Shortly after Noah's Flood, Satan worked to turn people away from the true worship of God. Genesis 11 tells the story of the tower of Babel, erected in defiance of God. It was there that paganism, Satan's counterfeit religion, was born.
The Bible does not record the full story, but by comparing historical clues, we are able to assemble a rather complete picture.
A common thread runs through the myths and legends of all the ancient peoples. Considering that all people originally spoke one language (Genesis 11:1) and lived together before "the Lord scattered them abroad from thence upon the face of all the earth" (verse 8), it is understandable that the fundamental elements of their religion stemmed from a single source. That source appears to be Ninus (ni' nəs), or as the Bible refers to him, Nimrod, introduced to us in Genesis 10:8, and his wife, Semiramis (si mir' ə mis), who after their deaths were deified and worshipped under the names of the various pagan gods and goddesses. From what we know about those gods, and from the ancient Assyrian records, and from the Biblical data, the following story has come into focus.
Nimrod was the first to violate the patriarchal system and set himself up as a king. He was the first to wear a crown, which started out as a set of horns, a symbol of power. He was the first after the Flood to wage war on his brethren. He subdued all the peoples of the East, conquering everything from Assyria to Libya. He built Babel and Nineveh, and at least six other cities. He was the first to encompass cities with walls and to build towers. He directed the work on the Tower of Babel. As a mighty hunter, Nimrod used the horse and the bow, and even bred leopards for hunting.
By subduing wild animals and building walled cities, Nimrod was looked up to as the great protector of mankind. The citizens were willing to give up certain liberties in order to have increased security. In spite of his bad characteristics, Nimrod was a hero.
Nimrod popularized the worship of the sun, which easily expanded to fire-worship and serpent-worship. The rapid spread of this idolatry ultimately brought upon him the judgments of God. At the hands of God-fearing men, Nimrod was slain with the sword, his body cut into pieces, and the parts were scattered to various cities as a deterrent to idolatry.
After that, for a short time, the false worship was held in check, at least out in the open. Its adherents found it necessary to begin practicing "undergound," and the secret mysteries of Babylon were developed.
The ringleader now was Semiramis, the bereaved wife of Nimrod. Playing on his immense popularity, she claimed that when Nimrod died, he became a god, in fact the sun-god. Thus began the worship of the dead. People would hold seances in which "Nimrod" would appear and give them messages. Supernatural happenings began to occur as the elements of spirit-worship developed.
Some time later, Semiramis gave birth to a son whom she claimed was conceived by Nimrod after his death and deification. In this child Nimrod was said to be reincarnated. The child was therefore worshipped as the incarnation of the sun. December 25 was celebrated as his birthday.
The worship of the child eventually led to the worship of his mother. Thus, when she died, Semiramis herself was deified and worshipped as the great mother goddess, the queen of heaven. Images of mother and child were spread throughout the world, centuries before the Christian era.
Pagan Objects of Worship
Although to all appearances the pagans worshipped many gods and goddesses, a close analysis of the evidence reveals that, universally, they recognized only one supreme god. In nearly every pagan culture that one god was triune. In a cave-temple in India, for example, an image is represented with three heads on one body under the inscription, "Eko Deva Trimurtti," "One god, three forms." The British Druids esteemed the white clover leaf as an emblem of their triune god. The Babylonians employed the equilateral triangle to symbolize their trinity. All the gods and goddesses of the pagan world were merely various representations of the three deified beings. Based upon the real-life story of Nimrod, his wife, and her child, the pagan godhead very early consisted of a father, a mother, and a child. In Scandinavia the trio was Odin, Frigg, and Balder. In Egypt it was Osiris, Isis, and Horus.
As the son was considered to be the incarnation of the father, to him were transferred all the father's attributes and honor. The characters of Adonis, Apollo, Aries, Atlas, Baal, Bacchus, Buddha, Cronos, Cupid, Dionysus, Jupiter, Mars, Mithra, Molech, Orion, Saturn, Tammuz, Vulcan, Zeus, Zoroaster, and all the other male divinities of antiquity, were based upon the person of Nimrod.
Aphrodite, Ariadne, Artemis, Ashtoreth, Astarte, Athena, Athor, Ceres, Cybele, Demeter, Diana, Fortuna, Hera, Hestia, Ishtar, Isis, Juno, Rhea, Venus, Vesta, and all the other pagan goddesses, were formulated about the person of Semiramis. The annual pagan spring festival was called "Easter" in her honor.
We must not forget, though, that all of this was, at its essence, the worship of the sun. The sun was the "one only god." Balder, or Tammuz or Baal, was simply its personified representative. That is why so many of the symbols and cultic rituals of the ancient mysteries pertained to the sun. The 360-degree circle, the orientation of temples toward the east, the public worship on the first day of the week as "the venerable day of the sun," each of these stem from the apostacy of Nimrod, where was launched Satan's master plan of false religion, the mystery of iniquity.