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Satan and the Bible
There is no full account of Satan given in any one place, and the Scripture teaching on this topic can only be ascertained by combining a number of scattered notices from Genesis to Apocalypse, and reading them in the light of patristic and theological tradition.
Almost absent in the Old Testament, the Devil is mentionned 188 times in the New Testament :
62 as a “demon”36 as “Satan”33 as the “Devil”37 as a “Beast”13 as a “Dragon”7 as “Belzeebuth”
Summary of the role played by Satan in the Scriptures
Satan is an angel (Job 1-2). God made him before the world began (Job 38:4-7). Satan was very powerful (Revelation 12:3: "ten horns") and very wise (Revelation 12:3: "seven heads"). But he became the first sinner (1 John 3:8). Apparently at one point in the past (or possibly future) he led a rebellion in heaven against God (Revelation 12:7). In Satan’s fall, he drew a vast number of angels with him (Revelation 12:4, 9). Some of the fallen angels are loose and some are bound in a place called the Abyss (Luke 8:31). The loose ones we call "demons". Of the bound ones, there are two kinds, permanently bound (2 Peter 2:4; Jude 6) and temporarily bound (Revelation 9:1-11). Satan and his demons now wage war against God’s kingdom (Revelation 12:17). Some people think that Satan lives in hell, but hell is where Satan and the wicked will be sent at the last judgment. Satan now dwells on earth (Job 1:7). At the Second Coming of Christ, he will be bound for 1,000 years (Revelation 20:1-3). After the thousand years, he will be set free for a short time and will go out to deceive the nations (Revelation 20:7-9). The devil’s final end will be in the lake of fire (Revelation 20:10), which was prepared by God for the devil and his angels (Matthew 25:41).
The perfect being"Son of man, take up a lamentation for the king of Tyre, and say to him, 'Thus says the Lord God: "You were the seal of perfection, full of wisdom and perfect in beauty. You were in Eden, the garden of God; every precious stone was your covering: The sardius, topaz, and diamond, beryl, onyx, and jasper, sapphire, turquoise, and emerald with gold. The workmanship of your timbrels and pipes was prepared for you on the day you were created. You were the anointed cherub who covers; I established you; you were on the holy mountain of God; you walked back and forth in the midst of fiery stones. 15 You were perfect in your ways from the day you were created, till iniquity was found in you. 16 By the abundance of your trading you became filled with violence within, and you sinned; therefore I cast you as a profane thing out of the mountain of God; and I destroyed you, O covering cherub, from the midst of the fiery stones. 17 Your heart was lifted up because of your beauty; you corrupted your wisdom for the sake of your splendor . . ." Ezekiel 28:12
Under the figure of "King of Tyrus," Ezekiel declares that this great created being "had the seal of perfection, full of wisdom, and perfect in beauty." Ezekiel 28:12–19 describes Satan’s original state as the anointed cherub who was not only a created being, but created perfect (vss. 12-13). He enjoyed the highest position and honor in the presence of God (28:14, 16). Further, Isaiah spoke of him as Lucifer, “star of the morning , son of the dawn” - Isaiah 14:12-15.He was on the holy mountain of God and every precious stone was his covering. He was set there as "the anointed covering cherub" by God and walked up and down in the midst of stones of fire. He was perhaps the appointed guardian of the holiness of God, probably over this original planet earth. The inspired record says, "Thou wast perfect in thy ways from the day that thou wast created, till iniquity was found in thee" - Ezekiel. 28:12-15.
But what exactly was the character or nature of Satan’s iniquity? As suggested by 1 Timothy 3:6-7 and Ezekiel 28:17, though created perfect by God (Ezek. 28:13-15), it was conceit or pride that welled up in his heart because of his beauty and high position that led to arrogant aspirations and to his sin and fall. In Isaiah 14:12-15 and in Ezekiel 28:12-19, we have a remarkable account of the original place which Satan once had as "Lucifer, son of the morning." His fall from this original, exalted place, of perhaps the greatest of created angelic beings, is given in these Scriptures. These arrogant aspirations are described for us in Isaiah 14:12-17 : pride, selfwill, iniquity, rebellion, and violence are the reasons. Because of his pride and aspirations to be like God, he became God’s chief adversary (Heb. Satan). After this, he is never again called by any of these prestigious titles. Instead, he is called by terms that reflect his fallen character and hostility to God and men, like liar, murderer, Satan (adversary), the evil one, Abaddon (destruction), Apollyon (destroyer), Belial (worthless), serpent, and dragon.
Scotus, however points out that this sin was not pride properly so called, but should rather be described as a species of spiritual lust.
Although nothing definite can be known as to the precise nature of the probation of the angels and the manner in which many of them fell, many theologians have conjectured, with some show of probability, that the mystery of the Divine Incarnation was revealed to them, that they saw that a nature lower than their own was to be hypostatically united to the Person of God the Son, and that all the hierarchy of heaven must bow in adoration before the majesty of the Incarnate Word; and this, it is supposed, was the occasion of the pride of Lucifer.
Furthermore, we learn from Ezekiel 28 that Lucifer engaged in a multitude of traffic, which means "going about." He filled heaven with violence and sinned. "Thou has defiled thy sanctuaries by the multitude of thine iniquities, by the iniquity of thy traffic"
Thus Lucifer instigated violence and rebellion among the heavenly hosts before man was created, and those who followed him became his angels or demons. Seeking to overthrow God and rule heaven, Lucifer assembled an army of apostate angels and initiated a war in heaven.
In the book of Revelation we read about a war in heaven between Michael and the angels who remained loyal to God and the dragon, "called the Devil, and Satan," and his angels. Then Satan and his angels were defeated by Michael, and were thrown down from heaven to hell.
“And there was war in heaven, Michael and his angels waging war with the dragon. And the dragon and his angels waged war, and they were not strong enough, and there was no longer a place found for them in heaven. And the great dragon was thrown down, the serpent of old who is called the devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him.” Revelation 12:7-9
The Five “I Wills” of RebellionIsaiah points us to five “I wills” coming from the proud and boastful heart of Satan that describe the nature of his aspiration (Isa. 14:13-14). In each of these “I wills” Satan pitted his will against the will of God. He substituted his will for God’s will and, significantly, these five statements expressed by Satan manifest the very essence of sin: it is the will of the creature set against the will and appointment of the Creator.
I will ascend to heaven.
I will raise my throne above the stars of God.
I will sit on the mount of the assembly in the recesses of the north.
This describes Satan’s ambition to control all the affairs of the universe as the assembly of Babylonian gods supposedly did. Often in Scripture, mountain and hills refer to authority or the right to rule.
Isaiah 2:2 reads, “Now it will come about that in the last days, the mountain of the house of the Lord will be established as the chief of the mountains, and will be raised above the hills; and all the nations will stream to it.”
This anticipates Messiah’s rule or kingdom, called here “the mountain of the house of the Lord,” and all the other kingdoms, mountains and hills, will be under His kingdom (see also Ps. 48:2). So this third “I will” of Satan expressed his determination to rule over the affairs of the entire created universe.
I will ascend above the heights of the clouds.
According to Exodus 16:10 and Revelation 19:1, clouds are often associated with God’s glory and presence. This “I will” expressed Satan’s desire to usurp the glory that belonged to God. Pentecost writes:
“When Lucifer said, “I will ascend above the heights of the clouds,” he was saying, “I will take to myself a greater glory than belongs to God Himself.” You will remember that Ezekiel described the beauty and the glory that belonged to Lucifer in terms of the sun shining on polished gems. But the glory that belonged to Lucifer was not inherently his; it was a reflected glory. God, who is the author of glory, God, who is the all glorious One, revealed his glory through the work that came from His hand.… How insane the thinking of this one that he could add glory to the infinite glory of God. It suggests that there was a deficiency in the glory of God and that Lucifer could complete that which was lacking.…”
I will make myself like the Most High.
Lucifer was not satisfied with the exalted place he had in the creation of God. Ezekiel says, "Thine heart was lifted up because of thy beauty, thou hast corrupted thy wisdom by reason of thy brightness" (Ezek. 28:17). So he purposed to exalt himself and his throne and aimed to be like God Himself. Note the contradiction in Satan’s own thinking here. To become like God was first of all to admit that he was not God. He was only a created being, one created by the Creator.
Here his counterfeit is crystal clear. Satan wanted to be like, not unlike, God. The name Elyon for God stresses God’s strength and sovereignty (Gen. 14:18). Satan wanted to be as powerful as God. He wanted to exercise the authority and control in this world that rightfully belongs only to God. His sin was a direct challenge to the power and authority of God.
In the future, at the end of the Tribulation, an angel will descend from heaven with the key of the abyss and with a great chain in his hand (Rev. 20:1). The fact he has the key and the chain shows he has been given authority and power from heaven to carry out this assignment. This angel will then lay hold of the dragon, the serpent of old, who is the devil and Satan and will bind him for a thousand years. The emphasis here is that this angel, operating under God’s authority and with His power, will possess the strength necessary to seize, hold firmly, and restrain the devil and bind him in the abyss for a thousand years with no possibility of escape.
“Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven, having the key to the bottomless pit [abussou] and a great chain in his hand. He laid hold of the dragon, that serpent of old, who is the Devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years; and he cast him into the bottomless pit [abusson], and shut him up, and set a seal on him, so that he should deceive the nations no more till the thousand years were finished. But after these things he must be released for a little while. “Revelation 20:1
“So it will happen in that day, that the Lord will punish the host of heaven on high, and the kings of the earth on earth. They will be gathered together like prisoners in the dungeon, and will be confined in prison; and after many days they will be punished.”Isaiah 24:21
Revelation 19 describes the battle between the forces of the Antichrist and Yeshua at the end of this age. After the defeat and destruction of "the beast" and "the false prophet," the Bible reveals that Satan himself will be captured and imprisoned for a thousand years.
“And when the thousand years are ended, Satan will be loosed from his prison and will come out to deceive the nations which are at the four corners of the earth, that is, Gog and Magog, to gather them for battle; their number is like the sand of the sea. And they marched up over the broad earth and surrounded the camp of the saints and the beloved city; but fire came down from heaven and consumed them, and the devil who had deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and sulphur where the beast and the false prophet were, and they will be tormented day and night for ever and ever.”Revelation 20:7
During the millennial kingdom Satan will be bound, but at the close of that period he will be released and will attempt to lead the world in a final revolt against Christ’s kingdom. Finally God will cast Satan into the lake of fire and brimstone where he will be tormented for ever and ever Revelation.
Satan operates on EarthScripture describes this present time in which we live as an evil age and Satan is called “the god of this world,” Eph. 5:16; 2 Cor. 4:4. On several occasions, Satan is revealed to be the ruler or god of this present age and the world system that dominates our present world.
Now judgment is upon this world (Greek, kosmos); now the ruler of this world shall be cast out. John 12:31
I will not speak much more with you, for the ruler of the world (Greek, kosmos) is coming, and he has nothing in Me. John 14:30
and concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world (Greek, kosmos) has been judged. John 16:11
in whose case the god of this world (aiwn, “age”) has blinded the minds of the unbelieving 2 Corinthians 4:4
In which you formerly walked according to the course (aiwn) of this world (kosmos), according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. Ephesians 2:2
In his temptation of Christ, Satan declared, “I will give You all this domain and its glory; for it has been handed over to me, and I give it to whomever I wish” (Luke 4:5). Of course, God is sovereign and omnipotent, but in accord with God’s eternal purposes, as discussed previously, the Bible does teach us that this present world is Satan’s domain and under his authority.Jesus saved us from SatanThe apostle John tells us: "for this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil." Jesus says: "Fear not; I am the first and the last: I am he that liveth, and was dead; and behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of Hades and of death" (Rev. 1:17,18).
According to the Catholic Church, Christ delivered men from the bondage of Satan by the victory of the Cross and at the same time paid the debt due to Divine justice by shedding his blood in atonement for our sins. In their endeavours to explain this great mystery, some old theologians, misled by the metaphor of a ransom for captives made in war, came to the strange conclusion that the price of Redemption was paid to Satan. But this error was effectively refuted by St. Anselm, who showed that Satan had no rights over his captives and that the great price wherewith we were bought was paid to God alone.
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