THE UNSEEN WORLD... SATAN
Biblical Research Monthly, April 1943
Dr. David L. Cooper
WE HAVE, in the preceding articles of this series, discussed in a general way the subjects: The Almighty and The Angels. It is therefore proper for us to consider the biblical teaching regarding Satan, the great adversary of God and man.
In the preceding article we learned that prior to the beginning of the world, the Lord created the angelic hosts. These sang together and shouted for joy when the Almighty brought the material universe into existence (Job 38:7). The chief of all the created beings was Satan. In Job chapters 40 and 41, we have a very vivid, graphic description of this sinister spirit. In 40:15-24 he is spoken of under the symbolism of "behemoth" or "the hippopotamus." Of this one the Lord declared (vs. 19):
He is the chief of the ways of God:
He only that made him giveth him his sword.
The word rendered "chief" means primarily head, first, or beginning. Thus this one of whom God was speaking was the first of the Almighty's ways. That statement means that this one was the first one whom God created.<<<< previous next >>>>
In Job 41 this same one is represented as "leviathan" (vs. 1). The description of this one goes far beyond any animal, although the term leviathan or crocodile is applied to him. What is here said of him could be spoken of no animal. For instance, when he raises himself up, the mighty are afraid (vs. 25); he counts iron as straw and brass as rotten wood (vs. 27); clubs are considered by him as stubble, for he laughs at the rushing of the javelin (vs. 29); and he is king over all the sons of pride (vs. 34). Similar conceptions of him are employed by the sacred writer in Psalm 74:13,14. An examination of verses 12 to 17 of this passage shows that the psalmist was speaking about the disaster that is recorded in Genesis 1:2 and of the work of the second, third, and fourth days which are mentioned in Genesis 1. Without doubt Isaiah was speaking of Satan in 51:9,10. Here again the same imagery is used. When Satan was created he was given the highest position in the universe under God. A marvelous study concerning his original station is set forth in Ezekiel 28:11-19. In the first ten verses of this chapter the prophet addressed the King of Tyre, the sovereign of the city which became the leading commercial power in the ancient world during the Persian period and up to the time of the conquests of Alexander the Great. After his day, Carthage, one of the colonies of Tyre, played the role of the mother-city to a great extent and even vied with Rome itself. The King of Tyre, whom the prophet addressed, by his shrewdness and manipulations in the commercial world, caused much of the wealth of the nations to gravitate to himself. He became proud and haughty as a result of his accumulated treasures and his unchallenged power. By the time the prophet reached verse 12 of this chapter, he ceased to move in a purely human realm and began to traverse a sphere whose limits by far transcended those of any mortal man. For instance, in this verse he spoke as if he were still addressing the King of Tyre; nevertheless he said, "Thou sealest up the sum, full of wisdom, and perfect in beauty. Thou wast in Eden, the garden of God ..." This language means that the one whom the prophet was addressing possessed the perfections of wisdom and beauty in the highest degree; yet we are to understand that he was a created being, for in verse 13 he is spoken of as having been created. This one was therefore the very highest type of being possible. Moreover, he occupied the most exalted position in the great economy of God, for in Ezekiel 1 and 2 we have a vision of the throne of God which was supported by cherubim who were engulfed in thunderous flames of fire. Over and above these cherubim was this "anointed cherub that covereth." This language can mean nothing but that this one of whom he was speaking was occupying the highest position of authority and power over, not only the cherubim supporting the throne of God, but also all other angelic beings. From these three chapters Ezekiel 1, 2, and 28 we conclude that this one, the anointed cherub that covereth, was the highest type of being that could possibly be created, and that he possessed authority which was not delegated by the Almighty to any other being. Satan's position therefore was as head authority over all the created beings. As such he was first under God in command. At that time he walked up and down in the stones of fire upon which the firmament rested that was the support of the throne of God. This seems to have been Satan's position prior to the creation of the world. After the calling of the universe into existence, it appears from Ezekiel 28 that Satan was assigned a special duty--that of ruling this earth. In placing him here the Lord did not demote him but rather gave him additional duties and responsibilities. He was therefore in what might properly be termed the crystal palace in Eden, the garden of God, during the period of time which lapsed between the creation of the world and the catastrophe which reduced it to the waste conditions mentioned in Genesis 1:2. Thus during those long geological periods, which we know intervened between the events of the first and second verses of Genesis 1, Satan was the god of this world (For a full discussion of this point see "Eternity or the Plan of the Ages" in The World's Greatest Library Graphically Illustrated by David L. Cooper). A careful study of Ezekiel 28:11-19 leads one to believe that Satan as the prince of this world, while still in fellowship with God and in obedience to His will, directed the traffic of the universe. Finally, unrighteousness, because of his accumulated riches and increased power, entered his heart.
As suggested in the sentence above, after Satan had exercised sovereignty over this world, under the supervision of God, of course, he became proud and haughty, thinking that he could throw off the yoke of the Almighty's authority and could take the world into his own hands and run it for himself. As proof of this position one should study Ezekiel 28 and then read carefully Isaiah 14:12-14. From this latter passage we see that there was a time when Satan felt that he could exalt himself above God and could overthrow the authority of the Almighty. He therefore led a rebellion among the angelic hosts in an attempt to dethrone God. There are certain reverberations of this historic rebellion found here and there in the Scriptures. For instance, this is echoed in Job 25. The occasion of Satan's downfall seems to have been his pride as is stated in I Tim. 3:6. One sees another glimpse of this uprising against the Almighty in Revelation 12:1-4. At that time Satan influenced one-third of the angels to join in his revolution against God.
Although Satan was cast from his high estate and has been shorn of much of his great authority, he is yet powerful and is continuing his plottings against the Almighty and against His people. By the sufferance of God, he is permitted to inhabit the air together with his hosts. Paul, in Ephesians 2:1f, spoke of him as "the prince of the powers of the air, of the spirit that now worketh in the sons of disobedience." The Apostle Peter thought of him as a roaring lion which goes to and fro throughout the earth, seeking whom he may devour. Satan is constantly plotting against the people of God today. They have neither the wisdom nor the strength to match swords with him and his great hosts. The Apostle Paul, realizing these facts, urged the Ephesian Christians to put on the whole armor of God and to set their heart to stand against him. Of course, man cannot do this in his own strength. He is therefore urged to be made strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Then he is to take the offensive against Satan. If one will only resist the devil, strong in his faith, the latter will flee from him. We can, through the power of Christ, be made to stand and can become more than conquerors through Him.
While Satan is very powerful, he is not all-powerful but is limited in his strength and activities. He must first obtain permission from the Almighty to approach any one of the Lord's people. When God does grant him permission to test any of His people, He always imposes restrictions and places barriers around His child. Satan must respect these (See Job 1 and 2 and I Cor. 10:13).
Eventually Satan, together with all the wicked host under him, will be incarcerated in the pit of the abyss. This will take place at the end of the Tribulation, for in Isaiah 24:21-22 we see a prediction of their imprisonment. This prophecy of Isaiah is confirmed by Revelation 20:1-4.
Finally, after the Millennium has passed, at the judgment of the great white throne Satan will be cast into the lake of fire where he, together with all of those who reject the atoning blood of the Lord Jesus Christ, will spend eternity (Rev. 20:8-10).
Thanks and praise to God who gives us the victory over Satan.