“Imagine a festival in honour of Jesus in which almost every country on earth officially participated; with a worldwide Jesus march welcomed by prime ministers, the media and cheering masses, sponsored to the tune of €1 billion by corporate sponsorship; with ceremonies presided by leading pastors, and hymns and prayers to Jesus sung by Christians, Hindus, Buddhists, Muslims and atheists from all over the world; that the name of any other god was banned from the ceremonies; and that a solemn covenant was made between all the peoples of the earth and Jesus Christ!
“We would call that a worldwide revival, the fulfilment of the Revelation scenario of all peoples before the throne of Jesus.
“The stark reality is that such an event is about to happen – only the central figure is not Jesus, but the deity of Zeus of Olympia. The Athens Olympics is expected to involve almost every country on earth, with a worldwide torch run met by prime ministers, media, and cheering masses; sponsored to the tune of €1 billion by corporate sponsorship; with ceremonies presided by pagan priests and priestesses, and hymns and prayers to Zeus sung by Christians, Hindus, Buddhists, Muslims and atheists from all over the world; with the name of the True God banned from the ceremonies; and resulting in a solemn covenant between the peoples of the earth and the Prince of Greece!”
So began Randal Weidenaar of the YWAM Games Outreach team, in an address to 200 YWAM leaders from across Europe recently in Greece. A bit over the top? Maybe. Or maybe not. Randal certainly had my attention – and that of most of my colleagues – as he explained more about the significance of the upcoming games. My own recent journey of discovery regarding the insidious and all-pervasive Greek spirit I have written about in w e e k l y w o r d s recently made me listen with an open mind to something I might have otherwise quickly dismissed as superspiritual and conspiratorial.
The Olympics of course are fun and entertaining, a positive way for nations to meet and build friendship and foster peace. During the ancient Olympics, all wars ceased. Surely this is something all Christians can welcome and embrace. Since 1972, YWAM has welcomed the Olympic Games as strategic opportunities to reach out to the gathered peoples of the world, many from difficult access countries.
But the Athens Olympics represent a homecoming of the ancient festival, originally understood by all to be in honour of the god Zeus. Randal explained the pagan spiritual legacy in order to propose an appropriate response for Christians.
The Games began in 738 BC, dedicated to the god known for rape, murder and pedophilia. It was Zeus, disguised as a bull, who abducted and raped Europa, as depicted on the Greek two euro coin and by the statue outside the European Commission building in Brussels. One of the seven wonders of the ancient world, a colossal ivory and gold statue of Zeus, was located in Olympia. Sacrifices were made to this idol before and during the festival. Pagan priests presided over hundreds of sacrifices to Zeus during each Olympiad. Huge financial gifts were made by cities from all over the ancient world competing to see who could gain the favour of Zeus. In 168 BC, Antiochus Epiphanies sacrificed swine to Zeus of Olympia and then poured the blood of the sacrifice in the Holy of Holies. When later the temple of God was destroyed in 70 AD, in its place was built a temple to Zeus.
The Games continued for a whole millennium before the early church, once in power, banned them as pagan activities.
The Frenchman who revived the games in 1896, Pierre de Coubertin, said: ‘The name [Olympics] imposed itself: it was impossible to find another.’ De Coubertin also said that the Olympics name would “impart to [the athletes] a halo of grandeur and glory that is the patronage of classical antiquity.” At the age of 69 De Coubertin died of a heart attack and his heart was removed from his body and enshrined in an obelisk on the temple grounds of Olympia, Greece.
This month, on March 25th, the Olympic flame will be lit again by focussed sunlight in the traditional pagan ceremony, presided over by the pagan high priestess, Thaleia Prokopiou. At the cost of €20 million, this flame is then to be taken around the world to all former Olympic host cities, as well as other strategic cities, before returning for the Games.
Randal believes this spiritual Torch Run will “effectively renew the covenants that these cities have made with this principality. This sacred flame will be the most honored altar flame in history. Never before has the altar of a pagan deity been so honored and so welcomed by the entire globe.”
He quotes a Greek Olympic official as saying that the 2004 Greek Olympics will be characterized by pagan revivalism, with priestesses presiding over the Games. The opening ceremony will start with a hymn in praise of Zeus. Randal’s own five year old daughter is being taught to sing this hymn in kindergarten:
Ancient immortal spirit, unsullied father of that which is beautiful, great and true,
Descend, make thyself known and shine here on this earth and below these skies, witness of Thy Glory.
Illuminate the endeavor of the noble contests in the running race, the wrestling and the throwing.
Place a wreath of evergreen branch, creating the body as of iron and worthy.
Vales, mountains and oceans shine with Thee
Like unto a great temple of white and porphyry.
To which all peoples hasten to this temple to worship Thee,
Oh ancient immortal Spirit.
So what are we to make of all this?
In the first place, let’s recognise that the Bible takes spiritual powers and idolatry very seriously. Our modern rationalistic upbringing may influence us to think this is all mythological nonsense. Apparently the Greek organisers are taking it seriously too.
Randal warns of the possibility of a “real satanic agenda, to bring the people of the world knowingly or unknowingly, as the Olympic hymn states, to the temple of this demonic spirit to worship and honour him. We must conclude that a casual response is not one open to the kingdom-minded Christian.”
Prayer and evangelism are two main responses, he suggests, “to silence the enemy by declaring the purposes of God through worship, prayer and evangelism.” Randal challenged us all to make a special day of prayer for the Olympics on March 25th, as the flame is lit, to counter the strategies of darkness and proclaim God’s glory among the nations.
He suggests the following guidelines:
* Seek the specific strategy and guidance of the Holy Spirit.
* Pray for unity for the Church in Greece.
* Pray for those involved in the Olympic outreach. Hundreds of people, churches and organizations will be involved in outreaches around Greece during the Games. Pray for their safety physically and spiritually. Pray for strength and wisdom of those involved in this massive organizational task.
* Pray that God would turn this event from the glory of Zeus to the glory of God. In the 1972 Olympic games God did just that after the assassination of Israeli team members by terrorists. Christians were asked to march for peace through the streets of Munich. Sports spectators and athletes were open to the gospel.
* Pray for an opening of ears as participants from closed countries participate. Pray that they can be reached with the gospel.
* Seek God’s strategy as to how to pray as the Olympic torch is run through your area some time in the next months.
* Ask God for faith, revelation and strategies so that the 2004 Olympics be a significant opportunity to advance the kingdom of God.
However much you agree or disagree with Randal, there’s not much to disagr
ee with in this prayer list.
Let’s do it!
Till next week,
rther information, including
the power point presentation Randal gave to the YWAM Europe leaders, see www.ywamconnect.com/sites/YWAMGO/Presentation
Till next week,