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Month 11:4, Week 1:3 (Shleshi/Bikkurim), Year 5935:291 AM
Gregorian Calendar: Friday 27 January 2012
Holy and Holiness
Is It Really the Pagan Holi Festival?

      "Pursue shalom (peace) with all people, and set-apartness (holiness), without which no one will see the Master" (Heb.12:14, NKJV).

    The ultra-messianics are at it again, this time telling us that the English word 'holy' is unkosher and should not be used because it is really the pagan Hindu spring festival called Holi, otherwise known as the 'festival of colours'. The claim is utter bunkum as I will show in just a moment.

    These kinds of claims are more than just plain wrong - they are leading people into damnable heresies. A case in question concerns a young Messianic Jewish man I was ministering to yesterday who was so totally convinced that 'Christianity' was responsible for his spiritual issues because the Roman 'Jesus' was, in actuality, some demon who had misled him, that he was no longer taking responsibility for his spiritual condition and was blaming everything and everyone else. He was convinced that the 'Pentecostals' had messed him up so he was in search of the 'perfect group' who were pronouncing the divine Names correctly where he could get proper deliverance. He even spent several months with the Talmudic Jews thinking Torah-obedience would fix him...which it didn't, of course. I told him that he was on a hopeless quest and that even if he did find the perfect group who had the most correct theology and who pronounced the Divine Names 100% correcly that this would not necessarily lead to his salvation. Some of the most theologically correct people I know can be some of the worst devils because 'being right' - theologically or otherwise - isn't even the core issue of humanity. What is, then?

    The core issue is that we are separated from Yahweh because of sin which we know even if we aren't at first able to label it properly. The core solution is self-surrender and submission to Him through His Son, even if we don't know how to say or pronounce His Name correctly. I know saved people who did this using the Roman Jesus, the Greek Iesous, the Aramaic Yeshua, the Arabic 'Isa, and the Hebrew Yah'shua; and I know unsaved devils who didn't do this who claim to be following the Roman Jesus, the Greek Iesous, the Aramaic Yeshua, the Arabic 'Isa, and the Hebrew Yah'shua. I know saved believers who know next to no theology at all and I know those who know a tremendous amount; and I know unsaved unbelievers who think they are believers who know next to no theology at all and those who know a tremendous amount.

    Am I saying that theology is unimportant? Or that we shouldn't use the true Names of Deity? By no means. I pursue theological accuracy with passion and I believe we should use the True Names once we know them. But I also absolutely and unapologetically proclaim that we don't need either of these in order to be born again and start our spiritual journey and thereafter pursue ethical and moral obedience. All the evidence is against it and Scripture does not support it. The Name, as I have preached so many times, is not primarily the sound or even the meaning but the living character it represents. That is what the Hebrew Shem (Name) is.

    Salvation is so simple that a child can receive it. When the Master called the little children to Him, He did not ask them to pronounce His Name correctly, pass a theological test, or prove they were Torah-obedient. He simply said "come to Me":

      "Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of Elohim (God). Assuredly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of Elohim (God) as a little child will by no means enter it" (Luke 18:16-17, NKJV).

    People try to make the simple Besorah (Gospel) so complicated that they totally miss the Kingdom altogether, and then wonder why they are still miserable and lost. The bottom line is a heart-attitude, not a mental knowledge quotient. Right thinking is not, of course, unimportant but it is not the primary thing. To the Hebrew the mind is a part of the lev (heart), not some independent entity. It is a tool, like a pen, but not the living davar (word) itself.

    We come to Elohim (God) not because He computes intellectually - even if that may be a stepping stone for some intellectuals - but because an unseen power of ahavah (love) invisibly and silently draws us:

      "No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up at the last day" (John 6:44, NKJV).

    The initiative in coming isn't even ours!

      "No one can come to Me (Yah'shua/Jesus) unless it has been granted to him by My Father" (John 6:65, NKJV).

    This means that we are given permission to be drawn to Messiah only when the Father, Yahweh, gives the go-ahead. What do you suppose is the qualifying factor? What is it that the Father sees in a soul that persuades Him to say, 'Yes, this soul may now receive salvation from My Son'. It is a right lev (heart) - a holy lev (heart).

    The English word 'holy' is limited to some extent (depending which 'version' you use) and does not always fully express the sense of the original Hebrew qodesh or qadosh which means 'set apart'. Thus the English phrase 'Holy Spirit' is better rendered as 'Set-Apart Spirit' or 'Set-Apart Ruach' or, as I prefer, Ruach haQodesh. To be set-apart means to be totally dedicated, totally committed, totally surrendered. Yahweh therefore receives a person into salvation through His Son, however His Name is pronounced, as soon as the converted (convinced and convicted) soul takes the next step of being 100% committed, 100% dedicated and 100% surrendered, which in turn leads to an experiential forgiveness and cleansing from sin.

    That is salvation. After the New Birth and deliverance from sin, then obedience to Torah becomes important, then obeying the commandments becomes meaningful, but not before. We come by surrendering and then we go out by obeying. Nevertheless, people come in at the gate and through the door without the Torah and obedience - these come on the other side of the gate.

    A lot of Messianics trip up on this because they have been trained up in the self-salvation of Judaism or other false religions. And thus a lot of professing believers remain unsaved and teach those who are already saved to abandon their salvation for legalism!

    I came to the emet (truth) and was born again through the Roman Jesus, started my spiritual life and growth with the Roman Jesus, and continued in my sanctification with the Hebrew Yah'shua. At no time was I ever unsaved during that period. I know what happened to me. I know that I was regenerated into a new creature in Christ...whom I later called Messiah. I made theological and lifestyle adjustments along the way, all the while clinging onto and trusting the same Son as other born-again Evangelicals and other born-again Messianics. I have always know in Whom I was trusting even when my Torah-theology and pronunciation of Divine Names was up-the-creek in so many different ways.

    Now some fanatical ultra-Messianics are trying to tell us that the English word 'holy' is 'bad' and shouldn't be used because it's the same as the Hindu festival Holi which, as a matter of interest, is also pronounced Dhuli, Dhulheti, Dhulandi and Dhulendi. There is a Hindu demoness called Holika associated with this festival who, in their fables, was burned to death.

    The Hindu Holi Festival of Colours

    But did the English word 'holy' come from holi? No it did not. The English word that we use today evolved from Scandinavian roots. It first appeared in its present form in Wycliff's Bible of 1382, so it's only about 600 years old whereas the Hindu holi goes back millennia. 'Holy' evolved from the Old English hálig, an adjective derived from hál meaning 'whole' (hel - pronounced 'hale' - in Norwegian and Swedish), and was used to mean 'uninjured, sound, healthy, entire or complete'. The Scots have an equivalent word hale meaning 'health, happiness and wholeness' which is the most complete modern form of this root. In fact, our English word 'health' comes from it.

    Hálig comes from Scandinavia and was brought over by the Norsemen to England and Scotland. In Norwegian we use the word hellig and in Swedish helig. Therefore the English word 'holy' and the Hindu word holi are totally unrelated and the fact that they sound the same is purely coincidental.

    As a religious word, 'holiness' has come to be used in our language to describe an attribute of Elohim (God), and in particuar, His Presence, described in Hebrew as the Shekinah. It's precise theological definition, and therefore usage, varies between Catholics, Protestants and Eastern Orthodox, and even within Protestant denominations, depending how it is related to equivalent Hebrew and Greek terms.

    Messianic Evangelicals definitely regard themselves as part of what has come to be called the Holiness Movement but within a Torah framework. The core notion of this holiness is ahavah (love) which is something that grows and is relational. Purity, set-apartness, perfection, obeying mitzvot (commandments) and total commitment are part and parcel of Holiness. We would therefore say that the standards of holiness are the Torah.

    Holiness and set-apartness are by no means mutually exclusive or contradictory since they are effectively describing the same thing. Therefore we have no problem in using the words interchangeably provided it is understood what the Torah references to holiness actually are. Accordingly we tend to prefer to use 'set-apartness' as this is a very Messianic term that ties in with Torah but at the same time we absolutely would not criticise an Evangelical for using 'holy' or ever accuse him of following some pagan demon for doing so.

    I somethimes think that the extreme Messianics want to demonise Christians because they have the 'one and only true' virus that plagues all élitist groups like the Mormons - they wear differences as badges of honour and superiority. Others may genuinely just be taking the commandment to be perfect seriously, and are simply misinformed and misguided. As ever, we can be too lax or too strict, so balance is important.

    So, 'holy' and 'holiness' are kosher - may you be set-apart to them both!

    Comments from Readers

    "Love this devotional! And I love the scriptures you shared -

      "No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up at the last day" (John 6:44, NKJV).

      The initiative in coming isn't even ours!

      "No one can come to Me (Yah'shua/Jesus) unless it has been granted to him by My Father" (John 6:65, NKJV).

    None of us have any bragging rights, period. It is all about the grace and mercy of Yahweh and it is HE that draws us, like you said Chris, the initiative is not even ours! I for one am so very very grateful for His love toward me. We can stake no claim to anything, the gospel is not ours to market and sell nor can we use it to put ourselves above others or exclude others. The gospel is inclusive, in that Yah'shua died for all of us and He stands at the door of each of our hearts asking entrance in. He owns us, not the other way around.

    I love this quote by Leonard Ravenhill .....

      "Could a mariner sit idle if he heard the drowning cry? Could a doctor sit in comfort and just let his patients die? Could a fireman sit idle, let men burn and give no hand? Can you sit at ease in Zion with the world around you damned?"

    We should be shouting from the roof tops the good news of the gospel! How can we say we know Him and not have His love for others burning inside us. His heart is that no man should perish and that should be our heart as well.

    The gospel is simple, it is people who like to complicate it" (AH, Sweden, 27 January 2012).

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