“The serpent ... the most cunning of all the wild animals that the Lord God had made”introduced doubt into the minds of the first humans. “Did God really say, ‘You can’t eat from any tree in the garden’?” (Genesis 3:1–3). For his rebellion, the serpent received a harsh punishment. “The Lord God said to the serpent: Because you have done this, you are cursed more than any livestock and more than any wild animal. You will move on your belly and eat dust all the days of your life. I will put hostility between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring. He will strike your head, and you will strike his heel”(Genesis 3:14–15). The Book of Revelation reveals the identity of the serpent. “The great dragon ... the ancient serpent, who is called the devil and Satan, (is) the one who deceives the whole world. He was thrown to earth, and his angels with him” (Revelation 12:9). Satan will be eternally vanquished by the only “offspring” of a woman, the virgin-born Savior and King.
The Book of Job gives us further insight into the ways of Satan. “One day the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came with them. The Lord asked Satan, ‘Where have you come from?’ ‘From roaming through the earth,’ Satan answered him, ‘and walking around on it’ ” (Job 1:6–7).
Ezekiel unwrapped more of the mystery. While talking about the evil king of Tyre, his double-meaning also reveals the truth of Satan’s fall. “You were the seal of perfection, full of wisdom and perfect in beauty. You were in Eden, the garden of God. Every kind of precious stone covered you... Your mountings and settings were crafted in gold; they were prepared on the day you were created. You were an anointed guardian cherub, for I had appointed you. You were on the holy mountain of God; you walked among the fiery stones. From the day you were created you were blameless in your ways until wickedness was found in you... You were filled with violence, and you sinned. So I expelled you in disgrace from the mountain of God, and banished you, guardian cherub, from among the fiery stones. Your heart became proud because of your beauty; For the sake of your splendor you corrupted your wisdom. So I threw you down to the ground” (Ezekiel 28:12-17)
Isaiah added more detail. “Shining morning star, how you have fallen from the heavens! You destroyer of nations, you have been cut down to the ground. You said to yourself, ‘I will ascend to the heavens; I will set up my throne above the stars of God. I will sit on the mount of the gods’ assembly, in the remotest parts of the North. I will ascend above the highest clouds; I will make myself like the Most High.’ But you will be brought down to Sheol into the deepest regions of the Pit” (Isaiah 14:12–16).
I think it is fair to conclude that Satan, the tempter, the adversary, the accuser, is in fact, a fallen angel. He and his demonic minions were, like the hosts of heaven, created to worship and serve their Creator. When the noxious and nasty sin of pride welled up in Satan’s heart, he saw himself as equal to, or even better and bigger than God.
John saw the final fight, the last battle, when Satan will be defeated and punished eternally. “He seized the dragon, that ancient serpent who is the devil and Satan, and bound him ... He threw him into the abyss, closed it, and put a seal on it so that he would no longer deceive the nations ... The devil who deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and sulfur where the beast and the false prophet are, and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever” (Revelation 20:2–3; 10).
Like every other angel, and like each of us, Satan had a choice. Submit or rebel? Obey or reject? Any who choose to turn away from God’s Great Grace will receive their just reward. “The wages of sin in death!” (Romans 6:23).
All Scripture quotations, except as otherwise noted, are from
Holman Bible Publishers’ Christian Standard Bible.