“At the heart of the story stands the cross of Christ where evil did its worst and met its match.”
~ John Wenham
” ‘I will ascend above the tops of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High’.” But you are brought down to the grave, to the depths of the pit. Those who see you stare at you, they ponder your fate: Is this the man who shook the earth and made kingdoms tremble, the man who made the world a desert, who overthrew its cities and would not let his captives go home? All the kings of the nations lie in state, each in his own tomb. But you are cast out of your tomb like a rejected branch; you are covered with the slain, with those pierced by the sword, those who descend to the stones of the pit.” Isaiah 14:15-19
The imagery in this passage of Satan’s demise has always captured my thoughts. Certainly he knows these verses by heart – letter by letter, line by humiliating line. However, pride keeps him from accepting his fate now. He knows his destruction, yet he also knows the longsuffering of God. Satan can not steal God’s authority but He can break His heart through stealing away His creation. He works feverishly with every moment remaining to continue the deception that began in the Garden, “God does not want what is best for you. He does not love you. He enjoys lording over you. Would you like to be equal with Him, wiser than Him, or better yet, ascend above Him…?” And many, perhaps with a whisper at first, reply with a chilling ‘Yes’.
And so begins the descent into the abyss. Satan knows he is going, but he is determined to not go alone. I love the KJV rendering of verse 16, “They that see thee shall narrowly look upon thee”. It is the stunned look of bewilderment, the face of Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz when the wizard is revealed to be a weak man skilled with magnified voice, smoke, and mirrors. Such is Satan and on the day of his revealing, many will weep and wail and gnash their teeth because in some way, for whatever comfort can be found in hell, their minds may have been eased in knowing he was more powerful than they. That they had no choice. That no one on whom his eye had settled could resist. However, there will be no peace when the curtain is thrown back to betray his true being – weak and powerless with maggots for a bed and worms for a blanket.
Where our Savior Jesus Christ is the Branch of the Lord in Isaiah and the Righteous Branch in Jeremiah, Satan will find himself the Rejected Branch even by the grave which opens wide to receive him. There will be no pomp for the return of this king. Satan is forever trying to convince mankind the second death belongs to us and I have often wondered, does he somehow believe he can exchange his end with ours? Did he believe Jesus’ death would, in a somewhat different way, save him too on that dark day at Golgotha? Who can fathom the madness of one bent on stealing, killing, and destroying?
Praise God in Heaven, we know the wages of sin and the end thereof is destruction. But for those who call on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, the end is peace, love and light. Satan was cast in shame from the tomb but our Savior stood and triumphantly walked away. No one took His life – He laid it down, He picked it up, He lives it in us by His Spirit today. All because of a Cross and Death which held no power over him.
Evil did its best, indeed, but its best was not enough. There is but One who IS enough, the ever-present, ever-living I AM. Raise your hands and voices to Him this Passion Week! Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!