In the last article I wrote as part of this brief series I dealt with the 2 most popular passages utilized by many ‘Christians’ to point out the devil as an angelic being (Isaiah chapter 14 & Ezekiel chapter 28). I believe I made it very clear those passages are speaking in hyperbolic language depicting God’s judgment upon both the king of Babylon & the king of Tyre.
So now it must be asked. What then is “the devil” and “the satan”? If I am to be honest, I will tell you that this study has given me more questions and than answers, alot of what I attribute to preconceived notions and a failure to have the same mindset the ancient Israelites would have had pertaining to this topic.
That is MY GOAL! I want to understand how the ancient Israelites would have understood this topic of “the devil” and “the Satan” not how 21st century people would. I will dare to say I don’t think they desired nor felt the need to see it as “pegged and detailed” as much as we do.
In the Old Testament one can hardly find reference to some mythical creature called “the devil” or “the Satan” instead we read of God Himself bringing blessings and curses upon people (Genesis 3:17-19; Genesis 30:1-2; Dueteronomy 28:20-23; Jeremiah 25:37-28 serve as a great examples).
I want to deal with “the devil” and “the Satan” as two distinct topics which I sought to exhibit in the title. As I read and study Scripture I see the “devil” being that which is in opposition to God whereas Satan I see as a title being given to those things more specifically and situations that oppose God. Make sense? I hardly notice reference to the devil in the Old Testament but I see plenty of Satan references (which we will deal with soon enough).
The first mention we will find of Satan would be in the book of Job. Job being the oldest collected writing in the Old Testament.
Read Job 1:1-12
“Now there was a day when the SONS OF GOD came to PRESENT themselves BEFORE THE LORD, and SATAN came among them. The Lord said to Satan, “From where do you come?” Then Satan answered the Lord and said, “From roaming about on the earth and walking around on it”. Then the Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job? For there is no one like him on earth,a blameless and upright man, fearing God and turning away from evil (Job 1:6-8)”.
So…who are the “sons of God”? In Deuteronomy 14:1, Moses is continuing his discourse of the Law and refers to the Israelites as “sons of the Lord”. In Isaiah 43:6 we are reading about the restoration of Israel wherein the Lord calls those being called back His sons and daughters. And if it is not yet clear, in Hosea 1:10 when the Lord is giving Hosea this prophecy to “number the sons of Israel” He speaks of the restoration as calling them “sons of the living God”.
Where do people get that these were angels? Huh?
Ok, so “the sons of God” are coming to present themselves to the Lord? How was this done? And why? Turn to Deuteronomy 19:15-20. “If a malicious witness rises up AGAINST a man to ACCUSE him of wrong doing, then both the men who have a dispute shall STAND BEFORE THE LORD, before the priests and the judges who will be in office in those days….purge the EVIL from among you”.
First off, anything spooky in that text about devils, dragons, and demons? NO! Yet we see EVIL spoken of as regards to accusations and wrongdoing, right? In this text- what did it mean to stand before the Lord? To stand before the priests and judges, right? Interesting, right?
This might blow your mind right here…The Hebrew term שָׂטָן which is translated as Satan means “acccuser, one who stands against, an adversary”. So in the text of Deuteronomy 19:15-20 the “Satan” would have been that person who brought a charge of wrongdoing against you.
Now…when you read the passage in Job with all of this understanding, doesn’t it have a different twist, a bit more reasonable than some sci-fi nonsense people have been coming up with? An accuser was coming with the sons of God(whatever people group those who came before the Lord were called during the time of Job) as they were entering into the presence of the priests- now that makes sense as to why God began to explain to this accuser about Job being righteous! Hello! Then Read Job chapter 2 and it all falls right into place. The beauty of context!
Also, it important to take notice that all the trials that Job experienced in the book of Job were done by God not some ethereal entity causing him trials (see, Job 2:3; 19:21; 42:11).
Let’s look at some other references of Satan.
Turn to Numbers 22:22-23 – In your Bible you might want to circle the term “adversary” because guess what? The term “Satan” is used there in the Greek. THE ANGEL OF THE LORD is the Satan here, whoah!! So now Satan is working for God? Read the whole story starting back at 22:1 and read to verse 41. “The Satan” here is simply an adversary standing against what Balaam is seeking to do. Ironically if you read verses 32-43, Balaam sinned by NOT LISTENING to this Satan. And people say Bible study is boring? pshhh.
Ok, now turn to 1 Samuel 29:1-4. Here the Philistines want King David to turn back so that he does not become a “Satan” to them. Did King David run the risk of becoming a fallen angel called “Satan”? NO! We see the same thing in 2 Samuel 19:22- where King David is speaking about the sons of Zeruiah becoming a “Satan” to him? An adversary! Those who would come against! (See, 1 Kings 5:3; 11:14, 23-25).
Turn with me to 2 Samuel chapter 24. Watch this….this alone will prove the ancient Israelites did not have the understand of the term “Satan” that many are trying to force into the Bible today. Are you ready?
“Now again THE ANGER OF THE LORD burned against Israel, and it incited David against them to say, “Go, number Israel and Judah (2 Samuel 24:1)”.
Now turn to 1 Chronicles 21:1 which is the parallel account of the same story. Hold on to your seat my friends!
“Then Satan stood up against Israel and moved David to number Israel”.
Whoa…is the anger of the Lord = “Satan”? Don’t change what the text says. What does it say?
The Lord was angry with Israel, He stood as their adversary at that moment, and incited David to go number the people. No ethereal being or anything weird happening here my friends! Interesting, huh? I would love for someone to show me just one passage in the Old Testament that speaks of “the devil” and “the Satan” being an angelic being- instead what we DO SEE THROUGHOUT THE OLD TESTAMENT is hyperbolic phrases referring to those who stand in opposition to one another.
Remember how I showed you the story of Job being about going to the priests and so forth? Watch this…Turn to Zechariah chapter 3.
“Then He showed me Joshua THE HIGH PRIEST standing BEFORE THE ANGEL OF THE LORD, and SATAN standing at his right hand TO ACCUSE HIM”.
ah..here we all are again. 🙂
“The Lord said to Satan, “The Lord rebuke you, Satan! Indeed, the Lord who has chosen Jerusalem rebuke you! Is this not a brand plucked from the fire”.
Satan (an adversary or accuser) has accused the inhabitants of Jerusalem of unrighteousness, and here the Lord is rebuking the accuser and restoring Joshua and Israel.
Sorry folks, no sci-fi stuff going on here! Simply read the text and allow the context to be what it is! The Satan being referenced throughout the Old Testament simply meant accuser or adversary.
More to come….
Blessings in Christ,
Pastor Mike Miano
P.S.- Again, please email comments, thoughts, and questions to Christianitygonewild@yahoo.com