Posts tagged ‘Good Friday’

Good Friday, Easter…We Are Doing It All Wrong!

A year ago I wrote a post about Easter, Easter, the Celebration of the Fertility Goddess. In that post I explained that Easter is a false god.  The common Easter symbols that we are so accustomed to, the egg and the rabbit, are fertility symbols that are directly linked to the worship of this false god.  In fact, even the date that is chosen each year to celebrate Easter is determined according to when the celebration of the goddess Easter was celebrated, the first Sunday after the full moon following the spring equinox.  This is why there is such a great variance of dates causing the holiday to land anywhere between the end of March and the end of April.  To read more about how and why this religious combination happened, please read the post linked above.

As Christians, followers of Christ, and Yahweh, the one and only true God, we better have a problem with this.  This is doing exactly what the Israelites did on countless occasions, and were punished severely by God…it is mixing honor and worship of Yahweh, “You shall have no other gods before Me”, that Yahweh, with worship of a pagan god.  Don’t tell me you are not doing that.  Do you buy chocolate Easter bunnies? How about Peeps?  I love those marshmallow bunnies and chicks!   Do you decorate Easter eggs?  Do you have an Easter egg hunt?  Probably right before or immediately following the church service in which you celebrated the risen Savior.  These symbols have absolutely NOTHING…NOT ONE…SINGLE…THING…to do with the resurrection of Messiah.

What’s more, there is nowhere in the Bible where Christians are told to hold a celebration of Messiah’s resurrection.  To tell you the truth, I can’t say that I have a problem specifically with celebrating it.  Obviously it is something worth a celebration.  However, the command given by Yeshua was to commemorate His death…”Do this in remembrance of Me.”  And that command was given in connection to a very specific, already established, feast.  The Passover.

The evening of the Lord’s last supper with his disciples was the beginning of Passover.  Passover is every year on the same date, the 14th of Nissan, on the Jewish calendar.  It begins at sunset and ends the following evening at sunset.  The Last Supper was the Passover meal, the Seder.  When Yeshua broke the bread, it was unleavened bread which symbolized His sinless life, and it was the bread they were commanded to eat at Passover by God when He instituted it at the time of the Exodus from Egypt.  Remember, a spotless male lamb was sacrificed, and it’s blood spread on the doorposts so that the people would be saved from the angel of death.  Yeshua is that spotless lamb who was sacrificed on Passover, and who’s blood saved us from eternal death.

Yeshua instructed His followers to continue to observe the Passover, but after His death, to observe it in remembrance of what He did for us on the cross. 

“Do this in remembrance of Me.”  Do THIS.  “This” is the PASSOVER.  Look, what Yeshua did with his disciples was break the bread, and drink the cup, as part of the Passover feast.  The Passover feast always pointed to the Savior who would one day come to save the world.  It was a living prophecy of the coming Messiah.  Yeshua fulfilled that prophecy that day, but He never instructed His followers to cease and desist.  He did instruct them to continue to observe the Passover, not as prophecy to come, but rather as prophecy fulfilled.

As I sat in church this morning, considering the coming Maundy Thursday service, and Easter to follow, I was overwhelmed by the Spirit of Christ.  “This is wrong!!” beat in my heart and throbbed in my head.  Passover.  PASSOVER!!!  That is when we are to remember the sacrifice Yeshua made for us.  We have grieved the Holy Spirit by paganizing the holy celebration of the sacrifice of the Lamb of God on the cross.  And now He is calling us back to Him.  Do you hear His call?  Leave the pagan worship of Easter behind you!  Return to Me and MY ways.  Who of you will stand for the Lord?  Who will dare to brave the “heresy” of leaving Easter where it belongs and celebrating Christ on HIS holy day, Passover?

It is the year 2017 on the solar calendar (the year 5777 on the Jewish calendar).  The 14th day of Nissan is tomorrow.  I am going to lead my family in a Seder meal.  It won’t  be perfect because I don’t know how to do it all, and quite frankly, I’m not totally prepared.  But I know we will be honoring Yeshua Messiah on the right day at the right time.  We will attend Maundy and Resurrection Day services.  The question for you and for me is what about next year?  Will we seek courage from God to speak to our church leaders and encourage a return to God’s feast where Yeshua, and only Yeshua, will be honored?  Or will we cower, and continue to mix pagan worship with Christian worship?  In so doing, will we ignore God’s call to return to Him and away from pagan gods as the Israelites did?  The Church has been celebrating Easter for nearly 2,000 years.  Old habits die hard.  Some habits need to be broken.

Here is a link to instructions for a Christian Passover written by Ann Voskamp:  Why A Christian Family Celebrate Passover: A Messianic Seder

Is Your Cross Empty?

I love southern gospel and I love old church hymns. Generally I find that the old hymns in particular can really put my heart and mind in the right frame for worship. While much of today’s Christian pop music tends to focus on the me side of our relationship with God, and feel-good feelings; it can lack God-centered praise and worship. Now don’t get me wrong, there are a lot of wonderful, praise-filled, God-honoring modern songs. But there really are so many that focus on the feelings, and that can be a dangerous thing. Faith in God is not about having that mountain-high-feel-good feeling all of the time. Just like being in love does not mean feeling all ooey gooey inside every day for 60 years. That kind of love goes deeper than week knees and pitter pattering hearts, just like mature faith goes beyond the mountain high to the low valleys and every where in between. Mature faith causes a Christian to praise and worship through the tears, in spite of pain that is not understood. 

Mature faith is the kind of faith that gave us the hymn It is Well With My Soul by Horatio Spafford, written after all four of his daughters died in a shipwreck. 

While listening to my favorite gospel album I was struck by the words of a church favorite. I sang it often as a child. It was my brother’s favorite when he was a young boy. If you grew up watching pioneer or cowboy and western era television programs, you may have heard it coming from a small country church. The Old Rugged Cross. Look closely at the words of the last verse and chorus:  

To the old rugged Cross, I will ever be true 

Its shame and reproach gladly bear

Then He’ll call me some day to my home far away

Where his glory forever I’ll share

So I’ll cherish the old rugged Cross

Till my trophies at last I lay down

I will cling to the old rugged Cross

And exchange it some day for a crown.

To the old rugged cross I will ever be true. I will cherish the old rugged cross. I will cling to the old rugged cross.  You shall not make for yourself a carved image—any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; you shall not bow down to them nor serve them. For I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God. 

Something tells me I should not be true to the cross, but to the One who died on it. I should cherish and cling to Yeshua (Jesus’ given name before He was born) and what He did for me on the cross, but not the cross itself. The cross was simply wood, created by the One who hung on it. The cross did nothing but stand there, inanimate unfeeling, incapable of doing anything. I do not owe my loyalty, love or praise to a piece of wood. I owe it ALL to Yeshua, who sacrificed Himself for me, using that cross to do it.

You may think I am nitpicking. Consider the modern day cross. We wear it on a chain around our necks; have statues of it in our homes and churches; print it on clothing, purses, checkbooks, and even tattoo it on our skin. When you sing in church, do you find your eyes resting on the cross hanging on the wall of the sanctuary, or perhaps you finger the cross on a chain.

There is an ad floating around social media now. A company selling ergonomically correct crosses, painted with designs to please the visual palette. The purpose? To make it easy and comfortable for you to hold in your hand and find peace. Please tell me you see where this is a problem. 

We are a people who trivially use the tool our Savior used to save us to become the focus of worship and the source of our salvation. This is why God commanded the Israelites to make no carved, or otherwise, image of anything from the earth. He knew our foolish tendencies. Did you know that God told the Israelites that if they built an alter to sacrifice on, they must not use cut stone, but raw and untouched. Why? For the exact same reason. And yet here we are. We have removed Yeshua from the cross and made it our idol. The cross, empty and standing where is was put by human hands, is worth nothing. 

Over the next few weeks, as we approach Good Friday, I urge you to prayerfully consider the place of the cross in your worship. We must glorify Yeshua who bore the cross, not the cross that bore Yeshua.

How To Clean Coal

An illustration for you today:

I was born with a piece of coal in my hand – filthy, dirty coal.   I held on to it and carried it with me everywhere I went.  Even as a babe, it was with me in my cradle, and when in my mother’s arms.  I never let it go.  As I grew, so did the coal.  Bigger and heavier and dirtier it became.  Yet I continued to carry it with me.  Never once did I consider leaving it behind or getting rid of it in any way.  It was a part of me, in a sense.

As a young teen, I wondered once what would happen if I left it at home when I walked out the door.  Out of mere curiosity I tried it.  But when my foot stepped across the threshold of my door, I found the coal was still with me.  I shrugged and went on.

The coal seemed to grow with me.  By the time I was full grown, the coal was nearly as big as I.  It weighed me down and was becoming burdensome.  It’s filth rubbed off on everything I touched.  I thought more and more of being rid of it.  One day, feeling especially labored by its presence, I determined to leave it behind.  I recalled my attempt as a youth, so decided that I would lock the coal inside a closet in the house, and lock the house door behind me.  Alas, when I turned to leave, I discovered the coal still clung to me.  I heaved it higher on my back, and went on my way.

Years went by.  The coal stood like a bastion between myself and anyone I would have a relationship with.  I got in the way of my work, and prevented me from enjoying any part of life.  It had now grown to twice my size.  Still, I carried it.  My body could not bear the strain much longer, I knew.  The blackened dust was continually filling my lungs, leaving me coughing in fits and unable to breath.  My heart pounded in my chest from the exertion.  My muscles cramped and my joints throbbed with the pain.  Finally I drove to the edge of a cliff, the highest one I could find.  I couldn’t live like this any longer.  I had to be rid of this unbearable weight.   I turned my back to the cliff and let go of the coal.  I held my breath, straining to hear the crash as it hit the ground far below.  But it never came, and I realized with horror that the coal would not fall.  I hung my head and lumbered home, resigned to living with this burden until it would eventually over-take me, and my life would be over.

One day as I walked in the country, gasping for fresh air, back buckling under my now enormous piece of coal, I heard a voice in the distance.  “Come to me,” it said.  Something in it drew me.  I turned toward the voice and trudged on.

“Come to me, all of you who are struggling and burdened,” the voice said, and a single tear rolled down my face.  I fell to my knees and crawled on.

A third time, I heard the voice, “Come to me, all of you who are struggling and burdened, and I will give you rest.”  I collapsed at the crest of a hill, unable to move one inch more.

“Take my yolk upon you and learn from me,” the voice, who was just before me now, spoke.  But I cried, “I cannot bear anymore weight!”

Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, because I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”  

“Oh, to have your burden rather than mine,”  I wept, with my face on the ground.  “But how can I when I have never been able to rid myself of this foul mass?”

“I will deliver you, if you trust me.  It is my gift to you.  You need do nothing save give up your coal to me.  I will take it as my own,” the voice gently coaxed.

Sobbing now, and unable to believe someone would take my burden from me only to carry it himself, I asked, “But why?  Why would you do that?”

And he replied, “Because I love you.”

Slowly I pushed myself up to my hands and knees.  My head hung low.  I couldn’t understand this offer, but I couldn’t continue to live if I did not accept it.  I had not choice but to believe he would do as he said, and take the chance, a leap of faith greater than I knew I had strength for, I pushed the weight from my back, and it fell to the ground.  As I felt freedom for the first time in my life, I rose to my feet.  My body was completely renewed.  I stood tall, stretched my back and reached my arms to the sky.  I felt strength I had never known.  I inhaled deeply of the air free of soot, and opened my eyes.  There before me, suspended high above my filthy load hung a man, severely beaten, bruised and bloodied.  Large nails had been driven through his wrists and his feet and held him to this wooden cross.  A crown made of long, piercing thorns had been pressed onto his head.  Streams of blood flowed down his body and began to drip onto my coal which lay at his feet.  I was horrified that this was the man who had taken my burden, but I could not take it back.   In spite of the scene before me, my soul was being filled with unspeakable peace and even joy.  I knew that it must be from him.

I fell back to me knees, but this time looked up to the man on the cross and thanked him over and over.  Then I said, “You have taken my weight, and given me your peace and joy instead.  What can I do to repay you?”

The man replied, “Your debt cannot be repaid, however, do this for me.  In everything you do or say, do it in my name, Yeshua*, and give thanks to my father, who is God. Love Him with all your heart, soul, and mind, and love the people around you like you love yourself.  If you make this the basis for how you live, you will bring honor to me.”

I bowed my head.  “I understand,” I said, “I will honor you in this way for the rest of my life.”

I looked again at the coal heaped at Yeshua’s feet.  It was covered with his blood, except for one tiny spot.  As a fresh drop of his blood fell to cover it, Yeshua said, “It is finished.”  Then he hung his head and died.  I wept.

Soon some men came to remove his body and bury it.  I followed, not wanting to be far from him, even in death.  I mourned for this man who had taken my own burden and made it is, then covered it with his blood.  I noticed that my burden had followed him into the tomb.  It was buried with him.

I prepared to remain vigilant at his tomb for days.  Waiting for what, I did not know.  I just knew that I could not leave.  But on the third morning after his death, something strange and wonderful happened.  The large stone that stood in front of the grave was rolled away, and Yeshua walked out, alive as ever!  I ran past him into the tomb.  What I expected to find, I don’t know, for Yeshua was not there.  As I turned to go back out, I realized that my blood-covered burden was gone.  Completely vanished.

I knelt at Yeshua’s feet and praised him!  He smiled and gently placed his hand on my head, and said, “No go.  Go into all the world.  Tell everyone about what I have done for you.  I will do the same for them.  And I will always be with you.”

*Yeshua is the original Hebrew name of Jesus.

Matthew 11:28-30 (CJB – Complete Jewish Bible) –  “Come to me, all of you who are struggling and burdened, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, because I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

Ephesians 2:8-9 (CJB) – For you have been delivered by grace through trusting, and even this is not your accomplishment but God’s gift.  You were not delivered by your own actions; therefore no one should boast.

1 Peter 2:24 (CJB) – He himself bore our sins in his body on the stake, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness by his wounds you were healed.

John 3:16 (CJB) –  “For God so loved the world that he gave his only and unique Son, so that everyone who trusts in him may have eternal life, instead of being utterly destroyed.”

Colossians 3:17 (CJB) – That is, everything you do or say, do in the name of the Lord Yeshua, giving thanks through him to God the Father.

Matthew 22:37-39 (NKJV) – Jesus said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and great commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’”

Matthew 28:18-20 (NKJV) –  And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.  Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,  teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen.

 

walking on the narrow path.

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