Satan’s Progression, a brainstorm

Understanding Satan and his role through the ages seems to be one of the most difficult things for a Christian thinker to do. I’ve read about Satan within multiple works of theology, overviews of the spirit world, secular works on angels and angel-like beings, and so on–not too mention sermons and lessons which taught about him–and there is so much contradictory information given about Satan that it’s amazing anyone makes any sense about him at all.

I’ve done my own studies, and have come to still different conclusions than the majority of works which I have available to me teach. I don’t believe Satan is or was ever an angel. I don’t believe Satan was ever named Lucifer nor was he a cherub nor is he merely a force of evil. I don’t think we know much about Satan’s origin at all except that from the beginning he has been a murderer, there is no truth in him, and that he is that primeval serpent. Was he created evil, to be the adversary of God and His people? I think it’s a possibility, but that raises even more questions. :P

Another thing I’ve noticed is that there is a progression throughout the Bible. Satan seems to grow. In Genesis, he is a lowly serpent. It does not say he took the form of a serpent. It does not say he possessed a serpent or threw his voice or anything else. It says he was the serpent–he is the old serpent, as he is described twice in Revelation. He begins small and subtle.

By the time Job rolls around and through even to the prophets, Satan has grown, and would seem to fit the description of the Leviathan, the great sea monster (or, sea dragon). Only God is said to be able to tame Leviathan–this cannot be said of any normal creature, for man has dominion upon the earth.

Time passes, and Satan has grown and is eventually revealed to be the prince of the power of the air. It is said that he disguises himself as a messenger or angel of light, but he is still not said to be an angel in the “host of Heaven” sense. He is also said to walk about as a roaring lion, but he is not said to be a lion. In Revelation, especially verse 12, he is the mighty dragon, full-grown and waging war against Heaven. He has angels, but he himself is not one. Satan is a minister to no one, but he has servants who are ministers or servants to him. The old serpent has become the dragon. From the dust of the earth to the sea to the heavens surrounding, Satan’s influence has been great upon Earth.

I can’t say these brainstorms will hold up to testing, for they are mostly just that–brainstorms. I realize the passage about God conquering Leviathan in Isaiah 27:1 may refer to what Ezekiel 29:3 does, referring simply to Pharaoh as the dragon of the sea. Which leads me to even more brainstorming which I’m sure to be thinking about as I head off to sleep, which is where I’m headed very soon. Good night. :)

6 thoughts on “Satan’s Progression, a brainstorm”

  1. What I was studying when I came to this conclusion was just the Bible and various cross-references and word searches for such as Satan, devil, serpent, dragon, and leviathan. To dispel the tradition that Satan was once Lucifer and/or was once a cherub, I also ran the terms cherub, cherubim, and Lucifer throughout the Bible to see just what was going on. Honestly, I think it’s far more likely that the “anointed cherub” which sinned that many think was Satan is more likely the guard placed at Eden’s border to keep man out.

    Another thing I noticed is that when Satan was “merely” a serpent, he was subtle, moreso than anything else. But now that he’s a dragon, where has that subtlety gone? His attacks are so frequent and dangerous that we’re told to put on a spiritual armor of God. Satan has gone from being subtle to walking around as a roaring lion seeking prey. To go from subtle to as noticeable as a roaring lion is quite the change, but that is what the Bible depicts.

    I think far too often people–comentators, teachers, etc.–mistakenly apply to Satan the quality of immutability, thinking that Satan is the same today as he was in Eden. God is the same yesterday, today, and forever; Satan is never said to be that. He can change his methods, his actions, his plans, and so on. We can’t read Genesis and see “the serpent was more subtle” and think “Ah, see, Satan is subtle, so watch out for the little things.” Humans are messing up enough on their own–Satan doesn’t need to mess with the little things anymore. Now as noticeably as a roaring lion he walks the earth to kill, steel, and destroy. If there’s something subtle about that which I’m missing, I’d love to hear it, but it seems to me quite the opposite of subtle.

  2. A spiritual leader in our church referenced Daniel (no specific place) that Satan was referred to as an angel…but, I dunno.

  3. Colin, angels are only referred to directly in Daniel twice (3:28 and 6:22), neither of which appear to be Satan.

    I would be interested in the passage your elder referred to, if you could turn it up. The reference to an angel may be indirect, so I’m not sure what to even run a search for. :)

    (“Satan,” “devil,” and “adversary” likewise do not appear in Daniel.)

  4. He’s probably not literal, the way the bible interprets it. It was refering to man and sin. It maybe the dark side of us, then we humans are responsible for the mess in the world, that’s why Jesus came here to save us from ourselves.

  5. Way late with this reply so not sure if you’ll see it or not, Maribel, but this post was brought back to my attention and I wanted to follow-up with your comment.

    I disagree that Satan is “probably not literal.” There’s never any reason given to expect that he’d be figurative or symbolic, especially in the middle of a book which very often defines its own symbols for us. Likewise, a symbolic Satan would make many passages rather absurd; are we to believe that Jesus was tempted and debated with “the sinfulness of man” in the wilderness? Was it the “sinfulness of man” which offered Jesus all the kingdoms of the world?

    I’m also uncomfortable with thinking that Satan could have been figurative because the same “real” language used to describe him is used of every other person in the Scriptures; is God then nothing more than the a symbol of goodliness? Was Jesus Himself symbolic of the salvation of man?

    Once we abandon the literalness of Scripture, there becomes no logical point to stop abandoning the literalness.

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