I realize that there are many sincere people of faith. These people love the Lord and serve Him with the knowledge they have of Him, however limited that is. And we praise the Lord that we are not saved by knowledge but by grace through faith, Eph 2:8-9. But that does not give us the excuse to live a life of Biblical illiteracy. I am sure that everyone would agree with me on that point, as the Scripture says, “Faith comes by hearing and hearing the Word of the Lord,” Rom. 10:17. Good intentions – no matter how sincere we are – do not trump obedience.
We see this example in the life of King Saul when he refused to obey the instructions of the Lord in 1 Sam 15:1-3
1 Then Samuel said to Saul, "The LORD sent me to anoint you as king over His people, over Israel; now therefore, listen to the words of the LORD. 2 "Thus says the LORD of hosts, 'I will punish Amalek for what he did to Israel, how he set himself against him on the way while he was coming up from Egypt. 3 'Now go and strike Amalek and utterly destroy all that he has, and do not spare him; but put to death both man and woman, child and infant, ox and sheep, camel and donkey.'"
9 But Saul and the people spared Agag and the best of the sheep, the oxen, the fatlings, the lambs, and all that was good, and were not willing to destroy them utterly; but everything despised and worthless, that they utterly destroyed. 10Then the word of the LORD came to Samuel, saying, 11 "I regret that I have made Saul king, for he has turned back from following Me and has not carried out My commands." And Samuel was distressed and cried out to the LORD all night.
1 Sa 15:13-23
13 Samuel came to Saul, and Saul said to him, "Blessed are you of the LORD! I have carried out the command of the LORD." 14But Samuel said, "What then is this bleating of the sheep in my ears, and the lowing of the oxen which I hear?" 15Saul said, "They have brought them from the Amalekites, for the people spared the best of the sheep and oxen, to sacrifice to the LORD your God; but the rest we have utterly destroyed." 16Then Samuel said to Saul, "Wait, and let me tell you what the LORD said to me last night." And he said to him, "Speak!" 17Samuel said, "Is it not true, though you were little in your own eyes, you were made the head of the tribes of Israel? And the LORD anointed you king over Israel, 18and the LORD sent you on a mission, and said, 'Go and utterly destroy the sinners, the Amalekites, and fight against them until they are exterminated.' 19"Why then did you not obey the voice of the LORD, but rushed upon the spoil and did what was evil in the sight of the LORD?" 20Then Saul said to Samuel, "I did obey the voice of the LORD, and went on the mission on which the LORD sent me, and have brought back Agag the king of Amalek, and have utterly destroyed the Amalekites. 21"But the people took some of the spoil, sheep and oxen, the choicest of the things devoted to destruction, to sacrifice to the LORD your God at Gilgal." 22Samuel said, "Has the LORD as much delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed than the fat of rams. 23"For rebellion is as the sin of divination, and insubordination is as iniquity and idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the LORD, He has also rejected you from being king."
This might seem rather harsh to some, but let me assure you that the Lord had a very good reason for the destruction of the Amalekites. Because Saul would not do what he was told, the Amalekites came back to haunt Israel in the form of Haman, a descendant of Agag. This is recorded in the book of Esther.
Not only was Saul claiming that he had good intentions, but when he was caught in his string of excuses, he actually tried to place the blame on the people.
"But the people took some of the spoil, sheep and oxen, the choicest of the things devoted to destruction, to sacrifice to the LORD your God at Gilgal."
This is why the Lord rejected him; He refused to repent and take responsibility for his disobedience and he then he placed the blame on to a scapegoat, the people of Israel. We can see that when the Lord tells us to do something, He does not mess around. There is no wiggle room when it comes to disobedience. There is no excuse.
When the children of Israel came out of Egypt, they were instructed to take the blood of the lamb and place it on the doorposts and lintel of their houses, Ex 12:7. They were also instructed by the Lord to stay indoors until the morning.
21Then Moses called for all the elders of Israel and said to them, "Go and take for yourselves lambs according to your families, and slay the Passover lamb. 22"You shall take a bunch of hyssop and dip it in the blood which is in the basin, and apply some of the blood that is in the basin to the lintel and the two doorposts; and none of you shall go outside the door of his house until morning. 23"For the LORD will pass through to smite the Egyptians; and when He sees the blood on the lintel and on the two doorposts, the LORD will pass over the door and will not allow the destroyer to come in to your houses to smite you.
There was no wiggle room here either. After the application of the blood, we were instructed to stay indoors until the morning, no excuses. If you weren’t in the house covered by the blood of the lamb, there was no protection from the Angel of death. We couldn’t say to the Lord, “Hey Lord, I have a few schlemiel Egyptians that want to buy some swamp property from me. It’s a good deal. Would you hold off the Angel of death for me for a couple of hours so I can get this deal through? I am coming, just going to be a little late.” As I said, the Lord was pretty emphatic about His instructions – His time, His way.
We also see another example of the Lord being very specific about His instructions when it came to handling the Ark of the Covenant. The Lord is holy, His presence is holy. There was no compromise for the children of Israel; they needed to know who they were dealing with. It wasn’t like their past history showed that they were faithful when it came to listening to His Word. The history of Israel is totally checkered with nothing but disobedience. This is why they went into captivity.
1 Sam 6:19-20
19 He struck down some of the men of Beth-shemesh because they had looked into the ark of the LORD. He struck down of all the people, 50,070 men, and the people mourned because the LORD had struck the people with a great slaughter. 20The men of Beth-shemesh said, "Who is able to stand before the LORD, this holy God? And to whom shall He go up from us?"
The Ark Brought to Jerusalem
1Then David consulted with the captains of the thousands and the hundreds, even with every leader. 2David said to all the assembly of Israel, "If it seems good to you, and if it is from the LORD our God, let us send everywhere to our kinsmen who remain in all the land of Israel, also to the priests and Levites who are with them in their cities with pasture lands, that they may meet with us; 3and let us bring back the ark of our God to us, for we did not seek it in the days of Saul." 4Then all the assembly said that they would do so, for the thing was right in the eyes of all the people.
Uzza and the Ark
5So David assembled all Israel together, from the Shihor of Egypt even to the entrance of Hamath, to bring the ark of God from Kiriath-jearim. 6David and all Israel went up to Baalah, that is, to Kiriath-jearim, which belongs to Judah, to bring up from there the ark of God, the LORD who is enthroned above the cherubim, where His name is called. 7They carried the ark of God on a new cart from the house of Abinadab, and Uzza and Ahio drove the cart. 8David and all Israel were celebrating before God with all their might, even with songs and with lyres, harps, tambourines, cymbals and with trumpets. 9When they came to the threshing floor of Chidon, Uzza put out his hand to hold the ark, because the oxen nearly upset it. 10The anger of the LORD burned against Uzza, so He struck him down because he put out his hand to the ark; and he died there before God. 11Then David became angry because of the LORD's outburst against Uzza; and he called that place Perez-uzza to this day. 12David was afraid of God that day, saying, "How can I bring the ark of God home to me?" 13So David did not take the ark with him to the city of David, but took it aside to the house of Obed-edom the Gittite. 14Thus the ark of God remained with the family of Obed-edom in his house three months; and the LORD blessed the family of Obed-edom with all that he had. (Also found in 2 Sam 6)
Until we get to the place where we realize who the Lord is, we will always come before Him thinking we have a better plan. Then we find an excuse as to why we think the Lord endorses our plans over His. This has also played out in the history of the Church. This standard shouldn’t be the way we conduct our own lives. If the Lord said don’t touch the Ark then…DON’T TOUCH THE ARK. If He says something is forever in all of our dwelling places throughout our generations, then we should not take this lightly. He was setting up foundational principles to help us in our walk. These were the things we were to do to keep us on the straight and narrow track. They were also events that prophecied the coming of the Messiah.
Contrast the Upright and the Wicked
1 The plans of the heart belong to man,
But the answer of the tongue is from the LORD.
2 All the ways of a man are clean in his own sight,
But the LORD weighs the motives.
3 Commit your works to the LORD
And your plans will be established.
4 The LORD has made everything for its own purpose,
Even the wicked for the day of evil.
8 “For My thoughts are not your thoughts,
Nor are your ways My ways,” declares the LORD.
9 “For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
So are My ways higher than your ways
And My thoughts than your thoughts.
10 “For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven,
And do not return there without watering the earth
And making it bear and sprout,
And furnishing seed to the sower and bread to the eater;
11 So will My word be which goes forth from My mouth;
It will not return to Me empty,
This is what obedience in the New Covenant Scriptures looks like.
The Sons of Sceva
11God was performing extraordinary miracles by the hands of Paul, 12so that handkerchiefs or aprons were even carried from his body to the sick, and the diseases left them and the evil spirits went out. 13But also some of the Jewish exorcists, who went from place to place, attempted to name over those who had the evil spirits the name of the Lord Jesus, saying, "I adjure you by Jesus whom Paul preaches." 14Seven sons of one Sceva, a Jewish chief priest, were doing this. 15And the evil spirit answered and said to them, "I recognize Jesus, and I know about Paul, but who are you?" 16And the man, in whom was the evil spirit, leaped on them and subdued all of them and overpowered them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded. 17This became known to all, both Jews and Greeks, who lived in Ephesus; and fear fell upon them all and the name of the Lord Jesus was being magnified. 18Many also of those who had believed kept coming, confessing and disclosing their practices. 19And many of those who practiced magic brought their books together and began burning them in the sight of everyone; and they counted up the price of them and found it fifty thousand pieces of silver. 20So the word of the Lord was growing mightily and prevailing.
Where do we think that Paul received his instructions about witchcraft and sorcery? From Deuteronomy 18 of course.
9"When you enter the land which the LORD your God gives you, you shall not learn to imitate the detestable things of those nations. 10"There shall not be found among you anyone who makes his son or his daughter pass through the fire, one who uses divination, one who practices witchcraft, or one who interprets omens, or a sorcerer, 11or one who casts a spell, or a medium, or a spiritist, or one who calls up the dead. 12"For whoever does these things is detestable to the LORD; and because of these detestable things the LORD your God will drive them out before you. 13"You shall be blameless before the LORD your God. 14"For those nations, which you shall dispossess, listen to those who practice witchcraft and to diviners, but as for you, the LORD your God has not allowed you to do so.
These were the only Scriptures they had. They were the same Scriptures that Rav Shaul spoke about to Timothy when he said…
2 Tim 3:14-17
14You, however, continue in the things you have learned and become convinced of, knowing from whom you have learned them, 15and that from childhood you have known the sacred writings which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. 16All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; 17so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.
The only Scriptures which were able to do this were the Hebrew Scriptures, the Tenach (Old Testament). They not only read them, but they obeyed them. They were believers in Yeshua and followers of the Torah.
The Lord gave the Jews some pretty simple and concrete things to do and not to do. They were not hard to follow. We may be two thousand years into the future, but the Lord has not changed. He still expects us to live as the first century believers did.This is what they were taught by the Lord.
1“When the LORD your God brings you into the land where you are entering to possess it, and clears away many nations before you, the Hittites and the Girgashites and the Amorites and the Canaanites and the Perizzites and the Hivites and the Jebusites, seven nations greater and stronger than you, 2and when the LORD your God delivers them before you and you defeat them, then you shall utterly destroy them. You shall make no covenant with them and show no favor to them. 3“Further-more, you shall not intermarry with them; you shall not give your daughters to their sons, nor shall you take their daughters for your sons. 4“For they will turn your sons away from following Me to serve other gods; then the anger of the LORD will be kindled against you and He will quickly destroy you. 5“But thus you shall do to them: you shall tear down their altars, and smash their sacred pillars, and hew down their ◙Asherim, and burn their graven images with fire. 6“For you are a holy people to the LORD your God; the LORD your God has chosen you to be a people for His own possession out of all the peoples who are on the face of the earth.”
We were to have nothing to do with the paganism of the unbelievers. There was to be no co-opting of anything pagan, no matter what your intentions were, just like King Saul. The New Covenant says the same thing in the book of Corinthians 6:14-18
14Do not be bound together with unbelievers; for what partnership have righteousness and lawlessness, or what fellowship has light with darkness? 15Or what harmony has Christ with Belial, or what has a believer in common with an unbeliever? 16Or what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; just as God said,
“I will dwell in them and walk among them;
And I will be their God, and they shall be My people.
17 “Therefore, come out from their midst and be separate,” says the Lord.
“And do not touch what is unclean;
And I will welcome you.
18 “And I will be a father to you,
And you shall be sons and daughters to Me,”
Says the Lord Almighty.
What, you don’t think Rav Shaul is reflecting on this passage in Deut 7? Where else would he come up with this precept? For emphasis sake, the writer of Deuteronomy goes on to reiterate in 7:25-26:
25“The graven images of their gods you are to burn with fire; you shall not covet the silver or the gold that is on them, nor take it for yourselves, or you will be snared by it, for it is an abomination to the LORD your God. 26“You shall not bring an abomination into your house, and like it come under the ban; you shall utterly detest it and you shall utterly abhor it, for it is something banned.”
I think it is pretty clear that the Lord didn’t want paganism in any way, shape or form to creep into our faith. It matters not what your good intentions are.
Why can’t we just obey and do what He says without making the excuse of King Saul? The Church cannot presume that their Easter offering is acceptable to the Lord when the majority of its practices are from a pagan origin, no matter what they call it or their good intention. Easter denies the actual prophetic timeline of Passover and First Fruits, the real time that Yeshua arose from the dead. Easter was birthed and made the official day of the resurrection from the Roman Emperor Constantine in 325 AD as an attempt to divorce the resurrection and the Gospel from its Jewish roots entirely and once and for all. He was an agent of Satan then and his legacy continues today. The Church has been deceived for over 1700 years. It is time for the people who call themselves believers in the King of the Jews to act as they were commanded, not according to their “GOOD INTENTIONS”.
These are the words of Constantine himself.
From the letter of the Emperor (Constantine) to all those not present at the Council of Nicea. (Found in Eusebius, Vita Const., Lib III 18-20)
“When the question relative to the sacred festival of Easter arose, it was universally thought that it would be convenient that all should keep the feast on one day; for what could be more beautiful and more desirable than to see this festival, through which we receive the hope of immortality, celebrated by all with one accord and in the same manner? It was declared to be particularly unworthy for this, the holiest of festivals, to follow the customs (the calculation) of the Jews who had soiled their hands with the most fearful of crimes, and whose minds were blinded. In rejecting their custom we may transmit to our descendants the legitimate mode of celebrating Easter; which we have observed from the time of the Saviour’s passion (according to the day of the week).
We ought not therefore to have anything in common with the Jew, for the Saviour has shown us another way; our worship following a more legitimate and more convenient course (the order of the days of the week: And consequently in unanimously adopting this mode, we desire, dearest brethren to separate ourselves from the detestable company of the Jew. For it is truly shameful for us to hear them boast that without their direction we could not keep this feast. How can they be in the right, they who, after the death of the Saviour, have no longer been led by reason but by wild violence, as their delusion may urge them? They do not possess the truth in this Easter question, for in their blindness and repugnance to all improvements they frequently celebrate two Passovers in the same year. We could not imitate those who are openly in error.
How, then, could we follow these Jews who are most certainly blinded by error? For to celebrate a Passover twice in one year, is totally inadmissible.
But even if this were not so it would still be your duty not to tarnish your soul by communication with such wicked people (the Jews). You should consider not only that the number of churches in these provinces make a majority, but also that it is right to demand what our reason approves, and that we should have nothing in common with the Jews.”
(Gleaned from Dr. Henry R. Percival’s “The Nicean and post Nicean Fathers”. Vol. XIV Grand Rapid: Erdmans pub. 1979,pgs. 54-55)
In contrast these are the words of our Lord.
'Now this day will be a memorial to you, and you shall celebrate it as a feast to the LORD; throughout your generations you are to celebrate it as a permanent ordinance.
'You shall also observe the Feast of Unleavened Bread, for on this very day I brought your hosts out of the land of Egypt; therefore, you shall observe this day throughout your generations as a permanent ordinance.
'Seven days there shall be no leaven found in your houses; for whoever eats what is leavened, that person shall be cut off from the congregation of Israel, whether he is an alien or a native of the land.
"And you shall observe this event as an ordinance for you and your children forever.
How is it that Passover is totally ignored by the “Church” and has been subverted, replaced, by Easter? Please forgive me for asking, but what Biblical passage commands me to celebrate Easter? What is it that we do on that day that shows the prophesied and risen Messiah? It doesn’t make it so just because we say so, no matter what our intentions are.
Once you take the death. Burial, and resurrection out of the context of the Passover, you can no longer show the resurrection of Yeshua as a fulfilled event. Because Ishtar, the goddess of fertility, just doesn’t pack the prophetic punch that Passover and First Fruits do. Ishtar was not appointed by the Lord, it was appointed by Constantine. Who gave him the authority to declare God’s appointments null and void?
For Yeshua to be our Passover Lamb (1 Cor 5:6-8), He must die during the time the Passover lambs are killed. For Yeshua to be the First Fruits resurrected from the dead (1Cor 15:20-23), He must be raised 3 days and 3 nights later, as he said, on the Biblical feast of First Fruits (Lev 23:9-11).
There are no ifs, ands, or buts about it. We either do as the Lord said, or we are making it up as we go along, just like Constantine and King Saul did. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to be in that place.
The scariest words ever said in the Scriptures for a professed believer are…
21“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. 22“Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ 23“And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.’
I know this is late, but I hope you had a blessed Passover and First Fruits celebrating the true Holy days that speak of our Lord’s prophesied death and resurrection. If not, there is always next year. Beloved, cast off all the paganism from your life and practice and celebrate according to the Lord’s prescription and not Constantine’s.
Shalom uvracha b’Yeshua Rabbi Henry