Episode 16–One Messianic’s Perspective on Halloween

Scary Halloween Costumes 2011
Foter.com / CC BY-SA

 

This Thursday, October 31st, in America is Halloween. Halloween is one of the most popular holidays of the calendar year. Millions of children and many more adults will partake in various parties, trick or treat excursions, or horror shows and movies. A much smaller and often covert segment of adults will participate in events that are more sinister and gatherings such as conjuring spirits and demons, satan worship, animal and even human sacrifices. Sadly, many millions of self-professing Christians will unwittingly or even wittingly participate in the various social practices and events associated with this holiday in spite of the ominous history and evil implications associated with the holiday.

I vividly remember growing up in Baltimore Maryland in the 1960s and 1970s during Halloween. As a child and teenager, Halloween was one of those odd holidays that I never took to. In other words, I could appreciate all of the frivolity and celebration associated with the season and the actual day, but being somewhat introverted and not really into ghosts, demons, witches, and scary movies, I could take or leave the day. I did, however, like the candy and treats that flowed like water virtually everywhere you looked or walked. Interestingly, given my lack of interest in the day, I never took part in any trick or treat excursions. It was something about going up to a neighbor’s front door and begging for candy and treats that didn’t set well with me. So, my loving and wonderful parents spared me the indignity of being one of the rare children in the neighborhood who did not receive treats on Halloween and provided me with more than my share of candy.

Regardless of my lack of participation in the activities associated with Halloween in my formative years, I never ever gave any consideration to Halloween being anymore than a fun holiday for children and alcohol sipping adults at their risqué parties. So my initial, earliest perceptions of Halloween was that it was one of those holidays that was harmless fun for others, but for me, a holiday that I could not wait for to be over and done with. One other side perception I had during those years was that the holiday took place during my favorite time of year: autumn. I don’t know why, but I loved autumn over any other season of the year. I loved the turning of the leaves of the trees to the various colors of the rainbow, the cooler temperatures, and the gradual transition towards the winter holiday season.

My perceptions of Halloween did not change much, even throughout my twenties. My children during that decade of my life were quite young and thus Halloween would not have been of any significance to them. Regardless, in order to be a good neighbor, I often participated in the traditional handing out of treats during Halloween night to the children that came to our door. I would watch my various neighbors decorate their homes and yards to reflect the Halloween season and go out of their way to entertain the neighborhood children on Halloween night. I could not appreciate the amount of effort that these neighbors put forth for a seemingly irrelevant, mainly children’s holiday. Yet, I saw in my neighbors’ approach to Halloween a sense of enchantment and affinity for the central themes associated with the day. The one common theme seemed to be the affinity towards creating or inviting fear and darkness. The aim was to illicit various degrees of fear and uncertainty in those that came by and to their homes for the treats. To me, that seemed a little weird and uncalled for, but whatever.

It wasn’t until 1992 or thereabouts, that I came across a most disturbing VHS video about Halloween. This video was produced and distributed by a popular Orange County Church, Calvary Chapel. The video documentary was narrated by Calvary Chapel Pastor Chuck Smith. This video was developed and distributed for fundamental Christians, which at the time I was a traditional Christian attending Trinity Christian Church–the official local church of Trinity Broadcasting Network. That video detailed some of the history of Halloween and the pagan and dark spiritual influences associated with the day. The video was more of a whistle blower about the holiday than a treatise on how Christians should react to the day. The documentary fell quite short of giving a full treatment of the Bible’s perspective on the day although it did encourage viewing Christians to avoid Halloween as best they could.

That video drastically altered my perceptions of Halloween through my thirties and forties and even in to my early fifties. I did not need a full understanding of the Bible’s stance on Halloween to know that the holiday was not the harmless children’s holiday that I grew up with back in Baltimore. I quickly realized that Halloween was a dangerous holiday owned and operated by the enemy. I also realized that Christians had no business celebrating or participating whatsoever in Halloween festivities. I raised my children to not observe the holiday, which they had slight difficulties with as they transitioned through public and charter school. But praise be to Yehovah, they seemed to muddle through okay. I ceased handing out candy treats to the neighborhood children each year. Fortunately, I never found myself having to say no to Halloween parties at work. Hilary and I taught the children all that we could get our hands on about the holiday and they seemed to understand and went along with our band against Halloween observance without complaint or résistance.

Upon becoming a Messianic, my perceptions of Halloween as an evil holiday has been more refined, especially from the perspective of how the Father sees the day and its associated practices. Paul taught the following:

CJB  Romans 12:2 In other words, do not let yourselves be conformed to the standards of the ‘olam hazeh. Instead, keep letting yourselves be transformed by the renewing of your minds; so that you will know what God wants and will agree that what he wants is good, satisfying and able to succeed. (Rom 12:2 CJB)

DBY  Deuteronomy 30:16 in that I command thee this day to love Jehovah thy God, to walk in his ways, and to keep his commandments and his statutes and his ordinances, that thou mayest live and multiply, and that Jehovah thy God may bless thee in the land whither thou goest to possess it. (Deu 30:16 DBY)

DBY  Deuteronomy 18:9 When thou art come into the land which Jehovah thy God giveth thee, thou shalt not learn to do according to the abominations of those nations. (Deu 18:9 DBY)

These three verse and others stand out in my mind as regulating verses for the true believer of Messiah. The Father in these verses clearly states that our lives are to be governed by His commandments and laws and all the practices and lifestyles practiced by the surrounding nations do NOT have a place in the lives of His chosen people. These verses provide no middle ground. Yet the Messianic lives in a world where every aspect of life is in opposition to the laws and ways of God the Father or Yehovah. Thus, many of us either compromise and find perceived loopholes to violate the tenets of these and other verses; or we simply sell out to the world and participate in the ways of the world assuming that the Father will understand our hearts.

I have come to realize that the Father has those whom He calls His children and then He has those who seek to be called the Father’s children. The difference is that those whom the Father calls His children obey His commandments and have the testimony of Jesus Christ or Yeshua HamaschiachDBY  Revelation 12:17 And the dragon was angry with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, who keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus. (Rev 12:17 DBY) The other group of want-to-be’s carry a badge with the name of the Father and the Son on their lapels, but their actions do not certify they belong to the Father–CJB  Matthew 7:23 Then I will tell them to their faces, ‘I never knew you! Get away from me, you workers of lawlessness!’ (Mat 7:23 CJB).

Like the keeping of the weekly and the annual Sabbaths, I’ve come to believe that Halloween is one of those crucial indicators of who truly belongs to the Father. The truth about Halloween is not a hidden truth. Much of its history and meaning, though covered over by commercialism and secularism, is somewhat apparent to most individuals. For instance, it is well known by most fundamental Christians (and should be to all Messianics) that witches; demons, evil spirits, and the like have no place in a believer’s life. Throughout history, these entities–whether real or no–were seriously frowned upon and feared by society. Witches-whether perceived or real–would be sought out and killed by members of society. The evil side of the spirit world was naturally avoided by most and left to the imagination of Hollywood to produce films that provided viewers with just a glimpse of demons and spirits, but in the end afforded the viewer the opportunity to go home in peace. People who were feared possessed of evil spirits or demons endured horrible rituals designed to exorcise the spirits out of the general view of society (i.e., in secret).

I’ve taken it upon myself to research the likely origin of Halloween because I want to ensure that this knowledge gets out to those believers who the one True and Holy Spirit designates the need to know. The information is readily out there for all to see and understand. I invite anyone and everyone to take up the mantle and learn for themselves the truth about this dangerous and abominable holiday.

The Father–The Bible–Halloween

Halloween in and of itself is not mentioned in the Bible. Yet the origin of Halloween and all that it stands for is documented in Scripture and extra-Biblical writings. Satan would be the most likely starting point. He, being a fallen angel, in opposition of Yehovah, has sought to use every resource at his disposal to thwart the Father’s works and plans. One of his greatest efforts has been to thwart any relationship the Father would have with human beings. Thus, satan has effectively sought to replace knowledge and fear of Yehovah with the knowledge and fear of demonic beings, spirits, and made-up gods. The religious and ritual practices that have grown up around the fear and knowledge of these entities has all but push the Father away, leaving the vast majority of man to suffer under the horror and torment and rulership of the enemy.

Yet the Father intervened in the affairs of men and chose an unlikely nation of people, grown from the loins of Abraham, to establish a relationship with Him and serve as His priest to a lost world. Thus the Father was adamant that the Children of Israel not adopt any of the practices of the nations round about them. The Father knew that not only would the Children of Israel stray from the way of life that the Father required His chosen to people follow, but He also knew of the dangers associated with allowing the enemy’s evil operations to flourish among a people.

Thus, the Father established laws to prevent evil from penetrating the fabric of Israel’s theocratic society. Necromancy, witchcraft, and worshipping evil spirits were expressly prohibited, even to the point of death for those who violated these laws. When the Savior walked the earth, He cast out tormenting demons as well as His Apostles did likewise. Pagan focus on death and the evil spiritual realm were things uncommon to the Children of Israel.

It is conceivable that a possible origin for Halloween goes as far back as Nimrod and his wife Semiramus. The story of this couple and their son appears to be the source of all paganism. The Biblical record pinpoints Nimrod as the leader of humanity after the flood. He developed a religious following that sought to protect humanity from the God who brought the flood upon the earth. Ultimately, Nimrod became a god to the people and Semiramus and her son as well. From these, their legend and mythology spread to all the corners of the known earth. The nations adopted religions based upon variations of the gods Semiramus and her son Tammuz. Ultimately, these spin-offs of Semiramus and Tammuz worship developed worship rituals that even included animal and human sacrifice. Depending upon the culture and nation, Nimrod, Semiramus, and Tammuz took on different names and their idols varied in appearance. Thus, Yehovah’s people became surrounded by nations who worshipped variations of these gods. In time, the observances of these gods included a fixation on the spirit world, death, and the realm where the living, spirits, and humans interact.

History suggests that Halloween coincided with Day of the Dead celebrations around the world:

  • Mid-October to mid-November–Assyria–ceremonies for souls of the dead
  • November–Hindu–Durga Festival of the Dead in India
  • November–Persians–Mordad or Month of the Angel
  • November–French Polynesia–prayer for the spirits of the departed ancestors
  • November–Peru–Inca–Ayamarka or carrying of a corpse–food and drink placed on graves
  • Fall–Mexico–Aztecs–Day of the Dead
  • Europe–November 2–All Souls Day, after the Day of the Dead
  • Anglo-Saxons–November–Blood Month

The commonality of all these cultural ritual holidays is a fixation upon the dead and these variations on celebrating the dead appears to be precursors to Halloween.

In addition to common celebrations of the dead, most cultures worshipped a variation of a “Horned God.” This Horned God is known by various names around the globe:

  • Cernunnes–Celtic–Gaul and Britain
  • Caerwiden–Welsh
  • Herne the Hunter–English
  • Pashupati–Hindu
  • Pan–Greek
  • Hu Gadarn–Druids

Common characteristics of these horned gods were: cloven hoofs, hind quarters of a goat, human torso, a goat head, horns atop the head (suggesting phallic symbols). These horned gods die in autumn and are reborn in spring.

The Celts hold the greatest responsibility for hosting the origin of Halloween. History suggests that the ancient Celts of Ireland, Scotland, Wales, and Northern France. The religion had a hierarchy of Druid priests. The high point of the Celtic/Druid year was the Festival of Samhaim, generally celebrated November 1st of each year. This holiday celebrated the end of summer. Homage was paid to the Lord of the Dead. From a more general sense, this feast celebrated the dying sun as the long days of summer gave way to the shortened days of autumn and soon winter. These celebrations included:

  • Human and animal sacrifices
  • Divination and soothsaying
  • Prayers to Demons and the Dead
  • Belief that evil spirits walked the earth
  • Evil held power over the souls of men
  • October 31st marked the Celtic New Years Eve
  • Bonfires were kindled to frighten away the evil spirits (bone fires)
  • Cruelty to Celtic citizens to appease Samhaim
  • Belief that the dead needed cleansing. The souls of the dead inhabited bodies of animals until they were cleansed. Samhaim freed the souls of the dead and took them to Druid heaven

The Samhaim celebration appears to have been a stressful and horrible time for the Celtic people. Celtic people dressed up to look like the dead in order to trick the spirits. Druid priests were believed to have worn masks to trick the spirits and to swear off potential attacks from evil spirits. Celtic people also wore frightening attire to scare away evil spirits. Turnips were hollowed out and grotesque faces were carved to trick demons. Lanterns carried to light their way in the dark. Druid raiding parties stormed homes and coerced the man of the house to surrender someone in the home to serve as a human sacrifice. The hollowed out turnips were filled with human fat and left burning on the house porch as a treat. This treat served to signal following raiding parties that a human sacrifice was provided from that home. If the first raiding party was unsuccessful in obtaining a victim from that home, a hexagram made with human blood was drawn on the front door of the house as a trick. This trick served to alert demons and other raiding parties that no sacrifice victim was received from that home.

Catholicism Claims Halloween as a Annual Holiday

After the great period of Christian persecution and the adoption of Christianity as a state religion by Empower Constantine of Rome, the Catholic Church saw an opportunity to easily convert pagan nations through the adoption of indigenous pagan religions. These religions were renamed, repackaged, and reformatted to reflect Christian themes. In time, the Catholic Church adopted the Festival of the Dead through the direction of Pope Gregory the Great in the 6th century. The repackaging and renaming of this festival resulted in the Catholic “All Saints Day”–a day to honor dead Christian saints.  In time, the holiday was moved around the church calendar and it finally found its resting place on November 1st. To reconcile the remaining dead (i.e., those not deemed saints by the church), a Eucharist was created and enacted on October 31st and called “All Hallowed Eve” or holy evening. And for those souls believed to be languishing in purgatory, the church came up with “All Souls Day” which falls on November 2nd. For this holiday, cakes and wine were placed upon the graves of the dead.

Wiccans, witches, satanists, and the curious hold Halloween as a high sabbat, for it signals the end of the occult year and it is believed that the power of the underworld is unleashed upon the earth.

Thus, it is clear that Halloween is a Christian holiday, regardless of its pagan historical origin and its secular outer shell. Regardless the innocence of little children going from house to house, seeking treats and being frightened by images of ghosts and witches, the dark side of the holiday still holds serious problems. For one, modern occultists still celebrate Samhain during this time. Wiccans participate in nude dancing celebrations and call upon evil spirits and goddesses to visit them. Satanists conduct sacrifices of animals, babies and adult women.

No sugar coating or church dances or any other smoke screen can cover over the evil that remains Halloween. This Messianic’s perceptions of Halloween is that true believers should avoid anything having to do with this holiday. Instead of doing some half-hearted activity or sitting in a corner of my home with the lights off to dissuade treat or treaters from coming to our door, I plan to be in prayer and asking the father’s forgiveness for this nation’s delving in to the realm of paganism.

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