“I will ascend to heaven; above the stars of God I will set my throne on high; I will sit on the mount of assembly in the far reaches of the north; I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High.”
If you’re a Christian, you undoubtedly have some experience with who the Devil is. The current Evangelical understanding of Lucifer is less than a thousand years old, and today we take it for granted that Satan, the Devil, and Lucifer are the same person. Despite the idea’s youth, I think it’s the correct and holistic understanding of scripture.
The Story of the Devil
You said in your heart, ‘I will ascend to heaven; above the stars of God I will set my throne on high; I will sit on the mount of assembly in the far reaches of the north; I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High.’
But you are brought down to Sheol, to the far reaches of the pit. Those who see you will stare at you and ponder over you: ‘Is this the man who made the earth tremble, who shook kingdoms, who made the world like a desert and overthrow its cities, who did not let his prisoners go home?’”
– Isaiah 14:12-17
“You were the signet of perfection, full of wisdom and perfect in beauty. You were in Eden, the garden of God; every precious stone was your covering, sardius, topaz, and diamond, beryl, onyx, and jasper, sapphire, emerald, and carbuncle; and crafted in gold were your settings and your engravings. On the day that you were created they were prepared.
You were an anointed guardian cherub. I placed you; you were on the holy mountain of God; in the midst of the stones of fire you walked. You were blameless in your ways from the day you were created, till unrighteousness was found in you.
In the abundance of your trade you were filled with violence in your midst, and you sinned; so I cast you as a profane thing from the mountain of God, and I destroyed you, O guardian cherub, from the midst of the stones of fire.
Your heart was proud because of your beauty; you corrupted your wisdom for the sake of your splendor.
I cast you to the ground; I exposed you before kings, to feast their eyes upon you. By the multitude of your iniquities, in the unrighteousness of your trade you profaned your sanctuaries; so I brought fire out from your midst; it consumed you, and I turned you to ashes on the earth and in the sight of all who saw you. All who know you among the peoples are appalled at you; you have come to a dreadful end and shall be no more forever.”
– Ezekiel 28:12-19
When He’s Finally Denied Access to Heaven
Now war arose in heaven, Michael and his angels fought against the dragon. And the dragon and his angels waged war, but he was defeated, and there was no longer any place for them in heaven. And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceives the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.
– Revelation 12:7-9
You and the Devil should Swap Notes
If you don’t read any further, it’s enough that you have just read some of the best Space Opera ever created. Star Wars has got nothing on the Bible.
If you’re a Christian, chances are that you and Lucifer have something in common. It’s not pride I’m thinking of and it’s not sin. It’s not even the fact that you’re both created beings. Rather it’s an idea, that both you and the Devil believe. Like in the movie Inception, this idea has been placed in your head by traditional Christian teaching, and probably by taking the bible at face value when you should have dug a little deeper. It has shaped your view of the universe and God.
A few talented artists over the past thousand years have taken the bible at face value, and iconographic artwork often pictures God sitting in a cloud actually riding atop cherubs. The bible does say that God rides atop cherubs: Psalm 18:10.
Let’s remember that the bible says a lot of things about God, and it says that God is a lot of things: a consuming fire, light, love, a lion, a man. With the exception of love, I think those are all metaphors. The only thing on the list that existed before the universe was created is love. Love between the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
So what’s this idea that you and the Devil share? The clues are all over the bible.
“Be not rash with your mouth, nor let your heart be hasty to utter a word before God, for God is in heaven and you are on earth. Therefore let your words be few.” – Ecclesiastes 5:2
So have you figured it out yet? Well, I can’t say it just jumps straight out at you, especially if you haven’t yet read my introduction or part one of this series.
How Could Satan be Foolish Enough to Rebel?
Have you ever thought about why, the smartest and probably the first living being ever created by God thought he could “become like God”. The story says he corrupted his wisdom for the sake of his splendor. His story is an example of how dangerous pride is. It literally corrupts good judgement like a virus on your hard drive.
It always bothered me why Satan even thought there was even a slight possibility that God could be defeated. I’ve come to find it’s because Satan thought about God the way most Christians think about God. For the sake of simplicity, let’s ignore the trinity, and focus on God being a singular unit. We Christians do believe in one God after all and we vehemently deny any and all accusations of polytheism, despite the schisms in the church over semantics of what that “oneness” actually means.
So what do most Christians think about God? To put it as concisely as possible, “You think God has an address.”
It’s the idea that God is made out of “stuff” or that God is “somewhere” and that because he’s seated on a throne and he’s surrounded by “glory” that must be where he is; that because he’s covered in glory, and fire, and thunder, and lightning, and bright lights, that those physical expressions of himself serve as a deterrent to any opposition.
Even our concept of omniscience fall short in this area. What many Evangelicals would call a “new age” idea is that God “is everything” or is “in everything”. Christians believe the exact same thing in one form or another and it’s really just arguing semantics to separate the two ideas. But if God’s “in everything” then all it would take to destroy God is to destroy everything, however hard that would be, right?
The DBZ Deterrent
As a child I used to watch a show called Dragon Ball Z. It was a show about these fighters who had learned to channel their inner energy and Ki and were able to do fantastical things, like fly, and shoot balls of energy out of their hands, and power up. It was an awesome show.
Now as someone who watched DBZ and read my bible, I would always think to myself, “Wow, that’s what angels must be like.” Angels can fly, they’re super powerful, they can “power up” (I think) and they have swords…like Trunks. There was an episode I remember watching during my freshman year of high school, where Vegeta destroyed an opponent simply by powering up and releasing his energy, in order to save his son’s life and save the Earth. It looked like a hydrogen bomb went off. Vegeta’s aura when powering up to his max was able to vaporize everything within several miles, including himself. It was a kamikaze move, and one of the few selfless things that character ever did, in probably my favorite episode of Dragon Ball Z.
I certainly wouldn’t want to fight anyone who could do what Vegeta did, but that’s because I’m a human and I’m alive in a body of flesh and blood. Fire burns me when I touch it. Lightning and high voltage electricity is deadly for me. I can be blinded by really bright lights. So yes, the chaotic release of energy is a deterrent to humans, but I don’t actually think it’s meant to be a deterrent in the context of scripture.
The only real deterrent (if you think glory is a deterrent) would be to destroy everything. The very fact that God limits his glory means that he hides it’s full potential, which means that there is a full potential, which would put a cap on God.
To look at it another way, what’s 20% of infinity? It’s infinity. If God is his glory, he would be unable to limit it. God’s glory, if you define glory as the release of energy, has limits. The limit being the size of the universe, or multiverse. And yes, there are things God can’t do, like lie, or contradict himself.
I submit to you that you can’t limit infinity, and that the “glory” is just cosmetic. If you could choose an outfit to wear, any outfit, why not clothe yourself in fire or lightning? Glory is a created thing. Glory is not God. Fire is a created thing, so is lightning, and light, and heat, and loud noise.
The DBZ interpretation of scripture creates a universal arms race to see who has the most lightning shooting off them. It assumes “God is powerful because he’s shiny.” Or “He’s shiny because he’s powerful.” Rather, God’s “glory” is a cosmetic choice that has absolutely no bearing on his power. Satan knows you think this way, that’s why he uses glory to deceive you.
And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. – 2 Corinthians 11:14
God could have chosen to be surrounded by thick clouds of cotton candy, with Reeses pieces shooting off of him, sitting on a throne made of jolly ranchers atop a mountain of solid sugar and it would make no difference. I would still fear him, because I think I know what he is. Knowledge of God is the real deterrent.
Is fire and lightning a deterrent for Angels?
What if you’re not a human? What if you could power up too? What if you were the second most beautiful and radiant being in existence? What if bright lights didn’t blind you and fire didn’t burn you? And what if you thought you had the address of the guy you wanted to fight? There’d still be plenty of room for failure. How do you even plot against someone who knows your thoughts? I’m pretty sure that Satan was well aware of God’s omniscience when he rebelled, and I’m operating under the assumption that he’s both smarter and wiser than we are. Not only did he rebel, but he convinced 1/3 of the angels to rebel with him.
The Devil’s Plan
Since God knows your thoughts, the first clue we’re given is a clear view into Lucifer’s mind. What did he want to do? It looks like he wanted to go to a physical location in the created universe and dethrone God. That physical location was God’s throne in Heaven.
There are different “levels” of heaven, and the word is used interchangably in scripture. Sometimes it means the sky, sometimes it means outer space, sometimes it means where Christians go when they die, but sometimes it means the actual “dwelling place” of God. What Lucifer was thinking about in Isaiah was the most sacred place in Heaven. Mount Zion, in the sides of the north, where God’s throne is. The place above the heights of the clouds, where God surrounds himself in thick darkness. Where the Seraphims cover their faces and cry, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory.” That Heaven.
What is Heaven?
Heaven is a pretty mundane place. The only cool thing about heaven is God’s localized presence. If he wasn’t localized there, it’d just be another tourist attraction. It’s constructed much the same way earth is. It has cities, and walls, and gates. It has streets. It has mountains and clouds. It has an atmosphere. Everything we see in the universe with a large enough gravitational pull is spherical in shape. The moon is spherical, so is the Earth and the Sun. All the planets we see, all the stars we see are spherical. Clearly there’s a pattern going on here. So what’s to say Heaven isn’t spherical too? What’s to say that heaven isn’t just a planet? After all, the book of Revelation says that God will re-create the earth without an ocean, and occupy it, living among his elect on the New Earth for the rest of time.
So why would God create an entire universe full of spherical objects like stars, planets, and moons, then promise to spend the rest of eternity on a spherical Earth with us, but not live in a spherical Heaven currently. Heaven being a planet makes more sense than nonsense.
It Doesn’t Matter
Despite my hypothesis that Heaven is actually a planet located somewhere in the physical universe, I submit that it doesn’t actually matter what Heaven is. The first verse of scripture states, “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.”
Heaven could be a planet, it could be another plane of existence like another dimension, it could be another universe where the entropy doesn’t apply (think multiverse and string theory). It wouldn’t change anything. Heaven is a created place, and thus part of the universe or multiverse we share. Heaven is subject to the laws of of physics, and it is subject to the passage of time. When you go to heaven you will experience the flow of time, just as you do on the earth.
I submit to you that Heaven is a planet, but that’s just an aside. Heaven is not God. Heaven is not outside time. Heaven is subject to the laws of physics. Heaven is a created place not much different than Earth, Mars, or Jupiter. Heaven was created out of “stuff”. According to Christian doctrine, one day Heaven and Earth will essentially be one, and it will be called New Earth, and God will live there. Yes, God plans on spending the rest of eternity on a spherical planet with an atmosphere.
Pillar Number Two
Where am I going with all this? God is not made out of stuff. God does not have an address. God is an immortal mind that exists in an ever present now. The future is a memory to him. He is the foundational object of reality. There are two types of things in existence, created things and God. Everything that is not God, is a created thing, and is trapped in a box it can’t get out of. Remember Eve?
But,” he said, “you cannot see my face, for man shall not see me and live.” – Exodus 33:20
I think a more accurate translation would be, “man cannot see me and exist.” I used to take this verse to mean that God’s “true” form would be too much for us to handle. Now I take it to mean, it is actually impossible to see God in his true form. Not because it’s dangerous to us, but because it’s impossible, the way it’s impossible for Eve to see you in my dream metaphor.
But Adam walked with God in the cool of the day, Abraham saw God, and Moses saw God and talked with him face to face. No, I believe that’s a simplistic explanation of what actually took place.
What people in the old testament experienced was a theophany. An appearance of a pre-incarnate Jesus, which is wholly dissimilar to seeing God, even though Jesus is God.
He [Jesus] is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. – Colossians 1:15
The bible constantly uses the term “image”. There are laws against creating images (idols). The false prophet in the book of Revelation is said to have the power to cause the “image” of the beast to speak. I think this word serves my idea well. From now till eternity, what you see of God will be an image. It’s not actually him.
..he [Jesus] who is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone has immortality, who dwells in unapproachable light, whom no one has ever seen or can see. To him be honor and eternal dominion. Amen. – 1 Timothy 6:15-16
I believe that the correct interpretation of scripture is that no one has ever seen God, nor will ever see God. What we do see of him isn’t really him, just a projection of him, very similar to how your dream characters never actually get to see the real you lying in bed. They only interact with the projection. We can know God, and his will, and interact with him, but we will never see him. He is invisible, and not in the sense of being hidden from the visible light spectrum. I mean invisible as in there’s no way to use your physical senses to differentiate that anything you see in the universe that claims to be God, is actually God, and not just an advanced alien. The only way to tell the difference would be to interact with it using your consciousness (i.e. spiritually discern).
No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known. – John 1:18
I took a go at explaining this theory to someone a few weeks ago. Here’s an excerpt:
“So you’re saying that the new Heaven is still going to be with the projection, interaction, and influence of God but not His real being because He’ll still be outside of our dimension?”
“Yes. It’ll be him, His heart, His mind. But God is not made out of “stuff”. He is not made at all. He is the foundational object of reality. He has always existed and will always exist. The universe, heaven, Angels, Satan, you and me were all created by God. God is a mind. A self existent, immortal, eternal, omnipotent, omnipresent, mind. That loves you and died for you, and also happened to create the universe.”
To me, the idea that God is a mind, and that I am a figment of his imagination, is much more terrifying to me than an alien being on a throne surrounded by a chaotic release of energy. A throne has a mailing address.
By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible. – Hebrews 11:3
Like in Part 1, God has access to both worlds, the world in which only he exists, and our world that he created. He can come to us, but we cannot go to him. We can’t see his metaphorical iPhone, and we can’t see the city lights coming through his metaphorical window. At any moment, God could shut off the dream we’re in and we’d never know we existed, nor miss our departure.
We are character’s in God’s dream. We are pages in a book.
The Devil has Since Changed His Mind
So I was just kidding earlier. You and the Devil don’t actually have that idea in common. We’re a few million years late to the party. I believe now Satan actually knows exactly what God is, and why he cannot win. He realizes, that like Eve, he is trapped inside a box he cannot get out of.
I believe that Satan has realized that he is simply a character in the story God wrote, and cannot resist His will. I believe the Devil has learned his lesson. Like a robot who finally came to realize that he’s just a machine, in utter frustration, he’s out to bring about as much chaos as possible in as little time as possible.
“Therefore, rejoice, O heavens and you who dwell in them! But woe to you, Oh earth and sea, for the devil has come down to you in great wrath, because he knows that his time is short!”