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    APOSTASY FROM JEHOVAH-WORSHIP TO SUNWORSHIP

    Of Constantine’s devotion to the sun, and through it to himself and his own interests, more will be said later. We wish now to call attention to the fact that the universality of sun-worship, as it has been brought before us, settles it beyond a doubt that in every age it was sun-worship especially that disputed with the true worship of Jehovah for the allegiance of mankind. When the people of God apostatized from him, it was always some form of sun-worship that seduced them. When Job would plead his peculiar uprightness, he urges the fact that he had never worshiped the sun or the moon. He says:—SOOCC 25.1

    “If I beheld the sun when it shined, or the moon walking in brightness, and my heart hath been secretly enticed, or my mouth hath kissed my hand, this also were an iniquity to be punished by the Judge; for I should have denied the God that is above.” Job 31:26-28.SOOCC 25.2

    Kissing the hand was a common act of reverence to the gods. In the “Octavius,” of Minucius Felix, chapter 2 (see Christian Literature Company’s Edition of “Ante-Nicene Fathers,” vol. 4, p. 173), the writer, in speaking of a walk which he and his friend were taking on the banks of the Tiber, says: “Caecilius, observing an image of Serapis, raised his hand to his mouth, as is the custom of the superstitious common people, and pressed a kiss on it with his lips.” It is from this custom that we get our word “adore,” Latin ad orem—to the mouth.SOOCC 25.3

    We have seen that sun-worship was the State religion of the Egyptians; and the golden calf which the Israelites made and worshiped when they thought they were deprived of their leader, shows how firm a hold Egyptian idolatry had upon them. In their long sojourn in Egypt they had largely forgotten the true God, and the fact that they were slaves would render it difficult, if not impossible, for those who held Him in remembrance to worship Him. The Psalmist tells us that God “brought forth His people with joy, and His chosen with gladness; ...that they might observe His statutes, and keep His laws.” Psalm 105:43-45. This they could not do in Egypt.SOOCC 26.1

    The warnings to the Israelites were mostly against some of the abominations connected with sun-worship, showing that their danger lay all on that side.SOOCC 26.2

    When Balak, king of the Moabites, was unable to accomplish anything against the Israelites by the intended curses of Balaam, he easily weakened them by the seductive arts of the worship of Baal, the sun-god. “And Israel joined himself unto Baal-peor; and the anger of the Lord was kindled against Israel.” Numbers 25:3. Concerning Baal-peor see the quotation from the “Encyclopedia Britannica,” on pp. 15, 16.SOOCC 26.3

    After the division of the kingdom, Jeroboam set up two calves of gold, one at Bethel and one at Dan, so that the people might worship them, and thus be kept from going to the temple of the Lord, at Jerusalem. “And this thing became a sin; for the people went to worship before the one, even unto Dan.” 1 Kings 12:30. This, like the worship of the golden calf in the wilderness, was the worship of the sun under the form of Apis. So completely did this form of religion seduce the people of the kingdom of Israel from the worship of the true God, that it resulted at last in the utter destruction of the nation, according to the word of the prophet of God: “For the Lord shall smite Israel, as a reed is shaken in the water, and He shall root up Israel out of this good land, which He gave to their fathers, and shall scatter them beyond the river, because they have made their groves [ashera, sun-images], provoking the Lord to anger.” 1 Kings 14:15.SOOCC 26.4

    Rehoboam, king of Judah, did likewise, building pillars and Asherim, and causing the people to do “according to all the abominations of the nations which the Lord cast out before the children of Israel.” 1 Kings 14:21-24. Compare the quotation on p. 20.SOOCC 27.1

    But it would be tedious to recount all the instances of Israelitish apostasy from God to the ever-present sun-worship. We can only refer to a few instances. Ahab did more than any other king to cause Israel to sin, so that in his day there were only seven thousand loyal Israelites who had not bowed the knee to Baal, nor kissed him. 1 Kings 16:30-33; 19:18. Ahaziah, his son, followed in his steps. 1 Kings 22:51-53. See also 2 Kings 16:2-4; 17:6-18.SOOCC 27.2

    As for the kingdom of Judah, after Israel had been scattered, we read that Manasseh “reared up altars for Baal, and made a grove, as did Ahab king of Israel; and worshiped all the host of heaven, and served them.... And he built altars for all the host of heaven in the two courts of the house of the Lord.” 2 Kings 21:3-5, and onward.SOOCC 28.1

    Later on, King Josiah effected a reformation, and brought the people for a time back to the worship of the true God. “And he put down the idolatrous priests, whom the kings of Judah had ordained to burn incense in the high places in the cities of Judah, and in the places round about Jerusalem; them also that burned incense unto Baal, to the sun, and to the moon, and to the planets [margin, “twelve signs, or constellations;” see above concerning Hercules], and to all the host of heaven.... And he took away the horses that the kings of Judah had given to the sun, at the entering in of the house of the Lord, by the chamber of Nathanmelech the chamberlain, which was in the suburbs, and burned the chariots of the sun with fire.” 2 Kings 23:5-11. See also verses 13, 14. Surely the apostasy of Israel had been great; and notice that it was sun-worship in its various forms that seduced them from the worship of Jehovah.SOOCC 28.2

    Even after the terrible experience of the siege of Jerusalem, those who remained in the city did not forsake their sun-worship. The prophet Ezekiel was given a view of the abominations that they were committing, which he describes in chapter 8. He beheld them practicing abominable rites in the temple, weeping for Tammuz, the Assyrian Adonis, and lastly, greatest of all the abominations, worshiping the sun. “Then said he unto me, Hast thou seen this, O son of man? turn thee yet again, and thou shalt see greater abominations than these. And he brought me into the inner court of the Lord’s house, and, behold, at the door of the temple of the Lord, between the porch and the altar, were about five and twenty men, with their backs toward the temple of the Lord, and their faces toward the east; and they worshiped the sun toward the east.” Verses 15, 16.SOOCC 29.1

    Thus it appears that sun-worship in some phase was the special form of false religion with which in all ancient times the true religion had to contend. Whoever left the worship of the one true God went over to sun-worship, as the one thing that stood ready to receive him, and which existed for the sole purpose of winning souls from their allegiance to the true religion. But since not only in the days of the kingdoms of Judah and Israel, but in every age, even into the Christian era, sun-worship has been the chief form of idolatry, it follows that the church in the days of the apostles, as well as in the days of the prophets, had this foe ever at hand to lure its members to apostasy.SOOCC 29.2

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