Ezekiel 28 and The Origin of Satan

Though in studying Genesis we do not learn the origin of Satan, nevertheless, as we probe into the cause for the desolation of the earth in the beginning we naturally can conclude that this must be due to the enemy. Apart from Satan there can be found no other reason in the Bible to account for this catastrophe.

Let us now examine another passage in the Scriptures which seems to tell us the origin of this adversary of God whom we shall discover to be the cause for the desolation of the original world. It is Ezekiel 28.1-19. These nineteen verses can be divided into two parts: the first from verses 1 to 10 is the prophet’s warning to the Prince of Tyre; the second part from verses 11 to 19 is the prophet’s lamentation for the King of Tyre. The first part regarding the Prince of Tyre is easily understood. He was proud and arrogant, who considered himself to be god and wiser than Daniel. His heart was lifted up because of his riches gained through trafficking in commerce. Therefore God punished him and destroyed him by the hands of the terror of the nations. For not long after this prophecy was spoken, Nebuchadnezzar, King of the Chaldeans, came and destroyed Tyre. The Jewish historian Josephus thought this prince of Tyre was Ittobalus, whereas in Phoenician history he was called Ittobaal II. We today know that this prophecy has already been fulfilled. Hence we encounter no difficulty in explaining verses 1 to 10. But as we read on from verse 11 we find many places hard to understand. Since this is closely related to what we are examining, we will quote this second part in full:
Moreover the word of Jehovah came unto me, saying, Son of man, take up a lamentation over the king of Tyre, and say unto him, Thus saith the Lord Jehovah: Thou sealest up the sum, full of wisdom, and perfect in beauty. Thou wast in Eden, the garden of God; every precious stone was thy covering, the sardius, the topaz, and the diamond, the beryl, the onyx, and the jasper, the sapphire, the emerald, and the carbuncle, and gold: the workmanship of thy tabrets and of thy pipes was in thee; in the day that thou wast created they were prepared. Thou wast the anointed cherub that covereth: and I set thee, so that thou wast upon the holy mountain of God; thou hast walked up and down in the midst of the stones of fire. Thou wast perfect in thy ways from the day that thou wast created, till unrighteousness was found in thee. By the abundance of thy traffic they filled the midst of thee with violence, and thou hast sinned: therefore have I cast thee as profane out of the mountain of God; and I have destroyed thee, O covering cherub, from the midst of the stones of fire. Thy heart was lifted up because of thy beauty; thou hast corrupted thy wisdom by reason of thy brightness: I have cast thee to the ground; I have laid thee before kings, that they may behold thee. By the multitude of thine iniquities, in the unrighteousness of thy traffic, thou hast profaned thy sanctuaries; therefore have I brought forth a fire from the midst of thee; it hath devoured thee, and I have turned thee to ashes upon the earth in the sight of all them that behold thee. All they that know thee among the peoples shall be astonished at thee: thou art become a terror, and thou shalt nevermore have any being. (28.11—19)
This lengthy passage is truly difficult to understand because there are many words here which cannot be applied to human beings. If the King of Tyre is but a human being, how can you explain the things mentioned from verses 11 to 15? When was the King of Tyre ever in the Garden of Eden, in the holy mountain of God? How could he in the least be the cherub who covered the ark? Nothing mentioned here was ever the experience of the King of Tyre. Yet neither can we spiritualize everything whenever we encounter difficulty.

I consider the first part (verses 1-10) which is addressed to the Prince of Tyre as being applicable to Ittobalus but that the second part (verses 11-19)—which is a lamentation against the King of Tyre—points to the future Antichrist. Verse 2 mentions Tyre as being in the midst of the sea. In reading Daniel 11.41-45 we know that when the future Antichrist will be in Palestine he will most probably stay in Tyre. Hence he is called the King of Tyre. Actually the Antichrist is but Satan incarnated. So that many of the things here have reference to Satan himself. In the opinion of J. N. Darby, “Verses 11-19, while continuing to speak of Tyre, go, I think, much farther, and disclose, though darkly, the fall and the ways of Satan, become through our sin the prince and god of this world.”* Arno C. Gaebelein feels the same way: “The King of Tyre is a type of the last man of sin (the Antichrist). Behind this wicked King we see another power—which is Satan. For at that time Satan was the power behind the King of Tyre; now he still is the god of this world who controls the nations.”**

* J. N. Darby, op. cit., II:294.

** A free translation.—Translator

If we study the Bible carefully, we will see that it is not against the normal teaching of God’s word to join Satan and the Antichrist together. We know, in spite of the fact people have their own will, that their movement is either the result of the working of God in them (Phil. 2.13) or the result of the working of the evil spirit (Eph. 2.2). Men do not have complete liberty. Ordinarily people of the world are under the control of the evil spirits. Sometimes, where mighty issues are at stake, Satan himself may step in and work. We saw how he came personally to tempt Christ in the wilderness; how later on he used Peter to dissuade Christ from the cross; and finally how he entered Judas’ heart in order to destroy Christ. In the last days he will join with the Antichrist in the arena of the world. Hence the Bible states this: “Even he [the lawless one], whose coming is according to the working of Satan” (2 Thess. 2.9). For Satan shall give him “his power, and his throne, and great authority” (Rev. 13.2). In view of the fact that Antichrist is Satan incarnated, the Holy Spirit speaks of them as one. So that in these verses all the supernatural things have reference to Satan himself while the rest speaks of the Antichrist. Now our purpose here is not to engage in research on the Antichrist but to know the creatures of the original world and to discover the reason for its desolation. Consequently, we shall set aside the places where Antichrist is referred to and focus our attention on those things involving Satan.

“How art thou fallen from heaven, O day-star, son of the morning!” (Is. 14.12) Before the archangel’s fall, he was called the Day-Star, the Son of the Morning. After his rebellion, however, he is called Satan—which means the adversary.

“Thou sealest up the sum, full of wisdom, and perfect in beauty” (Ez. 28.12). This was the archangel’s condition prior to his sin. He was higher than all the other angels. These terms—“the sum . . . full . . . perfect”—indicate that he was the greatest among the original creatures. God placed him above all others. Moreover, he was full of wisdom, indicative of his understanding of God’s will. Probably he had at that time the office of a prophet.

“Thou wast in Eden, the garden of God; every precious stone was thy covering” (v.13a). In Genesis 3 we see the presence of Satan. He was there not having every precious stone as his covering but rather he was there as a tempter to Adam and Eve. And hence these two Edens do not co-exist. At the time of Adam’s Eden, Satan had already fallen; but in the Eden mentioned here, Satan had not fallen yet. So that this garden of Eden must have existed before Adam’s Eden. If so, it must have belonged to the former world, not to the present world. It can be likened to the New Jerusalem in the future, having many precious stones such as the sardis, jasper, and so forth. The Eden which Adam inhabited, though, was not so. The Bible draws attention only to the trees in it, nothing being said of its bejeweled covering. Hence the Eden here must be different from Adam’s Eden. It was much earlier in time. The precious stones which the archangel wore remind us of the precious stones which Aaron the priest had on him (see Ex. 28). This therefore intimates that probably God had established him as a priest. “The workmanship of thy tabrets and of thy pipes was in thee” (v. 13b). In the Bible we find that musical instruments were used by kings. We notice, for example, how David played the harp before King Saul, how, in reference to another king, his “pomp is brought down to Sheol, and the noise of [his] viols” when the King of Babylon was destroyed (Is. 14.11), and how the cornet, flute, harp, sackbut, psaltery, dulcimer, and all kinds of music was sounded when the King of Babylon was elated (see Dan. 3). Evidently, the archangel at that time was made king and therefore he was given all these musical instruments by God.

“Thou wast the anointed cherub that covereth” (v.14a). “Anointed” means he was being set apart. The work of a “cherub” or “living creature” (cf. Ez. 10.15) is to lead in worshiping the Lord (see Rev. 4.9,10; 5.11-14). So that Lucifer’s work at the beginning was to lead the creatures of that day in the worship of God. This also indicates he had the office of a priest.

“And I set thee, so that thou wast upon the holy mountain of God; thou hast walked up and down in the midst of the stones of fire” (v.14b). The mountain of God most probably is the place where the glory of God is manifested. Since he is God’s priest, Lucifer would naturally stand before God and serve Him. What is the meaning of “walked up and down in the midst of the stones of fire”? According to Ezekiel 1.26, the place of the cherubim or “living creatures” (see Ez. 1.19ff.) is just beneath the throne of God. When Moses and seventy of the elders of Israel were called to Mount Sinai, it says that “they saw the God of Israel; and there was under his feet as it were a paved work of sapphire stone, and as it were the very heaven for clearness . . . And the appearance of the glory of Jehovah was like devouring fire on the top of the mount in the eyes of the children of Israel” (Ex. 24.10,17). So that this paved work of sapphire stone which looked like devouring fire is “the stones of fire” spoken of here in Ezekiel 28.14b. It thus indicates that originally this archangel was placed in the habitation of the Most High directly under the throne of God where he was very close to God. “Thou wast perfect in thy ways from the day that thou wast created, till unrighteousness was found in thee” (v.15). Whatever God created was perfect, because He is not the originator of sin. Unrighteousness began with this sinful archangel Lucifer. He was created by God and was given a free will, just as God has given us human beings free will. How sad that this created angel misused this freedom! How many are the people today who abuse their freedom even as Satan of old did.

“By the abundance of thy traffic they filled the midst of thee with violence, and thou hast sinned” (v.16a). We may apply this word to the Antichrist, since in the last days we know that commerce will be greatly increased (see Rev. 18). Due to the increase in trade, many sins also follow. This is easily proven by observing past human history.

However, this word may also be applied to Satan. Pember has pointed out that the word “traffic” may also be translated “detraction” or “slander.”* We know the word “devil” in the original means “slanderer,” “calumniator” or “malignant accuser.” How Satan accused Job and attacked him without mercy! At the end of this age we shall hear these words: “Now is come the salvation, and the power, and the kingdom of our God, and the authority of his Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, who accuseth them before our God day and night” (Rev. 12.10). The phrase “cast down” here corresponds to that of the “cast out” in Ezekiel 28, and the reason for his being cast out is likewise the same. Probably in Ezekiel God is seen as condemning Satan’s sin, whereas in the Revelation passage He is observed as sending Michael to execute the judgment against Satan. Why does God allow Satan to remain in the air today? Possibly because (1) God’s time is not yet come, and/or (2) there is still much rubbish in God’s children which needs to be purified by means of this fiery furnace, e.g. not accepting Biblocality.

* G. H. Pember, op. cit., p. 52.

Verse 17 states explicitly the cause of Satan’s fall: “Thy heart was lifted up because of thy beauty; thou hast corrupted thy wisdom by reason of thy brightness.” The description given of the King of Babylon in Isaiah 14.12-14 is quite similar to what is described here with respect to Satan. Hence many of God’s servants believe that what the Holy Spirit has said applied not only to the King of Babylon but in a deeper sense also applied to the one behind the King of Babylon, even Satan. It tells of the cause of Satan’s fall. I believe Ezekiel reveals the cause of Satan’s pride whereas Isaiah discloses how proud he was. It might be that inwardly as he compared himself to the other created beings of God, he began to be proud and arrogant. Later on he even thought of himself as being equal with God. Thus he incurred God’s judgment: “How art thou fallen from heaven, O day-star, son of the morning! . . . And thou saidst in thy heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God; and I will sit upon the mount of congregation, in the uttermost part of the north; I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High” (Is. 14.12-14). Because of his arrogant pride, he was punished by God. All his powers in heaven were being taken away from him.