“The Wiles of the Devil” series (post #2)
The Bible tells us quite a bit about angels, but it leaves certain parts of the story blank. First, it doesn’t tell us how many angels there are. Second, it doesn’t tell us when they were created, even though Job 38:1-7 indicates that it was sometime before Genesis 1:1. Third, it doesn’t tell us when Satan and his group of rebellious angels fell.
I think our best guess as to when Satan and his group fell is that it happened between the last verse of Genesis chapter 2 and the first verse of Genesis chapter 3. I say that because in Genesis 1:31 God looks at everything He has made and classifies it all as “very good.” Doesn’t that word “everything” have to include the angelic realm? And nothing happens in Genesis chapter 2 to upset that “very good” applecart. Then suddenly in Genesis 3:1 a talking serpent enters the story.
The Bible doesn’t even give us a blow-by-blow account of the angelic rebellion. Isaiah 14:12-14 hints at it in the context of Isaiah’s pronouncement of woe upon the king of Babylon. Similarly, Ezekiel 28:11-17 hints at it in the context of Ezekiel’s pronouncement of woe upon the king of Tyre. While each of these passages has a direct reference to the earthly king in question, each passage provides details that simply do not fit the king. Therefore, it seems that Isaiah and Ezekiel were not only prophesying against the kings, they were also prophesying against the power behind the kings. That power was Satan. So by pulling the relevant thoughts from the two passages, we learn the following about Satan:
- Satan’s angelic name is Lucifer, which means “shining one.” (Isaiah 14:12)
- He is a cherub angel. (Ezekiel 28:14)
- Like all the other angels, he was created in perfection. (Ezekiel 28:12,15)
- He was full of wisdom. (Ezekiel 28:12)
- He was perfect in beauty. (Ezekiel 28:12)
- He was associated with music. (Ezekiel 28:13)
- His great splendor caused him to become vain, proud, and ambitious. (Isaiah 14:13, Ezekiel 28:15,17)
- He wanted to be worshiped as God is worshiped. (Isaiah 14:14)
If these two passages were all we had to go on, we’d have to assume that Satan acted alone in his rebellion against God. However, there are other passages that teach that a group of Satan’s fellow angels joined him in his coup attempt. For example, in Matthew 25:41 Jesus speaks of an everlasting fire that is prepared for the devil and his angels. Likewise, Revelation 12:7 also mentions Satan’s angels. These other fallen angels are the “demons” described in the New Testament. Ephesians 6:11-12 is another passage that speaks of not only Satan but also the other fallen angels:
Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies and tricks of the Devil. For we are not fighting against people made of flesh and blood, but against the evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against those mighty powers of darkness who rule this world, and against wicked spirits in the heavenly realms. (New Living Translation)
And what percentage of the angels aligned themselves with Satan in his rebellion and consequently fell with him? The answer seems to be one-third. That percentage comes from Revelation 12:3-4, which symbolically describes Satan as a fiery red dragon whose tail drew a third of the stars of heaven and threw them to the earth. Since many stars are actually bigger than the earth, it’s obvious that the reference isn’t to literal stars. The correct interpretation seems to be then that it’s a reference to the number of angels who were cast out of heaven with Satan.
Okay, so what do we learn from all of this? We learn that one of Satan’s wiles is REBELLION. He wants to get his victims to rebel against God-sanctioned authority. He wants people to rebel against the authority of Jesus Christ (Romans 14:11; Philippians 2:5-11). He wants citizens to rebel against the authority of their government (Romans 13:1-7; 1 Peter 2:13-17). He wants workers to rebel against the authority of their employers (Ephesians 6:5-9; Colossians 3:22-25). He wants wives to rebel against the authority of their husbands (Ephesians 5:22-24; Colossians 3:18). He wants children to rebel against the authority of their parents (Ephesians 6:1-3; Colossians 3:20). He wants church members to rebel against the authority of their pastors (Hebrews 13:7,17,24). Satan himself was the original rebel, and he’s still in rebel mode. According to Revelation 12:7-12, he’ll even lead his angels in a second war against heaven at the middle of the coming tribulation period.
And so I’ll close this post by giving you a simple warning: Beware of allowing Satan to somehow ensnare you with his wile of rebellion. What he knows that you might know is that a rebel will never fully submit to Jesus Christ. Oh, that rebel might go to church. He might read the Bible. She might pray. I suppose a rebel can even be a true Christian. But what a rebel won’t do is give Jesus the kind of authority that He demands over every corner of life. That kind of submission, you see, is what separates the spiritual “real McCoys” from the spiritual wannabes, and it’s the kind of submission that Satan works hard to keep people from giving to Jesus.