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Archive for Rome

Nimrod’s Influence

The gospel of God’s magnificent grace had been released and was flourishing. The LORD God of Noah’s son Shem was on a rampage. Using the truth of Japheth’s dwelling in the tents of Shem, God provided safety, roads, and language, for the gospel to move. The God/man’s substitutionary death at Calvary was in the process of turning the world upside down. The power of His resurrection confirming the saving value of His words was being unleashed. And the fact that the value of this tandem truth can only be received by faith in Christ alone was in the process of plowing through the mighty Roman empire, saving all who believed.

The good news was effectively reclaiming this fallen world for Jesus Christ. Paul said that the faith of the Roman church was being spoken of throughout the entire world (Rom. 1: 8). The adversary of God had to step in and stop its progress quickly. But how? The populous who were receiving the gospel must become confused – hopelessly confused. People must become blind to the truth of the gospel (2 Cor. 4:3-4). Satan’s method was to blend paganism – Satanic worship of the world – with the truth of the death and resurrection of Christ; he must stir the pot, mixing myth and lies with the truth. This act would effectively confuse and nullify the saving power of the gospel. The lies must be so attractive that they would create the necessary diversion. But how? And who?

Remember that Noah’s prophecy concerning Ham, Shem, and Japheth had come as a result of Ham’s strange involvement with his drunken naked father (Gen. 9:22-23). Ham’s action exposed a serious defect in his character – so serious that Noah placed a curse, not on Ham, but on Ham’s grandson, Canaan (Gen. 9:25). Ham seemed to disappear in the background. But at the time of the success of the gospel, he again takes center stage – not him personally, but his grandson, Nimrod. Nimrod must have had a lot of Ham in him. The result? Paganism – the worship of the earth. Paganism originated at Babel, which became the great city of Babylon (Gen. 11:1-4). In history it is often hard to separate fiction from truth, fables from facts, and myth from reality. Nimrod supposedly had a wife named Semiramis. According to the legend, she had a virgin-born son named Tammuz (mentioned in Ezek. 8:14). Makes one wonder! Tammuz was said to be gored by a wild boar and killed. But after much prayer, he was miraculously raised from the dead. The rumor of this mythological resurrection shot the worship of paganism around the world at warp speed. Small images of the Tower of Babel, called ziggurats or high places, along with their gods and goddesses sprang up everywhere from Babylon (Marduk and Ishtar), to Egypt (Horace and Ises), to Syria (Baal and the Asheroth), to Greece (Zues and Aphrodite), and to Rome (Cupid and Venus).

In Rome the Babylonian religious system became the state religion. The main symbol of these fertility gods became a woman holding a little baby. In the Old Testament, this woman is called “the queen of heaven” (Jer. 7:18; 44:17-19; 44:25). John called her “Mystery Babylon, The Mother of Harlots and Abominations of the Earth” (Rev. 17:5). Repeating! This “resurrection myth” resulted in the worship of many different fertility gods and goddessThe gospel of God’s magnificent grace had been released and was flourishing. The LORD God of Noah’s son Shem was on a rampage. Using the truth of Japheth’s dwelling in the tents of Shem, God provided safety, roads, and language, for the gospel to move. The God/man’s substitutionary death at Calvary was in the process of turning the world upside down. The power of His resurrection confirming the saving value of His words was being unleashed. And the fact that the value of this tandem truth can only be received by faith in Christ alone was in the process of plowing through the mighty Roman empire, saving all who believed.

The good news was effectively reclaiming this fallen world for Jesus Christ. Paul said that the faith of the Roman church was being spoken of throughout the entire world (Rom. 1: 8). The adversary of God had to step in and stop its progress quickly. But how? The populous who were receiving the gospel must become confused – hopelessly confused. People must become blind to the truth of the gospel (2 Cor. 4:3-4). Satan’s method was to blend paganism – Satanic worship of the world – with the truth of the death and resurrection of Christ; he must stir the pot, mixing myth and lies with the truth. This act would effectively confuse and nullify the saving power of the gospel. The lies must be so attractive that they would create the necessary diversion. But how? And who?

Remember that Noah’s prophecy concerning Ham, Shem, and Japheth had come as a result of Ham’s strange involvement with his drunken naked father (Gen. 9:22-23). Ham’s action exposed a serious defect in his character – so serious that Noah placed a curse, not on Ham, but on Ham’s grandson, Canaan (Gen. 9:25). Ham seemed to disappear in the background. But at the time of the success of the gospel, he again takes center stage – not him personally, but his grandson, Nimrod. Nimrod must have had a lot of Ham in him. The result? Paganism – the worship of the earth. Paganism originated at Babel, which became the great city of Babylon (Gen. 11:1-4). In history it is often hard to separate fiction from truth, fables from facts, and myth from reality. Nimrod supposedly had a wife named Semiramis. According to the legend, she had a virgin-born son named Tammuz (mentioned in Ezek. 8:14). Makes one wonder! Tammuz was said to be gored by a wild boar and killed. But after much prayer, he was miraculously raised from the dead. The rumor of this mythological resurrection shot the worship of paganism around the world at warp speed. Small images of the Tower of Babel, called ziggurats or high places, along with their gods and goddesses sprang up everywhere from Babylon (Marduk and Ishtar), to Egypt (Horace and Ises), to Syria (Baal and the Asheroth), to Greece (Zues and Aphrodite), and to Rome (Cupid and Venus).

In Rome the Babylonian religious system became the state religion. The main symbol of these fertility gods became a woman holding a little baby. In the Old Testament, this woman is called “the queen of heaven” (Jer. 7:18; 44:17-19; 44:25). John called her “Mystery Babylon, The Mother of Harlots and Abominations of the Earth” (Rev. 17:5). Repeating! This “resurrection myth” resulted in the worship of many different fertility gods and goddesses, and cultic practices literally filled – and continue to fill – history. They became a huge part of Bible history through the ancient Canaanite god, Baal, the god of fertility, and his female counterpart – the Ashteroth, the goddess of fertility. Their sadistic worship involved the sacrifice of children in the fires of the god Moloch (Amos 5:26). Lest the reader fails to take these “high places” seriously, they take up much of the ink in the Old Testament (Lev. 26:30; Ex. 22:18-20; Num. 21:1-3, 33:52; Judges 2:3; Josh. 23:11-13; Deut. 12:1-4, 33:29; 1 Kings 12:31, 13:18; 2 Kings 12:3, 14:4; 15:4, 35; 16:1-4; 17:1-12; 17:7-12; 18:4-8; 21:1-3; 23:10-17; 23:15-17; 2 Chron. 11:15; 14:3, 5; 15:17; 17:6; 20:33; 21:10-11; 28:1-5; 31:1; 32:12-15; and 33:1-9), just to make my point. Modern paganism is not marked by witches on broomsticks, or cauldrons of smoldering brews. Their costumes and rituals are beautiful, their music haunting, their incense fills the nostrils with exotic smells, and their ceremonies are very sensual and seductive, appealing to every fiber of man’s flesh – even more so in this age of modernity.

Satan enacted his plan to stop the spread of the gospel. He began by orchestrating a serious persecution of the church. Many throughout the Roman empire were being martyred for their faith in Jesus Christ. Under the Diocletian emperors and Nero, Christians by the thousands were martyred. This created the perfect storm for Satan’s diversionary plan to work. He orchestrated a merging of the worship of the queen of heaven with the church of Jesus Christ. Blessings!

Japheth’s Influence

We are investigating Noah’s strange prophecy concerning the blessing of the LORD, the God of Shem and Japheth, his older brother dwelling in Shem’s tents (Gen. 9:27).  Remember, this “dwelling” means making a spiritual impact, Shem on Japheth and Japheth on Shem. This spiritual influence seems rather benign at first glance, but its tentacles vividly mark the history of the giving and spread of the gospel. For instance, Paul wrote that it was the fulness of time when God sent forth his Son (Gal. 4:4). This fulness of time included Japheth’s dwelling in the tents of Shem. The mighty Roman empire coming from Japheth provided a window of peace to get Joseph and Mary (and their donkey) safely to Bethlehem. The angel’s words marked the success of the trip well: “Glory to God in the highest and peace on earth and good will toward man” (Lk. 2:14). God had come into the world!

 

The Romans were also responsible for good roads. They built solid, safe “Roman roads.” These roads all over the empire were made of bricks and rocks in order to move and supply the famous Roman legion. They stood firm under the pounding that they took. They could easily hold up that small donkey and the young woman as Joseph went back home to Bethlehem for the birth of the Christ child. God is amazing!

 

Then there was the beginning of the Church at Pentecost. It was a time for the birthing of the body of Christ followed by the sowing of Christ’s seed – the gospel – worldwide. There were the disciples-turned-apostles set apart by Christ to spread the message of grace everywhere. The roads were in place, but there was a language barrier. God had changed all the languages at the tower of Babel in order to get the people to spread out. What language does one use to tell people about Jesus Christ – His cross and resurrection?  Hellenization is a word describing the cultural impact that Alexander the Great and his troops had on the then known world.  He spread his native language – the koine (common) Greek language – along with the Greek culture (food, clothes, and philosophy) everywhere he went. The Grecian influence spread like wildfire all through the land. Even the Jews, who customarily spoke Hebrew, began to use the Greek language and many bought into Grecian modernity. Greek became the obvious language to use to pen the New Testament and also the language to use in spreading the gospel. The Greeks came from Japheth who was then dwelling in the tent of Shem.Amazing!

 

The church of Jesus Christ and His seed (the gospel), under the influence of Japheth, were changing the world. The gospel was spreading throughout the entire Roman empire. Paul thanked God through Jesus Christ that the faith of the Roman church was spoken of throughout the world (Rom. 1:8). This got Satan’s attention! He had to stop the bleeding. His weapon of choice involved Nimrod and his famous tower of Babel. You remember the incident. After the landing of the ark, God commanded that Noah and his family be fruitful and fill the earth (Gen. 9:1). At first, they were obedient. But the people were being led by Ham’s famous grandson – Nimrod. He was evidently a strong physical specimen with a very dominant personality and intellect. Like Cain, he led the people to defy God (Gen. 10:8-10). He stopped the people at the land of Shinar and built a large city centered by a huge tower called Babel (confusion). His reason? “Let us make ourselves a name!” Pride! Sound familiar. “Lest we be scattered abroad over the entire earth.” That is exactly what God had commanded them to do. Thus Nimrod led the first rebellion against God this side of the flood.  The tower was intended to reach into the heavens, to the sun, moon, and stars (Gen. 11:1-4). This began man’s rebellious worship of the earth called paganism. Blessings!