Marionettes for Evil

Card tricks for the child: I once knew a man who was good at card tricks. He shuffled a deck of playing cards dexterously. When a child my favorite trick for him to do was for him to guess the one card I had picked from the deck and then returned to the deck of cards. Not only could he pick the card I had chosen, but he could apparently knock it through the table and it would appear on the floor below. He’d retrieve the card and then ask me with a smile, “Is this your card?” and of course, it would be the card I had chosen.

“How did you do it?” I would ask.

“Easy,” he said. “Magic.”

An example from ministry: When I was a young pastor at a rural church, one time my wife and I did a puppet show for the children. It was “old school,” as some folks might say today. We had hand puppet characters with defined personalities and we presented a storyline, a narrative with a message from Scripture, in hopes of gripping and educating the children. We presented the gospel message of man’s sin, God’s righteous judgment, Christ’s atoning work, and redemption for believers. Simple and to the point.

I am a much older man now and have learned a fair share about ministry, about human nature, about good and evil, about angels and demons, about Judas Iscariot who revealed who he truly was, and about puppeteers and marionettes. Those characters my wife and I had on our hands were being controlled by us, and we brought a certain narrative to the hearers in our little church. We presented the gospel message of Christianity.

And the world system is a show, too. And there is certainly no lack of puppets. Why? Because there is no paucity of puppeteers. I would go so far as to say there is at root one throughly evil puppeteer pulling strings that cause many of the marionettes to move, to talk, to smile, to shake hands, to slap each other on the back, to smile again, and then to disappear behind the curtain again until . . . wait for it . . . the next act. He wants to be like the Most High. He loves not the truth but only himself. But he knows, and we should remember, that even Satan is a creature: he is not the Most High God. And he hates that reality.

Hamlet as a connection: I am a voracious reader and this week I read again possibly the greatest of plays. Marcellus spoke unvarnished truth in his line, “Something is rotten in the state of Denmark” (1.4.90). And I love Horatio’s response to Marcellus: “Heaven will direct it” (1.4.91).

There is, in my view, a warfare being played out. There are marionettes and puppeteers. There are invisible hands playing out a narrative. And those puppeteers have souls–some souls of light and some souls of darkness. And if you observe carefully, you can see behind the curtain. And you might be surprised to see that puppeteering can actually be a way to entertain the gullible into slavery, into treachery, into places where there is gnashing of teeth.

I cling to Horatio’s belief that “Heaven will direct it.” Why? Because unless God redeems this puppet show, what you may find behind the curtain are not angels of light, but the damned angel of light who camouflages himself as an angel of light and sulfuric minions dancing masses unto damnation.

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