сряда, 2 април 2014 г.

Satan

In Christianity, a FALLEN ANGEL who is the PRINCE and embodiment of all evil, and who is committed to tempting humanity into sin and thus condemning them into everlasting hell. Satan means “adversary,” “opponent,” or “obstacle” in Hebrew. Originally, among the Hebrews, Satan was not so thoroughly evil. He was not even any one angel in par- ticular. Rather, the term satan, with a lowercase “s,” was a common noun applied to an obstacle or adver- sary. The Israelites, who were engaged in constant struggles, demonized their enemies in the forms of monstrous beasts. But as time went on the term satan became applied to enemies, with an increasingly malevolent tint. Storytellers as early as the sixth century B . C . E . used a supernatural character called a satan, by which they meant any of God’s angels—the BENE HA - ELOHIM (“ SONS OF GOD ”)—whom God dispatched to block or obstruct human activity. Sometimes the blocking was a good idea, if the human characters were following a sinful path. In the Bible, the term satan appears for the first time in Numbers 22:23–35. God sends an ANGEL OF THE LORD to act as a satan to block the journey of BALAAM , who has displeased God. When Balaam’s ass sees the satan standing in the road, she balks, causing Balaam to strike her three times. The angel of the Lord reveals himself, and Balaam promises to do what God tells him through his emissary, the satan. In the book of Job a character named Satan, who seems to have the job of roaming the earth and keeping an eye on humans, torments JOB to test his faith. This Satan is described as one of God’s loyal servants. At about this same time in history—about 550 B . C . E .—the term satan described internal strife among the Israelites. In 1 Chronicles 21, a satan convinces King David to number his people against the wishes of God, causing God to send a destroying angel to kill 70,000 Israelites by means of the plague (despite the fact that David repents).ZECHARIAH uses satan to describe internal conflicts among the Jews. He also shows Satan as being hostile in his opposition to Joshua (Zechariah 3:1–2). Radical dissenters among the Israelites began to use satan more and more to characterize their own Jewish opponents, whom they viewed as obstacles to their objectives. They also used other terms including the names of wicked angels. All of these became associated with evil enemies: Satan, Beelzebub, Semyaza, Mas- tema, Azazel, and Belial. The name Satan was applied more than any other. Stories about angels who sinned and fell from heaven were applied to Jewish oppo- nents. Satan as a figure became increasingly prominent as a personality, one of evil. Satan became identified with the FALLEN ANGELS called WATCHERS who cohabited with women and thus were cast into a pit of darkness. The leaders of the Watchers are Semyaza and Azazel. The Enochian writ- ings tell of God sending the four archangels Raphael, Gabriel, Uriel and Michael to slay the giant offspring of the Watchers (the NEPHILIM ) and attack the Watchers themselves. Raphael binds Azazel and casts him into a pit. The book of JUBILEES says that one-tenth of the Watchers were spared by God so that they might be subject before Satan, their leader, on earth. (Jubilees also castigates Jews who do not keep themselves sepa- rate from Gentiles; the conflicts that arose were attrib- uted to Satan, Belial, or Mastema, all of whom represented the enemy within.) The story of the Watchers underwent many trans- formations and was influential among the Christians. The casting out of sinful angels, who became the demons of hell under a prince of evil, formed a crucial part of Christian theology. Satan became identified with Lucifer primarily from a passage in Isaiah 14:12–15: “How you have fallen from heaven, bright morning star.” “Bright morning star,” or more literally “bright son of the morning,” was translated into Latin as Lucifer. Christian thought also was influenced by the Essenes, a Jewish sect that coexisted briefly with Chris- tianity. The Essenes saw themselves as “sons of light” who battled the “sons of darkness.” Both forces were ruled by princes. However the Essenes did not person- ify these princes, but instead they saw them as univer- sal principles. The writers of the Gospels portrayed Satan as hav- ing been cast out of heaven for sin (in Luke 10:18 he falls like lightning), a being of evil who opposes God and Jesus. Jews who did not follow Jesus were cast in the role of agents of Satan (later, any gentiles who opposed Christians fell into the same camp). Jesus was cast as the focal point in the war between God’s forces of Good and Satan’s forces of Evil. His resurrection is a victory over Satan; thus those who follow Christ can- not lose in the great cosmic battle for souls. Throughout the New Testament, the name of Satan is associated only with evil. He is called: “accuser of the brethren” in Revelation 12:10; “adversary” in 1 Peter 5:8; “Beelzebub” in Matthew 12:24; “the Devil” in Matthew 4:1; “the enemy” in Matthew 13:39; “the evil one” in 1 John 5:19; “the father of lies and a mur- derer” in John 8:44; “the god of this age” (i.e., of false cults) in 2 Corinthians 4:4; “a roaring lion” (in terms of destructiveness) in 1 Peter 5:8–9; a “tempter” in Matthew 4:3; and a “serpent” in Revelation 12:9. Among his evil acts described in the New Testament are: tempting believers into sin (Ephesians 2:1–3; 1 Thessalonians 3:5); tempting believers to lie (Acts 5:3); tempting believers to commit sexually immoral acts (1 Corinthians 7:5); accusing and slandering believers (Revelation 12:10); hindering the work of believers in any way possible (1 Thessalonians 2:18);waging war against believers (Ephesians 6:11–12); inciting persecutions against believers (Revelation 2:10); opposing Christians with the ferociousness of a hungry lion (1 Peter 5:8); and fostering spiritual pride (1 Timothy 3:6). The role of Satan as the agent of evil became magni- fied over time. By the Middle Ages, Satan, as the devil, was believed in as a real, potent being who possessed terrible supernatural powers and was intent upon destroying man by undermining his morals. In this pursuit he was aided by his army of evil demons. Satan’s machinations were a driving force behind the Inquisition, which persecuted any enemy of the Chris- tian church—moral, political, ethnic, social, or reli- gious—as being one of Satan’s disciples. Modern views of Satan vary. Fundamentalists view him as a real being of pure evil, whose trickster tactics will trip up the unwary. His avowed purpose is to thwart the plan of God by any means possible. He fos- ters false prophets, teachers, Christs, and apostles. Others believe in Satan more in terms of the Essenes’ idea of a cosmic principle, the shadow aspect of light. According to the Catholic Church, the devil’s objective is to ruin the church. He is given special powers by God to try people, in order that they may have an opportunity to be cleansed. By keeping the Ten Commandments and steering clean of all sin, one stays out of the devil’s reach. God also permits evil spirits to possess people who have sinned.

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