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Most of you have probably never heard of Lag Ba'Omer.
It is not a Biblical festival, but a traditional Jewish one, and there is even disagreement about what it commemorates. As usual, if you want to know more, that's what wikipedia is for.
For now it's enough to know that the most prominent feature of Lag Ba'Omer is the bonfires people light the evening of the holiday and many people, especially kids, stay up all night with these bonfires. In addition to the fact that it's not Biblical, there's a lot about this holiday which is not kosher, and even most Jews outside of Israel don't celebrate it. Needless to say most Christians in Israel or out, don't celebrate it either.
But I think there's a way that we can use this occasion for something positive, and here's how.
In Acts 19:19 we read about an event which occurred in the Greek city of Ephesus;
"Many of them also which used curious arts brought their books together, and burned them before all men: and they counted the price of them, and found it fifty thousand pieces of silver."
This passage refers to new Believers who had formally practiced some form of witchcraft or divination. They had scrolls of, for lack of a better term, "spells" which they used to contact the spirits of dead people, etc. They usually did this on behalf of bereaved parents who wanted to have one last chat with their son who was killed in a war, or whatever. They were also paid by soldiers to cast spells of protection over them so that they would not be killed in battle, or by young men to cast spells over the woman they wanted to marry to make her fall in love with them, or businesses would pay these sorcerers to put a curse on their competitors, etc.
As I'm sure you know, this sort of thing is very much alive and well in 2010.
These new Believers in Ephesus knew precisely where the power to do all these things came from, and they realized that if they wanted to follow Jesus Christ, they had to cut off their connection to the demonic powers which had allowed them to practice their former profession. So they burned the scrolls of spells.
I think the traditional Jewish holiday of Lag Ba'Omer is the perfect time for Christians who love Israel to show solidarity with Israelis and follow the example of these ancient Ephesians at the same time!
Go down to your local grocery store and get a few cardboard boxes, bring them home, and put one in your living room and another in your bedroom.
Some of us came out of New Age, witchcraft, or some other apostate religion. If you did, and you still have some literature, little statues, crystals, or other artifacts from those religions and you're not sure of what to do with them, put all that stuff in the box. Don't give it to someone else who is still into those apostate religions because then you're just putting a stumbling block in their path and damaging their life, and don't throw it away either because someone might fish it out of the garbage and it will damage their life.
Next, if you have any pornography in your home, put that in the box. Next, if you have pictures of your old girlfriend or boyfriend, presents they gave you or other little keepsakes or reminders of your relationship that is causing you to have trouble letting go of it, put them in the box. Next, if you have any drugs in your home that aren't medicine you need to take for an illness you have, including old prescription pills you've got in your medicine cabinet that you don't take any more, put that in the box.
Next, put any music you have that isn't helping you draw closer to God in the box, along with any games, tarrot cards, trashy novels, gossip magazines, or anything like that that is not glorifying God in your life and/or holding you back or distracting you from being a good witness to your neighbors or holding you back from becoming the Christian that you'd like to be.
If you only need one box, great, but there's no shame in needing more then one.
After you've put all this garbage in the boxes, take the boxes someplace where it's okay to have a fire (keeping a bucket of sand and a shovel handy in case things get out of control) pour a little bit of lighter fluid on them and burn it all up. While it's burning, close your eyes and pray to God to break off all the curses which those things brought into your life, renounce all the sin, pain, regret and anguish that they caused you and declare that in Christ you have the victory over it.
As it happens, Lag Ba'Omer falls on a Sunday this year, May 2, so if you're really ambitious you can organize a community event at your church. You don't have to call it Lag Ba'Omer, you can call it "Acts 19:19 Day", making it clear that participation is voluntary and people should bring their boxes to the bonfire taped shut so that a person's sin is between them and God and no one else will see it.
If you're still not sure what to put in the box, I'll give you four guidelines.
1) If there was an innocent child who you loved very much who came into your home, what things would you not want them to find and be corrupted by?
2) If you were about to get married, and the parents of your fiance' were coming over for a visit, what would you not want them to accidentally find in your home?
3) If you were to die tomorrow and your family were to come over to your home and go through all your stuff, what would you not want them to find?
4) Last but not least, if Jesus were to come visit your home, what would you not want Him to see, pick up, turn to you and say "What's this my child"?
I know what some of you are thinking, about the old Jewish expression that "Where they burn books they'll soon be burning people."
But I would argue that if it's the books themselves which are causing people's souls to be burnt in Hell, better for them to be burned then a person's soul!
God bless you all!
Palm Sunday is probably one of my most favorite parts of this holy season. My love for it is not because of the ritualistic and traditional side of "Easter", but because of the universal multitudes that are prophesied to truly be servants and worshippers of our king. Prophecy says that they will wave their palms in joyous acclamation of the revelation of Christ's kingship:
Revelation 7: 9 - 10: After this I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands; 10. And cried with a loud voice, saying, Salvation to our God which sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb.
Easter is the most important religious holiday for the traditional Christian church. It commemorates the death and glorious resurrection of Yeshua as the basis for the salvation of mankind. But as powerful as this understood meaning and significance is, there was a strong Pagan influence that gave birth to the unusual name of "Easter" and even several of the traditions that are celebrated by many Christians in ignorance.
The English and German names, "Easter" and "Ostern" have been derived from the ancient name for the month of April "Eostremonant" and "Ostaramanoth" respectively. According to the 8th Century Christian monk and respected historian Bede, this month was dedicated to the pagan fertility goddess Eostre and the Easter Bunny is often identified as a remnant of this fertility festival.
Historian Bede recounts that clever church leaders (clerics) copied pagan practices and by doing so, made Christianity more acceptable to pagan folk that were reluctant to give up their festivals for somber and sacred Christian practices.
In other words, the church compromised with the Pagans, perhaps in an effort to be politically correct, or being afraid to stand up for the truth of the Gospel that calls sin, sin and wrong, wrong.
The church compromised with the world,.. with the Pagan folk because they were more concerned with increasing church membership than true righteousness. Those church leaders then allowed the input of the unsaved lovers of debauchery into the creation of the season that we Christians hold most dear.
In second century Europe, the predominate spring festival where Easter was created from was a raucous Saxon fertility celebration in honor of the Saxon goddess Eastre, whose sacred animal was a hare.
Political correctness is no stranger to national and religious leaders, or to every day people. The simplest way that I can personally describe it is in the following way: Political correctness is when we allow our enemies to have a platform in our lives that they do not deserve to have, and that is detrimental to our own welfare.
Political correctness was what caused Pontius Pilate, who found no reason to execute Yeshua (Luke 23:22), to be manipulated by the Chief Priests and Scribes into going against his own will and the warning of his wife (Matthew 27: 18 & 19).
The symbolic washing of his hands did not excuse Pilate of his guilt especially since his main motivation was the appeasement of the masses that had been "subtly" instigated to up roar by their leaders (Mark 15: 11 & 15). It is amazing how many masks our enemies can use.
Political correctness can kill a nation just as quickly as it killed our Messiah. It can also cause us to go against the very will and Word of G-d in order to be accepted or be popular.
This Season I am even more mindful of the need to pray for the peace of Jerusalem, and to pray that this blessed land that has been given to the Hebrew people by G-d (Genesis 13: 14-15; 17:18; Psalm 69:34-36; 129:5), will never be divided in an effort of appeasement.
This week, as we remember the crucifixion and resurrection of Yeshua, in order to best understand the season that we are commemorating we must look at the Jewish commemoration of Passover.
If we look at the relevancy of the time of the last Supper with Christ and his disciples, it was on this schedule that Christ's crucifixion took place.
According to the Synoptic Gospels, the Last Supper was the Passover meal eaten on the 15th of Nisan and Yeshua was arrested that night, and crucified the following afternoon. Even though the Gospel of John puts the events a day earlier, the timing was still right on schedule.
Passover, which translates from Hebrew as Pesach or Pesah and is also called Chag HaMatzot- The Festival of Matzot, is a Jewish Holiday beginning on the 15th of Nisan, which falls in the early Spring (the timing of our ‘Easter' observance parallels Passover).
Passover marks the "birth" of the Jewish nation, as the Jews were freed from being slaves of Pharaoh and allowed to become servants of God instead. Through Yeshua, we have a new birth: 1 Peter 1:23: Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever.
The term Pesach refers to the lamb which was designated as the Passover sacrifice (called the Korban Pesach in Hebrew) and Yeshua was the lamb that was slain
1 Peter 1:18- 20: "Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; 19But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot:"
I guess the biggest difference between Easter and Passover is that Easter was man made while Passover was God ordained! During this Resurrction Season I pray that we will not get lost in the traditions of the shadows but find our substance in the full revelation of our Savior.
Pastor Alexis Wallace.
Revelation 5:12: Saying with a loud voice, Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing.
Mr. Hobbs in Israel