Rebellion Against God
Robert Wurtz II
For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north. I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High. (Isaiah 14:13, 14 KJV)
We have a few occasions in scripture where God offers us a glimpse into the origins of rebellion. Isaiah 14 is one of those passages. It is addressed to the king of Babylon. But we must understand that there are principalities and powers in the heavenly realms that are influencing the events going on in the earth. (Ephesians 6:11ff) At a point in the chapter the prophet Isiah begins to deal with the influence behind the throne. The king is suddenly referred to as ‘Lucifer’ in verse 12; a name that means ‘morning star’ or light bearer’. This is none other than Satan or the Devil as he is also known. These verses offer us the most ancient insight into the nature of sin. Lucifer is saying in his heart these five times, ‘I Will’ and God sees it. He is self-conscious and asserting himself in his heart. This is in keeping with God’s gaze upon man’s heart as we read in 1 Samuel 16:7. God has shared with us what He had seen. Obviously this was prior to Satan’s full-on rebellion (actual fall). As a person thinks in their heart- so are they. The king of Babylon is under the influence of this ‘spirit’ to the point where their attitudes are almost inseparable. This allows the king and his kingdom to function as an allegory of Satan and this world. This is important because later on in Israel’s history Babylon will be a place where God reveals important truths about the unseen world.
Perfect in Creation
At some point in the eternal past, God the Creator made everything that exists; things that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him. (Colossians 1:16) Lucifer, also known as Satan or the Devil was created to be the perfect Anointed Cherub that ‘covers’ until iniquity was found in him. (Ezekiel 28:14, 15) He, like human beings, are created with an awesome power- a power to say NO to the creator. Without this ability there can be neither virtue nor vice.
We already touched on the beginnings of Lucifer’s fall from perfection as recorded in Isaiah 14:13, 14 where God saw into his heart and beheld the formation of the thoughts he was entertaining. We don’t have all the details- just some thumbnail sketches. Satan was the Anointed Cherub that ‘covereth’. This means he was in some sense the leader of the Cherubim. Ezekiel builds upon Isaiah’s revelation saying, 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. (Ezekiel 28:14) Keep that concept of ‘covereth’ in your mind as we progress on. Apparently Satan was supposed to be covering, but forsook that role and tried to set his own throne up next to God’s. He began to entertain his own will independent from God’s will. It got worse as he grasped at being God. He (Satan or the Dragon as he is known) somehow achieved a following that drew a third of the stars (angels) according to Revelation 12:4. He was responsible for leading in their fall as well as himself falling from heaven. (Luke 10:18) Some have suggested that Satan’s fall was from the stones of fire to the lake of fire with a stop in the spirit world and then the earth in between. At any rate, he is on a downward trajectory that will end in Hell.
The Sin of ‘I’ Worship
For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High. (Isaiah 14:13-14)
There was a time when Satan’s focus was God’s will, but at some point (and we are not told when, where, why or how) he desired his own will. He pioneered the notion that a creature can disobey God. The possibility had never been entertained so as to be ‘on the table’ until Satan began his fall. He set himself up to be worshipped, even wanting God to worship him. (Matthew 4:9) He wanted to be the head, so he ceased from covering. We do not fully understand the implications of that, but the angelic host definitely do. The angels understand what it is to be under authority. There is a sentence in the Lord’s prayer that’s informative; Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. (Matthew 6:10) The implication is that God’s will is carried out unthwarted in Heaven. This is not because God is a tyrant, but because the angels love God and understand the wisdom of obeying God. They understand that God’s will cannot be improved upon and obedience is the most important thing of all. The old-timers used to speak of the wisdom of God’s requirements. That is to say that they could see the logic and the ‘right-ness’ of obeying God’s word because it is perfectly capable of bringing about the best effect. God’s word is in harmony with the creation. Satan broke away from this reality and corrupted God’s creation with his sin. Sin causes suffering because it is an alternative modus operandi. Satan’s will is to steal, kill and destroy, but God’s perfect will engenders life. When Satan is behind the behavior of human beings their life engenders that death and destruction. It can do no other.
Submission as Demonstrated by God (voluntary submission)
Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: (Philippians 2:5-7)
Because the nature of Satan rules the day man must look outside fallen humanity to understand what submission and voluntary headship looks like. It is not natural. The world is repulsed by such a notion. The saints must look at the life of Jesus Christ as the example. We will look at this in more detail later, but keep this passage in your mind as we go along. Jesus Christ was the express image of God. His life and attitude patterned for us the attitude and behavior of the Godhead. There is a willful conscious decision to be submissive; a self-less agape love expressed within the Godhead that has always been. This is very important to grasp.
Thou Hast Defiled
Once Satan desired to set his heart as the heart of God- iniquity was found in him. He became a corrupt Cherub, whose destiny from that point forward was Hell itself (Isaiah 14:15). Yet he was not content to be defiled himself, he became a defiler. He was not content to be separated from the goodness of God all alone he wanted others to share his defilement. He is the forerunner of those who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them. (Romans 1:32)
Satan takes pleasure in seeing others break away from their ‘head’, even as he had done and then lured 1/3 of the angels to do.
We are told in Ezekiel 28:18 that he defiled his sanctuaries. This is the place where he once worshipped God along with the other Cherubim. This is where he once ‘covered’. Once a sanctuary is defiled it must be purged before God’s unique presence can return to that place. This is a great mystery, and we only have flashes of revelation from the scriptures explaining this truth.
It was therefore necessary that the patterns of things in the heavens should be purified with these; but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these. (Hebrews 9:23)
The Old Testament is replete with revelation into the necessity of ceremonial cleanness, in the light of God’s holiness, etc. Notice the words, ‘the patterns of these things’. This is what the Wilderness Tabernacle was. It was a pattern of the Temple in heaven where God’s unique presence dwelled. Moses made everything according to the pattern he saw- right down to the unique stones that ended up in the High Priests breastplate.
The revelation in Ezekiel 28:18 is essential because we need to know that this is a primary objective of Satan. God has places that He has ‘prepared’ such as the was the Garden of Eden where He dwelled in fellowship with His creatures. In John 14:1-2 Jesus said He was going away to ‘prepare a place’ for the Saints. In Israel God ‘prepared a place’ for Himself in the midst of the people and would dwell among them so long as they kept His covenant and hearkened to His voice. In other words, so long as they submitted to His headship. He was a husband to them and they were His bride until Satan was successful in luring them away from their head (Jeremiah 31:32, Hebrews 8:9)
Think of his track record of defilement; from heaven, to the Garden, to the hearts of men, to Israel and even the local churches. Obviously Satan cannot stand to see God’s creation standing in it’s created order of headship. He tried to tempt Jesus in the wilderness to break His headship to God. Jesus passed the test, but Satan came again as the passage implies. Why is he so relentless in trying to incite rebellion against God? He wants to be worshipped and based on his track record would rather anything be worshipped other than God. He desires his will to be done on earth and in Heaven- not God’s. He wants creatures that have the capacity to tell God ‘no’ to do so. His world system tempts them continually to do it. Does he stop there? In no wise! He wants to do in any assembly of the saints what he had done in heaven- to destroy the sense of submission to God; that is, to cease to cover.
Satan Cast Out
Satan was cast out of this sanctuary in Heaven that he defiled and tried to hijack. There are varying theories on how this played out, but we know for sure that Satan lost his position in Heaven as the anointed Cherub that covers. It only makes sense that after Christ has entered heaven to cleanse the heavenly Temple, Satan would not be allowed to defile this area again. Again, we read in Hebrews 9:23, that it was therefore necessary that the patterns of things in the heavens should be purified with these; but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these. The wilderness tabernacle and later the temple in Jerusalem were purified with the blood of bulls and goats, but evidently the purification of the True Temple in Heaven needed to be purified by the blood of the Lamb of God. In this we learn that Jesus’ dying on the cross has far reaching implications that reached beyond man’s need and in to Heaven itself.
Because submission is not natural, as children we are first taught to obey our parents. (Ephesians 6:1-4) As workers we are commanded to submit to our ‘masters’ or employers. (Ephesians 6:5-9) As citizens we are commanded to submit ourselves to the civil authorities so long as there is no conflict with God or His commandments. This is done with the understanding that their authority is given to them by God Himself. (Romans 13:1-6) We are told that the younger should submit to the older. (1 Peter 5:5) In fact, we are told to be submissive one towards another. (Ephesians 5:21) It would be superfluous to give examples from scripture of commandments to submit to God. The scripture is consistent in it’s call for the saints to maintain a perpetual attitude of selfless submission. It is a conscious choice. We must lay down our will and deliberately echo the attitude of Christ; not my will but thine be done.