Say the word ‘mermaid’ and these are the images that often come to mind.
For years and years and years, mermaids have been a symbol of beauty and sensuality bringing fantasies to life for many a maritime sailor. Cartoons have portrayed them, folklore has portrayed them, motion pictures have portrayed them. As a matter of fact, it would be an anomaly indeed to find someone who has not seen or heard about the mermaid.
It seems to be in recent years that there has been a resurgence of the love affair people have had through the ages with the mermaid. Toys such as dolls and plush animals have made their way to the top of the ‘must have’ list and the new (or not so new, really) aquatic fin ‘tails’ have bombarded the scene demanding attention from most every little girl (and not so little girl) in the world. Girls everywhere are eager with anticipation to have one of these ‘tails’ so they too can pretend to be a mysterious and beautiful half fish/half girl who is capable of bringing fairytales to life.
All of this seems perfectly innocent and “fun”. Why not let our imaginations run wild so we can “pretend” to be anything we want to be. After all, developing the imagination is a good thing and much encouraged as children grow older. Surely we cannot stifle that, can we?
Before we continue, I want to take a moment to remind us all of a very important passage of scripture that we easily forget – or jump over in order to claim ignorance as an excuse:
“My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge; because you [the priestly nation] have rejected knowledge, I will also reject you that you shall be no priest to Me; seeing you have forgotten the law of your God, I will also forget your children.” – Hosea 4:6
Most often this verse is interpreted to mean that people die, perish, of suffer because they lacked knowledge to know how to live in a way to avoid harmful consequences. However, a correct study of this verse really means that GOD destroys people – He turns them over to calamity and unfavorable outcomes – because they REFUSE to acquire the knowledge to live a life that eliminates negative consequences. (Read it again and really pay attention.) God is not pleased when His children purposely turn an eye to knowledge that is laid out before them in an effort to “claim ignorance” as a vice to sin. When God’s people refuse to educate themselves for fear they will have to cut certain pleasures out of their lives if their new-found knowledge enlightens them of the displeasure certain activities bring God, His anger is aroused and He turns them over to destruction – spiritual death – and allows calamity to come upon their children. I do not know about you, but that gives me greater cause to “study that I might be approved” (II Timothy 2:15).
So, what does all of this have to do with mermaids you ask? A LOT.
Many people are not aware of where mermaids come from. Why should it bother them or why should they even care? Mermaids are make-believe figures that have brought entertainment and pleasant stories for centuries. Innocent, right? They make for cute stuffed toys and look adorable plastered on walls and setting atop dressers and night tables. Little girls beautifully adorned in fin tails look stunning. Life is to be enjoyed, so why not do the little ‘innocent’ things that bring a smile, right?
Well, before you get too comfortable in that position let me tell you where the mermaid derives from.
Remember a guy named Jonah? Yeah, that is the one! The one who was swallowed by a great fish and spit up on the shore near the Assyrian city of Nineveh. God had called Jonah to go and warn Nineveh of their impending doom as God was giving them over to destruction because of their worship of the pagan god Dagon. * Dagon was the Assyrian god of fertility (hence the reason the mermaid represents sensuality and seductiveness) and was nicknamed the “fish god”. ((This is why God chose a ‘fish’ to swallow Jonah – a symbolic gesture to the Ninevites.)) The image of Dagon was – have you guessed by now – the head and arms of a man having the tail of a fish. YES! The pagan deity – the demon god – that was worshipped in the Assyro-Babylonian empire – the deity that aroused God’s anger and was about to bring destruction – was none other than a mermaid (or merman if you prefer the masculine). As early as 2500 B.C., depictions of the ‘fish god’ came to be known and the mythical stories of the ‘mermaid’ were born.
All of this may seem like child’s play to you (pun intended) but is it? In reality it is actually very serious business. When God promised His children a land of blessing He warned them as they were going in to dispossess the peoples already there, “you shall not bow down to their gods, nor serve them, nor do according to their works; but you shall utterly overthrow them and completely BREAK DOWN THEIR SACRED PILLARS.” – Exodus 23:24 (emphasis added). It was the worship of demon gods that caused the people of the land to be destroyed by God and He was forewarning His children to not fall into the same entrapment and begin worshiping gods that would arouse His anger against them too. This is why the command came to kill the people and to destroy the pagan gods and temples where the vile worship was taking place.
Friends, some of you have still not made the connection between a mermaid doll and Dagon but let me ask you a question? Would you bring into your home a statue of a Buddha? Would you buy a toy doll for your child that was in the image of Mohammad? Would you set a totem pole in the middle of your living room knowing it is a god in the image of the asherah pole? Yet many of you have willingly brought in a replica of the demon god Dagon in the form of a toy (or movie, or cartoon). Maybe innocently because you really did not know, and maybe not so innocently because you have simply chosen to claim ignorance as a vice to please your children.
Living for God requires that we keep our lives as free from idols and symbols of pagan worship as possible. That will very often go against the flow of our culture and will cause our children to be unhappy when they cannot participate in the things the rest of the world seems to be doing. However, God made it perfectly clear that He would only bless the land as long as His children destroyed the symbols of darkness and lived in obedience to His word, bending their heart to true worship that only comes through obedience.
Has spiritual death begun to plague your home? Have you felt a curse of sorts come over your family affecting finances, health, spiritual growth? If so, it could very well be that you have allowed idols – images of demon gods – to have a place of prominence in your home or life and God is lending you to destruction in order to bring you back to Himself. As with Nineveh, God’s plan of destruction was to awaken their senses to bring them into covenant relationship with Himself. Repentance and a tearing down of those idols paved the way for restoration and God’s tangible presence in their midst.
Is it time for a house cleaning? Your future and the future of your children depend on it.