Worship of the celestial bodies A totally binding commandment can be found in Exodus 20:2-6, which largely deals with worship. “You must not have any other gods besides me. “You must not make for yourself a carved image or a form like anything that is in the heavens above or on the earth below or in the waters under the earth. You must not bow down to them nor be enticed to serve them, for I… am a God who requires exclusive devotion.”
God prohibited his people to make an image of a form like anything in the heavens or on the earth or in the waters. Why? He didn’t want his people would follow worldly cosmological theories about his creative work. He didn’t want they would bow in awe in front of the gods of nature like Tammuz or Baal. It is noteworthy the fact that the Bible makes several references to the heavenly bodies in connection with Baal worship. Concerning the kingdom of Judah, it is noted that right in the temple in Jerusalem there came to be men bowing to the sun, women weeping over the God Tammuz, utensils made for Baal and for the sacred pole and for all the army of the heavens. Also, the people throughout Judah made “sacrificial smoke to Baal, to the sun and to the moon and to the constellations of the zodiac and to all the army of the heavens.” (2Kings 23:4, 5, 11) Ancient deities were rather all related to celestial bodies and pagan cosmologies. Think to Jupiter, Venus Mercury, Mars, etc. All the idolatrous gods represented in the Bible are of that sort.
Pagan religions Sun-worship became the dominant religion in all ancient civilizations, spreading from Babylon to India, China, Africa, Greece, Rome, Mexico, South America, Egypt, and Europe. Historically, pagan Babylon worshipped the sun as a deity, and pagan religions also worshipped the invincible sun. The first day of the week, the most pre-eminent position in the week, was therefore given to the worship of the sun in the calendar of the ancients. Worshipping on Sunday goes back at least two thousand years before Christ. It was from this false sun-worship that we get the name ‘Sunday’ – i.e. sun-day, in our calendar for the first day of the week.
Tammuz In Babylon people worshipped the sun as Tammuz, in Persia as Mithras, in Greece as Helios and in Rome as Sol Invictus, the “unconquerable sun”. Anyway, Exodus 20:4-5 gave Israel a binding commandment, by saying: “You must not make for yourself a carved image or a form like anything that is in the heavens above or that is in the earth underneath or that is in the waters under the earth. You must not bow down to them nor be induced to serve them.” Deuteronomy 4:3,19 goes on by saying: “Your own eyes are the ones that saw what Jehovah did in the case of the Baal of Pe’or, that every man that walked after the Baal of Pe’or was the one that Jehovah your God annihilated from your midst…and …you must take good care… that you may not act ruinously and may not really make for yourselves a carved image, the form of any symbol… and that you may not raise your eyes to the heavens and indeed see the sun and the moon and the stars, all the army of the heavens and actually get seduced and bow down to them and serve them…”
Solomon’s high places to Molech Ancient people often build sanctuaries in the worship of the sun. Stonehenge, for instance, was one. Even Solomon, in all his wisdom, began to build high places in complete disregard of God’s law. We read: “And Solomon began going after Ashtoreth the goddess of the Sidonians, and after Milcom, the disgusting thing of the Ammonites…Solomon proceeded to build a high place to Chemosh the disgusting thing of Moab…and to Molech the disgusting thing … “. Insight on the Scriptures comments: “The account does not say that Solomon completely forsook the worship at the temple…He apparently attempted to practice a sort of “interfaith,” in order to please his foreign wives. For this “Jehovah came to be incensed at Solomon, because his heart had inclined away from Jehovah the God of Israel…” (1King11:5-7)
Calf worship Milcom is thought to be the same as Molech. At Jeremiah 32:35 Molech is referred to in parallel with Baal. Ancient divinities were generally gods of vegetation like Tammuz, and ultimately they were solar divinities. The sun-god was often represented by bulls, the horns signifying the rays and the bull’s strong reproductive power, the sun’s power as the giver of life. The female, the cow, was given equal honor as a symbol of Astarte. These were idols representing deceiving cosmological realities and driving people away from their Creator. So, when Aaron and Jeroboam introduced in Israel such worship of the bull (calf worship) it was indeed a worship of the sun.
The bull was associated not only with the sun but also to the moon, constellations, fertility, the power of kings. Bulls were depicted on the stone walls of Altamira caves or on the walls of the palace in Crete and everywhere. Today the symbol is still hovering over such shows like the Spanish Corrida or the Encierro of Pamplona. It is evident in many superstitious objects like coral croissants or the gesture of the horns.
Horses and chariots of the sun After the assassination of his father, eight-year-old Josiah became king of Judah. During his twelfth year as king, he began a campaign against idolatry. Altars used for false worship were torn down and desecrated. Also, sacred poles, graven images, and molten statues were destroyed. During this campaign, the High Priest found the book of the law by the hand of Moses, the original copy. More important, they had lost some original understanding as well. But on hearing God’s word, Josiah commissioned a five men delegation to inquire of his God in his behalf and in behalf of the people. The delegation went to the prophetess Huldah and brought back a report to this effect: “Calamity will come as a consequence of disobedience to Jehovah…” Subsequently, Josiah started a new campaign against idolatry. The high places built centuries earlier by Solomon’s were made completely unfit for worship. “Further, he caused the horses that the kings of Judah had given to the sun to cease from entering the house of Jehovah… and the chariots of the sun he burnt in the fire.” (2Ki chap.22-23) Greek mythologies were cast outside the temple, but just for a little while.
Misdirected worship went on during all Israel’s history and is still well practiced, even by people who do not imagine to be involved in idolatry. The Bible gives many examples of God’s refusal of any form of idolater or disobedient worship.
- In Exodus 30:33, 38, God promises the death penalty for the misuse of anointing oil and incense. From this, it seems that God is meticulous in how he ought to be worshiped.
- The warning of the Israelites in Deuteronomy 12:30-32 not to get their ideas of worship from the world around them, but only from God’s revelation. This command is relevant today for many obvious reasons. “When Jehovah your God will cut off from before you the nations to whom you are going to dispossess them, you must also dispossess them and dwell in their land. Watch out for yourself for fear you may be entrapped after them after they have been annihilated from before you, and for fear you may inquire respecting their gods, saying, ‘How was it these nations used to serve their gods? And I, yes, I, will do the same way.’ You must not do that way to Jehovah your God, for everything detestable to Jehovah that he does hate they have done to their gods, for even their sons and their daughters they regularly burn in the fire to their gods. Every word that I am commanding you is what you should be careful to do. You must not add to it nor take away from it.”
- The death of Nadab and Abihu in Leviticus 10:1-3. God struck them dead for offering “strange fire” to the Lord. This illustrates the seriousness with which God takes the worship of himself.
- The death of Uzzah for touching the Ark of the Covenant in 2 Samuel 6:3-8. When David first tried to bring the ark back to Jerusalem, the bulls suddenly stumbled. Uzzah put out his hand to steady the ark to keep it from falling. God struck him down there for his irreverence. Some object to this text, saying, “But Uzzah’s motive was pure. God must have been up to something else.” Certainly, Uzzah’s motive can be assumed to be pure in keeping the Ark from falling off a cart, but God struck him down for his irreverence. He had not considered nor respected rules. God demands to be worshiped in spirit as well as in truth (John 4:24). Uzzah died because, as David explained later on, “we did not inquire of God about how to do it in a prescribed way”. (1Chr 15:13) Uzzah’s death was pronounced because they failed to limit themselves to do what God had expressly commanded. But how different it was when the Levites carried the ark of God as he had commanded. (1Chron 15:14) Again we see the same principle clearly revealed: the only thing that pleases God is what he has commanded. As the ark was strictly representing God’s creative authority on the earth, Uzzah’s disobedience can be viewed as a negative model of behavior to avoid. We have to pay attention especially when we are facing God’s explanations about the form he gave to the earth. The Bible proves the ark was a model and a representation of the holiness of the earth as a sacred work.
- The leprosy of King Uzziah for offering incense in 2 Chronicles 26:18-21. Uzziah’s wrong worship led to God’s immediate judgment. What is not commanded by God is an abomination to him.
- Matthew 5:19 “Whoever therefore breaks one of these least commandments and teaches mankind to that effect, he will be called least in relation to the kingdom of the heavens.” So, it is clear how important is for God the fact that not the smallest letter or a particle of a letter will pass away from the law without taking place. A Christian one, to stay integer, will never imitate those teaching human doctrines as commands.
- Ephesians 5:10-11 “Keep on making sure of what is acceptable to the Lord, and quit sharing with [them] in the unfruitful works that belong to the darkness, but, rather, even be reproving [them]”
- James 4:4 shows that whoever turns out to be a friend of the world will constitute himself an enemy of God. Now, the teaching of the globular earth has to be reconsidered, because it is not a biblical belief. It is, on the contrary, a worldly philosophical ideology, originating back to Plato and before. In all the course of history, astronomers and physicists have often been philosophers as well. So worldly philosophies are at the basis of theories like evolution and heliocentrism. Today these are theories supported by the main secular organizations and by the majority of the mainstream agencies. Anyway, they are in full contrast with the teachings presented in God’s book.
- Colossians 2:8 “Look out that no one takes you captive by means of the philosophy and empty deception according to human tradition, according to the elementary things of the world and not according to Christ; because it is in him that all the fullness of the divine quality dwells bodily.” Often worldly traditions and philosophies give the appearance of biblical truth when in reality they just seem right because they are familiar. The congregation of Colossae was warned not to incorporate human tradition according to the elementary things of the world. Worship we render to God has to conform to all the Bible requests.
- Revelation 22:18-18 “If anyone makes an addition to these things…and if anyone takes everything away from the scroll of this prophecy, God will take his portion away from the trees of life…”
Job’s deep ignorance of the statutes of the earth It didn’t prove difficult for God to show Job how deeply ignorant he was on the statutes of creation. He asked him by saying: “Where did you happen to be when I founded the earth, tell me if you do know understanding…Into what have its socket pedestals been sunk down, or who laid its cornerstone?… Should there be any contending of a faultfinder with the Almighty? Let the reprover of God himself answer it…Really, will you invalidate my justice? Will you pronounce me wicked in order that you may be in the right?” (Job 38:4; 40:1) Or, as Paul’s quotation in the letter to the Romans, “Shall the thing molded say to him that molded it, “why did you make me this way?” (Rom 9:20)
Generally, when the Bible approaches subjects relative to the description of the physical form of the universe, readers consider them as sublime poetry. Is that correct? Of course, there’s great poetry in all the Bible, but not only that. Why? Such considerations should be taken as reliable ways to explain the physical reality we live inside. Those passages should not be read as just having a loosely hyperbolic, symbolical, poetic meaning but as having a literal value. Anyway, even Augustine of Hippo recognized that the literal interpretation of the Bible should be the leading criterion but…he took the view that, if a literal interpretation contradicts science, the Biblical text should be interpreted metaphorically. Is this the way a true Christian should follow? No, we have to accept the literal sense of the Bible as Jesus always did. Every time he was quoting passages from the Hebrew writings, it was clear he was believing in a literal interpretation.