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Infernal Infighting

The pagan gods of the ancient world did not humbly submit after the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. Instead, they’ve continued in their rebellion. Maybe they figure they’ve got nothing to lose. Like Inanna in the Epic of Gilgamesh, who tried to destroy Uruk because she’d been rejected by the hero of the tale, they’re willing to destroy everything rather than let the Messiah return to establish His throne over a world restored to its intended glory.

But they’re also arrogant enough to think they can win. The entities conspiring against God are playing multidimensional chess. We humans are playing checkers, so I won’t pretend to have all of the answers. This book will only cover one of the most significant aspects of the rebellion, a front opened by the small-g gods after they realized they’d been outplayed.

Their first response to the Resurrection was to inspire the Roman government and Jewish religious authorities to try to crush the growing body of believers. By the fourth century AD, when it was clear that Christianity was not going away, the Fallen tried a different tactic. The empire of the storm-god first legalized the faith with Constantine’s Edict of Milan in AD 313. Then in 380, Christianity became the official state religion when Theodosius issued the Edict of Thessalonica. Once the Church became a path to wealth and political power, there was no shortage of men and women who chose the clergy as a career—but it wasn’t because they were interested in saving sinners from the fires of hell.

Making Christianity the official religion of the Roman Empire was a brilliant move. Corruption in the Church persists to this day and it infects all denominations. But that has only weakened the body of believers, not killed it; as of this writing, the followers of Jesus Christ still outnumber all other religions on the earth.

But the Enemy employed another stratagem, one that’s exploited the Church’s weakness and the dilution of the gospel since the Renaissance and Enlightenment. Let’s begin by tracking the activity of the pagan gods in the years after the Resurrection.

Looking at the ebb and flow of history from high above the page, as it were, we can sometimes see patterns that are hidden when we zoom in too close, sort of like trying to make out an image in an old newspaper by looking at it under a microscope. All we see are blobs of ink—the pixels, to use a more modern reference. The picture only comes into focus when you look at it from farther away.

In the same way, trying to see into the spirit realm is a good way to drive yourself crazy. We aren’t designed to do that, and God has warned us not to try. But we can make out some of the shapes and patterns, the actions of the principalities and powers, if we step back and look at how history has progressed through the ages.

A rough outline of the spiritual history of the ancient Near East shows that there were at least two transfers of power in the pantheon. First, a primordial god of heaven was overthrown by his son, who was considered “the” god between about 3000 and 2000 BC.

Around the time that the Amorites emerged as the dominant people group in the Near East, “the” god was replaced as king of the pantheon by the storm-god—except in Akkad and Sumer, where the city-god of Babylon, Marduk, occupied that place of honor.

However, the personal god of the founding dynasty of Babylon was the moon-god. As we noted earlier, some scholars now believe that the Sumerian god Amurru was actually an epithet of the lunar deity, “god of the Amurru (Amorite) land.” A text only translated within the last ten years reveals that the moon-god, Sîn, was believed to preside over the Mesopotamian divine council at least some of the time. 

The nations led by these various deities fought with one another throughout the period of history covered by the Bible. Beginning around 1800 BC, the time of Abraham and Isaac, Marduk and his followers ruled Babylonia and Sumer, while Baal worshipers dominated western Mesopotamia (Canaan), followers of the sun-god controlled most of Egypt, and the moon-god was the chief deity of the nomadic tribes of the steppe and deserts of Syria and Arabia.

The fall of the Neo-Babylonian Empire to the Medes and Persians in 539 BC was probably another rebuke of the moon-god by Yahweh, who revealed to the prophet Isaiah, about a hundred and fifty years earlier, His plan to use Cyrus to return the Jewish exiles to Jerusalem.

Oddly, if scholars are correct about the Persian god Ahura Mazda, this replaced one empire subject to Marduk with another that worshiped the same god under a different name.

So, was Marduk/Ahura Mazda the “prince of Persia” who fought against the angelic messenger who came to the prophet Daniel? It’s impossible to know, and wondering about the prince’s identity leads to other questions we can’t answer. For example, did the prince of Persia resist the angel because he didn’t want Cyrus to free the Jews of Babylon?

These questions can only be answered with speculation. It’s curious that Marduk doesn’t fit the pattern of succession among the gods. Across the ancient Near East, and even as far away as Scandinavia and India, the storm-god rose to the top of the pantheon, but at Babylon, a city-god about whom we know nothing prior to that city’s rise to power, claimed the throne of the gods. We can only ask, “Why?”

Is it possible that the rise of the Zoroastrian religion in Persia, which emerged just before the Medes and Persians conquered the lands of the Bible as far west as Greece, was part of a civil war among the rebel angels? Given that the moon-god, Sîn/Yarikh, was the patron deity of the founders of Babylon (and of most Amorites in the days of Abraham), then maybe Marduk was a figurehead who was head of the infernal council in name only. There isn’t a single event in the Bible that appears to be specifically directed at Marduk, except maybe the reference to the size of Og’s bed.

Continuing with our speculation, the rise of the Persian Empire and its devotion to Ahura Mazda, possibly another aspect of Marduk, may have been that entity’s play to go solo by rebelling against the rebels. Of course, God used it for His purposes, to free His people from Babylon and humble the moon-god (Belshazzar’s feast was held for the fall akitu festival for Sîn).

But Marduk’s shot at glory didn’t last long; within two centuries, people of the storm-god, first Greek and then Roman, pushed the Persian Empire back to Mesopotamia. And with the rise of Islam in the seventh century AD, Zoroastrianism faded into the background. Today, it’s estimated that there are fewer than three million Zoroastrians in the world; in the 1990s, the Guiness Book of World Records began labeling Zoroastrianism as the “major religion nearest extinction.”

There are hints in pagan texts of other rifts between the Fallen. Two letters to the king of Mari from the ambassador of Yamkhad, a powerful kingdom based at Aleppo, mention the delivery of the clubs used by the storm-god “with which the deity boasts to have struck his enemy, the sea” to the temple of “the” god, Dagan, in the city of Terqa.

Scholars don’t know exactly what the letters mean, but there are two probable messages: First, they implied that Mari was subordinate to Yamkhad, just as Dagan (El, Enlil, etc.) had been replaced at the top of the pantheon by the storm-god, Adad (Baal). Second, in a backhanded way, it claims a victory for Adad/Baal that had been credited to Marduk.

Thus says Adad.… I brought you back to the throne of your father, I brought you back. The weapons with which I fought the Sea [Têmtum] I gave to you. With the oil of my bitter victory I anointed you, and no one before you could stand. My one word hear!

Têmtum is the Akkadian word for Tiamat, the chaos dragon defeated by Marduk in the Enuma Elish. Now, this may be political posturing, sort of like saying, “Our gods are better than your gods, nyaah nyaah nyaah,” but it may have been inspired in the spirit realm as members of the infernal council plotted and schemed against one another.

Another example of this comes from the western Amorite kingdom of Ugarit in a myth about a drunken feast at the house of the creator-god El.

Yarikh [the moon-god] arched his back like a d[o]g;

he gathered up crumbs beneath the tables.

(Any) god who recognized him

threw him meat from the joint.

But (any god) who did not recognize him

hit him with a stick beneath the table.

At the call of Athtart [Astarte/Ishtar] and Anat [the Canaanite war-goddess] he approached.

Athtart threw him a haunch,

and Anat a shoulder of meat.

The porter of El’s house shouted:

“Look!

Why have you thrown a haunch to the dog,

(why) to the cur have you thrown a shoulder?”

This is a great example of a text that drives scholars crazy. The meaning is unclear; it could refer to ritual drinking to reach an altered state of consciousness, or it could simply be a long and convoluted cure for a hangover. Either way, the moon-god, bearing his Amorite name, Yarikh, is depicted as a dog, and canines were not man’s best friend in the ancient Near East. This text comes from the final years of Ugarit in the thirteenth century BC. That was the time of the judges in Israel, after the conquest—in other words, after the moon-god had been humiliated at the Wilderness of Sîn, Mount Sinai, Jericho, and the Valley of Aijalon.

Does this text reflect a demotion in the infernal council? The moon-god was at or near the top of the pantheon in Mesopotamia until Joshua led the Israelites across the Jordan. After the Long Day, the moon-god faded into the background until his devotee Nabonidus took the crown of Babylon nearly a thousand years later.

Then the Medes and Persians destroyed Babylon as an independent kingdom, and a couple of centuries later, the Greeks and Romans came. Quick, now: How many myths about the Greco-Roman moon-goddess, Selene/Luna, do you know? Probably not many, if any. In the pantheon of Greece and Rome, the moon-deity was strictly supporting cast, a back-bencher.

Again, this is speculation, an attempt to discern the history of the unseen realm from evidence in the natural. We have limited ability to see into the spirit world, but it fits recorded history. Before Christ, the Fallen fought amongst themselves as well as with God. After the Resurrection, it appears that they put aside some of their mutual distrust.

We’ll explore that in more depth in future columns.

From Bad Moon Rising: Islam, Armageddon, and the Most Diabolical Double-cross in
History by Derek P. Gilbert

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America’s Great Awakening- “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God!”

The following article was written by Steve Strang in 1975 for the first edition of Charisma Magazine. It is a brief history of the American Great Awakening in the 1700″s and a summary of what some say was the most powerful message ever preached in America. (We will let you decide that for yourself) Our great country is in a great time of turmoil and struggle but some of us still trust our Almighty God can save souls, change lives, give hope and mend broken hearts. Read this tremendous article and be inspired and just maybe share it with a friend who needs to know the truth.

By Steve Strang-Fifty years before a Lexington minuteman fired the shot heard around the world, another revolution began that shook the American colonies.

It was a spiritual revolution which historians call the Great Awakening. It was marked by waves of religious enthusiasm as preachers like George Whitefield traveled the seacoast from Maine to Georgia, preaching that sinners should repent.

American history’s most famous sermon—”Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God”—was preached in 1741 by Jonathon Edwards at the height of the great revival.

History records that sinners repented by the hundreds. Taverns closed as whole towns repented. Often people were so moved by conviction they trembled and shrieked and fell to the ground moaning and begging God to forgive their sins.

Edwards writes about a young woman in his congregation who was so convicted of sin she declared that “it was pleasant to think of lying in the dust all the days of her life, mourning for sin.”

The preaching about turning from sin and the importance of salvation over the rituals of the state church in places like Massachusetts, was important in the light of history.

The result of the revival, which continued strong for 15 years and the effect of which continued for many more years, was to establish early in American life the importance of a man serving God as his conscience, not the state, dictated.

Thousands of newly converted people were forced by their churches to leave because their new convictions about the importance of salvation often threatened the existing ecclesiastical power structure. This fostered the growth of new churches like the Methodists and toppled any hope of one denomination becoming dominant and becoming the American state church.

Some historians consider the Great Awakening a major turning point in American history, yet it is frequently overlooked. While the national remembers its 200th anniversary this year and next, the Christian community can be inspired by remembering one of the greatest revivals on this continent.

The Great Awakening, besides being a major spiritual renewal, did much to foster a feeling of independence in the colonies and helped wipe out the class structure brought to the New World from Europe.

It also fostered education and several major universities like Dartmouth, Princeton and Brown, had their genesis in the revival. In addition, it stimulated missionary work among the Indians and slaves.

Historian Monroe Stearns wrote: “The Great Awakening’s essential purpose was to fulfill the royal law of love—to cause men to serve not themselves but one another and to join in an effort to improve society. The vision it revealed of the social good led to a challenge of the rulers of colonial society in America and into the discussion and activity that produced the movement for independence.

The Great Awakening has been, however, relegated to relatively minor role by most historians who view it as only emotional hysteria that they say has characterized revivals throughout our history.

The truth is, however, that despite emotionalism that characterized some of the Great Awakening from 1720 to 1760, it was the first great move of God on this continent and was the first of many revivals that have come to America since then.

To understand the importance of the revival and its impact on America, it’s important to understand the religious and social structure of the day.

Many of the early immigrants to America came because of religious oppression in Europe.

The French Huguenots were the first Protestants to flee to America. In 1562, more than half a century before the Pilgrims arrived at Plymouth Rock, a small group of Huguenots arrived in Florida in present day Jacksonville, hoping to escape the massacres of Charles IX of France. But within months, their settlement was destroyed by an agent of Philip II of Spain. Not one Huguenot survived.

In 1620, the English Separatists among them soon headed for Rhode Island with Roger Williams looking for religious freedom the Puritans did not give them.

The Pilgrims were followed in 1656 by the early Quakers who, being unwelcomed in New England, settled in New Jersey, then in 17682 in Pennsylvania.

By the early 1700’s, group after group of other Protestants seeking freedom from European intolerance began to arrive.

Of course, not every new settler in the new world came for religious liberty. Many came for economic and political opportunities not available to them in Europe. But many of the immigrants did come to worship God as they saw fit.

This desire for religious liberty and their deep faith in God was all that strengthened many of these early colonists to brave the perils of the American wilderness.

But after a few decades the original closeness to God that drove the early settlers to seek religious freedom was replaced by the coldness and rituals of the churches the settlers established.

This is what Theodorus Frelinghuysen found in 1720 when he was sent by the Dutch Reformed Church in the Netherlands to minister to Dutch settlers in New Jersey.

Frelinghuysen was a member of the Pietists who believed the power of the Holy Spirit could only be felt because it worked on the heart, not the brain. They put no emphasis on complicated church doctrines, but on having a “change of heart,” and becoming one with God.

Frelinghuysen preached that in order to be a member of the church and take communion, one must be born again. He caused quite a stir among the young and the poor who readily responded to his message.

The established, more prosperous members at first resisted, then began to become converted. Within five years his congregations had so increased and so many people had become converted, other ministers began inviting Frelinghuysen to preach at their churches, hoping for similar results.

Frelinghuysen greatly inspired a Presbyterian minister, Gilbert Tennent, and worked with him, breaking down denominational walls.

While Tennent and Frelinghuysen were preaching in New Jersey, Jonathon Edwards was causing a stir in New England with his sermons.

When he became minister in 1729 of the church of Northhampton, Mass., he found a generation of New Englanders who had grown up in spiritual confusion and who didn’t know how to be saved.

In addition, the churches of that area were controlled by the wealthy merchant class—the same people who controlled the government and who oppressed the people.

The Puritan Church had for many years preached salvation, but as the merchants began to seize control, more liberal ministers began to say salvation was not necessary for church membership.

Edwards resisted this trend, and preached faith in Christ was necessary for salvation. He began to see results.

In 1734, after five years at the church, he reported “a concern about the great things of religion began…to prevail abundantly in the town, till old and young, and from the highest to the lowest…Scarcely a person has been exempt, and the Spirit of God went on his saving influences…in a truly wonderful and astonishing manner.”

Word of the revival spread up and down the Connecticut River valley and by May, 1735, 25 towns had experienced similar awakenings.

The revival subsided until 1739 when a 24-year-old minister from England named George Whitefield began to preach in the New York area.

Whitefield had come to America in 1738 to establish an orphanage in Georgia.

Whitefield was such a magnificent speaker that many people came to hear him merely because of his speaking and acting ability.

He frequently preached on streets or in open fields.

Benjamin Franklin, who heard him in Philadelphia, estimated that Whitefield’s voice was so powerful 30,000 people could hear him at once, because he repeated key sentences four times—once in each direction.

Whitefield was so eloquent at raising money for his orphanage, that Franklin wrote he left his purse home on purpose when he went to hear him. Still, he had in his pocket several pieces of copper, several silver dollars and five pieces of gold.

“As he proceeded,” Franklin wrote, “I began to soften and concluded to give him the copper. Another stroke of his oratory made me ashamed of that, and determined me to give him the silver; and he finished so admirably, that I emptied my pocket wholly into the collection dish, gold and all.”

The Great Awakening was not without its problems, however.

Often when people felt convicted of their sins, they thrashed about on the floor, moaning and shrieking. Emotionalism was so widespread that it turned off many who had not been touched in their hearts with the Gospel message.

Rev. Jonathan Parsons of Lyme, Conn. wrote that some converts acted as if “the joints of their limbs were loosed and their knees smote one another…Several stout ones fell as though a cannon had been discharged and a ball had made its way through their hearts.”

One lady, Sarah Sparhawk, of Marlboro, Mass., was “like one deprived of her reason” and “was brought home (from church) by some young men. She often lay there crying out, screaming and striving much in her fits for an hour or two.”

Trances, visions, and something called “the jerks” became commonplace.

The opposers of the revival were led by Charles Chauncy, pastor of the old First Church in Boston. He objected to the “preaching of terror” and the “bodily effects.” He attacked the whole movement as a dangerous explosion of emotion.

Edwards saw the extremes of the revival, but still considered the Awakening a “surprising work of God,” and stedfastly defended it. He said the excesses of emotion were “enthusiastic delusions” or “impressions upon the imagination.”

He thought, however, that to oppose the revival as some ministers did, was evil. The “prevailing prejudice against religious affections at this day, in this land” was caused by none other than Satan, Edwards wrote.

He warned the critics of the revival that “for persons to despise and cry down all religious affections, is the way to shut all religion out of their own hearts, and to make thorough work in ruining their own souls.”

There were other great preachers in the revival. John Wesley, father of Methodism, was one. He preached in Georgia a number of years, and had an impact on the life of George Whitefield. But mostly Wesley’s influence was limited to England where a similar revival was taking place.

Samuel Davies, a Presbyterian, spread the revival to Virginia in 1748 where he had to get a license from the governor to preach.

The Anglican clergy opposed this non-Anglican in Virginia and took him to court saying he had no right to preach. The issue went to London in 1753 for a verdict and Davies won in 1755. It set a precedent for religious freedom in the colonies.

As the Great Awakening began to subside people like Davies continued to spread it until the 1750’s.

The Awakening had a long-run effect on education, social and moral structure of America for many years. But its main impact—and this should never be forgotten—was spiritual.

Men’s lives were changed when they encountered a personal faith in Jesus Christ. Despite the emotionalism that accompanied the movement, many new converts were made, and these converts had a different way of living.

Jonathon Parsons wrote of the new converts that “bitterness and wrath, and anger, and clamor, and evil-speaking seemed to be put away from them, with all malice…Rough and haughty minds became peaceful, gentle, and easy to be entreated… Their faith worked on love, and discovered itself in acts of piety towards God, charity and righteousness toward men and sobriety toward themselves.

That’s what true revival is all about.


Editor’s Note: The following are sidebars that appeared in the original edition of this article.

John Wesley

The founder of the Methodist Church, John Wesley, was a methodical man. While at Oxford University, he scheduled his intellectual activity by the clock-meditating perhaps from 11 a.m. to noon on the Calvinist doctrine of predestination and from noon to 1 p.m. on the doctrine of free grace. He and other students, including George Whitefield (below) worshiped together in what some students ridiculed by calling “Holy Clubs” or “Methodists.”

Early in his ministry, Wesley was sent to minister to the convicts sent to Georgia colony. He traveled throughout the colonies and England a total of 200,000 miles—by his own estimate—traveling by foot, by horseback and carriage to preach an estimated 40,000 sermons in his 87 years.

His brother, Charles, during his lifetime wrote about 6,500 hymns, many of which we sing today, like “Love Divine, All Love Excelling” and “Hark, the Herald Angels Sing.” When a man once said he wished he had a thousand tongues to sing the praises of Jesus, Charles wrote “O For a Thousand Tongues to Sing!”

Another time, when a bird fell onto his window while being chased by a hawk, Charles wrote the most famous of his songs, “Jesus, Lover of My Soul, Let Me to Thy Bosom Fly.”

George Whitefield

The Great Awakening’s most rousing speaker, George Whitefield, is said to have been able to stir crowds just with the way he said “Mesopotamia.” The great English actor, David Garrick said, “I would give a hundred guineas if I could say ‘Oh! Like Mr. Whitefield.”

In Boston, such a revival swept the town while Whitefield was there that the Rev. John Webb wrote that “the very face of the town seemed to be altered” and that the taverns were as empty as the churches were full, for “about a year and a half after Mr. Whitefield left us.”

In one sermon, Whitefield is said to have cried, “Father Abraham, whom have you in heaven? Any Episcopalians? No? Any Presbyterians? No? Have you any Independents or Seceders? No? Have you any Methodists? No, no, no? Whom have you there?”

“We don’t know those names here. All who are here are Christians.” Whitefield would quote the answer from heave. Then, he would add: “Oh, is this the case? Then God help us, God help us all, to forget party names, and to become Christians in deed and in truth.”

Jonathon Edwards

Historians record that Jonathon Edwards was a small, frail man who preached in a quiet monotone, without gestures. He was also one of the greatest intellectuals American society has produced.

Edwards pastored in Northampton, Mass., when the Great Awakening broke out. Like other preachers during this period, he began traveling to nearby churches. The reason – there were so few converted ministers that those who were saved were in great demand as the revival spread.

It was on the road that Edwards preached a sermon that historians say is the most famous in American history – “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God.” It is said he preached it as a last-minute substitute for another preacher at Enfield, Conn., on July 8, 1741.

Historian Monroe Stearns credits Edward’s sermon with ending the superstitions of the Middle Ages and initiating the concept that man is responsible for his own happiness through coming to God.

The sermon had a great impact the day it was preached. The congregation shrieked and groaned and cried out “Oh, what shall I do to be saved.” It got so bad, Edwards stopped his sermon to ask the people to be more quiet.

The 76,000-word sermon is still studied by seminary and Bible college students. An excerpt follows:

“Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God”

Deuteronomy 32:35

-Their foot shall slide in due time.-

In this verse is threatened the vengeance of God on the wicked unbelieving Israelites, who were God’s visible people, and who lived under the means of grace; but who, notwithstanding all God’s wonderful works towards them, remained (as verse 28)voice of counsel, having no understanding in them. The expression I have chosen for my text, “Their foot shall slide in due time,” seems to imply the following things, relating to the punishment and destruction to which these wicked Israelites were exposed.

  1. That they were always exposed to destruction; as one that stands or walks in slippery places is always exposed to a fall. This is implied in the manner of their destruction coming upon them, being represented by their foot sliding.
  2. It implies, that they were always exposed to sudden unexpected destruction. As he that walks in slippery places is every moment liable to fall, he cannot foresee one moment whether he shall stand or fall the next; and when he does fall, he falls at once without warning.
  3. Another thing implied is, that they are liable to fall of themselves, without being thrown down by the hand of another; as he that stands or walks on slippery ground needs nothing but his own weight to throw him down.
  4. That the reason why they are not fallen already, and do not fall now, is only that God’s appointed time is not come. For it is said, that when that due time, or appointed time comes, their foot shall slide.

Application

The use of this awful subject may be for awakening unconverted persons in this congregation. This that you have heard is the case of every one of you that are out of Christ. That world of misery, that lake of burning brimstone, is extended abroad under you. There is the dreadful pit of the glowing flames of the wrath of God; there is hell’s wide gaping mouth open; and you have nothing to stand upon, nor anything to take hold of; there is nothing between you and hell but the air; it is only the power and mere pleasure of God that holds you up.

Your wickedness makes you as it were heavy as lead, and to tend downwards with great weight and pressure towards hell; and if God should let you go, you would immediately sink and swiftly descend and plunge into the bottomless gulf, and your healthy constitution, and your own care and prudence, and best contrivance, and all your righteousness, would have no more influence to uphold you and keep you out of hell, than a spider’s web would have to stop a falling rock.

Were it not for the sovereign pleasure of God, the earth would not bear you one moment, for you are a burden to it. The creation groans with you; the creature is made subject to the bondage of your corruption, not willingly.

The sun does not willingly yield her increase to satisfy your lusts, nor is it willing a stage for your wickedness to be acted upon. The air does not willingly serve you for breathe to maintain the flame of life in your vitals, while you spend your life in the service of God’s enemies.

The God that holds you over the pit of hell, much as one holds a spider, or some loathsome insect over the fire, abhors you, and is dreadfully provoked. This wrath towards you burns like fire. He looks upon you as worthy of nothing else, but to be cast into the fire. He is of purer eyes than to bear to have you in his sight. You are 10,000 times more abominable in his eyes, than the most hateful venomous serpent is in ours.

There is no other reason to be given why you have not gone to hell, since you have sat here in the house of God, provoking his pure eyes by your sinful, wicked manner of attending his solemn worship. Yea, there is nothing else that is to be given as a reason why you do not this very moment drop down into hell…but that God’s hand has held you up.

God seems now to be hastily gathering in his elect in all parts of the land; and probably the greater part of adult persons that ever shall be saved, will be brought in now in a little time, and that it will be as it was on the great out-pouring of the Spirit upon the Jews in the apostle’ days; the election will obtain, and the rest will be blinded.

Therefore, let everyone that is out of Christ, now awake and fly from the wrath to come. The wrath of Almighty God is not undoubtedly hanging over a great part of this congregation. Let everyone fly out of Sodom. “Haste and escape for your lives, look not behind you, escape to the mountain, lest you be consumed.”

My Notes: Our historic past is undeniable. It is what brought our young colonists together to form a united group later to be called the “United States of America”. The fiery messages that warned of a burning hell is seldom heard today because of the grace and love message that is what we love to hear. I am thankful that we serve a God of love and forgiveness, however remember those who reject Him are sadly lost as Jonathan Edwards preached. Our prayer is that you trust in Jesus Christ as your Redeemer and Savior.
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Jerusalem: Home Sweet Home

(Psalm 132:13-14) For the Lord has chosen Jerusalem; He has desired it for His home. “This is My resting place forever,” He said. “I will live here, for this is the home I desired.

God chose and selected Jerusalem to be His home forever. Every city, state and nation belong to God and He picked Jerusalem over every other city on earth. Jerusalem is the place He wants to rest and relax for all of eternity. He desires and yearns to make Jerusalem home sweet home.

(Jeremiah 3:17) In that day Jerusalem will be known as ‘The Throne of the Lord.’ All nations will come there to honor the Lord.

In the End Times the Lord will rule from Jerusalem. In the past the capital of God’s Kingdom was in Jerusalem, and it will still be there in the End Times.

(Jeremiah 1:14 NIV) ‘I am very jealous for Jerusalem and Zion.”

(Jeremiah 1:14 GNT) “I have a deep love and concern for Jerusalem, my holy city.”

(Jeremiah 1:14 CEV) “I, the Lord All-Powerful, am very protective of Jerusalem.”

God is very jealous for Jerusalem. He has a deep love and concern for His home that He will always protect and defend it.

(Zechariah 1:14 NASB) “I am exceedingly jealous for Jerusalem and Zion.”

(Zechariah 1:14 NLT) My love for Jerusalem and Mount Zion is passionate and strong.

God’s love for Jerusalem is passionate, obsessive and even fanatical.

(Zechariah 2:8 NASB) he who touches you, touches the apple of His eye.

(Zechariah 2:8 GNT) Anyone who strikes you strikes what is most precious to Me.

(Zechariah 2:8 TLV) he who harms you sticks his finger in Jehovah’s eye!

(Zechariah 2:8 CEV) Zion is as precious to the Lord as are his eyes. Whatever you do to Zion, you do to him.

This verse is fairly well known, but I’ve never completely understood what it really means so I was so. grateful to read it in some paraphrases. When people strike Jerusalem, there are striking what is most precious to God. It’s like they are sticking their finger in God’s eye. Whenever we do something to Jerusalem, it’s like we’re doing it to God Himself. God cannot separate Himself from Jerusalem.

(Zechariah 8:22 NASB) So many peoples and mighty nations will come to seek the Lord of hosts in Jerusalem and to entreat the favor of the Lord.’

When people want to find the Lord, they will go to Jerusalem to meet with Him. They will go to Jerusalem because it is God’s eternal home; it’s where He lives!

If God feels this way about Jerusalem, shouldn’t we? If we feel this way, and we want to see God, there’s no place like home (to look for Him and spend time with Him). I want to encourage you to visit God in His home. But I also realize that most people will not be able to go there. In light of this, I’ve created a presentation, “The Treasures of Jerusalem” so I can bring some of the treasures of Jerusalem to you. You don’t need a plane ticket or hotel reservations. My Messianic Jewish teaching tour of Jerusalem lasts one hour. Contact me to find out more, or to schedule a date for me to share the Treasures of Jerusalem in your town, temple or church.

Nimrod was Not the King of Babylon

 

Nimrod gets a bad rap.

Many of us were taught that because the Tower of Babel was at Babylon, Nimrod is the villain responsible for the evil associated with that city. That sounds right; the names are close enough that it seems like a no-brainer to connect the two. However, history is a harsh mistress. Getting it right means digging a little deeper than finding two names that sound alike.

The Bible tells us that the kingdom of Nimrod had its beginnings at “Babel, Erech, Accad, and Calneh, in the land of Shinar.”1 Shinar, of course, was Sumer, home of the first civilization on earth to produce writing and the first advanced civilization to emerge on the earth. However, as I argue in The Great Inception, drawing on the work of Egyptologist David Rohl, the Tower of Babel was the temple of Enki at the ancient city of Eridu. That city was remembered by Sumerians as the first one ever built, and evidence suggests it may even be the city built by Cain.2

Erech is Uruk, in what is now southeastern Iraq. Accad was the city from which Sargon the Great conquered all of Mesopotamia around 2334 B.C., making him the first Semitic ruler of the ancient Near East. That city hasn’t been found, but it’s believed to have been on the Tigris River somewhere near modern Baghdad and may even be beneath Baghdad itself.3

Sargon is also credited with being the world’s first empire-builder, but that’s only because historians generally don’t believe Nimrod was a historic character. (Sargon is one of the candidates put forward as the basis of the Nimrod “legend.”)

Calneh likewise hasn’t been found, but the name may be a misreading of a Hebrew phrase that simply meant “all of them.” So, the original sentence might have read, “the beginning of his kingdom was Babel, Erech, and Accad, and all of them were in the land of Shinar.”4 From there, we’re told Nimrod went to Assyria, or northern Mesopotamia, and built Nineveh, Rehoboth-Ir, Calah, and Resen.5 In other words, those two verses in Genesis 10 are a condensed history of a man who’s cast a shadow across five thousand years of history.

Because you’re paying attention, you’ve noticed that the modern state of Iraq bears the name of Nimrod’s kingdom, Uruk. In short, sometime after the Flood but before the first written records in Sumer, a king from the city of Uruk extended his reach north and west in the Fertile Crescent at least as far as what is now the Kurdish regions of northern Iraq and northeastern Syria.

Secular scholars and historians know that the city-state of Uruk dominated the ancient Near East during most of the fourth millennium B.C., roughly between 3900 and 3100 B.C. They call this period the Uruk Expansion. Pottery from Uruk has been found as far away as the ancient city of Hamoukar in northern Syria, nearly 450 miles to the northwest. In 2005, archaeologists digging at Hamoukar discovered that the city had been destroyed during a violent attack by an army from Uruk around 3500 B.C.6

Bear in mind that an army on foot had to march about thirty days straight to cover that distance, assuming there were no interruptions along the way to forage for food or fight other people who objected to their passage. In other words, it was a powerful leader with a disciplined army who pulled off that mission. This battle wasn’t a raid on the next town over; it was an organized military campaign. Nimrod’s Uruk, not Sargon’s Akkad, was the world’s first empire.

This doesn’t prove that Nimrod lived in the fourth millennium B.C., but it’s the most logical time period for his career, and it fits the Bible’s account. That’s why he had nothing to do with Babylon.

You see, Babylon didn’t exist until the time of Sargon, around 2300 B.C., but even then, it was an unimportant village on the Euphrates for another four hundred years. Finally, around 1894 B.C., an ambitious Amorite chieftain named Sumu-Abum started Babylon on its path to greatness by expanding his influence at the expense of a neighboring city-state. Still, Babylon was little more than an independent city for the first century or so of its existence. The first four rulers of Babylon didn’t even call themselves kings. It wasn’t until about 1800 B.C., the reign of Hammurabi’s father Sîn-Muballit, that Babylon began to expand.

Not that Nimrod was a good guy, you understand. You have to transgress pretty seriously for God to descend from Heaven for a personal intervention.

In our next installment, we’ll examine the reasons God may have had for putting a stop to Nimrod’s construction project.

1 Genesis 10:10.

2 Derek P. Gilbert, The Great Inception: Satan’s PSYOPs from Eden to Armageddon (Crane, Mo.: Defender, 2017), p. 22.

3 Wall-Romana, C., “An Areal Location of Agade” (pp. 205–245). Journal of Near Eastern Studies Vol. 49, No. 3 (1990), pp. 205-245.

4 Albright, W., “The End of ‘Calneh in Shinar,’” Journal of Near Eastern Studies 3 no. 4 (1944), pp. 254-255.

5 Genesis 10:11–12.

6 Jarus, O., “New Discoveries Hint at 5,500 Year Old Fratricide at Hamoukar, Syria,” The Independent (Sept. 24, 2010). http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/history/new-discoveries-hint-at-5500-year-old-fratricide-at-hamoukar-syria-2088467.html, retrieved 11/19/17.

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Sons of the Titans!

Scholar Amar Annus has linked the name Sheth/Seth, found in the prophecy of Balaam
recorded in Numbers 24:17, to an infamous Amorite tribe well known in the ancient
Near East, the Suteans.
He notes that the Egyptian term for the Suteans, Šwtw, a form of the Akkadian Shutu,
appears in one of the Execration Texts from the nineteenth or eighteenth centuries B.C.,
about the time of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
The Ruler of Shutu, Ayyabum, and all the retainers who are with him; the Ruler
of Shutu, Kushar, and all the retainers who are with him; the Ruler of Shutu,
Zabulanu, and all the retainers who are with him. 1

Man Praying Sunset

The Execration Texts were like ancient Egyptian voodoo dolls. The names of enemies
were inscribed on pottery, which were ritually cursed and then smashed. In a nutshell,
“Sheth,” “Shutu,” and “Sutean” are the same name processed through different
languages and types of writing. 2   Other Egyptian texts place the Shutu/Sheth in the
central and northern Transjordan, which, significantly, includes Bashan—Rephaim
territory. 3
Other fascinating tidbits from the Execration Texts: The Shutu leaders were listed just
after the “Rulers of Iy-‘anaq”—the Anakim tribes that Joshua and the Israelites would
fight for control of Canaan about four hundred years later. Also, the Shutu leader named
Ayyabum bears the same name as the biblical Job. Now, this was probably not the Job
of the Old Testament, but the Egyptian curse does locate him in the Transjordan, the
same general area that was home to the long-suffering Job 4   and exactly where the Bible
places the Rephaim tribes. And because you’ve read your Old Testament, you’ve
noticed that the other Shutu leader, Zabulanu, has a name that Jacob would later give
to one of his sons, Zebulon.
Here’s the key link: Annus points to an Akkadian lexical list (that’s like an ancient clay
tablet version of Google Translate) that specifically equates ti-id-nu and su-tu-u—Tidanu
and Sutean. 5   Citing Michael Heltzer’s 1981 book The Suteans, Annus continues:
In Ugaritic literature Suteans are mentioned in the epic of Aqhatu, where the
antagonist of the mt rpi Dnil [“man of the Rephaim, Daniel”] is a nomadic Ytpn,
mhr št—“warrior of the Sutû, Sutean warrior.” …In the epic of Keret Suteans are
mentioned as dtn, spelled also as ddn, and it “must be understood as the
Di/Tidânu tribe, a part of common Amorite stock. It is even likely that this term
was used in Mesopotamia at the end of the 3rd millennium to designate tribes
later known as Suteans.” 6
Highlight that! The Ugaritic Epic of Keret links the Amorite Sutean tribe, the Egyptian
Shutu and the biblical sons of Sheth, with the Ditanu—the Titans!
Here’s one more bit of historical evidence for your consideration: The Shutu are also
identified in later Egyptian texts as the Shasu, 7   probably as language and pronunciation
changed over the centuries. About two hundred years after the Exodus, Ramesses II
(“the Great”) fought an epic battle against the Hittites at Qadesh, a city on the Orontes
River near the modern border between Syria and Lebanon. According to the Egyptian
2 Ibid.
3 Amar Annus, “Are There Greek Rephaim? On the Etymology of Greek Meropes and Titanes.”
Ugarit-Forschungen 31 (1999), p. 18.
4 Most Bible commentaries place the land of Uz in the Transjordan, usually near Edom.
5 Annus, op. cit.
6 Michael Heltzer & Shoshana Arbeli-Raveh, The Suteans (Naples: Istituto Universitario
Orientale, 1981). Cited in Annus, op. cit., p. 19.
7 “Biblical Archaeology: Evidence of the Exodus from Egypt.” Institute for Biblical and Scientific
Studies. https://www.bibleandscience.com/archaeology/exodus.htm, retrieved 3/3/18.

Seth, Sheth or Set the Egyptian “god of chaos”?

The victories over Og of Bashan and his ally, Sihon of Heshbon, were the last two battles fought by the Israelites under Moses. Since you’ve read your Old Testament, you know that Moses didn’t live much longer after the clash at Og’s royal city, Edrei. The Israelites retraced their steps along the King’s Highway, and then turned west at Heshbon to camp in the Plains of Moab, across the Jordan River from Jericho. That takes place toward the end of the Book of Numbers, just before the fascinating encounter with the prophet-for-profit Balaam.

An inscription discovered in 1967 at Deir Alla, a town about twenty-five miles north of the Plains of Moab, three miles east of the Jordan River in modern-day Jordan, mentions Balaam, son of Beor by name. While the text is probably from the eighth century B.C., about 650 years after the incident with Balaam (around 1406 B.C.), it confirms that there were people who believed a prophet named Balaam son of Beor, a “divine seer,” was a historical character. And this evidence was found about a two-day journey from where the king of Moab, Balak, offered Balaam the going rate for a high-quality curse. Instead, Balaam delivered several blessings on Israel. To his credit, at least the prophet refused to say anything Yahweh didn’t put in his mouth.

Before parting ways with the furious king of Moab, Balaam offered one of the best-known prophecies in the Old Testament, one that is clearly messianic:

I see him, but not now;

   I behold him, but not near:

a star shall come out of Jacob,

   and a scepter shall rise out of Israel;

it shall crush the forehead of Moab

   and break down all the sons of Sheth. (Numbers 24:17, ESV)

Scholars have argued for literally thousands of years about the exact meaning of this passage. Some have believed there is no messianic application to Balaam’s prophecy. For example, Martin Luther just couldn’t accept that God would use a devious pagan like Balaam that way. Of course, that ignores Numbers 24:2, which tells us that “the Spirit of God came upon him.” Others believe the passage was fulfilled by David; still others think the process began with David but won’t be completed until the Messiah returns. I’m setting aside all of that to focus on the very last line of Balaam’s oracle.

Have you ever read this verse and wondered who, exactly, are the sons of Sheth? Some translations render the name “Seth,” and a few read “sons of tumult” instead of Seth or Sheth. Here is the key question: Which Seth are we talking about here? The most prominent Seth in the Bible Allow me to put forward two possibilities I doubt you’ve heard before.

First, consider the possibility that the sons of Sheth are followers of a pagan god. Seth and Sheth are alternate transliterations of the name of Egyptian chaos-god, Set (also spelled Sutekh, Setekh, and Setesh). During Egypt’s Second Intermediate Period, Lower Egypt (that is, northern Egypt) was ruled by a Semitic-speaking people called the Hyksos, who were almost certainly Amorites. The most important god in their pantheon was Baal, who was merged by the Hyksos with Set.

The timing of the end of the Hyksos era in Egypt is fuzzy, but most scholars place it about a hundred years or so before the Exodus. They were driven out after a series of wars led by native Egyptian rulers based at Thebes. While it would be convenient to think that the Hyksos were utterly destroyed by the Egyptians or simply disappeared from history, that’s unlikely. It’s more probable that they were driven out of Egypt into Arabia or the Transjordan, absorbed into the native Egyptian population, or a bit of both. Since the worship of Baal-Set continued in Egypt for at least two hundred years after the Exodus, long after the fall of the Hyksos kingdom, that may be closest to what happened.

Is it possible that the prophecy refers to David’s defeat of Set-worshiping desert nomads southeast of the Dead Sea? Maybe. To be honest, I was more excited about that idea a year and a half ago when I wrote The Great Inception. Now, not so much.

In our next installment, we’ll try another interpretation of that prophecy on for size.

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What happened to America Part II

The United States of America made a Covenant with God, only the second nation in history to do so.  The first was ancient Israel, when the son of King David, Solomon, reputed by many to be the wisest man who ever lived, built the First Temple in Jerusalem in roughly the year 1008 B.C. and publicly dedicated it with a prayer recorded in the Bible in I Kings chapter 8, and again in II Chronicles 6:13 to 7:9.  In it, he caused the people to realize that they had responsibilities to God that they were commanded to carry out if they expected God’s favor to be upon them.  For many years they did, to the best of their ability, and they were blessed.  And then they broke it, and at length were carried away captive into Babylon.

God judges people individually, but He judges nations by the character of their leaders.  As Dr. D. James Kennedy said some years ago, “Ungodly leaders make ungodly decisions, and discourage a conscience toward God.”  Individuals receive grace only because of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, God’s only Son, on the cross; nations receive grace in accordance with the conduct of their leaders and by extension, the conduct of the people they lead.  The United States had the first government in history that gave the common people permission to choose for themselves their leaders.  As we have seen, those choices have had history-changing consequences.

How does a nation break its Covenant with God?  The people of the United States kept it for almost two hundred years. How could a people so blessed by God suddenly decide to break the Covenant that was the source of their blessing?  What did they think could be gained by such a foolish act?  Did they know that they were doing such a deliberate and catastrophic deed?  The hard thing about law is that ignorance is no excuse.  God’s law is the same, it is in fact the source of man’s good laws; the bad ones men come up with themselves.  What those who broke the Covenant knew is irrelevant.  The fact that they broke it is the only thing that matters to God.

The concept of covenant is as old as man’s time on earth.  When two unfriendly tribes mutually decided to stop killing each other, the chiefs would slaughter a significant number of valuable animals, cut them in half and spread the bloody remains apart to create what was called “the walk of blood.”  The chiefs would then walk together through this path between the pieces pronouncing curses upon themselves and their children should they break the terms of the covenant.  This walk was repeated over and over again. They could hear each other and the more horrible and violent the curses each chief spoke against himself, his family, and his tribe – the more serious the other party listening would believe the covenant to be.  A covenant with God is as serious as anything on earth gets.

How did we break a covenant almost as old as the United States Constitution itself?

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The Second Coming of Hercules

The gods of Greek mythology are real. They’re angry, and they’re coming back.

Wait, you’re thinking. I thought this guy was a Christian.

Exactly.

The Greek tales of their deities and demigods are bastardized versions of true history. Zeus is Satan. The Titans are the “sons of god [who] came in to the daughters of man.” The heroes of the Golden Age were “the mighty men who were of old, the men of renown.”

Now, let’s be clear: We Christians do not seek truth in the myths of Greece and Rome. We can, however, gain a deeper understanding of the Bible by viewing the world through the eyes of the prophets and apostles, and they knew very well what their pagan neighbors believed. Much of what they wrote was directed at the pagan gods.

If you were brought up in church, there’s a good chance that, like me, you were taught that the idols of the pagans were lifeless blocks of wood and stone. That’s true, to a point. The pagans didn’t worship those carved images. An idol was like an antenna, a spiritual receiver that gave a god locality—a place to appear when the faithful called.

Those gods, though—they’re real.

That’s not the default teaching of most Christian churches. Sadly, most are out of step with the God they serve. God called the idols gods, so I’m on solid theological ground here. He’s judged them, found them wanting, and proclaimed a sentence of death on these rebels.

But they’re not dead yet. And just as you and I have free will to choose between right and wrong, so do they. God, who has seen the end from the beginning, has revealed enough about their plans through prophecy in the Bible to tell us that the ride on earth will get rough before Christ returns. Reading those prophecies with a better understanding of what the Hebrew prophets knew about the pagan gods reveals some startling insights about what lies ahead.

In my 2018 book Last Clash of the Titans, I presented evidence for a number of claims, many of which haven’t been made before to the best of my knowledge:

  • The Amorites of the ancient world are far more important to history than we’ve been taught.
  • The Titans, the old gods of the Greeks, are the biblical Watchers, the sons of God who took daughters of man as wives as described in Genesis 6:1–4.
  • Their offspring, the Nephilim (later called Rephaim), were the heroes and demigods of the Greeks.
  • The Amorites summoned the spirits of the Rephaim through necromancy rituals and believed they were the ancestors of their kings.
  • Balaam’s prophecy over Israel foretold the final destruction of the Nephilim by the Messiah.
  • Ezekiel’s prophecy of Gog and Magog tells us when and where they’ll be destroyed.
  • Gog won’t be human, and Magog is not Russia.
  • The spirit of primordial chaos, Leviathan, returns from the abyss as the Antichrist.
  • The Titans and their seed, the spirits of the Rephaim, return in the last days to fight at Armageddon.

As you may have noticed, the book focuses on the supernatural players of the end times. We spend too much time debating whether Vladimir Putin is Gog and not enough trying to discern the principalities and powers behind the scenes.

Now, I could be wrong about much of this. However, my analysis is backed by peer-reviewed, academic research. Most of it comes from secular scholars with no dog in the eschatological hunt. They’ve found many of the pieces of the puzzle, but they don’t see the whole picture because the missing pieces are in the Bible—and most of those scholars just won’t look there.

Likewise, many learned students and scholars of the Bible don’t look to secular academia for information. We Christians do see the big picture, but much of the background image is missing. There is no context for the crossing of the Red Sea, the march around the walls of Jericho, or the confrontation between Elijah and the priests of Baal. Why did God ask such things of His people? There are answers to those questions rooted in the history, culture, and religion of the people who lived in the lands of the Bible during the age of the prophets and apostles.

Is understanding that context essential to your eternal salvation? No. If you’ve accepted Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, your future is secure.

But understanding how the pagan gods of the ancient world have successfully rebranded themselves as action heroes for major motion pictures might be useful to reaching the lost. As Baudelaire wrote, “The finest trick of the devil is to persuade you that he does not exist.” Recent research shows that nearly 60 percent of American Christians have fallen for that lie.[1] God’s statement is as true today as it was 2,700 years ago: “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.”[2] How do you resist an enemy you think is make-believe?

Zeus, Hercules, the Olympians, and the Titans are real. They hate us, they want to kill us, and they’re coming back.

Get ready.

[1] Barna Group (2009). “Most American Christians Do Not Believe that Satan or the Holy Spirit Exist,” https://www.barna.com/research/most-american-christians-do-not-believe-that-satan-or-the-holy-spirit-exist/, retrieved 4/29/18.

[2] Hosea 4:6.

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What happened to America Part I

Having just commemorated Memorial Day in which we honor our military service members who have died in combat throughout our history as a nation, we are coming upon two additional extraordinary days that are worth our attention and devotion.  In just a few days, our country will celebrate in a special way the lives of those who dared everything 75 years ago when American, British and Canadian military forces stormed the beaches of Normandy to free Europe from the iron boot of National Socialism – the Nazis.

Roughly one month after this, we will celebrate the Fourth of July, remembering the day in 1776 when Americans declared themselves free of the tyranny that had become British rule of the colonies.  The Declaration of Independence is still cherished by most Americans as one of our key founding documents.  Over one million Americans have died in combat, both to make that declaration a reality and to preserve the United States of America.

How does a nation produce such men, willing to give up everything in life for a cause, in many cases for those living in other nations who are oppressed by forces that they alone cannot withstand?  To learn this, we must remember something which few Americans know and fewer care about.  We must remember the Covenant that the first national government of the United States made with God.

On April 30, 1789, the members of the United States federal government met together for the first time in St. Paul’s Cathedral in New York City to dedicate the newly formed nation under the just-ratified U.S. Constitution to God.  George Washington was not elected president – he was acclaimed.  Nobody would even think of running against him.  The new House of Representatives and Senate along with the Supreme Court declared in unison that this nation would be governed by God and the people would worship Him in the affairs of state and in their own lives.  No record of what was said exists – the occasion was too solemn for anyone to take notes.  But the event was known to all.

Within 50 years of making that Covenant with God, the United States of America was the envy of the world.  In commerce, in war, in the peace and tranquility of the lives of her citizens, The United States was unique.  The French writer Alexis de Tocqueville came here in the 1830’s and marveled at what he saw and heard.  He wrote a book called “Democracy in America” cataloguing those wonders, and gave God a significant place in his understanding of why this country above all others on the earth at the time was so blessed.

We made a Covenant with God.  We were blessed.  And then we broke it.

(to be continued)

Who is Baal, Really?

Texts from the Canaanite kingdom of Ugarit name Mount Zaphon as the site of Baal’s palace, but the capital of Yamḥad, Halab (Aleppo), was the City of Hadad, so called after the proper name of the storm-god (Baal was a title: “lord”). The god’s sanctuary there, which lies beneath a massive citadel in Aleppo’s old quarter, dates to the Early Bronze Age, the mid-3rd millennium BC (ca. 2500 BC), and it was in use until about the 9th century BC

The importance of the storm-god of Aleppo is highlighted by evidence of his cult across Mesopotamia and the Levant, from Nuzi, east of the Tigris River, to Hattuša, capital of the Hittite empire, in what is now north-central Turkey. By the old Babylonian period (roughly 1900-1600 BC), Hadad was the preeminent god in Mesopotamia. Emissaries from Elam (northwestern Iran) traveled to Aleppo to present the god with a bow as a gift.

Figurine of Baal found at Ugarit

Yamḥad enjoyed the benefits of the storm-god’s presence in its midst. The king was called “beloved of Hadad” and the kingdom was the Land of Hadad. The god bestowed kingship and assigned territory to kings, even to those outside the borders of Yamḥad. Before the Amorites swept into southern Mesopotamia and took control from the native Sumerians in the early 2nd millennium BC, that power was restricted to Enlil. (After the rise of Babylon, various deities besides Hadad, including Marduk, Dagan, and the moon-god Sîn, claimed king-making authority at different times and places.)

If you’re a reader of the Bible, you recognize that this is another bit of propaganda from the spirit realm. Scripture tells us “there is no [governing] authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God” (Romans 13:1, ESV).

It was believed that the sacred weapons forged for Baal by the craftsman god, Kothar-wa-Khasis (“Skillful-and-Wise,” or “Deft-and-Clever”), to defeat the sea-god Yam were kept at the temple of Hadad in Aleppo. Letters found at Mari confirm that the weapons, clubs named Yagrush (Chaser) and Aymur (Driver), were transported from Aleppo to the city of Terqa for Zimrī-Līm, the king of Mari during the time of Hammurabi (c. 1775 BC), and placed in the temple of Mari’s chief god, Dagan.

This is fascinating on a couple of levels. First, the clubs were actual physical objects that could be brought out and displayed during ceremonies. Second, the weapons apparently had a ritual function. Whether the clubs were returned to Aleppo, we don’t know, but it raises a disturbing thought: This is sheer speculation, but is it possible that these weapons, whatever they were, still exist, are in Aleppo today, and are somehow spiritually linked to the savage violence of the Syrian civil war?

Roughly 80 miles west of Aleppo, Mount Zaphon, the home of Baal’s palace, was known to the Greeks as Mount Kasios. The Greek storm-god Zeus was naturally identified with Baal-Hadad, and the aspect of Zeus who reigned there was known as Zeus Kasios (Jupiter Casius to the Romans).

We mentioned earlier that Mount Zaphon/Kasios was the site of the epic battle between Zeus and the chaos monster, Typhon, which is a clear parallel with Baal’s victory over Yam and his minion, the sea dragon Lotan (the Canaanite name for Leviathan).

The victory of a god over the chaos monster representing the sea or, as scholar Robert D. Miller termed it, the storm-god-slays-dragon myth, is a theme that stretches back to Sumer. The Zeus-Typhon and and Baal-Yam conflicts were preceded by the Hittite myth of Tarhunt and the dragon Illuyanka, the Indian myth of the god Indra’s defeat of the dragon Vrtra (with a thunderbolt, naturally), and before that, the account of Marduk and Tiamat in the Babylonian creation epic, the Enuma Elish.

In the god lists found at Ugarit, which serve as a lexicon between Ugaritic and Akkadian, Tiamat is equated with Baal’s nemesis, Yam. After his victory over Tiamat, Marduk, like Baal, was declared king of the gods and had a palace built in his honor.

Some scholars have observed that because no copy of the Enuma Elish predates the tablets containing the Baal Cycle found at Ugarit, and it probably originated no more than two hundred years before the Baal Cycle, the storm-god-slays-dragon myth may have traveled to Babylon from the region around Mount Zaphon and not, as is generally assumed, the other way around. This makes a lot of sense. It’s far more likely that people near the Mediterranean would envision the sea as a monstrous opponent of the gods than the inhabitants of arid central Mesopotamia.

As we mentioned earlier, the Sumerian storm-god Iškur may well have been a Semitic import. The Amorites were in contact with southern Mesopotamia from an early age. As with the belief that the storm-god was king of the gods, the account of his triumph over chaos may have traveled west to east with Amorite caravans. Of course, these tales were a PSYOP to lay claim to the victory that Yahweh had won over Leviathan and chaos.

There is another connection linking all these stories: We previously mentioned a letter to Zimrī-Līm, the king of Mari, confirming receipt of the weapons of Hadad at the temple of Dagan in Terqa. The king also received a message purportedly from the god himself through one of his prophets:

Thus says Adad [Hadad/Baal], I brought you back to the throne of your father, I brought you back. The weapons with which I fought Tiamat I gave to you. With the oil of my bitter victory I anointed you, and no one before you could stand.

A Prophetic Letter of Adad to Zimrī-Līm (A.1968)

The word translated “Tiamat”, têmtum (a variant form of Tiamat), is a cognate of the Hebrew word tehom, which appears in the very second verse of the Bible:

In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep (tehom). And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters. (Genesis 1:1-2, ESV)

Linking the Sumerian chaos goddess, Tiamat, and “the deep” of Genesis 1:2 puts that verse in a new light. Why did the Spirit of God hover over the waters? Is it possible Yahweh defeated a divine rebel before creating Adam and Eve? And having cast Tehom/Tiamat into the abyss, did His Spirit remain to guarantee the monster would stay there?

Thus, the creation of the world as recorded in Genesis is linked to the Enuma Elish, the Baal Cycle, and the storm-god-slays-dragon myths of ancient Anatolia and Greece, and probably the nightly contest between Set and Apophis, the Indian myth referenced above, the battles between Thor and Jörmungandr, and others.

Not surprisingly, secular scholars generally believe the Genesis account was inspired by the Babylonian myth instead of the other way around. But the oldest written account isn’t necessarily the one that’s true.

Why is all of this about the storm-god relevant? Because Isaiah 14:13 identifies Mount Zaphon—yarkete tsaphon in the Bible (usually translated “heights of the north,” “uttermost north,” or “sides of the north”)—as the “mount of assembly” of the rebel from Eden, and the rally point for the end-times army led by Gog of Magog. And Jesus identified the storm-god as Satan.

In other words, Satan is Baal—and by extension, Zeus, Jupiter, Thor, and every other pantheon’s incarnation of the storm-god.

Think about that. Two thousand years ago, Jesus called this creature the Father of Lies. Today, he’s a wisecracking superhero in the biggest motion picture in history.

,

“For Messiah, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed. Therefore let us keep the Festival, not with the old bread leavened with malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.”

Where in the Bible are these verses found? They are found in 1 Corinthians 5:7-8. Since I spend a lot of time speaking in Christian churches this has become my favorite passage about Passover.

Paul is not writing to the Jewish believers of Yeshua who are living in Jerusalem. He is writing to Corinthians; non-Jewish, gentile Christians. He identifies Messiah as our Passover Lamb. Since Paul identifies Yeshua as the Passover Lamb, he must have a reason for doing this. The more you study the Passover lamb, the more you’ll learn about what Yeshua did for you.

Paul also tells us that we’re not to be leavened with malice and wickedness, but we need to the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth. During Passover God tells us to remove leaven from our homes, and to eat unleavened bread (which is also known as matzah). Since Paul discusses unleavened bread and contrasts it with leavened bread, he must have something he wants to teach us. Why does Paul want us to be like unleavened bread, and not like leavened bread? What does removing leaven from our homes have to do with this? What can we learn from Passover?

Finally, Paul goes so far as to tell gentile, non-Jewish Christians that they are to “keep (or celebrate) the Festival (of Passover).” Why does Paul tell Christian to celebrate Passover? I am certain if you take the time to study the Passover lamb, and the purpose of removing leaven, you will clearly see why you need to celebrate Passover.

In God’s Word Christians are told to celebrate Passover. But I believe you have freedom in how you celebrate Passover. You can choose to embrace as much or little of the modern ritual of how to celebrate Passover. Throughout history Jewish people have created ways of remembering and teaching what God did for our ancestors. This is where our freedom comes in. We can choose to embrace the modern customs if we desire. But we are also free to teach it any way that helps us remember that God will do the same for us today.

I am spending the month of April traveling to churches and ministries in Tampa Bay to help Christians celebrate Passover. If you live in Tampa Bay, go to my events calendar on my Rabbi Ron Speaks Facebook Page or click on this link to see where I’ll be. https://www.facebook.com/pg/RabbiRonSpeaks/events/

If you would like me to visit your group and help you celebrate Messiah our Passover Lamb, contact me. I’d love to speak with you and show you how you can (spiritually) profit from Passover.

 

Nimrod and the Goddess

Nimrod was born in the second generation after the flood. His father was Cush, son of Ham, son
of Noah. In Sumerian history, the second king of Uruk after the flood was named Enmerkar, son
of Mesh-ki-ang-gasher.
The Hebrews, doing what they loved to do with language, transformed Enmer—the consonants
N-M-R (remember, no vowels in ancient Hebrew)—into Nimrod, which makes it sound like
marad, the Hebrew word for “rebel”.
As we mentioned in an earlier article in this series, an epic poem called Enmerkar and the Lord
of Aratta from around the time of Abraham, circa 2000 B.C., preserves the basic details of the
Tower of Babel story.
We don’t know exactly where Aratta was, but guesses range from northern Iran to Armenia.
(Which would be interesting. Not only is Armenia located near the center of an ancient kingdom
called Urartu, which may be a cognate for Aratta, it’s where Noah landed his boat—the
mountains of Ararat. So Nimrod/Enmerkar may have been intimidating his cousins who settled
close to where their great-grandfather landed the ark.)  Wherever it was, Enmerkar muscled this
neighboring kingdom to compel them to send building materials for a couple of projects near and
dear to his heart.
The poem refers to Enmerkar’s capital city, Uruk, as the “great mountain”. This is intriguing,
since Uruk, like most of Sumer, sits in an alluvial plain where there are precisely no mountains
whatsoever. Uruk was home to two of the chief gods of the Sumerian pantheon, Anu, the sky
god, and Inanna, his granddaughter, the goddess of war and sex. And by “sex,” we mean the
carnal, extramarital kind.
While Anu was pretty much retired, having handed over his duties as head of the pantheon to
Enlil, Inanna played a very active role in Sumerian society. For example, scholars have translated
ritual texts for innkeepers to pray to Innana, asking her to guarantee that their bordellos turn a
profit.
Apparently, the conflict between Enmerkar and the king of Aratta, whose name, we learn from a
separate epic, was Ensuhkeshdanna, was a dispute over who was Inanna’s favorite. One of the
building projects Enmerkar wanted to tackle was a magnificent temple to Inanna, the E-ana
(“House of Heaven”). He wanted Aratta to supply the raw materials. Apparently, this wasn’t only
because there isn’t much in the way of timber, jewels, or precious metal in the plains of Sumer,
but because Enmerkar wanted the lord of Aratta to submit and acknowledge that he was Inanna’s
chosen one. And so Enmerkar prayed to Inanna:
“My sister, let Aratta fashion gold and silver skillfully on my behalf for Unug [Uruk].
Let them cut the flawless lapis lazuli from the blocks, let them …… the translucence of
the flawless lapis lazuli ……. …… build a holy mountain in Unug. Let Aratta build a
temple brought down from heaven — your place of worship, the Shrine E-ana; let Aratta
skillfully fashion the interior of the holy jipar, your abode; may I, the radiant youth, may
I be embraced there by you. Let Aratta submit beneath the yoke for Unug on my
behalf.” 1

Notice that Inanna’s temple was, like Uruk, compared to a holy mountain. And given the type of
goddess Inanna was, the embrace Enmerkar wanted was more than just—ahem—a figure of
speech.

 

 

 

The Burney Relief at the British Museum is a terra cotta plaque dated to 1800-1750 B.C. It’s
believed to represent the goddess Inanna, also known as Ishtar, and later as Astarte of the Bible.
To be honest, some of the messages between Enmerkar and Ensuhkeshdanna about Inanna were
the kind of locker room talk that got Donald Trump into trouble during the 2016 presidential
campaign. But I digress.

Well… no. Let’s continue with the digression for a minute. We should stop for a brief look at
Inanna’s role in human history. The goddess has been known by many names through the ages:
Inanna in Sumer, Ishtar in Babylon, Astarte in Canaan, Atargatis in Syria, Aphrodite in Greece,
and Venus across the Roman world. Let’s just say the image we were taught of Aphrodite/Venus
in high school mythology class was way off.
Since we’d like to keep this a family-friendly article, we won’t dig too deeply into the history
and characteristics of Inanna. Scholars don’t completely agree on the details, but it’s safe to say
the goddess wasn’t a girl you’d bring home to meet your mother.
In fact, she wasn’t always a girl, period. You see, while Inanna was definitely the goddess with
the mostest when it came to sex appeal, she was also androgynous. She was sometimes shown
with masculine features like a beard. On one tablet (although from much later, in the first
millennium B.C., almost three thousand years after Nimrod), Inanna says, “When I sit in the
alehouse, I am a woman, and I am an exuberant young man.” 2 Her cult followers included

eunuchs and transvestites, and she was apparently the first in history to make a practice of sex
reassignment:
She [changes] the right side (male) into the left side (female),
She [changes] the left side into the right side,
She [turns] a man into a woman,
She [turns] a woman into a man
She ador[ns] a man as a woman,
She ador[ns] a woman as a man. 3
It’s wonderfully ironic. The 21st century progressive ideal of gender fluidity was personified
more than five thousand years ago by the Sumerian goddess Inanna, a woman who craved sex
and fighting as much (or more) than men, taking on all comers in love and war, and better than
men at both. Her personality is celebrated by modern scholars as complex and courageous,
transcending traditional gender roles, turning Inanna into an icon of independent
man/woman/other-hood.
There is an ongoing debate among scholars as to whether the priesthood of Inanna was involved
in ritual sex. The concept of divine marriage was common in ancient Mesopotamia, but generally
the participants were a god and his consort. It appears that the rituals were intended to please the
god so he’d be receptive to the requests from a city or kingdom under his protection.
However, as a harimtu, which may mean “temple prostitute” or may have simply referred to a
single woman, Inanna herself participated in the rite with a king. And since she was the dominant
partner in the ritual coupling, gender roles might not have been as clearly defined as we would
assume.
From a Christian perspective, however, Inanna isn’t complex at all. She’s a bad Hollywood
screenwriter’s idea of a 15-year-old boy’s fantasy woman. Inanna is selfish, ruled by her
passions, and destructive when she doesn’t get her way. The Sumerian hero Gilgamesh, who
ruled Uruk two generations after Enmerkar, is remembered partly for rejecting Inanna. As he
pointed out in the story, every one of the men in her life suffered horrible consequences—for
example, Dumuzi the Shepherd, who ruled as a king in Bad-Tibara, the second city in Sumer to
exercise kingship after Eridu.
In the myth, even though Inanna married Dumuzi, she was happy to throw him under the bus
when demons tried to drag her younger son, Lulal, down to the netherworld. At Inanna’s urging,
the demons spared Lulal and took Dumuzi instead. Dumuzi’s sister pleaded for him, so Inanna
agreed to allow her to take his place for half the year, thus making Dumuzi the first of many
“dying and rising gods” in the ancient Near East.
More than two thousand years later, one of the abominations God showed the prophet Ezekiel
was women at the entrance of the north gate of the Temple weeping for Dumuzi, called Tammuz
in the Bible.
Well, for his impudence at daring to remind Inanna about the fate of Dumuzi, and the other fools
who’d succumbed to the charms of the wild goddess, she flew up to heaven in a rage and
demanded that her father, the sky god Anu, unleash the Bull of Heaven on Gilgamesh. That

didn’t go well for the Bull of Heaven, but sadly for Gilgamesh, his best friend Enkidu was killed
by the gods as punishment for spoiling Inanna’s revenge.
We share all of this with you to make a point: This is the deity Enmerkar/Nimrod wanted to make
the patron goddess of his city, Uruk. Could it be that veneration of the violent, sex-crazed,
gender-bending Inanna was responsible for Yahweh’s decision to stop Nimrod’s artificial holy
mountain?
Well, no, probably not. Inanna has enjoyed a very long run near the top of the Most Popular
Deities list. And why not? Selling humans on the concept of sex as worship is easy.
Looking at the values of our modern society, it’s no stretch to say that Inanna is the spirit of the
age. Gender fluidity is the flavor of the month among progressives in the West. The values of
Inanna—immediate gratification and sex with whoever, whenever—are considered more open-
minded, tolerant, and loving than the virtues of chastity, fidelity, and faithfulness introduced by
Yahweh long after Inanna was first worshiped as the Queen of Heaven.
Of course, this means the so-called progressive ideas about gender and sexual morality promoted
by academia and the mainstream media are actually REgressive! The enlightened think they’re
on the cutting edge, breaking new ground and smashing old paradigms, when in fact they’re just
setting the calendar back to more than a thousand years before Abraham.
If Yahweh had genuinely intervened to put a stop to the cult of Inanna, she would be long
forgotten. Instead, as the Queen of Heaven. mentioned by the prophet Jeremiah, her cult has
continued for thousands of years. She became Aphrodite and Venus of the classical era, and was
eventually Christianized and venerated as the Virgin Mary.
But the transgression of Nimrod was much more serious than worshiping Inanna. He tried to
expand and upgrade the home of the god Enki, the abzu—the abyss—to create a dwelling place
for the gods on Earth.
For more on that story, see our earlier article, “ The Tower of Babel: Abode of the Gods. ”

1 Black, J.A., Cunningham, G., Fluckiger-Hawker, E, Robson, E., and Zólyomi, G. “Enmerkar
and the Lord of Aratta,” The Electronic Text Corpus of Sumerian Literature
(http://etcsl.orinst.ox.ac.uk/cgi-bin/etcsl.cgi?text=t.1.8.2.3#), retrieved 12/17/16.
2 Black, J.A., Cunningham, G., Fluckiger-Hawker, E, Robson, E., and Zólyomi, G. “A cir-
namcub to Inana (Inana I),” The Electronic Text Corpus of Sumerian Literature
(http://etcsl.orinst.ox.ac.uk/cgi-bin/etcsl.cgi?text=t.4.07.9&charenc=j#), retrieved 12/17/16.
3 Sjoberg, A.W. “In-nin Sa-gur-ra: A Hymn to the Goddess Inanna,” Zeitschrift fur Assyriologie
65, no. 2 (1976), p. 225.