September 20, 2013

Rogues Gallery: The Most Infamous Villains In the Bible

Herod  -  Cain  -  Pontius Pilate  -  Judas Iscariot
A story is never as interesting as it is when there is a villain or antagonist who needs to be defeated or brought to justice. Since God is perfectly just all will be brought to judgment at some point in the future. That being said, there are some villains that were so heinous in the Bible that they warrant mentioning in a little more detail because of their malevolent behavior(s). All were evil towards other people but what made them particularly heinous is their open and outward rebellion towards God, His statutes and His principles. I will mention at least six of them. As for Satan...he gets enough attention in my other posts. There is no sense giving the Devil more air time that he doesn't deserve. Lucifer's inclusion in this post would just be redundancy and rhetorical. We can see his satanic and demonic nature in the others I will mention in this post.

Genesis 4:8 ~ “Cain spoke to Abel his brother. And when they were in the field, Cain rose up against his brother Abel and killed him.

This is the first murder and the first fratricide. We see envy, ambition and selfishness that explode into violence and death. We see that anything that is not of God or life…is of death. Both brothers gave offering but only Abel’s was accepted. We see a flare-up of envy or jealousy. Cain should’ve rejoiced in his brother’s success. Instead, he murdered him. Instead of being selfless he became selfish. We see the closest mimicking of this heinous act right within the church at times when we envy others in the church. We envy or are jealous of other people’s talents or gifts. We speak poorly or speak ill of them. In doing these things we murder their character and good reputations.

To a lesser offense but still a nasty sin we see Laban and his dishonesty and thievery through deceptive trade or commerce agreements. In other words: Bad Business Dealings. What is worse is he treats family like an enemy and attempts to defraud them like one also.

Genesis 29:21-25 ~ Then Jacob said to Laban, “Give me my wife that I may go in to her, for my time is completed.” So Laban gathered together all the people of the place and made a feast. But in the evening he took his daughter Leah and brought her to Jacob, and he went in to her. (Laban gave his female servant Zilpah to his daughter Leah to be her servant.) And in the morning, behold, it was Leah! And Jacob said to Laban, “What is this you have done to me? Did I not serve with you for Rachel? Why then have you deceived me?” 

This was not an accident on Laban’s behalf, it was deliberate. This deceptiveness wasn’t sudden but purposefully planned by Laban. Therefore this deceitful character was very much a part of what Laban was…a deceiver…like Satan. This shows a covetous and scheming man that was sinful at heart. We also see that Laban is brazen in his deception and risks a violent retaliation from Jacob for being “raked over the coals." He was foolishly bold for breaking a covenant or deal with a family member.  Finally, like Cain we see selfishness. Self-serving motives are nearly always at the heart of rebellion against God in the form of sin. He is greedy and selfish because labor does not come cheap and Laban essentially barters away the life of his daughters like slaves to get Jacob to work for him. The truth is that Jacob in a form of poetic justice is served his own retribution for what he did to his brother Esau in this episode.

1 Kings 16:30 ~ And Ahab the son of Omri did evil in the sight of the Lord, more than all who were before him.

Other than Herod, Ahab might be the most dastardly and horrid villain in the Bible because of his overt rebellion against God. The only thing worse than a man who does things against God on purpose is a man who does them unwittingly…because he doesn’t even know that he is doing wrong often times. The truth is... regardless of whether he realized his sin or not…he is still accountable for it. Sins of omission are still sin. Ahab didn’t rebel against God because he was bold but rather because his sin had so completely made him stupid he was incapable of seeing or comprehending just how evil and sinful he was being (Romans 1). No, Ahab wasn’t bold, just dumb and weak-willed. He was cowardly in that he essentially submitted and cowered to the badgering of Jezebel and at the end of his life dressed as something other than a king do avoid being killed. He pretend to be something he was not (a true king at heart) but in the end was exposed for what he was through his own actions…a snake, a coward and an unrighteous man that did nearly everything in defiance of God and righteous men. Not only did he do evil things in the sight of the Lord he did them worse than all that were before him.

When I say Ahab was weak I mean weak in the way that America Christians and many denominations have become weak. He would often allow that which is wrong to have a quiet uneventful life than not allow what was wrong and cause strife and unrest. It is what we see in churches when the ubiquitous “don’t cause division” or “you’re being too harsh or divisive” when people insist on doing the right thing to align with Scripture. In this way we neglect what we should do and evil trumps righteousness. It is the proverbial, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is that good people do nothing.” We see it in Ahab’s reign and we see it today in a failing morally bankrupt American republic. A morally bankrupt and degenerate leadership aids and abets a morally bankrupt and degenerate society. All of these factors inevitably lead to Israel’s ruin and will lead to all nations ruin that follow the same path…just as we are doing today in the United States and abroad.

Esther 3:1-6 ~ “After these things King Ahasuerus promoted Haman the Agagite, the son of Hammedatha, and advanced him and set his throne above all the officials who were with him. And all the king's servants who were at the king's gate bowed down and paid homage to Haman, for the king had so commanded concerning him. But Mordecai did not bow down or pay homage. Then the king's servants who were at the king's gate said to Mordecai, “Why do you transgress the king's command?”And when they spoke to him day after day and he would not listen to them, they told Haman, in order to see whether Mordecai's words would stand, for he had told them that he was a Jew. And when Haman saw that Mordecai did not bow down or pay homage to him, Haman was filled with fury. But he disdained to lay hands on Mordecai alone. So, as they had made known to him the people of Mordecai, Haman sought to destroy all the Jews, the people of Mordecai, throughout the whole kingdom of Ahasuerus.

Since Haman perpetrates his evil all throughout Esther I will quote a single passage of Scripture pertaining to it. Haman simply and monstrously plotted to have the entire Hebrew nation legally killed. There are many parallels to make but abortion is one and eugenics and pregnancy “screenings” could be another. Had Saul done what he was commanded to do by God and wiped out the Amalekites, Haman would never have existed. Because Saul did not carry out God’s will, the Amalekites survived and got a second chance to knock off the Israelites. Haman was a descendant of Agag who had the unfortunate experience of meeting up with Samuel’s dissecting knife.

We enter the New Testament and the company of rogues gets even worse. We find the Herods and their killing of the children (Massacre of the Innocents) two years and under and beheading of John the Baptist. First we see Herod the Great’s atrocity.

Matthew 2:16-18 ~ “ Then Herod, when he saw that he had been tricked by the wise men, became furious, and he sent and killed all the male children in Bethlehem and in all that region who were two years old or under, according to the time that he had ascertained from the wise men. Then was fulfilled what was spoken by the prophet Jeremiah: “A voice was heard in Ramah, weeping and loud lamentation, Rachel weeping for her children; she refused to be comforted, because they are no more.”

We then see Herod Antipas murderous leanings.

Matthew 14:6-11 ~ “But when Herod's birthday came, the daughter of Herodias danced before the company and pleased Herod, so that he promised with an oath to give her whatever she might ask. Prompted by her mother, she said, “Give me the head of John the Baptist here on a platter.” And the king was sorry, but because of his oaths and his guests he commanded it to be given. He sent and had John beheaded in the prison, and his head was brought on a platter and given to the girl, and she brought it to her mother.

In the case of both Herod the Great and Herod Antipas we see a callousness that bespeaks of ultimate evil and inhumanity by wanton cold-hearted murdering of innocent people. In the case of Herod the Great we see the slaying of defenseless children. Can it get any worse than that? Yes, I believe it can.

The worse has been saved for last. We now enter the world of Judas Iscariot and Pontius Pilate. Judas whose very name is an acronym for betrayal. In Matthew 26 we see the betrayal of Jesus, Son of God for 30 pieces of silver and what amounts to selfish ambition. In Matthew 27 we see Jesus turned over to crucifixion due to another case of moral cowardice. Between the two of these horribly sinful men we see the two primary impetuses of the most horrid mis-trail of justice in history that ends in the murder of Jesus.

Matthew 26:14-15 ~ “Then one of the twelve, whose name was Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests and said, “What will you give me if I deliver him over to you?” And they paid him thirty pieces of silver”

The perfect, righteous and innocent Son of God is turned over to the evil men of the world for a piddling financial allotment. In the end it would barely be enough to buy a field that would be purchased with the blood money Judas would return before his suicide.

Matthew 27:24-26 ~ "So when Pilate saw that he was gaining nothing, but rather that a riot was beginning, he took water and washed his hands before the crowd, saying, “I am innocent of this man's blood; see to it yourselves.” And all the people answered, “His blood be on us and on our children!” Then he released for them Barabbas, and having scourged Jesus, delivered him to be crucified."

Pilate would then take over the fate of Christ after Herod. Like Ahab, Pilate ruled in moral weakness. He was walking a tightrope between the Sanhedrin and Tiberius in Rome and didn’t want to anger the Jews for fear of them squawking to Rome and having him removed as the fifth Prefect/Governor of the Roman province of Judea  In an act of spinelessness (knowing Jesus’ innocence) he let the people decide Christ’s fate. It is determined that Christ will be crucified. In so doing, Pilate through moral cowardice allows the most unspeakable of injustices to be perpetrated against the most innocent man who ever lived…the Son of God. In Pilate we see the true evil which can be unleashed when men do not step forward with the truth and act on it. We see how evil can steamroll where no truth is brought forward to ward off the evil. Had Pilate acted on the truth, he would’ve prevented the murder of an innocent man. Because he didn’t, evil was allowed to move forward. By not stopping evil, he (we) become part of that evil we fail to prevent.

In the end, even the villainy of these insanely depraved men was used to God’s glory. In the case of Judas and Pilate it allowed for a horrendous crime which thankfully became the greatest gift ever given: Eternal Life. 

Of course, the end should never justify the means in situations like the ones mentioned. God will of course always want to work through the righteous deeds of righteous men but we are all fallen in our nature. Regardless, even in our failings in sin, God can still work through our stupidity to accomplish His will and for this I am grateful. I am grateful because sinfulness and stupidity is just about all I have to offer God. Thankfully, in return for my sin, stupidity and repentance He can offer me so much more in mercy and grace. He can offer salvation…and I have accepted it. So should you if you haven't already. Its a choice...which leads to my last statement. These men committed their evils by choice. They may have had satanic or demonic influence but what they did, they did of their own volition. All will be held accountable for their actions by God, even these rogues. All will be judged for their acts...just like these rogues.

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