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Satan’s Ultimate Failure

by Julius Hovan

Hovans(Transcribed from the Words of Life Radio Program)

It is a delight to come to you by way of this radio broadcast and maybe you have just been flipping around on the dial, not knowing what you were looking for and in the providence of God you have been brought in contact with this station and with this program.  Now we hope you will stay tuned.  We will just give you 30 minutes of good singing and a message from the Word of God and we hope you will stay tuned.

I would like to speak to you this morning about Satan’s ultimate failure. God’s Word reveals to us many attempts by Satan to stymie God’s plan. He had planned, God had, to provide a Savior for sinners.  And, of course, the devil wanted no part of that. his failure at every turn is well documented in the holy Scriptures. He was not able to kill off the lineage of David as hard as he tried. He could not prevent the birth of Jesus. He could not have him killed. You will remember when that wicked king was having those babies born in Bethlehem slaughtered. He could not kill him then. He could not get him to fall into any of the temptations that he tried, those three severe temptations along with many, many others. Neither could he prevent the trip to Calvary, that old rugged cross where Jesus went as a sacrifice of the sins for the world.

But if you know anything about the devil, he does not give up.  You can read in the book of Revelation that he even makes one final attempt to lead a rebellion against the Lord Jesus Christ and it is very short lived, thankfully.  But his failure in all these previous attempts guarantees this great future victory by our risen Lord and those of his following.

What we are speaking of took place in the city Jerusalem. I suggest to you there is no other city in the world quite like the city of Jerusalem. God said in 1 King 8:29 he would put his name there.  It is in Jerusalem that the crucifixion took place. It was in Jerusalem where Jesus’ body, dead body was placed in a tomb. And it was in Jerusalem, that same tomb from which he arose victorious over the grave. It is a place of the faithful and the beginning of what we know as the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Think what it means to have no longer a Savior hanging on the cross, not in the tomb, but he has conquered the cross and the devil and the tomb and death itself.

We read in John 19 verse 41: In the place where Jesus was crucified there was a garden.

The garden tomb that I have had the privilege of visiting in the land of Israel, whether it is the exact tomb where Jesus was laid or not, we do not know. But it is very similar. And, interestingly, there is a garden there and also a very large cistern of collecting water, to be able to water the plants and trees in this beautiful garden.

And so we want to make just an attempt to show this morning about what Satan tried to do when he placed Jesus in the tomb.

First of all, he wanted to keep Jesus away from the cross. He led him to that high pinnacle. He took him and showed him the kingdoms of the world. He challenged him to throw himself down and on and on.

“If you will just worship me,” the devil said. “You can bypass that terrible experience at the cross.”

But it was not to be. Jesus came for that purpose and he came to fulfill it and would, indeed. He knew the plan of God. The devil was not able to take Jesus and remove him from that place we call the cruel cross of Calvary.

Well, then, what did he want to do after Jesus was dead? Oh, I am beginning to win, he might have thought. And so they put Jesus in the tomb. And listen to how Matthew describes that in the 27th chapter of the Matthew gospel beginning with verse 57 we read these words.  And when even was come there came a rich man from Arimathaea named Joseph who also himself was a disciple of Jesus. This man went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus.  And Pilate commanded it to be given up. And Joseph took the body and wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, laid it in his own new tomb which he had hewn out in the rock and he rolled a great stone to the door of the tomb and he departed.   And Mary Magdalene was there and the other Mary sitting over against the sepulcher. Now on the morrow, which is the day after the preparation, the chief priests and Pharisees were gathering together unto Pilate and they said, “Sir, you remember this deceiver—talking about Jesus—we remember what he said when he was alive that he said after three days he would rise again.”

Of course, they did not believe that could happen. “Command, therefore, that the sepulcher be made sure until the third day, lest happily his disciples come and steal him away and say unto the people, ‘He is risen from the dead.’ And then the last error will be worse than the first.”Pilate said unto them, “You have a guard. Go make it as sure as you can. ”So they went and made the sepulcher sure, sealing the stone, the guard being with them.

Let’s decipher this just a little bit this morning, as we look at what happened to our Lord Jesus. Here is the best possible effort to keep Jesus in the tomb.  Even the devil was sure that Jesus died. Many denied that he actually died and, thus, there is no resurrection either. But he did, indeed, die.  And his dead body was placed in this tomb. And if he could arise from that grave, the bite could be taken out of death, that last great enemy that is going to be destroyed, Jesus could win the victory over that. And we who are Christians, we believe that he did that and that he delivers us from the fear of death.

Remember the words of Jesus. “Because I live, you shall live also.”

There was a three fold security placed upon this tomb, the great stone rolled across the door of the tomb, generally done to protect the body lest someone steal it or steal some treasure from it or some wild animal might do damage to it and so there was usually something over the door to seal it.

But I think Satan’s purpose in seeing that stone there was simply whatever is inside, whoever is inside, cannot come out if we will put this huge stone over the door. In addition, the Roman government supplied soldiers. What security this was when they stand guard at the door of the tomb. They were known to never fail and if they did it was a costly price the soldier must pay, usually with his life.

And so we have the stone, we have the soldiers. And then we read that there was also a seal, a seal on the tomb door to keep people out and to keep in whomever it might be in that tomb. It had the authority of the Roman government, this seal that was upon it. And everybody knew better than to mess with that.

The stone, the soldiers, the seal.

Up to here we have a beautiful garden, we have a tomb, but if what we have just read from Matthew 27 is true, then we have a beautiful story. If it is not true, we just have a tragedy.

But there is much more. In spite of the best efforts—whether the stone, the soldiers or the seal—all of them failed.  Here is the attempt to keep Jesus from the cross. The devil couldn’t do it.  Here is the attempt to keep him in the tomb, he was not able to do that as well.

It is my understanding that in the city of Hanover, Germany there is buried a German countess. She daily denied the existence of God. She considered any religion or anything like that a ridiculous idea and certainly would deny resurrection. To show her contempt for the Christian faith, she ordered that on her grave there would be built a solid masonry cover. Large stones would be over the top of her grave. It would be held together by a group of iron clamps and engraved on the stone was her defiant challenge that her tomb would never be disturbed, her tomb would never be broken open as would be necessary in the future day of resurrection.

But, my friends, God has a real sense of humor. Either by the wind or possibly dropped by a bird, a seed from a tree blew against this great structure over this woman’s grave. It lodged in a little crevice right at the edge of this tomb. It had some water. It sprouted. It began to grow and it grew until it became large and nature marked this haughty infidel where this little tree extended its roots under those massive stones and raised them up from their place and the tomb was, indeed, opened.

This insignificant seedling accomplished what God himself was challenged by her to accomplish. Indeed, how wrong this Agnostic, Atheistic person was.

Jesus to the cross, death; in the tomb, sealed; and now the failure of the devil. Listen to Matthew 28, the first four verses, please. Now late on the sabbath day, as it had began to dawn toward the first day of the week, came Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to see the sepulcher. ‘ You remember in just a few verses above when Jesus was there on the cross and when they took him to the tomb these same women were standing by. These were part of those that helped take care of his physical needs.

And so as they are watching a great earthquake occurred. An angel of the Lord descended from heaven, came and rolled away the stone and sat upon it. Almost a little humor there from God as he sends this angel to sit. His appearance was as lightning, his raiment white as snow and for fear of him the watchers did quake, the soldiers, that is. And they became as dead men.  Here is the final victory. This angel has come. The power that was there to secure the stone had no resistance to the stone becoming unsettled and unsealed. The earthquake did its job. The angel moved the stone.


This happening was not to let Jesus get out, but to let the people in to witness the miracle of resurrection. Satan did his best regarding the Lord Jesus at every turn to keep Jesus in that tomb. But God, as he always does, did his best to get him out and he was successful.

The soldiers had a rather easy job until the angels showed up and the earthquake shook things up and certainly they were scared as a result of the we are told. All three securities were gone. The stone is unsettled, the seal is unsealed, and the soldiers are unnerved.

I don’t know if you have had the privilege of standing at the tomb of the unknown soldier in Washington, DC. It is one of the most emotional things you can see in the entire city of DC to stand and watch that guard move back and forth precisely, with a change of soldier every few minutes. They are there 24 hours a day.

I think of them and then I think of having viewed that myself and I think of Jesus in this sealed tomb in Jerusalem and how the effort was made that he would not be able to get out.

That is the Christian faith. The resurrection is a key. Listen to the continued reading in Matthew chapter 28.

And the angel answered and said unto the women, “Don’t be afraid. I know you are looking for Jesus who has been crucified. He is not here for he is risen just like he said. Come see the place where the Lord lay. And go then quickly and tell his disciples he is risen from the dead and, lo, he goes before you into Galilee and there shall you see him. See? I have told you.”

I have thought many times about the experiences of the Bible people that are Bible believers and heroes of the faith. They talk with an angel like Mary did when she got the news of the birth of Jesus through her.  These women there talking with an angel, hearing an angel speak to them.  And it would certainly be a miraculous event to be sure.

This event that the angel announces, he is not here, “He has risen”, is, indeed, a miracle event that has changed the very history of the world.

We are now into a new year, 2016.  Every time we write that date, we are signifying Anno Domino, the year of our Lord.  It has been 2016 plus years since Jesus was crucified. And every legal document, every check we sign, any paper of any importance will have that date on it, the year of our Lord 2016 now for us.

And so it is as we think of what happened, religions other than Christianity worship different geographical locations. They worship certain saints.  They might worship some leader who was the leader of their church. They go to the graves to worship. But the Christians worship a risen Lord. And to truly experience his presence and his power in our lives, removes all doubt. And we understand that three fold security has been broken and the reality of the resurrection of Jesus which opens the way for sinners to find a way of salvation.

At a battle many years ago, a soldier, severely wounded, was able to crawl into his tent. They found him there with his body slumped over, lying on his open Bible and his hand lying on the pages of that Bible, and the hand was glued to the page as his life’s blood had seeped out and covered the hand and then the page.

His hand was lifted and the letters on the page were traced upon the blood that had dried on his hand and there from the living Word of God, glued to the blood in his hand was a verse of Scripture and here it is. It said:

I am the resurrection and the life.  He that believes in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live. 

Obviously a Christian young man, what a difference it makes when we reach that valley to cross over into eternity if we have been believers and followers of the Lord Jesus. What a comfort that is to the ones who remain, those that need the comfort from losing a precious loved one.  What a relationship we have with this living Lord, what a miracle not only that he has risen from the dead, but he can take sinners, he can take the unbeliever, he can take the dirtiest of all and clean them up. What a Savior. What a hope.  Is it your hope? Have you confessed the Lord Jesus as your Lord and Savior and given your life to him?  Have you obeyed his command to be buried in that water of baptism, to be raised to a newness of life?

You may be assured that just as the devil did all he could do to prevent the coming of Jesus and to keep Jesus in the grave, he is doing everything he can to prevent you from accepting Jesus Christ.  But I am hoping this morning that you will recognize your need of this Savior, that you will be wiling to find someone who can help you, that you will begin reading the Word of God and be led to a close and better relationship with him and you will find someone that can lead you and help you make that final decision.

And we would point out in this passage of Scripture we have just read that the angel said, “You go tell about the risen Lord.”


That is what we as Christians must do. That is why we have Words of Life. It is our goal and our purpose, our call from God to take the good word of the gospel and to share it with those who will tune in on their radios.

And now, Christian, by word and by life, by work and by example, we are to tell others about a living Savior.   I hope that you are able to do that very thing.

Think about this as we close this broadcast this morning. If a 12 year old becomes a Christian and lives to be 80, he has many years to be able to live as a Christian and to live with the power of God in his life.  And if someone waits until they are 80 and then they accept the Lord, they have but a few years. How much better it is if we become Christians in our young years, if we become followers of the Lord, receive forgiveness and cleansing and hope and given power to overcome evil, to overcome our evil nature, to be able to kick sand in the devil’s face and defeat him because of an indwelling Holy Spirit.

Will you now consider your relationship? Are you a follower of Jesus or are you under the power of the devil himself?



Julius Hovan is minister of the Bohon Church of Christ, Bohon, KY.

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Philippians 4:13