A Bible lesson on paganism in the church

Sargo’s Surprise

A candid discussion with an ancient Babylonian

Sargo, the Babylonian, lounges by the Hanging Gardens, day­dreaming of the far distant future. What will the 21stcentury be like, he wonders. “What if I could go to those future lands spoken of in the legends, to see how people live 4,000 years from now?” he fantasizes,chomping on a pork chop.

“Will the great god Bel have allowed the people to be powerful? Will Earth Mother Beltis have protected them through the years, and will Ishtar have blessed them with many children to sacri­fice? Or will future faiths have forgotten our Babylonian beliefs?”

No, Sargo, you would be pleasantly surprised to know that were you alive today you would not feel all that uncomfortable or unfamiliar with the state of religion in the 21st century. In fact, you may even be moved tell the modern church­goer, “You worship much like I do.”

Sargo, your Babylonian beliefs have become the standard for nearly all the world’s religions. They are evident the world over in a wide variety of religions and practices.

Hindus practice it, still keeping your sacred cow sacred, and still honoring the Trin­ity – except they changed the names to Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva. They haven’t lightened up on your belief in immortality of the soul, either, just gave it their own spin in the wheel of samsara.

Your story of Nimrod and Tammuz taught them well. In fact, the Hindu doctrine of reincarnation is a hot item in parts of Europe and America. It’s called New Age. I know, Sargo, it is not new. I realize they should give credit where credit is due. After all, you Babylonians are the true masters of all things heathen.

The fastest growing religion today is Islam. It was started by a man, just as Nimrod founded your faith, Sargo. Mohammed gleaned many of his be­liefs from Judaism and another religion called Christianity. You’ll find essentials of your revered Babylonian mys­teries in these religions as well.

Your notion of a gloomy, dark world where evil people go at death and burn forever still is very much alive. Here again lives that immortal soul idea you are so famous for. Your faith in many deities has an outlet in some faiths today with their venera­tion of saints.

Sargo Would Be Very Comfortable

What day is it? you ask. This is Mon­day, Sargo. You get it? Mon-day/Moon Day, the day your forefathers set aside for moon worship. It still comes right af­ter Sunday, the day your ancients wor­shiped the sun-god Shamas.

All the other days of the week still reflect heathen worship, like Tuesday, the day the deity Tiu was hon­ored. And Wednesday, named after Woden, a Celtic deity who came later in Europe. Then there’s Thor’s day (Thursday), Frigg’s day (Friday), and of course, Saturn’s day (Saturday).

No, Sargo, most people today don’t worship the planets as you Babylonians did, but they do read horoscopes where they seek their futures from the stars – in the same manner your fathers did.

Fortune-telling by the stars is so popular today that even a former First Lady consulted an astrologer before advising her husband.

I believe in the Bible. The Bible con­demns prophesying through the stars.

And the Bible doesn’t name the days of the week either, it only numbers them, except for the seventh, which is called the Sabbath.

What’s the Bible, you ask? It’s the Book inspired by the true Almighty Yahweh and on which Christianity is claimed to be based. Christianity is a major religion that has spread around the world. Its worshipers claim to wor­ship the true Heavenly Father.

You may be surprised that they call Him God. Yes, that’s right. It’s not a name. And I agree that it is rather odd that Christianity seems to be the only major religion in all of history that doesn’t honor the One it worships by name.

Pardon me? …Oh of course, their Mighty One does indeed want to be called by His Name, just as you do yours. He said over and over in His inspired Word that His Name is Yahweh, and even sealed it in the Third Commandment. But THEY don’t think it is important.They say, “He knows who I mean.”

I agree, it IS very strange – and very confusing. But there are many as­pects about this faith that you would find familiar, Sargo.

For instance, if you could see its temples, called churches, you would recognize the tall spires most of them have … Yes, you’re right. They are a carryover of the Asherah you had in Babylon. This is what a scholar says about the asherah:

“Originally a tree, symbolical of the ‘tree of life,’ it was an object of rever­ence and veneration. Then came the perversion of the earlier idea which simply honoured the origin of life; and it was corrupted and debased into the [male] organ of procreation, which was symbolized by the form and shape given to the Asherah. It was the phal­lus image of Isaiah 57:8, and the im­age of the male, Ezekiel 16: 17.” (Com­panion Bible, Appendix 42)

Babylonian Days Prosper

This religion worships on the venerable day of the sun, just as you and your forefathers did, Sargo, when you wor­shiped sun deities. Strangely, their own Bibles command that they worship on the seventh day, not the first day of the week (Ex. 20:10). But because they wanted to break clean from another faith known as Judaism, they decided on their own to change their day of worship.

They chose Sunday because that is the day their converts from pagan Babylonian religions were accustomed to keeping holy. A king even enforced it. His name was Constantine. And they have been observing Sunday ever since.

But there is much more.

They observe a holiday each year in honor of your goddess Ishtar. It still sounds similar: Easter. Many of them even are aware that Ishtar was the Babylonian queen deity of love and fer­tility, yet they still paint and hide eggs, symbols of life and reproduction, and flood this observance with rabbits, also symbols of fertility.

They claim they observe it because the Savior was resurrected on Sunday morning, although Scripture says He was already gone by the time Sunday sunrise rolled around. Anyway, they still honor where this obser­vance really comes from – with your now symbolic rabbits and eggs.

You Babylonians certainly were big on worship of sex. But is that something to be proud of, Sargo? The big paradox is that the Bible condemns mixing these rites with True Worship. “Learn not the way of the heathen,” Jeremiah 10:2 reads, but they continue practicing your pagan traditions of worship anyway. They cite something about do­ing it for the children’s sake.

In Ezekiel, the One they seek to worship says He will have no mercy on those who practice sunrise worship rites:

“And He brought me into the inner court of Yahweh’s house, and, behold, at the door of the temple of Yahweh, between the porch and the altar, were about 25 men, with their backs toward the temple of Yahweh, and their faces toward the east: and they worshiped the sun toward the east… and they put the branch [asherah] to their nose… Therefore shall I deal in fury…” (8:16- 18)

Modern Holly Folly

Amazing, isn’t it, how all these rites of your influential heathen faith are so entrenched in today’s worship? But I’ve barely scratched the surface, Sargo. Where your religion really shines today is in the annual extravaganza called Christ­mas.

The biggest promoters are the merchants, who have kept this observance alive and growing in order to reach their annual sales quota. They claim to make half of their annual sales in the last two months of the year before Christmas, when gifts are exchanged and people go into debt for the next year. So they start Christ­mas advertising in September.

The Bible prophesies that the mer­chants of the earth will “have waxed rich through the abundance of her [Babylon’s] delicacies,”Revelation 18:3. Amazingly accurate, isn’t it? Never so accurate as in this the biggest shopping extravaganza the world has ever seen.

You’ll be more amazed at how Christmas rites are so very like those in ancient Babylon.

Some practices may have changed cosmetically through the years as they left Babylon and diffused through the Mithraic cults and into northern Eu­rope, but the essence still shines through.

For instance, you know about the myth of Nimrod, symbolized by a tree, and how he became deified and was “reincarnated” after being cut down. Well, the fable is still celebrated in De­cember with a yule log. At Xmas the burning log represents the glowing sun­ god Mithras returning to the skies af­ter the winter solstice.

In Egyptian worship Nimrod reap­peared as the palm tree. In Rome and northern Europe he was the fir or evergreen that is always green and seemingly immortal.

One source put it this way, “Now the Yule Log is the dead stock of Nimrod, deified as the sun-god, but cut down by his enemies; the Christmas tree is Nimrod redivivus – the slain god cometo life again,” The Two Babylons, p. 98. It continues, “This entirely accounts for the putting of the Yule Log into the fire on Christmas-eve, and the appearance of the Christmas-tree the next morning,” p. 97.

You pagans were always quite con­cerned when your source of life, the sun, appeared less and less each day at the end of the year. At the winter sol­stice, about December 25, you cel­ebrated the return of the unconquered sun as it made its cyclical appearance once more and promised springtime re­newal of life from the dead of winter.

In honor of the solar deity, even though they may not realize it, people at Christmas today decorate their ever­green trees with bulbs and balls sym­bolic of the returning sun, as well as to honor the renewal of life. Then they stand back and virtually worship this tree idol, placing gift offerings beneath it.

Yes, Sargo, without hesitation you could say that Christmas is indeed a gift from you sun-worshiping Babylonians. Some people today still claim December 25 is the day the Savior was born,but many know bet­ter.

In her book, All About American Holidays, Maymie R. Krythe writes, “The exact date of [the Messiah’s] birth is not known; and during the first two or three centuries little note, apparently,was taken of the anniversary. For church officials opposed such celebra­tions as savoring of paganism,” p. 254.

Early American colonists detested the Christmas observance, realizing its true origins. Associated Press writer Peter Coy writes, “Celebrating Christmas in Mas­sachusetts three centuries ago was risky: Anyone who took the day off from work could be fined 5 shillings. When George Washington crossed the Delaware River the night of Dec. 25, 1776, he could count on catching the Hessian soldiers drunk and sound asleep after a day of carousing. But, for Washington’s men, Christmas was just another day. And it wasn’t until 1836 that the first state – Alabama – de­clared Christmas a holiday.”

Christmas is also rooted in the Ro­man Saturnalia, a sister heathen festival in honor of Saturn, deity of agriculture. According to Funk and Wagnall’s Standard Refer­ence Encyclopedia, “The customs of the Saturnalia were later, in Christian times, blended with those on January 1, the celebration of the New Year, when it was also the practice to give presents, and much of the traditional merrymak­ing of the Christmas season seems to have developed from the earlier pagan festival,” Saturnalia, p. 7825.

Passing on the Mysteries?

You see, Sargo, other cultures also borrowed from your mysteries, and ours borrowed from and built on theirs as well as yours. The Roman counterpart to your Tammuz was Mithras, the sun deity. He supposedly hatched from an egg on De­cember 25.

Because Mithraism was one of the last of your mystery cults to reach the West, it became a rival of Christianity, with which it was contemporary. Many of the practices of Mithraism were picked up by Christian worshipers.

The book, The Golden Bough, says about the blending of Mithraic rites with Christmas nativity customs, “In the Julian Calendar the twenty-fifth of De­cember was reckoned the winter solstice, and it was regarded as the Nativity of the sun, because the day begins tolengthen and the power of the sun to in­crease that turning point of the year. Now Mithras was regularly identified by his worshipers with the Sun, the Uncon­quered Sun, as they called him; hence his nativity also fell on the twenty-fifth of December,” p. 416.

What is the harm in observing holidays your forefathers began? you ask. Well, Sargo, your pagan back­ground allows for the worship of nu­merous “gods.” Naturally, these “gods” don’t mind sharing your worship be­cause they don’t exist.

But Almighty Yahweh does exist, and because of Him you exist. He says that if you seek salvation – to live for­ever in His Kingdom – then you must obey and worship only Him.

Here are His exact words: “I am Yahweh: that is My Name: and My glory will I not give to another, neither My praise to graven images,” Isaiah 42:8. He also said through the Apostle Paul, “Take heed unto yourself, and unto the doctrine: continue in them: for in doing this you shall both save yourself, and them that hear you,” 1Timothy 4:16.

We can’t compromise True Wor­ship, Sargo. The Roman Empire toler­ated many different religions because they did not understand truth, and what they were really after anyway was political unity. So they forfeited truth whenever expedient to appease their subjects. And compromise is what began the fall of man in Eden.

You see, being a follower of the one true Mighty One Yahweh means enjoying a close, father-child union with Him. He actually lives in us by His Holy Spirit power. He says, “You are the Temple of the living Elohim; as Elohim has said, ‘I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their Elohim, and they shall be My people.’ Wherefore, ‘come out from among them, and be separate,’ says Yahweh, ‘and touch not the unclean thing,’ “ 2Corinthians 6:16-18.

If I worship other deities in the popular customs, even though main­taining that I’m really worshiping the true Creator Yahweh, then I can no longer be a son of Yahweh. He makes that clear. It’s like giving up my fam­ily and all it stands for and going to live at the neighbor’s house.

What would you think if your child did that to you, Sargo? It is the same with the Father Yahweh, the only true Mighty One of the universe. When we accept false worship and we compromise the truth, it is the same as leaving our Father.

Think about that, Sargo.

by Elder Alan Mansager

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Posted in Paganism in Modern Holidays.

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John

You didn’t answer anything of worth to the one question all ask.

What is true sabbath and which day should we all use as sabbath if every day is dedicated to evil?