Day 46 – The Divine Sting

The Way of the Cross – Lenten Season 2018
“As evening approached, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who had himself become a disciple of Jesus.  Going to Pilate, he asked for Jesus’ body and Pilate ordered that it be given to him.  Joseph took the body, wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, and placed it in his own new tomb that he had cut out of the rock.  He rolled a big stone in front of the entrance to the tomb and went away.  Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were sitting there opposite the tomb” (Matthew 27:57-61 NIV).

The Divine Sting

Lucifer was stunned.
The look in the eye of Jesus flustered and confused him.  He was just about to swoop in to take possession of that soul but hesitated, wondering what had gone wrong.  That look said it all.  It was a look of triumph, a look of power and authority.  It didn’t make sense.
But then, all of the warnings he had not heeded came rushing back into his mind like banshees screaming for attention.
“Overthrown,” Jesus had said.
“It is finished,” he had declared on the cross.
Why had he not listened? With a sinking sense of dread, Lucifer realized that he had seriously miscalculated.  But it infuriated him to no end that he didn’t understand why.
Gabriel and Michael took the opportunity to unveil themselves in that moment of hesitation one on each side of the cross, their glory as brilliant as the morning sun, their swords unsheathed and ready for battle.
The scream of frustrated rage came not from the throat of Lucifer but from Tundrac.  Lucifer watched in frozen admiration as his captain flung himself at Michael in a fit of uncontrollable anger at their intrusion.  Obviously Tundrac thought that the two archangels were there to prevent the final demonic revenge upon Jesus, the Son of the Living God.  Only Lucifer suspected, glancing again at Jesus, that the issue was deeper and far more complex.
Tundrac was already attacking.  The demonic army at their backs did not stir.  They were a passive, muttering audience to this great spiritual drama.  Michael also did not move but Lucifer could see a smile forming upon his lips as he watched Tundrac attack.
Tundrac was a powerful demon but now he was reckless with rage and simply plunged himself headlong into the battle.  His mighty wings beat the air furiously as he poured all of his energy and power into one great, quick thrust into the very heart of Michael.  He did not expect to live; he merely wanted to take that accursed archangel with him.
It was suicide but Lucifer almost respected him for it.  Was that all that was left?    A last defiant attempt to destroy and be destroyed?  But he did not have time to think, only watch.
Still Michael did not move until it was almost too late.  It was a question of split seconds, the battle over in minutes.  The attack was ferocious and swift but Michael was ready and, with one mighty beat of his great wings, he leapt into the air turning head over wings to land behind Tundrac ready for the next attack.
Tundrac stopped his headlong rush into nothing and turned, a bit more caution entering his raging mind but still determined to destroy Michael.  He renewed his attack with vicious skill, rushing toward Michael without a pause, weaving from side to side in a useless attempt to confuse him, his sword slicing dangerously, powerfully through the air, his red eyes bulging with frustrated anger.
Michael met him halfway and the clash of their swords rang loudly throughout the spiritual realm.  Mercilessly, Michael drove him backwards until Tundrac’s back was almost against the cross, only a few feet away.   Lucifer willed him to greater effort, to fight back, to overcome good with evil as they had done together for so many years.  But it was the cross that broke his concentration.  He could feel its presence and it unnerved him.
The cross had a spiritual power that seemed to draw Tundrac to it step by step.  Lucifer could see that he feared it, glancing anxiously over his shoulder to keep it in sight.  Lucifer could also feel that strange drawing and sucking of his evil into the vortex of the cross, like a black hole swallowing entire galaxies in its voracious hunger.  It sought to embrace them, to accept their evil and destroy it, to strip them of their authority and so defeat them.
Tundrac was trapped and Lucifer found that he could not breathe.  His eyes darted from Tundrac to Michael and then back again to Tundrac.  It was as if he were there with Tundrac, locked in a battle he could not win.  He watched as Tundrac fought on and not one of his captains came to his aid.  They knew that he was doomed to die.
Finally Michael found the opening he needed and, with a light parry and a lightning quick thrust, he sent his sword deep into that evil heart.  Tundrac let out a great cry of agony and then fell to the ground and withered up immediately.  With a final sulfuric wisp of smoke he was sent into the Great Abyss.
Michael turned back to face Lucifer and the demonic army with his sword ready, a silent challenge to anyone else who wanted to try their skill with him.  But no one moved.
Gabriel deliberately sheathed his sword and turned his back.  He moved up to the cross to separate Jesus from his body and carry him down, his strong arm around his back.
Lucifer took note that Jesus seemed weak and in need of help, but he did not understand why.  Why?  But it gave him the courage to protest and he did, the sound of his voice louder than he intended.
“He is mine,” he said.  And then again. “He is mine, I traded for him.”  That was said with more conviction, the ring of authority returning somewhat to his voice.
But for a long moment nothing was said.  Jesus didn’t even bother to look at him.  Finally, Gabriel paused in his work and turned his head and explained it to him, as if he were a child who understood nothing at all.
“No, he is not yours and never will be.”
Gabriel turned away, his arm still behind Jesus’ back, holding him and supporting him in his weakness and began to walk away.  Michael walked behind them, facing the demons, his sword in his hand, acting as the rear guard.
The garden graveyard lay in that direction and he could already see a number of the dead walking towards Jesus and joining him in a joyous procession into the very gates of hell and death.  And behind them, in the physical realm, went the body of Jesus, laid upon a donkey, and the disciples who would bury him in a rich man’s grave.
Lucifer wanted to protest, to get angry, to fight back but he was so confused that he wasn’t sure what to protest about.  What had happened?  Apparently his authority was in question but that was impossible.  God would not, could not ignore the Law, or his holiness and justice.  It couldn’t be done.
He heard a disturbance behind him and whirled around to see Sundor arriving to make claim to the beloved thief who had also just died.  But Lucifer had reached the limits of his patience and, sensing an opponent that he understood, he rose into the air with deadly intent and unsheathed his mighty sword and spread his dark wings.
“Flee or die!” Lucifer said but he would not let him go.  He would destroy him with pleasure.
Sundor ignored him completely as he made his preparations to carry Daniel’s soul away and this so enraged Lucifer that he screamed out his hatred with vile blasphemies and attacked immediately and ferociously.
Gabriel looked back at the cross from the rock quarry and he smiled, both because of the courage of Sundor and the shock that awaited Lucifer, his brother.
Sundor had been given orders to complete the task giving no heed at all to Lucifer or any other devil.  He was not to fight, not to speak, not even to look in their direction.  Simply complete his task and leave.  It took great faith, but Sundor would love the challenge.  Neither Gabriel nor Sundor knew what heaven would do if Lucifer decided to attack but they were about to find out.
Sundor gently separated Daniel from his body, a process that was unnatural but necessary for a time.  Although he was aware of Lucifer’s presence, as one is aware of being stalked by a ferocious lion, he paid no attention.  Still, he was filled with a trembling anticipation.  After all, this was the Evil One himself.
A roaring cry erupted from Lucifer as he flew toward Sundor.  His pride could not stand to be so completely ignored and he meant to deal most terribly with this angelic upstart.
Already Sundor had turned his back on Lucifer and was about to fly away with his human charge when Lucifer pointed his mighty sword at his back and struck with great force.  But he flew right through him, like a human would pass through a ghost.  Lucifer stopped, his eyes wide, and turned to face Sundor again.  Sundor averted his eyes slightly the better to ignore him.  Lucifer swung his mighty sword at Sundor’s neck but it, too, passed through Sundor without any harm.
What was this?  Lucifer’s mind tried to make sense of it all but the roaring swelled to a crescendo and would not let him think.  He raised his sword into the air with both hands and began to hack and swing and thrust his sword repeatedly into Sundor without any result until he went crazy, screaming filthy blasphemies in Sundor’s face, hacking and thrusting and slicing, until, finally, he was left panting and exhausted upon his hands and knees, gasping for breath, his red eyes blazing.
You have to think!  Stop and think and you will figure it out, his mind screamed at him.  But Lucifer was too far gone.  He lunged from the ground, throwing his sword away and grabbing Sundor with his great claw-like hands to crush him within his mighty arms.  But he could not get hold of him though he tried again and again, swinging and clutching and grasping at him wildly until the futility of it all broke through his feverish mind and he forced himself to stop and think.
Slowly Lucifer became aware of the eyes that were fixed upon him.  Evil being what it is, there were those who had enjoyed the show.  Lucifer glanced at his captains to gauge their reaction.  One of them did not hide his smirking face quickly enough and Lucifer swept up his sword, leaping off the ground, and hacked and slashed the offending captain into carrion destined for the Abyss.
He straightened his back, looking around at his army, his eyes ablaze, his lips a thin cruel line.   But they were not his real problem.
One thing was obvious; his authority over death had somehow been affected.  He had to make his appeal directly to heaven, to the Majesty sitting upon the throne.  He had to go to the seat of power and find out what was happening.
So with a flurry of wings, Lucifer abandoned his demonic army and soared into heaven while Jesus made his way into the depths of death and hell.
Gabriel was shocked at first when he saw how weak Jesus still was even in the spiritual realm.  He had expected his old Captain of the Host, the ancient Divine Word, to be manifest in all of his spiritual splendor and glory but it was not so.  He was still the Word but he was also still Jesus, the man, the carpenter, the Maschiach in the flesh.  He looked the same but different, his glory muted but deeper.
Then Gabriel realized what it was.  He was not only seeing the spiritual being that had existed before the birth of Jesus but also the soul and spirit of Jesus in the flesh.  The two were there but had become this new reality, this new unity.   For a moment Gabriel had forgotten that the commitment to the incarnation had been for ever.  Jesus would always be both human and divine, though his divinity would not be limited by his humanity.
Jesus now found it natural to be in the body as a human and therefore, this separation of soul and body was unnatural to him.  That was why he was weak and slightly disoriented while he awaited his new resurrected body.  That must be how it was for all humans.  They would die and be separated from their human bodies for a while and then on the last day when God created a new heaven and a new earth, they would all receive new resurrected bodies to live in.  Just like Jesus, although he would get his now.   Jesus was the firstfruit of many others who would come after him.  It was all so glorious, so impossibly glorious, to contemplate the wonders of his Master’s plan for these people.
Gabriel had also watched with growing amusement the humiliation that Lucifer had received at the hands of Sundor.  The battle had changed.  Lucifer’s authority had been taken from him but not all of his power.  He was still a dangerous foe.
Still, one thing had changed forever.  No longer would the righteous dead be under the control and power of the Evil One.  Jesus would lead the saints and holy men from the past in a glorious procession into the presence of God where they would await the final day when they would be clothed with their new resurrected bodies.  Death was no longer under Lucifer’s authority, especially when it had to do with those who put their faith in the One who had conquered sin and death.
When the angels were claiming a soul that belonged to heaven, the forces of Evil could not interfere, but outside of that moment Lucifer and his demons could still fight and even, at times, defeat the angels.  The war had been won but the battles were not over. It was still very dangerous and they had to be careful.  He would figure it out soon and open warfare would begin in heaven at any moment.  This was but a short reprieve.
But there were other things to attend to first, and Gabriel returned to the task at hand.  Michael would follow Lucifer into heaven for he would be needed, but Gabriel would accompany his Master on this final journey and witness first hand his triumph over death and hell.
“Hallelujah!”  Gabriel cried out together with the other saints who had joined the procession.  “Hallelujah to the Lamb!”  And all of heaven joined in to sing songs of praise to the Lamb that was slain.
On the island of Patmos, in the Mediterranean Sea, Yochanan, the beloved disciple, walked a dusty road, slow and bent with age.  He was on his way to meet with the few converts he had made from among the soldiers and merchants that came occasionally to this small island off the coast of Greece.
It was the Lord’s Day and they planned to worship together.  The volcanic beauty of the mountains towering over the clear lakes at their feet made a beautiful backdrop for their worship of the Creator and Savior of mankind.
Gabriel was there for it was almost time for Yochanan to go the way of all flesh.  He was the last of the apostles.  The torch of Christianity was being passed on to the next generation of the faithful.  The first Christian century was almost over.  Yerushalayim had already been destroyed once, Isra´el’s final destruction only a few years away.  There was one thing left to be done.  The story must be told.
Yochanan had been chosen to tell the story, to see it, to witness it, to record it as a testimony to the church throughout the ages.  It was the story of the final moments of Lucifer in heaven and what had befallen him there.  It was the story of the final humiliation of Evil by the power of Love, a story already in the past but stretching into the future.   At the same time, it was not about Lucifer at all.  It was about the Lamb.  This was the final irony, the ultimate humiliation.  Lucifer no longer mattered other than as an opponent who would now be used for heaven’s glory.
It was a story that Gabriel never grew tired of hearing for it was the story of heaven’s triumph.
My name is Yochanan, and through our union in Jesus I am your brother and share your sufferings, your kingdom, and all you endure.  I was on the island of Patmos for having preached God’s word and witnessed for Jesus.  It was the Lord’s Day and the Spirit possessed me, and I heard a voice behind me, shouting like a trumpet, “Write down all that you see in a book…”
Yochanan paused in his writing.  His ancient hands were sore but he had determined to do this alone, without the help of a scribe.  It was his last gift to the people he loved.  The vision was clear and sharp in his mind and he continued his writing.
In my vision I saw a door open in heaven… and I saw a throne…and the One who was sitting on the throne… a rainbow encircling Him.
It was difficult to describe the Majesty on the throne, for earth held no comparison for his beauty.  The brightest diamonds and emeralds were only a pale reflection of his glory.  But he had to try all the same.
Around the throne in a circle were twenty-four thrones, and on them I saw twenty-four elders sitting, dressed in white robes with golden crowns on their heads.  Flashes of lightning were coming from the throne, and the sound of peals of thunder, and in front of the throne there were seven flaming lamps burning, the seven Spirits of God.
It was the Spirit that was inspiring him to find the words to describe the vision and to give it meaning, and he was grateful.  It was not his story after all.
Between the throne and myself was a sea that seemed to be made of glass, like crystal.  In the center, grouped around the throne itself, were four animals with many eyes, in front and behind…. and day and night they never stopped singing:  “Holy, Holy, Holy is Adonai Elohim, the Almighty; he was, he is and he is to come.”
The sound of their song filled the yearning soul of Yochanan in a way that he had never felt before.  It was like coming home and finding your beloved waiting with arms opened wide to welcome you.  This was not a cold and sterile place, although it could appear so to those who did not know the One who sat upon the throne.  There was a lifetime, an eternity, of knowing this King and loving him unabashedly behind those shouts of praise.
Like King David and his mighty men who had been through countless battles and difficulties together, (but much, much more) this was a King who was worthy of the loyalty and praise of his angels because of who he was and what he had done for his people.  This was no mere ceremony, it was love singing, pure and undefiled, and Yochanan bathed in its warmth.  It was a love song that Yochanan had to sing as well, and he did so with all of his heart.
And he was not the only one.
 Every time the animals glorified and honored and gave thanks to the One sitting on the throne, who lives forever and ever, the twenty-four elders prostrated themselves before him to worship… and threw down their crowns in front of the throne, saying, “You are our Lord and our God, you are worthy of glory and honor and power, because you made all the universe and it was only by your will that everything was made and exists.”
Into this throne room the Evil One walked, a dirty stain upon the pristine splendor of heaven.  He was escorted by a mighty angel who would not move from his side.  He was expected but no one paid him any mind.  He stood there for a moment, taking in the scene and trembling slightly at the thought of having to bear the scrutiny of the Majesty upon the throne.
His presence here was tolerated, but nothing more.  He was not welcome, but he had authority here because of the alliance he had formed with mankind at the beginning of time.  Lucifer lifted his chin a little higher in defiance of his fear and stood there waiting to be announced.  But he waited in vain and after a few moments he started to fidget, his wings fluttering as heaven ignored him.
Finally he started to pay attention to what was happening around him.  There was a celebration of sorts in progress, a ceremony of seemingly great importance and he would have to wait his turn.  Lucifer had the distinct feeling that he was expected to watch and take note.  Perhaps he would learn what this was all about.
It was about time.
I saw that in the right hand of the One sitting on the throne there was a scroll that had writing on the back and front and was sealed with seven seals.  Then I saw a powerful angel who called with a loud voice, “Is there anyone worthy to open the scroll and break the seals of it?”  But there was no one, in heaven or on the earth or under the earth, who was able to open the scroll and read it.
Yochanan wept bitterly because there was nobody who was worthy to open the scroll and read it, and he wondered at himself and his weeping for he was the only one in tears.  Then he knew that he represented his human brothers and sisters and it was for them that the scroll needed to be opened.  It was the scroll that would usher in the final days and bring an end to the persecution of the church and the evil of the world.  It was the scroll that would bring all of the people of God to live forevermore in the presence of the One sitting upon the throne.
No wonder he wept.
But one of the elders said to me, “There is no need to cry:  the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has triumphed, and he will open the scroll and the seven seals of it.”
The sound of that name thrilled Yochanan to his core.  It was a name to strike terror into the hearts of his enemies.  The Lion of Judah.
Then I saw, standing by the throne, a Lamb that seemed to have been sacrificed the marks on his body proudly borne.  The Lamb came forward to take the scroll from the right hand of the One sitting on the throne, and when he took it, the four animals prostrated themselves before him and with them the twenty-four elders; each of them was holding a harp and had a golden bowl full of incense made of the prayers of the saints. 
And he, too, wanted to sing and cry and shout all at the same time, to cheer and praise this Lion of Judah who was the Lamb that was slain.  They sang a new hymn, and he did not wonder that it was a new song.  It had to be, for this was a new thing, a new beginning for heaven and earth.  Yes, they sang and he sang with them, the sound of their harps like the rustling of the Spirit of God working his wonders in the souls of men, the smell of incense a symphony of faith, adding its earthly tones to the words:
“You are worthy to take the scroll
and break the seals of it,
because you were sacrificed,
and with your blood
you bought men for God
of every race, language, people and nation
and made them a line of kings and priests,
to serve our God and to rule the world.”
“To rule the world?”
The voice was a harsh, dissonant note in that beautiful song and it came from Lucifer, who could not keep silent.  He should not have spoken, but his brashness overcame his good sense and he spoke again.  He stood there with his right side toward the throne, his wings tightly curled, with his legs open in the stance of a duelist and threw his accusations into heaven.
“The kingdoms of the earth belonged to me,” he announced.  “You know that to be true.”
But there was no response.  This had never happened to him before.  He had always been able to get a hearing for his accusations, his appeals to the throne of God.   His body began to shake, leaving him weak with helplessness one moment and burning with righteous energy the next.  He remembered his encounter with Sundor.  This was beginning to feel the same way.  He began to mutter under his breath and shook his head violently as he argued with his fear and fury.  Finally he exploded, his eyes wide, almost screaming his accusation, his finger jabbing the air, pointing toward the Lamb.
“He did not complete his contract.  He did not buy anyone from me, and certainly not from every nation, only the Jews.  That was the deal.”
But his protests were simply drowned out by the celebration of victory as the angels joined in the festivities, ignoring him in their joy, their song swelling as thousands and tens of thousand joined in to sing their praise to the Lamb that was slain.
In my vision, I heard the sound of an immense number of angels gathered around the throne and the animals and the elders.  There were ten thousand times ten thousand of them and thousands upon thousands, shouting “The Lamb that was sacrificed is worthy to be given power, riches, wisdom, strength, honor, glory and blessing.”
Now that heaven was in full bloom with the praises of every angelic being, it was time for earth to join in the chorus.  And it did.
I heard all the living things in creation – everything that lives in the air, and on the ground, and under the ground, and in the sea, crying, “To the One who is sitting on the throne and to the Lamb, be all praise, honor, glory and power, for ever and ever.”
And the four animals said, “Amen”; and the elders prostrated themselves to worship, the worship a natural extension of their love.
Lucifer was dizzy with the emotions that rose up within him and grabbed him by the throat and shook him but he did not move from his place.  One did not become reckless in the presence of the Majesty.  But his mind raced with questions and arguments as he forced himself to wait his turn.   What did any of this have to do with him?  So he was sacrificed.  So he died on the cross.  It didn’t make any difference because he did not complete the deal.  He was mine and he was taken from me.
It was unfair!  It was unjust!
With a mighty effort he controlled himself, reminding himself of the danger in this place.  Still, he had to try.  He spoke firmly and clearly into the moment of silence that had come into heaven and made his appeal.  “I stand on the justice of God,” he said.  “Where is his holiness?  Has the Majesty forgotten his justice?   What about me?”
Those last words brought a reaction, though not the one that Lucifer had expected.  For one terrifying moment, Lucifer felt the scrutiny of the One sitting on the throne as he briefly turned his gaze upon him and then deliberately turned away again, ignoring his appeal.
Lucifer, trembling uncontrollably, realized that no explanation would ever be given him.  As he turned to leave, the angel standing beside him touched his arm and pointed back towards the throne.
When Lucifer looked, the Majesty lifted his hand without looking at him and pointed at the sky and a vision appeared there.  Lucifer instinctively knew that he must watch the vision and that the watching would be terrible.
A great sign appeared in heaven:  a woman, adorned with the sun, standing on the moon, and with the twelve stars on her head for a crown.  She was pregnant, and in labor, crying aloud in the pangs of childbirth.
It didn’t take a lot of imagination to understand this part of the vision.  The woman represented the people of Isra´el, the bride of God.  The twelve stars represented the twelve tribes, of course, but the imagery of childbirth eluded him at first.
Then a second sign appeared in the sky, a huge red dragon which had seven heads and ten horns, and each of the seven heads crowned with a coronet.
Lucifer was pleased with the picture that represented him in all of his power and worldly kingdoms.  “You see,” he wanted to shout aloud, “the kingdoms of the earth belong to me.”  But he remained silent and merely gloated at what he saw next.
Its tail dragged a third of the stars from the sky and dropped them to the earth.
Lucifer remembered his triumph in tempting a third of the angels to follow him.  They had been banished from heaven to live upon the earth but he was quite pleased with the kingdom that he had carved out for himself.
The dragon stopped in front of the woman as she was having the child, so that he could eat it as soon as it was born from its mother.  The woman brought a male child into the world, the son who was to rule all the nations with an iron scepter.
Yes, now I see.  The child was Jesus Christ, the Maschiach, and he had been ready to devour him upon the cross.  Now he would find out what was really going on.  But Lucifer’s expectation was short lived for even the vision would not give him an explanation why his authority had been revoked.
The child was taken straight up to God and to his throne, while the woman escaped into the desert, where God had made a place of safety ready, for her to be looked after in the twelve hundred and sixty days before the end would come.
The child was taken straight up to God?  That was no explanation.  But before Lucifer had time to digest this abbreviated report of what had happened at the cross, the vision began to show great upheaval and violence.  He trembled, his whole body shaking, his wings tightly wrapped around him.  There was no escape.
War broke out in heaven, when Michael with his angels attacked the dragon.
Lucifer looked around quickly, seeing Michael by the throne of God with his sword unsheathed, glowing brilliantly with the light of heaven.  Lucifer felt trapped and in great mortal danger.  Heaven was no longer safe for him.  He was about to turn and leave with as much dignity as was left to him when his eye caught more of the vision and he paused to watch.
The dragon fought back with his angels, but they were defeated and driven out of heaven.
Well, that was no surprise.  He didn’t expect to win an all-out battle.  In fact, he wanted to avoid that kind of confrontation.  But if that is what heaven wanted, then he would make sure that the earth would also be destroyed along with all of those precious humans God seemed to love so much.
Didn’t he understand? Lucifer could hardly contain himself.  Didn’t he realize that he would destroy his creation and his people in an all-out war?  If this is what he wanted, why did he wait so long before starting the battle?  What has changed?  What was different?  He had to find out.  At least he had some time.  He would have an opportunity to fight back.  That was something.
The great dragon, the primeval serpent, known as the devil or Satan, who had deceived the entire world, was hurled down to the earth and his angels were hurled down with him.
It was not a thought that Lucifer wanted to dwell upon, though obviously he had no choice.
Then I heard a voice shout from heaven, “Victory and power and empire for ever have been won by our God, and all authority for his Christ, now that the persecutor, who accused our brothers day and night before our God, has been brought down.” 
Brought down!
That didn’t sound good.  It sounded a lot like something Jesus had said.  But he was sidetracked by the description of him as the accuser, the persecutor.
“All I really do is bring the facts before God,” he said to the angel beside him, the whine in his voice taking even him by surprise.  He stopped himself from speaking again but his mind continued the argument.  The people accused themselves.  It wasn’t his fault that they were sinners and that God’s Holiness and Justice were so strict.
Lucifer liked the irony of his position as the deceiver on the one hand and the accuser on the other.  He was sure that the Almighty did not appreciate his innocent sounding appeals to his holiness and justice against his own people, even if it was entirely right and just.  He, no doubt, took far too much pleasure in his role as accuser, especially when he was the one who started the rebellion in the first place.  This was the height of hypocrisy and God hated hypocrisy with a vengeance.  That’s what made it so enjoyable.
The voice continued to shout in heaven.
They have triumphed over him by the blood of the Lamb and by the witness of their martyrdom, because even in the face of death they would not cling to life.
What was this?  Lucifer began to breathe heavily.  Would he really be able to kill the believers?  Would he be able to bring martyrdom upon them?  Would God allow it?  What good were these men of faith if they were dead?  But he didn’t really care what it meant; just that he would be able to destroy them.
Let the heavens rejoice and all who live there;  but for you, earth and sea, trouble is coming – because the devil has gone down to you in a rage, knowing that his days are numbered.
Yes, trouble is coming, agreed Lucifer in his heart, ignoring the fact his days were numbered.   He had time to destroy before he was destroyed and that is all that mattered to him now.  Though it bothered him that he still didn’t understand how he had been beaten.  He was about to go, thinking that the vision had finished, when he realized that God still had more to say.
As soon as the devil found himself thrown down to the earth, he sprang in pursuit of the woman, the mother of the male child.
Lucifer felt self-conscious and vulnerable with this revelation of his secret heart.  He had already decided to use the Roman armies to destroy the nation of Isra´el in revenge for all the years of grief that he had endured there.  He wanted to destroy the church at the same time but it was Isra´el, and the hated City of Yerushalayim, that he wanted to destroy as completely as possible and every accursed inhabitant within her.
But she was given a huge pair of eagle’s wings to fly away from the serpent into the desert, to the place where she was to be looked after.
She would escape!? Lucifer lowered his head and looked around.  Not if he could help it!
Then the dragon was enraged with the woman and went away to make war on the rest of her children, that is, all who obey God’s commandments and bear witness for Jesus.
Fine!  So be it!
Lucifer was ready to begin and he turned around to go.   There behind him stood Michael, the guardian angel of the nation of Isra´el and the captain of the armies of heaven.  His feet were spread apart and his hands were on his hips and he looked Lucifer in the eye with a steady and determined look.  He was prepared to bar Lucifer’s departure.  But his sword was sheathed and the look in his eye was not the look of battle.
Lucifer hesitated, looking back over his shoulder towards the throne and then realized that the vision was not yet done.  There was one thing more that the Majesty required him to see.  He turned around, turning his back squarely on Michael and watched as God wrote his judgment against Lucifer and his sentence of ignoble death upon the sky for all to see.
And now I saw heaven open, and a white horse appear; its rider was called Faithful and True.  He is a judge with integrity, a warrior for justice.  His eyes were flames of fire, and his head was crowned with many coronets; the name written on him was known only to himself, his cloak was soaked in blood.  He is known by the name, The Word of God. 
Lucifer trembled when he saw him.  There was no doubt who he was and Lucifer knew that he was witnessing the war that was about to begin.  The battle had changed and new weapons and new authorities had been introduced and he still did not yet understand. His desperation mounted as he continued to watch the vision.
Behind him, dressed in linen of dazzling white, rode the armies of heaven on white horses.  From his mouth came a sharp sword to strike the pagans with; he is the one who will rule them with an iron scepter, and tread out the wine of Almighty God’s fierce anger.  On his cloak and on his sword there was a name written:  The King of kings and the Lord of lords.  
A sharp sword will come from his mouth?  Lucifer brooded over the meaning of the words.  It will strike the pagans?  Will his Roman armies be defeated before they can destroy Yerushalayim?  What was this all about?
If he was given the time, he would understand it all sooner or later.  God was prone to giving his people revelations of his plans and Lucifer could study them later at his leisure.  But would there be time?   He simply did not know, and he glanced back over his shoulder to see if Michael was still there.  He was.  He looked back toward the vision and a deathly chill came over him as he witnessed his final humiliation.
Then I saw an angel come down from heaven with the key of the Abyss in his hand and an enormous chain.  He overpowered the dragon, that primeval serpent which is the devil and Satan, and chained him up for a thousand years.
Lucifer shuddered at the thought of what awaited him.  There was nothing he hated worse than being helpless and cast aside as if he were unimportant, without the power that he had become addicted to.  And the Abyss was terror itself, even for him, the Master of Terror.
The angel threw him into the Abyss, and shut the entrance and sealed it over him, to make sure he would not deceive the nations again until the thousand years had passed.  At the end of that time he must be released, but only for a short while. 
He would be released.  That truth hit him with unexpected relief.   Releasssed, Lucifer exulted quietly within himself, his head thrown back, his eyes closed, his fists clenched.  He would be released.  It did not matter that it would only be for a short while.  He would plan his revenge for those thousand years and prepare his armies for war and he would make his last statement one of blood and devastation.
He was ready to go, ready to get on with it.  He could stand still no longer.  He could receive no more visions.  It was time to go and to return with his spiritual army and make war in heaven.  He would not be chained without a fight.
Destroy and be destroyed.  That was the watchword now.  Like a mad dog or a roaring lion, he would make his presence and power known.  And the vision confirmed Satan’s plans even as he made them.
When the thousand years are over, Satan will be released from his prison and will come out to deceive all the nations in the four quarters of the earth…. and mobilize them for war.   His armies will be as many as the sands of the sea; they will come swarming over the entire country and besiege the camp of the saints, which is the city that God loves.
It was enough, Lucifer smiled wickedly, the rest doesn’t matter.
Lucifer turned and faced Michael.
“Will you let me pass?” he asked in an even voice, his teeth set, his jaw firm.
“No,” came the answer as even and firm.
Lucifer looked at him with a raised eyebrow but Michael merely said, “Your evil minions have been summoned but the war begins here and now.”
Michael slowly raised his sword while Lucifer did the same.  It would start with these two, with this dual of the mighty.  Lucifer looked at Michael carefully, his eyes mere slits.  But the outcome depended not so much on strength of arm or superior strategy but on authority.  And his authority was in question.  He could feel it draining from him like water through a sieve.  Something was happening but what?  What?
All of the frustration and anger of the past hours seemed to catch up to him in that moment and overwhelm him with a raging desire for revenge, which he directed entirely upon Michael.  With a swiftness born of many battles, Lucifer grasped his sword, swinging it in a series of lightning swift arches as he moved toward Michael.  Growing in stature so that he towered over his youngest brother, he swung his mighty sword and bore down upon Michael with all of his strength.
But Michael’s sword was there to meet his and the sound of their battle echoed upon the earth with the shaking and trembling of a mighty earthquake that sent other human warriors guarding the tomb into the dust with fear.
It was time.
The Desert Warrior
P.S.  Let’s talk to God….
Lord, the spiritual warfare upon this earth is serious business.  I think I can see it now and I can see why you want me to participate in it as a witness to the power of your resurrection in me, the power of the cross to heal relationships and change the human heart.  Thank you, Lord for your power within me.  Help me to testify to the truth no matter what it costs me.  In Jesus name I pray.  Amen.
Read more    (from The Temptations of the Cross)
The garden was beautiful beyond words.
Forever after Gabriel would cherish the memory of the pristine beauty and awesome splendor of those Days of Artistry.  The Majesty had decided this new thing, this wonder, and the Word had worked His power and the Presence had filled it to overflowing with life and abundance.  It was breathtaking.   It was intriguing.  It was filled with surprise and wonder as Adonai Elohim Almighty wrote the secrets of His deepest thoughts into the fabric of this new world.
“Michael, over here.  Look at this.”
Gabriel loved to explore this combination of energy and matter, this world of bodies and space that interacted in such a strange way.
Michael joined him in an instant, as excited as a young colt in a new meadow.  They hovered over the garden, their wings slowly and majestically beating the air, talking excitedly. (Read more…..)