Why is there basically no mention of the Devil in the Old Testament?

That is an excellent question, and we do our best to answer it in our book, Don’t Blame God: A Biblical Answer to the Problem of Evil, Sin, and Suffering.

 

The handful of references to Satan in the Old Testament (see Gen. 3:1, Job 1:6-13; 2:1-7; Isa. 14:12-20, and Ezek. 28:1-19) did not fully reveal the being who Jesus revealed in the New Testament. Looking back in light of the New Testament, we understand these verses as referring to him, but they were sufficiently cryptic so as to conceal much information about him. They recognized the existence of a spirit realm, and good and evil spirits, but had no idea of the two spiritual kingdoms at war with one another.

The basic reason why God did not reveal the Devil to people in Old Testament times is that they were unprepared to deal with such a powerful spiritual being. They were not spiritually equipped to combat an invisible enemy with incredible supernatural ability who was committed to their destruction. Given that the vast majority of them had no spiritual weapons, the loving thing for God to do was to hide the Devil’s existence from them. To His credit, through the Old Testament God just “took the rap,” as it were, for evil by saying that if His people obeyed, He would bless them, and if they did not obey, He would afflict them. The latter is language that is explained in our book, Don’t Blame God! It is absolutely critical that Christians understand the Old Testament in light of the New Testament. God is love, and He will not do harm to His people.

Prior to the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2:1and following), only a few select people had the gift of holy spirit. One of the purposes of Jesus’ coming was to destroy the Devil’s work (1 John 3:8). On the Day of Pentecost Jesus poured out the gift of holy spirit, which inherently gives us spiritual power (Luke 10:19; John 7:39; Acts 1:8; etc.). Unlike the Old Testament, God has now revealed that “our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” (Eph. 6:12). And further, unlike the Old Testament believers, we now have both spiritual power and authority to stand against the schemes of the Devil (Eph. 6:10 and 11).

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9 comments

  1. Of course, this is the loving thing for any parent to do: hide the existence of child molesters from your children, who are ill-equipped to handle scary knowledge, and, if they should be abducted, raped or killed while off on their way to school, take the blame upon yourself. Makes perfect sense.

    1. When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.

  2. WHY ARE THE ——-LAWS——–OF GOD NOT PUBLISHED???

    1. I am not sure what you mean by your question.

  3. Why do you believe God created Satan a murderer. If freewill truly exists for angels and mankind, which we believe does, then becoming a murderer was a choice Satan made.

  4. I enjoyed this article. It is written in a simple, easy to grasp, way. It is clear that God reveals Himself (as well as other things) progressively in Scripture. Progressive revelation. We do it all the time when we meet other people. We start with our name, then we reveal more and more about ourselves over time.

    Thank you

    1. Excellent analogy.

  5. This muddies the waters even more on the story of Job now doesn’t it. Who was the devil that god made this deal with in the Old Testament anyway? This has always been one of my favorite discussions.

    1. @geno you have to recall that job never thought of the devil when the things happened. He thought it was the lord’s will

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