Satan Described We will finalize our study of Ezekiel by looking at chapter 28 where he gives us the most complete description of Satan contained anywhere in Scripture. Many commentators object to the application of this chapter to Satan. They criticize but in their efforts to relate the unusual language to the historic kings of Babylon and Tyre, the attempt falls short. The important question is, why are these two prophecies addressed to the historic kings of Babylon and Tyre if they are descriptive of Satan? There are three reasons:
1. Because there is to be seen in the characters and careers of
these monarchs the wicked character and career of Satan.
2. Satan fulfilled himself and his evil administration in and through
these earthly kings who ruled over his earthly dominions.
3. These rulers of Tyre and Babylon appropriated to themselves
divine honors and prerogatives. We find this aspect in Isaiah 14 as well as Ezekiel 28.
In closing, let us look at the extraordinary nature of the description
given in Ezekiel 28:11-19. “Thou sealest up the sum, full of wisdom, and perfect in beauty. “ Lucifer was complete and perfect in all these aspects. “Thou wast in Eden the garden of God.“ Here in verse 13, we see that in primeval paradise, not the Eden of Adam but the garden of God, he was covered with all imaginable splendor: “Every precious stone was thy covering. “ Verse 14 says that the place was, the holy mountain of God. “In the day that thou wast created.” Two times (vss. 13 and 15) his unusual origin is referred to. This is certainly inappropriate if applied to the king of Tyre. The Bible mentions Adam having been created, but all the posterity of Adam were not created, but born. “Thou art the anointed cherub that covereth” (vs. 14). Regardless of how this verse is spiritualized, there is no way to deal satisfactorily with the designation of cherub outside the application to a spiritual being. In every instance where cherubim appear in the Bible, they are always in very close proximity to God. Usually, they are bearing the throne of God when He manifests Himself in His glory. They are guardians of the inaccessibility of the Holy Presence of God.
Additional references are: Ezekiel 1; Psalm 18; Exodus 25:20; I Chronicles 28:18. There is no reasonable way that this designation can be spiritualized to apply to the king of Tyre. “I have set thee so; thou wast upon the holy mountain of God” (vs. 14). This most likely signifies the divine presence of God and His glory around whose feet Ezekiel beheld the appearance of fire (1:27). And as Moses saw earlier (Exod. 24:10, 17): “Under his feet as it were a paved work
of a sapphire stone ... And the sight of the glory of the Lord was like devouring fire.” “Thou wast perfect in thy ways from the day thou wast created, till iniquity was found in thee” (vs. 15). This is certainly unsuitable and inappropriate to apply to the King of Tyre. He was not originally perfect, nor was he created, nor did he later fall from some previous condition of perfection. However, it is an accurate description of the career of Satan. Colossians 1:16 and Ephesians 6:12, compared with Job 1:6 and 8:44, presuppose the fall of Satan from an original state of righteousness. Isaiah 14:13-16 also describes Satan’s fall and his attempt to usurp the prerogatives of God. “Thine heart was lifted up because of thy beauty, thou hast corrupted
thy wisdom by reason of thy brightness “ (vs. 1 7). First Timothy 3:6 and
Isaiah 14 also contain information about his pride. Satan’s fall and condemnation began with pride. “Therefore I will cast thee as profane out of the mountain of God: and I will destroy thee, 0 coveting cherub, from the midst of the stones of fire. . . . I will cast thee to the ground.... I will bring thee to ashes ... and never shalt thou be any more” (vss. 16-10). The precise fate predicted for Satan in Revelation 12:7-9 and 20:10 is the same as that set forth by the prophet Ezekiel. This is a most informative passage of Scripture which gives us added insight into Satan; his origin, his original state, his fall, and his eventual end.
LXII THE DECREE OF CYRUS
The year 539 B.C. was a turning point in the lives of the exiles. We
read in Daniel 5 how in that year Cyrus led the Medo-Persians into
Babylon, killed Belshazzar, and became the dominant world power (the chest and arms of silver).
The Persians had an unusual government policy. Whenever they
conquered a country where they found captives who had been taken
from their homelands, they released those captives. This was unique in the military world at that time and possibly was developed by Cyrus
because he records this policy on an artifact known as the Cyrus Cylinder. This discovery validates the policy as recorded in the last chapter of II Chronicles and the first chapter of the book of Ezra.
This Persian policy takes on even more dramatic implications
when we remember that Isaiah 45, written about 150 years earlier, predicted this very event. Verse 1 states:
Thus saith the Lord to his anointed, to Cyrus, whose light hand
I have holden, to subdue nations before him; and I will loose the
loins of kings, to open before him the two leaved gates; and the
gates shall not be shut.
Throughout chapter 45, we have indications that God was behind
the victories which Cyrus enjoyed, and especially the victory at Babylon when Belshazzar’s loins were loosened so that his knees knocked together. Verse 13 says, “He shall build my city” (that is, Jerusalem, referred to back in Isaiah 44:28) “and will let go my captives, not for price nor re-ward, saith the Lord of hosts.“ This is a wonderful prophecy. We know from secular history that this proclamation was made in 539 B.C., the same year Babylon was defeated and Belshazzar was slain. We can also tie this date to the historical account contained in II Chronicles 36:22, where the historian relates, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit:
Now in the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, that the word of
the Lord spoken by the mouth of Jeremiah might be accomplished,
the Lord stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia, that he made a proclamation through out all his kingdom, and put it in writing, saying,
Verse 23 contains the historical edict of Cyrus:
Thus saith Cyrus king of Persia, All the kingdoms of the earth
hath the Lord God of heaven given me, and he hath charged me
to build him an house in Jerusalem, which is in Judah. Who is
there among you of all his people? The Lord his God be with
him, and let him go up.
Except by the sovereign hand of God, why would this man, the pagan
ruler of the Medo-Persian empire, make such a proclamation? In anticipation of it, Isaiah prophesied almost 150 years earlier (48:20):
Go ye forth of Babylon, flee ye from the Chaldeans, with a voice
of singing declare ye, tell this, utter it even to the end of the
earth, say ye, The Lord hath redeemed his servant Jacob.
Not only did Isaiah prophesy the event, but God commanded the exiles to get out of Babylon when the proclamation is made.
We read both in Chronicles and in Ezra, references to the promise
of Jeremiah 25:llff:`
And this whole land shall be a desolation, and an astonishment;
and these nations shall serve the king of Babylon seventy years.
And it shall come to pass, when seventy years are accomplished,
that I will punish the king of Babylon, and that nation, saith the
Lord, for their iniquity, and the land of the Chaldeans, and will
make it perpetual desolations.
Then for additional insight, look at Ezekiel 24:1-2:
Again in the ninth year, in the tenth month, in the tenth day of
the month, the word of the Lord came unto me, saying, Son of
man, write thee the name of the day, even of this same day: the
king of Babylon set himself against Jerusalem this same day.
I am amazed at the preciseness of this verse, because God is very
emphatic to Ezekiel regarding the month, the day, and the year. But
God also emphasized this back in II Kings 25:1:
And it came to pass in the ninth year of his reign, in the tenth
month, in the tenth day of the month, that Nebuchadnezzar
king of Babylon came, he, and all his host, against Jerusalem,
and pitched against it, and they built forts against it round
This was the year 589-588 B.C., beginning the two-year siege of Jerusalem until the eleventh year of the king. So, not only did Jeremiah prophesy the Babylonian captivity in 25:11-12, but as an eyewitness, he re-corded the fulfillment in chapter 52:4:
And it came to pass in the ninth year of his reign, in the tenth
month, in the tenth day of the month, that Nebuchadnezzar
king of Babylon came, he and all his army, against Jerusalem,
and pitched against it, and built forts against it round about.
It is apparent that this date is a valuable piece of information which
God wants us to have. Otherwise, He would not have mentioned it in
so many places. Why is there such a particular and repeated emphasis on the year, the month, and the day, as we have seen in these various passages? To find out we will turn to Haggai 2:15 ff:
And now, I pray you, consider from this day and upward, from
before a stone was laid upon a stone in the temple of the Lord:
Since those days were, when one came to an heap of twenty
measures, there were but ten: when one came to the press fat for
to draw out fifty vessels out of the press, there were but twenty.
I smote you with blasting and with mildew and with hail in all
the labours of your hands; yet ye turned not to me, saith the
Lord. Consider now from this day and upward, from the four
and twentieth day of the ninth month, even from the day that
the foundation of the Lord’s temple was laid, consider it.
And now the most important words, the last line of verse 19: from this
day will I bless you.
We know that the prophet Haggai was writing in 520 B.C. Looking
back to the edict of Cyrus in 539-538 B.C., we also know that the
captives returned from Babylon, under Zerubbabel, to Judah in what is classified as the first return. From the time they arrived back home in Jerusalem, until 520 B.C. when the book of Haggai was written, the
temple was still not rebuilt although the edict of Cyrus had commanded that the temple should be rebuilt.
The Jews who returned under Zerubbabel, apparently misunderstood
or inferred from their Scriptures, that the temple could not be
rebuilt until the desolations period of seventy years, which had been
predicted by the prophet Jeremiah, had expired. They were saying, “The time has not come. “ To them, the time that Jehovah’s house should be built had not come. Haggai 1:2 says: “Thus speaketh the Lord of hosts, saying, The people say, The time is not come, the time that the Lord’s house should be built.”
We read God’s reply to their excuse in Haggai 2:18-19: “Consider
now from this day will I bless you.“ The astounding fact is that from the
date emphasized by Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and the author of II Kings 15:1, the tenth day of Tebeth in 589 B.C. until Haggai’s date, the 24th day of Chisleh, 520 B.C., was a span of exactly 25,200 days which, when divided by 360 days (which is the prophetic year in Scripture) equals exactly seventy years. Through the prophet Haggai, the Spirit of God indicated the end of the seventy years of desolation, to the very day, as predicted by Jeremiah in chapter 25.
LXIII THE FIRST RETURN
Turning to the book of Ezra, we can see that following the decree
of Cyrus in 539-38 B.C., Zerubbabel recruited a large number of people for the return from Babylon to Jerusalem and Judah. The actual number of recruits is given in Ezra 2:64 as 42,360. In addition to these, were male and female servants numbering 7,337, plus 200 singing men and women, for a grand total of 49,897. Royal encouragement was given to Zerubbabel and his large company of pilgrims when Cyrus took all of the articles of the house of the Lord, which Nebuchadnezzar had carried away from Jerusalem, and gave them back to Zerubbabel, to be placed in the rebuilt temple.
Worship Restored In Ezra 3, we learn that upon arriving back in Jerusalem, the people immediately set up an altar and began their new life by celebrating the Feast of Tabernacles. After many years, the restoration of the prescribed worship of Jehovah had begun. They prepared burnt offerings on the altar, but verse 6 says, “the foundation of the temple of the Lord was not yet laid.
In the remainder of chapter 3, we read of a half-hearted attempt
to lay the foundation to the temple, but when the old men, who had
known the magnificence of Solomon’s temple prior to 586, saw it,
they found this meager attempt so dismal in comparison to the original that they wept. However, other people began to praise . There was such a confusion of sounds, with some weeping aloud and other shouting for joy, that the difference could not be distinguished.
The Chronology in Ezra Beginning in chapter 4, there is a section which was written in fifth century Aramaic. From 4:8 through 6:18, and in 7:12-26, we can read these Aramaic portions. They tend to validate the book of Ezra and give it the fifth century B.C. date which scholars believe to be correct.
Beginning in chapter 4, the first five verses detail for us chronologically what occurred after the return to the land. The enemies of Judah and Benjamin heard that the people of the exile were building a temple. They went to Zerubbabel and asked to help with the project. Zerubbabel naturally refused (vs. 3). He told them, “we are going to do this ourselves because the king of Persia has commanded us to complete this project.” However, the inhabitants of the land discouraged the people of Judah and frightened them through hired counselors who frustrated them all the days of Cyrus and until the reign of Darius, king of Persia. Two kings are mentioned here: Cyrus, king of Persia, who reigned from 539 to 529 B.C., and Cambyses (529-522). Darius, mentioned here in verse 5 was Darius I who reigned from 522 to 485 B.C. Ahasuerus, whose Persian name was Xerxes, reigned from 485 to 465 B.C. Verse 7 mentions Artaxerxes, who ruled from 465 to 424. To complete the Persian chronology beyond the fisting of Ezra, there was Darius, II (424-404), Artaxerxes, II (404-359), Artaxerxes, III (359-338), Arses (338-335), Darius, III (335-331). In the time of Darius, III, the Persian empire was overthrown by Alexander the Great, thus ending the kingdom of silver and initiating the kingdom of Greece, the belly and thighs of brass, as prophesied in the dream of Nebuchadnezzar.
First Opposition Returning to the narrative in Ezra 4, we learn that the enemies of the Jews frustrated their attempts to build the temple until the reign of Darius who ascended the throne in 522 B.C. Earlier, we read that Haggai dated his book to the second year of Darius, in 520 B.C., at which time God began to bless the people and the seventy years of desolation predicted by Jeremiah came to an end.
Beginning in verse 6, Ezra picks up a different narrative, mentioning
Xerxes who reigned form 485 to 465, during whose reign the
events of Esther took place. Then in verse 7, he mentions the reign of
In relating the opposition which took place during the reign of
Artaxerxes, Ezra was recording events that occurred during his own
lifetime. The events about the return and original attempt to rebuild
the temple, and the opposition under Cyrus and Xerxes, were historical to Ezra. As the author of the book, he recorded them under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit as historical events. To place Ezra historically, look at chapter 7:1, 6, and 8:
How after these things, in the reign of Artaxerxes king of Persia,
Ezra ... went up from Babylon; and he was a ready scribe
in the law of Moses, . And he came to Jerusalem in the fifth
month, which was in the seventh year of the king.
That was in 458-457 B.C.
Opposition to a Wall Continuing in Ezra 4:7, Ezra relates some events that occurred during his own lifetime. The chapter records an attempt to rebuild the wall which predated, by a short time, the successful rebuilding of the wall by Nehemiah. The inhabitants of the land, the evil opponents of the Jews, were angry when they saw the Jews attempt to rebuild the city walls. It must be remembered that the earlier grant of Cyrus to allow the rebuilding of the temple was a decree of religious freedom.
They were not at that time given permission to rebuild the walls. That
would have been a decree of military freedom, because once a city had its walls intact, it was able to resist a military invasion or a siege for one to two years. The Persians at that time had not allowed the Jews to rebuild the walls.
However, what went on back in the land was of no real concern
to those in control in Persia. So, following the completion of the temple in Jerusalem, the Jews attempted to rebuild the wall. Needless to say, their enemies did not want this to take place. So (vs. 11) they sent a letter to King Artaxerxes which read (vss. 12-13):
The Jews which came up from thee to us are come unto Jerusalem,
building the rebellious and the bad city, and have set up
the walls thereof, and joined the foundations. Be it known now
unto the king, that, if this city be builded, and the walls set up
again, then will they not Pay toll, tribute, and custom, and so
thou shalt endamage the revenue of the kings.
In verse 14 we see the false piety and false loyalty those inhabit-ants
were pretending to have toward Artaxerxes, saying that they were
in the service of the king, “and it was not meet for us to see the king’s
dishonour, therefore we have sent and certified the king.“ They did not want to see the work of God succeed and were satanically motivated to prevent it.
In verses 17-22, we read the order from Artaxerxes that the work
on the walls should cease. When the opposition received the document, they sent an armed militia to force the inhabitants of Jerusalem to stop the work on the walls.
Review of Earlier Opposition In chapter 5, Ezra looked back historically and reminded us that it was the preaching of the post-exilic prophets, Haggai and Zechariah, who in 520 B.C. motivated the people to resume work on the temple. Then he gives some additional information about the nature of that opposition.
According to verse 3, the leaders of the opposition, with Tatnai
their governor, demanded of Zerubbabel, “Who hath commanded you to
build this house, and to make up this wall?” Zerubbabel informed them
that the decree authorizing them to return and rebuild the temple had
been issued by Cyrus in the first year of his reign. Tatnai then sent a
letter to Darius requesting that the royal archives be searched to see if the Jews were telling the truth and to send them his decision concerning the matter.
The Decree of Darius In chapter 6, we read that Darius had the archives searched and in one of the fortresses they found an abstract of Cyrus’s earlier decree. Is it not interesting that they were able, in 520 B.C., to look into their ancient filing system and find a document written approximately nine-teen years earlier. Some businesses today could not find a document mailed or received that many years before. Verses 3-5 give details of Cyrus’s commands concerning the temple as quoted by Darius in his reply to Tatnai. So, he continued in verse 7, “Let the work of this house of God alone; let the governor of the Jews and the elders of the Jews build this house of God in
Darius went on to say that he was making an additional decree and it
was addressed to Tatnai and his allies. The full cost of the rebuilding
was to be paid from the royal treasury out of the taxes of the provinces. And it was to be done without delay! Those opponents of the Jews, being citizens of a Persian province, had to pay taxes to Persia and now they were told their tax money would be used to further the work they were trying to stop. Can you imagine their chagrin?
King Darius went even further and ordered that whatever the
Jews needed for offerings for their God, whether rams, bulls, lambs,
goats, or fine oil, was to be given to them without fail on a daily basis.
Finally, the king said that any man who violated his edict would have a timber taken from his house and he himself would be impaled on it.
His house would then be made a heap of refuse.
We know from secular history that the Persians had some unique
methods for torture; so this statement in Ezra is historically accurate.
The torture of impalation, they inherited from the Assyrians who had
invented it. So that particular method had been known for a couple of
centuries. This was God’s way of protecting His own and He caused
the wrath of men to praise Him. What appeared to be opposition in the beginning, God used for His glory in the end so that the opposition became a source of blessing when the enemy had to provide the means which resulted in a more rapid building of the temple. Chapter 6 describes the celebration that marked the completion of the temple.
LXIV THE SECOND RETURN
More About Ezra
Chapter 7 begins with the second return of more exiles to Jerusalem
under the personal leadership of Ezra. The first return was led by
Zerubbabel and culminated in the completion of the second temple.
Chapter 7 begins in 457 B.C., almost sixty years after the rebuilt temple was completed.
The World of Ezra’s Day When Ezra returned to the land of Judah in the middle fifth century B.C., other major events were happening throughout the civilized world. Soldiers and judges in Athens began to receive regular salaries.
The temple of Zeus was completed in 460 B.C. Herodatus, the father of history, was born in 485 B.C. and died in 424 B.C. Buddha died in 480 B.C. Confucius died in 479. Socrates was born in 470 and Euripedes, the Greek dramatist, was born in 484 B.C.
All of the Persian Wars took place in that era. When the Persian
army was defeated by the Greeks at Marathon in 490 B.C., the event
gave rise to our current term, the marathon run. The Persians defeated the Spartans at Thennapolae in 480 while Xerxes, I, burned Athens, and in the same year, the Acropolis was destroyed. The Athenians destroyed the Persian fleet in the battle of Salamis in 480 B.C. We will see in the book of Esther that these Persian Wars impacted on these events also. The Ionian war had occurred in 499-494 B.C., and the building of the first temple of Saturn in Rome was completed in 498 B.C.
In addition to these things, many significant medical accomplishments
were taking place. The Indian surgeon Sisrata performed cataract operations in 500 B.C. Hippocrates, the Greek physician known as the father of medicine, was born in 460 B.C. This was only three years before Ezra led the exiles back to Jerusalem in the second return.