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What Does Satan Look Like?

"You were in Eden, the garden of God; every precious stone was your covering, carnelian, topaz, and jasper, chrysolite, beryl, and onyx, sapphire, carbuncle, and emerald; and wrought in gold were your settings and your engravings. On the day that you were created they were prepared. With an anointed guardian cherub I placed you; you were on the holy mountain of God; in the midst of the stones of fire you walked. You were blameless in your ways from the day you were created, till iniquity was found in you. In the abundance of your trade you were filled with violence, and you sinned; so I cast you as a profane thing from the mountain of God, and the guardian cherub drove you out from the midst of the stones of fire. Your heart was proud because of your beauty; you corrupted your wisdom for the sake of your splendor. I cast you to the ground" (Ezekiel 28:13-17 RSV)

Picture It would be quite natural to assume that a spirit being so grossly evil would also look evil. The popular perceptions of Satan are usually either that of a sinister-looking individual in all-black clothing, or a comic character in a red suit with horns and a pitchfork, but The Bible, as in the above Scriptures, describe Satan with "beauty" and "splendor." Satan appears righteous:

"For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. So it is not strange if his servants also disguise themselves as servants of righteousness." (2 Corinthians 11:13-15 RSV)

There is much written in the Bible about Satan's change of behavior, but nothing about any change in appearance. He is the ultimate evil, and yet he appears attractive and righteous. The references to him as a "snake" or "serpent" refer more to his sneaking, slithering, underhanded personality than his actual visual appearance.

Along with the fact that the rugged and ordinary-looking Jesus Christ (Isaiah 53:2-5, see also What Did Jesus Look Like?) looked almost nothing like the pale "pretty boy" who is so often portrayed in Christian art, one of the most startling questions of recent times involves just who it is that's actually portrayed in those images. What very powerful deceiver, and, as the Bible describes him, impersonator, could have easily influenced all of those various artists, over the many centuries, to depict someone who's consistently the same in un-Christ-like appearance?

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This Week's Bible Quiz

Which of the Ten Commandments (e.g. First, Second, Third etc.) is this? (Exodus 20:1-17 RSV)

1. "I am The Lord your God, Who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. You shall have no other gods before Me."

2. "You shall not take the name of The Lord your God in vain; for The Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes His Name in vain."

3. "Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land which The Lord your God gives you."

4. "You shall not commit adultery."

5. "You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor."

6. "You shall not make for yourself a graven image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; you shall not bow down to them or serve them; for I The Lord your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate Me, but showing steadfast love to thousands of those who love Me and keep My Commandments."

7. "Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor, and do all your work; but the seventh day is a Sabbath to The Lord your God; in it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter, your manservant, or your maidservant, or your cattle, or the sojourner who is within your gates; for in six days The Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day; therefore The Lord blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it."

8. "You shall not kill."

9. "You shall not steal."

10. "You shall not covet your neighbor's house; you shall not covet your neighbor's wife, or his manservant, or his maidservant, or his ox, or his ass, or anything that is your neighbor's."

For the answers to this August 7 2001 quiz, see the Bible Quiz Answers Page

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