Garden of Eden and all that was in it, was the perfect expression of God’s love for mankind for there was nothing that they could ever need from outside the Garden. Satan attempted to rise above his designated place in heaven and he successfully tried and led Adam and Eve to aspire beyond their God appointed place. They were led away from God’s table of abundance on to devil’s table of pain, grief and suffering. Even today devil is still persisting in his efforts to lead more and more people to his table, especially believers, who need to learn to differentiate between the place of God and Satan.
Distinguishing features of devil’s spread – Every action must lead to an outcome, whether good or bad. Even dining with someone or calling someone over is also done with a purpose which could be developing closer relationship, to reconciling a dispute or many other such causes. Lord Jesus clearly defined His and the devil’s work on the earth, ‘The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy, I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly’ (John 10:10). The thief referred to here is the devil and the purpose of his coming is clarified.
The Greek word ‘thyo’ translated as kill means ‘to kill as a sacrifice and offer on an altar’ implying something like a spiritual sacrifice. The devil accepts anyone who joins him as a sacrificial offering to himself through his/her spiritual death, death that happened to Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. The promise of the Son of God is about ‘perissos’ meaning all around blessings, excess, beyond what is anticipated, exceeding expectation. So the Lord promises the believers ‘that they might continuously have life, even that they may continuously have it all around’.
Apostle Paul has declared the same fact and then source of knowing the details of the same ‘Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him. But God has revealed them unto us by His Spirit’ (1 Corinthians 2:9-10). We have been blessed with spiritual awareness of all the blessings and graces of God, that are earmarked for us for this life and eternally, that the natural man cannot perceive. The ‘things of the Spirit of God are foolishness to him, neither can he know them, for they are spiritually discerned’ (1 Corinthians 2:14).
Genesis 1and 2 give account of creation, which is about the setting up of His table by God for all of His creation. On the third day itself God created ‘grass, the herb that yields seed, and the fruit tree, that yields fruit according to its kind’ (Genesis 1:11, 21 & 25). God created the birds, cattle, beasts and all other things of the animal world on the fifth and sixth day. Man was created right at the end, for the kingdom, that he was to rule over as a representative of God, must exist beforehand. This is God’s table and man was then blessed to ‘be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it’ and have dominion over everything (Genesis 1:28-29). All the herbs and fruits available were given over as food. God visited them every evening to help them spiritually understand all that was happening all around them (Genesis 3:8). Satan has nothing of his own for he cannot create anything but only steals. The serpent told Eve that God was unjust in withholding the fruit of one tree, despite the fact that all else was under their control (Genesis 3:5). They were created in the ‘image and likeness of God’ but the temptation of eating the forbidden fruit was, ‘you will be like God’. He had nothing but took charge over everything thereafter.
‘God is love’ and love is about giving and that is what God does even up to giving His Son as a Redeemer for us (1 John 4:8). Compared to this is the table that Satan sets up for the Son of Man (Matthew 4:3-11) in the wilderness. His actions reveal his worth, first suggestion, use Your power to convert stones to bread and satisfy your hunger; second, jump from the height and hope for the angels of God to save You for that is God’s promise in His Word. Third, fall down before me and worship me, meaning surrender all Your Godly authority and power of being the Son of God to me first, and then in return for rule of Your heavenly kingdom I will give you kingship of earthly kingdoms, which also do not belong to him but to God the Creator. The devil’s demand is ‘thyo’, kill yourself spiritually and surrender to my altar before receiving anything.
A table is where we literally eat physical food, but spiritually, it refers to mental and spiritual food being eaten and eating at someone’s table means being in general agreement with the host. Apostle Paul warned the Romans (Romans 11:9-10) about the same trap that David had warned about, ‘Let their table become a snare and a trap, a stumbling block and a recompense to them. Let their eyes be darkened so that they do not see’ (Psalm 69:22-23). At God’s table the Holy Spirit as our teacher is ever ready to reveal the mysteries of God. Lord Jesus, the Redeemer, ended the slavery of mankind to the lies of the devil by revealing the truth and by calling all believers’ as friends (John 15:15). The devil is a liar from the beginning and the conversation with Eve is proof. He feeds the minds with lies to distract and to make one blind to the truth when it is presented.
The assurance of God’s table of abundance with no lack is in His Word, the Manna from heaven was available to the Israelites in the wilderness for forty years. It is about love, compassion and joy while the devil’s is about uncertainty, lack, fear, alarm and crying. The devil hides his intentions with lies or half truths ‘for there is no truth in him’. Martin Luther King Jr had said, ‘Whomever you would change you must love, and they must know that you love them’. God’s love is not only manifested in the creation as also in our daily lives with the greatest part being His Son our Redeemer and His sacrifice on the cross.
We seek and serve God with rejoicing for we are not obliged to meet any of His needs. God is perfect in every sense and needs nothing from us and rather He blesses us daily by fulfilling our needs. His grace, compassion and mercy are never ending while Satan has nothing of his own and demands all that we have to be used for his evil purposes under the guise of meeting our fleshly desires.
Why do believers’ suffer – King David was the youngest son of Jesse and least esteemed but all through his formative years, he developed a close relationship with God. He could lay bare his heart open before God and express his anguish unconcealed to receive grace and compassion. Even during periods when he had nothing, he could still say with confidence, ‘You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil; my cup runs over’ (Psalm 23:5). This whole Psalm and especially these lines have strengthened the heart of soldiers and evangelists alike when facing unimaginable odds. The previous verse is of the ‘shadow of death’ but here God is seen inviting for a rich banquet to shame the enemies and give them a clear message of His hand being on His chosen ones. There is great preparation made by Sovereign God to reach out and bless the called.
Invitation for a meal was an assurance of protection as also of a sumptuous feast. The enemies profiling is already done by God and their weak spots identified before the table is spread which involves foresight and detailed planning. Since the table is ‘for me’, it assures us of a close personal connection. The table is set up in ‘the presence of my enemies’ and though they are not removed we are still assured of great blessings. A believer is always in a battle zone but there is always a ‘table’ set up by God for a leisurely meal for there is no hurry and peace abounds all around. Despite the enemies’ presence God anoints His servant with oil, with rich blessings of His goodness. God’s table is to refresh, strengthen and train for the next battle. There is no lack and rather my cup is overflowing. Am I accepting the invitation of God to join Him at His table?
Are we willing to ‘cast all our cares’ on God and let Him take charge or do we continue to fight alone thinking that it is nobody else’s battle (1 Peter 5:7). The basic difference between God and the devil is that God does not intrude without being sought while Satan does not leave anyone alone.
David was declared by God Himself as a ‘man after My heart, who will do My will’ (Acts 13:22). David could rejoice in God that ‘The LORD is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold’ (Psalm 18:2). David did not just mouth these words but fully believed in God. Goliath had been challenging the Israelites for forty days to fight him and all were afraid to step forward. David, not yet of age to join the army, could confidently fight, defeat and kill the giant in faith that, ‘This day the LORD will deliver you into my hand, and I will strike you and take your head from you’ (1 Samuel 17:45-47).
‘Without faith it is impossible to please God’ (Hebrews 11:6) for God’s way of rewarding the faithful is through examination of the heart, by testing ‘the mind, even to give every man according to his ways, according to the fruit of his things’ (Jeremiah 17:10).
Apostle Paul warns about eating from the offerings that the unbelievers sacrifice to their Gods (1 Corinthians 10:20). When we share in such offerings, though by themselves they are nothing, but the demonic influence of the place is likely to afflict you. We participate in the Lord’s Table and cannot join the table of demons also. An offering is made for a certain sin or affliction to the reigning deity of a place for appeasing him/her or for changing the course of nature. The offering is then distributed to all present. Legend has it that the affliction is then passed on to all who partake of the offering in proportion thus diluting the effect. But anyone who has a similar ongoing problem may suffer serious consequences of such sharing. For a believer, Lord Jesus has already made the supreme sacrifice on the cross to take away any evil effect but when we join others in their sacrifices, we step out of the protection of our God.
Prophet Elijah had a remarkable victory over the prophets of Baal and Asherah who used to ‘eat at Jezebel’s table’, the queen of Israel in Samaria, and 450 of them were killed (1 Kings 18). But Jezebel did not catch hold of Elijah to kill him but sent word to him, ‘let the gods do to me, and more also, if I do not make your life as the life of one of them by tomorrow about this time’ (1 Kings 19:2-3). Prophet Elijah, ‘When he saw that, he arose and ran for his life’. The message was heard but he saw in the spiritual realm what Jezebel was planning, to release the full might of evil forces on the prophet and he thought himself to be helpless before that attack. He fled into the territory of Judah and onto God’s mountain. A believer also who is not in close daily fellowship with the Lord will become fearful of the consequences of the demonic attack.
What is an idol? Is it a statue of stone, gold or silver or any other metal only? An idol is any idea, ability, possession, or person that we regard more than God. We condemn others for worshipping idols but we also worship other gods like power, money, physical attractiveness that keep us focused away from our LORD God. Prohibition is for the reason that what you are joined to, you become like that. The Holy Spirit sanctifies us to set us apart for the heavenly kingdom and through daily transformation we are confirmed into the ‘image and likeness of the Son of God’. This process would be hindered and cause undue suffering.
A believer is to look unto Lord Jesus, ‘the author and finisher of our faith’ with total commitment (Hebrews 12:2). When we focus our gaze on the Lord everything else will become dim and if we shift focus on other things then the Lord will become dim, as if we were very far from Him, which in any case happens with that shifted gaze. Apostle Paul warns that ‘all things are lawful (morally legitimate and permissible) but not all things are beneficial’ (1 Corinthians 10:23). The one who joins the demonic group and any other believer who per chance sees this, their faith may be affected adversely.
Apostle James’ teaching is twofold, Firstly, submit yourselves to God to draw on the power of God available through the indwelling Holy Spirit; second, resist the devil in that power and authority of the Lord and then he will flee (James 4:7).
Isaac asked Abraham, his father, ‘The fire and wood are here, but where is the lamb for the burnt offering. Abraham answered, ‘God Himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son’ (Genesis 22:7-8). Abraham’s focus was clear that the God who could make him and Sarah have a child when it was impossible, the same God will save the child’s life also. Abraham then called God ‘Yehowah Yireh’, the God who sees and provides, for He retained his focus on God alone. Joining those who are involved in forbidden practices where a demonic power may provide a right answer to a question, may entice you also, to try next time, thus turning you away from God. A man while putting his hand into the fire, does not want to burn himself and hopes to pull out quickly but there burn injury does happen.
God paid a very heavy price of sacrificing His own Son to redeem us from the devil and we cannot take it lightly. Apostle Paul elaborates this fact that your body is ‘a temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you’ (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). You are not your own but the purchase of God and we are duty bound to ‘glorify God with our body’ and joining up with others in any other worship is against Scripture. Apostle Paul was a man of unique faith and he could participate in any such events to preach the message and this prohibition is for us who may not be that strong in faith and for others who may see us and lose faith or suffer.
While it is true that we cannot preach the message of the Gospel to others without meeting them in their places. But it does not mean that we have to join in their worship practices. God revealed the light of His glory both at the time of creation and redemption of mankind in His Son. But His light was then separated from the darkness abounding on the earth. When we are joined to the Lord, darkness stays away but the ‘roaring lion’ is never far, and we must keep watch!