Satan has increased his presence in the decades following the first screening of the film Rosemary’s Baby Across North America and South America more and more unusual or unexplained events are being identified as “Satanic”.
Despite his fame in fictional stories throughout the ages, it may surprise some of you to learn that almost nothing is written of Satan in the entire Old Testament. The only significant mention of him is in the book of Job, wherein we see the first example of a most curious, if often overlooked, aspect of Satan - that he asks for, and receives permission from God, to test anyone who claims to have faith.
Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before JHVH, and Satan came also among them.
And JHVH said unto Satan, Whence comest thou? Then Satan answered JHVH, and said, From going to and fro in the earth, and from walking up and down in it.
And JHVH said unto Satan, Hast thou considered my servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God, and escheweth evil?
Then Satan answered JHVH, and said, Doth Job fear God for nought? Hast not thou made an hedge about him, and about his house, and about all that he hath on every side? thou hast blessed the work of his hands, and his substance is increased in the land. But put forth thine hand now, and touch all that he hath, and he will curse thee to thy face.
And JHVH said unto Satan, Behold, all that he hath is in thy power; only upon himself put not forth thine hand. So Satan went forth from the presence of JHVH. Job 1:6-12
Here Satan is saying that Job only loves
God because God has blessed him with a prosperous life, and that if
these blessings were removed, Job would easily curse God. A
reasonable, if somewhat cynical, position. God told him to do his
worst and Satan went to work.
And lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. Then was Jesus led up of the spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil Matthew 3:17The traditional devil, or Satan, is a concept which has developed over the centuries. It is almost totally a Christian creation. Of all the religions in the world, only the Christians and Moslems, and some Jews, believe in the existence of such a being. In the Old Testament, Satan is not the proper name of a particular being. Nor does it refei~ to a demonic being who is the enemy of God. In its original application, it was a common noun which meant an adversary who opposed something. It was a human being who was an adversary, or satan, in I Samuel 2 9:4, 11 Samuel 19:22, 1 Kings S: 4, 14, 23and 25. In Numbers 22:22 we read. And God’s anger was kindled because (Baalim) went. And the angel of the LORD stood in the way for an adversary against him.” Again the word “adversary” found here is, in Hebrew, “satan”. There, is nothing in this text that would suggest that being a satan, or adversary, was the permanent function of a particular angel. Evidently this angel was chosen ad hoc for this occasion. In Psalms 109:6-9, it says- “Give him over to wickedness, and let Satan stand at his right hand to accuse him. When he is taken to, court, let his plea be considered a wrong, and let the court find him guilty. Let his days be few and let another take his office.” Here the word refers to a prosecutor in a court of law. Satan was first used as the appellation of particular angel around 520 B.C. in Zechariah 3 where he acts as a prosecutor in the celestial court.
Then he shewed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the LORD, with Satan standing at his right hand to accuse him. And the LORD said unto Satan, The LORD rebuke thee, Satan, the LORD rebuke thee who hast put Jerusalem to trial: - Zechariah 3:1-2Fundamentalist ministers will jump in quickly at this point and quote their two favorite “Satan” passages - Ezekiel 28 and Isaiah 14. ,Let’s look, at these two chapters and see what they actually say..
How art thou, fallen from heaven, 0 Lucifer, son of the morning! How thou art cut down to the ground, ye who didst destroy the nations! For thou hast said in thine heart, ‘I will ascend into heaven. I will set my throne high above the stars of God. I will sit also upon the mount of the covenant, on the northern sides. I will ascend above the heights of the clouds, I will be like the most high.’ Yet thou shalt be brought down to hell, to the depths of the pit. Isaiah 14:12-15That does sound like the Sunday School story of Satan, doesn’t it? Let’s take a look at verse 4, the beginning verse of this passage: Thou shalt take up this song of derision against the King of Babylon and say, How hath thy oppressions ceasetu Thy golden-city is at-an end! - - The phrase the mount of the covenant, etc., is generally understood by educated Bible scholars as a reference by the King of Babylon to the northern mountains upon which, according to Babylonian mythology, the gods were supposed to meet and ponder the fate of mankind. So you see this chapter has nothing to do with Satan or the Devil. It is a taunting speech directed against the King of Bablygri who was oppressing Jerusalem in the days of the Prophet Isaiah. It may well be that Daniel 4 is the record of the fulfillment of this prophecy. Now let’s look at Ezekiel:
Thou hast been in Eden, the garden of God. Every precious stone was thy covering, ruby, topaz and diamond, betyl, onyx and jasper, sapphire, emerald and opal. Workmanship of gold were by beads and bangles prepared fot thee the day thou wast created. Thou art the annointed cherub that covereth and I have set thee so. Thou wast upon the holy mountain of God. Thou host walked up and down in the midst of the stones offire. Thou wast perfect in thy ways from the day that thou wast created, till iniquity was found in thee.” - Ezekiel 28:13-15
Again, it seems as though we have found our Sunday School Satan, until we read verse 12, (the verse before) which beans this passage: Son of man take up a lamentation upan the King of Tyre, end say unto him thus saith the LORD God. So all this was being said about an earthly king, not a supernatural lord of evil. This is supported by chapter 27 and preceding parts of chapter 28, which are all about the city kingdom of Tyre. See, you can find no Sunday School Devil in the Old Testament.
In the New Testament, Satan emerges as the very personification of the spirit of evil, as an independent personality. He is called “the author of evil.” In Revelation 12:9, there is the fullest, description of hinr that anctent serpent called the Devil and Satan which deceived the whole world. He was cast into the earth and his angels were cast out with him. He is the ‘personal tempter of Jesus in Matthew 4, and it is this New Testament concept of Satan which has entered into popular lore. How did today's Satan come into existence between the close of the Old Testament and the beginning of the New Testament?
About 1000 B.C. the teachings’of Zoroasterism arose in Persia. Contained in these teachings is the concept that there is polarity in everything - good and evil, up and down, hot and cold, light and darkness. The opposing polarities were personified as Ahura-Mazda and Abriman. One being evolution and the other being involution.(i.e.God and Satan). The Law of Zoroaster taught that there was always an exchange taking place between these two extremes. The teachings were enlightened and scientific for their day. Through the centuries, the higher truths of these teachings were lost and replaced by the mythology of the ignorant masses, who came to believe that there actually were two gods - one good and one evil. The two gods, together with their respective angels, were at war with one another and the Earth was their battlefield. This simplistic interpretation of Zoroaster’s teachings was adopted by the Jews while they were held captive by the Persians 600 BC to 400 BC.
‘Israel, being in the middle of the fertile crescent, was a crossroads of ideas and philosophies and, along with Zoroasterism, traces of Babylonian religion could be found there - i.e. Beelzebub, who was the Babyionian god of the air, similar to the Christian St.. Michael. But because he was a foreign god, the Jews held him in contempt and regarded him as a demon (Matt. 10.25).
The writers of the New Testament were obviously influenced by their surroundings and used elements from this religious hodgepodge to express their ideas. Either we take these passages as allegories, or we find a conflict with other teachings in the New Testament and with the Old Testament. Despite what the superstitious may claim, there can be no anti-God, no Devil. There is only one force in the cosmos and that force is GOD! The highest concept of God is that God is omniscient, omnipotent, and all good. Follow this: Being omniscient, God had to know, before he was created, what choices Satan would make. Being omnipotent, God has the power to stop him or refuse to create him in the first place, and, being all good, God would stop. such a being before he became a threat to the harmony of the universe. It is not logical to believe in both God and a Devil. But the fact that there really is no Devil or Satan does not prevent people from believing in him or worshipping him.