Month 5:17, Week 3:2 (Shanee/Matzah), Year:Day 5936:135 AM|
Gregorian Calendar: Saturday 4 August 2012
Your Beggarly Elements
Are You in Bondage to False Observances?
Continued in Part 2
Today's passage is one of the favourite quotations of antinomians (those who reject Torah) who claim that Yahweh abolished the Sabbath, New Moon Day and Annual Festivals because of the death of Yah'shua (Jesus) on the Cross. You can only come to this conclusion, though, if you rip the passage out of context.
"But then, indeed, when you did not know Elohim (God), you served those which by nature are not elohim (gods). But now after you have known Elohim (God), or rather are known by Elohim (God), how is it that you turn again to the weak and beggarly elements, to which you desire again to be in bondage? You observe days and months and seasons and years. I am afraid for you, lest I have laboured for you in vain" (Gal.4:8-11, NKJV).
Quite apart from the fact that Shabbat, Rosh Chodesh and the annual Moedim aren't even mentioned in this passage, it's clear that Paul is talking to former pagans who once observed a heathen calendar. Earlier in the same chapter, Paul said:
The "elements" here are not, of course, the Periodic Table of Elements used by chemists but elemental spirits or demons. Paul refers to these again in today's passage, this time calling them "beggerly elements", that is, they are pathetic and of no consequence when compared to Almighty Yahweh-Elohim, Creator of the Universe. So what were these weak Galatians doing? They were returning to their former pagan calendar such as Easter and the Birthday of Baal which took place on 25 December. You will recall how Paul upset the heathen Ephesians because he was turning people away from the 'goddess' Diana (Ac.19:24-41), another name of Astarte, from which the word 'easter' comes (Astarte > Ishtar > Easter). Astarte conceived Tammuz, another name for Baal, at Easter, and Tammuz was born on 25 December. These are some of the pagan holidays that Paul was condemning when he was speaking to the Galatians.
"Even so we, when we were children, were in bondage under the elements of the world" (Gal.4:3, NKJV).
Now it is true that whilst the context was specifically these heathen festivals and observances, we can extend this further to include any and all false calendars. Why, in any case, would these new converts want to revert to their old calendar and observances?
There are many reasons, of course, not least of which is the fear not to be seen as 'different' or 'strange' or 'anti-social'. They didn't want to upset their old pagan friends but wanted to still 'fit in'. Or it may have been that changing to Yahweh's Creation Calendar may have been inconvenient for their business and social lives.
So how is this passage speaking to us today, and to whom? Well, to answer the second question first, it's speaking to orthodox Christians and Messianics alike who still follow pagan or semi-pagan calendar systems. For, you see, not only are there business and social considerations, but also spiritual ones. Paul says that to follow a false calendar and false observances is to subject yourselves to the "beggarly elements" or demons who govern them! Whether you follow the false traditions and calendars of the Romans or those of the Talmudic Jews makes no difference because any system that does not accord strictly with the one taught plainly in the Scriptures must in some degree bring its practitioners into spiritual bondage. Yahweh governs His own calendar viā the Ruach haQodesh (Holy Spirit) and Satan governs his through the demon-inspired and man-made counterfeits.
Only the other day I was reading a statement by a messianic leader who claimed that the calendar was not a salvation issue and that we should not make waves with other believers who still adhere to other calendar systems. I half agree with him. Trusting in Yah'shua (Jesus) as Master (Lord) and Deliverer (Saviour) is the main thing. However, does anyone honestly want to be government by "beggarly elements" in whole or in part? Do you want to be influenced by dark spirits who will spoil your discernment or do you want a life of purity before Yahweh-Elohim?
Personally I want to be the friend of King Yah'shua (Jesus) in the inner sanctuary and not some defiled believer in the outer court. It's not, of course, my business to force anyone to be where they want to be but it is very much my responsibility to preach the emet (truth) and leave it with peoples' consciences.
"He who loves purity of lev (heart) and has grace on his lips, the king will be his friend" (Prov.22:11, NKJV).
Today's passage does not say that Yahweh has either abolished the Creation Calendar (making us free to follow the Roman Gregorian one like orthodox Christians, or the hybrid Jewish one like nearly all Messianics and Talmudic Jews) or the qodesh (set-apart, hold) days of Yahweh. You may thing these matters are inconsequential but once you realise that the result of doing so is continuing spiritual defilement, you may want to think twice before going back to, or staying with, systems created by dark spirits whose observance gives glory to those self-same dark spirits and messes with your spiritual life.
A fundamental rule of biblical interpretation or exegesis is not to read more or less into any given text than what it says. Today's text was a warning to former pagans not to sneak back into pagan forms of worship and certainly never to engage in religious syncretism - the artificial (and actually blasphemous) joining together of any pagan faith with the true Emunah (Faith) of Yahweh-Elohim. I for one would be greatly saddened if, having persuaded believers to fully get right with Yahweh by abandoing a pagan system of observances, they then reverted to their old ways because Yahweh's were simply too 'inconvenient' for them. Then, as Paul, I would be forced to sadly say that my labour had been in vain.