The “Conflict of the Ages”
In order to see the place, importance, and significance of the Rapture we need to begin with some verses that give us a glimpse into the big picture. We need to consider what has gone on in heaven and on earth in the timeless past and its impact upon each of us today as we press toward the consummation of the ages.
Most thinking people would have to agree that there is a pervasive darkness in the world and humanity today; we see society becoming more and more debased before our very eyes. “…the whole world lieth in wickedness.” (1 John 5:19b). What is behind all this evil?
Paul here below wrote of the whole creation in HEAVEN, and on EARTH. He notes the spirit world’s visible and invisible “thrones…dominions… principalities… powers” – those on the earth and those unseen in heaven.
“...by him (Christ) were all things created, that are IN HEAVEN, and that are IN EARTH, VISIBLE (physical) and INVISIBLE (spiritual), whether they be THRONES, OR DOMINIONS, OR PRINCIPALITIES, OR POWERS: all (these) things were created by him (Christ), and for him (Christ)” (Col. 1:16).
These titles as seen above originally were levels of God ordained rank and authority among the angelic “host” (Isa 45:12b) in the “
” in heaven. But Paul also wrote here of these being the fallen spirit world’s “Principalities, and Powers” as the “Rulers of the Darkness of This World.” Kingdomof God
“We wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against (spirit) PRINCIPALITIES, against (spirit) POWERS, against THE RULERS OF THE DARKNESS of THIS WORLD (Gk., aion, age), against SPIRITUAL WICKEDNESS (depravity) IN HIGH PLACES (above the sky).” (Eph. 6:12)
The “conflict of the ages” originated in the heavens with Lucifer, meaning “the morning star”; he was the third highest angel serving God in the 3rd heaven. Lucifer, who became Satan, meaning “the adversary,” caused this conflict that rages even today. He rebelled against God, scheming to be as “the Most High (God)” (Isa. 14:12-14). As result, Lucifer was cast out of the 3rd heaven (the abode of God) to the lower 1st and 2nd heavens where today he still has dominion; ruling by his “principalities, powers,” as the spiritually wicked rulers of darkness over the lower heavens and on the earth.
These heavenly positions of rank and authority are now under Satan, while he is the “God of this world” (2Cor 4:4). Satan’s “invisible” host of fallen spirits (angels) rule the lower heavens and the earth. They rule the earth through the “blinded” (2Cor 4:4) “princes of this world.” These worldly “princes” are Satan’s political and religious system cohorts on earth. As we’ve seen, sometimes our political leaders, dictators, prime ministers, governors, and “religious” leaders rise and appear suddenly as by the hand of the unseen “principalities and powers”; e.g., Hitler, Mussolini, Stalin, and perhaps Obama. Paul says it was the secular and religious “princes of this world” who “crucified the Lord of glory” (1Cor 2:8). These “princes” were the human, visible, Roman authorities in conjunction with
’s religious leaders of that day. They no doubt were influenced by Satanic forces in an effort to stamp out the Savior. They did this not knowing they were actually fulfilling God’s eternal plan for the Savior of the world, while sealing their own demise. Israel
God’s eternal purpose in creating man was to justly recover the earth from the hand of Satan. God instructed Adam to “replenish, subdue… have dominion” on the earth (Gen 1:28). With these phrases of God's instruction, one might assume there were some conflicting forces already at work in the earth. This is borne out when we consider the perfectly created earth being in chaos already in Genesis 1:2. “The earth was (became) without form and an empty waste, and darkness was upon the face of the very great deep (the waters). The Spirit of God was moving (hovering, brooding) over the face of the waters.” (Genesis 1:2 AMP). Thus Satan’s hand had already brought chaos upon the earth, before God’s recreation of the earth seen later in Genesis, and before Adam was created (see Genesis 1:3-31). Peter tells us that world was judged by water long before Noah’s flood. “Whereby the WORLD THAT THEN WAS, being OVERFLOWED WITH WATER, PERISHED” (2 Peter 3:6)
Very soon after Adam’s creation, likely within the first week, Satan came as the Serpent to deceive and tempt Adam and Eve with the original lie. Satan contradicted God’s words, saying if they would defy God’s warning to NOT “eat of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil” and actually did eat of that tree, they could obtain new found knowledge and “…be as gods” (Gen 3:5).
“Be as gods?” Hardly! The Serpent had lied. We know Adam’s rebellion and fall has actually brought “sin” and “death” upon ALL of us as Adam’s human offspring. “… BY ONE MAN (Adam) SIN ENTERED INTO THE WORLD (Gk., kosmos, the arrangement between God and man), and DEATH BY SIN; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned” (Rom 5:12). Adam’s fall brought mankind into slavery to sin, sickness, and death, entirely affecting the arrangement of the world.
Adam had apparently made himself independent of God, but unknowingly he had become subject to and the slave of the “god of this world” - Satan. When Adam and Eve ate of that tree they took into themselves the lies of the Evil One, the one whose “Sin-spirit” now lives in the flesh of all mortal men born into this world. Man had gained a fallen nature. “… the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others. (Ephesians 2:3)
Mankind, by Adam, has gained a “knowledge of good and evil” that he cannot bear, satisfy, or live up to. Fallen man knows what is right but the Sin-nature that he has gained by Adam contradicts that knowledge. “However, it is no longer I who do the deed, but the sin [principle] which is at home in me and has possession of me. 18 For I know that nothing good dwells within me, that is, in my flesh. I can will what is right, but I cannot perform it. [I have the intention and urge to do what is right, but no power to carry it out.] 19 For I fail to practice the good deeds I desire to do, but the evil deeds that I do not desire to do are what I am [ever] doing. 20 Now if I do what I do not desire to do, it is no longer I doing it [it is not myself that acts], but the sin [principle] which dwells within me [fixed and operating in my soul]. (Romans 7:17-20)
Mankind was brought under the dominion of Satan’s kingdom that reigns by“Sin and death.” Only Christ’s “Spirit of life” can set us free from the operation of “Sin and death.” The fact is that every believer can say; “For the law of (the regulating operation of) THE SPIRIT OF LIFE IN CHRIST JESUS HATH (ALREADY) MADE ME FREE from the law of (the regulating operation of) SIN AND DEATH. (Romans 8:2). Whether we walk in that liberty is another question for discussion at a later time.
Thus, with the fall of Adam, mankind was and is today usurped by Satan. But God’s eternally planned kingdom in HEAVEN and on EARTH will ultimately come to pass and be co-ruled by regenerated willing men who have been saved and born of His Spirit-loins, that is of His “Seed (Greek, sperma) which is Christ” (Gal 3:16, 1Pet 1:23). God’s eternally planned Kingdom was put in abeyance until His eternal plan and purpose would be completely fulfilled in and through our Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ, and through its outworking in “the fullness of times.”
Christ will establish His eternal Kingdom in ALL the heavens and on earth, through the saved and redeemed of mankind. Christ saves all men who will believe. “That In The Dispensation of THE FULNESS OF TIMES he (God) might gather together in one ALL THINGS IN CHRIST, BOTH which are IN HEAVEN, and which are ON EARTH; even in him (Christ)” (Ephesians 1:10)
You might be asking, “What does this “Conflict of the Ages” have to do with the Rapture?”
In the next installments we will examine the Rapture in greater detail, and then trace the future events of the world to their ultimate conclusion. This “conflict of the ages” will end in “the fullness of times” when God’s eternal plan is entirely fulfilled.
- The Rapture of “the body of Christ” to heaven marks a significant point in the outworking of God’s plan to undo Satan’s usurpation and reign in the heavens.
- The Rapture immediately precedes and starts the outworking of God’s plan to undo Satan’s usurpation and reign in the earth, through a believing