The following Scripture is well known from the story of the birth of Messiah,
“And itcametopassinthose days, that therewentout adecree from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed”
Augustus was a name that the first emperor of the Roman empire chose, and the name can mean “exalted” or “worthy of honour” (Antikkens Historie , p.197). Roman history began with kings (753 – 510BC), later becoming a republic and then a hegemonous power (510–146BC). Between 146 and 127BC it was still a republic but suffered from in-fighting. Then the reign of the emperors began in the year 27BC. Initially the Roman empire did not seem to fit the description of the fourth beast of the Book of Daniel. Babylon, Media Persia and Greece had all been powerful kingdoms that covered vast regions of the world, but the Romans struggled with civil war and other political and social maladies. For a whileit appeared as if the empire would not become the powerful kingdom it was prophesied to be, but when the emperor Augustus came to power it was the beginning of the acceleration topower for Rome. He waslookeduponas a “saviour” for the Roman empire. For years people in Rome had dreamed of a kingdom of peace, “a glorious new age”, and in the year 17BC Augustus marked the beginning of this kingdom of peace. In the year 10BC Augustus usedanobeliskforhissun dial. The openingceremonywasperformedinhonour of the sun god “Sol”. On Augustus’ birthday the shadow pointed to Ara Pacis (The Altar of Peace) and was areminder thathewasdestinedtoruleover theRoman empire(The Age of Augustus, p144 & 167). Even thoughAugustus andhisimmediatesuccessorsexperi-enced a very powerful empire, Rome did not experience peace for the remainder of its days. For “it came to pass in those days” that the Messiah was born and would in many ways shake the Roman empire, but more so after His death. While Augustus andhissuccessorswere proud of their powerful kingdom, Christ said, “My kingdomisnotofthis world” (John 18:36). Emperor Augustus reignedfor along time, which strength-enedhisnewdirec-tiveandopenedthewayforhissucces-sorstofollowinhis footsteps.
Augustus continuedmanytraditionsthat the early Roman leaders hadkeptandwhichfutureemper-ors also honour. When the kings ruled the Roman empire they functioned as high priests. Like Julius Caesar before him, emperor Augustus proclaimed himself high priest over most of thereligiouspriesthoods in Rome. Thus hebecameboth areligious leader and a head of state, and the combination strengthened the emperors power for years to come. On the 6th March, 12BC he adoptedthe title “Pontifex Maximus” which declaredhimhighpriestover theVesta nunsandvariousother
orders (Roman Religion, Clifford Ando, 2003, p.66). The Vesta temple lay in the heart of ancient Rome in remembrance of the place where young girls dedicated 30 years of their life to a vow of celibacy. The Bible never demands a reclusive, cloistered life, and later Christian monastic orders are inspired solely by the old pagan religious practices. This tradition was also found in Babylon where “Naditum” lived in a type of cloister that was linked to thesun godShamash’s temple. Celibacy was arequirement here too(Joan Oates, Babylon, Thames and Hudson, p.73). Roman Pontiffs led the religious practices (that were not led by special priests for particular gods), and they also enforced religious law which affected the daily life of the people. They were also responsible for the calender. Originally there were three Pontiffs who were ruled by the Pontifex Maximus.
The emperor Augustus was also the leader of the exclusive priesthood of
Augur. There wereonly afew ofthesepriestsandtheirtaskwastointerpret omens, “They learned the will of the gods by studying the intestines of the sacrificed animals, how the birds flew and thunderstorms. If they received a bad omen they could interrupt official proceedings as well as revoke titles and offices” (Translated from “Antikkleksikonet”, p45).
God, God’s representative and Father.
The priesthoods that Augustus appointed himself to lead existed long before he came to power. By becoming a leader to all of Rome’s priesthoods, he unified the kingdom under himself. In 2BC he was also given the title “Pater Patriae” which directly translated means, “The Father of the Land” (The Age of Augustus, p.129 & 214). He adoptedfromhisneighboring countries, the pagantra-dition to be called “the Son of God”, “the Representative of God” or “God Himself”. According to Augustus, a comet that appeared for seven nights in July of 44BC, was the sign from the late Julius Caesar (who adopted Augustus and
who died that year) that he, Julius Caesar, should be made divine (apotheose). The comet was also interpreted as the beginning of a new age of joy. The star (called “Sidus Iulium”) became the decor of coins and seals etc. as a symbol of hope. The divine Julius Caesar became a national cult, after which Augustus could declare himself “Divi Filius” or “the Son of God”. Augustus was worshipped as a god after his death and temples and altars were built in dedication to him. (The Age of Augustus, p.222 (34). He was worshipped as a god while he was alive, but mostly by the Greeks, for the simple reason that it was more acceptable to worship emperors as gods and heroes in the Greek parts of the empire, than in the Roman (Ibid p.297). A poem written about Augustus in 23BC reads;
Which translates as: Augustus is to be viewed as God on Earth because he added the kingdom, “the Britons” and “DOUR PARTHIANS”.
Even thoughAugustus wasnotworshippeddirectlyas agod inallpartsof theRoman empire, it was commonly believed thathe wasGod’s representative on earth (The Age ofAugstus p.235), just as the Babylonians and Egyptians claimed. In Babylon there were many different dynastiesand toachieve therespectofthepopulacethenew kings, regardless oftheirback-grounds, claimed tobechosenbythelocal gods. The traditionthe emperorAugustus startedwasnot new, but simplyadopted from Babylon. The first Babylonian king thatweknowofwhocalledhimselfgod, was Ur-Nammu, and hymns were sungwherehewas exalted as a god (Joan Oates, Babylon, Thames and Hudson, p49). Again in Egypt,
If theywerenotgods likePharaoh in Egypt, at leastthey claimed to be born and nursed by a goddess and appointed them their position” .
(Antikkens Historie, p9)
Late, great heroes deified
The Roman empirecontinuedtobegovernedaccordingtothepaganmodel and deified her great heros after their deaths. Elaborate tombs glorified the dead rulers of Babylon, Rome and Egypt; in the step pyramid of Saqqura, the pyramids in Giza and other famous kings tombs. In Egypt it was common to build grand tombs in the form of temples that were also places to worship the dead.
The Christians had suffered the most horrific persecution at the hand of the various Roman emperors. The Christian claimed there was one true God and that the gods of the heathen were in fact demons, and they refused to worship other gods. Despite the conflict and persecution, the Christians experienced a time of peaceinthekingdom from 260AD until approximately 300AD. Emperor Gallienus ended the vicious tide of persecution that his predecessor Valerianus started. When the fires of persecution were again kindled against the Christians around 300AD by emperor Diocletianus, many were martyred, but the previous years ofpeaceledtoamassivegrowthintheirnumbers andChristianity spread out around the land. There were now Christians all over the kingdom and represented in all social levels. After the emperor Galerius’ edict of tolerance in 311AD the Christians experienced a change of fortune after several hundred years of violent oppresion(Antikkens Historie, p.244-255). The Roman emperorsdependedonpeople’sreligiousfaithtolegitamisetheir power. So anyreligiousdisharmonywas athreat thetheirvery power. How could the emperor be the representative of God on earth, he who decided what was sacred and what was not, if half of the kingdom did not recognise his gods? So both Julius Caesar and Augustus fabricated myths to strengthen their position (Roman Religion, Clifford Ando, 2003, p.117). Any emperor who bore the title Pontifex Maximus was high priest over all the different priesthoods thereby exploiting supreme power. As the Christian could not accept the gods of the Romans or the divinity of the emperor, nor did they accept theemperorsreligious authority, resulting inChristians becomingthe enemy of the state. When religion and state are so closely bound to one another then one cannot choose to obey the state without also serving their religion. As persucution slowed the Roman empirewassplitintotworeli-gious groups. Previously, the Roman emperors had adopted one god after the other from areas they conquered towinthetrustofthe people. This
made the Roman empire the mother church of all heathen religions in the empire. Now, if an emperor wanted to achieve a new era of greatness as areligious leader, and thereby win the support of all the people, he had to become high priest to the God of the Christians as well – either that, or ridRome of theChristians altogether. Since thelatter had been attempted in vain for so long, now that theChristians had grownto such vast numbers, it was natural to try to become the leader of the Christian religion. Constantine became the emperor who did this very thing; claiming he had converted to Christianity. Ear-lier emperors claimed that a particular god had given them victory legitimising their claim as the chosen one.
After the tyrant Peisistratos had gained victory in battle by the Temple of Athena in 546BC he honoured the goddess in Athens… The battleatsea byActium in 31BC where Augustus defeatedAntonius and Cleopatra, was outside the Temple of Apollo and the victor was convinced that this god had helped him win the battle… Emperor Aurelianus won a great victory by the city of the sun gods in Emesa in Syria in 272. Afterwards he built a great temple for Sol as ‘Lord of the Roman Empire in Rome’”
(Translated from “Antikkens Historie” p.245).
Similarly, in 312AD the emperorConstantine claimedtohave avision where the Christian God promised him victory if he fought bearing His sign. Con-stantine won the battle and so began the exaltation of the Christian God by Rome. Although Constantine was titled “The Great”, and some churches made him a saint, he was anything but a saint to his closest family.
In 310, 325 and 326 he was behind the execution of some of his closest family, including his wife, his oldest son (Crispus), his father-in-law (Maximianus, who in 307 in Trier gave Constantine the title Augustus, and gave him his daughter to marry who was executed), and his brother-in-law”
(Translated from “Kirke og Kultur”, p.107, 2-00).
Constantine built 50 streets lined with pillars in Constantinople and
a 50 metre high column was placed in the centre of the town.
The column is partly preserved and is called “The Burnt Column”. On the top was a statue of Constantine made of light-reflecting bronze, facing east with a lance in his left hand, and in his right, a globe crowned by the goddess of victory “Victoria” – a symbol of world dominion. The head was surrounded by a crown of sunbeams. The supposedly Christian emperor dressed himself as the sun god only a few years after he led the bishops at the Council of Nicea” .
When the Christians were no longer subjected to persecution, there arose disputation amongst them. Matters ofdoctrineandauthorityweregreatly contested, so Constantine decided to unite the Christians by defining their faith for them and removing some of the contested beliefs. Thus man sought to dictate truth to the Christian in the same way the emperors and thesenatehadpreviouslydonewith the Roman religion. The nature of God and the term “the Trinity” was amongthosedoctrinesthatwerediscussedanddecided upon in these church meetings. Constantine did not just influence matters of doctrine but other concepts that were to continue to this very day. In typicalemperical style, Constantine madelawsconcerningreligiousholy days and holy places, but according to the Bible this right belongs only to God. However inRomeithadalwaysbeenconsideredtheemperorsrighttodeter-mine these religious practices.
Sacred places (sacra loca) are those that have been publicly dedicated, whether in the city or in the country. It must be under-stood that a public place can only become sacred if the emperor has dedicated it or has granted the power of dedicating it.”
(Roman Religion, Clifford Ando, 2003, p.247)
Constantine’s actions as a self-proclaimed Christian were in harmony
with the Roman religionbutnotthebiblical religion. His motherHelena claimedtohavereceivedvisionsfrom the Christian God whichinthosedayswas themost common, heathen waytovalidateyour word. Among themost famous “holy” places were Mount Sinai (which todayisnamedafterher vision), and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem’s Old City. These holy sites were legitimised through Helena’s visions, and temples and churches were built on the places she pointed out. Helena continued to appoint many new holy places which are used by the Catholic Church today. Interestingly enough, the vision of Mount Sinai in Egypt did not fit with the Bible’s description for the location at all. This makes the vision, and indeed all of her visions, highly suspicious to say the least. Constantine also claimed to have found the apostle Peter’s grave, and built a church with a monument marking the tomb.
Constantine also took the liberty of exalting Sunday, the weekly holy day that honoured the sun god Sol. By merging the Roman sun god Sol and the Chris-tian Christ intooneandthesame person, the heathenholidaysgained a new impetus in this new amalgamation of religions.
“Constantine’s lawsanc-tifyingSol’s day, the 25th Deceme-ber (Natalis Solis Invicti), seemed to indicate thatto him, Sol andChrist was one and the same deity” (Trans-lated from “.
Kirke og Kultur”, p108, 2-00)
Constantine’s intermingling of paganism and Christianity initiated a new era in Roman religion.
“At the end of the 4th century AD, a chapel with an altar was built by the pedestal under The Burnt Column, where mass was celebrated, candles were lit, incense burnt, and prayers offered to Constantine’s image atop the column… as if they were to God to protect them from accidents”
(Translated from “Kirke og Kultur”, p108, 2-00).
One mightrightlywonder how, for severalhundredsof years,
Christians suffered death rather than to pray at, or honour the altars dedi-catedtothegodsandthe emperors, but nowwillinglytookpartinthis pagan practice just because Constan-tine claimed to be converted. A falling away fromtheapostolicfaithhad begun in more ways than one. The openingceremony inConstanti-nopleutilisedtheuseofrelicsin true Roman tradition. It is also recorded that Constantine removed astatue ofthe goddess Athena from Rome and placed it under a column with a statue of him. He also gave Constantinople it’s very own goddess which was named Anthousa (Ibid p.109). A coin fromaroundthesametime showsConstantine withhis sons, and a hand from heaven reaching down and crowning Constantine. This was a traditional pagan illustration of an emperor chosen of God. The only dif-was a traditional pagan illustration of an emperor chosen of God. The only dif-was a traditional pagan illustration of an emperor chosen of God. The only difference between him and his predecessors was that he claimed it was the Chris-tian God that had crowned him and gave him power to reign in God’s stead. Constantine retained the title Pontifex Maximus, and
“not sincethedays of Nero had Rome experienced such self-glorification” .
Last but not least Constantine designed a coin showing himself being caught up to heaven.
After the death of Constantine, his sons reigned and continued the new pagan/Christian amalgamation. Pagan traditions, feast days and titles all remained the same, but were simply attributed to Christ.
“In doctrinal questions, as with all others, no steadycoursewas held. They receivedcouncilfromtheir subjects; letters andappealsfrom individuals, societies, policy makers, provinces andChristian politicalrepresentativesetc. and theyfavouredthosewiththebest arguments, the most appealing rhetoric, and those that flattered them the most”
(Translated from “Antikkens Historie” p.247).
The pope takes the reigns
In the year395the kingdomwasdividedbetweentheeastandthe west. The grandkingdomthatemerged eastward, westward and northward, was then divided among various different Germanic tribes. In Rome a change in method of rule occurred. In the 6th century the pope, the so called “high priest” of the Christians, took the emperors seat and continued the tradition that had been continuing since the start of the Roman empire, hence, “the dragon… gave power to the beast”. The pope entitled himself with all the same heathen priestly titles, Pontifex Maximus andFather of the People, and notonlyinheritedthetitles attributed to the emperors and the symbols of their power, but he actually inher-ited the full extent of their power as well. The bishops and popes inherited the sceptre, or staff of Augur, the sign of the heathen king and high priest and the Romans understood and accepted the full implications of this. The popesdidnotinherittheirsceptre from Peter. Peter himself was never authorised to either receive worship or to rule. The historic facts tell an unambiguos story – the popes received their power when the Roman empire fell, and adopted the emperorsreligopolitcal state, titles and spirit. For over a thousand years the papacy ruled and persecuted other religious communities and individuals; among them were Jews and any Christian communities that did not adhere to Catholicism. Millions of innocent lives still scar the con-science of the Catholic Church. Christ calledHis followerstoteachall nations, kindred, tongue andpeople about God. He had encouraged them not to rule as the heathen did, and that none should seek to elevate themselves above another. Christ did not institute a kingdom inspired by paganism, nor did He prophesy that something like this would be instituted before the “New Earth”. When the Roman emperor Constantine converted to Christianity, the Christians had already started falling away, mixing pagan elements into their belief. Not long after theRoman empirebeganto fall, the kingdomwasdividedandthe emperors disappeared. Christianity became the new state religion and the high-est bishop in the Christian church was exalted to take the emperors place. The popes exploited their religious power and the support of the people, to the same degree as the Roman emperors and the Babylonian kings. They claimed they were chosen of God, to be God’s vicar, or representative. It was claimed that it was given them to decide who was holy and who was not, to dictate laws and traditions on God’s behalf. They claimed they followed in the footsteps of the apostles, and especially Peter. The Archbishop James Cardinal Gibbons, in his famous book in support of the Catholic Church wrote,
You cannot, therefor, be a true citizen of the Republic of the church so long as you spurn the legitimate supremacy of its Divinely constituted Chief. “He that is not with Me is against Me” says our Lord, “and he that gathered not with me scattereth.” How can you be with Christ if you are against His Vicar?”
(Faith of our Fathers, James Cardinal Gibbons, p.97).
Such sayings and others similar to this have had a grip on millions inside the Catholic Church, but is what they are claiming really true?If God viewed the appointing of a king in Israel as a rejection of Him as King, how does He feel about the pope? According to the Bible, Christ is the Head of the church, He who holds the key to life and death and who is the High Priest for His church (Rev 1:18, 1 Cor 1:17, 18 & Heb 3:1). The very same entitlement that the pope claims for himself. All the same arguments that the heathen powers had used, are now used by the Catholic Church to legitimise their power as God’s representative. The Pharaohs were long gone, the kings of Mesopotamia had stepped down, the Roman emperors were fallen, but their power structure continued from the fourth cen-tury AD until Napolean took the pope captive in 1798. Then in 1929 the papacy regained their political power, and their power structure remains the same to this very day. Babylon did not just claim they were chosen of God after the flood, but also that their kings lineage had continued from before the flood, right back to the very beginning. Equally, the Catholic Church today claims that Christ instituted their authority, and that the apostles (especially Peter) are part of their lineage. As the Babylonian claim was a lie, it is natural to be suspicious of the popes titles and claims to leadership, as they are directly inspired by the Roman empire and not by the intentions of God. God did not call Abraham to walk in the foot-steps of Babylon, nor did He call His disciples to walk in the footsteps of Rome. God had a different calling and a different plan and His point of view and will is clearly expressed through His communication with Israel, and Christ’s com-munication with the disciples. Another major point Christ puts forward, is that you are not chosen by God regardless of your behaviour. It has not been given to man to dictate to God. In His conversation with the Scribes this point was clearly made. They claimed the right to judge and to speak on God’s behalf because their forefathers were once chosen. Christ destroyed this argument completely,
“I know that you are Abraham’s seed; but you seek to kill me, because my word has no place in you… They answered and said to him, Abraham is our father. Christ said to them, If you were Abraham’s children, you would do the works of Abraham”
(John 8:37 & 39).
John the Baptist who prepared the way for Christ, said the same,
“And think not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father: for I say to you, that God is able of these stones to raise up children to Abraham” .
Lineage or inheritence or the claim of God’s approval means nothing. What matters in the biblical sense is if one does the will of God or not. It was by this principle that one could recognise God’s true workers as oppose to the false. In Babylon archaeologists found laws that had many similarities with the laws that Israel received. In the Skoyen collection, there are inscriptions which show many commandmentsidenticaltosomeof the Ten Commandments. Babylon was anything but a lawless society and they had many laws to take care of the poor and the homeless. The Hammurapis code of law states,
“That the strong may not oppress the weak, to give justice to the orphan and the widow, I have inscribed my precious words on my steele and established it in Babylon before my statue called `King of Justice`.” .
(Joan Oates, Babylon, Thames and Hudson, p.75)
The problem was not that they did not have laws, but that they did not have all of God’s laws. They themselves chose what laws they wanted to keep and threw away what they did not like. The leaders dictated the will of God to the people, when actually God has His own will. Similarly the Catholic Church has encouraged many good deeds and have kept many of the standards from the Bible, but as did Babylon, the Catholic Church added man-madelawsandfalse theories. They havemadeseveral changes; rejecting some of God’s commandments whilst adding hundreds of laws and rules that God never ordained, and are in many cases in direct opposition to God’s commandments. The Catholic Church has claimed that many of the laws God ordained, for instance the health laws, are no longer valid because God does not want to put these burdens on people. At the same time they have fab-ricated many laws themselves which are ten times the burden of God’s require-ments. The Catholic Church has theologically positioned themselves strongly against the Jews andclaimedtheyhavelosttheirposition asGod’s chosen people because they failed to recognise Christ as Messiah. Yet when they themselves have fallen away in every conceivable way, they claim that their election stands sure regardless of what they do. The traditional pagan way in which the pope continues to steer the Church is what Paul warned would happen among the apostate Christians,
“Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; Who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sits in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God” .
(2 Thess 2:3 & 4)
We know that Paul does not talk of the Roman emperors, for they were already at work when he wrote this. He was talking to the Christians, warning of a Christian falling away, and the subsequent rise of a false leader who would try to control the Church. The popes receive adoration and even worship in the same way the emperors and the kings before them. Herod also received such adoration but in this case God showed His displeasure immediately,
And on a set day Herod, arrayed in royal apparel, sat on his throne, and made an oration to them. And the people gave a shout, saying, It is the voice of a god, and not of a man. And immediately the angel of the Lord smote him, because he gave not God the glory: and he was eaten of worms, and gave up the ghost” .
When the children of Israel asked for a king, God said it was because they did not want Him to reign over them. God Himself wanted to be King for His people from His throne in heaven, and not have a royal mediator the way the heathens did. The veryrejectionofthisgodly principle, the ordinationof a “father” in the Christian church, is apostacy. Any man claiming to be the voice of God but concurrently rejecting God’s word, and mixing the pure with the impure is a perfect copy of the spirit of Babylon.
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