2017 Holy (Passion) Week Worship Guide

This Worship Guide is not meant to create “traditions of men” but merely to make it easy for individuals and families to worship well during the week we celebrate our Lord’s sacrifice and resurrection.

The reader will note that I hold to a Wednesday evening Lord’s Supper and a Thursday crucifixion. This is not meant to be controversial on my part, but it is the best reconciliation I can make with the scriptural data that contradicts Roman Catholic tradition (as handed down to Protestants).

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Passion Week / Holy Week Worship Guide

Sunday – 9th: Jesus’ Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem

Application: Declare the King, and Rejoice!

[Activities: Decide to be someone who lends yourself and your goods “for the Master’s use.” Decide to believe the Master prepares supply for His work ahead of time (ex. Donkey colt). Anything to do with Palm branches, Learn the meaning of “Hosanna!” Remember true leadership is first humble (ex. Jesus’ riding on the colt of a donkey). Stay with friends.]

Monday – 10th: Jesus Weeps over Jerusalem, Curses the Fig Tree & Purges the Temple of Crooked Religious Leaders/Merchants

Application: Reflect on true worship and fruitfulness.

[Activities:  Think of ways to make it possible & easy for the outcasts and poor and spiritually abused/overburdened to worship freely. Anything to do with figs and fig trees; Remember that God is not done with Israel (analogous to the cursed Fig Tree), according to Romans 11. Pray for the peace of Jerusalem and the Lord’s Prayer. Stay with friends.]

Tuesday – 11th: Jesus Occupies the Temple and Refutes the Pharisees / Teaches Prophecy.

Application: Allow the Master to occupy your heart with His Living Truth.

[Activities:  Learn Jesus’ teachings that combat the Pharisees. Give to the needy; Give yourself to God; Give back to governments what they create.  Reflect on the cursed fig tree and being full of faith. Reflect on not perverting the Good News by Religious Law, disbelief and Traditions of Men. Consider the prophetic future and God’s plans for humanity; be ready & hopeful. Stay with friends.]

Wednesday – 12th: Jesus observes Feast of Unleavened Bread/Passover and Institutes His Supper. He observed the last Passach (Passover) on evening of, due to Jerusalem pilgrimage allowance; He instituted Lord’s Supper/Lord’sTable/Communion as a commemoration of the New Covenant in His blood, seeing the next day He would be the prophetic Passover Lamb to take away the sins of the world.

Application: Remember that Jesus was betrayed by one of His own. Remember the all the Disciples forsook Him. Remember He did this all joyfully and with Thanks, and the Lord’s Supper  commemorates His death and resurrection “until He comes again.”

[Activities: Observe communion and foot washing. Sing Psalms, Hymns & spiritual songs in the open air. Stay with friends. Watch and pray well into the night, commit to complete devotion (i.e. love with heart, soul, strength and mind; Deuteronomy 6) and faithfulness to Jesus; resolve to keep the faith, no matter the cost.]

Thursday – 13th: Jesus endures 6 trials, scourging and crucifixion. Passover lambs slain from 3-5pm.

Application: Recognize Jesus as The Lamb of God, who are away our sins.

[Activities: Remember Jesus’ 7 sayings (and their meaning) on the Cross. Read Isaiah 53 and the Gospel Crucifixion accounts and Psalms 22 & 103

  1. “Father, forgive them…”
  2. “Today…with me in paradise”
  3. “Woman, behold thy son…” [darkness: noon – 3 pm] Honor mothers.
  4. “My God, My God…”
  5. “I thirst”
  6. “It is finished”
  7. “Into Thy hands…”

Also, an earthquake happened, and the graves opened and the Temple veil rent. Read Gospel accounts of this & the Book of Hebrews. Jesus taken off the cross at evening and hurried by sundown (start of Jewish new day).]

*1st Night in Tomb*

Friday – 14th: Jesus being in the grave, the Romans seal the tomb at Jew’s request. The women would have prepared anointing oils / spices on this day.

Application: There is a time to grieve; and even Jesus’ enemies fear His Resurrection.

[Activities: Learn about wax seals on paper and objects… and how they represent authority. Read Book of Revelation, wherein Jesus opens the seals. Learn about anointing oils and spices. Learn about / practice good bereavement ministry.]

*1st Day & 2nd Night in Tomb*

Saturday – 15th: Jesus still in the grave. Rest (Shabbat)

Application: Remember that God is at work in every circumstance, which means we can rest/trust in Him…even in the darkest/loneliest times. He has completed all the work, and He gives life and opportunity for sustenance.

[Activities: Take off from work but do remember to do good. Do trust-building group/family activities. Honor Fathers.]

*2nd Day & 3rd Night in Tomb*

Sunday – 16th: Resurrection before Dawn (very early in the morning the women came, He already was risen just as He predicted more than 3 times).

Application: Recognize the prophetic aspect of “Feast of First Fruits.”

*Arose on the 3rd Day*

[Activities: Worship & Declare the Risen Messiah/Savior; Read 1 Corinthians 15; 1 Thessalonians 4]

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OTHER RESOURCES: (On the Holy Week Timeline and Harmony of the Gospels)

Bible Gateway 

Got Questions

The Gospel Coalition

Bible.org

Christ In Prophecy: the Passion in Prophecy

Dr. Michael Heiser on Enoch and Ancient Near East Mythologies that Bear Context for the Bible [video links]

The Watchers and the Origins of Evil

The Sin of the Watchers

The Book of Enoch

The Watchers and Water Baptism

Whence Christmas?

These days, Christians everywhere face persecution for their beliefs. One example is in the name “Christmas.” Non-believers, let alone overt pagans, do not like the name. For example, the U.K. just decided that it’s ok to call say Christmas, …for now. But others are enduring lawsuits over display of a “Christmas tree.” Nativity scenes are just as contested, if not moreso.

Within Christendom, Christmas is also controvercial, due to its inaccuracy concerning the actual birth of Jesus / Yeshua, and also because December 25th evidently has pagan roots.

A few weeks ago, Lamb’s Harbinger posted an article by Dr. David Reagan and Dr. James Ya’akov Hugg at Lamb & Lion Ministries. The article asks the question, “When was Jesus Born?” It most precisely uses data from the Bible record as well as historical data to arrive at an accurate date of Feast of Tabernacles (late September / early October)… in the years B.C. 5-4. [The Jewish calendar runs through 2 years, similar to the way a modern school calendar spans 2 years. See timeline below, all credit due Dr. James Ya’akov Hugg]

chart_jcbirth.jpg

Now, researchers and Christian apologists such as Lenny Esposito and Sean McDowell have argued for Christmas (observed December 25th) as having truly Christian origins. The articles are found linked below:

Mr. Esposito goes to great lengths, exhuming ancient records of the early church and 3rd Century Rome—which precede the time of Constantine—in order to prove that Christmas is not based off of Pagan religious festivals such as Saturnalia, Ophelia, Winter Solstice & Sigillaria. Mr. Esposito’s research features a pièce de résistance. He shows that the Roman way of calculating months places these feasts from December 17th – 23rd (3-7 days). From that, he asserts no early Christians could have been copying a pagan holiday, when first celebrating what we now call Christmas. Amid these arguments, Mr. Esposito also inserts that Dies Natalis Solis Invictus—a Roman celebration of Sun worship (at the Winter Solstice, “birth of the new sun”)—began to be celebrated on December 25th, 354 A.D. From that, Mr. Esposito gathers,

the charge of Christians chose December 25 in order to “Christianize” or even just appease a pagan populous is weak at best.

One is tempted to see it Lenny Esposito’s way. His argumentation is fairly persuasive. However, there are 2 major flaws with his reasoning.

  1. Mr. Esposito completely omits any mention of the biblical data presented by scholars such as Dr. Hugg and Dr. Reagan. He instead relies almost solely on tradition, going so far as to cite teachings from Augustine (who admits he quotes tradition) that mystically align Jesus’ conception and birth (“Christmas”) to his death and resurrection (“Easter”)… on a Roman [equinox and solstice] calendar. Even ancient tradition is still tradition. As biblicists, we place Scriptural data above tradition, even from the 3rd Century A.D.
  2. Mr. Esposito fails to account for variances in the Julian and Gregorian calendars, and also, astronomical variances, such as shift in earth’s axes and the adjustment of Solstices.

For the first error, Dr. Reagan and Dr. Hugg precisely and accurately prove the biblical data is accurate for reaching an appropriate date.

For the second error, I offer the following. Calculating Winter Solstice to the time of 1 A.D. – 48 A.D., [as far back as calculators generally tabulate] reveals December 22nd and 23rd as  the dates between which Winter Solstice oscillated at the time of Jesus’ life and the first 15-20 years of the early Church. Since Mr. Esposito concedes that Saturnalia and Sigillaria center around this Solstice and last a total of 3-7 days, one can see December 25th falls directly at the Mid-point of the pagan festival set. If we forward those calculations to the time of the 3rd Century A.D., we arrive at December 21st and 22nd as the placement of Winter Solstice… still plenty of time for December 25th to fall within the 3-7 day set of pagan festivals.

Taking this more nearly accurate astronomical data into account, it is easy to say that December 25th was accepted by 3rd Century, pre-Constantine, “paganized” Christianity as a date that would consistently fall within the pagan winter festivals of Rome. Mr. Esposito takes the view that Christianity always was prevailing in Roman society. That is simply not historically honest. The first 10 emperors of the Church’s existence persecuted them repeatedly. Amid those persecutions were attempts to pollute pure Christianity. The Apostles attest to these kinds of onslaughts in their letters.

Genuine Christians have never attempted to “Christianize” anything pagan, according to the biblical command found in 1 Corinthians 6:16-18. However, pagans have always tried to “paganize” Christianity. While Lenny Esposito correctly states “the charge [that] Christians chose December 25 in order to “Christianize” or even just appease a pagan populous is weak at best,” he also needs to consider another possibility. From 30’s A.D. to 354 A.D., Rome took advantage of 320+ years worth of time to persecute, distort and pollute genuine Christianity. Given that view, is it not possible that Romanization and paganizing led to a divergent Christendom? That false Church began its compromise by complying with Saturnalia and Sigillaria in early centuries… and eventually (by 354 A.D.) embraced the pagan Dies Natalis Solis Invictus date of December 25 as the commemoration of the birth of Christ.

Thus saith the Lord, Learn not the way of the heathen, and be not dismayed at the signs of heaven; for the heathen are dismayed at them.

For the customs of the people are vain: for one cutteth a tree out of the forest, the work of the hands of the workman, with the axe.

They deck it with silver and with gold; they fasten it with nails and with hammers, that it move not.

Jeremiah 10:2-4 (KJV)

All this being said, I am careful not to judge the motives of current-day believers who celebrate the incarnation of Yeshua / Jesus on December 25th. As a very good friend and wise brother says,

I think it would be good for us, as a church, to move away from using the word “Christmas” to describe the day in which we celebrate the birth of Jesus. Much like using the word “Easter” has become synonymous with bunnies distributing eggs, Christmas has become synonymous with obsessive self-centered commercialism that has nothing to do with celebrating the birth of Jesus…. 

Paul said “Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the Sabbath days” (Colossians 2:16)….

There are certainly some parallels that could be drawn regarding an ancient pagan rituals that include similar things we see in what has become traditional Christmas customs. Does that mean that the redeemed must abandon any and all practices that some pagan group decides that they want to include in their rituals? Certainly not. When researching several years ago, I could not find any pagan group that claimed December 25th as a day to worship their false gods/idols or conduct satanic rituals. It doesn’t mean that it didn’t happen in the past, I think that it most certainly did. I am just stating that I couldn’t find any contemporary pagan groups claiming the day….

It is important to note that all of the Earth and all things on & in the Earth were created by God. While God created all things… Satan created nothing. The evil one is an imposter, thief, a liar & deceiver, and while wickedly inventive and resourceful; the devil is not a creator. Satan, while originally cognizant of the truth of God, has promulgated the body of lies he spins to humankind for so long that I would not be surprised if he hasn’t somehow convinced himself that the lies are truth. Why else would he continue to rage against God if he believed he was truly doomed? We know that it is simply Satan’s nature to lie about God’s truth and elevate his own prominence and power while promoting his rebellious agenda.   

My point is this; if pagans claim a day of the year to hold celebrations, has God somehow lost the day or is no longer in control of the day? Is the day no longer HIS? Certainly not. My guess is that most Christians would say that they celebrate Christ’s incarnation on and or around what has become known as the Christmas holiday season. 

Just because several centuries ago some pagans used a day in December for their worship of idols and false gods, it does not mean that Christians cannot celebrate the birth of our Lord on whatever day(s) they choose. There is nothing inherently sacred or evil about any particular day. It’s what is in an individual’s heart that defiles him or her.

The Apostle Paul—in 1 Corinthians 8—clarifies that there is nothing evil in meat itself, but placed the prohibition on eating such meat which came from the pagan temple only IF it offended a weaker brother. He said they should abstain in order not to offend or put a stumbling block before a young Christian or the Jews who thought is was wrong. The meat itself was not tainted because it came from pagan temple. That is a substantial lesson to be grasped. 

The principle God is teaching is clear. A specific day of the year is not sinful. There is nothing evil about the 25th day of December. If true believers want to honor and worship the Lord on Dec. 25 and remember His birth there is no scripture that prohibits it. True Christian believers are not involved in sinful behavior… on December 25 or any other day of celebration. 

When born-again, Blood-washed believers celebrate Dec. 25, they are celebrating the birth of our Lord Jesus (even though you and I both know that He was born around late September or early October)! 

We see Sha’ul (Paul) writes that the mature balance in such matters is to “become all things to all men that by all means [we] might save some” (1 Corinthians 9:19-23). We should be ready to change custom, cultural habits, societal status, and dietary restrictions for the Good News’ sake, so long as these do not lead us to worship in pagan ways and thought, or join with them in their worship (2 Cor. 6:14). 

In conclusion, this is a time when Christians are persecuted everywhere. Christmas is so closely associated with celebrating Yeshua / Jesus as the incarnate Messiah that whole nations and the international community are trying to decide if it’s ok to say “Christmas.” Since this is a matter of being salt and light—a chance to preach Jesus; and since no pagans  (besides the apostate Roman Catholic Church) claim Christmas, I will not abandon celebrating Christmas. But, if a believing brother or sister think celebrating Christmas is wrong for them, then I will do everything in my power to show deference by not celebrating in their presence or forcing them to celebrate.

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OTHER RESOURCES:

Who’s the Weak One?

Conservative Americana vs. Biblical Christian Culture 

What Christians Mean by “the World” and “Worldly” [Presentation]

What do Christians mean by “the World,” which the Bible states is in opposition to God’s kingdom? Get a biblical definition of “world” in its spiritual denotation; learn the difference between being fleshly (worldly, carnal) and being “spiritually minded.” Also, discover many practical means for being aware of worldliness in your own heart and in the symbols & societal agendas around you.

defining-the-world [.pptx]