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Surely That is in the Bible

By Jim Huskins

McDowell County

 

“God helps those who help themselves.” I heard this stated so often and so confidently that I was sure it was scripture. It is not. The concept is traceable to both Euripides and Sophocles, but the modern wording is credited to English political writer, Algernon Sidney. Benjamin Franklin did not coin the phrase.

The only way to know what the Bible says is to read it. My campaign for the Year of Perfect Vision is to encourage every believer to read the Bible start to finish over twelve months. If you do that, you will discover that God’s Word does not instruct His people to observe an event that most Christians hold dear: Easter.

Some of the background of Easter is mentioned in scripture. Genesis chapter 10 tells the story of Noah’s great-grandson, Nimrod. Verses 10-12 list the cities he established. One of them was Babel. The next chapter tells how a famous tower in Babel was a direct affront to God. Babel was the beginning of the nation of Babylon, and Babylon was the source of polytheism. The Babylonians were particularly fond of worshipping the sun.

After God confounded the languages and dispersed the people of Babel, they carried sun god worship across the earth: Ra in Egypt, Zeus in Greece, Mithra in Rome. Sun worship is universal. The Babylonians called their sun god Tammuz.

Their legends tell that Nimrod married Semiramis. When Nimrod died, he was taken to heaven and turned into the actual sun. After Nimrod’s death, his widow was impregnated by the rays of the sun. On December 25th, she gave birth to a boy which she named Tammuz. At the age of forty, Tammuz was killed by a wild boar. He was taken to heaven and became the sun god.

Those same legends say that when Semiramis, Tammuz’s mother, eventually died; the gods sent her back to earth in a giant egg. It landed in the Euphrates River at sunrise on the first Sunday following the vernal equinox. When she burst from her egg, she proved her divinity by changing a bird into an egg-laying rabbit. Semiramis, the wife of Nimrod, mother of Tammuz, became the naked fertility goddess of Babylonian sun-god worship. Following her rebirth, her name was Ishtar. The name later changed to Eestra.

Every spring, Babylonian sun-worshippers set aside forty days of mourning for Tammuz—one day for each year of his life. This period culminated on Ishtar Sunday. On that day, they avenged the death of Tammuz by killing a wild boar and eating ham. The priests of Ishtar made a ritual of impregnating virgins during her celebration. One year later, they sacrificed the three-month-old babies and dyed eggs in the infant’s blood.

The fact that so many of these pagan rituals have come to be considered “normal” aspects of Christian worship is testimony to the tenacity and influence of political and ecclesiastical power centered in fourth-century Rome. Roman society of that age was built on sun worship. The thin veneer of Christianity implemented by Constantine I was a political ploy. The adoption of sun god festivals and practices made it easier for the Roman church to appeal to that culture.

The net result is that many centuries later, most Christians enthusiastically engage in the rituals of sun god worship convinced that they are actually worshipping the Creator of the universe. When confronted with the origins of those rituals, they typically respond, “Well, that’s not what it means to me.” I have yet to find any passage of scripture where God gives us the right to redefine worship as we see fit.

On the other hand, the Bible is packed with accounts of how God hates pagan worship. He called Abraham out of Babylonian sun-worship so that He could begin His chosen nation. He rescued His chosen nation from Egyptian sun god culture so He could lead them to Canaan. He commanded His chosen nation to eliminate entire Canaanite nations partly because they were devoted to the practices of sun god worship. He referred to those practices using the strongest Hebrew word. That word is typically translated into English as “abomination.”

Deuteronomy 12 gives God’s perspective on pagan worship. The entire chapter is sobering. Verses 30 and 31 tell us that we must not worship Him in the same way that the pagans worship their gods. Many Christians tell me that Christ has “redeemed” pagan worship practices, but the Bible teaches that we should flee from them. Israel did not learn this lesson until their pagan worship finally led them into captivity in Babylon, the source of those abominable acts of worship.

Scripture specifically mentions practices we associate with Easter. In Ezekiel 8:14-17, the prophet tells of seeing Israelite women weeping for Tammuz at the entrance of the Temple and Israelite men in that same location facing the east and worshipping the sun. “Weeping for Tammuz” involved ritual prostitution. God tells Ezekiel that these practices are abominations.

This year, the threat of viral pandemic will keep many Christians from holding up their hands to the sun as it rises, sharing the ham dinner, and hiding colored eggs; but most will wish they were doing those things. They would tell me that “God knows their heart.” Indeed, He does. His clearly-stated position is that pagan worship rituals are still an abomination, and that a heart which deliberately disobeys Him is not attuned to His ways.

Do not take my word for any of these things. Please study and discover for yourself.

Obedient Heart Fellowship believes that the entire Bible is true and relevant. We accept salvation by grace through faith in Jesus, and we attempt to love and serve Him by keeping his commandments. See Revelation 14:12. We will resume meeting each Sabbath—Seventh Day—in Marion after present health concerns are resolved. Email to receive weekly teaching. lostranger@mindspring.com

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Jim & Beverly Huskins are members of Obedient Heart Fellowship

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