Sunday, August 7, 2022

Rudimentary Deception

The popular practice of forecasting the future and diving God’s plans from the calendar is not biblicalPaul chides the Galatians for returning to “bondage under the weak and beggarly rudiments,” especially epitomized in calendrical observations. Since they live in the era of fulfillment, resorting to outmoded rituals is akin to reverting to slavery. Did not God send Jesus to redeem us “that we might receive the adoption of sons”?

And “because we are sons, He sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts.” We are no longer minors under the supervision of custodians, but sons and heirs. And Jesus arrived “in the fullness of time,” which means a fundamental change in the law and the status of God’s people.

Elemental - Photo by Susan Holt Simpson on Unsplash
[Photo by Susan Holt Simpson on Unsplash]

In him, no longer are we minors - we have become full heirs of God’s promises. To now return to the “
rudimentary things” such as living by the cycles of the monthly calendar is the opposite of progress, freedom, and revelation. Instead, it is bondage, regression to the “shadows” of the old system even though we now possess the very substance that they foreshadowed!
  • But at that time, not knowing God, you were in bondage to them who, by nature, are not gods. But now, having acknowledged God, or rather, having been acknowledged by God, why are you reverting again to the weak and beggarly rudiments to which you again wish to come into bondage? Days you do narrowly observe, and months and seasons and years. I am afraid of you, lest by any means, in vain, I have toiled for you!


Yet today, the “apostles and prophets” who are striving to put the church under their authority routinely issue “prophetic” pronouncements based on the calendar. This is the month of Tammuz or the third month of the Hebrew year which, supposedly, signifies this, that, or whatever pops into their collective head. Why study and follow the Bible when you can decipher your “destiny” from lunar cycles and Hebrew numbers?

Not only so, but today’s faux “prophets” employ the calendar in ways never described in the Mosaic law. Nowhere in the Hebrew Bible do we find holy men of God using the calendar to forecast the future or divine the will of God. And we certainly do not find any examples of Jesus or Paul or Peter doing anything of the sort.

But we do find Isaiah, a genuine prophet of God, taking certain individuals to task for engaging in “monthly prognostication,” claims to have special insights derived from the monthly phases of the moon, the very thing that is the basis of the Hebrew lunar calendar. And, tellingly, Isaiah lumps this practice with sorcery and astrology (“Let now the astrologers, the stargazers, the monthly prognosticators stand up and save you from the things that will come upon you”).


To the Galatians, Paul uses an analogy based on the adoption practices of the Greco-Roman culture. Under the law, Israel was comparable to a minor child before his formal adoption when the child was still under “custodians and administrators” appointed by his adoptive parent. And as such, the minor child differed little from household slaves.

Likewise, we were “children” in bondage under the “rudiments of the world” until the time appointed when God sent his Son to redeem us. Consequently, we have been adopted, and as sons, we are heirs and no longer minors, and we should cease our former childish ways.

And in his analogy, the law of Moses with its feast days and food regulations plays the role of the “custodian.” But since our “adoption,” a change in status has occurred, and this is demonstrated by the receipt of the gift of the Spirit. And thus, in Jesus, the role of the “custodian” has ceased.

The Greek term rendered “rudiments” or stoicheion means “elemental, elementary, rudimentary, basic” - (Strong’s - #G4747).  It may refer to any first thing, the parts or the building blocks that comprise a larger whole. Simply put, the ‘ABCs,’ the elementary stages of any subject or parts of any larger thing.

Thus, to revert to observing the days and months and years is to return to the elementary stages of the old era rather than living in the new and mature one inaugurated by Jesus. Rather than completion and maturity, at best, this is a regression to infantile behavior. To submit to religious rules and insight based on the cycles of celestial bodies is to submit to bondage under the “rudiments” of the old regime.


And Paul further defines these rudimentary things as “weak and beggarly” to emphasize the point. What the Galatians are doing will only weaken and impoverish them spiritually.

Similarly, Paul exhorts the church in Colossae not to let any man “judge you in food or drink or respect of a feast day or a new moon or a sabbath day.” Those things are mere “shadows of the coming things, but the body is of Christ.” And rather than “holding fast the head” – Jesus - engaging in calendrical observations and dietary regulations means submitting to the very “rudiments of the world, the same ones to which the Colossians have already “died with Christ.”

One of the ironies is that the Hebrew month names used in these prognostications are not Hebrew at all. Prior to the Babylonian Captivity, the Israelites tracked their months numerically – the first month, second, third, etc. Only a few of the present “Hebrew” month names occur in the post-exilic books of the Old Testament. In Babylon, the Jews adopted certain features from the pagan Babylonian calendar, including its month names.

The “Hebrew” month names are in fact the Hebrew spellings of old Akkadian names, some of which are derived from the Mesopotamian pagan cults. For example, the month ‘Nisan’ is the Hebrew form of the Babylonian name Nisānu, which means “beginnings.” ‘Elul’ is the equivalent of Ulūlu, also known as Innana and Ishtar, the goddess of war and love and the “Queen of heaven” (“The children gather wood, and the fathers kindle the fire, and the women knead the dough, to make cakes to the queen of heaven, and to pour out drink-offerings to other gods”).


But today’s “apostles and prophets” have progressed even beyond the rudiments of the ancient Hebrew calendar, as they now incorporate the much later Gregorian calendar into their prognostications, and this provides a source for even more “prophetic” insights and tomfoolery.

For example, August is the “month of promotion on the Gregorian calendar because it is the 8th month, which is the month of “New Beginnings,” so expect promotions “in the spirit realm” that month per one of the “prophetic revivalists” at ‘20/20’ is the label optometrists assign to perfect vision, therefore the year 2020 is the year God will give the church a clear and complete spiritual vision. Etc.

Of course, what happens on August 31? No more spiritual promotions after midnight, and in which time zone? And in September they will us it is a time of “atonement.” So, if I need my sins forgiven, must I wait until the first of next month? What if I die in my sins in the meantime? Did God cease giving us clear vision and insight into the “spirit realm” when 2020 turned into 2021?

All this may seem silly, but it is deadly serious. Elsewhere, Paul’s writings suggest a link between the “elementary things” and the hostile spiritual “powers and principalities.” By embracing these and other forms of divination, the “apostles and prophets” are interacting with demonic forces, and that is never a good idea.

Moreover, they have not introduced these practices to entertain us, nor do they mean that today’s deceivers are ignoramuses engaged in obsolete rites and beliefs well beyond their shelf life. They do this to prey on unsuspecting Christians, to keep their names and “ministries” front and center in our minds, and to enhance their positions, popularity, and bank accounts. This is a way to sell books, seminars, videos, and otherwise “make merchandise” of God’s flock.

We live in a time when many Christians will no longer “endure sound teaching.” Instead, they have “heaped to themselves teachers after their own lusts,” deceivers within the church who scratch their “itching ears” with fanciful notions and turn them away from the truth and “aside to mythos” – fables, old wives’ tales, and Jewish myths.

We are in the “season” when many will apostatize from the faith because they listen to “seducing spirits and doctrines of demons.” And it is no coincidence that Paul dealt with the subject of calendrical observations in Colossae in the same passage where he warned against listening to men who were “invoking angels,” a practice also common among today’s “monthly prognosticators.”

In short, the “apostles and prophets” are peddling nonsense but also playing with demonic fire. Buyer beware!