What Is the Origin of Satan and Demons?

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What Is the Origin of Satan and Demons?

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Genesis 1:2 Genesis 1:2And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was on the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved on the face of the waters.
American King James Version×
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 Isaiah 45:18For thus said the LORD that created the heavens; God himself that formed the earth and made it; he has established it, he created it not in vain, he formed it to be inhabited: I am the LORD; and there is none else.
American King James Version×
, 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 Genesis 1:2And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was on the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved on the face of the waters.
American King James Version×
. The Hebrew word hayah, translated “was,” can also be translated “became,” as it is translated in Genesis 2:7 Genesis 2:7And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.
American King James Version×
and Genesis 19:26 Genesis 19:26But his wife looked back from behind him, and she became a pillar of salt.
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. The earth was not created waste and void but became that way. In Rotherham’s Emphasized Bible, Genesis 1:2 Genesis 1:2And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was on the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved on the face of the waters.
American King James Version×
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 Job 38:1-7 1 Then the LORD answered Job out of the whirlwind, and said, 2 Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge? 3 Gird up now your loins like a man; for I will demand of you, and answer you me. 4 Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth? declare, if you have understanding. 5 Who has laid the measures thereof, if you know? or who has stretched the line on it? 6 Whereupon are the foundations thereof fastened? or who laid the corner stone thereof; 7 When the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy?
American King James Version×
). 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 Isaiah 14:12How are you fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how are you cut down to the ground, which did weaken the nations!
American King James Version×
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 Isaiah 14:12-14 12 How are you fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how are you cut down to the ground, which did weaken the nations! 13 For you have said in your heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also on the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: 14 I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High.
American King James Version×
).

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 Ezekiel 28:6-10 6 Therefore thus said the Lord GOD; Because you have set your heart as the heart of God; 7 Behold, therefore I will bring strangers on you, the terrible of the nations: and they shall draw their swords against the beauty of your wisdom, and they shall defile your brightness. 8 They shall bring you down to the pit, and you shall die the deaths of them that are slain in the middle of the seas. 9 Will you yet say before him that slays you, I am God? but you shall be a man, and no God, in the hand of him that slays you. 10 You shall die the deaths of the uncircumcised by the hand of strangers: for I have spoken it, said the Lord GOD.
American King James Version×
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 Ezekiel 28:12Son of man, take up a lamentation on the king of Tyrus, and say to him, Thus said the Lord GOD; You seal up the sum, full of wisdom, and perfect in beauty.
American King James Version×
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 Ezekiel 28:12-13 12 Son of man, take up a lamentation on the king of Tyrus, and say to him, Thus said the Lord GOD; You seal up the sum, full of wisdom, and perfect in beauty. 13 You have been in Eden the garden of God; every precious stone was your covering, the sardius, topaz, and the diamond, the beryl, the onyx, and the jasper, the sapphire, the emerald, and the carbuncle, and gold: the workmanship of your tabrets and of your pipes was prepared in you in the day that you were created.
American King James Version×
).

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 Ezekiel 28:13You have been in Eden the garden of God; every precious stone was your covering, the sardius, topaz, and the diamond, the beryl, the onyx, and the jasper, the sapphire, the emerald, and the carbuncle, and gold: the workmanship of your tabrets and of your pipes was prepared in you in the day that you were created.
American King James Version×
) 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 Ezekiel 28:14You are the anointed cherub that covers; and I have set you so: you were on the holy mountain of God; you have walked up and down in the middle of the stones of fire.
American King James Version×
).

What do these remarkable statements mean? What is a “cherub who covers”? Hebrews 8:5 Hebrews 8:5Who serve to the example and shadow of heavenly things, as Moses was admonished of God when he was about to make the tabernacle: for, See, said he, that you make all things according to the pattern showed to you in the mount.
American King James Version×
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 Exodus 25:18-20 18 And you shall make two cherubim of gold, of beaten work shall you make them, in the two ends of the mercy seat. 19 And make one cherub on the one end, and the other cherub on the other end: even of the mercy seat shall you make the cherubim on the two ends thereof. 20 And the cherubim shall stretch forth their wings on high, covering the mercy seat with their wings, and their faces shall look one to another; toward the mercy seat shall the faces of the cherubim be.
American King James Version×
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 Exodus 25:17-20 17 And you shall make a mercy seat of pure gold: two cubits and a half shall be the length thereof, and a cubit and a half the breadth thereof. 18 And you shall make two cherubim of gold, of beaten work shall you make them, in the two ends of the mercy seat. 19 And make one cherub on the one end, and the other cherub on the other end: even of the mercy seat shall you make the cherubim on the two ends thereof. 20 And the cherubim shall stretch forth their wings on high, covering the mercy seat with their wings, and their faces shall look one to another; toward the mercy seat shall the faces of the cherubim be.
American King James Version×
; 1 Kings 6:23-28 1 Kings 6:23-28 23 And within the oracle he made two cherubim of olive tree, each ten cubits high. 24 And five cubits was the one wing of the cherub, and five cubits the other wing of the cherub: from the uttermost part of the one wing to the uttermost part of the other were ten cubits. 25 And the other cherub was ten cubits: both the cherubim were of one measure and one size. 26 The height of the one cherub was ten cubits, and so was it of the other cherub. 27 And he set the cherubim within the inner house: and they stretched forth the wings of the cherubim, so that the wing of the one touched the one wall, and the wing of the other cherub touched the other wall; and their wings touched one another in the middle of the house. 28 And he overlaid the cherubim with gold.
American King James Version×
).

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 1 Samuel 4:4So the people sent to Shiloh, that they might bring from there the ark of the covenant of the LORD of hosts, which dwells between the cherubim: and the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, were there with the ark of the covenant of God.
American King James Version×
; 2 Samuel 6:2 2 Samuel 6:2And David arose, and went with all the people that were with him from Baale of Judah, to bring up from there the ark of God, whose name is called by the name of the LORD of hosts that dwells between the cherubim.
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; 2 Kings 19:15 2 Kings 19:15And Hezekiah prayed before the LORD, and said, O LORD God of Israel, which dwell between the cherubim, you are the God, even you alone, of all the kingdoms of the earth; you have made heaven and earth.
American King James Version×
; 1 Chronicles 13:6 1 Chronicles 13:6And David went up, and all Israel, to Baalah, that is, to Kirjathjearim, which belonged to Judah, to bring up there the ark of God the LORD, that dwells between the cherubim, whose name is called on it.
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; Psalms 80:1 Psalms 80:1Give ear, O Shepherd of Israel, you that lead Joseph like a flock; you that dwell between the cherubim, shine forth.
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; Isaiah 37:16 Isaiah 37:16O LORD of hosts, God of Israel, that dwell between the cherubim, you are the God, even you alone, of all the kingdoms of the earth: you have made heaven and earth.
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).

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 Ezekiel 28:15You were perfect in your ways from the day that you were created, till iniquity was found in you.
American King James Version×
). 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 Ezekiel 28:17Your heart was lifted up because of your beauty, you have corrupted your wisdom by reason of your brightness: I will cast you to the ground, I will lay you before kings, that they may behold you.
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).

“. . . 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 Ezekiel 28:16By the multitude of your merchandise they have filled the middle of you with violence, and you have sinned: therefore I will cast you as profane out of the mountain of God: and I will destroy you, O covering cherub, from the middle of the stones of fire.
American King James Version×
, 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 Revelation 12:3-4 3 And there appeared another wonder in heaven; and behold a great red dragon, having seven heads and ten horns, and seven crowns on his heads. 4 And his tail drew the third part of the stars of heaven, and did cast them to the earth: and the dragon stood before the woman which was ready to be delivered, for to devour her child as soon as it was born.
American King James Version×
: “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 Revelation 12:9And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceives the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.
American King James Version×
identifies this dragon as Satan. The Bible uses stars as a symbol for angels (Revelation 1:20 Revelation 1:20The mystery of the seven stars which you saw in my right hand, and the seven golden candlesticks. The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches: and the seven candlesticks which you saw are the seven churches.
American King James Version×
). 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? )