[Originally Published for Helium Network on 03-23-2009] #satan #devil #spiritworld
7 And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels,
8 And prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven.
9 And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.
In the first book of the Bible, we see a serpent in the Garden of Eden. This serpent tells the first recorded lie in the Bible. The last book of the Bible talks about a serpent so large that he is called a “dragon”. This dragon is finally defeated, and mankind is finally reconciled with its Creator.
A serpent or a dragon is certainly symbolic. However, as is the case with symbols, that doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. What is interesting is that some will personify the Holy Spirit without justification, but they will say that the Devil is just a symbol and not real. On the one hand, we have a power compared to wind, fire and water that is only personified in a few places, but on the other hand is a true being that is always symbolized as either a person or a beast (a being). Yet, there are some who will dogmatically attribute personhood in reverse of the evidence!
The Bible actually doesn’t dwell much on Satan. The reasons are pretty simple. First of all, there is no point in giving Satan more credit than he is due. In fact, he is quite capable of claiming his own misdeeds in a proud fashion. Second, the Bible is mainly the story of the relationship between human beings and their Creator. God is the central acting agent throughout the Bible. Satan is the ultimate rebel, and as such is a warning of just how perverse mankind could become without limitations and restraints. Thirdly, Satan is not the sole cause of sin and evil in this world. Satan may be the author of sin, but he only speeds man’s depravity. Human beings are responsible for their own sins.
Yet, he is shown to be a real person. The first 2 chapters of the Book of Job are some of the longest discourses involving Satan. Here, Satan is shown to be The Accuser. He levels charges that Job will curse God to His face. However, God shows Satan to be wrong. Yet, one of the main points in these 2 chapters is that Satan has to have permission to act. God is sovereign and in control. Not even Satan can act without His knowledge and permitting him to exercise his freewill. In the Book of Job, we see Satan speaking and acting in a very concrete way.
Jesus spoke of Satan as well. He stated that He “saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven” (Lk 10:18). He refers to Satan as the father of lies (Jn 8:44). In Revelation, we see he and his angels will be cast out of heaven once again. If Satan were figurative in that verse, then the angels would be as well, and the verse would make no sense. Furthermore, how do you make war with a symbol? In war, someone has to be in charge. If not Satan (on the rebelling side), then who?
Satan would like you to believe he doesn’t exist. It enables him to deceive people that much easier. Like a radio transmitter, he broadcasts moods and attitudes that can be picked up by the human spirit. That is why he is called the “Prince of the power of the air” (Ep 2:2). Yes, people are carnal and tend towards evil, but why do they turn to evil so quickly?
Another lesson we learn from Job is that Satan also can control the weather to some extent. He sent a tornado to kill Job’s sons and daughters. He struck some of Job’s servants and sheep with lightening. Often, insurance companies would call these “acts of God”, but they aren’t always! We need to be mindful of what we accuse God of!
We see in Revelation that Satan will be put away for 1,000 years during Christ’s millennial rule (Rev 20:1-2). Interestingly enough, this is pictured in an Old Testament ceremony that is usually misunderstood by many professing clergy and scholars. The High Priest was to only go into the Holy of Holies once a year on Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement. He had to go in with blood (compare to various verses in Hebrews).
There were 2 goats chosen for this ceremony (Lev 16:7-8). One is called a “scapegoat” in the KJV, but that is a mistranslation. Some of that mistranslation is due to the fact that they don’t understand what it symbolizes. Most modern translations called this 1st goat the “Azazel” goat, or “goat of release” or “goat of departure”. This goat had the sins of the congregation confessed over it and taken far into the wilderness and released (v21-22). The other goat was killed for a sin offering.
Now, some would say that both goats symbolize Christ. Does that make sense? Why would there be 2 types for 1 archetype? Furthermore, Jesus died for our sins, so it is obvious the goat of the sin offering represents this. However, the Azazel goat was let go where he could not return. This symbolizes Satan taking on his part in his sins, the sins of the angels he deceived into following him and for the sins he tempted human beings with. Satan is immortal, and he will be put away where he cannot bother humanity again. 2 types, that is 2 goats, for 2 archetypes. The Day of Atonement pictures the putting away of the author of sin so humanity can have peace and prosperity under Christ’s 1,000 year rule.
There are apocryphal Jewish works that picture Azazel as a leader in rebellion against God. The Book of Enoch describes Azazel as one who corrupted men. The notion that the Azazel goat pictures Jesus taking on our sins stands outside of the culture in which Leviticus was written. Even the Jewish Encyclopedia states that Azazel is “the name of a supernatural being mentioned in connection with the ritual of the Day of Atonement”.2
Satan introduced sin into this world. He told the 1st recorded lie in the Bible. He deceived Eve into disobeying God. Don’t you think God would take care of him at some point?
All of this shows that the Bible portrays Satan as the very real author of sin. He is very real. He will lead mankind into a great war that will threaten the entire planet with extinction. However, Christ will come and stop events just short of that.
Bill Jahns, “The Azazel Goat and Atonement“, Good News, September 2000
Morris Jastrow Jr, “Azazel“, JewishEncycopedia.com
Wayne Blank, “Satan’s Goat“, The Church of God Daily Bible Study