It would seem from the context of Ezekiel 28 that the first ten verses of this chapter are dealing with a human leader. Then, starting in verse 11 and on through verse 19, Lucifer is the focus of the discussion:
Moreover, the word of the LORD came to me: "Son of man, raise a lamentation over the king of Tyre, and say to him, Thus says the Lord GOD: "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 on 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 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 28:11-19)
The Fall of Lucifer in the Bible
What is the rationale for the conclusion that these latter verses refer to the fall of Lucifer? Whereas the first ten verses in this chapter speak about the ruler of Tyre (who was condemned for claiming to be a god though he was just a man), the discussion moves to the king of Tyre starting in verse 11. Many scholars believe that though there was a human “ruler” of Tyre, the real “king” of Tyre was Satan, for it was he who was ultimately at work in this anti-God city and it was he who worked through the human ruler of the city.
Some have suggested that these verses may actually be dealing with a human king of Tyre who was empowered by Satan. Perhaps the historic king of Tyre was a tool of Satan, possibly even indwelt by him. In describing this king, Ezekiel also gives us glimpses of the superhuman creature, Satan, who was using, if not indwelling, him.
Now, there are things that are true of this “king” that—at least ultimately—can not be said to be true of human beings. For example, the king is portrayed as having a different nature from man (he is a cherub, verse 14); he had a different position from man (he was blameless and sinless, verse 15); he was in a different realm from man (the holy mount of God, verses 13,14); he received a different judgment from man (he was cast out of the mountain of God and thrown to the earth, verse 16); and the superlatives used to describe him don’t seem to fit that of a normal human being (“full of wisdom,” “perfect in beauty,” and having “the seal of perfection,” verse 12 NASB).
Who Is Lucifer, Why Did He Rebel?
Our text tells us that this king was a created being and left the creative hand of God in a perfect state (Ezekiel 28:12-15). And he remained perfect in his ways until iniquity was found in him (Ezekiel 28:15b). What was this iniquity? We read in Ezekiel 28:17, “Your heart became proud on account of your beauty, and you corrupted your wisdom because of your splendor.” Lucifer apparently became so impressed with his own beauty, intelligence, power, and position that he began to desire for himself the honor and glory that belonged to God alone. The sin that corrupted Lucifer was self-generated pride.
Apparently, this represents the actual beginning of sin in the universe—preceding the fall of the human Adam by an indeterminate time. Sin originated in the free will of Lucifer in which—with a full understanding of the issues involved—he chose to rebel against the Creator.
This mighty angelic being was rightfully judged by God: “I threw you to the earth” (Ezekiel 28:18). This doesn’t mean that Satan had no further access to heaven, for other Scripture verses clearly indicate that Satan maintained this access even after his fall (Job 1:6-12; Zechariah 3:1,2). However, Ezekiel 28:18 indicates that Satan was absolutely and completely cast out of God’s heavenly government and his place of authority (Luke 10:18).
Isaiah 14, verses 12 through 17, is another Old Testament passage that may refer to the fall of Lucifer. We must be frank in admitting that some Bible scholars see no reference whatsoever to Lucifer in this passage. It is argued that the being mentioned in this verse is referred to as a man (Isaiah 14:16); is compared with other kings on the earth (verse 18); and the words, “How you have fallen from heaven” (verse 12), is alleged to refer to a fall from great political heights.
"How you are fallen from heaven, O Day Star, son of Dawn! How you are cut down to the ground, you who laid the nations low! 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 overthrew its cities, who did not let his prisoners go home?' (Isaiah 14:12-17)
There are other scholars who interpret this passage as referring only to the fall of Lucifer, with no reference whatsoever to a human king. The argument here is that the description of this being is beyond humanness and hence could not refer to a mere mortal man.
There is a third view that I think is preferable to the two views above. This view sees Isaiah 14:12-17 as having a dual reference. It may be that verses 4 through 11 deal with an actual king of Babylon. Then, in verses 12 through 17, we find a dual reference that includes not just the king of Babylon but a typological description of Lucifer as well.
If this passage contains a reference to the fall of Lucifer, then the pattern of this passage would seem to fit that of the Ezekiel 28 reference—that is, first a human leader is described, and then the dual reference is made to a human leader and Satan.
It is significant that the language used to describe this fits other passages in the Bible that speak about Satan. For example, the five “I wills” in Isaiah 14 indicate an element of pride, which was also evidenced in Ezekiel 28:17 (cf. 1 Timothy 3:6 which makes reference to Satan’s conceit).
As a result of this heinous sin against God, Lucifer was banished from living in heaven (Isaiah 14:12). He became corrupt, and his name changed from Lucifer (“morning star”) to Satan (“adversary”). His power became completely perverted (Isaiah 14:12,16,17). And his destiny, following the second coming of Christ, is to be bound in a pit during the 1000-year millennial kingdom over which Christ will rule (Revelation 20:3), and eventually will be thrown into the lake of fire (Matthew 25:41).
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Ron Rhodes, president of Reasoning from the Scriptures Ministries, is heard regularly on nationwide radio and is the author of Christianity According to the Bible and The 10 Things You Need to Know About Islam. He holds Th.M. and Th.D. degrees from Dallas Theological Seminary. Visit his website at ronrhodes.org.
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