Defiling The Temple

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Posted by Truth Ignited on Monday, November 26, 2018

 

If anyone defiles the temple of God, God will destroy him. For the temple of God is holy. And you are His temple.
~1 Corinthians 3:17 (MEV)

            Most people when reading this verse automatically stop at the direct context and common interpretation of the passage: the human body as God’s Temple and the concept of taking care of our personal health in accordance with our body serving as God’s Temple. This is important, and I will touch on that in this message. But with the celebration of Hanukkah approaching, a minor biblical feast that we see even Yeshua appears to have celebrated (see John 10:22-23), it got me to thinking about the idea of defiling God’s Temple on a larger scale.

            After all, Hanukkah itself is built around the cleansing of Yahweh’s Holy Temple after it had been defiled, another matter I will speak of in this message. However, the concept and model of God’s Temple is woven throughout The Bible, even in the very beginning within the first few chapters of Genesis. And that will be the ultimate goal of this message, leading us to the grander picture of God’s Temple—not a Temple made by the hands of men and not even the mortal body of human persons as a Temple for God to dwell in, but a picture of the Temple that spans the globe. The Temple buildings were made by men and human beings even have a role in the creation of other human beings, but no mortal man has been known to create an entire planet—that is an accomplishment attributable only to God.

            So let us begin to take a look at the idea of defiling God’s Temple, as it is revealed in its many forms, and consider what we, as Believers, should be doing to restore the Temple in the same spirit as the Temple was restored in the period of the Maccabees which led to the celebration we know today as Hanukkah, also known as The Feast of Dedication and the Festival of Lights.

The Story Of Hanukkah

Maccabee“But will God indeed dwell with mankind on the earth? Behold—heaven even the highest heaven—cannot contain You. How much less this House that I have built!”
2 Chronicles 6:18 (TLV)

            It is interesting, isn’t it? Solomon, who is labeled by the Scripture as the wisest man to ever live, recognized that a Temple built by men could not possible contain the fullness of God. Yet, despite that, God required the Temple to be built.

            We could debate about the reasons behind the construction of this Temple, but that is not the purpose of this message. I will say, however, that it would appear in this verse that the Temple must have been built more for God’s people than God Himself. After all, if the heavens and the cosmos cannot contain the fullness of God, then whatever presence He offered in this Temple was such a small part of His being that there may not be enough decimal places to calculate the percentage of God that dwelt in this man-made structure. Perhaps whatever little bit of God was present in this Temple was all a human being could endure without being instantly obliterated by the holiness of His fullness, as is indicated from when He passed by Moses.

            The Temple, as well as the wilderness Tabernacle before it, offers a very important picture of the Temple model as a whole. It seems it is for this reason that the Temple structure holds such an important place of prominence in the story of The Bible—the story of God’s mission in His Creation.

            Thus, the Temple is central to the setting of events not only with ancient Israel but also within the record of the life and ministry of Yeshua, our Messiah. But it almost wasn’t this way. In the period of time that most Christians have been taught is the “Intertestamental Period”—the period of time between what Christians refer to as the “Old Testament” and the “New Testament”—the land of Israel fell under the rule of the evil Roman king Antiochus. And that is where we will draw our attention, if for just a moment, so that we may set the tone for the deeper meaning behind Paul’s warning to not just the Church in Corinth but to all who would call upon Yeshua for salvation regarding the defiling of the Temple.

Not long after this, the king sent an Athenian senator to compel the Jews to forsake the laws of their fathers and cease to live by the laws of God, and also to pollute the temple in Jerusalem and call it the temple of Olympian Zeus, and to call the one in Gerizim the temple of Zeus the Friend of Strangers, as did the people who dwelt in that place. Harsh and utterly grievous was the onslaught of evil. For the temple was filled with debauchery and reveling by the Gentiles, who dallied with harlots and had intercourse with women within the sacred precincts, and besides brought in things for sacrifice that were unfit. The altar was covered with abominable offerings which were forbidden by the laws. A man could neither keep the Sabbath, nor observe the feasts of his fathers, nor so much as confess himself to be a Jew.
~1 Maccabees 6:1-6

            As the story goes, apart from what is documented in the book of 2 Maccabees, there came a time when Antiochus called for a pig to be sacrificed on the Altar of Incense inside of God’s Temple itself. By this time he had already erected a giant statue of the Roman god Zeus inside the Temple, so this pig would have been slaughtered at the feet of this Roman idol.

            Obviously a pig is an unclean animal, perhaps the vilest of creatures in the eyes of God’s people. The act of sacrificing a pig on the altar in God’s Temple would be seen by faithful Israelites as the ultimate slap in the face toward Yahweh their God.

            Throughout the story of the Maccabees we find records of Jewish people being forced to eat the flesh of pigs at the threat of death. We also see those who refused and that threat became a harsh reality.

            As the story continues a small band of warriors rose up under the leadership of a man named Judah, who would be given the nickname Maccabee (which means “hammer”). This small army is said to have stood strong against the tyranny of Antiochus and won back the land of Israel and the city of Jerusalem.

            After their victory they made it a priority to restore God’s Temple that had been so grossly defiled. Ridding this holy site of the idols of Rome and replacing altar stones that had been tainted with the blood of swine they cleansed the Temple and prepared it for worship to Yahweh to be restored.

            According to legend they only had enough oil to burn for one night and it would take eight days to prepare more. The decision was made that they could not wait and chose to light the menorah in the Temple. It is believed that they were desperate not only to reinstitute worship in general but also wanted to celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles, despite it being well past the time of the celebration, and did not want to wait another year. Tabernacles, after all, is referred to as the season of our joy and the people were certainly rejoicing that they were once again able to freely worship God. As the legend continues, the oil they had miraculously burned for the entire eight nights, the time it would take to prepare more oil and perhaps during the full course of a belated Feast of Tabernacles celebration.

            Regardless of why or how this played out in reality, it continued on and became known as the Feast of Dedication, or Hanukkah (which is the Hebrew word for dedication). If you would like to know more about the Feast of Hanukkah and gain some understanding of how it is celebrated today you can read the article I have published in the past Taking Back Our Holy Days: Hanukkah and the Hanukkah Service Guide I put together.

            Hanukkah is a celebration of the rededication of God’s Temple after it was cleansed. But as I stated earlier, the Temple seems to represent things much bigger than a mere structure built by the hands of men. Having set the tone with this great story of heroism, a story that appears was made necessary to ensure there was a Temple for our Messiah when He came to provide a path to salvation for all humanity, I want to discuss two grander perspectives of the Temple, considering defilement that has come to each Temple. Incidentally, much of the defilement of these two Temples is also the result of the sacrifice, in a matter of speaking, of pigs.

            I believe that as you read this it will give you a much deeper understanding of the Hanukkah celebration and a greater interest in celebrating is, as well as all of the Feasts of Yahweh. So with that, I will present you with each of these greater Temples of God. But before we get into the rest of this message, consider what Messianic Jewish author Kevin Geoffrey says in his wonderful little book The Real Story Of Chanukah: Dedicated to The Death:

When I gaze upon the Hanukkah lights, my thoughts are not of miracles and merriment, but of the fire that still blazes in the heart of God, returning for my people to return wholeheartedly to Him. I think of those of my kin who fought and died for His Name, refusing to forget that ADONAI set them apart for a purpose… and I think of those who dwell today in presumed safety and freedom—to live as we please—having forgotten who God made us to be.

Are we willing to face arrest and torture; whipping and scourging; scalping and maiming? Are we prepared to have our tongues cut out, our hands and feet lopped off, our skin and hair ripped from our bodies? Could we bear being seared in a boiling caldron, our life billowing out of us in a cloud of smoke, fried away as steam from our mangled bodies? Would we still praise our Maker while being forced to watch out loved ones tormented and made sport of… every single one of our children butchered before our eyes?

…or can we as disciples of Messiah barely endure a harsh word or a nasty look for the sake of our convictions?

They (those oppressed by Antiochus Epiphanies) “died undefiled”. The question is…

…would we?

The Temple In The Human Body

human-heart-3d-model-5            In the opening text, 1 Corinthians 3:17, we find it stated that we, individual Believers, are the Temple of God. To build on that, 1 Corinthians 6:19 says that Believers are the Temple of the Ruach HaKodesh (Spirit of Holiness) and in Galatians 2:20 Paul talks about Messiah Yeshua living in and through him—so we can conclude that the physical body of the Believer is the Temple of Yeshua as well. Rex Russell, M.D., says in his book What The Bible Says About Healthy Living: “Caring for your body—the temple of His Holy Spirit—is a way of showing your joyful acceptance of His indwelling.” As we dig into this section of the message, I want you to really think about Kevin Geoffrey’s questions and ask yourself: If I died today, would I die undefiled?

            Considering this concept from The Bible’s Apostolic Writings, particularly the teachings of Paul, that our body is God’s Temple we are faced with another very important question: Are we defiling God’s Temple today?

            When you really stop and think about it, the design of the human body is very similar to the layout of the Tabernacle of Moses and the Temple in Israel. When we look at the design of the body from this perspective, we can consider the human heart as being equal to the Most Holy Place where sat the Ark of the Covenant.

            One of the main characteristics of the heart is a series of arteries that have been named the coronary arteries because they resemble a crown, as the Latin word for crown is corona and many medical terms come from Latin. This can be said, from a spiritual perspective, to liken the human heart to a position of royalty. It would be the place where God’s throne sits in your life.

            This is a very important concept when dealing with modern Christians today who make statements like, “That’s not what it means to me,” in regard to their attitude toward things that in reality conflict with the standard of Scripture. In Judges 17:6 and 21:25 it is stated that, “In those days there was no king in Israel and the people did whatever seemed right in their own eyes.” It always seems to be the reality that whenever people take the not what it means to me mindset there is clearly no king in Israel—in other words, The King has not been given authority from His throne room in the heart of the person making this declaration.

            I don’t want to get too ahead of myself here, but I find it interesting that one of the top testimonies I have received from people when speaking more directly on the biblical food laws comes from people who stop eating unclean things, most specifically pork and shellfish, and found that heart related conditions improved or disappeared altogether. Pork and several other meats on the unclean list from Leviticus 11 and Deuteronomy 14 seem to be connected to many heart-related diseases and one of the first things some Doctors tell their patients to do when cardiovascular conditions are identified is to stop eating these things.

            Have you ever noticed that the Feasts of Yahweh given in The Torah are harvest festivals that focused on the provision of the earth? While Hanukkah developed later in history and is not a harvest festival per se, the commanded Feasts of Yahweh found in Leviticus 23 and elsewhere in Scripture are times when the best foods from Creation are brought together for a grand fellowship with God and men with only those things that God’s Word labels as food.

            In contrast to this, just look one of the major religious festivals of modern times—that secular-pagan holiday that has most Christians enamored: Christmas. The customary main course eaten for dinner at Christmas is pork ham, a meat that is listed as unclean according to The Bible and, as already noted, is well known for its negative effects on human health. Of course, all unclean animals have been shown to have negative effects on human health to some degree, but pork products are certainly at the top and even links to cancer have been proposed by some medical research groups.

            Even the American cultural holiday Thanksgiving, which likely has connections to the biblical Feast of Tabernacles, is being tainted by the consumption of pork products. Traditionally a turkey is eaten for this celebration, along with numerous dishes representing a bountiful harvest. But more and more pork ham is becoming a main course of choice, even among Christians. As I am writing this in a year when Hanukkah will be celebrated in the early part of December, unlike most years when it is much closer to Christmas, the Thanksgiving holiday is currently taking place. Just the other day I was listening to a Christian minister I know talking about how he was going to have a 16 pound country ham at his Thanksgiving celebration. My question is: How do you give thanks to God by eating pork? It would be hilarious if it wasn’t so absurd.

            To make matters worse, that particular minister often refers to John 14:15 when requesting parishioners to give tithes and offerings, where Yeshua said, “If you love Me, keep My commandments.” While a case can obviously be made that tithes and offerings are within the 613 commandments of Torah, which are the commandments Yeshua would have been referring to, so are the commandments regarding clean and unclean animals—the food laws. These preachers don’t seem to know how absolutely hypocritical and demonically manipulative it is to use a verse like this to collect money from people while bragging about the abomination they are committing before the God they claim they serve. I wouldn’t mind at all using this verse to call parishioners to give financially into ministry work, as long as the person using it actually follows the commandments. When I know that’s not happening, I’ve already stopped taking anything you say seriously.

            In addition, I advise you to be very cautious about “food products” made from artificial ingredients. Not only are these things generally bad for your health, they also defy Creation by saying that what God created was not good enough and so we humans need to improve what God apparently didn’t get right. This alone should be reason enough to avoid anything with the word “artificial” in the listed ingredients of a food product and to completely shun and even fight against the growing trend of Genetically Modified Organisms. When you eat such things you are literally setting yourself as a warrior against God’s Creation. I will talk more about that in a moment.

            Something else that is worth mentioning here as we deal with the idea that your body is the Temple of God and the Temple of God’s Spirit of Holiness—as well as a dwelling place for Messiah Yeshua—is the modern practice of tattoos. Leviticus 19:28 is quite adamant in its commandment against tattooing your body. There are arguments made regarding the purpose of this commandment, but, as I have often said in the past, there is wisdom in erring on the side of caution, which in this case would mean obeying the plain reading of the commandment and not getting a tattoo.

            I find it quite perplexing that Christians today are so enamored by this practice. In my article The Mark Of God I provide a very thorough breakdown of what Scripture says regarding tattoos and how the modern Christian proponents of them are manipulating The Bible to justify the practice, so I will not repeat that here. I recommend taking the time to read that message if it is a topic of interest to you or if you know someone who needs to know the full truth of the matter on it.

            One thing that is interesting, I have found, is that tattoo ink affects the body beyond the “artistic display” one displays on their body. According to articles like Tattoo Ink May Stain Your Lymph Nodes published by The Smithsonian Magazine and What Happens to Tattoo Ink After It’s Injected into Your Skin published by Live Science the inks used in tattoos can stain your lymph nodes and cause them to swell. It also seems that there can be some negative affects on the liver as well, and perhaps other parts of the body.

            You can call it coincidence if you want, though I don’t really believe much in coincidences, but one well-known high-profile Pastor I am aware of used to preach against getting tattoos, among many other biblical standards he upheld in the past. But then he decided, for whatever reason, to change his views on this particular Torah commandment and started to actually get tattoos. What really fascinated me was that within maybe a couple of months of coming across this preliminary research that suggests these affects of tattoo ink I heard this same Pastor talking about how he had a situation where his lymph nodes had swollen up, though whatever happened had apparently cleared.

            Now, of course I cannot say that there is a connection to his relatively new tattoos that he chose to start getting after about 30 or 40 years of preaching against the practice and the swelling of his lymph nodes. I do, however, believe that everything has prophetic significance and, as already stated, that there really are no coincidences. Whether or not there is a physical connection where the ink from his tattoos was the cause of his swollen lymph nodes on that occasion, I cannot get past the reality that he made this announcement so close to when I came across this information.

            Your body is a Temple, that is a reality of Scripture. What you put in your body, on your body, or expose your body to is a spiritual act more than a physical act. If you eat the flesh of pigs and contract the pork tape worm that people like to talk about—which is a real thing, even if it is not nearly as common as some people make it sound—that’s just a physical manifestation of your already contaminated spirit, because if you eat unclean things it’s because your spirit is not clean. If you start getting tattoos and the ink gets into your bloodstream and negatively impacts your physical health in some way, it’s just a physical manifestation of your spiritual rebellion against Torah. If you hang out with people who smoke cigarettes and get throat cancer from the second-hand smoke, it’s merely the result of not living a separated life—come out from among them and be separate, do not touch what Yahweh calls unclean, and THEN He will receive you.

That ONE Commandment…

Torah            I realize that whenever I get to teaching on topics and the food laws or the regulation against getting tattoos or some other thing that the majority of Christians want to disagree with me on comes up people act like that’s the only thing I ever talk about. I once had someone tell me the only thing I ever talk about from the Bible is “don’t eat pork” so I went through all of my posts, for several weeks if not longer, and I found I think two status updates that had anything to do with that subject. Why was it the only thing they thought I talk about then? I propose that perhaps because it is the only topic I teach that they take a major objection to—one of the only biblical commands that they are openly in rebellion to and don’t want to get right with God regarding that one.

            Let’s look at it this way: Let’s assume you have been given over to the care of a child. It doesn’t matter if it is your own child that you are responsible to raise to adulthood or someone else’s child that you are watching for an hour. Now let’s say that you give this child ten instructions to follow—we could call them Ten Commandments. The child follows all of these rules perfectly… except for one. You wouldn’t sit the child down to have a lengthy discussion about the nine they obeyed, right? Of course not! There is no need to discuss what they already understand. You would sit them down and have a real heart-to-heart about that one they seem to have ignored.

            Recently I was reading a book that discusses the balance between law and grace within The Bible. In the book the author referred to the actual Ten Commandments, you know, those ones laid out in Exodus 20. In his discourse he implied that the “commandment number four” might not apply today. The rest he had no issue with, in his point of view those were all still absolutely binding on Christians today, no exception. It was only that fourth one that was called into question.

            It would seem to me, then, that the fourth commandment is the one that we should be talking about. What does the WHOLE Bible have to say about that fourth commandment? Is it addressed in Genesis? Did the Apostles have anything to say about it, including Paul? Do we see indications that Yeshua kept it? Broke it? How about new covenant Believers in the Book of Acts? Did they keep it or break it? Is there any concrete indication in The Bible that this commandment was voided, abolished, nullified, abrogated, altered, changed, or simply faded away? Does anything in the prophetic writings of Scripture indicate that commandment will be upheld in the Millennium?

            These are among the many questions that need to be asked and discussed about this one commandment if it is the one that a prominent Christian author is going to call into question as maybe that one doesn’t apply today. What is that fourth commandment?

Remember Yom Shabbat, to keep it holy. You are to work six days, and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Shabbat to Adonai your God. In it you shall not do any work—not you, nor your son, your daughter, your male servant, your female servant, your cattle, nor the outsider that is within your gates. For in six days Adonai made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day. Thus Adonai blessed Yom Shabbat, and made it holy.
~Exodus 20:8-11 (TLV)

            I will tell you, that commandment is addressed in Genesis, God Himself observed it on the seventh day of His Creation Week. Yeshua kept it, and it says it was His custom to attend Synagogue services on the Sabbath. His followers kept it, as Luke records that the women who prepared spices for Messiah’s dead body rested from that work on the Sabbath because of the commandment. The Apostles kept it, Acts records 85 Sabbath Days where one or more of the Apostles adhered to the same custom as their Master, Yeshua, in attending the Synagogue services on that seventh day of the week. The prophets do tell us that in the Millennium all people from all nations will keep the Sabbath. And there is absolutely nothing in The Bible to indicate in any way that the Sabbath has been voided or changed. Quite the contrary, as the Book of Hebrew tells us quite plainly: “there remains a Sabbath for God’s people.”

            Some people argue that there is nothing said in the “New Testament”—more accurately the Apostolic Writings—reiterating the keeping of the Sabbath Day, and therefore we can’t call it binding on Believers today. They point to a time Yeshua asked a young man about the commandments and named off nine of the ten, leaving out that fourth one, and claim that’s verification that we are not required to keep THE Sabbath today. I would propose to you that the reason we don’t see Yeshua or any of the Apostles nagging people about keeping that one is because, as the record bears out, EVERYONE WAS KEEPING IT! They had no need to tell people to keep the Sabbath; nobody was breaking the Sabbath.

            This is the conversation we need to have about any commandment of God from His Torah that people want to call into question. It doesn’t matter if it’s regarding the food laws, tattoos, the Feast Days, celebrating unbiblical or extrabiblical holidays with potential pagan connections, or wearing wool and linen together. The mere fact that these are commandments people question means that they are the ones that we should be talking about—all the time, annoyingly, until people “get it”.

            If you truly believe your body is God’s Temple, and if you truly believe that God IS God, then you will treat your body accordingly. It’s just that simple.

The Temple Of All Creation

Earth            Having looked briefly at the story of the Maccabean revolution that resulted in the restoration of God’s Temple, which had been defiled by a pagan king who many see as a foreshadow of the anti-Messiah when he sacrificed a pig on the altar, and the biblical concept from the Apostolic teachings regarding the likening of the human body as a Temple, I want to move now to a Temple model that many may not have thought of. Certainly if you have read some of my past articles that deal with the relationship between Torah obedience and the design of Creation or my article Out Of Egypt → Into Babylon, specifically the segment subtitled “The Mountain And The Tower”, you may already have some knowledge about the mountain as the peak of Yahweh’s source of supply and the tower/city system as humanity’s attempt to eliminate the need for reliance on God.

            Here I want to build on this line of thought and present Creation—the whole of this spinning globe we call Earth—as a Temple model.

To set the tone for this, I want to begin by looking at the prologue from Dr. Dinah Dye’s book The Temple Revealed In The Garden: Priests And Kings:

In the beginning, Elohim built a Temple called the Heavens and the Earth. Through Wisdom, Knowledge, and Understanding, the master craftsman formed His cosmic House from the dew of the seventh heaven, and He blew the breath of life into His creation. The Ruach (Spirit) of G-d hovered over the face of the waters like a mother bird building her nest.

Elohim cut a covenant, and His word bound Heaven and Earth together in marriage. Unity was sealed forever in the place where blazing tongues of fire radiate from the Throne of Glory—G-d’s Holy Oracle. A sign in the heavens confirmed His eternal oath: water and fire fused to fashion a rainbow-colored arc that connected Heaven to Earth.

Elohim laid immense beams over the upper waters, and He stretched out His chamber from one end of Heaven to the other. Inside the folds of His garment, vaults were filled with Heaven’s fresh waters. He carpeted His tent with thick darkness and hung a crystalline veil at its entrance. Cherubim clasping flaming swords stood like sentries at the opening of the firmament: a dome-shaped lid that covered the earth. Elohim’s chariot throne rested on parti-colored sapphire paving stones where a river of fire burst forth from underneath His earthly footstool. The king was clothed in dazzling light; He was dressed in splendor and majesty.

Soaring above the horizon, Elohim rode His glorious chariot on the wings of a storm. He divided His lower chamber into seven Yamim (days or stages) to mirror the upper. Elohim separated feminine elements from masculine: Earth from Heaven, light from darkness, waters below from waters above, land from sea, night from day. After the seas gathered and dry land appeared, He fastened Earth’s throne to a massive obsidian rock. Atop the foundation stone, He set a pure gold rectangular-shaped box filled with His seed, then He placed a golden lid upon it.

Elohim fashioned His lower House into three courtyards and filled each with His possessions: Heaven, the inner sanctum, contained all the celestial bodies. Earth, the inner courtyard, was filled with seed-producing plants, trees, and grasses. The seas formed the outer courtyard for the fish and great sea monsters that populated the deep. His lower house became the boundary that prevented the waters of chaos from crossing over.

On the seventh day, Elohim inaugurated His completed Temple for service. Creation rested; His royal house was filled with the fire of His glory. Accompanied by one hundred blasts of a ram’s horn, the hosts of Heaven paid homage to the Creator of the universe with shouts of joy and acclamation. The heavenly chorus worshipped, singing, “All Praise and Honor, Glory and Majesty, Blessing and Triumph, Dominion and Power to the Sovereign King.” Elohim’s throne was firmly established in the heavens; His Kingdom reigned over all.

At the climax of His creation, Elohim installed the human, Adam, as king and high priest to rule over the garden in Eden — located at the center of the cosmos. Adam sprouted up from the dust of the earth to become a mighty tree. His shade would cover the earth’s mountains. As king, he was to maintain order and stability — serving as the mediator between Heaven and Earth. As Elohim’s divine image-bearer, Adam was called to spread G-d’s seed and to expand the garden to Earth’s four corners. He was to rule the world in righteousness, justice, and peace and to preserve the created order through acts of worship so chaos could not destroy the Shalem (peace).

Eden was Elohim’s perfection where He dwelled “in the midst” of His creation. It was the Temple where His seed was sown to produce a harvest in His image and likeness. His seed was His most treasured possession!

            What many people miss in casual reading of the Genesis record when they browse the content in an English translation and try to understand it from a modern cultural mindset is that the garden was not Eden. Let’s take a look at two verses from the second chapter of Genesis.

Then Adonai Elohim planted a garden in Eden in the east, and there He put the man whom He had formed.
~Genesis 2:8 (TLV, emphasis added)

Then Adonai Elohim took the man and gave him rest in the Garden of Eden in order to cultivate and watch over it.
~Genesis 2:15 (TLV, emphasis added)

            Notice the use of the words in and of in these passages. Indeed, the garden was not Eden, but merely a sectioned out part of Eden. As Evan Eisenberg alludes to in his contribution to a great work pertaining to the Eco-Judaism Movement titled Torah Of The Earth, Vol. 1, Eden is actually believed by some scholars to have been a mountain.

            I have heard it presented that Eden was actually God’s Temple within Creation. It is further speculated that this Temple sat at the top of the mountain called Eden, thus demonstrating that all provision comes from God and His Temple.

            Now, it is not my goal in this message to go too deep into the theology that presents Eden as a Temple model. In bringing this out I merely want to give you a vision of the whole of Creation, the totality of planet Earth—of which Eden may be God’s original name for this planet, all things considered—from the perspective of a Temple model. In doing so, let us consider the defilement of the Temple of Yahweh’s Creation, the Temple that is the Earth.

            In my article Embracing Creation: Fulfilling Your Destiny In The Earth I presented a documented study and a historical record that show the destruction caused by pigs in regions they are not native to—destruction that has gone as far as causing the extinction of native species. The reason these pigs were in these regions was quite specifically a result of humans using them as a source of food, something The Bible forbids, as pigs are an unclean animal according to Leviticus 11 and Deuteronomy 14. In another article I presented a similar path of destruction caused by eating unclean aquatic species, but I want to draw particular attention to pigs.

            Why focus on pigs? For one thing, it was a pig that is said to have been sacrificed on the altar in God’s Temple by a man who stood at the highest level of opposition to Yahweh. Also, unlike other scenarios that can be presented where the destruction of ecosystems is a secondary result of the removal of certain species of unclean animals through overharvesting by humans (for their use as food), pigs actually become a primary contributor to the destruction in regions where they are not native.

            When pigs are introduced to certain regions they have been shown to kill off both essential plant and animal life by means of their insatiable dietary practice. Pigs eat. They have no restrain to how much they eat. They have no regard for what they eat. They simply eat whatever they can find, wherever they can find it, and as much of it as they can find. When in regions to which they are a native species, there is balance in the ecosystem as created by God and their destructive habits do not drive other native species to the brink of extinction. Yet, when put into environments they do not belong in they simply destroy the landscape and have been shown to go as far as causing the total extinction of entire species.

            This is all a result of one thing: people eating something that God said not to eat, a practice that goes all the way back to Genesis 3 where people ate from the one tree God said not to eat from. I mean, when you really stop and think about it, those who eat pork or other unclean things today are doing exactly what Adam and Eve did in the garden. This is especially true when Christians do this. Churches would do good to think about this when they have their fellowship picnics, potlucks, and other events where parishioners and/or hired food vendors bring in food. Any Pastor who does not enforce God’s Torah in establishing menu guidelines for such things will be held accountable to God for their neglect to do so.

            The Earth belongs to Yahweh, and everything in it—the world and all who live on it (see Psalm 24:1, 1 Corinthians 10:26). This is a very humbling statement for the Believer who embraces it. It is the full realization that nothing on this planet belongs to us and what we do with the resources of the planet we do, ultimately, with and to God’s Creation.

            Let me change gears for a moment here and talk about a topic you don’t hear a lot about. The Bible has a few things to say regarding textiles used in making clothes and other items where fabrics are used. Most of the time when a fabric is mentioned in The Bible it is a product of either wool or linen. What is interesting about these two fabric fibers is that we are also commanded not to wear them together (see Leviticus 19:19, Deuteronomy 22:11).

            Most clothing today, however, is made from either cotton or some type of man-made fiber like polyester (which is basically a form of plastic, if you didn’t know that). There are a lot of claims about the environmental impact of manufacturing these artificial fabrics as well as the impact they can have on your health.

            I can tell you from personal experience that in the past, before I began to discover the wisdom contained in God’s Torah and embracing His Creation as my source of provision, that polyester fabrics seem to greatly increase the risk of skin rashes. This may not affect everyone the same way, but when I got away from regularly wearing shirts made from polyester and started wearing cotton and linen I noticed that I rarely got any type of a skin rash. Additionally, as stated by some claims by researchers, I have found that linen clothing may actually aid in getting rid of a skin rash.

            Now, many of these claims are seen as questionable to some, even to the point where they are written off as the sensational conclusions of pseudoscience. Additionally, there are negative environmental impacts with natural fibers too as many commercial growers of cotton and linen use pesticides and herbicides on their farms. But, again, that would be the use of a man-made product. Fortunately there are growing trends to produce organic cotton and linen for use in the textile industry.

            Regardless of what research says regarding any of this, however, I want to remind of what I said earlier. Production of anything artificial in place of something that nature produces is ultimately an action of saying that what God made is not good enough and we humans need to fix what God got wrong. That’s what the production of artificial products is all about.

            Now, some modern technologies like computers, smartphones, and automobiles may be a little more complicated. Yes, the manufacture of such things can cause environmental problems and certainly automobile emissions have long been an ecological problem. But at the same time, way more good can be done in caring for Creation with computers, and the Internet certainly makes it possible to spread much needed messages to mass audiences today. Also, there are efforts toward making eco-friendly automobiles, and I recommend that as soon as you are in a position to purchase your next vehicle you look into one of these eco-friendly options. Also, these technologies are not really replacing anything in nature the way man-made fabrics, heavily processed foods, and genetically modified organisms are, so there is nothing to say that your computer or car is made by people trying to make a better computer or a better car than God made.

            It would be ideal if everyone got a plot of land, raised all their own food, and lived within nature the way it appears God originally designed. Remember, He put us in a garden, not a city. But since that’s not realistic at this point in world history, we need to make smart choices in what we do. We might not be able to get around computers and cars, but we can absolutely wear clothes made from natural fibers and eat foods that are all natural and, as much as possible, grown organically. Basically, whatever products you can get from nature, then you should not buy artificial or synthetic alternatives. If you need a product that cannot be produced with wholly natural resources, like a car, computer, or some other type of product, be responsible, seek out the most eco-friendly option you can to meet your needs, and when the time comes, if at all possible, recycle it.

            As I have said in the past, the Babylonian system ultimately goes back to the creation of towers, generally called ziggurats, which became a man-made and man-controlled source of supply for early cities. What we have today with large metropolitan areas trying to eliminate as much of nature as can be eliminated from daily life and still survive is simply the evolution of ancient Mesopotamian and Babylonian culture that initiated the movement to eliminate Yahweh and His provision from the picture.

            I want to encourage you to move toward going natural in every area of your life as much as possible. Look for clothes made from natural fibers, from organically raised plants and animals if possible. Eat organic and all-natural foods within the clean food parameters of Torah. Wash your clothes and dinnerware with natural, organic if possible, plant-based soaps. Even the shampoo you use in the shower, look for something natural if not organic.

            Truly this is the best way you can possibly honor Yahweh the Creator of this world we live on.

            The Babylonian system controlling this world is ultimately set toward the destruction of this world. Consider what Sir Martin Rees, a British cosmologist and astrophysicist who has served as a professor at the prestigious Cambridge University, says in his book Our Final Hour:

The Earth’s biosphere has of course changed ceaselessly over its history. But the current changes—pollution, loss of biodiversity, global warming, etc.—are unprecedented in their speed.

The problems of environmental degradation will become far more threatening than they even are today. The ecosystem may not be able to adjust to them. Even if global warming occurs at the slower end of the likely range, its consequences—competition for water supplies, for example, and large-scale migrations—could engender tensions that trigger international and regional conflicts, especially if these are further fueled by continuing population growth. Moreover, such conflict could be aggravated, perhaps catastrophically, by the increasingly effective disruptive techniques with which novel technology is empowering even small groups.

I conclude this chapter with a sober assessment from Charles, Prince of Whales, whose views are seldom quoted approvingly by scientists: “The strategic threats posed by global environmental and development problems are the most complex, interwoven and potentially devastating of all the challenges to our security. Scientists … do not fully understand the consequences of our many-faceted assault on the interwoven fabric of atmosphere, water, land and life in all its biological diversity. Things can turn out to be worse than the current scientific best guess. In military affairs, policy has long been based on the dictum that we should be prepared for the worst case. Why should it be so different when the security is that of the planet and out long-term future?”

            Now I do realize that “global warming” is a controversial topic and there seems to be no overwhelmingly convincing evidence for or against the theory. In fairness, this book was written in 2003. But at the very least the rest of the statements made by Rees, as well as Prince Charles of whom he quotes, are certainly worthy to be heeded. “Global warming” might be a debatable topic, but loss of biodiversity, pollution, and what Prince Charles calls an assault on then entire planet are a frightening reality.

            As I have pointed out many times in the past, in Genesis 1:26-28 and 2:15 we find Yahweh commissioning humanity with the care of the Earth that He created for all living creatures. In contrast, Revelation 11:17-18 warns of a day when this very same Yahweh will come to destroy those who destroy the Earth. Now, I have nothing against men like Prince Charles, but it’s pretty bad when such a man makes more biblical sense than pretty much any and every Christian Pastor you may come across these days.

            A moment ago I mentioned how using natural and organic products is the greatest way you can honor our Creator. But let’s consider the other side of that coin in consideration of Revelation 11:17-18—when you wear artificial clothing like polyester, when you eat heavily processed “food products” and unclean animals like pigs and shellfish, when you use toxic poisons to clean your clothes, dishes, home, and body, you are a destroyer of the Earth. When you eat foods raised using dangerous pesticides and herbicides or genetically modified organisms you are a destroyer of the Earth. Even some of the technology I mentioned, like computers and automobiles, if you are not using them to promote the care of God’s Creation as much as you can, then they too make you a destroyer of the Earth. When you submit yourself to the ancient Babylonian system, apart from what is simply outside of your control, you are a destroyer of the Earth and, according to Revelation 11:18, Yahweh will destroy YOU!

            If you truly believe that the Earth belongs to God, and the fullness thereof, and if you truly believe that God IS God, then you will treat His world with care. It’s just that simple.

A New Approach To God’s Feasts

Ecology            The Feasts of Yahweh listed in Torah, those that occur in the Spring (Passover, Unleavened Bread, First Fruits, and Pentecost) and the Fall (Trumpets, The Day of Atonement, and Tabernacles), are harvest festivals initially instituted, at least in part, to give thanks to God for His provision to His people. As we increasingly approach the end of the age and the restoration of Creation through the prophesied new heaven and new earth, I have to pause and wonder if it is time for a reevaluation of these Feasts, and perhaps even the minor festivals of Purim, Hanukkah, and Tu B’Shvat, returning to a mindset of celebrating God’s provision that also focuses efforts toward repairing a broken world.

            As I am writing this message in anticipation of the celebration of Hanukkah, having used this unique festival as a foundation to draw a biblical ecological and personal health ethic upon, I want to look at an excerpt from Rabbi Arthur Waskow’s book Seasons Of Our Joy: A Modern Guide To The Jewish Holidays, where he proposes a new approach to Hanukkah:

As we have seen, the Rabbinic tradition was hostile to the Maccabees; and modern Zionism, identifying with the Maccabees, was often hostile to the Rabbis. Thus Hanukkah has been a kind of battlefield between “the Rabbi” and “the Maccabee” as models of Jewish life. Is there any way to integrate these conflicting orientations to Hanukkah?

From the standpoint of the Rabbi, Hanukkah celebrated God’s saving Spirit: “not by might and not by power…” To the Rabbi the spiritual enlightenment required a kind of inwardness and contemplation that was contradictory to insurgent politics.

From the standpoint of the Maccabee, Hanukkah celebrated human courage and doggedness, the human ability to make history bend and change. The need to organize, to act, to fight, to build might and use power, seemed the aspect of the Maccabee to contradict study, prayer, and contemplation.

Can a new generation of Jews help to resolve this contradiction? If our forebears repressed and ignored the sense of Hanukkah as a festival of the darkened moon and the darkened sun, what could we contribute by opening up to that aspect of the festival? What could we add by seeing Hanukkah as part of the nature cycles of the year and month?

Seen this way, Hanukkah is the moment when light is born from darkness, hope from despair. Both the Maccabean and Rabbinic models fall into place. The Maccabean revolt came at the darkest moment of Jewish history—when not only was a foreign king imposing idolatry, but large numbers of Jews were choosing to obey. The miracle at the Temple came at a moment of spiritual darkness—when even military victory had proven useless because the Temple could not be rededicated in the absence of the sacred oil. At the moment of utter darkness in Modin, Mattathias struck the spark of rebellion—and fanned it into flame. At the moment of utter darkness at the Temple, when it would have been rational to wait for more oil to be pressed and consecrated, the Jews ignored all reasonable reasons, and lit the little oil they had.

The real conflict is not between the Rabbi and the Maccabee, between spiritual and political, but between apathy and hope, between a blind surrendering to darkness and an acting to light up new pathways. Sometimes the arena will be in outward action, sometimes in inward meditation. But always the question is whether to recognize the darkness and transcend it.

The necessity of recognizing the moment of darkness is what we learn from seeing Hanukkah in its context of the sun and moon. There is no use pretending that the sun is always bright; there is no use pretending that the moon is always full. It is only by recognizing the season of darkness that we know it is time to light the candles, to sow a seed of light that can sprout and spring forth later in the year.

Seen this way, Hanukkah can become a time for accepting both the Maccabee and the Rabbi within us, seeing them as different expressions of the need to experience despair and turn toward hope. Seen this way, Hanukkah can become a resource to help us experience our moments of darkness whenever they occur throughout the year—and strike new sparks.

            Rabbi Waskow is a great voice within Orthodox Jewish circles in promoting a biblical ecology ethic through what has become known as Eco-Judaism. In looking at this discourse, there are several elements that I believe can point us toward a return to stewardship of the Earth through Hanukkah and the other Feasts and festivals found in Scripture.

            What is interesting is that Hanukkah takes place, in general, prior to or right around the time of the winter solstice. Now, I know people get all hung up about that term because of the wide association of pagan worship festivals connected to it, including the Saturnalia festival that has strong connections to the secular-pagan Christmas holiday. But really, from a purely scientific perspective, the winter solstice is simply the time when the solar cycle switches and days begin to get longer again, in preparation for spring when life comes back to the planet. Before pagan peoples developed religions around this cycle, it was and is something God Himself created within the natural order. Shortly after this solar transition comes another minor celebration called Tu B’Shvat, which is based on the biblical commandment to allow fruiting trees to come to maturity, which pertained to the tithe system in regard to fruit produced, and has become a celebration focused strongly on environmental responsibility.

            While a biblical calendar model, what many call the Hebrew calendar or God’s calendar, is structured differently than the solar-cycle calendar most of us live by today, I do find it interesting that Hanukkah falls at the end of the annual cycle of the sun and Tu B’Shvat at the beginning of it. These holidays, one barely mentioned in The Bible and the other only loosely based on a biblical principle, sit at the end-caps of the solar year. Between them are the major Feasts given in Torah as well as the Purim festival established by the events in the Book of Esther. As such, applying a strong ecology ethic built out of defilement of the Temple to Hanukkah, we conclude the year with a celebration that focuses on cleansing what was made unclean and begin the year with a celebration that focuses on the very beginning of new life. Between these we have two major Harvest Feast seasons in the spring and fall of the year that embrace Yahweh’s provision.

            Let’s contrast this, once again, with those secular-pagan holidays celebrated by most people, both in the Church and outside of the Church, of Christmas and Easter. At Christmas one of the top traditions is to cut down a tree from the forest, stabilize it with a base, adorn it with silver and gold and all manner of ornamentation, and in some cases even worship it with songs of homage like “Oh Christmas tree, Oh Christmas tree, how lovely are your branches…

            Think about the waste of natural resources that goes into this practice. I know there is not a lot dealing with Easter except maybe the practice of dying eggs for the egg hunt thing, and that only wasteful if the eggs are discarded afterward (which wouldn’t surprise me in many cases, as I know I wouldn’t want to eat an egg infused with chemical dyes… I know it’s the shell that is dyed, but I have seen plenty of times where the coloring agent gets past the shell and stains the egg white itself). So perhaps there is some level of waste in that celebration as well. This would also be contrary to the nature of Yeshua we see in Scripture who always had His disciples gather the leftovers ensuring no food was wasted.

            Now, I know that there are artificial trees used today, and if you celebrate Christmas or Hanukkah with a decorated tree (as the practice has been adapted into Hanukkah celebrations as well) that would probably be more advisable as it does not waste a natural resource… though, as discussed earlier, manufacture of artificial products has its own set of problems. But even though many people use fake trees, I still see hundreds, if not thousands, of real trees being sold for Christmas celebrations in parking lots and tree farms every year. And that’s just what I drive past, imagine how many millions of trees, possibly even billions, are put up in homes just to sit for a few weeks, serving no real practical purpose, only to be discarded. How different would the world be if we didn’t participate in such a practice? How much farmland could be committed to growing food if there were no trees being grown for this wasteful purpose?

            What I find interesting is that Isaiah speaks prophetically of what perhaps may be a time when people cease this practice of cutting down trees for no reason at all. Isaiah 14:7-8 reads, “The whole earth is at rest, and quiet. They break forth with a ringing cry! Even the cypress trees rejoice over you, along with the cedars of Lebanon: ‘Since you were laid low, no woodcutter comes up against us.’” Later in his writing we find that Isaiah 41:19-20 declares, “I will plant in the wilderness the cedar and the acacia tree, the myrtle and the olive tree. I will set in the desert the cypress tree and the pine together with the box tree—so they may see and know, consider and understand together, that the hand of Adonai has done this, the Holy One of Israel has created it.” This sure does make it sound like it is not really within God’s will for people to be cutting down trees for the purposes done with regard to Christmas celebrations. Yahweh is in the business of planting tress, not cutting them down. This is not to mention the strong resemblance between the practice and Jeremiah’s description of an idolatrous practice found in the tenth chapter of his book. While it’s true there is no valid historical connection between what Jeremiah describes and the modern Christmas tree, the description is very similar and Christmas trees in so many ways are themselves an idolatrous practice, as noted above.

            Really, I can’t help by see a vast contrast between the celebrations of The Bible—festivals that promote life and the wholeness of Creation—and the practices of these secular-pagan holidays that seem to only promote destruction of the planet and a very selfish attitude. As mentioned, we are commissioned to care for the Earth and warned against destroying the Earth. One set of celebrations promotes caring for Creation, the other perhaps the destruction of our planet. We should really take time to consider this when we are evaluating what things we choose to celebrate. Consider, in closing, these famous words from the Book of Joshua:

 “But if you don’t want to serve Yahweh, then choose today whom you will serve. Even if you choose the gods your ancestors served on the other side of the Euphrates or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you live, my family and I will still serve Yahweh.”
Joshua 24:15 (NOG)

~Blessings and Shalom~

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