Every villain has an origin story. And in scripture Satan seems to have at least two. When we read the opening of the book of Job, Baalam’s story in Numbers 22, and even Jesus’ wilderness temptation, we find a Satan who works for God. Satan, a name meaning simply, “Adversary”, needs God’s approval to mess with Job, and seems to even need God’s guidance in that direction. For Baalam, he of the talking donkey, Satan is an “angel of the Lord” sent to kill Balaam for his upcoming cursing of God’s people. And for Jesus, He is sent into the wilderness “by the Spirit of God” to be tempted, and then is tempted by Satan. Sure looks “henchman-ish” to me.
But the more popular view of Satan, and I say that in the true meaning of “popular”, is that of God’s enemy. We find this version in Genesis 3 when the serpent (who is not called Satan at any time in that story, by the way) tempts humans to sin. We find him in the gospel accounts when we see Jesus pitted against Satan and his hordes. And we find it today in Revelation when this “ancient enemy” stands against the heavenly host.
The important point in any Satanology is the overarching theme of both of these views. Satan may be God’s enemy, but he is NOT His equal. Whether a servant of the Most High, which is in keeping with most Old Testament theology, or an enemy of equal rank not with God, nor with Jesus, but with Michael, the general of the heavenly host (please note this is not a choir but an army!), Satan is so much less than God that he is not to be a terror for us. In anything that happens in life, whether attributed to life circumstances, to bad luck, or to Satan himself, God is in control and God’s got this. “Be not afraid,” as the angels always say.
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