Christians should be keenly aware of the evil one, and all his machinations. Learn from his subtle goading of Jesus in the wilderness with half truths. Study his word games with Eve. Examine the utter ruination of a disciple who chose to betray Christ. Read about the alluring manner of Delilah with Samson, or the entrapment of Joseph by Potiphar’s wife. For accounts of evil kings and queens, examine the actions of Ahab and Jezebel, and Herod. Better, think about how the scribes and Pharisees plotted to kill Jesus. Then there is all that Jesus said directly about the “prince of the power of the air.”
44 You are of your father the devil, and you want to do the desires of your father. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth because there is no truth in him. Whenever he tells a lie, he speaks from his own nature, because he is a liar and the father of lies. John 8:44
In all cases, it is obvious Satan has a playbook, and he returns to it time and time again.
Moreover, he operates both in our meager realm and in the the spiritual world above.
12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. Ephesians 6:12
You might wonder out loud why God has allowed such a force to run rampant and roughshod over all of humankind for so long? Well, the Almighty has an endgame, and it does not end well for the “father of lights.”
In Joel 3 we read of God’s plans to finally rid himself of the evil nations who had their way with his Chosen People. In the end, he will do all the goading, drawing them to the Valley of Jehoshaphat (or “Decision” as in v. 14) to meet their fate.
1“For behold, in those days and at that time,
When I restore the fortunes of Judah and Jerusalem,
2 I will gather all the nations
And bring them down to the Valley of Jehoshaphat.
Then I will enter into judgment with them there
On behalf of My people and My inheritance, Israel,
Whom they have scattered among the nations;
And they have divided up My land.
3 They have also cast lots for My people,
Traded a boy for a prostitute,
And sold a girl for wine so that they may drink. Joel 3:1-3
I digress for a moment to address a current topic from a few miles up. What’s quite clear from history and our present state of affairs, Satan is alive and well, still dishing out misery, death and destruction, pain and confusion. If he was effective with Nero, Stalin and Hitler, and countless others down through time, we cannot downplay a return to the playbook with other leaders in power now. Immediately, thoughts go to the present administration. Know this for sure, though, if there is any leader who truly aligns with God and/or his people, or His purposes, Satan will seek to destroy that leader using every tool, trick or weapon he has at his disposal.
We tend to be duped into thinking Satan scorns who we may scorn on face value, but we should be smart enough to know that he contends with anyone who is touching a raw nerve (his), meaning that person is trending toward right rather than wrong.
We tend to think that God only uses the pious, dignified, and saintly. If that were so, he’d never use me or you! God used Cyrus the Great (see Isaiah 45), the king of Persia, obviously not in the blood line of King David, to return Israel to her land. Today people would scowl at this choice, yet great good was done and the temple was rebuilt.
We must, therefore, cut through the noise, and think like God thinks. He uses willing and unwilling participants, but he tends to tack on blessings to those who give him the credit, or hang out with those who do. We cannot know where someone stands spiritually by outward manifestations or mannerisms alone, or 280-character messages. We can observe, however, the force with which Satan applies to rid himself of these do-good types. If the devil is attempting to move heaven and earth to bring someone down, know for sure that he is striving ultimately against the goodness and influence of almighty God, not because that person is uncouth.
Know this also. The more stubborn and strong a man or woman is in resisting or attacking evil or injustice, the more aggressive, radical, and desperate Satan becomes. It is actually a testament to that person’s authenticity and favorable stance before God, or heavenly assignment (or calling) without belief as with Cyrus, that engenders such unbridled antagonism.
Of course, nations and what they stand for can also be Satan’s target, but at the tipping point, he normally favors cutting off the head of who he considers, or who he would cause us to believe is, a monster.
Now returning to the passage, it appears (at least here) that the Lord is more apt to refer to particular nations as malefactors, rather than kings (Tyre, Sidon, Philistia, Greece, Edom, Egypt). Joel 3 addresses the problem of those nations who appear to have gotten away with murder. To them there looms a future day of reckoning in the Valley of Jehoshaphat. More on this coming.