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Passover Preparations: Removing the Leaven from Our Hearts and Homes

The week before Passover has always been a very special week for the people of Israel. It is the time when all of Israel was searching out to find the perfect, spotless lamb for Passover. It was a time of inner reflection — both on the past and coming year. Where did I fall short this past year? How can I do better in the coming year?

It is a time for reflection as we clean out the leaven from our homes and hearts. It is a somber time when the reality of our sins becomes more real as we select the perfect lamb to offer in atonement for our sins.

In Biblical days, the lamb would spend this final week of Passover preparations with the family who had selected it. He would eat, sleep, and essentially become part of the family. This was an important part of the Passover preparations because it made the consequences of sin more tangible for them. When you have to see the living creature that will be a substitute for you, it becomes clearer that your actions have consequences and the way you think about your decisions begins to change.

The Passover lamb was selected to be a substitute in exchange for us. When we sin, that sin must be removed from our lives before we can draw close to God again. But in order to remove that sin, a price must be paid. YHVH created a system whereby the debt caused by our sin could be paid for with the life of an animal. Think back to Adam and Eve in the Garden. When Adam and Eve disobeyed YHVH, they brought sin into the Garden and their eyes were opened to their nakedness. The Word tells us that YHVH then fashioned clothes for them out of animal skins in order to cover their nakedness – the first animal who died in exchange for a human’s sin.

This is the same concept behind the Passover lamb. The angel of death in Egypt passed over the doorposts which had the blood of the lamb, thereby giving the first-borns mercy and allowing them to live. Fast forward 2,000 years and its clear to see that Yeshua was the Passover lamb Who was our substitute so we also could have life despite our sins.

When you realize that another living creature must act as a substitute to cover your sins, it causes you to be more cautious and intentional in your decisions. It becomes a deterrence from having sin in your life.

Today, without a working Temple in Jerusalem, there is no Passover lamb that is offered for our sins. However, we still clean out our hearts and homes from the leaven within.

In Hebrew, the word chametz is used to describe something that has been leavened. Chametz is anything that has been “puffed up” and in the same way leaven “puffs up” food, sin “puffs” us up. Sin creates a barrier and a distance from God. When we are distant from God, we pridefully believe we don’t need Him anymore; that we can survive without Him. During the Passover season, we remove the chametz from our hearts and homes in obedience to YHVH’s Torah. But at the same time we are removing the physical chametz from our homes, we are removing the spiritual chametz from our hearts as well.

So this Passover, as you rid your home of chametz, don’t forget that cleaning out your heart is just as, if not the most, important part of Passover. Ask YHVH to reveal what things need to be removed. Thank Him for His Son Yeshua Who was our Passover Lamb. And thank Him for freeing us from the bondage of slavery and sin and bringing us into the quiet, desert place where He reveals His Word to us.

Chag Sameach Pesach!
Happy Passover!

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Passover Simplified: A List of Leavening Agents

Passover is just a few days away which means that it’s time to do our last minute spring cleaning to get all the leaven out of our houses and hearts. And if you’re anything like me, I get so confused about what’s considered a leavening and what’s not that I usually rely on my sister to tell me what’s allowed for Passover and what I need to get rid of; but instead of bugging her with the same questions again this year, I decided to create a list of leaving agents of my own!

I know it’s easy to look at the process of removing the leaven in our homes as somewhat ritualistic and just an all-around hassle even though we know its a necessary process that ultimately benefits us. Traditional Judaism has very confusing lists for leaven and complicated instructions how to clean at Passover. I’ll admit that I tend to get a little discouraged and extremely overwhelmed with all the different opinions of what’s considered leaven and what’s not during Passover. Some say no beans but rice is ok, while others say no rice but beans are ok. Some say anything that even appears to “puff up” when water is added (such as oatmeal, beans, rice, etc) is strictly prohibited; hence, the prohibition against almost all grains during Passover. But I’m not sure that this is completely accurate.

Personally, I feel that the process of getting rid of leaven has become way too complicated in religious circles. And when this happens, it takes away from the true purpose and focus of Passover: Yeshua and His sacrifice of love for our sins.

I believe that YHVH intended His rules to be fairly straightforward; we are the ones who complicate them. Sometimes we over-complicate things when we try to do the right thing and make everything perfect. But when we over-complicate things, not only do we take the joy out of keeping Torah in our own lives, but we take away the joy from others as well. We are meant to be a light to the world, but if we are grumbling about the hassle of cleaning and complaining about what we can’t eat (for one, whole week of our lives!), we send the wrong message to those who are watching us. Not a very good light if you ask me.

Yes, we are to remove the physical leaven from our homes and we should take the process seriously, but we shouldn’t be so focused on the outward physical leaven that we forget about the inward spiritual leaven. This is also a time to search the deepest corners of our hearts and ask YHVH to reveal the leaven that is hidden deep within us. Leaven represents the sin we hold onto in our lives but it also represents pride. This is the season of removing the things that “puff us up” and keep us far from Him.

In Exodus 12, YHVH instructs His people about His Passover.

13 And the blood shall be a sign for you on the houses where you are. And when I see the blood, I shall pass over you, and let the plague not come on you to destroy you when I smite the land of Egypt.

14 And this day shall become to you a remembrance. And you shall observe it as a festival to YHVH throughout your generations – observe it as a festival, an everlasting law.

15 Seven days you shall eat unleavened bread. Indeed on the first day you cause leaven to cease from your houses. For whoever eats leavened bread from the first day until the seventh day, that being shall be cut off from Israel.

16 And on the first day is a set-apart gathering, and on the seventh day you have a set-apart gathering. No work at all is done on them, only that which is eaten by every being, that alone is prepared by you.

17 And you shall guard the Festival of Unleavened Bread, for on this same day I brought your divisions out of the land of Egypt. And you shall guard this day throughout your generations, an everlasting law.

18 In the first month, on the fourteenth day of the month, in the evening, you shall eat unleavened bread until the twenty-first day of the month in the evening.

19 For seven days no leaven is to be found in your houses, for if anyone eats what is leavened, that same being shall be cut off from the congregation of Israel, whether sojourner or native of the land.

20 Do not eat that which is leavened – in all your dwellings you are to eat unleavened bread. (emphasis mine)

In verse 14, YHVH specifically says that this day is to be a “festival to YHVH forever.” Passover, like the entire Torah, is not about us; it’s about Him. Our Father and King has requested that we observe this day with Him. And it was during this festival, centuries later, that He gave the greatest Passover gift to His people: the redemptive blood of Yeshua, His Son, as the Passover Lamb. What more reason to celebrate and be joyful could we need?

So here it is; the list I will be using to (hopefully) simplify things a little this Passover. I make no claim that this is the “ultimate Passover list” or that I am the authority on Passover leaven. But this list helped me at a time when I was struggling with how to observe Passover and rid my home of leaven.

I had become so focused on leaving agents instead of YHVH and the joy of Yeshua that I was in danger of missing the whole point of Passover. I tend to over-think things so YHVH had to remind me to refocus my priorities, fix my gaze on Him, and let Him lead me in how to follow His commands. Even though I’m sharing this list with you all, I encourage everyone to seek the Lord and let Him lead and instruct you. You may disagree with my list or have other items that you remove from your homes, but my hope is that everyone will do their own research about leaven and make a decision about how to celebrate Passover in your own homes.

And this Passover, let’s commit to simplifying things and bring back the joy of our Salvation Yeshua!

Chag Sameach Pesach!
“Happy Passover!”

Leavening Agents

 Commonly used leavening agents in food:

  • Yeasts, including: baker’s yeast and active dried yeast
  • Ammonium carbonate
  • Ammonium bicarbonate
  • Baking powder
  • Baking soda
  • Cream of tartar (potassium bitartrate)
  • Dipotassium carbonate
  • Monocalcium phosphate
  • Potassium carbonate
  • Potassium bicarbonate
  • Sodium aluminum phosphate
  • Sodium aluminum sulfate
  • Sourdough

Leavening agents found in non-food items:

  • Preparation H (has yeast)
  • Cat and dog foods with yeast
  • Toothpastes with baking soda

False Leaven
Below are foods or ingredients not leavened, although some people mistake them for leavening or leavened foods. Biblically speaking, they pose no problem:

Puffed cereals: Some food products are “puffed up” by mechanical means but cannot be used as a contact spreading agent. They are just puffed up by air and are not chemically leavened. They include: popcorn, beaten eggs, and air puffed cereal like puffed rice or wheat. Double check your cereal, however, to ensure there is no actual leavening.

Brewer’s yeast (Saccharomyces cerevisiae:) is an inactive yeast, meaning the yeasts have been killed and have no leavening power. It is the yeast remaining after beer making. It is used as a nutrient supplement to increase the intake of B vitamins. Brewer’s yeast comes powdered (the most potent form), in flakes (best for health shakes), and in tablets.

Yeast extract (autolyzed yeast extract): When yeast cells die, they automatically break up, a process called autolysis, in which the yeasts’ digestive enzymes break their proteins down into simpler compounds. What remains is a collection of protein, fats, vitamins, minerals, and monosodium glutamate (MSG), a flavor enhancer.

Soda pop: Although its name says “soda,” soda pop is not leavened as if with bicarbonate of “soda.” It is made with water that has been infused with carbon dioxide in a non-leavening process.

Seder Thriller

A “Thriller” Passover!

One of my new favorite things about the Passover season are the awesome parody videos out there! Last year, I was obsessed with the Passover version of “Uptown Funk” — here’s my post from last year in case you missed it — and this year is no different. I give you, “Seder” based off of Michael Jackson’s “Thriller!” Trust me, you won’t want to miss it!

You’re welcome.

Baby Yeshua in a Manger

The Birth of a Savior: For Unto Us a Son is Given

Many believe the Bible does not say when Yeshua (Jesus) was born and because of this, claim Christmas is as good a time as any to celebrate it. But what if the Bible did spell out when Yeshua was born? What if all it takes is looking at Scripture with an understanding of how YHVH’s system operates, specifically the timeline of His feasts? The following is the Biblical timeline for the birth of our savior.

Let’s read Luke 1 together and I’ll give you some explanation along the way.

There was in the days of Herodes, the sovereign of Judah, a certain priest named Zechariah, of the division of Abijah. And his wife was of the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elizabeth. And it came to be, that while he was serving as priest before Elohim in the order of his division, according to the institute of the priesthood, he was chosen by lot to burn incense when he went into the Dwelling Place of YHVH.    Luke 1:5, 8-9

Often times, we gloss right over some very important pieces of information that are critical to our understanding of the Bible simply because we don’t understand its importance! Here, we see that Zechariah is a priest of YHVH in the division of Abijah. According to the pattern that David established through his son Solomon, the priesthood of YHVH was divided into 24 divisions. Each division would come to serve YHVH in the Temple one week twice a year. There were also three times a year when all 24 divisions would serve together because YHVH commanded that on these feasts, all of Israel would gather together: Passover, Shavuot, and Sukkot.

There were always priests serving in the Temple because there were continual sacrifices offered to YHVH. Therefore, if each division served two weeks out of the year and there were three weeks that all the priests served together, the entire year was covered (24 x 2 + 3 = ~ 51 weeks). The Biblical calendar, which is centered around the moon not the sun as is our Gregorian calendar, is approximately 11 days shorter than our sun-centered calendars of today. Therefore, this 24 division setup allowed for the Temple service cycle to start with division 1 every single time a Biblical new year began.

1 Chronicles 24 tells us when each of these 24 divisions would serve in the Temple.

And David, with Zadok of the sons of Eleazar, and Aḥimelech of the sons of Ithamar, divided them according to their offices in their service. And there were more leaders found of the sons of Eleazar than of the sons of Ithamar. So they divided the sons of Eleazar into sixteen heads of their fathers’ houses, and the sons of Ithamar into eight heads of their fathers’ houses. And they were divided by lot, one group as another, for there were officials of the set-apart place and officials of Elohim, from the sons of Eleazar and from the sons of Ithamar…the seventh [lot] to Hakkoz, the eighth to Abijah, the ninth to Yeshua, the tenth to Shecaniah. 1 Chronicles 24:3-5,10

This scripture tells us that Zechariah was in the 8th division of the priesthood and would come to serve in the Temple the 8th week of the year. An interesting side note, is that the division of Yeshua would have immediately followed Zechariah’s division in the Temple service. Leviticus 23:5 tells us that Passover occurs in the second week of the first month and verses 15-16 tell us that Shavuot is 7 weeks after Passover. Therefore, the 9th week of the year would be the approximate time of Shavuot (Pentecost) every year. This means that Zechariah would have to work two weeks in a row every year because of his Temple division coinciding with the requirement for all Israel to be in Jerusalem for Shavuot.

Going back to Luke 1:8-9, we see that Zechariah was serving in the Temple and was chosen by the casting of lots to bring incense to the altar of incense. This was a very special job because whoever brought the incense to the altar was allowed to make one personal request of God that was guaranteed to be granted. However, once a priest was given this privilege, he could never have this job again. We see from Luke 1: 13 that Zechariah’s one request was for his barren wife, Elizabeth, to have a child.

But the messenger said to him, “Do not be afraid, Zechariah, for your prayer is heard. And your wife Elizabeth shall bear you a son, and you shall call his name John.

Luke 1:23-25 tells us that after his time serving in the Temple, Zechariah went home and Elizabeth conceived.

And it came to be, as soon as the days of his service were completed, he went away to his house. And after those days his wife Elizabeth conceived. And she hid herself five months, saying, “YHVH has done this for me, in the days when He looked upon me, to take away my reproach among men.”

Shavuot occurs roughly about the May/June time every year on our calendars. This means that by the time Zechariah finished his division’s Temple service and made the journey home, several weeks had already passed and it was roughly July/August time when Zechariah returned home and John was conceived.

And the messenger answering, said to her, “The Set-apart Spirit shall come upon you, and the power of the Most High shall overshadow you. And for that reason the Set-apart One born of you shall be called: Son of Elohim.

“And see, Elizabeth your relative, she has also conceived a son in her old age. And this is now the sixth month to her who was called barren, And Mary said, “See the female servant of YHVH! Let it be to me according to your word.” And the messenger went away from her.

And Mary arose in those days and went into the hill country with haste, to a city of Judah, and entered into the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. And Mary stayed with her about three months, and returned to her home. And the time was filled for Elizabeth to give birth, and she bore a son. Luke 1:35-40, 56-57

These above verses tell us that Mary was visited by the angel Gabriel in Elizabeth’s sixth month of pregnancy. Remember, Elizabeth became pregnant roughly in July/August; six months later would be roughly December/January right around the time of Hanukkah — the Feast of Dedication and Lights. What a perfect time for the Light of the World and the Son of God to be conceived!

We then see that Mary stayed with Elizabeth and Zechariah three months and then went home. After this, Elizabeth gave birth to John. If Elizabeth conceived around the time of June/July, then nine months later would be approximately March/April – right around the time of Passover.

Now let’s read the story of the birth of Yeshua from Luke 2.

And it came to be in those days that a decree went out from Caesar Augustus for all the world to be registered. This took place as a first registration while Quirinius was governing Syria. And all were going to be registered, each one to his own city.

And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth to Judah, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, who was engaged to him – being pregnant. And it came to be, that while they were there, the days were filled for her to give birth. And she gave birth to her first-born Son, and wrapped Him up, and laid Him down in a feeding trough, because there was no room for them in a lodging place.

And in the same country there were shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. And look, a messenger of YHVH stood before them, and the esteem of YHVH shone around them, and they were greatly afraid. And the messenger said to them, “Do not be afraid, for look, I bring you good news of great joy which shall be to all people. “Because there was born to you today in the city of David a Savior, who is Messiah, the Master. “And this is the sign to you: You shall find a baby wrapped up, lying in a feeding trough.”

And suddenly there was with the messenger a crowd of the heavenly host praising Elohim and saying, “Esteem to Elohim in the highest, and on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased!”

And it came to be, when the messengers had gone away from them into the heaven, that the shepherds said to each other, “Indeed, let us go to Bethlehem and see this matter that has taken place, which the Master has made known to us.”

And they came in haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a feeding trough. And having seen, they made known the matter which was spoken to them concerning the child. And all those who heard marveled at what the shepherds said to them. But Mary kept all these matters, considering them in her heart. And the shepherds returned, boasting and praising Elohim for all they had heard and seen, as it was spoken to them.

And when eight days were completed for Him to be circumcised, His Name was called Yeshua, the Name given by the messenger before He was conceived in the womb. And when the days of her cleansing according to the Torah of Moses were completed, they brought Him to Jerusalem to present Him to YHVH – as it has been written in the Torah of YHVH, “Every male who opens the womb shall be called set-apart to YHVH” and to give an offering according to what is said in the Torah of YHVH, “A pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons.”

And see, there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon, and this man was righteous and dedicated, looking for the comforting of Israel. And the Set-apart Spirit was upon him. And it had been revealed to him by the Set-apart Spirit that he would not see death before he sees the Messiah of YHVH. And he came in the Spirit into the Set-apart Place. And as the parents brought in the Child Yeshua, to do for Him according to the usual practice of the Torah, then he took Him up in his arms and blessed Elohim and said, “Now let Your servant go in peace, O Master, according to Your word, for my eyes have seen Your deliverance, which You have prepared before the face of all the peoples, a light for the unveiling of the gentiles, and the esteem of Your people Israel.”

And Joseph and His mother were marveling at what was said about Him.

And Simeon blessed them, and said to Mary His mother, “See, this One is set for a fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign spoken against – and a sword shall pierce through your own being also – so as to reveal the thoughts of many hearts.”

And there was Ḥannah, a prophetess, a daughter of Penuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was advanced in years, and had lived with a husband seven years from her maidenhood, and she was a widow of about eighty-four years, who did not leave the Set-apart Place, but served Elohim with fastings and prayers night and day. And she, coming in at that moment, gave thanks to YHVH, and spoke of Him to all who were waiting for redemption in Jerusalem.

And when they had accomplished all matters according to the Torah of YHVH, they returned to Galilee, to their city Nazareth. And the Child grew and became strong in spirit, being filled with wisdom. And the favor of Elohim was upon Him.

And His parents went to Jerusalem every year at the Festival of the Passover. And when He was twelve years old, they went up to Jerusalem according to the practice of the festival. Luke 2:1-42

These verses are very informative in terms of what the details reveal. For instance, look at how many times the author specifically mentions that Joseph and Mary raised Yeshua according to YHVH’s Torah. They were completely obedient. They did not take part in the mixed worship that some of the other Hellenized Jews had adopted at this time. They remained completely set-apart and holy to YHVH.

Next, let’s talk about the shepherds. Not in Biblical days and not today do shepherds watch over their field by night in the dead of winter! Going back to what we have already learned about Mary’s pregnancy, we know that Mary conceived at Hanukkah (December/January time). Meaning that nine months from then would be September/October – the time of YHVH’s feast of Sukkot!

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with Elohim, and the Word was Elohim. He was in the beginning with Elohim. All came to be through Him, and without Him not even one came to be that came to be.

In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. There was a man sent from Elohim, whose name was John. This one came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all might believe through him. He was not that Light, but that he might bear witness of that Light. He was the true Light, which enlightens every man, coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world came to be through Him, and the world did not know Him. He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him.

But as many as received Him, to them He gave the authority to become children of Elohim, to those believing in His Name, who were born, not of blood nor of the desire of flesh nor of the desire of man, but of Elohim. And the Word became flesh and pitched His tent among us, and we saw His esteem, esteem as of an only brought-forth of a father, complete in favor and truth. John 1:1-14

These verses tell us that not only were the births and lives of John and Yeshua intertwined from the beginning, but that Yeshua “pitched His tent among us.” Some versions will say “He tabernacled among us.” The word “Sukkot” means tabernacle. It’s the time of year where people build sukkahs or tents/temporary dwellings and live in them for a week to remember how YHVH brought the children of Israel out of Egypt and delivered them from their bondage. This wording did not happen by chance or coincidence. It is a reference to the lost sheep of Israel (who understand His Torah) that Yeshua came to us at Sukkot.

Something else that both Luke 2 and John 1 have in common are two characteristics given to Yeshua. He is called both a Light and a Divider.

…a light for the unveiling of the gentiles, and the esteem of Your people Israel…And Simeon blessed them, and said to Mary His mother, “See, this One is set for a fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign spoken against – and a sword shall pierce through your own being also – so as to reveal the thoughts of many hearts.” Luke 2:32,34-35

He was in the world, and the world came to be through Him, and the world did not know Him. He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him. John 1:10-11

Yeshua is and always has been the Light to those who seek Him and His truth; but He has also been a Divider which tests the hearts of man in order to separate the sheep from the goats.

There are a lot of Christians who, when presented with the facts about the pagan origins of Christmas, say that they are not celebrating Christmas with this intent but, rather, they are celebrating Christmas as the birth of the Savior. They go on to say that since the Bible doesn’t specifically say when exactly Jesus was born why not just celebrate it at Christmas.

But if, after the presentation of the facts, you still won’t change your mind about Christmas then perhaps you should reevaluate why you really celebrate Christmas. Is it really to honor our savior or is it to make yourself feel good? God specifically spells out how much He hates the ways of the nations of the world and goes to great lengths to warn His chosen people against following these ways. Why then, after learning the truth about these abominable traditions that have been passed down and seeing Scriptural evidence that our Savior was not born at Christmas, would you continue to celebrate it? Is it because of the happy, jolly way it makes you feel? Is it that warm, fuzzy feeling you get this time of year? What is more important? The way you feel or the way He feels?

“For unto us a child is born; a son is given.” He gave His very life in spite of His own desires in order to do His Father’s work and save us all from sin. Why then do we insist on corrupting His Holy life with our pagan practices? Why do we insist on putting ourselves and our wants and our desires and what makes us feel good ahead of our Heavenly Father? That is idol worship in its truest, most basic form.

But as many as received Him, to them He gave the authority to become children of Elohim, to those believing in His Name, who were born, not of blood nor of the desire of flesh nor of the desire of man, but of Elohim. John 1:12-13

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and forevermore. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this. Isaiah 9:6-7

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Blood Moons, Shemitah Year, and the Feasts of YHVH: The Importance of Living in Torah

From the Summoned by the King Women’s Conference on October 3, 2015
PowerPoint Slides: Blood Moons, Shemitah Year, and the Feasts of YHVH

Blood Moons Prophecy

The Blood Moons, Feasts of YHVH, and the Shemitah Year

Tonight, Sunday, September 28, 2015, the final blood moon in the 2014-2015 tetrad will occur over the evening sky. In this (longer) post, I hope to explain the importance and history of these blood moons.

A Sign to YHVH’s People
In Genesis, YHVH set the precedent that the sun, moon, and stars are to be signs or signals to us of the times and seasons in which we are living.

And Elohim (God) said, “Let lights come to be in the expanse of the heavens to separate the day from the night, and let them be for signs and appointed times, and for days and years, and let them be for lights in the expanse of the heavens to give light on the earth.” And it came to be so. And Elohim made two great lights: the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night, and the stars. And Elohim set them in the expanse of the heavens to give light on the earth, and to rule over the day and over the night, and to separate the light from the darkness. And Elohim saw that it was good. And there came to be evening and there came to be morning, the fourth day. Genesis 1:14-19

He made the moon for appointed times; the sun knows it’s going down. Psalm 104:19

What is a Blood Moon and Why is it Important?
A blood moon is when the Earth comes between the sun and the moon. And the sun is shining through the atmosphere of the Earth and casts up on the moon a red shadow. And so the moon appears to be red.

Such moons appear several times in scripture.

In the book of Joel, God says there will be “wonders in the heavens and in the earth, blood, and fire…the sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord.”

In Acts, the Apostle Peter repeats that verse from Joel. And the book of Revelation says that during the Great Tribulation, “the moon will become like blood.”

Tetrads
A tetrad is when 4 total lunar eclipses happen back-to-back in a short amount of time. Although single blood moons happen fairly regularly, a tetrad of moons appearing so closely together is extremely rare. There have only been a handful of tetrads that have occurred over the past 500 years.

Even more rare is when a tetrad of blood moons all coincide with the Biblical Feasts. Since the time of Yeshua, only 7 of these kinds of tetrads have occurred. And in the past 1,000 years, only 3 other such tetrads have occurred — we are currently in the 4th tetrad occurrence — and there will not be any more tetrad blood moons on Biblical holidays in our lifetime. According to many rabbinic and Biblical scholars, these tetrads always signify turning points in Jewish history.

The current tetrad of blood moons is as follows:

Passover (April 2014)

Sukkot (September 2014)

Solar Eclipse (March 2015)

Passover (April 2015)

Sukkot (September 2015)

*Note: traditionally, the moon represents judgment for Israel and the sun represents judgment on the nations*

The Feasts
Passover
Passover begins on the 15th day of the Hebrew month Nisan – the first month of the Biblical year. This feast day commemorates the Lamb Sacrifice in Exodus where the Angel of Death passed over Israel while the firstborn in Egypt were slain. It also is the same day the Lord Yeshua (Jesus Christ), our lamb sacrifice for sins, was crucified.

While in Egypt, the Israelites were instructed to mark the doorposts of their homes with the blood of a perfect lamb without defect and, upon seeing this, the spirit of the Lord knew to pass over the first-born in these homes.

When the Pharaoh freed the Israelites, the Word tells us that they left in such a hurry that they could not wait for their bread to rise, so they did not add leaven (yeast) to their bread. In commemoration, during Passover, no leavened bread is eaten, for which reason Passover was called the feast of unleavened bread in the Torah or Old Testament. Instead, matzo, flat unleavened bread, is eaten during Passover.

As believers, we celebrate this as time of freedom from our sins that were covered by blood of Yeshua. The story of Passover and Yeshua’s sacrifice are stories of redemption, restoration, and forgiveness. But they aren’t separate. The sacrifice of Yeshua is another layer or a continuation of the one started all those years ago in Egypt. Through Yeshua we see the fullness of YHVH’s plan being accomplished.

Yeshua, the blameless, spotless Lamb came to earth and was our Passover sacrifice so that we could be restored to our Heavenly Father. He redeemed us from a life apart from Him and from the sin that keeps us in bondage.

Biblically, Shavuot (Pentecost), Pesach (Passover), and Sukkot (Tabernacles) are the 3 Feasts of YHVH which were required to be celebrated in Jerusalem.

Sukkot (Tabernacles)
The feast of Sukkot begins on Tishri 15, the fifth day after Yom Kippur. It is a joyous feast day while Yom Kippur is one of the most solemn of Holy days. Sukkot is a feast day with a festival atmosphere. It marks a season of rejoicing. Sukkot means booths and refers to temporary dwelling places the Jews gather into during this holiday. Most Christian Scholars believe the “Feast of Sukkot” is the feast that will mark the second coming of Yeshua when He returns with His saints on white horses at Armageddon.

During Sukkot, we are instructed to sleep in sukkahs or tents/booths under the stars in order to remember when our ancestors were delivered by YHVH’s Mighty Hand out of Egypt and slept under the stars. YHVH, Who is our covering, is seen as the sukkah Who stands over and protects us. Sukkot is also known as the “Wedding Feast.” For believers, we know this as the “Wedding Feast of the Lamb” that we will celebrate at a future Sukkot.

Blood Moons in History
The following dates are when four blood-red TOTAL lunar eclipses occurred during the Biblical Feasts of YHVH. While other partial solar and lunar eclipses occurred during this time, only TOTAL lunar eclipses have been included.

It should also be noted that the significant events mentioned can happen before, during, or after the blood moons. While the blood moons happen at specific times we have already been given (the Feasts of YHVH), we are not given the specifics on what or when the significant event will take place.

162-163 AD: Martyrdom, Diaspora, Famine, Great Plague
Four TOTAL lunar eclipses occurred on Passover and Sukkot in 162 – 163 AD, coinciding with some of the worst and most brutal persecution of Jews and Christians in the history of the Roman Empire. In the spring of 162 AD, the Tiber River in Rome flooded leaving destruction and famine in its wake.

Also during this time, the Antonine Plague – a plague the Roman army brought back from a war campaign in Syria — killed between five and eight million people, a third of the Roman population.

795-796 AD: Defeat of Muslim Empire by Roman Empire; Millions of Jews and Christians Martyred
Four TOTAL lunar eclipses occurred on Passover and Sukkot in 795 – 796 AD during which time King Charlemagne of the Holy Roman Empire established a buffer zone between France and Spain, ending centuries of Arab invasions into Western Europe and halting the expansion of Islam into Europe.

The Jews were relatively free under Charlemagne and even held high positions in his court. After the death of Charlemagne, however, Catholicism took over, thereby ending much of the freedoms enjoyed by the Jews.

842-843 AD: Fall of Holy Roman Empire
Four TOTAL lunar eclipses occurred on Passover and Sukkot in 842 – 843 AD. Shortly after the eclipses the Vatican and other cities in Rome were attacked and looted by an Islamic invasion from Africa.

Also notable during this time, the eighth Abbasid caliph and the Byzantine Emperor Theophilos (who were at war with each other) both died in 842. Shortly after Emperor Theophilos’ death, his four year old son, Michael III, took the throne (through a council of regents led by his mother, Empress Theodora). Empress Theodora quickly reversed her late husband’s ban on worshipping images and icons and reinstated the idolatrous practice as one of the “Christian principles of belief.”

860-861 AD: 2nd Defeat of Muslim Empire by Europe; Millions Jews and Christians Martyred
Four TOTAL lunar eclipses occurred on Passover and Sukkot in 860 – 861 AD. Shortly after these eclipses occurred, the Byzantine Empire defeated Arab armies at the Battle of Lalakaon in Turkey and permanently stopped the Islamic invasion of Eastern Europe.

Also in 860 AD, Emperor Michael III (now 22) sent delegates to a council in Constantinople to clarify the issue of worshipping icons and images. The result was a period of friction between the Roman and Greek Catholics, which ended in a split between the two groups in 869 AD.

1493 – 1494: Spanish Inquisition
Four TOTAL lunar eclipses occurred on Passover and Sukkot. King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella of Spain ordered all Jewish people to leave the country.

Christopher Columbus’ diary opens, “In the same month in which their Majesties [Ferdinand and Isabella] issued the edict that all Jews should be driven out of the kingdom and its territories, in the same month they gave me the order to undertake with sufficient men my expedition of discovery to the Indies.”

At the end of July in 1492 on the 9th of Av, about 200,000 Jews were expelled from Spain. Tens of thousands of refugees died while trying to reach safety. In some cases, Spanish ship captains charged Jewish passengers exorbitant sums, then dumped them overboard in the middle of the ocean. In the last days leading up to the expulsion, rumors spread throughout Spain that the fleeing Jews had swallowed gold and diamonds, and many Jews were knifed to death by robbers hoping to find the hidden treasure in their stomachs. Many other Jewish refugees, however, fled and settled in cities like Thessalonica and Smyrna.

1949 – 1950: Rebirth of Israel
Four TOTAL lunar eclipses occurred on Passover and Sukkot. During this time frame The Arab-Israeli War took place just hours after Israel had become a nation again for the first time in 2,000 years.

On 14th May, 1948, Israel declared its independence. Less than 24 hours later, the armies of Egypt, Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, and Iraq invaded the country, forcing Israel to defend the sovereignty it had regained in its ancestral homeland. In what became known as Israel’s War of Independence, the newly formed, poorly equipped Israel Defense Forces (IDF) repulsed the invaders in fierce intermittent fighting, which lasted some 15 months and claimed over 6,000 Israeli lives (nearly 1% of the country’s Jewish population at the time).

During the first months of 1949, direct negotiations were headed by the United Nations between Israel and each of the invading countries, except Iraq who refused to negotiate with Israel, resulting in armistice agreements with each country.

Accordingly, the Coastal Plain, Galilee and the entire Negev region came under Israeli sovereignty, Judea and Samaria (the West Bank) came under Jordanian rule, the Gaza Strip came under Egyptian rule, and the city of Jerusalem was divided, with Jordan controlling the eastern part, including the Old City, and Israel controlling the western sector.

1967 – 1968: Six Day War; the Retaking of Jerusalem
Four TOTAL lunar eclipses occurred on Passover and Sukkot. During this same time, the Six Day War took place, which resulted in Israel reuniting Jerusalem. As Egypt, Lebanon, and Syria prepared to destroy the Jewish state, Israel invoked its inherent right of self-defense and launched a preemptive strike on June 5, 1967 against Egypt in the South.

The defensive strike against Egypt was followed by a counter attack against Jordan in the East and the defeat of Syrian forces entrenched in the Golan Heights in the North. At the end of six days of fighting, previous cease-fire lines were replaced by new ones, with Judea, Samaria, Gaza, the Sinai Peninsula, and the Golan Heights now coming under Israel’s control. Jerusalem, which had been divided under Israeli and Jordanian rule since 1949, was also reunified under Israel’s authority.

Summary of Tetrads Since Yeshua

162-163 Persecution of Jews and Christians by Rome; Famine and plague in Roman Empire

795-796 Islam’s advance into Western Europe stopped

842-843 Roman Empire and Vatican attacked by Islamic invasion

860-861 Islam’s advance into Eastern Europe stopped

1493-1494 Jews expelled from Spain; Birth of the New (Western) World

1949-1950 Rebirth of Israel; Victory over Arab armies

1967-1968 Six Day War; Victory over Israel’s Arab enemies; Reunification of Jerusalem

2014-2015 ?

Shemitah Year
To add even more significance to this time, this year marked the ending of the Shemitah year, or the year of release. According to Leviticus 25:1-4, every seventh year (the shemitah year) was a Sabbath year. In this Sabbath year, the land was to rest and all debts accrued during this time were released. But after a time, the Israelites eventually stopped observing the Shemitah Sabbath year. Jeremiah 25:4-11 tells us that the consequences were the blessings of peace and planty in the Land of Israel were removed, the destruction of Jerusalem, and eventually the captivities of Israel.

Biblically, the punishment for not observing the Shemitah year by releasing all debts and not planting the land is not limited to financial consequences – like I mentioned with Israel, war or some other consequences is also a possibility but money is the most obvious tie – however, most scholars are leaning towards the possibility of financial disaster.

September 2015 marked the end of the current Shemitah year. As I mentioned, many scholars believe that the end of the current Shemitah year will signal global financial crisis. As I’ve recently watched the DOW and stock market, China has been manipulating their yen, which in turn, causes our markets to go crazy. Recently, the DOW opened and closed at the lowest its been in quite some time. It’s extremely difficult for our markets to recover because of how the Chinese are manipulating their yen.

Grafted In
The occurrence of the blood moons on YHVH’s Feasts does not mean that the Second Coming of Yeshua will happen at Tabernacles 2015 (although, perhaps at a future feast). But the blood moons do give us a pattern of Jewish persecution/war followed by new land/blessings for Israel.

The eclipses of the sun and the moon during this past year give us dates which we cannot deny or manipulate. But I think the most important thing is to not to get too caught up on or focused on date-setting but rather the warning YHVH is sending us. Clearly, something significant is coming that He is trying to warn and/or prepare us for, but He doesn’t want us in panic or confusion. Ultimately, what we really should be focused on is the wake-up call the Lord is giving us and on preparing for what the Bible tells us is to come so that we do not become like the foolish virgins of Matthew 25.

But we won’t know the warnings of the Father unless we are celebrating the feasts.

The Bible speaks of being “grafted in” to the House of God. That doesn’t mean that we are automatically placed in some separate spiritual House of God. It literally means we become a part of Israel. Only a son/daughter will receive the blessing of the father. Only the heir will inherit from the father…to him who has ears to hear, let him hear what the spirit is saying. If we do not consider ourselves part of Israel, we are not a legitimate child and we have no claim on an inheritance.

“And if some of the branches were broken off, and you, being a wild olive tree, have been grafted in among them, and came to share the root and fatness of the olive tree, do not boast against the branches. And if you boast, remember: you do not bear the root, but the root bears you!” – Romans 11:17-18

“The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of Elohim, and if children, also heirs – legitimate heirs of Elohim, and co-heirs with Messiah, if indeed we suffer with Him, in order that we also be exalted together.” – Romans 8:16-17

Torah is for all those who live under the covering of YHVH, the God of Israel; the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. The Torah is for all of Israel…even the wild branches that have been grafted into the natural olive tree.

Our natural inclination of the flesh is to avoid the law and do what we want. Our flesh doesn’t like being told what to do; we don’t want rules and boundaries. But what YHVH asks of us is that we submit ourselves to obedience to His Word and His desires. Just as a wife submits herself to her husband out of love and respect, so we too, as the Bride of Messiah, must also submit ourselves to our loving, faithful Bridegroom.

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The Freedom of Letting Go

Passover is all about being released from bondage, and today as I was doing some last minute passover cleaning, I came across some food items that had been hidden so long in the back of my pantry I had forgotten they were even there! Some of these items were leaven but most of them were non-leaven items I see every day and know that I never use them. I found countless boxes of pasta that I never eat (which makes me question why I bought them in the first place!) but I never throw them out. It was during my cleaning for Passover that I could hear a still, small Voice telling me to “let it all go. If you don’t use it, need it, or want it…let it go.”

Letting things go is really difficult for me. I’m one of those people who keep everything because “you never know” or “just in case” or because it has so many good memories. But the things I don’t get rid of only take up valuable space that I could be using. So why don’t I let them go?

Thousands of years ago, the Israelites had to face the same question. They were leaving a place they had called home for 400 years and were walking away from traditions and a way of life they had adopted as their own. They were leaving all this to follow a God they barely knew and go to a place they weren’t even sure existed. Talk about scary!

The Israelites reached a point in their exodus of freedom that we all reach when we walk away from people or things that we’ve had in our lives for years. It’s that scary place when you feel empty but the thing that used to fill that void in you is no longer there. We’ve all been there. The person you used to turn to is no longer there to call on the phone. The people or places that once brought comfort can’t or don’t hold that place in your life anymore. It’s scary and sad and confusing. What do I do? Where do I go? Who do I turn to?

It’s so easy to judge the Israelites and say they should have turned to YHVH…especially after all the miracles they had seen. But think of all the modern-day miracles you’ve seen in your life. And, yet, how many times have you turned away from God?

It would be really easy to say that in those moments of struggle and sadness that the solution is to simply turn to YHVH. But turning to YHVH is not the hard part. It’s easy to turn to YHVH. The hard part is turning away from the things that used to hold that place.

Too often we make our struggle into something it’s not. We say that because we struggle leaving things behind it must mean that we haven’t really chosen God. But that’s not always the case. Letting go of someone or something, the leaven in each of our lives, is a very difficult emotional process. But just because it’s difficult and you struggle, that doesn’t mean you haven’t chosen YHVH. It means that you’re human…and humans struggle.

We all have leaven in our lives we need to get rid of. Some will be easy to let go of and some will be far more difficult. It will take time and great effort but I believe YHVH wants His people free from emotional, spiritual, and physical bondage in this Passover season.

It was an interesting lesson for me that most of the items I let go of this Passover were not actually leaven, but, rather, things that I simply didn’t need anymore. I bought them at a time when I needed them but it’s been a while since they served any useful purpose to me. It’s an important lesson for each of us to understand, that even if something is not blatant sin (i.e. leaven) it still may need to be removed from our lives. It may have been in your life for a season and a purpose, but that time may have passed.

So turn to Him when things get tough and don’t despair when your heart longs for the things left behind. The key is to not go back to those things when your heart long for them. That’s how you end up building a golden calf and wandering in the desert for 40 years. And that’s not the plan God wants for you this Passover.

This Passover, YHVH desires freedom for His people Whom He has called out from among the nations. Will you let go of the leaven in your life?

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares YHVH. “Plans to prosper you and not to harm you. Plans to give you hope and future.” Jeremiah 29:11

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Passover Funk

Ok. So for those of you who don’t have Facebook, I have created this post just for YOU! I love, love, LOVE the Passover rendition of this song. I love this song so much that I have posted it on Facebook several times and now want my non-Facebook friends to enjoy it too!

So, enjoy and have a funky Passover!

If you’re having trouble loading the video, you can also click here to watch.

Leaven

Passover Simplified

Passover is a little less than one week away which means that it’s time to do our last minute spring cleaning to get all the leaven out of our houses and hearts. And if you’re anything like me, I get so confused about what’s considered a leavening and what’s not that I usually rely on my sister to tell me what’s allowed for Passover and what I need to get rid of; but instead of bugging her with the same questions again this year, I decided to create a list of leaving agents of my own!

I know it’s easy to look at the process of removing the leaven in our homes as somewhat ritualistic and just an all-around hassle even though we know its a necessary process that ultimately benefits us. Traditional Judaism has very confusing lists for leaven and complicated instructions how to clean at Passover. I’ll admit that I tend to get a little discouraged and extremely overwhelmed with all the different opinions of what’s considered leaven and what’s not during Passover. Some say no beans but rice is ok, while others say no rice but beans are ok. Some say anything that even appears to “puff up” when water is added (such as oatmeal, beans, rice, etc) is strictly prohibited; hence, the prohibition against almost all grains during Passover. But I’m not sure that this is completely accurate.

Personally, I feel that the process of getting rid of leaven has become way too complicated in religious circles. And when this happens, it takes away from the true purpose and focus of Passover: Yeshua and His sacrifice of love for our sins.

I believe that YHVH intended His rules to be fairly straightforward; we are the ones who complicate them. Sometimes we over-complicate things when we try to do the right thing and make everything perfect. But when we over-complicate things, not only do we take the joy out of keeping Torah in our own lives, but we take away the joy from others as well. We are meant to be a light to the world, but if we are grumbling about the hassle of cleaning and complaining about what we can’t eat (for one, whole week of our lives!), we send the wrong message to those who are watching us. Not a very good light if you ask me.

Yes, we are to remove the physical leaven from our homes and we should take the process seriously, but we shouldn’t be so focused on the outward physical leaven that we forget about the inward spiritual leaven. This is also a time to search the deepest corners of our hearts and ask YHVH to reveal the leaven that is hidden deep within us. Leaven represents the sin we hold onto in our lives but it also represents pride. This is the season of removing the things that “puff us up” and keep us far from Him.

In Exodus 12, YHVH instructs His people about His Passover.

13 And the blood shall be a sign for you on the houses where you are. And when I see the blood, I shall pass over you, and let the plague not come on you to destroy you when I smite the land of Egypt.

14 And this day shall become to you a remembrance. And you shall observe it as a festival to YHVH throughout your generations – observe it as a festival, an everlasting law.

15 Seven days you shall eat unleavened bread. Indeed on the first day you cause leaven to cease from your houses. For whoever eats leavened bread from the first day until the seventh day, that being shall be cut off from Israel.

16 And on the first day is a set-apart gathering, and on the seventh day you have a set-apart gathering. No work at all is done on them, only that which is eaten by every being, that alone is prepared by you.

17 And you shall guard the Festival of Unleavened Bread, for on this same day I brought your divisions out of the land of Egypt. And you shall guard this day throughout your generations, an everlasting law.

18 In the first month, on the fourteenth day of the month, in the evening, you shall eat unleavened bread until the twenty-first day of the month in the evening.

19 For seven days no leaven is to be found in your houses, for if anyone eats what is leavened, that same being shall be cut off from the congregation of Israel, whether sojourner or native of the land.

20 Do not eat that which is leavened – in all your dwellings you are to eat unleavened bread. (emphasis mine)

In verse 14, YHVH specifically says that this day is to be a “festival to YHVH forever.” Passover, like the entire Torah, is not about us; it’s about Him. Our Father and King has requested that we observe this day with Him. And it was during this festival, centuries later, that He gave the greatest Passover gift to His people: the redemptive blood of Yeshua, His Son, as the Passover Lamb. What more reason to celebrate and be joyful could we need?

So here it is; the list I will be using to (hopefully) simplify things a little this Passover. I make no claim that this is the “ultimate Passover list” or that I am the authority on Passover leaven. But this list helped me at a time when I was struggling with how to observe Passover and rid my home of leaven.

I had become so focused on leaving agents instead of YHVH and the joy of Yeshua that I was in danger of missing the whole point of Passover. I tend to over-think things so YHVH had to remind me to refocus my priorities, fix my gaze on Him, and let Him lead me in how to follow His commands. Even though I’m sharing this list with you all, I encourage everyone to seek the Lord and let Him lead and instruct you. You may disagree with my list or have other items that you remove from your homes, but my hope is that everyone will do their own research about leaven and make a decision about how to celebrate Passover in your own homes.

And this Passover, let’s commit to simplifying things and bring back the joy of our Salvation Yeshua!

Chag Sameach Pesach!
“Happy Passover!”

Leavening Agents

 Commonly used leavening agents in food:

  • Yeasts, including: baker’s yeast and active dried yeast
  • Ammonium carbonate
  • Ammonium bicarbonate
  • Baking powder
  • Baking soda
  • Cream of tartar (potassium bitartrate)
  • Dipotassium carbonate
  • Monocalcium phosphate
  • Potassium carbonate
  • Potassium bicarbonate
  • Sodium aluminum phosphate
  • Sodium aluminum sulfate
  • Sourdough

Leavening agents found in non-food items:

  • Preparation H (has yeast)
  • Cat and dog foods with yeast
  • Toothpastes with baking soda

False Leaven
Below are foods or ingredients not leavened, although some people mistake them for leavening or leavened foods. Biblically speaking, they pose no problem:

Puffed cereals: Some food products are “puffed up” by mechanical means but cannot be used as a contact spreading agent. They are just puffed up by air and are not chemically leavened. They include: popcorn, beaten eggs, and air puffed cereal like puffed rice or wheat. Double check your cereal, however, to ensure there is no actual leavening.

Brewer’s yeast (Saccharomyces cerevisiae:) is an inactive yeast, meaning the yeasts have been killed and have no leavening power. It is the yeast remaining after beer making. It is used as a nutrient supplement to increase the intake of B vitamins. Brewer’s yeast comes powdered (the most potent form), in flakes (best for health shakes), and in tablets.

Yeast extract (autolyzed yeast extract): When yeast cells die, they automatically break up, a process called autolysis, in which the yeasts’ digestive enzymes break their proteins down into simpler compounds. What remains is a collection of protein, fats, vitamins, minerals, and monosodium glutamate (MSG), a flavor enhancer.

Soda pop: Although its name says “soda,” soda pop is not leavened as if with bicarbonate of “soda.” It is made with water that has been infused with carbon dioxide in a non-leavening process.

Oil Lamp

Ban Bossy, Susana Martinez, Jews to Register in Ukraine, Blood Moons, Emptying Our Alabaster Jars and Preparing Our Oil

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The Myth of Easter and the Redemption of Passover

It’s that time of year again! Spring is upon us and the flowers are blooming, folks are coming out of their winter hibernation, and the sun-filled days last a little longer. Everywhere you turn people are anxious with spring fever! This is also the time when people pull out the bunny decorations, dye Easter eggs, and wish each other a “Happy Easter!” But where is the connection between chocolate, bunnies, colored eggs, and the resurrection of our Messiah? I know I’m going to step on a lot of toes with what I’m about to say but I encourage you to read this to the end before you make your decision.   

Have you ever wondered what bunnies and chocolate and dyed eggs have to do with the resurrection of our Messiah? Seriously, take a minute and think about the connection. < pauses to think> Come up with anything? Don’t feel too bad….neither could I.

The reason we couldn’t come up with a connection between the “symbols” of Easter and Messiah’s resurrection is because…there aren’t any. You see, while these symbols have become a staple of spring time and the modern Christian holiday of Easter, that wasn’t always the case. They were originally the images of the pagan festival of Ishtar (pronounced “easter”). Chocolate is the only exception here…hopefully there is no pagan association with chocolate!!! But other symbols such as hot cross buns, the “sunrise service”, searching for dyed eggs, and the traditional Easter ham are all associated with ancient pagan traditions.

In fact, there are numerous pagan fertility celebrations of death and resurrection with which these icons were associated. For instance, the Babylonians worshipped Tammuz and Ishtar. The Phrygians (modern day Turkey) worshipped Attis and Cybele. The Phoenicians and Greeks worshipped Adonis and Astarte. The Egyptians worshipped Osiris and Isis. The Canaanites worshipped Baal and Ashtoreth. This Canaanite system of worship eventually seeped into Israel which resulted in the splitting of the nation of Israel and the eventual diaspora/captivity of both nations. Similarly, the Anglo-Saxons worshipped Eostre or Ostara. These are just a few of the different gods and goddesses that tell the same pagan story of fertility celebrations of death and resurrection that have pervaded history…and infiltrated modern Christianity.

The Legend/Myth
Let’s go through the basic story together. We’ll use the story of Tammuz and Ishtar (again, pronounced “easter”). As we go through the ancient myth, I will put emphasis on elements that we might recognize as part of our modern-day worship or that will be important later. Also, keep in mind that another name for Ishtar is Ashtarte.

The story begins with Nimrod, a man-god in ancient Babylon. Genesis 10:8-10 tells us of Nimrod, “And Kush brought forth Nimroḏ, he began to be a mighty one (i.e. “god”) on the earth. He was a mighty hunter before YHVH, therefore it is said, ‘Like Nimroḏ the mighty hunter before YHVH.’ And the beginning of his reign was Baḇel, and Ereḵ, and Akkaḏ, and Kalnĕh, in the land of Shin‛ar.”

According to legend, Nimrod married his mother Ishtar, the fertility goddess of ancient Babylon known as the Mother of God” and the Queen of Heaven, whose symbol was a rabbit or hare. Ishtar claimed she had been miraculously conceived and that she came to earth in a giant moon egg that fell into the Euphrates River, which came to be known as “Ishtar’s egg.”

One day, Nimrod was killed and his body was cut up and sent to various parts of his kingdom. Ishtar claimed that he had ascended to the sun and was now to be called “Baal,” the sun god. She also claimed that he would take the form of fire when used in worship. At the time of the spring equinox, Ishtar “miraculously” became pregnant by the rays of the sun (her husband, Nimrod, reincarnated) and gave birth to a son she named Tammuz.

Tammuz was eventually killed by a wild pig and Ishtar told the people that he had ascended to his father, the sun. Ishtar also claimed that some of his blood fell on the stump of an evergreen tree and the stump grew into a full new tree overnight. This made the evergreen tree sacred in Babylonian worship. Ishtar proclaimed that a period of mourning for Tammuz must occur before the anniversary of his death. During this time of mourning, people were to refrain from eating meat, meditate on the mysteries of Baal and Tammuz, make the “T” sign of Tammuz in front of their hearts as they worshiped, and they also made sacred cakes with the “T” on top. The “T” sign of Tammuz eventually evolved into a cross-like symbol.

In order to bring Tammuz back from the dead, legend says that Ishtar (who, by the way, had married her son Tammuz by this point) descended into the underworld and had to pass through the seven gates of Hades. At each gate, Ishtar had to remove one symbol of her power, either clothes or jewelry, until she stood at the last gate completely naked. Once the Queen of Heaven humbled herself before her sister, the Queen of Hades, she is plagued over her entire body. She is then sent back through the gates of Hades, picking up her items along the way. The Queen of Hades then tells Ishtar that she has ransomed her husband-son and that Tammuz can return for 6 months out of the year to her, but that he must return to Hades for the other 6 months.

Every year, on the first Sunday (sun worship, remember?) after the first full moon of the spring equinox, a celebration was made to celebrate Tammuz’s resurrection or rebirth. At this celebration, a pig was eaten to remind them the pig had killed Tammuz. Tammuz’s death is usually commemorated at the time of his birth on December 21, the time of the winter solstice. There is a connection to Christmas here but I think our hands are full enough for right now. We will discuss this connection as the Christmas season approaches.

How Did This Happen?!
Ok…do I still have you? These pagan myths get extremely confusing and convoluted very quickly! That is why it is so important to remember that YHVH never changes and He is the same “yesterday, today, and forever.” I encourage you to do some research on your own about this topic. However, be aware that when dealing with ancient myths about gods and goddesses, there are usually several versions of the story where the main theme stays the same but some minor details might change.

So how did all this paganism infiltrate early Christianity? The Roman Catholic Church had a practice of incorporating pagan festivals and symbolism, replacing them with “Christian” names, and then calling them “Christian.” This was done to make Christianity more palatable and familiar to heathen worshippers, whom the Church was trying to attract.

It can now be better understood why the apostle Paul wrote the Corinthians to beware of the subtle deceit of “another Yeshua whom we have not preached.” He said,

“But I am afraid, lest, as the serpent deceived Eve by his trickery, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Messiah. For, indeed, if he who is coming proclaims another Yeshua, whom we have not proclaimed, or if you receive a different spirit which you have not received, or a different Good News which you have not accepted, you put up with it well enough!” — II Corinthians 11:4

So the question is now, do the pagan roots of our modern worship really matter? The answer is “YES!”

Why is This Important?
Now that we understand the pagan ritual and myth associated with Ishtar and Tammuz, let’s take a look at some scriptures where the pagan festival of Ishtar (again, pronounced “easter”) is explicitly condemned. Again, keep in mind Ashtarte/Ashtaroth is another name for Ishtar.

“Then the children of Israel did evil in the eyes of YHVH, and served Baal, and forsook YHVH Elohim of their fathers, who had brought them out of the land of Egypt, and went after other mighty ones, of the mighty ones of the people who were all around them, and they bowed down to them, and provoked YHVH. So they forsook YHVH and served Baal and the Ashtoreths. And the displeasure of YHVH burned against Israel. Therefore He gave them into the hands of plunderers who despoiled them. And He sold them into the hands of their enemies all around, and they were unable to stand before their enemies any longer.” – Judges 2:11-14

“The children are gathering wood, the fathers are lighting the fire, and the women are kneading their dough, to make cakes for the queen of the heavens, and to pour out drink offerings to other mighty ones, to provoke Me…But this word I did command them, saying, ‘Obey My voice, and I shall be your Elohim, and you be My people. And walk in all the ways that I have commanded you, so that it be well with you.’ But they did not obey or incline their ear, but walked in the counsels, in the stubbornness of their evil heart, and went backward and not forward.” – Jeremiah 7:18, 23-24

“And He said to me, ‘Son of man, have you seen what the elders of the house of Israel are doing in the dark, each one in the room of his idols? For they say, ‘YHVH does not see us, YHVH has forsaken the land.’ And He said to me, ‘You are to see still greater abominations which they are doing.’ And He brought me to the door of the north gate of the House of YHVH, and I saw women sitting there, weeping for Tammuz. Then He said to me, ‘Have you seen this, O son of man? You are to see still greater abominations than these.’ And He brought me into the inner court of the House of YHVH. And there, at the door of the Temple of YHVH, between the porch and the altar, were about twenty-five men with their backs toward the Temple of YHVH and their faces toward the east, and they were bowing themselves eastward to the sun. And He said to me, ‘Have you seen, O son of man? Is it a small matter to the house of Judah to do the abominations which they have done here? For they have filled the land with violence, and turn back to provoke Me. And see, they are putting the branch to My nose. Therefore I shall indeed deal in wrath. My eye shall not pardon nor would I spare. And they shall cry in My ears with a loud voice, but I shall not hear them.’” – Ezekiel 8:12-18

Do We Need to Change Our Ways?
I know that this might seem like a drastic change or that I’m suggesting to abandon the celebration of our Messiah. But please, hear the Father’s heart on this. I am certainly not suggesting that we no longer celebrate the victory of our Messiah on Calvary. I am, however, saying that it is time to repent and turn away from our wicked ways.

 “and if My people, who are called by My Name, shall humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their evil ways, then I shall hear from the heavens, and forgive their sin and heal their land.” II Chronicles 7:14

Now that we know the truth, it is our responsibility to make a choice about how we will live our lives. We can no longer live unaware of the truth. For far too long we have been erroneously taught that the pagan roots don’t matter; that somehow these things YHVH calls evil have been redeemed and are a worthy offering to bring before Him. That we can go on living life and worshipping God our way. NO MORE!

The time has come to repent and draw near to YHVH! To leave our wicked ways behind us and RUN towards His glorious face! He is waiting for us with open arms, if only we would repent and humble ourselves and turn from the wicked ways of the world. Yes, it’s true that we have been lied to and deceived, but now we know the truth. Don’t let your stiff neck keep you from receiving the blessings YHVH so desperately wants to bestow upon you! Don’t miss everything He has planned for you.

“Truly, then, having overlooked these times of ignorance, Elohim now commands all men everywhere to repent, because He has set a day on which He is going to judge the world in righteousness by a Man whom He has appointed, having given proof of this to all by raising Him from the dead.” – Acts 17: 30-31

The time is now. The time has come to rise up and be the Bride of Messiah! He is looking for a spotless Bride; one who has not tarnished herself with the evil of this world. A Bride who has humbled herself and can admit she was wrong. That is the mark of a strong, warrior Bride; someone who is not so prideful that they refuse to correct their wrong and begin to walk a new path.

But we never walk alone, especially when we walk the path of YHVH. He is always with us; teaching us, correcting us, encouraging us. People may not understand your decision. But it’s not people you must stand before on Judgment Day. It is not people who will say “Well done, My good and faithful servant.” We do not seek to please man, but, rather, we seek to please our heavenly Father who has so graciously given us His instructions that we may live a life pleasing to Him.

Passover…It’s Not Just for the Jews
The story of Passover is one of repentance, restoration, and forgiveness. It begins in the book of Exodus with Moses going before Pharaoh with a message from YHVH: “Let My people go!” Pharaoh refuses and the ten plagues are sent on the land of Egypt. What most people don’t realize is that the ten plagues had several purposes. Not only did they each attack an Egyptian god, but they also served as signs to the Hebrews. Click here to read my notes on the Exodus story.

You see, for four hundred years, the Hebrews had lived in the midst of the Egyptians. They had been so steeped in the pagan traditions they didn’t even know who YHVH was! Don’t we find ourselves in a similar situation? We too have been so steeped in a pagan culture that we don’t even know who YHVH truly is. If we did, we would know that YHVH does not desire these pagan ways but, instead, desires we live our life according to His Torah. So, in order to introduce Himself to the Hebrews, He sent the plagues on the Egyptians. Let’s not push YHVH to the point of sending plagues on our “host nation” ok? Perhaps we should just humble ourselves now instead of making Him humble us.

As the Hebrews fled from Pharaoh, they didn’t have enough time to let their bread rise so they instead ate unleavened bread. When Pharaoh chased after them, YHVH parted the waters of the Sea of Reeds (Red Sea) and swallowed up their adversaries. You see, when we turn from our wicked ways and obey the voice of YHVH, as the children of Israel did when they covered the door to their homes with the blood of the lamb, YHVH fights for us! He hears our cry and never leaves us defenseless!

After all this takes place, the children of Israel begin their 40 years in the desert until they eventually enter the Promised Land of Israel! They are redeemed from the hand of the enemy and from the pagan ways that kept them in bondage. But the story doesn’t end there.

You see, fast forward to the time of Yeshua and you can see the Passover story of redemption, restoration, and forgiveness continuing. But it’s not really a “new” story, but rather, another layer or a continuation of the one started all those years ago in Egypt. It is here that we see the fullness of YHVH’s plan being accomplished.

Yeshua, the blameless, spotless Lamb came to earth and was our Passover sacrifice so that we could be restored to our Heavenly Father. He redeemed us from a life apart from Him and from the man-made laws that keep us in bondage. The Torah of YHVH is not man-made but God-breathed. The man-made laws are the additions and subtractions made to this perfect, life-giving Torah that can still be seen today. On one side of the aisle we see rabbis that tell us there are many more laws we must keep and obey. On the other side, we see pastors that tell us we no longer have any laws to keep. Both are wrong. Both are sin. And both keep us from understanding the simple truth of YHVH:

“See, I have set before you today life and good, and death and evil, in that I am commanding you today to love YHVH your Elohim, to walk in His ways, and to guard His commands, and His laws, and His right-rulings. And you shall live and increase, and YHVH your Elohim shall bless you in the land which you go to possess. Choose life, that you and your children may live and not die!” — Deuteronomy 30:19

Passover is not just for the Jews. It is for all the children of God who seek to live in His house and live a life that is pleasing to Him. The Jews are only 1 of 12 tribes that make up Israel. The complete 12 tribes are made up of Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah (the Jews), Dan, Naphtali, Gad, Asher, Issachar, Zebulun, Joseph (Manassah & Ephraim), and Benjamin.

The Bible speaks of being “grafted in” to the House of God. Have you ever taken time to think about what that really means? It doesn’t mean that we are automatically in some spiritual House of God. It literally means we become a child of Israel. Only a son/daughter will receive the blessing of the father. Only the heir will inherit from the father…to him who has ears to hear, let him hear what the spirit is saying. If we do not consider ourselves part of Israel, we are not a legitimate child and we have no claim on an inheritance.

“And if some of the branches were broken off, and you, being a wild olive tree, have been grafted in among them, and came to share the root and fatness of the olive tree, do not boast against the branches. And if you boast, remember: you do not bear the root, but the root bears you!” – Romans 11:17-18

“The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of Elohim, and if children, also heirs – legitimate heirs of Elohim, and co-heirs with Messiah, if indeed we suffer with Him, in order that we also be exalted together.” – Romans 8:16-17

So How Do I Keep Passover?
Each of YHVH’s feasts has a theme or a message for us. Let’s take a look at some of the themes of Passover.

During Passover, which lasts 7 days, we are not to eat of leavened bread. Leaven and leavening agents symbolize pride which puffs up (leavening is what “puffs up” bread). So for him who has ears to hear, we rid our homes of leaven for these seven days and we also take time to rid our hearts of any pride that may be hiding. Everything that is done in the physical must also be done in the spiritual. If there is no spiritual application, then it simply becomes a ritual and we know that the “Word of God is living, and active, and sharper than any two-edged sword, cutting through even to the dividing of being and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.”

At our Passover Seders, we recount the miracle of the first Passover and how YHVH brought out our forefathers with a “mighty hand and an outstretched arm!” In the same way, we ask YHVH to reveal any “spiritual Egypts” in which we may still be living in bondage. Remember, Passover is a season of miracles and redemption. If there are any areas of your life that you are struggling to be free in, this is the time to petition YHVH to free you! Of course, you can be free any time but this is the special season in which He has chosen to reveal His redemption.

His redemption also came in the form of Yeshua. We celebrate and praise Him for sending Yeshua our Messiah to be the Passover lamb whose blood covers us and keeps the angel of death away from our lives. We thank YHVH for providing His lamb and praise Him for the miracles He has done in the lives of those who have gone before us and in our own lives as well.

Passover, like all the feasts of YHVH, is a time to be with family and friends. It is a time to reflect on the miracles YHVH has done and is doing in our lives. It is a time to remove pride, which so easily ensnares, from our lives and families. It is a time to do some spring cleaning in our homes and hearts. It is a time to be free from the things that keep us in bondage. We are a free people! We are not meant to live in bondage!

It is a time to celebrate and praise YHVH for His miracles that bring about our repentance, restoration, and forgiveness. It is a season of redemption!

“And when these matters begin to take place, look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption draws near.” – Luke 21:28

“Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of this prophecy, and guard what is written in it, for the time is near.” – Revelation 1:3

 

Just a Few References:

  • http://rcg.org/books/ttooe.html
  • Encyclopedia Britannica, 11th edit., Vol. 8
  • The New Catholic Encyclopedia, 1967, Vol. 5, p. 6
  • Albert Henry Newman, D.D., LL.D., A Manual of Church History
  • Will Durant, Story of Civilization
  • Francis X. Weiser, Handbook of Christian Feasts and Customs
  • James Bonwick, Egyptian Belief and Modern Thought
  • A. Nock, Early Gentile Christianity and its Hellenistic Background
  • Bill Cloud, Shoreshim Ministries, “http://www.billcloud.com/”>http://www.billcloud.com/