Naturally, those who remain loyal to God are the special target of Satan’s final effort to deceive. Revelation 12, the chapter that first mentions the war in heaven, describes God’s loyal ones as being the special objects of Satan’s wrath (12:12). He goes to make war on those called the Remnant, the ones left over. Those who are the object of Satan’s special wrath are: “All those who obey God’s commandments and are faithful to the truth revealed by Jesus” (Rev 12:17, GNB). They do not accept Satan’s lies.
If we count ourselves among God’s loyal people, we would do well to notice Satan’s successes through the centuries in deceiving the saints. He doesn’t normally tempt saints into the gross indulgences, the things which most saints would never think of doing. Rather, Satan has used insidious methods to turn saints against our heavenly Father, even while they professed to be God’s chosen people. We remember his original success among the brilliant angels in heaven. How is it possible Satan could deceive them right in the very presence of the Father? Yet he did.
We gain some insight into Satan’s deceptions as we consider how he worked against God’s chosen people in the Old Testament. After the discipline of Babylon and the great revival and reformation that took place under Ezra and Nehemiah, God’s Old Testament people never worshiped idols again. Oh, how they read their Bibles, paid their tithe, watched their diet, and were so very careful not to be contaminated by association with unbelievers! Oh, how they waited for the coming of their Messiah! You could say, in principle, they were all eager “adventists.”
Yet, when the Messiah came to live among them, they denounced His picture of the Father as heretical and unbiblical. They even said the Son of God had a devil to be talking about His Father that way: “The Jews answered Him, ‘Aren’t we right in saying that you are a Samaritan and demon-possessed?’” John 8:48, NIV. Imagine them saying that the Lord had a demon for describing God the way He did! When they said that the Lord had a devil, they seemed so devout. They were eager to be known as God’s true people, even working hard to win others to the truth. Recall Jesus’ own words as He commented on the worldwide evangelistic efforts of His people in those days:
How terrible for you, teachers of the Law and Pharisees! You hypocrites! You sail the seas and cross whole countries to win one convert; and when you succeed, you make him twice as deserving of going to hell as you yourselves are. . . ! You give to God one tenth even of the seasoning herbs, such as mint, dill, and cumin, but you neglect to obey the really important teachings of the Law, such as justice and mercy and honesty. . . . Blind guides! You strain a fly out of your drink, but swallow a camel (Matt 23:15, 23-24, GNB)!
They would win that convert to the Sabbath and all those other things. Yet their convert might at the same time be a son of hell, as other versions say. They had accepted Satan’s picture of God and completely overlooked what God really wanted from them.
In saying this I am not being disrespectful to Jewish people. Keep in mind, when I refer to the Jews, that Jesus was a Jew. Paul was a Jew. The apostles were Jews. The prophets of the Old Testament were Jews. Where would we be but for the Jews? Jews have always sought to be God’s obedient saints. I am simply pointing out that their failings then were similar to ours now. Notice how their passion to obey God caused a serious problem for them on crucifixion Friday:
Early in the morning Jesus was taken from Caiaphas’ house to the governor’s palace. The Jewish authorities did not go inside the palace, for they wanted to keep themselves ritually clean, in order to be able to eat the Passover meal (John 18:28, GNB).
Think of what the Passover represented. The Jews rightly and devoutly wanted to partake of the Passover. But the crucifixion threatened to interrupt their plans. Since the day of the crucifixion was not just a Passover, but a Passover Friday, there was one additional problem that faced them:
Now it was the day of Preparation [Friday], and the next day was to be a special Sabbath. Because the Jews did not want the bodies left on the crosses during the Sabbath, they asked Pilate to have the legs broken and the bodies taken down (John 19:31, NIV).
After the bodies were taken down, they hurried home to keep the Sabbath holy. This is perhaps the most insane thing in the history of the universe. Having nailed their Saviour to the cross, they ran home to keep the Sabbath holy in honor of the very One they had just crucified. They had watched the way Jesus behaved as He suffered. They heard Him say, “I forgive you.” They heard Him say to John, “Please look after My mother.” They heard Him forgiving the thief. Jesus had behaved precisely as the Old Testament prophets had said He would. But they were so deceived by Satan’s lies that they were totally unmoved by this. Instead they asserted that Jesus was the One who had accepted Satan’s lies about God.