For roughly six thousand years, the human race has been embroiled in a bitter war with a ruthless enemy. It’s a treacherous war, because most people don’t believe it exists—and many of those who do aren’t fighting for the side they think. This enemy is crafty. He does not eat because he does not grow hungry. He does not sleep because he does not grow tired. He does not die because he does not grow old—and he devotes the entirety of his warped genius toward our complete extinction.
He’s been there since our beginning. When Eve cast her eyes upon the forbidden fruit, he was there. When Cain picked up that rock and beat the life out of his brother, he was there. When Nimrod and his followers built a tower in defiance of God, he was there. When Jesus was nailed to the cross, when the apostles were martyred, when the Church of God was persecuted and defamed—pick the moment, he was there. He operates in the background, on a spiritual plane we can’t comprehend using weapons we struggle to perceive—but he’s there. Influencing. Manipulating. Intimidating. Corrupting. Deceiving. Perverting. Destroying.
The Bible calls him Satan. The adversary. He is the enemy of God’s people, the accuser of our brethren, the fallen angel, the devouring lion, the cunning serpent, and the fiery dragon. He alone is responsible for more pain and suffering than any other being that has ever existed. And I don’t have to give you examples, because you know. You know the kind of damage Satan can do because you’ve seen it. You’ve seen it in history books. You’ve seen it on the news when you turn on the TV. You’ve seen it in the lives of friends and family, and you’ve seen it in your own life and in your own heart. The most malicious being in the world has an intense desire to destroy you and everything you care about.
But it’s okay. Why? Because of today. Because of the Day of Atonement.
Because today is the day we win. Today is the day we beat the dragon.
In the days of ancient Israel, Atonement was the day when the high priest would come before the ark of the covenant and make atonement for the sins of Israel (Leviticus 16:15-16). It was also the day when an azazel goat was selected to symbolically bear “all the iniquities of the children of Israel, and all their transgressions” (Leviticus 16:21) before being banished into the wilderness.
Today, we understand the Day of Atonement to picture a monumental step in the plan of God: the imprisonment of Satan. We know from the book of Revelation that this day is coming—a day revealed to the apostle John in a vision, where he saw “an angel coming down from heaven, having the key to the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand. He laid hold of the dragon, that serpent of old, who is the Devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years; and he cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal on him, so that he should deceive the nations no more till the thousand years were finished” (Revelation 20:1-3).
This is that day.
The Day of Atonement pictures a day in the future when Satan, the true azazel goat, will be held responsible for his innumerable crimes and sealed away for a thousand years of peace, the like of which the world has never seen. Satan, the fiery dragon and our perpetual foe, will be rendered impotent by the mighty hand of God and stripped of all his influence. Our enemy will be defeated.
Things are tough right now. They’re tough for everyone, and I see that more and more every time I talk with people. But let’s not forget why they’re tough—because Satan is running out of time, and he knows it. Every day that passes is one less day for him to harass God’s people, so he’s eager to do everything he can with the time he has. That means turning up the pressure and pushing the envelope as far as God will allow him in this present age.
But it can’t go on forever. It has to end, and it is going to end when that angel descends from heaven and locks him away for a thousand years. And that’s part of the message of Atonement: that day is coming. Atonement isn’t just the day where we don’t eat for 24 hours. It isn’t just the day we have to get through to get to the Feast of Tabernacles. It’s a day that pictures all of humanity being freed from the clutches of a being determined to ruin their lives and their future. It’s a day when this terrible war will end and we will find the rest for which we have been longing. It’s a day integral to the entire plan of God.
So what about right now? What about this moment, when Satan is still unbound and our fight is still unfinished?
We take a hint from the apostle Paul, who reminds us, “now it is high time to awake out of sleep; for now our salvation is nearer than when we first believed. The night is far spent, the day is at hand. Therefore let us cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light” (Romans 13:11-12).
One day, this war will end. But today, in this moment, it still rages on. We’re still fighting, and we will be until we see our enemy locked away. So take up your armor, take up your swords, and let us fight the good fight.
Onward, Christian soldiers.
Until next time,