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Theocratic Aid To Kingdom Publishers

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Lesson 73

ANCIENT PRACTICE OF RELIGION

The practice of religion or demon-worship (Acts 17:22, Emph. Diag.; see also footnote) has for its purpose the turning of mankind away from the worship of the true God, Jehovah. It is the worship of anything other than Jehovah the Almighty God.

Satan has obtained that worship for himself and his associate demons by causing mankind to worship the state, the state leaders, symbols, images, stars, and other heavenly bodies, and by means of various and sundry religious lies. The degrading state-leader-worship begun by Nimrod on the plains of Shinar was carried to other parts of the earth, as is shown by the worship given to the Egyptian Pharaohs and the worship of Malcham by the Ammonites.  —Zeph. 1:5.

In Babylon Nimrod was canonized and worshiped after his death, but, since Nimrod was dead, Satan was the one who was actually worshiped. Satan was there worshiped

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as Bel (the confounder; Isa. 46:1; Jer. 50: 2; 51:44). In Palestine and elsewhere Satan was worshiped as Baal (master, owner). Other names under which the demons were worshiped as gods and which are mentioned in the Bible are Chemosh (worshiped in Moab), Molech or Milcom (by the Ammonites; 1 Ki. 11:5,7), Succoth-benoth (in Babylon and Samaria), Nergal (Cuth and Samaria), Ashima (Hamath and Samaria), Nibhaz and Tartak (Ava and Samaria), Adrammelech and Anammelech (Sepharvaim and Samaria; 2 Ki. 17:26-31), Dagon (Philistines; 1 Sam. 5:7), Rimmon (Damascus; 2 Ki. 5:18), Nisroch (Assyria; Isa. 37:38), Zeus (called Jupiter by the Romans and worshiped by the Greeks and other nations; Acts 14:12, A.S.V., margin), Hermes (called Mercury by the Romans and worshiped by the Greeks and other nations; Acts 14:12, A.S.V.,margin), Castor and Pollux or Dioscuri (worshiped by several Japhetic peoples including the Romans and Greeks; Acts 28:11, A.S.V., margin, and A.V.), and Remphan (Acts 7:43). Aside from these demon gods the ancients worshiped many others not mentioned in Scripture.

Nimrod became the husband of his own mother, who was later worshiped in Babylon as Ishtar, and in Tyre and Zidon and in the rest of Canaan as Ashtoreth. The unfaithful Solomon went after her and built her a high place before Jerusalem. (1 Ki. 11: 5; 2 Ki. 23:13) In Babylon she was also called "Lady of Heaven". The "queen of heaven" was worshiped by unfaithful Israelites in Jeremiah's day. (Jer. 7:18; 44:17-25) She was later worshiped at Ephesus and elsewhere as Artemis (Diana). —Acts 19:25-28.

The use of symbols in Devil-worship is widespread. Faithful Job declared he had refrained from giving worship to symbols such as the sun and moon. (Job 31:24-28) Also the stars were worshiped. (Deut. 4:19) Another symbol through which the demons received the worship of religionists was the cross. First introduced in Babylon, from there it spread throughout the earth. Even animals were used as

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symbols through which men might worship the demons. Today state-exalting nations liken their governments to the lion, the bear, the eagle, etc., and place their images upon insignia and standards. Flags were a characteristic feature of Egyptian temples. In Egyptian inscriptions the presence of flags in front of representations of buildings identified the building as a temple. The very hieroglyphic meaning "god" (neter) is variously identified as a flag or as an ax. In Robert Ripley's copyrighted feature "Believe It or Not" the statement appeared: "The first flags were little statues of gods placed on sticks and carried on the battlefield. They were later replaced by flags with painted emblems." —The Detroit Times, Dec. 6, 1944.

From the worship of symbols to the worship of images was a short step. The idolizing of the image consisted of waving the hand and saluting it, throwing a kiss to it or actually kissing the image. Many of the rites of image-worship were even more degrading than these. In connection with the worship of Baal and Ashtoreth images the Devil instituted Phallicism (sex worship). The "groves" or "asherahs" were images or visible symbols used in connection with the Phallic worship of Baal and Ashtoreth. -Lev. 18: 20-25; Isa. 57: 5-8; Num. 31:16; Ps. 106: 28.

The demons, in mockery of God and to bring reproach upon his name, had men offer up sacrifices to them, even human sacrifices such as were offered up to Baal. (Ps. 106: 37, 38; Deut. 12: 30, 31; Acts 15: 29) In the worship of the Devil under the symbol of Baal, altars were reared to him, temples were built for him, and prophets offered sacrifices to him; in entreating him they leaped and twisted and contorted their bodies and gashed themselves with knives and lances until they were bathed in blood. (1 Ki. 16:31-33; 18:26-28) Drink offerings and incense were offered to the demons on the roofs and in the streets, and religionists in Palestine worshiped the demons upon the high mountains, the hills, and under trees. (Deut. 12: 2, 3; Jer. 32:29; 11:13) The religionists had a demon god

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for every city. (Jer. 2: 28; 11:13) And Baal's priests were identified by the black robes which they wore! —Zeph. 1: 4.

The practitioners of religion were known by different names, which denoted the particular feature of demon-worship that they emphasized or the claims that they made for themselves, such as diviners, enchanters, witches, augurers, mediums, wizards, magicians (or Magi), necromancers, sorcerers, soothsayers, weavers of spells, astrologers, etc. (Matt. 2:1, A.S.V., margin; Deut. 18:10,11, A.V.; A.S.V., Moffatt) All such magicians or sorcerers were agents of the Devil, whom they served and worshiped.

In support of religion's claim that it is the sole repository of knowledge and wisdom it sought to control all education. It kept the masses of humankind in ignorance and educated only the very few who made up the clergy. But in all their accumulation of supposed wisdom they omitted the highest learning, the knowledge of Jehovah and his Word. The attitude of the ancient Babylonian clergy toward educating the common people is shown by the words of a Babylonian scribe: "Let the learned man instruct the learned, but let the unlearned not hear about it, for that is taboo." What they did teach all was their religious lies, which are the main stock in trade of all religions, especially the fundamental lie of the immortality of the human soul. Because of this doctrine religion has always been much concerned with the dead and preparing for the dead and paying the priest for the dead. In ancient times religionists even cut their own bodies for the dead. (Lev. 19: 28) Other religions lies taught by religion were a place of purging or torturing the dead, and the God-dishonoring religious lie of the "trinity".

Whereas religion has succeeded in ensnaring and turning away from the true God many men and angels, religion has never succeeded in turning all men and angels against God.


REVIEW: 1. What is the purpose of religion? 2. How has Satan obtained worship for himself? 3. What sort of worship did Nimrod begin in Shinar, and what became of it? 4. Under what vari-
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ous names were Satan and his associate demons worshiped in times of old? 5. What use of symbols did the Devil make in his worship? 6. How were images used in the practice of religion? 7. What rites were used in the worship of the demons? 8. Under what names were the practitioners of religion known? 9. What has been the attitude of religion toward education? 10. What success has religion had?



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