Satan- just a symbol of evil? (pt 2)

Today’s post about the devil continues from yesterday.  Let’s jump right in from where we left off…

Much of what we know about the devil comes from two passages in the OT from the books of Isaiah and Ezekiel. As I mentioned in the Angels post, these topics are tough to really come down definitely one way or the other on. The passage in Isaiah we’re going to read comes from a longer passage directed to the King of Babylon. However, several verses, particularly verses 12-14, seem to speak to more than an earthly king. Some scholars believe these verses refer to the devil, and others suggest it refers to both the devil and the king. And there are even some scholars who think the entire chapter is solely about the King of Babylon. Let’s read it, and see what you think…Isaiah 14:12-14

12 How you have fallen from heaven,
morning star, son of the dawn!
You have been cast down to the earth,
you who once laid low the nations!
13 You said in your heart,
“I will ascend to the heavens;
I will raise my throne
above the stars of God;
I will sit enthroned on the mount of assembly,
on the utmost heights of Mount Zaphon.
14 I will ascend above the tops of the clouds;
I will make myself like the Most High.”

A couple interesting things to note from these verse. Verse 12 in which we see something falling from heaven, having been thrown down to the earth, lines up and matches Jesus’ own words in Luke 10:18 where we hear Jesus say, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven.” Secondly, pride has always been associated with Satan – and that’s pretty evident if you look at the audacious “I will statements” throughout these verses.

Let’s take a look at a longer passage – this time from the Old Testament book of Ezekiel. This book was written by Ezekiel, a prophet and contemporary of Jeremiah. It was written when God’s chosen people were in Exile in Babylon. Much like our last text in Isaiah, Ezekiel 28 is a message about a king, the King of Tyre. However, interwoven amongst text that clearly is intended for a human king, we find passages and phrases in verses 12-19 that couldn’t possibly apply to a human king. Let’s take a look.

12 “Son of man, take up a lament concerning the king of Tyre and say to him: ‘This is what the Sovereign LORD says: “‘You were the seal of perfection,
full of wisdom and perfect in beauty.
13 You were in Eden,
the garden of God;
every precious stone adorned you:
carnelian, chrysolite and emerald,
topaz, onyx and jasper,
lapis lazuli, turquoise and beryl.
Your settings and mountings were made of gold;
on the day you were created they were prepared.
14 You were anointed as a guardian cherub,
for so I ordained you.
You were on the holy mount of God;
you walked among the fiery stones.
15 You were blameless in your ways
from the day you were created
till wickedness was found in you.
16 Through your widespread trade
you were filled with violence,
and you sinned.
So I drove you in disgrace from the mount of God,
and I expelled you, guardian cherub,
from among the fiery stones.
17 Your heart became proud
on account of your beauty,
and you corrupted your wisdom
because of your splendor.
So I threw you to the earth;
I made a spectacle of you before kings.
18 By your many sins and dishonest trade
you have desecrated your sanctuaries.
So I made a fire come out from you,
and it consumed you,
and I reduced you to ashes on the ground
in the sight of all who were watching.
19 All the nations who knew you
are appalled at you;
you have come to a horrible end
and will be no more.’”

Certainly there are passages like “you were in Eden, the garden of God” and “I ordained and anointed you as the mighty angelic guardian” that cannot apply to a human king.

So when Satan, who was once the angel Lucifer, rebelled against God and fell from heaven, one third of the angelic host joined his insurrection (Revelation 12:3-4,9). These fallen angels are now known as the demons. Some people reject the idea that demons are the fallen angels because Jude 6 declares the angels who sinned to be “bound with everlasting chains.” However, clearly not all of the angels who sinned are “bound,” as Satan is himself is still free. So it seems some are bound as stated in Jude 6, but not all.

The names, titles, and descriptions for Satan that we find in the Bible tell us a lot about his true character, his goals and his strategies. The Hebrew word for Satan means adversary, accuser, or opponent. Satan is referred to by this name over fifty times in the Bible, and 35 times he is also called “the devil,” a translation of the Greek diabolos, meaning accuser or slanderer.

Here we see an interesting truth: we tend to think of Satan primarily as one who tempts us to do evil (which he certainly does).  But his names in Scripture show us another side of him – he is truly an accuser! The people of God are the targets of his vicious accusations.  Could it be that we need to be more concerned with his accusations than his temptations?  Clearly both are evil, but consider your own life and work for God.  Aren’t we more likely to abandon our service for Christ because of Satan’s accusations than through succumbing to his evil temptations?

But fear not and take heart, for although Satan is our accuser, our advocate or defense attorney is none other than Jesus himself. If you have repented of your sins, no matter what they are, before your defense attorney, you are justified, forgiven, and fully acquitted from all of Satan’s accusations, whether true or fabricated.

The devil is also spoken of as the prince of this world, the god of this age, and the ruler of the kingdom of the air. Satan, with God’s permission, governs this world!  In fact, in 1 John 5:19 we read “the whole world is under the control of the evil one”.   And yet, even this isn’t enough for him. He still tries to elevate his throne above God. Even though he is ruler of this world, he desires to enlarge his kingdom and counteract God’s. Satan is the source behind every false cult and world religion. He knows the true God. The devil and his demons even acknowledge Jesus as the Son of God as we read in Mark 3 – “Whenever the evil spirits saw him, they fell down before him and cried out, ‘You are the Son of God.'” Satan will do anything and everything in his power to oppose God and those who follow God.

Tomorrow in part 3 we’ll look at one final way the devil acts in our world, and ask the all-important question – “why bother with learning about the devil?”.  I’d love for you to leave a comment below with your thoughts and ideas.  And be sure to subscribe to the blog so you’ll be notified every time a new post is published – you can do that on the menu on the right.