Topical - Halloween
A. This October 31, at the beginning of dusk, hundreds of thousands of moms and dads will send their children out trick-or-treating.
a) Is it a harmless holiday full of fun and snacks?
b) Is it an evil satanic holiday full of demons and evil spirits?
c) Have Christians over-reacted as they did in history when they burned innocent people at the stake because they thought they were witches?
d) Or is there a reason to be alarmed?
e) What does the Bible say about Halloween or does it say anything at all about it.
B. We are going to try and answer all of these questions in this morning’s teaching.
II. FIRST: WHERE DID HALLOWEEN COME FROM?
A. Our modern celebration of Halloween is a descendent of the ancient Celtic fire festival called "Samhain". The word is pronounced "sow-in", with "sow" rhyming with cow.
a) For the Celts it was the close of harvest and the initiation of the winter season which lasted till May.
b) The day before Samhain = "sow-in" (our modern day Halloween) was the last day of the old year and the day after Samhain was the first day of the New Year.
c) That is why it was also called "the Day Between Years" and it started at dusk.
d) Being "between years", so to speak, it was considered a very mystical time, when the dead walk among the living and the veils between past, present and future could be lifted by divination.
e) Samhain (sow-in) was the original festival that became "All Saints' Day" in the Catholic calendar. Since the Celts started every day at sunset of the night before, this became the "evening" of "All Hallows" ("hallowed" = "holy" = "saint") which was eventually contracted into "Hallow-e'en" or the modern "Halloween."
f) I must point out that there is no solid archaeological or literary evidence to indicate that Samhain was the god of the dead, although there has been speculation of such.
B. Samhain was also known as "the festival of the dead" because the Celts believed that disembodied spirits were particularly active at this time.
a) It was the time when the "veil between the worlds" was at its thinnest, and the living could communicate with their dead.
b) They also believed that on this night the dead visited and lived with the Fairy Folk (leprechauns), who lived in the numerous mounds that populated the Irish and Scottish countryside.
c) The fairies were often considered malevolent to humans because of taking over their lands. And on this night, they would sometimes trick humans into becoming lost in the fairy mounds, where they would be trapped forever.
d) When Christianity came to their land, some of the people tried to blend their belief in the fairies and the living dead with the Bible.
e) So they said the fairies were those angels who had sided neither with God nor with Lucifer and were condemned to walk the earth until judgment day. (Some would call that purgatory today.)
III. SO WHAT DID THEY DO THAT NIGHT?
Philip Carr-Gomm, (a Chief Druid himself), had this to say about Samhain (sow-in) in his Elements of the Druid Tradition: Samhuinn, from 31 October to 2 November was a time of no-time. Celtic society, like all early societies, was highly structured and organized, everyone knew their place. But to allow that order to be psychologically comfortable, the Celts knew that there had to be a time when order and structure were abolished, when chaos could reign. And Samhuinn, was such a time. Time was abolished for the three days of this festival and people did crazy things, men dressed as women and women as men. Farmers' gates were unhinged and left in ditches, peoples' horses were moved to different fields, and children would knock on neighbors' doors for food and treats in a way that we still find today, in a watered-down way, in the custom of trick-or-treating on Hallowe'en.
But behind this apparent lunacy, lay a deeper meaning. The Druids knew that these three days had a special quality about them. The veil between this world and the World of the Ancestors was drawn aside on these nights, and for those who were prepared, journeys could be made in safety to the 'other side'. The Druid rites, therefore, were concerned with making contact with the spirits of the departed, who were seen as sources of guidance and inspiration rather than as sources of dread. The dark moon, the time when no moon can be seen in the sky, was the phase of the moon which ruled this time, because it represents a time in which our mortal sight needs to be obscured in order for us to see into the other worlds.
The dead are honored and feasted, not as the dead, but as the living spirits of loved ones and of guardians who hold the root-wisdom of the tribe. With the coming of Christianity (actually Catholicism), this festival was turned into Hallowe'en (31 October), All Hallows [All Saints Day] (1 November), and [All Souls Day] (2 November). Here we can see most clearly the way in which Christianity built on the Pagan foundations it found rooted in these isles. Not only does the purpose of the festival match with the earlier one, but even the unusual length of the festival is the same.
A. This night was also use for divination = "channeling and fortune telling"
a) Among the most common were those dealing with marriage, weather, and future fortunes, and of course, talking to the dead.
b) These were performed by such methods as dunking for apples, and apple peeling.
(1) Ducking for apples was a marriage divination. The first person to bite an apple would be the first to marry in the coming year.
(2) Apple peeling was a divination to see how long your life would be. The longer the unbroken apple peel, the longer your life was destined to be.
c) In Scotland, people would place stones in the ashes of the hearth before retiring for the night. Anyone whose stone had been disturbed during the night was said to be destined to die during the coming year.
B. Is there any truth to the accusation of animal and human sacrifices?
a) History agrees that this was a night of "culling" the herd of undesirable animals.
b) But the witches and druids deny there were human sacrifices made.
c) Yet Caesar and Tacitus tell tales of the human sacrifices of the Celts.
IV. WHAT DOES THE BIBLE SAY?
A. Deut 12:31 (NKJV) "You shall not worship the Lord your God in that way; for every abomination to the Lord which He hates they have done to their gods; for they burn even their sons and daughters in the fire to their gods.
a) Granted this is not the same generation, but human sacrifice is part of satan’s game.
b) Throughout history ritualistic human sacrifice has been practiced.
2Kin 16:2 (NKJV) Ahaz [was] twenty years old when he became king, and he reigned sixteen years in Jerusalem; and he did not do [what] [was] right in the sight of the Lord his God, as his father David [had] [done]. 3 But he walked in the way of the kings of Israel; indeed he made his son pass through the fire, according to the abominations of the nations whom the Lord had cast out from before the children of Israel. 4 And he sacrificed and burned incense on the high places, on the hills, and under every green tree.
2Kin 21:1 (NKJV) Manasseh [was] twelve years old when he became king, and he reigned fifty-five years in Jerusalem. His mother's name [was] Hephzibah. 2 And he did evil in the sight of the Lord, according to the abominations of the nations whom the Lord had cast out before the children of Israel. 3 For he rebuilt the high places which Hezekiah his father had destroyed; he raised up altars for Baal, and made a wooden image, as Ahab king of Israel had done; and he worshiped all the host of heaven and served them. 4 He also built altars in the house of the Lord, of which the Lord had said, "In Jerusalem I will put My name." 5 And he built altars for all the host of heaven in the two courts of the house of the Lord. 6 Also he made his son pass through the fire, practiced soothsaying, used witchcraft, and consulted spiritists and mediums. He did much evil in the sight of the Lord, to provoke [Him] to anger. 7 He even set a carved image of Asherah that he had made, in the house of which the Lord had said to David and to Solomon his son, "In this house and in Jerusalem, which I have chosen out of all the tribes of Israel, I will put My name forever;
If you remember correctly, even the early church burnt a few witches at the stake in the name of the Lord!
c) And no doubt, each Halloween though it may not be the practice of all, some animals and even humans will loose their lives in ritualistic sacrifice by those that believe they are doing satan a favor!
B. There is not one thing about the origins of Halloween or Samhain (sow-in) "the festival of the dead" that glorifies Jesus Christ or can even be considered Christian.
a) The custom of trick-or-treating is thought to have originated with a ninth-century European custom called souling. On October 31, All Souls Day, early Christians would walk from village to village begging for "soul cakes" made out of square pieces of bread with raisins. The more soul cakes the beggars would receive, the more prayers they would promise to say on behalf of the dead relatives of the donors. At the time, it was believed that the dead remained in limbo for a time after death, and that prayer, even by strangers, could expedite a soul's passage to heaven.
b) Although a "religious concept" not a Christian truth.
Paul said, 2Cor 5:6 (NKJV) So [we] [are] always confident, knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord. 7 For we walk by faith, not by sight. 8 We are confident, yes, well pleased rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord.
c) The Jack-o-lantern custom comes from Irish folklore. As the tale is told, a man named Jack, who was notorious as a drunkard and trickster, tricked Satan into climbing a tree. Jack then carved an image of a cross in the tree's trunk, trapping the devil up the tree. Jack made a deal with the devil that, if he would never tempt him again, he would promise to let him down the tree. According to the folk tale, after Jack died, he was denied entrance to Heaven because of his evil ways, but he was also denied access to Hell because he had tricked the devil. Instead, he was cast into this place of "limbo" and the devil gave him a single ember to light his way through the cold darkness. The ember was placed inside a hollowed-out turnip to keep it glowing longer.
(1) When the Irish moved to American during the potato famine, they switched to pumpkins instead of turnips.
C. Deut 18:10 (NKJV) "There shall not be found among you [anyone] who makes his son or his daughter pass through the fire, [or] [one] who practices witchcraft, [or] a soothsayer, or one who interprets omens, or a sorcerer, 11 "or one who conjures spells, or a medium, or a spiritist, or one who calls up the dead. 12 "For all who do these things [are] an abomination to the Lord, and because of these abominations the Lord your God drives them out from before you.
A. Samhain (sow – in) the ancient celebration has come and gone! But, satan is alive and well!
a) And this holiday we call Halloween – gives that evil a “playground”.
(1) Innocent? Evil is NEVER innocent! It is about as innocent as the holocaust - about as innocent as Jesus’ death on the cross. And it is about as innocent as the bombing of the World Trade Center Towers – about as innocent as Harry Potter and the pre-school book of “Halloween ABC’s.
(2) Evil has been around a very long time!
(3) Keep in mind it is not the “day” that is evil! But evil that has capitalized the day.
E. The question that must be on some of your minds is, “So why does Calvary Chapel Central – Arrowhead acknowledge this day by having “Harvest Party”?
a) I think I have someone here that can give you an answer to that better than I can! (Have Danny and his grandson share!)
b) We are NOT celebrating Halloween! We are celebrating Jesus.
Paul says in 1Co 8:4 Therefore concerning the eating of things sacrificed to idols, we know that there is no such thing as an idol in the world, and that there is no God but one.