Archive for the ‘The Ways of the Nations’ Category

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

Post-Halloween Reflections

Menorah“There are those who rebel against the light, who do not know its ways or stay in its paths” (Job 24:13).

I guess if it’s okay for my Christian friends to post their dark and evil Halloween pictures on Facebook and other places, it must be okay for me to wonder why they took part in the holiday at all.  It just doesn’t compute in ‘my renewed mind’  how one can say they believe in the resurrection of the dead because Jesus rose from the dead and then dress like dead people, zombies, skeletons.

“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will” (Romans 12:2).

It makes no sense that anyone would want to redeem this wicked, lawless, holiday for Christ.  I just can’t wrap my brain around how anyone who claims to be a Christian justifies honoring a holiday that Jesus would never have done or condoned because of its darkness.  Jesus called us “out of the darkness into His glorious light” (1 Peter 2:9). 

Do Christians even shudder at the thought of demons they play with and dress like?  They must have forgotten that Jesus cast demons out of people who knew what it was like to be possessed.

“You believe that “God is one”? Good for you! The demons believe it too — the thought makes them shudder with fear!” (James 2:13). 

“So he traveled throughout Galilee, preaching in their synagogues and driving out demons” (Mark 1:39). 

God used Halloween  to set me free from demonic things in my life by showing me demons hanging on people who were ‘harmlessly’ dressed up and unknowingly partying with their possessor on Halloween.  It was the most eye-opening moment in my life and changed my spiritual direction drastically.    Unfortunately, the gift of discerning spirits isn’t one of the more tolerated gifts in the Body of Christ because so many who are supposed to be holy to the Lord have embraced the world and rationalize their behavior with the world. 

You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world means enmity against God? Therefore, anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God” (James 4:4).

Whether or not a Christian realizes it, they will stand before God one day and give an account of their lives.  They will have to explain to the King of Kings why they celebrated a holiday that mocked the Father and Creator of Life and His Son who died to bring them life (Romans 14:10). 

Kirk Cameron.  He is a man who has embraced the world and the things of the world, and then teaches others to do the same with arrogance and ignorance.  He has become a spokesman for idolatry and is far removed from the will and purpose of God. He doesn’t know the Scriptures; he twists them as the Adversary did in the wilderness.   More importantly, He doesn’t know the God of the Bible except how he has divined Him to be with some ‘feel good about yourself message.’  I can honestly say, “I wouldn’t want to be in his shoes on judgement day.”

I pray for those Christians I know who embrace the death celebration and its trappings through Halloween.  The burden on my soul and spirit becomes so great during this time of year.  It’s  exhausting and draining because I can literally see the evil.  Each year my prayer list gets longer because there is a great falling away.  Those who didn’t take part in the darkness just a few years ago are doing so now.  This year my prayers included an entire local church.   I hope that someday each person who I prayed for comes to understand the darkness they have embraced and how the Light of the World continues to shine in the darkness calling them out.  

A friend posted a Scripture from Revelation 22:11-12 and it seems appropriate to conclude my post-Halloween thoughts.  

“Whoever keeps acting wickedly, let him go on acting wickedly; whoever is filthy, let him go on being made filthy. “Also, whoever is righteous, let him go on doing what is righteous; and whoever is holy, let him go on being made holy.” “Pay attention!” [says Yeshua,] “I am coming soon, and my rewards are with me to give to each person according to what he has done.”

©November 2014 Tent Stake Ministries

Chrismas is Yours, Not Mine and They’re Okay

I wrote this five years ago, but again this year had a discussion with one of my children about gifts at Christmas.  Once again, family and friends struggle with the idea that we do not celebrate this holiday nor do we buy or receive presents.  A few relatives have accepted our decision and instead send their gifts at Hanukkah.  Others insist that everyone NEEDS Christmas presents.  Well, we don’t.

Christmas is not our holiday.  It just isn’t.  It hasn’t been for nearly 30 years.  It’s just that simple.   Every year when one of my adult children says to someone who celebrates Christmas that they don’t, they are invariably asked, “How has that affected you?” making them feel like they have been deprived of something grandiose or that their parents are mean green ogres.

This year has been interesting to listen to their responses.   One said they ‘love’ this time of year because they don’t have to be stressed out like everyone they know trying to buy gifts, getting them wrapped and attending parties.  Another said she has LOVED wrapping gifts at her job knowing she’s helping relieve some of the stress of those who do celebrate!?  Another one said, they’ve never really thought about what they missed because there’s nothing to miss.  The discussion drifted into the conversations they have had with people and not one person ever  mentioned a spiritual connection to the holiday – not one.  And, we live in a town where there’s a church on every corner!

Though I know everyone I saw yesterday meant well when they wished me, “A Merry Christmas,” I wonder, however, what they thought when I said, “YOU have a Merry Christmas, our family does not celebrate.”  From their silence, they were dumbfounded.  They were probably thinking,  ‘Who would be so humbug as to not celebrate this holiday of cheer?’  But then, “How has not celebrating Christmas affected the Jews?”

We have never felt comfortable about lying especially to our children about a hopping rabbit that lays chocolate eggs, the little lady with fluttering wings who steals from them while they sleep or the jolly man from the north pole who flies a sleigh through the sky led by eight wingless mammals with antlers.  Really?  He comes down the chimney?  We don’t even have one!

More than feeling uncomfortable, we realized we would begin a cycle of lying.  With the Tooth Fairy, the Easter Bunny and Santa Claus, we would be subtly teaching our children when they grew up and realized that they’ve all been a make-believe sham, they would begin to question our authority in knowing truth.  As parents, we wanted to set an example – a lifetime example.

The most important Truth to us is our faith in the God of Israel and the birth, life, death, resurrection and soon return of Yeshua.  To think that someday our children would doubt Yeshua as the Savior of the world and his Lordship in their lives because we fabricated cutesy games about other beings they couldn’t see, feel, touch, or hear was just not worth the price of their eternal life.   Lies are lies.  Not bearing a false witness IS a commandment.  There was someone other than their mommy and daddy that could claim the ‘father of lies,’ but not us.

Some  may not include Santa and his reindeer in their holiday festivities because they honestly do want to honor the time as Jesus’ birthday.  We also don’t celebrate Yeshua’s  birthday at this time of year.  At one time we did, but then learned that is another lie based on the lie that ‘we don’t know when he was born.’  When we were made aware of the timing of the Messiah’s birth through Scripture, we were honest with our first two children (4 and 2 at the time – now 29 and 31) about our own deception.  We repented and also removed that lie from our lives.   Christmas is not our holiday.   It may be yours and our children are okay.

Back to the original question from a different perspective, “How has not celebrating Hanukkah, Passover or Feast of Tabernacles affected your children, spiritually?”

©2013 Tentstake Ministries

Christmas Myths

“You have let go of the commands of God and are holding on to human traditions” (Mark 7:8).

Quotes from well-meaning believers compared to the Word of God.

Meaning of Christmas Tree

“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.

“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.

Compare to Jeremiah 10:1-5

“Do not learn the way of the nations, And do not be terrified by the signs of the heavens Although the nations are terrified by them; For the customs of the peoples are delusion; Because it is a tree cut from the forest, The work of the hands of a craftsman with a cutting tool. “They decorate it with silver and with gold; They fasten it with nails and with hammers So that it will not totter. “Like a scarecrow in a cucumber field are they, And they cannot speak; They must be carried, Because they cannot walk! Do not fear them, For they can do no harm, Nor can they do any good.”

Meaning of 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” (Matthew 1:21). 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 (Luke 2:8-20). 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 (Psalm 23; John 10:1-18; Isaiah 40:11; Jeremiah 31:10; Micah 5:4; Hebrews 13:20).”

Compare to Matthew 1:21 where the name of the Messiah is not Jesus, but Yeshua, meaning ‘salvation.’  There is no “J” in the Hebrew language.

“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.”

“The sweetness of the candy reminds us that we are fed on the sweet milk of the Gospel of our salvation and peace (Ephesians 1:13; 6:15).”

Compare to Psalm 19:9-11

“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.”

Though the foundation of faith is called the ‘milk of the Word’ in Hebrews, it is not called ‘sweet milk‘ and we are to grow into maturity eating the ‘meat of the word’.    The Word of God, the commandments of God are that meat and are sweet. The decrees of God are compared to honey from the honeycomb, not candy.

The hardness of the candy reminds us that Jesus is our rock of refuge (Deuteronomy 32:4, 15, 18; 1 Samuel 2:2; 2 Samuel 22:32, 47; 23:3; Psalm 18:2, 31; 28:1; 92:15; 94:22; 95:1; Isaiah 44:8). 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 (1 Pet 2:6-8).

Compare to Zechariah 7:12

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.”

Compare to Matthew 13:15

“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.’

Compare to Hebrew 3:7-9

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.”

It would seem that the hardness of people’s hearts keep them from obeying the commandments and living according to the Words of the Spirit from the prophets.

If you want to continue reading about the candy cane, here is the link.  Make your own comparisons with the fabricated stories and the Scriptures regarding the colors of red and white in the candy and the flavor being compared to hyssop.

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.

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.”

Compare with 1 Timothy 4:7 

“Have nothing to do with godless myths and old wives’ tales; rather, train yourself to be godly.”

Compare with 2 Timothy 4:3-4

“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.”

Compare to Titus 1:14

“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.”

This is taught like this: As long as the myths and pagan practices can be Christian-ized, they are okay.  However, anything Jewish that may bring light to Biblical Truth is to be rejected.

©Tentstake Ministries

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