Some say that God and Satan are not real. Instead, there is a ying and yang that occurs in the universe. They say there is a battle between the forces of good and evil without any real “persons” behind the things that occur.
Yet, the Bible describes Satan who once was one of God’s angels but now is God’s enemy. Let’s take a look at what the Bible says about Satan and his fall from heaven.
The Fall of Satan
I. SATAN’S FIRST FALL[ref]Regarding the time of this fall, “Scripture is silent on this point, but it is clear that the fall of the angels occured before the fall of man, since Satan entered the garden in the form of a serpent and induced Eve to sin (Gen 3:1ff)” (Henry Thiessen, Lectures in Systematic Theology, p. 136)[/ref]
I believe that the Bible describes two falls of Satan. One is a fall that has already occurred in history. The other one will occur during the future seven-year Tribulation on the earth. First, let’s look at the fall of Satan which has already occurred.
A. The Fall of Satan[ref]Another way to outline this post would be “Picturing the Past” and “Prophesying the Future”[/ref]
In the book of Ezekiel God gives the prophet Ezekiel a message to the king of Tyre. In Ezekiel’s time kings thought that they were “semi-gods” and often would make gestures, erect buildings, and have people worship them as if they were gods. Additionally, Satan often works through men, kings, and rulers. The message God has Ezekiel give to the king of Tyre incorporates the message God spoke to Satan after his fall from heaven.
Then this further message came to me [Ezekiel] from the LORD: “Son of man, sing this funeral song for the king of Tyre. Give him this message from the Sovereign LORD: “You were the model of perfection, full of wisdom and exquisite in beauty. You were in Eden, the garden of God. Your clothing was adorned with every precious stone— red carnelian, pale-green peridot, white moonstone, blue-green beryl, onyx, green jasper, blue lapis lazuli, turquoise, and emerald— all beautifully crafted for you and set in the finest gold. They were given to you on the day you were created. I ordained and anointed you as the mighty angelic guardian. You had access to the holy mountain of God and walked among the stones of fire. “You were blameless in all you did from the day you were created until the day evil was found in you. Your rich commerce led you to violence, and you sinned. So I banished you in disgrace from the mountain of God. I expelled you, O mighty guardian, from your place among the stones of fire. Your heart was filled with pride because of all your beauty. Your wisdom was corrupted by your love of splendor. So I threw you to the ground and exposed you to the curious gaze of kings. You defiled your sanctuaries with your many sins and your dishonest trade. So I brought fire out from within you, and it consumed you. I reduced you to ashes on the ground in the sight of all who were watching. All who knew you are appalled at your fate. You have come to a terrible end, and you will exist no more.” (Ezek 28:11–19, NLT)[ref]Unless otherwise noted, all translations are from the New Living Translation[/ref]
Here are a few observations about the fall of Satan from heaven and the relationship Satan lost with God. Satan was the “model of perfection” and full of “wisdom” and “exquisite in beauty” (v. 12). Satan was there in Eden the garden of God (v. 13). He was beautiful and (v. 13) a mighty angelic guardian (v. 14). In that position he had access to God’s holy mountain (v. 15). Satan was a “created” angel (vv. 13, 15) and was blameless in all he did (v. 15). At verse 16 the text focuses on Satan’s fall from God’s grace. Satan was “rich in commerce” which led to being “banished in disgrace” (v. 16). Because of Satan’s sin God “expelled” Satan (v. 16). He was “filled with pride” and “corrupted” which is why God threw him to earth (v. 17). The “many sins” of Satan led to God sending him away (v. 18).
In all honesty, not all Bible scholars see Ezekiel as describing the fall of Satan (Thompson, “Ezekiel,” in Cornerstone Biblical Commentary, 169-174; Alexander, “Ezekiel,” in The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, vol. 7, 800; H. D. M. Spence-Jones, ed., Ezekiel, vol. 2, The Pulpit Commentary, 101-103). However, I believe “the best explanation is that Ezekiel was describing Satan who was the true ‘king’ of Tyre, the one motivating the human ‘ruler’ of Tyre.” (Charles H. Dyer, “Ezekiel,” in The Bible Knowledge Commentary, vol. 1, 1283).
This passage in Ezekiel is not the only place in the Bible that the first fall of Satan is described. Let’s look at the others.
1. Jesus Describes It
Satan’s fall from God’s grace might be mentioned in the Gospel of Luke. Jesus had sent out seventy-two of his disciples (Luke 10:1) to do ministry in the towns that Jesus planned to visit. When the seventy-two returned and joyfully told Jesus that things had gone well (Luke 10:17) Jesus responded, “I saw Satan fall from heaven like lightning!” (Luke 10:18).
Warren Wiersbe comments on this verse saying, “They [the seventy-two] had seen individual victory from city to city, but Jesus saw these victories as part of a war that dethroned and defeated Satan” (Wiersbe, Be Compassionate, 134).
2. John Sees It
Revelation 12 describes a war in heaven in which Michael and his angels fight against Satan and his angels (Rev 12:7). While the passage in Revelation 12:7-13 describes a future event in which Satan is thrown down from heaven to earth during the seven year Tribulation period, it is of my opinion that Revelation 12:7-13 also describes the original rebellion of Satan.
In the passage in Revelation 12 the apostle John heard a loud voice from heaven say, “The accuser of our brothers and sisters has been thrown down to earth-the one who accuses them from before our God day and night (v. 10) . . . for the devil has come down to you in great anger (v. 12) . . . When the dragon realized that he had been thrown down to the earth, he pursued the woman [the nation of Israel] who had given birth to the male child [Jesus] (v. 13).” I believe this alludes to the original rebellion of Satan.
B. The Sin of Satan
While Ezekiel 28 describes the “fall of Satan,” Isaiah 14 describes the describes the “sin of Satan” and how he actively rebelled against God. Like Ezekiel 28, the passage in Isaiah 14 is a message from God sent to a prophet to be delivered to a neighboring king. Isaiah 14 is meant for the king of Babylon who was a very arrogant king who believed he was a “mighty man” (Isa 14:4).
How you are fallen from heaven, O shining star, son of the morning! You have been thrown down to the earth, you who destroyed the nations of the world. For you said to yourself, “I will ascend to heaven and set my throne above God’s stars. I will preside on the mountain of the gods far away in the north. I will climb to the highest heavens and be like the Most High.” Instead, you will be brought down to the place of the dead, down to its lowest depths. Everyone there will stare at you and ask, “Can this be the one who shook the earth and made the kingdoms of the world tremble? Is this the one who destroyed the world and made it into a wasteland? Is this the king who demolished the world’s greatest cities and had no mercy on his prisoners?” (Isaiah 14:12–17)
Notice the prideful “I will” statements in this passage.
- “I will ascend to heaven and set my throne above God’s stars” (v. 13) – This is a prideful statement about how Satan wanted to be mightier and more powerful than God.
- “I will preside on the mountain of the gods far away in the north” (v. 13) – Among anyone else Satan wanted to be “the man” in charge.
- “I will climb to the highest heavens and be like the Most High” (v. 14) – Satan was not the most powerful (cause God was) yet he wanted more power and influence than what God had granted him.
C. Evidences and Parallels
The two main passages that described the original first fall of Satan from heaven are in Isa 14:12-17 and Ezek 28:11-19. In addition to these two main passages there are other parts of Scripture that describe his fall. When you put all of these together, you notice three common themes of Satan.
1. Created Perfect
A long list of precious stones were given to Satan when he was created (Ezek 28:13). He was the “mighty angelic guardian” (Ezek 28:14). He was “blameless” in all that he did from the day he was “created” until the day he fell to evil (Ezek 28:14).
2. Prideful and Aggressively Envious
Pride and envy were the reasons Satan was kicked out of heaven. Isaiah records Satan’s words, “I will ascend to heaven and set my throne above God’s stars. I will preside on the mountain of the gods far away in the north. I will climb to the highest heavens and be like the Most High” (Isa 14:13–14).
In Paul’s first letter to Timothy Paul was giving instructions for elders of the church and told Timothy that an elder “must not be a new believer, because he might fall into the same judgment as the devil” (alternate reading in the footnote of the NLT in 1 Tim 3:6).
Part of Satan’s fall was because his “heart was filled with pride” and his wisdom was “corrupted by his life of splendor” (Ezek 28:17). Satan was prideful and envious.
The First Judgment.
Almost all parts of Scripture that described the fall of Satan mention his past and future judgement. The first judgment occurred at his first fall. Isaiah wrote that Satan had “been thrown down to the earth, you who destroyed the nations of the world” (Isa 14:12).
In Ezekiel God told Satan, “I threw you to the ground and exposed you to the curious gaze of kings. You defiled your sanctuaries with your many sins and your dishonest trade. So I brought fire out from within you, and it consumed you. I reduced you to ashes on the ground in the sight of all who were watching (Ezek 28:17-18).
Earlier in this post I mentioned the ministry of the seventy-two and when they returned and reported on how well their ministry went Jesus responded, “I saw Satan fall from heaven like lightning (Luke 10:18).
The Final Judgment.
In the book of Revelation the apostle John sees a vision that predicts the future final judgment of Satan, “Then there was war in heaven. Michael and his angels fought against the dragon and his angels. And the dragon lost the battle, and he and his angels were forced out of heaven.” (Revelation 12:7–8). Later in the book of Revelation the final judgment of Satan is described,
Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven with the key to the bottomless pit and a heavy chain in his hand. He seized the dragon—that old serpent, who is the devil, Satan—and bound him in chains for a thousand years. The angel threw him into the bottomless pit, which he then shut and locked so Satan could not deceive the nations anymore until the thousand years were finished. Afterward he must be released for a little while. (Rev 20:1–3)
A thousand years later after the saints have reigned with Christ for a thousand years on earth the judgment continues,
When the thousand years come to an end, Satan will be let out of his prison. He will go out to deceive the nations—called Gog and Magog—in every corner of the earth. He will gather them together for battle—a mighty army, as numberless as sand along the seashore. And I saw them as they went up on the broad plain of the earth and surrounded God’s people and the beloved city. But fire from heaven came down on the attacking armies and consumed them. Then the devil, who had deceived them, was thrown into the fiery lake of burning sulfur, joining the beast and the false prophet. There they will be tormented day and night forever and ever. (Rev 20:7–10)
II. SATAN’S SECOND FALL[ref]Another outline idea: Satan’s Fall from Heaven (Ezek 28:11-19; Isa 14:12-17), Satan’s Future on Earth (Rev 12:7-13), Satan’s Fate in Hell (Rev 20:1-3).[/ref]
Most of this post has been dedicated to Satan’s original rebellion and removal from heaven. However, there will be another “fall” from grace with God by Satan in the future when Christ no longer tolerates the havoc he causes on earth. I am a dispensational pretribulational premillennialist. With that said, I believe there will be a future 1,000 year reign of Christ with his saints on earth. Revelation 20 describes that 1,000 year reign with Christ on earth. The beginning of the chapter starts with how an angel places Satan in prison for that 1,000 year reign,
Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven with the key to the bottomless pit and a heavy chain in his hand. He seized the dragon—that old serpent, who is the devil, Satan—and bound him in chains for a thousand years. The angel threw him into the bottomless pit, which he then shut and locked so Satan could not deceive the nations anymore until the thousand years were finished. Afterward he must be released for a little while. (Rev 20:1-3)
Christ and his holy saints reign for one thousands years on earth in peace. After this,
When the thousand years come to an end, Satan will be let out of his prison. He will go out to deceive the nations—called Gog and Magog—in every corner of the earth. He will gather them together for battle—a mighty army, as numberless as sand along the seashore. And I saw them as they went up on the broad plain of the earth and surrounded God’s people and the beloved city. But fire from heaven came down on the attacking armies and consumed them. Then the devil, who had deceived them, was thrown into the fiery lake of burning sulfur, joining the beast and the false prophet. There they will be tormented day and night forever and ever. (Rev 20:7-10)
The second fall of Satan is his banishment to the bottomless pit for 1,000 years (v. 2) and his final punishment location to the fiery lake of burning sulfur for eternity (v. 10).
III. CONCLUSION AND APPLICATION
A. God does not expect a lot from us, but what he does expect is not negotiable.
The God that we as Christians worship does not expect us to eat a specific diet, dress a certain way, or have a specific prayer ritual. In a way, he does not place a lot of expectations on us. But the expectations that he does provide us are not negotiable. First, we are to call him “Lord” of our lives. We worship no other person except the almighty God. Second, we are to focus our attention to him in all we do. In a way there is no “secular vs. spiritual” divide to the Christian. To the Christian all things should be done with a focus on Christ.
B. Beware of pride.
In Dwight Pentecost’s great book about Satan, Your Adversary the Devil, he writes,
A man today may walk according to Lucifer’s pattern. He may become proud of his education, of his intellectual capacities, of his attainments and not recognize that all that he has is a gift from God. He may become proud of all he has in the material realm and fail to recognize that it has come from God. He may become proud of his position in the professional world and not recognize that it too is God’s gracious gift. When a man sees himself apart from God, then he is perpetuating the sin. (Pentecost, Your Adversary the Devil, 19)
We as Christians need to beware of pride in our lives.
C. God gets the final word.
One of the reasons that Revelation 20 is one of my favorite passages of Scripture is that God is the one who gets the final word. After all of the battles and struggles that occur on the earth between Satan and humans on earth, God gets the final word with Satan and sends him to punishment forever.