This article discusses 3 reasons why ancient Hebrew worship and pagan worship had certain similarities.The reason it caught our attention was the introduction
There is no doubt that some of the practices of ancient Hebrew worship bear remarkable resemblance to the worship practices of the pagan nations around them. Other nations practiced similar sacrificial systems, had temples and priests, and many scholars note the the idea of covenants established by God with his people is virtually identical to that of other peoples of the ancient near east.
How can we account for these similarities?
Not one of the reasons given by the author of that piece was satisfactory to us or even correct.We know of better reasons why there are similarities and none of our reasons line up with the ones given by that author. But first, we will highlight the reasons he gave and add a few comments. Then we will give our main reason why there are similarities between pagan and Hebrew worship. We will add that these reasons apply to the similarities found between true Christian worship today and cultic/pagan worship conducted by the various false religions of the modern age.
#1. First, some argue that Israel simply borrowed ideas from their neighbors and adapted them
We get upset every time we hear this idea tossed about by scholars and religious people. Why is it that the Israelites copied from the secular world and adopted secular ideas into the worship of God? That makes no sense since God had already given them the instructions on what they needed to do when it came time to worship him. Plus, the Israelites never had a reputation for copying
While it is understood that when the Israelites strayed from God, they followed secular worship practices, there is no record that they brought those practices back into their worship of God when they returned to him. Copying is a non-starter and never a good reason to explain why the Bible reads the way it does or why worship was conducted in a certain manner.
#2. The second possibility, one that accounts for the fact that the people’s worship came by way of divine revelation, says that when God instituted worship forms for Israel, he “contextualized” worship in cultural forms and practices they would understand
Really? God stole from the from those who do not believe in him as he found their worship style superior to his own? This is not even realistic.It also insults the intelligence of the ancient people, which is never a smart thing to do. If you look at the instructions God gave, they were not simplified or borrowed from any religion.
#3. A final possibility, and one that I believe to be the best, says that the similarities exist because the basic elements of worship existed since the beginning of human history.
Why God wrote the Bible the way he did is something we probably will never understand. But one thing we can conclude, is that God walked with Adam and he probably provided worship instructions to him even though they were not recorded. How else could Enoch walk with God if he did not know God’s ways and God let humans figure things out for themselves? How could God see Noah as a righteous man if Noah had not known God’s ways and used human rules to live by?
The verse that records the birth of Seth’s son has the words, this was the time man began to call on God or something similar. God would not leave his people without instructions. He didn’t do that for the Israelites and he didn’t do that for the NT church. Since God does not change, we can conclude that he provided instructions to the pre-flood people and gave them a chance to choose which path they will follow.
God’s style of worship existed in the beginning because he told the people how to worship him.
Now for our reason:
The pagan world copied the Hebrews
This is plausible and most probable because we know that the ancient religions did a lot of copying of the biblical details. Sargon was given Moses’ birth details; Mithras the details of Christ’s birth; then the Egyptian magicians copied Moses and Aaron when they threw down their rods. it wasn’t the other way around. The old Babylonians did have a very great reputation for copying. They copied everybody which leads us to the concluion they copied the flood account and then gave it their pagan twist.
Why would they copy? because the false religions see the success of the true religions and wanted that success for themselves without giving up their lifestyles. In other words, how better to capture unwary people than by copying the worship and other practices of the truth? They can say to non-Hebrews or non-Christians that they are part of the truth and show them the similarities between the faith to back up their claims.
Unwary people not knowing the difference fall for the deception and are hooked. Just like today when so many false religions point to their use of the Bible and claim they are Christian even though their doctrines are not biblical or of God. The best way to trick people is to adopt similarities to the truth. That is why cons are so successful against even smart intelligent people. They contain a lot of truth mixed in with their lies.
That author has a low view of God if he thinks that God could not come up with his own way to be worshipped. Then failed in communicating that style to his own people. Similarities exist because evil is trying to destroy God’s creation. It is not because the Israelites copied anyone or that the same worship style existed from the fall of man.