|The Biblical Examiner
An Examination of Biblical Precepts Involved in Issues at Hand
1) Satan - Exalter
2) Satan - Part II
3) The Gold Standard
|Satan, Part I|
This is a passage that is commonly assumed to record the fall of Satan under the name of Lucifer. This unwarranted assumption has led to some very fatal implications and false doctrine in our day. Let us present some conclusions with the assumption that the reader has read the documentation at the end of this essay. Then we will examine some implications.
Although the Lord does not specify a name here for the king of Babylon, the context would suggest Belshazzar, vs. 21, 22. Isaiah describes God's casting down of the proud spirit of Babylon, typified in the person of this king. This description is almost identical to the description of the anti-Christian spirit in 2 Thessalonians 2:4 and Revelation 17:4, 5.
This working of this rebellious spirit of sinful man is recorded in the Book of Daniel.
1. Nebuchadnezzar, as king of Babylon, worked at weakening the kingdoms of the earth and subduing them to his kingdom, 1:2; 2:37; 3:22. 2. He knew there was a God in heaven and that this God exalted whosoever He would, 2:28; 4:3. 3. Even though he knew this, he still demanded that all the earth worship as he dictated. This demand substituted himself as God the Creator, because only God the Creator has the right to tell His creation how to worship under the threat of death, 3:5, 6. 4. Even though he knew that he was no more than a man, his pride still exalted him to the heights of the heavens, 4:30. 5. The God of heaven, whom he attempted to replace, immediately brought him down, 4:33. 6. Though this spirit was evident in Nebuchadnezzar, apparently he died with a fear of the Lord. However, his grandson never realized this fear.
Belshazzar knew all of these things, yet he refused to glorify God as his grandfather did. Rather, he believed the lie of Satan, and saw himself as god, drinking from the vessels of the Lord God, Daniel 6:23.
Nimrod, the first king of Babel also would have known about God. The Ark was obvious, Shem and Noah would have both still been alive. Thus, from the time of Nimrod, the Babylonian empire represents this type of arrogant, proud, oppressive, ambitious, aspiring, tyrannical and self-idolizing power, personified in the king of Isaiah 14.
Thus, Babylon is a type of the spirit that stands against God's plan of salvation on this earth. (Salvation being identified as the complete restoration of what Adam lost in the fall.) Babylon represents man's attempt to deify himself and obtain the dominion over creation which Adam lost, APART FROM THE WORK OF CHRIST. It is little more than the pursuit of the original offer made to Eve, ye shall be as gods, referred to by Paul in Romans 1:21, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God. (Cf. 1 Corinthians 10:31) This desire is personified in Statism and the spirit of Babylon.
Since the fall, sinful nature has pursued the desire to be as god in varying degrees. It is only the restoring grace and the Spirit of God that controls this desire. Thus, the Babylonian system would be any collective system operating independent of God's law. This spirit believes that man can be his own god, able to establish his own law for his own good and glory.
The same holds true for the king of Tyre, Ezekiel 28:12-19. According to Matthew Henry, if there is anything mystical about him, it refers to the fall of Adam.
Now, from what we are told about Satan by the Spirit of God, when Satan is identified as Lucifer, there are some anti-Biblical implications.
So where does the current theology originate which identifies these passages as referring to Satan? We find this assumption in C.I. Scofield's notes, pg. 726, where he says Lucifer can be none other than Satan, and pg. 871, where he says Satan is being addressed through the king of Tyre. Though not new or unique with him, undoubtedly he is the one who has made this the accepted theology of our day. We will mention two points which he presents, then pursue some implications.
First, according to CIS, Satan "is the real, though unseen, ruler of the successive world-powers." The word of God clearly tells us that the Lord alone is the power behind the rulers of this world, Daniel 4:3, 17, 25, 32, 34; 5:21. This is obvious throughout Scripture (cf. Psalms 103:19; Isaiah 44-66; Jeremiah 27:5; Romans 13, etc.).
The prophets made it clear that Assyria and Babylon (and later Rome) believed they were doing their own will, when in actuality they were no more than the armies of God accomplishing His will alone (cf. Isaiah 13; Jeremiah 51:21).
The Lord, who alone has all power, Matthew 28:18, is the One who gave the power to the beast in Revelation 13:7, that the beast might fulfill His plan and purpose. The ten kings which gave their power to the beast, did so at God's instruction, Revelation 17:17.
The Spirit of God identifies the evil one as: the Devil, Satan and Beelzebub the chief (or prince-meaning, a ruler, commander, chief, leader) of the devils, Luke 11:15. Though Satan is identified as the prince of the power of the air, Ephesians 2:2, Christ is identified as the prince of the kings of the earth, Revelation 1:5 (which destroys any theory that Satan is the power behind the kings of the earth). Nave's lists many more names and references for Satan, but does not include, Lucifer, nor the king of Tyre.
Does Satan have the power to raise up and put down kings and rulers? He is the promoter of the lie which causes men to think that they can be as gods, able to take dominion over creation apart from glorifying God as God, John 8:44. But he is not the power behind the throne.
We do learn from Job (chs. 1, 2) that he does have supernatural power which, at times, the Lord allows him to use to manipulate the natural elements, or to cause ill health to men.
Second, according to CIS, "This passage marks the beginning of sin in the universe."
This statement is contrary to the word of God in 1 John 3:4-8. Baptist minister and theologian, A.H. Strong (1836-1921), gives an interesting treatment of the time and cause of the fall of Satan.
(b) They had a probation. This we infer from 1 Tim. 5:21-"the elect angels"; cf.1 Pet.1:1.2- "elect.... unto obedience." If certain angels, like certain men, are "elect.... unto obedience," it would seem to follow that there was a period of probation, during which their obedience or disobedience determined their future destiny; see Ellicott on 1 Tim.5:21. Mason, Faith of the Gospel, 106-108-"Gen.3:14-'Because thou hast done this, cursed art thou'- in the sentence on the serpent, seems to imply that Satan's day of grace was ended when he seduced man. Thenceforth he was driven to live on dust, to triumph only in sin, to pick up a living out of man, to possess man's body or soul, to tempt from the good." (SYSTEMATIC THEOLOGY, THREE VOLUMES IN ONE. The Griffith & Rowland Press. Published, 1912. Pg. 450.)
Satan sinned from the beginning, evidently identified as this seduction of Eve. This is all we are told of his beginning, and anything else is speculation. We do know that he was present in the Garden with his offer, and will continue to be an adversary to the kingdom of God until the end. We do know that he was cursed for offering to Eve the temptation that they could be as gods, able to act independently of the word of the Creator. We do know that in his rebellion against his Creator he drew other angels with him, Revelation 12:9. (The context of Revelation 12:10 apparently sets the time of the casting out of Satan as the ascension of the Saviour. Luke 10:18 would confirm this time-table.) And we do know that his fall involved pride, 1 Timothy 3:7.
Charles Hodges, says that "Their (the fallen angels) original condition was holy. When they fell or what was the nature of their sin is not revealed." SYSTEMATIC THEOLOGY, vol. I, pg. 643.
So why do false teachings, such as we are dealing with here, become so wide spread? According to Deuteronomy 13:1-5, one of the purposes of God in allowing false prophets to arise among His people is to purify His Church, to separate those who believe and follow the command-word of God regardless of the tradition of the elders and from all other influences.
When we attribute these two passages to a description of Satan, we wrongly ascribe to him the power to promote, lift up whom he will and put down whom he will. This is Satanism in itself. Obviously, as this idea has gained prominence in Christian theology, occultism has risen, as well as an increased unbiblical fear of Satan among Christians. This militates against the Biblical faith which must place the Lord over all, with Satan subdued under God and His people's feet, Ephesians 1 and 2. Job shows us that no matter how unwilling Satan may be, he is no more than a servant of the Lord.
Satan made the offer to man in the Garden that he could be as god and that it was not necessary to glorify God as God in order to subdue all of creation. Since then, sinful man has sought to fulfill this dream. It is God alone who allows wicked men to pursue their desire. God made this truth clear to the king of Babylon in the Book of Daniel. Peter made this clear concerning the killing of Christ, Acts 4:28. All power and authority is the Lord's alone, therefore all things move according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will, Ephesians 1:11. Satan cannot overthrow this counsel, because the Lord alone is Sovereign.
It strikes us as strange that those who give mystical meanings to passages like these in Isaiah and Ezekiel when they are obviously literal, take passages which should be mystical and make them literal. The result is a reduction of Christianity to little more than mysticism, as Christians surrender everything to the antiChrist crowd except the 'spiritual.' The world has conquered Christianity.
We must avoid the temptation to read more into the word of God than what is given. There is a curse placed on anyone who adds to or detracts from this Word. Much has been added to this passage. Are we living in the promised curse?
|Satan, Part II|
Although the doctrine of Satan is nowhere systematically developed in Scripture, God does give us enough scattered and incidental references for us to trace and identify his workings.
The Bible writers were primarily interested in the doctrine of God, therefore, they only mentioned the "powers of darkness" as needed to developed this doctrine. We will look at a few of the high points here, however, a complete and lengthy documentation of this study is available upon request.
Satan's empire had a beginning and will have a definite and permanent end. He is God's great enemy in the cosmic sphere, but he is also God's creation, existing only by Divine will, with his activity strictly limited by his Creator. Though he has supernatural power, he is not divine, and can only influence the created order within whatever limits are established for him by his Creator. Job 38 (as does other passages such as Nahum 1:3, 4), clearly tells us that the Lord of heaven and earth, not Satan, controls all of 'nature.' Satan has no more chance at thwarting God's plan and purpose than do men. Satan awaits his doom.
Satan's basic power lies in his supernatural ability to deceive mankind into thinking they can be as god; that they can be their own god, make their own laws and control their own life for his benefit. This would include 'goodness' apart from God's law. If the Deceiver can persuade men to disobey the instructions of the law of God, even for a good cause, he has permission from the deceived person and the Lord to work in their lives. He is even now working in the children of disobedience, Ephesians 2:2. Without the person following the tempter's offer, he must obtain special permission from the Lord to work (cf. Job).
The current chaos which we see in the areas of justice, economics, politics, education, church, family, as well as every sphere of life, is a direct result of man (the state) thinking that he has the power to act as god in that area, establishing his own law.
The only deliverance from this supernatural Deceiver is the supernatural Truth. The God-Man led in this victory as He stood against every temptation of the Devil to compromise the truth of God's revealed law for His own benefit. Hebrews 2:14, 15, tells us that the victory of Christ over death and the grave destroyed the power of the devil, (fear, 2 Timothy 1:7). 1 John 3:8, tells us that God's manifestation, death and victory over death, in the Person of the Son, destroyed the work of the devil. This victory is now available to mankind by the grace of God through faith. The work of Christ has already destroyed the power of Satan.
In the NT, we see him as a tool of God for chastising the child of God, 1 Corinthians 5:5; 1 Timothy 1:20. A.H. Strong says this,
A survey of the Scripture testimony with regard to the employments of evil spirits leads to the following general conclusions: First,-the power of evil spirits over man is not independent of the human will. This power cannot be exercised without at least the original consent of the human will and may be resisted and shaken off through prayer and faith in God. (Pgs. 457, 8.)
Satan uses his power of deception to retain his hold.
Notice Colossians 1:13 states, Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son: (follow the context). The overwhelming evidence in both OT and NT is that Satan's major power is the power of deception which first made itself known in the Garden. (There are major differences between the OT and NT workings of Satan which we will not develop. See ISBE, 1915 edition.)
Thus, Satan, as are all wicked spirits and persons of all ages, is seen as an instrument in God's hands to be turned whichever way He pleases as servants of His divine justice. The tempter, in God's divine providence, only serves to accomplish His will.
The context of Revelation 12 says that when the deceiver saw he was cast out of heaven and that his time was short, his warfare became more intense against the representatives of Christ. We are involved in Satan's intense war against the King. The major weapon of the Adversary is his ability to deceive. Therefore, our victory lies in the proper use of the supernatural truth to avoid deception, Hebrews 4:12.
Christians are warned of his devices and told to resist the Devil. They are not to resist in their own strength, but in the strength of the Lord. They are to be armed with the whole armor of God and must take the entire law-word of God and apply it in every area. In this way, the power of the evil one is broken.
Many things have been attributed to evil spirits, such as natural calamities, storms, pestilences, and a host of phenomena. Even more lamentable is the fact that, "they have been regarded as entering into covenant with men." Through these covenants, sinful men believe they can gain power over the many things that evil spirits are believed to control. (Note Deuteronomy 8:17, 18. It is the Lord that gives even the proud the power to get wealth.)
Strong points out that,
Luther saw Satan nearer to man than his coat, or his shirt, or even his skin. In all misfortune he saw the devil's work. Was there a conflagration in the town? By looking closely you might see a demon blowing upon the flame. Pestilence and storm he attributed to Satan. All this was a relic of the medieval exaggerations of Satan's power. It was then supposed that men might make covenants with the evil one, in which supernatural power was purchased at the price of final perdition.
Let's not forget, Luther came out of an extremely superstitious church, the Church of Rome. It was difficult to lay aside everything.
(Hodges says that it is no more possible to detect and trace the workings of evil spirits than it is possible to trace the workings of good spirits. Both can only act as directed by the hand of the Lord, and nothing should be attributed to them that can be otherwise accounted for.
The difference between believing whatever is possible, and believing only what is certain is important. Luther was inclined to refer all evil to the spirits of darkness.)
Strong goes on to say out that scripture furnishes no warrant for such representations.
There seems to have been permitted a special activity of Satan in temptation and possession during our Savior's ministry, in order that Christ's power might be demonstrated. By His death Jesus brought "to naught him that had the power of death, that is, the devil" (Heb.2:14).. (Col. 2:15). 1 Jo. 3:8.. Evil spirits now exist and act only upon sufferance.. William Ashmore: "Is Satan omnipresent? No, but he is very spry. Is he bound? Yes. but with a rather loose rope." (Pg. 459.)
On the other hand, according to Hodges, Calvin referred nothing to their agency that could not be proved to be actually their work.
We are tempted to say, "It doesn't really matter which view we hold," but, look at the implications of the two views. Luther's view lays the blame for sin outside of the individual. This is the logical conclusion of the belief that Satan has the power to exalt men, or to force them to act. "Satan made me do it," is a well-worn and unbiblical excuse for sin. The implications of this thinking are all around us today. "It is my parent's fault, etc." Strong points out that this leads to the belief that supernatural power can be gained by making covenants with the Devil. There is no Scriptural warrant for such an assumption.
Calvin's gives us the Biblical view which we must agree with, because of our Lord's words in Matthew 15:19 (cf. Mk 7). He told His disciples that evil proceeds from an evil heart, not from the Evil One. Evil is a result of the sin of thinking in the heart that we can be as god and substitute man's law for God's. Outward sin is when this man-established law is acted on. This lays the blame for sin on the sinner, who MUST bring his sinful heart under the control of the word of God, 2 Corinthians 10:5. (Cf. 1 Jn. 3:4.)
What we believe is important, right down to the most minute detail. Every thought, idea and belief has implications, therefore, every thought, idea, and belief must be brought into the obedience of Christ. We must know and apply God's word, the truth, if we expect to be free from the power of the wicked one, John 8:32.
Satan's power includes the power to imitate God, introduce mists and darkness and to obscure the light. Thus, he not only is the master deceiver, but he hides the truth. "Paul declares generally that unbelievers are blinded by God, though he had previously described it as the doing of Satan. It is evident, therefore, that Satan is under the power of God, and is so ruled by his authority that he must yield obedience to it." Though Satan is totally opposed to the will of God and is in rebellion against God, he is "bound and fettered" by God, and can only do what God permits or commands. (Calvin's Institutes, Vol. I, pg. 153.)
The Spirit of God is the only one who can break through this darkness and command the light of the gospel to shine, 1 Corinthians 4:1-6.
An important point that Calvin makes is the reason we are told many things about this enemy of God. These statements are not given to cause alarm among the children of God, but they are a call to arm ourselves with all that is provided by the work of Christ. It is a call to depend on the Lord in faithful obedience to the truth, "attempting nothing without trusting in him, since it is his alone to supply counsel, and strength, and courage, and arms." (Ibid, pg. 150)
Now, for some conclusions.
The Devil has deceived us into giving him far too much credit, power and authority in this world; even the power to raise up and cast down kings and kingdoms. According to Paul's instruction to Timothy, this deception is what allows him to act at his will with those who are deceived, 2 Timothy 2:26.
Satan's power is supernatural, but it is rooted in deception. Men are said to be led captive by him, but this is because they have believed his lies and have become the children of disobedience. The obvious conclusion is that the application of the revealed law-word of God breaks his hold to work in the lives of individuals, or in society. His authority and power to work lies in deceiving nations, churches and individuals that they can be as gods, not needing the law of God for their existence, Obadiah 1:3; 1 John 3. This is called self-deception, Hosea 13:9; James 1:22.
Granted, he is a fallen, supernatural creature, but his offer to Eve was the prospect of being as god. Note that he did not even hint to Eve that he would make her as a god if she would follow him, or that he, the serpent, was a god. He deceived her into believing that she and her husband could now become as god. His offer insinuated that they had been created with the ability to act as their own god, able to determine good from evil without the aid of the word of Jehovah God. He hinted that the Creator in His jealousy was depriving them of this ability which He had created in them. He thus seduced her from allegiance to God, deprived God of His due honour and set in motion his attempt to subvert God's kingdom and plan on this earth. He stirred up hatred toward God with "God has deprived you of what you were really meant to be, as a god." This now inborn idea has permeated every area, as it had found fertile soil in the hearts of fallen man.
We have found this concept prevalent among many professed Christians. They believe that now that they are 'saved,' they have the God-given ability to determine right from wrong without having to read, study and be taught the law-word of God.
This original offer has been the basis for sin for all the children of Adam. The desire for man to be his own god and lawmaker needs no further help. The idea that Satan is the power behind the world- powers is totally contrary to Scriptures. The supposition that sinful men can "make covenants with the evil one, in which supernatural power [is] purchased at the price of final perdition," is stretched beyond Scriptural boundaries. The Scriptural limits of any agreement between the individual and Satan, is an agreement with the deceiver that the person can indeed be as god. This agreement would then give Satan permission to work supernaturally in their lives.
His basic power lies in his ability to deceive man into thinking that he can establish his own rules for life. His power over kings and kingdoms lies in his ability to deceive men into thinking they can take dominion over all creation and rule without God. Man's problem is his inherited sinful nature which demands that he believe this lie which is passed down from their father, Adam.
God, according to His own purpose and for His glory alone, chooses whom to leave in this lie. He is the one who is the "power behind the throne," as the rulers of this world attempt to be their own god. Jehovah God alone exalts whom He will, even the basest of men. Cf. Daniel 4:17; Revelation 13:4, 7 (17:17). We must remember that ALL POWER belongs to Jesus, Mt.28:19.
This temptation to be one's own god is conquered through the power of the resurrected Christ by those God has chosen to command the light to shine out of darkness into their heart, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.
All evidence points to Satan's first sin being his deception of Eve. The many names given to him point to his primary characteristic of Deceiver and Liar. This evidence says that the curse came upon the great Serpent because he deceived Eve, not because he tried to exalt himself to or above God. The passages used to support the idea that Satan attempted to overthrow God are not even referring to Satan. They are speaking of a man or a system of men, united in the ungodly state. Satan is no more than a supernatural deceiver and a liar, who convinces men that they can be as god.
The Deceiver's devices are revealed to us in God's word, 2 Corinthians 2:11. This is why Paul stressed the importance of thoroughly searching and studying the SUPERNATURAL WORD, THE TRUTH OF GOD in 1 & 2 Timothy. This alone will destroy Satan's supernatural power of deception. The whole world lieth in wickedness because men want to believe that they can be as god, or even that they cannot be deceived, Job 15:2. But, God was manifested in the flesh to free man from that wickedness, and to translate us into His kingdom, 1 John 5:19.
An extremely sad conclusion is that the vast majority of pastors today are leaving their people in bondage to the deceiver, because they do not preach the truth of God that alone frees the people, and thy law is truth, Psalms 119:142.
How many churches and people have been destroyed because they attributed too much power to Satan? How many churches and people have been destroyed because they do not attribute all power to God? How many churches have been destroyed because they have not recognized Satan for what he is, a liar and deceiver? Deception always leads to death.
Keil says there is no "warrant whatever" in making Lucifer a name for Satan. It can only be referring to the king of Babylon, yet a type of Satan. The king of Babylon in all of his pomp and glory, exalted himself to the heavens. His goal was to be as gods, like the most High. V. 7, pg. 312. (Remember the kingdom of Babylon was the head of gold in Daniel. Nothing like it before or since.)
Though JFB says that the language of Isaiah describing the fall of Babylon is drawn from the fall of Satan himself, and that Satan's spirit energizes the heathen, JFB offers no scriptural documentation for this assumption. JFB does identify the description here as the type of mystical Babylon, and that the name Lucifer as now attributed to Satan came to pass over a process of time. V. II, pt. 1, pg. 610.
E.J. Young says that this passage describes a king's desire to erect an earthly city and kingdom which would be exalted to the point that he could take his place among the gods, as their equal. His desire was similar to the desire recorded in 2 Thess. 2:4, the desire to be as God. Babylon's desire, personified in this king, was to render void the work of God, to bring about salvation apart from the coming Saviour. Thus, Isaiah describes the downfall and removal from the scene of a king who desired to be as god, and it cannot apply to Satan. The Book of Isaiah, V. I, pg. 441, 2.
The Pulpit Commentary says that this is the ambitious spirit of man. Though it has often been taken as a synonym for Satan, it is really a highly poetical description of the King of Babylon, and the Babylonian empire is in Scripture represented as the type of the ambitions, aspiring, tyrannical, and self- idolizing power. V. 13 describes the boasting of this king. V. 10, pgs. 245, 6.
Matthew Henry points out that it is only an allusion to identify this with the fall of the angels. Rather it is the description of the Lord bringing down all who invade the rights and disturb the peace of mankind. "for he is King of nations as well as of saints.." V. IV, pg. 88.
Albert Barnes says that Isaiah had in mind the bright morning star. He points out, as does JFB, that the identification with this star is a usurpation of the identity of Christ, Rev. 21:16. It is not to be understood literally; but it means that this magnificent oriental monarch intended to set himself up as supreme over all other powers, and even to rise above the stars of the heaven. His desire was not to acknowledge any superior either in heaven or earth. He designed that he, himself, should be regarded as the supreme dictator with his laws above all laws, and that all should pay homage to him. Barne's also calls attention to the similarity of Paul's description of Antichrist, 2 Thess. ii.4 and the description in Revelation xvii. 4, 5. Babylon's goal, represented by this king, was to be as gods, like the Most High. Barne's Notes, Isaiah V. I, pg. 271, 2, 4.
Adam Clarke points out that the context speaks explicitly concerning the pride, arrogance and fall of the king of Babylon, and that he does not know why it has been applied to the chief of fallen angels. He says that it would be strange indeed that the Holy Spirit, by his prophets, should call this Satan, the arch-enemy of God, the light-bringer. "But the truth is, the text speaks nothing at all concerning Satan nor his fall, or the occasion of that fall.. Oh how necessary it is to understand the literal meaning of Scripture, that preposterous comments may be prevented!" V. IV, pg. 82.
James Hastings is consistent with this understanding of Lucifer. DICTIONARY OF THE BIBLE, vol. III, pg. 159.
"Any interpretation of Isa. 14 which does not take into account the mythological allusion does injustice to what is said there. [It may be helpful to add that this much-discussed passage with possible parallels to pagan mythology is actually in form a quotation from a heathen king. It is natural for a heathen king to boast that he would exalt his throne above the gods or above the mountain where he believed the gods assembled.]" TWOT, pg. 217.
And last of all, BDB, #1966, pg. 237. ("n.m. appell. shining one, epith, of king of Babylon..) How art thou fallen, shining one, son of dawn! i.e. star of the morning.
|The Gold Standard|
Quite often we hear that one of the major problems with these United States is the financial system, or maybe it is the central banking system of the privately owned Federal Reserve, which is permitted to create fiat 'money' with its printing presses. Maybe could be the lack of a hard money reserve, which leaves us with no silver or gold behind the paper in use.
We meet and hear of many men traveling the country dealing with monetary issues from every aspect imaginable, and blaming everyone for the financial crises we have: Banks, IRS, Lending Institutions, etc.
Recently a man in our church was talking to someone who was explaining to him the necessity of obeying God's laws in the financial area. When our member asked his friend where he attended church, the man responded, "I don't go to church. because I cannot find anything suitable." I find it strange that we do not hear of people traveling the country explaining the importance of paying the tithe, which is God's tax. The Scriptural principle is that oppressive civil taxation is a direct result of not glorifying God as God, and not paying the tithe (Cf. 1 Sam. 8).
Many times we get the impression that if the central government is forced to maintain sound financial policies, our ills would be solved and the judgment of God avoided. We cannot overlook the fact that the financial system which we have today is unbiblical. As Christians we must be pressing for a return to sound Biblical financial principles. However, this will not solve all of our problems or postpone the judgment of God. (Certainly, it would in that one area, but would this avoid a general judgment of God?)
The first part of the book of Zephaniah is addressed to the covenant-people, the inhabitants of Judah and Jerusalem. This Book opens with a strong statement which leaves no doubt about what the Lord is going to do, v.2. Then He gives some reasons for His wrath against this nation.
V. 5, they are trying to serve two masters, the Lord and Malcham (statism). They are trying to please the Lord and self (state).
V. 6, they have turned their back on the Lord. They no longer have time to serve Him, seek Him, or inquire of Him. His law-word is a strange thing to them. Their gold is their god and their time is spent seeking, serving and protecting this god.
V. 9, they serve this master with violence and deceit.
V. 12, even though the word of the Lord speaks against this sin, they see nothing wrong with it. They are comfortable as they study how to gain and protect their god.
V. 13 describes the Lord's wrath against their sin. As we follow this description on through, we see that the Lord in His wrath, is going to strip their god from them with great trouble and distress. This will be so terrible that men shall walk like blind men.
Taking vs. 17 and 18 together, we see that these people had succeeded in protecting their god, their gold and silver, for which they had worked so hard. However, it did not profit them in the day of the Lord's wrath. Why? Because they have sinned against the Lord.
The whole land was devoured by the fire of his jealousy. What was He jealous against? He was angered with their attempt to serve two masters, self and the Lord. He was angered with their indifference toward Himself and His word. In the usual manner, the Lord in the midst of His pronouncement of terrible judgment, offers hope, 2:1-3. Notice the phrase, not desired in 2:1 (the margin reads not desirous). They were not desirous to turn back to the whole counsel of God. Their desire was toward their gold and silver. Their lack of desire to turn to the law-word of God ignited the fire of his jealousy.
Now for a conclusion. As we mentioned, we hear the call to return the central government to sound Biblical financial principles. (We must work for this, along with many other areas. One area is not more important than another.) We hear of ways to force civil government to return to sound financial policies. We hear that this will solve many problems which we see today, and maybe even avoid the wra
Pastor Ovid Need Jr.