"A Lengthened Leash"
"And the devil, taking Him up into an high mountain, showed unto Him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time. And the devil said unto Him, All this power will I give thee, and the glory of them: for that is delivered unto me; and to whomsoever I will I give it. If Thou therefore wilt worship me, all shall be Thine" (Luke 5:4-6).
In His response to the devil's temptation, the Lord Jesus Christ did not counter Satan's claim to the kingdoms of the world existing as his domain. The kingdoms of the world have been "delivered" to the devil - temporarily - for God's good and ultimate purposes of installing His King, the Lord Jesus, upon the throne of the world that rightly belongs to Him. "He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto Him the throne of His father David: and He shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of His kingdom there shall be no end" (Luke 1:32-33). In order to redeem the world and those inhabitants who look to Him in faith, the Lord in His wisdom grants the devil much latitude as "the god of this world" (II Corinthians 4:4). Satan and his minions remain on God's leash, of course. They can only do what He allows them to do, as in the case of Job (Job 1:12). However, the leash sometimes seems quite long as our enemy foists his designs upon a world that "lieth in wickedness" (I John 5:19).
Why would God work in such a seemingly mysterious way? How does a lengthened devilish leash, as it were, fit in the Lord's purposes of redemption? Several answers present themselves in the pages of Scripture. For our present consideration, let us focus on one that seems quite obvious. Namely, a world in which the devil has much sway is a world in which God's trusting children in Christ cannot become too comfortable. We rather journey through this lifetime as "strangers and pilgrims" (Hebrews 11:3). As the old hymn proclaims, "This world is not my home". Without a devil plying his nefarious trade, wreaking havoc in countless ways of harm, we might forget this vital aspect of truth and reality. Our flesh was born of the world's substance, and is strongly tempted to seek rest where no rest actually exists. Having enemies helps us to recognize the fleeting nature of a world that "passeth away" (I John 2:17 ). Without the devil, the world, and the flesh, none of us would realize the dire necessity of avoiding the planting of our stakes too deeply on shifting and doomed sand.
Whenever we feel disturbed by the conditions and circumstances of "the kingdoms of the world" - or our own small domain - let us remember the one who for the moment finds much freedom in doing his dastardly deeds. Indeed, we should expect the world to be the world because the devil is the devil. However, let us far more remember the One who for His own good purposes, grants latitude to His enemy. By and by, the leash shall be drawn in, and the beast destroyed. "And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night forever and ever" (Revelation 20:10). Until then, we remember the Master who lengthens the leash because He knows He can fit the beast's barking and even his biting into purposes of eternal glory. In our case, we learn and remember that we do not presently live at home. It's a good lesson, and one that must frequently be refreshed in our hearts and minds.
"I have given them Thy word; and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. I pray not that Thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that Thou shouldest keep them from the evil. They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world"
Weekly Memory Verse
As for God, His way is perfect.
(II Samuel 22:31)