passover; when is passover; what time is passover; is passover for jews?

The Timing of Passover

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One of the most contentious topics among True Worshipers is Yahweh’s calendar, especially as it applies to Passover. Because the first Biblical month is established at Passover, observing Passover in the correct month will help ensure that all the rest of the annual observances fall properly in the calendar year. One teaching says that we should use the vernal equinox in determining Passover. We discuss this issue beginning on page 10.

The Passover has been misconstrued since the time Judah and Benjamin were led away captive to Babylon. From that point in history the Passover has gone through various transformations. As Yahweh designed it, the Passover is a memorial (moed, appointed time) and separate from the Feast of Unleavened Bread, but Judaism later combined the Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread into one Feast and this has caused much of the problem among Feast keepers today.

Note what the Encyclopaedia Judaica says, “The feast of Passover consists of two parts: the Passover ceremony, and the feast of Unleavened Bread. Originally, both parts existed separately; but at the beginning of the [Babylonian] exile they were combined” (vol. 13, p. 169).

Ten specific passages relating to Passover have posed problems for Bible scholars and students alike. We will examine each of these. An important point to note: If our understanding does not correspond with the original standard given by Yahweh to Israel in the Old Testament, then it is erroneous. Many go wrong here—they fail to consider what Yahweh commanded in the Old Testament and apply those historical facts to the present. Let’s look at our first passage.

• “And ye shall keep it [the sacrifice] up until the fourteenth day of the same month: and the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill it in the evening” (Exodus 12:6, KJV).

The word “even” in Exodus 12:6 does not very accurately translate the original term. The Hebrew for the word “even” is ben ha arbayim, literally “between the two evenings.”

According to modern Jewish rabbis, “between the two evenings” indicates a time between noon and sunset. However, most scholars maintain that this phrase originally signified the time between sunset and complete darkness, which is about a 45-minute period. A number of modern translations interpret this Hebrew phrase as beginning at sunset or twilight, including: The New International Bible, Revised English Bible, New American Bible, New Jerusalem Bible, New King James Bible, James Moffatt Bible, Complete Jewish Bible, Lamsa Bible, The Holy Scriptures (JPS), and the Jewish TANAKH.

Evidence shows that the Jews began only later to define this phrase as the time between noon and sunset. The Jerusalem Bible, in an Exodus 12:6 note, says: “Either between sunset and darkness (Samaritans) or between afternoon and sunset (Pharisees and Talmud). TheZondervan NIV Exhaustive Concordance identifies this phrase as, “evening, twilight, dusk, the fading of the day; twilight can be extended to the dark of the night.” The Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon agrees, noting, “between the two evenings, i.e. prob. between sunset and dark.” The Harper Collins Study Bible gives this explanation, “Twilight, lit. ‘between the two settings,’ apparently between sunset and the last of the residual light in the sky.” And The New Strong’s Expanded Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible says, “The phrase ‘in the evening’ [literally, ‘between the evenings’] means the period between sunset and darkness, ‘twilight’ (Ex. 12:6; KJV, ‘in the evening’).”

• “And this day shall be unto you for a memorial; and ye shall keep it a feast to Yahweh throughout your generations; ye shall keep it a feast by an ordinance for ever” (Exodus 12:14, KJV).

Based on this verse, some Bible students believe that the Passover is a Sabbath and first high day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread in which no work is permitted. The King James Bible is often difficult to understand and in some cases like this one offers a poor rendition of the original meaning. Notice that a semicolon separates “memorial” from the phrase, “and you shall keep it a feast to Yahweh…” as if they are two different observances. The word “it” is added (italicized), offering further evidence that the second phrase describes a Feast apart from the Passover.

The TANAKH seems to recognize this distinction, but renders Exodus 12:14 a bit differently, “This day shall be to you one of remembrance: You shall celebrate it as a festival to Yahweh throughout the ages…” The TANAKH says that we are to remember to observe the Passover “as” we might an annual feast, not that it is a feast. The annual feasts of Yahweh are to be observed on appointed times, and to neglect these feasts is to neglect the will of Yahweh.

For additional information on why Passover is not a high day or the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, write for our comprehensive booklet, 10 Proofs Passover Is a Memorial, Not a High Day (no charge).

• “In the first month, on the fourteenth day of the month at even, ye shall eat unleavened bread, until the one and twentieth day of the month at even” (Exodus 12:18, KJV).

Those who advocate that the Passover is part of the Feast of Unleavened Bread often use this passage to show that both the Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread begin on the 14th day of Abib and stop before the 21st day of Abib. The confusion lies in the word “until.”

The word until is translated from the Hebrew word “ad,” which can mean up to a particular point. This same word “ad” is found inExodus 12:6, which designates the day in which the Passover lamb was slaughtered. Exodus 12:6 says that the lamb was to be kept “until the fourteenth day” of Abib. In other words, the Passover lambs were kept up to the 14th day, and as the 14th day began the lambs were slaughtered.

In the Hebrew a word may have several different definitions or be used several different ways, and such is true for the word ad. The primitive root of ad is adah. Adah means to advance through or go through a certain point in time. Therefore, knowing that the Passover by Yahweh’s command is on the 14th day of Abib and that the Feast begins on the 15th (Lev. 23:5-6), we can conclude that in this verse the meaning from the root word “adah” is proper.

Another example of this usage of adah is found in Exodus 12:15, where Yahweh says that we are to eat unleavened bread “until” the seventh day. We know from Leviticus 23:6 that we are to eat unleavened bread for seven complete days during the Feast of Unleavened Bread, therefore showing that the word “ad” can mean the entire duration thereof. In this case, the Feast goes through the 21st, so that the Passover is not part of the seven days of the Feast.

• “Thou shalt not offer the blood of my sacrifice with leaven; neither shall the sacrifice of the feast of the Passover be left unto the morning” (Exodus 34:25, KJV).

The Authorized Version calls the Passover a “feast” in Exodus 34:25. The word “feast” as found in the King James and many other popular translations is from the Hebrew chag, which can mean either a feast or a type of sacrificial victim.

If we examine the context of Exodus 34:25 from the King James Bible, an inconsistency will be noticed. How can a feast be left “unto the morning”?

This poor rendition by King James translators, who did not keep the annual moedim, can be overcome by inserting the word victim instead of feast in Exodus 34:25. According to Exodus 12, the Passover lamb or victim was not to be left unto the morning. “And ye shall let nothing of it [Passover animal] remain until the morning; and that which remaineth of it until the morning ye shall burn with fire” (Exodus 12:10, KJV).

By delving into the Hebrew and understanding the events of the Passover, this particular verse is made clear. A better rendition ofExodus 34:25 can be found in the Schocken Bible – The Five Books of Moses: “…You are not to leave-overnight, until morning, the pilgrimage-offering of Passover.”

• “In the first month, in the fourteenth day of the month, ye shall have the Passover, a Feast of seven days; unleavened bread shall be eaten” (Ezekiel 45:21, KJV).

This is another verse used to support the idea that the Passover is part of a seven-day feast. What we must remember is that this is but one translation, and likely one of the most difficult translations to understand. We find an improved rendering of this verse from theTANAKH: “On the fourteenth day of the first month you shall have the Passover sacrifice; and during a festival of seven days unleavened bread shall be eaten.”

The TANAKH shows a distinct separation of the Passover from the Feast of Unleavened Bread in Ezekiel 45:21. The semicolon after the word “sacrifice” shows that the second thought is separate from the previous one. (Hebrew lacked punctuation, which was inserted later by translators.)

The TANAKH harmonizes with other passages telling us that the two observances are separate and come on different days (seeLev. 23:5-6 and Num. 28:16-17, each showing clearly that Passover is on the 14th, while the Feast of Unleavened Bread begins on the 15th).

• “Ye know that after two days is the feast of the Passover, and the Son of man is betrayed to be impaled” (Matthew 26:2, KJV).

This passage is cited by those who advocate that the Passover is a Sabbath or Feast. In all English versions of the Bible we have words that were added by the translators in an effort to clarify specific passages. Yet in some cases these words only confuse the issue and make the original meaning difficult.

The translators of the Kings James Bible added the word “feast” in Matthew 26:2. In some Bibles, like the KJV, this is indicated when the word is put in italics. The word “feast” is omitted from Matthew 26:2 in the New Revised Version, Revised English Bible, American Standard Version, Revised Standard Version, World English Bible, New American Bible, Hebrew Names Version, New Jerusalem Bible, Young’s Literal Translation, New King James Version, New International Bible, and the Complete Jewish Bible.

• “Now the first day of the feast of unleavened bread the disciples came to Yahshua, saying unto him, Where wilt thou that we prepare for thee to eat the Passover?” (Matthew 26:17, KJV).

Matthew 26:17 is also used by those who think that the Passover is part of the Feast of Unleavened Bread. It should be first noted that the word “day” in Matthew 26:17 was added by KJV translators. So this passage, with the word “day” omitted, would read, “Now the first of the Feast of Unleavened Bread…”

There is yet another clarification to be made, and that is that the word “first” as found in the Authorized Version can be interpreted differently according to the Greek. The word “first” is from the Greek word “protos” and is explained by the Complete Word Study New Testament, “The superlative degree of pro (4253), before. First; used of time (John 5:4; 1 Cor. 15:45, 47; 2 Tim. 4:16;Rev. 1:11, 17; 2:8); former, before, in a comparative sense, as first is often used in Eng. (Luke 2:2; John 1:15, 30, 42; 8:58; 20:4, 8;1Cor. 14:30); or order or situation (Acts 16:12); of dignity, first, chief, principle.”

The Greek protos signifies an order of events, and more precisely it indicates whether an event is before or concurrent with another. We know by the Old Testament command of Yahweh (Lev. 23:5-6) that the Passover was originally separate from the Feast of Unleavened Bread, and only later did the Jews combine it with the Feast.

Knowing this fact, Matthew 26:17 should more accurately be translated, “Now before [Gk. protos] the feast of unleavened bread the disciples came to Yahshua, saying unto him, Where wilt thou that we prepare for thee to eat the Passover?” The Passover cannot be the first day of the Feast because the first day is a high day and no preparation work would be allowed—including purchasing unleavened bread. It was on the Passover that the disciples assumed that Judas was going to purchase Feast supplies, John 13:29, an assumption they never would have made had Passover been a High Day of the Feast.

Some believe that Yahshua ate only what the Jews call a seder that Passover night, but in Matthew 26:18 Yahshua plainly said that He would keep the Passover at a certain house with His disciples.

According to Yahweh’s law, if a person neglects to partake of the Passover, he will be cut off. “But the man that is clean, and is not in a journey, and forbears to keep the passover, even the same soul shall be cut off from among his people: because he brought not the offering of Yahweh in his appointed season, that man shall bear his sin” (Numbers 9:13). Yahshua obviously understood this law, and would by all means comply with the command to observe the Passover.

If Yahshua had neglected that last Passover, as some suppose, our Savior would have committed a sin and would Himself have been cut off! The Scripture confirms that He was sinless, 1Peter 2:22, and consequently we also know that He kept the Passover according to the law.

• “Now the feast of unleavened bread drew nigh, which is called the Passover” (Luke 22:1, KJV).

Note the phrase, “which is called the Passover.” At that time there were two major Jewish sects, the Pharisees and the Sadducees. Historically it is known that the Pharisees kept the Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread as one single Feast, just as modern Judaism does today, while the Sadducess kept two separate observances: the Passover on the fourteenth and the Feast of Unleavened on the fifteenth day of Abib. It is also widely known that while the Pharisees placed more authority on their own rabbinical teachings (Talmud) than they did on the Scriptures, the Sadducees accepted the Torah as their only source of truth.

Knowing that these differences existed when Luke wrote his Evangel, it is no wonder that he wrote “which is called the Passover.” There were those who kept the Passover as the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread. The Revised English Bible perhaps delivers a clearer interpretation than the Authorized Version: “The festival of Unleavened Bread, known as Passover, was approaching.” It is clear that Luke is not stating that the Passover and Feast of Unleavened Bread are the same Feast, but that some considered the Feast the Passover, no doubt because the one came immediately after the other.

• “Then came the day of unleavened bread, when the Passover must be killed” (Luke 22:7, KJV).

Here is another passage that appears to be stating that the Passover lamb was slaughtered during the Feast of Unleavened Bread. To discern the original intent of this specific passage, an understanding of the Greek is essential. The Greek word for “day” in the above passage is hemera. Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible offers the following definition: “…the time space between dawn and dark, or the whole 24 hours…fig. a period (always defined more or less clearly by the context).” Strong’s offers two different definitions for the Greek hemera — either as a literal 24-hour span or figuratively as a period that is normally defined by the context of the passage.

We know from the Old Testament and Yahweh’s instructions that the Passover was separate from the Feast of Unleavened Bread, therefore, we know that the Passover lambs were not slaughtered during the Feast of Unleavened Bread. In addition, we also know that it was during the period of the Feast of Unleavened Bread that the Passover lambs were killed. Just as people today refer to the Passover by simply saying the Feast of Unleavened Bread, Luke does the same by stating, “Then came the hemera [period] of unleavened bread, when the Passover must be killed.”

• “And it was the third hour, and they impaled him” (Mark 15:25, KJV).

Many believe that Yahshua was impaled at 9:00 a.m., but according to John, Yahshua was not yet convicted by that time: “And it was the preparation of the Passover, and about the sixth hour: and he saith unto the Jews, Behold your King!” (John 19:14). According to John, Yahshua was convicted about the sixth hour, which would be from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. How could He be impaled before being sentenced?

In addition, Matthew 27:45, Mark 15:33, and Luke 23:44 all state that there was darkness over the land from the sixth to the ninth hour. The fact is, no other passage referring to Yahshua’s impalement mentions the third hour. Mark 15:25 has offered a challenge to Biblical scholars from the start.

There are two possible explanations for this inconsistency. The first requires some background on how the Jews defined day and night hours. They broke both the day and night into four equal parts of three hours each: 6:00 a.m. to 9:00 a.m; 9:00 a.m. to noon; noon to 3:00 p.m., and 3:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.

Mark could have possibly been using the Jewish method of calculating time in Mark 15:25.

According to the Commentary on the New Testament, “Mark divides the day into four quarters as he does the night; the second quarter, from nine in the morning until midday, he names after the hour with which it begins; hence, our L-rd was condemned by Pilate and crucified shortly before midday” (p. 224).

We can conclude that Yahshua was convicted roughly before noon, impaled shortly thereafter, and died at 3:00 p.m.

The other explanation is that the word “third” in Mark 15:25 could be a mistranslation. In ancient texts, numbers are often represented with letters. If this were the case in Mark 15:25, it is quite possible that a mistranslation could have occurred due to the similarities between the Greek letters that represent the numbers six and nine. We may never know exactly what time of day Yahshua was convicted and impaled, but we do know that according to three of the Evangels that these events occurred from the sixth to the ninth hour — noon to 3 p.m.

Equinox or Barley?

All of Yahweh’s seven annual Feasts or moedim (appointments) revolve around the harvest cycle of grains and other produce. This is clear with the Passover and Feast of Unleavened Bread, which occur at the barley harvest (Ex. 9:31, Deut. 16:9).

These observances are followed by the Feast of Firstfruits, also known as Pentecost in the New Testament. This special time occurs seven weeks after Unleavened Bread and represents the firstfruits of the wheat harvest made into two loaves of bread that were waved (presented before Yahweh, Lev. 23:17). Then in the seventh month we come to the Feast of Tabernacles, otherwise known as the “Feast of Ingathering” (Ex. 23:16). Tabernacles represents the general harvest at the close of the growing cycle when everything is “gathered in”— from grains to vegetables, melons, nuts, and fruit.

Clearly, the various harvests are central to Yahweh’s Feasts. The harvests prophetically point to the harvest of souls in Yahweh’s great salvation plan — from the firstfruits, which represent His elect people in the first resurrection, to the general harvest of souls after the Millennium.

Even the first month of the sacred year is named Abib, which in Hebrew means “tender, green ears.” The “ears” refer to barley grain in the ear of the stock, the only grain mature enough at the time of the Passover to be green and in the head. Exodus 9:31 reads, “And the flax and the barley was smitten: for the barley was in the ear, and the flax was bolled” [bolled=podded, No. 1392, Heb.gibol]. “32: But the wheat and the rie were not smitten: for they were not grown up.” Therefore, Yahweh says, “This month shall be unto you the beginning of months: it shall be the first month of the year to you,” Exodus 12:2. “This day came you out in the month Abib,” Exodus 13:4.

The state of the crops, especially the barley and flax, is the only criterion that Yahweh gives for establishing the timing of the first month of the year. Nothing in the Bible explains how to establish the first month of the year in any other fashion than the developing green ears of barley.

In the spirit of maturing crops, we are to establish and observe the first month – when the barley grain is green, Leviticus 23:14 (note the words “parched,” meaning roasted, and “green”). Baking or parching the green barley dried it. This was not ripe, dry barley, it was young and green barley. We cannot establish Abib if the barley head is not developed or if the barley seed is dry, ripe, golden and ready to harvest; by then it is too late. The barley must be green and this occurs at a specific time in a specific month.

Where Do We Look?

Can we look at the barley crop growing in our own vicinity to establish Abib? We will find a difference in maturity of several weeks between barley ripening in southern Texas and barley growing in North Dakota. Therefore, the timing of Abib could vary widely depending on where one lives. Ostensibly, believers living at different latitudes could follow calendars that differ by a month or two if one goes by the local barley crop.

The only way to reconcile this discrepancy in growing seasons is to look at the barley that is grown in or around Israel. And that makes perfect sense, because it was to people living in that area of the world that Yahweh gave the command during the green ear month of Abib to keep the Passover and Feast. It is that area of the world that will give us the proper and accurate time based on the barely growing there when Yahweh commanded Israel to keep the first month.

Interestingly, barley originated in the Mediterranean region. How appropriate, then, that we look at the barley growing in the Middle East, and not barley grown in North Dakota, Texas, Australia or somewhere else to establish Abib.

The law provides that the wave sheaf be of the firstfruits of barley. Whatever barley field produced first, from that crop the wave sheaf was taken. Once the wave sheaf was offered to Yahweh, the harvest could begin. Harvesting of barley takes place in early April near Jericho. Abib barley has been reported by the middle of March in the Middle East.

The explanation of why only the barley and flax were damaged by the plague of hail in Egypt (Ex. 9:31) brings up an important point many miss: “…for the barley was in the ear, and the flax was bolled.” “Bolled” is from the Hebrew gibol and means swollen, podded, in the bud. Therefore, one could use the flax plant as a second confirmation for the month of Abib by examining whether it is in the pod at that time.

Why Not Use the Equinox?

Some ignore barley altogether and set Abib 1 according to the vernal equinox. The vernal equinox is that instant when the sun is positioned directly over the earth’s equator in its yearly migration from south to north. It is the time that astronomers define as the beginning of spring when days and nights are equal in length. (Yet there are still several days difference between equal night and day at the equator and equal night and day in the northern hemisphere where Israel and the U.S. are located.)

Those who employ the vernal equinox point to Genesis 1:14, claiming that the sun, moon, and stars set the Feasts. It is true that the sun divides day from night and brings about the seasons, while the new moon sets the beginning of months. Nowhere in the entire Bible, however, can one find where the vernal equinox establishes Abib, nor is there one verse referring to the vernal equinox.

The King James Version has led some astray in the way it translates moed in Exodus 13:10, Num. 9:2, 3, 7, and 13. The KJV uses “season” in these verses, causing some to believe that the command is specifically for a spring season Passover, and therefore must involve the vernal equinox. In reality, the Hebrew moed simply means “set time” or “appointed time.” Yahweh has set Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread by crop growth, not by a man-made definition for when spring beings (the equinox).

Passover is related to spring only through the growing cycle of crops. First and foremost, it must occur in the month of Abib. Abib itself hinges on the condition of grain, not a season.

Equinox and Historic Paganism

When the Roman church deliberately acted to separate Easter from Passover, it ruled in 325 CE in the Council of Nicaea that Easter would fall on the first Sunday after the first full moon following the vernal equinox. This setting of an observance was entirely man-made, and appropriately applied to a similarly man-made holiday called Easter.

The Roman church, acting on its own authority, bestowed a legitimacy to the vernal equinox as a calendar marker even though it lacks such in a Biblical context. That does not mean, however, that the vernal equinox had no significance among historic pagans and their calendars. (See more about this on our Web page at yrm.org)

Tequphah’ Is not the Equinox

The argument has been attempted that the vernal equinox corresponds to the Hebrew word “tequphah,” which is found four times in the Bible. The definition of tequphah (Strong’s Concordance No. 8622) is: “A revolution, i.e. of the sun course (of time) lapse: circuit, come about, end.” From the definition, we find it next to impossible to attach any certain connection of tequphah to a spring equinox. The evidence, in fact, points to the end of the year, not the beginning.

The following passages contain the Hebrew word tequphah as well as its meaning, as indicated by the quotation marks:

Exodus 34:22 (Feast of ingathering at the “year’s end”)

2Chron. 24:23 (Syria attacked Judah at the “end of the year”)

2Chronicles. 24:23; 36:10 (“end of the year/year was expired”)

Brown, Driver, Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon defines the tequphah (Strong’s No. 8622) as: “coming round, circuit;—Ex. 34:22, adv., at the circuit (completion) of the year, so 2Chron. 24:23= pl. cstr. 1Sam. 1:20; sig. Sf. Of finished circuit of sun.” p. 880

This lexicon says about the root of tequphah: “No. 5362 naqaph: 1. An intransitive verb meaning to surround something… (Isa. 29:1, let feasts go around, i.e. run the round (of the year). 2. make the round, i.e. complete the circuit. Job 1:5 when the days of feasting had completed their circuit.”

The closest we have in the Bible to spring as a season is 6779, tsamach, a primitive root meaning to sprout, bear, bring forth, bud, grow, cause to spring (forth, up). The Bible’s “spring” is determined by crops, not by solar positioning.

Yahweh’s Feasts are agricultural in nature. It is this fact that binds them to the Biblical theme of salvation through the spiritually maturing and “harvesting” of souls for the Kingdom, which will occur when the angels come to weed out the tares and gather the elect for the Kingdom, Matthew 13:30. May you be counted among the good produce at that final harvest for Yahweh’s Kingdom because you were obedient in all things.

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What the Bible says about Easter

Easter- The Fertility of It All

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Is Easter in the Bible?

 Egg-laying rabbits; hot cross buns; Lent and ham dinners; sun-centered worship — why the strange customs? Why the strange name, “Easter”?   

On an early Sunday morning in April dad gets up and stumbles in the darkness searching for his best suit. He swallows a quick juice and heads off to the church. There he joins 20 of his friends gathered outside. As they look to the eastern sky they become enraptured by the brilliance of the dawning sun. Someone begins to sing a hymn. Others join in, faces glowing as they respond in adoration of the warming rays of the yellow orb.

Back home mother drives the chill from the house as she warms the oven. The smell of baking dough will spread to the bedrooms, beckoning awakening children to join her in making sugary crosses on toasty cakes.

A fat ham roasts in the oven. Dad’s mouth waters as he anticipates returning home and dining on the ritual offerings he has come to savor each spring. But first one more prayer with hands stretched upward in praise as the vernal sun rises to jumpstart the life-cycle of another new year.

As he heads home he notices many others celebrating the return of spring in groves of trees that line the road.

The year is 500 years before the Messiah. Prophets like Isaiah and Jeremiah conveyed Yahweh’s disdain for a celebration that not only has survived millennia, but even blossomed into one of the major celebrations of Christianity today—Easter.

Easter takes its name from a deity of the Chaldeans known as Astarte or Ishtar. “Her presence was thought to guarantee fertility, and in her absence the land, humans, and animals could not reproduce,” Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological, and Ecclesiastical Literature.

Easter a Phantom Observance

But is Easter in the Bible? Can we find the word Easter? Only in Acts 12:4 in the King James Version. It is a mistranslation of the Greek Pasch or Passover.

Barnes Notes says about the KJV’s changing the term Passover to Easter: “There was never a more absurd or unhappy translation than this. The original is simply after the Passover.”

Here’s how other versions translate Acts 12:4:

New Living Translation:
“… Herod’s intention was to bring Peter out for public trial after the Passover.”

International Standard Version
“…planning to bring him out to the people after Passover season.”

New American Standard Bible
“…intending after the Passover to bring him out before the people.

American Standard Version
“…intending after the Passover to bring him forth to the people.

Bible in Basic English
“…his purpose being to take him out to the people after the Passover.

Douay-Rheims Bible
“…intending, after the pasch, to bring him forth to the people.

English Revised Version
“…intending after the Passover to bring him forth to the people.

World English Bible
“… intending to bring him out to the people after the Passover.

Young’s Literal Translation
“… intending after the passover to bring him forth to the people.

New International Version
“…Herod intended to bring him out for public trial after the Passover.”

New King James:
“… intending to bring him before the people after Passover.”

New Living Translation:
“… Herod’s intention was to bring Peter out for public trial after the Passover.”

Notice the preceding verse 3 of Acts 12: “These were the days of unleavened bread.” What connection does the Feast of Unleavened Bread have with Easter? None. What does Easter have to do with the Feast of Unleavened Bread? Nothing. But the Passover and Feast of UB have a lot to do with each other. In the law the Feast follows the Pass-over on the 15th of Abib.

The early New Testament believers in Acts were still observing the Old Testament’s Passover and Feast of Unleavened Bread! Never did Yahshua the Messiah or His apostles or any of the Jews of their day observe Easter.

Easter today is known in other languages by words that link it directly to Passover: French­ Paques; Italian-Pasqua; Spanish­ Pascua; Dutch- Pasen. The word for Easter sounds similar in each of these languages. The problem is, it doesn’t sound at all like “Easter” but like the original and Scriptural “Passover.”

Its absence in the ancient manuscripts shows that the Easter celebration was completely missing in New Testament worship. This fact has not escaped even secular sources. The New Werner Edition of the Encyclopaedia Britannica says, “There is no trace of the celebration of Easter as a Christian festival in the New Testament or in the writings of the apostolic fathers,” vol. VII, p. 531.

It wasn’t until 800 years after Yahshua that an observance of His resurrection was ever called Easter.

Nelsons Illustrated Bible Dictionary says on p. 317, “Easter was originally a pagan festival honoring Eostre, a Teutonic [Germanic] goddess of light and spring. At the time of the vernal equinox, sacrifices were offered in her honor. As early as the 8th century the name was used to designate the annual Christian celebration of the resurrection of Messiah.”

The word “Easter” is a renaming and completely unauthorized replacement of the Passover. The Eleventh Edition of the Encyclopaedia Britannica makes this short and eyeopening statement: “The name Easter (German Ostern) like the names of the days of the week, is a survival from the old Teutonic mythology. According to Bede, it is derived from Eostre or Ostara, the Anglo-Saxon goddess of spring, to whom the month answering to our April, and called Eostur-monath, was dedicated.”

Historically, Easter is the celebration of the ancient queen of heaven, Ishtar, the Babylonian goddess of fertility, love, war, and sex. Her beau was the Babylonian Tammuz (Greek Adonis). She is the same goddess worshiped throughout the Near East and Mediterraneanworlds almost from the beginning of recorded history. She was variously known as Inanna, Innin, Astarte, Ashtar, the Greek Aphrodite, and the Roman Venus.

Solar Survivals a Heathen Legacy  

Virtually all heathen religions of antiquity worshiped the sun. In Ezekiel’s day Judah had incorporated sun worship into their own worship of Yahweh. Yahweh was no more happy with their doing that than He is with admixing the same practices today and calling it a “Biblical” observance. We have no authority to make our own worship. Doing so is making Yahweh into our image.

We read that this idolatry consumed ancient Judah in Ezekiel 8: “Then he brought me to the entrance to the north gate of the house of Yahweh, and I saw women sitting there, mourning for Tammuz. He said to me, ‘Do you see this, son of man? You will see things that are even more detestable than this.’

“He then brought me into the inner court of the house of Yahweh, and there at the entrance to the temple, between the portico and the altar, were about twenty-five men. With their backs toward the temple of Yahweh and their faces toward the east, they were bowing down to the sun in the east.”

The sun-worship services of the backslidden Israelites, with their women participating in the rites of Astarte worship (Easter) and weeping for Tammuz was detestable to Almighty Yahweh. Little angers our Father in heaven more than embracing the idolatry of the heathen nations.

No Commemoration for the Resurrection 

Nothing about memorializing Yahshua’s resurrection is commanded anywhere in the Bible. The proper observance of Yahshua’s death is the Passover, for which we have plenty of commands and examples in both Old and New testaments. Yahweh instructs, “These are the feasts of Yahweh, even holy convocations, which you shall proclaim in their seasons. In the fourteenth day of the first month at even is Yahweh’s Passover,” Leviticus 23:4-5. Nowhere is man given authority to alter this observance or morph it into something else.

Early believers observed the Passover according to the command. Ultimately the Roman church instituted Easter. “The Passover, ennobled by the thought of [the Messiah] the true Paschal Lamb, the first-fruits from the dead, continued to be celebrated and became the Christian Easter” (Britannica).

In the Passover-to-Easter transformation, the first act was to change the day on which Passover was observed. The Britannica notes, “A difference as to the time of its observance speedily sprang up between Christians of Jewish and Gentile descent, which led to a long-continued and bitter controversy, and an unhappy severance of Christian union.”

Some of the early churches stuck with the Biblical command for the 14th of Abib. They were called Quartodecimani and were regarded as heretics.

Others couldn’t decide which day of the week they would observe the “holy day” and did as they saw fit. “In the words of Epiphanius, ‘Some,’ he writes, ‘began the festival before the week, some after the week, some at the beginning, some at the middle, some at the end, thus creating a wonderful and laborious confusion,’ ” Ibid.

It finally took a papal decree of Pius I to settle the issue. And thus we have the modern Easter falling on the first Sunday following the first full moon after the vernal equinox.

They Couldn’t Stick with Scripture

It would be bad enough to keep an arbitrary day named and observed for a pagan deity in honor of the Savior. But the atrocity doesn’t stop there.

The many trappings of the Easter rite sank the participant further into the abyss of idolatry. As the Roman Church grew it encountered heathen nations who held tena-ciously to their idol worship and man-made customs. The Roman church recognized that to amalgamate these peoples into its church-state, it would need to make an easy crossover for them. Rather than forcing the pagans to drop their worship altogether, the church found it expedient to recognize as much as possible their heathen rites in its own ecclesiastical calendar.

This blending of beliefs is explained by James G. Frazer in his book, The Golden Bough: “Taken altogether, the coincidences of the Christian and the heathen festivals are too close and too numerous to be accidental. They mark the compromise which the church in the hour of its triumph was compelled to make with its vanquished yet still dangerous rivals. The inflexible Protestantism of the primitive missionaries, with fiery denunciations of heathendom, had been exchanged for the supple policy, the easy tolerance, the comprehensive charity of shrewd ecclesiastics, who clearly perceived that if Christianity was to conquer the world it could do so only by relaxing the too rigid principles of its founder, by widening a little the narrow gate which leads to salvation.”

With those carryovers came the inclusion of the idol-rooted customs of eggs, rabbits, hot cross buns, ham dinners, bonfires, lent, and sunrise services all used in pagan worship.

Each of these was related either to sun worship, fertility worship of pagan deities and worship of life itself or, as in the custom of eating swine, a snub of the Jews they disdained.

Easter hams get their origin from the corn goddess and counterpart to Astarte, Demeter, whose mascot was the pig.

The heathens believed that by eating what represented their god, in this case, swine that they were literally partaking of their god.

What does Yahweh think of those who practice such things each year? Note Isaiah 65:3-5. “A people that provoketh me to anger continually to my face; that sacrificeth in gardens, and burneth incense upon altars of brick;Which remain among the graves, and lodge in the monuments, which eat swine’s flesh, and broth of abominable things is in their vessels; Which say, Stand by thyself, come not near to me; for I am holier than thou. These are a smoke in my nose, a fire that burneth all the day.”

None of Easter’s traditions can be found in connection with pure worship of the Bible. Not Lent. Not Good Friday. Not Easter itself.

It is no coincidence that Easter involves symbols of eggs and rabbits, historically representing fruitful reproduction. Consider Easter’s bizarre melding of two powerful symbols of fertility — egg-laying rabbits. It’s a powerful example of the whole absurdity of using this observance to celebrate Yahshua’s resurrection.

The Catholic Encyclopedia, 1909 ed., has the following admission: “A great many pagan customs, celebrating the return of spring, gravitated to Easter. The egg is the emblem of the germinating life of early spring…The rabbit is a pagan symbol and has always been a symbol of fertility.”

The egg became associated with Astarte or Venus, when she hatched from a giant one that fell from heaven. The egg to the ancient represented the entire universe, which engenders everything. It is round, like the world, and is the universal principle of new life. The mystic egg was venerated in most paganistic nations of the world: Greece, Egypt, Persia, Babylon, India, Japan, and Phoenicia.

Lent on Loan from the Ancients

The 40-day, pre-Easter “fast” known as Lent is an appendage of the mythologies of Greece and Rome. But as with much of false worship, the custom of Lent was original with Babylonian paganism.

“From Arnobius we learn that the fast which the pagans observed, called ‘Castus’ or the ‘sacred’ fast, was, by the Christians in his time, believed to have been primarily in imitation of the long fast of Ceres, when for many days she determinedly refused to eat on account of her ‘excess of sorrow,’ that is, on the account of the loss of her daughter Proserpine, when carried away by Pluto, the god of hell,” Alexander Hislop, The Two Babylons, p. 105.

Because the early Roman church had no direction from Scripture on the observance of Lent, its first steps with the custom were faltering. “Originally, even in Rome, Lent with the preceding revelries of the Carnival, was entirely unknown; and even when fasting before the Christian Pasch was held to be necessary, it was by slow steps that, in this respect, it came to conform with the ritual of paganism,” The Two Babylons p. 106.

At first, Lent was only half as long as the present 40 days. Hislop explains, “But at last, when the worship of Astarte was rising into the ascendant, steps were taken to get the whole Chaldean Lent of six weeks, or forty days, made imperative on all within the Roman Empire of the West,” pp. 106-107.

Each year before Easter we see people walking around with palm ash in the shape of a cross smudged in the middle of their foreheads. They are marking the 40 days from Ash Wednesday to Easter. It’s a time supposed to be spent in penitence and fasting, and is a practice completely missing from the Scriptures.

Cakes for a Pagan’s Deity

Mother’s making of hot cross buns for Easter traces to worship of the goddess Astarte or Easter. Jeremiah the prophet underscored this abomination in speaking Yahweh’s denunciation of these same heathen practices of his day: “See not what they do in the cities of Judahand in the streets of Jerusalem? The children gather wood, and the fathers kindle the fire, and the women knead their dough, to make cakes to the queen of heaven, and to pour out drink offerings unto other deities, that they may provoke Me to anger,”Jeremiah 7:18.

In Jeremiah 44:19 is another stinging rebuke of those who offered to the pagan goddess. The prophet says in one of the succeeding verses, “Yahweh could no longer bear, because of the evil of your doings, and because of the abominations which you have committed; therefore is your land a desolation, and an astonishment, and a curse, without an inhabitant, as at this day,” verse 22. He continues, that because His people rejected His laws and statutes, a curse would befall them.

Various pagans have depicted Astarte differently, but always in connection with procreation. Her worship is alive and well today in the symbols and customs of Easter.

Passover: the Right Observance for Today

Yahweh tells us in Proverbs 14:12 that even if we think we are serving Yahweh in ways that seem okay to us, that those ways are still wrong and carry an ultimate penalty. “There is a way that seems right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.”

The masses just blindly fall into this observance each year because everyone else is just blindly falling into it. Unless something drastic happens to a person, he will continue traditional ways just as his parents did and their parents did and their parents did. And he won’t ever question why! We truly are slaves to habit, to custom, to routine, to convention and to ritual.

Our Creator has prescribed the only way He wants to be worshiped, and we as His creation have no authority to change anything. “‘For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are my ways your ways,’ says Yahweh.”

Passover is the memorial commemorating the death of the Savior for the sins of mankind. Through His death, which paid the ultimate penalty for us, we can have everlasting life. That is the message Yahweh wants us to hold on to. And we do so every year when we partake of the Passover memorial emblems.

Easter has nothing in common with the Passover. We find no command anywhere in the entire Bible to observe the resurrection of the Savior. We are enjoined to remember the day of His death, however, with Passover. At its core Easter is nothing more than the perpetuation of the practice of pagan rites and rituals. And Yahweh warns not to learn such ways.

In 1Corinthians 10:14-22 is the apostle’s warning against profaning the Passover and its significance by other practices and other symbols not given in the Word:

“Wherefore, my dearly beloved, flee from idolatry. I speak as to wise men; judge ye what I say. The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of the Messiah? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of the Messiah? For we being many are one bread, and one body: for we are all partakers of that one bread. Behold Israel after the flesh: are not they which eat of the sacrifices partakers of the altar? What say I then? that the idol is any thing, or that which is offered in sacrifice to idols is any thing? But I say, that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to devils, and not to Yahweh: and I would not that ye should have fellowship with devils.Ye cannot drink the cup of Yahweh, and the cup of devils: ye cannot be partakers of Yahweh’s table, and of the table of devils. Do we provoke the Sovereign to jealousy? are we stronger than he?”

Now that you know the truth, you have a decision to make. Continue on in ways of ultimate destruction or return to the faith once delivered to the saints, Jude 3. That faith includes the true days commanded in the Word – His Feasts and Sabbath. You are being called to make a choice, which is truly a life or death decision. Choose life.

Watch: “Pagan Origins of Easter” below

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Sabbath keeping

Sabbath Keeping- Answering the Arguments

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How often have you wished you could explain a questionable Scripture or teaching but simply lacked the understanding? When someone blind-sides you with a particular point and you cannot think of a Scriptural response, what do you do? In this series called Defending the Truth, we will give you the popular polemics, along with a Biblical explanation that refutes what is commonly used against the Truth. We pray that as you study these topics you will never again be caught off guard as you grow in the knowledge and understanding of Yahweh’s Word.

Arguments About the Sabbath and Sunday
If you ever engage in discussions with Sunday keepers about the Sabbath, you will almost certainly be called on to answer six specific passages in the New Testament. Three of these are typically used in support of Sunday as the Sabbath. The other three are cited in an effort to show that there is no need to keep the Sabbath holy.

Let us look at the first three passages used in an effort to show that Sunday is the day of rest.

THE PASSAGE IN QUESTION…

  • Acts 20:7: “And upon the first day of the week when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul preached unto them, ready to depart on the morrow; and continued his speech until midnight.”

Wrong interpretation—The common idea is that Paul was holding a Sunday worship service.

Proper explanation—Note that the word “day” is italicized in the King James Version, meaning it was added by translators. The phrase should properly read, “And upon the first of the…” The word “week” in the Greek is Sabbaton, or Sabbath, Strong’s Greek Dictionary. In Word Studies in the New Testament, M.R. Vincent notes, “The noun Sabbath is often used after numerals in the signification of a week” (Acts 20:7 note). The Greek text behind this phrase, therefore, literally reads “And upon the first of the Sabbaths.”

First for what? The verse refers to the first weekly Sabbath in the seven-Sabbath (seven-week) count to Pentecost. Paul was moved to give a message on this day. This occurred following a regular meal that the disciples had enjoyed on a weekly Sabbath, not Sunday.

THE PASSAGE IN QUESTION…

  • 1Corinthians 16:2: “And upon the first day of the week let every one of you lay by him in store, as Elohim has prospered him, that there be no gatherings when I come.”

Wrong interpretation—Paul is telling the Corinthians to pass the collection plate at church on Sunday.

Proper explanation—In reality, this passage is speaking of coming to the aid of Judean brethren who were suffering from personal distress, perhaps because of famine (see Acts 11:27-30). Notice the preceding verse, where Paul’s subject is established. He calls it a “collection for the saints,” not for “church,” and he has already given orders to the Assemblies in Galatia to help out the brethren in their plight.

He tells the Corinthians to store the gatherings (Greek logia) beginning with the first of the week (again, “day” is italicized and was added by translators). Paul wanted them to prepare the gifts beforehand “that there be no gatherings when I come.”

In verse 3 he says he will send approved men to take the goods to Jerusalem. If this were just a monetary offering, it would take no more than one man to deliver it to Jerusalem. These, however, were laborious gatherings of foodstuffs and other essentials that were to be collected and made ready on the first of the week so that Paul could dispatch it all when he arrived.

THE PASSAGE IN QUESTION…

  • Revelation 1:10: “I was in the spirit on the L-rd’s day, and heard behind me a great voice as of a trumpet…”

Wrong interpretation—The term “L-rd’s day” refers to Sunday (and Sunday worship).

Proper explanation—The phrases “L-rd’s day” and “day of the L-rd” refer specifically to the day of Yahshua’s return at the final trumpet sound announcing His Second Coming. Nowhere in the Bible is there any reference to Sunday in connection with these phrases. The only passage in the Bible where the specific term “L-rd’s day” is found is here in Revelation 1:10, where it defines the day of Yahshua’s return at the trumpet sound and the awesome events that surround it.

Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance lists a total of 20 passages containing the words “day of the L-rd.” In each of them we find reference to the dreadful, end-time day of the Savior’s return to destroy the wicked on this earth. In none of them is any mention made to Sunday or its worship. An example is Zephaniah 1:14-15, 17: “The great day of the Yahweh (L-rd) is near, it is near, and hastes greatly, even the voice of the day of the L-rd: the mighty man shall cry there bitterly. That day is a day of wrath, a day of trouble and distress, a day of wasteness and desolation, a day of darkness and gloominess, a day of clouds and thick darkness…And I will bring distress upon men…”

Amos 5:18 warns those who desire and look forward to the day of Yahweh (the L-rd), saying that it is a day of darkness and not light. Paul writes in 1Thessalonians 5:2 that the day of Yahweh will come as a thief in the night. Joel 2:31 calls it “the great and terrible day of Yahweh.” Each instance speaks of the Second Coming of Yahshua. It is the exact opposite of a day of quiet, enjoyable, Sabbath rest!

Now we will deal with three passages most often cited to say that a Sabbath day is no longer necessary today.

THE PASSAGE IN QUESTION

  • Romans 14:5: “One man esteems one day above another: another esteems every day alike. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind.”

Wrong interpretation—Whether to keep any day as a Sabbath is up to each individual.

Proper explanation—A good example of taking a passage out of context is this verse. Paul is not speaking about the Sabbath at all but about fasting. The other subject of the chapter is vegetarianism (see verses 2-3). He writes, “For one believes that he may eat all things: another, who is weak, eats herbs.” Then in verse 3 Paul admonishes that eating or not eating is up to the individual. The Bible in Basic English translates verse 3 this way: “Let not him who takes food have a low opinion of him who does not: and let not him who does not take food be a judge of him who does; for he has [Elohim’s] approval.”

The issue of keeping a Sabbath of rest does not even enter into this passage. What is being discussed in verse 5 is the practice of some who choose one day over another to fast. The next verse (6) shows that some people placed one day over another in their devotion to fasting. (“He that eats, eats to Yahweh, for He gives Yahweh thanks.”) The problem was, some in the Assembly at Rome were being judged for doing so. Paul entreats us not to judge one another regarding eating or not eating, v. 13.

The summation of the chapter is in verses 20-21: “For meat destroy not the work of [Elohim]. All things indeed are pure; but it is evil for that man who eats with offence. It is good neither to eat flesh, nor to drink wine, nor any thing whereby your brother stumbles, or is offended, or is made weak.” Nothing in this entire chapter speaks of observing a Sabbath day.

THE PASSAGE IN QUESTION

  • Galatians 4:9-11: “But now, after that you have known Elohim, or rather are known of Elohim, how turn ye again to the weak and beggarly elements, whereunto you desire again to be in bondage? You observe days, and months, and times, and years. I am afraid of you, lest I have bestowed upon you labor in vain.”

Wrong interpretation—Yahweh has freed us from such observances as the Sabbath and Feasts, which are so much bondage.

Proper explanation—Paul is addressing a people here who had been converted to the knowledge of Yahweh. Who were these Galatians? Their name derives from “Gaul,” being a Celtic people from the area of ancient France and Belgium. These superstitious pagans had settled this region of Asia Minor and Paul was apparently the first to bring the truth of the Evangel to them. Now that they have been converted, they know Yahweh and He knows them, Paul writes.

But Paul is concerned that some of them are going back (“turn again”) to their old, superstitious worship, which he calls “weak and beggarly elements,” verse 3. These Galatians were being indoctrinated by Judaizers and no doubt were confused. The Judaizers had come among them teaching physical circumcision and other rituals of the law, which Paul had said are not necessary for salvation. (Paul addresses those holding the Judaizers’ doctrine in Acts 4:21.) As a result of their bewilderment, some were returning to their heathen worship of the mother deity Agdistis and perhaps sacrificing humans again, as well as observing their own days, months, times, and years in place of Yahweh’s commanded observances. Notice that Paul’s comment in verse 10 refers back to verse 8: “Howbeit when you knew not Elohim, you did service unto them which by nature are no mighty ones.”

Clearly, these people were returning to their old, idolatrous worship before they knew the true Yahweh. In no way is Paul bringing the Sabbath and Feasts of Yahweh into play, which are nowhere referred to as “days, months, times and years” in the Scriptures. Paul is concerned that he may have wasted his time converting these people if they go back to their former worship, verse 11. One translation renders the phrase, “turn you again to the weak and beggarly elements whereunto you desire again to be in bondage” as “back to the weak and helpless elemental false gods, whose slaves you want to be once more” (The New Testament: A New Translation).

Paul is not teaching the Galatians to reject the Sabbath, because he himself observed this commanded day of worship (Acts 13:42-44; 16:13; 17:2; 18:4). He also observed the annual Feasts (Acts 18:21; 20:6, 16).

THE PASSAGE IN QUESTION

  • Colossians 2:14, 16: “Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his stake…Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holy-day, or the new moon, or of the sabbath days: Which are a shadow of things to come; but the body is of Messiah.”

Wrong interpretation—The laws, including the Sabbath, were nailed to the tree and the decision to keep any day holy is up to you; no one should judge you for doing so.

Proper explanation—Verse 14: When Yahshua was nailed to the tree, He brought an end to the Old Covenant system of animal sacrifices and ritual. Along with that were added laws the Jews imposed to make the law even more strict. We see this in verses 21-22: “Touch not; taste not; handle not; which are all to perish with the using; after the commandments and doctrines of men.” These were not Yahweh’s laws but man’s. We see this in the phrase “handwriting of ordinances.” Ordinances is the Greek dogma, meaning man-made rules and decrees. These were handwritten additions to the law meant to cause a further separation between Jew and Gentile. Four other passages use dogma and in each they refer to a man-made law or decree (see Luke 2:1; Acts 16:4; Acts 17:7,Eph. 2:15).

The question is, were Yahweh’s laws “against us”? On the contrary! Deuteronomy 10:12-13 says His laws are for our good!Psalm 19:7 tells us that the law is perfect and even converts the soul. Yahshua tells us that if we love Him we will keep His commandments, John 14:15. Paul confirms that the law is holy and just and good, Romans 7:12.

Verse 16: When Paul converted the people to the way of Yahweh, he taught them Yahweh’s laws, including the Feasts and Sabbath, which he kept as well. As happens today, people who had no understanding were criticizing the Colossian brethren for keeping these days commanded in the Scriptures. So Paul admonishes them to let “no man” judge them. As the Greek indicates, the term “no man” means any outsider. Paul tells them not to let anyone outside the faith criticize them for what they do. And that includes what they ate, which was in compliance with the clean food laws of Leviticus 11.

Notice the italicized word is—”but the body is of Messiah.” Italicizing means the translators added the word is to try to make the passage clearer. But they made it worse. Without the word is, the passage suddenly becomes clear. Paul was saying, don’t let outsiders judge you about your obedience, but only the Body of Messiah should be allowed to discern these things.

Enter Mystery Worship

In addition to the New Testament, we also find evidence for the seventh-day Sabbath throughout the history of the “early church.” According to Dr. Augustus Neander in his book The History of the Christian Religion and Church: “The festival of Sunday, like all other festivals was always only a human ordinance, and it was far from the intentions of the apostles to establish a Divine command in this respect, far from them, and from the early apostolic church, to transfer the laws of the Sabbath to Sunday” (1843, p. 186).

Dr. Neander, who’s birth name was David Mendel, was a protestant minister and professor. In his book he validates that the change to Sunday was not inspired by the apostles, but was established on the law of man. As we saw earlier, there is no law in the New Testament promoting Sunday worship. All examples expressly establish the seventh-day as the only inspired Sabbath.

In his book History of Romanism, John Dowling confirms that paganism entered the early church. He writes, “There is scarcely anything which strikes the mind of the careful student of ancient ecclesiastical history with greater surprise than the comparatively early period at which many of the corruptions of Christianity, which are embodied in the Roman system, took their rise; yet it is not to be supposed that when the first originators of many of these unscriptural notions and practices planted those germs of corruption, they anticipated or even imagined they would ever grow into such a vast and hideous system of superstition and error as is that of popery” (13th Edition, p. 65).

According to Dowling, the paganization of the church went far beyond the Sabbath. It touched almost every facet of the church and in so doing polluted what Yahshua and His apostles established in the New Testament. This included not only the Sabbath, but many of the popular holidays that are observed today, including Christmas and Easter. True to suspicions, we find a connection between Sunday and Christmas. Both were connected with sun worship.

According to the Webster’s Dictionary, the word Sunday literally means, “day of the sun.” (1966, p. 1826). Sunday was chosen because of its connection to sun worship. In like manner, Christmas was chosen because of its connection to a Roman cult known as Mithraism. This cult worshiped the sun deity Mithra, whose birth was on December 25. Once the church realized that they could not overcome this popular pagan cult, they decided to adopt December 25 as a Christian day of worship.

Constantine Commands Sunday

Issuing the first civil edict making Sunday the day of worship for His Roman empire was Constantine I or Saint Constantine, also known as Constantine the Great. He was emperor from 306 CE to 337 CE and according to history was the first Roman emperor to convert to Christianity. However, prior to his conversion it is well documented that this man was a sun worshiper and only converted upon his death bed. This is the same king who required Sunday observance by civil command!

In his famous edict of 321 CE, Constantine declared, “On the Venerable Day of the Sun let the magistrates and people residing in cities rest, and let all workshops be closed. In the country, however, persons engaged in agriculture may freely and lawfully continue their pursuits; because it often happens that another day is not so suitable for grain-sowing or for vine-planting; lest by neglecting the proper moment for such operations the bounty of heaven should be lost.”

Think about this — a sun worshipper changed the day that our Father in heaven established in favor of a day that was being honored and observed to the sun. This edict undeniably verifies the paganism of Sunday worship. There is, again, not a single verse in the New Testament confirming that the day of worship changed from the seventh to the first-day of the week. This change was only through the pen of man, not through the inspiration of Almighty Yahweh, the one with whom we should be concerned.

At the Council of Laodicea in 364 CE, 43 years after Constantine’s original edict, we find a second attempt to remove the Sabbath. In this decree the counsel of bishops declared, “Christians shall not Judaize and be idle on Saturday, but shall work on that day; but the Lord’s day they shall especially honour, and as being Christians, shall, if possible, do no work on that day. If, however, they are found Judaizing, they shall by shut out from Christ.”

Not only did the bishops state here that Sunday was to be observed in lieu of the seventh-day Sabbath, but we find that they also forbade Christians from Judaizing the Sabbath. This provides irrefutable evidence that for 300 years after the death of Yahshua there were still “Christians” observing the Biblical Sabbath. It also shows the desire of the church to move away from its Jewish or Hebraic heritage.

In addition to absorbing pagan converts, antisemiticism was a key reason the Church abandoned many of the beliefs taught by the Messiah and His apostles, including a rejection of the Passover and the acceptance of Easter, a day that originally honored Eostre, a Teutonic (Germanic) g-ddess of light and spring.

It is essential to note that Sunday observance was not left to man’s freedom, but was, again, enforced by strict command of the government. In essence, it was forced obedience to man’s dogma, i.e., man-made doctrine. Through this decree and others that would come afterward Sunday became the counterfeit Sabbath. However, even with these efforts to criminalize those who would honor the true Sabbath, there are records showing that Sabbath observance was never completely removed.

For example, W.T. Skene writes in his book Adamnan Llife of St. Columbs about the Scottish church in the sixth century, “In this latter instance they seemed to have followed a custom of which we find traces in the early monastic church of Ireland by which they held Saturday to be the Sabbath on which they rested from all their labours” (1874, p.96).

As believers we must realize that our assurance is rooted in the Hebraic faith, the same faith given to Abraham. To deviate from this is to forsake the faith of the Messiah and the forefathers of the Old Testament. In expounding upon His own coming, Yahshua made the following statement in Luke 24:4, “And he said unto them, These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me.”

Shocking Catholic Church Statements

“It is well to remind the Presbyterians, Baptists, Methodists, and all other Christians, that the Bible does not support them anywhere in their observance of Sunday. Sunday is an institution of the Roman Catholic Church, and those who observe the day observe a commandment of the Catholic Church.” Priest Brady, in an address, reported in the Elizabeth, NJ ‘News’ on March 18, 1903.

“Protestants … accept Sunday rather than Saturday as the day for public worship after the Catholic Church made the change… But the Protestant mind does not seem to realize that … in observing Sunday, they are accepting the authority of the spokesman for the Church, the pope.” Our Sunday Visitor, February 5th, 1950.

“Deny the authority of the Church and you have no adequate or reasonable explanation or justification for the substitution of Sunday for Saturday in the Third – Protestant Fourth – Commandment of G-d… The Church is above the Bible, and this transference of Sabbath observance is proof of that fact.’’ Catholic Record, September 1, 1923.

“Of course these two old quotations are exactly correct. The Catholic Church designated Sunday as the day for corporate worship and gets full credit – or blame – for the change.” This Rock, The Magazine of Catholic Apologetics and Evangelization, p.8, June 1997

‘The [Roman Catholic] Church changed the observance of the Sabbath to Sunday by right of the divine, infallible authority given to her by her founder, Jesus Christ. The Protestant claiming the Bible to be the only guide of faith, has no warrant for observing Sunday. In this matter the Seventh-day Adventist is the only consistent Protestant.’’ The Catholic Universe Bulletin, August 14, 1942, p. 4.

“… you may read the Bible from Genesis to Revelation, and you will not find a single line authorizing the sanctification of Sunday. The Scriptures enforce the religious observance of Saturday, a day which we never sanctify.” The Faith of Our Fathers, by James Cardinal Gibbons, Archbishop of Baltimore, 88th edition, page 89. Originally published in 1876, republished and Copyright 1980 by TAN Books and Publishers, Inc., pages 72-73.

“Perhaps the boldest thing, the most revolutionary change the Church ever did, happened in the first century. The holy day, the Sabbath, was changed from Saturday to Sunday. “The Day of the Lord” (dies Dominica) was chosen, not from any directions noted in the Scriptures, but from the Church’s sense of its own power. The day of resurrection, the day of Pentecost, fifty days later, came on the first day of the week. So this would be the new Sabbath. People who think that the Scriptures should be the sole authority, should logically become 7th Day Adventists, and keep Saturday holy.” Sentinel, Pastor’s page, Saint Catherine Catholic Church, Algonac, Michigan, May 21, 1995

Shocking Lutheran Church Statements

Martin Luther, the prominent reformation leader and the instigator of the protestant movement, rejected the Catholic claim that the Sabbath was changed to Sunday. He goes as far as to say the Catholic Church’s power is so great they dispensed of the Sabbath day. It truly is paradoxical why Martin Luther continued to follow the mother Church in this grievous error, after making this intriguing comment:

“They [the Catholics] allege the Sabbath changed into Sunday, the Lord’s day, contrary to the Decalogue (10 commandments), as it appears, neither is there any example more boasted of than the changing of the Sabbath day. Great, say they, is the power and authority of the church, since it dispensed with one of the Ten Commandments.” -Augsburg Confession of Faith, Art. 28, par. 9.

“The Christians in the ancient church very soon distinguished the first day of the week, Sunday; however, not as a Sabbath, but as an assembly day of the church, to study the Word of G-d together, and to celebrate the ordinances one with another: without a shadow of doubt, this took place as early as the first part of the second century.”-Bishop GRIMELUND, “History of the Sabbath,” page 60

“The festival of Sunday, like all other festivals, was always only a human ordinance.”- AUGUSTUS NEANDER, “History of the Christian Religion and Church,” Vol. 1, page 186.

“We have seen how gradually the impression of the Jewish Sabbath faded from the mind of the Christian church, and how completely the newer thought underlying the observance of the first day took possession of the church. We have seen that the Christian of the first three centuries never confused one with the other, but for a time celebrated both.” The Sunday Problem, a study book by the Lutheran Church (1923) p.36

“But they err in teaching that Sunday has taken the place of the Old Testament Sabbath and therefore must be kept as the seventh day had to be kept by the children of Israel …. These churches err in their teaching, for scripture has in no way ordained the first day of the week in place of the Sabbath. There is simply no law in the New Testament to that effect” John Theodore Mueller, Sabbath or Sunday, pp.15, 16

Shocking Baptist Church Statements

“There was and is a command to keep holy the Sabbath day, but that Sabbath day was not Sunday. It will however be readily said, and with some show of triumph, that the Sabbath was transferred from the seventh to the first day of the week, with all its duties, privileges and sanctions. Earnestly desiring information on this subject, which I have studied for many years, I ask, where can the record of such a transaction be found: Not in the New Testament – absolutely not. There is no scriptural evidence of the change of the Sabbath institution from the seventh to the first day of the week.” Dr. E. T. Hiscox, author of the ‘Baptist Manual’.

“To me it seems unaccountable that Jesus, during three years’ discussion with His disciples, often conversing with them upon the Sabbath question, discussing it in some of its various aspects, freeing it from its false [Jewish traditional] glosses, never alluded to any transference of the day; also, that during the forty days of His resurrection life, no such thing was intimated. Nor, so far as we know, did the Spirit, which was given to bring to their remembrance all things whatsoever that He had said unto them, deal with this question. Nor yet did the inspired apostles, in preaching the gospel, founding churches, counseling and instructing those founded, discuss or approach the subject.

Of course I quite well know that Sunday did come into use in early Christian history as a religious day as we learn from the Christian Fathers and other sources. But what a pity that it comes branded with the mark of Paganism, and christened with the name of the sun-god, then adopted and sanctified by the Papal apostasy, and bequeathed as a sacred legacy to Protestantism.” Dr. E. T. Hiscox, report of his sermon at the Baptist Minister’s Convention, in ‘New York Examiner,’ November 16, 1893

“There was never any formal or authoritative change from the Jewish seventh-day Sabbath to the Christian first-day observance.” -WILLIAM OWEN CARVER, “The Lord’s Day in Our Day,” page 49.

“There is nothing in Scripture that requires us to keep Sunday rather than Saturday as a holy day.” Harold Lindsell (editor), Christianity Today, Nov. 5, 1976

Shocking Church of Christ Statements

“But we do not find any direct command from G-d, or instruction from the risen Christ, or admonition from the early apostles, that the first day is to be substituted for the seventh day Sabbath.” “Let us be clear on this point. Though to the Christian ‘that day, the first day of the week’ is the most memorable of all days … there is no command or warrant in the New Testament for observing it as a holy day.” “The Roman Church selected the first day of the week in honour of the resurrection of Christ. …” Bible Standard, May, 1916, Auckland, New Zealand.

“The first day of the week is commonly called the Sabbath. This is a mistake. The Sabbath of the Bible was the day just preceding the first day of the week. The first day of the week is never called the Sabbath anywhere in the entire Scriptures. It is also an error to talk about the change of the Sabbath. There never was any change of the Sabbath from Saturday to Sunday. There is not in any place in the Bible any intimation of such a change.”-“First-Day Observance,” pages 17, 19.

“It has reversed the fourth commandment by doing away with the Sabbath of G-d’s Word, and instituting Sunday as a holiday.” DR. N. SUMMERBELL, “History of the Christian Church,” Third Edition, page 4I5.

“… If the fourth command is binding upon us Gentiles by all means keep it. But let those who demand a strict observance of the Sabbath remember that the seventh day is the ONLY sabbath day commanded, and G-d never repealed that command. If you would keep the Sabbath, keep it; but Sunday is not the Sabbath. The argument of the ‘Seventh-day Adventists’ is on one point unassailable. It is the Seventh day not the first day that the command refers to.” G. Alridge, Editor, The Bible Standard, April, 1916.

Shocking Southern Baptist Church Statements

“The first four commandments set forth man’s obligations directly toward G-d…. But when we keep the first four commandments, we are likely to keep the other six. . . . The fourth commandment sets forth G-d’s claim on man’s time and thought…. The six days of labour and the rest on the Sabbath are to be maintained as a witness to G-d’s toil and rest in the creation. . . . No one of the ten words is of merely racial significance…. The Sabbath was established originally (long before Moses) in no special connection with the Hebrews, but as an institution for all mankind, in commemoration of G-d’s rest after the six days of creation. It was designed for all the descendants of Adam.”-Adult Quarterly, Southern Baptist Convention series, Aug. 15, 1937.

“The sacred name of the Seventh day is Sabbath. This fact is too clear to require argument [Exodus 20:10 quoted]… on this point the plain teaching of the Word has been admitted in all ages… Not once did the disciples apply the Sabbath law to the first day of the week, — that folly was left for a later age, nor did they pretend that the first day supplanted the seventh.” Joseph Hudson Taylor, ‘The Sabbatic Question’, p. 14-17, 41.

Shocking Protestant Episcopal Church Statement

“The day is now changed from the seventh to the first day… but as we meet with no Scriptural direction for the change, we may conclude it was done by the authority of the church.” ‘Explanation of Catechism’

Shocking Presbyterian Church Statements

“A further argument for the perpetuity of the Sabbath we have in Matthew 24:20, Pray ye that your flight be not in the winter neither on the Sabbath day. But the final destruction of Jerusalem was after the Christian dispensation was fully set up (AD 70). Yet it is plainly implied in these words of the Lord that even then Christians were bound to strict observation of the Sabbath.” Works of Jonathon Edwards, (Presby.) Vol. 4, p. 621.

“The Christian Sabbath (Sunday) is not in the Scriptures, and was not by the primitive church called the Sabbath.” Dwight’s Theology, Vol. 14, p. 401.

“G-d instituted the Sabbath at the creation of man, setting apart the seventh day for the purpose, and imposed its observance as a universal and perpetual moral obligation upon the race.” ­American Presbyterian Board of Publication, Tract No. 175.

“The observance of the seventh-day Sabbath did not cease till it was abolished after the [Roman] empire became Christian,” ­American Presbyterian Board of Publication, Tract No. 118.

“The Sabbath is a part of the Decalogue-the Ten Commandments. This alone for ever settles the question as to the perpetuity of the institution … Until, therefore, it can be shown that the whole moral law has been repealed, the Sabbath will stand…The teaching of Christ confirms the perpetuity of the Sabbath.”- T.C. BLAKE, D.D., “Theology Condensed,” pages 474, 475.

“There is no word, no hint in the New Testament about abstaining from work on Sunday. The observance of Ash Wednesday, or Lent, stands exactly on the same footing as the observance of Sunday. Into the rest of Sunday no Divine Law enters.” Canon Eyton, in The Ten Commandments.

“Some have tried to build the observance of Sunday upon Apostolic command, whereas the Apostles gave no command on the matter at all…. The truth is, so soon as we appeal to the litera scripta [literal writing] of the Bible, the Sabbatarians have the best of the argument.” The Christian at Work, April 19, 1883, and Jan. 1884

So the question remains for you, are you going to follow the Roman Catholic Church, who believes their power supersedes the word of Yahweh, or are you going to follow the word of Yahweh? Truth over tradition is the better choice.

Watch: “Sabbath or Sunday?” below.

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the sabbath day; the sabbath rest; is sabbath sunday; is sabbath saturday; should we rest on sunday

How to Honor the Sabbath Day

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Millions of people presume to worship the Heavenly Father on what they think is the Sabbath day, even while ignoring the part about resting from work.

Relatively few, however, have come to the truth of the true Sabbath day commanded in the Scriptures.  They completely miss the significance and impact of what the true seventh-day Sabbath means for True Worship.  Consider just this one fact: the word Sabbath appears 107 times in the Old Testament and a surprising 68 times in the New Testament. The “first day” of the week, however, is mentioned only eight times in the New Testament, and “Sunday” does not appear at all. This is a revealing indication about which day was observed then and is still commanded as the proper Sabbath for today.

Consider just this one fact: the word Sabbath appears 107 times in the Old Testament and a surprising 68 times in the New Testament. The “first day” of the week, however, is mentioned only eight times in the New Testament, and “Sunday” does not appear at all. This is a revealing indication about which day was observed then and is still commanded as the proper Sabbath for today.

No other biblical observance carries the weight and consequence as the seventh-day Sabbath. As we will see, the Sabbath identifies True Worshipers and separates them from nominal worship.  Maybe you have a desire to observe and honor the same Sabbath day Almighty Yahweh set apart and commanded for His people, as well as the same day your Savior observed, yet you are unsure exactly how to go about it. What should you do on the Sabbath and what is forbidden? Our intent here is to provide the scriptural guidelines of weekly Sabbath keeping, including the annual Sabbaths, so that you will be blessed in properly reverencing the day that Yahweh gave exclusively to His people.

The Sabbath is a day of rest, worship, fellowship, rejoicing, and meditation. As special days go, the Sabbaths have more profound implications than any other observances. For Yahweh’s people there is no more important a day than the Sabbaths because it is the link that identifies them with the Father, Exodus 31:17. It’s a day we escape the worldly cares and meditate on Yahweh’s Word.

From the beginning, Yahweh created and set aside the weekly Sabbath as a unique day to honor Him. “And on the seventh day Elohim ended his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made. And Elohim blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it: because that in it he had rested from all his work which Elohim created and made” (Genesis 2:2-3). Yahweh spent six days creating and restoring the heavens and the earth and then rested on the seventh day. When we rest on Yahweh’s Sabbath we are honoring Him by what He did Himself on the seventh day.

The Sign of True Worship

The weekly Sabbath, along with the annual Sabbaths (Feast of Unleavened Bread, Feast of Weeks, Feast of Trumpets, Day of Atonement, Feast of Tabernacles, and Last Great Day), is a sign between Yahweh and His people, Ezekiel 20:12.

The Sabbaths are the distinguishing mark of Yahweh’s chosen anciently and today. Yahweh said: “Speak also unto the children of Israel, saying, Verily my Sabbaths you shall keep: for it is a sign between me and you throughout your generations; that you may know that I am Yahweh that does sanctify you. You shall keep the Sabbath therefore; for it is holy unto you: every one that defiles it shall surely be put to death: for whosoever does any work therein, that soul shall be cut off from among his people” (Exodus 31:13-14).

It is important to recognize that no other command holds such profound significance, while evoking serious consequences for defilement.  In a similar way Yahweh’s Name is also unique. While the Sabbath is the sign of His people, Yahweh’s Name is the seal that will bind them in the Great Tribulation, Revelation 7:3, 14:1, 22:4. As with the Sabbath, there is no substitute for this seal. Yahweh has but one name, not many (Philippians 2:9).

A Day of Total Rest

The word Sabbath is from the Hebrew shabbath, which means, “to repose or to desist from exertion.” The Sabbath is, above all, a day of complete rest both from earning a living and from any activity that would cause physical exertion and draw us away from the purpose of this day. It is a day to be spent exclusively honoring Yahweh and His Son. Anything that detracts from this purpose should be avoided on the seventh day.

Our Father has given several specific regulations for His Sabbath. The Ten Commandments form a summary of Yahweh’s moral law, with the fourth one detailing specifically what Yahweh expects for the weekly Sabbath. He forbids His people from doing any work and to remember that it was He who blessed and sanctified this day for mankind by observing it Himself as our pattern for life. “Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to Yahweh your Elohim. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your manservant or maidservant, nor your animals, nor the alien within your gates. For in six days Yahweh made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore Yahweh blessed the Sabbath day and set it apart” (Exodus 20:8-11).

The Fourth Commandment sets the weekly Sabbath aside for the entire family to observe, including those under our authority, as in the case of an employee. Nobody in our household or within our borders is exempt from keeping the Sabbath, including the very animals that we own so that no horse or ox of ours is made to work on this day. A universal prohibition of work underscores the strict sanctity of the Sabbath.

Come Together on His Sabbaths

Yahweh strongly encourages that we congregate or assemble as a body of believers on His weekly and annual Sabbaths. “Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, Concerning the feasts of Yahweh, which you shall proclaim to be holy convocations, even these are my feasts. Six days shall work be done: but the seventh day is the Sabbath of rest, an holy convocation; you shall do no work therein: it is the Sabbath of Yahweh in all your dwellings” (Leviticus 23:2-3). “Convocation” is miqra in the Hebrew and means a calling together of an assembly.

We find in the New Testament that worship took place on the worship Yahweh on the weekly and annual Sabbath, Isaiah 66:23; Zechariah 14:16. Can we say, then, that the Sabbaths have no relevance today?

The Bible describes the Assembly as a united Body in Messiah. Describing the importance of this Body the Apostle Paul said that all parts were needed and essential to the benefit of all. By missing even the most insignificant member the body is unable to function to its full potential. For this reason, it is crucial that all the body of Messiah congregate during Yahweh’s weekly and annual Sabbaths.  The author of Hebrews reiterates this indispensable need for assembling during Yahweh’s Sabbaths. “Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as you see the day approaching” (Hebrews 10:25).

The final days will see increasing tribulation and we will need to rely more and more on true believers.

Cancel Cooking and Commerce

Besides Yahweh’s command to rest and worship on the Sabbath, there are several other statutes that regulate this day. One activity prohibited on the Sabbath is cooking or preparing food. “Tomorrow is to be a day of rest, a holy Sabbath to Yahweh. So bake what you want to bake and boil what you want to boil. Save whatever is left and keep it until morning” (Exodus 16:23).

The process of preparing the manna was quite involved in the Old Testament. “And the manna was as coriander seed and the color thereof as the color of bdellium. And the people went about, and gathered it, and ground it in mills, or beat it in a mortar, and baked it in pans, and made cakes of it: and the taste of it was as the taste of fresh oil” (Numbers 11:7-8).

To avoid the work-intensive process of preparing the manna, Yahweh commanded that the Israelites prepare twice the amount of manna on the sixth day. By doing so they were free to worship Yahweh on the seventh. Even though we don’t prepare manna and also enjoy modern, work-saving conveniences, we continue to observe this statute by preparing all cooked meals prior to the Sabbath. Foods can be reheated if necessary, but cooking or baking must be avoided. The prohibition on food preparation is somewhat more relaxed for the annual Sabbaths during the Feast of Unleavened Bread, Exodus 12:16.

A second prohibition is to abstain from buying and selling on the weekly and annual Sabbaths.

“When the peoples bring merchandise or grain to sell on the Sabbath, we will not buy from on the Sabbath or on any holy day…” (Nehemiah 10:31; see also 13:15-21).

Benjamin were released from Babylonian captivity by the Persians the Israelites continued life as if they were yet in Babylon. Under Nehemiah the Israelites were instructed not to buy or sell on the Sabbath. Nehemiah, through Yahweh’s inspiration, understood that the Sabbath was not a day of commerce but of worship and fellowship. This same concept applies to our day. The Sabbath for Yahweh’s people today continues to be a day of worship, fellowship, and escape from the world. A person cannot observe the Sabbath and still participate in the world and its activities because the world has no regard for this day and will continue to pollute it.

Fire Conditions Hazardous

A third Sabbath prohibition in Yahweh’s law is the kindling of fire: “Six days shall work be done, but on the seventh day there shall be to you a holy day, a Sabbath of rest to Yahweh: whosoever does work therein shall be put to death. You shall kindle no fire throughout your habitations upon the Sabbath day” (Exodus 35:2-3).

The precise interpretation of this passage is debated among biblical scholars. The word “kindle” is derived from the Hebrew ba’ar, a primitive root, meaning, “to kindle, i.e. consume…”   (Strong’s).  The Brown Driver and Briggs Hebrew Lexicon defines this word as, “to burn, to consume, to kindle, to be kindled.” Does this command refer only to the kindling or the starting of a fire or does it also include refueling the fire once lit and does it refer to all fires or those only for specific purposes?

The Keil and Delitzsch Commentary on the Old Testament states , “After the restoration of the covenant, Moses announced to the people the divine commands with reference to the holy place of the tabernacle which was to be built. He repeated first of all (vv. 1-3) the law of the Sabbath according to Ex. 31:13-17, and strengthened it by the announcement, that on the Sabbath no fire was to be kindled in their dwelling, because this rule was to be observed even in connection with the work to be done for the tabernacle,” note on Exodus 35:1-29.

Based on the fact that this command immediately precedes the building of the Tabernacle, some maintain that this prohibition refers only to fire for work on the tabernacle; however, based on the Hebrew and the limited context, this interpretation is uncertain.

The JPS Torah Commentary conveys the rabbinic interpretation, “The injunction is practically a verbatim repetition on 31:15, with an addition. The manner in which the prohibition against kindling fire on the Sabbath is worded led the rabbis of the Talmud to understand that fire may not be kindled on the Sabbath itself; however, fire lit before the Sabbath and not refueled on the Sabbath is permitted. The Jewish sectarians known as Karaites rejected the interpretation and spent a day in darkness….”

When offering an explanation for this command, it’s important to remember the spirit or intent of the Sabbath. The Sabbath is a day to abstain from work and physical exertion. For this reason, it’s likely that this command would include not only the actual kindling or starting of the fire, but the preparation for the fire. Once the fire is lit and assuming proper provisions were made by ensuring sufficient supply of fuel, keeping the fire lit by refueling would likely be permissible.  This and the previous requisites are inspired by Yahweh and serve to protect the purity and separateness of the Sabbath. Besides abstaining from work, the Sabbath is also a day of sober and unadulterated thought. “If thou turn away thy foot from the Sabbath, from doing thy pleasure on my holy day; and call the Sabbath a delight, the holy of Yahweh, honourable; and shalt honour him, not doing thine own ways, nor finding thine own pleasure, nor speaking thine own words” (Isaiah 58:13).

The Sabbath is a time to be spent focused on Yahweh and not a time to discuss the commonplace. This is a time to study and learn Yahweh’s Word. If Yahweh commands that a person refrain from commerce, pleasures, and work on the Sabbath, it follows that conversations involving these things should also be avoided. Our actions, thoughts, and discussions on the Sabbath should in some fashion reflect Yahweh and honor Him.

In addition to the weekly Sabbath, the annual Sabbaths provide for some unique requirements. In this next section we will explore each of the annual Sabbaths and provide the special conditions of each. For questions on the scriptural calendar, check out our free booklet: The Biblical Calendar

Passover

Even though the Passover is not a Sabbath, it’s a memorial that we’re to observe. It’s perhaps the most solemn of all days, as it represents the death of Yahshua the Messiah, our Savior. The Passover has several special observances, including the actual timing of the day.      This day is observed on the 14th day of Abib, the first biblical month, at evening. “…The timing of the word ‘evening’ has been a matter of debate for millennia. It is derived from the Hebrew phrase ben ha arbayim, which literally means, ‘between the two evenings.’ While rabbinical Judaism and Pharisaic and Talmudic tradition define ben ha arbayim as ‘between noon and sunset,’       this came about through a period of expansion over the centuries. The Sadducees, the Karaites, and the Samaritans define this phrase as between sunset and complete darkness. See Numbers 9:3-5, 11 and Leviticus 23:5. Based on scriptural evidence and modern scholarship, the latter interpretation is favored. According to The Interpreter’s Bible, the latter definition is the older of the two views: ‘The usage of the time referring to that after sunset and before darkness is the older practice’ (p. 919). This was also the same time as the evening sacrifice (Ex. 29:38-39),” Restoration Study Bible, note on Exodus 12:6 (for more information on ordering the Restoration Study Bible, visit http:// restorationstudybible.com).

Those who partook of the Passover in the Old Testament had to be physically circumcised, Exodus 12:44. Today, we fulfill this requirement by baptism into Yahshua’s Name. Paul in Colossians 2:1112 explains, “In whom also ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Messiah: Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of Yahweh, who hath raised him from the dead.” When we are immersed into Yahshua’s Name we are spiritually circumcised.

The Passover emblems of which Yahshua and His Apostles partook are also important to understand. Yahshua instructed His disciples in Matthew 26:26-28: “And as they were eating, Yahshua took bread, and blessed it, and brake it, and gave it to the disciples, and said, Take, eat; this is my body. And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Drink ye all of it; For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.”

The bread that Yahshua broke with His disciples, representing His body, was unleavened. This was in accordance with Old Testament law. “And they shall eat the flesh in that night, roast with fire, and unleavened bread; and with bitter herbs they shall eat it,” Exodus 12:8. Our Father specifically commands that we eat only unleavened bread with the Passover. Leavened bread, i.e., bread made with yeast, is forbidden with the Passover memorial.

The drink mentioned likely refers to grape juice. As we note in the Restoration Study Bible, “…The word ‘fruit’ comes from the Greek gennema and means ‘the fruit of the earth,’ referring to the pure blood of the grape (Deut. 32:14). According to the Dake’s Annotated Reference Bible, ‘there is no proof that it was fermented and intoxicating, for it is called “wine” while in the cluster (Isa. 65:8).’ Numerous verses speak of the winepress even though only grapes were put in it. In addition, the Old Testament prohibits all leavening from the Passover memorial (Ex. 12:18; Deut. 16:3), and wine has been fermented by yeast,” note on Luke 22:18.

Feast of Unleavened Bread

The Feast of Unleavened Bread begins on the15th day of Abib. It is seven days in duration with two holy convocations, a sacred meeting or fellowship, occurring on the first and seventh day, Leviticus 23:6-8. During this time Scripture commands that we remove all leavening from our homes. “Seven days shall ye eat unleavened bread; even the first day ye shall put away leaven out of your houses: for whosoever eateth leavened bread from the first day until the seventh day, that soul shall be cut off from Israel,” Exodus 12:15.

The word “leaven” here is derived from the Hebrew se’or and refers to a “…yeast-cake (as swelling by fermentation)” (Strong’s). Similarly, the phrase “leavened bread” comes from the Hebrew chamets, meaning, “ferment, (figuratively) extortion” (Strong’s). Since these words imply not only leavened bread, but fermentation through leavening or yeast, we’re to remove all forms of leavening from our homes.

What are these leavening forms or as they are often called, leavening agents? These are substances used in doughs and batters that cause them to rise. In the presence of moisture, heat, acidity, or other triggers the leavening agent reacts to produce gas (often carbon dioxide) that becomes trapped as bubbles within the dough. When a dough or batter is baked, it “sets” and the holes left by the gas bubbles remain. This is what gives breads, cakes, and other baked goods their soft, sponge-like textures. Common leavening agents include: baker’s yeast, active dried yeast, baking powder, baking soda, cream of tartar (potassium bitartrate), sourdough, ammonium carbonate, ammonium bicarbonate, potassium carbonate, potassium bicarbonate and dipotassium carbonate.

Since the first and last days are holy convocations, we’re also to abstain from work and commerce. While meal preparation is to be kept to a minimum, this Feast does allow for limited meal preparation: “And in the first day there shall be a holy convocation, and in the seventh day there shall be an holy convocation to you; no manner of work shall be done in them, save that which every man must eat, that only may be done of you,” Exodus 12:16. This allowance might have been the result of Israel’s rushed departure from among the Egyptians. As they did not have time to allow the dough to rise, they did not have adequate time to prepare meals for the multitude.

Feast of Weeks

The next Feast, the Feast of Weeks or as it’s often called, Pentecost, is a single day that is 50 days from when the priest would wave (i.e., side to side) the omer offering. It was the first fruits of the barley harvest presented to Yahweh on the Sunday during the Feast of Unleavened Bread.

Similar to its predecessor, this Feast is a holy convocation: “And ye shall proclaim on the selfsame day, that it may be an holy convocation unto you: ye shall do no servile work therein: it shall be a statute for ever in all your dwellings throughout your generations,” Leviticus 23:21. The word “servile” comes from the Hebrew abodah and means, “…work of any kind,” (Strong’s). As such, all work, including meal preparation, is to be avoided. Commerce is also restricted, Nehemiah 10:31.

Feast of Trumpets

The Feast of Trumpets is akin to the Feast of Weeks, as it too is a holy convocation: “Speak unto the children of Israel, saying, In the seventh month, in the first day of the month, shall ye have a sabbath, a memorial of blow- ing of trumpets, an holy convocation. Ye shall do no servile work therein: but ye shall offer an offering made by fire unto Yahweh,” Leviticus 23:24-25.  The word “Sabbath” here is from the Hebrew shabbathown. Strong’s defines this term as, “…a sabbatism or special holiday.” This word is different from the weekly Sabbath, which is from the Hebrew shabbath. While both words share the same root (i.e., shabath, meaning, “to repose or desist from exertion”), shabbathown seems to be slightly less restrictive. Gesenius calls it a great Sabbath.

Afflict the Heart on Atonement

The next Feast is the Day of Atonement or Yom Kippur. It falls on the tenth day of the seventh month. It contains two special requirements: “It shall be unto you a sabbath of rest, and ye shall afflict your souls: in the ninth day of the month at even, from even unto even, shall ye celebrate your sabbath,” Leviticus 23:32.

The first restriction is that this day is a strict Sabbath. The word Sabbath here is the same word used for the weekly Sabbath, illustrating the strict prohibition against work. This is the only annual Sabbath where shabbath is used to describe the day.

In addition to resting, we must also afflict our souls. Afflict refers to fasting, abstaining from food and drink from sunset to sunset, beginning on the tenth day and seventh month. According to The JPS Torah Commentary, “In biblical literature the idiom ‘innah nefesh always connotes fasting, as Ibn Ezra observed and as we may deduce from the context of Isaiah 58:3,10 and Psalms 35:13.” As well as to the above references, the Bible provides additional evidence that a true fast is one without food and drink.

  • “So the people  of Nineveh believed Elohim, and proclaimed a fast, and put on sackcloth, from the greatest of them even to the least of them. For word came unto the king of Nineveh, and he arose from his throne, and he laid his robe from him, and covered him with sackcloth, and sat in ashes. And he caused it to be proclaimed and published through Nineveh by the decree of the king and his nobles, saying, Let neither man nor beast, herd nor flock, taste any thing: let them not feed, nor drink water,” Jonah 3:5-7.
  • “Then Ezra rose up from before  the house of  Elohim, and  went into the chamber of Johanan the son of Eliashib: and when he came thither, he did eat no bread, nor drink water: for he mourned because of the transgression of them that had been carried away,” Ezra 10:6.
  • “And they said unto him, Why do the disciples of John fast often, and make prayers, and likewise the disciples of the Pharisees; but thine eat and drink?” Luke 5:33.
  • “And Saul arose from the earth; and when his eyes were opened, he saw no man: but they led him by the hand, and brought him into Damascus. And he was three days without sight, and neither did eat nor drink,” Acts 9:8-9.

In the New Testament, Atonement is simply called “the fast.” Acts 27:9 states, “Now when much time was spent, and when sailing was now dangerous, because the fast was now already past, Paul admonished them.” The word “fast” comes from the Greek nesteia and means, “…abstinence (from lack of food, and voluntary as a religious exercise); specifically, the fast of the Day of Atonement” (Strong’s).

Feast of Tabernacles

Akin to the Feast of Unleavened

Bread, this next Feast is also seven days in duration. It begins on the fifteen day of the seventh month and contains a holy convocation on the first day. Even though there’s only one holy convocation, Scripture commands that we attend and worship each day.

“Thou shalt observe the feast of tabernacles seven days, after that thou hast gathered in thy corn and thy wine: And thou shalt rejoice in thy feast, thou, and thy son, and thy daughter, and thy manservant, and thy maidservant, and the Levite, the stranger, and the fatherless, and the widow, that are within thy gates. Seven days shalt thou keep a solemn feast unto Yahweh thy Elohim in the place which Yahweh shall choose: because Yahweh thy Elohim shall bless thee in all thine increase, and in all the works of thine hands, therefore thou shalt surely rejoice,” Deuteronomy 16:13-16.

Not only are we to worship for all seven days, but we’re to worship with our entire family. Some claim that this Feast is for only the baptized men. This is not true. All believers are commanded to come out to worship Yahweh for all seven days where he places His Name, Deuteronomy 14:23.

In contrast to the other Feasts, during this time we are commanded to stay in booths. “Ye shall dwell in booths seven days; all that are Israelites born shall dwell in booths: That your generations may know that I made the children of Israel to dwell in booths, when I brought them out of the land of Egypt: I am Yahweh your Elohim,” Leviticus 23:42-43. This word “booths” comes from the Hebrew cukkah and according to Strong’s refers to a “hut or lair.” The Brown Driver and Briggs Hebrew Lexicon defines this term as, “a thicket, a covert, a booth.” In essence, the word “booth” refers to a temporary dwelling. Based on these definitions, we believe that a tent, cabin or any other temporary building is adequate. As such, we observe the Feast away from our homes, normally in a wilderness setting, as a memorial of Israel’s travels in the wilderness.

The Last Great Day

The Last Great Day or the eighth day immediately follows the Feast of Tabernacles, just as the Feast of Unleavened Bread follows the Passover. Scripture confirms that this day is a holy convocation: “…on the eighth day shall be an holy convocation unto you; and ye shall offer an offering made by fire unto Yahweh: it is a solemn assembly; and ye shall do no servile work therein,” Leviticus 23:36.

As explained earlier, a holy convocation is both a day that we are to congregate for worship and fellowship and to also abstain from labor. Since this follows the seven days of Tabernacles, most view this in connection with its predecessor. What makes this day special is that it brings an end to Yahweh’s annual Sabbaths.  This prophetically likely foreshadows the Great White Throne Judgment in Revelation 20:11-15, as explained in our booklet, Sabbath Keeping- Answering the Arguments.

New Testament Examples

Numerous New Testament passages illustrate that Yahshua and His Apostles honored Yahweh’s seventh-day and annual Sabbaths. The common belief that Yahshua annulled the seventh-day Sabbath to make room for the L-rds Day is missing from the New Testament.  In what is considered to be one of the greatest end-time prophecies, Yahshua made a reference to not profaning the Sabbath, referring to the Great Tribulation. “…But pray that your flight be not in the winter, neither on the Sabbath day” (Matt. 24:19-20). This statement by Yahshua confirms that He had no intentions to annul the Sabbath during or after his earthly ministry.

Further evidence for the seventh-day Sabbath can be found at the first recorded council of the early New Testament assembly. “For Moses of old time has in every city them that preach him, being read in the synagogues every Sabbath day” (Acts 15:21, KJV). This was more than ten years after Yahshua’s death on the stake, and yet the Apostles were advocating and observing the seventh-day Sabbath as well as the Law of Moses (called Moses’ law because he was the one through whom Yahweh transmitted the law to Israel, and also to us.)  Many consider the Apostle Paul to be the founder and champion of churchianity. The general perception is that Paul invalidated Old Testament laws and commandments, including the Sabbaths. However, several New Testament accounts provide evidence that he observed not only the Torah-prescribed holy days, but also the seventh-day Sabbath.

  • “And on the Sabbath we went out of the city by a river side, where prayer was wont to be made; and we sat down, and spake unto the women which resorted thither” (Acts 16:13).
  • “And Paul, as his manner was, went in unto them, and  three Sabbath days [three consecutive Sabbaths] reasoned with them out of the scriptures” (Acts 17:2).
  • “And he reasoned in the synagogue every Sabbath and persuaded the Jews and the Greeks” (Acts 18:4).

Also, in the Book of Hebrews the author confirms that the seventh day Sabbath continues to exist for Yahweh’s people. “There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of Elohim” (Heb. 4:9). This passage could not be more clear or obvious. It is plain from these passages that the seventh-day Sabbath is still commanded for Yahweh’s New Testament assemblies.

In addition to the weekly Sabbath, we find numerous instances where the annual Sabbaths were being observed in the New Testament:

  • “And because he saw it pleased the Jews, he proceeded further to take Peter also. And those were the days of unleavened bread” (Acts 12:3).
  • “And we sailed away from Philippi after the days of unleavened  bread ,  and came unto them to Troas in five days; where we abode seven days” (Acts 20:6).
  • “Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth” (1Cor. 5:6).
  • “And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place” (Acts 2:1).
  • “For Paul had determined to sail by Ephesus, because he would  not spend the time in Asia: for he hasted, if it were possible for him, to be at Jerusalem the day of Pentecost” (Acts 20:16).
  • “For I will  not see you now by  the  way; but I trust to tarry a while with you, if Yahweh permit. But I will tarry at Ephesus until Pentecost” (1Cor. 16:7-8).
  • “After these    things  Yahshua walked in Galilee: for he would  not walk in Jewry, because the Jews sought to kill him. Now the Jews’ feast of tabernacles was at hand… In the last day, that great day of the feast, Yahshua stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink” (John 7:1-2, 37).

Observance Continues in the Millennial Kingdom

Without a doubt the Sabbath was commanded and observed in the Old Testament. It can also be proved with little difficulty that Yahshua and His Apostles, including the Apostle Paul in the New Testament, observed the seventh-day Sabbath. To further substantiate the Sabbath command it can be shown that the weekly and annual Sabbaths will be observed by Yahshua and the saints in the Millennium.

  • “And it shall come to pass, that from one new moon to another, and from one Sabbath to another, shall all flesh come to worship before me, says Yahweh” (Isa. 66:23).
  • “Likewise the people  of  the land shall worship at the door of  this gate before Yahweh in the Sabbaths and in the new moons” (Ezek. 46:3).
  • “In the first month, in the fourteenth day of the month, ye shall have the Passover, a feast of seven days; unleavened bread shall be eaten…In the seventh month, in the fifteenth day of the month, shall he do the like in the feast of the seven days, according to the sin offering, according to the burnt offering, and according to the meat offering, and according to the oil” (Ezek. 45:21, 25).
  • “And it shall come to pass, that every one that is left of all the nations which came against Jerusalem shall even go up from year to year to worship the King, Yahweh of hosts, and to keep the feast of tabernacles. And it shall be, that whoso will not come up of all the families of the earth unto Jerusalem to worship the King, Yahweh of hosts, even upon them shall be no rain. And if the family of Egypt go not up, and come not, that have no rain; there shall be the plague, wherewith Yahweh will smite the heathen that come not up to keep the feast of tabernacles” (Zech. 14:16-18).

This last Scripture confirms that along with the weekly Sabbath that the annual Feasts will be mandatory for all nations, including Egypt. Those who willfully reject the Sabbath shall receive the plague of no rain. In the Kingdom, life will return to an agricultural society (Micah 4:3-4), which will make rain an essential part of everyday life. Those who reject Yahweh’s weekly and annual Sabbaths will pay a steep price for their open rebellion.

Follow Yahweh’s Own Lead

The Sabbath command is one of the most significant in Yahweh’s Word. Since He established it at creation by resting Himself this day (Gen. 2:2), Yahweh has ordained this day as a sign between Him and His people. The day is so important that Yahweh Himself observed it! He calls it a sign, and when we observe it correctly we reflect Yahweh in our lives and receive His blessings for obedience.

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lunar sabbath; lunar sabbath vs seventh day sabbath; moon sabbath

The Lunar Sabbath Illusion

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Biblical months are based on the moon, and they begin at the first appearance of the visible crescent new moon. Our word month even derives from the word moon, moon(th). But a surprising doctrine is taking hold among a few contending that the weekly Sabbath is also set by the new moon each month. It teaches that the weekly Sabbath day floats all over the week.

Once you recover from your utter disbelief at first hearing such a teaching, you entertain the possibility of trying to fit this lunar sabbath notion into Scripture. You quickly realize that no matter how you try to coax it, twist it or force it, establishing the weekly Sabbath by this method is impossible. It does violence both to historical fact and to Yahweh’s clear commands

Here is how the scheme works:

MP900444188[1]The new moon is considered like a sabbath — a day of no work. Every month begins with a new moon. The first work day is the second day of the count followed by 5 more work days. That gets you through the 7th day of the month (new moon  day plus 6 work days). The 8th day of the month is also the first weekly Sabbath of the month. Six more days of work gets you to the 15th as the next weekly Sabbath. Six more days of work and you come to the 3rd weekly Sabbath on the 22nd. Six more work days gets you to the 29th of the month, which is the last weekly Sabbath in the month. Then comes the next new moon, which is a not a work day but is a sabbath, but not a weekly Sabbath. Thus the weekly Sabbaths will always land on the 8th, 15th, 22nd, and 29th days of month. Some months will end with the weekly Sabbath on the 29th followed by the new moon  Sabbath the next day. More often, months will have an extra day or two between the last Sabbath and the next new moon day. Therefore you often have two or three Sabbaths or “non-work days” in a row before the new month begins.

As we will show, the new moon is not a day of rest or a sabbath. In addition, the word week derives from a Hebrew word meaning “sevened” (sheb-u-wah).  It is connected to a sequence of sevens, not to the new moon and not to more than seven. It begins with day one and ends with the seventh day, not the eighth day. Neither is “Sabbath” in any way linked etymologically to the word moon.

Falling on the 8th, 15th, 22nd and 29th day of each lunar month initiated by the new moon means the Sabbath would also fall about the time of the new moon, First Quarter, Full Moon, and Last Quarter. Most lunar sabbatarians do not consider the new moon day to be a day of the week, but rather a day of “no regular work.” The first day of the actual week for them comes on the second day of the lunar month, making the eighth day the first weekly Sabbath and not the seventh as Yahweh commands.

But dissension exists in the lunarian ranks because some lunar sabbatarians believe that the weekly Sabbath falls on the 7th, 14th, 21st and 28th days of the month.

Such details aside, the general thrust of this theory is that just by looking at the moon you are supposed to be able to tell when the weekly Sabbath occurs, always falling on specific lunar phases. That is the main point for this doctrine–to produce a heavenly marker to determine when the Sabbath occurs, instead of associating the Sabbath with Yahweh’s own example of rest as we are commanded, Exodus 20:11, 31:17. We will show the fallacy of the heavenly marker notion momentarily.

The scheme also means that the Sabbath floats around and can land on any day of the week each month. If the new moon falls on a Tuesday, the Sabbath will be on succeeding Tuesdays of that month. Then it will flip to another day of the week the next month when the Sabbath is “re-set” by the appearance of the new moon.

Consider the logistical nightmare for a moment. If you as a lunar sabbath follower have a regular job or are responsibly self-employed, you are continually taking off work to observe the Sabbath on different days of the week depending on the moon. Does Yahweh require playing musical chairs with the Sabbath and make earning a living nearly untenable for the vast majority of believers? Hardly. He is an Elohim of order and consistency, not confusion (1Corinthians 14:40, Malachi 3:6).

Many more difficulties than this, however, are presented by the lunar sabbath doctrine. As noted, when the end of the month comes it will typically have an extra day or two left over before the next new moon arrives. That’s because the month is 29.5 days from new moon to new moon and not four sevens (28 days).  These extra days don’t fit in anywhere. The Scriptures nowhere recognize them or address them. So what do you do with these leftover days?

Many lunar sabbatarians just ignore them. Others keep them as Sabbaths, meaning they observe an additional sabbath or two or three in a row. Try explaining that to your employer, or to Yahweh for that matter. The Fourth Commandment says to work six days and rest the seventh, which is the Sabbath, not Sabbaths. Scripture nowhere allows for or addresses multiple consecutive Sabbaths. No day can be added in and none can be ignored. All days must fit into the Fourth Commandment command of work for 6, rest the 7th.

Nothing in Yahweh’s Word says the moon has anything to do with the weekly Sabbath. Regardless, there are Herculean efforts to force the lunar sabbath teaching into the Scriptures. Some lunar proponents also say that the seventh-day Saturday Sabbath is pagan, and that even the universal weekly cycle is pagan in origin. They have a problem with the Sabbath falling on Saturn’s day (Saturday) but apparently have no issue at all when it falls on Sun’s Day, Moon’s Day, Tiw’s day, Woden’s Day, Thor’s Day or Frei’s Day (Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday—all honoring heathen deities). Which came first, Saturn’s-day or the seventh day? Man’s spin is irrelevant.

As with every teaching, to be true it must stand up to the scrutiny of the unadulterated Word of Yahweh. If not, it’s bogus. In that case we abandon the teaching.

MC900433135[1]Genesis 1:14: A Generic Proof Text

Genesis 1:14 is often cited to support a smorgasbord of calendar teachings, including a sunrise Sabbath doctrine and a solar-based, calculated calendar. Not to be left out, the lunar sabbatarians also seize on this Scripture as the preeminent proof for their doctrine. Because the passage is so general in its wording it can be applied to any number of anomalous teachings—a one-size-fits-all scripture.

Here is Genesis 1:14: “And Elohim said, Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years: And let them be for lights in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth: and it was so. And Elohim made two great lights; the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night: He made the stars also. And Elohim set them in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth, and to rule over the day and over the night, and to divide the light from the darkness: and Elohim saw that it was good. And the evening and the morning were the fourth day.”

Most lunar sabbatarians will make the following assumptions from this verse:

  • only the “lights in the heavens” determine the Sabbath, and
  • to determine the monthly cycle of Sabbaths requires the use of both heavenly lights—the sun and the moon.

In truth, what the passage does specifically tell us is that the sun is to mark the day and the moon is to rule the night and that Yahweh set the sun and moon in their orbits on the fourth day of creation. That is the end of the specifics. Asked how this passage directly links the moon with the Sabbath, the lunar sabbatarian begins a game of dodge ball. He must do that because nothing in this pericope links the moon and its phases directly to the weekly Sabbath. Incidentally, what role the stars play the lunar sabbatarian does not explain, giving only a selective interpretation to the passage.

Attempts at a Sabbath in the Sky

Lunar Sabbath proponents believe that the moon must be used to identify the Sabbath because the seventh-day Sabbath rhythm is not otherwise evident in nature. That is not entirely true. Science is finding a continuous, rhythmic, seven-day behavioral cycle built into both the plant and animal kingdoms. Even humans need a regular rest every seven days to maintain good physical and mental health.

Not even seasoned astronomers can simply look at just the moon’s phases and distinguish one day from another with 100 percent accuracy every time. Quarter phases can be confusing in their closeness. Because of such close resemblances in the moon’s appearance the average person would need technical training to determine the Sabbath. He would also need a lot of clear skies during each of those critical phases in order to get the Sabbath right.

When it comes to the Full Moon it gets really uncertain, with three or four consecutive moons every month all appearing full. Which one do you choose as the Sabbath moon? Note this from scientists: “Although Full Moon occurs each month at a specific date and time, the Moon’s disk may appear to be full for several nights in a row if it is clear. This is because the percentage of the Moon’s disk that appears illuminated changes very slowly around the time of Full Moon. The Moon may appear 100% illuminated only on the night closest to the time of exact Full Moon, but on the night before and night after will appear 97-99% illuminated; most people would not notice the difference. Even two days from Full Moon the Moon’s disk is 93-97% illuminated” (quotation from U.S. Naval Observatory).

But that’s not all. Every 2.7 years there are two full moons in a month, the second of which is known as the Blue Moon. So how would the average believer know when that will happen, not to mention decide which full moon is the correct one?

Now be honest: does Yahweh establish His weekly Sabbath amid all this uncertainty and confusion? He is not the author of confusion, 1Corinthins 14:33. Are His people supposed to be aware of and distinguish among all the anomalies and similarities in lunar appearances when they keep the day of rest? Do we need college degrees in astronomy to observe the right Sabbath holy? Does that sound like the design of a wise Creator who gives plain and simple laws for us to keep? What about David out tending his flocks in the field, did he know all of this? Or did he just need to know how to count to seven for the proper time to observe the Sabbath? Frankly, the lunar Sabbath scheme appears like the shenanigans of mythical Greek deities trying to frustrate their human subjects just for the fun of it.

The creation account in Genesis 2 plainly teaches that the weekly Sabbath cycle was not based on the heavenly luminaries but simply on the seven days in the original creation week put in perpetual motion by Yahweh:

“And on the seventh day Elohim ended his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made. And Elohim blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it: because that in it he had rested from all his work which Elohim created and made” (Gen. 2:2-3).  The reason the Sabbath is the Sabbath is not because of an association with the new moon and other lunar phases, but because Yahweh Himself blessed it and set it apart on the final day of creation week. No wonder He commands us to “remember” the Sabbath to keep it holy. We remember the original Sabbath He created by keeping it exactly as it has been passed down through the millennia. Man-made calendars may tweak the months, but the Sabbath continues in its cycle unchanged and unfazed by any calendar.

The Sabbath and its sequence in the week is the result of a direct action of Yahweh—originating entirely from His own personal rest on the seventh day. Because of His own activities the weekly Sabbath is directly tied to worship of Him following His own example. It is His day made for man. No wonder He says the Sabbath is the one sign identifying His people. “It is a sign between me and the children of Israel for ever: [now notice the special link:] for in six days Yahweh made heaven and earth, and on the seventh day he rested, and was refreshed,” Exodus 31:17.

Notice further that the “week” is not mentioned in Genesis 1:14. The reference is simply to “seasons” [moedim], “days,” and “years.” Clearly, Yahweh established the weekly cycle differently, basing it upon His own example of rest and not on what is seen or reasoned by man. Otherwise He would have included the word “weeks” in the list of things to be determined by the greater and lesser lights ofGenesis 1:14. Yet He did not—not in Genesis or anywhere else.

“But seasons means appointed times and the Sabbath is an appointed time,” will be the argument. That is correct. But where does this passage or any other specifically link the new moon to the weekly Sabbath? Nowhere but in the imagination of the lunar sabbatarian.

Is the New Moon Day a Sabbath of Rest?

Some say the new moon was a day of rest because David was to meet with the king at his table on the new moon, 1Samuel 25. They also say that sacrifices were offered on the new moon, Ezekiel 46:6, just as they were commanded on the Sabbath.

When does a meal with a king constitute a weekly Sabbath? Wouldn’t a Sabbath be indicated by a meeting with a priest at the temple? Neither do sacrifices in themselves prove a Sabbath, because there were sacrifices commanded every day, Numbers 29:6and Hebrews 7:27.

Was the new moon celebrated with rest in the same way as the Sabbath, as one branch of lunar sabbatarianism claims? If so, why does Yahweh command work on new moon days, and why do we find labor being done on new moon days?

Exodus 40:1, 2 and 17 reads: “And Yahweh spake unto Moses, saying, On the first day of the first month shall you set up the tabernacle of the tent of the congregation… And it came to pass in the first month in the second year, on the first day of the month, that the tabernacle was reared up.” (Read all of Exodus 40 to learn just how much work was done on the new moon day.)

If every new moon day is a Sabbath or a day of no work, why does Yahweh command Zerubbabel to gather wood and build the temple upon the first day of the month? (Haggai 1:1, 2, 8, 12).

If every new moon day is a Sabbath, why do we not find any command to rest upon it (with the exception of the Feast of Trumpets, which falls on the new moon of the 7th month)?  Shouldn’t we find it listed as a Sabbath among the appointed times of Leviticus 23? What explanation can be given to the fact that nowhere in Scripture is the command to cease from labor upon the new moon day, or upon the extra days that fall out each month?

Shabbat and Shabbatown: Different Kinds of Sabbath

Another contention by lunar sabbath proponents is that because the seven annual feast day Sabbaths are determined by counting from the new moon, so also should the weekly Sabbath be set by the moon because an annual Sabbath is no different from a weekly Sabbath.

Not so.  The word used for the weekly Sabbath (in Hebrew) is “shabbat” (7676) while the word behind the feast day Sabbath is “shabbatown” (7677). High-day Sabbaths are different from the weekly Sabbath. From Exodus 12:16 we learn that on the high day Sabbaths of Unleavened Bread, for instance, some work to prepare food is allowed “so that all may eat.” No such leeway is given for the weekly Sabbath.

The weekly Sabbath is a memorial to Yahweh’s creative act and His subsequent rest. He did not create high day Sabbaths by resting on them. To say the weekly Sabbath changes every month according to the cycles of the moon is to make the memorial to the creative rest of Yahweh into a memorial to the moon.

More Problems Using Genesis 1:14 

A key problem with the lunar sabbath doctrine is that events surrounding the creation of the moon in Genesis 1:14-16 did not take place until the 4th day. The week was more than half over by the time the moon was placed into orbit, so how can the moon establish the start of the week?

Never did Yahweh ever say He re-set the week after four creation days by utilizing the now-orbiting new moon. That is a critical piece of information we must have if we are to base Sabbath observance on the moon’s cycle as shown by Yahweh.

Attempting to be free of this difficulty, some lunar sabbatarians speculate that the moon was created in an advanced phase and that the Sabbath would be made to synchronize with it later on; others speculate that perhaps the moon was already in its orbit the first day of creation but was just hidden behind heavy mist. Or that Yahweh’s creation week and our week are different. To which we ask: where is the chapter and verse supporting these hypotheses? Genuine doctrine does not rest on supposes or maybes. There is not a shred of evidence in Scripture to support such assumptions.

Genesis 1 and 2 are crystal clear that Yahweh created the heavens and the earth in six days and then He rested on the seventh. Lunar sabbatarians ignore Yahweh’s rest on the seventh day and go solely with a Sabbath-setting lunar phase.

Mysterious Math

Failed Test ca. 2001

The count to the Feast of Weeks or Pentecost also reveals the error in the lunar sabbath teaching.  Not only must there always be exactly seven days every week in every month of Yahweh’s calendar (by Fourth Commandment authority), but the count to Pentecost must also be seven complete weeks of seven days each, all adding up to exactly 49 days.

Yahweh commanded, “And you shall count unto you from the morrow after the sabbath, from the day that you brought the sheaf of the wave offering; seven sabbaths shall be complete,” Leviticus 23:15. Pentecost means 50th.  It takes exactly 50 days to arrive at Pentecost—seven Sabbaths of precisely seven days each or 7 x 7 + 1 = 50. Partial weeks or extra days don’t compute.

Numbers 28:26 says the Feast of Firstfruits or Pentecost comes “after your weeks be out.” “Weeks” is the Hebrew shabua and literally means “sevened” not “lunared.” After your seven sevens are over and complete, then you observe the Feast of Weeks or Pentecost. The Bible, An American Translation by Goodspeed says, “…counting fifty days to the day following the seventh Sabbath, and then you shall present to Yahweh a grain-offering from the new crop.” The New English Bible says, “The day after the seventh Sabbath will make 50 days…”

You can’t have 7 Sabbaths totaling 51 or 52 days. Because you are spanning two months it is impossible to accomplish this as commanded when a new moon interferes with one of those weeks by adding extra days. You cannot get 7 Sabbaths to equal 49 days under the lunar sabbath scheme. This fact alone proves the lunar scheme bogus. One lunar sabbatarian claims that Pentecost is counted for seven weeks and then 50 days are added on top of that, making a combined 99 days. He has apparently never looked at the Hebrew behind the command.

We read in Leviticus 23:15-16: “And you shall count unto you from the morrow after the sabbath, from the day that you brought the sheaf of the wave offering; seven sabbaths shall be complete: Even unto the morrow after the seventh sabbath shall you number fifty days; and you shall offer a new meal offering unto Yahweh.” In the phrase “unto the morrow after the seventh sabbath,” the word “unto” is the Hebrew ad and means against or until. Therefore the count goes all the way up to, until, the seventh Sabbath. And the numbered count totals 50 days, not an additional 50 days.

Consider how the manna was regularly provided each week. When Israel was in the wilderness Exodus plainly teaches that the manna fell for six days, with a double portion falling on the sixth day because none would fall on the seventh-day Sabbath. This went on continuously for 40 years, Exodus 16:35.

Nothing is said about a big interruption of this weekly manna cycle every fourth week by a couple of additional days at the end of the month when the new moon  resets the week.

Nothing is said that Israel starved for a few days at the end of each month because of additional Sabbath days or “non-work” days added to the month. For those who count those extra days as non-days, did it mean that a quarter of the time Israel got not 6 but 7, 8 or 9 days of manna gathering? If so, where in the Word is it found?

To mention such a critically important lunar interruption in the 7-day week could not possibly have slipped Yahweh’s mind. It is inconceivable that He would not have warned Israel to prepare for it!  After all, He warned them to be sure to gather extra on the sixth day to make up for none on the weekly Sabbath. So why did He not tell them also to gather extra manna the sixth day to eat on the seventh, eighth and possibly ninth day at month’s end? Obviously no lunar-added days ever existed.

This monthly lunar disruption is found nowhere in the Word because the Sabbath cycle that began in Genesis continued unabated. No additional, interpolated days ever interfered with it.

MP900341714[1]New Testament Dynamites the Lunar Theory

When it comes to the proper Biblical calendar, we need go back no further in time than when our Savior walked this earth. Some proponents claim that the lunar sabbath was established in Genesis but was replaced by today’s continuous Sabbath cycle soon after the return of the Jews from Babylonian captivity.  Thus, lunar sabbatarians would have us believe that the remnant who returned to the land of Israel were keeping a false sabbath.

This would have been front-page news! Yet, not one word in Scripture about it.

The Sabbath set in motion by Yahweh continued to be in effect down to the first century, when Yahshua came in the flesh. We know that He came as one “under the law,” and that He never sinned (i.e., transgressed the law, 1Pet.2:22).We find Yahshua keeping the same Sabbath day holy as did His fellow Jews around Him (Matt 12:1-12; Mark 2:23-28;Mark 1:21; 3:1-4; 6:2; etc.). Yahshua never rebuked the Pharisees for keeping the wrong weekly sequence.

These Events in Yahshua’s Life Disprove Lunar Sabbaths

In John 7:37 it is recorded that on the “last great day” of the Feast of Tabernacles (a high Sabbath that always falls on the 22nd day of the month) Yahshua cried out, “If any man thirst, let him come unto Me, and drink!” In chronological sequence, John 8:1-2 says, “Yahshua went unto the mount of Olives. And early in the morning he came again into the temple, and all the people came unto him; and he sat down, and taught them.” So now it’s the 23rd day of the month.

Chapter 9 is a continuation of the events of that same day when he heals a man of blindness. We are told that this was the weekly Sabbath, the 23rd of the month, verse 14. But lunar sabbatarians say the lunar sabbath falls on either the 21st or 22nd. Either scheme violates this provable 23rd day Sabbath. (See John 7:37-38; 8:1-2, and John 9:1-3, 14, 16.)

Another math meltdown for the lunar sabbath scheme comes with Passover, which falls on the 14th of the month of Abib. Yahshua was laid in the tomb at the end of Passover day the 14th, just before sunset when the 15thstarted. He rose three days later (Matt. 12:40), making it the end of the 17th of Abib. He came out of the tomb just before sunset the weekly Sabbath because the two Marys found the tomb already empty at “the end of the Sabbath,” Matthew 28:1. Lunar sabbatarians say that the Sabbath must fall either on the 14th or 15th, but here on the most important week in all of human history the weekly Sabbath falls on the 17th.

Having no other response, some lunar advocates take issue with Matthew 12:40, saying Yahshua’s words about being in the “heart of the earth” for three days and three nights does not mean in the tomb. Yahshua, however, directly compared it to Jonah’s being three days in the fish’s belly.  And Jonah describes his experience this way: “And said, I cried by reason of mine affliction unto Yahweh, and he heard me; out of the belly of hell [sheol, grave] cried I, and thou heardest my voice. For you had cast me into the deep, in the midst [heart] of the seas; and the floods compassed me about:  all thy billows and thy waves passed over me,”Jonah 2:2-3. “Midst” means to be enclosed (Hebrew labab).  Jonah was encompassed about by water. Obviously Yahshua was enclosed by the tomb in the earth for three days just as Jonah was enclosed in the belly of the beast for three days.

Yahshua clinches it when He Himself “began to teach them, that the Son of man must suffer many things, and be rejected of the elders, and of the chief priests, and scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again,” Mark 8:31. See also John 2:19 and 21. Paul confirms it as well in 1Corinthians 15:3-4: “For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that the Messiah died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures.” Even the chief priests and Pharisees testify to Yahshua’s statement that after three days He would rise again,Matthew 27:63.

Furthermore, those who contend that the 14th of each month is a Sabbath of rest and no commerce must explain why this 14th day of the month of Abib is called in the New Testament a “preparation day” (which is Passover day, the day of preparation for the high Sabbath and not a Sabbath itself). This 14th day is a day of work and commerce, not a day of rest. See Mark 15:42-46;Luke 23:53-54; John 13:29.

Those who believe a switch to the universal Sabbath cycle came after the time of the Messiah and who believe the Jews (including Yahshua) were still keeping lunar sabbaths must explain why both Scripture and subsequent history show the contrary.

Pagan Participation

Throughout history men have instituted their own calendars for determining time. The Assyrians and Babylonians set up a weekly cycle based upon the moon—somewhat like the lunar sabbatarians of today.

The Babylonian calendar was lunisolar with years consisting of 12 months. Counting from the new moon of every month, the Babylonians celebrated every seventh day as a “holy-day,” also called an “evil day.” On every seventh day offerings were made to a different deity. Merodach and Ishtar on the 7th, Nergal and Ninlil on the 14th, Shamash and Sin on the 21st, and Enki and Mah on the 28th. Tablets from the sixth-century BC reigns of Cyrus the Great and his son Cambyses give validity to these dates. The Babylonian calendar had a lunation of 29 or 30 days, containing three seven-day weeks, and a final week of nine or ten days which ended the continuous seven-day cycle. The remarkable similarities with the Babylonian calendar give us great insight into the origin of this doctrine and its error.

Being idolaters, the Babylonians perverted the true Sabbath Yahweh instituted at creation. Such perversion has continued throughout Biblical history. Nimrod, the great-grandson of Noah and founder of Babylon, is one of the earliest examples. His perversions can still be seen today. InGenesis 10:10 we read the account of Nimrod: “And the beginning of his kingdom was Babel, and Erech, and Accad, and Calneh, in the land of Shinar.” Strong’s Concordance says that “Babel” or “Babylon” means confusion through a mixing. Ancient Babylon mixed truth with error, which is strongly condemned in the Word of Yahweh.

Lunar sabbatarians would have us believe that the pagans corrupted only the nature of Sabbath worship, not the actual weekly cycles supposedly based upon the moon. Ancient Babylonians worshiped the moon (“Asherah”) as part of their shabbatum veneration. This fact strongly suggests that they also perverted the weekly cycle to complement their devotion to the moon.

Again we ask, is there any place in Scripture saying that the weekly cycle is established by the sun or moon? If lunar sabbaths are truly based in Scripture, why would we have to search all over its pages with a magnifying glass to find even a hint of them? When something so simple as the continuous weekly cycle is made so complicated, then something is instinctively wrong. When a doctrine lacks scriptural evidence and must be explained with suppositions, human explanations and a host of forced or twisted Scripture, then it is always suspect.

Ha Satan is working with all power and lying wonders to deceive even the very elect (Matthew 24:24). His greatest desire is to cause those who are under “the sign of the covenant”— the Sabbath—to become confused about that “sign” and turn away from the covenant. If he cannot get them to keep Sunday in place of the true seventh-day Sabbath, then He will be satisfied just to have them turn to “floating sabbaths” as taught by lunar sabbatarians. Either way the true Sabbath is violated and the Adversary is pleased.

Scripture warns us of Babylon’s influence “And upon her forehead was a name written, mystery, Babylon the great, the mother of harlots and abominations of the earth,” Revelation 17.

The Start of the Modern Lunar Sabbath Doctrine

It has been suggested that a convicted felon, who wrote a book in 1998 popularizing the lunar Sabbath, was the catalyst for the spread of this doctrine. He was described by Nashville police as helping a juvenile “racist” in a synagogue shooting. The court documents also reveal he attended a meeting of white supremacists known for their antisemitism. Any exposure to this doctrine reveals a radical departure from the traditional way the Jews count the Sabbath as established by Yahweh at creation.

 Various Verses Vindicated

Here are common passages used by lunar sabbatarians equating the new moon day with the Sabbath.

Leviticus 23:2-4: Yahweh’s command for the seven annual Feasts is prefaced in verse 2 by the statement that these are the Feasts of Yahweh and holy convocations. Then He notes the weekly Sabbath in verse 3, placing the Sabbath equal in significance to the Feasts. Yet it is not one of the annual Feasts because verse 4 restates that these (meaning what is to follow) are the Feasts of Yahweh. Not being an annual Feast, the Sabbath is not set by the monthly new moon as are the annual Feasts.

Ps. 81:3: “Blow up the trumpet in the new moon, in the time appointed, on our solemn feast day.” The reference in Psalm 81:3 is to the Feast of Trumpets on the first of the seventh month, the only festival that falls on a new moon; the verse calls it a solemn feast day because it is Trumpets, not because it is a new moon. Other versions split the verse and speak of two different observances: the new moon and a separate feast day:
The Interlinear NIV Hebrew-English Old Testament
“Sound the ram’s horn at the New Moon, and when the moon is full, on the day of our Feast.”

New Living Translation
“Blow the ram’s horn at new moon, and again at full moon to call a festival!”

The New Jerusalem Bible
“Blow the trumpet for the new month, for the full moon, for our feast day!”

Psalm 104:19: “He appointed the moon for seasons: the sun knoweth his going down.”

“Seasons” is moedim, meaning fixed times, festivals. In His commands for the Feasts, Yahweh clearly gives the day of the month when they occur, such as Passover, Feast of Unleavened Bread, Tabernacles and the exact count to the Feast of Weeks. All are based on the start of the month and its new moon. But He never describes the weekly Sabbath as being so many days from the beginning of the month or new moon. The Sabbath link to the new moon is nonexistent.

Amos 8:5: “When will the new moon be gone, that we may sell corn? and the Sabbath, that we may set forth wheat, making the ephah small, and the shekel great, and falsifying the balances by deceit?”  Is this passage saying the new moon is a Sabbath with no commerce allowed? As shown, work on the new moon was prescribed by Yahweh and therefore the new moon cannot be a non-labor Sabbath. Amos 8:5 is likely speaking of the Feast of Trumpets, a Feast that is also a new moon day. On a Feast high day no work or commerce is to be performed.

Another possibility centers on the Hebrew. Because the Hebrew word translated “new moon” here (chodesh) can also mean “month,” some scholars (going back 2,000 years) have interpreted Amos as referring to a harvest month: Kimchi and Ben Melech interpret it of the month of harvest, when the poor found what to eat in the fields; when they gleaned there they got a sufficiency of bread, and so had no need to buy corn [Lev. 23:22]; and hence these rich misers, who hoarded up the grain, are represented as wishing the harvest month were over that they might sell their grain to the poor, having had no demand for it during that month.  (John Gill,Exposition of the Entire Bible, Amos 8:5 note) “Month” is how the Douay-Rheims version translates “new moon.”

Regarding sacrifices, if every new moon day is a Sabbath then we should find the command to make the Sabbath offering on new moon days as well. Yet, no such command is given (Numbers 28:1-15).

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pagan origins of halloween

Unmasking Halloween

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As Labor Day ends the world draws a bead on its major year-end holidays. The first of which is the strangest of all, Halloween. Candy and costume makers love it. Discount retailers make a huge “killing” on everything Halloween, their promotions driven by a lust for profits helping to keep the sinister observance near the top of the secular holiday charts.

Until recently it was mostly a childhood affair, but Halloween has grown up. Adults are joining the celebration by the droves as they head off to work dressed in adult-size costumes sporting red or green hair and painted faces, later in the evening they will paint the town red with costume parties. It seems that everyone is getting into the spirit.

But what spirit are they getting into? Is all of this just harmless fun? One look at the displays and costumes and it is clear that Halloween is in a contest with itself to be scarier and more sinister than ever. Murder and mayhem are the core themes, which prompts one to ask whether glorifying evil is wholesome and enriching to anyone, let alone innocent children. Consider the message being sent to children when society gives its sanction to the forces of darkness.

Then there is the rite of trick-or-treating, which introduces the twin ideas of threat and extortion to impressionable young minds.  The other side of “trick” is the “treat,” where children are encouraged to don the masks of the dark side for the questionable “reward” of massive quantities of unhealthy candies! It leads one to wonder – who is really getting tricked?

Real Fears and Superstitions

One must ask what Yahweh the Heavenly Father thinks of all of this. Can a Bible believer celebrate with a clear conscience an observance that revels in the occult and evil?

Halloween is an intensely superstitious observance deeply rooted in ancient Celtic mystery worship. It was originally the Druidic Feast of Samhain until the Roman church came along and morphed it into a holiday called “All Hallows Eve” or Halloween.

The Celts and their priests, the Druids, were nature worshipers who dreaded winter’s darkness. With the end of the harvest season and the approaching of winter, the Celts believed that the veil separating the living from the dead was at its thinnest on October 31, the last day of the Celtic year.

Enter the Many Spirits

These people believed all laws of space and time were suspended on this night, allowing the spirit world to intermingle with the living. On October 31 the disembodied spirits of all those who had died during the preceding year would come back in search of living bodies to possess for the next year. It was believed to be the spirits’ only hope for the afterlife.

Joining this mix were evil phantoms in the form of fairies revisiting the earth and tormented the living. The fairies were often considered hostile and dangerous to humans because they were thought to be resentful of human takeover of their lands. Consequently on this night they would sometimes trick people into becoming lost in fairy mounds where they would be trapped forever. There was great apprehension for other dangers as well. Crops were in jeopardy, babies could be stolen, farm animals killed, food and milk spoiled – all because of this open doorway for evil spirits. It was a frightening time for these ancients.

To protect themselves and prevent harm, the Celts would leave treats for the spirits outside their homes. The idea was that a spirit looking for a person to possess would be sidetracked by a bowl of fruit, nuts, and other treats. The spirit would then leave in peace. Spirits were believed to assume grotesque appearances this night. To avoid being recognized by them people would wear masks when they left their homes after dark so that the ghosts would mistake them for fellow spirits and not plague them. The trick-or-treat custom reflects this superstition.

Other Defensive Measures

Fire symbolized the power of the sun deity while it was believed that it offered protection against mischievous ghosts. Home fires were allowed to go out and be rekindled with protective sacred fires at the end of this, the pagan year.

Some believed spirits could be warded off by carving a grotesque face into a gourd or root vegetable like a turnip and placing a candle inside. Because ghosts and witches feared fire, the candle within the jack-o-lantern along with the scary face became a weapon against evil influences when placed in front of the home.

It was believed that witches used skulls on Halloween to communicate better with the dead. It was also believed that witches derived from black cats their power to invoke evil spirits. The Celts were particularly fearful of black cats because they thought the animals were originally humans who had been transformed by sinister powers.

Halloween an Occultic Synthesis

Since this night belonged neither to one year nor the other, Celtic peoples thought that chaos reigned, and so the masses would engage in horseplay and practical jokes. Hence we see some of the original “trick” in trick-or-treating.

Other ancient superstitions survive today. Ducking or bobbing for apples was a marriage divination. The first person to bite an apple would be the first to marry in the coming year. Apple peeling was a tool to predict how long your life would be. The longer you could make the apple peel come off unbroken, the longer your life was destined to be.

Why apples? In the course of the four hundred years that the Romans ruled Celtic lands, two festivals of Roman origin were combined with the traditional Celtic celebration of Samhain. The first was Feralia, a day in late October when the Romans traditionally commemorated the passing of the dead. The second was a day to honor Pomona, the Roman goddess of fruit and trees and whose symbol was the apple.

Yahweh’s true Holy Days revolve around three harvest times in the year. The Celts also had three harvests: August 1, or Lammas, was the first harvest when the first fruits were offered to the gods in thanks. The fall equinox coming in the third week of September was the “true harvest.”  This was when the bulk of the crops would be brought in. The third, Samhain at the end of October, was the final harvest of the year.

No one blended profane practices with their own beliefs more than the Roman Church, which typically baptized paganism in order to draw heathen converts into the fold. In 1000 C.E. this church would make November 2 All Souls’ Day and November 1 All Saints Day in honor of the dead. It was celebrated similarly to Samhain, with big bonfires, parades, and dressing up in costumes as saints, angels, and devils.  When Christianity spread through Europe the November 1 holiday was merged with All Saints’ Day, also called All Hallows’ Day. The evening before was referred to as All Hallows’ Evening or the contraction we know as Hallowe’en. Together, the three celebrations – the eve of All Saints’, All Saints’, and All Souls’– were called Hallowmass.

A Righteous Creator vs. the Unrighteous

Halloween is a holiday with a dark past that is only thinly masked by the addition of a few later traditions. What does Yahweh think about observing it? Is Halloween okay because “it’s just harmless fun for the children”– as if Yahweh sighs passively and says to Himself, “Oh well, let them have their fun reveling in ancient rites of the occult and deceived. I’ll just look the other way.” That is how many must reason if their consciences ever start to tug at them.

The masses just drift along letting society shape their personal beliefs and practices, not stopping to question anything the world observes but blindly joining in. Most have never tried to learn what Yahweh their Creator thinks about what they do and how they live out their lives, and Halloween is no exception.

Can we mix light with darkness? Is a little compromise with idolatry acceptable to a sovereign Heavenly Father? Will He reward such behavior?

In 1Corinthians 10:20-21 is a message for those who want it both ways, thinking that no harm is done so long as they give lip service to the Bible, too: “But I say, that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to devils, and not to Elohim: and I would not that you should have fellowship with devils. You cannot drink the cup of the Savior and the cup of devils: you cannot be partakers of the Savior’s table, and of the table of devils.”

If there is no Heavenly Father then it doesn’t matter one way or the other what we observe. But because there is a Mighty One who demands that we follow Him in complete Truth, then we have a problem with the world’s days rooted in ancient mystery practices that glorify the dark side as well as the Evil One himself.

Imagine Yahweh giving a passive nod as He sees all kinds of symbols of witchcraft being pandered to and glorified at Halloween. Imagine this in light of Exodus 22:18, where He thunders in His law: “You shall not suffer a witch to live.”

Or consider what we find in Deuteronomy 18:10-14: “There shall not be found among you any one that makes his son or his daughter to pass through the fire, or that uses divination, or an observer of times, or an enchanter, or a witch, or a charmer, or a consulter with familiar spirits, or a wizard, or a necromancer. For all that do these things are an abomination unto Yahweh: and because of these abominations Yahweh your Elohim does drive them out from before you. You shall be perfect with Yahweh your Elohim. For these nations, which you shall possess, hearkened unto observers of times, and unto diviners: but as for you, Yahweh your Elohim has not suffered [allowed] you so to do.”

Participating in the practices of rank heathens as one does in the observance of Halloween is expressly forbidden in the Scriptures. Read Deuteronomy 12:29-32: “When Yahweh your Elohim shall cut off the nations from before you, whither you go to possess them, and you succeed them, and dwell in their land; Take heed to yourself that you be not snared by following them, after that they be destroyed from before you; and that you enquire not after their gods, saying, How did these nations serve their gods? even so will I do likewise. You shall not do so unto Yahweh your Elohim: for every abomination to Yahweh, which he hates, have they done unto their gods; for even their sons and their daughters they have burnt in the fire to their gods. What thing soever I command you, observe to do it: you shall not add thereto, nor diminish from it.”

How can a True Worshiper allow his son or daughter to dress up like a witch or warlock, knowing that Yahweh condemns witchcraft? In 1Thessalonians 5:22 we are told to avoid even the appearance of evil. Halloween celebrates and revels in a vast array of evil appearances! And is it any wonder that all this glorification of evilness is a nighttime activity? In John 3:19-20 Yahshua said that evil loves the darkness.

One of the biggest problems of Old Testament Israel was their inability to keep their worship pure. The Apostle Paul in1Corinthians 10:6 tells us that their experiences are an example for us “that we should not lust after evil things as they also lusted.” Yahweh does not accept compromise with any other belief system, let alone practices that spring from the darkness of rank heathen religion and superstition.

Trying to put a positive spin on Halloween, the chorus of the world will say, “Oh, come on, Halloween is just harmless fun. How can you deprive the children?”

Keep in mind that what children practice they also learn from. How can a parent seek to promote healthy, wholesome values in a child who is allowed to don masks of vile creatures or deformed humans with the underlying theme of murder, mayhem and evil? Should a caring parent wanting to teach truth to his or her child introduce that child to sinister, pagan falsehoods that Yahweh repeatedly condemns?

 Nothing But the Truth

As we have seen, a Bible believer cannot follow Truth while dabbling in the exact opposite and still be acceptable to the True Father.Jeremiah 10:2 says very clearly, “Learn not the way of the heathen.”

The sincere worshiper can’t live a lie.  Halloween is filled with lies born in the depths of rank ignorance in one of history’s most pagan and superstitious cultures. In fact, virtually all of the world’s major holidays revel in lies, from Santa and Rudolph of Xmas customs to Easter’s egg-laying bunny.

The true man and woman of Yahweh must make conscious, deliberate choices. The true faith is not a passive banality that just goes along with whatever society does.

In 2Corinthians 6:14-18 we are admonished to separate from all forms of evil and darkness. “Be not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship has righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion has light with darkness? And what concord has Messiah with Belial? or what part has he that believes with an infidel? And what agreement has the temple of Elohim with idols? for you are the temple of the living Elohim; as Elohim has said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their Elohim, and they shall be my people. Wherefore come out from among them, and be separate, says Yahweh, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, And will be a Father unto you, and you shall be my sons and daughters, says Yahweh Almighty.”

One of the biggest mistakes Israel made upon entering the Promised Land was in not completely removing the false worship they found there. Our fallen natures have an attraction for what is wrong and sinful. It takes conscious, proactive efforts to overcome it. Wickedness pulls at us like a magnet drawing iron. We constantly struggle with iniquity.

Why are most children attracted to horror movies? What is it that draws the human spirit to the dark side? It’s a natural human attraction. And it is this pull, this desire that could lead to sin, that carnal human beings must overcome daily. Jeremiah 17:9 says about the natural man, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?  I Yahweh search the heart, I try the reins, even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings.”

Why continue being involved in the abominable, which your Creator hates and condemns? Where’s the reward in keeping dead-end holidays? Begin pleasing Him and start reaping the blessings! Let the world have its fruitless, empty observances. Say with the patriarch Joshua, “As for me and my family, we will serve Yahweh.”

Resolve today to observe with Yahweh’s true saints the inspired holy days commanded in the Word. If you do that you will be most richly blessed when the Messiah Yahshua returns to reward those few truly faithful who followed a different path – one that leads to life everlasting.

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December 25 birthday of the sun god Sol Invictus

December 25- Birthday of the Sun

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The Christmas super-holiday is the standard for popular observances today. Families will gather on December 25, gorge themselves on ham and turkey, stare at a decorated tree while a swooning Bing provides the ambience, and exchange billions of dollars in gifts, many of them unwanted. A crescendo of months of retailer hype will climax on one grand day of the Savior’s supposed birth.

But hold on. Amid the bells and booze, frolicking elves and fruitcake, many sense that something isn’t right. If Christmas is a celebration of the birth of the Savior at Bethlehem, who came to bring peace on earth and good will toward men, why isn’t there more peace and good will in our world? With so many millions observing this holiday, should not our world be changing for the better with each celebration? Is this not what a “religious” observance is supposed to accomplish?

Maybe the problem is simply that people fail to catch and hold the “spirit”of Christmas. Or could the holiday itself be flawed? Why do so many people sense an emptiness at this time of year, a major letdown amid the torn gift-wrapping and crushed ribbon bows

Where’s the Scriptural Christmas?

Christmas, after all, is supposed to be rooted in the Bible. It is assumed to honor the birth of the Savior of men in a manger at Bethlehem. (Its name is a contraction for “Christ’s Mass.”) But the overblown rites of Santa Claus, tinsel, Rudolph, gift exchanging, and football mostly obscure any religious overtones of the observance.

A revealing survey would be to poll frantic Christmas shoppers to find out how many know the origins of Christmas. Do YOU know what Christmas is all about? Are you mildly amused each year with newspaper and magazine articles detailing the strange, irreverent customs of Christmas? On the other hand, maybe you have found these facts somewhat troubling. Isn’t it time you honestly investigated the matter? If Christmas is that significant – the biggest holiday of the year demanding a great deal of your time and money – shouldn’t you at least know what it is actually all about? This is especially serious considering the religious flavor of Christmas. The Creator in heaven may just have a definite opinion about the observance of this holiday that you need to discover.

Do you observe Christmas because you believe it is in the Bible? Try as you might, you will not find a hint of Christmas anywhere in the Scriptures. There is neither a call to observe it nor an example where anyone in the Bible did so. Shocking? Millions are oblivious to this simple fact. As one authority puts it, “There is no historical evidence that our [Savior’s] birthday was celebrated during the apostolic or early post-apostolic times,” Christmas, p. 47, The New Schaff-Herzog Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge. Another writer makes this astounding statement: “The day was not one of the early feasts of the Christian church. In fact the observance of birthdays was condemned as a heathen custom repugnant to Christians,” The American Book of Days, by George W. Douglas.

What a revealing statement! The single most important religious holiday observed today in Christianity would have been FORBIDDEN in early New Testament times. Many historians and Biblical scholars corroborate this fact. Now read a candid admission from the New Catholic Encyclopedia, “Inexplicable though it seems, the date of the [Messiah’s] birth is not known. The Gospels indicate neither the day nor the month,” vol. 3, p. 656. And the Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature says, “The fathers of the first three centuries do not speak of any special observance of the nativity. No corresponding festival was presented by the Old Testament … the day and month of the birth of [the Messiah] are nowhere stated in the Gospel history, and cannot be certainly determined,” Christmas, p. 276.

If Christmas is as popular and pervasive a religious holiday as retail sales indicate, why isn’t it found anywhere in the Bible? Why aren’t we told the month – let alone the day – of  the Savior’s birth?

“But what about the manger scene with shepherds and wise men?” you ask. Yes, the manger is described in the Bible, but it was never provided as a focus for the continued observance of the birthday of the Savior. Shepherds came to the manger, but the wise men visited a house up to two years later. Here’s the account of these wise men, right from Matthew 2:11, “And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary [Miriam] his mother, and fell down and worshiped Him.”

And then there is the timing. Usually during Christmas plays someone will read the account in Luke 2:8: “And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.” Is this describing a cold December scene? According to Jeremiah 36:22, December is wintry in the Holy Land, cold and rainy, and on occasion snow covers the ground (see Daily Life in the Time of Jesus by Henri Daniel-Rops).

Luke, however, says that sheep were still in the open fields. This had to be BEFORE the cold winter rains and snows began to fall. The livestock had not yet been moved to shelters. Notice: “It was a custom among Jews to send out their sheep to the deserts about the Passover [early spring], and bring them home at the commencement of the first rain” (Clarke’s Commentary by Adam Clarke, vol. 3, p. 370). Clarke says the first rain commences in October or November. He adds, “As these shepherds had not yet brought home their flocks, it is a presumptive argument that October had not yet commenced, and that, consequently, our Savior was not born on the 25th of December, when no flocks were out in the fields …the [Bible says] flocks were still in the fields by night. On this very ground the nativity in December should be given up.”

Another indication that the Savior was born in the fall rather than in winter is the fact that Caesar Augustus had declared a census or tax be made of the empire, and each citizen had to report to his hometown to register, Luke 2:1-5. Ordering the people of the empire to travel great distances in the dead of winter would have surely incited a revolt, at least among the Jews in the Holy Land. No right-minded Roman emperor would have requested such a thing. He more likely would have called a census in early fall after the crops were harvested and the people had money and time to travel before bad winter weather set in.

Various prophetic Scriptures indicate that Yahshua the Messiah was born at the time of the fall Feast of Tabernacles. That may have been one reason that the inn was full when Joseph came to Bethlehem, as the city had swelled with Feast observers.

Sun (Not Son) Worship            

If Christmas is not in the Bible, where did it come from? The answer is found in every encyclopedia and in many newspapers or magazines appearing around December 25. What they say about the roots of Christmas should shock every honest Bible believer into taking a serious look at the annual observance and what it REALLY celebrates.

Christmas Historians do not hide the fact that Christmas was an invention of the Roman church, designed to compete with the heathen Roman feast of Saturnalia in honor of the sun deity Mithras. Mithras bore remarkable similarity to the Biblical Messiah. The Mithraic feast, like Christmas, was celebrated to commemorate his birth.                

Notice the remarkable parallels, as detailed by Joscelyn Godwin, professor at Colgate University. He writes that Mithras was “the creator and orderer of the universe, hence a manifestation of the creative Logos or Word. Seeing mankind afflicted by Ahriman, the cosmic power of darkness, he incarnated on earth. His birth on 25 December was witnessed by shepherds. After many deeds he held a last supper with his disciples and returned to heaven. At the end of the world he will come again to judge resurrected mankind and after the last battle, victorious over evil, he will lead the chosen ones through a river of fire to a blessed immortality,” Mystery Religions in the Ancient World, p. 99. Godwin remarks, “No wonder the early Christians were disturbed by a deity who bore so close a resemblance to their own, and no wonder they considered him a mockery of [the Messiah] invented by Satan.”

These two popular movements were vying for dominance in the Roman Empire – one being  pagan sun worship, the other Christian. Historian and archaeologist Ernest Renan once wrote, “If Christianity had been halted in its growth by some mortal illness, the world would have been Mithraist” (Marc Aurele, p. 597). Caught in the middle were the Roman emperors, who wanted to unify and solidify their diverse empire. They didn’t need divisive religious factions. For political reasons, the Roman rulership saw great advantage in synchronizing and harmonizing these religious beliefs into one.

So today, much of what is accepted as Bible-based tradition is the direct result of compromising and mixing with heathen religion. Roman Emperor Constantine, a former pagan himself, gave the most significant push to the Christian-pagan blending of teachings like Christmas. Among other things, he would decree that worship for Christianity switch from the seventh day Sabbath to the first day of the week – Sun-day – the day superstitious heathens worshiped the sun.  “On the venerable day of the Sun let the magistrates and people residing in cities rest, and let all workshops be closed” (Codex Justinianus lib. 3, tit. 12, 3; trans. in Philip Schaff, History of the Christian Church, Vol. 3, p. 380, note 1).

“This tendency on the part of Christians to meet Paganism half-way was very early developed,” says Alexander Hislop in The Two Babylons, p. 93. Interestingly, Hislop notes that the pagans gave up precious little of their own beliefs and practices. “And we find Tertullian, even in his day, about the year 230, bitterly lamenting the inconsistency of the disciples of [Messiah] in this respect, and contrasting it with the strict fidelity of the Pagans to their own superstition.”                                                        

Hislop quotes Tertullian, the most ancient of the Latin church fathers whose works are extant, as he decries the early church observances: “By us who are strangers to Sabbaths and new moons, and festivals, once acceptable to [Yahweh], the Saturnalia, the feasts of January, the Brumalia, and Matronalia are now frequented; gifts are carried to and fro, new year’s day presents are made with din, and sports and banquets are celebrated with uproar.”

Why a Death Celebration Honoring a Birth?

A mass is a celebration of the Eucharist or the emblems of the death of the Savior. Yet, “Christ-mass” is an observance supposedly in honor of His birth. Why? The answer is found with the secular ancients. Mithras was known as the Sun Deity. His birthday, Natalis solis invicti, means “birthday of the invincible sun.” It came on December 25, at the time of the winter solstice when the sun began its journey northward again. Pagan peoples were overly concerned with life and fertility. They saw life fading in the darkness of winter and so held festivals in honor of and to beckon back the sun to give life and light to the earth once more. The Dictionary of the Middle Ages explains how a funeral mass came to be celebrated as the supposed birthday of the Savior:

“In patristic thought [the Messiah] had traditionally been associated with light or the sun, and the cult of the Sol invictus, sanctioned as it was by the Roman emperors since the late third century, presented a distinct threat to Christianity. Hence, to compete with this celebration the Roman church instituted a feast for the nativity of [the Messiah], who was called the Sol iustitiae …. Usually when Christians celebrated the natalis of a saint or martyr, it was his death or heavenly nativity, but in this case natalis was assigned to be [the Messiah’s]
earthly birth, in direct competition with the pagan natalis,” pp. 317-318. (That is, it was to compete with the birthday of Mithras.) So confused were some about what or whom they were worshiping that Pope Leo I (440-461) chastised Christians who on Christmas celebrated the birth of the sun deity!

The sun cult was particularly strong at Rome about the time Christmas enters the historical picture, according to the New Catholic Encyclopedia. “The Feast is first mentioned at the head of the Depositio Martyrum in the Roman Chronograph of 354. Since the Depositio was composed in 336, Christmas in Rome can be dated that far at least. It is not found, however, in the lists of Feasts given by Tertullian and Origen,” vol. 3, p. 656.

Where did Mithraism come from, this Roman religion that venerated the sun deity and influenced Christianity so greatly? Kenneth Scott Latourette in A History of Christianity, traces Mithraism to the mystery religions of Egypt, Syria, and Persia. “Almost all the mystery cults eventually made their way to Rome,” he notes. “They were secret in many of their ceremonies and their members were under oath not to reveal their esoteric rites. Numbers of them centered about a savior-god who had died and had risen again. As the cults spread within the Empire they copied from one another in the easy-going syncretism which characterized much of the religious life of that realm and age,” pp. 24-25.

Nimrod: The Grandfather of Paganism

Clearly, Christmas as the observance of the Savior’s birth did not come into existence immediately. It was not observed for at least three centuries after His birth.  But Christmas as a pagan holiday traces back thousands of years to a man named Nimrod, founder of ancient pagan Babylon. Forefather to Mithras, Nimrod began a counterfeit religion in the Book of Genesis that was to compete with the True Faith of the Bible in every conceivable way down through the centuries. The Bible refers to it as the religion of Mystery Babylon — the mother of false religion that will be destroyed when the Savior Yahshua comes to set up His throne on earth,Revelation 18. Babylon’s false worship is found today in some aspect in nearly all religions, including churchianity.

The Madonna and child theme, which is universal or evident in hundreds of religions down through the centuries, had its origin in Babylon. Nimrod was so full of evil, it is said he married his own mother, who’s name was Semiramis. Semiramis was the first deified queen of Babylon. She is also known variously as Diana, Aphrodite, Astarte, Rhea, and Venus. Her son was Tammuz, also called Bacchus, Adonis, and Osiris. He was the supposed reincarnated Nimrod. He came back to life when the dead yule log was cast into the fire and the evergreen tree appeared as the slain king-deity reborn at the winter solstice (The Two Babylons, p. 98). The similarities with Biblical elements found among pagan religions is not simply coincidence. It is the design of the Adversary to sidetrack seekers of truth into believing they are worshiping Scripturally.

According to legend when Nimrod died Semiramis, Nimrod’s mother-wife, made the proclamation that Nimrod was not just a carnal human being but was actually deity. The account states that she saw a full grown evergreen tree growing out of the roots of a dead stump. This supposedly symbolized Nimrod reborn. On the anniversary of his rebirth (the time of the winter solstice, December 25), Semiramis proclaimed that Nimrod would visit the evergreen tree and leave gifts under it. (More about the Christmas tree below under the heading: “They Worshiped Trees.”)

Saturnalia – Forerunner of Modern Christmas

Tammuz, the Babylonian sun deity, was the first counterfeit savior. Yahweh in Ezekiel 8:14-18 condemns ancient Israel for adopting worship of Tammuz, which included sun worship and the asherah (phallic symbol).

“Then he brought me to the door of the gate of Yahweh’s house which was toward the north; and behold, there sat women weeping for Tammuz. Then said he unto me, Hast thou seen this, O son of man? turn thee yet again, and thou shalt see greater abominations than these. And he brought me into the inner court of Yahweh’s house, and, behold, at the door of the temple of Yahweh, between the porch and the altar, were about five and twenty men, with their backs toward the temple of Yahweh, and their faces toward the east; and they worshiped the sun toward the east. Then he said unto me, Hast thou seen this, O son of man? Is it a light thing to the house of Judah that they commit the abominations which they commit here? for they have filled the land with violence, and have returned to provoke me to anger: and, lo, they put the branch [asherah] to their nose. Therefore will I also deal in fury: mine eye shall not spare, neither will I have pity: and though they cry in mine ears with a loud voice, yet will I not hear them.”

Elements of this worship are still found in today’s Christmas rites. The Romans worshiped Tammuz as the sun deity Mithras in a special observance called the Saturnalia. The Saturnalia was named for Saturn, otherwise known as Cronus. Cronus is an alias for Tammuz. His wife and mother was Rhea (Semiramis). The Saturnalia, therefore, was just another observance for Tammuz, the Babylonian, counterfeit redeemer. The Romans kept the Saturnalia in December, at the time of the winter solstice, in honor of the returning sun. The festival lasted seven days. “All classes exchanged gifts, the commonest being waxed tapers and clay dolls,” says the Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition.

Legend has it that the Saturnalia was instituted by Romulus under the name Brumalia (from bruma, rneaning winter solstice),Britannica, p. 232. “The pagan Saturnalia and Brumalia were too deeply entrenched in popular custom to be set aside by Christian influence,” notes the New Schaff-Herzog Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge, p. 48.

And so the church established the birthday of the Savior to coincide with the heathen feast day. “…the Latin Church, supreme in power, and infallible in judgement, placed it on the 25th of December, the very day on which the ancient Romans celebrated the feast of their goddess Bruma. Pope Julius I was the person who made this alteration” (Clarke’s Commentary).

This fact is supported by the New International Dictionary of the Christian Church, p. 223: “December 25 was the date of the Roman pagan festival inaugurated in 274 as the birthday of the unconquered sun which at the winter solstice begins again to show an increase in light. Sometime before 336 the Church in Rome, unable to stamp out this pagan festival, spiritualized it as the Feast of the Nativity of the Sun of Righteousness.” Hislop observes, “That Christmas was originally a Pagan festival, is beyond all doubt. The time of the year, and the ceremonies with which it is still celebrated, prove its origin,” The Two Babylons, p. 93.

This blending of observances only served to confuse worshipers. By the middle of the fifth century, Pope Leo the Great rebuked his over-cautious flock for paying reverence to the Sun on the steps of St. Peter’s before turning their backs on it to worship inside the westward-facing basilica. Even some bishops, like Troy, continued to pray to the sun. He eventually went back to sun worship entirely (from The Early Church, by Henry Chadwick).

Protestants Object to Christmas

As the Roman Empire grew and as merchants traveled, the customs of Christmas spread also. Cultures in northern Europe contributed some of their own traditions, or twists on some unbiblical themes, nearly all of which had a basis in Babylonian paganism. The decorated tree, St. Nick, yule log, wreaths, cookies, berries, mistletoe, bonfires, roast goose, roast pig, wassailing, caroling, and other familiar fixtures were added or embellished for the Christmas-Saturnalia in various countries.

When the Protestant movement attempted to rid itself of the excesses and sins of Roman Catholicism, there also came an opposition to Christmas that almost obliterated it entirely in England. “In England, for example, the Puritans could not tolerate this celebrating for which there was no biblical sanction. Consequently, the Roundhead Parliament of 1643 outlawed the feasts of Christmas, Easter, Whit-suntide, along with the saints’ days,” Celebrations, p. 312.

In 1644 the English Parliament outlawed the holiday, compelling shops to be open that day and condemning plum puddings and mince pies as “heathen.” It was condemned for its pagan roots by the Baptists, the Puritans, the Quakers, the Amish, the Methodists and the Presbyterians.

The fact that Christmas was not looked upon with any kind of legitimacy in early America is evident by the fact that Congress sat in session on December 25, 1789, the country’s first Christmas under the new constitution. Christmas wasn’t declared a federal holiday until June 26, 1870.

In 1659 under Puritan influence a law was passed in Massachusetts to punish anyone who “…is found observing, by abstinence from labor, feasting, or any other way, any such days as Christmas day, shall pay for every such offense five shillings.”

For a period of 12 years the staunch Puritans kept the shackles on Christmas, making it an ordinary day of business and even a day of fasting. Yet “with the Restoration in 1660 the citizens reclaimed Christmas, but it was a different festival from what it had been. The religious aspects were often neglected, with the result that the secularization of the holiday was well under way,” ibid.

In America, strong religious antagonism to the feast of Christmas lasted from 1620 to 1750 – 130 years! In 1776 General George Washington surprise-attacked the German Hessians on December 25, winning a critical Revolutionary War battle by defeating the Christmas-celebrating, drunken German mercenaries. Obviously, Christmas was not an important celebration for the father of our country!

Henry Ward Beecher, clergyman and lecturer, wrote in 1874 of his boyhood in New England, “To me Christmas is a foreign day, and I shall die so. When I was a boy I wondered what Christmas was. I knew there was such a time, because we had an Episcopal church in our town, and I saw them dressing it with evergreens, and wondered what they were taking the woods in church for; but I got no satisfactory explanation. A little later I understood it was a Romish institution, kept up by the Romish Church.” Eventually the major Protestant denominations accepted Christmas, “although they reacted violently against the corruption of the Christkindl, the Christ Child, into ’Kriss Kringle,’ ” Celebrations, pp. 315-316.

Thanks for the Memories?

Can anyone who sincerely seeks to worship in purity and truth continue practicing a legacy from rank Mystery worship?

“But Christmas gives so many memories,” some may argue. “What’s so wrong with giving the children happiness and joy at this time of the year?” From a purely human standpoint, probably nothing. If Christmas existed apart from a Creator who has very clear expectations for worship, then no harm would be done to celebrate it.

Christmas, however, is a religious holiday as well as a secular observance. Its pagan rites Almighty Yahweh outright and forcefully condemns in the Scriptures. Because of that fact alone we must heed when He thunders, “Learn not the way of the heathen!”Jeremiah 10:2.  Nor is it acceptable to the Father in heaven to take only what seems to be properly religious about Christmas and downplay the pagan attributes.

Those seeking True Worship cannot mix the holy with the profane. Paul writes, 14: “Be not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?2Corinthians 6:14. We simply cannot pretend to be worshiping in truth while partaking in pagan worship rites that the Bible condemns.

What About Ol’ Saint Nick?

Where did the jolly fat man known variously as Santa Claus, Father Christmas, Kris Kringle or Saint Nicholas come from? Santa as children affectionately call him derived from the Dutch figure Sinterklaas.

Sinterklaas is a traditional winter holiday figure in Aruba, Belgium, and the Netherlands. The Sinterklaas feast celebrates the birth of Saint Nicholas on December 6. He was an early Christian Bishop of Myra in Asia Minor (now Demre) who lived from 280 to 342 CE.  In the 11th century, Nicholas’ bones were moved to southern Italy, an area then controlled by Spain. His fame spread throughout Europe. In the north of France he became the patron saint of school children, then mostly in church schools.

The folk feast arose during the Middle Ages. In early traditions students elected one of them as “bishop” on St. Nicholas Day, who would rule until December 28 (Innocents Day). They sometimes acted out events from the bishop’s life. As the festival moved to city streets, it became more lively.

Sinterklaas was assisted by many mischievous helpers with dark faces and colorful Moorish dresses, dating back two centuries. These helpers are called ‘Zwarte Pieten’ (Black Petes). During the Middle Ages Zwarte Piet was a name for the devil. Having triumphed over evil, it was said that on Saint Nicholas eve the devil was shackled and made his slave.

Interestingly the term “Old Nick” that was commonly used for Santa Claus has the meaning of Lucifer or Satan in old English. The World English Dictionary says: “Old Nick—a jocular name for Satan.” The Cambridge Dictionary entry says: “Old Nick—the Devil—the main evil spirit in the Christian religion.”

Numerous parallels have been drawn between Santa Claus and the figure of Odin, a major god among the Germanic peoples. Odin was sometimes recorded at the native Germanic holiday of Yule as leading a great hunting party through the sky.

Two books from Iceland—the Poetic Edda, compiled in the 13th century from earlier sources, and the Prose Edda, written in the 13th century by Snorri Sturluson, describe Odin as riding an eight-legged horse named Sleipnir that could leap great distances, giving rise to comparisons to Santa Claus’ reindeer. Further, Odin was referred to by many names in Skaldic poetry, some of which describe his appearance or functions. These include Síðgrani, Síðskeggr, Langbarðr (all meaning “long beard”) and Jólnir (“Yule figure”).

According to Phyllis Siefker the author of Santa Claus, Last of the Wild Men, children would place their boots filled with sugar, carrots or straw, near the chimney for Odin’s flying horse, Sleipnir, to eat. Odin would then reward those children for their kindness by replacing Sleipnir’s food with gifts or candy. This practice survived in Germany, Belgium, and the Netherlands after the adoption of Christianity and became associated with Saint Nicholas as a result of the process of Christianization and can be still seen in the modern practice of the hanging of stockings at the chimney in some homes.

During the Protestant Reformation, the St. Nicholas image was nearly banished permanently to the North Pole. Taking his place was a more secular figure known as Christmas Man, Father Christmas, or Pope Noel. The Dutch clung tenaciously to St. Nick, however, and although his religious attributes died, the profane ones brought by the new Santa live on in the confused minds of youngsters everywhere.

When the Pennsylvania Dutch came to America in the eighteenth century they brought with them the custom of the Christkindl. This “Christ Child” supposedly brought gifts for children on Christmas eve, riding a mule loaded with presents. His name was changed by the English settlers to Kriss Kringle. The notion of his North Pole home was contrived through Scandinavian or Russian tales about north-dwelling wizards.

While Saint Nicholas was originally portrayed wearing bishop’s robes, the modern Santa Claus is depicted as a plump, jolly, bushy, white-bearded man wearing a red coat with white collar and cuffs, white-cuffed red trousers, and black leather belt and boots. This image became popular in the United States and Canada in the 19th century partly because of the significant influence of caricaturist and political cartoonist Thomas Nast.

When we tell our children lies about the existence of fantasies like Santa Claus, we introduce them at an early, impressionable age to the sin of deception. That is inexcusable. Not only do we mislead them into believing myths, but by doing so we also shut out the true Giver of blessings, Almighty Yahweh. Proverbs 22:6 says, “Train up a child into the way he should go,” not in the way of traditions that replace the truth. Santa is an insidious, captivating counterfeit (See Rev. 1:13-16; Dan. 7:9).

They Worshiped Trees

Space prohibits us from detailing all of the customs of Christmas and their origins in the mystery religions of ancient peoples, but the Christmas tree deserves special note because of its prominent role.

In Old Testament times an indispensable part of Baal worship involved the asherah, a sacred tree stem or pole (from which we get the May pole and totem pole). The asherah was a carryover of even more ancient tree worship. These asherah were used by the Canaanites in what the King James Version calls “groves.” Typically asherah sites included an altar and a stone pillar (a survivor of even older stone-worship).

Some historians believe asherahs were connected with phallic worship. “At first [asherah] may have been living trees (Deut. 16:21), but in later usage were wooden poles, perhaps erected to represent a tree,” Eerdman’s Bible Dictionury, p. 93. Rather than condemn and destroy this rite of Canaanite Baal worship that they found in the Promised Land, the Israelites, as was their custom, chose instead to indulge in it. And because of that Almighty Yahweh allowed Israel to be taken into captivity and nearly destroyed. Read2Kings 17:9-11.

The “green tree” is mentioned 13 times in Scripture and in every instance it is linked with idolatry! Can we find much difference between idolizing trees anciently and  adoration of Christmas trees today? Notice what the prophet Jeremiah wrote in connection with tree-idol worship: “Thus says Yahweh, learn not the way of the heathen … for the customs of the people are vain: for one cutteth a tree out of the forest, the work of the hands of the workman, with the axe. They deck it with silver and with gold; they fasten it with nails and with hammers, that it move not. They are upright as the palm tree, but speak not: they must needs be borne, because they cannot go …” Jeremiah 10:2-5.

Although based in mystery worship, the modern Christmas tree traces to Europe. “…Tree worship is well attested for all the great European families of the Aryan stock. Amongst the Celts the oak-worship of the Druids is familiar to everyone. Sacred groves were common among the ancient Germans, and tree-worship is hardly extinct among their descendants at the present day” (The Golden Bough, p. 58).

The ancients were very concerned about the dead vegetation in December and the waning of the sun. Fir trees were always green, symbolic of life, and to the ancients represented immortality in a dead world. They were often set on fire to portray and beckon back the sun, hence the modern practice of stringing trees with Christmas lights and round bulbs and balls. Ultimately, the Christmas evergreen springs from that old Babylonian, Nimrod. It represents the resurrected and reincarnated man-deity. “Now the Yule Log is the dead stock of Nimrod, deified as the sun-god, but cut down by his enemies; the Christmas tree is Nimrod redivivus – the slain god come to life again,” The Two Babylons. p. 98. He was reborn as his son Tammuz.

Yule (from huel meaning wheel) was a Germanic and Celtic sunfeast in the period December-January which became absorbed into Christmas. It commemorated the turn of the sun and the lengthening of the day.  The Christmas tree wasn’t found in America until 1821, brought by the Pennsylvania Germans. Christmas itself wasn’t recognized until 1836, when Alabama became the first state to make it a legal holiday.

Virtually every Christmas custom is connected with some man-made rite or heathen tradition with little to do with the Bible.

The Right Alternative: True Bible Holy Days

In the final analysis, how could Almighty Yahweh expect His people to observe Christmas, which is so thoroughly steeped in heathen ritual? He kept the month as well as the day of the Savior’s birth hidden. The answer is obvious and clear – He never wanted it to be observed! If He did, He would have told us when and how it was to be kept, just as He did for those days He commanded in His Word.

Clearly, if Christmas were commanded in the Bible, few would be observing it – as opposed to the vast millions around the world who indulge in this ritual today. That should be proof enough that Christmas is not Scriptural. What Yahweh commands, man ignores; what He prohibits, man indulges in.

Once we are enlightened to the truth of Christmas, we find the holiday not only distasteful but totally unacceptable to Yahweh. Israel was condemned for sun worship in Ezekiel 8. Similar rites based in sun and fertility worship come alive each December 25.

Now that you know the truth, you must make a decision. Do I continue keeping a nonBiblical observance that Yahweh condemns? Or do I start honoring the very days He commands in His Word for all True Worshipers?

His seven annual Feasts are found in Leviticus 23, the only “holidays” sanctioned in the Scriptures. These Feasts were kept by Israel, the patriarchs, the Messiah and His apostles, and will be kept worldwide in the  coming Kingdom (see Isa. 66:2-3, Ezek. 45,Zech. 14:16-18). The choice is yours, and so is the promise of salvation for all who obey and follow the Truth.

Did you know….

Christmas tree sales in the U.S. make a huge business. Acording to the National Christmas Tree Association consumers purchased 28.2 million farm grown Christmas trees in 2009 with an average cost of $40.92 dollars a tree. The total revenue was 1.15 billion dollars. NCTA estimated that Christmas tree farms in North America planted about 41 million new tree seedlings in the winter/spring of 2010 to replace harvested crops and meet future increased demand. As a side note, it is estimated that in 2007 Americans spent $66 billion on gifts during Christmas.

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A key question that must be asked before we delve into the book is: if Paul were in the process of abolishing all Old Testament law in his epistle to the Galatians, why did he not inform the other assemblies of this monumental, history-making disclosure? Why in his other letters like Hebrews and Romans does he contradict the notion that the law is obsolete? In passages like Romans 3:31 he gives 100 percent support for the law: “Do we then make void the law through faith? Elohim forbid: yea, we establish the law.” He writes in Hebrews 8 that the law is to be in our hearts. And in Acts 24:14 he offers this plain and clear position statement: “But this I confess unto you, that after the way which they call heresy, so worship I the Elohim of my fathers, believing all things which are written in the law and in the prophets.”

Galatians Unveiled

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Without a doubt the most misinterpreted book in all of the Bible is Shaul’s (Paul’s) letter to the Galatians. It has been hailed as the Magna Carta of Christian freedom, with “freedom” meaning freedom from Biblical law.

Through the centuries Protestants have erroneously assumed that this book eradicated all Old Testament laws, even though Paul contradicts that notion in the book itself and in other books he wrote to other assemblies. To understand this letter correctly it is paramount that we know the reason that Paul was writing to these people of central Turkey known as the Galatians.

When we read New Testament letters like Romans, Corinthians, Ephesians, and Galatians, we are reading personal mail. There was a reason Paul wrote each of these letters and it was primarily to resolve problems endemic to the respective groups.

Why Not Tell the Other Assemblies Also?

A key question that must be asked before we delve into the book is: if Paul were in the process of abolishing all Old Testament law in his epistle to the Galatians, why did he not inform the other assemblies of this monumental, history-making disclosure? Why in his other letters like Hebrews and Romans does he contradict the notion that the law is obsolete?

In passages like Romans 3:31 he gives 100 percent support for the law: “Do we then make void the law through faith? Elohim forbid: yea, we establish the law.” He writes in Hebrews 8 that the law is to be in our hearts. And in Acts 24:14 he offers this plain and clear position statement: “But this I confess unto you, that after the way which they call heresy, so worship I the Elohim of my fathers, believing all things which are written in the law and in the prophets.”

Some of his statements had been mistaken by Jews in his day and thought to be heretical, yet he assured them (and us) that he was not against the law or prophets (Old Testament). On the contrary, he was a lawkeeper himself. In Acts 25:7-8 he stood before those falsely accusing him, “And when he was come, the Jews which came down from Jerusalem stood round about, and laid many and grievous complaints against Paul, which they could not prove. While he answered for himself, ‘Neither against the law of the Jews, neither against the temple, nor yet against Caesar, have I offended any thing at all.’”

In Acts 21:24 Paul was told to prove to the doubting Jews that he was still law observant by taking part in purification rites: “Them take, and purify yourself with them, and be at charges with them, that they may shave their heads: and all may know that those things, whereof they were informed concerning you, are nothing; but that you yourself also walk orderly, and keep the law.”

Truth Comes with Obedience

Some may ask, how can we presume to know the truth of Galatians if clerics have been debating the book for centuries? One advantage the True Worshiper has is that he comes properly prepared. Psalm 111:10 says, “The fear of Yahweh is the beginning of wisdom: a good understanding have all they that do his commandments.” Those who are obedient to His laws will have a proper understanding of Yahweh’s Word, while the reverse is also true: those who snub His commandments will be misled when it comes to His truths.

Paradoxically, those who argue against obedience are arguing against proper understanding itself and therefore are working at cross purposes to truth, according to Psalm 111:10. His Spirit teaches us of His ways, Ezekiel 36:26-27. If you truly desire to know truth you need His Spirit, and that means obedience to the law because the Spirit is given specifically to those who obey, Acts 5:32. If you want to understand the Scriptures correctly, seek out a teacher who obeys the commandments and you will be much more likely to hear the truth. The requirement of a true prophet is to teach Yahweh’s commandments, according to Deuteronomy 13. Proper teaching does not reject the law either; on the contrary, the law is central to right instruction.

Five Problematic Areas in the Epistle

Let’s focus on the controversial passages in the Book of Galatians. There are five areas in Galatians that are usually used in an effort say that the law is no longer necessary under the New Covenant.

Notice first in 1:11-12 that Paul authenticates his own teachings by explaining that they were given not by man but by Yahshua Himself. Some reject his writings as uninspired, but here the apostle himself verifies their authenticity, which is something you don’t find in other books of the Bible — self-certification! For him to believe it was necessary to authenticate His letter Paul must have anticipated some misconceptions about what he was teaching.

We come to the first area of contention in chapter 2.

Galatians 2:16: “Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Yahshua the Messiah, even we have believed in Yahshua the Messiah, that we might be justified by the faith of Messiah, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.” This verse seems to contradict what Paul says about justification and the law inRomans 2:13: “For not the hearers of the law are just before Elohim, but the doers of the law shall be justified.” Is Paul confused or is the translation vague?

An understanding of the Greek clears up the mystery and sets forth a remarkable truth that corrects mainstream doctrine. An understanding of the Greek helps: “A man is not justified by (Greek ek — out of) works of law but [ean me, except] through faith in Messiah.” The Greek Emphatic Diaglott literally reads, “And knowing that a man is not justified by works of law, except on account of Faith of Messiah Yahshua.”

This verse goes to the whole issue of whether one can be justified by works. Paul says it can’t be done outside the context of faith in Yahshua. As important as works are to salvation, they must go hand-in-hand with faith. Far from negating works, Paul confirms them. It is our works that will determine our judgment and rewards, Revelation 22:12.

2:17-18: “But if, while we seek to be justified by Messiah, we ourselves also are found sinners, is therefore Messiah the minister of sin? Elohim forbid. For if I build again the things which I destroyed, I make myself a transgressor.” Once we commit our lives to Yahweh we must not return to sin. But if we do sin it is not Yahshua advocating it, Paul says. Note that in Paul’s discussion sin is still possible. In 1John 3:4 sin is defined as the transgression of the law — so the law is obviously still in effect. Romans 7:7 says we would not know sin except by the law.

Verse 19: “For I through the law am dead to the law, that I might live unto Elohim.” By being law-observant, we are dead to the law, meaning free from the law’s penalties through obedience. Paul is simply saying that if I am a law-abiding citizen I have no fear of going to jail for such violations as stealing or killing. Being law abiding I don’t fall under that punishment. Note that this condition of being “dead to the law” comes “through the law” itself and not from an abolished law.

Verse 20: “I am impaled with Messiah: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Messiah lives in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of Elohim, who loved me, and gave himself for me.” Yahshua living in us brings about true righteousness of character and conduct as we put to death our old ways of sinful lawlessness.

This is not a vicarious “righteousness of Messiah” imputed to us. The traditional, mainstream claim is that Yahshua kept the law for you because you can’t keep it yourself. That notion contradicts the many Scriptures in the New Testament that command us to obey the laws of Yahweh. The Dake Annotated Reference Bible (KJV) lists some 1,050 commands and laws operating in the New Testament. Yahshua died for us but He doesn’t live for us, He lives in us. With Him in us, we can obey.

Chapter 3’s Puzzling Passages

Gal. 3:10: “For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse: for it is written, Cursed is every one that continues not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them.” This is an indictment of the Jews of Paul’s day who were keeping the law solely for justification purposes, including sacrifices and circumcision. Following a lot of do’s and don’ts cannot lead to justification apart from Yahshua. The law by itself cannot justify you. Without faith in Yahshua seeking justification by law alone is futile (v. 11).

12: “And the law is not of faith: but, the man that does them shall live in them.” The Twentieth Century New Testament (TCNT)translates the passage: “But the Law is not based on faith; no, its words are —‘Those who practice these precepts will find Life through them.’”

13-14: “Messiah has redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangs on a tree: That the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Yahshua the Messiah; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.” The TCNT renders it clearer than the King James, “[Messiah] ransomed us from the curse pronounced in the law…” Yahshua paid the death penalty that the law imposes for disobedience (“the curse”), and He opened the way through the New Covenant for gentiles to have the covenant blessings as well.

15: “Brethren, I speak after the manner of men; Though it be but a man’s covenant, yet if it be confirmed, no man disannuls, or adds thereto.” Paul explains that once even a human covenant is made, you can’t add to it or take from it. You can’t pile on more requirements beyond what you agreed to. This is what the Jews were trying to do in Galatia with their added, man-made ritual law.

16-18: “Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He says not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to your seed, which is Messiah. And this I say, that the covenant, that was confirmed before of Yahweh in Messiah, the law, which was four hundred and thirty years after, cannot disannul, that it should make the promise of none effect. For if the inheritance be of the law, it is no more of promise: but Elohim gave it to Abraham by promise.” Yahweh made a covenant with Abraham that involved Abraham’s seed, referring to Yahshua. And that covenant did not originate from the law but by special promise.                                                                       

19: “Wherefore then serves the law? It was added because of transgressions, till the seed should come to whom the promise was made; and it was ordained by angels in the hand of a mediator.” The traditional view says that the law that was added was the whole package of Old Testament laws, including the Ten Commandments. Yahshua came to end those laws, many believe, except perhaps those repeated in the New Testament.

The word “added” here does not mean to add a new  arrangement as it does in verse 15 (Greek word epidiatassomai). “Added” in verse 19 (prosthemi) means to put alongside or join with. Why is this significant?

In verse 29 Paul says that the covenant made with Abraham was a promise that did not hinge on the law, or else it would be by works — something Abraham could possibly achieve on his own. Abraham was already law-observant, and that is one reason Yahweh chose to make a covenant with him, Genesis 26:5. Now when Yahweh extended the covenant to Israel the law was placed alongside the covenant as central to the covenant’s conditions (Deut. 4:31).

Israel was not obedient as Abraham and therefore they needed the details of the law included in their covenant with Yahweh. The law served as a guide for them to ensure that they knew what transgression was and what Yahweh expected.

3:21-25: “Is the law then against the promises of Yahweh? Yahweh forbid: for if there had been a law given which could have given life, verily righteousness should have been by the law. But the scripture has concluded all under sin, that the promise by faith of Yahshua the Messiah might be given to them that believe.  Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Messiah, that we might be justified by faith. But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster.”

The Old Covenant is superseded today by the New Covenant, Hebrews 9, but that does not mean the laws are replaced also. The law is not the covenant; the law represents only the terms of the covenant. The terms of the New Covenant still involve obedience to the law, with the law written in our hearts and minds just as it was supposed to be with Israel, Hebrews 8:10; Deuteronomy 6:6;30:11-14. The trouble was, Israel’s hearts were hard and they resisted obedience as some do today.

“Schoolmaster” in Greek is paidagogos and refers to a trustworthy slave who had charge of the boys in a family, guiding them in their formative years into making right choices. Once the youths matured they would make their own decisions guided by what they had been taught in childhood and therefore no longer needed a schoolmaster constantly prodding them. The law is our guide in the same way. Once mature in Messiah we no longer need the constant reminding of the law, having already learned what constitutes obedience to Yahweh through His laws.

The prophet Ezekiel foretold a time when the stony heart would be taken from people and a soft heart would replace it so that “they may walk in My statutes and keep my ordinances, and do them,” 11:19-20.

Putting the law in a soft, pliable heart results in an obedient believer. Many today have stony, rebellious hearts, refusing to acknowledge that the law is still in effect in the New Testament. They don’t accept that the law is the standard that measures their behavior today and that will judge them tomorrow.

After confirming the necessity of the law coupled with faith, Paul zeroes in on a new aspect of the Galatian problem.

Backsliding into Paganism

In Galatians chapter 4 Paul addresses another issue problematic with the people themselves. The name Galatia comes from the people who lived there, formerly Gauls who migrated from northwest Europe. The people who made up the various tribes were called Galli by the Romans and Galatai or Keltoi by the Greeks, terms meaning barbarian. It is from the Greek Keltoi that Celt is derived.

The International Standard Bible Encyclopaedia says under “Origin of the Name ‘Galatia,’: “The name was introduced into Asia after 278-277 BC, when a large body of migrating Gauls (Galatai in Greek) crossed over from Europe at the invitation of Nikomedes, king of Bithynia…The Galatai soon adopted the country religion, alongside of their own; the latter they retained at least as late as the 2nd century after [Messiah], but it was politically important for them to maintain and exercise the powers of the old priesthood…” “Galatia,” p. 1154.

The Gauls, who came from France and Belgium, were of the Celtic religion. Their high priests were the Druids. These were Babylonian pagans in every sense, who contributed heavily to the modern holiday of Christmas with its fertility rites and tree worship, as well as Halloween and other heathen observances that are so much a part of our culture today.

4:3: “Even so we, when we were children, were in bondage under the elements of the world.” “Children” equates to those ignorant of Yahweh. Paul is dealing with a people here who had come out of a past steeped in spiritual blindness and falsity.

He portrays these Galatians by reminding them in verse 8 that they previously did not know Yahweh and in ignorance they had served idols. Then in verse 9 he asks, “But now, after that you have known Elohim, or rather are known of Elohim, how turn you again to the weak and beggarly elements, whereunto you desire again to be in bondage?” They had a problem with slipping back to their old idolatry.

In verses 10-11 he says, “You observe days, and months and times and years. I am afraid of you, lest I have bestowed upon you labor in vain.” Many think Paul was reproving them for keeping the Biblical Feasts here. But the context proves that they were actually leaving the Biblical worship they had recently been taught and going back to their former, pagan worship. The only thing these former pagans could possibly go back to was their old false gods. They were certainly not “turning again” to Biblical Feasts that they never knew before.

The Book of Galatians is instruction not just to the people of Galatia, but a warning against the pagan rites that are alive and well today. It deals with two problems: the people’s desire to return to their pagan past as well as the influence of certain Jews who were trying to get the new converts to convert to Judaism before they could enter the faith of Yahshua. This latter issue is addressed again in chapter 5.

In 5:1-6 the concern was physical circumcision as practiced by the traditional Jews: “Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Messiah has made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage. Behold, I Paul say unto you, that if you be circumcised, Messiah shall profit you nothing. For I testify again to every man that is circumcised, that he is a debtor to do the whole law. Messiah is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; you are fallen from grace. For we through the Spirit wait for the hope of righteousness by faith. For in Yahshua Messiah neither circumcision avails any thing, nor uncircumcision; but faith which works by love.”

Here again we see how the issue of works alone as symbolized by physical circumcision contrasts with faith in Yahshua and how faith puts life and meaning into works. Without Yahshua one is obligated to do all the law, including the whole system of animal sacrifices, which Yahshua replaced by the death sacrifice of Himself.

Paul: Champion of Lawkeeping

Popular teaching sees Paul as the titleholder in bringing a new, law-less religion to the New Testament. As we have seen, the Book of Galatians has been mistaught and grossly distorted to make it appear that Paul was anti-law. Paul explicitly said he did not do away with the law but taught it and followed it, Acts 28:23. Yet, people still don’t believe him.

Paul was first of all a Jew, a Pharisee, and if there was anyone who upheld to the law standard as no other, he was the one. This is a man who adhered to the law so much that he:

  • circumcised Timothy in Acts 16:3;
  • went regularly to the synagogue on the Sabbath where the law was being taught, Acts 17:2;
  • said in verse 21 that he must by all means keep the Feast of Tabernacles, an Old Testament law;
  • rushed to Jerusalem in Acts 20:16 to observe the Feast of Weeks, another Old Testament law;
  • said plainly in Acts 21:24 that he kept the law, and he proved it by purifying himself with the Jews at the Temple.

This is the same man who told the Roman governor Festus that he “had done nothing against the Torah to which the Jews hold, nor against the temple, Acts 25:8.

Yes, the very one who in Acts 28:17 said he had done nothing against the customs of his fathers, and in verse 23 proceeded to teach the law of Moses from morning to evening.

Paul upheld the law because he believed that the “commandment is holy, just, and good,” and said so in Romans 7:12 — maintaining in verse 1 that the law has dominion over a man as long as he lives.

How can anyone say that this Apostle was out to destroy the law? We find contradiction after contradiction to that false belief all through Paul’s letters. We find instead one of the most powerful orators and most influential of Apostles upholding the law in every book he wrote, including the Book of Galatians.

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church tradition and paganism

Astonishing Bible Truths Your Church Never Taught

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Modern worship and its teachings over the centuries have gotten so far away from what is taught and practiced in the pages of the Bible that many fundamental doctrines have been entirely skewed, and most churchgoers do not even know it. We challenge you to take a look for yourself and compare what you think the Scriptures teach with what is clearly laid out in the Word and observed by the true worshiper. Prepare to be amazed, if not shocked.

I grew up in a large church denomination. I took for granted that its teachings were the same as the Bible’s until the day I was challenged to prove what I had been taught. I was stunned. I could not support from the Scriptures much of what I had believed all my life. I found one contradiction after another. Bewilderment led to frustration. The more I investigated the more incredulous I became.

Why didn’t I look into this before? The minister’s explanations for the many inconsistencies left me only more baffled. He could not give me any sound, Bible-supported answers to my many questions. Much of his validation came from calcified tradition and that was not acceptable, as even the Bible itself demands proof for teachings. I needed to know what the Scriptures said because they were my true guide, not ancient church doctrine. The Apostle Paul wrote in 2Timothy 2:15, “Study to show yourself approved unto Elohim, a workman that needs not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.”

The Truths I Was Never Told

Acceptance of the facts I discovered would transform my basic understanding of the Word, opening my blind eyes and bringing me to proper worship. This quest for Bible-based knowledge was nothing less than exhilarating! The more I dug into the Word the more the Scriptures began to make sense. I was blown over by the harmony in the Word. Yahweh’s ordained worship is a continuum from Genesis through Revelation. By stripping away unsupported and erroneous doctrines and observances, I found that the more error I tossed out the more insight I was given. I would realize to my total shock that countless popular beliefs and teachings have no backing in the Scriptures!

Here is some of what I discovered:

  • I had searched for answers as to why I was worshiping on the first day of the week when the Fourth Commandment clearly teaches that the seventh day is the Sabbath. I was told the day of worship was changed in the New Testament with the Savior’s resurrection on the first day of the week. My minister explained that although the seventh day is really the scriptural Sabbath, I must observe Sunday as the “Lord’s day.” Yet, I found no New Testament support for such a change and nothing about a change in the Sabbath because of a resurrection day.

Instead, I read that our Savior observed the seventh day Himself and so did His followers. His apostles, including Paul and Peter, James and John, continued to observe the seventh-day Sabbath and met for worship on the seventh day of the week long after the Messiah was resurrected. If His resurrection permanently changed the day of worship, then why didn’t the apostles ever switch THEIR Sabbath worship over to Sunday? I wondered. To my surprise, I learned that the Savior’s resurrection was not on Sunday morning anyway, but had taken place just before sunset on Saturday—exactly three days and nights from the time He was laid in the tomb, just as He promised in Matthew 12:40 as the one signature proof of His Messiahship.

  • Why did my church celebrate worldly holidays that were nowhere in the Bible, while ignoring the commanded annual Feast days repeatedly taught in Old and New testaments and celebrated all through the pages of Scripture? Who authorized these changes, I wondered. I could not get a satisfactory answer. The minister said, “Just accept it on faith,” and yet 1Thessalonians 5:21 told me to “prove all things” and hold fast to what is right. I could not accept what I could not support from the Bible.
  • I also wanted to know why I had been taught that the Old Testament had no relevance today, even though it was the very Bible used by the Messiah, His disciples, and all the early New Testament believers. In fact, it was the only Bible they had because the New Testament had not yet been written or codified. That would not happen for decades. If the New Testament had changed the worship of the Old Testament, then my Savior and His immediate disciples all worshiped in error because they still honored Old Testament teachings. If the Old Testament was my Savior’s teaching text, why shouldn’t it be my Scriptures as well? Was I not to do exactly what the Messiah did and follow His teachings? Is He not my judge? (2Timothy 4:1)
  • For some mystifying reason I was never told that my Heavenly Father has a personal name, Yahweh, and that He expected me to call Him by that Name and not by common, generic titles. Once the blinders came off my eyes I found hundreds of references to His Name in both Testaments, along with many clear admonishments that I was to honor and use His Name. I found the short form of the Father’s Name Yahweh (“Yah”) in many notable Bible names like IsaYah, JeremiYah, Yahel (Joel) and even in the word common term HalleluYah (which in Hebrew means “Praise Yah”). I had found the short form of His Name (Yah) in Psalm 68:4 of the King James Version. And even more astounding, His Name exists almost 7,000 times in the Hebrew text from which the the Old Testament is translated! Yet, no one in the church ever said a thing about it. In light of these facts I was stunned by the universal silence when it came to His revealed, personal Name.
  • Also puzzling was the fact that the Savior was born of Hebrew parents, yet He is called by a Latinized-Greek name today. What was the Son’s original and true name, I wondered? I needed to find out and then begin calling Him by His legitimate Name, the only Name given for salvation, Acts 4:12. Once I learned the correct Name of the Savior, Yahshua, I had a new appreciation for His statement that He came in His Father’s Name (John 5:43), that the Father’s Name was in His own (Exodus 23:21), and that His Name reflected salvation. None of which had made any sense with the incorrect Greek name He is typically known by.

I spent years looking for answers to these and other basic questions. Surely somewhere people were faithful to the Word in all things and I needed to find them. The Messiah Yahshua had said that the gates of the grave would not prevail against the true Body of believers, meaning there would always be a remnant group carrying on the original faith and worship taught in the Bible, Matthew 16:18. It would not be a large, prominent denomination because the Messiah had said to His faithful, “Fear not LITTLE flock; for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the Kingdom,” Luke 12:32. He also taught that the way of truth was narrow and few would find it, Matthew 7:14. The universal blindness I saw in the world of faith now made sense. I realized that I had to walk in all the light I was being given. My newfound understanding was refreshing and exciting. Being blessed with this incredible knowledge, I soon realized that I was responsible to follow what I was learning. I was grateful that after much diligent study and effort I found the answers I had long searched for.

Life’s Instruction Manual Goes Unread

Millions like me have been led astray by man-made teachings lacking Scriptural support. Only a way of worship well-defined in the Scriptures is acceptable. The Bible is Yahweh’s manual for His creation. The 16th verse of 2Timothy 3 says that all Scripture is given by “inspiration,” meaning it is “Yahweh breathed.” The Scriptures we hold in our hands originated as the very breath of Yahweh’s mouth, revealing His own mind and nature as they were transmitted through the power of the Holy Spirit to the writer. If any belief, custom or tradition is not in the Bible then it is not authorized by Yahweh and therefore is not “Yahweh breathed.” It originates somewhere else.

No wonder that the Bereans in Acts 17:11 were praised as noble worshipers when they “received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.” These enlightened truth-seekers knew that that they had to confirm by Scripture whatever was taught them, or else their worship would be meaningless.

As Yahweh’s Word, the Scriptures are the authority for all doctrine. Man has not been given special permission to invent his own teachings or to follow beliefs outside the Bible. No church was granted the authority to deviate from the Word or add its own traditions. Yet, that is just what has been going on for 2,000 years through a vast assortment of dogmas that are nowhere supported in the Word. Almighty Yahweh punished ancient Israel repeatedly for turning away from Him and taking up the beliefs and customs of the pagans around them. He thundered, “Learn not the way of the heathen” in Jeremiah 10:2. To my shock I discovered that many church teachings began as compromises with heathen beliefs and practices. It is this unholy blending that is at the root of many major church doctrines today.

Immortality of Man?

A universal belief among the religious and the pagan alike is that man has an immortal soul. The concept of immortality didn’t come from Scripture, however, but from Greek philosophers like Plato and Socrates. It ultimately spawned from ancient gnostic and Babylonian beliefs. The Bible clearly says, “The soul that sins, it shall die”— not live forever lounging on wispy clouds in heavenly bliss, Ezekiel 18:4. Paul told Timothy that only the Father Yahweh has immortality (1Tim. 6:16). Immortality will be granted only to those found worthy at the resurrection (1Cor. 15:22-23). The propensity to live forever is not a built-in part of man’s soul. Nowhere in the Bible are the words “immortal” and “soul” found together in the text.

So where do the faithful spend eternity? Regardless of what is heard at funerals, the Bible nowhere promises a heavenly paradise to unbelievers or even to the righteous. The Messiah Yahshua plainly said no man has ascended to heaven, John 3:13, and He inspired John to write that the faithful at the resurrection will reign on earth, not in heaven, Revelation 5:10. The Apostle Peter said that not even King David has gone to heaven, Acts 2:34. The Apostle Paul taught that the saints and patriarchs of old are still dead, awaiting the resurrection and their reward, Hebrews 11:13, which will be a position of priest on earth.

Sacred Name Replaced with Generic Titles

Yahweh never gave anyone, not even the church, the authority to replace His Name with generic titles like God and Lord. First and foremost we must know Whom it is we worship. We are told to honor and call on His revealed Name Yahweh in such passages as Psalm 66:2, 4; Romans 9:17, and Hebrews 2:12. His Name Yahweh is found Almost 7,000 times in the Old Testament Hebrew manuscripts, but not once in 30 years did I ever hear His personal Name spoken in any church service, Bible study, or conversation with the minister. How incredible that the most important and holy Name in all the universe has been universally covered up and ignored—replaced by common labels.

Words communicate thoughts, names identify. And in Hebrew, names both distinguish as well as convey meaning. Deliberately concealing His Name and using substitutes is identity theft. It is a crime against the Heavenly Father that He said will not go unpunished. I learned that translators covertly suppressed His Name by exchanging it for titles in our English Bibles. But now some modern English versions have properly restored the sacred Name in the text, including our Restoration Study Bible.

How translators could hide Yahweh’s Name for thousands of year even when it is found 6,823 times in the ancient manuscripts was beyond explanation. That the most important Name in the universe had been hidden away from His own worshipers is reprehensible to Yahweh Almighty Himself. He thunders in Malachi 2:2, “If you will not hear, and if you will not lay [it] to heart, to give glory unto my name, says Yahweh of hosts, I will even send a curse upon you, and I will curse your blessings: yea, I have cursed them already, because you do not lay [it] to heart.”

From Sabbath to Sunday

Neither Yahweh nor His Son Yahshua ever authorized changing worship to the first day of the week. That change was finalized by the church Council of Nicaea two and a half centuries after the Apostles, without any Scriptural authority.

The Messiah Yahshua kept and taught the seventh-day Sabbath along with His disciples even after He was resurrected, Luke 13:10. He cautioned in His end-time prophecy about the days ahead of us to pray that you won’t need to flee on the Sabbath, Matthew 24:20. He considered the Sabbath consecrated and still in effect even in the last days of man’s rule. The Apostle Paul observed the proper Sabbath along with Jews and Gentiles long after the resurrection, Acts 13:42-44. Paul wrote in the New Testament that Sabbath rest is still in full force and effect for Yahweh’s people, Hebrews 4:9.

And most revealing of all is that the seventh-day Sabbath will continue to be observed on into the coming Kingdom, according to Isaiah 66:23.

If a Sabbath change were authorized in the Scriptures, it would have become effective immediately, as did other Levitical laws like animal sacrifices. But the switch from seventh-day worship to Sunday was gradual, proving the Sabbath was still legitimate.

The early faith resisted the move to change it, even as church fathers of the Roman church pushed for the switch. This fact alone should speak volumes about the lack of validity of Sunday worship. Justin Martyr, writing in the 2nd century in his Dialogue with Trypho (12:3), rejected the need to keep a literal seventh-day Sabbath, arguing instead that “the new law requires you to keep the Sabbath constantly.”

This is the same argument many use today, saying they keep every day a sabbath, which clearly violates the Fourth Commandment to “work six days and rest the seventh.” Besides, there was never such a “new law” given in the New Testament but only one made by man. Lutheran historian Augustus Neander states with candor, “The festival of Sunday, like all other festivals, was always only a human ordinance” (History of the Christian Religion and Church, vol. 1, page 186).

Augustine of Hippo followed the early patristic writers in spiritualizing away the Sabbath commandment, reducing it to an eschatological rest rather than observance of a literal day (Sabbath and Sunday in the Medieval Church in the West, Bauckham, R.J., 1982). Even in the fifth century the eastern Roman Empire was still carrying on Sabbath worship. Sozomen (Ecclesiastical History, book VII), referencing Socrates Scholasticus, wrote, “Assemblies are not held in all churches on the same time or manner. The people of Constantinople, and almost everywhere, assemble together on the Sabbath, as well as on the first day of the week, which custom is never observed at Rome or at Alexandria.” The switchover to Sunday was not complete even by the early Middle Ages. The folks knew that the seventh-day Sabbath was a commandment, Leviticus 23:3.

Biblical Holidays Strangely Ignored

Today’s major worldly holidays observed by the church, like Christmas and Easter, are nonexistent in the Scriptures. Such man-made celebrations lack any command, requirement, or sanction in the Bible.

I soon saw that, other than the weekly Sabbath, the only observances commanded are seven annual appointed times (called moedim in the Hebrew) first given to Israel and also kept by the Savior, His disciples, the apostles, and others in the New Testament. His commanded Feasts will even be honored in the Kingdom as the centerpiece of Yahweh’s yearly calendar that will be administrated universe-wide in His holy realm. His appointed days are therefore still in effect and obligatory today.

Learning of the great design and purpose of these days, I asked myself, why am I not keeping them right now? If they were so important that the Savior Himself kept them and taught them to others, why are they neglected by nearly every modern church and denomination? The minister would sometimes talk about Pentecost, one of the Old Testament Feast days prominent in Acts 2, but we never did anything special to observe it, like properly treating it as a Sabbath as it should have been (Leviticus 23:21).

All the Bible’s commanded observances have been dropped or replaced. They are not hard to find, being listed in detail in Leviticus 23 and other places and observed by true believers in the New Testament, including the Savior. Yahweh even says, “These are my Feasts,” not just feasts for Israel or Judaism. Regardless of His clear commands, we never once honored them. They were never even mentioned.

Clearly, the statutes and laws of the Old Testament are still in effect, and will be the standard by which Yahweh will judge the lives of mankind, Revelation 20:12. He said that His laws are forever, and they were not nailed to a cross, Psalm 119:160. What were abolished were man-made laws and decrees, Colossians 2:14. Yahweh never likes it when man usurps His authority by creating his own worship.

King Solomon summed up his advice about living by what Yahweh commands in His Word in Ecclesiastes 12:13: “Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear Yahweh and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man.” The Messiah Yahshua in John 14:15 admonished, “If you love me, keep my commandments.” But we in the church never paid any attention to what He taught about obedience.

Another eye-opener was that so many church customs and practices came right out of ancient mystery religion. Their practices were absorbed to ease the transition for converts from foreign lands and non-Biblical religions to come into the church, regardless of Yahweh’s clear command to stay far away from rituals and practices of heathens, Jeremiah 10. The following are some of the more obvious heathen gifts bequeathed to and taken up in churchianity.

Unholy Holly-day
Mithras slaying a bullHistorians do not shy from the fact that Christmas was an invention of the Roman church, designed to compete with the heathen Roman feast of Saturnalia, the biggest bash of the Roman year, which honored the deity Saturn at the winter solstice December 17-23. Before the 4th century, December 25th was best known as the birthday of the Persian hero and sun-god, Mithra. Mithraism arose in the Mediterranean world at the same time as Christianity, either imported from Iran or as a new religion that borrowed the name Mithra from the Persians.

The return of the Invincible Sun at the winter solstice has been celebrated by many cultures. Mithra bore remarkable similarity to the Biblical Messiah. The Mithraic feast was celebrated to commemorate his birth, just as Christmas was to Yahshua. Shepherds watched his miraculous birth and hurried to greet him with the first fruits of their flocks and their harvests. In time the cult of Mithra spread all over the Roman empire.

In 274 CE the Roman emperor Valerian declared December 25th the birthday of Sol Invictus, the Unconquerable Sun. Great feasts were held and presents were exchanged – especially earthen figurines called sigillaria and candles, which became a symbol of the holiday and represented the return of the sun. People decorated their houses and themselves with greenery and garlands. Sunday was kept holy in honour of Mithra. December 25 was observed as his birthday, the natalis invicti, the rebirth of the winter-sun,

Even before this, the roots of Christmas had reached down thousands of years to Nimrod, founder of ancient, pagan Babylon. Forefather of Mithras, Nimrod began a counterfeit religion in the Book of Genesis that was to compete with the true Faith of the Bible. The Bible refers to it as the religion of Mystery Babylon — the mother of false religion that will be destroyed when the Savior Yahshua comes to set up His throne on earth, Revelation 18.

Babylon’s false worship is found universally today in nearly all religions, including Bible-professing ones. After Nimrod’s death Semiramis, Nimrod’s mother-wife, declared that Nimrod was a god. She claimed that she saw a full-grown evergreen tree spring out of the roots of a dead tree stump, symbolizing the springing forth of Nimrod brought back to life. On the anniversary of his rebirth (at the winter solstice, December 25), she proclaimed that Nimrod would visit the evergreen tree and leave gifts under it. (For an in-depth look at this subject read our booklet: December 25, Birthday of the Sun, which is also on our site at YRM.org .)

Easter – A Deity Gets Morphed

Historically, Easter is the celebration of the ancient queen of heaven, Ishtar, the Babylonian goddess of fertility, love, war, and sex. Her beau was the Babylonian Tammuz (Greek Adonis). She is the same goddess worshiped throughout the Near East and Mediterranean worlds almost from the beginning of recorded history. She was variously known as Inanna, Innin, Astarte, Ashtar, the Greek Aphrodite, and the Roman Venus. “Her presence was thought to guarantee fertility, and in her absence the land, humans, and animals could not reproduce,” Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological, and Ecclesiastical Literature.

Only in one place is the word Easter found in the Bible −Acts 12:4 in the King James Version. It is a mistranslation of the Greek word Pasch or Passover. Throughout the years man has deviated from the original Passover observance and added rites and rituals from ancient mystery worship, which are quite evident in the modern Easter celebration.

Its nonexistence in any Biblical manuscripts shows that Easter was never a part of New Testament worship. This fact has not escaped even secular sources. The New Werner Edition of the Encyclopaedia Britannicasays, “There is no trace of the cele-bration of Easter as a Christian festival in the New Testament or in the writings of the apostolic fathers,” vol. VII, p. 531.

Easter is a total repackaging and completely unauthorized replacement of the Passover. The Britannica adds this eye-opening statement: “The name Easter (German Ostern) like the names of the days of the week, is a survival from the old Teutonic mythology. According to Bede, it is derived from Eostre or Ostara, the Anglo-Saxon goddess of spring, to whom the month answering to our April, and called Eostur-monath, was dedicated” (11th edition). (For an in-depth look at this subject see our booklet Easter—the Fertility of It All, or read it online at YRM.org.)

Three in One It Doesn’t Add Up

The egyptian trinity of Isis, Osiris and Horus.

Belief in a triune deity is timeworn, tracing back to ancient mystery worship. “Will anyone after this say that the Roman Catholic Church must still be called Christian, because it holds the doctrine of the Trinity? So did the pagan Babylonians, so did the Egyptians, so do the Hindoos at this hour, in the very sense in which Rome does” (The Two Babylons, Alexander Hislop).

A belief few ever stop to question is, why is the Trinity doctrine tightly held by most of Christendom, even used as a test doctrine, when it is entirely missing from the Bible’s pages? Jay P. Green’s Classic Bible Dictionary says about the word Trinity, “This is not itself a Biblical term, but was a term coined by Tertullian to refer to this whole concept under one word.” The historian Will Durant adds this revealing explanation, “Christianity did not destroy paganism; it adopted it… From Egypt came the ideas of a divine Trinity” (The Story of Civilization, vol. III).

If the Trinity were a pure Biblical teaching and key test doctrine, why did it take so long to develop into the form we find it today? Why the centuries-long debate, squabbling, contention and infighting over the notion of a three-in-one majesty? Shouldn’t a straightforward Bible teaching be clear and concise and easy to understand as are other teachings of Yahweh are? The whole concept of a Trinity emerged only after many centuries of heated disagreement and disputing: “The doctrine developed gradually over several centuries and through many controversies…By the end of the 4th century…the doctrine of the Trinity took substantially the form it has maintained ever since” (Encyclopaedia Britannica, “Trinity”).

Yahshua the Messiah maintained that he was not co-equal with the Father, but was in subjection to His Father. In saying that, He affirmed that He was not Yahweh’s peer. In fact, He was His Son! “You have heard how I said unto you, I go away, and come again unto you. If you loved me, you would rejoice, because I said, I go unto the Father: for my Father is greater than I” (John 14:28). One cannot be equal with another if the other is greater. Yahshua said that no man can come to Him unless the Father first draws him, John 6:44, revealing a supreme hierarchy that is not co-equal in authority.

The Apostle Paul clearly disputes equality among the Yahweh family in 1Timothy 6:16. Describing the Father he wrote, “Who only has immortality…” Only Yahweh the Father is innately immortal. His post-resurrection statement took into account the risen Messiah as well as the mortal, earthly Savior.

The nameless Holy Spirit is not another person but the very power of Yahweh by which He accomplishes His acts. In the Hebrew spirit is ruach, and in Greek, pneuma. Both words mean power like wind or breath. It was the inbreathing of this power that gave life to Adam and all life on the earth, Genesis 2:7. No mention is ever made to praying to or honoring the Holy Spirit. (For an in-depth look at this subject see our booklet, The Trinity – Fact or Fiction? or read it on our Website.)

The Missing Rapture Teaching

We are nowhere told in the inspired Word to expect to be snatched away to heaven to watch our unbelieving loved ones suffer unspeakably and die excruciating deaths during the worst-ever disasters and conflagration prophesied to engulf this planet. Like the word trinity, the word rapture never appears in the Scriptures.

Scripture confirms that Yahshua’s coming will take place at the end of the Great Tribulation (Matt. 24:29-31), at which time He will raise His chosen who have been obedient to His laws to meet Him in the clouds (1Thess. 4:17) and all will then go to the Mount of Olives (Zech. 14:4). His resurrected chosen will reign on earth, not in heaven (Rev. 5:10, 20:6).

Today’s pre-tribulation rapture teaching was first popularized by John Nelson Darby in 1827 and was later put into the Scofield Reference Bible (1909). Until that time the notion of a rapture preceding the Second Coming of the Messiah was not church teaching.

The rapture doctrine is an attempt to avoid the inevitable trials prophesided to befall this planet. Man always wants to make the way broad and effortless. It is a fulfillment of the prophecy in Isaiah 30:10: “Which say to the seers, See not; and to the prophets, Prophesy not unto us right things, speak unto us smooth things, prophesy deceits.”

The rapture teaching is completely foreign to Scripture and runs counter to many passages that show believers going through the coming tribulation. A key lesson in Scripture is that the Believer must overcome pain, trials, and tribulation to enter the Kingdom, not seek an escape from them. (For an in-depth look at this subject see our booklet, Are You Counting on a Coming Rapture? or read it online.)

The Borrowed Cross An Ancient Symbol of Life

nimrudcrossABT2The Messiah’s death was not on a cross, as popularly believed, but on an upright pole with wrists nailed overhead. This is clear from the words translated “cross.” They are the Greek stauros andxulon, and specify a simple stake or pole without a crosspiece. Vine’s Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words says, “Stauros denotes, primarily, an upright pole or stake.” John 3:14 tells us He was lifted up at His impalement in the same way Moses lifted up the serpent on a pole in Numbers 21:9.

The origins of the cross can be traced back to Egypt and even earlier to Babylon. In Egypt it was known as the “ankh” (key of the Nile). It was an ancient Egyptian hieroglyphic symbol of life and sexual fertility and literally signifies “eternal life.” The sign of the cross was used as a sacred symbol in various forms by nonChristians. In Babylon the cross was used as a symbol of the heathen god Tammuz. Also, the symbol of the cross was used among Aryan civilization as a representation of mystical light of the pagan gods or sacred fire and even the sun, which gave life.

In the Encyclopaedia Britannica we read, “In the Egyptian churches the cross was a pagan symbol of life borrowed by the Christians and interpreted in the pagan manner” (11th edition, vol. 14, p. 273).

Again Alexander Hislop writes in The Two Babylons, “This Pagan symbol … the Tau, the sign of the cross, the indisputable sign of Tammuz, the false Messiah … the mystic Tau of the Chaldeans (Babylonians) and Egyptians – the true original form of the letter T the initial of the name of Tammuz … the Babylonian cross was the recognized emblem of Tammuz,” pp. 197-205.

History records that Constantine claims to have seen a vision of a bright cross of light emblazoned against the noonday sky and upon it the inscription: “In hoc signo vinces”—”In this sign conquer.” He allegedly saw it as a sign of victory in the battle against his rival Maxentius.

The Companion Bible notes, “Crosses were used as symbols of the Babylonian Sun-god … It should be stated that Constantine was a Sun-god worshipper … The evidence is thus complete, that [Yahshua] was put to death upon an upright stake, and not on two pieces of timber placed at any angle,” appendix 162.

Ubiquitous Steeples Trace to Egypt and Babylon

Church steeples originated thouands of years ago in Egyptian idolatry. Roman Emperor Constantine in his “Edict of Milan” in 313 C.E. made the Empire officially neutral with regard to religion. Paganism and Christianity could be practiced freely. The stage was set for the aggressive melding of beliefs. Pagan architecture, like the popular obelisk, was borrowed from Egypt. When Emperor Augustus conquered Egypt in 30 BCE he brought obelisks dedicated to the Pharaohs Rameses II and Psammetichus II from Heliopolis to Rome.

In heathen religion the obelisk was an ancient phallic symbol honoring and celebrating the regeneration of the sun god Ra (Egypt’s greatest deity). The peak or point of the obelisk was the first spot the sun’s rays hit when rising in the sky, which the pagans believed symbolized re-birth. Always eager to incorporate erotic motifs into their fertility worship, the phallic obelisk completes the metaphor for the pagans in their worship of sex and the propagation of life.

The ancient Romans became so strongly attached to the obelisk that there are now more than twice as many obelisks standing in Rome as remain in Egypt. One such granite obelisk is the second highest in Rome, having been brought from Egypt by Emperor Caligula in 37 CE. It originally stood in his circus on a spot to the south of the basilica. Pope Sixtus V moved it in 1586 to the center of St. Peter’s Square. It takes little imagination to see the clear connection between the obelisk and the common church steeple, a fact many historians have pointed out. It is a testimony to early Christianity’s susceptibility to pagan influence that we now see exemplified in church architecture in every continent on earth

The Roman Catholic Church, mother of the modern church, adopted an Egyptian obelisk and placed a cross on its peak, thus creating the first church steeple. It’s a fact that should send chills down the spines of churchgoers everywhere.

An original form of the obelisk was the Hebrew asherah in the Old Testament. The King James Bible translates the Hebrew term asherah as “groves.” Strongs Concordance defines it as No. 842, from Hebrew 833 (‘ashar), and includes what is upright, erect. The asherah was made of trees, often with all branches cut off and the top rounded. It is found in the scriptures 40 times, always referring to idol worship. The totem pole is a takeoff of the asherah.

The Companion Bible in Appendix 42 defines asherah in the following way: “It was an upright pillar connected with Baal-worship, and is associated with the goddess Ashtoreth, being the representation of the productive principle of life, and Baal being the representative of the generative principle. The image, which represents the Phoenician Ashtoreth of Paphos, as the sole object of worship in her temple, was an upright block of stone, anointed with oil, and covered with an embroidered cloth.”

Historian Ruth Andersson notes that when Christianity was gaining strength in its early years, priests and practitioners often adopted local traditions and religious symbols and beliefs as a way to convert non-Christians. “Phallic (male) imagery, as well as imagery of women represented by [female genitalia], is commonplace, both in pagan sites and in churches. Lots of people never notice!” But Yahweh notices and He won’t tolerate the injecting of heathen rites and symbols into His worship, which happened even in Israel.

Anciently Yahweh cleaned house of these abominations. In 2Kings 10:25-26 the Amplified Version says: “As soon as he had finished offering the burnt offering, Jehu said to the guards and to the officers, Go in and slay them; let none escape. And they smote them with the sword; and the guards or runners [before the king] and the officers threw their bodies out and went into the inner dwelling of the house of Baal. They brought out the pillars or obelisks of the house of Baal and burned them.”

In Deuteronomy 16:22 we find this warning: “Neither shall you set thee up a pillar; which Yahweh your Elohim hates.” Yahweh is adamant that His people be separate and not partake in the pagan practices of the heathens, including erecting towers and pillars pointing to the sun, vestiges of ancient fertility rites.

Can We Make Our Own Truth?

But does it actually matter if we choose our own path when it comes to worship? Don’t all routes ultimately lead to salvation anyway, as some reason? Maybe if I am an honest and decent person I don’t need to actually follow the Bible, some think. Yahshua will come anyway and just sweep me into His Kingdom.

If we can obtain salvation without the involvement of our Creator, then it doesn’t matter what He says. But of course we can’t. Yahweh Almighty alone decides whether we will be given the opportunity for life again once this life of ours is over, and He expects honor and obedience. Hebrews 5:9 says, “And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him.” In Revelation 14:12 we read of the chosen ones, “Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of Yahweh, and the faith of Yahshua.”

According to Proverbs 14:12, our own ideas could easily lead to a dead-end: “There is a way that seems right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.” Only one way is right and only one way will be rewarded — that is the way of true obedience to the Father in heaven in all things—a worship unmixed with error. Paul wrote, “There is one Master, one faith, one baptism,” 4:5. There are not many roads to truth. The true faith is not a smorgasbord of choosing what one likes and ignoring everything else. The truth comes as a package deal. You keep all of it or none of it. Lukewarm, half involvement won’t cut it.

Yahweh has set out a clear and well-defined way to salvation that rests on honoring Him and obeying His Word. If a teaching or a practice is not established by the Word, it is by definition bogus. Idolatry is anything devised by man that comes between us and the True Worship of Yahweh. Such worship overshadows and eventually replaces the Truth. It tells Yahweh that we, the mere created ones, have chosen to worship in a manner that WE think is best and acceptable.

The Apostle Paul compares this to a clump of clay telling the potter what to create of it. Yahweh calls it rebellion: “You will say then unto me, Why does he yet find fault? For who has resisted his will? Nay but, O man, who are you that replies against Elohim? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why have you made me thus? Has not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honor, and another unto dishonor?” (Rom. 9:19-21).

In order to follow the ways of truth one must be determined to eliminate what is not Scriptural and adhere only to what is found in the pages of the Book of Books. No doctrine coming from outside of the Scriptures is valid. The prophet Isaiah expressed this fact clearly, “To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this Word, it is because there is no light in them,” Isaiah 8:20. “The law” in this passage means the Old Testament, while “the testimony” is the New Testament.

Another prophet, Jeremiah, foretold that in the final days the error found in popular worship will be evident when “the Gentiles shall come unto you from the ends of the earth, and shall say, Surely our fathers have inherited lies, vanity, and things wherein there is no profit” (16:19).

To add teachings and practices that are not in the written Word of Yahweh is explicitly forbidden: “For I testify unto every man that hears the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, Yahweh shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book,” Revelation 22:18. Proverbs 30:5-6 warns against adding anything at all, “Every word of Yahweh is pure: he is a shield unto them that put their trust in him. Add not unto his words, lest he reprove you, and you be found a liar.”

The sincere seeker of truth will accept nothing that he or she is told without proving it first, 1Thessalonians 5:21. Paul admonished in Ephesians 4:14: “That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive.” Being well-grounded in the Scriptures will help ensure that this does not happen to us.

Your Life’s Purpose

Our objective at Yahweh’s Restoration Ministry is to restore the salvation truths that were lost or neglected over millennia and to promote a solid and right understanding and practice of the Word. We are in training now to learn all we can about Yahweh and His will, and to put that knowledge into practice in our daily lives.

We use the Scriptures as our guide to life, just as the patriarchs and apostles did. They followed the precepts and laws of the Word every day. That is why Yahweh chose them over others. Abraham is known as the father of the faithful because “Abraham obeyed my voice, and kept my charge, my commandments, my statutes, and my laws,” Genesis 26:5. The other patriarchs were also faithful to Yahweh not only in their religious lives, but also in their daily walk. He demands no less of His people today.

The ultimate purpose of our existence is not to lounge around for eternity in the mists of heaven admiring one another’s halos and showing off our wings. Yahweh is a dynamic, active Father who has incredible plans for His faithful. Paul wrote in 1Corinthians 2:9-10, “But as it is written, Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which Elohim has prepared for them that love him. But Yahweh has revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searches all things, yea, the deep things of Elohim.”

His plan is to establish an everlasting Kingdom here on earth where Yahshua will first set up His own seat of government when He returns. He is seeking devout, sincere, and righteous believers whom He finds worthy to serve as priests to administer His ways in this coming Kingdom, Luke 20:35; 21:36; 2Thessalonians 1:5, 11.

He is calling out those now who prove faithful and learn of Him as they prepare for rulership. “That ye might walk worthy of the Master unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of Elohim,” Colossians 1:10. “And has made us unto our Elohim kings and priests, and we shall reign on the earth,” Revelation 5:10. The goal of the True Worshiper is to be found worthy to reign in the Kingdom of Yahshua as a priest. He promised, “To him that overcomes 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,” Revelation 3:21.

Preparing for such a huge responsibility takes much effort, learning, training, overcoming, and the proper spiritual conditioning. Yahweh has a special position for each of His faithful. It is critical that we learn all we can about Him and His teachings so that we will be found acceptable to administer them in His Kingdom soon coming to this earth. Following His teachings now shows Him your desire to serve Him for eternity.

Make your calling and election sure by following in the footstep training of His Son, our Savior and future King. Learn of His ways. Follow His teachings. Do what He did. Only then will you find acceptance in the eyes of your future Judge.

Watch: “Shocking Facts” from Discover the Truth TV below.

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Poor widow mite parable tithing lesson

The Poor Widow’s Challenge

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Tithing is an important part of a True Believer’s life. Are you following Yahweh’s will by putting Him first

We see a paradox today among those professing the Bible — their most deeply held beliefs are rarely evident in their lives. The nominal worshiper has learned to separate his religious life from his everyday life. Two fundamental reasons explain this:
society has made many individuals fearful of expressing their faith openly, and
most churches no longer teach conviction and how professed faith must be put into daily practice.

In marked contrast, Yahweh is uncompromising about how He expects His true people to worship as well as conduct themselves at all times no matter the circumstance or situation. The Bible is a record of how courageous believers overcame all kinds of difficult situations without yielding their principles.

To know the mind and will of Almighty Yahweh we need only to look at what He commanded His chosen people. Malachi 3:6 and other passages tell us that Yahweh doesn’t change — His expectations are the same for us as for the patriarchs of old.

Worship Is Through ‘Giving,’ Not ‘Getting’

Self-sacrifice is key to what Yahweh expected of all His people both anciently and now. Yet, today’s message is just the opposite: put yourself first.

Aside from their regular offerings for sin, Israel’s worship included returning to Yahweh a tenth part of all their increase. This meant that a tenth of the best of the flock or field was to be given up as proof of one’s faith in Almighty Yahweh as Provider of everything. The principle of giving back through various sacrifices was at the core of the many offerings that Yahweh expected of Israel each day, and it remains a key part of New Testament worship.

Today the tithe is intended to teach Yahweh’s people to revere Him first by returning to Him a small percentage of what most individuals hold dearest —their earnings. Deuteronomy 14:22-23 says, “You shall surely tithe all the produce from what you sow, which comes out of the field every year. And you shall eat in the presence of Yahweh your Elohim, at the place where He chooses to establish His name, the tithe of your grain, your new wine, your oil, and the firstborn of your herd and your flock, in order that you may learn to fear Yahweh your Elohim always.”  Fear is the Hebrew ary and means to stand in awe of and revere.

For the majority their pocketbook reflects their heart because it is what they revere most. Financial priorities tend to speak louder than anything else in our self-indulgent culture. Therefore, the question of whether to tithe becomes a key indicator of how much one is devoted to Yahweh. It answers the all-important and fundamental question: does He or do my own wants come first in my life?

The First Commandments is clear — if we don’t put Yahweh above all else then our worship is in vain. He thunders in Exodus 20:3, “Thou shalt have no other Elohim before me.” Yahshua clearly understood this. He said in Matthew 6:21, “Where your treasure is, that is where your heart will be also.” Of the 29 parables Yahshua told, over half dealt with a person and his finances. Through these teachings Yahshua pinpointed what people value the highest.

The parable of the rich man comes to mind. This individual described by Yahshua esteemed his riches more than he esteemed His Savior because He was unwilling to give up his wealth to follow Yahshua. By putting riches before Yahweh he proved that his gold is what he really worshiped. His gold was more important to him than his own salvation.

How we give also demonstrates whether we love the brethren, which is another key element of True Worship. The tithe was used to support the priesthood, whose main job was to minister on behalf of the people. When we support the ministry today, which is the vehicle whereby Truth is spread and lives are changed, we are telling the truth seeker and the general body of Believers that we care about them and their salvation.

This booklet will examine the meaning behind the tithe and the purpose for it, as well as what the tithe teaches us about True Worship. We will address common misunderstandings about the tithe, and we will see the great wisdom of Yahweh and His desire for us as manifest in His command to return 10 percent of our increase to Him.

The Tithe Firstfruit Is Holy to Yahweh

We first learn of the tithe in Genesis 14:20 when Abraham gives to the priest Melchizedek “tithes of all” his spoils of war. “Tithe” here comes from the Hebrew maasrah and means “a tenth part.” Later, the patriarch Jacob vows to return a tenth of all he owns to Yahweh, Genesis 28:22.

Why did these righteous men of Yahweh willingly turn over a tenth of their gain or possessions to Him? Because they knew that it was essential to do so. The tithes of Abraham and Jacob demonstrate that these righteous men had a right worship concept firmly grounded in Scripture.

Yahweh’s people know that the tithe is not theirs to keep or use. Yahweh said the tithe belongs to Him and is holy, Leviticus 27: 30. He warns that to keep it is to rob from Him.  “Will a man rob Elohim? Yet you have robbed me. But you say, Wherein have we robbed you? In tithes and offerings,” Malachi 3:8.

If we earn $100 then $10 is to be returned to Yahweh. If we keep that $10 we steal from Yahweh. Malachi’s warning is as clear as crystal. Furthermore, Paul cautioned that no thief will inherit the Kingdom, 1Corinthians 6:9-10.

Giving over to Yahweh the firstfruit sacrifice was and still is fundamental to True Worship. The tithe is a firstfruits offering, the first 10 percent of our increase given before any of our own needs are met.

Turning over the firstfruits to Yahweh is fundamental in both Old and New testament Scripture. This ancient principle extends all the way to Yahshua the Messiah Himself, who is a spiritual firstfruit offered by the Father on our behalf because of our sins. “But now Messiah is risen from the dead, and has become the Firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep,” 1Corinthians 15:20. Yahweh so loved us that He gave to us the first of His creation — His very beloved and only Son, John 3:16.

What if He had decided to keep His Firstfruits —His Son — for Himself? In that case we would be lost in the death penalty earned by our sins! Can we give back any less than our own firstfruits to Him in joyful and humble appreciation? Every true child of Yahweh should have a compelling desire to tithe. That desire should be basic to worship.

Proverbs 3:9 directs us to “honor Yahweh with your substance, and with the firstfruits of all your increase.” Firstfruits were offered to Yahweh in acknowledgment that everything ultimately belongs to Him and that all we possess is merely on loan to us. Those who revere Him will be blessed.

Some spend their tithes on the poor. Yahweh commands, however, that His tenth be given to Him and used for the furtherance of His Truth, ministry, and teachings. It is the job of the ministry to determine where the greatest need is, just as it was with the priests at the temple. Malachi 3:10 commands, “Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this, says Yahweh Almighty, and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it.” This also applies spiritually to the ultimate blessing of everlasting life!

Israel willingly gave of the firstfruits of their crops, their livestock, their orchards and everything else they produced. These firstfruits were the best they had, given from “off the top,” not picked from the leftovers once their personal needs were met. Firstfruits are entirely Yahweh’s and are sacred to Him.

A Compelling Test of Our Devotion

Yahweh commanded in Leviticus 27:30-34: “And all the tithe of the land, whether of the seed of the land, or of the fruit of the tree, is Yahweh’s: it is holy to Yahweh… And concerning the tithe of the herd, or of the flock, even of whatsoever passes under the rod, the tenth shall be holy unto Yahweh. He shall not search whether it be good or bad, neither shall he change it: and if he change it at all, then both it and the change thereof shall be holy; it shall not be redeemed.”

No matter what is earned, increased, and gained from, the True Worshiper automatically returns a tenth to Yahweh. We are not to take our share first and give back the leftovers. We first return to Him His due — His 10 percent — and we then take care of ourselves. By this act we show Him that He comes before everything else in our lives.

We must understand that paying tithes is not “giving” or offering to Yahweh anything. It is only rendering to Yahweh what already is His. Giving back only part of what belongs to Him is not tithing.

If someone stole ten dollars from you and then gave you a dollar in return, you would consider the dollar a gift but at the same time you would consider the giver a thief. Similarly, if your tithe is ten dollars but you return only a dollar, then you are robbing Yahweh of His tenth. You may be returning some, but you are stealing the rest. A wife who is 85 percent faithful to her husband is not faithful at all. There is no such thing as partial tithing.

Tithing is not a charity exercise. Our Father in heaven doesn’t need a cent from us. He already owns the entire planet. Yahweh created it all; everything we call ours is His to begin with. Psalm 24:1 says, “The earth is Yahweh’s, and everything in it.”

Tithing is a compelling test of our true desire to serve Him by showing whether He indeed comes first in our lives. Putting Him last monetarily — after we have first taken care of ourselves — reveals a spiritual defect. It tells Him that I am more important than He is! If Idolatry means putting anything else before Him in worship, then non-tithing is idolatrous.

The Feast days teach a fundamental principle here through the harvest firstfruits that Israel was to present to Almighty Yahweh on His special days. One Feast in particular, Pentecost or Feast of Firstfruits, is specifically about this firstfruits offering to Yahweh, where the first gatherings of the wheat harvest were presented to Yahweh and only then could the general harvest begin. In other words, once our obligations to Yahweh are met then we focus on our own needs.

Yahweh judges what we give by what we keep. What we cherish reflects our heart’s true desire. The question of whether I should tithe or not boils down to a simple issue: do I recognize, honor, and serve Him above all else? Even above myself? If not, then I need to re-examine my attitude and get right with Him.

Is the Tithe Only for Farmers?  

Let us re-read Leviticus 27:30, “And all the tithe of the land, whether of the seed of the land, or of the fruit of the tree, is Yahweh’s, it is holy unto Yahweh.” Some believe this means tithing applies only to farmers. This is not only irrational but also clearly inequitable.

Are we to believe that only farmers are to fear and revere Yahweh? That just farmers alone are to put Him first in their lives? That only farmers are to receive instruction and practice on what is holy to Yahweh? That only farmers return what belongs to Yahweh while the rest of us are free to keep what isn’t ours?

In truth, a tenth is required from all the riches and wealth that the earth produces to our benefit, no matter what it is and who earns it. As an agrarian people Israel derived their income from the land so naturally Yahweh would instruct that whatever the land produced they were to tithe of.

Not everyone in Israel farmed, but everyone still tithed. Abraham gave a tenth of the spoils of war, Genesis 14:20, while Jacob gave a tenth of all he possessed, Genesis 28:22. The Levites as well had to give their 10 percent from the tithe given to them, Numbers 18:26-28. The Levites were priests, not farmers. They could not own land or produce anything. Their income was from a second-hand source — the people who came to the temple.

Most giving in the Old Testament was to support the priests and the Levites in their duties, Numbers 18:24. The Priests and Levites were the clergy of the Old Testament. The Priests handled the sacrifices and were responsible for instructing the people in the Word of Yahweh (2Chron. 31:4, Mal. 2:6-9). The Levites led people in worship and assisted in the physical management of the tabernacle and temple (1Chron. 23:28-32).

It All Belongs to Yahweh

The issue is not where the tithe comes from but whether we prove our faithfulness by turning over to Yahweh a tenth of whatever is produced or profited from — no matter how we make our living. Yahweh does not need our adherence to any of His commands. But He does expect our willing obedience as a sign of our true hearts as His committed people. By this He knows who are indeed His.

The word “land” that Israel was to tithe from in Leviticus 27:30 is far broader in scope than just agricultural fields. It is the Hebrew erets and includes “earth, whole earth, earth as opposed to heaven.” From erets we see that everything belongs to Yahweh, even our existence.

Paul said in 1Corinthians 4:7, “What do you have that you did not receive? And if you received it, why do you boast as if it were not a gift?” (NRS).

We leave everything behind when we enter the grave so that nothing is truly ours. Hearses do not pull U-Haul trailers. The gift of our life itself ultimately returns to Yahweh who gave it, Eccl. 12:7.

If He wants to let us keep 90 percent and requires only 10 percent in return, who are we as His creation to argue? What is the clay that it should challenge the potter?  What does it tell Him about us as His worshipers if we resist or refuse? Yahweh has the perfect right to demand everything from us, yet He asks for only a small percentage and then waits to see whether we revere Him enough to follow through.

When we willingly obey He blesses us with more, Mal. 3:10-12. Tithers soon discover that 90 percent of their income after tithing will stretch further than 100 percent without tithing. Yahweh blesses the tither.

Quibbling over whether or not to tithe exposes a heart problem. By keeping the tithe for ourselves we say to Yahweh that He isn’t even 10 percent important to us. Not only that, but that we think so little of Him that we would steal from Him!

In marked contrast, a True Worshiper puts Yahweh above everything else. The person with Yahweh at heart will not keep what is not his but would joyfully give it ALL up if asked to do so — even if that means his very life. Rightly managing the tithe proves that we have a heart longing to obey.

We see this principle in operation when Yahweh directs Abraham to offer up Isaac, the patriarch’s most valued possession. What Yahweh really wants is to see Abraham’s true heart revealed through his willingness to part with his son if it came down to it, just as Yahweh revealed His love for mankind by giving up His own Son for us. Abraham passes the test and thereby confirms his complete devotion to and love of Yahweh. True Worship always requires a measure of personal sacrifice.

Tithing in the New Testament

Our firstfruits — the tithe — is an essential way of proving our true love for Yahweh. Giving is part of love itself. We give to our spouse and children because we love them. Giving to Yahweh through His ministry here on earth reveals our love for Him and the brotherhood. “Elohim is not unjust; He will not forget your work and the love you have shown Him as you have helped His people and continue to help them,” Hebrews 6:10, NIV. In contrast, Ananias and Sapphira in Acts 5 held back for themselves a portion designated for the work of Yahweh and each swiftly suffered the ultimate punishment.

Yahshua in the New Testament put His own authority behind the tithe when He said, “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices…. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law —justice, mercy, and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former” (Matt. 23:23, NIV)

Notice that Yahshua did NOT say, “Just worry about justice, mercy and faith and let the herbs take care of themselves,” or something equally dismissive. Rather, He confirmed the necessity of the tithe by directing them not to neglect it, either, as they refocused on what they had been disregarding.

In another parable in Luke 18:12, Yahshua confirmed that proper tithing constitutes a tenth of our gain, regardless of how that gain is achieved. He never told the Pharisee or anyone else that tithing was no longer required.

Some may say they could show their love better by giving whatever they wish instead of a set amount like 10 percent. The Bible shows that the tithe is just a starting point, a minimal amount expected of us. If one desires to give more, one is freely allowed to do so and will be blessed accordingly. Yahshua said in Luke 6:38, “Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” He put no limits on giving. Hebrews 13:16 says, “And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices Elohim is well pleased,” NIV.

There are actually three kinds of tithe in Scripture: the first is a tenth of all increase by wages or profit, Leviticus 27:30-33; the second tithe is used personally for attending the Feasts, Deuteronomy 14:22-27, and the third comes around every three years and is for the stranger, widows and orphans, Deuteronomy 14:28-29 and 26:12. All of these tithes carry with them a promise of blessing if we do them, Deuteronomy 14:29.

Since the Garden of Eden man has been trying to do things his own way — instead of the way Yahweh prescribed — and man’s way nearly always leads to problems. Yahweh showed us through Old Testament Law that tithing was part of what He considers acceptable worship. He never said otherwise in the New Testament.

Some contend that because we are not under the Levitical priesthood that tithing is brought to an end in the New Testament. It is true that we are now under the Melchizedek priesthood with Yahshua as our High Priest in the Melchizedek order, Psalm 110:4. But as shown in the account of Abraham, the Melchizedek priesthood also took tithes. It was to Melchizedek the High Priest that Abraham returned a tenth of the spoils of war, Hebrews 7:1-2.

Yahweh’s desire is that His ministry under today’s Melchizedek priestly system have a means of support to carry out the work of preaching and teaching, in the same way that the Levitical system was supported by tithes. Paul instructed Timothy, “The elders who rule well are to be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who work hard at preaching and teaching. For the Scripture says, ‘You shall not muzzle the ox while he is threshing,’ and ‘The laborer is worthy of his wages,’” 1Timothy 5:17-18.

Paul was a tentmaker, Acts 18:3. But he did not rely exclusively on his vocation. The brethren in Philippi sent him aid when he was out ministering (Phil. 4:16), which he accepted. Paul explained that those who minister have a right by authority of Yahweh to expect support: “Yahweh has commanded that those who preach the evangel should receive their living from the evangel” (1Cor. 9:13-14).  The Apostle Paul personally chose not to live solely by proceeds from ministry, even though it was lawful for him to do so.

The Poor Widow Gave Her All, Literally

Paying the tithe is our obligation, and our attitude toward it is as important as the act of doing it. Yahshua looked for examples where righteous people showed their generosity of spirit regardless of their own personal needs or situations.

One of Yahshua’s key examples leaves us all without excuse when it comes to giving.

Yahshua was not impressed with the large amounts that the rich contributed to the temple treasury. And although the wealthy did give, “they all gave out of their wealth” (Mark 12:44). What won Yahshua’s praise and His heart was the sacrificial giving of a poor widow who couldn’t afford to give by anyone’s standard and yet she still gave — of the very money she needed to survive on!

What dedication! What faith! Her true heart was revealed as she put Yahweh before even her own basic need for food and shelter.

As you read this account, notice that Yahshua did not excuse her from giving because she was poor. He recognized that giving is an essential part of worship that teaches us to subjugate self while reaching out in love to others. This is a critical lesson for the True Worshiper: if you don’t sacrifice then how can you truly serve Yahweh?

“And Yahshua sat over against the treasury, and beheld how the people cast money into the treasury: and many that were rich cast in much. And there came a certain poor widow, and she threw in two mites, which make a farthing. And he called unto him his disciples, and said unto them, Verily I say unto you, That this poor widow has cast more in than all they which have cast into the treasury: For all they did cast in of their abundance; but she of her want did cast in all that she had, even all her living,” Mark 12:41-44.

The act of giving is just as much a part of True Worship as keeping the Sabbath and calling on Yahweh’s Name. The tithe is like loving a wonderful spouse. It is a token reminder of how important he or she is, but at the same time shows that they deserve much more than it would be possible to give.

If you think you can’t afford to tithe, examine your budget and expenses each month to determine what you can do without so you can tithe. The lesson of the widow proves that no one has an excuse.  And if someone claims he cannot tithe but yet owns a cellular phone, cable television, a boat, a sizable savings account, or any of life’s non-essentials, that person needs to re-evaluate priorities and begin putting Yahweh first.

A Modern Parable

The following parable speaks to those who go no further than profess their good intentions: Once, a man said, “If I had some extra money, I’d give it to Yahweh, but I have just enough to support myself and my family.” And the same man said, “If I had some extra time, I’d give it to Yahweh, but every minute is taken up with my job, my family, my clubs — every single minute.” And the same man said, “If I had a talent I’d give it to Yahweh, but I have no lovely voice; I have no special skill; I’ve never been able to lead a group; I can’t think cleverly or quickly, the way I would like to.”

Yahweh was touched, and so He gave that man money, time, and a glorious talent. And then Yahweh waited…and waited…and waited. Weary of waiting, He shrugged His shoulders and took all those things back from the man — the money, the time and the glorious talent.

Eventually the man said, “If I only had some of that money back, I’d give it to Yahweh. If I only had some of that time, I’d give it to Yahweh. If I could only rediscover that glorious talent, I’d give it to Yahweh.” And Yahweh sighed in deep disappointment.

Good intentions are worthless unless we put legs on those intentions, carry out our obligations and fulfill our promises. When we make a commitment to Yahweh, that commitment is binding and unchangeable. Our promise to be faithful to Him in ALL things was permanently and irrevocably set when we repented and were immersed into the Body of Messiah. We vowed to change our lives and obediently do all that He commanded us in His Word. Vows are irreversible, Ecclesiastes 5:4-6.

Finally, the Apostle Paul tells us to remember this,
“Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for Elohim loves a cheerful giver,” 2 Corinthians 9:6-13. May we live up to our promises and receive the blessings that come with being good stewards of what He gives us.