Have you ever wondered if God accepted your worship? Have you ever thought if perhaps there was a preferred way that He wants to be praised? After-all when we bring the Lord an offering it really is just that – an offer. Abel’s offer was received as acceptable worship but Cain’s offer was denied. What made Cain’s worship unsavory in the eyes of God was his decision to ignore what God wanted and to do it “his way”. Today on this Reformation Series we’re going to be addressing the Cain spirit to see if it has infiltrated our way of thinking and thus our way of life. WARNING – The smell of sizzling, sacred cow will be wafting our way soon so grab a bottle of steak sauce and put on your Berean sunglasses; it’s cookout time!
So the first and main question about the Cain spirit is have we lost reverence for God’s opinion? If God cares about how we should live our lives and bring Him praise then have we ignored it?
The beginning of this problem is that an all too large number of Christians today don’t really pay attention to the front of the Bible. This is like starting 3/4ths of the way into the greatest novel ever written and thinking we can understand what is going on. Then on top of that we try to read Paul’s epic scholarly dissertations with about a 3rd grade education in the very thing he mastered in…actually a double doctorate would be the modern equivalent.
So what happens if we don’t start from the beginning? Often times it ends up creating a belief system that kinda sorta maybe requires God to change His mind about some things in order for it to fit into our theology. Well you have a problem if that happens. If you can change what is perfect, then it wasn’t perfect to begin with because perfect can’t change. This is why God said multiple times that He does not change. The Word also states that He is thrice holy (Is 6:3). That’s Hebrew for “you better listen up because this isn’t to be forgotten”.
So now we know that God didn’t change His opinion about what He considers holy and unholy after the cross. What’s that mean for our evaluation of the culture we are in? Well we know that anything that isn’t of the Kingdom of God finds its root in the Babylonian system which is also where the root of all paganism came from after the flood by way of Nimrod and the tower of Babel. Let’s see what God says about Christians and Babylon in Rev 18:4,5-
4 I heard another voice from heaven, saying, “Come out of her, my people, so that you will not participate in her sins and receive of her plagues; 5 for her sins have piled up as high as heaven, and God has remembered her iniquities. NASB
So apparently it is possible to participate in the allotted plagues or judgments unless we come out of Babylon. All throughout the Bible God shows a theme of how if we allow ourselves to be snared by Egypt, Canaan, Babylon, and so on, that it can cause us to lose our birthright or inheritance. Let’s see what Duet 7:25,26 says –
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. NASB
Now remember that because God didn’t change at the cross and because He is in eternity and outside of time, He does not look at this as an antiquated thing. In fact if a thousand years is as a day to the Lord then to Him it hasn’t been a week since he said it. This is about the place where that sinking feeling in the stomach comes. If it hasn’t then we should probably assess our level of the fear of God. This is the same One that struck down Ananias and Sapphira… under the new covenant. Thought I’d throw that in there.
Speaking of the fear of God let’s see what has happened through the Bible when God’s people wanted to carry on the Cain spirit –
Lev 10:1 -3 Now Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, took their respective firepans, and after putting fire in them, placed incense on it and offered strange fire before the Lord, which He had not commanded them. 2 And fire came out from the presence of the Lord and consumed them, and they died before the Lord. 3 Then Moses said to Aaron, “It is what the Lord spoke, saying,
‘By those who come near Me I will be treated as holy,
And before all the people I will be honored.’” NASB
Jesus said that if we love Him, then do His commandments. Therefore we walk out our love for God by obeying His commandments. Wherever you have a kingdom you also have its rules and regulations. Jesus’ main passion during His Earthly ministry was the Kingdom of God and thus God’s statutes and precepts.
Okay the next one is 1 Sam 15:22 –
22 Samuel 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. NASB
The context of this story is well known. King Saul feared the acceptance of the people instead of the command of God. He disobeyed God by sparing the best of the enemy to give as a “gift” to God. Obviously God didn’t care about his opinion. That brings us to a biggie about whether God cares about our opinion on how we choose to worship Him. Let’s head to the story of the golden calf in Exod 32…
4 He took this from their hand, and fashioned it with a graving tool and made it into a molten calf; and they said, “This is your god, O Israel, who brought you up from the land of Egypt.” 5 Now when Aaron saw this, he built an altar before it; and Aaron made a proclamation and said, “Tomorrow shall be a feast to the Lord.” 6 So the next day they rose early and offered burnt offerings, and brought peace offerings; and the people sat down to eat and to drink, and rose up to play. NASB
A couple of points of interest here – The word “Lord” in verse 5 isn’t a general term, it’s actually God’s name (Yahweh) in the Hebrew. The most common assumption is that they immediately went to serving some foreign god of Egypt but that doesn’t really pan out logically. First of all they had just seen all the gods of Egypt become insulted and defeated through the ten plagues. They knew very well Who brought them up from the land of Egypt. His pillar of fire and smoke was standing right there while they were making the calf. In fact the Paleo-Hebraic word picture for Elohim was a bull (which represented strength) and a Shepherd’s staff. The people simply lost patience with their mediator Moses, who was a type and shadow of Jesus, and decided that they were going to revert to the practices of the cultures around them and put their God into physical form, thus nullifying Who He was. (The misuse of the calf symbol for God is seen with Jeroboam’s golden calves as well.) Then they decided to make up their own holiday in this brash initiative and celebrate God their own way. The end of the story isn’t pretty; 3,000 people died for worshiping their way even though they meant well. And so in like fashion when Moses burned the golden calf with fire we come to the BBQ …
After this long-winded preamble the question must be asked. Does God honor the holidays we celebrate in His name? Well I believe that if God has not ordained the practices and those said practices are pagan in nature then according to everything we’ve seen so far the answer should be a resounding “No”. Now I anticipate the rebuttal that some will say that we just need to redeem the pagan practices and then that makes it better. The problem with that idea is that the word redeem has to do with returning or restoring something that originally belonged to God or was originally holy.
I would offer that the first reason someone would play the “redeem” card would be that they don’t want to give up something that has emotional attachment. In other words as you read through this make sure your feelings aren’t in the driver’s seat instead of the Word of God. After all Isaiah 5:20 states –
Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil;
Who substitute darkness for light and light for darkness;
Who substitute bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter!
If God calls something unholy then it will be classified as unholy forever unless you can cover it in the blood of Jesus. If sin is covered in the blood though it must be followed with repentance; not as an excuse for continued violation. It’s time to start getting into the specific practices of our holidays. Let’s see if we can find anything redeemable in here…
Easter – English form of the female god Ishtar.
First of all I want to give a quick math quiz. How in the world do you get 3 days in the grave from Friday to Sunday? Last I checked Friday night to Saturday night is one day, Saturday night to Sunday night is 2 days. Hmm…Something’s off here…Wait a minute didn’t Jesus die on Passover as the final sacrifice? Easter must just be a western Passover right? Well not really. Easter was commandeered by the Holy Roman Empire and basically turned into the celebration of Jesus’ resurrection because all the Romans were used to worshiping on that day. The problem is that over time the fertility and sun god worship aspects of the former holiday never left. God gives specific instructions in the Bible that we are not to learn the ways that the pagans worshiped their gods so that we won’t be snared by it.
Easter or Ishtar was known by many names. If you keep going back in time you will eventually land on a real woman named Semiramis. She happened to be Nimrod’s wife…and sister….and mother (Legend goes that Nimrod’s dad had a daughter and he married the daughter and had Nimrod with her. Then after the dad dies Nimrod marries his mom.) She was known as the original true whore of Babylon. After the dispersal from the tower of Babel you had all these different people groups that deified Nimrod, his wife and their son and included them into their pantheon of gods. The mythology believed that Ishtar had come back down to Earth in an egg and when she landed she turned a bird into an egg laying rabbit. Right…Anyway the pagans would sacrifice their children and paint eggs with their blood as an offering for prosperity. Nothing says family time with the kids like honoring abortion.
Demons have been around a long time. They look at ancient practices and remember the original like it was yesterday. If we won’t bring a pentagram or a voodoo doll into our house because we know it attracts demons then why in the world would we participate in these practices? Because they have sparkles and look pretty? The witches rejoice when Christians join in on their holidays. According to the occultic community it’s one of the few times in the year that the hedge opens up and allows curses to land.
We can’t plead the blood of Jesus over something we won’t repent from. The lukewarm Christian can generally get away with these practices but not those who want to move higher. Satan will use these breaches of covenant as a get-out-of-jail free card that he holds in reserve if you ever decide to be dangerous. One of the greatest weapons the enemy has is hiding cause-and-effect from the eyes of the believer.
Halloween – This one is obvious. We should be in constant prayer and vigilance to bind the wicked practices of witchcraft in our area on this day. If you knew the exact day out of the whole year that your house was going to be robbed you wouldn’t go out to a party. You’d stay home and rack the shotgun.
Christmas – Anything but that one!
If you’re still reading this then you knew this would be coming. Quick question for you — as a Christian how many times have you heard that you shouldn’t want any spirit but the Holy Spirit? Probably a lot if you’re well churched. It’s in our songs and our prayers. Well, except for Christmas time. For some reason as soon as it’s December all of us want the Christmas spirit. I don’t know what or who that is but I’m pretty sure we should be careful how we word our wishes. After all warm fuzzies can only come from God right? The Bible states that we are to test the spirits; even the ones that look bright and cheery. Just something to ponder.
Let’s get into the nasty bits —
December 25th is not the Lord’s birthday. Before the Julian calendar was switched to the Gregorian calendar the 25th was the winter solstice. On that day the pagans would celebrate a resurrection of the sun god. In Rome the celebration was called Saturnalia. On that day they would fill their houses with holly which they held as a sacred plant. In fact one of the ways that they could tell if a family was Christian is if they refused to deck their halls with boughs of holly on December 25th. There’s no record but still a big chance we have brothers and sisters that were burned or crucified because of their solidarity. Holly isn’t as touchy a topic today but it was still used in worship practices of the day.
Speaking of sacred plants, the mistletoe comes from Druidic worship which is where Wicca and a lot of the new age magic derives its roots. In fact, they considered it so holy that they harvested it with a golden sickle. The kiss under the mistletoe came from 2 gods supposedly declaring a truce under the plant. It’s a parasite by the way. It doesn’t grow on its own accord so it has to leech the life from another tree in the forest to live. Sounds like prime material for the occult to me. If you’d have a problem hanging crystals in your house that were bought at a new age shop then there really isn’t a difference. It’s still inviting spirits that are familiar with its use into the house.
At the source of most sun god worship you will usually find fertility cultism. In other words the people would usually worship sexuality for the promise of a fruitful year. The wreath represents the female side of the worship of fertility. The evergreen branches were used for the wreaths because it represented longevity and eternity. The Christmas tree represents the male side. Did you know that Christmas trees used to be illegal in America? The Puritans who had come from Europe knew where they came from and knew that they were so overtly pagan that they refused to permit their use and deemed them blasphemous to the Lord. The last regulations prohibiting their use weren’t removed until the 1840’s.
When you trace the origin of the Christmas tree back you will find that it is a European version of an Ashera pole. Each version was used for the same type of sun god worship. The Bible actually has a whole lot to say about an Ashera pole…
2 Kings 23:6-7… 6 He brought out the Asherah from the house of the Lord outside Jerusalem to the brook Kidron, and burned it at the brook Kidron, and ground it to dust, and threw its dust on the graves of the common people. 7 He also broke down the houses of the male cult prostitutes which were in the house of the Lord, where the women were weaving hangings for the Asherah.NASB
Deut 7:5-6… 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. NASB
1 Kings 14:15… “For the Lord 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 the Lord to anger. NASB
Deut 16:21-22… “You shall not plant for yourself an Asherah of any kind of tree beside the altar of the Lord your God, which you shall make for yourself. 22 You shall not set up for yourself a sacred pillar which the Lord your God hates. NASB
And that’s just the beginning. My final comment on these things is this…
Are we instructed to redeem pagan things or destroy them? In our endeavor to come out of Babylon should we also see if Babylon needs to come out of us? Does God redeem paganism or does He redeem pagan people? Has America become like Jeroboam’s northern kingdom? Are our two golden calves (Christmas and Easter) replacing God’s intended way of worship? Finally, what in the world does any of these practices have to do with the birth, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ?
Merry birth of our Lord Jesus Christ celebration Christmas everyone!