The Beginning of Paganism

I call Nimrod the wolf spider because the old spider (Satan) used him to introduce paganism to the world. Paganism is having an inordinate passionate relationship (a love affair) with God’s creation, at the expense of the invisible Creator. God tells us to enjoy His creation but not to love it in an excessive way and certainly not to worship it. I get it! I really enjoy God’s outdoors and have all my life. The overwhelming feeling of freedom, being alone attached to a tree high in the mountains overwhelmed by the sights and sounds of God’s creation. Then hearing God’s still small voice speaking through it all saying, “Do not love the world nor the things in the world” (Jn. 2:15). In fact, God’s creation sheds incredible light upon His creative genius. The faithful cycles of the growing seasons glorify Him – witnessing to His faithfulness filling hearts with food and gladness drawing people to Him (Acts. 14:16-17).

Paganism deflects this witness by drawing the attention from the Creator to the creation. Paganism is the belief that all visible creation came from an invisible union of unseen gods and goddesses (great spirits) through natural and supernatural processes. Pagans grow to love what they consider the handiwork of this relationship: the winds, creeks, rivers, seas, oceans, mountains, trees, flowers, insects, birds, fish, dogs, and cats. It was not a great leap for the early earthlings to believe that the earth, the sun, moon, and stars also came to be through the very same naturalistic method. Ironically, the truth is just the opposite. The universe – the sun, moon, and stars –  speak not of gods, but of the living God. They witness to the world of God’s creative power and genius (Rom. 1:18-22). There is no language where their words are not heard (Psa. 19:1-4). God stamps His image upon everyone, giving them the ability to see His faithful work in the night sky and hear the voice of creative genius as His stars speak. And for those who cannot see or hear, God places within them a conscience and His law stamped in their hearts. Together they bring into fallen minds His existence. This becomes a silent but clear repetitive testimony to His being and His faithfulness drawing people to Himself (Rom. 2:14-16). The wolf spider distorts all of this deflecting attention away from the Creator. 

The wolf spider became a mighty hunter in defiance of the Lord (Gen. 10:8-9). He developed a passion for God’s great outdoors. He was a man’s man. He found a way to fuel his pride and exercise his power though the pursuit of game. God knew that his excessive craving was going to lead to a rebellion. God’s clear plan was for the people to scatter throughout the world and to become His witnesses. Nimrod may have become a household name because of the fame he gained from his hunting expeditions, and the source of food that he provided. It is well within the possibility that he fed hundreds of people, not to mention the excitement that he generated in the kinds of animals that he brought in. The population at this point was in the thousands – not the millions. The families of the earth were just 100 years removed from Noah’s leaving the ark, so Ham, Shem, and Japheth and their families had repopulated the earth for at most one hundred years. This wolf spider could have easily become the favorite son of all the people. As mentioned earlier, he also had skill in architecture. He built Babel, Erech, Accad, and Calneh, in the land of Shinar. From that land he went to Assyria and built Nineveh, Rehoboth Ir, Calah, and Resen between Nineveh and Calah (that is the principal city)” (Gen. 10:10-12). It is interesting that God referred to these cities as “the beginning of his kingdom” (Gen. 10:10). This means that God recognized this wolf spider as a king, and evidently so did the people.

The wolf spider led the people to build a tower to reach into the heavens so they could feel in closer touch with creation – the sun, moon, and the stars. His kingdom was destined to become the Babylonian kingdom, the first kingdom on the flood ravaged earth. Babylon and its famous tower became the capital city of paganism and the worship of God’s creation soon became the dominant world religion. The old spider was well on his way to holding sway over the entire earth (1 Jn. 5:19). 

Legend says that the wolf spider (Nimrod) married a woman named Semiramis. The male wolf spider had a mate. They had a child named “Tammuz.” There is historical evidence that this myth contains at least some element of truth. There are hotels in Alexandria, Egypt, and Athens, Greece, today, named after this woman. Semiramis claimed that Tammuz was the virgin-born fulfillment of the “seed of the woman” prophecy in Genesis 3:15. Satan counterfeits the work of God. Tammuz was said to be gored by a wild boar and killed. Amazingly, Tammuz is mentioned in the Bible. God reminded Ezekiel of what the people of Israel were doing. The elders were secretly worshipping pagan gods. They were thinking that God did not see them. God asked Elijah to turn and see women at the door of the north gate of God’s temple, and to Elijah’s dismay, women were sitting there, “weeping for Tammuz.” They may have heard the rumor that Tammuz had been killed (Eze. 8:12–14). Legend says that after forty days of weeping and prayer, the child was miraculously raised from the dead. A counterfeit resurrection! This supposedly happened on the feast of the goddess Ishtar, the Babylonian goddess of fertility. Ever wonder why colored eggs, rabbits, and baby chickens became mysteriously mixed with the celebration of the resurrection of Jesus Christ? Blessings!

 

 

“Let Us Build for Ourselves a City”

The family of Noah became seventy nations and began to refill the earth. I am abruptly changing metaphors. I called Satan in our last post – the wolf spider. He now becomes “the old spider.” This old spider’s webs of deceit continued and flourished through a man named “Nimrod.” I picture Nimrod as being the greatest and earliest human representative of Satan’s ability to hold sway over this earth even until today (1 Jn. 5:19). That’s a heavy thought! For this reason, I am transferring Satan’s former name as the wolf spider, to Nimrod. Nimrod’s name (now called the wolf spider) means “let us rebel.” Noah’s families were moving out fulfilling God’s plan to multiply and spread out over the earth. Until the wolf spider put the brakes on! This wolf spider must have been a very powerful charismatic man, the first to lead all the people in rebellion against God.

The wolf spider’s notoriety began with the words “Nimrod (wolf spider) began to be a mighty one on the earth” (Gen. 10:7). “Mighty one” means that here was a dominant human specimen. He was evidently a very powerful man set apart from the ordinary. The reason for his “mighty one” status was his ability as a hunter. “He was a mighty hunter before the Lord; therefore, it is said, Like Nimrod (wolf spider), the mighty hunter before the Lord” (Gen. 10:8). The Hebrew word “before” can be translated “in defiance of the Lord.” He defied God by his rebellion. The old spider had the wolf spider under his total control.

This wolf spider reminds me of another Bible character with the same mighty hunter resume. His name was Esau. Remember that Esau – Jacob’s brother – was a man of the field, who was said to be a skillful hunter (Gen. 25:27). Like the wolf spider he loved the rugged outdoors, fishing and hunting; and he was good at it. He could cook the game very well. He made a very tasty venison stew that became his dad, Isaac’s, favorite. Esau became Isaac’s favorite son for this very reason. But Jacob was a mama’s boy (Gen. 25:28). It would also be reasonable to assume that Esau became more popular with the world. But his downside – like the wolf spider– was that he had a secular worldview. He loved this world and the things in the world (1 Jn. 2:15). Esau sold his birthright – that which tied him to God as the spiritual leader – for a bowl of stew. Why? He was hungry!

Recall the story! Esau smelled the stew and asked Jacob for a bowl, delicious venison stew. Jacob knew Esau’s worldly bent. He seized on it. He made Esau a deal. Sell me your firstborn birthright, and the stew is yours. I’m thinking, what? No one could be that foolish. I would have failed to understand the depth of Esau’s love for this world. Esau’s response is well known. “What good is that birthright to me if I am about to die from hunger?” He was speaking foolishly! He made plainly known that he had no love for God; no divine worldview. It was the Holy Spirit’s way of letting the reader know where Esau’s heart was. It was not with God (Gen. 25:29-32). Esau despised his birthright (Gen. 25:33).

I think of the wolf spider as an Esau on steroids – He was probably much more the physical specimen, much more the hunter, and much more the food provider. And he, no doubt, mixed it with laughter and celebration. When he went hunting, he always came back with game.  Nimrod (wolf spider) became a household name. The folks became familiar with the animals that he brought in and the stories he had to tell. There may have been deer, elk, bear, game birds, quail, pheasants, and various species of fish and more. The wolf spider also, no doubt, acquainted the people with nature. He told captivating stories of his hunts, beautiful sunsets, beautiful trees, flowers, and eye-catching landscapes – the mountains, the valleys, the rivers, and the streams, all having a seductive appeal that are pleasing to the eyes. The wolf spider liked who he had become and stayed where there was plenty of game.

God did not tell him to find a place where he could make a name for himself and settle down. This wolf spider in his rebellious state became the first architect leading the people to build a city – a large city. He said, “Let us build for themselves a city (Babylon).” He had become so popular that the people fully trusted him and followed him, totally forgetting that God had told them to spread out. Then they said to one another, “Come, let us make bricks and bake them thoroughly.” They had brick for stone and asphalt for mortar. And they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city, and a tower whose top is in the heavens; let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be scattered abroad over the face of the whole earth” (Gen. 11:3). The descriptive list – us, we, a name for ourselves – indicate that pride and power were now in total control of their actions – permanently!

Godless culture is conceived and crafted primarily in cities. Cities become fertile fields for the planting of the seeds of satanic lust patterns; unleashed and, for the most part, unrestrained. Every evil vice known to man shines in the city lights. Modern western cities are where we find “the cultural elites.” They are the remarkably rich, exceedingly educated class of those who eventually determine culture for the masses. These are the people who write the words that we read, make the movies that we watch, and become the strength of the media that determines the news that we listen to. For these reasons, they are very powerful. Large metropolitan cities become the designers and distributors of a fallen culture. What happens in cities eventually reaches the rest of us. Rural county seats do not influence cities with their conservative morality, but rather the cities influence the rural areas with their liberal immorality.

The wolf spider also became the first NASA astronaut because he was the first to “reach for the stars.” He told the people to join him in building a tower (Babel) whose top will reach into heaven, lest we become scattered abroad” (Gen. 11:4). The people followed his leadership by growing to love the world and the things in the world; expressing their Adamic lusts to worship God’s creation – the animals, the trees, the flowers, the mountains, the rivers; oh, the seductive beauty of it all; and they were happy to join him in his star trek adventure to become closely acquainted with the sun, the moon, and the stars – beginning to love God’s creation rather than the Creator (Rom. 1:24-25). The wolf spider built the mighty city of Babylon and the gigantic tower in the center marked it well. He soon built other cities which became known as – the Babylonian empire in Shinar (Gen. 10:10-12). Blessings!

 

The Deception of the Angel of Light

We left our pondering posts with the possibility that God is closing the window of freedom in America. I say possibility because we do not know the future. In fact, God may be opening an even larger window. I am not a prophet nor the son of a prophet (Amos 7:14). It would be wise to consider what we know for sure from God’s Word. We absolutely know that the Lord Jesus Christ will ultimately be glorified. All the light in the entire universe will finally be shined upon Him (Rom. 11:36; Eph. 3:21; 2 Tim. 4:18). We know the end from the beginning (Isa. 46:10). We must know the plans of our enemy! It is difficult for believers to tell the good guys from the bad guys. The reason? It is not as easy as contrasting good versus evil, but good versus good. Satan is a master at using human good to accomplish his plans. He transforms himself into an angel of light and his ministers transform themselves into ministers of righteousness whose end shall be according to their works (2 Cor. 11:13-14). This is when life gets complicated.

God has not given us night vision eyes to see in the darkness in order to tell the difference, but He has given us His Word to teach us and His Spirit to guide us (Jn. 16:13-14). It is this knowledge and leadership that gives us discernment, allowing us to navigate Satan’s darkness. Let’s look at what we know.

Turning to the words of a psalm writer, we read, “I said to the boastful, ‘Do not deal boastfully [arrogance],’ and to the wicked, ‘Do not lift up the horn [power)]. Do not lift up your horn on high; Do not speak with a stiff neck [over confidence].’ For exaltation comes neither from the east nor from the west nor from the south. But God is the Judge: He puts down one and exalts another” (Psa. 75:4-7). God is the sovereign king over all that is. He raises up nations and puts down nations. It is His call! Sovereignty means that God created and controls every part of the angelic realm and every part of the human realm. Nations rise and fall at His will.

David said that God’s kingdom rules over all (Psalm 103:9). Every atom in this entire universe at every moment is under His command. There are times when history seems to be fractured, split into many moving pieces. We are living in such a time right now. Satan appears to be running freely, corrupting everything in his path. Conflict is raging right here, right now. Cities are filled with anarchy. No matter what the politicians promise, this insanity rages. Leaders cry for peace, but there is no peace. Conflict will continue in one form or another until the end of time. But there is never a time when God is not in control. Nebuchadnezzar “blessed the Most High and praised and honored Him who lives forever: For His dominion is an everlasting dominion [worldwide dominance] and His kingdom [rule] is from generation to generation” (Dan. 4:34).

No matter what human government rules, God is in charge. He laughs at man’s futile attempts to rule (Psa. 2:4). “All the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing; He does according to His will in the army of heaven [the angelic realm] and among the inhabitants of the earth [the human realm]. No one can restrain His hand [ prevent Him from doing His will] or say to Him, ‘What have You done?’” (Daniel 4: 35). No human can put God on trial and figure Him out. No matter how life may appear, God dominates.

There is another fact that we know for sure. “We know that we are of God, and the whole world lies under the sway of the wicked one”(1 Jn. 5:19). John exposed a serious conundrum in this small verse. Those who are “of God” are in fact living under the constant influence of the wicked one. A part of our connection to fallen Adam is that we were dead in trespasses and sins (Eph. 2:1), born into this world as children of wrath (Eph. 2:3); once darkness (Eph .5:8); under the power of darkness (Col. 1:13; 1 Pet. 2:9); and all under the power of Satan (Acts 26:18). “Dead in trespasses and sin,” “children of wrath,” “darkness,” “under the power of darkness,” “under the power of Satan,” are all horrible words. “Made alive,” “taken from,” “delivered into,” “called out of this world” “called into His marvelous light,” “into the kingdom of the Son of His love” are wonderful words! We once were there but now we are here! Note the fact that God does it. God delivers us. God calls us out. God calls us from Satan’s dominion of darkness and births us into the light of His glorious kingdom. Believers are born physically into Satan’s domain and born again into God’s kingdom.

We need to chart the course of how we got to where we are today. Let’s first describe the origin of Satan’s dominion of darkness. I suffer from a mild case of arachnophobia. I say mild because I do not fear spiders that I can see. I can usually distinguish the bad guys from the good guys. Although difficult to do, I often let the good guys live (unless they are in my house, my bed, my chair, or on me), and because my youngest grandson’s loves “Charlotte’s Web” and has compelled me to watch it many times; and his favorite song was “Itsy Bitsy Spider.” It is the spiders that hide in the most unsuspecting places that are the problem. I am intrigued by an interesting arachnid called the wolf spider. The characteristics of the wolf spider perfectly mirror Satan’s Babylonian religious system. How? Wolves are instantly recognized predators worldwide. They are found in North America, Europe, Asia, the Middle East, and Africa. Young children of every language group quickly learn about wolves and are intrigued by them. Wolves are good hunters, and they like to hunt at night. Wolf spiders live up to that name because they are also robust and agile night hunters with excellent, reflective eyesight. Satan is also an agile hunter, and he loves the darkness (1 Pet. 5:8). He is the angel of darkness, and that is where he thrives (Acts 26:18). Blessings!

 

Japheth is Still Dwelling in the Tents of Shem

YHWH is the living God, and He is the Divine Architect of all human history. In fact, He declared the way history will end, from the very beginning (Isa. 46:8-10). Let’s connect some dots today. Noah’s prophetic glimpse of “Blessed be the LORD God of Shem” points to the founding of the Jewish nation – the coming of Messiah – Christ’s death and resurrection – and the delivery and spread of the gospel – and the promise of Christ’s coming kingdom (Gen. 9:26). The prophecy of Japheth’s dwelling in the tents of Shem – another small glimpse – points to the many ways that Japheth will help Shem accomplish his goals. Both prophecies (Shem and Japheth) are still alive and active (Gen. 9:27). In our last post we left Israel in God’s woodshed – smelling the smoke of their burning temple, battered, scattered and struggling under His fifth cycle of discipline (Lev. 26:33). Israel may have forgotten God, but God will never forget her – never.

Assisted by a pair of Japheth’s feet (Greece and Rome) stepping into the tent of Shem, the Jews had sufficient help to get Jesus Christ to the cross and to an empty tomb. These same countries assisted in giving the gospel the inertia necessary to move throughout the ancient world. For their part in rejecting and killing the Messiah, God allowed Satan to destroy the Jews along with their magnificent temple leaving them hated and homeless in Satan’s world. No people on the earth have been persecuted like the Jews. As the Jews began to disperse throughout the world, the truth of the gospel was turning the world upside down. Satan slowed this move by ramming paganism like a battering ram headlong into the growing church – confusing the gospel and silencing its voice.

During the medieval age of darkness, the public gospel was plunged into a sea of religious confusion for one-thousand years (476-1453). Japheth once again put his foot into Shem’s flailing tent – coming to the rescue. The public gospel amazingly reappeared in Germany – ground zero of Japheth’s homeland. Amazing! This should come as no surprise to the reader by now. The fires of the gospel of God’s grace quickly burned from Germany through England and the surrounding countries of Scotland, Wales, France, and Spain. The gospel, standing on the backs of many martyrs, found its way to the outer banks of America. God’s truth will never be chained.

I believe that there are two amazing reasons that God raised up America, and both are connected to Shem and Japheth, and Abraham’s cursing and blessing promise (Gen. 9; Gen. 12). The first reason is to be used of God to give the Jews a homeland. Over a century ago, on December 6, 1916, Great Britain’s prime minister David Lloyd Jones introduced the Balfour Declaration. Jones believed that the Jews deserved a homeland. The declaration was designed to restore Israel to their God-promised land of Palestine. Through a series of absolutely incredible historical events – all having to happen in mysterious yet miraculous ways – the document was written and signed off as a small part of British foreign policy (Japheth’s toe in Shem’s tent). Prime Minister Jones knew that is was not yet a done deal. It needed some special help. On October 6, 1917, president Woodrow Wilson signed the declaration, putting the powerful political clout of the USA behind the plan. It was not a popular political move for Wilson, but he did it for the Jews. Japheth strikes once more! Prime Minister Jones said that in his opinion the Balfour Declaration would have never passed without that single signature. It passed through the United Nations in 1922, and on May 14, 1948 Israel became a nation again.

Almost every president in American history from that time until now, has stood with Israel. This country has provided the financial support and military technology necessary to keep a democratic presence in the Middle East. This has been done at some peril, making the USA a target for terrorism. In my opinion based on God’s blessing and cursing promise to Abraham, God began to make America great in the eyes of the world – in this patriot’s opinion “the greatest.” Paul’s words also silently echo in the back of my mind: “I say then, have they [the Jews] stumbled that they should fall? Certainly not! But through their fall, to provoke them to jealousy, salvation has come to the Gentiles. Now if their fall isriches for the world, and their failure riches for the Gentiles, how much more their fullness” (Rom. 11:11-12). The full story of Israel is yet to be told.

The other reason that this country has prospered greatly is also connected to Japheth. God opened a huge window for the movement of God’s powerful gospel of grace around the modern world. Because of our freedom to publicly practice religion, the gospel breeze just keeps blowing through this window. God raised up seminaries and Christian colleges, training thousands upon thousands of missionaries who are being equipped and sent to every language group on this planet. Wow! The gospel has burned hot here for years and years. But alas, the window is slowly being shut. We now live in a generation that has forgotten Joseph. Blessings!

 

Israel’s Promise of some Real Estate

Noah’s prophecy concerning the LORD God of Shem is tied to a physical seed, the Jews, and a physical land, the land of Palestine. Many sincere believers today want to disassociate the Jews from this land saying that the land promised by God is spiritual in nature. Taking the Word of God in its literal sense, the Bible refers to a literal land, the land called Palestine. The simple words in the original promise, “to a land that I will show you,” cannot be minimized (Gen. 12:1). God called Abram to go to a land. This land is forever tied to our spiritual heritage in Jesus Christ and to the coming King and His kingdom. In fact, the land is at the very heart of the promise.  

 

God assured Abraham that it was a material land. He promised him “all the land which you see” (Gen. 13:15). Later, after Lot had chosen the beautiful parts of the land, God told Abraham to walk through the parts that remained and said that it would all belong to him (Gen. 13:17). It is always best to let God choose. The almighty God, Lord of heaven and earth, does not give and then take away. His gift is forever.  Not only did God promise Abram that He would give him a land, but He said that He would give it to him and “his descendants forever.” This promise is based solely upon the decree of God with no hidden attachments or addendums. It was not based upon human merit or failure. God gave solely on the basis of who He is, not on the basis of who Abraham was.

 

Unconditional covenants from God are always marked out with the words “I will.” “I will” means that what God says, He will do.  The land was occupied for a time by the Canaanites, the Moabites, the Ammonites, and others, but God passed the promise of land down to Isaac’s son, Jacob (Gen. 35:12). It did not stop there. The promise was passed on to Moses (Ex. 6:2–8). After the death of Moses, God renewed the promise with Joshua (Josh. 1:2).  God said to Abram, “I am the Lord, who brought you out of Ur of the Chaldeans, to give you this land to inherit it” (Gen. 15:7). It is as though He was saying, “Listen carefully, Abram. I’m not going back on this.”

 

Abram responded, “O Lord God, how [literally, on what basis] may I know [yada, may I have the intimate knowledge] that I will possess it?” To what does the tiny pronoun “it” refer? The answer is critical. “It” refers to the land. Abram never had to worry about two things: the perpetuation of his seed or his reception of the land. God alone walked between the sacrifices (Gen. 15:17). How could Abram (and everyone who reads these words) absolutely know that the Jews would inherit the land? Because God alone made it secure. How conclusive is that?  On that day, the Lord made a covenant with Abram, saying, “To your descendants, I have given this land.”

 

The boundaries of the land are from the river of Egypt (Nile River) to the great Euphrates River (Gen. 15:18). This includes the Red Sea and all of the surrounding country. The western boundary of the land of Israel in the kingdom will be the Nile River. Someone said that the Red Sea is to become a Jewish lake.  The eastern boundary will be the Euphrates River. The eastern Sudan region includes Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Lebanon, Turkey, and Palestine. That is a chunk of land. The Jews will not inhabit this land in its entirety until the kingdom reign of Jesus Christ. When the Son of David returns, He will hold in His hands the title deed to this earth in the form of the seven sealed scroll (Rev. 5:1). A part of the earth is portioned out for the land of Israel and their capital city of Jerusalem.

 

Israel is now in open rebellion against the living God. Has God broken His promise to Abraham? Not at all. Someday, and I believe soon, God’s people will occupy this land in its entirety. However, and this is a “big” however, God’s promised blessings on an obedient Jewish nation is tied to a conditional promise. He said that if they walked in His statutes and kept His commands, He would give rain for their crops and their land, and trees would produce in abundance. They would have plenty of food and would live in peace with their enemies. God said that He would set His tabernacle in their midst and that He would be their God and they would be His people (Lev. 26:1–13). As we often say, “I think I hear a ‘but’ coming.”  And we do!

 

If the Jews turned their backs on God again, He would judge accordingly. God put in play five cycles of discipline, each worse than the previous one (Lev. 26:14–33). First: loss of health, pain, inability to raise crops, lost battles, lost freedom (Lev. 26:15–17). Second: If they still failed to serve the living God, He would bring on them seven times the punishment of the first cycle plus there would be no rain, therefore no crops (Lev. 26:18–20). Third: seven times the punishment of the first two cycles, plus the invasion of wild beasts taking the lives of children and livestock (Lev. 26:21–22). Fourth: seven times the punishment of the previous cycles, plus being delivered into enemy hands and famine (Lev. 26:23–26).Fifth: seven times the punishment of the above, as well as cannibalism, high places and altars destroyed, cities laid waste, land becoming desolate, and people scattered throughout the world (Lev. 26:27–33).  Once again, the Jews broke God’s covenant with them, so God put them through the five cycles of discipline. In 70 A.D., they entered the fifth cycle of discipline when the Roman emperor Titus laid siege to the city of Jerusalem, starved them out, and burned their temple. Thousands of Jews died. God then scattered them throughout the nations where most of them remain today. But not for long! Blessings!