About a year or so ago, I started noticing when reading my Bible the Israelites were constantly being called to repent, to turn back to YHWH. They were continually being admonished for following after other gods or putting other gods in His face. I thought to myself, what is the deal here? Then I asked myself how are we like that?
In America it seemed to me that there weren’t any other “gods” or “idolatry” except when we glorify things or people, elevating them to a level higher than God. But other than that, we didn’t worship Baal or Asherah or anything like that. Those were things you saw in other parts of the world, not in America.
Some folks might worship nature or the environment but I didn’t think I was guilty of that. Some worship the almighty dollar, but I didn’t think I was guilty of that either. My greatest concern was making sure my priorities were straight, putting God before anyone or anything else.
But then as I continued to read my Bible, I kept thinking there is an *awful* lot of attention drawn to “idolatry” and/or “sexual immorality” in the entire Bible. If there is that much attention to it, it *must* be more pervasive than I realize. At some point I also came to understand that the constant reference to sexual immorality in the Scriptures often times means following after other gods.
Then I started thinking about the wide path that leads to destruction and the narrow gate that very few find. (Matthew 7:13-14) Could Christianity in its purest form really be the narrow gate? I mean, not just the ones that say they are Christian and go to church, but the ones who believe in Jesus and live a life that reflects that. There seems to be an awful lot of Christians to be considered “few”, I thought.
I also started questioning the passages that say to obey God’s commands. Which commands specifically were we supposed to obey? Surely we were to obey everything Jesus said and anything else given in the New Testament. But what about the commands in the Old Testament?
I think it’s generally accepted that we are to obey the Ten Commandments, but I could never find anything in the Bible that made the distinction between those ten and all the rest…except when they are directed specifically towards priests, a specific gender, or a specific peice of land. I would hear many talk about the ceremonial law, but I couldn’t find any distinctions in the Bible that said, “obey this, skip that.”
As my husband and I began discussing it, we realized we weren’t keeping the Sabbath day holy as stated in the Ten Commandments. We started doing that on our own and started asking our Christian friends what they thought about that commandment. We were completely shocked at the kind of response we got.
Many said Saturday was the Jewish Sabbath but Sunday was the Christian Sabbath. But that’s nowhere in the Bible. I had a few folks justify this argument using a few Scriptures, but they were clearly twisting the Scripture to justify their position. The more we looked, the more it was clear: there is ONE weekly Sabbath day, and it’s the seventh day of the week.
Then I had some other folks say the Sabbath day command was put away…Jesus fulfilled that commandment, He is our Sabbath rest. Well, that didn’t make sense to us. We continued to search the Scripture and it became clearer and clearer which day of the week was the Sabbath day, and since Jesus and all of his disciples including Paul kept the Sabbath day holy, we as believers/followers of Christ are also expected to obey that commandment. We tried discussing this with the leadership at our church and came to a clear crossroads: we had to agree to disagree.
While we started keeping the Sabbath, we started looking at some of the other commands given in the Old Testament…particularly, the Feasts of the LORD. Our next question was why don’t Christians celebrate these feasts especially when we recognize they’re all about Christ? Jesus is our Passover Lamb, He’s the Unleavened Bread, He’s the FirstFruits. The Holy Spirit was poured out on Pentecost (or Feast of Weeks). Why didn’t we ever hear teaching on these holy days? At that time, Passover & Easter were right around the corner.
We decided that we would celebrate Passover & the Feast of Unleavened Bread this year. In searching Scripture to figure out how to keep these days the Biblical way (not necessarily the Jewish way), I discovered what a High (or special) Sabbath was. Then dots started connecting.
Jesus was buried before sundown leading into a High Sabbath and when his tomb was found empty on the morning following the weekly Sabbath, those two sabbaths were two different days! Jesus’ claim that he would be in the earth three days and three nights told me that he was buried on a Wednesday and rose on a Saturday, blowing the whole “died on a Friday and rose on a Sunday” idea away. We always thought the Good Friday (death) to Easter Sunday (resurrection) story didn’t add up, but this made it crystal clear.
Anyway, we decided we would *not* celebrate Good Friday and Easter this year, and boy, oh boy, what a stir this caused amongst our Christian friends and family. My husband had already done a little research on the pagan ties to Easter, but when I started looking into it, I became really disgusted. It was shocking to see where the tradition of the Easter Bunny and coloring eggs came from…completely pagan…positively affiliated with other “gods”!
We continued to keep the weekly Sabbath day and learn more about the LORD’s feasts. One thing in particular was that these Biblical “holy days” were generally equated with “Jewish” holidays by Christians and Christians had their own set of holidays (Sunday worship, Easter & Christmas), which weren’t even in the Bible. While studying about the Sabbath day, I discovered that it was Constantine that issued a decree in 321 AD declaring “the venerable day of the Sun” as a day of rest. Then, when I discovered these other Christian holidays were actually pagan celebrations incorporated into the church to help bring in the non-believer, I was blown away.
When we spoke to one of our well-respected Christian friends (a couple) about all of this, their response was “but that’s not what it means to me”. And it was like somebody turned a light on in a very dark place…there was such a stark contrast in our understanding of things, it was startling.
I suddenly realized these “Christian” practices of keeping “the venerable day of the Sun” holy vs. the seventh day which God blessed and made holy himself was in fact “turning to other gods”. And celebrating pagan festivals disguised as Christian holidays loosely tied to Biblical references vs. celebrating our Creator’s appointed feasts perfectly tied to our Messiah was most certainly “turning to other gods”.
It was like my whole worldview was turned upside down. This is what I call “my paradigm shift”.
Shortly after all of this I read through the books of 1 & 2 Kings and I noticed each description of the various kings started with the following statement: “he did evil/right in the sight of the LORD”. It didn’t matter what the kings considered right or wrong, good or evil, but rather it was what God considered right/wrong. And again, BAM, more dots were being connected in my understanding of things. Throughout Scripture, especially in the Old Testament we hear of stories where the Israelites may have done something that didn’t sound like that big of a deal to us perhaps, but God had a completely stronger/harsher reaction.
I had always known God was a holy God, but it was like He had a softer side when Jesus came to earth. But the more I started digging into my Old Testament this year, I really started seeing God’s softer side even back then. Then I realized, God is still holy and it still matters how things appear in His eyes vs. our own.
Someone pointed out to me a passage in Jeremiah 10:2-4 saying it was directly related to a Christmas tree (cutting down an evergreen, fastening it so it wouldn’t topple over, decking it with silver and gold). I didn’t believe them. I thought it was simply referring to an idol, a statue.
But then the more I researched the traditions behind Christmas, the more I saw the pagan origins behind it all and it disgusted me. AND…there are so many who cling to the Christmas tree with such fervor despite the fact that is has nothing to do with the birth of Christ (Luke 2). It sure sounds and looks more and more like an idol than just a mere holiday decoration.
I’m not opposed to celebrating the birth of my Savior, but I am opposed to celebrating it on a day commemmorating other gods and filling my home and family life with pagan rituals disguised as something “holy”. Not to mention the blatant slap in the face to our Creator when the very thing He slated detestable (pig) is the main attraction on so many Christmas dinner tables. As far as I can tell, the Christmas holiday is evil in the sight of the LORD…and it is no longer appealing to me in the least.
Unfortunately, there are many around me it seems that don’t see how or refuse to believe they could be committing sexual immorality by putting other gods in YHWH’s face through these Christian holidays and forsaking His holy days simply because that’s not what it means to them. I pray God will open their eyes.
I do have compassion for them because for so long I was guilty of the very same thing…I simply didn’t see it. Nobody pointed it out to me, in fact I had been led to believe my Sunday worship & Easter/Christmas observance was pleasing to God. I now see I was deceived.
I think the difference between my seeing it while others don’t lies in the fact that I was *looking* for how I could be committing such sin…I asked God to open my eyes, and He did. My hope is that my friends/family will seek the truth concerning these particular things in order to find it for themselves and repent rather than waiting to be slapped upside the head with it.
Jesus is coming back soon, and I don’t want him to say, “Depart from me, I never knew you, ye worker of iniquity” to my friends/family (let alone to me). Besides, the Sabbath and the LORD’s feasts are a delight and much more rewarding than any Sunday service (as a Sabbath replacement) or Easter/Christmas holiday can ever be. So many are missing out on that. I now know I was.