Most mainstream Christians believe that “Satan” (who they sometimes call “the devil” or “Lucifer”) is an evil being bent on destroying YHWH’s creation. Because of my upbringing I also believed this as it’s what I was told, however when I started studying the bible and the words more in-depth I realized that this is not what the bible says.
I read this article in the following video for a Sabbath Live Chat. If you are interested in seeing the chatroom, click the option to view this video on YouTube.
The Idea of Satan Warring Against God Is Not Biblical
What’s interesting is that there is no comparable concept of the Christian “Satan” in the Jewish belief and yet Christians also say they believe in the Tanakh (which they call the Old Testament). Because the biblical concept of Satan (and the devil) is so distorted today, this article will focus on what the bible calls “Satan” and why there is no angel called “Lucifer.”
Lucifer is a Mistranslation
The reason why Jews might laugh at the concept of a being called “Lucifer” is because the word “lucifer” is not in the Hebrew Tanakh. The Hebrew Tanakh was translated into a Latin version and then the English bibles translated the Latin word into a proper noun.
The Latin version was trying to give the sense of a light shining (which is what a star is), and the word they used is pretty close to the meaning of the Hebrew word “heylel.” But then someone decided to turn the Latin word lucifer into a proper noun. They capitalized it and then somehow it got turned in a fallen angel. It’s a bit like the children’s game Telephone (AKA Chinese whispers). Over time the true meaning of this verse was lost to us. Even though the context is all we need to know the truth here, many cherry pick verses to believe what they want and then tell other people that that is what it’s about, thereby perpetuating the misinterpretations into future generations.
Another reason this concept of Lucifer as a fallen angel can be so baffling to Jews is because the passage, in context, is about a human, a king, who’s going to die. There is literally nothing in the surrounding context to suggest that this is an angel. Rather, it’s actually spelled out that he’s human. Isaiah 14 verse 4 says it’s a proverb to the king of Babylon, and verse 16 has people looking at him and asking, “Is this the man that made the earth to tremble, that did shake kingdoms?”
Furthermore the English commentaries know this is a reference to Venus and that it’s the king of Babylon that’s being discussed here. From Ellicott’s Commentary for English Readers:
The word for Lucifer is, literally, the shining one, the planet Venus, the morning star, the son of the dawn, as the symbol of the Babylonian power, which was so closely identified with astrolatry. “Lucifer” etymologically gives the same meaning, and is used by Latin poets (Tibull. i., 10, 62) for Venus, as an equivalent for the phôsphoros of the Greeks. The use of the word, however, in mediæval Latin as a name of Satan, whose fall was supposed to be shadowed forth in this and the following verse, makes its selection here singularly unfortunate. Few English readers realise the fact that it is the king of Babylon, and not the devil, who is addressed as Lucifer.
Some then use the passage in Ezekiel 28 to say that’s referring to Lucifer, in the garden of Eden. However, Ezekiel 28 is a proverb to the king of Tyre. Verses 9-10 say he’s a mortal who will die, not an angel who’s forever warring with YHWH.
Once again the commentary on this verse focuses on it describing the king of Tyre (not Lucifer). From Pulpit Commentary:
The words are suggestive, as showing that Ezekiel was familiar with the history of Genesis 2. and 3. (compare the mention of Noah, in Ezekiel 15:14, 20). To him the King of Tyre seemed to claim a position like that of Adam before his fall, perfect in beauty and in wisdom, the lord of the creation. And in that fancied Eden he stood, so he thought, not like Adam, “naked and ashamed,” but like one of the cherubim that guarded the gates of the primeval Paradise (Genesis 3:24), covered with all imaginable splendor. Ezekiel returns to the phrase in Ezekiel 31:8, 16, 18 and Ezekiel 36:35.
Other instances meet us in Joel 2:3 and Isaiah 51:3. Every precious stone. All the stones named are found in the list of the gems on the high priest’s breastplate (Exodus 28:17-20; Exodus 39:8-14). Three, however, of those gems are wanting – those in the third row of the breastplate – which are not named elsewhere; and the order is not the same. The LXX. makes the two lists identical, apparently correcting Ezekiel by Exodus.
St. John (Revelation 21:19) reproduces his imagery in his vision of the foundation stones of the New Jerusalem, but naturally returns to the fullness of the symbolic number – twelve. Possibly the description of gold and bdellium and onyx (or beryl), as in Genesis 2:11, 12, may have suggested the thought that Eden was a land of jewels.
The workmanship of thy tabret and pipes; better, the service. The Authorized Version and Revised Version follow Luther. Keil agrees as to “tabret” (so Genesis 31:27; Isaiah 5:12; elsewhere, as in Exodus 15:20 and Job 21:12, the Authorized Version gives “timbrels”), but takes the latter word (not found elsewhere) as identical with its feminine form, and meaning “female.” He sees in the clause, accordingly, a picture of the pomp of the Tyrian king, surrounded by the odalisques of the harem, who, with their timbrels, danced to his honor as their lord and king (camp. Isaiah 23:16; Exodus 15:20; 1 Samuel 18:6).
The belief in an angel named Lucifer comes from mistranslations, faulty belief systems (which I would argue goes back to the demiurge belief) and cherry-picking verses. When the bible is read in context you will not believe in an angel named “Lucifer.” That being said, according to the bible, Satan is an angel working for YHWH.
Who is Ha Satan?
Imagine the movie Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory… but imagine the factory as the Heavenly Kingdom, and the Everlasting Gobstopper as the pearl of great price. In order to enter the New Jerusalem from Revelation, you have to enter the gates and the gates are pearls (which represent wisdom).
…the 1971 film adaptation Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory used the Everlasting Gobstopper as a plot device in which Wonka’s business rival Slugworth attempts to bribe the children visiting the Wonka factory to steal one for him. This is later revealed as a lie; Slugworth is actually Mr. Wilkinson, one of Wonka’s workers. The proposal is a test Wonka set up to judge the worthiness of the ticket holders to take over the factory, given to all five children.
Jesus (Yehoshua) was passing out pearls of wisdom (the word of God), and that’s also described in another parable as him planting seeds. “The devil” can snatch away the seeds before they germinate.
Luke 8:11 Now this is the meaning of the parable: The seed is the word of God. 12 The seeds along the path are those who hear, but the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts, so that they may not believe and be saved.
In the movie Willy Wonka hands out Everlasting Gobstoppers to the children. They can keep it, suck on it, and have everlasting sweetness (everlasting life?). But there is a tempter, Slugworth, who comes and says, basically, “You can sell that candy to me for a large amount of money,” (but of course money doesn’t last forever). We’re told that Slugworth is the enemy of Wonka just as we’re told Satan is the enemy of YHWH.
However, the bible tells us that Satan actually works for YHWH, just as we find out that Slugworth actually works for Wonka. In the movie Slugworth lies to the children saying he’s a rival. But the bible didn’t lie to us about the real job of Satan. The world lied to us. The biblical saying “Surely, we have inherited lies,” is more true today than ever. Hollywood and mainstream TV has done a great job of promoting the fake Satan and never seems to mention the real biblical Satan.
Slugworth told the children they should give up the everlasting treat for earthly treasures, just as Satan tempts us to give up everlasting life for earthly pleasures that will fade away one day. So why do it? In the movie, Wonka sent his employee to tempt the children to see if they were worthy to inherit the factory. In the New Testament we’re told that we are children of God and we’ll inherit the kingdom. We’re told that there are those greater and least in the kingdom of heaven, so how are they ranked?
We are judged by works according to the bible. In the parable of the sheep and goats Jesus (Yehoshua) separates the people by the works they did or did not do. In Revelation 20:12 the dead are judged according to their works. Revelation 2:23 says Jesus (Yehoshua) will repay everyone according to their works.
Matthew 16:27 For the son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works.
In the parable of Jesus (Yehoshua) being the vine and us being the branches, and YHWH being the gardener, we’re told that YHWH will prune those of us in Christ so that we can grow more and bigger fruit. The fruit represents the works that we do for YHWH.
The less we listen to YHWH’s Holy Spirit convicting us of sin, the less we let Him prune us, the less fruit we can grow, and the less living water we get from Jesus (Yehoshua) and then we get thrown into the fire.
In order to bear lots of great fruit (have lots of great works) to become the greatest in the kingdom (and be rewarded according to our works) we have to let YHWH’s Holy Spirit convict us of our sin. The less sin we have the more great works we have.
If you lived a life with no temptations, how would you, or anyone else, know that you would have conquered those temptations if you had run into them? The only way to know how you would react in those situations is to go through them.
In the Nazarene Acts (AKA Recognitions of Clement) Kefa (Apostle Peter) is speaking on how we have free will but some things are pre-destined:
“…or some things, as we have said, He has so willed to be, that they cannot be otherwise than as they are ordained by Him; and to these He has assigned neither rewards nor punishments; but those that He has willed to be so that they have it in their power to do what they will, He has assigned to them according to their actions and their wills, to earn either rewards or punishments. Since, therefore, as I have informed you, all things that are moved are divided into two parts, according to the distinction that I formerly stated, everything that YHWH wills is, and everything that He wills not is not.
To this Shimon (Simon the Magician) answered: “Was not He able to make us all such that we should be good, and that we should not have it in our power to be otherwise?”
Kefa answered: “This also is an absurd question. For if He had made us of an unchangeable nature and incapable of being moved away from good, we should not be really good, because we could not be aught else; and it would not be of our purpose that we were good; and what we did would not be ours, but of the necessity of our nature. But how can that be called good, which is not done of purpose?” (Recognitions of Clement Chapter XXV-XXVI)
The only way we can see if we’re worthy to inherit the heavenly kingdom is to face the choice of life or death and choose life rather than death.
Court of Law
This world was built on the Torah/Word of God. You reap what you’ve sown, whether good seeds or bad. The courtroom is always in session.
Jesus (Yehoshua) says he is not our judge, but the “word” which he spoke is the judge (John 12:47-48). As discussed in our article on the “Word of God” the “Word” is YHWH’s Holy Spirit, the Torah, the law. YHWH is the Torah (Word), He is the law. He is the judge, because we’re compared to Him (the law). We will be pure as YHWH is pure when we become “one with Him” (Jesus prayed we would be one with the Father, just as he was one with Him, in John 17:22).
1 John 3:2 Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when He shall appear, we shall be like Him; for we shall see Him as He is. 3 And every man that hath this hope in Him purifieth himself, even as He is pure.
We’re constantly being compared to YHWH (the Word/Torah of God). When we feel bad (angry, fearful, revengeful, spiteful, etc), we know we’re not on the same page as YHWH. That’s the Holy Spirit convicting us. But when we can unconditionally love others and see them as He sees them, then we’ll know we’ve reached the agape love that Jesus (Yehoshua) commanded of us. Then we will pray for our enemies and no longer be upset at them. You can also see our article on forgiving others if you’re interested in how to get to that point of loving others as He does.
YHWH is a fair and just judge who does not show favoritism. We’re judged by our works, not what blood we’ve shed (animal or human). As the early followers of Jesus (Yehoshua) stated, the sacrificial system was added by the scribes.
Romans 2:5 But after thy hardness and impenitent heart treasurest up unto thyself wrath against the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God; 6 Who will render to every man according to his deeds: 7 To them who by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory and honour and immortality, eternal life: 8 But unto them that are contentious, and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, indignation and wrath, 9 Tribulation and anguish, upon every soul of man that doeth evil, of the Jew first, and also of the Gentile; 10 But glory, honour, and peace, to every man that worketh good, to the Jew first, and also to the Gentile: 11 For God does not show favoritism. 12 For as many as have sinned without law shall also perish without law: and as many as have sinned in the law shall be judged by the law; 13 (For not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified.
Ezekiel 18:20 The soul who sins is the one who will die. A son will not bear the iniquity of the father, and a father will not bear the iniquity of the son. The righteousness of the righteous man will fall upon him, and the wickedness of the wicked man will fall upon him.
Trying to bribe YHWH with the blood of an innocent will not do you any good (Proverbs 6:16-19).
Jesus (Yehoshua) is referred to as our advocate. Sometimes the word is translated as “comforter,” and sometimes it’s translated as “advocate” in the lawyer sense.
1 John 2:1 My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: 2 And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world. 3 And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments. 4 He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. 5 But whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected: hereby know we that we are in him. 6 He that saith he abideth in him ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked.
Some use the second verse to say his blood covers our sins, but within the context you can see that’s not true. The context is discussing the “children” of God who doth not commit sin (1 John 3:9) according to John and he continues on in book 2 to say if we don’t keep the commandments we don’t know him. In book 3 he says those who sin are children of the devil not children of God. This was all one document; the book breaks were put in by translators afterwards.
If you still believe in the blood sacrifice, the book of Hebrews seems to have been written by someone who did too. But even that writer knew you had to not sin in order to be covered.
Hebrews 10:26 For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, 27 But a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries. 28 He that despised Moses’ law died without mercy under two or three witnesses: 29 Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace? 30 For we know him that hath said, Vengeance belongeth unto me, I will recompense, saith the LORD. And again, The LORD shall judge his people. 31 It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.
Christ saved the whole world, as we discuss in the Lake of Fire article. Sooner or later everyone is going to be purified and no longer sin. We, as children of God, are not supposed to be sinning, but rather purifying ourselves as God is pure, and shining His light into the world so others know how to do it.
Back to the vine and gardener parable, those who stay “in Christ” are given the living waters to flourish and bear much fruit. Christ strengthens and comforts us and guides us through our struggles, like water heals and nourishes the vines. The gardener is the judge for when a branch is too withered and has to be thrown into the fire.
From a court standpoint, Christ, through the Spirit, is letting us know what to do so the accuser (prosecutor) has nothing on us.
The Prosecutor / Accuser / Adversary
The Hebrew understanding of Satan is that he is an adversary who presents us with life or death. If we choose death, he can accuse us in front of YHWH for our missing the mark. In the book of Revelation, Satan was accusing the brethren, but since the time of Revelation is when people stop sinning, there is no more need for an accuser.
Revelation 12:10 And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of His Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night.
I Saw Satan Fall Like Lightning
How does Satan get cast down or fall like lightning? When the children of God stop sinning, they get power (authority) to command demons away. Coming in Jesus’s name means coming in his character (not sinning) and thus having the same authority of Christ over the demons (Satan/Devil). Resist the devil and he will flee. When we resist sinning, the demons flee. They have to fall. It is law. This is why when everyone stops sinning, there will be no more accuser, Satan will have been cast down.
In the video above, Kel reads the verse in context, and it clearly shows the reason Satan fell was because the 72 had listened to Jesus (Yehoshua) and come in his “name”/ authority so the demons had to submit to them.
Luke 10:17 The seventy-two returned with joy and said, “Lord, even the demons submit to us in Your name.” 18 So He said to them, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. 19 See, I have given you authority to tread on snakes and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy. Nothing will harm you”
When we come in Jesus’s name/authority, we are coming his character (not sinning thus “resisting the devil”) and so the demons/devil has to flee.
In the Clementine Homilies 8 there is a passage where YHWH gives a law to the Nephilim (demons) saying they have to obey those who keep YHWH’s commandments:
‘These things seem good to the all-seeing God, that you (Nephilim) lord it over no man; that you trouble no one, unless any one of his own accord subject himself to you, worshipping you, and sacrificing and pouring libations, and partaking of your table, or accomplishing anything else that they ought not, or shedding blood, or tasting dead flesh, or filling themselves with that which is torn of beasts, or that which is cut, or that which is strangled, or anything else that is unclean.
But those who betake themselves to my law, you not only shall not touch, but shall also do honour to, and shall flee from, their presence. For whatsoever shall please them, being just, respecting you, that you shall be constrained to suffer.
But if any of those who worship me go astray, either committing adultery, or practising magic, or living impurely, or doing any other of the things which are not well-pleasing to me, then they will have to suffer something at your hands or those of others, according to my order.
But upon them, when they repent, I (YHWH), judging of their repentance, whether it be worthy of pardon or not, shall give sentence.
These things, therefore, ye ought to remember and to do, well knowing that not even your thoughts shall be able to be concealed from Him.’
Just like in the book of Revelation, in the book of Job, Satan is seen working (in Heaven) for YHWH accusing people. But Satan can’t do anything to Job without YHWH’s approval. (Since Satan can’t do anything with YHWH’s approving it, it’s obvious that Satan isn’t warring against YHWH but rather working for Him). In the book of Job, Satan is in heaven, accusing Job saying that if YHWH took away everything then Job would not be perfect and upright.
Job 1:6 Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before YHWH, and Satan came also among them. 7 And YHWH said unto Satan, Whence comest thou? Then Satan answered YHWH, and said, From going to and fro in the earth, and from walking up and down in it. 8 And YHWH 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? 9 Then Satan answered YHWH, and said, Doth Job fear God for nought? 10 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. 11 But put forth thine hand now, and touch all that he hath, and he will curse thee to thy face. 12 And YHWH 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 YHWH.
YHWH tells Satan that he can test Job, and puts the choice of life or death in front of Job. But Job doesn’t curse God and gets rewarded with heavenly treasures after his earthly ones are taken away. How would Job know how he would react in a situation like that if he didn’t go through it? How could he get all those heavenly rewards if he hadn’t been “tested”. Gregg Braden talks about those situations which people think of as “testing. He says he thinks of them as situations in which we can prove our mastery, rather than a “test” that we can pass or fail.
We can’t prove our mastery over our sin if we’re not tempted with it and given the choice to go back to that old sin. The only way to get heavenly rewards is to be offered the choice between life or death. The only way to get heavenly rewards is through Satan tempting us, so we can choose to reject the choice that leads to death and choose life instead.
If we weren’t given a choice between life and death and had to always choose life with no free will, we would be like robots and receive no heavenly rewards.
The only way to get a heavenly reward is through the existence of Satan, the adversary.
When we resist the devil, he will flee (it is law), so he’s not to be feared.
For more discussion on Satan being an adversary, a website titled “A Site For the Lord” had an interesting PDF but their site went down. Thanks to the web archive page we recovered it and have created a PDF of it which you can download here or click on the image below.
For more information on the Jewish view of Satan, you can check out this webpage (for answers to the question “How is the Jewish view of Satan different from the Christian view of satan and Islamic View?”) or view this playlist by a Kararite Jew discussing his thoughts on Satan.