“You have let go of the commands of God and are holding on to human traditions” (Mark 7:8).
The words above were spoken by Jesus/Yeshua. His words are just as true today for Christians as they were for the Jews in his time. Human traditions have become so ingrained in the hearts and minds of Christians, they have a difficult time seeing their own rebellion toward the commands of God.
Those who say, “God knows our hearts,” should be well aware that He does know our hearts and He knows when our hearts are behaving in ignorance or rebellion. We have no excuse. “God knows our hearts,” should bring ‘fear to our hearts’ because as the prophet Jeremiah says, “The heart is more deceitful than anything else and mortally sick. Who can fathom it?” (Jeremiah 17:9).
When the Israelites sinned in the wilderness with a golden calf, God didn’t didn’t care that the intention of their heart was to honor Him. He cared that they had embraced the calf from the Egyptian culture, turned it into gold, and then declared, “This is a festival to the LORD.” It doesn’t matter what the ‘golden calf’ is, if it has pagan roots, it is an abomination to God.
“He [Aaron] received what they gave him, melted it down, and made it into the shape of a calf. They said, “Isra’el! Here is your god, who brought you up from the land of Egypt!” On seeing this, Aharon built an altar in front of it and proclaimed, “Tomorrow is to be a feast for Adonai” (Exodus 32:4-5).
God commanded Moshe to melt down the calf and put the gold flakes into the water. Many Israelites died from the plague that polluted the water. God doesn’t change. What was an abomination to Him 4000 years ago is still an abomination to Him today.
“Adonai struck the people with a plague because they had made the calf, the one Aharon made” (Exodus 32:35).
The following Christmas ‘traditions’ have pagan roots that Christians have tried to redeem. Nowhere does God ever tell His people to redeem pagan traditions, but to “come out from among them and be separate.” He also doesn’t tell anyone to rationalize their sin. That is nothing more than creating a new golden calf and holding onto the ways of the nations.
“First of all, the fir tree is an evergreen — it does not die or fade away or lose its needles in the winter. In this sense it has soon come to represent the immortality of the resurrected Christ.”
Yes, the fir tree is an evergreen. It actually is the one tree that produces oxygen for humanity during winter months. As soon as it is cut down, it no longer represents life or immortality, it is dead, cut off from its roots. God is clear about ‘besieging’ trees.
“When, in making war against a town in order to capture it, you lay siege to it for a long time, you are not to destroy its trees, cutting them down with an axe. You can eat their fruit, so don’t cut them down. After all, are the trees in the field human beings, so that you have to besiege them too?” (Deuteronomy 20:19).
“The lights in the Christmas tree also have a deeper meaning. Originally the lights used were candles, of course. The candles too were meant to symbolize Christ, specifically his self-giving love and gift of life to us. As many of us know, the candle provides light and warmth as it consumes its own substance, the wax. So, too, did Jesus give of his own substance — his life — so that we might find divine light. And when we have found divine light for ourselves, we too are enabled through the power of the Holy Spirit to give of ourselves to others. After all, Christmas is the feast of love, where we share gifts with each other as Christ shared the gift of life with us.”
God has a lot to say about cutting down a tree and decorating it through the prophet Jeremiah.
“Hear the word Adonai speaks to you, house of Isra’el! Here is what Adonai says: “Don’t learn the way of the Goyim, don’t be frightened by astrological signs, even if the Goyim are afraid of them; for the customs of the peoples are nothing. They cut down a tree in the forest; a craftsman works it with his axe; hey deck it with silver and gold. They fix it with hammer and nails, so that it won’t move. Like a scarecrow in a cucumber patch, it cannot speak.
It has to be carried, because it cannot walk. Do not be afraid of it — it can do nothing bad; likewise it is unable to do anything good!” (Jeremiah 10:1-5).
The Candy Cane
“The most obvious symbolism used in the candy cane is its shape. Turned one way, it looks like a “J” for Jesus. The newborn Lamb of God was named Jesus, meaning Savior, because He was destined to “save His people from their sins.” Turned the other way, candy canes remind us of the shepherd’s staff. The first people to hear of Christ’s birth were shepherds guarding their flocks at night. Jesus called Himself the Good Shepherd and the Bible frequently compares the actions of the Messiah to those of a shepherd searching for his lost sheep, feeding them, gently leading them, and carrying them in his bosom.”
Compare to Matthew 1:21 where God named His Son, Yeshua meaning ‘salvation.’ There is no “J” in the Hebrew language. No one in the first century called the Savior, Jesus. His parents called him Yeshua, his brothers and sisters called him Yeshua, his disciples called him Yeshua, even those who sought to kill him called him Yeshua.
“She will give birth to a son, and you are to name him Yeshua, [which means ‘Yahweh saves,’] because he will save his people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21)
Though the shepherds were the first to hear the message of salvation through the angels, they were unique shepherds. They watched the sheep for the Temple sacrifices. They understood the significance of the message more than just a reference to a candy cane. Yeshua is the Good Shepherd who came for the ‘lost sheep of the House of Isra’el.’ To denigrate the fulfillment of a long-awaited prophecy of the coming Messiah to a candy cane is not only foolish, but profane.
“The sweetness of the candy reminds us that we are fed on the sweet milk of the Gospel of our salvation and peace.”
Psalm 19:9-11 speaks about the Word of God, the teachings and instructions of God that warn us and reward us. Though the commandments of God are compared to honey from the honeycomb, this is not the same as saying the word is ‘sweet’ like a striped piece of candy made not from bees, but from refined sugar.
When one is born again into the Kingdom, the new baby believer is fed the ‘milk of the Word.’ It is not called ‘sweet milk.’ Maturing from babyhood through toddlerhood into adulthood comes by eating the ‘meat of the word’. The truth of this message is found in Hebrews 6:1-3.
“The fear of the Lord is pure, enduring forever. The decrees of the Lord are firm, and all of them are righteous. They are more precious than gold, than much pure gold; they are sweeter than honey, than honey from the honeycomb. By them your servant is warned; in keeping them there is great reward.”
The hardness of the candy reminds us that Jesus is our rock of refuge. In rocky lands like Israel, people often sought shelter from their enemies in the caves or rocky crags of cliffs. Rocks also remind us of the solidness of the promises of Christ who is a precious cornerstone and sure foundation to those who follow Him, but a “stone of stumbling and a rock of offense” to those who reject His gift of peace.
The prophet Zechariah compares the hard heart that does not listen to the word of God to flint stone. The hard heart won’t believe the words of the prophets apply to them. The hard heart won’t accept that the Torah is for them, but is something ‘done away with.’ According to Sha’ul in Romans 15:4, “everything written in the past was written to teach us, so that with the encouragement of the Tanakh [Old Testament] we might patiently hold on to our hope.“
“They made their hearts as hard as flint and would not listen to the Torah or to the words that Yahweh Almighty had sent by his Spirit through the earlier prophets. So the Lord Almighty was very angry” (Zechariah 7:12).
Yeshua says that the people’s heart has become calloused, so much so they can’t see or heart or understand his words. Because of this callousness, they are not healed.
“For this people’s heart has become calloused; they hardly hear with their ears, and they have closed their eyes. Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts and turn, and I would heal them” (Matthew 13:5).
“So, as the Holy Spirit says: “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as you did in the rebellion, during the time of testing in the wilderness, where your ancestors tested and tried me, though for forty years they saw what I did” (Hebrews 3:7-9).
In the book of Hebrews, the Spirit of God warns about hardening your heart when you hear His voice. This is called rebellion. When King Sha’ul rebelled against God’s one command, the Spirit of God was removed from him and he was tormented by an evil spirit the rest of his life. God equated the sin of rebellion to idolatry. Thus, when a believer rebels against the very Words of God, it is to Him as idolatry (1 Samuel 15:23).
Santa Claus from Christianity Today
“But what if Christians embraced the Father Christmas myth while rejecting the materialism attached to it? Myths, after all, are time-honored methods of communicating truth through story, and the Santa Claus myth is no exception. (Please, don’t tell me his name is an anagram for Satan. Santa comes from the Latin sanctus, meaning holy or saint. Santa’s name likely evolved from a real person, Nicholas, a Christian man whose extreme generosity helped strangers.) I’d like to propose that teaching children about Santa Claus does not conflict with teaching them about Jesus. In fact, I propose that the Nativity story and the Santa myth may have more in common than we’re prone to believe.
Myths. Mythology is always rejected by Christians even though pagan gods and goddesses are mentioned throughout the Scriptures. Tammuz, Ishtar, Ashtoreth, Dagon, Artemis, and Jupiter (Zeus) are just a few worshipped by Isra’el as well as the nations to whom Sha’ul took the message of salvation. To suggest Santa Claus is a myth is to put him into the false god category of the Bible, which ‘Satan’ Claus is. After all, Santa is omniscient (he knows if you’ve been good or bad), omnipresent (he sees you when you’re sleeping and knows when you’re awake), and omnipotent (and he has the power to give you good gives or coal).
Sha’ul (Paul) has some strong words for Timothy regarding myths.
“Have nothing to do with godless myths and old wives’ tales; rather, train yourself to be godly” (1 Timothy 4:7).
“Some stories, such as fables and parables, are not empirically true, but they are true in that they point to realities about God’s world and the human condition. Some stories are empirically true and also communicate this kind of truth. The Nativity story is a perfect example of the latter. The Santa Claus myth is a great example of the former. Santa Claus embodies Christian values such as kindness, generosity, forgiveness—every child soon realizes that even if they have not been perfect all year, Santa comes through. Santa brings gifts to children both deserving and undeserving. While Santa is not a Christ figure—that must be clear—the Santa myth is not the problem. The problem is that we have let advertisers hijack Santa, turning Christmas into a retail event.”
Again, Sha’ul reminds Timothy what will happen when people turn from sound doctrine and the Truth for myths.
“For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths” (2 Timothy 4:3-4).
Sha’ul tells Titus to rebuke those who have fallen into myths. He says Jewish myths, but Christians have created their own myths to satisfy their own itching ears. Though they are given sound teaching and rebuked, they choose to adhere to human traditions and reject the truth.
“Therefore rebuke them sharply, so that they will be sound in the faith and will pay no attention to Jewish myths or to the merely human commands of those who reject the truth” (Titus 1:13).
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