"Foiled again" is an expression that comes from the sport of fencing, and refers to the one who is losing the duel. "Foiled again" could certainly describe Satan's attempts to hinder the purposes of God in human history! Ever since he was cast down from his position as the most highly favored of God's angels (Ezekiel 28:11-19), Satan has schemed and worked to oppose God, attempting a variety of evil strategies to triumph in the cosmic "fencing match"—but never attaining victory!
As we trace the history of Satan's attempts to oppose God, we find that his various strategies are directly related to his increasing knowledge of God's plans and purposes, as that information was gradually revealed by God to man.
A Human "Head-Crusher"
Satan's first attempt to disrupt God's purposes was to entice the first man and woman to disobey God, thereby ruining the harmonious relationship between God and the people He had created in His image. But Satan's strategy was foiled when God declared that the "seed of the woman" (Genesis 3:15) would be his undoing! From God's edict, Satan knew that his defeat would come through the human race. Therefore Satan's next attempt to thwart the plans and purposes of God was to do all he could to annihilate the human race.
Undoubtedly Satan was involved in Cain's murder of Abel. Maybe he hoped that he could entice the whole human race to use murder to settle jealous disputes, and thus kill themselves off! (see Genesis 4:23,24). Although this attempt failed, most likely Genesis 6:1-8 describes Satan's next strategic move to destroy the human race by genetically corrupting the human line so that it was no longer truly human. Although there have been various interpretations of the "sons of God" (Genesis 6:2,4), other Scriptures seem to indicate that the "sons of God" were fallen angels who left the angelic realm and had relations with human women. (See Jude 6,7 and 2 Peter 2:4.) In only a few generations, this strategy would have genetically altered and corrupted the human race, but Satan was foiled again! The Flood of God's judgment not only destroyed the wickedness on this earth—it preserved the true human race in Noah and his family!
A Jewish Messiah
God's promise to Abraham, the father of the Jewish people, was that all the earth would be blessed through his seed and that his seed would conquer any enemy (see Genesis 12:1-3; 22:16-18). So Satan began to concentrate his efforts on eliminating the Jewish people. While they were in captivity in Egypt we read that Pharaoh tried systematically to murder every Jewish male baby. This Satanically-inspired attempt was foiled when God had Pharaoh's own daughter save the life of the Jewish baby, Moses, whom God used to bring His people out of Egypt! Another example of Satan's failed attempts to annihilate the Jewish race is recorded in the book of Esther.
A King from Judah
Through the blessing of God upon Jacob's sons, Satan learned that the promised "Peace-bringer" or "Shiloh" would come through the tribe of Judah, and that he would be a king (Genesis 49:10). The first king from the line of Judah to ascend the throne of Israel was David. Satan probably thought that God had miscalculated when He sent a shepherd boy with a slingshot against Satan's well-armed pagan giant, Goliath! Foiled again! And Satan was certainly behind King Saul's attempts to kill David on several occasions (see 1 Samuel 19). But Satan was foiled again and again as God protected David.
Probably the most concentrated Satanic attack on the kings in the line of David took place during the time of wicked Queen Athaliah (see 2 Chronicles 21-22), the daughter of the notorious King Ahab and Queen Jezebel. "Like mother, like daughter," Athaliah tried to seize the throne of Judah for herself when her son, King Ahaziah, was killed. In order to accomplish her wicked goal she ordered that all her grandchildren who were in line for the throne be killed! She almost succeeded, but baby Joash, the only remaining direct link to the kingly Davidic line, was rescued and hidden in the Temple. For six years the wicked Queen Mother was able to usurp the throne, but Satan was foiled again when, at the age of seven, Joash was brought forth from hiding and crowned as the king of Judah!
A Divine Ruler
During the time of the Old Testament prophets Satan came to realize much more about the coming "Head-crusher." He learned He would be born in Bethlehem (Micah 5:2), of a virgin (Isaiah 7:14), and could approximate the date of His birth from an analysis of Daniel's prophetic time-table (Daniel 9).
When did Satan learn that his conqueror would be the incarnate Son of God? Although we can't say for sure, Isaiah's prophecy that the Promised One would be called "Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace" (9:6), would certainly have revealed this incredible truth! So when Jesus Christ was born, Satan had no doubts about His identity. In attempting to destroy the Son of God, he was foiled when he manipulated King Herod to kill all the babies in Bethlehem—the Lord Jesus was safely in Egypt (Matthew 2:13-16). Satan was foiled when he tried to have Jesus thrown over a cliff. The Lord Jesus walked away unharmed because "His hour had not yet come" (Luke 4:28-30). Satan was foiled again when he attempted to drown Jesus and His disciples during a storm on the Sea of Galilee, but his plan backfired when Jesus used this event to "showcase" His power and control over nature! Once again Satan was foiled when he had the self-righteous Pharisees endeavor to stone Jesus (John 8:59; 10:31), or attempt to seize Him (John 10:39; 11:57) or plot to kill Him (John 8:40; 11:53). Satan was certainly behind these efforts—in fact, Jesus Himself described those evil men as being "of their father, the devil" (John 8:44), and "doing the deeds of their father" (v. 41)!
The Lamb of God
As Jesus breathed His last on the cross of Calvary, Satan must have gloated, thinking that he had finally done away with the Son of God. Little did he realize that there God accomplished the ultimate, eternal plan for the redemption of mankind; there the Lamb of God fulfilled the promise to "take away the sin of the world!"
Three days later Satan's premature gloating was cut short by the shocking news that Jesus was alive! The "Head-crusher" had triumphed! Through death He rendered the devil powerless" (Hebrews 2:14). Satan's head was crushed at the cross of Christ, where his "master strategy" resulted in his complete and ultimate defeat!
An Empowered Church
Although he is a defeated foe who knows his end, and his power is limited, Satan's attempts to hinder God's plans continue. As Satan, along with other fallen "rulers and authorities," learn of the eternal purposes of God, he schemes to oppose God in every way he can. He disrupts fellowship and tempts believers to sin. And he is trying to drag as many people as possible to eternal judgment with him by putting up roadblocks between them and the Good News of Jesus Christ. But God has empowered the church, the body of Christ, to assault the very gates of hell and snatch people out of Satan's clutches (Matthew 16:18), plucking them as "brands from the fire" (Zechariah 3:2). Praise God, Satan's schemes will continue to be foiled again and again! Ultimate victory has been won by our Lord Jesus Christ!
—David R. Reid