Friday, July 9, 2010

Angels & Demons 15: If He Is NOT Satan, Who Is Lucifer?

Presidents Barack Obama and Bill Clinton (and former-First-Lady-now-Secretary-of-State Hillary Clinton) are fans of Saul Alinsky, the author of the book Rules for Radicals. The book—which is also recommended by the NEA (National Association of Educators) contains a quote about Lucifer: "Lest we forget at least an over-the-shoulder acknowledgment to the very first radical: from all our legends, mythology, and history (and who is to know where mythology leaves off and history begins -- or which is which), the first radical known to man who rebelled against the establishment and did it so effectively that he at least won his own kingdom -- Lucifer."

Who is this Lucifer whom Alinsky acknowledges as the first radical, the first rebel against the establishment? Surely, Alinsky—in citing “legends, mythology, and history”—was intending to refer to Satan, thinking that Satan/Lucifer was a Fallen Angel who rebelled against the establishment imposed by God. This view of Lucifer is based on an interpretation of Isaiah 14:12-15 (KJV):

“How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! [how] art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations! For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High. Yet thou shalt be brought down to hell, to the sides of the pit.”

Granted, if we begin reading in the middle of this chapter, at verse 12, Lucifer can appear to be a powerful angel who has fallen because of his attempt to rebel against “the Most High.” That is, until we reach verse 16, where it is clear that Lucifer is a man: “They that see thee shall narrowly look upon thee, [and] consider thee, [saying, Is] this the MAN that made the earth to tremble, that did shake kingdoms?” Verses 18-20, furthermore, point out that Lucifer is a “king”: “All the kings of the nations, [even] all of them, lie in glory, every one in his own house. But thou art cast out of thy grave like an abominable branch, [and as] the raiment of those that are slain, thrust through with a sword, that go down to the stones of the pit; as a carcase trodden under feet. Thou shalt not be joined with them in burial, because thou hast destroyed thy land, [and] slain thy people.” We confirm this identification of Lucifer as the “king of Babylon” in the 4th verse of chapter 14: “That thou shalt take up this proverb against the king of Babylon.” What follows, including the Lucifer passage in the middle of this chapter, is all a proverb denouncing the king of Babylon. Nowhere else in the entire Bible do we find an account of Satan being “buried”; yet we find burial concerns for Lucifer throughout verses 18-20, and in the verse immediately preceding verse 12’s Lucifer reference, Isaiah states concerning Lucifer: “Thy pomp is brought down to the grave, [and] the noise of thy viols: the worm is spread under thee, and the worms cover thee.”

Politicians, especially those as powerful as the Clintons and Obamas, should be very hesitant to endorse Alinsky as he acknowledges Lucifer. This is true not because Lucifer is a “fallen angel” (he is NOT), but because Lucifer was a deluded “POLITICAL ENTITY!” As the king of Babylon, Lucifer relished his power. Lucifer, the king of Babylon, as a powerful king “oppressed” the people of Israel, God’s people (14:1-6). He did not hesitate to “persecute” (verse 6) the religious followers of the God of Abraham. Perhaps, in his freely oppressing God’s people, he thought he was, thus, equal to the Most High (verse 14). Isaiah 14 is a condemnation of a political entity who thought he was so important that he could oppress and persecute followers of the Most High God.

Only two passages in the New Testament allude to the Lucifer passage in Isaiah:

Matthew 11:23 quotes Jesus: “And you Capernaum, were you not exalted to heaven? Brought down to Hades you will be.” Jesus explains (in 11:20-25) that Chorazin, Bethsaida, and Capernaum were cities (political entities) that did not repent from their conceited rejection of Jesus, and that other political entities such as Tyre and Sidon and Sodom would receive more grace on the day of judgment than they.

Luke 10:8-15 reports the same account, but in a somewhat more abbreviated form: “Capernaum, will you be lifted up to heaven? No, you will sink to Hades.” Here, Jesus suggests that these towns would be treated less leniently than Sodom, Tyre, and Sidon, but not just because of their treatment of him. It will be so because of their treatment of his followers.

Notice that neither of these passages make any reference to Satan. Clearly, they understand the Isaiah passage to represent a condemnation of HUMAN political entities—those who mistreat the followers of the Most High God. The Lucifer of the Bible is not a fallen angel. Although there are some indications that Isaiah may have drawn upon some Babylonian mythology in his condemnation of the king of Babylon, he is not introducing a Fallen Angel Story. If any conclusions may be drawn from the Lucifer passage in Isaiah 14, it is that political entities who exercise power over God’s people should be extremely careful not to mistreat God’s followers.

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