Only One Way
The current popularity of ecumenism and interfaith worship obscures the fact that the Bible is an exclusive book and teaches that there is only One True God, and only one way to worship the One True God. You cannot believe the Bible and at the same time support ecumenism and interfaith worship.
Cain and Abel
Since the beginning of Creation there has been a right and wrong way to worship God. This is first illustrated by the story of Cain and Abel, in Genesis 4:1-16. Each of them brought an offering to the Lord. Cain brought an offering of the fruit if the ground, but the Lord rejected it. Abel offered a sheep from his flock, and the Lord accepted it. Cain became angry, but the Lord said to him that if he does what is right, he will be accepted. Cain would not listen to the Lord, and in his anger he killed his brother Abel.
Cain had Abel were both worshipping the One True God, but not in the same way. The Lord required a blood sacrifice as an offering for sin, and an offering of fruit and vegetables was not sufficient (although in the Law of Moses grain and flour are sometimes offered alongside a blood sacrifice).
The Beginning of Idolatry
The first recorded act of idolatry was in Babylon, where they built a tower to "make a name" so that they would not be scattered over the earth. There is no mention of idolatry before this time, even though about 17 centuries had passed since Creation.
Even the Flood was not caused by idolatry, but by sexual sins and violence (Gen. 6:1-13). The "sons of God" who took wives of the "daughters of men", according to Genesis 6:2, might have been fallen angels, by comparison with Job 1:6 and Job 38:7. However, the Jewish literature gives a more straightforward interpretation, that the "sons of God" were noblemen who lived a long life of ease. One of their practices, whenever there was a wedding, was to go to bed with the bride before she was given to her husband. There are also suggestions that women had multiple husbands, and there was paedophilia and bestiality. (Midrash Rabbah - Gen. XXVI:5)
After the Flood, the Babylonians made a "name" (Gen. 11:4) which means they made an idol (Midrash Rabbah - Gen. XXXVIII:8). They did not want to worship the One True God, who is also called "The Name" and is referred to as such by the Jews today, for example when they say "Baruch Ha'Shem" which means "Praise the Name".
One of the sons of Noah was also called "Shem" which means "Name". There were two other sons called Ham and Japheth. In Genesis 3:20-27 there is the story about how Noah planted a vineyard and became drunk with the wine, and was naked in his tent. His son Ham behaved indecently towards him and received a curse. Shem and Japheth went in backwards so they could not see him and covered him with a garment, and they both received a blessing. The blessing for Shem was "Blessed be the Lord God of Shem; and Caanan [the son of Ham] shall be his servant". This is an obvious allusion to the fact that Shem had been named after the One True God who is called "The Name". Japheth's blessing was "God shall enlarge Japheth, and he shall dwell in the tents of Shem; and Caanan shall be his servant". The descendants of Ham, who were under a curse, obviously thought they could liberate themselves from their servant status and gain control of their destiny by making a god for themselves.
They didn't just make one god, they made many of them, called Marduk, Ishtar and various other names. From these gods are derived the gods of Egypt, Greece and pagan Rome. Idols are considered to be territorial, so that they have dominion within a given geographical area, and this is probably why the Babylonians thought that by making a "name" they could resist being scattered over the earth. Their efforts failed and they were still scattered (Gen. 11:8). Their efforts to create a one-world super-religion also came to nothing. They were all of "one language and one speech", meaning they not only understood each other linguistically, but they had a common world-view that enabled them to co-operate, in the same way that pagans and inter-faith worshippers can co-operate today. When they were scattered, they formed a variety of disparate tribal groups that were frequently at war with each other, but still created their own tribal gods, derived from the ones that originated in Babylon.
The Caananites were descended from Caanan, the son of Ham, and after the dispersion they lived in the land of Caanan, which later became known as the land of Israel after it had been conquered by the Israelites. The Caananites had their own gods which were considered to have territorial influence in the land of Caanan. When Abraham (a descendant of Shem) went there, he took care to find a wife for his son Isaac from his home country of Haran. Similarly, Jacob found his two wives, Leah and Rachel, from his uncle Laban's house in Padan-Aram. They would not take wives from among the Caananites because they knew they would end up worshipping the Caananite gods. Similarly, when the Israelites came out of Egypt and went into the land of Caanan, they were given strict instructions not to intermarry with the Caananites.
When the Israelites were in Egypt, they had far fewer inhibitions about marrying the Egyptian women. Joseph, for example, married Asenath, the daughter of Potipherah, priest of On (Gen. 41:45). Moses married Zipporah, the daughter of the Priest of Midian (Exodus 2:15-21). The reason they could marry Egyptian women was that they did not intend to live permanently in Egypt. They always looked forward to returning to the land of Caanan, taking their Egyptian wives with them, where they would not be able to worship the Egyptian gods. This is why the Lord says, in the first and second commandments:
I am the Lord thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. Thou shalt have no other gods before me. Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth: thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me; and showing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments. (Exodus 20:2-6)
In addition to the ten commandments, there were many laws about how to worship God. This included instructions about offering incense, and a warning that "strange incense" should not be used (Exodus 30:7-9). There are also rules about the use of oil for anointing the tabernacle and for anointing Aaron and his sons. The oil had to be made up by a chemist according to a correct formula and should not be used for any other purpose (Exodus 30:25-38, Exodus 37:29)
On one occasion, two of the sons of Aaron offered incense to the Lord, but it had not been prepared in the correct manner. It was called "strange fire". In response to this, fire went out from the Lord and killed them. (Lev. 10:1-2).
So we can see that God not only requires to be worshipped, exclusively of all other so-called "gods", but that He requires to be worshipped in the correct manner. Even when we know we are worshipping the One True God, we cannot do it however we like.
Immediately after giving the ten commandments, the Lord gave an instruction about how to make an altar of sacrifice. It had to be made of earth or stone, but not of hewn stone, and there should not be steps leading up to it that would cause the priest to expose himself. (Exodus 20:24-26).
They were also commanded that when they went into the land of Caanan, they should destroy all the pagan altars. They were not to set up altars to the Lord anywhere they like, but they should go and offer their sacrifices in the place which the Lord would choose, which was, of course, Jerusalem. They were, however, allowed to set up altars to the Lord in other places if they were distant from Jerusalem and unable to travel there for the festivals. (Deut. 12)
Two obvious benefits were derived from this commandment. One is that the people would be brought together and given a sense of unity, and the other would be that the festivals would be celebrated in an orderly manner and would not become infiltrated with pagan practices.
A violation of this occurred shortly after the division of the kingdom. Rehoboam, the son of Solomon and grandson of David, continued to rule over the tribes of Judah and Benjamin from Jerusalem, but the rebel leader Jeroboam took ten tribes away with him and ruled them from Shechem. To prevent them from going back to Jerusalem to offer sacrifices, he built his own altars at Bethel and Dan, each with a golden calf. He ordained a feast on the fifteenth day of the eighth month, a date which he had chosen himself which did not correspond to any of the festival dates that the Lord had given to Moses. The consequence of this was that a prophet arrived at Bethel and prophesied against the altar while Jeroboam was making an offering of incense. Jeroboam's stretched out his had to take hold of the prophet, but his hand withered. Then he had to beg the prophet to pray for his hand to be restored. (1 Kings 12, 13:1-10).
Israel continued to make sacrifices on pagan altars, and there are repeated references, throughout the books of Kings and Chronicles, to Jeroboam who caused Israel to sin. His motivation was political. He wanted to establish his own system of worship to keep the people away from Jerusalem. Beware of anyone who establishes any system of worship with a political motivation. Many established churches are steeped in politics, not just the politics of their own internal organisation, but national and international politics. Beware of the one-world super-church, or the one-world super-religion, whatever it may be called. They are only in it for themselves.
The Lord gave the Israelites a system of worship that was to be observed at Jerusalem in a prescribed manner. Because of their sins, the Temple was destroyed and they were taken captive into Babylon for 70 years. A remnant returned to Jerusalem, mostly from the tribes of Judah and Benjamin, and rebuilt the Temple, but it was destroyed by the Romans and they were again dispersed for almost 1900 years. Israel was re-established as a nation state in 1948 and many of the Jews have returned, but many are still scattered throughout the world. Some of the Jews have aspirations about rebuilding the Temple and re-establishing the system of sacrifices under the law of Moses, and they might succeed, but not without making huge compromises. It seems unlikely that the Jews will take over the administration of the Temple Mount. It is much more likely that the Temple Mount will become a centre of interfaith worship, ostensibly administered by the United Nations, or maybe the Vatican, but in reality under the control of the Freemasons who operate in secret and have the support of many leading Jews, Muslims and Catholics. Those who really want to observe the Torah would get little satisfaction out of building the Temple alongside a Muslim Mosque and a Masonic Lodge.
How Can We Know The Way?
Thomas saith unto him, Lord, we know not whither thou goest; and how can we know the way? Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. If ye had known me, ye should have known my Father also: and from henceforth ye know him, and have seen him. (John 14:5-7).
For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time. (1 Tim. 2:5-6)
Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us. (1 Cor. 5:7)
There is only One True God, and throughout the entire history of humanity there has only been one correct way to worship the One True God. Not a single word of the Torah has been abolished. Even the law of sacrifice still remains, the only difference being that Yeshua is the sacrifice. He gave himself for us, in Jerusalem, at the time when the Passover lambs were being slaughtered. He rose again, to overcome death, at the Festival of the Firstfruits of the Barley Harvest, so that we would also rise.
But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept. For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ's at his coming. (1 Cor. 15:20-23)
Therefore is does not matter whether or not there is a Temple, even though it would be nice to have one. We already have our salvation, through Yeshua Ha'Mashiach, if we put our trust in Him.
The Return of Yeshua and the Coming Judgement
This is a big subject that would be enough to make a complete article in itself. When Yeshua ascended into heaven, two angels appeared and said:
Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven. (Acts 1:11)
When Yeshua came, almost 2000 years ago, he was Messiah Ben Yusef, who was falsely accused and died on an execution stake. When he comes again, he will be Messiah Ben David and will rule the whole earth for 1000 years from Jerusalem. His immediate action will be to cleanse the earth of all the false religious systems that are derived from Babylon (Rev. 17-18). When the thousand years are over, there will be the final judgement of Satan and his followers, and then there will be a new heaven and a new earth. (Rev. 20-21)
There are many people today, looking forward to the year 2000 in anticipation of a new global consciousness and world peace based on the fusion of political and religious systems. They are completely deluded, unaware that they are perpetuating the system of idolatry that was established at Babylon and has persisted throughout the entire post-deluvian world. Under the guise of peace and social justice, they will become tyrants, condemning anyone who disagrees with them as narrow-minded bigots. My argument is that you can't have it both ways. You can't claim to believe the Bible and at the same time go in for ecumenism and interfaith unity. The only unity worth having is the one that Messiah has given us according to Ephesians 4:3. The other type of unity has been under a curse since it began in Babylon, and will soon meet it's doom.
I am looking forward to the return of Yeshua Ha'Mashiach. I don't know whether it will happen in the year 2000 or at some other time, but I hope it will be soon.