We have seen in the second chapter of Genesis the happy estate of the man and woman in paradise. We learn in the third chapter about the fall of man and his expulsion from that garden. No more fundamental subject can be considered by a Bible student, and we are not going to leave it until you are thoroughly grounded in the significance of the fall of man. But we are not prepared to commence the study of the fall until we consider somewhat the origin, nature, office, and history of another very distinct class of created beings called angels, through one of whom man was seduced to sin against God. So you see that the subject of this chapter is the creation of the angels, their relation to God and to man and the use of the serpent as an instrument in the temptation. Many Bible words of general signification take on by special usage a particular and official meaning; for example, the words, “apostle,” “deacon,” “church,” or “angel.” Primarily “apostle” means one sent. In this original meaning one sent by another is an apostle. Jesus was an apostle; so was Barnabas. But by special use the term is restricted to the highest office in the earthly church, and confined to the twelve apostles and to Paul. So “deacon” means primarily a servant. In this original sense any one who serves is a deacon. Jesus was a deacon. But by usage the term is restricted to a particular office in the apostolic church. The Greek New Testament term rendered “church” means primarily an official assembly called out for the transaction of secular business, but later designates a particular congregation of Christians. In like manner “angel” primarily means a messenger of any kind. Any one bearing a message from another is in this original sense an angel. Many passages in the Old Testament use the phrase, “angel of Jehovah,” to designate a preliminary manifestation of the Son of God before his incarnation. In this original sense the pastors of the seven churches in Asia are called the angels of the churches. Yet this general term “angel” by abundant usage, designates a special class of created beings, neither human nor divine — above the one, below the other — appointed unto a distinctive office. These constitute the hosts of the heavens.
When, then, were they created? There was but one creative period, and that period is set forth in the first chapter of Genesis and in the second chapter down to the third verse. In that time were finished not only the heavens and the earth, but “all the hosts of them” (Ge 2:1). Now the hosts of the earth are the created beings that inhabit the earth. The hosts of the heavens are the angels. The order in which the earth’s hosts — that is, the animals of sea, air, and land, culminating in man — were brought into being, has been set forth in previous chapters. But a consideration of the origin of “the hosts of the heavens” has been deferred until their contact with man brings them prominently into the earth history.
In the Ps 148 all the creation, including the angelic hosts, are invoked to praise Jehovah, their Creator:
- Praise ye him, all his angels:
- Praise ye him, all his hosts…
- For be commanded, and they were created.
Here the creation of the angels is associated in time with the rest of creation. Even more particularly in this association set forth and attributed to Jesus Christ in Col 1:16: “In him were all things created, in the heavens and upon the earth, things visible and things invisible, whether thrones or dominions, or principalities or powers; all things have been created through him and unto him.” It is true that the Son of God, by his incarnation, was subsequently made a little lower than the angels whom he created (Heb 2:7), but after his resurrection and ascension he was again exalted above them: “Who is on the right hand of God, having gone into heaven; angels and authorities and powers being made subject unto him” (2Pe 3:18).
The hosts of heaven met Jacob at a later day (Ge 32:1) and are an innumerable company. “The Lord came from the myriads of holy ones” (De 33:2). “The chariots of God are twenty thousand, even thousands upon thousands” (Ps 68:17). “Thousands of thousands ministered unto him, and ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him” (Da 7:10). “Innumerable hosts of angels” (Heb 12:22). “I heard the voice of many angels) … and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand and thousands of thousands” (Re 5:11).
The creation of the angels preceded that of the universe matter, and of course, that of man. In other words, the first creation was when the angels were made. We know this to be the case, because in the Ps 104:4-5, these angels were employed in bringing the chaotic earth matter into order. From the passage, Job 38:7, we are told that the sons of God watched it, had participated in it, and when it was completed shouted for Joy over the world when it was created. They rejoiced over the beautiful consummation.
By nature the angels were incorporeal, i.e., pure spirit (Ps 104:4; Heb 1:14; Eph 6:12), and sexless (Mt 22:30), and immortal (Lu 20:36), possessed of superhuman and yet finite wisdom and power (2Sa 14:20; 2Pe 2:11; Mt 24:36; 1Pe 1:12; Eph 3:10). Angels are not a family, but a company. They are without ancestry or posterity. Each stands or falls in his own individuality. As they could not fall through a progenitor, nor become corrupt through hereditary law, they cannot, when fallen, become subjects of redemption through a second federal head (Heb 2:16). Of angels, therefore, we may say: They are created and therefore finite beings; by origin they are called the sons of God (Job 1:6; 2:7); by nature they are spirits (Ps 104:4) ; by character they are called “holy ones” or “saints” (Job 5:1; Ps 89:5-7; Da 8:13; Jude 14). Later we shall find them ministrators of the law (Ga 3:19), heralds of the gospel (Lu 2:9-13), and servants of Christ’s people (Heb 1:14).
ORIGIN OF SIN
Now we come to the origin of sin. From the most. ancient times the origin of evil has baffled the inquisition of proud human philosophy. The Bible account of it is both simple and satisfactory. It originated with the angels. These angels were created free, moral agents, under law, on probation, with power to determinate choice, hence liable to fall. The greater number of them stood the test. In 1Ti 5:21, those who stood the test are called the elect angels. But many fell from their state of innocence. See 2Pe 2:4, and Jude 6: “The angels which kept not their first estate.” The leader and chief among them was Satan, who “stood not in the truth” (Joh 8:44), falling through pride (1Ti 3:6). He was first called Lucifer, which means “son of the morning.” He loses that name and takes the name Satan. This chief of the fallen angels has many Bible names. As expressive of his primacy and supremacy over other evil spirits he is called Beelzebub. As indicative of his hostility to man he is called Satan, which means adversary. As descriptive of his methods of malignity against man his name is devil. In this word is the idea of one who sets at variance. Those whom he seeks to set at variance are God and man. When he approaches man he slanders God; when he approaches God he accuses man. Hence, in his work of variance he is both an accuser and a slanderer. When he approaches Eve he slanders God. When he approaches God he accuses Job. In view of the result of his work he is called Apollyon, the destroyer. He is never a constructionist, but eminently a destructionist. He does not build; he demolishes. Because of the form he assumed in the temptation of man, he is called the Serpent, the Dragon. Very sinuous, tortuous, slimy, and subtle are his ways. On account of his rage and predatory character he is compared to a roaring lion. He is called the tempter because he incites to evil. He is called the receiver because he tempts by lies. That he may deceive he comes as an angel of light, and that he may trap the unwary he sets cunning traps as a fowler who ensnares birds. But all the time he is a liar and a murderer, and the father of lies and murders. He is the father of all false religions. He uses the lusts of the flesh, the pride of life, and the course of the world in turning men away from God. He first blinds, then binds and then stupefies, and so he keeps his goods in peace. He is an awful and hideous reality, apart from God the most stupendous factor in the universe. He is limited in power and in the time allotted him to work his evil deeds. Now, as I stated, the angels, like man, were on probation. The best statement of that case that I have ever seen is in Milton’s Paradise Lost, fifth book, commencing at the 520th line:
Raphael said to Adam: Son of heaven and earth, Attend: that thou art happy, owe to God; That thou continuest such, owe to thyself, That is, to thy obedience; therein stand. This was that caution given thee; be advised. God made thee perfect, not immutable; And good he made thee; but to persevere He left it in thy power; ordained thy will By nature free, not over-ruled by fate Inextricable, or strict necessity: Our voluntary service he requires, Not our necessitated; such with Him Finds no acceptance, nor can find; for how Can hearts, not free, be tried whether they serve Willing or not, who will but what they must By destiny, and can no other choose? Myself, and all the angelic host, that stand In sight of God, enthroned, our happy state Hold, as you yours, while our obedience holds; On other surety none: freely we serve, Because we freely love, as in our will To love or not; in this we stand or fall.
Now comes a much more serious question. What was the occasion that led the devil to sin? God did not make a devil; he created him a good angel, but created him free to act, to stand or fall. Now, the devil sinned, and we find his sin to be pride or ambition, but we have not yet found the occasion for that sin. If you are familiar with Paradise Lost you will see that Milton says the occasion was this: That God introduced his Son to the angels, and announced that from that time he was to be king of the angels and that they were to serve him. Milton bases his statement on the passage in the first chapter of Hebrews, “When he bringeth his only Begotten into the world again he said, Let all the angels of God worship him.” Now, Milton makes that take place before there was any universe. A fair interpretation of that scripture is that when Jesus died and rose again — that was bringing his Begotten into the world again — God said, “Let all the angels worship him.” That is the true explanation, that they were to worship not the Son of God in original divinity, but the Son of God in raised humanity. So Milton was mistaken about the occasion. Jesus Christ made the angels, all of them. He made the one that became the devil, and I don’t suppose that the devil’s pride or ambition would ever have led him to rebel against the one who created him through any desire to succeed him. The question is, What was the occasion that excited the pride of the devil? Now, the Bible does not say, but I am going to give you my own opinion, and you can take it as an opinion. My opinion is that, in one of those meetings in heaven like that described in Job at which all the angels at stated times come up into the presence of God, he announced to them that he was going to create this world and make man in his image and likeness, and that this man through obedience, — if he observed the commandments of God and should eat of the tree of life, — would become immortal and be lifted up above the angels, and that it should be the office of the angels to serve this man. Now I think there is where the devil protested. He was willing enough for God to be over him, but he was unwilling for a creature, made originally lower. than himself, to have a destiny that would one day put any being above him. Every saved soul will be far above any angel. That is my opinion. If I had time I believe I could show you inferentially, of course not specifically, for I would then have to give you scriptures.
Now, in the second book of Paradise Lost Milton tracks the Bible out much more clearly about how sin originated. When the devil, after being cast out of heaven, is leaving hell to go back to find on earth this people that were to be created below him and one day were to be above him, he meets at the gate of hell Sin and Death, both horrible. And Just as he and Death are about to fight, Sin intervenes. Sin is a beautiful woman from the waist up, and a snake from the waist down. She says to Satan: “Death is thy son. I am Death’s mother. I am not only Death’s mother, but I am thy daughter. Don’t you remember that time in heaven when your pride was excited, that fearful pain came in your head and it was opened and out I leaped full grown like a beautiful woman? And every angel said, ‘Sin, Sin, Sin.’ But, looking at my beauty, they became enamoured of me, and especially thou, and thy espousal to Sin produced the progeny, Death, and Death’s espousal to Sin produced the progeny of the hellhounds of remorse.” That is Milton’s idea, powerfully set forth, marvelous. That coincides with what we were discussing in the New Testament about sin. There is first enticement, then desire, then will, then sin) and sin when it is full grown bringeth forth death. That part of Milton’s work is true.
We are now compelled by the facts of the Bible story about to be considered to take some note of a great mystery. And that is the power of spirit over matter and over less powerful organisms of life. “Unquestionably, when permitted, Satan can stir up a cyclone, or electric storm that leaves death in its path (Job 1:16-19); or incite to robbery and murder (Job 1:15-17 and 1Jo 3:12). He can hypnotize inferior animals (Mt 8:30-32), and make them obey his will. He can, by consent of the subject, take possession of man’s mind and make it his servant. Hence, the demoniacal possessions of the New Testament. One of the clearest revelations of Scripture is the immediate influence of spirit over matter and the immediate impact of spirit on spirit. We could not otherwise understand Ge 1:2; 2:7; Ps 104:30; 1Pe 1:21; Joh 3:3; Lu 1:55; Joh 8:27; Ac 5:3, and many other passages. The formation of the earth, the communication of man’s soul, the incarnation of our Lord, the quickening of regeneration, the resurrection, inspiration, demoniacal possession, the preparation of dying infants for heaven, the stampeding of cattle, panics in armies, mesmerism, hypnotism and a thousand other mysteries find their only explanation in the doctrine of immediate impact of spirit on matter or on another spirit.
The account of Genesis speaks of the serpent, the instrument, only. But fairly interpreted it implies what is elsewhere so forcibly taught, that the serpent was merely the instrument of a mighty spiritual power in the temptation of Eve. That grandest of all epics, Paradise Lost, reveals throughout a profound study of the whole Bible. It thus sets forth a possible method of the entrance of Satan into the serpent:
So saying, through each thicket dank and dry, Like a black mist low creeping, he held on His midnight search, where soonest he might find The serpent: him, fast sleeping soon he found In labyrinth of many a round self-rolled, His head the midst, well stored with subtle wiles: Not yet in horrid shade or dismal den,
Nor nocent yet; but, on the grassy herb, Fearless unfeared he slept: in at his mouth The devil entered; and his brutal sense, In heart and head, possessing, soon inspired With act intelligential; but his sleep Disturbed not, waiting close the approach of morn.
Just as the devil can take possession of a man and make him demoniac, so the devil took possession of the serpent. The use of the serpent as a means, and the most suitable means, arises out of his power and his cunning. I will quote what Richard Owen says about the serpent: “He outclimbs the monkey, outswims the fish, outleaps the zebra, outwrestles the athlete, and crushes the tiger.” In Ruskin’s “Queen of the Air” we find: “There are myriads lower than the serpent, and more loathsome in the scale of being … but it is the strength of the base element that is so dreadful in the serpent; it is the very omnipotence of the earth… It is a divine hieroglyph of the demoniac power of the earth, of the entirely earthly nature. As the bird is the clothed power of the air, so this is the clothed power of the dust; as the bird is the symbol of the spirit of life, so this is the grasp and sting of death.”
You will notice that after the curse was pronounced upon him, because of what he had done, the serpent was condemned to crawl, evidently implying that he had not crawled before. In two or three books of the Bible we have an account of fiery, flying serpents, and beyond all question the particular serpent that tempted Eve was a flying serpent. That only shows that his power was greater then than it has been since. He was condemned to crawl and clipped off his wings. Nataerialists will tell you that there were serpents with wings, and all tradition represents the dragon with wings. So that the Bible, nature and tradition agree in the representation that the serpent employed for the temptation of Eve was winged so that he had power in the air as well as power on the land. After the curse was pronounced upon him he must crawl and pick his food up from the ground as I have seen them do. I have seen a rattlesnake swallow a mule-eared rabbit. He licks him all over and covers him with saliva, rolls him over in the sand and then swallows him whole with the dust that is on him. That is how the serpent eats dust.
We have seen the creation of the angels. We have seen that a part of these angels kept not their first estate. We have seen the sin which they committed, pride, and we have seen that Satan is the chief of the fallen spirits that were cast out. We have seen why he came to earth, to slander God and accuse man, to make them sin, to keep them from attraining to the position that they would be above him and bring them to the position that they would be under him. But, “Know ye not,” says Paul, “that the saints shall Judge angels?”
By: B.H. Carol