Biblical Interpretation from Someone with no Training in Biblical Interpretation
Nobody wants to talk about Star Trek V: The Final Frontier. Even in other Star Trek works they avoid talking about it and Gene Roddenberry, the creator of Star Trek felt that some parts had questionable canonicity- so even he didn’t want to talk about. I didn’t want to talk about it either- since this is a Bible blog. However, the Holy Spirit kept pressing me that this was one of those special chances to talk about something completely unique. You see, the villain of the movie, Sybok- and how he fares, bears a striking resemblance to the king of Tyre in Ezekiel. Today’s topic is weird; but bear with me. Oh, and spoiler alert!
The king of Tyre was a great man in Ezekiel’s time. Of him we read,
The word of the Lord came to me: “Son of man, take up a lament concerning the king of Tyre and say to him: ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says:
You were the model of perfection,
Full of wisdom and perfect in beauty.
You were in Eden, the garden of God;
Every precious stone adorned you:
Ruby, topaz and emerald,
Chrysolite, onyx and jasper,
Sapphire, turquoise and beryl.
Your settings and mountings were made of gold;
On the day you were created they were prepared (Ezekiel 28:11-13).
At the time, the king of Tyre was awesome and perfect as far as anyone could see. He was wise, and he seemed to be showered in greatness. Likewise in Star Trek V, the character of Sybok was perfect. He was the top of his class, kind, soft, incredibly smart, and the son of a princess. He was recognized by all for his greatness and could have easily taken his seat among the greatest minds Vulcan (a planet of logic that rewarded intelligence). But not only were the king of Tyre and Sybok seemingly doused in perfection, but they were also specially equipped. The Lord continues to describe the king of Tyre,
You were anointed as a guardian cherub,
For so I ordained you.
You were on the holy mount of God;
You walked among the fiery stones (Ezekiel 28:14).
Along with having everything going for him, the king of Tyre was also specially anointed for a specific purpose by God. I don’t know what sort of gifts the Lord bestowed on the king of Tyre to help him in his calling, but surely they must have been great. Sybok was also unique among his people. He had dabbled with emotions (something Vulcans don’t use [as an aside, I apologize to those outside the Star Trek fan base]) which had led him to discover a special talent to help people deal with their deep emotional burdens, freeing them from their demons. This was a very noble calling for Sybok; however it was also very edgy (since Vulcans aren’t supposed to use their emotions). This would be where that “walking among the fiery stones” comes from. It is likely that the king of Tyre was also walking a thin line in his calling- then again, so did Jesus as he hung out with all of the sinners of his days.
Alright, so these guys were perfect, special, and had a unique calling- what could go wrong? The lament for the king of Tyre continues,
You were blameless in your ways
From the day you were created
Till wickedness was found in you.
Through your widespread trade
You were filled with violence,
And you sinned.
So I drove you in disgrace from the mount of God,
And expelled you, O guardian cherub,
From among the fiery stones (Ezekiel 28:15-16).
The king of Tyre was vilified in the eyes of God because he used his power for evil. Tyre was famous for its trade routes and merchant power; however, such things went to their king’s head and caused him to sin and lead others into sin as well. Sybok ended up being driven from his home planet of Vulcan for trying to obtain knowledge he wasn’t supposed to. In the movie he is painted as a villain largely because he was using his abilities to gain followers who were so appreciative of his help that they became borderline brainwashed. And as Sybok continued to gain followers he, like the king of Tyre, was overtaken by a problem,
Your heart became proud
On account of your beauty,
And you corrupted your wisdom
Because of your splendor.
So I threw you to the earth;
I made a spectacle of you before kings (Ezekiel 28:17).
Because they let the power get to their heads, the king of Tyre and Sybok became the “bad guys.” Sybok ended up being considered a straight-up criminal after he took over a peaceful outpost and as we’ve already read, the king of Tyre used his power for violence and sin.
As one might expect with the Bible, when there is sin, judgment soon follows. We read,
By your many sins and dishonest trade
You have desecrated your sanctuaries.
So I made a fire come out from you,
And it consumed you,
And I reduced you to ashes on the ground
In the sight of all who were watching.
All the nations who know you
Are appalled at you;
You have come to a horrible end
And will be no more (Ezekiel 28:18-19).
Tyre fell out with God due to his pride and sins (something that happened to the whole nation also) and was destroyed by the Lord. Sybok’s search for more led him to steal a starship and make a run for the center of the galaxy, where he expected to meet with God. However, even “God” (not really God but an alien posing as him) knew that for a man to think he could touch God was ridiculously arrogant, and so “God” judged Sybok. This was the same problem the king of Tyre had. For it is written,
The word of the Lord came to me: “Son of man, say to the ruler of Tyre, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says:
In the pride of your heart you say, “I am a god;
I sit on the throne of a god
In the heart of the seas.”
But you are a man and not a god,
Though you think you are as wise as a god (Ezekiel 28:1-2).
In Star Trek V, Sybok was also confronted directly about his arrogance (though not from a prophet). The alien posing as God called out Sybok’s self-worship by changing his own form to match that of Sybok, asking if he found this form of “God” to be more pleasing. The moment broke Sybok, who realized that he’d been controlled by his own pride rather than some sort of great mission. The “God” alien had decided to destroy Sybok and the ship he rode in on for their presumptuousness; however, the villain of the movie distracted the alien long enough for the Enterprise (the stolen space ship) to fire on both him and the alien. This is the only difference between Sybok and the king of Tyre: Sybok actually got to redeem himself in the end through his sacrifice. However, just like we read about the king of Tyre in Ezekiel 28:18 already, Sybok actually was reduced to a pile of ashes- literally; since the Enterprise fired on him and the alien, vaporizing them both. And just like the king of Tyre, all of this could have been avoided had he not let his pride and gifts elevate him to a god-like level in his mind.
Alright, so the question stands, “What am I supposed to get out of this?” The stories of Sybok and the king of Tyre are a warning. Many people let their gifts get to them. They end up trusting in what they believe to be their own wisdom, knowledge, or strength and laugh when people bring up the power of God- not realizing that “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows” (James 1:17). This can be a dangerous move for such people. Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 1:18-20,
For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written:
“I will destroy the wisdom of the wise;
The intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate.”
Where is the wise man? Where is the scholar? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?
Against all the other philosophies of the world, all the religions built around humanity, and everything we’ve thrown at him, the Lord stands firm above all and has continued to endure throughout time. He has no intention of losing when someone else starts getting puffed up about their place in the world. People who are blessed can easily get off track though by not recognizing the source, and after that, things can go south quickly. Check out what Paul writes,
For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles (Romans 1:21-23).
Many false religions start in such a way. The leader will realize some sort of gift within themselves, and then use it to start their own religion, which they can manipulate and have power over. They see talk of God to be a joke, “You’re telling me that my good fortune came from some sort of flying spaghetti monster? You keep your faith, but watch me excel in my power.” However, such thinking is in error. The Word tells us, “For the foolishness of God is wiser than man’s wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man’s strength” (1 Corinthians 1:25). No matter how foolish the world may see Christian worship, the fact remains that even at his weakest moment (death on a cross), Christ triumphed over the one enemy the world has no weapons against (death).
Scriptures tell us,
However, as it is written:
“No eye has seen,
No ear has heard,
No mind has conceived
What God has prepared for those who love him”-
But God has revealed it to us by his Spirit. The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God (1 Corinthians 2:9-10).
Only the Lord gives us true wisdom. We can study books all we want, but let’s not lie, you know a fair few people who are smart on paper but are still dumb- right? The same goes for our world versus that of the spiritual world. A person can have all the wealth of knowledge in worldly matters, but still not “get it” when it comes to how and why everything works. They can put forth theorems and ideas, but through testing there are always exceptions and problems. And we’ve seen that many principles that come against what is printed in the Word of God usually have troubles of their own (such as the big bang, evolution, and uniformitarianism). But fear not, for the Lord does give his wisdom to those of us who are still bound on earth. Paul notes in 1 Corinthians 2:12, “We have not receive the spirit of the world but the Spirit who is from God, that we may understand what God has freely given us.” And what wisdom did the Holy Spirit impart to Paul and the apostles? We read,
But what does it say? “The word is near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart,” that is the word of faith we are proclaiming: That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved. As the Scripture says, “Anyone who trusts in him will never be put to shame” (Romans 10:8-11).
This is the truth of salvation and everlasting life and rightness with God. It is true for everyone, as the Lord is absolute in all he says and in all truth. Just like Sybok, you don’t need to chase God’s truth down, for it is right in front of you. What does Scripture say on this? We read a few lines up in Romans 10:6-7,
But the righteousness that is by faith says: “Do not say in your heart, ‘Who will ascend into heaven?’” (that is, to bring Christ down) “or ‘Who will descend into the deep?’” (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead).
You don’t need to steal a starship and fly it to the center of the galaxy to receive the ultimate revelation from God. Just like Sybok, you don’t need to hunt down the truth of the Lord, for it’s already been given to you. And so I stand with Paul as he writes,
I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile. For in the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: “The righteous will live by faith” (Romans 1:16-17).
It doesn’t take wisdom, knowledge, power, or strength to find your way. Such things will come from the Lord through faith and his grace. Rather we understand the truth and the meaning of life through faith in Christ. It is written,
Jews demand miraculous signs and Greeks look for wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God (1 Corinthians 1:22-24).
If you want to reach the ultimate power, if you want to achieve the greatest wisdom, if you want to touch the face of God: then crack open your Bible and let the Holy Spirit guide you in the way you should go. I suspect you’ll find it much easier and more fulfilling than hijacking your way to the center of the galaxy.