As we covered in the last post on this topic, Genesis 1:1-2 can be legitimately translated this way:
In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. But the earth had become a desolation and a chaotic ruin; and darkness covered the face of the deep.
This is the translation that fits both the language and the complete revelation of God’s word (if we trust the Bible to interpret itself as opposed to filling it with our own ideas). And we saw from Scripture that this state of desolation and ruin (Hebrew: tohu and bohu) results from God’s wrath upon sin.
But Adam has not yet been created. Genesis proceeds with the account of the re-creation of the earth (Psalm 104:30, “You send forth Your Spirit, they are created; and You renew the face of the earth”), and on the sixth day of that creation, Adam and Eve are brought into existence. We know that it is due to the sin of Adam that death entered into the world we now live in (Romans 5:12-14). If the creation was devastated before Adam due to sin, whose sin would that be?
The answer lies in the fact that Adam and Eve were not the only sentient (thinking) beings in the Garden of Eden, for soon after their creation we are introduced to the serpent:
Now the serpent was more cunning than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said to the woman, “Has God indeed said, ‘You shall not eat of every tree of the garden’?”
And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat the fruit of the trees of the garden; but of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God has said, ‘You shall not eat it, nor shall you touch it, lest you die.'”
Then the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”
The “serpent of old” is Satan the devil (Rev. 12:9). And clearly, though he is only now introduced to us, he is already an evil and sinning creature, lying to and deceiving Eve (2 Corinthians 11:3). Being already in this state, his sin precedes Adam and Eve’s. And in this, he is our best candidate for the sin resulting in the destruction of the earth.
Does the Bible say anything about earth’s history before Adam? Anything at all from which we can put together more of the picture? For while we should respect all that the Bible says, we should respect where it is silent, as well — and if the Bible says nothing of the time between Genesis 1:1 & Genesis 1:2, then neither should we. However, it does speak a little of this time, and rightly dividing the word of truth (2 Timothy 2:15) we will see some of that pre-Adamic history come to life in its pages.
Note that Genesis does not speak of the creation of the angels, though they certainly existed. Genesis 3:24 speaks of cherubim, a kind of angel, being placed east of the Garden of Eden to prevent mankind from returning to the Tree of Life and living forever in his sinful state. Job 38:6-7 tells us that the angels (the “morning stars” and “sons of God”) were present when the very foundation, the cornerstone of the earth was laid — indeed, it says that they sang and shouted for joy at the event! These spirit beings are God’s ministers (Hebrews 1:7, Psalm 104:4) meant to serve “those who will inherit salvation” (Hebrews 1:14) — mankind.
Among these angelic beings, created before the foundation of the world was laid was a being called Lucifer. And he was magnificent — until sin was found in him… His tale is told dramatically in two places in prophecy: Ezekiel 28 and Isaiah 14. In both places, a prophecy is being spoken about an earthly ruler, but included in the prophecy are words that can fit no earthly ruler — words that can only be meant for the spiritual power behind the throne (cf. Daniel 10). Let us look, first, at Ezekiel 28:
Son of man, take up a lamentation for the king of Tyre, and say to him, “Thus says the Lord GOD:
‘You were 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: the sardius, topaz, and diamond, beryl, onyx, and jasper, sapphire, turquoise, and emerald with gold. The workmanship of your timbrels and pipes was prepared for you on the day you were created.
‘You were the anointed cherub who covers; I established you; you were on the holy mountain of God; you walked back and forth in the midst of fiery stones. You were perfect in your ways from the day you were created, till iniquity was found in you.
‘By the abundance of your trading you became filled with violence within, and you sinned; therefore I cast you as a profane thing out of the mountain of God; and I destroyed you, O covering cherub, from the midst of the fiery stones.'”
“You were perfect in your ways from the day you were created, till iniquity was found in you.” I Timothy 3:6 tells us that pride brought the devil his condemnation. We read more details in Isaiah 14:
How you are fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! How you are cut down to the ground, you who weakened the nations!
For you have said in your heart:
“I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God; I will also sit on the mount of the congregation on the farthest sides of the north;
“I will ascend above the heights of the clouds, I will be like the Most High.”
In his pride and arrogance, we see Lucifer — who would become Satan, or the Adversary — decide in the pride of his heart that he could exalt his throne above the stars of God, to be “like the Most High.” And as there can be only one “Most High” it must be clear that Lucifer’s — Satan’s — intention was to take over the throne of God! Scripture even indicates that as many as one-third of the angels followed him in this rebellion (Revelation 12:4). Daniel 10 depicts spirit beings resisting the angelic servants of God, and 2 Peter 2:4 clearly states that “God did not spare the angels who sinned…” Jude 6 mentions them, as well.
But let’s not overlook some key details that can give us more information. When Jude 6 mentions these sinning angels, it states: “And the angels who did not keep their proper domain, but left their own abode…” What was their proper domain? It would be easy to assume this was heaven, but don’t be so quick to assume! The NIV translates the words “proper domain” as “positions of authority” and Young’s Literal Translation puts it as their “own principality.” The word that the NKJV translates “domain” carries with it the feel of a location in which one possesses an assignment of responsibility and authority, and more than a simple “home.”
Where had the principality of these angels been before their rebellion? Where were they exercising authority before their leader, Satan, instilled within them pride and ambition? It was not heaven, as Isaiah 14:13 makes clear when it says that Lucifer declared he would “ascend into heaven.” So he must have been below heaven, else he would not need to ascend. And in verse 14 we get a crucial clue as to the location of his principality: “I will ascend above the heights of the clouds…” Such a statement places one below the clouds — thus, on the earth.
Could it be that Satan the devil — before his rebellion and his sin — and his pre-fallen angels possessed authority over the earth in some way? Could it be that the earth was the principality they ruled, and the abode which they left to rebel against the government of God? That is the clearest implication of the Scriptures we have read. And it makes sense of other verses, as well!
That Satan has authority as a ruler in some great sense is clear from Scripture. For instance, in Jude 8-9 Michael the archangel is seen as respecting the authority of Satan as one would a peer. But consider that Paul often speaks of Satan as if he has a position of authority over this world, calling him the “god of this age” in 2 Corinthians 4:4, and the “prince of the power of the air” in Ephesians 2:2. Jesus, Himself, refers to Satan as the “ruler of this world” (John 12:31, 14:30, 16:11). Then consider, too, that in his temptation of Christ when he offers the Lord all the kingdoms of the world, the devil says, “All this authority I will give you, and their glory; for this has been delivered to me, and I give it to whomever I wish.” GOD is ultimately the giver of authority (cf. Romans 13:1; Daniel 2:21, 4:32; John 19:11, et al.), and Satan could NOT be the ruler of this world had God not given him the authority. And Ezekiel 28:14-15 makes it clear that Satan was “established” or “ordained” in authority by God while he was still the perfect Lucifer and before iniquity was found in him.
There are additional verses we could look at but let’s stop here and look at the picture thus painted by the complete revelation of Scripture…
Sometime in the distant past — how long is not revealed, but longer than 6,000 years ago — the angels were created. Among them was a beautiful and glorious being called Lucifer. These angels sang and shouted for joy at the founding of the earth, and a number of them, perhaps one-third, were placed on this planet to accomplish God’s purpose. The earth was placed under their authority and jurisdiction as a principality, and they were to act as God’s stewards and servants on behalf of those who would ultimately inherit all things: mankind. However, Lucifer, who was their leader, became filled with pride. His sin spread through many if not all under his influence, and with them he launched a rebellious assault on God’s throne in heaven. This being — now called Satan — met with defeat, as do all those foolish enough to rebel against the Most High, and he and his minions were cast out of heaven, fallen creatures. The end result was not a Satan crowned ruler of all the universe. Rather, it was a devastating defeat of cosmic proportions, and the land in which these angels — now demons — had conceived and given birth to their sin lay in ruins. The world that had been under their care, intended as the future home of man, had become tohu and bohu — desolation and a chaotic ruin — as a result of their sin.
God’s purpose remains, however, and rather than being the end of the story, Genesis 1:2 is the beginning. With this background we are finally equipped: What does the Bible say, if anything, about life on Mars — past, present, or future? (You probably thought I had completely forgotten about Mars, huh?) Let’s take a look at these prospects next time.
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All four posts in this series: