Again in Matthew 4, Jesus had his final test against Satan in the wilderness. The Evil One took Jesus to the top of a very high mountain. They looked out over all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. The devil then said to Jesus,
“All these things will I give you, if you will go down on your face and give me worship.”
We learn from this two things: first, that the devil actually has power on earth to be able to offer the world to Jesus. Second, that he is depravedly arrogant to think that he could get Jesus to bow and worship him.
Then Jesus said to him, “Away, Satan: for it is in the writings, give worship to the Lord your God and be his servant only.”
Jesus again referenced Deuteronomy 6, quoting Moses who at the time was providing his final instructions to the Israelites on the border of Canaan, before they entered to take hold of it as the Promised Land from God.
[Moses said] “Fear the Lord your God, serve him only and take your oaths in his name. Do not follow other gods, the gods of the peoples around you; for the Lord your God, who is among you, is a jealous God and his anger will burn against you, and he will destroy you from the face of the land.”
It then says after failing in his final temptation against him, Satan left Jesus. How did Satan, one of many devils, come to have power over this earth to be able to make such an offer to Jesus? We are given the following understanding of Satan’s story over several books of the Bible.
The angels were created before God created the earth.
Then the Lord spoke to Job out of the storm. He said, “Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation… and all the angels shouted for joy?” (Job 38:1,4,7)
There are at least three different classes of angels.
- Archangels, one of whom we know is named Michael (Jude 1:9), were made as messenger angels. The only other angel mentioned by name is Gabriel and we are not told that he is an archangel, however, because it said that he “stands in the presence of God” (Luke 1:19), and delivers messages for God, such as letting Zechariah know that he was to become the father to John the Baptist, it has been traditionally thought that he too is an archangel.
- Cherubs – plural cherubim – were made as guardian angels. Cherubim with flaming swords were set at the entrance to the Garden of Eden after Adam and Eve were banished for eating from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. This was to protect them from being tempted to re-enter Eden and eat from the Tree of Life, thus gaining the ability to live forever in the sinful state they were now in (Genesis 3:22-24). Cherubim were carved out of gold and set on top of the Ark of the Covenant, covering the Ark with their outstretched wings (Exodus 25:17-22). Likewise, giant cherubim were made out of olive wood and covered in gold, then placed in Solomon’s Temple in the innermost room (1 Kings 6:23-28). This represents the cherubim who guard the temple and throne of God, which is between two cherubim in heaven (Psalm 99:1). Each of the cherubim have four faces: that of a cherub [in Ezekiel 1:10, it is described as the face of an ox], a human being, a lion, and an eagle. They also have hands under their wings (Ezekiel 10:8,14).
- Serephs – plural Seraphim – were made to fly above God’s throne and constantly glorify and praise God by singing “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory.” They have six wings; with two wings they cover their faces, with two they cover their feet, and with two they fly (Isaiah 6:2-3). It is thought that they cover their face because, being so close to God, his full glory is too powerful to behold, and they cover their feet as they are considered unclean.
It is believed, but also hotly debated because of an introductory reference to the King of Tyre, that Satan was a cherub angel.
Because the verses so accurately describe Satan’s fall from grace, it is reconciled to be a dual prophecy, comparing the pride of the King of Tyre, the Phoenician city now Lebanon, who worshipped the god Baal, to the pride of Satan.
This is what the Sovereign Lord says: “In the pride of your heart you say, “I am a god… You were the seal of perfection, full of wisdom and perfect in beauty. You were in Eden, the garden of God… You were anointed as a guardian cherub, for so I ordained you. You were on the holy mount of God; you walked among the fiery stones. You were blameless in your ways from the day you were created till wickedness was found in you. Through your widespread trade you were filled with violence, and you sinned. So I drove you in disgrace from the mount of God, and I expelled you, guardian cherub, from among the fiery stones. Your heart became proud on account of your beauty, and you corrupted your wisdom because of your splendor. So I threw you to the earth; I made a spectacle of you before kings.” (Ezekiel 28:12-17)
It is also believed, but hotly contested, that Satan’s name was Lucifer first.
This comes from the King James version of the Bible, however, none of the other versions use this name.
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! (Isaiah 14:12).
In Hebrew, Lucifer is written הֵילֵל and transliterates to “Hillel,” “Helel,” or “Heylel.” It was written with the consonants HYLL, derived from the root HLL, which means “to shine.” Various texts describe the meaning of the name Lucifer as “son of the morning,” “shining one,” “brightness,” “star of the morning,” “day star,” “bright star,” and “son of the dawn.”
The reason it is contested whether that was Satan’s original name is due to the fact that the word “lucifer” was also used in the past to refer to the planet Venus, the morning star; third brightest object in the sky after the sun and moon. Venus, when visible as a pre-dawn star, serves as a herald of the soon approach of sunrise. One resource I read claims that Venus was originally a feared comet that twice made contact with the earth before settling into its cometary orbit as a planet, and thus the violence of that event reminded people of Satan’s fall to earth with his fallen-angel followers, thus associating the name Lucifer with Satan.
It was pride and arrogance that was Satan’s undoing, as it is for people today.
Beware the thinking that is becoming prevalent that we are gods ourselves, or are on the same level as God to criticize him in arrogance.
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 Mount Zaphon. I will ascend above the tops of the clouds. I will make myself like the Most High. But you are brought down to the realm of the dead, to the depths of the pit.” (Isaiah 14:12-15).
John witnessed a war in heaven that occurred before the earth was made.
John, one of Jesus’ 12 apostles and the only one not to die a martyr’s death, was given a vision of both the past and future, accounted in the book of Revelation. Satan is depicted as a fiery red dragon, having seven heads (representing Rome, the city built upon seven hills), ten horns (representing ten kingdoms), and seven [crowns] on his heads (representing seven forms of government). John saw the dragon’s tail grab one third of the stars of heaven, representing a third of the angels that followed Satan, and threw them to the earth.
And war broke out in heaven: Michael and his angels fought with the dragon; and the dragon and his angels fought, but they did not prevail, nor was a place found for them in heaven any longer. So the great dragon was cast out, that serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was cast to the earth, and his angels were cast out with him (Revelation 12:7-9).
After Satan’s dismissal from heaven he became our accuser and adversary.
We are told that Satan prowls around the earth like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour (1 Peter 5:8-9). He masqueraded as a snake to deceive Eve in the Garden of Eden to eat from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil (Genesis 3). We are told he also can pretend to be an angel of light and his fallen angels, now devils, can masquerade as servants of righteousness (2 Corinthians 11:14-15). The prophet Zechariah was given a vision of Joshua, the high priest who offered atonement for the Israelites’ sin, standing before the angel of the Lord with Satan standing at his right side to accuse him (Zechariah 3:3). After seeing his vision of the angelic war in heaven, John heard a voice that said,
“…The accuser of our brethren, who accused them before our God day and night, has been cast down.” (Revelation 12:10)
The angels must appear before God to give an account to him of their activities.
It is said that Satan came to one of these meetings, confirming that he still has access to God’s throne room even after his fall as a guardian angel.
One day the angels came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came with them. The Lord said to Satan, “Where have you come from?” Satan answered the Lord, “From roaming throughout the earth, going back and forth on it.” (Job 1:6-7)
God allows Satan to test us, but the limit of what he can do is within God’s control.
Then the Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil.” “Does Job fear God for nothing?” Satan replied. “Have you not put a hedge around him and his household and everything he has? You have blessed the work of his hands, so that his flocks and herds are spread throughout the land. But now stretch out your hand and strike everything he has, and he will surely curse you to your face.” The Lord said to Satan, “Very well, then, everything he has is in your power, but on the man himself do not lay a finger.” (Job 1:8-12)
John was given a vision of the future, when an angel is given authority by God to bind Satan from doing anything on earth for 1,000 years.
And I saw an angel coming down out of heaven, having the key to the Abyss and holding in his hand a great chain. He seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the devil, or Satan, and bound him for a thousand years. He threw him into the Abyss, and locked and sealed it over him, to keep him from deceiving the nations anymore until the thousand years were ended. After that, he must be set free for a short time. (Revelation 20:1-3).
When the 1,000 years are over Satan will be released to gather all the people who are still against God. Then those people will be destroyed and Satan will be removed from earth forever.
When the thousand years are over, Satan will be released from his prison and will go out to deceive the nations in the four corners of the earth… to gather them for battle… They marched across the breadth of the earth and surrounded the camp of God’s people, the city he loves [Jerusalem]. But fire came down from heaven and devoured them. And the devil, who deceived them, was thrown into the lake of burning sulfur, where the beast and the false prophet had been thrown. They will be tormented day and night for ever and ever. (Revelation 20:7-10).
Satan knows his time is short now.
He is filled with fury because he knows that his time is short (Revelation 12:12).
He’s going to do everything he can to discredit God between now and then, so be prepared and ask God for wisdom to discern the devil’s lies.
If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you (James 1:5).