Bible Answer

Explaining Satan’s creation and fall

Can you explain Satan's origins and his fall? Was he created before the Garden?

The history of angels (and demons) is sparsely covered in scripture, probably because they are secondary to the purposes of God in authoring scripture. Nevertheless, we do get some details in the Bible. 

First, we know that the Lord created the angels prior to the Creation, according to Job 38:4-7:

Job 38:4      “Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? 
    Tell Me, if you have understanding, 
Job 38:5      Who set its measurements? Since you know. 
    Or who stretched the line on it? 
Job 38:6      “On what were its bases sunk? 
    Or who laid its cornerstone, 
Job 38:7      When the morning stars sang together 
    And all the sons of God shouted for joy? 

The sons of God in v.7 refers to angels, just as it does earlier in the book of Job and in Genesis 6. The role of angels in Heaven prior to the Creation seems to be to praise the Lord singing before His throne. After the creation of man, angels fulfill their primary purpose, which is to minister to the saints:

Heb. 1:13      But to which of the angels has He ever said, 
Heb. 1:14 Are they not all ministering spirits, sent out to render service for the sake of those who will inherit salvation? 

Regarding the fall of Satan and the Creation, there is no exact timeline in scripture, though in Ezekiel 28 we learn the full story of how Satan fell prior to the Creation while he lived in Heaven:

Ezek. 28:12      “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. 
Ezek. 28:13      “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. 
Ezek. 28:14      “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. 
Ezek. 28:15      “You were blameless in your ways 
    From the day you were created 
    Until unrighteousness was found in you. 
Ezek. 28:16      “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. 
Ezek. 28:17      “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. 
Ezek. 28:18      “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. 
Ezek. 28:19      “All who know you among the peoples 
    Are appalled at you; 
    You have become terrified 
    And you will cease to be forever.”’” 

First, the writer says Satan was an angel created by God and perfectly made. Notice in v.12, we hear that Satan had the seal of perfection. He was full of wisdom and beauty. In v.15, he was blameless, at least for a time, and he was splendidly adorned in jewels Ezekiel says.

Secondly, notice where Satan lived and how he served God, and in v.13 he was in the garden of Eden. Naturally, we assume this refers to the garden than Adam and Woman occupied, and of course, Satan was in the earthly garden in Genesis 3.But if we look more closely at this passage, we see clues that suggest this garden isn’t the same one as that in Genesis 3. 

For example, Satan was on the holy mountain of God. The holy mountain of God is Mt. Zion, which is the name for the Heaven Jerusalem that exists in the Heavenly realm. The writer of Hebrews mentions this later in his letter in chapter 12, and in Revelation 21, we hear that this heavenly Zion will descend from Heaven to become our new dwelling place for eternity. So it would seem that there is a heavenly garden called Eden, which the earthly Eden represented.

Furthermore, notice that Satan served God as the covering cherub. The covering cherub refers to those angels whose wings covered the mercy seat on top of the ark of the covenant. The tabernacle given to Moses and Israel is a pattern of the one in Heaven, 

So now we know that the golden covering cherubs made for the earthly tabernacle are pictures of real cherubs who cover the glory of God in the Heavenly tabernacle, and the first and most glorious of those cherubs originally was none other than Satan himself.  Then notice in v.18 Ezekiel says that Satan profaned his sanctuaries. The word in Hebrew for sanctuary literally means holy places. Satan profaned the holy places.

There are two holy places in the tabernacle, the holy place and the holy of holies. Both of these places in the Heavenly tabernacle were defiled by Satan Ezekiel says. How did Satan come to defile the Heavenly tabernacle? 

First, God says Satan was filled with violence because of pride. Specifically, Satan took note of the abundance of his trade. Trade is a term in Hebrew meaning merchandise, and in this context it refers to Satan’s trade as the covering cherub. He was the angel closest to the glory of God. He was assigned to cover it, to husband it, and because he was so close to God’s glory, he was filled with violence. 

What was supposed to be an honor to Satan became a cause for him to rebel against God, and he so loved seeing his privileged position next to the glory of God that he began to think he was equal to God. This is the essence of pride: loving what God has done in creating us so much that we stop thanking Him and begin thanking ourselves.

Secondly, Satan was corrupted by his own perfection. Satan started thinking he was inherently great and beautiful – even more so than God Himself. Notice in v.17 Ezekiel says Satan’s heart was corrupted by his splendor. What action did Satan take to pollute the Heavenly tabernacle? The answer to this question is a little less clear, but first remember Satan’s position as the covering cherub. His station was in the holiest place in the tabernacle. 

We know the tabernacle on earth is based on a pattern of the tabernacle in Heaven, and we also see that other aspects of Creation are patterned after things in Heaven. The temple mount is a representation of Mt. Zion in Heaven, and the garden of Eden on earth appears to be a representation of the Garden of God in Heaven.

Therefore, to understand how Satan may have profaned the tabernacle in Heaven, we should ask does Satan ever profane the earthly tabernacle? The answer is most definitely, he does so on numerous occasions, but most notably in the Abomination of Desolation described in Daniel and by Jesus in Matthew 24. This is a moment when Satan sets a man in the Holy of Holies and declares himself to be God. Satan also accomplished something similar with Antiochus Epiphanies shortly before Christ’s birth, and he will repeat it again with the Antichrist in Tribulation.

So by comparison, Satan was a covering cherub who became so convinced by his importance and beauty that he could be God, and so in a rebellious moment of violence and pride, Satan seized the mercy seat in the Heavenly tabernacle declaring Himself to be God. In doing so, he profaned the Heavenly tabernacle. We see the result of that act of rebellion in Ezekiel 28.

In v.16 the Lord says He cast Satan down from the mountain of God (in Heaven), and In v.17 we hear that Satan was cast to the ground, The Hebrew word for ground is the word for earth, and again in v.18 the Lord declares that Satan was cast down to the earth. We know that Satan fell into sin prior to the events of Genesis 3, where he met with woman and seduced her to sin. So it seems that Satan was roaming the earthly garden of Eden because he had been cast out of the Heavenly garden of God. 

Jesus described seeing this moment in the Gospels:

Luke 10:18  And He said to them, “I was watching Satan fall from heaven like lightning.

This is largely the extent of what we know concerning the timeline of Satan’s fall.