Babylon Lays Religious Foundations for World Deception
WHEN a person or a nation turns away from God and true worship as outlined in his Word the Bible, such ones inescapably turn to the worship of something else. Due to man’s inborn nature he will worship or look up to something else as superior. It may be the worship of a national leader or of the State; it may be the debasing worship of animals or inanimate things. History has shown that this gives rise to a multitude of gods, some nations today having gods almost as numerous as the population.
Along with the increase in gods a multiplication of false doctrines sets in, poisoning the minds of men more and more and binding them more tightly in fear and in slavery to their false religion. Increased wickedness and degradation are the result. The apostle Paul describes their condition: “And just as they did not approve of holding God in accurate knowledge, God gave them up to a disapproved mental state, to do the things not fitting, filled as they were with all unrighteousness, wickedness, covetousness, injuriousness, being full of envy, murder, strife.”—Rom. 1:28-32.
Since idol gods are inanimate and know nothing and the greatest of men are only flesh-and-blood mortals like their worshipers, to whom is such worship really directed? It is directed to and received by the great adversary of God, Satan the Devil. Those who render such worship actually become servants of the Devil. Paul wrote: “Do you not know that if you keep presenting yourselves to anyone as slaves to obey him, you are slaves of him because you obey him, either of sin with death in view or of obedience with righteousness in view?” They become more and more like the god they worship. In fact, they can even be called children of the Devil. Jesus expressed this rule of spiritual relationships when he spoke to certain religious persons who were boasting of their descent from the patriarch Abraham. He said: “You are from your father the Devil, and you wish to do the desires of your father.” The apostle John later wrote: “The children of God and the children of the Devil are evident by this fact: Everyone who does not carry on righteousness does not originate with God.”—Rom. 6:16; John 8:38-44; 1 John 3:10; Ps. 96:5; 1 Cor. 10:20.
Babylon is an example of this course of action. More than that, she was the earthly source of such things, like a foundation on which a great false religious structure is to be built. The inhabitants of Babylon, not wanting to worship Jehovah God, turned to the worship of Nimrod. Nimrod had the spirit of that great first rebel against Jehovah God, the spirit of the Devil. He was in reality a worshiper and imitator of the Devil, who started rebellion in heaven and then spread rebellion in the earth, even in the garden of Eden. That is why the Babylonians used the name Merodach (Marduk), meaning “rebel,” rather than Nimrod as the founder of their city. Nimrod can thus be identified as one of the seed of the Devil that God spoke of at Genesis 3:15. He was a false seed, a false Messiah. After Nimrod’s death he was deified by the Babylonians. His followers, therefore, in directing their worship toward Nimrod, were unknowingly worshiping the Devil and became his “seed,” carrying out his work in opposition to God. When the famous Hammurabi became king and made Babylon the chief city of all Babylonia, Merodach as the city god increased in importance. His proper name was later replaced by the title Belu (”Lord”). Finally he was commonly called Bel and his wife Belit (”Lady”).
TRIADS OR TRINITIES OF GODS BEGIN
From that start in the worship of Nimrod the gods of that first Babylonian Empire began to multiply. Among these were a number of triads of gods or deities. In Babylon the temple erected to the god Belus is reported as having been surmounted by three statues, namely, that of Bel (or Bel-Merodach), his mother Rhea (Semiramis), and Bel-Merodach’s wife, Juno or Beltis (Zer-panîtu)—this according to the ancient Greek historian Ctesias. According to the later Greek historian Diodorus Siculus, at one period in Babylon the religious triad consisted of two goddesses and the son, namely, Hera (the Roman Juno), Rhea (or Semiramis) and Zeus (= Merodach, Nimrod).
Regarding the religion of Babylon and its triadic worship we read: “In the late Babylonian period the worship seems chiefly devoted to Marduk, Nabu [Nebo, meaning Speaker or Announcer], Sin, Shamash and Ishtar. . . . The Babylonians, with all their wonderful gifts, were never able to conceive of one god, of one god alone, of one god whose very existence makes logically impossible the existence of any other deity. Monotheism transcends the spiritual grasp of the Babylonian mind. . . . neither the Babylonians nor the Assyrians arose to any such heights as distinguish the Hebrew book of Psalms.”—The International Standard Bible Encyclopaedia, edition of 1955, Volume 1, page 370.
Another triad was that of Sin (the moon-god) and Shamash (the sun-god) and Ishtar—the rulers of the zodiac. From Babylon triads of deities spread throughout the earth, even into the time of the Christian Era.
Belief in a triad or trinity defies the sovereignty, even the supremacy, of the one true Almighty God. Fittingly serving the Devil’s purpose, it is a potent poison that has contaminated Christendom’s religions to the extent that the trinity, which it is claimed consists of three persons in one god, is called today “the central doctrine of the Christian religion.”
DEMONISM, MAGIC ROOTED IN BABYLON
What effect does such doctrine have on its worshipers? It weakens their faith in God. It lessens their feeling of responsibility to God to obey him implicitly and give him exclusive devotion. It puts them off balance, confuses their vision, makes them drugged religiously. It puts them in fear and makes it easy for them to begin to accept many gods whom they must appease or please or to whom they must address petitions, for example, so-called “saints.” It is a short step from this to the fear of demons, so that among some people this has led to a miserable existence—a life of fear for followers of that kind of religion. Babylon’s worshipers were poisoned spiritually in this way. Sir E. A. Wallis Budge, in Babylonian Life and History, says:
The demons and devils that made the Babylonian’s life a misery to him were many, but the forms of most of them and their evil powers were well known. Most of all he feared the Seven Evil Spirits, who were the creators of all evil. . . . As there were triads of gods, so there were triads of devils, for example, Labartu, Labasu and Akhkhazu. The first harmed little children, the second caused the quaking sickness, and the third turned the face of a man yellow and black. Another triad comprised Lîlû, Lîlîtu and Ardat Lîlī. . . . The Babylonians . . . went to the priest, who often assumed the character of a god, and who exorcised the devils by reciting incantations, . . .—Pages 146, 147 (1925 edition). See also The International Standard Bible Encyclopaedia, edition of 1955, Volume 1, page 373.
Magic, sorcery and astrology were developed and indulged in by all, from the king down to his lowest subject. They even believed in a witch who was believed to “possess the power of flying through the air on a stick.”—Ancient History, Part I—P. V. N. Myers, page 72.
The Bible speaks of the idol images of Bel and Merodach and calls them “dungy idols,” that is, filthy idols. (Jer. 50:1, 2) Addressing Babylon as a woman, the prophecy of Isaiah 47:12, 13 says: “Stand still, now, with your spells and with the abundance of your sorceries, in which you have toiled from your youth [as a city]; . . . Let them stand up, now, and save you, the worshipers of the heavens, the lookers at the stars, those giving out knowledge at the new moons concerning the things that will come upon you.”
Magical arts were invented by the Chaldeans of Babylonia. How strong the hold of magic and sorcery was upon Babylon may be seen when, centuries after Nimrod, King Nebuchadnezzar is reported as turning to it to determine whether to attack Jerusalem. Here is what Jehovah God said to Ezekiel about this:
“The king of Babylon stood still at the crossways, at the head of the two ways, in order to resort to divination. He has shaken the arrows. He has asked by means of the teraphim; he has looked into the liver. In his right hand the divination proved to be for Jerusalem, to set battering-rams, to open one’s mouth for a slaying, to raise the sound in an alarm signal, to set battering-rams against gates, to throw up a siege rampart, to build a siege wall.”—Ezek. 21:20-22.
With King Nebuchadnezzar II the city of Babylon reached the peak of its glory and set itself in the position of the Third World Power of Bible history. So its greatest height was reached shortly before its fall. Because even her greatest king clung to magical arts, Jehovah’s prophet Isaiah could, when foretelling her doom, tell her to resort to her magical arts and her stargazers, sorcerers and monthly forecasters to try to save her from disaster if they could. But it would be in vain, for Jehovah had doomed her.
BABYLON’S RELIGIOUS TOWER
Babylon’s false religion, which first revealed itself historically in her original Tower of Babel, doomed her from the start for eventual destruction. In the days of her most glorious king, Nebuchadnezzar II, she had her tower of religion, built doubtless on the foundations of the very tower where Jehovah God confused the language of the builders. It was situated in the southern part of the city, not far from the eastern or right bank of the Euphrates River. By King Nebuchadnezzar and his royal father it was called Ziqqurat Bâbîli, that is, “The Tower of Babylon.” It was dedicated to Babylon’s chief god, Merodach, and his wife Zēr-panîtum.
The tower had a great foundation upon which as a platform were built six square stages and it had a sanctuary at the top, this being dedicated to the god Bel-Merodach, whom the evidence indicates to have been the mighty hunter Nimrod deified. Around the base of the tower were small temples or chapels dedicated to various other gods of the Babylonians.
BABYLON’S TEACHING ON SOUL SICKENS THE NATIONS
Another outstanding feature about the religion of Babylon is that it taught the immortality of the human soul. Of course, when Babylon deified the first king, Nimrod, at his death, which is not described in the Bible, it had to attribute immortality of soul to Nimrod, or Merodach. In the Babylonian myth about Gilgamesh, whom some investigators try to identify with Nimrod, this half-man and half-god Gilgamesh sought immortality of his human body, in other words, indestructible life on earth. In the twelfth book of the epic of Gilgamesh he is granted an interview with his dead one-time companion, who “describes the gloomy abode of the afterworld, and tells of the various futures that await the dead, according to the manner of their ends.”—The Encyclopedia Americana, edition of 1929, Volume 12, page 654.
In the Babylonian religion Nergal was the god of the underworld and his wife Eresh-kigal was the sovereign lady thereof. Showing that the Babylonians did not believe in the immortality of the human body but did believe in the immortality of what the Greeks called a psykhé or “soul,” we read the following concerning “the last things” as understood by the Babylonians:
After death the souls of men were supposed to continue in existence. It can hardly be called life. The place to which they have gone is called the “land of no return. There they lived in dark rooms amid the dust and the bats covered with a garment of feathers, and under the dominion of Nergal and Eresh-kigal. When the soul arrived among the dead he had to pass judgment before the judges of the dead, the Annunaki, but little has been preserved for us concerning the manner of this judgment. There seems to have been at times an idea that it might be possible for the dead to return again to life, for in this underworld there was the water of life, which was used when the god Tammuz returned again to earth [as vegetation]. The Babylonians . . . placed often with the dead articles which might be used in his future existence. . . . In the future world there seem to have been distinctions made among the dead. Those who fell in battle seem to have had special favor. They received fresh water to drink, while those who had no posterity to put offerings at their graves suffered sore and many deprivations. . . . The Babylonian doctrine was that man, though of Divine origin, did not share in the Divine attribute of immortality [that is, immortality of his body].—The International Standard Bible Encyclopaedia, Volume 1, page 373.
Along with astrology, fear of demons and trinity, this teaching, as originated in Babylon and propagated among the peoples of earth, led to the unscriptural doctrines of hellfire, purgatory, reincarnation, transmigration of souls and spiritism, with which all nations and most of their religionists are being spiritually sickened to death. If your religion holds any of these doctrines, you can be sure it is Babylon-contaminated and constitutes one of the false religious strongholds springing from the rebellious Babylonish source.
These are only a few of the deceptions founded in ancient demon-dominated Babylon, as a base on which the invisible deceiver, Satan the Devil, builds a religious structure for world deception. Babylon suffered a fall when Jehovah God confused the language of its builders at the Tower of Babel, but it was not destroyed at that time. Later it passed from the hands of Hamitic rulers to Shemite rulers, but this did not turn aside the doom to which it had been condemned by God. The foretold destruction befell the famed city and at last its very location became unknown. But what is the Greater Babylon, foretold in the Bible to fall with a tremendous crash? Further Bible investigation will reveal this.