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Question 95

Father, I have a question which may seem a little silly. As I understand, Satan was once an angel who rebelled against God. My questions are simply, how can an angel rebel against God knowing that He is all powerful? Also when we speak about rebellion, was it a rebellion to somehow depose God who is all powerful?  

 

Answer to Question 95

 

God created only angels of light, they were created with free will and independence. They were free to be obedient to the will of God or to rebel and be disobedient. 

Lucifer or Eosphoros as he is known in Greek and whose name means light-bearer was a mighty and beautiful angel, either an Archangel or Cherubim according to the Book of Ezekiel which says: "From the day that thou wast created thou wast with the cherub: I set thee upon the holy mount of God... Thou wast perfect in thy days from the day that thou wast created, till iniquity was found in thee... Thine heart hath been lifted up because of thy beauty; thy knowledge hath been corrupted with thy beauty: because of the multitude of thy sins have I cast thee to the ground." (Ezekiel 28:12-18)

He was one of the most perfect and radiant of angels, as his name implies. He had been richly endowed by the Creator and should have ever held his eyes on the Lord, but instead he concentrated his attention on his own perfection; he fell in love with it and was seized with pride. By doing this he left the path of truth, which united him with the Source of Life and Light, and entered the path of destruction.  He forgot that he owed all to God, that all his perfections were the gift of God. He ascribed them to himself, and so seemed exceedingly great to himself. He was so blinded by the idea of his own greatness and considered, "is there any who is equal to me? Is there another angel equal or even God himself? Thus he said to himself "I am divine, I myself am a divinity!" In his self conceitedness he rose up against the Lord and with him also a third of the angels who were loyal to him. This information is received from Revelation which says "And his tail drew the third part of the stars of heaven, and did cast them to the earth (Rev 12:4)

The Prophet Isaiah says of Lucifer's arrogance: "How is Lucifer fallen from heaven, that rose up in the morning! He is crushed unto the earth that sent light to all the nations. But thou hast said in thy mind, I will ascend into heaven, I will set my throne above the stars of heaven: I will sit upon a lofty mount toward the north: I will go up above the clouds; I will be like the Most High". (Isaiah 14: 12-14) 

In our earthly language there was a war in heaven. The holy Chief Commander Michael, the faithful servant of the Lord, appointed by God as general and commander over the entire assembly of the nine angelic orders together with his angels fought against Lucifer and his angels. The Book of revelation again informs us of this war saying: "And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels, And prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven. And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him." (Rev: 12:7-8)

Christ says of the fall "I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven." (Luke 10:18). Orthodox tradition says that when Lucifer and his angels fell, the Archangel Michael gathered all the ranks of the angels and cried aloud: “Let us stand upright, let us stand with fear”, in other words, let us attend not to fall with the devil and his angels and from that time the angels remained steadfast in their loyalty and obedience to the will of God and with a special grace of God have remained steadfast in holiness and goodness and can no more fall into sin. 

Lucifer and his angels, having fallen from the grace of God and the source of their light and radiance became dark angels. From thereafter Lucifer was called the devil from the Greek word diavolos meaning divider, and Satan a Hebrew word meaning "enemy." His angels were called demons and although the etymology of the Greek term daimones means spirits and doesn't specifically refer to evil spirits, it has come to mean the fallen angels. 

The fall of Satan and his demons must have taken place after the creation of the world, but before the creation of man. The space between heaven and earth, the whole expanse of the air, which is visible to us under the heavens, serves as the dwelling for the fallen angels. The holy Apostle Paul calls the fallen angels "the spirits of wickedness under the heavens", (Eph. 6:12) and their chief "the prince of the powers of the air". (Eph. 2:2)

Having lost their place in heaven they also lost their bright beauty and became as frightful beasts. Cast down and beaten, the love they once had for God was turned to hatred and from that moment on their only purpose was to oppose and sabotage whatever is from God and whatever God favours. The holy angels are nine ranks, but some say that they were originally ten, the tenth being Satan and his fallen angels. It is also said by some that God created man to take the place of the fallen rank. This certainly would have made Satan envious and revengeful, but man was not created as a ministering angel. God created man so that man may sit by his right side and rule with him. God created man so that man may become a god by grace. God's plan for man was to be superior to that of the angels. Satan wanted to sit at God's side and be a god and for this he was cast out of heaven, but now God created another being who was destined to do just that. 

Envious of God's love for man, man became the object of Satan's hatred and deployed the force of his hatred to destroy him. He had not the power to destroy man bodily so he craftily sort out to bring man's downfall, to make him, like himself, disobedient to God. You know the story of man's fall from paradise, how in the guise of a serpent Satan tempted Eve to disobey God's command not to eat of the tree of knowledge of good and evil saying that God lied to them when he told them that if they eat of it they would surely die. Satan played on their innocence and succeeded in bringing man down to his level, but with a difference.  Satan disobeyed God through his own free will from within himself; man on the hand did not discover evil by himself; he disobeyed God because he was tempted from without by the devil. Because of this God gave man the opportunity to repent and ask for forgiveness.