Heathen Churches #5

Saturday, August 6, 2022

For ye have brought hither these men, which are neither robbers of churches, nor yet blasphemers of your goddess (Acts 19:37 KJV).

Do even the “heathen” attend church? Yes, according to today’s Scripture, they do!

The Holy Bible says “heathen,” among other traits, have “churches,” repetitious prayers (chants), and various “aids to worship” (idols, images, and shrines). In fact, the ancient Jews corrupted the LORD’S Jerusalem Temple with this false religion. “Moreover all the chief of the priests, and the people, transgressed very much after all the abominations of the heathen; and polluted the house of the LORD which he had hallowed in Jerusalem(2 Chronicles 36:14). That evil religion had so infiltrated Israel during Christ’s earthly ministry that He addressed and condemned it (see Matthew 6:7,8; Matthew 23:1-39)! It had caused the deaths of countless Jewish saints, and even Jesus was ultimately murdered because this heathen mindset infected and confused His people.

In one sense, it was actually easier to become a Christian and learn Christian truth 2,000 years ago than it is today. Back then, there were not tens of thousands of “Christian” denominations riddled with heathenism all claiming to be “the church Jesus founded” as now. It was far simpler to identify Christian teaching, seeing how it was separate and distinct from heathenism. Over these last 20 centuries, however, the definite lines between truth and error have become blurred. The advanced revelations the resurrected, ascended, and glorified Lord Jesus Christ gave the world through the Apostle Paul, have been increasingly set aside in favor of the pagan darkness they were meant to overcome.

“But rise, and stand upon thy feet: for I have appeared unto thee for this purpose, to make thee a minister and a witness both of these things which thou hast seen, and of those things in the which I will appear unto thee; Delivering thee from the people, and from the Gentiles [heathen!], unto whom now I send thee, To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me (Acts 26:16-18). If we are to guard against heathen churches, we had better look especially to Paul’s epistles, Romans through Philemon.

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Heathen Churches #4

Friday, August 5, 2022

For ye have brought hither these men, which are neither robbers of churches, nor yet blasphemers of your goddess (Acts 19:37 KJV).

Do even the “heathen” attend church? Yes, according to today’s Scripture, they do!

The Holy Spirit’s commentary on Israel’s 10 northern tribes: “And they rejected his statutes, and his covenant that he made with their fathers, and his testimonies which he testified against them; and they followed vanity, and became vain, and went after the heathen that were round about them, concerning whom the LORD had charged them, that they should not do like them. And they left all the commandments of the LORD their God, and made them molten images, even two calves, and made a grove [shrine], and worshipped all the host of heaven, and served Baal [an idol]” (2 Kings 17:15,16). These sins resulted in their being taken away in judgment via the Assyrian Captivity.

About the two tribes of the Southern Kingdom (Judah), the Prophet Jeremiah penned: “Hear ye the word which the LORD speaketh unto you, O house of Israel: Thus saith the LORD, Learn not the way of the heathen, and be not dismayed at the signs of heaven; for the heathen are dismayed at them. For the customs of the people are vain: for one cutteth a tree out of the forest, the work of the hands of the workman, with the axe. They deck it with silver and with gold; they fasten it with nails and with hammers, that it move not. They are upright as the palm tree, but speak not: they must needs be borne, because they cannot go. Be not afraid of them; for they cannot do evil, neither also is it in them to do good” (Jeremiah 10:1-5). Do you happen to know of any trees decorated with “silver and gold” for religious purposes? The Bible calls it heathenism, not Christianity!

“Images,” shrines, and “idols” are aids to worship in heathenism. “The idols of the heathen are silver and gold, the work of men’s hands” (Psalm 135:15). “And that which cometh into your mind shall not be at all, that ye say, We will be as the heathen, as the families of the countries, to serve wood and stone [idols] (Ezekiel 20:32). Let us summarize and conclude this devotionals arc….

Heathen Churches #3

Thursday, August 4, 2022

For ye have brought hither these men, which are neither robbers of churches, nor yet blasphemers of your goddess (Acts 19:37 KJV).

Do even the “heathen” attend church? Yes, according to today’s Scripture, they do!

Heathen also pray. Therefore, praying in and of itself is no automatic indication a person is a Christian. We ponder this excerpt from the Sermon on the Mount: But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking. Be not ye therefore like unto them: for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him” (Matthew 6:7,8).

In Christ’s day, the “heathen” (Gentiles, nations) recited prayers that were nothing but “vain repetitions.” Over and over and over and over and over again, these idolaters begged their deities (gods and goddesses) to intervene and give them this or give them that. They were under the impression that repeating something constantly would increase the likelihood of a “higher power” taking notice and helping them by answering their prayers. It was such mindless, mechanical, empty behavior that the speech was spiritual gibberish or babblings. The Lord Jesus instructed His followers that this was not how His Heavenly Father operated and it was not how He wanted them to function either.

We must always remember the religious or belief systems in existence today (except Judaism and Christianity), in their most basic form, can be traced back to the Tower of Babel in Genesis chapter 11. Consequently, the “vain repetitions” of Christ’s earthly ministry are with us even now. They have existed for millennia in Eastern or Oriental religions—and they are known as “breath prayers” (essentially, mantras or chants). When Roman Catholicism was being developed during the three or four centuries after Christ, these breath prayers influenced the institution of the rosary, a series of elaborate petitions and adulations meant to influence a “higher power” through habitual recital. Ignorant Protestants, while not accepting the rosary, nevertheless also practice similar “breath prayers” to some degree at times (for instance, “Jesus, I love you, Jesus, I love you;” or, “Praise God, Praise God, Praise God”). Yes, it is controversial. It is also heathenism in “Christian” churches….

The Accursed Thing! #8

Friday, January 21, 2022

But the children of Israel committed a trespass in the accursed thing: for Achan, the son of Carmi, the son of Zabdi, the son of Zerah, of the tribe of Judah, took of the accursed thing: and the anger of the LORD was kindled against the children of Israel (Joshua 7:1 KJV).

Just what is this “accursed thing?” How will it affect the Israelites here in “time past?” What does this say about their fate in “the ages to come?”

Recall Achan’s sin was judged in “the Valley of Achor [trouble]” (verses 24,26), an area due south of Jericho, roughly halfway between the city and the Dead Sea. This area is significant in prophecy, for it is one of the regions to which Israel’s believing remnant will flee as they escape the Antichrist. Whereas the nation Israel was steeped in idolatry in the Old Testament and will be even more so with the Antichrist, there is a group of saints within the nation who will be preserved from Satan’s policy of evil. Achor will not only be a place of judgment and trouble, but also one of salvation and hope.

Hosea chapter 2: “[14] Therefore, behold, I will allure her, and bring her into the wilderness, and speak comfortably unto her. [15] And I will give her her vineyards from thence, and the valley of Achor for a door of hope: and she shall sing there, as in the days of her youth, and as in the day when she came up out of the land of Egypt. [16] And it shall be at that day, saith the LORD, that thou shalt call me Ishi [‘husband’]; and shalt call me no more Baali [‘lord’]. [17] For I will take away the names of Baalim out of her mouth, and they shall no more be remembered by their name.” Also, Isaiah 65:10: “And Sharon shall be a fold of flocks, and the valley of Achor a place for the herds to lie down in, for my people that have sought me.”

Here, Israel is purged of pagan idolatry, including Baal worship, and is triumphant over all Satan’s policy of evil, ready to become God’s kingdom of priests in God’s land at Jesus Christ’s Second Coming to meet them!

The Accursed Thing! #7

Thursday, January 20, 2022

But the children of Israel committed a trespass in the accursed thing: for Achan, the son of Carmi, the son of Zabdi, the son of Zerah, of the tribe of Judah, took of the accursed thing: and the anger of the LORD was kindled against the children of Israel (Joshua 7:1 KJV).

Just what is this “accursed thing?” How will it affect the Israelites here in “time past?” What does this say about their fate in “the ages to come?”

In Scripture, Babylon (near modern Baghdad, Iraq) is notable for its pagan idolatry. “…Babylon is fallen, is fallen; and all the graven images of her gods he hath broken unto the ground” (Isaiah 21:9). “Declare ye among the nations, and publish, and set up a standard; publish, and conceal not: say, Babylon is taken, Bel [Babylonian deity] is confounded, Merodach [another Babylonian deity] is broken in pieces; her idols are confounded, her images are broken in pieces (Jeremiah 50:2). “Therefore, behold, the days come, that I will do judgment upon the graven images of Babylon: and her whole land shall be confounded, and all her slain shall fall in the midst of her” (Jeremiah 51:47).

Dear friends, never should we see the Bible as “dead history,” things of the past, events never to be repeated. These passages of Scripture are not only historical, they are also prophetic. What happened then loops forward to what will transpire in the future. While these Old Testament Prophets were foretelling the short-term destruction of ancient Babylon by Persian King Cyrus the Great in 536 B.C. (Daniel 5:30-31), they were also providing a glimpse of the long-term destruction of new Babylon under the Antichrist beyond our day. You can read about future Babylon in Revelation 14:8, Revelation 16:19, and Revelation chapters 17–18. Satan’s monstrous political-religious system will finally and permanently be annihilated at Christ’s Second Coming!

Also, consider the evil religion and devils in Zechariah 5:5-11, with “the land of the Shinar” (verse 11) being the site of Babylon and the Tower of Babel (cf. Genesis 10:10; Daniel 1:1,2)—this is the Whore of Babylon and all her attendant spiritual harlot “daughters” (religions, cults, denominations) corrupting Israel and the nations. Thankfully, for believing Israel, however, the Valley of Achor will provide an escape….

Our two latest Bible Q&As: “What does ‘All hail’ mean in Matthew 28:9?” and “Can you explain ‘God speed’ in 2 John?

NOTE: Happy 42nd Spiritual Birthday to my Mom, who will no doubt read this!

The Accursed Thing! #6

Wednesday, January 19, 2022

But the children of Israel committed a trespass in the accursed thing: for Achan, the son of Carmi, the son of Zabdi, the son of Zerah, of the tribe of Judah, took of the accursed thing: and the anger of the LORD was kindled against the children of Israel (Joshua 7:1 KJV).

Just what is this “accursed thing?” How will it affect the Israelites here in “time past?” What does this say about their fate in “the ages to come?”

Achan aligned himself with Babylonian religion, what the ancient Canaanites (including Jericho) had been practicing in the Promised Land between the time of Genesis chapter 11 (scattering from Babel) and the Book of Joshua (Israel’s entrance into Canaan). The Old Testament references to Baal worship and Molech worship describe such devilish activities. In Egypt, Israel was constantly exposed to these heathen gods and goddesses; hence, the Law of Moses repeatedly warned the Jews not to adopt these religious systems.

Alas, Israel was re-infected with this satanic mindset via Achan, who corrupted his family with the theft of the “goodly Babylonish garment” from Jericho (Joshua 7:20-26). While Scripture never tells us exactly what he intended to do with the stolen gold and silver, we do know it had been reserved for the LORD’S treasury (Joshua 6:19) before Achan took it along with that Babylonish garment (object of heathen religion). The precious metals were likely destined to be fashioned into idols—whether for Jerichoites or Israelites.

Even after Achan was judged for his sin, the Israelites constantly dabbled in pagan religion throughout the rest of the Old Testament and even into Acts. It was Judaism corrupted by these heathen religious systems, that Jesus Christ and His Apostles fought continuously. While the “purest” form of ancient Babylonian religion is today’s Roman Catholicism, traces of it pollute all world religions, leading to another international rebellion against the one true God yet future.

Ancient Babylonian religion will reach its pinnacle during Daniel’s 70th Week, when the Antichrist builds a city and a tower (religion) in Babylon (Revelation 17–18). What sinful man began in Genesis chapters 10–11—but was prevented from finishing—God now lets it resume to achieve their damnable end during the Tribulation period. As with Achan millennia ago, Israel will again be ensnared, but (as before) there is hope….

The Accursed Thing! #5

Tuesday, January 18, 2022

But the children of Israel committed a trespass in the accursed thing: for Achan, the son of Carmi, the son of Zabdi, the son of Zerah, of the tribe of Judah, took of the accursed thing: and the anger of the LORD was kindled against the children of Israel (Joshua 7:1 KJV).

Just what is this “accursed thing?” How will it affect the Israelites here in “time past?” What does this say about their fate in “the ages to come?”

Achan’s confession again: “When I saw among the spoils a goodly [pleasant, fine, expensive] Babylonish garment [mantle, cloak], and two hundred shekels of silver, and a wedge of gold of fifty shekels weight, then I coveted them, and took them; and, behold, they are hid in the earth in the midst of my tent, and the silver under it.” While Joshua 7:21 is the first occurrence of “Babylon” in Scripture, the notorious place itself has already appeared twice in the Biblical record.

Consider rebellious Nimrod’s activities in Genesis chapter 10: “[8] And Cush begat Nimrod: he began to be a mighty one in the earth. [9] He was a mighty hunter before the LORD: wherefore it is said, Even as Nimrod the mighty hunter before the LORD. [10] And the beginning of his kingdom was Babel, and Erech, and Accad, and Calneh, in the land of Shinar.” See also chapter 11, verses 1-9, describing Nimrod’s works in chapter 10: “Therefore is the name of it called Babel [confusion]: because the LORD did there confound the language of all the earth: and from thence did the LORD scatter them abroad upon the face of all the earth” (Genesis 11:9).

The Tower of Babel was designed to “reach unto heaven” (Genesis 11:4): it would extend high (rather, low) into astrology, the occult, devil worship. Following Nimrod, Noah’s descendants defied God’s mandate to scatter (Genesis 9:1), and gathered to build a city and a tower (perhaps a ziggurat, or pyramid with a flattened top on which sat a temple). That city, of course, was Babylon. Had God not intervened to confuse them by instituting world languages, they would have fully achieved their purpose. These sinners took their evil religion (now in a variety of global languages), formed national cultures, and originated world religions. Also influenced was Jericho… and Achan… and Israel….

Purity or Compromise? #2

Saturday, October 16, 2021

“Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths. Be not wise in thine own eyes: fear the LORD, and depart from evil. It shall be health to thy navel, and marrow to thy bones” (Proverbs 3:5-8 KJV).

Will we be pure and thus purified? Or, will we compromise and thus be compromised?

In Genesis 11:1-9, the Gentiles gathered in pagan idol (Devil!) worship at the Tower of Babel, concluding 18 centuries of all nations having equal access to the one true God (unappreciated). With the LORD giving these nations over to the Satan worship they preferred (see Romans 1:17-32), He set apart one man from them and began a new nation (Genesis 12:1-3). This man was Abram—later changed to “Abraham” in chapter 17—and this nation was Israel.

Learn the condition of the Gentiles in this segment of human history (known as “time past” in Ephesians 2:11,12). “This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that ye henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind, Having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart: Who being past feeling have given themselves over unto lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness” (Ephesians 4:17-19). God, having introduced the “but now” (Ephesians 2:13), expected these Gentiles who have come to Him through Paul’s Gentile ministry, to not repeat their old ways.

While the nations in “time past” were “suffered [allowed, permitted] to walk in their own ways” (Acts 14:16); conducting themselves among pagan idols in accordance with their darkened souls and dead spirits (Acts 17:24-31; Romans 1:21-26,28); God intended the nation Israel to be an “island of truth” in the midst of a “global sea of error.” The Jews had His wisdom, the Hebrew Bible, our Old Testament (Deuteronomy 4:1-10; Psalm 147:18-20; Romans 3:1,2). Unlike the Gentiles or non-Jews living around them, the Israelites, as per today’s Scripture, were not to trust or rely on their sinful hearts for spiritual light, or their sinful understanding for spiritual truth. To do otherwise was “evil,” a compromise that would lead to them being compromised….

The Worship of the Calf #7

Monday, October 4, 2021

And he received them at their hand, and fashioned it with a graving tool, after he had made it a molten calf: and they said, These be thy gods, O Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt (Exodus 32:4 KJV).

Why is calf-worship so prevalent in Holy Scripture?

Similar to the Egyptians’ Hapis/Apis calf-worship, Phoenicians and Canaanites revered Molech/Moloch. (Recall their common descent from the Tower of Babel.) This bull-man god of fire had horns. In the Law of Moses, not only did the LORD prohibit the Jews from retaining pagan idolatry from Egypt, they were not to adopt new idolatry from the Phoenicians and Canaanites either.

“And thou shalt not let any of thy seed pass through the fire to Molech, neither shalt thou profane the name of thy God: I am the LORD” (Leviticus 18:21). Also, chapter 20: “[1] And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, [2] Again, thou shalt say to the children of Israel, Whosoever he be of the children of Israel, or of the strangers that sojourn in Israel, that giveth any of his seed unto Molech; he shall surely be put to death: the people of the land shall stone him with stones. [3] And I will set my face against that man, and will cut him off from among his people; because he hath given of his seed unto Molech, to defile my sanctuary, and to profane my holy name. [4] And if the people of the land do any ways hide their eyes from the man, when he giveth of his seed unto Molech, and kill him not: [5] Then I will set my face against that man, and against his family, and will cut him off, and all that go a whoring after him, to commit whoredom with Molech, from among their people.”

Unfortunately, Israel disobeyed the LORD here too: the Jews practiced Moloch-worship during the 40 years of wilderness wanderings (Amos 5:25,26). King Solomon worshipped Molech (1 Kings 11:7). Centuries later, King Josiah reformed Judah and abolished Molech-worship (2 Kings 23:10). Still, the LORD had had enough of Jerusalem’s defilement with Molech, and used the Babylonians to punish them.

Let us now see the first calf worshipped….

The Worship of the Calf #6

Sunday, October 3, 2021

And he received them at their hand, and fashioned it with a graving tool, after he had made it a molten calf: and they said, These be thy gods, O Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt (Exodus 32:4 KJV).

Why is calf-worship so prevalent in Holy Scripture?

As they worshipped diverse gods and goddesses, the ancient Egyptians were simply conducting themselves according to Romans 1:20-23: “[20] For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse: [21] Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. [22] Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, [23] And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things.

The above passage depicts the Tower of Babel (Genesis 11:1-9), the origin of world religions except Judaism. Along with all the other Gentiles or nations, the Egyptians worshipped fellow humans and various animals. Since the people of the world were not appreciative of the one true God, and willfully gathered at Babel to start their own (one-world) religious system, God confounded their languages and scattered them. Whatever evil thoughts they had in unity, these were translated or converted in their minds, thus expanding why world religions (no matter how far removed physically) are quite close doctrinally.

Israel knew the depraved spiritual conditions of the world around her. She was also aware of how the one true God, after letting the nations “walk in their own ways” (Acts 14:15,16; Acts 17:29,30), had set apart her father Abraham from that darkness and confusion (Genesis chapter 12). Her separation from the Gentiles was fortified via the Law of Moses, which had been given to her alone (Deuteronomy 4:1-10; Psalm 147:19,20; Romans 3:1,2). Consequently, Israel’s association with the world’s religions was wholly unacceptable. Whereas the Gentiles were ignorant of their satanic bondage in religion, Israel knew better and still adopted such systems!

Now we address the significance of calf-worship….