For those of you who like statistics,
Satan appears 27 times in nine Old Testament books.
Who is Satan?
The theologian N. T. Wright considers Satan to be both “nonhuman and nondivine”, and according to some Jewish Apocalyptic writers from about 150 years before Jesus’ birth, Satan is portrayed as the controller of evil, while God is in charge of all that is good.
In the Book of Job, Satan is seen as an integral part of the divine justice system.
The Book of Job opens as if in a court of justice, where the trial of the perfect, upright, and God-fearing Job, a man of integrity, takes place.
Essentially, Satan is the adversary at law, Job is in the dock,
and God acting for the defence.
Satan is biased and cynical with regard to Job. Job’s Satan implicates the innocent Job without supplying any incriminating evidence.
He pursues both his perceived right to destroy Job, and to bring about God’s undoing.
By the time of Jesus we see Satan as the arch-deceiver.
In Revelation chapter 12 he is the dragon, the ancient serpent, the devil, and Satan, “who deceives the whole world” (verse. 9).
“The ancient serpent” speaks of the seductive power he has wielded through the whole history of cosmic conflict. A lie to Eve effected humanity’s fall.
Peter started to remonstrate with him.
But, turning and seeing his disciples, he rebuked Peter and said to him, ‘Get behind me, Satan! Because the way you think is not God’s way but man’s.’
A bit strong, if you don’t mind me saying, Jesus! Poor old Peter, he just wanted to say the right thing and show you how loyal he was to you, and you call him Satan!
Satan here, satana in Greek, means “accuser” or “opponent”, which is less “Ancient Serpent”, more “Prosecutor”.
Jesus probably meant no more than that Peter was opposing him in his God-appointed mission of going to the cross. And Jesus’ explanation, that Peter was thinking, not in a Godly way but in a human way. Jesus was not accusing Peter of being evil; Jesus pointed out to Peter that he was speaking as an opponent of God’s plan.
"Get thee behind me, opponent of God’s plan. How ever much you feel that God’s plan is misguided, it is God’s plan; support me", says Jesus, "don’t oppose me".
On Ash Wednesday we’re going to meet Satan again in the Wilderness.
Homework - Who is Satan to you?