For you have said in your heart, “I will go up to the heavens. I will raise my throne above the stars of God, and I will sit in the mount of meeting, in the side of the north. I will rise over the heights of the clouds; I will be compared to the Most High.” Isaiah 14:13-14
Compared – Isaiah speaks about the attitudes of Babylon. Isaiah’s condemnation reveals the hubris of Babylon and Babylon’s attempt to usurp the place of God in the affairs of men. Don’t read this too quickly. There is something here that is very familiar, perhaps far too familiar. But we need to take a step backward in order to see the application of Isaiah’s proclamation.
We need to notice that Isaiah condemns the political idolatry of Babylon. What is political idolatry? It is the assumption of roles and rituals by the State that rightly belong only to God. In the Hebrew worldview, only God is King. He may grant others the permission to act as His representatives (earthly kings), but He is Lord of all creation. Any attempt by any person or power to displace His ultimate authority over all the affairs of men is a despicable sin because it is war against God’s reign and rule. Babylon epitomizes this arrogant attempted coup d’etat by claiming that it is entitled to the highest throne. What does that mean for Babylon’s citizenry?
When the State commits idolatry, it generally assumes roles that stretch beyond the political bounds. In other words, the State begins to think and act like it is God. It begins telling its citizens how they should conduct their ordinary affairs. It starts regulating all economic transactions. It takes control of education. It provides alternative “religious” practices designed to glorify the State. It demands deification of the nation and the leaders of the nation. It grasps for more and more power. It seeks control wherever possible. It determines what is justice. It decides what is good. Each of these behaviors are direct confrontations with the authority of God, for He alone is the Lawgiver over life. Whenever the State ceases to act as the Lord’s servant, whenever the State rejects or ignores the strict limitations placed upon it by biblical authority, it acts idolatrously. Babylon is but one historical example of a constant threat to the sovereignty of YHWH by men who believe themselves worthy of worship. A State that assumes the role of regulator, economic engine, educator, judge, jury, provider, protector and possessor is a political entity at war with God.
In this kind of war, there are no non-combatants. As citizens of the State, we become endorsers of its unholy program whenever we adopt its offer to replace the roles rightfully belonging to God. The State is not my mother, father and brother. It is not my provider, promoter or priest. It must never become my hope, my only help or my highest good. If I allow any of these roles to become functions of the State, I mount the tower of Babel with the rest of the insurgents.
The Hebrew verb damah means “to make oneself like, to resemble.” The pictograph, “behold, the door of chaos,” is an apt image. It is possible to make an image of God without producing a single artifact. All that is needed is to usurp His role. All that is necessary is to attempt to replace Him.
Topical Index: idolatry, Isaiah 14:13-14, State, politics, damah
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