“Now the serpent was more crafty than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said to the woman, ‘Indeed, has God said, ‘You shall not eat from any tree of the garden’?” (Gen. 3:1)
The serpent (Hebrew: natash), bright one, shinning one, was extremely beautiful. This was obviously not the serpent that we know of today. In fact, there was much more to this snake in the garden than at first met the woman’s eye. In order to identify the real snake behind this snake, we must take a short glimpse into the realm of angels. The Old Testament word for angel is “malach,” which means messenger. In the New Testament the word angel is “angelos,” messenger.
- Angels were characterized by wisdom.
“In order to change the appearance of things your servant Joab has done this thing. But my lord is wise, like the wisdom of the angel of God, to know all that is in the earth.” (2 Sam. 14:20)
- Angels were characterized by strength.
“Bless the LORD, you His angels, mighty in strength, who perform His word, obeying the voice of His word.” (Psa. 103:20)
- Angels were created to worship and glorify God.
“In the year of King Uzziah’s death I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, lofty and exalted, with the train of His robe filling the temple. Seraphim stood above Him, each having six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. And one called out to another and said, ‘Holy, Holy, Holy, is the LORD of hosts, The whole earth is full of His glory.’” (Isa. 6:1-3; see also, Eze. 1:5; Rev. 4: 8)
- Angels were created as God’s ministers.
“Are they not all ministering spirits, sent out to render service for the sake of those who will inherit salvation?” (Heb. 1:14)
- Evil angels are being used upon the earth to orchestrate rebellion against God’s kingdom.
Daniel was in captivity in Babylon. He asked God for information concerning Israel’s future. The angel Gabriel appeared to him.
“Then behold, a hand touched me and set me trembling on my hands and knees. He said to me, ‘O Daniel, man of high esteem, understand the words that I am about to tell you and stand upright, for I have now been sent to you.’ And when he had spoken this word to me, I stood up trembling. Then he said to me, ‘Do not be afraid, Daniel, for from the first day that you set your heart on understanding this and on humbling yourself before your God, your words were heard, and I have come in response to your words. But the prince of the kingdom of Persia was withstanding me for twenty-one days; then behold, Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, for I had been left there with the kings of Persia’.” (Dan. 10:10-13)
The prince of the kingdom of Persia was not a human being (verse 13)! This prince was an angel. This angel had prevented Gabriel from coming to Daniel for 21 days. Michael, the archangel (Jude 1:9), came to Gabriel’s rescue freeing him to get to Daniel. Such angelic activity is evidently taking place today.
“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.” (Eph. 6:12)
Gabriel continued to speak to Daniel.
“Then he said, ‘Do you understand why I came to you? But I shall now return to fight against the prince of Persia; so I am going forth, and behold, the prince of Greece is about to come.’” (Dan. 10:20)
Notice again the prince behind the king of Persia.
Now back to Ezekiel as he is speaking to the human king of Tyre. Ezekiel called him “the prince of Tyre” (Eze. 28:1-10). This king was consumed with pride. He was in control of much of the sea trade of the ancient world and was very wealthy. In fact, he was so arrogant that he considered himself to be a god (Eze. 28:2). Ezekiel did not refer to him as “king” but he called him a “prince.”
In the course of the conversation, it seems most likely that Ezekiel began to address this prince.
“Again the word of the LORD came to me saying, ‘Son of man, take up a lamentation over the king of Tyre and say to him, ‘Thus says the Lord GOD, You had 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 ruby, the topaz and the diamond; The beryl, the onyx and the jasper; The lapis lazuli, the turquoise and the emerald; And the gold, the workmanship of your settings and sockets, was in you. On the day that you were created they were prepared. You were the anointed cherub who covers, and I placed you there. You were on the holy mountain of God.” (Ezek. 28:11-14)
This prince had been the “seal of perfection.” Literally, he said, “You seal up the sum, full of wisdom and perfect in beauty.”
Quoting Arnold Fruchtenbaum (Footsteps of the Messiah; page 383):
“When God set out to do His creative work, He limited His creation to a specific pattern and did not choose to go beyond it. When the animals were created, they filled up only a portion of the pattern. When man was created, he filled up some more of the pattern. Angels filled even a bit more. But when God created Satan, he filled up the entire pattern in two areas: wisdom and beauty.”
Ezekiel may have been speaking with Satan himself. If this is speaking of the devil, this angelic being once had a lofty position before God. Ezekiel referred to him as “the anointed cherub.”
There were three separate ranks of beings in the angelic realm. The lowest rank were the angels under the command of Michael the archangel. Next were the seraphim. The Hebrew word “seraphim” means, “burning ones.” Fire in the Bible implies judgment. Evidently these angels were to carry out judgment for God (Isa. 6:1-3). The highest order of angels was the cherubim. The name “cherubim” means, “to cover.” The cherubim were anointed to protect God’s throne in order to preserve His holiness. The devil may have once been one of these anointed angels.
The garden of God was not located in Eden. That garden, as we shall see, was a garden of trees and plants. The garden described here was a mineral garden. It evidently served as this angel’s original dwelling place.
The “Original” Original Sin
“You were blameless in your ways From the day you were created Until unrighteousness was found in you.” (Eze.28:15)
“Until” is a time word. At a moment in time unrighteousness was found to be in this anointed cherub. The details of this moment of unrighteousness are found in Isaiah 14:12-14. Like Ezekiel, Isaiah was at first speaking with the human king of Babylon. But all of a sudden it becomes obvious that he was speaking to someone behind this human king.
“How you have fallen from heaven, O star of the morning, son of the dawn! You have been cut down to the earth, You who have weakened the nations! But you said in your heart, ‘I will ascend to heaven; I will raise my throne above the stars of God, And I will sit on the mount of assembly In the recesses of the north. I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High.’” (Isa. 14:10-14)
It is obvious that king of Babylon had not been in heaven. And notice that Isaiah refers to him as “Lucifer.” Lucifer is translated glistening one or shining one. This may be a description of the original original sin.
- I will ascend to heaven.
I will start my climb to the lofty position of God Himself.
- I will raise my throne above the stars of God.
I will take over as commander and chief of the angelic realm.
- I will sit on the mount of the assembly in the recesses of the north.
I will rule over Israel which is a position reserved for the Messiah.
- I will ascend above the heights of the clouds.
I will take upon myself glory that is reserved for God alone.
- I will make myself like the Most High.
Lucifer’s ultimate goal was to take for himself the position of God. God judged Lucifer because of His pride, and he became Satan, the adversary of God. God cast him out of heaven and reserved for him judgment (Matt. 25:41).
Satan is brilliant, but God is the ultimate genius. Satan has a plan, but God has the master plan.
“God will do according to His will in the army of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth,” records the prophecy of Daniel (Dan. 4:35).
Satan is a creature. He is limited. He is not omniscient, omnipotent, nor omnipresent. (For more, see “The Fall.”)
New American Standard Bible
Donald G. Barnhouse