A few weeks ago many of you had the opportunity to be a part of our second night of equipping and training where we talked about “God Did What…?!” During that evening we discussed why some of the bizarre stories in the Old Testament matter and how they also point to the major covenants found throughout the Old Testament. If you did not get a chance to be a part of that evening we have the podcast, notes, and hand out online for you to check out. You can find the resources HERE. As I prepared for the evening I knew I would not be able to answer all of your questions; however, I wanted you still to have an opportunity to ask your questions and get some answers. So everyone that night received an index card where they could write their questions. I’ve selected six questions, some wacky and some serious, to answer for you.
This week we are looking at one particular question. On the night of “God Did What…?!” someone asked “When were angels created and when did Satan fall?” Like many of the questions we are answering through this series, we simply do not know the answer for sure. The Bible does speak about some of these things and so we’ll look at the Scriptures to see what they say about angels, demons, and Satan. First, it is important to provide a little description of angels and Satan. Also when we speak of angels we also need to speak of demons since they too used to be angels. In the Old Testament an angel is a מַלְאָךְ (malak) and in the New Testament an angel is an αγγελος (angelos). In both senses they were messengers. Like human beings angels were created (Colossians 1:16; Psalm 148:2, 5). The question is when were they created. What Scripture seems to teach is that angels were created before anything else. In Job 38:7 God is challenging Job and he asks him where were you when “all the sons of God shouted for joy?” Here God is referring to angels praising God before any other human existed. So angels were created before anything else.
It is also important to understand that angels are personal, spiritual (Hebrews 1:14), intelligent (2 Samuel 14:20), powerful (2 Thessalonians 1:7-10), moral (Psalm 103:20), and many (Luke 2:13-14). Did angels have wings? The Bible does speak of winged creatures (Daniel 9:21; Isaiah 6:2). This, however, would be more of an inference that all angels are winged. Certainly they could fly or move to wherever they needed to be. Does this mean they have to be winged? Not necessarily. Finally, it is important to note what angels do. The Bible says they primarily accomplish four tasks: praise and glorify God (Job 38:7; Psalm 103:20, 148:2; Revelation 5:11-12), reveal and communicate God’s message to humans (Deuteronomy 33:2; Luke 1:13-20; Acts 7:53), minister to believers (Luke 15:10; Acts 5:19; 1 Corinthians 4:9), and will be involved in the second coming of Christ (Matthew 25:31; 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17).
What about Satan and demons then? The Bible is clear that demons are angels, created by God, who were originally good but chose to sin and become evil. Revelation 12:7-8 says “Now war arose in heaven, Michael and his angels fighting against the dragon. And the dragon and his angels fought back, but he was defeated, and there was no longer any place for them in heaven” (also see 2 Peter 2:4 and Jude 6). People also often cite Isaiah 14:12-15 and Ezekiel 28:12-19, but these verses are unclear as to whether or not they actually do speak of the fall of Satan and his demons. Regardless, the Bible is clear that war broke out between the good angels and the evil angels who chose to follow the dragon. The question is when did Satan and his angels choose to fall? The answer is that we really don’t know. What we do know is that Satan and his demons fell prior to Genesis 3, when Satan tempts Adam and Eve. So he and his demons could have fallen prior to creation or sometime between creation and the fall of humanity.
What we also know of Satan is that he is called many things in Scripture. His names/descriptors include: Devil, Accuser (Revelation 12:10), enemy (Matthew 13:39), Beelzebub (Mark 3:22), tempter (Matthew 4:3), evil one (1 John 2:13), deceiver (Revelation 12:9), the great dragon (Revelation 12:3), the father of lies (John 8:44), murderer (John 8:44), sinner (1 John 3:8), and others. The Bible is full of descriptions of how Satan and his demons afflict people. He opposes the Gospel, causes sickness, inflicts death, plants sinful plans in the minds of men, indwells people, tests and tries Christians, accuses Christians, incites disunity and division, promotes false doctrine, confronts us with temptations, and others.
While there is much we do not know about angels, demons, and Satan, we do know that the spiritual realm is real. Although we cannot see it, a war wages between God and his angels and Satan and his demons. Two things are important to remember here. First, Satan is not God’s counterpart. Satan is a created being created by God. Therefore God remains in control and ultimately overpowers Satan and his demons. Secondly, God is already victorious over Satan and his demons. The Bible says that when Jesus was crucified and resurrected “he disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him” (Colossians 2:15). In Hebrews 2:14 the Bible also says that Jesus put on flesh so that “through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil.” At the cross Jesus ultimately defeated Satan. We now await Satan’s final defeat when Jesus returns and judges him. The book of Revelation says that in the last days a war will ensue between Jesus and Satan, ending in Satan’s defeat where he will be thrown into the lake of fire and be defeated forever. Today we can thank and trust God because he has already defeated Satan and his demons. Christ is victorious!
In three weeks we’ll answer our next question from “God Did What…?!” Stay tuned to learn more about your questions.