human-centered control and management of society -- is an attempt to
supplant God's Government. It is a falling into Satan's temptation to
"be as gods" (Genesis 3:5).
Angels, Power, and Service
There are two kinds of angels, Godly and unGodly. The Godly ones want
to serve (Hebrews 1:14; Ps. 34:7; 91:11,12). The thesis being set forth
in this paper is that the fallen angels, instead of serving, seek to
rule, and one way they do this by deceiving men and setting up empires,
or states. (And just to head off the argument, we are not denying that
"good" angels might also bring evil.)
- God threatens disobedience with the curse of
"serving" our enemies. "Therefore
shalt thou serve thine enemies which the LORD shall send
against thee, in hunger, and in thirst, and in nakedness,
and in want of all things: and He shall put a yoke of iron
upon thy neck, until He have destroyed thee." (Deut.
28:48) This "service" is imposed on the
rebellious. The service God desires is spiritual and comes
from the heart.
Any Biblical theory of the State must begin with the basic Scriptural
distinction between ruling and serving. God does not want us to rule
others (dominate, force to serve us), He wants us to serve them.
Especially important here is Mark
10:42-45. A true Christian will try to help the person in need gain
the ability to solve his problems by himself, becoming an elder, wiser,
and more mature Christian. Serving others, sacrificing
self-interests (seemingly) in the interests of restoring the image of
God in others, is true power; bringing about Godly obedience in others
is true leadership. In the parallel passage (Luke 22:24-30) Jesus, after
telling His disciples not to emulate the gentile politicians, goes on to
tell them that they will be given true
thrones and true judgment through obedient service.
The opposite of Spiritual kingship is political kingship. People resort
to politics when
they fail at true service; they call on the State
when their efforts are not rewarded by the Spirit.
A false Christian will want to enslave others to his service. This is
the essence of kingship among men: they want to be exalted over others.
A particularly delightful parable is found in Judges 9:7ff.: The good
trees preferred to remain productive, rather than become a king. It was
the thistle that chose to be a king. And verse 9:4 tells the kind of
people that follow after a king: those that desire a kind of vicarious
kingship. Such people glory in a king; the more powerful the king is the
more important they feel. God was angry at Israel for wanting a king (I
The Fall of Satan and his Angels
We seldom think about angels. We seldom take thought of the fact that
angels take an interest in the affairs of each of us (Luke 15:10;
Genesis 24:40; Matthew 18:10; etc.). We have a very naturalistic
view of the universe, and hence of Government, which we reduce to
"politics." We do this because we have assimilated so much
evolutionary thinking. We don't think in terms of our Edenic past, and
we ignore the present movement toward an Edenic future. Recent
works by the "Christian Reconstruction" movement force our
attention to the relationship between Eden and Government by showing
Satan's role in the Edenic model.
Satan was originally the "covering cherub" (Ezekiel 28:14;
evidently the highest among the cherubim, who are those in the angelic
hierarchy closest to the throne of God Himself [Psalm 99:1]). His
position was thus one of great proximity to the origin of all
government, God Himself. Chilton elaborates on this by speaking of the
"canopy" in Isa. 4:4-5:
"This Cloud-canopy of God's Presence, full of angels' wings,
is called a pavilion, a covering (2 Sam 22:12; Ps. 18:11; Lam.
3:44; Ps. 91:4); and the same word is used to describe the position of
Satan before the Fall, who as a perfect member of the heavenly host
was 'a covering cherub,' a part of the Cloud-canopy that
covered the Garden of Eden (Ezek 28:14,16). And that is why
this word covering is used to describe the position of the
carved cherubim that were placed hovering over the Ark of the Covenant
(Ex. 25:20)." ("Eden and Salvation," The Biblical
Educator, June 1982.)
The Godly angels gladly served God both in His Heavenly Throne and in
the Edenic Throne-Model. Some despised that role (Jude 6, II Peter 2:4)
and rebelled. Their basic motivation was to be powerful and to
rule (I Timothy 3:6; Isaiah 14); in short, pride (Ezekiel 28:11ff.).
Satan and his followers fell from their position of service when they
set out to maintain a government of their own. They are bent on tempting
men to form States to do the same. Some refer to Isaiah 14 and Ezekiel
28 to discuss the fall of Satan, when he was cast down to earth
(Revelation 12:9) and took a third part of the stars (Revelation 12:4).
But these chapters are directly addressed to kings of empires
(Babylon, for one) and can only be attributed to Satan in an indirect
way. It is certainly significant that the Prophet can move so easily
from the State to Satan.
At any rate, Henry Morris seems to be correct in saying
"Satan thenceforth became 'the prince of the power (exousia)
of the air' (Eph 2:2) and has concentrated his efforts and those
of his angelic followers on trying to defeat God's plans for man.
God's holy angels, on the other hand, have continued faithful to God
and are continually keeping watch over the 'heirs of salvation.' It is
clear therefore that there is a continuing cosmic warfare between 'Michael
and his angels' and 'the dragon and his angels' (Rev 12:7).
Aspects of this conflict are glimpsed occasionally in Scripture (Dan
10:5,12-13,20; Ps. 34:7; Jude 9, etc.)" [And notice the
involvement of empires or the state in these passages.]
Henry Morris was the fellow who first got me to believe that one
could take the Bible seriously. I had always thought that since the
Bible was so dreadfully wrong on matters relating to science and
evolution that it was not very reliable in general. Morris (and
those to whom he referred me) showed me that scientists
believed in evolution not because it was true or "scientific"
but because they hated Christianity.
A number of his books deal with the subject of stars and idolatry.
One book is The Troubled Waters of Evolution. We shall quote from
it at length.
The Origin of Evolutionary Statism
The Primeval Unity of Paganism
Morris' thinking shows reliance on the inadequate work by Alexander
Hislop, The Two Babylons, as he traces the origin of evolutionary
thought. But even Hislop recognizes an undeniable fact: All pagan
religions or philosophies are evolutionary. Morris suggests a
common origin, spoken of ever so implicitly in Genesis 10:8-10 and in
Pantheism, polytheism, astrology, idolatry, mysteries, spiritism,
materialism -- all this great complex of belief and practice,
superficially diverse, but fundamentally one -- constitutes the
gigantic rebellion of mankind against the true God of
creation. Always, whatever the outward appearance, the
underlying faith is in eternal matter, in a self-contained cosmos
evolving upward out of chaos toward future perfection.
Though in some cases, particularly isolated tribes, the people seem to
have retained some kind of dim awareness of a great High God, far
removed in time and space from their personal lives, their practical
interests have from primeval times invariably been centered in the
various divinities connected with their own immediate
environments. Such identification of ultimate reality with
finite natural objects is nothing but evolution. Matter in some form,
not God, is their original and eternal cause of all things (See Romans
Furthermore, this system is invariably identified in some way with
astrology, and all the various divinities are associated with their
own particular stars or planets. To the pagans, these heavenly
beings were not considered as mere religious ideals, but as living
spirits, capable of communicating directly with men through oracles or
seers or mediums [sic -- media?].
The origin of evolution as a religious philosophy (and that, of
course, is all that it can ever be) is thus locked together with the
origin of paganism, which in the post-diluvian world was undoubtedly
at Babel. This is also intimated by Scripture, when it speaks of
"Mystery: Babylon the Great, the mother of harlots and
abominations of the earth" (Revelation 17:5). Since Nimrod
was the founder and first ruler of Babylon, it seems reasonable to
propose that he was responsible for the introduction of this entire
system into the life of mankind."
(Actually, the theory of evolution goes
back to Cain and to the serpent before him. But Nimrod
is clearly the important post-Flood figure in the origin and nature
of the State, according to the Bible.)
To the modern skeptic, of course, Nimrod is merely a non-existent
legendary hero like all the other names recorded in the early chapters
of Genesis. Such skeptics should at least realize, however, that the
literature of antiquity frequently refers to many people in ancient
times, in addition to the writer of Genesis, who regarded him as real.
We need not apologize, as Morris seems to, for seeing the Bible as an
inerrant historical document, a reliable record of ancient history, and
the necessary presupposition for all archeological and historical
There are numerous ancient historians who recognize Nimrod and his
exploits, and various sites in the Babylonian-Ninevah region are
associated by the Arabs with his name. It is quite
probable that the chief God of the Babylonians (Marduk, or Merodach),
really represents the same Nimrod, deified after his death.
I seem to recall this theory invoked to explain all Roman and Greek
gods - deification of national heroes:
An old statist tradition.
Morris does not adequately convey the force of the Biblical
references to Babylon. All through the Bible we have
continual references to Babylon; even in the New Testament, long after
Babylon's "literal" demise, she is still with us. In the
Biblical story, Babylon is clearly the great antagonist. Nimrod is still
a part of this picture, long after his death (e.g., Micah 5:6).
The Great Stars of
It is significant that the phrase 'the host of heaven' is applied
in Scripture both to the stars and to angels. Similarly, the worship
of the sun, moon, and stars, as well as the mythological deities, and
the graven images which represent them, is also frequently identified
in Scripture with the worship of angels, especially with the fallen
angels and the demonic hosts who are following Lucifer, the
"day-star" (Isaiah 14: 12-14; Revelation 12:4) in his
attempt to replace God as king of the universe. (I trust you're using
this as an opportunity to look up verses in your Bible. You will then
notice that Isaiah is talking about a king, not Lucifer directly. More
about the relationship between the State and Satan shortly.)
In common with all the other great temple-towers of antiquity, it
is likely that the original Tower of Babel (Genesis 11:4) was built,
not to "reach unto heaven" in a literal sense (Nimrod was no
naive character in a fairy tale to attempt such a thing as that) but
rather with a "top unto heaven" (the words "may
reach" are not in the original). That is, its top was a great
temple shrine, emblazoned with the zodiacal signs representing the
host of heaven, Satan and his "principalities and powers,
rulers of the darkness of this world" (Ephesians 6:12). These
evil spirits there perhaps met with Nimrod and his priests, to plan
their long-range strategy against God and His redemptive purposes for
the post-diluvian world. (Of course, this does not mean omniscience on
their part, just a planning action.)
The solid evidence for the above sequence of events is admittedly
tenuous. As a hypothesis, however, it does harmonize with the Biblical
record and with the known facts of the history of religions; whereas,
it is difficult to suggest any other hypothesis which does.
If something like this really happened, early in post-diluvian
history, then Satan himself is the originator of the concept of
evolution. In fact, the Bible does say that he is the one "who
deceiveth the whole world" (Revelation 12:9) and that he
"hath blinded the minds of them which believe not"
(II Corinthians 4:4). Such statements as these must apply especially
to the evolutionary cosmology, which indeed is the world-view with
which the whole world has been deceived.
We assume, therefore, that the Babylonian mysteries were originally
established by Nimrod and his followers at Babel. They have somehow
since been transmitted throughout the world and down through the
centuries, corrupting all nations with their materialistic
glorification of the "host of heaven," changing the "glory
of the incorruptible God into an image like to corruptible men, and to
birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things" (Romans
1:23). Because they "did not like to retain God in their
knowledge" (Romans 1:28), they proceeded to change "the
truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more
than the Creator" (Romans 1:25).
The remarkable similarities and antiquities of the Zodiacal
constellations and the astrological systems that have come down from
all the early nations, provide strong evidence of the primeval unity
of heathendom. It therefore is a reasonable deduction, even though
hardly capable of proof, that the entire monstrous complex was
revealed to Nimrod at Babel by demonic influences, perhaps by Satan
I freely admit that when I first read these comments by Morris, some
years ago, I put the book down in disgust: "No way. Morris is good
in some areas, but not here." If you're in the same position now,
be open, and listen to the evidence, and then reject it if you must.
There are good reasons to give thoughtful attention to Morris'
interpretation. If Morris is unconvincing it is because he has understated
the case. Let us consider
The Hidden Political Agenda of the Evolutionists
Morris' specialty is refuting evolutionism, and he is very much taken
up with the subject of evolution per se (i.e., in a strictly
"scientific" or anti-"religious" sense). As a
result, his perspective is unnecessarily constricted. Paganism is
broader than philosophy and religion in the narrow sense of those words.
The influence of pagan economics, law, education, etc, have been much
greater than pagan religious practices. This is Alexander Hislop's basic
mistake. Everything in Babylon is seen as a religious, liturgical,
or cultic mistake, rather than an economic, legal, or political one.
We have seen, in the works of Rushdoony for example, the
broad scope of God's Law; that it has concrete guidance on such
social problems as inflation, poverty, education, and national defense.
Biblical Law contains a complete program for justice, welfare, and the
functioning of a prosperous society. No economic, political, or legal
issue is not addressed by God's Law-Word in the Bible. A student of
God's Law and its application in society should get interested in
reading about the excavations at Ebla. Ebla is to Babylon what
Long Beach is to L.A. Not as close geographically, but as related. The
overwhelming majority of tablets discovered have been political,
economic, legal. Of course the ones that get translated first and
written up in TIME magazine are what they claim are the
"poetic/religious" tablets. All sorts of stupid comments are
made about the relationship between these Babylonian "creation
hymns" and the Biblical "creation hymn" in Genesis
one. The records of the State-administered agriculture systems,
the Central Banking system, and the legal system, are all seen as less
relevant by the theologically-trained archeologists. They do not
recognize these as records of the statism and oppression so vehemently
denounced by the Prophets. Nor do they see these same political
practices in our day. They fail to understand the abiding validity of
Biblical Law. But those are the ones that should interest students
of Rushdoony. The parallels between the Babylonian political/economic
system and ours are striking.
Aldous Huxley, fervent defender of evolution and descendant of T.H.
Huxley, Darwin's right-hand man, has made explicit the motivation for
accepting an evolutionary world-view: it
serves as a rationalization for rejecting God's Law in politics,
education, and family.
I had motives for not wanting the world to have a meaning;
consequently assumed that it had none, and was able without any
difficulty to find satisfying reasons for this assumption. The
philosopher who finds no meaning in the world is not concerned
exclusively with a problem in pure metaphysics, he is also concerned
to prove that there is no valid reason why he personally should not
seize political power and govern in the way that they find most
advantageous to themselves. . . . For myself, the philosophy of
meaninglessness was essentially an instrument of liberation, sexual
Considered in the light of Biblical Law and the mandate for Christian
Reconstruction contained therein, Babylonian culture displays a
systematic assault on Biblical government. The program begins with an
evolutionary cosmology, but this view of the distant past serves merely
to justify a rejection of Biblical Law in law, politics, education, and
every aspect of society. We must not reject Morris' interpretation just
because he doesn't see how broad Babylon's influence was, and because he
seems to suggest that Satan and his demons were sitting on the Tower of
Babel planning what Darwin would write. Modern science is only the
capstone of a long philosophical maturation that includes evolutionists
from Aristotle to Kant to Hegel, and their students from Pharaoh to Nero
The Hosts of Heaven
Read Dt. 4:19 and Gen 2:1. Are these verses talking about the angels
or the stars? Compare Hebrews 12:22 with Jer. 33:22 Is there a single
verse that is clearly talking about the stars and not the angels
when it speaks about the host of heaven? See Dt. 17:3, Judges 5:20, 2
Chron 18:18, I Kings 22:19.
Meredith Kline, the influential Old Testament scholar at Westminster
Seminary, says that when trying to understand "the heavens" of
Genesis 1:1, you must look at Nehemiah 9:5ff., and Psalm 103:19. (Also
Ps. 148:1-4, and Colossians 1:16.)
Hosts and the State
Now the tricky thing, when studying angels and stars, is to figure
out whether they are the bad angels or the good angels (and whether it
makes a difference). It is difficult because the bad ones started out
good and even the good ones can be wrongly (or over-) reverenced. Many
references seem to be to bad angels: 2 K 17:16; 21:3,5; 23: 4,5; 2 Chron
33:3,5; Is. 13:10; 34:4; Jer. 8:2; Dan 8:10; Zeph 1:5; Lk. 21:6; Acts
7:42; I Cor 8:5.
Henry Morris writes,
Another problem that has been associated with Genesis 1:16 is found
in Job 38:4-7. This passage has been read as contradicting
Gen. 1:16. The Hebrew construction (of Job 38) makes it clear that the
"morning stars" are actually the same as the "sons
of God." The latter were the created beings called angels and
they are frequently associated in Scripture with the stars. Both the
stars and the angels are, in fact, called the "host of
heaven" in many places in the Bible.
The physical stars, which are somehow associated with the spiritual
host of heaven, may thus also be involved in this heavenly warfare.
The "stars" associated with the solar system would be
particularly likely to be involved, in view of the heavy concentration
of angels, both good and bad around the planet earth.
There are a number of Biblical references indicating that in some
way the stars may actually be participating in human battles (Num.
24:17; Judg 5:20; Rev. 6:13; 8:10, etc.)
Immanuel Velikovsky and other modern writers have stressed the
possible significance of the host (pun?) of ancient traditions and
myths dealing with the "wars of the gods." Such
"wars" and "gods" were always for some reason
associated with the various stars, whose names they shared. The long
fascination of men of all nations with pagan astrology can only be
understood if it is recognized that there is some substratum of truth
in the otherwise strange notion that objects billions of miles away
could have any influence on earthly events. Certainly the physical
stars as such can have no effect on the earth, but the evil spirits
connected with them are not so limited. Furthermore, the
well-documented association of certain "UFO" sightings with
occultic influences and tendencies suggests that the "rulers of
the darkness of this world" (Eph 2:2) are increasingly
imaginative in their battles for the minds of men." (I have a
book by Clifford Wilson, maybe you have it too, called Close
Encounters: A Better Explanation. Thesis: UFO's are demonic.
Rushdoony recommended it. Still haven't read it; guess I'd better.)
"Hosts" means armies, we have always been told, but armies
of what? The subject of armies is important, so let's digress.
Armies and the Sword
As you go through the Old Testament, you'll come across the word
"sword" quite frequently. It
is almost always in connection with warring armies. Armies, in
turn, are always an arm of a nation, empire, or, as we say today, the
The one notable exception is Abraham's family in Genesis 14, who had
every characteristic of a "State" except rebellion against
We have always thought about the sword in Romans 13 as referring to
capital punishment. It is not because I
no longer uphold capital punishment as valid in the New Testament
that I say this, but it doesn't appear that capital punishment is in
view in Rom 13, at least in a legal-penological sense. In the Old
Testament, "sword" is a
symbol of war. Now, the better expositors and commentators
have noted that in the Old Testament war was a form of national
capital punishment, in which an entire nation was utterly destroyed
for their sins, like all the nations of Canaan were intended to be
destroyed by the Israelites. But sword
--always as far as I can tell-- symbolizes war,
not individual penal sanctions. That a few individuals are
recorded as having been killed by a particular sword of another
individual does not alter the generic usage of "sword" as a
symbol for war. Individual penal-legal sanctions are symbolized in the
New Testament by the cross (as this was the prevailing form of
capital punishment in the NT); Stoning is the individual penal
sanction in the Old Testament. That warfare is a ceremonial service is
also evident in Numbers 4:30,35,39,43; 8:24, 25.
Very often, when a distrusting, faithless Israel makes a treaty with
an apparently powerful nation to help defend herself against another
nation, or with the desire to pacify a nation so that it would not
attack Israel, then we find references to the pagan nation, or to
Israel, worshipping the armies of heaven, presumably meaning the evil
angels (or distorting the true purposes of the good angels). So when
Israel makes an agreement with Egypt to gain their military support,
Israel also worships the stars.
Rushdoony has pointed out that "Moloch" means king.
So when someone made a Moloch statue to "worship and serve"
were they really worshiping some dumb statue, or some king? And
what of the relationship between the king and the stars? Morris
says, "Behind this facade of images lurked a real 'host of the
heavens,' the angelic and demonic hosts of Lucifer, the
'day-star.'" Morris is referring to Isaiah 14, and as I said, this
is only more confusing as it is literally addressed to the king of
Babylon! The tie between and Satan the national god goes back to Nimrod,
as Morris notes in words similar to those earlier quoted:
How much of this new system of religion (at the Tower of Babel)
came by direct communication with Satan himself we do not know, but
there is abundant evidence that all forms of paganism [statism] have
come originally from the Ancient Babylonian[s] (see Rev. 17:5).
Nimrod himself was apparently later deified as the chief god of
Babylon (Merodach or Marduk).
Read Judges 10:6. Verses like this tend to make the relationship
between idolatry and the state clearer. Who are the gods of these
foreign countries? Their kings? Past kings -- their Kennedys, FDR's or
Lincolns (magnified in political power to an appropriate degree)? Baal
means "lord" (cf. I Cor. 8:5). Molech means
It may be that some of these gods are not strictly political, e.g.,
Ashtaroth may be the Linda Lovelace or Marilyn Chambers of society,
spoken of with justifiable poetic license, or as popular and depraved as
their kings were powerful. But how many of the names of these idols were
once kings, like Merodach (Nimrod)?
One of the continuing problems with Israel was that they continually
relied on other nations and their military power for security, rather
than upon the LORD. They wanted visible power, coercion, and rule, like
the other nations (I Samuel 8:5,20)
rather than service-dominion and Supernatural Government (Providence).
It should be noted that the phrase "strange gods" which, if
you are reading through the Bible, you will run across frequently, is
better translated "foreign gods" or "foreign
dignitaries" or "foreign powers."
David Chilton, in his exposition of Matthew 24, has called attention
to the traditional interpretation of verse 29, abandoned by
evolution-influenced modern expositors. Many Christians
think that this verse refers to some great cosmic disturbance,
interpreted "literally." Obviously it's not being interpreted
"literally," for a literal interpretation would apply
it to a literal nation, because, as Chilton and others have
pointed out, prophecies like this are found in the OT, such as Isaiah
13:1, 34:4, etc., and the prophecy literally came to pass with an empire
literally falling. Stars were used to communicate truths about
nations. Why? Was it be- cause the stars or their evil
angels really had something to do with the way a nation behaved? (see
There are quite a few verses you will run across, should you read
through the Bible, that don't make a whole lot of sense unless you
understand a relationship to exist between evil angels (and their star-homes
[?]) and evil nations: Amos 5:26; Hosea 7:5; Habakkuk 1:16; Isaiah
14:14; Zephaniah 2:15; Isaiah 47:8-10; Ezekiel 28:2,9; Ezekiel 20:32 + I
Samuel 8; Jeremiah 10: 7-9,2; Jeremiah 50:2,38; Ezekiel 43:7,9.
gods and Rulers
I'm somewhat confused by the use of the word elohim in
Scripture, but I think the concept of evil angels and idolatry equated
with (among other things) serving a pagan king or State, will help clear
things up. (I hope I don't sound too repetitive in this tirade against the
State; but the State is surely the most
dominant subject in the Scriptures. It does seem that evil angels
provide the impetus for the formation and function of the State;
that idolatry is the worship of (1) the State, or the
worship of (2) sex, which may be tied to the State
(through sanction or subsidy), or the worship of (3) money, which is
always tied to the State, or the worship of (4)
political power, best exemplified in the Whatchamacallit.)
As you surely know, Elohim is a name of the LORD. But it is
also used of gods, in idolatry.
Interestingly, it is used also of rulers, i.e., in Israel (Ex.
21:6, etc.). Just as human kingship (e.g., Saul, David) was not God's
prescriptive will (I Samuel 8)
neither was it God's will that only a few appointed heads work under
Moses to administer justice (Num. 11:29). Israel was continually
falling into a slave mentality, envying the statists around them, and
requiring God to make for them a State.
We have already suggested that Satan
originated the idea of having (or being) earthly gods (rulers). Our
analysis of Genesis 3:5 has continual confirmation in the pages of the
Old Testament as it unfolds the languishing of a Spiritless patriarchal
system in the face of Babylonian political gods; the
rise of earthly elohim. Genesis 3:5 is the introduction of a
theme of temptation to political
godhead that permeates the struggle between Israel and the nations,
highlighted by insights into the angelic conflict behind it (e.g.,
Daniel 10). The struggle is culminated and terminated (in principle)
when Satan re-issues his political temptation to the Second Adam (Luke
4:5-7) Who, unlike many of His Zealot contemporaries, withstood the
temptation and relied on God and His Word, the Source of True Power. The
very essence of the State is non-theonomic judicial decision making,
which is what we see originated in Gen 3. It is also the antithesis of
servanthood, and this contrast is the heart of the Gospel (Genesis 3:15;
Philippians 2:5-8; Isaiah 42:1ff.; Mark 10:42-45).
This is but a sketchy introduction to some questions that have
emerged in my own study of the Bible. Any comments you might have on any
aspect of this paper would be greatly appreciated. Kevin4VFT@vftonline.org
- David Chilton, Paradise
- This book has a couple of sections on the Throne of God, angels,
and the Garden of Eden.
- James B. Jordan, Judges:
God's War Against Humanism, 1985.
- This book discussed "Baalism," a belief that natural
forces cause crops to grow and societies to prosper, rather than
direct angelic intervention from the Throne of God.