I first heard the word “lucifer” when I was a small child. My grandfather was warning me about the dangers of those long wooden matches tipped with antimony sulfide and potassium chlorate. He called them “lucifers.” Needless to say, at that time I had no idea that “lucifer” was a word of Latin derivation meaning “light-bearer.”
In my early teens, when I began reading the Bible with some degree of seriousness, I learned that “Lucifer,” capitalized this time, referred to something—or someone—far more sinister than a matchstick. I read his name in Isaiah 14:12–15:
How you have fallen from heaven,
O Lucifer, son of the dawn!
You have been cast down to the earth,
you who once laid low the nations!
You said in your heart,
“I will ascend to heaven;
I will raise my throne above the stars of God;
I will sit enthroned on the mount of assembly,
on the utmost heights of the sacred mountain.
I will ascend above the tops of the clouds;
I will make myself like the Most High.”
But you are brought down to Sheol,
to the depths of the pit.1