Looking at the Devil, Demons and Hell
By Shmuel Golding
Essential to Christianity is the belief in the devil.
The devil comes up throughout the New Testament where he is considered to be on par with G-d.
We are moving into the 21st Century, but fundamental Christianity is still in the Middle Ages. What is generally seen by rational minds as myth, superstition and legend, is clung to, and revered as being the divinely inspired word of G-d by fundamentalists.
"The times of ignorance which G-d winked at," according to Paul or the "looking through a glass darkly,"--and "the putting away of childish things," these exhortations of Paul have not yet reached into the minds of today's fundamentalists.
Ever since there has been a New Testament, there have been preachers of hell, damnation, and fire and brimstone. "The Devil," we are told, "goes around like a roaring lion seeking to devour us" (1 Peter 5:8) and because he is so successful, "hell has enlarged herself." (Isa 5:14).
In fact, the fundamentalists, particularly the Pentecostals, are so aware of, and versed in scriptures about the devil and demons, that it would appear they know more about, and are closer to the devil than they are to G-d. The fundamentalists actually praise the devil.
They (and Mormons) have been taught by their New Testament that he is "the god of this world," that the devil is the ruler of all of the kingdoms of this world. The New Testament teaches that Jesus, as G-d incarnate in man, was tempted by the devil who offered to give him all the kingdoms of the world if Jesus would bow down and worship him. (Matt 4:9).
Cruden's Concordance states that, "The devil fell from heaven with a great company of demons, that G-d cast him down from thence for the punishment of his pride, that by his envy and malice, sin, death, and all other evils, came into the world."
It continues that "He is a lying spirit in the mouth of the false prophets, that he and his demons torment and possess men, and inspire them with evil designs as he did when he tempted David to number the Israelites, and to Judas to betray his lord, and to Ananais and Sapphira to conceal the price of their field. In a word, that he is the enemy of G-d and man, and uses his utmost endeavors to rob G-d of his glory and men of their souls."
When anyone is sick the Pentecostals blame the devil and--like the
Mormons--by the "laying on of hands," try to cast out imaginary demons.
They have a demon for everything.
A demon of lust, a demon of ambition, a demon of chance, etc. In their darkened minds an epileptic is a person possessed by a demon and a person dying of cancer has a demon that is the root cause of his sickness. An alcoholic is possessed by a demon of lust, etc.
For someone to believe that the devil is the god of this world, and to accredit him with so much power and success, is giving this devil which the New Testament has created, praise and glory which does not belong to him.
To blame all sicknesses on the devil is to boost his ego, and if the devil is seen by Christianity as being 'lifted up on high' it is because they have lifted him up. They have made him so proud by praising him for things which he never has done nor attempted to do.
To blame the devil for war and poverty, famine, and earthquakes and for all the ills of mankind -- to put the devil on the heels of every man, woman and child, is giving him the omnipresence and the omnipotence which belong only to G-d.
The New Testament abounds in expressions of devil, damnation and hell and with thundering force they are employed in the pulpits. It should be pointed out that all terminology such as devil, demon, damnation, and hell can only be found in the New Testament. Take a concordance, it will have to be a Christian one, and see for yourself.
Only one who is weak and unlearned can ever be changed by the fear of hell, the threat of damnation and the belief in the devil, and he should have to be very naive to believe the myths and legends of the New Testament.
Yet, sad to say, there are many who are deceived by the sadistic preachers of the Christian gospel who tell us that all these so-called truths are to be found in the Hebrew Bible. We will examine five passages in the Hebrew Bible they claim to be referring to the devil.
a) Gen. 3:15
In Christian belief the devil first manifested himself in the serpent. Cruden's Concordance says:
"The devil is called a serpent, Rev 12:9, both because he hid himself in the body of a real serpent when he seduced the first woman, and because of his serpentine disposition, being a subtle, crafty, and dangerous enemy to mankind."
In Gen. 2, we have the story, yet nowhere in this account do we read about the devil. Nowhere is the serpent considered to be a spirit or a fallen angel. It clearly states that the serpent was a beast of the field and what is more, it says, "which the L-rd created."
We also see that the serpent was completely powerless and had to accept his punishment.
Fundamentalists believe that Gen. 3 vs 15 was fulfilled by Jesus. He, they say, was the seed of the woman (Mary), and the serpent being the devil bruised Jesus on the cross, but yet if that is the case, the verse states that he will bruise his head. When did Jesus bruise the devil's head?
1 John 3:8-9 states, "The son of God appeared for this purpose, that he might destroy the works of the devil," and Hebrews 2:14 says, "...through his death he might render powerless him who had the power of death, that is the devil."
But everyone knows that sin and death are still around, therefore it is clear that the works of satan have not been destroyed, and that Jesus by his death did not render satan powerless. Paul states in 1 Thess 2:18, "For we wanted to come to you, I, Paul more than once, and yet Satan thwarted us."
b) Ezekiel 28:2-20
In the opinion of the fundamentalists Ezekiel chapter 28 describes the devil who has put himself on par with G-d, "I sit in the seat of G-d," and they believe that the devil has such power that he sought to take over from G-d (vs 6).
According to Rev 9:11, he is seen as the angel of the bottomless pit which [supposedly] corresponds to v. 8 of Ezek. 28, "They shall bring thee down to the pit."
In the second part of this prophecy which begins at v. 11, the fundamentalists erroneously believe that the passage is still talking about the same person and even though one can see from the text that this is a lamentation about another character, yet they put these two lamentations together and continue to say in their ignorance that these words are being addressed to the devil. "Thou hast been in Eden the garden of G-d" (verse 13), "Thou art the anointed cherub that covereth," (verse 14).
To the fundamentalist's mind, these verses are describing the angel with the flaming sword who was placed as a guardian to the tree of life, (Gen. 3:23-24). And as that took place before Satan became lifted up with pride, as a result he was cast out, thus vs. 17, "I will cast thee to the ground," and commenting on this, Jesus said, (Luke 10:18) "I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven."
At the end of the lamentation, Ezek. 28:19, "thou shalt be a terror, and never shalt thou be any more" is because they believe Jesus will shortly bruise Satan under the feet of his followers, (Romans 16:20).
But this chapter in Ezekiel contains two prophecies, not one. The first is addressed to the prince (nagid) of Tyre. This word stems from nagad: to be in front o hence a leader. The second lamentation is addressed to the king, (melech).
"I am a god," refers to the nagid's pride, not that he was a god. He thought of himself as a god, as indeed did most of the pagan rulers including the Caesars. The Hebrew word, (el) literally means "power", as seen in Ezekiel 17:13, "The mighty of the land," see also Ezek. 31:11.
However this earthly prince is reminded, "thou art a man," (vs. 2). Fundamentalists believe the devil is a spirit, not a man.
"Set your heart as the heart of G-d," (verse 7) means that he imagined himself all-powerful, a god of his people. Yet his power came not by supernatural means, but by trading in gold, silver, and many treasures, (vs. 4). If this prince is the devil, then who are "the strangers, the most terrible of nations" (vs. 7) who will conquer his kingdom? Eden, the garden of G-d, describes his stately palace which was like Eden.
Covering Cherub cannot be referring to the cherub guarding the tree of life, for if so, who is guarding it now? If he was cast out, then the world is free to go and take a bite and live forever. It must be pointed out that the word, (keruv) in Hebrew simply means a guardian or a protector, therefore this prince was a protector of all his subjects over whom he ruled.
If the devil was the serpent which tempted Eve as claimed by the fundamentalists, then one must remind them that he was punished and made to crawl on his belly, so how is it possible that the same devil could immediately afterwards become the covering angel?
"I have cast thee down" means G-d will humble this powerful man and bring him down a peg or two. There is no mention of falling from heaven like lightening.
In fact, this is not a prophecy, but a dirge, it is a poem about something that happened years before during the reign of Hiram, King of Tyre, as seen in Ezekiel 27:32-36.
c) Daniel 10:13
In Daniel 10:13, the Hebrew describes a "sar malkut," a heavenly prince of the Persian kingdom. This prince opposed the angel carrying a message to Daniel. Michael, the archangel, was called to help deliver the message.
Fundamentalists believe that because this heavenly prince hindered the angel carrying the message, that he must be the devil. What is seen here is simply that the guardian angel of the Persian kingdom delayed Daniel's answer for 21 days. He is not a devil, on the contrary, he is called a heavenly prince and he was doing his duty to the country over which he was appointed.
d) Isa 14:12
The fundamentalists often quote Isa 14:12 which they believe is referring to the devil and even calls his by his name. "How are you fallen from heaven, Oh, Lucifer etc." According to the fundamentalists the devil once lived in heaven but made war on G-d and was cast out. Maybe it was this passage Jesus was referring to when he said, "I beheld Satan as lightening fall from heaven." (Luke 10:18).
To the surprise of many there is no mention of Lucifer in the Hebrew verse. The verse is talking about someone called Heilel ben Shahar meaning: son of the morning star. Heilel comes from y'hal, to shed light, and is the Hebrew name for Venus which gives its morning light. Kings in bygone times were called after the various stars and planets, human kings and Emperors were worshipped as gods, and here in the language of the times of the writer, the king of Babylon is addressed as one who considered himself to be a god and has named himself after a star.
If the fundamentalists would look at verse 4, it clearly tells us to whom this prophecy is addressed. "That you will take up this taunt against the king of Babylon."
e) Zechariah 3:1-2
"And he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the L-rd, and Satan standing at his right hand to resist him. And the L-rd said unto Satan, the L-rd rebuke thee, O Satan; even the L-rd that hath chosen Jerusalem rebuke thee: is not this a brand plucked out of the fire?" (K.J.V.).
This verse is not a prophecy concerning Jesus even though in Hebrew the name is the same. Haggai 1:1 states clearly who Yehoshua was and in what day he lived, "In the second year of Daryavesh the king, in the sixth month, on the first day of the month, the word of the L-rd came by Haggai the prophet to Zerubbavel the son of She'alti'el, governor of Yehuda, and to Yehoshua the son of Yehozadaq, the high priest..."
The passage in Zechariah does not describe a happening, it is only a
dream, or a prophetic vision. (See chap. 4, vs. 1.) Here in this passage
we have for once a correct understanding of satan. He is an adversary
who works in accordance to the will of G-d, not one who is a god or on
par with G-d, but one who acts as an official of the Heavenly Court
whose duty it is to prosecute, as seen in Job 1:6 ff.
Satan is not a tempter but acts on G-d's orders as His prosecuting attorney. Nowhere in the Hebrew Bible do we find the term, 'satan' used as a proper name, but it is a description of the function of an angel or an adversary.
To believe that there is a god who rules over the heavens and a god of this world in opposition to him, called the devil, is to accept the plurality of gods. The Hebrew Bible states that there is but one G-d, (Deut. 6:4). He is G-d of Heaven and Earth. [(Deut. 4:39; Exod. 9:29, 19:5)] He created good and evil. Therefore, all goodness comes from Him, and to the amazement of many [Crosstians] all evil comes from Him as well.
Isa 45:7 "I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the Lord do all these things. "Jer. 4:6 "Set up the standard toward Zion: retire, stay not: for I will bring evil from the north, and a great destruction."
Jer. 6:19 "Hear, O earth: behold, I will bring evil upon this people, even the fruit of their thoughts, because they have not hearkened unto my words, nor to my law, but rejected it." G-d has an evil spirit, as seen in 1 Sam 16:15, and he has a lying spirit (1 Kings 22:22).
The word 'satan' in Hebrew simply means an adversary and in no way is this satan a rival to G-d.
1 King 11:23 And G-d stirred him up another adversary, Rezon the son of Eliadah, which fled from his lord Hadadezer king of Zobah: 11:24 And he gathered men unto him, and became captain over a band, when David slew them of Zobah: and they went to Damascus, and dwelt therein, and reigned in Damascus. 11:25 And he was an adversary to Israel all the days of Solomon, beside the mischief that Hadad did: and he abhorred Israel, and reigned over Syria.
1 King 11:14 And the L-rd stirred up an adversary unto Solomon, Hadad the Edomite: he was of the king's seed in Edom.
1 Chron 21:1 And Satan stood up against Israel, and provoked David to number Israel.
Now for those who believe that satan is some supernatural deity who is in contest with G-d, let us see who was this satan who provoked David to number Israel.
2 Sam 24:1 And again the anger of the Lord was kindled against Israel, and he moved David against them to say, Go, number Israel and Judah.
1 Sam 29:4 And the princes of the Philistines were wroth with him; and the princes of the Philistines said unto him, Make this fellow return, that he may go again to his place which thou hast appointed him, and let him not go down with us to battle, lest in the battle he be an adversary to us: for wherewith should he reconcile himself unto his master? should it not be with the heads of these men? The one who is described as satan is David, later to become King of Israel.
1 Sam 29:5 Is not this David, of whom they sang one to another in dances, saying, Saul slew his thousands, and David his ten thousands? In Psalm 109:4, "satan" is written in the plural!
G-d, Who created evil, is able to handle any evil situation Himself, without the aid of another god. Satan, whenever mentioned in the Hebrew Bible, is always seen as going before the L-rd, consulting with G-d, doing the will of G-d, and limited by G-d in all his doings, as in the case of Job.
But Christianity has always robbed G-d of His glory. The church pays homage to Jesus and praises him for blessings which come only from G-d, and whenever G-d chastens with scourges, they tell us the punishment was the work of the devil.
The doctrine of devil and demons being in a power struggle against G-d came from Persia around the year 650 B.C.E. The belief prevalent in those days was that Ahvra Mazda, the lord of light, was in a power struggle with Ahriman, the prince of darkness.
The prince of darkness succeeded in causing the world to become evil and man became essentially wicked. Peace and love and holiness were destroyed and mankind was left to die in sin, and perish in hell Then god spoke to Gosurvan the soul of the sacred bull saying, "I will produce him who will bring salvation to the creatures of the earth." Then Zoroaster was born. When Zoroaster was born, a bright star was seen in the East, and the child was considered to be the light of the world.
But evil spirits set about to have him destroyed, they failed, and at 12 years of age Zoroaster sought out wise men to teach him the ways of God. As he grew, his character refined and he helped the people in all their needs, he healed the sick, he fed the hungry.
Later his disciples wrote gospels containing his words, his deeds and his beliefs. The gospels were called the Avesta and its theology was the first in the world to embrace belief in a good god and a wicked devil. A god of heaven and a god of the world. This dualism was later accepted by the Greeks and during the Hellenistic era it became a fundamental teaching of Christianity.
By freeing his mind of the Zoroastorian teaching of a wicked devil who is hot on his pursuit, man is made free of threats of hell and can put his mind to seeing the good and evil around him and can learn from what he sees to do good, thus giving an adversary no cause to accuse him. Man has a 'yetzer tov', a good inclination, and a 'yetzer ra', evil inclination and we are told by G-d that the yetzer ra croucheth at the door but "if ye do well ye shall rule over it." (Gen. 4.7).
- Classical Deist' View of Religion and Its Application Today
- Were the Three Magi Zoroastrian Pilgrims?
- Biblical Monotheism and Persian Influences
- More Questions on Zoroastrianism for Comparison
- Traditional Zoroastrianism Another View
- Early Life of Zoroaster From Zoroastrians
- Calling Jesus a Recreation of Zoroaster is Rubbish
- Zoroastrianism Influence on Christianity and Judaism Hard to Prove
- Zoroastrianism and Judaism According to the Jewish Encyclopedia
- Influence of Zoroastrianism On Judaism, Christianity, Hinduism, Buddhism
- Why Jesus was not Zoroaster or Buddha
- Is the Resemblance Between Zoroastrianism and Judaism Coincidence?
- Hellenism Meets Judaism
- Judaism Versus Zoroastrianism
- What are we to believe?
- Zoroastrians Keep Dwindling
- Under Judaism God Alone Does Good and Evil
- Problem of Original Source Material for Zoroastrianism
- Alexander, the Jews, and Hellenism
- Hellenistic Period After Alexander
- Religious Syncretism
- Platonism and Christianity
- Demiurge Creator of the World
- Allegorical Interpretation