Questions about Satan

by Jim Morgan

Questions about Satan

I was raised a fundamentalist. I don’t even know if such a critter exists anymore. Jesus Inc. has subsumed and consumed most everything that bears a Cross or fish on it in North America.

Now as a fundamentalist I was taught that God was so pure, so holy, so good that evil can not exist in the same place as God. If Satan were to be in the presence of God it would be like matter and antimatter in Star Trek, the universe as we know it would cease to exist.

The interesting thing is that every time Satan appears in the OT he is in the presence of God. We have that odd story in the first chapter of Job where the Sons of God came to present themselves to God. Satan is one of their number. We, of course, know that he came to accuse Job.

We have an equally weird story in Zechariah 3 where the Angel of the LORD (I was taught that anytime Angel of the LORD appeared in the OT that this was a preincarnate appearance of Jesus) came before the High Priest with Satan in the position of honour- at his right hand.

Let’s not forget the Temptation of Jesus, where God and Satan were together in the same place.

We have a curious and potentially mind-blowing story in 1 Chronicles 21 where Satan moves David to conduct the census. These verses contradict 2 Samuel 24 where the Scripture says God moved David to conduct this census.

So we see that the fundamentalists were wrong. No big shock there.

But it brings up questions as to who Satan (satan is simply the Hebrew word for adversary) really is. The ancient Jews have no concept of this fallen angel theory that permeates Christendom. They would also be appalled by this demigod-like creature that is so prevalent in Churches today.

The ancient Jews were fierce monotheists- they believed in one and only one God. Their view was that Satan was merely an agent of this one God whose responsibility was to make the nasty stuff happen in the world to strengthen God’s people and that Satan could only act within the areas that God allowed him to work.

Now I have no idea who is correct. The modern Christian paradigm regarding Satan is woefully unsatisfying. It is a confusing mess that makes Christians look more like polytheists than followers of a traditional monotheistic religion. The ancient Jewish thought does keep the sovereignty of God intact and the monotheism as well but gives God a dualistic flavour which I guess is in keeping with Isaiah 45:7 KJV where God says that he creates good and creates evil.

These are just thoughts to get the discussion started, what are yours?