Isaiah 14:12—Who is Lucifer in this verse?
Problem: Many commentators consider this passage to be a reference to Satan, because the name “Lucifer” is used. However, in Isaiah 14:4 this entire poetic section stretching from 14:4 through 14:27 is a proverb against the king of Babylon. How can this be a reference to Satan when it is against the king of Babylon?
Solution: This passage is a literal reference to the king of Babylon, but its significance encompasses the ultimate defeat and fall of Satan. There have been many different views as to the identity of this king of Babylon. Some propose that this is a reference to Sennacherib, a fierce enemy of God’s people. Others see the poetic figure of personification in which the kingdom of Babylon as a whole is referred to in personal terms. The Hebrew word translated in the nkjv as “Lucifer” literally means “shining one.” Verse 12 could be translated “How you are fallen from heaven, O shining one, son of the morning.” Because the king of Babylon desired to set himself up as God, his fall would be as from heaven.
The parallels between this passage and such NT passages as Luke 10:18 and Revelation 20:2 indicate that this passage may have a broader application. The prophecy was given for those who lived in Isaiah’s day, and it had immediate significance for them. God was promising them that their enemy, the king of Babylon and the evil empire itself, would ultimately be torn down. Yet, the prophecy may have significance for us as a picture of the ultimate demise of the evil ruler of this world whom God will ultimately destroy (Rev. 20:10).
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This excerpt is from When Critics Ask: A Popular Handbook on Bible Difficulties (Wheaton, Ill.: Victor Books, 1992). © 2014 Norman Geisler and Thomas Howe. All rights reserved. Used by permission. Click here to purchase this book.