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Digression 12: Lucifer

Is. 14:12-14: “How you are fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! How you are cut down to the ground, you who weakened the nations! For you have said in your heart: ‘I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God; I will also sit on the mount of the congregation on the farthest sides of the north; I will ascend above the heights of the clouds, I will be like the Most High’”.


It is assumed that Lucifer was once a powerful angel who sinned at the time of Adam and was therefore cast down to earth, where he is making trouble for God’s people.


1. The words “devil”, “satan” and “angel” never occur in this chapter. This is the only place in Scripture where the word “Lucifer” occurs.

2. There is no evidence that Is. 14 is describing anything that happened in the garden of Eden; if it is, then why are we left 3,000 years from the time of Genesis before being told what really happened there?

3. Lucifer is described as being covered in worms (v. 11) and mocked by men (v. 16) because he no longer has any power after his casting out of heaven (vs. 5-8,12); so there is no justification for thinking that Lucifer is now on earth leading believers astray.

4. Why is Lucifer punished for saying, “I will ascend into heaven” (v. 13), if he was already there?

5. Lucifer is to rot in the grave: “Your pomp is brought down to Sheol (the grave),...and the worms cover you” (v. 11). Seeing angels cannot die (Lk. 20:35-36), Lucifer therefore cannot be an angel; the language is more suited to a man.

6. Verses 13 and 14 have connections with 2 Thes. 2:3-4, which is about the “man of sin” - thus Lucifer points forward to another man - not an angel.


1. The N.I.V. and other modern versions have set out the text of Isaiah chapters 13-23 as a series of “burdens” on various nations, e.g. Babylon, Tyre, Egypt. Is. 14:4 sets the context of the verses we are considering: “you will take up this proverb (parable) against the king of Babylon...”. The prophecy is therefore about the human king of Babylon, who is described as “Lucifer”. On his fall: “those who see you will...consider you, saying: ‘Is this the man who made the earth tremble...?’” (v. 16). Thus Lucifer is clearly defined as a man.

2. Because Lucifer was a human king, “All the kings of the nations... shall speak and say to you: ‘Have you also become weak as we? Have you become like us?” (vs. 9-10). Lucifer was therefore a king like any other king.

3. Verse 21 says that Lucifer’s “children” will be destroyed. Verse 22 says that Babylon’s “posterity” will be destroyed, thus equating them. ‘Lucifer’ desired to rise up to heaven, and so did Babylon (Jer. 51:53); “her judgment [i.e. her sin that warrants her judgment] reaches to heaven” (Jer. 51:9).

4. Remember that this is a “proverb (parable) against the king of Babylon” (v. 4). “Lucifer” means “the morning star”, which is the brightest of the stars; it is in fact the planet Venus. In the parable, this star proudly decides to “ascend (higher) into heaven...exalt my throne above the (other) stars of God” (v. 13). Because of this, the star is cast down to the earth. The star represents the king of Babylon. Daniel chapter 4 explains how Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon proudly surveyed the great kingdom he had built up, thinking that he had conquered other nations in his own strength, rather than recognizing that God had given him success. “your greatness (pride) has grown and reaches to the heavens” (v. 22). Because of this “he was driven from men and ate grass like oxen; his body was wet with the dew of heaven till his hair had grown like eagles’ feathers and his nails like birds’ claws” (v. 33). This sudden humbling of one of the world’s most powerful men to a deranged lunatic was such a dramatic event as to call for the parable about the falling of the morning star from heaven to earth. Stars are often symbolic of powerful people, e.g. Gen. 37:9; Is. 13:10 (concerning the leaders of Babylon); Ez. 32:7 (concerning the leader of Egypt); Dan. 8:10 cp. v.24. Ascending to heaven and falling from heaven are Biblical idioms often used for increasing in pride and being humbled respectively - see Job 20:6; Jer. 51:53 (about Babylon); Lam. 2:1; Mt. 11:23 (about Capernaum): “, Capernaum, who are exalted to heaven, will be brought down to Hades” (the grave).

5. Verse 17 accuses Lucifer of making the “world as a wilderness, (destroying) its cities... (not opening) the house of his prisoners... (filling) the face of the world with cities” (vs.21), “the exactress of gold” (vs.4 A.V. margin). These are all descriptions of Babylonian military policy - razing whole areas to the ground (as they did to Jerusalem), transporting captives to other areas and not letting them return to their homeland (as they did to the Jews), building new cities and taking tribute of gold from nations they oppressed. Thus there is emphasis on the fact that Lucifer was not even going to get the burial these other kings had had (vs. 18-19), implying that he was only a human king like them, seeing his body needed burying.

6. Verse 12 says that Lucifer was to be “cut down to the ground” - implying he was a tree. This provides a further link with Dan. 4:8-16, where Nebuchadnezzar and Babylon are likened to a tree being cut down.

7. Babylon and Assyria are often interchangeable phrases in the prophets; thus, having spoken of the demise of the king of Babylon, v 25 says, “I will break the Assyrian...”. The prophecies about Babylon in Is. 47 are repeated concerning Assyria in Nah. 3:3-5,18 and Zeph. 2:13,15; and 2 Chron. 33:11 says that the king of Assyria took Manasseh captive to Babylon - showing the interchangeability of the terms. Am. 5:27 says that Israel were to go into captivity “beyond Damascus”, i.e. in Assyria, but Stephen quotes this as “beyond Babylon” (Acts 7:43). Ezra 6:1 describes Darius the king of Babylon making a decree concerning the rebuilding of the temple. The Jews praised God for turning “the heart of the king of Assyria” (Ezra 6:22), again showing that they are interchangeable terms. The prophecy of Isaiah ch. 14, along with many others in Isaiah, fits in well to the context of the Assyrian invasion by Sennacherib in Hezekiah’s time, hence v. 25 describes the breaking of the Assyrian. Verse 13 is easier to understand if it is talking about the blasphemous Assyrians besieging Jerusalem, wanting to enter Jerusalem and capture the temple for their gods. Earlier the Assyrian king, Tiglath-Pileser, had probably wanted to do the same (2 Chron. 28:20,21); Is. 14:13: “For you have said in your heart: ‘I will ascend into heaven... (symbolic of the temple and ark - 1 Kings 8:30; 2 Chron. 30:27; Ps. 20: 2,6; 11:4; Heb. 7:26). I will also sit on the mount of the congregation (mount Zion where the temple was) on the farthest sides of the north” (Jerusalem - Ps. 48:1,2).

8. It is therefore necessary to understand “I will ascend to heaven” as hyperbole, as in 1 Sam. 5:12; 2 Chron. 28:9; Ezra 9:6; Ps. 107:26.

Bible Basics: Contents

Part 1: "The things concerning the Kingdom of God" Study 1: God 1.1  The Existence Of God || 1.2  The Personality Of God || Belief In Practice 1: Knowing God || 1.3  God's Name And Character || Belief In Practice 2: Grace (John Parkes) || Belief In Practice 3: The All Seeing God || Belief In Practice 4: God Is Omnipotent || Belief In Practice 5: Responding To The One God || 1.4     The Angels || Belief In Practice 6: God As Creator || Digression 1: God Manifestation || Digression 2:  Why The Trinity Was Accepted || Study 1: Questions Study 2: The Spirit Of God 2.1  Definition || 2.2  Inspiration || 2.3  Gifts Of The Holy Spirit || 2.4  The Withdrawal Of The Gifts || 2.5  The Bible The Only Authority || Digression 3: Is The Holy Spirit A Person? || Digression 4: The Principle Of Personification || Belief In Practice 7: The Implications Of Inspiration || Study 2: Questions Study 3: The Promises Of God 3.1  Introduction || 3.2  The Promise In Eden || 3.3  The Promise To Noah || 3.4  The Promise To Abraham || 3.5  The Promise To David || Belief In Practice 8: Covenant Relationship With God || Study 3: Questions Study 4: God And Death 4.1  The Nature Of Man || 4.2  The Soul || 4.3  The Spirit || 4.4  Death Is Unconsciousness || 4.5  The Resurrection || 4.6  The Judgment || Belief In Practice 9: Judgment Now || 4.7  The Place Of Reward: Heaven Or Earth?|| 4.8  Responsibility To God || 4.9  Hell || Digression 5: Purgatory || Digression 6: Ghosts And Reincarnation || Digression 7: The 'Rapture' || Belief In Practice 10: The Motivational Power Of Understanding Death || Study 4: Questions Study 5: The Kingdom Of God 5.1  Defining The Kingdom || 5.2  The Kingdom Is Not Now Established || 5.3  The Kingdom Of God In The Past || 5.4  The Kingdom Of God In The Future || 5.5  The Millennium || Digression 8: The Kingdom Of God Now (Graham Bacon) || Belief In Practice 11: What The Kingdom Of God Means Today || Study 5: QuestionsStudy 6: God And Evil 6.1  God And Evil || 6.2  The Devil And Satan || 6.3  Demons || Digression 9: The Implications And Origin Of The Belief In A Personal Satan || Digression 10: Witchcraft || Digression 11: What Happened In Eden? || Digression 12: Lucifer || Belief In Practice 12: Battle For The Mind || Study 6: Questions

Part 2: "The things concerning...the name of Jesus Christ" (Acts 8:12) Study 7: The Origin Of Jesus. 7.1  Old Testament Prophecies Of Jesus || 7.2  The Virgin Birth || 7.3  Christ's Place In God's Plan || 7.4  "In the beginning was the word" || Digression 13: Jesus The Son Of God (Michael Gates) || Digression 14: Did Jesus Create The Earth? || Belief In Practice 13: Jesus Didn’t Pre-exist: And So What? || Study 7: Questions Study 8: The Nature Of Jesus 8.1  Introduction || 8.2  Differences Between God And Jesus || 8.3  The Nature Of Jesus || 8.4  The Humanity Of Jesus || 8.5  The Relationship Of God With Jesus || Belief In Practice 14: The Real Christ || Digression 15: How The Real Christ Was Lost || Digression 16: The Divine Side Of Jesus || Study 8: Questions Study 9: The Work Of Jesus 9.1  The Victory Of Jesus || 9.2  The Blood Of Jesus || 9.3  Jesus As Our Representative || 9.4  Jesus And The Law Of Moses || 9.5  The Sabbath || Digression 17 The Crucifix || Digression 18: Was Jesus Born On Dec. 25th? || Belief In Practice 15: The Meaning Of Christ’s Resurrection For Us || Belief In Practice 16: Christ Died For Me- So What Should I Do? || Belief In Practice 17: The Real Cross || Belief In Practice 18: The Inspiration Of The Cross || Study 9: Questions || Study 10: Baptism Into Jesus 10.1  The Vital Importance Of Baptism || 10.2  How Should We Be Baptized? || 10.3  The Meaning Of Baptism || 10.4  Baptism And Salvation || Digression 19: Re-baptism || Digression 20 The Thief On The Cross || Belief In Practice 19: The Certainty Of Salvation || Study 10: Questions Study 11: Life In Christ 11.1  Introduction || 11.2  Holiness || 11.2.1  The Use Of Force || 11.2.2  Politics || 11.2.3  Worldly Pleasures || 11.3  Practical Christian Life || 11.3.1  Bible Study || 11.3.2  Prayer || 11.3.3  Preaching || 11.3.4  Ecclesial Life || 11.3.5  The Breaking Of Bread || 11.4  Marriage || 11.5  Fellowship || Study 11: Questions ||