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*** Published with permission

 

The Voice: Who Are You Listening To?

“Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; speaking lies in hypocrisy, having their conscience seared with a hot iron…” I Timothy 4:1& 2

Many are hearing a voice today that they believe is God. This voice comes as a “still small voice”, an audible voice, an “inner” voice, or a feeling/impression that is referred to as God’s voice or the voice of the Holy Spirit.

For some, the voice comes out of “nowhere”. They just hear it in an almost audible, but rather “inner” capacity. Some refer to it as “in their spirit”. For many others, the hearing of this voice comes through a learned system and practice/meditation in order to be trained to hear the voice. Are these voices, God, or something else?

What if the voice tells you one thing, but tells someone else the opposite relating to the same thing? Or what if the voice predicts something but it does not come true? Does that make the voice false? Can it really be God?

The defining “test” that is given by those who hear the voice is that the voice, if it is of God, does not contradict Scripture. Is this a fair “test”? How does one define if the voice is contradicting Scripture or not? Are there guidelines for knowing how to measure it? Can someone be in error even if the voice does not contradict Scripture? If what the voice says can be found in Scripture, then what is the point of the voice? What about when satan tempted Jesus Christ? Did he not quote Scripture? Was it validly applied? What about Eve? She heard the voice of God, yet satan tricked her subtlety by repeating almost what God said in question form with a subtle twist. Can we be tricked as well? “The heart is deceitful above all else . . ., Jeremiah 17:9 tells us. Are we really only hearing what we want to hear and the inner “voice” complies?

What is the huge push to hear the voice of God that people pursue it with such fervor, as if God will be obedient to man’s ploys and pleadings? Where does this concept come from and who is teaching it that the mass of Christianity is clawing to hear a voice and experience “God” in a deeper, ethereal, ultra spiritual way? Does the Holy Spirit need to “speak verbally” in order for us to know what God wants of us and to “lead and guide us into all truth”? Do we really need the kind of direction that is so heavily promoted by the teachers of this greater truth – that any Christian can actually hear God’s voice and must hear it to know Him and His will?

There appears to be two venues through which this teaching comes. One is the Faith Movement – perhaps better known as the Charismatic/Pentecostal movement including the Assemblies of God, Four Square Gospel, Full Gospel, Apostolic, Latter Rain, Prophetic Movement, Dominion Movement, Kingdom Now Movement, etc churches and denominations. The other is through the contemplative movement which has been introduced to Christianity at large, although the Faith Movement is also contemplative in its foundational groundings.

Both venues are based in the same mysticism which can be traced back to “ancient mystics” – nuns, priests, and monks who believed and practiced meditation rights and liturgies to “find God”. This also included mazes and labyrinths, etc. The emergent church movement openly teaches this kind of “meditation”, while the Faith movement hides this mysticism in the practice of the “manifestations of the Holy Spirit” as the “gifts of the Holy Spirit”. These practices cross back and forth between the two venues, but are brought to fruition from a little different perspective. The results are the same: the need to hear the voice.

What is the appeal to hear the voice? I believe it comes through the desire to reach into a “deep” place where God is supposedly found, outside of our rationale and into a spiritual realm that is beyond human understanding. Because of my past personal experience with the voice, I found the following explanation most interesting and revealing, and immediately related to it:

Quote [with the author’s permission – Gary Gilley]:

“The journey to mystical experience, almost universally, involves three stages: purgation, illumination and union.”

Purgation:
“Purgation is the cleansing stage which begins with self-examination and penitence and leads to a holy life … and involves detachment from the things of the world including material and physical desires; and mortification, the building of new paths to replace the old ones now rejected.”

Illumination:
“The illumination stage is when the mystic begins to experience inner voices and visions. The goal of illumination is to know genuine spiritual truth, but such truth cannot be found in conventional or even rational ways … and feel their thoughts and mental impressions can be explained as the inner voice of God. The true mystic has come to the conclusion that the secret and “deep” things of God cannot be understood rationally. They can only be understood through the experience of illumination. The means by which mystics achieved illumination was through fasting, long seasons of specialized prayers known as contemplative prayers and by following various spiritual disciplines of which the best known today were designed by the Catholic monk and founder of the Jesuits, Ignatius Loyola. As we will see later, it is upon Ignatius’ “Spiritual Exercises” that Richard Foster patterns his famous book, The Celebration of Discipline [Mr. Foster also promotes the “dark night of the soul” that was first noted by John of the Cross during the 16th century] .

Union:
“The ultimate goal of the mystic is unmediated union with God. This point, at which the soul attains oneness with God … The ancient mystics would frame this experience in romantic, even sensual terms. John of the Cross “describes the union in terms of spiritual betrothal, where the soul, conceived of as feminine, is married to Christ as the bridegroom. Bernard of Clairvaux (12th-century), who managed to turn the Song of Solomon into an erotic love story between God and man, described this moment of union as the time when the believer is “kissed with the kisses of His mouth.”[10] Similar depictions are common in mystical literature.”

“In other words, the mystic has no confidence in human knowledge accessible through normal means such as the propositional revelation of God (Scripture). If we are to know God, it must come from a mystical union with Him that transcends the rational thought process or even normal sensory experience. This takes place through [the above] three stages of purgation, illumination and union; implementing the spiritual disciplines and most importantly, practicing contemplative prayer.” 1

 

That mystical system is the base through which all teachings and literature pertains to the practice of meditative processing to hear the voice of God as it was done in ancient times of the past, and how it is applied today.

Although there seems to be a group of people who hear the voice without the meditative process [as I experienced at first], I believe that the “spirit of the thing” is the same. It is still a desire to hear God physically so that one feels nearer to God. From my perspective that presents two overall issues across the board. First of all, lack of faith that God can lead and direct us without special revelation or that He needs to interact with us experientially through a voice and secondly, that the Scriptures are not preeminent, but supplemental to the voice.

Going back into church history, the writings of the great mystics of the Catholic Church are now being offered as “new” and “spiritual” compared to the “dryness” of the church at large. It is this push to revive the “ancients” as having a better perspective that has appealed to people, as a multitude of modern day “gurus” are pushing something that is centuries old. As Solomon said, “The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun (Ecclesiastes 1:9).

What is this “new” mystical approach to God? Quoting again from Gary Gilley’s article:

Quote:
“Roman Catholic monk, William Johnston describes the mystical process this way, ‘In this mystical life one passes from one layer to the next in an inner or downward journey to the core of the personality where dwells the great mystery called God.’[12]
“Other well-known mystics, holding to these or similar views, throughout church history include: Meister Eckhart, Juliana of Norwich, Thomas à Kempis, Teresa of Ávila, Evelyn Underhill, St. Francis of Assisi, Madam Guyon, George Fox, Thomas Merton and Agnes Sanford. Modern mystics of import include Dallas Willard, Brennan Manning and most importantly, Richard Foster . . . As a result classical, Medieval Roman Catholic mysticism has been dusted off and offered as the newest and best thing in spirituality.” 2

I would also add to the list Brother Lawrence’s “Practicing the Presence of God” (1600s) and Hanna Whithall Smith’s “The Christian’s Secret of a Happy Life” (1875). Brother Lawrence was a monk who believed one must practice the presence of God 24/7. Hanna Smith was part of the holiness movement and believed one could reach sinless perfection [the Holiness Movement which held this main theology and is still taught in much of the Charismatic venue]. Both books are extensively used within the Christian community and Charismatic specifically.

If this mystic contemplative approach to hear God’s voice is correct, then where is it found in the Bible? Did God miss the opportunity to show us a better way to hear from Him? Why would He trust Catholic mystic ancients with this “hidden” truth and then suddenly spring it on us at this late date as an afterthought of truth?

The Scriptures tell us something different in many texts. Here is an example:
2 Timothy 3:15 And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. 16 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: 17 That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.

Who is teaching this “ancient” mystical process to hear God’s voice currently?

These quotes from teachers in many Christian venues across the scope of “normative Christianity”, as well as the Faith Movement, show the pattern. Also included are some of the “ancient mystics” so you can see for yourself how intertwined these teachings are.

Richard J Foster [Quaker; Renovare`; Celebration of Discipline, a book about how to mystically meditate on God by using the contemplative prayer process]

Rick Warren [Saddleback Church (Emergent); Purpose Driven Life teachings]
From his article: Receiving Guidance From God – Learning to Hear God’s Voice – Part 4 of 4 [my comments within the starred portions *]:

“”The fact is God does speak to people today. We’ve been looking in this series about Learning to Hear God’s Voice . . . God is more willing to talk to you than you are willing to talk to Him.
“I’m going to get alone, get off by myself, eliminate external distractions so I can hear God speak. Find a quiet place alone . . . One of the reasons why you don’t hear God speak to you more is because you are surrounded by noise . . . So you can’t hear the still small voice of God . . . Get alone, removing every external distraction possible . . . You need to quiet yourself down . . . Hurry is the death of prayer . . . When your mind starts moving from subject to subject you can’t hear God . . . I just stop and write it down and go back, pray some more and something else comes up, I stop and I write it down . . . The next voice you usually hear is your conscious . . . That is not the voice of God . . . He wants to love you . . . Relax your body . . . Wait in silence . . . God speaks to people who take the time to listen . . . put on a praise tape, some slow Christian music . . . Once your body is still and once your mind is quiet then you become sensitive to hearing God speak. Inner calm opens the intercom to God and you can hear Him.”

***At this point Rick interjects this argument:*** “Some of you are saying, this sounds like TM — transcendental meditation. It’s the exact opposite of transcendental meditation [TM]. TM and humanist meditation says you want to make your mind go blank. That’s the goal of it. The goal of prayer is not to make your mind go blank. The goal of prayer is to hear — tune in — to the voice of God so you can talk to Him and He can talk to you. Withdraw and then wait.” — *** What Rick has described is exactly “TM”. Quieting your mind is TM. The point, as Rick shows, is to empty your mind of thoughts and concentrate on God in order to allow Him to speak, this is a form of “TM”.***

Continuing with his “instructions”:

” . . . God often wants to speak through a mental picture . . . It’s the primary way God contacts people — through impressions in your mind. He gives you a mental picture or image or vision inside your head . . . This is the number one way God speaks to people, by giving them a mental picture . . . Some of you are saying, “I thought visualizing was New Age.” [*** that’s because it is!!! > > > ***] . . . You can develop the ability to see with your spiritual eyes if you’ll practice and let God work on it in your life. You can train yourself . . . “Jesus, is there anything You want to show me? Do You want to give me an idea, an impression?” . . . Many of you, your prayer life has got in a rut — . . . and a routine . . . Write out your prayers as you think them . . .You ask, Is it ok to write while you’re praying? Of course. How do you think we got the Bible? . . . godly men and women were praying and talking to God and when God talked back to them, they wrote it down [*** They didn’t pray and then write down whatever came to mind!!! And no women authored any book of the Bible!!***] . . . The Bible says real clearly that not very idea you get is from God. Some of them are from the devil [***???***] . . . but you don’t want to go testing and analyzing your prayers while you’re praying. That ruins the whole spirit of the thing. So you just pray and receive what God wants to say to you, you write it down, and later you can go back and test it and look at it . . . When you have received God’s loving response, you’ve asked a question and you’ve heard an answer in your mind and you write it down, it’s going to make you want to love the Lord more and draw you closer. This turns prayer from a monologue into a dialogue, a conversation . . . If you’ll practice these and begin to develop them in your life, more times than not, God will talk to you.”

*** Rick was bored with prayer before he took a mystic approach:*** “I was bored to death with prayer until I learned how to do this. It was like talking to a brick wall. I never expected an answer. I never expected to hear from God. It was just me talking. It didn’t matter if anyone was there or not. I don’t like to just talk to myself. But once I realized that God does want to have a conversation with me — we talk about Jesus wanting to have a relationships, you can’t have a relationship without people talking. If you do all the talking, you don’t have a relationship. But you’ve got to take these steps and make time.”

Charles Stanley [First Baptist Church Atlanta; TV/website: In Touch Ministries] quotes: “The essence of meditation is a period of time set aside to contemplate the Lord, listen to Him, and allow Him to permeate our spirits.” . . . “Since God knows our future, our personalities, and our capacity to listen, He isn’t ever going to say more to us than we can deal with at the moment.”

Billy Graham [Southern Baptist Church; Billy Graham Evangelistic Association]

Endorses Loren Cunningham’s Book, Is That Really You, God?: Hearing the Voice of God . Product description: “This practical guide to hearing God’s voice shows how an ordinary man who committed to hearing God and obeying Him . . .”

Promotes Henry Blackaby’s book, Listening for the Voice of God. Product description: “Few of us have the option of direct conversation with God as Moses did. God speaks to each of us in ways that are personal and unique. “Ordinary” people who are ready to listen are sometimes led to do “extraordinary” things. Gain valuable insight on ways to “hear” and discern God’s voice, identify ways He speaks and respond to revelations of His will.”

David Wilkerson [Times Square Church (Charismatic, Prophetic); Cross and the Switchblade; Hungry for More of Jesus: Experiencing His Presence in These Troubled Times]
From his article: “Hearing the Voice of God!” October 17, 1988

“One of the greatest blessings a true believer has is to hear and know the voice of God. It is possible to hear God’s voice today as certainly and clearly as did Abraham and Moses – as clearly as did Samuel and David – as clearly as did Paul, Peter, the apostles, and John on the isle of Patmos! God has promised to make His voice clearly known for one last time during these end days . . . God is going to bring together a holy, separated remnant into spiritual Zion and make His voice known to them.”

“God speaks to them clearly and certainly, and they live by His voice! They are directed by His voice, comforted by His voice, guided in all things by His voice! This is the one great characteristic of a holy people: They are not mistaken about God’s voice. They know it – they hear it – they are governed by it. It is sure, steadfast, and unmistakable!”

“God’s voice is heard only by those shut up with Him is secret prayer. God is very careful to whom He speaks. It is only to those who value His voice so much they shut the whole world out to get alone and wait for Him.”

” . . . unless it [voice] was born in the secret closet, out of a deep communion, a broken spirit, and much time spent alone in His presence. I am convinced that all God’s people would be able to hear His still, small voice if they simply would lay down sin, idols, and would get shut in with Him alone – and not leave until He speaks!”

IHOP [International House of Prayer/Kansas City Prophets][Charismatic/Word of Faith]

Taken from their website: Practical Prophetic Hearing Intensive (March 11–13, 2010)

Quote: “Do you long to hear God’s voice? Can you discern the Lord’s voice from other voices? Do you need to learn how to receive guidance from Him? This three-day retreat will give you practical ways to develop an ear to hear His voice in the midst of busy, everyday life. Attendees will receive a workbook of prayer tools designed to be personalized for individual needs. Each attendee will also receive the book, Marketplace Christianity.

Topics covered include:
• 17 Ways to Hear God
• Hindrances to Hearing God
• Understanding How the Prophetic Works
• How to Process the Prophetic
• Discerning God’s Voice
• Supernatural Wisdom ”

Cindy Jacobs [Charismatic/Word of Faith; Prophet] Book: Voice of God: How God Speaks Personally and Corporately to His Children Today. Product description: ” The first half of the book concentrates on the individual: learning to hear the voice of God, preparation for the prophetic gifts, prayer and devotional life;”

Becky Tirabassi [Rock Harbor Church (Emergent); Ministry: Change Your Life]
Bestselling author of Let Prayer Change Your Life] Product description: Becky Tirabassi shares that it really is possible to hear from God. Most Christians long for a closer connection with God–to talk to Him and hear His voice. They believe He wants to guide their lives, but get discouraged when He seems far away and silent. Becky Tirabassi encourages readers that God wants to talk to them, and shows them how to recognize His voice. She invites readers to connect with God in a two-way conversation that will satisfy the longing of their souls to know Him and be loved by Him.
William Branham [Charismatic/Pentecostal Preacher/Healer] “That if we would pray and pray until our soul comes into the Presence of God, and then just relax and listen to His voice . . . Men and women who will hear the voice of God, God still waits to speak to every individual that’ll open their ears to hear God’s voice . . . Jesus Christ is still willing to speak that still small voice to anybody that’ll listen for Him. He’s still ready to do it if we’d just quieten ourself.”

Thelma Wells [Lancaster First Baptist Church; Ministry/Website: A Woman of God Ministries; featured on the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association’s international television special during the month of January 2007] quote: “by spending time praying to Him; by spending time praising Him and asking Him to speak to us. Then, we need to listen. God’s voice is seldom loud or interfering. His voice is quiet, simple, to the point and few words . . . You’ll know it is His voice because you will have a sense of peace that comforts you, the power of confidence that builds you up and a depth of joy that seems unreal to the human spirit but so real to your inner-person.

Thomas a` Kempis [Catholic Monk -1380-1471AD; book: Of The Imitation of Christ]

Product description from the back cover: “The Joy of Being Like Christ [headline]As Thomas Kempis, a serene and devoted man of God, walked in the Lord’s presence, he discovered priceless steps to becoming more like Christ daily. In ‘Of the Imitation of Christ’, which has been translated into more languages than any other book except the Bible, the author presents timeless principles for living the Christian life, including how to: * Hear God’s voice* Turn adversity to good* Overcome temptation* Have perfect love* Find lasting peace*. As you read this great Christian classic, you will join the millions of believers who have been inspired to become imitators of Christ.”

Dallas Willard [The Divine Conspiracy: Rediscovering Our Hidden Life in God – received Christianity Today’s “Book of the Year” award, 1999; Hearing God: Developing a Conversational Relationship With God ] product description, Hearing God: “Being close to God means communicating with him, and this communication is a two-way street—telling him what is on our hearts in prayer and hearing and understanding what he is saying to us . . . Hearing God is but one dimension of a richly interactive relationship, and obtaining guidance is but one facet of hearing God . . . provides rich spiritual insight into how we can hear God’s voice clearly . . . becoming a responsible co-laborer with Him . . . walking so closely with him that it becomes easy to know his mind and hear his voice . . . Dr. Willard’s hope is that Hearing God will leave you with a clear sense of how to live confidently in a personal walk that is complemented by an ongoing conversational relationship with God.”

A.W. Tozer [Alliance Church; Pursuit of God and 56 other volumes] misc quotes:
“. . .The free man who has learned to hear God’s voice and dared to obey it has felt the moral burden that broke the hearts of the Old Testament prophets, crushed the soul of our Lord Jesus Christ and wrung streams of tears from the eyes of the apostles.”
“The Voice of God is a friendly Voice. No one need fear to listen to it unless he has already made up his mind to resist it… Whoever will listen will hear the speaking Heaven”.
“The only condition is that we get still enough to hear his voice and that we believe and heed what we hear . . .”

Jack Deere [Presbyterian Pastor but actually is Charismatic; former Dallas Theological Seminary (emergent) professor, now conference speaker and author] various quotes:
“In order to fulfill God’s highest purposes for our lives we must be able to hear his voice both in the written word and in the word freshly spoken from heaven. . . Satan understands the strategic importance of Christians hearing God’s voice so he has launched various attacks against us in this area. One of his most successful attacks has been to develop a doctrine that teaches God no longer speaks to us except through the written word. Ultimately, this doctrine is demonic even [though] Christian theologians have been used to perfect it.”

“God can and does give personal words of direction to believers today that cannot be found in the Bible. I do not believe that he gives direction that contradicts the Bible, but direction that cannot be found in the Bible.”

“God spoke to his children … in an audible voice . . .”

Surprised by the Voice of God – Product description: “. . . shatters the myth that God speaks today solely through the Scriptures. Jack Deere first shows the variety of ways God communicated to first-century Christians. Then he reveals why God continues to speak to us using those same methods.

Finally, Jack tells how to accurately hear God speak through prophecies, dreams, visions, and other forms of divine communication.”

Watchman Nee [House Church Movement; Converted from Buddhism which “bleeds” through his work (concepts like the inner light, inner voice, soulical realm): The Spiritual Man] various quotes:

“Spiritual life is maintained simply by heeding the direction of the spirit’s intuition. The believer will wait quietly for the voice of the Holy Spirit to be heard in his spirit, intuitively. Upon hearing the inner voice he rises up to work, obeying the direction of intuition.”
“This is because conscience, being fully under the control of the Holy Spirit, daily grows more sensitive until it is attuned perfectly to the voice of the Spirit.”

“In abiding by the spirit and listening to the voice of conscience . . .”

“In case our knowledge is inadequate and our conscience continues its censure, we must obey its voice at all cost. We should never philosophize that since this thing is not wrong according to God’s highest standard, we can do it in spite of what our conscience says.”

Oswald Chambers [Itinerant Preacher; My Utmost For His Highest ] various quotes:

“Though the Lord gave you adversity for food and suffering for drink, he will still be with you to teach you. You will see your teacher with your own eyes. Your own ears will hear him. Right behind you a voice will say, ‘This is the way you should go,’ whether to the right or to the left.”

“When any duty presents itself we hear God’s voice as Our Lord heard His Father’s voice, and we are ready for it with all the alertness of our love for Him.”

“What hinders me from hearing God’s voice is that I am taken up with other things.”

“The voice of the Spirit of God is as gentle as a summer breeze— so gentle that unless you are living in complete fellowship and oneness with God, you will never hear it. The sense of warning and restraint that the Spirit gives comes to us in the most amazingly gentle ways. And if you are not sensitive enough to detect His voice, you will quench it, and your spiritual life will be impaired. This sense of restraint will always come as a “still small voice”, so faint that no one except a saint of God will notice it.”

Rick Joyner [Charismatic/Word of Faith; MorningStar Ministries; Apostolic Ministry’ Prophetic Ministry; TheFinal Quest]

Quote: The Army of God Mobilizes, Part 7 Week 7, 2008:
“Knowing His voice and obeying, are the most basic characteristics of those who would mobilize to be a part of the army of God . . . All of God’s people need to know His voice, not just prophets, pastors, or church leaders . . . The ability to know His voice and obey Him is fundamental. If this does not compel them to get to know His voice, and always be listening for it in order to obey Him, ultimately they will be removed as they will be a danger to all. The times that we are entering will be such that it will be a life and death matter to know His voice and obey Him.”

C Peter Wagner [Charismatic/Word of Faith/Apostolic Reformation/Prophetic/Kingdom Now/Spiritual Warfar ; Global Harvest Ministries; World Prayer Center; Former professor Fuller Theological Seminary; coined the term Third Wave]

The expression “Third Wave” was coined by Christian theologian C. Peter Wagner around 1980, in his book The Third Wave of the Holy Spirit: Encountering the Power of Signs and Wonders Today, to describe what followers believe to be the recent historical work of the Holy Spirit. It’s part of a larger movement known as the Neo-Charismatic movement. The “Third Wave” involves those Christians who have received Pentecostal-like experiences . . . One of the largest groups in the Third Wave are the members of the New Apostolic Reformation.

* The First “wave” occurred at the beginning of the twentieth century with the rise of the Pentecostal movement, beginning with the Azusa Street Revival.
* The Second “wave” occurred during the 1960s as the Charismatic movement spread throughout mainline Protestant denominations, as well as the Roman Catholic Church. The Word of faith movement is also an expression of this movement.
* The Third “wave” occurred during the mid 1980s and continues today, and is associated with Wagner’s own ministry, as well as the Vineyard Movement. The Toronto blessing and Eternal Grace are also an expression of this movement.

Third Wave: “Prophecy and hearing the voice of God. The Third Wave movement affirms the ongoing direct communication of God. Not only does God still speak to people, they are literally able to hear God’s voice (sometimes referred to as receiving a “word of knowledge” or “word of wisdom” from God).”

Wagner was heavily connected with John Wimber – the originator of Vineyard Church [Charismatic].
Wagner quotes:

“Learning to hear the voice of God was a long process for me because it was such a readical departure from my past. The key question is not, ‘Does God speak to us?’ But rather, Are we listening to his voice.”

“Through the years I have received a considerable amount of valuable new revelation from God through prophets, revelation that is not to be found in the Bible.”

Brother Lawrence [(1614-1691AD) Catholic French Monk; Practice of the Presence of God ]

“[T]he 17th century [French] monk, Brother Lawrence, developed a technique–mostly through inspiration and intuition–which leads to results akin to those developed by the continued practice of either Zen or mindfulness meditation. In The Practice of the Presence of God” he wrote:

“This made me resolve to give the all for the All: so after having given myself wholly to GOD, to make all the satisfaction I could for my sins, I renounced, for the love of Him, everything that was not He; and I began to live as if there was none but He and I in the world … I worshipped Him the oftenest that I could, keeping my mind in His holy Presence, and recalling it as often as I found it wandered from Him. I found no small pain in this exercise, and yet I continued it, notwithstanding all the difficulties that occurred, without troubling or disquieting myself when my mind had wandered involuntarily. I made this my business, as much all the day long as at the appointed times of prayer; for at all times, every hour, every minute, even in the height of my business, I drove away from my mind everything that was capable of interrupting my thought of GOD. Such has been my common practice ever since I entered into religion.” — Western Mystical Traditions (Quote by Brother Lawrence from First Letter)

“It is said of Brother Lawrence that when something had taken his mind away from love’s presence he would receive “a reminder from God” that so moved his soul that he “cried out, singing and dancing violently like a mad man.” You will note that the reminders came from God and were not his own doing. (Gerald May, The Awakened Heart (New York, NY:Harper Collins, First Harper Collins Paperback Edition, 1993) p. 87, citing from The Practice of the Presence of God by Brother Lawrence, translated by John Delaney, Image Books, 1977, p. 34.)

Brother Lawrence says that secret conversations with God must be “repeat[ed] often in the day,” and “for the right practice of it, the heart must be empty of all other things.” He speaks of the trouble of wandering thoughts and says that the habit of practicing the presence of God is the “one remedy” and the “best and easiest method” he knows to dissolve distractions.

“When we come upon this word, we need to pause, look to God’s indwelling presence, and ask Him to search us and point out our faults. As God is the ‘Father of mercies’, He gives us fresh insight and allows this word to wake us out of our sleep when we ask Him. He wipes away our past transgressions when we repent and gives us His strength to move forward in our new awareness.”
Leanne Payne [ Mystic Inner Healing/Spiritual Therapist; Pastoral Care Ministries and Seminars; Listening Prayer: Learning to Hear God’s Voice and Keep a Prayer Journal; Heaven’s Calling]

From an interview:
“In an age of noise, confusion, and hurry, we often don’t hear the voice of God. But listening prayer can add a new dimension to the way ones soul comprehends the great disciplines.”

“To walk in the Spirit, listening, is to live in the present moment, looking to Christ, practicing His presence, moving in tandem with Him. It is to live from the locus of the true self as the old one is being crucified. This is the centre where we are in union with Christ, that completed self that hears and obeys God.”

Listening to God is an important part of the practice of the presence . . . I knew that if I could practice His presence and learn to listen to Him, then anybody could learn! . . . Until we start listening to God and receiving the words and the images that come from Him, then we are sick. [Interview with ChristianBook.com]

Jack Hayford [Church On The Way; Four Square Gospel Church (Charismatic) Jack Hayford Ministries]

Endorsement of Leanne Payne: “I can imagine no more spiritually sensitive teacher than Leanne Payne to prompt us on a pathway toward a more prayerfully sensitive hearing and responding to Gods voice.”

Living the Spirit Formed Life – In Part II: The First Disciple: Committing to hear God’s Voice:
“PRINCIPLE: To read and study God’s Word is to lay the foundation for all understanding and growth. However, the Bible is the living Word. It has not been given solely for information, analysis and education. God wants to speak to each one of His children in order to teach and correct, lead and direct, and keep and protect. For this to take place, vitally and “ongoingly,” believers need to learn to hear the “word” within the Word, to receive the prophetic intent of the Holy Spirit Who breathes truth into our hearts, transforming our lives.”

Henri J.M. Nouwen [1932-1966; Catholic Priest; Lived with monks; authored over 40 books]

“ . . . one of his biographers revealed that in a 1994 survey of 3,400 U.S. Protestant church leaders, Nouwen ranked second only to Billy Graham” …Ray Yungen

“And if there’s still any doubt that Nouwen is talking about a repetitive mantra derived from the Eastern religions, which fatally warped the theology of these heretical hermits he then says, “The quiet repetition of a single word can help us descend with the mind into the heart . . . It can be like a ladder along which we can descend into the heart and ascend to God.” Henri Nouwen, The Way of the Heart (New York: Ballantine Books, 1981), pgs. 64-5

“Nouwen also wrote the foreword to a book that mixes Christianity with Hindu spirituality, in which he says: ‘[T]he author shows a wonderful openness to the gifts of Buddhism, Hinduism and Muslim religion. He discovers their great wisdom for the spiritual life of the Christian …’ ”

Nouwen Quotes:
“We who have so much to do seek quiet spaces to hear your voice each day.”

“But what I would like to say is that the spiritual life is a life in which you gradually learn to listen to a voice that says something else, that says, “You are the beloved and on you my favour rests.”… I want you to hear that voice. It is not a very loud voice because it is an intimate voice. It comes from a very deep place. It is soft and gentle. I want you to gradually hear that voice. We both have to hear that voice and to claim for ourselves that that voice speaks the truth, our truth. It tells us who we are. That is where the spiritual life starts – by claiming the voice that calls us the beloved.”

“Why is it so important that you are with God and God alone on the mountain top? It’s important because it’s the place in which you can listen to the voice of the One who calls you the beloved. To pray is to listen to the One who calls you “my beloved daughter,” “my beloved son,” “my beloved child.” To pray is to let that voice speak to the centre of your being, to your guts, and let that voice resound in your whole being.”

Benny Hinn [Charismatic/Word of Faith Healer/Prophet TV personality Miracle Crusades; Benny Hinn Ministries; false prophecies; Good Morning Holy Spirit ]

Quote:
“There are no shortcuts. You have to go through the process. You have to come to the outer court and get on your knees, making your requests known to God in the first realm. It is easy to get distracted in the outer court because there is so much activity. The flesh is still in control. You get tired and worn out. You cannot hear God’s voice there, so it gets easy to give up.”

A commentary on Good Morning Holy Spirit – “How to recognize the voice of the Holy Spirit.”

“Benny makes no bones about the importance and significance of his spiritual experiences. He writes, “A man with an experience is never at the mercy of a man with an argument” (p.98). Later in the book he writes of an experience where he weeps for “more than three weeks” (p.150). Strewn throughout the book are his constant references to “feeling” the Holy Spirit; experiencing what feels like “jolts of electricity” or “a blanket of warmth” (p.110). In fact, Benny is so hung up on experiences that, like a drug addict who must ever increase his dosage to maintain his high, Benny must always intensify his experience. At one point in the book, he asks, “Is that all there is?” (p.109). This focus on sensational experiences puts Benny in the dangerous position where his spiritual experiences must intensify at expense of the truth. In other words, Benny generally does not encourage his readers to seek to grow in personal holiness and in their understanding of the truth. Instead he encourages them–by his own example–to primarily seek temporary sensational experiences. ”

“Instead of guiding us to seek direction from Scripture, he asks us to be ready to receive personal, direct revelation from the Holy Spirit in the form of an inner voice. Though Protestants have been very open to this teaching lately, it must be noted that this idea radically denies the sufficiency of the Scriptures in all matters of faith and conduct. Scripture is our guide. The Holy Spirit uses Scripture and applies it to our life to guide us. An inner voice from inside is too vague and too prone to stem from our own desires and lusts and therefore must be questioned as a source to guide us. But not for Benny. He writes, “During a church building program I was asked, ‘How do you know you’re doing the right thing?’ The answer was the same as if I’d been asked about my salvation. ‘I know that I know, that I know, that I know.’ The Lord, through the Holy Spirit, told me to start building. Every decision in my life is based on that same inner voice” (p.76).

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There are hundreds of more quotes. You can see the common thread that permeates every facet of Christianity. The Internet is filled with websites promoting teachers, authors, and mystics from every venue of the Church as well; promoting hearing a voice that they define as “God” or “the god within”. Bookshelves are overloaded with authors all pushing their way into our lives explaining the “God within” and how to “get in touch with it” and to “communicate with it”, in both secular and Christian bookstores. The most notable fact is the presence of the voice outside of Christian circles comes through the identical practices and meditative processes as in the psychic venue.

The historical background of the Pentecostal Movement weaves into the Charismatic movement. Although “classical Pentecostals” do not like to refer to themselves as Charismatic, it is difficult to separate the beliefs and practices from each other. The unique emphasis on both is that faith is a force of power by which the gifts of the Spirit are fully engaged, through the “baptism of the Holy Spirit”. This distinctive follows every segment of the movement, which is often referred to as the Charismatic or the Faith Movement as I will refer to it.

It is through the Faith Movement that the voice teaching is hyper sensationalized due to the prolific “gifts” of tongues, dreams, visions, interpretations, words of wisdom and knowledge and prophetic “words from the Lord”. The prophetic and apostolic offices have monopolized Christendom, currently, with the voice mantra and special revelations directly from the “mouth of God”. The Internet is swamped with websites all proclaiming these revelations given through prophetic dreams, visions, and “words” as well as the churches throughout the Faith Movement venue, all due to the desirability and operation of the voice. These websites all have their own “store” to purchase the “latest and the greatest” revelations.

2 Peter 2:1 But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction. 2 And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of. 3 ***And through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you:*** whose judgment now of a long time lingereth not, and their damnation slumbereth not.

Going back into the roots of the Pentecostal Movement

The Pentecostal Movement helps give clarity in understanding the foundation which is based in mystic, occult concepts and practices. Although Pentecostalism and the Faith Movement concentrate on the gifts of the spirit, especially the practice of tongues, the voice behind the ability is the motivator. Without the voice, the prophetic and the ability to work in the gifts are useless.
Charles Parham is considered by most to be the “Father of Pentecostalism”. In 1900 Parham started a “school” in Topeka that was in an abandoned castle called Stones Folly. There, he and about 40 students and their families lived. They set up two of the towers as their prayer towers and prayed 24 hours a day. Living conditions were harsh. While Parham was gone on a trip he encouraged his students to search the Scriptures for evidence of the Holy Spirit and upon his return was told by them that it was speaking in tongues. They began to seek God for this experience. The first to receive the “second blessing” was Agnes Ozman who began speaking in tongues after praying for several weeks. 3 In other words, the experience was achieved through man’s motivation and “revelation”, and not by God.

Besides the Latter Rain Second Blessing teachings, Parham’s belief system, which blends Quakerism and the Holiness Movement into the mystic “inner light”, fuels all of his teachings. These teachings have been funneled into all Pentecostal/Charismatic venues and are the base for an understanding of the mysticism of the voice. 4

Parham’s “mentor” was David Baker [His wife, Sarah’s grandfather], who was a Quaker. In a biography of Charles Parham, written by his wife, Sarah; Parham said of Quakers “. . .These people have reached an elevated plane in Christian experience . . .” 5

According to Encarta and the Encyclopedia Britannica, the Quaker movement began with George Fox who taught the “Christ within” which later developed into the “inner light”. Their beliefs included:

* Divine revelation is immediate and individual, called “inner light” or “Inward Light”.
* This “inner/Inward Light” is referred to as the “God found in every man”, and is the direct awareness of God that allows God’s will to be known personally.
* All persons may perceive the word of God in their soul.
* Worship is based on silence. 6

The Quakers were also heavily influenced by pantheism, the occult, fundamentalists, quietist seekers, anti antinomian Ranters, theocratic militants; which were in turn influenced by English lollards, European Anabaptist Mennonites, and by mystics like Jakob Boehme. Boehme’s philosophy was the “cosmic consciousness” in which one is raised above himself in immediate relationship with “God”, partaking of “Divinity” – a mystic process to experience direct conscious union with the “Absolute, Divine Mind, Univeral Intelligence” [“‘God’ of the heart”] through the five senses, intuition, visualization, and healing techniques. The “nature” of this deity is not defined – in other words, it is not the Almighty God of the Bible. Jacob Boehme, also heard the voice – a spirit guide named Nirmanakayas, who watched over and guided him. 7

The definition of a spirit guide as given by secular sources: “A spirit guide is meant to advise you and lead you on your life path. These spirits are with everyone and are there for your own good and will never give you “bad” advice. Unfortunately most people cannot hear their guides.”
“Spirit guide” is a term used by the Western tradition of Spiritualist Churches, mediums, and psychics to describe an entity that remains a disincarnate spirit in order to act as a guide or protector to a living incarnated human being.”

“A spiritual entity who teaches a medium or channel and who guides them in their spiritual work.” 8
This system of “guidance” is identical to how people understand hearing the voice no matter what venue. It is their “spiritual guide”. According to Jesus Christ, to be led by the Holy Spirit is not by a voice, but to bring through our “remembrance” or our memory – which is based on what we have *read* in His written Word.

John 14:26 But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.

* Note that Jesus said, what He *has said* – past tense.

The search for experimentalism, no matter what form, has overtaken much of Christianity for those who are seeking after hearing from God personally through a voice.

The Quakers were also affected by other false theologies – the denial of the Deity of Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit as the “divine energy”, and quietism – a mystic communion with God that comes from a state of quiet which is practiced by Hindu philosophy and Sufism. Quietism also allows the passive state of the soul to be absorbed by the divine spirit so that it pours down, and the annihilation of the will. Quakers also preferred personal revelation and experience over Biblical authority, which we also find within the Faith Movement.

Quakerism was also marked with trances, shaking, tongues, visions, etc. and assimilated within the Faith Movement. Maria Woodworth-Etter of the Holiness Movement introduced being “slain in the spirit” when her followers would fall back in a trance, contortions of the face and body, trembling, laughter, etc. All marks of the Faith Movement. 10

The influences of these teachings, doctrines and philosophies intersect and weave throughout a host of authors and teachers of mysticism, both in the church and from without. Many of these teachers are occultists who once entering the cosmic conscious experienced being immersed in rose colored clouds, overwhelming joy, and illuminations/revelations of the world. These ethereal sensations are experienced by those in the Faith Movement as well – pointing to the fire and other manifestations which are experienced with the Kundalini power [serpent power at the base of the backbone and up to the mind], Toronto Blessing, Azusa Street, Brownsville, Keswick, Fire/Holiness movements, Freemasonry, kabbalah, Rosicrucian, Golden Dawn, and sorcery. 11

All of the Quaker/Boehme/mystic/occult plethora of unscriptural concepts are the background of what Charles Parham believed and influenced his teachings. On top of that, Parham was a KKK member, a free mason, taught experimental salvation and the two seed theory of the Christian Identity movement [whites are the superior race], etc. 12 Parham’s theological roots also came from Frank Sanford, John Alexander Dowie, John G Lake, John Irving, John Wesley, John Nelson Darby, and others. 13 Parham founded the Church of God in Christ [inc. Black Pentecostals], Assemblies of God, United Pentecostal Church, Unitarian Pentecostal Church, Unitarian Pentecostal Church of God, and The International Church of the Foursquare Gospel. 14 This is the tangled weave that forms the checkered tattered quilt of the Faith Movement.

A moderate progression of the Pentecostal/Charismatic Movement shows a trail from Charles Parham all the way foreward towards today’s most “notable” gurus in the Faith Movement. Parham > Ozman > William Seymour [Parham’s student] > Azuza Street. The Azusa Street Revival became the raging fire that spread throughout the world. For this, we can thank Charles Parham.

Quote:
“Seymour and his followers concluded that they held centre stage in God’s plan for the last days. They were convinced that the events experienced at the Azusa Street Mission were clear evidence of a “new Pentecost” – a long-awaited “restoration of the faith once delivered to the saints.” Their name, “Apostolic Faith Movement”, demonstrated their conviction that they were the continuation of the apostolic Acts 2 experience; the label “Pentecostal” came a little later and pointed to the centrality of the first Christian Pentecost in their self-understanding. In the early stages Pentecostalism was already an urban movement. It took roots not only in rural areas but also in scores of gospel tabernacles, unused downtown mainline denominational churches, neighbourhood stores fronts, and other urban facilities.” 15

Quote:
“The Azusa Street meetings were characterised by spontaneous prayer and preaching and the active participation of women. In addition, an unparalleled inter-racial makeup of the services also highlighted the revival, accompanied by a message of reconciliation. In particular, however, visitors witnessed what they saw to be evidence of a special post-conversion baptismal experience of the Holy Spirit. Those that were convinced carried home with them this new teaching, and Pentecostalism began as a world-wide movement . . . To summarize, the rapid beginning of Pentecostalism can be understood against the backdrop of a revival of tongues-speaking in Topeka, 1901, after which Charles Parham formulated the doctrine of “initial evidence:” that tongues-speaking is the initial evidence of Spirit baptism, which he understood to be a separate work of the Spirit to conversion and sanctification. Then when the re-occurrence of tongues speaking at the Azusa Street meetings from 1906-1909 gained a worldwide audience, William Seymour, a former student of Parham, used the revival as a platform to teach this new doctrine of Spirit baptism. Visitors witnessed this first-hand and then carried the new teaching abroad.” 16

From there, the influence of Pentecostalism raged onwards through many “healers” and promoters of “the second blessing” and the manifestations of the “spirit” and gifts. Early on, peddlers of this kind of “faith” were Aimee Semple McPherson, Katherine Kuhlman, John G Lake, Maria Woodworth-Etter, and others in the 1920-30s. Then came William Branham, Oral Roberts, and Smith Wigglesworth in the 1940s-50s+. The Healing Revival Movement/Word of Faith Movement began it’s complete infusion into the Pentecostal movement with William Branham, Oral Roberts, A.A. Allen, T.L. Osburn, Kenneth Hagin, Sr and many others from the 1940s to the end of the 1960s. The torch was lit and carried forwards by Kenneth Copeland, Benny Hinn, Paul Wierville, Lonnie Frisbee, John Wimber [Vineyard Church], Chuck Smith [Calvary Chapel, California], and a host of many others to numerous to mention like Jack Deere, CJ Wagner, Rick Joyner, Jack Hayford, TD Jakes, Joyce Meyer, Fred Price, Jesse Duplantis, Bob Jones [prophet] etc. Wierville, Frisbee, Wimber, and Smith were all associates. Wierville started his own cult group called The Way International – it is still in existence today.

 

 

Personal Experience

In 1995 I was fully engrossed into the Faith Movement. I cut my spiritual teeth on Kenneth Copeland and Kenneth Hagin, Sr., and they became my “teachers”. It was through their preaching and writings that I yearned for the “baptism of the Holy Spirit” aka “the second blessing” of tongues, and the subsequent voice. Soon I was speaking in tongues and hearing the voice myself. Daily dialogues between me and who I thought was God became my understanding of Scriptural truth and how I was lead in obedience to God.

The first time I heard the voice, I was not in silence “before the Lord”, nor was it a “still small voice”. I was riding in my car and the voice filled my head and would not stop for hours. I “saw” in my mind, that Jesus was speaking to me. He told me of things to come, what I would be doing for Him, what my “ministry” would be like. None of it came to pass, and it was all based on Scripture. Most of what I heard from that moment onwards was based in Scripture [totally out of context, but verse upon verse, none-the-less – just as satan quoted the OT to Jesus when he tempted Him].

I soon heard the voice in the prophetic realm. For over five years I took down the “words of the Lord” [including visions and dreams with interpretations]. I still have a box full to remind me of my days of influence under that seductive spirit. None of those prophecies came to pass, not one single prophecy. I would often hear the voice for hour after hour, writing down every word that was spoken. These words were confirmed by two other “prophets”. Yet no “word” ever came to pass, and still I was convinced that it was God because the voice told me it was a test, and asked if I would still be willing to obey if nothing came to pass. I always responded in the affirmative. What a terrible deception. God does not lie.

Titus 1:2 In hope of eternal life, which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world began;
1 Corinthians 13: 4 Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, 5 Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; 6 Rejoiceth not in iniquity, *** but rejoiceth in the truth;***

As time progressed, I was drawn into the “silent before the Lord” meditative practices so I could hear the voice clearer. Of course that meant I had to pray in tongues more, which is really the same mantra as “breathing in the ‘spirit’” and “saying a word over and over again to concentrate on the Lord” – which led to “quieting my mind and listening for the still small voice”. I would lie on the floor “prostrate before the Lord”, just waiting for Him to speak. He would then instruct me to get paper and pen and start taking “His Words” – just like the prophets of old. Often times while I was writing down what I “heard”, I would pray in tongues quietly so that I would be sure to “hear correctly”. You would think with all that “insurance” I would have heard the Lord, but instead, all I got was a “stone”. So why do you suppose that was?

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1 Gilley
2 Ibid
3 http://healingandrevival.com/BioCFParham.htm
4 http://www.seekgod.ca/mystics.htm
http://www.seekgod.ca/cosmic.htm
http://www.seekgod.ca/quakers.htm
http://www.seekgod.ca/more.htm
5 Ibid
6 Ibid
7 Ibid
8 http://www.thepsychiccenter.comglossary, http://www.en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spirit_guide, http://www.reiki.nu/treatment/healing/dictionary4/dictionary4.html
9 http://www.seekgod.ca/mystics.htm
http://www.seekgod.ca/cosmic.htm
http://www.seekgod.ca/quakers.htm
http://www.seekgod.ca/more.htm
10 Ibid
11 http://www.seekgod.ca/fatherparham.htm
12 http://www.seekgod.ca/parham.htm
13 http://www.seekgod.ca/fatherparham.htm
14 ibid
15 http://www.reformedreflections.ca/other-religions/azusa-street.html
16 http://talkingpentecostalism.blogspot.com/2007/03/why-was-pentecostalism-successful.html

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Additional information coming at a later date.

Please see new article posted – showing in List above or at this link:

Paul’s Knowledge of New Doctrine and Those Who Resist It

I received this comment recently and thought I would make my response as a post.

Comment in reference to the article “Rosh Hashanah – Jewish New Year – Feast of Trumpets – Yom Teruah”:

It’s difficult to go through all this and comment but I would like to offer that distinctions should be made between what the Torah and Tanakh say we should do and what Judaism (specifically, Talmud) says… The scribes, pharisees, priests and rabbi’s added to (and took away from) the Divine Law just as the “Christians” do today (where does it say in His word that “priests” shouldn’t marry?).

Umm… respectfully, Torah teaches that all Israel is supposed to observe these feast days in perpetuity. Not just the “Jews” (sons of Yahudah or Judah); but his 11 other brothers, too; that’s us~ but you probably won’t receive that either…

Yom Teruah has a future fulfilment. There is a reason Christendom won’t see much of it coming… because they throw off the Creator’s calendar in favor of Pope Gregory’s…

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It is true that there is a distinction between the Law of Moses and the Talmud, which has been my position for many years.  And even more so as I watch greater numbers of people embrace Hebrew Roots/Messianic Judaism. It is this rush to be more Jewish that the Talmud is viewed as having true Jewish/Biblical instruction, which is why I approach the Mosaic Feasts from that perspective in the articles that I post, showing the unScriptural changes.

Israel was to keep the feasts perpetually as a sign of obedience to the old or Mosaic Covenant.  These feasts were only given to Israel and those within her borders.  The aliens and strangers were given certain requirements to keep the feasts within Israel’s community, but they were not obligated to observe all of the Mosaic Law.  The NT tells us that these feasts were a shadow of what was to come.  It was a rough blueprint of the finished work of Christ on the cross.  Just as a blueprint is not used after a building is built, so too, we do not have to go back to the shadows and celebrate them when we have our Lord and Savior dwelling within us, having satisfied every requirement of the Feasts in His own blood.

Regarding Yom Kippur, the calendar used today is a side issue and has nothing to do with why it was given to Israel and how Jesus Christ completely fulfilled it.  Yom Kippur was a shadow of complete and total forgiveness of sins that Jesus bore on the cross.  Hebrews show us verse by verse how Yom Kippur was so thoroughly fulfilled that it surprises me that people are not grasping the glory of the cross in regard not only in this feast, but all of the others as well.

Let me repost how Yom Kippur/Day of Atonement has fulfilled this prophetic feast “over the top”.

Day of Atonement

[Leviticus 16 corresponds with Leviticus 23:27-32] Lev 16:3 Thus shall Aaron [the High Priest] come into the holy place: with a young bullock for a sin offering, and a ram for a burnt offering.

Heb 9:11,12 But Christ being come an high priest… Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us.

 ****

Lev 16:12,13    And he shall take a censer full of burning coals…and bring it within the veil: And he shall put the incense upon the fire before the LORD, that the cloud of the incense may cover the mercy seat…

Heb 6:19,20  …which entereth into that within the veil; Whither the forerunner is for us entered, even Jesus, made an high priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec.

****

Lev 16:15,16  Then shall he kill the goat of the sin offering, that is for the people, and bring his blood within the veil, and do with that blood as he did with the blood of the bullock, and sprinkle it upon the mercy seat, and before the mercy seat: And he shall make an atonement for the holy place, because of the uncleanness of the children of Israel, and because of their transgressions in all their sins…

Heb 9: 13,14,23,24  For if the blood of bulls and of goats, and the ashes of an heifer sprinkling the unclean, sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh: How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God? … It was therefore necessary that the patterns of things in the heavens should be purified with these… For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true; but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us:

****

Lev 16:21,22  And Aaron shall lay both his hands upon the head of the live goat, and confess over him all the iniquities of the children of Israel, and all their transgressions in all their sins, putting them upon the head of the goat, and shall send him away by the hand of a fit man into the wilderness: And the goat shall bear upon him all their iniquities unto a land not inhabited: and he shall let go the goat in the wilderness.

Isa 53:6,11  …the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all…for he shall bear their iniquities.

Heb 9:28; 13:12,13   So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many… Wherefore Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered without the gate. Let us go forth therefore unto him without the camp, bearing his reproach.

****

Lev 16:30  For on that day shall the priest make an atonement for you, to cleanse you, that ye may be clean from all your sins before the LORD.

Heb 10:10,12,14  By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God; For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified.

Day of Atonement ~ Yom Kippur

 

This day was in a sense, the most sacred of the year for Israel as it was the day when the High Priest entered the Most Holy Place; it happened once a year (Leviticus 16 & Numbers 29:7-11).

He entered first to make atonement for his own sin, by blood sacrifice and then another blood sacrifice for the sins of the nation of Israel. ‘Without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sin’ Hebrews 9:22 & (Leviticus 17:11).

This feast was actually a day of afflicting one’s soul, humiliation and a day of no work (Leviticus 16:29-31); all of which are fulfilled in Christ, who has forgiven us when we confess our sins and is our Sabbath Rest.

 

Jesus is our ‘Great High Priest’, ‘our mediator’, and He is also the spotless ‘Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world’ (Hebrew 9:11 & 1 Timothy 2:5 & John 1:29).

Jesus, as the High Priesthood of Melchizedek forever; once and for all, made atonement for mankind, unlike the priest from Aaron’s lineage who had to come once a year, every year to sacrifice by the blood of animals, and lay sin on the goat outside the gate.  The purpose of this feast was to cleanse the people from their sin and to purify the Holy Place.  Jesus is the most holy place [The Temple], and complete atonement for sin, satisfying and fulfilling the shadow of the Law. [Colossians 2:16-18; Hebrews 8:5; Hebrews 10:1]

Romans 3:24-26, speaks of Christ’s redemption by His blood and Hebrews 9:7, 10:3, 19-22 speaks of Jesus as the mediator and that we can enter the Holy of Holies by the blood of Jesus.

 

The following corresponding verses from the Mosaic Law compared with the NT, show exactly how this feast was fulfilled in Christ, fully and completely.

 

[Leviticus 16 corresponds with Leviticus 23:27-32]

Lev 16:3 Thus shall Aaron [the High Priest] come into the holy place: with a young bullock for a sin offering, and a ram for a burnt offering.

 

Heb 9:11,12 But Christ being come an high priest… Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us.

 

****

Lev 16:12,13    And he shall take a censer full of burning coals…and bring it within the veil: And he shall put the incense upon the fire before the LORD, that the cloud of the incense may cover the mercy seat…

 

Heb 6:19,20  …which entereth into that within the veil; Whither the forerunner is for us entered, even Jesus, made an high priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec.

****

Lev 16:15,16  Then shall he kill the goat of the sin offering, that is for the people, and bring his blood within the veil, and do with that blood as he did with the blood of the bullock, and sprinkle it upon the mercy seat, and before the mercy seat: And he shall make an atonement for the holy place, because of the uncleanness of the children of Israel, and because of their transgressions in all their sins…

Heb 9: 13,14,23,24  For if the blood of bulls and of goats, and the ashes of an heifer sprinkling the unclean, sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh: How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God? … It was therefore necessary that the patterns of things in the heavens should be purified with these… For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true; but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us:

****

Lev 16:21,22  And Aaron shall lay both his hands upon the head of the live goat, and confess over him all the iniquities of the children of Israel, and all their transgressions in all their sins, putting them upon the head of the goat, and shall send him away by the hand of a fit man into the wilderness: And the goat shall bear upon him all their iniquities unto a land not inhabited: and he shall let go the goat in the wilderness.

 

 

Isa 53:6,11  …the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all…for he shall bear their iniquities.

 

Heb 9:28; 13:12,13   So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many… Wherefore Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered without the gate. Let us go forth therefore unto him without the camp, bearing his reproach. 

 

****

Lev 16:30  For on that day shall the priest make an atonement for you, to cleanse you, that ye may be clean from all your sins before the LORD.

Heb 10:10,12,14  By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God; For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified. 

 

****

 

Luke 24:44-48

And he said unto them, These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me. Then opened he their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures And said unto them, Thus it is written, and thus it behooved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day: And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. And ye are witnesses of these things.

The myth that Easter was a German goddess, or actually Ishtar in disguise, is so profusely integrated into the remembrance of what Jesus did on the cross and His resurrection, that I am hoping it would be helpful to show sources to refute this common error in thinking/teaching.

Historically, the German/Norse/Teutonic/Scandinavian evidence, from where the “story” of Easter allegedly originates – shows that Easter was never worshiped or celebrated as a goddess.  In fact, there is no such goddess recorded anywhere in historical records in either European or Scandinavian cultures.

The name “Easter” is taken from the Spring month of Eostremonath on the German calendar – also known as the Norse/Teutonic/Scandinavian calendar.  In other words, Eostremonath is simply, the name of the Spring month.  It eventually evolved into the English “Easter” as brought to England by the Saxons [ancient Germans].  Easter was used as a convenience and accepted, morphed/coined as the word to indicate the time of year when Christians celebrated the suffering, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ >>> because it occurred in the spring. 

According to historical records, spring was not celebrated festively.  That was reserved for summer and winter celebrations.  Neither was Easter evolved from Roman/Green pagan spring festivals.  Although that has been added to the myth as part of the council of Nicea in 325 AD or to Constantine, the word Easter was unheard of until the 8th century AD.  I have noted that some translations of the Council of Nicea include the word “Easter”, but I believe it was added much later [after Bede – 9th century] as a substitute word for pascha, which does not mean Easter, but passover, but to differentiate between the Jewish feast and the resurrection of Christ.

The beginning of the myth, as originated by the Venerable Bede, a Catholic monk, wrote the following:

 From De ratione temporum 15. [approx 700AD] (The reckoning of time, tr. Faith Wallis, Liverpool University Press 1988, pp.53-54)

15.  The English Months

In olden time the English people — for it did not seem fitting to me that I should speak of other people’s observance of the year and yet be silent about my own nation’s — calculated their months according to the course of the moon.  Hence, after the manner of the Greeks and the Romans (the months) take their name from the Moon, for the Moon is called mona and the month monath.

The first month, which the Latins call January, is Giuli; February is called Solmonath; March Hrethmonath; April, Eosturmonath; May, Thrimilchi; June, Litha; July, also Litha; August, Weodmonath; September, Halegmonath; October, Winterfilleth; November, Blodmonath; December, Giuli, the same name by which January is called. …

Nor is it irrelevant if we take the time to translate the names of the other months. … Hrethmonath is named for their goddess Hretha, to whom they sacrificed at this time.  Eosturmonath has a name which is now translated “Paschal month”, and which was once called after a goddess of theirs named Eostre, in whose honour feasts were celebrated in that month.  Now they designate that Paschal season by her name, calling the joys of the new rite by the time-honoured name of the old observance.  Thrimilchi was so called because in that month the cattle were milked three times a day…

 

Reiterating, Bede had no historical information on which to base his supposition that Eostre was a goddess.  She cannot be found in any ancient writings or traditions in that entire part of the Norse/German world. 

A professor, Dr Elizabeth Freeman [BA (Hons), MA, PhD (University of Melbourne); Grad. Dip. Ed. (Sec), Grad. Cert.(Rel. Ed.) (Australian Catholic University)], teaches the history of Europe in the early Middle Ages (300-1000AD) and High Middle Ages (1000-1300AD). She also studies medieval Christianity, ancient nuns and monks. She has also written publically, that there was no such creature as a goddess name Eostre. From an article published in 2005 she concludes that the entire myth of Easter was made up – again, based on actual research:

Quote:

The goddess did not exist.

The earliest reference to goddess Ostara or Oestre is by a celebrated medieval intellectual — the monk known as the “venerable Bede”.

Working in north-east England in 730AD, Bede wrote a book about calculating time. Bede identified a pagan spring celebration called Eosturmonath. He said this celebration got its name from a pagan goddess called Oestre for whom they had a feast.

But when modern-day researchers scoured the history books they could find no prior reference to the goddess.

Researchers found many references to the spring celebration Eosturmonath but absolutely no mention of the goddess Bede reckoned the feast was named after. They suspect Bede fabricated the pagan goddess to suit his purposes.

“He has definitely made up that goddess,” Dr Freeman said. “Bede is the first one to mention it. German academics have found no evidence of the spring goddess Oestre anywhere else before Bede.”

Dr Freeman said Bede, who had been a monk since he was seven years old, was revered in an era where very few people were educated.

“Bede was extremely influential and his view has survived until the last 50 years when scholarship developed to the level it could show he was wrong,” she said.

Dr Freeman said Bede and his contemporaries constantly sought to find moral meaning for words and often made up definitions to suit their moral outlook.

http://www.religionnewsblog.com/10716/fur-flies-over-bunny-theory

From another source:

This was [Bede’s] attempted etymology of Easter – which is only called that in English of course. The problem is that as the Goddess in question, Eostre is completely unknown otherwise, … so  this proposed etymology is probably spurious. In the 19th century a German antiquarian invented Ostara, as the German form, using Bede as his source.

Bede admits this idea is his speculation – he is not actually aware of a goddess called Eostre, he just thinks there was one. There is not a single reference to her, from the Anglo-Saxon Chronicles, any of the other writings we have from the period, or from inscriptions. No depiction – no amulets – nothing. Her Germanic version was invented completely in the 19th century, and again has no evidence whatsoever from history or archaeology to back it up.”

http://jerome23.wordpress.com/2009/04/10/eostre-never-existed-why-easter-is-not-a-pagan-holiday/

 

Another one of the most mangled, twisted, and downright ugly views of Easter is this one:

“Semiramis, the queen of heaven, was “born again” as the goddess Easter (Ashtarte) as she emerged from a giant egg that landed in the Euphrates river at sunrise on the “sun” day after the vernal equinox. To proclaim her divine authority, she changed a bird into an egg laying rabbit. As the cult developed, the priests of Easter would impregnate young virgins on the altar of the goddess of fertility at sunrise on Easter Sunday. A year later the priests of Easter would sacrifice those three-month-old babies on the altar at the front of the Sanctuary and dye Easter eggs in the blood of the sacrificed infants. (Michael John Rood, The Mystery of Iniquity, Chapter 8) [see more on the heresies and false teachings of Michael Rood here:  http://www.seekgod.ca/roodbreakup.htm ]

 Everything about that twisted version is completely and categorically false and sensationalized to appeal to people who are convinced Easter is evil and wicked.  Ashtarte is not Easter.  There is no such thing as eggs being dyed in babies’ blood at any time or anywhere in history, nor is there any evidence that priest impregnate virgins on the altar of a fertility goddess at sunrise on “easter sunday”. These things are designed to get people in fear and to hate Christians who are celebrating and remembering was Jesus did for us.  To mangle and pervert the Gospel in such a way is just plain heinous, in this writer’s opinion.

Although there are many articles and etymologies that link Easter/Eostre/Ostara with Ishtar, historically there is no connection.  The Gemanic religious culture [Norse deities] never mentions Eostre or Ostara as a goddess at all.

 Digging into the Germanic/Norse/Teutonic history reveals that Germany was once a Scandinavian Country and therefore, embraced the Norse deities. The main female deities were known as Frigga and Freyja with no mention of Eostre/Ostara. 

 The Columbia Encyclopedia gives a brief overview of the Germanic/Teutonic/Norse religious system:

The Germanic Pantheon

Germanic religion, like most ancient religions, was polytheistic. In early times there were two groups of gods-the Aesir and the Vanir. However, after a war between the rival pantheons (which perhaps reflects a war between two rival tribes), the defeated Vanir were absorbed into the Aesir, and the gods of both were worshiped in a single pantheon. This pantheon, which according to some accounts consisted of 12 principal deities, had Woden (Odin) as its chief god. Other important deities were Tiw (Tyr), Thor (Donar), Balder, Frey, Freyja, and Frigg. The gods dwelled in Asgard, where each deity had his or her own particular abode. The most beautiful of the palaces was Valhalla; there Woden, attended by the Valkyries, gave banquets to the dead heroes. The ancient Nordic gods, however, unlike the gods of most religions, were not immortal. They continually renewed their youth by eating the apples of Idun, but they were doomed, like mortals, to eventual extinction.

The gods were opposed by the giants and demons, representing the destructive and irrational forces of the universe. It was prophesied that at Ragnarok, the doom of the gods, the forces of evil and darkness led by Loki and his brood of monsters, would attack the gods of Asgard. After a ferocious battle, in which most of the gods and giants would be destroyed, the universe would end in a blaze of fire. However, it was also prophesied that from the ashes of the old world a new cosmos would emerge and a new generation of gods and humans would dwell in harmony.

http://www.answers.com/topic/germanic-mythology#ixzz1AlyyV5QZ

Also from this source – no mention of Ostara/Eostre:

The four main deities in Germanic religion and Asatru are:

Odin (Germanic Woden) – god of magic, poetry, riches and the dead; ruler of Valhalla (gave his name to Wednesday)

Thor – sky god who wields a hammer, controls the weather, and protects the law and the community (gave his name to Thursday)

Freyr – fertility god represented with a phallic statue and seen as the founder of the Swedish royal dynasty

Freyja – fertility goddess of love and beauty, sister of Freyr, known by many names (including Frigg, Odin’s wife and patron of families, who gave her name to Friday)

http://www.religionfacts.com/a-z-religion-index/asatru.htm

“According to Norse Mythology – The Myths and Legends of the Nordic Gods by Arthur Cotterell, Freyja is the daughter of the sea god Njord and sister of Freyr. She is an important fertility goddess …”

“Freyja flew over the earth, sprinkling morning dew and summer sunlight behind her. She shook spring flowers from her golden hair and wept tears which turned to gold or to amber at sea.”

“For she [Freyja] was the goddess of lust as well as love, a suitable partner for Odin who was the father of battles.”

“The goddesses were clearly important in northern religion, yet only Frigg and Freyja play any main part in the tales ….”

“Freyja kept up the sacrificing, for she alone lived on after the gods.”

She [Freyja] was regarded as a giving goddess, bringing bounty to the fields, animals and mankind …”

http://www.valkyrietower.com/freyja.html

Some other sources about the Germanic gods and goddesses:

Idun, Ithunn – (Norse mythology) goddess of spring 

http://www.thefreedictionary.com/Norse+mythology

Iduna/Idun/Iduun – Norse Goddess of eternal youth and spring

http://inanna.virtualave.net/slavic.html

“Idun, also spelled Idunn, or Iduna,  in Norse mythology, the goddess of spring or rejuvenation …”

http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/282103/Idun

“In Norse* mythology, Idun (Iduna) was the goddess of spring and rebirth.”

http://www.mythencyclopedia.com/Ho-Iv/Idun.html

Interestingly, the sources above that list numerous Norse gods and goddesses include zero reference to either Eostre or Ostara.

And here again – Eostre/Ostara is missing:

 “Norse Goddesses

Iðunn (Idun, Idunn, Iduna)

Frigg (Frigga)

Freyja (Freya)

Nanna”

http://www.wordiq.com/definition/Old_Norse_orthography#Goddesses

 Here are even more links here from historical sources that have written about the Norse /Gemanic/Teutonic religious systems, gods and goddesses, which show that Eostre/Ostara is not mentioned.

http://www.goddesses.com/index_files/AncientGoddesses.htm

http://www.enotes.com/topic/List_of_Germanic_deities_and_heroes

http://wuzzle.org/cave/lovegods.html

http://www.mythencyclopedia.com/Ni-Pa/Norse-Mythology.html

http://www.lowchensaustralia.com/names/godsnorse.htm

 

It’s important to explore Bede’s writings which have come under intense scrutiny as we see in these references:

 

This was [Bede’s] attempted etymology of Easter – which is only called that in English of course. The problem is that as the Goddess in question, Eostre is completely unknown otherwise, … so  this proposed etymology is probably spurious. In the 19th century a German antiquarian invented Ostara, as the German form, using Bede as his source.

Bede admits this idea is his speculation – he is not actually aware of a goddess called Eostre, he just thinks there was one. There is not a single reference to her, from the Anglo-Saxon Chronicles, any of the other writings we have from the period, or from inscriptions. No depiction – no amulets – nothing. Her Germanic version was invented completely in the 19th century, and again has no evidence whatsoever from history or archaeology to back it up.”

http://jerome23.wordpress.com/2009/04/10/eostre-never-existed-why-easter-is-not-a-pagan-holiday/

See this article also:  http://www.celtic-catholic-church.org/oak_tree/easter.html

More info on Bede:

It is equally valid, however, to suggest that the Anglo-Saxon “Estor-monath”simply meant “the month of opening”, or the “month of beginning”, and that Bede mistakenly connected it with a goddess who either never existed at all, or was never associated with a particular season, but merely, like Eos and Aurora, with the Dawn itself.” [The Stations of the Sun: A History of the Ritual Year in Britain; Ronald Hutton; p.180]

http://books.google.com/books?id=0WhvTFmRDCQC&printsec=frontcover&dq=stations+of+the+sun&source=bl&ots=im0AMtfwfD&sig=8-v3klcjmM1HOCB8fgMkvJ-sa50&hl=en&ei=Kr_yTKKeNcGblgfPks3VDA&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=3&sqi=2&ved=0CCsQ6AEwAg#v=onepage&q&f=false

 

“Eostre is a very obscure Goddess, and uniquely Anglo-Saxon Heathen. She is not mentioned at all in the Norse corpus and only fleetingly in the Old English by Bede in De Temporum Rationale.  Her material is so scant that some scholars have speculated she was not a Goddess at all, but that Eostre was merely a name for the holiday.”

http://www.englatheod.org/eostre.htm

“No Norwegian, Icelandic or other Scandinavian primary source mentions ‘Ostara’. In fact, the name ‘Ostara’ isn’t found anywhere in connection with a goddess. ‘Ostara’ is simply the Old High German name for the Christian Festival of Easter. Because the word is cognate with Anglo-Saxon ‘Eostre’, and because we have Bede’s evidence that Eostre was a goddess, Grimm concluded that “This Ostara, like the Anglo-Saxon Eastre, must in the heathen religion have denoted a higher being, whose worship was so firmly rooted, that the Christian teachers tolerated the name, and applied it to one of their own grandest anniversaries.” [Jacob Grimm, (trans. James Stallybrass) Teutonic Mythology, Dover Books, reprint of 1883 edition, volume one, p.291]

“All we know from Bede was that she was worshipped sometime in April. Bede also mentions another Anglo-Saxon goddess, Hredhe, who was honoured in March, and for whom the month of March was named. If the heathen Anglo-Saxons actually did worship a goddess at the Vernal Equinox, then according to the only historical evidence we have it would have been Hredhe, not Eostre.”

http://www.manygods.org.uk/articles/essays/Eostre.shtml

The connection of Easter with Ishtar was circulated mostly due to Alexander Hislop.  He has a rather lengthy section on Ishtar that is loaded with speculation.  This is how he begins his article: 

 

“Then look at Easter. What means the term Easter itself? It is not a Christian name. It bears its Chaldean origin on its very forehead. Easter is nothing else than Astarte, one of the titles of Beltis, the queen of heaven, whose name, as pronounced by the people Nineveh, was evidently identical with that now in common use in this country.”  [Aexander Hislop, TheTwo Babylons (1858) – Chapter III  Section II – Easter]

In that chapter, he connects Easter with Semiramis [completely false], and includes much conjecture and unsupported information about other goddesses, the definition of their names, and other non-historical opinion that he promotes as “truth”. 

 

Ralph Woodrow, who wrote “The Babylon Mystery Connection” based on Hislop’s “The Two Babylons” and at one time promoted Hislop’s “facts” became aware of the errors, wrote another book “The Babylon Connection?” refuting his original book and Hislop’s.  It took a lot of guts to admit he was wrong!  He makes this comment about Hislop on his website, admitting that most of Hislop’s connections and so-called “information” is neither historical nor accurate – it is sensationalism:

“Hislop, for example, taught that mythological persons like Adonis, Apollo, Bacchus, Cupid, Dagon, Hercules, Janus, Mars, Mithra, Moloch, Orion, Osiris, Pluto, Saturn, Vulcan, Zoraster, and many more, were all Nimrod! He then formed his own “history” of Nimrod! He did the same thing with Nimrod’s wife. So, according to his theory, Nimrod was a big, ugly, deformed black man. His wife, Semiramis—also known as Easter, he says—was a most beautiful white woman with blond hair and blue eyes, a backslider, inventor of soprano singing, the originator of priestly celibacy, the first to whom the unbloody mass was offered! This is not factual history—it is more in the category of tabloid sensationalism.”

http://www.ralphwoodrow.org/books/pages/babylon-mystery.html

In the Hebrew Roots Movement, Hislop’s “facts” were snapped up by CJ Koster [“Come Out of Her My People” – referring to “Babylon”] and by Lew White [Fossilized Customs] which promote the most unglody associations with Christianity and it’s “Babylonian/pagan/Greek roots” further hammering into and spreading the conjecture and opinions to unsuspecting people.  Many others within Hebrew Roots have promoted these writings and then propagated the myths within their own teachings.

Both Bede’s and Hislop’s errors are discussed here, and quoted with permission:

Alexander Hislop, in his book The Two Babylons [1858], mistakenly equated the goddess Eostre with the Babylonian-Assyrian fertility goddess Ishtar, and with the Phoenician fertility goddess Astarte. Questionable etymology and the mistaken research of Hislop has led some to conclude that the festival of Easter is pagan in its name and its origins.

However, the annual spring celebration of the resurrection of Jesus was not even called Easter until centuries after Christians began celebrating it, and etymological authorities (those who study word origins) have cast doubt on Bede’s accuracy.

In a footnote in a circa 1850 edition of Eusebius’ Ecclesiastical History, the translator, Isaac Boyle, suggested that “our word, Easter, is of Saxon origin, and of precisely the same import with its German cognate Ostern. The latter is derived from the old Teutonic form of auferstehn, auferstehung, i.e. resurrection.”

The Evangelical Dictionary of Theology (Baker Books, 1984) article on Easter, after mentioning Bede’s account, says it is “more likely” that the word Easter “came from a German root for dawn or east (the time and place of the rising sun).” The Oxford English Dictionary relates Easter and the east to a common root meaning dawn or morning. If these are accurate, Easter did not derive from the name of a spring goddess Eastre. Rather, both words came from a root that means “dawn,” or “morning/rising/new light,” or by extension, “resurrection.”

More likely than Bede’s explanation, it seems possible that the resurrection celebration was named Easter because the word described the promise of new light and new life brought to humankind by the new-risen Son.”

http://www.gci.org/jesus/celebrating

Jakob Grimm — of Brothers Grimm fame (1785 – 1863), in his 1835 Deustche Mythologie; further promoted the Easter myth and wrote that Ostarâ,must in heathen religion have denoted a higher being, whose worship was so firmly rooted, that the Christian teachers tolerated the name, and applit to one of their own grandest anniversaries.” Again, scholars have noted his supposition, with no proof, based on what Bede surmised/made up.   Error begets error and is then promoted over and over again with hyper sensationalism in order to denigrate a title/word given to a Christian spring celebration of Jesus Christ. [see above quotes and footnotes

One other myth associated with Easter is that it is etymologically connected to estrus/oestrus giving it an even more sexual and derogatory meaning.  Easter has nothing to do with estrus as seen here in the etymology dictionary.  Please note that the word only goes back to the 1690s, and the definition of “frenzied passion” and “rut in animals” only goes back to the 1800s. Estrous > 1900. The word “Easter” is much older than that as seem in the various writings already sourced in this article.

estrus

1850, “frenzied passion,” from L. oestrus “frenzy, gadfly,” from Gk. oistros “gadfly, breeze, sting, mad impulse,” perhaps from a PIE *eis, forming words denoting passion (cf. Avestan aešma- “anger,” Lith. aistra “violent passion,” L. ira “anger”). First attested 1890 with specific meaning “rut in animals, heat.” Earliest use (1690s) was for “a gadfly.” Related: Estrous (1900).

http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=estrus

Comparing Ostara/Eostre to Ishtar/Ashteroth/Semiramis/Astarte

The German Ostara does not come from nor is she related to Ishtar/Ashteroth/Astarte, etc.

Ishtar has a Semitic word root which may mean “to lead”.  Ostara is a German word that means dawn, rising sun and includes resurrection, which became the Anglo Saxton Eostre/Easter. 

    http://www.wordiq.com/definition/Ishtar

Ishtar is a goddess whose history goes way back to the beginning of civilizations and nations.  She is referred to in the OT as Ashteroth.  She is a Semitic goddess, not a Norse deity.  There is no connection between Ishtar/Astarte and Eostre/Ostara who was not even known until well into the Common Era.  Eostre/Ostara is not listed with the Norse deities of the Germanic/Teutonic culture.

Ishtar is a mother goddess, fertility goddess, the goddess of spring, a storm goddess, a warrior and a goddess of war, a goddess of the hunt, a goddess of love, goddess of marriage and childbirth, goddess of fate and a goddess who is the divine personification of the planet Venus.  She is also an underworld deity.  She is known predominately as the “mother goddess” and is connected to the earth’s fertility.

http://books.google.com/books?id=jEcpkWjYOZQC&pg=PA242&lpg=PA242&dq=ishtar+goddess+spring&source=bl&ots=OtCefQODD0&sig=k4CWOPv7hqFroGlkTUyx2jnsDvM&hl=en&ei=foDYTPjjE8OAlAeznZT9CA&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=6&ved=0CCYQ6AEwBTgK#v=onepage&q=ishtar%20goddess%20spring&f=false

 

Here are lists of names that represent Ishtar in other languages and cultures and please note, not one of them refers to Ostata/Eostre – nor is there any reference to bunnies and eggs, or even sacrificing infants and using their blood to dye “Easter eggs”:

 Ishtar – Babylonian goddess of fertility, love, war, sex and the divine personification of the planet Venus

Ashteroth [found in OT] is the Phoenician/Semitic for Ishtar

Inanna = Sumerian for Ishtar

Astarte = Akkadian for Ishtar

Athtar  = Arabian for Ishtar

Tanith  = Northern African for Ishtar

Mylitta = Babylonian and Assyrian Mythology > The goddess of love and fertility and war; also called Ishtar; the counterpart of Ashtoreth and Astarte.

Ishtar (Istar) – Assyro-Babylonian; Akkadia, Chaldea, Semitic, Sidon, Sumner.

Also known as: Absusu (Sumerian), Abtagigi (She Who Sends Messages of Desire), Agasaya, Ashtart, Ashtoreth, Athar (Arabic), Aya (Babylonian), Banitu (possibly), Belti (Semite), Bisi-Bisi, The Bride, Dilbar (The War-provoking Evening Star), Gamlat (Babylonian), Gumshea, Hanata (Middle Eastern), Inanna (Sumerian), Innini, Irnini (possibly), Kilili (Queen of Harlots), Meni (possibly), Minu-anni, Minu-ullu, Nin-kar-zi-da, Nin-khar-sagga Nin-si-anna, Ninkarrak (Sumerian), Ninkasi, Ninlil (Phoenician), Sharis (possibly an ancient name used by the Armenians), Shaushka (Hittite), Shimti (Akkadian; goddess of fate), The Shrieker, Zanaru (Lady of the Islands), Zib (evening star who stimulates sexual desire).

Ishtar is identified with the Sumerian goddess Inanna and with Astarte of the Phoenicians and the Babylonians.  She has been identified with Ninlil.  Ishtar corresponds to the Chaldean goddess Nintu. Ishtar parallels the ancient Sumerian goddess Anunit in numerous ways. The Hebrew goddess Tamar is equivalent to Ishtar,  The Hittite goddess Shaushka is known as the Hurrian Ishtar.  As Hanata, she is also a warrior.  The Babylonian goddess Gamlat eventually assimilated into Ishtar, as did the Babylonian Aya.  The war goddess Agasya eventually became Ishtar as the sky warrior.  The vegetation goddess Gumshea merged with Ishtar. 

Her titles of Minu-anni and Minu-ullu may link her with the Assyrian god or goddess, Meni.  Compare Ishtar to Isis (Egyptian), and the Inca goddess, Mama Allpa. Ishtar is depicted sometimes naked, with her hands clasping her breasts.  Often she is bedecked in jewelry and has an elaborate hairstyle. She is also shown reclining, wearing a crowned crescent set with a shining stone on her head.  Sometimes she is shown holding her symbol, the eight pointed star.  In her battle stance, she carries a bow and is depicted standing on a chariot drawn by seven lions.  The lion, bull, and dragon are Ishtar’s emblems.  The lion is her sacred animal and perhaps the dove.

 

See also Abtagigi; Allat; Allatu; Anat; Anta; Anu; Arinna; Ashur; Astarte; Asushunamir; Atargatis; Athar; Aya; Belti; Boann (Celtic); Chemosh; Ea; Enki; Enkidu; Ereshkigal; Gilgamesh; Igigi; Inanna; Innini; Khumbaba; Kilili; Namtar; Ninkarrak; Ninkasi; Ninlil; Papsukaal; Ramman; Saltu; Sammuramat; Semiramis; Shamash; Sharis; Sin; Tammuz; Tiamat; Venus; Zerpanitum.

Information taken from:

http://books.google.com/books?id=jEcpkWjYOZQC&pg=PA242&lpg=PA242&dq=ishtar+goddess+spring&source=bl&ots=OtCefQODD0&sig=k4CWOPv7hqFroGlkTUyx2jnsDvM&hl=en&ei=foDYTPjjE8OAlAeznZT9CA&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=6&ved=0CCYQ6AEwBTgK#v=onepage&q=ishtar%20goddess%20spring&f=false

 

The Relationship between Ishtar, Semiramis, and Tammuz:

Ishtar was the lover/husband of Tammuz

Dumuzi is the Babylonian Tammuz

Semiramis is the wife of Nimrod/Nimnus and the mother of Tammuz

More information on the Greek goddess Aprhodite and her connection to Ishtar:

“Astarte, Semitic goddess of fertility and love. Dominant in ancient Eastern religions, she was the most important goddess of the Phoenicians, corresponding to the Babylonian Ishtar and the Greek Aphrodite, also known as the Great Mother of the Gods.

Aphrodite, in Greek mythology, goddess of love, beauty, and fertility. She was either the daughter of Zeus and Dione, or she emerged from the sea foam. Married to Hephaestus, she loved and had children by other gods and mortals, e.g., Harmonia was fathered by Ares, and Aeneas was the son of Anchises. Aphrodite was awarded the apple of discord by Paris, leading to the Trojan War. Probably of Eastern origin, she was similar in attributes to the goddesses Astarte and Ishtar. The Romans identified her with Venus.

Some have even tried to connect Artemis to Ishtar, but in Greek mythology, she goddess of the hunt. She was the daughter of Zeus and Leto and the twin sister of Apollo. Artemis is associated with chastity, marriage, children, wildlife, and, as a complement to the sun god Apollo, with the moon. The Romans identified her with Diana.”

Information from:

http://deoxy.org/gaia/goddess.htm

 

In conclusion, and reiterating:  Bede and Grimm are the only sources that connects Easter with a goddess named Eostre/Ostara – which has never been proven or authenticated – and by their own admissions and writings, supposed that she was an ancient German goddess.  The name “Easter” is a simple word “evolved” from the German “Eostre/Ostara”, into the Angle-Saxon culture taken from the names of the German spring months of Eostremonat and Ostaramanouth and traditionally applied to the Christian spring celebration of Jesus’ suffering, death and resurrection as the English, Easter.  In other words, there is no pagan connection. Easter was always a Christian celebration, it was never a pagan festival, because there is zero archaeological or ancient literary evidence to support that Easter was ever a goddess or that there were ever festivals in her honor [before the current wiccan/celtic movements] in either Germany or England/The UK/Ireland.

 

 

 

 

EASTER

*****  [Please see this recently updated article:  Easter is Not a Goddess

https://fortheloveoftruth.wordpress.com/easter-is-not-a-goddess/ ]

 

EASTER

For several years I have been thinking of writing a complex series of articles on Easter.  As the years have passed and I have gotten bogged down with life, I decided that perhaps simplicity is more appropriate.  Those who consider Easter to be evil and pagan will probably not be swayed by the facts that oppose their beliefs about it – for they are deeply engrained and thoroughly processed and assimilated all over the net, in books, articles, DVDs, conferences, off the pulpit and promoted on forums.  It has been said that if a lie is told often enough, it becomes the truth … and no truer words would apply to the entire Easter myth.

This author has spent months of study and reading and digging into ancient studies, as well as those in academia that have done the same.  Accurate research can only come when one has no preconceived ideas. Having been part of the entire “Easter is pagan” mind set and on the other side of the fence as well, as a practicing Easter celebrator, I hoped that my searching would lead to the truth, rather than forcing one particular side over the other.  And I pray I have done so, because the last thing I ever want to do is to dishonor the Lord by misjudging and promoting something that is contrary to His Word.

The word “Easter” is not a pagan word.  It’s just a word.  A German word that became anglicized.  Easter is not a goddess, she never was.  It was a myth that was either made up or assumed by the Venerable Bede in 825AD.  His statements have been proven false, but unfortunately, the lie has lived on promoted by the unsuspecting … even the King James Bible, which used the word once in the book of Acts.  The translators were going by tradition as Easter was the accepted term for the death and resurrection of Christ.  The term, Easter, took on a life of its own after Bede announced to the uneducated public that Easter was a goddess and aimed his denigration of it at the church who he accused of celebrating the worship of a goddess with the activities of that time of year during the 9th century.  One might say that he had a rapt audience and was given carte blanche by the Roman Catholic Church for his outlandish statements.  And, as these things happen, it evolved into the term that is currently used for a specific time of year when Christians celebrate the resurrection of Christ, but Bede was never corrected for his mistake in the process. Instead, Alexander Hislop, Jakob Grimm and Lew White went off on a ridiculous tangent to prove this myth as truth with their inaccurate writings.  So we are stuck with a term that is accepted by all and has been increasingly used as a tool to mock Christians today for their so-called paganism.

Just a note of explanation.  I am not going to post a whole bunch of quotes and links to prove my statements, but I have a ton of them.  It would take pages and pages to show the truth by the resources I have found.  If you truly are interested in the sources, I am more than happy to share them. For this article, I need brevity so people will at least take the time to read this :)  Human nature is funny – if you believe something is factual, nothing anyone says will convince you otherwise, regardless if it’s in black and white.  Perhaps I am too cynical, but if someone really wants the truth, they will go after it, not rely on teachers and false information to support their beliefs like I did for so many years to my own detriment …. Because I was more than happy to educate people that Easter is pagan and Christians are really worshiping the goddess Easter/Ostara/Oestre/Asheroth/Ishtar and other such complete nonsense without looking at the facts for myself at that time in my life.

The Origins of Oestre actually come from a month called Oestremonath on the Old Norse/Germanic/Teutonic/Viking calendar. It means dawn or the opening of the month – which refers to spring coming after a long dark, cold winter.  There were no celebrations at that time of year.  Typically, celebrations were held in the summer and in Nov/Dec.  There were no sacrifices to their gods and goddesses at these times.  They were festivals/celebrations of food and fun.  In  Sweden, to this day there is a part of the country which is called Ostaraland – named after the month, not a goddess :)

I searched through hundreds of old writings and histories and could find no “Oestra” or “Ostara” that was a goddess.  Germany was once part of Scandinavia and Norse mythology was its religion.  The main goddesses are Freija and Freya.  There is no Eostra or Oestra or Ostara listed anywhere in any histories, not found in any archeology or mythology or writings or poem or traditions or oral traditions linked with Germany or Scandinavia.  This goddess does not and has never has existed anywhere …..

Easter has etymologically been attached to the Christian season for centuries.  It is just a word, a term for Christ’s resurrection.  It is not an evil word, nor is it something that causes people to unknowingly worship a goddess.  It is really not any different than the word “Passover” which William Tyndale, a Catholic man, who translated the Scriptures into English [Tyndale Bible 1500s] for the common man came up with a word to represent Pesach > the Israelite feast of slaying a lamb and painting the doorway with blood.  The angel of the Lord “passed over” keeping their first born safe from death.  Passover is not considered an evil word even though a Catholic man came up with it and it’s used even by those who go on and on about “Easter” being pagan.  The Jews use “Passover” as well.  It is not a bad word …..  Language is just words, words are not evil, they are how we communicate with each other.

There is another despicable lie that is being circulated having to do with eggs being dipped in baby’s blood.  Can I say what a disgusting thing to accuse Christians of?  There is NO, NONE, NADA, historical support for such an evil myth.  And those who keep harping on this at Easter should be more than ashamed of themselves for promoting such a nasty and perverted concept.

Easter eggs, bunnies and chicks are not evil either … and they have NOTHING to do with a goddess.  They were part of tradition in spring type celebrations, heralding the season of spring when new birth is evident in God’s creation.  The eggs were hidden in hare’s nests and the kids went looking for them.  That is how eggs got connected with rabbits.  Grimm made up a myth about Ostara and rabbit laying eggs – which has become listed as a pagan tradition in Messianic circles.  Dying eggs has nothing to do with making Jesus death and resurrection evil and pagan. They are just traditions, not used for worship.  There is nothing wrong with using colored eggs as decorations at a time of year when we remember new life in Christ.  For me, it only emphases HIM, not detracts from Him.  It is a joyous time of year we remember His death on the cross and then His resurrection.  Perhaps those of us who live in the more northern parts of the USA appreciate it due to the long cold winter.  The arrival of spring has always been a special time of year when Easter is recognized in various ways and the crowning of Christ as risen King and Lord is only enhanced by the joy of this holiday.  Shame on people for stealing what the rest of Christianity sees as a time of year to rejoice and sing praises to our Lord for His salvation and eternal life and celebrate with colored eggs, bunnies, baskets and bright colors!  We are NOT worshiping the traditions, we worship the Lord!!!

I have also heard that Easter comes from the word “estra” having to do with the process of reproduction.  Ridiculous.  They are not even from the same root word.  It’s just another disgusting lie associated with Easter to make it more evil and perverted, and not worth the time to discuss it further.

Easter is NOT Ishtar.  Ishtar is a Canaanite goddess that means “to lead”.  Ishtar was a goddess of war and sex.  She has nothing to do with Easter – they are not even remotely connected.  Shame on Alexander Hislop for suggesting such nonsense and for people to promote this horrible lie without checking their facts first.  Easter means “dawn”.  How easy it is to see that it became the word in England applied to what we know as Easter due to Jesus rising at dawn!  Germany took over England around the 5th century so its language assimilated into English, which is how Oestre became Easter.  And that is all there is to it.  No conspiracy, just simple linguistics and language etymology.

One last item – sunrise services are not some pagan invention that Christians are all enamored with.  They became popular because people wanted to worship the Lord early in the morning in remembrance of the Scriptures which tell us that Jesus arose at dawn.  It’s that simple.  To this day, I do not understand why people would come up with such lies and innuendos against those who love the Lord and seek to honor and worship as the Holy Spirit leads them to.  How small minded to point fingers at those who choose to be obedient to the NT texts that encourage them to worship the Lord at all times.

I pray what I have written is edifying and helps with some factual knowledge.  I cannot stop anyone from continuing to push the lies and myths about Easter, but I can at least show some how wrong it is to accuse Christians of something that is nothing more than a myth to denigrate their celebrations of Christ in the spring of the year, commonly known as Easter.   I hope people will stop and think about what they are saying about others who love the Lord with all their hearts, because it is not edifying to the Him in the least.

Another article on Easter that give more information here on my blog is …

https://fortheloveoftruth.wordpress.com/2010/03/26/611/

Merry Christmas – Rejoice! Christ Was Sent!

Within Christianity and Messianic Judaism/Hebrew Roots Movement the celebration of Christmas is pegged as paganism by many who have been led to believe that it is unscriptural to observe this holiday in any form. The idea is sold that it brings dishonor to God, that it replaces the feasts given to Israel, and that it is not commanded directly by God. Therefore; Christmas is considered evil and those who dare to celebrate it are mocking God and partaking in idol worship with their decorations and traditions.

Many false allegations and myths have been thrown on the table in order to cause people discomfort and fear in their choice to worship the Lord at the time of year when we traditionally celebrate Jesus’ birth. The traditions, cultural and secular additions to Christmas are an aside to the core of Christmas. The world will always find a way to tarnish God’s Word, dishonor and reject the Gospel message … we should not let the world’s view define what we use or how we as believers choose to worship the Lord.

The following article brings forward much Scriptural support for the celebration of Christmas, a truth that is Biblical, not pagan. Setting aside one’s beliefs that Christmas is somehow a perversion is difficult. This blog administrator has struggled significantly for years trying to find balance since being convinced through the Messianic movement that Christmas is not of God. The following article has healed immensely, and smoothed things reasonably and with balance due to the Scriptural approach. The focus is on Jesus Christ – whose birth was the impetus, from the beginning, as the reason for the celebrations …

The Gospel is presented in all its glory in the New Testament. It is the full revelation of Jesus Christ through His apostles as shared with the world in the first century. The apostle Paul was given the mystery of the Gospel to bring it first to the Jews and then to the Gentiles. Paul was chosen specifically and uniquely by Jesus Christ to be His ambassador of the Good News of Salvation and to explain this mystery – of Christ in us, the Hope of Glory > to Jew and Gentile alike.

The Gospels tell us the story of His birth, as God inspired the writers, though His Holy Spirit, to relay to us what Jesus wanted us to know about Him, about the Lord God, and how we should live to please Him. It was a brand new concept, unknown and not comprehended until the apostles witnessed and testified to the truths found in the 27 books of the NT. These books give us complete clarity and understanding, bringing full revelation of the birth, suffering, death and resurrection of our Lord and Savior into total understanding. It is the beauty of the very Words of God that helps us see the truth for what it is, not what man has done to it to destroy the wonders that God wrought through Jesus Christ … and it is this fact that makes Christmas beautiful, to the praise of His glory.

[The following article is condensed from an extensive writing about Christmas. The author, my friend Karen, has given permission to share it.]

Paul’s Simple Guideline

I believe God is honored by His children celebrating Christmas, and that He and Paul would not object. Why? For the many, many reasons that are outlined below. The first one is because he instructs [us] to have guidelines in whatever we do. He says whatever we do, do it heartily as to the Lord.…

Col 3:23 And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men…

He also says, as another guideline for us, to let all we do be done with love…

1Co 16:14 Let all that you do be done with love.

In a nutshell, this is what Christmas is and what His followers do. We do it heartily to the Lord and honor Him in love. This brings Him glory. It is because we love Him and appreciate Him that we do this. We want to worship, celebrate and honor Him. We also want to tell the world about Jesus, His story and all He has done, which we are also commanded to do. I celebrate Christmas because I do it from my love and appreciation to God, remembrance of His Son and my love for my family. Love is my motivation, so I am following what Paul and God taught us to do. I am doing it heartily to the Lord, because of love. I am also following what Jesus says in the 2nd commandment about loving God, ourselves and others. Love is a fulfillment of the Law …

Merry Christmas

Most people know saying Merry Christmas means we are talking about the happiness of Christ’s birth, a merry time. Some Christians are being told it is wrong to say Merry Christmas. This is based on incorrect and false teaching, by other believers who may think they are teaching correctly.

Some may not like the combination of two words Christ and mass. Some believe this to mean the Catholic mass of Christ, but it is good to look further to what the root of the word really means. It is important not to be quick to judge, but to look into its origin, so we can understand correctly and make correct decisions. If we don’t do that, we will be partaking in teaching and sharing falsities ourselves. We will also be turning people away from focusing on and honoring the truth that God sent His Son. These are 2 things that wouldn’t make God happy.

In English, Christmas is a combination of Christ and mass. We know what Christ means and Who He is, but what does mass mean? The word mass came from the Late Latin word missa, which is from the verb mittere, which means to send. It is important to consider that those who originated the word Christmas were most likely aware that it meant to send Christ, or Christ is sent. Therefore telling people the Good News that God sent Christ to us.

Mittere Translation To send – Main forms: Mitto, Mittere, Misi, Missus http://latindictionary.wikidot.com/verb:mittere

miss-, mis-, -miss, -mis, mit-, mitt-, -mit, -mitt (Latin: to send, to let go, to cause to go; to throw, to hurl, to cast) http://wordinfo.info/unit/1319/s:admit

 

mitto to cause to go, let go, send, send off, dispatch, mittere verb pres inf act http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/morph?l=mittere&la=la&prior=D

Mittere – Present active infinitive of mittōto send, to cause to go”…”to send out, to emit”

Second-person singular present passive imperative of mittōbe thou sent… be thou caused to go”http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/mittere

From Middle English masse, from Old English mæsse (“the mass, church festival”), from Vulgar Latin *messa, from Late Latin missa, noun use of feminine past participle of classical Latin mittere (“to send”). Compare Dutch mis (“mass”), German Messe (“mass”), Danish messe (“mass”), Icelandic messa (“mass”). http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/mass

Mass Origin:before 900; Middle English masse, Old English mæsse  < Vulgar Latin *messa, Late Latin missa,  formally feminine of Latin missus,  past participle of mittere  to send, dismiss; perhaps extracted from a phrase in the service with missa est  and a feminine subject http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/mass

 

Christ-mass… We see it means to send Christ, or Christ is sent. This lines up perfectly with what we are taught in the Scriptures. Saying Merry Christmas is a confirmation and declaration of the Scriptures.God sent us Jesus. God sent forth His Son…

Gal 4:4  But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law,  Why?  Gal 4:5  To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons.

Joh 3:17  For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.

1Jn 4:9  In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him.

Act 10:36  The word which God sent to the children of Israel, preaching peace through Jesus Christ–He is Lord of all–

 

The Christmas Story from the Bible 

 

Matthew 1:18-25 18 Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost. 19 Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing to make her a public example, was minded to put her away privily. 20 But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost. 21 And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name Jesus: for he shall save his people from their sins. 22 Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, 23 Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us. 24 Then Joseph being raised from sleep did as the angel of the Lord had bidden him, and took unto him his wife: 25 And knew her not till she had brought forth her firstborn son: and he called his name Jesus.

Luke 2:1  And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed. 2 (And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.) 3 And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city. 4 And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:) 5 To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child. 6 And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered. 7 And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn. 8 And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9 And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. 10 And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. 11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. 12 And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. 13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, 14 Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.

 

The Angels

Luk 1:19 And the angel answered and said to him, “I am Gabriel, who stands in the presence of God, and was sent to speak to you and bring you these glad tidings.

Mat 1:20 But while he thought about these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take to you Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit.

Luk 1:26 Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth,

Luk 1:27 to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. Luk 1:28 And having come in, the angel said to her, “Rejoice, highly favored one, the Lord is with you; blessed are you among women!”

Luk 1:29 But when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and considered what manner of greeting this was. Luk 1:30 Then the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. Luk 1:31 And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name Jesus. Luk 1:35 And the angel answered and said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God.

 

The Visit of the Shepherds

Luke 2:15-20 When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”

So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them.

But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.

 

The Visit of the Magi (Wise Men)

Matthew 2:1-12 After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star in the east and have come to worship him.”

When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him. When he had called together all the people’s chief priests and teachers of the law, he asked them where the Christ was to be born. “In Bethlehem in Judea,” they replied, “for this is what the prophet has written:

” ‘But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;
for out of you will come a ruler
who will be the shepherd of my people Israel.’ ”

Then Herod called the Magi secretly and found out from them the exact time the star had appeared. He sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and make a careful search for the child. As soon as you find him, report to me, so that I too may go and worship him.”

After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen in the east went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold and of incense and of myrrh. And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route.

 

Peace on Earth

Luke 2:14 Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.

 

Peace with God

Romans 5:1 Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ:

 

Immanuel

Isaiah 7:14 Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.

Matthew 1:23 Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.

 

The Birth of Jesus Foretold

Isaiah 40:1-11 Comfort ye, comfort ye my people, saith your God. Speak ye comfortably to Jerusalem, and cry unto her, that her warfare is accomplished, that her iniquity is pardoned: for she hath received of the LORD’s hand double for all her sins.

The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the LORD, make straight in the desert a highway for our God.

Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low: and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough places plain:

And the glory of the LORD shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together: for the mouth of the LORD hath spoken it.

The voice said, Cry. And he said, What shall I cry? All flesh is grass, and all the goodliness thereof is as the flower of the field: The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: because the spirit of the LORD bloweth upon it: surely the people is grass. The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: but the word of our God shall stand for ever.

O Zion, that bringest good tidings, get thee up into the high mountain; O Jerusalem, that bringest good tidings, lift up thy voice with strength; lift it up, be not afraid; say unto the cities of Judah, Behold your God!

Behold, the Lord GOD will come with strong hand, and his arm shall rule for him: behold, his reward is with him, and his work before him.

He shall feed his flock like a shepherd: he shall gather the lambs with his arm, and carry them in his bosom, and shall gently lead those that are with young.

Luke 1:26-38 In the sixth month, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.”

Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God. You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end.”

“How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?”

The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be barren is in her sixth month. For nothing is impossible with God.”

“I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May it be to me as you have said.” Then the angel left her.

 

Mary Visits Elizabeth

Luke 1:39-45 At that time Mary got ready and hurried to a town in the hill country of Judea, where she entered Zechariah’s home and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. In a loud voice she exclaimed: “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear! But why am I so favored, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. Blessed is she who has believed that what the Lord has said to her will be accomplished!”

 

Mary’s Song

Luke 1:46-55 And Mary said:
“My soul glorifies the Lord
and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
for he has been mindful
of the humble state of his servant.
From now on all generations will call me blessed,
for the Mighty One has done great things for me—
holy is his name.
His mercy extends to those who fear him,
from generation to generation.
He has performed mighty deeds with his arm;
he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts.
He has brought down rulers from their thrones
but has lifted up the humble.
He has filled the hungry with good things
but has sent the rich away empty.
He has helped his servant Israel,
remembering to be merciful
to Abraham and his descendants forever,
even as he said to our fathers.”

 

Zechariah’s Song

Luke 1:67-79 His father Zechariah was filled with the Holy Spirit and prophesied:
“Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel,
because he has come and has redeemed his people.
He has raised up a horn of salvation for us
in the house of his servant David
(as he said through his holy prophets of long ago),
salvation from our enemies
and from the hand of all who hate us—
to show mercy to our fathers
and to remember his holy covenant,
the oath he swore to our father Abraham:
to rescue us from the hand of our enemies,
and to enable us to serve him without fear
in holiness and righteousness before him all our days.
And you, my child, will be called a prophet of the Most High;
for you will go on before the Lord to prepare the way for him,
to give his people the knowledge of salvation
through the forgiveness of their sins,
because of the tender mercy of our God,
by which the rising sun will come to us from heaven
to shine on those living in darkness
and in the shadow of death,
to guide our feet into the path of peace.”

 

These Christmas Bible verses reveal that God has given the greatest gift to the world—eternal life—and that life is in his Son, Jesus Christ. As Christians we celebrate his birth at Christmas, yet even more, we praise God for the gift of salvation and eternal life that was given to us though Jesus Christ.

 

The Gift of Eternal Life

Romans 6:23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

1 John 5:11 And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son.

John 3:16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

Titus 3:4-7 But when the kindness and the love of God our Savior toward man appeared, not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He savedus, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior, that having been justified by His grace we should become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.

John 10:27-28 My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish. No one can snatch them away from me.

1 Timothy 1:15-17 Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst. But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his unlimited patience as an example for those who would believe on him and receive eternal life. Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory for ever and ever. Amen.

Christmas is a set time every year for God’s children around the world to do what they did that first year, and what it says to do in this Psalm…Giving thanks to God for His goodness and His wonderful works to the children of men. Christ was sent to us. It says let us declare His works with rejoicing.

Psa 107:21 Oh, that men would give thanks to the Lord for His goodness, And for His wonderful works to the children of men! Psa 107:22 Let them sacrifice the sacrifices of thanksgiving, And declare His works with rejoicing.

We need to tell the world about His birth for other reasons. Why? Because it is different from any other birth. Included are verses that teach us about Jesus’ birth. A Lot of them are told only during the Christmas season. We learn He was born of a virgin, He was born the Son of God, King of the Jews, born under the law, born to redeem those under the law, born a King, born of the will of God, born as a Savior and as the Christ. Because of Him we can cry out Abba Father.

Mat 2:1 Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, Mat 2:2 saying, “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the East and have come to worship Him.”

Gal 4:4 But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, Gal 4:5 to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons. Gal 4:6 And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying out, “Abba, Father!”

Mat 1:16 And Jacob begot Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus who is called Christ.

Jesus, John and Luke explained to us Jesus’ birth and purpose in detail. It is in the explaining and telling these verses that people can come to know Him and understand how special His birth was…

Joh 18:37 Pilate therefore said to Him, “Are You a king then?” Jesus answered, “You say rightly that I am a king. For this cause I was born, and for this cause I have come into the world, that I should bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice.”

Joh 1:13 who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.

Mat 1:18 Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows: After His mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Spirit. Mat 1:19 Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not wanting to make her a public example, was minded to put her away secretly. Mat 1:20 But while he thought about these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take to you Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. Mat 1:21 And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.” Mat 1:22 So all this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying: Mat 1:23 “BEHOLD, THE VIRGIN SHALL BE WITH CHILD, AND BEAR A SON, AND THEY SHALL CALL HIS NAME IMMANUEL,” which is translated, “God with us.” Mat 1:24 Then Joseph, being aroused from sleep, did as the angel of the Lord commanded him and took to him his wife, Mat 1:25 and did not know her till she had brought forth her firstborn Son. And he called His name

Luk 2:11 For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.

If people don’t teach and tell clearly every year the whole story of Jesus’ birth, how can people know these things? Let’s do as Jesus, the prophets, disciples, wise men and angels did. Let’s join them to tell others about the good news of Jesus and His birth in the Gospels!

 

Pagan holidays

Since Christmas is about God sending Christ to us, …. it is important to see what really is ok with God and what is not, based on His word. Some of the most common activities, I surprisingly found are rooted and based in the Scriptures.

Some Messianics teach that the Israelites thought they were worshiping the true God with the golden calf, the way He wanted them to worship Him, and they compare this to celebrating Christmas. Yet, this is not a correct comparison. Christmas to Christians is not worshipping a golden calf; it is worshipping a Person, Jesus Christ, God’s very own Son. There is a big difference between worshipping the One true God, or a god made of gold. You cannot compare the two, and by sharing things that are not true, puts a false burden of guilt on those who choose to celebrate Christmas.

Christians throughout the centuries have taken pagan celebrations down so to speak, and instead shared Christ throughout the world. Because of this, God is glorified and magnified! The disciples proclaimed the verses that we share during this holiday. They told specifically about Jesus’ birth in detail, as well as His death and Resurrection. That’s what they did the most in the Gospels, Epistles and other Books. Even the Prophets told about His birth and death.

Some ask: Do you think God cares that we His people chose on our own to celebrate His Son’s birth on the day that every pagan culture in the world celebrated the sun god? Can I answer that please? Yes! I believe He does care and it sounds like He cares very much by what He said about doing things like that. Based on the Scriptures below, I believe God would be very happy His children did that. For at least one reason, because He told us to do that very thing in His word! Christians took over an ungodly, pagan holiday and gave the people the real meaning to celebrate. I believe God would be very pleased His children did this and instead wanted to help people convert to Christianity. We need to look correctly at this to see the reason why His children did this. It was to tell the truth about the Son of God, so people could come to Him, be saved and worship Him too.

Most importantly this is a Biblical principal that was taught in the OT. God repeatedly told His people to go into the land and destroy the people, customs and false teachings of the land, and to tear down their idols. Instead they were to teach His ways and exalt and worship Him. Again, this is the very thing the believers did. They did not destroy people, because the NT shows us not to that, but they destroyed the false teaching of the celebration of the sun god and tore it down, so to speak. They replaced it with the truth of the message of the SON of God. They told people He is the Light of the World, not a false sun god! They taught people to celebrate and honor the Son of God Himself, and to come to Him for life. They outlined His story specifically from the Scriptures to teach people about the truth of His birth, life, death and resurrection so they could understand His purpose. They sang Him songs and drew close to Him. They replaced the false teaching with the truth from the Scriptures.

God is pleased with this, I am sure. Why? Again, because God was quite strict about His people removing the false god and false worship and exalting Him instead. He asked them why they had not obeyed Him by tearing down the false god’s alters. As a result of His people allowing the alters of the false gods to stand, God said they would be thorns in their side and their gods would be a snare to them. The people then wept.

 

Jdg 2:2  And you shall make no covenant with the inhabitants of this land; you shall tear down their altars.’ But you have not obeyed My voice. Why have you done this? Jdg 2:3  Therefore I also said, ‘I will not drive them out before you; but they shall be thorns in your side, and their gods shall be a snare to you.’ ” Jdg 2:4  So it was, when the Angel of the Lord spoke these words to all the children of Israel, that the people lifted up their voices and wept.

 

The believers who originated the celebration of Christ and told the people about Him actually tore down the false god’s alter. The bottom line is they obeyed God, and as a result the false god is not a snare or thorn to us centuries later. Instead, God, His ways, His word and His Son have been exalted and taught ever since! Again, the Lord said to tear down the false altar and build an alter to the Lord. These altars to the Lord (the celebration and honor of His Son and speaking and teaching about Him from His Word) have brought glory to God and His Son throughout the centuries, due to their obedience.

Jdg 6:25 Now it came to pass the same night that the Lord said to him, “Take your father’s young bull, the second bull of seven years old, and tear down the altar of Baal that your father has, and cut down the wooden image that is beside it; Jdg 6:26 and build an altar to the Lord your God on top of this rock in the proper arrangement, and take the second bull and offer a burnt sacrifice with the wood of the image which you shall cut down.”

We read that Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego did not serve or worship any god except their own God! As a result the ungodly came to God and praised Him, and God was blessed because of it. This is what the early Christians did too. Since they did not worship the false god, but tore it down and exalted and taught about the only One true God and His Son, the ungodly come to Him yearly for salvation and life!

Dan 3:28 Nebuchadnezzar spoke, saying, “Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego, who sent His Angel and delivered His servants who trusted in Him, and they have frustrated the king’s word, and yielded their bodies, that they should not serve nor worship any god except their own God!

As an act of obedience by God’s children, He and His Son are glorified and Jesus’ life and purpose are told. This was probably the most evangelical thing ever done! Even on the day that every pagan culture in the world celebrated the sun god, but now close to 2,000 years later we still celebrate the Son of God instead. God has the victory and is glorified! We see that this is an OT and NT principle!

Rom 12:21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

The message of Christ was brought to the pagans, which is what Jesus did. He went to the sinners and ate with them. Didn’t He come to us? Didn’t He bring His light into our darkness? We are told to do the same thing. I believe according to several OT and NT principles outlined below, it is a good thing the Christian leaders counteracted that practice of celebrating the wrong god by giving believers Christian days to celebrate Jesus instead.

Additional helpful verses regarding false gods:

God tells us we shall have no other gods before Him. The believers obeyed and did not worship the sun god or any other god.

Exo 20:3  “You shall have no other gods before Me.

What the believers did actually helps new believers or non believers to not be snared by the false god, as we are told to do. Non believers or weaker believers may have been tempted to join the festivities of the pagan god. Instead, the stronger believers gave them a reason to really celebrate and worship God’s Son. They obeyed God by taking heed not to be ensnared, or follow after the popular god of that time.

Deu 12:30  take heed to yourself that you are not ensnared to follow them, after they are destroyed from before you, and that you do not inquire after their gods, saying, ‘How did these nations serve their gods? I also will do likewise.’

Because the believers offered a godly option, the people did not serve the gods according to the rituals of the nations.

2Ki 17:33  They feared the Lord, yet served their own gods–according to the rituals of the nations from among whom they were carried away.

The believers who initiated Christmas celebrations didn’t do as Israel did by worshipping the gods of the countries around them. They did not forsake the Lord, but served Him and His Son. They taught about Him and worshiped Him.

Jdg 10:6  Then the children of Israel again did evil in the sight of the Lord, and served the Baals and the Ashtoreths, the gods of Syria, the gods of Sidon, the gods of Moab, the gods of the people of Ammon, and the gods of the Philistines; and they forsook the Lord and did not serve Him.

In the New Testament we see similar warnings not to worship other gods.

1Co 10:14  Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry.

Gal 4:8  But then, indeed, when you did not know God, you served those which by nature are not gods.

We are to expose unfruitful works of darkness, which the worship of the sun god was, and we are to have no fellowship with it. The believers obeyed and didn’t join people in false worship, but gave them the real reason to worship. And the real reason is God’s Son.

Eph 5:11  And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them.

Jesus tells us true worshippers worship Him in spirit and in truth. That is what we do at Christmas. We worship Him in our spirits and by telling the truth of His story.

Joh 4:23  But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. Joh 4:24  God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.”

Paul praised the believers at Thessalonica for turning from idols to serve the living God. Again, this is what is done when we celebrate Jesus. We worship and server the living and true God.

1Th 1:9  For they themselves declare concerning us what manner of entry we had to you, and how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God,

Paul shared that he was grieved by seeing a whole city given over to worshipping idols. It is very possible that those who initiated Christmas were grieved at whole cities given over to idol worship of a pagan sun god.

Act 17:16  Now while Paul waited for them at Athens, his spirit was provoked within him when he saw that the city was given over to idols.

Based on an OT precedent, they used a holiday to praise and thank God and be good to others and give gifts to each other. Fellowship, getting together with family and friends to celebrate, remember, honor, sing and eat are just the same to me as when Jesus and His disciples got together and fellowshipped and ate together. He even did this after His resurrection, which shows me that fellowship and getting together to be close to others is important to God. To be with those you love and to celebrate Him and His birth and resurrection are good things.

Gift Giving

Interestingly, we find Gods children giving gifts to one another and celebrating in the OT. The very acts of gift giving, feasting, joy, sending presents to one another and giving gifts to the poor with gladness as a holiday is actually Biblical.

We see in the Bible there was a special holiday created with the act of giving gifts to people. A pagan earthly king made a holiday to honor his wife, Queen Esther! God did not say it was wrong to decree this holiday, nor did Queen Esther, a Godly Jew, object to it. This holiday was initiated out of love and generosity we are told. 2 things that are very important to God…

Est 2:17 The king loved Esther more than all the other women, and she obtained grace and favor in his sight more than all the virgins; so he set the royal crown upon her head and made her queen instead of Vashti. Est 2:18 Then the king made a great feast, the Feast of Esther, for all his officials and servants; and he proclaimed a holiday in the provinces and gave gifts according to the generosity of a king.

The king rewarded Mordecai and took off his signet ring and gave it to him and put him in a position of authority when Haman’s wicked plan was exposed.

Est 8:2 So the king took off his signet ring, which he had taken from Haman, and gave it to Mordecai; and Esther appointed Mordecai over the house of Haman.

God allowed Queen Esther and Mordecai to be elevated to positions where they could write decrees. The king gave Mordecai royal apparel of blue and white, a great crown of gold and a garment of fine linen and purple. Mordecai became great in the kings palace and his fame spread throughout the provinces.

Est 8:7 Then King Ahasuerus said to Queen Esther and Mordecai the Jew, “Indeed, I have given Esther the house of Haman, and they have hanged him on the gallows because he tried to lay his hand on the Jews. Est 8:8 You yourselves write a decree concerning the Jews, as you please, in the king’s name, and seal it with the king’s signet ring; for whatever is written in the king’s name and sealed with the king’s signet ring no one can revoke.” …Est 8:15 So Mordecai went out from the presence of the king in royal apparel of blue and white, with a great crown of gold and a garment of fine linen and purple; and the city of Shushan rejoiced and was glad. Est 9:4 For Mordecai was great in the king’s palace, and his fame spread throughout all the provinces; for this man Mordecai became increasingly prominent.

We are told, as a result of overcoming the enemy, they celebrated, with gladness and feasting, as a holiday, and sent presents to one another.

Est 9:1 Now in the twelfth month, that is, the month of Adar, on the thirteenth day, the time came for the king’s command and his decree to be executed. On the day that the enemies of the Jews had hoped to overpower them, the opposite occurred, in that the Jews themselves overpowered those who hated them… Est 9:19 Therefore the Jews of the villages who dwelt in the unwalled towns celebrated the fourteenth day of the month of Adar with gladness and feasting, as a holiday, and for sending presents to one another.

Mordecai as a leader sent letters to all the people and told them they should yearly celebrate the day they had rest from their enemies. Their sorrow was turned to joy and from mourning to a holiday. They were told again they should make them days of feasting and joy, of sending presents to one another and giving of gifts to the poor.

Est 9:20 And Mordecai wrote these things and sent letters to all the Jews, near and far, who were in all the provinces of King Ahasuerus, Est 9:21 to establish among them that they should celebrate yearly the fourteenth and fifteenth days of the month of Adar, Est 9:22 as the days on which the Jews had rest from their enemies, as the month which was turned from sorrow to joy for them, and from mourning to a holiday; that they should make them days of feasting and joy, of sending presents to one another and gifts to the poor. Est 9:23 So the Jews accepted the custom which they had begun, as Mordecai had written to them,

Here we are told that God’s children established and imposed a holiday upon themselves and their descendants to celebrate these 2 days every year.

Est 9:27 the Jews established and imposed it upon themselves and their descendants and all who would join them, that without fail they should celebrate these two days every year, according to the written instructions and according to the prescribed time, Est 9:28 that these days should be remembered and kept throughout every generation, every family, every province, and every city, that these days of Purim should not fail to be observed among the Jews, and that the memory of them should not perish among their descendants.

It says Queen Esther and Mordecai (both Leaders and God’s children) wrote with full authority and had words of peace and truth.

Est 9:29 Then Queen Esther, the daughter of Abihail, with Mordecai the Jew, wrote with full authority to confirm this second letter about Purim. Est 9:30 And Mordecai sent letters to all the Jews, to the one hundred and twenty-seven provinces of the kingdom of Ahasuerus, with words of peace and truth,

We are told that Mordecai became a great leader of the Jews and was second in command to the king.

Est 10:3 For Mordecai the Jew was second to King Ahasuerus, and was great among the Jews and well received by the multitude of his brethren, seeking the good of his people and speaking peace to all his countrymen.

I included these verses to show the succession of events. That God took 2 of His people and gave them favor. He raised them to position of Queen and 2nd in command to the king. During this time, they established and instituted upon themselves, in full authority a holiday of gift giving and rejoicing, because of the freedom God gave them. They thanked God and gave gifts to each other – 2 very important themes of the Bible… being thankful and giving.

Why can’t we as Christians (God’s children) have full authority to celebrate Jesus with words of peace and truth and gift giving and singing? Much like they did. He is so much more a reason to celebrate, although their freedom was a very important thing. Our freedom from a false holiday of the sun god set by pagans, to the real holiday of the Son of God is cause for us to celebrate our freedom from the false god to the true God. We should be grateful generations before us did the right thing and have continued to since then!

Regarding gifts in the NT, we are told by Paul that we are to give and we will be blessed with the same measure …

Luk 6:38 Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you.”

Jesus gave gifts to men. Spiritual gifts…

Eph 4:8 Therefore He says: “WHEN HE ASCENDED ON HIGH, HE LED CAPTIVITY CAPTIVE, AND GAVE GIFTS TO MEN.” (Caps not mine)

We are told we are to remember the poor. .

Gal 2:10 They desired only that we should remember the poor, the very thing which I also was eager to do.

Jesus says it is more blessed to give than receive…

Act 20:35 I have shown you in every way, by laboring like this, that you must support the weak. And remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’ “

God says He loves a cheerful giver. We need to give as we purpose in our hearts and to do it cheerfully. It is good to give and we can be very cheerful doing it.

2Co 9:7 So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver.

Paul says it is good to be rich in good works, ready to give and willing to share…

1Ti 6:18 Let them do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to give, willing to share,

Christmas is a good time to give to the poor, even though we should do this throughout the year. During this time, there are many lonely people who may have lost loved ones, and just need to feel special and cared for. Giving shows the Christian message and is the very heart of God. For God so love the world He gave us His Son!!! Ministries like Angel Tree so children can have gifts, and canned goods for the poor, Rescue Missions, etc are examples of how we can reach out to those around us and show people that we care with the love and blessings of Christ!

I think it is good to ask ourselves…does annually celebrating Christ’s birth and remembering and honoring Him contradict any of the commandments or laws that Paul gave us? No it doesn’t. God’s children are doing nothing wrong to celebrate the birth of His Son. In fact, praising and thanking God for the gift of His Son is like giving God thanks for His very costly gift to us every year.

Lift Him Up!

Another reason I believe it is important for believers to celebrate Christmas and the Resurrection Day is because we are specifically told to lift up Jesus. We are told this by Jesus, the Son of God, Himself. He says if we lift Him up, He will draw all men to Him. He makes it clear if I (not Moses or Abraham or David etc) be lifted up, I will draw all men unto Myself!

Joh 12:32 And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all peoples to Myself.”

He also says in the OT that He will be exalted among the heathen and in the earth. How will the heathen hear if we don’t celebrate Him and His life and purpose in such a worldwide way?

Ps 46:10  Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth.

It seems like the Hebrew Roots and Messianic Ministries are promoting removing the celebration of the 2 holidays that specifically lift up the Messiah, the Son of God in detail regarding His birth, death and resurrection. It seems like some people feel a sort of pride or smugness and justification that they are doing the right thing, and that God would be pleased with them doing this. Yet I ask you to really consider what you are promoting doing. You want to remove the yearly telling of stories about His Son directly from the Scriptures during this time, and the honor of Him throughout the world. If you call yourself a Christian, this doesn’t make sense. Now for the world to want that, I can fully understand.

We saw how the precedent was set by Queen Esther that they celebrated the holidays they determined on their own, every year. I believe God saw their heart and what they wanted to do. I believe because what they wanted to do was good, God did not object. It was not only good in that it gave God praise and thanks, but in that it was doing good to each other in giving gifts and having joy and feasting. It was a happy time of celebration. They even said these days should be remembered and kept throughout every generation, every family, every province, and every city… Isn’t this what the believers began with lifting up the Lord by telling of His birth, death and resurrection? These holidays are remembered and kept throughout every generation by God’s children.

Jesus told us a 2nd time very clearly that the Son of Man must be lifted up. We need to lift up the Son of Man in every way we can, especially as believers. This is so whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life, Jesus tells us…

Joh 3:14 And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up, Joh 3:15 that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.

Christmas and the Resurrection Day lift Jesus up, and not only that but they have been the most evangelical Christian holidays that God has used to spread His word throughout the entire world. That is because the prophecy from Isaiah and the other verses about Jesus are being told over and over every year…

Isa 9:6…  For unto us a Child is born, Unto us a Son is given…

Paul told us to have our love abound, have discernment, approve things that are excellent. We need to have discernment that it is excellent to honor and remember Jesus and tell the world about Him. It is also excellent to have our love abound to Him and others. This is to the glory and praise of God, which is what Paul wanted. People are filled with love, which is a fruit of righteousness.

Php 1:9 And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in knowledge and all discernment, Php 1:10 that you may approve the things that are excellent, that you may be sincere and without offense till the day of Christ, Php 1:11 being filled with the fruits of righteousness which are by Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.

He then went on to say that the things that happened to him actually turned out for the furtherance of the gospel. I realize he was talking about being in chains, but the point is he was concerned with the furtherance of the gospel, the Good News of the Kingdom. This is just what these holidays do.

Php 1:12 But I want you to know, brethren, that the things which happened to me have actually turned out for the furtherance of the gospel,

Paul addressed the issue that some may preach Christ from wrong motives and some from goodwill. However Paul stressed that the latter do it out of love, and that he was appointed for the defense of the gospel. He went further to tell us that only in every way, whether the gospel is preached in pretense or truth, Christ is preached and he rejoiced. He stressed a second time that he rejoiced. The gospel is preached from sincere Christians out of love and it furthers the gospel, so Paul would rejoice. It sounds to me like he would rejoice if people preached the gospel (as it is during Christmas and the Resurrection Day) even if it were done out of wrong motives, but most are doing it from a sincere heart and love for God. As Paul said in so many words, what does it matter as long as Christ is preached?

Php 1:15 Some indeed preach Christ even from envy and strife, and some also from goodwill: Php 1:16 The former preach Christ from selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing to add affliction to my chains; Php 1:17 but the latter out of love, knowing that I am appointed for the defense of the gospel. Php 1:18 What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is preached; and in this I rejoice, yes, and will rejoice.

 

Very importantly, even if these holidays began for the wrong reasons, which it doesn’t look like they did, or if the devil tried to throw in pagan things, the Christians took it over and started to preach Christ instead. This is good and, we saw previously that God told us to do things like this!

Jesus says we are like a city on a hill and the light of the world…

Mat 5:14 “You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.

Nativity Displays

It is even interesting to see the creativity of the believers in wanting to tell the story of Jesus in different ways. We see this in the value of Nativity displays. They also help explain and teach the story of Christ’s birth for children and the world alike. It is a visual message that puts all eyes on Jesus once again. I can only imagine that God would be pleased with this as well. It is a completely different way of lifting Jesus up, which is probably why the world has also been fighting to remove these from city and public property as well!

Songs

Songs have been written that tell the Good News of Jesus’ birth according to Scriptures from Matt, Luke and other verses. They take the different verses and explain them in song form, which is once again another way to share the story of Jesus. It is like singing God’s Word when we sing Christmas songs, and it is another powerful way God has used to share His Good News throughout the centuries. It has also helped keep His message going in word form, which we are admonished to do.

God has been honored by every means people have used to share His story… through preaching verses, saying Merry Christmas, using Nativity displays and singing songs. As we sing the songs, it is like explaining and rejoicing in the Scriptures. Again, He tells us His word won’t go out void. As these stories are told and retold from the Scriptures every year even in song form, people come to Jesus, repent and want to follow Him and give Him their lives. We are doing as Paul says. Sing hymns and make melody in your heart to the Lord. We are also told to let the word of Christ dwell in us richly, teaching and singing spiritual songs to the Lord.

Rom 15:9 and that the Gentiles might glorify God for His mercy, as it is written: “FOR THIS REASON I WILL CONFESS TO YOU AMONG THE GENTILES, AND SING TO YOUR NAME.”

Eph 5:19 speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord,

Col 3:16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.

We are also told to sing to Him and exalt Him in the OT…

Psa 34:3 Oh, magnify the Lord with me, And let us exalt His name together.

Psa 99:5 Exalt the Lord our God, And worship at His footstool– He is holy.

Psa 107:32 Let them exalt Him also in the assembly of the people, And praise Him in the company of the elders.

Isa 25:1 O Lord, You are my God. I will exalt You, I will praise Your name, For You have done wonderful things; Your counsels of old are faithfulness and truth.

Job 36:24 “Remember to magnify His work, Of which men have sung.

Psa 69:30 I will praise the name of God with a song, And will magnify Him with thanksgiving.

This is what the Biblical account of the birth of Jesus and the songs do to me and millions of people around the world. I LOVE the songs that are Scripturally based and explain the story of Christ’s birth and our salvation. So many of the songs that are near and dear to my heart and make my soul feel close to and very appreciative of God and Christ actually are a proclamation of the Good News of the Kingdom… Fall on your knees and hear the angel’s voices, O night divine when Christ was born… Go tell it on the mountain that Jesus Christ is born…

The Date: December 25th

Apparently during Paul’s time there was a dispute among believers about which days they were to observe. To make it clear to people which days to observe, Paul said he who observes the day, observes it to the Lord. This seemed to be the criteria, to observe it to the Lord, which is what I and many other believers do worldwide. He left it up to the person to observe a day to the Lord. He did not say, you must observe this day or that. If God had wanted us to, He would have told Paul to make it clear to us, but instead he gave us freedom. After all we read that Jesus revealed things to Paul to teach us. We have liberty in Christ to observe a day to the Lord if we want to…

Rom 14:5 One person esteems one day above another; another esteems every day alike. Let each be fully convinced in his own mind. Rom 14:6 He who observes the day, observes it to the Lord…

Because we do not know the date, does that mean we can’t celebrate Christ’s birth or that God’s people desired to honor Him, remember His birth, sing songs about Him and read Scriptures? We will never really know the actual date. We don’t even know for sure the exact year He was born. Does that mean we can’t make a holiday to celebrate Him? We want to remember and worship God’s Son, because we love Him and give thanks for His most Precious gift!

Some people say it could not have been in December due to the weather … that the shepherds could not have been in their fields, as it was the rainy season. However, we know some seasons are milder than others during different years. In Bethlehem the temperatures ranged from a high of 72.0 °F on (12/01/2006) to a low of -9.0 °F(12/31/1917)

http://weather.yahoo.com/climo/USPA0125_f.html?woeid=2363557.

Therefore, even if it were in the 40’s, 50’s or 60’s °F that year in Bethlehem, the shepherds could have stayed in the fields in December. It would not hurt sheep to be out at night in that temperature. It is interesting to read that Jacob said he took care of the sheep in the day of drought and the frost by night.

Gen 31:38 This twenty years have I been with thee; thy ewes and thy she goats have not cast their young, and the rams of thy flock have I not eaten. 39 That which was torn of beasts I brought not unto thee; I bare the loss of it; of my hand didst thou require it, whether stolen by day, or stolen by night. Gen 31:40 Thus I was; in the day the drought consumed me, and the frost by night; and my sleep departed from mine eyes.

 

From these verses it sounds like Jacob stayed with the sheep even in frost by night. It has to be an extremely cold night to have frost.  Yet he said he did so for 20 years. We also saw above that the weather can vary a vast range in the course of a century. So we really cannot say it wasn’t December for sure. That may be getting too technical. I read that the believers did their best to determine the date based on the records they had. God knows the heart and if that is true, then it sounds like they were trying to do the right thing,

Another reason Jesus could have been born in December even if it were very cold, and even if it was snowing, is from information a vet in Wisconsin gave. She says it is best for the sheep to stay out in winter. Even in snow. She tells people how to care for their sheep in the cold in “Winter Sheep Care” http://www.littlehats.net/gessert01.html …“There is no need to house wooled sheep indoors during the cold winter months. I repeat, there is no need to house wooled sheep indoors during the winter!”… She said that about sheep in Wisconsin, and yet it doesn’t get as cold in Bethlehem as it does in Wisconsin during the winter.

So again these facts show that it could have actually been December like the early church set out to determine.

Traditions

The Pharisees were making the word of God of no effect through their tradition. Christians have not done this, but instead shared the word of God and have born good fruit in every nation. There is a big difference!

Mar 7:13 making the word of God of no effect through your tradition which you have handed down. And many such things you do.”

Paul even said to beware lest any man cheat us through tradition of men, not Christ. Christmas and The Resurrection day focus on and are based on Christ, not tradition. No one is cheated, instead they are blessed and God is too.

Col 2:8 Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ.

 

According to Jesus they were transgressing the commandment of God, because of their traditions. He said they taught as doctrines the commandments of men… They were man made traditions, not the teaching and worship of God’s Son.

 

Mat 15:3  He answered and said to them, “Why do you also transgress the commandment of God because of your tradition?…Mat 15:9  AND IN VAIN THEY WORSHIP ME, TEACHING AS DOCTRINES THE COMMANDMENTS OF MEN.’ “(Caps not mine.)

Peter said we were redeemed not with corruptible things received from the traditions of our fathers, but with the precious blood of Jesus, as a lamb without spot or blemish. Again, Christmas and the Resurrection Day tell the Good News and show the traditions and ways of our fathers were aimless, if they were not based on God’s word. These holidays are based on God’s word and tell about Jesus being a Lamb without spot or blemish!

1Pe 1:18 knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, 1Pe 1:19 but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot. 1Pe 1:20 He indeed was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you

For sincere believers, to tell the verses and story of Jesus from God’s word is not done in tradition. Neither is appreciating and honoring Him and drawing close to Him. It is obeying Scriptures. So for me, Christmas is not a tradition. It is essential. It is life-giving. The more I study the Bible, the more I have come to realize how many of the things we do at Christmas’ time have their foundation straight from the Bible. The verses we share are taken right out of Matthew 1:18 – 2 and Luke 1 – 2. It cannot be a tradition, because we are told to share the Gospel by Jesus Himself…

Mar 16:15 And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.

Christmas is teaching people the truth. It is where we learn about God and sinner reconciled, like the Christmas song says… Hark, the herald angels sing, Glory to the newborn king, Peace on earth and mercy mild, God and sinners reconciled. The song is sharing the message of reconciliation from the Bible… How can that be tradition?

Rom 5:10 For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.

And, Col 1:21 And you, who once were alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now He has reconciled.

2Co 5:18 Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation,

2Co 5:20 Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God.

Christmas is about celebrating God being manifest in the flesh as a Man. It is about Immanuel, God with us! How else would people know all those things around the world as they do, unless they read the Bible or were told and retold them on a massive scale throughout time by the celebration of Christmas?

Christmas Tree

Some people are concerned with the verse from Jeremiah 10 that they think is talking about a Christmas tree. However; the passage shows that Israel was cutting down a tree, carving it into an idol to worship, and decorating it with gold and silver, and then worshiping it. This is not what a Christmas Tree represents or how it is used by believers. It is merely a cultural decoration.

The Lord told Israel to take branches of palm trees and boughs of leafy trees and the willows of the brook and rejoice before the Lord. He also did say that all who are Israelites born (native Israelites) shall dwell in booths. It was for those who were born Israelites to dwell in a booth.

Lev 23:40 And ye shall take you on the first day the boughs of goodly trees, branches of palm trees, and the boughs of thick trees, and willows of the brook; and ye shall rejoice before the LORD your God seven days. Lev 23:41 And ye shall keep it a feast unto the LORD seven days in the year. It shall be a statute for ever in your generations: ye shall celebrate it in the seventh month. Lev 23:42 Ye shall dwell in booths seven days; all that are Israelites born shall dwell in booths:

 

We don’t know people’s hearts, but I would think that whoever put the star of Bethlehem on the tree must have meant well, and used it as a way to tell about Jesus’ birth. Whoever put lights on the tree may have meant it to show that Jesus is the Light of the world. These were just more ways to tell the story of Jesus’ birth. It seems wise to me to take caution to not judge people’s hearts when they were trying to tell the story of Jesus.

 

Preach the Gospel

 

The story (good news) of Jesus is to be spoken over and over throughout the generations, so people can come to God through His Son. Again, very importantly Jesus told us to preach the gospel to every creature. Celebrating Christmas  and  the Resurrection Day do this.

 

Mar 16:5 And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.

 

We are even told that an angel had the everlasting gospel to be preached…

Rev 14 6-7 Then I saw another angel flying in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach to those who dwell on the earth to every nation, tribe, tongue, and people– saying with a loud voice, “Fear God and give glory to Him…

 

Judgment Day

A good question to ask yourself may be…, do you really want to stand before God on Judgment Day and say that you believed and spoke against people proclaiming and honoring His Son’s birth, death and resurrection according to the Scriptures? And that you wanted no part of those verses being read and celebrated yearly? And that you didn’t want people to say Merry Christmas, which we saw means God sent His Son, rejoice. Or you didn’t want to worship His Son and celebrate Him by singing Him songs as we are told to do? Also that you spoke against His believers tearing down the wrong god and rising up the right God, even though He commanded us to do things like that. Based on the verses I quoted, and there are so many, we should want to honor His Son and be a part of sharing His word in song and teaching.

Finally, I am very grateful my parents taught me about Jesus and Christmas. I could have been born in a family that worshiped false gods. My parents did the best they could to have us learn about Jesus. I am grateful as a child I had Jesus to turn to. I am so grateful that my grandmother had a strong faith in God. She had to escape during the war in Italy with her daughter by herself, because her husband was in the army. She was bombed with glass falling into the room and had to get both of them under a mattress for protection. As they escaped to the country, she had to walk past people who had died, but she had a strong faith in God and His Son, that she passed on to her daughter and grandchildren, and for that I will be forever thankful!

Christmas is where we focus on love…Again, for God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, Immanuel God with us. It tells us of His virgin birth and that he came down from heaven to earth to save us and show us a way to the Father. We can only come to the Father through the Son. It is my prayer that this article helps you do that. Merry Christmas! Christ was sent!

 

 

 

 

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