Posts Tagged ‘christianity’

What does the word ‘Christian’ mean to you?

Click here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wujVMIYzYXg

Jesus said that a house divided can not stand. But Christians are sometimes divided over issues that are not central to the Bible’s teachings. The Body of Christ should not be divided against itself, yet many times we are attacking each other over any belief that differs from our own. Jesus told us that the world would know we are his disciples by the love we have for one another—not how well we argue our point toward one another other. (John 13:35) 

When Christians insult other Christians

Whenever Christians use any political figure, party, or ideology as an excuse to objectify, insult, humiliate or dehumanize another brother or sister in Christ, we fail to live up to our discipleship. Remember, the world is watching (And reading our posts). How then can they know that as Christians we are different from their worldly mindset if we act the same way as the world does? That is exactly what Satan delights in. What do you think Jesus thinks of us when he sees us fighting over issues that are not essential to our own salvation—and then tell others about how we were changed by the love of Christ?

The Apostle John spelled it out clearly, leaving no room for doubt about who are Christ’s: “Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen.” (I John 4:20 NLT) If we are constantly insulting other believers, then the love of God is not indwelling in us. And if anyone uses hateful language against their brother or sister because of their beliefs, then the love God is not in them. In I John 1:6, John is saying that we are being a hypocrite if we say that we are in fellowship with God and yet treat our fellow Christians like enemies: “If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth.”  

Jesus commanded us to pray for our enemies. How much more then should we be praying for other believers and loving one another instead of arguing and insulting one another?

“Put to death therefore what is earthly in you…But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth.” (Colossians 3:5-8) 

Don’t just tell people you’re a Christian—Live like one

“…But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing. If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person’s religion is worthless. Religion that is pure and undefiled before God the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.” (James 1:22-27) 

If we went before a congregation and repeated a “sinner’s prayer” and listened to a sermon every day of the week by an angel from heaven, yet relied on hearing the word only, it would never bring us to heaven. Hearers of the word only are self-deceivers; and in the end, self-deceit will be the worst deceit of all. It is not what we hear, but how we live before men, that will bring us into heaven. And then Jesus will become even more precious to our soul and make us more fitted for the inheritance that awaits us in paradise.

Remember: Judgment is to begin with the household of God. And, if the righteous are barely saved, what will happen to godless sinners? (1 Peter 4:17-18)

I write this in the hope that God’s people will repent of their wickedness, turn back to God and obey His word. I pray that I will see it in my lifetime.

 

Advertisements

“We weaken our greatness when we confuse our patriotism with tribal rivalries that have sown resentment and hatred and violence in all the corners of the globe. We weaken it when we hide behind walls, rather than tear them down, when we doubt the power of our ideals, rather than trust them to be the great force for change they have always been.”  – Senator John McCain (2018)

Wiser words were never spoken in our modern time. And yet, this is exactly what has happened, and continues to happen in our world. The question is, Why? 

The answer lies within the pages of the Bible:

“…because they refused the love of the truth that would have saved them. For this reason, God will send them a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie, in order that judgment will come upon all who have disbelieved the truth and delighted in wickedness…” – 2 Thessalonians 2:10-12 –

“And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion”… In the Last Days many will be deceived by their own sin, and the strong delusion is their punishment. They did not receive the truth or love it, which was their sin; and therefore are given up to believe a lie. Had they received the truth, they might be saved; but not receiving it, they are lost. So that although God is not the author of sin or falsehood, yet he may in justice give them over to their sin, which the apostle calls God’s sending them a strong delusion. It is their punishment; a making of their own, not of God. (See Romans 1: 23-25) 

2 Timothy 3:1-5 warns: “But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people.” Sound familiar?

These verses are mainly describing unbelievers in the last days before Jesus returns, but sadly, today they could also apply to those who claim to be Bible believing followers of Jesus. More and more of these so-called believers are demeaning others on Face Book and other social media who happen to disagree with them—Even promoting violence on those who happen to have different views. So many are complaining and arguing over political views—some even coming to blows simply because of their political affiliation.

The Bible teaches us that we will reap whatever we sow. (Galatians 6:7-8; Proverbs 22:8; Jeremiah 17:10)  We’ve replaced the Bible and prayer in our public schools with metal detectors and police security. Those who were designed and appointed to help us and be examples for us—from our teachers and coaches, to our legislators, to the local priest and pastor, on up to the President, have fallen and have led us to the brink of destruction. And no one seems to realize that God may have placed those very people in their positions in order to lead His people to repent of their wickedness and turn once again to Him. (See Psalm 75;4-8; Daniel 2:21)

When people in positions of authority do something stupid and unethical, all of us who are under their authority suffer. But God’s plan cannot be stopped or even slowed by the feeble efforts of wicked men.

Throughout history God has always used wicked leaders to bring repentance unto righteousness in His people. The prophet Habakkuk wrote during the troubled times before Judah’s captivity. During this period, foreign powers invaded Israel again and again, and inside the nation known as God’s people, evil and immorality raged. (Habakkuk 1:5-11) The prophet Jeremiah, a contemporary of Habakkuk, also warned of God’s coming judgment. Many Israelites were confused. Why would a holy God allow such evil to continue? Are we not God’s chosen people?

Is not that the same thing that many Christians today would say? Our nation has been blessed because our country’s beginnings were based on Biblical principals. But because we are so blessed, we have become complacent. Like Israel of old, we fail to seek God; to defend His Word, and to declare His Gospel, because our lives are so comfortable. Rather than making disciples of all nations, we gradually have become just like the world. So God will use our suffering under wicked leadership to try to wake us from our slumber and lead us to repentance. 

We just celebrated the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. who stood up for the poor and the downtrodden of his day. He believed with all his heart that no matter what the color of our skin or the place of our birth, we are all created equal by God. Sadly, Dr. King would cringe if he could see what’s happening in America today and what has happened to his dream.

It has passed the time for Christians to stop blindly following the ways of the world like a bunch of unthinking zombies and return to the ways of God!

 

Behold the Lord’s hand is not shortened that it cannot save, nor his ear heavy that it cannot hear, but your sins have separated you from your God and your sins have hidden his face from you so that he will not hear.” (Isaiah 59: 1-2)

“When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command the locust to devour the land, or send pestilence among my people, if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn away from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven, and forgive their sins and heal their land.” (II Chronicles 7: 13,14)

 

Many modern day Christians are taught to believe that the Northern Ten Tribes of Israel divorced themselves from Jerusalem and gave up their observance of the Sabbath and God’s Feast Days and that they became virtual pagans in belief. 

They also believe that the Christian Church became “spiritual Israel” after God rejected physical Israel for its sins against Him and that Jesus’ death and resurrection put an end to our observance of God’s Mosaic Laws. 

The simple truth is, the northern ten tribes of Israel were never actually lost. The New Testament itself shows that the location of the ten tribes of Israel were well known to Jesus and the apostles in the first century. 

Let’s start with the writings of James, the son of Joseph and Mary who was born after the birth of Jesus. James knew exactly where the members of all the twelve tribes of Israel were in the first century and he addressed his letter to them. He writes in James 1:1, “James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, to the TWELVE TRIBES SCATTERED ABROAD, greetings.” (Emphasis mine)

The apostle Peter also knew the location of the twelve tribes of Israel: “Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, To the elect, exiles of the Dispersion throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia…” (1 Peter 1:1) 

The contents of James’ letter is directed at the “twelve tribes scattered abroad”, not just the tribe of Judah. (The Jews) James’ letters were most likely read in the synagogues where many of them attended on the seventh day Sabbath. In fact, in James 2:2 the word “assembly” in the King James Version is actually “synagogue,” the official meeting place that the Hebrews, Jews and non-Jews alike, attended throughout the world. The KJV should have translated it that way. 

James did not have to point out the importance of observing Sabbath, and celebrating God’s Feast Days because they were already observing them! They were familiar with all of the Psalms of the Old Testament (James 5:13); they knew what the technical Hebrew term “Lord of Sabbath” meant (James 5:4); and they were completely knowledgeable of all the teachings of the Old Testament prophets. (James 5:10) 

Indeed, so familiar were these twelve tribes with “the Scripture” (that is, the Old Testament) that James simply referred to the Holy Scripture as authority without once having to define it to those tribes who were scattered away from Jerusalem. (James 2:8) In fact, many of them had become “teachers” or”masters” in matters concerning the Scriptures. (James 3:1) Interestingly, many modern translations have changed James 5:13 to read sing “praises” instead of Psalms. And changed James 5:4 from “Lord of the Sabbath”, to “Lord of Hosts”. I wonder why?

In Peter’s letter he writes: “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time.” Does this sound like he was writing to a group of pagans who gave up their observance of God’s commandments?

Many point to the apostle Paul and his writings as proof that God rejected Israel and replaced them with the Gentiles. First we need to realize that the word “gentile” is a misinterpretation of the word, “goyim” which simply means non-Jew. You see, all Jews are Israelites, but not all Israelites are Jews.

The primary reason that Paul chose to leave Jerusalem and go and preach to the Gentiles (non-Jews) is because the Jews, out of jealousy, rejected Paul’s teaching. (Acts 13:45-46)

Concerning the Church in Rome Paul writes, ”For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge. For, being ignorant of the righteousness of God, and seeking to establish their own, they did not submit to God’s righteousness. For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.” (Romans 10:3-4) Many Christians today misinterpret this verse to mean that Christ ended the law. But that is not what Paul wrote. He wrote that “Christ is THE END of the law” not that Christ ENDED the law.

As clear as Paul could make it, he stated that “Israel” (that is, representatives of all twelve tribes) were in the first century trying to establish their own righteousness by obedience to the Law of Moses. In no way does this describe Pagan sun-god worshippers. All of Romans chapters nine, ten and eleven concerns this very matter of Israel’s attachment to the Law of Moses for their salvation. Paul and all the apostles made extra effort to teach that salvation only comes by faith alone in Messiah.

The fact is, both the apostle Peter and James (heads of the Jerusalem Church) were well aware of exactly where the peoples of the northern ten tribes of Israel were then located. They were then living north and east of Jerusalem. We have the precise statements of Josephus (the Jewish priest and historian of the first century) that the Northern Ten Tribes were in no way lost. “There are two tribes in Asia and Europe subject to the Romans, while until now there have been ten tribes beyond the Euphrates who number into the countless myriads whose number cannot be ascertained.” (Antiquities XI. 133)

One of the primary prophetic teachings concerning the fate of the northern ten tribes of Israel is the fact that they would become “wanderers among the nations.” (Hosea 9:17) Amos said the same thing. “For, lo, I will command, and I will sift the house of Israel among all nations, like as corn is sifted in a sieve, yet shall not the least grain fall upon the earth.” (Amos 9:9)

There is also other prophecies concerning the tribes of Israel. God told Abraham that he would be a father of many nations. (Genesis 17:1-6) And Jacob was told that his descendants would be as numerous as the grains of dust on the earth and that they would expand to the west, east, north and south. (Genesis 28:14-15) These prophecies speak of multiple generations and seeds, not the single seed of Messiah. The tribe of Judah (the Jews) have never been more than one nation.

So where exactly did the ten tribes go? Egypt, Asia, Ireland, Scotland, Italy, Greece and most of Europe. So if your ancestors originate from any of those places I can almost guarantee that you are a descendant of one of the ten tribes of Israel. Proof of this can be found in Old Testament prophecies and historical documents. This should place a new perspective on God’s commandments and His Feast Days for you. 

In Jeremiah 1:10 God commissions Jeremiah to “…uproot and tear down, to destroy and overthrow, to build and plant.” Judah’s throne was overthrown and destroyed during the Babylonian captivity in 585 BC. Israel was planted and built up. But not in Babylon. Jeremiah was allowed to leave Babylon with King Zedekiah’s daughters. You see, in the Babylonian mind, women could not inherit the throne.

So where did Jeremiah and the king’s daughters travel to? North and west of Palestine. Which today would be the British Isles, Ireland and Scotland. The tribe of Dan always named cities they conquered after themselves. (Judges 18:11-12; Joshua 19:47) The annals of Irish history tells of a strong colony called Tautha de Danaans (Tribe of Dan) who arrived in ships around 700 BC and drove out others who settled there. 

Cities in Ireland: 

DANslaugh, DANsower,  DUNglow and DUNsmore. Dunn in Irish means judge—the same as Dan in Hebrew. Scotland also has cities beginning with Dun.

(For more information on Jeremiah and his trip to Ireland see https://www.cbcg.org/booklets/america-britain/chapter-twelve-the-prophet-jeremiah-s-mysterious-royal-commission.html)

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 first Feast—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) In Lev. 23:2 God leaves us with no doubt as to whom these observances belong. They are God’s Feasts—not Israel’s; and not the Jews’. 

Obeying God’s commandments and observing His Feast Days has nothing to do with salvation. We cannot make God love us more if we obey Him, and He will not love us any less if we don’t. But BECAUSE we love God we obey His commandments.

“By this we know that we love the children of God: when we love God and keep His commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome.” (1 John 5:2-3)

“If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.” (John 14:15)

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

When my children were small they obeyed my rules. Not because they thought I would love them more if they obeyed me, or feared that I would love them less if they disobeyed. But BECAUSE they loved me, they obeyed my rules.

Human tradition stops many of us from obeying God’s commandments and observing God’s feasts. We read in Isaiah 29:13-14: “These people draw near to Me with their mouths and honor Me with their lips, but their hearts are far from Me. Their worship of Me is but rules taught by men. Therefore I will again confound these people with wonder upon wonder. The wisdom of the wise will perish, and the intelligence of the intelligent will be hidden.” Sound familiar? Jesus quoted that same Scripture to the Pharisees in Matthew 15:8-9.

Many Christians today have been taught that we unable to keep God’s commandments. That is why Jesus had to die for us. No! Jesus had to die for us because we carried in us the condemnation of original sin. And Jesus was made to be the sacrifice for that sin. If we are unable to keep God’s commandments, why then did God say in Deuteronomy 30:11-14, “For this commandment which I command you today is not mysterious for you, nor is it far off. It is not in heaven, that you should say, `Who will ascend into heaven for us and bring it to us, that we may hear it and do it?’ Nor is it beyond the sea, that you should say, `Who will go over the sea for us and bring it to us, that we may hear it and do it?’ But the word is very near you, in your mouth and in your heart, that YOU MAY DO IT.” (Emphasis mine) Why would God command us to do something that He knew we were incapable of doing? He wouldn’t.

 

Yes, many of us have fallen into temptation, but that is different from knowingly and purposely disobeying God’s commandments. The apostle Paul explains that the Law is holy, and the commandment is holy, righteous, and good. God’s laws are not the problem; WE are the problem. And trusting in Jesus is our only solution.

“Once I was alive apart from the Law; but when the commandment came, sin sprang to life and I died. So I discovered that the very commandment that was meant to bring life actually brought death. For sin, seizing its opportunity through the commandment, deceived me and through the commandment put me to death. So then, the Law is holy, and the commandment is holy, righteous, and good…So this is the principle I have discovered: When I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s Law. But I see another law at work in my body, warring against the law of my mind and holding me captive to the law of sin that dwells within me. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God, through Jesus Christ our Lord!” (Romans 7:9-25)

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.