With the introduction to our series on the History of Satan, we’ve laid the foundation for Satan’s history: Satan is seen as a dragon, angel, serpent, as the ruler of this world, etc., with Scripture showing us so much about him. But, this is just a foretaste of what’s to come.
With that said, let’s get started. Keep in mind that all passages will be quoted from the New American Standard Bible (NASB) unless otherwise stated.
I. Satan as the Dragon in Revelation 12
Revelation 12 provides two signs in heaven: first, a woman with a crown of 12 stars who gives birth to “a male child” (Rev. 12:2, 5) and a dragon who with seven heads, ten horns, and seven diadems whose tail “swept away a third of the stars of heaven and threw them to the earth.” The dragon wants to devour the male child the woman gives birth to as well (Rev. 12:4), but the child is “caught up to God and to His throne” (v.5), referring to the male child being of heavenly origin.
Now, the sign of the dragon sweeping away a third of the stars of heaven and attempting to eat the male child doesn’t make sense when viewed as just a sign. Fortunately, the Apostle John tells us what the sign is all about in the same passage, in verses 7-17: the dragon is called “the serpent of old who is called the devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world” (v.9), and the “third of the stars of heaven” from Rev. 12:4 is a reference to “his angels” (12:9), showing that Satan was able to get one-third of the angelic host to fight against God and His angels (such as Michael the archangel, Rev. 12:7).
He was not successful, however (“and they were not strong enough, Rev. 12:8a), and they were thrown from their place in heaven to the earth (“there was no longer a place found for them in heaven,” v. 8; “he [Satan] was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him,” v. 9b). Revelation 12:12 says “rejoice, o heavens” while it says “woe to the earth and sea, because the devil has come down to you,” in order to emphasize that Satan has fallen from his original place as an angel in heaven to a rule on the earth. Jesus came down to earth from heaven, and the same can be said for Satan, who was created an angel in heaven.
What do we gather about Satan from Revelation 12? 1) Satan wanted to devour the male child to whom the woman gives birth (we’ll revisit this later); Satan had angels (“his angels”) who fought against Michael and “his angels” in heaven but lost the war and, as a result, Satan and his angels were all thrown from heaven to the earth. From this, we gather that Satan’s origin is in heaven, from which he came before he was thrown out of heaven due to his attempt to war against God, Michael, and God’s angels.
We’re also told that Satan has “seven heads, ten horns, and seven diadems,” with the reference to heads, horns, and diadems referring to the power of Satan. It seems obvious that Satan had influence in heaven: after all, who is able to cause one-third of the angelic host to rebel against God and lose their place in heaven unless they are of some influence?
Could it be the case that Satan, known as the devil, serpent, and dragon, is an angel as well? To find the answer to that, though, we turn next to the Book of Job.
II. Satan as an angel in the Book of Job
The Book of Job presents new information that we do not get up until that point in Scripture, which makes it the ideal second place to stop in our journey to arrive at the history of Satan. There are only two chapters of Job that are pertinent to our investigation of the history of Satan, but these two chapters connect the dots with what we’ve already seen in Revelation 12.
In Job 1, we’re introduced to Job who is an upright man, one who fears God and turns away from evil (Job 1:1, paraphrase), and he becomes the target of Satan’s accusations a few verses later. “The sons of God came to present themselves” is a reference to the angels coming before the Lord. “Sons of God” is the translation of the NASB, but the Septuagint (LXX), the Greek translation of the Old Testament, refers to the “sons of God” as “hoi angeloi,” or, in English, “the angels of God” in its translation of Job 1:6.
What is even more interesting than the angels of God coming before the Lord (which isn’t all that surprising, really, since they were created by God and He is their sovereign Lord who commands them) is that Job 1:6 says that “and Satan also came among them.” Now, why is it that Satan is allowed to assemble before the Lord? If Satan were not from heaven, if his origin wasn’t from heaven, from God, then he would never be allowed to appear with the angels. He’s allowed to come before the Lord as the angels are because Satan himself was an angel. He was an angel in the angelic army of the Lord, which explains why he was crowned with diadems in Revelation 12. The fact that “the dragon, devil, and serpent” of Revelation 12 had one-third of the angels to rebel against God with him shows that Satan himself must’ve been one powerful angel, one that had influence and authority that he used for evil instead of good. The seven heads reinforces Satan’s power and authority, and the ten horns of Revelation 12 could refer to Satan’s authority over the ten kings or ten world leaders who give themselves over to Satan (Rev. 17:12, 16).
The Lord asks Satan, “From where do you come?” and Satan tells the Lord “From roaming about on the earth and walking around on it” (Job 1:7), a reference to his work in the earth to find someone to subject to temptation and tragedy. The Lord decides to “brag” about Job: “Have you considered My servant Job? For there is no one like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, fearing God and turning away from evil” (v.8), a reference to Job’s upright character. Keep in mind that Job was a Gentile from the land of Uz (Job 1:1), so here we’re given an example of a God-fearing Gentile who got the attention of even the Lord God Himself.
To see the exact nature of the conversation between the Lord and Job, let’s look at the exact translation of the passage starting in Job 1:8. Verse 8 is where the Lord responds to Satan after he says that he’s been walking through and in the earth. “And the Lord said to him,” with a reference to the Lord responded to Satan (Grk., ho diabolos).
The Lord said to Satan (translation of the Old Testament verse here): “will you have consideration toward my servant Job, that no one is like him in/upon all the earth, a blameless man, truthful, godly/righteous, going away/turning away from all evil deeds/doings?” The Lord turns Satan’s attention toward Job, then calls Job “blameless, truthful, godly,” and says that he “turns away from all evil deeds.” The Lord couldn’t describe a mortal human being in any more glowing terms than these.
Satan responds in verses 9-11. Again, I’m translating the statement here based on reading the Septuagint, known also as the Greek New Testament:
“And Satan answered and said before the Lord, ‘Has Job not been blessed by God? You have protected all that he has and all the possessions of his house and placed a hedge all around about him. Have you not blessed the works of his hands and given him much cattle in the earth? But let your hand go out and touch everything he has. Indeed, see if he will bless you to your face” (Job 1:9-11).
In other words, Satan gave the Lord a challenge: take away all the blessings and protection Job has, and “see if he will bless you to your face.” This “see if he will bless you” was Satan’s way of telling the Lord, “see if the same result applies.” This implies that Satan was accusing Job of only worshipping the Lord because the Lord blessed him; should the Lord take away these blessings, Job wouldn’t bless the Lord anymore. What Satan was saying about Job here matches the same claim he makes about all humanity: humanity only worships and remains faithful to God because it is blessed and has good fortune.
Now, at this point, the Lord could’ve simply said that Satan was wrong about Job and leave it at that, but He doesn’t. He allows Satan to take all that Job has. Here’s a rough translation of the Lord’s response to Satan: “Then the Lord said to Satan, ‘Behold, all that is his, I give into your hand, but do not touch him.’ And Satan departed (or went out) from the Lord” (Job 1:12).
The Lord says, “behold, all that is his, I give into your hand.” He allows everything Job owns and possesses to be given over to Satan. The one exception to Satan’s newfound power is that Satan cannot touch his life: “but do not touch him.” In other words, Job’s life was off-limits; Satan could take away everything Job had, except for his life. Why couldn’t Satan take his life? Because the Lord alone is the giver and taker of life, not Satan, nor any other angel. Believers, take note: Satan had to go to the Lord to get permission to take Job’s possessions, and, even then, had restrictions and limits to his power. Satan could not take Job’s life because the Sovereign Lord would not give it to him. Just when you think the enemy has had a field day in your life, remember that Satan can only take your possessions – and he can’t do any more than the Lord allows.
And yet, even with restrictions, Satan was still allowed to do quite a lot of damage. Enter verses 13 and following from the NASB:
13 Now on the day when his sons and his daughters were eating and drinking wine in their oldest brother’s house, 14 a messenger came to Job and said, “The oxen were plowing and the donkeys feeding beside them, 15 and the Sabeans attacked and took them. They also slew the servants with the edge of the sword, and I alone have escaped to tell you.” 16 While he was still speaking, another also came and said, “The fire of God fell from heaven and burned up the sheep and the servants and consumed them, and I alone have escaped to tell you.”17 While he was still speaking, another also came and said, “The Chaldeans formed three bands and made a raid on the camels and took them and slew the servants with the edge of the sword, and I alone have escaped to tell you.” 18 While he was still speaking, another also came and said, “Your sons and your daughters were eating and drinking wine in their oldest brother’s house, 19 and behold, a great wind came from across the wilderness and struck the four corners of the house, and it fell on the young people and they died, and I alone have escaped to tell you” (Job 1:13-19, NASB).
Keep in mind that the Lord allowed Satan to touch all that Job had, but the above verses show us that people (Chaldeans, Sabeans) and natural phenomena (“fire of God,” “great wind from across the wilderness”) were used to strip Job of his cattle, servants, and sons and daughters. Notice that Satan accused Job just verses earlier of being faithful to God because the Lord had made Job prosperous and had given him “a hedge of protection,” so here, the Lord removes that hedge of protection and allows Satan to wreak havoc in Job’s life. Possessions are destroyed, and his servants and children die. All of this destruction would devastate anyone. The sheer manner of how it all happened is what adds to the devastation: before one messenger could relay one tragedy, others appeared and couldn’t stop speaking before new messengers would arrive with even more bad news. Job is living proof of that expression “When it rains, it pours.”
Verses 20-22 show us the proper response of one whose life is led by the Spirit of God:
20 Then Job arose and tore his robe and shaved his head, and he fell to the ground and worshiped. 21 He said, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, And naked I shall return there. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away. Blessed be the name of the Lord.” 22 Through all this Job did not sin nor did he blame God. (Job 1:20-22)
Notice that Job responded in mourning and sorrow over the loss of his children and servants, but he did not blame the Lord for these tragedies. Instead, he worshipped. This is not easy to do when you feel as if you’ve sunk so low in life that you can’t sink any lower.
This week, I’ve been facing a tragedy that occurred over 8 years ago. My mother died of brain cancer on February 3, 2009, after a three-year battle with breast, lung, and then finally, the brain cancer that took her life. And it was the most overwhelming disaster I’ve had in my life. And today marked 8 years since her death. Yes, I was sad, yes I was overwhelmed and grieved in my heart and mind. And yet, I did something that I couldn’t have done 8 years ago: I thanked the Lord for my mother’s life and acknowledged that, in His sovereignty, He gave her, and in His sovereignty, He had every right to take her. Why? She was His child, not mine, His creation, not mine, His servant, not mine.
Acknowledging the sovereignty of God in the face of tragedy is something I still struggle to do, but I will tell you that it’s the only way we can face tragedy head-on in our lives. That doesn’t mean that you won’t be devastated by tragedy, that it won’t knock you off your feet, that it won’t knock you off your feet to the ground and take every bit of breath you have. What it does mean, though, is that we can still fall to the ground and get knocked off our feet by tragedy while acknowledging that our lives are the Lord’s and that we exist to give Him glory and to be used of Him in whatever way He sees fit to be glorified within our lives. The Lord, HE is God. We are His people, and the sheep of His pasture, David says (Psalm 100:3). The Lord gives our loved ones, and He is sovereign in taking them from us. And in all things, whether He gives or takes life, we should bless His name.
In Job 2, we see Satan reassemble with the angels once more, another attestation to Satan’s angelic status (despite his fallen state, as we’ve seen in Revelation 12). In Job 2:1, Satan returns to the throne of God once more, as do the Lord’s angels. The Lord says some things here that we should take note of. First, the Lord boasts of Job’s upright character once more, but places the blame on Satan:
3 The Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered My servant Job? For there is no one like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man fearing God and turning away from evil. And he still holds fast his integrity, although you incited Me against him to ruin him without cause.” (Job 2:3)
The Lord places the blame rightly here: it was Satan who gave the challenge, Satan who made the claim that Job would curse God if God removed His hedge of protection from Job. And yet, despite the tragedy in his life, Job did not talk against the Lord but blessed Him and worshipped Him anyway.
In other words, Job, this mortal man that Satan thought he had figured out, proved Satan wrong about mortality and humanity. “He still holds fast his integrity,” the Lord said, as if to shame Satan with his claim.
But this response from the Lord didn’t shame Satan; rather, it moved him to give a more tragic challenge than before. Verses 4-6 make our hearts reach out to Job:
4 Satan answered the Lord and said, “Skin for skin! Yes, all that a man has he will give for his life. 5 However, put forth Your hand now, and touch his bone and his flesh; he will curse You to Your face.” 6 So the Lord said to Satan, “Behold, he is in your power, only spare his life” (Job 2:4-6).
Satan says here that, since taking Jobs possessions, servants, and children didn’t produce the desired result, perhaps taking Job’s own health would elicit a curse to God from Job. And the Lord allows Job to enter into bad health: “behold, he is in your power,” the Lord says. Yet again, though, Job’s life must be spared. No matter how sick Job becomes, the Lord will not allow Satan to have his life.
Keep in mind that, yet again, the Lord had to give Satan the power to curse Job: “behold, he is in your power.” Why does the Lord do it? We don’t know. But, what we do know is that He handed power over to Satan to strike Job’s body without cause, a man who was blameless and upright. Yes, blameless and upright believers are often struck with tragedy and illness to such a deep extent that they simply can’t understand why they’re suffering. Job couldn’t either, but in everything, he didn’t curse God or blame Him.
In verses 7 and 8, Satan is allowed to take Job’s remaining good health, to such an extent that his wife told him to just curse the Lord and die: “7 Then Satan went out from the presence of the Lord and smote Job with sore boils from the sole of his foot to the crown of his head. 8 And he took a potsherd to scrape himself while he was sitting among the ashes.
9 Then his wife said to him, “Do you still hold fast your integrity? Curse God and die!” 10 But he said to her, “You speak as one of the foolish women speaks. Shall we indeed accept good from God and not accept adversity?” In all this Job did not sin with his lips” (Job 2:7-10).
Job’s wife plays the role of Satan in her response to Job when he becomes sick: “do you still hold fast your integrity?” Job’s wife says. Satan had said that Job would curse God to His face if his body was struck with illness, and Job’s wife says the same thing Satan had told the Lord about Job: that he would curse God if his health failed. Job stood the test when his cattle, servants, and children were taken away; even in the midst of failing health, “Job did not sin with his lips.” He refused to curse God or blame God for his condition.
This section about Satan in the Book of Job was designed to show that Satan was indeed, an angel, and that he was still allowed to assemble with all other angels despite his fall from heaven. I think it’s safe to presume that the one-third of the angels that fell from heaven (remember the “stars” of Revelation 12?) are also allowed to assemble with the other angels as well, despite their fallen status, too. Of course, Satan’s continued assembling in the midst of his war with Michael and the other angels of God and his loss in battle is the reason why we make this claim, however.
This section provided us an opportunity to learn something about Satan: he is also an accuser of the brethren, according to Job 1:9-11 and 2:4-5. Other passages in Scripture match these statements, such as Revelation 12:9-10:
9 And the great dragon was thrown down, the serpent of old who is called the devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him. 10 Then I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying,
“Now the salvation, and the power, and the kingdom of our God and the authority of His Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren has been thrown down, he who accuses them before our God day and night.
Here we see that “the dragon,” also called “the serpent of old who is called the devil and Satan,” has been thrown down from heaven to earth. In the following verse, Revelation 12:10, Satan is also called “the accuser of our brethren” who “has been thrown down,” referring to the same person as before. So, in line with Job 1-2, Satan is called “the accuser of our brethren” because he accuses the people of God day and night before the throne now, in the same way he accused Job before God. This is part of Satan’s acts in history that we can cover here and refer back to later if necessary.
We’ve talked about Satan having three names: 1) Satan, the name most are familiar with, 2) serpent, and 3) devil. These three names are found in Scripture, and it is to these names we will now turn to discover what Satan has been up to since his expulsion from heaven.
An Introduction to the History of Satan
1. Satan as Dragon and Angel
2. Satan as Serpent and Tempter
3. Satan in Zechariah and Isaiah
4. Satan and Judas
5. Judas and the Doctrine of Apostasy
6. Judas and Suicide
7. Theology of Life and Death
8. Satan, Jesus, and Temptation
9. Peter and Judas, A Comparison
10. Satan in Jesus’ Ministry