2019 – Don’t bet on it!
Now that the Christmas holidays have passed, the words on many people’s lips, and in their thoughts, are the new calendar year and what it will bring.
Resolutions…resolutions…resolutions have been made, and are being made. Within a few days or weeks of 2019, they will be broken, ignored, or abandoned as quickly as people made them. Recent studies people revealed people keep less than 10% of New Year resolutions.
The challenge for our people nowadays is hope. They need something to cling onto; something they can look forward to the next day, week, month or the coming year that will make life better for them. To make a New Year resolution stems from an old mythical practice to ancient gods. A little history.
The fact is New Year’s resolutions have a religious origin, but not from the Christian religion, as many people assume. Some 4, 000 years ago, Babylonians made promises to their gods at the start of each year in March; they would also return borrowed objects and pay their debts. They were the first to hold celebrations to honour the New Year. This occurred during a massive 12-day religious festival known as Akitu, when they crowned and reaffirmed loyalty to the reigning king.
About 46 BC, there was a similar practice in Rome, after Emperor Julius Caesar changed the calendar and established January 1, as the beginning of the New Year. They named the celebrations after Janus, the two-faced god whose spirit allegedly inhabited doorways and arches. Romans believed Janus looked backwards into the previous year and ahead into the future, so they offered sacrifices and made promises or resolutions of good conduct for the coming year. Christians adopted January 1 celebrations much later.
There’s no indication whatsoever of such a celebration in the primitive church or in the Holy Bible. In 1740, the English clergyman John Wesley, founder of Methodism, created the Covenant Renewal Service, also known as Watch Night Services, on New Year’s Eve or New Year’s Day.
They read the scriptures, sang hymns at the services. Now popular within evangelical Protestant churches, watch night services held on New Year’s Eve are spent praying and making resolutions for the coming year.
The course of human history has been one of suffering, hopelessness, and misunderstanding of the purpose of life. We, as a species, need some kind of tangible hope because we cannot solve our own problems. In many instances, we are using physical means to solve spiritual problems, and all the attempts to reach a solution, end in despair.
If you are betting or hoping that 2019 will be a better year for you, think again! Some people may see marginal or no change in their financial situation, which is the usual subject of focus; others may experience changes they had been looking forward to long ago. Yet others will see their various expectations deteriorate into the unmanageable, be it their financial affairs, marital status, romance, or health. The reality is though, no matter what you may achieve during 2019, it could all come to nought. How?
There’s a silent enemy that awaits us, and often times, we rarely think about it in our quest for better times ahead. It’s the enemy known as death that could, and will take your achievements and your failures away from you one day – and it could be 2019. Only one thing you can do about this enemy. One day, hopefully soon, this enemy will be no more.
While you may be hinging your bets and aspirations that 2019 is going to be better for you, remember your Creator, the God who made you – YAHWEH, the God of the Bible. He sent his only begotten Son, Jesus Christ, to die for all our sins. That, He did, and Jesus will have the victory over death in the fullness of time. Then, and only then, will humanity experience real hope and no need to make meaningless New Year resolutions.
What is the Lord’s Day?
“I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s Day, and heard behind me a great voice, as of a trumpet,” (Rev. 1:10 KJV).
Christendom uses this text to declare the first day of the week–the Lord’s Day, replaces the seventh-day Sabbath. Examine this text closely and you will agree it has nothing to do with Sunday, much less changing the Sabbath. We need to understand from a contextual and grammatical point of view, God was revealing to John, the events that would unfold upon the Earth, as outlined further in Revelation, the Apocalypse. That’s what the book of Revelation is all about. Note, “Write the things which thou hast seen, and the things which are, and the things which shall be hereafter,” (Verse 19). The vision was for him to write so humanity can know what lies ahead. It has nothing to do with a day of worship. Furthermore, the day of the Lord is mentioned many time in scriptures all indicating impending destruction on the Earth (Isaiah 2: 12-18; 13: 9; Jeremiah 46: 10; Joel 1: 15, 16; 2 Peter 3: 10). In other words, the Spirit transported John into the future to see what would befall humanity on the great and terrible day of the Lord or Lord’s Day. Grammatically, the Lord’s Day is another way of writing day of the Lord (genitive/possessive case).
The concept of the first day of the week meaning Lord’s Day did not come officially until the Council of Laodicea in the fourth century. In fact, the term “Lord’s Day” was quite popular in the fourth century as a reference to Sunday, the holy day of the sun God, Mithra, often called “lord.” The modern interpretation, so widely believed in Christianity, is putting words into John’s mouth to justify Sunday worship, much like the other texts used to prove it. There’s no scriptural evidence the first day of the week was used to describe “the Lord’s Day” before Revelation was written about 96 A.D., so how could John be referring to being in the Spirit on the first day of the week to mean Sunday? He would not have known about it! It does not make sense because the intent was not there! There’s not a single text in the Holy Bible that says Jesus Christ changed the Sabbath. He was on Earth for forty-days after his crucifixion. Why didn’t he observe Sunday? He had enough time to do it, but no, His followers continue to worship in the temple without changing anything (Luke 24:53). Think about that! The Lord’s Day then makes sense, in the context of the revelation to John, that it represented the coming Apocalypse as portrayed in the day of the Lord – a day of the coming destruction and calamity that will lead to the establishment of His Kingdom on Earth.
Saturday or Sunday? What does the Bible Say?
Are you a Christian who genuinely wants to follow your Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ? If you do, there’s no choice but to do what he says and follow His example.
Jesus Christ was the one given the direction by His Father to create the universe (Col. 1:16.). Jesus Christ created the Sabbath day and rested on it not because He was tired, but wanted to leave us an example to follow.
When Jesus was on Earth, he kept the Sabbath, His followers and the apostles did likewise, even long after He ascended to heaven. Jesus said “the Sabbath was created for man, not man (the Jews) for the Sabbath.” Isa. 66:22 says clearly all nations (not just the Jews) will have to worship Him on the Sabbath in the future. Why then a true Christian is not observing the seventh-day Sabbath? Some say God did not create the Sabbath for worship. How then it is going to be commanded for worship when the Kingdom of God is established! This position on the Sabbath is illogical and unbiblical!
Many argue the Sabbath was changed. Changed by whom? If the Bible is your sole authority on scripture, where does it say it has been changed? Jesus was on Earth for 40-days after his crucifixion and never once kept Sunday service, he went into the synagogue just like his followers. Explain that!
Still many, trying to use proof-texting to justify Sunday worship, which has no place in scripture, argue the Sabbath is not commanded in the New Testament. How convenient the other commandments apply, but not the Sabbath? Furthermore, you would be surprised there’s a commandment for Sabbath in the New Testament that many ignore. Hebrews 4 speaks of the millennial rest for the Christian and likens it to God’s Sabbath rest, but notice verse 9 “Therefore there remains a rest (Greek: Sabbatismos or the keeping of a Sabbath) to the people of God.” Well, some Bible translations correct remove the word rest and render the correct word “Sabbath.” Christendom, as usual, ignore the biblical and embrace the traditional, the very practice Jesus condemns in Matt. (15:9). You have a choice against the Word of God and the words and traditions of men. Ask yourself, what is so wrong with God’s holy Sabbath? He made the Sabbath holy, not Sunday.
Pentecost is not about ‘speaking in tongues’
The next important Holy Day on God’s “appointed times” calendar (Gen. 1:14 and Lev. 23), is the Day of Pentecost or Feast of Firstfruits, which will be on Sunday, June 4, 2017.
Lev. 23:14: “And ye shall eat neither bread, nor parched corn, nor green ears, until the selfsame day that ye have brought an offering unto your God: it shall be a statute for ever throughout your generations in all your dwellings. And ye shall count unto you from the morrow after the sabbath, from the day that ye brought the sheaf of the wave offering; seven sabbaths shall be complete.”
Seven weeks (49 days) are counted from the day after the weekly Sabbath that falls during the Days of Unleavened. The next day, Sunday, marks the 50th day. Pentecost means “fiftieth” or “count fifty.”
The Feast of Firstfruits or Pentecost is an Old Testament festival first instructed in Lev. 23. Many Christians today are ignorant of its origin and believe Pentecost is a New Testament concept. Many Christians call themselves Pentecostals and are not aware of its deeper meaning. Some pastors have even erroneously preached, “Pentecost was the first Sunday church service in the New Testament.” Wrong! Yes, it falls on a Sunday, but it is not about telling Christians they can now worship on Sundays or the beginning of a ‘tongue speaking’ movement. It was a high Holy Day or annual Sabbath of “the Lord thy God.” Many Christians stay far away from the word Sabbath, but you cannot get around this one; Pentecost is an annual Sabbath.
Had the pastors done their research or observe God’s biblical festivals, they wouldn’t make such a statement. Fact: The Feast of Firstfruits is one of God’s seven annual Holy Days or annual Sabbaths given by God in Lev. 23 – festivals He describes as “my feasts,” and “the feasts of the Lord.” Notice He didn’t say they are Jewish feasts. He gave them to Israel. Why? Israel was the only nation God was working with at the time.
Millions of Christians have made another blunder in equating Pentecost with the beginning of the tongue-speaking movement. In other words, the gift of ‘speaking in tongues’ started at Pentecost. No one can deny that a miracle occurred at the Pentecost gathering as recorded in Acts 2, but let us get some facts straight.
The first question one should ask is; why were God’s apostles and others gathered on the Day of Pentecost? To introduce Sunday worship? No! It was certainly for no Sunday service. There was no such gathering on Sundays at that time (except for the annual Sabbath of Pentecost), and furthermore, the very last verse in Luke tells us Jesus and His followers continued to worship in the temple following the practices they were taught up to the time Jesus ascended to heaven. Jesus didn’t keep Sunday. Jesus kept the seventh day Sabbath and the annual Sabbaths (John 7). These men of God knew and observed the Feast of Firstfruits because of their Hebraic practices and in obedience to God’s commandments. They were there to celebrate the feast, not to attend a Sunday service. Plain and simple, despite what some churches teach. Pentecost just happens to fall on a Sunday each year because of the counting of seven weeks and then the fiftieth day.
Remember Jesus told His followers earlier to “tarry (wait) at Jerusalem to receive power from on high,” Luke 24:49. Jesus knew they would be at Jerusalem for the festival. He was not telling them to “tarry’ to get the gift of speaking in “tongues,” (foreign languages) but to wait for fulfillment of the promise of the coming of the Comforter, The Holy Spirit. Jesus used the opportunity to make good on His promise at that gathering. The coming of “power” gave the men of God and the church the boost they needed because from there onwards, preaching the gospel would be different. The fulfillment was the birth of the church.
Men from all different ethnic backgrounds, as Acts recorded, gathered for the festival of firstfruits. A miracle happened. The “power from on high” gave the men utterance or words to proclaim and they “spake with other tongues (Gr. Glossa: language).” The miracle was “each one heard them speaking in his own tongue (or language).” That’s a far cry from what churches that claim to speak in tongues do nowadays. It bears no resemblance to what actually happened at Penecost.
Some groups have formed a whole religion from the Pentecost experience overlooking the purpose and meaning of the event. Some have gone as far as saying every Christian has to speak in tongues as evidence they have the Holy Spirit. Here’s what they have completely misunderstood. Pentecost was an unusual and miraculous event; its focus was not about tongue-speaking; they didn’t have and needed any interpreters; God used the occasion to empower the church. It didn’t mean churches could now “tarry for the Spirit” and introduce all manner of unbiblical principles to prove members speak in tongues because it is the only evidence of the presence of the Holy Spirit. Tarry means “wait,” not to keep pushing your hands in the air to bring the Holy Spirit upon you as many people practice nowadays. That did not happen at Pentecost and there was no need for it.
The meaning of the Feast of Firstfruits or Pentecost is much more than that. It’s a pity the message has been skewed and interpreted erroneously and has marred the deeper meaning of the festival. Many who observe it as a Sunday service have missed the message completely. Will they ever grasp the concept of what it is to be a “firstfruit,” the original meaning of the festival? Will they stop to notice the references to the concept of “firstfruits” in the New Testament and see how it ties in inspiringly with the birth of the church and the whole plan of God for humanity? Will these groups ever pause to consider the implications of “firstfruits” and the risen Saviour, the Christ? Will they grasp, to any degree, that Jesus Christ has been described as the ‘firstfruit,” of the harvest; in so doing, the Feast of Firstfruits or Pentecost also carries a picture of the resurrection of our Saviour?
It would serve well if we would turn our attention to the Bible and learn what it says about this significant festival. Understandably, many people don’t understand the concept of “firstfruits,” in the New Testament and its link to Pentecost. It is one of God’s annual Sabbaths, which Christianity has largely ignored and instead embraced man-made festivals such as Christmas and Easter. Unless you have an understanding of the concept of these festivals, which outline God’s plan for humanity, that both Old and New Testaments teach clearly, there will be confusion.
1 Cor. 15:20 clearly describes Jesus Christ as the firstfruits of the harvest. “But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.” In other words, Christ is the first or the “firstfruits” of those who will come up in the first resurrection. He is already risen and as verse 23 says “But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ’s at his coming.” Can you see the connection with the Feast of Firstfruits (from the grain harvest in the Old Testament) and Jesus Christ the firstfruits of the great harvest of humanity portrayed in the New Testament? Can the Bible get any clearer than that? Many don’t read it and leave it up their pastors to interpret, and so, if the pastors make an error, everyone follows the error. Here’s an opportunity to learn the truth about Pentecost, the Feast of Firsfruits and what it means for your future and the future of all humanity.
There is only one true God
Isa 45:5 “I am the LORD, and there is none else, there is no God beside me: I girded thee, though thou hast not known me…”
1 Kings 8:60 “…that all the people of the earth may know that the LORD is God, and that there is none else.”
1 Chronicles 17:20 “O LORD, there is none like thee, neither is there any God beside thee.”
Psalm 86:10 “For thou art great, and doest wondrous things: thou art God alone.”
Isaiah 37:16,20 “O LORD of hosts, God of Israel, that dwellest between the cherubims, thou art the God, even thou alone.”
John 17:3 “And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.
1 Timothy 2:5 “For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.”
James 2:19 “Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble.”
If you believe the God of the Bible, YAHWEH, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and what He says in His holy word, you should have no problem joining the wave of people who are promoting the concept that all religions lead to the same God. The belief is these gods may have different names, but they all stem from the same deity and they are one. If you don’t believe the God of the Bible is the only True and Living God, you are branded a bigot.
The fact is all religions teach that their god is true; some may teach they, too, have the only true god, yet they are not branded bigots. However, if you are a true Christian who upholds the teachings of the Bible, be prepared to be branded a bigot. Question: how could these other gods be true when the God of the Bible is the first known God to humanity? All the other gods came after!
If you are a true follower of Jesus Christ, and you believe what He says, how can you think there are other true religions outside Christianity, when your all-knowing God, who CANNOT lie says, “there is no God beside me… before me, there was no god formed.” YAHWEH is simply saying all the other religions are false! Those are His words, not ours! We are only conveyors of His words, which we also believe. Furthermore, in the second commandment, He tells us “thou shalt have no other gods before me,” and we are also told in Acts 4:12 “And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved.”
Political correctness has taken hold of the views of many professing Christians who would rather bow to the dictates of society than to the inerrant Word of God. It’s a movement that is gaining momentum and many Christians are falling for it. God warns us in Matt. 10:23 “But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven.” Furthermore, He says in 2 Tim. 1:8 “Be not thou therefore ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me his prisoner: but be thou partaker of the afflictions of the gospel according to the power of God.”
As the perilous or dangerous times spoken of in 2 Tim. 3:1 faces us, the belief that all roads lead to the same God is going to be more pronounced. “This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come.2 For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy,3 Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good,4 Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God;5 Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.6 For of this sort are they which creep into houses, and lead captive silly women laden with sins, led away with divers lusts,7 Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.
The Word of God will prevail. Humans are temporary beings who can believe anything they wish because God created them that way. However, because He has given us choice, telling us to choose (eternal) life over death, you are the one to decide whether there are other gods beside Him. Some say as long as you are a kind, sincere, and loving person it doesn’t matter who you accept as God. The God of the Bible does not accept that teaching because He tells us repeatedly “beside Me, there is no other god.” Isn’t it time to accept God’s words and not the words of men?
The New Year Myth
“Happy New Year,” or “Best wishes for the New Year,” are common greetings this time of the year. But what New Year? The calendar year, of course. That’s what it is, a calendar year designed by men, and not by God.
God’s sacred year begins in the spring. That makes all the sense you need to tell you a new year could never begin in the winter in January. No, it’s the spring when everything begins a anew – new life.
The Word of God says in Exodus 12:3 This month (Nisan, in March) shall be unto you the beginning of months: it shall be the first month of the year to you.
So, where did this modern day fixture of the New Year starting in January come from? Why do we have all these celebrations; people making resolutions; churches blindly having “watch night,” services and a host of other activities?
In this post-modern era, it is not a surprise for the populace, especially the professing Christian world, to reject the precepts, statues and commandments of the Almighty God, to embrace pagan traditions such as Christmas, Easter and New Year, at the expense of God’s truths. Jesus spoke about this very concept in Matt. 15:8 “These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. They worship me in vain; they teach as doctrine the commandments of men.”
Jesus, the Christ, God’s Anointed One, Lord and Saviour of all humanity, Very God, is not mincing words here. He’s saying you worship Him in vain if you reject His word and embrace man-made teaching. The churches that have watch night services need to re-examine this teaching because the January New Year teaching is not biblical. It’s just a calendar year with no religious significance.
Where did this calendar come from? “New Year’s Day, also called simply New Year’s or New Year, is observed on January 1, the first day of the year on the modern Gregorian calendar as well as the Julian calendar. In pre-Christian Rome under the Julian calendar, the day was dedicated to Janus, god of gateways and beginnings, for whom January is also named. The first time the new year was celebrated on January 1 was in Rome in 153 BC (In fact, the month of January did not even exist until around 700 BC, when the second king of Rome, Numa Pontilius, added the months of January and February.) The new year was moved from March to January because that was the beginning of the civil year, the month that the two newly elected Roman consuls – the highest officials in the Roman republic – began their one-year tenure. But this new year date was not always strictly and widely observed, and the new year was still sometimes celebrated on March 1.” (Wikipedia).
Obviously, there’s a lot of history regarding current day acceptance of the January New Year beginning, however, one thing is certain – it has no biblical ground. The influence of paganism is deeply entrenched in our way of life today with the biggest Christian festivals being pagan in nature, the days of the week, months of the year, the planets and so on all named after pagan deities. We accept them as a way of life and nothing is inherently wrong with that. It becomes a problem when we attach biblical linkages with them as if they came as an edict from God. Whenever God’s wants us to do something He tells us; the celebrations He wants us to adopt are all in the Lev. 23. Our New Year celebrations are filled with pagan customs, a practice God hates (Deut. 12:30).
Let’s not behave as if God doesn’t not know what He’s doing or He must have forgotten to tell us the date of His birth or the New Year so we should make up for the lapse and institute our own celebration dates. No, God does not operate in that way. He’s a God of detail and anything He wants humanity to do, rest assured, it is written down in the instruction book or manual known as The Holy Bible.
Will Christmas be celebrated in the Kingdom of God or is it the biblical festivals?
Stop! Think! Listen! Before you start to immerse yourself once again in all the trappings of the upcoming Christmas season, pause for a few seconds and ask yourself this question: Will Christmas be celebrated in the Kingdom of God? Furthermore, when our Saviour Jesus, the Christ, meets the saints for the marriage supper of the Lamb (Rev: 19.9), and all the other important happenings that will occur in the new kingdom under divine rule, will Christmas be acknowledged?
Listen to this. If we should go by the scriptures, the celebration of Christmas in the Kingdom of God won’t stand a chance. Why? It is not even mentioned! Most of us are aware that indeed the birth of Christ narrative is told in Matthew and Luke, and foretold in a number of Old Testament books. What is not told is the date of his birth or the celebrations associated with it. Why? The answer is simple. Christmas is a man-made holiday copied from a pagan festival – worship that God abhors.
The Eternal gives us laws, statutes, and ways to worship him. He gave us his annual or biblical festivals (Lev. 23), not Christmas or Easter. God’s laws go as far back as in the Garden of Eden when He gave His commands to Adam and Eve. One cannot worship God without obeying Him. It’s simple; we cannot honor him with our lips while our heart is far from him (Matt. 15.8).
Fact. Jesus never observed His birthday while He was on the Earth, neither did his disciples or his apostles. If Jesus wanted that to be done, surely He would have let us know the day and did it as an example for us to follow. There are some many instances in scripture where it’s noted that certain incidents occurred in order to leave us an example to follow – annual and weekly Sabbaths, Passover, baptism. Why would Jesus want us to celebrate his birthday and then hide the day from us? Our God is not the author of confusion (1 Cor. 14:33) and would do no such thing.
Fiction. Christmas honors Christ because people take time out to worship Him, express brotherly love towards one another through the exchange of gifts, feeding the poor and coming together for family meals. The reality is all of these actions can be done any time throughout the year, yet it is a common argument used by defenders of this pagan festival, who are clutching at straws to prove that “Christ is in Christmas.” The commercialization of the season has become so outrageous that every year we hear calls for putting Christ back into Christmas. The fact is Christ has never been in it! His name is in the spelling but the Word of God does not sanctify this pagan festival! It is not a holy festival because only God can deem what is holy from what is not.
The pressing question is how did we, as a society, get caught up into all these trappings that have drawn millions to genuinely believe they honor God? Stop for a minute! What does the Christmas tree has to do with Jesus’ birth? How does excess drinking and eating honor Christ? Is it a mere coincident that December 25, was also the date use to honor the sun god in the ancient pagan festival known as Saturnalia? How does that fit into Deuteronomy 12: 30-32? Is God pleased when we adore him by following the way some people worship their strange gods? The scriptures are clear on that. Israel did just that and God said it was an abomination to him.
It would come as a surprise to many people that when the Kingdom of God is established on the earth, one of the first edicts (“the law shall go forth out of Zion”) that will be enforced will be the requirement for all nations to come up to Jerusalem to keep the Feast of Tabernacles, one of his seven biblical festivals outlined in Lev. 23. Note that carefully, not Israel alone, all nations. If we will be required to keep the biblical festivals in the future, why are our pastors and preachers not instructing adherents to the faith to keep these festivals of God as instructed in Lev. 23? Instead, they preach pagan holidays whitewashed and called Christian. Who determines what is holy to God? Man or God? Please don’t call these festivals Jewish. God says these are “my feasts.”
What’s the Feast of Tabernacles, you may ask. It’s one of the Old Testament Festivals given by God in Lev. 23 – festivals that God says are his, not Israel’s. “Even these are my feasts,” he says.
Isn’t it quite refreshing to learn that God’s festivals, as outlined in Lev. 23, will be kept in the new kingdom, whereas the utterly pagan festival of Christmas that has nothing to do with the birth of Christ, is not mentioned. The bigger question is: why shouldn’t we be observing these festivals instead of pagan festivals such as Christmas and Easter? How can we honor Christ with pagan festivals yet abandoned his own festivals and call them Jewish. In any case, wasn’t Christ a Jew and didn’t he say “salvation is of the Jews?”
My friends, choose who you will follow this day: God or mammon. You will have to decide.