1Chronicles

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The first mention of Satan by name in the Bible occurs in 1 Chronicles 21:1:

"And Satan stood up against Israel, and provoked David to number Israel.

I hear often about Satan tempting people. One lesser light says when Christians sin, they are specifically being tempted by Satan to sin against God. This makes no sense to me. If Satan is an angel, and if angels are limited in their locality (i.e., they are not omnipresent), then how can Satan tempt all living Christians around the world at the same time?

Here's how:

There are millions of people all over the world today who are succumbing to Demon Rum. That does not mean I'm talking about a literal demon, or one who is omnipresent, but it is a figure of speech representing alcoholism. In the same way, Satan is the personification of temptation. And when "he" is vanquished someday, subjects in the Kingdom of God will never again stray into sin.

Yes, there is no actual person or angel named Satan. When Peter rebuked Jesus for saying openly that he must be crucified and rise the third day, Jesus said to Peter, "Get thee behind me, Satan: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but the things that be of men." Does that mean Jesus thought Peter was Satan or that Peter was possessed by Satan? No, it means Peter was tempting Jesus to take the easy path, and go along to get along, and Jesus recognized that as Satanic. But the idea that Satan is a sort of mini-God with almost the same power, competing with God to flip souls to the white side or the black side like some giant game of Othello is a corruption of Christianity.

When Christ explains the Parable of the Weeds (Matthew 13:24-30), he says that the one who sows the weeds ("the people of the evil one") is the devil. Christ identifies of the other elements in the story as persons, so why would this one identification of the devil, the evil one, be different?

Parables were wonderful ways to teach a religious truth, but they are very poor sources of information if they are taken literally. Some atheists like to play "Gotcha" with the parable of the mustard seed, where Jesus said, "when it is sown in the earth, is less than all the seeds that be in the earth, but when it is sown, it groweth up, and becometh greater than all herbs and becometh a tree". They focus on that because the mustard seed is not really the smallest seed, and it does not really become a tree. Jesus was teaching about how his Church would have very inauspicious beginnings, but would someday fill the whole world. But Christians do that too when they try to derive information about conditions in the afterlife from the parable of Lazarus and the Rich Man. Jesus wasn't teaching anything about hell, he was teaching about the need to repent before one's life is over and it's too late.

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