"Come Out"

  
Throughout the Scriptures, YHWH's message to His people remains the same - that we are to be separate from the world.  This means the same thing to us today.

We live in this world but we are not to be of it, so we must therefore turn constantly toward the Word of YHWH, which is truth (Yohanan/John 17:17), and turn away from the world.  Walk with Him and not with the world.

This is a difficult thing to do, at times, because the humanistic, godless influence that surrounds us stems from as far back as Babylon (Berĕshith/Genesis 11:1-9). And in truth, this influence comes from the father of all lies, Satan, and his schemes started in the Garden.

We can trust in YHWH and He will be faithful to lead us out of the darkness.

Being persuaded of this, that He who has begun a good work in you shall perfect it until the day of יהושע Messiah
Philippians 1:6
 
We must begin to see the things in this world which make themselves an enemy of YHWH and acknowledge Him and His ways rather than the ways of our flesh.

May this section give you a better understanding of the place we are in and how we might seek first those things that are above, where He abides.
 
Over and over again YHWH is warning us to ‘Come Out’ of the pagan practices of the masses and to live a set-apart life according to the instructions and guidance of His Word.

1 And after this I saw another messenger coming down from the heaven, having great authority, and the earth was lightened from his esteem.
2 And he cried with a mighty voice, saying, "Baḇel the great is fallen, is fallen, and has become a dwelling place of demons, a haunt for every unclean spirit, and a haunt for every unclean and hated bird,
3
because all the nations have drunk of the wine of the wrath of her whoring, and the sovereigns of the earth have committed whoring with her, and the merchants of the earth have become rich through the power of her riotous living."
Revelation 18:1-3




And I heard another voice from the heaven saying, “Come out of her, my people, lest you share in her sins, and lest you receive of her plagues.
Revelation 18:4

17 Therefore, “Come out from among them and be separate, says יהוה, and do not touch what is unclean, and I shall receive you.
18 “And I shall be a Father to you, and you shall be sons and daughters to Me, says יהוה the Almighty.”
2 Corinthians 6:17-18
 
And יהוה spoke to Mosheh, “Go to Pharaoh and say to him, ‘Thus said יהוה, “Let My people go, so that they serve Me.
Shemoth/Exodus 8:1

Flee from the midst of Baḇel, and let each one save his life! Do not be cut off in her crookedness, for this is the time of the vengeance of יהוה, the recompense He is repaying her."
Yirmeyahu/ Jeremiah 51:6

“Come out of her midst, My people! And let everyone deliver his being from the burning displeasure of יהוה.
Yirmeyahu/Jeremiah 51:45
 
because it has been written, “Be set-apart, for I am set-apart.”
1 Kepha/Peter 1:16 quoting Wayyiqra/Leviticus 11:44, 19:2, 20:7
 
Adulterers and adulteresses! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with Elohim? Whoever therefore intends to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of Elohim.
Ya’aqob/James 4:4



Babylon

The name Babylon means, “gate of god”; confusion

Babylon was the capital city of Mesopotamia and, according to Scripture, founded by Nimrod. 

8 And Kush brought forth Nimroḏ, he began to be a mighty one on the earth.

9 He was a mighty hunter before יהוה, therefore it is said, “Like Nimroḏ the mighty hunter before יהוה.”
10 And the beginning of his reign was Baḇel, and Ereḵ, and Akkaḏ, and Kalnĕh, in the land of Shinʽar.
Berĕshith/Genesis 10: 8-10

As Scripture says, Nimrod was a mighty warrior (“one”) and a mighty hunter.  The phrase “before YHWH” means literally “in front of the face of YHWH”It can also mean “against” which would read as:  Nimrod was a mighty hunter against YHWH”.  This would fit the context of who Nimrod was, and considering that his name means “we rebel” would add validity to the definition of “against YHWH”.  It mainly points to the fact that YHWH sees everything, so all things are ‘before Him’.

Being a mighty hunter, Nimrod may have gained the trust and confidence of people by being able to protect them from wild beasts.  It could also be assumed that the phrase, related to him being a hunter, could mean that he was a hunter of men.  Either way, the people would have turned to him, possibly out of fear, as a leader.  This is most likely how he was able to form the great cities of Babel, Erech, etc…

As we read in Berĕshith/Genesis 11, all the earth had one language and speech.  This would have made it easy for Nimrod to gather people to himself and establish a form of government under his rule.  However, YHWH was displeased with their disobedience and thus confused the people’s communication by forming many different languages. (Berĕshith/Genesis 11:1-9)
In various studies and legends, Nimrod’s death led to his wife, Semiramis, inheriting the position of influence over the people.  She soon began instituting the “mystery” religion in which she was able to intoxicate others into rites of paganism and ultimately, humanism. 
 
She gave birth to her son Tammuz whom she then proclaimed to be the reincarnated Nimrod.  This gave rise to sun god worship and the countless false religions and the myths of the father/son gods and the wife/mother relationship.  For ex. - in Egypt, the myth of Osiris/Horus and Queen Isis was basically that of Nimrod/Tammuz and Semiramis.

The city of Babylon existed from app. 2300 B.C. to the last century before Messiah came to earth.  Though the metropolis changed hands many times it always remained one of the most populated cities in the ancient known world. 

The city and surrounding area was overtaken and eventually decayed centuries ago, but the remains can be found today in Iraq north of Bagdad in Al Hillah, Babel Province.  It was a beautiful megalopolis of the past and boasted one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World with its hanging gardens.  The city was well known for it’s remarkable naval power (Yeshayahu/Isaiah 43:14), military strength (Yirmeyahu/Jeremiah 5:16, 50:23), wealth (Yirmeyahu/Jeremiah 50:37, 51:13), commerce (Yeḥezqĕl/Ezekiel 17:4), garment manufacturing (Yehoshua/Joshua 7:21), and its national greatness and pride (Yeshayahu/Isaiah 13:19; Yirmeyahu/Jeremiah 51:41).

We can know with certainty that Satan’s plot to draw people away from the truth of YHWH’s Word involves a humanistic/pagan belief system, like the one formed in Babel.
The Scriptures speak of being unified in Messiah, of being like-minded, and believers being in one accord.  Satan despises this!  He absolutely loathes anyone who walks in the light of Messiah with his or her brothers and sisters in Him.

For this reason, the devil has attempted since the earliest stages of human history to entice people to unify and gather together with those of like mind, however, in the sense of pride and self fulfillment; in other words - humanism.  The city and tower of Babel is an example of Satan’s plot to draw people away from YHWH and unto each other.

And they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city, and a tower whose top is in the heavens, and make a name for ourselves, lest we be scattered over all the face of the earth.”
Berĕshith/Genesis 11:4

Notice that the people directly disobeyed YHWH’s command to “Bear fruit and increase, and fill the earth” (Berĕshith/Genesis 1:28, 9:1).  They chose to stay in one place and make a name for themselves rather than glorify the name of YHWH.  People are still doing this today, as we see huge cities built all over the world.  They long to congregate together, yet when they do it outside of YHWH’s blessing and plan; they end up with metropolises of heathen and godless confusion where murder, rape, and theft run rampant.  Incidentally, Babel means “confusion”, and confusion is exactly what we see in the world today.

Throughout history, various cultures and civilizations have been either indirectly or directly influenced by that first, great empire of Babylon.


Called the:
 
Glory of Kingdoms Yeshayahu/Isaiah 13:19
Lady of Kingdoms in Yeshayahu/Isaiah 47:5
Woman who sits on many KingdomsRevelation 17:5, 7-9, 15
THE MOTHER OF THE WHORES AND OF THE ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH. in Revelation 17:5

Babylon and it’s founder, Nimrod, was seemingly a gate through which so many variances of evil have come through to impact empire after empire, civilization after civilization. 
Our adversary, the devil, began something with Nimrod and Babel that he will continue to use until Messiah Y’Shua (Yahushua) comes back and establishes His kingdom on earth.  Come quickly, Y’Shua Ha Mashiach!
 
 
Philosophy & Theology in the church
 
There is a way which seems right to a man, But its end is the way of death
Mishlĕ/Proverbs 14:12
 
In this section we will look at two subjects that affect not only those in the church, but the entire spectrum of mankind - Philosophy and Theology. 

What is Philosophy?
 
The word “philosophy” comes from the Greek meaning “love of wisdom”.  If the Greek’s definition means “love of wisdom” then where does that wisdom come from?  It comes from man.  However, the Scriptures say that YHWH, alone, is wise (Romans 16:27) and that
the fear of YHWH is the beginning of wisdom.” Tehillim/Psalm 111:10.   Wisdom can only come from one source since YHWH and man are not alike.  It either comes from man or it comes from the Creator – YHWH our Elohim.

See to it that no one makes a prey of you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary matters of the world, and not according to Messiah.
Colossians 2:8

About four centuries before Messiah, Athens, Greece was becoming the epicenter of philosophy in the known world. 

After nearly a century of war (the Persian and Peloponnesian Wars) and continued strife with Sparta, Athens was in a political and social upheaval and as a result, flooded with new ideas and beliefs which led to the city becoming an intellectual and artistic focus in the Greek world.  Through the years of fighting, the Athenians began to rely less and less on religion and focus more on human capacity for right and wrong. 
 
As a result of the Wars, the Greeks began to assume that the actions of men determined their own destiny, rather than the will of a YHWH determining their path.  This has been a common thought throughout history since much of mankind believes that we are the ones in complete control of our lives.  In the case of false gods and goddesses, the Greeks were right.  There is no one like that controlling our destiny.  However, YHWH, the one true Elohim of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, guides and directs our paths.  He sustains us and it is in Him that we move and have our very existence (Acts 17:28).
 
The Greeks assumed that superstitious religion could not explain the natural world, so they relied on an “intelligent” means of discovering the truth - philosophy.  However, when looking at the Greek’s religion, it is no surprise that they were dissatisfied with the answers they received!  In Greek myth, there was an almost innumerable amount of gods and goddesses and the stories were purely mythical.  The tales were ridiculous and laughable to say the least.  They determined that they could find the answers through wisdom instead of the “unintelligible answers from religion”.  Unfortunately they lumped all religion into basically the same category, while thinking that science and religion are incompatible with one another and therefore one being unable to support the other. 
 
On the contrary, though, the Scriptures actually show various scientific principles that we see and study in science.  YHWH created the universe so that certain laws and principles would work together, all of which we can see as we look deeper into His creation.  The universe is running down therefore, everything that’s running down must have had a beginning.

The Greek philosophers Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle were the main proponents in the forming of philosophy as we recognize it today (although technically, the devil was the first to introduce the idea of philosophy into the world when he tempted Eve with the question, “did YHWH really say…” in the Garden).  Alfred North Whitehead said, “The safest general characterization of the whole Western philosophical tradition is that it consists of a series of footnotes to Plato.”

Plato was a student of Socrates and eventually started his own school.  Plato then taught Aristotle who then began his own school.  These schools, Plato’s Academy and Aristotle’s Lyceum, were the center for learning and raised up a host of young men whose minds were convinced of the “power” and capacity of philosophy to change the world.

W.H. Auden said, “had Greek civilization never existed, we would never have become fully conscious, which is to say that we would never have become, for better or for worse, fully human.”

This statement accurately reflects the mindset of many people today, especially here in the West.  Intelligent and learned people stand firmly on similar thoughts and ideas that the Greek society offered so much to our modern world that it would be impossible to imagine a place without that influence.  However, Greece and other cultures throughout history which have had a sizeable impact on our way of life in the western world were nothing more than pagan nations that practiced abominable things which YHWH hates.

Philosophy asks the question - how do things fit together? - body & soul, art & science, past & future, etc…
We try so hard to understand the universe and world we live in, through our human comprehension, instead of simply accepting the laws and principles that govern it and spending less of our time “talking” and more of our time “doing”. 

Most of those involved in the pursuit of philosophy get swept away by the intoxication of the question.  Their desire for wisdom dissolves into an ongoing quest for endless discussion that, in reality, has no real resolution.

An example of this is found right in the Scriptures, in the book of Acts.

16 But while Sha’ul was waiting for them at Athens, his spirit was stirred up within him when he saw that the city was utterly idolatrous.
17 Therefore, indeed, he was reasoning in the congregation with the Yehuḏim and with the gentile worshippers, and in the market-place daily with those who met there.
18 And some of the Epicurean and Stoic philosophers encountered him. And some were saying, “What does this babbler wish to say?” Others said, “He seems to be a proclaimer of strange mighty ones” – because to them he brought the Good News: יהושע and the resurrection!
19 So they laid hold of him and brought him to the Areopagus, saying, “Are we able to know what this fresh teaching is of which you speak?
20 “For you are bringing some strange matters to our ears. We wish, then, to know what these mean.”
21 For all the Athenians and the strangers living there spent their leisure time in doing naught but to speak or to hear what is fresh.
Acts 17:16-21

Notice that the Athenians and foreigners who were there spent their time doing nothing else but telling or hearing some new thing!
This is in stark contrast to what the Scriptures say about what to do with our lives.  Rather than spending time in idle talk, we must constantly be striving to learn the things of YHWH and do them. 
 
21 Therefore put away all filthiness and overflow of evil, and receive with meekness the implanted Word, which is able to save your lives.
22 And become doers of the Word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.
27 Clean and undefiled religion before the Elohim and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.
Ya’aqob/James 1:21-22, 27

Notice, in Acts 17:16, that the city was
utterly idolatrous.  This is most likely the cause of the Athenians' endless pursuit of “some new doctrine” which undoubtedly was false doctrines.  Once we set up an idol in our life, we no longer care for the things of YHWH and the truth of His Word.  They seemed to be only interested in hearing the latest philosophical thought, rather than seeking after truth - which, again, is the word of YHWH.  However, Sha’ul gave them the gospel by recognizing their “religiousness” and helping them to understand the Living YHWH and His desire for “all men everywhere to repent.” 
 
YHWH has set up everything in our lives that we might seek Him out.  However, the more sin that is in our lives, the more difficult it becomes to distinguish between the true Elohim and all of the false ones in this world.  Every person has some degree of "religious curiosity" which is really just a longing for our Creator, and a desire to do what's morally right.  However, the line between right and wrong is quickly fading as man continues to reject His Creator and chooses to nurture pride and selfishness.


There is no absolute truth in philosophy.  It’s all subjective.
 
This is a dangerous direction, since the bible clearly states that YHWH is the source of truth and it is His ways that we should follow. 

In our world the idea that there is not absolute truth has been growing exponentially for millennia.  Today, more and more people are latching onto the thought that “What’s truth to you and what’s truth to me is both okay.  It’s all truth”.  This could not be more harmful or destructive to mankind.  If we make up our own path and consider whatever we say is truth, then we are no longer accountable to the Creator and Lawgiver, YHWH Elohim.  We have then thrown away His judgments and ways for the sake of our own.  Since we are all sinful man, then there is no way that we can know absolute truth on our own.

9 “The heart is crooked above all, and desperately sick – who shall know it?
10 “I, יהוה, search the heart, I try the kidneys, and give every man according to his ways, according to the fruit of his deeds.
Yirmeyahu/Jeremiah 17:9-10

We must seek truth in the only real source of it - YHWH‘s Word.

“Set them apart in Your truth – Your Word is truth.
Yohanan/John 17:17

The Word of YHWH is truth and nothing but the truth.  Y’Shua, the Living Word, is truth personified.  Pilate, as Y’Shua stood in front of him, asked, “What is truth?”  It’s a question that mankind has asked since probably the first civilizations began.  However though they ask the question, they will never find the answer unless they look to the Scriptures. 
The ironic thing about Pilate’s question is that Truth was standing right in front of him!

The philosophers of any age gather around trying to rid themselves of paradoxes that they will never get rid of.  It’s ridiculous, even ludicrous, for one to sit around and “think” about how things work together instead of living life as it is and interjecting oneself into their role for the betterment of humanity.  Obviously the only way this can be done is to submit to the Creator of all and live for Him according to His commandments.

The biggest problem is that the philosopher is constantly in pursuit of a “world view”.  A world view promotes, in most cases, godlessness as well as a consistent anti-biblical message.

“Philosophy’s goal is nothing less than a systematic world view.”- Professor Walter Sinnott Armstrong

A world view has given us many things like evolution, for example, and constantly leads us away from YHWH.  Little by little we find ourselves walking towards darkness and before we know it, we’ve gone to the point that we can’t see where our next step will take us.

Here are a few more quotes from some famous philosophers:

“Philosophy, n. A route of many roads leading from nowhere to nothing.”- Ambrose Bierce

I can think of nothing less pleasurable than a life devoted to pleasure.- John D. Rockefeller

There will be no end to the troubles of states, or of humanity itself, till philosophers become kings in this world, or till those we now call kings and rulers really and truly become philosophers, and political power and philosophy thus come into the same hands.- Plato

If a man's good for nothing else, he can at least teach philosophy.- William James

Metaphysics is a dark ocean without shores or lighthouse, strewn with many a philosophic wreck.- Immanuel Kant

Science is what you know. Philosophy is what you don't know.- Bertrand Russell

This is my simple religion. There is no need for temples; no need for complicated philosophy. Our own brain, our own heart is our temple; the philosophy is kindness.- the Dalai Lama

There is no statement so absurd that no philosopher will make it.- Cicero

In the book of James, two kinds of wisdom are discussed - one is from YHWH, the other is not.

13 Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show by his good behaviour his works in meekness of wisdom.
14 But if you have bitter jealousy and self-seeking in your hearts, do not boast against and lie against the truth.
15 This is not the wisdom coming down from above, but it is earthly, unspiritual, demonic.
Ya’aqob/James 3:13-15

Wisdom that is not from YHWH is not truth and its origin is demonicIn order to truly understand what wisdom is and how we should use it we must seek the One who is all knowing and all wise - YHWH.
 
5 If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of Elohim, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it shall be given to him.
Jam 1:6 But he should ask in belief, not doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind.
Ya’aqob/James 1:5-6.

If you desire to know truth and wisdom, then look no further than your Creator.  He longs to give you understanding, but only in the things which He chooses.  This is for our best interests and we can trust Him in that.

So if philosophy is dangerous and unhelpful, then why do so many in Christendom practice in today? 

It is because of our attempts to free ourselves from the commandments of YHWH.  We want to do what we desire and not what YHWH wants from, and for, us.


Theology

Theology  a Greek word: theos, "God", + logos, "rational discourse", "knowledge", "study", "science"; so, literally, Theology is the science of God, as Biology is the science of life.  Aristotle already spoke about three sciences: Mathematics, Philosophy and Theology.

-Trying to know YHWH is wonderful. 
-Trying to understand Him is unobtainable. 

The problem with Theology is that it falls into the same boat as Philosophy, and that is this - a person can never completely understand the purposes and workings of YHWH, all we can do is accept His revealed word and will in our lives, and put our faith, in Him, into action.  To accept His ways for ourlives instead of spending all of our time trying to “dissect” YHWH is both wise and profitable and that means we’re walking in obedience to Him.

We must walk in His paths that He has laid for us, and not stray onto our own pathways which ultimately lead to destruction. 

It should tell us something that the term ‘theology’ was widely used in the writings of Plato and other Greek philosophers.  Plato used it in describing the pagan gods and goddesses of Greek myth.  The professing church soon adapted this term and its ideals, as it began to try and bring people to the truth.  It was invented by someone who wanted to dissect the god that some people worshipped, ultimately exposing the lie - that there was no god.  When applying this same thought process to the YHWH of the Scriptures, it will only cause disillusionment and sorrow for the person involved in it. 

There were numerous theological schools, like the one in Alexandria USA, that some of the early church fathers learned at.  However, many doctrines that the early church fathers taught were incorrect and unscriptural.  So does this tell us anything about these centers of theological thought? 

Eve, in conversing with the tempter, tried to reason and further understand YHWH’s command to not eat of the fruit beyond what He had already told her.  In the process, she added to the word of YHWH and fell into sin.  The more we try to “figure YHWH out”, the more we are puffed up in our thinking that we can understand the Creator of the universe and His ways.  We can only wrap our minds around the simple things that He has given us to study in His Word.  We must humbly draw near to Him, and then He will lift us up.

Theology has led many to a misunderstanding of the Scriptures because they take into account the words and writings of men alongside YHWH’s Word, putting them at, or sometimes above, the bible.  This inevitably results in confusion and frustration on some level, and the person will eventually stop growing in the truth of YHWH’s Word, or they will altogether walk away from it.

Even if a person studies the bible their entire life, enveloped in theology, they will sooner or later find themselves at a point of separation where they must either choose to accept YHWH’s Word for what it says, or they will follow a doctrinal pattern that is both unscriptural and worldly.

Now, granted, the term “theology” is used loosely in many circles within Christendom today.  Some may say they practice theology, when all they are actually doing is truly studying the Scriptures, without the saturation of men‘s commentaries.  However, those people are becoming fewer in number, as most people who study and practice theology are doing so in the truest definition of the word - trying to “dissect” YHWH. 

Regrettably most theologians either add to and/or subtract from the Word of YHWH.  Something that He expressly says not to do. (Deb
̱arim/Deuteronomy 4:2).  However, in their minds, if they can’t get something to fit with their beliefs then they are “forced” to do what is necessary and change, or adapt, or even “spiritualize” the Scriptures to fit their ideas.  Their “theology” then becomes a snare and a scapegoat to change the very Word of YHWH into something that fits their mindset.  This is rarely done intentionally, but rather unintentionally as the person studying the Scriptures is lead into a wrong understanding of the Word because they interpret it in their own way.  All of this for the sake of theology, instead of simply taking YHWH at His Word and trying to apply it as it reads.  It’s really an issue of pride.

In all fairness, there have been many lies and deceptions from the enemy over the centuries which have made it difficult at times to correctly understand the Word.  However, YHWH is faithful and merciful as He gives us His Spirit that we may know His will as His Word tells us.

May we seek YHWH only through His Word and ask for the wisdom that He promises to give us as we hunger and thirst after Him.

Oh, the depth of riches, and wisdom and knowledge of Elohim! How unsearchable His judgments and untraceable His ways!
Romans 11:33
 
Traditions of men


"But beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing,
but inwardly they are savage wolves. Matthew 7.15
 
If we truly want to understand the Word of YHWH and know His will for us then there is something very important that we must do; seek to rid ourselves of man-made traditions that are in opposition to or supersede the commandments of YHWH as we see in the Scriptures!
 
Once we can begin to sift through the centuries, even millennia, worth of lies, deceptions, and practices that have tainted and tarnished the people of YHWH, then and only then will we start to see Him, our Elohim and Messiah in a new light of understanding.

But He answering said to them, “Why do you also transgress the command of Elohim because of your tradition?
Mattityahu/Matthew 15.

What is being said here?

Y’Shua, in speaking to the Pharisees, was addressing the issue of man’s traditions superseding or replacing the Word of YHWH.
The Pharisees and other religious leaders of the time had firmly established entire books of “oral laws” or traditions that they had put in place to help them stay obedient to the Law of YHWH.  However, in the process of doing so, they began to look upon their laws as being equal to that of YHWH’s.  This led them to not only impose these “laws” on the people, but it resulted in something more horrific - they didn’t recognize their Messiah when He came!  In fact, they not only missed Him, they murdered Him! (As per YHWH’s will that is)

Think of it.  These men who were teachers of the Law, probably with good intentions, had created their own set of rules and laws to live by so that they might better keep the Law of YHWH.  But because they began to see more and more importance in their laws, they forsook the commandments of YHWH, and ultimately rejected Him because they didn’t know who He was, even though they had His Scriptures!
 
Their own traditions puffed them up with pride and arrogance and caused them to be selfish, blind, and even murderous.  They lost sight of their Elohim and His Messiah.

Y’Shua speaking to them, said:

7 “Hypocrites! Yeshayahu rightly prophesied about you, saying,
8 ‘This people draw near to Me with their mouth, and respect Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me.
9 ‘But in vain do they worship Me, teaching as teachings the commands of men
Mattityahu/Matthew 15:7-9.

Think of it!  These religious leaders were looking and sounding like they were true, Godly men.  They even honored YHWH with their words, but their thoughts were not on Him.  They worshipped YHWH in vain because they held their own teachings on par with YHWH’s commandments.

Does this sound like anyone we know today?

The professing church seems to be headed in a similar direction when we look at the countless scandals and arrogant claims by so many “men of God” who in reality are wolves in sheep’s clothing.

7 And in vain do they worship Me, teaching as teachings the commands of men.
8 “Forsaking the command of Elohim, you hold fast the tradition of men.”
Forsaking the command of Elohim, you hold fast the tradition of men.”
Mark 7:7&8

Y’Shua was referring to their thinking that His disciples had to wash their hands and cups before they could eat or drink, other wise they would be spiritually unclean.  Y’Shua, of course, pointed out that a man’s heart makes him unclean, not a dirty plate.  *A point of information:  In this chapter, Y’Shua did not declare all unclean animals clean.  As we already saw, the point of the argument was the traditional (Talmud) washing of hands, cups, pitchers, etc…

And He said to them, “Well do you set aside the command of Elohim, in order to guard your tradition.
Mark 7:9.

Do we do the same things today?

Are we just as guilty of laying aside the commandments of YHWH, that we might keep our traditions?

We may quickly offer up a “No!” to those questions, but the truth is that we should admittedly answer “Yes”.  We are just as guilty, if not more, of setting our own traditions and rules at or above the Word of YHWH. 
We need to realize that just because we might think something is okay, YHWH might not think that same way.  And when it comes down to it, what really matters is what He says.

Here’s a popular statement in the church today:” Well, I have liberty in Christ to do that.”

When looking at that statement, we need to first examine what is being addressed.  9 times out of 10, though, the person saying that really doesn’t have liberty to do what they are doing.

For an example:

Let’s say someone tells you that it’s probably not a good idea to keep celebrating Easter in the traditional way, because the name “Easter” is really the name of a pagan goddess and YHWH doesn’t want His people to identify with those names.  You might say, “Yeah, but that was in the Old Testament; God doesn’t really care about that stuff anymore, besides, He knows my heart and He knows that I worship Him on that day.”   
Well, if you said something like that, you’d be wrong.  You see, YHWH does know your heart, but it really doesn’t matter what you think, only what He thinks.  YHWH is the One who makes the rules, and He does so to guide and protect us. 
 
That would be similar to me going out to lunch, daily, with an attractive woman who wasn’t my wife and saying, “My wife knows I love her so it’s okay if I go out to eat everyday with another woman.” 
-Number 1: My wife would probably not be alright with that situation.  Why?     Well…
-Number 2:  Even if the other woman and I were just friends, we’d be opening a door for temptation to enter in because we found each other attractive and had similar interests.  This would lead to improper thoughts about each other, and ultimately could lead to an affair (adultery).
So it really doesn’t matter if my wife knows my heart or not.  It’s still an immorally wrong thing for me to do.

The Scriptures has many references to an adulterous bride/church. Like the children of Israel who disobeyed YHWH and ended up committing adultery with the idols and pagan practices of the nations around them, so we too can get caught in that same snare if we’re not careful.

It’s the same way with YHWH.  He tells me not to do something for my own benefit, so therefore; I should listen to and obey Him if I truly love Him. 
YHWH says in Deb
̱arim/Deuteronomy 12:6 that we shouldn’t worship Him with anything pagan.  So it’s not just about worshipping the pagan article itself, but to not worship our Elohim with those types of things as well.

And by the way, what YHWH says in the Old Testament, was not just for Israel then, but for His people throughout time.  That includes us. 

YHWH is replete in His Word that we should not even associate with the practices and traditions of the world, but rather, that we should stay away from them in order that we might draw closer to Him.

8 For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Master. Walk as children of light –
9 for the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness, and righteousness, and truth
10 proving what is well-pleasing to the Master.
11 And have no fellowship with the fruitless works of darkness, but rather reprove them
Ephesians 5:8-11.

Is it really liberty?

Most likely, liberty isn’t what we’re talking about here, but rather, our flesh.  Our flesh (sinful nature) wants us to be in rebellion against YHWH.  Therefore it’s going to tell us to do anything and everything that’s in opposition to His Word.  We have to ask ourselves if YHWH is really alright with us doing certain things or is it just our flesh talking because we really want to do it.  We will justify all kinds of things if we really want to.  Think about the last time you wanted to buy something expensive, that you in no way needed to buy.  Did you make up all kinds of reasons that you should have it?  I’ve done that before, it’s our sinful nature talking. 
 
YHWH wants us to be set-apart just like Him.  That means He wants us to be set apart from the world and our desires.  If we strive to follow His commandments and be like Him, then we will find ourselves walking in the light as He is in the light and not giving in to temptation like in times past.

15 What then? Shall we sin because we are not under Torah but under favour? Let it not be!
16 Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves servants for obedience, you are servants of the one whom you obey, whether of sin to death, or of obedience to righteousness?
Romans 6:15-16.

What is Sha’ul talking about here?  Is he saying that the law is dead now that we’re in Messiah?  No, actually once we’re in Messiah, we are no longer under the law’s condemnation.  Now that we are not condemned by the law, we are free to live in the favour of YHWH.  YHWH’s favour is not a new thing that came along in the New Testament, however.  The favour of YHWH has always been there when He chose to bestow it. 

See to it that no one makes a prey of you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary matters of the world, and not according to Messiah.
Colossians 2:8

Notice Sha’ul makes the point that the tradition of men, along with philosophy and deceit, is all in accordance with worldly principles, which is opposing to Y’Shua.

If, then, you died with Messiah from the elementary matters of the world, why, as though living in the world, do you subject yourselves to regulations:
Colossian 2:20

A world view, or worldly mindset, is simply demonic since the devil is the “god of this world” and the “prince of the power of the air”.  His scheme is to draw us away from YHWH with empty deceit, traditions, and philosophy among men.
What may seem to be a small thing may in fact be our downfall.  We cannot underestimate our adversary, the devil, nor at the same time forget that our YHWH is faithful and just to forgive us our sins.  He will shed light on our path and lead us through the darkness if we humble ourselves before Him.

O יהוה, my strength and my stronghold and my refuge, in the day of distress the gentiles shall come to You from the ends of the earth and say, “Our fathers have inherited only falsehood, futility, and there is no value in them.”
Yirmeyahu/Jeremiah 16:19

No matter how old or young we may be;  no matter how long we’ve been steeped in tradition, there is no time like now to bow down before YHWH and ask for His forgiveness and seek His wisdom to better understand His ways.
If you truly want to break away from the traditions of your fathers and live anew in the Word of YHWH, then ask Him for help and begin walking in His commandments, His statutes, and His judgments.  Ask that He would bring clarity and understanding as you search for answers in His Word and try to come out from the pagan traditions of men.  It is no small thing to want to please YHWH and live wholly for Him.

“And you shall love יהוה your Elohim with all your heart, and with all your being, and with all your might.
Deb
̱arim/Deuteronomy 6:5

But without belief it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to Elohim has to believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who earnestly seek Him.
Ibrim/Hebrews 11:6
 
and He died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for Him who died for them, and was raised
2 Corinthians 5:15


Hebrew vs. Greek.

What’s the difference between thinking like a Hebrew and thinking like a Greek?  No, there’s no punch line, let me explain.

When I say Hebrew or Greek, I’m not necessarily referring to the concept of nationality.  Rather, I’m talking about the difference between eastern and western mentality, or more specifically - the difference between a Scriptural and a worldly mentality.  You see, when I speak of thinking Hebraically I’m not talking about thinking like a Jewish person.  Nor am I saying that having a Greek mindset is referring to a person of Greek heritage.  It really is a picture of thinking either scripturally or worldly.

YHWH created the Hebrew people and their way of life.  He invented a people that would follow Him by entering a covenant relationship with Him.  That means whether a person is a natural born Jew or a Gentile, they are a part of YHWH’s family if they’ve accepted Y’Shua as their Messiah. 

When YHWH called Abram (later called Abraham) out of Ur, He was calling him out of a pagan nation and a culture that did not follow the Living Elohim.  He wanted Abram to be the first of many people who would follow Him as their Elohim and Father.  Eventually YHWH saved His people from the bondage of slavery in Egypt and led them to Mount Sinai where He gave them His commandments.  These were His ways to live by, and the people agreed to the covenant.  However, many of them broke that pledge and committed adultery against YHWH.  But YHWH had always known that there would be those who would trust Him and serve Him alone, even through adversity.  That’s why He gave His laws and judgments to anyone who would follow Him.  YHWH told His children to be separate from the nations around them.  He is telling us (His children) the same thing today -

‘And you shall be set-apart to Me, for I יהוה am set-apart
Wayyiqra/Leviticus 20:26
 
To think like a Hebrew means to think according to YHWH’s Word, not any tradition laid down by men.  Thinking with a Greek mindset is to think like the world.  We say Greek because that ancient empire was one of the most influential cultures on our world, even today (though it all goes back to Babylon).  But whether you talk about Babylon, Egypt, Greece, or Rome, they’re all really the same when it comes to worldliness and paganism. 

In our society today we have been especially impacted by the Greeks of antiquity.  Their taste for war & bloodshed, fashion, athletic competition, and sexuality has saturated our thinking in almost unimaginable doses.  To think like a “Westerner” here in this part of the world is almost synonymous with having a “Greek” mindset.

Some say, “I can’t stop thinking with a Western mindset because I’m a Westerner.”

This is what most people say when asked to start thinking with a Hebraic (biblical) mindset.

We can stop thinking like a Westerner and begin thinking more Scripturally when we look into YHWH’s law.  YHWH’s instructions help us to focus more on Him and His ways and teach us how to remove ourselves further from the world.

YHWH’s laws help us to let go of man made traditions which often times keep us from understanding His will for our lives. Especially some of the less understood laws (clean and unclean, piercing, feasts and celebrations) which, when understood in context, can help to remove us from a pagan culture.

We have to be cautious, though, that we’re not thinking in terms of Judaism (like christianity, Judaism with it’s Talmud is full of the traditions of man).  Again, what I mean by thinking hebraically is to think like the first people that entered YHWH’s covenant, thinking like our brothers and sisters in YHWH Lord.  I’m saying we need to think scripturally and not worldly.  In fact, the word "Hebrew" actually has connotations of ‘a wanderer or nomad’, one who has passed over something and is passing through.  We are just that; this world is not our home, because we are looking for a city whose builder and maker is YHWH.

The early church in the first and second centuries largely sprung up in Greece and its surrounding areas.  When it spread further, the church was still in the midst of the Roman Empire which had many similar tendencies as the Greek culture.  This would undoubtedly influence the mindset of the early Christians and shape their interpretation of YHWH’s word.  Two hundred and some years is a long time of living in a land that was vehemently pagan.  But it didn’t cease after that; it continued on since paganism had spread the world over millennia before Messiah Y’Shua even came to earth.

A few examples of “Greek” influence in our world today:

*In the battle of Marathon in Greece, a messenger was sent to proclaim nike which is Greek for victory, in the battle.  The distance from Marathon to the runner’s destination was 26 miles.
-Nike = “Victory”!
-Marathon’s today are 26 miles because of the distance the messenger ran.

*The Olympic Games, which are celebrated world wide, originated in Greece as a competition in honor of the gods.  Athletes would usually compete in the nude to display their bodies.
 
*“Thomas Jefferson once wrote that “design activity and political thought are indivisible.” He believed that architecture was an important vehicle for expressing political ideals, and
he worked to ensure that Washington, as the seat of the American democracy, would become a city of stately and sophisticated buildings based on classical precedents.”

The majority of architecture found in the capitol is mainly Greek (though other influences such as Roman design are found.  In actuality they all stem from Babylonian architecture). 
This may not appear to be very significant to most people, but it’s just another small piece to the much larger puzzle of paganism and its influences on our society today.

Again, these are but a few examples of the influence that Greek and Roman culture has had on our society.  In fact, most of the major pagan cultures of the world, i.e. Babylon, Egypt, Assyria, etc… have all impacted our culture today in more ways than we might ever understand.  Babylon in particular impacted most, if not all, of the major empires of the world.
 
With all this said, the ultimate danger is not in human threats, but from our adversary, the devil.  He wants us to turn away from the Way, the Truth, and the Life – Y’Shua Ha Mashiach.

*Satan wants us to sink deeper and deeper into a culture that is slowly becoming less and less focused on the Creator and Messiah of the universe.* 

The changes are sometimes very subtle, but if we study the Word of YHWH and seek to live obediently to the faith, then we will see more clearly every day.
 
Pagan Origins
 
Origins of names; expressions, and more.

In this section, we will take a look at the various names; expression, ideas, etc… that come from pagan traditions and myths.

YHWH tells us continually, in His Word, to be separate from the world, to be set-apart.  While we can function in a society by following certain customs and traditions, we must become more aware of what is being propagated by the enemy of our souls, and how we can discern YHWH’s will for us. 

I guarantee, you will be surprised by the origins of many things that surround us in our everyday lives.  But don't be afraid to embrace the truth of the Scriptures and turn away from this world.
 
 
Names
 
Days of the Week.

Where did the names for the days of the week come from?

Sunday = sun’s day; day of the sun

Monday
= moon’s day; day of the moon

Tuesday
= Tiu’s day; Tiu is the Germanic god of war and is related to the Norse god Tyr.

Wednesday
= Woden’s day; Woden is the top Anglo-Saxon/Teutonic god. His name derives from wod = “violently insane” and en = “headship”.

Thursday
= Thor’s day; Thor was the Norse god of thunder

Friday
= Freya’s (or Frigga’s) day; Teutonic goddess of love, beauty, and procreation.

Saturday
= Saturn’s day; Saturn was the Roman god of agriculture.


The Planets of our Solar System

Every single planet in our solar system, except earth, is named after a Greek or Roman god of mythology. 

Mercury
- god of travel (Roman)

Venus - goddess of love (Roman)

Mars - god of war (Roman)

Jupiter - the most important deity in Roman mythology;  Named Zeus by the Greeks.  Each of Jupiter’s moons is named after mythological figures that had some type of relationship with Zeus.

Saturn - god of farming and father of Jupiter (Roman)

Uranus - god of the sky (Greek)

Neptune - god of the sea (Roman)

Pluto - even though Pluto is no longer considered a planet, it was named after the Roman god of the underworld.

It is amazing once you begin to understand that this is just the tip of the iceberg.  We are so influenced by ancient civilizations such as Rome, Greece, and the like that we don’t even realize how much we may be living in a modern day type of Babylon - which was the “blueprint“ for pagan empires.
 
 
Months
 
January = Janus was the Roman god beginnings, sunrises & sunsets.  He had two faces, each facing the opposite direction.

February
= from februare which is Latin for purify.  On February 15th the Romans celebrated this day as the forgiveness of sins.

March
= Mars was the Roman god of war.  During the Ides of March, the Roman army would march off to war.  Usually this began their military campaigns to conquer more and more territory.

April = possibly from the Latin Aprilis which could be derived from aperire which means to open (as in blossoms and buds opening up).  It could also be derived from Aphrodite, the Greek name for the Roman goddess Venus.

May
= Maia, the Roman goddess who mothered Mercury.

June
= Juno, the chief Roman goddess.

July
= named in 44B.C. for Julius Caesar.

August
= renamed in 8B.C. for Caesar Augustus.

September
= septem is Latin for 7; the seventh Roman month; established during the reign of Julius Caesar.

October
= octo is Latin for 8; the eighth Roman month.

November
= novem is Latin for 9; the ninth Roman month

December
= decem is Latin for 10; the tenth Roman month

Holiday origins
 
It's no small thing to say that many of us have grown up in homes that celebrated the holidays.  From Easter to Christmas, we can probably all sit around and share memories, both good and bad, of our childhood in which we went to church, opened presents, hunted eggs, received (a lot) of candy, and so on. 
 
But how many of us have ever considered what we're celebrating?  Or how we're celebrating YHWH in these holidays?  Can there be anything wrong with the traditions we've all grown up with to some extent?  Or in the words of so many, does YHWH really care how we celebrate Him?  If He knows our hearts, do things like Easter bunnies and jolly old elves really concern Him?

As you study through this section, I must remind you that though our flesh is weak, if our spirit is willing to seek the truth of YHWH's Word, then He is faithful to bring us out of the things which displease Him - all for our own good! 

If YHWH DOES care about how we celebrate Him, then shouldn't we know?
 
 
Easter

All over the world people celebrate Easter by coloring eggs, hiding baskets, and waiting for the Easter bunny.  And of course the professing church remembers the Resurrection of ‘Christ’ on this day. 

But is there anything wrong with this holiday?

Let's begin by asking a simple question – What does the name “Easter” mean?
 
The name “Easter” is actually derived from the name of a pagan goddess of Teutonic (German or Northern European), or possibly Anglo-Saxon, origin. She was known as Eostre, Eastre, Ostern, and many other names, and was believed to be the Great Mother goddess of fertility and sunrise

Her festival was celebrated at the time of the spring equinox.  While some may argue that
no such goddess existed, their claims have no support.  The Venerable Bede, a highly notable historian, as well as others, including Jacob Grimm (of the Brothers Grimm fame) attested to her certainty*.  People did worship this goddess and various cults and festivals sprung up in her name.

There have been many goddesses of spring throughout time.  Here are just a few examples.
   
Ashtoreth of ancient Israel
Ishtar of Assyria
Isis from Egypt and beyond
Astarte of ancient Greece
Kali from India
Ostara from the Norse
Aphrodite from Cyprus
and many others.
 
 
The bunny, or hare, has always been a sign of fertility in many ancient cultures.  This would explain the association with a fertility goddess and why hares were used in many pagan rituals. The hare (Easter Bunny), from ancient times was a symbol of the moon, it being a nocturnal animal. The hare is the only animal born with its eyes open. The Egyptian word for hare is "un," meaning "to open." Thus, the hare was associated with the opening of a new season; spring, in April, at the vernal equinox. The hare and eggs were mutually symbolic in Egypt of the opening of their new year, at which time eggs were ceremoniously broken. 
 
The “Easter egg” has been a staple of the festivities as long as we know.  Eggs were also a symbol of fertility and were often used in various ceremonies and pagan practices.  Again, this would explain the connection between the fertility goddess easter and eggs.
 
How the tradition of coloring the eggs got started is not completely understood, though some historians trace the practice back to ancient Greece and Persia.  There are many legends as to how this practice may have begun, but regardless, we know that they are all related to any number of pagan cultures and their practices revolving around the spring equinox.

When we look at the traditions surrounding our celebration of Easter, there is little mistaking the pagan origins of this holiday:  The name, the bunny, the colored eggs, the timing with the spring equinox and more.  Even the “sunrise services” which most churches keep, is associated with Easter, the goddess of sunrise, though most hold to the statement that it is because ‘Christ’ rose early in the morning.  However, we fail to realize that most of our traditions come from pagan rituals rather than the Scriptures.
 
There is much to learn and understand on this subject. More detailed teachings can be found under the ‘Articles/Teachings’ tab. Most important to understand is the sign of Yonah/Jonah which Y’Shua mentions in Mattityahu/Matthew 12: 39 & 40:
 
39 But He answering, said to them, “A wicked and adulterous generation seeks after a sign, and no sign shall be given to it except the sign of the prophet Yonah.
40 “For as Yonah was three days and three nights in the stomach of the great fish, so shall the Son of Aḏam be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.
 
This was the only sign given by Y’Shua confirming that He is the Messiah. The Easter celebration does not support this sign and in fact contradicts this passage of Scripture, making it null and void. Satan is the master deceiver and author of lies. The very fact that christianity observes the easter story/celebration is a counter witness to this passage from the Scriptures. We must come to our senses and see Satan’s subtle deception and lies.

So what’s the big deal?

If you mention any of this to Christians, most will tell you that it’s not wrong if we use the name of a goddess or symbols of fertility in celebrating Y’Shua’ resurrection.  Most will say something like this:

“Well I don’t worship Easter, I think about Y’Shua on that day.” Actually most will say they think of 'Jesus' on that day – point made

While that may be true to many people, we have to realize that it’s not what‘s right in our eyes, but what’s right in YHWH’s eyes.  He does know our hearts, but He also has a standard that He wants us to walk in - His Word.  I do believe that He is merciful to us when we don’t always realize the truth, but most of the time we are without excuse and simply want to follow our own flesh rather than the Spirit of YHWH. 
 
If we’re honest with ourselves, we can see how absurd it is to say that "YHWH doesn’t care whether or not I use pagan things to worship Him because I love Him and that’s all that matters".  If we truly love Him, then we will obey His Commandments and abstain from traditions and practices that are contrary to the Scriptures.
 
For this is the love for Elohim, that we guard His commands, and His commands are not heavy,
1 Yohanan/John 5:3

Let’s see what YHWH says in His Word.

“And in all that I have said to you take heed. And make no mention of the name of other mighty ones, let it not be heard from your mouth.
Shemoth/Exodus 23:13.

3 “And you shall break down their altars, and smash their pillars, and burn their Ashĕrim with fire. And you shall cut down the carved images of their mighty ones and shall destroy their name out of that place. Footnote: The names of the gentile deities (mighty ones).
4 “Do not do so to יהוה your Elohim,
Deḇarim/Deuteronomy 12:3-4

“And I shall remove the names of the Baʽals from her mouth, and they shall no more be remembered by their name.
Hoshĕa/Hosea 2:17

“And it shall be in that day,” declares יהוה of hosts, “that I cut off the names of the idols from the earth1, and they shall be remembered no more, and I shall also remove the prophets and the unclean spirit from the earth.
Zeḵaryah/Zechariah 13:2

*Notice that YHWH identifies the names of idols with the [false] prophets and the unclean spirit

It would seem that YHWH doesn’t want the names of pagan idols to even be mentioned from our mouths in accordance with worship of Him.  It's a very serious thing to YHWH and He specifically does not want us to worship Him using those kinds of things!

It really is a type of blindness that we can’t see how wrong it is to celebrate the Resurrection of Y’Shua by identifying it with a pagan goddess. 

Who of us would go around saying, "Happy Venus Day!"?

But some people would say that they have liberty in Christ to do that!  They couldn't be more wrong.  Aaron didn't have liberty to make the golden calf (Deb
̱arim/Deuteronomy 9:16-21), nor did Solomon have liberty to commit idolatry (1 Melaḵim/Kings 11:5-11).  YHWH was angry with them and others who committed sin, and He judged them. 

If YHWH has already said how He feels about these pagan, idolatrous things, why would He suddenly give us liberty to be involved with them?  Its sin, regardless of what one says, though many seem to believe that YHWH of the Old Testament is not the same YHWH/Y’Shua of the New Testament.  He DOES NOT CHANGE! (Mal’ak
̱i/Malachi 3:6).  It can only be our flesh that wants to continue in practices that are dishonoring to YHWH (Romans 8:7).
 
And even if it was alright to celebrate Him with pagan symbols and such, then why would we want to?!  Why do we want to proclaim the death and resurrection of our Elohim and Messiah – Y’Shua Ha Mashiach - by using the name of a pagan fertility goddess and other symbols of spring fertility rituals?!  We are supposed to be separate from the world and yet we so closely identify with it that the line of distinction has all but disappeared between the world and the professing church.

In saying all of this let me just state that it wasn't that long ago that I was doing the same things: I was saying "happy easter" and hiding baskets for our kids, and coloring eggs to hide money or candy inside.  I thought about Y’Shua too on that day, at least for the first half of it, but soon my attention turned to symbols and family gathering rather than the whole purpose of the day - the celebration of His resurrection.  No, family gatherings are not bad, but they can quickly distract our thoughts from the ultimate meaning of the day if they are done in an unworthy manner.  Our family get-togethers are not always blessed in the eyes of YHWH depending on our conversations.

But in all of this YHWH revealed His will through His word.  I then had to make a choice to obey Him and not my flesh.  I chose Him, but that doesn't mean I'm perfect or have reached a point where I no longer need to follow His direction for my life.  I can only follow Him because He gives me the strength to do so.  It’s an everyday process to learn from Him and try to walk in His ways.
 
Sometimes we fall, but it’s like being a toddler and learning to walk for the first time.  You may not get it right away, but if you keep trying you’ll eventually begin to not only walk, but run. YHWH is faithful to help us walk with Him, but only if we trust in Him to guide us.

The Scriptural Feast of Pesach/Passover as an illustration of Messiah Y’Shua is so much more meaningful to me now and is such a blessing to understand and celebrate. Why then does Christianity not want to share in this blessing? Why can’t they see the truth from Scripture?


*Bede's account of Eostre
 
According to Bede, writing in De Temporum ratione ("On the Reckoning of Time"), Ch. xv, De mensibus Anglorum ("The English months") the word "Easter" is derived from Eostre, an Anglo-Saxon goddess of spring, to whom Eostre-monath, corresponding to our month of April (Latin: Aprilis), was dedicated:
15. The English Months.
In olden time the English people – for it did not seem fitting to me that I should speak of other nations' observance of the year and yet be silent about my own nation's – calculated their months according to the course of the moon. Hence after the manner of the Hebrews and the Greeks, [the months] take their name from the moon, for the moon is called mona and the month monath.
The first month, which the Latins call January, is Giuli; February is called Sol-monath; March Hreth-monath; April, Eostur-monath; May Thrimilchi...
Eostur-monath has a name which is now translated Paschal month, and which was once called after a goddess of theirs named Eostre, in whose honour feasts were celebrated in that month. (Eostur-monath, qui nunc paschalis mensis interpretatur, quondam a dea illorum quae Eostre vocabatur et cui in illo festa celebrabant nomen habuit.) Now they designate that Paschal season by her name, calling the joys of the new rite by the time-honoured name of the old observance.
What is secure in Bede's passage is that the lunar month around the month of April in the Julian calendar was called Eostur or similar; In Vita Karoli Magni Einhard tells, that Charlemagne
(c. 742 or 747 - 814) gave the months names in his own language and used 'Ostar-manoth' for April.  Some critics who question Bede's account of a goddess suggest that "the Anglo-Saxon Eostur-monath meant simply 'the month of opening' or 'the month of beginnings'."It should be noted that Old High German ostarun is plural, as it is in Aelfric's Hexameron: "And ne beoð næfre Eastron ær se dæg cume ðæt ðæt leoht hæbbe ða ðeostre oferswiðeð"

Grimm's Ostara

In 1835, Jacob Grimm (1785–1863) published Deutsche Mythologie, a collection of German myths and oral histories, including a two-and-a-half page commentary on a goddess Ostara.
Grimm recalles Bede's account of Eostre and states that it was unlikely that the man of the church would simply have invented a pagan goddess. From the Anglo-Saxon month name, he then reconstructs an Old High German equivalent, *Ostara:
"This Ostarâ, like the AS [Anglo-Saxon/Old English language]. Eástre, must in the heathen religion have denoted a higher being, whose worship was so firmly rooted, that the Christian teachers tolerated the name, and applied it to one of their own grandest anniversaries."
He also notes various accounts of the name of the Easter festival in Old High German, like ôstertagâ or aostortagâ. According to Grimm, these were plural forms of Ostara, since the festival would have been celebrated on two days.
Grimm's commentary does not mention any Easter Eggs or Easter bunny customs, the only Easter custom he mentions being Easter Bonfires (Osterfeuer), a long-standing German tradition, attested since 1559.
The Deutsche Mythologie had a strong impact in German Romanticism, and "Ostara" achieved high publicity with those people that were interested in the field, e.g. within Germanic mysticism.  An instance of this is the magazine Ostara, that appeared in Vienna between 1905 and 1920. The editor and later exclusive contributor was Lanz von Liebenfels. Ostara is also one of the names of the mother- archetype in the psychology of Carl Gustav Jung.
 
The Hare in mythology

Because of its fertility (one doe can produce up to 42 young a year), the hare is an emblem of fertility, abundance, sexuality, lust, rampant growth and excess.
It became the emblem of gods and goddesses in many different cultures.
Philostratus said the most suitable sacrifice to Aphrodite was the hare as 'it possesses her gift of fertility in a superlative degree'.

Pliny the Elder prescribed its meat as a cure for female sterility and reported that if you ate a hare your body would be sexually attractive for nine days. Hare's genitals were carried to prevent barrenness.

Through the centuries stories of the hare abound in relation to the moon and the springtime.  If Eostre/Easter was the goddess of spring and the dawn, representing a rebirth of life on the earth, then it would make sense that the highly reproductive hare was associated with her.  The sun was always closely connected with the moon as seen in many different cultures around the world.

According to myth, Eostre had a pet that was a large bird which she one day magically changed into a hare. Because this hare was still a bird at heart, it continued to build a straw nest in which to lay its eggs.  From this, and countless other stories, we get the idea of an 'egg laying easter bunny'.
Hares are different from rabbits; however, they are not as common as their cousins which lead to the eventual use of the rabbit as the easter bunny, rather than the hare.

Around the 1500's written traditions surfaced in Germany which told of the Oshcter Haws (Osterhaas), a hare that brought colored eggs to children and placed them in the baskets they had made.  German immigrants brought the Osterhaas legend to the Americas where it quickly spread throughout families.   
As noted above, the rabbit soon replaced the hare due to it being more common. 

Hare's build their nests in a flattened nest of grass, compared to the rabbit which lives underground in burrows.  This could be where the idea of the 'grass-filled' easter basket comes from, along with the idea of new grass growth in the spring time.

As most myths go, the Easter bunny has been engrained in our culture with the likes of Santa Clause and Cupid.  What makes these symbols even more disturbing is that people insist they hold a place in celebrations of our Lord and Savior!  Jesus did not die on a cross and rise from the dead in order that we might have liberty to worship Him with abominable things.

“Do not do so to יהוה your Elohim - Deḇarim/Deuteronomy 12:4

If YHWH doesn't care whether or not we worship Him using these types of symbols, then that is a far more frightening thought than if He does care (and He does).
 
 
The Easter Egg
 
The egg has been a symbol of fertility and rebirth for thousands of years.  Virtually every pagan culture around the world has employed the use of the egg in their fertility rituals.
 
The ENCYCLOPEDIA BRITANNICA p. 859, Art., "EASTER" says, "The egg as a symbol of fertility and of renewed life goes back to the ancient Egyptians and Persians, who had also the custom of coloring and eating eggs during their spring festival."        
         
The ENCARTA ENCYCLOPEDIA;
"The Easter egg is associated with beliefs of particularly ancient origin. The egg was an important symbol in the mythologies of many early civilizations, including those of India and Egypt. It was commonly believed that the universe developed from a great egg and that the halves of its shell corresponded to Heaven and Earth. The egg was also connected with the springtime fertility rituals of many pre-Christian and Indo-European peoples, and both the Egyptians and the Persians made a practice of coloring eggs in the spring. In Christianity the egg is a symbol of resurrection, representing the emergence of Christ from his tomb to everlasting life."
 
The ENCYCLOPEDIA OF RELIGION, 1987, p. 37, "Egg":
"In traditional folk religion the egg is a powerful symbol of fertility, purity and rebirth. It is used in magical rituals to promote fertility and restore virility; to look into the future; to bring good weather; to encourage the growth of crops and protect both cattle and children against misfortune, especially the dreaded evil eye. All over the world it represents life and creation, fertility and resurrection ... Later [customs concerning eggs] were linked with Easter. The church did not oppose this, though many egg customs were pre-Christian in origin, because the egg provided a fresh and powerful symbol of the Resurrection and the transformation of death into life"
 
The giving of eggs during the spring equinox is also a very ancient custom.

The World Encyclopedia, 2005:
"The exchange of Easter eggs is a pre-Christian rite."

So how could a symbol of pagan fertility rites become entrenched in the church's celebration of Easter? 

The Catholic Church enticed pagans to convert to Christianity by disguising the celebrations with Christian themes and allowing the people to keep some of their pagan traditions.

Read the quote from Pope Pius below.

Pope Pius V
approved this blessing to be used for the eggs:

"Bless, O Lord, we beseech Thee, this Thy creature of eggs, that it may become a wholesome sustenance to Thy faithful servants, eaten in thankfulness to Thee, on account of the Resurrection of Our Lord."
                         
In ancient Babylon it was believed that the goddess Astarte hatched from a giant egg that had landed in the Euphrates River.
 
The idea of a mystic egg spread throughout the world originating in Babylon.
James G. Frazer, The Golden Bough, Vol. 12, 3rd Edition (1907-15, reissued 1935-36 and 1955); Maria Leach, editor, Funk and Wagnall's Standard Dictionary of Folklore, Mythology and Legend, Vol. 1 (1949).

As previously stated, eggs have been used in various cultures and religions to represent the different aspects of fertility and new life.

The philosophical or cosmic egg is another nearly universal symbol. Alchemically, the egg is a symbol of the cosmos, as it is in a multitude of folk legends. In Hindu cosmology, it is the source of the universe. The egg as a container of the universe is found in many ancient religions. The egg symbolizes birth and potential. It contains within a miniature sun, and it features prominently in solar mythology. The gods Vishnu, Phanes, and Mithras, are all "egg born" solar deities. - From an article found at:
altreligion.about.com

Wiccans (witches) color eggs still to this day in honor of Ostara. "Ostara is a time of fertility and rebirth, and few things symbolize this as well as the egg. By coloring them with bright pinks, blues and yellows, we're welcoming the colors of spring back into our lives, and saying farewell to winter." - Pattie Wigington from 'Your Guide to Paganism/Wicca'.

Today our country, and the rest of the world, celebrates Easter and cheerfully colours Easter eggs including those at the annual White House Easter Egg Roll on the front lawn.  Funny, I thought the day was supposed to be a time of rejoicing in the Resurrection of Yahushua Messiah, not pagan spring rituals.
 
Christmas
 
A cold winter's night.  A roaring Yuletide fire.  Mistletoe and holly hung around the home.  And a brightly lit tree as the center-piece of the holidays.Sounds charming, doesn't it?
But did you know that these things and more have absolutely nothing to do with the birth of Y’Shua!?
 
Did you realize that they actually have everything to do with the winter solstice celebrations of paganism?

It's true!

Most people never realize that not only was Jesus not born on December 25th but that nearly every single Christmas tradition comes from ancient pagan festivals celebrating the winter solstice and the re-birth of the sun.

This holiday is probably the most difficult for people to let go of since it holds so many memories.  However, the enemy (Satan) is a master at deception and nostalgia is one of his most powerful weapons.  It takes people back to a time in their lives that is most often wonderful in their minds, but the stark reality is that it was not as wonderful as they remember. 
 
Nostalgia, thereby leads people to hold onto something that never really existed in the first place.  They then try and recapture that moment or event and in the process are slowly pulled away from the truth of YHWH's Word.

I had a friend of mine say once that they did not want to hear the truth about Christmas because they "didn't want to be convicted"!  They actually realized that the holiday was probably not what they thought it was and displeased YHWH and they didn't want to hear about it because they loved it so much!!!  Purposeful ignorant bliss is what people want instead of the wonderful, freeing truth of YHWH's Set-apart Word!
 
Another experience was when I tried to discuss clean and unclean foods with my Pastor at the time and he stopped me mid-sentence saying “don’t tell me, I don’t want to know or I’ll have to change”.

People will quite often say that those who seek to keep the commandments of YHWH are in bondage, but I say to them, "Try not setting up your Christmas tree or decorating your house this year".  The response is always the same - a resounding "NO WAY!"  You tell me who's in bondage.
 
Valentine’s Day.

Valentine’s Day. So many of us have known this holiday, since our earliest years of childhood, as a day to celebrate love.  What with it's hearts, chocolates, flowers, and those cute little “Be My Valentine” cards that we give to each other in school (and work), February 14th is established in our hearts as a time we can celebrate our loved ones.  So sweet and harmless, isn't it? Or is it? 

Well, read on.

In ancient Rome, February was the official beginning of spring and was a time of purification, when one would clean their house out by sweeping it and sprinkling salt and spelt throughout the home - think “spring cleaning”.  It was at this time that the ides of February began on the 15th of the month - this was known as Lupercalia. 
  
Lupercalia was a fertility festival (aren’t they all?) which was dedicated to the Roman god of agriculture, Faunus.  It was also in remembrance of the founders of Rome Romulus and Remus. An order of Roman priests, known as the 'Luperci', would gather at the cave that they believed Romulus and Remus were born in. 
In the myth, these two founders of Rome where nursed and raised by a she-wolf, or lupa

The Luperci (priests) would then sacrifice a dog for purification and a goat for fertility. The boys would cut the animal hides into strips, dip them in blood, and run through the streets gently slapping both women and crops with the bloody hides in order to promote fertile wombs and soil.  The women welcomed the slapping,    hoping that they would be fertile in the coming year. 
 
According to legend, at the end of the day, the young, single women of the city would put their names in a large urn.  The city bachelors would draw names and then become paired with that woman for the year (or at least the night).  The goal was to find a spouse and start a family; however, drawing names is rarely a good start to a life long commitment.  It seems that man, again, tried to take control over YHWH's design for marriage.

The festival was largely derived from the god Pan, whose cult was most likely formed and celebrated by early Greeks.  They kept this festival in a cave, now known as the Cave of Pan, which was later used by the Romans as the basis for their Romulus and Remus myth.  Dionysius claims this and that it was in February that the cult celebrated their god.  The book "Caesarea Philippi Banias, the Lost City of Pan"
by John Francis Wilson pg 58 notes this.

Pan was a mythical god who was half man, half goat and is traditionally identified with the instrument called a pan flute.  His name, 'Pan' is from the Greek word paein meaning "to pasture". 
Pan is also where we get our word panic from.  The myth tells us that Pan would wait for unsuspecting travelers to pass through his forest.  He would then rustle the brush and bushes at various places along the traveler's path, thereby causing great apprehension in the person.  Their heart would begin pounding faster, their palms became sweaty, and their breathing quickened.  Hence, this is the origin of the word panic.

Many modern images of the devil come from the mythical god Pan, what with his goat-like face and horns, hooved feet, and mischievous manner.  However, the devil is no such thing, rather, he is a murderer, liar, and very real.  He is a fallen angel who is our enemy and the deceiver.

It seems as though there is also some connection with the legend(s) of St. Valentine.  There were three known men named Valentine who, according to the Catholic Church, were all martyred.  It is believed that the men were secretly helping young lovers in some manner.  Though the fact remains that the details of these men are shadowy at best.  Legend seems to prevail in the Catholic Church, taking the place of true, Biblical facts.

Whatever the case, it would seem as though the different legends and myths have merged together to form our modern holiday.  Valentine’s Day, though, is what it has always been - a day for people to indulge, in varying degrees, in some form of lustful, pagan love.  The kind of “love” that is generally expressed on Valentine’s Day ranges from - “Tell her you love her with chocolate” to little, chubby babies causing people to fall in “love”. 
Of course, like everything else, Cupid and all the other cute little angels of Valentine‘s day, are pagan in their origins.  Cupid was the Roman god of love, son of Venus, the goddess of love.  His name in the Greek is Eros which is where we get the word "erotic".  This is fitting for a holiday that is really all about erotic lust.  In the myth, Cupid was an adult male god who fell in love with a mortal woman named Psyche.  His mother Venus wasn’t pleased and various perils ensued. 

When Constantine became emperor of Rome, instead of rejecting the pagan customs of the day, he simply repackaged them so everybody could enjoy the holidays.  Both Christians and pagans could celebrate without feeling left out.  What a nice gesture, huh?
  
In the Middle Ages, the Catholic Church, while keeping many pagan traditions, changed some features to “Christianize” things a little more.  They did this with all the holidays, not just this one.  They changed Cupid from an adult male to a cute little child.  This slightly reduced the sexual image that was there in the story; however, it didn’t actually change anything.  Valentine’s Day, in most people’s minds, is still about lust rather than true love.  YHWH is love, but we’ve lost the understanding of that and replaced it with flowers and lingerie. 

As with many of the holidays, the attention lies upon profit.  The ancient festivals of paganism usually revolved around fertility, but today it is the fertile soil of money making that holds people's affections.  Valentine's Day is the second most profitable holiday for greeting cards next to Christmas.  And like all other modern holidays, our sweet tooth prevails as we consume millions of dollars of candies and other sickeningly sweet treats - all in the name of Christ, it seems!

Though many will argue that they focus on the love of Y’Shua during this time, the fact remains that YHWH does not want us mixing paganism with worship of Him (Deuteronomy 12:1-4).

Here is a link to an
article on a modern keeping of the ancient Lupercalia festival.  There are many such observances and experiments revolving around far gone traditions as people attempt to reconnect with paganism. It is all in relation to a rebellious heart before YHWH.

It’s interesting that at nearly the same time as Valentine‘s Day, according to YHWH’s calendar, is the Feast of Purim.  This feast remembers the willingness of the young Jewish girl, Hadassah (whose Persian name
was Esther) to risk her life for her people. 

Y’Shua said,
 
“No one has greater love than this: that one should lay down his life for his friends.
Yohanan/John 15:13.

Of course, the obvious picture in Hadassah is the sacrifice that Y’Shua did make for all of us.  YHWH is love and He showed His love by giving everything He had for our salvation.  The goats and dogs of Lupercalia/Valentine's Day are merely pagan copies of the Lamb of YHWH who brings about life through His death and resurrection.  The blood of the goats, were believed to bring about fertility, but it's the blood of Messiah that gives life eternal.

Y’Shua said,“If you love Me, you shall guard My commands" (Yohanan/John 14:15).  He also said in Mattityahu/Matthew 5:17-18 that He didn't come to destroy the Law or the prophets, but to fully preach them and that not the smallest marking in the Law would pass away until heaven and earth pass away.  His commandments are the Torah/Law of YHWH and it is by obedience to His law that we show, nay, prove our love for Him!
  
If YHWH tells us to come away from the paganism in this world and to worship Him according to His Word, then why wouldn't we obey?

Deḇarim/Deuteronomy 12:1-4; Yirmeyahu/Jeremiah 10:1-3; 2 Corinthians 6:14-18
 
 
Halloween/All Saints Day:

Every year on the last day of October, children walk through neighborhoods, schools, and even churches to ask for candy and other goodies while dressed up in costumes that, the majority of the time, are anything but pleasing to YHWH.

So how did this holiday begin and what should our response be as followers of Y’Shua?

In, what is today the United Kingdom, Ireland, and some areas of France lived a people called the Celts. The Celts lived 2,000 years ago in these areas and every November 1st they celebrated the new year.  For them it was a time when summer ended and winter began and they called this Samhain (pronounced sow-een) which means “summer’s end”.  They began looking toward the long, dark and cold winter months which lay ahead.  Many times these winters resulted in human death.  On the eve of their new year, which would be October 31st, the Druids (Celtic priests) would celebrate the festival of Samhain by building huge, sacred bonfires, dressing up in animal skins, and telling one another’s fortunes.  They believed that on this night, the realm between the living and the dead became blurred and the ghosts of the deceased came back.  The Druids would attempt to consult these dead spirits to gain insight into the coming year, which was important to the farming culture of the Celts. These spirits would often wreck havoc, and ruin crops among other things.
 
The Druids would often build huge bonfires (bone-fires) and offer sacrifices in order to communicate with the dead.  Animals were most often used in these rituals, but humans were sacrificed as well.  We can safely assume this because of the practices of contemporary cultures around the Celts and the fact that those who identify themselves in divination and necromancy often culminate in such rituals. American Folklife Center of the Library of Congress collection on Halloween.

Some traditions hold that people would dress up in costumes, or disguises to confuse or hide from the dead spirits, or that treats would be left out to appease them.  Some believe that the jack-o-lantern came from the Scottish and European traditions of people carving devilish faces into turnips or rutabagas whichwere then used to scare away the souls of the dead.

It's quite easy to see that these traditions have made their way into the modern day celebrations of Halloween.
With the Druidic practice of consulting the dead spirits for knowledge of the coming year, divination has played a large part in the traditional Halloween festival.
 
From centuries past and even into the last century we can see this influence in various pieces of artwork, novels, and even greeting cards!

YHWH clearly condemns such occultic practices as divination and He expects His people to be separate from
such abominable activities. So called "harmless" games like Ouija boards, which are sold in toy stores across the country, are actually doorways that can openly summon demonic spirits.  Ouija boards, Tarrot Cards, and other objects are nothing but objects; however they are clearly used in the spirit of divination and fortune telling and therefore are tools of the enemy which allow the person using them to be influenced by Satan and his followers.
 
Earlier in the middle of the first century A.D. the Roman Empire had conquered much of the Celtic peoples and had introduced many of their traditions.  The first was Feralia, a day in late October when the Romans traditionally commemorated the passing of the dead. The second was a day to honor Pomona, the Roman goddess of fruit and trees. The symbol of Pomona is the apple and the incorporation of this celebration into Samhain most likely explains the tradition of "bobbing" for apples that is still practiced today on Halloween.

By the seventh century A.D., Roman Catholicism had spread to most of Northern Europe and pope Boniface IV declared November 1st to be All Saints Day, in order to combat the pagan festival of Samhain.  This day was designed to remember all deceased saints and martyrs. 
 
"Pope Gregory IV standardized the date of All Saints' Day, or All Hallows' Day, on November 1 in the name of the entire Western Church in 837.  As the church day began at sunset, the holiday coincided exactly with Samhain.  It is claimed that the choice of date was consistent with the common practice of leaving pagan festivals and buildings intact (e.g., the Pantheon), while overlaying a Christian meaning." - From the wikipedia
article' Halloween'.

This was a very common practice indeed for the Catholic Church to allow pagans to keep their celebrations, places of worship, etc... in the hope that it would make for an easier transition to Christianity.

What the pope succeeded in was creating a holiday that was sanctioned by the church but it maintained the pagan traditions of the Celts: remembering the dead.  The ongoing problem of “leaving in” some pagan traditions so that people could more easily accept the church’s ways is a big one.  It only opens a door for the enemy to get in and grab a foothold.  The Celts fall festival of the dead was filled with practices such as divination.
 
The middle English Allhallowmesse means All Saints Day and the night before began to be called All Hallow’s Eve, which eventually became Halloween.

Around 1000 A.D. the church made November 2nd All Soul’s Day which was created to honor all the faithful dead.  It's believed that those who died, who had not been completely atoned for and had not made it to heaven could be "helped" to heaven by prayer and the sacrifice of the Mass.  At this point, the Catholic Church created a day that was similar to Samhain and even celebrated it in a similar fashion with large bonfires, parades, and dressing up in costumes like saints, angels, and even devils.

YHWH tells us clearly in His Word not to consult the dead or people who say they can contact the dead.   For the church to promote any kind of holiday or celebration that in any way ties in with a festival of the dead is wrong.  It is yet another step away from Scripture.
 
It is clearly an amalgamation of pagan practices that make up both Halloween and All Saints Day.  Every year we watch as little children wear horrific costumes and parade around asking for candy.  Dressed up as devils, ghosts, witches, murderers, (the list goes on) kids are encouraged to join in on the fun of Halloween.
And most children are completely unaware of the door their parents have opened by letting them participate in a festival that honors the dead and macabre!

There are so many children out there who have no idea of the horrendous things that lurk behind the costumes, movies, and other Halloween merchandise that consumers buy.

More and more adults have come to "recapture" their childhood by dressing up for Halloween.  However, the level of seductive, even erotic, evil that ransomed their imagination as a child is now working even harder on their grown up mentality.  Now that there's freedom as an adult to do what you please, the rules are stretched beyond imagination at the perverse and sickening trends that flood the market every October.
 
The stench of demonic activity is ripe on Halloween for the obvious reason that people openly celebrate evil!
 
The holidays that we celebrate in this country and that are kept all over the world are nothing more than demonic copies or distortions of YHWH’s Feasts as found in Leviticus chapter 23.  Satan always designs an imitation of what YHWH sets up for His people, although these imitations are twisted and contorted lies.

YHWH plainly states how He feels about such traditions and/or people that associate with celebrating the dead or have anything to do with various practices.
 
10 “Let no one be found among you who makes his son or his daughter pass through the fire, or one who practices divination, or a user of magic, or one who interprets omens or a sorcerer,
11 or one who conjures spells, or a medium, or a spiritist, or one who calls up the dead.
12 “For whoever does these are an abomination to יהוה, and because of these abominations יהוה your Elohim drives them out from before you.
Deḇarim/Deuteronomy 18:10-12

May YHWH guide us with His Set-apart Spirit and open our hearts, eyes, and minds to discern the deceitfulness of the devil and of this world.   YHWH will lead us in the truth of His Word if we humble ourselves before Him, and may we do so, so that we may not harden our hearts to the truth of His ways. 
 
Many holidays like All Soul's Day, the Day of the Dead and other such festivals focus on spirits of the deceased that are believed to communicate with the living.  This is an abominable belief and a doctrine of demons.
The
Day of the Dead which is celebrated in Mexico as well as other parts of the world stems from the influence of the Catholic Church and All Saints/All Souls Days.  This and other festivals like it are nothing short of handed down traditions of Babylonian origin.
 
The link between Halloween and satanic/occultic practices is a short one.  Here is a link to an excellent article by David L. Brown on Halloween's Occult Connection.


The Pagan Circle or Wheel Of Life 
 



The Wheel of the Year is a Wiccan and Neopagan term for the annual cycle of the Earth's seasons. It consists of eight festivals, spaced at approximately even intervals throughout the year. These festivals are referred to by Wiccans as Sabbats. While the term Sabbat originated from Abrahamic faiths such as Judaism and Christianity and is of Hebrew origin, the festivals themselves have historical origins in Celtic and Germanic pre-Christian feasts, and the Wheel of the Year, as has developed in modern Neopaganism and Modern Wicca, is really a combination of the two cultures' solstice and equinox celebrations. When melded together, two somewhat unrelated European Festival Cycles merge to form eight festivals in modern renderings. Together, these festivals are understood by some to be the Bronze Age religious festivals of Europe. As with all cultures' use of festivals and traditions, these festivals have been utilized by European cultures in both the pre and post Christian eras as traditional times for the community to celebrate the planting and harvest seasons. The Wheel of the Year has been important to many people both ancient and modern, from various religious as well as cultural and secular viewpoints.
In many forms of Neopaganism, natural processes are seen as following a continuous cycle. The passing of time is also seen as cyclical, and is represented by a circle or wheel. The progression of birth, life, decline and death, as experienced in human lives, is echoed in the progression of the seasons. Wiccans also see this cycle as echoing the life, death and rebirth of the Horned God and the fertility of the Goddess. While most of these names derive from historical Celtic and Germanic festivals, the non-traditional names Litha and Mabon, which have become popular in North American Wicca, were introduced by Aidan Kelly in the 1970s. The word "sabbat" itself comes from the witches' sabbath or sabbat attested to in Early Modern witch trials.
 
IMBOLG - 2nd FEBRUARY.

Celtic fire festival later christened as ‘Candlemas.’ This ‘Festival of First Light’ is the time when we see the earliest spring growth appear. The Christian Saint Brigid, who was celebrated at this time, was based on the much older goddess of Spring - Brigid/Brid.

Traditionally the Western term "Candlemas" (or Candle Mass) referred to the practice whereby a priest on 2 February blessed beeswax candles with an aspergillum for use throughout the year, some of which were distributed to the faithful for use in the home. In Poland the feast is called Matka Boska Gromniczna (Matka Boska, "Mother of God" + Gromnica, "beeswax candle").
Within the Roman Catholic Church, since the liturgical reforms of the Second Vatican Council, this feast has been referred to as the Feast of Presentation of the Lord, with references to candles and the purification of Mary de-emphasised in favor of the Prophecy of Simeon the Righteous. Pope John Paul II connected the feast day with the renewal of religious vows.
 
SPRING EQUINOX - 21st MARCH

A time when day and night are of equal length with light gaining prominence. The Christian Easter celebration is named after the Teutonic goddess Ostara/Eostre. Many sacrificial gods (such as Attis) were lamented at this period.
 
BELTANE/BEALTINE (FIRE OF BEL) - 30th APRIL

Start of summer festival held on May Eve. The Celtic Fire celebration has long associations with Pagan fertility rites such as the Maypole dance and Greenwood marriages. This is a particularly happy time marked by the flowering of the Hawthorn (White goddess Tree). The early Christian Fathers realised this day to be most important to the indigenous folk so they Christianised it as St. Walpurgis Night. In order to further suppress Pagan tradition the Church demonised Beltane (as with Samhain) into a time associated with evil or so-called devil worship.
 
MIDSUMMER 22nd JUNE

The life-giving solar orb is now at its zenith and all organic growth of earth at full power. From this point on the year must head down once again to its lowest time of midwinter. The Summer Solstice has been thinly disguised by the Church as St John the Baptist’s Day because of its associations with water. In ancient times many rites were performed to seek aid from the gods to help the crops grow - via abundance of water.
St. John the Baptist's Day
June 24, the Solemnity of the Birth of John the Baptist, has been referred to as the "Summer Christmas." This has been a day of great feasting, and here are some British customs, with suggestions on how to incorporate these in your home.
Directions
When Zachary sang his canticle in praise of his son John he said that many would rejoice in his birth, and that John would "enlighten them that sit in darkness." The Baptist's day, midsummer day, was a general holiday, when everyone did indeed rejoice, a day full of games and sports and dancing. On the eve of the feast everyone's door "decorated with birch leaves, St. John's wort and white lilies and such-like, garnished upon with garlands of beautiful flowers, had also lamps of glass, with oil burning in them all the night. . . . Some hung out branches of iron, curiously wrought, containing hundreds of lamps lighted at once." On the day itself, no sooner had the sun sunk than fires were lighted all over the hillsides, fires long known in the west country as blessing fires. To celebrate the Baptist with lights and flames was fitting enough, since it was John whom Christ himself described as "a burning and a shining light" in which the people were to rejoice. These bonfires, often of immense height, were blessed by the priest, and often it was he who set light to them. While the fires blazed people danced and made joyful processions, holding burning torches in their hands; they sang together and played games by the light of the fire.
St. John's day might be the signal for a festive outdoor evening in a family or club. A bonfire can be lighted, there can be games and sports, while someone can tell briefly the story of the origin of St. John's fires.
The coming of the Baptist had been the sign that the Old Law was done away with. This abolition was symbolized, certainly somewhat crudely, by burning on the bonfires all rubbish and all unnecessary, useless and unwanted things in the house. For the many people who are terrified to dispose of anything in case they should ever need it in the future this would be an excellent custom to revive! In any case, in all homes rubbish of one sort or another accumulates, so why should we not dispose of it on a definite day, and in a ceremonial manner? (http://www.catholicculture.org/culture/liturgicalyear/activities/view.cfm?id=501)
 
LUGHNASADH (FESTIVAL OF FIRST FRUITS) - 31st JULY

Named after the Celtic god ‘Lugh.’ A corn festival later to be Christianised as Lammas/Loafmas (Harvest Festival). The rich bounty of nature’s harvest now heralds the sun’s slow descent back to winter’s chill.
 
History of Harvest Festival
Harvest Festival used to be celebrated at the beginning of the Harvest season on 1 August and was called Lammas, meaning 'loaf Mass'. Farmers made loaves of bread from the new wheat crop and gave them to their local church. They were then used as the Communion bread during a special mass thanking God for the harvest. The custom ended when Henry VIII broke away from the Catholic Church, and nowadays we have harvest festivals at the end of the season.
At the start of the harvest, communities would appoint a strong and respected man of the village as their 'Lord of the Harvest'. He would be responsible for negotiating the harvest wages and organising the fieldworkers.
The end of the harvest was celebrated with a big meal called a Harvest Supper, eaten on Michaelmas Day. The 'Lord of the Harvest' sat at the head of the table. A goose stuffed with apples was eaten along with a variety of vegetables. Goose Fairs were and still are held in English towns at this time of year.
The tradition of celebrating Harvest Festival in churches as we know it today began in 1843, when the Reverend Robert Hawker invited parishioners to a special thanksgiving service for the harvest at his church at Morwenstow in Cornwall. Victorian hymns such as "We plough the fields and scatter", "Come ye thankful people, come" and "All things bright and beautiful" helped popularise his idea of harvest festival and spread the annual custom of decorating churches with home-grown produce for the Harvest Festival service. 
 
AUTUMN EQUINOX -21st SEPTEMBER

As with the spring equinox, light and darkness are once more in harmony yet now darkness takes the leading role. The first leaves now start to fall as nature begins to close her doors to the darker months to come. Now is the time to harvest for the winter.

Mabon, (pronounced MAY-bun, MAY-bone, MAH-boon, or MAH-bawn) is the Autumn Equinox. The Autumn Equinox divides the day and night equally, and we all take a moment to pay our respects to the impending dark. We also give thanks to the waning sunlight, as we store our harvest of this year's crops. The Druids call this celebration, Mea'n Fo'mhair, and honour the The Green Man, the God of the Forest, by offering libations to trees. Offerings of ciders, wines, herbs and fertilizer are appropriate at this time. Wiccans celebrate the aging Goddess as she passes from Mother to Crone, and her consort the God as he prepares for death and re-birth.

Various other names for this Lesser Wiccan Sabbat are The Second Harvest Festival, Wine Harvest, Feast of Avalon, Equinozio di Autunno (Strega), Alben Elfed (Caledonii), or Cornucopia. The Teutonic name, Winter Finding, spans a period of time from the Sabbat to Oct. 15th, Winter's Night, which is the Norse New Year.

At this festival it is appropriate to wear all of your finery and dine and celebrate in a lavish setting. It is the drawing to and of family as we prepare for the winding down of the year at Samhain. It is a time to finish old business as we ready for a period of rest, relaxation, and reflection.

SAMHAIN (HALLOWEEN) 31st OCTOBER

The start of the Celtic winter season. A special time of magic and divination when the thin veil betwixt the living and death is at it’s thinnest.

YULE - 22nd DECEMBER

The ‘Midwinter Solstice’ is the time when the sun is at its lowest point in the sky. From now on the days can only get lighter. Most modern day Christmas customs and traditions are based on the older Roman Pagan feast of the Saturnalia (in honour of the god Saturn). Northern cultures have also had a strong bearing on the traditions associated with this icy time of year. The word "Yule" is believed to come from the Nordic word for ‘Wheel’ which is ‘Iul’. Yuletide brings us to a fitting end for this seasonal cycle.
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It is interesting to note how Christianity has adopted most of these pagan celebrations into church tradition. Most will say "this is not how we see it" - Christmas, Easter etc. This is probably true, but how we see things is not what matters - what matters is how our Creator YHWH Elohim sees them, and His Word is full of warnings with regards to adopting pagan ways. YHWH has told us that our ways are not His ways and His thoughts not our thoughts Isaiah 55:8.
We should recognise and avoid pagan practices and remove all trace of them from our lives.
 
 
Scripture portions taken from ‘The Scriptures’, Copyright by Institute for Scripture Research. Used by permission".
PREFACE to ‘The Scriptures’