Abashed the Devil stood,
And felt how awful goodness is, and saw
Virtue in her shape how lovely—saw, and pined
We think that we know it. We mourn the transient nature of the world and the ravaging effects of time. We weep at the random devastation fashioned by nature, and cry out at the intentional destruction wrought by the hand of man. But as deeply as we feel, there is one creature in all creation whose grief is truly perfect in its agonies.
That creature is the Devil. You may have heard of him. But you don’t know everything.
Scripture says relatively little about the ancient adversary—this possibly reflects his disgrace—and the verses that do possibly speak of Satan have interpretations that are hotly contested within the Christian Church. But when the Bible is read as a whole, each of these verses is revealed to be a small part of a larger revelation concerning the story of Lucifer.
It is time to place together the pieces of this dark puzzle.
Farewel happy Fields
Where Joy for ever dwells: Hail horrours, hail
Infernal world, and thou profoundest Hell
Receive thy new Possessor
Of all creatures in creation, Lucifer was once, quite possibly, the closest to God in heaven. The word “Lucifer,” comes from a Hebrew term that translates to “shining one”—he reflected the glory of God, just as the moon reflects the light of the sun. Ezekiel 28:13-15 is addressed to the “King of Tyre,” but it is soon apparent that these verses are addressing the power behind the king, and reveal Satan’s former glory.
“‘You were the seal of perfection, full of wisdom and perfect in beauty. You were in Eden, the garden of God; every precious stone adorned you: carnelian, chrysolite and emerald, topaz, onyx and jasper, lapis lazuli, turquoise and beryl. Your settings and mountings were made of gold; on the day you were created they were prepared. You were anointed as a guardian cherub, for so I ordained you. You were on the holy mount of God; you walked among the fiery stones. You were blameless in your ways from the day you were created till wickedness was found in you.”
Lucifer was perfect. Resplendent. Beautiful. And most important for the human understanding of him, he was—and is—an angel, with all of the accompanying attributes.
Angels are created beings that continuously praise, serve, and communicate with God, acting as His messengers and meting out His judgments. They are of an entirely different order than human beings, and do not possess physical bodies. Rather, they are purely spiritual beings who reside with God in heaven.
But if God is perfect love, why would a being that has seen God’s glory in person turn against Him?
Scripture gives us hints. Isaiah 14:12-15 is addressed to the King of Babylon, but draws on the imagery of something far older—the fall of Lucifer.
How you have fallen from heaven, morning star, son of the dawn! You have been cast down to the earth, you who once laid low the nations! You said in your heart, “I will ascend to the heavens; I will raise my throne above the stars of God; I will sit enthroned on the mount of assembly, on the utmost heights of Mount Zaphon. I will ascend above the tops of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High.” But you are brought down to the realm of the dead, to the depths of the pit.
Later, this imagery is mirrored in Revelation 12:9, which reads, “The great dragon was hurled down—that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray. He was hurled to the earth, and his angels with him.” This is further reinforced by Jesus Christ in Luke 10:18, when He says to His disciples that "I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven.”
So it is from these fragments that we piece the story of Lucifer. It was pride that struck him down. This most beautiful of all God’s creations tried to take the throne in heaven, tried to rule creation in God’s stead. We can speculate on what happened—jealousy over man’s place in creation, a theological dispute, or simple hubris—but nothing in the Bible speaks of the exact circumstances which led to Lucifer’s rebellion and subsequent fall.
We do, however, know that Lucifer led other angels in rebellion. Jesus, in Matthew 25:41 gives us a clue: “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.’” He took a number of angels with him when he fell—about a third, according to Revelation 12:4.