Slander, an Abuse of Justice
You were in Eden, the garden of God; … you were the anointed cherub who covers … until unrighteousness was found in you.—Ezekiel 28:13-15 1
“Son of man, take up a lamentation over the king of Tyre, and say to him, Thus says the Lord GOD, You had 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 ruby, the topaz, and the diamond; the beryl, the onyx, and the jasper; the lapis lazuli, the turquoise, and the emerald; and the gold, the workmanship of your settings and sockets, was in you. On the day that you were created they were prepared. You were the anointed cherub who covers, and I placed you there. You were on the holy mountain of God; you walked in the midst of the stones of fire. You were blameless in your ways from the day you were created, until unrighteousness was found in you. By the abundance of your trade you were internally filled with violence, and you sinned; therefore I have cast you as profane from the mountain of God. And I have destroyed you, O covering cherub, from the midst of the stones of fire. Your heart was lifted up because of your beauty; you corrupted your wisdom by reason of your splendor.”—Ezekiel 28:12-17
This vision of the devil was given to Ezekiel to emphasize how far this mighty one had fallen from the time of his creation. He was a liar and a slanderer early on in the Scriptural account. The title of slanderer indicates one who defames or speaks evil of another to elevate one’s self. The devil did this when he tried to elevate himself above the Almighty, an incident described in Isaiah: “I will raise my throne above the stars of God, and I will sit on the mount of assembly in the recesses of the north. … I will make myself like the Most High” (Isaiah 14:13,14).
The exact time when the devil fell from grace in heaven is not given. Genesis describes his deception of our first parents: “And the serpent said to the woman, You surely shall not die! For God knows that in the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil” (Genesis 3:4,5). There is a strong possibility the woman did not know the full ramifications of “good and evil” so the devil used this to her disadvantage. He was deceptively misusing God’s instructions to Adam and Eve to put himself above God. He abused God’s righteous, just commandment.
The word devil comes from the Greek word Diabolos (Strongs #1228) which means slanderer [accuser], or one who abuses justice. In Scripture there are many references to demons, who are the ministers of the devil. Nevertheless there is only one devil! The Genesis account is the first place where we learn of one who opposes God. The next mention of him is in the book of Job. Being the malignant enemy of God and man, he accuses man to God. It is clear from the dialog between God and the devil (Satan), that he has been busy stumbling and deceiving man on earth. This episode took place in heaven: “Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan also came among them. And the LORD said to Satan, From where do you come? Then Satan answered the LORD and said, From roaming around about on the earth and walking around on it. And the LORD said to Satan, Have you considered my servant Job? For there is no one like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, fearing God and turning away from evil.” (Job 1:6-8).
God in his vast foreknowledge, presents Job to the devil for testing. God in his infinite wisdom knows the outcome, but has recorded it for our growth and development: “Then Satan answered the LORD, Does Job fear God for nothing? Hast thou not made a hedge about him and his house and all that he has, on every side? Thou hast blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land. But put forth Thy hand now and touch all that he has; he will surely curse Thee to Thy face.” (Job 1:9-11).
Because of the evil the devil introduced, the Scriptures tell us that especially in the last days (the time in which we are living), mankind will become like him, lovers of self, boastful, arrogant, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, no self control, and haters of good (2 Timothy 3:1-3).
Sadly, in our own assemblies slander and gossip have crippled some who previously had walked circumspectly before the Lord. We must call upon the Lord in our time of need to correct our course, and not be like those who come through great tribulation: “And one of the elders answered saying to me, These who are clothed in the white robes, who are they, and from where have they come? And I said to him, My lord, you know. And he said to me, These are the ones who come out of the great tribulation, and they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.” (Revelation 7:13,14). An uncorrected course, if persisted in, could even lead to second death (Revelation 2:11).
The word justice means the quality of conforming to principles of reason, to generally accepted standards of right and wrong. In the garden of Eden God gave Adam explicit instructions to not eat of the tree of good and evil. The command was quite clear and Adam knew it was reasonable and just. So why did Eve, and later Adam, disobey the only law God gave them?
First, Satan appealed to Eve’s fleshly nature. She wanted to be like God, to know good and evil. The fruit was a delight to the eyes, and it was desirable to make one wise! Likewise today the devil convinces most of the human race to succumb to the same temptations to be god-like, with an appetite for anything, and to be worldly-wise. Most people today turn away from the Bible because it convicts them. Adam and Eve did not have the knowledge we possess today. Satan had been an angel of the highest order, he became guardian in the garden of Eden. It was in that garden that he slandered the righteous commandment God had given. Likewise today the Bible is a lifeline of what to do, and what not to do. God’s instructions are reasonable and just.
When originally created, the devil was known as Lucifer, meaning light-bearer. The prophet Isaiah describes the terrible fall of this once beautiful spirit being: “How you have fallen from heaven, O star of the morning, son of the dawn! You have been cut down to the earth, you who have weakened the nations!” (Isaiah 14:12). The Scriptures indicate that in heaven there are different orders or levels of spirit beings including powers, principalities, cherubim, and seraphim. The highest of these are Michael, the archangel, and Lucifer, the covering cherub.
Isaiah refers to Lucifer as the morning star (Isaiah 14:12). In the New Testament Peter mentions a second “star,” an obvious reference to Jesus: “We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts” (2 Peter 1:19, KJV). “I, Jesus, have sent my angel to testify to you these things for the churches. I am the root and the offspring of David, the bright morning star” (Revelation 22:16).
Of these two morning stars in the beginning, one fell, disobeying the just commandments of God; the other obeyed and will rescue mankind. When a discussion occurred in heaven about how to rescue fallen man, we can almost hear our Lord’s saying to the heavenly Father: “Here am I, send me.” The course taken by these two illustrates the two “ways” open to mankind today: the broad way that leads to destruction, and the narrow way that leads to life!
May we ever stay on the narrow way until we reach our final destination.