Joy to the world, the Lord is come! Let earth receive her King. These words are from the popular carol that is often sung during the Christmas season. Many celebrate Christmas under the assumption that Christ was born on December 25th—but was He? What time of year was Christ actually born? While the Bible does not mention the exact date, both secular and biblical sources, can be used to determine that Christ was not born in the dead of winter, but around the time of the fall Holy Day season.
Census of Quirinius
Luke’s account of Christ’s birth mentions a census (Luke 2:1–7). This registration and taxation were carried out according to the Jewish manner. This would mean that taxes would be collected after the fall harvest season approximately September or October, not in the winter (The New Unger’s Bible Dictionary, Chronology, New Testament, p. 230). This census record calls to question a winter birth of Christ. A winter census would require the populace to travel from all over the country in severe weather making the journey dangerous and harsh. Furthermore, a census occurring after the harvest season in the fall would reduce the economic effect because roads would be dry thus allowing much easier and faster travel.
Another piece of evidence Luke provides proving Christ’s birth to be in the fall is that there were no rooms available in the inn because thousands of people were arriving for the census. Additionally, other sources argue that many people were already in Jerusalem to observe the fall Holy Days and Bethlehem was crowded due to its proximity to Jerusalem.
Shepherds in the Field
The gospel of Luke provides yet another piece of evidence pointing to a fall birth,
“Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flocks by night. (Luke 2:8)
This argues against a winter birth of Christ in December, because it would have been too cold for shepherds to stay outside throughout the night.
“…It is also a fact that the Jews sent their flocks out into the mountainous and desert regions during the summer months, and took them up in the latter part of October or the first of November, when the cold weather commenced. While away in these deserts and mountainous regions, it was proper that there should be someone to attend them to keep them from straying, and from the ravages of wolves and other wild beasts. It is probable from this that our Saviour was born before the 25th of December, or before what we call “Christmas.” At that time it is cold, and especially in the high and mountainous regions about Bethlehem…” (Barnes Notes on The New Testament, note on Luke 2:8).
The Birth of John, the Baptist
The scriptural events surrounding the birth of John, the Baptist, provides further evidence of a fall birth. Luke’s gospel account reveals that the conception of Elizabeth, mother of John, the Baptist, occurred six months before Mary’s conception of Jesus (Luke 1:36). Hence, determining the time of John, the Baptist’s, birth will lead to the time of Christ’s birth.
To do this, we need to understand the course of Abijah is key to correctly placing John’s birth. Concerning the preceding events to John’s birth, the gospel of Luke mentions that Zacharias was serving in the temple during the course of Abijah when and angel appeared to him and announced that his wife would have a child (Luke 1:5-13). It further mentions that Elizabeth conceived John in the days shortly after Zacharias’ course was completed (Luke 1:24).
King David divided the service of the priests into 24 courses or divisions (1 Chron. 24:3–19). Each division was assigned to work one full week and the service rotated to the next course until all courses were served.
It took six months for all the courses to be served and then the rotation would start again. Each priest served a one-week shift twice a year. The Bible reveals that the 12 tribes of Israel had their representatives serving by course. The first course commenced in the first month (1 Chron. 27:2). The first month for service in the temple was Nissan (March-April). Thus, this was also the first month for the priestly courses. The beginning point of the next rotation would be Tishri (September-October).
Let’s consider Zacharias’ first shift of service. The 8th course would normally start a little less than three months from the beginning of the ecclesiastical year. The dispute among dates when the 8th course would begin and end varies among different sources. However, a safe range that encompasses most disputed dates for the course of Abijah would be May 22nd-June 20th. Elizabeth then conceives in the immediate days following. Nine months after would put John, the Baptist’s, birth according to most sources in March-April. Christ’s birth then following six months later would occur between September-October. This would support the time when the census took place as well as the time shepherds would be watching their flocks by night. It would be in the fall, after the harvest!
In conclusion, when considering the secular and biblical evidence it’s apparent that Christ’s birth took place between the months of September and/or early
October. This is also the time when the fall Holy Days occurred. A winter birth in
December is incorrect given all the evidence discussed above.
Although the Bible does not mention the exact date of Christ’s birth, it is very plausible it fell on the Feast of Trumpets or during the Feast of Tabernacles which several sources claim. Numerous passages in the Bible picture the Feast of Trumpets as the coming of Christ. This being the case, isn’t it reasonable that God could choose the Feast of Trumpets as a day of Christ’s birth? Similarly, the same could be said regarding the Feast of Tabernacles. This Feast pictures the Kingdom of God and more appropriately Christ coming to tabernacle with us. Again, is it not possible for God to choose a date that falls during the Feast of Tabernacles for the Saviour’s birth?
The point is, the birth of Christ on either of these fall festival days would be in perfect harmony with God’s marvelous plan portrayed by these and the other Holy Days. Most importantly, we need to remember Christ is the central figure in all the Holy Days.
Therefore, if we want to take part in a festival that has a direct connection to Christ why not consider observing the Biblical Holy Days (Lev. 23). How much more appropriate would it be to sing, “Joy to the world, the Lord is come!” not in the dead of winter, but during the fall Holy Day festivals !
Some pastors are giving millions of Christians a false hope. They tell them once you are baptized and you receive God’s Holy Spirit, you cannot lose your salvation. Is that what the Bible teaches?
The Holy Bible does not contradict itself, but if some preachers are informing adherents that it doesn’t matter what they do or how they live after becoming a Christian, they are the ones contradicting the Word of God with their reckless teaching.
The Holy Bible, through experiences and examples, is about admonishing Christians to continue on “the straight and narrow,” way in order to inherit the kingdom of God. “To him that overcometh (sin) will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne,”(Rev. 3:21). Christ says the life of the Christian is not going to be easy but “if we suffer with Him we will be glorified with Him,” (Romans. 8:17). He knew we can sin and we could eventually lose our salvation.
Advocates of one saved, always saved, cannot adequately answer the following scriptures and a host of others in a meaningful, methodical, and contextual way:
Hebrews 6:4-6 “ For it is impossible, in the case of those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, and have shared in the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the age to come, and then have fallen away, to restore them again to repentance, since they are crucifying once again the Son of God to their own harm and holding him up to contempt.”
“For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins,” Hebrews 10:26
Rev. 2: 10 “Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Behold, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and for ten days you will have tribulation. Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life.”
Rev. 3:5. “The one who conquers will be clothed thus in white garments, and I will never blot his name out of the book of life. I will confess his name before my Father and before his angels.”
John 10:28 is one of those scriptures readily quoted as proving once saved, always saved. If you read Romans 8:39, you see similar language usage – nothing in creation will be able to separate us from the love of God. In other words, no one can nullify our salvation or no one can remove God’s grace from us. That is so different from saying we cannot lose our salvation. But, as usual, scriptures are twisted to justify an unbiblical teaching and it’s no wonder we hear people say the Bible contradict itself. Man’s reasoning or interpretation is where the contradiction comes from. “Let God be true and every man but a liar, “Romans 3:3). Once saved, always saved – false!
Do you honestly believe there’s a difference between the ancient celebration called Saturnalia and what we observed today as Christmas, the so-called birthday of Jesus Christ, the Saviour of the world? It’s time you read and learn the truth that Christmas is not biblically supported and has nothing to do with the birth of Christ. The festivals of God outlined in Lev. 23. are his true festivals, not the pagan Christmas, or to be precise – Saturnalia!
Saturnalia was an ancient Roman festival celebrated to honour the god Saturn. The celebration would start in mid-December and last from five to seven days, during which the courts and normal community business would be suspended.
The Collins Encyclopaedia describes Saturnalia as a “large and important public festival” that took place in ancient Egypt from as early as 3000 B.C. in the days of King Osiris and his wife, Isis. After the death of King Osiris, his wife Isis propagated that a full-grown evergreen tree had sprung up overnight from a dead tree stump, symbolizing the spurning forth unto new life of Osiris. On each anniversary of his birth, she claimed Osiris would visit the evergreen tree and leave gifts there. December 25 was the birthday of King Osiris.
Saturnalia was instituted by Romulus, the founder of Rome under the name “Brumalia” which means “Winter Solstice.” This huge festival was held from December 17-23; it was a time of merry-making described as “the best of days.”
During this celebration, there were no distinctions of rank or class; everyone was equal. Slaves were allowed to wear their masters’ clothing, masters served their slaves, and children and adults exchanged gifts such as dolls and candles.
The customary greeting for the occasion was “Io, Saturnalia” (pronounced “yo”). It is believed that the popular Santa Claus greeting, “Ho! Ho! Ho!” has its roots in its Saturnalia counterpart.
When parts of Rome began converting to Christianity, some of the pagan rituals, such as Saturnalia, were carried over as compromises to make the transition less challenging.
Much of the Christmas celebration today closely resembles the Saturnalia of ancient Rome. The decorated trees, the exchange of gifts, feasting, and the merrymaking that occur during Christmas are almost an exact re-enactment of this ancient festival that paid homage to the pagan deities and practices of this season, notthe God of the Bible.
“Hear the word which the Lord speaks to you, O house of Israel. Thus says the Lord: ‘Learn not the way of the nations, nor be dismayed at the signs of the heavens because the nations are dismayed at them, for the customs of the people are false. A tree from the forest is cut down, and worked with an axe by the hands of a craftsman. Men deck it with silver and gold; they fasten it with hammer and nails so that it cannot move. Their idols are like scarecrows in a cucumber field, and they cannot speak; they have to be carried, for they cannot walk. Be not afraid of them, for they cannot do evil, neither is it in them to do good.’” (Jer. 10:1-5)
In late November every year, the issue of Christmas rears its head at my house. My wife is a supporter of Christmas, while I, for many reasons, including Jer. 10:1-5, am not. We don’t quarrel, but we do seem to go over the same ground year after year without much resolution. While both of us are firm in our opinions, we respect each other’s right to hold contrary views. I just don’t understand why she can’t see my point of view. Why can’t she see that Jeremiah 10:1-5 rebukes the creation of idols like the Christmas tree? “Why make such a big deal about nothing?” I’ve heard her reply. Perhaps such an accommodation will take more time than I expect. Perhaps the answer is rooted in our respective childhoods?
Good King Wenceslas
As a child, I grew up in a secular house where there were very few religious ceremonies or icons. December was Santa time. My favorite Christmas carol was “Good King Wenceslas” ― a tune I still occasionally sing. As Christmas drew closer, the festive trappings of the season would begin to appear. The tree was put up and decorated. The decorative lights were strung round the outside of the house. The Santa poster was nailed to the front door and “Snow in a Can” was discreetly sprayed every-where. If we were lucky, real snow would begin falling outside.
When the night before Christmas arrived, a sense of excitement permeated our house, especially amongst myself and my siblings. We had watched the mountain of presents grow, and knew that by Christmas Day, it would be larger still. More importantly, on the night before, each of us was allowed to open one of our presents. Since, we had spent many days shaking and examining them, we had our picks carefully chosen.
One of the last rituals for the “night before” was Santa’s reward, set on the kitchen table: carrots for Rudolph, and cookies with milk for Santa.
When everything was completed, we went to bed hoping for the best from our wish list. And what was this wish list? A selection of toys and special items, usually chosen from the gift catalogues of the 1960s: Sears, Canadian Tire, etc. I never could figure out how everyone’s wish list got into Santa’s hand, or how he stored all of these presents in his sleigh. In those early days, I didn’t know that Santa was actually Dad and Mom.
Years later, I wondered why my parents participated in this ritual. Eventually, I considered that my mother and father, having come from a mostly secular background, used Christmas as the day to show their love for their children, a love that was best expressed by giving generously. I think they also saw it as their duty to provide each of their three children with the best that money could buy. My aunts and uncles held similar views. They added to the annual “Christmas tithe” with their own presents, sent by air-post, creating a treasure of immense proportions ― at least in the eyes of a child.
I suppose I should have been happy for many days, after receiving so many gifts at Christmas, but I wasn’t. The thrill of opening presents lasted only until about lunch, or dinner, and then, it was gone. My mother often expressed the same feeling. As the years went by, the excitement surrounding Christmas seemed to fade, as did my parents’ enthusiasm for it. Years later, Christmas became a shadow of its former self. Like Alice in Wonderland, Christmas became a fantasy with little meaning and no staying power.
My wife’s memory of Christmas and her understanding of her own parent’s motivations for gift giving are similar to mine. Additionally, Christmas was a time of visiting among the many members of her extended family. However, for her family, unlike mine, Christmas was also a religious event. To this day, she continues to see Christmas as a significant religious event to be celebrated with friends and family.
The religious aspect of Christmas is our point of disagreement. My family and I never embraced that aspect of Christmas. If one does not believe Christmas is God ordained, it is much easier to abandon the entire season with very little guilt. For my wife and others, however, there is a strong belief this day is God centered, and to not honor and observe it, is wrong.
One of the few things my wife and I seem to agree on, is that a spirit of commercialism has largely invaded Christmas and distorted its intent. These days, I mostly see Christmas as a time of cynicism and emptiness. For some, Christmas has become a time of financial profit at the expense of others goodwill. For others, it is merely a day, or season, of feasting and drinking. The shallowness of happiness today, and depression tomorrow, when hopes are unfilled and bills come due, troubles me. I should not be surprised though, since the Bible warns that people generally prefer deception to truth (Isa. 30:9-11) and that Satan himself is the author of much of this deception (Rev. 12:9). Additionally, since people everywhere are also lovers of pleasure and money, but not God (2 Tim. 3:1-5), they also do as they please ignoring all admonishments to the contrary.
How did society get to this point? How did this come to be? The early church, under pressure from the Roman Empire, chose to evangelize everyone at the lowest common denominator, and the pagans came into the church with their secular customs. For purposes of accommodation, their pagan holidays were whitewashed with pseudo-Christian labels. Perhaps this is why so many people today sense a spiritual emptiness in Christmas. The holiday contains almost no measure of God’s spirit. The true manifestation of God’s spirit is in the fruit of the spirit, not the works of the flesh (Gal. 5:19-24). Please read this passage of scripture and see for yourself how the ‘spirit” of Christmas measures up.
The counter perspective of many mainstream Christians is that while Christmas may have pagan origins, the present day celebration is a perfectly acceptable means of honoring the birth of Jesus in a way that is harmlessly festive.
Soft Words Turn Away Wrath
Regardless of your point of view, I’ll say one last thing. When you meet someone who disagrees with you about the observation of Christmas, how do you proceed? Should you argue and fight, standing your ground against all opposition? Or is there another approach?
The book of Proverbs tells us that, “A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger” (Prov. 15:1), and that “The wise of heart is called a man of discernment, and pleasant speech increases persuasiveness” (Prov. 16:21).
I suppose that some of you will say that we are entitled to our opinions. This is true, and I’m very thankful for that freedom. However, many of my church brethren will rightly remind me that we are not to accommodate the world since friendship with the world is enmity with God (Jas 4:4). No one can serve two masters (Matt 6:24). However, Jesus also said “Judge not…” (Matt7:1). God is allowing us freedom of choice in this life with all that it implies. Choose you now (Josh 24:15, Deut. 28; Deut. 30:15-20).
Consider Jesus’ response to the woman caught in the sinful act of adultery. Due to her behavior and under God’s laws she was worthy of punishment (1 Cor. 6:9-11). Jesus said, “’Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her…Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?’ She said, ’No one, Lord.’ And Jesus said, ’Neither do I condemn you; go, and do not sin again’” (John 8:7-11).
In this story, Jesus shows mercy to the sinner, but is unwavering in his definition of righteousness and right behavior. We should follow His example using the way of soft words and friendly speech to explain our position. In my heart, I know this is a lesson I must constantly re-learn.
So what do you say when Christmas comes to town? God bless you as you follow the example of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ! TCW
Steve Agnew is a Christian writer, investor and father of three.
When the news broke a few days ago that peace is coming to the Korean Peninsula, many people must have breathed a sigh of relief, especially the people of North and South Korea. For nearly seventy years, a demilitarized zone, caused by a war, splits the Korean nation into two. Undoubtedly, this has caused grief and separation, which have torn apart families and friends.
An armistice brought about a ceasefire to the Korean War in 1953, but the conflict never officially ended because the parties could not agree to a formal peace treaty. The Korean War devastated the peninsula between 1950 – 1953.
But a statement signed by the North and South Korean leaders on Friday, following their meeting at the border village of Panmunjom said, “South and North Korea confirmed the common goal of realizing, through complete denuclearization, a nuclear-free Korean Peninsula.”
The historic meeting between North Korean President Kim Jong Un and South Korean President Moon Jae had many firsts: Kim became the first North Korean leader to ever step inside the South. The North Korean leader invited Moon to step across the demarcation line that divides their two countries. They did so together, holding hands, and then stepped back into South Korea.
But while we read of possible peace coming to Korea, there’s still war raging in a number of other countries. In South Sudan, the peace process is under threat as violence rages across the country. In the Middle East, Gaza is said ready to explode in the ongoing Palestinian conflict with Israel; Syria is crippled by war and there are several other countries at war or engaged in some kind of civil war or conflict.
Will our planet ever be a peaceful place? Is peace elusive? Many people ask these questions daily. It’s as if when one country declares peace another one declares war. What does the bible say about war and peace in the time of the end?
Matt. 24:6, “And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not alarmed, for this must take place, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be famines and earthquakes in various places.”
Undoubtedly, Bible prophecies predict the end time will be full of war, destruction, and even peace. In fact, peace in the Middle East is regarded as a sign that Jesus return is nigh – a sign of the time of the end.
For the Christian, take heed whenever you hear peace…peace…peace. Listen to the Word of God, 1 Thess. 5:2, “For you are fully aware that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. While people are saying, peace and security, destruction will come upon them suddenly, like labor pains on a pregnant woman, and they will not escape. But you, brothers, are not in the darkness so that this day should overtake you like a thief.
One should desire peace. It’s a worthwhile goal in any society. However, from all indications, peace of whatever sort, magnitude or significance should not be viewed as an everlasting ideal. The truth is peace is going to be temporary for as long as we are humans. It’s only the true Prince of Peace can achieve that. There will be no genuine and long-lasting peace until Jesus Christ sets up His everlasting kingdom of peace.
Brethren, watch and pray! The days are evil!
Here’s a reality many people haven’t been able to grasp; either they don’t pause from their busy schedule to do it, it’s not inherent in their thinking to do so, or they couldn’t care less, for the simple reason of not believing it. Yet, it doesn’t matter what one thinks. The Anointed One – Jesus the Christ or Yashua Hamashiach, the Son of God, and the Saviour of the world, will return one fine day when only a relatively few would have been “watching and praying.” For the vast majority, His return is “like a thief in the night.”
How do we know this? The Christ says, among many other scriptures prophesying His return, “Behold I come quickly and my reward is with me to give every man according as his works shall be,” Rev. 22:12. In Verse 20 “He which testifies these things says, surely I come quickly. Amen. Even so, come Lord Jesus.”
The truth is God cannot lie. Hebrews 6:18 says “it is impossible for God to lie.” Human beings don’t have the capacity to determine what is true from what is false, only God can., so how then do we define truth? John 17:7 says “thy word is truth.”
The Holy Bible has many prophecies that point to the return of Jesus Christ. Those prophecies are for another story that will come later. However, based on scriptures, we see several warning signs that tell us about the nearness of His coming – Matt. 24, Mark 13, Luke 21, the books of Revelation, Daniel. The minor and major prophets of the Old Testament all tell us in detail about what will befall humanity in the end time, and eventually usher in the return of Jesus Christ to set up His everlasting kingdom on a renewed Earth, not going back to heaven with Him, as many Christians believe.
It’s rather inspiring, and should be for Christians, to see the stage now being set for His return. “But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: 2 For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, 3 unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good,4 traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, 5 having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away! 6 For of this sort are those who creep into households and make captives of gullible women loaded down with sins, led away by various lusts, 7 always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth,” 2 Timothy 2: 1-7.
Sceptics, atheists, agnostics and the scientific world continue to dismiss, ignore, and ridicule Christians for believing that one day God will “appear out of the sky,” to redeem humanity and chastise them for their sins.
The “appear out of the sky,” is a flippant phrase often used to denigrate what will turn out to be the culmination of human history as we know it. The truth is; it is a serious matter whether you believe it or not. Many other religions are given respect, and even admiration in some cases, but when it comes to YAHWEH or the God of the Bible, Christians are merely a bunch of fanatics, fundamentalists and backward people living in the post-modern era or The Dark Ages.
But guess what, ultimately, and in the fullness of time, when time will no longer be of significance, it doesn’t matter whether you believe it or not; absolutely nothing whatsoever can stop the return of Jesus Christ! No nuclear weapon, no scientific experiment or UN conference can stop the cataclysmic events that will unfold leading up to the return of Jesus Christ. If you are reading this article you cannot say you have not been warned. The Christian Watchman has a mission to warn the world that the shocking and mindboggling events we see happening around us today are not to be dismissed that easily. You have a duty to take note because they are occurring for a reason and might very well be fulfilling 2 Timothy and other scriptures that warn us to be aware of these “dangerous times.”
If you have the time to go through those verses in 2 Timothy 2:1-7, you can see some of them happening before your very eyes. However, not everyone will be able to see them because it has not been given for them to understand. God is not calling everyone at this time; that’s a fact not many understand. While “many are called, but few are chosen,” God has His own order on how He will accomplish His plan of salvation. Much of this revealed in the biblical festivals of Lev. 23, Holy Days the world has discarded and embraced meaningless and unbiblical pagan festivals such as Christmas and Easter.
If God is calling you now, there’s a duty to perform. Study His word “to show yourself approved,” and God will open your eyes to His truth, and you will see God for who he is – the Creator, the Eternal father, who sent His only begotten Son into the world He loves, to die for our sins, so we may have a grasp on everlasting life. It’s important that you do because a time is coming when “He that is unjust, let him be unjust still: and he which is filthy, let him be filthy still: and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still, and he that is holy, let him be holy still,” Rev. 22:11.
Ephesians 5:16 tells us to “redeem the time because the days are evil.” If ever there was a time when we see evil right before our very own eyes, it is in the 21st century. It has become so commonplace that we see it sometimes and we call it good, which is also fulling a prophecy about the end time. “Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter,” Isaiah 5:20.
Jesus, the Christ, is returning and absolutely nothing can stop His Second Advent. That is a fact you have to accept if you believe in Him. If you don’t, it doesn’t matter because He is still going to return, whether you like it or not. Life as we know it, will soon disappear “like vapour,” as the book of James tells us. Soon, Jesus Christ will establish His everlasting Kingdom on Earth, and all the kingdoms of this planet will become one under the divine rule of Jesus Christ (Rev. 11:15). That’s a fact! If you believe it, more blessings to you, if you don’t, He’s still going to come.
Millions of Christians are waiting to be raptured secretly to heaven at any minute, even as you read this piece. They based their belief on the Holy Bible, yet on closer examination of the scriptures they use, this is not what God’s Holy book is saying. If the Bible is supporting a secret rapture. It would be contradicting itself.
Matt 24:31 shows the first act of Jesus Christ on His return is to “gather the elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.” If the saints are already raptured in heaven, how are they going to be gathered at His return? It does not make sense. Those who believe in the rapture argue the elect here are the Jews, but that is a desperate attempt to defend the teaching with interpretations that are fraught with problems.
How can the elect be the Jews in this instance of gathering when they have rejected Christ? (Read Romans 11:17). While Israel (including the Jews) are God’s chosen people, they are not generally regarded in scriptures as the elect in every mention. Yet in a sense, the reference can be to spiritual Israel, which is correct in this instance, but not to all Jews as is the case with those who try to defend the rapture.
Here’s how the word elect is used in the Bible: 10 refer to believers or the saints in general ; 2 refer to believers who are Gentiles;1 refers to believers who are Jews; 2 refer to Jesus Christ himself; 1 refers to the person Jacob, who was a believer.
Well, these are “tribulation saints,” an invented term, they further argue in a last ditch effort to defend this false teaching. Get this. There is nowhere in the whole Bible that refers to a division among the saints of God. They are all saints. (Daniel 7:22; 27).
Another faulty interpretation is that between Rev. 4 and 18, the Bible does not mention church and that means it is not on Earth. That is making reckless assumptions, and if that were the case, how do you explain the mentions of the “saints” on Earth during that time? Read Revelation 12, 13, 14 and 15. For example, “And the dragon was wroth with the woman and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, who keeps the commands of God and have the testimony of Jesus Christ,” Rev. 12: 17. Who is this referring to other than the church? Satan the Devil is making war against the church, yet the church is supposed to be raptured to heaven. Does this make sense? We see a similar description of the church in Rev. 14:12.
Aren’t the saints the ones who make up the church? When the angel tells John in Rev. 4:1 to “come up hither,” it has nothing to do with any rapture. The same verse explains the reason John should come up. Read it! “Come up hither and I will shew thee things which must be hereafter.” Notwithstanding that, when you read the book of Revelation, you can see that sometimes John is on the earth and other times he’s in heaven as the vision unfolds.
Remember, the Bible only speaks of The Second Coming, not a third. Acts 1:9 tells you the same way he ascended, He’ll return “in like manner.” He ascended from the Mount of Olives and Zech 14:1 tells you the same day He returns “his feet shall stand on the Mount of Olives.” The Word of God is so clear yet some preachers confusing people? God is not the author of confusion (1 Cor. 14:33).
The rapture teaching is nothing but confusion and interpreting scriptures that are not there. Millions of people will lose faith because it won’t happen! Jesus Christ is not returning secretly for “all eyes shall see Him.” He’s returning with the saints because “they shall meet him in the air,” and where will He be? Zech 14:1 says He’s returning to Earth the same day; Christians won’t be going to heaven because Rev. 5: 10 tells us we are “God’s kings and priests and we shall reign on the earth.” We could go on and on about why the rapture is not true. If you are waiting for it, think again!
Most Christians believe their reward will be going up to “heaven” to live forever and ever with God. Note the following scriptures:
And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea.2 And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband,” Rev. 21: 1-2). Verse 10 “And he carried me away in the spirit to a great and high mountain, and shewed me that great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God…”
“Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth,” Matt. 5:5.
“And hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth,” Rev. 5:10.
“Shout and be glad, O Daughter of Zion. For I am coming, and I will live among you,” declares the Lord, Zech. 2:10. Verse 11 “The Lord will inherit Judah as his portion in the holy land and will again choose Jerusalem.”
“And there shall be no night there; and they need no candle, neither light of the sun; for the Lord God giveth them light: and they shall reign for ever and ever,” Rev. 22:5.
The millennial rule of Jesus Christ is clearly over the entire earth in fulfillment of Psalm 2:6-9 (Ps. 72:8; Dan. 2:35; 7:14; Micah 4:1-2; Zech. 9:10) and many other scriptures. This is in keeping with His title in Revelation 19:16 as “King of kings and Lord of lords.”
Christ’s millennial reign on Earth speaks of the healing of the nations (Isa. 29:18; 33:24. Rev. 22:2); nations will prosper (Jer. 31:12; Ezek. 34:25-29; Joel 2:21-27; Amos 9:13-14); there will be abundant rainfall (Isa. 30:23; 35:7); the knowledge of God will be as waters cover the sea (Isa. 11:9) and the law (yes, the law has not been abolished) shall go forth out of Zion (Micah 4:2).
Question: If Christians are going to “heaven”, what should we do with these and countless other scriptures from the Holy Bible that point to a new heaven being established right here on Earth, where the Kingdom of God will reign forever? Furthermore, Christians who have died are not already in heaven, they are sleeping in their graves waiting for the resurrection. Hear the words of Jesus “And no man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven,” John 3:13.
Malachi 4:1-3. “For behold the day is coming burning like and oven, and all the proud, yes allude wickedly shall be as stubble. And the day that is coming shall burn them up, says the Lord of hosts, that shall leave them neither root nor branch. . . You shall trample the wicked for they shall be ashes under the soles of your feet.” The wicked will be burned up burned to ashes, says the Holy Bible. It is clear.
However, is the above verse contradicting what Jesus say in Mark 9:43 and Matt 25:46 or vice versa? “And if your hand makes you sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter into life maimed, than having two hands to go to hell, into the fire that shall never be quenched.” In Matthew 25:46, Jesus said, “these shall go away into everlasting punishment but the righteous into eternal life.”
The answer lies in the usage of the words hell, everlasting and eternal. The usage must be understood in the context they were rendered. In English, the words eternal and everlasting can mean the fire will go on forever, but in the original Greek language they were written, they have a very different meaning. When Jesus used the word hell, he was referring to a literal place, but not the eternal bliss of fire burning the wicked on and on or forever.
The word “hell” has three different meaning in scripture: Gehenna, in the Valley of Hinnom, southwest of Jerusalem, a garbage dump where the fire was always burning; Hades, which means the grave; and Tartarus, from the Greek Tartaroo, which is used only once in the Bible to refer to the punishment for the angels. 2 Peter 2:4 “For if God id not spare angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell…”
Therefore, Jesus knew what had been taking place at Gehenna and likened it to what would happen when the wicked will be cast into “the lake of fire.” Yes, the bible talks of the lake of fire (Rev. 19:20; 20:15). In Rev. 20:14, it says “And death and hell (in this instance the grave) were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.”
You can see other scriptures in complete harmony with these texts. For example Ezek. 18:20 “the soul that sinneth shall die”; Romans 6: 23 “the wages of sin is death.” When one is cast into the lake of fire, they will die (the second death).
Like many other languages, some Greek words have to be interpreted in their context to get the appropriate meaning. “When the adjective aionios, meaning everlasting is used in Greek with nouns of action it has reference to the result of the act, not the process. The phrase everlasting punishment is comparable to everlasting redemption and everlasting salvation, both Scriptural phrases. No one supposes that we are being redeemed or saved forever. We were redeemed and saved once for all by Christ with eternal results. In the same way the lost will not be passing through the process of punishment forever but will be punished once and for all with eternal results. Basil F. C. Atkinson, Life and Immortality. An Examination of the Nature and Meaning of Life and Death as they are revealed in the Scriptures (Taunton, England, n. n.), p.101.
The teaching of an ever-burning hell has no place in scripture. God does not desire to see his creation agonizing for the rest of their lives. God is love. The hell fire teaching came in the Second Century. The primitive church did not teach the ever-burning hell doctrine. The teaching that man has a soul and cannot die became a Christian doctrine near the end of the second century A.D. The concept of an ever-burning hell was a popular belief in Greek philosophy, beginning with Plato (427-347 B.C.), long before Jesus walked the Earth. Indeed, the Bible speaks of punishment for the wicked, but not an ever-burning hell, but the lake of fire, where they will become “ashes under the feet of the righteous.”
It’s rather comforting for the bereaved to hear the funeral rites of their loved ones that include the assurance he or she “is now in heaven with Jesus and His angels,” looking down on those left behind.
When a dear one dies, it’s a gut-wrenching experience that only time can heal. Yet, we cannot escape death, as “it is appointed for man to die once,” (Hebrews 9:27). Humanity has been seeking ways to soothe the pain death leaves behind, but no matter how many times we see death, we cannot get used to it; death has become intrinsic to the human condition and existence. We cannot get rid of it until our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ strikes the final victory over death. Death, too, is going to die (1 Corinthian 15:54).
However, what happens when a human being dies? Do they go to heaven at death? Is the pastor right when he tells the bereaved their loved ones are in heaven? Where do we go to get these answers? The Holy Bible has a lot to say about death. Jesus Christ spoke about death, so let’s hear what He has to say.
First, he says “And no man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven,” John 3:13.
Lazarus died and Jesus visited the grieving family at their request (John 11). Jesus arrived four days after he died. Martha told Jesus she knew “he shall rise again in the resurrection.” Jesus told Martha “thy brother shall rise again.” Notice he did not say Lazarus is up in heaven. Jesus saw the grief-stricken women and he felt it, too. Verse 35 says “Jesus wept.” He didn’t comfort them by saying Lazarus is in heaven, instead he asked “where have you laid him?” After Jesus prayed to the Father, verse 43, “he cried with a loud voice, Lazarus, come forth. And he that was dead came forth, bound hand and foot with grave clothes: and his face was bound about with a napkin. Jesus saith unto them, loose him, and let him go.”
Where was Lazarus after he died? He was in the tomb-asleep in death. Notice what Jesus said in verse 11 Our friend Lazarus sleepeth; but I go, that I may awake him out of sleep.” Those are the very words of Jesus that Lazarus was asleep. Many scriptures liken death to a sleep. Surely, the spirit (breath) goes back to God, at death, but the dead is sleeping until the day of resurrection just like what Martha believed. Jesus didn’t tell Martha she was wrong about that. Ecclesiastes 9:5 says the living know they will die, but the dead do not know anything. Psalm 146:4 – Man’s thoughts perish when the breath leaves him and he returns to the Earth. Ecclesiastes 12:7 – The dust returns to the Earth, and the spirit returns to the One who gave it (Job 27:3 reveals that the word spirit used here also means breath).
“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 justify Sunday worship, declaring the first day of the week or 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 revealed to John, the events that would unfold upon the Earth, as outlined further in Revelation, the Apocalypse. That’s what the entire book of Revelation is 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).
If you read these scriptures, they point to cataclysmic events that would befall humanity in the end time. They referred to a time when God’s wrath will be unleashed on wickedness. Revelation, from beginning to the end, is a disclosure by the Revelator Jesus Christ, to the apostle John on what would happen on His day of wrath. In other words, humanity, especially His called out ones, must be prepared for these dangerous our perilous times ahead. If we truly take the book for what it is really trying to tell us, what other interpretation could there be for the Lord’s Day? How can we hide such an obvious meaning? In the same line, the voice that would be talking to John sounded like “a trumpet.” Isn’t the trumpet the instrument that will make a deafening blast to signal the return of Jesus Christ? The very use of trumpet is indicative of an end time scenario.
Advocates of the Lord’s Day-Sunday persuasion have totally ignored context and relevance regarding John’s impending vision and how it ties in so perfectly into that one vital component of the climax of human history when it ends on the Day of the Lord – the Lord’s Day. They have simply plucked out three words (the Lord’s Day), twisted them, to fit a teaching that has no application to the setting, can stand up to scriptural scrutiny, and a concept alien to John.
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 try 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? There’s no scriptural evidence John or any of the other apostles worshipped on Sunday, so how could he be embracing Sunday as the Lord’s Day? What would be the goal for John to acknowledge he was receiving the end time vision on a Sunday, especially when the apostolic period of the church continued to keep the seventh-day Sabbath and the annual Sabbaths or Holy Days of God?
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 resurrection. Why didn’t Jesus observe Sunday if it pictures His resurrection and should now be the new day of worship? 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.
Have you ever wondered what the apostles Paul, Peter, James or John, or all of them for that matter, would construe if they ever walk into Christian churches today? Could they recognize the church they left behind in the first century?
Think about it. These were the sent men of God, who wrote the books that compile the New Testament that we use as part of the worship of The Almighty, and they knew the Word of God. They left behind books upon books of teachings and doctrines and now they have returned in the 21st century to examine what they had left behind. Let’s take a look at what they left behind.
First of all, let’s get this straight from the Word of God. Luke 24:53 tells us after Jesus’s ascension into heaven, his followers “were continually in the temple praising and blessing God.”
It was in the temple they learned a lot from their Master Jesus Christ. This is what we know from the scriptures Matt. 28:20 that Jesus told his disciples to teach the people “to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you and, Lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the age.”
As far as we can glean from the scriptures, the first century believers stuck to their Hebraic roots. That, one can understand, because they were following the Hebrew bible, culture and religion. The Holy Bible is a history, instruction book, and religious text of the Hebrew people and their God. Gentile nations were only “grafted,” later on after the sacrifice of the only beloved Son of God for the sins of the world.
Let’s face it, and there’s hardly any excuse one can use, as many attempt to erroneously do, but the Christians of the first century were Sabbath keepers. Sunday worship didn’t start officially until the third century, although there were pockets of believers who might have started as early as around 90 A.D. The scriptures that some of our prominent preachers of the day use to justify Sunday worship in the first century, namely Acts 20: 7; 1 Cor. 16: 1-2; Rev. 1:10, and a few others, are all proof texting to support a belief. Closer examination without any biases will reveal that they all had nothing to do with Sunday worship. It is interesting to note that all references in the Holy Bible to “first day of the week,” has the word “day” in italics, which means it was not in the original, but that’s for another story.
The Christian Watchman is not affiliated with any church organization and will speak the truth as it sees fit, as it tries to make the point in this article that the Christianity you see today looks entirely different from the most authentic period in church history – the first century.
The followers of Jesus didn’t come together on the Day of Pentecost, the birthday of the church, for a Sunday church service as many of our preachers teach. They were there because they followed the Hebrew tradition of observing the biblical festivals of Lev. 23, which the God of Heaven describes as “my feasts,” not a feast of Israel or the Jews as many teach falsely. They were there to observe the high holy day of the Feast of Firstfruits or Pentecost, one of the seven annual festivals of God in Lev. 23 given to humanity to observe in his honour. What festivals does Christianity have today to honour God? More on that later.
Sunday worship did not begin at Pentecost. That is false. Pentecost always falls on a Sunday, going all the way back to the time it was given in Lev. 23. Another argument is that the resurrection of Jesus on Sunday justifies changing the Sabbath to Sunday. Even if that were the case, on whose authority God’s seventh day, which he sanctified or set apart for holy use, was changed to Sunday. If He was the one who sanctified it, then naturally he would have been the one to change it, but he didn’t.
The first century Christians or the primitive church kept a seventh day or Saturday Sabbath; they observed the biblical festivals of Lev. 23; they kept the food laws, abstaining from pork, shellfish etc., baptism by immersion, the kingdom of God coming to earth and not Christians going to heaven. In fact, there was wide expectation that the kingdom of God would have been established on Earth in their time. They didn’t teach about an ever-burning hellfire because they understood Gehenna (one of the words translated hell in our bible) to be a literal place, a garbage dump outside Jerusalem where Jesus made references to in some his sermons. They believed Jesus was very God and they followed the laws of God, knowing they didn’t offer salvation, but they taught them how to love God and man and to keep closer to him.
We have often heard how the early church fathers had to fight paganism in the early church. The primitive church of the first century faced challenges with that too, especially when Gentile converts began to add to the numbers. But the question is how does the Christian church today end up with its two biggest festivals – Christmas and Easter – being a whitewash of pagan festivals. What has happened to the true biblical festivals? We know Jesus’ custom was to worship on the Sabbath. He never attended a Sunday service during the 40 days he remained on earth after his resurrection, which would have been the ideal time to make the change, but Luke 24 tells us they continued in the temple following the teachings.
Paul, Peter, James and John, all the apostles and disciples would ask the Christian church today what is Christmas? Why have you disregarded a festival such as The Feast of Tabernacles and embrace a pagan festival such as Christmas? You cannot whitewash a pagan festival with all its original intent, and then call it Christian, especially when God gives you a festival, which you call Jewish. What’s wrong with being Jewish anyway? Wasn’t Christ a Jew? Did he say “salvation is of the Jews?” Who did he give all his laws to? Wasn’t it Israel? Surely, he didn’t give any to the Gentile, so even “thou shalt now murder,” is a Jewish law. Doesn’t it mean because you are not a Jew you shouldn’t abide by it. In subsequent articles, The Christian Watchman will show you how the anti-Jewishness in the first centuries of the church led to an abandonment of anything that appeared Jewish. What happened instead was the embracing of strange pagan and Hellenistic practices and calling them Christian. Even some of the early church fathers were so anti-Jewish, it’s unbelievable.
These great men of God wouldn’t have recognized a festival called Easter with all the bunny rabbits, eggs and fertility symbols of an ancient pagan goddess Ishtar or Eostre. They would be surprised to see Christians eating ham, a meat they’d deem unclean (sorry Acts 10 isn’t about unclean meats. Get the understanding of the passage). It’s not for Peter to “rise kill and eat” unclean animals. Instead, they would expect to see Christians keeping the Passover and eating unleavened bread as they knew Jesus was the “Passover Lamb” and the “unleavened bread of sincerely and truth,” I Cor. 5:7-8).
The early followers of Jesus in the first century did not teach a Trinity; that came in the third century, Christmas came in the fourth; Easter came in the second century. They did not teach a secret rapture of the church; that when you die you go to heaven as they themselves heard from Christ’s own mouth that “no man has ascended to heaven.” These men of God didn’t teach about “once saved always saved,” when they heard repeatedly the warnings about enduring to the end in order to be saved, about overcoming sin and how narrow is the way to the Kingdom of God.
There are other teachings that we could go into, however, the challenge for you is to examine some of the popular teachings of Christendom today, and see where their roots are, the bible or somewhere else. What led us to write this article was a statement from one of our most popular televangelist today, who shall remain nameless. He said sadly, “many of the teachings of Christianity today are indeed pagan.”
I would challenge you not to prove to yourself that this is so and then determine where you stand – god or mammon. Here is one last word from our Lord and saviour Jesus Christ in Matt. 15:9 “But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.” May the Great God of all humanity grant you the wisdom to see the differences.
From as early as August each year, Halloween decorations begin to peek out of retail stores and some people even have their spooky characters on their porches and front doors. They do this with a passion and faithfully in order not to be left out of what has become a kind of national holiday in North America.
Although Halloween is observed mainly in North America, other holidays around the globe are similar to Halloween. In North America and Europe – The Day of the Dead; in South America, Kawsasqanchis; Africa, Dance of the Hooded Egunguns and Asia, Bon Festival.
On the eve of the holiday, celebrated on October 31 annually, many workers get the afternoon off to get time to prepare for a night of “fun.” Some companies host Halloween parties, adults have their individual get together, while the children for the most part, go trick and treating. Overall, in the eyes of many people, it’s a time for celebration. But celebration of what, the more conscious among us might ask.
Our society has a way of liking to delve in the unknown, dedicating precious time to a cause without even stopping to think about exactly what they are doing. We have a tendency to be lazy to determine what may be harmful and what is not. We have a natural curiosity to expend energy and resources in areas where there’s some kind of prohibition or where the Creator of the Universe warns “thou shalt not…”
As I mentioned earlier, or society regard Halloween as a holiday, but how many of us stop think the word holiday literally means a holy day. Furthermore, the root word of Halloween is all hallow’s eve or hallow. Hallows means, consecrated or set apart for holy use. What is holy about Halloween should be the next question. What is it with these orange dark brown/black or orange colors we see prominent in Halloween decorations? What is Halloween?
There are many people, and don’t be surprised if they run into millions, who are celebrating Halloween and even Christmas and Easter, without spending a minute to look into the origins of these festivals to realize they have nothing to do with the Word of God. If you are a faithful follower of the Holy Bible you can prove without the help of a pastor or priest, (many of whom are staunch advocates of Halloween, not to mention Easter and Christmas) that the Word of God has no such place for these festivals. Simply put, they are man-made traditions that have survived the centuries and are handed down to us today as Christian festivals. If you can find where the primitive church, the most authentic period of church history, kept those festivals then there would be a very strong argument they should be celebrated, according to the Word of God. The truth is the primitive church kept the biblical festivals of Lev. 23 and not the pagan-rooted festivals of today that pass for Christian.
Back to Halloween. Halloween, derived from “All Hallows Eve,” occurred on Oct. 31, “All Saints Day” or “All Hallows Day” which was the next Day, Nov. 1st. Halloween is the eve of All Saints Day. The origins of Halloween date to ancient Ireland and Scotland. On Oct. 31st the Celts celebrated the day when herders would move their animals into barns and pens and prepare for winder. It was also the time of the crop harvests. A festival called Samhain, pronounced ‘sow-ane’ (Sow rhymes with cow) which means ‘end of summer’, marked this time.
There were lots of superstition associated with this time of the year, notably the belief in fairies and that the spirits of the dead wandered around looking for bodies to inhabit. Because the living did not want spirits or ghosts to possess them, they dressed up in costumes and paraded on the streets with loud noises to confuse and frighten the spirits away. Furthermore, the new year began for the Celts on Nov. 1. The Celts regarded Samhain as a day that was not in the year past or the year to come. Hence, chaos ruled on that day, which lead people to pull practical jokes on one another.
However, in the 5th century, as the Catholic Church expanded, it adopted the Samhain celebration. Nov. 1st became “All Hallows Day,” the day when the Catholic church honored its saints. Oct 31 was “All Hallows Eve” which became “Halloween.” In later years, people would go door-to-door on Nov. 2 with small cakes in exchange for the promise of saying prayers for some of the dead relatives. This stemmed from the religious belief the dead were in a state of limbo before they went to heaven or hell and that prayers could impact their outcome. It is believed this was the forerunner to Trick-or-Treat.
Once we are going to get involved with consulting the dead or invisible spirits, we are stepping on dangerous grounds. There’s another dimension in the origin of this festival that involved witches, mediums and the occult. The Wiccan religion follow ancient Celtic rituals and still call Halloween by its original name Samhain. For Wiccans it is the most sacred night of the year. “Christians ‘don’t realize it, but they’re celebrating our holiday with us. . . . We like it,’” USA Today said, quoting a witch. Deut. 18:10-12, advises “Let no one be found among you who sacrifices his son or daughter in the fire, who practices divination or sorcery, interprets omens, engages in witchcraft, 11 or casts spells, or who is a medium or spiritist or who consults the dead. 12 Anyone who does these things is detestable to the LORD…
Vampires, witches, zombies and werewolves are associated with the demonic world. A celebration that involves these elements have no place in Christianity. The Almighty God is holy and you cannot mix the profane with holy and call it holy. Christmas and Easter are no different. You cannot whitewash pagan festivals and call them Christian, especially when there are no biblical precedents for that. Halloween, Christmas and Easter fall into the same category when it comes to paganism and no matter how inspiring a message you hear this time of the year about the virtues of observing such, the fact is the premise is wrong from the beginning. The fact is God tells us everything he wants us to do.
These instructions are all in The Holy Bible. God gives His festivals in Lev. 23 for us to celebrated his “appointed times,” (Hebrew; moeds) (Gen. 1:14). The world mistakes them for Jewish when from the lips of God he says “even these are my feasts,” and the feasts of the Lord.” The question for those who embrace pagan-rooted festivals is: why not celebrate the festivals of the bible rather than pagan festivals that God detests – they are an abomination to him! Let the Word of God speaks to that.
2 Cor, 6:16 What agreement can exist between the temple of God and idols? For we are the temple of the living God. As God has said: “I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be My people.” “Therefore come out from among them and be separate, says the Lord. Touch no unclean thing, and I will receive you.” And: “I will be a father to you, and you will be My sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty.”…
Be careful to listen to all these words which I command you, so that it may be well with you and your sons after you forever, for you will be doing what is good and right in the sight of the LORD your God. “When the LORD your God cuts off before you the nationswhich you are going in to dispossess, and you dispossess them and dwell in their land, beware that you are not ensnared to follow them, after they are destroyed before you, and that you do not inquire after their gods, saying, ‘How do these nations serve their gods, that I also may do likewise?’…
Ephesians 6: 12. because we have a struggle, not against blood and flesh, but against the governments, against the authorities, against the world rulers of this darkness, against the wicked spirit forces in the heavenly places.
Parents, you have a responsibility to know exactly what you children are getting involved with; adults you have a duty to yourself and to God to look closer at these celebrations to understand that they have no place in worship or in the life of a Christian. May God guide you to this truth. TCW
We have booted anything that resembles the true and Living God, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, YAHWEH, The Eternal, from just about all institutions of learning. We are afraid to call him by His true name, for fear of offending non-Christians, and have placed Him equally among the created gods.
We are continuously rejecting Him by breaking His commandments, which reflect His very nature, and setting our own standards for morality, truth and justice.
We tell our children, through education, that He’s not the one responsible for creating the universe – every living creature, and even the inanimate objects.
We tell our children that truth is relative, there’s no absolute truth, and it’s bigoted to ever profess that there’s only one true God.
Through “social engineering,” we have established our own mores that are in direct contradiction to the Word of God, sending confused messages to the enquiring and impressionable minds of our young, who are taught one set of values at home, and another set at school.
We glorify violence, sexual sins, robbery, murder, drug abuse on the screens of our television, the cinema, and in music, the main media that provide entertainment for our young.
At the same time, the idols they look up to – the sports heroes, the movie and television stars, the singers and musicians, are far from being the right role models, as they themselves are in trouble with the law for drunk driving, drug abuse, and even murder.
Christians are made to look stupid, suspicious, dishonest, hypocritical, you name it; they are targeted by the media in the news or in the movies. Apart from a very, very small number, an overwhelming majority are honest, sincerely people trying their best to serve the Living God.
And so today, many ask in wonderment and with great pain: “what’s happening to our young people?” Where is God in all of this violence? It’s not uncommon today to hear “six young people die in car crash,” or “youth commits suicide,” or “youth held for murder. You even hear of young people murdering their parents and vice versa.
First of all the bible asks how can you call on a God whom you have not known?
“Behold the Lord’s hand is not shortened that it cannot save; neither his ear heavy, that it cannot hear; but your iniquities (sins) have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear.
For your hands are defiled with blood, and your fingers with iniquity; your lips have spoken lies, your tongue hath muttered perverseness. None calleth for justice, nor any pleadeth for truth: they trust in vanity, and speak lies, they conceive mischief and bring forth iniquity,” (Isaiah 59 1-4).
The Word of God will stand the test of time. The same words, which have been around for thousands of years, still stand today. Ecclesiastes 12.1 admonishes us to “Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth, while the evil days come not, nor the years draw night when thou shalt say I have no pleasure in them.”
Whatever happened to the fifth commandment: Honour thy mother and thy father that thy days might be long on the land.
Today, children are killing parents and parents are killing children. The babes are having babes, and those who don’t want it, have the option to abort it like that child is merely a piece of cardboard.
For every sin that is committed, punishment is bound to follow. Our penal system is far from desirable when it comes to administering true justice commensurate with the horrible crimes being committed by our young people. Nowadays, it seems as if justice belongs to the perpetrators, not the victims.
Haven’t we been sowing the seeds of lawlessness (iniquity) all these years since it has become fashionable to reject God from society in this post-modern era? Children live what they learn. They are only acting out now, what they’ve been taught over the years. Thank God, most of them still have their heads on their bodies (no pun intended).
Governments try to create conditions that make religion a personal matter in direct contradiction to the command of Jesus, the Christ, to “go ye therefore into all the world,” to preach repentance – stop breaking His commandments (sinning) and be baptized. Our leaders are afraid to call upon the name of YAHWEH for guidance unlike that great ruler King David, who constantly sought His help. Our leaders are afraid of losing votes by being branded “Christian fundamentalists,” by a populace and society that promote secularism in the name of the widely misunderstood concept of separation of church and state.
In the book of Hosea, God makes a very important statement. “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee that thou shalt be no priest to me: seeing that thou hast forgotten the law of thy God, I will also forget thy children,” (Hosea 4:6).
In our time of economic prosperity, we have no time for God. “As they were increased, so they sinned against me, therefore will I change their glory into shame,” (verse 7).
In all of this, God’s mercy extends beyond our imagination. It’s still not too late to rescue our children from the “whole world that lies in wickedness,” as the Holy Bible points out. God is always there waiting to hear that knock on the door. He says simply “knock, and it shall be opened.” Our children deserve better because they are a blessing from God. Many of the problems they face are our own doing. God demands change if we want to walk the straight and narrow path and get off the sinking ship. It’s only the Kingdom of God can stop all this madness. They were prophesied to happen. Seek ye first the Kingdom of God and all things shall be given unto you – even peace.
The human civilization has gravitated to the level where the True and Living God is no longer relevant or does not exist at all. In fact, he could never exist, given all the sufferings and challenges this world is facing, some say.
We live in the so-called post-modern era where truth is relative and everyone is entitled to determine their own right and wrong. There can be no one True and Living God. If you are of that persuasion, our society will label you religious bigots, being narrow-minded, or living in the Dark Ages. If you are not progressive enough to accept that we are capable of setting our own moral standards and that as along as anything that feels good is okay, or this is who I am, our society is gradually making you out to be some religious fundamentalist, fanatic or fool, for that matter.
Our governments, assisted by the courts, continue to enact laws that are becoming more and more challenging for Christians to live according to the Word of God. There’s hardly anyone nowadays willing to stand up for truth. Jesus Christ says (my) “thy word is truth.” John 17:17. Yet we have pastors and other church leaders, who have been so brainwashed by the drift in social mores, that they too are confused about right and wrong because they have not been following truth. They set their own standards in trying to appease everyone in the name of political correctness, and in the process, compromising the Word of God. You cannot change the Word of God to appeal to people; it’s the other way around. People must change their habits and ways of living, according to the Holy Bible in order to follow God. The Holy Bible is God’s instruction manual for humanity on how to live a prosperous, healthy and abundant life in the image of the Creator.
“I am the Lord. I do not change,” he declares in Malachi 3:6. In Hebrews 13:8, God says “I am the same yesterday, today and forever.” What’s so difficult about that to understand? When will some of our religious leaders cease from preaching the nice sermons that most people want to hear, and tell them what they don’t want to hear, i.e. we are all sinners who need to repent from breaking God’s laws? 1 John 3:6 clearly says “sin is the transgression of the law.”
Our religious leaders need to understand that because “the carnal mind is enmity against God,” there’s an on-going battle among humans to resist anything that is of God. Christians must be able to differentiate from the secular; we have to let our light shine so the unrepentant may see a Christian’s way of life and glorify God in the process. Christianity inherently is not a religion, it’s a way of life, it’s about a relationship with God. The Bible in Matt. 6:24 declares that “no one is able to serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and he will love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and he will despise the other. You are not able to serve God and mammon.”
We should not be confronted with a situation in our society where it’s difficult to distinguish between the secular or worldly with Christianity. Yet today, some religious organizations or churches, if you prefer, are anything but social clubs. They refuse to call sin, sin, because they are afraid of offending, yet Jesus says the truth shall offend. They refuse to tell people that they must repent and that the only solution for the world’s ills, evil and hopelessness is the return of Jesus Christ. Some organizations find it unnecessary to preach the latter because they don’t even believe in the Second Coming of Jesus Christ, which may lead you to wonder which Bible they are reading.
Sad to say, but the plain truth is people want to make their own gods. A god that won’t tell them what to do, rather a god they want to tell what to do. A god that doesn’t know as much as they do, instead a god they are more knowledgeable than, and a god that goes for anything – no standards, no laws, no morality. A god no one has to answer to now, or in any future life, if there’s any.
Yes, my friends, idolatry is all around us. Our society now embraces every other god, except the God of the Bible. These gods are not necessary false deities that they bow down to, although there are cases like that, but they could be in materials possessions or even in family relationships. The truth is anything that you place before God in terms of priority is idolatry. Given our current predicament as an advancing society with all its insurmountable problems, it is evident everywhere in our social, political, social, economic, and cultural systems that a place for the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, YAHWEH, is no longer there. The society at large is more comfortable creating their own gods who they don’t have to answer to, rather it’s as if their gods will answer to them after they decide how they should live.
One only has to look at church attendance in Europe and North America, in recent years. While the number of people professing to believe in a god remains steady, church attendance, membership, and active involvement are on the wane, especially among the younger generation. As Christians, what should we deduce from this trend?
The Holy Bible speaks of a time when humans will be “lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good,4 treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God— 5 having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people,” (2 Timothy 3; 1-5). Indeed, the perilous times are upon us. May God have mercy upon all of us.
Five major earthquakes in 24-hours, and several in one weak, is not an everyday occurrence, yet this
was what happened in mid-April, this year. Several nations across the globe – from Japan to Ecuador, from Myanmar to the Philippines were affected. Hundreds have lost their lives while thousands have been injured. Yet this is just the tip of the iceberg prophetically.
The Holy Bible predicts a time of distress among nations of the world. When one crisis ends another begin. Things may not appear as they truly are; the truth is our society might have made serious advances to prolong life, yet in other areas life expectancy is not improving. While it might be 87 years in Japan for women, in some African countries such as Botswana, it is in the forties. The economies of some countries might be experiencing phenomenal growth, while for others they have been a disaster and continue to be a disaster – failed states. The end result is billions of people are still poor.
With the threat of terrorism hanging over our heads, life has truly changed. Will that fear get worse before it gets better, or will it get better before it gets worse? The former seems to be the answer to that problem, given the resolve by the perpetrators to be martyrs for their religion.
The Bible speaks of a time near to the return of the Messiah, the Christ, Our Lord and Saviour, the King of all Kings, and Lords of all Lords to take over the kingdoms of this world, when nations will be in chaotic conditions. There will be changes in the weather, as we are experiencing now, wars and conflicts with nations against nations, diseases and pestilences (AIDS, SARS, Avian Flu, Ebola) natural disasters (tsunamis, earthquakes, violent hurricanes), famines. All these fallouts have started to cause untold hardships for many nations – and this is only the beginning.
In the Olivet Prophecy of Matt. 24, Jesus warns “For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places. All these are the beginning of sorrows.”
The latter word “sorrows” is translated “birth pangs” or birth pains in some translations. When a mother is about to give birth, the birth pangs or pains come incrementally; each time they get more and more intense until that child is ready to come into the world. This was the scenario Jesus painted in the time of the end shortly before His return. The problems in our society, be they war, diseases, terrorism, or what have you, will gradually increase over time and each time it will get worse before it gets any better.
The earthquakes we are hearing are going to get more devastating and in places they would never be expected to occur. Terrorism and other ills affecting the nations will continue to escalate; Zika and other viruses will appear to create havoc on our population and war among nations will never cease. Our nations will continue to be in distress – one after the other!
There can only be one answer to all these troubles and distress that are about to come upon nations of the earth. The high-level meetings and conferences among the most powerful world leaders will be merely band aid solutions. The hard and cold reality is that these things must occur. We can dismiss this notion all we want; the bible said these things would occur, and that’s exactly what’s going on. Those of us who’re lead by the Almighty God have a sense of what’s happening, while the unconverted see no such thing. The carnal mind is enmity against God, therefore, they cannot, and will not see how much these end time events are linked to the closing of this age and the triumphant return of King Jesus.
The bible advises the child of God that “thou shalt not be afraid for the terror by night nor the arrow that flieth by day,” (Psalm 91:5). We must accept that before our redemption comes, all that our bible says will happen must be fulfilled. In fact, we had better brace ourselves because the bible describes these terrible events as “the beginning of sorrows.”
Yes, our society is in a grip of fear right now. Who do we have to turn to but the Sustainer and Giver of life? He says He will always be us “even unto the end of the age.” That’s His assurance and we must believe that because contrary to what many may believe, God is in control of the universe. He’s very much alive. God cannot die!
Nations will forever be in distress until Christ returns. Why? We have departed from His precepts and His Laws. Nations have changed His laws into their own, and as expected, there’s a price to pay. There will be punishment.
Many people, in their hour of distress, are asking where is God in all of this, but God is always there. He’s always with us, unless we have pushed Him of our lives.
Hear how the prophet Isaiah answers this question. “Behold, the Lord’s hand is not shortened that it cannot save; neither His ear heavy, that it cannot hear; but your iniquities (lawlessness) have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid His face from you, that He will not hear. For your hands are defiled with blood, and your fingers with iniquity; your lips have spoken lies, your tongue muttered perverseness. None calleth for justice, not any pleadeth for truth; they trust in vanity, and speak lies, they conceive mischief and bring forth iniquity,” (Isaiah 59:1-4).
We will have to continue to build our trust in God and pray for His Kingdom to come to put a stop to this mess that humanity has found itself in. The evil on the land cannot be solved by physical means because it’s a spiritual problem. Our leaders are trying to use physical means to control evil, and they cannot work. They need God but cannot call on Him because they are too proud to do so, having taken Him out of every public institution, and mock Him by changing His laws openly. How can they now call on a God whom they do not know? Those who trust God must worship Him in spirit and in truth. What is truth? “Thy word is truth” (John 17:7).
The just shall live by faith and that’s exactly what Christians have to go by in these evil days spoken of by the prophets. When there’s no respect for human lives, when hate is being mistaken for love, when there’s said to be no absolute truth and when every false god has taken the place of the one and only true God.
The Church of God will prevail because Jesus says so. Those of us who are part of the body of Christ live by this hope that someday soon the distress upon nations will end when the kingdom of our Lord will reign supreme.
In the spring of 31 C.E., dozens of people who were followers of the risen Christ, gathered in Jerusalem for the high Holyday or annual Sabbath, known as the Feast of Firstfruits also called Pentecost. It was about ten days after His ascension, and the gathering included “Jews, devout men of every nation under heaven.” Parthians, Galileans, Medes, Elamites, you name it, they were all there.
A televangelist said on his programme recently, that this Pentecost gathering was the first Sunday church service in the New Testament. Sir, with all due respect, this was not a Sunday church service, as we know it today. Most certainly, the annual Sabbath/High Holyday of the Feast of Firstfruits or Pentecost, always falls on a Sunday, but they were not gathered there for a Sunday church service. They were there, as followers of the risen Christ, to observe Pentecost or the Feast of Firstfruits – one of the biblical festivals of God he gave to humanity in Lev. 23, not to the Jews as many mistakenly conclude. More on that later.
Jesus had told his disciples earlier in Luke 24:19 “You are witnesses of these things. And behold, I am sending forth the promise of My Father upon you; but you are to stay in the city (Jerusalem) until you are clothed with power from on high.” He knew this was a day they would gather to celebrate his festival, The Feast of Firstfruits or Pentecost (the 50th day after Passover). It was so timely back then as this festival pictured His resurrection. How? Jesus is “risen from the dead and become the firstfruits of them that slept.” 1 Cor. 15 20. Verse 23 tells us “Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ’s at his coming!”
This is fascinating. Yet today, some Christians pause to observe the birthday of the church at Pentecost each year, not knowing exactly what it means apart from the birthday of the church. Many accept it was the first Sunday church service, and have failed to acknowledge it is a commanded biblical festival or annual Sabbath, along with seven others stated in Lev. 23 for us to celebrate. Read the chapter! They were not Jewish feasts. God calls them “my feasts,” part of the appointed times God gave to humanity at creation. (Gen. 1:14; the Hebrew mow’ed is translated seasons in most bibles. A better translation is appointed time: Strong’s H4150. The appointed times are all outlined in Lev. 23). God’s festivals were only given to Israel because it was the only nation He was dealing with at that time. All of Gods laws were given to Israel; none were given to gentiles, so in essence, “thou shalt not murder or thou shalt not steal,” are Jewish laws, if one were to reason that these are Jewish feasts.
As we approach the high Holyday or annual Sabbath called the Feast of Firstfruits/Pentecost, the birthday of the church, it brings us to a point in our history to reflect on the church after that first Pentecost. The fundamental question we should be asking ourselves is this: why does the church of 31 C.E. looks almost completely different from Christendom today?
Luke 24:53 tells us that after Jesus ascension “And (the followers of Jesus) were continually in the temple praising and blessing God. Whatever these followers had learned from Jesus, they continued to do them steadfastly. That church observed God’s laws, including his weekly and annual Sabbaths and abstaining from meats the bible describes as unclean. The primitive church did not teach the law was nailed to the cross; Jesus’ followers knew about the promised coming Kingdom of God as He didn’t teach them about being raptured to heaven. This teaching came much later; Easter started to be observed around 150 C.E. the doctrine of the Trinity, Christmas and the immortality of the soul, came three hundred years later. These are historical facts. What have we today? The Christian church today embraces these later teachings and doesn’t have anything to do with the original doctrines.
The churches today that observe the tenets of the primitive church are called cults or sects, the latter being a word often used to describe the church in the first century, and even in some cases the small persecuted church was referred to as “the cult of Christianity.” Churches today that have rejected the pagan beliefs that have been adopted by the mainstream are called “orthodox.” Anything outside of orthodoxy is a cult. Isn’t that interesting? Whether we like it or not, the face of the primitive church and the face of the Christian church today are quite different. In fact, the difference is startling. No one can deny that the primitive church was Hebraic in nature; Jesus was a Jew, His followers were Jewish, the writers of the New Testament were Jewish and no wonder Jesus Himself proclaims “salvation is of the Jews.”
If there’s no distinction between “Jews and Greeks,” in the eyes of God and the Gentiles have now been “grafted,” into his plan of salvation, why is there any harm in observing the Feast of Firstfruits or Pentecost as a biblical Festival? How about Passover (Jesus is the Passover Lamb), the Days of Unleavened Bread (putting away sin out of our lives), the Feast of Trumpets (signifying His return); The Day of Atonement (His atoning sacrifice) and the Feast of tabernacles/Last Great Day (picturing His millennial kingdom)? These are the festivals of God outlined in Lev. 23, not Jewish festivals, that Christianity has rejected for pagan-rooted festivals such as Christmas, Easter, and Lent. Once you understand the meaning of these festivals, you’ll discover they are more significant, meaningful and insightful that those of pagan origin, which for the most part, have nothing to do with the Christ of the bible.
It is time Christianity wake up to the reality of what happened in the primitive church! Why? The teachings of the church then were not steeped into tradition like the church of today. Jesus attacked the traditions, which existed back then saying “But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men,” Matt 15:9). The primitive church represented the most authentic period in church history, as it existed in the apostolic age, and stuck to the true teachings that were given by the Master Himself – Jesus Christ, Yashua Hamaschiach!
As we are in the season of God’s annual Sabbath of Pentecost, let us reflect on where “the church,” has been coming from and where it has reached today and compare it against scripture and the beliefs of the faithful people of the primitive church. Jesus asked that question in Luke 18:8, will he find a faithful flock when He returns to the Earth a second time?