Joseph Herrin (12-28-2010)
There is a growing segment among Christianity who are joining the Hebrew roots movement. I believe a lot of what drives people in this direction is a reaction to the growing apostasy (departure from truth) that is observed among many of the main street churches. Some, desiring to walk in truth, have been appalled at the focus on the love of mammon in the prosperity preaching churches, and the evident influence of unclean spirits in the churches focused upon prophetic gifts and anointing manifested in such extremes as the Todd Bentley “revivals.” These have sought something authentic, yearning for a return to New Testament Christianity and the doctrine of Christ and His apostles.
What is not understood by many is that neither Christ not His disciples tried to convert Greeks to Judaism. Even though the original apostles and first assembly of “The Way” that met in Jerusalem consisted of Jewish men and women who had become disciples of Yahshua, these same ones did not attempt to bring Gentile believers under submission to the Law of Moses. Rather, they spoke such judgments as the following:
“The apostles and the brethren who are elders, to the brethren in Antioch and Syria and Cilicia who are from the Gentiles, greetings.
“Since we have heard that some of our number to whom we gave no instruction have disturbed you with their words, unsettling your souls, it seemed good to us, having become of one mind, to select men to send to you with our beloved Barnabas and Paul… For it seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us to lay upon you no greater burden than these essentials: that you abstain from things sacrificed to idols and from blood and from things strangled and from fornication; if you keep yourselves free from such things, you will do well. Farewell.”
After much debate regarding whether the Gentile Christians should be instructed to observe the Law of Moses, the conclusion of these Jewish believers in the Messiah was a resounding “No!” Peter, in debating the issue, proclaimed the following:
And after there had been much debate, Peter stood up and said to them, “Brethren, you know that in the early days God made a choice among you, that by my mouth the Gentiles should hear the word of the gospel and believe. And God, who knows the heart, bore witness to them, giving them the Holy Spirit, just as He also did to us; and He made no distinction between us and them, cleansing their hearts by faith. Now therefore why do you put God to the test by placing upon the neck of the disciples a yoke which neither our fathers nor we have been able to bear? But we believe that we are saved through the grace of the Lord Yahshua, in the same way as they also are.”
There was no admonition by the apostles to the Gentile converts to observe the Law of Moses. Feast days, sabbaths, new moons, instructions about washings, the division of animals into clean and unclean foods, none of these things were brought into the churches as requirements for salvation and to be judged as righteous before Yahweh. The apostles were very plain regarding these things.
Therefore let no one act as your judge in regard to food or drink or in respect to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath day – things which are a shadow of what is to come; but the substance belongs to Christ.
It is well to know the Old Testament, and to study it with great devotion. There are a great many revelations to be gleaned in doing so. The types and shadows of the Old Testament provide understanding of the anti-types and substance of the New Testament. However, to become knowledgeable in the Old Testament one does not need to convert to Judaism, nor to add it to one’s faith in Messiah. Indeed, it is not desirable for the Christian to subject themselves to the yoke of the Law. We have been called to freedom.
What does this mean practically. The Law was focused upon “thou shalt nots.” There were regulations and prohibitions regarding a great many things. This gave rise to a vast legal system and code. The Talmud is an immense collection of rabbinical writings giving opinions on every facet of the Law. Christ was frequently engaged by lawyers, for they were common among the religious Jews. We, however, are called to be led of the Spirit, not constrained by a body of legally written code.
It is He Who has qualified us [making us to be fit and worthy and sufficient] as ministers and dispensers of a new covenant of salvation through Christ, not ministers of the letter (of legally written code) but of the Spirit; for the code of the Law kills, but the Holy Spirit makes alive.
It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery. Behold I, Paul, say to you that if you receive circumcision (a testimony of embracing the Law), Christ will be of no benefit to you.
Many sincere Christians today are desiring to return to something authentic in their faith. What they have not understood is that the apostles of the early church did not advocate that Gentile believers embrace Judaism. Many have committed the error of embracing teachings that declare that Christians must adhere to the Law of Moses. They have not discerned that the Law was given for a period of time to lead mankind to Christ. The Law was a schoolmaster, revealing to man their lack of spiritual life. The Law tutored mankind in the truth that no matter how hard they might try to attain to the righteousness of Yahweh, they lacked the divine life necessary to do so. In a nutshell, the Law was intended to show men that they needed to be born of the Spirit, they needed the life of Christ within.
Some have assumed that Christ sent forth His Spirit so men might now keep the Law. This is a great misconception, and actually leads men and women away from the will of God. Submitting themselves to be led of a code of laws, men and women fail to be led of the Spirit. The Law to them becomes a substitute for the Spirit of Christ. This is why Paul writes emphatically:
You have been severed from Christ, you who are seeking to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace.
The Spirit has been given to the Christian to disclose to them the will of the Father. Submission to the Spirit is far more encompassing that the Law, even with all the vast additions of the Talmud. The Spirit of Christ will lead the saint precisely, specifically, disclosing to them the thoughts of the Father in every matter, and at every decision.
I Corinthians 2:12
Now we have received… the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things freely given to us by God.
For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, “Abba! Father!”
The Law makes slaves of men, but the Spirit makes sons. Paul makes this very plain.
Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage. Indeed I, Paul, say to you that if you become circumcised, Christ will profit you nothing. And I testify again to every man who becomes circumcised that he is a debtor to keep the whole law.
Paul states as clearly and forcefully as language permits, that the law is a yoke of bondage, but Christ has called us to freedom. How was mankind freed from the Law? In Christ, the believer died to the Law, being freed from that which formerly bound them.
Or do you not know, brethren (for I am speaking to those who know the law), that the law has jurisdiction over a person as long as he lives? For the married woman is bound by law to her husband while he is living; but if her husband dies, she is released from the law concerning the husband. So then if, while her husband is living, she is joined to another man, she shall be called an adulteress; but if her husband dies, she is free from the law, so that she is not an adulteress, though she is joined to another man. Therefore, my brethren, you also were made to die to the Law through the body of Christ, that you might be joined to another, to Him who was raised from the dead, that we might bear fruit for God.
People of God, I share this with you that you might see the error of those who have sincerely confused a turning to Judaism and Hebraic roots as a return authentic New Testament Christianity. Some have mistakenly concluded that the more Jewish they become, the more pleasing they must be to Christ. They are therefore embracing Torah portions, Sabbath observances, feast days, kosher (Kashrut) food regulations, and even taking to themselves Hebrew names.
Seeing that the apostles never advised the Gentile believers to embrace these things, how much more is it unnecessary to adopt Jewish holidays such as Hanukkah that were devised by Jewish men? Yahweh delivered to Moses three main feast days that break down into seven distinct events. Man has added to this. History reveals that when man adds to that which Yahweh has established, he always gets into error.
This adding to the things of God is also observed in the Hanukkah Menorah. Yahweh delivered to Moses the design for the seven branched candlestick to be placed in the Tabernacle in the wilderness. At Hanukkah a nine branched candlestick is featured (this breaks down to 8 plus 1 branches). Once more man is adding to the perfect design of God and arriving at something very different.
Christians embracing Hanukkah to arrive at a more authentic Christianity is an act predicated upon error. Neither Christ nor His disciples ever advocated that the believers observe Hanukkah. It has but one mention in the entire Bible, and is mentioned only in passing to give context to an event in the life of Christ.
At that time the Feast of the Dedication (Hanukkah) took place at Jerusalem; it was winter, and Yahshua was walking in the temple in the portico of Solomon.
There are abundant writings present on the Internet declaring from this Scripture that Yahshua celebrated Hanukkah. This is a manifestation of failing to “rightly divide the word of God.” It is nowhere indicated that Yahshua celebrated Hanukkah in any way? Did He and His disciples light the nine branched menorah? Did they give gifts to one another at this time? Did they set at the table and spin the dreidel together?
Yahshua frequently walked in the temple and in Solomon’s porch. There is absolutely nothing written here to represent an endorsement by Christ of this man-made feast. John mentions the Feast in passing, possibly to indicate that, even though it was winter, there were many Jews in Jerusalem at that time.
Christ spoke no words regarding the Feast. There is no mention of participation in it. Why then do so many Christians latch onto this single mention as if it were a command from the Father, and an endorsement from on high, that believers today celebrate Hanukkah?
I would urge the saints to consider the following. The Hanukkah celebration finds its written authority in the two extra-Biblical books of first and second Maccabees. These books were not inspired of the Holy Spirit. They were not written by the apostles. These books were authored during a long season when Yahweh was not speaking to His people through prophets. For 400 years, up until the birth of Christ, God had given no new word to His people. These were the silent years, and in the silence man filled in the void with his own inventions.
Consider also that the condition of Judaism at this time was apostate. This dark period set the stage for the appearance of the Messiah, the light of the world. Yet the darkness over the people was so profound that they rejected the prophesied Messiah, crucifying Him between two thieves. It was the Jewish rulers and religious crowd, the same ones who devised Hanukkah, that rejected the Son of God and crucified the Lord of glory.
Why then would the Christian today want to embrace a man-made holiday established by the leaders of apostate Judaism? Some would perhaps argue that a true miracle occurred as the Maccabees cast off the defilement of Antiochus IV who defiled the Temple. They might suggest that the candlestick in the Temple burned miraculously for eight days on a single cruse of olive oil, and this miracle of Yahweh indicates His hand in this revolt and in the re-dedication of the Temple.
The story of the miracle of the oil is a fable, a fabrication of man that is absent from all reliable accounts of the Maccabean revolt. The entire story of the miracle of the oil is based upon a single mention of the event in the Talmud, written centuries after the fact. It is not recorded in the books of the Maccabees, nor in the writings of Josephus who wrote a very detailed history of the Jewish revolt of this period.
So, not only do we have a man-made festival devised during a period of great spiritual darkness among the Jews, its central symbol (the nine branched menorah) is a corruption of Yahweh’s design, and the entire justification for its creation and the practice of candle lighting is based upon a false story that never happened.
Christians, seeking an alternative to the clearly pagan elements of Christmas, are embracing a Jewish festival that is no better. Indeed, there is much evidence that Hanukkah is merely the Jewish version of the ever present practice of sun worship imported from ancient Babylon.
The original name for the Hanukkah celebration was the Festival of Lights, or merely Lights. It is celebrated in winter at the time of the Winter solstice. The original event upon which the date was established was Antiochus’s sacrifice to Zeus. The Jews rededicated the newly built altar exactly three years after Antiochus defiled the previous one, on the very date of the celebration to Zeus, coinciding with the winter solstice. The Hanukkah celebration has many of the same elements as the pagan festivals, including Christmas. The timing is the same. There is feasting. The houses are lighted. Gifts are exchanged. And if one has eyes to see it, a lighted tree is the centerpiece.
The Hanukkah menorah is a variation of the Christmas tree. It is described as having branches. It typically has one central branch higher than the others that remains lit, and is used to light the eight branches to the sides. This is a perfect parallel to the practices of Sun worship and the veneration of Lucifer as the Light Bearer who brings light to mankind.
In the recent blog titled “A Rockefeller Christmas” I wrote of the link between Prometheus and Satan and the Christmas Tree.
The Hanukkah menorah features a central “servant candle” that is used to light the other candles, one additional candle each day for eight days. Satan portrays himself as a servant to mankind, seeking their benefit and welfare. He would describe his act in the garden of Eden as a charitable act of bringing light and knowledge to mankind. His self-portrayal is as one who enlightens mankind even as the central and elevated candle on the Hanukkah menorah is used to light the branches around it.
Is it not likely that the Jewish people, who have frequently embraced the worship of false deities, of the sun and moon and stars, during this period of darkness in their history revived some of the Babylonian practices they were familiar with, dressing them in the garb of reverence for Yahweh in the same way that Christians have dressed the pagan sun celebration in the garb of reverence for the birth of Yahshua?
I do not have the historical evidence before me to establish such a link in a concrete manner, but the circumstantial evidence is abundant. To have a festival established on the date of the winter solstice that uses ever increasing lights as its main features, is highly suspect. Those sun worshipers who celebrated on this date from antiquity did so as the Sun was gaining ascendancy by remaining in the sky a little longer each day. This pattern is repeated as one additional candle on the Hanukkah menorah is lit each day until all of them are lit.
Such a practice is a departure from even the dubious historical account of the miracle of the menorah in the Temple. In that false story, the entire candlestick was lit for the entire time, but in the tradition of Hanukkah one begins with a single lit candle and adds an additional one daily, following the example of the Sun which is shining a little more strongly in the heavens each day.
I must encourage the saint who desires to walk in truth to investigate this matter further on their own. What is evident is that the Gentile converts to Christianity were never exhorted by the apostles to embrace Jewish Law or traditions. They were called to be people led of the Spirit of Christ who indwells them.
Much deception abounds in this hour, and all things should be examined carefully.
“At that time,” declares Yahweh, “they will bring out the bones of the kings of Judah, and the bones of its princes, and the bones of the priests, and the bones of the prophets, and the bones of the inhabitants of Jerusalem from their graves. And they will spread them out to the sun, the moon, and to all the host of heaven, which they have loved, and which they have served, and which they have gone after, and which they have sought, and which they have worshiped. They will not be gathered or buried; they will be as dung on the face of the ground.”
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