The Adversary (Part 1)

The more one understands about an opponent, the better prepared one is to deal with an opponent.  Consider: (1) This is true in sports.  Teams spend a great deal of time studying video of opponents.  They want to understand strengths and weaknesses, tendencies and tactics.  They want to minimize surprises.  (2) This is true in debate.  One is greatly helped, if one knows the arguments, answers, words, and tactics used in the past by an opponent.  This minimizes surprises.  (3) This is true in military.  It is said that during a battle in North Africa, General George Patton shouted, “I read your book, Rommel!  I read your book!”  Field Marshal Erwin Rommel had written a book, Infantry Attacks, which was published in 1937.  This book revealed much about Rommel’s thinking and tactics.  Patton knew the enemy, and this led to success in battle.  (4) This is also true spiritually.  the more we understand about the Adversary, the better prepared we can be.

His Origin

Some believe that Ezekiel 28:1-19 speaks of his origin.  He was created (Ezekiel 28:13, 15).  He was created perfect (Ezekiel 28:15).  He was the anointed Cherub (Ezekiel 28:14).  He was in the garden of Eden (Ezekiel 28:13).  He sinned (Ezekiel 28:15-19).

However, the context concerns the prince or King of Tyre (Ezekiel 28:1-2, 11-12).  The terms “prince” and “king” are sometimes used as synonyms (cf. Psalm 76: 12).  This is about man (Ezekiel 28:2, 7-10).

Highly figurative language is used in Ezekiel 28.  The King of Tyre is compared to: (a) Adam living in Eden (Ezekiel 28:13).  He was surrounded by beauty.  (b) The anointed Cherub (Ezekiel 28:14a).  He was the protector, the guardian of the paradise in which he lived.  (c) One on the holy mountain of God (Ezekiel 28:14b).  He was in fellowship with God.  However, due to pride and sin he was cast out of the holy mountain (Ezekiel 28:2, 5, 16-17).  The sword would kill him (Ezekiel 28:7-10).  Babylon is in view, coming against him (Ezekiel 26:7; 29:18).

Some believe that while this is primarily about the King of Tyre, the King’s downfall is being compared to the downfall of Satan.  I suppose that it is possible.  However, I see nothing which demands this view. Some may infer it, but the text does not imply it.

The Bible does not clearly address the origin of Satan.  However, Satan does not seem to possess the characteristics of deity.  Wayne Jackson writes, “The devil is clearly not omnipotent as is evident by the following: (a) His power to afflict was limited (Job 1:12; 2:6); (b) When rebuked by the messenger of Jehovah, he had to remain silent (Zechariah 3:2); …  (d) He had to ‘ask’ for the apostles (Luke 22:31); (e) He can ‘snatch’ no one from the Lord’s hand (John 10:28)…  (g) When cast into hell he will be powerless to resist (Revelation 20:10).  Moreover, scripture affirms that He is in us (i.e., God) is greater than he (i.e. the devil) that is in the world (1 John 4:4) to sum it up: (1) Deity is all-powerful.  (2) But Satan is not all-powerful.  (3) Thus, Satan is not deity” (Jackson, The Book of Job, p. 107).  Bert Thompson writes, “The only possible conclusion one can reach regarding Satan is that he is not deity.  But such a conclusion has serious implications.  If Satan does not partake of the nature of deity, then he cannot be eternal.  Then, he must be a created being” (Thompson, Satan – His Origin and Mission, p. 9).

All things created were created by God through His Word (Jesus).  Consider: “For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers.  All things were created through Him and for Him” (Colossians 1:16); “All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made” (John 1:3).

His Fall

1. Some believe that Isaiah 14:12-15 speaks of Satan’s fall.  He’s referred to as “Lucifer” (from the Hebrew root halal meaning “to shine,” the Latin term “Lucifer” adopted from Jerome’s Latin Vulgate means “light-bearing”).  He wanted to ascend above all.  He wanted to be like the Most High (Isaiah 14:13-15).  He would be brought down (Isaiah 14:12, 15).

However, the context concerns the King of Babylon (Isaiah 14:3-4).  It is about a man (Isaiah 14:16).

Some believe that while this is primarily about the King of Babylon, the King’s downfall is being compared to the downfall of Satan.  I suppose that it is possible.  However, nothing in context demands this view.  Some may infer this, but it is not implied.

2. Some believe that Luke 10:17-18 speaks of Satan’s fall.  Jesus says, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven” (Luke 10:18).

However, the context does not refer to Satan’s original fall.  The context concerns the mission of the seventy (Luke 10:1, 17).  H. Leo Boles comments, “With a prophetic eye Jesus saw the downfall of Satan.  The demons being subject to the seventy gave the occasion for Jesus to utter this prophecy” (Boles, A Commentary on The Gospel According to Luke, pp. 219-220).  This foresees Satan’s defeat. Jesus saw him falling quickly from power, as lightning falls from the sky.

3. It seems likely that Revelation 12:7-9 is a flashback to Satan’s fall.  Though, we must be careful.  The book of Revelation is a book of symbols (Revelation 1:1). Some well-respected Bible students are not so sure that Satan’s original fall is in view.

Consider these facts: (1) The Bible speaks of the devil and his angels (Matthew 25:41).  (2) Some angels did sin (Job 4:18; 2 Peter 2:4; Jude 6).  (3) The devil has sinned from the beginning (1 John 3:8).  Guy Woods and Roy Lanier Jr. suggests this most likely means that he was the first to sin (Woods, A Commentary on Peter, John and Jude, p.267; Lanier, Epistles of John, p. 91).  (4) Pride seems to have led to his fall (1 Timothy 3:6).  It seems reasonable to conclude that the devil was a heavenly being (perhaps an angel) who rebelled against God.  Bert Thompson writes, “Since the scripture speaks of ‘the devil and his angels,’ it becomes reasonable to suggest that Satan was either the instigator, or leader (or both) of this heavenly revolt” (Thompson, Satan – His Origin and Mission, pp. 12-13).

Did God Create Evil?

If, by “evil,” one means sinful behavior, the answer is “no” (cf. James 1:13-14, 17).  Rex Turner Sr. writes, “God did not create evil, nor did he make or cause Satan to be evil” (Turner, Systematic Theology, p. 78).  Bert Thompson writes, “God did not create Satan as an evil adversary; rather, Satan became evil” (Thompson, Satan – His Origin and Mission, p. 9).

What about Isaiah 45:7?  “Evil” (KJV) refers to “calamity” (NKJV).  It refers to punishment to come upon Babylon (Isaiah 47:10-11).

Why Allow Satan’s Continued Influence?

We are not told why God allows Satan’s continued influence.  I am sure that He has His reasons.  “T. Pierce Brown has proposed, God may have ‘allowed Satan to retain his power, temporarily, until he is through using him to test and purify a people for his ultimate glory and purpose'” (Thompson, Satan – His Origin and Mission, p. 19).

About Bryan Hodge

I am a minister and missionary to numerous countries around the world.
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3 Responses to The Adversary (Part 1)

  1. sonshine410 says:

    The Adversary (Part 1),(Part 2)&(Part 3) is very thorough. Want to print it for the auditorium class.of whom only a few have access to social media. Thank you Bryan and the other brethren whom you quoted.

  2. Bryan, sonshine410 is my WordPress account where a blog is being attempted with the title:
    LIFE IN THE LIGHT OF CHRIST. My email is sonnybalch@gmail.com. Also on FACEBOOK where I first came in contact with you on the BROWN TRAIL P.T.S. site. I was a deacon for Brown Trail when we established the school and a third year graduate.Learned much under Roy Deaver and other instructors. Still learning more from scholarly men after 47 years of preaching. Thank you again for the benefits from your good work. Your fellow laborer, Nolan E. “Sonny” Balch

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