By Charles H. Welch
The Hebrew word translated ‘Satan’ means an adversary. Where we read in Zechariah 3:1 ‘Satan standing at his right hand to resist him’, we have the Hebrew word in two forms, Satan the noun, and Satan the verb ‘to resist’. Seeing that ‘the right hand’ was the place of the accuser, we can see that in Zechariah 3 Satan was acting in the full capacity of the title. The Hebrew word is found in two forms. The verb is translated ‘be an adversary’ five times, and ‘resist’ once, and as a noun it is translated ‘adversary’ seven times, and Satan nineteen. Once, in combination with the affix le, it is rendered ‘to withstand’ (Num. 22:32). According to the principles of Hebrew Grammar, the prefix of the article ‘the’ (Heb. the letter H) turns the word into a proper noun.
The title is transferred to the New Testament and occurs thirty-seven times. As the reference in Luke 4:8 is omitted by the Revised Text, the number 36 is suggestive, being 6 x 6, and so associated with all that is evil. In Revelation 12:9 Satan is identified with the Dragon of the Apocalypse, the Serpent of antiquity, and with the New Testament title ‘The Devil’. The reference in Romans 16:20 ‘The God of peace shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly’ establishes a further link, revealing that the ‘serpent’ of Genesis 3 is the Satan of Scripture.
The Scriptures do not discuss the problem of evil, they face its fact and its presence, and point to the one and only means of deliverance from its dread bondage. In like manner, Scripture does not discuss ‘Why’ or ‘How’ Satan came into the creation of God, but frankly recognizes his presence, acknowledges his great power, and sets before us the mighty conflict of the ages in which God gives His best and does His utmost to assure the victory with which the record of this purpose closes. Where Scripture is silent, we bow before the wisdom and the love that does not see fit to draw the veil aside, and so instead of heading for disaster by attempting to frame a philosophy that shall account for the presence of such a being in the creation of God, we follow the lowlier path, but the safer way, of being led and directed by what has been written for our learning.
When we examine Genesis 3, we find it speaks of the serpent at the beginning, of his seed in the middle and of the cherubim at the end. Accepting this as a guide we turn to the prophecy of Ezekiel who throws light upon the one who in the beginning was ‘The Anointed Cherub’, but who fell, for by the symbolism there employed we shall get some idea of what took place ‘before the overthrow of the world’, and we shall understand why the serpent was so ready with the bait ‘Ye shall be as gods’, and learn that at length this mighty spirit shall be ‘no more’.
In Ezekiel 28 two personages are addressed, the prince of Tyre, and the king of Tyre. It is the king of Tyre that, we believe, sets forth the position and fall of Satan.
Ezekiel 28 is devoted to the sin and the judgment of the prince of
Tyre, the type (verses 1-10), and the sin and judgment of the king of Tyre,
the antitype (verses 11-19). We learn from Josephus that the prince of Tyre
was Ithobalus 11, which in Hebrew becomes Ethbaal. Ethbaal means Baal’s Man!The name of this prince is suggestive of his character, while it is equally
suggestive to remember that an earlier Ethbaal was the father of ‘that woman
Jezebel’ (1 Kings 16:31).
‘Ye Shall be as God’
The serpent’s words to Eve in Genesis 3 find an echo in Ezekiel 28. The mystery of iniquity presses on to its goal, which is expressed in the same words, ‘as God’ (2 Thess. 2:4; Rev. 13). Ezekiel is commissioned to say unto the prince of Tyre:
This prince had prided himself in his wisdom:
By this wisdom the prince had gotten riches, and by his traffic he had increased them. This led to pride, and pride of a blasphemous character. His end is to be slain:
Not only should death be the end of his blasphemous claim, but his very glory should be brought to ignominy:
The False and the True
The word ‘brightness’ as a feminine noun, occurs again only in verse 17. It is one of a series of parallels which show that the prince of Tyre, a man who aspired to divine honours, is in his turn a type of the king of Tyre, who was more than man, who also aspired to divine honours. The verbal form of the word translated ‘brightness’ is used of the glory of God’s presence in several passages, a striking one being Psalm 50:2 :
also of the king of Tyre it is written:
Zion or Jerusalem is the geographical centre for the outworking of the
mystery of godliness, while Babylon, Tyre, Pergamos and other cities have
been, and will again be, the place of Satan’s seat and the outworking of the
mystery of iniquity.
The Finished Pattern
The opening description of this mighty being is truly wonderful:
‘Thou art the finished pattern’ is the rendering of The Companion Bible. The Hebrew word translated ‘sum’ is the feminine form of the word meaning ‘measure’ or ‘standard’. In Ezekiel 43:10 we have the same word as is used in 28:12; there it is translated ‘pattern’. The masculine form comes in Ezekiel 45:11, ‘the bath shall be of one measure’. The context suggests a standard. ‘A just ephah, and a just bath. The ephah and the bath shall be of one measure’. In Ezekiel 25 and 29 the word is rendered ‘equal’; other passages give ‘to mete’ (Isa. 40:12), ‘to weigh’ (Job 28:25).
There can be no doubt but that we are here facing a revelation of
tremendous import. This mighty being, now cast out as profane, and doomed to
become ‘ashes on the earth’, was once the ‘standard’. We anticipate the
teaching of Scripture by pointing out that all the glories which were for a
time vested in this anointed cherub are to be found in their perfectness and
indefectibility in Christ. Christ is set before the church as ‘the perfect
man’, and the measure is ‘the measure of the stature of the fulness of
Christ’. The LXX in this place translates ‘sum’ by homoiosis, which means
‘similitude’ (cf. James 3:9). This is the word which the LXX uses in Genesis
1:26, ‘Let us make man ... after our likeness’. When we read that Christ was
‘the image of the invisible God’, or ‘the brightness of His glory, and the
express image of His person’, we realize that Ezekiel 28:12 contains
something of an echo of these statements.
The Sin of Satan
The first occurrence of this expression is that of Genesis 6:9, ‘Noah was a just man and perfect in his generations’. The last time the Hebrew word is translated ‘perfect’ is Ezekiel 28:15, the passage before us. Tamimoccurs thirteen times in Ezekiel, and is translated ‘without blemish’ in that prophecy, eleven times. Satan as created was ‘without blemish’. Of creation, Scripture says that God did not create it tohu and bohu, ‘without form and void’, but that it became so (Gen. 1:1,2; Isa. 45:18). Of man Scripture says:
So of the anointed cherub; at his creation he was perfect, the iniquity found in him being the result of his own pride, he ‘became so’. Speaking of the Lord the Psalmist says, ‘there is no unrighteousness in Him’ (Psa. 92:15). The word translated ‘unrighteousness’ is the same word that is translated ‘iniquity’ in Ezekiel 28:15. It is set over against the word ‘upright’:
This shows the condition into which Satan fell. From his original uprightness be became unrighteous.
There are many words for sin in the Hebrew and the Greek, and several definitions are given. There is one element common to many -- a negation. Righteousness is positive, sin is its negation:
Romans 3:23 shows that to sin means to ‘come short’ and the Hebrew word chatta means ‘to miss’. The negation of perfectness could not have been discovered in Satan until he had turned aside from the path of obedience and aspired to forbidden things. This iniquity is seen from various angles in Ezekiel 28. It is closely connected with merchandise (16), and traffic (18). It rendered the anointed cherub profane (16), and by it he had defiled his sanctuaries (18). Its origin is given in verse 17:
There is evident allusion to this passage in the words:
The question arises, in what way can Satan be said to have dealt in merchandise or traffic?
Rekullah (fem.) the Hebrew word, occurs four times in Ezekiel, but nowhere else in Scripture, viz., Ezekiel 26:12; 28:5,16,18, where it is twice rendered ‘traffic’ and twice ‘merchandise’. Rakal ‘merchants’ is of more frequent occurrence, being used eighteen times, and always translated merchants. Rakil (masc.) occurs six times, and is translated ‘talebearer’ thrice, ‘slanders’ twice, and ‘carry tales’ once. This throws light upon the ‘traffic’ which filled the anointed cherub with violence and defiled his sanctuaries; he became a slanderer. In other words, at this point he ceased to be the anointed cherub and became Satan. He was not so created or appointed. The word diabolos, ‘devil’, is the New Testament equivalent and means ‘slanderer’ (see 1 Tim. 3:11, also verses 6 and 7):
This evil is indicated in 1 Timothy 5:13-15, where the wandering from house to house, being idle, and tattlers, is associated with turning aside after Satan. This traffic in slander is associated in five out of the six references with the idea of ‘walking’ or ‘going about’:
It will be seen that the reference given above in 1 Timothy 5:13-15 associated ‘wandering from house to house’ with the same sin. It is making a traffic of talebearing. The LXX translates Rekullah by emporia, and the numerical value of that word is 666! Satan’s iniquity therefore was twofold. He was lifted up because of his beauty, and he slandered God. The same two-fold iniquity is displayed in the temptation of Eden, ‘Ye shall be as God’. ‘Yea, hath God said?’
The anointed cherub ‘walked up and down in the midst of the stones of
fire’. The four horsemen of Zechariah 1:10,11; 6:7, who report to the angel
of the Lord, also ‘walk to and fro through the earth’. When the Lord said to
Satan, ‘Whence comest thou?’ (Job 1:7), Satan replied, ‘From going to and fro
in the earth, and from walking up and down in it’. The same question and
answer are found in 2:2. In both cases they are followed by ‘tale-bearing’ or ‘slandering’. No longer able to walk up and down in the midst of the
stones of fire, Satan with restless activity patrols this earth ‘seeking whom
he may devour’.
Let us record the steps in the punishment of this fallen cherub:
The first movement deprives the anointed cherub of his glory and office. The second casts him to the earth as a spectacle to kings. The third sees him reduced to ashes by the fire brought from the midst of himself. The fourth speaks of the effect of his destruction upon others.
The record of punishment is future:
The same word that is translated ‘lay’ is the word translated ‘set’ in verse 14, ‘I have set thee so’, and the poetic justice of the change will be seen:
The fire that belonged to his exalted station, the continual accompaniment of Divine glory, that fire, when once the Divine protection is withdrawn, becomes the very instrument of his destruction, for we are not left in uncertainty regarding its effect -- ‘it shall devour thee’, ‘eat thee’ as the word may be rendered. ‘I will bring thee to ashes on the earth’. With this we may read Malachi 4:3:
Also we may see a reverse movement in the case of Israel. The anointed
cherub is brought from beauty to ashes, but in the day of Israel’s
restoration they shall be given beauty for ashes.
Perfection ... Perdition
The word terror is most solemn in its meaning. Ballahah -- ‘a worn out or wasted thing’. Job uses balah when he says:
The LXX of Ezekiel 28:19 renders the passage apoleia egenou, ‘a destruction hast thou become’. The word is the alternative to ‘perfection’ in Hebrews. ‘Let us go on unto perfection ... not draw back unto perdition’ (Heb. 6:1; 10:39). Matthew 26:8 renders the word ‘waste’, which is parallel with the Hebrew.
What an end to him who was the ‘perfection of beauty’! What an object lesson to the universe!
The LXX rendering of this is kai ouch huparxeis eti eis ton aiona ‘and thou shalt not exist any more for the age’, which is equivalent to the Hebrew ed olam. A parallel is found in Ezekiel 26:21:
How are we to understand this usage of olam and aion? Does it imply that when the age is finished, Satan will exist again? Yes, say some. A parallel usage is found in John 4:14; 8:51; 10:28; and 13:8. Translated literally the passages read:
Would it be setting forth the truth to say that immunity from thirst would cease when the age ceased? That the Lord’s sheep should perish at the end of the age? That Peter’s meaning was that the Lord should defer washing his feet until the age had finished? We know very well that such is not the case, and to translate ou me eis ton aiona with an age meaning is to miss the mark. Our English negative ‘never’ is manifestly ‘n’ever’ or ‘not ever’, without the least thought of ages or eternity in it. If this fallen cherub is to live again after being brought to ashes and devoted to destruction, positive testimony must be brought from Scripture to prove it, such a doctrine cannot be deduced from the use of olam or aion.