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October 7 2016 6 07 /10 /October /2016 10:58
The fear of the LORD prolongs life

When we fear the LORD, we will have a longer life. Proverbs 9:11 says “For by me your days will be multiplied, and years will be added to your life. Nonetheless, do all the righteous have longer lives when they fear the LORD? I can count a number of righteous people I have heard about who for some reason or another did not have a longer life than many unrighteous person. What does this passage mean? Can God truly give those who fear Him longer life? And if that is the case, why are there some God-fearers who die early, not even making it to 35? Something doesn’t seem fair; God fearers should live longer than non-God fearers. What is the writer of Proverbs trying to say here? Does God actually have a say with regard to when and how someone will die? I am going to say that God doesn’t have anything to do with when and how someone will die. When I look at this passage, this passage confirms how God actively saves us from physical harm to ourselves today and an eternal life in the Kingdom to come. If I had continued down the path I was following, I would not be here writing this blog. I would have been physically or spiritually dead.


Our God is a god of the living, not the dead (Matt22:32). He doesn’t decided when and how someone will die, however, He does actively save today. And its not just a belief in God that gives us length of days. We also have to “keep my commandments” as it says in Proverbs 3:1-2 because we are given “length of days and years of life.” Deuteronomy 17:20 also talks about the commandments giving Israel “length of days.” In the case of Israel, it was very literal; when they followed God’s commands, all of Israel lived. However when Ancient Israel stopped following God’s commands, disaster would strike. It was God who either punished the Ancient Israelites directly or He withdrew His protecting presence from them. The church is currently in a spiritual desert as pilgrims on the earth (Heb11:13), much like when Ancient Israel walked in a physical desert for 40 years. God is calling those today who hear His call to build His church for the coming Kingdom. Christian believers are not the “new” Israel nor are we in the promised land; we are hoping for it in the new Kingdom and new Earth (Rev21:1-4) that God will reveal. God will not physically punish us for not following His commands, however he may withdraw His protecting presence and leave us to our own sinful self-indulgences. God Himself doesn’t need to punish us; we often punish ourselves with our own lust and pride.


Nonetheless, the fear of the LORD should give us the wisdom to learn more about God and in order to learn more, it’s in following His commandments. The commandments give life today and for the new life to come. Often, the acts of the wicked will not go unpunished and their evil acts will punish their future generations. It says in the proverbs 17:13 that “evil will not depart from the house of one who returns evil for good” and Jesus himself says that “all who take the sword will perish by the sword” (Matt26:52). The lives of the wicked are short; just look at the average age for someone who participates in gang life. I believe their average life span is 30 years! The wicked have no hope of eternal life either unless they truly repent of their deeds. As for those who are righteous and have always been following good doctrine, tragedy can strike anyone and at any time. Tragedy struck Job and it wasn’t his fault nor was it God’s. Death also comes to everyone; people are not better than animals (Ecc3:20-21). God does not control the death of every single life of this earth. God created life and allowed death to exist after Adam and Eve’s disobedience. I believe Adam and Eve were created neither mortal nor immortal in the beginning, because they had unlimited access to the tree of life. However, when they ate of the tree of knowledge, God had to banish them for their own good to keep them from being eternally in sin. Death is a form of God’s mercy for humans, and yet death is the reason we sin (Rom5:12). We sin because we know we will die and this sickness affects everyone, however children are not born sinful. Children sin because they are in a sinful world and pick up on the sinful behaviors of those around them. Sinful behaviors may not explain why children will begin to “sin” at an early age. When I think of my 17 month old son, he has no fear of anything. He doesn’t know that he can get hurt or die, and I will act very differently when he tries to climb out of our four story balcony or put his fingers in electric plug-ins or run out in front of a car. I may yell at him, spank him or get really upset with his “dangerous” exploits. I’m certain he sees that he can’t do everything but he just doesn’t understand right now why he cannot jump off of a building. (An excellent book, called Ancestral Sin counters the Western Church’s idea of “original sin.” The Eastern Orthodox Church prefers to call the sin in the garden “ancestral sin” rather than “original sin”).


Nonetheless, humans are mortal; we will all die one day. God’s angels do protect the righteous (Ps91:11-12), so the righteous do have greater chances than the non-righteous with regard to divine protection in an ungodly world. And yet, injustice often happens in this life that touch the righteous. When it is time for some to die because of old age, God doesn’t necessarily need to prove anything because there is the hope of the resurrection and a new earth. God can add years to one’s life as He did to Hezekiah (2Kg20:6), but it is for His own reasons and in His own time. In the meantime, the righteous have a greater chance at having a more satisfying, peaceful and possibly longer life through following the God of Israel and being obedient to His commandments. Unbiblical traditions and unhealthy doctrines must be thrown out of a believer’s life if a believer truly wants true peace and wisdom in their lives. In so doing, the God of Israel can amazingly change our lives for the better in the here and now.

Published by Sabbath Keeper - in Bible Study
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September 2 2016 6 02 /09 /September /2016 14:53
The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge

The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction. – Proverbs 1:7


In order to obtain knowledge, we must first fear God. What does it mean to “fear” God? It is to have an awe and a reverence for God. This is the first step to gaining knowledge and with it wisdom. God desires us to learn and grow in knowledge of Him, therefore, we must understand what God likes and dislikes. How are we to grow in knowledge? We must first learn how to read and write. God does not wish for His followers to be ignorant. We don’t want to be fools either because a fool despises wisdom and instruction as it says in this proverb. There may be a degree of humility involved in allowing ourselves to be instructed. God’s true believers must welcome instruction and new learning as long as we don’t denounce our Creator.


There are some Christians who are very suspicious of new ideas for understanding a passage because it may challenge dearly held doctrinal beliefs. If a dearly held tradition is questioned, we should welcome it as a challenge to our faith and push us to search the scriptures (Acts 17:11). If a doctrine or tradition does no fit with what the Word of God says, it should be thrown out. This is easier said than done, nonetheless, believers can have greater confidence defending their faith when challenged if their entire doctrine is sound. Many believers fall into the category of “well, my father did it this way, my grand-father and great-grand-father before him did it this way, therefore, it must be right.” Jeremiah 16:19b says: “Surely our fathers have inherited lies, worthless and unprofitable things” (NKJV). Therefore, our parents and grandparents may not have understood everything in the Bible, but this may have been the result of not having access to the most recent biblical scholarship. God won’t condemn them for that, however, he may condemn them for despising wisdom and instruction. God wants us to grow in knowledge of Him as long as we keep that godly fear – that awe and reverence for a Holy God. Our secular education system sadly instructs students to grow in the opposite direction of God, which is not what God wishes. The knowledge obtained in our secular system can be good, however, without God at the forefront, the knowledge learned may not be directed in the right direction nor used properly. Job 28:28 describes a fear of the LORD as wisdom itself and “to depart from evil is understanding.” We must begin with a fear of the LORD and then knowledge and wisdom blesses us with an understanding to depart from evil.


I have found with my own experience, that true wisdom and understanding doesn’t come from ourselves or from the people around us. Depending on the environments we come from, it can be even harder to understand what true wisdom may be. I have even found among some of the most educated a lack of wisdom, however, I am not against obtaining a higher education. I believe God sincerely wishes for His people to become educated and better themselves. Nonetheless, wisdom is not found in more education or many experiences; it may help but they are not necessary. Wisdom is not found among the living (Job 28:12-13), but from God.


As for myself, I had to have a hard traumatic slap to my belief system in order to get me on my knees and recognize that I don’t have all the answers, and that I cannot from my own strength stop the evil that I continue to persist in. Wisdom and understanding don’t come from good families or friends; again, it may help us in the right direction, but it does not give godly wisdom. Only wisdom that comes from God can give us the strength to overcome life’s difficulties and leave unhealthy habits and relationships. Job 32:8-9 says: “But truly it is the spirit in a mortal, the breath of the Almighty, that make for understanding. It is not the old that are wise, nor the aged that understand what is right (NKJV).” Therefore, we must not assume that since he/she had all these experiences or that they are old that this automatically makes them wise. It is the breath of God that gives understanding and the wisdom that comes with it that allows us to humbly listen to others who have more education or more experiences without feeling ashamed. As a result, we grow more in understanding because we aren’t afraid of asking questions. Thank you El Shaddai, God Almighty for granting me the vision to have an awe and reverence for you. Only you gave me the strength to leave the sin I couldn’t stop myself from committing. Only you gave me the strength to swallow my pride. You have truly saved me from myself!

August 25 2016 5 25 /08 /August /2016 10:07
The Fear of the LORD is the hatred of evil

The fear of the LORD is hatred of evil, Pride and arrogance and the way of evil and the perverted speech I hate. – Proverbs 8:13


I have been coming across the “fear of the LORD” often in my bible readings in the past few weeks predominantly because I have been reading the Proverbs. When I think of a “biblical fear”, it is not the type of fear that one experiences because they are afraid of the consequences. I believe “fear” in the bible goes much deeper. The NRSV Study bible describes the “fear of the LORD” as a “reverence and awe; a prerequisite for wisdom.” In order to become wise, we must possess a godly fear of reverence and awe; something that is capable of bringing us to our knees. I find it interesting that when we are in complete awe and reverence for God, we start to truly hate evil in all its forms. When we fear God, we should hate what God hates. The problem may arise, however for some, as to what is evil? Evil for one person may not be the same for the next person. How can we learn to find out what the definition of evil might be? If we do not know what evil looks like, the proverbs often explain some of the various forms of evil, such as pride, arrogance, and perverted speech.


I think for someone just beginning to “fear the LORD,” a person can understand what some examples of evil can be just through reading the proverbs. For example in this proverb, we see that God hates pride, arrogance, a way of evil and perverted speech. It is so easy to become proud or arrogant. There’s nothing wrong with being proud about a successful exam or overcoming a difficult challenge. The problem arises when one begins to believe that they are better than someone else because they have something “better” than the other person. This person may begin to gloat about it, either openly or to themselves. Believers in the true God of Israel can become proud without even realizing it because through worshipping God in the right way, we get blessed. Often, we can begin to think that we were the source of our own resourcefulness without giving honor to God, who is our source! This is the danger of pride. We would rather worship the creature rather than the Creator (Rom1:25). It is terribly easy to worship the work of our own hands (Jer1:16)! Depending on the job atmosphere, there can be much competition between co-workers. Where does our desire to do more and outdo the competition come from? Yes it can come from a desire to do your best work (as it should be), but sometimes, this desire is pushed by the fact that our colleagues are inadvertently pushing us to “outdo” them. This is very unchristian, however, we often do it without realizing.


As for perverted speech, I believe this one can easily slip past our tongues without any recognition. Our society/generation does not think of how our speech can be perverted nor does it even understand what non-perverted speech sounds like. Many people on the street will swear without the slightest hesitation, even amongst those who are well educated. Most Christians I have met don’t swear but I have met a few. Some even admit to swearing at a cashier because they were overcharged for groceries! Many people don’t think about the very common expression “Oh my G-d” as a cuss word. Nonetheless, it is taking the name of God in vain and sometimes I even wonder, which god? Should we be calling on the name of a god whether biblical or not? God never asked for his name to be used because someone got so many new things on sale. I used to have problems with this expression. I even had to be careful with using “Oh my gosh” because I felt it was still the same and it wasn’t truly getting me to stop. It took time to stop using this expression, however, in time and along with thinking before speaking, I stopped using this expression. I give God the glory for helping me.


As for another example about perverted speech, I remember I was listening to a conversation amongst apparent Christians who had just listened to how we must be aware of how the biblical world views stand in direct opposition to the world. One of these Christians made a comment of a sexual nature to another who responded with “You’ll have to pay for that” as if she were a prostitute. Everyone laughed at her comeback, but is it truly funny? Should we be joking about the possibility that she would do what the other was asking for money like a prostitute? Interestingly enough, the person who responded with “You’ll have to pay for that” realized that this was probably not the most proper way to respond. The other person was also equally to blame, although he did not admit to any wrongdoing. Nonetheless, what struck me the most is how easily our speech can become perverted in this society. These ways of thinking and speaking are not of God. In the bible, James says “the tongue stains the whole body!”…it cannot be tamed it is “a restless evil, full of deadly poison” (Ja3:6-8). Just as the “eye is the lamp to the body” (Luke 11:14) so also the tongue stains the body. Therefore, “the fear of the LORD is the hatred of evil,” comes in many sizes and shapes. Hatred for evil can be the pride, arrogance and perverted speech we may find in ourselves or our world. It can also be the world’s injustice. As for today, we must focus on our pride, arrogance and perverted speech. What kind of speech blesses our God the Father and our brothers and sisters in Christ? Once we have calmed our own pride and speech, we can hate the injustice rampart in our world, knowing that the Father too hates the evil ways of injustice. Help us to hate evil as we stand in fearful awe and reverence for our God. Gives us strength to condemn the evil we see in us and around us!

August 19 2016 6 19 /08 /August /2016 12:58
How salty are you?

“Salt is good; but if salt has lost its taste, how can its saltines be restored? It is fit neither for the soil nor the manure pile; they throw it away” – Luke 14:34-35


When I think of salt, I think of the time I had made a cake where I had completely forgotten to add the salt. When I realized that I had forgotten the salt, my cake was already in the oven. I was hoping that the other major ingredients, such as the sugar, would help my struggling cake. Sadly, the sugar alone did not help my cake; it was bland and had no taste. I wanted to throw out my cake, which I hate doing when one considers the cost and time it took out of my day to make a cake. Salt is very important! It gives things taste and brings out the seasonings of other ingredients. Ingredients that would normally be dull on their own are given a whole new meaning with just a little salt. As disciples of Christ, could we be considered to be God’s ongoing cake recipe? God is in the process of molding us into the image He had always intended for humans through the example of His son. In order to make a good cake, God gives us time in order to become His perfect cake. I can somehow see how God must feel when He puts time and effort into individuals (because He can see their potential) who don’t turn into a wonderful cake. He must feel disappointed sometimes with us. Only He knows who must be thrown out because they lack certain ingredients or they have too many impurities which prevents them from being a disciple of Christ.


When I first read this passage, I thought of the church. Interestingly, the NRSV Study Bible makes a comment about salt. It says that this passage is “a warning against lackadaisical discipleship. “Lackadaisical” means to lack enthusiasm and thoroughness. The Study Bible continues to say that “Ancient salt was not pure sodium chloride, so the other material in the salt could go bad and cause the salt to be no good.” After I read this interesting note on this passage, I thought about how the other materials in the salt can make the salt go bad. Could Christ be referring to how we as disciples can make ourselves “go bad” because of the other materials that can influence us in our daily lives? We must be reminded of “Evil company corrupts good habits” (1 Cor15:33). It is important to be constantly reflecting on all outside influences and comparing its value system with that Bible, otherwise, those bad influences may affect our salvation. Israel had been punished and exiled to Babylon for mixing the God of Israel with the surrounding pagan gods. The value systems of those pagan gods were not the same as the God of Israel. Solomon in all of his great wisdom, amassed great wealth, wives and concubines from the pagan nations around Israel. Solomon’s wives (or company) turned his heart from following the true God (1 K11:1-8). Could Solomon have lost his saltiness? Will he be found amongst those at the first resurrection of those in Christ at Christ’s return? We will not know, however, believers can lose their salvation (Heb10:26-29; 2Pet2:20-22).


There is the possibility that believers can lose their saltiness and it is possible that it cannot be restored. Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling (Phi2:12). We must look at ourselves first and then decide if we have any unhealthy influences that may make us lose our saltiness. We must also look at our church. Is there any “material” that may prevent us from becoming more holy? How do church members speak of one another or even to those outside of the church? The bible says we should “speak evil of no one, to be peaceable, gentle, showing humility to all men” (Titus 3:2). It also says we should humbly correct others (2Tim2:25) and expose unfruitful works of darkness (Eph5:11). Find out what is “acceptable to the Lord” (Eph5:10) and do not lose your “saltiness.” In other words, do not lose your enthusiasm and thoroughness for the Word of God. Let’s be enthusiastic for God’s word and thorough for true doctrine that will give us peace, length of days and long life (Pro3:2). Pure salt gives us and others the strength to leave behind negative ways of thinking and acting that are not healthy to our spiritual and physical lives. We are the “salt of the earth” (Mt 5:13) to a dying world. We can give this world hope for a better life now and in the future, but only if we are truly salty. May God grant us the vision to throw away the things that can make us lose our saltiness.

July 27 2016 4 27 /07 /July /2016 22:34
The Eye is the lamp of the body

"Your eye is the lamp of your body. If your eye is healthy, your whole body is full of light; but if it is not healthy, your body is full of darkness" (Luke 11:34).

Bible (NRSV)

I think as I reflect on this passage today, it reminds me of many other passages that focus on overall wholesome holiness for the physical and spiritual body. "Be holy for I am holy" (1 Pet.1:15) taken from Leviticus 11:44 just after God explains what foods are clean for consumption and unclean for consumption. Peter uses this passage in Leviticus to describe how believers should be holy in their conduct and to not conform to "former lusts." The eye is a very special and powerful organ; it can cause us to sin, however it is not the only organ of course involved in the various sins of this world. Jesus says that "if your right eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell" (Matt. 5:29). Jesus also talks of cutting off the right hand as well, which should make everyone sit up straight in their chairs. Why would Jesus suggest something so extreme? Jesus wouldn't in fact ask me to literally pluck out my eyes and cut off my hand? It is not the actual eye, but the thing that is causing my eye to sin. The cause is the thing that I must cut in order to have a more powerful and fulfilling relationship with God the Father.

The eye is powerful; we use it to see our world and the various things that are in our world either for good or for bad. It must be said that if we didn't have eyes, we wouldn't know what we would be missing, however, God gave us eyes to see our world. Could God have known that humans would use their eyes to lust, to greed, or to think evil thought? I believe that it would be harder to lust after something that we can't see, however, these thoughts begin with the heart whether we have eyes or not (Matt.15:19). I believe that in the beginning, God made Adam and Eve perfect. They didn't know that they were naked, therefore, they could not use their eyes to lust after each other. It was only until after they ate of the fruit of the tree of good and evil did they see that they were naked and felt ashamed. Why the shame unless it was not because of evil thoughts for one another? Therefore, we are capable of seeing with our eyes in a healthy manner because the first humans were capable before the fall. We can look at our world without desiring everything we see because God has given us His laws and Christ, the light of the world to help us overcome. We can use our eyes to say that something is evil or good, healthy spiritually or physically for our body. Our eye is the first organ to start an alarm system, such as "Hey, be careful." If our eyes are unhealthy or bad, our eyes won't give us that first warning before the sickness of sin moves onto another part of the body to make our body sicker and sicker. Our iniquities can separate us from God, so that He will not hear our prayers (Is.59:1-2). If our eyes are healthy, the whole body is healthy. It is the same for the body of Christ; if one member suffers, we all suffer (1 Cor.12:14-17). Every part of the body of Christ is important.

Therefore, are we using our first defence organ properly? Are we listening to what our eye has to tell us? Healthy eyes will make for a healthy body. The eye is the lamp of our body and it must "shine before men, so that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven" (Matt. 5:16). The health of our body is dependent on our eyes. How does our body reflect the health of our eye? Does our body have self-inflicted marks? If our body does have self-inflicted marks, reflect on why you decided to place marks on your body. Does our body partake of ungodly activities or pleasures? Does our body have addictions that we cannot cut? Reflection on God’s word and prayer can help us to truly see the spiritual health of our bodies and lives. If we are willingly, God will open doors in order to help us escape our addictions, but first, let us first examine our eyes in order to determine the overall health of our body!

April 24 2014 5 24 /04 /April /2014 12:16

There is different ways to translate Psalm 45:6 and to understand Hebrews 1:8 in connection with this Old Testament passage as a result. This can be seen in the picture below, a screenshot from five different translations and their footnotes taken from Bible Gateway. 

Psalm 45-6


Hebrews 1:8 is not about the Messiah (or Christ), Yeshua, being God at all. This is about the Davidic king sitting on God's throne. Remember, this an excerpt from Psalm 45:6.

Yes, the KJV renders it as "Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: the sceptre of thy kingdom is a right sceptre" (Psalm 45:6). But as written in the Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges:

"In view of these difficulties it is necessary to consider whether the words are correctly translated. Various other renderings have been proposed, taking Elohim as the subject or predicate of the clause instead of as a vocative. (a) God is thy throne: i.e. thy kingdom is founded upon God. In support of this are quoted such phrases as “Jehovah is my refuge and my fortress” (Psalm 91:2), or, “The eternal God is thy dwelling-place” (Deuteronomy 33:27). But the expression, to say the least, would be a strange one. (b) Thy throne is God, i.e. divine. But though Hebrew uses substantives as predicates in a way which our idiom does not allow, this particular instance seems scarcely admissible. (c) Thy throne [is the throne of] God (R.V. marg.). It is a disputed point whether this rendering is grammatically legitimate; but good authorities decide in the affirmative. It gives an excellent sense, and if the text is to be retained is the most satisfactory explanation of it. The theocratic king occupied the earthly throne of Jehovah as His representative (1 Chronicles 28:5; 1 Chronicles 29:23), ruling by His power (1 Kings 3:28), and in His Name; and the justice of this king’s government (6 b, 7) stamps him as a worthy representative of Jehovah." 


Jesus Christ is not God and never was, but he is the Messiah, appointed by God in the kingly office of ruler on God's behalf.


Praise be to God, His Father and Our Father.

In Jesus Christ's name.

Published by Sabbath Keeper - in Trinité -Trinity
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April 2 2014 4 02 /04 /April /2014 11:26

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December 12 2013 5 12 /12 /December /2013 16:07

Hebrew Yahveh


If you’ve ever ventured to do any sort of Biblical research or so much as looked up a word in a concordance, you’ve more than likely stumbled upon the Hebrew word elohim (אלהים). There is a great deal of misinformation being spread about this word. The goal of this article is to clear up the confusion about elohim and reveal its origin, meaning, and usage in the Hebrew Scriptures.


For those who don’t have the slightest clue what elohim means, we will start by defining it according to the Strong’s Concordance:


Strong’s H430 – אֱלֹהִים


[1] (plural)

a)rulers, judges

b)divine ones



[2] (plural intensive – singular meaning)

a)god, goddess

b)godlike one

c)works or special possessions of God

d)the (true) God



As you can see, elohim is used of everything from false gods to mighty men, but most often it is used of YHWH, the God of Yisra’el. It is the plural form of eloah (אֱלוֹהַּ) and makes its debut in the Hebrew Bible in Genesis 1:1, which reads:


Literal English: In-beginning he-created God, the-heavens and the-earth.


In this verse (and many others) elohim is modified by a singular verb (this case, bara). Due to this fact, a myriad of Trinitarian apologists have used this as an argument for their erroneous assumption that YHWH is “3 in 1. Their all-time favorite “proof text” for this argument is Genesis 1:26which reads:


Then God said, ‘Let usmake man in ourimage, after ourlikeness…’


Since elohim refers to himself in the plural “us” and “our”, Trinitarians jump to the conclusion that there must be a plurality in YHWH, thus proving the trinity to be true. This, however, shows how ignorant they are of the Hebrew language. No Hebrew grammarian would dare make such an asinine claim! YHWH is refered to over 20,000 times in the Tanakh with singular pronouns. Not to mention the hundreds of passages speaking of the uniqueness of YHWH (there are too many to quote here) and most importantly, the Sh’ma (Deuteronomy 6:4).


The passages which YHWH elohim speaks of himself in plural number a measly four. That’s right, only four. Those are: Genesis 1:26, 3:22, 11:7, and Isaiah 6:8. Although, YHWH is not the only singular being in Scripture to have been given a title of plurality. Here are a few examples among many:

1. Behemoth (plural of behemah, “beast”) is modified by the singular verb yokhalhe eats” in Job 40:15. Behemoth, though plural, is one creature and an extremely mighty creature at that (Job 40:16-24).


2. King Artaxerxes of Persia, in his follow-up letter to the Jews, said “the letter which you sent to us has been plainly read before me” (Ezra 4:18). Artaxerxes is one man, a mighty man, a king.


3. YHWH said to Mosheh, “I will make you a god to Pharaoh” in Exodus 7:1. The word for “god” is elohim. Mosheh was a man, not an army, yet he was given the title of elohim.


4. The father if the Hittites called Avraham his lord (adoni) and elohim (mighty one) in Genesis 23:6. Was Avraham more than one? No.


5. The pagan deities Ba’al, Dagon, and Chemosh are all called elohim (Judges 6:31, 1 Samuel 5:7, Judges 11:24), though we know they are individually only one god, not a pantheon or “Godhead”.


This concept of assigning a plural pronoun such as “we” to a single entity is the “Majestic Plural”. It is used to ascribe glory and honor to the one (or thing) to which it is mentioning. Not only is it used of mighty beasts, kings, and gods, but it’s also used of non-sentient nouns. One example is Genesis 4:10. When Cain slew Abel, the Hebrew literally says “your brother’s bloods cry up from the ground”. This is to show the severity of Cain’s actions. Likewise, in Ezekiel 25 YHWH says that because the Philistines took vengeance (verse 15) he will execute vengeance upon them (verse 17). However, YHWH’s vengeance in verse 17 is plural; denoting that the vengeances he inflicts will be much more severe and complete.


The renowned Hebraist, Wilhelm Gesenius remarked in page 399 of his work Gesenius’ Hebrew Grammar concerning the Majestic Plural:


That the language has entirely rejected the idea of numerical plurality in אֱלֹהִים(whenever it denotes one God), is proved especially by its being almost invariably joined with a singular attribute (cf. § I32 h), e.g. אֱלֹהִים צַדִּֽיק ψ 710, &c. Hence אֱלֹהִים may have been used originally not only as a numerical but also as an abstract plural (corresponding to the Latin numen, and our Godhead), and, like other abstracts of the same kind, have been transferred to a concrete single god (even of the heathen).”


There you have it. Whenever elohim is referring to a singular God (e.g. YHWH) it is abundantly clear that the idea of there being a plurality or a “uni-plurality” (as the Trinitarians put it) is totally foreign to the Hebrew language. Such claims are merely cheap tactics meant to circumvent and explain away the text rather than address it head on. So once again the central truth of Scripture stands firm:


Listen Yisra’el! YHWH your God, YHWH is ONE.

Isaiah 43:10 - You are My witnesses, declares יהוה, And My servant whom I have chosen, so that you know and believe Me, and understand that I am He. Before Me there was no El formed, nor after Me there is none.

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December 12 2013 5 12 /12 /December /2013 15:09

Hebrew Yahveh


Sh’ma Yisra’el YHWH eloheinu YHWH echad.

Listen Israel! YHWH your God, YHWH is one.


This verse, Deuteronomy 6:4 is the central creed of Judaism and the most important commandment according to our Messiah Yeshua (Jesus Christ) (Read Mark 12:28-29). There has been a great deal of controversy surrounding this verse ever since the Binity (later the Trinity) became the accepted Christology in Christendom in the 3rd century AD.


The point of contention is the Hebrew word echad. Binitarians, Trinitarians and Modalists alike argue that the Hebrew word echad, in this immediate context, denotes a “uni-plurality” (multiple personas in one entity), but is this truth or merely biased assumption? For clarity’s sake, we will examine the hundreds of occurrences of echad in the Torah (around 400 in all) and the many ways they are used in the Hebrew text.


This is what we read in the entry for echad found in Genesius’ Hebrew and Chaldee Lexicon:






Below you will find listed and will be given a link to every verse in the Torah that contains the word echad.  Each verse is color coded to match its function and usage in the Hebrew text. Since the numerical usages of echad are vast and self-explanatory, we will be focusing primarily on the few verses left to interpretation by Binitarians, Trinitarians and Modalists.



Echad as an ordinal

Echad as a numeral

Echad as a unity



Genesis 1:5, 9, 2:11, 21, 24, 3:22, 4:19, 8:5, 13, 10:25, 11:1, 6, 19:9, 21:15, 22:2, 26:10, 27:38, 44-45, 29:20, 32:8, 22, 33:13, 34:16, 22, 37:9, 20, 40:5, 41:5, 11, 22, 25-26, 42:11, 13, 16, 19, 27, 32-33, 44:28, 48:22, 49:16.


Exodus 1:15, 8:31, 9:6-7, 10:19, 11:1, 12:18, 46, 49, 14:28, 16:22, 33, 17:12, 18:3-4, 23:29, 24:3, 25:12, 19, 32-33, 36, 26:2, 4-6, 8, 10-11, 16-17, 19, 21, 24-26, 27:9, 28:10, 17, 29:1, 3, 15, 23, 39-40, 30:10, 33:5, 36:9-13, 15, 18, 21-22, 24, 26, 29-31, 37:3, 8, 18-19, 22, 39:10, 40:2, 17.


Leviticus 4:2, 13, 22, 27, 5:4-5, 7, 13, 17, 6:3, 7, 7:7, 14, 8:26, 12:8, 13:2, 14:5, 10, 12, 21-22, 30-31, 50, 15:15, 30, 16:5, 8, 34, 22:28, 23:18-19, 24, 24:5, 22, 48, 26:26.


Numbers 1:1, 18, 41, 44, 2:16, 28, 6:11, 14, 19, 7:3, 11, 13-16, 19-22, 25-28, 31-34, 37-40, 43-46, 49-52, 55-58, 61-64, 67-70, 73-76, 79-82, 85, 8:12, 9:14, 10:4, 11:19, 26, 13:2, 23, 14:15, 15:5, 11-12, 15-16, 24, 27, 29, 16:15, 22, 17:3, 6, 28:4, 7, 11-13, 15, 19, 21-22, 27-30, 29:1-2, 4-5, 8-11, 14-16, 19, 22, 25, 28, 31, 3436, 38, 31:28, 30, 34, 39, 47, 33:38, 34:18, 35:30, 36:3, 8.


Deuteronomy 1:2-3, 23, 4:42, 6:4, 12:14, 13:12, 15:7, 16:5, 17:2, 6, 18:6, 19:5, 11, 15, 21:15, 23:1624:5, 25:5, 11, 28:7, 25, 55, 32:30.


Each one of the verses listed in blue uses echad as the numeral one or eleven (one + ten), so there’s no point in splitting hairs over them. Similarly, the green verses use echad as the ordinal one (i.e., first), which cannot possibly denote a unity. The orange verses use echad ambiguously, while the red verses clearly denote a unified whole; these last two groups will be the subject of our investigation.


Genesis 2:24

So, as we see, there is no other Elohim (Mighty One) aside from YHWH. He is the only true Elohim, aside from him there is no other. Notice the constant usage of singular pronouns (I, he, himme). YHWH only refers to himself in plural pronouns when he is speaking to his malakhim (angels) (Genesis 1:26, 3:22, 11:7; Isaiah 6:8), every other time (about 20,000 times) he refers to himself in singular pronouns. And the reason for it is that he is one and ONLY one. That is the plain and simple reading of the text. Other explanations have to bypass the text and ignore the grammar altogether.

Genesis 29:14, Judges 9:2, and 2 Samuel 19:12 all use basar (בשר) to mean one’s kindred or flesh and bone. The Trinitarian assumption is that if man and woman are echad in marriage, therefore three beings can all be echad, yet still maintain independently the attributes of each being “fully God” without being three gods.

The problem with this line of reasoning is that man and woman, though echad in purpose, are still two separate beings. A husband is not his wife and vice-versa. Husband and wife are neither “co-equal” nor “co-eternal”. They are one family. A man and woman come together to make a child, which is their flesh and bone.


Genesis 11:1

What do we know from this verse? At one point in time everyone spoke the same language, not a “uni-plurality” of languages. Otherwise, verse 7 makes no sense. You simply can’t confuse their language if they speak different languages.


Genesis 11:6

Here YHWH is speaking to his malakhim (messengers or angels) about those building the tower at Babel. The people are am echad(one people) united in purpose and are of shaphah achat (one lip), meaning that they speak one language, not a unified multiplicity of languages. Therefore, YHWH says to his malakhim in the next verse: “Come, let us go down, and there confuse their language”. They spoke one singular language. There are some who would use the “us” of verse 7 to support a belief in a “uni-plural Godhead,” when it is instead a majestic plural.


Genesis 27:44

Here again echad has the masculine plural imsuffix. Contrary to popular belief, this does not make echad plural. Once again, this is a majestic plural; a numerically plural noun receives a plural suffix, verb, and adjective. Since yom (day) in this verse is in the plural form and echad (one) modifies yamim, therefore echadmust take on the plural suffix.


Genesis 29:20

The same principle holds true for this verse. Echadim(ones) is modifying k‘yamim (as-days); As Gesenius noted: This grammatical structure is equivalent to “a few days”. A grammatically plural adjective is modifying a plural noun.


Genesis 34:16

After Shechem the Hivite raped Jacob’s daughter Dinah (Genesis 34:1-2), the sons of Jacob deceitfully agreed to a treaty of sorts with S’khem and his people (Genesis 34:13-16); that, if they would all receive circumcision then Jacob and his people would dwell therein with Shechem and become l’am echad (one people). In context, this is not a “uni-plurality”, rather numerically one (Genesis 34:20-23). In layman’s terms, they would assimilate into one another, making a new nation.


Exodus 24:3

This is one of only three times in the Torah that echadis unambiguously used as a unified whole. However, it does not indicate a literal unity in persons, rather a unity in voice. For, “all the people answered with one voice, and said, ‘All the words which YHWH has spoken we will do’ ”. Each person had their own mouth and their own tongue, and they were not speaking with one mouth and one tongue.


Exodus 26:11

YHWH commands Moses to make fifty bronze clasps, to put the clasps into the loops, and to “couple the tent together that it may be one.” This is clearly not a quantity, rather a literal unified whole. Although it is not “uni-plural”, because the two curtains are to literally become one giant, interconnected curtain.


Deuteronomy 6:4

Finally, we come to the central verse for which this word study revolves around. The question is, does the word echad leave room for a “uni-plurality” or should we understand it to be an absolute singularity? Seeing that only 3 of about 300 or more verses in Torah clearly denote a unity, it would no doubt be a stretch of imagination to believe this echadto mean a “uni-plurality”, much less a trinity.

In fact, there is a great number of verses from the Tanakh that show the clear, absolute, and indisputable singularity of YHWH:


Deuteronomy 32:12

Literally: YHWH alone he-is-guiding-him and-there-is-no with-him El-of foreigner.


Deuteronomy 32:39

Literally: see-you! now that I, I he and-there-is-no Elohim with-me I, I-am-putting-to-death and-I-am-making-alive I-transfixed and-I, I-shall-heal and-there-is-no from-hand-of-me one-rescuing.


2 Kings 19:19

Literally: and-now YHWH Elohim-of-us save-you-us! please! from-hand-of-him and-they-shall-know all-of kingdoms-of the-earth that you YHWH Elohim to-alone-of-you.


Isaiah 43:10-11

Literally: you witnesses-of-me averment-of YHWH and-servant-of-me whom I-choose so-that you-shall-know and-you-shall-believe to-me and-you-shall-understand that I he to-faces-of-me not he-was-formed El and-after-me not he-shall become. I, I YHWH and-there-is-no from-apart-from-me one-saving.


Isaiah 44:6,8

Literally: thus he-says YHWH king-of Israel and-one-redeeming-of-him YHWH-of hosts I first and-I last and-from-apart-from-me there-is-no Elohim. Must-not-be you-are-being-afraid and-must-not-be you-are-fearing ?-not from-then I-announced-you and-I-told and-you witnesses-of-me ?-there-is Eloah from-apart-from-me and-there-is-no rock no I-know.


Isaiah 45:21-22

Literally: tell-you! and-bring-close-you! indeed they-shall-be-consulted together who-? he-announced this from-aforetime from-then he-told-her ?-not I YHWH and-there-is-no further Elohim from-apart-from-me El righteous and-one-saving there-is-no except-me. Face-about-you! to-me and-be-saved-you! all-of limits-of earth that I El and-there-is-no further.


Hosea 13:4

Literally: And-I YHWH Elohim-of-you from-land-of Egypt and-Elohim except-me not you-shall-know and-one-saving there-is-no unless-I.


Malachi 2:10

Literally: ?-not father one to-all-of-us ?-not El one he-created-us for-what-reason we-are-being-treacherous man in-brother-of-him to-to-profane-of covenant-of fathers-of-us.


So, as we see, there is no other Elohim (Mighty One) aside from YHWH. He is the only true Elohim, aside from him there is no other. Notice the constant usage of singular pronouns (I, he, himme). YHWH only refers to himself in plural pronouns when he is speaking to his malakhim (angels) (Genesis 1:26, 3:22, 11:7; Isaiah 6:8), every other time (about 20,000 times) he refers to himself in singular pronouns. And the reason for it is that he is one and ONLY one. That is the plain and simple reading of the text. Other explanations have to bypass the text and ignore the grammar altogether.

Published by Sabbath Keeper - in Trinité -Trinity
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November 23 2013 7 23 /11 /November /2013 21:00

Unless otherwise noted, all scripture quotations are from the New King James Version

Birthday celebrations are a big part of our Western culture: birthday cakes and gifts are part of this tradition. But what has God to say about it? Is it only innocent fun? Does it really matter what we do as followers of Christ in such occasions, in other words can we choose to celebrate it or not as part of our so-called “Christian liberty”? In this essay we will endeavor to answer those questions by looking at the Word of God, but also what early Church history and what first century Judaism (Jesus/Yeshua was a first century Jew) has to say about this topic. Finally, we will take a brief look at ancient customs associated with birthday celebrations.

Birthdays in the Bible


Birthday celebrations are not often mentioned in the Scriptures; in fact throughout the whole Protestant canon of the Bible there is only two direct mentions made of birthday celebrations. We will also see another couple of places, where some scholars believe mentions are made of birthday celebrations.




Salome with the head of John the Baptist by Hans Baldung Grien


The first account in the Protestant canon of Bible is found in Genesis 40:1-23. In verse 20, we read: “Now it came to pass on the third day, which was Pharaoh’s birthday, that he made a feast for all his servants; and he lifted up the head of the chief butler and of the chief baker among his servants.” The second account is found in the Gospels. In Matthew 14:6, we read: “But when Herod's [Antipas, who reigned from 6 AD to 39 AD] birthday was kept, the daughter of Herodias danced before them, and pleased Herod”. And in Mark 6:21 the following is said: “And when a convenient day was come, that Herod on his birthday made a supper to his lords, high captains, and chief estates of Galilee.” During this birthday feast, John the Baptist was tragically beheaded.


In those passages of the Scriptures, we see two powerful men celebrating their birthday with great pomp.  This is consistent with what we know of Ancient Middle Eastern history and customs. The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia states: “The custom of observing birthdays of great men, especially of kings, was widespread in ancient times.” The Smith's Bible Dictionary agrees: “The custom of observing birthdays is very ancient; Genesis 40:20; Jeremiah 20:15 and in Job 1:4 etc., we read that Job's sons "feasted every one his day." In Persia birthdays were celebrated with peculiar honors and banquets, and in Egypt those of the king were kept with great pomp.


The book of 2 Maccabees gives us another account of birthday celebration. Although not found in the Protestant canon of the Bible, the book of 2 Maccabees was originally used by Alexandrian Jews as part of their canon of Scriptures called the Septuagint. The authors of the New Testament were quoting from the Septuagint in their writings. The book of 2 Maccabees is still considered canonical by the Catholics, the Eastern Orthodox tradition, the Assyrian Eastern tradition and most of the Western Orthodox tradition. It is considered non-canonical by Protestants and modern Jews. Still, both Protestants and modern Jews consider this book from interest on an historical level. This is how we will use this book in this essay. Concerning birthday celebrations, we read an interesting account in 2 Maccabees 6:1-9.


Not long after this, the king sent an Athenian senator to compel the Jews to forsake the laws of their ancestors and no longer to live by the laws of God; also to pollute the temple in Jerusalem and to call it the temple of Olympian Zeus, and to call the one in Gerizim the temple of Zeus-the-Friend-of-Strangers, as did the people who lived in that place. Harsh and utterly grievous was the onslaught of evil. For the temple was filled with debauchery and reveling by the Gentiles, who dallied with prostitutes and had intercourse with women within the sacred precincts, and besides brought in things for sacrifice that were unfit. The altar was covered with abominable offerings that were forbidden by the laws. People could neither keep the sabbath, nor observe the festivals of their ancestors, nor so much as confess themselves to be Jews. On the monthly celebration of the king’s BIRTHDAY, the Jews were taken, under bitter constraint, to partake of the sacrifices; and when a festival of Dionysus was celebrated, they were compelled to wear wreaths of ivy and to walk in the procession in honor of Dionysus. At the suggestion of the people of Ptolemais a decree was issued to the neighboring Greek cities that they should adopt the same policy toward the Jews and make them partake of the sacrifices, and should kill those who did not choose to change over to Greek customs

- New Revised Standard Version


In this passage of 2 Maccabees, we learn of a pagan king, Antiochus IV Epiphanes, who desecrates the Temple by false worship, sexual immorality and unclean sacrifices. He also forbid Jews to keep God’s commandments and obliges them to partake in idol worship, including celebrating his birthday once a month.


As we have read earlier, birthday of great men were celebrated in ancient times. This was part of what we would call today cult of personality. In fact, many Greek and Roman leaders were worshipped as gods. Antiochus IV Epiphanes was one of those Greek leaders claiming to be a god. Concerning Egyptian Pharaohs, the Ancient History Encyclopedia states that they “were equated with the gods and with the duties and obligations due those gods. As supreme ruler of the people, the pharaoh was considered a god on earth, the intermediary between the gods and the people, and when he died, he was thought to become Osiris, the god of the dead.” Celebrating their birthday was a form of worship.


As for Herod Antipas in Matthew 14:6 and Mark 6:21, it is certainly with the same spirit and because of the same cult of personality that he was celebrating his birthday. In fact, one of his nephews Herod Agrippa on one instance at least is depicted as being worshipped as a god. “So on a set day Herod [Agrippa, who reigned from 41 to 44 AD], arrayed in royal apparel, sat on his throne and gave an oration to them. And the people kept shouting, “The voice of a god and not of a man!” Then immediately an angel of the Lord struck him, because he did not give glory to God. And he was eaten by worms and died” (Acts 12:21-23).


We find two more mentions of possible birthday celebrations in the Scriptures. One is found in Hosea 7:5, in which we read: “In the day of our king
Princes have made him sick, inflamed with wine;
He stretched out his hand with scoffers.” According to Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible and Wesley's Notes, this passage can possibly refer to a birthday celebration or an annual coronation celebration. In any cases, this is associated with drunkenness and ungodly behaviors. The other instance is found in Job 1:4-5.

And his sons would go and feast in their houses, each on his appointed day, and would send and invite their three sisters to eat and drink with them. So it was, when the days of feasting had run their course, that Job would send and sanctify them, and he would rise early in the morning and offer burnt offerings according to the number of them all. For Job said, “It may be that my sons have sinned and cursed God in their hearts.” Thus Job did regularly.”


A number of commentators believe that “each on his appointed day” is to be understood as mentioning birthday celebrations.  This is the case for the Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary, the Clarke's Commentary on the Bible and also for the Smith's Bible Dictionary. The Pulpit Commentary reads:


Verse 4. - And his sons went and feasted. "Went and feasted" seems to mean "were in the habit of feasting" (Rosenmuller, Lee). In their houses. Each had his own residence, and the residence was not a tent, but a" house." Job and his sons were not mere nomads, but belonged to the settled population. The same is implied by the "ploughing of the oxen" (ver. 14), and indeed by Job's "yoke of oxen" in ver. 3. Every one his day. Most commentators regard these feasts as birthday festivities. Each son in his turn, when his birthday arrived, entertained his six brothers. Others think that each of the seven brothers had his own special day of the week on which, he received his brothers at his table, so that the feasting was continuous. But this scarcely suits the context. And it is admitted that "his day" (in Job 3:1) means "his birthday." The celebration of birthdays by means of a feast was a very widespread custom in the East (see Genesis 40:20; Herod., 1:133; 9:110; Mark 14:21). And sent and called for their three sisters to eat and to drink with them. This by itself is sufficient to show that the feasts were occasional, not continuous. Constant absence of daughters, day after day, from the parental board is inconceivable.”


If these are birthday celebrations, as those commentators believe, we notice that Job wasn’t taking part into those feast days. He would rather “send and sanctify them, and he would rise early in the morning and offer burnt offerings according to the number of them all. For Job said, “It may be that my sons have sinned and cursed God in their hearts” (verse 5).


As we have seen so far in those passages, birthday celebrations and/or personal feast days are essentially the fact of self-deified rulers and if they are not, as in the case of Job’s children, they may potentially result in sin.


First century Judaism and early Christian history on birthdays


Now that we have studied the several instances in which the Scriptures mention birthday celebrations, let see if first century Judaism and early Christian history has anything to teach us about such celebrations. We ought to remember that Jesus (Yeshua in Hebrew) was a Jew, which makes it relevant for us to know what was first century Jewish view, and subsequently early Christian belief, in regard to such celebrations.


In fact, first century Judaism is not silent on the subject. Josephus (37 to 100 AD), a Jewish scholar and historian born in Jerusalem to a father of priestly descent wrote about birthday celebrations in his two-volume work in defense of Judaism titled Against Apion. In book II and chapter 26, we read:


Nay, indeed, the law does not permit us to make festivals at the births of our children, and thereby afford occasion of drinking to excess; but it ordains that the very beginning of our education should be immediately directed to sobriety. It also commands us to bring those children up in learning, and to exercise them in the laws, and make them acquainted with the acts of their predecessors, in order to their imitation of them, and that they might be nourished up in the laws from their infancy, and might neither transgress them, nor have any pretense for their ignorance of them.”




A bust of the Jewish historian Flavius Josephus


The Jewish Encyclopedia somehow agrees when stating: “There are no positive data in the Bible or in rabbinical literature concerning birthday festivals among the ancient Jews. This silence on the subject is, however, no warrant for the conclusion that the Jews altogether abstained from following a custom which was general among the Egyptians (Gen. xl. 20), Persians (Herodotus i. 133), Syrians, and Greeks. Even if not common among the people, yet kings and princes probably practiced it, following the custom of their heathen contemporaries.” Here we learn that birthday celebrations were not common among the people and were in fact borrowed from the heathens when practiced by kings and princes. In the Encyclopaedia Judaica, we read: “The celebration of birthdays is unknown in traditional Jewish ritual. A comparatively late exception, however, is the *bar mitzvah and the bat mitzvah. The only reference to a birthday in the Bible is that celebrated by Pharaoh (Gen. 40:20). In Reform and Conservative synagogues, special prayers of thanksgiving are recited on the occasion of significant birthdays (e.g., 50th, 70th, 80th, etc.) and at silver and golden wedding anniversaries.” In modern times, the topic of birthday celebrations is somewhat of a controversy in Judaism. While many Jews celebrate birthdays, some like Rabbi Chaim Elazar Shapiro (1871-1937) find no mention of such celebrations in rabbinic literature and believe that such celebrations is antithetical to “the Jewish trait of humility.”


Since early Christianity was still closely connected to first century Judaism, we should not be surprised to find birthday celebrations mentioned in a negative way. Indeed, in The Westminster Handbook to Origen (2004) edited by John Anthony McGuckin, we read :


“[w]hen commenting on Herod’s birthday as mentioned in Matthew 14:6, Origen castigates those who revel in their birthdays and recalls a Philonic text [Philo being a Hellenistic Jewish] that he had once read (De ebriatate 208): “Indeed one of our predecessors has observed that the birthday of Pharaoh is recorded in Genesis and recounts that it is the wicked man who, being in love with the affairs of birth and becoming, celebrates his birthday. But we, taking our cue from that interpreter, discover that nowhere in the scriptures is a birthday celebrated by a righteous person.”


Origen was a scholar and early Christian theologian (185 to 232 AD) who wrote a number of commentaries on the Bible and had a great influence on early Christianity. Another early Christian apologist, Arnobius of Sicca (284 to 305 AD) wrote, visibly holding in contempt birthday celebrations and speaking of Roman leaders: “Who, with licentious violence, undermine and wrest away the chastity of matrons and maidens, - these men you name indigites and divi; and you worship with couches, altars, temples, and other service, and by celebrating their games and birthdays, those whom it was fitting that you should assail with keenest hatred” (Against the Heathen. Book I, Chapter 64).


While we might disagree with first century Judaism in regard to the Messiah, while we might not agree with all that was written by early Christian commentators and apologists, those quotations still give us a fair idea of what was the New Testament writers view on birthday celebrations.

Birthdays and paganism


The reasons for the first century Jews and early Christian believers to not celebrate birthdays are not to be found only in their understanding of the Scriptures, but are also to be understood in correlation with the pagan customs associated with birthday celebrations. According to Kathryn Argetsinger in her research titled Birthday Rituals: Friends and Patrons in Roman Poetry and Cult (Classical Antiquity, 1992), the “people of late republican Rome celebrated at least three types of dies natales. In the private sphere, Roman men and women marked their own birthdays and the birthdays of family members and friends with gift giving and banquets. In the public sphere, the natales of temples and the natales of cities were observed; these “birthdays” were actually the anniversaries of the days on which particular cults, or cities, had been founded.”  Each of these types of birthdays was accompanied with religious rituals. According to the same authors, each private birthday was linked to a personal deity to whom an individual would make an offering in exchange for protection. Kathryn Argetsinger affirms in her research: “[W]hen relatives, friends, or clients celebrated a relative or patron’s birthday, they were bound, if they were truly pious, by the same sort of specific cult requirement as they were on their own birthdays.” Birthday greetings were religious acts accompanied by three type of offerings made to an idol or to the “genius” [the guardian spirit of a person] of an individual: incense, rituals cakes, and wine (Does that sound familiar?). Some ancient sources cited by the author seem to refer to the “genius” as being “some internal part of the self,” part of “a man as well as well as an external deity.” They were some “sort of ego extension into the divine sphere.”  The Roman poet Horace, in one of his writings, Ode 4.11, reports going as far as sacrificing a lamb on one occasion for the birthday of his patron Maecenas. The author concludes: “In undertaking celebration of another’s birthday a Roman undertook in part a religious obligation expressed by annually renewed vota [wishes] and ritual,” and “through this act of piety a Roman gained a new network of divine as well as earthly friends and patrons.”


Lares - genius familiaries


Mural from Pompeii. Domestic sacrifice with a genius familiaris and Lares (household gods).

Naples: National Museum. Lares are represented on the left and on the right, top level.


Such belief is not exclusive to Romans. In their book titled The Lore of Birthdays (1952), Ralph and Adelin Linton, gives a brief look at the history of birthday celebrations: “The Greeks believed that everyone had a protective spirit or daemon who attended his birth and watched over him in life. This spirit had a mystic relation with the god on whose birthday the individual was born.”  Furthermore, in the same book we read:


“[T]he idea [of birthday greetings and wishes for happiness] was rooted in magic. The working of spells for good and evil is the chief usage of witchcraft. One is especially susceptible to such spells on his birthday, as one’s personal spirits are about at that time. Dreams dreamed on the birthday eve should be remembered, for they are predictions of the future brought by the guardian spirits which hover over one’s bed on the birthday eve. Birthday greetings have power for good or ill because one is closer to the spirit world on this day. Good wishes bring good fortune, but the reverse is also true, so one should avoid enemies on one’s birthday and be surrounded only by well-wishers. ‘Happy birthday’ and ‘Many happy returns of the day’ are the traditional greetings




Birthdays are intimately linked with the stars, since without the calendar, no one could tell when to celebrate his birthday. They are also indebted to the stars in another way, for in early days the chief importance of birthday records was to enable the astrologers to chart horoscopes


By reading those descriptions of pagan birthday celebrations, we better understand why the early believers would refrain from celebrating them. Such celebrations are highly connected with pagan worship and even the occult.  Looking back at those ancient beliefs, this is no surprise that a very controversial individual, Anton Lavey (founder of the Church of Satan), writes in his book titled The Satanic Bible (1969): “After one’s own birthday, the two major Satanic holidays are Walpurgisnacht and Halloween (or All Hallows’ Eve).”  Of course, Anton Lavey has a different take on birthdays. He merely sees birthdays as glorification of oneself: “Every man is a god if he chooses to recognize himself as one. So, the Satanist celebrates his own birthday as the most important holiday of the year.” For ancient civilizations, birthday celebrations were rather a way to connect with the gods and with the society at large. In any case, both self-glorification and worship of personal gods is condemned in the Bible.


On a side note, it should of interest for believers that the Scriptures do not mention the date of birth of the greatest man who ever lived, the Messiah Yeshua (Jesus Christ). It shows how unimportant it was for early Christians the date of someone birth in a world in which gods, kings and even common people were celebrating their birthdays in a religious manner. In fact, concerning December 25th, and according to M. J. Vermaseren; C. C. Van Essen in their essay titled The Excavations in the Mithraeum of the Church of Santa Prisca on the Aventine (Journal of Biblical Literature. 1966): "One should bear in mind that the Mithraic New Year began on Natalis Invicti, the birthday of their invincible god, i.e. December 25th, when the new light […] appears from the vault of heaven."


What should a believer do?


The Bible does not condemn acknowledging someone’s age. In fact, the Bible makes a connection between age and wisdom. In Proverbs 9:11, we read: “For by Wisdom your days will be many, and years will be added to your life” (Holman Christian Standard Bible). Life is a gift of our Heavenly Father, for which we should rejoice everyday of our life. “By You I have been upheld from birth; You are He who took me out of my mother’s womb. My praise shall be continually of You” (Psalm 71:6). In the meantime, the Bible does not encourage self-glorification. On the contrary the Bible teaches humility and self-denial. In Matthew 16:24, Jesus Christ said to the disciples: “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.” Paul agrees, who wrote: “Therefore, brethren, we are debtors—not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. For if you live according to the flesh you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God” (Romans 8:12-14). By showing love towards God and towards our neighbors and by denying ourselves we become children of God. In our individualistic society, this is so important to feel recognized. Many people will feel offended because they were not wished a “happy birthday” or because they didn’t receive the expected gift on their birthday. Meanwhile, the Bible tells us “[i]t is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35).

Another important aspect of birthday celebrations to consider is the pagan customs associated with those celebrations. The Bible warns us strongly against pagan customs and against mixing the proper worship of God with ungodly practices. This is true not only in the Tanakh, the Old Testament, but also in the apostolic writings.  In 2 Corinthians 6:14-16, we read: “And what communion has light with darkness? And what accord has Christ with Belial? Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever? And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For you are the temple of the living God.” Some customs and traditions may seems innocuous, but God gives us clear boundaries stones so that we may not fall back into sin after having become one of his children. We need to remember whom we worship and from whom we are receiving a true and genuine gift: “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning” (James 1:17). We ought to have a discerning spirit and to be cautious in our deeds, including how and why we do celebrate birthdays. We need to remember who is our God so that we can remain holy. Therefore, let’s “[c]ome out from among them and be separate” and God “will be a Father to [us],” and we “shall be [His] sons and daughters” (2 Corinthians 6:17-18) says the Scriptures. Amen!

Published by Sabbath Keeper - in Babylon-Babylone
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