Jeremiah 16:19 reminds us that we have “inherited lies from our fathers” ….and that there will come a time when people from all of the nations to which we will have been scattered will wake up and begin to question what we have been taught. Many of those ‘lies’ take the form of traditions that we accept without question. They’re so IMPORTANT to us that we just naturally seem to ASSUME that they must be just fine with God.
And maybe that is why some traditions — and, arguably, particularly the most pagan in origin — may be so pernicious, and inspire such vehement reaction when challenged. And perhaps the “acid test” of whether or not we are willing to separate ourselves from those lies that we have inherited from our fathers is the way in which react to those challenges. Do we “study, to show ourselves approved” and react like the Bereans, by searching out the Scriptures for ourselves? Or do we, like those who Yahushua called ‘hypocrites‘ in Matthew 15:7-9, “worship Him in vain, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men“?
On that score I will suggest that there are at least three obvious “hot buttons” that may give us a clue to our own willingness to accept His Word, rather than our own traditions. Here, then, are three nominations of my own for the “Biggest Hot Buttons” based on the traditions of men, but not of Scripture. All three are so pervasive, so widespread, that some Christians react with anger even to a mere questioning of their validity.
Certainly this season is one of the times when one of the biggest and most obvious of those comes “front and center”. It’s Xmas. But many people who have begun to return to a Hebrew-oriented mindset find that one a good place to start — along, of course, with the Sabbath. They both have to do with “appointed times” that our Father said to keep “forever“, but the ‘Church’ has said, “no you don’t” — not any more. His spring and fall feasts have essentially been forgotten entirely — or replaced by other alleged “holy” days. The Sabbath was changed, but by MEN, and not God. And, as many of us are now aware, SO was the alleged date of the birth of the Messiah.
It turns out that even a little bit of research will suffice to show that, no – “shepherds watching over their flocks by night” did NOT happen in late December, because it was too cold. But the ‘winter solstice’ was a time of great significance to worshipers of the various “sun gods”, and the pagan tradition was adopted in SPITE of the warnings like Deuteronomy chapters 7, and 12, and many others*. While Mithras and any number of other false pagan gods that shared December 25th birthday, the True Messiah never did.
It’s not too difficult to demonstrate that He was probably born in autumn, during the Fall Feasts of YHVH, and almost certainly at the time of Sukkot, or Tabernacles (coincidentally, the word could even be translated “mangers”), when all of the men of the land would have naturally been returning to Jerusalem as commanded anyway. What time would be more natural for the emperor to decree a tax census? When we study His Word in context, a consistent pattern of confirmation emerges.
Perhaps an almost as much of a “tradition of man” that has been accepted without question is the idea that a man can have only one wife, in spite of the repeated evidence of Scripture, from patriarchs and common men to kings, and the fact that YHVH not only allows but even on occasion commands the practice. Not only does He provide the rules for it, but even YHVH Himself says that He had more than one wife: Jeremiah 3, and Ezekiel 23. Check it out for yourself, and “see if these things are true”, or if the Messiah ever prohibited that which His Father did not. But “Monogamy” is treated today more like an idol than a tenet of Scripture. Like Christmas, and Easter, it may offend our tradition, even our sensibility, to discover that practices we accept or reject without question can be pleasing to us, but offensive to Him, and vice-versa. But the fact remains that the patriarch Yakov (Jacob) had four wives – and indeed all of the twelve tribes of Israel come through them — houses which those who follow Him today still seek to be “grafted in” to.
Worse still, however, is the problem that when we begin to rewrite His rules, especially for something as critical as marriage, the bitter fruit eventually becomes undeniable. Today, we even hear of “believers” willing to accept state-licensed so-called “gay marriage” that He clearly calls “abomination” – so long as it’s “Monogamous”, of course!
Finally, let us not forget the question of what is “food“, and what is NOT. This one, at least, has an interesting characteristic that it shares with the first two, but which is more easily seen. There are several places in Scripture where later texts have apparently been modified to “add” an interpretation which is not supported by the “words in red” of the Messiah Himself, or the Torah He quoted. For example, in Mark 7:19, some versions add words to the effect that “thus he declared all foods clean” — in spite of the fact that such a change would have clearly contradicted not only His own claim in Matthew 5:17, but the evidence of much of His own instruction! The question, of course, is “what did the Author of Scripture mean by the words translated as ‘food’?” Yahushua never declared pigs, for example, to BE food! And then there’s Peter’s famous dream (Acts 10:9-28). In contrast to much of ‘church’ teaching — and the traditions of fallen men — Peter actually TELLS us what the dream means (v 28), and that it is NOT about food, but about MEN! And not only that, but even years AFTER the death and resurrection of the Messiah, with Whom he walked and studied, Peter has STILL never eaten something which he knows is “NOT food”. If “Jesus declared all foods clean,” then why didn’t He tell Peter?
Indeed, there is a lesson for all of us in all of these three example of “hot buttons” — and it’s exactly what He preached and taught so many times, and in so many ways: “…by your traditions, you have made the commandments of YHVH of no effect.” (Matthew 15:6, Mark 7:13, etc)
We need to be sure that what we believe is true, really IS True — even to the point of,“let El be True – and every man a liar”. Thankfully, there’s an easy test: compare what we have been “told it says” with what is actually “Written”, just as Yahushua stated so many times in His first major public teaching, the ‘Sermon on the Mount’ of Matthew chapter 5. Not only is He the same, “yesterday, today, and tomorrow,” but His Word is CONSISTENT. He didn’t tell us to keep His Sabbaths “forever”, and then “do away” with them — much less substitute pagan traditions that He warned us about. He didn’t change His mind about what He calls “marriage” – and what He did not. And when He died in our place, He did not change the way OUR bodies, or that of pigs, were designed to work.
When our “tradition” – regardless of how we may feel about it – is in opposition to His Word, it’s we who should learn to change. He says, “If you love Me, keep my commandments,” and warns us confusing our tradition with His instruction.
No question – it’s hard for us to go back and re-examine our prized traditions. That’s particularly true of some, perhaps, as many who have begun the process are learning. But that’s an even better reason for making the effort, and earnestly seeking to see what He says about them, rather than assuming we know what He SHOULD have said!
* Jeremiah 10 is a shock to many people who can’t help but recognize one obvious pagan tradition in the description the prophet gives.