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Posts Tagged ‘mysticism’

*** 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).

================

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?

==================
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.

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Myth. Jesus celebrated Hanukkah not Christmas, and we should be celebrating Chanukkah instead of pagan Christmas.

A.   Hanukkah is a celebration and holiday within Judaism about the Jewish people, for practicing Jews of Judaism only. It is an offence to them for Gentiles and those outside of Judaism to participate in this holiday and we as believers in Jesus Christ are called to cause none offence.

Although it is suggested that Hanukkah be celebrated because of the universal desire of mankind for liberty, within Judaism many believe it to be a memorial about the historical and ongoing conflict of Jewish culture and faith versus non-Jewish beliefs and what many call the Gentile/Greek influences and faith.

Others articulate that the celebration of these festivals is to continue strengthening the Jewish people in all aspects of their lives. The very name of Hanukkah imparts the belief that when Jews have dedicated themselves to their faith and through the pursuit of their religious ideals, Judaism is strong. The goal then is to strengthen the Jewish religion and their people and that is what is being commemorated in celebrating Hanukkah.1

Also called Lights, The Feast of Lights, or Feast of the Maccabees, 2 the historical name for the festival was not the Feast of Lights but the Feast of Fire. 3.  Hanukkah, (also Hannukah, Chanukkah, Chanukah) which means Dedication, commemorates the rededication of the Temple in Jerusalem after having been desecrated by Gentile forces. Based on the Maccabean revolt (discussed below), and victory over Antiochus of Syria, the subsequent cleansing and rededication of the temple, culminated in the legend of the oil burning in the temple eight days, which many believe is true.

Jewish Rabbi Daniel Kohn, in answer to the question, “Is the miracle of Chanukah made up?” stated that the whole concept of the miracle of the oil, was indeed untrue. While stating that the actual lighting of the Menorah for the dedication of the Temple was real and based on spiritual significance, the rabbinic writings in the Talmud took the shift from the Maccabeean military victory to that of a claimed miracle of the oil for the Menorah. 4

The perceived glory of the Maccabean victory became overshadowed due to all they did that caused harm to fellow Jews and their focus became viewed as dangerous and containing seditious ideas that were to be suppressed. The fear of glorifying the military success of the Maccabeans while under Roman rule, formed the basis for the idea of inventing the story of the miracle of the oil to become the focus and with it, masked the truth about the Maccabees and their shameful legacy for many years. By reinventing the stories, the rabbis kept the holiday alive with a shift in focus and thereby inserted more religious significance. 5

Celebrated anywhere from late November to late December, for many within Judaism the eight day holiday has become very much a children’s holiday, reminiscent of Christmas and (for some) instead of Christmas, celebrated with decorated and lit Hanukkah ‘bushes’. It is a time when family comes together to commemorate this holiday by lighting a candle and exchanging gifts for each of the eight days, and eating special food. Traditionally children received gifts of coins which were meant as a remembrance of the coins minted by the Maccabee state after the military victory. The receiving of gifts on each of the eight days became a later tradition, meant to parallel what is done at Christmas with Christians, although Christians that do exchange gifts normally do so only on one day. Prayers and Psalms are recited according to Talmudic and kabbalist traditions. The prayers and recitations during Hanukkah have much to do with the view of the Jews’ salvation[s], redemption and miracles via God using the Maccabees and other people/wars/events historically.

Hanukkah in the Scriptures

The Hebrew word of hanukkah or chanukkah is used in the Old Testament eight times. It means ‘dedication.’ and is found in Numbers 7:10, 11, 84, 88; 2 Chronicles 7:9; Nehemiah 12:27 and Psalms 30:1. The secondary language found in the Old Testament, Aramaic, uses hanukkah precisely four times, in Daniel 3:2,3 and Ezra 6:16 & 17 and spells it chanukka. Invariably, the word hanukkah refers to the dedication of the altar in front of the Tent of Meeting, the Temple built by Solomon, or the wall of Jerusalem. The two times in Daniel 3 it is not used for those purposes, but rather is found used in reference to the dedication and worship of the image of Nebuchadnezzar in Babylon. Those that refused to worship it were to be thrown into a fire.

Daniel 3:3…. were gathered together  unto the dedication <chanukka’ (Aramaic)> of the image that Nebuchadnezzar the king had set up…”6

The one Scriptural reference to dedication in the New Testament is found in John 10:22. Many Messianics are using this passage to say that Jesus celebrated Hanukkah and therefore that means we should.

It is necessary to view the passage of John 10 as a whole first, and read the whole chapter because the verse in reference to the feast of dedication, does not in fact say that Jesus was celebrating it. It was a statement of what time of year it was.

John 10:22  And it was at  Jerusalem the feast of the dedication <egkainia>, and  it was winter.

G1456 >dedication <egkainia> 1456. ἐγκαίνια  egkainia

Thayer Definition:

1) dedication, consecration

1a) in particular the annual feast celebrated eight days beginning in the 25th of Chislev (middle of our December), instituted by Judas Maccabaeus [164 BC] in memory of the cleansing of the temple from the pollution of Antiochus Epiphanes”  7

Strong’s Hebrew and Greek Dictionaries > 1456…Neuter plural of a presumed compound from G1722 and G2537; innovatives, that is, (specifically) renewal (of religious services after the Antiochian interruption): – dedication.

Prior to verse 10:22, we see that the context began while Jesus was teaching in the Temple from chapter 8:

John 8:2 And early in the morning he came again into the temple, and all the people came unto him; and he sat down, and taught them.

John 8:12 Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.

John 8:13 The Pharisees therefore said unto him, Thou bearest record of thyself; thy record is not true.

John 8:52-54 Then said the Jews unto him, Now we know that thou hast a devil. Abraham is dead, and the prophets; and thou sayest, If a man keep my saying, he shall never taste of death. 53. Art thou greater than our father Abraham, which is dead? and the prophets are dead: whom makest thou thyself? 54. Jesus answered, If I honour myself, my honour is nothing: it is my Father that honoureth me; of whom ye say, that he is your God:

Joh 8:58 Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am. 59 Then took they up stones to cast at him: but Jesus hid himself, and went out of the temple, going through the midst of them, and so passed by. [KJV]

Jesus healed the blind man just after leaving the scene at the Temple, John 9:1, and said:

John 9:1 And as Jesus passed by, he saw a man which was blind from his birth.

2 And his disciples asked him, saying, Master, who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind?

3 Jesus answered, Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him.

4 I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work.

5 As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.

6 When he had thus spoken, he spat on the ground, and made clay of the spittle, and he anointed the eyes of the blind man with the clay, 7 And said unto him, Go, wash in the pool of Siloam, (which is by interpretation, Sent.) He went his way therefore, and washed, and came seeing. 8 The neighbours therefore, and they which before had seen him that he was blind, said, Is not this he that sat and begged?

John 9:14 And it was the sabbath day when Jesus made the clay, and opened his eyes. 15 Then again the Pharisees also asked him how he had received his sight. He said unto them, He put clay upon mine eyes, and I washed, and do see.

16 Therefore said some of the Pharisees, This man is not of God, because he keepeth not the sabbath day. Others said, How can a man that is a sinner do such miracles? And there was a division among them.

Joh 9:22 These words spake his parents, because they feared the Jews: for the Jews had agreed already, that if any man did confess that he was Christ, he should be put out of the synagogue. [KJV]

Summary –the Jews cast out the blind man cured by Jesus. Jesus finds him and reveals who He is and the healed man believes and worships Him.

–the Pharisees there witness this and are told they are blind

10:1-5–the sheepfold parable-the Pharisees did not understand

10:6-16–about the sheepfold, Christ the door of the sheep, Christ the good Shepherd, the hirelings, laying down His life for the sheep,

Jesus had been healing and teaching prior to healing the blind man, and the Pharisees were disputing him, some claiming He had a devil. Starting at verse 10:17, it says the following:

John 10:17  Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I might take it again.
18  No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This commandment have I received of my Father.
19  There was a division therefore again among the Jews for these sayings. 20  And many of them said, He hath a devil, and is mad; why hear ye him?
21  Others said, These are not the words of him that hath a devil. Can a devil open the eyes of the blind? 22  And it was at Jerusalem the feast of the dedication, and it was winter.
23  And Jesus walked in the temple in Solomon’s porch.
24  Then came the Jews round about him, and said unto him, How long dost thou make us to doubt? If thou be the Christ, tell us
plainly. 25  Jesus answered them, I told you, and ye believed not: the works that I do in my Father’s name, they bear witness of me.
26  But ye believe not, because ye are not of my sheep, as I said unto you.
27  My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me:
28  And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.
29  My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand.
30  I and my Father are one.
31  Then the Jews took up stones again to stone him.
32  Jesus answered them, Many good works have I showed you from my Father; for which of those works do ye stone me?
33  The Jews answered him, saying, For a good work we stone thee not; but for blasphemy; and because that thou, being a man, makest thyself God.

34 Jesus answered them, Is it not written in your law, I said, Ye are gods?
35 If he called them gods, unto whom the word of God came, and the scripture cannot be broken;
36 Say ye of him, whom the Father hath sanctified, and sent into the world, Thou blasphemest; because I said, I am the Son of God?
37 If I do not the works of my Father, believe me not.
38 But if I do, though ye believe not me, believe the works: that ye may know, and believe, that the Father is in me, and I in him.
39 Therefore they sought again to take him: but he escaped out of their hand,
40 And went away again beyond Jordan into the place where John at first baptized; and there he abode.
41 And many resorted unto him, and said, John did no miracle: but all things that John spake of this man were true. 42 And many believed on him there.
[KJV]

Many of the Jewish and Gentile people gathered in Solomon’s porch because it was winter and it was cold. Solomon’s porch bordered the outer court and was where the Gentiles congregated, because they were not allowed into the inner court with the Jews. Jews could interact with the Gentiles on the porch, which was located on the east side of the outer court of Herod’s Temple, i.e. the Second Temple. There was a sign posted at the inner court warning all non-Jews that to enter would be punishable by death. The actual quote inscribed on the sign tablet[s], read:

“No foreigner may enter within the railing and enclosure that surround the Temple. Anyone apprehended shall have himself to blame for his consequent death!” 8

Alfred Edersheim suggests in his writing, The Temple-It’s Ministry and Service in the time of Jesus Christ, written during his seven volume work from 1876-87, “…These halls or porches around the Court of the Gentiles must have been most convenient places for friendly or religious intercourse- meetings or discussions.” 9

Jesus went to where the people were and spoke the truth of who He was. He was not received by most of the Jews present, especially the Pharisees, which many Messianics claim Jesus was celebrating with. They, in fact, wanted to stone Him. There is nothing that says Jesus entered into any celebration. From what is stated in this chapter, the preceding and following chapters and verses, Jesus was there to share the things of God and who He was/is. He was about His Father’s business. And when they tried to seize Him, He left Jerusalem.

Unlike the Maccabees, whose original mission was to protect and include the Jews and their beliefs while excluding Gentiles and their beliefs, Jesus came to include all mankind who believed in Him, so they could be part of the kingdom of God which He was building. Jesus was teaching that He was the Good Shepherd and that not only were there going to be ‘other sheep’, meaning the Gentiles, brought into the sheepfold with the Jews but, all must enter the sheepfold through Him. The resulting flock of sheep would be comprised of believing Jews and Gentiles, which was prophetic and part of the Abrahamic covenant from Genesis

These teachings are contrary to the Hanukkah festivities and focus, which was/is to separate fully from anything or anyone non-Jewish, and celebrate the Maccabees, with the focus of some on that ‘messiah.’

In sharp contrast to the Maccabean mission of physical liberty through war, self focus and revolt to the governing authorities, disassociation and for some, resentment or hatred for those outside of Judaism, Jesus instead taught of loving enemies and forgiving and bringing those viewed as unclean into the fold through the only door that would make all spiritually clean. Himself. He taught and fulfilled, for example, the Isaiah prophecy of making God’s house a house of prayer for all people. He taught that all mankind, not just the pagan Gentiles, needed His cleansing.

Isaiah 56:7 Even them will I bring to my holy mountain, and make them joyful in my house of prayer: their burnt offerings and their sacrifices shall be accepted upon mine altar; for mine house shall be called an house of prayer for all people.
8 The Lord GOD which gathereth the outcasts of Israel saith, Yet will I gather others to him, beside those that are gathered unto him.  [KJV]

Jesus often made a distinction between ‘the religion of the Pharisees’ and what He and the Scriptures said. That is why many could not receive Him. They went by man made religion and thought over the Truth in the Scriptures. The Scriptures were there for them. Jesus said so.

John 5:39  Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me. [KJV]

Regarding Hanukkah, there is no doubt that if the legend of the oil was true in that God kept the oil burning for 8 days, He is more than able. However, Hanukkah is not about God, but rather about the Maccabees and the Jewish people within the religion of Judaism. God was very specific about how the Menorah was to be made, with 7 candlesticks. There was no divine directive to change that or celebrate with anything different, or in fact, change the law of Moses. God forbids the changing of His commandments and the adding to them, and yet we have Messianics following rabbinic traditions that do just that. That Judaism elevates their traditions and writings of the sages (found within the Talmud and kabbalah) above the Scriptures is what makes Judaism what is today. It is totally separate from what Christians or those who believe Jesus are to be about.  And that is the issue. The things of Christ are not about days and such, nor is our focus or glorying to be on man, but God alone:

Colossians 2:16  Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days:
17  Which are a shadow of things to come; but the body is of Christ.

1 Corinthians 3:21 Therefore let no man glory in men. For all things are yours;  [KJV]

For Christians , we need to apply the verses:

1 Thessalonians 5:21  Prove all things; hold fast that which is good. 22  Abstain from all appearance of evil.   [KJV]

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Myth: Hanukkah commemorates the miracle of the oil and the victory of the Maccabees over the Gentile rule and should be celebrated by those in Hebrew Roots or Messianics instead of pagan Christmas.

A. Hanukkah is a Jewish celebration for the Jewish people. It was never to be including those outside of Judaism. The historical facts show a far different story than many weave to bring others into celebrating this event. The Maccabee’s story is central to understanding what is legend and what is fact.

The Maccabean Revolt

The revolt that inspired the keeping of Hanukkah was through the actions of Mattathias, a Jewish priest, and his five sons: Jochanan, Simeon, Eleazar, Jonathan, and Judah, who eventually led the uprising. This small group of Jews called the Maccabees rebelled and risked their lives to, “live according to Jewish law,” and to prevent any further desecration of the Temple. 1

The story of the Maccabees and the Maccabean Revolt was reportedly commissioned by the Maccabees themselves, and is found in the Apocrypha’s 1st & 2nd Maccabees, which are found in Catholic and some Protestant Bibles. However, none of those writings are found in Jewish Bibles, but rather, the Maccabean Revolt is found referenced to in the extra-biblical writings of the Talmud. 2

From those and other historical sources such as Josephus’ Antiquities, we know that Antiochus or “Epiphanes”, outlawed the practice of Judaism prior to the second century BC. Idols and altars were established throughout Jerusalem where sacrifices were made to the various ‘gods’. In full rebellion to Almighty God, an idol was erected in the Temple, with many historically believing it to be an image of Zeus. Jews who disobeyed the directive to burn their Torah scrolls and cease from practicing Judaism were murdered. By about 167 BC, Mattathais Maccabees and his sons determined to stop the sacrilege of the Temple and proceeded to overthrow the Syrians. Judah Maccabees took the lead and the Jews recaptured the Temple. According to the various writings, they rededicated the altar on the 25th of Kislev, that is, November-December. The celebration for the dedication of the altar went on for eight days followed by the rededication of the Temple to God. 3

Following the Maccabean War, peace was re established temporarily with the Seleucids, and the Maccabean state became known as the Hasmoneans. They did not cease their war however, but discarded the temporary peace and continued with a civil war against the Seleucids and Hellenized Jews within Jerusalem. It was then that the Maccabees commissioned and paid for the writing of their war history called I Maccabees, which was fully propaganda about their exploits. Jewish loyalists called the Hasidism, who had also been against the Hellenizing Jews, were outraged not only by that propaganda, but also by the Maccabees claim to political and religious power. In response they formed a new opposition political party called the Perushim aka the Pharisees, who were separatists. 4

It was descendents of those Pharisees that Jesus dealt with many times and it was they who tried to stone Him and in the end, most rejected Him.

The Pharisees eventually became the Rabbis, who (years later) were responsible for writing the Mishnah and Talmud, and through them kept their hatred of the Maccabees entrenched in the writings. The Pharisees believed the Maccabees had committed blasphemy by uniting the political power seat with that of the priesthood. The Maccabees had used their military power to forcibly expand the Jewish kingdom by becoming a military dictatorship, forcing such as the Idumeans (Edomites descended from Esau) to convert to Judaism and follow the laws and rituals, as well as submit to the Jewish government. It became obvious that the more successful and wealthy they became, the more Hellenization took place within Jewish society. They became the major force behind it, doing exactly what they started out to overthrow.  Their political rule was eventually terminated by the conquest of the Romans. By the time of the Rabbis, the descendents of the Pharisees and Hasidism, Israel had faced massive loss of life, not just in the initial revolt, but in the following civil war where Jew rose up against Jew.  5

Jewish Rabbi Daniel Kohn, in answer to the question, “Is the miracle of Chanukah made up?” stated that the whole concept of the miracle of the oil, was indeed untrue. The actual lighting of the Menorah for the dedication of the Temple was real and based on spiritual significance, but the rabbinic writings in the Talmud took the shift from the Maccabees military victory to that of the claimed miracle of the oil for the Menorah. 6

The perceived glory of the Maccabean victory became overshadowed due to all they did which caused harm to fellow Jews, and their focus became viewed as dangerous and containing seditious ideas that were to be suppressed. The fear of glorifying the military success of the Maccabeans while under Roman rule, formed the basis for the idea of inventing the story of the miracle of the oil. By making the oil the focus, they masked the truth about the Maccabees and their shameful legacy for many years. By reinventing the stories, the rabbis kept the holiday alive with a shift in focus and thereby inserting more religious significance, which in turn used to strengthen and build Judaism.  7

As an added point, the Eastern Orthodox Church venerates the Maccabees as Saints and The Dictionary of Bible and Religion suggests that the Maccabees were exalted to the point of Messiah.  8  Many venerated Judah Maccabees specifically as the awaited Messiah. These are the facts surrounding Hanukkah.

Some Further History on Jews Killing Jews

As stated above, while many celebrate Hanukkah and the Maccabees, what many do not realize is that the Maccabees themselves became a destructive force to Judaism.

For many years, Hanukkah symbolized the overthrow of pagan Gentile influence from Jewish spirituality, and the rededication to God and the Mosaic Law. However, history reveals that the wrath which was dealt out by the Maccabees did not end the path of disaster which Israel had been treading. Whether reading ‘Gentile’ historical or Jewish resources, the end result was that the Maccabees became power hungry and corrupt. What started out for many as a zealous spiritual endeavor based on wrath, became immersed in corruption, murder and destruction, and the eventual act of Jews killing Jews. The war and rebellion became a civil war. According to Josephus in his Antiquities, within 65 years of the initial revolt, a challenge was put forth by a number of Pharisees towards one of the corrupt leaders of the Maccabees, one Alexander Janneus. During the Feast of Tabernacles, Alexander who was performing as high priest, corrupted the libation ceremony by pouring the water over his feet instead of on the altar as the Pharisees had decreed. [Please note this ceremony was not from the God-given Law, but added in and decreed by the Pharisees as part of their oral traditions.] In response, the religious Jews pelted him with lemons. It was after that time that Janneus had a partition-wall of wood built around the altar and the temple, where it was only lawful for the priests to enter. In this way, he kept the multitude of Jews from coming at him. 9 Outraged by the lemon incident, Janneus ordered his soldiers to slay 6,000 of the Jews, resulting in a civil war which lasted six years and by the end, approximately 50,000 Jews were killed. At the end of the war, the Jewish soldiers were ordered by Janneus to crucify 800 of the Pharisees. He then ordered the throats of their children and wives cut, while they watched. 10

The initial Revolt lasted about four years, from 167-163 BC. By 66 AD, the Zealots again revolted against their Gentile oppressors. Just as with the earlier Maccabees, again the revolt ended with Jews killing Jews, and many would agree that it changed the course of Jewish history forever. Many know that by 70 AD the Romans destroyed the Temple, burned Jerusalem, and slaughtered thousands of people. The last stronghold at Masada ended with the rebel Jews committing suicide.

From a Christian perspective we know that Jesus foretold of the destruction of the Temple.(Matthew 24) Many view it as a physical ending of the sacrificial system and the change in priesthood, meaning also the closing of the door on the Mosaic covenant with the fulfillment of the promised New Covenant.

Jeremiah 31:31-34 Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah: 32. Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which my covenant they brake, although I was an husband unto them, saith the LORD: 33. But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the LORD, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people. 34. And they shall teach no more every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the LORD: for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the LORD: for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.

Isaiah 11:10 And in that day there shall be a root of Jesse, which shall stand for an ensign of the people; to it shall the Gentiles seek: and his rest shall be glorious.

Isaiah 42:6 I the LORD have called thee in righteousness, and will hold thine hand, and will keep thee, and give thee for a covenant of the people, for a light of the Gentiles;

Isaiah 49:6 And he said, It is a light thing that thou shouldest be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and to restore the preserved of Israel: I will also give thee for a light to the Gentiles, that thou mayest be my salvation unto the end of the earth.

Isaiah 49:22 Thus saith the Lord GOD, Behold, I will lift up mine hand to the Gentiles, and set up my standard to the people: and they shall bring thy sons in their arms, and thy daughters shall be carried upon their shoulders.

It meant that now all, both Jew and Gentile, could come to God through Jesus Christ who was the final sacrifice, once for all.

Ephesians 2:13-19 But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ. 14. For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us; 15. Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace; 16. And that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby: 17. And came and preached peace to you which were afar off, and to them that were nigh. 18. For through him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father. 19. Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God;

Romans 10:11-13 For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed. 12. For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him. 13. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.

There is no need for a Temple, because Jesus is the Temple and has also made us the Temple of the Holy Spirit. The sacrifice of our bodies and the sacrifice of praise take the place of the offerings.

Ephesians 2:19 Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God;
20 And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone;
21 In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord:
22 In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit. [KJV]

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Myth: God ordained Hanukkah and it is Scriptural, therefore Messianics and Christians should celebrate it instead of Christmas. The ceremonies are found in the Scriptures.

A. There is no Scripture that suggests that God commanded or suggested the keeping of Hanukkah. It is not found in the commandments given to Moses for Israel and is not listed in any of the feasts or holidays commanded by God. It was first celebrated by the Maccabees and became a religious holiday which became enforced by the Pharisees and rabbis through the Talmud. It was not God ordained in the Scriptures.

In Rabbi Hyam Maccoby’s, Revolution in Judaea, and as discussed in the article, To Embrace Hebrew Roots: Part II : The Bible & The Talmud, he noted that the Pharisees brought in many traditions, observances and festivities which were not part of the written law of Moses given by God. These additional traditions, often referred to as the oral law, are what were rejected by the Sadducees. However, most Jews defend and fully support the additions found throughout the Rabbinic writings of the Talmud and Kabbalah, which have become ingrained in Judaism as it is known today. According to Hyam Maccoby, the Pharisees not only added the festivals of Hanukkah and Purim, they added to the canon of Scripture and added new doctrine to Judaism, which included new rites to Temple worship, and they have continually brought in new prayers and ceremonies for use in Jewish synagogues. These are all additions that many Messianic congregations also utilize and participate in. 1

The principal source for the story of Hanukkah and the legend of the oil is found in the Talmud and many Jewish and non-Jewish sources discuss the fact that the legend of the oil burning for eight days in the Temple is just that, legend. Which brings one to an interesting point.

We have been told that most Messianics do not approve of, nor do they embrace the teachings from the Talmud, although some have admitted to this author that they do, and one merely needs to peruse the writings of many leadership to see they do. And of course the activities and Messianic dress is based on rabbinic aka talmudic or kabbalist traditions. So, why are most using the Legend of the Maccabees and the associated Miracle of the Oil story to enter into the celebration for that Legend?

Hanukkah Ceremonies

The 9-candle menorah (Chanukiah) is used to celebrate Chanukah and contemporary use of it is in celebration of the victory of what many view as a Messiah, Judas Maccabees and his brothers. The story includes the cleansing of the Temple and the legend of oil miraculously burning for eight days.

Some suggest that initially, the lighting of the Temple menorah in the rededication ceremony  was based on the commandment to light the Menorah with pure oil as is written in Leviticus 23 and 24. That was immediately followed by the commandment to observe the Feast of Tabernacles or Sukkot festival for 8 days, which means 7 days of  Sukkot followed by Shemini Atzere. “The Sages saw this as a Divine hint that Chanukah should be for 8 days.” 2   The Feast of Tabernacles is celebrated in the fall, not late November to late December when Hanukkah is celebrated, yet this conflict does not appear to be noticed by most.

Following the seven days of Sukkot, the eighth day is called Shemini Atzeret, which literally means “the assembly of the eighth day”. It is actually a separate holiday from Sukkot, and does not involve the special rituals of Tabernacles. Rabbinic writings (Talmud) explain it that, “our Creator is like a host, who invites us as visitors for a limited time, but when the time comes for us to leave, He has enjoyed himself so much that He asks us to stay another day”. Another explanation is that Sukkot is a holiday for all of mankind to participate in, but when it is over, only the Jewish people are invited by God to stay the eighth day for a more intimate celebration with Him. 3

According to the teachings of Kabbalah and Hasidism, the eighth day for Hannukah is the final ceremony for when the dedication of the altar took place by the Maccabees and it is  the “seal” of the High Holiday season of Yom Kippur (day of atonement) , and is therefore considered a time to repent out of love for God. Due to this belief,  many Hasidic Jews greet each other with the traditional Yom Kippur wish, “may you be sealed totally for good”. It is taught in Hasidic and Kabbalistic literature that this day is particularly favorable for answers to prayers. 4

Through kabbalah’s gematria, eight is viewed as representing the Jewish People’s special role in human history. Seven is the number of days of creation, meaning the completion of the material cosmos, and planets and eight represents the Infinite. The Eighth Day of the Assembly festival, is according to Jewish Law a festival for Jews only. Similarly, in Judaism the rite of circumcision which brings a Jewish male into God’s Covenant, is performed on the eighth day. In Judaism, Hanukkah’s eight days celebrate their  victory over Hellenistic humanism,  and as such have great symbolic importance for practicing Jews.

To simplify, what they are saying regarding the implementation of this holiday, is that within Judaism’s writings, they changed the timing, purpose and length of the Feast of Tabernacles as ordained by God and as described in Leviticus in the Law of Moses. They then ascribed to it the new celebration proclaimed by the Maccabees and which was then enforced by the writings of the rabbis in the Talmud. That despite the very clear warning by God to not add to or change what He had commanded in the Law.

Deuteronomy 4:2 Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish ought from it, that ye may keep the commandments of the LORD your God which I command you.

…12:28 Observe and hear all these words which I command thee, that it may go well with thee, and with thy children after thee for ever, when thou doest that which is good and right in the sight of the LORD thy God.

…12:32 What thing soever I command you, observe to do it: thou shalt not add thereto, nor diminish from it. [KJV]

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Myth: The Hanukkah Menorah with nine candles symbolizes Christ and therefore all Messianics and Christians should be celebrating Hanukkah instead of pagan Christmas.

The Candle Question & Messianics

A. The Hanukkah festival is observed in Judaism by the lighting of a special nine candle Menorah, although the Menorah ordained by God for the Temple has seven candles. One candle is lit per night, and each additional candle is lit on each night of the holiday, progressing to the eighth on the last night. The ninth candle, separated either above or below the rest, is called the ‘shamash’ or guard or servant candle, which is lit each night in order to light the other candles. It’s purpose is fully secular, not religious, and is strictly for Judaism to which this holiday belongs.

According to the Talmud, the purpose of the extra light is to adhere to the prohibition, specified in Tracate Shabbat 21b–23a, against using the Hanukkah lights for anything other than publicizing and meditating on the Hanukkah story. 1

And yet, we have Messianics who utilize the rabbinic writings, including the Talmud and the Zohar which is the kabbalah, and state that the whole use of 9 candles was a prophecy about Christ.

Some Messianics also align Chanukah to a celebration of the conception of Mary, with some going so far as declaring that December 19 was “the evening before the conception of Mary”.

One Messianic stated in an email:

“…the evening’ before the conception of Mary. “*** From Peter: For all of you awaiting the day of the conception of Yeshua, it will be in the early evening hours of Sunday. It occurred in the early evening when Miryam entered the home of Elizabeth. At that very moment in history the Messiah Yeshua, the Word/Torah was made flesh in the womb of Miryam.  peterm ” 2.

According to these people, the proof of the conception of Mary calculations are found in the writings of various Messianics practicing kabbalah and gematria, with the approximate time of conception believed to have fallen sometime in late November to late December. They proudly proclaim that this is exactly the period of time for the Festival of Chanukah, which is also when they believe the Magi arrived fifteen months later. Another said:

“…for Jews who light the Chanukiah this year, or for those who can learn from our customs, we should keep in mind that in our encounter with “darkness”, we don’t want to use the flame to burn and destroy the world, but rather, we want to use it to illuminate the whole world with Torah. We want to light the way for all the Nations so that they can prosper materially and spiritually. Even though they will never fully respond to this before the coming of Mashiach, we must still give them this prescription. It is the same as it was in the time of the Hellenistic oppression: by increasing our light, the darkness fades and the bright Morningstar arises.”3

Words cannot express how un-Scriptural these things are. The man-ordained celebration was never intended to represent the conception of Mary — and it is certainly not viewed like that in Judaism nor their writings in the Talmud or Zohar. Nor did Almighty God feel it necessary to suggest precisely how and when these things happened. However, that does not hinder many from delivering the intent of Hanukkah as being for Gentiles to join with the Jews in this celebration, so that the Jews can “illuminate the whole world.”  What a sharp contrast to the historical and original intent of the Maccabees–to separate from all Gentiles and their practices and beliefs, and also the current view of Hannukah by practicing Jews of Judaism.. And what a very sharp contrast to the Scripture where Jesus said He was the Light of the world.

John 8:12 “Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life”  [KJV]

Jesus also said those who followed Him were to be salt and light of the world.

Matthew 5:13 Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men.
14 Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid.
15 Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house.
16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven. [KJV]

Christians are told in the Scriptures to do the following:

Mar 16:15 And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. 16 He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.

Luke 24:44-47 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. 45. Then opened he their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures, 46. And said unto them, Thus it is written, and thus it behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day: 47. And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. [KJV]

Nowhere are we told to go into all the world and preach Torah, because it is about the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Some Messianics have determined that the whole legend of the oil as being true and go on to declare that the original and specially designed menorah and all the symbolism was meant to symbolize Jesus. It is also being stated that the Jews were free to change what and how God ordained the Temple menorah and feasts to be. The belief is that the Maccabees wanted to make the holiday so much more special, (than the God commanded ones?) that they copied the Feast of Tabernacles, but changed the menorah to the 9 candles instead of the seven. The 9th candle is, according to them, used to light all others and represents Jesus. 4  Which of course is fully contrary to what Judaism teaches. And it is their celebration…

Some teach that the original Chanukiah, aside from the 9 candles, had the Star of Remphan, also called the Star of Moloch, emblazoned as a symbol on it and which people today refer to as the star of David.

The Encyclopaedia Judaica’s article, Magen David, acknowledges that the hexagram was used by  magicians in connection with Judah Maccabee.

” The oldest text mentioning a shield of David is contained in an explanation of a magical “alphabet of the angel Metatron”…among the Hasidei Ashkenaz of the 12th C. But here it was the holy Name of 72 names which was said to have been on this protective shield together with the name MKBY, which the tradition of the magicians connected with Judah Maccabee.” 5

Some of those very facts are discussed in the Kabbalah, Talismans and Masters of the Name and other articles in the series, “To Embrace Hebrew Roots.” 6

Of the many Scriptures concerning this are:

Acts 7:42,43 ” Then God turned, and gave them up to worship the host of heaven; as it is written in the book of the prophets, O ye house of Israel, have ye offered to me slain beasts and sacrifices by the space of forty years in the wilderness? Yea, ye took up the tabernacle of Moloch, and the STAR OF YOUR GOD REMPHAN, figures which ye made to worship them: and I will carry you away beyond Babylon.

Amos 5:26-27 But ye have born the tabernacle of your Moloch, and Chiun (Remphan) your images, the STAR OF YOUR GOD, which ye made to yourselves. Therefore, will I cause you to go into captivity beyond Damascus, saith the Lord…

Exodus 25:30 And thou shalt set upon the table showbread before me alway.
31 And thou shalt make a candlestick of pure gold: of beaten work shall the candlestick be made: his shaft, and his branches, his bowls, his knops, and his flowers, shall be of the same.
32 And six branches shall come out of the sides of it; three branches of the candlestick out of the one side, and three branches of the candlestick out of the other side:
33 Three bowls made like unto almonds, with a knop and a flower in one branch; and three bowls made like almonds in the other branch, with a knop and a flower: so in the six branches that come out of the candlestick.
34 And in the candlestick shall be four bowls made like unto almonds, with their knops and their flowers.
35 And there shall be a knop under two branches of the same, and a knop under two branches of the same, and a knop under two branches of the same, according to the six branches that proceed out of the candlestick.
36 Their knops and their branches shall be of the same: all it shall be one beaten work of pure gold.  [KJV]

God dealt with the issue of the star of remphan/chiun/molech that some in Israel went after…

Referencing Strong’s Concordance about Remphan, we see:

4481 Rhemphan [hrem-fan’] by incorrect transliteration for a word of Hebrew origin 3594; n pr m AV – Remphan 1; 1 Remphan = “the shrunken (as lifeless)” 1) the name of an idol worshipped secretly by the Israelites in the wilderness.”

3594 Kiyuwn [kee-yoon’] from 3559; n pr dei AV – Chiun 1; 1 Chiun = “an image” or “pillar” 1) probably a statue of the Assyrian-Babylonian god of the planet Saturn and used to symbolise Israelite apostasy.”

Various articles reference The Talisman of Saturn, which involves a pentagram and a hexagram. From one occult source concerning the use of this symbol:

“On the first face is engraved…a pentagram or a star with five points. On the other side is engraved a bull’s head enclosed in a SIX-POINTED STAR, and surrounded by letters composing the name REMPHA, THE PLANETARY GENIUS OF SATURN, according to the alphabet of the Magi.” (Christian, p. 304-5) 7

In other words, the hexagram used today as the star of David came historically from non-Biblical foundations. Some within Judaism openly admit that it came from Babylon.

The point is, neither Hannukah, nor the 9 candle menorah were ordained by God in the Scriptures. And it is to the Scriptures that we are to turn to confirm our beliefs and doctrine.

2 Timothy 3:16-17 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.

James 1:21-22 Wherefore lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness, and receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls. 22. But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.  [KJV]

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Myth. Christians believe Christmas is Jesus’ birthday.

A. Obviously it is not, although some would be inclined to say it is the actual birth day of Christ. For those in Hebrew Roots, December 25 is anathema, and by using the pagan roots of secularism attempt to apply them to how Christians celebrate Christ’s birth. They push the “real date” back to the Feast of Tabernacles in the fall as the correct date, but do little to celebrate His birth in any case, as everything about “Jesus” is pagan and everything about keeping the feasts is right. Once the issue of the person and name of Jesus Christ being pagan is established as a ‘fact’, then the Scriptures can be overturned, which is done systematically, until the New Testament is believed to have been totally corrupted by pagans.

Christmas, although having many secular and unnecessary elements, for most Christians, means a time to publicly tell the story of the miracle of Jesus Christ’s birth and all related to it, including the fulfillment of prophecies. May we never be silent on these Truths.

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Original article and footnotes can be found here:

http://www.seekgod.ca/hr/hrfaqs4a2.htm#1

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Labyrinths seem to have made their way into most religious venues, including  Christianity.  I ran across an interesting article on labyrinths, which I found to be quite informative.   Included here are several quotes, but the full article is well worth the read.  The link for it is at the end.

The Labyrinth Journey:

Walking the Path to Fulfillment?

By Carl Teichrib

Forcing Change: www.forcingchange.org

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“Symbols are keyholes to doors in the walls of space, and through them man peers into Eternity…Symbolism, then, is the divine language, and its figures are a celestial alphabet…”- Manly P. Hall [1].

“…symbolical rites are the external expressions of man’s inward desire to unite with Divinity.” – Roberta H. Lamerson, F.R.C. [2].

“Whilst we cannot be exactly sure what the labyrinths were used for, they were clearly a symbol of the Christian way, representing the path of the soul through life.” – About Labyrinths and Mazes [3].

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I was struck by the simplicity of the above statement: that labyrinths are “clearly a symbol of the Christian way.” An interesting position, especially given the fact that the authors of this particular quote admit, “we cannot be exactly sure what the labyrinths were used for…”

We live in a day and age where many “new things” are sweeping through the Christian church. Some of these alternative directions are simply a reflection of changes in style and format. However, in our exploration towards alternative forms of spiritual expression – particularly as we try to build relevancy in a post-modern culture – it is imperative that doctrinal discernment and discretionary principles come into play. This is especially true as society rapidly embraces a plethora of alternative spiritual practices, beliefs, and paths. Sadly, we as Christians often flounder in doing our homework, and in that vein we may inadvertently open our congregations to highly questionable choices and spiritual experiences.

Paradoxically, while the evangelical Christian community talks about “spiritual warfare” and “putting on the full amour of God,” many of these same churches can be found embracing that which they claim to counter. In seeking relevancy, we have become dangerously “experiential,” and old forms of mysticism are becoming center-pieces in “experiences of faith.”

The labyrinth prayer-walk, which follows a single winding path to a central location, is a case in point. Primarily jump-started by a UK-based Christian movement in alternative spiritual expressions and by an influential San Francisco cathedral, denominations around the world are embracing labyrinths as a viable part of the spiritual journey. But are labyrinths part of the Christian encounter, as suggested by the third introductory quote above?

Understand, Christians looking for ways to bring in new relevancy within church worship did not rediscover the labyrinth as a spiritual tool. As we shall see, it’s been part of the esoteric world for a very long time. Which is why, today, labyrinth walks and “prayer journeys” are being promoted by Rosicrucian groups [4], at New Age festivals and celebrations [5], and throughout the neo-pagan world. Not surprisingly, one of America’s largest witch, shaman, and neo-pagan assemblies, the 2005 Pagan Spirit Gathering at Wisteria, OH, held a night-time Summer Solstice Labyrinth ritual, which was described as a “transformative, walking meditation through an all night labyrinth formed by 1000 lighted candles” [6].

———-
The primary historical focal point for the lore of the labyrinth goes back to Cretan and Greek tales of Queen Pasiphaë, her perverse sexual desire for a specific sacrificial bull, an abominable act of bestiality, and the birth of a strange hybrid offspring – the dreaded Minotaur, which lived in a labyrinth built to cage him [7].

Each year, King Minos, the husband of Pasiphaë, demanded that seven boys and seven girls be given as a sacrificial tribute to be devoured by the Minotaur. One year, a hero named Theseus accompanied the children. Taking a ball of twine, he unravelled the string as he went through the labyrinth, giving him a trail leading back out. Once inside the labyrinth, Theseus followed the maze to it’s center, where he battled with the Minotaur and eventually beat the creature to death.

The labyrinth containing this Minotaur was not the typical single-path labyrinth of today, but rather a complex maze containing halls and chambers. However, esoteric philosophers have long understood that the Minotaur maze directly corresponds to the ancient (and now modern) spiritually-connected labyrinth walk; the long soul journey with its many twists and turns, the ultimate arrival at the central convergence point, the struggle with the inner monster – and the final victory over the forces of darkness and ignorance (which can only happen when one is illumined at the center), and the repeated journey back to wholeness and the light of day. This esoteric significance of the Cretan story has never been lost on the initiates of the Mystery Schools.

Don’t forget, this Grecian/Cretan story was immersed in the pagan religious context of the day; that’s the metaphysical origin of the labyrinth as we can trace it. Hence the story of Pasiphaë, with its labyrinth journey and inner battle, is of interest first and foremost to the world of occult lore: for the simple reason that this is the intended context.

————–

On the mystical journey to spiritual fulfillment, the middle-eye of the labyrinth becomes a place of divine illumination. Even Kimberly Lowelle, the President of The Labyrinth Society – a network of labyrinth scholars and enthusiasts – recognizes this basic function. “The labyrinth is an archetype of transformation. Its transcendant nature knows no boundaries, crossing time and cultures with ease. The labyrinth serves as a bridge from the mundane to the divine…” [10]

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“Labyrinths are temples that enhance and balance and bring a sense of the sacred – a place where we can confirm our unity with the cosmos, awaken our vital force and elevate our consciousness. These structures are space/time temples where we can behold realities that oddly enough transcend space and time. The orientation, form and geometry of a labyrinth has symbolic as well as spacial [sic] importance. It is a mirror for the divine…

…Moving through a Labyrinth changes ordinary ways of perception connecting the inner and the outer, the right brain and the left brain, the involutional and the evolutional through a series of paths that represent the realms of the Gods and Goddesses. These realms are associated with planetary movement as a process that induces Union with the One.” [12]
Divine illumination is the end-goal of esoteric philosophy; it’s the central arena of occultism.

Manly P. Hall, one of the 20th century’s greatest esoteric philosophers and an eminent Masonic historian, tells us that the labyrinth was symbolic of man’s search for truth [13]. Other occult scholars tell us that the labyrinth symbolized to the people “the difficulty of finding the Path to God” [14]. All of this points to the same thing – the mystical realization of our own divinity.

As Hall states in one of his earlier books, “Man is a god in the making, and as in the mystic myths of Egypt, on the potter’s wheel he is being molded. When his light shines out to lift and preserve all things, he receives the triple crown of godhood…” [15]. Rosicrucian authority Christian Bernard explains this mystical goal as the building and unfolding of the inner Temple, “The Temple of the Universe, the Temple of the Earth and the Temple of Life are only one in the Temple of Man. This is why the time has come to work towards rebuilding it, for the Messianic Light must emanate from the Heavenly Jerusalem which vibrates within us.” [16] Laying it out very plainly, Annie Besant – an early Theosophical leader – simply said, “Man is not to be compelled; he is to be free. He is not a slave, but a God in the making” [17].

—————-

Freemasonry: when the Masonic candidate undergoes his initiation, he is led on an invisible path from station to station throughout the Lodge room. Each point and part of this journey is given an exoteric explanation – that is, the real meanings are cloaked in allegory and symbolism. After completing the journey around the Lodge, he is led to the center of the room where he kneels before an altar. The Worshipful Master asks what the candidate most desires, and the initiate responds with “Light” [20]. Know this, the light requested is not incandescent light or some other physical light energy, but spiritual illumination [21].

Order of the Golden Dawn: Initiations rites such as the Ceremony of the Grade of Philosophus have the candidate embark on a spiritual journey, following an invisible yet tangible path throughout the Lodge room. This journey, like that of Freemasonry, is intended to elevate the candidate’s level of transformative enlightenment [22].

Ancient and Mystical Order Rosae Crucis: In AMORC’s Temple ritual, Second Portal, the student partakes in an allegorical journey searching for light and knowledge. While engaged in the ritual, the student follows a path to each point on the compass, and returns to a central triangle. Again, like the two other illustrations above, this act is part of the mystical journey towards “light” and cosmic unity [23].

Order of the Eastern Star: As a co-Masonic body, the OES engages in a series of ritualistic initiations. Unlike Freemasonry, the OES ritual work is performed on a giant floor-rug pentagram. This pentagram, with an altar placed in its center, is called a Labyrinth. Each of the various initiation rites – journeys on the path to greater understanding – takes place in and around this Labyrinth [24]. Beulah Malone, Past Grand Matron and Secretary of the OES explains,

“The winding in and out of the labyrinth symbolizes the human soul stumbling and struggling through life; learning by mistakes and experiences that the way leading to the supreme life and to God is not easy but is a way of testing one’s power and strength.

By following the examples symbolized in the lives of the heroines of our Order [Author’s note: this is part of the OES Labyrinth journey], we may come into a full light of His Star and into wisdom and understanding. The great magnet of our Star as it shines forth in the world is missioned to bring Unity, the Truth of Fatherhood of God, and Brotherhood of Man.” [25]
And herein lies the deeper spiritual meaning of the labyrinth-walk that has become so fashionable today. It’s the symbolic journey of illumination, completely spiritual in nature, and dependent on our works – the “journey,” or the “testing [of] one’s power and strength.”

The path to the center of the labyrinth is as the invisible but tangible path leading to the esoteric altar – it’s an initiation into the mystical.

——————-

Hundreds of Christians have taken part in labyrinth prayer walks, and many churches across North America and Europe are embracing this tool as a means to expand their spiritual experience. The Rev. Jill Geoffrion, a “certified labyrinth facilitator” and author of such books as Christian Prayer and Labyrinths and Praying the Labyrinth, writes,

“We are currently in a period of historic labyrinth revival. Churches, retreat centers and Christian camps are placing these prayer tools inside and outside. Christians all over the world are installing labyrinths in their yards and gardens. Many are using the labyrinths as a ministry tool, bringing portable versions to prisons, national denominational conferences and church group meetings. It is conservatively estimated that there are over 5,000 labyrinths in the United States alone. God is blessing the use of the labyrinth; many are being drawn closer to Jesus, experiencing healing and gaining spiritual clarity as they pray on its path.” [26]

On her labyrinth prayer website, Geoffrion offers suggested prayers for different labyrinth events. In dedicating a new labyrinth, she suggests that those in attendance form a circle on the pattern and extend “the energy that is in our hearts and minds through their hands towards the labyrinth.” Following this exercise is a meditative time where each person physically lays hands on the labyrinth and calls forth “the image of a loved one walking this labyrinth and receiving what is needed.” After more “imaging,” she recommends this responsive prayer,

“Community: We dedicate this labyrinth to spiritual awakening and reawakening.
One: With hearts extending in many directions, Let us pray…Sacred Sustainer, Way to wholeness, Creator of possibilities, Supporter of change, Forgiving Releaser, Freedom, Honesty, Wisdom, Hope, Joy…we thank You for the beautiful spiritual tool on which we are standing…” [27]

Geoffrion suggests other reflective meditations for the labyrinth, including short prayers from the “Christian Tradition,” “Egyptian Tradition,” “Hindu Tradition,” and “Sufi Tradition” [28].

——————–

For Christians holding to the exclusive message of Jesus Christ in John 14:6, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me,” a serious rift is now encountered. It’s the dilemma that exists between what Geoffrion’s first quote described verses the religious pluralism that the labyrinth appears to propagate. And because of the nature and metaphysical history of the labyrinth, this spiritual pluralism is inescapable. However, this ever-widening religious inclusiveness – which is the expression of the esoteric idea of the Fatherhood of God – shouldn’t come as a surprise. After all, in the labyrinth experience every path is relevant, every road is right, every religion is valid.

—————–

Grace [Cathedral], San Francisco’s prominent Episcopal Church, has been North America’s “pathfinder” congregation in the labyrinth movement, hosting prayer walks on their two labyrinths for years. Moreover, Grace’s outdoor labyrinth is open 24 hours, and the church now has an involved global networking organization dedicated to advancing the labyrinth experience. Hence, Grace has been viewed by many Christian labyrinth advocates as the driving influence for this new spiritual expression in North America.

There’s no doubt that one reason for Grace Cathedral’s success is their connection to Chartres Cathedral in France. As an ancient medieval church, Chartres hosts an original pattern that is today’s recognized prototype for the Christian prayer walk. Grace meticulously copied Chartres, has marketed it very well, and is now a major spokes-church for the Chartres experience. Consider Grace’s website titled “Walking the Labyrinth: Reflections from Chartres, “A profound meditation tool, a metaphor for the spiritual path, a feminist Christian icon, a symbol of Mary or even all Christianity, even perhaps an almost cult-like centerpiece of a movement – the labyrinth is, most everyone can agree, a powerful inspiration.” [29]

The labyrinth exercise, Grace further explains, should be viewed in three parts,

“Purgation (Releasing) ~ A releasing, a letting go of the details of your life. This is the act of shedding thoughts and distractions. A time to open the heart and quiet the mind.
Illumination (Receiving) ~ When you reach the center, stay there as long as you like. It is a place of meditation and prayer. Receive what is there for you to receive.
Union (Returning) ~ As you leave, following the same path out of the center as you came in, you enter the third stage, which is joining God, your Higher Power, or the healing forces at work in the world. Each time you walk the labyrinth you become more empowered to find and do the work you feel your soul reaching for.” [32]
As an institution, Grace is no ordinary church. Not only has it been extremely influential in propagating the labyrinth prayer walk, it has been a hotbed for global interfaith work.
In the 1990’s William Swing was Bishop of Grace. During the 1995 United Nations 50th Anniversary, Swing proclaimed that Grace would work towards the building of a global interfaith network. After an intense amount of travel and lobbying, Swing succeeded in forming the United Religions Initiative – one of the world’s leading UN affiliated inter-religious partnerships. Today, the URI is an active player in advancing global religious unity.

Why does this matter? Remember all the connections between various esoteric philosophies with the labyrinth concept? A parallel runs between both themes; Unity. As a spiritual interface, and as Grace Cathedral reminded us, the mystical labyrinth belongs to “all religions traditions.”

Grace is open about the deeper meanings of the labyrinth. On the front piece to their labyrinth website, Grace states,

“The Labyrinth is an archetype, a divine imprint, found in all religious traditions in various forms around the world. By walking a replica of the Chartres labyrinth, laid in the floor of Chartres Cathedral in France around 1220, we are rediscovering a long-forgotten mystical tradition that is insisting to be reborn.” [30]

—————-

Reiki Master Kate McManus, in her article “Walking the Fire Labyrinth,” tells of her friend’s spiritual journey.

“This year a friend mentioned an event that was to be held further out west a week after our winter magic festival. She described it as a fire labyrinth ritual in which a stone labyrinth would be lit at night to be walked with conscious intent and so mark the end of the year and begin a new one, a shedding of the old and birthing of the divine child.” [35]

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In an earlier quote by the Rev. Jill Geoffrion, she proclaimed that “God is blessing the use of the labyrinth; many are being drawn closer to Jesus, experiencing healing and gaining spiritual clarity as they pray on its path.”

On the surface this sounds great. But is God really blessing this “new thing”? Moreover, can God bless something that has its origins in esoteric doctrine and ancient pagan mythologies? Adding to its historical pagan significance is the fact that the labyrinth has never lost its occult meaning. As mentioned earlier in the article, labyrinths are still being used, and will continue to be used, as an instrument of pagan spirituality.

If God is going to bless labyrinth prayer journeys, how is He going to deal with Deuteronomy 12:1-14, 18:9-13 and Exodus 34:10-17? In each of these Scripture passages God explicitly tells His people to refrain from anything used in pagan practices. Moreover, the entire book of Jeremiah is a warning against involvement in alternative religious practices.

Furthermore, if God is going to bless labyrinth prayer journeys, how is He going to excuse the interfaith aspect that is common throughout the movement? John 14:6 clearly states that the only path to the Father is through Jesus Christ, and by no other way.

Yes, the majority of Christians would affirm that their labyrinth prayer walk is completely focused on Jesus Christ. That may be true, but it doesn’t excuse the fact that the labyrinth is, by its theological nature, an inter-religious and deeply mystical device. If God is going to bless the labyrinth experience, how is He going to deal with 2 Corinthians 6:14-16?

“Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness? What harmony is there between Christ and Belial? What does a believer have in common with an unbeliever? What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols?…”

http://www.forcingchange.org/the_labyrinth_journey

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An excerpt from My Testimony [ https://fortheloveoftruth.wordpress.com/ancient-paths/]:


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Quote:
Although the Messianic movement replaces Christian baptism with the mikveh, they are different procedures. Baptism requires a pastor or leader to submerge one backwards under the water [usually up to waist deep] and raise them up out of the water.

Mikveh requires a deep [a little over chest deep] fresh water source in which one is completely naked and alone. A sauna, whirlpool and swimming pool are not considered “kosher”, but only a Rabbinically defined and built mikveh pool. One must be physically clean before one does a mikveh and must shower with soap and water beforehand. All jewelry must be taken off and the hair combed to prevent knots that would keep one from total immersion – every part of the body must be completely wet. One enters the water in a forward motion, submerging into the water and then floating without touching any part of the mikveh pool for a few moments. This is repeated two or three times depending on tradition. A prayer is offered before immersion, in most cases. It is a mystic experience and not a “baptism” as an outward expression from sin and into Messiah. It is a ritual process to purify one’s self from uncleanness [tamei]. This does not refer to a sinful condition, but Talmudically defined impurity – like a woman’s monthly cycle [niddah] for instance. A donation or paid membership is usually required in order to use the mikveh (4).

The purification system of the OT Temple is not rendered as a “mikveh” – although Judaism teaches this. Mikveh, in the OT text, is used only as a body of water. It appears to be a Rabbinic addition [middle ages].

Picture a Messianic “mikveh” done in the shallow end of a swimming pool, baptized Christian style, while clothed in some way (smile). [end quote]

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The following is from a Jewish website describing and explaining Judaism’s mikveh. In no way does this resemble what Messianics are promoting as a mikveh, which is a Rabbinic concept filled with mystical associations.

Quote:

Conversion

Mikveh: Immersing in the Ritual Pool

Immersion in the mikveh actualizes the transition between the convert’s old identity and his or her new one as a Jew.

By Rabbi Maurice Lamm

Excerpted with permission from Becoming a Jew (Jonathan David Publishers, Inc.).

What physical act could a person perform in order to symbolize a radical change of heart, a total commitment? Is there a sign so dramatic, dynamic, and all-encompassing that it could represent the radical change undergone by the convert to Judaism?

Jewish tradition prescribes a profound symbol. It instructs the conversion candidate to place himself or herself in a radically different physical environment–in water rather than air. This leaves the person floating–momentarily suspended without breathing–substituting the usual forward moving nature and purposeful stride that characterize his or her waking movements with an aimlessness, a weightlessness, a detachment from the former environment. Individuality, passion, ego–all are submerged in the metamorphosis from the larval state of the present to a new existence.

Ritual immersion is the total submersion of the body in a pool of water. This pool and its water are precisely prescribed by Jewish law. Immersion, tevillah, is the common core component of every [traditional] Jewish conversion process, for male and female, adult and child, ignoramus and scholar. It is sine qua non, and a conversion ceremony without immersion is unacceptable to the traditional religious community and simply not Jewish in character.

This requirement of immersion admits of no compromise, no matter where in the world one finds oneself. {While Conservative rabbis similarly require mikveh for conversion, Reform rabbis generally do not, although a tendency to more traditional symbols and a sense that a uniform conversion process is desirable are encouraging greater use of the immersion component even among the Reform.)

Religious Functions of the Mikveh

Several religious functions are served by this powerful symbol of submerging in water. In the days of the ancient Temple in Jerusalem, the mikveh was used by all Jews who wanted to enter the precincts of the Sanctuary. The law required every person inside the Temple grounds to be in a spiritually pure state appropriate to the pristine spirituality of the Sanctuary itself.

Throughout Jewish history, unmarried women have immersed in the mikveh prior to their wedding; married women immerse at the end of seven days of stainless purity from the end of each monthly menstrual cycle, in preparation for the resumption of family relations in their most fertile days.

A major function of immersion in the mikveh is for conversion to Judaism. The sages declare that a gentile who wishes to become a Jew must undergo the identical process by which Jewish ancestors converted. As Jews performed immersion at Mt. Sinai to complete the conversion process they had begun with circumcision as they left Egypt, so converts in every age must immerse in a mikveh.

Water Symbolizes Birth as a Jew

Submerging in a pool of water for the purpose not of using the water’s physical cleansing properties but expressly to symbolize a change-of-soul is a statement at once deeply spiritual and immensely compelling. No other symbolic act can so totally embrace a person as being submerged in water, which must touch and cover every lesion, every strand of hair, every birthmark. No other religious act is so freighted with meaning as this one which touches every aspect of life and proclaims a total commitment to a new idea and a new way of life as it swallows up the old and gives birth to the new.

The water of the mikveh is designed to ritually cleanse a person from deeds of the past. The convert is considered by Jewish law to be like a newborn child. By spiritually cleansing the convert, the mikveh water prepares him or her to confront God, life, and people with a fresh spirit and new eyes–it washes away the past, leaving only the future. Of course, this does not deny that there were good and beautiful aspects of the past. But, in the strictest religious sense, that past was only prologue to a future life as a Jew.

There is a second layer of meaning to mikveh. It marks the beginning of the ascent to an elevated religious state. This function of mikveh goes beyond the basic purpose of purification. Anthropologists refer to this threshold of higher social status as “liminality.” The person at this moment of transition is a “liminal” or “threshold” person. The liminal state is common to virtually all persons and societies, ancient and modern, and it marks a move to an altered status or to a life transition. Entering adulthood from adolescence, for example, requires a tunnel of time, a rite of passage, a liminal state that acknowledges by symbolic acts the stark changes taking place in one’s self-identity, behavior, and attitude.

In a sense, it is nothing short of the spiritual drama of death and rebirth cast onto the canvas of the convert’s soul. Submerging into waters over her head, she enters into an environment in which she cannot breathe and cannot live for more than moments. It is the death of all that has gone before. As she emerges from the gagging waters into the clear air, she begins to breathe anew and live anew–as a baby struggling to be born.

If we take this graphic metaphor a step further, we can sense that the mikveh is a spiritual womb. The human fetus is surrounded by water. It does not yet live. The water breaks in a split second and the child emerges into a new world. “As soon as the convert immerses and emerges, he is a Jew in every respect” (Yevamot 47b).

What is a Mikveh, Halakhically?

The mikveh must comply with a number of precise halakhic [Jewish legal] qualifications. The mikveh must be built into the ground or the structure of the building. It must hold a minimum of 24 cubic feet of water–200 gallons. The depth must be such as to enable an average adult to stand upright and have the water reach at least 11 inches above the waist, so that immersion can be performed without backbreaking contortions.

The water must originally have been transported to the mikveh in a manner resembling the natural flow of waters. The general practice is to build cement channels at the sides of the mikveh roof, which will enable rainwater to flow directly into the mikveh. Done right the first time, with the required initial amount of water, other piped waters may be added later in whatever quantities and at any time, and the mikveh will still retain its religious validity.

The waters must be stationary and not flow (not even the flow caused by a filter) while the mikveh is in use. The water, by all means, should be chlorinated to assure its meeting the highest standards of hygienic cleanliness. (While the chlorinated water may be somewhat discolored, it does have to retain natural water color.)

Water deriving from a natural spring is considered a valid mikveh if it complies with halakhic conditions. Also quite proper is immersing in the ocean, where there is no mikveh available, given the satisfaction of certain halakhic conditions.

Parameters of the Mikveh Experience

The ceremony must take place on a weekday [and not on Shabbat, the Sabbath] and during daylight, as do all other Jewish court procedures. In cases when a full circumcision has to be performed (unlike the touch of blood for previously circumcised males), enough time will have to elapse to be certain that the wound has healed completely.

The only assurance that the immersion will accord with halakhic requirements for a male convert is the presence of the rabbi at the mikveh; a female is to be accompanied by a person familiar with the practice, such as a rabbi’s wife, the mikveh escort, or a very knowledgeable friend who herself uses the mikveh.

The body must be thoroughly cleansed immediately before the immersion. The convert should be careful that there are no adhesions such as bandages, Band-Aids, or ointment; that the hair is thoroughly brushed; the nails of the hands and feet are pared; and that no traces of cosmetics or nail polish remain. The whole body must be immersed at one time, not sequentially, and the submerging must be total, without even a single hair remaining above the water.

The Conversion Blessings and When They Are Recited

The blessing in the mikveh is as follows:

Barukh atah Ado-nai Elo-henu melekh ha’olam asher kideshanu b’mitzvotav v’tzivanu al ha’tevillah.

Blessed are You, O Lord, our God, King of the universe, who has sanctified us with His commandments and commanded us regarding the immersion.

Blessings over the performance of mitzvot [commandments] in Jewish life always take place before the action of the mitzvah. The reason for this is that it focuses the soul, raising the consciousness for the action to be undertaken, establishing the purpose of the mitzvah, and demonstrating that its origins are in God’s command. Also, the blessing enhances the mitzvah by providing the reason for undertaking the symbolic action. Ritva [a medieval Talmud commentator] notes that, since the blessing is a statement of the soul, it should precede the statement made by the physical action of the body.

There is one exception to this general practice of placing the blessing before the mitzvah–the immersion of a convert. The convert needs to recite the blessing after the immersion, not before. The reason is simple: One cannot declare “God commanded us” if one is not commanded by God because he or she is not Jewish. The convert becomes a Jew only after the immersion is completed.

After the blessing, the convert immerses twice more and then leaves the mikveh.

A second blessing is required by most, but not all, authorities. It is called she’hecheyanu, and with it a person thanks God that He has enabled him to live to experience the greatness of this moment.

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Rabbi Maurice Lamm holds the Chair in Professional Rabbinics at Yeshiva University, is the former senior Rabbi of Beth Jacob Congregation–Beverly Hills, and is President of National Institute for Jewish Hospice. He has written five books and sold 450,000.

http://www.myjewishlearning.com/lifecycl…eh_Prn.htm

[end quote]

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The following,  is a very interesting story about mikveh’s from 1934. It is a true story that gets to the heart of the Jewish people and how much they esteem the mikveh. My intent with posting the story is to allow you to reach into the soul of the Jewish people. They have obviously denied Christ, but they are human beings who have misplaced traditions having been ingrained into a system that they believe is of God. This is no different than others who also are in deep deception for their choice of a religious system, like Messianic Judaism and Hebrew Roots.

For the Jewish people, nothing is as offensive to them as Messianics who play at their religion – it is a very sad commentary that Messianics come in the name of the Lord – or whatever they perceive as the Almighty – to take part in Jewish rituals like the mikveh. These rituals are way out of line from New Covenant beliefs in which we serve a risen Savior, who shed His blood for our sins to reconcile us to God. I fear for their lack of understanding to incept a system that is so far removed from the teachings of the Bible.

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In May 1934, a young doctor completed his studies in Warsaw and returned to Byalestok. With the help of his father, a well-to-do farmer who some years earlier had moved his family to the city, he set up a small office in view of the town clock.

As the months sped by, his reputation grew and with it the size of the crowd in his waiting room. Handsome and amiable, he was at ease in the social circles of Byalestok, quickly becoming the toast of the secular Jewish community. Wealthy industrialists vied for the opportunity to introduce their daughters to him and the intellectual elite were constantly after him to address their groups and attend their social gatherings. More often than not he declined their invitations, unimpressed by the glitter of their parties and by the all-too-familiar topics of their conversations. He devoted his time to his practice; his leisure hours he spent strolling through the streets and parks of the city.

Between patients, he often glanced across the room at the graduation photograph of his elementary school class, dated 1922. Time was passing quickly. He was a doctor, respected, almost famous in Byalestok, but he was not happy with his accomplishments – something was missing. The life around him lacked purpose and consistency. Even his work depressed him at times. The death of a young patient, as he looked helplessly on, touched him deeply. What was the meaning of his life, he asked in his heart. Why did it have to happen?

One day late in October the Assistant Mayor of Byalestok, a tall educated Pole, called on the doctor.

A year earlier, the city administration had hired a new District Attorney, Andrei Maritus, who immediately set in motion a number of projects. The unabashed purpose of one of them was to close down all the mikvehs in Byalestok. On the second day of Rosh Hashanah, after hundreds of Jews had immersed themselves in the mikveh of the Main Synagogue, Andrei Maritus, accompanied by the City Health Inspector and three policemen, collected two samples from the water that had become dark and turbid. A day later all the mikvehs in the city were ordered closed, pending a hearing to be held two weeks hence. Late that same afternoon, the Assistant Mayor paid Dr. Schreiber a visit.

“It’s simply a matter of health,” said the Assistant Mayor, a tall, square-shouldered Pole with a rim of reddish hair around his bald scalp, smiling genially. “The community must be protected from an outbreak of typhoid fever. Why, only last month six cases were discovered in Olsztyn, another four in Siedlce.” Dr. Schreiber stared expressionlessly across the table. The Pole met his gaze and grinned affectedly. “This is a sample taken from the mikveh”, he said, placing the vial on the table. “We want you to examine it and report to us in three days.”

“I see,” Dr. Schreiber said. Now the purpose of the visit was clear to him: he, a respected member of the Jewish community, was to provide the conclusive evidence.

Sensing a hint of indecision in the Doctor’s eyes, the Assistant Mayor said: “It is a simple matter of health, Dr. Schreiber – the water is clearly polluted. We want your confirmation. Needless to say, you will be handsomely rewarded for your time.”

Dr. Schreiber sat for a long time at his desk. From the street below came the sounds of children playing. He went to the window and looked down. Squeezed between shadows the roseate sunlight of evening blanched the faces of the children. For the first time since he had taken occupancy in this office, he wondered if they were Jewish. At length, he turned around and picked up the sample. He placed a drop on a slide, then slipped it under the eyepiece of the microscope. One glance showed him that it was full of bacteria – he did not bother to analyze it further.

He apologized to the patients waiting outside his office and hurried down the stairs into the street. He walked through the main square with the pedestrian traffic, then strolled pensively through the gardens to the commercial center of Byalestok. From there he headed toward the Main Synagogue. The enormous, domed structure dominated the surroundings for many blocks. Here and there, Jewish children played in the dusty streets, dressed in rags, their earlocks drifting in the breeze.

The doctor had never made real contact with the observant Jews of Byalestok; in his social circle they were regarded with disdain, as one thinks of a distant relative who is squandering his life, but at whom one can only shrug one’s shoulders in helpless disapproval. He never understood their ways – then again, he never tried. His university days came to mind; there had been more than a trace of anti-Semitism in the air but, somehow, absorbed as he was in his studies, he made little of it, attributing it to the ignorance of a few misguided individuals in the faculty.

Suddenly, a five or six year old boy came out of a lane carrying a pail of water, and stood directly in front of Dr. Schreiber. A brown cap with a narrow visor extending over his brow covered his head, while a torn black coat concealed the little biy’s body from neck to ankles.

“Where is your skull cap?” he demanded with a nuance of contempt, jutting his chin upward.

“I don’t wear one,” said the doctor, smiling.

“Every Jew must wear a skull cap!” asserted the boy, hot with anger.

“Not every Jew.”

“Yes, every Jew!” he insisted stubbornly, pursed his lips, and shook his head reproachfully like an adult. “You wear glasses, don’t you, but glasses are heavier than a skull cap,” he said, with a talmudic thrust of the thumb.

The following week two elderly Jews came to Dr. Schreiber’s office. One was the Chief Rabbi of Byalestok, the other Leib Orenstein, President of the Main Synagogue. They had learned that the doctor was scheduled to testify at the upcoming hearing.

“The mikveh is not a place to wash ourselves,” said the aged Rabbi through the slit in his long, white beard. The axe-like handle of his cane leaned against his breast; he clasped it tremulously and went on, his narrow eyes set deeply between the swollen lids: “The mikveh is life; it is like the waters of the placenta in which the fetus lives and develops – when the infant breaks through the waters, it is alive. And so it is with a Jew when he comes out of the mikveh in the morning; he is rejuvenated, eager to serve the Creator.”

The wan cheeks of the Rabbi merged into his beard and all one saw was the dark, patient eyes and the serrated outline of his beard against the backdrop of his black coat. Dr. Schreiber nodded respectfully.

“Even if you do not understand what a mikveh means”, said Leib Orenstein, a clean-shaven man of sixty, in a voice straining to be calm, “you must respect that it is of the greatest importance to thousands of Jews in Byalestok. When a woman goes to the mikveh, she feels assured of a healthy child. This is not a detail in our lives; it is everything!” Unable to contain his emotion, he went on: “And do not deceive yourself into believing that this is an isolated event and that is will end here. Should they, G-d forbid, force the mikvehs to close it will encourage them to attempt more; soon they will want to destroy our slaughter-houses – cruelty to animals they will charge! Then our schools will be attacked, and then Dr. Schreiber – I ask you – what will be left?”

Dr Schreiber gazed somberly at his visitors.

“The water is full of bacteria,” he said frankly. “it is a health hazard.”

“No Jew has ever become sick from a mikveh,” stated Mr. Orenstein, his lips trembling at the Doctor’s misconception.

“That may be so, but nevertheless the water does pose a danger to the health of the community,” he said, weighing his words carefully.

“Science and logic are not everything, Dr. Schreiber,” said the Rabbi. “The history of the Jews is ample evidence of that.”

The visitors stood up to leave. The doctor accompanied them to the corridor. He expected them to plead with him, to evoke in him a sense of guilt. But they said no more, and he respected them for it. He extended his hand to them; the Rabbi held it lightly between both his hands as if to transmit a final message through it.

Dr. Schreiber took to wandering through the streets alone, a deeply troubled look on his face. In the religious district he imbibed the hum of Torah talk seeping out of the windows and the smell of challah baking for Shabbos. He was touched by the simplicity and devotion of their activity, admiring with envy the consistency of it all. But in the Jewish secular districts he reverted to his concern for truth, his intellectual desire to defend it wherever it might be threatened.

The night before the hearing Dr. Schreiber made his way into the dark deserted mikveh room of the main synagogue. He switched on the small electric lamp. The stark nakedness of the dressing room made him shudder; the piebald walls were cracked in many places; the toilet, uncomfortably close to the benches, leaked a vivid brown fluid, and in the high corners of the room, spiders spun their gossamer webs. He stepped slowly over the wooden floor to the stairs leading down to the pool. The dressing room lamp shed a pale light over the murky water. He crouched for a better look, leaning to a side to allow the light past him. Here and there, little clusters of lint intertwined with hair floated on the dark, still surface of the water that had not been changed for weeks. He scooped up a handful and let it spill through his fingers. He smelled it, then wiped his hand thoroughly on the sleeve of his coat. A frown suffused his face and he could not remove it.

The highly publicized hearing attracted officials and journalists from all over Poland. The hall was crowded. In the front row to the left, sat three rabbis, the Chief Rabbi in the middle, his trembling fingers dovetailed over the handle of his cane. The stage was set. The District Attorney, a tall bespectacled Pole with a grape-sized growth in the middle of his right cheek, veritably bursting with confidence, strutted back and forth between his colleagues, adding the final touches. The judge, a towering man distinguished by his flowing gray hair and an involuntary smile, called the hearing to order.

Andrei Maritus wasted no time. First on the witness stand was a former janitor of the Main Synagogue, a drunkard named Babules. Anyone who was even vaguely acquainted with Babules knew that for a swig of whiskey he would testify that grass was blue. Today, however, he was a different man. Dressed in a new suit and tie, his pitch black hair slicked down, he indeed had the appearance of a decent, law-abiding citizen. Only his eyes betokened the real Babules; bloodshot, they strove in vain to follow the District Attorney as he paced back and forth in front of him a little too quickly. With a coherence that surprised many of the onlookers, Babules described conditions at the mikveh as he claimed to know them. Using adjectives and superlatives utterly alien to him, his description of the squalid conditions brought the hostile audience to shouts of outrage.

“How often I pleaded with the rabbis to permit me to change the water daily!” he testified bitterly.

“And did they let you?” prompted the District Attorney, radiant with anticipation of victory.

“No! Never!”

“Why?”

“Money! What else?”

“You should have offered to do it for free,” suggested Andrei Maritus magnanimously.

“I did! Out of the goodness of my heart, Babules offered! I could not endure the odor, Sir! You see – I should have mentioned this earlier – but the older men were not reluctant to sneeze into the water.”

“That’s all for now, Mr. Babules”, said the District Attorney, smiling unrestrainedly as he fondled the growth on his cheek. He glanced meaningfully at the judge, who lowered his eyes to the notepad on his desk.

Six witnesses followed. The testimony of each was increasingly more devastating. However, it was clear that the prosecutor’s case rested on statements of questionable witnesses. There was no hard evidence, no scientific facts. For that, he called on Dr. Schreiber, who was seated in the back row of the hall.

“Now, Dr. Schreiber,” began the District Attorney, slowly and deliberately, “you were given a sample of water from the mikveh and asked to analyze it. I presume you have had an opportunity to do so.”

“Yes, Sir,” Dr. Schreiber answered politely, his stern gaze wrinkling the corners of his eyes into a tiny staircase of furrows.

“What are you findings, Doctor?” asked Andrei Maritus, pointing to the glass of blackened water which a court officer had placed on the ledge of the witness stand.

“The water is dirty,” said Dr. Schreiber without a trace of hesitation, meeting the Attorney’s eyes with a hard stare.

“How dirty, Doctor?” he continued with confidence, glancing discreetly at the judge.

“Very dirty,” answered the Doctor in the same resolute tone. A wave of silence rippled through the room.

Feeling the firm ground of his case, Andrei Maritus glanced at the crowd with a slight inclination of the head. He could barely collect himself to pose the decisive question. Meanwhile the visitors had become noisy with excitement. The District Attorney beckoned the crowd to be silent. At length, he turned to Dr. Schreiber, straining to control his every muscle.

“Would you say, then, that the water is hazardous to health?” he asked in a tone that permitted only one answer.

“The health of whom, Sir?” the doctor asked with exaggerated politeness.

A sudden hum of voices coursed through the hall.

“Silence!” the Judge ordered.

“Humans, of course!” the District Attorney enunciated haltingly, a shocked look of outrage on his face. Then he grinned nervously at the judges and pinched his cheek.

Dr. Schreiber lifted the glass to his eyes as if to ponder the question.

“For humans?” he asked reflectively, pausing for one final glance at the water. Before the stunned eyes of the crowd he brought the glass to his lips and drank it down in one gulp. Showing no sign of discomfort he placed it back on the ledge in front of him. “Are there any more questions, Sir?” he asked courteously.

Originally published in Di Yiddishe Heim Journal
Reproduced from http://www.chabad.org
© 2001-2004 Chabad-Lubavitch Media Center

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Yrachmiel Tilles is co-founder and associate director of Ascent-of-Safed, and editor of Ascent Quarterly and the AscentOfSafed.com and KabbalaOnline.org websites. He has hundreds of published stories to his credit.

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Editor’s note:

The unsavory condition of the mikveh in the story was clearly a function of the oppressive conditions under which Judaism struggled to survive in communist USSR. The mikvehs of today are clean and sanitary, with the women’s mikvehs at a level that can accurately be described as aristocratic.

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