A gracEmail subscriber asks “What did Satan do to be cast out of heaven?”
* * *
The Bible is somewhat sketchy on this subject. It appears from a number of references that Satan was originally a created angel who led an celestial rebellion against God resulting in their expulsion from heaven. This might be in view in 2 Peter 2:4, Jude 6 and perhaps remotely even in 1 Corinthians 11:10. Many people believe the story is summarized in Isaiah 14:12ff. That text, which begins in verse 3, is specifically talking about “the king of Babylon” who will take Judah into exile but will himself then be judged by God. Whether the “Lucifer” in this account is merely a prophetic nickname for an actual earthly king or also an angelic being who becomes the slanderer (Greek = diabolos; English = devil) and the adversary (Hebrew = satan) is impossible to know for sure. (The same may be said of Ezekiel 28:12ff and “the king of Tyre” described there.)
Some scholars have suggested that there is a large time gap between Genesis 1:1 and 1:2, and that the earth’s formless and empty state of verse 2 was the aftermath of the angelic rebellion at a time long before God formed the earth as we know it as described in the rest of Genesis 1. That, of course, is only speculation whether it is true or not.
Jesus speaks in Luke 10:18 of Satan “falling from heaven.” That is most likely a reference to Satan’s defeat at the hand of Jesus who came to destroy the devil and to bring in the kingdom (reign, authority) of God. The same idea is behind the vision in Revelation 12:9ff. By his obedient life of faithfulness to the Father and his atoning death, Jesus defeated Satan, as evidenced by his resurrection and exaltation to God’s right hand. When Jesus comes again at the end of this world’s history, Satan will be thrown into the Lake of Fire (Rev. 20:10). Between Jesus’ first and final coming, Satan is like a fatally wounded beast. He is enraged and tries to do all the harm he can, although he knows that his end is sure.