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The Scriptorium

To Restrain and to Permit

Jesus controls it all. Luke 8.30-33

Luke 8 Part 2 (2)

Pray Psalm 119.49, 50.
Remember the word to Your servant,
Upon which You have caused me to hope.
This is my comfort in my affliction,
For Your word has given me life.

Sing Psalm 119.49, 50.
Wycliff: All for Jesus)
Lord, remember all the good Word You have spoken unto me!
For I ever hope in You, Lord as I serve You joyfully.

This my comfort in affliction, this my comfort in all strife:
that Your Word is my redemption, giving me eternal life!

Read Luke 8.1-33; meditate on verses 30-33.

1. What did the demons fear?

2. What did they request?

Here we see the power of Jesus’ Word to restrain and to permit. We know that Jesus upholds the cosmos and everything in it by His powerful Word (Heb. 1.3). He does this by commanding the cosmos to do what He wills. For example, in Psalm 147.15 we read that the entire earth obeys His command as His Word runs swiftly over it. What’s true for the earth is true for the rest of the cosmos: It does what Jesus commands, because all created things are His servants (Ps. 119.89-91).

In addition to ruling by command, the Word of God rules by restraint and permission. He restrains the wicked from doing the worst they could imagine. We see this in our text. Jesus is about to restrain the demons from further oppressing this poor man. He keeps them from doing the worst they could do.

But He also exercises His powerful Word in a permissive manner. We see this in the exchanges between God and Satan in Job 1 and 2. And we see it here. I find the cringing, pleading, desperate appeals of the demons mewling and pathetic. All these years they bullied that poor man. How many times did he beg for relief? Plead for his torment to end? And yet they persisted.

And now, here they are, the “Legion” of them assembled before a penniless Prophet, begging not to be made miserable by being cast into the abyss. That will come soon enough, as we have seen. They beg to be sent into the pigs – just the right place for them, since pigs were unclean in Jesus’ day (at least, to this point in His ministry). By His Word of permission, Jesus allows the demons to do, not what pleases them – they did not ask to be sent into the pigs and then into the lake – but what pleases Him and glorifies His Name. And points forward to the day of His ultimate and final triumph over all the powers of wickedness.

Why is there so much evil in the world? Jesus permits it for His purposes and glory? Why is there not more evil in the world? Jesus restrains it according to His pleasure. What a powerful Word!

Treasures Old and New: Matthew 13.52; Psalm 119.162
Regardless of how many pigs constitute a herd, it was a bunch of pigs. And the number of demons powerful enough to send all those animals into the lake lived in one man. Legion-infested. That poor man. Bullied and tormented all those years.

And then Jesus entered the scene with hope for a new life, freedom, and relief! “I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly” (Jn. 10.10).

“Praise Him for His mighty acts; praise Him according to His excellent greatness!” (Ps. 150.2).

God has been longing to protect us from destructive forces from the very beginning. In the case of the plagues sent upon the Egyptians, the last one, death to all the firstborn, could also afflict the Israelites. However, it was avoided by their placing the blood of a lamb on the doorposts of their house; so that when “He sees the blood…the LORD will pass over the door and not allow the destroyer to come into your houses to strike you” (Ex. 12.23).

God’s desire is for His children to be free from the torment of evil and destruction.

God rules over all creation—the evil and the good. For His own purposes and glory.
“Who has ascended into heaven, or descended?
Who has gathered the wind in His fists?
Who has bound the waters in a garment?
Who has established all the ends of the earth?
What is His name, and what is His Son’s name,
If you know? (Prov. 30.3, 4).

Who rules over demons and pigs and death and life?
“And the God of peace will crush Satan under your feet shortly.
The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you” (Rom. 16.20).
“When the wicked spring up like grass, and when all the workers of iniquity flourish,
it is that they may be destroyed forever” (Ps. 92.7).

The destroyers are controlled by God. Regardless of what they may think. And they will one day be abyss- driven. But until then…He permits them.

In the midst of all the mayhem of pigs and demons we know:
“There is no one like God…
Who rides the heavens to help you,
And in His excellency on the clouds.
The eternal God is your refuge, and
Underneath are the everlasting arms;|
He will thrust out the enemy from before you…” (Deut. 33.26, 27).

“To Restrain and to Permit.”

For reflection
1. What kinds of things do you think Jesus will work to restrain in your life?

2. Why do we need to bear in mind that Jesus is sovereign in every aspect of our lives?

3. Do we need to fear the devil and his minions? Whom should we fear? Why?

Oh what a comfort it is to the believer, that all the powers of darkness are under the control of the Lord Jesus! Matthew Henry (1662-1714), Commentary on Luke 8.30-33

Pray Psalm 119.51-56.
Pray that God will encourage you by His Word today, to help you obey all His commandments, stand firm as His witness, and rest in the security of His love.

Sing Psalm 119.51-56.
Wycliff: All for Jesus)
Though the proud deride and taunt me, I will trust Your faithful Word.
Let Your judgments from of old be all my comfort, holy Lord.

Indignation grips me, Savior, for those who forsake Your Word.
All Your statutes, all Your favor, I will sing with joy, O Lord!

In the night Your Name attends me, and I keep Your holy Word;
let Your precepts all befriend me, as I keep them, glorious Lord.

T. M. and Susie Moore

You can download all the studies in our Luke series by clicking here.

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Except as indicated, all Scriptures are taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. For sources of all quotations, see the weekly PDF of this study. All psalms for singing are from The Ailbe Psalter (Williston: Waxed Tablet Publications, 2006), available by clicking here.

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in the Champlain Valley of Vermont.
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