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When Did The Fall Of Satan Take Place?
A couple of years ago, during the Thursday night bible study that became Calvary Meadow Mesa, I made reference to Genesis chapters 1 thru 3. One of the topics of discussion was the apparent, (at least from my perspective), biblical presentation that God created a world in which fallen angelic beings, including Satan, were allowed access and potential influence. I have always been curious regarding the idea that God would create Adam and Eve and place them in a world where fallen angelic forces were/are present.
Bible study participants
were asked to consider the possibilities as to why God would place Adam and Eve
in a place where they would be in the presence of such a potentially destructive influence.
My intention was to show how God was laying the foundation for a plot that would play out through history which would reveal the character of Satan, the character of man, the character of God and the principle of free will.
Immediately following the meeting, I spoke with a man who questioned the accuracy of some of the ideas shared in our study. He presented an alternative view in which Adam and Eve were created in a world that did not have the influence of a fallen angel. He completely agreed that Satan was present on the earth but he believed that there was a period of time, represented by Genesis 1 and 2, in which Satan existed in an un-fallen state. He used Ezekiel 28 and Genesis 1:31 to support his position. He dismissed the idea that God would place Adam and Eve in a setting where fallen angelic beings would be present.
In an attempt to bring
clarification, I told this brother that I would present an article that would
articulate my position as well as other positions related to this topic.
The following article provides three different views regarding the fall of Satan.
The gentleman who prompted the writing of this article seems to
believe in View #2, which is listed below.
View #3 is the position I choose to believe and it is from this perspective that I was sharing during the aforementioned bible study.
This article illustrates the reality that bible believing Christians can have differing views regarding certain areas of scripture. Differing views don't necessarily endanger one's salvation but they can lead to passionate and opinionated discussion.
Christians should always be encouraged to examine their beliefs to make sure they are consistent with what is presented in the bible. Flexibility in learning doesn't necessarily mean a person is in a negative state of theological compromise. Maturing Christians acknowledge the existence of varied theological positions without accepting them as doctrine. Theological positions and biblical doctrine are not the same. A position cannot be considered biblical doctrine until it stands the test of "rightly dividing the word of truth". Theological positions must be compared to "the whole counsel of God". When a position has stood this kind of testing, over time, it is often accepted as doctrine.
The topic of this article should be placed in that "non-essential" area of biblical understanding. It is one of those areas what may always be discussed by means of varied positions, never achieving the level of doctrine. It may be one of those topics that will never be fully clarified until we enter into the presence of our Lord where all things will be made clear.
There are a number of differing views regarding this topic. This article presents three of the most prevalent views on this matter.
This view incorporates a theory known as “The Gap Theory”. Gap Theorists believe that the fall of Satan took place in the time period between Genesis 1:1 and Genesis 1:2. What time period is that, you might ask? Continue reading.
Those who hold this position claim that a significant “Gap of Time” transpired between Genesis 1:1 and Genesis 1:2. They believe that Genesis 1:1 speaks of the original creation of the heavens and the earth in which angels were created along with a pre-Adamic race of men, animals and dinosaurs.
They believe the following events took place during this “Gap” of time:
1) The fall of Satan
2) A judgment upon the earth.
3) A cataclysm as a result of the fall of Satan and the judgment which destroyed all forms of life that existed
on the earth at that time.
Gap theorists believe that Genesis 1:2 is a description of the re-creation of the world following this earlier cataclysm. They consider this theory to be the most tenable of all competing theories because of the geological evidence that they believe to be evidence that the universe is much older than that proposed in competing theories. They believe that Genesis 1:3 and the verses that follow provide a description of the "re-creation" of the world.
The “Gap Theory” is an attempt of Christian theologians to make Genesis fit the popular belief that the universe is exceedingly old. It seems that this theory was developed as a means of harmonizing the facts of Genesis chapter 1 with evolutionary theory and the geological evidence including fossils. They believe in a literal Genesis, but accept an extremely long age for the earth. To reconcile these views, they fit the geological ages between verses 1 and 2 of Genesis chapter1. In regard to the theory of evolution, most are willing to admit evolutionary processes taking place within a species but the idea of one species transforming over time into a completely new species is absolutely rejected as it has never been supported by even fossil evidence.
In his “anti Gap theory” book titled, (Unformed and Unfilled), by Weston
W. Fields, the author writes the following:
The traditional or classical “Gap Theory” can be summarized as follows: ‘In the far distant dateless past God created a perfect heaven and perfect earth. Satan was ruler of the earth which was peopled by a race of ‘men’ without any souls. Eventually, Satan, who dwelled in a garden of Eden composed of minerals (Ezekiel 28), rebelled by desiring to become like God (Isaiah 14). Because of Satan’s fall, sin entered the universe and brought on the earth God’s judgment in the form of a flood (indicated by the water of 1:2), and then a global Ice Age when the light and heat from the sun were somehow removed. All the plant, animal, and human fossils upon the earth today date from this ‘Lucifer’s flood’ and do not bear any genetic relationship with the plants, animals and fossils living upon the earth today ...’ (Ref. 6, p. 7). Today’s creatures are a result of a 6-day recreation.
Note, however, that recently a new type of gap theory has surfaced in which
there is no ruin or reconstruction; proponents just postulate a lengthy time gap
only, with either ancient stars, an ancient earth, or both.
Satan's fall took place in the gap between Genesis chapter 2 and Genesis chapter 3.
This is the position of many fine creationists and Bible teachers. These people hold to the position that the earth has only existed for a short period of time measured in thousands rather than millions of years. They hold to a literal 6 day creation week.
They identify a number of reasons why they believe Satan's fall took place after Genesis 2 and before Genesis 3.
One key reason is that they assume that the creation of Satan took place during the creation week (on the very first day of the creation week). They base this on Exodus 20:11, "For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it." They would argue, "The Creator made the heaven(s) and the earth in 6 days and He made all that is in the heaven(s) and the earth in six days. Since the angels, including Lucifer, are part of all that is in heaven, then we conclude that the creation of Lucifer took place during the 6 days of creation." They would also draw our attention to Colossians 1:16 where the Bible includes angels in God's work of creation: "For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him" (Col. 1:16).
Another key verse which they appeal to is Genesis 1:31, "And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good. And the evening and the morning were the sixth day." They would say, "How could God pronounce His ‘VERY GOOD’ upon a universe which contained a wicked, fallen angel, whom we now know as Satan? It seems far more reasonable to think of Satan’s fall as occurring sometime after God gave this pronouncement."
Another argument is based on Genesis 1:26,28 (in these verses God gives man rule and dominion over the animals). They believe that if Satan had already fallen, then this would compromise the total dominion of the world that God entrusted to Adam, because then Adam would have Satan as a rival who would be working against him. This argument is weak, however, for all would agree that Satan is a fallen creature as Genesis chapter 3 begins. And yet in Genesis 3 (prior to man's fall) Adam still had dominion even though a fallen devil was present. Adam's total dominion was affected by Adam's sin, not by the presence of a fallen devil.
Thus the two major arguments of this view center around Exodus 20:11 and Genesis 1:31. The key to understanding when Satan fell is to understand when he was created. If a person places the creation of Lucifer within the 6 day week of creation, then he is forced to say that Satan's fall took place after Genesis chapters 1 and 2 (while Adam and Eve were alive). This view is forced to conclude that the fall of Satan and the fall of Adam were events that took place at about the same time in history, and that these two events were not separated by a very long period (perhaps by only a matter of days?).
The fall of Satan took place prior to Genesis chapter 1.
This assumes that the creation of Satan (Lucifer) and his fall both took place prior to Genesis 1:1 and that his fall took place prior to the creation of Adam and Eve, not after their creation. Consider the following:
1. Genesis chapter 1 describes in detail the 6 days of creation and what was created on each day. The chapter talks about the creation of the earth, the atmosphere, the sun and moon, the stars, the dry land, the plants, the animals, etc. In this chapter nothing is said at all about the creation of the angels. Was this simply an omission or is it possible that the creation of the angels did not fall within these 6 days?
2. Exodus 20:11 places the creation of Lucifer within the creation week only if it is assumed that the expression "heaven" (or "heavens") refers not only to the first and second heavens, but to the third heaven as well.
3. It is helpful to compare Exodus 20:11 with another verse on creation found in Nehemiah 9:6. The Nehemiah passage definitely refers to the creation of angels. Notice the expressions that are used:
"For in six days the LORD made heaven (or heavens) and earth, the sea, and all that in them is" (Exodus 20:11).
"Thou, even thou, art LORD alone; thou hast made heaven (or heavens), the heaven of heavens, with all their host, the earth, and all things that are therein, the seas, and all that is therein, and thou preservest them all; and the host of heaven angels worshippeth thee." (Neh. 9:6)
Notice the additional phrase used in the Nehemiah passage, "the heaven of heavens." This is the Hebrew way of making a superlative. "A superlative sense is expressed by joining a noun with its own plural in the genitive" (Hebrew Syntax by Davidson). We even use this in English. We might say, "The Bible is the Book of Books!" By this we mean that the Bible is the greatest Book of all. Here are some biblical examples: "Slave of slaves" means the lowest slave (Gen. 9:25). "Holy of holies" means most holy (Exodus 26:33). "Song of songs" means the most excellent song. "King of kings" means the greatest of all kings (Ezekiel 26:7 and see 1 Tim. 6:15: Rev. 17:14; 19:16). For other examples see Gesenius’ Hebrew Grammar, (Section 133i).
Thus, "the heaven of heavens" means "the greatest of the heavens" or "the highest of all heavens" (see Brown, Driver and Briggs’ Hebrew Lexicon). The highest of all heavens can only refer to the third heaven, which is the abode of God and angels.
The expression "heaven of heavens" is found in the following passages: Deuteronomy 10:14; 1 Kings 8:27; 2 Chronicles 2:6; 6:18; Nehemiah 9:6; Psalm 68:33 and Psalm 148:4. In each of these passages the phrase clearly refers to the third heaven, "the highest of all heavens." Notice also that Psalm 148:1-4 is another passage (like Nehemiah 9:6) which mentions the angels (v.2) and in the same context mentions the highest of all heavens (v.4).
Exodus 20:11 does not mention the heaven of heavens and Genesis chapter 1 does not mention the heaven of heavens either. Neither of these passages mention angels. Could it be that Exodus 20:11 and Genesis 1 have reference only to the first and second heavens and not to the third heaven? And if so, does this indicate that the third heaven with all its host had already been created prior to the six days of creation?
The Hebrew word "heaven" always occurs in the plural form and may
be translated "heavens" if the context so demands. Thus Genesis 1:1
could be translated "God created the heavens and the earth"
(referring to the first and second heavens). There are times in the Bible when
"heaven" can refer to the third heaven (Matt. 6:9), the second heaven
(Psalm 8:3), or the first heaven (Matt. 6:26 "fowls of the heaven"),
but the expression "heaven of heavens" only refers to the third
4. The expression "the heaven(s) and the earth" (found in Genesis 1:1 and Exodus 20:11) refers to the UNIVERSE (the Hebrew language did not have a word for universe as we do). The universe is made up of the earth, the first heaven and the second heaven. It includes the earth with its solar system, its galaxy and the millions of galaxies around it. The third heaven is beyond our universe and unseen by any telescope.
5. Exodus 20:11 and Genesis 1:1 both refer to the creation of the universe (the heavens and the earth), and this took place in 6 literal 24 hour days. In both Exodus 20:11 and Genesis chapter 1, no mention is made of the heaven of heavens or the creation of angels or the creation of the throne of God or the creation of anything else which relates to the third heaven. Also in Ezekiel chapter 28 which tells us of Satan before his fall, there is nothing in the description which speaks of the earth. It all appears to be a heavenly scene, not an earthly scene. Thus the focus of Ezekiel 28 is upon the third heaven (prior to the creation of the universe) and the focus of Genesis 1 is upon the earth.
6. In the passages which do clearly mention the third heaven and the creation
of angels (Colossians 1:16 and Nehemiah 9:6) nothing is said concerning the time
frame of creation. The main point being stressed in these verses is that He is
the Creator of all things.
7. A comparison of Exodus 20:11 with Nehemiah 9:6 would indicate that the expression "heaven(s)" does not necessarily include "the heaven of heavens." A distinction seems to be made. If Nehemiah felt he needed to add the expression "heaven of heavens" to include the creation of angels, then it seems possible to say that the omission of this expression in Exodus 20:11 suggests that the creation of angels is not in view.
8. It would be nice and neat to be able to say that everything (including the "heaven of heaven" and its host) was created within the 6 day creation week, but does the Bible actually say this? It may seem awkward to posit a creation of the third heaven prior to the creation of the universe. However, this actually harmonizes more easily with Job 38:7 "When the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy?". This passage in the ancient book of Job is referring to the time when God laid the foundation of the earth. The angels were already there as witnesses and they were rejoicing at God’s work of creation. A natural and normal reading of Job 38 seems to indicate that when God created the earth (Genesis 1:1 on the very first day of creation), the angels were already there witnessing this event. The text in Job 38 does not seem to imply that these angels were recently created just moments before. One would assume, by just reading Job 38, that the angels were created PRIOR to the creation of the earth. Genesis 1:1 seems to put the creation of the earth at the very beginning of DAY 1 of creation. Note: Those who place the creation of angels within the six days are thus forced to say that they were created at the very beginning of the creation week so that they could thus witness the laying of the foundation of the earth, which also took place early on the first day of creation. This understanding seems strained and forced.
9. Genesis 1:31 says that God looked at everything which He made (cf. Exodus 20:11) – namely, the entire created universe which He had so wondrously filled and formed during these six days – and He said, "VERY GOOD." It does not say that He looked at Satan and said, "VERY GOOD." Satan's "VERY GOOD" had already been pronounced in Ezekiel 28:15 ("perfect in thy ways"), prior to his fall. There is not really a problem with God saying, "VERY GOOD" even though Satan had already fallen. All would agree that a fallen Satan was present in the garden in Genesis 3, but this did not make the universe any less "good" prior to the curse. It was not Satan's sin that spoiled and ruined the earth and caused all of creation to be subject to vanity (Rom. 8:19-23). It was Adam’s sin which did this. The earth was not cursed because of Lucifer’s fall, but because of Adam's fall. Before the earth was cursed, it was a “VERY GOOD” paradise even though Satan was present?
1) The first heaven is the atmospheric heaven, that which can be seen during the day. The second heaven is the universe which can be seen at night and explored by telescope. The third heaven is the "highest" heaven which is the abode of God and the original home of angels. The third heaven can only be seen with eyes of faith. See 2 Cor. 12:2.
2) There are 5 passages which make a distinction between the first and second heaven and the heaven of heavens: Deuteronomy 10:14; 1 Kings 8:27; 2 Chronicles 2:6; 6:18; Nehemiah 9:6
This may imply that the "heaven" of Genesis 1:1 may not include the heaven of heavens (the third heaven).
Also Psalm 68:33 refers to the heavens of heavens “which were of old.” The inherent implication is that the third heaven is in some sense ancient or old making it distinctly different from and unique to the first and second heaven. Why would the psalmist make such a distinction if the first, second and third heavens were all created at the same time during the six days of the creation week? But if the creation of the third heaven pre-dated the creation the first and second heaven, it would be appropriate to speak of the third heaven as being "of old" or ancient.
Commentary Regarding Ezekiel 28 12-17
12 "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.
13 You were in Eden, the garden of God; every precious stone was your
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.
14 "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.
15 You were perfect in your ways from the day you were created, till iniquity was found in you.
16 "By the abundance of your trading you became filled with violence within, and you sinned; therefore I cast you as a profane thing out of the mountain of God; and I destroyed you, O covering cherub, from the midst of the fiery stones.
17 "Your heart was lifted up because of your beauty; you corrupted your
wisdom for the sake of your splendor; I cast you to the ground, I laid you
before kings, that they might gaze at you.
Many Christian Bible teachers see this passage as going beyond the King of Tyre and speaking directly to Satan (ie, not just a typology of Satan, but Satan himself). They seek to support their view by pointing out):
1) he was created perfect - verse 12
2) he was perfect in beauty - verse 12
3) he was in Eden - verse 13
4) he was anointed as a guardian cherub - verse14
5) he is called cherub again - verse 16
6) his heart became proud on account of his beauty - verse 17
7) he was thrown down to earth (to the ground) - verse 17
Additional Information Important to Understanding the Passage:
In the ArtScroll Tanach (Jewish Orthodox) there is a different rendering of verses 12b and verse 13.
"'Are you [Adam] the culmination of perfection, full of wisdom, perfect
Were you in the Eden, the garden of God;
Was your canopy of every precious stone --
Odem, pitedah and yahalom; tarshish, shoham and yashfeh; sapir, nophech and barkas -- and gold?'"
They also add a footnote in which they paraphrase v.12 according to the Midrash's understanding:
"Are you as perfect as the first man, Adam, the die from which all
mankind was cast?"
A second footnote paraphases verse 14 (ie, a great sheltering cherub) according to Rashi:
"You were a leader of very great stature. God blessed you because your predecessor,
King Hiram of Tyre, played a major role in the building of Solomon's Temple,
upon the mountain of God (see I Kings 15), in cooperation with the fiery stones, i.e., David and Solomon, the great kings of Israel.
This prophecy concerning the king of Tyre (see verses 2 & 12) seems to go beyond the king of Tyre, because of the symbolic language. Ezekiel calls the king "a guardian cherub" and refers to Eden. What does this mean? Is this a veiled reference to Satan behind the king of Tyre?
The imagery keeps shifting. Some of it seems to refer to Satan, but some of it could also refer to Adam (in Eden, clothed only with precious stones around you, blameless until wickedness was found in him. There are also symbols that seem to refer to the high priest of Israel (the 9 stones mentioned are among the 12 worn by the Jewish high priest, ordained to guard God's holy mountain, Jerusalem).
Whoever is being referred to here was "driven from the mount of God (Jerusalem), expelled from among the fiery stones, and thrown to the earth." Is the language just meant symbolically of the king of Tyre or is it a reference to some fall of Satan behind the king of Tyre?
It isn’t clear enough to establish certainty regarding this issue. One might see Satan behind the king of Tyre, but all of the imagery doesn't fit. ("through your widespread trade, you sinned" verse 16). We are still left with the question, when did this fall take place? Is this a third fall of Satan? If it is a fall of Satan, then when was Satan driven from Jerusalem (verse 16)?
Many think that this passage has nothing to do with Satan. They believe the passage is a symbolic reference to Satan's fall that in some way describes some terrible humiliation and defeat (the defeat must be defined and understood from the context).
Many believe that there have been a number of Falls or defeats that Satan has suffered:
1) The moral fall before Eve's temptation
2) The mission trip of Jesus' disciples, they return proclaiming that the demons are subject to them.
3) Jesus defeated Satan and all spiritual forces of evil at the cross (Colossians 2:14-15).
4) The defeat of Satan accomplished through the death of Christ on the cross.
5) The testimony of martyred saints.
6) The testimony and work of Christians that continues the defeat of Satan (Revelation 12:11).
7) Satan's ability to accuse us before God has been (or will be) limited (Revelation 12:10).
8) Satan will finally be defeated and his destiny is in the lake of fire (Revelation 20:10; Matthew 25:41)!0).