People ask where did the devil come from? The Arabic folklore says, it came from fire. Did God create an evil being? The Bible explains the true answers to these questions. From the last topic, “Who is Satan?” we learned how Satan influenced mankind and became the enemy of God, His believers and the humankind. Now we try to trace Satan’s origin and to do that, we have to search what the Bible tells before God created the heavens and the earth – Genesis 1:1.
In the first verse, we notice that there is no evidence that Satan is included in the creation. The Bible doesn’t tell the whole story in one or several verses, but we find the details elsewhere in the Bible.
In the Old Testament, Job was a righteous follower and perfect in the eyes of God. But in spite of all this, he was beset with sufferings and trials, and from there he began to question the judgment of God. God answered with questions to help him realize that he didn’t have the wisdom to question God. God said, “Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation?” God asked him. “Tell me, if you understand. Who marked off its dimensions?…On what were its footings set, or who laid its cornerstone—while the morning stars sang together and all the angels shouted for joy?” (Job 38:4-7, NIV). From here, we found that when God created everything, angels were already present as they were shouting for joy upon seeing the marvelous creation of God. Where is the devil here?
Genesis 1:2 tells us that, after its creation, “the earth was without form, and void.” The English translation doesn’t convey the meaning of the original Hebrew. The words tohu va-bohu, translated “without form and void,” are better translated “waste and void” (Young’s Literal Translation). However, in Isaiah 45:18, God expressly says of the earth that He “did not create it in vain.” Here the same Hebrew word, tohu, is used. If God did not create the earth in a state of waste, how did it come to be in that condition?
Part of the answer is indicated in Genesis 1:2. The Hebrew word hayah, translated “was,” can also properly be translated “became,” as it is translated in Genesis 2:7 and 19:26. The earth was not created waste and void but became that way at some point after its creation. In Rotherham’s Emphasized Bible, Genesis 1:2 appropriately reads, “Now the earth had become waste and empty.” The Genesis account does not tell us the entire story, particularly, what had happened between the first two verses.
Did the Bible give us details in other books and chapters regarding what brought about this condition of waste and confusion? In 2 Peter 2, the Bible records several examples of God’s judgment for wrong doing. Verses 5 and 6 discuss the Flood of Noah’s time and the later fiery destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. But before this, in verse 4, we read that “God did not spare the angels who sinned, but thrust them down into Tartarus [a condition of restraint], and delivered them into chains of darkness, being reserved for judgment” (Modern King James Version). (ταρταρόω ) tartaroo – From Τάρταρος Tartaros̄ (the deepest abyss of Hades); to incarcerate in eternal torment: – cast down to hell.
When did these angels sin, and what was their sin? We must look at other verses to find the answer. Jude 6 gives us additional details: “And the angels who did not keep their positions of authority but abandoned their own home—these [God] has kept in darkness, bound with everlasting chains for judgment on the great Day” (NIV).
The abandonment of the so called home means those angels left the place and position God had given them. They were there during the creation, but after they rebel against God, they “prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven.” (Rev. 12:8)
Isaiah 14 shows the angelic rebellion. In verse 4, God addresses the “king of Babylon” and during the time of Prophet Isaiah, Babylon was becoming a major power in that region of the world. Its king was trying to expand his empire through brute force and war. He enslaved, plundered and devastated the nations around him. The king of Babylon here is wicked because he acquires wealth and power at the expense of others, gaining it through violence and bloodshed, exemplifying the characteristics of Satan. Indeed, as we will read more about later, Satan is the real power behind the throne of the world’s kingdoms (compare Luke 4:5-7; John 12:31; Revelation 12:9; 13:2).
In verse 12, the subject shifts from the physical king to a ruler who is yet higher. Many scholars recognize that the original language of this passage is in the form of a lament, a reflection of God’s mourning and sense of great loss due to the events being described: “How you are fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! How you are cut down to the ground, you who weakened the nations! For you have said in your heart: ‘I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God; I will also sit on the mount of the congregation on the farthest sides of the north; I will ascend above the heights of the clouds, I will be like the Most High’” (verses 12-14). This explains the fall of an angel called son of the morning. He tried to become the Most High – God.
Who is this angel who dares to exalt himself above the other angels (stars symbolize angels, Revelation 1:20) of God, to challenge God Himself as ruler of the universe? In Ezekiel 28 God gives us the answer. This chapter is written much like Isaiah 14. In Ezekiel 28:2, God addresses the “prince of Tyre.” Tyre, a coastal port city north of ancient Israel on the Mediterranean Sea, was famous as a major trading center. Its rulers had grown conceited because of their wealth and influence. In verses 6-10 God tells this ruler that because of his arrogance, his might and wealth would fail and he would be overthrown. In verse 12, God suddenly begins to address “the king of Tyre” rather than the prince. This figure is the true ruler, the real power behind the throne.
God’s description of this “king of Tyre” makes it clear that He is speaking to no physical human being: “You were the seal of perfection, full of wisdom and perfect in beauty. You were in Eden, the garden of God; every precious stone was your covering: the sardius, topaz, and diamond, beryl, onyx, and jasper, sapphire, turquoise, and emerald with gold. The workmanship of your timbrels and pipes was prepared for you on the day you were created” (verses 12-13).
No man could accurately be described as being “the seal of perfection, full of wisdom and perfect in beauty.” This entity was created—unlike human beings who are born rather than created. This being had also been “in Eden, the garden of God.” In the next verse God mentions some of the history of this being: “You were the anointed cherub who covers; I established you; you were on the holy mountain of God; you walked back and forth in the midst of fiery stones” (Ezekiel 28:14).
What do these remarkable statements mean? What is a “cherub who covers”? Hebrews 8:5 tells us that the tabernacle established through Moses—the portable sanctuary the Israelites carried with them in their desert wanderings—was “a copy and shadow of what is in heaven” (NIV). Exodus 25:18-20 explains that God commanded Israelite to make a representation—a physical model—of His throne for the tabernacle they would carry with them in the wilderness. At either side of the “mercy seat,” which represented God’s throne, was a golden cherub with wings extended to cover the mercy seat. The two cherubim, fashioned out of gold, represented real angelic beings—the great superangels whose wings cover God’s throne.
The being God addressed through Ezekiel is called the “cherub who covers,” indicating that he had once been one of the great angels depicted in the model of God’s throne. God gave these angels the awesome distinction of serving at and covering the very throne of God in heaven.
Many other scriptures say that God “dwells between the cherubim,” showing that these wondrous creatures accompany and serve Him at His seat of power (1 Samuel 4:4; 2 Samuel 6:2; 2 Kings 19:15; 1 Chronicles 13:6; Psalm 80:1; Isaiah 37:16).
This same great cherub is also described as being “on the holy mountain of God.” In the Bible, “hills” and “mountains” are often used to symbolize governments (see Revelation 17:9-10). Apparently this super angel was given authority in the governance of other angels, who number in the hundreds of millions (see Daniel 7:9-10; Revelation 5:11).
God also says to this cherub, “You were perfect in your ways from the day you were created, till iniquity was found in you” (Ezekiel 28:15). Like the description in Isaiah 14, this passage describes a created being, not a man. This being was extraordinary, perfect until he sinned, beginning with pride in his own beauty and splendor, which corrupted his wisdom (Ezekiel 28:17).
“…You were filled with violence, and you sinned. So I drove you in disgrace from the mount of God, and I expelled you, O guardian [or 'covering,' NKJV] cherub, from among the fiery stones” (verse 16, NIV). This once marvelous being sinned and was expelled from God’s throne, cast away in disgrace.
Satan’s sin of pride and vanity ultimately led to outright and open rebellion against God. Isaiah 14:13-14, which we read earlier, states: “You said in your heart, ‘I will ascend to heaven; I will raise my throne above the stars [angels] of God; I will sit enthroned on the mount of assembly, on the utmost heights of the sacred mountain. I will ascend above the tops of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High’” (NIV).
As shown, the angel, star of the morning, who had been a beautiful and powerful spirit being and angel rebelled against Almighty God. God did not create the devil – SATAN. What God created was a perfect angel, whom through his own will and iniquity became the devil and Satan, the enemy of God and all mankind. By his rebellion against his Creator, he transformed himself into Satan the devil. Satan’s power did not vanish nor reduce. He continuously possess it until now, not to serve God but to serve his own will, for wickedness.
Satan possess this ability to deceive even his own kind. When he rebelled against God, he encourage other angelic beings to be on his side to reject God’s authority and leadership. This was described in symbols in Revelation 12:3-4: “And another sign appeared in heaven: behold, a great, fiery red dragon…His tail drew a third of the stars of heaven and threw them to the earth.” Verse 9 identifies this dragon as Satan. As we read before, the Bible uses stars as a symbol for angels (Revelation 1:20). This indicates that a third of the angels followed Satan in this rebellion and were cast down to the earth with him. They did not win against God and the rest of the angels who did not follow.
The Bible refers to Satan and the other rebellious angels as evil spirits, unclean spirits and demons. They are fallen angels—who had fallen from their purpose of serving God and humanity (Hebrews 1:13-14). In Scripture, they are shown to be able to not only influence but even possess people (that is, exercise direct control over their bodies and actions). Such demonic control can cause people to exhibit violent and self-destructive behavior (Matthew 8:28; 17:14-18; Acts 19:14-16; Luke 8:27-33).
God’s servants are not to be fearful on such demonic influence. While there are many evil spirits, they are fewer in number and inferior in power to God’s faithful angels, who are “ministering spirits sent to serve those who will inherit salvation” (Hebrews 1:14). Christians are to be confident because “God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind” (2 Timothy 1:7).
A strong mind spiritually focused to God’s way of life is the best way to resist demonic influence. Faithful servants of God are to be filled with His Spirit (Ephesians 5:18), enabling them to resist such influence so that evil spirits are forced to flee (James 4:7).