In my previous letter I pointed out that Christians in their worship must reckon with the presence of angels — both good and evil. In particular, Scripture reveals the activity on earth of fallen angels before and also after the flood in Noah’s day.
I referred, too, to the original rebellion of Lucifer — now known as Satan —described in Isaiah 14: 12–15. In this letter I will examine that rebellion and its consequences in greater detail. Important insights into Lucifer’s rebellion are provided in Ezekiel 28:1–19, which depicts two persons—the prince of Tyre and the king of Tyre.
The prince of Tyre apparently claimed to be a god, but in verse 9 he is depicted as a man dying at the hand of invaders:
“Will you still say, ‘I am a god,’ in the presence of those who kill you, though you are but a man, and no god, in the hands of those who slay you?”
On the other hand, the king of Tyre is clearly an angelic being who originally occupied a place of great honour in heaven. “You were in Eden, the garden of God; / Every precious stone was your covering...” (verse 13).
“You were the anointed cherub who covers [the throne of God with your wings]; / I established you; / You were on the holy mountain of God; / You walked back and forth in the midst of fiery stones” (verse 14).
“You were perfect in your ways from the day you were created, / Till iniquity was found in you” (verse 15). Lucifer was a resplendent figure, but he was a created being who rebelled against his Creator.
“By the abundance of your trading / You became filled with violence within, / And you sinned . . .” (verse 16, italics added). In Leviticus 19:16 a word from the same root as that translated trading describes “a talebearer” who goes about among his people. This suggests that Lucifer went about among the angels under him, undermining their loyalty to God and persuading them to join him in his rebellion. Perhaps he may have made suggestions, such as: “God doesn’t really appreciate you. If I were in the place of God, I would give you a much higher position.”
God — to whose eyes all things are naked and open¹—was undoubtedly aware of Lucifer’s activity, but gave him time to perfect his scheme of rebellion before taking action against him.
“Your heart was lifted up because of your beauty; / You corrupted your wisdom for the sake of your splendour . . .” (verse 17). Lucifer’s outstanding wisdom and beauty filled his heart with pride and thus became the cause of his downfall.
Clearly this also was the motive attributed to Lucifer in Isaiah 14:13–14:
“For you have said in your heart:
‘I will ascend into heaven,
I will exalt my throne above the stars of God...
I will ascend above the heights of the clouds,
I will be like [equal to] the Most High.’”
We all need to bear continually in mind that pride was the cause of Lucifer’s downfall. It is also the main motive that Satan uses in tempting human beings to sin. Pride has caused the downfall of more men and women than all the other sins put together.
The relationship between the prince of Tyre (a man) and the king of Tyre (a heavenly being) exemplifies the way in which throughout history satanic angels in the heavenly places have intervened in affairs on earth by controlling earthly rulers.
Their relationship is also a preview of the relationship that will develop between Satan and the antichrist. Satan will use the antichrist to gain for himself the worship of the whole world. “So they [the whole world] worshiped the dragon [Satan] . . . and they worshiped the beast [the antichrist]...”²
Since worship is due always and only to God, by gaining the worship of the whole world for himself Satan will be making one last claim to what he originally aspired to: equality with God.
Satan and the angels who joined him in his rebellion against God were cast out of heaven, but they have not yet been cast down to earth. In Ephesians 6:12
Paul describes them as “spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places [plural].”
In Colossians 1:16 Paul lists the four main orders of heavenly beings who were created by God through Christ: thrones, dominions, principalities [rulerships] and powers [authorities]. In Ephesians 6:12 the two highest orders that Paul mentions as having joined in Satan’s rebellion are rulerships and authorities. This indicates that neither thrones nor dominions were enticed by Satan into joining in his rebellion.
From its opening verse the Bible indicates that the earth is singular, but the heavens are plural: “God created the heavens [plural] and the earth [singular].”³ In 2 Corinthians 12:2 Paul speaks of a man “caught up to the third heaven.” Obviously there cannot be a third heaven unless there is also a first and a second.
Paul says that in the third heaven this man was “caught up into Paradise and heard inexpressible words, which it is not lawful [or possible] for a man to utter.” This indicates that the third — and highest — heaven is a place of the utmost holiness, the actual dwelling place of God Himself. If the first heaven is the one visible from earth, then there must be a “second” intermediate heaven somewhere between the visible heaven and the third heaven which is God’s dwelling place.
In Daniel 10:2–12 Daniel tells how he gave himself for three weeks to mourning and partial fasting. Then a heavenly being appeared to him and told him, “Do not fear, Daniel, for from the first day that you set your heart to understand, and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard; and I have come because of your words.”
Further on, in Daniel 10:13–21, Daniel refers to three other angelic beings: to Michael, an archangel of God; and to the prince of Persia and the prince of Greece. These latter two are angels — or perhaps archangels — of Satan.
In order to reach Daniel on earth, the angel sent from God had to meet and overcome satanic angels who opposed him. This confirms that Satan’s kingdom is located in “the heavenly places”—somewhere between the heaven that is God’s dwelling place and the heaven that is visible from earth. It also reveals several important facts about prayer and spiritual warfare:
This account of Daniel’s praying contains important lessons that can make our prayers more effective.
In my next letter I will deal with various forms of spiritual protection that God has provided for us in our conflict with Satan’s kingdom of rebellious angels.