Who or What is Lucifer?
There are two specific sections of scripture that give us some insight into the creation and fall of Lucifer, whom we also know as Satan—the Devil. Isaiah 14:12–17 and Ezekiel 28:11–19 are highly figurative passages that many regard as describing the activity and fall of Lucifer. Your question actually comes from combining elements from these two passages. The name Lucifer is found in Isaiah 14: 12, while the description of his “activity and person” is found in Ezekiel 28:13–15. I will summarize some of the essential points from each of these sections that will give some us some understanding of the being called, Lucifer.
Isaiah 14: 12–17
I will start with this passage because it gives us the name, Lucifer and because it is a brief summary of the rebellion that led to his fall from Heaven. Like many of Isaiah’s prophecies, this one is filled with symbolic words and images. Isaiah prophesied about Israel, Judah, Jerusalem, the Captivity, the Return, the Remnant, the heathen Nations and their Kings, the Messiah, the Church, the Tribulation, the Day of Judgment, the Millennium, and the future Kingdom of Heaven. God gave him words to speak that did not even make sense to him—he could not explain them, all he could do was to speak them. Many of his prophesies and those of the other Old Testament Prophets can only be understood in light of other Old or New Testament teachings. If this passage stood alone, it would be nearly impossible to interpret—just as would many of the prophecies that pointed to the Messiah. But, it does not stand alone. Taken in comparison to several other passages of scripture, it tells of an episode that occurred in the time before the Creation of Man.
There are many teachers who believe that the subject of these verses is one of the Kings of the nations that opposed and troubled God’s people at the time leading up to the Babylonian Captivity. They present a good argument, but, even though the language is poetic and figurative, there are elements that just cannot be applied to any but an angelic being. And, Jesus himself made reference to this episode in Luke 10:18, when He spoke of seeing Satan, “…fall from Heaven”. Something, at some time in the past, had occurred that preceded this “fall”. Only the passages in Isaiah and Ezekiel give us any insight.
Lucifer is the name given in Isaiah 14: 12. The name in Hebrew is, “heylel” – shining one or brightness. This comes from the same root for the word “halal” – praise, boast, glory (the root for the word hallelujah). The idea is further developed by the phrase, “…son of the morning”. The implication, then, is that Lucifer was created to “shine” for God. Just as the stars, the Sun, the moon, and all the angels—he was created by God to be one who gave praise / glory to God. Do not confuse this with the symbolic titles given to Jesus, the Son of God: The Bright and Morning Star, and The Daystar.
The exclamatory question, “How could it be that you are fallen…” is answered in the verses that follow. The question implies surprise, wonder, mystery—he had it so good—what could have happened. This mystery is not fully answered here, only the arrogant pride of the “person” is revealed. When we look at the passage from Ezekiel 28, we see more of the background as to what led to the arrogance.
The 5 “I will” statements reveal the attitude of Lucifer’s heart:
I will ascend to heaven –
I will exalt my throne above the “stars” (other angels) of God –
I will sit upon the mount of the congregation –
I will ascend above the clouds –
I will be like the Most High –
These statements don’t fit into the history of any of the Nations that came against the Kingdoms of Israel and Judah. In other sections of scripture, even in Isaiah, God brings his judgment against those who opposed His people—often they are quite severe and very descriptive. But none of those are addressed like this one, none are given such a highly suggestive name, and none are accused as revealed here. Except, that is, for the object of the prophecy of Ezekiel 28. If this passage stood alone in addressing this subject, it would be difficult determine to whom God is speaking. But, it doesn’t. By making a comparison to other passages, we can see that it was not an earthly king that was the object of these words, nor was it a Nation that had an earthly kingdom. This is a description of the source of all pride and rebellion—it is the account of the “Fall” of the one who would be known as Satan (the Adversary of God and man).
God’s response was clear and authoritative, “Yet, you shall be brought down…” The final authority rests with God—His judgments are certain. The one who had been created to “shine for God” had instead used his position to glorify himself. Beside the lesson we learn about the fall of Lucifer, this passage also teaches us about the sin of pride. It was the thing that led top the downfall of Lucifer, and it is the root of many of the ills of mankind. Pride is a horrible evil, and it gives rise to all manner of wickedness. And, it brings undesired / unexpected results.
As we turn now to this passage, we are brought back to the beginning of the history of time. The language use here is once again highly symbolic, figurative, and poetic. This prophecy comes in the line of a series of judgments that God is issuing against the Nations that opposed God and His people (Israel and Judah). Although the Israelites had violated God’s holiness, rejected His Law, and forsaken His plan for them, the Nations were still responsible for their activity against God and his people. They had touched God’s anointed—and they would be judged.
This section begins with the address to the “King of Tyre” (vs 11). In the prophecy preceding this one, God had addressed the “Prince of Tyre” (vs 2). The “Prince” is the earthly ruler—the “King” is the invisible and ultimate power behind him. Just as the Kings of Israel and Judah were to rule the earthly kingdom, it was the invisible King (God himself) who was the ultimate ruler. When those Kings followed God’s ways the Nation prospered and the people were blessed. When they rejected His direction (given through His Word, the Priests, and the Prophets) they were open to failure, invasion, famine, etc.—the curse.
Daniel 10:10–14 gives us some further insight into this principle. When Daniel was praying, God sent him a message to be delivered by an Angel. But that Angel was opposed by a Satanic power—the Prince of the Kingdom of Persia—until another Angel was sent to help overcome this opposition. Although the titles are different here, the principle is the same. There is an “unseen force” behind the Kingdoms of this world. It is either Godly or Satanic.
Although many teachers consider this to be just another prophecy against the earthly rulers and nations of Ezekiel’s day, there are certain things which make this stand out over all those other ones. I can see this as only referring to one creature: Satan.
1. vs 12 – You seal up the sum, full of wisdom, perfect in beauty. This phrase says he was the last of his kind—no one else like him. He was wise beyond all others, and beautiful beyond description—in the way he was created, that is.
2. vs 13 – You have been in Eden, the Garden of God. Besides Adam, Eve, and the Lord God, the only other “person” that was in Eden was Satan. This “Eden” cannot be accepted as a reference to some pagan or heathen concept of heaven—God would not acknowledge the existence of such. There is only one true Eden, and Satan can be the only obvious being referred to here. The “Eden” of Genesis was withdrawn for the earth after the rejection of Adam and Eve. It won’t be restored to Earth until after the “re-creation”, called the New Heaven and the New Earth.
3. vs 13 - …thy covering…thy workmanship… The jeweled covering of this creature is one of the highly figurative descriptions found in this Book of Prophecy. Ezekiel saw many wondrous things—things for which he really had no words. Consider the description of his vision of the Glory of the Throne of God in Ezekiel 1 and 10. Every book and every commentary on this passage sees things differently—none agree perfectly, and some disagree radically. Ezekiel was trying to present an image of something for which there are no human words—all he could use was figurative and symbolic language.
I think also of the words of Paul in 2 Corinthians 12: 4 when he was speaking of his own experience of being taken into heaven, “How he (Paul) was caught-up into Paradise and heard unspeakable words which it is unlawful to utter.” Paul was simply saying that there were no human words fit to express the wonder, glory, and awe of what he saw.
Ezekiel's description of this “being” is not to be taken literally but seen as symbolic. What did it mean? We will understand perfectly in eternity. For now, we can only make educated, and enlightened guesses. Some believe that this being is actually covered in gleaming, sparkling gems and that the musical instruments mentioned were actually part of his person. This is where the information you heard has come from. If this is so, then what was the purpose of the ability to make music? Again, some say that it was to be used to worship God. They see this as his created position.
Other interpreters believe that this is simply a reference to the “dazzling beauty” of his original being. And that his beauty was to reflect the glory of God not to draw attention to himself. One thing is certain, his responsibility was to give glory to God, not to exalt himself!
4. vs 14 - You were the anointed cherub that covers, and I had put you in the holy height of God where you were; you have walked up and down in the midst of the stones of fire
The meaning of the title “anointed cherub” is again one of differing opinion. The title “cherub” is the singular form of the word “cherubim”, a word found also in the 10th Chapter of Ezekiel (a description which parallels that in Ezekiel 1). Its use here certainly signifies that Ezekiel was relating this “being” to the same class as the others—they were an angelic order of being, also known as the living creatures. They are found at the entrance to the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3:24), and as attendants over the Mercy Seat in the Tabernacle, and the Temple (Exodus 25:18–22; and 1Kings 6:23–28).
In light of this, it must be accepted that Ezekiel’s reference to this creature is that it is another of the class of Cherubim.
5. vs 15 - You were perfect in your ways from the day that you were created, till iniquity was found in you. – Perfect? This cannot be a King of a natural kingdom. Since the fall of Adam, no one has been created perfect. This can, therefore, be nothing other than a reference to something created before Adam and Eve. That had to be, again, someone of the angelic class.
6. vss 15–18 - …therefore I will… - These judgments are similar to that pronounced over Lucifer in Isaiah 14:15–17, and spoken by Jesus in Luke 10:18 in regard to Satan.
Combining all these passages we can see a presentation of the creation of Lucifer, his arrogant rebellion, and his present state of judgment.
Therefore, the creature spoken of in these passages is an angelic being of the order of the Cherubim—not the king of an earthly kingdom—one who was perfect from the time of his creation, was beautiful above all others, is one of a kind, was present in Eden, filled himself with pride over the multitude of his power/ability, desired to exalt his throne above that of God’s, was cast down into the earth, and awaits eternal destruction. That sounds like the same person Jesus spoke of in Luke 10:18, and that Isaiah identified as Lucifer in Isaiah 14:12. It is Satan—it can be no other.
Clearly, Lucifer is the Devil, and these passages help us to understand something about his creation, his original purpose, his rebellion, his destruction, and especially his arrogance. This arrogance is repeated by nations, kingdoms, religions, philosophies—by individuals who have no place to “rebuke” God, nor to assume the position of the very God who created them. It was the source of Lucifer’s fall, and it is the same source of tragedy that is leading many to national and personal destruction.