“And having disarmed the powers and authorities, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.”Colossians 2:15 — Berean Study Bible
The supernatural battle between Yahweh and the gods of the nations lasted for over 1,000 years before Messiah would come into the world in the fullness of time. The children of Israel historically were prone to wander away from Yahweh and whore after rival gods, spiritually prostituting themselves in the worst forms of immorality and idolatry. The overall record of the kings in both Israel and Judah proved to be one of perpetual rebellion, forcing God to judge His own people.
In response to their spiritual apostasy, the LORD withdrew His blessing and protection from the northern Kingdom of Israel and eventually gave them over to the Assyrians in 722 B.C. The fall of Samaria and exile of Israel was a disastrous blow to God’s people and a significant counter-punch by the pagan gods. But it wouldn’t be the last.
“In the ninth year of Hoshea, the king of Assyria captured Samaria, and he carried the Israelites away to Assyria and placed them in Halah, and on the Habor, the river of Gozan, and in the cities of the Medes. And this occurred because the people of Israel had sinned against the LORD their God, who had brought them up out of the land of Egypt from under the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt, and had feared other gods … And they abandoned all the commandments of the LORD their God, and made for themselves metal images of two calves; and they made an Asherah and worshiped all the host of heaven and served Baal. And they burned their sons and their daughters as offerings and used divination and omens and sold themselves to do evil in the sight of the LORD, provoking him to anger. Therefore the LORD was very angry with Israel and removed them out of his sight. None was left but the tribe of Judah only.”2 Kings 17:6-7, 16-18
Although the southern Kingdom of Judah would last another 135 years, it too would eventually be given over to the king of Babylon in 586 B.C. for serving rival gods. This time, the gods of Babylon delivered what seemed to be the final blow to God’s people by laying siege to Jerusalem and destroying the Temple of Yahweh.
“Behold, you trust in deceptive words to no avail. Will you steal, murder, commit adultery, swear falsely, make offerings to Baal, and go after other gods that you have not known, and then come and stand before me in this house, which is called by my name, and say, ‘We are delivered!’—only to go on doing all these abominations? Has this house, which is called by my name, become a den of robbers in your eyes? Behold, I myself have seen it, declares the LORD … therefore I will do to the house that is called by my name, and in which you trust, and to the place that I gave to you and to your fathers, as I did to Shiloh. And I will cast you out of my sight, as I cast out all your kinsmen, all the offspring of Ephraim.”Jeremiah 7:8-11, 14-15
The people and land of Israel would never be the same. Although Cyrus, King of Persia, allowed a remnant to return to the land and rebuild under Ezra and Nehemiah, rival nations (and their “gods”) retained control over Jerusalem and the Promised Land. Israel had broken faith with Yahweh and ultimately had failed to be a light to the Gentiles. Instead, God’s people had plunged into spiritual darkness for serving the gods of the Gentiles.
But none of this would take God by surprise. His eternal plan of redemption was well in motion. Yahweh knew that the only way He could defeat the gods of the nations was to do it Himself. The only way to redeem a people for His own possession from every nation would be to step into spacetime and shine His light to overcome the darkness. Enter Yeshua — Yahweh in human form.
The Triumph of Jesus — the Son of God
Jesus Christ was born of the tribe of Judah in the land of Israel just as predicted by the prophets. The Son of God entered the world at ground zero — Israel — the spiritual epicenter on earth. His mission included bearing witness to the good news salvation, shining light into the spiritual darkness, confronting the supernatural forces of evil, demonstrating miraculous power, and setting captives free from bondage.
And when he came to the other side, to the country of the Gadarenes, two demon-possessed men met him, coming out of the tombs, so fierce that no one could pass that way. And behold, they cried out, “What have you to do with us, O Son of God? Have you come here to torment us before the time?”Matthew 8:28-29
Make no mistake. The gods of this age — the rulers, principalities and powers of darkness in the heavenly places — were on heightened alert. The Unique Son of God had done the unthinkable. The Immortal God had taken on mortality by becoming a man. The devil and his angels finally had their chance to kill the Son of God once and for all and put an end to Yahweh’s reign on earth.
As the evil plan transpired, it seemed too good to be true. Satan and his demonic forces initiated a conspiracy among Israel’s leaders, seduced Judas to betray Jesus, manipulated Pilate to give in to political pressure, and convinced the crowds to cry for blood. Their sinister plan was actually working. The Son of God would be nailed to the cross and die like any man.
The gods of this world had won. The Son of God was dead. It was over … or so they thought.
Instead of putting an end to God’s eternal plan of redemption and claiming victory over the Son of God, the gods of this world were actually fulfilling God’s predetermined will and contributing to their own demise and defeat! Even the rulers of this age never could have imagined a scenario where they would be defeated by death itself.
Yet among the mature we do impart wisdom, although it is not a wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are doomed to pass away. But we impart a secret and hidden wisdom of God, which God decreed before the ages for our glory. None of the rulers of this age understood this, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.
But, as it is written,“What no eye has seen, nor ear heard,2 Corinthians 2:6-9
nor the heart of man imagined,
what God has prepared for those who love him”
The cross wasn’t the tragedy of God’s Son. It was His triumph! Jesus disarmed the rulers through his death, burial and resurrection [Colossians 2:13-15]. He made a public spectacle of them!
Then Jesus went and proclaimed victory over the “spirits” in prison — the angels who had sinned in rebellion during the days of Noah [see 1 Peter 3:18-22, Genesis 6:1-5].
Then the right hook of the resurrection caught the gods of this world squarely in the mouth, proving that Jesus was indeed the Great Conquering King who was given authority over the nations to rule them with a rod of iron.
After showing Himself to many witnesses and commissioning His disciples to go in His unparalleled authority and power, He ascended into heaven to take His place at the right hand of God — the most preeminent and powerful place in the universe. Consider how Paul speaks of this triumph.
“That he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.”Ephesians 1:20-23
And He commanded His followers — the church — to walk and work and witness in His authority and make disciples of all nations until He returns! In other words, the Lord Jesus has enlisted us in the supernatural battle of the ages to go and reclaim the nations through the power of the gospel for the glory of God.
The Day of the LORD — The Final Knockout Punch
Jesus called this age the “times of the Gentiles” [Luke 21:24], and the Apostle Paul says that the Day of the LORD will not come until the fullness of the Gentiles is complete [Romans 11:25-26]. The Great Commission of the Lord Jesus is the redemptive reclamation of the Gentile nations into the covenant community of faith. In His mercy, God is delivering millions upon millions of Gentiles out of the death grip of the gods and rulers of this world.
Once the full number of Gentiles has come into the kingdom of God, then the LORD will return from heaven to deliver the final knockout punch to the gods of the nations. The prophets all speak of the Day when the nations will invade the Beautiful Land and converge around Jerusalem in one last futile attempt to destroy God’s people.
The Day of the LORD will be the battle of the ages and the deathblow to the kingdom of darkness.
At this moment, King Yeshua will come down from heaven and strike the nations with the sword of His mouth and tread the winepress of the wrath of God. But the Day of the LORD will not only include the judgment of the wicked human kings and armies in alliance with Antichrist, but also will involve the final judgment of the supernatural gods of the nations who are at work behind them.
Isaiah makes this clear.
“On that day the LORD will punishIsaiah 24:21-22
the host of heaven, in heaven,
and the kings of the earth, on the earth.
They will be gathered together
as prisoners in a pit;
they will be shut up in a prison,
and after many days they will be punished.”
At the same time that the LORD returns to kill the Antichrist and the False Prophet [Revelation 19], He will kill the gods so that they die like men.
I said, “You are gods,
sons of the Most High, all of you;
nevertheless, like men you shall die,
and fall like any prince.”
Arise, O God, judge the earth;Psalm 82:6-8
for you shall inherit all the nations!
Even so … Lord Jesus. Come Quickly.