The Main Thing Is Worship
When examining the beast from the earth in Chapter 13 of Revelation, you’ll find that the big thing he wants is worship. God however, is the only one worthy of our worship. He is our Creator, our Savior and our King. Because He knows the devil is out to trick us, God tells us in the Bible exactly how to worship him. He tells us in what ways and on what days. The devil, through the beasts, has confused the world.
In The Big Mark – Part 1 we learned some basics about the mark of the beast. We all belong to somebody – either God or Satan. Satan would like to mark us and show that he has authority over our lives. God would like to mark us as well and show that we are his special people and that we trust in Him. We also read a story in Ezekiel about people who were marked on the forehead and were saved. They were sad about what the people in God’s temple were doing. Those people were weeping for Tammuz and worshiping the sun.
Now we are going to get more specific. What does all of this have to do with my life? How can I keep from having the mark of the beast? Remember that Revelation is specifically written to the church. It is for God’s people and is about the deception that has entered right into the church. The Seal of God is the opposite of the mark of the beast. The seal of God is God’s Holy Spirit which leads us into all truth when we follow God with all our heart.
Do you want to know where sun worship came from and how it crept into the church hundreds of years ago? Do you want to learn about some special signs on the hand and forehead that the Bible talks about that will show us how God wants us to worship him? This should be exciting! Hang on to your hats!
A Short History of Sun Worship
First we must go way, way, way back to the tower of Babel. After the flood, Noah’s son Ham had a son named Cush, who had a son named Nimrod a powerful man, who was a builder of cities. Two of these cities included Babel and Ninevah (Gen. 10:1, 6-11). The tower of Babel was built in the city that would become Babylon. They wanted to make a name for themselves and follow their own imaginations (Gen. 11:4, 6). But God confused the language of the people and forced them to scatter over the whole earth. This is where it gets really interesting.
While this next part of the story is not in the Bible the long-lasting effects are. The story goes that Nimrod married his mother Semiramis. They ruled as King and Queen and were treated as gods. They were very wicked and did not worship the God of heaven. They even encouraged child sacrifices.
When Nimrod died, all his followers were sad. Semiramis came up with a plan. She became pregnant and told the people, when Nimrod died he went up to the sun. Then a ray of the sun made her pregnant and her baby was really Nimrod come back to life. She named the baby Tammuz and the three of them, Nimrod, Semiramis and Tammuz were worshiped as the sun-god. Semiramis called herself the Queen of Heaven and her husband/son was eventually called Baal.
Okay, we don’t know exactly what parts of the above story are factual. I’m not going to argue over different versions. Let’s stick to what we do know. We know that God was not pleased with idolatry and the worship of false gods.
Sun Worship (aka Baal worship) Spreads to the Whole World
All through the Old Testament Baal worship was condemned by God and his prophets but the Israelite people kept returning to Baal worship over and over. This Baal worship (aka sun worship) spread to many parts of the world. These false gods took on different names in various places. Isis, Osiris, and Horus in Egypt, Ashtoreth and Tammuz in Phoenicia, Aphrodite and Eros in Greece, and Venus and Cupid in Rome.
In different parts of the world people continued to worship the sun. In the dark of winter when the days were at their shortest they looked for the return of the sun-god. When the days began to get longer they celebrated the birth of the sun-god and held festivities.
Sun Worship in the Church?
So how did this sun worship creep into the church? None of this sounds like church stuff so far. Enter the sneaky beast.
A few hundred years after Jesus went back to Heaven Satan did something very sneaky. The persecution and killing of Christians wasn’t working so well. The good news of Jesus was spreading quickly. The devil needed to try something different. Instead of attacking the church from the outside, he would attack the church from within. Satan began building a counterfeit church that would mix the practices of sun worship and Christianity. Soon everyone would think they were worshiping God, but they would really be breaking God’s commandments. What a clever plan!
There are many, many things Satan brought into the church and we don’t have time to talk about all of them here. The mark of the beast may even include more than one particular “mark” or “sign”. For now we will focus on a few things that Satan changed that are too big to be ignored.
Don’t Follow the Crowd
These things may sound crazy if you haven’t studied them before. After all how could something that everyone is doing be wrong!
- First, not every christian does these things. Many, many christians are studying this and returning to God’s ways.
- Second, the Bible tells us that “The whole world was filled with wonder and followed the beast” (Rev. 13:3). It’s not a good sign to follow the crowd!
God’s Word Can Be Trusted
Just so you don’t think it’s just little ole’ me coming up with this, I’m going to use a lot of Bible verses below… more than I normally do. Not because I want to bore you, but because God’s word is always true and can always be trusted. Remember the mark of the beast is on the hand and on the forehead (between the eyes). It is a sign of who has authority in your life. Who you will follow? In your mind (forehead) and by your actions (the hand). But we want to become like Jesus. We want to have the mind of Christ (his thoughts in our foreheads) and do what he asks us to do. Right?
The Bible talks about several things that would be signs on the hand and between the eyes (the forehead) of his people (Rev. 13:16). Satan is trying to sell lies. God’s word reveals truth.
The Bible tells us about some special signs that show we belong to God. Signs that reveal who has authority in our lives. Some even say specifically that they are signs on the hand and between the eyes (forehead)! Wow!
“Moreover also I gave them my sabbaths, to be a sign between me and them, that they might know that I am the Lord that sanctify them.” -Ezekiel 20:12
“And hallow my sabbaths; and they shall be a sign between me and you, that ye may know that I am the Lord your God.” Ezekiel 20:20
“Seven days thou shalt eat unleavened bread, and in the seventh day shall be a feast to the Lord. And it shall be for a sign unto thee upon thine hand, and for a memorial between thine eyes, that the Lord’s law may be in thy mouth: for with a strong hand hath the Lord brought thee out of Egypt. Thou shalt therefore keep this ordinance in his season from year to year.” Exodus 13:6, 9-10
“Speak thou also unto the children of Israel, saying, Verily my sabbaths ye shall keep: for it is a sign between me and you throughout your generations; that ye may know that I am the Lord that doth sanctify you. Six days may work be done; but the seventh is the sabbath of rest, holy to the Lord: whosoever doth any work in the sabbath day, he shall surely be put to death. Wherefore the children of Israel shall keep the sabbath, to observe the sabbath throughout their generations, for a perpetual covenant. It is a sign between me and the the children of Israel forever: for in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, and on the seventh day he rested, and was refreshed.” Exodus 30:13,15-17
“Now these are the commandments, the statutes, and the judgments, which the Lord your God commanded to teach you, that ye might do them in the land whither ye go to possess it: Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God is one Lord: And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might. And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up. And thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thine hand, and they shall be as frontlets between thine eyes.” Deuteronomy 6:1, 4-8
Let’s summarize. What are the signs that the Lord is our God?
- The Lord’s sabbaths holy. (Ezek. 20:12, Exod. 13:6)
- Observe the seventh-day Sabbath. (Exod. 30:13, 15-17)
- Keep the feast of unleavened bread. (Exod. 30:13, 15-17)
- Put the commandments, the statues, and the judgments which God commanded in your heart and teach them to your children. (Deut. 6:1, 4-8)
Do you think Satan would want to mix up these special signs? Would he want to confuse the followers of Jesus? Would he want to put his own mark of authority on us? The Bible says he will. Let’s see what history can teach us.
God’s Signs Changed Long Ago
Here are two examples of how God’s special signs were changed.
The 7th day Sabbath (Saturday) was changed to the day of the sun (Sunday).
- The seventh-day Sabbath, which God made holy at creation (Gen. 2:2-3) was forgotten and worship was shifted to the first day of the week. Nowhere in the Bible will you find the holy Sabbath changed to Sunday. The apostles also kept the seventh-day Sabbath (Saturday). Only many years later did Christians begin worshiping on the so-called Lord’s day. The first law urging the people to rest on the sacred day of the sun was given by Constantine in A.D. 321. (1)
- 16 years after Constantine’s decree, the Roman church made it official church doctrine by claiming the Sabbath was a Jewish day. They did not want anything to do with the Jews. (2,3) Never mind that people kept the Sabbath (Saturday) holy for 2500 years before there ever was a Jew.
- The Sabbath was given at creation in honor of our creator and the world he made (Gen.2:3, Exod. 20:11). The Bible says to keep the seventh-day holy. The Roman church in 337 A.D. said to keep Sunday holy.
God’s holy days were changed
- Exodus 13 speaks of the feast of unleavened bread as a sign upon the hand and the forehead. It began with Passover and continued seven days. This feast was still observed by Paul and the apostles in the early church. Over time Passover which had always been on the 14th day of the 1st month (Lev. 23:5-6), was changed to Easter Sunday.(4) It is not a coincidence that the name Easter comes from heathen gods.(5) Church leaders that had studied under John the apostle refused to celebrate Easter Sunday as directed by Rome, and continued observing the Passover as the Bible says. Of course they did not kill and eat a lamb anymore because Jesus was the lamb that was slain. They observed it as a reminder of what Christ had done (1 Cor. 5:7-8). A few decades later (189-198AD) these faithful Christians that only wanted to remember Christ’s death as the scriptures and the apostle John had taught, were thrown out of the church by the leaders from Rome. (6)
- Other days appointed by God were either changed, replaced or forgotten. We don’t have time to explain that history here.
The Last Word
Who will have the last word with you? God’s word says that he will mark his faithful people who are sad about the sun worship going on in his temple (Read part 1 here). You are his temple (1 cor. 3:16-17). You are his church. God’s mark says you belong to him. He is the one you worship. Will you trust God to tell you how and when to worship him?
Satan through the sneaky beast says, NO, you should worship God this other way. Look! Everyone is doing it! Never mind that it is a tradition, changed by man, centuries ago. Never mind that the Bible never says to worship God on the first-day of the week or on Easter. Never mind that the Bible says “Do not worship me the way the nations around you worship me” or warns that Satan through the little horn in Daniel will seek “to change times and laws”(Deut. 12:29-32, Dan. 7:25). Never mind all that. Just go with the crowd!
God has so much to teach us. He loves us so much! He does not want us to be tricked by Satan’s lies and deception. God has given us the Bible as a lamp to our feet and a light to our path. I want to walk in the light he shows me from his Word. I pray you want to walk in the light he is showing you as well.
Note to parents: This is a deep topic. I have studied this and wrestled with God for years. I don’t know how all this will play out in earth’s final days. Only God knows. However, God’s word is simple and plain. He has trusted us to teach his Word to our children. This is a most sacred trust. I could make this more simple for kids – but I made it longer with more quotes for parents and teachers. You may have questions. I pray you will turn to God’s word for answers and not to any person – including me! I’ll be happy to answer any questions by pointing to the scriptures. God’s word must be our foundation for truth if we are to withstand the darts of the enemy.
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- “On the Venerable Day of the Sun [“venerabili die Solis”–the sacred day of the Sun] let the magistrates and people residing in cities rest, and let all workshops be closed. In the country, however, persons engaged in agriculture may freely and lawfully continue their pursuits; because it often happens that another day is not so suitable for grain-sowing or for vine-planting; lest by neglecting the proper moment for such operations the bounty of heaven should be lost–Given the 7th day of March, [A.D. 321], Crispus and Constantine being consuls each of them for the second time.” The First Sunday Law of Constantine 1, in “Codex Justinianus,” lib. 3, tit. 12, 3; trans. in Phillip Schaff “History of the Christian Church,” Vol. 3, p. 380.
- “Christians shall not Judaize and be idle on Saturday [in the original: “sabbato” shall not be idle on the Sabbath], but shall work on that day; but the Lord’s day they shall especially honour, and as being Christians, shall, if possible, do no work on that day. If, however, they are found Judaizing, they shall be shut out [“anathema,”–excommunicated] from Christ.” Council of Laodicea, c. A.D. 337, Canon 29, quoted in C.J. Hefele, “A History of the Councils of the Church,” Vol. 2, p. 316.
- “The Council of Laodicea … forbids Christians from judaizing and resting on the Sabbath day, preferring the Lord’s day, and so far as possible resting as Christians.” Encyclopaedia Britannica, 1899 Edition, Vol. XXIII, page 654.
- “The feast of the resurrection was thenceforth required to be celebrated everywhere on a Sunday, and never on the day of the Jewish passover, but always after the fourteenth of Nisan, on the Sunday after the first vernal full moon. The leading motive for this regulation was opposition to Judaism, which had dishonored the passover by the crucifixion of the Lord. .. Philip Schaff, History of the Christian Church, volume 3, section 79
- The great christian festival, which usually falls in April or the end of March, bears in the oldest of [Old High German] remains the name ôstarâ; it is mostly found in the plural, because two days (ôstartagâ, aostortagâ, Diut. 1, 266) were kept at Easter. This Ostrâ, like the [Anglo Saxon] Eâstre, must in the heathen religion have denoted a higher being, whose worship was so firmly rooted, that the christian teachers tolerated the name, and applied it to one of their own grandest anniversaries. Jacob Grimm, Teutonic Mythology, vol. 1, 4th ed., trans. James Steven Stallybrass (George Bell and Sons, 1882), 289–291.
- The early church historian Eusebius wrote: “But the bishops of Asia, led by Polycrates, decided to hold to the old custom handed down to them. He himself, in a letter which he addressed to Victor and the church of Rome, set forth in the following words the tradition which had come down to him: ‘We observe the exact day; neither adding, nor taking away. For in Asia also great lights have fallen asleep… Among these are Philip, one of the twelve apostles… moreover, John, who was both a witness and a teacher, who reclined upon the bosom of the Lord… All these observed the fourteenth day of the Passover according to the Gospel, deviating in no respect, but following the rule of faith’ … Thereupon Victor, who presided over the church at Rome, immediately attempted to cut off from the common unity the parishes of all Asia, with the churches that agreed with them, as heterodox; and he wrote letters and declared all the brethren there wholly excommunicate” (Life of Constantine, ch. XXIV)