Jude 3, Contend…for the faith…once…delivered.
Beloved, while I was very diligent to write to you concerning our common salvation, I found it necessary to write to you exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints. (Jude 1:3, emphasis added)
In recent year there has been great awareness brought upon the subject of non-Christian cults by Christian apologetic organizations whose mission it is to defend the “historic Christian faith” against teachings they consider to be contrary to the Bible and to traditional or normative Christian theology and tradition.
Many well-meaning and sometimes misguided Christians in their zeal to protect Christian beliefs from the onslaught of cult groups who are attempting to missionize those around them including Christians have developed a fortress-like mentality where they deem everything a cult that does not agree with their understanding of the “historic Christian faith”. Yet many of these same Christians would be hard-pressed to give a dictionary definition of the word cult or to define it in terms of the sociological, psychological and theological perimeters laid out by those Christian theologians who have been pioneers in the area of cult awareness, Christian apologetics to cultists and defining what a cult is.
The author has a unique perspective on the subject of cultism having been born and raised in a name-brand cult till age 30 where upon leaving the cult he became an ordained Christian evangelist in a major Christian (Protestant) denomination where he evangelized those bound up in cultism.
Let us first define from Webster’s Dictionary the word cult:
- 1) a particular system of religious worship;
- 2) an instance of great veneration of a person, ideal, or thing;
- 3) the object of such devotion;
- 4) a group or sect bound together by devotion to or veneration of the same thing, person, ideal, etc…
- 5) religion that is considered or held to be false or unorthodox (Webster’s Encyclopedia of the English Language, Random House, 1983).
How does the late Dr. Walter Martin, author of the famous book, The Kingdom of the Cults and founder of the anti-cult, Christian apologetic organization, The Christian Research Institute in southern California define a cult. In the above-named book on page 11, quoting a Dr. Braden, Martin writes: “A cult…is any religious group which differs significantly in some one or more respects as to belief or practice from those religious groups which are regarded as the normative expression of religion in our total culture [emphasis added].”
To properly answer the question stated in the title of this article, Is the Hebrew Roots Movement cultic or is Christianity a cult? We must ask and explore the following questions: What is normative? No doubt, whatever the majority is believing at a particular point in history could be called normative. But is the majority always right? Who is the majority now? Was it always the majority? These are questions that need to be asked and addressed when defining the word “cult.”Continue reading
Exodus 19:16,19 Voice of the trumpet [shofar]. In Jewish thought, the Scriptures speak of three great shofar blasts that have historical and prophetic significance: the first, last and great or final shofar blasts. These are:
The First Trump (or shofar blast) occurred on Shavuot at the giving of the Torah (Matan Torah) at Mount Sinai (Exod 19:16, 19). This shofar blast was of heavenly origin and is the first time the Bible records the sound of the shofar being heard.
The Last Trump (or shofar blast) occurs on Yom Teruah (the Day of Trumpets/Shofar Blasts, commonly called Rosh Hoshana) is the day of the awakening blast calling the saints to prepare their spiritual garments in preparation for the coming Messiah or Bridegroom. This shofar blast corresponds to the last trumpet blast of Revelation 11:15 after which the resurrection of the righteous occurs (1 Cor 15:51–53).
The Great Trumpet or Final Trumpet (or shofar blast called the Shofar HaGadol) is blown on Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement) signifying the Elohim’s day of judgment and the return of Messiah Yeshua as the King and Judge of the earth. At this time, it seems likely that he will destroy Babylon the Great with its new world order religious, political and economic system (Rev 19:1–21 cp. Rev 18) just before the establishment of his millennial kingdom (Rev 20:1–10). Historically on the Day of Atonement, the jubilee trumpet sounded in Israel on the fiftieth year. At this time, the captives were set free, debts were forgiven and all land was returned to its original owners. Matthew says that Yeshua the Messiah will return with a great sound of a shofar (trumpet, Matt 24:30–31; 1 Thess 4:16). Perhaps this is a reference to the shofar ha-gadol when Yeshua returns to earth, will set the spiritual captives free from enslavement to the enslaving economic, religious and political tentacles of end time Babylon the Great.
What’s So Mystical About the Sound of the Shofar?
The ram’s horn shofar is a uniquely biblical instrument. Although the enemies of Elohim’s truth have misappropriated, counterfeited or perverted much of what is found in the Bible, so far as this author knows, the shofar is one thing that Satan, the adversary of all that is good, and his followers have left alone. It’s like the proverbial “hot potato” that’s too hot to touch. Why is this? What is it about the shofar that causes Elohim’s enemies to leave well it alone? Let’s explore the mystical qualities of this biblical instrument of divine origination that has the ability to stir the human heart at its deepest level, to pierce the heavens, to bring man back to Elohim and vice versa, and to send spiritual shock waves through the devil’s camp.
The Word Shofar DefinedContinue reading
Psalm 81:3, Blow the trumpet [Heb. shofar] at the time of the New Moon [Heb. chodesh], at the full moon [Heb. keseh meaning full moon or concealed, covered—scholars disagree as to its meaning and the origin of the word], on our solemn feast day [Heb. chag] — NKJV. The ArtScroll Stone Edition Tanach translates this verse alternatively as follows,
Blow the shofar at the moon’s renewal, at the time appointed for our festive day.
The origins of the Hebrew word keseh behind the phrase “full moon” is uncertain and there is debate among the experts on this subject. Some Hebrew lexicons relate it to a Hebrew root word meaning “to conceal, to cover” (e.g. Gesenius; Strong’s number H3677 cp. H3678), while others tell us that it means “fullness; full moon” (e.g. Brown Driver Briggs Hebrew Lexicon; cp. The TWOT; Strong’s). BDB tells us that the origin of keseh is unknown and that it may be an Aramaic loan word meaning “full moon.” Gesenius in his lexicon states that the etymology of keseh isn’t clear, but he favors the idea of the moon being covered or concealed in darkness as opposed to being covered in light (i.e., in its full moon state).
The only other usage of keseh in the Scriptures is found in Prov 7:20, which gives us no clue as to the exact meaning of the word.
Orthodox Jewish scholars tell us that keseh means “to conceal or to cover.” They say that the only biblical festival that occurs at the time of the new moon (biblically, when the first sliver of the new moon becomes visible) is Yom Teruah (or Rosh HaShanah), which occurs on the first day of the seventh month (in late summer). At this time, the moon is nearly completely covered or concealed except for a small, visible sliver.
The next phrase in this verse speaks of a solemn feast day, which is the Hebrew word chag. This word refers to the three pilgrimage festivals, which are Passover and the Feast (or chag) of Unleavened, the Feast (or chag) of Weeks or Pentecost and the Feast (or chag) of Tabernacles (Exod 23:14–16; Deut 16:16).
Jewish scholars relate the word chag to Yom Teruah (which they say refers to Rosh HaShanah, see The ArtScroll Tanach Series Tehillim/Psalms Commentary on this verse). The problem with this interpretation is that the Scriptures never call the day of the new moon (rosh chodesh) a chag, nor is Yom Teruah technically a chag either in the strictest sense of the meaning of the word and its usage in Scripture. Therefore, the word keseh, if it means “concealment” must be referring to both the new moon day (the first day of each month, and to Yom Teruah, which occurs on the first day of the seventh month), while the chag must be referring to the three pilgrimage festivals.
Those scholars who take the word keseh to mean “full moon” say that the phrase in this verse containing this word refers to the pilgrimage festivals (Passover/Feast of Unleavened Bread, Feast of Weeks, and Feast of Tabernacles), which all occurred on or very near the time of the full moon.
Whichever interpretation you side with, the bottom line is this: The Scriptures command us to sound the shofar at the time of the New Moon, on Yom Teruah and during the three pilgrimage feasts. (See also Num 10:10.)