Now, if the establis hm ent of the Kingdom of God on earth is a restoration , then it can’t be the first time it was here, can it? So when Christ returns to establish His Kingdom, it’s not going to be a first time event, but the reclamation of an office and a territory that He held long ago. For those who have read Tolkien, we might call the second coming of Christ, The Return of the King .
The Kingdom of God has been established possibly twice before on earth – and twice relinquished in two universal rebellions. Let’s take a look at the Bible today and see what we can see about these.
The things that we’re going to cover are not – most of them – definitive proof of anything. It’s kind of like doing psychotherapy, if I might liken it to that. Why do I say that? Well, psychotherapists have to take what people say and then understand what it means, even though sometimes they don’t directly talk about it. I’ll give you an example.
I had an eighteen-year-old client who was busted on multiple DWIs at that young age. And his mother sent him to therapy to “get to the bottom of his problem.” So it was a mystery to her – and at first to me – why this kept happening. He was not an alcoholic. He hardly ever drinks. He only drinks at parties. And then he really drinks when he’s in that situation and makes some really poor choices. So he got busted. He got in big trouble. Since he’s eighteen now, his second offense was not as a minor. The question is, “Why is he doing this?” One day, after he’d been in therapy for some time, he mentioned that he had a crazy dream the night before. And I asked him to tell me about it. He said that in his dream he was friends with Lindsay Lohan, and that they went shopping together, and that it was really cool to be with somebody famous. And he noticed that as they walked down the street that everybody noticed here. And he thought about how nice it would be if he could be like that. And then nothing more.
So let’s ask ourselves, “What kind of trouble is Lindsay Lohan in?” She’s in the same kind of trouble he’s in, isn’t she? She, apparently, makes some really poor choices about her use of alcohol and drugs. So in that same session, he also told me that that evening he was going out on a date with a girl who had a perfect smile, and who could smile her way out of any kind of trouble. From there he said, “It would be good to be famous” again.
So what does all that mean? Well, we don’t really know yet, but we can start thinking about what it might mean. And when we look at this boy’s life, we see that both his parents provide for him very well. His dad makes a lot of money. But they’re divorced, and they’ve both gone off doing their own thing, and he’s, a lot of times, left to himself. From the time he was young, that’s been the case. It’s been that way all his life.
So we’re going to hypothesize that his poor choices in driving drunk also serve another purpose. Can I prove it at this point? Well, I can’t. No. But I have an idea of what’s going on. And you probably do, too, after you’ve heard the pieces put together a little bit. It’s a way to draw attention to himself – and to get the attention of the people that love him and that he loves.
So that’s what I mean by having to kind of ferrett out what’s going on. So it is, sometimes, from the pages of the Bible. We get bits of information. You know, it says that it’s to the glory of God to conceal matters. So He leaves us little clues, and let’s us wonder about a lot of things that aren’t absolutely essential to salvation. Are the things that we’re going to read today the sum of definitive proof? No. We’re just going to wonder what they mean. But a picture starts to come together when you put certain scriptures together.
As we just look at the universe – not talking about the Bible now, but just looking at the way things are – the geological record and what we can see in telescopes – we can see signs of disruption and destruction in the universe. You can look at the face of the moon. You can look at the face of Mars. There’s an asteroid belt out there that they’ve postulated might have been a planet at one time that was blown to pieces. And there are many, many, many eerie and mysterious signs beyond our own solar system of some kind of destruction – some catastrophic event. Nobody can prove it, but one wonders if all these signs are not evidence of something that’s recorded in scripture.
The earth also carries marks on it of things in the past. There is evidence of two global catastrophies that we can be aware of. The sudden and violent destruction of all types of creatures fill the geologic record at one point. The Bible bears testimony that at one time the earth was a darkened orb covered completely with inky waters. And it uses terms like chaos and confusion to describe the state of the planet in ages past. And yet God tells us that He is not the author of confusion. He creates things in an orderly way.
Well, the story of how everything was ruined, and then restored, and then ruined again, and finally how it’s going to be restored a second time for all time is part of the story of this day – the Day of Atonement. It’s kind of like coming in in the middle of a movie. We’re here in time, and we’re in the center – or the middle – or, maybe, toward the end even of what’s come before in the plan of God. And so to understand what’s going on, we have to rewind back to the beginning again. So let’s do that. Let’s go to Genesis 1:1. It’s says:
Gen. 1:1 – In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now it’s not just when the earth was created, but the whole universe – the heavens and the earth. So, when was that?
Some people believe that it happened six thousand years ago and God created everything to look like it’s older than it is. That might be true, but it might not, too. That’s just somebody’s idea. I tend to think that that’s not the case, because I think that we can put things together in such a way that it makes a case for it being much older than that and still fit in with what the Bible says.
So when did God do that? The universe is a gigantic clock. It’s running down gradually. It had a beginning and it also has an end. And we can know this scientifically – mainly because it’s physical and all matter runs down. And its age can be measured. Scientists estimate three to five billion years ago. That could have been when in the beginning happened. In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.
Let’s learn something else. In Job 38, verse 4, God challenges Job. And He says:
Job 38:4 – Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth? Tell Me, if you have any understanding.
V-6 – To what were its foundations fastened? Or who laid its cornerstone when the morning stars sang together and all the sons of God shouted for joy? “Morning stars” is a poetic, or symbolic, term for angels . Stars don’t shout for joy, do they? It’s a term that God uses to describe angels. And He says that they were present and observing when God created the heavens and the earth. They were in existence when all that happened.
Today we’re mainly concerned with the most powerful type of angel – and that would be a cherub – plural, cherubim. There are only three of these mentioned in scripture. There’s Michael. There’s Gabriel. And then there’s Lucifer.
What is a cherub like? I’m not talking about what you might see in the cartoons, or on TV, or in movies. But what is a cherub like according to God, the One who made them? How many people here have seen the movie, Close Encounters of the Third Kind ? Remember when the big spaceship came out? Better than that, remember the guy who had to run for the porta-potty? Most biblical accounts of people encountering a cherub include the cherub telling the person to quit quaking and groveling on the ground and get up. They are beautiful. They are intelligent. They are talented. And they are powerful creatures – awe inspiring! And all three of these cherubs, we’re told, were originally assigned to the throne of God. They are some of His highest counselors and servants. These were His immediate counselors and emissaries.
One of those – whose name was Lucifer – we think that he had a very special job, because his name meant light bringer . Jesus tells us that light is like the truth. Here we’re having to infer – just like I was having to infer about that boy – that Lucifer was to illuminate the earth with God’s way and with His plan – that he was the light bringer. He was going to be the one who came to earth and was God’s representative there. So that’s a pretty important assignment.
But something happened along the way. In Ezekiel 28, verse 12, we can read a prophecy that says:
Ezk. 28:12 – Son of man, take up a lamentation for the king of Tyre . Okay, the king of Tyre . Who’s that? I want you to notice what God says about the king of Tyre , and you’ll see that it’s not really talking about a man. It’s typical language. You were the seal of perfection, full of wisdom and perfect in beauty. You were in Eden , the garden of God . Every precious stone was your covering – the sardius, topaz, and the diamond, beryl, onyx, and jasper, sapphire, turquoise, and emerald with gold. The workmanship of your timbrels and pipes was prepared for you on the day you were created. This being, that was in the Garden, full of wisdom and perfect in beauty, was a created being. You were the anointed cherub who covers. The cherubs covered the throne of God with their wings. I established you. You were on the holy mountain of God . The mountain means the government of God. You walked back and forth in the midst of the fiery stones. You were perfect in your ways from the day that you were created till iniquity – sin – was found in you. By the abundance of your trading you became filled with violence within. You sinned. Therefore I cast you out as a profane thing out of the mountain of God . And I destroyed you, O covering cherub, from the midst of the fiery stones. Your heart was lifted up because of your beauty. You corrupted your wisdom for the sake of your splendor and I cast you to the ground. I laid you before kings that they might gaze at you.
So this great arcangel, Lucifer, somehow became corrupted. He rebelled against God and he wasn’t willing to follow God’s lead anymore. And so it says he was cast out from among the fiery stones, which we know has to do with the throne of God. So he was cast down to the ground. He may have tried to throw God off His throne and take over.
So what happened next? This may be an account of the same thing. It’s in Isaiah 14:12.
Isa. 14:12 – How you are fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! How you are cut down to the ground, you who weakened the nations! So he fell to earth, didn’t he? You have said in your heart. “I will ascend into heaven. I will exalt my throne above the stars of God. I will sit also on the mount of the congregation on the farthest sides of the north.” So, was he sent to the earth as a light bringer and then did he try to go up to ascend into heaven again and take God’s place? I will exalt my throne above the stars of God. So where was he when he said he would ascend to heaven? It’s written from the perspective of earth, isn’t it? I will ascend above the heights of the clouds. I’m going to go out of the atmosphere on the earth. I will be like the most High.
V-15 – Yet you shall be brought down to the grave – to the lowest depths of the pit. Those who see you will gaze at you, and consider you, saying, “Is this man, who made the earth tremble, who shook kingdoms, who made the world as a wilderness and destroyed its cities, who did not open the house of his prisoners?” …who made the world as a wilderness…. There’s no man that we know that’s done that to the whole world.
It’s a pretty telling picture that God paints for us about what happened to this archangel. We see that he was on the earth as a representative of God, and then he tried to ascend up to heaven and was cast back.
So let’s put that all in perspective and count things up here. At this point in our story then, we have the earth – after its creation, under the government of God. Lucifer was His representative there, apparently. Then we see the earth loses the government of God when the interim governor becomes Satan the devil. So at that time it’s in need of restoration, isn’t it?
Do you recall the scripture where Jesus said, “I saw Satan fall from heaven as lightning?” He did say that, didn’t He? Well, the Bible says more about this situation to us. Let’s go to 1 Peter 3:18 – a pretty amazing scripture. You know, I read this scripture and I wonder what else the apostles knew that didn’t make it into the Bible that somehow hasn’t come down through time to us.
1 Pt. 3:18 – For Christ also suffered once for our sins – the just for the unjust – that He might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but made alive by the Spirit, by whom also He went and preached to the spirits in prison. Now what in the world is this talking about? Well, I think the key to it is in this word prison . The Greek word there is tartaroo . It means a place of restraint– not just necessarily a prison. Reading on then: who formerly were disobedient – so these spirits were disobedient – when once the divine longsuffering waited in the days of Noah while the ark was being prepared, in which a few – that is eight souls – were saved through water. We’re told, in this scripture, that the one who was Jesus Christ, before He was born as a person, came to the earth in the time of Noah, to speak to those fallen angels who followed Lucifer at the time Noah was preparing the ark. And it says that they were imprisoned here on the earth. They were not allowed to go back to heaven anymore.
If Lucifer was sent to earth before there were humans, and he went up to heaven and started a rebellion, and was cast back down to the earth, then he was in charge of the earth after the Garden of Eden, even while Noah was on the ark, we wonder what Jesus Christ said to him while he was there – why He even went there at that time. We don’t know. But some have speculated that He went there to see if some of them might repent. We don’t know if they can even, but we’ll find out, I guess. Another thought is that He may have warned him to keep their hands off of Noah as he floated precariously on that barge on the flood waters. Or, since Satan was the cause of the flood by perverting society and man, perhaps He was setting limits on Satan, so that he couldn’t do the same thing again after the flood. We just don’t know. But we know that He did go there. And we know that He considers the earth a prison for the devil now that he’s restrained here. He can’t go to heaven, except by permission.
I’m getting a little bit ahead of my story. So let’s go back to Genesis 1, and verse 2. It says:
Gen. 1:2 – The earth was without form and void, and darkness was on the face of the deep.
In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now, how does He create things? He creates them perfect in beauty, doesn’t He? But then we see that it was without form and void. What does that mean? That it wasn’t finished or He hadn’t put the finishing touches on it? Well, these two words – without form and void – don’t mean that the earth is a blank slate, fresh and clean, waiting to be finished. Those words literally mean chaos and confusion . So at some point, after the creation of the universe, it became chaotic. The earth was dark. And we wonder if Lucifer wasn’t the cause of that somehow and that there might be a huge gap in time between the time when God created the earth and when the earth was without form and void. We don’t know. We can just guess and think about it.
At some point, after the creation of the universe, the earth was dark. The Light Bringer failed in his job and he brought darkness. And the earth was covered with dark waters. So in verse 3, God says:
V-3 – Let there be light. So He’s taking back His kingdom again. If this scenario is true, God came to the earth with Lucifer and established him there. Lucifer rebelled. The kingdom was lost. Then God took it back again, and said, Let there be light. And there was light. And He saw that the light was good. And God divided the light from the darkness. So He took all that chaos and confusion and made it orderly once again, and beautiful, and fit for man. As its focal point, He created a magnificent Garden. He created two humans. They were in harmony with Him. God’s government was in effect there. If we look at it this way explaining what happened, there was a long gap in the beginning – between when God created it and when the earth was without form and void.
What if this isn’t true? What if there is no gap and there’s some other explanation? In my therapy practice, quite often the hypotheses that I form turn out to be wrong. But I’m always happy to learn what the real truth is. And I found out that forming hypotheses, quite frequently, is helpful in causing the truth to come out. I think that’s the same with this for me. I’m not pouring concrete around this concept in my own mind. It doesn’t have to be this way. I’m not going to argue with anybody about it, or tell them that they’re wrong if they don’t think like I do. And I’m going to listen to other people, because they may know more about this than I do. So I’m hoping to model what I think is the way we, as Christians, should live with each other in the world in the face of things that we don’t know for sure about God.
In Genesis 2:15 – continuing on:
Gen. 2:15 – Then the LORD God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to tend and keep it. So God’s now removed the chaos and confusion. There’s dry land. There’s an atmosphere. There’s a beautiful Garden. And God told Adam and Eve, “Of every tree of the garden, you can freely eat, but there’s that one tree of the knowledge of good and evil, and if you eat of that, you’re going to die.”
Then He said:
V-18 – It’s not good that man should be alone – in verse 18 – and he made a helper comparable to him. So that’s how Eve came to be.
Adam and Eve were following God’s instruction. God was governing them and they were submitting to His government. But then in chapter 3 of Genesis, verse 1, it says;
Gen. 3:1 – Now the serpent – and we know he’s the devil, so he’s there – we know he’s restrained to the earth, so there he is – and God allowed him access to His people – and he starts questioning Eve and causing her doubt God. And pretty soon they have thrown God off. She was deceived, we’re told.
Now I want you to hold your place there, and turn with me to 2 Corinthians 4:4. Here’s Paul talking about people in his time. How long would that be? That would be four thousand years, approximately, after Adam and Eve. And he says:
2 Cor. 4:4 – Whose minds the god of this age has blinded, who do not believe, lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine on them. So now he’s talking about how this evil spirit, Satan – formerly Lucifer – is blinding the minds of people in his society.
In 1 John 5:19, we see another scripture. It says:
1 Jn. 5:19 – We know that we are of God, and the whole world lies under the sway of the wicked one. So Satan has been allowed to take the kingdom for a time – from Adam and Eve – once again.
One more quick scripture here in Ephesians 2:2.
Eph. 2:2 – In which you once walked, according to the course of this world, which is according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience. So, when we’re disobedient to God, we are – according to the Bible – and I believe it – we’re walking under the sway of Satan. It’s interesting that the people who are deceived and manipulated by Satan are marked as disobedient , isn’t it?
Genesis 3:6 – back there again.
Gen. 3:6 – So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate. And she gave to her husband to eat and he ate. And then the eyes of both them were opened and they knew they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves coverings. So she disobeyed God. So did Adam. She chose to reject the revelation from God and do what seemed good to her. And we’ve been doing that ever since, haven’t we?
Then in verse 8, it says:
V-8 – Then they heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the Garden, in the cool of the day, and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD among the trees of the Garden. And then the LORD called to Adam, and said to him, “Where are you?” So he said, “I heard your voice in the Garden and I was afraid because I was naked. And I hid myself.” And He said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree which I commanded you that you should not eat?” So they had withdrawn from God. The relationship was damaged.
V-22 – Then the LORD said, “Behold the man has become like one of Us – to know good and evil. And now, lest he put out his hand and take also of the tree of life and eat and live forever, therefore, the LORD God sent him out of the Garden of Eden to till the ground from which he was taken. So He drove the man out and He placed cherubim – see, there are two other cherubs still – and He put them at the east of the Garden of Eden, and a flaming sword, which turned every way to guard the way of the tree of life. God begins to withdraw from the world and allow people to do as they please, because that’s the choice that’s been made. And ever since then, Satan has been influencing people to use their own human reason and to think about things from their own perspective, and to not count what God says very much.
Back then, people had an inkling of what the problem was. They knew they were kicked out of the Garden. They knew what God said to them. But today we’ve lost sight of the problem. We’ve lost sight of the cause of the problem. We don’t know what we’ve lost. We don’t know what we need. And we don’t know what it is that we so desperately crave. We don’t know that we want to be back in relationship with God, because we don’t know that we’ve lost it. God made man incomplete. We all feel the lack. We don’t know that the lack is a lack of God in our lives.
Humanity, ever since that time, has tried everything to fill that void – from drinking human blood to building space stations. We’ve tried fun. We’ve tried music. We’ve tried money. We’ve tried marriage. We’ve tried infidelity. We’ve tried perversion. We’ve tried health food. We’ve tried alcohol. We’ve tried chocolate. And none of it works – except for chocolate. Ooh! I shouldn’t say that on the Day of Atonement, should I?
So what we’re really looking at is a world that is at one with the devil – in a perverted kind of way. We see a world where man has rejected the government of God over him, and has unwittingly fallen under the government of the devil. He is the god of this world, we’re told.
Okay, so let’s recap. To this point we’ve seen the earth in the beginning under God at creation. Then, it’s quite possible that Satan, when he rebelled against God, that the world fell sway to him for a time, because we know that it was in chaos at one point. And we can see all kinds of things in the geologic record that are quite disturbing. Then we see God restored the earth and put it once again under His government, when he created the Garden of Eden and Adam and Eve. They were following Him. Then they gave that all up, and once again, it came under the government of Satan, after he deceived Adam and Eve. So, if our surmisings are correct, twice the earth has been under God and twice under Satan, where it remains to this day – all of the inhabitants lured into sin, under the death threat, and as Paul implied, held for ransom by Satan the devil.
So what does that mean? What that means is, all the ignorance, all the confusion, all the suffering, all the depravation, all the violence, all the hatred, all the injustice, all the unfair things, all the pain is all spawned by this once wise, but now depraved spirit. And although the world doesn’t know it, it’s waiting for its release. We’re like captives held hostage.
Let’s go to Romans 8, and verse 19. This is what Paul tells us:
Rom. 8:19 – For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly awaits for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility – that’s the futility of Satan’s government – and it says – not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it in hope. God has a plan. And all these terrible things that have happened are all going to be used for some good purpose – as hard as it might seem to believe that. But that is the kind of God we worship. He’s so powerful that He can take the most terrible things and turn them into something good in the end.
V-21 – Because the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God.
V-22 – For we know that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now. Not only that, but we also who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, eagerly awaiting the adoption – the redemption – of our body. Waiting for someone to come and pay the ransom and set free the captives. Set people free from Satan, and from his deception, and from his control. Waiting to understand the truth , rather than all the futile knowledge in the world today. And waiting to be, at long last, at one with God.
Let’s go to Isaiah 61, and take a look at that scripture.
Isa. 61:1 – The Spirit of the LORD God is upon Me – me, capitalized – Christ talking – because the LORD has anointed me to preach good tidings to the poor. He has sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prisons to those who are bound, to proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn. So there is coming a day of vengeance – when Satan is going to be taken care of, when he’s not going to be allowed to bother people any longer.
The way Satan holds us captive – the way he separates us from God – is by sin. We think that sin is fun. That’s what he’s taught everybody. The Bible tells us that that sin that we commit is what enslaves us to Satan and separates us from God.
1 Timothy 2:5 – read that with me.
1Tim. 2:5 – For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men – the Man Jesus Christ – who gave Himself a ransom for all to be testified in due time. So Christ has paid the ransom. And He did that by paying the penalty for all our sins. But He hasn’t come back yet to take the hostages to safety.
Well, on Trumpets we saw that Christ is going to return to claim what is His. That’s the day that pictures when He returns to the earth. But that’s not the first time that He’s done that, is it? This is the return of the King. This is the reestablis hm ent of an ancient government that has, quite possibly, been here twice before and twice relinquished – all a part of the plan of God.
So this is, as Paul said, the restitution of the government of God – the restoration of all things – spoken of by all the holy prophets since the world began.
Let’s go to Revelation 19, and verse 11.
Rev. 19:11 – Now I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse. And He who sat on him was called Faithful and True and in righteousness He judges and makes war. His eyes were like a flame of fire and on His head were many crowns. He had a name written that no one knew except Himself. He was clothed with a robe dipped in blood and His name is called the Word of God. No doubt about who that is. And the armies in heaven clothed in fine linen, white and clean, followed Him on white horses. So that’s the picture we get about Christ returning. We read that on Trumpets.
Now let’s go to Revelation 19:17 – a few verses down.
Rev. 19:17 – Then I saw an angel standing in the sun. And he cried with a loud voice, saying to all the birds that fly in the midst of heaven, “Come and gather together for the supper of the Great God, that you may eat the flesh of kings, the flesh of captains, the flesh of mighty men, the flesh of horses and those who sit on them, and the flesh of all people, free and slaves, small and great.” And I saw the beast, the kings of the earth and their armies gathered together to make war against Him who sat on the horse, and against His army. And then the beast was captured, and with him the false prophet, who worked signs in his presence, by which he deceived those that received the mark of the beast and who worshipped his image. These two were cast alive into the lake of fire burning with brimstone. And the rest were killed with the sword which proceeded from the mouth of Him who sat on the horse. And all the birds were filled with their flesh.
So the ring leaders of the rebellious are rounded up and eliminated along with all those who resist God. That’s the beginning of something that’s going to happen on the earth at some point in the future. And that something is the restoration of the government of God. It’s been here before and it’s coming back.
Rev. 21:1 – Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven having the key of the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand. And he laid hold of the dragon – that serpent of old, who is the devil and Satan – the dragon, the devil, the serpent and Satan – there’s four things there so that nobody can miss it – and bound him for a thousand years. And he cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal on him that he should deceive the nations no more till the thousand years were finished. But after these things he must be released for a little while.
So Satan is bound. What does that mean? Well, what that means is with him not there, there’s not going to be any more deception. The light of God is going to shine on the earth like God intended in the beginning when He sent Lucifer the Light Bringer. And God is going to reveal to people the truth of His plan and restore a relationship with Him.
So the one who caused all the trouble is going to be put away from mankind – no more deception. People will be able to understand God. Their sins will be removed by the returning King. They won’t have to feel guilty. And so the way toward a relationship with their Creator will be open to them – most of them, for the very first time. They’ll get a chance to be at one with God – hence the name, Day of Atonement, or at onement. What an amazing time that’s going to be for us, isn’t it? No more blindness. No more ignorance. No more misery. No more unfilled longing. No more alienation. When this happens, man, for the time since the Garden of Eden, will have a chance to satisfy that deep-seated longing to know and be known by God – to be at one with Him.
So that’s the significance of this day – the Day of Atonement in the plan of God. And it reminds us of a time when all people will gain a relationship with God. And the fact that we keep it signifies that we have an opportunity to relate to God now in a way that a lot of other people don’t have. And the uniqueness of that relationship is one based on knowing what He has done for us in the person of Jesus Christ – He’s right in the midst of the Day of Atonement – and what He’s going to do for everyone, and what He wants us to do right now in preparation for that day.