Tuesday, December 22, 2015

The Obscenity Of Christmas

Christmas was not observed in the first centuries of the Christian church, since Christians generally celebrated the death of remarkable persons rather than their birth. Later a feast was established in memory of the event of Christ's birth in the fourth century AD. In the fifth century the Western Church ordered the feast to be celebrated forever on the day of the Mithraic rites of the birth of the sun and at the close of the Saturnalia, a festival of light leading to the winter solstice with an abundance of candles symbolizing the quest for knowledge and truth. No certain knowledge of the day of Christ's birth existed and so it became a matter of convenience in an attempt to draw Pagans into the church. It was 300 years after Christ before the Roman church kept Christmas, and not until the fifth century that it was mandated to be kept throughout the empire as an official festival honoring Christ. 

The specific month and date of Jesus birth has always been a point of conjecture however theologians suggest that Jesus was born in the Spring, based on the biblical narrative that shepherds were watching over their flocks in the fields on the night of Jesus' birth something they would have done from Spring until early Fall, however not during the winter months. Many have mistakenly believed He was born around the beginning of winter, December 25th. It was custom among Jews to send out their sheep to the deserts around Passover in early spring, and bring them home at the commencement of the first rains which began around October. During the time they were out, the shepherds watched them night and day. The sheep were kept out in the open country during the whole summer. And as these shepherds had not yet brought home their flocks, it is a presumptive argument that October and the rains had not yet commenced, and that, consequently, our Lord was not born on the 25th of December, when no flocks were out in the fields; nor could He have been born later than September, as the flocks were still in the fields by night. The feeding of the flocks by night in the fields is a chronological fact. Luke explains that when Christ was born, (Luke 2:8)“there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.” Note that they were “abiding” in the field. This never happened in December. Both (Ezra 10:9-13) and the (Song of Solomon 2:11) show that winter was the rainy season and shepherds could not stay on cold, open fields at night. 

Can Christ truly be honored at Christmas? 

The most common justification that one will hear regarding Christmas is that people have replaced old pagan customs and intents by asserting that they are now “focusing on Christ.” The problem is that God plainly commands against it and keeping Christmas as it is today is in a sense actually dishonoring to Christ. Christ said, (Matthew 15:9) “In vain they worship Me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.” Christmas is not a command of God it is a tradition of men. (Mark 7:9) He said to them, “All too well you reject the commandment of God, that you may keep your tradition.” Every year, throughout the world, on December 25th, hundreds of millions do just that! On these very grounds, the nativity in December should be given up as it has morphed into a worldly Pagan ritual of obscene materialistic proportions where the fictitious person of Santa Clause has completely usurped the notion that it is a celebration of the birth of Christ.

Monday, December 14, 2015

Many Are Called But Few Are Chosen

Often times we wonder if perhaps a person in his zeal for the Lord becomes a pastor, a preacher or a priest when it appears obvious that this individual may have acted presumptuously as they do not seem at all gifted to meet the requirements and needs of that calling. For instance one would think that an effective teacher or preacher would have the capacity to hold crowds spellbound through great and articulate oratory skills, however this is not always congruent with God’s prerequisites.

(1 Corinthians 1: 26 - 27) For you see your calling, brethren, that not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called. But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty.

When reading the story of Jonah one must wonder what God saw in this man that He would expect him to go to Nineveh and call them to repentance. Nineveh was the famous capital of ancient Assyria. Previous cities like Asshur and Calah were ancient capitals of Assyria, but Nineveh became most famous in the seventh century BC. When King Sennacherib (705-681 BC) made Nineveh his capital, the empire expanded and became prosperous. The Assyrian empire became extremely great and powerful with Nineveh as its center, all the way until its final destruction by the Chaldeans and the Medes. Nineveh was located east of the Tigris River in a very fertile plain, the ancient ruins are located just opposite of the present day city of Mosul. Nineveh was over 60 miles wide with a population of 120,000 at the time of Jonah.

(Jonah 1: 1 - 4) Now the word of the Lord came to Jonah the son of Amittai, saying, “Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and cry out against it; for their wickedness has come up before Me.” But Jonah arose to flee to Tarshish from the presence of the Lord. He went down to Joppa, and found a ship going to Tarshish; so he paid the fare, and went down into it, to go with them to Tarshish from the presence of the Lord. But the Lord sent out a great wind on the sea, and there was a mighty tempest on the sea, so that the ship was about to be broken up.
(Jonah 1: 10 - 12)  Then the men were exceedingly afraid, and said to him, “Why have you done this?” For the men knew that he fled from the presence of the Lord, because he had told them. Then they said to him, “What shall we do to you that the sea may be calm for us?”—for the sea was growing more tempestuous. And he said to them, “Pick me up and throw me into the sea; then the sea will become calm for you. For I know that this great tempest is because of me.”

It’s hard to understand how anyone could be so willfully contrary that they would shirk the call and defy the will of the Creator of the universe like that! So as the story goes on Jonah is thrown overboard and swallowed by a large fish prepared by God for this event. And after three days inside the belly of this enormous fish, Jonah cried out to God knowing he was dying and the fish expelled him out close to dry land.

(Jonah 3: 1 - 10)   Now the word of the Lord came to Jonah the second time, saying, “Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and preach to it the message that I tell you.” So Jonah arose and went to Nineveh, according to the word of the Lord. Now Nineveh was an exceedingly great city, a three-day journey in extent. And Jonah began to enter the city on the first day’s walk. Then he cried out and said, “Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown!” So the people of Nineveh believed God, proclaimed a fast, and put on sackcloth, from the greatest to the least of them. Then word came to the king of Nineveh; and he arose from his throne and laid aside his robe, covered himself with sackcloth and sat in ashes. And he caused it to be proclaimed and published throughout Nineveh by the decree of the king and his nobles, saying, Let neither man nor beast, herd nor flock, taste anything; do not let them eat, or drink water. But let man and beast be covered with sackcloth, and cry mightily to God; yes, let every one turn from his evil way and from the violence that is in his hands. Who can tell if God will turn and relent, and turn away from His fierce anger, so that we may not perish? Then God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way; and God relented from the disaster that He had said He would bring upon them, and He did not do it.

One could only imagine how frightening Jonah must have appeared having been exposed to the digestive juices in the belly of the fish for three days, and although he obviously wasn’t a great orator or gifted preacher he simply proclaimed, “Yet forty days and Ninevah shall be overthrown” he obviously had everyone’s attention as they must have been fearful at the sight of him so they responded favorably and repented. It’s difficult to  comprehend Jonah’s attitude having been used so mightily by God, but then no one suffered the experience that Jonah had endured and perhaps he felt that his own life’s plans and aspirations had been ruined. However given the tumultuous and uncertain times in which we live anyone would be honored to be used by God to turn the course of this world around, a calling any of us would take seriously. If ever you feel called by God to do His will, don’t shirk and run away, accept the call and say “Lord thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven!”

(Jonah 4: 1 - 3)  But it displeased Jonah exceedingly, and he became angry. So he prayed to the Lord, and said, “Ah, Lord, was not this what I said when I was still in my country? Therefore I fled previously to Tarshish; for I know that You are a gracious and merciful God, slow to anger and abundant in lovingkindness, One who relents from doing harm. Therefore now, O Lord, please take my life from me, for it is better for me to die than to live!”

Monday, December 7, 2015

Hiding In Plain Sight

Consider how the leaders of nations seem to continually ignore the repetitive nature of history including the lessons learned in former wars and insist that there is “something new happening” when scripture coupled with historical reality refutes that idea completely.

(Ecclesiastes 1: 9 -11)  “That which has been is what will be, that which is done is what will be done, and there is nothing new under the sun. Is there anything of which it may be said, ‘See, this is new’? It has already been in ancient times before us. There is no remembrance of former things, nor will there be any remembrance of things that are to come by those who will come after.

Having spent two and a half years of my youth in the paratroops engaged in a war in SE Asia I came away realizing how members of an insidiously devilish insurgency can hide in plain sight posing as upright members of the societal infrastructure and how they can and will ultimately defeat the modern armies of nations. Truly there is nothing new under the sun, and while politicians ponder, politicize and pontificate, and generals take stock of their superior resources, the rats have already slithered under the door and are gnawing away at the constraints. Fiendish plots are being laid in the neighborhoods by seemingly nice and innocuous people who intend to wipe all Jews and Christians from the face of the earth.  We have seen this manifest recently in Southern California, this insurgency is in the early stages but there will be much more to come, so keep in mind that the authorities in whom we trust are always reactive rather than proactive. This is a warning to those who will listen, take heed of all that goes on, remaining vigilant and aware of those around you keeping in mind that the Lord is present with you always. Do not succumb to the lying heart of political correctness, being “nice” will not deliver from the wrath of those who destroy. Shun the desire to act aggressively but instead make provisions for the defense and safety of loved ones while laying your trust completely in the Lord. May God keep you safe and may we stand fearlessly in the face of the coming adversity!