There’s a lot of misunderstanding about Satan, aka Lucifer.  There’s misunderstanding about his person, his name, and his works. In 1968, the Rolling Stones debuted a song titled, “Sympathy for the Devil.”  While there should be no sympathy for the greatest sinner in all creation, and while I don’t endorse this song in any way, the Stones did capture the essence of Satan’s tactics.  Satan’s “game” is to cast doubt and confusion on his person, his name, and his works so he can deceive and destroy.  Let’s take a look at the first few lines of the song:
Please allow me to introduce myself, I’m a man of wealth and taste. 
I’ve been around for a long, long year, Stole many a man’s soul to waste…

Pleased to meet you, Hope you guess my name.
But what’s puzzling you, Is the nature of my game.

The Person

Before we look at the name of the evil one, let’s look at his person. Who was he and who is he now?

We know that at one time, the evil one was in Heaven and he was one of God’s holy angels. He was created by God as an angelic being, but not simply as an angel. He was in one of the highest positions of angelic beings.  He was a cherub.

In descending order of position and service, the hierarchy of the angelic beings includes archangels, cherubim, seraphim, and angels.  Ezekiel 28:14 tell us that, prior to his rebellion, the evil one was the “anointed cherub that covereth [the throne of God].”   As the anointed cherub, he was honored with a very special service to God — a service of covering the throne, which indicates a closeness to God. His service was high above that of other angels. Yet his honored position and magnified service did not satisfy him. He desired more.  He desired to be like God.  [Read  The “I Will ” Statements of Satan]  

The Name

We don’t need to “guess his name.” The evil one is commonly called Satan, but he is also sometimes called Lucifer.  Is that his real name? Where does it come from?

The word “lucifer” is found in only one verse in the Bible (Isaiah 14:12) and in only some English Bibles. Those using “lucifer” in Isaiah 14 are the King James, the New King James, and earlier translations including Bishops (1568),  Geneva (1587), Webster’s (1833), Brenton’s English Septuagint (1844), Darby (1889) and Douay-Rheims (1899). In all of these Bibles, “lucifer” is used and is capitalized. This led to its use as a proper name for “the anointed cherub that covereth.”

Isaiah 14:12  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!

The word “lucifer” comes from Jerome’s Vulgate, which is the late fourth century AD Latin translation of the Hebrew Scriptures.  In Latin, the word “lucifer” means the “bringer of light,”  and in English, the word “luciferous” is used as an adjective to describe something that emits light.

In the Latin Vulgate, Isaiah 14:12 reads:

Isaiah 14:12  quomodo cecidisti de caelo lucifer qui mane oriebaris corruisti in terram qui vulnerabas gentes

The word “lucifer” in the Vulgate is not a proper name.  It is simply a translation from the Hebrew word “heylel” (or “halal” or “helel”), found in the Hebrew Masoretic text.

Below is the translation of the Hebrew words in Isaiah 14:12 (remember that the Hebrew language is written from right to left):

The Hebrew Word “Helel”

“Helel“ (halal) is defined by Strong’s Dictionary as:

H1966. heylel, hay-lale’ (in the sense of brightness); the morning-star:—lucifer.

The word derives from another Hebrew word, “halal,” defined as:

H1984. halal, haw-lal’;  to be clear (orig. of sound, but usually of color); to shine; hence to make a show, to boast; and thus to be (clamorously) foolish…

Jewish sources record that the word literally means “shining one.”   The word can also mean “bearer of light,” which gives understanding to Paul’s proclamation that Satan is able to transform into an “angel of light” (2 Cor 11:14).

The Jewish Publication Society translated “helel” into English in this way:

Isaiah 14:12  How art thou fallen from heaven, O day-star [helel], son of the morning [ben-sahar]! How art thou cut down to the ground, that didst cast lots over the nations!

While the Latin Vulgate translated the Hebrew word “helel” as the Latin word “lucifer,” and then early English translations capitalized the “L,” it is not a proper name for the cherub.  The Jewish Publication Society translates “helel” as “day star.”  That is also not a proper name.

While lucifer and day-star are not proper names for the anointed cherub who fell from Heaven, both, when coupled with “ben-sahar” (“son of the morning”), provide a good description of this cherub BEFORE he rebelled against God and was cast out of Heaven. Both translations give a good description of the honor and light that the cherub once had and lost, and that should be a reminder of the devasting consequences of sin against God.

The Fallen Cherub

Since the time this cherub fell from heaven, he no longer deserves such an honorable description/name.  He no longer is the bearer of light and he no longer shines as a  day-star or as the son of the morning.  Even though this fallen cherub is able to transform himself into an angel of light (2 Cor 11:14), in reality, he is the bearer of darkness and the son of the night.  He opposes God and he desires to devour those who love God (1 Pet 5:8).

With Identity Change Came Name Change

The Hebrew word for that which opposes, or that which goes against, is “satan.” Strong’s dictionary defines the word as:

H7854. satan, saw-tawn’; from H7853; an opponent: espec. (with the art. pref.) Satan, the arch-enemy of good:–adversary, Satan, withstand.

In the Hebrew Scriptures, the fallen cherub is called “ha satan” –the adversary and the arch-enemy of God and all that is of God (creation).  Satan is now the name of the fallen cherub. The name describes him well as the evil one who opposes God and the one who seeks to accuse, devour, and destroy.

The first use of “Satan” (as a name for the evil one) is found in the book of 1st Chronicles, where his opposition to God’s will and His people is recorded, as well as his attempt to cause trouble.

1 Chronicles 21:1  And Satan stood up against Israel, and provoked David to number Israel.

The Adversary of God and Man

Since the time when he fell from Heaven (Isaiah 14:12), it has been his mission to thwart God’s purpose and plan. His desire has been to subvert God’s will,  to interfere with God’s works, and to tempt and seduce God’s people.  Such is Satan’s purpose and plan, his “game.”  He is an adversary, a liar, an oppressor, and a thief. He is a threat to anyone who belongs to the true God of all creation, and we know both his name and his game.

“Satan” is the appropriate and accurate name for this fallen angel.  It serves as a reminder that he opposes both God and us.  The name “Satan” should create in us a motivation to stand strong against him.  We know that he rebelled against God and lost all that he had—his communion with God and his special and significant role in serving God.  So also did Adam lose his relationship with God when he sinned.  Adam lost all that God had given him and he plunged the world and all mankind into a fallen state— a state of rebellion against God.

“But God….”

Those are two of the most hopeful words.

  • Man sinned…but God, in His mercy, promised to send a rescuer (Gen 3:15).
  • Man was without hope…but God, in His grace, sent His Son (1 John 4:10).
  • Sin still abounds…but God, in His justice, will one day vanquish all sin and the adversary, Satan.

Jesus died for the sins of mankind, but not for the sins of angels (Satan took a third of Heaven’s angels with him when he rebelled. Revelation 12:3-9).  Only man was created in God’s image, and only man can be redeemed by the Saviour’s substitutionary atonement.

No Sympathy for the Devil

Please allow me to introduce myself, I’m a man of wealth and taste. 
I’ve been around for a long, long year, Stole many a man’s soul to waste…
Pleased to meet you, Hope you guess my name.”

We don’t need to guess his name. He is Satan, our adversary.  And he gets no sympathy from us because we know his name and his game of evil intent. When we think of Satan, we should be quick to remember the power that God has given us:

1 John 4:4  You are of God, little children, and have overcome them [all those who oppose God]: because greater is he that is in you [the Holy Spirit], than he that is in the world [Satan and his minions].

The apostle John’s words remind us that while Satan might think he has the power to deceive and destroy us,  God has given us the greater power and, therefore, we can withstand his attacks. Yes, Satan is the “god of this world” (2 Cor 4:4), but he is a “god” with a small “g.”  Satan’s control only reaches to the extent that God allows and to the extent that we neglect to call upon the power of the Holy Spirit.

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Next Week:  “The Nature of His Game”

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