There are two passages in Scripture that give a clear prophetic insight into the beginnings of Satan. In Isaiah 14 the message is introduced to be against the king of Babylon; in Ezekiel 28 it has two subjects,first the prince (nawgheed) of Tyre and then the king (mehleh) of Tyre. We need to ask however, “Can all that is said be a message for the original addressee or does the Scripture have a fuller meaning?” I believe we can show that unless we strain the words and stretch the context to unbelievable proportions, part of these words, at least, must be about a heavenly being and not just a human being. We will start with Ezekiel 28.
The passage begins in verse 2, addressed to the ‘prince’ of Tyre, but interestingly the mode of address changes in v12 when Ezekiel is told to take up the lamentation; this time it is addressed to the ‘king’.
The moment we accept that God’s Word means what God’s Word says we see that from here onwards it cannot refer to a finite human being but must be dealing with an infinite heavenly being. Not eternal in the sense of God, who had no beginning, but eternal in the sense that once created does not have a measurable number of years to live, but will live until God takes away that right.
In its original state we discover that this heavenly creature had the seal of perfection and was full of wisdom and perfect in beauty (v.12) – this has never been the case of any fallen man, even a prince or king!
Indeed it is clear from Genesis 1:31 that all which God created was good; also, 2 Peter 2:4 shows us that it was when some of the angels sinned that the problems began. Those that did not sinned remained in their original state of ‘goodness’ – this is clearly implied in Matthew 6:10 where the heavenly creatures do God’s will and in Matthew 18:10 where angels can behold God’s face. Those that sinned, as Matthew 25:41 shows, were disobedient and sided with the devil.
We further discover in verse 13 that this one was in Eden, the garden of God, and that certainly cannot refer to any human still alive in Ezekiel’s day. It could also be that the Eden described here was before the Eden of Genesis 1 and 2 or is something more akin to a spiritual dimension, not an earthly one. There the serpent acted as the deceiver but here in Ezekiel it is a very different description. Whatever the case, it does not alter the description of this being; although a created being he is described as being covered by many precious stones and was blameless in all ways (v.15) – again not the king of Tyre.
Finally in this description we are told that he was an anointed cherub, ordained of God to be a guardian (v.14). Ezekiel mentions cherubs before in chapters 1 and 10 and in chapter 10 verse 20 calls them, “living beings”. The Scriptures do not tell us what exactly is the relationship between cherubim, seraphim and angels but it is clear that together they are at least part of the ‘heavenly host’. It would also seem to indicate that the Cherubim are mightier than the angels and are the highest form of heavenly creature.
One thing we must be clear about and that is that the Biblical description of a cherub has nothing to do with the round-faced angelic children we see in artistic depictions.
The International Standard Bible Encyclopaedia tells us:
“Ezekiel’s cherubim are clearly related to the seraphim in Isaiah’s inaugural vision (Isa_6:1-13). Like the cherubim, the seraphim are the attendants on God as He is seated upon a throne high and exalted; they are also winged creatures: with twain they cover their faces, and with twain they cover their feet, and with twain they fly. Like the Levites in the sanctuary below, they sing a hymn of adoration: “Holy, holy, holy, is Yahweh of hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory.” In the Book of Enoch, the cherubim, seraphim, and ophannim (wheels), and all the angels of power constitute the “host of God,” the guardians of His throne, the singers of praise ascribing blessedness to “the Lord of Spirits,” with the archangel Gabriel at their head (see 20:7; 40; Isa_61:10 f; 71:7). And so in the Jewish daily liturgy the seraphim, ophannim, and “living creatures” constitute the heavenly choir who, the elect ministers of the Living God, ready to do the will of their maker with trembling, intone in sweet harmony the Thrice-holy. In the Talmud, the cherubim are represented as having the likeness of youths… while, according to the Midrash, they have no definite shape, but appear indifferently as men or women, or as spirits and angelic beings (Gen rabba?) 21).”
What now becomes clear from Ezekiel is that this perfect heavenly being, who was ordained to be part of God’s heavenly creatures, changed and subsequently lost his position.
We are shown from v.16 that he only cared about his own things and not those of others (your widespread trade) and this led to violence against others and as a result he sinned. Because of this he was driven out from the mount of God and destruction would come upon him.
So this one who was created a heavenly creature with an integral part in the original plan of God is now cast out from the presence of God, has become a totally different creature and will be destroyed by God.
I do not believe that these verses can be applied to the ruler of Tyre and must have a prophetic significance to the one who today we call Satan. With this in mind we will now look at Isaiah 14. Verse 4 tells us that these words are addressed to the king of Babylon but again we must face the fact that not only could this not describe the human king, but there are clear similarities with the record in Ezekiel 28. Beyond this we will see that much has its counterpart in the New Testament where clearly referring to Satan.
Falling From Heaven
The prophetic tone seems to change, especially in v.12, when we read that, this one fell from heaven; just when did the king of Babylon fall from heaven? Also, this is the only time that I am aware of, in the Old Testament, where it says that specifically a being fell from heaven; but a similar action is also referred to in Ezekiel 28:16 where we read this being is cast out of the presence of God.
Verse 14 goes on to tell us that this one, who is thrown down, is called in Hebrew heylel, which comes from halal, “to shine”. The Hebrew word, found here, appears as a noun, nowhere else and so cannot be compared with any other Scriptures to find its meaning. Twice it is used as a verb, and is translated ‘howl’ from the verb yalal, “to howl” or “cry.” Some therefore feel that it should be translated as such here, but it is a different word and many feel that the common translation of ‘Lucifer’ seems preferable. Whatever the case, the heavenly creature mentioned here is the ‘shining one’ and Lucifer is a proper translation of the word used. It also, of course, could link us back to the creature in Ezekiel 28:13, covered with all the shining stones.
A further interesting fact is that in the Isaiah passage (v.14) we see that this Lucifer is looking to raise himself to be like God on His throne, which of course is the temptation that was made by the serpent in the garden. This links Lucifer both with the one in the garden of Ezekiel 28 and Satan.
In summary we can say that at least two main reasons are given for the fall of this one from the perfect state he was created in – pride and false ambition. Two things that we need also to be very careful we do not need to let into our lives.
New Testament References to Satan
That this fallen heavenly creature, referred to in Isaiah 14 and Ezekiel 28, bears great similarities to the descriptions of Satan in the New Testament. The Scriptures never mislead us; and so the same descriptions being used both in the New Testament of Satan and the Old Testament of Lucifer show that they are one and the same person.
1. Falling From Heaven
Just like Lucifer in Isaiah, Satan was cast out of heaven; see Revelation 12:9. There are some interesting aspects of this verse that are also relevant:
This was the serpent of old, in other words this creature had been in the Garden of Eden. This one is now called the devil and Satan which means he had another name before. When this creature was thrown down his angels were thrown down with him. These therefore are the fallen angels with Lucifer and verse 4 indicates that they were a third of the angels.
2. Cast to the earth
Some say the word here in Revelation 12:9 means into the earth, which would be interesting in that Isaiah 14:15 tells us that Lucifer was cast down to sheol. Whether into, or just to, or on, it is clear that being cast out to even the earth is the description of both Lucifer and Satan.
3. Angel of light
Lucifer means “light-bearer” and in Luke 10:18 we read that Satan fell as lightning from heaven. We further read in 2 Corinthians 11:14 that Satan still today disguises himself as an angel of light. In other words he is not an angel of light but he takes on the persona of one, to try and trip up the members of the body of Christ.
This way of disguising, being one thing on the outside and another on the inside, also could be a reference back to Ezekiel 28:13 where this creature was only ‘covered’ by the stones, just skin deep.
1. There was a perfect heavenly creature ordained by God and used as part of His plan in the Garden of Eden.
2. This one fell, changed character, and was cast out of heaven.
3. This one is called the ‘shining one’ or ‘Lucifer’.
4. This one has so many similarities with the description of Satan that we must conclude the two are talking of the same person, before and after his fall.