When was the fall of Satan, and how did it happen?

In eternity past there was God alone, and there existed only one will at that point – God's. Then God chose to create the angels. This apparently was done before the creation of our world (Job 38:6-7). At the outset, at least, the angels' wills were perfectly aligned with God's. There was, in effect, still just one will in God's creation.

But then something happened that changed everything. Using poetic language, the Bible describes how one of the angels rose up against God, rebelled, and introduced a second will into the created order.

Scripture chronicles the events in two Old Testament passages: Ezekiel 28 and Isaiah 14. Although some Bible commentators believe these portions of Scripture do not refer to the fall of Satan, many other theologians are convinced they do.

At the start of Ezekiel 28, the prophet first addresses a "ruler" of the land of Tyre. The historical Tyre was a city of unscrupulous merchants, as well as a center of religious idolatry and sexual immorality. The ruler in question was a man named Ethbaal III, who ruled Tyre from about 590 to 572 B.C. Ethbaal (whose name literally means "living with Baal") is described this way: "your heart is proud, and you have said, 'I am a god, I sit in the seat of the gods, in the heart of the seas'" (Ezekiel 28:2).

After denouncing Ethbaal, the Prophet Ezekiel is then directed by God to deliver a second condemnation to the "king" of Tyre; this time, the description seems to be of a completely different type of being, one that is not a mere mortal. It appears God used the occasion of Ethbaal's fall to describe the original condition and fall of Satan. Like Ethbaal, Satan had raised his heart up against his Creator, declared that he would be a god, and was the spiritual king of Tyre and all its idolatry.

Ezekiel describes Satan's initial state this way: "Thus says the Lord GOD: 'You were the signet of perfection, full of wisdom and perfect in beauty. You were in Eden, the garden of God; every precious stone was your covering, sardius, topaz, and diamond, beryl, onyx, and jasper, sapphire, emerald, and carbuncle; and crafted in gold were your settings and your engravings. On the day that you were created they were prepared. You were an anointed guardian cherub. I placed you; you were on the holy mountain of God; in the midst of the stones of fire you walked. You were blameless in your ways from the day you were created, till unrighteousness was found in you'" (Ezekiel 28:12-15).

Ezekiel describes Satan as a being created in perfection. Also, Satan is a "covering cherub," an order of angels with the closest access to God and who guard His holiness (cf. Ezekiel 10:1-14). His location on the "holy mountain of God" speaks of his being involved in the government of God. Walking "in the midst of the stones of fire" communicates a nearness to God in a place just beneath the glory at the footstool of God (cf. Ezekiel 1:27).

However, Ezekiel then explains Satan's fall, and in doing so provides insight into how evil entered God's creation: "You were blameless in your ways from the day you were created, till unrighteousness was found in you. In the abundance of your trade you were filled with violence in your midst, and you sinned; so I cast you as a profane thing from the mountain of God, and I destroyed you, O guardian cherub, from the midst of the stones of fire. Your heart was proud because of your beauty; you corrupted your wisdom for the sake of your splendor. I cast you to the ground; I exposed you before kings, to feast their eyes on you. By the multitude of your iniquities, in the unrighteousness of your trade you profaned your sanctuaries; so I brought fire out from your midst; it consumed you, and I turned you to ashes on the earth in the sight of all who saw you" (Ezekiel 28:15-18).

Here we have the answer to how sin came into creation. Created a free creature, Satan possessed the ability to choose his actions. Evidently, because of his beauty and splendor, he chose to rebel against God. His sin was a self-caused action that led to his losing his position, his place, and his possessions.

The Prophet Isaiah provides more details on Satan's aspirations: "How you are fallen from heaven, O Day Star, son of Dawn! How you are cut down to the ground, you who laid the nations low! You said in your heart, 'I will ascend to heaven; above the stars of God I will set my throne on high; I will sit on the mount of assembly in the far reaches of the north; I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High" (Isaiah 14:12-14).

The five "I will" statements made by Satan in Isaiah 14 each take a step toward God, with each new step being greater than the previous. Satan's desire to "climb the ladder" and ascend to heaven may mean that his rebellion began on earth. He desired to raise his seat above that of all the other angels. Isaiah's reference to the "mount of assembly" corresponds to the government hierarchy also spoken of by Ezekiel.

Satan's longing to ascend above the heights of the clouds means he wanted to usurp the glory of God (God is sometimes pictured in Scripture as coming in the clouds, e.g., in Dan. 7:13). Finally, Satan's desire to make himself like "the Most High" makes use of a name for God – El Elyon – that literally means "possessor of heaven and earth." Simply put, Satan wanted it all.

Instead of getting it all, Satan lost it all. He was reminded that he was but a creature, and his application to join the Trinity was refused.

With his rebellious act, Satan introduced a second will into God's created order. Now, sadly, there are billions of wills that differ from God's among the human race and among the demonic legions that followed Satan's rebellion (cf. Revelation 12:2-4).

However, God's Word says that a day of full restoration is coming. The curse brought upon fallen humanity and the earth itself will be undone, and the only will in creation will be that of God's again: "No longer will there be anything accursed, but the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants will worship him. They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. And night will be no more. They will need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever" (Revelation 22:3–5).

Satan will one day be eternally assigned his place in the lake of fire, as will all those who follow him (Revelation 20:15). Put your faith and trust in Christ so that you can avoid Satan's deceptions and escape his fate.

Related Truth:

Who is Satan?

Why did God allow Satan and the demons to sin?

Why does God allow Satan and the demons to attack us?

The Battle of Armageddon - What is it?

What is going to happen in the end times?

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