Category Archives: His Ways Are Not Our Ways

Opening the First Six Seals of the Scroll in Revelation

Chapter six in Revelation records what was contained as YHWH revealed to John the first six seals of the scroll. There were seven seals in all. Each one was opened according to YHWH’s timing. Sometimes we must wait to see in His timing what will come next rather than our typical desire to know all that will come, to know how something will end before we start. YHWH does not always let us know the ending before asking us to begin. There are countless examples in scripture including Moses, Gideon, Abraham, and many more.

There is much symbolism to be studied here for each of the elements. Consider taking time to read the commentaries or other study material. They may not all be correct, but they provide some thoughtful insight. Ultimately we must test the Bible against itself. For example, some have concluded that the rider on the white horse is a false messiah, imitating the return of Yeshua before He actually comes. This would not be a surprise, as we have to deal with false prophets and teachers throughout time in every generation… always coming in the guise of an “angel of light”, representing YHWH’s word all the while distorting it.

Those of us who face these times when they come will need courage and strong faith, and we will need to really seek the LORD to help us. We will not be fully protected through these times as you see the section on martyrs mentions more are being added still at this time.

Let us seek to praise and glorify Him no matter what. Yeshua mentions sticking close to YHWH and His ways several times in His message to the seven churches in Asia earlier in Revelation. It is important we do this in adversity.

Revelation 6

The First Seal—Rider on White Horse

      1Then I saw when the Lamb broke one of the seven seals, and I heard one of the four living creatures saying as with a voice of thunder, “Come.” 2I looked, and behold, a white horse, and he who sat on it had a bow; and a crown was given to him, and he went out conquering and to conquer.

The Second Seal—War

      3When He broke the second seal, I heard the second living creature saying, “Come.” 4And another, a red horse, went out; and to him who sat on it, it was granted to take peace from the earth, and that men would slay one another; and a great sword was given to him.

The Third Seal—Famine

      5When He broke the third seal, I heard the third living creature saying, “Come.” I looked, and behold, a black horse; and he who sat on it had a pair of scales in his hand. 6And I heard something like a voice in the center of the four living creatures saying, “A quart of wheat for a denarius, and three quarts of barley for a denarius; and do not damage the oil and the wine.”

The Fourth Seal—Death

      7When the Lamb broke the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth living creature saying, “Come.” 8I looked, and behold, an ashen horse; and he who sat on it had the name Death; and Hades was following with him. Authority was given to them over a fourth of the earth, to kill with sword and with famine and with pestilence and by the wild beasts of the earth.

The Fifth Seal—Martyrs

      9When the Lamb broke the fifth seal, I saw underneath the altar the souls of those who had been slain because of the word of God, and because of the testimony which they had maintained; 10and they cried out with a loud voice, saying, “How long, O Lord, holy and true, will You refrain from judging and avenging our blood on those who dwell on the earth?” 11And there was given to each of them a white robe; and they were told that they should rest for a little while longer, until the number of their fellow servants and their brethren who were to be killed even as they had been, would be completed also.

The Sixth Seal—Terror

      12I looked when He broke the sixth seal, and there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth made of hair, and the whole moon became like blood; 13and the stars of the sky fell to the earth, as a fig tree casts its unripe figs when shaken by a great wind. 14The sky was split apart like a scroll when it is rolled up, and every mountain and island were moved out of their places. 15Then the kings of the earth and the great men and the commanders and the rich and the strong and every slave and free man hid themselves in the caves and among the rocks of the mountains; 16and they said to the mountains and to the rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the presence of Him who sits on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb; 17for the great day of their wrath has come, and who is able to stand?”

—-

Do you know for sure if you will go to heaven or hell when you die? Are you experiencing in your life the peace and joy of a personal relationship with our Creator and Father? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.

Blessings, Honor, Glory, and Dominion Forever – YHWH and Yeshua Rather than Man

I will honestly say I do not take time to just stop and praise YHWH and Yeshua often enough. I mean for who they are and what they have already done, not just when they give me a personal victory. Our God is amazing. He is creator of all. He rules over all. He became man and died for us. Who are we that He should be concerned with each of us!?

Blessings, honor, glory and dominion for YHWH and Yeshua indeed. Let us not seek the glorification of man or his creation in His place.

Revelation 5:11-14

Angels Exalt the Lamb

      11Then I looked, and I heard the voice of many angels around the throne and the living creatures and the elders; and the number of them was myriads of myriads, and thousands of thousands, 12saying with a loud voice,

“Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power and riches and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing.”
13And every created thing which is in heaven and on the earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all things in them, I heard saying, “To Him who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb, be blessing and honor and glory and dominion forever and ever.”

14And the four living creatures kept saying, “Amen.” And the elders fell down and worshiped.

—-

Do you know for sure if you will go to heaven or hell when you die? Are you experiencing in your life the peace and joy of a personal relationship with our Creator and Father? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.

The LORD Tormented Saul and the LORD Protected David

When YHWH chooses to protect you, not even a king, with all his resources, can have victory over you. The LORD used Saul’s own son and daughter to help protect David. Then directly intervened to cause others to be drawn away from David by being filled with the Spirit and prophesying… including Saul himself. Truly David had the hand of YHWH upon him.

We also see an example of what it means to have a friend that is closer than a brother, as Jonathan stands up for David. These are the friends to truly value. And we can once again see that the evil spirit from the LORD is what drove Saul to try to kill David. This continues to intrigue me. There is likely a deeper understanding to be had, but clearly the LORD had plans for using Saul to pursue David… but then also to protect David. Perhaps this was part of preparing David to be a good king or helping him to rely more heavily on YHWH. Sometimes the fullness of YHWH’s plans are not to be understood by His people, but simply trusted.

1 Samuel 19

David Protected from Saul

      1Now Saul told Jonathan his son and all his servants to put David to death. But Jonathan, Saul’s son, greatly delighted in David. 2So Jonathan told David saying, “Saul my father is seeking to put you to death. Now therefore, please be on guard in the morning, and stay in a secret place and hide yourself. 3“I will go out and stand beside my father in the field where you are, and I will speak with my father about you; if I find out anything, then I will tell you.” 4Then Jonathan spoke well of David to Saul his father and said to him, “Do not let the king sin against his servant David, since he has not sinned against you, and since his deeds have been very beneficial to you. 5“For he took his life in his hand and struck the Philistine, and the LORD brought about a great deliverance for all Israel; you saw it and rejoiced. Why then will you sin against innocent blood by putting David to death without a cause?” 6Saul listened to the voice of Jonathan, and Saul vowed, “As the LORD lives, he shall not be put to death.” 7Then Jonathan called David, and Jonathan told him all these words. And Jonathan brought David to Saul, and he was in his presence as formerly.

      8When there was war again, David went out and fought with the Philistines and defeated them with great slaughter, so that they fled before him. 9Now there was an evil spirit from the LORD on Saul as he was sitting in his house with his spear in his hand, and David was playing the harp with his hand. 10Saul tried to pin David to the wall with the spear, but he slipped away out of Saul’s presence, so that he stuck the spear into the wall. And David fled and escaped that night.

      11Then Saul sent messengers to David’s house to watch him, in order to put him to death in the morning. But Michal, David’s wife, told him, saying, “If you do not save your life tonight, tomorrow you will be put to death.” 12So Michal let David down through a window, and he went out and fled and escaped. 13Michal took the household idol and laid it on the bed, and put a quilt of goats’ hair at its head, and covered it with clothes. 14When Saul sent messengers to take David, she said, “He is sick.” 15Then Saul sent messengers to see David, saying, “Bring him up to me on his bed, that I may put him to death.” 16When the messengers entered, behold, the household idol was on the bed with the quilt of goats’ hair at its head. 17So Saul said to Michal, “Why have you deceived me like this and let my enemy go, so that he has escaped?” And Michal said to Saul, “He said to me, ‘Let me go! Why should I put you to death?’”

      18Now David fled and escaped and came to Samuel at Ramah, and told him all that Saul had done to him. And he and Samuel went and stayed in Naioth. 19It was told Saul, saying, “Behold, David is at Naioth in Ramah.” 20Then Saul sent messengers to take David, but when they saw the company of the prophets prophesying, with Samuel standing and presiding over them, the Spirit of God came upon the messengers of Saul; and they also prophesied. 21When it was told Saul, he sent other messengers, and they also prophesied. So Saul sent messengers again the third time, and they also prophesied. 22Then he himself went to Ramah and came as far as the large well that is in Secu; and he asked and said, “Where are Samuel and David?” And someone said, “Behold, they are at Naioth in Ramah.” 23He proceeded there to Naioth in Ramah; and the Spirit of God came upon him also, so that he went along prophesying continually until he came to Naioth in Ramah. 24He also stripped off his clothes, and he too prophesied before Samuel and lay down naked all that day and all that night. Therefore they say, “Is Saul also among the prophets?”

—-

Do you know for sure if you will go to heaven or hell when you die? Are you experiencing in your life the peace and joy of a personal relationship with our Creator and Father? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.

Father Knows Best and He Will Deliver on His Plans

Our Father has His own plans and His own ways of bringing them about. He is far wiser than we are and we often may not fully understand the events taking place and their significance until later, if ever. The Spirit of YHWH came upon David, “mightily”, and departed from Saul. Then, almost as if to allow David to get familiar with the life and ways of a king, YHWH arranges for Him to come into the court of King Saul. What are the odds that shepherd boy would come to Saul’s court if not for the LORD arranging it? None. Likely this helps prepare young David for becoming king in the future by broadening him beyond shepherd life.

Do not miss also that we now see Saul experience the results of his disobedience to YHWH. He said he was sorry, but there are still consequences when we knowingly rebel against our Father, especially when the guidance was very clear and He knows we understood it. Saul even made excuses and tried to say he was doing it for YHWH, rather than genuinely admitting he had sinned.

1 Samuel 16:12-23

David Anointed

     12So he sent and brought him in. Now he was ruddy, with beautiful eyes and a handsome appearance. And the LORD said, “Arise, anoint him; for this is he.” 13Then Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the midst of his brothers; and the Spirit of the LORD came mightily upon David from that day forward. And Samuel arose and went to Ramah.

      14Now the Spirit of the LORD departed from Saul, and an evil spirit from the LORD terrorized him. 15Saul’s servants then said to him, “Behold now, an evil spirit from God is terrorizing you. 16“Let our lord now command your servants who are before you. Let them seek a man who is a skillful player on the harp; and it shall come about when the evil spirit from God is on you, that he shall play the harp with his hand, and you will be well.” 17So Saul said to his servants, “Provide for me now a man who can play well and bring him to me.” 18Then one of the young men said, “Behold, I have seen a son of Jesse the Bethlehemite who is a skillful musician, a mighty man of valor, a warrior, one prudent in speech, and a handsome man; and the LORD is with him.” 19So Saul sent messengers to Jesse and said, “Send me your son David who is with the flock.” 20Jesse took a donkey loaded with bread and a jug of wine and a young goat, and sent them to Saul by David his son. 21Then David came to Saul and attended him; and Saul loved him greatly, and he became his armor bearer. 22Saul sent to Jesse, saying, “Let David now stand before me, for he has found favor in my sight.” 23So it came about whenever the evil spirit from God came to Saul, David would take the harp and play it with his hand; and Saul would be refreshed and be well, and the evil spirit would depart from him.

What may be the most perplexing is that the scripture translation seems to state that “an evil spirit from the LORD terrorized him”. This is the only reference in scripture to an evil spirit from the LORD that I can remember. I am curious to study the translation and see if there are clues there. Did YHWH really put an evil spirit upon Saul? Whether He caused it or allowed it, and the translation clearly indicates He caused it, YHWH used it for His own purpose to bring in David to the court. I can’t help but think there is more to be studied and understood here.

We should trust in our Father. Often events we don’t understand may be orchestrated by Him to accomplish His plans. If we are faithful and submitted to Him, it will be for our good in that we serve His purposes. Let us seek to find joy even when we don’t understand the LORD’s plans.

Let us repent genuinely and quickly if we drift or rebel.

—-

Do you know for sure if you will go to heaven or hell when you die? Are you experiencing in your life the peace and joy of a personal relationship with our Creator and Father? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.

Beware of Those Who Have Crept In And Defile God’s People

Jude is writing to “those who are the called, beloved in God the Father, kept for Jesus Christ”. He is not writing to unbelievers or those who deny Christ. He is providing a strong warning that the ungodly have crept in among them, unnoticed. These people turn the grace of God into licentiousness. Jude clearly seems to be referring to those who suggest that we should do whatever we want to and trust the grace of God to cover our sins. People like these push us not to follow God’s law, but rather consider it obsolete and unnecessary, or at least large parts of it. They turn grace into an incentive to sin. These people are still very well embedded into the church as we know it today. It will often sound very nice, but it is wrong teaching… such as “God loves you the way you are”, implying He does not expect us or call us to change and turn away from our ways and follow Him. Sometimes, perhaps often, we are doing poorly and we do actually need to change to pursue Him more closely in how we live our lives.

Jude 1:1-16

The Warnings of History to the Ungodly

      1Jude, a bond-servant of Jesus Christ, and brother of James,
To those who are the called, beloved in God the Father, and kept for Jesus Christ: 2May mercy and peace and love be multiplied to you.

      3Beloved, while I was making every effort to write you about our common salvation, I felt the necessity to write to you appealing that you contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all handed down to the saints. 4For certain persons have crept in unnoticed, those who were long beforehand marked out for this condemnation, ungodly persons who turn the grace of our God into licentiousness and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.

      5Now I desire to remind you, though you know all things once for all, that the Lord, after saving a people out of the land of Egypt, subsequently destroyed those who did not believe. 6And angels who did not keep their own domain, but abandoned their proper abode, He has kept in eternal bonds under darkness for the judgment of the great day, 7just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the cities around them, since they in the same way as these indulged in gross immorality and went after strange flesh, are exhibited as an example in undergoing the punishment of eternal fire.

      8Yet in the same way these men, also by dreaming, defile the flesh, and reject authority, and revile angelic majesties. 9But Michael the archangel, when he disputed with the devil and argued about the body of Moses, did not dare pronounce against him a railing judgment, but said, “The Lord rebuke you!” 10But these men revile the things which they do not understand; and the things which they know by instinct, like unreasoning animals, by these things they are destroyed. 11Woe to them! For they have gone the way of Cain, and for pay they have rushed headlong into the error of Balaam, and perished in the rebellion of Korah. 12These are the men who are hidden reefs in your love feasts when they feast with you without fear, caring for themselves; clouds without water, carried along by winds; autumn trees without fruit, doubly dead, uprooted; 13wild waves of the sea, casting up their own shame like foam; wandering stars, for whom the black darkness has been reserved forever.

      14It was also about these men that Enoch, in the seventh generation from Adam, prophesied, saying, “Behold, the Lord came with many thousands of His holy ones, 15to execute judgment upon all, and to convict all the ungodly of all their ungodly deeds which they have done in an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things which ungodly sinners have spoken against Him.” 16These are grumblers, finding fault, following after their own lusts; they speak arrogantly, flattering people for the sake of gaining an advantage.

Let us ask YHWH to guide us and give us discernment. Let us seek to dig through the Bible as if looking for buried treasure. Let us test everything against the written word and not just accept what is taught, even from pastors. Many have crept in which are corrupting the true word of YHWH.

—-

Do you know for sure if you will go to heaven or hell when you die? Are you experiencing in your life the peace and joy of a personal relationship with our Creator and Father? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.

Sometimes Scripture Brings Questions

Although I turn to scripture for answers and guidance, sometimes I am left with questions not answered. It is an invitation to trust the LORD even when we don’t understand and an invitation to study His word more and prayerfully ask for insight. This should not be an excuse to not trust in YHWH or the Bible.

Jonathan went to battle with the Philistines without YHWH telling him to do so and against tall odds. He had faith in YHWH to deliver victory, but at the same time we are told elsewhere in scripture not to put the LORD to the test, by Yeshua himself (Deuteronomy 6:16 and Luke 4:12). This leaves me with some unanswered questions for how what Jonathan did was not putting YHWH to the test. Jonathan’s faith, however, was real. Think about how much defeat they had suffered at the hands of the Philistines that Jonathan felt confident trusting in the LORD to attack a large group without much support.

I am also a bit confused in that they bring forward the ark without specific guidance from the LORD. I compare this to a bit earlier in 1 Samuel 4 when the Israelites brought the ark into battle and the Philistines captured it. I am left a bit confused about what was different. It may have simply been that YHWH wanted to show the Philistines His power in the events starting in 1 Samuel 4 and recorded over the following chapters. It may also be that he wanted to enact judgment on Eli’s sons. But I admit that I would be a bit hesitant to call the ark to the battlefront again without hearing from the LORD. Yet here it seems to work.

My lack of understanding does not mean that YHWH did not have His reasons or that He is not there. It simply means I do not understand and am invited to pray and read more and trust in Him.

1 Samuel 14:1-23

Jonathan’s Victory

      1Now the day came that Jonathan, the son of Saul, said to the young man who was carrying his armor, “Come and let us cross over to the Philistines’ garrison that is on the other side.” But he did not tell his father. 2Saul was staying in the outskirts of Gibeah under the pomegranate tree which is in Migron. And the people who were with him were about six hundred men, 3and Ahijah, the son of Ahitub, Ichabod’s brother, the son of Phinehas, the son of Eli, the priest of the LORD at Shiloh, was wearing an ephod. And the people did not know that Jonathan had gone. 4Between the passes by which Jonathan sought to cross over to the Philistines’ garrison, there was a sharp crag on the one side and a sharp crag on the other side, and the name of the one was Bozez, and the name of the other Seneh. 5The one crag rose on the north opposite Michmash, and the other on the south opposite Geba.

      6Then Jonathan said to the young man who was carrying his armor, “Come and let us cross over to the garrison of these uncircumcised; perhaps the LORD will work for us, for the LORD is not restrained to save by many or by few.” 7His armor bearer said to him, “Do all that is in your heart; turn yourself, and here I am with you according to your desire.” 8Then Jonathan said, “Behold, we will cross over to the men and reveal ourselves to them. 9“If they say to us, ‘Wait until we come to you’; then we will stand in our place and not go up to them. 10“But if they say, ‘Come up to us,’ then we will go up, for the LORD has given them into our hands; and this shall be the sign to us.” 11When both of them revealed themselves to the garrison of the Philistines, the Philistines said, “Behold, Hebrews are coming out of the holes where they have hidden themselves.” 12So the men of the garrison hailed Jonathan and his armor bearer and said, “Come up to us and we will tell you something.” And Jonathan said to his armor bearer, “Come up after me, for the LORD has given them into the hands of Israel.” 13Then Jonathan climbed up on his hands and feet, with his armor bearer behind him; and they fell before Jonathan, and his armor bearer put some to death after him. 14That first slaughter which Jonathan and his armor bearer made was about twenty men within about half a furrow in an acre of land. 15And there was a trembling in the camp, in the field, and among all the people. Even the garrison and the raiders trembled, and the earth quaked so that it became a great trembling.

      16Now Saul’s watchmen in Gibeah of Benjamin looked, and behold, the multitude melted away; and they went here and there. 17Saul said to the people who were with him, “Number now and see who has gone from us.” And when they had numbered, behold, Jonathan and his armor bearer were not there. 18Then Saul said to Ahijah, “Bring the ark of God here.” For the ark of God was at that time with the sons of Israel. 19While Saul talked to the priest, the commotion in the camp of the Philistines continued and increased; so Saul said to the priest, “Withdraw your hand.” 20Then Saul and all the people who were with him rallied and came to the battle; and behold, every man’s sword was against his fellow, and there was very great confusion. 21Now the Hebrews who were with the Philistines previously, who went up with them all around in the camp, even they also turned to be with the Israelites who were with Saul and Jonathan. 22When all the men of Israel who had hidden themselves in the hill country of Ephraim heard that the Philistines had fled, even they also pursued them closely in the battle. 23So the LORD delivered Israel that day, and the battle spread beyond Beth-aven.

—-

Do you know for sure if you will go to heaven or hell when you die? Are you experiencing in your life the peace and joy of a personal relationship with our Creator and Father? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.

Doing What the LORD Commands You Is A Big Deal

Most of us may be tempted to make excuses for Saul in this situation we will read about. We may be tempted to empathize with him. We may say his disobedience was “understandable”. However, we should check ourselves. The LORD says otherwise, and so rather than focus on thinking “God is harsh”, we should know that “God is just” and we should seek to learn from this episode.

Doing what the LORD commands you to do is a big deal, even if you think it will not work. It is a matter of faith in God vs. yourself. Wait on the LORD, even when you may begin to worry that you need to get involved and do it your own way with intent to accomplish what the LORD has called you into.

Another key concept to pay attention to is that the consequences are declared by the LORD through Samuel long before they are enacted in a tangible way in which Saul can see them. Consequences from our Father are not always immediate.

1 Samuel 13

War with the Philistines

      1Saul was thirty years old when he began to reign, and he reigned forty two years over Israel.

      2Now Saul chose for himself 3,000 men of Israel, of which 2,000 were with Saul in Michmash and in the hill country of Bethel, while 1,000 were with Jonathan at Gibeah of Benjamin. But he sent away the rest of the people, each to his tent. 3Jonathan smote the garrison of the Philistines that was in Geba, and the Philistines heard of it. Then Saul blew the trumpet throughout the land, saying, “Let the Hebrews hear.” 4All Israel heard the news that Saul had smitten the garrison of the Philistines, and also that Israel had become odious to the Philistines. The people were then summoned to Saul at Gilgal.

      5Now the Philistines assembled to fight with Israel, 30,000 chariots and 6,000 horsemen, and people like the sand which is on the seashore in abundance; and they came up and camped in Michmash, east of Beth-aven. 6When the men of Israel saw that they were in a strait (for the people were hard-pressed), then the people hid themselves in caves, in thickets, in cliffs, in cellars, and in pits. 7Also some of the Hebrews crossed the Jordan into the land of Gad and Gilead. But as for Saul, he was still in Gilgal, and all the people followed him trembling.

      8Now he waited seven days, according to the appointed time set by Samuel, but Samuel did not come to Gilgal; and the people were scattering from him. 9So Saul said, “Bring to me the burnt offering and the peace offerings.” And he offered the burnt offering. 10As soon as he finished offering the burnt offering, behold, Samuel came; and Saul went out to meet him and to greet him. 11But Samuel said, “What have you done?” And Saul said, “Because I saw that the people were scattering from me, and that you did not come within the appointed days, and that the Philistines were assembling at Michmash, 12therefore I said, ‘Now the Philistines will come down against me at Gilgal, and I have not asked the favor of the LORD.’ So I forced myself and offered the burnt offering.” 13Samuel said to Saul, “You have acted foolishly; you have not kept the commandment of the LORD your God, which He commanded you, for now the LORD would have established your kingdom over Israel forever. 14“But now your kingdom shall not endure. The LORD has sought out for Himself a man after His own heart, and the LORD has appointed him as ruler over His people, because you have not kept what the LORD commanded you.”

      15Then Samuel arose and went up from Gilgal to Gibeah of Benjamin. And Saul numbered the people who were present with him, about six hundred men. 16Now Saul and his son Jonathan and the people who were present with them were staying in Geba of Benjamin while the Philistines camped at Michmash. 17And the raiders came from the camp of the Philistines in three companies: one company turned toward Ophrah, to the land of Shual, 18and another company turned toward Beth-horon, and another company turned toward the border which overlooks the valley of Zeboim toward the wilderness.

      19Now no blacksmith could be found in all the land of Israel, for the Philistines said, “Otherwise the Hebrews will make swords or spears.” 20So all Israel went down to the Philistines, each to sharpen his plowshare, his mattock, his axe, and his hoe. 21The charge was two-thirds of a shekel for the plowshares, the mattocks, the forks, and the axes, and to fix the hoes. 22So it came about on the day of battle that neither sword nor spear was found in the hands of any of the people who were with Saul and Jonathan, but they were found with Saul and his son Jonathan. 23And the garrison of the Philistines went out to the pass of Michmash.

—-

Do you know for sure if you will go to heaven or hell when you die? Are you experiencing in your life the peace and joy of a personal relationship with our Creator and Father? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.

A Parable About Sharing Christ Through Holiday Traditions

This is a parable about sharing Christ with non Christians through holiday traditions. This is not a biblical parable, but it is similar to historical choices that the church has made regarding holiday traditions.

There were two men, each of whom wanted to share Christ with others. In this situation, they both wanted to reach Buddhists, but they had very different approaches.

The first man decided he would reach them with only the instructions laid out in the Bible. He knew it would be hard. He was dedicated to putting in the hard work to reach and serve them and to bring them only the truth of the God’s word from the Bible. He knew this may not bring the biggest crowds, but he wanted to ensure those who did respond to the message would genuinely be led toward Christ and a fruitful, Biblical relationship with Him. He understood that God must work in someone’s heart and draw them to Him if they are to truly follow Him. Man can not do it alone. He worked tirelessly and met much resistance. He taught them about the appointed times of God in Leviticus 23 and taught them how and when to celebrate what God had instructed rather than what man had made up. Many were very attached to the traditions and customs they grew up with. Many rejected the message of the Bible, but those that did come truly came to know Christ and His teachings. They had to make hard choices and walk away from many traditions that were dear to them. They had to change even things they enjoyed to put Christ first and live His way. For those who judged by counting the number of “converts” or the number of people attending services, this ministry was deemed not very successful. But God saw those who were truly reached for Him and smiled. People had been reached with the truth and come to Him on His terms with repentance, thanksgiving, love and submission in their hearts. Their lives were fully transformed.

The second man observed the limited results of the first man’s efforts. He saw how many of the Buddhists refused to give up their traditions and practices, even if they were willing to listen about Christ. He had a different idea. He was sure he could make it easier for people to come accept Christ if he let them keep many of their traditions and just relabeled them with Christian meaning. He observed the Buddhist traditions and holidays. He compromised purity of the gospel of Christ by blending Biblical teaching with Buddhist teaching. For one example, he embraced Buddha statues. He said they represent God’s provision and abundance rather than Buddha. He understood that God says in the Bible not to worship Him the way that the pagans worship their Gods, but he thought that was too extreme for today’s situation. He could make this a good thing and lead people to Christ by using the pagan traditions. He had many more people show up to his services and accept Christ. For those who counted success by counting the number of people, this ministry seemed much more successful. God, however, was sad. He saw now a group of people who had not repented of their sin. They had not walked away from the things that He said were bad. They had not chosen to put Him first in their lives. They simply added Christ’s name and some of His teaching on top of the traditions and beliefs they previously held. Now they had a blended teaching which kept the people farther from Him, all the while making them comfortable that they had accepted Christ, though they had not changed their lives fully. They gave Christ only part of their attention and obedience. He was not first. Rather family traditions and pagan worship traditions remained first in their hearts. They had “fit God in” around those other things.

Most Christians today would find the approach of the second man unacceptable. They clearly see that Buddhism is separate and can not be blended with Christianity to get a godly result that Christ would be pleased with. If I said I was going to put up Buddha statues instead of a Christmas tree, they would confront me on it as wrong. However, if we study the history of Christmas for such things as evergreen decorations, Christmas trees, holly, yule log, gift exchange, and even the choice of Dec 25 itself we would find that all of these things started as pagan celebrations and traditions as part of their worship. The only difference is that the church accepted blending with these things so long ago that most of us have grown up with them as emotionally charged family traditions. Most of us have grown up with them with Christian labels and symbolism painted on top of pagan practices. Rather than turn away from them to please God, many convince themselves that they can make good what God said was bad by attaching different meaning. However, usually when I use the example of a Buddha statue, these same people see it as clearly wrong, because they do not have the bias of having grown up with the traditions, celebrated in the name of Christ. The two are not actually different except in timing.

My sincere hope is that all who read this pray about it, study the history of Christmas, study God’s word for where He says not to learn the way of the pagans, not to worship Him the way they worship and reflect on whether they are ready to really put God first and hold nothing back from him, including precious and emotionally important traditions of man. Let nothing come before Him in importance. Hold nothing back. Yes it is hard, but you will grow ever closer to Him the more you put Him first in your life in all ways.

I recognize that this is an emotional subject for many and admitting that we should change is very hard. Even if we accept it and change our behavior, there will be much difficulty among family. This is to be expected when we stand for Christ above all others. Jesus said so himself in Matthew 10:23-39.

32 “Everyone who acknowledges me publicly here on earth, I will also acknowledge before my Father in heaven. 33 But everyone who denies me here on earth, I will also deny before my Father in heaven.

34 “Don’t imagine that I came to bring peace to the earth! I came not to bring peace, but a sword.

35 ‘I have come to set a man against his father,
    a daughter against her mother,
and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law.
36     Your enemies will be right in your own household!’[l]

37 “If you love your father or mother more than you love me, you are not worthy of being mine; or if you love your son or daughter more than me, you are not worthy of being mine. 38 If you refuse to take up your cross and follow me, you are not worthy of being mine. 39 If you cling to your life, you will lose it; but if you give up your life for me, you will find it.

—-

Do you know for sure if you will go to heaven or hell when you die? Are you experiencing in your life the peace and joy of a personal relationship with our Creator and Father? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.