Several times recently, I have had the discussion of why angels rebelled against God. To be fair, there was more to the question than just that. It was assumed that the interpretation of one-third of the angels rebelled against God, with Lucifer/ Satan leading the rebellion as the correct interpretation of scriptures in Ezekiel 28:14 and following, and Isaiah 14:12ff. This view indicates a civil war in heaven that has flowed over to earth and has come to involve all mankind.
Lets’ set up a few foundational beliefs and go from there. The first would be: the Bible is the Word of God and is to be believed. The second would be that Jesus is the Son of God and His word holds as much weight as God the Father. Another would be that there are varying views that are open to interpretation and some things are black and white. The varying views are usually where arguments and debates come in.
Regardless if you hold that Lucifer was the highest archangel created, and he led this rebellion against God with the idea that he would become higher than God or not, there are some things the Bible states clearly. In the Book of Revelation, John said he saw the dragon, which he identified as Satan, sweep a third of the stars from heaven and there was war there (Revelation 12:4-9). Further, the Devil was cast from heaven. Jesus said he looked up and saw the devil fall from the sky like lightning (Luke 10:18). Some say both were using symbolism or in the future tense. Maybe.
It is pretty clear that Satan is in rebellion against God and he is not alone. It begs a question: why? And why the ages long attack on mankind? Part of the answer lies in one’s view of when the rebellion took place. Was it before mankind was created or after? Both views hold implications on why the man was created and why when he sinned, God came looking after him with redemption.
Rebellion Before Man’s Creation
When Satan rebelled, the devastation was cataclysmic and cosmic in scope. It affected more than the earth. It was quite possible that it happened even before the earth was formed. That is pre-Genesis 1:1. Therefore precipitating God to implement a plan to redeem all the universe. He responded by creating the earth and all that was in it for the main purpose of bringing forth a new creature called Man. This creature would have a second unusual creature called Woman. Part of the purpose of mankind is to battle Satan. Through mankind would come the Redeemer, who would sacrifice His life to redeem, not just mankind (John 3:16-18), but also all creation (Romans 8:18-22 and 2 Peter 1-3). Subsequently, man and Satan are at odds and in combat. Unfortunately, after the sin of Adam, mankind, as well as creation needed redemption.
Rebellion After Man’s Creation
The scenario: God creates man and calls him His greatest creation, partly because this new creation, born of dust was created in the image of God. He is a creator God and creates because it brings Him joy. He created the heavens and the angels, and now He creates this man. God turns to the angels and tells them to minister or serve this new creation. Can’t you see some of the angels becoming indignant? Aren’t they good enough? Suddenly, they are not God’s highest creation? He needs to create more beings to fellowship with? Rebellion ensues and war is declared against the Creator of the Universe and his new creation. The new creation falls and now has to be redeemed, so a savior must come through them. Meanwhile, Satan and his envoys are steadily trying to usurp God and despises this dust-born, pathetic, created image of God.
I tend to hold to the first view of Satan rebelling before the creation of man. I don’t think redemption was an afterthought to God. If He knows everything, then He would have known man was going to fall, you might argue. True, but even in the fall I think God had redemption at the forefront of creation and ultimately fellowship with His created beings. It was all good when God created it. Satan was bent on destroying it and man. There is a third scenario that blends both of the other in that Satan rebelled after the creation of the world, but before or after the creation of man.
We don’t know how long the Serpent (Satan) had been in the Garden of Eden. I don’t think he just happened upon Eve one day and deceived her. She wasn’t that weak. I think he tempted her repeatedly over time and slowly wore her down. I think he was working on Adam too. Is this not the tactics he uses against us? He pushes and prods, looking for the chink in your armor, waiting for the right moment. I believe this is what happened in the garden. I think Satan was already working on corrupting the earth just like he had corrupted the rest of creation. He comes to kill, steal, and destroy like he always has and Jesus has come to bring us life and that more abundantly, like he always has.