Diana of the Ephesians

The ruling spirit over Ephesus and Asia Minor was Diana of the Ephesians, and her temple there was one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. Reportedly she was the most worshipped deity in the Roman Empire.

According to Acts 19, when Paul went to Ephesus he cast many demons out of individuals and he saw a people movement among magicians. This eroded Diana's authority so much that she began to lose her power and she could no longer keep her territory in darkness. The local idol makers were losing so much business that they started a riot in the huge outdoor theater.

After Paul left, the Apostle John went to Ephesus to finish his career. Among other things, he wrote Revelation at the nearby Island of Patmos where he was exiled for a time. While Paul did not enter Diana's temple for a prayer assault, John did. According to Yale University historian Ramsey MacMullen, John confronted her directly, prayed that she would be served a divine eviction notice, and when he did a portion of the temple collapsed. From then on it was downhill for Diana. Her power diminished and fifty years later very few in the Roman Empire were worshipping her. Meanwhile, Ephesus became the center of world Christianity for the next 200 years.

The Queen of Heaven

While we were in Turkey, Doris and I learned a great deal about the Queen of Heaven. This principality is so powerful and so malicious that, as far as I know, her worshippers are the only ones in the Bible for whom God prohibits prayer. Jeremiah 7:16 says: "Therefore do not pray for this people, nor lift up a cry or prayer for them, nor make intercession to Me; for I will not hear you." Why? "The women knead their dough to make cakes for the queen of heaven" (Jer. 7:18).

Almost every major prayer initiative that we have held in connection with the Spiritual Warfare Network in different parts of the world has surfaced the Queen of Heaven in one form or another. She has succeeded much too much in spreading her power to keep people from the gospel, perhaps more than any other principality of darkness.

Among other things we learned that she is at the spiritual roots of Islam, in the form of the moon goddess. We heard that Muslim leaders will not allow archaeological digs in Mecca because the connection between the moon goddess and Islam would then be highlighted scientifically, while Islam desires to maintain its public image of monotheism. The symbol of the moon goddess is the crescent moon, which appears on every mosque as well as on the flags of many Muslim nations.

As we prayed for the Turks, we knew that the power of the Queen of Heaven had to be broken in order for the gospel to spread in Turkey. Doris sensed this very strongly when we prayed near the altar of Diana. The evil power is still there, and it is very strong. While there we realized something else for the first time. We had been very familiar with the multi-breasted idol of Diana. But closer examination showed that she wears the crescent, the symbol of the moon goddess, around her neck!

Disguised as the Virgin Mary

When the Apostle John went to Ephesus, he took Mary, the mother of Jesus, with him. While on the cross, Jesus had commended his mother to John (Jn. 19:26-27). In Ephesus, Mary, by then undoubtedly a grandmother, died. An ornate shrine in today's Ephesus marks where she reportedly lived. Daily people kneel in the shrine to worship her idol.

As the center of world Christianity shifted from Ephesus to Rome, Mary began to be exalted, worshipped, and prayed to as a mediator to God. It is not surprising, then, that the Roman Catholic Church would choose Ephesus as the place to convene an ecumenical council in 431 in order to declare officially that Mary is the "Mother of God." This began a steady increase of Mary worship through the centuries and lasting until today. According to the August 1997 Newsweek cover story, for example, over 4 million petitions have been received by the Vatican to declare Mary co-redemptrix with Jesus. If this becomes dogma, all Catholic prayers to Jesus will be expected to go first to Mary. Pope John Paul II is a declared worshipper of Mary and he bows before her and prays to her as a mediator. Her idols have proliferated more around the world than Diana's ever had.

Mary is a skillful adaptive deception of the Queen of Heaven. Since Diana became worthless after the spiritual warfare of Paul and John, the Queen of Heaven needed another disguise. When I suggested this to Hector Torres after returning from Turkey, he said, "Of course. Don't you realize how many pictures and idols of the Virgin Mary in Latin America have her connected to the crescent moon, the symbol of the moon goddess?" This was news to me, but as soon as I looked, there it was! In fact, one of the frequent titles given by Catholics to Mary is "Queen of Heaven."

Doris and I were horrified when, in 1996, we visited Rome for the first time and took a guided tour of the Vatican. We had not been inside the building for more than 10 minutes when we were startled to see a life-sized statue of Diana of the Ephesians on public display.

C. Peter Wagner, Coordinator, International Spiritual Warfare Network

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