Today’s reading contains two of the most misused texts in the whole of scripture.  Isa. 14:12-15 is the first…

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!
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 above the tops of the clouds;
I will make myself like the Most High.”
But you are brought down to the realm of the dead,
to the depths of the pit.

This verse, proclaimed just 8 verses before as a “taunt against the king of Babylon”, has been used as a prophecy against Satan.  Most people “know” that Satan was an angel of heaven who was high up in the heavenly ranks.  But, oddly like Icharus, his ambition got the best of him and he sought to be like God and got himself and his followers thrown out of heaven for it.  They fell to earth, ultimately becoming Satan and his devils and taking up residence in hell.

The only problem with this history is that it doesn’t appear in scripture.  It is assumed from a few different references in both old and new testaments, but primarily from this one.  Note the similarity in wording between the well known “history” and this taunt.  The other commonly referenced passages are Ezekiel chapter 28, which is stated to be about the King of Tyre, and Jesus’ statement in Luke 10, which is one short line in one of Jesus’ prophecies.  This is not to say that I don’t believe in Satan; I do wholeheartedly.  This is not to say I disbelieve this history.  It is simply to say that we need to recognize it as Tradition rather than Scripture, and give it appropriate weight.  This is not a spiritual discussion; it is a textual one.

The other scripture that is so misused only begins in today’s reading: Ephesians chapter 5.  The whole “wives submit to your husbands” has been used as a misogynist whooping stick for generations, but it was never meant that way.  Tomorrow I will outline this section of Ephesians and show you just what I mean.  Stay tuned!

I have based most of my ministry on Paul’s verse from Eph. 4.  God has gifted people to lead in the church and in the Kingdom.  But we have decided that this means certain individuals are gifted to do the work of the Kingdom and the church, people like pastors, evangelists, theologians.  Paul says that this is not right.  Instead, God has gifted leaders to equip the church for the works of service that God desires.  It is the job of pastors, evangelists, and teachers not to do the work of God but to equip the church to do these tasks.

Rather than thinking like Americans who believe that we pay people to do work for us, we need to begin thinking like a community of Christians.  We do not pay pastors, teachers, and evangelists to do our work for us.  Rather, we pay their expenses so that they can devote their time to equipping the saints, the army of the Lord, the church.  Fro Paul, this meant staying with other Christians, being fed by his followers, and when the church couldn’t or wouldn’t, he worked as a tentmaker to earn enough to cover his expenses.

Today, many pastors, teachers, and evangelists are bi-vocational, holding other jobs to pay the bills so they can work equipping the church with the rest of their time.  But this means less time to serve.  So the ideal for the church and the kingdom is to give pastors enough to allow them to give their full time equipping the church.  But we must remember that this is not payment to do the work for us.