By Dave Brown
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amiliar spirit found in the Bible:Sorcerers or necromancers, who professed to call up the dead to answer questions, were saidto have a “familiar spirit”
(Deut. 18:11; 2 Kings 21:6;2 Chr. 33:6; Lev. 19:31; 20:6; Isa. 8:19; 29:4).
Such a person was called by the Hebrews an _’ob_, which properly means a leathern bottle;for sorcerers were regarded as vessels containing the inspiring demon. This Hebrew word wasequivalent to the pytho of the Greeks, and was used to denote both the person and the spiritwhich possessed him.
(Lev. 20:27; 1Sam. 28:8; comp. Acts 16:16)
The word “familiar” is from the Latin familiaris, meaning a “household servant,” and wasintended to express the idea that sorcerers had spirits as their servants ready to obeytheir commands.
We have great reluctance to make any statements about what modern Satanists believe because it is always changing and calculated to deceive. It appears, however, that they have seized upon the name of Lucifer as a substitute for Satan. Some might feel that this is a superior name for the same entity. Others might regard Lucifer to be an alternative fallen angel complementary to Satan. In any event, we hear the name used quite often by those who we consider to be lost in the Satanist subculture. Our goal here is not to state what others believe -- something that is probably unattainable as it is with all constantly evolving false doctrines. Our goal is to draw upon the word of God to state simply who the bible teaches that Lucifer is.
This is a simple task since the name Lucifer is: (1) only found in one passage in the bible, and (2) only found in two of the commonly accepted scholarly translations: King James (KJV) and New King James (NKJV) versions. We can state for sure that this name is not found in any of the following versions: ASV, NIV, RSV, AMP, NASB, NASU, NRSV, NLT, and TEV. This might be considered ample evidence to conclude that the name Lucifer should not even be in the bible at all. But let us not discount the potential validity of the KJV and the NKJV versions, since generally these are reliable translations from which all truth regarding salvation can be obtained. Nothing in this article should be regarded as favoring one translation over another -- it is our opinion that the promise that Jesus made in Matthew 24:35 applies to all objective scholarly translations. The truth of God's will for us can be obtained from any of them, and they are also valuable for comparative and reference purposes, as are other modern "translations," most of which are paraphrases.
In these versions (and others that may have followed suit), the name Lucifer appears in only one verse:
Isaiah 14:12: "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!" (KJV).
To complete the thought introduced above, consider the alternative given by the American Standard Versions (ASN and NASB):
Isaiah 14:12: "How art thou fallen from heaven, O day-star, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, that didst lay low the nations! (ASV).
We can go to a Hebrew interlinear to resolve which of these is the more accurate translation, since there is no controversy over the source Hebrew word that appears. From Strong's it is:
OT:1966 heylel (hay-lale'); from OT:1984 (in the sense of brightness); the morning-star:
KJV - lucifer (the king of Babylon).
(Biblesoft's New Exhaustive Strong's Numbers and Concordance with Expanded Greek-Hebrew Dictionary. Copyright © 1994, 2003 Biblesoft, Inc. and International Bible Translators, Inc.)
Again, the case could be closed right here against translating a description of a star (the bright morning star) with a name. We can see no rationale for this translation, and therefore we favor the ASV translation given above (and similar translations). But we would be negligent if we took such a negative approach and failed to state the full meaning of Isaiah 14:12 so that we can understand the context.
Prior to that let us propose a reason for the interest in this verse. As we saw in our article on Satan, the bible has little to say with regard to Satan's origin. We suspect that the presence of the name Lucifer here has provided food for speculation in this regard. If Lucifer is Satan, this would support the idea that he was cast down from heaven when he rebelled against God (2 Pet. 2:4; Jude 6; see article on Satan). There seems to be great hunger for more information than what the bible gives on this subject, and apparently some have gravitated to this verse seeking to obtain this information, which we will show is actually misinformation.
The Context of Isaiah 14:12
The verses leading up to Isaiah 14:12 are presented below. The first two verses of Isaiah 14 gave great assurance to Israel that they would be released from their Babylon captivity and that they would again inhabit their promised land. What follows is a striking condemnation of the king of Babylon.
3 And it shall come to pass in the day that Jehovah shall give thee rest from thy sorrow, and from thy trouble, and from the hard service wherein thou wast made to serve,
4 that thou shalt take up this parable against the king of Babylon, and say, How hath the oppressor ceased! the golden city ceased!
5 Jehovah hath broken the staff of the wicked, the scepter of the rulers;
6 that smote the peoples in wrath with a continual stroke, that ruled the nations in anger, with a persecution that none restrained.
7 The whole earth is at rest, (and) is quiet: they break forth into singing.
8 Yea, the fir-trees rejoice at thee, (and) the cedars of Lebanon, (saying), Since you art laid low, no hewer is come up against us.
9 Sheol from beneath is moved for thee to meet thee at thy coming; it stirs up the dead for thee, even all the chief ones of the earth; it hath raised up from their thrones all the kings of the nations.
10 All they shall answer and say unto thee, Art thou also become weak as we? art thou become like unto us?
11 Thy pomp is brought down to Sheol, (and) the noise of thy viols: the worm is spread under thee, and worms cover thee.
12 How art thou fallen from heaven, O day-star, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, that didst lay low the nations!
The key to understanding this passages (and the verses that follow) is underlined in verse 4 above. Clearly these are words of derision intended to speak directly to the king of Babylon and humble him. Part of Strong's definition above ["KJV - lucifer (the king of Babylon)"] indicated his belief that the word translated Lucifer in the KJV did not refer to Satan or any other angelic being, but instead to a human -- the king of Babylon. No doubt the king of Babylon was under Satanic influence, and he practiced things that many Satanists practice today (e.g., idolatry), but that is a long way from being Satan, or literally being a star.
Interestingly, the TEV comes right out and says it:
Isaiah 14:12: "King of Babylon, bright morning star, you have fallen from heaven! In the past you conquered nations, but now you have been thrown to the ground."
Before going on, let us state that we are very much opposed to translators who believe that normal bible students are not competent enough to come to the obvious conclusions in passages that require simple logical inference. As a result, they go beyond the revealed source text and insert their commentary. The problem is that quite often they are not as accurate as the TEV is here, and this results in false doctrines. This is the reason that we heavily recommend translations that are true to the ancient copies of the Hebrew and Greek manuscripts. Nevertheless, we quote the TEV above to add evidence that the commonly accepted interpretation of verse 12 is that the "bright morning star" refers to the King of Babylon and not to any Satanic creature. Thus the appearance of the name Lucifer can be summarily dismissed as a bible word or a bible name. We conclude that the KJV and the NKV translators should have just made a literal translation of the words that refer to the bright star that appears in the morning (son of the morning).
What is the Literal Meaning?
In Isaiah 14:4 we learn that what follows in the passage is a parable. We cannot understand a parable very well if we do not first understand its literal meaning. So, what is the bright morning start? Every evidence points to, not a star but something that appears much like a star: the planet Venus. The word "star" is being used accommodatively here because observers of it at that time would view it as being a star.
Get up early on a clear morning, well before the sun comes up, and look to the east. Perhaps you will see it first appear behind trees that somewhat obscure it (use binoculars). It will be much brighter than the stars that are in the background near the horizon. Soon you will see that it is no longer behind the trees! You will not be able to see it move, but after ten or 15 minutes you will be able to detect its movement from behind the tree to up with the stars. And it will be well up in the sky by the time the sun comes up.
Being so much different from the other morning lights in the heavens, you can imagine the figurative language to which the ancient poets applied this physical reality. Consider, for example, 2 Peter 1:19 "And we have the word of prophecy (made) more sure; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day-star arise in your hearts: ..."
So the literal meaning is that this star (planet) rises in the morning (admittedly a figure -- it is the earth that is turning under it), but in the parable of Isaiah 14 its flight it disrupted by God, and it falls from the sky. While this never actually happened, this is the literal meaning of the figurative language being applied.
The Figurative Meaning
Stars in ancient times were used figuratively to represent the success of political figures -- in this case the king of Babylon. At least it was figurative in biblical usage (Numbers 24:17). Idolaters thought it to be real. They believed that there was a mapping of the star activities to that which was happening on the earth. In some cases God used this to communicate with those who watched the stars (Matthew 2:2). This was bound up on their many superstitious traditions as to just what the stars were and what they represented. If a ruler's star were to fall from the sky that was a clear indication that his fate was sealed and he would probably meet with death shortly, if not with a humiliation worse than death. This was the belief of the idolaters. Figuratively, this concept us used in figurative language (e.g., throughout Revelation).
It is from this ancient superstition that we speak of people as being stars today -- movie stars, sports stars, rock stars, etc. We call them stars because the ancients thought that it was their star in heaven that was giving them their success (or at least highly correlated with it). The similarity of our common language in this regard and the idolatrous belief would seem itself to be somewhat idolatrous. And so the recent American TV show called American Idol (and other comparable shows in other countries) are really not far from the truth if, in fact, they have not nailed it spot on.
Clearly to state that a given king's star was about to fall was a very definitive condemnation of this king, and the implied prophecy that his days (at least as a king) were numbered. While we say this is the figurative meaning, recognize that the figure is in the speech only. His demise was not figurative -- he was about to meet a fate that would be quite catastrophic to him. Figurative language is to reveal more effectively, not so conceal.
Further Applications of the Morning Star Figure
Implications are made not only from Isaiah 14;12 but from other passages that refer to the bright morning star. For example, some now say that Jesus Christ was (or is) Lucifer. These false doctrines will be totally avoided by Christians who have the proper respect for the silence of the scriptures; i.e., they will not go beyond the plain teaching of the scriptures, and as it applies to this reference to the bright morning star, they will apply it to no more than to the fall of the king of Babylon in the Isaiah 14 context.
But this is not the end use of this metaphoric figure of speech. For example consider ...
Revelation 22:16: "I Jesus have sent mine angel to testify unto you these things for the churches. I am the root and the offspring of David, the bright, the morning star."
The figure of the bright morning star representing Jesus should be one that every Christian should meditate upon. The rising of Venus is a precursor to total sunlight, perhaps referring to the ultimate judgment in which all will be made perfectly right and totally transparent.
26 And he that overcomes, and he that keeps my works unto the end, to him will I give authority over the nations:
27 and he shall rule them with a rod of iron, as the vessels of the potter are broken to shivers; as I also have received of my Father:
28 and I will give him the morning star.
From Rev. 22:16, Jesus is (figuratively) the morning star, so effectively the promise is that those who overcome (i.e., those who are saved) will have Jesus Himself in our lives helping us to continue to overcome. We need have no fear whatsoever of the Babylons of today's world.
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