By Ted Kyle
There is nothing new under the sun (Eccl. 1:9). Everything that man can do to man has been done before–and will be done again.
Especially is this true of false teachers and prophets leading the credulous astray. It was done anciently; it was done in the middle years; it is being done today; and it will be done in the end of days. More about the connection with today and the last days, after a bit of historical catching-up.
This trail of betrayal and delusion began with the first gathering of mankind together into a nation. That nation was ruled by Nimrod (Gen. 10:8; 1 Chron. 1:10; Micah 5:6), until his death; and in that same general time frame, God splintered the proto-nation into family (tribal) groups with the Confusion of Tongues at Babel.
But then, as Alexander Hislop (1807-1865) pieced pre-history together1, Semiramis, Nimrod’s widow, was the guiding (human) spirit behind a new religion artfully crafted to pull the tribes of man back into a new spiritual unity–and ultimately a political unity as well. Guiding the guide, of course, was Satan, ever intent on thwarting God’s plans for man and substituting his own.
So powerful was this pagan religion that it ultimately led very nearly the entire world into apostasy. It goes by many names and takes many forms in many lands. It pays homage to many gods. But their original impetus derived from the first delusion of a powerful leader (Nimrod) who was slain and who was believed to have returned to life as a great god
These related religions were known as “mystery religions,” for they were shrouded in mysteries revealed only to initiates. Hence there was a popular level of revealed pagan religion, into which the masses entered, and a higher level open only to a select few, who underwent initiation rites which they were sworn never to reveal.
How Did the Great Apostasy Happen?
Please recall that all this began just a few generations after the Great Flood. Nimrod was a great-grandson of Noah (Gen. 10:7)–and Noah was well acquainted with Jehovah God! Not only did Noah know God, he survived the Flood by 350 years (Gen. 9:28). So he was still very much alive when Nimrod flourished! (If you wish to delve into this complex web of false spirits and false gods for yourself, see footnote 1 for a source to begin.)
In view of the brief time frame and the overwhelming success of the mystery religions we must ask: How was it possible to pull the wool over almost the whole of mankind so thoroughly as to cause them to turn their backs upon the true God, who had so recently revealed His awesome power through the Great Flood?
There is a large clue in Deuteronomy 13:1-3. In this passage, which is included in Moses’ restatement and summation of the Mosaic Law, is a warning from God about false prophets: “If there arise among you a prophet, or a dreamer of dreams, and giveth thee a sign or a wonder, And the sign or the wonder come to pass, whereof he spake unto thee, saying, Let us go after other gods, which thou hast not known, and let us serve them; Thou shalt not hearken unto the words of that prophet, or that dreamer of dreams: for the Lord your God proveth you, to know whether ye love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul.”
If a prophet gives a sign or wonder, and the sign or wonder comes to pass…. Think about that. God was warning the Children of Israel against genuine wonders–things that would really happen or at the very least would convincingly appear to happen–but they would be false signs. And God would allow this as a test to show who really loved Him–and who therefore would resist the tremendous temptation to follow the crowd, which was being swayed by what their eyes beheld or their hearts believed.
We are told by ancient historians Justin and Epiphanius that in the initiation rites the image of a god (Osiris, Tammuz, or Adonis–all of whom Hislop believed represented Nimrod) spoke to the candidates (Hislop, p. 67). We are also, however, given to understand that powerful drugs were administered to the candidates, and these may have be halucinatory. In any case, the candidates were convinced–not only of the truth of the vision but also that they would be forever lost if they revealed beyond the brotherhood what they had seen and heard.
A Three-Fold Deception
I believe that the appeal of this false religion was three-fold, relying on false signs, a false vision, and a false permissiveness. The vision centered, I am convinced, on a false messiah or savior, who offered devotees the salvation mankind has always yearned for. This false messiah was Nimrod or one of his many avatars.2 But this spiritual bait offered yet more–much more! Not only was a savior put forward, with the hope of eternal life, but men and women could have all this without giving up the sinful pleasures of this life. In fact, Semiramis, who was subsequently “deified” by this false religion, was known to be a lewd woman, reveling in orgies. She encouraged her devotees to follow her example–and perhaps this was the greatest lure of all!
Summing up, think of the great deception as a savior offered, with confirming signs, and “come as you are–stay as you are.” Small wonder that the bait was swallowed en masse!
Note especially that Satan put forward his own candidate for the Messiah many centuries before God, in the fullness of time, revealed Jesus Christ as the true Messiah (see Hislop, chapter 2, sub-section 5, p. 58 ff).
Demonic Influence Over Israel and the Young Church
I will not belabor this point, for it is obvious that the same seductive power which was exercised over all mankind shortly after the Fall was specifically exercised over the Children of Israel to lead them from worshipping Jehovah God to serving the false gods of surrounding pagan nations. Suffice it to quote a warning from God given shortly before Moses’ successor, Joshua, led the Israelites into the Promised Land.
Moses told the assembled people that after they crossed the Jordan, they would face blessings from Mt. Gerizim if they obeyed the Lord, and curses from Mt. Ebal if they disobeyed Him. The first curse pronounced was against setting up idols, which represented false gods: “Cursed be the man that maketh any graven or molten image, an abomination unto the LORD, the work of the hands of the craftsman, and putteth it in a secret place. And all the people shall answer and say, Amen” (Deut. 27:15). But despite their good intentions at that instant, the time came when “They sacrificed unto devils, not to God; to gods whom they knew not, to new gods that came newly up, whom your fathers feared not” (Deut. 32:17). The Old Testament goes on to record the dismal fulfillment of that curse and its consequences among the Chosen People.
That the apostasy was still a huge issue at the time of Christ, and spilled over into His young Church, is shown in Paul’s warning to the Corinthians: “What say I then? that the idol is any thing, or that which is offered in sacrifice to idols is any thing? But I say, that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to devils (demons), and not to God: and I would not that ye should have fellowship with devils. Ye cannot drink the cup of the Lord, and the cup of devils: ye cannot be partakers of the Lord’s table, and of the table of devils” (1 Cor. 10:19-21).
Demonic Power Is at Work Even Now
Is demonic power active in our present-day culture? Indeed it is, despite the fact that we live in a society that essentially does not believe in supernatural power of any sort. For this reason, Satan’s “powers of the air” tend to be low-key and at work behind the scenes, but they are present. For example, Mormon missionaries ask prospective converts to read the Book of Mormon and then wait for a burning in their breast, which, they say, will confirm the truth of the Book of Mormon. If they pray for it, they will generally get it!
Many New Agers look for the appearance of The Coming One prophesied by Alice Ann Bailey, who wrote books dictated to her by her “spirit master.”3 Ray Yungen (see footnote 3) notes: “To occultists, the significance of the Alice Bailey writings has heralded anticipation of a World Healer and Savior [author’s emphasis] in the coming Aquarian Age (the astrological age of enlightenment and peace). This savior would unite all mankind under his guidance. … This person was not to be the Lord Jesus Christ, of whom Christians await the return, but an entirely different individual who would embody all the great principles of occultism, chiefly the divinity and perfectability of man.”4
Yungen, in his book, documents the rapid expansion of New Age principles in the present day, including ominous inroads into the Church. But while the principles are purely New Age, they are being sold to the credulous as exciting revelations of new paths to spiritual growth for our time. And this is taking place not only in mainline denominations which have been drifting from biblical Christianity for decades, but also in Evangelical Churches.
Demonic Power Will Grow Stronger in the Last Days
I am convinced that the world is being prepared even now to accept and believe the witness of the sign when the false prophet will call down fire from heaven (Rev. 13:13). Note, for example, the unprecedented increase in emphasis on television on supernatural powers, ghosts, and spirits. These themes have been around for a very long time, but not since the superstitious days of the Middle Ages have they been accentuated so heavily. This build-up, I believe, is preparing the populace for Satan’s introduction of the Beast and his false prophet, who will deceive “them that dwell on the earth by the means of those miracles which he had power to do in the sight of the beast;” (Rev. 13-14).
Thus will the false prophet seemingly verify that the Beast that rose out of the sea (Rev. 13:1), also known as “the son of perdition” and the anti-Christ, is indeed the promised Messiah. Once again, God will be testing mankind by allowing these miracle-signs, to reveal the faithful remnant that will cling to the revealed Word and will not be snared by the Anti-Christ’s powerful delusion.
May all who read these words be among that faithful remnant!
1. Alexander Hislop, The Two Babylons, researched and first published as a book in 1858, currently available from Chick Publications. Note: While some of Hislop’s extrapolations and projections seem forced, his prodigious research into ancient sources cannot be written off, and I believe that his general conclusions are sound. It is obvious that something led the world rapidly away from God, and Hislopâ€™s explanation is the most logical description I know of.
2. Ibid., p. 59
3. Ray Yungen, A Time of Departing, 2d ed., Lighthouse Trails Pub. Co., Silverton, Or, 2006, p. 112 ff.
4. Ibid., p. 113.
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