The Overthrow of Satan

September 26th, 2010

Whether or not the Seventy actually returned to Jesus before the Feast of Tabernacles, it is convenient to consider in this connection the result of their Mission. It had filled them with the ‘joy’ of assurance; nay, the result had exceeded their expectations, just as their faith had gone beyond the mere letter unto the spirit of His Words. As they reported it to Him, even the demons had been subject to them through His Name. In this they had exceeded the letter of Christ’s commission; but as they made experiment of it, their faith had grown, and they had applied His command to ‘heal the sick’ to the worst of all sufferers, those grievously vexed by demons. And, as always, their faith was not disappointed. Nor could it be otherwise. The great contest had been long decided; it only remained for the faith of the Church to gather the fruits of that victory. The Prince of Light and Life had vanquished the Prince of Darkness and Death. The Prince of this world must be cast out. {St. John 12:31.} In spirit, Christ gazed on ‘Satan fallen as lightning from heaven.’ As one has aptly paraphrased it: ‘While you cast out his subjects, I saw the prince himself fall.’ It has been asked, whether the words of Christ referred to any particular event, such as His Victory in the Temptation. But any such limitation would imply grievous misunderstanding of the whole. So to speak, the fall of Satan is to the bottomless pit; ever going on to the final triumph of Christ. As the Lord beholds him, he is fallen from heaven — from the seat of power and of worship; for, his mastery is broken by the Stronger than he. And he is fallen like lightning, in its rapidity, dazzling splendor, and destructiveness. {Revelation 12:7-12.} Yet as we perceive it, it is only demons cast out in His Name. For still is this fight and sight continued, and to all ages of the present dispensation. Each time the faith of the Church casts out demons — whether as formerly, or as they presently vex men, whether in the lighter combat about possession of the body, or in the sorer fight about possession of the soul — as Christ beholds it, it is ever Satan fallen. For, he sees of the travail of His soul, and is satisfied.

Alfred Edersheim The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah

The work of the Holy Spirit in the life of Christ, including equipping Him for that work, has received considerable attention from Reformed, perhaps particularly from Puritan, theologians. It is a Biblically grounded and theologically significant topic that we would do well to remember and understand. Hugh Martin sets it out briefly:

Whatever therefore is now requisite or suitable in Him that shall be acknowledged as the last Adam, Head of the redeemed of God, First-born among many brethren, standing in the room and at the head of all, that the Holy Spirit shall now work gloriously by His grace in the Man that is Jehovah’s fellow, and redeemer of the sons of men. Far-reaching wisdom, and understanding, and insight into the Father’s eternal counsel with Himself the eternal Son (Isa. 11:2), shall now dwell in His human intellect. Sympathy profound with the Father’s electing love shall now beat true and tender in His human heart. Compassion for the countless perishing ones, and adoring desire for His Father’s glory in their salvation, shall now qualify Him to preach the gospel to the poor, to heal the broken hearted (Isa. 61:1; Luke 4:18). Patience unmurmuring; perseverance, in the face of hell’s floods of opposition; mercy, in the face of men’s malice and rejection of Him; longings for His cross, and agonies till His baptism of blood be accomplished (Luke 12:50); all these graces, and all others needed in His office, now publicly assumed and entered on, will the Holy Spirit of His baptism unfailingly, and unto the uttermost, operate in Jesus, the Head and Mediator of His Church.

(The Abiding Presence)

He covenants with the Israelites as their God and also as the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. This is the very substance of the covenant of grace on God’s part, embracing in itself the whole communication of God towards the perfecting and glorifying of sinful man. Hence he is set forth not only as the God of his people, but also as their Redeemer; as the merciful pardoner of sins; as a sanctifier, promising circumcision of the heart; as a faithful husband, having a marital care for his people; as a kind father, who begets sons, nourishes and cherishes them with paternal affection; as a gracious king, who placed his sanctuary in the midst of the people that he might dwell and walk with them, i.e., might hold communion with them, deeming them worthy of his gracious presence for direction in difficulties, protection in dangers, blessing in adversity and consolation in griefs.

Turretin, Institutes of Elenctic Theology XII.12,10

Less open to objection than all these offered solutions is the old view, according to which, reading the clause {Ehyer asher Ehyeh, Ex. 3.14} straight from beginning to end, it gives expression to the self-determination, the independence of God, that which, especially in soteric associations, we are accustomed to call His sovereignty. Considerable support this receives from the analogously-phrased sentence in Ex. 33.19, where the context seems to call rather for an affirmation of the sovereignty of God in bestowing the favour of vision of Himself than for an assurance to the effect that, promising to be gracious, He will be truly gracious. Thus taken, the name Jehovah signifies primarily that in all God does for His people, He is from-within-determined, not moved upon by outside influences.
But from this there issues immediately another thought, quite inseparable from it, viz., that being determined from within, and not subject to change within, He is not subject to change at all, particularly not subject to it in relation to His people. Thus understood, the name fits admirably into the situation of its revealing. Jehovah, the absolute God, acting with unfettered liberty, was the very God to help them in their unworthiness as regards themselves, and in their impotence as regards the Egyptians. That sovereignty underlies God’s giving Himself to Israel is stated in so many words: ‘I will take you to me for a people, and I will be to you a God, and ye shall know that I am Jehovah, your God’ [Ex. 6.7]. But the other element, that of faithfulness, is equally much emphasized from the beginning: ‘Jehovah, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, hath sent me unto you: this is my name for ever, and this my memorial unto all generations [Ex. 3.15]. ‘I have remembered my covenant. Wherefore say unto the children of Israel, I am Jehovah’ [Ex. 6.5, 6, 8]. In Ex. 33.19, where God gives a disclosure of His sovereignty to Moses, this is brought into connection with the name Jehovah. In the later Scriptures the second elements, that of faithfulness, is especially associated with the name [Deut.7.9; Isa. 26.4; Hos. 2.20; Mal. 3.6].

Geerhardus Vos, Biblical Theology