Posts Tagged ‘christianity’

Over the years I have written songs with lyricist Tom White, who is also my longtime friend and brother in Christ. Even though we are now miles apart we still collaborate on songs through the internet. He recently sent me lyrics to use in a song. I will be working on the music in the coming days, but the words are so intensely descriptive that I couldn’t wait to share them with you.

These Hands by Tom White

They reached down to pick her up, dry her tears then tenderly lifted her off the ground/They brushed off her clothes so gently and then lovingly placed her on the Merry go round/They offer her some ice cream or some candy, a vile threat presented as a special treat/ Warning her that if she shares this secret with anyone she’ll get hurt and end up alone on the street

And those hands—hands that are meant to protect are used to abuse, to injure, and neglect/And those hands—hands that are meant to defend/They rush to crush life to bring about its end/Who will protect the innocent? Who will raise their voice for the silent one? Who will, without fail, shine a light to expose the unspeakable things in shadows done?

Forty five minutes off the bus she finds the streets are cruel/She ran from the prison called home to find more of the same/Her body becomes a token used over and over again by men and women too many to name/She cries out to God for mercy, hoping against hope Where the thought of escape becomes a nightly dream/But each day she’s bought and sold like a piece of meat/And all she can do is silently scream

And those hands—hands that are meant to protect/Are used to abuse, to injure, and neglect/And those hands—hands that are meant to defend/They rush to crush life to bring about its end/Who will protect the innocent? Who will raise their voice for the silent one? Who will, without fail, shine a light to expose the unspeakable things in shadows done?

Your life goes on while children are defiled/The sex traffic lights are all blinking green/If you ignore it soon enough it should go away/Then the problem will be unheard, unknown and unseen/But Christ hears the cries of the least of these/And calls us to be his voice, his hands and feet/To live outside the stained glass windows/So that we, like him, can hear the cries from the street

So that hands—our hands, can truly protect/We can lift up and encourage and deflect/Yes those hands—your hands, can defend/ Like a shepherd, like a brother, like a friend/Protecting the innocent starts with you/Raise your voice and speak up for the silent one/Shine a light so bright that it will expose/The unspeakable things in shadows done

Many Christians believe that God’s Old Testament Laws were done away with and fulfilled by Jesus’ death and resurrection—that we are no longer under the Law, but under grace and we no loner are required to observe many of them—Including the Holy Feast Days.

But whose Feasts are they?

Even before the Old Covenant was ratified and before he scaled Mount Sinai to receive the Law from God, Moses was instructed about Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread. God told Moses, “Now this day will be a memorial to you, and you shall celebrate it as a feast to the Lord; throughout your generations you are to celebrate it as a permanent ordinance.“ (See Exodus 12:12-17)

Note that in Exodus 12:38 it says that a “mixed multitude” went with them—ie; non-Hebrew people, or Goyim. (Hebrew for other nations) Some, perhaps were willing to leave their country because it was laid waste by plagues; others may have been Egyptian slaves who saw the Exodus as a chance for freedom. And perhaps still others left out of a love for the Hebrews and their religion. The point is, is that there were always non-Jews living among the Israelites.

Concerning these Goyim, God told Moses, “If there are foreigners living among you who want to celebrate the LORD’s Passover, let all their males be circumcised. Only then may they celebrate the Passover with you like any native-born Israelite. But no uncircumcised male may ever eat the Passover meal. This instruction applies to everyone, whether a native-born Israelite or a foreigner living among you.” (Exodus 12:48-49) In other words, God’s instructions applies to EVERYONE—whether a native-born Israelite or a foreigner!

We learn in Leviticus 23 that ALL the feasts of the Bible are “festivals to the Lord.  And each of the seven annual Feast observances, God commands Moses, “Speak to the Israelites and say to them: ‘These are my appointed festivals, the appointed festivals of the Lord, which you are to proclaim as sacred assemblies.” (Lev. 23:2) He leaves us with no doubt as to whom these observances belong. They are God’s Feasts—not Israel’s; and not feasts just for the Jews! So Scripture proves that all these special annual festivals and Sabbaths belong to God and are given to those who seek to truly know and love Him.

But where are the Goyim today?

First, we need to understand that all Jews are Israelites; but not all Israelites are Jews. Just like all Navajos are Native American; but not all Native Americans are Navajo. When God called Abraham, He promised him that because of his obedience, his descendants would become a great nation and that in him all nations of the earth would be blessed. (Genesis 12:1-3) The physical blessings God gave Abraham would continue through his son Isaac and his grandson Jacob, also called Israel, whose 12 sons were the progenitors of the 12 tribes of Israel. There was also a spiritual promise that all nations would be blessed through Jesus Christ, who was a descendant of Abraham. (Matthew 1:1-16; Luke 3:23-34)

The Jews make up the kingdom of Judah and Benjamin, But who are the other 10 tribes of Israel today? Although the Bible does not specifically name the modern nations representing all of these people, there is biblical, historical and archaeological evidence that make it possible for us to positively identify the United States, Britain and many of the nations of Western Europe as the nations where descendants of the 10 tribes of Israel largely reside today.

Although God had promised that He would punish the people of ancient Israel for their sins, He also promised that He would not completely destroy them. Instead, God said He would preserve them as He scattered them among the nations.

Speaking through the prophet Amos, God said: “Behold, the eyes of the Lord GOD are on the sinful kingdom, and I will destroy it from the face of the earth; yet I will not utterly destroy the house of Jacob, says the LORD. For surely I will command, and will sift the house of Israel among all nations, as grain is sifted in a sieve; yet not the smallest grain shall fall to the ground.” (Amos 9:8-9)

The introduction to the book of James says, “To the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad,” which confirms that some in the early New Testament Church knew where at least some of the descendants of the 12 tribes of Israel were located.

The Bible also indicates that the ancient Israelites would eventually migrate in a northwesterly direction away from Jerusalem. According to a prophecy in Isaiah 49:6, God will not only “restore the preserved ones of Israel”, but He will also “give light to the Gentiles”. (Goyim) In verse 12 we read that these people will come from “the north and the west” back to Jerusalem.

When the Assyrians conquered Samaria, the capital of the northern kingdom, they transported many of the Israelites “to Assyria, and placed them in Halah and by the Habor, the River of Gozan, and in the cities of the Medes.” (2 Kings 17:6) Shortly after the Israelites came into these lands, scholars note the appearance of people in this area called Cimmerians and Scythians.

The Jewish historian Josephus stated that “the entire body of the people of Israel remained in that country [Media]; wherefore there are but two tribes [Judah and Benjamin] in Asia and Europe subject to the Romans, while the ten tribes are beyond Euphrates till now, and are an immense multitude, and not to be estimated by numbers.” (Antiquities of the Jews, 11.5.2, Complete Works of Flavius Josephus)

In addition to biblical and historical evidence, Scythian burial grounds have indicated a connection between these people and those of Nordic ancestry. In July 2006 in the Altai Mountains of Mongolia near China and Russia, scientists made a rare find. German scientists who were part of the discovery team reported that the extremely well preserved mummy of a Scythian warrior was that of a 30 to 40 year old man with blond hair. Blond hair, of course, is a characteristic of Europeans not Mongols. Prior to the discovery of this mummy, artifacts obtained from numerous Scythian burial grounds had likewise indicated that these people were related to Europeans rather than Mongols.

This should prove to anyone with an open mind that the people of the United States, Britain and many of the nations of Western Europe are the actual descendants of the tribes of Israel. Only God could arrange things in order to fulfill His prophecy of Amos 9:8-9 to scatter the house of Israel among all nations! While this historical knowledge is not critical for salvation, it does help one to better understand our connection to Israel and end-time prophecies.

But what about the “New Rules” in Acts 15?

In Acts 15:19-22 we read, “Wherefore my sentence is, that we trouble not them, which from among the Gentiles are turned to God: But that we write unto them, that they abstain from pollutions of idols, and from fornication, and from things strangled, and from blood. For Moses of old time hath in every city them that preach him, being read in the synagogues every sabbath day. Then pleased it the apostles and elders, with the whole church, to send chosen men of their own company to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas; namely, Judas surnamed Barsabas, and Silas, chief men among the brethren.”

It would seem at first glance that the apostles agreed that the only thing required of the new converts was to abstain from idols, from fornication, from things strangled and from eating blood. But rather than isolate one verse alone and build on that, one must look at the whole chapter. Only in proper context will the meaning become clear. Consider Acts 15:5-11. What group was demanding conversion by circumcision? What was the apostle’s response to this particular group’s demand and why? What does other scripture teach regarding observance for believers—both Gentile and Jewish? Only after answering these questions can one arrive at what this passage is really teaching.

Verse 21 seems to show that while the Torah wasn’t forced on Gentiles all at once, it was understood they would learn it gradually over time, hearing it each week in the synagogues. Just as the Bible isn’t forced on Christians in a day either—they too, receive it over time. The apostle Paul suggested that the new believers be allowed to start off on these four laws so they would have the bare basics to begin fellowshipping with their Jewish brethren and they would learn the rest of Torah each Shabbat at synagogue. Only after pointing out that the Gentiles would learn Torah weekly did it please the apostles and elders to send this letter out to the various churches. (vs 22)

The common misunderstanding.

The mistaken assumption many make is in thinking that all laws in the Old Testament are the same. The fact is, we find five different kinds of law in Scriptures:

  • Spiritual law
  • Civil law
  • Ceremonial-ritual-sacrificial law
  • Judicial-criminal law
  • Natural law

The Feasts (as well as the Ten Commandments) fall into the category of spiritual laws. They reveal the spiritual attributes of God and they transform us spiritually to be more like Jesus when we observe them. They also remind us of how God will always watch over us and protect us with His mighty power.

It was understood by all the apostles that God’s Torah was never changed or replaced. We also know that Jesus considered the “traditions of man” not equal to written Torah, in fact, sometimes the oral tradition (Talmud) violated the written Torah. (Mark 7:7- 9)

The apostles upheld written Torah but frowned on the legalism of oral law. So who is making the demands in Acts 15:5? The Pharisees are. So, Acts 15 is basically dealing with whether Gentiles needed to convert according to Pharisaic tradition; that is, become proselytes to Pharisaic Judaism by circumcision. We know Gentiles could be saved without becoming proselytes—the believing of Cornelius and his family proves this.

Notice that the Pharisee’s complaint wasn’t “we demand that they eat kosher and observe God’s Feast Days and the Sabbaths.” This would be redundant since the Law of Moses already included these individual laws. But circumcision is singled out not as merely 1 of the 613 Pharisaic laws, but instead as the means of making a proselyte to Pharisaic Judaism. That is why Peter argued against this attempt of the Pharisees to put a yoke on the new believers. (Acts 15:7-11)

Note that the oral tradition of the Jews is a burden—Just as some of the oral traditions of the Christian Church is a burden. They are both man’s attempt to enslave others. But in God’s Laws there is freedom. (Leviticus 26:13) God didn’t give us His Laws to enslave us. God gave us His Laws to free us! God’s Laws are never a burden; it is man’s ADDITIONS to God’s Laws that are the burden. (1 John 5:3; James 1:25; Matthew 23:4)

The only laws that were changed by the New Covenant of Jesus were  the ceremonial-ritual-sacrificial laws. The book of Hebrews speaks of that change. (Hebrews 9:9-14)

These ceremonial-ritual-sacrificial laws had been added to the spiritual laws because of Israel’s continued transgressions. (Gal. 3:19) It was imperative that Israel learn the important lesson that sin is a serious thing that separates us from God and requires blood shedding for atonement. But now we rely on the Savior as the ultimate sacrifice, who now intercedes for us as our High Priest. His blood and not the blood of bulls and goats is the only effective antidote to blot out sin. THIS is the change in the law that the Bible speaks of.

We find nothing here or anywhere else in the Scriptures about a change in our responsibility to keep the spiritual laws—meaning either the Ten Commandments or God’s Feast days. Because neither the Commandments nor God’s annual Feast Days are part of the sacrificial laws that were changed with the death and resurrection of Jesus.

Did Jesus’ death and resurrection change God’s spiritual laws?

Matthew 5:17 is the scripture that is most quoted in order to show that Jesus did away with the Law. “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.” However, they leave off verse 18 where Jesus himself said, “I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not even the smallest detail of God’s law will disappear until its purpose is achieved.” (NLT)

Is heaven and earth still here? Yes! Has everything in God’s Word been fulfilled? No! Is the Law of God still in effect? Yes! Jesus says it is! Jesus continues to explain the laws and commandments of God when he says: “Anyone who breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commandments will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.” (v19)

Although the Ancient Israelites understood the physical basis for keeping the law, they did not comprehend the spiritual intent and meaning of the laws and commandments of God. The part of the plan of God for the salvation of humanity called for Jesus Christ to come and explain the spiritual intent and meaning of these laws and commandments. This is precisely what he did.

Many Christians pick out Colossians 2:16-18 and mistakingly believe that Paul is telling us not to observe the feasts: Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day. 

Paul is not telling us not to observe God’s festivals or Sabbaths, he is telling us not to let others JUDGE us when we DO observe them! Because, “…These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ.”

And who are those who would judge us? The legalistic Pharisaic Jews and the worldly Christians who would impose man-made ordinances and rules on us. (See vs. 20-22)

The New Testament Christians obeyed God’s spiritual laws

The Apostle John wrote:

“He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked.” (1 John 2:6)

“By this we can be sure that we have come to know Him: if we keep His commandments.”(1 John 2:3)

“For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome.” (1 John 5:3)

“And this is love, that we walk according to His commandments.” (2 John 1:6)

Did the apostle Paul observe God’s Laws?

The New Testament writings raises an important question: Why did Paul observe God’s Feast Days? In Acts 20:6 we are told that Paul observed the Feast of Unleavened Bread, and in Acts 20:16 he observed the Feast of Pentecost. Notice that even after the death and resurrection of Jesus, the importance that the apostle Paul attached to keeping a Feast in Jerusalem: “I must by all means keep this coming feast in Jerusalem; but I will return again to you, God willing.” (Acts 18:21 KJV) I find it interesting that many Bible translations today have removed the part of that verse that says, “I must by all means keep this coming feast in Jerusalem.” Compare it to the NIV which reads, “But as he left, he promised, ‘I will come back if it is God’s will.’ Then he set sail from Ephesus.” Why no mention of keeping the feast in Jerusalem? Could the omission be because it offers such strong support for the validity of God’s Holy Feast Days? If all of God’s laws were replaced at Jesus’ resurrection, was Paul wrong to do so?

Did the 2nd or 3rd Century Church Keep God’s Feasts?

There are at least 5 reasons that it can be concluded that the second century church observed the feasts:

  • Jesus did. (John 2:13, 23, John 7:2–14)
  • The apostles did. (Act 2:1; Acts 18:18-21; 27: 9)
  • They are mentioned in both the Old and New testament.
  • It is a sign of the covenant between us and God. (Exodus 31:13; Ezekiel 20:11-13)
  • The symbolism in every one of the feasts all point to Jesus our Messiah.

Passover points to the Messiah as our Passover lamb whose blood was shed for our sins.

Unleavened Bread points to the Messiah’s sinless life

First Fruits points to the Messiah’s resurrection as the first fruits of the righteous.

Pentecost represents God pouring out His Holy Spirit on His people.

Trumpets represents Jesus’ return for His bride.

Atonement represents when Christ will judge His Church.

Tabernacles represents when we celebrate the wedding feast.

Persecution of Jews and Torah Observant Christians

If God’s laws were not being kept by the early Christians, then certain leaders in the Roman Catholic Church would not have felt the necessity to try to force people not to follow them.

Vatican records declare that millions of people, including Muslims, Jews AND Torah observant Christians were killed by Roman Catholic Clergy and lay-people during 6 Centuries of the Crusades. The Papal inquisition inaugurated the most evil system of extreme tortures, mutilations and deaths lasting up until 1834!

Had Jesus or Paul told us that under the New Covenant we no longer needed to observe the seven annual Feasts, then we wouldn’t have to bother. The reality is, NO ONE in the New Testament said such a thing! In fact, we find a myriad of passages in the New Testament where people intended to keep them and continued keeping them.

Human tradition stops many from observing God’s feasts. Not one professing Christian kept Halloween, All Saint’s Day, Christmas, Lent or Easter until hundreds of years after Christ died. And yet the biblical Holy Days commanded by God have been sadly rejected by most Christians today who instead endorse these pagan practices that were instituted by the Catholic Church.

Let me make myself clear. Obeying God’s commandments and observing His Holy Feast Days have nothing whatsoever to do with salvation. But when my children were young, they obeyed my rules. Not because they thought I would love them more if they obeyed, or that I would love them less if they didn’t. They obeyed my rules BECAUSE they loved me.

I don’t obey God’s commandments because I think God will love me more; I obey Him BECAUSE I love Him!

 

Over the past few months I have noticed how many people have been taking to social media to voice their displeasure with the recent presidential campaign and the ultimate election of Donald Trump.

The most disheartening aspect of this has been the hateful language from professing Christians from both sides and their slanderous postings. (Many from fake news sights)

The Bible makes it clear that followers of Christ should not be involved in this type of thing:

Exodus 23:1You shall not spread a false report. You shall not join hands with a wicked man to be a malicious witness.

Psalm 34:13Keep your tongue from evil and your lips from speaking deceit.

Proverbs 20:19Whoever goes about slandering reveals secrets; therefore do not associate with a simple babbler.

Proverbs 26:20For lack of wood the fire goes out, and where there is no whisperer, quarreling ceases.

When we repeat such reports from one to another (whether true or false) they provoke us to mutual anger, enmity, and contention; but where there is no whispering of rumors and slander, the quarreling ceases. Animosity, hatred, and quarrels will die away—Just as burning coals eventually die out and are no more than cold ashes under our feet.

But at the same time, dead coals laid on burning coals, or wood on fire, increases the heat and flames of contention. All contentions, whether between private persons, families, churches, or nations, are begun and carried forward by pride. And pride can often lead to unkind tempers and provoking words that produce quarrels and enmities, which destroys all peace and embroil people in endless hostilities against one another.

This should not be happening within the body of Christ.

I realize that this election has left many with great fear—fear of the unknown, fear of what will transpire in the next four years and beyond, and fear that our greatest fear will come upon us. (Job 3:25) But God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and love and self-control. (2 Timothy 1:7)

In Isaiah 41:10 God reassures us to, “Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”

As I was writing this, a heavy wind storm caused some things to crash around outside. When I went out to survey the damage, I discovered that it was just a ladder that had fallen onto my deck. But I was suddenly amazed that my next door neighbors’ trees were being violently tossed to and fro in the wind, but the tree in my back yard was completely still, unaffected by the wind in my neighbor’s yard! Standing there I was reminded of  the verse in Ecclesiastes 11:5 that says, “Just as you do not know the path of the wind and how bones are formed in the womb of the pregnant woman, so you do not know the activity of God who makes all things.”

Wherever we are, whatever is happening in our lives, we can always trust that God is in control—if we choose to do it. But if we magnify every little difficulty and start objections and quarrels, we will never be able to fully trust God. Winds and clouds of tribulation are in God’s hands, designed to test us. And God’s work will always agree with his word, whether we see it or not. So we need to trust God to provide for us and protect us, without our anxious, disquieting cares. For in due season, in God’s time, you shall reap—if you do not give up. (Galatians 6:9)

Sadly, American Christians have become fat and soft over the years. We have become more dependent on our own strengths and on our political system than we are on God and his system of government.

We claim that our religious rights are being attacked because of some states’ decision to remove monuments of the Ten Commandments on the Capitol grounds, or schools disallowing religious displays, or praying at public meetings, or changing the greeting of “Merry Christmas” to “Happy Holidays”.

But right now, Christians and religious minorities around the world are literally facing death, simply for maintaining their faith.

In Northern Nigeria, Boko Haram has waged a years-long campaign of violence, mass abductions, rapes and village raids against local communities. In many cases, they’ve targeted Christians, as well as more moderate Muslims. Schoolgirls who have been captured have been forced to convert to Islam before being made to become child brides and even suicide bombers. Videos of public executions of Christians have been posted on the Internet to strike fear in the hearts of other believers. There have been reports of Christian aid workers being publicly beaten and even made to watch their own children being tortured in an effort to get them to renounce their faith, before being publicly crucified.

Do you think that our Christian brothers and sisters in these countries argue amongst each other about their political choices?

Our world is changing. What we see happening in other countries will eventually happen here as well. The apostle Paul writing to Timothy said, “In the last days terrible times will come. For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, without love of good, traitorous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power.”

He related his own persecutions and said, “What persecutions I endured! Yet the Lord rescued me from all of them. Indeed, all who desire to live godly lives in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, while evil men and imposters go from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived.” (See 2 Timothy 3:1-16)

Even Jesus himself said: “…They will put you out of the synagogues. Indeed, the hour is coming when whoever kills you will think he is offering service to God. And they will do these things because they have not known the Father, nor me.” (John 16:1-3)

So instead of fighting amongst ourselves, we should be strengthening each other and preparing ourselves spiritually for what is to come.

Because, “If racing against mere men makes you tired, how will you race against horses? If you stumble and fall on open ground, what will you do in the thickets near the Jordan? (Jeremiah 12:5) In other words, if issues like the banning of public prayer and  Christmas greetings weary you, what will you do when real persecution comes?

As a child of God, we no longer have to fear…Anything!

This month, many will gather around the dinner table to celebrate Thanksgiving. For many Americans, the Thanksgiving meal includes seasonal dishes such as roast turkey with stuffing, green bean casserole, cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes, yams and pumpkin pie.

For years we have been taught that in 1620 the Pilgrims sailed from England on the Mayflower to escape religious persecution and landed at what became Plymouth, Massachusetts. Over 1/2 of them died during the winter of 1620—even though by local standards, that winter was a fairly mild one. The Plymouth settlers were inexperienced at farming and not used to being exposed to the elements. The next year, with the help of the local natives, the pilgrims celebrated their first good harvest and invited a group of Native American allies to celebrate with them. The feast lasted three days. And ever since then, as the story goes, Americans have celebrated Thanksgiving. Unfortunately, this is a celebration that is based on a lie.

So what’s the true version of what happened?

The notion that the first Thanksgiving was some kind of cross-cultural love-fest, as it has been portrayed, has even been disputed by historians, who say that the settlers and the Indians were brought together more by their mutual need than by genuine friendship. The two struggling communities were never more than wary allies against other tribes. More like, “the enemy of my enemy is my friend”.

The colonists were actually contemptuous of the Indians, who they regarded as uncivilized, paganistic heathens, and the fragile early peace between Native Americans and the early settlers would soon unravel into a horrific slaughter. When their “Native American allies” were celebrating their own green corn festival, a band of Puritans descended on their village and shot, clubbed and burned alive over 700 native men, women and children.

This slaughter, according to Robert Jensen, a professor at the University of Texas at Austin, was the real origin of Thanksgiving—so proclaimed in 1637 by Massachusetts Bay Governor John Winthrop in gratitude for God’s destruction of the defenseless Pequot village. Thereafter massacres of the Indians were routinely followed by “days of thanksgiving.”

Native Americans and Israel

Although many of the early European settlers saw the Native Americans as savages (and treated them accordingly), others believed them to be the lost ten tribes of Israel. William Penn, for whom the US Commonwealth of Pennsylvania is named, was one who believed strongly that Native Americans came from the stock of Israelites. He was well known for his good relationships and successful treaties with the natives.

Although many Jewish scholars and historians have disputed this for years, the similarities between Israelite and Native American culture are remarkable:

They both worship one God. (Or one Great Spirit) Both groups were minorities in the face of enemy oppression—The Native Americans faced off against the expanding European colonists, while the Israelites were crushed by the powers of the Assyrians and Babylonians. Both groups have faced slavery, exile and the threat of genocide throughout history.

But what I find particularly remarkable is the similarities between Native American feasts and celebrations and God’s feasts set in the Bible. Both the Native American celebrations and the biblical Fall Feast Days typically coincide in the late summer and early fall and are tied to the ripening and harvesting of crops. They are both marked with dancing, feasting, fasting and religious observations. Activities vary from tribe to tribe, but the common thread is giving proper thanks to God.

In 1973 Dr. Joseph Mahan, an expert in ancient Indian ethnology of the southeastern Indians of the United States, discovered that the Yuchi tribe of Florida and Georgia amazingly showed strong evidence that they had contact with some form of Judaism in historic times. They had a custom that every year on the fifteenth day of the sacred month of harvest, in the fall, for eight days they lived in “booths” with roofs open to the sky, covered with branches and leaves and foliage. During this festival, they danced around the sacred fire, and called upon the name of God.

The ancient Israelites had virtually the identical custom in many respects. In the harvest season in the fall, on the 15th day of the seventh month, (Tishri) Jews and Torah observant believers celebrate the festival of booths for eight days. (Also known as the Feast of Tabernacles, or Sukkot in Hebrew) They live in temporary booths, covered with branches and leaves from “goodly trees”. This festival, and many others, goes back to the time of Moses and the Exodus from ancient Egypt. (See Leviticus 23)

Dr. Cyrus Gordon, of Brandeis University in Boston, was privileged to sit in on one of the fall harvest festivals of the Yuchi Indians, and listened to their chants, songs, and sacred ceremonies. An expert in Hebrew, Minoan, and many Middle Eastern languages, he was incredulous as he listened to the chants. He exclaimed to his companion, “They are speaking the Hebrew names for God!”

How is it that two totally separated peoples observe the identical custom? And since it has been a long standing custom during Sukkot to invite friends and family to share a meal inside their Sukkah, or shelter, is it possible that it was the Native Americans who invited the Pilgrims to celebrate their own fall harvest feast, and not the other way around?

Summary: 

In any civilization, error can be present, and false spirituality can arise. While I am not suggesting that Thanksgiving should become the occasion for a yearly guilt trip, we would do well to remember, as we sit around the bountiful table with our family and friends, the high price the first indigenous Americans paid for European expansion into their territories. Only by openly acknowledging the sins of our collective past, is it possible to proceed toward a future that all Americans can feel thankful for.

We need to de-program ourselves from arrogantly thinking that God would only want to reveal himself (and his laws) to just one part of his creation. We need to realize that God wants ALL of his creation to know him as Father, Creator and supplier of all our needs.

It is also worthy to note that the Native Americans themselves did not choose to identity themselves with the oppressed Jews, but outside powers did that for them.

It is clear that Native Americans possess a special spirituality, that should remind us of the holy teachings given by God—if we would only study God’s holy word and listen to his small, still voice.

Many Christians today believe that the Ten Commandments are still valid, but that after the death and resurrection of Jesus, Christians are no longer under the Law, but under grace and the other commandments listed in the Old Testament apply only to the Jews.

They also teach that there are only four rules that were given to the early Gentile Christians coming into the faith, and quote Acts 15:19-20 to prove their point: ”Therefore my judgment is that we should not trouble those of the Gentiles who turn to God, but should write to them to abstain from the things polluted by idols, and from sexual immorality, and from what has been strangled, and from blood.”

This passage seems to show that this is true…Until we read verse 21: “For from ancient generations Moses has had in every city those who proclaim Him, for He is read every Sabbath in the synagogues.”

You see, the Torah wasn’t forced on the new Gentile Christians all at once—anymore than Bible verses are forced on us in our churches today. And just as today, it was understood that people would learn it gradually over time, hearing it each week in the synagogues. The four rules that were given to the early Gentile Christians were meant for only a starting point, with the understanding that they would gradually come to know the whole truth as they were taught in the synagogues. In fact, even ancient Israel wasn’t forced to learn Torah in a single day either—they also received it over time.

Christians today generally ignore verse 21 in the above passage because the ramifications are obvious: The Gentile Christians were given these four laws in order to have the bare basics to BEGIN their new life with the Messiah, knowing they would learn the rest of Torah each Sabbath in the synagogue.

There are three important facts that we need to understand: 

  1. Being Jewish is not necessarily associated with a religion. It is associated with a nationality.
  2. The word, ‘Gentile’ simply means non-Jew—or someone from other than the tribe of Judah.
  3. The Hebrew word ‘goy’ means nation, and refers to the fact that goyim (gentiles) are members of other nations, that is, nations other than the Jews. (Tribe of Judah)

So all Jews are Israelites, but not all Israelites are Jews. Just as all Cherokee are Native Americans, but not all Native Americans are Cherokee.

It was only after being confronted by some Jewish believers who belonged to the sect of the Pharisees who said, “It is necessary to circumcise them (the gentiles) and to order them to keep the law of Moses”, did the apostles decide not to put a yoke upon the new believers “which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear”, that they required the new believers to begin with the four rules. (See  Acts 15:5-11)

Circumcision had become a conversion ritual by the legalistic Pharisees just as baptism is often misused today by legalistic Christians as a means of joining a particular church or denomination.

It was understood by all the apostles that God’s Laws were never changed or replaced. We know this from the teachings of Jesus when he said, “For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished.” (Matt 5:17,18) All will not be accomplished until AFTER Jesus returns.

God spoke through the prophet Malachi and said, “For I the Lord do not change; therefore you, O children of Jacob, are not consumed. (Malachi 3:6) And in Hebrews 13:8 we read, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.”

If God has not changed, and Jesus has not changed, God’s laws have not changed.

So who or what changed? 

“When the Lord your God cuts off before you the nations whom you go in to dispossess, and you dispossess them and dwell in their land, take care that you be not ensnared to follow them, after they have been destroyed before you, and that you do not inquire about their gods, saying, ‘How did these nations serve their gods?—that I also may do the same.’ You shall not worship the Lord your God in that way, for every abominable thing that the Lord hates they have done for their gods, for they even burn their sons and their daughters in the fire to their gods. Everything that I command you, you shall be careful to do. You shall not add to it or take from it.” (Deuteronomy 12:29-32)

Unfortunately, that is exactly what we did. We gentiles have dispossessed nations and then adapted their ways and served their gods. We have exchanged God’s Holy Feast Days and His laws for pagan rituals and human traditions.

Even though Jesus and all of the apostles observed all of God’s laws and Holy Feast Days, they also knew that there would be those who would claim the power to change God’s Law. Through the prophet Daniel we are warned of just such a man. Describing the “little horn power”, Daniel prophesied saying, “He will speak against the Most High and oppress his saints and try to change the set times and the laws…” (Daniel 7:8-25) The apostle Paul warned that this blasphemy was already at work and that it would come not from an outside influence, but from within the Church itself! (2 Thessalonians 2:7)

The Roman emperor Constantine, a self proclaimed sun-worshiper, professed conversion to Christianity, though his actions suggest his “conversion” was more of a political move than a genuine heart change. Later, as Christianity grew, church leaders wished to increase the numbers of the church. In order to make the gospel more attractive to non-Christians, pagan customs were incorporated into the church’s sacraments and holy days—such as Sunday worship, Mass, Lent, Christmas and Easter.

The apostle Paul writes in Colossians 2:8, See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ.” And yet, all of the holidays celebrated in churches across the globe are “according to human tradition” and are pagan in nature.

Many Protestant Christians refuse to acknowledge that most of their own church doctrines are based on teachings from the apostate Roman Catholic Church. The most common example is when the Catholic Church changed God’s 7th day Sabbath (Exodus 20:8-11) to the 1st day Sunday worship. Millions of Christians now worship on Sunday, even though God has commanded us to observe HIS Sabbaths, (Exodus 31:13) and that it is a sign between us and God, to show that we belong to Him. (Exodus 31:13; Ezekiel 20:20)

This change of God’s laws by the Catholic Church has even been documented in many of the Catechism literature:

In the Convert’s Catechism of Catholic Doctrine

Q. Which is the Sabbath day?

A. Saturday is the Sabbath day.

Q. Why do we observe Sunday instead of Saturday?

A. We observe Sunday instead of Saturday because the Catholic Church, in the Council of Laodicea, (AD 336) transferred the solemnity from Saturday to Sunday.

(Rev. Peter Geiermann, C.SS.R., (1946), p. 50)

In the Catholic Christian Instructed

Q. Has the [Catholic] church power to make any alterations in the commandments of God?

A. 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 RT Rev. Dr. Challoner, p. 204)

[It is important to note here that the Catholic church is not referring to God’s Feasts of the Bible when mentioning their own feasts and holy days.]

In An Abridgment of the Christian Doctrine

Q. How prove you that the church hath power to command feasts and holy days?

A. By the very act of changing the Sabbath into Sunday, which Protestants allow of; and therefore they fondly contradict themselves, by keeping Sunday strictly, and breaking most other feasts commanded by the same church.

Q. How prove you that?

A. Because by keeping Sunday, they acknowledge the church’s power to ordain feasts, and to command them under sin; and by not keeping the rest [of the feasts] by her commanded, they again deny, in fact, the same power. (Rev. Henry Tuberville, D.D. (R.C.), (1833), page 58)

Ignatius Bishop of Antioch (98-117A.D.) wrote in his ‘Epistle to the Magnesians’: “For if we are still practicing Judaism, we admit that we have not received God’s favor…it is wrong to talk about Jesus Christ and live like Jews…”

The Roman Catholic John Chrysostom preached the following in 387 A.D.: “The festivals of the pitiful and miserable Jews are soon to march upon us one after the other and in quick succession: the feast of Trumpets, the feast of Tabernacles, the fasts. There are many in our ranks who say they think as we do. Yet some of these are going to watch the festivals and others will join the Jews in keeping their feasts and observing their fasts. I wish to drive this perverse custom from the Church right now…If the Jewish ceremonies are venerable and great, ours are lies…Does God hate their festivals and do you share in them?” (John Chrysostom. Homily I Against the Jews I:5;VI:5;VII:2. )

2 Timothy 2:15 commands us to, “Study to show yourself approved unto God, a workman that needs not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” God expects us to know His Word so that we can act on it. Proper Bible study of both the Old and New Testaments leads to approval from God. Paul explained that people are the servants of whatever and whoever they obey. (Rom. 6:16- 23)

We read in 2 Timothy 3:16 that “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.”

I particularly like the New Living Translation: “All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right.”

What most people fail to realize about this verse is that The Law, The Prophets and other writings of the Old Testament were the only Scripture available when Paul wrote this to Timothy!

I once had a conversation with a woman about Christmas and showed her from Scripture how Jesus could not have been born on December 25th. I also explained how all of the symbols used during the Christmas season were pagan in nature. Sadly, at the end of our conversation she said, “I know that what you’re saying is true, but my family has always celebrated Christmas this way and I can’t change now.” At that moment she went from ignorance to rebellion. And God says, “rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry.” (1 Samuel 15:23)

Sadly, most Christians today feel the same way. Even though they know that all of the holidays they celebrate in their church are pagan in nature, they still continue to observe them as if they are commanded by God. Jesus disputed this when he said, “Why do you break the commandment of God for the sake of your tradition?” (Matthew 15:3)

If God commanded that certain Holy Feast Days be kept, then shouldn’t you be certain why you choose NOT to observe them? No matter how comfortable a lifelong practice may be, shouldn’t you base your decision to continue doing it on hard evidence from Scripture instead of assumptions and traditions?

If God does not change, then neither will His Law. “My covenant I will not break, nor alter the word that has gone out of My lips.” (Psalm 89:34) “I know that everything God does will endure forever; nothing can be added to it and nothing taken from it.” (Ecclesiastes 3:14)

In 1 John 5:3 we read: “For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome.” Mathew Henry writes in his commentary on 1 John, “As God’s commands are holy, just, and good rules of liberty and happiness, so those who are born of God and love him, do not count them grievous, but lament that they cannot serve him more perfectly.”

God’s laws are not burdensome. It is man’s additions and changes to God’s laws that are burdensome. And if we say that we love God but refuse to obey him, then we will end up just going through the motions:

Word of God

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

unknownThousands of children throughout America suffer physical abuse and neglect each day. Research conducted by the Centers for Disease Control estimates that approximately 1 in 6 boys and 1 in 4 girls are sexually abused in their own homes by family members, step-parents or caregivers. (That is according to reported incidences, so the actual number could be even higher) Many of these victims can suffer from psychological, emotional, and physical effects that carry over well into adulthood—including anxiety Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), and self-destructive behaviors such as alcoholism or drug abuse. But there are some, with the help of caring friends and family and professional counseling, who can not only survive childhood abuse, but overcome it and thrive. This is a story of one such person. I’ll call her Shelby. (Her real name was changed to protect her privacy)

Shelby’s Story

When I was about 5 years old I lived in New Mexico with my mom and her boyfriend. That’s when I first remember him physically abusing my mother. He was often cruel to animals too. I had a black kitten that I loved very much. My mom’s boyfriend didn’t like the kitten because it kept scratching him, but not me or my mom. So one day when me and my mom went to the store, he killed it by throwing it into the washing machine. After he killed it, he threw it over the fence in our back yard. I was traumatized after we found out, but my Mom told me not to tell anyone.

When I was in kindergarten a friend of mine and his mom came to visit at our house. My mom, her boyfriend and my friend’s mom were all drinking together. While me and my friend (who was a boy) were in my room, without warning, he suddenly pulled down his pants. (As little boys sometimes do) I thought he was just weird, but when the boy’s mom saw what he did, she told my mom and her boyfriend. Then, as if I did something wrong, my mom’s boyfriend grabbed me by my ankles and swung me around the room and threw me into a wall! To my shock and amazement my mom just sat there and watched it happen and did nothing to stop him!

When I was 6 years old we moved to Colorado. My mom’s boyfriend was still abusing her—Even when she was pregnant! I was often subjected to watch as my mother got punched and slapped in the face. Fortunately, my mom was still able to gave birth to two healthy twins—A boy and a girl. But because I didn’t want them to get hurt, I took it upon myself to take care of the twins. So I was the one feeding them, watching over them them and making sure that they were safe.

Things got worse after my mom and her boyfriend got married and he became my step-father. When I was 8 years old he made me smoke a cigarette with him and drink beer. Another time he sat me down and told me “his version” of the birds and the bees. It included looking down my pants and telling me that when I was by myself I should finger myself!

One time when my mom just got home from work, my step-father jumped on top of her and started choking her until her face turned purple before he finally let her go. It was one of the scariest experience of my life at that time. I had no idea that things would get much worse.

Later that same year when I was in my nightgown, my mom was working and my new step-father was drunk. He pushed me down on a pull-out bed and wouldn’t let me get up. He then got on top of me and tried raping me! He held down my wrists and was trying to make me believe that it was a game. I can still remember the smell of alcohol on him. When I began to scream and I tell him to get off, he suddenly stopped, but he was laughing about it like he was only kidding. This was the first time he had done something like this. Because of my step-father’s violent temper, I was afraid of what he might do if I told my mom, so I never said anything.

As time went on, my step-father’s alcohol and drug abuse continued to get worse. One time me and my mom left to run some errands and do some grocery shopping. But because we took longer than my step-father expected us to, we came back to discover that he had trashed the whole house in a drunken rage.

When I was 9 years old we moved back to New Mexico. My step-father’s abuse continued to get worse and worse. When my brother was only three years old, my step-father grabbed him by the shirt and slammed him against the arm of the couch just because he accidentally spilled some pop on him while he was sleeping.

Another time he tried coming after me. So I ran into a bedroom and jumped around on the bed so he wouldn’t hit me. My mom saw what he was trying to do, and pushed him away from me. He then turned his anger towards my mom started abusing her again. My siblings became frightened and started crying, so I locked us inside of the bedroom so my step-father wouldn’t harm my brother and sister. I tried to calm them down by singing to them.

Later that year my mom became pregnant again with my youngest sister. But that did not stop my step-father’s abuse. One night he punched my mom twice in the face and knocked her out. She didn’t wake up all night. I stayed up most of the night waiting for her to wake up. I finally went to sleep that night wondering if she was dead. But the next morning she was fine and acted as if nothing happened.

Only 6 months after moving from Colorado to New Mexico we moved again. This time to Washington State to live with my grandma (My mom’s mother) and her two sons. We lived there for about 1 year. It wasn’t any easier there because my step-father was always causing problems with my uncles and other people in the household. My grandma does not allow anyone to drink in the house, but he did anyway.

One time when my grandma and uncles were gone, my step-father and my mom got into another fight. At first they were just arguing and yelling about something. Then it escalated into pushing and shoving. Before it got worse, my mom dialed the police but when my step-father tried to grab the phone from my mom, his arm went through the window and cut his arm. He was able to end the call, but of course the police came anyway. Because my step-father was bleeding and my mom didn’t have any marks on her, the police arrested her for domestic violence. Me and my siblings were all crying but my step-father just yelled at us to stop crying and told us that my mom would be back soon. But it wasn’t until three days later that my mom came back home.

During the summer that we lived in Washington things got worse. My step-father wasn’t contributing much to the household because what little money he had went to pay for beer and marijuana. The problems he caused between my uncles and my grandma got worse, so we moved again.

This time we moved to Nebraska and lived with my other grandpa (my mom’s father) and his wife for about 6 months. My grandparents in Omaha have very strong Christian beliefs and told my parents that they don’t allow alcohol or drugs in their home or smoking inside the house. They are very kind people who did all they could to help us. They even bought new beds and dressers for all of us. They also converted their garage into a bedroom for my mom and step-father.

My grandparents gave us a warm and caring place to stay, cooked and cleaned for us and never asked for rent or grocery money. They even helped my step-father find a job. But while we lived there, my step-father secretly continued drinking and smoking in the basement. He was still abusive to us; he just hid it from my grandparents better. One time during a family reunion celebration my grandparents held in their back yard, my step-father made me put my hands on a pole that was in the basement and beat me with a belt several times. Everyone was outside playing, shouting and laughing, so they couldn’t hear what was going on inside. Finally after he was done, I dropped to the ground crying. I didn’t tell anyone because I was afraid that if I did, my grandparents would make us move.

Soon after that, we moved into a nasty 3 bedroom house that had mold all over. Because of the mold, we were always sick and would get bad coughs. My step-father and my mom smoking inside the house didn’t help either. Our neighbors next door were alcoholics and my mom and step-father would drink with them a lot.

My mom and step-father made the decision to have my step-father’s two older daughters (from a previous marriage in Colorado) move in with us. Although the house was a bit cramped, my brother and sisters and I grew much closer. We didn’t think of ourselves as a step-brother and 5 step-sisters. In our minds we were all family. I think having us all in one place made my step-father even more abusive though. One time when my young sister accidentally scratched the TV, he took her into the bathroom and spanked her with a belt so many times that she had welts on her back and legs. He would also grab the little ones by the wrist so rough that he would leave bruises on them. Many times he would get mad at us kids for reasons unknown to us. Most of us would get scared and run, but when he physically abused my oldest sister, she would fight back like crazy.

Then when I was 11years old, the very worst thing happened to me. One night my step-father was drinking again. I was going to bed and he said, “I’ll be there in a while”. I didn’t know what he meant by that at the time. I woke up suddenly at 3 AM to find my step-father in my bed lying next to me with his hand down the front of my pants! I freaked out and ran into the other room to lay on the couch. I didn’t know what to think. Then about two weeks later I fell asleep in front of the TV and it happened again! I freaked out again and cried and cried. When I finally got the courage to tell my mom, my step-father called me a f**kin’ liar and told me that I made it up. I was shocked and angered when all my mom said was that I should not watch movies next to my step-father anymore. As if it was MY fault!  Even my sisters didn’t believe me. After that I felt all alone.

We stayed in Nebraska about two years before we moved back to New Mexico to live with my step-father’s Grandmother, who pretty much let him do whatever he wanted. I hated it there. I was bullied in the school there and my oldest sister was fighting with my mom and her husband more and more. Sometimes they would even beat on her together.

Later, all of us siblings (except for my baby sister), were sent back to Washington to stay with my grandma and my uncles again. It was supposed to only be for the summer, but we ended up staying there for over a year and going to school there. I started hanging out with the wrong crowd, getting into fights, getting into trouble and doing poorly in school. I was angry all the time, but I didn’t know why.

Then my grandparents in Nebraska wanted me and my older sister to come and visit them for the summer. They said that they would pay for our plane fair to Nebraska and back. My sister had to attend summer school so we made plans for me to go by myself.

But before I had the chance to leave for Nebraska, my mom called my grandma in Washington and told her that they wanted to pick all of us kids up in Colorado at the end of the summer. I began crying and told my grandma that I didn’t want to go back. And that I didn’t want to live with my mom anymore. After pressing me for several minutes on why I didn’t want to live with my mom, I finally told her how my step-father had sexually molested me.

About the same time, my brother was suspended from school for drawing sexual pictures and intimidating other students and inappropriately touching them. It was also discovered that he was accessing pornographic web sites. Because of the nature of my brother’s suspension, the school set up family counseling for us. That’s when I told them what my step-father had done. The school contacted law enforcements and the police began an investigation that covered all the states where we had lived.

I have never seen my grandma so angry. She called my grandparents in Nebraska and told them what had happened. They had already booked me a round trip flight to Nebraska and said that I would never have to live with my step-father again.

That summer was the best summer ever. On Sunday I had a 9 AM flight to Nebraska. Even though I was excited about going to Nebraska, that morning was a pain because I had to get up at 6 AM and rush to pack everything. By the time I was ready it was already 8:15. Finally we were on our way to the airport. By the time we got there it was about 8:40. Then I had to pose for pictures and give everyone a hug before I left.

Miraculously, I made it to my plane on time. My first stop was Salt Lake City, Utah where I had to change planes. I finally arrived in Nebraska at 4 PM. It had been three years since I last saw my grandparents. I gave both of them a big hug when I saw them. After we got my luggage, we went to Applebee’s for dinner. We had a great talk and caught up on things. After that, we went to their house where to my surprise, they already had a bedroom set up for me. Then I checked the house out and hung out for a while and for the first time in a long time, I was able to sleep soundly in my own bed.

After a few days I hung out with a couple of old friends of mine that I’ve known since elementary school. We all had a blast catching up again after three years. It helped me not to think about those years of abuse I had lived through.

Then grandpa surprised me by contacting my biological dad who lived in the same city and arranged for us to meet! I never had the chance to meet my real dad because my mom always kept me from him. Seeing him for the first time gave me butterflies. I was so nervous that I felt like I was going to puke. But I was also really excited at the same time.

When I first saw my dad I gave him a big hug. Then we started talking and getting to know each other. I could tell that he was just as nervous as I was. But I was surprised at how easy he was to talk to. He made me feel so comfortable that it was like we knew each other for years. After our long talk he asked if I wanted to meet everyone in his family at a cook out that was planned. Of course I said yes. So the next day he introduced me to another little brother of mine, his wife, aunts, uncles and more grandparents. We all had a great time, laughing, and having fun. Almost immediately I felt close to my biological dad and my new little brother and stepmom. That was one of the best days of my life.

Unfortunately, things were about to turn really ugly. When my mom found out that I had spoken out about the sexual abuse she called my grandpa and threatened to take me from them by force, have him arrested and make sure that he never saw me again.

For weeks my mom and several of my step-father’s family members would call and harass me and my grandparents, trying to get me to recant my allegations against my step-father. My grandparents finally bought me a new phone and screened phone calls on our home phone.

They also hired an attorney and were able to become my legal guardians. They also got me into professional counseling with a therapist who testified that I suffered from PTSD due to years of physical, emotional and sexual abuse and chronic neglect at the hands of my step-father.

When I first came to live with my grandparents in Nebraska I was failing all of my classes in school and I struggled with anger, depression and nightmares. But because of my grandparents love and support and the support of many of my friends, I am no longer a victim. I am a survivor. I am now a senior in high school and I have several offers from some of the best colleges in the country. I now live with my biological dad and my relationship with my mom is slowly getting better. I am looking forward to the future.

Epilogue

In February of 2015, Shelby’s step-father was convicted of sexual assault of a child in Sarpy County, Ne. for sexually molesting his then 11 year old step-daughter. (A third degree Felony) But he was allowed to plead guilty to a lesser charge of misdemeanor sexual assault. The judge sentenced him to only two years probation!

Ten days after Shelby’s step-father was released on probation he was arrested again on suspicion of child abuse—after throwing his 8 year old biological daughter across a room and into a wall. The remaining children were removed from the home and placed in foster care.

Shelby’s step-father never received jail-time for the child abuse against his biological daughter, but was sentenced to 180 days in jail for probation violations after being found with weapons, drug paraphernalia, pornographic material and use of alcohol and K-2 Synthetic Marijuana while on probation. He was released from jail after only serving 3 months and was allowed to move to a small town in Colorado where he was to register as a sex offender at the Sheriff’s Office there within 72 hours. He failed to register for more than two weeks. He is now free to possibly abuse other children.

Unfortunately, cases like this play out far too often.

Jesus said, “Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me, but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened around his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.” (Matthew 18:5-6) And yet most people are silent about the thousands of children throughout America who suffer from child sexual abuse and neglect each day. This not only has harmful consequences on the physical and emotional development and well-being of children, it can also carry over into their adulthood. Victims may exhibit regressive behaviors, sleep disturbances, eating disorders and may also become more susceptible to drug or alcohol abuse.

A flawed system

Many people believe that the Sex Offender Registry law (SOR) keeps a sex offender away from schools, playgrounds or places where children play. This is a common misperception.The SOR law in many states does not have the legal jurisdiction to prevent an offender from attending events, limiting employment, or restricting an offender from entering any facilities, or refrain from living with or socializing with children. The SOR law can only mandate that the offender register his or her required information at the sheriff’s office within the required time.

Approximately 60% of boys and 80% of girls who are sexually victimized are abused by someone known to the child or the child’s family. Relatives, step-parents, friends, persons in positions of authority over the child, or persons who supervise children are more likely than strangers to commit a sexual assault. And most convicted sex offenders are eventually released to the community under probation or parole supervision.

The police do their job and arrest these criminals, but then the prosecutors and judges allow them to plead to a lesser charge and hand down light sentences or probation that allows them to re-offend, placing the public at risk.

Many times there is more severe punishment for someone who abuses animals than for someone who abuses children. It is time we stand up for the victims of childhood sexual abuse. Because, “We who are strong have an obligation to bear with the failings of the weak, and not to just please ourselves.” (Romans 15:1)

What can we do?

Since this is an election year, this is a great time to write to your senators and legislators in your state and tell them to make sure that victims of sexual abuse receive justice from the courts. We can also send a strong message in November by voting “NO” to retain lenient judges.

There are also many helpful resources online:

https://www.rainn.org/articles/how-can-i-protect-my-child-sexual-assault

http://www.pandys.org/articles/protectyourchild.html

http://www.d2l.org/site/c.4dICIJOkGcISE/b.6035035/k.8258/Prevent_Child_Sexual_Abuse.htm#.V_ZbaDKZPVo

https://1in6.org/men/get-information/online-readings/others-who-were-involved-or-not/why-do-adults-fail-to-protect-children-from-sexual-abuse-or-exploitation/

If you’ve been sexually abused, you may feel broken and undeserving of love. You might respond to your abuse with anxiety, depression, self-loathing, self-harming actions, eating disorders, or addictions. But Satan doesn’t care how you react to the sexual abuse . . . as long as you don’t turn to Jesus. Because the enemy knows that when we find our identity, security, and dignity in Christ, we can live in victory.

Jesus, doesn’t see a broken person, he sees perfection—a beautiful person on the way to being healed.

Rosh Hashanah this year begins at sundown on October 2nd. It is the first of the fall festivals and considered to be the beginning of the lunar new year. The Feast of Tabernacles, or Sukkoth, follows soon after on October 16th.

The idea of using the first day of January to mark the beginning of the new year dates back to time of Julius Caesar—five decades before the birth of Jesus. Even as the Julian calendar spread in popularity, some areas continued to use dates in March and September as New Year’s Day.

It wasn’t until the 1570s that Pope Gregory put the Gregorian calendar into effect, restoring January 1st as the first day of the new year. This change in tradition wasn’t officially implemented by England until 1752.

I think it’s interesting, that January 1st of the Gregorian calendar went into effect as the new year in the1570’s but not officially accepted by England or the American colonies until nearly 200 hundred years later. So up until then, England and the American colonies were counting the new year from March 25th which is more closely aligned to the Hebrew lunar calendar.

Why did the Church stop observing the biblical feasts?

So when did God’s feasts stop being relevant to Christians and why? What happened long after Jesus’ death, Resurrection, the destruction of the Temple or even hundreds of years later that caused believers to abandon these biblical “Feasts of the Lord” in favor of new traditions?

According to Eusebius’ Life of Constantine, Book III chapter 18, the Roman emperor Constantine stated: “Let us then have nothing in common with the detestable Jewish crowd; for we have received from our Saviour a different way.”

Constantine was a worshiper of the sun-god Mithras and December 25th was Mithras’ birthday—that later became adopted as Christmas. A few decades after Christmas was adopted by Rome, the Roman Catholic John Chrysostom preached the following in 387 A.D.: “The festivals of the pitiful and miserable Jews are soon to march upon us one after the other and in quick succession: the feast of Trumpets, the feast of Tabernacles, the fasts. There are many in our ranks who say they think as we do. Yet some of these are going to watch the festivals and others will join the Jews in keeping their feasts and observing their fasts. I wish to drive this perverse custom from the Church right now…If the Jewish ceremonies are venerable and great, ours are lies…Does God hate their festivals and do you share in them?” (John Chrysostom. Homily I Against the Jews I:5;VI:5;VII:2. )

Notice that he did not say this or that festival, but all of them together.

Many Christians pick out Colossians 2:16-18 and mistakingly believe that Paul is telling us not to observe the feasts: Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day. These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ.”

But Paul is not telling us NOT to observe God’s festivals or Sabbaths, he is telling us not to let others JUDGE us when we DO observe them! And who were those Paul was speaking of who would judge them? The legalistic Jews who would impose man-made ordinances and rules on the new Jewish believers. But Paul tells them: “Since you died with Christ to the elemental spiritual forces of this world, why, as though you still belonged to the world, do you submit to its rules: Do not handle! Do not taste! Do not touch!’? These rules, which have to do with things that are all destined to perish with use, are based on merely human commands and teachings.” (Vs. 20-22)

The New Testament Christians kept the Fall Holy Days

The Apostles Paul wrote: “Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ.” (1 Corinthians 11:1) And that included keeping the biblical feast days.

Notice that even after the death and resurrection of Jesus, the importance that the Apostle Paul attached to keeping a Feast in Jerusalem: “I must by all means keep this coming feast in Jerusalem; but I will return again to you, God willing.” (Acts 18:21 KJV)

I find it interesting that many Bible translations today have removed the part of that verse that says, “I must by all means keep this coming feast in Jerusalem.” Compare it to the NIV which reads, “But as he left, he promised, “I will come back if it is God’s will.” Then he set sail from Ephesus.” Why no mention of keeping the feast in Jerusalem?

Feasts of the Lord—Not just Jewish feasts

In Leviticus 23:1-2 The Lord spoke to Moses, saying, “Speak to the people of Israel and say to them, These are the appointed feasts OF THE LORD that you shall proclaim as holy convocations; they are MY appointed feasts. (Emphasis mine)

Notice that God did not say, “These are Jewish feasts.” But he said, “These are the appointed feasts OF THE LORD.” And “They are MY appointed feasts.”

The Feast of Trumpets (Rosh Hashanah) 

And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, “Speak to the people of Israel, saying, In the seventh month, on the first day of the month, you shall observe a day of solemn rest, a memorial proclaimed with blast of trumpets, a holy convocation. You shall not do any ordinary work, and you shall present a food offering to the Lord.” -Leviticus 23:24-25

The Hebrew word “moed” is commonly translated “feast” or “festival” in the Bible, but it really means “appointment”. God has set a number of “divine appointments” with Him on the yearly calendar. Appointments that Jesus celebrated, that the first Christians celebrated, that foreshadows the return of Jesus for His bride and that the entire planet will celebrate during the 1000 year reign of Jesus on earth.

It is very important for believers to learn about these festivals, because God didn’t just create them for us to have a good time.  All of the festivals are about Jesus, and all of them are highly prophetic.

The Feasts are commanded to be observed forever.

In Zechariah 14:16-19 we read:Then the survivors from all the nations that have attacked Jerusalem will go up year after year to worship the King, the Lord Almighty, and to celebrate the Festival of Tabernacles. If any of the peoples of the earth do not go up to Jerusalem to worship the King, the Lord Almighty, they will have no rain. If the Egyptian people do not go up and take part, they will have no rain. The Lord will bring on them the plague he inflicts on the nations that do not go up to celebrate the Festival of Tabernacles. This will be the punishment of Egypt and the punishment of all the nations that do not go up to celebrate the Festival of Tabernacles.”

In Leviticus 23:41 the word used for “forever” is the Hebrew word, עוֹלָם (`owlam) and means, long duration, antiquity, futurity, everlasting, evermore, perpetual, always, continuous existence, unending, eternity—In other words, FOREVER!

The New Testament Greek word for forever is aion (ahee-ohn’) and means at all times, always, perpetual, continuously, or continuous—In other words, FOREVER!

The account in Zechariah 14 refers to the time AFTER Jesus returns to earth and emphasizes the fact that this Feast is a statute forever. All nations are commanded to observe this Feast in the millennium. Eventually, all nations will come to understand and appreciate God’s commanded Feasts.

Human tradition stops many from observing God’s feasts. Notice some of what Jesus taught about religious people who preferred traditions over the commands of the Bible:

“Hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy about you, saying: ‘These people draw near to Me with their mouth, And honor Me with their lips, But their heart is far from Me. And in vain they worship Me, Teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.” (Matthew 15:7-9)

Those who have their minds set on earthly things lose sight of the world to come. Their mind is on earthly things. But our citizenship is in heaven. (Phil.3:19) Esau was faithless and willing to give up his inheritance in exchange for the immediate gratification of his earthly hunger. But we do not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.

It is very easy to become ensnared by the superficial trappings of worldly comforts so that we fail to realize just how vulnerable and naked we are in this world.

The Sukkah reminds us of our weakness and vulnerability:

“Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary, troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. Now we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands.” (2 Corinthians 4:16-5:1)

The Feast of Tabernacles is not just to remind us that the Hebrews lived in booths, but also that God dwelt among his people. They were led by his glorious presence and the tabernacle of the Lord was pitched in the midst of their tents. The Sukkah reminds us that as we live within this mortal, temporary body, God also dwells with us as he leads us by His Spirit to our eternal dwelling.

Only when we put aside this earthly tent and receive our glorified immortal bodies will we rejoice in the ultimate fulfillment of God’s promises, yet we rejoice even now because we have been given the first-fruits of the Spirit guaranteeing our citizenship in the heavenly Jerusalem which is yet to be revealed.

Sadly, most Christians don’t know anything about these amazing festivals even though they are featured very prominently in the Scriptures.

Jesus said, “Don’t misunderstand why I have come. I did not come to abolish the law of Moses or the writings of the prophets. No, I came to accomplish their purpose. I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not even the smallest detail of God’s law will disappear until its purpose is achieved. So if you ignore the least commandment and teach others to do the same, you will be called the least in the Kingdom of Heaven. But anyone who obeys God’s laws and teaches them will be called great in the Kingdom of Heaven.” (Mathew 5:17-19 NLT)

The purpose of God’s law will not be achieved until after the return of Jesus. The only thing Jesus accomplished by his death and resurrection was the forgiveness of our sins and the giving of God’s Spirit. All through the New testament writings we read, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” Which commandments? All of them. (John 14:15, 21,23; John 15:10;1 John 2:3; 1 John 5:3; 2 John 1:6)

So should we obey the commandments of God as revealed in the Bible and observe His appointed feasts—as practiced by Jesus and the early Christian Church, or should we replace God’s feasts with the pagan-based holidays of the traditions of men?

As for me, I will reject the traditions of men and let God arise: