Topical Studies

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What the Bible says about Humanity Influenced by prince and power of the air
(From Forerunner Commentary)

Leviticus 16:20-21

A common view of the azazel goat—sometimes translated as "scapegoat"—is that it represents Satan, on whose head the sins of humanity will be placed. However, the source of this interpretation is the apocryphal Book of Enoch.

In the Book of Enoch, “Azazel” is the name of a demon blamed for all the sins of mankind (Enoch 10:8). He is not the chief demon—not actually Satan (Enoch 6:3; 9:7). Azazel is bound and cast into darkness, confined to the desert until the day of judgment:

And again the Lord said to Raphael: 'Bind Azâzêl hand and foot, and cast him into the darkness: and make an opening in the desert, which is in Dûdâêl, and cast him therein. And place upon him rough and jagged rocks, and cover him with darkness, and let him abide there forever, and cover his face that he may not see light. And on the day of the great judgment he shall be cast into the fire. (Enoch 10:4-6)

Bizarrely, all of humanity's sins are ascribed to this demon, not to the chief demon, yet in Leviticus 16, the sins are allegedly placed on Satan's head. If this demon is the fountainhead of mankind's sins, why is Satan held responsible? Even so, this is the clever counterfeit that links the Hebrew word azazel with something evil. Without the Book of Enoch, nothing ties Leviticus 16 to the binding of Satan.

Notice the contrast between what happens to the biblical azazel (“goat of departure” or "complete removal") and what befalls Satan. God's purpose for the azazel goat is to “bear on itself all their iniquities to an uninhabited land.” His purpose for Satan's binding is “so that he should deceive the nations no more till the thousand years were finished.” These purposes are also completely dissimilar.

Satan's binding effectively and thoroughly stops his work as the “prince of the power of the air” (Ephesians 2:2). While the pit facilitates temporary protection from his influence, God will release Satan to deceive again (Revelation 20:7-8). Satan remains unrepentant and continues his evil work. His binding provides a reprieve but no atonement.

In contrast, the live goat acts as a substitutionary sacrifice, and by itself, this nullifies the possibility of it representing either Satan or another demon. The goat's role was to bear iniquities. In the ritual, the sins were those of the children of Israel. Scripture provides multiple witnesses that Jesus Christ bears mankind's sins (Isaiah 53:11-12; I Peter 2:24; Hebrews 9:28) and that God would lay the iniquity of us all on the Messiah (Isaiah 53:6).

Conversely, neither Satan's nor a demon's sins are in view in Leviticus 16. An unblemished animal—symbolizing sinlessness—could in no way represent either of them, and for the same reason, neither qualifies to be a substitutionary sacrifice. In addition, there is no biblical basis for placing humanity's sins on Satan's or a demon's head.

Revelation 20:1-3 makes no mention of atonement, justification, reconciliation, cleansing, propitiation, human sin, or any other theme found in Leviticus 16. Instead, Satan is bound to curtail his influence on the nations, not to satisfy God's justice. Scripture provides no legal foundation for his binding to pay the debt for sin, whether his own or mankind's. The wages of sin is death, and the gift of God is eternal life in Jesus Christ (Romans 6:23), but the confinement of Satan neither pays those wages nor facilitates that gift.

David C. Grabbe
Who Fulfills the Azazel Goat— Satan or Christ? (Part Five)

Proverbs 1:22

These are the first lines of the cry of Wisdom addressing those "in the open squares," "in the chief concourses," and "at the openings of the gates in the city," meaning mankind in general. We can read into her words a touch of incredulity or even of despair, as if she cannot believe how dull and thick-headed people are for failing to grasp that their behavior is frankly stupid, foolish, and self-destructive.

Wisdom calls these people "simple ones," and the Hebrew word, peti, suggests foolishness, naivete, and a lack of sound judgment. As the Dictionary of Biblical Languages with Semantic Domains: Hebrew (Old Testament) explains, this word "pertain[s] to persons that are easily deceived or persuaded, showing lack of wisdom and understanding, yet having some capacity to change this condition." She, then, is speaking to ordinary people—mentally sound individuals—who have allowed themselves to be convinced, contrary to the evidence, that their lifestyles are good and profitable. "Scorners" and "fools," though technically different groups, are included in the whole mass of "simple ones."

Put even more simply, Wisdom is telling these people that they cannot fall back on the claim of ignorance as an excuse because they should know better! If nothing else, they should be able to see that the results of the way they live are harmful, ending in misery and death. On the other hand, God's way of abundant life and blessing is readily available and accessible in His Word, in natural law, and in the lives of those who follow His instruction.

So the obvious question must be, "If the right way to live is so abundantly clear, why do they not change?" Wisdom answers this in the last half of the verse: "For scorners delight in their scorning, and fools hate knowledge." In other words, their foolishness is deliberate; in fact, there is a kind of perverse stubbornness and rebellion in their refusal to change. They enjoy mocking and criticizing God, His ways, and His people, and they utterly despise truth. The apostle Paul summarizes this attitude in Romans 8:7, writing, "Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be."

Solomon, then, is addressing unconverted humanity under the sway of "the prince of the power of the air" (Ephesians 2:2), who has defiled their natures with sin and rebellion and hatred of God. The godly way of living, as revealed in God's Word, is readily available, but the vast majority of mankind rejects it because they have allowed themselves to become convinced that their own way is better—not because the facts are on their side but because they simply do not want to submit.

This is why conversion is a matter of changing the heart, not overcoming ignorance. God must step in personally and by grace soften the heart of stone (Ezekiel 36:26) to accept His way of life.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh

Ephesians 2:1-3

We were always influenced by Satan, the prince of the power of the air. We all walked according to the sinful course of the world. We all fulfilled our lusts. All of us were children of wrath, that is, we were under judgment because of sin. Our nature is corrupt to the core.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Are Humans Good or Evil?


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