Hope of Israel Ministries (Ecclesia of YEHOVAH):
Lucifer's Fall -- Did It Really Happen?
Did the "war in heaven" take place PRIOR to the creation of man? Was Lucifer an angel who sinned against YEHOVAH God -- to be cast out of heaven and become the devil? Does Ezekiel 28 refer to a MAN or an angel? What about Isaiah 14 -- does this apply to Satan or the King of Babylon? Yeshua's statement that Satan "was a murderer from the beginning" (John 8:44) casts doubt on the concept that he was an angel in the beginning and then, later, became the devil. What really happened?
by John D. Keyser and Ralph Woodrow
Many in the churches of God have been taught that Satan was once a beautiful angel who became lifted up with pride, sinned against YEHOVAH God, and was cast out of heaven. Does not Ezekiel 28 say he was perfect until iniquity was found in him? And does not Isaiah 14 speak of him as Lucifer, a powerful angel who sought to be as YEHOVAH? Herbert W. Armstrong has echoed these ideas in his book Mystery of the Ages, stating that
"when God placed angels -- apparently a third of all (Rev. 12:4) -- on the newly created, perfect, beautiful and glorious earth, he set over them, on a throne, to administer the government of God, an archangel -- the great cherub Lucifer....This Lucifer was a super being of awesome, majestic beauty, dazzling brightness, supreme knowledge, wisdom and power -- perfect as God created him! (Ezek. 28:15)....it is plain that Lucifer had nothing less in mind than knocking the Creator God off his throne and becoming supreme God himself. Apparently he planned to put himself in place of God, over the universe!...Michael and his angels fought against the dragon....And the great dragon was cast out...he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him" (Dodd, Mead & Company: NY. 1985, pp. 77-81).
There was a time when many of us supposed these things were taught in the book of Ezekiel, chapter 28, within the prophecy about the king of Tyrus. But I will say this quite simply:
The subject of this prophecy was "a MAN" (verse 2); not an angel!
The location was Tyrus (Tyre), a very wealthy city; not heaven!
The time of the prophecy was the 6th century B.C.; not something that happened before human history began!
A study of the entire chapter shows this leader of Tyrus had become very proud. Though a mere man, he thought of himself as a god (verse 2). His wisdom and wealth are mentioned (verses 3-5). But none of these things would save him from his destined ruin: "I have reduced you to ashes on the ground...You have become a horror and have ceased to be forever" (verses 18, 19).
What Sort of Wisdom?
"O mortal, intone a dirge over the king of Tyre and say to him: Thus said the Lord GOD: You were the seal of perfection, full of wisdom and flawless in beauty" (verse 12).
Elaborate fiction has been built on this statement by those who apply this to Satan. They tell us he was the "greatest intelligence," that his wisdom was unequaled, that he had wisdom of the highest heavenly order! But what kind of wisdom did he have? It was the wisdom of knowing how to make money!
"By your shrewd understanding you have gained riches, and have amassed gold and silver in your treasuries. By your great shrewdness in trade you have increased your wealth, and you have grown haughty because of your wealth" (verses 4, 5).
Because of pride, YEHOVAH God said: "I swear I will bring against you strangers, the most ruthless of nations. They shall unsheathe their swords against your prized shrewdness, and they shall strike down your splendor" (verse 7). The "most ruthless of nations" were the armies of Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon (Ezekiel 30:11). None of this could possibly pertain to an angel in heaven before human history began!
Pomp of the King?
"Every precious stone was your adornment [adornment for clothing]: carnelian, chrysolite, and amethyst; beryl, lapis lazuli, and jasper; sapphire, turquoise, and emerald; and gold" (Ezekiel 28:13).
These same stones were also on the garments of the high priest of the Israelites (Exodus 28:15-20). We know that such jewels were available to the king of Tyrus, for he traded with countries which offered "all precious stones, and gold" (Ezekiel 27:22). We know, also, that the people of Tyrus were skilled in delicate work, such as the setting of stones. When Solomon wanted a man who had wisdom to do such work in connection with the temple, he sent for a man of Tyre (1 Kings 7:13, 14).
The splendor of the king of Tyrus is further described in these words: "And gold beautifully wrought for you, mined for you, prepared the day you were created" (verse 13). The word translated "wrought" here is also found in Exodus and used of one who could do very fine work with gold and jewels (Exodus 31:3, 5). Some feel this verse pictures the pomp of the king, surrounded with girls of the harem who with timbrels danced to his honor.
Perfect in Beauty?
The king of Tyrus was described as being "flawless in beauty" (verse 12). But this does not imply he was a beautiful angel in heaven, for the same writer also said this about the city of Jerusalem! "Your beauty won you fame among the nations, for it was perfected through the splendor which I set upon you -- declares the Lord GOD" (Ezekiel 16:14). The same was said about the city of Tyrus: "...O Tyre, you boasted, I am perfect in beauty" (Ezekiel 27:3). This statement is followed by a description of the city, its wealth, and commercial abundance. Then in verse 11, referring to its armies, we read: "They hung their quivers all about your wallst; they perfected your beauty."
Of the king of Tyrus it was said: "You were blameless in your ways, from the day you were created until wrongdoing was found in you" (Ezekiel 28:15). Once a person has the idea already in mind that Satan was a beautiful and sinless angel in heaven, this verse seems to fit that idea very well. However, the word translated "blameless" here, tamiym, does not imply sinlessness. It is used of men such as Noah and Abraham (Genesis 6:9; 17:1), of sacrificial animals "without blemish" (Ezekiel 43-46), of a vine "when it was whole" (Ezekiel 15:5), and in a variety of ways within the scriptures.
But regardless of this, Ezekiel 28:15 does not say the king of Tyrus was a perfect being. It says he was blameless in his ways -- apparently in his ways as leader, as king! He was "blameless" in his ways until this perfection was marred by "wrongdoing." If we can determine what this wrongdoing was, we may better understand what is implied by the use of the word "blameless." Notice verse 18: "...through the dishonesty of your trading"! The word "trading" (Strong's Concordance, #7404) has the meaning of trade, as peddled, and is linked with a word expressing travel in connection with selling. It is exactly the same word translated "commerce" in verse 16: "By your far-flung commerce you were filled with lawlessness and you sinned."
We do not know the whole story, but it is certain that the king of Tyrus was made very rich through trading, through commercialism. But then the wisdom that had gotten him such wealth became corrupted. Thus, what had been a perfect political career, was marred by "iniquity" -- iniquity that was linked with his commercial activities. This is clear.
A list of the countries and cities with which he traded is given in Ezekiel 27 -- places such as Egypt, Tarshish, Javan, Tubal, Meshech, Dedan, Syria, Judah, Israel, Damascus, etc. Since the iniquity that marred his perfection involved trade relations with these countries, we can see how strained it is to teach this refers to Satan (as a perfect being in heaven) long before places such as Egypt, Judah, or Sheba existed!
His Creation As King
We read in Ezekiel 28 that the king of Tyrus was created: "...from the day you were created." It is sometimes argued that man (since Adam) is not created, he is born. Therefore, even though the king of Tyrus was a man, there must be a deeper meaning -- the passage must be talking about a beautiful angel who was created. But the word translated "created," bara, is simply not strong enough to support this conclusion. In other references in Ezekiel, it is used of the Ammonites (Ezekiel 21:30), is translated "choose" (verse 19), and "dispatch" (Ezekiel 23:47). It is obviously capable of varied translations and can add no support to the idea that the king of Tyrus was some special creation prior to human history.
Besides, the creation of the king of Tyrus probably does not refer to his beginning as a person, but to his beginning as king. "From the day you were created" could very easily refer to the day he was made king. Since the highly decorated royal robes became his covering or clothing in the day that he was created (verse 13), it seems clear that the day of his being made king is meant -- his coronation!
The Anointed Cherub
"Thou art the anointed cherub that covereth" (verse 14 -- KJV). The word translated "anointed" here is not the usual word so translated, but carries the meaning of outspread. The cherubims in the tabernacle and Solomon's temple were formed in such a way that their wings spread over the ark, possibly to symbolize protection. Similarly, the king was the protector of the people of Tyrus. The word "covereth" is said to mean one "who leads." Some have taken this to mean that Satan once led the angelic choirs of heaven in their praise of YEHOVAH God! This is wild speculation. The more natural meaning would be that the king of Tyrus led the people as their king -- not that he was merely a song leader!
Eden the Garden of YEHOVAH God
One question remains concerning the king of Tyrus. What about the phrase: "You were in EDEN the garden of God" (Ezekiel 28:13)? This, more than any other part of the passage, has caused some to believe a deeper meaning is intended. Since it was thousands of years before the time of Ezekiel that the serpent tempted Eve, they feel the meaning of the "king of Tyrus" must be expanded to include the serpent.
It should be pointed out, however, that the expression about being in Eden is best understood as IRONY. This is a form of ridicule or sarcasm which means the OPPOSITE of the literal sense of the words used. When Michal said to David, "How glorious was the king of Israel today!" (2 Samuel 6:20), she clearly did not think he was glorious at all. This was irony. When Elijah, mocking the prophets of Baal, said: "Cry aloud: for he is a god..." (1 Kings 19:27), he did not mean Baal was a god. It was irony. When Yeshua said, "Make to yourselves friends of the mammon of unrighteousness" (Luke 16:9), this was irony, for the context shows this was just the opposite of his teaching!
In Ezekiel 28 (KJV), there are repeated uses of irony. "Thou hast said, I am a god, I sit in the seat of God...Thou art wiser than Daniel; there is no secret that they can hide from thee...Thou hast been in Eden the garden of God...Thou art the anointed cherub that covereth...thou wast upon the holy mountain of God"! To paraphrase this irony, we might say: "You are really smart. You know everything! You are wiser than Daniel. You were not born yesterday. You know so much, doubtless you were with Adam in Eden. You were upon the holy mountain with Moses. You are even an anointed cherub. You are a god!"
Understood as irony, the actual meaning would be that he was not wiser than Daniel. He was not in Eden with Adam. He was not on the mountain with Moses. He was not a cherub or god. That this is the proper sense is evident, for the divine rebuttal says: "You are not a god but a MAN, though you deemed your mind equal to a god's" (verse 2).
If, however, some feel the expression about being in Eden requires a more literal interpretation, the point that the king of Tyrus was a man -- not an angel -- is still not weakened. This becomes apparent once we understand that Eden was a country at the time of the king of Tyrus! In fact, it was a country with which he carried on trade!
The Land of Eden
We would like to take time to point out some things about Eden that have not been commonly understood. Back in the book of Genesis we read that "the Lord God planted a garden eastward in EDEN; and there he put the man whom he had formed" (Genesis 2:8). Eden was the name of a land. It was within this land, specifically in the eastern part of that land, that the garden was planted. There is no reason to assume that "Eden" was the name of the garden itself. Technically they are not the same. We could not correctly speak of "California" as though it were synonymous with "Yosemite Park." Yosemite Park is in California. The garden was in Eden. This is certainly not a major point, but it does provide some scriptural clarification.
To go a step further, when the writer of Genesis refers to this land as Eden, this was probably not the name of this land when the garden was planted there. It is doubtful it would have had any name at that point. Eden was probably the name by which this land had become known at the time Genesis was written. Since the events recorded in Genesis cover thousands of years -- from Adam to Joseph -- this would have been long after the garden had been planted. The following examples will illustrate this point:
The writer of Genesis mentions a river at the time of Adam that flowed by the "land of HAVILAH" (Genesis 2:11). But that land was not known by this name at the time, for Havilah, the man from whom this land took its name, was not born until centuries later. He was a great-grandson of Noah (Genesis 10:7).
A place is referred to by the name ZOAR in Genesis 13:10, though it was not actually named this until Lot fled there in Genesis 19:22! Prior to this it was called Bela (Genesis 14:2, 8).
In Genesis 12:8 we read that Abraham journeyed "unto a mountain on the east of BETHEL, and pitched his tent." The writer of Genesis calls this place Bethel, even though it was not known as Bethel at the time Abraham was there! It was not called Bethel until many years later when Abraham's grandson, Jacob, named it. "And Jacob...called the name of that place Bethel; but the name of that city was called Luz at the first" (Genesis 28:18, 19).
For a writer to refer to places by the names they are known at the time he is writing is not unusual. An article about New York in the Americana says that "Verrazano sailed his ship into New York Bay in April 1524 but left after a brief visit." We all understand, of course, that it was not called New York Bay at the time. New York was not there. Even later when a colony was established, it was called New Amsterdam. It was not until the English took it over in 1664 that it came to be called New York!
We might talk about the Pilgrims landing at Plymouth Rock, yet the rock was not known by this name at the time. It was called this later because of the colony that was organized and named New Plymouth. We read in Exodus 15:23 that the Israelites "came to Marah" but could not drink the waters because they were bitter, "therefore the name of it was called Marah [bitterness]." Obviously it was not known by this name when they arrived there, but as a result of their being there.
The writer of Genesis could have spelled it all out. He might have said: "The Lord planted a garden in the eastern part of the land that is now called Eden." But knowing that the readers -- to whom his writings were originally addressed -- would understand this, he simply stated that the Lord had planted a garden eastward in Eden, and quite freely refers to it as the garden IN Eden or as the garden OF Eden. None of this would indicate, necessarily, that Eden was the name of that land at the time of Adam.
Just when the word Eden was first used as the name of this land we cannot say with certainty. Obviously it had become known by this name at the time Genesis was compiled. Harper's Bible Dictionary links the word "Eden" with edinu, meaning "plain." There can be little doubt that Eden was located somewhere on the plain known as Mesopotamia. Two rivers linked with Eden, the Euphrates and the Hiddekel (better known to us as the Tigris, its Greek name) flow through this area. People who lived in Telassar are called "the children of Eden" (Isaiah 37:12; 2 Kings 19:12). Thelasar is the name of a province captured by the Assyrians and mentioned in Assyrian inscriptions as Tilasuri. It extended along both sides of the middle reaches of the Euphrates River. We do not know the exact boundaries of the land of Eden -- if there even were such boundaries -- but the general area of this land can be known.
With this information in mind, we now return to the book of Ezekiel and the statement that the king of Tyrus had been in Eden. Ezekiel 27 lists countries with whom the king of Tyrus did business -- places such as Tarshish, Javan, Tubal, Dedan, and Syria; "Judah, and the land of Israel were your merchants; they trafficked with you in wheat ... honey, oil, and balm." Also included in the list are these: "Haran, Canneh, and EDEN (!), the merchants of Sheba, Assyria, and Chilmad traded with you. These were your merchants in choice fabrics...among your wares" (verses 17-24). Eden is listed right along with other places that did business with Tyrus. It was an actual place and known as such at that time.
As we noticed earlier, the expression about the king of Tyrus being in Eden (Ezekiel 28:13) was probably spoken in irony. But since the city of Tyrus carried on trade with the country called Eden, it is not impossible that the king of Tyrus could have actually visited that country himself!
The King of Babylon
Another passage that has been applied to Satan as a heavenly angel is Isaiah 14 -- the chapter that mentions Lucifer -- but which is actually a poetic description of the overthrow of the king of Babylon.
The subject of the prophecy was "a MAN" (verse 16), the king of Babylon; not an angel.
The location of the prophecy was the city of Babylon; not heaven!
The time of the prophecy was a few centuries B.C.; not something that happened before human history began!
Though the king of Babylon would attain great power, would become a ruler of nations, yet he would fall from power as other kings of the past. He would die and be "like a trampled corpse...who sink to the very stones of the Pit...you shall not have a burial like them; because you destroyed your country" (Isaiah 14:12-19 -- Tanakh). Wording such as this can hardly describe the fall of an angel from heaven prior to human history. At that point there would have been no country to destroy!
The king of Babylon said in his heart:
"I will climb to the sky; higher than the stars of God I will set my throne. I will sit in the mount of assembly...I will match the Most High " (verse 13-14, Tanakh).
Such figures of speech are common in the scriptures. We read that Capernaum was "exalted to heaven," an expression that none take in the literal sense (Luke 10:15). Or notice the close parallel in wording with the prophecy about Edom: "Thus said my Lord GOD concerning Edom...your arrogant heart has seduced you...you think in your heart, 'Who can pull me down to the earth?' Should you nest as high as the eagle, should your eyrie [nest] be lodged 'mong the stars, even from there I will pull you down" (Obadiah 1:1-14).
The king of Babylon, lifted up with pride, is represented as saying he would climb to the sky; so also was it said of Capernaum. The king of Babylon said he would set his throne above the stars; so was it said of Edom. Such expressions symbolized pride -- pride which went before destruction. Capernaum was destroyed, Edom was destroyed, Babylon was destroyed. There is no reason to take the claim of the king of Babylon, "I will climb to the sky," to mean he was an angel in heaven before human history began. Besides, by saying in his heart he would climb to the sky (or "heaven"), it is self-evident he was not already in heaven!
But what about verse 12? "How are you fallen from heaven, O Shining One [Lucifer], son of Dawn!" Was not Lucifer the name of Satan as an angel? The Bible never says so. Isaiah 14:12 is the only place the word "Lucifer" appears in the Bible and this within a prophecy about the king of Babylon.
The Hebrew word is heylel which carries the idea of brightness, signifying the morning star. It has been translated "shining star" (Moffatt), "shining one" (New World, Rotherham), "star of the morning" (American Standard), "day star" (Jerusalem Bible, Amplified, Revised Version), "shining gleam" (Modern Language), etc.
It was not until about 405 A.D., when Jerome translated the Bible into Latin (the Vulgate), that the word Lucifer was used in Isaiah 14:12. Originally this word, as mentioned by the historian Pliny, was simply the term by which the ancients spoke of the morning star, rising before and introducing the light of dawn. Even a number of English words are related to the Latin word lucifer: lucent and translucent (shining, bright, clear), lucid (shining), luciferous (giving light), Lucite (a trade-mark for a transparent resin), lucutrate (to work by lamplight), etc. Every scholar knows that the word Lucifer, as now used, is not a correct translation of the Hebrew original.
Adam Clarke has given this comment concerning Isaiah 14:12:
"Although the context speaks explicitly concerning Nebuchadnezzar, yet this has been, I know not why, applied to the chief of the fallen angels, who is most incongruously denominated Lucifer (the bringer of light!) an epithet as common to him as those of Satan and Devil...strange indeed. But the truth is, the text speaks nothing at all concerning Satan nor his fall, nor the occasion of that fall, but of the pride, arrogance, and fall of Nebuchadnezzar"
Even though men such as Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Amos, Zechariah, and Malachi lived after the time of Isaiah -- and were familiar with Isaiah 14 -- not one of them ever taught the idea that Lucifer was the name of an angel in heaven who became the devil. It was never mentioned by Yeshua or the apostles. It was not until much later that this idea developed. Weston Fields has written: "The interpretation of Isaiah 14 and Ezekiel 28, which makes these passages refer to the fall of Satan, has not been generally held during church history. The connection of Isaiah 14 with Satan was begun by Tertullian, and continued by Origen." Tertullian died about 230 A.D. and Origen about 254 A. D.
According to Tertullian, the Devil was placed in "a mountain Paradise" (see Ezekiel 28:11-16), which he takes as an allegory of Heaven. Tertullian also takes the creation of the animals in Genesis to be an allegory of the creation of Angels. The Devil, according to Tertullian, was an Archangel, the most exalted and wisest of the Angels (perhaps Tertullian is thinking of the description of the Serpent as "the craftiest of all the animals of the Earth that the Lord had made," Genesis 3:1). He was adorned, continues Tertullian, with Angelic glory until he began to sin, and his sinning consisted of injuring Man, who was cast out (ejectus) from YEHOVAH's allegiance (obsequium). The Messiah testified that Satan fell from the heights of Heaven, being cast out (dejectus) like lightning, Fulgur, referring, of course, to the words of Yeshua in Luke 10:18 (Tertullian, Against Marcion 2.10).
Later, in the same treatise against Marcion, Tertullian attributes to Satan the words given to the King of Babylon in Isaiah 14:13-14: "I will set my throne above the stars...I will go up above the clouds, I will be like the Most High" (Tertullian, Marcion 5.17). So Tertullian, in effect, IDENTIFIES SATAN WITH LUCIFER!
Now let us see what Origen of Alexandria had to say regarding the subject of Satan. The most elaborate presentation of Origen's ideas was undoubtedly contained in his grand treatise, Principles, or, Beginnings, written in the 220s but, except for a few excerpts that have been preserved in the original Greek, that work exists only in the Latin of Rufinus of Aquileia, under the title of De principiis.
As the text of Principles stands in Rufinus' version, Origen states that all rational creatures were originally created as equals, with free will that allowed either progress in imitating YEHOVAH God, or failure through negligence. Unfortunately, according to Origen, everyone of these creatures failed to a greater or lesser degree (Origen, Principles 2.9.2, 6).
Satan, explains Origen, failed in the worst way, of course. Why? Well, continues Origen, let's look at Scripture and be alert to hidden meanings -- let's read deeper significance into passages addressed to men that cannot literally apply to them! Writes Origen: "What is said in many places, and especially in Isaiah, of Nebuchadnezzar cannot be explained of that individual. For the man Nebuchadnezzar neither 'fell from Heaven,' nor was he 'the Morning Star,' nor did he 'arise upon the Earth in the morning'" (Principles 4.1.22 ANF).
As with the entire Isaiah chapter, Origen maintains that much of this passage cannot be said of a Human Being. It must, therefore, refer to "a certain Angel who had received the office of governing the nation of the Tyrians," but when iniquity was found in him he was hurled down to the Earth (Principles 1.5.4). In other words, Origen thinks it is meant to describe one of the Principalities and Powers who became sinful and derelict in his duties.
Finally we are seeing the influence of RADICAL DUALISM upon the development of the Devil's persona. Origen specifically says that he is answering the theory of "some" who say that Satan's original nature was Darkness. It appears these opponents of Origen's were INFECTED with Zoroastrian ideas! Let us lay out this Zoroastrian hypothesis in Hegelian terms --
1. A "Dark Thesis" was proposed in Origen's time to explain the existence of Satan: he was an Evil Principle opposed by nature to the Good Principle (YEHOVAH).
2. Origen countered with a "Light Antithesis," a theory that Satan was originally an Angel of Light.
3. This resulted in a "Light-to-Dark Synthesis."
Such a synthesis, this COMPROMISE with "Darkism," was a BAD DAY for "Christianity" (Catholicism). Let us repeat -- IT WAS A BAD DAY!
The net result, after the dust settled, is that the "Christian" religion was transformed, in effect, into a Zoroastrian system. The main difference between Iranian Dualism and the new "Christian" Dualism is that in the former the Principle of Evil always existed as such, whereas in post-Origen "Christianity" the Principle of Good (YEHOVAH) created the Principle of Evil (Satan)!
Once Tertullian and Origin had promoted the teaching that Isaiah 14 referred to Satan -- and later Jerome used the word Lucifer in his translation -- it was only a matter of time until the two ideas would merge. In 1611, the King James translators did not translate the Hebrew heylel, but simply brought the word Lucifer over from Jerome's Latin version. A few years later, in 1667, John Milton published his famous book Paradise Lost which "describes Satan and his angels being ejected from heaven and falling down to hell back in the primeval past, before the creation of the human race" (Hard Sayings of the Bible, p. 465). Notice --
Him the Almighty Power
Hurl'd headlong flaming from th'
With hideous ruin and combustion down
To bottomless perdition, there to dwell
In Adamantine Chains and penal Fire,
Who durst defie th' Omnipotent to Arms.
Since then, this view has been widely believed. "It would," continues the Hard Sayings of the Bible, "be difficult to find biblical authority for this picture, however."
Satan As Lightning Fell
Have you ever wondered why there is very little mention of "Satan" or the "Devil" in the Old Testament, but the New Testament is FULL of warnings against the entrapments of Satan and his demons? The Hebrew word satan is a common noun meaning "adversary." In the Old Testament we find it applied in various ways to human opponents and, in THREE cases, to supra-human or Angelic figures. First, there is the Angel of YEHOVAH who comes as a satan against Balaam and his ass (Numbers 22). Then there is one of the Sons of YEHOVAH God who acts as a satan against Job (Job 1-2). And, finally, there is the satan who accuses the High Priest Joshus (Zechariah 3). A fourth possible instance is the satan who incites David to take a census, where the term could perhaps be a proper name, Satan (I Chronicles 21).
The Judahites who translated the Hebrew Scriptures into Greek -- the Septuagint (around 200 B.C.) -- sometimes saw a deceitful element in the word satan, and so translated it as epiboules, "plotter." Or they left it alone as "a satan." But at other times they translated it more directly as diabolos, "opponent." They avoided calling the Angel of YEHOVAH a diabolos in the story of Balaam. But they decided that it was not Satan who incited David to sin, but only "a satan," that is, "a devil," -- doubtless intending a merely human adversary. However, they manifest a belief that one of YEHOVAH's Angels not only acted as a satan, but was actually named Satan, which they rendered in Greek as ho Diabolos, Devil in the Books of Job and Zechariah.
Now if Satan and a third of the Angels fell from Heaven in the primordial past -- BEFORE the time of Adam -- you would think that the Old Testament would be FULL of examples showing those YEHOVAH was working with contending with the wiles, influence and roadblocks placed in their lives by the one who is so conspicuous in the New Testament. But there is only THREE possible examples of Angels appearing as "satans," that is, adversaries, in the entirety of the Hebrew Scriptures! Strange indeed!
So WHEN was Satan cast out of Heaven?
Yeshua once said to his disciples, "I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven" (Luke 10:18), words that are commonly linked with the Isaiah 14 passage. If, in other verses there was direct evidence for the belief that Satan was once an angel in heaven, we would probably include this verse as supporting evidence for that conclusion. But in the absence of any such evidence, we prefer an interpretation based on the immediate context. So, when the Messiah speaks of seeing Satan's fall from heaven he is not thinking of an event that took place in the remote past -- he is thinking of the effect of his ministry at the time and of his upcoming death and resurrection. The Kingdom Interlinear Translation of the Greek Scriptures words Luke 10:18 a little differently -- notice!
At that he said to them: "I began to behold Satan already fallen like lightning from heaven."
This points to a future event -- not one that occurred eons in the past. This is reinforced by John 12:30-31, which says -- "In answer Jesus said:...Now there is a judging of this world; now [in the very near future] the ruler of this world WILL [future tense] be cast out." This clearly indicates a future event, the adverb "now" referring to the Messiah's impending death and resurrection which crowned his ministry. Also, in the Book of Revelation, John shows that Satan's ejection from heaven was the direct result of the Messiah's ministry and death. There is, however, no indication here that Satan was formerly an angel in heaven.
The seventy disciples had just returned from a successful preaching mission. With joy they said: "Lord, even the devils are subject unto us through thy name" (verse 17). As the gospel was preached, as the sick were healed, as devils were cast out, Satan was losing his hold; his kingdom was losing its exalted position. Three verses before, mention is made of Capernaum which was "exalted to heaven," but which would be "thrust down to hell." This signified that Capernaum would fall from its exalted position; so also we understand verse 18 as a reference to Yeshua seeing, in the very near future, the power of Satan being broken -- and Satan being cast down to the earth as a result of the Messiah's ministry, and that of his disciples.
In the Hard Sayings of the Bible, the author points out in his note on this passage that the Messiah was "describing an actual vision that he experienced during the mission of the seventy -- not unlike the vision seen by John of Patmos, when, as he says, war broke out in heaven and 'the great dragon was hurled down -- that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray' (Rev. 12:9)" (InterVarsity Press, 1996, p. 466).
Paul said a novice (a new convert) was not to be made a leader in the church "lest being lifted up with pride he fall into the condemnation of the devil" (1 Timothy 3:6). If a person has it already in mind that the devil was an angel, was lifted up with pride, was condemned by YEHOVAH God, and cast out of heaven, this verse could be taken to mean that YEHOVAH would condemn the novice as he did the devil. But the more normal reading would be that the devil is the one that condemns -- it is the condemnation of (or by) the devil that is meant. Proof for this is found in the very next verse: A leader "must have a good report of them which are without; lest he fall into the reproach and the snare of the devil" (verse 7). It is the devil who would place a snare (see also 2 Timothy 2:26), the devil who would cause reproach, and the devil who would condemn. All of these expressions are linked together as things that the devil would do -- not YEHOVAH God.
War in Heaven
Revelation 12:7-10 fits in with the idea that Satan was once in heaven and fell -- but we must take it in its correct time sequence.
There was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels, and prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven. And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.
It is recorded that, when Yeshua the Messiah went into heaven after his resurrection, and took his place at the right hand of YEHOVAH God, "angels, and authorities, and powers" were "made subject unto him" (I Peter 3:22). It was at this moment, therefore, that the revolt of the angels took place, seeing that Satan and his associated powers and principalities refused to be "made subject unto him."
In John 12:31-33 we find words of the Messiah that place the matter beyond doubt, notice!
Now is the judgment of this world: NOW shall the prince of this world be cast out. And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me.
There are three things in this passage that the Messiah mentions as being "NOW" about to happen, namely --
1) the judgment of this world
2) the casting out of the prince of this world
3) the drawing of all men (i.e. men of all nations and classes) to himself -- as a result of his being lifted up to die on the tree.
This fixes the time when Satan was "cast out" of heaven because it clearly shows the event to be contemporaneous with the era when the Messiah is drawing to himself men out of all nations and classes. The word "now" must mean the same in both clauses.
John 12:31-33, along with what has already been cited, provides ample proof that the war in heaven, which culminated in Satan being "cast out" took place soon after the ascension of the resurrected Messiah into heaven in 31 A.D.
History records that the "great fury" of Satan against YEHOVAH's people, and his bloody persecutions in the early centuries of this era -- which agrees perfectly with what is stated in verses 12 and 13 of Revelation 12 -- grants further evidence that the war in heaven and the casting out of Satan took place at the BEGINNING of our era.
It was a crushing defeat which nothing but the Messiah's death and resurrection could have inflicted upon the prince of this world. As Yeshua said, "NOW is the judgment of this world, NOW shall the prince of this world be cast out." The Old Testament shows us (Job 1:6; 2:1; Zechariah 3:1) that in the days before the Messiah's death, Satan had free access to the courts of heaven. But how could this continue after the work of atonement was completed? How could the accuser -- that old serpent -- raise his head and open his mouth, or even present himself before the slain Lamb upon the throne? "Who shall now lay anything to the charge of God's elect?" The apostle Paul asks this challenging question in a passage that is full of joy because of the Messiah's triumph over death (Romans 8:33-39). Where, in the New Testament, is there a verse or passage to support the idea (apparently a product of very modern theology) that Satan still appears before the throne of YEHOVAH God -- as the accuser of the brethren? The New Testament CLEARLY places him on the earth:
Your enemy, the Adversary, stalks about like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour (I Peter 5:8).
This is in perfect harmony with the passage that says the Devil and his hosts are "cast out into the earth," and he goes to make war with the remnant of the woman's seed, who keep the commandments of YEHOVAH God, and have the testimony of Yeshua the Messiah (Revelation 12:17). It is a great and serious ERROR to place this event before Creation or in some future day.
The breaking of Satan's power was by the death of the Messiah -- for by the death of the Messiah forgiveness of sin has been obtained and Satan's most formidable weapon has been wrenched out of his hands. The New Testament plainly tells us that Satan is already a conquered foe, "cast out" of heaven and deprived of his authority over those whose citizenship is in heaven (verse 12). James tells us to "resist the devil, and he will flee from you" (4:7). This could not be apart from the Messiah's victory at Golgotha; but now that the victory has been won, IT COULD NOT BE OTHERWISE.
In Revelation 12:7-10, John was writing historically about things that had (in his day) recently happened. However, he was not recording history as though these things had already taken place prior to Genesis! The next verse pictures Satan as the accuser of the brethren "which accused them before our God day and night." This could not refer to a time prior to the creation of man. At that time there were no brethren to accuse!
The one who is defeated in this battle is the "dragon" -- nothing is said to indicate that he was a beautiful angel who, upon being defeated, was cast down and became the devil. Even the strongest believers in the concept that Satan was once an angel do not generally apply this passage to a battle prior to human history.
There are some, it should be mentioned here, who teach that Satan was an angel on a pre-Adamic earth (instead of heaven). Some go so far as to say that Eden, Babylon, and Tyrus were places on a pre-Adamic earth -- with the same names as places that developed later in human history! By such methods of interpretation, they can easily make Lucifer the king of Babylon (a pre-Adamic city!) and have an explanation for the statement that he weakened the nations (pre-Adamic nations!).
The argument for a pre-Adamic population usually goes something like this: YEHOVAH told Adam and Eve to "replenish the earth" (Genesis 1:28). They were to RE-plenish, that is, RE-populate the earth. They could not RE-populate the earth if it had not been populated before! This sounds very logical -- in English. The fact is, however, the word translated "replenish," mala (Strong's Concordance, #4390), means to fill or to be full. It does not carry the meaning of RE-fill. It is translated fill or filled about 110 times in the Bible, full 47 times, fulfill 27 times, accomplished 7 times, replenish 7 times, confirm, be at an end, be expired, gather, presume, satisfied (one or two times each), making a total of over 200 times it is used. If there is any doubt that the word means to fill, and not RE-fill, with the aid of a concordance, one can look up all of these references and see for himself how the word is used. He will be convinced that if there was a pre-Adamic population, it cannot be based on the word "replenish" in Genesis 1:28.
Messengers That Sinned?
Finally, what about the angels that sinned? We read in 2 Peter 2:4: "For if God did not spare the angels who sinned, but cast them down to hell and delivered them into chains of darkness"; and Jude 6 says: "And the angels who did not keep their proper domain, but left their own habitation, he has reserved in everlasting chains under darkness for the judgment of the great day."
I have always understood these verses to refer to angels as spirit beings. But, it is true that the word translated "angels" (whether in the Old Testament or the New Testament) is the word commonly translated "messengers" and can be used of human beings. It is the word used to describe the spies that were protected by Rahab (James 2:25); it is used of human ambassadors, prophets, priests, and messengers of various types (1 Samuel 23:27; 2 Samuel 11:19; 1 Kings 19:2; Haggai 1:13; etc.).
Since neither verse (2 Peter 2:4; Jude 6) actually mentions "heaven," some believe the "angels" that sinned were human messengers and link these verses with Numbers 16. In this portion, Korah, Dathan, and Abiram, along with 250 other men, rebelled against YEHOVAH God by rejecting the leadership of Moses. These are referred to as "princes of the assembly, famous in the congregation, men of renown" who did "minister" before the people (verses 2, 9). When judgment fell, "the ground clave asunder" and some of them "went down alive into the pit [sheol, the word that is also translated grave and hell in the Old Testament] and the earth closed upon them: and they perished from among the congregation." Others were consumed by "a fire from the Lord" (verses 31-35). In addition to these leaders that died, there were 14,700 of the people who died in the plague (verse 49). All of these lost, of course, what is termed their "habitation," the promised land (Numbers 15:2).
Merging this information in with 2 Peter 2:4 and Jude 5, 6, then, we have the following: "The LORD, having saved the people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed them that believed not [14,700 on this one occasion]. And the angels [messengers, the leaders of the people] who sinned, who did not keep their proper domain [rank], but left their own habitation [inheritance], God cast down to hell and delivered them into chains of darkness."
I remain unconvinced of the correctness of this view which, obviously, has some rough edges. But, if the angels or messengers that sinned were not spirit beings, an interpretation such as this would be the most plausible. In any event, whichever view we take, it is evident that the Bible does not explain the details about when, where, or why. Just because at one point a group of angels sinned against YEHOVAH God and fell, would not, necessarily, provide an explanation about the origin of Satan. This could only be a theory.
The Divine Plan of YEHOVAH god
Since YEHOVAH is eternal -- without beginning or end -- there is no way that one book, not even the Bible, could explain all events that have transpired during what might be termed eternity past. The human mind could not comprehend it all, and some things YEHOVAH simply has not revealed. It does seem apparent, however, that within YEHOVAH's plan for man, he desired that we would worship him -- not because we are forced to, or programmed as mechanical robots -- but because we choose to worship him. I say this without in any way minimizing the work of the holy spirit in this choice, for salvation is of the Lord and not of ourselves (John 6:44; Ephesians 2:8). We are told to choose life (Deuteronomy 30:19), choose whom we will serve (Joshua 24:15), choose good and refuse evil (Isaiah 7:15). If there had been only evil in the world, we would not have known good. If there had been only good, we would not have known evil. In order for us to "choose," both good and evil had to exist on this planet at the same time.
If it was within the divine arrangement that the system of good and the system of evil function in this world, it is not unreasonable to conclude that each system needed a leader. Since YEHOVAH God is the leader of that which is good, another power, an opposite of YEHOVAH (as it were), was required. It is not impossible, then, that the devil was created as such from the beginning.
Yeshua once said the devil "was a murderer from the beginning" (John 8:44). This does not fit very well with the concept that he was in the beginning a holy angel and then, later -- perhaps thousands of years later became the devil. We also read that a person who commits sin "is of the devil, for the devil has sinned from the beginning" (1 John 3:8). This could not be rightly said of Adam. According to Genesis 2 and 3, it was not until after Adam was created, after he was placed in the garden, after he named the animals, after the woman was taken from his side, and after she listened to the serpent that Adam sinned. In a definite sense Adam was not a sinner from the beginning. But, we are told the devil was a sinner from the beginning. Instead of him being an angel that became the devil, if anything, the reverse would come closer to the truth: Satan seeks to transform himself into an angel of light to deceive (2 Corinthians 11:14).
Are we saying, then, that a good God created a bad devil? Certainly the devil did not create himself. He did not "just happen." We believe that YEHOVAH GOD created all things. "For by him were ALL THINGS created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and INVISIBLE, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: ALL THINGS were created by him, and for him: and he is before all things, and by him all things consist"! (Colossians 1:16, 17). "ALL THINGS were made by him, and without him was not anything made that was made" (John 1:3). "I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the LORD do ALL THESE THINGS" (Isaiah 45:7).
It must be admitted, of course, that questions concerning the origin of the devil are difficult, whichever view we take. If the devil was created as an evil power in the first place, it could be argued that he would be disobeying YEHOVAH God (which is sin) if he did not sin! On the other hand, the idea that YEHOVAH created a beautiful angel who later became the devil, hardly solves the problem. If YEHOVAH created a being which he knew would become the devil, this is not radically different than if he created him as such in the first place. If YEHOVAH God didn't know this creature would become the devil, YEHOVAH would not be all-knowing. If the devil at any point was able to get one step ahead of YEHOVAH back then, how could we be certain he might not succeed again?
At no time did the devil ever get one step ahead of YEHOVAH God. Nothing he has done can wreck YEHOVAH's ultimate purpose. YEHOVAH is sovereign. Even the entrance of sin into this world was no surprise to YEHOVAH God. He knew all about it, for even "before the foundation of the world" he had already planned redemption from sin through YESHUA THE MESSIAH! (2 Timothy 1:9; 1 Peter 1:20).
Be sure to read our companion articles, Just WHEN Did Satan Fall from Heaven? and "Lucifer" in Isaiah 14 -- Have We Been Deceived All These Years?
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