Tomorrowland’s Pagan Proselytizing of Israeli Youth and the People of Pinchas

While Israeli Rabbis remained silent on Jerusalem's occult festival, Messianic Jews stood in the gap.

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The Orthodox Jewish community in Israel spent the past month arguing over the Jerusalem Gay Pride Parade. Even after the parade on July 21, Israeli media continued to log clashes of opinions. Meanwhile, a different assault on Jewish faith came and went with little mention. As Shabbat ended on July 23, the occult-themed “Tomorrowland” festival activated “Tomorrowland Unite – Israel”, a live “mirror” connecting Jerusalem to the main event in Belgium. A search of both secular and religious news sources in Israel indicated no comment on its religious messages, either beforehand or afterward.

Thinly veiled paganism

“Tomorrowland” is billed as a huge EDM festival (electronic dance music). EDM performers are not bands but DJs: technicians who mix dance music with electronic rhythm, pyrotechnics, videos, lasers and other effects. They also lead the audience in rhythmic chanting, or yell out orders like “sit the f— down!” Mostly they jump up and down wordlessly with raised arms, clapping and hand gestures, and the “ravers” respond by bouncing in place and mimicking the DJs. It looks like mindless, aimless fun.

But the showmanship is neither mindless nor aimless. The music encourages dancing, while the lyrics play with the mind. One of the messages beamed into Israel was replayed on the Hebrew-language Walla! Culture site:“Let me be the fire in your eyes, let me take you far away, let me show you how to be alive…” which could equally refer to a romantic encounter, or a spirit-guide’s invitation to higher consciousness. In another clip uploaded from Israel, the DJ first declared a mystical message: “It’s not about the destination, it’s about the journey, towards a higher place…” and then returned the focus to dance and fun.

This ambiguity vanishes when one looks at the elaborate “Tomorrowland” stages, crammed with symbols from Wicca, Hinduism, Gaia and other pagan religions. Video screens project images of mythical deities, symbolically called forth from “the book of wisdom” by the youthful crowd. They are coached by a disembodied grandfatherly voice, which tells them they are specially chosen to receive “enlightenment”. As examples, watch the opening and closing ceremonies in the Brazil “Tomorrowland” festival this past April.

TomorrowlandBrasilThumb1_1The computer-generated deities introduce the DJs, who yell at the audience to “get your hands in the air” as the throbbing beat starts. Within seconds there’s a grand spectacle of thousands bouncing in unison, with hands upraised in apparent praise to these godlike images, led by their priestly caste, the DJs.

Israeli media announced months in advance that this postmodern exercise in idolatry would be hosted in the Holy City of Jerusalem. It did not prompt a single protest from a rabbi, Torah teacher or yeshiva student, either in Israel or abroad. No Jewish authority seemed to recognize the missionary character of “Tomorrowland” in urging Jews to lift their hands to images borrowed from pagan belief systems. Even the organization Chabad in Israel, known for its global outreach to wayward Jews, failed to express any opposition about this proselytizing campaign aimed at Israeli youth.

Music used for spiritual manipulation

Here are some of the assaults inflicted on Israeli participants while the nation’s leaders weren’t looking.

“Tomorrowland” fans are urged repeatedly to “scream, scream, scream” in the opening ceremonies by the grandfatherly voice. DJs often repeat the command, as seen in this clip recorded by Israelis. Why? Collective screaming has nothing to do with music, dancing, or acquiring wisdom.

This is a tool in the mind-altering arsenal of “chaos magic”, a discipline that seeks to manipulate others through unstructured, constantly changing (and therefore unpredictable) methods. Practitioners also use frantic dancing to produce hyperventilation, sensory overstimulation to blank out conscious thought, and group hypnosis with flashing lights and/or slowly spinning wheels. Computers are used to refine and micro-manage these effects. Video clips confirm that all these tactics are liberally employed by “Tomorrowland”. Naturally they require the cooperation of the audience.

Not so with the “magic” technique of subliminal messaging. An example is found in a song uploaded from the “Unite” show by an Israeli fan. It urged the dancers to connect with “the power – Don’t wait, don’t wait until it’s gone.” This song kept repeating, “We belong to something new…”, until suddenly at one point (time-mark 0:44) the phrase was electronically distorted to: “We belong to ssss…..”, making the keywords unintelligible. If they were changed to, for example, a name beginning with “s” (“We belong to Satan”), no one would know it. But words are there under the noise, subliminally absorbed.

More obvious are the lightning-like colors and shapes, too many to track… darting across the screen too quickly to recognize… unless you freeze a frame, revealing images that many would find disturbing or perplexing. This is one way in which “a spell is cast parenthetically“, or on the borders of awareness, in order to minimize conscious resistance. The symbol of chaos magic (rays emanating from an eclipsed source at regular or random angles) was formed by lasers over the crowd gathered around the “Tomorrowland” stage in Belgium.

This “magic” or “madness” (both terms are used interchangeably at “Tomorrowland”) produces an altered state that allows the penetration of “gnosis” or spiritual enlightenment, the theme of the festival’s ever-present “book of wisdom“. This penetration in turn makes it easier to actualize their promise to “unite forever“. “Tomorrowland” promoters allow people to believe, if they prefer, that this means uniting with other people. But the clip presenting “the 9th magical chapter” in the “book of wisdom” (drawing attention to nine, a “sacred” number for occultists) proposes a higher union, with other-worldly “beings”… namely the “keepers” and “kings” that inhabit the spirit dimension and are ceremonially summoned to every festival.

Identifying these deities is pointless. In chaos magic, religious beliefs are seen as just more tools to be adopted and discarded as needed. But Bible believers know that there are ultimately only two kingdoms: one belonging to God, and one ruled (temporarily) by Satan.

According to chaos-magic theory, the “gnosis” effect can be amplified by combining participants in video-conferencing, hence the introduction of “the mirror to Tomorrowland” which seeks to “unite” youth around the world in their spiritual venture. The crowds joined together this year were estimated at 450,000, not including the globally promoted live streaming which drew so many viewers that the servers were overloaded.

The story of Pinchas, then and now

It cannot be coincidence that “Pinchas” was the Torah Portion for the Shabbat on which Israel welcomed this “magical” intrusion. Interestingly, Diaspora Jews studied the preceding Parasha, “Balak” (an anomaly in the Jewish calendar that happens only occasionally). Actually, both passages need to be brought together, without the artificial division in the middle of Numbers 25, in order to see the relevance of Pinchas for us.

We will now open the REAL Book of Wisdom.

Our story begins as Israel is being seduced by the women of Midian to join them in their pagan rites (Num. 25:1-9). Unable to destroy Israel with a forthright curse (Num. 24:10), wicked Bil’am had advised his clients how to provoke God to destroy them Himself (Num. 31:16). The strategy proves all too successful. Despite the LORD’s command to execute the ringleaders, the wild partying rages on… even a killing plague fails to stop the madness. Finally one couple shows so much defiance that they are executed on the spot by Pinchas, son of the high priest. In Num. 25:10-13, we see the LORD rewarding Pinchas “and his descendants after him” with a personal “covenant of peace” and “an everlasting priesthood”. This ending makes it one of the most difficult-to-understand incidents in Torah, particularly since some have misused it to justify vigilante violence carried out in God’s name.

Spiritually speaking, the “Tomorrowland” promoters played the role of the Midianites in their efforts to get Israel to “be part of the Madness” of their pagan rebellion. In fact, convincing Jerusalem to “unite” with them in this spiritual unfaithfulness was apparently a prized achievement. When the Jewish state came online through number 4 of the 6 “mirrors”, the DJ who through the link appeared to be savoring the moment greeted Israel, so much so that he temporarily forgot about acknowledging the remaining countries! (watch time-mark 0:20-0:45)

The story of Baal-Pe’or, physical and spiritual

The parallel between “joining with Baal-Pe’or” and “uniting with Tomorrowland” is remarkable. Most Bible students know that “Baal” means “lord” or “master”, and that it was a name for a group of idols in the Middle East. Less known is the meaning of “Pe’or”: literally a “wide-open hole” (from the root “pa’ar” [פער] or “gap”). It usually appears in Scripture in connection with the mouth. But given that the men of Israel angered God by “prostituting themselves” (Num. 25:3, Ps. 106:28, Hos. 9:10) with the pagan women, as well as feasting and bowing before the idol, it likely meant other “wide-open” body cavities as well. (Torah is not for the squeamish.)

But in describing the men of Israel as “joining themselves to Baal-Pe’or” rather than to the women, Torah alerts us to a spiritual transaction taking place through the sexual coupling – a familiar concept both in ancient idol worship and in modern occult practice.

While rabbinic teachers, as well as many Bible believers, tend to focus on physical immorality and miss its spiritual counterpart, the reality is that both are sins. Yet Messiah taught that spiritual prostitution is more likely to send someone to hell (Matt. 21:31-32). A festival that teaches people to throw their souls open and unite with spirits is more dangerous and destructive than an orgy of physical sex.

Consider also the names of the cavorting couple who provoked Pinchas to take action (Num. 25:14-15). Countless generations must have wondered why God saw the need to record their names. For us, the spiritual significance of those names for “Tomorrowland” is eerily appropriate.

Zimri” comes from the verb “zamar” (זמר), to “sing” or “sing praises”. “Cozbi” is from the verb “cazav” (כזב), to “lie”, “pretend” or “deny the truth”. Both individuals came from leading families in their respective cultures, and yet they brought needless disaster to both peoples: a plague to the Israelites, and war to the Midianites. This accurately describes the “Tomorrowland” approach. It’s a lie supported by celebrities in the music world, who lead youth into coupling with spiritual entities that will devour them.

But of all the nations in the world, why would this Belgian festival include Israel – the country Europe loves to boycott – among the seven favored “Tomorrowland” locations? And of all its cities, why Jerusalem? Why not Tel Aviv, Israel’s party city? Only a spiritual explanation makes sense. The Zimri-Cozbi spirit has returned to seduce Israel at a time when God’s people are far away from Him, flaunting its presence in the one city He calls His own, in the hopes of again provoking Him to anger.

The spiritual descendants of Pinchas

What do we learn from the reaction of Pinchas? Certainly not physical violence. The physical events in Torah are illustrations of spiritual realities and spiritual behavior patterns for us to follow. “Now these things happened to them [Israel] as an example, and they were written for our instruction, upon whom the ends of the ages have come.” (1 Cor .10:11)  

Can the physical aggression of Pinchas be translated into spiritual initiative? The LORD already put it in those terms: “He was zealous (or, jealous) for his God, and made atonement for the children of Israel.” (Num. 25:13) Earlier (v.11) God revealed what was going on in this young priest’s heart: Pinchas felt the same “jealousy” that God Himself felt as He watched His people cheat on Him with another god. Pinchas channeled his pain by bringing God’s solution to the problem; he executed two leaders whose actions confirmed their unfaithfulness and unwillingness to repent. Not all such evildoers, just two more. And this stopped all further need for judgment, either by execution or by plague (v.8-9).

Never underestimate the power of one moment of pure-hearted obedience to God.

God implied that Pinchas had made peace for the entire nation in his small act of “atonement”. For what did he atone? For the inaction of those to whom God had originally given the mandate to yank the Israelite sinners out of their madness: “the judges of Israel” (v.5). Instead of doing their job, they passively joined the rest of the people who were crying in God’s doorway (v.6). “And Pinchas saw, and he arose….” (v.7) He not only “saw” the couple defying God, he also “saw” them dance past the judges, who looked away.

We see here a pattern of feeling what God feels, remembering what God has said, and taking a stand on His word when God’s leaders fail to do so, doing whatever is in our power to stop others from sliding toward the abyss. That is the essence of intercession.

“Tomorrowland” succeeded in invading Jerusalem and challenging God’s ownership of this land and people. The LORD of Hosts was insulted and wronged by the Jerusalem municipality’s cooperation in bringing pagan worship into the city where He chose to place His Name. Imagine His sense of betrayal, after all He has done in protecting Jerusalem and causing her to prosper! Yet those who are regarded as the spiritual “judges of Israel” failed to react to the betrayal. Instead, it was the small Messianic Jewish community in Israel who “saw and arose” and stood up for God’s rights in righteous rebuke.

Measured against the spiritual plague unleashed on global youth by “Tomorrowland”, our media offensive against this festival was seemingly as small and futile as the action of Pinchas. But we at Kehila News Israel (KNI) were thankful to see that fellow-believers across the world responded appropriately in the spirit of Pinchas, with prayer, encouragement, and a diligence in spreading the warning.

We now want to report the results of our joint appeal to Heaven.

Shutting down the plague over Jerusalem

First, the turnout for “Tomorrowland Unite Israel” was unexpectedly low. Make that a record-breaking low… with a vain attempt to hide the truth!

Hebrew media reporting on the event claimed that “over 10,000” participated, which does not come close to filling the 15,000-capacity Payis Arena for concerts. This would already be considered a failure by other “Tomorrowland” venues, some of which sold out months in advance.

makoBut even that number of 10,000 was grossly inflated. The video by Walla (see time-marks 1:18, 1:24, 1:37 for example), and the photo by the news outlet Mako (image on the left), both show the Payis Arena galleries of 11,600 seats mostly empty, with nearly all the audience standing on the open floor where sports teams play. That area reportedly holds a maximum of 3400. For good measure, here is a clip taken by a festivalgoer from the back of the main floor, confirming the tiers of empty seats. Assuming a meager turnout of 3300, the local sponsors (Bluestone Group and XLive) lost big money on this “magical evening”.

But even the guess of 3300 is way off. The “Tomorrowland” Facebook page (h/t to Rick Ridings) confessed to a headcount of only 1136. That’s 10 percent of the media-reported attendance, which proved to be another “Tomorrowland” fairy tale.

Then there were the “technical” glitches, censored by the Ma’ariv-owned NRG site, but duly reported by the Hebrew outlet Nana of Channel 10.

The Israel “mirror” experienced hiccups starting from the first set. During a particularly “exciting” set with the DJ Afrojack, the broadcast crashed completely “for several minutes”. It’s unknown whether the problem originated in Belgium or Israel, but the two high-tech countries were unable to resolve it. Nana 10 reported that the disruptions continued for “the rest of the evening”. This naturally disappointed the Israeli participants. But unknown to them, it provided relief from the spiritual manipulation described above, which lost momentum with every communication breakdown.

Yet even Nana failed to report what Messianic Israeli intercessors from Succat Hallel on location witnessed: click on video below to watch the technicians outside of the Jerusalem arena scurry trying to fix their malfunctioning equipment, which delayed the linkup for about one hour.  

The most logical explanation for these multiplied setbacks is the God of Israel, enthroned high above all spiritual powers, who responded to our prayers. We are grateful to see the Body of Messiah taking action together. May the same “covenant of peace” promised to Pinchas be experienced by all who took this matter seriously.

Please keep praying! Let us declare God’s promises to “remove the evil beasts from the land” (Ezek. 34:25) and to forge another “covenant of peace” with His scattered flock.

“Thus they shall know that I, the LORD their God, am with them; and that they, the house of Israel, are My people.” (Ezek. 34:30)

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