John J. Blanchard
October 17, 2015 (listen to audio)
Why would a Christian celebrate or participate in Halloween? Before I get into the subject I want to define something very, very basic to our faith and that’s a Christian. I looked up Christian in the American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, 2011 Edition. Here is the definition of Christian. “As an adjective, it is professing the belief in Jesus as Christ or following the religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus. As a noun, one who lives according to the teachings of Jesus.” That is accurate. I would say that is right on the money.
Christians have a special relationship with Jesus Christ, obviously, if we term ourselves Christian. That is because we follow His teachings and His way of life. Let’s look at a few examples of what kind of relationship we have with Jesus Christ. Our first Scripture this morning is in the gospel of John chapter 17.
In John 17, starting in verse 6 Christ says: “I have manifested Your name to the men whom You have given Me out of the world.” He is speaking to His Father.
Continuing: “They were Yours. You gave them to Me, and they have kept Your word. Now they have known that all things which You have given Me are from You. For I have given to them the words which You have given Me; and they have received them, and have known surely that I came forth from You; and they have believed that You sent Me. I pray for them. I do not pray for the world but for those whom You have given Me, for they are Yours. And all Mine are Yours, and Yours are Mine, and I am glorified in them.”
That is quite a statement for Jesus Christ to make. He and the Father are in Christians, and Christ is actually glorified in Christians. It is amazing! That is an amazing statement to make. That makes it a very, very special relationship. Christians are separate from this world, He says here. And they are very special to Him and the Father.
Continuing in verse 14 of John 17: “I have given them Your word; and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. I do not pray that You should take them out of the world, but that You should keep them from the evil one.”
He knew the world would hate us because Satan hates us, and Satan is the sovereign ruler of the world. He knew we would be persecuted. At one point in His ministry He said, if they have persecuted Me, they will also persecute you. If they persecute Christ, of course, Christians will be persecuted as well.
CHRISTIANS ARE SANCTIFIED BY GOD’S TRUTH
Verse 16 of John 17: “They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth. As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world. And for their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they also may be sanctified by the truth.”
Here we see that we are sanctified by the word and the truth of God’s word, which is the Bible. Christ’s word is the Bible. “Sanctified” is a very special relationship once again. It says you are separate. Sanctification means separate, and we will get into that in a minute. Before we do, let’s turn to I Corinthians and see just how far sanctification can extend in a Christian’s life.
I am turning to I Corinthians chapter 7. We are told here in the inspired word of God something very, very interesting about sanctification and how far it can extend. The context here is about family and marriage, but we are going to talk specifically about sanctification. I am breaking into the subject here in verse 13.
I Corinthians 7, verse 13: “And a woman who has a husband who does not believe, if he is willing to live with her, let her not divorce him. For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband; otherwise your children would be unclean, but now they are holy.”
We see a Christian in a household makes a very unique household. We are told here that if either spouse is a believer—is a Christian—that entire household has a special sanctification—a special blessing. They are hallowed. That’s what sanctified means.
Hallowed in the American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, which I quoted from already, means sanctified or consecrated. They are one or the other. It is the same difference. Sanctified means to set apart for sacred use. The family with a Christian spouse in it is set aside by God as special, for His use, as long as they are not antagonistic. That’s what the Scripture says. If they are pleased to dwell, there is a blessing for them all! That’s the power of the relationship we have with Jesus Christ.
Soon we will be witnessing the world observing Halloween. According to the American Heritage Dictionary once again, “Halloween is October 31st, celebrated in the United States, Canada, and the British Isles. The word ‘Halloween’ is short for All Hallow E’en, or all sanctified or all holy evening. That was shortened to Halloween.”
If hallowed and sanctified are one and the same by definition, how can a Christian observe something that is obviously not sacred or holy? Yet it is called by the world all holy evening—Halloween.
Sanctified in the Strong’s Concordance is hagiazo (#37) which means to make holy, to purify, or to consecrate. The relationship we have with Jesus Christ is to make us purer, as He is pure, to eventually make something holy out of a flesh and blood human being, to consecrate, which means to set apart. A family with a Christian in it, and of course the Christian themselves, are sanctified for a special purpose by God. They are consecrated, set apart, hallowed.
Without a doubt Christians and their children are special in the eyes of God and have a special relationship with Jesus Christ. I ask again as I did in the title of this sermon, why would a Christian participate or allow their children to participate in Halloween? Why? Let’s look at the history of Halloween before we answer that question.
THE ORIGIN OF HALLOWEEN
I am turning to the World Book Encyclopedia 1983 Edition. The 2006 edition which I have at home goes into even more detail. I am reading from the World Book article on Halloween. Let’s look at some of the history and some of the symbolism.
“The Celtic Festival of Samhain is probably the source of the present-day Halloween celebration. The Celts lived more than 2,000 years ago in what is now Great Britain, Ireland, and northern France. Their new year began on November 1st.
“A festival that began the previous evening honored Samhain, the Celtic lord of death. The celebration marked the beginning of the season of cold, darkness, and decay. 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 large 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 bonfire. 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.”
I am injecting my own thought here before I continue reading. You will notice that the fires in the homes were put out, and the Druids—the priests of this false god—made a large fire. They were to take of that fire to relight their home fires. Sometimes they even offered their children in the fire. Today a more modern rendition, you might say, or enactment of the whole thing is carried out in the American West in the state of Nevada. It is a horrible celebration called the Burning Man Festival, which goes back to this historical event. They don’t burn people to it, but it is the concept of a huge party, celebration, orgy-type thing. It is sad that people seem to be regressing, but we will talk more about that as we go along.
Getting back to the article in the World Book, “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.”
Now you leap forward a thousand years or 1,200 or 1,400 years and you come to what is called All Saints’ Day. Continuing in the same article: “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. The church later began to honor the dead on November 2nd. This day became known as All Souls’ Day.”
Now you are getting the idea that it got incorporated into Christianity, and it never was holy because only God can make something holy. We are talking about the true God—God the Father and Jesus Christ.
Some of the symbolism, you will recognize. I am quoting from the same article. “Jack-o’-lanterns are hollowed out pumpkins with a face cut into one side. Most jack-o’-lanterns contain a candle or some other light. People in England and Ireland once carved out beets and potatoes or turnips to use as lanterns on Halloween. After this custom reached America, pumpkins began to be used. Today jack-o’-lanterns are used as decorations.
“According to an Irish legend, jack-o’-lanterns were named for a man called Jack who could not enter heaven because he was a miser. He could not enter hell either because he had played jokes on the devil. As a result, Jack had to walk the earth with his lantern until judgment day.”
The other World Book went on to explain that the light inside the jack-o’-lantern was the spirit of some dead relative. That’s what it was supposed to be picturing. It was to chase away evil spirits.
“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” for fortunetelling.
There is nothing holy about Halloween, but that’s what the name means—all holy evening followed by All Souls’ Day. It is a day to remember the dead.
The other article went on to state (and I have read in several other places) that the Celts believed that the spirits of their dead loved ones would come back on that day and roam the earth for that one night. That is where we get the term ghosts and goblins roaming around on All Hallow E’en or Halloween.
There is nothing holy, good, or beautiful about Halloween, but in our society today it has become a huge economic boost throughout the countries that celebrate Halloween. I forget the exact ranking, but it is now third or fourth in economic activity, behind, of course, Christmas and holidays like that. You will notice across the country big super stores spring up for about a month before Halloween selling costumes and ghoulish things. People’s yards fill up with awful-looking decorations. These are things that look horrible, and the more horrible the better! People get ready for costume parties.
Of course, Hollywood puts out a whole string of horror movies each year and brings back old favorites from years gone by. Therefore, when you see the advertisements now, there is a lot of talk about movies about the walking dead and zombies and horrible violence. They have horror movie parties that people go to participate in and scare themselves silly. It has become way more than what children do with trick-or-treating. It has become a big time adult affair as well.
I was in a store yesterday. I won’t say where I was shopping, but even the help was dressed up in costumes as I walked around the store. It is really getting to be a big thing. Wherever money can be made, people will do it regardless of what God has to say about it.
Is this something that we as Christians should immerse our children in or participate in? Even Christians are in the act. I have seen churches advertise safe trick-or treating on the church property for Halloween. There are people out there that play dirty tricks on the children. They have been known to put things in the candies that can harm the children, so churches actually sponsor Halloween events where you can come and your children will be treated safely. But should Christian churches really be sponsoring All Hallows E’en? I know they do it to keep children safe, but what about their mind? What is happening to the children’s minds as they participate in Halloween?
HALLOWEEN IS AN ABOMINATION
God does not take abomination lightly, and literally Halloween is an abomination. Whenever mankind devises something holy on their own, it’s an abomination to God because only God can create something as holy.
I want to turn back to the Old Testament to Deuteronomy chapter 18, verse 9: “When you come into the land which the Lord your God is giving you, you shall not learn to follow the abominations of those nations. There shall not be found among you anyone who makes his son or his daughter pass through the fire, or one who practices witchcraft, or a soothsayer, or one who interprets omens, or a sorcerer, or one who conjures spells, or a medium, or a spiritist, or one who calls up the dead. For all who do these things are an abomination to the Lord, and because of these abominations the Lord your God drives them out from before you. You shall be blameless before the Lord your God. For these nations which you will dispossess listened to soothsayers and diviners; but as for you, the Lord your God has not appointed such for you.”
Because they were people set apart—sanctified—they were indeed to be a holy nation. God said, you can have nothing to do with these abominations. Nothing has changed. God is the same yesterday, today, and forever, and His Ten Commandments still stand. What was an abomination then is an abomination now. Sorcery, goblins, fortunetelling, mediums, witchcraft, and sacrificing your children to false gods are all abominations to God.
Let’s go to Leviticus chapter 20. We will start in verse 1. Leviticus chapter 20, verse 1: “Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, ‘Again, you shall say to the children of Israel: “Whoever of the children of Israel, or of the strangers who dwell in Israel, who gives any of his descendants to Molech, he shall surely be put to death. The people of the land shall stone him with stones. I will set My face against that man, and will cut him off from his people, because he has given some of his descendants to Molech, to defile My sanctuary and profane My holy name. And if the people of the land should in any way hide their eyes from the man, when he gives some of his descendants to Molech, and they do not kill him, then I will set My face against that man and against his family; and I will cut him off from his people, and all who prostitute themselves with him to commit harlotry with Molech. And the person who turns to mediums and familiar spirits, to prostitute himself with them, I will set My face against that person and cut him off from his people. Consecrate yourselves therefore, and be holy, for I am the Lord your God.”’”
God calls it an abomination when we do those things. He says we must take care of our children to keep them from these abominations.
SATAN WANTS TO BE GOD
Molech was the chief deity of the Ammonites. As a matter of fact, the definition in your Strong’s Concordance will tell you that. It also tells you that Molech, and another derivative of his name Melech, means to reign, to ascend to the throne, to induct into royalty. That is none other than Satan. The Celts called him Samhain. Back in the day when Israel was coming into the Promised Land it was Molech.
It is Satan who wants to induct himself into the very league of God’s throne. Let’s turn to Isaiah chapter 14. We are probably all familiar with this Scripture. It is one to bear in mind, and it is a good memory Scripture because it tells us about Satan and what his real ambition is. I am starting in verse 12. You can read the whole chapter for yourself sometime.
Isaiah chapter 14, verse 12: “How you are fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! How you are cut down to the ground, you who weakened the nations! For you have said in your heart: ‘I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God; I will also sit on the mount of the congregation on the farthest sides of the north; I will ascend above the heights of the clouds, I will be like the Most High.’”
Lucifer wants to be like God the Father and Jesus Christ. He wants to form a trinity with Him as one of the gods. He says, I will do it by ascending the throne and by sitting on the sides of the north on the mount of the congregation, which is God’s people. In the Old Testament it was ancient Israel. Today it’s Christians.
PUT CHILDREN IN FRONT OF CHRIST, NOT SATAN
Christ considers children to be very, very precious. Let’s go to Matthew chapter 19. There is a tremendous lesson about Christ’s love for children here. In Matthew chapter 19, we will begin to read in verse 13.
Matthew 19, verse 13: “Then little children were brought to Him that He might put His hands on them and pray, but the disciples rebuked them. But Jesus said, ‘Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of heaven.’ And He laid His hands on them and departed from there.”
He said, do not keep little children from Me. When we immerse children into Halloween, we are not putting them in front of Jesus Christ for Him to touch. We are putting them in front of Samhain, Molech, Satan. That’s a day he calls holy. In fact there are black masses that take place in witch’s covens on that night. There are people who worship Satan out and out, and that’s their big day. There is really nothing for Christians to participate in. We should take our children and teach them God’s way.
Let’s go back to Deuteronomy. The last two Scriptures that we are going to read today are in Deuteronomy. Deuteronomy chapter 6, verse 4: “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one! You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.”
In other words, God’s law—His Ten Commandments—should always be in our minds and hearts. We should use every opportunity to teach them to our children.
In Deuteronomy chapter 11 there is a very serious word here from God. Deuteronomy chapter 11, verse 18: “Therefore you shall lay up these words of mine in your heart and in your soul, and bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall teach them to your children, speaking of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. And you shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates, that your days and the days of your children may be multiplied in the land of which the Lord swore to your fathers to give them, like the days of the heavens above the earth. For if you carefully keep all of these commandments which I command you to do—to love the Lord your God, to walk in all His ways, and to hold fast to Him—then the Lord will drive out all these nations from before you, and you will dispossess greater and mightier nations than yourselves.”
Continuing in verse 24 of Deuteronomy 11: “Every place on which the sole of your foot treads shall be yours; from the wilderness and Lebanon, from the river, the River Euphrates, even to the Western Sea, shall be your territory. No man shall be able to stand against you; the Lord your God will put the dread of you and the fear of you upon all the land where you tread, just as He has said to you. Behold, I set before you today a blessing and a curse: the blessing, if you obey the commandments of the Lord your God which I command you today; and the curse, if you do not obey the commandments of the Lord your God, but turn aside from the way which I command you today, to go after other gods which you have not known.”
That is the purpose of the Ten Commandments. You can go read them for yourself. We put the true God first and have no other gods before Him. That includes Molech, Samhain, and of course Satan. That includes any day that they have inspired people to hallow.
I ask you again, why would a Christian or their children participate in Halloween? They absolutely and unequivocally should not. Our Savior after whom we are called and named would have nothing to do with it, and Christians should have nothing to do with it as well.