The War Behind All Wars

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(Revelation 12, Ezekiel 28, Genesis 1-3)
Lesson Number: 

Lesson 1

The War Behind All Wars

(Revelation 12, Ezekiel 28, Genesis 1-3)

Copr. 2024, 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 many people have trouble believing in a good and all-powerful God because terrible evil exists? How many individuals reject God because of an awful thing that happened to a friend or family member? When I visited a church in California and taught the Sabbath lesson, a member asked me to come to lunch to talk about God with some friends who had questions. Their story was that their parents and children were all killed in a car crash. What did I have to say about that? Let’s dive into our study to see what the Bible has to teach us about the origin of evil!

  1. War
    1. Read Revelation 12:7-9. Who is the “dragon?” (These verses identify him as Satan.)
      1. How completely was Satan defeated? (He not only lost the battle, but he and his allied angels were thrown out of heaven.)
      2. Why was there no longer “any place” for Satan and his angels in heaven?
    2. Read Revelation 12:3-4. Is this the same dragon that is referred to in Revelation 12:7? (It must be because it is a “great” dragon. Only the color red is added to the description.)
      1. Why do you think Satan is referred to as “red?” (Read John 8:44. Satan is referred to as a “murderer.” The color red is the color of blood.)
      2. What percentage of the angels in heaven did Satan persuade to join him against God? (One third.)
    3. Read Psalms 8:3-6. Does this mean that we are inferior to angels? (Yes.)
      1. Contemplate this for a little bit. Perfect angels, who are a superior creation to us, were persuaded in large numbers to follow Satan. What hope do you have to stand alone against Satan?
      2. Many people believe that it is acceptable to be involved in the occult, or watch movies about demons. What does this evidence of Satan’s deception skills teach us about dabbling in the occult? (We should run away from it!)
  2. What Caused War?
    1. Read Ezekiel 28:13-16. These verses seem to have a dual reference. One to an earthly king, and the other to an angelic being who was anointed as “guardian cherub” who was “on the holy mountain of God.” What earthly king was also an angel and lived on the holy mountain in heaven? (This could not refer to a human. On the other hand, this fits the description of Satan who was cast to the earth.)
    2. Read Ezekiel 28:17. How did sin arise in a perfect being in a perfect setting? (Pride. Pride about his beauty and splendor. Satan “corrupted [his] wisdom to increase his splendor.”)
      1. If you are handsome or beautiful, do you understand this? Do you understand the temptation to pride?
      2. If you are not handsome or beautiful, do you see these traits in very good-looking people? Do they use their looks to increase their splendor?
        1. Is there anything wrong with increasing your splendor? Becoming even better looking? (Ezekiel 28:16 refers to the use of “violence” and Ezekiel 28:17 refers to “corrupt[ing]” wisdom to advance splendor. The problem is not the splendor, the problem is the methods Satan used to advance his splendor.)
      3. Does this show how “perfect” can create imperfect?
    3. Read Isaiah 14:12-14. What was the goal of Satan’s splendor? (To be like God. He wanted to be God.)
    4. Read Genesis 3:2-6. Study verse five carefully. What is the basis for this temptation to be disloyal to God? (“You will be like God.”)
    5. Read Genesis 1:31. Consider the parallels. Heaven is perfect. Adam and Eve are created perfect in a perfect world. What caused the introduction of sin in both perfect places? (An ambition to be like God. Satan used his beauty and power to persuade others to rebel against God so that he could be like God.)
      1. Do you think Satan and his allies use that same temptation against you?
      2. Think about the premise for idol worship. Something made with your hands takes on god-like properties. Is idol worship (worship of what you have done) a version of the original temptation?
  3. Two Trees
    1. Read Genesis 2:15-17 and Genesis 3:3-4. Where is the tree of the knowledge of good and evil located? (It is in the “midst” (middle) of the garden of Eden. I looked at how Strong’s says this word should be translated and he uses words that refer to geometry - something in the middle or center. Something that bisects a line.)
    2. Read Genesis 3:22-24. What other special tree do we find in the garden of Eden? (The tree of life.)
    3. We have two trees. One brings life and the other brings death. Why would God have a death tree in center of His perfect creation?
      1. Because of the importance of the tree of life, I think it likely that the two special trees were near each other in the center of the garden. Why would God do that? Why allow that? (The narrative in Genesis 1-3 is that God created a perfect world with perfect people. Part of that perfection was giving them free choice. If they were sophisticated robots, they would not be perfect and not be created in the image of God as rulers. See Genesis 1:27-28.)
      2. Why would God specifically arrange for the possibility of rebellion and sin?
        1. Does this look like an agreed-upon test between God and Satan? (That is exactly what I think is going on.)
        2. Why would God agree to it? (He would not want Satan constantly tempting and harassing Adam and Eve in the same way he attacked Jesus.)
  4. The Argument of Love
    1. Imagine that you are an outside observer of what we have just studied. Imagine that immediately after the fall of humans you are asked about the conflict between God and Satan. How would you rate God’s ability to win the debate between good and evil? (God won the debate in the minds of most of the angels. He lost the debate with humans - even though God had theoretically unlimited contact with Adam and Eve, and Satan had only the contact permitted by the rules of engagement.)
    2. Read 1 Peter 3:18-22 and Hebrews 2:9-10. How did Jesus win us back? (He died for us! The winning approach was not debate, not superior force, but rather self-sacrificing love.)
    3. Recall the introduction where I asked why evil exists when we have an all-powerful God? Recall the challenge for me to explain how a loving God would allow a couple’s parents and children to be killed in a car accident? What is the answer? (The answer is that God gave us free choice. We chose Satan.)
      1. With the passage of time, is the choice between God and Satan easier to make? (The vector of evil is now clear. We see the results of sin. The terrible things that happen on earth are all the result of choosing Satan.)
      2. If the choice is now so obvious, why are so many people seemingly making the wrong choice? (Go back to the temptation that caused Satan and Eve to fail. Pride. Pride of appearance and power.)
    4. Read Hebrews 4:14-16 and Hebrews 7:24-28. Because of Jesus’ sacrifice for us, what is He currently doing? (He is working as our intercessor in the heavenly sanctuary!)
    5. Friend, Jesus defeated Satan through love! He gave up Himself for us. He suffered the worst at the hands of Satan. What a compelling argument for choosing God. The fact that Jesus’ sacrifice allows us to have eternal life is just that much better! Will you choose good over evil, Jesus over Satan? Why not make that choice right now?
  5. Next week: The Central Issue: Love or Selfishness?