Satan knew the ultimate way to persuade a man to change his ways. Upon close observation of God's creation, he perceived that man's response to certain stimuli was nearly invariable. With great confidence, he presented his case before God, saying, "Skin for skin, yea, all that a man hath will he give for his life. But put forth thine hand now, and touch his bone and his flesh, and he will curse thee to thy face" (Job 2:4-5). While Job remained true to God through his trial, the threat of pain and death is a very effective method of persuasion. While Job, Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, Abednego, Jesus, and several others serve as exceptions to the rule, most people will sacrifice their principles if it means they can miss physical hardship.
There is another method that is similarly effective at swaying the minds and hearts of the people. It is amazing what people will agree to if it is presented as "for the children."
A proposed tax increase on gasoline, for instance, will probably cause a flood of calls in protest. Present a construction project to a board or the legislature, and it may face fierce opposition. Ask for money to feed the elders of impoverished African tribes, and some will probably give, but most of us have other things we feel moved to support. However, add to any of these scenarios that it is for children, and the heart strings begin to play sweet music. Who is against the children? Why would you oppose raising money for children? It's only a few more cents per gallon. Look at those starving children! Have you no heart?
The American government is going deeper and deeper into debt, and we are constantly hearing how funds like Social Security are in danger of running out of money. Just last month, the U.S. Senate voted to raise the debt ceiling to $9.815 trillion, or else face government shut down. Still, instead of taking a hard look at the budget, and making difficult cuts in spending, more spending was proposed "for the children."
Presidential candidate Sen. Hillary Clinton proposed a $5,000 bond for every new baby born in the U.S. "I like the idea of giving every baby born in America a $5,000 account that will grow over time, so that when that young person turns 18 if they have finished high school they will be able to access it to go to college or maybe they will be able to make that down payment on their first home," she said. This, Sen. Clinton said, would encourage Americans to get back to the tradition of savings she remembers as a child.
While it is obvious that a meaningful savings mentality is based on appreciation of the value of money, which is not possible to be attained through gifts, and the government is already crying that they do not have enough money for programs already on the books, it is of little doubt that this new program will get serious consideration. It is, in fact, "for the children."
Similarly, when President George Bush vetoed an increase in the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP), some of the headlines read "Vetoing Help for Families," and "Bush ready to fight kids insurance bill." President Bush was characterized as being against children. How can he veto a bill "for the children?" His reason: we can't afford to increase the social program. While Pres. Bush may not be considered universally fiscally responsible, as far as the public is concerned, fiscal irresponsibility is acceptable, even preferable - as long as it is "for the children."
This principle not only functions in the White House, but in the church house as well. Do you want to build an addition on the church? When the board says we cannot afford it, just say "it's for the children," and somehow they will often find the money.
Many compromises have been made over the years to attract young people to church. From worldly music, to video game nights, to formal dances - things from which holiness Christianity once separated themselves - have now become church youth program staples.
One of the most amusing arguments for me comes during the holidays. Halloween, Valentine's Day Christmas, and Easter are all fueled strongly by "the children." When someone finds out that I do not observe these days, they ask me, "But what about your children?" Some go even further, accusing me of some form of neglect or cruelty, "How could you do that to your children?" I get a little less flack about Halloween, since the demonic characteristics of the ghosts, witches and goblins of that holiday cause most Christians some unease anyway. Yet the pressure is still on us to be better parents and indulge our children during these festivals.
Truth be told, it is "for my children" that I refuse to observe these holidays. The infusion of paganism into the practice of Christianity is an abomination that God will not ignore forever. The adoption of the ancient customs of pagan Mithraism's winter "Birthday of the Unconquered Sun," the pagan spring feast of Eostre, the Roman Lupercalia "festival of sexual license," and the Celtic Samhain festival are precise examples of rebellion on the part of the people of God.
God's word states clearly, "Thus saith the Lord, Learn not the way of the heathen, and be not dismayed at the signs of heaven; for the heathen are dismayed at them" (Jer. 10:2). Then He goes on to describe what can clearly be understood as a tradition that has crept into Christianity by way of the adoption of the pagan holidays. "For the customs of the people are vain: for one cutteth a tree out of the forest, the work of the hands of the workman, with the axe. They deck it with silver and with gold; they fasten it with nails and with hammers, that it move not" (Jer. 10:3-4). While there can be no doubt that He is also describing the carving of wooden statues, the custom of the Christmas tree is an obvious expression of a way of the heathen that has been learned by the people of God.
Even a casual study of the origins and traditions of these and other "Christian" celebrations will cause the believer to question their place in our lives. The common reasons for retaining them - "I think the decorations are pretty," "It's fun for the children," "We don't worship these things like the pagans did!" - will not be enough when we stand before the Lord to give account. "For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad" (2 Cor. 5:10).
When the children of Israel replaced the feasts of the Lord with some of their own, God's wrath was kindled upon them. When King Jeroboam of Israel ordained a feast in the eighth month to replace the Feast of Tabernacles of the seventh month (the true time of Messiah's eventual birth), God destroyed the altar of Jeroboam and promised to take the kingdom from the house of Jeroboam. Furthermore, he promised a day when a king named Josiah would arise to restore right worship to Israel.
Many years later, by the mouth of His prophets, God spoke again of the vile feasts which His people had chosen to observe instead of the Feasts He had ordained. He said, "I hate, I despise your feast days, and I will not smell in your solemn assemblies. Though ye offer me burnt offerings and your meat offerings, I will not accept them: neither will I regard the peace offerings of your fat beasts. Take thou away from me the noise of thy songs; for I will not hear the melody of thy viols. But let judgment run down as waters, and righteousness as a mighty stream. Have ye offered unto me sacrifices and offerings in the wilderness forty years, O house of Israel? But ye have borne the tabernacle of your Moloch and Chiun your images, the star of your god, which ye made to yourselves. Therefore will I cause you to go into captivity beyond Damascus, saith the Lord, whose name is The God of hosts" (Amos 5:21-27).
The Lord is not pleased with disobedience, even when it is done (as it were) for Him. He says, "Though ye offer me burnt offerings..." If you attempt to present to God a sacrifice of unholy, pagan traditions, and somehow think that they are sanctified because they are directed at Him, they will still be unacceptable. As Paul said, "And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty" (2 Cor. 6:16-18).
In fact, the "it's for the children" excuse may be the lamest one of all. The true worship of God is what best serves the interest of our children. Children are of the utmost concern to God. In fact, they are the stated purpose for at least two of the true Feasts of the Lord!
God ordained for His people to observe the Feast of Passover in the spring. Passover differs from Easter in that it brings to our remembrance the death of Jesus Christ, our Passover lamb, while Easter is the pagan festival of fertility which has been adapted to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus in conjunction with the "new life" of spring. Which of these two feasts did God intend to be kept throughout our generations?
When God first ordained the Passover, Moses said unto the elders of Israel, "Draw out and take you a lamb according to your families, and kill the passover. And ye shall take a bunch of hyssop, and dip it in the blood that is in the bason, and strike the lintel and the two side posts with the blood that is in the bason; and none of you shall go out at the door of his house until the morning. For the Lord will pass through to smite the Egyptians; and when he seeth the blood upon the lintel, and on the two side posts, the Lord will pass over the door, and will not suffer the destroyer to come in unto your houses to smite you. And ye shall observe this thing for an ordinance to thee and to thy sons for ever. And it shall come to pass, when ye be come to the land which the Lord will give you, according as he hath promised, that ye shall keep this service. And it shall come to pass, when your children shall say unto you, What mean ye by this service? That ye shall say, It is the sacrifice of the Lord's passover, who passed over the houses of the children of Israel in Egypt, when he smote the Egyptians, and delivered our houses. And the people bowed the head and worshipped" (Ex. 12:21-27).
Jesus confirmed the commandment of the Lord when He observed the Passover with His disciples the last time. "And he took bread, and gave thanks, and brake it, and gave unto them, saying, This is my body which is given for you: this do in remembrance of me. Likewise also the cup after supper, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood, which is shed for you" (Luke 22:19-20).
Paul repeated this commandment to the Gentiles, saying, "And when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me. After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me. For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord's death till he come." (1 Cor. 11:24-26). This we do. And we are able, from God's word, to tell our children why we observe the Passover (and even why we do not observe Easter).
Likewise, God commanded that the Feast of Tabernacles - the true time of the birth of Christ - be kept "That your generations may know that I made the children of Israel to dwell in booths, when I brought them out of the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God" (Lev. 23:43). If the children of Israel observed this feast as they were supposed to, they would have inevitably witnessed the star that signaled the birth of the Savior. Either they rejected the sign of Jesus' birth, or they were asleep in their beds in the house, contrary to the commandment of God. Either way, they were guilty.
This Feast, in particular, is even prophesied to be kept during Christ's millennial kingdom. "And it shall come to pass, that every one that is left of all the nations which came against Jerusalem shall even go up from year to year to worship the King, the Lord of hosts, and to keep the feast of tabernacles. And it shall be, that whoso will not come up of all the families of the earth unto Jerusalem to worship the King, the Lord of hosts, even upon them shall be no rain. And if the family of Egypt go not up, and come not, that have no rain; there shall be the plague, wherewith the Lord will smite the heathen that come not up to keep the feast of tabernacles" (Zech. 14:16-18).
God has commanded that these things be kept "That our generations may know..."
The wrath of God shall come upon the children of disobedience. As in the days of Amos, the "marriage" of belief in Jesus with traditions of paganism will bring God's fury on His rebellious children.
Do not think that we will miss the wrath of God simply because we are not appointed unto it. The daughters of Lot, with their husbands, were warned to flee the wrath to come, but rejected and mocked the admonition of their father.
Therefore, hear, O ye children of God, You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might. And the words, which I have commanded you, shall be in your heart: And you shall teach them diligently unto your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise up, That the generation to come might know them, even the children which should be born; who should arise and declare them to their children: That they might set their hope in God, and not forget the works of God, but keep his commandments: And might not be as their fathers, a stubborn and rebellious generation; but a generation that sets their heart aright, and whose spirit is steadfast with God. (See Deut. 6:5-7; Psa. 78:6-8.)
Let us do it for the children!