This interpretation places Satan’s revolt after the creation of man but not necessarily after the creation of woman. That revolt would have happened immediately after the creation of man, during the period of six days of creation. Notwithstanding, God would have declared that the creation was very good.
If man hadn’t been created as the Bible says, Satan couldn’t have been unhappy that he wasn’t asked by God regarding that creation. That couldn’t have been the reason for Satan’s revolt, if that revolt happened in reality.
Placing Satan, without any biblical arguments or any kind of other argumentation, in the situation of being God’s counsellor, is wrong. No angels would have counselled God about what to do in His activity in any case. For this reason, Satan couldn’t have expected to be consulted in connection with the creation of humankind. Probably no angels would have been asked about anything regarding the governance of the universe. That we can know for sure from the Bible:
“11 In Christ we have also obtained an inheritance,* having been destined according to the purpose of him who accomplishes all things according to his counsel and will, 12 so that we, who were the first to set our hope on Christ, might live for the praise of his glory.” (Ephesians 1; 11-12 NRSV)
God who accomplishes all things according to His counsel wouldn’t have asked for Satan’s counsel. Did God consult Satan’s opinion when He had created the universe? Of course He didn’t because Satan wouldn’t yet have been created. We don’t know when Satan would have been created by God but he couldn’t counsel God about the creation of angels, including of course his own creation. To place Satan near Christ in importance is an absurd thesis because He is eternal but Satan is a creation.
If asked to have an opinion on the problems of the governance of the universe, Satan would have been part of a democratic system in the “heavens”.
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Being prevented from exercising his right to opinion, Satan would have had a legitimate claim against God. At the same time, one should bear in mind that the Kingdom of God isn’t seen by the Bible as a democratic but it is understood as an autocratic system.
God had taken a decision without consulting the created beings in connection with the creation of man. Did Satan want to be consulted about this decision? That would have been a fight for democracy in the Kingdom of God.
The lack of democracy would have been the motive of Satan’s revolt in the “heavens” in which he attracted a third of all angels. It is clear from the Bible that God rules on the basis of His own principles without asking counsel from any of His creatures. A monotheistic religion is usually based on the duality between good and evil in which the good is promoted by God.
God’s existence without the existence of an agent of evil would place the entire responsibility for the evil in the world on His shoulders. Nevertheless, God knows both the good and the evil and one can ask how He discovered the evil if He is entirely good. Did God learn about the evil from Satan? It is difficult to accept that Satan would have taught God anything. The eternal God wouldn’t have waited until the creation of Satan before understanding what evil means. The Bible says that God knows both good and evil, it doesn’t maintain that God didn’t know what evil means. If God is Omniscient He didn’t learn what evil means from Satan.
The good and the evil are both in God and He had to make a choice between them as human beings do. God had to choose the good rather than the evil when He created the universe. Creation or construction is good, senseless destruction is evil.
Satan could have asked for a more democratic way of governing the universe but he couldn’t have tried to replace God as the Sovereign. None can compare with God, not an angel and none else if He is the uncreated energies who created all that is as theologians believe. If there isn’t a possible comparison there isn’t also the chance for confrontation between God and Satan. They belong to two different dimensions of reality, the infinite and the finite dimensions. In order to be envied by Satan, God of the Bible has to be a Being in the same ontological category as him, for example, as two human beings envy one another.
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Writing about the text in Isaiah 14; 12- 15 Troy Lacey states:
“It is obvious from the text that Satan’s sin was pride. He was so beautiful, so wise, and so powerful as an angel that he began to covet God’s position and authority. He chafed at having to serve God and grew angry and rebellious. He did not want to serve, he wanted to be served; he, as a creature, wanted to be worshipped. How starkly contrasted to our savior Jesus Christ, who came not to be ministered unto, but to minister and to give his life a ransom for many (Mark 10:45).”
I am very suspicious of this type of reasoning which is so widespread because it doesn’t explain at all why so many angels would have supported Satan’s movement against God. If Satan’s pride when comparing himself with God is nonsensical, the pride of ordinary angels who revolted against Him is absurd. The fallen angels would have had their own motivation in rebelling against God and that motivation cannot be explained only by their fidelity to Satan. Their motivation couldn’t have been generated by their wish to be like God.
In the book of Genesis we have a classical story about a fight for power between two leaders of comparable means. This cannot be the description of the Almighty God who cannot be compared with anyone else therefore cannot be challenged by anybody. This fight for power reproduces in another form the classical war between gods found in other mythologies but doesn’t open the understanding of the unique God.
The commentators emphasise a close relation between Satan’s revolt and humankind’s sin. The same author, Troy Lacey, writes in connection to that subject:
“They didn’t just ignorantly decide to eat the fruit, nor did they eat it because “the Devil made them do it.” Satan’s outright lies and cunning half-truths brought something to the surface of Eve’s mind that fateful day.
- 262 -She realized that to “be like gods” meant not having to serve God, it meant being equal to God. It meant that she felt as if God had deliberately kept her and Adam in the dark regarding their “divine potential.” Why should they tend God’s garden in Eden when they could be as gods themselves? Why should they have to obey God if they were also gods? The quickness with which Adam acquiesced to Eve’s offer of the fruit may possibly show that he too harboured these same feelings, or it may mean that Adam, though knowing Eve had sinned willfully decided to throw his lot in with her by deliberately eating from the fruit. Eve had been deceived, Adam had not. In any event, we know that it was Adam’s sin that was responsible for the Fall and the Curse (Rom. 5:12). The sin of pride that led to Satan’s fall had now infected the hearts and minds of Adam and Eve, and the result was the same: shame, loss of wisdom, ruin and death.”
Not having to serve God and being equal to Him are two artificial arguments used in the article. God is a serving divinity and this is determined by His love. We can see that clearly in the life of Jesus therefore to be like God means automatically to serve. Where did Satan see and envy the situation of being served by others? Seeing the service made to God by His creatures, Satan would have been impressed and he would have wanted the same treatment applied to him. There is a contradiction between the understanding of God as love and the idea that He is a Supreme Leader worshiped by everyone. From this contradiction starts the principle of Satan’s revolt.
Seeing service as a one-way road coming only from God’s creation is a very bad theology which generates spiritual damage. God was the first who gave service to humankind. At the same time, none can be equal to God no matter how much he or she wants it. This is an ontological problem. If God is the origin of all things this origin cannot be erased and replaced with a creature. God is an irreplaceable Reality or He isn’t God the Almighty. For this reason, God is unique and cannot be equated with any being. This is another fundamental contradiction of the Bible; either God is the unique source of life and He cannot be equalled by anyone, or He is a Ruler who can be envied and who is susceptible to be contended by someone else.
In my opinion, in the context of the Bible, humankind would have been created after Satan’s fall and as a result of his rebellion.
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Human beings were needed to allow God to demonstrate once again His love for His creation, and that was done at the Cross of Calvary. Without human beings on Earth Christ couldn’t have taken a human body and couldn’t have died on the Cross. Was the Cross important for the angels also? The Bible says that at the Cross God defeated Satan, therefore without the Cross one cannot speak about Satan’s failure. If the Cross never happened Satan wouldn’t have been completely defeated by God.
Some commentators remark that Satan is not a match for God who is All-powerful; he couldn’t have been in a real battle with Him. There is a contradiction between two principles, on one side God who is considered All-powerful and on the other side Satan who could have won a battle against Him. Winning a small battle against God would have made the description “All-powerful” unsuitable. This contradiction is emphasised in an article which can be found on a site named precious-testimonies.com under the title “How Jesus defeated Satan at the Cross”.
At the same time, the book of Genesis maintains that Satan won a battle against God when he succeeded in deceiving Adam and Eve. Following this deceit Satan would have attracted the eternal condemnation to hell of billions of human beings and that is a huge victory against a loving God. This win would have raised questions about God being All-powerful if the story of Adam and Eve was real and not only a myth. The book of Genesis contradicts the image of God being All-powerful.
The creation of humankind would have been a necessary step for God to show His love for His creation at the Cross. Without humankind and their Fall that event couldn’t have happened. The creation of humankind and the embodiment of His Son as a human being was the price that God had to pay in order to assure His victory against Satan. Incomparable as He is, God wasn’t indifferent to angels’ opinions and that is based on His love. God didn’t crush the rebellion against Him but He adjusted His attitude toward the created world. These aren’t facts, it is what the Bible maintains and it is a profound contradiction.
The world will never be the same as the one existing before Satan’s rebellion against God. Good and evil influence each other and in these stories we can see not only how good influences evil but also the way in which evil determines changes in the good.
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This dialectic between good and evil is reduced simplistically by many commentators.
It is unclear if the author of Genesis chapter 2 understood the serpent as a personification of a force of evil acting behind him, or just as an allegoric figure in its own right. Most probably, the latter option is the proper one.
We have references to Satan in Isaiah chapter 14 and Ezekiel chapter 28 but the texts are obscure. Satan is a complex figure with influences from Persian mythology:
“The Jewish, Christian, and Muslim religions are monotheistic faiths, which means their followers believe there is only one God. That God has a powerful adversary known as Satan, or the Devil. Satan’s role changed over time, as the three religions developed. At first he was a creature under God’s control with the task of testing people’s faith. In time, however, Satan came to be seen as the prince of darkness, ruler of all evil spirits, enemy of both God and humankind, and source of treachery and wickedness. The name Satan comes from a Hebrew word meaning “adversary.” It first appears in the Hebrew Bible, or Old Testament. In the book of Job, God allows this adversary—sometimes called Samael in Jewish literature—to heap misfortunes on Job to see whether Job will turn against God. Judaism was influenced by the dualistic Persian religion in which good and evil struggle with each other for control of the universe and for power over human hearts and minds. The Jewish Satan took on some characteristics of Ahriman, the Persian god of evil and ruler of demons.”
Satan revolted against God and would have attracted a number of angels as his followers. God had thrown them from heaven but after Satan’s revolt He would have allowed the devil to take the body of a serpent, to enter the Garden of Eden and tempt the human beings. God had known that Satan cannot be trusted, but regardless of that He would have allowed him to enter the Garden. Even if the Garden of Eden could have been protected against any intrusion by cherubim, it wasn’t guarded against Satan.
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The temptation of humankind was a necessary step in the complex plan of God’s creation. It seems that the Fall was a necessity which allowed God to demonstrate His love for His creation. God’s Son, Jesus, wouldn’t have died for the redemption of humankind without the Fall. The necessity to demonstrate God’s love shows a lack of evidence of it because what is obvious and visible for all doesn’t need demonstration. It is a fundamental dogma that the cross of Calvary was needed to show God’s love for His creation.
In the book of Genesis God was able to throw Satan from heaven but wasn’t capable or willing to stop him entering the Garden of Eden. If God was able to ban Satan from the Garden of Eden why didn’t He do it? The conclusion is that God allowed the temptation of humankind in spite of what the Bible is saying, that He doesn’t tempt anyone to sin. (James 1; 13) It is true that God didn’t directly tempt humankind but He set in place all elements for that temptation.
The Bible is confused about the location of Satan’s revolt. Was it in heaven or in the Garden of Eden? A biblical text places the location of the revolt in the Garden of Eden. As we know the Garden of Eden was on Earth and not in heaven.
“11 Moreover, the word of the LORD came to me: 12 Mortal, raise a lamentation over the king of Tyre, and say to him, Thus says the Lord GOD: You were the signet of perfection,* full of wisdom and perfect in beauty. 13 You were in Eden, the garden of God; every precious stone was your covering, carnelian, chrysolite, and moonstone, beryl, onyx, and jasper, sapphire,* turquoise, and emerald; and worked in gold were your settings and your engravings.* On the day that you were created they were prepared.” (Ezekiel 28; 11-13 NRSV)
According to the most widespread interpretation, Satan, and not the King of Tyre, would have been in Eden, the Garden of God, and the devil is presented in his glory and not as a fallen angel. We know that the King of Tyre couldn’t have been in the Garden of Eden because he didn’t belong to the same generation as Adam and Eve.
Was Satan in the Garden of Eden personified as a serpent or an angel full of wisdom and perfect in beauty, or both? This of course is a contradiction because once in the Garden of Eden Satan would have already been thrown from the “heavens”, losing his prerogatives and his spectacular outfit.
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“18 He said to them, ‘I watched Satan fall from heaven like a flash of lightning.” (Luke 10; 18 NRSV)
How did Satan fall from the “heavens” if he was on Earth in the Garden as a glorious angel? In Eden, the Garden of God which was situated on Earth, Satan would have been covered with many precious stones, but Jesus saw him being thrown from heaven. Either Satan was thrown out from the “heavens” and fell like a flash of lightening or he was a signet of perfection in t/span>he Garden of Eden. These are two different versions which don’t harmonize with one another and shadow the truthfulness of the biblical texts regarding Satan.
Man was also in the Garden, which was planted after his creation. Did man and woman not know about Satan’s revolt if they all were in the Garden? The Garden, in Genesis chapter 2, was planted by God after the creation of man, hence Satan’s revolt would have started after man’s creation according to Ezekiel 28.
We don’t have any argument which would plead for the thesis that there would have been duplicate of the Garden in the “heavens”. Moreover, the Garden of Eden described in connection with Satan was a material, not a spiritual realm, with precious stones and gold.
Why would there have been a Garden of Eden in the “heavens” if man was only on Earth? The Garden would have been planted only after man’s creation and man had to till it and keep it. We don’t have any biblical or rational argument to support such an idea. The Garden of Eden would have been placed only on Earth and that Garden was the region where God spent some of His time, according to Genesis chapter 2.
The future paradise will be also installed on the new earth and not in the heavens, and that strengthens the idea that the old paradise was the Garden of Eden which was situated on Earth.
“Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. 2 And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.” (Revelation 21; 1-2 NRSV)
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If the New Jerusalem will come down out of heaven on the new earth, that means that the paradise would be on that earth, hence we don’t have any reason based on biblical texts to believe that there will be a paradise in the “heavens” also, and that place will host human beings.
The New Jerusalem isn’t a heavenly Garden, a celestial Eden, it is a city, it is the place where God will dwell together with human beings. This is the most important element of the paradise, the presence of God in the same place with the elect human beings. Nevertheless, there are connections between the Garden of Eden from the book of Genesis and the New Jerusalem. According to the book of Revelation, inside the New Jerusalem will also be the tree of life.
There are also differences between the Garden of Eden and the New Jerusalem. In the Garden, Adam had to toil the ground but in the city the streets are made from gold. The city will be surrounded with a great wall and twelve gates and that is unspecific for a garden.
Why would the New Jerusalem need a great wall and twelve gates if there will be nothing on the new earth to threaten the security of the saved human beings? Some people will be saved for eternal life and others will go into the lake of fire. None other than God, His Son, the elected human beings and the faithful angels will be on the new earth. God would regain an undisputed authority over the entire universe following Satan’s defeat. No walls or gates to protect the eternal city, New Jerusalem, will be needed. The images from the book of Revelation generate a confusion comparing the future eternal city with an ancient fortress.
“15 The angel* who talked to me had a measuring rod of gold to measure the city and its gates and walls. 16 The city lies foursquare, its length the same as its width; and he measured the city with his rod, fifteen hundred miles;* its length and width and height are equal. 17 He also measured its wall, one hundred and forty-four cubits* by human measurement, which the angel was using.” (Revelation 21; 15-17 NRSV)
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If none will threaten the security of the New Jerusalem on the new earth, the high walls of the city will be useless. Even if the gates of the city will never be shut the situation doesn’t change the conundrum because the gates will be guarded by angels.
At the same time if Satan was such an important personage in the Garden of Eden, Eve would have heard about him and about his intentions. Did Eve not identify Satan’s voice when she heard the serpent talking to her? She had to know that Satan was God’s enemy if the entire revolt had happened in the Garden of Eden. The book of Genesis didn’t tell us that Adam and Eve would have been implicated in the events generated by Satan’s revolt or that they knew about them, but if that event was real the first human beings would have been necessarily aware of them and would have known the difference between good and evil before eating from the tree of knowledge. The book of Genesis implies that Adam and Eve didn’t know about Satan’s rebellion but in Ezekiel is written that the revolt happened in the same Garden.
It is hard to equate the serpent from Genesis chapter 3 with Satan from other texts of the Bible; they look like two different personages. In Genesis chapter 3 the serpent was an animal living in the Garden of Eden and not a spiritual being. It was a special animal and not a banal one, because unlike other animals, the serpent could speak.
According to the book of Genesis one may assume that the serpent was an animal, which initially had legs. That is a logical conclusion because after the temptation of woman, the serpent was doomed to go onto its belly. For the serpent, going onto its belly was a consequence of the curse and not an innate natural characteristic of that animal.
One may ask if all species of serpents were condemned to go onto their belly, after the temptation of woman, or only the individual which perpetrated the temptation of Eve.
Snakes are elongated, legless, carnivorous reptiles of the suborder Serpents that can be distinguished from legless lizards by their lack of eyelids and external ears.
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According to the Encyclopaedia Britannica serpents are one of the species which go upon their belly, and I quote:
“Snake (suborder Serpents), also called serpent, any of about 2,900 species of reptiles distinguished by their limbless condition and greatly elongated body and tail. Classified with lizards in the order Squamata, snakes represent a lizard that, over the course of evolution, has undergone structural reduction, simplification, and loss as well as specialization. All snakes lack external limbs, but not all legless reptiles are snakes.”
Did all reptiles become legless after the temptation of woman or only the suborder of the serpents? Lizards, as well as other reptiles, are limbless, but they are not serpents and consequently they shouldn’t have been affected by the curse of the serpent, which tempted woman. Why do lizards move on their bellies if they weren’t responsible for woman’s temptation? It is clear that the entire story with the temptation of Adam and Eve is a fable and doesn’t have anything to do with real facts. All reptiles go on their belly, at least this is the norm, and they were created within the six days, according to Genesis chapter 1. If they had been created before humankind the reptiles wouldn’t have been recreated as new species after humankind’s Fall. The reptiles go upon their belly not because one of them has tempted Eve but because this is the characteristic of their kind.
According to the book of Genesis God didn’t punish one individual serpent for its behaviour but He condemned many species of serpents to go on their belly. If the “Squamata” is a new order emerged after the temptation of woman, the creation was not finished in six days and the text in Genesis chapter 1 is wrong when it maintains that the process of creation would have ended when the sixth day of creation expired. Adam and Eve couldn’t have been tempted by the serpent and failing during the six days of creation, and at the same time at the end of them the creation being declared very good.
“Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all their multitude.2 And on the seventh day God finished the work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all the work that he had done.” (Genesis 2, 1-2 NRSV)
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If the order of “Squamata” in which the serpent is included had certain limbs before the human Fall, and as a result of the Fall and of God’s curse moved on the belly, He recreated a certain part of the animal regnum after the sixth day of creation, but this is in contradiction with Genesis chapter 1 which professes that the entire creation was finished in six days. To admit that an entire species of animals were condemned to go onto their belly because one individual tempted Eve is preposterous. This assertion would be even more absurd if we accept that Satan, not the serpent, was the real tempter. Satan was an angel, not a serpent, and he would have used the animal for his ends. Satan hid himself under the guise of a serpent. In such circumstances the animal was a victim, not a perpetrator, and there wouldn’t have been any reason to curse all species of serpents for that. Of course, that is a fable and doesn’t have any sense taken as real facts.
According to Genesis chapter 2, the snake from the Garden of Eden not only spoke unlike other snakes but also had legs which were lost after the temptation of Eve and God’s curse. In the real world, probably, snakes do not resent as a curse going upon their belly, they are very well adapted to this kind of movement which does not generate any inconvenience for them.
“14 The LORD God said to the serpent, ‘Because you have done this, cursed are you among all animals and among all wild creatures; upon your belly you shall go, and dust you shall eat all the days of your life. 15 I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will strike your head, and you will strike his heel.’ (Genesis 3; 14-15 NRSV)
The point is that serpents could not have legs and also be serpents. If the serpents went onto their bellies after God’s curse and as a consequence of the curse, how did they move before the curse? If the serpents moved with legs they were not serpents at all but other species of animals. The allegory with the serpent invalidates the whole story of the Fall of humankind as a factual account.
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The story from Genesis chapter 2 is not accurate and it cannot be trusted as a scientific fact. God’s curse of the serpent is a mythological and also an inconsistent story. At the same time, serpents, of course, don’t feed with dust, as the text from the book of Genesis says. Genesis chapter 2 is an allegory about creation which doesn’t have anything to do with what really happened in the human history.
According to the literal interpretation of the book of Genesis adopted by many believers, the devil entered a serpent and realised the temptation of woman. The animal serpent was not responsible for tempting Eve but Satan was, nevertheless the animal was cursed and punished. The animal was cursed to go upon the belly and not Satan. It is unfair to punish an animal for something for which it isn’t responsible. Punishment does not apply for whichever cannot bear a responsibility. God can do what He wants but He is just and He doesn’t punish anyone who is innocent. This is one of the columns of the Kingdom of God.
The text doesn’t allow us to make the shift from the animal to a spiritual power. It is about an animal, not a spirit, an animal which moves on its belly. In mythologies serpents can talk but of course they cannot do that in reality. The mythological symbolism of the serpent was so complex, in the ancient world, that to limit it only to the biblical interpretation is a form of unwarranted reductionism.
In the O.T. the serpent is in conflict with God, but not with man and woman. He is seen as a bringer of light of the knowledge, something similar to Prometheus, the Greek hero, who brought light to humankind. In Greek mythology, Prometheus is a Titan, a figure who is credited with the creation of man from clay and who defies the gods and gives fire to humanity. The theft of fire is an act that enabled progress and civilization. He is known for his intelligence and as a champion of mankind and in many ways, he is similar to the serpent from the book of Genesis.
The figure of serpent, in the book of Genesis, cannot at all be understood to be isolated from the whole mythological environment, in which the book of Genesis was written.
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“The serpent, or snake, is one of the oldest and most widespread mythological symbols. Snakes have been associated with some of the oldest rituals known to humankind and represent dual expression of good and evil.In some cultures snakes were fertility symbols. In other cultures snakes symbolized the umbilical cord, joining all humans to Mother Earth. The Great Goddess often had snakes as her familiars - sometimes twining around her sacred staff, as in ancient Crete - and they were worshiped as guardians of her mysteries of birth and regeneration. Historically, serpents and snakes represent fertility or a creative life force. As snakes shed their skin through sloughing, they are symbols of rebirth, transformation, immortality, and healing.”
What is the function of the serpent, in the book of Genesis chapter 2? It is an ally of man and woman, an opponent to God, he is on humans’ side. In Genesis chapter 2 not only the serpent but humankind also is an opponent to God. In mythology gods were seen sometimes as positive and sometimes as negative figures. In the Judeo-Christian traditions, God is presumed to be a positive figure, even if He, in the O.T. almost destroyed the human race, through the Flood, killed all first-born children of the Egyptians, and their army, destroyed many ancient civilizations, in order to offer to Israel the promised land. In the O.T. God was presented as a positive figure for anyone who obeyed His laws but very destructive for His human enemies. In the N.T. God is presumed to love His enemies and not to destroy them.
The snake, in the book of Genesis, wanted to open the gates of knowledge for humankind, to show them God’s reasons and strategies, in His dealings with humankind. Of course, the mythological figure, the snake, could be suspected of having its own agenda but this is not necessarily contrary to human interests.
In the Christian tradition we are asked to take sides, to be either on God’s side or against Him, meaning to be on the side of the devil. What would it mean to be just on the human side, to try to understand the universal confrontation between good and evil, from a human perspective? What were God’s reasons, depicted by the Bible, and what were the devil’s motives, according to the same book? What was the issue of the debate between God and Satan and what were the arguments of both sides? The Bible does not give all these answers.
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The struggle for power between God and Satan in the Judeo-Christian tradition looks like a battle between a human King and His vassal. It is not the relationship between the infinite God, the Creator of all things, and one of His creatures, no matter how special this created being was. No creature can replace God and if any created being can do it He is not how the Judeo-Christian traditions describe Him. In those traditions God is Almighty, Omniscient and Omnipresent and most importantly the source of all life. God is unique and He is irreplaceable and His situation is incomparable with anyone else’s. This is a dilemma. If God could have been replaced by Satan following his revolt, all His attributes taught by the Christian doctrines and dogmas are false. At the same time, Satan is described as a very intelligent angel and if this is true he would have understood from the beginning that he couldn’t have won a battle against God. Either Satan is not that intelligent or God is not the unique source of life and can be replaced by one of His creatures.
In the understanding of Christian theology God is not only a King who can be dethroned. He is the existence of all existent things. Such incomparable Reality is degraded by the way in which it is seen by most interpretations of the Bible, mainly those which take literally its texts. If God could be eliminated by a creature He is not infinite but only a finite Reality because an infinite and Omnipresent Reality cannot be eliminated or subdued. This is another inconsistence of the book of Genesis.
At the same time, God couldn’t have been troubled by man who endeavoured to know good and evil. This is the expression of a mythological human understanding of God who cannot be treated as a possible competitor in a universal fight. The infinite God cannot be challenged by the attitude of human beings in their natural request for knowledge. The conflict is not between God and science but it is between a limited understanding of God by many commentators of the Bible and the human knowledge which cannot and should not accept limitations. God doesn’t prevent human beings from knowing Him; the eternal life means an infinite knowledge of Him.
The idea of Satan being the enemy of God in the way presented by the classical theism renders incredible the entire plot of the Bible.
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In a gnostic view things become relatively different with the Demiurge who wouldn’t have tried to replace the Father in His unique situation as the essence of the entire existence, but who tries to become a lesser god dominating humankind.
The indubitable conclusion of many interpretations of the O.T and N.T., is that Satan is an adversary or accuser. In the New Testament, it is interchangeable with “Diabolos”, or devil, and is so used more than thirty times. “He is also called “the dragon,” “the old serpent” (Rev. 12:9; 20:2); “the prince of this world” (John 12:31; 14:30); “the prince of the power of the air” (Eph. 2:2); “the god of this world” (2 Cor. 4:4); “the spirit that now work in the children of disobedience” (Eph. 2:2). The distinct personality of Satan and his activity among men are thus obviously recognized. He tempted our Lord in the wilderness (Matt. 4:1-11). He is “Beelzebub, the prince of the devils” (Matt. 12:24). He is the constant enemy of God, of Christ, of the divine kingdom, of the followers of Christ, and of all truth; full of falsehood and all malice, and exciting and seducing to evil in every possible way. His power is very great in the world. He is a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour (1 Pet. 5:8). Men are said to be “taken captive by him” (2 Tim. 2:26). Christians are warned against his “devices” (2 Cor. 2:11), and called on to resist him (James 4:7). Christ redeems his people from him that. (Heb. 2:14).
One of the most quoted biblical texts about Satan is the following:
“12 How you are fallen from heaven, O Day Star, son of Dawn! How you are cut down to the ground, you who laid the nations low! 13 You said in your heart, ‘I will ascend to heaven; I will raise my throne above the stars of God; I will sit on the mount of assembly on the heights of Zaphon;* 14 I will ascend to the tops of the clouds, I will make myself like the Most High.’ 15 But you are brought down to Sheol, to the depths of the Pit.” (Isaiah 14; 12-15 NRSV)
Parallels are drawn to the passage in Isaiah 14; 4-17 that mentions the morning star that had “fallen from heaven” and was “cast down to the earth”. In verse 12 of this passage, the Hebrew word that referred to the morning star was translated into Latin as Lucifer. With the application to the devil of the morning star story, “Lucifer” was also applied to him as a proper name.
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The Jewish Encyclopaedia states that the myth concerning the morning star was transferred to Satan by the first century before the Common Era, citing in support of this view the Life of Adam and Eve and the Slavonic Book of Enoch 29:4, 31:4, where Satan-Sataniel is described as having been one of the archangels.
Nevertheless, in my opinion, the quoted biblical passage refers more to the king of Babylon than to a spiritual power and that is obvious when reading the whole of chapter 14 of the book of Isaiah. Being in heaven before being cast down to the earth, Satan couldn’t have “laid the nations low” because he couldn’t influence the nations without God’s approval. Angels don’t “lay the nations low”, only a human king or God can do that.
Apparently, Satan’s functions in the Kingdom of God would have been linked with guarding God’s throne, not with leading nations on Earth. At the same time, metaphorically, the text of the Bible could have paralleled the king of Babylon with Day Star. Moreover, the king of Babylon would have been in a situation to “lay the nations low” and he probably did that. A powerful earthly king could have dreamt to become a kind of false god and to be like the Most High, and history recorded many rulers who behaved as gods over their nations or over other occupied nations.
If the Day Star is the same personage as Satan, not only did he say in his heart that he will ascend to heaven, but it was already in heaven if it had fallen from it.
Another passage worth quoting concerning Satan’s identity is found in Ezekiel. This time the quotation is extensive in order to comprise all relevant elements:
“11 Moreover, the word of the LORD came to me: 12 Mortal, raise a lamentation over the king of Tyre, and say to him, Thus says the Lord GOD: You were the signet of perfection,* full of wisdom and perfect in beauty. 13 You were in Eden, the garden of God; every precious stone was your covering, carnelian, chrysolite, and moonstone, beryl, onyx, and jasper, sapphire,* turquoise, and emerald; and worked in gold were your settings and your engravings.*On the day that you were created they were prepared. 4 With an anointed cherub as guardian I placed you;* you were on the holy mountain of God; you walked among the stones of fire. 15 You were blameless in your ways from the day that you were created, until iniquity was found in you. 16 In the abundance of your trade you were filled with violence, and you sinned; so I cast you as a profane thing from the mountain of God, and the guardian cherub drove you out from among the stones of fire. 17 Your heart was proud because of your beauty; you corrupted your wisdom for the sake of your splendour. I cast you to the ground; I exposed you before kings, to feast their eyes on you. 18 By the multitude of your iniquities, in the unrighteousness of your trade, you profaned your sanctuaries. So I brought out fire from within you; it consumed you, and I turned you to ashes on the earth in the sight of all who saw you. 19 All who know you among the peoples are appalled at you; you have come to a dreadful end and shall be no more for ever.” (Ezekiel 28; 11-19 NRSV)
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The text looks like it points towards the king of Tyre. If the text refers to Satan, the serpent from the Garden of Eden, the description of Satan, in the book of Ezekiel, contradicts the depiction of the serpent, in the book of Genesis. Verse 13, from the book of Ezekiel chapter 28, speaks in such terms about the serpent, which categorically contradicts the book of Genesis; hence it isn’t about the same personage. In the Garden of Eden Satan would have taken the form of a serpent or hid behind such an animal, according to Genesis chapter 1, but in Ezekiel 28, in Eden, the garden of God, every precious stone was the devil’s covering.
If Satan was in the Garden of Eden, covered in precious stones, he was not a serpent, an animal, because no animals are covered in precious stones. A special angel covered in precious stones was a material creation, not only a spiritual power hiding behind an animal, in this case a serpent.
What trade could the serpent have done, as an animal, in the Garden of Eden? The serpent didn’t do any trade in the Garden of Eden and that place wouldn’t have been destined for trade. Satan also, if different from the serpent, wouldn’t have done any trade in the Garden of Eden and the king of Tyre who could have done plenty of trade, couldn’t have lived in the Garden.
The two descriptions of Eden and of Satan from Ezekiel and Genesis are incompatible with one another.
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The idea of making trade in the Garden of Eden occupied by only two human beings, Adam and Eve, is an absurd one. Nothing is adding up in the story of Satan and of the Garden of Eden.
In the book of Ezekiel, Satan would have been destroyed in the sight of all who saw him, but in other texts of the Bible the devil will endure until the end of the world. Which one is true out of the two different visions about Satan? Probably nothing is true because serpents don’t talk and aren’t covered in precious stones, and Satan didn’t do any trade in the Garden of Eden. Ezekiel 28, 11-19, doesn’t refer to Satan but can metaphorically speak about a rich king who tried to suppress other neighbouring nations.
In Genesis chapter 3 and Ezekiel chapter 28, Satan was punished twice. In the former he was condemned to go onto the belly and to eat dust, and in the latter he was turned to ashes. Obviously the serpent from Genesis 3 and Satan from Ezekiel chapter 28 are two very different personages. Being consumed by the fire, the personage from the book of Ezekiel cannot be Satan because the devil will be thrown in the lake of fire at the end of the days, hence he has not been consumed by the fire yet. The proposition from Ezekiel chapter 28, verse 18, “so I brought out fire from within you; it consumed you, and I turned you to ashes on the earth in the sight of all who saw you”, speaks of a past event but Satan is still alive.
One may say that the text in Ezekiel addresses two different questions at the same time. One question would be the fate of the king of Tyre and the second one, Satan’s revolt. In my opinion the text can be taken as referring only to the king of Tyre because nothing in Ezekiel 28 is such that it cannot be connected to that king. The signet of perfection, full of wisdom and perfect in beauty, covered by every precious stone, placed with an anointed cherub as guardian and walking among the stones of fire, could very well be a metaphorical description of the king of Tyre if he was a rich person.
In any case, the text from Ezekiel 28 brings forward a metaphor which doesn’t really say anything about Satan’s revolt against God. Another text of the Bible has to be quoted to complete the image of humankind’s Fall in connection with Satan’s fall:
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“3 Then another portent appeared in heaven: a great red dragon, with seven heads and ten horns, and seven diadems on his heads. 4 His tail swept down a third of the stars of heaven and threw them to the earth. Then the dragon stood before the woman who was about to bear a child, so that he might devour her child as soon as it was born. 5 And she gave birth to a son, a male child, who is to rule* all the nations with a rod of iron. But her child was snatched away and taken to God and to his throne; 6 and the woman fled into the wilderness, where she has a place prepared by God, so that there she can be nourished for one thousand two hundred and sixty days. 7 And war broke out in heaven; Michael and his angels fought against the dragon. The dragon and his angels fought back, 8 but they were defeated, and there was no longer any place for them in heaven. 9The great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent, who is called the devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world—he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him.” (Revelation 12; 3-9 NRSV)
As we can see, the text equates Satan with the serpent as being one and the same personage. Taking this observation into consideration, all contradictions between Genesis and the other biblical texts about Satan’s Fall are even better demonstrated. The description of Satan is very different between Genesis and Ezekiel, or between the former and the book of Revelation.
On the other side, if God is perfect in His character, as we are led to believe, what appearance of a fault or pretext could have been used by Satan against Him? What formal accusations could have been brought against Him by the devil in front of all the angels? God’s perfection should exclude and render derisory any accusation against Him. Either God is perfect, and that was obvious for the angels, or He is not perfect, having some apparent imperfections and Satan has used them. Nobody can revolt against perfection, because there is nothing to argue against it. If, nevertheless, someone would have done that, none would have followed and the contender would have remained alone. Not so with Satan’s revolt. He not only was followed by a third of the angels, but also the other two thirds remained with doubts and God would have considered it necessary to develop a very complex plan, in order to dispel their incertitude.
This is the understanding of many Christians. God had created man and woman, in order for Satan to have a stage on which he could demonstrate “in vivo” his theories about freedom and rights.
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The earth was created as a laboratory for the devil’s works in which he was doomed to fail in his attempt to demonstrate a better order than God’s. The faithful angels couldn’t have imagined fully Satan’s promises for another type of government and they needed to see those propositions happening under their eyes on Earth. Without the social experiences made on Earth the faithful angels would have kept in their minds some of Satan’s words and the effects of his revolt would have reverberated forever in God’s Kingdom. Satan’s experiences on Earth would have had, as a result, the conclusion that total independence from God isn’t good because it leads to chaos and destruction.
In reality such demonstration couldn’t have been conclusive because democracy is proven to be better than any authoritarian system, the former bringing personal achievements for much more individual human beings than the latter. At the same time religion didn’t help too much in bringing peace and stability in the world and the name of God was used many times for justifying despicable atrocities. On the other side, mortal life and eternal life are two very different things and it is difficult to judge the value of an order based on eternal life after what happens in a mortal life. When changing the coordinates from eternal to mortal or from mortal to eternal, the mentalities of the conscious living beings would have changed radically.
The fundamental problem is the birth of evil in the world. God could have avoided the apparition of evil in His creation. Evil has a cause and cannot be reduced to one person or one angel. One third of all angels in the heavens followed the evil and rebelled against God. The cause of evil is considered to be pride, the effect of having beauty and personal power. Satan would have been proud and he would have forgotten his place in the creation, and he would have wanted to be like God. Nevertheless, this seems to be an inconsistent interpretation of the fight between good and evil in the Bible. God knows everything beforehand therefore He would have known Satan’s future before the development of the events. Satan’s revolt couldn’t have happened as a surprise for God if He really knows everything.
If God doesn’t know the future and He didn’t know ante factum that Satan would revolt against Him, He isn’t the Almighty presented by the doctrines and dogmas. God could have known at least that an excess of beauty and power can bring someone to pride.
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The creation of Satan as a special angel, as a defender of God’s throne, couldn’t have had any reasonable motive because He didn’t need to be defended from anyone before the revolt. Either God doesn’t know the future and Satan’s revolt wasn’t predicted by Him, or He knows it and He willingly created Satan as a potential agent of evil. The reason could have been the realisation of a complex plan in which humankind also has a place. If God created Satan knowing his potential for evil He is the source of evil in the world.
Many possible scenarios can only try to make sense of an unbelievable story, that of the battle between good and evil from the Bible. It is hard to believe because it contains many illogical elements. One is the revolt of a creature against the Creator and the pretention of that creature to win such a battle against an infinite Reality. Another discrepancy just mentioned is the creation of Satan as a potential factor for the generation of evil. The entire story doesn’t make too much sense and can be inscribed in the mythological genre. If the battle between God and Satan is real, there are many components totally unknown to humankind; hence the Bible doesn’t present authentic revelation in this regard in order to make sense of the story of Adam and Eve.
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