Here is the little-known, gripping story of the birth of a great religious system which today masquerades under the name "Christian," yet it began hundreds of years before Christ!
PART III DID YOU know that at Christ's time pagan practices bore an amazing similarity to Jesus' teachings? Did you know that those pagan customs crept into the professing Christian world? The churches of today ignore this fact!
Here is how it happened.
In the previous articles of Dr. Meredith's forthcoming book, Satan's Great Deception, we discovered that Nimrod, the world's first despot, founded civilization at ancient Babylon. That civilization has engulfed the whole world. Nimrod also established apostate Sun-Serpent worship — the worship of the devil and evil spirits. As a punishment, God scattered the people (Genesis 11:8).
We also learned that righteous Shem later slew Nimrod to prevent him from reorganizing society in another universal apostasy. But Nimrod's system lived on!
We find many of the practices of his religion to be similar to, yet counterfeits of, the true teachings of God, but different enough to prevent its followers from receiving eternal life. The "Mystery of Iniquity" of our day was taking shape then!
THE OBJECT OF THESE MYSTERIES WAS "TO BIND ALL MANKIND IN BLIND AND ABSOLUTE SUBMISSION TO A HIERARCHY ENTIRELY DEPENDENT ON THE SOVEREIGNS OF BABYLON" (Hislop, p. 5). VAST NUMBERS TODAY ARE ALSO IN BLIND AND ABSOLUTE SUBMISSION TO A GREAT FALSE CHURCH!
Nimrod-Worship Widespread Under Other Names We have already seen how Nimrod, after his death, was said by Semiramis to have been reborn in the form of her illegitimate child Nin or Horus. That the child (Semiramis' counterfeit of the coming Savior) who was worshipped in the various countries was really one person — Nimrod, there is much evidence. An examination of the legends and characteristics assigned to those gods by their worshippers show these coincide with the characteristics of Nimrod and the events of his life. (Now as we proceed, please recall that Nimrod was not only deified by Semiramis and worshipped after his death, but also, in her Mysteries, she said he was "reborn" as her fair-skinned child.)
Egyptian tradition shows that their god Osiris (Nimrod) was black. (Plutarch's De Isid, et. Os., vol. ii, p. 359.) This is a land where the color of the population is only slightly dusky. This then clearly shows that the man they worshipped was not of their own nationality.
This negro-featured Osiris was clothed from head to foot in a spotted dress, the upper part being a leopard's skin (spotted) and the lower part a spotted dress (Bunsen, vol. i, p. 425). The name Nimrod means "subduer of the leopard" — from Nimr, a "leopard," and rod "to subdue." This name seems to imply that as Nimrod had gained fame by subduing the horse, he had also subdued the leopard and used it in hunting (Hislop, p. 44). In India hunting with leopards has been a custom (Wilkinson, v. iii, p. 17). Persian legends show that Hosang (Cush) the father of Tahmurs (Nimrod) who built Babylon, was the "first who bred dogs and leopards for hunting." (Sir William Jones' Works, vol. iv, p. 341,353). The Egyptian high priest's robe of office was the leopard's skin. Here, then, the leopard skin, was the common covering for the main deity in these two countries!
Nimrod, by the same spotted covering, is identified as being the god Bacchus of the Greeks. Leopards were employed to draw Bacchus' chariot, he was represented as attired in leopard's skins, and his priests were attired in the same manner or with the spotted skin of a fawn. This latter seems to have come from Assyria (Vaux's Nineveh, chap. viii, p. 233) — indications again of the principal gods being covered with leopard's skins in two countries. The similarity to one man — Nimrod — is marked!
Recall that in Babylon, after Nimrod was slain by Shem's followers, Semiramis used secret or mysterious symbols to represent him so that he could be worshipped through these symbols as a god. In Greece, to secretly or mysteriously show that Nimrod and their god Bacchus were the same, Bacchus was symbolized as a spotted fawn. The rites of the Egyptian Osiris and the Grecian Bacchus are the same, and those of the Egyptian Isis (Semiramis) and Ceres (the Grecian Semiramis) exactly resemble each other (Bibliotheca, lib. i, p. 9).
In Egypt, Osiris, as we recall, was mystically represented as a young bull or calf — the calf Apis — "Apis," being only another name for Saturn, "the Hidden one." The name Apis in Egyptian is Hopi, evidently from the Chaldee (Babylonian) word "Hop" — "to cover" (Bunsen, vol. i, vocab., p. 462). Other evidence is overwhelming that Semiramis had made her dead husband the great god of the world of that day.
Mankind was deifying himself by causing others to worship him. Here is a very important subject that should be studied.
"Ye Shall Be As Gods" A factor that aided Semiramis in her deification of Nimrod after his death was the way in which statues were made of the mighty men of renown of that time. As the first of the "mighty ones" on the earth after the flood, Nimrod was symbolized as a bull. But there was yet another way by which his power was shown. Hislop, on pages 37, 38, and 39, says that a synonym for Gheber, which means "the mighty one," was Abir. But Aber signified a "wing."
Hislop continues, "Nimrod, as Head and Captain of those men of war... who were instruments of establishing his power, was Baal-aberin 'Lord of the mighty ones'. But 'Baal-abirin' signified 'The winged ones'. Therefore he was represented as a... winged bull — showing not merely that he was mighty himself, but that he had... ones under his command who were ever ready to carry out his commands... this... alone explains the remarkable statement of Aristophanes, that at the beginning of the world 'the birds' were first created, and then, after their creation, came the 'race of the blessed immortal gods'... Let it be borne in mind that 'the birds', that is; the 'winged ones' — symbolized 'the Lords of the mighty ones', and the meaning is clear... that men first began to be mighty on the earth, and then, that the 'Lords' or leaders of these 'mighty ones' were deified."
Nimrod was unquestionably the first of those deified after the flood. He became the "father of the gods" — the first of any "mighty ones" who might be deified after him. The same general method applied to Semiramis — she became the "mother of the gods."
Characteristics of the Babylonian System Why has God objected all through the Bible to mankind following the Babylonish system? Let us examine closely Nimrod's way of rule and find why God would object. The characteristics of the Babylonish system of rule as represented by Nimrod's world-empire are: "rejection of God, denial of His right to rule, refusal to acknowledge man's dependence upon God for power or happiness, determination to deprive... God of the gratitude and allegiance of men, thirst for domination apart from God over this world, the exaltation of man to the place of Deity."
"These are characteristics which belonged in supreme degree to Satan, the arch enemy and rebel against God. They are characteristic of the innate heart of... humanity; since all unregenerate men are children of disobedience, and their minds are 'not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be' (Rom. 8:7)" (from Miller's Ancient History In Bible Light, p. 55).
Now notice carefully, for this is very important!
"To the later Jews, Babylon was the complete embodiment of the enmity of the heathen world against the kingdom of God, and the idea they formed of Nimrod was influenced by this view. The arrogance of his character which seemed to be implied in his very name was conceived of as defiance to God, and he became a heaven-storming titan. As such he built the tower of Babel... Jewish legend made choice of Abraham to be his antithesis, the representative of God's kingdom over against the heathen autocrat" (Encyclopaedia Britannica, 9th ed., Vol. 17, p. 511). These are all serious indictments against this system.
To summarize why God is against the Babylonish system; God is the supreme ruler. This rebellion of humans beings against Him would, if universal, defeat His very purpose — His purpose of giving to obedient mortals eternal life by bringing them into His spiritual kingdom of God where He is acknowledged as the creator and ruler of all!
Revelation 14:8 speaks of a Babylon which will be destroyed in our day, and Revelation 18:4 tells us to come out of her lest we receive her plagues! This is really serious! No one will receive eternal life while they are in this system! "Babylon" is not as far away from us as we have always imagined. We shall presently see, as we continue our study.
Answer Found In Eden Man had brazenly dared to make himself a god, a god to be worshipped and obeyed by others! He left the True God out of his life. The Ten Commandments say, "Thou shalt have no other gods before Me." (Exodus 20:3). Many times in the Old Testament when people sinned, God said words to the following effect: "I will punish them so they know that I am God." Who first wanted to be like God? The Devil! "I will be like the most High" (Isa. 14:14).
What did the Devil tell Eve would happen if she and Adam would follow his advice and eat of the tree of knowledge of good and evil which God had forbidden? "Ye shall not surely die... ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil" (Genesis 3:4-5). Satan in effect said, "You will not die, you can be as gods, deciding for yourselves what is right and wrong — you can attain eternal life this way." The churches of Satan have been teaching this philosophy ever since. The philosophy that Adam and Eve followed in Eden is the type of philosophy the world has followed from that day to this: it is basically a type of disobedience. The Devil's suggestion sounds good to mankind.
God had said they would die if they disobeyed his command and ate of this tree (Genesis 2:17).
They did not know God yet — they did not fear Him: "The fear of the Eternal is the beginning of wisdom" (Psalm 111:10). They did not know they must obey Him above all beings or suffer dire consequences — so they ate of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. THEY USURPED GOD'S PREROGATIVE — THEY DECIDED FOR THEMSELVES WHAT WAS GOOD AND WHAT WAS EVIL! They made their own law by deciding that to eat of the forbidden tree was right and not a sin. They followed their law and broke God's. They became "as gods" to make their own law, but after they had sinned they were afraid (Gen. 3:10). They realized their folly, for then God said, "Man is as one of us, to know good and evil" (Genesis 3:22).
They had learned by experience. They realized they needed a different kind of clothing than their carnal minds gave (Romans 8:7). Paul says mankind has been made to desire vain things (Rom. 8:20).
"I put on righteousness, and it clothed me" (Job 29:14). They tried to clothe themselves with their righteousness, "They sewed fig leaves together and made themselves aprons" (Genesis 3:7) — a symbol of their kind of righteousness, but Isaiah, inspired by God, says, "All our righteousnesses are as filthy rags" (Isa. 64:6). The Bible says of God's commandments, "All Thy commandments are righteousness" (Psalm 119:172). If we obey God's commandments, as revealed then by God's spoken Word, but now by the Bible, we clothe ourselves with God's kind of righteousness and are acceptable to God. We cannot make our own laws here on earth! God said Adam and Eve must for their sin be separated from the tree of life at that time. They must die. They needed a Redeemer who could pay the penalty of death in their stead if they were to have eternal life. This was promised very soon afterward (Genesis 3:15).
Now we can see how the Devil rules this world today! Are we doing today as Adam and Eve did in the garden of Eden?
Are Men "As Gods" Today? It can now be easily seen that if we, today, are following the same deceptive suggestion that our human forebearers did in Eden — making their own laws — then we are "as gods." If Satan has thus deceived us, then our punishment will be the same as that given to Adam and Eve — denial of access to eternal life. "Remember, to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are... whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness" (Romans 6:16). The Devil, then, rules over us by suggestive deception!
Do the nations or individuals today consult what the Bible says about divorce, for example, before they make their decisions and their laws?
They do not! They have become "as gods" to make their own laws! The world, then, is Babylon. We are told to come out of her (Rev. 18:4). This we can do by giving God's laws precedent in our lives — being ruled by Him! The proper form of government is Theocracy — being ruled over by God and His laws. This form will soon be set up on this earth.
Like Adam and Eve, when they became "as gods" and made their own laws, the people today, in these end times, are having their eyes opened (Gen.3:5), because of the results of following their laws.
World Deifies "Self" The tendency of mankind to elevate himself is constant. After the Devil had tried to ascend and be like God (Isa. 14:14), Adam and Eve tried it (Gen. 3:5-6) and were denied eternal life at that time. In Gen. 6:4-5, we see that mankind had deified itself in the same way that we have shown Semiramis deified herself and Nimrod. These people became "Sons of gods." Wickedness increased. Verse 11 says the earth was corrupt and filled with violence — the inevitable result when mankind makes its own laws! What happened? God drowned all on earth except Noah and seven others!
After the flood, Nimrod and Semiramis set the pace for self-deification as we have seen. Israel was guilty of the same thing. In Ezekiel 20 there is a summary of why God said He was going to punish the Israelites. He repeats six times His reason: "That they might know that I am the Eternal." Judges 21:25, a summary of Israel's actions, says, "Every man did that which was right in his own eyes." Like Adam and Eve, they decided what was right and wrong — they were "as gods."
Today, we see the whole world deifying itself by making its own laws and leaving God out of the picture. A great religious leader dares sit today, claiming he rules in place of God! Very soon one of this group will show himself that he is God, "That day shall not come, except... that man of sin be revealed... who... exalteth himself above all that is called God... sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God" (II Thessalonians 2:3-4).
There is an outstanding example of man deifying himself today. While he was alive, "Joseph Stalin [had] long been eulogized by the Soviets... as the world's great... master. No words [were] considered too extravagant... East German children were asked to pray, not to God but to Stalin... his plans always come true" (Los Angeles Times, March 5, 1953, under heading "Stalin Cult Makes God of Dictator"). Only God is worthy of the attributes this cult ascribes to Stalin!
God knows the world will not voluntarily stop doing this. Soon Christ is coming to chain that deceiver, the Devil (Rev. 2:20), and Christ will rule with a rod of iron (Rev. 2:27). Then those on earth will have to decide whether they will stop deifying self or follow the real deity — God.
Why Do We Want To Be "As Gods"? Yes, why? You and I today wish that this war within ourselves would cease — this inner desire which makes us, against our will, do things that we know the Bible says not to do. It makes us not want to do the things the Bible commands us to do. This is the internal battle that even Paul described as raging in himself. "I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me but how to perform that which is good I find not... I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin" (Romans 7:18, 23).
The answer to this provides the explanation that reveals why the Devil can rule this earth by Deceptive Suggestion! Never once does the Bible show that the Devil has used physical force to rule mankind.
God has made mankind so we will desire (lust) to go contrary to His laws! Unbelievable, but true! "The law is spiritual: but I am carnal" (Romans 7:14). Carnal flesh does all sorts of evil things (Gal. 5:19-21). "The carnal mind is enmity against God" (Romans 8:7). The carnal mind today is making carnal laws to take the place of the higher spiritual laws which God has set in motion to govern us. Mankind's laws seem right in our own eyes. The flesh we are born with desires to lust, "Ye shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh" (Gal. 5:16, see also II Peter 2:18; I Peter 4:2). "The creature (mankind — the thing created by God) was made subject to vanity" (Rom. 8:20). Mankind was made to desire things of no value — corruptible and sinful things, by God himself!
God has made mankind with the inherent capacity to be upright but has given them a carnal mind! (Ecc. 7:29). We seem to be free agents to make our own laws to provide our own plan whereby we think (wrongly) that we will obtain happiness (The United Nations Assembly today is the big example of this).
Mankind firmly believes that the capacity to do this lies within himself. We evidently believe God gave this capacity to us, or else how do we think we received it? This is the very condition which makes it easy for the Devil to deceive us.
Proving Selves Wrong Today Today, God is letting the world prove that He has not bestowed on human minds the capacity of working out laws of happiness for themselves! He is letting them prove that happiness is beyond their reach as they are now constituted. It is no wonder then that God is perfectly willing that the Devil deceive the world now by encouraging the people in it to be "as gods." He turned even Job, the most perfect man on earth (Job 1:8), over to Satan to be strengthened (Job 1:12; 2:6, and 23:10).
God declared the end result from the beginning (Isa. 46:9, 10). He planned it this way! After we learn the folly of our ways God says "the creature itself shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption" (Rom. 8:21) and be "created in Christ Jesus unto good works" (Eph. 2:10). God says He will then (and only then) go a step further in creating us. He will change our fleshly bodies into Spiritual bodies fashioned to do good works.
God has promised to do just this! We must desire this new eternal body; we must repent (Acts 2:38) — show by actions that we realize that our usurping of our Creator's authority was wrong. Then He will beget us as His children and afterward give our bodies this new form. Lucifer, a spirit being, who became the Devil, never did learn his God-given capacity — he fought against his Creator (Isa.14:14).
How Satan Rules How does Satan rule? Paul said, "I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ" (II Cor.11:3, 13, 14). Satan may suggest evil courses of action to us through evil people over whom he has sway. The ministers of the false churches are here referred to. Notice that Satan is behind such people. Paul says these are "false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into apostles of Christ." They corrupt our minds! Sometimes demons enter people and rule them by taking complete possession of their bodies. Luke tells of devils coming out of many people in Christ's time (Luke 4:41).
Satan lays traps for us. He brings about circumstances which tempt us to do evil things. Paul warns us lest we fall into the "snare of the devil" (I Tim. 3:7). Does our acting on Satan's evil suggestions bring us under Satan's rule? Yes. The Bible says so. "HIS SERVANTS YE ARE TO WHOM YE OBEY; WHETHER OF SIN UNTO DEATH, OR OF OBEDIENCE UNTO RIGHTEOUSNESS" (Romans 6:16). We are urged to recover ourselves "out of the snare of the Devil" if we are taken captive by him (II Tim. 2:26). Satan is called the prince of this world (John 14:30). He rules it.
The evil spirit-helpers of Satan can directly influence the human mind. A spirit in Old Testament times told how he would persuade an ancient king's prophets to lie to this king. He said, "I will persuade him (the king)... I will be a lying spirit in the mouth of all his prophets" (I Kings 22:21, 22).
Satan "deceiveth the whole world" (Rev. 12:9). Notice that Satan deceives people everywhere. As a deceiver he makes things seem what they are not. A man because of his own lusts can deceive his own heart and this makes Satan's work easier (James 1:26).
Paul says, "We wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against... rulers of the darkness of this world" (Eph. 6:12). We wrestle against spiritual powers — Satan and his helpers. But how does Satan rule over large groups of people on this earth? Let us see. Revelation 12:3 tells of a great red dragon having seven heads and ten horns and Rev. 13:1 describes this same beast again. This is a CIVIL GOVERNMENT SYSTEM of four succeeding empires which are to rule this earth until Christ comes. One beast had four heads and each of the other three had one head which makes a total of seven heads. Daniel 7:6, 17, 18 describes this in greater detail. Notice that the dragon, identified as SATAN (Rev. 12:9), is HEAD OF THIS SYSTEM. THROUGH IT HE RULES THIS EARTH!
But now a second system through which Satan sways the millions: "I beheld another beast — and he had two horns like a lamb and he spake as a dragon (Satan)... and HE CAUSETH THE EARTH AND THEM WHICH DWELL THEREIN TO WORSHIP THE FIRST BEAST" (Rev. 13:11-12). This is a great RELIGIOUS GOVERNMENT or CHURCH through which Satan deceives the earth as to the true way of becoming actual sons of God! Revelation 17:3 gives a further description of this system. Yes, through these two agencies Satan truly rules over all! — for a time. But Satan knows his time is short! (Rev. 12:12).
We have seen how the Devil, through Semiramis, perpetuated the Sun-Serpent worship after her husband Nimrod's death, and why God allows this deception to go on. How did Satan pattern these deceptions so they would be usable to smother out and replace the teachings of Christ when He came? We shall see in the next installment.