Lucifer and the Fall of the Universe (before the creation of the Earth)
In all my years as a Christian, this sermon by Dr. W. A. Criswell was, by far, one of my most favorites. It brought clarity and understanding in a profound and dynamic way to one of the most important Bible messages to all of Christendom. Here are excerpts from his message "The Fall of Lucifer" delivered on October 16, 1983. Listen now as he illuminates the moment of the fall of creation and all that would follow.
Excerpts (full sermon can be seen here):
Remember, his ambition stated in the Bible is not to be a fiend. It is to be like God; brilliant, omnipotent. First, we shall look upon him as an angel of light. That’s what Paul calls him in 2 Corinthians 11:14; and then second we shall behold the fury of his fall. Now as a background text, our Lord said in Luke 10:18, “I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven. I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven.” Now, let’s begin: a survey, a summary survey of the life of Lucifer. In the beginning of unknown infinitude of time, before time was created, before the world and the universe were created, so far as we know, the first revealed act of God was the creation of the angelic hosts.
When you read in the Bible the phrase, “the Lord of hosts,” it refers to the host of heaven: Lord sabaoth, the “Lord of hosts,” the angelic hosts of heaven. The first revealed act of God was the creation of the angelic hosts of heaven; they are uncountable, multitudinous, innumerable. In the Book of the Revelation, the Greek calls them “myriads, upon myriads, upon myriads.” Ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands [Revelation 5:11], it’s translated in the King James Version, a vast innumerable multitude, the angelic hosts of heaven [Hebrews 12:22]. And they were created before the universe, before matter and time were created.
In the thirty-eighth chapter of the Book of Job, we are told that the angelic hosts, the sons of God, the angels of glory looked upon the marvelous creation of our universe with joy, and wonder, and amazement, and gladness [Job 38:7]. They watched God in the creation of the stars, the planets, the universes, the galaxies, and this earth. Now, in that creation of the angelic hosts of heaven, God also created the most perfect and the most beautiful, the most glorious of all of the angelic creatures that He had created. God created Lucifer, and He made him the “son of the morning” [Isaiah 14:12]. Lucifer, light bearer, to be the leader of the angels of heaven and the guardian of the throne of God Himself [Ezekiel 28:14]. He made him above all of the other creations in God’s created heaven and earth.
In the twenty-eighth chapter of the Book of Ezekiel, he is described: Thou sealest up the sum, full of wisdom, and perfect in beauty... Thou art the anointed - that’s the Hebrew word for Messiah— thou art the anointed cherub that covereth, that guards: 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 28:12, 14] He must have been brilliantly, beautifully created. Diamonds and rubies and emeralds and jewels adorned his very walk.
“Thou was perfect in thy ways from the day that thou was created” [Ezekiel 28:15]. This Lucifer was so alluring and so beautiful until he was able to take out of the hand of God one-third of all of the multitude of that angelic host [Revelation 12:4]. And we read of his fall in these two places: First, in the twenty-eighth chapter of Ezekiel. Thou wast perfect in thy ways from the day that thou was created, until— and that “until” is the crisis point of God’s whole universe— until iniquity was found in thee. Thine heart was lifted up because of thine beauty. Thou hast corrupted thy wisdom by reason of thy brightness. [Ezekiel 28:15, 17].
And the fourteenth chapter of the Book of Isaiah describes that fall. Isaiah 14:12, “How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer,” his name means light bearer, “son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground! For thou hast said in thine heart,” and here are five “I wills”:
I will ascend into heaven,
I will exalt my throne above the angels of God:
I will sit upon the mount of the congregation . . .
I will ascend above the heights of the clouds;
I will be like the Most High, Almighty God Himself. [Isaiah 14:13-14]
“Yet thou shall be brought down to hell, to the sides of the pit” [Isaiah 14:15]. The beauty and the glory and the splendor and the brilliance of Lucifer brought pride to his heart, and he envied God Himself. And I repeat, so alluring and becoming and attractive is this creature, Lucifer, that he was able—according to the twelfth chapter of the Book of the Revelation— to take after him, to pull after him, the file leader of one-third of the angels of glory [Revelation 12:4].
Lucifer and all of the angelic hosts were created as we were; with choice, the ability to choose, to will, to possess volition. God never created them as robots; He didn’t create us as a robot. Nor did God create them impersonally. A mountain cannot talk back to God. An ocean or a star or a planet cannot think God’s thoughts after Him. God created the angelic hosts with personality and with choice, and this Lucifer was able to bring out of the reverence and adoration of God one-third of all of the multitudinous angelic hosts. They followed him; they chose him [Revelation 12:4].
And he became known to us therein as Satan, the adversary —he became known to us as diabolos, devil, the accuser, the slanderer [Matthew 4:1]. Now in that fall there also came to pass the tragedy, the trauma, that we see in our created universe. They looked upon the perfect work of God; anything God would do would be without imperfection. It would be beautiful and perfect, and the angelic hosts looked upon the creation of God, this earth, our system, the whole universe of starry galaxies above and beyond us, the angelic hosts looked upon that creation with marvelous joy and amazement [Job 38:7].
But when Satan fell and brought sin into God’s world, the world also fell. In the first verse of the first chapter of Genesis, God created the heavens and the earth [Genesis 1:1]. They were perfect and beautiful, and the angels looked upon it with joy and amazement [Job 38:7]. The second verse of the first chapter of Genesis, “And the earth and the heavens became void and dark and waste” [Genesis 1:2]. That was the result of the entrance of sin into the universe. That was the result of the fall of Satan. And wherever sin enters into any place, anywhere in creation, it brings chaos, and darkness, and void. So the universe fell in the fall of Satan
When God looked upon His fallen creation—the stars that are burned out, all of the dearth, and death, and blackness, and sterility of the whole creation of God—when the Lord looked upon the waste and the void, He chose one planet called “Earth” to regenerate, to rejuvenate, to remake, to reconstruct. And God did that in six days; He recreated this fallen earth and He made it beautiful and perfect [Genesis 1:3-31]. And He called it “the garden of Eden.” And in that garden, He set the man that He created [Genesis 2:8], and finding him living alone, made for him an help meet and brought her to him [Genesis 2:18, 21-22]. And they were given the dominion of the earth [Genesis 1:26-28]; it was his, Adam’s.
And God said to Adam, “Have dominion over it,” and when he brought Eve, He said, “And replenish the earth [Genesis 1:28]. It is yours. The title deed is in your name. The earth belongs to you.” On the outside of the garden of Eden, lies that sinister, evil, subtle, serpent, Satan [Genesis 3:1]. And he sits there, he walks there, he lies there in vindictiveness. This is his creation; the whole creation has been given into his hands [2 Corinthians 4:4]. And when he hears God say, “This earth is yours, the title deed is yours,” Satan in his bitter and vindictive jealousy, watches, and he sees something—Adam loved Eve. And Satan says in his heart, “If I can get the woman, I’ll get the man,”
The Bible plainly says that Satan deceived Eve [1 Timothy 2:14]. He didn’t deceive Adam. Adam chose to die with Eve rather than live without her. “I can get the woman; I’ll get the man,” and he did. He came before the woman in the incarnation of the most beautiful of all of the animal creation—the serpent that you see is slimy, moves on his belly, he’s cursed—but in the beginning, he was beautiful and subtle and could talk. And he said to the woman, “Eve, you will be as of God Himself if you will eat of this forbidden tree” [Genesis 3:4-5]. Doesn’t that sound familiar to you? Isn’t that what Satan had in his own heart? “I want to be as God” [Isaiah 14:14], and she listened to the siren, subtle voice of the serpent, and she fell and Adam fell [Genesis 3:1-6], and therein the title deed was wrested from the authority and hands of Adam and was seized by Satan himself. He now has the title deed of this earth; it belongs to him.
In the temptation in the fourth chapter of the Book of Luke, Satan says to the Lord Jesus, “The glories of the kingdoms of the world, I will give it to You if You will fall down and worship me because it has been delivered unto me! It has been delivered unto me” [Luke 4:5-7]. It was given to Satan; and in John 12 [John 12:31], and in John 14 [John 14:30], and in John 16 [John 16:11]; our Lord says Satan is the ruler of this world. And in the second Corinthian letter, chapter 4, Paul calls him “the god of this world” [2 Corinthians 4:4]. The title deed of this earth passed from the hand of Adam to Satan when he fell in the garden of Eden [Genesis 3:1-6].
And thereafter, the story of Satan is the story of the Bible. He listened to God when the Lord said, “The Seed of the woman shall crush his head; the Seed of the woman” [Genesis 3:15]. And all through the millennia since, Satan has been trying to destroy the Seed of the woman. And finally, he did it on a place called Calvary [Luke 23:33], they nailed the Seed of the woman to the cross and Satan watched Him die [Matthew 27:32-50]. With what glee and with what indescribable triumph and gladness did Satan exult over the death of the Son of God, “Israel has slain her own Son!” [Acts 3:13-15].
But there was a secret hidden in the heart of the Almighty; out of the death of Christ, His blood and suffering [Matthew 27:32-50], and out of the resurrection of the glorious triumphant Son of Man [Matthew 28:1-7], a secret God had in His mind and purpose and plan, this age of grace [Colossians 1:27]. The prophets never saw it, the Old Testament never wrote of it, Satan never dreamed of it— that out of the blood, and suffering, and cross, and death, and tears, and pathos of our Lord, was to be the gospel of the grace of the Son of God that washes our sins away [Acts 22:16], and makes us members of the redeemed family of the Lord [1 Peter 1:18-19]—this age of grace [Romans 6:14]; and therein and thereafter, the story of his persecution of the people of God. “And the dragon was wroth and went to make war with her seed, who keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ”
To think of Satan as being in hell and stoking the fires of damnation is of all things alien to the revelation of God and the truth of human experience. In no way is Satan a ridiculous, grotesque figure, he is the brilliant creation of Almighty God. He is Lucifer, “the son of the morning.”
[Revelation 12:17], hear it! Now the third: the end time, the final judgment; in the twelfth chapter of the Revelation: Lucifer is thrown out of heaven and coming down to the earth [Revelation 12:9], the great tribulation, and it ends in the battle of Armageddon [Revelation 16:15]. And at the end of the battle of Armageddon, the great mighty angel comes down and sets a seal upon Satan in the bottomless pit [Revelation 20:1-3]. And after a thousand years, he is loosed for just a season [Revelation 20:7], and then he rises in the final opposition and confrontation to God Almighty, and this time he is cast into the lake of fire forever and ever and ever [Revelation 20:7-10].
One of most astonishing of all the developments in Christendom and in human history is this, that he is presented to the world in caricature a foolish, grotesque, ridiculous person; he has horns, he has a forked tail, he has a pitchfork, he has a red suit, and he stokes the coals of and the fires of hell and damnation. There’s nobody in hell yet! The first one there is the beast, the second one there is the false prophet [Revelation 19:20], and the third one there is Satan [Revelation 20:10], and the fourth there are those who follow him [Revelation 20:11-15]. To think of Satan as being in hell and stoking the fires of damnation is of all things alien to the revelation of God and the truth of human experience. In no way is Satan a ridiculous, grotesque figure, he is the brilliant creation of Almighty God. He is Lucifer, “the son of the morning” [Isaiah 14:12], and Paul describes him, as I say, as “the angel of light” [2 Corinthians 11:14].
Look! This man, this creation, this Lucifer, in his person and in his presence, dares to defy and to rival the almighty omnipotent God Himself! And not only that, but his ambition was not to become a fiend, but to become like God [Isaiah 14:14]. that in all of the outworking of Satan’s doings, our experience with him in this world —an angel of light. He is in favor of excellence, and of conquest, and of progress, and of achievement, only leave God out of it! He is in favor of social amelioration and betterment, good government, only leave God out of it! And he is the patron of arts, and culture, and literature, and science, and the mass media, only leave God out of it! He’s an angel of light [2 Corinthians 11:14].
Lucifer, the “son of the morning” [Isaiah 14:12], brilliant. He presides over the educational systems of the world. He delights in that learned professor as he lectures on the ableness of man to save himself: self-salvation. He has the answers to all the problems. He delights in academic classroom lecturing; only leave God out of it! You call it “humanism.” I can just listen to Satan as he stands in the classrooms of the universities of the world and the high schools of the world, and he lectures on evolution. There is not a hypothesis as preposterous and unthinkable and indefensible in human imagination as evolution; that something came out of nothing! But, he is the brilliant angel of light, and he can stand in the presence of young men and women and lecture on the most impossible, hypothetical, imagination ever comes to the mind of man and do it excellently, beautifully.
Full sermon can be found here.