While Jesus was on the earth, He told us that something very special was going to take place at the end of the age. If it is special, it is something that we should all take notice of. At Matthew 24:14, Jesus said this: "And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come."
This is a message to the earth from the Heavenly team; imagine that! And we are living at a time when it is vital to listen to that message, because we are near the end of this age. Since the word for "gospel" means good news, this is a message of good news.
If the message were to say, "Some of you are going to be tormented in hellfire, for ever and ever", that would not be good news for some. In fact, it would be bad news.
If the message were to say, "Some of you are going to have eternal death", that would not be good news for some. Once again, it would be bad news.
The only message that would be good news for everyone would be Universal Salvation, eternal life for all with freewill, and every facility that would make it perfect. In other words, perfection for everyone. That would be good news.
As far as Satan is concerned, the good news of Universal Salvation is the last thing that he wants to come out. At Revelation 12:9, it says of Satan: "…who deceives the whole world…" Satan is going to use every trick in the book to keep the whole world deceived. So his intentions can only be to hide the message of Universal Salvation. This is to be a huge operation worldwide. Satan will involve millions of people in deceiving others.
Matthew chapter 24:24 is just one of many scriptures which tell us how Satan will continue to deceive the whole world. It says there: "For false christs and false prophets will rise and show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect." That is no small task. Satan is going to have his own army of ministers worldwide, to hide the good news of Universal Salvation.
"But how is Satan going to hide God's message of Universal Salvation?"
How he has always done it: by deceit. One of the ways in which he will mislead people is to get his ministers to teach an incorrect message of Universal Salvation, similar to God's message of Universal Salvation, and throw everyone into confusion. Which is exactly what is happening at this present time.
"Are there not prophets upon the earth today?"
Yes, there are. False prophets. Let me say that again. "False Prophets", exactly as Jesus said there would be. False prophets are to be expected, in abundance. That is a sign to look out for. Do not miss it; do not be misled. Many are claiming to be prophets of God, when in actual fact, they are not.
"Oh, come on, now. Some of these prophets are healing and doing miracles."
Indeed, they are. Just as Jesus said they would, at Matthew 24:24, "…false prophets will rise and show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect." A tremendous operation by Satan. And these false prophets, with their signs and wonders, are going to increase. Their miracles are going to get harder for people not to believe. Satan will make sure of that; and for a while, the whole world will continue to be deceived. But not the elect.
However, a judgment is soon to come upon the earth. And before it takes place, God will send a real prophet, one authorised by Himself; one who will have the same authorised access to the same power that was available to Jesus. Before access to the power is allowed, this prophet will be tried and tested, and must be completely educated in the correct use of the power. For the first time ever, someone from the earth will have access to the same unlimited power to which Jesus had access. Which means that, as this age is shortly coming to its close, the prophet must be living on the earth today.
Amos 3:7 says: "Surely the Lord GOD does nothing Unless He reveals His secret to His servants the prophets."
That is the way God has always done things; He has always announced what is about to happen through prophets. God is orderly; He will not have different prophets speaking different things. But Satan will.
The difference between Satan's prophets and God's prophet, is that Satan's prophets will be limited, whereas God's prophet will not be limited. As has already been said, he will have the same authorised access to the same power that Jesus had. In fact, from God's Temple upon the earth, made up of the living elite, greater healings will take place than Jesus ever did. And the healings will not be hit and miss. Whatever God's prophet says, will happen every time.
As we are approaching the end of this age, accept no less than a prophet with unlimited power, who will be able to do anything whenever he wants to. Not just a few healings here and there; that is not good enough. There has to be a credible directional representative of God upon the earth, before the return of Jesus, for people to see, and follow.
But before the authorisation to access the unlimited power comes, the good news of Universal Salvation has to be preached for a witness to all the nations. Note that the good news is preached, at this time, only as a witness to all nations, not to convert them.
Satan, as he is completely under control, will fulfil all the end time prophecies. That is his job. You can count on him to stand between you and the truth. But do not forget one important thing: Satan has sacrificed his life, the same as Jesus has, to obtain Universal Salvation for all of us, including himself. What he is doing is his part in obtaining Universal Salvation.
"If Satan has really sacrificed his life for everyone, the same as Jesus has, tell us where it says that in the Bible."
Let me show you another of God's plans; this time, superimposed upon sacrifices. And at this stage, it would be good for everyone to read the whole of Leviticus chapter 16; the reason being, that in a short article, there is not room to quote and explain the whole chapter, but only parts of it.
Leviticus 16:5-10 tells us this: "5 And he shall take from the congregation of the children of Israel two kids of the goats as a sin offering, and one ram as a burnt offering. 6 Aaron shall offer the bull as a sin offering, which is for himself, and make atonement for himself and for his house. 7 He shall take the two goats and present them before the LORD at the door of the tabernacle of meeting. 8 Then Aaron shall cast lots for the two goats: one lot for the LORD and the other lot for the scapegoat. 9 And Aaron shall bring the goat on which the LORD's lot fell, and offer it as a sin offering. 10 But the goat on which the lot fell to be the scapegoat shall be presented alive before the LORD, to make atonement upon it, and to let it go as the scapegoat into the wilderness."
Leviticus 16:5: "And he shall take…two kids of the goats as a sin offering…" As in any animal sacrifice to God, all animals had to be without blemish. That was the law. So here, we have two goats without blemish, which were to be for a sin offering. A sin offering is an offering that covers our natural sinful condition, and also unintentional sin; that of sinning in error, including ignorance.
It is interesting to note that both goats are for a sin offering, even though only one is sacrificed by the High Priest; one is left alive. If one could do the job, why have two? In actual fact, no animal sacrifice could successfully take away sins. Hebrews 10:4 says: "For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and goats could take away sins."
The principle of the sacrifice was alright; it was the blood of animals that was not a sufficient price to take sin away.
In reality, the bottom line is that those literal animal sacrifices could never take people to perfection. The old Law was never designed to do that. It was only a shadow of the good things to come; as Hebrews 10:1 says: "For the law, having a shadow of the good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with these same sacrifices, which they offer continually year by year, make those who approach perfect."
What was necessary was a means that would not only atone for sin, but also that would remove it forever.
"So if the law was only a shadow of the good things to come, what were the good things to come?"
Hebrews 9: 11-12 tells us: 11 "But Christ came as High Priest of the good things to come, with the greater and more perfect tabernacle not made with hands, that is, not of this creation. 12 Not with the blood of goats and calves, but with His own blood He entered the Most Holy Place once for all, having obtain eternal redemption."
Jesus was the sacrifice which redeemed all of mankind on a perpetual basis, and opened the door to perfection.
The difference with Jesus' sacrifice was that it was so powerful that it not only justified the atoning of unintentional sin, it also justified the atoning of intentional sin, guaranteeing everyone a resurrection.
It could do that on the basis that sinning in error or ignorance on the part of the sinner, is due to not having the correct understanding to make the right decision. Remember, we are looking at a perfect law, which must take lack of understanding into account; not to speak of being deceived by Satan, who has been allowed to deceive the whole world.
However, eternal redemption is not the same as Universal Salvation. Eternal redemption gives God the right to resurrect all who are dead at any given time. Universal Salvation takes both man and spirit to a condition where they have never been before; and that is perfection, which means that Universal Salvation is over and above eternal redemption. That is why all those in the general resurrection, after being redeemed, will still be able to sin again. Unlike those in the first and earlier resurrection, who will not be able to sin again, because they have been raised incorruptible.
Leviticus 16:7-9 says: "7 He (Aaron) shall take the two goats and present them before the LORD (YHWH) at the door of the tabernacle of meeting. 8 Then Aaron shall cast lots for the two goats: one lot for the LORD and the other lot for the scapegoat. 9 And Aaron shall bring the goat on which the LORD's lot fell, and offer it as a sin offering."
This was the sin offering which, as a shadow, foretold of a better sacrifice: that of Jesus, who upon His resurrection, in the position of our High Priest, took His own perfect sacrifice through to the Most Holy, and presented it to God.
Casting lots was not left to chance, as God was the Person overseeing it. The Hebrew word for "cast" there, means to give. And the Hebrew word for "lots" basically means stones, which were at times used in casting lots. The implication, here, is that of God giving direction. On the earth, the High Priest did not know which goat had which destiny; therefore he literally cast lots. But in Heaven, looking beyond the shadow to the reality, God did not have to cast lots; He was able to personally give each goat his destiny.
Now, we have seen that one goat represented Jesus. But who was the other goat?
Well, at that time, in Heaven, there were only four people: God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit, and Lucifer (brightness). It was not God, because He was giving the destinies to the two goats, and Jesus was one. The Holy Spirit could not be the other goat, as His destiny was to oversee the power. That left only one other person on the scene who it could be: Lucifer. And remember, at that time he was unblemished too. So although there were, at that time, four unblemished people, only two were in a position to be superimposed over animal sacrifices: Jesus and Lucifer, and both were given their destinies by God. Lucifer, once he became Satan and blemished, would have to be utterly removed. But the fact that his life was going to be taken away from him, was a sacrifice on his part.
Leviticus 16:8 speaks of the second goat as the "scapegoat." The Hebrew word there is azazel, and it has been translated by some to mean an entire removal. That being so, the first goat was for Yahweh to atone for sin, and the second goat was for an entire removal. It is no good just covering sin, or being continually redeemed, only to keep sinning. What was necessary was a complete removal of sin, so that sin would be no more. And this is how a complete removal of sin was to be obtained.
To redeem everyone from death, only Jesus' sacrifice was necessary; it was legal, and it justified the right to resurrect all at any given time. But to remove sin altogether, the High Priest had to sacrifice the life of the second goat in a place of no return, taking with it all sin. This gave Jesus as High Priest the right not only to raise people from the dead, but also to take them to where no man or spirit had ever been before: perfection. Sin could never return, as it had been utterly removed.
Leviticus 16:10 says: "But the goat on which the lot fell to be the scapegoat shall be presented alive before the LORD, to make atonement upon it, and to let it go as the scapegoat into the wilderness."
Now the blood of the first goat not only justified eternal redemption, but it also justified universal reconciliation; which, also, is not the same as Universal Salvation. All people, in the first instance, at their resurrection will become reconciled to God, because they have been redeemed and atoned for. They will be in the same position that Adam and Eve were in to start with - sinless, but not perfect. Man has to be reconciled to God before perfection can take place. But at this stage, they will still be able to sin again (except, once again, those in the first resurrection) and, therefore, will be able to become unreconciled to God.
What is necessary for Universal Salvation, is for our High Priest to make sure that everyone can never sin again. This is where the second sacrifice comes into play. The first sacrifice covered all sin, including that of Satan and the demons; and was love in action, doing what was in the best interests of others. The second sacrifice was also love in action, because it too, did what was in the best interests of others. It allowed Jesus, as High Priest, to remove sin forever.
Atonement has already been made by the first goat. But while still alive, the second goat is presented before the LORD, to make atonement upon it. Some believe that means that atonement was made for azazel, and some translate it "to atone over."
"But why is that necessary, if the first sacrifice covers all sins?"
It is not necessary. Therefore the second sacrifice can not be to cover sins that have already been covered; it could only be for the right to remove sin altogether. The first goat was to atone for sin. The second goat was so that our High Priest, Jesus, could utterly remove it.
Notice what happens to the second goat when atonement has been made upon it. Leviticus 16:10 tells us: "…and to let it go as the scapegoat into the wilderness."
Leviticus 16:20-22 says this: 20 "And when he has made an end of atoning for the Holy Place, the tabernacle of meeting, and the altar, he shall bring the live goat. 21 Aaron shall lay both his hands on the head of the live goat, confess over it all the iniquities of the children of Israel, and all their transgressions, concerning all their sins, putting them on the head of the goat, and shall send it away into the wilderness by the hand of a suitable man. 22 The goat shall bear on itself all their iniquities to an uninhabited land; and he shall release the goat in the wilderness."
Can you see what the High Priest did?
He confessed over it all iniquities, all transgressions, and all sins, which, as Jesus, He had already atoned for. That takes into account everything that constitutes the breaking of God's law, whether unintentional or deliberate. And the goat is sent away into the wilderness. Remember that the second goat, azazel, was for an entire removal, and its cargo was sin. It was carrying away sin forever, to a place of no return.
Here is the point: once Satan had sinned, he would have to lose his life. And the fact that it was a sacrifice meant that it became a legal price, allowing Jesus to utterly remove him from the office of Satan forever, and at the same time, removing the possibility of God allowing sin ever again. In fact, it makes it legally impossible for God to allow sin ever again.
Satan's sacrifice signifies the impossibility of sin returning, ever. Sin started with Satan, and it finished with Satan. He sacrificed his life to show everyone the other side of the coin; and at his death in the lake of fire, the sacrifice of his life made sure that sin could never return.
Jesus paid the price to redeem him, not as Satan, but as God's sinless anointed cherub.
And the two sacrifices together meant Universal Salvation - Perfection for all.
Satan being entirely removed, and sin being entirely removed with him, makes Universal Salvation possible, which was God's plan from the very beginning. That is why we always use capitals for Universal Salvation, because God Himself is Universal Salvation; nothing less. When you are speaking of Universal Salvation, you are speaking of God.
Sin started with Satan, and will end with him when he is cast into the lake of fire, carrying away sin forever. Sin can never return from the lake of fire. Satan was a necessary evil, taken on by God's anointed cherub, who was only doing what he had been anointed to do in the first place. He was protecting God's interests.
"You are saying, then, that sin ends when Satan is cast into the lake of fire, carrying sin away with him, never to return again?"
"So what is the lake of fire? And can God really bring all the people in there, out again?"
Be sure to read next month's article, "Universal Salvation! The Lake of Fire Part One."