Chapter 11, part 3

Loyalty to the Kingdom

Making God’s Heart Rejoice—the Christian View of Holidays

Jehovah is the “happy God,” and he wants us to enjoy life as well. He gave Israel three major festivals in the year, and one purpose of these was “to appear before Him with rejoicing” in gratitude for all His blessings upon them that year. (Deut 16:9-16) We too should rejoice before him, celebrating the blessings we receive as well. But we must take care to do so in the way that is pleasing to him. To this end he advises us about things to avoid, things that may seem fun at first but which lead to unpleasant results. Our first reaction might be a puzzled “why not?”, but since our earnest desire is to please Him, we listen carefully and comply. In time we acquire a sense of his feelings about things, we gain ability to judge whether something would meet his favor or not. A child only asks, “is it fun?”, but an adult has learned to ask, “is it right?”

Jehovah is the God of truth. He cannot lie. There is no falsehood with him at all, nor will he countenance falsehood being promoted in his name. The vital importance of truth is prominent throughout the Bible. “You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free,” Jesus said. When the Samaritan woman at the well asked him how to properly worship God, he replied “the true worshipers will worship the Father with spirit and truth . . . the Father is looking for ones like these to worship him . . . those worshiping him must worship with spirit and truth.” —Ps 31:5, Titus 1:1, 2, John 8:31, 32; 4:23, 24.

Falsehood and ignorance are often compared to darkness, while truth and knowledge are like light. John tells us: “God is light and there is no darkness at all in him.” He then goes on to say: “If we make the statement ‘We are having a fellowship with him,’ and yet we go on walking in the darkness, we are lying and are not practicing the truth.” (1 John 1:5, 6; see also John 8:12 and 3:19-21.) Strong words! How important is truth to you, especially truth about matters of faith and worship?

Falsehood, whether unintentional or deliberate, is a contamination. If you had a big stain on your clothing but did not know of it, would that prevent others from noticing? Hardly. Would you appreciate it if someone kindly brought it to your attention, or would you be angry at them? And after you learned of it, would you proudly display the stain, trying to pass it off as the latest fashion, or would you change clothes as quickly as you could, and wash the dirty garment? Likewise with any imperfection in our worship: when God kindly alerts us to something that needs to be made clean, we will loyally act quickly to do so. We will not make excuses or drag our feet.

With this in mind, let us inspect some of the popular holidays of the world. The world has a calender full of celebrations, some religious, others political. Of these, Christmas is surely the most popular. Ostensibly a Christian celebration of the birthday of Christ, even atheists and pagans enjoy it. Surely that must please God, right?

On closer look, however, we find that it is built on a foundation of paganism and falsehoods. First, it is widely admitted that the date is wrong. Jesus was born in the fall, around early October by our calender. The Bible writers were not inspired to give us the date, which itself should tell us that it is not important for us to know or observe. We can deduce it approximately, this way: Jesus was to minister for three years and six months, then give his life for us. The date of his death is recorded precisely: the same day as the feast of Passover. This was by Law Nisan 14th by the Jewish lunar calender (Lev 23:4, 5). On our solar calender this varies between late March and early April. Jesus therefore began his work 6 months (and 3 years) earlier when he was baptised by John the Baptiser. Luke (3:23) says he did this when he was "about thirty years old." By God’s Law, a Levite would begin his priestly service at the age of thirty (Num 4:3), so we could assume Jesus would have begun his priestlike ministry soon after his thirtieth birthday. This would place his day of birth in late September or early October (by our months), or close to the Day of Atonement. This approximation fits with Luke's account that puts shepherds with their flocks out in the pastures that night, something highly unlikely in late December.

So December 25th (or January 6th, as some prefer) is false; it is not Christ's birthday. Why, then, was it chosen? Well, December 22nd is the winter solstice, or shortest day of the year. Pagans who worshipped the sun were very relieved each year when their god began to revive or be reborn, when they measured the days beginning to lengthen again. It was the birthday of the invincible Sun! So by the 25th it was time to party, and they partied hard, pretty much the way many do Christmas today. Christianity, when it was new and pure, would never mix anything touching on devotion to false gods with worship of the one true God. “What sharing does light have with darkness?” Paul wrote. “What agreement does God’s temple have with idols? . . . Therefore get out from among them and separate yourselves, and quit touching the unclean thing.” (2 Corinthians 6:14-18) Paul was even inspired to discourage Jewish converts from continuing to observe the holy days once so special to them: and these had been days ordained by God! How much more so, then, would Christians have been expected to leave behind days devoted to false gods! (See Gal 4:8-11, Col 3:16, 17.) Yet within a hundred years, the congregations began drifting into spiritual infidelity. They began to reason that any belief in Christ is better than none, so why not allow new converts to hold on to their popular (fun) pagan holidays? It fills the cathedral and the coffers, so what's the problem? They had utterly lost spiritual sight of how God and Christ feel about it. They whitewashed the infidelity by saying it was now to celebrate the birth of the Son. But saying it doesn’t make it so.

So should we move Christmas to October? The shopping malls have already done that. . . Actually, we have no reason to believe Jesus wants us to celebrate his birthday at all. God’s Law for Israel did not include any birth-date celebrations, nor was it customary for Jews to do such. So neither Jesus nor his parents ever observed his birthday with any ritual. Nor is there any mention of such attention being given by any of the apostles or the early congregations. All devotion was directed toward honoring his teachings, his death and his glorification, not his infancy. Where, then, did such an idea come from? Again, from paganism. Birthday celebration has long been widespread and very important among ‘the nations that do not know God.’ In ancient times it was done for mystic or religious reasons; today it is mainly an excuse to have a party. The Bible mentions only two birthday celebrations, both by ungodly men. Both are marred by untimely death; it is in fact a servant of God, John the Baptiser himself, who is murdered at Herod's party. Could God be trying to tell us something here? —Gen 40:18-22, Matt 14:6-11.

There is much more to say against Christmas. Would you like to be known as a liar? Do you think it is fun to be misled, deceived, played for a fool? Then why would you ever do that to your innocent little children? Do you have them believing in Santa? That this jolly old fat man living at the North Pole keeps a list of all the naughty and nice kids, and rewards them with toys (or not)? This is wrong in so many ways! First, whose shoes does that put Santa into? Is it not the true God who is “the rewarder of those who seek him”? (Hebrews 11:6; see also Job 34:11, Rev 22:12.) How would He feel to see you putting a fictitious man in His place? And as you know, "Santa" rewards kids according to how rich their parents are. Does God do that? The true reward is so much more than the cheap baubles and playthings so typical of Christmas. To encourage in children such eager anticipation of mere material things so cruelly misleads them that it is a crime. Do they really regard the holiday as being about Jesus? Or is it the motherlode of all goodies? We all know of children who become very demanding in their expectations and very upset when they are not met, as well as the tendency to jealously compare their gifts with what others got. Ah, the spirit of Christmas! —compare Phil 3:8, Matt 6:19-21.

And of course, you know they will discover the truth about Santa after a few years. Sure they forgive you, but do they ever forget that you lied, you led them on, you let them devoutly believe and trust in this falsehood? What else were you lying about? And that church that hosted the jolly old elf, what else is it lying about? Is God just another false trust? Children need to learn that not everyone is trustworthy, but do you really want to teach them that way? What do you think God would have you do? —2 Cor 7:8-11.

What else about Xmas is false? People say, "we need to put Christ back into Christmas," but he really never was in it. Such forced saccharin sweetness, such blatant commercial exploitation, such a burden of obligation to gift people you hardly know and don't even like! Why don't we just have a holiday and call it "Be Nice." We could all be nice to one another that day and do things for each other and sing together. Then we could be ourselves the rest of the year. See anything wrong with that picture? What would God have us do? Do we need a holiday to get along? To gather the family? To give gifts from our heart to people who are not expecting them? To receive a gift without feeling pressure to give one in return? We should do that anytime, all the time.*

What about the much-touted power of the holiday to inspire peace? We see it in time of war; sometimes it brings about a whole day of ceasefire. Then the next day, back to the slaughter. Compare that to the power of God’s truth: Micah 4:1-4. “But it reminds people of Jesus,” some protest. “It has to be good.” Remember, Satan can present himself as an angel of light. He even will do good deeds to gain his victim's trust. Does that mean there is no problem? Whatever "good" that Christmas accomplishes is outweighed by the end result: God’s wrath at the adulteration and perversion of the truth.

Of course, most people get that day off work, so it may be a convenient time to gather with friends; and the seasonal discounts may make splurging (and gift-giving) seem opportune. Nevertheless, conscientious Christians would avoid even the appearance of evil, of imitating paganism, of adopting a semblance of its festivals or celebrations, covering it up by merely calling them by another name, or by not calling them by name. We do not even start down that road, setting up a "ersatz-Christmas" of our own. By pointedly doing our rejoicing on our own schedule, we declare our freedom from the world.

So the first holiday we examined fared quite badly. With this beginning it should come as no shock to learn that there really are no holidays dictated by the world or by popular custom that meet the standards of purity in worship and belief. Easter, perhaps the second most important observance in Christendom, is supposed to honor Christ’s resurrection. Surely that is an event to memorialise. But what do inflatable plastic rabbits have to do with it? How does stringing plastic eggs on bushes honor Him? These are recent accoutrements, but the traditional trappings, while less gauché, have no more real connection to Christ than they do. Once again, they were borrowed directly from pagan festivities that the apostate church decided to adapt to make "conversion" easier. The pagans were celebrating the return of Spring. Nothing wrong with being happy about the end of winter! But of course they credited their fertility gods and goddesses, and did things to encourage their idols to be fruitful. That's why the rabbits and eggs. The goddess most prominent in these was called Astarte or Aphrodite by the Greeks, Ashtoreth by the Canaanites in the Bible, Isis in Egypt, Ishtar in Babylonia. The Romans called her Venus.* So celebrating Easter is really honoring Ashtoreth. If you need any clues as to Jehovah's opinion of that, see 1 Kings 11:4-11.

True Christians know that they cannot honor their Lord by offending him. (Takes no genius to figure that out, does it?) Jesus said, "You are my friends if you do what I am commanding you." (John 15:14) He expects us to be "no part of the world." In prayer to his Father he asked: “Sanctify [cleanse] them by means of the truth. Your word is truth.” (John 17:16, 17) Easter has about as filthy an origin as can be found. It has no place in Christian devotion. Has the truth set you free yet?

Do not say, “Ah, but the church sanctified, cleansed, this paganism by washing it in the Truth of Christ!” God does not see it that way. We are "washed" of sin by faith in Christ, but we also leave the sin behind and practice it no more. “If we practice sin willfully after having received the accurate knowledge of the truth, there is no longer any sacrifice for sins left,” rather, we should be in fearful expectation of God’s wrath, says Paul at Hebrews 10:26, 27. Is service to false gods (or the rituals thereof) sin? Jehovah's warning to Israel is our answer: “Be careful to obey all these words that I am commanding you, so that it may always go well with you and your sons after you, because you are doing what is good and right in the eyes of Jehovah your God. When Jehovah your God annihilates the nations that you are to dispossess, and you are living in their land, be careful not to be entrapped after they have been annihilated from before you. Do not ask about their gods, saying, ‘How were these nations accustomed to serve their gods? I too will do the same.’ You must not do this to Jehovah your God, because they do for their gods every detestable thing that Jehovah hates, even burning their sons and their daughters in the fire to their gods. Every word that I am commanding you is what you should be careful to do. You must not add to it nor take away from it.” —De 12:28-32; see also 1 Cor 10.18-22, 1 Pet 1.14-16.

Naming a pagan festivity after the true God does not make it acceptable to Him. While Moses was up on the mountain receiving the Law, the people waiting below got impatient and asked Moses’ brother to make them a god to lead them. So Aaron had a calf idol made and told the people: “This is your God who led you out of Egypt. . . There is to be a festival to Jehovah tomorrow.” Notice he got the Name right, but the god very, very wrong. But the people were happy! “The people sat down to eat and drink, then they got up to have a good time.” They had quite a celebration, with music and dancing and no doubt a lot of laughter. But how did the True God view this? He said to Moses: “Your people have corrupted themslves . . . they are an obstinate people . . . let my anger blaze against them, that I may exterminate them!” Although He did not do that, when Moses hurried back, what he saw made him so angry that he threw the stone tablets of the Law down and shattered them. Then he demanded the people take a side: For the true God, or for the false god they had made. No, they could not have it both ways. Those who stuck by falsehood paid with their lives. Clearly, it was very serious then, and it has to be just as serious today, for with God, there is no softening of standards. God is watching what choice you are making now that you know how he feels. Do you love him enough to make the right choice? (Read the full account at Exodus chapter 32. See also James 1:17.)

Yes, we should rejoice before our God for his blessings. “For, indeed, Christ our passover lamb has been sacrificed. So let us keep the festival, not with old leaven, neither with leaven of badness and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.” “You were once darkness, but you are now light in connection with the Lord. Go on walking as children of light, for the fruitage of the light consists of every sort of goodness and righteousness and truth. Keep on making sure of what is acceptable to the Lord; and quit sharing with them in the unfruitful works that belong to the darkness.” —1 Cor 5:7, 8, Eph 5:8-11.

Earlier we mused that the Bible's negative portrayal of birthday celebrations might mean that they too are not for God’s people. Of course we are happy to be a year older, considering the alternative. Yet one day is really not above another; we are happy to be a day older too, each day. Still, there is scriptural precedent for commemorating significant events annually. The first annual Israelite festival, Passover, was in memory of their deliverance from slavery. On a personal level, there are many events we could reasonably hold in fond memory: our wedding, our baptism, a graduation or other achievement, the birth of a child, even sad events such as the death of a loved one; really any significant beginnings and endings. If we choose to remember these with some sort of observance, that is a personal decision. As a date, they are significant to us and at most a few other persons. But as God’s children we include Him in all our life, so we would want any observance to be pleasing to Him as well. We would never bring in the customs and rituals of the world that derive from paganism, for example, special cakes with candles, ritualistic greetings and songs, or obligatory gift-giving. Many feel that their birthday entitles them to gifts, and they become quite annoyed if these do not meet their expectations. So birthdays (and like customs) have promoted unseemly self-centeredness. Anytime a gift is given, it should be from the heart; no gift should be demanded or required on a special day as "proof" of love. (See Rom 12:2, 3.) If you want to privately take note that your child has become a year older, that is your business, but you should not oblige anyone else to make a fuss over it. Really we should make our children feel special every day of the year, without encouraging them to think more of themselves than is proper. Picking out the birthday as if it needed special ritualized attention has no support in God’s word. Since that idea comes from pagan astrological beliefs, which are both false and offensive to God, it would be disrespectful to Him for us to be governed by them. Christians find better ways to be happy with their children.

Would You Risk Your Life For God?

True patriots are willing die for their country. They raise their children to be patriotic and proudly send them off to war whenever their leaders send out the call. Multitudes admire and praise the serious young soldier in his sharp uniform. Later they honor the flag-draped coffin with most solemn ceremonies. Believing they are defending community and family and freedom, some feel that obeying political leaders unto death is a service to God, which he will reward by taking them straight to heaven from the battlefield. In times past, such convictions made soldiers fearless in the fight. The patriotic slogan was "for God and country." But since 9/11 especially, the horror of zealots with explosive belts splattering their body parts across crowded markets in the name of god (not Jehovah) has caused many to be skeptical of the idea of dying for God, seeing it as dangerous religious foolishness. What do you think? Have you ever wondered, is there anyone or anything I would die for?

Some are still willing to die for causes they strongly believe in, even without faith in a hereafter. But the truth is, many more people are willing to die for something far less valuable: money. They will put their life at risk just for the paycheck, not in war only, but at work as well. And there are some who are willing to risk death just for the thrill of it. They may join the military for the adventure, although most learn that war tends to get a bit too exciting in that regard. In sport, "extreme athletes" say that the only time they feel alive is when they are tempting death. Have you thought about the choices you are making? What are you dying for?

True Christians have firm and confident faith in God’s power both to give life and to give life again, to those who are loyal to Him. They know that his Kingdom is a real government, and it is worth dying for. It offers the true freedom that deserves our ultimate sacrifice, should necessity require it. Jesus assured those who would follow him, “If anyone wants to come after me, let him disown himself and pick up his execution post and continually follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” (Matt 16:24) He is plainly saying, ‘do not think of yourself as belonging to yourself; follow the way I lead, despite any pain that enemies may put you through, even to death; if you are too timid to do this, you will die anyway, with nothing to show for it, but if you obey God faithfully your future is guaranteed.’ But do you really believe this? You cannot make this decision lightly; if you are not thoroughly convinced, you will cut and run when the battle begins. Courage under fire requires preparation. Now is the time to prepare.

What God requires in obedience is really no burden; he loves us and requires only what will be best for us in the long term. That does not mean it will be easy or without cost. The most famous sermon ever given begins this way: “Happy are you poor, because yours is the kingdom of God. Happy are you who hunger now, because you will be filled. Happy are you who weep now, because you will laugh. Happy are you whenever men hate you, and whenever they exclude you and reproach you and denounce your name as wicked for the sake of the Son of man. Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, for, look! your reward is great in heaven.” Clearly, the path of service to God is not the path of least resistance! —Luke 6:20-23; see also 1 Cor 4:9-13.

There are commands of God that test our faith in his authority and his wisdom. In the garden of Eden, it was a forbidden tree. Adam and Eve were to respect that boundary because God said they should. The tree looked fine, nutritious, tasty, but God said no. Sustain your life by eating from the other trees only. That tree and that garden no longer exist, but there is still a forbidden food. Will you respect God’s authority, or will you be like Adam and Eve?

What is the forbidden nourishment? God first names it at Genesis 9:3-6: “Every moving animal that is alive may serve as food for you. Just as I gave you the green vegetation, I give them all to you. Only flesh with its soul—its blood—you must not eat. Besides that, I shall require an accounting for the blood of your souls. I will require an accounting from every living creature; and from each man I will demand an accounting for the life of his brother. Anyone shedding man’s blood, by man will his own blood be shed, for in God’s image he made man.”

Did you get the point? God in effect says, ‘I claim the blood of every creature, including man. You may eat meat, but not the blood. It is mine, and I ask it back. When you die, you return your blood. (Until then you may keep it.) You should not shed the blood of your fellow man. Murderers forfeit their right to their own blood, and you should execute justice by returning the murderer's blood to me.’ [Note that there is an implicit distinction between just execution and murder.] But why did God claim all blood?

Did you notice that God made blood synonymous with something else? He said "its soul—its blood." As we discussed in Chapter 10, the word "soul" (Hebrew, nephesh) means the individual life of moving, breathing creatures (it literally means "a breather".) Jehovah is the source of life, and all life belongs to him. Because blood flows throughout the entire body, and is essential for life, he has chosen to use blood as the physical symbol of his ownership. By treating it with respect, as strictly his property when shed, we show we accept Him as God. If we disregard this law, we show we dismiss his authority over our life. It is really that serious.

According to the Bible, we all trace our lineage through Noah's family; so this command given to Noah applies to all mankind. When God gave his special covenant Law to Israel, he repeated this law and explained it more carefully. At Leviticus 17:10-14 we read: “If any man of the house of Israel or any foreigner who is residing in your midst eats any sort of blood, I will certainly set my face against the one who is eating the blood, and I will cut him off from among his people. For the life [nephesh, soul] of the flesh is in the blood, and I myself have put it on the altar for you to make atonement for yourselves, because it is the blood that makes atonement by means of the life [soul] in it. That is why I have said to the Israelites: ‘None of you should eat blood, and no foreigner who is residing in your midst should eat blood.’ If one of the Israelites or any foreigner who is residing in your midst is hunting and catches a wild animal or a bird that may be eaten, he must pour its blood out and cover it with dust. For the life [soul] of every sort of flesh is its blood, because the life [soul] is in it. Consequently, I said to the Israelites: ‘You must not eat the blood of any sort of flesh, because the life [soul] of every sort of flesh is its blood. Anyone eating it will be cut off.’” —see also Lev 7:26, 27; Deut 12:16, 23, 24; 15:23.

In the covenant Law, blood was in essential part of the required sacrifices for "atonement" for sin. (Heb 9:22) The absolute penalty for all sin is death, but God, not actually being eager for our demise, but not wanting us to take sin lightly either, gave to Israel a figurative way to "die" for their sins: kill an animal in their place, and put its blood on the altar at the temple in a solemn ceremony. Blood was never to be used in any other way, particularly not for nourishment. Anyone attempting to prolong his life by consuming blood instantly forfeited his right to continue living. "I will certainly set my face against the one who is eating the blood, and I will cut him off from among his people." "Cut him off" did not mean exile or banishment, it meant execution.

In later centuries religious extremists, being hyper-observant, decreed that meat must be purged of every trace of juice for it to be "kosher." The original law was more reasonable. Simply open the veins and let gravity drain it out. That was enough to show God the respect of ownership that he demanded. As a result, an ordinary cut of red meat might have a trace of blood in it. As long as it was not deliberately or carelessly retained, that was not an issue.

OK, so this is a primitive ancient religious viewpoint, long superceded by the modern, liberal, "love is all you need" religion, right? Not for Christians who carefully discern God’s will. When Christ gave his blood, his life, his soul, for all men, that did indeed supercede the symbolic forms of sacrifice. It was the real thing, and atoned for all generations of mankind who accept it. We must still respect God’s ownership of our life, and all life. That remains a foundation principle of submission to God. But does it still involve literal blood? —Matt 20:28; Hebrews 9:11-14; 10:1-4; 1 Peter 1:14-19, Romans 14:8.

Yes. When a controversy came up in early Christianity over a point of Law—whether male circumcision was still required to symbolize spiritual purity—a conference was convened. God’s will was discerned by consulting scripture, by noting his recent leading by spirit, and by directly asking for discernment in prayer. Here is the conclusion reached, sent by letters to all congregations for united observance: “The holy spirit and we ourselves have favored adding no further burden to you except these necessary things: to keep abstaining from things sacrificed to idols, from blood and from things strangled, and from sexual immorality. If you carefully keep yourselves from these things, you will prosper.” —Acts 15:1-29.

Note what was considered "necessary": do not join with pagan idolatry ("things sacrificed to idols" meant food consecrated to an idol god, then eaten as communing with that god), do not commit sexual immorality, and, do not consume blood or meat with blood left in it ("things strangled"). These were not new laws nor any revision of the old; it was a restating of what they had known from ancient times. Circumcision of the flesh was out, replaced by a more meaningful circumcision of the heart (Romans 2:28, 29), but the laws on morals, idolatry, and blood remained. If you are a Christian, this applies to you. Now. Today.

In most countries slaughterhouses do drain the blood from the meat, so what you buy at the market will likely satisfy God’s law. Although in Western lands blood is rarely put in any food, Christians do not take the attitude "what I do in ignorance does not count." You wouldn't take that attitude about salmonella or e coli, would you? If you can easily learn the truth, you are responsible to know it. Read the label, ask the butcher, use your eyes. But after reasonable diligence, do not fret over a few hidden stray drops.

In terms of priority, where does obedience to God’s clear law rank? Which is more important, saving our life for the present, or obeying God? Most people reason that human life is the ultimate value; you should save life at any price. If you have to lie, cheat, steal, kill, break any law, whatever, it is OK, even praiseworthy, if you do it to save your life, or someone else's life. Now, there are laws of man that if obeyed strictly could at times cost someone their life; it makes sense to "apply" (bend, stretch, break) such laws in a way that does not cause such an end. Yes, I will cross the double yellow highway line to avoid getting hit head-on. In that case the greater purpose of survival outranks the minor purpose served by the obedience. God’s laws are of a different caliber. Understood correctly, they are always correct. Jesus took the Pharisees to task repeatedly for their unreasonably strict and injurious interpretation of the Law*, which cautions us as to how we apply God’s law today: neither so slackly that we disrespect it, nor so strictly that we break its purpose, or break another higher law. In fact we never have to actually break a law of God in order to properly keep another one. —see Matt 23:15, 23, 12:1-14.

The Bible honors those who courageously faced death rather than disobey God. For example, remember the three young Hebrews who refused to bow to an national idol, despite the raging furnace that awaited them? (Discussed earlier here. The point was, the world needs more people like that. Can you be one of them?) See also Daniel 6, where Daniel openly defied the law against praying to God, bringing the issue to a confrontation, despite the threat of dying in a lion's den. There are times when our obedience must be bold despite the risk.

With this in mind, we must consider a modern life-saving medical procedure developed during the heavy bloodshed of World War II: blood transfusion. It is believed that many soldiers lived to die another day because of battlefield transfusion. After the war the procedure was refined in civilian hospitals and came to be regarded as a gift of God in saving countless lives. But the Christian has to ask: how does this square with God’s clear prohibition on the consumption of blood? It saves lives, surely that is all that counts—right? Would God rather we perish obeying Him? Most people reason, ‘You can't offend God trying to save a life. He understands. That's the time all rules are to be thrown out the window. Nothing is more important than saving human life. That is what He wants you to do.’

We want to get this right. Our lives depend on it: if we offend God trying to save ourselves, do we really save ourselves? Isn't that what Jesus said, “He who saves his life [his own way] loses it, but he who loses his life for my sake saves it”? This could really test our faith!

Looking at God's law carefully as recorded in inspired scripture, we find it simple and clear. He counts blood—all blood—as his exclusive property, and it is not to be transferred to another. So it does not matter that the blood comes from a willing donor who is still alive. It is still blood, and to God it represents that person's soul or life. The donor does not have the authority to grant it to another; once that person has no further use for it, it transfers to God alone.* And God forbids using another’s blood to nourish ourselves. It does not matter that the path of entry bypasses the mouth. Consuming it in any way violates the principle of ownership. The only way he ever permitted blood to be used to sustain life was by giving it to Him as a substitute for our life. Taking it to ourself to sustain our life would have been the diametric opposite of the use permitted and was emphatically, repeatedly, clearly forbidden. Violating the law ends our grant of life from him, which would certainly defeat the purpose. It is clear God considered this matter to be greater than our present existence. It is something He expects us to be willing to die for.

That does not mean he wants us to die, and we are not too eager in that regard either. So let us look at blood transfusion from a medical viewpoint: is there any other way to accomplish what it does?

The answer is not only an emphatic yes, it turns out that these other methods are almost always superior to transfusion by "heterogenous" (someone else’s) blood.* In a controlled situation, such as elective surgery, the best results come from limiting blood loss in the first place. Sounds obvious, but doctors got rather careless when they thought they could just pour in more blood. One way to prevent loss is laser knife or electrocautery, which seals as it cuts. (If you want to know more, google the words.) Some surgeries do not lend themselves to this entirely (open heart, for example); in that case, the blood can be vacuumed out of the work area and returned to the patient, either immediately or later.

What if much blood has already been lost before surgery begins? The first priority is to stop the bleeding. That would be true even if blood transfusion were allowed. If the points of loss are large or many, or internal and inaccessible, pouring in more fluid, including real blood, can make matters worse. A well educated trauma surgeon should know this. If he cannot stop the excessive hemorrhaging, loss of life is likely no matter what else he does. Once that is stabilized to the degree possible, then the heart needs to have something to pump, so replacing lost volume is the second step. Except in the most extreme cases, any clean biocompatible fluid will do. The most common is saline solution, which has the added advantage of being dirt cheap (not that the hospital will price it accordingly.)

The primary functions of blood are to carry oxygen and remove cell waste; saline will do the latter, but red cells are needed for the former. (There have been modestly successful experiments in alternative oxygen-bearing fluids, but these are still considered experimental and have negatives.) At one time doctors routinely ordered blood transfusion if the "hematocrit" (hct, percent volume of red cells) fell to 30,* and would not operate until it was brought up. Faced with patients who adamantly refused blood, some reluctantly allowed surgery at a count as low as 12, and were surprised to find that there were essentially no adverse effects.* Of course the patient is quite faint; but normal hct gives us the reserve capacity we need for heavy exertion. If a person is flat on their back semi-comatose, they can get by on much less. Surgery has been successful even at an hct of 6. After all else is patched, the body will replace the missing red cells. This regeneration can be accelerated by iron supplements and the hormone erythropoietin (Google again.) Another fact: real blood stored for a few days is not immediately helpful in carrying oxygen; the red cells can take a day or two to get to work, so at first real blood could make the oxygen situation worse, not better.

Each person’s blood is unique, just as much as his heart or liver is. All organ transplants activate an immune response, so organ recipients have to have their immune systems suppressed to prevent rejection. If careful matching is not done, the reaction can be so severe as to be quickly fatal. Even well-matched blood is still recognised as foreign, and some degree of inflammation always occurs, often retarding recovery from the condition for which the transfusion was given. In other words, if blood is avoided, the patient usually recovers faster and in greater comfort. And that assumes the blood is pure. Although blood is screened for pathogens and impurities (not always carefully or honestly), no screening is infallible; they cannot look for what they do not yet know about, nor can they afford to look for all rare contaminants. And what they do test for has a definite percentage of false negatives. You get the donors’ (plural) life histories installed with a blood transfusion. The aftereffects can be debilitating and end in a miserable premature death (AIDS and hepatitis are high on the list of dangers.) Some try to avoid this by accepting blood only from people they think they know (not always a safe bet), but the Christian does not refuse blood for medical or safety reasons. It just happens to be another factor that shows his stand not to be irrational, but reasonable and well-considered, in addition to being obedient to God.

The medical world has finally learned, although it took considerable pressure to make them even look: managing care without blood transfusion is now the gold standard. It gives the best outcome for the greatest number. God’s wisdom is vindicated again. Loyalty to God and respect for his authority is always the best choice.

Legal systems are beginning to acknowledge the principle of autonomy, self-determination, the right of informed consent. If a person wants to deny himself what others judge to be the appropriate medical care, they are usually allowed that right. On the other hand, parents are not allowed full authority to decide medical treatment for their minor children. The judicial system believes, understandably so, that it is obligated to protect children from foolish or irrational parents. We have pointed out that electing non-blood medical care is quite rational, but in an urgent and emotionally charged setting cool reason does not always prevail; primal prejudices can cloud the view. We began this section with one prejudice the world considers a given: "Human life is the ultimate value, and must be preserved at any cost." Only fanatics believe otherwise, they think. Yet they turn around and lavish praise on the youth they send off to die violently in senseless conflicts. Who here really has a clear sense of right and wrong, of what is most important?

The Kingdom of God by its very nature implies an authority structure calling for some degree of organization and submission. Is the Kingdom entirely in heaven, or should there be an authority structure, a heirarchy, an organization of Christians on earth? The next chapter takes up this question.

Review Questions  |   Back to top

Deut 16:9-16
You should count off seven weeks. You should begin counting off seven weeks from the time you first put the sickle to the standing grain. Then you are to celebrate the Festival of Weeks to Jehovah your God with the voluntary offering from your hand, given in proportion to how Jehovah your God blesses you. You should rejoice before Jehovah your God, you and your son, your daughter, your male slave, your female slave, the Levite who is inside your cities, the foreign resident, the fatherless child, and the widow, who are in your midst, in the place that Jehovah your God chooses to have his name reside. Remember that you became a slave in Egypt, and observe and carry out these regulations. You should celebrate the Festival of Booths for seven days when you make an ingathering from your threshing floor and from your press for oil and wine. Rejoice during your festival, you and your son, your daughter, your male slave, your female slave, the Levite, the foreign resident, the fatherless child, and the widow, who are inside your cities. Seven days you will celebrate the festival to Jehovah your God in the place that Jehovah chooses, for Jehovah your God will bless all your produce and all that you do, and you will become nothing but joyful. Three times a year, all your males should appear before Jehovah your God in the place that he chooses: at the Festival of Unleavened Bread, the Festival of Weeks, and the Festival of Booths, and none of them should appear before Jehovah empty-handed.

Ps 31:5
Into your hand I entrust my spirit. You have redeemed me, O Jehovah the God of truth.

Titus 1:1-2
Paul, a slave of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ according to the faith of God’s chosen ones and the accurate knowledge of the truth which accords with godly devotion, based on a hope of the everlasting life that God, who cannot lie, promised long ago.

John 8:31, 32
Jesus went on to say to the Jews who had believed him: “If you remain in my word, you are really my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

John 4:23, 24
Nevertheless, the hour is coming, and it is now, when the true worshipers will worship the Father with spirit and truth, for indeed, the Father is looking for ones like these to worship him. God is a Spirit, and those worshiping him must worship with spirit and truth.

John 8:12
Then Jesus spoke again to them, saying: “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will by no means walk in darkness, but will possess the light of life.”

John 3:19-21
Now this is the basis for judgment, that the light has come into the world but men have loved the darkness rather than the light, for their works were wicked. For whoever practices wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, so that his works may not be reproved. But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that all may see that his works have been done in harmony with God.

Lev 23:4, 5
These are the seasonal festivals of Jehovah, holy conventions that you should proclaim at the times appointed for them: In the first month, on the fourteenth day of the month, between the two evenings* is the passover to Jehovah. . .

*tradition interprets this to mean the passover lamb was to be prepared starting between sunset (twilight) and full dark. The actual meal would follow.
In the lunar calender, each month began with a "new" (invisible or thinnest crescent) moon; the full moon would be on the 14th.

Luke 3:23
When Jesus began his work, he was about 30 years old . . .

Numbers 4:2, 3
A census should be taken of the sons of Kohath from among the sons of Levi, by their families and by their paternal houses, all those from 30 to 50 years old who are in the group assigned to work in the tent of meeting.

2 Corinthians 6:14-18
Do not become unevenly yoked with unbelievers. For what fellowship do righteousness and lawlessness have? Or what sharing does light have with darkness? Further, what harmony is there between Christ and Belial*? Or what does a believer share in common with an unbeliever? And what agreement does God's temple have with idols? For we are a temple of a living God; just as God said: “I will reside among them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people.” “‘Therefore, get out from among them, and separate yourselves,’” says Jehovah, “‘and quit touching the unclean thing, and I will take you in. And I will become a father to you, and you will become sons and daughters to me,’ says Jehovah, the Almighty.”

*meaning "worthless," referring to Satan.

Gal 4:8-11
When you did not know God, you slaved for those who are not really gods. But now that you have come to know God, or rather, have come to be known by God, how is it that you are turning back again to the weak and beggarly elementary things and want to slave for them over again? You are scrupulously observing days and months and seasons and years. I fear for you, that somehow I have wasted my efforts on you.

Colossians 3:16-17
Let the word of the Christ reside in you richly in all wisdom. Keep on teaching and encouraging one another with psalms, praises to God, spiritual songs sung with gratitude, singing in your hearts to Jehovah. Whatever it is that you do in word or in deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, thanking God the Father through him.

Gen 40:18-22
Then Joseph answered, “This is its interpretation: the three baskets are three days. Three days from now Pharaoh will behead you and will hang you on a stake; and the birds will eat your flesh from you.” Now the third day was Pharaoh’s birthday, and he made a feast for all his servants, and he brought out the chief cupbearer and the chief baker in the presence of his servants. And he restored the chief cupbearer to his post of cupbearer, and he continued to hand the cup to Pharaoh. But he hanged the chief baker, just as Joseph had interpretated to them.

Matthew 14:6-11
When Herod’s birthday was being celebrated, the daughter of Herodias danced for the occasion and pleased Herod so much that he promised with an oath to give her whatever she asked. Then she, at her mother’s prompting, said: “Give me here on a platter the head of John the Baptist.” Grieved though he was, the king out of regard for his oaths and for those dining with him commanded it to be given. So he sent and had John beheaded in the prison. His head was brought on a platter and given to the girl, and she brought it to her mother.

Job 34:11
For He will reward a man according to what he does, and bring upon him the just consequences of his ways.

Rev 22:12
Look! I am coming quickly, and the reward I give is with me, to repay to each one according to his work.

Philippians 3:8
What is more, I do indeed also consider all things to be loss relative to the excelling value of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have taken the loss of all things, and consider them as just a pile of trash, that I may gain Christ.

Matthew 6:19-21
Stop storing up for yourselves treasures on the earth, where moth and rust consume and where thieves break in and steal. Rather, store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consumes, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

2 Corinthians 7:8-11
Even if I saddened you by my letter, I do not regret it. Even if I did at first regret it, (seeing that the letter saddened you, though only for a little while,) now I rejoice, not because you were just saddened, but because you were saddened into repenting. For you were saddened in a godly way, so that you suffered no harm because of us. For sadness in a godly way produces repentance that leads to salvation, leaving no regret; but the sadness of the world produces death. For see what a great earnestness your being saddened in a godly way produced in you, yes, clearing of yourselves, yes, indignation, yes, fear, yes, yearning, yes, zeal, yes, righting of the wrong! In every respect you demonstrated yourselves to be pure in this matter.

Micah 4:1-4
In the final part of the days, the mountain of the house of Jehovah will become firmly established above the top of the mountains, and it will be raised up above the hills, and to it peoples will stream. And many nations will go and say: “Come, let us go up to the mountain of Jehovah and to the house of the God of Jacob. He will instruct us about his ways, and we will walk in his paths.” For law will go out of Zion, and the word of Jehovah out of Jerusalem. He will render judgment among many peoples and set matters straight respecting mighty nations far away. They will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning shears. Nation will not lift up sword against nation, nor will they learn war anymore. They will sit, each one under his vine and under his fig tree, and no one will make them afraid, for the mouth of Jehovah of armies has spoken.

1 Kings 11:4-11
In Solomon's old age, his wives inclined his heart to follow other gods, and his heart was not complete with Jehovah his God like the heart of David his father. And Solomon followed after Ashtoreth, the goddess of the Sidonians, and Milcom, the disgusting god of the Ammonites. And Solomon did what was bad in the eyes of Jehovah, and he did not follow Jehovah completely as David his father had done. It was then that Solomon built a high place to Chemosh, the disgusting god of Moab, on the mountain in front of Jerusalem and to Molech, the disgusting god of the Ammonites. That was what he did for all his foreign wives who were making sacrificial smoke and sacrificing to their gods. Jehovah became furious at Solomon, because his heart had inclined away from Jehovah the God of Israel, who had appeared to him twice and had warned him about this very thing, that he should not go after other gods. But he did not obey what Jehovah had commanded. Jehovah now said to Solomon: “Because you have done this and you have not kept my covenant and my statutes as I commanded you, I will surely rip the kingdom away from you, and I will give it to one of your servants.”

John 17:16, 17
They are no part of the world, just as I am no part of the world. Set them apart as holy them by means of the truth; your word is truth.

1 Cor 10:18-22
Look at Israel in the fleshly sense: Are not those who eat the sacrifices sharers with the altar? What, then, am I saying? That what is sacrificed to an idol is anything, or that an idol is anything? No; but I say that what the nations sacrifice, they sacrifice to demons and not to God; and I do not want you to become sharers with the demons. You cannot be drinking the cup of Jehovah and the cup of demons; you cannot be partaking of “the table of Jehovah” and the table of demons. Or “are we inciting Jehovah to jealousy”? We are not stronger than he is, are we?

1 Pet 1:14-16
As obedient children, stop being shaped by the desires you once had in your ignorance, but like the Holy One who called you, become holy yourselves in all your conduct, for it is written: “You must be holy, because I am holy.”

Exodus 32:1-35
Meanwhile, the people saw that Moses was taking a long time coming down from the mountain. So the people gathered around Aaron and said to him: “Get up, make for us a god who will go ahead of us, because we do not know what has happened to this Moses, the man who led us up out of the land of Egypt.” At this Aaron said to them: “Take the gold earrings from the ears of your wives, your sons, and your daughters and bring them to me.” So all the people began taking off the gold earrings that were in their ears and bringing them to Aaron. Then he took the gold from them, and he* formed it with an engraving tool and made it into a statue of a calf. And they began to say: “This is your God, O Israel, who led you up out of the land of Egypt.” When Aaron saw this, he built an altar before it. Then Aaron called out: “There is a festival to Jehovah tomorrow.” So they got up early on the next day and began offering up burnt offerings and presenting communion-meal sacrifices. After that the people sat down to eat and drink. Then they got up to have a good time. Jehovah now said to Moses: “Go, descend, because your people, whom you led up out of the land of Egypt, have corrupted themselves. They have quickly deviated from the way I commanded them to go. They have made for themselves a statue of a calf, and they are bowing down to it and sacrificing to it and saying, ‘This is your God, O Israel, who led you up out of the land of Egypt.’” Jehovah went on to say to Moses: “I have seen that this is an obstinate people. So now step aside, and I will exterminate them in my burning anger, and let me make a great nation from you instead.” Then Moses appealed to Jehovah his God and said: “Why, O Jehovah, should you turn your burning anger against your people after bringing them out of the land of Egypt with great power and with a mighty hand? Why should the Egyptians say, ‘He had evil intentions when he led them out. He wanted to kill them in the mountains and exterminate them from the surface of the earth’? Turn from your burning anger and reconsider your decision to bring this calamity on your people. Remember your servants Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, to whom you swore by yourself and said: ‘I will multiply your offspring like the stars of the heavens, and I will give all this land that I have designated to your offspring, so that they may take it as a permanent possession.&rsquo”; So Jehovah began to reconsider the calamity that he had spoken of bringing on his people. Moses then turned and went down from the mountain with the two tablets of the Testimony in his hand. The tablets were inscribed on both sides; they were written on the front and on the back. The tablets were the workmanship of God, and the writing was the writing of God engraved on the tablets. When Joshua began to hear the noise of the people shouting, he said to Moses: “There is the sound of battle in the camp!” But Moses said: “No, what I hear is not the sound of singing over a victory, nor the sound of wailing over a defeat; it is another kind of singing.” As soon as Moses got near the camp and saw the calf and the dances, his anger began to blaze, and he threw the tablets from his hands and shattered them at the foot of the mountain. He took the calf that they had made and he burned it with fire and crushed it into powder; then he scattered it on the water and made the Israelites drink it. And Moses said to Aaron: “What did this people do to you that you have brought a great sin upon them?” Aaron replied: “Do not be enraged, my lord. You well know that the people are inclined to do evil. So they said to me, ‘Make for us a god who will go ahead of us, for we do not know what has happened to this Moses, the man who led us up out of the land of Egypt.’ So I said to them, ‘Whoever has any gold must take it off and give it to me.’ Then I threw it into the fire and out came this calf.” Moses saw that the people were unrestrained, for Aaron had let them go unrestrained, so that they were a disgrace before their opposers. Then Moses took his position in the gate of the camp and said: “Who is on Jehovah's side? Come to me!” And all the Levites gathered around him. He now said to them: “This is what Jehovah the God of Israel has said, ‘Each of you must fasten on his sword and pass through all the camp from gate to gate, killing his brother, his neighbor, and his close companion.’” The Levites did what Moses said. So about 3,000** men were killed on that day. Then Moses said: “Set yourselves apart for Jehovah today, for each of you has gone against his own son and his own brother; today he will give you a blessing.” On the very next day, Moses said to the people: “You committed a very great sin, and now I will go up to Jehovah to see if I can make amends for your sin.” So Moses returned to Jehovah and said: “What a great sin this people has committed! They made themselves a god of gold! But now if you are willing, pardon their sin; if not, please wipe me out from your book that you have written”. However, Jehovah said to Moses: “The one who has sinned against me, I will wipe him out of my book. Go now, lead the people to the place about which I have spoken to you. Look! My angel will go ahead of you, and on the day when I make an accounting, I will bring punishment on them for their sin.” Then Jehovah began plaguing the people because they had made the calf, the one that Aaron had made.

*"he", more likely he had it done by a craftsman. In any case his excuse when confronted by his brother Moses was less than honest.
**There were hundreds of thousands there, so such a small death toll means that only the ringleaders were dispatched, except for weak-willed Aaron, who was apparently forgiven for yielding to their demands. See Numbers 1:1, 2, 46.

James 1:17 Every good gift and every perfect present is from above, coming down from the Father of the celestial lights, who does not shift or vary like the moving of shadows.

Rom 12:2, 3
Quit being shaped by this system of things, but be transformed by making your mind over, so that you may prove to yourselves the good and acceptable and perfect will of God. For through the undeserved kindness given to me I tell everyone there among you not to think more of himself than it is necessary to think; but to think so as to have a sound mind, each one as God has given to him a measure of faith.

1 Cor 4:9-13
It seems to me that God has put us the apostles last on exhibition as men condemned to death, because we have become a theatrical spectacle to the world, and to angels, and to men. We are fools because of Christ, but you are discreet in Christ; we are weak, but you are strong; you are held in honor, but we in dishonor. Down to this very hour we continue to hunger and thirst and to be poorly clothed and to be beaten and to be homeless and to toil, working with our own hands. When insulted, we bless; when persecuted, we patiently endure; when slandered, we answer mildly; we have become as the refuse of the world, the offscouring of all things, until now.

Note how often God repeats himself: three times in this passage alone. He is deadly serious about this; we dare not take it lightly. Here are the other references:

Lev 7:26, 27
You must not eat any blood in any places where you dwell, whether that of birds or that of animals. Anyone who eats any blood, that soul must be cut off from his people.

Deuteronomy 12:16
But you must not eat the blood. You should pour it out on the ground like water.

Deuteronomy 12:23-24
Just be firmly resolved not to eat the blood, because the blood is the soul [or, the life] and you must not eat the soul [the life] with the flesh. You must not eat it. You should pour it out upon the ground like water.

Deuteronomy 15:23
But you must not eat its blood. Onto the ground you should pour it out like water.

The first mention of blood in scripture was when God said to Cain, "Listen! Your brother's blood is crying out to me from the ground." So from the beginning, God regarded blood as emblematic of life.

Heb 9:22
According to the Law nearly all things are cleansed with blood, and unless blood is poured out no forgiveness takes place.

Matt 20:28
Just as the Son of man came, not to be ministered to, but to minister and to give his life [lit., "soul"] as a ransom in exchange for many.

Hebrews 9:11-14
However, when Christ came as a high priest of the good things that have already come, went through a greater and more perfect tent not made with hands, that is, not of this creation. He entered into the holy place, not with the blood of goats and of young bulls, but with his own blood, once for all time, and obtained an everlasting deliverance for us. For if the blood of goats and of bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkled on those who have been defiled sanctifies for the cleansing of the flesh, how much more will the blood of the Christ, who through an everlasting spirit offered himself without blemish to God, cleanse our consciences from dead works so that we may render sacred service to the living God?

Hebrews 10:1-4
For since the Law has a shadow of the good things to come, but not the very substance of the things, it can never, by the same sacrifices that are offered continually year after year, make those who approach perfect. Otherwise, would not the sacrifices have stopped being offered, because those rendering sacred service once cleansed would have no consciousness of sins anymore? On the contrary, these sacrifices are a reminder of sins year after year, for it is not possible for the blood of bulls and of goats to take sins away.

1 Pet 1:14-19
As obedient children, quit being shaped by the desires you once had in your ignorance, but like the Holy One who called you, become holy yourselves in all your conduct, for it is written: “You must be holy, because I am holy.” And if you are calling on the Father who judges impartially according to each one’s work, conduct yourselves with fear during the time of your temporary residence [in this world]. For you know that it was not with corruptible things, with silver or gold, that you were set free from your futile way of life passed down to you from your forefathers. But it was with precious blood, like that of an unblemished and spotless lamb, that of Christ himself.

Romans 14:8
If we live, we live to Jehovah, and if we die, we die to Jehovah. So both if we live and if we die, we belong to Jehovah.

Acts 15:1-29
Now some men came down from Judea and began to teach the brothers: “Unless you get circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved.” But after quite a bit of dissension and disputing by Paul and Barnabas with them, it was arranged for Paul, Barnabas, and some of the others to go up to the apostles and elders in Jerusalem regarding this issue. So after being escorted partway by the congregation, these men continued on through both Phoenicia and Samaria, relating in detail the conversion of people of the nations and bringing great joy to all the brothers. On arriving in Jerusalem, they were kindly received by the congregation and the apostles and the elders, and they related the many things God had done by means of them. But some of those of the sect of the Pharisees who had become believers stood up from their seats and said: “It is necessary to circumcise them and command them to observe the Law of Moses”. So the apostles and the elders gathered together to look into this matter. After much intense discussion had taken place, Peter rose and said to them: “Men, brothers, you well know that from early days God made the choice among you that through my mouth people of the nations should hear the word of the good news and believe. And God, who knows the heart, bore witness by giving them the holy spirit, just as he did to us also. And he made no distinction at all between us and them, but purified their hearts by faith. So why are you now making a test of God by imposing on the neck of the disciples a yoke that neither our forefathers nor we were capable of bearing? On the contrary, we have faith that we are saved through the undeserved kindness of the Lord Jesus in the same way that they are.” At that the entire group became silent, and they began to listen to Barnabas and Paul relate the many signs and wonders that God had done through them among the nations. After they finished speaking, James replied: “Men, brothers, hear me. Symeon has related thoroughly how God for the first time turned his attention to the nations to take out of them a people for his name. And with this the words of the Prophets agree, just as it is written: ‘After these things I will return and raise up again the tent of David that is fallen down; I will rebuild its ruins and restore it, so that the men who remain may earnestly seek Jehovah, together with people of all the nations, people who are called by my name, says Jehovah, who is doing these things, known from of old.’ Therefore, my decision is not to trouble those from the nations who are turning to God, but to write them to abstain from things polluted by idols, from sexual immorality, from what is strangled, and from blood. For from ancient times Moses has had those who preach him in city after city, because he is read aloud in the synagogues on every sabbath.” Then the apostles and the elders, together with the whole congregation, decided to send chosen men from among them to Antioch, along with Paul and Barnabas; they sent Judas who was called Barsabbas and Silas, who were leading men among the brothers. They wrote this and sent it through them: “The apostles and the elders, your brothers, to those brothers in Antioch, Syria, and Cilicia who are from the nations: Greetings! Since we have heard that some went out from among us and caused you trouble with what they have said, trying to subvert you, although we did not give them any instructions, we have come to a unanimous decision to choose men to send to you together with our beloved Barnabas and Paul, men who have given up their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. We are therefore sending Judas and Silas, so that they also may report the same things by word of mouth. For the holy spirit and we ourselves have favored adding no further burden to you except these necessary things: to keep abstaining from things sacrificed to idols, from blood, from what is strangled, and from sexual immorality. If you carefully keep yourselves from these things, you will prosper. Good health to you!”

Romans 2:28, 29
For he is not a Jew who is one on the outside, nor is circumcision something on the outside, upon the flesh. He is a Jew who is one on the inside, and his circumcision is that of the heart by spirit and not by a written code. That person's praise comes from God, not from people.

Matthew 23:15, 23
Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! because you travel over sea and dry land to make one proselyte, and when he becomes one you make him a subject for Gehenna twice as much so as yourselves. 23 Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! because you give the tenth of the mint and the dill and the cumin, but you have disregarded the weightier matters of the Law, namely, justice and mercy and faithfulness. These things it was binding to do, yet not to disregard the other things.

Matthew 12:1-14
At that time Jesus went through the grainfields on the Sabbath. His disciples got hungry and started to pluck heads of grain and to eat. At seeing this, the Pharisees said to him: “Look! Your disciples are doing what is not lawful to do on the Sabbath.” He said to them: “Have you not read what David did when he and the men with him were hungry? How he entered into the house of God and they ate the loaves of presentation, something that it was not lawful for him or those with him to eat, but for the priests only? Or have you not read in the Law that on the Sabbaths the priests in the temple break the Sabbath [by doing temple work] and continue guiltless? But I tell you that something greater than the temple is here. However, if you had understood what this means, ‘I want mercy and not sacrifice,’ you would not have condemned the guiltless ones. For the Son of man is Lord of the Sabbath.” After departing from that place, he went into their synagogue, and look! there was a man with a withered hand! So they asked him, “Is it lawful to cure on the Sabbath?” so that they might accuse him. He said to them: “If you have one sheep and that sheep falls into a pit on the Sabbath, is there a man among you who will not grab hold of it and lift it out? How much more valuable is a man than a sheep! So it is lawful to do a fine thing on the Sabbath.” Then he said to the man: “Stretch out your hand.” And he stretched it out, and it was restored sound like the other hand. But the Pharisees went out and conspired against him to kill him.

What's wrong with Christmas?

What popular customs offend God? Why?

Why did God forbid eating blood? How do we respect that today?

How do we prove our loyalty to God's Kingdom personally?

Restore Scripture View

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An editorial in 2003 by Cal Thomas is informative: "I'm not sure it's worth keeping Christmas anymore. . . the original cast of Jesus, Mary and Joseph . . . have been replaced by the road show of reindeer, winter scenes, elves and the God substitute, Santa Claus, who serves as a front for merchants seeking to play on the guilt some parents bear for ignoring their kids the rest of the year. . . Why participate any longer in this charade where the focal point of worship has shifted from a babe in a manger to a babe in the Victoria's Secret window?"

After suggesting spending the holiday away from the hectic materialistic bacchanalia at the malls, he continued, "It's instructive how just one season away from lusting after material things can break the habit. It's something like liberation from an addiction . . . Being away from it can cause one to realize the behavior is neither missed nor needed for fulfillment and enjoyment." Although he felt that there was a "true Christmas" that could be rediscovered, in actual fact true Christians have the spiritual vision to see Christmas as a perversion of worship at its core, and have nothing to do with it.

Here is an interesting timeline of the adoption of Christmas by the church. (pdf reader required.)
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Springtime was sacred to the worshipers of Astarte. This goddess of fertility and war had an insatiable thirst for blood and immoral sex. Her statues show her as very voluptuous, with exaggerated sex organs, or with an egg in her hand and a rabbit at her side. Sacred prostitution was part of her cult. In Canaanite mythology she was the consort of Baal. Her worshippers "honored" her with drunken sex orgies, believing that their promiscuous debauchery would stimulate the springtime awakening and mating of Baal with his wife, and hence the return of life to the land. —condensed from an encyclopedia article.

Eos or Eostre was the goddess of the dawn or awakening, really much the same as Astarte, who was also "met" at dawn. As you can see, the church didn't even bother to rename the pagan festival. It just got bent over time into "Easter."

The Law (capital "L") means the divine code of over 600 decrees given to Israel. Otherwise "law" (no capital) means any rule or command or body thereof.

You can, of course, give the gift of life, in many ways; just not by sharing your blood.

Getting your own blood is not medically problematic, if it is not contaminated or defective. One could also reason that, as it represents your own life, which you still possess, you do not lose your right to it simply because it is out of your body. It is not as if God wants to take your life, so he is unlikely to judge you a thief for putting it back where it belongs— into your veins (not, however, into your stomach, which would disrespect the purpose of blood). Some reason that if the blood stops moving, they lose their right to it, so they request their salvaged blood be continually re-infused during surgery. The underlying principle of life-ownership does not cover that detail, so that is actually reasoning beyond the divine law; there is room there for difference of opinion.

About 40 to 50 is normal, although 30 is within the bell curve of adequate. Also measured in grams per deciliter, with 14 being normal, 10 the traditional trigger for a transfusion, but a person can be conscious and responsive down to about 3 or less.

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Until this discovery, often it was the doctor's stubborn refusal to give any treatment at all without blood, if in his opinion the hct was "too low," that led to the victim's death—which the doctor and the newspapers of course blamed on the stubborn patient, not on the stubborn doctor. Unfortunately, there are still some stubborn, arrogant doctors, but many more have accepted improving medical knowledge.