In my last post I looked at the account of the Fall of man. The book of Genesis records Satan (which means ‘accuser’) in the guise of a serpent orchestrating this tragedy. But this raises an important question: Why would God create a ‘bad’ devil (which means ‘adversary’) to corrupt His good creation?
Lucifer – The Shining One
In fact the Bible records that God actually created a powerful, intelligent, and beautiful angelic being (the chief among all angels) called Lucifer (meaning ‘Shining One’) – and that he was very good. But Lucifer also had a will with which he could freely choose. A passage in Isaiah 14 records the choice before him.
How you have fallen from heaven,
morning star, son of the dawn!
You have been cast down to the earth,
you who once laid low the nations!
You said in your heart,
“I will ascend to the heavens;
I will raise my throne
above the stars of God;
I will sit enthroned on the mount of assembly,
on the utmost heights of the North.
I will ascend above the tops of the clouds;
I will make myself like the Most High.” (Isaiah 14:12-14)
Lucifer, like Adam, had a choice. He could accept that God was God or he could choose to decide that he would be god unto himself. His repeated “I wills” show that he chose to defy God and declared himself to be ‘Most High’. A passage in Ezekiel gives a parallel account of the fall of Lucifer:
You were in Eden, the garden of God.
… I ordained and anointed you
as the mighty angelic guardian.
You had access to the holy mountain of God
and walked among the stones of fire.
“You were blameless in all you did
from the day you were created
until the day evil was found in you.
… and you sinned.
So I banished you in disgrace
from the mountain of God.
I expelled you, O mighty guardian,
from your place among the stones of fire.
Your heart was filled with pride
because of all your beauty.
Your wisdom was corrupted
by your love of splendor.
So I threw you to the ground. (Ezekiel 28:13-17)
Lucifer’s beauty, wisdom and might – all the good things created in him by God – led him to pride. His pride led to his rebellion and fall, but he never lost (and thus still retains) any of his power and traits. He is leading a cosmic revolt against his Creator to see who will be God. His strategy was to enlist mankind to join him – by tempting them to succumb to the same choice that he made – to love themselves, become autonomous from God, and defy Him. The heart of the test of Adam’s will was the same as Lucifer’s; it was just arrayed with a different garb. They both chose to be ‘god’ to themselves. This was (and is) the ultimate ‘god delusion’.
Satan – working through others
The passage in Isaiah is directed to the ‘King of Babylon’ and the Ezekiel passage is addressed to the ‘King of Tyre’. But from the descriptions given, it is obvious that no human is addressed. The “I wills” in Isaiah describe a being who was cast to the earth in punishment for wanting to place his throne above the stars of God. The passage in Ezekiel addresses one who is an ‘angelic guardian’ who once moved in Eden and the ‘mountain of God’. This tendency of Satan (or Lucifer) to position himself behind or through someone else is consistent. In the Genesis fall he speaks through the serpent. In Isaiah he rules through the King of Babylon, and in Ezekiel he possesses the King of Tyre.
Why did Lucifer revolt against God?
But why would Lucifer want to defy and usurp the rule of the One omniscient and omnipotent Creator? An important aspect of being ‘smart’ is to know whether or not you can defeat a potential opponent. Lucifer may have had (and still has) power, but even his limited creature-power would have been insufficient for a successful revolt against His Creator. So why risk all and go for something he could not win? I would think that a ‘smart’ angel would have recognized his limitations pitted against Omniscience & Omnipotence combined – and held back his revolt? So why didn’t he? This question puzzled me for many years.
What helped me was to realize that Lucifer could only come to the conclusion that God was His omnipotent Creator by faith – the same as for us. Let me explain. The Bible associates the origin of angels with the first week of creation. We see this in Isaiah 14 above, but this is consistent through the Bible. So for example a creation passage in Job tells us:
Then the LORD spoke to Job out of the storm. He said…
“Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation?
Tell me, if you understand….
while the morning stars sang together
and all the angels shouted for joy? (Job 38:1-7)
Picture Lucifer being created and becoming conscious sometime in creation week, somewhere in the cosmos. All he knows is that now he exists and is self-aware, and there is also another Being who claims to have created him and all the cosmos. But how does Lucifer know that this claim is true? Perhaps, this alleged creator popped into existence in the cosmos just before Lucifer had popped into existence. And because this ‘creator’ arrived earlier on the scene, so to speak, he was (perhaps) more powerful and (perhaps) more knowledgeable than he was – but then again perhaps not. Could it be that both he and the alleged creator had both popped into existence? Lucifer could only accept God’s Word to him that He had created Him and that God himself was eternal and infinite. And in his pride he chose to believe the fantasy that he had birthed in his own mind.
You might think it fanciful that Lucifer would believe that both he and God (and the other angels) just ‘popped’ into existence. But this is the same basic idea behind the latest and greatest of modern cosmology. There was a cosmic fluctuation of nothing – and then out of this fluctuation arose the universe – that is the essence of modern atheistic cosmological speculations. Fundamentally, everyone – from Lucifer to Richard Dawkins & Stephen Hawkings to you & I – must decide by faith whether the universe is self-contained or was brought forth and is sustained by a Creator.
In other words, seeing is not believing. Lucifer would have seen and conversed with God. But he still would have had to accept ‘by faith’ that God had created him. Many people tell me that if God would just ‘appear’ to them then they would believe. But through the Bible, many people saw and heard God – that was never the issue. But the crux of the issue was whether they would accept and trust His Word about Himself and themselves. From Adam & Eve, to Cain & Abel, to Noah, to the Egyptians at the first Passover, to the Israelite crossing of the Red Sea all the way to those who saw the miracles of Jesus – ‘seeing’ never resulted in trust. The fall of Lucifer is consistent with this.
What is the Devil doing today?
So God did not make a ‘bad devil’, but created a powerful and intelligent angelic being who through his pride has led a revolt against God – and in so doing was corrupted (while still retaining) his original splendor. You, I, and all of mankind have become part of the battleground in this contest between God and his ‘adversary’ (devil). The strategy on the part of the devil is not to go about in sinister black cloaks like the ‘Black Riders’ in the Lord of the Rings and put evil curses on us, but with his retained splendor he simply seeks to deceive us from the redemption that God has signaled at the beginning of time, through Abraham, through Moses, and then accomplished in the death and resurrection of Jesus. As the Bible says:
Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. It is not surprising, then, if his servants also masquerade as servants of righteousness. (2 Corinthians 11:14-15)
Because Satan and his servants can masquerade as ‘light’ we are more easily tricked. This is why understanding the Gospel for ourselves is so vitally important.