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Halloween and the Dead

As we know, the Feast of Tabernacles runs from the 15th through the 21st of the seventh biblical month of the year. The Last Great Day follows the Feast on the 22nd of the seventh month. What we recently celebrated in obedience to God's command, pictured the peace to come in the wonderful world tomorrow and the great resurrection of all mankind to be given the chance of eternal life under the rule of God the Father and Jesus Christ in the Kingdom of God. That, indeed, is the good news of Christ's gospel!

Our present world, however, is full of evil as well as good; fraud and deception as well as truth. In fact, Christ warned us of that in Matthew 24, as he warned his disciples of the signs that would exist at the time of the end of this age.

(Mat 24:24) "For false Christs [the Greek word is Strong's #5580 pseudochristos, which means spurious Messiahs] and false prophets will arise and will show great signs and wonders, so as to mislead, if possible, even the elect."

Christ plainly said deception would be a hallmark of the end times. We know that Satan the Devil is the source of the world's deceit and evil. In fact, in John 8: 44, speaking to the worldly Jews of his day (even to those Jews who had believed on him), Jesus said it was so.

(John 8:44) "You are of your father the devil, and you want to do the desires of your father. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. Whenever he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own nature; for he is a liar, and the father of lies."

Jeroboam's Deception - The Counterfeit Feast of Tabernacles

Now, let's go back and look at one of the examples in scripture of Satan's lies, which misled and deceived the people of Israel. We can find it in the book of 1 Kings, chapter 12:15. To give us some background, remember, this is the account of the time shortly after the death of Solomon when his son Rehoboam had recently ascended the throne of the combined Houses of Israel and Judah. Even though Solomon's reign had been a time of regal splendor and abundance in Israel, it had also been a time of hardship for the common people because of Solomon's high taxation. Jeroboam, the one who had been what we would today probably call the "Prime Minister" under King Solomon, had approached the new King Rehoboam on behalf of the people to ask for relief from Solomon's high taxation. When the answer from Rehoboam was the threat of even higher taxation, the northern tribes of the House of Israel seceded from Rehoboam's kingdom and chose Jeroboam as their leader. Of course, we know who was really behind the split in the two kingdoms. It was God.

(1 Kings 12:15) So the king did not listen to the people; for it was a turn of events from the LORD, that He [that is,God] might establish His word, which the LORD spoke through Ahijah the Shilonite to Jeroboam the son of Nebat.

We can see, however, what happened after Jeroboam had become more secure in his rule over the House of Israel. Further down in verse 26, we read:

(1 Kings 12:26-33) "And Jeroboam said in his heart, 'Now the kingdom will return to the house of David. {27} 'If this people go up to offer sacrifices in the house of the LORD at Jerusalem, then the heart of this people will return to their lord, even to Rehoboam king of Judah; and they will kill me and return to Rehoboam king of Judah.'"

Can you believe that? What utter lack of faith and trust in God! Even after Jeroboam had explicitly been told by God' own prophet that it was God who was giving Jeroboam his kingdom, Jeroboam did not fear God but feared the people instead.

(1 Kings 12:28-33) "So the king consulted, and made two golden calves, and he said to them, 'It is too much for you to go up to Jerusalem; behold your gods [and the word is Elohim], behold your gods, O Israel, that brought you up from the land of Egypt.' {29} And he set one in Bethel, and the other he put in Dan. {30} Now this thing became a sin, for the people went to worship before the one as far as Dan. {31} And he made houses on high places, and made priests from among all the people who were not of the sons of Levi."

Look at that! Jeroboam broke the first commandment, which says 'you shall have no other Elohim before Yahweh your Elohim. He broke the second commandment, which says 'you shall not make for yourself an idol and you shall not worship them or serve them.' He also broke the third commandment, which says 'you shall not take the name of Yahweh your Elohim in vain. He broke the ninth commandment by bearing false witness to the people when he lied by saying that the golden calves were Israel's gods and that they had been the ones who had brought Israel up from the land of Egypt, instead of Yahweh. Jeroboam had directly told the Israelites that each golden calf represented "your Elohim O Israel." How dare he! After all, Elohim, as we have seen in previous sermons, is one of the names of God.

(1 Kings 12:32-33) "And Jeroboam instituted a feast in the eighth month on the fifteenth day of the month, like the feast which is in Judah [you see, it was like the Feast in Judah but it was not the same: it wasn't at the right time], and he [Jeroboam] went up to the altar; thus he did in Bethel, sacrificing to the calves which he had made. And he stationed in Bethel the priests of the high places which he had made. {33} Then he went up to the altar which he had made in Bethel on the fifteenth day in the eighth month, even in the month which he had devised in his own heart; and he instituted a feast for the sons of Israel, and went up to the altar to burn incense."

Webster's Third New International Dictionary defines the word counterfeit as: "1) SPURIOUS: not genuine or authentic; especially, not composed by the author indicated or under the circumstances ascribed; made in fraudulent imitation; produced with intent to deceive... 2) FEIGNED: assumed with calculation to mislead; marked by false pretense."

That is precisely what Jeroboam did. He made a Feast that was not genuine or authentic. It was a distortion of the original. It was not composed by God Most High, the original author, nor was it done under the circumstances ascribed. He introduced fraudulent idols in the golden calves, which certainly didn't possess any powers to have brought the Israelites out of Egyptian bondage. The idols were produced with intent to deceive. The whole event was a lie.

Timing is very important to God. He established his moed or appointed times to mark when he wants his people to celebrate his Feasts and to honor him, for their own good. For man to arbitrarily move God's appointed times is an insult to God. It was an insult to God three thousand years ago, and it is an insult to God today. By doing so, man makes himself to be God and shows God that man knows better than his Creator. God has given mankind very clear and specific markings in the heavenly bodies for all to see the times when he wishes his Holy Days to be celebrated. For more insight into those times that are honorable and pleasing to God, please refer to our booklet, The Original Calendar For Our Day.

King and Priest were to be Separate

So, Jeroboam made a counterfeit Feast of Tabernacles and Last Great Day, one month later than the Feast in Jerusalem. Not only was the counterfeit Feast of Tabernacles at the wrong time, Jeroboam commanded the people to keep the Feast at the wrong locations, rather than where God had placed his name in Jerusalem. Jeroboam put a golden calf in Dan and in Bethel and proclaimed to Israel that each represented their God who brought them up out of Egypt. He substituted for God's commanded priests of the sons of Aaron from the tribe of Levi, men who had no authority or qualifications in the sight of God to minister to the Israelites. Furthermore, as we saw at the end of verse 33, Jeroboam went up to the altar to burn incense, a function that was not proper for any king to do. In short, he tried to usurp the power and duties of the priestly offices and make them his own.

Not since the days of Melchizedek, in the time of Abraham, had the offices of king and priest of God been combined in the duties of the same man. Let's go back to Genesis 14 to see for ourselves.

(Gen 14:18) "And Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine; now he was a priest of God Most High [that's El Elyon, one of the names of God the Father]."

So, we can see that Melchizedek was the King of Salem (or Jerusalem) as well as a priest of God Most High. Remember, however, that God firmly established more than four hundred years later through the tribe of Levi and, within only the tribe of Levi, that the sons of Aaron were to be the ones whom God wanted as his ministering servants and priests.

God also made clear at the end of the book of Genesis the family he desired to form the line of kings to rule over his people. In Genesis 49:10, we see the great prophecy of God given through Jacob to his sons. It was just before Jacob's death in Egypt when he foretold the lot of each tribe in the last days.

(Gen 49:10) "The scepter [that's the power of the office of the King] shall not depart from Judah, nor the ruler's staff from between his feet, until Shiloh comes, and to him shall be the obedience of the peoples."

It's clear to see, the tribe of Judah was to be the tribe that would have the line of kings to rule God's chosen people. The priests, however, were to come from the sons of Aaron of the tribe of Levi. So, there were two distinct tribes having two distinct responsibilities. That division of responsibilities was very important to God.

The book of Hebrews shows us that the two offices will, once again, be combined into one person. That combination of King and Priest, however, will not happen on earth until Christ's coronation at his return. Christ will be the one qualified in God's sight to be both High Priest and King over all of God's human creation.

(Heb 7:14-17) "For it is evident that our Lord was descended from Judah, a tribe with reference to which Moses spoke nothing concerning priests. {15} And this is clearer still, if another priest arises according to the likeness of Melchizedek, {16} who has become such [that is, has become a priest] not on the basis of a law of physical requirement [that is, according to the order of the sons of Aaron, which was a physical inheritance], but according to the power of an indestructible life. {17} For it is witnessed of Him, "THOU ART A PRIEST FOREVER ACCORDING TO THE ORDER OF MELCHIZEDEK."

So, Jeroboam took to himself prerogatives and responsibilities that were not his to assume. Was that a slight matter in the eyes of God? Let's see what happened to a later King of Judah who illegally took to himself the responsibilities of the priest. In 2 Chronicles 26:16, we'll read of Uzziah, the grandson of Josiah, one of the good kings of the House of Judah. Notice what happened to Uzziah when his kingly power went to his head.

(2 Chr 26:16-21) "But when he became strong, his heart was so proud that he acted corruptly, and he was unfaithful to the LORD his God, for he entered the temple of the LORD to burn incense on the altar of incense [that was only the duty of the priests, the sons of Aaron]. {17} Then Azariah the priest entered after him and with him eighty priests of the LORD, valiant men. {18} And they opposed Uzziah the king and said to him, "It is not for you, Uzziah, to burn incense to the LORD, but for the priests, the sons of Aaron who are consecrated to burn incense. 'Get out of the sanctuary, for you have been unfaithful, and will have no honor from the LORD God.' {19} But Uzziah, with a censer in his hand for burning incense, was enraged; and while he was enraged with the priests, the leprosy broke out on his forehead before the priests in the house of the LORD, beside the altar of incense. {20} And Azariah the chief priest and all the priests looked at him, and behold, he was leprous on his forehead; and they hurried him out of there, and he himself also hastened to get out because the LORD had smitten him. {21} And King Uzziah was a leper to the day of his death; and he lived in a separate house, being a leper, for he was cut off from the house of the LORD."

So, we can see that it was not a small sin in the eyes of God. In fact, the sin of Jeroboam originally leading Israel astray from the one true God was such a great sin that it ultimately led to the captivity of the entire nation. There is no doubt about it. Jeroboam introduced EVIL among the people of God. God had handed him an entire kingdom of his own on a silver platter, so to speak. Rather than being thankful to the one true God who gave him such blessings, Jeroboam chose, of his own free will, to promote EVIL and DECEIT in order to steer the House of Israel away from obedience to God.

Worldliness Continues Deception

As we said before, our world today is likewise full of counterfeits and fakes, deceptions and evil. All combine to steer the nations in which we live farther and farther away from the truth of God. Those who have studied the history of churches through the centuries are well aware of how such evil is first introduced; how it takes hold by becoming tradition; and then how it becomes commonplace. The pattern is the same over and over and over again throughout the centuries. Evil and deception were first introduced by Satan in the form of pagan religions. The pagans are then conquered and their customs become absorbed by the conquerors and, eventually, perpetuated by those conquerors. We have numerous examples of how many pagan traditions and holidays were absorbed by the "Christian" churches of our western society.

One such holiday, full of pagan tradition and ceremonial rites, has a much older history of evil and deception. Its origin predates the last two millennia, yet it continues to this day. It is what we know today as Halloween. What many might see today as just a playful holiday for children who go from house to house saying "trick or treat" in anticipation of receiving candy and other goodies, actually has its modern origins in Europe. The book, Halloween Through Twenty Centuries by Ralph Linton states that "The American celebration rests upon Scottish and Irish folk customs which can be traced in direct line from pre-Christian times (pg. 4)." The term "pre-Christian times" really means from ancient paganism.

The observance of "Halloween" was widespread throughout the ancient pagan world. There is evidence that it was celebrated as far back as ancient Babylon. According to the book, Folklore by James Napier, "There was a prevailing belief among all nations that at death the souls of good men were taken possession of by good spirits and carried to paradise; but the souls of wicked men were left to wander in the space between the earth and moon, or consigned to the unseen world. These wandering spirits were in the habit of haunting the living... but there were means by which these ghosts might be exorcised (pg. 11)."

On the topic of Halloween, the Encyclopedia Britannica states: "It long antedates [or pre-dates] Christianity. The two chief characteristics of ancient Halloween were the lighting of bonfires and the belief that this is the one night in the year during which ghosts and witches are most likely to wander about. History shows that the main celebrations of Halloween were purely Druidical [that is, from the ancient pagan Druids of Northwest Europe] and this is further proved by the fact that in parts of Ireland, October 31 is still known as 'Oidhch Shamhna' or 'Vigil of Saman.'" Investigation shows us that Saman or Samhain was the pagan lord of the dead, according to Druid belief.

According to the article Samhain, by Andrea Marie Brokaw, "Since the Celts viewed time as circular rather than linear, the night that is at once the end of the year and the beginning was considered to be 'outside' of time. For this reason, Samhain is a holiday of divination and a time of the dead. [It is] a night of contradiction where life and death, opposites but part of the same thing, were celebrated side by side... At Samhain, the veil between worlds is at its thinnest, which is why the dead can cross over on this eve. It also means that it is easier to see into the future. It is a night to cast runes, deal cards, and scry [that's crystal gazing]."

According to the Dauphin County Library System, "Since November first was the start of the season of death, when food grew scarce and the plants all died, it was also the night to honor the Lord of the Dead, Anwinn. The belief was that spirits of those who had died during that year also gathered that night, driven out of the bare woods and empty fields. The spirits returned to their homes and needed the help of their kin to cross over to the land of the dead. Relatives would hollow out turnips and gourds and use them to carry the spirits to the proper location... Not just good spirits were loose on Samhain - evil spirits, witches and goblins also roamed the earth. To protect your relative's spirit, you'd paint a scary face on the gourd to chase the evil spirits away. And to play it safe, you'd also disguise yourself by painting your face with hideous paints and donning a wild costume... Faeries also ran free on the Eve of Samhain. Faeries weren't evil, they weren't good. They were faeries. They liked rewarding good deeds and did not like to be crossed. And on Samhain, the faeries would disguise themselves as beggars and go door to door asking for handouts. Those who gave them food were rewarded. Those who slammed the door tended to experience some unpleasantness... In 43 AD, the Roman Empire conquered the Celts, and Celts and Romans found themselves living in the same villages. The Celtic festival of Samhain was celebrated at the same time as Pomona, a Roman celebration of the harvest. As the two cultures lived together, their cultures began to merge and suddenly apples and harvests became part of the celebration... Over the next 500 years, the Catholic Church grew in power until, under Pope Gregory, it had converted most of Europe and the British Islands to Christianity. Pope Gregory's successor, Pope Boniface the 4th, desperately wanted to eliminate pagan ceremonies. Pope Boniface felt that as long as the old festivals were still celebrated, the church's control wasn't complete. He also knew that if he banned the festivals, he'd have a full- blown riot on his hands. So he decided to replace the old festival with a new festival and the church created All Saints' Day, a holy day to honor all the saints... Two hundred years later the church had still not succeeded in getting rid of the pagan holiday. Pope Gregory the 3rd, however, had a new idea. He changed the rules so that All Saints' Day always fell on the exact day as Samhain. And to celebrate All Saints' Day, young men were to go door to door begging for food for the town poor. Villagers were allowed to dress up in costume to represent a saint. Now, instead of dressing up to chase away evil spirits, you dressed up to honor the saints (© 1998 Dauphin County Library System)."

God's Opinion

Look at 2 Chronicles 33:1 for an example of God's opinion of one of the most rebellious of the Kings of Israel.

(2 Chr 33:1-6 NASB) "Manasseh was twelve years old when he became king, and he reigned fifty-five years in Jerusalem. {2} And he did evil in the sight of the LORD according to the abominations of the nations whom the LORD dispossessed before the sons of Israel. {3} For he rebuilt the high places which Hezekiah his father had broken down; he also erected altars for the Baals and made Asherim, and worshiped all the host of heaven and served them. {4} And he built altars in the house of the LORD of which the LORD had said, "My name shall be in Jerusalem forever." {5} For he built altars for all the host of heaven in the two courts of the house of the LORD. {6} And he made his sons pass through the fire in the valley of Ben-hinnom; and he practiced witchcraft, used divination, practiced sorcery, and dealt with mediums and spiritists. He did much evil in the sight of the LORD, provoking Him to anger."

As we have studied before, Manasseh had one of the best examples of an obedient servant of God in the person of his father, King Hezekiah. Yet despite the good example of his father, Manasseh rebelled against God's laws and reestablished so many of the heinous things that his father had abolished.

Even though Manasseh ignored God's instructions, let's see what God's word has to say about contact with evil spirits. Look at the stern warning in Deuteronomy 18:9.

(Deu 18:9-14) "When you enter the land which the LORD your God gives you, you shall not learn to imitate the detestable things of those nations. {10} "There shall not be found among you anyone who makes his son or his daughter pass through the fire, one who uses divination, one who practices witchcraft, or one who interprets omens, or a sorcerer, {11} or one who casts a spell, or a medium, or a spiritist, or one who calls up the dead. {12} "For whoever does these things is detestable to the LORD; and because of these detestable things the LORD your God will drive them out before you. {13} You shall be blameless before the LORD your God. {14} For those nations, which you shall dispossess, listen to those who practice witchcraft and to diviners, but as for you, the LORD your God has not allowed you to do so."
(Lev 19:31 NRSV) "Do not turn to mediums or wizards; do not seek them out, to be defiled by them: I am the LORD your God."

Continue in Leviticus 20:6.

(Lev 20:6 NASB) "As for the person who turns to mediums and to spiritists, to play the harlot after them, I will also set My face against that person and will cut him off from among his people. 'You shall consecrate yourselves therefore and be holy, for I am the LORD your God."

Furthermore, look at the rendering of Isaiah 8:19 in the New King James Version.

(Isa 8:19-20 NKJV) "And when they say to you, "Seek those who are mediums and wizards, who whisper and mutter," should not a people seek their God? Should they seek the dead on behalf of the living? {20} To the law and to the testimony! If they do not speak according to this word, it is because there is no light in them."

Lastly, look at the pronouncement of the prophet Samuel in 1 Samuel 15:23 against King Saul for his rebellion against God and his laws, as translated in the TANAKH by the Jewish Publication Society.

1 Sam 15:23 TANAKH

"For rebellion is like the sin of divination,

Defiance,like the iniquity of teraphim [idols consulted for oracles].

Because you rejected the LORD's command,

He has rejected you as king."

Look at the balance of the four elements of the first sentence. Rebellion is equivalent to divination [the KJV terms it witchcraft]. Both are sins. Defiance is equivalent to idolatry. Again, both are sins. We know from the second commandment there is no doubt that idolatry is sin. Therefore, divination or witchcraft is sin, without question.

So, we can see numerous examples that God gave explicit instructions to his people saying they were neither to practice nor were they to have any contact with people who practiced witchcraft or divination of any kind. Why, then, does the world glorify, through the celebration of Halloween, witches and evil spirits? Why does the world trivialize witchcraft and sorcery through occult movies, through video games like Dungeons and Dragons, and through books like Harry Potter? God so clearly says such things are destable to him and are not to be even listened to by his people. Why do people tempt God? Is it because they are ignorant of the truth of the matter? For some, that might be the case but, for most, it really boils down to the fact that they have no proper respect or fear of God. If people did have proper respect or fear of God, they would not want to get close to anything God so clearly says he hates.

The Facts of Halloween

The real truth of the deceit of Halloween, however, comes when we realize what its practice really taught. According to The Book of Halloween by Ruth Kelley, "The Druids were priests of the Celts centuries before Christ came. There is a tradition in Ireland that they first arrived there in 270 B.C., seven hundred years before St. Patrick. The account of them written by Julius Caesar half a century before Christ speaks mainly of the Celts of Gaul [France], dividing them into two ruling classes who kept the people almost in a state of slavery; the knights, who wage [d] war, and the Druids who had charge of worship and sacrifices, and were in addition physicians, historians, teachers, scientists, and judges... The Celts worshipped spirits of forest and stream, and feared the powers of evil, as did the Greeks and all other early races. Very much of their primitive belief has been kept so that to Scotch, Irish, and Welsh peasantry brooks, hills, dales, and rocks abound in tiny supernatural beings, who may work them good or evil, lead them astray by flickering lights, or charm them into seven years' servitude unless they are bribed to show favor... Their chief god was Baal, of whom they believed the sun the visible emblem... The cross too was a symbol of the sun, being the appearance of its light shining upon dew or stream, making to the half-closed eye little bright crosses. One form of the cross was the swastika. To Baal they made sacrifices of criminals or prisoners of war, often burning them alive in wicker images...  Becoming skilled in interpreting the will of the gods, the Druids came to be known as prophets... They taught the immortality of the soul, that it passed from one body to another at death. They believed that on the last night of the old year (October 31st) [that's because their year began in November and ended in October], the lord of death gathered together the souls of all those who had died in the passing year and had been condemned to live in the bodies of animals to decree what forms they should inhabit for the next twelve months. He could be coaxed to give lighter sentences by gifts and prayers (pg. 10)."

Before his crucifixion, Christ was questioned by the Sadducees about the resurrection. In Matthew 22:31, in order to prove that there would be a resurrection from the dead, Jesus replied with a statement about God's relation to the dead. Notice that the scriptures he used came from the only scriptures the Sadducees respected, the first five books of Moses.

(Mat 22:31-32) "But regarding the resurrection of the dead, have you not read that which was spoken to you by God, saying, {32} 'I AM THE GOD OF ABRAHAM, AND THE GOD OF ISAAC, AND THE GOD OF JACOB'? He is not the God of the dead but of the living."

Let's see what God has to say about the dead and whether or not they worship Him. Do the dead roam about the countryside in search of bodies to inhabit? Do they travel to New York or London or Nairobi? Do the dead put curses on the living? In Ecclesiastes 9:5, Solomon tells us the reality of the dead.

(Eccl 9:5) "For the living know they will die; but the dead do not know anything, nor have they any longer a reward, for their memory is forgotten."

Skip down a few verses to verse 10.

(Eccl 9:10) "Whatever your hand finds to do, verily, do it with all your might; for there is no activity or planning or knowledge or wisdom in Sheol [that's the grave] where you are going."

Read that again: for there is no activity or planning or knowledge or wisdom in Sheol where you are going.

The prophet Isaiah also fills in details about the state of the dead in

(Isa 38:18-19) "For Sheol [that's, the grave] cannot thank Thee, Death cannot praise Thee; Those who go down to the pit cannot hope for Thy faithfulness. {19} It is the living who give thanks to Thee, as I do today."

If the dead cannot thank or praise God, Isaiah is showing that the dead have no consciousness. In the book of Psalms, David confirms the issue with his knowledge and understanding from God concerning the truth about the dead.

(Psa 6:5) "For there is no mention of Thee in death; In Sheol who will give Thee thanks?"

In Psalms 115:17, David speaks again of the dead.

(Psa 115:17) "The dead do not praise the LORD, Nor do any who go down into silence;"

The writer of Hebrews shows Satan's current power over death in,

(Heb 2:14-15) "Since then the children share in flesh and blood, He Himself likewise also partook of the same, that through death He [that is, Christ] might render powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil; {15} and might deliver those who through fear of death were subject to slavery all their lives."

Among the Druids, Samhain, whom they called the lord of death, was in actuality, Satan. We have to remember that God says over and over again that it's really Satan who is behind the evil and deception in this world. Revelation 12:9 shows the scope of Satan's power.

(Rev 12:9) "And the great dragon was thrown down, the serpent of old who is called the devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him."

Not only does Satan deceive the whole world but he has help in doing it. His assistants are his angels or demons. What many in the world view as merely a joke or as being a mythological character of no harm is very real. Satan is a powerful, yet invisible, being. He has power to sway the whole world and we should not underestimate that power. Thus far in human history, he has largely been successful. Ephesians 2:1 speaks of the invisible power of Satan throughout the world.

(Eph 2:1-3) "And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, {2} in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. {3} Among them [that is, the sons of disobedience] we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest.

You see, we were no different than anyone else in the world. We were subject to Satan's sway and his power to deceive. We were deceived; yet through the mercy of God's calling to open our minds to that deceit and to the positive message of God's truth, we now have hope. As Peter warns us in 1 Peter 5:8, we should still be wary.

(1 Pet 5:8) "Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls about like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour."

Remember, that's exactly what Satan's name means: the Adversary, and he's out there prowling about like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Could it be you?

Look at the parable of the tares in Matthew

(Mat 13:37-39) "And He answered and said, "The one who sows the good seed is the Son of Man, {38} and the field is the world; and as for the good seed, these are the sons of the kingdom; and the tares are the sons of the evil one; {39} and the enemy who sowed them is the devil, and the harvest is the end of the age; and the reapers are angels."

We can see from the parable of the tares that our enemy is the devil. His assistants in doing evil are the demons and they are called "the sons of the evil one." Remember what we earlier read in the book of John: "You are of your father the devil, and you want to do the desires of your father. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. Whenever he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own nature; for he is a liar, and the father of lies.

As Jesus spoke of the spiritual implications of our struggle, Paul also describes our lifelong battle as one pitted against spiritual foes in Ephesians

(Eph 6:12) "For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places."

The Truth about the Dead

We've seen how Satan and his demons weave a web of constant deceit and counterfeit truth to try to separate humans from the truth of God. By looking at the world around us, it seems like they've done a pretty good job. As we've often learned, however, things are not always what they seem to be.

What is the truth about death? Do the dead wander about or go from place to place with no hope?

Remember when Jesus' friend, Lazarus, was sick? After hearing of his illness, Christ waited two days before going to assist him. Jesus made it plain to his disciples that the dead are dead let's read.

(John 11:11-14) "This He said, and after that He said to them, 'Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep; but I go, that I may awaken him out of sleep.' {12}The disciples therefore said to Him, 'Lord, if he has fallen asleep, he will recover.' {13}Now Jesus had spoken of his death, but they thought that He was speaking of literal sleep. {14} Then Jesus therefore said to them plainly, 'Lazarus is dead.'"

In Job 3:13, Job speaks of death as being preferable to his current suffering.

(Job 3:13) "For now I would have lain down and been quiet; I would have slept then, I would have been at rest,"

So, we see that death is pictured as rest or sleep. We have seen that God says the dead know nothing. They do not go from city to city, they do not go on vacation, they do not go to the beach or the mountains or the desert and they do not wander about as disembodied spirits like Halloween portrays.

For years, my niece has kept the ashes of each of her parents in boxes in her house. Her parents have been moved from one room to another and from house to house and state to state over the years. Is that the type of peaceful rest Job spoke about? No, it isn't. It is the sign of one who has no knowledge of God's truth about the present state of the dead or the resurrection that awaits them.

As Paul wrote in 1 Thessalonians 4:13, it is not to be so with us.

(1 Th 4:13 NASB) "But we do not want you to be uninformed, brethren, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve, as do the rest who have no hope."

We have been given hope that comes from the precious knowledge given to us from God in his word. Our eyes have been opened and we are not to live our lives in grief, like the rest of the world.

Job tells us of the hope he has through the knowledge of God. That is the hope we should all have.

(Job 14:13-15 KJV) "O that thou wouldest hide me in the grave, that thou wouldest keep me secret, until thy wrath be past, that thou wouldest appoint me a set time, and remember me! {14} If a man die, shall he live again? all the days of my appointed time will I wait, till my change come. {15} Thou shalt call, and I will answer thee: thou wilt have a desire to the work of thine hands."

We can see that Job had hope in God providing a resurrection from the dead. Job showed that he would patiently wait for that resurrection.

Now consider: if God is only the God of the Living, then there must be a resurrection of the dead back to a state of life so that God might be their God, too. Listen to what Paul states in Romans of how the resurrection of the dead was made possible by God.

(Rom 14:9) "For to this end Christ died and lived again, that He might be Lord [master] both of the dead and of the living."

So, we see that Christ became the lord or master of the dead and by his resurrection, he gained the keys of both the grave and death, as we can read in:

(Rev 1:17-18) "And when I saw Him, I fell at His feet as a dead man. And He laid His right hand upon me, saying, "Do not be afraid; I am the first and the last, {18} and the living One; and I was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of death and of Hades [that's the grave]."

Our faith in God the Father and in his power to resurrect the Messiah from the dead is our hope of a future resurrection, both for our deceased loved ones and for ourselves.

In 1 Corinthians 15:12, Paul explains the simple and logical implications of Christ's resurrection and our hope of the future.

(1 Cor 15:12-26) "Now if Christ is preached, that He has been raised from the dead, how do some among you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? {13} But if there is no resurrection of the dead, not even Christ has been raised; {14} and if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is vain, your faith also is vain. {15} Moreover we are even found to be false witnesses of God, because we witnessed against God that He raised Christ, whom He did not raise, if in fact the dead are not raised. {16} For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised; {17} and if Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins. {18} Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. {19} If we have hoped in Christ in this life only, we are of all men most to be pitied. {20} But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who are asleep. {21} For since by a man came death, by a man also came the resurrection of the dead. {22} For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all shall be made alive. {23} But each in his own order: Christ the first fruits, after that those who are Christ's at His coming, {24} then comes the end, when He delivers up the kingdom to the God and Father, when He has abolished all rule and all authority and power. {25} For He must reign until He has put all His enemies under His feet. {26} The last enemy that will be abolished is death."

In Roman 6:1, Paul continues the theme.

(Rom 6:1-13) "What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace might increase? {2} May it never be! How shall we who died to sin still live in it? {3} Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death? {4} Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, in order that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. {5} For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall be also in the likeness of His resurrection, {6} knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, that our body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin; {7} for he who has died is freed from sin. {8} Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, {9} knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, is never to die again; death no longer is master over Him. {10} For the death that He died, He died to sin, once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God. {11} Even so consider yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus. {12} Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body that you should obey its lusts, {13} and do not go on presenting the members of your body to sin as instruments of unrighteousness; but present yourselves to God as those alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God."

Go back to 1 Corinthians 15, where we were a minute ago. Let's continue in verse 42.

(1 Cor 15:42-57) "So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown a perishable body, it is raised an imperishable body; {43} it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; {44} it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body. {45} So also it is written, "The first MAN, Adam, BECAME A LIVING SOUL." The last Adam became a life-giving spirit. {46} However, the spiritual is not first, but the natural; then the spiritual. {47} The first man is from the earth, earthy; the second man is from heaven. {48} As is the earthy, so also are those who are earthy; and as is the heavenly, so also are those who are heavenly. {49} And just as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly. {50} Now I say this, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. {51} Behold, I tell you a mystery; we shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, {52} in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. {53} For this perishable must put on the imperishable, and this mortal must put on immortality. {54} But when this perishable will have put on the imperishable, and this mortal will have put on immortality, then will come about the saying that is written, "DEATH IS SWALLOWED UP in victory. {55} 'O DEATH, WHERE IS YOUR VICTORY? O DEATH, WHERE IS YOUR STING?' {56} The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law; {57} but thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ."

In 1 Thessalonians 4:14, Paul continues to give us hope.

(1Thes 4:14-18) " For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep in Jesus. {15} For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive, and remain until the coming of the Lord, shall not precede those who have fallen asleep. {16} For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet of God; and the dead in Christ shall rise first. {17} Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and thus we shall always be with the Lord. {18} Therefore comfort one another with these words."

Freedom in the Knowledge of the Truth

Knowledge is power but false knowledge is no power at all. We have the knowledge of truth through God's word. In John 8:31, Christ said that if we live in obedience to that word, we will know the truth.

(John 8:31-32 NASB) "Jesus therefore was saying to those Jews who had believed Him, "If you abide in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; {32} and you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free."

God has given us a rare and precious gift: the knowledge of his truth. The truth of God gives us power and freedom from the shackles of doubt which enslave this world. The knowledge of God's plan is the true hope for all mankind. It is not an empty future of hopelessness as Halloween depicts. It is an assurance, yes an absolute assurance, of the faithfulness and power of God the Father to resurrect us from death to eternal life.

Now, that is true freedom!

This sermon was given with the permission of Philip Edwards.
Sermon given by Wayne Bedwell
October 19, 2013
Sermon originally given by Philip Edwards
27 October 2007
Copyright 2007, Philip Edwards

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