By John J. Blanchard
October 20, 2012 (listen to audio)
Good morning, brethren. It is a beautiful day here in the Upper Peninsula. I had a wonderful drive in. There is a little bit of color left on the trees, but they are just about all gone. We know it’s that time of the year when we are preparing for the deadness of winter to hit.
I want to start today’s sermon off with a couple of definitions. I want to define a couple of words before we get into the actual message. First of all, I am taking my definitions from The New American Heritage Dictionary. The first word I want to define for you from that dictionary is to hallow. Hallow is spelled h-a-l-l-o-w. It is not so commonly used anymore. When I was young, it was used a lot more regularly, but it is still out there. It means to make or set apart as holy, to respect or honor greatly, to revere.
We see the first definition is to set aside something as holy. The second is to respect something greatly. Sometimes there is a battleground with a cemetery there, and they say this is hallowed ground because so many people gave their lives there during battle. The main definition is to set apart, as to take a day and set it apart. This leads to the second definition I want to read which is “hallowed.” This means sanctified or consecrated.
GOD’S HALLOWED DAYS
Less than two weeks ago we celebrated the last of God’s hallowed days for the year. They are days that He set apart that come around and that we observe annually. We understand they have implications and prophetic implications over a long course of time, but annually we celebrate these hallowed days. We do it over a seven month period where God says the first month is in the spring. During that month we have Passover and Unleavened Bread. Later in the spring we have Pentecost. We have Trumpets in the fall and then Atonement. Then we have the Feast of Tabernacles, which we just celebrated less than two weeks ago. We follow that up with the Last Great Day which is sometimes called The Great Day of the Feast.
All these days surround the agricultural year. They all have to do with life, spring meaning new life and Passover the beginning of our spiritual lives. These days are sanctified, that is, they are hallowed and made hallow by God. Let’s see where He does that in Leviticus chapter 23. In Leviticus 23 God sets these very days apart, and He hallowed them which is why we observe them each year. Like I said, we realize that they have prophetic implications. We look forward to the fulfillment of Trumpets, Atonement, and the Feast of Tabernacles, as well as the Last Great Day.
Let’s look in Leviticus 23 where God actually hallowed these days. We won’t read about all the holy days. We did that during the Feast of Tabernacles, but let’s read verses 1-3 of Leviticus 23: “And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, ‘Speak to the children ofIsrael, and say to them: “The feasts of the Lord, which you shall proclaim to be holy convocations these are My feasts.”’”
He sets aside these holy days that He goes on to describe in Leviticus 23 as hallowed days, set apart for gathering together as a holy convocation.
Continuing in verse 3 of Leviticus 23 it starts with the Sabbath day which we observe each week. That is what we are observing right now. Verse 3: “Six days shall work be done, but the seventh day is a Sabbath of solemn rest, a holy convocation. You shall do not work on it; it is the Sabbath of the Lord in all your dwellings.”
We see that it starts with the first holy day which comes weekly. It is the Sabbath. Then He goes on to describe these seven holy days that I just mentioned. He says these are hallowed days. They begin with new life, and they are all about life. They conclude with this huge harvest, and then they go into the Last Great Day which is new beginnings. We have talked about that during the Feast of Tabernacles.
This coincides as we well understand with nature. God’s holy days go along with the seasons. In particular, they go along with the agricultural year, just as the farmers do every spring working their land and planting their seed in anticipation of an early crop and a later crop. We understand that at the end of the season, just like right now with fall starting, the nights grow long and dark and the days grow shorter. The days get colder like death. We look outside, and it matches because we see the trees losing their leaves. They go dormant. They look like dead sticks. Up here where we have a lot of snow, other than the evergreens, it looks like the whole forest is totally denuded like sticks sticking up out of the snow. We see these big sticks. The grass goes dead, and the flowering plants go dead. The seeds lie under the soil waiting for the warmth of the spring sun.
Winter is like death. That’s why when someone gets old, we say they are in the winter of life. They are toward the end of life. It is an understood principle.
God’s hallowed days match the seasons. His calendar says the beginning of months is when we will have Passover. And seven is the number of completion. He says, you will observe all My hallowed days during the first seven months of the year as I prescribe it.
A STRING OF UN-HALLOWED DAYS
I want to bring something to your attention. Just as God’s seasons are full of His hallowed days, there is another season that is beginning to fire up right now. It is just getting started. I want to start with another definition of this season that is coming. I want to define the word “Halloween.” According to the same dictionary, The New American Heritage Dictionary, Halloween comes from the word All Hallow Even or All Hallow Evening. The archaic form of this word is Hallowmas which is short for Allhallowmas. In today’s vernacular that would be called All Saints’ Day or All Souls’ Day.
We see that the very next season to get going if you are paying attention to the physical calendar is in a little over a week from now and it is Halloween. It is a day hallowed. That is where the name comes from: All Hallow Evening or All Saints’ Day. It is hallowed, and it is hallowed by many of the churches, but it has some fundamental problems.
Only God can declare any specific day or thing holy. Man cannot make anything holy. The origins of this day are obviously not Christian because we can look all through the Bible, and it does not say there is an All Hallowed E’en. There is not an All Hallowed Evening where we are to observe it starting in the fall where there is the beginning of a holy day season, so to speak, during the darkness of fall and winter. I am talking specifically about Halloween kicking off a whole string of pagan holidays: Halloween, Christmas, New Years’ Day, and Mardi Gras which is sometimes called Carnival in various places. It culminates with Easter as spring is getting going. We see a different set of holy days not mentioned in God’s word, therefore, they are not hallowed by God. They have been made holy by man in some way. They are not biblical. One thing that is sure is they all have their roots in ancient pagan celebrations.
A couple years ago about this time I did an extensive sermon on the origins of Halloween and how it got into the church, so I am not going to go through that again. If you want to look that sermon up, you certainly can. It is Halloween and Its Origins dated October 24, 2009. I want to go in a different vein today.
I want to state here at the outset that Halloween is not just harmless fun, because that’s what it has come to be to many people. It has become just harmless fun: “trick or treating” for the younger people, silly pranks, and fun parties. Under the veneer of fun we all know that this is a time where a lot of sick behavior takes place. It is when horror movies are released by Hollywood in droves. All kinds of horrible things like haunted houses are constructed or re-invigorated around the country. There is dangerous behavior.
I come from the city of Detroit. That’s where I was born. The night before Halloween was called Devil’s Night very appropriately because the city had scores of fires lit. Damage and vandalism took place throughout the city. It became so much so that it was probably the most difficult night of the year for the police to contain the violence. I know Detroit is not the only city that is like that.
We also know that there are a lot of raunchy adult-type parties involving ugly and disgusting costumes or false costumes at least. It is interesting because on the way here knowing I was going to speak about this, I took note of one yard that already had their decorations set up. The whole front yard was full of skeletons, people bleeding from head wounds, ghosts, goblins, and horrible stuff. We don’t have to get into all of it. It was all over the yard and it is “harmless fun.”
The TV programs between now and Halloween are going to have their sinister aspects and talk about vampires, goblins, and all kinds of occult things. It is the time of the year. It is that dark time of the year, and these things kick in with All Hallow E’en. It is a hallowed day.
THE ORIGIN OF HALLOWEEN
I want to give a brief history from a secular source of Halloween. This is the World Book Encyclopedia 1983 Edition. I want to read some segments of the article on Halloween. You can see that it is well known in secular circles that this really is a pagan day. That is the source of it. I will start at the beginning of the article on Halloween.
“Halloween is a festival that takes place on October 31st. In the United States, children wear costumes on Halloween and go trick-or-treating. Many carve jack-o’-lanterns out of pumpkins. At Halloween parties, people enjoy such activities as fortunetelling, hearing stories about ghosts and witches, and bobbing for apples.
“Halloween developed from ancient new year festivals and festivals of the dead.” Isn’t that interesting? We think of the deadness of winter, and as winter approaches, the first hallowed day of this dark season is connected to ancient festivals of the dead.
“In the A.D. 800’s, the church established All Saints’ Day on November 1st…” Here we get the connection to All Saints’ Day.
“…so that people could continue a festival they had celebrated before becoming Christians. The Mass that was said on this day was called Allhallowmas.” That was the ancient definition that I read to you.
“The evening before became known as All Hallow E’en, or Halloween.” It is called Halloween for short.
These are the basic things and how it became accepted by much of Christianity. This article is wrong in making it seem like all Christians believe this, because we don’t. There are a number of Christians that don’t. As a matter of fact, if you go back a couple hundred years ago more Christian denominations thought it was horrible. It has gradually grown on people. As a matter of fact, it seems like in the last ten years or so Halloween has gotten to be bigger and bigger. More decorations appear in people’s yards and more movies and more parties take place. It has gotten to be a billion dollar industry and maybe more than a billion dollar industry. I am sure a lot of companies make big bucks during this time of year.
I want to read a few more segments from this article.
“Certain fortunetelling methods began in Europe hundreds of years ago and became an important part of Halloween. For example, such objects as a coin, a ring, a thimble were baked into a cake or other food. It was believed that the person who found the coin in the cake would become wealthy. The one who found the ring would marry soon, but the person who got the thimble would never get married. Today, some people use such fortunetelling techniques as card-reading or palmistry in addition to the traditional Halloween methods.”
We get the connection here to fortunetelling. Christians had nothing to do with fortunetelling. This idea of baking objects into cake is connected to Carnival and Mardi Gras. They still do that in parts of the United States and South and Central America. They put their different symbols inside of a cake and bake it. It is a way of telling someone’s fortune. It is getting in the spirit of the time, you might say. These are all anathema to God. God does not want or hallow any of these behaviors.
I would like to turn to Isaiah 5:20, and then we will come back to this article in the World Book Encyclopedia. Go to Isaiah chapter 5 where there is a very strong warning. Isaiah 5, verse 20: “Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; who put darkness for light, and light for darkness; who put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!”
Brethren, that is exactly what has happened with Halloween. This supposedly innocent fun-loving night for children and adults who want to be young at heart who go out and have fun is opposed to God’s holy days. We just finished celebrating the last of the holy days for the year. These were His hallowed days. In other words, they are switching evil for good and calling something that is evil good.
It is not good to dress your children up in all kinds of horrible looking costumes and to try to scare the wits out of them at haunted houses and things like that. It is not good to put horror movies in front of their faces to scare them at night. This is an awful thing to do to children. There is just no good in it at all. When you connect the religious pagan celebration that it comes from, like what we were reading in the article, as a Christian you should get disgusted by this day. We should not want to have anything to do with it.
Continuing from the article in the World Book Encyclopedia, it is the section on history.
“The Celtic Festival of Samhain is probably the source of the present-day Halloween celebration. The Celts lived more than 2000 years ago in what is now Great Britain, Ireland, and northern France. Their new year began on November 1st.” That is funny that God’s new year began in the spring. That is why we had Passover in the spring.
“A festival that began the previous evening honored Samhain, the Celtic lord of death.” That is interesting. I can see why they put it in the dead of the dark when we pass the solar equinox when we are switching into the dark time of the year. It makes total sense now why they would have a holy day associated with death at this time of year.
“The celebration marked the beginning of the season of cold, darkness, and decay.” It is interesting that’s exactly what you see out in creation. There is cold, darkness, and decay like a dead body.
“It naturally became associated with human death. The Celts believed that Samhain allowed the souls of the dead to return to their earthly homes for this evening.
“On the evening of the festival, the Druids, who were the priests and teachers of the Celts, ordered the people to put out their hearth fires. The Druids built a huge new year’s bonfire of oak branches, which they considered sacred. They burned animals, crops, and possibly even human beings as sacrifices. Then each family relit its hearth fire from the new year’s fire. During the celebration, people sometimes wore costumes made of animal heads and skins. They told fortunes about the coming year by examining the remains of the animals that had been sacrificed.”
This is a horrible celebration. It is something Christians would want to have nothing to do with. It is interesting that the Druids were priests of the god of the dead. They are the ones who start the dark season off with their hallowed evening. We have a God of life who gives life. We started our holy days the way He said in the spring when life begins. You see the total opposite here. It is total opposite. Good has been replaced by evil and called good, harmless, and fun. It’s not. It’s horrible!
Continuing in the article it says: “The Romans conquered the Celts in A.D. 43 and ruled what is now Great Britain for about 400 years. During this period, two Roman autumn festivals were combined with the Celtic festival of Samhain. One of them, called Feralia, was held in late October to honor the dead. The other festival honored Pomona, the Roman goddess of fruit and trees. Apples probably became associated with Halloween because of this festival.”
ALL SAINTS’ DAY
“Many of the customs of the Celts survived even after the people became Christians. During the 800’s, the church established All Saints’ Day on November 1st. The people made the old pagan customs part of this Christian holy day.” They are the ones who hallowed it. God did not hallow these days.
“The church later began to honor the dead on November 2nd. This day became known as All Souls’ Day.”
We see the connection of how this surreptitiously crept into Christian worship and became a hallowed day to Christians. It has nothing to do with being hallowed. Only God can make something holy. No human being can do this. In 2009 I discussed the Council of Nicea where all these things were argued out and where one church came to be dominant. The Roman government pushed this thing through for a variety of reasons, and it became an accepted holy day. Gradually it has worked its way through the rest of Christianity because Christianity was divided at that time. It became even more divided during the Protestant Reformation when many Protestant groups would have nothing to do with Halloween. Gradually as this article states, about the 1800’s it became more and more accepted by more denominations until now I would say at least 90 percent of Christians don’t have a problem with Halloween. I don’t know for sure.
A WAR OF THE HALLOWED DAYS
It’s funny how something can grow on you and yet be so evil. Any Christian should be able to see that horror movies, people getting killed, and a day associated with grotesque things and death should not be part of our system of worship. It should not be anything we “enjoy.” It is horrible in its entirety. We should have nothing to do with it.
Obviously Christians have been sucked into this secular pagan day, and at the same time most Christians—and I would say it’s at least 90 percent—no longer observe God’s hallowed days. We see good being replaced by evil and the holy days of the Christian churches basically falling in the dark time of the year. They conclude in the spring when God’s holy days are starting! It is a complete reversal!
I do believe people will come to understand this and realize how this has happened. They will realize how they have been duped. If we call ourselves Christian and if we want to please God, God will help enlighten a person who says I want to do what is right. Show me what is right, and help me do what is right. Then you can buck the trend. They will have that internal fortitude to buck the trends that a person sees out there in the world. They can actually be a bright light for the rest of the world.
There are a couple of Scriptures I would like to conclude with. Turn to Isaiah chapter 8. This continues on with what God says is wrong with these sort of days. Isaiah 8, verse 19: “And when they say to you, ‘Seek those who are mediums and wizards, who whisper and mutter,’ should not a people seek their God? Should they seek the dead on behalf of the living? To the law and to the testimony! If they do not speak according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.”
A day that honors the dead in a grotesque way and called All Saints’ Day or All Souls’ Day or All Hallowed E’en is definitely in the category God is talking about here. When those who whisper, mutter, seek the dead, and do fortunetelling come to the fore, God’s holy days are done for the year.
Continuing in Isaiah 8, verse 21: “They will pass through it hard-pressed and hungry; and it shall happen, when they are hungry, that they will be enraged and curse their king and their God, and look upward. Then they will look to the earth, and see trouble and darkness, gloom of anguish; and they will be driven into darkness.”
This is exactly what has happened to the bulk of Christianity. The light of God’s truth has gone out—the holy days, what we should observe, how to please God observing the first of the four commandments including the Sabbath and holy days. People have lost their way and have substituted days that they feel are harmless and fun, but they are anything but harmless and fun. It is definitely a war of the hallowed days.
If you turn to Ephesians chapter 6, we are going to read about this war. It is a very serious battle that constantly goes on, and the Christians must be aware of this. I am in Ephesians chapter 6, verse 10: “Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places [or in high places, we could say].”
This is where Satan and his demons now are sitting above the earth. They are the beings that we war with. They are the ones who love Halloween. They are the ones who come into contact with mankind in a more powerful way during these dark celebrations. We see it in spades. Suicide rates go up from now until Christmas. People go further in debt trying to keep up with the Jones buying these crazy costumes and honoring these days that God never said to honor. There are so many negatives associated with these days that it is even obvious to secular people. You can even hear people with very little association with a church say, I think they have taken Christ out of Christmas, and I think they have gone way too far in starting all of these things too early. It is true, but they should have never been started at all.
It is the wicked spirits in high places who force their influence on the human race to take away the understanding of God’s hallowed days and His plan. I do believe here at the end of the age that God will open people’s minds with His Holy Spirit to the truth and to which days are really hallowed. People will see that Halloween is not just simple fun. It is harmful. It comes between the human race and their God.