Sandy P. asks:
I grew up hearing about demons and Satan seeking to damn my soul. Does the Bible really teach this? I found out that Hell in Greek is Hades and that is the god of another religion. I thought we were not supposed to talk about other gods and besides isn't the God of the Bible stronger than Satan? So why are we afraid of him?
Jews and Christians have a very different understanding of Satan and the demons.
As we have discussed, when Emperor Constantine established the religion of Christianity his bishops wanted to merge all the religions of the empire so everyone would see their beliefs included in the Universal or Catholic Church. The Christian understanding of Satan has its origins in these compromises.
The Zoroastrian concept of two competing deities was incorporated by the bishops. Ahura Mazda, god of light and goodness was added to their dogma of God (which was patterned mainly on Sol Invictus -- whom I discuss in this study learnemunah.com/holidays/christmas3.html) and Angra Mainyu, god of darkness and evil was incorporated into their view of Satan. The Church was careful to say that Satan was not as powerful as God (unlike in Zoroastrianism where the two gods are equal) however he is still depicted as having the power to oppose God and His will and to damn the souls of humanity.
In the Bible, as in Judaism, HaShem is presented as being all powerful. No being can oppose His will. No being can damn the souls of humans, other than themselves (and that is a very difficult thing to do in the ultimate sense). Indeed as Rebbe Nachman of Breslov teaches EVERYTHING comes from God, both the seemingly positive and negative. Everything occurs for our ultimate good and through everything that takes place one who is wise will be drawn towards God, in accordance with her/his free will. The idea of Satan as accepted by the Church misdirects the purpose of our creation by dis-empowering our free will as we see with "Geraldine" in the video below.
The Satan (הַשָּׂטָן) and the demons are servants of God. They are sort of like 'disciplinary sticks' for when people wont listen to wise counsel. For instance, on Rosh Hashanah it is said that God determines the next year for the Jews according to what is best for them. Let's say that HaShem determines I should have $100,000 over the next year and that I should invest half of it in tzedakah (charity). I am greedy however and I decide to keep it all. HaShem might well send a robber to steal $10,000, an illness that costs me $20.000, an unexpected tax liability that costs me $ 20,000 and so on. In the end I have $50,000 and a lot of woes I would not have had if I had obeyed HaShem and given tzedakah. If I am wise I will realize through these experiences why these things happened and I will make teshuvah (i.e. I will repent) and seek His forgiveness. Next year I will be sure to donate from what He blesses me with. Through this unpleasant process I come to understand His Sovereignty a bit better and thereby I draw closer to Him, more fully harmonizing my will with His. Meanwhile someone else will make the charitable donations (Esther 4:14). In the end this unpleasant test was actually a blessing. This is a crude example of course, but this is the basic idea.
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