Tag Archives: Sabbath

Christianity’s Golden Calves

Vatican Obelisk with Golden Calf

Background: Twice in their history, Israel sinned against God by making and worshipping golden calves to represent YHWH.

  1. While Moses was 40 days on Mount Sinai receiving the 10 Commandments, Aaron led the people to melt their gold into an idol (Exodus 32:1-20).
  2. After Solomon fell into idolatry and died, God split the 12 tribes of Israel into two parts; the Northern 10 tribes (under Jeroboam) and the Southern tribes of Judah and Benjamin (under Rehoboam). Jeroboam didn’t want the people of the Northern 10 tribes to worship in God’s temple in Jerusalem, so he conveniently set up two golden calves unto YHWH, in the cities of Dan and Bethel, which were at the North and South ends of his kingdom (1 Kings 12:26-30).

In both cases:

1. They created a calf of gold to represent YHWH

  • Aaron and Jeroboam both said, “These are the gods who brought you out of Egypt.” (Ex 32:4 and 1 Ki 12:28).

2. They Created Alternative Worship Festivals

Aaron and Jeroboam both instituted new worship festivals (Ex 32:5-6 and 1 Ki 12:32-33) as substitutes for God’s appointed festivals (Leviticus 23).

3. God severely judged their compromised, pagan worship.

a. Golden Calf at Mount Sinai: It came about, as soon as Moses came near the camp, that he saw the calf and the dancing; and Moses’ anger burned, and he threw the tablets from his hands and shattered them at the foot of the mountain. He took the calf which they had made and burned it with fire, and ground it to powder, and scattered it over the surface of the water and made the sons of Israel drink itHe said to them, “Thus says the LORD, the God of Israel, ‘Every man of you put his sword upon his thigh, and go back and forth from gate to gate in the camp, and kill every man his brother, and every man his friend, and every man his neighbor.’” So, the sons of Levi did as Moses instructed, and about three thousand men of the people fell that day. (Ex 32:19-28)

b. Golden Calves at Dan and Bethel: “Go, say to Jeroboam, ‘Thus says YHWH, God of Israel, “Because I exalted you from among the people and made you leader over My people Israel, and tore the kingdom away from the house of David and gave it to you—yet you have not been like My servant David, who kept My commandments and who followed Me with all his heart, to do only that which was right in My sight; you also have done more evil than all who were before you, and have gone and made for yourself other gods and molten images to provoke Me to anger, and have cast Me behind your back—therefore behold, I am bringing calamity on the house of Jeroboam, and will cut off from Jeroboam every male person, both bond and free in Israel, and I will make a clean sweep of the house of Jeroboam, as one sweeps away dung until it is all gone. “Anyone belonging to Jeroboam who dies in the city the dogs will eat. And he who dies in the field the birds of the heavens will eat; for YHWH has spoken ”’ “Now you, arise, go to your house. When your feet enter the city the child will die. “All Israel shall mourn for him and bury him, for he alone of Jeroboam’s family will come to the grave, because in him something good was found toward YHWH, God of Israel, in the house of Jeroboam. “Moreover, the LORD will raise up for Himself a king over Israel who will cut off the house of Jeroboam this day and from now on.

“For YHWH will strike Israel, as a reed is shaken in the water; and He will uproot Israel from this good land which He gave to their fathers, and will scatter them beyond the Euphrates River, because they have made their Asherim, provoking YHWH to anger. “He will give up Israel on account of the sins of Jeroboam, which he committed and with which he made Israel to sin.”

Then Jeroboam’s wife arose and departed and came to Tirzah. As she was entering the threshold of the house, the child died. All Israel buried him and mourned for him, according to the word of the LORD which He spoke through His servant Ahijah the prophet.

Golden Calves in Today’s Church?

For centuries, Christian leaders have committed the sin of Jeroboam, promoting the worship of YHWH and His Son Jesus at Dan and Bethel—instead of in Jerusalem. How?

Festivals

The vast majority of ‘churches’ totally ignore God’s Sabbaths and the seven ‘appointed times’ in Leviticus 23, even though Jesus fulfilled four of these (Passover, Unleavened Bread, Firstfruits, Pentecost) and the remaining three (Trumpets, Atonement, Tabernacles) will be fulfilled in our future.

Like Jeroboam, early church leaders wanted to keep their people away from Jerusalem (Hebrew roots of Christianity). So, as substitutes for YHWH’s prescribed ‘Jewish’ festivals, early church leaders invented alternative ‘christian’ festivals, i.e., Christmas, Ash Wednesday, Good Friday, Easter, etc. They claimed that all these festivals were to worship God, but none of them are in the Bible or recognized by YHWH.

A quick google search will reveal their thoroughly-pagan roots. Trying to make these pagan holidays ‘Christian’ is like putting lipstick on a pig.

In effect, they said, “These are the gods who brought you out of Egypt.”

Judgment Begins with the House of God

Lawlessness

Of our time the Apostle Paul wrote, “The Day of the Lord will not come until the great apostasy comes first. Then the man of lawlessness will be revealed, the wicked one doomed to destruction.” (2 Thessalonians 2:3)

  • The Greek word translated ‘lawlessness’ is anomia, which literally means “not law”.
  • While Christian leaders say they believe the entire Bible is the inspired Word of God, by ignoring God’s appointed times in Leviticus 23 and substituting their own festivals, they are literally (even if it’s unintentional) practicing and teaching lawlessness—which is the rejection of God’s Word.

Judgment

The pattern is clear. Whenever Israel created their own way to worship YHWH, substituting their festivals for the ones YHWH specified, they fell into idolatry and sin, and then YHWH judged them severely.

For centuries the church has ignored God’s Word, creating our own forms of worship and substituting our own festivals in place of the ones YHWH appointed for His people.

The Apostle Paul tells us ‘the great apostasy’ will occur in the end time, associating it with the lawlessness of the Antichrist. Again, ignoring God’s Word concerning His appointed times is the Biblical definition of lawlessness.

In 1 Peter 4:17 the Apostle Peter tells us the coming judgment will begin in the house of God.  This judgment is reminiscent of Ezekiel 9:4-10, where God sent His angels to start the judgment in God’s sanctuary, with the church leaders. When the slaughter was completed, only the godly remained in the land.

Similarly, in the parable of the wheat and the tares, Jesus taught,

“The Son of Man will send forth His angels, and they will gather out of His kingdom all stumbling blocks, and those who commit lawlessness, and will throw them into the furnace of fire; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Then the righteous will shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears, let him hear.” Matthew 13:41-43)

What Should You Do?

  1. Respect God’s Word above man’s tradition, whether the tradition is Catholic, Protestant, Messianic, or Jewish.
  2. Obey God’s Word, according to the Holy Spirit’s leading. All Old Testament law, etc., must be understood in view of the cross. This perspective ensures you’re following God’s Word according to the New Covenant in Messiah’s blood, preventing you from falling into dead legalism.

In our future, God will remove the lawless tares from His church, leaving His righteous disciples to shine as the sun. Which group will you be in?

Keeping the Sabbath

After wrestling for years with whether God expected a New Testament disciple to tithe, in 2008 I started tithing 10% of my gross income. Over time since then, I’ve developed confidence that God will provide all my financial needs, and He has.

bigstockphoto_Staircase_To_Heaven__5078152
Path of Discipleship

In 2014, the Spirit of God led me to take the next step in my discipleship journey—honoring the Sabbath.

The Christian Sabbath

Like most Christians, I believed the ‘Christian Sabbath’ was on Sunday, and that Jesus removed the requirement for us to obey the Old Testament commandments and laws. We’re now under grace, right? And, just like 99% of Western Christians, I felt my Sabbath ‘obligation’ to God was complete after I went to church for 1 or 2 hours each Sunday. After that, I was free to enjoy what I wanted to do, whether it was watching sports on TV, mowing the lawn, or going shopping, without another conscious thought about God that day.

The 7th Day?

In 2013, one of the last courses I took for my Doctor of Ministry degree was entitled “The Feasts of Jehovah.” I think this is when the Spirit of God really started tugging on my conscience. I learned that the Sabbath—like tithing and burnt offerings—was instituted long before Moses received the law on Mount Sinai. It goes back to creation itself. Adam and Eve were created on the sixth day, and their first task was to rest, with God, on the seventh day.

bigstockphoto_Blue_Grapes_Hanging_From_A_Vin_239235
Enjoy God’s Rest

In January 2014, the Spirit of God used the following verses to challenge me to honor the Sabbath Day.

“Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.” (Exodus 20:8)

So the sons of Israel shall observe the Sabbath, to celebrate the Sabbath throughout their generations as a perpetual covenant.’  “It is a sign between Me and the sons of Israel forever; for in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, but on the seventh day He ceased from labor and was refreshed.”  (Exodus 31:16-17)

So, God Himself observed the Sabbath, and the 4th of the Ten Commandments is to honor the Sabbath and keep it holy. I knew in my heart I wasn’t honoring the Sabbath and keeping it holy. The Spirit challenged me with these probing questions:

  1. Are you going to obey My word?
  2. Am I the Lord of your life, or not?”

Since the Sabbath was instituted at the beginning of Genesis, and not at Mount Sinai, I wondered whether Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection negated God’s requirement for mankind to keep the Sabbath?Stained Glass Window Then, I remembered there’s a 1000-year Sabbath coming in our future, in the millennial reign of Christ, the 7th millennium of this creation. God said the Sabbath was to be observed perpetually for all the generations of Israel. Also, the Sabbath is to be ‘a sign’ to the world. Keeping the Sabbath is like tithing our time.

But, following the Biblical Sabbath, from sunset Friday to sunset Saturday, would mean some radical changes for me.

For example:

1. A sign between Me and the sons of Israel forever.

a. Dedicating each Saturday to the Lord would immediately put me out of sync with the world system and the majority of Christendom.

In our culture, Saturday is generally used for entertainment and sports, shopping, and other non-spiritual activities.

While my Christian brethren are going to Church on Sunday, I’d be free to enjoy entertainment and sports, shopping, and other non-spiritual activities.

b. This difference is a testimony and a sign to both me and them.

It testifies that some are trying to follow the commandments of the Lord, even though it makes them be ‘out of sync’ with the world.

It testifies that I value the Lord’s approval more than the fellowship and approval of the world.

Forsaking profitable work on the 7th day of each week is a sign that I trust in the Living God to provide my needs.

2. Remember the Sabbath to Keep it Holy:

‘Dedicating’ the day means using the 24-hour period from Friday sunset to Saturday sunset to seek the Lord, fellowship, and worship.

Profitable work, entertainment and sports, shopping, and other non-spiritual activities are excluded.

Keeping the Sabbath is like tithing my time. When I dedicate one day a week to the Lord, I’m worshipping by:

  1. Being obedient to His word.
  2. Showing that He is worthy of one day of my focused attention each week.
  3. Believing that I’ll be able to accomplish all the things I need to do in the other 6 days each week.

Keeping the Sabbath — New Testament

Many will argue from Colossians 2:16,

“Therefore no one is to 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 mere shadow of what is to come; but the substance belongs to Christ”

Jesus honored the Sabbath perfectly in compliance with scripture, but He often got in trouble with the Jewish leaders who judged Him to be non-compliant with their added rules.

After the resurrection, the apostles, including Paul, continued to honor the scriptural Sabbath day. So, in Col 2:16 (and other places) I don’t think Paul was saying not to observe the Hebrew scriptures about the Sabbath.

Jesus and all the apostles, including Paul, strived to honor the scriptural Sabbath day. But, they didn’t follow the additional legalistic requirements that Jewish leaders added to the scriptural requirements. Here are a couple examples of such legalistic additions to scripture:

  1. For many years my son had Hasidic Jewish neighbors in Brooklyn NY. Once, he was walking down the street when a young Jewish man asked my son to do him a favor. It was the Sabbath and the Jewish family’s apartment was very hot. Because it was the Sabbath, the Jewish man wasn’t allowed to adjust the thermostat because that would constitute work on the Sabbath.
  2. Another time, my son noticed that every Saturday in NYC, many of the elevators were programmed to automatically stop at every floor. He discovered that this was because Jewish people were restricted from pushing an elevator button on the Sabbath.

So, Paul was saying that (while we should follow the Hebrew scriptures) we don’t need to comply with manmade rules, and we shouldn’t let anyone judge us for not following them.

This was also Jesus’ attitude. He perfectly obeyed all the Sabbath commandments of scripture, but ignored many of the manmade rules and refused to let the Pharisees and Sadducees judge Him for it.

Since I started honoring the Sabbath I’ve been attending the local Messianic Jewish synagogue. I immediately found myself in a Hebrew culture that was very different than any Church I’d ever attended. By moving from Sunday to Saturday, I’d also moved from a Greek/Roman Christian Church to a Hebrew Messianic Synagogue. Both follow Jesus, but they’re as different as night and day.

The weekly 7th-day Sabbath is a type and shadow of what’s to come, when Jesus our Messiah will establish His 1000-year reign on the earth in the 7th millennium. Until then, let us obey the 4th Commandment, using the weekly Sabbath to rest, fellowship, teach, and remind us of the reality that’s coming.