“Unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.” – John 12:24
“The last enemy to be destroyed is death...Death is swallowed up in victory.” – 1 Corinthians 15:26, 54
"The greater the sin, the greater the mercy, the deeper the death and the brighter the rebirth.” - C. S. Lewis
"This story...has the very taste of primary truth." - J. R. R. Tolkien

Monday, March 9, 2009

A Deeper Wisdom

But God is not mystified by the darkness as the Enemy is by the light; he ordained it and knows its inevitable failure. Jesus knew what he was doing, and he knew he would rise. As the Maker of all things and Author of all reality, God has and always had complete knowledge of and sovereignty over creation. It is because of who he is, then, that God retained the upper hand in the Great Battle between himself and the evil one. The Victory of God was won because of the absolute supremacy of God – he is before all things and underneath all things and above all things and the end of all things. No evil design or plot of darkness can elude his knowledge or outmatch his wisdom – he knows and sees all. Before the foundation of the universe he knew Satan’s every move – in the wilderness, in Gethsemane, at the cross.1 Satan is but a creature, and a creature that fell out of touch with reality – his doom was sealed from the beginning.2 God’s love and justice are deeper and older and stronger than any weapon of evil. His wisdom is deep and eternal, original and infinite, and his ways are true and foundational to reality.

“And thou, Melkor, shalt see that no theme may be played that hath not its uttermost source in me, nor can any alter the music in my despite. For he that attempteth this shall prove but mine instrument in the devising of things more beautiful, which he himself hath not imagined.” – J. R. R. Tolkien, The Silmarillion

“It was by the Evil One himself that he brought us out…Little did that dark mind know the errand on which he really came to Perelandra!” – C. S. Lewis, Perelandra, p. 209
1 Satan’s success in tempting Eve to sin became an important element in God’s redemptive plan, and, as John Piper explains in Spectacular Sins, his actions throughout redemptive history were woven into God’s plan. It seems that behind all Satan’s actions was a blindness and inability to understand God’s ways – he was unknowingly acting the part God had purposed for him.

2 One might object that God’s victory was over a weak opponent and therefore a cheap and petty victory. First, this kind of reasoning will not accept any sort of “divine victory” because no opponent could possibly compare to God. That seems a bit strict as far as standards for victory over evil go. Must God’s victory be measured by the strength and skill of the opponent? I think not. When it is God’s victory that is being discussed, a better standard is the level of good achieved by the victory. The victory is great not because Satan was ever a real danger or threat to God (as if God worried that he might lose) but because it achieved a deeper and greater unveiling of God’s wisdom and power. Also, the victory is measured in part by the sacrifice made, and the sacrifice of the cross was more costly than we can imagine. That God endured and overcame the cross of all things is surely an incomparable victory.

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