Ask Ivor

Marco asks:

"What's the deal with Lucifer? Is he cool, or not cool?"

Funny thing about Lucifer. Originally lucifer simply meant "morning star," as in Isaiah 14:12: "How you have fallen from heaven, O morning star [lucifer], son of the dawn! You have been cast down to the earth, you who once laid low the nations!" The passage refers (metaphorically) to the king of Babylon.

Centuries later, the idea arose (under Persian influence) that Satan was a fallen angel, and the Isaiah passage and another in Ezekiel (28:12-17), referring to the king of Tyre, were interpreted as actually being references to Satan, and thus "Lucifer" became another name for him.

John Milton, in the 17th century, greatly popularized this fallen-angel motif in his epic poem, Paradise Lost: "Satan... great in power, in favor, and preeminence, yet fraught with envy against the Son of God.... Him the almighty Power hurled headlong flaming from the ethereal sky with hideous ruin and combustion down to bottomless perdition, there to dwell in adamantine chains and penal fire."

It is Milton's Satan who first uttered that famous slogan later adopted by the Hell's Angels motorcycle club: "Better to reign in Hell than serve in Heaven!" One can't help admiring the underdog, the proud rebel, especially when he's so poetic and dramatic: "Into what pit thou seest from what height fallen, so much the stronger proved He [God] with his thunder, and till then who knew the force of those dire arms? Yet not for those, nor what the potent victor in his rage can else inflict, do I repent or change!"

It's like Jack Nicholson's portrayal of The Joker: he's an evil, vicious villain, but when he stands there in the street, exuberant and unafraid, as the somber Batman in his huge armored Batplane comes roaring down out of the sky, spewing bullets, and The Joker pulls a skinny pistol out of his pants and, against all odds, faces down the mighty avenger above, you can't help but cheer him on....

Of course, that's all just fantasy. In the real world, Satan is "a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him.... He is a liar and the father of lies" (Jn 8:44); "Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour" (1Pe 5:8). Anyone thinking Lucifer is cool is in for a rude awakening, sooner or later. It may be fun for awhile, but eventually you'll pay. Just like with a credit card, but even worse.