“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! But you said in your heart, ‘I will ascend to heaven; 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 ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High.’ Nevertheless you will be thrust down to Sheol, To the recesses of the pit. Those who see you will gaze at you, They will ponder over you, saying, ‘Is this the man who made the earth tremble, Who shook kingdoms, Who made the world like a wilderness And overthrew its cities, Who did not allow his prisoners to go home?’” (14:12-17)
It was a surprise, the first time I completed reading the whole Bible, to find there’s no such story as:
Once upon a time, there was a beautiful angel. He was the most beautiful of the angels, and probably a director of music, since heaven needs those. One day, he decided he wanted to be as important as God Himself! That did not go well, and he was cast to earth, along with his fans, which happened to be a third of all angels. He turned out to be Satan.
That narrative is no where to be found in the Bible. So where did it come from?!
In Bible college, there’s something called systemic theology, where someone (Wayne Grudem) went through the Bible and put all related topics together, to form an official “-ology” of them. You may be surprised to know, this passage is traditionally used as one of the chief descriptors of Satan!
When you read these chapters today, you were probably thinking about Babylon, specifically the king of Babylon, and not Satan’s origin story. Why would you? It’s not obvious in the context. In fact, we know from Daniel 4, that Nebuchadnezzar did fancy himself a bit higher than he ought (a pattern many kings follow) and was brought low because of it.
Something I have noticed, and probably part of Grudem’s point, is that throughout the Bible, Satan is involved in many rebellions against God, usually in the form of pride, power plays, false accusations and lies.
This verse could be referencing Satan, or it could just be about Nebuchadnezzar, who did, in fact, overthrow cities and not allow prisoners to go home (14:16-17).
Either way, it’s important to note the demonic nature of pride. Remember also, how often Babylon is used as an archetype for grandiose, prideful, powerful, oppressive, money-hungry nations. They embody what Satan looks like in the flesh.
It’s all too easy to see how America is a modern day Babylon is that way. I would encourage us, believers, to take a closer look at the differences between the Kingdom of God and the Kingdom of Babylon, and watch where we swear our allegiances. Especially since the King of Babylon ends up in a pit and everyone says, where are you now, tough guy?