John 16 – The Coming of the Spirit & Ancient Man’s Cults, Sects, and Religions: Shintoism (7 of 8)

I just don’t get it, God.  I don’t understand why anyone worship another human being?  Why anyone would worship something that was man-made, like a wooden or metal statue/idol?  Why anyone would worship anything without proof of its existence?

We can look all around and even though we can’t see Your face, we can certainly see Your handiwork.  And to help us out You even sent Your Son down here and He has been seen by many so we have absolute proof of Your existence.

Through the Bible and Jesus’ words we know Satan is real, but he’s nobody to worship, he’s nothing but an evil narcissistic fool and his followers are people like Bush, Obama, Hilary, etc.

Below we’ll look at one of these ridiculous beliefs and tomorrow we’ll look at the opposite, we’ll look at the last ten…

John 16
The Coming of the Spirit

Kojiki is the oldest extant chronicle in Japan, dating from the early 8th century (711–712) and composed by Ō no Yasumaro at the request of Empress Gemmei.

The Kojiki is a collection of myths concerning the origin of the four home islands of Japan, and the Kami. Along with the Nihon Shoki, the myths contained in the Kojiki are part of the inspiration behind Shinto practices and myths, including the misogi purification ritual.

1 These things have I spoken unto you, that ye should not be offended.

2 They shall put you out of the synagogues: yea, the time cometh, that whosoever killeth you will think that he doeth God service.

3 And these things will they do unto you, because they have not known the Father, nor me.

4 But these things have I told you, that when the time shall come, ye may remember that I told you of them. And these things I said not unto you at the beginning, because I was with you.

5 But now I go my way to him that sent me; and none of you asketh me, Whither goest thou?

6 But because I have said these things unto you, sorrow hath filled your heart.

7 Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you.

“If I go not away” – Jesus didn’t say why the Holy Ghost wouldn’t come until He went away, but clearly taught that His saving work on the cross was necessary before the sending of the Spirit. 

We don’t need to know why – that is just how God wants to do it, that’s all we need to know.

8 And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment:

“He…will reprove the world” – the work the Holy Ghost does in the world.

9 Of sin, because they believe not on me;

“Of sin” – apart from the Holy Ghost’s convicting work, people can never see themselves as sinners.

“Because they believe not” – may mean that their sin is their failure to believe, or that their unbelief is a classic example of sin.

10 Of righteousness, because I go to my Father, and ye see me no more;

The Inner Shrine, Naikū (also officially known as “Kotai Jingū”), is located in the town of Uji-tachi, south of central Ise City, and is dedicated to the worship of Amaterasu-ōmikami.

The Outer Shrine, Gekū (also officially known as “Toyouke Daijingu”), is located about six kilometers from Naikū and dedicated to Toyouke no ōmikami, the deity of agriculture and industry.

11 Of judgment, because the prince of this world is judged.

“Of judgment” – Jesus was speaking of the defeat of Satan, which was a form of judgment, not simply a victory because Jesus already defeated the devil when He was resurrected.  The devil is now just waiting for his day of sentencing, the harvest.

12 I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now.

13 Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come.

“Whatsoever he shall hear” – we aren’t told whether He hears from the Father or the Son, but it obviously does not matter, for the verse stresses the close relationship among the three.

14 He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you.

15 All things that the Father hath are mine: therefore said I, that he shall take of mine, and shall shew it unto you.

16 A little while, and ye shall not see me: and again, a little while, and ye shall see me, because I go to the Father.

“A little while…a little while” – a few doubt that the first phrase refers to the interval before the crucifixion.  But interpretations differ as to whether the second refers to the interval preceding the resurrection or the coming of the Spirit or the second coming of Christ?

Emperor Meiji (3 Nov 1852 – 30 July 1912), or Meiji the Great was the 122nd Emperor of Japan according to the traditional order of succession, reigning from 3 February 1867 until his death on 30 July 1912.

He presided over a time of rapid change in the Empire of Japan, as the nation quickly changed from a feudal state to a capitalist and imperial world power, characterized by Japan’s industrial revolution.

The disciples weren’t stupid so I believe the first phrase was talking about Jesus ascension to heaven and the second was about His second coming.

17 Then said some of his disciples among themselves, What is this that he saith unto us, A little while, and ye shall not see me: and again, a little while, and ye shall see me: and, Because I go to the Father?

18 They said therefore, What is this that he saith, A little while? we cannot tell what he saith.

19 Now Jesus knew that they were desirous to ask him, and said unto them, Do ye enquire among yourselves of that I said, A little while, and ye shall not see me: and again, a little while, and ye shall see me?

20 Verily, verily, I say unto you, That ye shall weep and lament, but the world shall rejoice: and ye shall be sorrowful, but your sorrow shall be turned into joy.

21 A woman when she is in travail hath sorrow, because her hour is come: but as soon as she is delivered of the child, she remembereth no more the anguish, for joy that a man is born into the world.

22 And ye now therefore have sorrow: but I will see you again, and your heart shall rejoice, and your joy no man taketh from you.

23 And in that day ye shall ask me nothing. Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, he will give it you.

“Ye shall ask me nothing” – seems to mean asking for information (rather than asking in prayer), which would not be necessary after the resurrection.  Jesus then moved on to the subject of prayer.

However, Jesus may have been saying that His disciples previously had been praying to Christ, but after His death and resurrection they were to go directly to the Father and pray in Christ’s name.

Amaterasu Omikami: Principal Japanese deity who is the ruler of the gods and universe. She is the goddess of the sun, the Great Goddess or Mother Goddess who is responsible for fertility.

I believe what Jesus was saying verifies what Paul said:

“These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.

And this is the confidence that we have in him, that if we ask anything according to his well, he heareth us.

And if we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him” (1 Jn 5:13-15).

24 Hitherto have ye asked nothing in my name: ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full.

“Asked nothing in my name” – I don’t believe Jesus meant verbally, but many people ask and Jesus is not in their heart.

25 These things have I spoken unto you in proverbs: but the time cometh, when I shall no more speak unto you in proverbs, but I shall shew you plainly of the Father.

26 At that day ye shall ask in my name: and I say not unto you, that I will pray the Father for you:

27 For the Father himself loveth you, because ye have loved me, and have believed that I came out from God.

“The Father himself loveth you” – Christ is explaining why the disciples can come directly to the Father in prayer.  It’s because the disciples have loved and trusted in Jesus, and in love God will hear their requests in Jesus’ name.  Remember, a disciples is anyone that believes in Jesus.

Izanami no Mikoto (she who Invites) and Izanagi No Mikoto (he who invites) are the two deities responsible for creating the first land mass. They were both siblings and spouses, and produced several children, including the eight babies who made up Japan, and several other deities.

28 I came forth from the Father, and am come into the world: again, I leave the world, and go to the Father.

29 His disciples said unto him, Lo, now speakest thou plainly, and speakest no proverb.

30 Now are we sure that thou knowest all things, and needest not that any man should ask thee: by this we believe that thou camest forth from God.

31 Jesus answered them, Do ye now believe?

32 Behold, the hour cometh, yea, is now come, that ye shall be scattered, every man to his own, and shall leave me alone: and yet I am not alone, because the Father is with me.

“Ye shall be scattered” – the disciples had faith, but not enough to stand firm in face of disaster.  Jesus knew they would fail; however, His church is not built on people’s strength but on God’s ability to use people even after they have failed.

33 These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.

Ancient Man’s Cults, Sects, and Religions:
Shintoism (7of 8)

Shinto is a traditional religion of Japan that developed a result of the influences of Buddhism and Confucianism. Shinto comes from the Chinese word “shin which means “way of the gods. ”

Shinto has no known founder or single sacred scripture.
Shinto is wholly devoted to life in this world and emphasises man’s essential goodness.

It is the ancient religion of Japan that is as much about Japanese culture as it is about religion. Having no real founder, Shinto claims no sacred texts in the sense of holding their writings to be inspired or revered.

They are regarded more as useful. One in particular, called Kojiki, is widely read. It otherwise possesses no body of written laws or no liturgy. The priesthood is not well organized.

History

Shinto emerged in 5th century B.C. when several sects developed in a reaction against Buddhism. One of these was called Ise Shinto. It was not until the 19th century under Emperor Meiji (1868-1912) that Shinto became adopted as the official religion of Japan.

Shinto shrine in Nara
The traditional religion of Japan is Shinto, which roughly translates to the way of the Gods. However, Shinto did not have a name until the introduction of Buddhism to Japan via Chinese ambassadors, back when they were still welcomed, and Buddha was initially viewed as an additional deity to be worshiped.

This was at the time when the emperor was considered divine. Meiji traced his line back in succession to the first mythical emperor Jimmu (660 B.C.). Before and beyond Jimmu, succession stretched to the sun goddess, Amaterasu Omikami.

Shintoism was Japan’s national religion before World War II, out of which the successive divine emperors led to the belief that one is granted life for giving his life to the emperor. This formed the basis for kamikaze suicide pilots during the War.

After Japan surrendered to America in World War II, the American army forced the Japanese emperor to renounce his divinity. Since then, religion and politics have been separated.

Beliefs and Practices

Shinto is an eclectic blend of nature worship, fertility cults, divination, emperor worship, and shamanism. Worship focuses on gratitude to the kami, who are people or natural entities that have for centuries evoked the wonder of the Japanese.

Kami may be hills, mountains, or animals. Often the kami are deities and special human individuals, the latter commonly being emperors. This accounts for Japan’s longstanding worship of its emperors.

Shinto worship also occurs in homes, where a small altar (called a kami dana or kami shelf) may contain a number of items that are worshiped and revered, such as the names of the departed ancestors or statues of deities. In Shinto, ancestors are greatly revered and worshiped.

Zao Gongen, the protective deity of a Shinto-Buddhist cult called Shugendo

This statue of Zao Gongen can be seen in the East Asian Collection at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Zao Gongen was the spirit of Mt Kimpu, which is south of Nara.

He had previously been holding a thunderbolt scepter, which is now missing. The Fujiwaras, everyone’s favorite ruling clan, were among the adherents of Shugendo, a syncretic Shinto-Buddhist cult.

One of the popular kamis has a divine couple, Izanagi-no-mikoto and Izanami-no-mikoto giving birth to the Japanese islands. One of their daughters, Amaterasu Omikami, became the sun goddess.

She has a shrine in her honor at Ise, a tribute to the (act that she is believed to have brought unity to the country.

Since there is no prescribed liturgies or specific sacred writings that guide the practitioner of Shinto, the canons of Confucianism are followed.

There are four affirmations in Shinto.  They are:

1. Tradition and family. The family preserves the j ancient memory and identity of each member of the family.

2. Love for nature. Nature is a vehicle for bringing I one closer to the gods. It is considered sacred.

3. Physical cleanliness. Practitioners of Shinto constantly bathe themselves and are greatly concerned about hygiene. The ideal place for bathing is at a river near the shrines, where the kami an worshiped.

4. Matsuri. This is the worship of the kami.

Shrines are built to specific kami. Upon entering it shrine, a tori, or gateway, is passed through. When passing through the tori one leaves the world behind and transcends to the infinite realm, where the deity dwells.

Shrine ceremonies include cleansings, prayers, and offerings. Worshipful dances, called kagura, are performed by both men and virgin women.

Celebrations of the seasons are held in the fall and in the spring. National Founding Day takes place on February 11th; this day is believed to be the birthday of Japan. A number of other festivals and rites of are observed.

Great Buddha of Nara
A certain Buddhist melancholy is pervasive in the art and literature of the period, but pagan Shinto celebrations of agriculture were happily continued.

Origami (“paper of the spirits”) is the art of folding paper into various shapes. The folded paper is placed in shrines. This paper is never cut because it is believed that the trees from which they came are sacred.

There are four major traditions in Shinto.  These include:

1. Koshitsu Shinto. This pertains to the emperor himself and the rituals specifically performed by him.

2. Jinja Shinto. As the largest and oldest form of Shinto ritual, Jinja ritual focuses on prayers directed to the emperor, thanksgiving  for the kami, and obedience to the emperor.

3. Kyoha Shinto. There are thirteen sects formed in the modern world (from the 19th century on), each following its own particular rituals.

4. Minzoku Shinto. These are privatized and local rituals.

Conclusion

Traditional Christianity bears little resemblance theologically to Shinto. In reality, the worshiping of the Kami is a form of polytheism, whereas Christianity adheres to monotheism, as God demands:

“I am the LORD thy God…

Thou shalt have no other gods before me” (Ex 20:2-3).

Some Protestant and Catholics in Japan do use the word Kami to denote God.  They blend the work kami with the word sama to make kamisama, thinking that is respectful of God –WRONG!

The worship of human emperors or ancestors is against God.  There is no salvation from sin without Jesus Christ.

…stories of the 20 most famous love stories in history and literature.

Amos 9 – The Destruction of the Sanctuary & Ancient Man’s Cults, Sects, and Religions: Jainism (6 of 9)

As I’ve said before I don’t understand why people can believe in an idea or a man-made god, and not You?

You created the earth and that would also mean that You control it, including the weather and everything that happens.

For example, Amos 8:8  – “…as by the flood of Egypt.” – each year the Nile in Egypt overflows, rising as much as 25 feet, and it floods the entire valley except for the towns and villages standing above it.

Can people really think that this happens by coincidence?  The earth and sky have no power over themselves, somebody has to cause this to happen.  Buddha is dead and there is no wooden or stone god that can make this happen.  What happens on earth is controlled only by You.

Nothing happens that You don’t cause or allow the devil to do.  You created everything and You control everything, there’s nothing You can’t do.

“But Jesus beheld them, and said unto them, With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible” (Matt 19:26).

“Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature:

For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him:

And he is before all things, and by him all things consist.

And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence” (Col 1:15-18).

The  following chapter is the last one of Amos so tomorrow we will look at…

Amos 9
The Destruction of the Sanctuary

THE GREAT WELL SPRING – the “Well of the Essenes” was the source of all life in Wadi Essiah (Essene Canyon). Flowing from an oven shaped opening in the southern Karmeliya (“Carmelite”) Ridge and thence flowing through covered rock channels to all other areas of the ancient Nazorean Monastery. Yeshua and his disciples would have drunk deeply from this pure flowing “Essene Well”, and would have drunk wine and eaten fresh garden produce produced from its healing waters.

1 I saw the Lord standing upon the altar: and he said, Smite the lintel of the door, that the posts may shake: and cut them in the head, all of them; and I will slay the last of them with the sword: he that fleeth of them shall not flee away, and he that escapeth of them shall not be delivered.

 2 Though they dig into hell, thence shall mine hand take them; though they climb up to heaven, thence will I bring them down:

9:2-4 – these verses emphasize the impossibility of escape from God’s impending judgment.  The imaginary extremes to which a person might go may be compared with those in Ps 139:7-12.  God’s domain includes every place, even the realm of the grave.

3 And though they hide themselves in the top of Carmel, I will search and take them out thence; and though they be hid from my sight in the bottom of the sea, thence will I command the serpent, and he shall bite them:

“Serpent” – in pagan mythology, the fierce monster of the sea.  If someone should seek to escape by hiding in the depths, he could still not evade God, or even there all are subject to Him.

4 And though they go into captivity before their enemies, thence will I command the sword, and it shall slay them: and I will set mine eyes upon them for evil, and not for good.

5 And the Lord GOD of hosts is he that toucheth the land, and it shall melt, and all that dwell therein shall mourn: and it shall rise up wholly like a flood; and shall be drowned, as by the flood of Egypt.

6 It is he that buildeth his stories in the heaven, and hath founded his troop in the earth; he that calleth for the waters of the sea, and poureth them out upon the face of the earth: The LORD is his name.

A double burial in Raqefet Cave on Israels Mount Carmel.

7 Are ye not as children of the Ethiopians unto me, O children of Israel? saith the LORD. Have not I brought up Israel out of the land of Egypt? and the Philistines from Caphtor, and the Syrians from Kir?

“Children of the Ethiopians” – a dark-skinned people who lived south of Egypt, probably in the upper Nile region.

8 Behold, the eyes of the Lord GOD are upon the sinful kingdom, and I will destroy it from off the face of the earth; saving that I will not utterly destroy the house of Jacob, saith the LORD.

9 For, lo, I will command, and I will sift the house of Israel among all nations, like as corn is sifted in a sieve, yet shall not the least grain fall upon the earth.

10 All the sinners of my people shall die by the sword, which say, The evil shall not overtake nor prevent us.

11 In that day will I raise up the tabernacle of David that is fallen, and close up the breaches thereof; and I will raise up his ruins, and I will build it as in the days of old:

The verse is also regarded as Messianic in the Jewish Talmud.

This sketch is from ancient Egypt during the time of Ramesses II. It depicts Ethiopian prisoners chained to one another around their necks. The prisoner on the far left also has his elbows bound.

12 That they may possess the remnant of Edom, and of all the heathen, which are called by my name, saith the LORD that doeth this.

13 Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that the plowman shall overtake the reaper, and the treader of grapes him that soweth seed; and the mountains shall drop sweet wine, and all the hills shall melt.

9:13-15 – after all the forecasts of destruction, death and death, Amos’s final words picture a glorious Edenic prosperity, when the seasons will run together so that sowing and reaping are without interval, and there will be a continuous supply of fresh produce of the conditions portrayed in 4:6-11.

14 And I will bring again the captivity of my people of Israel, and they shall build the waste cities, and inhabit them; and they shall plant vineyards, and drink the wine thereof; they shall also make gardens, and eat the fruit of them.

15 And I will plant them upon their land, and they shall no more be pulled up out of their land which I have given them, saith the LORD thy God.

Ancient Man’s Cults, Sects, and Religions:
Jainism

This is a religion of ancient origins that has elements of both Hinduism and Buddhism.

HISTORY

From the Sanskrit word jina, meaning “he who conquers,” Jainism has a relatively long history. The founder was Vardhamana Mahavira (599-527 B.C.) in Kundalapur, India. In a life similar to that of Gautama Buddha, he renounced the ways of the world and set out to discover true enlightenment.

Vardhamana Mahavira

Unlike the Buddha, however, Mahavira limited himself to a life of asceticism. In Buddhist tradition, suffering must be conquered by eliminating it.

In Jainist thought, Mahavira was one of 24 jinas, or tirthankara—that is to say, those who have gained perfect knowledge and have overcome all suffering.

The Hindu aspect to Jainism lies in its more religious dimension, namely, that all knowledge leads to the elimination of all karma.

After the death of Mahavira, a following developed around his teachings. In the 3rd century, also similar to Buddhism, the group split into two distinct sects— the Stanakvasis and the Terapanthis.

While the former is more a movement of the priestly caste, the latter is the relatively modern movement and is more liberal in that it is open to the laity. Jainism in general as well as both major sects exist largely in India today. In the early 20th century there was a reformer of the movement whose name was Kanji Svami Panth.

Organization

Most Jain centers and temples are in India, though there are centers throughout the world. World gatherings are held for participants worldwide. Each center is independently run and operated.

Kundalgiri Jain Temples at Kundalpur, near Damoh, Madhya Pradesh.

Membership

There are estimated to be four to six million adherents to Jainism worldwide, with the majority living in India. There are, however, at least 75,000 practicing Jainists in America and adherents in Europe, particularly England. In Canada and the United States there are 55 Jainist centers.

Teachings

Jainism follows the pattern of the Eastern religions and teaches a cyclical view of history. The soul is eternal and is on a wheel of rebirth, the goal of which is to obtain moksha (liberation through knowledge or enlightenment). The liberation process comes through the concept of ahimsa (absence of harm to living creatures).

Karma

Like Hinduism, Jainism teaches that karma is the universal law of retributive justice. There is a twist, however. The soul collects karma tangibly. The amassing of good karma results in the ability of souls (plural) to attain enlightenment.

Asikayas

In Jainist thought, five asikayas summarize all there is in the known universe: jiva (soul), dha (motion), adharma (rest), pugdala (atoms), and askasha (space).

Figure of Gautaam Buddha

Cosmology

The Jainist conception of the world is tripartite, namely, heaven, earth, and hell. As in the case of Hinduism, the highest levels are occupied by the most enlightened, the tirthankams. The level to which a soul is assigned depends on the amount of enlightenment attained.

Sin

Sin is ignorance and the lack of an ascetic life.

Salvation

Salvation, called moksha or “liberation,” depends on the willingness to live an ascetic life. The complete ascetic achieves complete knowledge (salvation).

Time

There are six ascending and six descending periods of time. The six ascending eras are characterized by complete happiness and bliss; the six descending periods are periods of suffering, misery, and unhappiness.

Jainists believe that the earth is currently in the fifth the descending eras. But these eras can overlap each other and exist at one and the same time as an admixture to life and a balance. Too much bliss and happiness will result in complacency and the postponing of smoksha; a life filled with too much misery will result in a despairing attitude.

Bahubali monolith of Shravanabelagola

Much of the response of traditional Christianity to Jainism can be read in the book’s evaluations of Hinduism and Buddhism. Most important to reiterate here is that the soul, for Christianity, does indeed have a beginning, originating at birth.

Jainism, like Hinduism understands that salvation lies in a gnostic quest for inner enlightenment and self-knowledge. For Christianity, salvation is based on faith and trust, and if there is any knowledge at issue, it is the knowledge of sin, for which Jesus Christ atoned in his death on the cross (Rom. 3:21-24; 1 Cor. 2:2).

Conclusion

Jainists are among the wealthiest of India’s citizenry, largely because they tend to pursue business careers and shy away from agricultural and vocational professions.  But since they believe in an ascetic lifestyle, there is a strong tendency away from crass materialism.

….Obadiah.

Hosea 9 – Israel’s Punishment & Ancient Man’s Cults, Sects, and Religions: Zoroastrianism

I gotta say that Zarathustra had the right idea, he got the wrong God because You are the only God there is.

“Remember the former things of old: for I am God, and there is none ele; I am God and there is none like me.

Memphis, a Greek word derived from the Egyptian Menofre, was the capital of the Old Kingdom and continued to enjoy considerable importance through¬out Pharaonic times.
During the New Kingdom period, the Pharaohs, particularly Ramses II, invested great efforts in increasing its splendour.

The Greek historian Herodotus visited Memphis in the 5th century BC, when it was one of the largest and most beautiful of Eastern cities, but it began to lose importance to Alexandria in the Ptolemaic era.

Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure” (Isa 46:9-10).

I would now like to look at…

Hosea 9
Israel’s Punishment

1 Rejoice not, O Israel, for joy, as other people: for thou hast gone a whoring from thy God, thou hast loved a reward upon every corn floor.

This verse begins a section that was probably spoken at a harvest festival, such as the feast of tabernacles.

“Reward” – not to be taken literally, but in the sense of spiritual adultery.

“Upon very corn floor” – since the threshing floor at threshing time was a man’s world – the threshers stayed there all night to protect the grain and feasted at the end of the day’s labors – prostitutes were not uncommon visitors.

2 The floor and the winepress shall not feed them, and the new wine shall fail in her.

3 They shall not dwell in the LORD’S land; but Ephraim shall return to Egypt, and they shall eat unclean things in Assyria.

“LORD’s land” – the Promised Land, which the Lord claimed as His own.

“Ephraim” – Israel, the northern kingdom.

“Egypt…Assyria” – Israel was threatened with exile to the lands it depended on – where the temple sacrifice could not be offered.

“Unclean” – a foreign country was ceremonially unclean.  What grew there was likewise unclean because it was the product of fertility credited to pagan gods.

Memphis Egypt is one of those endlessly magical, history-soaked tourist attractions that abound in this beautiful country.

The capital of the Ancient Kingdom of Egypt, which is located on history’s timeline around the 3000-2000 BC mark, Memphis is today a fascinating collection of scattered ruins and tranquil fields that hint to what stood upon them.

4 They shall not offer wine offerings to the LORD, neither shall they be pleasing unto him: their sacrifices shall be unto them as the bread of mourners; all that eat thereof shall be polluted: for their bread for their soul shall not come into the house of the LORD.

“As the bread of mourners” – unclean, like bread in a house where there had been a death.  All who touched it became ceremonially unclean.

“Not come in the house of the LORD” – in exile Israel would have no place (not even those places established by Jeroboam I where she could bring sacrifices to the Lord or celebrate her religious festivals.

5 What will ye do in the solemn day, and in the day of the feast of the LORD?

6 For, lo, they are gone because of destruction: Egypt shall gather them up, Memphis shall bury them: the pleasant places for their silver, nettles shall possess them: thorns shall be in their tabernacles.

“Memphis” – the capital of Lower (northern) Egypt.

7 The days of visitation are come, the days of recompense are come; Israel shall know it: the prophet is a fool, the spiritual man is mad, for the multitude of thine iniquity, and the great hatred.

8 The watchman of Ephraim was with my God: but the prophet is a snare of a fowler in all his ways, and hatred in the house of his God.

“Snare…hatred” – Israel showed only hostility toward the watchmen (the true prophets) whom God sent to warn His people of the great dangers that threatened.

9 They have deeply corrupted themselves, as in the days of Gibeah: therefore he will remember their iniquity, he will visit their sins.

“Corrupted themselves” – the word used of the Israelites who worshipped the golden calf (Ex 32:7).

“Days of Gibeah” – a reference to the corrupt events of Jud 19-21.

“He will remember” – sins unrepented of are remembered, as well as the accumulated sins of generations.

Gibeah of Saul, where absolutes were ignored in Judges 19. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)
A Land without Absolute Truth Today

As God’s people today, we also live in a land that sneers at absolute truth. These days, the only standard not tolerated is intolerance.

In such a context, the striking distinction we should display should come not from thumping our Bibles but from living holy lives that reflect a holy God (Matthew 5:16; Philippians 2:15; 1 Peter 2:12).

10 I found Israel like grapes in the wilderness; I saw your fathers as the first ripe in the fig tree at her first time: but they went to Baal-peor, and separated themselves unto that shame; and their abominations were according as they loved.

The covenant relation is traced back to the wilderness.

“Grapes…fig” – refreshing delicacies.  The images used here (grapes in the wilderness, early fruit of the fig tree) beautifully convey God’s delight in Israel when she, out of all the nations, committed herself to Him in covenant at Sinai.

“Baal-peor” – a shortened form of Beth-baal-peor.  Peor was a mountain.  Baal-peor refers to the god of Peor and was used interchangeably with Beth-peor, “the temple of Peor.”  Hosea refers here to the incident in Num 25.

11 As for Ephraim, their glory shall fly away like a bird, from the birth, and from the womb, and from the conception.

“Ephraim, their glory” – their large population and prosperity.  The punishment fit the sin.  Prostitution produces no increase.

12 Though they bring up their children, yet will I bereave them, that there shall not be a man left: yea, woe also to them when I depart from them!

13 Ephraim, as I saw Tyrus, is planted in a pleasant place: but Ephraim shall bring forth his children to the murderer.

“Tyrus” – Tyre, noted for its wealth, pleasant environment and security.

14 Give them, O LORD: what wilt thou give? give them a miscarrying womb and dry breasts.

Hosea did not pray out of hateful vengeance against Israel, but because he shared God’s holy wrath against her sins.

Unfinished Royal Palace of King Hussein of Jordan on “Gibeah of Saul”.

15 All their wickedness is in Gilgal: for there I hated them: for the wickedness of their doings I will drive them out of mine house, I will love them no more: all their princes are revolters.

“Drive them out of my house” – as the unfaithful wife was driven from the husband’s house, so Israel was driven from God’s “house” – i.e., His land.

16 Ephraim is smitten, their root is dried up, they shall bear no fruit: yea, though they bring forth, yet will I slay even the beloved fruit of their womb.

17 My God will cast them away, because they did not hearken unto him: and they shall be wanderers among the nations.

“My God” – Hosea’s words alone, for God was no longer Israel’s God.

Ancient Man’s Cults, Sects, and Religions:
Zoroastrianism

Zoroastrianism is the ancient, pre-Islamic religion of Persia (modern Iran). It survives there in isolated areas but more prosperously in India, where the descendants of Zoroastrian Persian immigrants are known as Parsis, or Parsees. In India the religion is called Parsiism.

In Zoroastrianism, the creator Ahura Mazda is all good, and no evil originates from him.
Thus, in Zoroastrianism good and evil have distinct sources, with evil (druj) trying to destroy the creation of Mazda (asha), and good trying to sustain it.

While Ahura Mazda is not immanent in the world, his creation is represented by the Amesha Spentas and the host of other Yazatas, through whom the works of God are evident to humanity, and through whom worship of Mazda is ultimately directed.

Founded by the Iranian prophet and reformer Zoroaster in the 6th century B.C., Zoroastrianism contains both monotheistic and dualistic features. Its concepts of one God, judgment, heaven and hell likely influenced the major Western religions of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.

Fast Facts

Date founded: c.6th century B.C.

Place founded: Ancient Persia

Founder: Zarathustra (Zoroaster)

Followers: 150,000-200,000

History

Zarathustra (in Greek, Zoroaster) was a Persian prophet who at the age of 30 believed he had seen visions of God, whom he called Ahura Mazda, the creator of all that is good and who alone is worthy of worship.

This was a departure from previous Indo-Persian polytheism, and Zarathustra has been termed the first non-biblical monotheist. There is disagreement among scholars as to exactly when and where Zarathustra lived, but most agree that he lived in eastern Iran around the6th century B.C.

Zoroastrianism became the official religion of the Persian Empire, but it virtually disappeared in Persia after the Muslim invasion of 637 A.D. Only about 10,000 survived in remote villages in Iran, but over the centuries many sought religious freedom in India.

Zoroaster (left) standing over the First Judicial Department of The New York Supreme Court.

Texts

The Zoroastrian sacred text is the Avesta (“Book of the Law”), a fragmentary collection of sacred writings. Compiled over many centuries, the Avesta was not completed until Persia’s Sassanid Dynasty (226-641 A.D.).

It consists of: liturgical works with hymns ascribed to Zarathustra (the Gathas); invocations and rituals to be used at festivals; hymns of praise; and spells against demons and prescriptions for purification.

Beliefs

The Zoroastrian concept of God incorporates both monotheism and dualism. In his visions, Zarathustra was taken up to heaven, where Ahura Mazda revealed that he had an opponent, Aura Mainyu, the spirit and promoter of evil.

There is only one true God and He created all things, including evil:

“All things were made by him; and without him was not anything made that was made” (Jn1:3).

“I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the LORD do all these things” (Isa 45:7).

Ahura Mazda charged Zarathustra with the task of inviting all human beings to choose between him (good) and Aura Mainyu (evil).

One imagines the Avesta looking something like the Hebrew Torah, heavy, ornamented parchment scrolls filled with column after column of fine calligraphy and fixed on rollers so the text unrolls either left to right or right to left.

Just as Torah simply means ‘the law’ in Hebrew, âbâsta is the Parthian word for ‘the law’, which suggests that the main parts of the Avesta were put together during the Parthian era.

Zoroaster taught that man must enlist in this cosmic struggle because of his capacity of free choice. Thus Zoroastrianism is a highly ethical religion in which the choice of good over evil has almost cosmic importance.

Zarathustra taught that humans are free to choose between right and wrong, truth and lie, and light and dark, and that their choices would affect their eternity destiny.

The above is correct and if you choose to be evil and not walk with Jesus Christ then you will spend eternity in hell.

Blessed are they that do his commandment that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city.

For without are dogs, and sorcerers, and whoremongers, and murderers, and idolaters, and whosoever loveth and maketh a lie (Rev 22:14-15).

And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire.  This is the second death.

And whoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire (Rev 20:15).

The Zoroastrian afterlife is determined by the balance of the good and evil deeds, words, and thoughts of the whole life.

This is what the Catholics preach, they threaten people with Purgatory,  and Pope Francis even says that if you will follow him on Twitter you will do less time there.

We do not spend eternity in heaven or hell due to what we do:

“For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:

“Not of works, lest any man should boast” (Eph 2:8-9).

We decide our fate by our faith in Jesus Christ:

“Jesus said unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father , but by me” (Jn 14:6).

“But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him” (Heb 11:6).

For those whose good deeds outweigh the bad, heaven awaits. Those who did more evil than good go to hell (which has several levels corresponding to degrees of wickedness). There is an intermediate stage for those whose deeds weight out equally.

The above statement is correct.  Hell is just like breaking the law.  A murderer will be punished much harsher than a thief.

The Behistun Inscription (also Bistun or Bisutun, Modern Persian and Kurdish meaning “the place of god”) is a multi-lingual inscription located on Mount Behistun in the Kermanshah Province of Iran, near the city of Kermanshah in western Iran.

“And that servant which knew his lord’s will and prepared not himself, neither did according to his will shall be beaten with many stripes.

But he that knew not and did commit things worthy of stripes shall be beaten with few stripes.  For unto whomsoever much is given of him shall be much required: and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more” (Lk 12:47-48).

So a non-believer’s punishment in hell will not be as harsh as those that use God for their benefit, like the Catholics for example.  As Jesus said:

“Not everyone that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.

Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name?  and in thy name have cast out devils?  And in thy name done many wonderful works?

And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity” (Matt 7:21-23).

Everyone that goes to hell will burn for eternity, but I guess the temperatures will not all be the same.

Investiture of Sassanid emperor Shapur II (center) with Mithra (left) and Ahura Mazda (right) at Taq-e Bostan, Iran.

“And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal” (Matt 25:46).

“…to go into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched” (Mk 9:43).

“And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up forever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night…” (Rev 14:11).

According to Zoroastrianism  this general principle is not absolute, however, but allows for human weakness. All faults do not have to be registered or weighed forever on the scales. There are two means of effacing them: confession and the transfer of supererogatory merits (similar to the Roman Catholic “Treasury of Merits”).

Zoroaster invoked saviors who, like the dawns of new days, would come to the world. He hoped himself to be one of them. After his death, the belief in coming saviors developed. He also incorporated belief in angels and demons.

Zoroaster’s ideas of ethical monotheism, heaven, hell, angelology, the resurrection of the body, and the messiah figure were influential on Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, though to what extent is not known for certain.

Practices

Today’s Zoroastrians (Parsis) practice an important coming of age ritual, in which all young Parsis must be initiated when they reach the age of seven (in India) or 10 (in Persia). They receive the shirt (sadre) and the girdle (kusti), which they are to wear their whole life.

Zoroastrian Temple of Yazd, Iran.

There are three types of purification, in order of increasing importance:

1. padyab, or ablution

2. nahn, or bath

3. bareshnum, a complicated ritual performed at special places with the participation of a dog (whose left ear is touched by the candidate and whose gaze puts the evil spirits to flight) and lasting several days.

The Zoroastrian system of penance entails reciting the patet, the firm resolve not to sin again, and the confession of sins to a dastur or to an ordinary priest if a dastur is not obtainable.

The chief ceremony, the Yasna, essentially a sacrifice of haoma (the sacred liquor), is celebrated before the sacred fire with recitation of large parts of the Avesta. There also are offerings of bread and milk and, formerly, of meat or animal fat.

The sacred fire must be kept burning continually and has to be fed at least five times a day. Prayers also are recited five times a day. The founding of a new fire involves a very elaborate ceremony. There are also rites for purification and for regeneration of a fire.

Zoroastrian burial rites center on exposure of the dead. After death, a dog is brought before the corpse (preferably a “four-eyed” dog, i.e., with a spot above each eye, believed to increase the efficacy of its gaze).

The Tower of Silence.
Indian officials investigating several missing persons reports from a nearby city.
What they found was a “Tower of Silence,” or dakhma.

Zoroastrians use these sites to dispose of bodies in the open air!

While sites like these are not uncommon in certain parts of India, several peculiarities hint at something more unusual…

None of the bodies depicted in the photograph were identified. Villagers from nearby, though initially surprised at the sheer number of corpses in the dakhma, proved unable to recognize the bodies. The corpses also do not match the descriptions of the missing people.

The rite is repeated five times a day. After the first one, fire is brought into the room where it is kept burning until three days after the removal of the corpse to the Tower of Silence. The removal must be done during the daytime.

The interior of the Tower of Silence is built in three concentric circles, one each for men, women, and children. The corpses are exposed there naked. The vultures do not take long—an hour or two at the most—to strip the flesh off the bones, and these, dried by the sun, are later swept into the central well.

Formerly the bones were kept in an ossuary, the astodan, to preserve them from rain and animals. The morning of the fourth day is marked by the most solemn observance in the death ritual, for it is then that the departed soul reaches the next world and appears before the deities who are to pass judgment over it.

Festivals, in which worship is an essential part, are characteristic aspects of Zoroastrianism, a faith that enjoins on man the pleasant duty of being happy. The principal festivals in the Parsi year are the six seasonal festivals, Gahanbars, and the days in memory of the dead at year’s end.

Also, each day of the month and each of the 12 months of the year is dedicated to a deity. The day named after the month is the great feast day of that particular deity.

The New Year festival, Noruz, is the most joyous and beautiful of Zoroastrian feasts, a spring festival in honor of Rapithwin, the personification of noonday and summer. The festival to Mithra, or Mehragan, was traditionally an autumn one, as honored as the spring feast of Noruz. 

…the kingdoms of Egypt.

Hosea 3 – Israel Will Return to God & Ancient Man’s Cults, Sects, and Religions: Confucianism (4 of 8)

Confucianism is on the right track, they have Jesus’ second most important commandment correct:

“And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. 

On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets” (Matt 12:39-40).

The problem with Confucianism, just like any other religion/belief, is it leaves out Jesus’ first commandment and without obeying it then whatever you do is moot.

“Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love thy Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.

This is the first and great commandment” (Matt 12:37-38).

If you don’t have Jesus in your heart you have nothing:

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman.

I am the fine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth fruit: for without me ye can do nothing” (Jn 15:1, 5).

We have looked at eight lost cities of the Near East, so how about if we look at…

Hosea 3
Israel Will Return to God

Gastris – Ancient Greek Nut Cake with Poppy and Sesame Seeds from late 2nd century to early 3rd century A.D.

1 Then said the LORD unto me, Go yet, love a woman beloved of her friend, yet an adulteress, according to the love of the LORD toward the children of Israel, who look to other gods, and love flagons of wine.

“Go…love a woman” – Hosea’s love for unfaithful Gomer illustrates God’s love for unfaithful Israel.  God’s love for Israel is the basic theme of the book.

“Flagons of wine” – possibly “raisin cakes” offered to Baal in thanksgiving for harvest.

2 So I bought her to me for fifteen pieces of silver, and for an homer of barley, and an half homer of barley:

Gomer had evidently become a slave and Hosea bought her back.

“Fifteen pieces of silver” – half the usual price of a slave (Ex 21:7, 32) or of the redemption value of a woman’s vow (Lev 27:4).

“A homer…and half” – probably about 10 bushels.  Comparison with prices in 2 Kgs 7:1, 16, 18 suggests that half was paid in money (silver) and half in produce (barley) for a total value of 30 shekels.

3 And I said unto her, Thou shalt abide for me many days; thou shalt not play the harlot, and thou shalt not be for another man: so will I also be for thee.

“Many days” – not forever.  There would be an “afterward,” a future.

4 For the children of Israel shall abide many days without a king, and without a prince, and without a sacrifice, and without an image, and without an ephod, and without teraphim:

5 Afterward shall the children of Israel return, and seek the LORD their God, and David their king; and shall fear the LORD and his goodness in the latter days.

Ancient Man’s Cults, Sects, and Religions:
Confucianism

Much like Buddhism and Shintoism, Confucianism  began as a this-worldly philosophy rather than a transcendent religion.  The concerns of its founder, K’ung Fu Tzu, were to address the moral laxity of the culture of his day and  to inquire into ethical and moral behavior of individuals. 

Statue of Confucius at a temple dedicated to him in Beijing.

Confucianism is often associated with wise sayings or analects written and spoken by its founder.

History

K’ung Fu Tzu (Confucius) was born approximately 551 B.C. in Lu, the modern-day Shantung province of China.  The moral slackness of the society in which he lived disturbed him greatly. He gathered students and taught them about the moral and ethical life.

He was concerned, as Plato and Aristotle were later, about the welfare of the citizenry of the state and how rulers may govern justly. In his later life, Confucius traveled much throughout’ China and spoke and taught before rulers.

His students grew in number as he traveled more and more. He returned back to his home province of Lu in the last years of his life and taught and wrote right up to the time of his death in (ca. 479 B.C.).

Confucius’ writings include five major works – Ching: Book of History, Book of Songs, Book of Changes, Spring and Autumn Annals, and Book of Rites.

The many gods of Shinto.
Shinto has no known founder or single sacred scripture. Shinto is wholly devoted to life in this world and emphasises man’s essential goodness.

Taoism and Buddhism exerted much influence on the development of Confucianism, especially between 400 B.C. and 200 B.C. While Confucius had gained some followers during his lifetime, he remained relatively unknown by many outside his own teaching circles.

However, in approximately 212 B.C., the writings of Confucius, which had been hidden by disciples, managed to escape a mass book burning ordered by Shi Huang Ti. A short time after this, those writings were copied and disseminated widely.

State worship of Confucius began in the Han Dynasty in approximately 200 B.C. and lasted until as recently as 1912. Confucianism spread to other countries in the 6th century A.D. and following, including Japan and Korea.

The Communist Revolution in 1949 found cooperative advocacy amongst the adherents of Confucianism. For Confucius, loyalty to the state is a basic duty of the citizenry.

This, of course, was a fundamental precept of communist doctrine, and it made for a unique form of socialism that developed quite differently in China from that in the former USSR and other countries influenced by Marxism.

In Russia, for example, having been a Christian country since 987 A.D., loyalty to the state could only come when loyalty to God and his kingdom was not compromised. However, the religious aspects of Confucianism in communist China were dismissed outright.

Today, some six million people identify themselves as followers of Confucius. These are mostly in China.

Beliefs and Teachings

As stated above, much of Confucius’ writings deal with morality and ethics, including the ways in which the state should function to govern justly in society. Confucianism was heavily influenced by both Taoism and Buddhism.

Shih Huang Ti (or Qin Shi Huang Ti) was heir to the throne of Chin, a powerful feudal state in northwest China.

On his accession he set about uniting China, annexing the other feudal states with ruthless efficiency, aided by espionage, bribery, and war. He proclaimed himself emperor in 221 BC, founding the Chin dynasty from which China derives its name.

The Taoist teachings concerning the harmony of nature and the individual, along with the Buddhist development of beliefs about the afterlife, were both incorporated into Confucianism. The three religions have traditionally peacefully coexisted with one another in China.

From 200 B.C. to 900 A.D., Buddhism exerted its greatest influences on Confucianism, albeit through Taoist categories. Worship of the emperor, referred to as the Son of Heaven, was now popular. This was combined with a worship of heaven and earth, especially during key times of the year.

Eventually, many different gods and spirits were added to the pantheon of deities. Spirits of famous individuals throughout history, ancestors, deities of harvest, com, wind, the sun, moon, and stars, and so on were worshiped.

Christianity strictly forbids the worship of any object or person except for the one true God:

“Thou shalt have no other gods before me” (Ex. 20:3).

Confucius’ teachings revolved around the three great virtues of love, wisdom, and courage. These are sometimes referred to as his “universal virtues.” The highly ethical nature of his thought and teachings revolved around:

The Analects of Confucius.

li – beliefs concerning social etiquette, rituals, and personal property;

hsaiothe mutual love and respect owed to all members of a family;

yi – justice and believing and doing what is right;

xin – faithfulness and trustworthiness;

jen – the highest virtue, that is, the showing of kindness and goodness toward all living things;

chung – loyalty to the government. 

Other world religions also strive toward these lofty goals, but they too leave God out of the picture:

Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonor their own bodies between themselves.

Who changed the truth of God into a lie and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed forever.  Amen. (Rom. 1:25).

Christianity certainly elevates all of these virtues as  true, good, and noble. Beliefs about family  property, love and  mutual respect for family and all concerns for social justice, faithfulness, stewardship for all living things in creation, and honoring the government have been the consistent and ongoing teachings of Christianity.

Confucius Monument in Rizal Park, Manila, Philippines.

But the world is changing in these aspects, especially in the United States.

But Confucius, as already stated, did not understand his teachings to be religious or transcendent in nature.  Rather, he sought to proffer them as guidelines for daily living both as individuals, and at the same time as individuals living in the context of the state.

Examples of guidelines for ethical and moral living are replete in all world religions. Every state and  accompanying government and/or religion has laws that, when breached, must be judged and punished.

Christianity affirms this:

Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers.  For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained by God.

Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation.

For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil.  Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power?  Do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same (Rom 13:1-3).

But for the latter, there is a higher power and a higher law that must be answered to, namely, the law of God. The violation of God’s moral law is sin. Moreover, Christianity addresses what should ensue when ethical and moral guidelines are not followed.

At the same time, Christianity addresses how immorality and all forms of sinful and unethical behaviors are atoned for in Christ:

Xin Xi Lu (New Western Street) in Linxia City, west of downtown.

This is probably the heart of the old Muslim neighborhood, where the Hui people had to reside after they were prohibited to live within the city wall in 1873. There are 4 large mosques – Lao Hua, Xin Hua, Tie Jia, and Qianheyan – in that street.

But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets;

Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference:

For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God;

Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus (Rom. 3:21-24).

As all religions honor rites of passage in life, Confucianism honors four key life passages:

1. Birth – There are strict laws accompanying any threats to the health or well-being of the expecting mother.

2. Reaching adulthood and maturity – This one is now being essentially ignored by most followers of Confucius.

3. Marriage – Performed in six different stages: proposal, engagement, dowry, procession, marriage and reception, and the morning after.

4. Death – Belongings of the deceased are placed into the coffin (including food), family members mourn aloud, and rituals are performed by Taoist and/or Buddhist priests.

There are six different schools of Confucianism.  These largely regard interpretation: Han Confucianism, Neo-Confucianism, Contemporary Neo-Confucianism, Korean Confucianism, Japanese Confucianism, and Singapore Confucianism.

Tomb of Confucius in Kong Lin cemetery, Qufu, Shandong Province.

Conclusion

Today, Confucianism as a religion in China is waning in the rural villages, however, do continue to hold fast to Confucius’ teachings. Modernization has raised questions concerning traditional teachings about family, ancestry, paternalism, and cooperative loyalty.

Modernism and westernization has introduced into the thinking of many modem Confucian thinkers the possibility of a new and reconstructed modern of China’s ancient philosophy and religion. 

…some of the great ancient empires.

 

Ezekiel 48 – The Division of the Land & Ancient Man’s Cults, Sects, and Religions:Hinduism

It is said that “Love conquers all.”  Jesus proved that to be true.

I can’t even imagine how hard life must of been for Jesus, not only because he was the only person that didn’t sin, but also with all those different Hindu deities, let alone all those false gods like Baal, Asherah and the rest. 

How He must have felt since He came down as Your son for the purpose of saving the world; letting everyone know of You, the only true God.

Since Jesus was a person just like us, He had the same feelings and emotions.  He wasn’t doing a great job of convincing people of the truth, well He was, but people are ignorant.  

I try and imagine how He must have felt?  Because even though He is who He is, while He was here He was one of us and probably felt like a failure, that He had let You down.

Aside from that, He was not looking forward to being crucified, who in their right mind would?  Jesus even told You He didn’t want to do it, but He did it.  He did it for You and mainly for us:

“And he was withdrawn from them about a stone’s cast, and kneeled down and prayed,

Saying, Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done.

And there appeared an angel unto him from heaven, strengthening him.

And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly: and his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground” (Lk 24:41-44).

I think most people that are into Hinduism, Buddhism, or whatever are involved with that cult there is no threat.  You are the only one that threatens to destroy us if we don’t walk with You.

Therefore, I think they have this idea that if they don’t believe in You then You can’t hurt them.  It’s kind of like when we were kids, if we couldn’t see something we didn’t believe it was there.

I know You are there and I thank You daily for all that You do, but I mostly thank You for forgiving my sins.  And I know my friend Curt does too because he was a horrible person until You answered the phone when he called.

This is the last chapter of Ezekiel so…

Ezekiel 48
The Division of the Land

1 Now these are the names of the tribes. From the north end to the coast of the way of Hethlon, as one goeth to Hamath, Hazar-enan, the border of Damascus northward, to the coast of Hamath; for these are his sides east and west; a portion for Dan.

Krishna displays his Vishvarupa (Universal Form) to Arjuna on the battlefield of Kurukshetra.

“Dan” – occupies its historical location as the northernmost tribe.  Dan was born to Rachel’s maidservant Bilhaha (Gen 35:25).

2 And by the border of Dan, from the east side unto the west side, a portion for Asher.

“Asher” – born to Leah’s maidservant Zilpah (Gen 35:26).  The tribes descended from maidservants were placed farthest from the sanctuary.

3 And by the border of Asher, from the east side even unto the west side, a portion for Naphtali.

“Naphtali” – born to Rachel’s maidservant Bilhah.

4 And by the border of Naphtali, from the east side unto the west side, a portion for Manasseh.

“Manasseh” – see note on 47:13.

5 And by the border of Manasseh, from the east side unto the west side, a portion for Ephraim.

“Ephraim” – see note on 47:13.

6 And by the border of Ephraim, from the east side even unto the west side, a portion for Reuben.

Detail of the Phra Prang, the central tower of the Wat Arun (“Temple of Dawn”) in Bangkok, Thailand – showing Indra on his three-headed elephant Erawan (Airavata)

“Reuben” – Leah’s firstborn (Gen 29:31).

7 And by the border of Reuben, from he east side unto the west side, a portion for Judah.

“Judah” – son of Leah (Gen 35:23) he had the most prestigious place, bordering the central holy portion, because his robe was given the Messianic promise (Gen 49:8-12).

8 And by the border of Judah, from the east side unto the west side, shall be the offering which ye shall offer of five and twenty thousand reeds in breadth, and in length as one of the other parts, from the east side unto the west side: and the sanctuary shall be in the midst of it.

9 The oblation that ye shall offer unto the LORD shall be of five and twenty thousand in length, and of ten thousand in breadth.

10 And for them, even for the priests, shall be this holy oblation; toward the north five and twenty thousand in length, and toward the west ten thousand in breadth, and toward the east ten thousand in breadth, and toward the south five and twenty thousand in length: and the sanctuary of the LORD shall be in the midst thereof.

11 It shall be for the priests that are sanctified of the sons of Zadok; which have kept my charge, which went not astray when the children of Israel went astray, as the Levites went astray.

12 And this oblation of the land that is offered shall be unto them a thing most holy by the border of the Levites.

13 And over against the border of the priests the Levites shall have five and twenty thousand in length, and ten thousand in breadth: all the length shall be five and twenty thousand, and the breadth ten thousand.

14 And they shall not sell of it, neither exchange, nor alienate the first fruits of the land: for it is holy unto the LORD.

Krishna, the eighth incarnation (avatar) of Vishnu or Svayam bhagavan, worshiped across a number of traditions

15 And the five thousand, that are left in the breadth over against the five and twenty thousand, shall be a profane place for the city, for dwelling, and for suburbs: and the city shall be in the midst thereof.

16 And these shall be the measures thereof; the north side four thousand and five hundred, and the south side four thousand and five hundred, and on the east side four thousand and five hundred, and the west side four thousand and five hundred.

17 And the suburbs of the city shall be toward the north two hundred and fifty, and toward the south two hundred and fifty, and toward the east two hundred and fifty, and toward the west two hundred and fifty.

18 And the residue in length over against the oblation of the holy portion shall be ten thousand eastward, and ten thousand westward: and it shall be over against the oblation of the holy portion; and the increase thereof shall be for food unto them that serve the city.

19 And they that serve the city shall serve it out of all the tribes of Israel.

20 All the oblation shall be five and twenty thousand by five and twenty thousand: ye shall offer the holy oblation foursquare, with the possession of the city.

21 And the residue shall be for the prince, on the one side and on the other of the holy oblation, and of the possession of the city, over against the five and twenty thousand of the oblation toward the east border, and westward over against the five and twenty thousand toward the west border, over against the portions for the prince: and it shall be the holy oblation; and the sanctuary of the house shall be in the midst thereof.

A statue of Shiva in yogic meditation.

22 Moreover from the possession of the Levites, and from the possession of the city, being in the midst of that which is the prince’s, between the border of Judah and the border of Benjamin, shall be for the prince.

23 As for the rest of the tribes, from the east side unto the west side, Benjamin shall have a portion.

“Benjamin” – Rachel’s son (Gen 35:24).

24 And by the border of Benjamin, from the east side unto the west side, Simeon shall have a portion.

“Simeon” – Leah’s son (Gen 35:23).

25 And by the border of Simeon, from the east side unto the west side, Issachar a portion.

“Issachar” – Leah’s son (Gen 35:23).

26 And by the border of Issachar, from the east side unto the west side, Zebulun a portion.

The sacred Tulsi.

“Zebulun” – Leah’s son (Gen 35:23).

27 And by the border of Zebulun, from the east side unto the west side, Gad a portion.

“Gad” – son of Ziplah, Leah’s maid.

28 And by the border of Gad, at the south side southward, the border shall be even from Tamar unto the waters of strife in Kadesh, and to the river toward the great sea.

Gad was a son of Zilpah, a handmaiden of Jacob’s wife, Leah. In the Torah, Leah presents Zilpah to Jacob so that he may have more children, and then she raises those children as her own

29 This is the land which ye shall divide by lot unto the tribes of Israel for inheritance, and these are their portions, saith the Lord GOD.

30 And these are the goings out of the city on the north side, four thousand and five hundred measures.

31 And the gates of the city shall be after the names of the tribes of Israel: three gates northward; one gate of Reuben, one gate of Judah, one gate of Levi.

“Reuben…Judah…Levi” – the three most influential tribes – Reuben, the firstborn; Judah, the Messianic tribe; Levi, the tribe of the priesthood – had gates together on the north side.  Since Levi was included in this list, Joseph represented Ephraim and Manasseh if order to keep the number at 12.  For the gates cf. Rev 21:12-14.

32 And at the east side four thousand and five hundred: and three gates; and one gate of Joseph, one gate of Benjamin, one gate of Dan.

33 And at the south side four thousand and five hundred measures: and three gates; one gate of Simeon, one gate of Issachar, one gate of Zebulun.

34 At the west side four thousand and five hundred, with their three gates; one gate of Gad, one gate of Asher, one gate of Naphtali.

35 It was round about eighteen thousand measures: and the name of the city from that day shall be, The LORD is there.

Ancient Man’s Cults, Sects, and Religions:
Hinduism

Among the oldest religions of the world, Hinduism provides an important theological background for many cults and sects that have arisen in the West in the recent past.  These include the Vedanta Society, Iskcon, Transcendental Meditation, the New Age Movement, individual personality cults like Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh, and so on.

Mangal Mahadev, 108 feet statue of Lord Shiva at Ganga Talao, Mauritius

History

Philosophically and foundationally, the essence of Hinduism is that all reality is one and that all of the diversity in the cosmos is ultimately reduced to a monism.

Hinduism in present-day India and the diaspora is traced back to three influences. The first is the Indo- European, dating from c. 1500 B.C.-500 B.C. These Aryan peoples, coming from the steppes of Russia and Central Asia, swept the Indian peninsula, bringing with them their religion known as Vedism.

The second influence came from neighboring Iranian tribes, whose native languages were mingled with the Sanskrit language of the Aryan invaders.

The third influence came from the religious ideas endemic to India itself.

Hindu history is generally divided into four periods. A pre-Vedic period dating back as far as 3000 B.C.- 1500 B.C. featured animism, practiced by the natives of the Indus Valley. Here, the Harappa culture developed the cult of the goddess and the bull.

The greatest contribution of this period is the many artifacts left behind that have enabled archaeologists to piece together its basic history.

The second period, the Vedic, was marked, as already stated, by the Aryan invasions. But unlike the pre-Vedic period, the Vedic did not produce a vast storehouse of material artifacts. Its greatest treasure was its literary contribution, the Rigveda.

Its 1,028 hymns were composed over several centuries. This period is the one in which the intense polytheism of Hinduism underwent its greatest development. Another important aspect of modem Hindu life, the caste system, emerged during this period.

The Swaminarayan Akshardham Temple in Delhi, according the Guinness World Records is the World’s Largest Comprehensive Hindu Temple

This system of classifying individuals into castes is vocational and related to skin color. The Rigveda speaks of five social castes:

(1) The brahmins—the priestly-scholarly caste;

(2) The ksha- triyas—the warrior-soldier caste;

(3) The vaishyas— the agricultural and merchant caste;

(4) The sudras— the peasant and servant caste;

(5) The hariyan—the outcasts or “untouchables.

Over time these castes underwent thousands of subdivisions. The top of the social scale remains the brahmins, while the very bottom is still the “untouchables.” Untouchables were regarded as less than human and were treated as such.

Even though Mahatma Gandhi succeeded in enacting social reform to outlaw “untouchability” in 1949, psychologically and spiritually it is still embraced in villages in India, especially in southern India.

The third period of Hindu history is called Upanishad period, which began around 700 B.C. Upanishad means literally “to sit at the feet of.” It was during this phase that Hinduism underwent its greatest transformation toward what it is today.

The “this-worldly” character of the Vedic period with its superhuman deities was transformed into an “other-worldly” orientation. Asceticism and the doctrine of reincarnation were developed in this period, as was the rise of the teacher/student or guru/disciple relationship on an intensely spiritual level.

Those released from the cycle of rebirth (moksha) instructed others in the disciplines necessary to undergo good karma in order to receive total enlightenment themselves.

The Upanishad period was a time of rebellion against the rituals of the Vedic era. Devotees willingly forsook the authority of the brahmins to follow a guru who could show the way out of rebirth (Isamsara).

Sacred Mount Kailash in Tibet is regarded as the spiritual abode of Lord Shiva.

Gautama Buddha is a prime example of a nonorthodox ascetic who could instruct one in the path of enlightenment. His path led to the major world religion of Buddhism. The third century B.C. saw the spread of Buddhism in India through the influence of the Mauryan ruler Asoka, who also maintained a favorable attitude toward Hinduism.

The fourth era of Hindu history began approximately in the 2nd century B.C. and went on through the 2nd century A.D. During this time, the Vedanic texts underwent a revival. The god, Brahma, rose to a place of hegemony over the lesser gods.

However, a more significant god, Lord Krishna, one of 10 incarnations of Vishnu, becomes the dominant deity of Hinduism. Also, the god Siva—the creator, preserver, and destroyer of the universe—became the third important deity referred to in Hindu lore at this time.

The Bhagavad Gita is one of the most popular of all Hindu texts. The poem is a prolonged discourse between the warrior Arjuna and his charioteer, Krishna. 

Arjuna decides not to kill his own kinsmen in battle, whereon Krishna proceeds to exhort him to forsake personal feelings and do what is right (dharma).  The overarching motif in the Bhagavad Gita is intense spiritual devotion, an idea most prevalent in Hinduism to this day.

Hinduism and its counterpart, Buddhism, went on to make a tremendous impact in Asia, while Christianity transformed the West. In the 4th through the 8th centuries A.D., a popularization of Hinduism took place in the writings known as the Puranas.

The Rigveda is one of the oldest religious texts. This Rigveda manuscript is in Devanagari

They comprise an anthology of Hindu literature, summarizing the three gods of the Hindu trinity, Brahma, Vishnu, and Siva, as well as all of the major ideas of the religion. The Puranas became the text of the common people.

The 1st centuries A.D. also saw the development of multiplicity of cults and sects exalting various deities, including Shakti, the mother goddess; Skanda, the son of Sava; Surya, the sun god; Lakshmi, goddess of fortune and consort of Vishnu; and hundreds of others.

The paradox of Hinduism was its ability to adapt itself to a mass polytheism while simultaneously advancing monotheistic tendencies.

Teachings

A brief examination of key facets of Hindu doctrine accompanied by comparisons to Christianity.

God

The heart of Hinduism lies in its conception of God, reality, and humankind’s relationship and affinity to that reality. Its fundamental conception is that Brahman is the all-encompassing principle of intimacy. It is a manifested in all creation, both animate and inanimate, as a lower vibration of the ultimate higher spirit Brahman.

Creation

Christianity teaches that God created the world ex nihilo (“out of nothing”).  An oft-repeated aphorism from the Sanskrit captures the contrast of Hinduism: navastuno vastusiddhih (“out of nothing nothing can come”). A helpful illustration of how the Hindu views God’s involvement in creation was provided by a Christian missionary to India, S. H. Kellogg.

If I go into a dark room and see a rope which I mistake for a snake, the rope is the cause of the appearance of that snake; even so, when I see the world, which seems to everyone to be other than God, yet is really That One, I must say that God is the cause of what appears to me to be a world.

Karma, Reincarnation, and Salvation

Temple carving at Hoysaleswara temple representing the Trimurti: Brahma, Shiva and Vishnu.

The central loci of Hindu thought are the doctrines of atman, Brahman, and karma. Karma is the law of retributive justice, whereby one’s actions and deeds result in release (moksha) from a previous birth to a higher or lower rebirth in the cycle of reincarnation, depending on deeds done in a previous existence.

The soul (atman) is caught up in this wandering process (samsara), the end of which results in atman and Brahman becoming identified. Continuous bad karma results in rebirth into lower life-forms.

The devout Hindu works toward the escape from rebirth, while the Christian seeks the rebirth.

Conclusion

Eighty percent of the Hindu population in the world are Vaishvavites, while the remainder are members of Hindu reform movements or neo-Hindu sects, the most important of them being the arya-samaj.

The influence of Hinduism in the West, particularly in America, was far-reaching during the 20th century and on into the 21st.  Americans continue to explore and embrace the ideals of this fascinating religion in a variety of expressions especially adapted to the West. 

…we’ll go into the Book of Daniel, which talks a lot about the end of the world.