Robert Wurtz II
And the LORD came down to see the city and the tower, which the children of man had built. And the LORD said, “Behold, they are one people, and they have all one language, and this is only the beginning of what they will do. And nothing that they propose to do will now be impossible for them (Genesis 11:5-6)
So it came to pass, when they had brought them outside, that he said, “Escape for your life! Do not look behind you nor stay anywhere in the plain. Escape to the mountains, lest you be destroyed.” Then Lot said to them, “Please, no, my lords!” (Genesis 19:17-18)
So all the people took off the rings of gold that were in their ears and brought them to Aaron. And he received the gold from their hand and fashioned it with a graving tool and made a golden calf. And they said, “These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt!” (Exodus 32:3-4)
I’ve selected three passages of scripture that occur early on in the scriptures to demonstrate a pattern of humankind. Beginning in the garden of Eden, the service of God has been linked to a mountain. The implication is that God’s presence can be accessed from the mountain. Of course, God is omnipresent and immanent, but this mountain motif (idea) was established both scripturally and in ancient history.
In Genesis 11:5-6, the people attempted to create their own mountain (as it were). Artificial mountains (ziggurats, pyramids, and mounds) and idols are found worldwide and were used to approach the gods, which we know as principalities, powers, and rulers of the darkness of this world (Ephesians 6:1f). Moreover, idols are more than grotesque carvings of wood and stone. Paul informs us that they’re identified with demons (I Corinthians 10:19-22).
We don’t know all the details in Genesis 11:5-6, but they wanted a city and a tower and built it without any direction from God. It was their idea. Infinite technology was in their future had God not confounded their language—all of which would have aided their rebellion and displaced God (Jehovah/YHWH) in their thinking process (Romans 1:22-26).
Genesis 11:5-6 is now known as Babel, which identifies with Babylon. This is a picture of humankind united against the one true God (Jehovah/YHWH) seeking a substitute for Him. Satan wants the honor and worship that belongs to God and will stop at nothing to get it. Therefore, he inspires people to invent religions, methods, and technologies to achieve this purpose. This is why God confounded the languages—it was a measure to slow the progress of Satan establishing his kingdom on earth.
God destroyed the earth in Genesis 6 and started again, but humankind is bent on rebelling against the Creator. So a small family developed into the people that built the Tower of Babel. Soon after, God called Abraham (Abram) out of Ur to establish His kingdom and presence on earth. Abraham had a nephew named Lot, who accompanied him on the journey.
Our second passage deals with Lot, who separated from Abraham and went to live in Sodom, a city so notoriously wicked that it’s spoken of still today (Genesis 13:12). Lot was a righteous man, relative to the times, who preferred to live just about anyplace but the mountain. Not an artificial mountain, but a mountain reminiscent of Eden and God’s close relationship with Adam. God commanded Lot through the angels, “Escape to the mountains, lest you be destroyed.” Then Lot said to them, “Please, no, my lords!”
Lot requested to move to Zoar, a small city on the list to be destroyed with Sodom and Gomorrah. Zoar is a Hebrew word meaning “little,” and it looked like the land of Egypt. As others have said, and I affirm, the essence of all compromise is “a little bit of Egypt.” Lot’s compromise meant that Zoar would remain and eventually spread its wickedness all over the Promised Land—leaving Israel to face it when they exited Egypt hundreds of years later (Leviticus 18:28, Deuteronomy 2:20 NKJV, Deuteronomy 2:20 ESV).
Now the LORD said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing.” (Genesis 12:1-2)
Even the most extraordinary men of God are at risk of compromising a direct order from God or His perfect will. For example, Abraham brought his nephew Lot along for the journey, and when God wanted to destroy the cities of the plain, Lot begged to live in sin-infested Zoar. Understand that love of family often introduces compromise into God’s plans. Perhaps Lot was in Paul’s mind when he and Barnabas planned to set out on their journey? We don’t know. Barnabas was a family man, but Paul knew John Mark wasn’t ready yet. He was still a novice, and so was Lot (1 Timothy 3:6). When the novices of the churches are influencing or determining the direction we are in trouble. The Holy Spirit recorded these stories for our instruction (1 Corinthians 10:10-11, Romans 15:4).
We come to our third passage. A cursory reading of Exodus 4:10-17 reveals that God intended Moses to be his representative, but Aaron was brought into the picture after much resistance. Sort of a Plan B. While Moses was on the mountain with God, Aaron offered the people an alternative to the God of the mountain. He made them a counterfeit and synchronized the bull god of Egypt (later Baal or Beelzebub) with Jehovah (YHWH). We read, “And he received the gold from their hand and fashioned it with a graving tool and made a golden calf. And they said, ‘These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt!'” (Exodus 32:3-4)
What a travesty! It was a supreme act of apostasy. The Devil must have shouted to the top of his lungs (so to speak) in celebration as the people directed the praise and worship that belonged to Jehovah (YHWH) to this golden calf. It was Babel again. Man worshipping Satan in place of God. Sadly, Jeroboam revived calf-worship in 1 Kings 12:26f as another expression of ultimate apostasy. It came about after Rehoboam listened to the council of the young people rather than the wise (1 Kings 12:8).
A Blasphemous Mixture
Religious syncretism is when two religions or gods are combined into one. Aaron wasn’t the first to introduce competing spiritual elements into a belief system, and he hasn’t been the last. The enemy uses people to accomplish his goals, and often they are family (a Lot to an Abraham or an Aaron to a Moses). The world is filled with religions made after the peoples’ lusts. Yet God introduced Himself to the Israelites as “I AM THAT I AM.” (Exodus 3:14) He is not a mixture; He is perfectly Holy. He cannot be altered to suit peoples’ whims or worshipped according to peoples’ lusts.
What is the common factor in these three passages? Some people want the God of I AM THAT I AM, and others want a substitute. Most don’t want a “mountain lifestyle” that’s building altars to God and walks with Him (like Abraham) but prefer something more like Sodom. For example, think of how radically the definition of worship has changed in the last 30 years. Look at how preaching and teaching have changed. Have we moved more towards a pure faith, or are we synchronizing with the world like Babel or Israel and the golden calf?
When God said that man would achieve what they imagined in Genesis 11:5-6, they wanted a substitute for God. They wanted a life independent of the True God and free to worship the gods of the land. Unfortunately, in modern times, counterfeiting of the presence and glory of God is the norm. Carnal minds have synchronized the carnal methodologies of the secular music world with the worship of God until many, if not most, can’t tell the difference between the manifest presence of God and the electronic experience of their “worship service.”
Like Aaron, who claimed to throw the gold into the fire and out popped a golden calf, we have a generation who have counterfeited God and the Holy Spirit with their electronics. I’ve been asking for almost twenty years, why the club or concert “feel?” What’s with the flashing lights, the smoke, the darkness, and the loud music? Why do professing Christians want this? Why are they pressuring pastors to adopt it? Why do they leave the church if they can’t get it? Has the worship experience become the god we worship? People feel something and think it’s God. Where is the conviction of sin? Where is the desire to live Holy before God? Are we trying to raise a generation of apostates? Will this generation be known as the one that changed the face of Christianity?
There is nothing new under the Sun. We’ve been marching in this direction since Babel. The discovery of electricity has been a double-edged sword for churches. More than using it to communicate truth, we now have the technology to be the first bionic church: artificial voice amplification and modification, artificial lighting, artificial ambiance. Have we created an electronic golden calf? Why are multitudes dependant on these things to express their faith? How can we worship in Spirit and truth when so much of the experience is artificial?
God warned us, and now it’s here. We have all the technology to counterfeit the actual presence of God, and the people love it that way. Why? Because the golden calf carries the standards of Egypt. You can “worship” with sin in your life and still “feel” something when the electricity is on. Solomon dedicated the temple with prayer and sacrifice, not props and synthesizers. But nobody sounds the alarm. It’s all just accepted as good. But I suggest it’s an ancient syncretism dressed up in new clothes. We must confront it if we have any expectation of faith being found when Jesus returns. We are in danger of losing Christianity altogether.