Word For It. . .

2Chronicles7:14-“If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.”

Beast~6)Sun-Image

Sun Worship-Satan’s Ancient Counterfeit

In ancient Babylon, the kings served as high priests of the sun, Bel-Marduk. “To take the hand of Bel-Marduk” was part of the ceremony of installation as king in Assyria and Babylon (“Babylonian and Assyrian Religion,” Encyclopædia Britannica, 11th ed.). The celebration of the winter solstice around December 25 was regarded as the birthday of the sun. It was a major holiday associated with gift-giving and the sacred evergreen tree.

Not only did much of Babylonian pagan worship involve the sun, but so also did the worship of each of Babylon’s successors in its own turn, first in Persia and later in both the Hellenistic world and Rome. In fact, by the time each of Daniel’s four beasts arose, sun worship had risen to prominence as the imperial religion.

Persia was Babylon’s first successor. Ancient Persian religion centered on the worship of Mithras, the god of light. As a result of Babylonian influence, however, Mithras came to be identified with the Babylonian sun god. The Greeks of Asia Minor identified Mithras with their ancient sun god, Helios, and contributed to the westward spread of the cult of the sun. Alexander the Great traveled to Egypt to the Temple of Amon-Ra to be proclaimed by the priests as the literal son of the sun god. And what of Rome? “Mithras, identified with Sol Invictus at Rome, thus became the giver of authority and victory to the imperial house” (“Mithras,” Encyclopædia Britannica, 11th ed.). Lempriere’s Classical Dictionary states that Sol, the sun god of Rome, was worshipped as “the Baal or Bel of the Chaldeans [Babylonians]” (p. 590). Sun worship and its symbols were adopted by the Roman Empire from her predecessors and passed on to the entire western world!

In modern Lebanon today there is a tiny Arab village called Baalbek. Located there are the ruins of two majestic temples, once the pride of Heliopolis, the Greco-Roman “City of the Sun.” Notice the explanation of historian Will Durant: “Augustus planted a small colony there, and the town grew as the sacred seat of Baal the Sun-God…. Under Antoninus Pius and his successors Roman, Greek, and Syrian architects and engineers raised, on the site of an old Phoenician temple to Baal, an imposing shrine to Iuppiter Heliopolitanus” (The Story of Civilization, Will Durant, vol. 3, p. 511). Thus the Roman Jupiter became identified with Baal the ancient sun god.

Another great center of pagan sun worship was the temple at Heliopolis in Egypt, where a great obelisk sacred to the sun was located. Around 40ad, the Roman emperor Caligula had this obelisk transported from Egypt to Rome and erected in his circus on Vatican Hill. In 1586, upon order of Pope Sixtus V, this ancient obelisk-83 feet in height and weighing 320 tons-was moved a short distance to its present location. Requiring a crew of 800 workmen, 160 horses and 45 winches, the obelisk was exactly centered before the entrance of St. Peter’s Cathedral-where it remains to this day.                       

In ancient Rome, before the days of the empire, there was a cult devoted to Sol, the sun god. Parrinder’s World Religions from Ancient History to the Present discusses the development of sun  worship as the religion of Rome:

“It was natural that as the centre of gravity of the Roman empire moved eastwards, sun-worship should grow in power. It was already strong in imperial propaganda; Nero’s Golden House was an appropriate home for the incarnate sun, and Antonius accorded the sun peculiar honour. Under the Severan dynasty sun-worship became dominant; the sun-god was portrayed with Severus’s characteristic beard, and the emperor took the title INVICTVS (unconquered), which was the peculiar epithet of the sun… The sun was a superb unifying symbol and rallying-point for the whole empire… in AD 274 Aurelian established the sun-god as the supreme god of the Roman empire” (p. 175).

Aurelian, emperor from 270-282ad, ascribed much of Rome’s third-century moral and political chaos to religious disunity. He sought to unite the whole empire in the “worship of the sun-god, and of the Emperor as the vicar of that deity on earth… He built at Rome a resplendent Temple of the Sun, in which, he hoped, the Baal of Emesa and the god of Mithraism would merge… Aurelian advanced that Orientalization of the monarchy which had begun with Elagabalus and would complete itself in Diocletian and Constantine” (Durant, p. 639).

Constantine, considered Rome’s first “Christian” emperor, was himself a devotee of the sun god. “In fact the emperor Constantine’s Christianity was ambiguous. His family owed traditional allegiance to the sun-god; the famous vision of the cross as he marched on Rome came to him from the sun; the sun continues to appear on his coins through the decade, and on his arch at Rome; his own statue at Constantinople bore the rayed crown of the sun-god” (Parrinder, p. 175). By the first century, the seven-day planetary week was being popularized at Rome. The seven-day week itself originated at creation (Genesis 1) and the knowledge of the correct weekly cycle was preserved by the Jews. However, in ancient Babylon each of the seven days of the week became associated with what the ancients called the seven planets: Sun, Moon, Mars, Mercury, Jupiter, Venus and Saturn. This is significant because it set the stage for an imperial proclamation that indelibly stamped upon the Christian-professing world a mark, or brand, derived from ancient sun worship.

The Encyclopædia Britannica records: “The earliest recognition of the observance of Sunday as a legal duty is a constitution of Constantine in 321ad, enacting that all courts of justice, inhabitants of towns, and workshops were to be at rest on Sunday (venerabili die solis)” (“Sunday,” 11th ed.).

By using the Latin term properly translated as “venerable day of the sun,” Constantine identified the first day of the week with that day dedicated from ancient times to Sol, the sun. Through the proclamation of a Roman emperor, a mark from ancient Babylon and the cult of sun worship was forcibly stamped on the inhabitants of the Roman Empire. That mark-with other associated symbols of sun worship-has continued right on down through the medieval period to modern times.

The Image of the Beast

We have seen that the second beast mentioned in Revelation 13 is none other than the Church of Rome, while the first beast mentioned is the Roman Empire. The Church of Rome, this second beast, instructed that an “image” of the first beast, the Roman Empire, should be made. What is an image? It is a copy, model, representation or counterpart. The image of the Beast is therefore a counterpart to the old Roman Empire-something modeled after the pagan Roman kingdom or government. Notice the plain statement of British historian and statesman James Bryce that the “papal [system] itself had been modeled after the elder Empire” (“A History of the Holy Roman Empire Must Be Deduced from Its Theory,” Hertzstein, p. 53).

Revelation 13 explains that the false church, the second beast, insists that all people give total loyalty and devotion (worship) to the image, the religious organizational structure modeled after the old Roman Empire. It “causes” to be killed those who refuse (Revelation 13:15). During the Middle Ages, the church did not carry out the punishment itself. It simply declared as heretics those who refused adherence to the system. Those declared anathema from the church were considered as enemies of the state and were accordingly dealt with by the civil government.

The first-century Roman Empire was authoritarian. But most do not realize that for many offices election was also an honored and accepted practice. Even the emperor was elected-ostensibly by the Senate, though more commonly in fact by the Praetorian Guard or simply by the army.

Some of the very elders that Paul admonished (Acts 20:30) later became ringleaders in deceiving God’s people into following the pattern of Roman municipalities by holding public church meetings with elected officers. Notice the statements of historian Arthur Boak: “These municipalities were patterned closely after Rome, although certain titles, like those of consul and Senate, were reserved for the capital city… All officials were popularly elected” (A History of Rome to 565ad, 1965, p. 370). Dr. Boak goes on to write, “While the lower classes of Rome and the municipalities had little opportunity for political activity, they found compensation in the social life of their guilds or colleges… Thus arose professional, religious, and funerary colleges. Their organization was modeled on that of the municipalities” (pp. 370-371). Writing of the development of the incipient Roman Catholic Church, Dr. Boak adds, “In their organization these communities were all of the same general type, resembling the Roman religious collegia” (p. 401).

In the congregations, increasing numbers of unconverted people wanted “say-so.” They chose teachers who sanctioned elections, who pleased them with teachings that increasingly led them back into the pagan customs of the world around them. In his final letter to Timothy, the Apostle Paul had directly prophesied of this turn of events (2 Timothy 4:3-4).

Historian Edward Gibbon wrote that “the order of public deliberations soon introduces the office of a president, invested at least with the authority of collecting the sentiments, and of executing the resolutions, of the assembly” (Triumph of Christendom in the Roman Empire, p. 44). Gibbon went on to describe the times following the emperor Constantine’s reign:

“But the episcopal chair was solicited, especially in the great and opulent cities of the empire, as a temporal rather than as a spiritual dignity. The interested views, the selfish and angry passions, the arts of perfidy and dissimulation, the secret corruption, the open and even bloody violence, which had formerly disgraced the freedom of election in the commonwealths of Greece and Rome, too often influenced the choice of the successors of the apostles” (p. 336).

Using the institutions and practices of the Roman Empire as a model, men devised a church government structure. Political maneuvering became a substitute for seeking God’s will. Popular and soothing teachings were substituted for the plain word of God, which offered correction and rebuke.

The problem with the Church of Rome was that it substituted a human political structure in place of God’s government. In God’s government, elders are to be appointed, based upon their fruits, by those Christ has already set as leaders in His Church (Titus 1:5-9). God’s government is based upon His law. God validates it based upon positive fruit being borne (Matthew 7:15-23; cf. Numbers 17:7-10).

The Church of Rome developed on the model of the old Roman Empire from which it derived its structure. Idolatrous allegiance to the organizational structure was demanded, even if it sought to “change times and laws” (cf. Daniel 7:25). In God’s government, He makes it plain where He is working by the fruits, and we submit to human leaders as long as they are following Christ (1 Corinthians 11:1).

By John H. Ogwyn

Copyright © 2007 Tomorrow’s World

One Response to “Beast~6)Sun-Image”

  1. Gerald Prater said

    I am now 56. The more I learn, the more I realize how we, the American people, Christians, have been duped. Not just once but over and over and over. Christmas, Valentines Day, Easter, Halloween, etc, etc. Does not God’s Word says you shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free? I am not amazed at the deception practiced by Satan, he is the father of lies. His practice runs deep, wide, and varied. I understand more and more how except for Jesus and his protection that the very elect will be deceived by falsehood. I pray that God our Father, Jesus our Lord, and the Holy Spirit, will convict the hearts of men and open their blinded eyes to the truth. I pray that more servants will enter the vineyards and the wheat fields white with harvest while the Spirit of God still strives with man.
    _________________________________________________________________

    May God Bless You, Gerald!! Amen and my heart grieves with yours over these matters; it’s getting harder and harder to “read between the lines” of the false prophets we are warned about. It’s easy to see why people who are not in the Holy Spirit are duped b/c they (false teachers) come out as spreading “love, acceptance, inclusiveness, or, one of the presidential candidates’ favorite, “plurality”, etc., but many don’t seem to understand that we can love without adopting or embracing doctrine outside of Christ’s. It’s sad what some will defend, then accuse those of us of intolerance who adhere to Christ’s teachings without all the manmade, man-pleasing “doctrine”. I have gotten to the point that they will just have to call me “intolerant” or whatever else goes with the things that are leading the world to hell.

    As much as I enjoy the internet, I know a few personally and have seen many online who are caught up in belief sytems contrary to Christ’s teachings. My gr-grandfather used to say that television would destroy families (what we now call “family values”) and that’s the mindset with which I observe. Anything goes and many vying for the limelight any way possible.

    Recently, I saw an author being interviewed on a “Christian” broadcast. The author was promoting his book which was about “acceptance” of other doctrines (religions such as Islam). He relayed a story about how his neighbor had decided to join an organization completely outside of her beliefs (Christianity) in an effort to witness. That’s one of the biggest arguments—that Jesus walked among all. Yes, He did, but He did not join, endorse, embrace, condone, promote, or anything close to what was being suggested. Jesus led people to The Father and away from sin, not patting them on the head and saying, “I see what you mean.. .”!

    I can and do love everyone but I am heartbroken day-after-day in trying to reach out to those who reject Christ.

    Thank you for coming by and introducing yourself, Gerald! It’s always, always a pleasure to meet those who are “fighting the good fight”.

    In Christ’s Love,
    O’Dale

    p.s. The ihcc.org and tomorrowsworld.org links on this blog will take you to their sites and forms where you can order free booklets for yourslef or others. I have immensely enjoyed receiving them!
    God Bless and Keep You and Yours.

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