In the history of the cosmos, there never has been and never shall be a greater treachery. The creature who was the most magnificent demonstration of His Creator's skill came to resent the fact that he was simply a borrowed glory, that the role assigned him was only and always to reflect the infinite majesty of the God who had breathed him into existence. Thus was born in the heart of Lucifer-and ultimately in the new created moral universe-the despicable impulse to rebel. That impulse generated the angelic insurrection that was the most awful sedition in the history of time.
As important and seminal as that angelic rebellion was, Scripture does not include and explicit record of the event. It is in the account of Adam's fall (Gen. 3) that Satan first appears in the Old Testament, but there he is the already fallen tempter who seduces the first humans to sin. Thus Satan's falleness is treated as fact early in Scripture. But, for reasons nowhere made clear, the actual account of his fall is absent from that record.
Yet the event is twice remembered in the writings of the prophets: by Isaiah in the midst of an inspired diatribe against Babylon (Isa. 14:11-23) and later by Ezekiel as he escoriates the king of Tyre (Eze. 28:11-19). These two passages tell us most of what we know about Satan's fall.
But herein lies a bit of an exegetical rub. In both passages, the perceived remembrance of Lucifer's rebellion enters so abruptly into contexts that do not deal with Satan at all that many expositors have rejected the idea that the passage refer to a Luciferian rebellion, insisting that the focus is exclusively on the human rulers of the pagan nations being addressed.
However, it is best to understand that Isaiah and Ezekiel intended to direct people beyond the crimes of human kings to the great archetype of evil and rebellion, Satan himself. These passages include descriptions that, even given the tendency of ancient rulers to hyperbole, could not reasonably refer to any human being. The "I wills" of Isaiah 14:13-14 would reflect a level of ostentation indicative of insanity if spoken by a mere man, even the self-deifying pagan monarchs of Babylon. And what king of Tyre might be described as "full of wisdom, and perfect in beauty ... perfect in thy ways from the day that thou wast created" (Ezek. 28:12, 15)?
Furthermore, the Bible clearly teaches that the wickedness of the visible world is influenced and animated by a realm populated by invisible, fallen spirits (Dan. 10:12-13); Eph. 6:12) and that, in their insidious and doomed campaign to frustrate the purposes of the true God, those evil spirits are directed by Satan, the "god of this age" (2 Cor. 4:49.
It is characteristics of biblical writers to make the connection between the visible world and the one that is not, and to do so in a manner so abrupt as to catch the reader momentarily off guard. When Peter expressed horror at the thought of Jesus' death, the Lord responded, "Get thee behind me, Satan" (Mt. 16:23; cf 4:8-10).
Similarly, the prophet Daniel leapt suddenly and without announcement from a predictive description of Antiochus Epiphanes (Dan. 11:3-35) to a similar description of the end-times Antichrist (11:36-45). Antiochus, the Seleucid ruler of the intertestamental period, harbingers the greater villain who will trouble the earth in the last days. Thus such an abrupt and unannounced leap from the acquisitive, self-aggrandizing, visible, political world to the archetypal drama that played itself out in a world invisible to men-but which gave birth to the attitudes being denounced in these passages-is not out of place in the Scriptures.
Finally, a recurring theme of Scripture may well lie behind the connection made in these two passages. In the early ages of fallen Earth, the rebels at Babel determined to build "a city and a tower" (Gen. 11:4) The city was a center of commercial activity, while the tower was a focal point of pagan worship. This twofold characterization of the cosmos as an expression of selfishness (the acquisitive spirit of unsanctified commercialism) and rebelliousness (the pursuit of idols) resound throughout God's Word and reaches a dramatic climax in Revelation 17-18 where unfallen angels announce the long-delayed and much-deserved demise of religious and commercial Babylon.
It is instructive that all of Ezekiel 26-28 excoriates Tyre, the most important center of commerce and wealth in Ezekiel's day, while Isaiah 14 denoounces Babylon, the center of false religion throughout Scripture. Perhaps that "city and tower" characterization of the fallen cosmos, so important to what Scripture says about the world in rebelion against God, helps explain the leap made by the prophets in these passages. As each contemplated his contemporary culture, which most perfectly embodied one element of the fallen cosmos, each felt compelled by the superintending Spirit of God to focus on the primeval angelic rebellion that animated the human rebellion he was denouncing. Thus these two diatribes that trace the wicked spirits of unprincipled greed and spiritual rebellion help explain why those spirits obtain so constantly throughout human history; and they anticipate the destruction prophetically chronicled in Revelation 17 and 18.
From Isaiah 14 and Ezekiel 28 emerges a rather extensive picture of Satan before his rebellion.
He was the most exalted beings of all creation (Ezek. 28:13, 15), the grandest of all God's handiwork, a radiant celestial being who most perfectly reflected the splendor of His Maker. Thus he was appropriately called Lucifer. The word comes from a Hebrew root meaning "to shine" and is used only here as a title to reference the star that shines most brightly, that resists the rising sun most heartily. The name Lucifer has become widely used as a title for Satan before his rebellion because the King James Version translators borrowed the Latin equivalent in this verse. In fact, it is difficult to know whether the term was intended as a proper name or simply as a descriptive phrase.
Ezekiel stated that this exalted angel was "in Eden, the garden of God" (28:13). The reference is not to the earthly Eden that Satan invaded to tempt mankind but to the throne room where God dwells in absolute majesty and perfect purity (cf. Isa. 6; Ezek. 1). Ezekiel 28 also calls that place "the holy mountain of God," where Lucifer walked "in the midst of the stones of fire" (v. 14). These descriptions are not appropriate to the eartly Eden, but they fit the throne room of God as represented elsewhere in Scripture.
Satan is denominated "the anointed cherub that covereth (protects) (v 14). Cherubim are the highest rank of angelic authority, and their role is symbolically to guard the throne of God. (Compare the carved cherubim flanking the ark of the covenant-the throne of King Yahweh-in the tabernacle or Temple, Ex. 25:18-22; Heb. 9:5; cf Gen. 3:24; Ezek. 10:1-22.) Lucifer was anointed (consacrated) by the deliberate decree of God (Ezek. 28:14, "I have set thee (established you) to the unspeakably holy task of guarding the throne of the all-glorious Creator. He is described as a being endowed with matchles beauty, clothed in radiant light, equipped with limitless wisdom and capacity, but also created with the power to make real moral decisions. Thus Satan's most basic moral obligation was to remain loyal to God, to remember always that no matter how exalted his station, he was nonetheless a creature.
At this point we encounter one of the deepest mysteries of the moral universe as revealed in Scripture: How came sin to enter the universe? It is clear that sin entered in connection with Satan's rebellion, but how did the wicked impulse arise in the heart of one created by a perfectly holy God? In the face of such a cunundrum, we must acknowledge that the secret things do, in fact, belong to God; but what stands revealed belongs to us (Dt. 29:29) And three such clearly revealed realities deserve to be emphasized.
First, Lucifer's fall was a result of his bottomless, wicked determination to usurp the glory that belongs to God alone. This fact is made explicit in a series of five "I will" statements recorded in Isaiah 14:13-14. Herein lies the essence of sin-the desire and determination to live as if the creature were more important than the Creator.
Second, Satan is entirely and exclusively responsible for his wicked choice. There is an inscrutable dimension to this. Some have argued that God must share the responsability for this (and every other) crime because, if He had desired to do so, He could have created a world where such rebellion was impossible. Others say had God created such a lockstep world, it could not have included moral agents made in God's image and possessing the power to make real choices-and thus to choose to worship and love God. There is truth in that observation, but there is mystery also. The record makes it clear that pride caused Lucifer to fall into an awful snare (Isa. 14:13; Ezek. 28:17; 1 Tim. 3:6) but nothing explains how such damning pride could arise in the heart of an unfallen and perfect creature of God.
However, there is no mystery as to whether Satan is fully and justly responsible for his crime. Ezekiel 28:15 states explicitly that Lucifer was perfect from the day he was created, "till iniquity was found in thee." The moral culpability is his and his alone. Indeed, the Bible affirms throughout that God sovereignly rules the moral universe and causes all things-even the wickedness of men and angels-to answer to His perfect purposes but that God must not and will not be regarded as responsible for that wickedness in any sense.
Finally, by reason of his rebellion, Satan became the archenemy of God and of all that is godly. His fall-and that of those spirits who joined him-is irreversible; there is no hope of redemption. Satan has been finally and irretrievably disfellowshipped by a holy God. To be sure, the Devil still has access to the judicial throne room of the universe in his divinely assigned role as accuser of the brethren (Job 1-2; Zech. 3; Lk. 22:31; Rev. 12.:10); but it is access absent of community with or acceptance by God. By reason of treachery, which was the most awful in the history of the cosmos, Satan and his angels can anticipate only condemnation and eternal punishment (Mt. 25:41).
© The Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry
God gave mankind dominion over the earth and thereby established a theocracy as the world's original form of government (Gen. 1:26-29). In a theocracy, God's rule is administered by a representative. God appointed the first man, Adam, to be His representative with the responsibility to administer God's rule over the earthly province of God's universal Kingdom.
Not long after this appointment, Satan induced Adam and Eve to join him in his revolt against God (Gen. 3:1-13). As a result, mankind fell away from God, and the theocracy vanished from the earth. In addition, through Adam's defection, Satan usurped the rule of the world system away from God; and Satan and his forces have been ruling the world system ever since. Several factors reveal this tragic transition.
Denial of Divine Revelation
Satan had authority to offer the rule of the world system to whomever he wished, including Jesus Christ, because that authority had been handed to him by Adam (Lk 4:5-6). For this reason, Jesus called Satan the "prince" (literally, "ruler") of this world (Jn.14.30). John said the whole world lies in wickedness (1 Jn. 5:19), and James declared that whoever is a friend of the present world system is the enemy of God (Jas. 4;4)
Thus far in history, Satan's rule over the world system has been an invisible, spiritual dominion that instigates worldviews and philosophies contrary to ultimate reality. Scripture reveals that in the future, Satan will try to convert that invisible, spiritual dominion into a permanent, visible, political kingdom-rule of the whole world. To accomplish that goal, Satan must induce the world to move toward the unification of mankind under a one-world government. He must also condition the world to accept an ultimate political ruler who will possess unique powers and make great claims about himself.
Through the secular humanistic emphasis of the southern phase of the Renaissance and some emphases of the Enlightenment, Satan undermined the biblical faith of significant parts of Protestantism and beliefs of Roman Catholicism and Orthodoxy. As a result, by the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the world was being told that no divine revelation of truth had been given to mankind.
However, the only way the existence of God; His nature; thoughts; ways; actions; and relationship to the universe, Earth and mankind can be known is through divine revelation of truth. Thus the denial of such revelation prompted many people of the 20th century to conclude that the personal, sovereign, creator God of the Bible does not exist; or, if He does exist, He is irrelevant to the world and mankind
This denial of divine revelation of truth has prompted radical changes of great consequences for society and the world. First, it has thrown many people into despair. God created human beings to need a personal relationship with Him for ultimate meaning and purpose in life. The conclusion that God does not exist or is irrelevant has caused a spiritual void inside people. That void leads to despair concerning attaining ultimate meaning and purpose in life. Satan offers witchcraft, spiritism, Satan worship, other forms of the occult, astrology, oriental mysticism, New Age concepts, drugs, some forms of music, and other demonic substitutes to fill that void and bring people under his influence.
Denial of Moral Absolutes
The denial of divine revelation of truth has prompted the denial of moral absolutes. The argument goes like this: If moral absolutes were not revealed by a sovereign God who holds individuals responsible for their actions, then the traditional moral absolutes must have been developed by mankind. And since mankind was the source of those absolutes, mankind has the right to reject, change or ignore them.
As a result of this faulty reasoning, society has experienced an incredible breakdown of morality. It rejects the idea that only heterosexual, marital relationships are moral; and it increasingly despises and threatens advocates of such a position. Movements are afloat to legally redefine the historic concept of marriage and force society to accept that redefinition, to abolish capital punishment for murderers, to abolish or redefine the family, and to protect the propagation of pornography.
The killing of unborn and partially born human beings already has bee legalized. Some insist that no moral issues are involved with assisted suicide, human cloning and the destruction of viable human embryos for the sake of of stem cell research. Lying and cheating are condoned. This moral breakdown threatens the foundation of society.
Denial of Objective Truth and Standards
The denial of divine revelation of truth has prompted the conclusion that there is no objective truth that is binding on all mankind. Each individual determines what is truth for himself or herself. Consequently, what is truth for one person is not truth for another, and truth has been made subjective and relative.
This reasoning has prompted the further conclusion that there is no objective standard by which a person can evaluate whether something is right or wrong, and no person can legitimately tell another what he or she has done is wrong. According to this reasoning, a person should never tell another that his or her lifestyle is wrong, even though that lifestyle may cause premature death. No one should ever tell teenagers they should abstain from sex until marriage. NO one ha the right to impose a concept of right or wrong on another.
This denial of objective truth and an objective standard of right and wrong is propagated through values clarification courses in grade schools, colleges and universities, the media, Internet, publications, some form of music and the entertainment industry. Some colleges and universities have adopted speech police to squelch any expression of objective right and wrong by faculty or students. Such action amounts to intolerant censorship. The denial of objective truth and objective standard of right and wrong has motivated some to advocate that parents be forbidden to spank their children for doing something the parents believe is wrong.
Redefinition of Tolerance
It also has prompted a movement to force society to accept a new concept of tolerance. The historic view of tolerance taught that people of differing opinion and practices were to live together peaceably. Individuals had the right to believe that a contrary opinion or practice was wrong and to express that belief openly; but they did not have the right to threaten, terrorize, or physically ham those whom they disagreed.
But tolerance has been redefined. The new concept asserts that to believe or openly express that an opinion or practice of a person or group is wrong amounts to a hate crime and should be punished by law. Powerful groups are pressuring the U.S. Congress to make this new concept federal law by passing a proposed anti-hate law. Since laws against threatening, terrorizing or physically harming people or groups holding different opinions and exercising different practices already exist it is obvious that the goal of this bill is to outlaw freedom of belief and speech. Passage of this bill will turn America into a police state comparable to those that adopted the Inquisition and Communism.
Because the world has been led to believe there is no objective truth binding on all mankind and no objective standard by which to evaluate whether something is right or wrong, it increasingly advocates that all gods, religions and ways must be accepted as equal; that all attempts to convert people from one religion to another should be stopped; and that exclusive claims of only one true God, one true religion and one way to heaven are a divisive form of bigotry. Religious pluralism is becoming the order of the day.
If there is no objective standard for determining right or wrong, then on what basis can a society or individual conclude that murder is wrong, including the murders of doctors who perform abortions or the mass murders at schools, businesses, or other public places? Perhaps some of those violent acts are the result of their perpetrators concluding that, since there is no objective standard of right and wrong, murder is right for them.
If Congress passes the anti-hate bill, will it be enforced on the proponents of that bill, since they want it passed because they believe and openly express that the opinions and practices of some other persons and groups are wrong? Will it be enforced on politicians who, in their campaign for election and in session of Congress, openly express their beliefs that opinions and practices of their opponents are wrong?
The Drive for Unity
The denial of divine revelation of truth has prompted the growing conviction that the goal of mankind should be unity. The Humanist Manifesto II states,
We find insufficient evidence for belief in the existence of a supernatural; it is either meaningless or irrelevant to the question of survival and fulfillment of the human race. As nontheists, we begin with humans not God, nature not deity. (1)
In light of this thought that salvation from total destruction depends on mankind itself, the Manifesto declares,
We deplore the division of humankind on nationalistic grounds. We have reached a turning point in human history where the best option is to transcend the limits of national sovereignty and to move toward the building of a world community in which all sectors of the human family can participate. Thus we look to the development of a system of world law and a world order based upon transnational federal government. (3)
Finally, it states,
Commitment to all humankind is the highest commitment of which we are capable; it transcend the narrow allegiances of church, state, party, class, or race in moving toward a wider vision of human potentiality. What more daring a goal for humankind than for each person to become, in ideal as well as practice, a citizen of a world community. (4)
The existence of international institutions, such as the World Court and the United Nations; the means for rapid travel and instantaneous communication; and the advancing internationalization of economics make the formation of a unified world community appear possible. The tremendous increase of violence, including the threat of worldwide terrorism, may drive civilization toward a unified world government for the sake of survival.
Deification of Mankind
The denial of divine revelation of truth has prompted a tendency to deify mankind. Thomas J.J. Altizer, one of the Protestant "God is dead" theologians of the 1960s, claimed that, since mankind has denied the existence of a personal God, it must as a race achieve human self-transcendence, which is "man-godhood." (5) Roman Catholic scholar Pierre Teilhard de Chardin taught that the god to be worshiped is the one who will arise out of the evolving human race. (6)
Through such changes prompted by the denial of divine revelation, Satan is seducing the world to move toward the unification of mankind under a one-world government and conditioning it to accept his ultimate political ruler, Antichrist, who will posses unique powers and claim to be God.
© The Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry
1 - Humanist Manifesto II, American Humanist Association, (www.americanhumanist.org)
2 - Ibid.
3 - Ibid.
4 - Ibid.
5 - John Charles Cooper, The Roots of the Radical Theology, Westminster, Philadelphia, 1967, p. 148
6 - Ibid., p. 156