From Palestine some of the Melchizedek missionaries passed on through Mesopotamia and to the great Iranian plateau. For more than five hundred years the Salem teachers made headway in Iran, and the whole nation was swinging to the Melchizedek religion when a change of rulers precipitated a bitter persecution which practically ended the monotheistic teachings of the Salem cult. The doctrine of the Abrahamic covenant was virtually extinct in Persia when, in that great century of moral renaissance, the sixth before Christ, Zoroaster appeared to revive the smouldering embers of the Salem gospel.
This founder of a new religion was a virile and adventurous youth, who, on his first pilgrimage to Ur in Mesopotamia, had learned of the traditions of the Caligastia and the Lucifer rebellion – along with many other traditions – all of which had made a strong appeal to his religious nature. Accordingly, as the result of a dream while in Ur, he settled upon a program of returning to his northern home to undertake the remodeling of the religion of his people. He had imbibed the Hebraic idea of a God of justice, the Mosaic concept of divinity. The idea of a supreme God was clear in his mind, and he set down all other gods as devils, consigned them to the ranks of the demons of which he had heard in Mesopotamia. He had learned of the story of the Seven Master Spirits as the tradition lingered in Ur, and, accordingly, he created a galaxy of seven supreme gods with Ahura-Mazda at its head. These subordinate gods he associated with the idealization of Right Law, Good Thought, Noble Government, Holy Character, Health, and Immortality.
And this new religion was one of action – work – not prayers and rituals. Its God was a being of supreme wisdom and the patron of civilization; it was a militant religious philosophy which dared to battle with evil, inaction, and backwardness.
Zoroaster did not teach the worship of fire but sought to utilize the flame as a symbol of the pure and wise Spirit of universal and supreme dominance. (All too true, his later followers did both reverence and worship this symbolic fire.) Finally, upon the conversion of an Iranian prince, this new religion was spread by the sword. And Zoroaster heroically died in battle for that which he believed was the “truth of the Lord of light.”
Original Zoroastrianism was not a pure dualism; though the early teachings did picture evil as a time coordinate of goodness, it was definitely eternity-submerged in the ultimate reality of the good. Only in later times did the belief gain credence that good and evil contended on equal terms.
The Jewish traditions of heaven and hell and the doctrine of devils as recorded in the Hebrew scriptures, while founded on the lingering traditions of Lucifer and Caligastia, were principally derived from the Zoroastrians during the times when the Jews were under the political and cultural dominance of the Persians. Zoroaster, like the Egyptians, taught the “day of judgment,” but he connected this event with the end of the world.
Even the religion which succeeded Zoroastrianism in Persia was markedly influenced by it. When the Iranian priests sought to overthrow the teachings of Zoroaster, they resurrected the ancient worship of Mithra.
And Mithraism spread throughout the Levant and Mediterranean regions, being for some time a contemporary of both Judaism and Christianity. The teachings of Zoroaster thus came successively to impress three great religions: Judaism and Christianity and, through them, Mohammedanism (Islam).
But it is a far cry from the exalted teachings and noble psalms of Zoroaster to the modern perversions of his gospel by the Parees with their great fear of the dead, coupled with the entertainment of beliefs in sophistries which Zoroaster never stooped to countenance.
This great man was one of that unique group that sprang up in the sixth century before Christ to keep the light of Salem from being fully and finally extinguished as it so dimly burned to show man in his darkened world the path of light leading to everlasting life.