So, if the appearance of a serpent in the Garden of Eden is not the presence of Satan, where does the “Evil one,” first show up, and how does this appearance change or not change our view of Satan?
Satan, whose designation means “Stumble,” implying a block of stone tossed into someone’s path heavy enough to cause them to trip, is first introduced in the Biblical book of Job. Job is not part of the Torah, the first five books of the Bible attributed to Moses, and universally accepted among Jews and Christians as comprising the “Law.” So, right off, the figure of Satan is not a part of God’s law. So, how is Satan part of human sin? Once we have accepted this, taken a deep breath and read on in Scripture, the next thing that we find is the story in Job of God and Satan chatting together like a rancher and his foreman over beers as they survey the herd. In this scene, God is bragging that his by Job is is being a perfect human, never separates himself from God’s will, no matter what happens.
In this conversation, the character of Satan counters by saying that Job is so agreeable only because God coddles him. Stress Job enough, and he will break away and curse his maker, just like all of the other faithless humans. God answers with the equivalent of “You making a bet? Well, you’re on! Stress the guy all you want. The only limit I set is just don’t kill him. Everything else is up for grabs. We’ll just see if you’re right.”
So, with God’s blessing, everything is ripped away from Job. He is not dead, but all of his children are killed. His home is destroyed, his wealth is taken, his health is broken, and he is made miserable in every way possible. Including his embittered wife, Job’s 4+ friends hang around as Job sits on a dung heap haranguing him about his being a sinner and bringing this all on himself, and why doesn’t he just curse God and die?
Here we have to pause a moment, and ask ourselves how is this a portrait of a haughty prince of Angels who rebels against God himself, and spends eternity trying with evil intent to undermine the order of God’s good creation? Then we have to admit that this popular picture is not there, so where else do we go to find it?
When we comb over all of the books of the Bible, we find widely separated chunks that have been cobbled together to provide a foundation for this image, and then elaborated rather freely by those who have wanted to promote this picture. The largest of these chunks are found in the Book of Daniel, and in the Book of Revelation.
Others have been shamelessly clipped out of context elsewhere. Such as the oft cited “Star of Morning, how far you have fallen,” passage, which if actually read off the page including the paragraph before and the one following, can be seen as addressed not to Satan, but to Nebuchadnezzar, a very human Babylonian king with nothing Angelica bout him at all!
Two posts back we noticed that there was something disingenuous about certain popularly circulated interpretations of “Sin.” In our last blog post I noted that our human “Twist toward ‘Spiritual warfare’ is not a spiritual gift, it is merely self initiated brain development of a particular inclination.” And here we are witnessing total misapplication of quotation to bolster an impression of what the Bible is saying that is absolutely bogus! Can these three troubling observations be related? I will leave you to open up you Bibles to read them with exquisite care, and let you answer this inquiry for yourself.