The internet is famous, or infamous depending on one’s point of view, for turning the proverbial molehill into a mountain. But like most internet-based hoaxes, there is a grain of truth as the catalyst.
Case in point would be the latest mostly debunked web version of an urban myth regarding the recently ISIS destroyed ruins of the Temple of Baal (also translated as Baalim or Belial depending on which ancient Levantine language is used) in Palmyra, Syria. Despite the sensational email making the usual rounds of inboxes and various weblogs, reporter Hazel Torres of the Christianity Today news portal cites on Apr. 6, 2016, managed to sift through the hyperbole to uncover the kernel of truth.
In what was first reported by The Guardian newspaper of Great Britain on Dec. 28, 2015, a joint venture between the Institute for Digital Archaeology, America’s Harvard University, Britain’s University of Oxford, The Museum of the Future in the United Arab Emirates, and the United Nations – UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization), 3D printed replicas of the temple’s seven story tall archway would be erected in both New York City’s Times Square and also in London’s Trafalgar Square. The temporary exposition was described as “a gesture of defiance against religious extremists’ attempts to erase evidence of the Middle East’s pre-Islamic history.”
The Guardian also noted that the ISIS terrorists both destroyed the ruins and then beheaded the 82-year-old Syrian archaeologist who spent the last four decades searching for the ruins. After decapitating Khaled al-Asaad, the Islamic jihadists then hung the corpse of 82-year-old researcher in public, presumably as a warning to those involved in what they consider un-Islamic acts and deeds.
Unfortunately, the story took on a life of its own, even to the point of being picked up by Snopes.com. As Snopes writer Kim LaCapria noted, the viral email in question was determined by her to be “Mostly False” mainly due to the allegations the replicas were permanent and would encourage “child sacrifice and sexual immorality.”
But then enter Christian author Michael Synder. Writing for Charisma News, Synder “wonders whether the arches to be installed would be the giant ‘welcome signs’ for the Antichrist.” Verified by United Press International late last year, “The full-scale replicas, now under construction in China, will stand in London’s Trafalgar Square and New York’s Times Square during World Heritage Week in April 2016.”
With it understood that the displays are advertised as a cultural event rather than a religious one, Snyder does cite the dates of the showings and the religious significance of Baal as at least worthy of the raising of an eyebrow’s worth of concern. While the ancient Hebrews used the name Baal almost 100 times in the Torah/Christian Old Testament, the worship of the pagan god that demanded the blood of children is possibly best known to Christians from the Prophecy Of Jeremias (Jeremiah), 19:4-5; “Because they have forsaken me, and have profaned this place: and have sacrificed therein to strange gods, whom neither they nor their fathers knew, nor the kings of Juda: and they have filled this place with the blood of innocents. And they have built the high places of Baalim, to burn their children with fire for a holocaust to Baalim: which I did not command, nor speak of, neither did it once come into my mind.”
Also noted in the Christian New Testament (The Holy Gospel according to Saint Matthew, 12:27), Jesus refers to Satan as Beelzebub, or more correctly, Ba’al Zebûb. Loosely translated, Ba’al Zebûb in the ancient Hebrew means Lord of the Flies. Other titles such as Great Deceiver, Father of Lies, Great Red Dragon, Belial, and Prince of Darkness have been used by both Christianity and also practitioners of Satanism and the darker side of the Occult for millennia.
According to Snyder, the erection of the replica arches in New York City and London “would coincide with an occult festival related to the worship of a demon named Baal.” Snyder also claims, “April 19 is the first day of a 13-day period of time known as ‘The Blood Sacrifice to the Beast’ that culminates on the high occult holy day of Beltane on May 1. April 19 is also the date of the Feast of Moloch, an ancient Canaanite god that is repeatedly vilified in the Old Testament.”
While skeptics of Snyder’s insinuations may dismiss him out of hand as nothing more than mere religious hysterics, the federal government actually verifies the significance of the dates and names of the Satanic/Occult celebrations Snyder cited. According to the Federal government’s National Criminal Justice Reference Service (NCJRS) seminar “Satanic Cult Awareness” presented by Gayland W. Hurst, Ph.D. and Robert L. Marsh, April 19-26 is Sacrifice Preparation in which either a male or female of any age is kidnapped then held for the celebration’s highlight of human sacrifice.
The NCJRS also verified that April 30 is celebrated as May Eve. On that date the blood sacrifice is made. May 1 is also correctly cited as the festival of Beltane. During this particular high holy day for both Satanists and Occultists, new members are formally initiated into their respective church/coven.