Rebellion in a Perfect Universe

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Matthew 13, Ezekiel 28, 1 John 4
Lesson Number: 

Lesson 1

Rebellion in a Perfect Universe

(Matthew 13, Ezekiel 28, 1 John 4)

Copr. 2022, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D. Scripture quotations are from the ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved. Suggested answers are found within parentheses. If you normally receive this lesson by e-mail, but it is lost one week, you can find it by clicking on this link: Pray for the guidance of the Holy Spirit as you study.

Introduction: How did evil arise in the perfect universe created by God? Some Christians say that imperfect humans can never fully understand a perfect and all-knowing God. That is true, but some questions go to the very nature of our relationship with God. Did evil arise because part of God is evil? Perhaps our perfect universe was not so perfect? While God tells us in Genesis how evil entered our world as a result of the decisions of Adam and Eve, how did evil enter the heart of the serpent (Satan) who tempted them to embrace evil? Let’s jump into our study of the Bible and see what we can find has been revealed to us by our loving Father in Heaven!

  1. The Mystery
    1. Read Matthew 13:27. Is this essentially the question that we have about how evil came to be when our God planted “good seed?” (Yes.)
    2. Read Matthew 13:24-26 to find Jesus’ answer. Jesus says this story teaches us a lesson about the Kingdom of Heaven. What does it teach us about the origin of evil in this field? (An enemy sowed the weeds. That is how “evil” appeared in this field of good seed. “The man” planted good seed.)
      1. What questions does this naturally raise? (Who is this enemy, where did he come from, and what reason does he have to try to ruin the field of wheat?)
      2. When we apply this parable to humans there is one problem, it was the “good seed” that sinned. Satan did not import bad people into Eden. How do you explain this?
  2. The Origin of Evil
    1. Read Ezekiel 28:12. What do we learn about the origin of the “King of Tyre?” (He was the “signet” of perfection” and “perfect in beauty.” Signet reminds us of a “signet ring” used to seal documents. Thus, this means that this person bore the seal of perfection.)
    2. Read Ezekiel 28:13. Wait a minute! How many people were in Eden, according to Genesis? (We are told about Adam and Eve, and none other are described as being present except God and the serpent that tempted Eve.)
      1. Using the process of elimination, who is the King of Tyre? (He must be the serpent.)
    3. Read Genesis 3:1 and Revelation 12:9. Let’s think about this a minute. Satan is not actually a snake. He was the power behind the snake (or he took the form of a snake). Can you see a similarity with the King of Tyre - that Satan is the power behind the King or took the form of the King? (I think that must be the case because I feel confident Eden had no king, other than God, and He does not come from Tyre!)
    4. Read Ezekiel 28:14. Where else is this King of Tyre? (“On the holy mountain of God.”)
      1. Where is that? (Read Isaiah 14:12-14. This is a reference to heaven. This guy gets around!)
    5. Read Ezekiel 28:15. Note this says that Satan was created and that at some point in time “unrighteousness was found in [him].”
      1. Does this explain how a perfectly created being could have unrighteousness suddenly arise? (No.)
    6. Read Ezekiel 28:17-18. What seems to be the defect in Satan? (Vanity over his beauty.)
      1. What do you think is meant by “your trade” that “profaned your sanctuaries?”
      2. Re-read Isaiah 14:12-14 and read Job 1:6-9. What do these two references suggest is the nature of the relationship between God and Satan? (They are rivals in that Satan wants to be God. This is consistent with Satan’s vanity.)
      3. Can being perfect and beautiful be a defect?
      4. Consider your life. If the original sin is pride (based on beauty) why would Satan believe that he should take God’s place?
        1. Is all pride illogical?
    7. I want to take a deeper dive into the pride, beauty, value question. Re-read Ezekiel 28:13. When was this jewelry created for Satan? (“On the day that you were created they were prepared.”)
      1. Who prepared this jewelry for Satan? (It must have been God. Certainly, it had to be done at His direction.)
      2. Is this jewelry part of the pride of beauty issue? (That is what the text suggests.)
      3. What lesson do you learn from this? (Beauty, precious stones, gold (like money) have nothing inherently wrong with them. Just the opposite, they are beautiful. The problem comes when a human does what Satan did - begin to believe that they make you more important that others. In Satan’s case he thought it made him more important than God. This is the illogical nature of pride.)
    8. Read Revelation 12:4. What results from Satan’s rivalry with God? (That a third of the angels supported Satan in his challenge to God.)
      1. How could that happen? (We know in that in Eden Adam and Eve had free choice. This shows that in heaven, the angels had free choice.)
    9. Assume that we have looked at all of the pertinent facts in the Bible about the origin of sin. What do you conclude is the “defect” in the perfect creation that allowed sin to enter? (Pride is the motivating problem coupled with free choice. Satan chose to challenge God’s sovereignty. Angels chose to reject God. We saw that same thing with Adam and Eve in Eden.)
      1. Is free choice a defect? Would you want to live among people who had no choice about whether they wanted to be your friend?
    10. Read 1 John 4:7. Answer a more fundamental question, does true love require free choice? Would you truly feel loved if your spouse and your children had no choice in the matter?
  1. God’s View
    1. We have considered the “defect” question. Love requires free choice and free choice coupled with illogical pride opens the door to sin. Do you have mixed feelings about the need for full free choice?
      1. There is a strong current among young people today that individuals should not have free choice - for example no one should be able to choose to express hate. No one should be able to express hate. Do you agree with this?
      2. One problem is defining “hate.” Among many young people “hate” is anything that they do not like. The Bible, for example, is a source of “hate” because it declares that certain choices are sinful and lead to death. Would any limits on free choice present love problems?
    2. Read 1 John 4:9. Put yourself in God’s place. You know that showing absolute love, which requires complete free choice, means that Your Son will suffer embarrassment, torture, and death. Would you give free choice if that was the price? (Our minds cannot grasp the mind of God, but we can look at the choices that He made and draw conclusions from them. The obvious conclusion is that if God had another way to show absolute love, He would have chosen it.)
    3. Read Matthew 26:39. Was God the Father listening to Jesus’ prayer?
      1. What is the answer to Jesus’ prayer? (There was no other way. We now are certain that God’s decision making was just as we discussed. He had no other way to show absolute love and free choice.)
      2. Think about this with regard to the important decisions that you make in your life. How crucial is giving free choice to humans when it comes to their relationship with God?
      3. How important is it in your life to separate beauty from pride?
    4. Friend, when evil comes into your life and you are tempted to blame God, think about what we have just studied. God has such absolute love for us that He was willing to die to allow us to choose to reject Him. Will you respond to God’s love by choosing Him?
  2. Next week: Death in a Sinful World.