I was recently asked by a friend how I might answer someone claiming to see Satan in the message of Ezekiel 28:1-19 (HERE is the passage).
Here is my brief response:
First, I point to 28.2 which specifically says “prince of Tyre” and this message is embedded within a series of messages against the kingdom/city and ruler (26-28) and surrounded by other texts against other kingdoms and rulers (25-32). To make this passage suddenly about “Satan” or “the devil” would be to potentially be ignoring the context.
Second, the individual addressed is human and ONLY thinks themselves to be like a god: v. 2 “you are only a man”, vv. 4-5, 16 amassing great wealth, vv. 7-10, 17-18 suffering judgment by a foreign military, vv. 10, 19 and dying.
Third, the prophetic imagery of “cherub” (vv. 14, 16) in “Eden” (v. 13) draws upon ancient story, but not the Biblical one preserved in Genesis 2-3. It draws upon that same world (and apparently was known in Tyre and likely some part of their mythology). A similar prophetic image function happens with Egypt and Pharaoh being a water monster of the Nile (29.3-5).
The connection people have made to Satan from this passage has been the language of Eden (ignoring the rest of the context of the passage ultimately) and presuming that any reference to an angelic like being in Eden must be referring to the serpent of Genesis 2-3. However, that serpent is called a “creature of the field” and never anything more. It is never called a cherub nor hinted at. The only reference to a cherub in Genesis 2-3 is with regard to the one left with a sword guarding the eastern entrance back into the garden once the man and woman are evicted.
Though reading Satan into this text has a long tradition behind it, it simply does not bear up under any real scrutiny. (As an aside, one could also examine Isaiah 14’s reference to the “morning star” [poorly translated “Lucifer” by some], but that is for another blog post on another day.
Excited about a few courses I’ve designed being added to the catalog (Lord willing): BIBL 336 The Former Prophets (Joshua, Judges, 1-2 Samuel, 1-2 Kings) – 3 credits
Students will analyze the accounts of Israel’s story as recorded in the books of Joshua, Judges, Samuel and Kings, and an evaluation of various attempts to harmonize that story with other historical evidence. Literary, textual and theological issues as well as an examination of archaeological evidence, social institutions, and ideology will provide the data for discussing the ideas contained in the Former Prophets and their role as scripture for the Church. Prerequisites: BIBL 151 and BIBL 253 BIBL 437 Apocalyptic Literature and the Revelation – 2 credits
Students will analyze apocalyptic texts of the second Temple period with particular emphasis given to the historical, literary and theological elements of the Revelation and its role as scripture for the Church. Prerequisites: BIBL 151 and BIBL 253 BIBL 337 Daniel and Ezekiel – 2 credits
Students will analyze the historical, literary and theological elements of the books of Daniel and Ezekiel and their role as scripture for the Church. Prerequisites: BIBL 151 and BIBL 253 LANG 437 Biblical Hebrew 2a – 3 credits
This course provides intermediate grammatical study, vocabulary building and discourse analysis of Biblical Hebrew narrative. Students build their vocabulary and translate selected portions of the Hebrew Old Testament with particular attention to the book of Ruth. Prerequisites: LANG 435, LANG 436 LANG 438 Biblical Hebrew 2b – 3 credits
The genre of Hebrew Poetry will be explored, focusing on selections from the Psalms, the prophets, and wisdom literature. Students will develop recognition of the characteristics of this genre, with the outcome of becoming better readers of Hebrew Poetry. Students will develop skills to exegete, preach, and teach the portions of the Old Testament which are poetic. Prerequisites: LANG 437
As if I didn’t love studying the Hebrew Bible enough, I must say I’ve thoroughly enjoyed teaching Biblical Hebrew (1a & 1b) last year and being halfway through 2a this semester. I look forward to teaching Biblical Hebrew 2b (who doesn’t love Biblical Hebrew poetry???), Apocalyptic Literature and the Revelation (a topic I have taught numerous times as a pastor), as well as The Former Prophets (my actual specialization) next semester.
The beauty of teaching these courses lays in the fact that most students find this material fresh. Even those who previously thought they understood these books and topics, suddenly encounter the excitement of the new and enter the adventure of engaging Scriptures in ways they had not previously imagined. All I know is #ilovemyjob