Satan

In my last post I considered how evil entered humanity through Adam and Eve’s disobeying God as a result of Eve’s being tempted by Satan. In this post I’ll consider the one who tempted Eve, Satan or the devil. He is referred to in many passages of the Bible but none gives a full account of him. Thus what the Bible tells about him can only be ascertained by combining scattered references from throughout the Bible. I’ll present some of them in four sections dealing respectively with his rebellion against God, his temptation of Eve, his present activity, and his final fate. Because Bible texts comprise so much of this post, I’ll give them in a public domain version of the Bible, the perrenially popular King James Version (KJV).

Satan’s Rebellion against God

Satan and his followers are angelic beings who were created good but became evil by rebelling against God. Their fall is referred to in Revelation 12:3-4 and suggested by Isaiah 12:12-14 and Ezekiel 28:11-15.

Revelation 12:3-4

3 And there appeared another wonder in heaven; and behold a great red dragon, having seven heads and ten horns, and seven crowns upon his heads.
4 And his tail drew the third part of the stars of heaven, and did cast them to the earth: and the dragon stood before the woman which was ready to be delivered, for to devour her child as soon as it was born.

Isaiah 12:12-14
12 How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations!
13 For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north:
14 I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High.

Ezekiel 28:11-15
11 Moreover the word of the LORD came unto me, saying,
12 Son of man, take up a lamentation upon the king of Tyrus, and say unto him, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Thou sealest up the sum, full of wisdom, and perfect in beauty.
13 Thou hast been in Eden the garden of God; every precious stone was thy covering, the sardius, topaz, and the diamond, the beryl, the onyx, and the jasper, the sapphire, the emerald, and the carbuncle, and gold: the workmanship of thy tabrets and of thy pipes was prepared in thee in the day that thou wast created.
14 Thou art the anointed cherub that covereth; and I have set thee so: thou wast upon the holy mountain of God; thou hast walked up and down in the midst of the stones of fire.
15 Thou wast perfect in thy ways from the day that thou wast created, till iniquity was found in thee.

Although Isaiah 12:12-14 and Ezekiel 28:11-15 are addressed respectively to the kings of Babylon and of Tyre, they seem to transcend any earthly ruler and to picture Satan in his original position as a high angel and in his rebellion against God. The passage in Isaiah suggests that the reason for Satan’s rebellion was his being lifted up in pride. Since Genesis 1:31 says “God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold it was very good,” some wonder how pride could have arisen in Satan. The same question could be asked about Adam and Eve’s disobeying God.

Revelation 12:3-4 suggests that the rebellion involved a third of the angels. Apparently their eternal destiny was determined individually by their participating in the rebellion against God or remaining loyal to Him when the rebellion occurred. This suggests that at the rebellion something occurred in the angels who didn’t rebel that enabled them to remain loyal to God from then on. It seems likely that the same kind of change will take place in the inhabitants of the new earth.

Satan’s Temptation of Eve

Genesis 3:1-5, 14-15 describes Satan’s temptation of Eve to disobey God and his punishment by God for tempting her:

1 Now the serpent was more subtle than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?
2 And the woman said unto the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden:
3 But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die.
4 And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die:5 For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.
14 And the LORD God said unto the serpent, Because thou hast done this, thou art cursed above all cattle, and above every beast of the field; upon thy belly shalt thou go, and dust shalt thou eat all the days of thy life:
15 And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.

Although the serpent is not identified as Satan in the above texts describing its temptation of Eve and punishment for tempting her, it is identifed as him in Revelation 12:9, “And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil and Satan, who deceived the whole world.” God’s telling Satan “It [the woman’s seed] shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel” points to the conflict between Jesus Christ and Satan in which Jesus overcame Satan (Hebrews 2:14; 1 John 3:8) but was bruised by him.

Satan’s Present Activity

Between his rebellion against God and his being cast into hell, Satan has waged, wages, and will continue to wage war against God despite his power having been broken by the victory of Jesus Christ on the cross which he spoke of in John 12:31, “Now is the judgment of this world: now shall the prince of this world be cast out.” Here are some New Testament passages that refer to that war:

Mark 1:13 – And he {Jesus] was there in the wilderness forty days, tempted of Satan; and was with the wild beasts; and the angels ministered unto him.

Luke 13:16 – [Jesus is answering the objection of the ruler of a synagogue about his healing a disabled woman on the Sabbath.] And ought not this woman, being a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan hath bound, lo, these eighteen years, be loosed from this bond on the sabbath day?

Luke 22:31 – And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat:

Acts 5:3 – But Peter said, Ananias, why hath Satan filled thine heart to lie to the Holy Ghost, and to keep back part of the price of the land?

1 Corinthians 7:5 – [Paul is addressing husbands and wives.] Defraud ye not one the other, except it be with consent for a time, that ye may give yourselves to fasting and prayer; and come together again, that Satan tempt you not for your incontinency.

2 Corinthians 4:4 – In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.

2 Corinthians 12:7 – And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure.

Ephesians 2:1-2 – 1 And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins: 2 Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience:

Ephesians 6:11-12 – 11 Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. 12 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.

1 Thessalonians 2:18 – Wherefore we would have come unto you, even I Paul, once and again; but Satan hindered us.

1 Thessalonians 3:5 – For this cause, when I could no longer forbear, I sent to know your faith, lest by some means the tempter have tempted you, and our labour be in vain.

2 Thessalonians 2:9 – Even him [the AntiChrist], whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders,

Hebrews 2:14 – Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil;

I Peter 5:8 – Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:

God remains in control during this war and, as illustrated in the book of Job, allows Satan to attack us only within set limits. However the evil manifested and the suffering experienced during the war have prompted some to question God’s allowing it to continue so long and even whether He will ultimately prove victorious in it. Theologians answer that God He is delaying His final judgment against Satan and his followers to demonstrate further such attributes as His love.

Satan’s Final Fate

On the return of Jesus Christ in glory Satan will be bound for a thousand years. After the thousand years he will be loosed for a short while and lead a final effort to overthrow God, but he will be defeated and cast into Hell forever. This is described in Revelation 20:2-3, 7-10:

2 And he [an angel] laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand years,
3 And cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal upon him, that he should deceive the nations no more, till the thousand years should be fulfilled: and after that he must be loosed a little season.
7 And when the thousand years are expired, Satan shall be loosed out of his prison,
8 And shall go out to deceive the nations which are in the four quarters of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them together to battle: the number of whom is as the sand of the sea.
9 And they went up on the breadth of the earth, and compassed the camp of the saints about, and the beloved city: and fire came down from God out of heaven, and devoured them.
10 And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever.

Next week I’ll resume sharing from Randy Alcorn’s “If God Is Good: Why Do We Hurt?” booklet, considering its section “What Causes Natural Disasters?” (pages 22-24).

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