Sunday word BY PROSPER TINGINI
The first image of satan imprinted into my mind was of a creature too hideous to look at. I was around three years of age when I would spend time with my late schoolteacher mother in her Grade 1 classroom while she taught (may her soul rest in peace). During her religious lessons, we would often read through some primary school biblical textbooks which would depict horrendous images of satan in various horror-looking personalities.
The most vivid one to me was of him being portrayed as a ghostly-looking mixture of animal/human beast, with sharp long horns and huge protruding eyes on a half-human and half-monster head. He had human hands and animal feet, sitting next to a dug-out huge “hell” of fire, holding a huge fork. In the fire-blazing dungeon were piles upon piles of crying human beings being burned alive and in terrible agony. An impression was created where it was assumed that it was the continuous duty and responsibility of satan to make sure that all those who disobeyed God ended up in his “burning hell”, where he would roast people to ensure they felt maximum pain, moving their bodies around in the fire using the huge fork he always held in his hand, so it seemed.
From an early age, children were made to fear satan, rather than fear God. People grew up with the belief that satan has some supernatural powers; that he is a powerful entity. The fear of satan dominated the religious youths. It is that religious fear that was and still is used to convert children to Christianity as they grow into adulthood. Some children’s mentalities ended up making satan a real-life all-too-powerful religious being, such that as they grew up, some of them could have ended up wanting to be identified with him. It is then no wonder that we have always had some satanic cults springing up everywhere across the globe. Too much concentration on satan as the “powerful one” might influence some misguided minds to then want to worship or possess such devilish powers in an effort to belong to something powerful. This is the reason why some people end up joining the satanic demonic-inspired cults and other forms of practices such as wizardry, sorcery and witchcraft.
Reading through the whole book of Revelation, I now realise that such stories of satan as a fearless fighter against good are indeed portrayed as a religious reality, according to the writings of Apostle John, which he penned when he was a prisoner living in isolation as a captive during the Christian persecutions. The book makes satan the main actor/player therein. All those horror images of him we were told as children are all derived from Revelations. I know I am subjecting myself to some vociferous criticisms from some quarters, but the whole visions as depicted by Apostle John rather sound like some dreams of a deranged mind. I would conclude that years of isolation in solitary confinement could have affected Apostle John to such an extent that it had some effect on his mindset. What we now assume to be monstrous divine visions could in fact have been imaginary visions of a tormented and tortured human being (may his soul rest in peace).
The Bible was written by a group of people who sourced writings by religious figures of centuries past. It is them who decided on the contents and the composition of it. The Bible did not fall from heaven as some people would mistakenly assume. It was a human collection of 66 religious writings collected from some religious centres concentrated around some archeological biblical sites. The numerous discoveries of writings, written by different individuals, contain history, laws, prophecies, proverbs, songs and letters of Paul, which constitute almost half of all the New Testament writings. It is said some 40 men wrote the Bible under the inspiration of God between 1513BC and 98AD. Why they chose to include Apostle John’s Revelations and make it the last book is something we cannot answer. However, I personally would advocate for a different approach to the book of Revelations should there be any other opportunity for a rewriting of the Bible.
Satan is not a god, neither is he a prophet that can foretell the future. The term satan is derived from a Hebrew word that denotes an accuser, adversary or someone in the opposition of good things or rules. There is an element of rebellion attached to him. He often comes in various forms. In the scriptures, Genesis 3:1-19 carries the story of Adam and Eve being persuaded by a serpent to defy God’s order (law) of eating of the forbidden fruit. The serpent represents satan and he succeeds in influencing the two to disobey God. He is in opposition to God and uses cunning methods to make himself look good and look like the hero to God’s subjects. He will almost always get a following wherever he is or whenever he is in action.
A commonly held story of how satan come into being is the belief that he was originally an angel of God by the name Lucifer, who rebelled against God and was expelled from God’s Kingdom. Thereafter he began roaming the world in search of converts so that he could build an empire for himself, in opposition to God. Isaiah 14:12-14 reads: “How you are fallen from heaven, O Day Star (Lucifer), son of Dawn! How you are cut down to the ground you who laid the nations low! You said in your heart, ‘I will ascend to heaven above the stars of God; I will build my throne on high altitude; I will sit on the mount of assembly in the far north; I will ascend above the heights of the clouds, I will make myself like the Most High.’”
What is evident is that satan went forth to set up a dominion parallel to, and in opposition to God’s. To summarise Lucifer’s story, it would be evident that satan was at one time under God’s command but then decided to disobey Him. In one way or the other, he sinned and was removed from God’s Kingdom. This means that even in heaven there is a law (Hebrews 8:5, Exodus 25:40). Satan then decided to set up his own kingdom, which would be different from God’s. Satan then preferred a society in which no specific law existed, except common sense and logic. This is a free society where life is determined by the level of intellect and self-control. It leaves the choices to the individuals. It is a very appealing alternative proposition and right here on our planet this proposition has many supporters, converts of satan. This alternative assumes that God could have done things differently, in a better way. Satan hates God’s laws and thinks that it is not absolutely necessary that the law inhibits freedom. That the law chains people to the ground and it’s a burden to people. That the law assumes that creation means people should be tied up to do the right things only, always.
Paul writes to the Thessalonians 2:3, 8 (NIV): “Don’t let any deceive you in any way, for that day will not come until the rebellion occurs and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the man doomed to destruction” Satan is defined as one who does not obey God’s law.
Prosper Tingini is the president of the Children of God Missionary Assembly. Registration in progress for those who wish to undertake Bible Studies or train as Ministers of Religion. Contact 0771 260 195 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org