Bible verses about
Nimrod, Semiramis and Tammuz
(From Forerunner Commentary)
In verse 14, Ezekiel expresses his "dismay" at yet a greater abomination: "women . . . weeping for Tammuz." This is another pagan practice, a very sexual one involving ritual prostitution. Ezekiel saw them involved in a rite in which they were mourning the death of a Mesopotamian god whose myth said he was resurrected to new life, a mockery of the redeeming death and life-giving resurrection of the true Son of God. This vision reveals that paganism had deeply affected the women in Israelite society as well.
In verse 16, the prophet sees a fourth vision in the inner court of the Temple—"about twenty-five men with their backs toward the temple and their faces toward the east, and they were worshipping the sun toward the east." This is obviously some sort of pagan sunrise service, in which they honor the sun more highly than God, to whom they contemptuously show their backsides.
Each abomination is described as being greater in wickedness than the one before. In verse 17, God asks, "Is it a trivial thing to the house of Judah to commit abominations which they commit here [in the Temple!]? For they have filled the land with violence; then they have returned to provoke Me to anger."
These leaders displayed no social responsibility whatsoever. They led their society to become one of rape and rapine, murder and violence in every quarter. Yet these hypocritical leaders dared to return to God's Temple, retiring furtively to its inner rooms to practice their pagan rites "in the dark" (verse 12).
The Torment of the Godly (Part One)
The idea of inferiority seems to pass to the succeeding empires as well. But in what way was Medo-Persia inferior?
Medo-Persia controlled a larger territory than did Babylon, so it was certainly not inferior in political or military might. Even before the fall of Babylon, Cyrus had defeated the wealthy Croesus, king of Lydia in Asia Minor (546 BC). After victories in central Iran and in Phoenicia, he conquered Babylon in 539 BC, and his son Cambyses overthrew Egypt and Libya in 525 BC. At its height the Persian Empire was nearly double the size of Babylon.
It did, however, have a problem with internal unity. Cyrus, a Persian, initiated the growth of the empire by usurping the Median throne with the help of the Median nobility. The empire, from this point on, was dominated by Persians, or as the Bible says, the "bear . . . was raised up on one side" (Daniel 7:5). The two arms of the image symbolize this division.
Also, each time an emperor died, severe struggles erupted over succession to the throne. Fortunately, mostly strong and capable rulers won these struggles, especially during its first century, and kept the empire whole for over two hundred years. Only the superior might of Alexander's Macedonian army spelled its downfall.
Another factor of its inferiority was, oddly, its rulers. Cyrus, regaled in the Bible as God's "shepherd" and "His anointed" (Isaiah 44:28-45:13), was not the same caliber of man as Nebuchadnezzar. Though he was a humane and conciliatory ruler for his time, he neither lived long enough to stamp his character on his realm (d. 529 BC), nor did he acknowledge God's sovereignty as did his predecessor (Daniel 4:28-37).
In relation to this, the word inferior itself ('ara') means "earth, world, ground." Persia was literally more "earthly" or "worldly" than Babylon in God's eyes. The aims and drives of its kings were, as a whole, of a lower nature than Babylon's, though the latter's were certainly misguided as well. However, the trajectory of this factor in all these kingdoms is, according to the prophecy, downward, and it sinks further with each new empire.
On the other hand, it must be injected here that Cyrus was the instrument that God used to reestablish the Temple in Jerusalem (II Chronicles 36:22-23). The Persians had a general policy to honor the gods of all their defeated enemies by repairing or rebuilding temples and giving offerings to them. This was mainly done to appease the gods "just in case" they had been offended by the subjugation of their peoples, as well as to smooth relations between the Persians and their vassals. Scholars are still divided over whether Cyrus actually meant that the God of Israel was indeed the true God and thus his sovereign Lord. Most think he did not because decrees to other nations have been found in which similar language is used.
Unlike the Babylonians, the Persian Empire centered squarely on its military and political bases rather than its religious, cultural, or economic life. Historians consider the Persian imperial political structure and administrative forms to be the finest example of government before the Roman period. In fact, they think that the Romans borrowed Persian ideas in forming their own. This meant that the real basis of power in the empire was the army, even above that of the king, although the king supposedly controlled the army.
The religion of the Persians was Zoroastrianism, a dualistic belief in good and evil and man's struggle between them. Although it was less bloody, warlike, idolatrous, and superstitious than other polytheistic religions of the region, it retained vestiges of ancient beliefs that eventually supplanted it. The cults of Mithra, the sun god, and Anaita, the goddess of fertility—similar to Nimrod/Tammuz and Semiramis, the old Babylonian Mystery Religion—grew in popularity until Zoroastrianism faded into obscurity. But its principle of dualism lived on in Gnosticism and the mystery religions of the Roman Empire. Some of these beliefs and practices (such as Mithra's birthday, December 25; Sunday as a holy day; All Soul's Day; and heaven, hell and purgatory) were later embraced by Catholicism to counter the popularity of these cults.
Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Nebuchadnezzar's Image (Part Two): Chest and Arms of Silver
Maybe the most blatant idolatry in Roman Catholicism is their adoration of Mary, the mother of Christ. On the basis of one scripture, Luke 1:28, Catholic theologians have built a major tenet of their faith: "And having come in, the angel said to her, 'Rejoice, highly favored one, the Lord is with you; blessed are you among women!'" With this, they elevate her nearly to a goddess (if not in fact), pray to her incessantly, claim to see her in visions and hear her in dreams and trances, and worship statues of her in their churches and cathedrals!
Two quotations from supposed saints of Catholicism will suffice to illustrate how far Mary worship goes:
? There is no one, O most holy Mary . . . who can be saved or redeemed but through thee. . . . (St. Germanius, quoted in St. Alphonsus de Liguori, The Glories of Mary, 1931, p. 171.)
? As we have access to the Eternal Father only through Jesus Christ, so have we access to Jesus Christ only through Mary. By thee we have access to the Son, O blessed finder of grace, bearer of life, and mother of salvation. . . . (St. Bernard, ibid.)
The Catholic Church has elevated Mary to divine status and given her titles and responsibilities reserved to God the Father and His Son! In fact, she becomes the third member of a trinity modeled after the pagan trinities of ancient times. These heathen trinities, found in most polytheistic religions, follow the Father-Mother-Son pattern: Osiris, Isis and Horus; Nimrod, Semiramis and Tammuz; Zeus, Diana, Dionysus; Jupiter, Venus and Cupid; etc.
In like manner, some Catholics attribute to Mary the position and characteristics of the third person of their unscriptural trinity, the Holy Spirit. The official publication of "The Blue Army of Our Lady of Fatima," boasting 22 million members, claims:
Mary is so perfectly united with the Holy Spirit that He acts only through His spouse. . . . All our life, every thought, word, and deed is in Her hands . . . at every moment, She Herself must instruct, guide, and transform each one of us into Herself, so that not we but She lives in us, as Jesus lives in Her, and the Father in the Son. (Soul Magazine, November—December 1984, p.4.)
If she has these powers and characteristics, then Mary must be God! There can be no doubt that this adoration of Mary is simply a modern manifestation of goddess worship that began over 4,000 years ago in Mesopotamia! In fact, one of her titles, as used by the present Pope, a devoted Marian, is "Queen of Heaven" (Jeremiah 7:18; 44:17-19, 25)!
Richard T. Ritenbaugh
The Woman Atop the Beast (Part 1)
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