Who is a liar but he that denieth that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist, that denieth the Father and the Son. – 1 John 2:22
The most commonly accepted contemporary interpretation of Revelation 12 that I am aware of assumes that the chapter is about the fall of Satan before the world began. The theory is that before God created man, there was an ‘age of angels’ during which time, Satan rebelled, and an host of angels with him (1/3 of the angels is the generally assumed number, as taken from Revelation 12:4). By this interpretation, Revelation 12 is taken alongside of Ezekiel 28:11-15 and Isaiah 14:12-20 as the third origin tale for Satan.
I’m actually intending to go into understanding Revelation 12, but realizing how much ground I’ll need to cover on this topic (we’ll see if I can get through it in just one post) in order to get there. If the above is your understanding, I’m going to give you a lot to process.
Since the topic passage is Revelation 12, I’ll start there. The content of the chapter is actually New Testament, so the story cannot predate time (i.e. cannot be in a prior to earthl’s creation ‘age of angels’) the first sign in the chapter is a woman ready to give birth. As the chapter goes on, we see that she is giving birth to the Messiah. Even if we were to interpret this woman very generally as being ‘humanity’ she could not be prepared to give birth before creation, so the story cannot take place prior to the creation of man. Actually, most whom I have heard that believe Rev 12 is the story of Satan’s origin acknowledge as much as to say that much of the content is New Testament, but as ‘time doesn’t exist in heaven’ (<-which belief is nowhere biblically supported that I am aware of) that the event speaks both of the first fall of Satan, and of the later coming of Messiah as a somehow chronologically combined event despite the thousands of years seperation. (This comes from my having conversation with proponents of said interpretation who have told me such statements as: “Rev 12 is an event in heaven, therefore it is outside of time.”)
I think that the biggest proof text for Revelation speaking of Satan’s first fall (aside from the fact that he is literally cast out of heaven, which most believe happened in the begining (or rather, before it)) is Rev 12:4, which proponents claim is Satan bringing 1/3 of the angels from heaven down with him. So allow me to look at this verse; I don’t believe that the stars in the story are angels. Why? Two reasons: the first, (and less convincing) is context – in the continuance of the narrative, we see in verse 9 that there are indeed angels which were cast out of heaven with Satan: ‘…he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.’ Between verses 4 and 9 there has been no break in the narrative for the metaphor to have changed, why wohld John describe the angels as stars, and then later in the same narrative ‘angels’ without having clarified the metaphor? (See, I told you it was the less convincing of the two reasons.)
The second reason is this: because throughout the rest of scripture stars are not typically used as an allegory for angels, they are most often used as an allegory for SAINTS: righteous people. In fact, Daniel had a similar vision of stars being cast from the sky and trampled; Gabriel interpreted this part of Daniel’s vision to mean that SAINTS would be cast from their place, and trampled. (The vision: Dan 8:10; Gabriel’s interpretation: Dan 8:24)
The belief that Satan took 1/3 of the angels is not biblical plain statement, it is a matter of interpretation. I think due to context, hermenuetics, and inherent content that the stars are righteous people who are either persecuted (thus cast down as in Daniel’s vision), or who, like Satan, abandon their righteousness by his influence, and are thus cast from their place as he was.
In fact slaying man has been the goal of the devil from the begining. Jesus declared that the devil ‘…was a murderer from the begining’ (John 8:44) in fact the Greek word used for ‘murderer’ is this case is more acurately ‘man-slayer,’ of course, that’s not to confuse it with the modern legal term ‘manslayer’ (which implies ‘un-intentional’ murder) the emphasis in this case is MAN – the devil has always wanted to kill MAN.
This should tell us more about the origin of Satan than Revelation 12 (which I don’t believe has to do with Satan’s origin, but his fully developed wickedness manifest in the earth, but I’ll get back to that in the next post).
I don’t believe that there is substantial biblical evidence for an ‘age of angels’ which preceded the creation of earth. I do believe that Ezekiel 28:11-15 and Isaiah 14:12-20 reveal tidbits about Satan’s origin (which I specify because I have heard these passages brought into question on the basis of the Nephelim theory).
I believe that the first fall of Satan is fully, and unambiguously described in scripture, and that the passages mentioned from Ezekiel and Isaiah give further clarity and insight.
For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon 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.
Above I underlined the portion which I believe reveals the pinnacle of Satan’s motive in the garden. Here is used prophetic language, but it declares specifically that Lucifer wanted to ‘exalt his throne above the stars of God.’ Now, in order to understand this, we ought to do a study as to the meaning of stars in the bible, which study I have already referenced in discussing Revelation 12:4 above. Anyone else find it interesting that Lucifer’s goal was to set his throne above the stars, and in Revelation we see him sweeping 1/3 of the stars DOWN with his tail?
STARS: While I’ll not go into a full exposition of study I’ve done about stars, I’ll give a quick gist: In the book of Genesis, God made a promise to Abraham, that He would make Abraham’s descendants as numerous as the stars of heaven (Gen. 15:5), this thought/theme is repeated several times in the bible (a couple of specifics are Deut. 28:62, and 1 Chron. 27:23). The other instance I will point to is Daniel 12:3, referring to the True, overcoming end times Christians, it declares that these will shine ‘as the stars for ever and ever.’ My conclusion of the study of the prophetic meaning of stars in the bible, is that they represent righteous man.
What was Satan’s initial motive to rebel against God? As an angel, Lucifer refused to be petty servant to a physical being which had been given authoritative rule over all creation (man). Lucifer wanted to be the chief of God’s creation – yet it was not he, but MAN who was created in the image of God, and was crowned with honor and glory (Ps 8:5). It was not to angels, but to MAN that all of God’s creation was put in subjection (Heb. 2:5). Lucifer wanted to ‘rise above the stars’ to be enthroned above man’s glorified position. But he could not… because only God was above man. This is the seed of antichrist because Jesus was God who came as man… and Lucifer… well we’ll get back to Revelation 12 eventually.
There was only one way that Lucifer could possibly attain a superior position to man… that was if man was dead (he was a murderer from the beginning). Only if man died could Lucifer be above him, only then could he ascend above the glorified position of man (the stars of God). Lucifer also knew that there was only one possible way to see man dead. Surely, he was in the garden of Eden as Ezekiel 28:13 declares. Indeed, I believe Lucifer, and all the angels were made at the time of creation, Hebrews 1:14 reveals that all angels were made for the purpose of ministering to ‘them who shall be heirs of salvation,’ i.e. the stars of heaven: righteous man. No doubt this ‘lesser position’ to man stirred Lucifer’s spite for man.
Ezekiel 28:14 declares Lucifer was the ‘anointed cherub that covereth…’ Adam and Eve were naked in the garden and felt no shame… could it be that part of his job was their spiritual covering? That is conjecture, of course, but no matter his duty, he was in the garden to minister to man. Yet he wanted to kill man, he was, as Jesus said a man-slayer from the begining. He had heard the Word of God regarding the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, when God had declared to man:
…thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.
AHHH!! So man CAN die?!
Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. …
The serpent in the garden must have been a spiritual being, because not only was his wisdom far superior to animals (‘…more subtil than any beast of the field…’) thus he was more intelligent than an animal snake. In fact, the Hebrew word for ‘serpent’ as it is used here means ‘to whisper,’ or ‘to hiss.’ It is almost perfectly synonymous with the Hebrew word for ‘enchanter’ which is a ‘whisperer’ (the two words ‘serpent’ and ‘enchanter’ are so closely related that they are spelled and pronounced the same way in Roman characters: ‘nachash.’)
Lucifer was no animal snake, he was an angel – in fact a cherub according to Ezekiel 28:14 & 16. Which was – as we’ve seen, the very reason that he wanted man dead.
This serpent was sophisticated enough to construct basic principles of witchcraft. Believe it, or not – the original sin was no mere carnal deviance – it was, in fact the full-blown seed of witchcraft. First of all, it was dripping with rebellion – the cherub sought to overthrow the authority God had made in the earth – he therefore enticed the woman (the lesser authority, under the man) to rebel against the direct commandment of God. REBELLION, REBELLION, REBELLION. Now we know from later scripture that: ‘Rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft.’ (1 Sam 15:23)
I’ve heard various definitions of witchcraft – I will use this definition: witchcraft is obtaining unlawful control over a person, group, or situation through supernatural means. More briefly put, it is: manipulation through the supernatural.
A person who has no authority must manipulate or overpower in order to gain control – that is rebellion. The use of supernatural means to manipulate, or overpower in order to gain control is witchcraft. Rebellion and witchcraft are virtually the same thing: Rebellion is the carnal version, witchcraft is the spiritual version. Thus, as the scripture says: ‘Rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft.’
Yet now, Lucifer, the ‘covering cherub’ is not through. He creates a scenario that is the utmost height of rebellion, and he does it in order to entice man into the act of divination through sorcery.
The original sin was divination through means of sorcery.
The serpent enticed the woman (she was not yet named Eve) to consume of a natural substance – the fruit – in order to obtain supernatural wisdom from an alternate source than God. (Sorcery is the use of natural substances such as herbs, or potions to experience the spiritual realm. Many pagans used (and still do) hallucinogenic substances in order to experience ‘visions’ – this is sorcery.)
Man was made in the image of God. He was created to be in relationship WITH God. His wisdom, and his learning was all supposed to be attained THROUGH God – and no good thing would God withhold from them that walked uprightly (Ps. 84:11). God would not have withheld wisdom of divine things from man for, indeed, man was a spiritual being who had been given charge over all the creation of God! Yet man was enticed to strive for a wisdom apart from God. The serpent beguiled the woman to partake of a natural substance in order to attain supernatural wisdom derived from a source other than God – once again: divination through sorcery: witchcraft. The original sin was witchcraft from first to last. And no surprise for it was the serpent – the enchanter who brought it forth.
He was a cherub – the most powerful spiritual being, he was created with full understanding of the supernatural, and he used his full supernatural understanding to rebel – it was his one shot to see man dead so that he could set his throne above us as the pinnacle of God’s creation.
Things didn’t work out for him the way he’d expected, however. In Genesis 3:8 commences God’s first act as Judge – this is where Satan’s first fall takes place:
8 And they heard the voice of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God amongst the trees of the garden.
9 And the LORD God called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where art thou?
10 And he said, I heard thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself.
11 And he said, Who told thee that thou wast naked? Hast thou eaten of the tree, whereof I commanded thee that thou shouldest not eat?
12 And the man said, The woman whom thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat.
13 And the LORD God said unto the woman, What is this that thou hast done? And the woman said, The serpent beguiled me, and I did eat.
14 And the LORD God said unto the serpent, Because thou hast done this, thou art cursed above all cattle, and above every beast of the field; upon thy belly shalt thou go, and dust shalt thou eat all the days of thy life:
15 And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.
Now, I’m going to point a couple of things out about this very enlightening account:
- Notice that God gives both Adam, and his wife (she is not yet named Eve) the opportunity to give account for themselves. He asks them each what they had done, and gives each an opportunity to make a defense for themselves. The serpent is given no such opportunity – God did not allow the serpent to make a defense of himself before he cursed it, as he had done for both the man (v.11) and his wife (v.13). Upon the woman’s testimony, He immediately, and without hesitation cursed the serpent. (Man, not angels were destined to receive the grace of God.)
- Notice the terminology that is used for the serpent’s curse – ‘thou art CURSED ABOVE all cattle, and ABOVE every beast of the field…’ How humiliating! Imagine being the most beautified spiritual being in existence but you are now cursed above the filthiest physical animal! ‘upon thy belly shalt thou go, and DUST SHALT THOU EAT ALL THE DAYS OF THY LIFE.’ You have despised the natural – the physical for your spiritual prowess, but now you are going to lay in the natural, the earthly, the carnal – it will be your daily bread for the rest of your existence. And finally: ‘it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise its heel.’ You despised ministering to man? You wanted to kill HIM? Now her offspring are going to crush what authority you DID have into the dirt, and the best you can do is hurt his foot!
I don’t think we need to fabricate an ‘age of angels,’ nor do I believe that angels fornicated with women and created some sort of half-spirit beings. I believe there is biblical account sufficient to supply the full story of Satan’s fall.
Here’s another thing I’ll point out: nowhere is the serpent referenced to have legs; I’ve always heard that God took the snake’s legs away. Actually, the verse says: upon the belly thou shalt go… nothing about legs. You might also notice that the dragon in Revelation 12 is not described as having wings, whereas cherubs are generally described with wings.
Now I’m waxing long, so I’ll have to write the post about Revelation 12 as a sequel, and link it here.