Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Christmas Season versus Sabbath Rest

Joseph Herrin (11-30-2010)

We are entering once again upon one of the church’s high holy seasons. Christmas and Easter have become the most pronounced and celebrated events of modern Christianity. This is in fulfillment of the words of the apostle Paul:

II Thessalonians 2:1-3
Now we request you, brethren, with regard to the coming of our Lord Yahshua Christ, and our gathering together to Him... Let no one in any way deceive you, for it will not come unless the apostasy comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed...

Paul was writing over 1900 years ago, and the time for the Lord’s return had not yet arrived. The Spirit and the Scriptures both testify that the hour is now very near for the appearance of Christ. Those prerequisites declared by the apostle have also been fulfilled. Visible Christianity has fallen into apostasy. A good definition of apostasy is “divorcement from truth.” A profound lawlessness has also gripped the mass of believers.

Such a statement confounds the majority of believers, for they do not have an understanding of Yahweh’s definition of lawlessness. Christ described lawlessness in the following manner:

Matthew 7:21-23
"Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven; but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven. Many will say to Me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?' And then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.'”

Christ defines Kingdom law and Kingdom lawlessness in the following manner: Those who are doing the will of the Father are acting lawfully; Those who are not doing the Father’s will are lawless. That is to say, “They are out from under authority.”

The problem Christianity has in recognizing lawful and lawless deeds arises from their soulish judgment. They view things with the human senses and make judgments based upon what they see and hear. This is not the manner in which the Son of God, or those conformed to His image, judge matters.

Isaiah 11:3-4
And He will delight in the fear of Yahweh, and He will not judge by what His eyes see, nor make a decision by what His ears hear; but with righteousness He will judge...

How many Christians today could witness a person prophesying, casting out a demon, or performing a legitimate miracle, and resist forming a judgment based upon what they saw and heard? How many would automatically assume that such an one was pleasing to God and acting in a lawful manner? Yet Christ said “many” who do such works will be declared lawless on the day of judgment.

Christ did all the works referred to here. He cast out demons. He prophesied. He performed miracles. For Yahshua these were lawful acts because in every instance He did only what the Father showed Him to do.

John 5:19-20
Yahshua therefore answered and was saying to them, "Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, unless it is something He sees the Father doing; for whatever the Father does, these things the Son also does in like manner. For the Father loves the Son, and shows Him all things that He Himself is doing...”

Christ never acted apart from a command from the Father. He never performed any action arising from His soul. He lived to do the will of the Father.

John 5:30
"I can do nothing on My own initiative. As I hear, I judge; and My judgment is just, because I do not seek My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me.”

The hearing that Yahshua refers to here is not the natural hearing spoken of by the prophet Isaiah. It is spiritual hearing. Christ listened for the still, small voice of His Father, and He did precisely as His Father directed. He never prophesied a word of His own initiative. He never healed a person without a command from His Father. He never cast out a demon that He did not see His Father casting out.

If such an understanding is new to you, I would recommend to you the book Sabbath. In it you will find described the spiritual substance of Sabbath rest, which is for man to cease from his own labors, as God ceased from His.

Hebrews 4:10-11
For the one who has entered His rest has himself also rested from his works, as God did from His. Let us therefore be diligent to enter that rest, lest anyone fall through following the same example of disobedience.

http://www.heart4god.ws/index_htm_files/SABBATH.pdf

Note that a failure to enter into this state of Sabbath rest is described as “disobedience.” To disobey is to practice lawlessness. This is the present condition of the majority of Christians. Rather than being submitted to the leading of the Spirit in all things, they are directed by the counsel of their soul.

Even if the soul counsels apparently good actions, like choosing a good paying occupation in order to support a family, pursuing the American dream so your family can live as comfortably and with as much worldly satisfaction as your neighbors, or participating in civic organizations that have charitable aims, they are lawless acts apart from the leading of the Father. One can even cast out demons and perform miracles and be lawless in the eyes of the Father.

This brings me to the subject of Christian holidays (holy days). The Father did give command for the twelve tribes of Israel to observe holy days. There were three main occasions for these observations every year. At the wheat harvest they celebrated the Feast of Passover. At the barley harvest they celebrated Pentecost. At the grape harvest they celebrated Tabernacles, which is also called by the Hebrew name Sukkot.

The early church was Jewish in origin. The twelve disciples which became the first 12 apostles were all Jews by natural descent. The church began in Jerusalem, and undoubtedly continued to observe these feasts of Yahweh. It took several centuries of creeping error to displace the feasts of Yahweh with the pagan feasts observed by the Sun worshipers of Rome.

Please note that I do not teach that Gentile believers today should observe the feasts of Yahweh in order to be declared righteous. There is benefit in understanding these feast days, for they are filled with symbols that serve as parables pointing to the coming of Christ (Passover), the gift of the Holy Spirit (Pentecost) and the coming fulness of union with God (Tabernacles). It is not the shadows observed in these festivals that are of utmost importance today, but the substance that is realized in Christ.

Colossians 2:16-17
Therefore let no one act as your judge in regard to food or drink or in respect to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath day - things which are a shadow of what is to come; but the substance belongs to Christ.

It is important to understand the context of the apostle’s words here. He is not speaking of pagan festivals. Paul was a Jew, of the tribe of Benjamin. He was trained as a Pharisee, the strictest sect of his people. He was addressing Christians who were being told by some that they had to observe the Law’s many ordinances, in addition to having faith in Christ and being led of the Spirit. He was countering this argument, declaring that those things found in the Old Testament; namely ordinances relating to food and drink, feast days, new moons, and Sabbath day observances, were all shadows pointing to some spiritual substance which is realized in Christ.

What Paul did proclaim to the people of God is that they are to be led of the Spirit in all things, following the pattern of Yahshua.

Galatians 5:18
But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the Law.

Romans 8:14
For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.

I have often been accused of teaching lawlessness for declaring that the saints of God are not bound to keep the Law delivered to Moses. This is a false charge, for I do not teach lawlessness. I teach submission to the rule of the Spirit of God. If you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the Law, neither are you lawless. Will the Spirit of God ever lead a man or woman to an act contrary to the will of the Father? Absolutely not. The Law contained only a shadow of the will of the Father, but the Spirit reveals the substance.

What do these things have to do with the observance of Christmas and Easter? If lawful activity is defined as doing the will of the Father as He reveals it to us by His Spirit, then we must examine how the church has arrived at the celebration of these pagan holidays that have been adopted through the practice of syncretism. Has there been a command from the Father to observe Christmas and Easter, with all their pagan symbols and mixing of the holy and the profane? Is the fruit of the Holy Spirit manifested at this season when men and women are driven to excesses of material consumption? Is the promotion of the merchandise of the world a fruit of our union with Christ? Why does the carnal world enjoy this holiday as much as the people of God if it is actually a demonstration of spiritual life?

Some people at this season have written to me to inquire if I have any writings on Christmas. I have a teaching written specifically for those interested in the origins of this celebration. It reveals why this holiday has become such a sacred cow (golden calf) to Christians today, assuring that a great many will never separate from its observance.

I recommend this writing to you. It is titled Removing the High Places.

http://www.heart4god.ws/index_htm_files/Parables%20Bookshelf%20-%20Series%202-1-3.pdf

I recently put this teaching into the form of a newsletter, making it ideal to share with other believers. Following is the cover of the issue.

























Newsletter Cover

This 24 page edition of the Parables Bookshelf Series is filled with images and Scriptures, as it addresses the church’s adoption of this holiday, revealing the origin of the dates, symbols, and practices associated with it. I am making this newsletter available in PDF format for any who should wish to print it out for their own viewing, or to share it with others.

















Inside Pages of Newsletter

Some may ask, “Do not Christians have liberty to observe these holidays if they place the focus on Christ?” This is a question I have wrestled much with. I have desired earnestly to know the mind of the Father in these things. What I have come to understand is revealed in a prophetic utterance of Christ to Peter. This was at the third appearance of Christ after His resurrection, and shortly before He ascended to the Father.

John 21:18-19
"Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were younger, you used to gird yourself, and walk wherever you wished; but when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands , and someone else will gird you, and bring you where you do not wish to go."

These words contain a parable. When we are young (spiritually immature) we go where we desire, and array ourselves in a manner pleasing to self. To arrive at spiritual maturity we must give up this soulish liberty, and embrace the cross. We encounter the cross as we surrender the thoughts, will, and desires of our own soul to be directed by the will of Another. This Other One is Yahweh. As we come into this place of Spirit submission, we will no longer be guided by the counsel of our own soul. Instead, we will live for the will and pleasure of another.

This change of headship, removing our own head to take Christ as Head, will always lead us into conflict with the world, and with a worldly church. We could continue to be self-directed, offering sacrifices to God of our own choosing, but He demands obedience rather than sacrifice. He does not want His sons, who are called to attain to the fulness of the stature that belongs to Christ, to remain spiritual infants. We learn obedience by the things we suffer. We are perfected (matured) through suffering. This suffering (the work of the cross) is entered into as we cease doing our own works, and surrender to be led of the Spirit who reveals to us the will of the Father.

This certainly applies to our participation, or lack of it, in the celebration of Christmas and Easter. I found my own surrender to the will of the Father in this matter eleven years ago to be quite a revelatory experience. Unsaved family members became my adversaries. Why did this occur? Why were they so adamant that I participate in a “Christian celebration” when they had never before been advocates of obedience to Christ? Why is the world so heavily invested in continuing this celebration when she has removed all Christian morality from society, and all Biblical influence from the schools and government?

The answer should be obvious. Christmas is filled with images and practices that appeal to the fallen nature of man. To copy a phrase employed by Sinclair Lewis in the book Babbit, Christmas season is “an orgy of commercial righteousness.”

Perhaps you would like to persuade yourself that this is a trivial matter and will not have any bearing upon your appearance at the judgment seat of Christ. I would counsel you against such a conclusion. It is in our willingness to walk separately from the world, and a worldly religious system, that Yahweh proves those who will stand as overcomers. Where else is persecution to arise in the life of a saint if it is not in our obedience to be led of the Spirit by walking contrary to the path of the masses.

Consider that Christ declared that the way is broad that leads to destruction, but the gate is narrow and the way is afflicted that leads to life. Few there are who find it. If you are following the herd how can you assume that you are that narrow path that ends at life? Barack Hussein Obama will be lighting the Christmas Tree at the White House this year. Will you be lighting one at your home?

Heart4God Website: http://www.heart4god.ws  

Parables Blog: www.parablesblog.blogspot.com  

Mailing Address:
Joseph Herrin
P.O. Box 804
Montezuma, GA 31063

12 comments:

Anonymous said...

Thank you. A very thought provoking article. I do have a question and it is personal so you don't have to answer it if you chose not to. Did you always feel this way?

Thank you,

JMD

Joseph Herrin said...

Dear JMD,

I am happy to answer your question. I was raised in traditional Baptist churches and had a Christmas tree in our home every year as I was growing up. This tradition continued in my home after I was married and had children of my own.

It seems to have been the will of the Father for many of His sons and daughters to dwell in Babylon for a season. Yet, like Zerubabel, Yahweh is now calling many to depart from Babylon that they might journey to Zion.

It is important that when we hear the call that we answer with obedience. Many Jews remained in Babylon when the 70 years of their judgment there were up, as it was a comfortable and prosperous place. Because they did not depart, they became partakers of the judgments that fell upon Babylon in later years.

May you be blessed with peace and understanding in these days.

Anonymous said...

What is your advice for a married woman whose husband and children still wish to celebrate Christmas? What should be her response, when she cannot out of clear conscience enjoy this holiday any longer? Thank you!

Anonymous said...

I too compromised year after year at the urging of many 'christian' brethren and family. Until last year when I decided I will not participate in what is totally inconclusive (meaning there was too much of a mixture of 'spirituality' and fantasty). Besides that the LORD reminded me of a verse that says,"you are a slave to whatever has mastered you". I always wondered why people couldn't put down xmas. Why? What law of GOD says you have to observe this day with your time, money, spirit and energy? None! Unfortunatly my husband who professes Christ insisted on observing this day. It was a constant source of trial for me because while I tried to love others, he still accused me of being a 'scrooge'. I'll keep my name anonymous out of respect for my husband (for none of us has arrived yet to full understanding...).

Joseph Herrin said...

Dear Sister,

You have asked an excellent question, and one worthy of patient consideration.

A woman is called to honor the authority of her husband. I believe that it is the Father's will that she always maintain an attitude of respectfulness and honor, even if the husband is walking in disobedience to the word. (I Peter 3:1-2)

This does not mean that the wife must participate in a festival she perceives to be pagan, and filled with idolatrous practices and symbols. I would refer you to a chapter from the book "Sarah's Children" that speaks to such situations.

http://www.heart4god.ws/id248.htm

May you be blessed with peace and understanding in these days.

Rob said...

Each believer should make up their own mind concerning which holidays to celebrate. Everything that we do should be done unto Christ. We are not under law but under grace.

"And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses;

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 cross;

And having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it.

Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days:

Which are a shadow of things to come; but the body is of Christ." I Collosians 2:13-17

God Bless You!

Anonymous said...

I understand that each one here is opposed to christmas. But I would ask, if we are looking to be set apart from this world. Why wouldn't we just stop celebrating everything. There is a lot of worldly emphasis on birthdays, veterans day, etc... Why would we celebrate a person turning a year older or a person who puts their lives on the line every time they step into a war zone. Are these pleasing to our Father. Is it possible for one to celebrate christmas as we do a persons birthday, the 4th of July, or going to an amusement park?


As stated in Gods word I believe that God looks at a persons heart and motives. So if the motive is just to help people,or to enjoy their family, what is the difference in that as oppose to the like days mentioned above.

Maybe making a kids eyes light up because thier mom or dad couldn't provide them something they needed, a person getting well needed cloths,or what about the shoe boxes that go over seas to help needy people. You may say they can do this anytime. But I would ask if this time of year gets people in the giving mood and the motive is being kind and doing unto others what is wrong with it.

Again I know that God tells us not to love this world. But is having all fun as we would doing something we enjoy (the 4th, veterans day, memorial day, going to the amusement park, etc...) always considered being apart of the world. Some don't look at the magic or the mixture of Christ and the pagan christmas the same.

I believe you have to let God weigh the heart and be the judge if a persons motives are worldly or not.

In Christ!!

Joseph Herrin said...

Dear Anonymous (?),

Your comments regarding abstaining from all holidays and commemorations, such as birthdays, contain thoughts that I am sure others have pondered as well. I thank you for writing and sharing your thoughts with us.

Personally, I have never been one to celebrate civil holidays such as Memorial Day, Veteran's Day, Labor Day, President's Day, etc.. If the government, banks, schools, and various employers want to give their workers a day off on specific days, then that is their prerogative.

I do believe that Christmas and Easter are quite different matters. None of the other dates and commemorations are related to Christ and Christianity. I am reminded of the words of the apostle Paul:

I Corinthians 5:12-13
For what have I to do with judging outsiders ? Do you not judge those who are within the church? But those who are outside, God judges.

There are things within the domain of Christianity, and things which are without. If a government wants to commemorate the sacrifice that its citizens made in its various wars, then they have been granted the authority to do so. They will give an account to God for their actions. However, things within the assembly of believers, should be judged by the assembly of believers.

I do not believe that it is the Father's will to move the date which the people of God commemorate the sacrifice of His Son from Passover to a day reserved for the worship of a pagan fertility goddess. That this has been done is very blatant, for the day still bears the name of the goddess (Easter, Eostre, Ishtar, Astarte, Ashtoreth).

From ancient times Yahweh has revealed that He is a jealous God, and He repeatedly judged Israel when they mixed the worship of Yahweh with that of the pagan gods and goddesses of the Canaanites.

Can Christians commit the same transgression today and Yahweh be pleased? Bunny rabbits, flowers, grass, and Easter Eggs are all symbols of fertility derived from the ancient worship of the fertility goddess. Should the saints merge these things in with the types and shadows of Passover, and their fulfillment in Christ?

The same arguments could be made for Christmas. There is no Biblical basis for the holiday at this date. It is derived from the observance of the Winter solstice and Sun worship.

Sometimes the argument that "my heart was right" rings a little hollow when we become aware of the truth. What are our true motives for continued observance of these things? Is is really to honor God?

Anonymous said...

Dear Mr. Herrin,
Do you think by having idols in our lives/homes, gives (like) territory to the enemy? I have often wondered if celebrating these pagan days of xmas and easter give a vamped up power source to the devil. I know this is not coming out right in my writing. I hope the Spirit can lead you. Also is there any Scripture you could point me to that would back up such a statement?

Thank you,
Deirdre

Anonymous said...

This may encourage some folks, Mr. Herrin about the feast days. Five very short videos.
http://evidenceforchristianity.blogspot.com/2010/07/jesus-was-born-during-feast-of.html

Peace,
Deirdre

newine said...

As I continue to weigh the steps Father is leading me to take regarding this issue this year (as with most things, a gradual, non-legalistic, individual process of eye-opening, leading to my desiring to please him more), the ONE BIG QUESTIO from brother Joseph's post that keeps rattling around in my brain is this:

How could it be that this symbol is at once pleasing to Father AND also Mr. Obama (see here, for example)... i.e., simultaneously celebrated by non-believers and commercial establishments for crass and cynical purposes AND also holy and sacred and central to the purpose of Y'shuah, his birth, life, death and resurrection.

I have read several well-argued defenses of Christmas traditions, including trees, but have so far have found none which argue from anything more than permissibility.

I don't know about anyone else, but when my kids start pressing me for details on what they can get away with, it breaks my heart, signaling to me that they care more about how far they can push my patience than about any desire on their part to know and please me.

I suspect it is much the same with OUR Father in Heaven -- i.e., not so much a matter of salvation or sin but of sanctification.

Anonymous said...

Dear Newwine and others,
The kids and I watched the videos (from the link I posted) and were very blessed. One daughter said,'How simple it all is'. Yet with xmas it is complicated. Ok so the tree is an evergreen that 'symbolises' YESHUA's everlasting quality. Blahhhhh. GOD HIMSELF has provided all the symbols we need (are we adding to HIS Word?). If we cannot lay down xmas, then what else can we not lay down?
Peace,
Deirdre