Thursday, February 25, 2016

History - The fictional stories of Muhammad - The fall of Satan

This is a continuation of a multi-post article. You can read the first post here. This is also part of a larger series called "The Koran from a Christian perspective." You can find other posts in this series here.
The Koran records the fall of Satan as follows.
"We created you, then We shaped you, then We said to the angels: 'Bow [prostrate] yourselves to Adam'; so they bowed [prostrated] themselves, save Iblis -- he was not of those that bowed [prostrated] themselves. Said He, 'What prevented [hindered] thee to bow thyself, when I commanded thee?' Said he, 'I am better [nobler] than he; Thou createdst me of fire, and him Thou createdst of clay.' Said He, 'Get thee down out of it; it [Paradise] is not for thee to wax proud here, so go thou forth" (Koran 7:10-12)
"And when We said to the angels, 'Bow [prostrate] yourselves to Adam'; so they bowed [prostrated] themselves, save Iblis; he was one of the jinn, and committed ungodliness [revolted] against his Lord's command [behest]." (Koran 18:48)
Iblis is the Koranic name for Satan or the Devil. We shall discuss angles, jinn, and their differences later when we look at the doctrine of Islam, but here it is unclear if Iblis was a jinn or an angle. The Koran never speaks of them in interchangeable words, so these passages are unclear and a bit contradictory as to which species of supernatural beings Satan was. Also, it speaks of him being created by fire, something which the Jewish scriptures do no corroborate. The scriptures never explicitly state if Satan was an angle, only that he had a host of angles with him. "And the great dragon was thrown down, the serpent of old who is called the devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him." (Revelation 12:9) As for the actual expelling fall of Satan, there are a few direct references and an indirect reference to its occurrence,

Adam records God's judgment upon the serpent for his part in deceiving Adam and Eve. "The Lord God said to the serpent, 'Because you have done this, cursed are you more than all cattle, and more than every beast of the field; on your belly you will go, and dust you will eat all the days of your life; And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed; He shall bruise you on the head, and you shall bruise him on the heel.'" (Genesis 3:14-15) This last reference is clearly a reference to Jesus' victory over Satan and that Satan would bruise His heal in leading Him to the cross but that Jesus would bruise his head by triumphing over him in His resurrection. It is unclear from this scripture if Satan was already expelled from heaven prior to this event of if this was the event that lead to his expulsion.

John records the event as seen in a vision as follows, "And there was war in heaven, Michael and his angels waging war with the dragon. The dragon and his angels waged war, and they were not strong enough, and there was no longer a place found for them in heaven." (Revelation 12:7-8) Again it is unclear if this was the actual first expulsion from heaven of the final casting down of him upon the earth, It clearly describes some kind of war in heaven between the devil and his angles and the angles of God, John immediately follows these words with the following, "Now the salvation, and the power, and the kingdom of our God and the authority of His Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren has been thrown down, he who accuses them before our God day and night." (Revelation 12:10) This would seem to indicate that, at his throw down, Jesus had already been presented as the Christ and already had followers upon the earth. This seems like a later throw down then one that might have occurred at the beginning of time.

After the disciples returned from their mission that Jesus had sent them on, they were excited over the power they had to do miracles and the authority they had to command devils to flee. Jesus responded, "I was watching Satan fall from heaven like lightning." (Luke 10:18) This falling of Satan also seems to be in the time frame of Jesus' ministry upon the Earth and not at the beginning of time.

The one indirect reference to the fall of Satan is a prophesy against the King of Tyre,  "You had the seal of perfection, full of wisdom and perfect in beauty. You were in Eden, the garden of God;
Every precious stone was your covering... You were the anointed cherub who covers, and I placed you there. You were on the holy mountain of God; you walked in the midst of the stones of fire. You were blameless in your ways from the day you were created until unrighteousness was found in you... Your heart was lifted up because of your beauty; you corrupted your wisdom by reason of your splendor. I cast you to the ground; I put you before kings, that they may see you." (Ezekiel 28:12-17) Many believe that this is also the story of Satan's fall since much in this story cannot be said of any man. However, its precise timing in history is left in question. Also, we see in other scriptures where, even though cast out of heaven, Satan still makes command appearances in heaven from time-to-time. "Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came among them. The Lord said to Satan, 'From where do you come?' Then Satan answered the Lord and said, 'From roaming about on the earth and walking around on it.'" (Job 1:6-7)

What must be understood from these various stories is that the exact nature and timing of Satan's fall is unclear and non-distinct in the Scriptures; certainly not as distinct and sure as in the story in the Koran. The other problem with the Koranic story is the idea that angles were commanded to worship man. This is troubling for three reasons. First, because such a story is not related to us by either of the Jewish or Christian Scriptures. Secondly because we are told that God made man, "a little lower than the angles." (Hebrews 2:7) It is inconceivable for the greater to be told to worship the lesser. Thirdly, we are only ever told to worship God and no one else; not man, not an angle, nor another god but only the Lord. Why then would God command an angle to worship an man? Muhammad's story does not make since when compared with the rest of the scriptures that came before and is therefore suspect at best.

More to come...
David Robison

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