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’?”
Genesis 3:1

Three chapters into Genesis, we’re introduced to the serpent. Previously unmentioned, suddenly, here he was, and immediately, he got to work on Eve, and then Adam, to disrupt God’s creation. Who is he? Where did he come from? What’s his game? Let’s fill in some of the gaps.

A teacher would tell you to find the answer by going to the back of the book. Same idea here—we’ll start in the back of God’s Book. In Revelation 12, we find the serpent’s identity. A war in heaven is described, and Michael and his angels have won, defeating someone called the dragon, also known as the devil or Satan, and his angels and casting them out of heaven (Revelation 12:7-9).

When we fill in that first gap, we begin to answer some important questions about the world around us: How did we get into this mess? It goes way beyond blaming different political parties or the media. It goes all the way back to war in heaven and someone called Satan, whose name in Hebrew means “adversary.”

Where did Satan come from? The prophet Ezekiel helps us fill in some more gaps. He wrote about God’s condemnation of two rulers of the ancient city of Tyre: one was a human ruler, and the other was not. The second one could only be an angelic being, not an earthly ruler but an administrator in heaven, and possibly one of God’s worship leaders: “You were the seal of perfection, full of wisdom and perfect in beauty. You were in Eden, the garden of God… the anointed cherub who covers” (Ezekiel 28:12, 14). Then, however, this ruler was found guilty of great wickedness: “You were perfect in your ways from the day you were created, till iniquity was found in you” (v. 15). What iniquity? Perhaps being God’s prime minister and chief worship leader wasn’t enough for this being, and he rebelled.

Isaiah 14 closes the gap for us, describing the fall from heaven of a high angelic being named Lucifer, whose desire to be higher than God led to his banishment (Isaiah 14:12-15). Jesus Himself provided a clue that seals this being’s identity when He linked Satan to the fall of Lucifer from heaven (Luke 10:18).

Lucifer means “morning star.” That’s what he was before the fall—a star! But, like many movie stars, he wanted to be the director. Some actors get tired of being on their side of the camera lens; they want to be in charge of the show. But Lucifer exalted himself above “the stars of God” (Isaiah 14:13)—that is, the other angelic beings. Five times in Isaiah 14 he said, “I will.” And there’s the problem. Up until that point, God’s creation had been in harmony, subject only to God’s perfect will. Now, though, one of God’s creations manifested a rogue will and was banished. So Lucifer—Satan—fell from heaven to earth, where he became the deceiver, the adversary, the serpent. By making himself God’s enemy, he became the enemy of God’s most beloved creation: us.

Everything Satan does is geared toward disrupting God’s plans, especially God’s greatest plan, to save mankind from the trap of sin Satan so cunningly laid for us. Satan failed at the key juncture, the cross, but that hasn’t stopped him from working to neutralize the church ever since. Isaiah foresaw his doom: “You shall be brought down to Sheol, to the lowest depths of the Pit” (v. 15), but the devil is not content to go there alone. His futile war against God’s ultimate victory still garners victims today and will until Jesus returns.

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Skip Heitzig, author of The Bible from 30,000 Feet, is pastor-teacher of Calvary Church, ministering to more than 15,000 people weekly. He holds a DD and PhD from Trinity Southwest University and has a popular multimedia teaching ministry that includes print, audio, and online resources. Skip and his wife, Lenya, reside in New Mexico and have one son and two grandchildren.