LIFTING THE VEIL OF EVIL THAT HIDES A LOVING GOD
CHAPTER ONE - ANNE
Six o’clock and I finally reached home after a long commute. I hated the commute, but it was the price I paid for a good-paying job. I was ready for the weekend, to relax and catch up on the things left undone at home. I unlocked an eerily quiet house. “So, where are they?” I fumed. They weren’t here, certainly, but beyond that there was no telling. It wasn’t easy keeping track of three teenage boys, ages 18, 16 and 13 particularly since I was raising them on my own with no help. Even when they were home, they were “semi-out of control.” I fed them, clothed them and loved them intensely, but they didn’t seem to respond to my care or my love. I especially worried about my middle son, Kevin, who “they” had labeled as a “special needs”. He spent his life trying to be like his brothers. I spent my life working, worrying and waiting for the dreaded phone call reporting some disaster. John, my oldest, had already been in trouble with the law – not much, but enough to worry me. I knew the two oldest experimented with drugs. I was just waiting to hear that my youngest was involved too. He was a good student, but I didn’t think that would spare him. I felt as though stuck in a great pit with no way out.
The silence was broken by the ticking of the clock, an inheritance from my Mom. How I hated the ticking of that clock. Sometimes, I wanted time to speed up so that my sons’ perilous teenage years would be over. But the ticking reminded me of the shortness of my own life. I tried not to think about the real meaning of the ticking—measuring my life away in noisy little segments. The house was so dreadfully quiet, the ticking ominously loud, like some scene in a horror movie where the victim is about to be.....
I tried calling Shawn, my oldest son’s best friend. He was unfailingly kind to all the boys, even Kevin. Though I didn’t approve of everything he did or said, I hoped they were all with Shawn. No answer. Where were they? They were supposed to call and keep me posted. I whined about it often enough -- but they phoned mainly when they needed something.
What should I do to quench the nagging fear? Maybe there was something mindless on television I could watch to escape my reality. No luck—too early. The news was still on. Slaughter was on the news. Again. Scenes of carnage with a bluntness designed to create outrage and cut through a viewer’s sense of unreality. You could almost hear the flies buzzing over the heads of the lifeless victims piled in front of the fire scarred humble structure. I imagined the death stench, the smell of road kill, only this time it was human, and quickly changed the channel in disgust. The NBC anchor promised reports on drug abuse and the deplorable condition of American families. I could relate to that, but it wasn’t exactly news to me. This hour’s programming seemed dedicated to tragedy in one form or another, hardly what I was seeking.
Real escape was what I needed. What to do? I searched the refrigerator for some food. I wasn’t really hungry. I just wanted to feel better. “Nope, I’m not going to eat because I’m getting fat and I don’t need another problem to add to the collection,” I said to myself. I went down the escape list. I didn’t have any liquor in the house because of the boys. I had lost my taste for the nonsense of bars, so that was out. I had sworn off drugs before the boys were born and I wasn’t going back to that empty ‘problem solver’. Sleep. I headed for the bedroom to try and sleep. It really had been a long and humiliating day at work. Maybe I would take just one over the counter sleeping pill. I swallowed the pill and hoped that sleep would come quickly. Maybe at least one of the boys would be back by the time I woke up.
As I put my head on the pillow, the TV scenes on television whirled through my mind. I began to rail against a God that would allow devastation, hunger, murder, disobedience to a loving parent—every form of evil—- to be daily fare. He had even allowed my boys to be fatherless, but I had to admit that it was actually better to be without “good ‘ole abusive Dad.” Childhood stories depicted God as love. I had long ago decided that was a fantasy. High school teachers and college professors had set me straight. So had life. God was a cruel joke. Philosophers and scientists had proclaimed Him dead. Yet I had no one else to blame for all the trouble—mine and the world’s. “Too bad God doesn’t exist,” I said out loud. “God, if you are there, I don’t like you. Defend Yourself,” I screamed. “And, uh,” I nearly sobbed, “Help me! I need some help.”
As I slowly relaxed, the lines memorized in childhood came to mind, “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want...” Then I remembered the pile of bodies.
“Disgusting,” I raged. “But then I thought perhaps God wasn’t the monster I believed Him to be. Maybe I had misunderstood something important. But it was a ridiculous thought anyway. There was no way that an all-powerful, good God could allow such a terrible state of affairs in the world. God couldn’t exist. Or, if He did, maybe He was terribly evil. Being afloat in a universe ruled by mere chance was an unsatisfying alternative. What was it that pastor had said a long, long time ago? I couldn’t remember exactly. Free will or something like that. But how that fit into the reality I was experiencing I certainly couldn’t tell. Eventually what I had sought for happened—a troubled sleep took over. I hated this life. Most of all I hated God – if He existed.
My mind swirled from one inane theme to another. I dozed and woke up periodically, seeking again the delicious release of sleep.
The longed for sleep was suddenly broken by a strange, blazing light that surrounded me. I felt as though I was floating. I tried to look, but the intense light blinded me. What a weird dream! I willed myself to wake up, but I couldn’t. I was still floating and the light was still there. What if this was not a dream. Maybe I was going crazy. I started to sweat. What was the meaning of this? I wanted to scream, but couldn’t. Despite my fear, my eyes began to adjust somewhat to the light. I smelled a sweet fragrance in the air. Birds were singing happily. My vision improved and I was on my feet. Wow! Flowers everywhere. I thought that if dead people go somewhere, this might be the place——Heaven? Hell? Maybe I had died. It couldn’t be Hell. This place was actually very, very pleasant and peaceful. Then I panicked—my sons! I began to worry about them. I had no business being in Walhalla, or wherever this was, while the boys needed me. I had to find a way to get home!
I started walking frantically looking for help until I realized there was someone next to me. Who was it? Maybe he or she could help me. This was stupid. I was like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz. I could barely see a person’s outline through a bright, thick haze surrounding him or her. A melodious deep voice said, “Don’t be afraid. Your children are in a safe place. They are well.”
“What!” I exploded. “You know my children?”
“Of course I know your children.” He continued, “God respects your concerns about life – about good and evil and He wants to answer your questions.” He smiled. “Would you like those questions answered?” He paused, waiting for an answer. Then he said, “At the end of our journey of understanding you will comprehend why God allows evil in the world. Your new knowledge will help you understand your own situation. Would you like to come on this journey with me?”
I stared at him trying to see through the haze of light obscuring my vision. He looked safe enough. “Is this really happening?” I blurted out, “Or is it just a dream?” I paused. “You said my kids are ok? ”
“They are with Jason Dee, working on the car he just bought,” said the glowing man.
“Nasty kids,” I thought, “showing how tough they are by not calling me. Again.” I actually wanted to cry, but it didn’t seem appropriate in this beautiful place.”
“How do you know Jason?” I asked.
“I know Jason, your boys and you. I heard you praying a short while ago. I know about your thoughts regarding God.”
I froze. He heard my irreverent talk about God? “It wasn’t much of a prayer. I mean, uhhh, actually I was a little angry with God. But I didn’t mean it. Really, I’m sorry!” I hoped the man, who seemed more than a man, believed me.
“Don’t be afraid.” He smiled and paused, and then slowly repeated his invitation, “Would you like the answers to your questions?”
“Of course!” I blurted out.
“Good,” said my new friend.
“There is indeed a reason for all the misery on earth.”
I started recovering my senses, trying to put the last few minutes into a logical order. God must exist, I thought to myself. I felt humbled, embarrassed and still somewhat frightened, though my friend told me not to be afraid. God had been listening to all my complaints but apparently He didn’t hate me for them. “So I am in Heaven?” I finally said.
“Yes. Have your eyes adjusted completely to the light?” asked my companion.
“I can see you perfectly well now.” I paused. He was a pleasure to behold. Just what I thought an angel would look like. “Are you an an angel?”
“Yes. A servant and a son of God, he said.
“What’s your name, anyway?” I asked.
“In your language “He who is beloved of God”. But that’s very long. Call me Amor-el. Since you studied French in high school, we can make it French sounding, and a lot shorter.”
I thought to myself, “He knows I studied French in high school?” I started to grow hot. He knows everything about me. “Well, he seems to have a sense of humor,” I thought. His eyes are kind and his voice gentle. I liked the twinkle in his eye. Amor-el. Amazing! It fits him. I stared at him. He looked very familiar but I knew I had never seen him before. Well, if God’s servant was so appealing maybe I didn’t need to be afraid of God either. Or maybe it was all an evil trick. But I had no other option than to go forward on this journey with my companion because I wanted to find out what he knew.
“I guess you know my name already,” I said.
“Yes, Anne, I do,” he said, “Are you feeling more settled?”
“I guess so,” I answered.
“Let’s go for a walk.” We headed down a path. In the distance were a group of people looking very intently at one of the group who was talking. I had never seen such strikingly handsome people before. They seemed to glow. We walked by the most beautiful houses. But they were made of vines and other growing plants. There were flowers intertwined in the walls and everywhere there was a delicate scent of perfume. The beautiful people greeted us as we walked along. They seemed to know who I was and I sensed that they genuinely liked me. There were animals and birds of every description. A man was playing tag with a giant cat of some kind. Others were resting close to grazing animals.
“Are you at peace, Anne?”
“Yes,” I said. “Nothing here gets hurt. This is absolutely awesome. No one is afraid. No one is hurried or angry. The animals and birds are even friendly. There is a different inner law here in this place. Everyone and everything thing loves. I’m astounded. I am humiliated that I have been so wrong, but yes, I’m at peace.”
“Good. You have grasped what you’ve seen splendidly well. Now I’m going to take you back in time and show you the only thing that mars the happiness of our existence – the very beginning of our problem. Without this revelation you cannot understand what is happening on earth.”
“Our problem. Huh,” I thought. “He doesn’t live in our earthly Hell.”
“Wait,” I said. “This just doesn’t seem fair. You’ve brought me to this place that is absolutely, I mean absolutely, glorious. If it wasn’t for my kids, I would just stay here forever. But many of the smartest people on earth don’t even believe that such a place exists or that God exists. How can God just go on not telling anyone the Truth? It really doesn’t seem fair.”
“I understand,” Amor-el said. “You will comprehend shortly. But God has given you ample evidence of His existence. He made your world. Have you ever known anything to come of itself without a creator?”
“I guess automatic, self-creation doesn’t make sense. God must exist,” I said. “So the real issue is not whether God exists, but what is He like.”
“Indeed. That was our dilemma too,” smiled Amor-el.
“Indeed,” I thought to myself.
“For this reason God has revealed Himself to men in a remarkable way,” Amor-el said.
“He has not!” I said. I caught myself. I used to not believe in Heaven, either. Maybe I should back off a little bit. Sheepishly, I said, “You mean the Bible? I used to think the Bible was true, but there are so many contradictions and things that just don’t make sense, that I just can’t believe it.” I stopped, “Should I believe the Bible?”
“You’ll have time to make up your mind as we journey on. No one can force you to believe. You must believe or not believe based on the weight of evidence,” said Amor-el.
“I’m going to be deeply humiliated on this trip,” I thought, “But better to be humiliated then dead wrong. The truth is that I actually wanted to be wrong in my understanding of God.” Hope sprang up in my heart. Perhaps I was soon going to find out the truth about evil and God.
“I’m ready to go on, though I don’t like the thought of a problem here in this beautiful place. I’m ready to try to understand.”
CHAPTER TWO – LUCIFER AND CONFUSION
Our journey began to the left of us. Amor-el encouraged me to ask any questions that I wanted to ask.
“Anne, look over there and you will find the beginning of the answer to all your questions. You will see Michael the Prince, and Lucifer.”
“As a kid, my Sunday School teacher told us that Lucifer is an evil angel. He doesn’t look evil.” I paused to think. “So, I think I know who Lucifer is, but who is Michael?” I said.
“Our Prince Michael was one with God the Father from eternity,” said Amor-el. “He is without beginning and without end. He created everything that was ever created. ”
“How do you know?” I asked.
“Because He said so,” Amor-el chuckled. “No angel observed the very first creation. But we’ve seen many other creations since then. Earthlings are understandably an unbelieving, skeptical people. But we have no reason to doubt Prince Michael’s word.”
I took a good look at Michael and then at Lucifer.
“And Lucifer is the same Lucifer that I read about in the Bible as a kid. Right?” I asked.
“Indeed. His name signifies that he bears ‘light’ or the knowledge of God to others. He is a created being - one that bore a great deal of responsibility in God’s kingdom,” explained Amor-el.
“Amor-el means ‘beloved of God’, Lucifer means ‘light bearer’. What does Michael mean?” I asked.
“Michael means, ‘Who is like God’,” said Amor-el. “Michael refers to Himself as ‘The Son of God’, signifying His relationship to God.
“But how can Michael be the ‘Son’ of God, if He is God? Is He a son or God?”
Amor-el replied with reverence, “Though He is God, ‘Son’ refers to the form that He has taken for the benefit of created beings. Love does whatever is best for the person one loves. Because God is magnificent and grand, Michael told us that They saw that creatures needed a Being who resembles them. One, who is not surrounded by the power that emanates from The Father’s very Being. We, the created, need a Being to communicate God’s love in ways that we can understand. The Son resembled the other ‘sons’ of God. In humility He became like us.”
“Oh,” I said. “You know that’s really a kind, loving thing to do.” I hoped it was true. So I had to ask Amor-el. “But wouldn’t it be better if The Father also became more like His created beings so that we could relate easily to both of them?”
“You might think so. But in the presence of the Father is a place where infinite love is ‘felt’ and combined with infinite ‘power.’ When I am in His presence I have the sense of security knowing that both power and love are in my Father. Anne, God makes no mistakes. In His loving providence, God knows that we need to understand both the power of the Father and the humility of God manifested in the Son.
“Trinity is an idea that we on earth struggle with. But, I can see that it really demonstrates the love and character of God who is so humble that He conforms Himself to meet our needs.”
“You are beginning to learn,” said Amor-el.
“What about the Holy Spirit?” I asked.
“The blessed Holy Spirit is what ties each of His creatures directly to God. We didn’t even understand fully the blessedness of the Holy Spirit until the great rebellion began. But we will talk more about that later,” answered Amor-el.
During our conversation, I was also watching the two bright figures as they spoke to each other. My eyes had to adjust again to see them distinctly, but I clearly heard their voices. I searched my mind trying to remember everything I had heard on earth about the Son of God and Lucifer. It was incredible that they really existed. I tried to make a quick reassessment of all my past assumptions, but there wasn’t time. I concentrated on the voices so I wouldn’t miss anything.
“The Father and I have laid plans for a new world. It will be a new type of creation; a totally new order of beings. As usual, the angelic host will take part in this creation. Our new brothers will have all the capabilities of the other worlds, but with some differences,” said Michael.
“Differences?” said Lucifer. “My Lord Michael, the angelic host will be delighted! But, what kind of differences?”
Prince Michael responded, “They will have the ability to reproduce, giving birth to other beings, who they will care for and nurture as they grow. Thus they will form units called families, with a mother and father. The mother will give birth while the father supportsthe mother and children. The parents will raise their little ones who will be born with an inheritance from both parents but with almost no innate knowledge. This will teach them lessons of love and devotion.”
A beautiful smile came over Lucifer’s face. “How interesting. How lovely. How absolutely novel.”
“Not only will the humans be able to reproduce, but so will other forms of life in this world we are creating. The world is designed as a continual learning experience. Their intellect will develop day by day, consequently they will grow continually— eternally. As they form families and bear children they will learn to appreciate God more and more, understanding by their own experience the Creator’s love for His creation. Our human relatives will be sustained by eating the fruit of trees. Eating will remind them of their dependence on God. Humans will eat from one type of tree; animals will ingest other forms of vegetation. For labor and study they will work tending a garden for six days and then in harmony with the universal law they will rest on the seventh day - enjoying special time for contemplation and communion with Us and each other. These are all vital to help them grow in our relationship.”
When their conversation ended I saw Lucifer bow low and then rise up and embrace Michael. But it was more than an embrace. It was an intense exchange of affirmation and love between the two. Lucifer left and went to speak to a group of angels. Michael entered into a magnificent building where Amor-el told me The Father was physically present. A magnificent light shone out from the building. I had never seen, nor could I have imagined a space such as this. There were no exterior walls, only pillars supporting the structure above. It was an expansive building, but from what I could see it looked intimate. Peace and love seemed to hover in the vicinity. I saw a great number of angels there, going in and out - all engaged in some activity.
“Can we go in there?” I asked.
“You cannot enter in your present condition,” said Amor-el. “The presence of God would overwhelm your human nature. You could not survive. But someday you will be able to enter.”
I was stunned. “Then why did you bring me here? What is Prince Michael doing in there?” I asked.
“Michael and His Father are in deep communication. No one can hear the words they speak to one another,” said Amor-el. “They tell us that there are some things that even angels cannot understand.”
I frowned at the thought of secrecy. “Only the Two of them talking together? Don’t you ever wonder what They say?” I asked with a sneer.
Amor-el smiled, “No. Angels are grateful for the privilege of life, for daily joys and work to do for others. We trust God because we are convinced that They always act in our best interests. Michael and our Father would never lie to us or harm us in any way. No, we do not wonder what they are talking about.” He paused, “Not anymore. But there was a time when even inhabitants of Heaven were confused about the true meaning of ‘love’ and God’s character; about the uncompromising, absolute necessity of order. In your world, this order is represented by The Ten Commandments. And we were confused about how God could exercise mercy and still maintain order. ”
“Wow! Confusion. The same as humans!” I said. I was slowly losing my skepticism and had trouble maintaining my usual disbelief in the light of Amor-el’s ardor and transparency.
“Well, never exactly the same as humans,” said Amor-el. Loyal angels have experienced the rebellion from a different perspective. We have never transgressed God’s law, never personally experienced lawlessness or the need for mercy. But humans have the actual experience in your very being.”
“So you doubted God’s character and what He was saying to you about Himself,” I asked.
“Yes. I remained loyal,” said Amor-el, “but I, and all the loyal angels wondered if there was some truth to what Lucifer was saying about God. But only after we observed the events at the murder of Prince Michael on earth did we completely understand the answers to our questions.”
“Murder of Prince Michael? On earth? Am I supposed to know something about this,” I asked.
“You know Him as Jesus.” He said.
“Oh,” I said. “Of course.” Then I paused. “Well, I can see why the understanding of angels and humans could never be ‘exactly’ the same. You beings in Heaven—angels—I guess you are all angels, aren’t you? I’m sorry. I’m still trying to piece all this together,” I breathed out. “Anyway, you understand the earth’s entire history while we humans are very confused about some basic issues. You obviously see things differently than we do. And then the peace and security that you experience in Heaven is so different from the way we live on Earth.”
“Peace and security,” sighed Amor-el. “All creation has come to delight in peace and security. Something we didn’t even know that we had until we observed what happened on earth.”
“Had? What? Some kind of turmoil in Heaven,” I asked, astounded.
“Yes, Heaven is peaceful now, but Heaven has known turmoil and anguish. It is actually the place where the horror you experience on Earth began.”
“Oh, come on now! How could this peaceful, beautiful place be the beginning of our horror on earth?” I asked. “I haven’t seen anything remotely approaching horrible!”
“Let’s look back into history again,” said Amor-el.
CHAPTER 3 – THE REBELLION
“This is how it started- this horror. Please observe and listen carefully,” cautioned Amor-el.
“But I haven’t seen anything here remotely like horror,” I whispered to Amor-el.
“No need to whisper. Ask anything you like, boldly,” he replied. “What you see and hear will be confusing initially because circumstances don’t appear as they are. Lucifer will make accusations that seem logical. So listen closely.”
I looked and saw Lucifer and several angels speaking together.
Lucifer beamed a glorious smile. He was strikingly good-looking and I felt immediately drawn to him. It was hard not to feel positive toward someone so physically appealing. I kept trying to remind myself to be suspicious, realizing who he really was. He spoke, “Recently, our Prince Michael revealed to me the plans for a new creation on a planet called Earth. At first I accepted the event with joy but I have been analyzing the basic attributes of this new race of people and I have some important questions to ask you. I want to get your opinion on my thoughts.”
“Of course, as always, we want to hear what you have to say,” said one of the angels.
“Let’s walk over to the river and sit under the trees. Then we’ll talk,” said Lucifer. “What I’m going to say is very serious, unusually insightful and it may be a little unsettling. Lovingly I tell you that I only have everyone’s benefit in mind.”
Shortly they reached the river.
“Well, what is it? I’m curious,” said one of the angels. “You look the same as when you are trying to gain understanding for one of our challenging projects. What is it?”
Lucifer smiled a winsome smile. He said solemnly looking intently at the other angels, “Have you ever considered that God should give His creatures total freedom? Not only should angels have total freedom, I feel that this new race should have total freedom and liberty.”
“Total Freedom? Whatever do you mean?” asked an angel. “We are at total liberty. The humans, too, will be at total liberty. Lucifer, I’m not understanding something.”
“Freedom, ah, liberty,” intoned Lucifer majestically. “What beautiful words. This freedom, this liberty is precisely what I wanted to talk to you about. Consider this. When God creates, He implants in every creature His Spirit. He puts into them His very thoughts by this means. You know how we all live. You understand the intimate connection between each being and God. We constantly express our gratitude to God by serving His creation and putting others above ourselves; God’s ubiquitous Spirit rules every aspect of our very lives. But I must express this thought for the good of all creation, for the very stability of Heaven and even for the good of God. If His creatures are unhappy, dissatisfied in some way, it will only create instability in Heaven. God should listen very closely to us.”
There was silence – a painful silence. I began to understand what Amor-el had cautioned me about. It seemed that Lucifer was pitting himself against God.
Lucifer then continued, “Let’s be very reasonable. We act the way we do because we have no other choice. We are created to do exactly as God directs us.” He stopped again, letting his words sink in. This time, there was a shocked look on the face of every angel.
“I understand your emotion,” said Lucifer. “I also felt this way, when I first realized God’s design might not be perfect,” Lucifer said and then continued, “But at some point we must understand that a creature becomes so elevated, so refined, so educated into the goodness and greatness of God, that that very goodness lies within us. At such a point of elevation, do we really need God to direct us continually?”
The stunned look continued on the angels’ faces. Finally one said, “But I want to carry out these desires of God. And I want to do all His will.”
“God’s wishes are always good and perfect,” another angel said. “I just don’t understand.”
“Of course,” said Lucifer, “we want to do these good things. And why? Because we, ourselves, by ourselves, are perfect and good. We need no further direction from anything outside of ourselves. Suppose someone decided it would be best not to follow God’s Spirit?”
“Now, Lucifer, how can that be?” said an angel with a puzzled look on his face.
“Listen and I will tell you,” Lucifer countered. “Listen. Why must we always give to others? Does God Himself do that?”
“Of course He does,” several angels spoke out.
Lucifer smiled. “Just think about it. We serve Him constantly. We do whatever He wishes,” said Lucifer.
“Why shouldn’t we? We want to do His wishes. Besides what would we want to do other than give?” said a dark haired angel. “Giving makes me happy. What other choice do we have? Not to give and do for each other?”
“Oh, giving is marvelous—the way it should be! But you raise the all important issue. The issue of choice,” said Lucifer. “Of course. That is exactly the question! What other choice is there?” said Lucifer.
“Whatever are you talking about Lucifer?” an angel asked.
Lucifer paused for a moment. “Here is the choice we can have. I envision a universe where it is first to ourselves and then to others. From our abundance—we give—and we give abundantly, overflowing, even more graciously than the way that God instructs us to give. We do it because it is right and good, a decision we make on our own. If we put ourselves first, as God Himself does, our growth would be significantly improved—expanded, like God Himself. If God continually directs us, what choice is there? None. Are we not sufficiently able to make choices about what is proper? About what is beneficial?”
“This is quite a unique thought,” said an angel. “Your analysis is foundational. I never thought about it. You have opened my understanding about this primary issue. Go on Lucifer. I feel that such a shift would not ever be against God’s will, but it would elevate us to an even higher level. We would be even closer to God – a parallel experience.”
“I don’t see how it can be. Suppose a choice is counter to God’s will?” said another.
“It is a possibility,” said Lucifer. Certainly remote, but what of it? Angels know right from wrong by their very nature, by their training and by communication with one another. We would never hurt one another. However, God, is so lofty and exalted, can He understand us or our needs and desires?”
“I must interrupt! How can you question God?” asked another. “He has given us everything. Life itself! What are you saying? Of course we live by God’s Spirit. It is my desire to be one with Him continually. God cannot be ‘not right’.”
“Notice, Anne, that we did not then have a word for ‘wrong’,” said Amor-el.
“Hear me, my dear brothers,” said Lucifer. “I don’t propose to change any major way of living. We need to love one another. We need to serve each other. We need to give to each other. But what is wrong in loving ourselves first, just as God loves Himself first?”
“God loves Himself first? That would make Him a teller of—what would you call it? A teller of ‘not truth’—because He has put it into our minds to love others first, not ourselves first. That love to others must be from Him.”
“Of course,” said Lucifer, “It fits into His plan nicely. When we put others first, we, of necessity, put Him first. It suits Him quite well. Everything is done for Him. Everyone obeys Him without even considering that in everything that we do, we are putting God first and putting ourselves under his control.”
“Lucifer, I love you as a brother,” said another angel, “but I think you are not thinking clearly. God does not teach us to do one thing and then does another Himself. That would not be just. We obey Him because He knows what is best for us and because He always does what is just and true and right.”
Lucifer’s handsome face grew pensive. “How can God know what is best for us? We are angels and He is God. Can He feel what we feel? Does He understand our situation?” asked Lucifer.
Another angel retorted, “Of course He understands our feelings. He understands everything. He is God. And He loves us entirely. Totally. So we love Him the same way. Think of all He has given us! We should obey Him, if only out of gratitude, seeing that everything we have comes from Him.”
“Everything? That’s exactly what I mean. Yes, everything we have comes from God but He hasn’t given us everything,” said Lucifer. “Listen to me, dear brothers while I explain. If God, the Son took on the form such as we have and that He has now, in order to communicate more effectively with us, or so the Son has told us, then why can’t God give an angel the power to become even more like God? He creates through us but why doesn’t He share with us more of his Godly powers? Why am I, Lucifer, excluded from the conversations between the Father and Michael? Angels are quite capable of accepting this responsibility. Especially those that have dwelt in close communion with God for eons and eons.” There was silence among the group. Lucifer continued with a beautiful, handsome smile on his face, “Isn’t God selfishly withholding what He could easily give? Isn’t He putting Himself first?”
“Hmmm,” murmured one angel, “I am beginning to see your point.”
“I also understand your thinking, Lucifer. But I cannot agree. God has bestowed great honor upon you. You have the privilege of being often in His presence. Why aren’t you content with what you have? Why have you left His presence, your post of duty, to come and speak to us against God?”
Another angel objected. “Are you asking for power equal to God? God’s ultimate power is not yours to have! No one can or should ever be equal to God. There is no reason for it. We are all honored by God. We have the privilege of being in His presence. We are all content. We have the privilege of serving God and others. Are we unhappy? No. Do we lack anything? No. I see your reasoning as somehow, somehow….. I don’t even have the word for it – not giving God honor. It could lead to events that would change our happy condition. We have never had anything but total agreement in Heaven.”
Lucifer’s face brightened, “Brilliantly said! No one has ever disagreed with God. How do you know I shouldn’t disagree with God? That we shouldn’t disagree with God? And how do you know I can’t reach a level closer to God? God can do anything. He can bestow this honor on me. And on you too! If only God weren’t thinking just of Himself.”
Again, there was a stunned silence. Lucifer stood up once more.
“Oh, listen,” said Lucifer, “I’m not talking about somehow replacing God or giving Him less honor but I am talking about getting the honor due to the superb angelic host.” Lucifer motioned to those around him, “Nothing would change except that we would all be more glorious—more exalted. This is not just for me. God would ultimately share with us His position and His power with all of us, but He could retain His exalted position.”
“For what purpose would God do that? For what reason would God make such a change? Would you be closer to God than Michael himself?” asked an angel.
“God says that Michael is also God. Listen again as I repeat myself,” Lucifer said. “If God became the Archangel in form, then why can’t an angel become like God? Either Michael is not really God or God does not want to share His position with us because He wants it only for Himself – and Michael. He wants to order everything to His liking. Just exactly what He is telling us not to do.”
“Look at this new creation. The earth creation,” continued Lucifer. “They will be encumbered with God’s Holy Spirit, mindlessly following God’s every whim, just as all the rest of creation does. They will not be allowed to think apart from God’s will. I desire freedom for them.”
The dark-haired angel spoke up again, “If anyone other than Lucifer were saying these things I would question it. Lucifer, you have had the privilege of knowing God intimately. You are the one who stands with Michael in the presence of God.” He paused, “Can it be? Is God really requiring of us, something that He, Himself does not perform?”
There was silence. Finally an angel spoke up solemnly, “We must speak to Prince Michael Himself about these things. God’s Spirit within me objects to such thoughts – I feel in such a way as I have never felt before.”
Lucifer smiled. “Indeed, it is not unpleasant. It is the feeling of freedom.” Lucifer’s face darkened. Darkness was something I had never seen before in my brief sojourn in Heaven. “Think for yourself, without depending on God. He knows what we are talking about already,” said Lucifer. “God knows everything. He has not interrupted us, everything continues as it always has—the mountains are still standing; the heavenly bodes are still in their orbits, we are still alive—everything is intact— so He must know that I am correct. It is just a matter of time until He accedes to my – no our - wishes. If all the angels agree, He will give us what we want even more quickly. Perhaps immediately. Please understand, I am not asking for God’s place. That is His and His alone. But I want to be acknowledged by God for the powers of insight and goodness that I have and the ones that I have developed through my own diligence and work – are not my own achievements created by my efforts, equal to what God initially gave me? With one hand God gives, but then He puts a limit on what we can accomplish. That is not right, good or equal.”
“No. The Holy Spirit within me, does not agree with you. I will not join with you,” said an angel.
Said another angel “I must speak personally to Lord Michael about this. I have never experienced this emotion before but it feels very, very—it feels very, uh, uh—I don’t have a word for it. Not right, yes, not right.”
“I have the same feeling,” said another.
An angel standing in the back of the group spoke out, “Well, I have the ‘feeling’, but I think Lucifer is right!”
Lucifer beamed, “I am right. Stay with me. Don’t let your feelings hinder you – these very feelings are instilled by God. You’ll soon get over your incorrect feelings and certainly don’t allow yourself to be overpowered by God’s Spirit. Use your own intellect. It will not and cannot lead you incorrectly. For the rest of you, go ahead and speak to Michael about these just concerns. But remember if you agree with Michael, remember also that His advice is tainted, that He has the desire to keep power over you. We must speak to Him instead about our impending improvement. We must put together a plan. Let us speak frequently to each other. We must be united in our efforts. I have already spoken to many of the other leading angels about this matter. Michael will surely see to it that we meet with Him shortly.”
“Lucifer, I had a thought. God could just replace us if we rise up against His will,” said an angel.
“God would never do such a thing. He loves us,” said another.
“Does He? Or does He only love us only while we obey Him?” said Lucifer. “Michael has already warned me that if I continue in this path it will lead to my annihilation, my extinction.”
The angels all cried one thing or another. I couldn’t understand what they were saying. For the first time, I experienced bedlam in Heaven. I was taken aback.
Lucifer waved them to silence and then spoke, “But I have thought this through. I am even willing to risk my own death for the freedom of all of you,” said Lucifer. “What good is this life to me, or to any of us, without absolute freedom?”
There was a murmur among the angels. “But that will not be,” said Lucifer. “We need only be united. God will give us what is right. I have that much faith in Him. He is not totally without honor. ”
“Lucifer, if God said that your line of thinking will lead to your extinction, why don’t you believe Him and stop? Do you think that God should allow you to live forever in opposition to Him?” said another angel.
“Well said. Do you see that He is unfair. If anyone opposes Him, there is a threat of extinction. I believe He is trying to make me do what my mind tells me is not right. He is exercising force against me,” said Lucifer.
“God would not do such a thing. Do you believe that God is telling you something that is not true?” asked another angel.
I couldn’t help asking my angel what was on my mind, ‘You know, what Lucifer is saying makes sense. Is God really selfish? Does He really force angels into doing His will?”
“We weren’t sure,” said Amor-el. “Lucifer presented a reasonable argument. Michael met with us often and there were many, many discussions such as you have heard. Satan and his following contended that angels naturally do what is right because they were naturally endowed by God with the ability to understand and because of their superior intellectual abilities they could, through reason alone, decide what is just and good. Lucifer and his angels contended that they didn’t need the guidance of the Holy Spirit and felt that the Holy Spirit kept them in bondage to a lower level of existence that God had unfairly consigned them to. They further said that if angels discussed and agreed to something, whatever they decided would be good. God’s answer was that only He understood good and evil and the end of the path that Lucifer was taking leads to unhappiness and destruction. We really had no idea what evil was because we lived in a perfect environment where there was no death, no disease, no lack of anything. These were totally new concepts to us. We had to invent the words ‘rebellion’ and ‘disobedience’. We began to understand, as we had not before that God had a law, a principal by which we lived and that Lucifer was introducing an opposite principle, but, perhaps, a viable one. God’s principle is self-sacrificing love and Lucifer’s is self-centeredness. These are the only two possible principles in the universe and they are mutually exclusive – we came to learn that soon enough.”
“So I have another question,” I said. “At first, was God just trying to frighten Lucifer into obedience? It must have been a truly awful experience for you angels to believe that Lucifer would actually, really die. I don’t imagine you had any experience with death.”
“God does not use force in any way,” Amor-el said. “The use of force is contrary to all of God’s principles, but He persuades by speaking truth. This truth was frightening to the loyal angels. It was shocking to us that God would allow death to come to any of His beings because His law of self-sacrificing love was not adhered to. We truly did not understand how death, in any way, was in keeping with the character of God.” Amor-el continued, “These new ideas of Lucifer’s were totally shocking to us. All heaven was in turmoil. God pled with Lucifer to give up his rebellion. The Lord explained that for the good of the Universe He could never change His foundational order, His law. He asserted that if angels accepted the principle that they could determine what was right and wrong without the guidance of the Holy Spirit, they would soon leave the principle of self-sacrificing love. Self-sacrificing love—a manifestation of God’s very nature, is shared by His creation through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, but that we couldn’t even fully understand the depth of the principle. God told us that creatures didn’t have the ability to understand all things as God did and that the laws and strictures that creatures imposed on themselves was not a substitute for the indwelling of the Holy Spirit which tied all of God’s creation together in a bond of love. God furthermore warned Satan that great evil would result from his determination to rebel against His authority.”
Hmmm. Amor-el’s voice sounded funny. I looked up at him and saw tears in his eyes. “I didn’t know that angels could cry,” I stammered. “Oh! I didn’t mean to be rude and say that! It just slipped out.”
“Tears are not shameful,” said Amor-el. “Not to feel pity and love is shameful. Angels laugh and now we have learned to cry. We have emotions, deep emotions, just like humans, only more so because we have the Holy Spirit living within us in His fullness. We have no need to hide our emotions as humans do,” he continued. “It is difficult to speak of the rebellion even now,” he paused. “Anne, to the same measure that we love, we feel the pain. I know it is hard for you to understand but angels are in more emotional agony than humans even though humans suffer physical pain and emotional abuse and we do not. We have lost 1/3 of our brothers because they followed Lucifer,” Amor-el’s voice quavered. “And we see many more being lost on earth.”
I couldn’t believe that I was starting to feel sorry for Amor-el. He lived in security and I did not, but I began to comprehend his hurt and agony over this huge problem of sin.
Amor-el started speaking again, “Those of us who continued to be loyal to God were still confused. We loved our angel brethren. But we accepted their banishment from Heaven after the murder of Prince Michael. Until the murder there was a haze over our understanding. Until the murder, we wondered if Lucifer might be right, though we continued to live in harmony with God. What God said to us sounded correct, but Lucifer’s accusations made God seem like what you earthlings call a ‘tyrant’. Many of us determined to trust God based on our previous experiences with Him. We did not rebel, but we were confused.”
“You know,” I mused, “I’m thinking about Lucifer and his demands. My children do that to me all the time. They ask for something absurd and then blame me for not giving them what they reasonably know they shouldn’t have. They try to make me feel guilty.”
“Yes, we wondered if the trouble was because God would not give Lucifer what he wanted or if the problem was with Lucifer,” said Amor-el.
“Well, why didn’t God just kill Lucifer?” I asked. Then I realized the implications for the surviving angels who would remember Lucifer. “He could have killed you all and started all over again and programmed the new creation without the ability to rebel,” I felt somewhat ashamed of the thought, justifying it, I said, “Think of all the suffering Lucifer has caused. And he even contaminated the loyal angels. I would have killed him a long time ago. I’d like to kill him right now if he really is the cause of all the problems and suffering on earth.”
Amor-el began to answer, but I motioned to let him know I had a more urgent question. He had said that I could ask anything I wanted to. “Now something doesn’t quite make sense here. Why would a perfect, all-knowing God even create someone who would end up rebelling against Him. I heard Lucifer’s arguments, but after experiencing this place for a while I knew he wasn’t lacking anything. Why would he rebel? I don’t get it, though I am ashamed to admit that his arguments kind of resonated with me.”
“That is a puzzling question, isn’t it,” Amor-el responded. “Rebellion against God is truly a mystery. If there were an explanation—some overriding reason for it —there might be an excuse. And yet it happened. In answer to your first question, God ordained that creatures have the ability to make choices because it is the nature of His love. Without choice there can be no true love. But tell me, why are your children rebelling against you?” He paused for a moment. “And why did you rebel against your parents?”
I blushed as I considered my past. “I’ve, I guess, I’ve given that a lot of thought to that lately because the boys remind me of myself as a teenager. Something you seem to know all about already.” I smiled. For a moment I considered the implications of my companion knowing all about my entire history, and the smile left my face, but I continued, “Well, I think it’s just autonomy—the desire to be one’s own boss. I think it is a fear of being denied some pleasure or experience that others are having or appear to be having. I think in large part it is because we feel that we can discern what it good or bad for ourselves and that we can easily change course if the consequences become too difficult. I know my parents suffered a lot because of me and I understand them better now that I’m dealing with my own children. I actually wouldn’t have a problem with the boys taking greater charge of their lives if they were mature enough to make wise decisions and handle their own affairs. But they’re not. So we get into a lot of disagreements.”
“A very similar situation,” said Amor-el. “Autonomy, growing out of Lucifer’s self-centeredness is his goal. The loyal angels have a difficult time understanding this overriding desire for autonomy. God met Lucifer’s every need—a perfect environment, the ability to plan creatively and carry out his plans, companionship—everything. But as horrible as this experience with sin has been, we thank God for making us in such a way that we can rebel. Even though it has been tremendously painful for God, the principle of choice was so precious to Him that He made us with that ability. Without choice there is no true love. In this, God has given us a most glorious gift. God created men and angels in His own image—with the power of choice.”
“Before I answer your other question...” said Amor-el
“Which was? I can’t remember anymore,” I said.
“Why did God create Lucifer and the rebellious angels knowing they would cause disaster?” said Amor-el.
“Oh. Now I remember,” I said.
“First answer my question,” said Amor-el. “I know that you understood before deciding to have children that they create problems. Why did you then decide to give birth to children?”
I paused and did some thinking. “I was looking forward to loving my children and having them love me. I wanted a special relationship with them. I trusted that they would respond to my love eventually.” I stopped talking for a few moments. “O.K., I get it. God as love, needed an object for His love, but He loved enough to give us all free will – even Lucifer. I really do understand. It just took me a while to think it through.” I paused, but why didn’t God erase Lucifer after He saw that he was a rebel and would just cause a lot of problems?”
“Had God eliminated Lucifer,’ said the angel, ‘the angels would have believed that Lucifer was telling the truth about God. We would have thought that God just whimsically kills His opponents and that God was selfish as Lucifer had pictured Him to us. We would have continued to serve God, but only from fear—a manner of life that is totally unacceptable to God —and to us. No, God had a much better way - a painful, but perfect way. He allows rebellion to extinguish itself. You will understand the extinguishment more fully as we continue.”
“To extinguish itself?” I thought for a moment, then said, “Oh, on earth! I think it is beginning to make more sense. When our first parents sided with Lucifer we rejected God’s Spirit, just as Lucifer had, and were left to ourselves—without the Holy Spirit--to choose right from wrong. We were in the same spiritual mode as Lucifer. Isn’t that what Lucifer promised ‘Ye shall be as gods knowing good and evil’—autonomy. I get it!”
We were silent for a moment, I finally had to continue. “I’m getting it intellectually, but,” now I feel like cosmic road kill—a helpless victim of some huge spiritual battle that I had no part in beginning. It doesn’t seem fair. Don’t you realize how much the people on earth have suffered because of this? Haven’t you seen the carnage, the fear, the horror? Does God hate us so much because our first parents were rebellious that He allowed us to be used as pawns in this cosmic argument?”
Amor-el winced and then said, “God does not hate you. God is love. Had God a selfish nature as Lucifer imputed to Him, He would have done just that. But God is unselfish, lavish love.”
Amor-el continued, “I think I understand how you feel about being in the middle of this controversy,” said Amor-el, “but if God hadn’t allowed rebellion to continue, you would not be alive. Amor-el paused, “Anne, rise above your selfish nature. I, for one, would be grateful for the privilege to be loyal to God in the enemy’s territory and exonerate His holy name. There was no other way to create the permanent and necessary loyalty to God other than allowing the freedom of choice and a full revelation of God’s character through an understanding of the pain that rebellion creates. Remember, God did not leave you alone in this controversy. He is not sitting in a detached way while you suffer. He joins in with you every day. All heaven is involved in this controversy and He gave you the greatest gift possible. He sent His special messenger – Prince Michael. He is Immanuel – God with us. With you. Since the inception of sin God has suffered tremendously. God lost many beloved children. He has been rejected and scorned. His name is used as a word for cursing rather than blessing by many on earth. By others His name is spoken out of fear rather than love. He has been horribly misunderstood and His character maligned.”
“I never thought about that,” I said. “I know how excruciatingly painful it is to be rejected by ones own children. Somehow I never thought God had feelings.”
Another silence, while I absorbed what it must feel like for God to be rejected and maligned by those He loves. It was hard to think of God as being in pain, but then I remembered Jesus and what I knew about the pain that He experienced.
I switched my thoughts and finally said, “So, the Universe has been watching earth and our experiment with sin to see who is right in this controversy. Has the haze lifted? Do you understand it all now? Who is right? God or Lucifer? And how do you know?” I asked.
“Actually we do not call Lucifer by his original name anymore,” said Amor-el. “Instead of bearing light and knowledge about God as the name Lucifer signifies he became God’s opponent sowing distrust and lies about God. His name is now Satan which means ‘accuser’ or ‘adversary’.”
Amor-el continued, “That partly answers your question, doesn’t it? But let me answer your question more fully. Your world has unfolded the mystery of sin to us. As you have correctly understood, the Earth has been the focal point of our attention since the inception of Satan’s law of self-centeredness on your planet. The universe has watched closely to find out how selfish natures actually function—which gives us an insight as to who is correct in this controversy. But it was not until the cross that we fully understood the utter depravity of sin. But Anne, you need a rest. This is a very intense experience for you.”
I agreed that I needed a break. So we went for another little walk. The birds sang sweetly and there was perfume in the air. My, but I loved this place. But even more than the place, I loved the beings here.
CHAPTER 4 – PEOPLE GET INVOLVED
Amor-el and I rested in a fragrant hammock made of living vines. As we swayed the flowers in the vines gave out even more of their precious perfume. It was absolutely glorious. But despite the beauty, my mind was on fire with unanswered questions.
“I don’t get it,” I said. “Why did it take Jesus dying on the cross for you to be convinced? Couldn’t you see the pitfalls of self-centeredness right away?”
“Not right away,” said Amor-el. “There is an issue that on the one hand complicates matters, but on the other hand clears them up.”
“What do you mean?” I asked.
Amor-el explained, “You experience an environment on earth that is in sharp contrast to Heaven. There is no death in Heaven and no lack of anything. The stresses on humanity are great. But it was early understood in this controversy that only the experience of death and deprivation could settle the issues. Think of it this way. If the principle of self-sacrificing love is correct it has to be correct in every situation—easy or stressful.”
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