Category Archives: Isaiah

Tim was such a little devil

Posted by ShoZu

My mother would die if she saw this photo.
A mixture of religious superstition and evangelical mythology. I have written previously about modern misconceptions regarding Satan, such a cute little devil.

Here is a summation of some of our superstition and mythology with regard to Satan. Maybe you have more to add – or a contrary  “satanic” opinion.

“Satan is the evil equivalent to God.”
Most Christians would not agree with this statement, but would unwittingly use it in composing their picture of Satan. When I hear people talk about Satan, they ascribe god-like powers to him like omniscience and omnipresence. In constructing this picture of Satan, he is given credit for numerous bad events in the lives of people all around the world. This dualism is not a Biblical idea. God is sovereign.
Satan cannot read minds, it is very possible that he cannot communicate with Christians apart from their senses, and he cannot be at multiple locations at the same time. It is possible that he doesn’t know your name, or that you exist. Since we don’t believe that demons procreate and that there is not an infinite number of them, it is possible that there are more humans than there are demons. You don’t have a personal demon assigned to you.  As a result, most of your evil behavior really cannot be blamed on him or them, it is probably just you.

“Satan reigns over hell”

You’ve may have heard this joke, or one with a similar scenario:

The Pope, Billy Graham, and Oral Roberts were in a plane crash over the Atlantic Ocean. Tragically they all died and went to the pearly gates together. St. Peter was surprised to see them. “Oh, dear! We weren’t expecting you and your quarters aren’t ready yet. We can’t take you inand we can’t send you back!” Getting an idea, he picked up the celestial phone and called Lucifer. “I have three gentlemen who are ours, but
their places aren’t ready yet. Could you put them up for a couple of days? I’ll owe you one.”
The Devil reluctantly agreed.

Two days later, St. Peter got a call. “Pete, this is Lucifer. You have to come get these three guys that are yours. This Pope guy is forgiving everybody, the Graham fellow is saving everybody, and Oral Roberts has raised enough money to buy air conditioning!”

The idea is that God rules over heaven and all that is good, and that Satan rules over hell and all that is evil. Not a Biblical idea. Satan is consigned to the lake of fire in Revelation, along with those whose names are not written in the book of life as well as death and hades. Satan does not rule over hell. He is described as thrown into it and is tormented there. God is the ruler over all of his kingdom.

“The Serpent in Genesis is Satan”
The Old Testament is remarkably silent in its information about Satan. The earliest Jewish commentaries on Genesis 3 (the Targums, rabbinical paraphrases of Scripture which preceded the Talmud), are noteworthy for their complete lack of reference to any supernatural evil being in Genesis 3. The identification of the serpent as Satan is not even made semi-explicit until Revelation 12, where the phrase “that ancient serpent” is identified as the devil and Satan. Genesis portrays the being as simply a serpent, who apparently at that point had legs, and through the curse is consigned to crawl on its belly.
This point will cause discomfort in most of my readers, I am simply trying to point out the paucity of teaching in the Old Testament regarding Satan.
First of all, the Hebrew term meaning “satan” is simply a word that means “adversary.” When you see the word “Satan” in the OT, the translators have decided that the term “adversary” should be personified and given the title “Satan”. Try this, look up in the OT all the references to “Satan” and notice how many of them still make perfect sense if you substitute the word “adversary.”
In Numbers 22:22 the “angel of the Lord” is described as a “satan”, our translators use the term “adversary” here, but in fact the word is “satan”. This is a fascinating picture because it is more reflective of the usage of the term in Job, the “major” place in the OT where Satan is spoken of. But even in Job, “Satan” is not pictured in rebellion against God, rather, he carries out God’s bidding, and stays within God’s guiding boundaries. Hardly the typical picture of the rebellious and snarling demon.
My point? We read into the text our preconceived notions about Satan and as a result ascribe meaning that is not present in the text or the mind of the author or the original readers. This mishandling of the text fosters confusion.

“Lucifer is the name of Satan”

I have written previously about this phenomenon.
This is the most remarkable myth surrounding Satan. Lucifer is not a Biblical term for Satan. In fact, the term is a Latin term that was not introduced into the Biblical text until the first Latin translations (Jerome’s Vulgate in the 5th century AD &  the Vetus Latina which is a hodgepodge collection of Latin translations that preceded the Vulgate by about a century). The only place “lucifer” occurs is in Isaiah 14:12, but remember “lucifer” is a Latin term and the book of Isaiah was written in Hebrew. The Latin language is thought to have had its beginnings in the 5th century BC, some three centuries after the writing of the book of Isaiah. Safe to say that Isaiah never heard of the word “lucifer” and certainly didn’t write it in his prophecy.
In Isaiah 14:12 the term he uses is “helel” which means light source, the ESV translates the term “Day Star” with unfortunate capitalization. Even in the Vulgate the term “lucifer” is not capitalized. Jerome was translating the Hebrew term “helel” with the Latin equivalent “lucifer” which means source of light. It was in the Middle Ages that the passage in Isaiah came to be associated with the figure known popularly as “Satan” and not until the King James Translators chose to translate the term “lucifer” as a name by capitalizing and transposing as opposed to simply translating. It is also interesting to note the dependence of the KJV translators (at least here) on the Vulgate!
Long explanation made short: there is nowhere in the Bible a figure known as Lucifer.

My point? We make more of the devil than we should.

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Isaiah 53

Isaiah 53 really starts at Isaiah 52:13, unfortunate chapter division.

Some background if you are unfamiliar with the structure of Isaiah. The book is generally seen as having two major parts: Chapters 1-39; Chapters 40-66.

Chapters 40-66 are commonly known as the Book of Comfort. There are three divisions in this last section: Chapters 40-48; Chapters 49-57; Chapters 58-66. Each of these sections consist of 9 sections that I won’t delineate here, except to say that Isaiah 52:13-53:12 is the middle section, not only of section 2 but of the whole of the Book of Comfort. It really is a fascinating study in and of itself to examine the structure of the book of Isaiah. Chapter 40 begins with the prophecy concerning John the Baptist; chapter 66 is focused on the new heavens and earth, the middle/central part of the passage has to do with the cross. Quite a parallel to the whole of the New Testament: Gospels start with the messenger, John the Baptist, end with Revelation 21-22 and the picture of a new heavens and earth, and the cross is the central message. Crazy cool. Continue reading Isaiah 53

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