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Posted in: Current Events, Know God, Go All In

06.14.23 ( Jeff Vines )

Unholy Culture

(Excerpt from the Sermon)

Sermon Series: Under the Influence

So where are we now? We've removed the commandment: Thou shall have no other gods before me. Now we have other gods before us. The God of the Bible has bestowed His blessing on this imperfect nation. But now we've removed His precepts from the ears of our children and have replaced it with sheer rubbish. I mean this is totally demonic. It's not just eradicating the 10 commandments of the Bible. Now we're filling their heads with all kinds of rubbish. Instead of just teaching them math and science.

Has Baal returned from the fringes? Are there clear signs? Okay, let's put the second log on the fire. The mission of Baal has always been to cause a nation to draw away from God's word, draw away from God's law, and live as though they never knew His ways. How does he do that? How can he turn a culture away from Yahweh? 

It's reflected in his title. Baal is the god of prosperity.

Not only is he the king of the gods, the leader of spirits, the god of fertility, his worshipers call on him in hopes of prosperity. So how do the Baals operate in the modern world? I mean the spirits don't center on the fruit or yields of the earth since we're no longer an agrarian society. The Baals historically adapt to culture and center on modern equivalents. The financial seeding yields monetary profit and increased materialism and greed. God is no longer the ultimate pursuit in America, let's be honest, materialism and wealth are. The number one thing that keeps people out of church is that they have the money to do something else. In the scriptures, God is called the Almighty. In America, we've dubbed our own currency as the Almighty dollar.

Now here's what's mind boggling: Baal is often portrayed as a bearded helmeted figure with a lightning bolt in his hand. But do you know what the preeminent symbol of Baal is? The bull. The bull embodied power and fertility. Strength of prosperity. So if you make a trip to Wall Street today, Wall Street, the ultimate of America's pursuit of money, the doorway of American lust for monetary gain outside its building, you're going to find its emblem, the representation of its pursuits, the Wall Street bull. Now I'm not saying that the bull came to Wall Street because everybody wanted a connection to the Baal, but it did come. The symbol of American prosperity is the same symbol of ancient national prosperity.

The fact that it was done without any conscious intent is even more striking. The bull represented something else in ancient Israel as well. The symbol of a nation's apostasy from God. The younger version of the bull is called a young bull or a bull calf. It became the symbol created out of gold at the foot of Mount Sinai when the people were rebelling against God. Centuries later, Jeroboam, who led the rebellion to divide the nation of Israel into two parts, erected two golden male young bulls and demanded that the people of God worshiped them. 

Pastor Jeff, what's your point? If the sight of American materialism is the financial district in New York City, if the demonic forces relegated to the fringes by the Jesus movement have returned, then they would want their presence tied to the symbols of the ancient world.

The symbols would return as they march into the city of man and stake their claim. I find it almost uncanny that in December of 1899, a massive 11 foot tall, 16 foot long, 7,100 pound molten image, the bull, was erected in the place of ultimate materialism. It was later moved to a location where it could stand on as a permanent landmark of America. But it remained in America's financial district. 

You know, when the bull first appeared on Wall Street, it wasn't alone. There was another figure right beside it – because it's where President George Washington was inaugurated. Where he was sworn in as the first president of the United States. The president who said, if America ever turns away from God and His eternal laws, its blessings will be removed. 

I find it fascinating that when you think of the face of Moses, looking down on Israel from Mount Sinai, and the anguish he must have felt as his people are erecting this golden calf and worshiping Baal – that's what they're doing, that's why it's a calf, that's why it's a bull – then think about Capitol Hill where the House of Representatives convened. Do you know that overlooking the floor is the face of Moses. It gazes down at the speaker's podium, the place where chamber proceedings are held, votes are taken, legislation is passed. The face of Moses also appears on the walls of the highest court in our nation. Did you know that the most prominent figure on the Supreme Court's eastern side is Moses holding the two tablets of the 10 Commandments? Those same tablets appear on the doors leading into the Supreme Court chambers. So Moses is looking down over Israel, a nation blessed by the presence and pursuit of God, as his people turn away from him. I think the face of Moses also looks down on America. A nation blessed by the presence and pursuit of God. 

So, Baal has returned and the demonic forces are laying claim to their signs and symbols over and against the signs and symbols associated with the God of provision. I wonder if, when Jesus said pay attention, watch, look for the signs, if this is part of it. No more 10 commandments in public, crosses also being banned – it's coming. Christians are being told to hold their religious views in private while the prophets and tenants of Baal are taking center stage. 

Then, one more sign, there's the Arch of Palmyra. Baal's role is significant all throughout human history and again manifested in different idols, shapes and forms. There are two other gods that we will discuss in the weeks ahead, but Baal is the primary god. He's the ring leader. He is significant in the destruction of societies, especially in the fall of Israel. But in the first century, the same century that Jesus came to save mankind from their sins, in the city of Palmyra, which is present day Syria, a temple was erected on Baal's behalf. A hundred years later, a second temple was built. The first temple was called the Temple of Baal after the Babylonian name. The second temple was called Temple of Baalshamin, which means Lord of the heavens, god of the skies. Both temples would remain standing for 2,000 years.

After the second temple was built (a temple is the place you go and you pray and you worship and you fast and you shout mantras, you chant, whatever it is you're going to do), a monumental arch was added called the Arch of Palmyra. The purpose of the arch was to connect the temple and the main colony. For those of you who went to Turkey and Israel with me last year, you'll remember I took you into the Agora, the marketplace. As you go into the marketplace (the marketplace is a huge arena where you buy, sell, and trade), on the outskirts within the city, within the walls, the temples, the false gods surround the Agora. In order to get into the Agora to buy, sell, and trade, you had to have a certificate that you had worshiped the pagan gods. 

Does that remind you of anything in the book of Revelation? So now this big archway is created in order that all the citizens would have to travel through the Arch of Palmyra to get to the temple, to worship Baal. In 2015, the jihadist organization called ISIS invaded Palmyra and systematically destroyed the entire city. I mean everything, the two temples were destroyed as well. The Agora and the Arch of Palmyra. That's 2015. One year later, in 2016, a massive mysterious object appeared in New York City. It was covered in a large white covering, hidden from public view, 11 tons of Egyptian marble rising nearly 20 feet from the ground. Then, on September 19th, the massive figure was finally unveiled. The large crowd cheered when they saw the recreation of the Palmyra Arch, the arch that served as the entryway into the temple of Baal.

Now remember, Baal was the god of fertilization and increase, of wealth and prosperity. Now here's the arch, right here in America, New York City, stationed in lower Manhattan at the entrance of the city's financial district. Adjacent to nearby Wall Street, New York Stock Exchange, and the bull of Wall Street. Jonathan Cahn writes, “The Ancient Arch had connected Baal’s temple, with the city's main avenue, the re-created arch stood by New York City's most famous and main avenue, Broadway, the modern equivalent to the great colonnade at Palmyra. So too did the Molten Bull; the two symbols of Baal were joined.” The specific side for the arch may also be significant because it was erected on the grounds of city hall and New York's central seat of government featured it. When the arch was unveiled back in September of 2016, one of the sponsors had the audacity to place a sign there with the name “Baal” written on it. The city's deputy mayor spoke and described the arch as an act of defiance. Interestingly enough, a band played Middle Eastern music that would've been very similar to the sounds played in ancient times at the temple of Baal.

Does that mean everybody was trying to do this on purpose? I'm not saying that at all. I don't know anybody's motivation. I'm simply saying that it's uncanny, isn't it? That the signs of the gods have returned. When the spiritual house has been swept clean, if Christ is not present in the individual or nation, the spirits that previously possessed that house will return sevenfold.

The spirits have returned to the city of man to stake their claim on New York City, the entryway into the financial district, the new gods of America. 

When Baal appears in culture, when he takes center stage, historically speaking, certain things take place. Number one, the people of God turn their hearts away from God and towards something else. Two, the earth is almost always worshiped because man has to worship something. He turns his heart and his mind to the largest thing he knows, which is the universe, and begins to serve the created rather than the creator. In Egypt you have the worship of the sun, the moon, the stars, those are very popular. Even the Greeks and the Romans worship the Greek gods that represent some type of constellation. Third, man is relegated to animal level. When Baal comes back, man is no more than an animal. There's no uniqueness to him, no ultimate restrictions, no ultimate worth. The purpose of living is to give into all your animal lust. That's only to be accepted and encouraged. There's no higher standard, no reason. But here's the fourth one: you know Baal has returned when man's ultimate pursuit becomes prosperity and pleasure.

How do you know that the demonic forces have deceived you? Your God is money. You serve, worship, and trust in money. If you have it, you're happy. If you don't, you're miserable. When you wake up in the morning and your first thought is, how can I get more of this stuff? You're willing to sacrifice your marriage for it. You'll sacrifice your children for it. You'll violate your own ethics to get more of it. Because only when you have more of it, do you feel worthy. You believe deep inside that unless you drive a certain type of car and live in a certain type of community or house, that your life has no real meaning to it. The reason you feel that way is because your god is money. The demonic forces behind the fall of America and the West use it as their primary tool: distraction by affluence. How many times have you heard me say that since I've been here? What does that mean? We pray God bless America, God bless America, and He did. Then what do we do? We take those blessings and we worship them. It's time for you, the church, to wake up. 

We got to become spiritually woke.

Guess what Jesus says is the ultimate test: “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." 

What's He saying? Jesus is not laying down some kind of law to tell you if you don't do this then He’s going to get you. 

He's giving you a scripture to help you determine who you really are.

The further you move away from God, the less generous you become. The more self-centered you become, the more narcissistic you become, the more stuff you accumulate, the bigger houses you build. But Jesus said in Luke 12, “‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you prepared for yourself?’ This is how it will be with whoever stores up things for themselves but is not rich toward God.” The closer you get to God, the more generous you become. You become less self-centered, less narcissistic, less about accumulation. You take less selfies. And, somewhere along the line, you finally say enough is enough.

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About the Author
Pastor Jeff Vines is the Lead Pastor of ONE&ALL Church. He spent twenty years on the mission field (Zimbabwe, New Zealand) planting churches and training leaders. Jeff is the author of Dinner with SKEPTICS: Defending God in a World that Makes No Sense (2008, 2011) and Unbroken: 8 Enduring Promises God Will Keep (2012). Jeff and his wife, Robin, have been married over 30 years and enjoy life with their kids Delaney & Sian, their daughter-in-law Jessica and sweet grandchildren Ada, Owen, & Layla.

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