Ezekiel 28 and Satan
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- EZEKIEL 28 (NASB) 1 The word of the LORD came again to me, saying, 2 “Son of man, say to the leader of Tyre, ‘Thus says the Lord GOD, “Because your heart is lifted up And you have said, ‘I am a god, I sit in the seat of gods In the heart of the seas’; Yet you are a man and not God, Although you make your heart like the heart of God— 3 Behold, you are wiser than Daniel; There is no secret that is a match for you. 4 “By your wisdom and understanding You have acquired riches for yourself And have acquired gold and silver for your treasuries. 5 “By your great wisdom, by your trade You have increased your riches And your heart is lifted up because of your riches— 6 Therefore thus says the Lord GOD, ‘Because you have made your heart Like the heart of God, 7 Therefore, behold, I will bring strangers upon you, The most ruthless of the nations. And they will draw their swords Against the beauty of your wisdom And defile your splendor. 8 ‘They will bring you down to the pit, And you will die the death of those who are slain In the heart of the seas. 9 ‘Will you still say, “I am a god,” In the presence of your slayer, Though you are a man and not God, In the hands of those who wound you? 10 ‘You will die the death of the uncircumcised By the hand of strangers, For I have spoken!’ declares the Lord GOD!” ’ ” 11 Again the word of the LORD came to me saying, 12 “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. 13 “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. 14 “You were the anointed cherub who covers, And I placed you there. You were on the holy mountain of God; You walked in the midst of the stones of fire. 15 “You were blameless in your ways From the day you were created Until unrighteousness was found in you. 16 “By the abundance of your trade You were internally filled with violence, And you sinned; Therefore I have cast you as profane From the mountain of God. And I have destroyed you, O covering cherub, From the midst of the stones of fire. 17 “Your heart was lifted up because of your beauty; You corrupted your wisdom by reason of your splendor. I cast you to the ground; I put you before kings, That they may see you. 18 “By the multitude of your iniquities, In the unrighteousness of your trade You profaned your sanctuaries. Therefore I have brought fire from the midst of you; It has consumed you, And I have turned you to ashes on the earth In the eyes of all who see you. 19 “All who know you among the peoples Are appalled at you; You have become terrified And you will cease to be forever.” ’ ” 20 And the word of the LORD came to me saying, 21“Son of man, set your face toward Sidon, prophesy against her 22 and say, ‘Thus says the Lord GOD, “Behold, I am against you, O Sidon, And I will be glorified in your midst. Then they will know that I am the LORD when I execute judgments in her, And I will manifest My holiness in her. 23 “For I will send pestilence to her And blood to her streets, And the wounded will fall in her midst By the sword upon her on every side; Then they will know that I am the LORD. 24 “And there will be no more for the house of Israel a prickling brier or a painful thorn from any round about them who scorned them; then they will know that I am the Lord GOD.” New American Standard Bible: 1995 Update (La Habra, CA: The Lockman Foundation, 1995), Eze 28:1–24.
- Posting an excerpt from a resource in Logos I came across today which I think hits on the head the hermeneutical issue that pertains to Ezekiel 28 and Isaiah 14: "Another obvious similarity between the canonical Apocalypse and its uninspired counterparts is the use of vivid images and symbols (monsters and dragons, symbolic numbers and names, etc.) in depicting the conflict between good and evil. A failure to take full account of this feature has led to some of the most outlandish teachings on this book by some whose rule of interpretation is “literal, unless absurd.” Though this is a good rule when dealing with literature written in a literal genre, it is the exact opposite in the case of apocalyptic literature, where symbolism is the rule, and literalism the exception. A very good illustration of this is seen in the following apocryphal additions to the biblical Book of Esther, added to the book centuries after its composition, in the guise of a prelude and postscript written by Mordecai. It is typical of the apocalyptic style of the period that produced it. At the beginning of the book, an apocalypticist has created this prelude containing an alleged dream of Mordecai: Behold, noise and confusion, thunders and earthquake, tumult upon the earth! And behold, two great dragons came forward, both ready to fight, and they roared terribly. And at their roaring every nation prepared for war, to fight against the nation of the righteous. And behold, a day of darkness and gloom, tribulation and distress, affliction and great tumult upon the earth! And the whole righteous nation was troubled, they feared the evils that threatened them, and were ready to perish. Then they cried to God and from their cry, as though from a tiny spring, there came a great river, with abundant water, light came, and the sun rose, and the lowly were exalted and consumed those held in honor (A:3–10). Then follows the Book of Esther, after which Mordecai sums up as follows: I remember the dream that I had concerning these matters, and none of them has failed to be fulfilled. The tiny stream which became a river, and there was light and the sun and abundant water—the river is Esther, whom the king married and made queen. The two dragons are Haman and myself. The nations are those gathered to destroy the name of the Jews. And my nation, this is Israel, who cried out to God and were saved (F:2–6)." Steve Gregg, Revelation, Four Views: A Parallel Commentary (Nashville, TN: T. Nelson Publishers, 1997), 11. The example above is really helpful because the imagery is actually explicitely interpreted but often the symbols in prophetic oracles are not but considered to be communicative enough. Indeed, it only takes a bit of digging around to find out how common certain tropes are and how they are used in prophecy.
- "Badly erroneous" - don't quite see how you get this idea. Peter is referred to by Jesus as inspired by the father one moment and as "Satan" the next. Was Peter / Satan, I would contend not. Merely influenced by Satan. Not only will there be a final Antichrist, but we know there are many antichrists throughout church history. these operate in the same 'spirit'. The character of this text in Ezekiel is so patently speaking on too levels, I find it almost inexplicable that someone can't see that this is talking of two beings albeit two that are interlinked in some way. Please explain your logic. I have listened to others try to say that the passage is all about the earthly king of Tyre - but that leaves the text (in my view) hopelessly subject to interpreting in a most figurative fashion with little contextual support. Shalom Kevin
- Thanks, Francis. Whether or not these passages speak of Satan, God has revealed the outcome. I think what ultimately matters is the final judgment. With regard to these scriptures, I think that we understand in the way our minds work -- some find that a literal interpretation makes sense to them and some find that a figurative interpretation makes sense to them. I don't want to think that one interpretation is right and the other is erroneous. I am grateful that God gives understanding, corrects, instructs, disciplines, etc. There is no one like Him. He has always been worthy of all glory and power and honor and blessing!
- PetahChristian Kevin A Lewis I would like to offer a closing summary. The discussion started by breaking off individual points. There was need for that but it was liable of causing the forest to be missed for the trees, getting lost in subpoints and losing track of the main issue. NB: I use caps below for emphasis only not as a textual raising of voice. First, let's start with what is at stake? It's not about being right, nor is it ultimately about understanding the history of Satan. In that sense, you are right PetahChristian when you say that the end matters more and we know that Satan will perish. What is more important in my view is that there are traditional views that are being taught as if they are the truth and that propagate error in the Church of Jesus our Lord. In doing so, they also teach people that it is okay to read into the Bible what is not there. This applies to many more passages than Ezekiel 28. It hurts the Church. It keeps people from learning how to be proper Bereans. It affects their doctrines more deeply than they realise when this hermeneutic is applied at the level of the whole of Scriptures. Many cults defend their doctrines with this sort of hermeneutics. It is really more noxious than many Christians seem to realise (or care). Now, with regard to Ezekiel 28:12-19 here is the bottom-line: 1) The passage is taught as describing the historical origin of Satan. What ACTUALLY happened: he was the foremost Cherub, got proud, wanted to be God, got kicked out. The problem is NOT with a claim that what is described in this passage (and many, many others) represent attitudes that are also true of antichrists figures or Satan (when he tried for instance to obtain worship from the Lord Jesus, thus setting himself up as god). I insist that the problem is to claim that this is an ACTUAL description of very specifically what HAPPENED to Satan. 2) The claim that Ezekiel 28:12-19 literally describes Satan's fall depends on ONE major argument. It reads these verses as literally describing someone who (a) who was in the literal Eden and Mountain of God (b) is described as an actual cherub, (c) who was originally glorious and blameless, and (d) was corrupted by pride and cast out. On the basis of this literal reading, the argument is this: it cannot possibly describe a human being and it cannot literally describe the King of Tyre. Although the passage never mentions Satan here or the whole of Ezekiel, Satan is described in the NT as chief of fallen angels and as cast out. THEREFORE it MUST be Satan that is intended. 3) It is essential to note that the argument above is the ONLY ONE that makes this position appear justifiable. There are other passages in which earthly rulers have attitudes that challenge God (e.g., Pharaoh of the Exodus, Nebuccadnezzar, etc.) which are not interpreted as describing Satan. So analogy of themes is NOT an argument in defense of this reading of Ezekiel 28. The interpretation stands or falls based on whether 2) above is correct. 4) However, without failing detailed discussion of the passage ALWAYS leads to the admission that Ezekiel 28:12-19 CANNOT NOT BE speaking about the King of Tyre at all. Agains summarising, (a) it is introduced as a lament on the king of Tyre (v.12), (b) is part of a larger oracle against Tyre, (c) includes elements that clearly describe what is known of Tyre (it's trade, its sanctuaries, its destruction) and which CANNOT be possibly describing Satan. Very important to note here the importance of being consistent in reading the passage: if one holds that certain details cannot possibly apply to a human being and that this is key, one cannot dismiss the fact that other details cannot possibly apply to Satan and must apply to the King of Tyre. 5) However, at this point argument 2) which is the UNIQUE specific argument that seems to give the Satan interpretation credibility is thereby shown to be an untenable premise. For it starts with saying that verses 12-19 must refer to Satan and CANNOT refer to the King of Tyre but ends by saying that as a matter in fact it refers to BOTH. If it refers to both, then the claim that it cannot possibly apply to a human being is false. Any further arguments such as "BUT can't we see a double sense?" or "BUT isn't true that deluded earthly leaders share with Satan certain traits" deviate from the main question into a defensive stance of the Satan interpretation. 6) The fact that (a) the Catholic Church translated morning star in Isaiah 14:12-15 as Lucifer and later on used the name to refer to Satan and that (b) this tradition was followed by the KJV translators who also use the word hell in that passage when it refers to Sheol (which is not hell!) have misled English-only readers of the KJV to think this is a cross-reference that confirms their reading of Ezekiel 28:12-19 as referring to Satan. This is absolutely AWFUL and my heart genuinely hurts when I see how many people are taken by this sort of mishandling of the Scriptures. Some even war against other Christians in very bitter ways to defend these traditions, hurting the brothers and sisters of Christ to maintain the teachings of men! I am so grieved by this!!! Being a Berean means we must strive to divide the Word accurately. This means that we must be willing to recognise it if a belief we hold was actually wrong and change so that we do not remain in error personally nor influence others to do the same even if not intentionally. I pray that this conversation would prove a blessing to you and am glad that we can discuss such questions. Blessings to you both. Francis
- I can't find my last post here now! I believe the problem you have is that you have settled on your answer before the argumentation has led you to it. Bear in mind I personally am not saying that the "King of Tyre" has to be Satan. What I am saying is that the description heavily implies that the character depicted in 12-19 is (although associated with the "Prince of Type" character is not only not the same being but is not human. The "anointed guardian cherub" and "precious stone was your covering, 29sardius, topaz, and diamond, beryl .. " and "day you were created" etc. are strongly indicative of an Elohim interpretation. I agree that the Satan identification is an unnecessary assumption - but is a consistent one none the less. I sympathise with your desire the keep your exegesis to what is supportable from a plain reading of the text. But this is not "badly erroneous" - I see more grounds for your position to be so described. You run the risk of throwing out the "baby with the bathwater" - the baby being the Satan identification and the bathwater being that the passage is so clearly referring to two entities - the human and the supernatural. Anyhow every blessing and may you and we all seek His best. Shalom Kevin