The Devil Speaks
in the Old Testament

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The Bible, in eight of its chapters, records seven fascinating and distinct times Satan has spoken (Matthew and Luke write about the same conversation). This two-part article reviews the four Old Testament and three New Testament times the devil speaks. We will learn a great deal about man's greatest enemy right from his own mouth!

The Tempter's first conversation


1. Now the serpent (symbolic of the devil) was more cunning than any creature of the field which the LORD God had made. And he (through an animal who could speak) said to the woman, "Is it true that God has said, 'You shall not eat of any tree of the garden?' "

4. And the serpent (the devil) said to the woman, "In dying, you shall not surely die! 5. For God knows that in the day you eat of it, then your eyes shall be opened, and you shall be like God, deciding good and evil" (Genesis 3:1 - 5, HBFV throughout)

The first instance the Bible records of the devil speaking is, of course, his tempting of Eve in the Garden of Eden. His subtle deceptions foreshadow the craftiness he will later display in his effort to get Jesus to sin.

Notice how Satan cleverly twists and perverts the words of the Eternal. He knows that the Almighty told the first couple that they could "freely eat of EVERY tree in the garden" (Genesis 2:16) except for the tree of good and evil (verse 17). He reverses the focus from one of generosity and abundance - the great variety of food available - to one that strongly implies the Eternal was being stingy or playing some kind of sick game! The phrase "is it true that God has said, 'You shall not eat of ANY tree of the garden?" (Genesis 3:1) attempts to plant the notion that humans, although created with a need to eat, were put in a place where they are commanded NOT to consume any of the tasty food all around them!

God is not petty and did not create humans so that, like a sick spiritual voyeur, he could view them slowly starving. What we have is a window into the perverted, twisted mind of the adversary. Satan is revealing to us what kind of "god" HE would be if his attempt to wrest control of the universe from the Eternal had succeeded!

Eve then tries to correct the devil regarding what was commanded (Genesis 3:2). Lucifer quickly retorts with charges that God not only LIED to her but also is knowingly keeping her from reaching her full potential! His response to Eve is a classic example of projecting one's own beliefs onto someone else.

What does it mean to speak in TONGUES?
Map showing Old Testament events
WHY is the devil still alive?

Lucifer, upon his creation, was given every gift, blessing and skill that could be bestowed upon a created being. The Lord said of him that he sealed up "the measure of perfection, full of wisdom and perfect in beauty" (Ezekiel 28:12). He was first given the awesome responsibility of covering God's very glory upon his throne (verse 14), then sometime later was given the honor of helping to govern other angels (Isaiah 14:12 - 13, Revelation 12:3 - 4).

After a while, the devil began to think that he was somehow not fulfilling his potential. He began to feel that HE could run the universe far better than the Being who created him! He convinced himself, using the same line of reasoning he would use with Eve, that the seeming ABUNDANCE of blessings that was all around was not enough. There existed something much more valuable which could be possessed (in Satan's case, God's throne, in Eve's case, wisdom) which only required taking it from the Lord!

The Damned Being Plunged into Hell
The damned plunged into Hell
Luca Signorelli (1499 - 1502)

Job

7. And the LORD said to Satan, "From where do you come?" Then Satan answered the LORD and said, "From going to and fro in the earth, and from walking up and down in it."

8. And the LORD said to Satan, "Have you considered My servant Job . . .

9. And Satan answered the LORD and said, "Does Job fear God for nothing? 10. Have You not made a hedge around him, and around his house, and around all that he has on every side? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land. 11. But put forth Your hand now, and touch all that he has, and he will curse You to Your face" (Job 1:7 - 11)

Sometime after the above conversation, the devil and God speak again.

2. And the LORD said to Satan, "From where do you come?" And Satan answered the LORD and said, "From going to and fro in the earth, and from walking up and down in it."

3. And the LORD said unto Satan, "Have you considered My servant Job . . ."

4. And Satan answered the LORD and said, "Skin for skin, yea, all that a man has he will give for his life. 5. But indeed put forth Your hand now, and touch his bone and his flesh, and he will curse You to Your face" (Job 2:2 - 5)

This conversation shows us that the devil, even after he was cast from God's throne after trying to take over the universe (Isaiah 14:12 - 15, Ezekiel 28:16 - 17, Luke 10:18), still has face-to-face contact with him.

In Job we discover that the devil is a restless, homeless, hyperactive spirit that has no peace. His existence has been reduced to either presenting himself before God or traveling endlessly around the earth looking for things to do.

Satan could not deny that Job externally obeyed the Lord. What he called into question was his motivation for obedience. The only evidence the devil had, however, to support his charge was his experience witnessing how humans in general justify their actions. He did not know Job's heart (see our article on whether Satan can read our thoughts), as his charges against him were ultimately proven groundless (Job 1:20 - 22, 2:9, 42:7 - 8).

What we do have here, as in Eden, is a mirror into the devil's heart. He is projecting his own motivations onto Job. Lucifer is really stating that if HE were a human he would feign obedience if that is what it took to get what he wanted. Additionally, what few people realize, is that Lucifer is also indirectly accusing his Creator as well.

His charges strongly imply that God can only enjoy a mutual relationship with humans and receive, at best, external obedience if he BUYS THEM OFF for the fee of specially blessing and protecting them. The devil is insinuating that the Almighty's perfect outgoing love is NOT GOOD ENOUGH to warrant the same in return!

The devil challenges the Lord to stop "buying" relationships and boldly predicts that, should he do so, that Job will CURSE him to his face! The challenge is taken up and the great adversary is allowed to take away all of Job's blessings including his health. In the end, the devil is proved horribly WRONG and Job learns some valuable lessons.

Accusing the High Priest

1. And He (an angel) showed me (Zechariah the prophet, in a vision) Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the LORD (a pre-incarnate Jesus Christ), and Satan standing at his right hand to resist him.

2. And the LORD (Jesus, who sits at God's right hand) said to Satan, "May the LORD (God the Father) rebuke you, Satan! May even the LORD Who has chosen Jerusalem rebuke you! Is this not a brand plucked out of the fire?" (Zechariah 3:1 - 2)

Although the Bible does not record the actual words of the devil in the above confrontation, it is clear that he was given a chance to speak. Since his initial expulsion from heaven he has spent a good deal of time accusing man (Revelation 12:10).

Who are the players in the above scene? Zechariah is considered one of the Minor Prophets. In 539 B.C., Cyrus the Great of Persia conquers the Babylonian Empire and takes control of Jews in Babylon who were taken captive out of the Kingdom of Judah. In the same year, he allows captive Jews to return to their homeland. He also commands that Jerusalem's temple be rebuilt (Ezra 1:1 - 4). Those who return to rebuild the temple include Joshua (Jeshua) the High Priest (Haggai 1:1, 14). It is Joshua who will eventually head up the Temple rebuilding program (Ezra 3:8) and who, along with other priests, will rebuild the temple's altar (Ezra 3:2, 5:2).

The "angel of the Lord" mentioned above is actually a pre-incarnate Jesus Christ. Several Biblical commentaries, including Matthew Henry's, Adam Clarke's and others, confirm this fact in their notes on Zechariah 3.

It is clear, in the above confrontation, that the devil was accusing Joshua of various sins in order to disqualify him from serving and rebuilding the temple. Satan fails in his attempt, as God not only forgives Joshua but does so as he offers another prophecy regarding the Messiah (Zechariah 3:3 - 9).

The devil speaks
in the New Testament!

Additional Study Materials
Timeline of the Old Testament
What can the devil DO and NOT DO?
How to tell if someone speaks for God
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The Devil Speaks in the Old Testament