A Sermon on Satan
I preached this sermon this morning.
11 ¶ Moreover the word of the LORD came unto me, saying,
12 Son of man, take up a lamentation upon the king of Tyrus, and say unto him, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Thou sealest up the sum, full of wisdom, and perfect in beauty.
13 Thou hast been in Eden the garden of God; every precious stone was thy covering, the sardius, topaz, and the diamond, the beryl, the onyx, and the jasper, the sapphire, the emerald, and the carbuncle, and gold: the workmanship of thy tabrets and of thy pipes was prepared in thee in the day that thou wast created.
14 Thou art the anointed cherub that covereth; and I have set thee so: thou wast upon the holy mountain of God; thou hast walked up and down in the midst of the stones of fire.
15 Thou wast perfect in thy ways from the day that thou wast created, till iniquity was found in thee.
16 By the multitude of thy merchandise they have filled the midst of thee with violence, and thou hast sinned: therefore I will cast thee as profane out of the mountain of God: and I will destroy thee, O covering cherub, from the midst of the stones of fire.
17 Thine heart was lifted up because of thy beauty, thou hast corrupted thy wisdom by reason of thy brightness: I will cast thee to the ground, I will lay thee before kings, that they may behold thee.
18 Thou hast defiled thy sanctuaries by the multitude of thine iniquities, by the iniquity of thy traffic; therefore will I bring forth a fire from the midst of thee, it shall devour thee, and I will bring thee to ashes upon the earth in the sight of all them that behold thee.
19 All they that know thee among the people shall be astonished at thee: thou shalt be a terror, and never shalt thou be any more.
This seems at first a very strange chapter. The first verses of it seem relatively straightforward. It is a prophecy of God’s judgement on Ithobalus, the king of Tyre, in modern-day Lebanon. We learn that this king is wise, handsome and incredibly wealthy. Yet he is also proud.
On this Remembrance Sunday, we think of those who have died in wars because of the pride and vanity of rulers. When a ruler is proud, often he thinks little of the lives of his subjects.
The last century has seen many dictators. Hitler, Mussolini, Stalin, Sadam Hussein.
Yet God resists the proud. So often in their pride, rulers will overstretch themselves. Hitler believed that there were no limits to how far he could conquer. He dominated Europe. Yet in his pride, he brought the German nation to ruin. God resists the proud.
Yet this passage says some things about the King of Tyre that do not seem to fit a human being. He has been in the Garden of God, he has been in the mountain of God and walked in the midst of the stones of fire, (whatever they are) and most notably of all, he is said to be a Cherub, one the highest ranks of angels. What is going on this text?
We see this in Psalms. In many psalms we see things that seem to reflect the experience of David. Then a few verses later, we see statements that can only apply to the messiah, Jesus Christ, the son of David.
In this passage, Ezekiel takes us from the king of Tyre, a contemporary example of evil conduct and pride to Satan, the originator of all evil.
Satan is real. To deny his existence is folly. Sadly there are many professing Christians who refuse to believe in Satan’s existence. They prefer to see him as an allegory or symbol. But this is to deny the record of Scripture. The Lord Jesus not only taught that Satan is real, but He was tempted personally by Satan.
At the very beginning of our Bibles in Genesis we read of how it is through the Serpent’s temptation that sin entered the world. If we take Satan out of the world, the whole record of the Bible’s revelation of man’s history falls apart.
When we read in the newspapers daily about the terrible things that go on in the world, it should not be difficult to believe in the reality of Satan.
Some people feel that the idea of a personal devil allows people to make excuses for their sin. However, the excuse that ‘the devil made me do it’ is not accepted in the courts of heaven. Eve tried to blame the serpent for her sin. God judged the serpent, but He also judged Eve.
Some Christians make the mistake of getting obsessed with Satan.
If you go to some churches, you sometimes hear preachers rebuking the Devil.
I would suggest to you that this is a rather silly thing to do. If I stood here and I said “We rebuke you, Satan!” I would be wasting my breath. Satan is not everywhere. He is not God and he is thankfully not here in this church to listen to me.
Some Christians get really obsessed with demon possession. You can read a lot of Christian books on the subject of exorcism and spiritual warfare. I would suggest that a lot of these books are very sensational and very unbalanced.
I don’t think that many people are possessed by demons today. In the life of our Lord Jesus we see many incidents of demon possession, in contrast, we see less in Acts and very little mention of possession in the Old Testament or Paul’s epistles. Satan varies his methods. He made great use of possession in the time of our Lord, but that does not mean that this is always his way. I believe that the work of the cross has weakened Satan’s power and so we do not need to be continually casting out demons.
Our role is to preach the Word of God. The Word of God has power and that power was obtained by the cross of Christ and His resurrection. Our business today is not to exorcise but to make Christ known. In the Gospel we find the answer to Satan’s hold over men and women.
In this passage we learn that Satan was the anointed cherub. What is a cherub? The cherubim are one of the highest ranks of angels. In their glory, they reflect God’s power and authority. In the holy of holies there were statues of cherubim. When Adam and Eve were cast out of the Garden of Eden, cherubim were set up to guard paradise and keep them out.
It is staggering to think that such an holy being could have fallen into sin. In verse 15 we learn of Satan:
Thou wast perfect in thy ways from the day thou was created until iniquity was found in thee.
It should not therefore be such a surprise when we see the low state of Christendom. In history we read about the violence of the crusades and the scheming of popes. We see far too many Protestant ministers who deny such fundamental truths as the resurrection and virgin birth of Christ. We also see the most tedious and petty divisions in churches and denominations. We see televangelists squandering large sums of money on lavish lifestyles. When we see the failure of so much of professed Christianity we need not be surprised to learn that Satan was the anointed cherub, the guardian of the throne of God.
That Satan is an angel is a fact mentioned by Paul. Paul said:
Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light.
Therefore it is no great marvel if his ministers also be transformed as the minister’s of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works.
A lot of the people who come knocking on your door with the Bible in their hands are not good news. There are a lot of people out there who bring a message that seems like Christianity, but which is not the real thing. It is so important for us to know the Bible and to able to test what is in accordance with its teachings and what is not. Don’t let yourself be taken in by wolves in sheep’s clothing. Get to know your Bible.
We are told that Satan was in Eden, the garden of God. This probably does not refer to the Garden of Eden that Adam and Eve were in, because it is referring to Satan’s state before his fall. This would seem to be the heavenly paradise above. The word Eden means ‘delight’ and heaven is a delightful place. The mention of precious stones here should remind us of the description of the celestial New Jerusalem that we read about in Revelation.
Heaven is the place that the Christian is destined for. God has responded to the fall of Satan by doing a new work. This is always God’s pattern. Satan and His angels fell. But God responded to this by creating man. And through man He is accomplishing His purposes. Satan once occupied a place of glory and privilege in heaven. One day, believers in Christ will occupy a place of glory and privilege in heaven.
Jesus Christ, the risen man has been exalted to the highest place in the universe. He is going to claim His authority over creation. But he will not rule alone. Christ is gathering a people who will rule with Him, an heavenly government, a celestial aristocracy if you like. The Christian who has faithfully served the Lord will have a far more glorious position in heaven than Satan ever had.
Satan knows this and it makes him furious. That is why he is at war with the Church of God. For when the Church is brought into its place of glory and privilege over all creation, then Satan will be defeated. He dreads that day.
Wealth is a very significant thing in this chapter. The king of Tyre is seen as one who is proud because of his great wealth. In verse 5:
By thy great wisdom and by thy traffick thou hast increased thy riches, and thine heart is lifted up because of thy riches.
We read in 1 Timothy 6:10 that ‘the love of money is the root of all evil.’ Some Bible translations say that it is the root of many kinds of evil. I am not a Greek scholar, so I will not presume to judge between these readings. However, this passage in Ezekiel might give a clue as to how the love of money could be the root of all evil.
In this passage, we see that just as the king of Tyre became proud because of his wealth, Lucifer or Satan became proud because of his own kind of wealth; for he was covered in precious stones and dwelt among the stones of fire.
Wealth makes a man proud. And in pride he neglects his need for God. This is the fruit of Satan who in his pride sought to usurp God. How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God!
The fact that Satan was in heaven leads to the question, where is he now?
Some people have an idea that Satan is in hell. That idea is from John Milton’s Paradise Lost, not from the Bible. Satan is not in hell. One day he will be in hell, not to reign over it but to be tormented there forever. No, Satan is not in hell, but in the heavens where he makes war on God’s angels. Not that part of heaven where Christ is, but in some unearthly realm, perhaps among the stars. We read in Ephesians 6:12
For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.
The word high places is also translated elsewhere in Ephesians as ‘heavenly places.’
God has his heavenly kingdom in which he rules over a multitude of angels. Satan has his heavenly kingdom, in which he rules over his angels. Satan sought to usurp God and in doing so he established his counterfeit kingdom.
Did you know that Satan is the god of this world? This world is his kingdom. That is why the world is in such a mess.
Everything in society is designed to make man think that he does not need God. Satan uses all sorts of things, religion, politics, culture to make people turn away from God.
Satan will do two things for people. He will give them lies to darken their minds and work to keep them busy.
Satan gives people false religious systems. The system of Islam is a false religion. It makes people believe that Jesus Christ did not die to save sinners and that man can come to God by doing good deeds. Another false religious system is evolution. It makes people deny that God made man and think that the Bible us unrealiable. These Satan's lies.
But Satan also gives people things to do. People find all sorts of things to busy their lives with. Some people dedicate their lives to athletics. They decide that one day they will win the Olympics and so they put all their time and energy into training for athletics. But they never seek God. How tragic that a person should reach the heights of achievement in athletics or sports but never come to know the salvation that is found in Christ!
Other people dedicate their lives to politics. They spend all their life trying to improve society and make the world a better place through legislation. A very worthy intention. But sadly, though we can try to improve the world, ultimately it will be in a mess as long as sinful men are running it and from behind the scenes, Satan. The only hope for the world is the return of Jesus Christ to establish His kingdom.
But we can be delivered from this evil world system. That deliverance is through the Lord Jesus Christ. We read in Ephesians 2:
Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience.
That is how they used to be. But now:
But God who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us,
Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ (by grace are ye saved)
When a person comes to faith in Christ they are born again. They are delivered from Satan’s power. In 1 John it says that ‘He that is born of God overcometh the world’.
If you have been born again, if you have trusted in Christ you are delivered from Satan’s power. Your destiny is secure. You may fall into sin, you may backslide, but nothing that Satan can throw at you can separate you from the love of Christ. If you are born again, you will never be dragged down to hell, no matter how much Satan may rage against you.
That is good news!
Satan is doomed. He can cause a lot of trouble. He continues to deceive the nations. But his time is short. In Romans it says that our feet will bruise Satan shortly. We are going to see him defeated. In verse 17 of this passage we read:
Thine heart was lifted up because of thy beauty, thou has corrupted thy wisdom by reason of thy brigtness: I will cast thee to the ground, I will lay thee before kings, that they may behold thee.
In times to come, Satan is going to be cast into the Lake of Fire to be tormented day and night forever.
I have done a lot of street preaching. Sometimes I hear teenagers making silly comments about Satan. I tell them ‘Satan is going to hell and if you continue in your course, if you continue to reject God you will be there with him.’
We don’t need to fear Satan. We need to beware of his schemes. We have to be discerning as to his workings. We have to beware of pride, for it is by pride that he fell. If we are in Christ we cannot be separated from the salvation that is in Him. However, if we become proud, we can stumble and fail to serve our Lord as we should. There is no room for pride in the Christian life. Let us only boast in the Lord Jesus Christ. Everything which we are is in Him.
Let us rest secure in the victory that we have in Christ. Let us look forward to that day when our feet bruise Satan.