The Pursuit of God

Serious Topics for Serious Christians

Downgrading the Devil: Debunking the Myth of Lucifer

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Among Christians, it is commonly believed that bad ole Satan wasn’t always the shady, malicious character he is today.  Instead, Christians are told that a long time ago, evil Satan used to be a beautiful, brilliant, perfect and powerful angel named Lucifer.  Lucifer had it all.  Lucifer was the chief angel—God’s right hand guy.  But then Lucifer got a big head and all greedy for more power.  So he staged some kind of coup against God, which sparked a massive civil war among the angels.  A third of the angels sided with Lucifer, the rest sided with God.  Team Lucifer lost, and they all got booted out of Heaven, cursed, and turned into the ugly, slinking creatures we know as demons today.  The archangel Michael then took over as the top commander of all the good angels, and today he and Lucifer are constantly going at it.  This is the quick summary of who Christians think Lucifer is.  And guess what?  It’s all a bunch of hooey.

If you believe in Lucifer, you have been completely scammed by the Church.  Now no human likes the idea of being intentionally deceived, and while she’s conning you right and left, the Church teaches you that your spiritual leaders are safe, trustworthy folks who would never try to drive you off course with God.  Not much they wouldn’t. In real life, your spiritual leaders are just humans, and all humans are prone to manipulating others for the sake of their own gain.

Now we’re not saying that there aren’t any good leaders out there, because there are.  But the problem is that even the good guys are conning you.  They don’t mean to, and many of them don’t even realize they’re doing it.  Today a lot of well-meaning pastors and priests are putting way too much trust in the humans who taught them, and since those humans taught them a bunch of hooey, the hooey gets passed on down to you through guys who would never dream of intentionally deceiving you.  There’s only one cure for this problem: each individual Christian needs to start questioning what he’s being told and asking God directly for guidance.  In other words, we all need to be practicing good discernment.

Until we’re each seeking God’s opinion on the things we’re being taught, we’re all going to just keep passing on the malarkey generation after generation.  And since you’ll never see the day that all Christians start taking responsibility for their own growth instead of just parking their brains and following human shepherds wherever they lead, you’ll never see the Church rise out of the muck of conniving deceptions.  There simply aren’t enough Christians out there who really care enough about honoring God to actually treat Him as the all-wise Being that He is.  Instead, we’ve got scores of folks who have thrown God over for human guides, and whenever we start refusing to depend on God directly in life, He responds by making sure our idols trash us.  You see, God is a very jealous Being, and that means He isn’t going to just stand by and smile while you treat Him like your last resort.  He’s going to retaliate—often in ways that are so ingeniously subtle that you won’t even see yourself sinking into delusions until it’s too late.

Now if you were well-versed in the Old Testament prophetic books, you’d understand how angry God gets towards those who claim to be His followers yet they are refusing to treat Him like their Guide, Protector, and Ruler.  In the Old Testament prophetic books, we find Yahweh raging on and on at people who are refusing to seek Him directly for guidance in life.  One of the thrilling lessons we glean from all of that raging is that God actually invites dots like us to come to Him with our questions.  He doesn’t just want us to ask Him the occasional question—He wants us to cling to Him like flypaper and desperately rely on Him to guide us every moment of every day.  God wants us to view Him as a Good Shepherd who is actively shepherding us—not as a distant King who keeps forgetting we exist until we send up nagging prayers.  He refuses to accept the role as Someone who we fall back on when the humans who we trust let us down.  He demands to be the One who we put all of our trust in—the One whose counsel we view as infinitely wiser than the advice of mere created beings.

If the Church were actually interested in helping you develop a strong, positive relationship with your Maker, she would use the Bible to educate you about God’s priorities and preferences.  But instead, she uses the Bible to con you into doing everything that God says He hates.  Take this rot about Lucifer.  Why should we even care about the personal history of a sad sack like Satan?  Who even cares how he came to be the rebellious moron that he is today?  Why should we care what rank Michael has?  What is it to us how angelic beings organize themselves?

We humans were created by three non-human Deities who tell us that They’re jealous by Nature and that They don’t want us focused on any supernatural beings other than Them.  Learning to treat Yahweh, Jesus and the magnificent Holy Spirit with the highest honor and respect should be the goal that we are pursuing with all that we are.  Loving our Gods the way that They want to be loved, and learning how to actually make Them our top priorities—that is more than enough work for a lifetime.  By the time we’re focusing on the only Beings who actually matter, we won’t have time to care about how some dolt of a demon got himself into the mess that he’s currently in.  But then the Church comes along with her truckload of idols and she starts talking ad nauseum about angels, saints, and demons.  The Church is always trying to pull your focus off of your Creators by enticing you with wild tales that she’s just invented to please her insatiable lust for idolatry.  And as she spins her tall tales of powerful angels, glorious saints, and some amazing, sparkling creature named Lucifer, she’s proving how much she hates the Gods who she claims to be promoting.  Yahweh, Jesus and the Holy Spirit hate idolatry.  They detest Their followers drooling over some idiot demon and his supposed army of subordinates.  If the Church had one ounce of sincere respect for God, she wouldn’t be constantly pressuring you to cultivate soul attitudes which your Creators hate.  But the Church hates God, which is why she invented the Lucifer personality.

Lucifer is a fictional character who was invented for only one purpose: to increase your interest and awe of Satan.  This is why the Church dresses Lucifer up to be so fabulous. She claims that he was super wise, super powerful, ultra-attractive, and entrusted with guarding the very throne of God.  Then she tries to tell you that the Bible actually supports this malarkey.  Not hardly.

THE ROMAN ROOTS OF CHRISTIANITY

To understand how the Church invented Lucifer, we need to start with the fact that Christianity was launched in the culture of the Roman Empire.  The Israel that you read about in the New Testament Gospel books was under the control of the Romans.  Rome became the dominant power in the biblical world during a period of history that the Bible does not comment on—a time between the Old and New Testaments. The Roman Empire continued to exist for centuries after Jesus’ death and ascension.

Now since the religion of Christianity was formed in the context of the Roman culture, the first Christian denomination—Catholicism—gained a distinctly Roman flavor.  For example, Romans were polytheists.  They had a whole pantheon of gods—more than they could even keep track of.  Gods were believed to have different degrees of power, with Jupiter (aka Zeus) being the king of the gods.  While the most powerful gods naturally got the most worship, individual Romans developed personal favorites—certain gods who they gave the most attention to in their daily lives.  For example, a Roman soldier might favor Mars over Jupiter, because Mars was the god of war.  If war is a big part of your life, you’ll naturally want to schmooze whatever deity you think has the power to help you out in that area.

So then, what we had in ancient Rome was a bunch of individual Romans favoring certain gods over others, while all Romans acknowledged heavy hitters like Jupiter.  Does this sound familiar?  It should, because the Catholics are doing the same thing today.  While all Catholics are taught to revere heavy hitters like Jesus and Mary, individuals also develop personal favorites among the extremely large and ever growing pantheon of Catholic saints.  But wait—what’s with this ridiculous tradition of deifying dead humans?  Well, that’s another influence of Rome.

By the time of the New Testament, Roman emperors had invented a “create-your-own-god” system which became known as the Imperial Cult.  When you hear imperial, think emperor, because to qualify to have your name added to this particular cult’s membership roster, you had to either be a Roman emperor, or be someone who an emperor really liked.  The Imperial Cult was essentially a collection of former Roman emperors who were declared to be gods after they died.  A modern analogy would be if Americans today suddenly declared former presidents Lincoln, Washington, and Jefferson to be living deities who were actively monitoring American affairs today.  Once you declare a man to be a god, then it’s only natural to build some fancy religious shrine where people can gather to worship him.  Can you imagine worshiping George Washington as a god?  Sounds pretty ludicrous, doesn’t it?  Because America is an atheistic society, Americans can’t imagine having their government leaders invent gods for them to worship—especially gods who used to be real life politicians.  But the Roman Empire was not atheistic.  It was a religious society with a religious government, so when the current emperor’s favorite brother dies, and the emperor tries to ease his personal grief by declaring his dead brother to be a god, people fell in line.  While the Imperial Cult was supposed to be composed only of  ex-emperors, many relatives of emperors got added in along the way.

Now if an emperor was a jerk and no one liked him, then the Roman Senate would refuse to vote him into godhood after he died.  Today, if you’re a toad and you fail to meet the Catholic pope’s idea of “good enough,” then you won’t get “sainted” when you die.  Today the Catholic “make a saint” machinery is very similar to the Roman Imperial Cult.  New saints can only be created by the approval of the pope and his College of Cardinals.  The whole structure of the Catholic church has a very Roman-esque feel—with the pope mirroring a Roman emperor and the College of Cardinals functioning like the ancient Roman Senate.  Like Roman emperors of the past, Catholic popes vary in how much power they try to horde and how much they rely on help from their cardinals.  Like Roman emperors, Catholic popes are supposed to reign until they die.

Today the Catholic saint Mary functions as the queen of all the other saints, just as old Jupiter was believed to be the king of all other Roman gods.  And while all Catholics are taught to venerate Mary as their critical liaison to Jesus, individual Catholics develop favorite patron saints who they direct the majority of their prayers and admiration to.  Like ancient Roman gods, Catholic saints are given fanciful, often absurdly dramatic backstories.  They are also assigned different areas of expertise and influence.  Just as old Mars was the god of war and that old fish-man Neptune was the god of the sea, the Catholic saint Christopher is the guy you pray to when you go on a journey, and St. Peter is the patron of fishermen (obviously).  Now this is all a bunch of idolatrous guff, of course, and it’s extremely offensive to the real Gods.  So why doesn’t the Catholic Church stop with this garbage?  And what’s wrong with Catholics that they’re calling their pope “infallible in matters of the faith” when the man stands around publicly inventing new idols for everyone to worship?  How can Catholic leaders promote a Bible in which idolatry is condemned from cover to cover, and yet at the same time teach their flock to pray to, depend on, and worship created beings?  Well, this is what happens when we care more about sucking up to humans than we do about honoring the real Gods.

As a Christian who actually cares about honoring your Creators, you need to realize that truth can quickly become obscured and mangled by cultural influence.  Today all Christian denominations are promoting a bunch of useless rituals and traditions which are nothing more than bad ideas that they picked up from people in the past and are now refusing to get rid of.  The influence of the Romans is particularly glaring when we look at the Catholic denomination, but all denominations show the strong influence of ancient Jewish culture.  Because the first promoters of Christ were folks who grew up in Judaism, early Christian leaders decided to keep Jewish Scriptures as a unifying text that they could build on.  The Old Testament you read today was taken from the Jews.  Christians later assembled the New Testament—but because all of those documents were authored by ethnic Jews who grew up in Judaism, we find a heavy Jewish cultural influence permeating those writings as well.

Does it matter that Christians today are using Scriptures which are immersed in ancient Jewish cultural values and traditions?  Yes, it matters very much.  Thanks to the Christian obsession with written Scriptures, what we have today is a bunch of Christians striving very hard to imitate ancient Jews.  Fasting to make God pay more attention to us, praying in the Name of Jesus, declaring things in the Name of Jesus, laying on hands in order to boost the effectiveness of our prayers, tithing 10%, promoting the nation of Israel as fabulous no matter how cruelly she’s treating others, viewing ethnic Jews as God’s favorite people—these are just a few examples of ideas that we’ve picked up from ancient Jewish culture and are still recycling today.

Today you only think the Christian Bible is “God breathed” because of what one Jewish man (Paul) said.  And yet why on earth do you view ethnic Jews as being any kind of authority on spiritual matters?  Ethnic Jews receive the majority of God’s scolding in the Bible.  Yahweh is chewing them out in the Old Testament, and Jesus is railing at them in the Gospel books.  Both Yahweh and Jesus accuse Jewish leaders of being conniving liars and spiritual idiots.  Both Yahweh and Jesus accuse the bulk of the Jewish people to be hardened spiritual rebels.  With two of your Gods giving such a dark assessment of the spiritual wisdom of Jews, why on earth do you just accept one statement by the apostle Paul?  Shouldn’t you at least be cautious and questioning when you’re reading material by guys who were members of a cultural group that God is frequently expressing disgusted anger towards?  Of course you should.

Now for those of you who have been taught that it’s “anti-Semitic” to point out the fact that the Bible is filled with accounts of God ripping on the Jews, realize that if the whole Bible was immersed in Greek culture or Chinese culture, we would have found the same pattern.  The Jews aren’t more foolish or rebellious than other ethnicities.  As a whole, the human race has always favored rebellion over obedience.  The reason we’re pointing out the long history of spiritual idiocy among Jews that is described in the Bible is to help you see how foolish you’re being to park your brains and trust humans to be your spiritual guides in life.  Humans get it wrong—a lot.  Humans are such fatheads that they need to be worshiped on this planet after they are dead and gone, so they come up with things like Imperial Cults and sainthood.  If you trust in humans to guide you to truth, you’re going to end up in a deluded mess.  So you need to stop worshiping the Bible, stop blindly believing every cockamamie theory that “St. Paul” came up with, stop viewing any human as infallible, and start looking directly to God for wisdom in spiritual matters.  If the pope wants to declare some dead guy to be a “saint,” let him.  Such idiocy is its own reward. But you need to do better than that.

LATIN LUCIFER

Now since this is supposed to be a post about Lucifer, why did we just spend so much time talking about the Roman roots of Christianity?  Because the whole Lucifer scam is a distinctly Roman affair.

In the Church today, you can find many bloated egos strutting about declaring themselves to be experts on the “original languages” of the Bible.  And by now you might have heard that the Old Testament manuscripts were primarily written in ancient Hebrew, while the New Testament documents were mostly penned in ancient Greek.  Because all spoken languages are in a constant state of change, no one today speaks the versions of the Hebrew and Greek that our biblical documents are written in.  Because these languages are out of use, you have to invest a lot of time, money, and mental strain in order to really understand them.  Most Christians feel they have better things to do with their lives than understand how a bunch of people used to speak thousands of years ago.  And since Bible language “experts” know that most of you have no idea how to properly translate ancient Greek or Hebrew, they have all kinds of fun using your ignorance against you when they translate the Bible into your modern language.  Far more often than you realize, Bible translators are intentionally translating certain words incorrectly—or not translating them at all—just to mess with you.  The Lucifer scam is a classic example of this.

LUCIFER IN ISAIAH 14

The word lucifer is a Latin word.  Latin was to Romans what English is to modern Americans—it was their national language.  Because Christianity was born in the Roman culture, and because non-Jewish Roman Catholics had no use for tripping over Hebrew, the Hebrew Old Testament got translated into Latin.  This was much more convenient for early Roman Catholic leaders.  So now we’ve got a Latin Old Testament instead of a Hebrew Old Testament.  Jump ahead in time and someone decides to translate that Latin Old Testament into English.  When we come to Isaiah 14:12 in the Latin Vulgate Bible, we read something like this:

…quomodo cecidisti de caelo lucifer qui mane oriebaris corruisti in terram qui vulnerabas gentes… (Isa. 14:12, Vulgata)

In this context, the term lucifer is a noun which means morning star or day star.  If we were to translate Isaiah 14:12 into English, we’d end up with something like this:

“How you have fallen from heaven, O star of the morning, son of the dawn! You have been cut down to the earth, you who have weakened the nations!” (Isa. 14:12, NAS)

Sounds like someone is making a speech doesn’t it?  This verse is part of a long, mocking taunt which is being directed at one specific human ruler: the king of Babylon.  How do you know this?  Well, turn to Isaiah 14 and let your eyes quickly glance over the whole chapter.  Notice how Verses 1-2 are the end of a speech which was begun in the previous chapter.  Then Verses 3-4 introduce a new speech which begins in Verse 4 and continues through Verse 23. To understand who the speech is being directed at, read the introductory comment.

On the day Yahweh gives you relief from your suffering and turmoil and from the harsh labor forced on you, you will take up this taunt against the king of Babylon… (Isa. 14:3-4)

Who is going to be taunting the king of Babylon?  Israelites will—Israelites who were forced to live as slaves of Babylon for many years.  Let’s get some quick historical context so we can understand what’s happening here.

HISTORICAL CONTEXT OF ISAIAH 14

There is a lot of prophecy recorded in the Old Testament: future predictions which men received from God and passed on to others.  Some prophets lived to see their predictions fulfilled shortly after they said them.  Other prophets predicted things hundreds of years ahead of time, so they never personally got to see their predictions come true—plus they sounded really strange to their immediate audiences.

The prophet Isaiah was someone who predicted many historical events far, far in advance.  Isaiah did predict a few things that he lived to see the fulfillment of—but the bulk of his predictions were way ahead of schedule.  Isaiah is the first prophet to clearly predict the coming of Christ—and he did so about 700 years before Christ was born.  He also predicted that Jerusalem would fall to the Babylonians.  That event happened around 586 BC—about 100 years after Isaiah’s lifetime.

The Babylonians were like the Roman Empire of their day: they were the dominant power in the biblical world.  The Babylonians conquered Israel during their glory days, and in the midst of that chaos, thousands of Jews were hauled off as slaves of war and forced to resettle in the Babylonian Empire.  That period of exile lasted 70 years—as predicted by Yahweh through the prophet Jeremiah, who was born long after the prophet Isaiah. During those 70 years of exile, the Babylonian Empire was conquered by the Medes and Persians—an event which Isaiah also predicted well in advance. It is while the Persians are in power that a Persian king named Cyrus allows the Jews to return home and rebuild Jerusalem.  In Isaiah 14, we find Isaiah predicting that return.  The picture being painted in Isaiah 14 is of a bunch of Jews finally returning to their homeland, thinking about that nasty old king who originally dragged them away, and getting off on the idea that he’s rotting in some miserable situation in the underworld.

Now when God prophesies things centuries in advance, He tends to focus on general themes while He leaves out a ton of details.  In real life, the man who ruled Babylon at the time Israel was sacked ended up being a sincere follower of Yahweh.  That man’s name was Nebuchadnezzar.  Yet the fellow being mocked and ridiculed in Isaiah 14 is depicted as a cruel tyrant who cares nothing about God.  That is not Nebuchadnezzar.

After Nebuchadnezzar died, he was succeeded by several other men who were not followers of Yahweh.  The fellow who was in charge in Babylon on the night that the Medes and Persians stormed in was a rebellious twerp named Belshazzar.  Belshazzar is the guy who saw the hand writing on the wall in Daniel 5.  The reason the hand showed up was because Belshazzar was hosting a rowdy feast in which he was publicly mocking Yahweh as an impotent Deity who had been defeated by other gods.  The creepy hand wrote words on the wall which announced that Yahweh was about to hand Belshazzar’s empire over to the Medes and Persians—a threat which He made good on that very night.

So then, not all Babylonian kings are equal.  Some honor Yahweh, others mock Him.  But when you’re a fiercely patriotic Jew with a raging superiority complex who believes grudge holding is a fabulous thing, you really don’t give a flip about which Babylonian kings are trying to do right by Yahweh.  Instead, you lump all Babylonians into the same category of despicable yucks, and when a Babylonian king goes down, you’re celebrating.  This is what’s happening in Isaiah 14.  Patriotic, Jewish Isaiah is horrified by visions of his beloved homeland getting conquered by yuck Babylonians.  Such imagery would inspire feelings of hatred in Isaiah and in every other patriotic Jew.  So when Isaiah sees the Jews finally getting to come home again after a period of enslavement, Isaiah isn’t seeing the whole picture, nor does he understand the exact timeline.  All he’s grasping is that some jerk of a tyrant trashed Israel, but then Yahweh got revenge by trashing the Babylonians.  What does a patriotic Jew do when he sees his oppressors fall?  He parties.  He composes a mocking song that he sings in public just to let everyone know how happy he is that his enemy has fallen.

THE LITERAL INACCURACY OF ISAIAH 14

Now to understand Isaiah 14,  you have to understand that when Yahweh is talking to Jews, He talks like a Jew, and He talks to them within the context of their own immaturity.  Yahweh was not at all pleased with the way Jews acted superior to all other people.  He wasn’t pleased with their merciless, grudge holding attitudes.  Yahweh doesn’t judge humans based on what their ethnicity is, and that means He doesn’t condemn all Babylonian rulers as pills just because some of them were bad apples.  But the Jews who God interacts with in the Bible are too entrenched in their own biases to listen to anything but biased thinking.  So God talks to them using language that they understand—language that emphasizes hate, bigotry, and a pro-Israel bias.  But while He’s talking to Jews down on their very low level, God also slips in some important lessons about the kinds of soul attitudes He wants humans to have.  For example, if you read through the speech against the king of Babylon in Isaiah 14, you’ll find that God is condemning rulers for treating other people cruelly.

“How the oppressor has come to an end! How his fury has ended! Yahweh has broken the rod of the wicked, the scepter of the rulers, which in anger struck down peoples with unceasing blows, and in fury subdued nations with relentless aggression.” (Isa. 14:4-6)

When Israel first becomes a nation back in the days of Exodus, she lives in a world that is rather like Europe today: there are many, relatively small nations who are constantly having tiffs with each other, but no one nation is dominating the whole scene.  It was only later on that the biblical world started being plagued with empire problems.  The first empire we hear about is the Assyrian Empire.  Assyria was around a long time as a small nation, but then she developed an attitude of “I won’t be happy until I take over the whole world.”  Much to the horror of the many smaller nations like Israel and Philistia, Assyria did manage to take over the part of the world that they cared about.  And once the biblical world became dominated by one big bully, the little guys couldn’t break free again. Instead, they ended up passed from bully to bully.

In Isaiah 14, people are celebrating the end of big bullies.  They’re saying that Yahweh has put an end to wicked mega-rulers who are being so nasty to all the little  nations.

All the lands are at rest and at peace; they break into singing. Even the junipers and the cedars of Lebanon gloat over you and say, “Now that you have been laid low, no one comes to cut us down.” (Isa. 14:7-8)

Here the Jews are celebrating the idea that their last oppressive tyrant has fallen, thus they are finally free.  Is this what will happen in real life?  No, it’s not.  At this point, Isaiah is talking about events that won’t happen for nearly 200 years.  This prophecy is not accurate in fact.  Instead, its purpose is to assure the Jews that when Israel is destroyed, she won’t remain that way forever.

THE THEOLOGICAL CONTEXT OF ISAIAH 14

To understand why this message was so vital for the Jews, you have to understand that there was a lot more than political pride at stake.  In Bible times, there were no atheists.  Every nation had national gods and national religions.  When human armies went to war, it was believed that national gods were warring as well.  In the minds of the Jews, Israel could never be destroyed unless Yahweh Himself was defeated, and that wasn’t supposed to be possible.  Now in real life, this theological interpretation was all wrong.  In real life, all the gods people were worshiping in Bible times were false gods.  Yahweh was the one true God, and Yahweh was the One controlling the outcome of all wars.  Yahweh emphasized His supremacy to the Jews many times, but it was like it went in one ear and out the other.  With the Jews themselves up to their necks in idolatry, they didn’t want to really accept the idea that Yahweh was the only real God, and that He was the One running the whole show.  Instead, they clung to the absurd notion that their false gods really were having a big influence on world events.

Because the Jews were refusing to see Yahweh as the only real God, they were theologically traumatized whenever Israel got spanked because they saw it as evidence that Yahweh Himself was being defeated.  Even though Yahweh told them over and over again that He was the One spanking Israel because she was being such a defiant twerp, the Jews really resisted this idea.  Even guys who were supposed to be on Yahweh’s side, like the prophets Jeremiah and Ezekiel, often threw their sympathies on the side of their countrymen instead of siding with God.

Because the Jews insisted on viewing the destruction of their homeland as an unbearable loss, we find Yahweh graciously putting out reams of prophecies in the Old Testament which speak of Israel’s suffering being temporary, and of her quickly being restored to great glory.  Is this what happened in real life? No, it’s not.  Once Yahweh slammed Israel down, she remained down for centuries, and she’s still not doing so hot today.  In real life, Israel will never gain anything close to the kind of world supremacy that she’s described as having in the Bible.  This shouldn’t come as a surprise when you read those passages more closely and notice what else is being described in them.  For starters, the Temple for Yahweh is standing in Jerusalem and in full operation—a Temple which Christ’s coming has made irrelevant.  In passages which describe Israel as a world power, we also find descriptions of all nations streaming to her Temple in Jerusalem to participate in a sacrificial system which Yahweh and Christ have thrown out.  In Old Testament times, no one had heard of Christ, so it made perfect sense that Yahweh would be pleased with the whole world streaming to Israel just to honor Him.  But today Yahweh would not be pleased with such behavior.  The revelation of Christ has been a huge game changer–one which makes those old descriptions of Israel in glory look quite offensive.  Now that Christ has been revealed, we’ll never see the day that Yahweh praises Israel for publicly acting like Christ never came.  You need to think before you just get on board the “pro-Israel” train.  Yahweh predicts many things in the Old Testament that never happened—including a prediction that Christ would physically reign on a throne in Jerusalem and free Israel from her oppressors.  In real life, Christ died on a cross and predicted that Israel’s oppression would greatly increase shortly after His ascension, which it did.

Today the “experts” are just picking and choosing which Old Testament prophecies they like the sound of, and declaring that those things will be literally fulfilled, while they ignore context and the rest of the material available.  You’ll never learn the right lessons from the Bible while you’re playing such games.  If you want to correctly understand a passage like Isaiah 14, you need to examine the context.  When you do, you’ll see that it is a passage which is clearly addressing a human ruler who symbolized the tyranny of his empire from a Jewish perspective.  If you were a Babylonian, you might not think your king was so bad.  But if you’re a fiercely patriotic Jew, then you intensely hate any ruler who you view as responsible for taking your country’s freedom away.  You don’t care about Yahweh’s interpretation of world events, and you don’t care that your nation was past due for a spanking because of the way she’s been spitting in Yahweh’s face.  You’re just into your enemies falling, and you want to believe they’ll all end up eternally miserable.

FROM BABYLON TO LUCIFER

Now today, you hear a lot more about the Roman Empire than you do the Babylonian Empire, even though the two empires had overlapping territory and both seemed undefeatable in their glory days.  Because Christian leaders know that you don’t understand what a major theme the Babylonian Empire was in the Old Testament, they have endless fun messing with you on the subject of Babylon.  When the king of Babylon is mentioned in Isaiah 14, you’re told it’s really a passage about Lucifer.  When Babylon is being destroyed in Revelation, you’re told it’s a code word for some modern nation like America or for a modern city like New York.  Well, no, this is all utterly absurd.

Babylon was the capital city of the Babylonian Empire.  The Babylonian Empire was the first empire to totally sack Israel.  Ethnic Jews were a fiercely patriotic people who valued grudge holding, therefore anyone who sacked Israel was viewed as eternal scum. By the time of the New Testament, the Babylonian Empire was long gone, but the Jews were nowhere close to forgiving what was done to their ancestors.  As they struggled under the oppression of Rome, they naturally felt that they were being persecuted by another Babylon, thus Babylon was used as a code word for Rome in Revelation.

Once you realize that Revelation is predicting the fall of the Roman Empire over and over again, you can appreciate the need for metaphorical language.  John was living in the Roman Empire when he wrote Revelation, and he could have gotten in big trouble for slamming the empire in print.  So metaphors abound in Revelation, but the metaphors were super obvious to the book’s target audience, which was primarily composed of ethnic Jews who were still carrying a deep grudge towards those ancient Babylonians.  Just as modern day Jews think of the Holocaust when they hear the name Hitler, New Testament Jews thought of an oppressive, tyrannical empire when they heard the name Babylon.  There is nothing mysterious about references to Babylon in the Bible.  You just think there is because of all the guff that your leaders have invented to make a simple issue appear mysterious and complicated.

Now in Bible times, every nation had their own gods, and many gods were acknowledged by multiple nations.  The Old Testament Jews had a bad habit of adopting and worshiping every new god that they were introduced to—and this is something Yahweh is frequently on their case about.  Yet while Yahweh claims to be the only real God, He also understands that false gods seemed very real to the people who worshiped them.  Since Yahweh speaks to people within the context of their beliefs—even when those beliefs are wrong—in the Old Testament, we sometimes find Yahweh talking as if the gods of other nations are real.  For example, Marduk was the patron deity of the city of Babylon.  Bel was a title that meant “lord” or “master.”  Today Christians might refer to Jesus by the personal name of Jesus, or they might refer to Him by the generic title of Lord.  In the same way, if you were a Babylonian, you might pray to Marduk using his personal name, or you might call him by the title Bel.  Now once you understand that Marduk—aka Bel—was big stuff to the Babylonians, and once you understand that Marduk’s turf was the city of Babylon, you can appreciate why Yahweh says that the god  Marduk will be personally devastated when Babylon is destroyed.

“Announce to the nations; proclaim and raise up a signal flag; proclaim, and hide nothing. Say: Babylon is captured; Bel is put to shame; Marduk is devastated; her idols are put to shame; her false gods, devastated.” (Jer. 50:2)

And as long as Yahweh’s talking about destroying Babylon, and ripping away all of the people who the Babylonians have enslaved as war trophies, He might as well get graphic and gross about it.

“I will punish Bel in Babylon. I will make him vomit what he swallowed. The nations will no longer stream to him; even Babylon’s wall will fall.” (Jer. 51:44)

Contrary to what you’re told in church, God does have a dirty mouth, and He uses some pretty graphic language in the Bible (see Creating a Different God: How the Bible is Being Changed to Lead You Astray).

So then, in these passages about Marduk and Bel, we find Yahweh using the religious beliefs of the day to make a point.  He does this a lot in the Old Testament, and He’s doing it again in the famous lucifer passage from Isaiah 14:12.  The early Catholics didn’t do a great job of translating the original Hebrew into Latin.  When they use the term lucifer, they make it sound like the king of Babylon was being given the lofty nicknames of star of the morning and son of the dawn.  Here’s a common translation of the passage:

“How you have fallen from heaven, O star of the morning, son of the dawn! You have been cut down to the earth, you who have weakened the nations!” (Isa. 14:12)

This is what we get after we go from Hebrew to Latin to English.  But if we go back to the original Hebrew, what we find is a personal name being used—the name of a supernatural being named Helel who is referred to as the son of Shachar.  A better translation of this passage, then, would be this:

“How you have fallen from heaven, Helel, son of Shachar! You have been cut down to the earth, you who have weakened the nations!” (Isa. 14:12)

Shachar was the Canaanite god of the dawn.  He was a son of the Canaanite high god El.  Helel was depicted as a mighty warrior who got so greedy for more power, that he tried to dethrone El and make himself the top god.  He didn’t succeed. Instead, he got smacked down by the powerful El and totally humiliated.

Now before we go further, you need to understand something about the polytheists who we meet in the Bible.  The Romans, the Greeks, the Babylonians, the Egyptians, the Philistines—all of these people had more gods than they could keep track of, and they made up all kinds of baloney about who outranked who.  In each collection of gods, there was usually one male god who was viewed as the head honcho.  Sometimes that top god had a female goddess who functioned like his royal wife.  But the point is that ancient gods were not equal in power—they had ranks, and that led to endless bickering as lower gods got jealous and tried to dethrone higher gods.  Then of course there were humans who got jealous of the gods and tried to find a way to promote themselves.  Ancient mythology is filled with ridiculous stories of humans trying to duke it out with gods, and of gods trying to trick and destroy each other.  Whenever humans start inventing gods for themselves, they invariably give those gods a bunch of human hang-ups, thus their gods frequently act like bratty two-year-olds.

For the Canaanites, the top god was a deity named El.  In Hebrew, El is a generic title that simply means God, so the Jews often referred to Yahweh as El.  But Yahweh wasn’t the El—the head honcho false god who the Canaanites worshiped.

Now whenever some lesser god or pompous human tries to dethrone the top god, the mission has to fail, because the point of these stories is to keep everyone revering the big gods.  For example, when you hear about Helel getting swatted down by the high god El, you’re supposed to think, “Wow, I’m never going to mess with El.  He’s obviously the supreme god.”  Inventing wild tales about your gods is how you keep the worship flowing.

Now in the Old Testament prophetic books, we find several passages in which Yahweh is accusing human leaders of getting so proud of the size of their kingdoms that they actually start to think of themselves as divine beings.  There’s nothing new about human rulers trying to deify themselves.  Egyptian pharaohs did it, and many other rulers took a stab at it.  It’s one thing to get turned into a god after you were dead—as was the case with some Roman emperors and the Imperial Cult.  That was already quite obnoxious. But claiming to be a god while you were still alive on the planet?  That was really overdoing it.  In the Old Testament, we find Yahweh condemning several different rulers for getting carried away with themselves and arrogantly taking the credit for victories which Yahweh has given them.  This is what we find going on in Isaiah 14.  God is saying: “Hey, you pompous king of Babylon.  You’re like that Helel guy who actually thought he could dethrone the god El.  Remember how he got smacked down?  Well, now you’ve been smacked down by Me, Yahweh.  You used to think you were all that when you were mowing down the nations and making everyone serve you.  But now I have ground you into the dirt and you’re totally pathetic.”

“How you have fallen from heaven, Helel, son of Shachar! You have been cut down to the earth, you who have weakened the nations!” (Isa. 14:12)

The fact that Helel is being mentioned in this passage tells us that this was a familiar myth to Isaiah’s immediate audience. They knew who Helel was, and they understood why referring to the hated king of Babylon as Helel was a deliciously insulting metaphor.  No king wants to be compared to a defeated, humiliated, pompous warrior.

Now when the Catholics translated the Hebrew into Latin, they took out the personal names of Canaanite gods, and replaced those names with descriptive titles instead.  This makes the text easier to read, but it also wrecks the whole metaphor.  After all, calling a guy a jerk is different than calling him Hitler.  When you break out the personal name of Hitler, it sounds far more insulting.  It’s the same with this Helel business.  To call the king of Babylon Helel was a real smack down.  But when we cut out the names, we also lose the power of the punch and we’re left with language that actually makes it sound like the king of Babylon is being given complimentary titles:

“How you have fallen from heaven, O star of the morning, son of the dawn! You have been cut down to the earth, you who have weakened the nations!” (Isa. 14:12)

Among folks who worshiped the stars and viewed the morning star (aka the planet Venus) as one of the most important stars, it’s a compliment to call a human king star of the morning.  But if you call the man Helel, it’s not a compliment at all, it’s a stinging insult.  Since the whole point of the song in Isaiah 14 is to mock and insult the fallen king of Babylon, keeping the name Helel in the text is the far more accurate translation.

So then, this is one of those passages that really gets wrecked by translators.  As soon as we take out Helel’s name, the whole punch is lost.  But what’s really shady is how English translators left the Latin term Lucifer in and then capitalized it to make it appear as a personal name.  Instead of talking about some mythical Canaanite warrior who got smacked down by the high god El, we suddenly find ourselves talking about some fellow named Lucifer.  But then comes the really absurd bit as translators start telling you that this particular Lucifer is actually a reference to Satan’s former self.  How on earth do we go from racking on a dethroned Babylonian king to inventing a previous identity for Satan?  Since when did Satan used to be some good angel?  It doesn’t say that anywhere in the Bible.  Instead, Satan is consistently portrayed as a rebellious, malevolent demon who hates God and gets off on human misery.

EZEKIEL 28: GLORIFYING LUCIFER

It’s only in Isaiah 14 that the personal name of Lucifer is introduced.  As for all of the mythology that is attached to Lucifer—his great beauty, his power, and his great authority—all that guff comes from Ezekiel 28.

While Isaiah 14 is ripping on a Babylonian king, Ezekiel 28 is ripping on the human king of Tyre.  In both cases, a human is on a pride trip and thinking he’s all that.  While Babylon was the capital city of a massive empire, Tyre was a super wealthy port city.  The specific individual who Yahweh is chewing out in Ezekiel 28 is so full of himself that he’s actually decided that he is a god.

Then this message came to me from Yahweh: “Son of man, give the ruler of Tyre this message from the Sovereign Yahweh: In your great pride you claim, ‘I am a god! I sit on a divine throne in the heart of the sea.’ But you are only a man and not a god, though you boast that you are a god.” (Eze. 28:1-2)

So how is Yahweh going to discipline this pompous human?  Well, Yahweh punished the arrogant king of Babylon by destroying that king’s empire.  In the same way, Yahweh is going to punish the king of Tyre by destroying Tyre.

“Therefore, this is what the Sovereign Yahweh says: Because you think you are as wise as a god, I will now bring against you a foreign army, the terror of the nations. They will draw their swords against your marvelous wisdom and defile your splendor!” (Eze. 28:6-7)

At the time Ezekiel gave this message, Tyre was under attack by the Babylonians.  Centuries later, Alexander the Great finally destroyed Tyre around 332 B.C., and his attack style neatly fulfilled specific descriptions found in Ezekiel 26 in which Tyre’s destruction is also prophesied.  Meanwhile in Ezekiel 28, we find a lot of metaphorical language being used to depict how the great city of Tyre went from being super blessed by Yahweh, to being a rebellious, amoral yuck.  Because some of that metaphorical language involves references to Eden, you’re told that it’s really the glorious Lucifer being described in this passage.  You’re also told that Lucifer, aka Satan, was the serpent who tricked Adam and Eve into eating the fruit.  But no, this is utterly absurd.

It’s interesting to note that the Bible never describes Eden as a perfect, sinless, problem-free paradise.  In fact, there’s some very strong evidence to suggest that life in Eden was far from cheery (see Debunking The Fall: The Many Lies Christians Tell About Genesis 3).  So when you hear Eden being referred to as a perfect paradise today, you’re not hearing facts, you’re just hearing wishful thinking.  Without any justification for doing so, the ancient Jews just decided that Eden had to be a perfect paradise.  Once the rumor got launched, it kept being passed down from generation to generation until it was accepted as fact.  Today we Christians are continuing to promote many Jewish superstitions and myths as facts, which is very foolish on our part.

Now if Yahweh wants to describe the glory of Tyre in exaggerated terms, what better metaphor to use than Eden?  He’s talking to Jews who He knows view Eden as a perfect paradise, so why not use their silly ideas to His advantage?  This is what happens in Ezekiel 28—Tyre is compared to Eden.  Was Tyre ever perfect?  Of course not.  It’s exaggeratory language because the Jews were very exaggeratory people, and Yahweh is speaking to them within their cultural context.  After totally exaggerating how glorious, beautiful, and perfect Tyre used to be, Yahweh talks about how she became proud, corrupt, wicked, and nasty.  Then He says He’s going to destroy her.

“Your heart was filled with pride because of all your beauty. Your wisdom was corrupted by your love of splendor. So I threw you to the ground and exposed you to the curious gaze of kings. You defiled your sanctuaries with your many sins and your dishonest trade. So I brought fire out from within you, and it consumed you. I reduced you to ashes on the ground in the sight of all who were watching. All who knew you are appalled at your fate. You have come to a terrible end, and you will exist no more.” (Eze. 28:17-19)

Does Satan have sanctuaries?  No, but the city of Tyre had many worship centers in it.  Does Satan do commerce?  No, but the city of Tyre was a major hub of trade for the biblical world.  Has Satan been burned to ashes?  No, but when Alexander the Great sacked Tyre, he did burn the city down.  The language in this passage works well for a port city, but it doesn’t work at all for a demon.  Satan has nothing to do with Ezekiel 28, nor was Satan the serpent who baited Adam and Eve into rebelling against Yahweh. Read through the fruit sampling account for yourself and you’ll find no mention of Satan or Lucifer or of a devil or a demon.  It’s just a snake and two humans who get off on defying the Authority of God.  You shouldn’t be reading Satan into that account because he’s not there.  You only think he is because of silly myths the Jews invented which Christians today are still treating as facts.

REVELATION 12: THE REBELLION DRAMA

Now according to the Lucifer myth, after his rebellion failed, he and a third of the angels were booted out of Heaven.  Today you can find a lot of artwork depicting Satan plummeting down from the sky or slumped on the ground in defeat after he gets the boot.  But is this what really happened?

The reason you think Satan got a third of the angels to follow him is because of language found in Revelation 12.  There, Satan is depicted as a dragon.  Satan is also referred to as a “deceiving serpent”—which is a clear reference to that famous fruit sampling account.  So what’s going on here?  Well, Revelation is being written and narrated by Jewish John—a man who has a head full of Jewish mythology.  In John’s day, the Jewish awe of Satan was so out of control that they’d all decided that Satan was the ruler of the world.  He isn’t of course, and he never has been.  You won’t find any such guff in the Old Testament, because back then the Jews were too into worshiping false gods to spend their time obsessing over Satan.  But by the New Testament, Israel had taken on a whole new religious attitude.  She’d set her false gods aside and instead turned her idolatrous heart towards demons and angels.  Suddenly we find Satan being elevated as never before, and we find him being depicted as a super power who even Yahweh and Jesus can’t seem to control.

Now the Jews had already decided long ago that Satan was that serpent in the garden.  But snakes aren’t formidable enough to represent the great devil, so the Jews needed a better metaphor.  Dragons were once real animals that lived in the sea and terrorized sailors with their fire breathing abilities and seemingly invincible scales.  In New Testament times, superstitions abounded, and among them was a belief that the sea was evil.  So then, if you want a nice animal metaphor for Satan, what’s better than depicting him as some freaky, invincible dragon who comes slinking out of that evil soup known as the ocean?  The reason Satan is depicted as a dragon in Revelation is entirely due to God playing on the idolatrous attitudes and silly superstitions of His target audience.

Now once you start worshiping Satan, you might as well worship the good angels too.  Here’s where we start waxing on about Michael, the great archangel who we are all supposed to be oh so impressed by.  In Revelation 12, we find Michael duking it out with Satan.  Interestingly, Satan isn’t depicted as the lovely Lucifer.  Instead, he’s already a nasty, evil, ugly dragon.  So what’s that about?  Why is Satan already a dragon before he gets booted from Heaven?  Wasn’t his transformation to ugly, angry demon supposed to happen after he lost the rebellion?  Yes, according to the modern day Lucifer legend.  But remember, Lucifer wasn’t invented until centuries after Revelation was written.  Lucifer was born due to translators playing games with Latin words.  Back in Bible times, the Jews weren’t spinning wild tales about a good angel turned bad.  Instead, they always portray Satan in a nasty light. He’s a dragon from the get go.  He’s never depicted as some pretty boy.  He’s always a problem, never Mr. Perfect.

Now once you start worshiping created beings, you’re going to become more and more of a spiritual dingdong.  The more the Jews elevated Satan, the more they elevated themselves as well.  Soon we’ve got the apostle Paul portraying humans as mighty spiritual warriors who can send that bad ole devil packing if they just suit up in the armor of God.  Today folks in the Christian prayer warrior community have lost all sight of their dependency on God, and instead they’re acting like the commanders of Yahweh, Jesus and the Holy Spirit.  Today Christians arrogantly think they can get Jesus and/or the Holy Spirit to attack demons at their command.  Today Christians strut around gloating about how they’ve defeated Satan by the power of Jesus’ Name or Jesus’ blood or their own stalwart faith.  And yet in real life, humans haven’t defeated anyone, nor do demons find us intimidating in any way.  The only reason demons aren’t ripping us to shreds is because the real Gods are constantly protecting us, in spite of our utterly ungrateful attitudes.

Well, in New Testament times, giving God alone the glory was as unpopular as it is today.  The Jews were always trying to find a way to horn in and take credit for things that they had no business taking credit for.  They’d also decided that being killed for their loyalty to God made them deserving of endless glory and praise.  Just listen to the ego rub Jewish believers are receiving in Revelation 12 after dragon Satan gets hurled out of Heaven by mighty Michael:

Then I heard a loud voice shouting across the heavens, “It has come at last—salvation and power and the Kingdom of Yahweh, and the authority of His Christ. For the accuser of our brothers and sisters has been thrown down to earth— the one who accuses them before Yahweh day and night. And they have defeated him by the blood of the Lamb and by their testimony. And they did not love their lives so much that they were afraid to die. Therefore, rejoice, O heavens! And you who live in the heavens, rejoice! But terror will come on the earth and the sea, for the devil has come down to you in great anger, knowing that he has little time.” (Rev. 12:10-12)

Who is getting the glory for defeating the devil here?  Humans—not God.  How did the humans defeat Satan?  They used the blood of Jesus and their own fabulous testimonies.  And of course if your ego is as huge as John’s was, it makes perfect sense to you that all of Heaven should rejoice because you refused to denounce Christ under pressure.  You see, when we’re totally steeped in arrogance, we start thinking that we’re doing God some grand favor by honoring and obeying Him, when in reality, that’s the very least we should be doing.

Jesus once told His followers that they should be viewing themselves as God’s slaves.  When a slave serves his master well, he is merely doing his duty—he isn’t going above and beyond.  He’s doing the least that is expected of him, therefore he is not deserving of any applause or special rewards (see The Parable of the Unworthy Servant (Luke 17)).  When Jesus and Yahweh are instructing people on how to please God with their soul attitudes, arrogance and self-glorying is always condemned.  Yet in Revelation, we find humans being showered with glory, power, and praise for doing the very least they ought to do.  What happened to the concept that we’re all unworthy servants?  What happened to glorifying God alone?

To understand why Revelation is so full of human exaltation, human delusions, and wrong soul attitudes, you need to understand that it is speaking to folks who have lost interest in serving God for the sake of pleasing Him.  To the apostle John, merely being commended by God wasn’t enough—John needed to rule on a throne in Heaven, he wanted to see his name inscribed on one of Heaven’s foundation stones, and he wanted to hear all of Heaven celebrating him as some awesome icon of faithfulness to God.  Revelation really isn’t about what you think it’s about.  It’s a very chilling demonstration of how God responds to humans who have decided that they are sinless, perfect, and deserving of endless glory (see Applying Revelation: Its Warning for Modern Day Believers).

So then, is Satan really a dragon?  Of course not.  Did Satan really take a third of the angels with him?  No.  You can’t take numbers in Revelation literally.  The Jews were steeped in numerology—a ridiculous system in which humans randomly decide that certain numbers have symbolic meanings.  Because of this, numbers in Revelation—such as the famous 666—are used to convey general ideas, not spell out exact quantities.

And given the fact that the dragon who falls from Heaven in Revelation 12 then goes after a woman who symbolizes Israel, it’s even more absurd to take any of the Satan imagery literally.  How arrogant is it to depict Satan as only interested in your own country once he falls from glory?  That’s like an American today claiming that all Satan cares about is taking down America—that we Americans are his primary focus in life, his most wanted prey.  What makes us so special?  Well, we’re the most important people on the planet, of course.

In real life, the Jews we read about in Bible times did consider themselves to be the most important people on the planet, so John doesn’t balk at the idea that dragon Satan hunted down lady Israel the minute he hit the earth.  Why would Satan waste his time on lesser pursuits?  And of course when Satan can’t kill lady Israel, he gets in a huff and declares war against all Jews—especially followers of Christ.  This is just another way of saying that Jewish martyrs were more glorious than non-Jewish martyrs.  Revelation is filled with Jewish pride, which is why the Heaven depicted in Revelation is a glorified replica of Jerusalem: Israel’s capital city and the focus of her national pride.  Should you really expect Heaven to be a shrine to one ethnicity?  Of course not.  In real life, the Creators of humans love variety and They don’t have ethnic favorites.  So you see, you can’t just take the material in the Bible literally. You need to ask God for guidance, because He’s the only One who can help you glean the kernels of truth that are buried in all of that human ego and cultural bias.

CONCLUSION

So then, for all of the guff that ancient Jews invented about Satan, they didn’t promote the Lucifer personality.  We Christians came up with that one all on our own, by playing games with a subpar Latin translation of Isaiah 14:12.  And once we’d decided to run with the idea that Satan is a fallen angel who used to be Heaven’s most impressive inhabitant, we started yanking passages from all over the Bible to create more support for the reality of the glorious, perfect, beautiful Lucifer.  What is the end result of all of this lying we’ve been doing?  We’ve now got another reason to be attracted to Satan—to marvel over him, wonder about him, and imagine how pretty he used to look.  No wonder God is so disgusted with the unfaithfulness of His bride.

FURTHER READING:
Defining THE WORD OF GOD: Its Biblical & Modern Day Meanings
The Trinity Doctrine: Its Origin & Absurdity
The Resurrection Myth: Why the Dead in Christ Won’t Really Rise
Correcting Your End Time Theology: Revering the God of Satan
Imitating the Idolatry of NT Jews: All Scripture is God-Breathed
Understanding the Virgin Birth: Context & Mechanics
Satan Q&A
Impressing the Devil: Jesus’ Self-Exalting Temptation Story
Genesis 6 in Context: Demystifying the Nephilim
Four Ways to Identify False Teaching in the Church
Identifying False Teaching About Demons: Three Easy Tests

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