The last study (part 3) looked at syncretism in the Northern Kingdom of Israel, this study looks at the syncretism of the southern kingdom of Judah. The study goes further to reveal the pressure placed on the Judean captives in Babylon to compromise their beliefs and adopt the Babylon religion and culture, and how God used Daniel to show that He is always in control of world events. The book of Daniel is an amazing prophetic book covering a large section of Biblical prophecy, this study looks at the important information on the “seed of Satan,” including the Syrian king Antiochus Epiphanes as a Type of Antichrist, and the location of “Babylon Religion” in the Last Days. The study completes a full circle, with the Jews who have returned from Babylon to Jerusalem once more being influenced by man’s wisdom. With syncretism once more entering into the religious practices of the Jews, God raises up Nehemiah to put and end to the error.
The Queen of Heaven and Judah’s Fall
The phrase “the queen of heaven” appears in the Bible twice, both times in the book of Jeremiah. The first incident is in connection with the things the Judeans were doing that provoked the Lord to anger. Entire families were involved in idolatry, while the men and boys gathered the wood to build altars to worship false gods, the women and girls were engaged in kneading dough and baking cakes of bread for the “queen of heaven” (Jeremiah 7:18).
The title “queen of heaven,” referred to Ishtar, an Assyrian and Babylonian goddess, also called Ashtoreth, or Astarte in Israel, but ultimately the origin of the title belongs to the wife of Nimrod – Semiramis. Ashtoreth was thought to be the wife of the false god Baal. The motivation of women to worship Ashtoreth stemmed from her reputation as a fertility goddess and, as the bearing of children was greatly desired among women of that era, worship of this “queen of heaven” was rampant among pagan civilizations. Sadly, it became popular among the Israelites as well.
In Judah, Ashtoreth was considered a “consort” of YHWH, as she was involved in sexuality (fertility rites and temple prostitution), and the relationship she had in this apostate syncretic worship with YHWH was of a sexual nature. This, without a doubt, was appalling to a Holy God, and the belief resulted in a harsh judgement on the nation.
Scripture is clear, there is no queen of heaven, and the only biblical references to the “queen of heaven” refer to the goddess of an idolatrous, pagan, false religion.
The Sun God, Tammuz
“And he brought me into the inner court of the house of the Lord. And behold, at the entrance of the temple of the Lord, between the porch and the altar, were about twenty-five men, with their backs to the temple of the Lord, and their faces toward the east, worshiping the sun toward the east.” (Ezekiel 8:16)
A second reason as to why Judah was exiled to Babylon by God is revealed to Ezekiel. Not only were the Jews worshipping the alter ego of Semiramis, but they were also worshipping her son – the reincarnation of Nimrod – Tammuz.
The “twenty-five men” were most likely the high priest and the heads of the twenty-four courses (the rotation of duties among the priestly families in one year), thus representing the whole body of the priests (1 Chronicles 24). They were standing between the altar and the Temple, the most sacred part of the court, turning their backs upon the Temple of the Lord. There, in the sacred space for the worship of YHWH, they faced the rising sun in the east, and as the sun appeared over the top of the Mount of Olives, they worshipped it.
When Semiramis’ husband Nimrod died, she became “miraculously” pregnant and claimed that the son she bore (Tammuz), was the reincarnation of Nimrod. Tammuz was killed by a wild boar, and in remembrance of her son, she instituted 40 days of “mourning for Tammuz”. God is therefore showing Ezekiel that the Jews were morning for Tammuz, and worshipping the sun god. God calls the idolatrous practice of weeping for Tammuz a “detestable” thing. This “detestable” practice is continued today in the keeping of 40 days of fasting during Lent. This leads up to the autumn equinox and the worship of Ishtar – the queen of heaven – now referred to as Easter.
Let us pause and consider for a moment what the scriptures covered in this study have revealed: It is clear from Scripture that God hates the paganism that originated under the rule of Nimrod and Semiramis in Babylon. This couple rebelled against God and established themselves as gods in the minds of the people of the time. After God caused great confusion amongst the people and scattered mankind over the face of the earth, the new cultures took with them their belief in a sun god and a queen of heaven. Satan ensured that this pagan religion continued to contaminate the pure worship of YHWH within the nation of Israel, which continually saw Israel face the consequences of repeated breaks in their covenant relationship with God.
Now consider for a moment, what are the two most important Christian celebrations? One is Christmas which is celebrated on the 25th of December, the day pagans celebrate the birth of the sun. The second is Easter, which is named after the pagan queen of heaven Ishtar, and celebrated on the northern hemisphere spring equinox, a day devoted to the mother goddess and rebirth of life after the winter months. So, as Christians we worship a holy God who hates the contamination of His Word, yet those who call themselves his people celebrate Him on the days dedicated to His great religious adversaries, Nimrod and Semiramis. There seems to be a major problem here! Any church wanting to see a revival in these last days, had better follow the example of Elijah and put paganism to death. Jesus is not going to return for a contaminated Bride!
“The land of Nimrod” – the tool of judgement
The Kingdom of Judah was taken into captivity by the Babylonians (605 BC), a people group from the land of Nimrod. Their capital city was Babylon, a city established by Nimrod. Once again, the tool of judgement used by God, was the people from the land from which Judah’s idolatry originated.
Nebuchadnezzar a type of Antichrist
The book of Daniel reveals that Nebuchadnezzar had two powerful revelations that God is the true and only God:
- Step one was Nebuchadnezzar’s dream of the image, and Nebuchadnezzar saying that God is the “God of Gods” (2:47).
- Step two was after Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were rescued from the fiery furnace, and Nebuchadnezzar praises God for rescuing the young men (3:28).
Yet despite these clear revelations of God, Nebuchadnezzar still did not humble himself before YHWH. So, God gives him some assistance, God strikes Nebuchadnezzar with a mental illness, which takes place twelve months after the king’s dream of the image of a man, which was interpreted by Daniel.
God took Nebuchadnezzar through a step-by-step process of revealing Himself to the king as the One True God. Before God started working on Nebuchadnezzar, he was an arrogant pagan king who was a shadow of the reality to come, a type of the Antichrist:
- He erected an idol that was to be worshipped by all.
- He was worshipped as a god.
- He made war against the Jews.
Compromise with Babylon Religion
Both narratives recorded in Daniel 3 (The Fiery Furnace) and Daniel 6 (Daniel in the Lions’ Den), deal with the pressure on saints to compromise with the religious beliefs of “Babylon Religion.” In Daniel 3, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego are required to bow down and worship a golden image, and in Daniel 6, Daniel is told he must not pray to God, but pray only to the king (Darius) for a period of 30 days.
Daniel 3 reveals that believers were required to compromise by worshipping an idol, and Daniel 6 shows a believer being pressured to compromise and venerate a man as god. Revelation 13 stresses that the Tribulation saints will face the exact same two compromises:
- They will be required to worship the image of the Antichrist (Rev 13:15).
- They will be required to venerate the Antichrist as god (Rev. 13:15).
Being faithful to God unto death has been an important foundation for disciples throughout the ages. Nowhere else in the Bible are we taught these values so clearly as in the Book of Daniel. The overarching theme of the Book of Daniel is that despite appearances, God is in control.
Daniel reveals important information on the “seed of Satan” and the location of “Babylon Religion” in the Last Days:
“The people of the ruler who will come will destroy the city and the sanctuary” (Dan. 9:26b).
Both Daniel and Jeremiah prophesied that there would be a return of Jews from Babylon to Jerusalem, which would result in the restoration of Jerusalem and the Temple. In Daniel 9:26b Gabriel, however, warns of a future judgement that will again result in the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple. The Roman general Titus besieged the city of Jerusalem in AD 70, and eventually captured the city, destroying both the city and Herod’s Temple. Therefore, the Romans were the “people” that destroyed Jerusalem, so the prophecy is clear that the “ruler that will come” – the Antichrist, will be from Rome. This is an extremely important indicator given to us, as a warning by God, as to the location of the seat of Satan in the last days. This prophecy is not a once off indicator either, God underlines the warning by giving further confirmation:
- The legs of the statue in Nebuchadnezzar’s dream are made of iron and represent the Roman Empire. The feet of the statue made of Iron and clay depict the revived Roman Empire of the Last Days, which will be a combination of strong – iron, and weak – clay, nations. Jesus (the rock) at His return will destroy the restored Roman Empire (covered in part 3 in the series on the book of Daniel).
- The fourth beast of Daniel 7 is the Roman Empire, and the little horn representing the Antichrist, comes from the head of the beast – Rome (covered in part 8 in the series on Daniel).
Three times in Daniel the prophecies point to Rome as being the seat of the Antichrist. This is also confirmed in Revelation 17 and 18, where John explicitly states the Great Whore (false religion) sits on the city of seven hills (Rev. 17:9) – Rome. Revelation 17 is a parenthesis that places a magnifying glass over the Great Whore, describing the apostate faith that will become the one-world religion. Revelation 18 is a return back to the judgements of God, it is a continuation of the seventh Bowl Judgement, giving detail of the destruction of Rome. Chapter 17 recounts how religious Rome comes to an end, betrayed by the Antichrist, and chapter 18 gives details regarding the seventh Bowl Judgement, which recounts the destruction of commercial and political Rome. The city will be the home of the Antichrist in his rise to power, and also the centre for the global rebellion against God, chapters 17 and 18 record the consequence of that rebellion.
There are therefore five clear prophecies pointing directly at Rome as the city where Satan will have his headquarters, and where the spiritual warfare (“there will be enmity”), directing humanity in rebellion to God will have its centre of operations. The will of Satan is to be imposed on the world from the city of seven hills – Rome.
Belshazzar and the Temple Bowls
In Genesis 35:14 after God changed Jacob’s name to Israel, he gave a drink offering on an altar to God. Libations were in the form of olive oil, water or wine in Temple sacrifices. Wine offerings to God as stated in the Old Testament was an important requirement of worship, and was often referred to as drink offerings.
A key Old Testament reference to the bowls used for libations occurs in Jeremiah 52, which describes the sacking of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar and his Babylonian army. The Babylonians entered the House of the Lord, the Temple, and they stole many things, including the bowls sitting next to the lampstands—bowls that Jeremiah 52:19 describes as those used for pouring libations. These were the bowls used by King Belshazzar of Babylon in drunken celebration (Daniel 5), which resulted in God’s judgement on the city. Note, that it is the city of the origins of Babylon Religion, that is judged by God because of drunken revelry involving the golden bowls from the Temple. Then in the book of Revelation, it is the consequence of mankind following the corruption of Babylon Religion that is Judged by God, with God using seven golden bowls of wrath that that are brought out from the Temple in heaven by seven angels.
In the Temple the priest would pour the wine from a jug into the golden bowls, and then the bowls would be taken out to the Temple Mount, and the ritual was completed with the wine being poured out before the Lord. This process is followed in Revelation 15, with God pouring out the wine of His wrath into each of the seven bowls, the contents of which are then poured out onto the earth.
Jesus provided salvation by pouring out His life for us. This act of redemption is remembered by believers during communion, where wine symbolises the blood of Jesus. Those that reject His blood as an offering for sin during the Great Tribulation, will receive the wine of the wrath of God poured out upon them.
Antiochus Epiphanes a Type of Antichrist
In Daniel 8, Daniel’s vision reveals that a small horn branches out from one of the four horns from the head of a goat, increasing in size and prominence. The four horns represent the division of Alexander the Great’s Empire into four kingdoms, which were ruled by four of Alexander’s generals. The horn from which the little horn grew out from is the Seleucus dynasty, and the horn represents a notorious villain of Biblical history Antiochus IV Epiphanes. Remarkably, many Christians will know Nero’s horrific persecution of the Christians, but few will know about Antiochus’ brutal persecution of the Jews, his connection to the Jewish holiday Hanukkah, and the importance of Antiochus to understanding Bible prophecy and the Antichrist. Daniel’s description of the expansion of the little horn describes Antiochus’ efforts to expand his empire, with the “glorious land” being Israel.
The little horn of Daniel 8 is not representing Antiochus only. Antiochus is a type of the Antichrist – a shadow of the reality of what is still to occur. Daniel 8:25 says the man will “take his stand against the Prince of princes. Yet he will be destroyed, but not by human power.” Antiochus fulfils the prophecy in that he fought against Yahweh, Almighty God, when he attacked the Jews. He desecrated the Temple with the erection of a statue of Zeus and sacrificed a pig on the Temple altar. However, it is the Antichrist who goes against Yeshua, the “Prince of princes,” and it is he who is defeated by Jesus upon His return. So, the fullness of the prophecy is seen in the Antichrist, while Antiochus is merely a type, a shadow of the reality that is the Antichrist.
There is a remarkable parallel between Antiochus IV Epiphanes and the Antichrist in scripture. A comparison between the two prophetic characters clearly reveals that Antiochus is a forerunner of the Antichrist, and that both are being covered by Daniel’s prophecies such as in 8:23-25, there is not an either/or interpretation of these scriptures, it is rather a both/and. An understanding of the similarities between the two prophetic characters has great relevance for those who will witness the rise of the Antichrist. The study of Antiochus will give them an indication of what the character and nature of the Antichrist will be, and aid to identifying the man:
- Antiochus used bribery and flattery of Roman politicians to stay in power. The Antichrist will use bribery and flattery to attain political power (Dan. 8:25; 11:21; Rev. 13:5-8).
- Antiochus was proud, arrogant and boastful. The Antichrist will be proud arrogant and boastful (Dan. 7:20).
- Antiochus used military power to further his ambitions. The Antichrist will use military power to further his ambitions (Dan. 11:39-44; Rev. 13:4-5; 19:19).
- In an attempt to Hellenise the Jews, Antiochus forbade the worship of YHWH and Jews were forced to worship other Gods. All religions were seen as equal. The Antichrist will divert worship away from Jesus to the queen of heaven and open his arms to all religions, calling all religions equal (2 Thess. 2:1-12).
- Antiochus discontinued the Temple service, erected a statue of Zeus in the Temple, and consecrated the Temple to Zeus. The Antichrist will discontinue the temple services and have a statue of himself erected in the Temple, and will consecrate the Temple to himself (Dan. 9:27; Matt. 24:15; 2 Thess. 2:4 Rev. 13:14-15).
- Antiochus believed himself to be a god and gave himself the title “Epiphanes,” which means the “illustrious one” or “God made manifest.” The Antichrist will require that the statue of himself in the Temple is worshipped and he will call himself God (Rev. 13:14-15; 2 Thess. 2:4).
- Antiochus tolerated religions that included worship of him as God, it was for this reason he would not tolerate Judaism. The Antichrist will tolerate religions that include worship of him as God, and for this reason he will not tolerate Christianity or Judaism (2 Thess. 2:4).
- Antiochus persecuted Jews who refused to worship the Greek pagan gods and continued to follow Judaism. The Antichrist will persecute Jews and those saints who refuse to venerate him as God (Rev. 13:7, 15).
- Antiochus blasphemed God by desecrating the Temple. The Antichrist will blaspheme God (Rev. 13:6).
- Antiochus Epiphanes did not die at the hands of man (Dan. 8:25), but of disease on his way to restore order in Judea after the defeat of his armies by the Maccabees. The Antichrist will be defeated by Jesus – not by mankind – at the battle of Armageddon in Israel. He will then be thrown into the lake of fire with the False Prophet (Rev. 19:20).
- The Jews were delivered from the persecution of Antiochus by Judas Maccabaeus. The world will be delivered from the rule of the Antichrist at the end of the Great Tribulation by the return of Jesus (Rev.19:11-21).
Nehemiah is most often remembered for his rebuilding of the walls of Jerusalem, he is also remembered for his leadership, prayer life and strength of character. He is seldom if ever remembered for his most important role, which was the main reason for God directing him back to Jerusalem – His establishing Deuteronomic law with Ezra. Ezra read the law of Moses to the people and recommended that changes be made in the lives of the returning remnant, so they could once more become a covenant people, and attain the blessings of God. It was Nehemiah however, that enforced the changes. Syncretism had continually entered into the religious practices of the Jews since their arrival back in Jerusalem, because of their intermarriage with the Gentiles living there. Nehemiah put an end to this, requiring that the men with Gentile wives divorce them (Neh. 13:26). Without Nehemiah enforcing the law of Moses, the Jews would have fallen back into syncretism, allowing their wives to practice their pagan faiths alongside their worship of YHWH. Ultimately this would have led the Jews into pagan worship, resulting once more in God’s judgement.
The holes in the walls of Jerusalem, are representations of the gaps they allowed Satan to operate through their hedge of protection, because of their idol worship.
The last two studies have revealed how both the Nations of Israel and Judah compromised their relationship with God by allowing the influences of the cultures around them to contaminate their relationship with God. Scripture continually warns mankind of the dangers of syncretism, yet mankind repeatedly ignores these warning and allow the lies and deceptions of Satan to contaminate God’s Word. The two studies have also revealed that God held the two nations accountable for opening themselves up to the influence of Babylon religion, using the nations from the Land of Nimrod to judge their sin. One of the goals of this series is to show how this theme will be repeated in the Last Days; Mystery Babylon the Great, the Mother of Harlots will be the one-world religion, and God will use the Antichrist as a tool to judge the world.