“If God is a good and loving God, why is there a devil?” is a question many have asked. Some add: “Why does God allow the devil to have such a powerful sway over mankind as to cause a lot of trouble and misery in this world? Did God create Satan? If so, how could God have created the devil?!”
Just where did the devil come from?
God the Creator of all things
John 1:3 affirms about God (particularly the “Word” who took on fleshly, human form as Jesus Christ, Verse 14): “All things were made by Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made.” [See: The True Christ.] Chapters 1 through 3 of the Book of Genesis relate about God creating “things,” physical things (made of matter): light, day and night, the firmament, dry land and the seas, all manner of plant life, heavenly bodies that control the seasons and mark time, birds, fish, creeping animals, beasts and, finally, mankind.
Now, here’s a curious thing in this creation account. Genesis 3:1 relates about the serpent as one creature that “was more cunning than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made.” It is curious and unusual — particularly to us human beings who have survived on this planet earth since millennia ago — that an animal would talk in clear and distinct human language, as this serpent did to our first mother Eve: “Has God indeed said, ‘You shall not eat of every tree of the garden’?” etc. [See: “Your Eyes Will Be Opened!”]
Being initially naive, Eve had not known — as we do now — that animals don’t talk exactly like human beings, try as we might to “talk to the animals.” Thus Eve did not find it strange or eerie that a serpent should talk to her. After millennia of hindsight, we can begin to understand that it had to take a non-physical phenomenon for the serpent to have talked in human language [whatever it was then] that Eve could plainly understand! [Of course, it’s a different matter with “animals” talking in man-made cartoon or animated movies — and voiced-over by actual human beings — as compared with the serpent that talked with Eve in Eden.]
The Donkey that Talked
The closest Bible example we can compare the talking serpent at Eden with, is the incident of the ass or donkey of Balaam talking to him [see the story in Numbers 22].
Balaam was an “oracle” (a kind of seer or prophet) that the Moabite king Balak hired to curse the children of Israel that had camped near his kingdom and had made him feel threatened by their presence. God became angry with Balaam for consenting to Balak’s hire despite God’s having forbidden him (Verses 9 through 22).
Verse 22 shows that God then sent His angel to stand in Balaam’s way “as an adversary (enemy) against him.” The donkey saw the angel who, with his sword, caused the donkey to turn aside into a field (Verse 23). Thus, Balaam gave the donkey a whack. Next, the angel caused the donkey to push against a wall, thereby crushing Balaam’s foot against it (Verse 25), for which Balaam again struck his donkey.
Finally, the angel blocked the donkey’s way so that the donkey “lay down under Balaam,” because of which he struck the donkey a third time.
Here’s where the LORD then “opened the mouth of the donkey, [which] said to Balaam, ‘What have I done to you, that you have struck me these three times?'” (Verse 28.) Either God spoke directly through the donkey’s mouth — or He could have used His angel to do this. [See example in John 12:28-29, where the people who heard a “voice from heaven” attributed it to an angel speaking to Jesus.]
The difference between the donkey talking to Balaam and the serpent talking to Eve is that it was a holy angel of God that talked through the mouth of the donkey, while it was the devil that talked through the serpent.
Angels before man’s creation
Since the creation story in Genesis 1-3 concerns God’s work mainly in creating physical, material things, the unusual case of the serpent talking to Eve must be explained in non-physical — that is, in spiritual and beyond mere three-dimensional — terms. The apostle Paul wrote that there are “invisible things” of God (Romans 1:20), and that God’s creation includes both visible [physical, material] and invisible things (Colossians 1:16) — things that are what we have called as being in the “fourth dimension” or beyond. Paul also declared that “the things which are seen are temporal [not permanent], but the things which are not seen are eternal” (2 Corinthians 4:18).
Angels are one such creation of God that are invisible or not seen, although — as the Bible shows in many instances — they [like God Himself, who is Spirit (John 4:24) and invisible (Colossians 1:15; 1 Timothy 1:17; Matthew 11:27)] can appear or manifest themselves visibly or in a vision to men. [See: Genesis 16:7-17; 22:11-15; 31:11; Exodus 3:2; 14:19; Judges 2:1, 14; 5:23; 6:11-22; 13:3-21; 2 Samuel 24:16-17; 1 Kings 19:5-7; 2 Kings 1:3, 15; 1 Chronicles 21:16-20; Daniel 6:22; Matthew 1:20, 24; 2:13, 19; 28:5; Luke 1:11-19, 26-38; 2:9-13; 22:43; Acts 5:19; 8:26; 10:3-7, 22; 11:13; 12:7-12; 27:23; Revelation 1:1; 7:2; 8:3-11:15; 14:6-19; 16:3-17; 17:7; 18:21; 19:17; 20:1; 22:8.]
Angels are the making or creation of God and are His, in order to fulfill His purposes (Psalm 91:11; 103:20; 148:2; Matthew 24:31; Mark 13:27; Luke 12:8, 9; 15:10; John 1:51; 2 Thessalonians 1:7; Hebrews 1:6; Revelation 3:5; etc.). Psalm 104:4 declares that God “makes His angels spirits, His ministers a flame of fire. The apostle Paul [see: Who Wrote the Letter to the Hebrews?] adds about angels: “Are they not all ministering spirits sent to minister for those who will inherit salvation?” (Hebrews 1:14.)
Paul also declared: “For to which of the angels did He [God] ever say: ‘You are My Son, today I have begotten You?’ And again, ‘I will be to Him a Father, and He shall be to Me a Son’?” (Hebrews 1:5.) In context, Paul was referring to the relationship of Jesus Christ, as the “only begotten Son” of God (John 3:16), to the angels. However, by extension the same relationship holds true between angels and human beings who — through Christ, and unlike angels — have the potential to also become the begotten sons and daughters of God, through His Spirit. [See: Are We All God’s Children?]
While Job 38:7 calls angels also “sons of God,” angels were not “begotten” by God through some “reproductive” process, but were apparently individually and directly created. As Jesus indicated, in Luke 20:35-36, angels do not marry nor reproduce as human beings do in this age. [This should debunk the belief of some that the “sons of God” who married the “daughters of men” (Genesis 6:1-2) were angels. The “sons of God” here were human beings who were righteous but sinned in marrying women who were unrighteous, thereby causing great violence and corruption on the earth.] Angels were “sons of God,” in a similar sense as explained in the above-cited article, that all human beings are “sons of God” by creation as physical beings to start with.
Job 38:7 suggests that angels [symbolically called “stars” (see Revelation 1:20)] were already around when the foundation of our planet earth was laid. That was long, long before all the physical creatures described in Genesis 1 and 2 were made by God.
Honest scientists have come to see that, before today’s existing creatures (including man) came into being, there had been a vastly different order of creation on earth. Some have called this the “Jurassic” world or age. More on this later.
Angels who sinned!
Under inspiration by the Holy Spirit, the apostle Peter wrote about “angels who sinned” and whom God “cast…down to hell” [from the Greek tartaroo, which is better translated as ‘a place of restraint,’ according to some scholars], and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved for judgment” (2 Peter 2:4).
How did these angels come to sin? At once two things are vital for us to be able to understand the answer to this question.
1.) No sin without law. In order for God to say that some of His angels sinned, He had to have a basis to say that indeed they had sinned. The apostle Paul was inspired by God to write: “…by the law is the knowledge of sin” (Romans 3:20). And, “…sin is not imputed when there is no law” (Romans 5:13).
Paul wrote even more specifically: “For I would not have known sin except through the law. For I would not have known covetousness unless the law had said, ‘You shall not covet'” (Romans 7:7). [See: No Such Thing as Sin? and Transgressions Under the First Covenant.]
Thus, God would earlier have made known to His angels what sin was in order for them to be charged of sinning against Him! Otherwise it would have been unfair for God to charge them with a wrong which He had not previously defined and explained to them.
2.) Angels had freedom of choice. If God had presented to His angels only one way — that of righteousness, which is basically embodied in His commandments and law (Psalm 119:172) — the angels would have had no choice but to do or observe God’s ways. [God’s law for angels (who are immortal spirit beings) would have to slightly differ in certain respects from God’s law for mortal man.] If the angels had not been given a choice, they would not have been free. And God would only have Himself to “blame” if His creatures acted up, as some of them did! But, no, God cannot take the blame — even though He is in full control.
God knows full well that there is such a thing as “sin” — the opposite of His righteousness, the contrary way of disobedience to His holy, good, just and perfect law (Romans 7:12; Psalm 19:7). 1 John 3:4 (KJV) defines sin as “transgression of the law” [of God]. [See: Two Goats Together, especially the section on “Satan author — or father — of sin?”] And God places the responsibility or accountability (blame?) on the perpetrator of sin — whom He has given freedom of choice.
A “ringleader” of sinning angels
Jude 9 mentions “Michael the archangel.” An archangel is simply an angel who has other angels under his command. For some angels to have sinned, they had — of their own free will — to have followed the lead of their “captain” or “prince.”
The apostle John saw, in vision, a sign in heaven — “a great fiery red dragon” (Revelation 12:3). In Verse 9 John identifies the great dragon as “that serpent of old [harking back to the “old serpent” in Genesis 2 and 3] called the devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world.” In Verse 7 we read of John seeing a vision of Michael (the same archangel mentioned in Jude 9) and his angels fighting against “the dragon and his angels.”
This shows that, like Michael, Satan is also an archangel, with angels under his command. Revelation 12:4 shows that Satan had drawn a third of the angels of God [symbolized here as “stars” like they are, in Revelation 1:20] to his evil cause.
How, then, did Satan come about?
Many Bible students have seen the connection between Satan and the archangel called “Lucifer,” mentioned in Isaiah 14:12-15. [“Lucifer” means “bringer (or carrier) of light.”] In this vision of Isaiah, Lucifer is described as an angelic rebel who had a throne (or position of rule over other angels) but who wanted to exalt his throne over that of the other angels of God (again here, as in Job 38:7 and Revelation 1:20, symbolized as “stars). In fact, Lucifer wanted to set his throne right where God sits, “in the midst of the congregation on the farthest sides of the north” (Isaiah 14:13). He wanted to be God himself [Verse 14 is translated by some as “I will be the Most High”]! God says that only He Himself is God alone, and none else (Isaiah 45:5, etc.) [see: The Divine Prerogatives.]
Many Bible students have also identified Lucifer with the “cherub” [plural “cherubim” or cherubs] described in Ezekiel 28:12-17, symbolized as a “King of Tyre” — a spirit being who has a throne as has a king over many people and goods. Ezekiel 1:4-24 describes the appearance of four “living creatures” that came out from the prophet Ezekiel’s “visions of God” when “the heavens were opened” (Verse 1). These creatures had to be heavenly or spirit beings. In Ezekiel 10:1-18 the living creatures are identified as “cherubim.”
Lucifer one of the “covering” cherubs
Ezekiel 28:14 describes the angelic “King of Tyre” as “the anointed cherub who covers.” That he was not the only cherub who covered or covers the heavenly throne of God is revealed in the furnishings of the tabernacle in the wilderness and, later, of the temple in Jerusalem, originally built by Israel’s King Solomon. Moses was told that these furnishings were “copies” (or types) of the heavenly temple or sanctuary (Hebrews 8:5).
Exodus 25:18-22 and 1 Kings 6:23-27 show that God instructed Moses to make two cherubim that faced each other and whose wings covered the ark’s mercy seat, symbolic of God’s throne and presence. It appears that Michael is one of the two cherubim. The other could be the angel Gabriel, whom Luke 1:19 describes as one who “stands in the presence of God.” If that should be the case, then they would have 2/3 of God’s angels — who remained obedient and holy — under their command, the other third being under Lucifer’s (now Satan’s) command.
Before his fall, Lucifer obviously had been one of the cherubs that covered God’s heavenly throne. It is not clear from the Bible whether Lucifer had been one of three such covering cherubs, or whether only two cherubs had been assigned there, and then another archangel replaced Lucifer when he was assigned elsewhere, as we shall see.
The sin of angels
The cherub or archangel Lucifer is described as being “…the seal of perfection, full of wisdom and perfect in beauty” (Ezekiel 28:12). Indeed Lucifer was God’s perfect angel to bring “light” [true knowledge] to those he was to minister to. He had perfect knowledge of God’s ways.
But, as a free moral agent, Lucifer willingly and knowingly chose and decided to go the opposite of God’s way — he chose to sin, to disobey God’s will, God’s purpose, God’s instructions. As Ezekiel 28:15 puts it about the cherub Lucifer: “You were perfect in your ways from the day you were created, till iniquity was found in you.”
What was Lucifer’s “iniquity” [which also means “lawlessness” — not being subject to God’s laws]?
Isaiah 14:13 declares that Lucifer had a throne and domain. Jude 6 reveals that the sinning angels, with presumably their leader Lucifer, “did not keep their proper domain, but left their own habitation…” Revelation 12:4 indicates that Lucifer (who, as a rebel angel-leader, has turned into God’s adversary or enemy, as the name Satan means) was thrown back to the earth.
Isaiah 14:12 shows that Lucifer was “fallen from heaven” and was “cut down to the ground” — to the earth — where, now as Satan, he has “weakened the nations.” Revelation 12:9 declares that Satan has, in fact, weakened and deceived the whole world (compare with 1 John 5:19) — all of humanity, except for the few whom God has called out of the world in this age. [See: Predestination, This Is Not the Only Day of Salvation, and Are We All God’s Children?]
2 Peter 2:4 shows that Satan and his angels have been cast down “to hell” (as explained earlier, rendered from the Greek tartaroo, meaning some place of restraint). As the story of the patriarch Job shows, Satan can only do things by God’s express permission (Job 1:12; 2:6). God restrains Satan and his lawless ways to some degree now, until he (with his angels and his human followers) is “taken out of the way” (2 Thessalonians 2:7-9). Satan, with presumably his demons, will be bound in an abyss (“bottomless pit,” KJV) for a thousand years while Jesus, with His glorified saints, reigns on earth (Revelation 20:1-4).
Before he fell from heaven, Lucifer had apparently been assigned to the earth as his domain. A serpent in form, Lucifer ruled an earth originally inhabited by many reptilian life forms, now extinct. Because of Lucifer’s sin of rebellion, the earth suffered a great devastation. The fossil records reveal a world of dinosaurs and other now mostly extinct animal and plant life that perished apparently eons ago and whose remains had been an enigma to scientists. Now it can be told!
Before the creation story in Genesis 1-3, there had been a different world order that became (as the word “was” is better translated) “without form and void, and darkness was on the face of the deep” (Genesis 1:2). For more details on this intriguing subject, click on this link: http://www.herbert-armstrong.org, click ENTER HERE and select “Plain Truth (1934-1986),” click on 1960-1969, and scroll down to the Plain Truth issue of November 1963 (Volume XXIII, Number 11), the article titled, “Dinosaurs Before Adam?” on pages 17, 22-26, 42-43. You may also find updated findings on the subject in such links as the following: www.ucg.org/bible-study-tools/booklets/creation-or-evolution-does-it-really-matter-what-you-believe/the-world, select the article titled “The World Before Man.”
Some have speculated that perhaps Lucifer saw his assignment to earth as a kind of demotion. Instead of humbly accepting God’s will, Lucifer may have resented God’s new assignment for him. Some have speculated further that Lucifer’s mission was eventually to bring the perfect knowledge of God to human beings whom God would create in His image, to finally become His very own begotten sons and daughters. God will eventually make clear in His own time what the truth of the matter is.
As Hebrews 1:5 testifies, God has not promised that angels would become His begotten children, as He has promised to human beings. Angels were created by God to become “ministering spirits sent forth to minister for those who will inherit salvation” (Hebrews 1:14) — those human beings begotten and ultimately born as fully immortal children of God.
Could this have proven to be the “last straw” that drove Lucifer into such jealousy and rage as to attempt a “coup-d’etat” to try to unseat God from His heavenly throne? Some have speculated so. Again, God will eventually reveal the truth of the matter.
In any case, can we begin to imagine why, with Satan (the former Lucifer) as the head ruler of “the darkness of this age” (Ephesians 6:12), this present world which he has deceived is wracked with so much misery and suffering because of jealousy, envy, covetousness [which Paul equates with idolatry (Colossians 3:5)], selfishness, competition, murder, etc. Paul wrote that our times today would be characterized by all manner of wickedness (2 Timothy 3:1-7; Romans 1:21-32, etc.) — inspired by the “god of this world” (2 Corinthians 4:4), Satan. Jesus said that, just before His return, things will become so bad as to threaten the very survival of all life on our planet earth (Matthew 24:21-22). [See: “The Next Chapter of History.”]
Light and Darkness
As early as September 1, the many-colored lights of the current holiday (December 25) have brightened many a home here in the Philippines, which reputedly keeps the longest Christmas season in the world. [It is said that Christmas in the Philippines starts when the “-ber” months kick in.]
Beyond the customary merry-making, some who observe Christmas suggest that these lights are symbolic of Jesus Christ, who said: “I am the Light of the world” (John 8:12; 9:5). Referring to Jesus, the apostle John called Him “the light of men” (John 1:4). John the Baptist bore witness of “that light” (John 1:7).
One of the names of Jesus is “the Everlasting Father” (Isaiah 9:6). Jesus addressed His disciples as “little children” (John 13:33). True Christians are thus, in a sense, Jesus’ children. And as a “Father” who is “light” Jesus has also brought forth “sons of light” in contrast to “the sons of this world” (Luke 16:8) — the latter being the sons of the devil (John 8:44). Those who truly believe in Jesus are called “the children of light” (John 12:36; see also 1 Thessalonians 5:5).
The “sons of this world,” however, do not recognize Jesus as the true “light of the world.” John 1:5, referring to Jesus as “the light of men” (Verse 4), says, “And the light shines in the darkness [referring to the world of people who have not truly believed in Jesus], and the darkness did not comprehend it.” Further, in John 3:19-21, the apostle John testifies: “And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God.”
Isaiah 5:20 speaks volumes about our times today: “Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; who put darkness for light, and light for darkness; who put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter.” This is all a part of Satan’s great deception upon mankind (Revelation 12:9). Satan, who is the chief ruler of the darkness of this world, has deceived mankind into thinking that he is the true light when, in fact, he is the “father” of the darkness of this world!
Speaking about false preachers, the apostle Paul made this clear in 2 Corinthians 11:13-15: “For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into apostles of Christ. And no wonder! For Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also transform themselves into ministers of righteousness [supposedly!], whose end will be according to their works.” [See: Switching Positive and Negative.]
It is therefore vitally important for all who truly want to be genuine “children of light” to seek the truth, believe it, and live by it. In the process, they will come to discern falsehood and evil. As Paul set the example, they will not be ignorant of Satan’s devices (2 Corinthians 2:11). [See: “Your Eyes Will Be Opened!” Beware of False Prophets, True Worship, Is Jesus Your Lord — Really? and “I Never Knew You!”]
The good news!
The gospel (which means “good news”) of Jesus Christ is that He is coming soon to intervene just in time, to keep man — now Satan-driven to violence — from destroying himself completely. Among the first things Jesus will do at His return is to put away Satan, who is the instigator of mankind’s evil society and culture that is bringing mankind on the brink of extinction. Jesus will have Satan bound in a “bottomless pit” — a kind of spiritual prison house — where Satan and his minions (angels, now demons) will be grounded from influencing mankind to do evil (Revelation 20:1-4). Jesus will also destroy human beings who will continue in Satan’s evil ways and refuse to change and embrace God’s righteous ways instead (Revelation 11:18; Isaiah 66:15-16; 24:6; 6:12-13)).
Then Jesus will set up God’s kingdom or government here on earth that will bring about true peace and prosperity, which all men seek but do not know the way to achieve it. [See: World Peace — At Last! and God’s Kingdom and Israel.]
It may seem like the heyday of Satan and his demons in this world’s society has been so long — about 6,000 years plus, as some believe how the Bible reckons it. For us mortal human beings, that seems like an awfully long time to suffer under Satan’s sway over all the earth now. However, in God’s eyes that is only a brief time! “But, beloved,” wrote the apostle Peter, “do not forget this one thing, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day” (2 Peter 3:8). Those who are Godly will learn to see time as God sees it, and learn patience!
In the meantime, the presence of Satan and his demons in this world has served in various trials which they cause mankind, to help perfect the character of those whom God has elected to salvation in this age (1 Peter 1:6-7; 4:12; James 1:2-4; Acts 14:22; Romans 5:3; 1 Thessalonians 3:4; etc.). [See: The Flaming Sword East of Eden.]
It should be a comfort that, even with Satan ruling the earth today, he only has 1/3 of all God’s angels, while 2/3 of God’s angels have remained holy and faithful. As Elisha reassured his servant in the face of advancing forces against Israel, “Do not fear, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them” (2 Kings 6:16, etc.).
Where is Satan going?
As mentioned earlier, Revelation 20:11-4 says that, when Jesus returns to earth, He will have Satan [and his demons as well (Jude 6)] bound in some prison (“bottomless pit,” from the Greek abussos, meaning abyss). There Satan and his demons will not be able to deceive the nations all through the 1,000 years of Jesus’ reign on earth with the glorified saints.
Verse 3 says that “after these things he [Satan] must be released for a little while.” Verses 7-10 explain what Satan will do at or toward the end of that period, to the nations of the earth named “Gog and Magog.” For more on how this prophecy ties in with Ezekiel 38-39, see: Two Goats Together, particularly the sections on “When will Satan be bound?” and “An interim period.” In Matthew 25:41 Jesus mentions “…the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels.” Revelation 20:10 hints about the time this “everlasting fire” will take place: the same time that the unrepentant wicked are thrown into the lake of fire (Revelation 21:8). [“Everlasting fire” can be understood to mean the same as what Jesus described as fire “that shall never be quenched” (Mark 9:43-46, 48) to destroy wicked men. It is “everlasting” in the sense that it will not be quenched or put out, but will burn until there is no more combustible material to burn. Jesus warned that we are to “fear Him (God) who is able to destroy both body and soul in hell (Greek gehenna). Malachi 4:3 plainly says that the wicked will become “ashes under the soles” of the feet of the righteous. Lifeless ashes — not everlasting life in an ever-burning hell-fire — will be the end of the wicked. See: What Happens to Man After Death? and Why Is the “Unpardonable Sin” Unpardonable?]
Satan and his demons being made of spirit and thus apparently indestructible by physical fire, their being thrown into the lake of fire would seem to merely emphasize that they are all together with wickedness and unrepentant wicked men — they all belong together.
As for the ultimate judgment on Satan and his demons, we have this clue from the apostle Paul: “Do you not know that we [true Christians] will judge [notice the setting is yet in the future, not in this present age] angels ” (1 Corinthians 6:2)? The glorified saints of God — perfected in Godly judgment — will sit together as a body to decide what the ultimate fate of Satan and his demons will be. It is the better part of wisdom for us mortal humans not to judge now what is ultimately to become of Satan, beyond what God has revealed in His Word so far. As the apostle Paul instructed: “Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord come…” (1 Corinthians 4:5).
Some have taken the posture as the “devil’s advocate.” They propose that God should show Satan and his demons mercy and forgiveness, and that they will eventually all repent of their sin. In my view, it seems more likely than not, that Satan and his demons have committed the “unpardonable sin.” For more on the Bible regarding this subject, see: Why Is the “Unpardonable Sin” Unpardonable?
For those who understand God’s plan for mankind and God’s angels, let Paul’s comforting words encourage us: “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ [see: The Four Dimensions of Christ’s Love]? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?…in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:35, 37-39).
That ought to give us confidence in God’s sovereign power and make us not fear what Satan and his demons might do to us in this present life. 1 John 4:4 assures us: “You are of God, little children, and have overcome them [those of “the spirit of the Antichrist,” Verse 3], because He who is in you [Jesus Christ and God the Father] is greater than he who is in the world [Satan].” God is in complete control of everything!
Pedro R. Meléndez, Jr.