What is vanity? It is the desire to shine, to draw attention to one’s self, to cause admiration; it is ridiculous presumption, vainglory, ostentation, to seek fame, cause a sensation or amazement, to be applauded, celebrated, praised; it is to show up, make oneself the center of attention, overshadow everyone and everything; it is to sit on a high throne; it is to praise oneself, boast of one’s own actions, promote oneself, etc., etc.
Vanity is the mother of ostentation and pride. The proud loves himself more than anything, for this is what vanity does: to value the gifts excessively. If beauty is not accompanied by humbleness and modesty, it becomes presumption. The excess of justice becomes cruelty, as the excess of mercy becomes harmful tolerance.
When someone performs an act worthy of praise, the vain person seeks to depreciate it to avoid being overshadowed. The vain person is always critical and his eyes are evil. Satan is vain, so vain as to consider himself worthy of sitting on the throne of God. The prophet Isaiah reveals this: “Your pomp is brought down to Sheol, with the sound of your stringed instruments. Maggots are spread out under you, and worms cover you. How you have fallen from heaven, morning star, son of the dawn! How you are cut down to the ground, who laid the nations low! You said in your heart, ‘I will ascend into heaven! I will exalt my throne above the stars of God! I will sit on the mountain of assembly, in the far north! I will ascend above the heights of the clouds! I will make myself like the Most High!’ Yet you shall be brought down to Sheol, to the depths of the pit” (Is. 14:11-15).
When we examine the scriptures of the Old Testament we do not find anything written on Satan’s vain wish to be like God. All the passages portray Satan as the tempter, deceiver, murderer, adversary (Gen. 3:1-6; 1 Chr. 21:1; Num. 22:31; Job 1:6-12; Zech. 3:1-2; Ps. 109:6). Worldwide theology affirms that Satan was the one who submitted creation, there in Eden. This affirmation lacks proof.
1. By the definition of vanity described above, we find a vain person in the Bible:When Moses asked to see the glory of Jehovah, he, Jehovah, said to him: “I will make all my goodness pass before you, and will proclaim the name of Jehovah before you” (Ex. 33:19). Now, Jehovah said about his people Israel: “For I have set my face on this city for evil, and not for good” (Jer. 21:10). And said more: “Does evil happen to a city, and Jehovah hasn’t done it?” (Amos 3:6). And said more: “I will heap evils on them” (Deut. 32:23). To practice so many evils and still exalt his own goodness, this is thoughtless vanity (Ps. 107:31; Is. 63:7).
2. Jehovah uses war to promote himself, and every war is genocide. Jehovah declares that he is the Lord of the Armies himself — JEHOVAH TZEBAOTH. And he says that he was glorified in the victory over the Egyptian armies in the Red Sea. Being glorified in the killing of the impotent humans is immense vanity (Ex. 14:17).
3. Jehovah thinks he is beautiful: “Ascribe to Jehovah the glory due to his name. Bring an offering, and come before him” (1 Chr. 16:29; Ps. 29:2; 96:9). How is the holiness of Jehovah? No priest of the line of Aaron who had any deformity — blind, lame, flat nose, broken foot, etc. — could offer burnt offerings to their god. Jehovah did not take into consideration moral perfection, but only the physical and exterior perfection. This holiness is false — pure vanity.
4. Every vain person wants to be appreciated, applauded, praised, and flattered: “Let them praise Jehovah for his loving kindness, for his wonderful works to the children of men! Let them offer the sacrifices of thanksgiving, and declare his works with singing” (Ps. 107:21-22). Whoever publishes his deeds is vain and wants to promote himself. Jesus was against this method (Mark 7:36; 5:43; Matt. 9:30; 12:16; 17:9).
5. Jehovah dwells in the middle of the praises of Israel (Ps. 22:3). Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon (605 through 562 B.C.), was so powerful and so vain, that he ordered a statue of himself to be built, which was 25 meters high. The announcer proclaimed in a loud voice, saying: “Then the herald cried aloud, To you it is commanded, peoples, nations, and languages, that whenever you hear the sound of the horn, flute, zither, lyre, harp, pipe, and all kinds of music, you fall down and worship the golden image that Nebuchadnezzar the king has set up; and whoever doesn’t fall down and worship shall the same hour be cast into the midst of a burning fiery furnace” (Dan. 3:4-6).
The desire to be worshipped, praised, and acclaimed is a trait of vain, proud, and mediocre men. If a god acts in a similar manner, he makes himself like men in his boastfulness, even because Jesus, which is God (1 John 5:20), was meek and humble (Matt. 11:29), and taught the disciples never to seek after great things and glory (Mark 10:36-45). The example of Jesus was to serve, not to be served. He forbade anyone to proclaim his works (Mark 1:44).
As Jehovah used all means to promote himself, he was destitute of humility and full of vanity.
PAUL DECLARES: “For the creation was subjected to vanity, not of its own will, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of decay into the liberty of the glory of the children of God” (Rom. 8:20-21)… while Jehovah, in his vanity, says that he is all-powerful (Gen. 17:1); while in his vanity proclaims that everything he wants, he does (Ps. 135:6); while he declares in a loud voice that Israel is the clay, and he is the potter (Jer. 18:6); while he proclaims that his kingdom dominates over all (Ps. 103:19; 99:1); while he declares that his counsel is determined over all the nations and that which he determines no one can change (Is. 14:26-27).
All the history of the kingdoms remains under corruption, in the fratricide wars, in betrayals, hypocrisy, lies, and vanity. And the kingdom that Jehovah has created for his glory (Is. 43:7), and in which he, Jehovah, who is the potter, forms the heart of his people, has always been worse than the nations, to the point that Jehovah destroyed both kingdoms, the temple, everything (2 Kings 23:27; 24:1-3). It was all talk and vanity!
Jesus did all his work without vanity!
By Pastor Olavo Silveira Pereira