“And the God of peace shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. Amen. “ Romans 16:20
Out of all the things that could have been written very close to the end of the letter to the Romans, Paul says God will soon bruise Satan under their feet shortly. It's an odd statement. He had just warned this flock of those that cause strife and division within the church. “Mark them,” he says, so that all will know the gospel they preach is not the Gospel of Jesus. Then, like a prediction, he says the God of peace shall bruise, or crush, Satan under their feet shortly. That's an interesting word; shortly. I don't believe Paul was predicting an upcoming event where this would happen in the near future of their lives. There was no 'crushing' of his rule as god of this world at that time. Satan is still the god of this world and we wrestle against those principalities and powers. (Ephesians 6:12)
So, what does Paul mean by shortly? Modern scholars look and laugh at this. Shortly? "2000 years later and it's still not happened, yeah, that's shortly," they scoff. What about the people of that time to whom and when Romans was penned? Why would Paul choose to say that God would crush Satan soon? The answer lies in two particular verses, I believe.
Firstly, God is the Creator of time and He could have said, “Before time, I AM.” In His creating time, He did it not for Himself to be structured on. Time was made for Christ. By time, God has ordered and established the universe that it might become, no pun intended, a clockwork-tool of glorifying His Son!
All time has turned for Christ and continues to turn, ushering forward His perfect will and plan for eternity. However, Peter reminds us of something very profound concerning time and the Lord.
“But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. “ 2 Peter 3:8, 9
Shortly does not have the same effect of meaning to us as it does to God. When God spoke this similar statement in Genesis 3:15, it had already been accomplished in His inscrutable, deep riches of wisdom and knowledge. Paul says shortly because it is short, ultimately. If the Lord counts one day like He does a thousand years, then this shortly hasn't been any time. So what if 2000 years have passed? His accomplished will is simply being unfolded at the rate He chooses and it WILL be done shortly! Shortly also gives hope; a promise of looking forward to something that will come to pass.
He told the saints at Rome that soon, however soon that may be, God will bruise Satan under their feet. When we are preparing for a wedding, be it 10 months down the road, we say it's soon. When a parent is watching their child grow up, even at 8 years old, they often think soon the child will be grown. It's a perspective of anticipation. The Bible calls it hope!
“For we are saved by hope: but hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for?” Romans 8:24
The next verse (v25) says we wait with patience. So, child of God, He WILL soon crush Satan under your feet! If this is made manifest at death as you're translated from this realm of sin to a new and heavenly one or if you're present at the time of the coming of the Lord, God will do it. He does not take back a promise. It was beneficial that the saints read shortly, for it is a hope-giving spring to be vigilant, to put on the armor that you may stand, and assurance that we are more than conquerors!