvation business cease? Would the billions of dollars that now flow into collection plates dry up? Heretics have always maintained that the Devil is the main prop of the church, and that without him, both God and the clergy would look foolish.
Actually, God and the Devil are not mortal enemies at all. While they have their ups and downs, they have usually remained on speaking terms. Part of the trouble began in the Garden of Eden when only four things – Adam, Eve, Jehovah and the Devil (in the form of the serpent) – could speak Hebrew fluently. Jehovah warned the bride and groom not to eat of the forbidden fruit, but the Devil overheard, and – being a blunt fellow – spoke up and said, “To hell with that claptrap; go ahead and eat and you will not die!” The daring duo did as he suggested and – lo and behold! – did not drop dead but lived for many years afterwards.
Now, who told the truth, God or Mr. Satan? Moreover, it taught the former a lesson, because ever since he has been more wary and chary in his dealings with his friendly enemy.
In the beginning Jehovah and Satan were the very best of friends, but they got at loggerheads over something or other. There was “war in heaven,” but we have been spared the details. It was Jehovah and his followers fighting against Satan and his, but we do not know how many on each side, or how they fought. Did they use fists, guns, tanks, planes, or what? (One fundamentalist assured me they fought with swords.) Anyway, although God won, he was very careful not to inflict any mortal wounds upon Satan, as he was much too valuable. Nor did his “fall from grace” mean that he was forever after barred from heaven. On the contrary, he apparently comes and goes as he pleases, and whenever there is a family reunion in heaven, Satan is invited to join the festivities. The Lord still looks upon him as a son. This is proven by Job 1:6, where we read, “Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan came also among them.”
This particular meeting is of special interest, because it involves the celebrated story of Job and, moreover, it shows how God and the Devil work together whenever there is need for unity. As all of you who are familiar with the story know, God not only allowed Satan to bully, afflict and terrorize poor Job, but even helped him do it, to win a bet! Scarcely had the poor patriarch reconciled himself to the loss of his property (the Sabeans carry it off) than word was brought to him that “the fire of God is fallen from heaven,” destroying all of Job’s crops and cattle. Then God thoughtfully sends a terrific windstorm to kill all of his innocent children to boot.
A lull in the action then takes place while Satan and Jehovah meet again at the latter’s headquarters in heaven, and the Creator smugly points out that Job still “holdeth fast his integrity, although thou movedst me against him, to destroy him without cause” (Job 2:3).
Here we have the Almighty admitting that he did wrong upon the urging of the Prince of Evil; that he gave in to temptation and committed a crime! He also admitted that the crime was committed against a good, just and righteous man, without cause. But theologians say that God had to do this, to win his wager with the Devil. In other words, God would rather see his servant Job ruined, than lose his bet.
We see, then, that no one upon the face of this earth is safe when God and the Devil get in cahoots, which is most of the time. In fact, it is hard to tell which is which.
We also notice that it wasn’t just the Old Man that Mr. Satan was resourceful with, but Christ as well. St. Matthew informs us that the Devil snatched up the Son of God and flew off with him – first to the pinnacle of a temple, and then to the top of a high mountain (Matthew 4:1,12). Whether Jesus was kicking and screaming all the way is not clear; the important thing is that we picture in our mind’s eye a being powerful enough to fly off with a god tucked under his arm; this particular god being the ruler of the universe at that.
To sum up, it appears that while it would be a good idea to put the Devil behind bars or in a bottomless pit again for another thousand years, he is now too smart to ever “get ketched” again, and God obviously doesn’t want him locked up anyway. Nor does he want him killed. The Devil makes up a part of all the living things that God has created, and he looks upon them all equally. He loves every form of life that he has created; his love knows no bounds. He weeps just as copiously when a louse or tapeworm dies as he does when a child does. He can justly be called the “Supreme Weeper.”
Let us all weep.
SOURCE: The Liberty Bell, June 1983