"Who's Your Savior?"   (May 2009)

A couple of months ago the Lord directed me to read in the Book of Ezekiel- specifically the eighth chapter.  I want to read chapters eight and nine to you: “And he put forth the form of an hand, and took me by a lock of mine head; and the spirit lifted me up between the earth and the heaven, and brought me in the visions of God to Jerusalem, to the door of the inner gate that looketh toward the north; where was the seat of the image of jealousy, which provoketh to jealousy. And, behold, the glory of the God of Israel was there, according to the vision that I saw in the plain. Then said he unto me, Son of man, lift up thine eyes now the way toward the north. So I lifted up mine eyes the way toward the north, and behold northward at the gate of the altar this image of jealousy in the entry. He said furthermore unto me, Son of man, seest thou what they do? even the great abominations that the house of Israel committeth here, that I should go far off from my sanctuary? but turn thee yet again, and thou shalt see greater abominations. And he brought me to the door of the court; and when I looked, behold a hole in the wall. Then said he unto me, Son of man, dig now in the wall: and when I had digged in the wall, behold a door. And he said unto me, Go in, and behold the wicked abominations that they do here. So I went in and saw; and behold every form of creeping things, and abominable beasts, and all the idols of the house of Israel, portrayed upon the wall round about. And there stood before them seventy men of the ancients of the house of Israel, and in the midst of them stood Jaazaniah the son of Shaphan, with every man his censer in his hand; and a thick cloud of incense went up. Then said he unto me, Son of man, hast thou seen what the ancients of the house of Israel do in the dark, every man in the chambers of his imagery? for they say, the Lord seeth us not; the Lord hath forsaken the earth. He said also unto me, Turn thee yet again, and thou shalt see greater abominations that they do. Then he brought me to the door of the gate of the Lord's house which was toward the north; and, behold, there sat women weeping for Tammuz. Then said he unto me, Hast thou seen this, O son of man? turn thee yet again, and thou shalt see greater abominations than these. And he brought me into the inner court of the Lord's house, and, behold, at the door of the temple of the Lord, between the porch and the altar, were about five and twenty men, with their backs toward the temple of the Lord, and their faces toward the east; and they worshipped the sun toward the east. Then he said unto me, Hast thou seen this, O son of man? Is it a light thing to the house of Judah that they commit the abominations which they commit here? for they have filled the land with violence, and have returned to provoke me to anger: and, lo, they put the branch to their nose. Therefore will I also deal in fury: mine eye shall not spare, neither will I have pity: and though they cry in mine ears with a loud voice, yet will I not hear them.  He cried also in mine ears with a loud voice, saying, Cause them that have charge over the city to draw near, even every man with his destroying weapon in his hand. And, behold, six men came from the way of the higher gate, which lieth toward the north, and every man a slaughter weapon in his hand; and one man among them was clothed with linen, with a writer's inkhorn by his side: and they went in, and stood beside the brasen altar. And the glory of the God of Israel was gone up from the cherub, whereupon he was, to the threshold of the house. And he called to the man clothed with linen, which had the writer's inkhorn by his side; And the Lord said unto him, Go through the midst of the city, through the midst of Jerusalem, and set a mark upon the foreheads of the men that sigh and that cry for all the abominations that be done in the midst thereof. And to the others he said in mine hearing, Go ye after him through the city, and smite: let not your eye spare, neither have ye pity: Slay utterly old and young, both maids, and little children, and women: but come not near any man upon whom is the mark; and begin at my sanctuary. Then they began at the ancient men which were before the house. And he said unto them, Defile the house, and fill the courts with the slain: go ye forth. And they went forth, and slew in the city. And it came to pass, while they were slaying them, and I was left, that I fell upon my face, and cried, and said, Ah, Lord God! wilt thou destroy all the residue of Israel in thy pouring out of thy fury upon Jerusalem? Then said he unto me, The iniquity of the house of Israel and Judah is exceeding great, and the land is full of blood, and the city full of perverseness: for they say, The Lord hath forsaken the earth, and the Lord seeth not. And as for me also, mine eye shall not spare, neither will I have pity, but I will recompense their way upon their head. And, behold, the man clothed with linen, which had the inkhorn by his side, reported the matter, saying, I have done as thou hast commanded me.” (Ezekiel 8:3-18; 9)  When I read these two chapters I was like Ezekiel, horrified and began to pray.

In these chapters the Lord showed Ezekiel three abominations that the people were committing, each one more abominable then the other.  Because of these abominations God called for the men who had charge over the city to come forth with their swords in their hands.  One of the men was dressed in linen and was to go throughout the city and mark all of those who were not taking part in the abominations but were weeping over them instead.  God told the men to slay everyone who did not have a mark. 

What were these abominations that would cause God to be so angry?  What would cause Him to have all these people slain?  What would cause Him to pour out His fury?  What were they doing that would make God close His ears to their cries and not show mercy?

In chapter eight God mentioned the “imagery of jealousy” twice.  This image was what stirred up the jealousy of God and provoked Him to anger.  It wasn’t just the fact that the people were worshipping it, they had worshipped other images before and the Lord had not destroyed them like He did this day.  Why was this image different?  What was it?

Our clue is found in these verses: “Then he brought me to the door of the gate of the Lord's house which was toward the north; and, behold, there sat women weeping for Tammuz. Then said he unto me, Hast thou seen this, O son of man? turn thee yet again, and thou shalt see greater abominations than these. And he brought me into the inner court of the Lord's house, and, behold, at the door of the temple of the Lord, between the porch and the altar, were about five and twenty men, with their backs toward the temple of the Lord, and their faces toward the east; and they worshipped the sun toward the east.” (Ezekiel 8:14-16)  They were worshipping the sun and Tammuz? 

Let’s have a little history lesson for a moment.  Go back to Genesis 10:8- “And Cush begat Nimrod: he began to be a mighty one in the earth.”  Nimrod was the great grandson of Noah.  He dwelled in Shinar (Babylon)- a Godless city and the home to the beginnings of idolatry.  Nimrod established false worship and it had it’s beginnings with him at Babel.  Remember the Tower of Babel?  He was the force behind it’s building.  The Tower of Babel was more than just man’s attempt to get to heaven, it was the first idol/image and it became the object of men’s worship and point of their pride.  Nimrod had a wife.  Her name was Semiramis.  Because Nimrod founded this false worship- false religions- his wife became the high priestess (who was worshipped) of these false cults that arose from it.  “Go to, let us go down, and there confound their language, that they may not understand one another's speech. So the Lord scattered them abroad from thence upon the face of all the earth: and they left off to build the city. Therefore is the name of it called Babel; because the Lord did there confound the language of all the earth: and from thence did the Lord scatter them abroad upon the face of all the earth.” (Genesis 11:7-9)  When God came down and confused their language and scattered them throughout the earth, they took their false religions and practices with them.  Remember that Nimrod’s wife, Semiramis, was the worshipped high priestess, so they took their “Semiramis worship” with them.  We see this religion throughout history and it’s even present today.  Semiramis became known in Assyria and Nineveh as Ishtar.  In Phoenicia she was called Ashteroth, in Egypt, Isis, in Greece, Aphrodite and in Rome she was called Venus.  It was all the same high priestess of the false Babylonian religions- they just worshipped her by different names, in their “new languages”.  According to her own religion, Semiramis gave birth to a son.  His name was Tammuz (sound familiar?) and she said that he was born by a sunbeam.  In other words she was impregnated by a sunbeam, thus Tammuz was virgin born and she is a perpetual virgin.  The story also says that when Tammuz grew up he was attacked by a wild boar who killed him.  When he was killed, his mother, Semiramis, went into mourning for 40 days.  For 40 days she prayed and wept and denied herself and on the 40th day, he rose from the dead.  This story is the basis of false religions everywhere.  In Phoenicia Tammuz’s name was Baal, In Egypt, Osiris, in Greece, Eros, in Rome, Cupid.  Does this sound familiar?  This is satan’s counterfeit for God’s plan of bringing redemption through His only begotten Son born of the virgin Mary.   

Back to Ezekiel eight.  From our history lesson you can get a little understanding about why this was such an abomination to the Lord.  The people, His chosen people, were worshipping this goddess, weeping over the death and resurrection of her son, Tammuz, and had turned their back on God’s holy temple- the representation of worship to God and faced the sun- which had produced this Tammuz.  Let me take it one step further so that you can see why God told Ezekiel that it was a greater abomination.  The name Tammuz translated means:  savior; sprout of life.  A sprout comes from a “seed”.  In Genesis 3:14,15- “And the Lord God said unto the serpent, Because thou hast done this, thou art cursed above all cattle, and above every beast of the field; upon thy belly shalt thou go, and dust shalt thou eat all the days of thy life: And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.”  The first prophecy of the coming Messiah said that the “seed” of a woman would bruise the head of the serpent.  This “seed” that was referred to meant that a woman’s child- her offspring- would be the Savior of mankind.  The people were worshipping Tammuz as their savior, the “seed” of God that would come and deliver them.

The children of Israel were always turning their backs on God and going after false gods.  As a result He would allow an enemy to take them captive, send a judge to tear down their places of worship, send pestilence, etc., but there are only two times in the scriptures where God brought the sword against the people for their idolatry- here in this account and in the wilderness when they created the golden calf and worshipped it.  Why?  Both of these instances have one thing in common.  The people were ascribing the title of “God”, not just “a god” to them.  Exodus 32:1-4,“And when the people saw that Moses delayed to come down out of the mount, the people gathered themselves together unto Aaron, and said unto him, Up, make us gods, which shall go before us; for as for this Moses, the man that brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we wot not what is become of him. And Aaron said unto them, Break off the golden earrings, which are in the ears of your wives, of your sons, and of your daughters, and bring them unto me. And all the people brake off the golden earrings which were in their ears, and brought them unto Aaron. And he received them at their hand, and fashioned it with a graving tool, after he had made it a molten calf: and they said, These be thy gods, O Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt.”  When they said that, “These be your gods, Israel, which brought you out of the land of Egypt”, the word that was used was “Elohim”.  They called the idol by the same name that Jehovah was known by.  The first time God identified Himself by the name Elohim was in Genesis 1:1, “In the beginning God [Elohim] created the heaven and the earth.”  They knew this was God’s name yet they were saying to the golden calf, “You, are our God; You are our Savior; You are the One who saved us and delivered us from Egypt”.  And in Ezekiel the priests and the women were saying the same thing to the sun, “You are our God; You have given us our Savior; You, Tammuz, are our Savior, our Messiah, the Seed of life.”  In both instances God brought the sword to slay the people who were worshipping these idols because they were not just replacing God with this false god, they weren’t just substituting one for the other, they weren’t just worshipping Tammuz and the golden calf in addition to God, they were actually identifying them as GOD.  They changed the glory of the incorruptible God into a mere image and the truth of God into a lie.  “Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened.  And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and four footed beasts, and creeping things. Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen.” (Romans 1:21,23,25)  The fury of God without mercy was brought on because of this “imagery of jealousy” which was, in short, a false god worshipped as the real God and real Christ.

What does that have to do with today?  When the disciples asked Jesus about the signs of His coming, His reply was, “And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you. For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many.” (Matthew 24:4,5)  The first sign was a warning not to be deceived.  Deceived by what?  False religions and their false Christ claiming to be the “real” Christ.  Jesus used the word “many” and gave three warnings on the same subject in His answer to them.  From this we gather that false religions and false Christs will be prevalent in the last days.  “And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many. Then if any man shall say unto you, Lo, here is Christ, or there; believe it not. For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.” (Matthew 24:23,24)

As we have learned, all false religions have their roots with Nimrod, his wife Semiramis and Babel.  From this we also learn that the goal of these false religions is to cause you to get your eyes off the real God/Christ and look to and worship a false one.  These idols and false deities that were worshipped throughout the ages are not carved images that have been passed down from one generation to the next.  Instead, it’s a “spirit” that empowers these teachings and false worship.  (That “spirit” is “alive and well” today, as Jesus said it would be.) 

This spirit can operate through real flesh and blood men who rise up and proclaim to be the Christ in order to amass a following.  It can operate in a group (cults) that proclaims a certain religious belief and adheres to it.  Or it can come in other forms.  Let me explain what I mean.  The word Christ means Messiah or Anointed One.  The word Messiah means savior, deliverer.  This “spirit” tries to give you a “Savior”- a false one.   A savior is one who saves, preserves, or delivers from destruction or danger.  On a world wide scale nations are looking for a “savior”; someone or something, to save them from the calamities that are happening around them- wars, economic crisis, diseases, oppression, etc.- and bring peace and unity.  On an individual scale people are looking for a deliverer to deliver them from their debts, from poverty, to save their jobs, to give them financial security, provide for their physical needs, give them a better life and came to their rescue with help.  So we look to a person to give us the answers we need.  We look to a program to provide for our well being.  We look to money to save us from debt and to make us secure and give us peace of mind.  We look to the government, to politicians, to the judicial system, to religious leaders to solve all our problems. 

I am not saying that money, government, doctors, etc. don’t have a place, but what place are we giving them?  Are we putting our faith and trust in them to save us?  Are we looking to them to be our deliverers?  Are we, in essence, making them our savior when we put our hope in them?  If we don’t feel like we can make it without them, if we are weeping over them like the women who were weeping over Tammuz, then have they become our savior- aren’t we making them our “Christ”?  Aren’t we then attributing to them something that we should be attributing to God?  Don’t be deceived, people, institutions and material things cannot solve your problems, they are not your “Savior”.  We must heed the warnings of Jesus and be on guard against allowing them to be to us what He only can be.

That spirit, as we have said, is still with us today and like in times past it often goes by another name.  Today what is your golden calf’s name that you call “God”?  Is it money, a welfare program, a drug, good works?  Who is your “Tammuz?”  Is he called by the name of a man, a world leader, a religious leader, a past figure in history?  We saw that God’s jealousy was provoked when His people worshipped a false Savior/God as if it were Him.  He brought destruction upon them.  He hasn’t changed, He is still a God who is jealous over His people’s love, affection and faith.  “For thou shalt worship no other god: for the Lord, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God.” (Exodus 34:14)  God isn’t still sending the sword to bring destruction on those today who did what they did in the past.  But one day we will all stand before Him at the Judgment, and on that day He will judge all on the basis of the Savior/Christ.  Did you know the real Savior, Jesus, or did you serve another “Christ”?  “And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.” (Acts 16:31)  “In the day when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ according to my gospel.” (Romans 2:16)

Don’t fall into the temptation to look to other things to save you.  Don’t be deceived into believing that material things and people are your Savior.  They are not your source, they are only a resource.  They are not your Provider, only a provision.  They are not the Creator, only a creation.  They are not God, they are only a man.  They are not real, they are only an image.  When Jesus returns to the earth, what will He find?  What will He be looking for?  “...When the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?” (Luke 18:8b)  Jesus will be looking for faith.  Faith in Him; faith in His ability to answer our prayers and meet our needs; faith in Him as the only true Savior of the world; faith that worships Him because He is God.  “...Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.” (Matthew 16:16b)