Posts Tagged ‘bible’


The Bible is neither silent nor lacking in descriptions of leaders who were Under the Influence of Satan or some of his evil emissaries. I am deliberately using the term “emissaries” because it means
someone who does a job for a government or a leader
someone who delivers a message for them
someone sent on a mission to represent the interests of someone else
and because I do not want my real message sidetracked by dithering over distinctions between demons, fallen angels, evil spirits, principalities, and the like.


The first leader obviously identified as under the influence was Nimrod. Genesis 10:9 describes him as ‘Nimrod, a mighty hunter before the Lord,’ and it is not talking about bagging an ibex. This hunter is more like a street commando.  Chuck Smith’s commentary says:

It should be translated “he was a mighty tyrant in the face of the LORD.” The hunting was the hunting of men’s soul. Nimrod became a leader in apostasy, developer of a great religious system later to become known as the Babylonian religious system or the “mystery Babylon.” That whole religious system was begun by Nimrod.

Archeology, historical writings, and even mythology offer additional insight into the character of Nimrod, the great-grandson of Noah. Much like the serpent in the Garden of Eden, Nimrod caused men to doubt that God had their true happiness at heart, and suggested that following God was actually an act of weakness. Josephus reports that Nimrod gradually changed the government into tyranny in order to turn men from the fear of God and make them dependent upon his power. The translation continues, “Now the multitude were very ready to follow the determination of Nimrod, and to esteem it a piece of cowardice to submit to God; and they built a tower …” This was, of course, what came to be known as the Tower of Babel because God sent judgment  in the form of a confusion of language.

Another leader under the influence was King Saul. After Saul rejected the word of the LORD and listened to the people instead, the LORD has rejected Saul from being king over Israel.  At that point, instead of handing in his resignation, Saul tries to remain king without God’s support. An evil spirit comes and begins terrorizing him, and the only thing that brings relief is David’s harp music.  Eventually Saul become so jealous of David that he tries repeatedly to murder him.

Another occurrence of biblical examples of a king under the influence is the Book of Daniel’s record of Nebuchadnezzar’s seven seasons of insanity. Nebuchadnezzar had a prophetic dream a year before it came to pass.

Two more examples that are certainly worth mentioning occur in passages from Ezekiel 28:12-17 and Isaiah 14:12-15.  These begin with comments about the kings of Tyre and Babylon, but continue on to address the controlling spirit behind them, even possession by Satan.

The case could be made for many other rulers being intermittently controlled or fully possessed— the Pharaoh ‘who knew not Joseph,’ Queen Jezebel, the Herods of the New Testament era, and more. Satan even tried to influence Jesus as he tempted him three times at the end of his wilderness fast. The point is that this was commonplace in the past, the devil purposely tries to influence those with power, and we should expect it to be happening today.

Evil emissaries do visit humans.  There is an evil intelligent design in the way they visit leaders and put thought in their minds.

My next planned post is about some counselors and advisers who were also visited by an evil spirit.



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18 being darkened in their understanding,
excluded from the life of God
because of the ignorance that is in them,
because of the hardness of their heart;
19 and they, having become callous, have given themselves over to sensuality
for the practice of every kind of impurity with greediness.

Ephesians 4:18, 19


The eighteenth verse lays out the progression that was hinted at in yesterday’s verse:

hard hearts → blinded minds

This is the reason that there are no small lies; merely variations in the recipe for singeing the conscience and cooking the soul. Every lie darkens the heart a little bit more. Every time a lie is told, truth is lost. Those who twist the truth are stewing their own souls.

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Harden not your hearts, as in the provocation, in the day of temptation in the wilderness: When your fathers tempted me, proved me, and saw my works forty years. Wherefore I was grieved with that generation, and said, They do always err in their heart; and they have not known my ways. … Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God … While it is said, To day if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts, as in the provocation.
Hebrews 3:8-10, 12, 15

Last week’s blogs dealt mainly with Old Testament scripture about hard hearts. Several examples were given of God’s use of hard hearts to bring knowledge to the people, honor to Himself, and to eventually remove the wicked. The examples also pointed out a fourth item associated with hard hearts: signs and wonders. Signs and wonders are miraculous, but they are not necessarily good or desirable miracles, such as the ten plagues sent against Egypt.

This week’s blogs look at the New Testament teaching on hard hearts, beginning with the verses from Hebrews that refer to an Old Testament incident. The third chapter of Hebrews is reminding the letter reader of the waters of Meribah. There, under the state of hard hearts, God performed a sin and wonder to prove Himself worthy of honor. But by this time, He had expected the people to have enough knowledge to trust Him.

During the exodus from Egypt, the congregation had journeyed in stages through the wilderness. When they camped at Rephidim, there was no water for the people to drink. Quarrels ensued. The NSV tells the story this way:

2The people quarreled with Moses, and said, ‘Give us water to drink.’ Moses said to them, ‘Why do you quarrel with me? Why do you test the LORD?’ 3But the people thirsted there for water; and the people complained against Moses and said, ‘Why did you bring us out of Egypt, to kill us and our children and livestock with thirst?’ 4So Moses cried out to the LORD, ‘What shall I do with this people? They are almost ready to stone me.’ 5The LORD said to Moses, ‘Go on ahead of the people, and take some of the elders of Israel with you; take in your hand the staff with which you struck the Nile, and go. 6I will be standing there in front of you on the rock at Horeb. Strike the rock, and water will come out of it, so that the people may drink.’ Moses did so, in the sight of the elders of Israel.
Exodus 17:2-6

Moses renamed the place Meribah, meaning “quarrelling.”

Paul presents that example to the Hebrews of his day because people are stubborn and unwilling to trust God. They do not depend on Him to work things out, but take it upon themselves to “help things along” with lies and intentional withholding of exculpatory information. Their hard hearts are perverting justice and in the end, they will succeed in bringing the wrath of God upon themselves.

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All this week: Reasons and Results for Hardening the Heart

God gave man a free will. The chief purpose for this was that it makes possible a much higher quality of love. Being able to choose loving acts instead of doing them out of duty and obligation is a higher quality of love.

The LORD said to Moses, “When you go back to Egypt see that you perform before Pharaoh all the wonders which I have put in your power; but I will harden his heart so that he will not let the people go.
Exodus 4:21

In this verse, God is sending Moses back to face Pharaoh and gives him a heads-up that Pharaoh won’t listen to him. This is a kindly warning so that Pharaoh’s obstinacy won’t surprise or discourage Moses.

Note how the principle of “according to your deeds” is already at work.

Pharaoh had previously hardened his own heart against human suffering when he oppressed the Israelites. His rule caused their suffering, and he showed neither remorse nor compassion. Now God in turn hardens Pharaoh’s heart against any conviction by the miracles, and any judgment by the plagues. Eventually Pharaoh will be removed because his hard heart drives him to his own destruction.

During the rest of this week, this blog will focus on five reasons and results for the hardening of hearts.
1. Signs and Wonders by God
2. Honor of God
3. Knowledge of God
4. Judgment by God
5. Removal by God

Another important point in this verse that is easy to miss—
I will harden… so that he will not let

I will so that he will. Frame it properly because God punishes Pharaoh for his cruelty to the Israelites by removing some of Pharaoh’s free will. Then He holds him accountable for his next choices. Operating with a progressively diminishing capacity, Pharaoh still had a will and still had the choice to let, or not to let, the people go.

This gradual process included the infamous ten plagues. At each step, Pharaoh was taken in more and more by the lying “miracles” of his own magicians. Each twist of the truth took him a little farther from redemption and a little closer to doom.

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Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire.
Revelation 20:14

Many people, even those who attend church regularly, do not know much about hell. Telling a Liar that they are going to hell won’t mean much to them if they don’t know what hell is and if they have many doubts as to whether it exists.

I am not going to try to make a case for the existence part except to say that Jesus preached its existence. You are on your own for believing or rejecting what He said. But I will attempt to lay out the difference between the lake of fire and the pit of hell, and I will also comment on some other terms that many find confusing.

Lake of Fire
The lake of fire is the future “realm of the dead.” No one is there at the moment because it will be filled by those humans who have reached the second death. It will also house some non-human evil entities. It is a place of weeping and gnashing of teeth. In Matthew, Jesus refers to its being in outer darkness. Scripture teaches that the lake of fire is the ultimate destination of the twice-dead, that is, those who (1) died physically and then (2) on Judgment Day will not find their name written in the Book of Life. Because it is described as a lake in outer darkness, I chose a Hubble photo of the accretion disk around a black hole to illustrate it in yesterday’s blog. I will not say definitively that it is the lake of fire mentioned in the Bible, but I will say that it is the ‘best fit’ for an actual literal place, based on what is known so far.

Hell has come to be used as a rather generic term for all the places that evil is found. In its narrow sense, it would be Hades in Greek and Sheol in Hebrew. Both are described below.

Sheol and Hades
This is the Realm of the Dead. Unfortunately many churches don’t like to talk about it and so the congregants get much of their perception of it from movies and fiction instead of from the Bible. There are at least 40 scriptures, possibly more, that reference it as being literally in the center of the earth. Even so, many people ‘spiritualize’ it as being in another dimension. I don’t want to encourage anyone to base their theology on rumors of ghost sightings, but for me, this idea helps explain it: Ghosts haunt physical spaces, so why not have it be “normal” for “departed spirits” to physically occupy the center of the earth?

Up until the ascension of Christ, Sheol/Hades (Hebrew/Greek) had two main compartments that were separated by a chasm that could not be crossed. One side was known as Paradise or Abraham’s Bosom, and the other was hot, dry, and fiery. It is described by Jesus in Luke 16. After the ascension, the souls in the paradise section moved with Jesus to heaven. The rest of Sheol/Hades stayed put.

It is currently a place of the unrighteous dead. Dante’s Inferno describes hell as having layered compartments; this does have a touch of biblical basis, although he used artistic license in his writing. There are over a dozen scriptures spanning both the Old and New Testaments, that use comparative terms like “lowest pit” or “greater damnation” as well as many instances of “according to his deeds” that support the concept of degrees of punishment or torment for the wicked.

The Abyss
The abyss is a place “without bottom” where (some) demons are confined. All the references in the Book of Revelation apply it to a prison for demonic spirits, not human spirits. It may be worth noting that at the very center of the earth, there is no bottom; relatively speaking, all points would be up.

Gehenna is a literal place, the Valley of Ben Hinnom, just southeast of Jerusalem. It has steep, vertical cliff sides of rock. During the time of Jesus, it was used as a garbage dump for the city. It was filled with rotting debris, animal carcasses and the bodies of executed criminals who could not be buried. It was filled with all the stench, maggots, flies, vultures, and feral animals that such rot would attract. The heat of decomposition combined with the generation of methane gas would keep fires burning there. Jesus used the valley as a visual teaching aid to describe hell, and in the Greek, Gehenna came to be a term synonymous with a place of final punishment. It was over the sides of the cliff to this gorge that Judas hung himself, and then his dead body fell and broke open in a final indignity.

Unrepentant liars will be judged to belong in such a place.

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An ungodly witness scorneth judgment: and the mouth of the wicked devoureth iniquity.
Proverbs 19:28

That is the King James translation. Alas, with verbs like scorneth and devoueth, the people this verse is talking about will probably think it refers to somebody else. Here are some contemporary translations and paraphrases:

An unprincipled witness desecrates justice; the mouths of the wicked spew malice.
~ Message

A corrupt witness mocks at justice, and the mouth of the wicked gulps down evil.
~ New International Version

A corrupt witness makes a mockery of justice; the mouth of the wicked gulps down evil.
New Living Translation

A rascally witness makes a mockery of justice, And the mouth of the wicked spreads iniquity.
~ New American Standard

A rascally witness perverts justice and the talk of the wicked fosters mischief.
~ New English Bible

There are two words used in these last passages that have acquired a childish “cutesy” connotation of ‘rascals’ getting into ‘mischief’. These words are not describing two-year-olds who have climbed up on the countertops to get into peanut butter jars the way that Pooh gets into a hunny pot. The translators used the words the way they are defined in Noah Webster’s dictionary:

Rascally: adjective
1. Meanly trickish or dishonest; vile.
2. Mean; vile; base; worthless.

Mischief: noun
1. Harm; hurt; injury; damage; evil, whether intended or not. A new law is made to remedy the mischief.
2. Intentional injury; harm or damage done by design.
    Thy tongue deviseth mischief. Ps.52.
3. Ill consequence; evil; vexatious affair.

So, there you have it, people who give dishonest and fraudulent testimony are evil. Plain and simple. They have contempt for God’s judgment, and therefore disrespect God.

Matthew Henry’s Commentary sums it up this way:

28 An ungodly witness scorneth judgment: and the mouth of the wicked devoureth iniquity.

Here is a description of the worst of sinners, whose hearts are fully set in them to do evil. 1. They set that at defiance which would deter and detain them from sin: An ungodly witness is one that bears false witness against his neighbour, and will forswear himself to do another a mischief, in which there is not only great injustice, but great impiety; this is one of the worst of men. Or an ungodly witness is one that profanely and atheistically witnesses against religion and godliness, whose instructions seduce from the words of knowledge (Proverbs 18:27); such a one scorns judgment, laughs at the terrors of the Lord, mocks at that fear, Job 15:26. Tell him of law and equity, that the scriptures and an oath are sacred things, and not to be jested with, that there will come a reckoning day; he laughs at it all, and scorns to heed it.

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4Indeed, you do away with reverence And hinder meditation before God. 5For your guilt teaches your mouth, And you choose the language of the crafty.
Job 15:4, 5

The speaker for these verses was Eliphaz, one of Job’s friends. Eliphaz was an okay guy but he had one flaw in his theology, which was that God was causing Job’s problems. Even though he messes up on the who is to blame and therefore mess up on his explanation of why, Eliphaz does have an understanding of how things work when he starts with the correct data.

If God had caused Job’s troubles, then Eliphaz’s deduction that Job would have been guilty might have been correct because God would not have punished Job unjustly. But what was happening was not a punishment; it was Satan being Satan.  Job maintained his innocence, was correct in maintaining his innocence, and others got mad at him for it!

Within his speech, we do see that when Eliphaz begins with the correct premise, he does reason to the correct conclusion—
When guilt teaches the mouth and the language of the crafty is chosen, then reverence is done away with and meditation is hindered before God.

But based on his false assumption of Job’s guilt, Eliphaz proceeds to rip into Job and compound the false allegations. Eliphaz claims that all the smart elders “knew” that all the losses that Job was suffering were “proof” of Job’s guilt.

But it was all circumstantial evidence based on a crafty half-truth. There was another explanation for what happened to Job, the correct one, but the local councilmen were unwilling to accept that they might be wrong and they were doggedly entrenched in their presumption of Job’s guilt.

On the  recent post about the History of Deceit, it was shown how Satan craftily changed the woman’s premise about the fruit before he told his bald-faced lie. Acting on false presumption makes errors grow. Eliphaz began with a false presumption and ended up adding to his own guilt by making many false accusations about Job.

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