An alternative view of Biblical Prophecy
Tag Archives: Biblical Prophecy
August 11, 2013Posted by on
We have come to realize that there is quite a bit here that really is not prophecy strictly speaking. So there are now 4 blogs we are dividing everything into
The Prophecy is going to
Those of you who have been reading this blog from the beginning will remember that there used to be a cartoon running down the left side of the page. Is was made using widgets and very hard to make look good. OK it looked tacky. But now WordPress has a template for comic panels. So the rapture sheep are back on their own blog.
Then there is a lot of things that are only of interest to the Messianic/HebrewRoots community. This is all moving to
And all the stuff that is about walking in faith, being the bride of Christ etc is going to
The Great Move has begun. This blog will slowly be deleted.
The Great MOVE has begun!
August 8, 2013Posted by on
December 29, 2012Posted by on
SIR ISSAC NEWTON 1642 – 1727
“ The folly of Interpreters has been, to foretell times and things by this Prophecy, as if God designed to make them Prophets. By this rashness they have not only exposed themselves, but brought the Prophecy also into contempt. The design of God was much otherwise. He gave this and the Prophecies of the Old Testament, not to gratify men’s curiosities by enabling them to foreknow things, but that after they were fulfilled they might be interpreted by the event, and his own Providence, not the Interpreters, be then manifested thereby to the world. For the event of things predicted many ages before, will then be a convincing argument that the world is governed by providence.” pg. 251
“For understanding the Prophecies, we are, in the first place, to acquaint ourselves with the figurative language of the Prophets. This language is taken from the analogy between the world natural, and an empire or kingdom considered as a world politic.” pg. 16
“And if you say in your heart, ‘How may we know the word which the LORD has not spoken?’when a prophet speaks in the name of the LORD, if the word does not come to pass or come true, that is a word which the LORD has not spoken; the prophet has spoken it presumptuously, you need not be afraid of him.”Deut 18:21-22 RSV
Or THE INTERPRETATION OF PROPHECY
There are four main schemes of interpretation regarding the book of The Revelation:
(1) the spiritual — the events described are only symbols of spiritual realities and struggles without any literal or historical application; (2) the preterit — everything has already been fulfilled; (3) the futurist — all predictions are in the future; (4) the historical — the predictions are in the process of fulfillment.
These four interpretations fall under three hermeneutical (science of interpretation) schools of thought.
I Covenant Theology Interprets all scripture from the point of view that there are only two
covenants. This came from Gal 4:22-31. There are several names for these two covenant, but no matter what the individual author may call them there are only two, the Covenant of Law and the Covenant of Grace. This view spiritualize nearly all prophecy making The Revelation to be about the churches struggle with apostasy. All the promises God made to the Jews are for the church either literally or figuratively. The doctrine of election is emphasized.
A Spiritualist The book of The Revelation represents the battle between good and evil
in which good ultimately wins over evil. Nothing is literal or historical. This interpretation takes a mystical or allegorical approach to most of the book. Because of this spiritualization they of necessity do not hold to a literal millennium. Clement of Alexandria, Origen, and later Augustine and Jerome followed this viewpoint. Recent interpreters who accept this view finds the book dealing primarily with the general struggle between the church and evil throughout the entire age, thereby giving encouragement to tested saints.
Such an interpretation, however, fails to expound the book meaningfully, and practically ignores the claims to its prophetic nature (Rev 1:3; 10:11; 22:7; 10; 18-19). It fails to recognize the interpretive key to the book (Rev 1:19) and focus on the second advent, including the climactic events which follow (Rev 1:7; 3:11; 16:15; 22:7; 12).
B Preterit All or most of The Revelation is fulfilled. Promulgated by a Spanish Jesuit
Monk by the name of Alcazar around the close of the 16th century, this was a Roman Catholic view, with the Pope as Christ on earth; making the dark ages the millennium. This view maintains that the prophecy was fulfilled with the defeat of the Jews, the enemies of the early church. Nero is considered the antichrist. The last half of The Revelation being vaguely future. From the 17th century on, preterits have held that the church’s conflict with Judaism is represented in Rev 4-11 and the churches conflict with paganism is depicted in chapters 12-19. Chapters 20 thru 22 describe her present triumph.
This position ignores the interpretive key of Rev 1:19, “Now write what you see, what is and what is to take place hereafter” (RSV). It gives arbitrary meanings to the symbols found in the book, and fails to account for the indications of a short span of time covering the events of ch. 4 thru 10 preceding the second advent. Variations of this view are used by many modern day cults who claim their leader is Christ on earth and they are about to enter their millennium.
II Dispensationalism A modern interpretation that views scripture through seven dispensations
of covenants corresponding to human history.Although there are numerous views of salvation the redemption of Jews, distinctive from that of gentiles, is a primary feature. Promoted by John Nelson Darby, Edward Irving and C.I. Scofield, the foundations originated with 16th century Jesuit Priest Ribera.
Ribera’s writings were a Roman Catholic rebuttal to the Reformers view of the office of Pope as the “antichrist”. The Futurist view of a secretrapture was first taught in England by Presbyterian Minister Irving. He translated another Jesuit Priest’s futurist writings, which followed the same distinctives. Irving’s preaching upon them eventually led to his dismissal from the church. A series of ecstatic utterances breaking out in his and other London churches disseminated the revelation of a future yet seven year tribulation.
Dispensationalists, in stark contrast to the Reformers, hold to the following positions:
- Covenantal promises to Israel will be restored, including a Temple to be built and animal sacrifices reinstated.
- Jews are God’s chosen people; gentiles are distinctive and experience redemption apart from Jews.
- All Jews will be saved.
- The Church age is a gap (before the 70th week of Dan 9:24-27) occurring between Israel’s rejection of Christ and national restoration.
- Christ’s present Kingship has no relationship to the fulfillment of the Davidic Covenant and His Messianic rule; and the Church has no relationship to the Kingdom of God on earth.
- Hyper-literal interpretation of symbolism in prophecy which allows little figure of speech, typology or foreshadowing of the Church as the mystery made manifest.
A Futurist See nearly everything as being yet future. The most popular view, in modern evangelical circles holds to various dispensations regarding salvation, and gaps in the prophetic scriptures.
- There is a gap between verse one and two of Genesis.
- There is a gap between the 69th and 70th weeks of Daniel 9.
- Many groups have a gap between the rapture and the Second Coming of Christ.
- There is a gap between chapters 3 and 4 of The Revelation, making the bulk of that book apply to a short period of 7 years at the end of this age.
There are many variations in this viewpoint. Interestingly enough, the theory was first presented by a Jesuit Priest Rebera who lived near the end of the 16th century. Originally it was a 3 1/2 year tribulation, but by the time it came into the Protestant church it had grown to 7 years. It was introduced to Protestants in the 1820’s, from ecstatic visions claimed by Margret MacDonald, then to the Darbyites (Plymouth Brethren), followed by Scofield who incorporated the view into the Scofield Reference Bible.
III Progressive Revelation God reveals himself to man in a series of Progressive Revelation. These revelations have been made though His work: Ps. 19:1, Rom 1:18-23, His Word: Jn 1:1-5, and His Son: Heb 1:1-4ff. A fourth revelation of God, His Glory: fuller and more perfect than any other, is yet given Rev 22:4.
Progressive revelation is like an artist painting a picture. He knows what His painting will look like when finished, however the onlookers see the work as it progresses. “One stroke” or revelation at a time, the Lord brings into sharper focus the final image or a fuller understanding of prophetic events.
One example of fulfilled revelation is in the Messianic prophecies:
A Gen 3:15 Enmity between the woman’s seed and the serpent’s.
B Gen 9:25-27 Blessed be Shem.
C Gen 12:3 By you all the families of the earth shall bless themselves.
D Gen 49:10 The scepter will not depart from Judah.
E Deut 32:18 The Rock that begot you.
F Ps 118:22 The rejected cornerstone.
G Isa 7:14 Virgin birth.
H Isa 11:1 Coming from Jesse.
I Isa 42:2-3 A willing sacrifice.
J Isa 53:4-6 Our iniquity fell upon Him.
K Isa 55:3-5 He will come from David.
L Isa 59:20 He comes to Zion as Redeemer.
M Dan 9:24-27 Daniel revels the timing of the Messiah.
N Hos 11:1 Messiah comes out of Egypt.
O Zech 9:9 Describes the triumphal entry into Jerusalem.
It is not surprising that in all of Israel there were only two people (Simeon and Anna Lk 2:25-38) waiting in the Temple when Jesus arrived to be circumcised. If you had only these prophetic artist’s strokes, could you have recognized the complete picture and been waiting with Simeon and Anna?
A HistoricistThe Historical or Historicist view interprets the book of The Revelation as symbolic and in the process of fulfillment. It sees the fulfillment of prophesies in the history of the church beginning in John’s day thru this present age of time. The view has been popular since the time of Berengaud (9th cen.), and Joachim (12th cen.). Wycliffe, Luther, Joseph Mede, John Foxe, John Bunyan, Sir. Isaac Newton, Bengel, Barnes, Rev. Edward Bishop Elliott A.M., H. Grattan Guinness, F.R.G.S. and others held to it. Most would agree that the Bishop of Rome is the “Antichrist” and that “Babylon the Great” is the Roman Catholic church. This way of understanding the book was held by every commentator who wrote upon it until the end of the sixteenth century.
“Jerusalem will be trodden down by the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled” Luke 21:24
The Historicist views the prophecies of Daniel and The Revelation as the interpretation to Nebuchadnezzar’s dream of a great, metallic statue. The image symbolically portrays four gentile empires beginning with Babylon, each empire giving way to the next, progressively unfolding without gaps in time. God’s sovereignty over human history is chronicled in amazing detail. The great image of gold, silver, brass, iron and iron and clay was interpreted by Daniel to be the “image of the beast” kingdoms of Babylon, Medio-Persia and Greece. The fourth “terrifying” beast of iron is generally accepted as Rome. The feet of iron and clay would rule until the “stone not made of human hands” would crush the empires and our Lord’s kingdom begins to fill the earth. These gentile kingdoms are assigned a duration of seven times or 2520 years and are referred to as The Full Times of the Gentiles.
Daniel’s prophecies are chillingly accurate and are told from the perspective of the nation of Israel. Several prophecies, most notably the “Seventy Weeks” are written to the Jews specifically. From Babylon to the “fatal wound” of the fourth beast, Rome, the time designated is called time, times and half a time, or 1260 years. Daniel is told at the end of his prophecies to “seal up the scroll”. Further explanation of the Full Times of the Gentiles was concealed until the time of the end. In the book of The Revelation, John is taken to the throne room and sees the “Lamb that had been slain” “unseal the scroll”. What follows is the remainder of the prophecy of the gentile kingdoms.
The book of The Revelation opens with a special message to seven churches, the Israel of God, fixing the remainder of the times within the Church age. John describes the beast out of the sea, the beast of iron, in similar manner as is found in the book of Daniel, and therefore makes the connection to the Full Times of the Gentiles. It is John’s visions however, that provide the identity of the beast out of the earth, or the clay, in the feet of iron and clay. The majority of the prophecy of The Revelation concentrates on the 10 kingdoms, the little horn out of Rome, and the whore of Babylon which appear after the fall of Rome. The “beast out of the earth” makes war against the saints for a “time, times, and half a time”, or 1260 years.
PROPHETIC DAY PUT FOR A YEAR
Moses forewarned the Israelites that because of breaking covenants, especially the Sabbaths, sudden terror (The Babylonian Captivity) would come upon them. When they returned, if idolatry continued, the punishment would be seven times [Lev 26]. Ezekiel is told the punishment will be for 360 years; given as a day put for a year. Israel’s subjection to the gentile kingdoms is assigned chronological limits of seven times 360 years of punishment or 2520 years. Prophetic language of this gentile rule is mentioned in the book of Daniel as time, times, and half a time, 1290 days, 1335 days, and 2300 evenings and mornings. In The Revelation it is written as 1260 days, 42 months or time, times and half a time. The most convincing evidence for this is the historical record itself. It must be remembered that we are looking at possibilities. While God is precise, we lack all the knowledge, especially the conclusion of the prophecy fulfilled to make a precise declaration of the Full Times of the Gentiles.
Time, Times and half a time: Time, times and half a time:
Captivity Era 1260 Lunar Years 2520 Lunar Years
747 BC ——————————- 476 AD —————————- 1699 AD
The first possibility of a time frame for the Full Times of the Gentiles is the initial date of the captivity era of Israel and Judah in 747BC with Nabonassar, the first king of Babylon. Twelve hundred sixty lunar years (1222 1/2 solar years) forward brings us to the fall of the Roman Empire and the rise of the apostate Roman Church, the whore of Babylon!
From the fall of Rome in 476AD to the Treaty of Ryswick in 1699AD is the last half of the time, times and half a time. Another period of 1260 lunar years from the rise of the apostate church, the Church of Rome, brings us to the beginning of the termination of the power and authority of the papacy. the Treaty of Ryswick, 1697AD politically established the Protestant religion.
The final possibility of a time frame for the Full Times of the Gentiles is the last dating of the captivity era of Israel and Judah in 587BC.
587BC——————————– 637AD——————————– 1860AD
The last dating of the captivity era in 587BC was the final fall of Jerusalem under Nebuchadnezzar. Time, times, and half a time or 1260 lunar years (1222 1/2 solar years) forward leads us to the eastern empire and a date connected to the rise of Mohammedan power in 637AD Omar, a Caliph, took Jerusalem and by 691AD had built the Dome of the Rock that stands on the Temple site to this day.
From the rise of the eastern Mohammedan powers over the land of Israel in 637AD, to 1260 lunar years forward we arrive at a date of 1860AD. The Peace of Carlowitz stripped the Ottomans of much of their power and territory in the Middle East. In addition, the formation of the Universal Israelite Alliance marked the beginning stages of the Jewish renaissance and return to her homeland as predicted in Ezekiel’s vision of the dry bones.
When these times end, an unspecified stretch of time leads to the Jew’s regathering to Israel, repentance, acceptance of their Messiah, and His (second) coming restores all things. At the end of this epoch, the “sanctuary” or the place where Messiah himself will reign from will be (becoming) cleansed. These time periods only indirectly imply a soon return of Messiah after the close of the full times of the gentiles.
Nebuchadnezzar’s dream of the statue kingdoms are ultimately destroyed by “the stone, not made of human hands” that crushes the feet and cause all the kingdoms of the world to fall.
It must be remembered throughout the study of this prophecy: the 2520 years is the time of the gentile’s domination over Israel, not a prediction of the second coming of Jesus Christ. While it is tempting to speculate as to what the future will bring, prophecy is clearest when fulfilled. Date setting is fraught with many difficulties; chief among them is seemingly discrediting the Word of God.
We hope to show in the following study of Daniel and The Revelation, the historical fulfillment of the majority of the Full Times of the Gentiles.
THE FOLLOWING CONCLUSIONS
1 That in symbolic prophecy a “day” is put for a year and a “time” of 360 years.
2 That Daniel’s prophetic vision of the fourfold metallic image and of the four beasts have been fulfilled in the histories of the Babylonian, Persian, Grecian and Roman Empires.
3 That “Babylon the Great” in Rev 17 is the Roman Catholic Church.
4 That the little horn of Daniel 7 represents the Papal dynasty, and the little horn of Chapter 8 is, as to its final form, the Mohammedan power, the one arising out of the Roman Empire, and ruling in Western Europe; the other arising out of one of the divisions of the Greek empire, and ruling in Eastern Europe and in Asia.
out of Light for the Last Days pg 17
by H. Grattan Guinness in 1887
We Do Not Believe:
1 In a 7 year tribulation at the end of the Church age and preceding the millennium. Therefore, there is no separation between Daniel’s 69th and 70th week.
2 That the “abomination of desolation” will be fulfilled in a future antichrist who declares himself god in a rebuilt temple.
3 That most of the book of The Revelation is future, yet to come.
4 In wild speculation concerning future events, dates, etc.
Or HOW TO INTERPRET THE BIBLE
The Bible is an ancient book with languages and customs unlike our own. It is essential to the understanding of the reader to be acquainted with basic rules of interpretation (hermeneutics) and recognized resources which aid in study.
I General Principles:
A Context: All passages must be read in their full context. The Bible as a whole is unified in its teachings and any part must support the doctrine of the whole.
B Normal usage of words requires:
- Understanding of cultural idioms (Hebrew, Aramaic, Greek)
- Type of literature: poetry, history, parable, literal, symbolic, etc.
C Understanding the history and geography of the writer as well as cultural and religious contexts.
II Literary devices:
A Similes; a figure of speech comparing one thing, often with as or like, to something of a different kind or quality.
B Metaphors; a word or phrase denoting on the kind of object or idea used in place of another suggesting a likeness between the two.
C Hyperbole; extravagant exaggeration of statement; a statement exaggerated fancifully, as for effect.
D Rhetoric; skillful or artistic use of speech.
E Paradox; an assertion or sentiment seemingly contradictory, or opposed to common sense, but that yet may be true in fact.
II Special Interpretation:
Prophecy like science has its own peculiar language: “for understanding the prophecies, therefore”, as Sir Isaac Newton justly observes, “we are in the first place to acquaint ourselves with the figurative language of the prophets.”
A Promises and warnings are often told through the use of prophetic language.
- The Lord gives prophecy through dreams, visions and direct communications to His prophets
- The next historical event which appears to fulfill the prophecy is most likely the fulfillment.
- In all cases prophecy has specific meaning intended for our understanding.
- The prophecy is often hidden from the unsaved (see Jesus explanation of why He spoke in parables – Matt13:9-17; Rev 13:10-17; Daniel 12:10 :none of the wicked will understand”).
- Apocryphal language (such as in Revelation) contains a sense of unusual word combinations or unusual phenomenon.
B Most prophecy contains literal and symbolic language:
- Narrative is generally non-mythological and is historical:
- Who: name(s) of individuals or nation(s)
- What: event(s) foretold
- Where: geography described
- When: time references
2 Figurative or veiled language is truth told through symbolic speech, in which one object is representative of another.
- Symbols have a generalized definition that is consistent throughout scripture.
- The immediate context surrounding the symbol can help determine a specific meaning but must fall within the general definition.
- Symbolic language uses imagery of the natural world; i.e. beasts representing real kingdoms as in Daniel 7.
- Symbols can have an heavenly manifestation ( Rev. 1:20 stars = angels) or an earthly manifestation (Rev. 1:20 lampstands = churches)
3 Symbolic language is often interpreted by scripture:
- A prophet may ask for understanding and receive it as in Daniel 9:1-3.
- A prophet may be given interpretation within the prophecy as in Rev 1:20.
- Symbols may be defined elsewhere in scripture.
4 Consistent use of figurative language is essential:
- Literal interpretation of figurative language and visa-versa will lead to faulty conclusions.
- If a symbol is used in a passage, the other events in that same passage most likely will also be symbolic.
- The Lord has done unusual things to natural phenomenon, but has never created unnatural phenomenon. Scripture is not a” science fiction movie”.
- Parallel accounts of the same prophecy may exist in scripture but allegory (Gal. 4: 24-31) and types (Heb. 8:5, 1Cor. 10:6) must be used carefully and not as strict parallels.
III Typology: Sometimes called Double Prophecy
Excessive dependence on typology can lead one to neglect the plain meaning of the text.
1 Definition of Type:
The Greek term ”tupos”, occurs 16 times in the New Testament. [Jn 20:25; Acts 7:43; 7:44; 23:25; Ro 5:14; 6:17; 1 Cor 10:6,11; Phil 3:17; 1 Thess 1:7; 2 Thess 3:9; 1 Tim 4:12; Tit 2:7; Heb 8:5; 1 Pet 5:3]. A person, event or thing resembling another; they are called type and antitype; and the link which binds them together is their similarity. You might say that Types are pictures or object-lessons, by which God taught His people concerning His grace and saving power. The first [type] is usually physical and the second [antitype] is usually spiritual.
- The rejecting of Joseph by his brothers is the type [physical] to the Jews antitype rejection of The Messiah kingdom [spiritual].
- The sacrifice of Isaac is the type [physical] of Christ death on the cross as the Ultimate Sacrifice, antitype [spiritual].
- Isaiah’s son Immanuel/ Mahershalalhashbaz [Isa 7:14; 8:3] is the physical type of a boy born to an Almeh [virgin/ young woman]; antitype being The Messiah’s birth.
Next Chapter: Daniel Chapter 2
January 18, 2010Posted by on
There is a school of hermeneutics called Dispensationalism that teaches there are different times periods in which God works differently with different peoples. Most of these teachers have 7 dispensations, but I have seen as many as 21. However, not all people who teach dispensations are dispensationalist.
We Historicists count 3 dispensations so far.
Please note: We do not believe that God changes the way He is working. We do not believe that His laws have passed away. God does not change but rather His plan is progressively being revealed.
These three dispensations are marked by the fact that they begin with large amounts of information about God’s plans and purposes being revealed along with many miracles. Over time less and less information is given until only a few people are hearing. The period ends with approximately 400 years of silence.
The first one started with Creation to Moses. Pre-Mosaic time with Adam, Noah, and Abraham, and Joseph being the central characters of this dispensation; from Joseph to Moses there was approx 400 years of silence.
The second dispensation started with Moses and the Law given and ended with the Messiah and the final destruction of The Temple. From Malachi to John the Baptist there was approx 400 years of silence. Interesting note; Moses was in the wilderness teaching the Law for 40 years and it took 40 years from the time of the Crucifixion to the final destruction of The Temple and with it the Sacrificial Code. Note also the disciples were teaching the Gospel and establishing “The Way”, Acts 24:14. By the end of this period all of the disciples were gone,with the exception of John who was still alive.
The Third dispensation began with Messiah and continues till this time. This dispensation usually called the Church Age or Kingdom Age. A better title for this present dispensation is from Rev. T. R Birks, he called it, The period of The Dispensation of Grace to the Gentiles. At the beginning there was a lot of teaching and excitement during the first 400 years, then tapering off, as you can imagine, during the Dark Ages. Occasionally you will note some little guy or group popping up to keep it alive, such as Peter Waldo, John Huss, John Wycliffe, and the Reformers ending approx with The Pilgrims. Since then we have experienced “the silence”.
We expect that a new dispensation is about to start. So following the format it should be heralded by copious amounts of information and performances of miracles. Do we have to specify that doesn’t mean Benny Hinn? And no, Borach Obama isn’t THE ONE. And no, an out-break of barking in services does not make the grade either.
It will probably take 40 years to assimilate the new information or teaching and we could really use those miracles as this world is a mess. Whether or not Messiah himself will return to give us this new revelation in God’s plan in the physical or spiritual way we do not know; only time will do the telling.
October 22, 2009Posted by on
THE MYSTERIES REVEALED
Interpreting the book of The Revelation is nearly impossible without being well acquainted with both the Cycle of Levitical Feasts and the Babylonian Mystery Religions. This book is riddled with their symbolic language. Thus it seems odd and out of place in our time. However, the people who lived in the first century Asia Minor would have had intimate knowledge of both. These two systems are juxtaposed in The Revelation in order to expose how inadequate the Mystery Religions were in assuring a good place in the life to come and how important the Levitical Feasts are.
Paul and others first worshiped with the local synagogues. New converts, both Jew and Gentile often worshipped in synagogues together until the second Jewish revolt (132AD). This meant that new believers received an education in Mosaic Law and the Levitical rituals. Of the 404 verses that make up the book fully two-thirds or 278 of them quote or allude to the Old Testament. As believers went out from the synagogues to establish new churches they carried with them this root of knowledge.[Rom 11:17-18] Without this integral understanding of the culture and the history they would not have been able to understand the Gospels, let alone something like the book of The Revelation. It is vital to obtain this information before attempting to interpret this book.
The Mystery Religions
Explaining the symbolic references in the Bible of things that were essentially pagan was not necessary in the early church as the church was surrounded by it. When John wrote the book of The Revelation, the center for the Mystery Religions was in Pergamos (in Asia Minor). A college had been established in Pergamos by the defeated Chaldeans (539BC), after the Medio-Persians took the Empire from the Babylonians. Hence, we have Christ’s admonishment that Pergamos was where Satan’s Seat resided. [Rev 2:13]
The Mystery Religions are simply the initiation rights performed by those seeking closer contact with one or more of the pagan gods of mythology. In joining a Mystery Religion it was believed that they were incurring favor with the god they were worshipping; thus ensuring a good place in the afterlife. Initiates worshipped the same gods as everyone else, but felt that they knew something extra that no one else knew. Thus, having an “in” with the gods that non-members did not have.
We know little about the day-to-day rituals of these Mystery Religions since in order to join, the initiates had to endure secret rituals. These were secret societies where initiates kept their eyes and mouths shut about what went on. To insure this silence, blood oaths were taken by initiates.
From the scant details that have survived we are able to piece together a certain amount of the history of these secret societies. Joiners first had to go through a confessional, in which they revealed all their personal history. Fear, that this information might be revealed, insured that what they did inside the order would remain hidden for all time. Ritual baptism, in nearby bodies of water, were common. After which, they would drink an intoxicating mix of wine, honey, wheat, and sometimes herbs, until their understanding was compromised and their passions were aroused. Only then are they prepared for the revealing of the Mystery. Little by little more information was imparted as more ceremonies were participated in.
Writings indicate that they developed sacred plays where the members acted out the lives of their gods. These ceremonies are always described with words such as; “drunken revelry” and “orgies”. At the time of the writing of The Revelation, the Mystery Religions were quite popular among the Romans. The Romans were attracted by their exotic oriental nature, even though the government considered them dangerously immoral and seditious.
Where did they come from?
It is on the fertile plane of the Euphrates Valley that the seeds of the apostasy were sown. It slowly germinated into a full-grown abandonment of the God of Noah. In its original form, this apostasy was simply the worship of Nimrod, his wife Semiramis, and her son Tammuz. Down through the ages it has spread to many places, and many names have been given to these three wanton sinners. But in essence they remain the same, an unholy trinity of Father, Mother, and Son.
To understand where they came from, it is needful to go all the way back to the flood. As men descended from the regions of Ararat, after the flood, the apostasy was already at work in their hearts regardless of the memory remaining of God’s judgment on the whole earth. Stories of a great flood and one man and his family being saved by building a boat reoccur throughout the world’s mythologies.
After the flood there was a time when the wild beasts of the earth must have multiplied far more rapidly than the human population. Men feared the dark woods and lonely places, and turned towards the safety of numbers. This fear kept them together. It was into this fearful condition that Nimrod came to save and protect the people by moving them into the walled cities that his wife, the beautiful Semiramis, had built [Gen. 10]. Then he went out to rid the world of the wild beasts and the monsters that plagued and frightened his people. This must have made him seem great in the eyes of less powerful men. The great Herculean hunter myths and legends are merely echoes and shadows of Nimrod’s own renowned exploits.
The Tower of Babel
Many mythologies tell of a time when men crawled along on the ground because the sky was too close to the earth. Apparently soon after the flood men felt that the awesome presence of God or heaven was too oppressive. Sinful man always finds God’s presence hard to endure. So a mighty hunter struggles to lift the sky up above the trees and then struggles to lift it above the mountains so that finally men can walk upright. This liberated the people and allowed them to walk free of the constraints of heaven. This is the mythological version of the Biblical Tower of Babel.
“Nimrod a mighty hunter before the LORD” [Gen 10:9]
is the mighty hunter who these mythologies grew up around. By making the tower of Babel the people separated themselves form God. They symbolically tried to push Him up and out of their lives. Now instead of direct confrontation with God they had a mediator, Nimrod (or Ninus as he is called in Babylonian chronologies) and his Tower. Man will readily rally to any one who can give the appearance of a doctrine that assures happiness and heaven without the need to change their heart or nature. Thus, Nimrod and his new religion became very popular.
FYI: Josephus records that the tower of Babel was constructed of burnt bricks and bitumen (tar) mortar to ensure that the tower was water proof in the event that God should send another flood. ANT. BK 1 Chap 5 Sec 3
Continuing the mythological story from an Egyptian point of view:
Setekh or Set, the god of deserts and oases, brings Osiris to court (in Egypt the unholy trinity is known as Osiris, Isis, and Horus). Osiris was judged apostate and executed. His body was then cut into pieces and Setekh scatters the parts of Osiris amongst the grain. Isis turned herself into a chicken and consumed all the grain; thus impregnating herself with the dead god. Isis then gave birth to a son, and presented him as his father reborn. In paganism Isis is both mother and wife of the man-child. This story of a god cut into pieces and scattered is universal throughout the world.
Setekh, apparently, was Noah’s son Shem and the god who was cut into pieces was Nimrod. Shem confronted with Nimrods apostasy must have put down this early form of the Babylonian Religion. It was a warning that anyone else who committed such a crime would have the same done to him or her. (Is 51:9; Job 9:13) The apostasy was forced underground. Hence they found the need within the societies for blood oaths and secrecy. As time passed the true faith in the God of Shem was lost.
Even though the mythologies have become corrupted from their original form they still carry the common thread of that original story.
Who was being worshiped?
Nimrod the founder of Babel discovered that in building the tower, he symbolically separated the people from God by pushing God and the heavens up and out of the way. The people felt that they were now free of God. This gained him the title of the Emancipator or Deliverer. In the Mystery Religions, Nimrod was transformed into the Father of all gods. He is also called Jupiter, Kronos, Zeus, the Horned one, or the Mighty one, and many more.
“In Egypt Osiris, for instance, was the moon, which came as a beautiful child each month and was devoured as the wasting “old moon” by the demon Set [Setekh]: he was the young god who was slain in his prime each year; he was at once the father, husband, and son of Isis; he was the Patriarch who reigned over men and became the Judge of the Dead; he was the spring sun; he was the Apes bull of Memphis, and the ram of Mendes; he was the reigning Pharaoh. In his fusion with Ra, who was threefold – Khepera, Ra, and Tum – he died each day as an old man; he appeared in heaven at night as the constellation Orion, which was his ghost, or was perhaps, rather the Sumerian Zi, the spiritual essence of Life. Osiris, resembled Tammuz, a god of many forms.” Mythology of Babylonian by, Donald A. Mackenzie page 297
Note: It is from Babylon that we get the beginnings of astronomy and astrology. They believed that the moon was the father of the sun and the stars. The ancients named the stars, constellations and planets after the gods and heroes of their mythologies.
Semiramis (although we are not sure exactly what her name was) was the model for the Great Mother Goddess. All paganism has a vague memory of the fall and curse. [Gen 3] The knowledge that a redeemer would be born of a woman is universal, as well as the knowledge that this redeemer would be an enemy of the serpent. This is the basis for all Mother Goddess cults. Semiramis’ great beauty and legendary lustfulness are central to her worshiper’s ceremonies. She was principally known as a fertility deity, and was worshiped with temple prostitution, child sacrifice, and orgies. This goddess is often represented with a turret on her head, for it is she who is the builder of fortifications. [Dan 11:38] Today she is making a comeback as the earth goddess Gaea.
“The Babylonians, in their popular religion, supremely worshiped a Goddess Mother and a Son, who was represented in pictures and in images as an infant or child in his mother’s arms. From Babylon, this worship of the Mother and the Child spread to the ends of the earth. In Egypt, the Mother and the Child were worshiped under the names of Isis and Osiris. In India, even to this day, as Isi and Iswara; in Asia, as Cybele and Deoius; in Pagan Rome, as Fortuna and Jupiter-purer, or Jupiter, the boy; in Greece, as Ceres, the Great Mother, with the babe at her breast, or as Irene, the goddess of Peace, with the boy Plutus in her arms; and even in Thibet, in China, and Japan, the Jesuit missionaries were astonished to find the counterpart of Madonna and her child as devoutly worshipped as in Papal Rome itself; Sing Moo, the Holy Mother in China, being represented with a child in her arms, and a glory around her, exactly as if a Roman Catholic artist had been employed to set her up.” The Two Babylons by Hislop page 20
The Egyptian Isis was the star Sirius, whose rising coincided with the beginning of the Nile inundation. Her first tear for the dead Osiris fell into the river on “the night of the drop”. The flood, which ensued, brought the food supply. Thus the star was not only the Great Mother of all. But the sustainer of all.”
Mythology of the Babylonian People page 296 Donald A Mackenzie
Tammuz is the child god, who in killing the great serpent, is killed by its bite. He was worshipped as the Mediator, and Lord of the Covenant, the Victim-man, and the Sin-bearer. He is both the husband and son of the mother goddess. From the very beginning the curse given to the serpent was known to all. One would come that would bruise the serpents head, and the serpent would bruise his heal. In attributing the character of the Messiah to Tammuz once again the pagan peoples had no need of God. [Gen 3:14-15]
It is plain to see why many pagans would welcome a religion that offered simple salvation and freedom from the past, an opportunity to become a new person, and hope for eternity. Who would not want to escape the enslavement of the gods and goddess’? Unfortunately, Satan doesn’t want to lose his little ones and so will fight to keep them. It wasn’t long before paganism entered the New Testament churches.
The Early Christian Community and Paganism
The apostle Paul wrote in II Cor 11:4 that the believers needed to be wary of those with another gospel other than that which had been delivered. John said that the spirit of anti-christ was already at work and that ultimately, the anti-christs would come from among the Christians. Heresies and false teachings [Titus 1:13; I Tim 1:3-5] were already working within the church.
Early on the church had to deal with two separate issues that would leave their mark on her for centuries. The first was the assimilation of pagan and heretical practices into their worship and beliefs. This assimilation was hard to avoid. Who can blame the early Christian for wanting to fit into their culture? For to openly claim Christianity was to risk persecution and death in the games of Rome. Throughout history many a Christian or Jew has faced certain death by standing firm for Christ and Christ alone or for the Bible and the Bible only as the final authority.
The second issue was the hierarchy of the clergy over the laity. The church like ancient Israel wanted a visible king. It’s much easier to listen to the voice of a king than to walk closely to your God. Unfortunately power begets power, and the clergy turned into a tyranny of self-righteousness and spiritual superiority. Many want someone else to make all the hard decisions for the group. Choosing leadership and setting rules for a group of people requires careful thought and much prayer. There are plenty who are willing to take on the responsibility and prestige of leadership but few who qualify and are called by God.
Paganism and Heresies
The culture of the Roman Empire was pagan. Sophisticated pagans were accustomed to allegorically reinterpreting the myths of the gods. Likewise, Gnostic sects allegorically reinterpreted the Christian story and became a rival form of Christianity infiltrating the church community. Drawing from a variety of religious practices such as the Mystery Religions; occultism mixed with astrology, magic, Cabala and Platonism they claimed to have secret revelations giving them spiritual superiority. All heresy boasts of superior spiritual perception.
One example of how paganism infiltrated the early church is the veneration of idols in worship. Paganism always requires a physical, visual representation of the gods. However, the Ten Commandments clearly prohibit this. Christians believing that one should not defile the dead as the pagan Romans did, with their funeral pyres, built the catacombs as burial chambers. As persecution increased the early church began to find it necessary to hide out in these same catacombs. Congregates began to make references to the dead surrounding them. As time went on they would talked to the dead and even prayed to them. They also made statues of the dearly departed. By 165AD there were numerous monuments to martyrs of the Christian faith. In time the sites of these monuments were enlarged to include small basilicas, which gradually became shrines devoted to the worship of dead saints. These practices became so prevalent that in 375AD the Roman Church codified the worship or veneration of angels and dead saints and the use of images.
When Constantine made Christianity the state religion, the old pagan temples became churches overnight. The pagan idols within them were renamed for various Saints. The pagan Mother and Child deitie’s names were replace with Mary and Christ Child. During the fourth century the Christians began including in their calendar commemoration days for martyrs. Thus developing a martyr cult. In the fifth century, the popes embarking on urban renewal erected basilicas in honor of martyrs and other saints. The function of these basilicas changed the focus of worship away from God towards the dead saints. Asking the dead saints to intercede for the living once again placed a buffer between man and God. The pantheon was back and direct access to God was not needed and eventually was denied by the clergy.
An early development in the life of the church was the ministry of bishops, presbyters, and deacons. They became the early churches decision makers. The bishops claimed the sole right to ordain a person to minister. These appointments were so powerful that the process was not always peaceful.
Because of the combative nature of the Bishops, Irenaeus promoted the idea of Roman control over the succession of bishops. Thus was born the idea that Rome was the foundation for apostolic authority. The earliest known example of the Roman bishops exercising jurisdiction over another bishop was in Asia Minor. Easter was being celebrated on two different dates. Bishop Victor of Rome, 189-198AD, threatened those in Asia Minor with excommunication if the ways of Rome were not adhered to. Around 254-257AD, Bishop Stephen of Rome argued with Bishop Cyprian of Carthage, over differing theologies of baptism. Stephen invoked Mat 16:18 (Peter as the Rock of Authority for the Church) to justify his authority over the Church in Carthage. Because of contention between the bishops, at the Council of Nicea in 325AD Constantine gave the bishop of Rome the authority to veto all other bishop appointments.
Around the middle of the fourth century Christians began to Christianize Pagan festivals. Examples of this can be seen in the making of Saturnalia into Christmas, and the Spring Fertility Festival of Astarte (Ishtar) into Easter.
FYI: The pagan Romans had many procession days that are still held by the Church of Rome as Rogations days – A procession held on April 25 is just the Old Roman lustration of the crops. It consisted of leaving Rome by the Flaminian Gate and proceeding by way of the Milvian Bridge to a sanctuary at the fifth mile-stone of the Via Claudia, where a dog and a sheep were sacrificed to avert blight, (robigo, wheat rust) from the crops. The Roman Church follows this same path as far as the Milvian Bridge where it turns off and returns to St. Peter’s where Mass is held to pray for protection of the wheat.