By Elizabeth Prata
Satan fell. (Isaiah 14:12, Ezekiel 28:11-19). We do not know when, because the timeline for God’s creation of the universe and all its beings (including angels) is not specifically mentioned in scripture. We know that they were already created when God created the world, because they praised God for it. (Job 38:6-8). We know none of them had fallen by the conclusion of the sixth day when God saw all that he had made, and declared it very good.
By the time of Genesis 3, satan was a fallen, evil, sinful creature. Revelation strongly intimates that he caused a third of his cohorts to fall with him. (Revelation 12:4).
What happened? How did satan get this way?
Lucifer, the highest and most beautiful
There aren’t a huge number of verses describing satan before or after his fall, but beyond Genesis 3, the main texts are in Ezekiel, Isaiah, and Revelation. The longest passage about Satan before his fall is found in Ezekiel 28 beginning at verse 11 and going through to verse 19. His name is actually Lucifer, one of three named angels (Michael and Gabriel being the other two).
Moreover, the word of the Lord came to me: “Son of man, raise a lamentation over the king of Tyre, and say to him, Thus says the Lord God:”
In the above verse from Ezekiel 28:11 we read about the ‘King of Tyre.’ In the immediately previous passage we read a lament over the prince of Tyre. These two laments are normally interpreted as the prince being the human ruler of Tyre, with satan being the evil force behind the prince, influencing the prince to do evil. We also learn that Satan was in the garden of God, and is a class of angel called a cherub.
A cherub, or plural, cherubim, according to the ATS dictionary is
an order of celestial beings or symbolical representations often referred to in the Old Testament and in the book of Revelation. The cherubim are variously represented as living creatures, Ezekiel 1:1-28 Revelation 4:1-11; or as images wrought in tapestry, gold, or wood, Exodus 36:35 37:7 Ezekiel 41:25; as having one, two, or four faces, Exodus 25:20 Ezekiel 10:14 41:18; as having two, four, or six wings, 1 Kings 6:27 Ezekiel 1:6 Revelation 4:8
You were the signet of perfection,
full of wisdom and perfect in beauty.
You were in Eden, the garden of God;
every precious stone was your covering,
sardius, topaz, and diamond,
beryl, onyx, and jasper,
sapphire, emerald, and carbuncle;
and crafted in gold were your settings
and your engravings.
On the day that you were created
they were prepared.
You were an anointed guardian cherub.
I placed you; you were on the holy mountain of God;
in the midst of the stones of fire you walked.
Apparently Lucifer was beautiful, adorned with precious stones and radiating perfection. His job was to guard God at the highest of the highest places, His throne. It was the highest honor.
When we read the descriptions of the cherubim, they are definitely not the cherubs we have unfortunately been presented with in our culture since the Renaissance. They are not tiny chubby babies with rosy cheeks and stunted wings. They are depicted in art and carvings in the Temple as majestic, powerful, and mysteriously beautiful. They are described below in words in 2 Peter 2:10-11 as majestic and powerful.
Peter’s verse opens with noting that the false prophets blaspheme angels all the time. But even evil angels have a majesty and a dignity because they transcend time, are empowered by God, and they see His face. Before his fall, satan was the highest of these dignities. Afterward, though he is now the very embodiment of evil, he still retains a dignity that is beyond humanity. That’s what the verse is saying here:
Bold and willful, they [false prophets] do not tremble as they blaspheme the glorious ones, whereas angels, though greater in might and power, do not pronounce a blasphemous judgment against them before the Lord.
Continuing in Ezekiel 28, sadly, the beauty and power Lucifer was given caused pride in his heart. He became polluted with sin.
You were blameless in your ways
rom the day you were created,
till unrighteousness was found in you.
In the abundance of your trade
you were filled with violence in your midst, and you sinned;
What does the ‘abundance of your trade’ mean? It is said that wickedness was found in him and through his “widespread trade” he was filled with violence. In this case, the widespread trade does not mean economic traffic. Does one believe there were shops in heaven, with checkouts and money exchanged? No, surely not!
The phrase widespread trade comes from the Hebrew word r’kullah, the main word rakil, meaning slander.
Satan went on a whispering campaign against God, the same as he did later to Eve (“Hath God said? Genesis 3). He went around abundantly and ceaselessly to the angels, whispering that God was a tyrant, He was egotistical, He was withholding from them the good stuff, whatever that was. With Eve we know satan insinuated God was withholding the knowledge of good and evil. Whatever satan said to the 1/3 of the heavenly host that ended up following satan, it was lies and we know that he was a liar from the beginning.
“You are of your father the devil, and you want to do the desires of your father. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth because there is no truth in him. Whenever he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies.” (John 8:44).
Devil means slanderer. Satan wanted something else besides God so much that he slandered God’s character to get it. What was it that he wanted?
Isaiah 14:12-13 has the answer.
You said in your heart,
‘I will ascend to heaven;
above the stars of God
I will set my throne on high;
I will sit on the mount of assembly
in the far reaches of the north;
14 I will ascend above the heights of the clouds;
I will make myself like the Most High.’
Lucifer wanted to be like God. And isn’t that what he tempted Eve with?
For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, (Genesis 3:5a)
Fallen, but still under God’s authority
The punishment of satan’s evil, declaring rebellion in his heart against God was to be cast down from heaven. Ezekiel 28 continues the story:
so I cast you as a profane thing from the mountain of God,
and I destroyed you, O guardian cherub,
from the midst of the stones of fire.
Your heart was proud because of your beauty;
you corrupted your wisdom for the sake of your splendor.
I cast you to the ground;
I exposed you before kings,
to feast their eyes on you.
By the multitude of your iniquities,
in the unrighteousness of your trade
you profaned your sanctuaries;
so I brought fire out from your midst;
it consumed you,
and I turned you to ashes on the earth
in the sight of all who saw you.
Isaiah mentions the fall, too:
12 How you are fallen from heaven,
O Day Star, son of Dawn!
How you are cut down to the ground,
you who laid the nations low!
15 But you are brought down to Sheol,
to the far reaches of the pit.
However as we see from Job and 1 Kings 22, satan and his cohorts to this day still have access to heaven. (Job 1 or 1 Kings 22) They still appear to God in heaven. They still stalk the heavenlies and strut in the holy place. God allows this for His sovereign purposes. However, satan and his evil cohorts operate only within the limits God sets. The ones that did not, who stepped out of their first estate and went beyond God’s limits, are chained in the abyss. (Jude 1:6). The remaining ones pursuing evil on the earth have a horror of being put into the abyss. (Luke 8:31), so they remain disobediently obedient.
In another example of the evil angels still having access to heaven, we see that God used a lying spirit to deceive Ahab, (2 Chronicles 18:18-22).
So is it sure that as of now, Satan and his demons come and go in heaven as well as on earth. However, one day the door to heaven will be shut and satan and his 1/3 of the evil host will be denied access to heaven permanently. More on this in the next part, Satan’s End!
Lucifer means light-bearer, shining one, morning star, (Strong’s Hebrew 1966).
Satan means adversary (Strong’s Greek 4567) or accuser. Out of the 18 times we read the word satan in the Old Testament, 14 of those refer to the fallen angel Lucifer in the book of Job.
Satan opposes the proclamation of the gospel and therefore opposes God’s people, especially pastors and preachers. Satan opposes God by snatching away the seed (the word) that was sown in people’s hearts (Mark 4:15 ; Luke 8:12). He also thwarts God’s people as in the example of stopping Paul from traveling to Thessalonica (1 Thessalonians 2:18).
Devil means (as it is used in the verse from Jude 1:9,
diábolos (from 1225 /diabállō, “to slander, accuse, defame”) – properly, a slanderer; a false accuser; unjustly criticizing to hurt (malign) and condemn to sever a relationship.