Colossians 2 – The Sufficiency of Christ & The Lost Cities of the America’s: Tenochtitlan (3 of 7)

Finger Pointing Up1 1Father, I find it odd that there are so many people that say they don’t believe in You, but I think everybody knows the truth, they just don’t want to admit it because they prefer sin.

I say this because these natives, the Jews, the Muslims, and others think or hope that they are Your chosen ones.  What people don’t realize is that You have not chosen a type of person or a nationality, You chose the “real” Christians.

The devil has put in the minds of many that You aren’t the loving God that Christians say You are because you’ll destroy people that don’t accept Jesus Christ. 

If people would read the Bible instead of listening to nonsense, they would know that EVERYONE in the world will know Jesus.

“For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness;

Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them” (Rom 1:18-19).

2 1 “This was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world (Jn 1:9).

“For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith e Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a Go and they shall be to me a people (Heb 8:10)

Maybe people don’t realize that the law is not just an idea or rule, it’s who You are?

We had seen that not all of the Corinthians were right with Jesus, nor are the Colossians.  

I can understand why people not believing in You, for a while at least, I had been one of them, it’s not that hard to do, it’s just being ignorant.  But if someone is going to believe in a god where do they get these insane ideas of gods that don’t even exist?

Aside from that, we had talked about astrology the other day, so tomorrow we’ll look at…

Colossians 2
The Sufficiency of Christ

3 In Aztec religion
In Aztec religion, Huitzilopochtli is a Mesoamerican deity of war, sun, human sacrifice and the patron of the city of Tenochtitlan.
He was also the national god of the Mexicas, also known as Aztecs, of Tenochtitlan.

Many in the pantheon of deities of the Aztecs were inclined to have a fondness for a particular aspect of warfare.

However, Huitzilopochtli was known as the primary god of war in ancient Mexico.

Since he was the patron god of the Mexica, he was credited with both the victories and defeats that the Mexica people had on the battlefield.

1 For I would that ye knew what great conflict I have for you, and for them at Laodicea, and for as many as have not seen my face in the flesh;

2 That their hearts might be comforted, being knit together in love, and unto all riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the acknowledgement of the mystery of God, and of the Father, and of Christ;

3 In whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.

4 And this I say, lest any man should beguile you with enticing words.

“Beguile you with enticing words” – false teachers/prophets, which are many.  For example, Rick Warren is trying to promote Chrislam, staying that Jesus and Allah (the Muslim’s god) is the same.  Like the devil did to Eve (Gen 3:13), different picture, same scenario.

5 For though I be absent in the flesh, yet am I with you in the spirit, joying and beholding your order, and the steadfastness of your faith in Christ.

6 As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him:

“Walk in him” – Christians walk with Jesus, want-a-be Christians believe, but live by their own laws, assuming that is okay.

7 Rooted and built up in him, and stablished in the faith, as ye have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving.

8 Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.

“Rudiments of the world” – this term means false, worldly, religious, elementary teachings.  See v. 4.

Paul was counteracting the Colossian heresy, which in part, taught that for salvation one needed to combine faith in Christ with secret knowledge and with man-made regulations concerning such physical and external practices as circumcision, eating and drinking and observance of religious festivals.

4 According to legend
According to legend, the god Huitzilopochtli told the Aztecs to build their capital where they sighted an eagle eating a snake.
The eagle with a snake in its beak is now a symbol of Mexico.

9 For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily.

10 And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power:

2:10-15 – here Paul declares that the Christian is complete in Christ, rather than being deficient as the Gnostics claimed.  This completeness includes the putting off of the sinful nature (the old man, 2 Cor 5:17), resurrection from spiritual death, forgiveness and deliverance from legalistic requirements and from evil spirit beings.

11 In whom also ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ:

12 Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead.

13 And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses;

5 Tlaloc
Tlaloc was an important deity in Aztec religion; a god of rain, fertility, and water.
He was a beneficent god who gave life and sustenance, but he was also feared for his ability to send hail, thunder, and lightning, and for being the lord of the powerful element of water.

Tlaloc is also associated with caves, springs, and mountains, in which he was believed to reside.
He is known for having demanded child sacrifices.

14 Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross;

15 And having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it.

16 Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of a holyday, or of the new moon, or of the Sabbath days:

17 Which are a shadow of things to come; but the body is of Christ.

6 Look at this huge statue
Look at this huge statue of the pope, and Jesus-so tiny. Why isn’t Christ being magnified? Because the Catholics are not Christians, but idolaters, children of the devil.
Without Jesus Christ you are nothing:

“I am the vine, ye are the branches…without me ye can do nothing (Jn 15:5).

The Catholics obviously do not know that, do you?

“Shadow…body” – the ceremonial laws of the Old Testament are here referred to as shadows because they symbolically depicted the coming of Christ; so any insistence on the observance of such  ceremonies is a failure to recognize that their fulfilment has already taken place.

18 Let no man beguile you of your reward in a voluntary humility and worshipping of angels, intruding into those things which he hath not seen, vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind,

19 And not holding the Head, from which all the body by joints and bands having nourishment ministered, and knit together, increaseth with the increase of God.

“Not holding the head” – the central error of the Colossian heresy is a defective view of Christ, in which He is believed to be less than deity.

Similar to the Catholics, they have put the Pope above Jesus probably because they can see the Pope, but Christians live by faith, not by sight (2 Cor 5:7).

20 Wherefore if ye be dead with Christ from the rudiments of the world, why, as though living in the world, are ye subject to ordinances,

21 (Touch not; taste not; handle not;

“Touch not; taste not; handle not” – the strict ascetic nature of the heresy is seen here.  These prohibitions seem to carry Old Testament ceremonial laws to the extreme.

22 Which all are to perish with the using;) after the commandments and doctrines of men?

23 Which things have indeed a shew of wisdom in will worship, and humility, and neglecting of the body; not in any honor to the satisfying of the flesh.

The Lost Cities of the America’s (3 of 7)

7 Tenochtitlan
Tenochtitlan Today

Tenochtitlan

Location: Valley of Mexico, Mexico
Date of Construction: 1 325 C.E.
Abandoned: 1521
Built By: Aztecs
Key Features: Main Temple Pyramids; Canals and Causeways; Great Market; Aqueducts; Public Latrines; Chinampas “Floating Fields.”

When Hernan Cortes and his small band of conquistadors first saw the Aztec capital of Tenochtitlan, they were astonished. Its sheer size astounded them, for it was four times as big as the largest city in Spain (Seville), bigger even than Paris or Venice, the greatest cities in Europe.

8 Hernán Cortés
Hernán Cortés de Monroy y Pizarro, 1st Marquis of the Valley of Oaxaca (1485 – December 2, 1547) was a Spanish Conquistador who led an expedition that caused the fall of the Aztec Empire and brought large portions of mainland Mexico under the rule of the King of Castile in the early 16th century.

Cortés was part of the generation of Spanish colonizers that began the first phase of the Spanish colonization of the Americas.

In appearance it surpassed even these urban marvels. Appearing to float on a huge lake, the city was of pristine white, interlaced with a grid of canals, causeways and streets, all of which led to a huge precinct in the center of town where broad plazas surrounded towering pyramids of vivid red and blue, encrusted with ornate sculptures. All was clean, spacious and orderly.

Bernal Diaz del Castillo, one of Cortes’s soldiers who later penned an account of the conquest of Mexico, wrote that it,

“seemed like an enchanted vision… Indeed some of our soldiers asked whether it was not all a dream… It was all so wonderful that I do not know how to describe this first glimpse of things never heard of, seen, or dreamed of before.”

But just two years later all this would be gone, razed to the ground after a desperate and bitter siege. “Of all the wonders I beheld that day, nothing now remains. All is overthrown and lost,” lamented Diaz, who had himself taken part in the methodical, house-by-house destruction of the greatest city in pre-Columbian America.

City of the Mexica

Tenochtitlan is known today as the capital of the Aztec Empire, but the term “Aztec” is problematic. In Nahuatl, the language of the Aztecs, it means “people of Aztlan”, referring to the legendary homeland from which several tribes emigrated to the lands in and around the Valley of Mexico.

9 Bernal
Bernal Díaz del Castillo (1492 to 1498, birth date is uncertain, – 1584) was a Spanish conquistador, who participated as a foot soldier in the conquest of Mexico with Hernán Cortés.

In his later years he was an encomendero and governor in Chiapas and Guatemala where he wrote his memoirs called “The True History of the Conquest of New Spain”.

The founders of Tenochtitlan called themselves the Mexica, and according to their foundation myth, they had followed their sun/war god (possibly a mythologized war chief) Huitzilopochtli to the shores of Lake Texcoco, where he tossed the heart of a conquered enemy into the waters and commanded them to make their home at the spot where it landed.

There the Mexica found an eagle, wrestling with a snake and perched on a cactus growing out of a rock – a vision commemorated as the national emblem of Mexico – and accordingly named their new home the “Place of the Fruit of the Cactus”: Tenochtitlan.

Whatever their origins, the Mexica were one of a number of tribes who moved into the Valley of Mexico region to fill the vacuum left by the collapse of the Toltecs in the 11th century CE.

Arriving relatively late (1325) they were stuck with one of the apparently less desirable sites – a marshy island in the middle of the partly brackish lake. Through a combination of warrior spirit, agricultural technology and religious zeal, they overcame their humble origins.

The original island was drained and extended through land reclamation and clever swampland agriculture, and joined to the neighboring island city-state of Tlatelolco.

10 Mexico City
Mexico City is the Federal District, capital of Mexico and seat of the federal powers of Mexico.
It is a federal entity within Mexico which is not part of any one of the 31 Mexican states but belongs to the federation as a whole.

Mexico City is the country’s largest city as well as its most important political, cultural, educational and financial center.

Mexica nobles bolstered their power through marriage into old Toltec noble lineages and political alliances, and in the 15th century established a triple alliance with two other Aztec city-states, going on to conquer the Valley of Mexico and territories beyond.

As the empire grew, Tenochtitlan came to dominate, the city and its emperor – the “great speaker” or Hue Tlatoque – sitting atop a socio-economic pyramid of political power and tribute.

Conquered kings and princes were allowed to retain control of their city-states, in return for the payment of tribute. They in turn were supported by the tribute of lesser nobles and so on down to the common class, who generated this tribute through their agricultural and industrial labor, mainly the production of cotton textiles through cottage industry (in fact, all Aztec women, from slaves to princesses, spun and wove cotton). Four times a year vast quantities of tribute streamed into Tenochtitlan.

Tenochtitlan at Its Peak

At first the island city grew organically and haphazardly, but after a major flood the Mexica took the opportunity to rebuild along carefully planned lines, perhaps inspired by the ruins of ancient Teotihuacan to the northeast.

The new city was laid out on a grid of orthogonal streets and canals, with four main processional ways dividing it into quarters, which themselves were divided into smaller neighborhoods called Calpulli.

Each Calpulli had its own local temples and markets, and each was organized around a tightly knit hierarchy of family and clan networks. The fifth district of the city, reflecting the fifth cardinal direction that the Mesoamericans recognized, was the center, where heaven and Earth came together at a sort of axis mundi (offering clear parallels with ancient Babylon).

Here the Mexica constructed a great sacred precinct, surrounded by a wall of carved serpents, 380 x 330 yards in area and with room for more than 8,000 people. Within stood huge stone pyramids, including the Main Temple.

11 This is a statue
This is a statue representing the time when the Aztecs identified the signal given to them by their God, according to their own history.
Their mythology said that in the place where they will discover an eagle standing on a nopal (a plant from Mexico) they should create their city.

They did that, so they founded the great city of Tenochtitlan.

This statue is just about 50 meters from the main block in Mexico City (called the “Zocalo”).

About 90 feet high, the Main Temple consisted of two stepped pyramids side by side on a huge platform. They symbolized the two sacred mountains of Aztec myth; the homes of the two central deities of their pantheon.

The southern pyramid was sacred to Huitzilopochtli (“Hummingbird Left”) and represented Coatepec, or Snake Mountain, where he had sprung fully armed from his mother’s womb and destroyed his evil sister.

The northern pyramid symbolized Tonacatepetl, the Edenic fertile mountain paradise home of Tlaloc (“Long Cave”), the god of fertility that the Aztecs had appropriated from the Toltecs.

Thus, like the Khmer at Angkor Wat,  the Mexica had transformed the  heart of their capital into a sacred landscape that celebrated and affirmed their claim to dominion, specifically their military power, through the war god Huitzilopochtli, and their economic power, through the god Tlaloc, who brought natural plenty.

The rise to power of the Aztecs was accompanied by a remarkable population explosion in and around the Valley of Mexico. In the early Aztec period (1150-1350 CE) the Valley had a population of c 175,000.

By the late Aztec period (1350-1519 CE) it had increased to nearly a million, with around 200,000 people living in Tenochtitlan alone, making it one of the largest cities in the world at the time.

12 According to legend
According to legend, the Aztec god of the Sun and War, Huitzilopochtli commanded the Mexicas to make a pilgrimage to find and settle in the first place they saw an eagle with a snake in its beak, sitting on a cactus.

So in the year 1168 A.D. the Mexica people (later called the Aztecs) started moving south into central Mexico from what is believed to be the four corners area of the present day United States, and called Aztlan by the Mexica.

The area they tried to settle in was however already occupied by a number of native tribes and city-states, which most likely were the remnants of the Toltec civilization.

According to the Spanish, who were welcomed, albeit warily, to the city and initially viewed it as awestruck tourists, the great market in the city attracted crowds of up to 60,000 people – more people than lived in the biggest city in Spain.

Here they observed women taking an equal part in many aspects of life, including trading; gaudily made-up prostitutes loudly chewing a form of gum to attract customers; humble commoners; haughty warriors and priests and an astonishing profusion of food and other goods from across America, including seafood from both the Pacific and Atlantic coasts, exotic animals and birds from the jungles to the south, obsidian blades from the north and possibly even goods from the Inca Empire to the far south.

The Spaniards were also struck by the cleanliness of the city. Aqueducts brought fresh water to the city and the residents bathed at least once a day.

There were no pack animals to foul the streets and each house was equipped with private latrines, while public toilets, in the form of latrines over barges, covered over for privacy, were moored at intervals along canals throughout the city.  Human waste collected in this orderly fashion was transported by canal to the fields on the edges of the city.

These fields, called Chinampas, are often described as floating gardens, and it was even said they could be untethered and moved. This is probably an exaggeration.

In practice, the Chinampas were an ingenious way of converting the limitations of the swamp setting into a highly productive form of intensive agriculture.

A rectangular patch of swamp was enclosed by wattle fences between stakes and then the level within raised with dredged mud, decaying vegetation and human ordure as fertilizer.

Long rows of these small fields were separated by a grid of canals that controlled irrigation, forming productive market gardens and reclaiming the swamp.

Downfall

In less than two centuries Tenochtitlan had grown from an obscure swamp town to arguably the greatest city on Earth, in what Inga Clendinnen of LaTrobe University in Australia describes as,

13 The Toltec
The Toltec culture is an archaeological Mesoamerican culture that dominated a state centered in Tula, in the early post-classic period of Mesoamerican chronology (ca 800–1000 CE).

The later Aztec culture saw the Toltecs as their intellectual and cultural predecessors and described Toltec culture emanating from Tōllān (Nahuatl for Tula) as the epitome of civilization; indeed in the Nahuatl language the word “Tōltēcatl” (singular) or “Tōltēcah” (plural) came to take on the meaning “artisan”.

A remarkable experiment in urban living”’, based on quite different principles to those that governed European cities. Rather than being depersonalizing, individualizing and democratizing, it was close knit with rigid hierarchies, strong family and clan ties.

Rather than being porous and chaotic it was strictly monitored and controlled, with heavy restrictions on free movement. Rather than being dirty and ramshackle it was clean and ordered.

And rather than tending to promote secularity it revolved around religion, including a constant stream of gory bloodletting and human sacrifice.

The Aztecs believed themselves to be the chosen people, with a destiny to rule and to take responsibility for the proper functioning of both heaven and Earth, including the passage of the sun across the sky, and this required blood.

To the Spanish all this was alien and wrong, and their hostility was inflamed by their lust for gold. They moved into the palace as “honored guests”, but in reality they made the Aztec emperor, Moctezuma, their virtual prisoner, and issued increasingly strident demands for lavish gifts of gold.

14 Coatepec
Coatepec, or Snake Mountain
Officially named “magic town” of the central mountain range of Veracruz, the city of Coatepec is recognized world wide by its high quality coffee and its orchids adorning the fog forest corridor across the eastern slope of the Cofre the Perote mountain, the second highest mountain of the state.

Located on a fertile valley, only 8 km from the capital city of Xalapa, Coatepec is the anteroom of one of the trails to the Cofre de Perote mountain by its eastern slope, as well as the great canyons which are the origin of the Pescados and Jalcomulco rivers, where sports as rafting and rappel are practiced among others.

The conquistador leader Cortes and his priests started to throw their weight around with regards to the replacement of Aztec idols with Christian symbols.

Tenochtitlan rapidly became a powder-keg, which was ignited when Cortes’ lieutenant, Pedro de Alvarado, had hundreds of Aztec nobles massacred.

The Indians rose up in revolt, laying siege to the embattled Spaniards. Moctezuma was sent out to calm the people, but was met with a hail of stones. The Spaniards claim he died from these injuries, but it is more likely that he was murdered now that he was of no more use.

On July 1st, 1520, the Spaniards made a desperate night flit, only to return a year later with an army of Spanish soldiers and native allies, and lay siege to the city. Convinced of their divine mission, the Aztecs hung on, but with their ranks decimated by smallpox brought by the invaders, defeat was inevitable.

Cortes levelled the city and built a new one on top. Today the site of Tenochtitlan lies at the heart of Mexico City and the Valley of Mexico once again hosts one of the largest cities on Earth.

…mystery religions.

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