What Is the Origin of Satan and Demons?

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MP3 Audio (14.32 MB)


What Is the Origin of Satan and Demons?

MP3 Audio (14.32 MB)

Genesis 1:2 tells us that, after its creation, “the earth was without form, and void.” This English translation doesn’t adequately 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 this state, how did it come to be that way?

Part of the answer is indicated in Genesis 1:2. The Hebrew word hayah, translated “was,” can also be translated “became,” as it is translated in Genesis 2:7 and Genesis 19:26. The earth was not created waste and void but became that way. In Rotherham’s Emphasized Bible, Genesis 1:2 appropriately reads, “Now the earth had become waste and empty.”

God created the earth in such beauty that the angels rejoiced (Job 38:1-7). But something happened to bring it to a condition of devastation. God then reshaped it, forming it into a beautiful home for the first man and woman, as recorded in the remainder of Genesis 1.

But the Genesis account doesn’t tell us the entire story. God gives additional details in other chapters of the Bible regarding what brought about this condition of waste and confusion.

A rebellion against God

In Isaiah 14 we find more information—reference to an angelic rebellion and its leader.

In Isaiah 14 :4 God addresses the “king of Babylon.” In Isaiah’s time Babylon was emerging as the major power in that region of the world. Its king was a warmonger who enslaved, plundered and devastated the nations around him.

In Isaiah 14:12 the subject shifts from the physical king to a ruler who is yet higher. Many scholars recognize that the language here is in the form of a lament, a reflection of God’s mourning due to the events being described:

“How you are fallen from heaven, O Lucifer [Hebrew Heylel, the Daystar], son of the morning! . . . For you have said in your heart: ‘I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God; . . . I will ascend above the heights of the clouds, I will be like the Most High’” (Isaiah 14:12-14).

Who is this being who dared 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. God begins by discussing a human ruler, then shifts to the spiritual power behind the earthly throne.

Here God addresses the “prince of Tyre,” Tyre being a major trading center north of Israel on the Mediterranean Sea. Its rulers had grown haughty because of their wealth and power. In Ezekiel 28:6-10 God tells Tyre’s ruler that because of his arrogance, his might would fail and he would be overthrown.

But notice in Ezekiel 28:12 that God begins to address “the king of Tyre” rather than the prince. This figure is the true power behind the throne. God’s description 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 . . .” (Ezekiel 28:12-13).

No mortal man could accurately be described as being “the seal of perfection, full of wisdom and perfect in beauty.” This created being (Ezekiel 28:13) had also been “in Eden, the garden of God.” Other than Adam and Eve, no people had been in the Garden of Eden!

The fall of a superangel

God then reveals more about this being: “You were the anointed cherub who covers; I established you; you were on the holy mountain of God . . .” (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).

In Exodus 25:18-20 we find that God instructed the Israelites to make a representation—a physical model—of His throne for the tabernacle they would carry with them in the wilderness. This was the Ark of the Covenant covered by the “mercy seat.”

Atop each 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 later temple of Solomon similarly had two large sculpted cherubim with wings extending over the ark and its mercy seat (Exodus 25:17-20; 1 Kings 6:23-28).

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” (see 1 Samuel 4:4; 2 Samuel 6:2; 2 Kings 19:15; 1 Chronicles 13:6; Psalm 80:1; Isaiah 37:16).

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 his pride in his own beauty and splendor 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 cherub, from among the fiery stones” (Ezekiel 28:16, NIV). This once marvelous being sinned and was expelled from God’s throne, cast away in disgrace.

Corrupted self—and others followed

This rebellious angel became Satan, meaning “adversary”—the enemy, opponent, antagonist or foe. Satan’s arrogance and vanity ultimately led to outright and open rebellion against God. This powerful spirit entity decided to challenge God for control of the universe!

What had been a beautiful, immensely talented spirit being became, through his rebellion, a reprehensible, despicable creature. What God created was a magnificent and perfect being. But this powerful being, by his own choices, became the devil and Satan—the adversary, the enemy of God and humanity!

Satan was not alone in this rebellion. Millions of other angels joined him. This is symbolically described 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.”

Revelation 12:9 identifies this dragon as Satan. 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.

We can see from this that angels were not preprogrammed automatons but were given the ability to think and make decisions on their own. Sadly, a large number chose poorly.

The Bible refers to Satan and the other rebellious angels as evil spirits, unclean spirits and demons. They are fallen angels—no longer serving God and humanity, but reduced to hatred and bitterness toward God and His purpose for humanity.

Thankfully, the rule of Satan and his demons will be lifted when Jesus Christ returns in power and glory! (To learn more, read our free study guide Is There Really a Devil?)

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