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Was Satan a Worship Leader?
A popular claim these days, especially among worship leaders, is that the Bible identifies Satan as a one-time worship leader, indeed the "lead worshiper" of heaven. Is this an accurate portrait? What, in fact, do we know about Satan's "pre-history"? And how do we apply it all to us?
LET'S TAKE A CLOSER LOOK:
The main passage behind this idea is Ezekiel 28.
Ezekiel 28 and its Neighbors
Ezekiel 28 contains two oracles against the king of Tyre --the first is a straightforward prophecy against the king, mocking him for his pretensions, telling him that he is just a man and not a god, and that he will die like a man (vv. 2,9).
The second continues the ideas of the first, but takes the form of a lament at the death/downfall of the King of Tyre and the city itself.
Some suggest that the first part of Ezekiel 28 speaks to the human ruler of Tyre, but the second part of the chapter is something different, addressing (or at least "really" being about) Satan. Does the odd 'doubling' support this idea?
Not really. Instead, a glance at the surrounding chapters shows that this pair of prophecies is just one of a whole series of pairs.
In other words, this passage fits the pattern. That suggests that this lament is, like all the others, directed to the same person as the prophecy just before it.
The Language of Lament
Now a lament at the death of a king or great man is expected to extol his great virtues and accomplishments --just as a modern day eulogy might do. A fine example of this is David's lament over the deaths of Saul and Jonathan (2 Samuel 1). Though its final purpose is to taunt and condemn, the lament of Ezekiel 28 (as the somewhat similar lament over the king of Babylon in Isaiah 14) uses just this sort of language. So, if some of the language may seem to be too 'high' to speak of a mere man does not mean it isn't really about a man. That's how laments and eulogies work!
(Compare too some of the exalted language in the other prophecies in this section of Ezekiel. For example --in the prophecy against Pharaoh Assyria is called a great cedar in Lebanon "the envy of all the trees of Eden in the garden of God" (31:9))
The lament describes the king of Tyre in language drawn from the clothing of the high priest and of the Garden of Eden --the garden on God's mountain. Then it speaks about his pride and downfall. Now the language is being directed against the king of Tyre and his kingdom --let's not forget that. But what about the imagery Ezekiel borrows to describe his/their prior glory? That is the key question.
"Guardian cherub" and Priest
Some believe that the language about this one who was in Eden and was its 'guardian cherub' as referring to Satan before his fall. But is there good reason to think so?
Consider the following:
How do we apply this?
"Musician"? "Worship Leader?"
The idea that this person was a musician is based on a difficult line in v.13. The verse describes how this exalted person is adorned. The debated phrase appears alongside a list of jewels he wears. The KJV speaks of 'tabrets [tambourines] and pipes' but the language, connected to that of the 'stones' may well be describing something like the 'settings and mountings', a further description of his 'high priestly breastpiece'.
Of course, if the language of this chapter is not based on a story about Satan but on that of the first man who was 'king and priest' to God, then even if the phrase refers to instruments, there is nothing here about Satan being a musician or worship leader. Instead, it would just add a little to the picture of mankind acting as "priest" to God.
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