We have started to have a Scriptural look at the spiritual realm. After a brief introduction and a look at the impact of the spiritual world on the physical world, we also looked at the real impact of the tower of Babel. Then we started our investigation into spiritual beings. We started by having a look at angels. In the spiritual realm we have both the good and evil side. Much like we have in the physical world with the righteous and the unrighteous. Now we will start looking at the other side of the spiritual beings. Why should we do this?
Paul tells us that we struggle against these spiritual powers.
11 Put on the full armor of Elohim, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore, take up the full armor of Elohim, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm.
But why do we need to know more about these evil spiritual beings? So that we are better equipped to deal with them. In order to be a good warrior you need to know both yourself and your enemy. If you know only yourself and not the enemy, you will have at best a 50:50 chance in any given battle against the spiritual forces of wickedness.
In our Western culture, we like to have a scientific explanation for everything we see, hear or experience. If we cannot achieve this, we tend to treat what happened as a rare exception or simply ignore it. It must be verifiable, or else it is not explainable, and thus not something we can understand. However, if we live in YHVH’s world, other than man’s world, we will find a use in concepts like faith and miracles. These are not verifiable, explainable and measurable concepts, but yet they exist. Anybody that has chosen YHVH’s way will be able to testify to this. In the same way, we have this strange concept of evil forces (or spirits) that have an impact in our physical world. Since science cannot explain this, we in the western culture have decided to ignore it. Yet, Scripture testifies to the existence of these spirits and the fact that they impact the physical world.
We spend a lot of time on building upon our own understanding of the world of YHVH. We study the concepts of faith, repentance, forgiveness and righteousness. This allows us to have a good understanding of ourselves. In the same way we must also spend time to understand our enemy / adversary. We must get to know their battle strategies in order to defeat them, consistently. If we know who the enemy of man is and how he operates, we will be a lot more effective in our spiritual struggle. Then we will also be able to claim as Elisha:
2 Kings 6:16–17
16 So he answered, “Do not fear, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” 17 Then Elisha prayed and said, “O YHVH, I pray, open his eyes that he may see.” And YHVH opened the servant’s eyes and he saw; and behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.
I pray that YHVH will also open our eyes that we will see the enemy, but also observe that those who are with us are more. Thus, let us stop ignoring “the schemes of the devil” and better equip ourselves for the struggle we will have.
Let us start this journey with a look at the main opponent of mankind. Please note this important point. The devil, Satan, the accuser, the adversary or whatever name you call him, is not the enemy of YHVH. YHVH has created everything in this world, including our enemy. He is not an equal to YHVH in any way. He operates according to the plan of YHVH. The adversary’s task is not to struggle with YHVH, but to oppose us. In the spiritual realm, he already knows that he has been defeated and what the eventual outcome will look like. However, the adversary will do whatever he can to delay the end as much as he can. This is what the battle is all about. It is not that evil will eventually reign the world. In Genesis we already have the outcome recorded for us.
14 YHVH Elohim said to the serpent, “Because you have done this, Cursed are you more than all cattle, And more than every beast of the field; On your belly you will go, And dust you will eat All the days of your life; 15 And I will put enmity Between you and the woman, And between your seed and her seed; He shall bruise you on the head, And you shall bruise him on the heel.”
In order to understand the nature of our enemy, we need to study the complete Bible. The description and details we find in the Tanakh differs a lot from what we see in the Apostolic Scriptures. Why exactly we see such a huge difference, is not yet completely understood. We believe that it is simply due to the historical environments that the two sets of documents were compiled in. The world view when the Tanakh was composed was a lot different than when the Apostolic Writings were penned. These world views have a direct impact on the authors of the documents, and this is then transferred into the writings. The documents are also written for an audience of a specific location, period and religious view. Thus, the writings will take on some of what the audience already knows, understands and accepts. The scriptures that we find that relate to the adversary (or Satan or Devil) is a good example of how the writers’ and audiences’ views changed over time.
The adversary and accuser in the Tanakh
Let us start with a look at what we can learn from the Tanakh. In general, the view of the Tanakh is that the adversary is a spiritual being, that operates under the control of YHVH in all that he does. He does have free will, but at the end, he is still under the control of YHVH’s plan. He has been around from the beginning.
In the Book of Job we learn a lot about the accuser. The first time we meet him in Job, is when he is in the presence of YHVH after walking around on earth.
6 Now there was a day when the sons of Elohim came to present themselves before YHVH, and the accuser also came among them. 7 YHVH said to the accuser, “From where do you come?” Then the accuser answered YHVH and said, “From roaming about on the earth and walking around on it.”
From these verses we can already deduce a couple of things.
1. The accuser has access to YHVH in the heavens. He can come into the presence of YHVH.
2. He operates in the spiritual and physical realms. It states that he was “walking around” on earth.
3. He is not omnipresent. If he is able to be at all places at once, he would not have a need to walk around or roam the earth. Just like the other heavenly beings, e.g. angels, that have to be sent.
It is the Tanakh that provides us with a description of him. Surprisingly, this description is a lot different from the picture that most of us carry around in our heads. The pictures we have of an ugly, scary being with horns and a long fork is not what the Scripture gives us. This is a Hollywood version of what he looks like. Let’s see what Scripture tells us about our adversary.
12 “Son of man, take up a lamentation over the king of Tyre and say to him, ‘Thus says YHVH Elohim, “You had the seal of perfection, Full of wisdom and perfect in beauty. 13 “You were in Eden, the garden of Elohim; 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 Elohim; 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 Elohim. And I have destroyed you, O covering cherub, From the midst of the stones of fire.
From this text we see that he is called “the seal of perfection.” In the Hebraic context of the Book of Ezekiel this term refers to the standard by which things are measured. Thus, Ezekiel is telling us that the adversary was created as the standard for perfection. He was the baseline against which perfection was measured. How different is that from the view we have been sold! In the next sentence Ezekiel also recorded that YHVH said that the adversary was “perfect in beauty.” The stones with which he was adorned are also significant. Whenever else these stones are mentioned together, they normally have something to do with the presence of YHVH. First example – the stones of the breastplate of the High Priest.
15 “You shall make a breastpiece of judgment, the work of a skillful workman; like the work of the ephod you shall make it: of gold, of blue and purple and scarlet material and fine twisted linen you shall make it. 16 “It shall be square and folded double, a span in length and a span in width. 17 “You shall mount on it four rows of stones; the first row shall be a row of ruby, topaz and emerald; 18 and the second row a turquoise, a sapphire and a diamond; 19 and the third row a jacinth, an agate and an amethyst; 20 and the fourth row a beryl and an onyx and a jasper; they shall be set in gold filigree.
Thus, 8 of the stones of the High Priest was also used to adorn the adversary. It is an interesting study to find the similarity between the adversary, as he was created, and the earthly High Priest. Some quick points:
1. Both were covered with the same stones
2. Both were adorned with gold
3. Both were allowed into the space where YHVH appeared on earth, the accuser in Eden and the High Priest in the Holy of Holies.
4. Both had the function of covering – the High Priest covered the sins of the people on Yom Kippurim
But let’s return to the stones. The second place where these stones are mentioned together is the foundation stones of the New Jerusalem in the book of Revelation.
19 The foundation stones of the city wall were adorned with every kind of precious stone. The first foundation stone was jasper; the second, sapphire; the third, chalcedony; the fourth, emerald; 20 the fifth, sardonyx; the sixth, sardius; the seventh, chrysolite; the eighth, beryl; the ninth, topaz; the tenth, chrysoprase; the eleventh, jacinth; the twelfth, amethyst.
From the description provided by Ezekiel, we also learn that the adversary was created full of wisdom. He was also the anointed cherub that covered. He was placed in this position by YHVH. Then, for some reason, his free will made him sin. He decided that he needs to be the equal of his Creator. We have this described in the prophecies of Isaiah.
12 “How you have fallen from heaven, O star of the morning, son of the dawn! You have been cut down to the earth, You who have weakened the nations! 13 “But you said in your heart, ‘I will ascend to heaven; I will raise my throne above the stars of Elohim, And I will sit on the mount of assembly In the recesses of the north. 14 ‘I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High.’ 15 “Nevertheless you will be thrust down to Sheol, To the recesses of the pit. 16 “Those who see you will gaze at you, They will ponder over you, saying, ‘Is this the man who made the earth tremble, Who shook kingdoms, 17 Who made the world like a wilderness And overthrew its cities, Who did not allow his prisoners to go home?’
Isaiah described for us the fact that the sin of pride is what caused the anointed cherub to be cast out. From all these verses in the Tanakh we cannot establish exactly when this happened. We do know that it happened after the heavenly beings were created and before mankind sinned. How long this time period is in human terms, we do not know. The sin of the adversary caused a separation between him and YHVH. He was sent from the mountain of YHVH. He is still a heavenly being with access to YHVH. He is not in hell! We see in the books of Job and Zechariah that he still has access to YHVH to accuse the brethren. In the book of Revelation we will see the prophecy of Satan being thrown from heaven.
Once the anointed cherub had sinned, he had a different role in the assembly of YHVH. Now he had become the accuser of men. Thus, the reference to his role – the satan (adversary). This is also the role that we see him playing in at least two instances recorded in the Tanakh. First as the accuser of Job and then later, after the return from exile, as the accuser of Joshua, the high priest. In both these cases the accuser has access to YHVH in the heavens and he brings forth an accusation against the human. Yet, in neither case can the accuser operate independently. He still has to operate according to the plan and rules of YHVH.
8 YHVH said to Satan, “Have you considered My servant Job? For there is no one like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, fearing Elohim and turning away from evil.” 9 Then Satan answered YHVH, “Does Job fear Elohim for nothing? 10 “Have You not made a hedge about him and his house and all that he has, on every side? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land. 11 “But put forth Your hand now and touch all that he has; he will surely curse You to Your face.” 12 Then YHVH said to Satan, “Behold, all that he has is in your power, only do not put forth your hand on him.” So Satan departed from the presence of YHVH.
1 Then he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of YHVH, and Satan standing at his right hand to accuse him. 2 YHVH said to Satan, “YHVH rebuke you, Satan! Indeed, YHVH who has chosen Jerusalem rebuke you! Is this not a brand plucked from the fire?”
In one other case the accuser is responsible for leading a person to sin.
1 Chronicles 21:1–2
1 Then Satan stood up against Israel and moved David to number Israel. 2 So David said to Joab and to the princes of the people, “Go, number Israel from Beersheba even to Dan, and bring me word that I may know their number.”
However, the verse in 2 Samuel explains this incident a bit differently.
2 Samuel 24:1
1 Now again the anger of YHVH burned against Israel, and it incited David against them to say, “Go, number Israel and Judah.”
Here, the sin was the result of YHVH’s anger against the sin of Israel. If we make the statement that the adversary is working according to the ultimate plan of YHVH, these two statements do not actually contradict one another. It could be concluded that, because of the anger of YHVH, YHVH allowed the adversary to lead David astray. Also, if we do not use the Hebrew word as a proper name, we can interpret the verse (1 Chronicles 21:1) as another nation rising up against Israel and thus causing David to check his army. The effect is still the same, David sinned and relied on his own strength rather than going to YHVH for support.
Serpent in Eden
When we think of the incident in Eden, where mankind was lured into sin, we always get the pictures from our children’s Bible in our minds. We see a snake in a tree talking to a woman. However, we need to slightly adjust that image. Firstly, it was not necessarily a snake as we know it! If it was a snake, how could he be cursed by sailing in the dust? Are snails also cursed here? Basically, we do not know exactly what was implied here.
14 YHVH Elohim said to the serpent, “Because you have done this, Cursed are you more than all cattle, And more than every beast of the field; On your belly you will go, and dust you will eat all the days of your life; 15 And I will put enmity between you and the woman, And between your seed and her seed; He shall bruise you on the head, And you shall bruise him on the heel.”
Secondly, and even more importantly, it wasn’t just a physical animal doing the talking here. All other instances of animals speaking in Scripture, has a spiritual dimension behind it. This was a spiritual being manifesting itself in an animal. Here is a short summary of the point I am trying to make as presented by Dr. Michael Heiser.
The serpent was actually a divine being, not a mere member of the animal kingdom. While the flexibility of the meaning of the term nachash forces us to consider double (and even triple) entendre, one thing is quite clear: The divine being in the garden who rebelled against Yahweh’s desire to have humans rule an Edenic world is never cast in human form. Unlike the sons of God in Genesis 6:1–4 who are cast as assuming human flesh and capable of cohabitation, the divine rebel of Eden does not appear to Eve that way.1
This view is also supported by the rest of Scripture that makes a link between the serpent in Eden and an evil spiritual being that lures people away from YHVH.
“Do not rejoice, O Philistia, all of you, Because the rod that struck you is broken; For from the serpent’s root a viper will come out, And its fruit will be a flying serpent.
2 Corinthians 11:3
3 But I am afraid that, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, your minds will be led astray from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Messiah.
In the Book of Revelation we find the specific link between the serpent and the adversary.
9 And the great dragon was thrown down, the serpent of old who is called the devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him.
The name “Lucifer”
Often we hear the name “Lucifer” being used for the adversary. Have you ever thought where this name came from? It doesn’t really make a big difference, but it is an interesting little diversion. The first time “Luficer” was used as a name was in the 1611 King James translation. The translators had decided to interpret the word as a name. Here is how they translated the verse in Isaiah.
Isaiah 14:12 (KJV)
12 How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! How art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations!
This name is based on the Latin word “lucifer” as it appeared in the Vulgate. The Vulgate was translating the Hebrew word הֵילֵל (hêlêl). The Hebrew word has the following definition:
2122 הֵילֵל (hê·lēl): n.masc.; light-bearing object in the sky, Shining One, i.e., Morning star or Day star, the planet Venus, prominent in the morning, referring to the majesty and high status of a king (Isa 14:12+), note: KJV, NKJV translates as “Lucifer,” but it is begging the question to say this must then refer to Satan. Note: possibly this is a reference to a “crescent moon” based on analogous language studies2
We see that it refers to an object in the sky/heavens. The very literal translation is “shining one.” What exactly this shining object is, is still being discussed today. Some academics link this to the morning star, also known as the planet Venus, while other studies point towards the crescent moon. We see this interpretation in translations like the New American Standard.
Isaiah 14:12 (NASB)
12 “How you have fallen from heaven, O star of the morning, son of the dawn! You have been cut down to the earth, You who have weakened the nations!
But why then did the translators of the KJV decide to use it? In the Baker Encyclopaedia we find this interesting link:
The Hebrew expression was probably never meant to be a name, but has come to be used thus because the verse in which it occurs is applied to Satan. This apparently was done first by two of the church fathers, Tertullian and Origen. However, the popularity of Lucifer as a name for Satan may be attributed to its use in John Milton’s Paradise Lost.3
These two “church fathers” Quintus Septimius Florens Tertullianus (155-240 C.E) and Origen Adamantius (184/185 – 253/254) predated the KJV by hundreds of years. They were both studied extensively by both Catholics and Reformers. The poem by John Milton called “Paradise Lost” was the one that started making this name popular. This poem was published in 1667, and describes the fall of mankind in 12 books. In his story, Milton places “Lucifer” as the main opponent of Adam and Eve. He is the one that goes to Eden and tempts Eve.
Satan in the Apostolic Writings
When we get to the writings of the Apostolic Writings, we find a more developed view of the spiritual realm. We already mentioned in the study of angels, we noted that we see a lot more mention of visits by angels in the Apostolic Writings. Why exactly this happened is a question that is studied and discussed a lot in the academic circles. A number of potential reasons are given, but the impact of each of these on the people of Israel, is not well known. Here are some of the facts that could have influenced this change
1. During the exile in Babylon, the people were introduced to other religions view of the spiritual realm. We have already noted that the naming of angels, is something that only appear in writing after the Babylonian exile. The people in Israel were also introduced to the concept of “good god” vs. “evil god” and this can be seen to a certain extend in the Second Temple period view of the spiritual realm. We now see Satan being blamed for the bad things that happen to good people. Unlike the other nations, the Israelites kept to monotheism, declaring YHVH as the only true Elohim, but Satan does start to play a bigger role.
2. From the Greek and Roman worlds, we have the influence of the two opposing forces in the world, the famous Light vs. Darkness. These two forces are seen as equal in power by the Greek and Roman world, but once again it is modified in the Second Temple period literature. Here we see Light as the predominant force with darkness doing its best to oppose it.
3. The use of papyrus made it easier and “cheaper” to produce books that were easier to transport. During this period we saw the start of the shift from scrolls and clay tablets to what we today call “books.” These were still very scarce and hard to come by, but they did make the transfer of knowledge from one nation to another a bit easier. This is one of the reasons why information, ideas and concepts, started to spread a lot wider than in the time prior to the exile.
When doing a study of the books produced in the Second Temple period, we see a lot of these concepts of good vs. evil, light vs. dark and interaction between physical and spiritual worlds. This is very clear in books like Enoch and Jubilees, but also in the writing found in the Judean Desert, including the Dead Sea Scrolls.
In order to understand the views of the authors of the Apostolic Writings, we need to be aware of what happened in the intertestamental period in Israel and the surrounding nations. This gives us a much better understanding of the world views that these authors and their audiences had. This is a very large topic, that simply cannot be addressed in one short blog post, but hopefully this introduction has given you some insights into the changes that happened. Based on this understanding, let us now look at the information contained in the Apostolic Writings.
In the Apostolic Writings we find the adversary under a number of names. He is called Satan (Acts 5:3) based on the Hebrew word for adversary. He is also referred to as the Devil (John 8:44), based on the Greek translation of the Hebrew word “satan.” He is also referred to as Belial (2 Cor 6:15), Beelzebul (Matt 10:25), the dragon (Rev 12:3), the serpent (2 Cor 11:3) and the tempter (Matt 4:3). The biggest change in doctrine between the Tanakh and the Apostolic Writings, is than we now see the adversary as the ruler of this world. He is the controller of the world and he governs all who do not submit to YHVH. For those who do follow the ways of YHVH, the adversary is a dangerous enemy who tries to drag them away from YHVH by getting them to sin.
Ruler of this world
From the Apostolic Writings, it is clear that the adversary has control and dominion over this world. He is the ruler of this world and he may pass the dominion and glory to whomever he wants to. While trying to tempt Y’Shua, the adversary made it clear that he has control over all the powers of this world and that it has been handed over to him. Therefor he offered it to Y’Shua.
5 And he led Him up and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time. 6 And the devil said to Him, “I will give You all this domain and its glory; for it has been handed over to me, and I give it to whomever I wish.
1 John 5:19
We know that we are of YHVH, and that the whole world lies in the power of the evil one.
When Y’Shua reached out to Paul, He mentioned to Paul that He would equip him to bring the people out of the dominion of Satan to the dominion of YHVH. Once the people choose to leave the dominion of darkness, they may receive forgiveness of sin.
16 ‘But get up and stand on your feet; for this purpose I have appeared to you, to appoint you a minister and a witness not only to the things which you have seen, but also to the things in which I will appear to you; 17 rescuing you from the Jewish people and from the Gentiles, to whom I am sending you, 18 to open their eyes so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the dominion of Satan to YHVH, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who have been sanctified by faith in Me.’
Later, Paul picks up on this theme and in one of his epistles to the Corinthians, he specifically refers to the god (elohim in Hebrew thinking could also have meant ruler) of this world. The ruler of this world (physical world we live in) has blinded the minds of the unbelievers. He is doing his best to keep them away from YHVH so that the prophecies of the nations returning can not be fulfilled.
2 Corinthians 4:3–4
3 And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, 4 in whose case the god of this world (lit – age) has blinded the minds of the unbelieving so that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Messiah, who is the image of YHVH.
From this verse, it is also clear that it is only the unbelieving that still needs to be freed from the ruler of the world. This relates back to the fact we discussed in the article regarding the spiritual impact of the tower of Babel. All nations, except Israel, were placed under the authority of a lessor elohim. Israel, the people of YHVH, do see the Light and as a result, they have not been blinded by the adversary.
In order to understand exactly what it is that the adversary has control over, it is important to look a bit deeper by studying the Greek source text. When the Word speaks of the dominion / control / rule of the adversary, it uses two Greek words: kosmos (κόσμος) and aion (αἰών). Let us we what these mean:
kosmos (κόσμος, 2889), “a harmonious arrangement or order,” then, “adornment, decoration,” came to denote “the world, or the universe, as that which is divinely arranged.” 4
aion (αἰών, 165), “an age, era” (to be connected with aei, “ever,” rather than with ao, “to breathe”), signifies a period of indefinite duration, or time viewed in relation to what takes place in the period. The force attaching to the word is not so much that of the actual length of a period, but that of a period marked by spiritual or moral characteristics. 5
This shows us that the adversary is in control of the system (arrangement or order) that governs the world. He is in charge of the sinful world that tries to exclude YHVH. It was exactly this system/order that Y’Shua was speaking about to His disciples. The “world” He is referring to here is also the “kosmos.”
18 “If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you. 19 “If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, because of this the world hates you.
Y’Shua mentioned to His disciples that they are not a part of this system, because He chose them out of the system. The same for us. If we choose to respond to the calling of YHVH’s voice, we too are chosen out of this world. But yet, the influence of this world is still a reality around us. Sin is around us, and if we are tempted into that world, the system or order that the adversary controls, pulls us back. This is what Paul is describing.
2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of Elohim is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.
But here, Paul is using the Greek word “aion” meaning “age” – as in a period of time. This implies that this order that the adversary has put in place, is of a limited duration. It has to come to an end. We as believers know that the end will come and that Y’Shua will reign on the earth. We learn more about this later from the book of Revelation. It remains important that we understand that the adversary does not control our lives if we choose YHVH. If we choose for YHVH, we are not a part of the adversary’s system. Then this system will hate us. Do we not all see that every day?
It is exactly the same term that Y’Shua used when He spoke about the things that will happen after His death. He calls the adversary the ruler of this system.
31 “Now judgment is upon this world; now the ruler of this world will be cast out. 32 “And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to Myself.”
After the death and resurrection of Y’Shua, this rule of the adversary was changed. He lost his control over everlasting death. This means that the threat that the adversary was using, has been removed. This means the system had to change. Y’Shua came to take those who believe in the Son of Elohim, and thus YHVH, out of this system.
8 “And He, when He comes, will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment; 9 concerning sin, because they do not believe in Me; 10 and concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father and you no longer see Me; 11 and concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world has been judged.
3 Grace to you and peace from YHVH our Father and the Master Y’Shua Messiah, 4 who gave Himself for our sins so that He might rescue us from this present evil age, according to the will of our Elohim and Father, 5 to whom be the glory forevermore. Amen.
When He had disarmed the rulers and authorities, He made a public display of them, having triumphed over them through Him.
14 Therefore, since the children share in flesh and blood, He Himself likewise also partook of the same, that through death He might render powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, 15 and might free those who through fear of death were subject to slavery all their lives.
From these verses we see that the adversary has control over this world. His control is over those that do not believe. Y’Shua, through His death, resurrection and ascension, brought the believers over from the dark to the light. With His death, Y’Shua removed the power that the adversary had over this world, by giving those that believe, an everlasting life. However, when we as believers sin, we open the door to the adversary and his angels. Our choice to serve YHVH is a choice we need to make several times each and every day. The adversary is not the adversary of YHVH. He is our adversary. He, and his system, hates us for choosing to leave the system. He will do everything he can to pull us back into his system and his control.
He has angels in his dominion
One other thing that we did not see in the Tanakh is that the adversary also has control over other heavenly beings. He has access to some of the heavenly beings that decided to rebel with him against YHVH.
“Then He will also say to those on His left, ‘Depart from Me, accursed ones, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels;
7 And there was war in heaven, Michael and his angels waging war with the dragon. The dragon and his angels waged war, 8 and they were not strong enough, and there was no longer a place found for them in heaven. 9 And the great dragon was thrown down, the serpent of old who is called the devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him.
Due to the fact that the adversary is not omnipresent, he needs assistance to ensure that his systems stay in order. He also needs these assistants to help him pull believers back into their system and thereby extend the age of his rule. We will look at these assistants in more details in a next study.
Sin is from the devil
The other change in mindset we find between the Tanakh and the Apostolic Writings is where the blame for the sin of people lie. Remember, in the Tanakh we had the one case in 1 Chron 21:1-2 where David was lead by the adversary to count the people. In the Apostolic Scriptures, we find that the adversary is often blamed for leading people to lie and also that people who sin are from the devil.
“You are of your father the devil, and you want to do the desires of your father. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth because there is no truth in him. Whenever he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies.
3 But Peter said, “Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and to keep back some of the price of the land?
1 John 3:7–8
7 Little children, make sure no one deceives you; the one who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous; 8 the one who practices sin is of the devil; for the devil has sinned from the beginning. The Son of Elohim appeared for this purpose, to destroy the works of the devil.
Even though there is still the acceptance that YHVH is the creator of all, and that everything happens according to His plan, the adversary is given the blame for a lot more than in the Tanakh. The academic speculation is that this is a view that the Israelites came across during their exile in Babylon. Most other cultures that believe in polytheism (multiple gods) have a set of “good” gods and a set of “bad” gods that are forever battling. This is not the view that exists within the Apostolic Writings. In the Apostolic Writings, we never see the adversary fighting against YHVH. His battle is with us, not YHVH. He is not an equal to YHVH, that can overcome YHVH. This is a major difference that we need to appreciate.
Also, unlike in all the other polytheisms, the end is already known to us. The book of Revelation gives us a clear answer as to what this end will be like. More about this a bit later.
So how does the adversary get us to commit sin? Using his lies, he has to somehow show us the benefit of not doing YHVH’s will. This is called temptation. Temptation is the way the adversary gets us to make the wrong choice. Choosing for the system of this world is always the wrong choice. We have been created by YHVH with a free will, just like the heavenly beings. The adversary will always try and use our free will against us. When we make choices we have to choose either for or against YHVH. The adversary is also called the tempter because it is his goal to get us to choose against the will of YHVH. He even tried this with Y’Shua.
And the tempter came and said to Him, “If You are the Son of Elohim, command that these stones become bread.”
1 Thessalonians 3:5
5 For this reason, when I could endure it no longer, I also sent to find out about your faith, for fear that the tempter might have tempted you, and our labor would be in vain.
We know that it is not YHVH, that tempts us to sin. James explains to us that the adversary cannot tempt YHVH and that YHVH also does not tempt us. It is His will that we should choose the Kingdom of Heaven rather than the dominion of the adversary.
Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by YHVH”; for YHVH cannot be tempted by evil, and He Himself does not tempt anyone.
But, this does not mean that our faith cannot be tested. Simply read the book of Job to get an understanding of how YHVH allows a person’s faith to be tested. Whenever this statement is made, the skeptics always quote the prayer of Y’Shua to counter this argument. Why does Y’Shua pray to YHVH not to lead us into temptation?
‘And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.’
Recently I read a book about English Bible translations, and the model prayer of Y’Shua was one of the proof texts they used to show the different ways of translating from Greek to English. In this book5 the author makes a very interesting comment about the translation of this specific verse. They quote W.F. Stinespring from Duke University:
“Temptation or hard testing is inevitable in this world. What we need is help from God to withstand the temptation. It seems to me that the Syriac versions may be translated ‘Let us not succumb to temptation but deliver us from the evil one.‘ – The Word of God: A guide to English versions of the Bible, W.F. Stinespring, 1982″
This translation makes a lot more sense when read in conjunction with James 1:13. It also supports the idea that the adversary is the one that tempts us. YHVH is the one that protects us from this temptation.
Forces of Light and Dark
The other second Temple period concept that we find in the Apostolic Writings, but not in the Tanakh, is dualism. Here we specifically refer to dualism as:
du•al•ism \ˈdü-ə-ˌli-zəm also ˈdyü-\ noun
1: a theory that considers reality to consist of two irreducible elements or modes
2: the quality or state of being dual or of having a dual nature
3 a: a doctrine that the universe is under the dominion of two opposing principles one of which is good and the other evil
b: a view of human beings as constituted of two irreducible elements (as matter and spirit)6
In true dualism the two forces are causal (they are the cause of all things) and are equal and in constant conflict with one another. To be classified as proper dualism, there can be nothing above these two forces. Anything that happens is caused by one of these two forces. A good example of true dualism is anti-cosmic dualism as used by Gnosticism. They believe that everything spiritual is good and everything physical is bad. The soul must escape the physical world by attaining special knowledge (gnosis) and then be free from the physical world.
The dualism between light and dark is a common theme in John’s Gospel and is based upon the creation account, specifically Genesis 1:1-5. In the first few verses of Genesis we see the separation between darkness and light. Already here we encountered the phrase “and the light was good.” In the Gospel of John, we see that Y’Shua is the light that shines in this world (kosmos.) John is the author that uses this dualism of darkness and light the most. It is not the only pair he uses. He also uses different pairs like: above/below, of this world/not of this world, spirit/flesh. However, let us focus on some of the concepts that he uses to show what Messiah came to accomplish.
3 All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being. 4 In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men. 5 The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.
17 “For YHVH did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. 18 “He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of YHVH. 19 “This is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil. 20 “For everyone who does evil hates the Light, and does not come to the Light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. 21 “But he who practices the truth comes to the Light, so that his deeds may be manifested as having been wrought in YHVH.”
Then Y´Shua again spoke to them, saying, “I am the Light of the world; he who follows Me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the Light of life.”
4 “We must work the works of Him who sent Me as long as it is day; night is coming when no one can work. 5 “While I am in the world, I am the Light of the world.”
35 So Y’Shua said to them, “For a little while longer the Light is among you. Walk while you have the Light, so that darkness will not overtake you; he who walks in the darkness does not know where he goes. 36 “While you have the Light, believe in the Light, so that you may become sons of Light.” These things Y’Shua spoke, and He went away and hid Himself from them.
We see that John depicts what the adversary does as the darkness of the world (kosmos.) Y’Shua came to be light in the darkness to get people out of the darkness and into the light. We see similar dualism in the writings of the community at Qumran. The War Scroll describes the end-time battle between the forces of light and dark. This is different from the way the apostle John sees it. In his gospel account, John does not see a battle between the two forces at the end. Y’shua simply removes the people from the might of the darkness and returns them to the kingdom of YHVH. He does not battle with the adversary. It is not about winning the battle, it is about recovering the lost ones from the dominion of darkness.
According to Paul, it was the same imagery that Y’Shua used when He spoke to Paul. Y’Shua gave Paul the mission to take the Gentiles out of the darkness and into the light. This is also what John mentions as the purpose of Y’Shua. Y’Shua’s focus was first on the decedents of Jacob, and now Paul has to extend that to also include the Gentiles. In this discussion, we see the two dualisms being placed in parallel – the darkness and light plus the dominion of Satan and the dominion of YHVH.
16 ‘But get up and stand on your feet; for this purpose I have appeared to you, to appoint you a minister and a witness not only to the things which you have seen, but also to the things in which I will appear to you; 17 rescuing you from the Jewish people and from the Gentiles, to whom I am sending you, 18 to open their eyes so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the dominion of Satan to YHVH, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who have been sanctified by faith in Me.’
This idea is also further expanded on by Paul in his writings. In his epistles Paul addresses the spiritual battle that we will have. In the well-known verse in Ephesians, Paul specifically calls our struggle a spiritual struggle against the forces of darkness. This is also based on the dualism of dark being evil and light being good.
12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.
Earlier in the epistle to the Ephesians, Paul had already mentioned that the fact that the we walk in the world (kosmos). The forces that work in this world are the evil forces of darkness that cause us to trespass and sin. In contrast, Y’Shua is the one that takes us out of this world, by His grace, and puts us into the dominion of YHVH.
1 And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, 2 in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience.
Thus, we see a different view on the world by a number of authors in the Apostolic Writings. They have blended the concepts of monotheism, where one elohim is in charge of everything, with a philosophy of their time – dualism. It has not changed who YHVH is and it has not changed who the adversary is, but it puts the relationship between the two into a thought framework that is known in the period.
In the last book of the Apostolic Scriptures, Revelation, we also see that adversary plays a role in opposing the assemblies.
8 “And to the angel of the church in Smyrna write: The first and the last, who was dead, and has come to life, says this: 9 ‘I know your tribulation and your poverty (but you are rich), and the blasphemy by those who say they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan. 10 ‘Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Behold, the devil is about to cast some of you into prison, so that you will be tested, and you will have tribulation for ten days. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life.
12 “And to the angel of the church in Pergamum write: The One who has the sharp two-edged sword says this: 13 ‘I know where you dwell, where Satan’s throne is; and you hold fast My name, and did not deny My faith even in the days of Antipas, My witness, My faithful one, who was killed among you, where Satan dwells.
‘But I say to you, the rest who are in Thyatira, who do not hold this teaching, who have not known the deep things of Satan, as they call them—I place no other burden on you.
‘Behold, I will cause those of the synagogue of Satan, who say that they are Jews and are not, but lie—I will make them come and bow down at your feet, and make them know that I have loved you.
In all four of these cases, we see that the adversary is the one that opposes the people and tries to take them away from their faith in Messiah. He tests them, throws them into prison, and sends people to lie to them. We even see that Antipas, a faithful believer was killed in the process. Thus, in this early part of the prophecy, the adversary still plays his main role. Later in the book of Revelation this will change.
Synagogue of Satan
In the Scriptures quoted above, we twice see a reference to the term “synagogue of Satan.” A large number of studies have been done on this term, each with their own conclusion based on the doctrine of the author. We have seen interpretations that support replacement theologies and anti-Semitism, to name but two. Let us share with you our view on this.
This concept is not unique to the Apostolic Writings. We also find a similar concept in the book of Numbers.
“How long shall I bear with this evil congregation who are grumbling against Me? I have heard the complaints of the sons of Israel, which they are making against Me.
‘I, YHVH, have spoken, surely this I will do to all this evil congregation who are gathered together against Me. In this wilderness they shall be destroyed, and there they will die.’ ”
We also see the same in Psalms.
For dogs have surrounded me; A band of evildoers has encompassed me; They pierced my hands and my feet.
When looking at the Greek translation of these verses in the Septuagint, we see that the word used for congregation / band is “συναγωγὴν – synagōgē.” It is the same word that John uses in Revelation. In Numbers, Psalms and Revelation, it is used in the context of an evil or wicked assembly. In other words, a group that have chosen against YHVH. In Numbers and Revelation, it refers to a group that should be following YHVH, but is not. This is why John uses the term “Jew – Ἰουδαίους.” In the time of John, these were the only people that would have been classified as the people/followers of YHVH. John did not yet have the idea of Christians vs. Jews. He only knew two groups, as the author of Numbers, those who are against YHVH and those who are for YHVH. He specifically mentions that they say they are followers of YHVH but they lie.
The term is built upon the dualism that John has already shown us in his earlier writings. He is using this term to provide a contrast to the people of YHVH. Those that say they are of the people of YHVH, but rather worship Satan and his dominion on earth. They choose to be part of the “kosmos” even though they proclaim to be part of the assembly/synagogue of YHVH.
As the seven assemblies in Revelation could be interpreted as the historical assemblies at the time of John, but also a prophecy of what will happen to the followers of Messiah in the future, it is difficult to determine exactly who this term is referring to.
In the End
In the last book of the Bible, we see a description of what the end will be like for the adversary. The end already started in the beginning. The fall of the adversary of man was prophesied in the Garden of Eden, when mankind sinned. This fall will not be a singular event, but will take a number of steps according to the prophecies recorded in the Book of Revelation. However, the first major step started before then. It started when Y’Shua died for our sins and was resurrected by YHVH. Y’Shua himself indicated that this was the start that would cast out the ruler of the “kosmos.”
30 Y’Shua answered and said, “This voice has not come for My sake, but for your sakes. 31 “Now judgment is upon this world; now the ruler of this world will be cast out. 32 “And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to Myself.”
With the death and resurrection of Messiah, the adversary lost his main weapon – everlasting death. We who believe in Messiah, were taken out of this world and into the kingdom of YHVH. But still, the adversary remains as the one that rules over those that do not belong to YHVH. The ultimate plan for YHVH is that all mankind will worship Him. So, how will this happen?
We see that at the end of times, the adversary will do his best to delay the reign of Messiah on earth. This will cause a war in the heavens between the angels of YHVH and the angels of Satan. Due to the fact that the adversary and his angels are defeated, as predicted, they will be cast out of the heavens. We do not know exactly how this will happen. Will this mean that the adversary becomes a physical being? Or does it simply mean that the adversary loses his access to the presence of YHVH? According to the Dictionary of Biblical Languages with Semantic Domains: Greek (New Testament)7, the Greek word being used here could mean both, “cast out” or “let fall.” If we look at the message that came from heaven in verse 10, it seems to rather point to the fact that the adversary can no longer play the role of accuser, due to the blood of the Lamb.
7 And there was war in heaven, Michael and his angels waging war with the dragon. The dragon and his angels waged war, 8 and they were not strong enough, and there was no longer a place found for them in heaven. 9 And the great dragon was thrown down, the serpent of old who is called the devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him. 10 Then I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, “Now the salvation, and the power, and the kingdom of our Elohim and the authority of His Messiah have come, for the accuser of our brethren has been thrown down, he who accuses them before our Elohim day and night. 11 “And they overcame him because of the blood of the Lamb and because of the word of their testimony, and they did not love their life even when faced with death. 12 “For this reason, rejoice, O heavens and you who dwell in them. Woe to the earth and the sea, because the devil has come down to you, having great wrath, knowing that he has only a short time.”
Yet, the inhabitants of earth are warned that the adversary will have great wrath, but that it would last for a “short” time. While the adversary is on earth he will work together with the anti-messiah. The Scriptures tell us that he will give his authority to the beast. We can only assume that this authority is the authority to rule over the unbelievers in the sinful world (“kosmos.“) Together with the beast and the false prophet, the woman in purple and the adversary will wage a war against the Lamb.
3 I saw one of his heads as if it had been slain, and his fatal wound was healed. And the whole earth was amazed and followed after the beast; 4 they worshiped the dragon because he gave his authority to the beast; and they worshiped the beast, saying, “Who is like the beast, and who is able to wage war with him?”
13 And I saw coming out of the mouth of the dragon and out of the mouth of the beast and out of the mouth of the false prophet, three unclean spirits like frogs; 14 for they are spirits of demons, performing signs, which go out to the kings of the whole world, to gather them together for the war of the great day of YHVH, the Almighty. 15 (“Behold, I am coming like a thief. Blessed is the one who stays awake and keeps his clothes, so that he will not walk about naked and men will not see his shame.”) 16 And they gathered them together to the place which in Hebrew is called Har-Magedon.
The result of this war is, as predicted in Genesis, that the adversary and his armies will be defeated. The adversary is taken by an angel and thrown into the abyss in order that he may not deceive the peoples of the world any longer. The angel has the key that he uses to seal the abyss so that the adversary cannot escape. This captivity will be for the 1,000 years, after which he will return to the scene again for a short time.
1 Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven, holding the key of the abyss and a great chain in his hand. 2 And he laid hold of the dragon, the serpent of old, who is the devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years; 3 and he threw him into the abyss, and shut it and sealed it over him, so that he would not deceive the nations any longer, until the thousand years were completed; after these things he must be released for a short time.
7 When the thousand years are completed, Satan will be released from his prison, 8 and will come out to deceive the nations which are in the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them together for the war; the number of them is like the sand of the seashore. 9 And they came up on the broad plain of the earth and surrounded the camp of the saints and the beloved city, and fire came down from heaven and devoured them. 10 And the devil who deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are also; and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.
We see that at the end of this 1,000 year period that there will be another war. This is what is commonly referred to as the battle of Gog and Magog. The adversary will force this war by deceiving the nations all over the world. These nations will come together against the people and city of YHVH, Jerusalem. The outcome is not a physical war that will be fought, but the nations will be destroyed by YHVH. YHVH destroys these nations with fire from heaven. After this, the adversary will be thrown into the lake of fire, forever! The “lake of fire” is defined in Rev 20:14, as the second death.
Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire.
The second death is the everlasting death from which there will be no resurrection. This is the place where the false prophet, the beast and all those whose names are not in the Book of Life will be thrown. Then the period will start when mankind is no longer deceived by the adversary and all mankind will worship the one and only Creator.
In order for us to be effective in our spiritual battles with the enemy, we need to know what we are up against. We have a lot of information recorded in the Word of YHVH to tell us about our enemy. If we understand who and what he is, we will have a much better chance when he comes against us. Most of us start off with a very skewed idea of what the adversary looks like. The picture that the entertainment industry, paints, is not what the Scriptures tell us.
The adversary was created by YHVH as a seal of perfection. He was also created with wisdom and free choice. This is what led him to sin.
There exists a big, but reconcilable difference between the descriptions we find in the Tanakh and the Apostolic Writings. As the world view and philosophies changed, so did the view of the adversary develop with time. Originally, in the Tanakh, he had a very limited role as the accuser of mankind before YHVH. In the Apostolic Writings, the role is expanded and he becomes the ruler of the system that governs the world we have to live in. We see the ideas of dualism becoming more prominent while still maintaining the truth of monotheism. In these writings the adversary takes a bigger responsibility for the evil that happens in this world and for the sin that man is tempted to do.
From the Apostolic Writing we see that the adversary has his own angels that follow his command. Their intent is to delay the unchangeable end as much as possible. This is done by keeping more of mankind in the bondage of his sinful world. Y’Shua had to come to earth as our kinsman redeemer to help us get out of the system, while still living in the physical world. Y’Shua did this by His voluntary death, His resurrection by YHVH and His ascension to the right hand of YHVH. By this He had removed the ultimate weapon that the adversary had, everlasting death.
The book of Revelation gives us a view of how the adversary will end up. In the later days the adversary will work together with the anti-messiah to try and bring the people of the world into a war with the followers of YHVH. The end result of this is that the adversary will end up with the punishment that once was his strongest weapon, everlasting death in the lake of fire.
All of this simply shows us that we have a very cunning adversary that will do anything he can to keep us from the Kingdom of Heaven. We need to be aware of this, but not live in fear. The Scriptures already show us that this once powerful adversary of mankind will eventually be defeated by the Lamb. Our best defense is to stay in the will of our Creator and Messiah. Solomon taught us what we need to do to ensure that we will be kept safe.
1 My son, if you will receive my words And treasure my commandments within you, 2 Make your ear attentive to wisdom, Incline your heart to understanding; 3 For if you cry for discernment, Lift your voice for understanding; 4 If you seek her as silver And search for her as for hidden treasures; 5 Then you will discern the fear of YHVH And discover the knowledge of Elohim. 6 For YHVH gives wisdom; From His mouth come knowledge and understanding. 7 He stores up sound wisdom for the upright; He is a shield to those who walk in integrity, 8 Guarding the paths of justice, And He preserves the way of His godly ones.
1. Heiser, M. S. (2015). The Unseen Realm: Recovering the Supernatural Worldview of the Bible (First Edition., p. 183). Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.
2. Swanson, J. (1997). Dictionary of Biblical Languages with Semantic Domains : Hebrew (Old Testament) (electronic ed.). Oak Harbor: Logos Research Systems, Inc.
3. Elwell, W. A., & Beitzel, B. J. (1988). In Baker encyclopedia of the Bible (p. 1360). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House.
Vine, W. E., Unger, M. F., & White, W., Jr. (1996). Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words (Vol. 2, p. 14). Nashville, TN: T. Nelson.
4. Vine, W. E., Unger, M. F., & White, W., Jr. (1996). Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words (Vol. 2, p. 19). Nashville, TN: T. Nelson.
5. Wegner, Paul D (1999). The Journey from Text to Translations. p. 379. Baker Academic. ISBN 0-8010-2169-3
6. Mish, F. C. (2003). Preface. Merriam-Webster’s collegiate dictionary. (Eleventh ed.). Springfield, MA: Merriam-Webster, Inc.
7. Swanson, J., 1997. Dictionary of Biblical Languages with Semantic Domains: Greek (New Testament).
Tags: adversary, darkness, dead sea scrolls, devil, dualism, Gog, Har-Magedon, Job, John, Joshua, light of the world, Magog, period, prayer, Revelation, satan, second, Sheol, temple, temptation, tempter
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