By Michael Jakes, Crosswalk.com
I will never forget a conversation that I had with a friend of mine when I was just a boy. It was what happened after our conversation that still lingers in my mind. We were both about twelve years old, and our conversation was on biblical matters. He was growing up in a religious family, and I was not. I can still recall that it was a very windy day, and we were sitting in the courtyard of a particular church that was in our neighborhood. He was telling me about heaven and hell, and more specifically about angels and demons. At the time, I thought that the things that he was telling me were the most absurd things that I had ever heard! “Come on, there’s no such thing as angels, and especially no such thing as demons!”, I told him. It was all quite laughable to me, and I made sure that he knew just how I felt.
When we left and went our separate ways, I went home, with this crazy conversation still fresh in my mind. What I did next was bold, brazen, foolish, and most of all ignorant. Being home alone, I stood in the middle of the living room, looked up to the ceiling, and implored these so-called demons to come and get me! My ignorance of spiritual things had now turned into irreverence. What was I thinking? I imagine that this was my foolish and childish way of showing how much I thought of what my friend had said to me. But after hearing some knocking noises in the house that I could not identify, this “fearless” twelve-year-old ran out of the house like a chicken without a head.
But what happened there? By God’s grace, three years later I was born again, and as I began to grow in the Lord, I came to learn more about these angels and demons that I had written off as myth, or at best a figment of someone’s vivid imagination. Those “so-called” demons are very real after all, and they have an equally real leader whose name is Satan. As I look back on this event and I am reminded of my former ignorance, I realize that there is yet much that we do not know about these things. But what we do know, and all that we can know is found only in the Word of God.
What Does Satan’s Name Mean?
Satan himself has a very “colorful” history, and many are surprised to find out that Satan, as we know him, was not always Satan. Once upon a time, in the dateless past, Satan was known as Lucifer. Why was he called Lucifer, and why was his name changed? To find the answer to these questions, we must go into this history. We read first from the book of Isaiah:
“How you have fallen from heaven, morning star, son of the dawn! You have been cast down to the earth, you who once laid low the nations! You said in your heart, ‘I will ascend to the heavens; I will raise my throne above the stars of God; I will sit enthroned on the mount of assembly, on the utmost heights of Mount Zaphon. I will ascend above the tops of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High’” (Isaiah 14:12-14).
Here we read about Satan’s former condition, and his sinful aspirations. The name Lucifer interchangeably means “shining one,” “light bearer,” or “morning star.” The fact is that “Lucifer” is not actually an English translation of the Hebrew word from which it is translated; “Lucifer” is a Latin translation. So while Lucifer is the name which we associate with Satan, rather than being a proper name, “Lucifer” refers to and is descriptive of his former splendor. In short, the fact that he was described as “the morning star” was a reflection of his character. This morning star had now become deceived, believing he could rise above God, and he would go on deceiving. From here on he would be known “the devil,” which means “slanderer,” and “Satan,” which means “adversary” – both of which fit his new nature perfectly.
Why Is Satan Known as the Morning Star?
We read of Satan’s former splendor in a passage from the book of Ezekiel which seems to be speaking of the earthly king of Tyre, but we quickly realize that the prophet is speaking prophetically of the fall of Lucifer:
“Son of man, take up a lamentation for the king of Tyre, and say to him, ‘Thus says the Lord GOD: ‘You were the seal of perfection, Full of wisdom and perfect in beauty. You were in Eden, the garden of God; Every precious stone was your covering: The sardius, topaz, and diamond, Beryl, onyx, and jasper, Sapphire, turquoise, and emerald with gold. The workmanship of your timbrels and pipes was prepared for you on the day you were created. You were the anointed cherub who covers; I established you; You were on the holy mountain of God; You walked back and forth in the midst of fiery stones. You were perfect in your ways from the day you were created, till iniquity was found in you’” (Ezekiel 28:12-14).
When we look at these verses, we can see the abundance of pomp and beauty that belonged to Satan. And when we see how he was so splendidly arrayed, it is no wonder that he was referred to as the shining one or the morning star.
When speaking to the seventy evangelists upon their return, Jesus spoke of this very same fall when He said:
“And He said to them, I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven” (Luke 10:18).
But there is yet further precedence for Satan being referred to as the morning star. Scripture frequently refers to angels as stars, and it is obvious that it is speaking of angels. The book of Revelation speaks also of the fall of Satan, by adding that Satan was not alone in his rebellion:
“And another sign appeared in heaven: behold, a great, fiery red dragon having seven heads and ten horns, and seven diadems on his heads. His tail drew a third of the stars of heaven and threw them to the earth. And the dragon stood before the woman who was ready to give birth, to devour her Child as soon as it was born” (Revelation 12:3-4).
Satan is here referred to as a fiery red dragon whose tail drew a third of the stars of heaven and threw them to earth. This language symbolizes Satan’s rebellion and fall, and tells us further that he was able to persuade one-third of the “stars” that were, to join him in his rebellion. The stars that are referred to here are not literal stars, but are figurative of angels. In Job 38, we find another reference to angels as stars. Keep in mind as you read this that these are the words of God Himself, speaking directly to Job:
“Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth? Tell Me, if you have understanding. Who determined its measurements? Surely you know! Or who stretched the line upon it? To what were its foundations fastened? Or who laid its cornerstone, When the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy?” (Job 38:4-7).
What Power Does Satan Have?
The morning stars singing together here, are an obvious reference to angels, and we find here another ancient designation for angels: they are the “sons of God.” We ourselves are called the sons of God once we are in Christ. But in no way are angels the sons of God as we are. The difference is that we are regenerated, and angels are not. We read from the King James Version:
“Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is” (1 John 3:2).
This simply means that we are His offspring and His children. When speaking of angels, it has the same meaning: angels are God’s children — in the absolutely creative sense alone.
Though we should not obsess over Satan in any way, there is great advantage in knowing that in spite of what power he may yet retain, he is limited because he has no power over the child of God — except what power we allow him to have. This knowledge of Satan also reminds us of his power to deceive, for we read:
“For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light” (2 Corinthians 11:13-14).
This transformation is more spiritual than physical, but is nonetheless real. We learn here that we are not to be ignorant of his devices because Satan is always ready, willing, and able to mislead and ensnare anyone who is unprepared and undiscerning. The “angel of light” — the “morning star” – will always be what and who he is.
Let’s keep our eyes on fixed on Christ, knowing that we are victorious through Him, and by doing so, greatly minimize any possibility of becoming victims of his counterfeit light.
Photo credit: ©Getty Images/Mark Newman
Michael Jakes is a Bible teacher, and co-founder of That’s The Word! Ministries, a distinctly online Cross-centered outreach. He hosts several live weekly webcasts, including 'The Bible Speaks Live', 'The Cutting It Right Bible Study', and the 'Line By Line Webcast'. He has also authored three books, The Lights In The Windows, Churchified Or Sanctified?, and Living In Between Sundays. He and his wife Eddye have been married for over 40 years, and reside in New York. You can follow him on Facebook and Youtube , or listen to his podcasts on Spreaker.