Paganism in the Church - Part 2

Scripture: Genesis 11:1-9, Romans 1:25, Ezekiel 8:12-18
A second in a series on paganism creeping into the church, this broadcast traces the roots of false worship going back to the tower of Babel and Babylon. We can see today some celebrations (Christmas and Easter) which have connections with paganism.
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In our last broadcast we introduced a special series of studies about paganism in the church. We discovered the amazing fact that Satan has developed, from the earliest ages, a counterfeit, opposition system of religion which was intended to attract worship away from the true God of Heaven. That false system had its sacrificial plan just as God had a plan of sacrifice, but Satan's pagan worship required the offering up of human beings, often the sons and daughters of the worshipers. A counterfeit holy day was instituted in honor of the sun god, and this was designed by Satan to rob God of his peculiar authority as the Creator of the universe.

Satan, also, tried to compete for the loyalty of the world by setting up a very ancient center of sun worship called Babylon. To understand what Babylon means, let us go back to the days after the flood, when men refused to obey the instruction of the Lord to scatter over the earth. Settling on the plains of Shinar (Genesis 11:4), they said, "Go to, let us build us a city and a tower, whose top may reach unto heaven; and let us make us a name, lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth." They called the tower "Babel, the gate to heaven," but God called it what it was, "Babel, confusion," for there the language of the people was confused and they were forced to scatter. This heaven-defying clan of men wanted to have one city, the capital city of the world, one government to rule the world, and one religion to sway the hearts of mankind. It was Satan's attempt to defy God and His authority. The ring leader in this scheme was one named Nimrod.

We read in the Bible about Nimrod, the man who had something to do with the beginning of pagan sun worship. We read about him in Genesis 10:8-10. "And Cush begat Nimrod: he began to be a mighty one in the earth. He was a mighty hunter before the Lord: wherefore it is said, Even as Nimrod the mighty hunter before the Lord. And the beginning of his kingdom was Babel (margin, "Babylon").

In another translation of the Bible called the Targum, we read this: "Nimrod became a mighty man of sin, a murderer of innocent men, and a rebel before the Lord."

Nimrod, one of the great-grandsons of Noah, is accredited with being the originator of sun worship. Nimrod was a great leader, and he was the first empire builder. He was the founder of Babylon. According to history, his wife, Semiramis, was a very great and wicked queen; and through Semiramis we find the devil trying to counterfeit God's great, wonderful plan of salvation. She was the first deified queen of Babylon, and Nimrod was the first deified king. When Nimrod died, the people mourned. They said that he was a god. Semiramis, in order to elevate her own position, said to the people that she was the queen of heaven and that her spirit was that of the moon, and when she died she would dwell in the moon, even as Nimrod was already in the sun.

Satan was laying the foundation for every system of falsehood and error the world has ever known. They took the Truth of God and perverted it, changed it into a lie, and "worshipped and served the creature (Satan) more than the Creator." Romans 1:25. Here is a truth that should be deeply impressed upon your minds today: Paganism is devil worship. Let us never forget that this system of religion, while professing to be the true religion, is actually devil worship. It professes and claims to be the Truth of God. In reality it is Satan's masterpiece, the "mystery of iniquity."

Every year, when the cold season began, the people believed their sun god was leaving them. They came to learn that his lowest dip on the horizon, about December 21, was followed by his gradual return, until in midsummer he was directly overhead at noonday. It was on the 25th of December that they began to notice this gradual return of the sun god. This day they called the birthday of the sun. Thus, the winter solstice came to be regarded as a time of great importance; and at the festival inaugurated, there was feasting and merriment in honor of the return of the all powerful sun god. It was their belief in the annual journey of their god that Elijah alluded to in his conflict with the priests of Baal, the Syro-Phoenician sun god. (1 Kings 18:27, if "he is a god; either...he is in a journey, or peradventure he sleepeth, and must be awaked").

Tammuz was hailed as the son of the sun. He was idolized and even worshipped. The first letter of his name became, in time, the symbol of sun worship. Human sacrifices to the sun god were offered on this initial letter made of wood, known as the cross "T." His birthday, December 25, was honored more and more. When Tammuz died, the pagans instituted forty days of weeping for him before the full moon, following the vernal equinox.

Think of it, dear friends. Satan worked many years before the conception and birth of the true Messiah, Jesus, to counterfeit through sun worship His miraculous conception and birth.

Let me read about this very thing in the Bible. Perhaps some of you never knew that the Bible mentions this. I am reading from Ezekiel 8:12-18, "Then said he unto me, Son of man, hast thou seen what the ancients of the house of Israel do in the dark, every man in the chambers of his imagery? for they say, the Lord seeth us not; the Lord hath forsaken the earth. He said also unto me, Turn thee yet again, and thou shalt see greater abominations that they do. Then he brought me to the door of the gate of the Lord's house which was toward the north; and, behold, there sat women weeping for Tammuz. Then said he unto me, Hast thou seen this, 0 son of man? turn thee yet again, and thou shalt see greater abominations than these. And he brought me into the inner court of the Lord's house, and, behold, at the door of the temple of the Lord, between the porch and the altar, were about five and twenty men, with their backs toward the temple of the Lord, and their faces toward the east; and they WORSHIPPED THE SUN TOWARD THE EAST. Then he said unto me, Hast thou seen this, 0 son of man? Is it a light commit the abominations which they commit here? for they have filled the land with violence, and have returned to provoke me to anger: and, lo, they put the branch to their nose. Therefore will I also deal in fury: mine eye shall not spare, neither will I have pity: and though they cry in mine ears with a loud voice, yet will I not hear them."

God's people were constantly coming in contact with paganism, which was nothing more or less than sun worship. They were constantly being tempted to follow the religion of the pagans instead of the Bible. Satan succeeded many times in leading God's people into sin and pagan sun worship. The prophet was shown greater and still greater abominations. He was shown the people turning their backs on the temple of God and worshipping the sun toward the east.

They also worshipped the moon goddess, Semiramis, the so-called queen of heaven. Let me read you what they did, in Jeremiah 7:16-18. "Therefore pray not thou for this people, neither lift up cry nor prayer for them, neither make intercession to me: for I will not hear thee. Seest thou not what they do in the cities of Judah in the streets of Jerusalem? The children gather wood, and the fathers kindle the fire, and the women knead their dough, to MAKE CAKES TO THE QUEEN OF HEAVEN, and to pour out drink offerings unto other gods, that they may provoke me to anger." These cakes were round and on them was cut a cross in honor of the sun god, and they were offered to the queen of heaven. Today they are called hot cross buns.

Let us notice now a few striking and outstanding things that took place; and keep in mind that the devil, who is really the author of pagan sun worship, had been working for centuries to get this false worship so implanted in the world that God's true plan of salvation through Jesus Christ would be insulted and, if possible, be made a failure.

First, the exact date of Christ's birthday was not known; and so it was suggested, "Why not call it the same date as the birth of Tammuz, which was December 25?" That, too, was the time when the sun had reached its lowest point on the horizon and started back up the heavens. The sun god had come to life, so to speak. Thus, gradually but surely, December 25 came to be known as the birthday of Christ. The papal church finally instituted a special mass on that day, "Christ's Mass," and so December 25 became "Christmas." The yule log burning in the fire, followed by the green tree lighted with candles, all came in from the pagans' worship, representing Nimrod's being dead, while his spirit still lived in the sun, and was alive again in Tammuz, his son.

Again, Christ was crucified and resurrected in the spring of the year, near the time of the moon festival. The devil was on hand again to bring in the idea of having a celebration the same time as the heathen and even doing as they did, but calling it "in honor of the resurrection." The cakes to the QUEEN OF HEAVEN became the "hot cross buns." (Read Jeremiah 7:16-18). The forty days of "weeping for Tammuz" became Lent, and at the close of Lent came Easter Sunday. (Read Ezekiel 8:12-18). This goddess Ishtar (Easter) came to be known as the goddess of springtime, "new life," or as history records it, the "goddess of reproduction." The pagans went out to some mountain side, early Sunday morning and worshipped this goddess as the sun was rising in the east. They gave themselves to immorality and indecency of every description. The eggs and rabbits were used as symbols of fertility and germination, "life."

Listen, friends, what an insult to our Lord and Savior, Jesus! Because He arose from the dead (came to life) early Sunday morning, Satan succeeded in transferring the insulting festival to the pagans over in honor of Christ's resurrection; and so today, we still have the EGGS and RABBITS, and the HOT CROSS BUNS and the early SUNRISE SERVICE, all in honor of Christ's resurrection. It all came into the church gradually and was blessed by the Catholic church and given to the world.

Well, our time has slipped by, but we will continue our series in the next broadcast. Friends, don't miss the next link in the chain because I will be talking about one of the most breathtaking, arrogant deceptions that Satan ever devised, and how he used it to try to humiliate the Son of God.

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