Pushing and Shoving

2009-10-05 2725aThis last month has been entertaining in our valley.    It’s the fall elk rutting season and our valley is chock full of elk.  We spend many restful hours watching the elk interact with each other.   It’s amusing to watch a bull elk try to sneak up on a female, then observe the flip of her muzzle upward into the air as she turns and prances away from his advancing clutches.

The strongest males in the bunch engage often in powerful battles for the hearts and affection of the ladies.  I’ve seen a few of them keep their antlers forcefully locked together for hours on end.   They push and shove — clash and clank — all to no avail because the ladies ignore them.  Yet, they continue as if their very lives depended on it.  Eventually, one bull will turn and run.  That’s not good enough for the victor.  He pursues the fallen and downcast guy, intent on using his mighty antlers to pierce the flesh of the defeated one.

Well, as nature has it, the strongest elk will win.  He will get to possess most of the ladies while the other bulls sneak in an advance or two, hoping it goes unnoticed by the victorious bully.  Such is life.

This reality mirrors human activity fairly well.  People push and shove to get ahead of others.  Some are stronger and more persistent and will usually win — that is, if we define winning by the world’s definition.  I rather think that for these individuals it’s not so much the winning that really matters.  It’s the ‘being noticed’ that matters.

From the dawn of creation, man has wanted to be thought of as special and important, so important in fact, that man often tells his internal self that the world simply could not go on without them.  Man has, since the dawn of time, deeply desired to be noticed and appreciated.  Perhaps I shall go further and state that man’s deepest desire is to be revered by the world around him. Why?  It’s our nature.

Isn’t this the very thing that happened before creation?  Didn’t Satan fall because he wanted to be revered?  In Isaiah 14:12-15 we read:

“How you are fallen from heaven,
O Day Star, son of Dawn!
How you are cut down to the ground,
you who laid the nations low!
You said in your heart,
‘I will ascend to heaven;
above the stars of God
I will set my throne on high;
I will sit on the mount of assembly
in the far reaches of the north;
I will ascend above the heights of the clouds;
I will make myself like the Most High.

Elk eating my garden - the fruit of my labor

Elk eating my garden - the fruit of my labor

Satan wanted to sit on God’s throne.   He wanted to be revered and worshiped.  In the deepest recesses of his heart, he wanted to make himself like God the Father.   The Most High Father of everything.  However, the created cannot usurp the power of the Creator.

In one article I read about Satan, it described him as God’s original worship leader.  Jeff Miller says: “Full of wisdom and beauty, Satan grew jealous of the attention that God received.”  Ezekiel 28: 11-17 tells us that:

Thus says the Lord God: “You were the signet of perfection,
full of wisdom and perfect in beauty.
You were in Eden, the garden of God;
every precious stone was your covering,
sardius, topaz, and diamond,
beryl, onyx, and jasper,
sapphire, emerald, and carbuncle;
and crafted in gold were your settings
and your engravings.
On the day that you were created
they were prepared.
You were an anointed guardian cherub.
I placed you; you were on the holy mountain of God;
in the midst of the stones of fire you walked.
You were blameless in your ways
from the day you were created,
till unrighteousness was found in you.
In the abundance of your trade
you were filled with violence in your midst, and you sinned;
so I cast you as a profane thing from the mountain of God,
and I destroyed you, O guardian cherub,
from the midst of the stones of fire.
Your heart was proud because of your beauty;
you corrupted your wisdom for the sake of your splendor.

A herd mentality

A herd mentality

That’s a mouthful but it’s important to understand.  Satan shouldn’t scare us.    Ezekiel tells us that God has already destroyed Satan. Satan was blameless until unrighteous thoughts filled his heart, causing him to sin.  Christians know that the result of sin is destruction.  In this case, pride caused the wisdom of Satan to become corrupt.  Pride is an ugly thing.

There is good news, however.   Sproul reminds us that Jesus was sent for a reason.  God sent Him to right the wrong and fix the heart.

All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Jesus! That seems to conflict with what we hear today in Christian circles.  How many times have you heard your Christian friend say that Satan is the ruler of this world?  I find it reassuring to understand that Jesus is the king of this earth right now.  Satan may be in our world working overtime to manipulate and coerce, but his every effort is under the scrutiny of a king who has been given authority by the Father to rule.

Sproul goes on to tell us that, His kingdom is invisible, and not everybody acknowledges it. People are giving more allegiance to the prince of darkness than to the Prince of Peace, but that is an act of usurpation on the part of Satan. His power is restricted, limited, and temporal. What has happened briefly is this: The power and authority of Satan has been dealt a fatal blow by Christ. The Cross, the Incarnation, the Resurrection, and the Ascension tremendously weakened any power or authority that Satan enjoyed, but it didn’t annihilate him. That will come later, when Christ completes his work of redemption with the consummation of his kingdom. All things will be brought into captivity to him, and every knee will bow to him, including the fallen angels, who will bow in submission to his authority.”

We must daily remind ourselves that nothing is to receive glory except God.  God emphasizes to us in Isaiah 48:11 that He will not give His glory to another.

If we know this, how then should we live?  We can either live the “notice me” life of Satan — we can join the herd mentality of the world, pushing and shoving until everyone is injured, wrestling till our inward strength fails — or we can rest in being a servant of God.  The irony is this:  God created us for His glory!  Isaiah 43:5-7 is a strong reminder of this.

Fear not, for I am with you;
I will bring your offspring from the east,
and from the west I will gather you.
I will say to the north, Give up,
and to the south, Do not withhold;
bring my sons from afar
and my daughters from the end of the earth,
everyone who is called by my name,
whom I created for my glory,
whom I formed and made.”

Think about that for awhile.  Can you rest as a created child of God’s glory? Can you put aside your human desire to be noticed and simply rest in the Hand of the One who created you?

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