LORD OF THE FLIES?
Thank you, Father, for your love and for your unlimited favor. Thank you for your power that holds me fast, protects me from evil, and is at work in and through me.
Read LUKE 11:14-28
Jesus and Beelzebul
14 Jesus was driving out a demon that was mute. When the demon left, the man who had been mute spoke, and the crowd was amazed. 15 But some of them said, “By Beelzebul, the prince of demons, he is driving out demons.” 16 Others tested him by asking for a sign from heaven.
17 Jesus knew their thoughts and said to them: “Any kingdom divided against itself will be ruined, and a house divided against itself will fall. 18 If Satan is divided against himself, how can his kingdom stand? I say this because you claim that I drive out demons by Beelzebul. 19 Now if I drive out demons by Beelzebul, by whom do your followers drive them out? So then, they will be your judges. 20 But if I drive out demons by the finger of God, then the kingdom of God has come upon you.
21 “When a strong man, fully armed, guards his own house, his possessions are safe. 22 But when someone stronger attacks and overpowers him, he takes away the armor in which the man trusted and divides up his plunder.
23 “Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters.
24 “When an impure spirit comes out of a person, it goes through arid places seeking rest and does not find it. Then it says, ‘I will return to the house I left.’ 25 When it arrives, it finds the house swept clean and put in order. 26 Then it goes and takes seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there. And the final condition of that person is worse than the first.”
27 As Jesus was saying these things, a woman in the crowd called out, “Blessed is the mother who gave you birth and nursed you.”
28 He replied, “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it.”
New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
‘I bind unto myself today / the power of God to hold and lead, / his eye to watch, his might to stay, / his ear to hearken to my need.’1
First-century Judaism was intrigued with angelic and demonic beings. Beelzebub, ‘Lord of the Flies’, was an old and deliberately insulting misspelling of Beelzebul, ‘Lord Prince,’ the full title of the Canaanite god Baal.2 By Jesus’ time, these titles were used for the ruler of the demonic world rather than Satan, which is not a real title but simply means ‘adversary.’ Jesus had healed the mute man by the very ‘finger of God’ (v 20), a sign that the kingdom of God was present in Jesus, foreshadowing the ultimate defeat of the adversary and the coming of light and wholeness. However, lurking in the crowd were powerful people, Jesus’ adversaries. Under the influence of the ultimate adversary, they committed the ultimate sin. They declared good to be evil, that Jesus’ powers were satanic. Jesus responded that if he were aligned with Satan, exorcising a demon would be mutiny. The strong man’s fortress, Satan’s fortress, falls only when attacked by an even stronger force. In the exorcism, two kingdoms clashed. The stronger kingdom, God’s kingdom, has defeated the kingdom of the evil one.
We are part of this battle and there can be no neutrality. Even the expulsion of evil by the finger of God is not enough! Even if God has healed, cleansed, or forgiven us, we still must act to replace what God has taken away with whatever is good and godly. A young Christian man I know well was taken over by the evil of drug addiction. He put himself through a Christian rehabilitation program and all seemed to be going well when he slipped back into a dark place. Now he is in an even worse state than he was before. If we have been delivered from evil, we must fill that void with the life of God’s kingdom, lest evil fill it again.
When dark powers assail us, may the Lord of the spiritual realm deliver us by the finger of God and enable us to fill all our emptiness with the kingdom.
Lord Jesus, you died to set me free, you rose from the dead, and now live to intercede for me. Fill me with your Spirit to overflowing.
1 Patrick, c389–461, tr CF Alexander 2 2 Kings 1:2,3; historically complex: van der Toon et al, Dictionary of Deities and Demons, EJ Brill, 1995
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