Archive for the ‘The Ways of the Nations’ Category

Christmas Carols and the Message

I grew up celebrating Christmas and singing all the the familiar Christmas carols.  It has been many, many years since those days. However, while shopping recently I heard two and the familiar words made me stop and think.

The first was the third verse, I believe, of “Joy to the World.”  “He rules the world with truth and grace ….”  I pondered why all I ever hear from those celebrating this holiday is the grace part and nothing about the truth.  What has happened that the truth of His Word has been forsaken for His grace?  After all, Jesus prays to his Father in John 17:17, “Sanctify them by Your Word, Your word is Truth.”  With only grace, His rule is incomplete.

The second song ended with “born is the King of Israel.” Though I do not believe that Jesus was born at this time, many sing this song with great sincerity.  But as one pastor I knew said a long time ago, you can be sincere, but sincerely wrong.  Apart from that, who actually is the King of Israel and how should His culture, His people and His Scriptures affect one’s walk of faith and one’s understanding of, well, the whole Bible.

As these songs are sung in churches around the world at midnight services by those whose hearts are hopefully filled with joy and peace (there’s a lot of stressed out Christians who claim this holiday ),  I hope and pray that maybe some eyes and ears would be opened to the true identity of the King of Israel, the Jewish Messiah Yeshua,  and the foundation for His coming Kingdom, His Father’s commandments.  I hope the carols sung are not just rote, as they can so easily become, but pierce the hearts and minds of some who sing them because the realities of truth with grace and the King of Israel, apart from the doctrines embraced, should be empowering and life changing from the heart.   They have been for me. 

 

A Wiccan’s View of the Occult

A few weeks ago a friend was reading a website on Occult Holidays and Sabbats.  Curiously, she asked me what I thought about the article and how much of it was fact and how much was not.  Since I am not in the occult, I couldn’t answer her question apart from what I have researched over the years in searching for truth – not only Biblical Truth, but also the truth about other religious practices in the world.  So, I turned to a friend who is a Wiccan.  She willingly shared what she knew and offered to answer any more questions that I may have had.  Her response to the article:

“Satanism is kind of its own entity and I cannot  answer those questions [in the article] for you. In the Craft (Wicca/Witchcraft) there is no Satan in our belief system. We have a lord of the Underworld, but nothing as dark and vile as the Christian Satan. We have “dark gods”, but they are not dark in the same context.  In the Craft we do not sacrifice humans or animals. We may sacrifice herbs and flowers, but never humans or animals. I have also never heard of the Illuminati sacrificing people.   

In the Craft, we worship a multitude of Gods and Goddesses at one time. We remember certain Pantheons based on who “called” to us.  I pray to a total of 11 Gods and Goddesses NIGHTLY.   They are Gods older than the bible.

While we do celebrate a ‘wheel of the year’ and the next Sabbat is Yule which does indeed fall on Dec. 21,  I cannot help you with the Satan side of things because we, as witches,  have to deal with the rule of three which basically says what you put out into the universe (be it love or hate, good intentions or evil) will come back to you threefold in your lifetime and possibly carry over into a multitude of lifetimes (we believe in reincarnation). The symbols mentioned do have deep connections in the Craft especially the star, but again it was around before the bible. The star represents the Five elements of Life (Earth, Air, Fire, Water and Spirit).

Santa has many tales and legends. The most popular being that he was formerly a bishop of the Catholic church. The colors Green and Red are pretty important: Green represents Earth and Red represents heart and love. Elves are extremely popular in legends.  In some, they are naughty little folk who like to mess with you and your things and in others they represent help and happiness like if and elf visits you, it’s a good thing!  The Number 13 represents – a number.  Sorry to disappoint you.  But in the Craft, it literally is just a number. Same with 666. They are just numbers that inspire fear in some and novelty in others.  Maybe to true Satanists, it does represent something greater, but to me they are just numbers. I wish I could answer your above question, but I hope I did explain a little more [regarding the Craft].  If you ever have questions, please ask! I do not mind sharing what I have learned and continue to learn.”

My comments regarding her response.

First.  Satan is a deceiver, the master deceiver and has a plethora of followers through false religious systems worldwide.  Some claim to follow the Creator of the Universe and are nothing more than wolves in sheep’s clothing; others are clear they do not have anything to do with the Creator and worship other gods and the creation.   The first commandment is that we are not to follow other gods, but only have YHVH Elohim as our first and only God.

Matthew 12:30 “Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters.”  Yeshua makes it pretty clear that we are either for God, YHVH, or we are not.

Joshua 24:15 “If it seems bad to you to serve YHVH, then choose today whom you are going to serve! Will it be the gods your ancestors served beyond the River? or the gods of the Emori, in whose land you are living? As for me and my household, we will serve YHVH!”  Joshua says that we all have a choice – to serve the God of Israel, YHVH, or other gods.

Second.  My friend mentions that there are gods and goddesses that are older than the Bible.  These are nothing more, nothing less than those fallen angels who desire to be worshipped.  For people who have studied pre-bible history, they are aware there are other mystical stories not found within the context of the Bible.  One example would be Lilith, Adam’s first wife.  Though we are not given any information about this created being in Scripture, we are given the history of what happened in the heavenly realm before Satan was kicked out with 1/3 of the angelic beings and therefore, pre-Bible history may be quite accurate, but not include details necessary for our walk of faith.

She speaks of the ‘god of the underworld’ which comes from Greek thought and is known as Hades. When the Hebrew Scriptures were translated into Greek, the word Hades was replaced with Sh’ol, meaning ‘underworld’, but more specifically translated into the words ‘grave’, ‘pit’, or ‘hell.’   It is not in reference to an actual burial site, but a place that ‘swallows the dead’ and ‘always hungers for more.’

Isaiah 5:14 Therefore Sh’ol has enlarged itself and opened its limitless jaws — and down go their nobles and masses, along with their noise and revels.”

Proverbs 30:15-16 Three things are never satisfied; four never say, “Enough!” — Sh’ol and a barren womb; the earth, never satisfied with water;  and fire, which never says, “Enough!”

Yeshua speaks about Hades or Sh’ol  several times in the gospels.  Most specifically he holds the keys to ‘death and Hades’ and therefore he is above all other gods and goddesses in the ‘underworld.’  At the end of time, at the final judgment, death and Hades will be thrown into the eternal lake of fire.

Matthew 11:23 “And you, Capernaum, will you be lifted to the heavens? No, you will go down to Hades. For if the miracles that were performed in you had been performed in Sodom, it would have remained to this day.”

Matthew 16:18 “And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.”

Revelation 1:18 “I am the Living One; I was dead, and now look, I am alive for ever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades.” 

Revelation 6:8 “I looked, and there before me was a pale horse! Its rider was named Death, and Hades was following close behind him. They were given power over a fourth of the earth to kill by sword, famine and plague, and by the wild beasts of the earth.”

Revelation 20:13 “The sea gave up the dead that were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them, and each person was judged according to what they had done.” 

Revelation 20:14 “Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death.” 

Third.  Please note the references to the Christ Mass: the red and green colors, the Yule [Yuletide] of December 21 being a Wiccan Sabbat (aka winter solstice), and the five-pointed star (pentagon/pentagram) that is commonly put on top of a tree that is cut down and brought into the home and decorated with silver and gold (Jeremiah 10:1-4). The pentagram is the five-pointed Satanic symbol used in Satanism and occult practices.  As for the number 666, it has become associated with the Mark of the Beast in Revelation, but it may have a very different interpretation than an actual number which is why it is meaningless to this woman and is used to deceive those looking for a tattoo or something else.

Finally, fear is considered a spirit in Scripture and when it comes to the ‘underworld’ and it’s darkness, we should not have the spirit of fear when confronted with it, but expose it.     We should always embrace the Truth of God’s Word and the Light it brings to our paths even shedding light onto the dark paths that others choose to follow as light.  Satan has always worn a mask and will continue to masquerade as an angel of light until he has the whole world worshipping him.    We have been called out of his darkness into the glorious light of Messiah who is the light,  and that should always be our focus whenever we are challenged with ‘darkness’ and ‘other gods’.

“But you are a chosen people, the King’s cohanim, a holy nation, a people for God to possess! Why? In order for you to declare the praises of the One who called you out ofdarkness into his wonderful light” (2 Peter 2:9).

©2015 Tentstake Ministries

Venerable Day of the Sun

Sunday church was part of my life growing up.  I attended weekly  services as a child and sang in the choir and played handbells as a teenager.   I never questioned Sunday worship because it was just what everyone I knew did.  My family went to church on Sunday.  Period.  As an adult, I continued to attend Sunday church services until the LORD showed me His better way of the Sabbath.   

Many years ago, our family had some visitors from New Zealand.  After spending several days with us and learning about our Messianic walk of faith, they asked if they could stay for Sabbath extending their stay a couple of days.  While reading some Scriptures, the husband interrupted and asked why the church doesn’t keep the Sabbath.  Before anyone in our family could answer his question, his wife responded, “The catholic church changed it.”  Not only did they change it, they said we are now obliged to Sunday instead of the ‘ancient Sabbath.’

“Instead of the seventh day, and other festivals appointed by the old law, the church has prescribed the Sundays and holy days to be set apart for God’s worship; and these we are now obliged to keep in consequence of God’s commandment, instead of the ancient Sabbath” (The Catholic Christian Instructed in the Sacraments, Sacrifices, Ceremonies, and Observances of the Church By Way of Question and Answer, RT Rev. Dr. Challoner, p. 204.)

Like Christmas and Easter, Sunday worship has its roots in the history of the catholic church and church fathers who developed the idea that Sunday was the memorial day for Jesus’ resurrection.’  Sunday is named for the ‘sun’ and probably came from ancient Egyptian astrology.

In 321 C.E., Constantine decreed that Sunday would be observed as the Roman day of rest:  “On the venerable Day of the Sun let the magistrates and people residing in cities rest, and let all workshops be closed. In the country, however, persons engaged in agriculture may freely and lawfully continue their pursuits; because it often happens that another day is not so suitable for grain-sowing or vine-planting; lest by neglecting the proper moment for such operations the bounty of heaven should be lost” (Philip Schaff, History of the Christian Church: Vol. II: From Constantine the Great to Gregory the Great A.D. 311–600 (New York: Charles Scribner, 1867) page 380 note 1.)

This doctrine was codified at the Council of Nicea in 325 C.E. with its many other anti-semitic regulations further separating the Jewish Sabbath from the Christian Sunday.  In 363 C.E. the Council of Laodicea prohibited Christians from observing the Biblical Sabbath and encouraged them to work on Saturday and rest on the Sunday.   The fact that this edict was issued with prohibitions indicates that Sunday worship was still not totally accepted by followers of Christ. 

Yeshua sent an angel to the church in Laodicea warning them about mixing the holy and the profane, the hot and the cold.  It makes him vomit!   He tells this lukewarm congregation that he stands at the door and knocks and if anyone hears his voice and opens the door, he will eat with them (Revelation 3:14-20).  This is a reference to the Sabbath day, the fourth (dalet or door) commandment along with the words, the ruler of God’s creation.  It would seem that Yeshua already knew that Laodicea would fall away from the truth and mix it with lies.   Only those with ‘ears to hear’ would be victorious and sit on thrones to rule and reign with Him. 

Contrary to God’s command for the Sabbath day,  Sunday worship was mandated by the Roman Catholic Church as the sabbath of Christian worship.   According to all calendars, historic and modern-day, Sunday is the first, not the Biblically commanded seventh day of the week.  The outline of God’s creational week of working for six days and resting on the seventh was transformed into a Sunday ‘sabbath’ having people rest on the first day of the week and then working.   I remember when an elder in a church I attended brought that little fact to my attention.  Though we worshipped on Sunday, he commented, “I wonder how God will deal with the church for turning His order around – resting then working rather than working and resting.”   

Of course, we can worship God any day of the week we desire.  In fact, we should worship Him every day as Creator of the Universe and for all the blessings and promises He brings into our lives.  However, that doesn’t mean His Sabbath should have become a day disdained by Christianity through anti-semitic edicts and blatantly misinterpreted Scriptures undeniably proving that believing Jews and gentiles came together on Sabbath in synagogues to hear the reading of the Torah and the Prophets.   Acts 20:7 is one example:

“On the first day of the week we came together to break bread. Paul spoke to the people and, because he intended to leave the next day, kept on talking until midnight.”

Without even discussing that Biblical days are rendered evening to evening, is it really possible that Paul would begin to speak during a Sunday morning worship service and continue until midnightand then leave the next day?  Would people really sit for 15-20 hours to  listen to him proclaim the Word of God when today an hour is too long? 

Verse 8 gives an important detail to understanding this event, “There were many lamps in the upstairs room where we were meeting.”  Biblical days are rendered sunset to sunset.  This means that when Paul started speaking on the first day of the week, it was after sunset or Saturday evening.   He talked for four or five hours which is more realistic. Eutychus goes to sleep because it’s late, falls out the window and dies. After Eutychus is resurrected from the dead, Paul leaves in the morning which would be Sunday morning.

“On the first day of every week, each one of you should set aside a sum of money in keeping with your income, saving it up, so that when I come no collections will have to be made” (1 Corinthians 16:2).

This verse is often used to support collecting tithes and offerings at Sunday morning church services.  Does this verse really suggest passing the offering plates at a Sunday service?  No, it says that on the ‘first day of the week,’ when business began again after the Sabbath, offerings should be set aside so that when Paul returned, there would be no need for a collection on the Sabbath.   

“And let us … not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching” (Hebrews 10:25).

There is nothing in this verse in Hebrews to suggest that meeting together was to happen on the first day of the week or forsaking the fellowship meant not going to church on Sunday.   Though it’s very important to meet together, to encourage one another, the ‘first day of the week’ is not specifically mentioned; while the Sabbath and other Biblical holy days were already established meeting times. 

Sunday is often called ‘The LORD’s Day’ as if the Yeshua actually honored it as such.  In Matthew 12:8 and Mark 2:28, Yeshua said “So the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath.”  At the time he made these statements, the Sabbath was still the seventh day,  therefore the ‘Day of the LORD,’ if used in this manner, should still be the seventh-day  Sabbath.  Since the word Sabbath has its Hebrew root in sheva or ‘seven,’  it would always be the seventh day, not the first, third or any day that man desires.

“On the Lord’s Day I was in the Spirit, and I heard behind me a loud voice like a trumpet,  which said: “Write on a scroll what you see and send it to the seven churches …” (Revelation 1:10).

Many interpret this Scripture to mean that on a Sunday morning,  the apostle John was in the Spirit and given revelation.   However, the passage doesn’t say it was on a Sunday.  This inference comes from centuries of Christian theology that moved the Sabbath to the first day of the week and then called it The LORD’s Day.

John was a Jew and well-versed in the Hebrew language of the Hebrew Scriptures.  To him the phrase en teé juriake´heem´ra (The LORD’s Day) would imply what is called by the prophets Isaiah, Joel and Amos as “The Day of the LORD” or the time of the coming judgment that brings forth the Messianic age. 

There are other clues in the passage to the timing of The LORD’s Day and neither have anything to do with Sunday.   John heard a loud voice that sounded like a trumpet.  Since the book of Revelation is about prophecy, to use the sound of the trumpet as a prophetic voice is appropriate.  Also, the Feast of Trumpets is believed to be the time for preparing for God’s judgment of earth and its people, therefore, it could be argued that the Day of the LORD begins on Feast of Trumpets.   The trumpet voice tells John to send seven messages to the seven churches in East Asia.  These messages contain warnings for ‘The Day of the LORD’ so those in the congregations who have ‘ears to hear’ will recognize the times and be prepared. 

Still, some Christians perpetuate Sunday as The LORD’s Day, but this is really nothing more than ignorance. When they wish someone a ‘Happy Lord’s Day,’ they are really wishing them a ‘Happy Judgment Day’ which is quite different from saying ‘Shabbat Shalom’ or ‘Sabbath Peace.’   The real blessing of the ‘The LORD’s Day’  is not about wishing someone a  great worship time on Sunday, but in reading book of Revelation and the prophecy it contains (Revelation 1:1-3).

The  change from the Sabbath command to a ‘first day of the week’ memorial to the sun god was not instituted by Yeshua or the Apostles, but by the Roman church that didn’t heed Paul’s warnings about arrogance over the natural branches of the Olive Tree. This brings great misunderstanding to the prophetic revelation given to John regarding the events of the ‘Day of the LORD’ and the return of the Messiah to Jerusalem. 

“He then brought me into the inner court of the house of the Lord, and there at the entrance to the temple, between the portico and the altar, were about twenty-five men. With their backs toward the temple of the Lord and their faces toward the east, they were bowing down to the sun in the east” (Ezekiel 8:16).

The prophet Ezekiel had a vision of the Temple in Jerusalem before the glory of the LORD departs through the Eastern Gate and stops over the Mount of Olives.  Digging through a hole at the entrance to the court, Ezekiel witnesses seventy elders of Israel offering incense to foreign gods.  Twenty-five men are in the inner courts near the altar.  They face east with their backs toward the Temple and bow to the sun.   These detestable things, the worship of the sun in the east,  force God to remove His glory from the Temple.  His glory will not return until Yeshua sets his feet on the Mount of Olives and all the detestable practices of the nations are removed from his Kingdom people. 

Having learned about some of the pagan roots of Halloween, Christmas, Easter and Sunday, perhaps Paul’s words to Galatia can be read and understood in the context in which he wrote them to gentile followers of Messiah:

“Formerly, when you did not know God, you were slaves to those who by nature are not gods. But now that you know God—or rather are known by God—how is it that you are turning back to those weak and miserable forces? Do you wish to be enslaved by them all over again?  You are observing special days and months and seasons and years!  I fear for you, that somehow I have wasted my efforts on you” (Galatians 4:8-11).

©2015 Tentstake Ministries, chapter from Journey with Jeremiah on amazon.com

The Easter Women

When my children were young, I had a little book I read to them every Easter about the women going to the tomb and seeing the empty grave.  It wasn’t until I understood who the Easter women really are that I stopped reading the book.   I realized that combining the holy with the profane didn’t bring revelation of God’s plan of salvation through Yeshua to the world, but kept alive the worship of foreign gods and goddesses that couldn’t be in the lives of my children.

“So Samuel said to all the Israelites, “If you are returning to the LORD with all your hearts, then rid yourselves of the foreign gods and the Ashtoreths and commit yourselves to the LORD and serve him only, and he will deliver you out of the hand of the Philistines’  (1 Samuel 7:3).

Nimrod, from Genesis 10, had wife whose name was Semiramis.  She was an adulteress and an idolator.  When her husband died, she gave birth to an illegitimate son claiming that he was supernaturally conceived in order to hide her own immoral behavior.  She even claimed that he was ‘the promised seed’ so there would be no judgment against her behavior.  When the child was born,  she named him Tammuz and declared that he was Nimrod reborn. This  allowed her to have an immoral mother-son relationship.  Not only was Tammuz worshipped, but so was his mother, Ishtar,  from whom we derive the English word, Easter, and the Hebrew concept of Ashtoreth.

Tammuz became a shepherd and one day while herding his flocks, he was killed by a wild boar.  Ishtar, his mother turned lover, mourned for him.  She descended into the underworld, or Hades,  to deliver him from death.   She weeped for 40 days which eventually made the god of water and wisdom send a heavenly messenger to Hades to rescue her and her son.   All women in Babylon began this 40-day time of mourning on the second day of the fourth month. According to the prophet Ezekiel, this lamenting time was detestable to the LORD.  

“Then he brought me to the entrance to the north gate of the house of the LORD, and I saw women sitting there, mourning for Tammuz.  He said to me, “Do you see this, son of man? You will see things that are even more detestable than this” (Ezekiel 8:14)

After the 40 days, when Istar and Tammuz were set free from the underworld, there was a festival that was full of sexual immorality and dancing around Asherah poles on the ‘high places.’ The worship of Ashtoreth (Ishtar) and Asherah combined over time and became  known in ancient Israel as the Queen of Heaven.

“Judah’s sin is engraved with an iron tool, inscribed with a flint point, on the tablets of their heart and on the horns of their altars. Even their children remember their altars and Asherah poles beside the spreading trees and on the high hills” (Jeremiah 17:1-2).

Like Christmas, the catholic church embraced the pagan worship of Nimrod, the Queen of Heaven and Tammuz and tweaked it.    As preparation for Easter, there is a 40-day period called Lent.  The day before Lent begins, there is great feasting with immoral parties.  Remnants of these pagan traditions are embedded in Carnival of Brazil and Mardi Gras in New Orleans.   When the first day of Lent arrives or Ash Wednesday, those same immoral  crowds, including Protestants and Evangelicals who have embraced catholic doctrines, flock to churches to receive ashes on their forehead, symbolic of mourning and sorrow for the dead.  For the next 40 days there is ‘soulful preparation’ through denial and fasting culminating in the great celebration called Easter or the memorial of Tammuz, the son of the Queen of Heaven, Ishtar,  being released from Hades.  

“The children gather the wood, the fathers light the fire, and the women knead the dough to make cakes for the queen of heaven; and, just to provoke me, they pour out drink offerings to other gods!” (Jeremiah 7:18).

How nicely the catholic church gave this pagan traditional a Biblical twist! Still, the God of Israel warned his people about the worship of Tammuz and honoring the Queen of Heaven with cakes or hot cross buns.  Dancing around a ‘May Pole’ also honors the the pagan goddess Asherah with a sexual symbol made from a tree.  Even the idea of coloring eggs has been embraced by the church.  Traditionally, during the season of Lent, all eggs were removed from the home for forty days when they were  colored red for a ‘blood sacrifice’ for Ashtoreth and Asherah.  The Easter ham is nothing more than a massive sacrifice of pigs as a way to atone for Tammuz’ death from a wild boar.

“Then all the men who knew that their wives were offering incense to other gods, along with all the women standing by, a huge crowd … answered Jeremiah: “As for the word you have just spoken to us in the name of the LORD, we will not listen to you.  Instead, we will certainly continue to fulfill every word our mouths have spoken: we will offer incense to the queen of heaven and pour out drink offerings to her, as we have done, we and our ancestors, our kings and our leaders, in the cities of Judah and the streets of Jerusalem. For then we had plenty of food; everything was fine, we didn’t experience anything unpleasant.  But since we stopped offering to the queen of heaven and pouring out drink offerings to her, we have lacked everything, and we have been destroyed by sword and famine” (Jeremiah 44:15-18).

Jeremiah’s warning is not heeded by the men or women of Israel. They didn’t care that they worshipped other gods contrary to what God commanded. Instead they remained rebellious in their stony hearts and fervently declared they weren’t going to change their wicked ways.  They believed that their prosperity came from the Queen of Heaven and not from the God of Israel so they continued in their abominations until judgment came.

“For everything written in the past was written to teach us, so that with the encouragement of the Tanakh we might patiently hold on to our hope”

(Romans 15:4).

We are to learn from Israel’s mistakes and not imitate their abominations.  We are not to have hardness of heart when we hear God’s voice;  read His Word, learn from His Son.   As the nations join with Israel through faith in Yeshua, each of us must repent from these disgusting pagan practices and return to a pure worship of the God of Israel as outlined in His Word.   Cutsey little stories or poems  cannot justify unholy traditions that are abominable to the God of Israel.  We have been given the promise of eternal life through the  death and resurrection of the Messiah of Israel and not with the traditions surrounding a pagan god murdered by a wild pig that honors Ishtar, the Queen of Heaven.

©2015 Tentstake Ministries, chapter from Journey with Jeremiah on amazon.com

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