And Jesus said to them, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven.” – Luke 10:18
According to the Bible, there is a supernatural, malevolent, spiritual being called Satan. He is presented as the one who opposes the plan of God. He is the adversary of the human race; conducting spiritual warfare, actively opposing us and dedicated to our destruction – in short, he’s a major league a-hole.
But where did Satan come from? Is he a preexistent force in equivalent opposition to God? Did God create him? If so, why would a good God create evil? Since Satan has shown that he is dedicated to actively deceiving people about his existence and identity, it is important that we know his true origins and intentions in order to effectively deal with him.
Where did Satan come from?
In popular culture, Satan is depicted as God’s arch-enemy; an equal opponent who rules over Hell and all things evil, in eternal spiritual warfare with God who rules over Heaven and all things good (with human beings caught in the middle). Despite this presentation, Satan is not God’s equal in any way. The Bible shows that Satan is a created being, vastly inferior to God in power, influence, and intellect. His story is one of inflated pride, delusions of grandeur, wasted potential, utter corruption, continual futility, and ultimate defeat (he’s essentially the career path model for the Kardashian family).
“Satan” and “Devil” are titles of our enemy which mean “Adversary” and “Accuser” respectively. When God created the being that would become Satan, he was, like everything God created, good. He was a holy Angel, but not just any Angel; he was The Angel – the highest of all created beings.
“You were the seal of perfection, full of wisdom and perfect in beauty. You were in Eden, the garden of God; every precious stone was your covering: the sardius, topaz, and diamond, Beryl, onyx, and jasper, Sapphire, turquoise, and emerald with gold. The workmanship of your timbrels and pipes was prepared for you on the day you were created. “You were the anointed cherub who covers; I established you; you were on the holy mountain of God; you walked back and forth in the midst of fiery stones. You were perfect in your ways from the day you were created … Ezekiel 28:12-15 (* See the note on this verse at the end of the post)
The phrase “seal of perfection” loosely translates into our word “ultimate”. There was no created being higher than him. He was called Lucifer (the light bearer, one who bears the light of God). He was the High Priest of the Angels; he was “anointed” by God, and the precious stones that covered him were the same ones that were on the breastplate of the Jewish High Priest. His job was to lead and gather angelic worship and present it before God. Lucifer was gifted by God with stunning beauty, extraordinary musical talent (timbres and pipes), great wisdom, and an exalted place in the angelic hierarchy. What would cause such a powerful being with such close proximity to God to rebel against Him.
How did Satan fall?
You were perfect in your ways from the day you were created till iniquity was found in you. “ By the abundance of your trading you became filled with violence within, And you sinned; Therefore I cast you as a profane thing out of the mountain of God; and I destroyed you, O covering cherub, from the midst of the fiery stones. “ Your heart was lifted up because of your beauty; you corrupted your wisdom for the sake of your splendor; I cast you to the ground, I laid you before kings that they might gaze at you. “You defiled your sanctuaries by the multitude of your iniquities, by the iniquity of your trading; Therefore I brought fire from your midst; it devoured you, – Ezekiel 28:15-18
The word “trading” (also translated “merchandise”) probably refers to the angelic praise and worship that Lucifer would present to God (like the Jewish High Priest would on earth). Two causes are given for Lucifer’s rebellion; his trafficking of angelic worship, and his great beauty and splendor.
It would seem that he began to think so highly of himself and the gifts God gave him, he rationalized that he was worthy to receive some of the angelic worship for himself! The Bible isn’t clear on what started Lucifer down this path, but it may have begun with some Angels expressing their personal admiration for him, and him accepting it instead of reflecting it back to God as Angels should do. But anytime we engage in actions that distort the will of God, the possibility of addiction occurs; and it seems this was the case with Lucifer. The more praise and worship he took for himself, the more he wanted. Eventually his addiction warped his mind so much that he sought to sit as God’s equal and take His worship for himself.
“How you are fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! How you are cut down to the ground, you who weakened the nations! For you have said in your heart: “I will ascend into heaven. I will exalt my throne above the stars of God. I will also sit on the mount of the congregation on the farthest sides of the north; I will ascend above the heights of the clouds, I will be like the Most High.’ Yet you shall be brought down to Sheol [Hell], to the lowest depths of the Pit – Isaiah 14:12-15
The first battle of Spiritual Warfare
In his mad ambition to take God’s throne, Lucifer, along with the Angels who worshiped him (possibly a third of the angelic host), launched a futile assault on God’s Heavenly kingdom. Some see this battle as taking place between Genesis 1:1, and Genesis 1:2, with the devastation of the battle being responsible for the earth being the desolate wasteland described in Genesis 1:2, (Isaiah 45:18 states that God did not create the world in vain (“vain” is the same word used to describe the desolation in Genesis 1:2) so something happened to make it that way). In any case, the result of the battle is clear. Lucifer and his cohorts were thoroughly defeated:
Therefore I brought fire from your midst; It devoured you, And I turned you to ashes upon the earth In the sight of all who saw you. All who knew you among the peoples are astonished at you; you have become a horror, And shall be no more forever.” – Ezekiel 28:18-19
The biggest loser
Lucifer now exists as a gruesomely twisted and corrupt version of his former glory called the Devil and Satan. Although he can appear as an “Angel of Light” to deceive men, this is a facade. Cut off from God, Satan has no new knowledge. No source of hope. No object of faith. He is doomed to repeat the same failed patterns; doomed to pursue the same futile goals.
He was addicted to worship, and that addiction has not ceased. He still wants to be like God, but now his attention is focused on human worship instead of angelic worship. He wants man to be conformed to his image instead of God’s. Through Satan’s corruption of man, we are born with enmity toward God which will lead some to irrationally try to dethrone the Most High just as Satan did. But this corruption ultimately results in Satan’s total and eternal defeat.
Satan knows this. He can read the Bible just as we can. But without God’s grace, Satan is cut off from his source of wisdom. He doesn’t have free will. He does not have the ability to change course. He is doomed to a preordained fate with no ability to alter it.
So now that we have an idea of what Satan was like before he rebelled against God, in the next post we will examine what his character is like now…
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*Ezekiel 28 begins with a message to an evil human ruler, “the prince of Tyre” who ruled the ancient kingdom of Tyre in Ezekiel’s day. In verse 12, God begins to address the “power behind the power”, called the “king of Tyre”. This is a reference to Satan. Here and in other places in the Bible, we’re told that spiritual beings are given dominion over earthly kingdoms. Furthermore, we know that this king of Tyre is not a human ruler because he is said to have been: 1. In the Garden of Eden, 2. a cherub (angel), 3. In the presence of God.