The battle raged for 33 years, from the Incarnation to the Cross, and it was there on that cross that the outcome was finally determined. On a lonely hill outside the city wall of Jerusalem, Satan killed Jesus, the very Son of God Himself, the Second Person of the Trinity, on a wooden cross.
It appeared to the disciples, and it appears to the casual observer today, that Satan had finally won the battle, and crucifying the Son of God was the most tragic miscarriage of justice in history. However, in God’s strange, counter-intuitive economy that the world considers utter foolishness, death produces life, serving is ruling, and the last are first.
Thus Jesus’ death was a classic demonstration of this incomprehensible way of life. God was playing Satan like a fiddle, and the cross was actually the greatest victory for good in history—the salvation of the whole world! “It is He who is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not for ours only, but also for the whole world’s” (1 John 2:2). Jesus forever defeated Satan on that cross. “And when he had disarmed the rulers and the authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in the cross” (Colossians 2:15). In killing Jesus, Satan actually lost the kingdom over which he had ruled for millenia.
“It is finished!” was Jesus’ cry as He surrendered HIs life, and indeed it was. All that remains is the mopping up, which at times seems overwhelming. The German generals in WWII knew (except for Hitler and a few wild-eyed crazies) that when the Allies established a successful, permanent beachhead at Normandy in France in June of 1944, that they were finished. The “Battle of the Bulge” was their unsuccessful, last-gasp effort to stem the tide of the invaders, but they fought to the bitter end.. That is what Satan is doing today.
As the satanic “Battle of the Bulge” rages today, newspaper exegesis tells us that “all is lost;” Satan is “alive and well;” “the socialists are taking us over:” “The world is getting worse and worse, so we must retreat to a cave with a bag of groceries and wait for Jesus to return and rescue us!” That is the result when we use the state of current affairs to predict the future and set our agenda.
However, exegeting the Bible instead of the newspaper gives us a different story. In Psalm 110:1, David begins this Psalm with “A declaration from the LORD (Jehovah) to my Lord (Jesus): ‘Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies your footstool.’”
This is a parallel passage to Daniel 7:13, 14, that we looked at last week as we discussed what happened when Jesus arrived in Heaven at the Ascension. God the Father gave Jesus an everlasting kingdom that covered the whole earth. It is eternal and will never pass away. Now we see in Psalm 110 that Jesus rules over this kingdom from His Father’s right hand in Heaven right now, and will continue to do so until the Father makes Jesus’ enemies His footstool—while Jesus remains seated, ruling as King, in Heaven! How can this be?
Here’s how. Psalm 110:2: “When the LORD (God the Father) extends your (Jesus’) mighty scepter (Jesus’ rule) from Zion (the people of God, living every day on the earth), rule in the midst of your enemies’” This is how Jesus’ enemies will be defeated—the Head rules in Heaven while the Body, the church, lives on earth, every day, in the normal course of events, ruling “in the midst of Your (Jesus’) enemies,” by the power of the Holy Spirit—as they interact with them daily. Jesus is clear: the very “gates of Hell shall not prevail against” this daily attack of love, joy and peace, flowing from the church like a river of living water that inundates those gates and converts Jesus’ enemies (Matthew 16:18).
Daniel tells us the same story. After Jesus received His kingdom in 7:14, as we saw last week, Daniel recounts what He will do with it in verse 27: “And the kingdom and the dominion and the greatness of the kingdoms under the whole heaven shall be given to the people of the saints of the Most High. His kingdom shall be an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey him.” He is giving this eternal kingdom to us, “the saints of the Most High,” day by day, as we live in a fallen, sinful culture.
So, Jesus did the heavy-lifting at the cross, by dying for the world—what He came to earth to do: “For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him” (John 3:17). Now He has returned to Heaven, received His kingdom, and currently rules over it from His Father’s right hand. He does so through us on earth, including occupying and rebuilding the earth according to the law of God, and eliminating Satan’s guerilla forces as they are converted to Jesus Christ the King. The New Earth of Revelation 21 is under construction!
Last week’s question has now been answered: kingdom, kingdom, who’s got the kingdom? Now we know—we do, God’s people, the Saints of the Most High! However, Psalm 110 (or this blog) is not a “call to action,” not a challenge to “be more committed,” or to “join the battle,” or to “bring in the kingdom.” In the next verse in Psalm 110:3, David tells us the only way we can truly rule with Him: “Your people shall be volunteers In the day of Your power.” We are only ready for ruling when we are eager volunteers—when we can’t not volunteer!
We are like so many young men in America when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor at the beginning of WWII; they enlisted in the Armed Forces the next day. When you’re ready to fight, you can’t remain a civilian.
Next week we will explore the next phrase in Psalm 110:3 which tells us when that will happen—precisely when we won’t be able to remain civilians any longer.