Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered outside the gate. Therefore, let us go forth to him outside the camp, bearing his reproach. For we have no continuing city here, but we seek one to come.
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But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there shall also be false teachers among you, . . . .bringing upon themselves swift destruction.
As also he writes in all his letters when he speaks in them about matters, among which are some things hard to understand, which those who are ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they also do the other scriptures.
There is more than one kind of destruction found in the Bible. Of course, physical destruction is mentioned often in regard to cities and nations that were conquered, as well as in regard to this heaven and earth, which will be destroyed and replaced with “a new heaven and a new earth”. That is a physical destruction, by which things cease to exist. But the other kind of destruction is spiritual, and it is a fearful and sobering reality. It is a state of being destroyed, and yet continuing to live.
We all know that to be chosen and given a place in God’s kingdom is a precious blessing. Such a gift is not to be taken lightly, but to be nurtured by giving diligent attention to the word of God. But if a child of God, especially an anointed servant of God, becomes so unruly that the Lord removes him from his place in God’s kingdom, that person has, in a very real and fearsome way, been destroyed. This happened to the creature called Satan. He was “destroyed from” his place in God’s kingdom, which means, of course, he has no hope of recovering his place, his gifts and his anointing. The young prophet Ezekiel told us about that awful event (28:13-16).
First, Ezekiel spoke of the blessings God had freely given to Satan:
“You have been in Eden the garden of God. Every precious stone was your covering, the sardius, topaz, and the diamond, the beryl, the onyx, and the jasper, the sapphire, the emerald, and the carbuncle, and gold. The workmanship of your timbrels and of your pipes was prepared in you in the day you were created.
“You are the anointed cherub who covers, and I have set you so. You were upon the holy mountain of God. You have walked up and down in the midst of the stones of fire.”
So, Satan was created with a gift for music (timbrels and pipes), and as Ezekiel would later say, “perfect in beauty and full of wisdom”. He was also anointed to “cover” something in heaven of great importance. He had access to some of the most holy places of God. What precious gifts! But Ezekiel continues:
“You were perfect in your ways from the day that you were created, until iniquity was found in you. By the multitude of your merchandise, they have filled the midst of you with violence, and you have sinned. Therefore, I will cast you, as profane, out of the mountain of God, and I will destroy you, O covering cherub, from the midst of the stones of fire.”
We are never told what those “stones of fire” are. In his Revelation, John was caught up into heaven and described much of what he saw, but he never mentioned the stones of fire. But whatever the “stones of fire” refers to, it was a special place where Satan often walked, and it was a blessing for Satan to be allowed there. Ezekiel described Satan as “walking up and down in the midst of the stones of fire.” Not everybody in heaven would have been anointed to do that. It was one of Lucifer’s gifts from God. But Satan became proud and lost it all:
“Your heart was lifted up because of your beauty. You corrupted your wisdom by reason of thy brightness. . . . You have defiled your sanctuaries by the multitude of your iniquities, by the iniquity of your traffic. . . . All they that know you among the people shall be astonished at you. You will be a terror, and never shall you be any more.”
Ezekiel was right. Every one of God’s people who see what God has done to Satan, see it as “a terror”. They are instructed in the fear of God, for they know that once someone has been destroyed from his place, he can never regain it. What a tragedy, to be created to stand in holy places, to be created with understanding, beauty, and an anointing from God, and then to lightly esteem those things and lose it all! That is Satan’s story. He was a fool. But it is not only Satan’s story. Jude warned the saints to remember the example of others who were destroyed from their places in God’s kingdom:
“Now, I want to remind you, though you once knew that the Lord, after He saved a people out of Egypt, later on destroyed those who did not believe. Moreover, angels who did not keep to their own domain but left their proper abode, He has reserved in eternal chains, under gloomy darkness, until the Judgment of the Great Day” (vv. 5-6).
Much of the Bible is a record of those who lightly esteemed their calling and their gifts from God, as well as of those who cherished their gifts from God. Jesus referred to the first group as “foolish” and to the second as “wise”. Peter said that the first group were to be destroyed from their place in God’s kingdom (2Pet. 2:12), but Paul described the second group as being “appointed to salvation” (1Thess. 5:9).
After we are converted, if we continue in the Word of God and grow in the grace and knowledge of the Lord, it is unavoidable that we witness some who esteem their gifts lightly and who will be destroyed from their place. It is gut-wrenching to see precious children of God honored with a special place in His kingdom, and then to watch them be destroyed from it. On the other hand, what a rich blessing it is to see others value the wonderful grace bestowed on them and who guard their gifts as one would guard “a pearl of great price”! Those who are “destroyed” from their place in God’s kingdom may continue to live in this world, and be content, just as the elders as Israel continued living among men after they unjustly condemned and crucified the Lord Jesus. In spite of their continued earthly successes, however, Paul said of them, “the wrath of God has finally overcome them” (1Thess. 2:16). They are destroyed, even though they may be blind to it. They may not come to realize what God has done to them until the moment they die, when their spirits leave their bodies and go down into hell instead of up to be with Christ.
Paul exhorted young Timothy to “lay hold on eternal life”, even though Timothy already had eternal life dwelling in him. But the wise apostle told his beloved Timothy to “lay hold” on the life that he already had because Paul understood that if Timothy lightly esteemed his place in God’s kingdom, he could be destroyed from it. Paul remembered that Lucifer, the fallen angels, Balaam, Esau, Ahithophel, Joash, Judas, and a multitude of other unwise children of God had been destroyed from their places. All of God’s wise children remember this, and tremble. In Psalm 65:4, David said to God, “Blessed is the man whom you choose and cause to approach you, that he may dwell in your courts!” David esteemed God’s call on his life as the most precious thing on earth, and the reward for David loving God’s blessings on his life is that his blessings increased, and he was allowed to keep his blessings and his joys forever.
Have you been called? Have you been chosen to draw near to God through the blood of Jesus Christ? Have you been given wisdom from God? Have you been given a gift, or do you occupy a special place in God’s family? Cherish your blessings. The very worst thing that could happen to you in this life is for you to be destroyed from the place you have been given.