Have you ever wondered why there were so many different gods that people worship? Would it interest you to know they all originated from a single source? In fact, the creation of false gods came about because of the world’s very first despotic leader by the name of Nimrod. And the tower of Babel we read about in Genesis chapter 11? That was all Nimrod’s idea. It was the result of Nimrod stirring up rebellion against God. And not only that, he was the first man to create an empire. Join me in this study about the first man that yielded to the spirit of Antichrist!
The Spirit of Antichrist
Third in a Four-Part Series
by Karen Thompson
Nimrod, a Mighty Hunter Before the Lord
I’d like to introduce you to the world’s very first despot—Nimrod! In this study of Nimrod, you’ll see what the spirit of Antichrist looks like when it manifests in a man. The Bible doesn’t say a lot about Nimrod, just a couple of comments. The first time we hear about Nimrod is in the tenth chapter of Genesis. Genesis chapter 10 contains a list of all the generations that came from Noah and his three sons after the flood: “Now this is the genealogy of the sons of Noah: Shem, Ham, and Japheth. And sons were born to them after the flood”(Gen. 10:1 NKJV).
Then in verse six, we see Ham’s line of descendants from which Nimrod came:
6 And the sons of Ham; Cush, and Mizraim [Egypt], and Phut, and Canaan. 7 And the sons of Cush; Seba, and Havilah, and Sabtah, and Raamah, and Sabtechah: and the sons of Raamah; Sheba, and Dedan. 8 And Cush begat Nimrod: he began to be a mighty one in the earth. 9 He was a mighty hunter before the Lord: wherefore it is said, Even as Nimrod the mighty hunter before the Lord. (Gen. 10:6–9)
In the entire genealogical list, Nimrod is the only person that has personal commentary next to his name. At first glance, the commentary doesn’t seem all that significant. In verse eight, it says he began to be a “mighty one.” And then verse nine calls him a “mighty hunter.” The Bible has a way of recording highly important details in a matter-of-fact way. Though these details about Nimrod are presented in a matter-of-fact way, they point to events that literally changed the earth forever.
In the book entitled The Two Babylons, author Rev. Alexander Hislop explains why the Bible calls Nimrod a mighty hunter and why this skill caused the people to exalt Nimrod to legendary status. Ancient writings discovered in the Middle East reveal fascinating details about Nimrod. After the flood, the wild beasts multiplied more rapidly than the human population, so much so that people lived in constant fear of being attacked by wild animals.
Scripture in Exodus chapter 23 confirms that this sort of threat was real. The threat of animal over population was the very reason why God did not drive out the inhabitants of the Promised Land all at once: “I will not drive them out from before thee in one year; lest the land become desolate, and the beast of the field multiply against thee. By little and little I will drive them out from before thee, until thou be increased, and inherit the land” (Exo. 23:29–30).
Nimrod was, indeed, a mighty hunter. His exploits of hunting down and killing wild beasts lessened the threat of animal attacks on the inhabitants and gained for him their adoration and indebtedness. Nimrod also trained a great number of men with his hunting and killing methods, and they would accompany him on hunting missions. Also, Nimrod was an innovator. For example, he was the first person to breed dogs and leopards for the purpose of hunting. In this way, Nimrod gained notoriety and fame which secured special notation next to his name in the Bible as the mighty hunter before the Lord.
Nimrod also came up with the solution of gathering the scattered nomadic groups to live together in cities to provide greater security from the threat of animal attacks. And it was his idea to surround the cities with outer walls so as to make the inhabitants even more secure, free from having to constantly be on guard. Abandoning their nomadic lifestyles meant they had to give up many of their liberties; however, they were willing to do it because the benefits they got in return made up for whatever liberties they lost. As nomads, they controlled their own lives but were less safe. Living under Nimrod’s rule, they lost liberties but gained security. In this manner, Nimrod built his empire. We can read about the scale of His empire in Genesis chapter 10:
10 And the beginning of his kingdom was Babel, and Erech, and Accad, and Calneh, in the land of Shinar. 11 Out of that land went forth Asshur, and builded Nineveh, and the city Rehoboth, and Calah, 12 And Resen between Nineveh and Calah: the same is a great city. (Gen. 10:10–12)
The beginning of his empire was in Babel, the ancient site where they built the Tower of Babel spoken about in Genesis chapter 11. It would later be known as Babylon. These cities, Babel, Erech, Accad, were all located in the “land of Shinar” which was located in the southern area of what is modern-day Iraq. Nimrod then extended his empire through conquest northward and he built Ninevah, a city named after himself, and Rehoboth-ir, Calah and Resen. These cities were all located in the northern area of what is modern-day Iraq. Nimrod’s empire would later come to be known as the Assyrian Empire.
This brings us to Nimrod’s other legendary status. In The Two Babylons, Rev. Hislop talks about Nimrod having a war-like disposition and how because of this, he changed the “ancient manners.” Nimrod’s passion was conquest and he “carried on war against his neighbors, yet unacquainted with the arts of war.” Nimrod was the first man to go forth with an army for the purpose of conquering other peoples. The men he trained to hunt down wild animals became his army. Their exploits graduated from hunting down animals to hunting down people. Nimrod’s goal was to create a mighty warlike people to achieve his goal of building a great empire. He won every battle for the simple reason that none of his neighbors were yet acquainted with the art of war. The high walls around the city built to keep wild animals out, now protected them against people looking to retaliate against Nimrod.
This is how Nimrod expanded his empire. And he did it against God’s will. You see, Nimrod was an apostate. In addition to freeing men from wild beasts, he took upon himself the task of setting men “free” from the fear of the Lord. We learn more about this aspect of Nimrod from the writings of the Jewish historian, Josephus. Flavius Josephus was a Jew that lived between 37 AD and 100 AD and his writings included the “The Wars of the Jews,” “The Antiquities of the Jews,” and his autobiography “The Life of Flavius Josephus”; all these books are contained in the book entitled The Works of Josephus.
In the “Antiquities of the Jews,” Josephus talks about the apostasy of Nimrod. He explains that the only people on the earth who were alive after the flood were the families of Noah and his three sons—Shem, Japhet, and Ham. This small group of people began to repopulate the earth. After the flood, all Noah’s descendants lived high up in the mountains because they feared another flood, even though God promised He would never flood the earth again. Making themselves an example, Noah’s sons were the first to descend from the mountains and live in the plains. They persuaded the others to follow after them. Eventually they all came down from the mountains and settled in the plain called Shinar. The name Shinar means “country of two rivers,” and it was located in the southern portion of modern-day Iraq.
When their numbers began to increase, God commanded them to leave the land of Shinar and move out into the different lands for the purpose of peopling the whole earth. But Nimrod didn’t want them to obey God’s command. He had an agenda. He was the ruler of an empire, and if the people obeyed God and went out into all the earth, his kingdom would shrink. He reasoned the only way he could keep the people from being obedient to God was to turn them away from God. He started by planting lies in their minds.
He told them their prosperity was not due to the favor and blessing of God, but rather, they were prosperous because their numbers were so great. He told them God’s motive for wanting them to go out in colonies was to make them weaker, to easily oppress them. Their security, he said, was to stay in large groups—under his rulership. He gradually changed the government into a tyranny, with him, of course, as the despot.
He slowly cultivated the mindset that God was their enemy, someone they needed to protect themselves against should He ever try to destroy them again. He said devotion to God was a weakness. They were to believe in themselves, in their own talents and abilities.
His apostasy culminated into a monumental display of rebellion. He told the people he had a plan that would avenge their ancestors killed in the flood, and his plan would offer protection from God should He ever try to flood the earth again. His plan was to build a tower so high that the waters could never reach the top of it. I’m talking, of course, about the Tower of Babel. We learn about it in Genesis chapter 11:
1 And the whole earth was of one language, and of one speech. 2 And it came to pass, as they journeyed from the east, that they found a plain in the land of Shinar; and they dwelt there. 3 And they said one to another, Go to, let us make brick, and burn them thoroughly. And they had brick for stone, and slime had they for morter. 4 And they said, Go to, let us build us a city and a tower, whose top may reach unto heaven; and let us make us a name, lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth. (Gen. 11:1–4)
All the people were one group and spoke one language and they built a city called Babel. The city and tower confirm Nimrod’s scheme to live together in large cities and to build the tower in defiance to God. Notice also that their motive contained an element of pride and nationalism—“let us make a name for ourselves.” This tower was open rebellion toward God for it was in defiance to His command to move out in groups to populate the whole earth. In the next few verses, we see that God stepped in and put a stop to their tower building.
5 And the Lord came down to see the city and the tower, which the children of men builded. 6 And the Lord said, Behold, the people is one, and they have all one language; and this they begin to do: and now nothing will be restrained from them, which they have imagined to do. 7 Go to, let us go down, and there confound their language, that they may not understand one another’s speech. 8 So the Lord scattered them abroad from thence upon the face of all the earth: and they left off to build the city. 9 Therefore is the name of it called Babel; because the Lord did there confound the language of all the earth: and from thence did the Lord scatter them abroad upon the face of all the earth. (Gen. 11:5–9)
God put an end to the rebellion by confusing their speech. Before this, all the people shared a common language. All of a sudden, different groups of families began to speak different languages. No one could understand each other, which brought the work on the tower to an end. What a clever way to end the rebellion and to force them to be obedient to His command to move out into the earth into different groups. It worked.
The Birth of Idolatry
In The Two Babylons, Rev. Hislop said in reading the texts of ancient historians, they all pointed to the primitive empire of Babel as being the “primal” source from which all systems of idolatry began. Idolatry was another aspect of Nimrod’s plan to turn the people away from the worship of the one true God. He introduced false gods to them. He elevated himself to god status, and he is known by several god titles. He is most commonly referred to in the Bible as Baal and Tammuz. As the people were forced to migrate to other areas of the earth, they carried with them these systems of false gods and idolatry.
In Revelation chapter 17, a city called Babylon is referred to as “the mother of harlots and of the abominations of the earth.” This name reflects the sin of idolatry. During the great tribulation, God will pour out His wrath upon this city called Babylon, and it will be utterly destroyed. The destruction of Babylon will bring to an end the system of idolatry in the earth. Upon the Second Coming of King Messiah, the earth will be cleansed from all forms of idolatry and false gods.
We see in the first book of the Bible in Genesis, the beginning of idolatry began in Babylon. Then we see in the last book of the Bible in Revelation, idolatry is brought to an end in the destruction of Babylon. Thus we see the system of idolatry and false gods coming full circle—beginning and ending in the same place.
Nimrod, the First of Many to Follow
Nimrod was the first man in the Bible to yield to the evil influence that covers the earth, the spirit of Antichrist. He yielded himself to the “prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience” (Eph. 2:2 NKJV). He took on the very attributes we saw in Satan in his active rebellion against God. Like Satan, he had a lust to rule over and dominate the kingdom of men. Like Satan, he rebelled against God. Like Satan, he questioned God’s word to them. Like Satan, he used lies and deception to influence people to fall in line with him, to turn God into an enemy. Like Satan, he was full of pride and exalted himself to the status of god.
In the subsequent millennia, countless numbers of men have followed after Nimrod. Most did not rise to his status but many surpassed him, building even greater empires. All of them fell under the influence of the “god of this world,” and all of them exhibited his same character qualities and his same patterns of behavior.
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