Last time we saw that Isaiah has nothing to say about the fall of Satan. But how can we deny these explicit words?
You were the seal of perfection, full of wisdom and perfect in beauty. You were in Eden, the garden of God…You were anointed as a guardian cherub…You were on the holy mount of God…you were blameless in your ways from the day you were created till wickedness was found in you…So I drove you in disgrace from the mount of God, and I expelled you…Your heart became proud on account of your beauty…So I threw you to the earth.
Ezekiel, like Isaiah, wrote prophecies against various countries, and this one is against the king of Tyre. Tyre was the most prominent of several cities of Phoenicia; today we call the area Lebanon.
The Phoenicians were known for two things. First, they were a sea-faring people who traveled extraordinary distances from Palestine and created colonies all over the Mediterranean. They had important settlements along the coast of North Africa and down the western coast, in Spain, and on many islands that would become part of Italy.
Their most famous colony was Carthage, which became the ruling power of the Mediterranean. In fact, it was the Punic (Phoenician) wars between Rome and Carthage that made Rome into a world power. You may remember Hannibal, who led his army (with elephants) over the Alps to fight the Romans. Throughout more than fifteen years of war, Hannibal won every battle until the battle of the fall of Carthage.
Secondly, the Phoenicians were known as great traders who controlled the Mediterranean trade routes for hundreds of years. Both David and Solomon were buddies with Tyre’s King Hiram, and when Solomon built ships to sail the Gulf of Aqaba Hiram sent experienced sailors to help him in this new venture.
The Phoenician King of Tyre
Ezekiel tells the king of Tyre where he has gone wrong.
In the pride of your heart you say, ‘I am a god; I sit on the throne of a god in the heart of the seas.’ But you are a mere mortal and not a god…By your great skill in trading you have increased your wealth, and because of your wealth your heart has grown proud.
Because you think you are wise, as wise as a god, I am going to bring foreigners against you, the most ruthless of all nations…and you will die a violent death in the heart of the seas. Will you then say, ‘I am a god,’ in the presence of those who kill you? You will be but a mortal, not a god.
Ezekiel continues continues by pointing out the king’s advantage:
Your were the seal of perfection, full of wisdom and perfect in beauty. You were in Eden, the garden of God; every precious stone adorned you: carnelian, chrysolite, and emerald, topaz, onyx and jasper, lapis lazuli, turquoise and beryl…You were anointed as a guardian cherub, for so I ordained you.
Before now, the passage clearly described a man; and a man remains in view. The passage does not suddenly and mysteriously begin to address the fallen Satan instead of the king of Tyre; it addresses the king of Tyre throughout.
The reference to Eden is a metaphor that simply underscores the king’s advantage. His kingdom was like a perfect garden—like Eden. Ezekiel refers to the King of Tyre metaphorically as a guardian cherub, which is another allusion to Genesis.
Satan is no Guardian Cherub!
However, those who think this passage refers to Satan in Eden encounter a difficulty in identifying Satan as a ‘guardian cherub’. The cherub of Genesis was not Satan, but another being posted to guard against trespassers. It could not have been Satan.
The king of Tyre should have been a guardian of his privileged empire, but he was not. Ezekiel describes the king’s misuse of his advantaged position:
You were on the holy mount of God; you walked among the fiery stones. You were blameless in your ways from the day you were created till wickedness was found in you. Through your widespread trade you were filled with violence, and you sinned. So I drove you in disgrace from the mount of God, and I expelled you, O guardian cherub, from among the fiery stones.
Your heart became proud on account of your beauty, and you corrupted your wisdom because of your splendor. So I threw you to the earth; I made a spectacle of you before kings. By your many sins and dishonest trade you have desecrated your sanctuaries…I reduced you to ashes on the ground in the sight of all who were watching. All the nations who knew you are appalled at you.
This chapter has nothing to do with an angelic rebellion and its leader. Rather, it describes wickedness related to violence, dishonest trade, and unnamed sins. The king had all the advantages, but his very success led to the haughtiness to say in his heart, ‘I am a god.’ This is the story of a king living in history, not of an angel acting in prehistory.
Why are the passages from Isaiah and Ezekiel so similar if they refer to different people? The tendency toward pride and self-exaltation is a common failing of kings. Neither Isaiah nor Ezekiel has anything to say about the fall of Satan.
Next time we will see if the New Testament provides any support.
Articles in this series:
Is the Fall of Satan a Myth?
The Fall of Satan in Isaiah 14
The Fall of Satan in Ezekiel 28
The Fall of Satan in Revelation 12
The Fall of Satan in the Book of Enoch
Satan in the Old Testament
Was Satan the Serpent in Eden?
Was Satan in the Desert with Jesus?
Does Satan Exist?
Do Demons Exist?