Satan – beginning, end, and more


This entry is part 1 of 1 in the series Satan - The Beginning, The End, and Before The Beginning

There are two equal and opposite errors into which our race can fall about the devils.  One is to disbelieve in their existence.  The other is to believe, and to feel an excessive and unhealthy interest in them.  They themselves are equally pleased by both errors and hail a materialist or a magician with the same delight.

That’s from C S Lewis, in his book The Screwtape Letters – a true fictional account of a devil training his nephew in the art of turning people to their “father below” – Satan.

Somewhere between those two extremes is realizing that Satan and his fallen angels do exist, and knowing enough about them that we won’t be one of those who get tricked or caught up in one of Satan’s traps – and losing our soul, as Jesus told us in this explanation of the Parable of The Sower –

Lk 8:11 “This is the meaning of the parable: The seed is the word of God. 12 Those along the path are the ones who hear, and then the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts, so that they may not believe and be saved. 13 Those on the rock are the ones who receive the word with joy when they hear it, but they have no root. They believe for a while, but in the time of testing they fall away. 14 The seed that fell among thorns stands for those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by life’s worries, riches and pleasures, and they do not mature. 15 But the seed on good soil stands for those with a noble and good heart, who hear the word, retain it, and by persevering produce a crop.”

With that in mind, let’s start this series off with a brief look at (1) what happened in The Beginning, (2) what happened in the future – The End, and (3) what happened before The Beginning.

Yes, that previous sentence says exactly what I want it to say. 

What “happened in the future” is exactly what we get when there is an all-knowing God who isn’t constrained by time.  God knows the future, so when the Bible talks about “what will come” – that’s about what “will come” for us who live in a universe constrained by time, with each event happening serially.  However, for God – not being constrained by time means the future is just as real (and known) as the past and the present.
Please note – I am not saying that God predetermines every single thing that will ever happen in this world.  I do not believe in 100% predestiny.  On the other hand, while I believe free will is important to God, I also believe there are some events that He does in fact cause to happen.  For more on that, please see these articles –  The problem of predestiny, Protected from the Bible – The problem of free will, and The problem of either / or:  free will vs predestiny.

What happened before the beginning is also correct.  “The Beginning”, in the Bible, has to do with the creation of our universe.  You may remember, after creating everything, God said it was very good.  That means Satan was not yet in our world.  However, Satan did exist before our universe was created – so it must have been before The Beginning.  I have a couple of references here for further reading.  First, while Genesis tells us there was no actual evil in what had been created, there was the knowledge of good and evil.  This would be essential, since an all-knowing God could not be surprised when evil shows up – therefore God had to have knowledge of good and evil.  For more on that, please see The “knowledge of evil” versus actual “evil”.  Second, while the English translations of the Bible (I can’t speak to other languages) says everything was created in six days, that’s not necessarily what the original Hebrew words actually tell us.  The Hebrew word that’s translated as “day”, plus the references to “evening” and “morning” can be (and probably should be) more properly translated as something like “epoch”, since they imply an unknown period of time related to an event.  While evolution is a bad word for Christians today – it used to be used by those who believed the earth was created over a long period of time – with divine guidance.  One of those who held that view was the author quoted at the top – C S Lewis.  For more on that, please see It’s time for Christians to acknowledge what Darwin REALLY did.  Could God have actually finished all of creation in six days?  Of course.  For that matter, an all-powerful God could have done it in the blink of an eye.  Diverting the discussion from whether or not the universe was created by God or it just randomly came into existence – to a discussion of how long it took for the universe to be created – sounds to me like a trick from the devil to take God out of the picture.

I include all of these things here so that you can understand where I’m coming from as you read the rest of this series.  These other articles, should you choose to read them, may be news to you – they may have an impact on how you view the Bible – or maybe they won’t.  Either way, agreeing or disagreeing with any of these types of assumptions that I write this with should not affect how you view Satan – and what he can do to us if we have no knowledge of him.

So – let’s get started.

What happened in The Beginning

Let’s start at the beginning – at least The Beginning as used in the Bible – to represent the creation of our universe.  At the end of the fifth day, everything God saw was good.  We’ll start with day six, when things went to very good.

Ge 1:26 Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.”
Ge 1:27 So God created man in his own image,
in the image of God he created him;
male and female he created them.
Ge 1:28 God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground.”
Ge 1:29 Then God said, “I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food. 30 And to all the beasts of the earth and all the birds of the air and all the creatures that move on the ground—everything that has the breath of life in it—I give every green plant for food.” And it was so.
Ge 1:31 God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. And there was evening, and there was morning—the sixth day.

Ge 2:1 Thus the heavens and the earth were completed in all their vast array.

Ge 2:2 By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work. 3 And God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done.

As mentioned earlier, the fact that things were “very good” means there was no evil in the universe and therefore no Satan in our universe.

We can see what very good actually means by looking at the original Hebrew words.  

The word translated as “very” means “exceedingly”.  If anything, using “very” kind of waters down the impact of the word.  For instance, lot’s of food that we have eaten might be called “very good”.  But – how many things that you’ve eaten would you call “exceedingly good”.  I dare say, it would be a much smaller number that would be considered “exceedingly” good if you were to count up both the “very good” and the “exceedingly good” things you’ve eaten.

Next, let’s look at the word translated as “good”

2896 טָבַב, טִבָּה, טֹוב, טֹוב, טֹוב, טֹובָה [towb /tobe/] adj n m f. From 2895; TWOT 793a; GK 3176 and 3177 and 3201 and 3202 and 3205 and 3208; 559 occurrences; AV translates as “good” 361 times, “better” 72 times, “well” 20 times, “goodness” 16 times, “goodly” nine times, “best” eight times, “merry” seven times, “fair” seven times, “prosperity” six times, “precious” four times, “fine” three times, “wealth” three times, “beautiful” twice, “fairer” twice, “favour” twice, “glad” twice, and translated miscellaneously 35 times. 1 good, pleasant, agreeable. 1A pleasant, agreeable (to the senses). 1B pleasant (to the higher nature). 1C good, excellent (of its kind). 1D good, rich, valuable in estimation. 1E good, appropriate, becoming. 1F better (comparative). 1G glad, happy, prosperous (of man’s sensuous nature). 1H good understanding (of man’s intellectual nature). 1I good, kind, benign. 1J good, right (ethical). 2 a good thing, benefit, welfare. 2A welfare, prosperity, happiness. 2B good things (collective). 2C good, benefit. 2D moral good. 3 welfare, benefit, good things. 3A welfare, prosperity, happiness. 3B good things (collective). 3C bounty.  1)Strong, J. (1995). Enhanced Strong’s Lexicon. Woodside Bible Fellowship.

While I used an example of food tasting good – which seemed appropriate, given the reference to food in the passage for day 6 – we see that “very good” has a much broader meaning.  It goes all the way from what we’d normally think of to moral and “higher nature” concepts.

I can’t see Satans existence in a creation with this kind of description.

In Genesis 3, we read about the “Fall of Man”.  This is the first occurrence of evil in the Bible.

In order to keep this article relatively short – we’ll come back to The Fall in more detail later in the series.

What happened in The End

As I said earlier – I really do mean what happened in The End.  While The End hasn’t yet come for us – it has, in some fashion we cannot understand, come for God.  He knows it as surely as it has already taken place.

Let’s start by looking at the fourth chapter of Revelation –

The Throne in Heaven

Rev 4:1 After this I looked, and there before me was a door standing open in heaven. And the voice I had first heard speaking to me like a trumpet said, “Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after this.” 2 At once I was in the Spirit, and there before me was a throne in heaven with someone sitting on it. 3 And the one who sat there had the appearance of jasper and carnelian. A rainbow, resembling an emerald, encircled the throne. 4 Surrounding the throne were twenty-four other thrones, and seated on them were twenty-four elders. They were dressed in white and had crowns of gold on their heads. 5 From the throne came flashes of lightning, rumblings and peals of thunder. Before the throne, seven lamps were blazing. These are the seven spirits of God. 6 Also before the throne there was what looked like a sea of glass, clear as crystal.
In the center, around the throne, were four living creatures, and they were covered with eyes, in front and in back. 7 The first living creature was like a lion, the second was like an ox, the third had a face like a man, the fourth was like a flying eagle. 8 Each of the four living creatures had six wings and was covered with eyes all around, even under his wings. Day and night they never stop saying:

“Holy, holy, holy
is the Lord God Almighty,
who was, and is, and is to come.”

Rev 4:9 Whenever the living creatures give glory, honor and thanks to him who sits on the throne and who lives for ever and ever, 10 the twenty-four elders fall down before him who sits on the throne, and worship him who lives for ever and ever. They lay their crowns before the throne and say:
Rev 4:11 “You are worthy, our Lord and God,
to receive glory and honor and power,
for you created all things,
and by your will they were created
and have their being.”

Notice where Jesus said –

“Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after this.”

If our faith means anything at all, we must believe that when Jesus says something must take place, it is going to take place.  I’d even say – it’s as good as done, and that’s for us that are constrained by time.  To God – who created, and therefore lives outside of, time – it is in fact done.  That’s why I chose to use past tense for this series when talking about the future.  From God’s point of view – this is done.  

The truth is – since God is all-knowing – if this did / does not happen, then Jesus lied to us, since He knows the future and therefore also knows whether or not this will happen in our time-constrained lives.

And here is “The End” for Satan –

Rev 19:19 Then I saw the beast and the kings of the earth and their armies gathered together to make war against the rider on the horse and his army. 20 But the beast was captured, and with him the false prophet who had performed the miraculous signs on his behalf. With these signs he had deluded those who had received the mark of the beast and worshiped his image. The two of them were thrown alive into the fiery lake of burning sulfur. 21 The rest of them were killed with the sword that came out of the mouth of the rider on the horse, and all the birds gorged themselves on their flesh.

The Thousand Years

Rev 20:1 And I saw an angel coming down out of heaven, having the key to the Abyss and holding in his hand a great chain. 2 He seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the devil, or Satan, and bound him for a thousand years. 3 He threw him into the Abyss, and locked and sealed it over him, to keep him from deceiving the nations anymore until the thousand years were ended. After that, he must be set free for a short time.
Rev 20:4 I saw thrones on which were seated those who had been given authority to judge. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony for Jesus and because of the word of God. They had not worshiped the beast or his image and had not received his mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with Christ a thousand years. 5 (The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended.) This is the first resurrection. 6 Blessed and holy are those who have part in the first resurrection. The second death has no power over them, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with him for a thousand years.

Satan’s Doom

Rev 20:7 When the thousand years are over, Satan will be released from his prison 8 and will go out to deceive the nations in the four corners of the earth—Gog and Magog—to gather them for battle. In number they are like the sand on the seashore. 9 They marched across the breadth of the earth and surrounded the camp of God’s people, the city he loves. But fire came down from heaven and devoured them. 10 And the devil, who deceived them, was thrown into the lake of burning sulfur, where the beast and the false prophet had been thrown. They will be tormented day and night for ever and ever.

As with The Beginning, we’ll stop here in order to keep this relatively short – and get back to it later in the series.

What happened Before The Beginning

We read this, from Revelation, concerning the end for Satan –

The Thousand Years

Rev 20:1 And I saw an angel coming down out of heaven, having the key to the Abyss and holding in his hand a great chain. 2 He seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the devil, or Satan, and bound him for a thousand years. 3 He threw him into the Abyss, and locked and sealed it over him, to keep him from deceiving the nations anymore until the thousand years were ended. After that, he must be set free for a short time.
Rev 20:4 I saw thrones on which were seated those who had been given authority to judge. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony for Jesus and because of the word of God. They had not worshiped the beast or his image and had not received his mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with Christ a thousand years. 5 (The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended.) This is the first resurrection. 6 Blessed and holy are those who have part in the first resurrection. The second death has no power over them, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with him for a thousand years.

Satan’s Doom

Rev 20:7 When the thousand years are over, Satan will be released from his prison 8 and will go out to deceive the nations in the four corners of the earth—Gog and Magog—to gather them for battle. In number they are like the sand on the seashore. 9 They marched across the breadth of the earth and surrounded the camp of God’s people, the city he loves. But fire came down from heaven and devoured them. 10 And the devil, who deceived them, was thrown into the lake of burning sulfur, where the beast and the false prophet had been thrown. They will be tormented day and night for ever and ever.

That’s a pretty tough ending.  Not to mention a bit hard to grasp / understand.

As with the other sections, we’ll get more into this passage later in the series.
We’ll also look at many other passages to see how all of this ties together.

Conclusion

It may be tempting at this point to not take Satan seriously, since we know the end.  But remember, the end hasn’t come yet for us in this time-constrained universe.  We are still vulnerable, even though the end is a “done deal”.  Jesus had these word for his disciples when they first used the authority given to them by Jesus to cast out demons –

Lk 10:18 He replied, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. 19 I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you. 20 However, do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.”

Jesus warned us to be wary of the devil.  However, as we see at the end of this passage, many accused Jesus of being demon-possessed –

The Shepherd and His Flock

Jn 10:1 “I tell you the truth, the man who does not enter the sheep pen by the gate, but climbs in by some other way, is a thief and a robber. 2 The man who enters by the gate is the shepherd of his sheep. 3 The watchman opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. 4 When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice. 5 But they will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will run away from him because they do not recognize a stranger’s voice.” 6 Jesus used this figure of speech, but they did not understand what he was telling them.
Jn 10:7 Therefore Jesus said again, “I tell you the truth, I am the gate for the sheep. 8 All who ever came before me were thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. 9 I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. He will come in and go out, and find pasture. 10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.
Jn 10:11 “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. 12 The hired hand is not the shepherd who owns the sheep. So when he sees the wolf coming, he abandons the sheep and runs away. Then the wolf attacks the flock and scatters it. 13 The man runs away because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep.
Jn 10:14 “I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me— 15 just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep. 16 I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd. 17 The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life—only to take it up again. 18 No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father.”
Jn 10:19 At these words the Jews were again divided. 20 Many of them said, “He is demon-possessed and raving mad. Why listen to him?”
Jn 10:21 But others said, “These are not the sayings of a man possessed by a demon. Can a demon open the eyes of the blind?”

Which one are you –
a verse 20 person who thinks Jesus was demon-possessed, or
a verse 21 person who knows the truth?

Stay tuned for more …

References   [ + ]

1. Strong, J. (1995). Enhanced Strong’s Lexicon. Woodside Bible Fellowship.

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