Question: In your September newsletter you stated, “Before man was created, Satan had already rebelled and taken countless angels with him.” In October you state, “A rebellion led by Lucifer eons ago had taken place....” It almost sounds like you hold to some form of the “gap theory.” The Bible tells us that “from the beginning of the creation God made them male and female” (Mk 10:6). Creation had a beginning, and “in six days the Lord made heaven and earth...” (Ex 20:11). I believe it is quite clear that the angels were created as well in those six days. God summed it up saying, “Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them” (Gn 2:1). This “host” certainly could include the angels (Neh:9:6, Ps:103:20-21, 1 Kgs 22:19, 2 Chr:18:18, Lk 2:13). God said the serpent was “made” just as the beast of the field (Gn 3:1) and was “perfect in thy ways from the day thou wast created” (Ezk 28:15). Where is the scriptural evidence that Satan rebelled “before man was created ...eons ago” as you have stated? In the beginning of the creation, after the sixth day God said “everything” that He had made was “very good” (Gn 1:31). Or are you implying a special creation of the angels at a different time and place before “the beginning of the creation”?
Response: Thank you for your question. You have clearly put much thought and study into it in the spirit of a Berean. However, I think you make some incorrect assumptions.
First of all, the statement, “the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made” (Gn 3:1), does not include Satan as a “beast of the field.” It includes the physical serpent in the garden through which Satan spoke. While he is called “that old serpent,” he is not a literal, physical snake that was created with the other creatures. When Satan came into existence cannot be derived from this passage.
Secondly, you seem to assume that the creation of “the heaven and the earth” (Gn 1:1) includes what Stephen described as “I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God” (Acts:7:56) and what Paul called “the third heaven” (2 Cor:12:2) where God dwells. The words “heaven” and “heavens” are used both for the physical heavens related to earth and which are part of the physical universe (the atmosphere surrounding earth, and the space containing stars) as well as for heaven, the “Father’s house,” which has neither physical nor spatial relationship to earth. Surely the “place” where God dwells, which is neither physical nor part of the physical universe, must have always existed and was never created, certainly not at the time of Genesis:1:1. This is also where angels dwell.
I think it is clear that the creation described in Genesis refers only to the physical universe. The heaven or heavens described there are part of the universe. Thus “host” of heaven in Genesis:2:1 refers to the stars, not to angels. In the many other places in Scripture it is also clear from the context when “heaven/heavens” refers to the physical realm and when it refers to God’s presence; and when “host” refers to stars and when it refers to angels. You seem to assume, however, that “host of heaven” always means angels, which is clearly not the case; for example: “as the host of heaven cannot be numbered” (Jer:33:22).
Therefore, the statements, “And God saw every thing that he had made, and behold, it was very good” (Gn 1:31), and “Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them” (2:1), as well as “from the beginning of the creation God made them male and female” (Mk 10:6), refer to the physical universe which had a beginning, not to the dwelling of God and angels nor to angels themselves.
We have no biblical reason to believe that angels were created simultaneously with the physical universe and man. When were they created? We are not told. I can’t take the space to cite the many scriptures in both Old and New Testaments which show such a close association of angels with God that it would seem odd indeed if they did not exist until the physical universe was created. You can look up these scriptures, as I know you will. Surely the positions of power which angels manifest in the book of Revelation seem to be of a more permanent nature than to have originated with the creation of the universe and man. One function of angels is to praise God and to surround His throne. It hardly seems reasonable that there would have been no angels to worship and serve God before the physical universe (of which they are not a part) was made.
There even seems to be a hint that man’s creation came about as a result of Satan’s rebellion. Surely man plays the key role in the final defeat of Satan. We see this in the part played by Job in the controversy between God and Satan. Paul tells us that we “wrestle ...against spiritual wickedness in high places [i.e. heaven?]” (Eph:6:12). Man, who overcomes Satan “by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony” (Rv 12:11) even seems to be involved in the final ouster of Satan: “there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon.... And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan...” (12:7-9).
If angels were created before the physical universe, how long before would it have been? God has existed forever. Therefore, I think it reasonable that angels have been in His presence for “eons” of time by earth’s reckoning, and also that Satan probably rebelled long before man was created. At least such a statement is neither unbiblical nor unreasonable.