Our lives are dominated by satan until conversion, and influenced by satan thereafter, but the bible explicitly says very little about him. We meet him in Genesis 3, learn a bit more in Isaiah 14:12-14 and Ezekiel 28:12-18, he appears in the NT to tempt Christ and indwell Judas, and then there’s the big finish in Revelation. Paul and Peter mention a bit more but you get the idea. So what do we know about satan, AKA the devil, the beast, and as originally named, Lucifer?
I read Ezekiel 28 yesterday. An interesting picture came to my mind. In the chapter, the writer pens a prophecy for the Prince of Tyre and a lament for the King of Tyre. Tyre was and still is a city, located in Lebanon according to present day borders. It was a hotbed of commerce but also a place of dirty dealings and unscrupulous merchants. There was great wealth. Wherever there is wealth, greed, commerce and power, satan is at hand to stir the pot.
At God’s behest, Ezekiel condemned all this in his prophecy for the Prince of Tyre in verses 1-10. In verses 3-4, Ezekiel wrote
you are indeed wiser than Daniel; no secret is hidden from you; by your wisdom and your understanding you have made wealth for yourself, and have gathered gold and silver into your treasuries;
The reference to being smarter than Daniel is a sarcastic comment. It is sort of like saying, ‘Nice job, Einstein!’ The inference is that the ruler of Tyre is being scolded for thinking he, himself, had accumulated great wealth by his own intellect and wisdom. He was being warned not to say he is a god.
The tone continues like that until verse 10, with the ruler of Tyre being reprimanded and warned against his sins. The prophecy was that God would send fierce enemies to smite him, if the ruler of Tyre didn’t shape up.
Then halfway through the chapter, the heading changes to “A lament over the King of Tyre.” What? Are these two different rulers of Tyre being warned? It seems so at first but then the language of the verses in 11-19 don’t totally reflect that. In verse 13 read that he was in Eden, and in verse 14 we read that the King of Tyre was an anointed guardian cherub on the holy mountain of God. In verse 15 it was said he was blameless in his ways since he was created (not born). Ezekiel’s language reflects the fact that the warnings have shifted from a prophecy against a human ruler of the earthly city of Tyre, to the celestial influence of the heavenly fallen angel Lucifer, a king with power behind the ruler of Tyre.
Prophecy is a warning as to what will happen. A lament is a grief over what has already occurred. These are obviously two different messages to two different beings.
What struck me was the tie between the two, again as reflected in the language. The prince of Tyre, or as in other translations, ruler, was charged with the same sins as satan was in Isaiah 14. Tyre’s ruler was prideful (v. 2a), thought himself a god (v. 2b), enjoyed occupying the high throne (v. 2c) and above all his prideful, deceitful heart is mentioned four times within six verses.
The ruler is charged “by your great wisdom in your trade you have increased your wealth…” (v. 5)
Satan is charged with the same: “In the abundance of your trade you were filled with violence in your midst, and you sinned;” (v.18b)
The ruler of Tyre is charged thus: “Because your heart is proud,”
And satan, the king of Tyre is charged with the same: “Your heart was proud because of your beauty;” (v.17).
Both were charged with having corrupted their wisdom (v. 5 and v. 17b).
From this chapter we can gather important information. Earthly rulers can be and are heavily influenced by satan. Some even say that the ruler of Tyre was indwelled by satan. This act is not unprecedented. Satan indwelled Judas and it is interpreted in Revelation 13 that he is prophesied to indwell the coming antichrist, when he again (and finally) pridefully occupies a throne and calls himself God.
The picture that came to my mind when pondering the fall of the ruler of Tyre and the fall of the King of Tyre is … magnets.
If you do not have the Holy Spirit in you by having repented and believed on the name of Jesus Christ, then you are influenced to one degree or another by satan. (2 Corinthians 4:4). Of that verse, Sam Storms wrote,
“Before we ever arrive on the scene with the gospel, Satan is exerting a stupefying influence on the mind of the unbeliever.”
As a kid, did you ever put a magnet on a table, and put your hand underneath the table with another magnet of same poles, and drag the magnet around on the table by seeming magic? It can be said that the two parts of Ezekiel of the tension between the Prince of Tyre and the King of Tyre are two magnets. Satan is wielding a stupefying influence on the ruler of Tyre, and the ruler of Tyre is taking on more and more of satan’s attributes. He cannot free himself from the pull of satan nor escape his magnetism, as satan first draws and and then drags the ruler around.
On the surface of the table, it seems that one magnet is going around of its own free will, here and there. But what is really happening is that underneath the table another, unseen force is influencing the upper magnet’s actions and movements. That is what satan does to the unsaved.
There is no way for the unbeliever to withdraw from the magnet’s pull. Only if the unseen magnet goes away, will the other magnet be free to roll around where it will go.
Once a believer is saved, the poles reverse. Turning that unseen magnet over, the draw toward will become a push away. There is nothing you can do to force the two magnets together, but satan still tries.
Satan is anything but a passive, innocent bystander. Although he may be invisible to the eye and undetected by physical means, you may rest assured that he is present, employing every imaginable device (and some unimaginable) to undermine the integrity of God’s people and to sow seeds of discord and confusion.”
The Holy Spirit is what makes the difference. Oh, satan will still be around, but if you resist Him, and the Spirit helps you do that, He will flee away.
So how do the OT verses in Ezekiel help us today? The prophecy came to pass and the prince of Tyre is gone. Yet there are lessons for us as there are in the entire word of God, whether Old Testament or New.
–Do we think more highly of ourselves than we ought?
–Do we think that we have earned success by our own wisdom?
–Is our heart proud? Remember, that charge was leveled the most frequently against both the earthly ruler and against satan. A proud heart is a dangerous thing to carry.
–Have we made an idol of our achievements, possessions, or perceived power?
–Did we properly acknowledge our Holy God for all we are and all we have?
So that’s my thought for today on what I’ve read recently! Your thoughts and insights are welcome. Let’s praise our Holy God that He delivered this wisdom of the bible to us and that we live in a free place where we can read it, pray over it and discuss it all openly and with proper honor to the worthy One!