Cross Reverence in Babylon

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Recently, the number of heavenly family members who realize the truth and come to Zion has been noticeably increasing. Almost everyone who visits the Church of God for the first time mentions one thing; they cannot find any cross in our church.

It is very common for people to associate the cross with Christian churches. However, the saints of the early Church, established by Jesus, neither erected the cross nor taught that the cross should be revered as an object or a symbol of faith.

The History of Cross Reverence

Nowadays, most Christian churches put crosses on steeples and use them to decorate the interior of the church, so most people associate the cross with Christianity. Let us find out when crosses started to appear in the church.

It is recorded in Christian history that crosses started appearing on the walls inside the church in A.D. 431, and on church steeples around A.D. 568. It was more than 400 years after Jesus completed His ministry and ascended to Heaven that people began using crosses in the church.

We cannot find a single verse in the Bible teaching Christians to use the cross in the church. Neither the apostles, who were taught directly by Jesus, nor the saints of the early Church ever erected the cross or taught that it should be revered. The cross appeared in the church after the Apostolic Age, when the church became corrupt and secularized by accepting pagan rituals.

We can trace the origin of the cross to ancient Babylon. Babylonians worshiped Tammuz and used the first letter of his name “T” as a religious symbol. This custom soon spread to Egypt, and today, images of crosses can still be found in the hands of Egyptian gods on ancient wall paintings and on the tombs of their kings. The custom of setting up crosses even spread to ancient Assyria and Rome, thereby influencing their religious practices. Long before Christianity existed in Rome, pagan priests wore crosses around their necks. Moreover, the cross was placed in front of tombs as a talisman for the dead and used as an execution tool in Rome as well as in many other nations.

When we look at the historical records of the Spaniards who conquered Mexico, we can see that they were astonished to discover a cross in an ancient Aztec temple where Christianity had not yet been introduced. Through this, we can easily understand that cross reverence is not a biblical teaching. The cross was revered by pagans long before it was ever used as a symbol of Christianity.

The Prophetic Relationship Between Moses and Jesus

God has warned us against worshiping the cross through the history of Israel. Let us study the prophecy about it through the Bible.

Moses and Jesus are connected through prophecy. Since there is a prophetic relationship between Moses and Jesus, by studying the work of Moses we can understand how Jesus would suffer and die on the cross.

The LORD your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among your own brothers. You must listen to him. Dt 18:15

Let us find out who the “prophet like [Moses]” is, as written in Deuteronomy, by looking at the corresponding verse.

“[A]nd that he may send the Christ, who has been appointed for you—even Jesus. He must remain in heaven until the time comes for God to restore everything, as he promised long ago through his holy prophets. For Moses said, ‘The LORD your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among your own people; you must listen to everything he tells you. Anyone who does not listen to him will be completely cut off from among his people.’ Indeed, all the prophets from Samuel on, as many as have spoken, have foretold these days.” Ac 3:20–24

The words written in Deuteronomy, “I will raise up for you a prophet like me,” are also written in the book of Acts. This prophet refers to Jesus. It is also written: “All the prophets from Samuel on, as many as have spoken, foretold these days.” Through this verse, we can understand that all the prophets of the Bible prophesied about the coming of Jesus, our Savior. By His appearance, all the prophecies reached their fulfillment.

The relationship between Moses and Jesus is like that of shadow and reality. The work of Moses provides significant prophetical clues about how Jesus Christ would accomplish the gospel work. Let us understand how the work of Moses applies to Jesus, by looking at a prophecy about His crucifixion.

The Amalekites came and attacked the Israelites at Rephidim. Moses said to Joshua, “Choose some of our men and go out to fight the Amalekites. Tomorrow I will stand on top of the hill with the staff of God in my hands.” So Joshua fought the Amalekites as Moses had ordered, and Moses, Aaron and Hur went to the top of the hill. As long as Moses held up his hands, the Israelites were winning, but whenever he lowered his hands, the Amalekites were winning. When Moses’ hands grew tired, they took a stone and put it under him and he sat on it. Aaron and Hur held his hands up—one on one side, one on the other—so that his hands remained steady till sunset. So Joshua overcame the Amalekite army with the sword. Ex 17:8–13

In the battle against Amalek, Israel was winning whenever Moses’ arms were lifted up. On the other hand, when Moses’ arms were lowered, Amalek was winning. Israel was victorious in the end because Moses’ arms remained lifted up throughout the battle. This is a prophecy showing that the spiritual Israelites, who are enchained by Satan, will be victorious in the end and receive the blessings of the forgiveness of sins and eternal life through Jesus’ being lifted up on the cross (Jn 12:31–33; Rev 12:9).

The Bronze Snake and the Cross

The Bible records another incident in Moses’ life, which is related to Jesus’ crucifixion. This incident happened while Moses was leading the Israelites, during their journey through the desert to the land of Canaan flowing with milk and honey.

. . . they spoke against God and against Moses, and said, “Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the desert? There is no bread! There is no water! And we detest this miserable food!” Then the LORD sent venomous snakes among them; they bit the people and many Israelites died. The people came to Moses and said, “We sinned when we spoke against the LORD and against you. Pray that the LORD will take the snakes away from us.” So Moses prayed for the people. The LORD said to Moses, “Make a snake and put it up on a pole; anyone who is bitten can look at it and live.” So Moses made a bronze snake and put it up on a pole. Then when anyone was bitten by a snake and looked at the bronze snake, he lived. Nu 21:4–9

The Israelites poured out their complaints to God and to Moses because they had to take the longer route to Canaan. God was enraged and sent venomous snakes among the people. Then the Israelites repented and Moses pleaded with God to save the people. God instructed Moses to make a bronze snake and put it up on a pole to save those who were bitten by venomous snakes. Anyone who looked at the bronze snake in obedience to the word of God could miraculously live.

From that time, the Israelites began to revere the bronze snake because of the miracle they had experienced, mistakenly thinking that it had some kind of spiritual power. The Israelites failed to realize that the actual reason they could live, though bitten by a snake, was because God said, “Anyone who is bitten can look at it and live.” They worshiped the bronze snake until the time of Hezekiah because they mistakenly believed that it had saved them.

He did what was right in the eyes of the LORD, just as his father David had done. He removed the high places, smashed the sacred stones and cut down the Asherah poles. He broke into pieces the bronze snake Moses had made, for up to that time the Israelites had been burning incense to it. (It was called Nehushtan.) Hezekiah trusted in the LORD, the God of Israel. There was no one like him among all the kings of Judah, either before him or after him. He held fast to the LORD and did not cease to follow him; he kept the commands the LORD had given Moses. And the LORD was with him; he was successful in whatever he undertook . . . 2 Ki 18:3–7

It is written in the Bible that after celebrating the Passover, Hezekiah broke into pieces all the idols, along with the bronze snake, which he and the Israelites had served unwittingly. For about 800 years from the time of Moses until Hezekiah, they had continuously worshiped the bronze snake.

God greatly blessed Hezekiah and complimented him, saying, “He held fast to the LORD and did not cease to follow him; he kept the commands the LORD had given Moses.” What if smashing the bronze snake was not God’s will? Hezekiah would have been punished and failed to receive God’s blessing. However, we can see that God greatly blessed Hezekiah and protected the kingdom of Judah which he ruled over. After some time, God sent an angel to destroy 185,000 Assyrian soldiers, who came to attack the cities of Judah, in a single night (2 Ki 19:34–35).

The Israelites worshiped the bronze snake from the time of Moses until Hezekiah because of their wrong belief that the bronze snake had saved them. Did the bronze snake possess some miraculous power to save them? Not at all. The Israelites were saved by God’s word, “Anyone who is bitten can look at it and live,” not by a mere piece of bronze in the shape of a snake.

“. . . Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the desert, so the Son of Man must be lifted up.” Jn 3:12–14

It is written that the Son of Man must be lifted up just as Moses lifted up the snake in the desert. Since they have the relationship of shadow and reality, it is clear that Moses’ lifting up the bronze snake is linked to Jesus’ being lifted up on the cross.

The Israelites forgot the power of God’s word and worshiped the bronze snake for many generations. Likewise, people who claim to believe in God have been worshiping the cross for nearly 2,000 years. It is Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross that saves us, not the wooden cross itself. The cross was a Roman execution tool used to inflict suffering upon Jesus Christ. As true believers, we must completely remove and destroy the cross from our life of faith, just as Hezekiah broke into pieces the bronze snake.

In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace[.] Eph 1:7

The Bible teaches that we are forgiven of our sins by the blood of Jesus. The cross itself can never give us salvation or forgiveness of sins, but it is only the sacrificial blood of Christ shed on the cross that saves us.

Crosses Are Merely Wooden Idols

The Bible explains about the cross as follows:

. . . This is what the LORD says: “Do not learn the ways of the nations or be terrified by signs in the sky, though the nations are terrified by them. For the customs of the peoples are worthless; they cut a tree out of the forest, and a craftsman shapes it with his chisel. They adorn it with silver and gold; they fasten it with hammer and nails so it will not totter. Like a scarecrow in a melon patch, their idols cannot speak; they must be carried because they cannot walk. Do not fear them; they can do no harm nor can they do any good.” Jer 10:1–5

The cross is merely an object shaped by the hands of men and is described as a scarecrow in a melon patch. God told us not to fear idols because they can do no harm nor can they do any good.

A cross is nothing more than a tree before it is cut and shaped by men. For this reason, the Bible emphasizes that the cross is not a source of salvation or something holy, but rather a mere idol. Then, what will happen to those who set up the cross?

“Cursed is the man who carves an image or casts an idol—a thing detestable to the LORD, the work of the craftsman’s hands—and sets it up in secret.” Then all the people shall say, “Amen!” Dt 27:15

The one who makes idols and sets them up in secret will be cursed by God. Those who are cursed cannot receive salvation. If someone believes that crosses on church steeples, on walls, and on rings and necklaces have the power to protect them, can they be saved? No, because they have forgotten the sacrifice of Christ. According to the Bible, every place where the cross is set up will be a place of punishment, and those who worship it will be cursed.

What would Jesus think if He came down from Heaven and saw numerous crosses on top of church steeples? He would certainly ask, “Why are idols, which I told you not to make, on top of all these churches?” The presence of the cross will serve as conclusive evidence that the people in the churches have been worshiping other gods.

The cross is a detestable idol which must be removed from those who truly believe in God. Since the cross is associated with worship of the sun god, it must not be used as a symbol to worship God. We believe in Christ, who was sacrificed on the cross for us. The cross itself is meaningless to us. For this reason, we cannot find any cross in the Church of God that follows all of God’s teachings. I hope all our heavenly family members in Zion will enter the eternal Kingdom of Heaven by following the Lamb wherever He leads us.