Isaiah 46 – Babylon’s Idols and the Lord & The Virgin Birth

I can certainly understand why people may have a hard time believing Jesus had been born of a virgin because that’s just not how it works here on Earth.  But You guys aren’t from here.

“Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world…” (Jn 18:36).

Bel of Palmyra
A god named Bel was the chief-god of Palmyra in pre-Hellenistic times, being worshipped alongside the gods Aglibol and Yarhibol.

Originally, he was known as Bol, after the Northwestern Semitic word Ba’al (usually used to refer to the god Hadad), until the cult of Bel-Marduk spread to Palmyra and by 213 BC, Bol was renamed to Bel. The temple of Bel was dedicated to this god.

Mythology
Bel (/ˈbeɪl/; from Akkadian bēlu), signifying “lord” or “master”, is a title rather than a genuine name, applied to various gods in the Mesopotamian religion of Akkad, Assyria and Babylonia.

The feminine form is Belit ‘Lady, Mistress’. Bel is represented in Greek as Belos and in Latin as Belus. Linguistically Bel is an East Semitic form cognate with Northwest Semitic Baal with the same meaning.

Early translators of Akkadian believed that the ideogram for the god called in Sumerian Enlil was to be read as Bel in Akkadian. Current scholarship holds this as incorrect, but one finds Bel used in referring to Enlil in older translations and discussions.

Bel became especially used for the Babylonian god Marduk and when found in Assyrian and neo-Babylonian personal names or mentioned in inscriptions in a Mesopotamian context it can usually be taken as referring to Marduk and no other god.

Similarly Belit without some disambiguation mostly refers to Bel Marduk’s spouse Sarpanit. However, Marduk’s mother, the Sumerian goddess called Ninhursag, Damkina, Ninmah and other names in Sumerian, was often known as Belit-ili ‘Lady of the Gods’ in Akkadian.

Other gods called “Lord” could be and sometimes were identified totally or in part with Bel Marduk. The god Malak-bel of Palmyra is an example, though in the later period from which most of our information comes he seems to have become very much a sun god.

And not only that You created the world:

“In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth” (Gen 1:1).

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God,and the Word was God.

All things were made by him; and without him was not anything made that was made” (Jn 1:1, 3).

So heck yeah, it can be done, You can do anything:

“For with God nothing shall be impossible” (Lk 1:37).

At this time in the Bible it seems pretty radical and violent.  What was it like when Jesus was alive?  Galilee, Jerusalem, and Nazareth?

1 Bel boweth down, Nebo stoopeth, their idols were upon the beasts, and upon the cattle: your carriages were heavy loaden; they are a burden to the weary beast.

“Bel” – another name for Marduk, the chief deity of Babylon.  The name “Bel” is equivalent to Canaanite “Baal” and means “lord.”

“Nebo” – Nabu, the god of learning and writing who was the son of Marduk.

2 They stoop, they bow down together; they could not deliver the burden, but themselves are gone into captivity.

“Gone into captivity” – the idols join their worshipers in exile (see Jer 48:7, 49:3; Hos 10:5; Amos 1:15).

3 Hearken unto me, O house of Jacob, and all the remnant of the house of Israel, which are borne by me from the belly, which are carried from the womb:

“All…the house” – the remnant.

4 And even to your old age I am he; and even to hoar hairs will I carry you: I have made, and I will bear; even I will carry, and will deliver you.

“Bear…carry…deliver” – unlike the helpless idols of vv. 1-2.

5 To whom will ye liken me, and make me equal, and compare me, that we may be like?

6 They lavish gold out of the bag, and weigh silver in the balance, and hire a goldsmith; and he maketh it a god: they fall down, yea, they worship.

7 They bear him upon the shoulder, they carry him, and set him in his place, and he standeth; from his place shall he not remove: yea, one shall cry unto him, yet can he not answer, nor save him out of his trouble.

8 Remember this, and shew yourselves men: bring it again to mind, O ye transgressors.

9 Remember the former things of old: for I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me,

10 Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure:

46:10-11 – “My counsel” – especially God’s purposes and plans regarding the future.  God alone can predict the future with accuracy.

11 Calling a ravenous bird from the east, the man that executeth my counsel from a far country: yea, I have spoken it, I will also bring it to pass; I have purposed it, I will also do it.

“A ravenous bird…east” – Cyrus king of Persia.  The swiftness and power of a bird of prey are in view (see Jer 49:22; cf Dan 8:4).

Nabu or Nebo
Nabu was worshipped by the Babylonians and the Assyrians. Nabu was known as Nisaba in the Sumerian pantheon and gained prominence among the Babylonians in the 1st millennium BCE when he was identified as the son of the god Marduk.

Nabu was worshipped in Babylon’s sister city Borsippa, where his statue was moved to Babylon each New Year so that he could pay his respects to his father.

Nabu’s symbol was a stylus resting on a tablet. Clay tablets with especial calligraphic skill were used as offerings at Nabu’s temple. His wife was the Akkadian goddess Tashmet.

He was the patron god of scribes, literacy, and wisdom. He was also the inventor of writing, a divine scribe, and the patron god of the rational arts. Due to his role as an oracle, Nabu was associated with the Mesopotamian moon god Sin.

Nabu wore a horned cap, and stood with his hands clasped in the ancient gesture of priesthood. He rode on a winged dragon known as Sirrush that originally belonged to his father Marduk. In Babylonian astrology, Nabu was identified with the planet Mercury.

Nabu was continuously worshipped until the 2nd century, when cuneiform became a lost art.

Outside Mesopotamia
Nabu’s cult spread to ancient Egypt. Nabu was one of five non-Egyptian deities worshipped in Elephantine.

In the Bible, Nabu is mentioned as Nebo in Is 46:1 and Jer 48:1. In Hellenistic times, Nabu was identified, and sometimes syncretized, with the Greek god Apollo.

As the god of literacy and wisdom, Nabu was linked by the Romans with Mercury, and by the Egyptians with Thoth.

12 Hearken unto me, ye stouthearted, that are far from righteousness:

“Stouthearted” – or “stubborn-hearted” see Eze 2:4.

13 I bring near my righteousness; it shall not be far off, and my salvation shall not tarry: and I will place salvation in Zion for Israel my glory.

“Righteousness” – here equivalent to salvation.

The Virgin Birth

Here’s a question that I cannot even begin to understand the why it is ever asked, “Do we have to believe in the virgin birth to go to heaven?”

If you believe in Jesus Christ why would you question it?

But to answer the question, yes you do.  To really believe in Jesus, to have faith in Him, here are the three things that you must believe for your faith to be true:

1.  Jesus was born of a virgin,

2.  Jesus died for our sins, and

3.  Jesus was resurrected.

You have to believe in the entire Bible.  Why would God have it written in the Bible if it wasn’t true? 

The exact date of when each book of the Bible was written is not known, they can only be estimated.

Matthew:  between A.D. 40-140;

Mark: between A.D. 55-70;

Luke: before A.D. 62, and

John: between A.D. 85-90. 

All of these books talk about the Virgin Birth.  Isaiah also told about Jesus and the virgin birth (Isa 7:14) and it was written:

Isaiah: between 740-680 B.C.

In case that doesn’t answer the question, let me expound on it a bit.  Jesus was born without sin:

“For he hath made him to be sin for us who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him” (2 Cor 5:21).

“For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin” (Heb 4:15).

“Who did not sin, neither was guile found in his mouth” (1 Pet 2:22).

“Jesus had to be born of a virgin because of Adam and Eve our blood is tainted.  Jesus’ blood was not Mary or Joseph’s, but the Holy Ghost” (Matt 1:20-21).

If you are looking for a scripture that says you have to believe in the virgin birth to be saved:

“Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God:

And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of anti-Christ, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world” (1 Jn 4:2-3).

“So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God” (Rom 8:8).

That scripture means that nobody on earth or ever been on earth, except for Jesus, could please God.  That is why Jesus came down and was crucified and if you believe in who He is then you are no longer in the flesh, but in the spirit and you can please God (Rom 8:1-13).

Remember:

“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him” (Heb 11:1 and 6).