The Story of Patriarchs and Prophets
by Ellen G. White
Chapter 29: Satan's Enmity Against the Law
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The very first effort of Satan to overthrow God's law—undertaken
among the sinless inhabitants of heaven—seemed for a
time to be crowned with success. A vast number of the angels
were seduced; but Satan's apparent triumph resulted in defeat
and loss, separation from God, and banishment from heaven.
When the conflict was renewed upon the earth, Satan again
won a seeming advantage. By transgression, man became his
captive, and man's kingdom also was betrayed into the hands of the
archrebel. Now the way seemed open for Satan to establish an
independent kingdom, and to defy the authority of God and His
Son. But the plan of salvation made it possible for man again to
be brought into harmony with God, and to render obedience
to His law, and for both man and the earth to be finally
redeemed from the power of the wicked one.
Again Satan was defeated, and again he restored to deception,
in the hope of converting his defeat into a victory. To stir up
rebellion in the fallen race, he now represented God as unjust
in having permitted man to transgress His law. "Why," said
the artful tempter, "when God knew what would be the result,
did He permit man to be placed on trial, to sin, and bring in
misery and death?" And the children of Adam, forgetful of the
long-suffering mercy that had granted man another trial, regardless
of the amazing, the awful sacrifice which his rebellion had
cost the King of heaven, gave ear to the tempter, and murmured
against the only Being who could save them from the destructive
power of Satan.
There are thousands today echoing the same rebellious
complaint against God. They do not see that to deprive man of the
freedom of choice would be to rob him of his prerogative as an
intelligent being, and make him a mere automaton. It is not
God's purpose to coerce the will. Man was created a free moral [p. 332] agent. Like the inhabitants of all other worlds, he must be
subjected to the test of obedience; but he is never brought into such
a position that yielding to evil becomes a matter of necessity. No
temptation or trial is permitted to come to him which he is unable
to resist. God made such ample provision that man need never
have been defeated in the conflict with Satan.
As men increased upon the earth, almost the whole world
joined the ranks of rebellion. Once more Satan seemed to have
gained the victory. But omnipotent power again cut short the
working of iniquity, and the earth was cleansed by the Flood from
its moral pollution.
Says the prophet, "When Thy judgments are in the earth, the
inhabitants of the world will learn righteousness. Let favor be
showed to the wicked, yet will he not learn righteousness, . . .
and will not behold the majesty of Jehovah." Isaiah 26:9, 10.
Thus it was after the Flood. Released from His judgments, the
inhabitants of the earth again rebelled against the Lord. Twice
God's covenant and His statutes had been rejected by the world.
Both the people before the Flood and the descendants of Noah
cast off the divine authority. Then God entered into covenant
with Abraham, and took to Himself a people to become the
depositaries of His law. To seduce and destroy this people, Satan
began at once to lay his snares. The children of Jacob were
tempted to contract marriages with the heathen and to worship
their idols. But Joseph was faithful to God, and his fidelity was
a constant testimony to the true faith. It was to quench this light
that Satan worked through the envy of Joseph's brothers to
cause him to be sold as a slave in a heathen land. God overruled
events, however, so that the knowledge of Himself should be
given to the people of Egypt. Both in the house of Potiphar and
in the prison Joseph received an education and training that,
with the fear of God, prepared him for his high position as prime
minister of the nation. From the palace of the Pharaohs his
influence was felt throughout the land, and the knowledge of
God spread far and wide. The Israelites in Egypt also became
prosperous and wealthy, and such as were true to God exerted
a widespread influence. The idolatrous priests were filled with
alarm as they saw the new religion finding favor. Inspired by
Satan with his own enmity toward the God of heaven, they set
themselves to quench the light. To the priests was committed [p. 333] the education of the heir to the throne, and it was this spirit of
determined opposition to God and zeal for idolatry that molded
the character of the future monarch, and led to cruelty and
oppression toward the Hebrews.
During the forty years after the flight of Moses from Egypt,
idolatry seemed to have conquered. Year by year the hopes of
the Israelites grew fainter. Both king and people exulted in
their power, and mocked the God of Israel. This grew until it
culminated in the Pharaoh who was confronted by Moses. When
the Hebrew leader came before the king with a message from
"Jehovah, God of Israel," it was not ignorance of the true God,
but defiance of His power, that prompted the answer, "Who
is Jehovah, that I should obey His voice? . . . I know not
Jehovah." From first to last, Pharaoh's opposition to the divine
command was not the result of ignorance, but of hatred and
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