Tag Archives: Holidays

The Real Meaning Behind the Jewish Feasts

September 2015

There has been a lot of interest lately in the coming harvest feasts celebrated by the Jews and whether or not it has any implications for us as Christians and Americans. There have been many attempts to answer and decipher its meaning. America has seen tragedy during this time of year and some people have determined it was judgment from God. Because we as Christians have not come into a clear understanding of God’s ways, His movements have often eluded us.

It was during these seasons that I received salvation and pursued a deeper understanding of God and events that occurred during these seasons. The untimely death of a loved one got my attention as I wondered why. I became angry with a God I did not know. God did not have to vindicate Himself to me but He did because He is just that kind of God. He wants us to know that He is always righteous and good. With God’s help I was able understand death and work through the grief process. I began to observe a pattern in deaths around the end and beginning of a year. As a new Christian, the Jewish feasts were unfamiliar to me until much later so it was attributed to some phenomenal related to the end of the year. For years I observed these times of unusual blessings and loss and sought to understand. This mystery was opened up further and further as I grew in Christian knowledge and searched out the ways of God.

God is the same yesterday, today and forever. He established patterns in the earth and patterns for His interactions with mankind. God’s laws are universal but His ways are to be understood by His people. There are those that can break down the Jewish feasts in ways that I would not even attempt. My intent is only to understand what God wants from us and how we are to give it. Recently I wrote out a paper of my own research in this area entitled “The Offering God Wants When He Comes to Meet With Us.” Through this research I found my answer and maybe my summary will suffice others as well.

The History of the Feast Times

To understand God, we always have to go back to what He originally instructed us and see the progression of this truth through the scripture. Because God does not change. What He originally wanted, He still wants. It is our sin that has changed the equation. God originally came to meet with Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden on a regular basis (Gen 3:8). We saw in Genesis where the sons, Cain and Abel, prepared offerings for God (Gen 4:3). We are not told how these offerings began, just that they occurred. God was pleased with one offering and rejected the other. This story reveals that God expects to meet with His people at set times and that He wants us to offer up something of value to Him at His coming.

In the wilderness, we saw that Moses instructed the Children of Israel in the ways of God and how to please Him. The Israelites were told that several specific times during the year God would meet with them, how they would present their offerings, and that these would be times of a great celebration.

Three times in a year shall all thy males appear before the LORD thy God in the place which he shall choose; in the feast of unleavened bread, and in the feast of weeks, and in the feast of tabernacles: and they shall not appear before the LORD empty: Deu16:16

The Israelites worked the land and were shepherds so their offerings to God were related to their labor during the year. God expected His people to recognize and bless Him at the end of their season of work where He had prospered them to have success. The combination of their work and God’s favor produced a crop or blessing of which God expected His credit, respect and reverence.

Man’s response to God’s expectation to be remembered at this time would show man’s appreciation and thankfulness for a good and gracious God. Cain, of course, did not show proper respect or appreciation and God was not pleased. What about us? Are we thankful? God has blessed America greatly. Are we showing thankfulness? God no longer expects animal sacrifice, but He does expect from His children thankfulness and reverence.

This coming season is about a tradition of God coming to meet with His children and bringing and receiving something of value in a time of thankfulness for all He has done for us. Will we have an acceptable offering? Certainly there will be praises and worship going up to God as we carry on church services but let us not forget other behavior.

America has recently thumbed its nose to God. The White House was lit up in rainbow colors to celebrate a practice that God hates. Our legislative branch is at war with each other. The Supreme Court has validated and made legal a homosexual life style that God specifically forbade. The nation has removed prayer and the Ten Commandments from public arenas, shunned the stranger, murdered millions of babies while the rich have decried the portion for the poor and many churches have rejected God’s truth and deceived believers. America that loves money and that has made money its god is now poised to elect a new president who appears to worship money. Shall God be pleased with what America has to offer Him when He comes to be celebrated in this season? I think not. America’s present state can be found in the book of Judges where the people were willing to say to anyone: “Come and be lord over us and take this mess under your hand.”

“Then the men of Israel said unto Gideon, Rule thou over us, both thou, and thy son, and thy son’s son also: for thou hast delivered us from the hand of Midian. And Gideon said unto them, I will not rule over you, neither shall my son rule over you: the LORD shall rule over you – Jdg 8:22-23.” (Read the rest of this chapter.)

“When a man shall take hold of his brother of the house of his father, saying, Thou hast clothing, be thou our ruler, and let this ruin be under thy hand…” Isa 3:6.

Perversion of the Season

Many false religious leaders have made a mockery of this time and required of God’s people a substantial money offering during these feasts. People looking for a blessing from God have been taken advantage of and some fallen into unbelief because of it. While God does expect us to give finances to the church that upholds His name and does His work, it is in the normal process of church obedience, not in a lottery to get future blessings. We must remember too, that there were some offering as mentioned by Isaiah that God did not want.

“To what purpose is the multitude of your sacrifices unto me? saith the LORD: I am full of the burnt offerings of rams, and the fat of fed beasts; and I delight not in the blood of bullocks, or of lambs, or of he goats. When ye come to appear before me, who hath required this at your hand, to tread my courts? Bring no more vain oblations; incense is an abomination unto me; the new moons and sabbaths, the calling of assemblies, I cannot away with; it is iniquity, even the solemn meeting. Your new moons and your appointed feasts my soul hateth: they are a trouble unto me; I am weary to bear them.” Isa 1:11-14  

These verses were followed up with the truth of what God really wanted: Isa 1:17 – “Learn to do well; seek judgment, relieve the oppressed, judge the fatherless, plead for the widow.” God is more concerned about our heart and right behavior (New Testament Commandments) than our offering up vain offerings in an attempt to appease Him. So, like with Cain, an offering from impure or insincere hearts will not be acceptable to God. Malachi 3 helps us to see also that God will not be pleased with our refusal to give godly pastors the portion that is rightly due for the work of the Lord. The New Commandments that Jesus gave us refer to a changed heart. A right heart leads us to do right with our money.

The Expectation of God’s Coming

This upcoming season is about God coming to see what we have prepared as an offering for Him. Will it be good works, a heart of love, fellowship with Him and our brethren, an appreciation and thanks for His truth and blessings or will it be our disrespect? God will come to some in blessings for their good done toward His name but He will appear as a judge to others for their disrespect of His Word and Person. How will we meet our God?

Jewish Traditions Applied to Christians

The Jewish feast of Rosh HaShanah is September 13-15, 2015. It is the Jewish New Year and marks the beginning of a ten-day period of prayer, self examination and repentance. Jewish tradition teaches that during the High Holy Days God decides who will live and who will die during the coming year. It is a time of judgment for mankind and reconciliation with God.

The next significant feast is Yom Kippur – Atonement celebrated on September 22-23, 2015. This feast begins at sunset of one day and ends at nightfall of the next. During Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur and in the days leading up to them, the Jews begin to examine their lives and repent for any wrong doings committed the previous year. This repentance is called teshuvah. Yom Kippur is when the high priest went into the Holy of Holies each year to make an offering for the sins of Israel. The Jews during this time would make amends with those they have wronged and make plans for improving their lives during the upcoming year. Many Americans follow this custom but observe it at our New Year’s Day which starts in January. Where our calendar has gone through worldly changes the Jewish calendar is more exact. Yom Kippur is the deadline for making things right and by its end, God’s “Book of Life” is said to be closed until the next year. It is a time of fasting, repenting and cleansing to renew our relationship with God.

Even though some Christians may have difficulty with these holidays because they represent Jewish traditions, we must realize that our Savior and Christian blessings come through the lineage of Jews and that we must understand both the past and the present to get a full understanding of our God. These practices that we saw exercised in the Garden of Eden were evidently established long before Abraham. Though we do not follow the laws of the Jews, we do obey the spirit of the law and some principles are timeless as are some commands God gave to the Jews, i.e. honoring God and putting Him first. We are admonished through the word:

“Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom: and with all thy getting get understanding.” Pro 4:7

“But ye have an unction from the Holy One, and ye know all things.” 1Jn 2:20

“And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” Joh 8:32

God can move at any time in the life of a person but we are told specifically about His expectations at this time.  Whether for blessing or judging, we would do well to be ready for God’s presence in love and preparedness. Christians are not Jews but we serve the same God and we have been brought into a better relationship with Him through our faith in Jesus Christ. Christ actually taught His disciples about divine visitations and how to be ready for them (Mt 24-44). This is a time when we should reach out to and pray for all souls. While God comes to bless and fellowship with the obedient, the ungodly will find His judgment of sin. There are yet deeper meanings to the season for the believer in fellowship with the Lord and they should diligently seek God for His purposes. We have a standing appointment with the Righteous God over the earth and it is always a good idea to take some time to examine our lives and prepare it to be a time of celebration.

Advertisements

America Just Does Not Work Without Christianity

Quotes from President George Washington

  • “It is impossible to rightly govern the world without God and Bible.”
  • “The propitious smiles of Heaven can never be expected on a nation that disregards the eternal rules of order and right which Heaven itself has ordained”
  • “It is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly to implore his protection and favors.”
  • “No people can be bound to acknowledge the Invisible Hand which conducts the affairs of men more than the people of the United States. Every step by which they have advanced to the character of an independent nation seems to have been distinguished by some token of providential agency”

Great works are first visions in the mind of those who birth them from the invisible to the visible. The vision develops into a tangible form where others are able to appreciate it. What was a previous impossibility becomes a reality. This concept in manufacturing transfers the visionary’s idea into a workable model or product. Theories are developed into the physical components that make the product perform its visualized purpose. The theories of car manufacturers are worked into tangible products that come off the production line as cars we enjoy without concern of the behind-the-scene process that brought it together. If the car breaks down and we take it to a mechanic who uses substitute parts for repair, it could fail to operate as originally designed. What if an incompetent mechanic decided certain parts were not needed and left them on the shop floor, returning your key to you for continuous driving? Your car would not provide the same experience as the original design. The parts left out may have been key components with seemingly insignificant value but necessary for the smooth operation of the car. Competent mechanics would not be so foolish as to leave out parts of a car designed by the manufacturer. They would get the manufacturer’s guide for the car, find out how the original design worked and put the parts in their rightful places, knowing that every part plays a role in the design of the car.

Scholars from the science and faith communities still try to figure out how the world was created and how it continues to work. There are many theories being adopted and accepted by brilliant minds and then there is God’s answer recorded for all posterity in the bible. The resounding question is what or who created the earth? Everyone examining the evidence acknowledges that it was a miraculous process that brought about life as we know it today. Some agree that there was intelligent design involved in the process rather than the common theories of evolution or spontaneous combustion. Can a car question the manufacturer’s design? Can a bird figure out who made it or why it flies? No, birds merely trust in the Maker and continue to soar. The earth is wonderfully made in such splendor and magnificence that defies our understanding. One could spend a lifetime just examining one aspect of the earth and still have merely scratched the surface of its amazing design. How then can man probe the mind of its Manufacturer or defy His design?

The bible is the manufacturer’s guide for man and the earth. It clearly states that God is the Creator. Many that have tried to redefine or defy God’s creation have long disappeared off the face of the earth but God and His word still remain the same. Biblical Job was a man of enormous wealth and wisdom. He was a devout believer, trusting in God for everything. But in a time of severe trouble, Job found himself wanting to box with God. Here is the biblical account of his encounter with God.

Job said: “Oh that I knew where I might find him! that I might come even to his seat!

I would order my cause before him, and fill my mouth with arguments.” Job 23:3-4

After Job had fully laid out his heart in debate and anger, God responded to Job. It is important here to note that God was listening. This great man of fame, wisdom, wealth and faith in God ran into his Manufacturer who demanded to know why Job dared question his maker.

Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth? declare, if thou hast understanding. Job 38:4

Moreover the LORD answered Job, and said, Shall he that contendeth with the Almighty instruct him? he that reproveth God, let him answer it. Then Job answered the LORD, and said, Behold, I am vile; what shall I answer thee? I will lay mine hand upon my mouth. Once have I spoken; but I will not answer: yea, twice; but I will proceed no further. Then answered the LORD unto Job out of the whirlwind, and said, Gird up thy loins now like a man: I will demand of thee, and declare thou unto me. Wilt thou also disannul my judgment? wilt thou condemn me, that thou mayest be righteous? Job 40:1-8

There are people today that are politicians, actors, preachers, scientists, educators, the wealthy, etc. who like Job want to challenge the wisdom of God. They would be wise to read of those who came before them that had similar desires and consider their end.

Not only are there individuals today that want to box with God but the nation of America as a whole has decided to box with God. It goes without saying that the battle is futile but we all have our times when we challenge boundaries. What would be of little impact for one person who wanted to challenge God, nevertheless, would be devastating if a nation took this destructive path. God allows some who insist on their own way to have it until it devours them. Paul called it a reprobate mind in Romans 1:28.

If God is indeed the maker of man and the earth, as the bible states, would He not respond to those that question Him as Job did? God beacons: Come and let us reason together? (Isa 1:18) The maker of an item always provides rules for the smooth and successful operation of its product. God provided rules as well for the successful life of man. These rules were clearly laid out in Deuteronomy 28 for the Israelites that Moses led. The Ten Commandments given by God to Moses for the children of Israel was to show them their sinful ways and their need for a Savior. The wages of sin is still death but Christ, the Savior, came and bore that punishment for all who put their trust in His sacrificial death. God, like any manufacturer of a product, provides His assistance and warnings for misuse of the product. Continuous misuse of an item’s intended purpose brings its own destruction in due time.

America was birthed through the miraculous hand of God as He moved upon God-fearing men and women to bring about development of this nation. Christian faith led many religious denominations and many with faith in God to work together in building a nation where all men could live under God. We have seen the wonderful results of those before us who worked together for the good of the nation. America has prevailed through many internal and external struggles because of Christian virtue in its people. God honored their faith even when they struggled through many opinions to find the right path. Christianity prevailed as an anchor to hold this nation together but yet some now feel that it is no longer needed. Some that have failed to reach their Christian goal no longer want to contend for it. There are senior leaders holding important positions where the baton should have long ago passed to younger warriors to carry on the battle. Refusal to let go of power when the flame of passion has ceased blocks the potential of others that are needed. Our society will always need elderly wisdom for experienced insight and consultation.

America has enjoyed great material success, worldly wisdom and matured to the point of reaching out to help others of lesser strength, but its worldly wisdom also reveals a spirit of arrogance that defies dependence on God. Men and women of great fame, wealth and knowledge have challenged the truth about God. Their own human abilities have risen to the place of false gods. The first of the Ten Commandments and the whole bible warn of this danger of putting God away. World and biblical history are replete with lessons that advise against this attitude.

America was founded with a deep-seated respect for God and His Son, Jesus Christ. Stories of George Washington, a general of war and the first American President, illustrate great faith and reliance on the God of the bible. Washington prayed intensely to God for direction in battle and for the young nation. History records his faith and a prophetic vision given about the nation’s future. Here is a brief summary of the message and where it can be read in its entirety:

“Son of the Republic, what you have seen is thus interpreted: Three great perils will come upon the Republic. The most fearful is the third, but in this greatest conflict the whole world united shall not prevail against her. Let every child of the Republic learn to live for his God, his land and the Union.” (http://www.ushistory.org/valleyforge/washington/vision.html)

The graduation of the nation of America to maturity should cause it to look back and honor the God who brought it through many struggles to its present success. However, disrespect of one’s maker does not entitle one to continuous blessings.

We have seen moral decline of Christian leadership in America as well as a general disrespect of Christian principles. Christian churches have refused to stand up for Christ and His ways and the nation is suffering as a result. Professing Christians have given over the reins of leadership to non-Christians who use worldly wisdom to lead while Christians have lain back to enjoy their rest and prosperity. Many believers have not been properly taught how to live the Christian life and serve the Lord. Too many have been led by institution-taught pastors with little true experience with Christ. Lack of true Christian leadership has brought us to a deteriorating nation, where sinful ways are dominating. Abrupt changes and deterioration have caused the ungodly to not only advance but also to disfavor and discredit the Christian faith that laid the foundation of the nation. Christians have only a short time to arise and turn things around before the nation lose the strength of Christian leadership forever.   Other nations have traveled a similar path where turnaround is not possible unless God sends a Christian revival. Many now are hearing the trumpets of impending danger but have not gathered the strength to reverse their direction. God said: “I will get me unto the great men, and will speak unto them; for they have known the way of the Lord, and the judgment of their God…” But before finishing this proposition, He offers: “but these have altogether broken the yoke, and burst the bonds (Jeremiah 5:5).”

Christian virtue has always caused people to walk in a godly way that respect others. America has prospered because she fought wars to uphold the weak and disadvantaged within its borders and without. Christ taught a principle of giving, where those who had plenty reached back to help those that did not. This principle of reciprocity blessed the nation during past years. Failure to continue in godly principles causes a nation to decline. Where Christianity has always promoted care and love for ones neighbor, the desire for wealth has led to greed where people connive and oppress others. The life lesson of wealthy Americans who failed due to corrupt ways has somehow escaped their knowledge. There are many stories of men of great wealth who had terrible results in their end.

America is experiencing a time where the wealthy are using any means necessary to gain more and the oppression of the weak is of no consequence to them. Ironically, Americans marvel at similar oppression used by those in foreign nations. But these types of situations cause the intervention of God to move on behalf of the oppressed. His defense of the oppressed comes at the detriment of the oppressors. It will affect all as God brings His correction. The Christian way of life laid the foundation for America and is the source of the American creed: “that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness…” Failure to maintain the Christian way and this solemn agreement before God will bring the consequences spelled out in Deuteronomy 28.

God’s call is for the Christian community to stand up and bring correction before He steps in with a radical correction that would cause many to suffer. The hearts of the wicked and unbelievers can be changed with the intercession of the Christian community if God’s people would arise and do the job they are called to do as Christian believers. “And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature (Mark 16:15).” Correction of the wicked will without a doubt include some who are professing to be Christians but who in reality are not. God is calling for us all to consider our ways and make sure we are walking in obedience before He comes to settle the issue of disobedience. God, the Father as our Maker, paid the ultimate price of the sacrifice of His own Son to provide mercy and forgiveness for every lost individual. God sent Christ so that mankind could know the Way that brings life, liberty and His great joy.

George Washington: “I am sure that never was a people, who had more reason to acknowledge a Divine interposition in their affairs, than those of the United States; and I should be pained to believe that they have forgotten that agency, which was so often manifested during our Revolution, or that they failed to consider the omnipotence of that God who is alone able to protect them.”

Let’s remember the history of America and have a Happy Independence Day this 4th of July.

Thanksgiving

The Thanksgiving holiday is a time for all Americans to give thanks to God. Most Americans will celebrate it with their own traditions. It is a day when people gather with their loved ones and reflect on how thankful they are for their good fortune over the past year. Thanksgiving Day traditions have departed from some of its true meanings in a similar manner to some other holidays that have given over to popular practices of celebrations like Black Friday shopping sprees, consumption of foods, parades and of course, football games with beer. Sunday church sermons, no doubt, still remind all of us to be thankful for our blessings.

The original meaning of the Thanksgiving holiday was a time to be thank God and remember with gratitude the kindness of the Indians that saved the first pilgrims from starvation as they sought to occupy the new land discovered by Christopher Columbus. The pilgrims were dying of disease and starvation but the Native American Indians that occupied the land showed them how to plant food for survival. The pilgrims and the Indians celebrated the success of their collaboration with a festive dinner together that is remembered centuries later in our present day Thanksgiving Holiday. As this holiday has progressed through the centuries, the part that is seldom mentioned in public is the role of the Indians. It was the generosity of the Indians that saved the pilgrims who survived to start this powerful nation.

“All the summer there was no want; and now began to come in store of fowl, as winter approached, of which is place did abound when they came first (but afterward decreased by degrees). And besides waterfowl there was great store of wild turkeys, of which they took many, besides venison, etc. Besides, they had about a peck a meal a week to a person, or now since harvest, Indian corn to that proportion. Which made many afterwards write so largely of their plenty here to their friends in England, which were not feigned but true reports. (William Bradford, Of Plymouth Plantation: S.E. Morison, ed. Knopf. N.Y., 1952. p 90)

Forgotten also is the fact that the generosity of the Indians was repaid by being pushed off their land and onto reservations where many died of starvation and disease. It is amazing how our nation has selective memories of it history and promotes only that which reflect well on it. Does anyone care how the Indians feel about this day of celebration?

“Not everyone sees Thanksgiving Day as a cause for celebration. Each year since 1970, a group of Native Americans and their supporters have staged a protest for a National Day of Mourning at Plymouth Rock in Plymouth, Massachusetts on Thanksgiving Day. American Indian Heritage Day is also observed at this time of the year.” (http://www.timeanddate.com/holidays/us/thanksgiving-day)
America has much to be thankful for and should rightly thank God for its success in the world. God, however, “…desirest truth in the inward parts (Ps 51:6).” Not only has America downgraded thankfulness owed to God in the Thanksgiving holiday but the nation seems to have also forgotten that there were many others that played a major role in the development of the nation. It is ironic that this nation, which was settled by European immigrants, has frown on Native American Indians, immigrants from other nations as well as the rights of other non-Caucasian people in America and particularly those of African descent that were brought here, not by choice but by force. Many groups of people that were oppressed during these first centuries also celebrate Thanksgiving as an American tradition. It is well to celebrate one’s good fortune but it is a shame to be so disingenuous as to sanitize history with only selective facts.

There have been many nations that rose to great success in the world but there is a Great Eternal Force that has seen nations come and nations go. There is a Sovereign God who promotes nations for His glory. Those nations that are true to God are blessed of Him to enjoy longevity and success.

Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD; and the people whom he hath chosen for his own inheritance. Psa 33:12

The LORD executeth righteousness and judgment for all that are oppressed. Psa 103:6

God, however, remembers the past and works on behalf of the downcasts that have been overlooked or pushed aside by the mighty, as He did in assisting the first American settlers that were the outcasts of Europe. God is a God of truth who reveals hidden things and brings them to the light. God’s purpose in having the Israelites set up monuments and holy days was that they would not forget their history or indebtedness to God and others that help them gain victory. God has a way of bringing us back to remembrance of those things that have been covered over, hidden or pushed aside.

Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord come, who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts: and then shall every man have praise of God. Co 4:5

The nation of America is now experiencing a time when it is being brought back into remembrance of past sins and wounds that have not healed. America loves it present success and does not want to be brought into remembrance of darker days. But God does remember those dark days and those oppressed by the strong. He has planned for all people to be brought into the His bountiful blessings. The powerful never want to relinquish its power but the oppressed have a right to turn to and make a demand on God for restitution and restoration. Being a just God sitting in judgment over all people, He will always bring forth righteousness.

It is at times like the Thanksgiving holiday that people should be brought into remembrance of history and the true meaning of a holiday or holy day. Thankfulness is a natural outcome of performing labor and receiving its benefits. But unrighteous rewards never give peace. Those that choose to forget the history behind holidays need to be reminded of their true meaning. It was God that set aside times and monuments to bring people back into remembrance of past events so that we could walk in truth rather than hypocrisy.

Tell ye your children of it, and let your children tell their children, and their children another generation. Joe 1:3

And it shall come to pass, when your children shall say unto you, What mean ye by this service? That ye shall say, It is the sacrifice of the LORD’S passover, who passed over the houses of the children of Israel in Egypt, when he smote the Egyptians, and delivered our houses. And the people bowed the head and worshipped. Ex 12:26 -27

It is important to have a day where we reflect back and are thankful for our good fortune, but let’s not forget the God who made it possible and to do it in truth and sincerity. Part of America’s Thanksgiving celebration is the practice of providing for the poor and needy on this day. But God will greatly bless America is she reflects on the truth of why America enjoys its good fortune and recognize all those who helped make it possible.

Father God, help us to be truly thankful for all your goodness towards us. Remind us to show our thankfulness through the deeds we do for others. Preserve and keep us in health, provisions and peace for the days to come. These blessings we ask the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.