Why did a Good God create a Bad Devil?

The Bible says that it was the devil (or Satan) in the form of a serpent who temped Adam and Eve to sin and brought about their fall.  But this raises an important question:  Why did God create a ‘bad’ devil (meaning ‘adversary’) to corrupt His good creation?

Lucifer – The Shining One

In fact, the Bible says that God created a powerful, intelligent, and beautiful spirit  who was chief among all angels. His name was Lucifer (meaning ‘Shining One’) – and he was very good.  But Lucifer also had a will with which he could freely choose.  A passage in Isaiah 14 records the choice he had:

How you have fallen from heaven,
morning star, son of the dawn!
You have been cast down to the earth,
you who once laid low the nations!
You said in your heart,
I will ascend to the heavens;
I will raise my throne
above the stars of God;
I will sit enthroned on the mount of assembly,
on the utmost heights of the North.
I will ascend above the tops of the clouds;
I will make myself like the Most High.” (Isaiah 14:12-14)

Lucifer, like Adam, faced a decision.  He could accept that God was God or he could choose to be his own ‘god’.  His repeated “I wills” show that he chose to defy God and declare himself to be ‘Most High’.  A passage in Ezekiel gives a parallel description of the fall of Lucifer:

You were in Eden, the garden of God.
…  I ordained and anointed you
as the mighty angelic guardian.
You had access to the holy mountain of God
and walked among the stones of fire.
“You were blameless in all you did
from the day you were created
until the day evil was found in you.
… and you sinned.
So I banished you in disgrace
from the mountain of God.
I expelled you, O mighty guardian,
from your place among the stones of fire.
Your heart was filled with pride
because of all your beauty.
Your wisdom was corrupted
by your love of splendor.
So I threw you to the ground.  (Ezekiel 28:13-17)

Lucifer’s beauty, wisdom and power – all the good things created in him by God – led to pride.  His pride led to his rebellion, but he never lost any of his power and abilities.  He is now leading a cosmic revolt against his Creator to see who will be God.  His strategy was to enlist mankind to join him – by tempting them to the same choice that he made – to love themselves, become independent from God, and defy Him.  The heart of the test of Adam’s will was the same as Lucifer’s; it was just presented differently.  They both chose to be ‘god’ to themselves.

Satan – working through others

The passage in Isaiah is directed to the ‘King of Babylon’ and the Ezekiel passage is addressed to the ‘King of Tyre’.  But from the descriptions given, it is clear that no human is addressed.  The “I wills” in Isaiah describe someone who was thrown to the earth in punishment for wanting to place his throne above the throne of God.  The passage in Ezekiel addresses an ‘angelic guardian’ who once moved in Eden and the ‘mountain of God’.  Satan (or Lucifer) often puts himself behind or through someone else.  In Genesis he speaks through the serpent.  In Isaiah he rules through the King of Babylon, and in Ezekiel he possesses the King of Tyre.

Why did Lucifer revolt against God?

But why did Lucifer want to challenge the all-powerful and all-knowing Creator?  Part of being ‘smart’ is to know whether or not you can defeat your opponent.  Lucifer may have power, but that would still be insufficient to defeat His Creator.  Why lose everything for something he could not win?  I would think that a ‘smart’ angel would have recognized his limitations against God – and hold back his revolt.  So why didn’t he?  This question puzzled me for many years.

Then I realized that Lucifer could only believe that God was His all-powerful Creator by faith – the same as for us.  The Bible suggests that angels were created in creation week.  For example, a passage in Job tells us:

Then the LORD spoke to Job out of the storm. He said…
“Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation?
Tell me, if you understand….
while the morning stars sang together
and all the angels shouted for joy? (Job 38:1-7)

Imagine that Lucifer was created and became conscious in creation week, somewhere in the universe. All he knows is that now he exists and is self-aware, and also that there is another Being who claims that He has created Lucifer and the universe. But how does Lucifer know that this claim is true?  Perhaps, this so-called creator had popped into existence in the stars just before Lucifer popped into existence. And because this ‘creator’ arrived earlier on the scene, he was (perhaps) more powerful and (perhaps) more knowledgeable than Lucifer – but then again perhaps not.  Perhaps both he and the ‘creator’ just popped into existence simultaneously.  Lucifer could only accept God’s Word to him that He had created him, and that God himself was eternal and infinite. But in his pride he chose to believe his fantasy instead.

Maybe it seems doubtful that Lucifer would believe that both he and God (and the other angels) just ‘popped’ into existence.  But this is the same basic idea behind the latest thinking in modern cosmology.  There was a cosmic fluctuation of nothing, and then out of this fluctuation arose the universe – that is the essence of modern cosmology theories.  Fundamentally, everyone – from Lucifer to Richard Dawkins & Stephen Hawkings to you & me – must decide by faith whether the universe is self-contained or was created and sustained by a Creator God.

In other words, seeing is not believing.  Lucifer had seen and talked with God. But he still had to accept ‘by faith’ that God had created him.  Many people say that if God would just ‘appear’ to them, then they would believe.  But in the Bible many people saw and heard God – but still did not take Him at His word.  The issue was whether they would accept and trust His Word about Himself and themselves.  From Adam & Eve, to Cain & Abel, to Noah, to the Egyptians at the first Passover, to the Israelite crossing of the Red Sea and to those who saw the miracles of Jesus – ‘seeing’ never resulted in trust.  The fall of Lucifer is consistent with this.

What is the Devil doing today?

So according to the Bible, God did not make a ‘bad devil’, but created a powerful and intelligent angelic being.   Through pride he has led a revolt against God – and in doing so was corrupted, while still keeping his original splendor.  You, I and all of mankind have become part of the battleground in this contest between God and his ‘adversary’ (devil).  The strategy of the devil is not to wear sinister black cloaks like ‘Black Riders’ in the Lord of the Rings and put evil curses on us.  Instead he seeks to deceive us from the redemption that God had promised at the beginning of time through Abraham, through Moses, and then accomplished in the death and resurrection of Jesus.  As the Bible says:

Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. It is not surprising, then, if his servants also masquerade as servants of righteousness. (2 Corinthians 11:14-15)

Because Satan and his servants can masquerade as ‘light’ we are more easily tricked.  Perhaps this is why the Gospel always seems to run against our instincts and against all cultures.

What is the History of the Jewish People?

Jews are one of the most ancient peoples in the world. Their history is recorded in the Bible, by historians outside of the Bible, and through archeology. We have more facts about their history than that of any other nation. We will use this information to summarize their history.  To make the history of the Israelites (an Old Testament word for the Jewish people) easier to follow, we will use timelines.

Abraham: The Jewish Family Tree Begins

The timeline starts with Abraham. He was given a promise of nations coming from him and had encounters with God ending in the symbolic sacrifice of his son Isaac.  This sacrifice was a sign pointing to Jesus by marking the future location where Jesus would be sacrificed. The timeline continues in green when Isaac’s descendants were slaves in Egypt. This period of time started when Joseph, grandson of Isaac, led the Israelites to Egypt, where later on they became slaves.

bible timeline with abraham and moses in history
Living in Egypt as slaves of Pharoah

Moses: The Israelites become a Nation under God

Moses led the Israelites out of Egypt by the Passover Plague, which destroyed Egypt and allowed the Israelite Exodus from Egypt to the land of Israel. Before he died, Moses announced Blessings and Curses on the Israelites (when the timeline goes from green to yellow).  They would be Blessed if they obeyed God, but experience a Curse if they did not.  These Blessings & Curses were to follow the Jewish people ever after.

bible historical timeline from Abraham to david

For several hundred years the Israelites lived in their land but they did not have a King, nor did they have the capital city of Jerusalem – it belonged to other people in this time. However, with King David around 1000 BC this changed.

historical timeline Living with Davidic Kings ruling from Jerusalem
Living with Davidic Kings ruling from Jerusalem

David establishes a Royal Dynasty at Jerusalem

David conquered Jerusalem and made it his capital city. He received the promise of a coming ‘Christ’ and from that time on the Jewish people waited for the ‘Christ’ to come.  His son Solomon succeeded him and Solomon built the First Jewish Temple in Jerusalem. The descendants of King David continued to rule for about 400 years and this period is shown in aqua-blue (1000 – 600 BC).  This was the period of Israelite glory – they had the promised Blessings.  They were a powerful nation, had an advanced society, culture, and their Temple. But the Old Testament also describes their growing corruption and idol worship during this time.  Many prophets in this period warned the Israelites that the Curses of Moses would come on them if they did not change. But these warnings were ignored.

The First Jewish Exile to Babylon

Finally around 600 BC the Curses happened. Nebuchadnezzar, a powerful Babylonian King came – just like Moses had predicted 900 years before when he wrote in his Curse:

The Lord will bring a nation against you from far away … a fierce-looking nation without respect for the old or pity for the young. … They will besiege all the cities throughout the land. (Deuteronomy 28: 49-52)

Nebuchadnezzar conquered Jerusalem, burned it, and destroyed the Temple that Solomon had built. He then exiled the Israelites to Babylon. Only the poor Israelites remained behind. This fulfilled the predictions of Moses that

You will be uprooted from the land you are entering to possess. Then the Lord will scatter you among all nations, from one end of the earth to the other. (Deuteronomy 28:63-64)

jewish historical timeline Conquered and exiled to Babylon
Conquered and exiled to Babylon

So for 70 years, the period shown in red, the Israelites lived as exiles outside the land promised to Abraham and his descendants.

Return from Exile under the Persians

After that, the Persian Emperor Cyrus conquered Babylon and Cyrus became the most powerful person in the world. He permitted the Israelites to return to their land.

jewish historial timeline Living in the Land as a part of Persian Empire
Living in the Land as a part of Persian Empire

However they were no longer an independent country, they were now a province in the Persian Empire.  This continued for 200 years and is in pink in the timeline. During this time the Jewish Temple (known as the 2nd Temple) and the city of Jerusalem were rebuilt.

The period of the Greeks

Then Alexander the Great conquered the Persian Empire and made the Israelites a province in the Greek Empires for another 200 years. This is shown in dark blue.

jewish historical timeline Living in the Land as part of Greek Empires
Living in the Land as part of Greek Empires

The Period of the Romans

Then the Romans defeated the Greek Empires and they became the dominant world power. The Israelites again became a province in this Empire and it is shown in light yellow. This is the time when Jesus lived.  This explains why there are Roman soldiers in the gospels – because the Romans ruled the Jews in the Land of Israel during the life of Jesus.

jewish historical timeline Living in the Land as part of Roman Empire
Living in the Land as part of Roman Empire

The Second Jewish exile under the Romans

From the time of the Babylonians (600 BC) the Israelites (or Jews as they were called now) had not been independent as they had been under the Kings of David. They were ruled by other Empires.  The Jews resented this and they revolted against Roman rule. The Romans came and destroyed Jerusalem (70 AD), burned down the 2nd Temple, and deported the Jews as slaves across the Roman Empire. This was the second Jewish exile. Since Rome was so big the Jews were scattered across the whole world.

Jerusalem and Temple destroyed by Romans in 70 AD. Jews sent into world-wide exile
Jerusalem and Temple destroyed by Romans in 70 AD. Jews sent into world-wide exile

And this is how the Jewish people lived for almost 2000 years: dispersed in foreign lands and never accepted in these lands. In these different nations they regularly suffered great persecutions.  This persecution of the Jews was particularly true in Christian Europe.  From Spain, in Western Europe, to Russia the Jews lived often in a dangerous situations in these Christian kingdoms. The Curses of Moses back in 1500 BC were accurate descriptions of how they lived.

… Among those nations you will find no repose, no resting place for the sole of your foot. There the Lord will give you an anxious mind, eyes weary with longing, and a despairing heart. (Deuteronomy 28:65)

The Curses against the Israelites were given to make peoples ask:

All the nations will ask: “Why has the Lord done this to this land? Why this fierce, burning anger?”

And the answer was:

“ … the Lord uprooted them from their land and thrust them into another land…” (Deuteronomy 29:24-25)

The timeline below shows this 1900 year period. This period is shown in a long red bar.

Historical Timeline of the Jews - featuring their two periods of exile
Historical Timeline of the Jews – featuring their two periods of exile

You can see that in their history the Jewish people went through two periods of exile but the second exile was much longer than the first exile.

The 20th Century Holocaust

Then the persecutions against the Jews reached their peak when Hitler, through Nazi Germany, tried to exterminate all the Jews living in Europe. He almost succeeded but he was defeated and a remnant of Jews survived.

Modern Re-birth of Israel

Just the fact that there were people who identified themselves as ‘Jews’ after many hundreds of years without a homeland was remarkable. But this allowed the final words of Moses, written down 3500 years ago, to come true.  In 1948 the Jews, through the United Nations, saw the remarkable re-birth of the modern state of Israel, as Moses had written centuries before:

…then the Lord your God will restore your fortunes and have compassion on you and gather you again from all the nations where he scattered you. Even if you have been banished to the most distant land under the heavens, from there the Lord your God will gather you and bring you back. (Deuteronomy 30:3-4)

It was also remarkable since this state was built in spite of great opposition. Most of the surrounding nations waged war against Israel in 1948 … in 1956 … in 1967 and again in 1973. Israel, a very small nation, often was at war with five nations at the same time. Yet not only did Israel survive, but the territories increased. In the war of 1967 the Jews regained Jerusalem, their historic capital city David had founded 3000 years ago.  The result of the creation of the state of Israel, and the consequences from these wars has created one of the most difficult political problems of our world today.