Friday, August 5, 2016

Comfort My People: The Prophecies Of Isaiah, Day 38

Comfort My People:
The Prophecies Of Isaiah
Day 38

This morning we study an unusual and sometimes controversial passage of Scripture. We look first at its background from the viewpoint of both the Hebrew and the Latin translations.

"How you have fallen from heaven, morning star, son of the dawn! You have been cast down to the earth, you who once laid low the nations!" (Isaiah 14:12) You may recognize this verse from the KJV and other versions which render it this way, "How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! How art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations!" 

The word the NIV translates as "morning star", which the KJV translates as "Lucifer", is the Hebrew heilel. Heilel means something like "shining one, light bearer". The phrase in the original language is heilel ben shakhar; ben meaning "son of" and shakhar meaning "dawn, early morning". This came to be translated as "morning star, son of the dawn," in the NIV. In other versions it is translated "Lucifer, son of the morning", because in the Latin it would be lux meaning "light,fire", and ferre which means "to bear, to bring". It's easy to see how the Latin lux ferre became Lucifer but its less obvious how the name Lucifer became synonymous with Satan. Isaiah 14:12 is the only place in the Bible where we find the name of Lucifer.

This is where scholars have differences of opinion as to the identity of the person or entity described in Isaiah 14:12. Isaiah has been proclaiming a prophecy against a literal king of a literal nation: the ancient king of Babylon who conquered and took captive the people of Judah. Some very well-respected Bible scholars throughout the ages have interpreted the morning star of verse 12 to symbolize only the king of ancient Babylon. Many other well-respected scholars interpret the morning star to mean not only the king of ancient Babylon but the king of the Babylon of the end times, attributing heilel or lux ferre to Satan himself. And this is how Satan became known by the alias of Lucifer. 

Knowing that most, if not all, Biblical prophecy tends to be twofold, having an application for the near future and the far future, I tend to agree with those who feel the person known as the morning star is both a king of history and Satan, the author of all wickedness. We have already seen that not all of Isaiah's prophecy against Babylon was fulfilled when it fell centuries before the time of Christ, so I think we are on firm ground when we take verse 12 as a twofold prophecy. 

Ancient Babylon would indeed fall, with its wicked king entering the realm of the rebellious dead who rejected the Lord, just as we read in yesterday's passage. We were told that the evil kings of all the ages would stand to greet him when he died and say, "You also have become weak, as we are; you have become like us." (v 10) Verse 11 spoke of how the maggots would feed on the king's body in the grave, that he would decay just like any other mortal man. His glory, his wealth, and the size of his kingdom would mean nothing in the tomb, for there he would be equal with all mankind. So we see there is an actual king whom Isaiah speaks of, a man who was made from the dust of the earth and who would return to the dust of the earth. 

But the spirit of pride in the wicked king is the same spirit of pride Satan has. Both these beings have this mind-set, "You said in your heart, 'I will ascend to the heavens; I will raise my throne above the stars of God; I will sit enthroned on the mount of assembly, on the utmost heights of Mount Zaphon. I will ascend to the tops of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High." (Isaiah 14:13-14) Babylon in the Bible has always been symbolic of a spirit of pride and rebellion because Babylon was the site of man's first rebellion against God, where people sought to build the Tower of Babel, and they said, "Come, let us build ourselves a city, with a tower that reaches to the heavens, so that we may make a name for ourselves." (Genesis 11:4) From the beginning there has been a rebelliousness in mankind that seeks to elevate the creature up to or even above the level of the Creator. The king of Babylon, leader of one of the greatest world powers in ancient times, thought so highly of himself that he believed he could make a name for himself more famous than the name of any god, that he could even demand to be worshiped as a god. We find an account in the book of Daniel of the king setting up an image that all the people of the land were commanded to worship, and though the Bible doesn't tell us in whose image the idol was made, the majority of scholars seem to believe it was an image of the king himself. Likewise, the "man of sin" (2 Thessalonians 2:3) of the end times, will "oppose and exalt himself over everything that is called God or worshiped, so that he sets himself up in God's temple, proclaiming himself to be God." (2 Thessalonians 2:4) 

It will take us two to three days to study this short section, to look at each individual "I will" statement in light of fulfilled prophecy and in fulfillments yet to come. But in my forty-six years on earth I've come to the conclusion that pride is at the core of every sin. Every sin comes from the spirit of mankind that says "I will". Our carnal natures say, "I know God has said this thing is a sin, but I will do it anyway. I know what God has said I ought to do, but I will live however I want." The I will spirit in the heart of Satan is what made him the devil. The I will spirit in the heart of the king of Babylon is what made him so wicked. The I will spirit in each of us is what separated us from God before we bowed humbly in His presence and admitted that we are sinners. The I will spirit is what made us lost and undone until the day we came to know Christ as our Savior, the One who set for us the most awesome example for living when He said to God the Father, "Not My will, but Yours, be done." (Luke 22:42) 

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