Wednesday, December 30, 2020

Holydaze - the Origins of the Holiday Season Part 7

hol·i·day  /ˈhäləˌdā/
Origin: Old English hāligdæg ‘holy day’

Removing the High Places

Temple of Baal in Syria destroyed by ISIS (terrorist group) and restored in New York as a Unesco World Heritage site

While we are talking about pride, we should address another parable in the Old Testament. There were pagan worship sites called “high places,” where the Israelites worshipped gods such as Asherah (aka Ashtoreth) and Baal. These high places are not only sites of idolatry and harlotry but symbols of pride. Read the follow statement from Joseph Herrin’s writing titled, Removing the High Places.

We are given a pattern and a parable of the attempts of Yahweh’s chosen people to establish the reign of God in the earth as we look to the history of Israel and Judah under her kings. Most of those who were chosen to serve as spiritual parables to the saints today were outright idolaters.  Although they would oftentimes mention Yahweh and pay Him lip-service, their hearts were far from Him. They loved the world and the things in it.

There were only a few, three to be exact, who received the commendation of having followed Yahweh with a whole heart. A much larger number fell into a middle ground where they had some devotion to God, but they did not fully commit themselves to following Him with passion and jealousy. As we read of some of these kings who are revered to this day, we find that Yahweh did not find them perfect and He assigned a statement to follow the record of their devotion, and this statement holds much meaning for the saints today.

II Kings 12:2-3

Jehoash did right in the sight of Yahweh... Only the high places were not taken away; the people still sacrificed and burned incense on the high places.

II Kings 14:3-4

[Amaziah] did right in the sight of Yahweh, yet not like David his father... the high places were not taken away; the people still sacrificed and burned incense on the high places.

II Kings 15:3-4

[Azariah] did right in the sight of Yahweh, according to all that his father Amaziah had done. Only the high places were not taken away; the people still sacrificed and burned incense on the high places.

II Kings 15:34-35

[Jotham] did what was right in the sight of Yahweh; he did according to all that his father Uzziah had done. Only the high places were not taken away; the people still sacrificed and burned incense on the high places.

Over and over we read that there were kings who sought to serve God, and who followed Him to a great degree, but who fell short of that standard of holiness that Yahweh desired. After all was said and done, and the Holy Spirit inspired men to write about their works, a caveat was added at the end of their testimony that revealed a deficiency in their obedience. They did not remove the high places.

No Christian should think that these things were recorded without purpose. These things were written for the instruction of the church. These things were written as examples of us (I Corinthians 10). As we read about the lives of these kings of Israel and Judah we are to discern things about the condition of the lives of the saints of God who are called to be a nation of kings and priests unto their God.

In the same way that there were many who were called from among God’s chosen people to be kings unto Him, yet whose lives were marked with idolatry, so too are there many among the saints who live lies of great idolatry. Though they be known as the called of God, and though they associate themselves with the name of Christ, they follow after all the gods of the people in whose midst they find themselves.

There is a lesser number who seek to separate themselves from the idolatry of the world. These ones remove from their midst all the idols of the world that appear detestable in their sight. They are devoted to Yahweh to a greater degree than some, but they still fall short of the desire of God. Perhaps no king of the Old Testament came closer to Yahweh’s perfect will, while still falling short, than King Asa. We read of him the following:

II Chronicles 15:8, 16-17

Now when Asa heard these words and the prophecy which Azariah the son of Oded the prophet spoke, he took courage and removed the abominable idols from all the land of Judah and Benjamin and from the cities which he had captured in the hill country of Ephraim. He then restored the altar of Yahweh which was in front of the porch of Yahweh... He also removed Maacah, the mother of King Asa, from the position of queen mother, because she had made a horrid image as an Asherah, and Asa cut down her horrid image, crushed it and burned it at the brook Kidron. But the high places were not removed from Israel...

Asa came so close to doing the perfect will of God, yet he too fell short in removing the high places of idolatrous worship. What does this signify for the Christian today? We can gain understanding as we examine the words of this Scripture. We are told that Asa removed “the abominable idols” from the land. We also read that he cut down the “horrid image” that his mother had set up, and consequently removed her from all position of honor due to her sin. These were tremendous steps of obedience that surely cost him personally, and were a trial to accomplish. To his credit he obeyed Yahweh to this extent and his deeds were forever recorded.

Why then did the high places remain untouched? These too were places of idolatry, and an offense to a holy God. Yahweh desired that they be removed as much as all the other symbols of idolatrous worship. The reason was that to Asa and the people these high places did not have the appearance of being “abominable” and “horrid.” The people were not offended by the blatant nature of the high places. The high places had stood for a long time, and they were constructed by one of the most revered kings of Israel, King Solomon. Even when other kings had instituted reforms and a return to devotion to Yahweh, the high places had been left untouched, and it therefore seemed acceptable to purge all that was idolatrous from the land while leaving these high places intact.

Does the church in any way commit a similar error today? Are there symbols of idolatry that are an offense to a holy God that the people of God are not offended by? Are there high places among Christianity that have withstood numerous revivals and reformations while being left intact? Surely there are, and uncloaking their identity will reveal the reason that Christians have so much trouble separating themselves from them.

Let’s answer the question “Does the church in any way commit a similar error today?” with a classical Roman account of the Roman Catholic Church giving instruction to do exactly what Asa did.

Gregory I, Letter to Abbot Mellitus, c. 597-601 AD

To his most beloved son, the Abbot Mellitus; Gregory, the servant of the servants of God. We have been much concerned, since the departure of our people that are with you, because we have received no account of the success of your journey. Howbeit, when Almighty God has led, you to the most reverend Bishop Augustine, our brother, tell him what I have long been considering in my own mind concerning the matter of the English people; to wit, that the temples of the idols in that nation ought not to be destroyed; but let the idols that are in them be destroyed; let water be consecrated and sprinkled in the said temples, let altars be erected, and relics placed there. For if those temples are well built, it is requisite that they be converted from the worship of devils to the service of the true God; that the nation, seeing that their temples are not destroyed, may remove error from their hearts, and knowing and adoring the true God, may the more freely resort to the places to which they have been accustomed. And because they are used to slaughter many oxen in sacrifice to devils, some solemnity must be given them in exchange for this, as that on the day of the dedication, or the nativities of the holy martyrs, whose relics are there deposited, they should build themselves huts of the boughs of trees about those churches which have been turned to that use from being temples, and celebrate the solemnity with religious feasting, and no more offer animals to the Devil, but kill cattle and glorify God in their feast, and return thanks to the Giver of all things for their abundance; to the end that, whilst some outward gratifications are retained, they may the more easily consent to the inward joys. For there is no doubt that it is impossible to cut off every thing at once from their rude natures; because he who endeavours to ascend to the highest place rises by degrees or steps, and not by leaps. Thus the Lord made Himself known to the people of Israel in Egypt; and yet He allowed them the use, in His own worship, of the sacrifices which they were wont to offer to the Devil, commanding them in His sacrifice to kill animals, to the end that, with changed hearts, they might lay aside one part of the sacrifice, whilst they retained another; and although the animals were the same as those which they were wont to offer, they should offer them to the true God, and not to idols; and thus they would no longer be the same sacrifices. This then, dearly beloved, it behooves you to communicate to our aforesaid brother, that he, being placed where he is at present, may consider how he is to order all things. God preserve you in safety, most beloved son.

Source: Bede's Ecclesiastical History of the English Nation, written in 731 (book 1, chapter 30) (see online)

To the undiscerning, who don’t know the God of the Bible, this might sound perfectly reasonable. Asa likely used a similar justification for his reasons to not remove the high places. Throughout history the Catholic Church made it a point to not remove pagan temples but to convert them to churches. Many cathedrals to this day were converted from or erected over top of pagan temples. Even some of the statues in some cathedrals are sculptures of Roman gods which have been relabeled as Catholic saints. More recently, you may have heard of the Pachamama controversy, where a figurine of an Andean goddess was allowed to be displayed in a Catholic Church with the approval of Pope John Paul II. Just last year, Pope Francis also repeated this act of idolatry. He said that it wasn’t intended to be worshiped but was merely a symbol of fertility. Pope John Paul II justified it by saying that the goddess has been reinterpreted as a mediator between man and God, like Mary. Do you think this pleases God? We can’t allow idols into our churches and we can’t allow idols into our homes and hearts. Not if we desire purity and faithfulness towards God.

The Origin of Sin and Idolatry

It is important to keep the whole Bible in perspective as a Christian. If we know that sin began with Satan, we know that idolatry also began in his heart. So then, all pagan practices can be traced back to him. His sin spread when he convinced a third of the angels in heaven to rebel against God. God cast him down to the earth.  Likewise, if we look at the Fall in the garden of Eden, we can see that sin began in Eve first when she desired to be like God through rebelling against His command, to rise above her station to gain the knowledge of good and evil. Then Adam ate and God confronted them about it. When they were expelled from the garden their sin spread with them, manifesting itself in many ways. They walked with God but now they were walking in their own power. There was a truth that was understood by Adam from the beginning, that he was made in the image of God. There was a doctrine that existed in the original spoken Word which resonated with all of creation until sin was found in the heart of man. This original truth that Adam and Eve knew from the time of their creation before the Fall became more and more distorted and varied as man multiplied on the earth. The truth of God  was mixed with man-made ideas giving rise to many pagan belief systems and traditions that imitated yet modified the original truth. Eventually God got tired of it and sent a flood to destroy all but 8 people on earth and the animals on Noah’s ark. Many of these pagan traditions died with the flood of Noah’s time, but it didn’t take long for man to continue with these same kinds of devices again. After all, sin was already in the heart of man. It was only a matter of time before it would manifest in diverse ways once more.

As an argument to discredit Christianity as the one true religion, many non-Christians say that it is just another syncretized religion that arose out of the Jewish and Grecco-Roman cultures. What I have seen is that Christianity existed even from the beginning, because Christ existed from the beginning. That truth has always been present and understood by many prophets and saints in the Old Testament. For one, Abraham rejoiced to see Christ’s day:

Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day, and he saw it and was glad.” Then the Jews said to Him, “You are not yet fifty years old, and have You seen Abraham?” Yahshua said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM.” John 8:56–58

So did Moses:

By faith Moses, when he became of age, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin, esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt; for he looked to the reward.
Hebrews 11:24–26

and David:

“Men of Israel, hear these words: Yahshua of Nazareth, a Man attested by God to you by miracles, wonders, and signs which God did through Him in your midst, as you yourselves also know—Him, being delivered by the determined purpose and foreknowledge of God, you have taken by lawless hands, have crucified, and put to death; whom God raised up, having loosed the pains of death, because it was not possible that He should be held by it. For David says concerning Him [Yahshua]:

‘I foresaw the LORD (Kyrion) always before my face, for He is at my right hand, that I may not be shaken. Therefore my heart rejoiced, and my tongue was glad; Moreover my flesh also will rest in hope. For You will not leave my soul in Hades, nor will You allow Your Holy One to see corruption. You have made known to me the ways of life; You will make me full of joy in Your presence.’

“Men and brethren, let me speak freely to you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. Therefore, being a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him that of the fruit of his body, according to the flesh, He would raise up the Christ to sit on his throne, he, foreseeing this, spoke concerning the resurrection of the Christ, that His soul was not left in Hades, nor did His flesh see corruption. This Yahshua God has raised up, of which we are all witnesses. Therefore being exalted to the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, He poured out this which you now see and hear.

“For David did not ascend into the heavens, but he says himself: ‘The LORD (Kyrios) said to my Lord (Kyrio), “Sit at My right hand, till I make Your enemies Your footstool.” ’ “Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ.”
Acts 2:22–36

God was not talking to Himself in that last paragraph. The Father was speaking to the Son, the Word. All these men foresaw Christ. They knew God’s plan of salvation before it arrived, and they rested in it even before the New Covenant came. This shows us that God has declared the end from the beginning, just as Scripture records:

Remember the former things of old, for I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like Me, declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times things that are not yet done, saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, and I will do all My pleasure,’ Isaiah 46:9–10

The beginning began with God speaking His Word. His Word is truth. Therefore, all the things we see in pagan religions which resemble and preceded the rise of Christianity in the first century AD are distortions of this truth that existed from the beginning. Satan ever tries to imitate God, but the Spirit of Christ gives us discernment to know the difference. When someone tells you Christianity came from paganism, or that it evolved out of polytheism into monotheism, tell them that monotheism existed from the start. The many came from the One. Now we are returning to the One.

History’s Many Fallacies

Often times scholars and researchers make the effort trace modern religious and cultural traditions back to Babylon. While this is a noble cause the truth is that even Babylon’s beliefs came from a time long before its existence. The further back you go the more muddied history gets. Do not cling to scholarly work done to expose these traditions through historical analysis alone. Archaeology, or any of the sciences for that matter, cannot provide us with a competent view of the development and proliferation of paganism. Even ancient historians will tell you that their knowledge of history might be wrong. Take the following for example:

Eusebius of Caesarea

I warn and advise everyone from the start, that no-one should ever pretend that he can be completely certain about matters of chronology. It will help if first we remember the advice of our true master, [p3] who told his companions [Acts, 1'7]: "It is not for you to know the hours and seasons which the Father has set under his own authority." He, as our Lord and God, uttered this saying not only about the end of the world, but also, in my opinion, about all dates, to dissuade men from such pointless investigations.

Indeed, my own words here will confirm this saying of our master, [by showing] that it is not possible to gain an accurate knowledge of the whole chronology of the world from the Greeks, or from any others, not even from the Hebrews themselves. But it is possible to hope for this only: that what is said by us in this present treatise will help us to recognize two things. Firstly, no-one, like some have done, should believe that he is calculating dates with full accuracy, and be deceived in that way. But he should realize that this has been brought up for discussion, only so that he can know the means and manner of the proposed investigation, and so that he should not remain in doubt.

There is no reason to be surprised that the Greeks do not appear in the most ancient times. They have fallen into various fatal errors, and for a long time before the generation of Cadmus they were completely ignorant of writing. They say that Cadmus was the first to bring them the alphabet, from the land of the Phoenicians. And so the Egyptian in Plato's book [ Timaeus, 22'B ] rightly despises Solon; "O Solon," he says, "you Greeks are always children. An old Greek man is never to be found, and no-one can learn from you about ancient times." But many improbable stories have been told by the Egyptians and Chaldaeans. For instance, the Chaldaeans calculate that their recorded history has lasted for more than 400,000 years. [p5] The Egyptians make up myths about gods and demi-gods, and also about some shades; and they tell many crazy myths about other mortal kings.

Yet what forces me to examine such matters in detail now, when I value the truth above all else? Even amongst my beloved Hebrews one can find inconsistencies, which I will mention at the appropriate time. But I have said this much in reproach of those chroniclers who are eager for such hollow glory.

In accordance with these objectives, I will scrutinize the books of the ancient writers.
(Eusebius of Caesarea, Chronicon, Book 1)

Eusebius is telling us that his interest in history is not so much to prove the truth but to scrutinize historical writers, because he knows most of them are wrong on many points. It is not only Eusebius who makes this assertion. There are plenty of historians who have held precisely the same sentiment. In Eusebius’ Chronicon, you will find accounts from different sources that agree on some parts and differ on others.

This is the nature of historical writing, period. It is no different even in modern times. Writers are influenced heavily by their culture’s perceptions, as well as their own perceptions and biases. Often times these perceptions and biases are influenced by popular consensus or forced on writers by the patrons of their works. Remember, historians are usually paid for their work. In ancient times being a scribe was a very prestigious trade. Because of these and many other reasons, history is very murky and messy. Finding multiple sources that largely agree on any particular subject is rare, especially when it comes to the ancient near east, a place where an immense amount of syncretization and cultural exchange was happening in a relatively small region of the world.

For this reason, the Bible is possibly the most trustworthy book ever written. There aren’t many works out there that have thousands of semi-early reproductions of the original manuscripts available for analysis, versions which agree with about 95% accuracy. That level of agreement is almost unheard of in ancient studies. Even so, there is still enough wiggle room for a 5% difference to devolve into hundreds of denominations. Even the earliest so-called “church fathers” disagreed on many points regarding theology, and they lived so shortly after the apostles. It doesn’t take much, and it doesn’t take long for the truth to get buried under a flood of reinterpretation. You can see why it is not so far-fetched to say that even Christianity has become corrupted in its 2000-year lifespan. So, it would be no shock to discover that Christmas, for example, is not Christian at all.

Looking back at the definition of evangelion in the Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, take note of the statement, “To the many messages, however, the NT opposes the one Gospel, to the many accessions the one proclamation of the [Kingdom of God].” The true Gospel corrects the incipient fractures in the human heart with all the doctrines it supposes by the singular, anointed truth that is contained in Yahshua, the One who was declared from the beginning. He gives us a new heart. His heart. When this happens, we see the truth. When we see the truth, we also see what masquerades as light and truth. These things are revealed as darkness and death. If we carry that light of truth with us at all times no darkness can fool us into thinking it is light. As Paul says in 2 Thessalonians 2:9-11:

The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders, and with all unrighteous deception among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this reason God will send them strong delusion, that they should believe the lie, that they all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness.

With that said, even the best of us fall prey to error. We must be on guard at all times but also be ready to be challenged. When we think we know the truth we tend to become stubborn and obstinate in it. Stubborn is never good because it is an attitude that comes from pride. Caution is always good when being presented with something new, but don’t just turn your nose up at it. Conversely, don’t just accept it, unless you know the voice of God well and know for certain the Spirit is confirming it. This takes much training, though. Test all things to see if they are true. This is how you exercise your senses and become trained in righteousness.

For everyone who lives on milk is still an infant, inexperienced in the message of righteousness. But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained their senses to distinguish good from evil. Hebrews 5:13-14

Some will tell you, in their complacency and laziness, that it is God’s place to change your heart and to open your eyes to new things. While this is mostly true there is clearly effort required on your part. Further, if it is purely God’s work to change you or to keep you on track, then why do we have all these exhortations in Scripture? Because we have a choice to go against the Spirit and the better judgment He has trained us in.

Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Yahshua has also laid hold of me. Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Yahshua.
Philippians 3:12–14

Therefore, leaving the discussion of the elementary principles of Christ, let us go on to perfection, not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, of the doctrine of baptisms, of laying on of hands, of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment. And this we will do if God permits. Hebrews 6:1–3

And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God. Romans 12:2

Do you see the effort required on your part in these passages? The language is such that we are exhorted and commanded to do and be certain things by our own effort. Yes, it is God who permits us, even enables us to move forward in our walk of faith, but it is our responsibility to walk out that faith which was given to us. Let us not be lazy or complacent. Let us test all things.

Do not quench the Spirit. Do not despise prophecies. Test all things; hold fast what is good.
1 Thessalonians 5:19–21

Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world. 1 John 4:1

I challenge you to test the Christmas spirit to see what the Spirit of God says, what Scripture says and what the evidence of its history and existence says about it.


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Monday, December 28, 2020

Holydaze - the Origins of the Holiday Season Part 6

hol·i·day  /ˈhäləˌdā/
Origin: Old English hāligdæg ‘holy day’

Do I have to bow to worship?

In looking back at the passage in Jeremiah 10 it mentions bowing down and worshiping the wooden idol made from a tree, but is worship always the literal act of bowing down to an image? The answer is no. Idolatry starts in the heart with pride and covetousness. Take for example the parable of going “on your belly” as a symbol of sin and idolatry. Then if, as Paul said, your god is your belly, then it is the bowing of your heart that matters. Your heart bows when you set your mind on earthly things.

If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory. Therefore put to death your members which are on the earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. Because of these things the wrath of God is coming upon the sons of disobedience, in which you yourselves once walked when you lived in them. Colossians 3:1–7

Look again at the types of idolatry that Paul called out. Is fornication merely the act of sex outside of marriage? There are many places in the Bible that use fornication as an analogy for non-sexual sins. Revelation 14-19 has many of these analogies relating to the kings of the earth and the people who follow their lead doing things that are ungodly, meaning their own works instead of God’s. These things are unclean to God.

But we are all like an unclean thing, And all our righteousness are like filthy rags; we all fade as a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away. And there is no one who calls on Your name, who stirs himself up to take hold of You; for You have hidden Your face from us, and have consumed us because of our iniquities. Isaiah 64:6–7

Sin is Pride

All sin and idolatry come down to pride. Why? Because we do what we want instead of what God wants. It is pride that caused Eve to eat to gain knowledge and be like God. It is pride that caused Adam to choose, to covet his wife over God and eat. He was not deceived as she was. He ate knowing Satan was lying. So why did he eat, then? He did it for her. 

And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression. 1 Timothy 2:14

But he who is married cares about the things of the world—how he may please his wife. 1 Corinthians 7:33

Is it not pride that causes us to want something God does not want us to have, like the fruit of knowledge, or to want something more than we want God? What people tend to do is take it anyway. It is the nature of the beast and that beast lives in us now because our first father and mother on earth passed their sin onto us. Pride is the sin that caused Satan to be unhappy with the station Yahweh gave him:

You were the anointed cherub who covers; I established you; You were on the holy mountain of God; You walked back and forth in the midst of fiery stones. You were perfect in your ways from the day you were created, till iniquity was found in you. By the abundance of your trading you became filled with violence within, and you sinned; Therefore I cast you as a profane thing out of the mountain of God; And I destroyed you, O covering cherub, from the midst of the fiery stones. Your heart was lifted up because of your beauty; You corrupted your wisdom for the sake of your splendor. Ezekiel 28:14–17

Satan coveted what was above his station. Covetousness is commonly thought to mean “wanting what your neighbor has” but it has a broader scope than that. It more accurately means “to want in excess, often without regard to others.” Isn’t the spirit of the Christmas season all about excess? Lights everywhere to inspire wonderment, yet they are justified by saying “they are the light of Christ.” The massive compulsion to buy and sell gifts, shopping till you drop, is justified by saying, “These gifts represent the gift of the magi to the baby Jesus.” Friends and families gorge themselves on food and drink and revel in their comfort, yet it is justified by saying, “Community is the body of Christ” and “Abundance is God’s desire for us.” All of this is done in the name of family, friends, and having a good time. The idea of Christ is added to it. Christ is not, and never was, the basis for this holiday. That’s one of the main points Tertullian was making. It is a season of materialism, and materialism is idolatry. People “sat down to eat and rose up to play,” at the foot of Mount Sinai, as is stated in Exodus 32:6 and 1 Corinthians 10:7. Is it reasonable to characterize that type of behavior as “a flood of dissipation?” Absolutely. They declared a feast day unto God and everyone was expected to participate, even Aaron.

Don’t be a ham

So far, we talked about how idolatry is much more than the narrow definition that is typically portrayed in modern Christianity and how you don’t need to bow in order to worship something. Can you be fooled into literally bowing in worship without realizing it? Let’s look back at Christmas for a moment. Picture the stereotypical Christmas morning. Children sleep restlessly, excited about the colorfully wrapped presents sitting under that sparkly tree for weeks. The excitement is almost too much to bear. Some impatient children come up with the most elaborate schemes to find out what their presents are before Christmas morning. Now it is here. The children wake up early, before their parents do, and congregate to the tree. What do they do? They KNEEL before it. The parents come to the tree and they also kneel before the tree in order to distribute the presents. Although it is not necessary to kneel in order to worship an idol, is this practice not strange? How can a Christian feel comfortable doing this?

Even if you don’t have a tree it’s still the same idea. The focus is not on Christ. Are the children really thinking about Christ when they get their presents? Could you even impose Christ on this tradition? Does that even seem right? “Children, you are getting these presents today because we are celebrating the birth of Jesus, and we all know the magi brought Jesus presents when he was born, so we should give each other presents too!” What an outstanding moral lesson to teach our children. I see a lot of potential for instilling entitlement issues into your child that way.

Then the family gathers together for a great feast, usually to eat a Christmas ham. What is the most iconic and sought-after food brand of the American Christmas dinner? Honey Baked Ham. Although it is certainly ok to eat ham (see Acts 10-9-15) it has always been considered a symbol of uncleanness and disregard. God commanded the Israelites to only eat animals that have cloven feet, a symbol of rightly dividing, and which chew the cud, meaning to ruminate, ie; to think long and hard. Obviously, they didn’t quite get it. Neither does the church today. Knowing this symbolic meaning now, consider the following passage:

When He had come to the other side, to the country of the Gergesenes, there met Him two demon-possessed men, coming out of the tombs, exceedingly fierce, so that no one could pass that way. And suddenly they cried out, saying, “What have we to do with You, Jesus, You Son of God? Have You come here to torment us before the time?”

Now a good way off from them there was a herd of many swine feeding. So the demons begged Him, saying, “If You cast us out, permit us to go away into the herd of swine.”

And He said to them, “Go.” So when they had come out, they went into the herd of swine. And suddenly the whole herd of swine ran violently down the steep place into the sea, and perished in the water.

Then those who kept them fled; and they went away into the city and told everything, including what had happened to the demon-possessed men. And behold, the whole city came out to meet Jesus. And when they saw Him, they begged Him to depart from their region. Matthew 8:28–34

The demons were cast into the herd of swine, who immediately threw themselves off a cliff. If swine are a symbol of people who do not think or are lazy in disregard, what does that say about the undiscerning church? They are inviting demons into their midst and running straight for destruction. On top of that, the people in the city who were told about this miracle actually asked Yahshua to leave!

I have heard it said that the swine in this biblical event are not a parable of believers but of unbelievers. In order to respond to that claim, we must first examine the doctrine of “once saved, always saved.” We will do this to answer the question, “Can a believer be counted as an unbeliever by God?”

Once Saved, Always Saved?

People seem to think that you can’t lose your salvation once you confess Christ. Scripture says otherwise:

Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name drive out demons and perform many miracles? Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you workers of lawlessness!’ Matthew 7:22-23 

Who says, “Lord, Lord?” Christians do. Jews do. Yet only those who DO the will of the Father are admitted into the kingdom of heaven. So, what happens to those who don’t?

And the Lord said, “Who then is that faithful and wise steward, whom his master will make ruler over his household, to give them their portion of food in due season? Blessed is that servant whom his master will find so doing when he comes. Truly, I say to you that he will make him ruler over all that he has. But if that servant says in his heart, ‘My master is delaying his coming,’ and begins to beat the male and female servants, and to eat and drink and be drunk, the master of that servant will come on a day when he is not looking for him, and at an hour when he is not aware, and will cut him in two and appoint him his portion with the unbelievers. And that servant who knew his master’s will, and did not prepare himself or do according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes. But he who did not know, yet committed things deserving of stripes, shall be beaten with few. For everyone to whom much is given, from him much will be required; and to whom much has been committed, of him they will ask the more. Luke 12:42–48

These two Scriptures are echoed and complimented by the following one:

“Then the kingdom of heaven shall be likened to ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. Now five of them were wise, and five were foolish. Those who were foolish took their lamps and took no oil with them, but the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps. But while the bridegroom was delayed, they all slumbered and slept.

“And at midnight a cry was heard: ‘Behold, the bridegroom is coming; go out to meet him!’ Then all those virgins arose and trimmed their lamps. And the foolish said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ But the wise answered, saying, ‘No, lest there should not be enough for us and you; but go rather to those who sell, and buy for yourselves.’ And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the wedding; and the door was shut.

“Afterward the other virgins came also, saying, ‘Lord, Lord, open to us!’ But he answered and said, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, I do not know you.’

“Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour in which the Son of Man is coming." Matthew 25:1–13

All the virgins were Christians waiting for the Bridegroom, who is Christ. Yet some of them didn’t take it seriously enough. They didn’t fill their lamps with oil, which is a symbol of the anointing of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit is truth. These people ignored the truth and therefore had no light to shine. So then, if believers can be cast out with unbelievers, then they can be possessed, undiscerning swine running off a cliff. Note that this was a herd of swine. They ran in a large group, just as deception tends to be contagious in groups. It also tends to compound in the hearts of people who think they are living clean, moral lives, but are not filled with or following the Spirit.

“When an unclean spirit goes out of a man, he goes through dry places, seeking rest, and finds none. Then he says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came.’ And when he comes, he finds it empty, swept, and put in order. Then he goes and takes with him seven other spirits more wicked than himself, and they enter and dwell there; and the last state of that man is worse than the first. So shall it also be with this wicked generation.” Matthew 12:43–45

When a spirit is cast out of a person, he "cleans up" his life (becomes more moral and presentable), which actually makes the house MORE appealing to unclean spirits, and 4) if that "house" is not occupied by another spirit (an allusion to our need for the Holy Spirit) then it is even more susceptible to worse corruption. The scariest thing to me is that people can think they are following the Spirit of God when they are really following the spirit of Babylon. This is blasphemy.

“Therefore I say to you, every sin and blasphemy (slander, profanity) will be forgiven men, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven men. Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man, it will be forgiven him; but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit, it will not be forgiven him, either in this age or in the age to come. Matthew 12:31–32

How many Christians are claiming they are following the Spirit at this hour when they are actually aligning themselves with the world, being deceived into adopting its ways and ignoring the voice of God? We are typically called sheep, but only if we follow the voice of our Master. Can Christians become swine, then, following their base impulses without recognizing what their deepest psychological motives are? According to Luke 12 they can be appointed a place with unbelievers because of unfaithfulness. If they are unfaithful because they have shrugged off their callings, ignored the commands of God in His absence and instead made themselves like the world, then have they not opened themselves up to possession by unclean spirits? And if so, like the swine in Matthew 8, are they not running for a cliff?

In light of this stark reality, let’s look back at the topic of this book. For lack of discernment no one seems to question the tradition of eating ham at Christmas. In disregard they leave themselves open to possession by unclean spirits. Again, it’s not the eating of the ham that is the problem. It is the unquestioned tradition.

People celebrate Christmas because they want all these things, without consideration of what God wants of them. They don’t even realize that they have made an idol out their own desires for community, relationship, fun and an overly sated belly. They make up many excuses and justifications so they can feel good about Christianizing a pagan holiday that has nothing to do with Christ. They actually think they are doing something good by indulging in the spirit of the season as long as they are thankful that Christ was born. Did Christ die so that you could live a comfortable, prosperous, easy life? If this is what you think I urge you to read the New Testament again. We are called to difficulty, suffering and trials, yet through those trials we find solace and peace in trusting God’s plans for us. This is not to say we are to seek suffering, or that we’ll never have comfort as a Christian, but that suffering is a necessary part of our walk of faith. It is central to it. Christmas is antithetical to that message. It is nothing less than a declaration of the compromise of one’s faith and a rejection of the difficulties of being a follower of Christ. If you do not suffer, are you really walking in faith?

Is there not much to expose in this fallen world? Were we not told that the world would hate us for speaking the hard truth? Yet most professing Christians resist the truth at all costs while posing as what they believe a Christian should be, or what they think their neighbors expect them to be. There is a common term used for a person who acts showy when people are watching. Such a person is called a ham. There are a lot of Christmas hams out there who ignore the truth that the Bible teaches. Remember what Yahshua and His disciples said:

“If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you. If they kept My word, they will keep yours also.” John 15:18–20

Therefore, since Christ suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same mind, for he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin. 1 Peter 4:1

But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Yahshua, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you. 1 Peter 5:10

By faith Moses, when he became of age, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin, esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt; for he looked to the reward. Hebrews 11:24–26

My brethren, take the prophets, who spoke in the name of the Lord, as an example of suffering and patience. James 5:10

For this is commendable, if because of conscience toward God one endures grief, suffering wrongfully. 1 Peter 2:19

But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you are blessed. “And do not be afraid of their threats, nor be troubled.” 1 Peter 3:14



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Friday, December 25, 2020

Holydaze - the Origins of the Holiday Season Part 5

hol·i·day  /ˈhäləˌdā/
Origin: Old English hāligdæg ‘holy day’

Symbols of Life, Fertility and Triumph over Darkness and Death

A common, almost ubiquitous pagan belief is called Pantheism. Pantheists believe that God, or rather a spiritual force, is in everything. They believe that these spiritual forces can be tapped into for our benefit. Druidic pantheists believe that there are spirits in the evergreens which help them survive the winter. That is why they are central to this season and why they are brought indoors and worshiped. You are bringing that "life" into your home as a symbol of vitality and fertility - Fertility of the land and fertility of the womb to conceive. 

As mentioned earlier, the Virgin Kore gave birth to Aion on January 6th according to later Roman tradition. Aion is the embodiment of a new beginning, as well as an immense amount of time characterized by certain modes of thinking and behaving. The meaning of the word aion in Greek is “age.” The birth of the god Aion marked a “new age.” In modern times there are “New Age” practices that teach remarkably similar things, even if the names and practices surrounding these ideas have changed somewhat. In the 19th century a Luciferian cult called Theosophy gained much popularity. Another one arising around the same time was called Thelema, a satanic new age cult started by Aleister Crowley. Both of these movements draw from ancient occult beliefs, and both have had a tremendous influence on the world in the 20th century, especially through Hollywood, the UN and major universities. Students and artists, especially in the 60’s, soaked up these satanic ideas disguised as intellectually and spiritually stimulating philosophies. These philosophies gained a far-reaching stranglehold on the western world and they have spread like wildfire throughout the world.

In ancient Babylon there was a similar belief to the Greek myths of Kore. They were centered around the goddess Ishtar and the god Tammuz. Here is an excerpt from Aspects of Religious Belief and Practice in Babylonia and Assyria By Morris Jastrow (Jr.):


“The sun-god of the spring was pictured as a youthful warrior triumphing over the storms of winter. The goddess of vegetation—Ishtar, under various names—unites herself to this god, and the two in unison—sun and earth—bring forth new life in the fields and meadows. But after a few months the summer season begins to wane, and rains and storms again set in. The change of seasons was depicted as due to the death of the youthful god; according to one tradition he was deserted by the goddess who had won his love; according to another, he was slain by a wild boar. An old Sumerian designation of this god was Dumu-Zi, abbreviated from a fuller designation, Dumu-Zi-Ab-zu, and interpreted as “the legitimate [or “faithful”] child of the deep." The allusion is apparently to the sun rising out of the ocean, which was supposed to flow about and underneath the world. The name passed over to the Semites of Babylonia, and thence spread throughout and beyond the borders of Semitic settlements under the form Tammuz. With the name, went the myth of the youthful god, full of vigour, but who is slain, and condemned to a sojourn in the lower world, from which he is released and revivified in the following spring. 

Solstices and seasons are a natural part of God’s creation, a sign of His wisdom and skill as an artist and craftsman. Perhaps the religious fabrications man seems to keep coming up with are all an elaborate excuse to place religious significance on something that would be quite normal without it. It profanes something that is already sacred by attempting to make it more sacred. When we start assigning our own meanings to different parts of God’s creation, we venture down the path of idolatry. This is why worshiping God with the works of our own hands is unacceptable to Him. If we genuinely want to please Him, we will do as He, the Source of all things good, tells us. That is the purpose of His Spirit coming to indwell us. This is why Tertullian says, “Call out the individual solemnities of the nations, and set them out into a row, they will not be able to make up a Pentecost.” Pentecost was the giving of the Spirit of God to man as an inheritance through Christ.

If we are to continue comparing ancient Roman holidays to modern holidays it should be no surprise that women, especially mothers in the Roman Empire were honored just a couple of months later in the March festival called Matronalia. Is there anything wrong with honoring women and mothers? No, but the man-made tradition and veneration is still idolatry. It’s interesting to me that just about every holiday tradition we have in America is from the Roman Empire. The Romans had Matronalia. We have Mother’s Day near the same time of year. Not only are our holidays similar but politics and philosophies, too. Just look at all the Roman statues and symbols used in our government buildings and institutions. The Statue of Liberty is the Roman Goddess Libertas. So is the Statue of Freedom atop the Capitol dome, which is an amalgamation of Roman and American Native style. Who can say that the Roman Empire fell? It still lives in the heart and soul of America, and not only America, but Europe and even the whole world. 

What we have looked at so far are but a few examples of how traditions and customs of different peoples mix and meld to form new traditions and customs or echo one another through cultural influence. For this very reason it is sometimes difficult to draw conclusive, “smoking gun” correlations between cultural icons as convincing evidence of syncretization for those who are skeptical. Man’s tendency to assemble his own set of customs and beliefs has created a huge historical mess for us to sort through. Many people take advantage of that fact, saying these connections are merely coincidental or innocuous. It isn’t always possible to convince a skeptic to see the correlations. What is possible, however, is to examine the evidence in prayer. In doing this with a sincere heart towards knowing the truth God often opens our eyes to some of these connections, uncovering the root of wickedness that has embedded itself in this world. It is not hard to see, but when your eyes are opened to it you might wonder how you never saw it to begin with, or why you might have been too stubborn to accept it. 

The sheer number of connections we encounter in our research will inevitably draw a picture that becomes clearer and clearer as we scour through history, unveiling and comparing the customs and beliefs of peoples around the world. It is then that we know what worldliness is. Unless we study to show ourselves approved, we may never get the big picture. It is my hope that through a study such as this one that God will at least show you that there is something very wrong with the world, and this “thing,” this spirit, reaches into places we might never even expect it to. It is by seeing the world for what it is that I came to know the goodness of God.

…the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you. I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you.
John 14:17–18

…and to make all see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the ages has been hidden in God who created all things through Yahshua Christ… Therefore I ask that you do not lose heart at my tribulations for you, which is your glory.
Ephesians 3:9

The Idolatree

A similar passage to Jeremiah 10 was written in the book of Isaiah. It gives us more insight into the idola-tree of pagan winter celebrations and reiterates that idolatry is the veneration of the works of man’s hands in service to himself.

The craftsman stretches out his rule,

He marks one out with chalk;

He fashions it with a plane,

He marks it out with the compass,

And makes it like the figure of a man,

According to the beauty of a man, that it may remain in the house.

He cuts down cedars for himself,

And takes the cypress and the oak;

He secures it for himself among the trees of the forest.

He plants a pine, and the rain nourishes it.


Then it shall be for a man to burn,

For he will take some of it and warm himself;

Yes, he kindles it and bakes bread;

Indeed he makes a god and worships it;

He makes it a carved image, and falls down to it.

He burns half of it in the fire; (like a Yule log)

With this half he eats meat;

He roasts a roast, and is satisfied.

He even warms himself and says,

 “Ah! I am warm,

I have seen the fire.” (In other words “I am enlightened” through my own works.)

And the rest of it he makes into a god,

His carved image.

He falls down before it and worships it,

Prays to it and says,

 “Deliver me, for you are my god!” (What he has made for himself will save him.)


They do not know nor understand;

For He has shut their eyes, so that they cannot see,

And their hearts, so that they cannot understand.

And no one considers in his heart,

Nor is there knowledge nor understanding to say,

 “I have burned half of it in the fire,

Yes, I have also baked bread on its coals;

I have roasted meat and eaten it;

And shall I make the rest of it an abomination?

Shall I fall down before a block of wood?”

He feeds on ashes;

A deceived heart has turned him aside;

And he cannot deliver his soul,

Nor say, “Is there not a lie in my right hand?
(The right hand is a symbol of the will to act from one’s own power. It is the same symbol used in the mark of the beast described in Revelation 13, describing what you think and do.)

Isaiah 44:13–20


King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon made a huge mistake when he said, “Is not this great Babylon, that I have built for a royal dwelling by my mighty power and for the honor of my majesty?” God took his kingdom away from him and made him wander like a beast in the wild for 7 years until he repented. I see this same kind of attitude in Christian leaders today. They glorify God with their lips, but they are obviously serving Babylon. If you serve Babylon you serve the world, and by nature of serving the world you serve the ruler of this age, Satan.


“These people draw near to Me with their mouth, and honor Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me. And in vain they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.”
Matthew 15:8–9


Luciferianism is a form of Satanism, often disguised as New Age or Eastern philosophies, and it is centered around the concept of enlightenment. Lucifer means, “Light Bringer.” The story of the Greek God Prometheus echoes the story of Lucifer being cast out of Heaven. He steals fire from heaven against the will of Zeus and brings it as a gift to humanity. This symbol of enlightenment also echoes the Fall in the Garden of Eden when the serpent tempted Eve to eat the forbidden fruit so she could gain wisdom and be like God, knowing good and evil. Wisdom is then related to enlightenment in the Luciferian mind, but it is not godly wisdom. It is the vain wisdom and philosophies of man. So, ask yourself, what is the star at the top of the Christmas tree? Is it really the Star of Bethlehem? If so, why is it on a decorated evergreen tree, a symbol of ancient and modern pagan philosophy? Or, if instead there is an “angel of light” on top of the tree, what angel do you think it represents? Is the exchanging of gifts really inspired by the wise men who visited the newborn Messiah, or have people been convinced to justify their materialism through generosity?


For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into apostles of Christ. And no wonder! For Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also transform themselves into ministers of righteousness, whose end will be according to their works. 2 Corinthians 11:13–15 

So apparently, according to Luciferians at least, what Satan did was a humanitarian act. He gave us something that would help us achieve our full potential. He gave us what he said God was holding back from us. He empowered us to take our destiny into our own hands and rise to the height of God Himself. He convinced us that we can manifest our own destiny and become great without the need to listen to God. How many of us just do what we think is best? How many Christians actually stop and pray about something before they do it, seeking a response from God? Is prayer all about you? Is it a one-way phone call to God? No.


Today, if you will hear His voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion,

in the day of trial in the wilderness, where your fathers tested Me, tried Me,

and saw My works forty years. Therefore I was angry with that generation,

and said, ‘They always go astray in their heart, and they have not known My ways.’
So I swore in My wrath, ‘They shall not enter My rest.’

Hebrews 3:7–11

Another Golden Calf

The Israelites made a golden calf at the foot of Mount Sinai and declared a feast day unto Yahweh. The symbol of the calf was most likely a reinvention of the Hapis Bull they would have encountered in Egypt. Also, Canaanite religion had the bull as a central image in their worship of Baal. The Israelites worshiped Yahweh like the heathen do, just as He commanded them not to do. This displeased Him greatly.


And they made a calf in those days, offered sacrifices to the idol, and rejoiced in the works of their own hands.  Acts 7:41


Therefore, since we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Divine Nature is like gold or silver or stone, something shaped by art and man’s devising. Acts 17:29 

God hates it when we try to worship Him how we want to instead of how He has shown us He wants us to worship Him. When we worship Him in ways that come from our own deceived hearts, He despises it. Consider the following statement:


Deuteronomy 31:16-18

Yahweh said to Moses, “... this people will arise and play the harlot with the strange gods of the land, into the midst of which they are going, and will forsake Me and break My covenant which I have made with them. Then My anger will be kindled against them in that day, and I will forsake them and hide My face from them, and they will be consumed, and many evils and troubles will come upon them; so that they will say in that day, ‘Is it not because our God is not among us that these evils have come upon us?’ But I will surely hide My face in that day because of all the evil which they will do, for they will turn to other gods.” 

What does “arise” mean but to act out of pride, that sin Satan committed in heaven and the sin which he convinced Eve and Adam to commit in the garden? What does it mean to play the harlot with strange gods of the land? Does a god have to be an entity? Hardly. The gods of today are the same gods as yesterday. Money, power, sex, pleasure, comfort, luxury and all the desires of this world become our gods. In ancient times people merely gave these desires a face and bowed down to them. In Genesis God sent the serpent on his belly to eat the dust of the earth all his days. This is a symbol of the lusting of the beast nature.


So Yahweh God said to the serpent:
“Because you have done this, you are cursed more than all cattle,

And more than every beast of the field;

On your belly you shall go, and you shall eat dust all the days of your life.” Genesis 3:14 

Paul referred to this symbol in the following passage, clearly inspired by the Genesis account of the fall of man:


Brethren, join in following my example, and note those who so walk, as you have us for a pattern. For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ: whose end is destruction, whose god is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame—who set their mind on earthly things. For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body, according to the working by which He is able even to subdue all things to Himself. Philippians 3:17–21


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Wednesday, December 23, 2020

Holydaze - the Origins of the Holiday Season Part 4

hol·i·day  /ˈhäləˌdā/
Origin: Old English hāligdæg ‘holy day’

Other Pagan Holidays

The winter solstice is very important in many pagan religions because it is the darkest day of the year. Paganism is often based on the concept of duality in constant flux, dark and light, male and female, abundance and scarcity, yin and yang if you will.

In ancient Egypt, the god Horus was associated with the Sun and his birthday was on the winter solstice. Plutarch writes:

Thus we shall attack the many boring people who find pleasure in associating the activities of these gods with the seasonal changes of the atmosphere or with the growths, sowing, and plowing of crops, and who say that Osiris is being buried when the corn is sown and hidden in the earth, and that he lives again and reappears when it begins to sprout. For this reason it is said that Isis, when she was aware of her being pregnant, put on a protective amulet on the sixth day of Phaophi, and at the winter solstice gave birth to Harpocrates (from the Egyptian title Hor-pa-khered, or Horus the Child), imperfect and prematurely born, amid plants that burgeoned and sprouted before their season . . . and they are said to celebrate the days of her confinement after the spring equinox. (On Isis and Osiris, 65 BC)

Macrobius writes:

…at the winter solstice, the sun would seem to be a little childlike that which the Egyptians bring forth from a shrine on the appointed day, since the day is then at its shortest and the god is accordingly shown as a tiny infant. (Saturnalia, c. 431 AD)

Horus is the child of Isis. They are often seen together in images of mother and child. The statuette shown in the image here is from the 6th century BC.

A Harvard study in 2008 concluded that Egyptian temples were constructed with precise and purposeful alignments to the star Sirius, the winter solstice and the cardinal points (N, S, E, W). In comparing this with the religious practices of Egypt it is clear that much of the symbolism is the same as in many other cultures when it comes to the winter solstice. Just before and during the Ptolemaic period (305-30 BC), Egypt syncretized quite a lot with the Grecco-Roman culture and vice versa. This is due largely to the influence of priests who deified Alexander the Great.

The idea of duality is also seen in the Germanic traditions of the Holly and Oak Kings who are personifications of winter and summer in continuous battle.

The common belief that these myths are based on is that the sun wanes in the winter and is almost conquered by the dark, yet it rises again, reborn from the struggle. That is why the Romans also called their god Sol (who became a syncretization of Apollo, Helios and probably Mithra) by the title, “Sol Invictus” or “Unconquerable Sun.” According to the Philocalian calendar of 354 AD they held a celebration on December 25th called “Natalis Invicti” meaning “Birth of the Unconquerable One” who is arguably Sol. The celebration was a prerequisite to the festival that occurred on the 6th of January honoring Kore (known as Persephone in Greece), the virgin maiden who gave birth to Aion at that time of year. Sound familiar?

Epiphanius, bishop of Salamis (c. 310–320 - 403AD) says that at Alexandria (Egypt) Aion's birth from Kore the Virgin was celebrated January 6: "On this day and at this hour the Virgin gave birth to Aion." The date, which coincides with Epiphany, brought new year's celebrations to a close, completing the cycle of time that Aion embodies... In Ptolemaic Alexandria (305 BC-30 BC), at the site of a dream oracle, the Hellenistic syncretic god Serapis was identified as Aion Plutonius. The epithet Plutonius marks functional aspects shared with Pluto, consort of Persephone and ruler of the underworld in the Eleusinian tradition. Wikipedia (Aion)

The reference to the Virgin giving birth at this time of year should strike you as too coincidental. Every December billions of people celebrate the Virgin Mary giving birth to Jesus. The Catholics celebrate Epiphany, their revelation of “God incarnating as Christ,” on January 6th. It’s very unlikely this is an accident. In fact, the quote above is from a bishop in the church admitting that the pagan tradition preceded the Christian one.

Furthermore, as early as the 4th century BC the Eleusinian tradition taught that Persephone (aka Kore) was taken to the underworld in the winter months, causing her goddess mother, Demeter, to withdraw her blessing on the land so that it would get cold and nothing would grow. Nothing but the evergreen, mistletoe and holly, of course, which are symbols in ancient Germanic cultures of life persisting even in the dead of winter. Let us not suppose that the Germanic peoples did not have any exchange of tradition or influence with their Roman neighbors. If we turn again to Tertullian, we see that Christians were putting lamps and wreaths on their doors during certain pagan festivals.

But “let your works shine,” saith He; but now all our shops and gates shine! You will now-a-days find more doors of heathens without lamps and laurel-wreaths than of Christians. What does the case seem to be with regard to that species (of ceremony) also? If it is an idol’s honor, without doubt an idol’s honor is idolatry. If it is for a man’s sake, let us again consider that all idolatry is for man’s sake; let us again consider that all idolatry is a worship done to men…
“Then,” do you say, “the lamps before my doors, and the laurels on my posts are an honor to God?” They are there of course, not because they are an honor to God, but to him who is honored in God’s stead by ceremonial observances of that kind, so far as is manifest, saving the religious performance, which is in secret appertaining to demons.
Tertullian, On Idolatry, Ch. XV, c. 190 AD

Do people today not decorate their doors and windows with lights and wreaths, even bringing evergreen trees, holly and mistletoe into their houses? “It’s just a tree!” you might say, innocently. Is it really, or are you unwittingly participating in paganism without even realizing it? Don’t be so quick to claim innocence. We’ve had a mountain of information at our disposal for centuries now, far more than enough to convict even the least discerning of us of the true spirit behind the holiday season. If no other authority will convince you, nor evidence staring you in the face, then take the Bible into account, which will confirm many of these correlations you might doubt.

Trees were an essential part of worship in Canaan too, where there existed several different variations of the god Baal. Jeremiah lived in the 7th century BC when the Israelites were worshiping Baal and Ashtoreth regularly. Note, though, that Baal worship was first mentioned in Numbers 22:41, where Balaam taught Balak on the high places of Baal how to corrupt the Israelites. This was probably sometime around the 14th century BC. 700 years later Yahweh was prophesying through Jeremiah about this very thing, and trees were clearly central to their idolatrous, backsliding worship.

“Have you seen what backsliding Israel has done? She has gone up on every high mountain and under every green tree, and there played the harlot. And I said, after she had done all these things, ‘Return to Me.’ But she did not return… So it came to pass, through her casual harlotry, that she defiled the land and committed adultery with stones and trees. And yet for all this her treacherous sister Judah has not turned to Me with her whole heart, but in pretense,” says Yahweh…
Only acknowledge your iniquity, that you have transgressed against Yahweh your God,
And have scattered your charms to alien deities under every green tree,
And you have not obeyed My voice,’ says Yahweh.
Jeremiah 3:6-13

Pretense is defined as a claim made or implied, especially one not supported by fact, or an inadequate or insincere attempt to attain a certain condition or quality. Much of the time people don’t even know they are being pretentious or that they are doing evil. Consider what God prophesied to Israel through Jeremiah:

When you tell these people all these things, they will ask you, ‘Why has Yahweh pronounced all this great disaster against us? What is our guilt? What is the sin that we have committed against Yahweh our God?’ Then you are to answer them: ‘It is because your fathers have forsaken Me, declares Yahweh, and followed other gods, and served and worshiped them. They abandoned Me and did not keep My instruction. And you have done more evil than your fathers. See how each of you follows the stubbornness of his evil heart instead of obeying Me.
Jeremiah 16:10-12

The Israelites didn’t even know they were doing anything wrong! Jeremiah goes on to elaborate on the Israelite use of trees, describing a winter ritual celebration:

Hear the word which Yahweh speaks to you, O house of Israel.
Thus says Yahweh:

    “Do not learn the way of the Gentiles;

    Do not be dismayed at the signs of heaven,

    For the Gentiles are dismayed at them.

    For the customs of the peoples are futile;

    For one cuts a tree from the forest,

    The work of the hands of the workman, with the ax.

    They decorate it with silver and gold;

    They fasten it with nails and hammers

    So that it will not topple.

    They are upright, like a palm tree,

    And they cannot speak;

    They must be carried,

    Because they cannot go by themselves.

    Do not be afraid of them,

    For they cannot do evil,

    Nor can they do any good.”


    …But they are altogether dull-hearted and foolish;

    A wooden idol is a worthless doctrine.

    Silver is beaten into plates;

    It is brought from Tarshish,

    And gold from Uphaz,

    The work of the craftsman

    And of the hands of the metalsmith;

    Blue and purple are their clothing;

    They are all the work of skillful men.


    …Everyone is dull-hearted, without knowledge;

    Every metalsmith is put to shame by an image;

    For his molded image is falsehood,

    And there is no breath in them.

    They are futile, a work of errors;

    In the time of their punishment they shall perish.

    The Portion of Jacob is not like them,

    For He is the Maker of all things,

    And Israel is the tribe of His inheritance;

    Yahweh of hosts is His name.

                Jeremiah 10:1–16 

This passage illustrates several important points for us, including a description of idolatry and a winter tradition resembling Yuletide, a Germanic pagan tradition that later became popular in England and America. In the passage there is the worship of nature (often in the form of pantheism, the concept that God is in everything, so everything should be worshiped) and the works of man’s hands, which is the very definition of idolatry. In the Old Testament there are many references to idolatry being described as the works of man’s hands. Often times it is also associated with silver, gold, abundance and precious possessions. Also notice that idols usually take the shape of a man. This is because man is essentially worshiping himself, whether he realizes it or not. The sin at the tower of Babel in Genesis 11 was that men desired to build a tower to heaven so they could, by the works of their own hands, be united as one people and to make a name for themselves. As one people they grew very powerful and could accomplish great things. What is so bad about that? The problem is they weren’t doing it because God wanted them to. They were doing it because they wanted to. It is believed by many scholars that they built a ziggurat of 7 tiers, and it most likely served as an astrological temple. Although this is likely because they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city, and a tower whose top is in the heavens; let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be scattered abroad over the face of the whole earth.” It is not conclusive they were building an astrological Ziggurat, but I think it is implied. We do see a number of warnings against worshiping the sun moon and stars in the Bible, the first occurrence being this:

And take heed, lest you lift your eyes to heaven, and when you see the sun, the moon, and the stars, all the host of heaven, you feel driven to worship them and serve them, which Yahweh your God has given to all the peoples under the whole heaven as a heritage.
Deuteronomy 4:19

It wasn’t just the astrological implication that was an act of defiance against God. In fact, the Bible does elaborate on that. The problem was their will to unify and do things that were against God’s will. In drawing from the rest of Scripture I believe it is obvious they were building a humanist religion based on the worship of the sun, moon and stars, ie; the creation over the Creator. Yahweh responded by saying, “Indeed the people are one and they all have one language, and this is what they begin to do; now nothing that they propose to do will be withheld from them.” (Genesis 11:6) Then He scattered them, dividing them into languages and nations. Even though He did that so long ago, this same spirit lives in the heart of man to this day. It is why the book of Revelation contains the imagery of Babylon the harlot riding the beast. They are symbols of an apostate, humanist religion controlling a single world system of government. People are still trying to build that tower. It is the spirit of conquest, yet the conquest of God is just as different from the conquest of the world as the Gospel of Yahshua is different from the Roman gospel.

Keeping in mind the Eleusinian tradition of Greece mentioned earlier, recall also what the Theological Dictionary of the New Testament said above: “Doom is feared because the gods have withdrawn from earth.” You can see this in the tradition of the Germanic Holly King and the Oak King as well. Even after the Germanic peoples were Christianized trees continued to play a significant role in their folk beliefs. That is why Prince Albert brought his Tannenbaum tradition into the palace of England in the 1840’s. It may seem to be merely an innocently decorated tree with no intent to worship it, but it certainly doesn’t bring any glory to God whatsoever, regardless of how much you try to relate the symbolism of the lights to the light of Christ or the angel at the top to Gabriel. It makes no sense to hang biblical imagery on a pagan idol and call it Christian. It also makes no sense to bring a tree indoors period, let alone make believe it has some significance to your faith.

Although much of the knowledge of Germanic ancient traditions is only speculative for lack of indigenous documentation, we get enough glimpses into their cultures through Tacitus and Macrobius, among others, to make solid, educated guesses at what they were about. Many diverse resurgences of these customs throughout the centuries assert and confirm the same beliefs and practices. One such peculiar, but similar celebration is Calennig, a Welsh New Year’s tradition where children decorate apples with holly or evergreen branches and cloves or dried fruit, then go from house to house singing for goodies and presents. Often the decorated apples were brought to other people’s houses as a good luck gift. "Machen traces the Calennig to the Roman Saturnalia and suggests that the custom was brought to Caerleon by the Romans" (see Calennig on Wikipedia).  The Romans were present in Britain from 55BC on and so were Germanic and Norse peoples. That’s plenty of time for their traditions to influence and syncretize with the cultures there. I would speculate that it was a combination of Roman and Germanic traditions. The word Calennig derives from the Roman “kalends” which is the first day of the month on the Roman calendar. There is a particular emphasis placed on the first kalends of the year.

Comparatively, the first “Christmas” trees were decorated with apples, candles and holly. The use of holly was a part of Germanic customs, being symbolic of fertility and protection. The word holly is a Middle English alternate spelling of the word holy, meaning sacred, which came from the Old English holen and is cognate with the German hulst.

Strangely enough, there was a Medieval German custom in churches where a tree was set up, hung with apples and wafers, symbolizing the forbidden fruit and the Eucharist, respectively. It was called the “tree of paradise.” At that time there was question as to whether the Tree of Life in Genesis 2-3 and the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil were the same tree. Clearly, they cannot be, for sin is death and Christ is life. The two do not exist in one. Plus, God took the Tree of Life away from Adam and Eve after they ate from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. I’m not sure how one could come to such a conclusion, but Christians are always trying to impose some strange new idea on Scripture, so evidently, they decided to put Christ and the commonly accepted symbol of sin on the same tree. We might as well also note that there is no evidence suggesting the forbidden fruit was an apple. Man, with his overly curious nature, decided to give this fruit an identity.

If we look broadly over time, we can see from the time of Jeremiah 10 to the Holiday Season today that pagan winter traditions were long-standing, even more than 2700 years ago and they have not gone anywhere. They have merely morphed and adjusted to the cultures in which they reside. Now, they are becoming one massive, world-wide holiday. I’m reminded of the Two Witnesses in Revelation 11:


When they finish their testimony, the beast that ascends out of the bottomless pit will make war against them, overcome them, and kill them. And their dead bodies will lie in the street of the great city which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, where also our Lord was crucified. Then those from the peoples, tribes, tongues, and nations will see their dead bodies three-and-a-half days, and not allow their dead bodies to be put into graves. And those who dwell on the earth will rejoice over them, make merry, and send gifts to one another, because these two prophets tormented those who dwell on the earth.

Revelation 11:7–10


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