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Question: I came across the curious phrase “confusion of faces” while reading Daniel chapter 9. What does it mean?

Answer: The expression “confusion of faces” is a significant one. It is the confession of a godly man, and the beginning of his power.

Moralism is not characterized by any such recognition, but rather by a confidence of faces, a self-righteousness which assumes that history is controlled by morality and works of morality. Thus, love is assumed to be capable of regenerating and controlling men, nations, and history.

Liberty, fraternity, and equality-the moralism of the French Revolution and of subsequent humanism, politics, and revolt-are again instances of the self-righteous confidence that history is subject to man’s dominion in and through works of morality.

Communism and democracy are further instances of this same moralism in the area of politics, even as Thomism and Arminianism give instances of it in the churches. Virtually all churches today are monuments to moralism, but the greatest monument is the modern state.

Johann Gottlieb Fichte, lecturing in Berlin in 1804-1805, expressed the thesis of statist moralism:

A State which constantly seeks to increase its internal strength, is thus forced to desire the gradual abolition of all Privilege, and the establishment of Equal Rights for all men, in order that it, the State itself, may enter upon its true Right-to apply the whole surplus power of all its Citizens, without exception, for the furtherance of its own purposes.

Only thus, Fichte believed, could the great and righteous goal of humanity be fulfilled and the true order of man be ushered in. Therefore, all power to the moralistic state.

But righteousness belongs to God, and unto us confusion of faces, for man is by nature a sinner, a covenant-breaker, and, as redeemed man, walks only by faith and grace of God. History is not in his hands, nor can he see one step ahead. To him belongs confusion of faces.

Responsibility is his, but responsibility is not the power to execute eternal decrees but rather accountability to Him whose sovereign decree undergirds all creation. Only as man knows himself to be man, a creature under God, can he enter into this dominion as vicegerent under God. Only as he grounds his words upon the Word of God, can he speak with truth and assurance.

Source: RJ Rushdoony, Thy Kingdom Come: Studies in Daniel and Revelation