The Bible says God will soon crush Satan. What does this mean? It means Satan’s freedom has an expiration date. God has appointed a time to destroy the devil. That time is approaching fast. It will come sooner than Satan desires. But for the rest of us, God’s perspective of soon can be baffling.
Look at His promise below. Obviously, His concept of soon and our concept of soon are definitely different!
The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. May the grace of our Lord Jesus be with you.Romans 16:20
Soon is certainly a matter of perspective. It has been nearly two thousand years since Paul said those words. Similarly, as part of his explanation for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost, Peter said it was a sign that they had entered the last days:
But this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel: ‘And it shall come to pass in the last days, says God, that I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh…’Acts 2:16-17
Those last days have lasted nearly two thousand years, too. What’s with God’s calendar and clock? Does He have a calendar or clock? Yes, He does. But God moves excruciatingly slow by our standards.
Yet, let’s put God’s “slow” ways into perspective.
What The Soon Of Romans 16:20 Means
God told us through Paul in the first century that He’d soon crush Satan under our feet. Of course, in a very limited sense Satan is crushed under our feet when we experience certain spiritual victories. But the context of God’s statement speaks of a final crushing.
We know He is speaking of Satan’s final crushing under our feet because He points to a future event, and not the present reality of our being seated with Christ in heaven.
Despite our present position in Christ, which as mysteriously glorious as it is, all one has to do is to look around and see that Satan being crushed under our feet must include something far greater than what we presently experience.
Romans 16:20 speaks of a future promise and not a present reality.
How Long Do We Really Wait On God to Fulfill His Promises?
In approximately 700 B.C., God promised us in Isaiah 9:6-7 that the eternal Son would be born in the flesh and establish His physical kingdom. Seven hundred years later, the first part of the prophecy was fulfilled through Mary.
But we’ve been waiting two thousand years for God to fulfill the second half of the prophecy with His second coming.
Or have we?
We often say something similar to “We’ve been waiting two thousand years for the Lord to return.” This gives the impression of someone sitting on a stoop for a couple of thousand years waiting on the Lord. But the truth is no one has waited for God beyond his own life span.
If we turn to Christ in our youth, and we live a long life, we wait for God several decades. If we live a short life after we come to Christ, we live the remainder of that life waiting on the Lord, whether that’s ten minutes or ten years. What’s my point?
It’s that our wait is relative and equal to the length of time we serve the Lord. It is not the total time from when the promise was first uttered because we were not alive at that time.
The Fallacy of Thinking We Wait On God Longer Than We Do
The problem with speaking as though “we” have waited for 2,000 years for Christ to return is it distorts the length of “our” wait and makes it perceptually longer. We vicariously assume a wait we have not endured, and subsequently exhibit signs of mental exhaustion.
It is like running thirty feet of a full 26.2-mile marathon race and mimicking the exhaustion of someone who has run the entire course.
Similarly, Christians who vicariously assume they have waited on God for 2,000 years, and who subsequently exhibit extreme fatigue at the mention of the coming of the Lord, must remind themselves that they “personally” have waited on God for a relatively short time. Maybe a decade or two or three. Maybe more. But far less than 2,000 years.
The Soon Crushing of Satan is Coming…Soon
No, I’m not playing word games with you.
If we apply my above rationale to the soon of Romans 16:20, we must admit that we personally have not waited long for God’s soon. Ten minutes of excruciating pain may be hell on earth, but it is still only ten minutes. The pain makes the time seem much longer.
The pain of this world makes our perceived wait time seem much longer than our absolute wait time. But there are other dynamics of waiting for God that negatively affect our perception of absolute time.
God usually speaks of future events with these things in mind.
First, His life span, which has no beginning or end. He’s not bound by a clock, calendar, or temporary life span. His eternal essence is a built-in obstacle to us understanding His timing.
Second, His plans regarding us are eternal. Therefore, His communications to us are of events that conflict with our short-term thinking and worldview.
Third, God works through process and time. Things that we assume God would do sooner (by our clocks) because of His ability, He instead works within a context that may take years, decades, centuries, or millennia. He has the time.
Fourth, we have extraordinarily short life spans. Thus, we naturally interpret God’s promises within the context of 70 years or so, and that’s on a good day. For we are also greatly influenced by our temperament, emotions, present condition, and pain tolerance level. These things further diminish our ability to see as God sees, and to understand time as He does.
Basically, what all this is saying is God plays chess and we play checkers. Our perspective of time is short-sighted, simplistic, and greatly polluted by the limitations of our humanity.
The promise of Romans 16:20, therefore, seems to us to be long overdue. But the more we understand how God sees the world, and how God uses process and time to fulfill His eternal plan, the more we understand that Satan will be crushed under our feet…
(My book, The Coming Kingdom of God: A Reference Guide to the Second Coming of Christ, goes into great detail about this crushing of Satan and the coming of the Lord’s kingdom.)
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