Just recently I was thinking about this issue of evil as opposed to the condition of things on the earth before sin entered the world, i.e., the Garden of Eden from Genesis 1-3. The picture the Bible reveals is idyllic and absent from evil. It tells us that in the beginning God had created the world to be a place of unending peace--a utopia for His creation. Then sin entered the picture.
Col 1:17 states: "And He [Jesus] is before all things, and in Him all things consist" In the original Greek, the word "consist," συνίστημι (sunistēmi) is a compound word with συν (son)and ιστημι (a "μι" verb), making one word from the two. When separated they mean "to gather or assemble," and "to stand," respectively. Compounded, they mean, "to come to be in a condition of coherence, continue, endure, exist, [and] hold together," (BDAG). The passage teaches that in Christ all things stand and are held fast together. This includes His will now as much as His will then, in the pre-fall days of the earth. That time was characterized this way in the Bible and specifically, Genesis:
- The birds and beasts were all in harmony with mankind
- The climate was perfect and set to continue as such without harm to His creation
- Human life was eternal on earth and in the paradise God created for us
- There was no death -- remember death came as a result of sin. There was no preadamic earth where plants and animals existed and died.
- There was no hard labor in bringing forth food and shelter, instead the earth brought forth food supplies on its own.
- The Earth was encompassed with a canopy that kept all climates temperate and held in check, Genesis 1:6-7.
- There was harmony between God and man. There was no sin.
Then sin entered the world
Unfortunately for us and the groaning earth (Rom 8:20-22), God's will now stands within the bounds of the curse that was placed upon earth and humanity when sin entered the world.
- The birds and beasts are not at all in harmony with mankind, we can rule over them, but they also can kill us.
- The climate is no longer perfect and now continues in its imperfect state, sometimes bringing devastation and harm to His creation -- devastation that was unleashed by the bursting of the canopy that surrounded the earth, resulting in pouring rain all over the earth. Simultaneously, the fountains of the deep (oceans) exploded underwater in a cacophony of volcanic display--both of which contributed to the great flood and the the catastrophic weather patterns we still see today.
- Human life is now limited to 70 years, or if by God's will and grace, longer; but no longer eternal.
- There is now death that can come at any age
- There is now hard, continuous labor in bringing forth food and shelter. The law of entropy plagues everything so that nothing can exist without decay.
- The Earth is no longer encompassed with a full canopy that could hold back changes in climate that bring, drought, famine, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, tsunami's, hurricanes, tornadoes, hail and such.
But there is a coming morning--a new day on the horizon--wherein the Lord will partially lift this curse, and then in the end, fully lift it from overshadowing and plaguing His creation. It is a day which all people should long for, but it does not happen overnight. That day is spelled out in Rev. 12:7-17.
7 And war broke out in heaven: Michael and his angels fought with the dragon; and the dragon and his angels fought, 8 but they did not prevail, nor was a place found for them in heaven any longer. 9 So the great dragon was cast out, that serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was cast to the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.
10 Then I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, “Now salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of His Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren, who accused them before our God day and night, has been cast down. 11 And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death. 12 Therefore rejoice, O heavens, and you who dwell in them! Woe to the inhabitants of the earth and the sea! For the devil has come down to you, having great wrath, because he knows that he has a short time.”
13 Now when the dragon saw that he had been cast to the earth, he persecuted the woman who gave birth to the male Child. 14 But the woman was given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness to her place, where she is nourished for a time and times and half a time, from the presence of the serpent. 15 So the serpent spewed water out of his mouth like a flood after the woman, that he might cause her to be carried away by the flood. 16 But the earth helped the woman, and the earth opened its mouth and swallowed up the flood which the dragon had spewed out of his mouth. 17 And the dragon was enraged with the woman, and he went to make war with the rest of her offspring, who keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus Christ. -- NKJV.
The fact that the above descriptive passage occurs during the Tribulation Period is clearly evident for the following reasons:
- The "tribulation overcomers" of vs. 11 who would face death during that terrible time
- By the "short time" of the devil in vs.12
- By the "persecution of Israel, (pictured by the woman who gave birth to the Male Child, Christ) vs. 13
- By the "place of protection" that God prepares for Israel in the "wilderness" where she is under divine provision for 3.5 years (a time (1) a times (2) and a half of time (1/2), and the divine protection from the Dragon, vs. 14-16
But prefacing all of this action is vss. 7-10. Satan is cast out of heaven and no longer is able to accuse the brethren (cf. Zech 3:1-5 for Satan in action and the decree of God toward the righteous in thwarting accusations against those robed in God's righteousness). In these passages we also see the lifting of the permissive or sometimes called, the passive will of God. In and by His sovereign choosing alone, God has allowed the curse to continue till such time as He lifts it. That time has come -- and we rejoice because of it.
Immediately preceding this time when God is decreeing His final judgment against evil, war breaks out in heaven. The angels who serve God night and day under the awesome charge of that mighty and powerful Archangel , Michael, subdue the Prince of the Power of the Air, Satan and his evil cohorts. No place is found for them in heaven any longer, vs. 8. What follows is God sovereignly putting aside His permissive will and all that Jesus was, is, and will always be comes into play. Sin and evil will begin to fade as the power, strength and salvation of God that supremely exist in 'Who He Is' (The I Am) burst forth in the resplendent glory of rule that underscores the true meaning of the Kingdom of God. The final stages of the wrath of God are poured out upon the earth against Satan, his angels, the unbelieving world, the antichrist, the false prophet and all who have freely taken the mark of the beast.
These are the days of vengeance against all evil ever perpetrated on the face of the earth. This begins the time when God's answer to the plea of tribulation saints of the fifth Seal in Rev. 6:9-11 begins to take place. Like the flood of Noah, which swept away all evil that was being continually perpetuated on earth, so the current evils are finally judged and condemned. When complete, at the Second Coming of Christ which ends the horrors of sin being judged, preparations begin to be made for the coming dawn of Christs rule on Earth -- The Millennial Kingdom. And oh what a day it will be.
In the meantime, evil exists by God's permissive will. Sin, its destructive way, the world, the flesh, and the devil continue to perpetrate and promote all that is an affront to God and His holiness--God only allowing it in order for the church to finish its evangelistic efforts to bring as many into the fold of God as possible. Thousands pray daily for the salvation of their friends and loved ones. It is these prayers and God's love for His creation that I believe is holding back the wrath of God even now.
- I think it is amazing that the church is in heaven when sin is being judged, and the way is made open for Israel to finally come into the bond of the New Covenant (Ezek. 20:33-38).
- I am also convinced that the church in heaven will be standing before the Judgment Seat of Christ (Rom. 14:10, 2 Cor. 5:10) during the days of wrath being poured out on the earth. Perhaps the Judgment Seat occurs only during the first 1/2 of the tribulation, Satan being given one last chance to accuse the brethren, only to be rebuked by God and cast out of His presence, showing He has no authority over the blood bought saints of God who trusted in Christ alone for salvation, (that is you and I brothers and sisters.)
- During this first 3.5 years of the tribulation the four horsemen of the first four seals unleash the antichrist, war, famine, and disease on earth. The final 3.5 years of the tribulation being more focused on the greater and more destructive supernatural judgments of God from heaven.
- It is also during this final 3.5 years that in heaven the church becomes the full wedded Bride of Christ.