When is Satan or the adversary to God mentioned again in the old testament? I know that the fallen angel is working harder than ever to lead the world astray (Revelation 12:9) today, but why is there little emphasis on him in the old testament?
@tabby68, Good question! It seems as though there is little emphasis in the Old Testament but that is because Satan has many names in the Bible. Satan goes by a variety of names in the Old Testament – serpent, Lucifer, the spirit behind Prince of Tyre and King of babylon, Belial, Baallzebub, Baals (fallen angels), and in the New testament as Beelzebul, father of lies, the accuser, the great dragon and even angel of light!
In Luke 10:18, Jesus says, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven”. When Jesus quoted this, He was most likely referring to Isaiah 14:12. Isaiah 14 describes King of Babylon, but as the king has never been to heaven, it can be concluded from v.12 that the king of Babylon was following the pattern of Satan/influenced by Satan. This is similar to what is described in Ezekiel 28, which talks about King Tyre, but since the king of Tyre was not in Eden (v.13), we can conclude that King of Tyre was a pattern of Satan/influenced by Satan. The links below explain this more fully.
Jesus also says in Luke 11:18 If Satan also is divided against himself, how will his kingdom stand? For you say that I cast out demons by Beelzebul. Jesus in Luke 11 refers to Beelzebul as Satan, the ruler of demons. Who was Beelzebul in the Old testament? We see a reference of it 2 King 1:3 But the angel of the Lord said to Elijah the Tishbite, “Arise, go up to meet the messengers of the king of Samaria and say to them, ‘Is it because there is no God in Israel that you are going to inquire of Baal-zebub, the god of Ekron”. You may notice that the spelling is different but both Baal-zebub or Beelzebul mean the same according to Bible commentaries I have come across. There were a variety of Baals the Philistines and Canaanites worshipped but they all are part of the army of Satan.
Belial is another term used in the old testament.
Rev 12:10 refers to an accuser of brethren thrown down from heaven who accuses before God day and night. This means Satan is the adversary of God. In Job 1, the word “the adversary” is therefore translated as Satan.
Satan is very active both in the Old and New testament deceiving mankind to turn away from God to take the place of God from Genesis to Revelation. He takes many forms. God therefore commands that the Israelites were to have no other gods but Him alone (Exodus 20:3)
Thanks for the question. It was helpful for me to read through these references.
John 8:44 - You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.
I John 5:19 - We know that we are of God, and the whole world is under the sway of the evil one.
- The devil is a liar
- The world is under the sway of his lies
Now - think about the Canaanites. They worshiped idols and sacrificed children to false gods. They were ‘under the sway’ of many lies. Or think of the times when Israel sinned - what went wrong? They began worshiping the idols of the surrounding nations - they bought in to the lies of the adversary.
So, we may not see direct spiritual attack occurring often in the OT, but we certainly see a pagan world that is heavily under the sway of the evil one. Sometimes we spiritualize the devil too much - much of his work is achieved through lies that pervade society; not by tempting individuals (at least imho).
Have you ever considered the nations as being under the sway of satan’s lies rather than individuals constantly under direct spiritual attack? What is your response to that idea?
Based on the following verses there is some agreement that what Revelation 12:9 is describing is Christ’s victory on the cross that sets us free from our slavery to sin. Jesus recognized that the judgment of the ruler of this world was at hand during his earthly ministry. Not necessarily directly relevant to satan in the OT, but may be helpful for setting context.
John 12:1 - Now is the time for judgment on this world; now the prince of this world will be driven out.
Colossians 2:15 - And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.
Hebrews 2:14-15 - Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might break the power of him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil— 15 and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death.
@Lakshmismehta , thank you for your answer and with all the links. That was a lot of good reading. I was actually reading this morning the commentary by J. Vernon McGee covering Ezekial 28 and he makes an interesting speculation that it takes two persons to fulfill all that the scripture says about the Antichrist and the prince and king of Tyre and Sidon is that combination. I’ve always heard through various preachers they believe there is always an Antichrist for every generation since Satan does not know when Christ will return.
Thanks @SeanO for your response. The first thought about nation’s being under the sway of Satan would be Germany under Hitlar. Then there would be the other genocides (Ethiopia), and even the Civil War with brother against brother (although the Emancipation Proclamation was a good thing, of course).
I guess if we were to learn in God’s Kingdom just how often Satan had played a role in the old testament, we would be too overwhelmed with all the darkness, so hopefully we will never know.
I would have hoped that Eve would have been on a mission to warn people about the devil. Maybe she did, we just don’t know.
And maybe God didn’t want to feed the devil’s narcissism by revealing to us in His word all the ploys and details of his mission. Our focus should be on the good news, and not a feeling of dread and gloom. I want to always remember that 1John 4:4 says: “You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them (spirits not of God), because the one that is in us is greater than the one who is in the world.”. (NIV)
@tabby68 Yes - there is no need to be afraid when we are God’s children! I think the irony of Adam and Eve in the Garden is that while satan did tempt them, it was they who chose to eat of the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good & Evil. Much evil is done by people apart from any additional spiritual attack. Jesus saved us from our own hearts as much as he did from captivity to the ruler of this world. The ruler of this world spreads lies but it is people who choose to act on those lies and to reject God.
Jeremiah 17:9 - The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?
I definitely agree that we should focus on the Good News. We have a Savior and He is Risen! Let the fields exult and the mountains bow and the forests rejoice and the heart of man be glad!