When Did Lucifer Fall?

Q&A January/February 2011

Norm Olson January 1, 2011




Q. Just when did Satan fall? Why did God allow Satan to fall, and why did God even create Satan in the first place?

A.To consider when Satan fell (see Isaiah 14:12–15 and Ezekiel 28:12–15 concerning Satan’s fall from Heaven), we must also consider when he was created (angels are created beings; Colossians 1:16), and several views exist. One view is that God originally created the heavens and the earth (Genesis 1:1), including angels and even pre-Adam men (such as ape-men), prior to a huge span of time that proponents believe existed between Genesis 1:1 and 1:2. Many who hold to this gap theory believe that numerous events took place during that vast time, including Satan’s fall and extinction of creatures such as dinosaurs. Often this theory is used to try to harmonize the facts of Genesis 1 with evolution, geological ages involving millions of years, and the like. People in our theological camp generally reject the gap theory, especially in recent decades.

Another view, held by those of us who are creationists and believe in a young earth of thousands rather than millions of years, is that Satan’s fall took place between Genesis 2 and 3. This view holds that angels, including Satan, were created along with everything else during the six days of creation in Genesis 1, based on Exodus 20:11: “For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it.” Psalm 104:1–9 seems to indicate that the angels were created on the second or third day of creation, along with the firmament. They were created in time for them to be around to sing for joy at the handiwork of God’s creation (Job 38:4–7).

Still another view holds that Satan was created and fell before Genesis 1:1. To hold this view, one must believe that Exodus 20:11 refers only to the first and second spheres of heavens, not to the third heaven. Proponents of this view point to Nehemiah 9:6 as proof that angels were created prior to the six days of creation, as they believe the verse seems to differentiate the third heaven from the others as the abode of God and the angels. However, Genesis 1:31 and Ezekiel 28:15 say that all God created was good, including Lucifer. If Satan fell before the six days of creation, the view contradicts the meaning of “good,” in other words, “not tainted by sin.” So it would seem best to believe that Satan’s sinning occurred after the six days of creation but before man fell into sin, possibly in just a matter of days.

As to why God created Satan, we simply recognize the sovereignty of God and His ways, which are so often unknown to us. We also need to recognize that God did not create Satan as a fallen being. Angels, like people, were created with volition and thus were completely free to reject God’s will if they chose. Floyd H. Barackman wrote, “Since they [angels] possessed personhood with its moral self-determination, they were given the choice of remaining loyal to God and serving Him forever or of rebelling against God and serving sin.” Revelation 12:4 indicates that a third of the angels chose to go with Satan when he fell. These we refer to as demons.

Henry Morris further explained, “When God created him [Lucifer] and set him at the head of the angelic hierarchy, He undoubtedly told Satan of His plans for the universe, including the forthcoming creation of man in His own image. In view of Satan’s later malevolent preoccupation with man’s destruction, it seems that this intention of God provoked a spirit of resentment in Satan’s mind. He developed an intense personal pride in his own exalted position, his beauty and wisdom, and was displeased that God would create a race of beings in closer fellowship with God than the angels and, furthermore, that He would give them the marvelous ability of reproduction and multiplication, a privilege not shared by the angels. . . . He [God] has, for a very brief time (a few thousand years out of eternity!), allowed sin and rebellion apparently to rule the world. This has been permitted in order first to respect the reality of man’s freedom before God. But even more importantly, it has enabled God to reveal His grace and love as well as His power and holiness. He is now not only our Creator but also our Redeemer and Saviour, through the wonderful gift of His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ who died for our sins and rose again.”

Do you have feedback or a Bible question to submit? Send your Bible questions to nolson@garbc.org, or mail to Norman A. Olson in care of the Baptist Bulletin, 1300 N. Meacham Rd., Schaumburg, IL 60173-4806.