Today I am continuing to try to teach you what I’ve learned from Father John Riccardo’s book Rescued: The Unexpected and Extraordinary News of the Gospel. I highly recommend this book. If you get a chance, please read it!
In the first part we learned about why God created us and that we have a purpose. We learned about His incredible love for us. We know that we are more beloved to God than anything else that He has created. That’s all great, isn’t it? Then how come life is such a mess? If he’s such a loving God then why do terrible things happen to good people? Why is there poverty and hunger? Why do children die of cancer? Why do people suffer?
In order to figure this out we need to go back to before the beginning. The Bible doesn’t tell us EVERYTHING that God created, it only tells one part of it: our story. It doesn’t tell us everything that was in existence before God decided to start making our universe. We are given a hint, though, that God wasn’t alone. “Then God said: Let us make human beings in our image, after our likeness.” (Genesis 1:26, NACBRE) Obviously there was somebody else with him. We already know that Jesus and the Holy Spirit were there (John 1:1-5). As you read through the Bible you realize that God just assumes that you know he has his Angel Corps working, too. In fact, after Adam and Eve are kicked out of Eden, God posts two sentries at the gate to protect the tree of life. “He expelled the man, stationing the cherubim and the fiery revolving sword east of the gard of Eden, to guard the way to the tree of life.” (Genesis 3:24, NABRE). You might wonder, like I did, why He didn’t come out and tell you about the angels at the beginning. After all, at least a couple of them have big parts in the Bible. Then I thought about all of the biographies I’ve read and they never tell you about stuff that isn’t very pertinent to the story. If I was writing a book about my life I wouldn’t have to tell you that I have grandparents because you would just assume that I did. God trusts that we don’t have to be given every little detail in order to understand what’s going on. As it becomes important we are given the information.
God created EVERYTHING, including angels. He gave them some pretty sweet powers and special jobs. There were the two angels that He sent to Sodom and Gomorrah and we can’t forget the angel Gabriel who appeared to Mary to tell her that she will be the mother of the Son of the Most High. Did we need to know what the angels names were who went to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah? Apparently not because they aren’t ever mentioned. So we can see that angels are very special beings who serve God and are with him all the time, even if we don’t know exactly how many there are or what each of them do.
In fact, we don’t even realize that we are introduced to one of the fallen angels at the very beginning of the Bible. We know that we’ve just been shown how we were expelled from the Garden and that Death entered the world, but we aren’t told that it was all due to a bitter and envious ex-angel, Lucifer, until much later.
“How you have fallen from the heavens, O Morning Star, son of the dawn! How you have been cut down to the earth, you who conquered nations! In your heart you said: ‘I will scal the heavens; Above the stars of God I will set up my throne; I will take my seat on the Mount of Assembly, on the heights of Zaphon. I will ascend above the tops of the clouds; I will be like the Most High!'”Isaiah 14:12-14 (NABRE)
A translation of ‘O Morning Star’ is ‘Lucifer.’
“You were a seal of perfection, full of wisdom, perfect in beauty.
In Eden, the garden of God, you lived; precious stones of every kind were your covering: Carnelain, topaz, and beryl, chrysolite, onyx, and jasper, sapphire, garnet, and emerald.
Their mounts and settings were wrought in gold, fashioned for you the day you were created.
With a cherub I placed you; I put you on the holy mountain of God, where you walked among fiery stones.
Blameless were you in your ways from the day you were created, Until evil was found in you.”Ezekiel 28:12b-15 (NABRE)
Both Isaiah and Ezekiel tell us that Lucifer was part of God’s group of angels, but then out of his own free will, he became evil. God didn’t create him to be evil. Everything that God created was good. So how did Lucifer become evil?
“But by the envy of the devil, death entered the world, and they who are allied with him experience it.”Wisdom 2:24 (NABRE)
Okay, I think I’m starting to see the picture. To be sure, though, let’s take a look at the definition of envy. “A feeling of discontent or covetousness with regard to another’s advantages, success, possessions, etc.” per Dictionary.com. What other words can be substituted for envy? Hatred, ill will, malice, prejudice, resentment, rivalry, coveting, maliciousness, spite…
Isaiah says that the Devil’s problem was he wanted to be more powerful than God. Then Ezekiel states that the Devil lived in Eden and was placed among the most precious things, and that he had been good until the day that he came down with a case of the Evil. Why? Due to Envy. What did the Devil envy? Here he is, hanging out in Eden, enjoying the beautiful weather and looking at everything God has created. There are plants, fish and creatures of every kind. Everything is great! But then…. God created humans. Humans weren’t created to serve as slaves for God (despite what some other ancient myths would have you believe), instead they were created to be equal with the angels. And God loved them so much!! Apparently He loved them even more than the angels because they seemed to have a special relationship. Knowing God and how things go in the grand scheme of things, Lucifer probably figured that the angels would have to serve these creatures who were not nearly as powerful or special as they were, and that these humans were destined to be as great, if not greater, than him! This is where the feeling of discontent regarding another’s advantages and success comes in. Why should a powerful being like him have to serve those gross humans?? So he came up with a plan and carried it out with great success, for the most part. Sure he was kicked out of the garden, but so were the humans and now they would also be subject to Death. Death is a power that we can’t control. No matter what you do, Death will eventually get you and everybody you love.
That’s why there is evil in the world. HATRED. RIVALRY. MALICE. RESENTMENT. The Devil HATES you. He doesn’t hate God. HE HATES YOU. He knows the kind of forgiving love that God has for all of us, so it’s the Devil’s job to make sure that you turn from that love. Not only does he want to separate you from the love of God, but he wants to degrade and enslave you. I guess in one way that also gives him more power than God; the power and control that he holds over drug addicts is often more powerful than any willpower or love of God. Think of any of the other sins: lust, greed, gluttony, sloth, wrath, envy, prejudice. If you have fallen under the spell of one of these, then you know the power and control that the Devil holds over you. It’s not easy to shake off, but God loves us and has given us the Devil’s playbook so that we can learn the strategies that are employed against us and how we can twart them. But that will have to wait until next time…