Uncovering the Origins of Mardi Gras and Other ‘Christian’ Festivals

Uncovering the Origins of Mardi Gras and Other ‘Christian’ Festivals

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Millions have once again thrown aside their inhibitions and partied till they dropped in the annual frenzy of carnality before the onset of the Christian season of Lent. What has all this got to do with religion?

From Rio to Berlin, from Turin to Trinidad, from Cologne to New Orleans, crowds filled the city streets in the annual bacchanal that precedes the Catholic holiday known as Ash Wednesday. Increasingly, these celebrations are being taken on by the British and American people as annual celebrations in a vein once foreign to the English-speaking peoples.

What does all this annual expression of unbridled hedonism have to do with the practice of pure religion?

Well, to understand that, we need to go back in history to the beginning of religion as recorded in both secular and biblical history.

The common view is that Carnival, or Mardi Gras, is, at its origin, a Christian festival that precedes the season of Lent, itself also assumed to be of Christian origin. Carnival traditionally has been seen as the last opportunity to let off steam and indulge the flesh before the denial that is supposed to accompany Lent, the 40-day period that precedes Easter, another annual festival that is assumed to have Christian origins.

But what are the facts?

We assume so much as we grow up, acculturated into an already established society that educates us into the common view of the day. Too often we accept the customs and practices of our parents—and their parents, as well as the generations that preceded them—without question. Yet honest seekers of truth will be led at some point to question the basis of society’s beliefs.

That is the quest of the Trumpet.

The Trumpet strives to stimulate the reader into questioning and proving, beyond any doubt, the realities that underpin our beliefs, and, in the process, prove just what is ultimate reality—the plain, unadulterated truth.

Take Carnival for instance. Its etymology suggests two sources. One suggests carne vale, from the Latin “farewell meat,” as the source. This would appear to be quite a legitimate meaning of the term, given that the onset of Carnival signals the last debauch prior to the fasting at Lent. However, there is another more ancient derivation for Carnival suggested in some sources, the Latin carnous navilus, being a term describing the naval vessel that bore the Teutonic god of the North from his northern home southward to join in the annual pagan winter festivities.

Mardi Gras, synonymous with the Carnival preceding Lent, translated from the French, literally means “fat Tuesday.” This is the final day prior to Ash Wednesday on the Roman Catholic calendar (Shrove Tuesday on the Anglican calendar), the Tuesday before Lent begins. Lent is a tradition in the Roman, Anglican and Orthodox versions of the Christian religion.

Ancient history teaches us that this religion began at Babylon, developed in Egypt, and passed its traditions down to the Greeks and Romans. These civilizations had one thing in common. The highlights of the year on the religious calendar tended to revolve around the winter, signifying the cessation of agrarian productivity and the anticipation of spring, celebrating the renewal of fertility. The pagans created annual rites and festivals around these seasons. Rome adopted and promoted the most widely practiced of these pagan festivals and spread their practice throughout its empire under its own names. Thus the celebrations around the winter solstice became the Saturnalia and Brumalia festivals of winter, celebrated in December. The pre-spring festivals at the onset of the final lean month of winter led into the spring festival of Ishtar in Babylon, or Osiris in Egypt, signaling new birth. In between was the “love-fest” of Lupercalia.

When the Roman Catholic Church began to spread its influence throughout the world, it found that, wherever it went, the natives hung on tenaciously to these annual pagan festivals. So the church simply compromised. Rather than force Catholic dogma on the local populations, it simply “Christianized” the pagan festivals enjoyed by the masses. Thus Saturnalia and Brumalia became Christmas, merging with the Catholic teaching of the nativity. The spring festivals, retaining the name “Easter” after the pagan fertility godess Ishtar, merged with the Roman church’s interpretation of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. In between was Carnival, leading into Mardi Gras, out of which the Vatican created the season of Lent, leading to Easter, by imposing its own interpretation of Christ’s 40-days’ total fast in the wilderness by setting a time for the denial of meat in the 40 days leading up to its Easter celebration. In between Carnival and Easter, Lupercalia became catholicized into St. Valentine’s Day.

Following the Protestant Reformation, the various Protestant denominations that broke away from governance by Rome simply carried on celebrating the same seasons as the Roman church. One of the surprising things about all this is that those who say they base their religion on the Bible, the fundamentalists, can find no proof as to the endorsement of the pagan seasons that they still observe in the very Bible that they claim to follow, least of all in the life they claim to emulate, that of Jesus Christ Himself!

Christ, and the apostles who were personally taught the original Christian religion by Him, kept a demonstrably different set of seasons to that which the religion that carries His name—Christianity in all its myriad forms—does today. Check the Scriptures. Christ kept Passover, the Days of Unleavened Bread and the feast of Pentecost in spring. In the autumn, He and the original apostles, plus the disciples of Christ who formed the first era of the true Church, celebrated the Feast of Tabernacles. It was on the Last Great Day of that feast that Christ stood up and issued His great challenge to any who would seek to live the way of life He came to initialize on Earth: “In the last day of the feast, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink” (John 7:37).

Nowhere will you find in the canonized Word of God any account of Christ or His disciples celebrating any other feasts at any other time of the year than the original feasts of God laid down by statute in the book of the law by the ancient patriarch following the delivery of God’s law to the Israelites. Those holy days were commanded by God to be kept by the Israelites forever!

But, true to form, the Israelites simply rebelled and took up with the old pagan customs that surrounding nations had received from the original source in Babylon.

Now what about this season of Lent that precedes Easter? The Catholic Encyclopedia states: “The real aim of Lent is, above all else, to prepare men for the celebration of the death and resurrection of Christ …. One can effectively relive the mystery only with purified mind and heart. The purpose of Lent is to provide that purification by weaning men from sin and selfishness through self-denial and prayer, by creating in them the desire to do God’s will and to make His Kingdom come by making it come first of all in their hearts.”

Yet the historian Alexander Hislop correctly states, “The festival, of which we read in church history, under the name of Easter, in the third and fourth centuries, was quite a different festival from that now observed in the Romish church, and at that time was not known by any such name as Easter …. That festival [Passover] was not idolatrous, and it was preceded by no Lent. ‘It ought to be known,’ said Cassianus, the monk of Marseilles, writing in the fifth century, and contrasting the primitive [New Testament] Church with the church of his day, ‘that the observance of the 40 days had no existence, so long as the perfection of that primitive Church remained inviolate’” (The Two Babylons). For a thorough study on this subject, read our book Pagan Holidays—or God’s Holy Days—Which?

Then there is Mardi Gras.

Mardi Gras, once primarily a European festival, was transported by European immigrants to their new homes in the New World. It was a festival once largely foreign to the Anglo-Saxon nations which has gained rapid and increasing popularity within those societies over the past half-century. In its modern form, Mardi Gras has increasingly become a celebration of lechery and downright debauchery. Marrying the ancient Babylonish traditions with teachings of the Church of Rome and traditional rites from African sources, Mardi Gras in Rio De Janeiro is the best known of Mardi Gras celebrations, with tens of thousands attracted to this great bacchanal annually. Another is Mardi Gras in Trinidad, where tourists from Canada, the U.S., Britain and other parts of Europe, the Caribbean and even India flock each year to take part as participant or spectator. Cologne is the center of the largest float-filled parade in Europe during Mardi Gras. In Germany the main centers for celebration are in the Rhineland. New Orleans hosts perhaps the most famous Mardi Gras in the U.S., importing a mix of Catholic French and tribal African traditions into its celebration. But by far the most extreme version of this festival of hedonism is that in Sydney, Australia.

Timed to fall immediately after Mardi Gras celebrations in the Northern Hemisphere, the Sydney Mardi Gras is infamous as much for its beginnings as for its current-day program of events. This major “cultural” event on the Australian social calendar evolved out of the desire of the homosexual and lesbian community to publicize their drive for community acceptance. It grew initially out of a street march by homosexuals in Sydney in 1978, which ended with police intervention. It then mushroomed in leaps and bounds following various changes in legislation as community mores lost their bearings and, under a barrage of “celebrity” endorsements, became a big money spinner for Australian business. The Sydney Mardi Gras became a month-long bash through the month of February. It has now reached the point where tens of thousands travel from all points of the globe to what is billed as the world’s biggest homosexual and lesbian festival. Now, fed by government grants and support from a business community hungry for the “pink dollar” (pink being the color adopted by the homosexual community to promote its cause), the annual festival of homosexual and lesbian debauchery is big business in Australia.

So what, in reality, does the carnality of Carnival and Mardi Gras have to do with true religion, especially with Christianity?

Well, plain and simple, it was a religious practice, born of pagan religion, adopted by the Church of Rome, transported throughout the world by Roman Catholicism and its daughter religions to become embedded as part of local native culture, merging pagan practices with a perverted interpretation of Scripture.

In its 21st-century guise, Carnival and Mardi Gras have reverted powerfully, in practice, to a celebration of the perverse pagan behavior of primitive societies with lechery, debauchery, and perverted practices given full vent in an atmosphere of gay abandon, encouraged by local governments and businesses lacking any hold on those virtues that were once valued by Western civilization in its ascent, in particular at its apogee under the Anglo-Saxon nations.

The increasing exploitation of Carnival and Mardi Gras as an outlet for the expression of uncivilized behavior within English-speaking nations in particular is simply a massive sign of the rapid decline of the greatest of nations that emerged out of the great battles for freedom fought by the English-speaking peoples from the time of Elizabeth i to the consummation of the Cold War.

When the freedoms so hard-won in the interests of God, king and country, for the protection of hearth and home and a civilized, morally strong and virtuous society, become so perverted in law that they are able to be used by the masses to proudly celebrate the most perverse of practices, practices that tear at the very heart and core of marriage and the family, and when those practices are endorsed by government, by the law and business in general, our society is simply doomed for the dung heap of history.

Read our booklet No Freedom Without Law for deeper insight on this subject.

Britain: Average Family £1,300 Short Each Year

Britain: Average Family £1,300 Short Each Year

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The average annual income for families in Britain has fallen by ₤1,300 (us$2,500), says a report published Wednesday. According to the Times, the report shows “that the rising tax burden under Gordon Brown and the high cost of mortgages and council tax have left Britain’s middle earners severely squeezed.”

According to the report’s author, Charlie Elphicke,

The combination of stagnating earnings, sharp increases in tax, excessive debt, rising effective interest rates and growing household running costs means that British households are more vulnerable to, and less prepared for, any economic downturn. The government’s increases in taxation and the availability until recently of easy credit is a potentially toxic mixture.

Perhaps the most disturbing aspect of the report, though, is that it highlights how unprepared Britain is for an economic downturn. According to the Times:

The situation will probably get worse because of the credit crisis and further increases in tax as Alistair Darling, the chancellor, tries to get to grips with the government’s ballooning budget deficit.Two other leading think tanks, the Institute for Fiscal Studies (ifs) and the National Institute of Economic and Social Research (niesr), warned last week that taxes would need to rise by between £8 billion and £9 billion if the government is to meet its own fiscal rules. Darling will unveil his budget on March 12.”Because of the government’s current political difficulties, we do not expect to see a significant fiscal tightening in this year’s budget,” said Robert Chote, director of the ifs. “The government is likely to argue that further bad news on the public finances will be only temporary and that fiscal policy should support monetary policy as the economy slows this year.”However, recent experience suggests that ‘temporary’ problems in the financial sector can have a bigger and more persistent effect on the public finances than the Treasury initially expects.” …Both groups think that while Darling will put off significant tax hikes for now, the tax burden will eventually have to rise.

Although the government may put off tax increases for now, it only delays the day of reckoning. In the long run it will actually worsen public finances by increasing the national debt burden and upping debt payments.

Britain has been living beyond its means both nationally and individually, and as the Times indicates, the financial stability of the average Briton has rapidly eroded. Trends indicate there is much worse to come. It is not just rising taxes and housing costs that are ripping pocketbooks, it is escalating food, fuel and public transportation costs as well.

But perhaps most ominous of all is the fact that the deteriorating financial condition of British households occurred during a period of general economic growth. It used to be that family finances improved during economic expansions and shrunk only during slowdowns.

With recession looming and the good times over, things may be about to get much more difficult for the average taxpayer. “Squeezed” will probably be an understatement.

Lisbon Treaty: Another Step Forward

Lisbon Treaty: Another Step Forward

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Europe is one country closer to seeing EU dogma become the law of the land. More nations look ready to follow—as long as voters can be kept out of the way.

The Lisbon Treaty took another step toward becoming the law of Europe as Romanian President Traian Basescu signed the document earlier today. The text was ratified in the Romanian parliament on Monday virtually unanimously.

The treaty is controversial among many in Europe, particularly in Britain, because it is viewed as an undercover European constitution that cedes important sovereign powers to Brussels.

After Romanian mps voted 387-to-1 to ratify the treaty, the country’s foreign ministry said the motion “confirms Romania’s commitment to advancing the European project.”

Brussels voiced its satisfaction over the development, with European Commission President José Manuel Barroso saying he appreciated “the commitment given to early approval of the treaty by both the Romanian government and parliament” and described the decision as “an important step towards our objective of a new treaty in force by Jan. 1, 2009.”

Barroso also said he hoped other states would “quickly follow the lead given by the four countries that have now approved the treaty.” Hungary, Slovenia and Malta preceded Romania in ratifying the treaty by parliamentary vote.

Barroso likely had France in mind, which, along with Slovakia, is slated to begin the ratification process later this week.

Paris is already moving in that direction. On Monday the legislature voted to clear the way for ratification to begin. This required changing France’s constitution, which contained a reference to the failed EU constitution. Legislators voted by a three-quarters majority to delete the citation.

The EU constitution failed dramatically in France in 2005 when it was put to a democratic referendum.

Like the failed constitution, the Lisbon Treaty establishes a new EU presidency and a new European foreign-policy chief. It also establishes citizens of member states as EU citizens, and requires obedience to EU laws and duties above those of one’s own nation.

However, this time around, EU governments are seeking to avoid putting the new treaty to the people and keep ratification exclusively inside the halls of government.

The cloaked constitution faces a long road ahead, as the Union’s 27 member states must each ratify the document. But if wary citizens and democratic referenda are kept out of the mix, Lisbon could conceivably become law right on schedule: Jan. 1, 2009.

For more on this subject, read “Ten Things You Might Not Know About the Lisbon Treaty.”

India’s Nano Means Higher Oil Prices

India’s Nano Means Higher Oil Prices

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India’s new ultra-cheap car may make car ownership possible for 1 billion people, and fuel a resource war.

When 1 billion people are suddenly able to afford a car, you know there have to be some ramifications. While much of the media is fixated on global warming and other environmental pollution issues, the more imminent result—one that will change the way of life in America forever—is the coming surge in oil demand.

Recently introduced by Tata, India’s corporate conglomerate, the Nano costs just $2,500, which means that a huge proportion of middle-class Indians, many who up until now could only afford motorbikes with wife and kids stacked on the back, will be able to own a car for the first time.

Analysts predict the 33-horsepower Nano, with top speeds of 105 km/h and room for five, will be flying off dealer lots.

“The introduction of the Nano is one of the classic steps in the traditional pattern of economic development,” says broadcast journalist Deirdre McMurdy. “As countries like India and China continue to post strong economic growth, individuals begin to prosper and the demand for consumer goods—like cars—begins to take shape.”

In the United States, there are approximately 765 motor vehicles per 1,000 people. Japan boasts 543 motor vehicles per 1,000 people. India has a comparatively tiny 12 per 1,000 people.

If India were to equal the number of vehicles that America has on a per capita basis, it would add approximately 750 million more vehicles to the global vehicle pool. That’s one big pile of steel, rubber, and plastic, and an equally massive amount of new fuel demand.

Global oil production is currently struggling to keep up with global demand, and that’s with oil that traded at $100 per barrel not long ago

Where is all the extra oil going to come from?

The global competition for resources is continuing to heat up.

The major events of history have often been driven by the quest for natural resources. Spain approved Christopher Columbus’s mission to the Americas because of the many goods available in the West Indies that could not be found in Western Europe. The Middle East has frequently held the world’s attention because it possesses vast amounts of oil. In World War ii, the Axis powers’ invasions were often motivated by the hunt for resources, both natural and economic.

In fact, many of the wars throughout time have been sparked by the quest for resources abroad not available at home.

Is the Nano a harbinger of a future resource war?

For more information on what nations will rule victorious in the coming war over resources, read “The Battle Ground,” “Stoking the Engines of Empires,” and “Dependence on Foreign Resources Threatens U.S.

Kenya: The Unseen Danger in Political Violence

Kenya: The Unseen Danger in Political Violence

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The rioting and attacks gripping Kenya could have long-term consequences the participants aren’t thinking about.

The blood of 25 fresh corpses a day soaks into Kenya’s soil. Since a fraudulent election on December 27, violent protests and deadly attacks have forced over 300,000 Kenyans from their homes and ruined the national economy.

Yesterday the death toll in the violence passed 1,000 people. Both sides in the conflict are forming militias, possibly aided by organized crime. Two opposition lawmakers have been assassinated. In the name of political freedom, Kenyans are burning each other’s businesses and hacking each other to death with machetes.

“Kibaki’s government will never work in Kenya,” said one protester of the president he now views as illegitimate. “We will paralyze them even if they kill our leaders.”

Hope for a return to normalcy is evaporating with the smoke rising from the Kenyan landscape.

Anxious outsiders are threatening to “impose a solution.”

Therein lies a critical lesson. It is a lesson that hits far closer to home than the affluent, complacent West would think.

In other recent African trouble spots, slow Western reaction enabled problems to balloon into catastrophes. Think Rwanda, Congo, Darfur. In Kenya, the West may swoop in quicker not only to secure a more favorable judgment from history, but also because Kenya is far more economically important than those other areas.

Long viewed as an oasis of relative stability in East Africa, Kenya has courted significant foreign investment and positioned itself as a hub for trade, finance and oil exploration in the region. The recent chaos has disrupted trade routes into Sudan, Uganda, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Left unchecked, it could decimate those economies as well as Kenya’s own. Many foreign nations are vested in preventing such fallout.

Consider this, however. If other nations intervene, it will mean adding Kenya to an already lengthy African to-do list. The United Nations’ peacekeeping forces are crawling all over Kenya’s troubled neighborhood. The UN sponsors a remarkable eight missions in Africa, and the growing numbers of blue helmets will soon reach record numbers. Africa presently demands the attention of two thirds of all UN forces in the world.

And these struggles won’t simmer down anytime soon. Political instability and tribal conflict seem to be spreading across Africa like cancer, generating fresh supplies of migrants, refugees and dead bodies on what seems like a monthly basis. The Darfur disaster, despite the presence of nearly 20,000 peacekeepers, has spilled into neighboring nations, aggravating existing troubles in Somalia. Over 200,000 Sudanese refugees have also fled into Chad and the Central African Republic; the resulting violence has opened the door for the European Union to start building a 3,700-member peacekeeping force in those two nations. Foreign peacekeepers also find themselves trying to keep a lid on political turmoil in Côte d’Ivoire, and on rising border tensions between Ethiopia and Eritrea. Foreign deployments patrol disturbances in Western Sahara, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Liberia. Sub-Saharan Africa hosts 10 foreign military bases and training missions, six of them belonging to France alone.

The calls for intervention in Kenya are the latest in an astonishing trend. After decades of independence following colonial rule, Africa is in danger of being recolonized.

Recolonized—really? The humanitarian duties being undertaken by today’s peacekeeping forces have an aura of benignity, even righteousness.

But history teaches a brutal lesson: Peoples weakened by division and infighting invite foreign conquest.

Look around. The same forces that fueled past imperialistic adventures are alive and well in human nature today. Chief among these is the lust for resources. And in our voracious, globalized modern world, this powerful motivator is at historically epic heights.

Africa holds an estimated 30 percent of the world’s mineral reserves. It produces over 60 metal and mineral products. A number of the world’s most important metals and minerals—gold, diamonds, uranium, manganese, chromium, nickel, bauxite, cobalt, platinum—are produced in Africa. But the biggest prize: Crude oil is being discovered in massive amounts. The Corporate Council on Africa reports that Africa contains over 90 billion barrels of proven oil reserves, representing 9.1 percent of the world’s total reserves. Africa has greater oil production potential than Russia. To outsiders, it looks like a black gold mine.

You can be sure, this makes Africa a major strategic concern.

Clearly, outside nations—particularly China and those in Europe—are doing all they can to charm African states out of their wealth using purely economic incentives. Trade is flourishing, investment is building African infrastructure. Louis Michel, the EU’s commissioner for Development and Humanitarian Assistance, said in December, “Africa is no longer perceived as a burden but rather as an opportunity.”

That opportunity can be seized peacefully as long as those African states are stable and secure. But when chaos erupts such as that in Kenya, other nations see two things that compel them to intervene: loss of value in their investments, and an opportunity to assert control and stake a greater claim.

Europe in particular has a storied history of exploiting the African continent for its wealth. “Europeans overwhelmed [Africa] in the last quarter of the 19th century, looking for loot,” wrote Blaine Harden in Dispatches From a Fragile Continent. “Total conquest took all of about 25 years.” In colonial days, an “imperial contract” existed between Europe and Africa: Europe plundered Africa’s wealth, including raw materials and labor, in exchange for continental “civilization.” During World War ii, Hitler’s economy minister looked to revive and expand that contract, calling it “Eurafrique,” or Eur-Africa. Mussolini and France’s Vichy regime also used the term. It was buried in the 1970s. Memories of that unsavory past came to life just last year, however, when French President Nicolas Sarkozy revived the concept as part of his foreign-policy vision. South Africa’s Sunday Independent reported, “Sarkozy may have used the term Eurafrique out of ignorance of the past, but it represents a lingering state of mind that many hoped was gone forever” (Dec. 9, 2007). Hope as many might, the Eurafrique state of mind still does linger in European minds. And it will grow as the need for resources grows.

Looking at this present trend in light of history provides a much more sober view of just how we can expect it to unfold in the time ahead. But it is when compared with the perspective offered by biblical prophecy that it actually becomes frightening.

The most chilling prophecy to be fulfilled in the near future, as the Trumpet has repeatedly proven, is that of a final resurrection of the Holy Roman Empire in Europe. Detailed passages in the book of Revelation describe the nature of this mighty kingdom of the north. This German-led empire will become infamous for its voracious appetite for resources (Revelation 18:12-13). It is prophesied to corporately reinvade its old African colonial possessions, pillaging resources to feed the furnaces and drive the machinery that will turn out tools of war for a remilitarizing imperialist power. Shamefully, among those resources will be a slave market of unprecedented proportions.

Kenyans would do well to think on these prophecies. The misguided individuals using political pretexts to justify violent tribal feuding are, in fact, only speeding the day of their nation’s downfall at foreign hands.

Here history affords another lesson—one that should hit close to home for those in the West, particularly America, Britain and Israel.

In times past, God allowed the nations of Israel to endure forced slave labor when they turned their back on His protection. The captivities of Israel and of Judah are well documented in secular history, and their spiritual cause—disobedience to the Creator—is detailed in Scripture.

Right alongside those prophecies of Africa’s plunder are those of the modern descendants of Israel and Judah—America, Britain and the Jewish state of Israel—convulsing in social disorder not unlike that choking Kenya, and then, riven by division and infighting, falling prey to the same European empire. You can read about those prophecies in The United States and Britain in Prophecy, and in our article “The End of the Free World.”

The affluent, complacent West looks at Kenya and thinks, It will never happen here. Biblical prophecy shows that assumption is flat wrong.

Look at Kenya, and behold your future.

As we witness events moving toward the fulfillment of these prophecies, however, we should also recognize the fingerprints of the God who issued these prophecies for our benefit. As Jesus Christ said, “I have told you before it come to pass, that, when it is come to pass, ye might believe.”

The Joy of Obedience

The Joy of Obedience

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More than a “have to” attitude

Throughout the Bible, God could not be any clearer on this point: He blesses for obedience and curses for disobedience.

Deuteronomy 11:26-28 encapsulate this principle: “Behold, I set before you this day a blessing and a curse; A blessing, if ye obey the commandments of the Lord your God, which I command you this day: And a curse, if ye will not obey the commandments of the Lord your God, but turn aside out of the way which I command you this day, to go after other gods, which ye have not known.”

Everyone wants to be blessed. But not as many want to obey. Even fewer understand what kind of obedience God expects.

Satan and His Demons

In Matthew 8, Jesus encountered two madmen possessed by exceedingly fierce demons (verse 28). They blocked passage for passersby. When Christ approached, however, they trembled, begging Him to leave them alone. At the very least, the demons implored Jesus to cast them into a herd of swine, if He had to cast them out. Christ accepted their plea, saying, “Go.” Moments later, the pigs ran off the edge of a cliff and drowned in the sea.

This example shows that even demons believe in and tremble before God (see also James 2:19). In Matthew 4, there is even a recorded instance where Satan obeyed Christ. It was after Satan’s last, desperate attempt to obtain rule over Him. Jesus responded, “Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve” (verse 10).

Satan obeyed. He left.

Obviously, this type of “obedience” did not put Satan back in God’s favor. Neither did it bring God’s blessing upon him. That’s because Satan obeyed only because he had to. Satan only has as much freedom as God allows him. Satan accepts these limits grudgingly, like a spoiled child who will not obey unless forced.

God expects more than “have to” obedience.

The Right Attitude

God’s Church has often referred to Deuteronomy 28 as the “blessings and curses chapter.” Moses begins the chapter by saying, “If thou shalt hearken diligently unto the voice of the Lord thy God, to observe and to do all his commandments which I command thee this day, that the Lord thy God will set thee on high above all nations of the earth: And all these blessings shall come on thee, and overtake thee” (verses 1-2). God says that if we are obedient, blessings will actually overtake us.

He elaborates in the next 11 verses. God says He will bless us in the city, in the field, when we come home, when we go out, when we are against enemies; He will bless our children, our produce, our flocks, our goods, our work, our finances—even the weather around us.

In verse 15, however, God reverses the situation. The list of curses to come as a result of disobedience is even more extensive. God says that if we are disobedient, curses will overtake us.

“Moreover,” God said to ancient Israel, “all these curses shall come upon thee, and shall pursue thee, and overtake thee, till thou be destroyed; because thou hearkened not unto the voice of the Lord thy God, to keep his commandments and his statutes which he commanded thee” (verse 45).

Why? Well, because they did not obey. But notice the kind of obedience God expects: “Because thou served not the Lord thy God with joyfulness, and with gladness of heart, for the abundance of all things” (verse 47). There are many examples of “have to” obedience in ancient Israel’s history. But that didn’t cut it with God. He expects cheerful obedience, with a glad heart. Because the Israelites did not obey willingly, with a good attitude, God cursed them.

God’s Heart

Twice in Scripture, God refers to David as a man after His own heart (1 Samuel 13:14; Acts 13:22). What a compliment! David’s heart was like God’s.

But what does that mean—what is God’s heart like? A quick study of the Psalms provides the answer. David wrote most of them. And even though the psalms were musical compositions, originally they were simply prayers. In that collection of prayers, the words singing, song or psalm appear 206 times; variations of the word praise 167 times; rejoice 55 times; love, lovingkindness or kindness 48 times. You get an idea of the kinds of themes that filled David’s prayers—his innermost thoughts—his heart. The words glad or gladness appear 41 times; joy or joyful 35 times; thanks or thanksgiving 32 times; delight 15 times; happy 7 times. He even mentions words like apples, honey, sweet, fields, flowers and dancing.

If David’s heart was like God’s, then the book of Psalms reveals a lot about God’s heart, or attitude. Assuredly, it is not one that begrudgingly submits to law or government. God cheerfully obeys His law—and so do His children.

Serving God With Joy

If you have found yourself letting down, “obeying” God with a negative or unwilling heart, then heed David’s example and change!

In Deuteronomy 32:7, God admonishes us to remember and learn from history (see also Malachi 4:4 and 2 Thessalonians 2:15). Remembering history is the best way to change our attitude with respect to obedience, because if we go back far enough, we reach the time when there was only God and the Word. We would not even be here were it not for God’s family plan. If we go back far enough in ancient Israel’s history, we reach a time when the Israelites were in abject slavery. Likewise, spiritual Israel’s beginnings stem from the humblest of origins. In this end time, God raised up a worldwide work through one poverty-stricken man.

In humble beginnings, God blessed the faithful obedience of men like Abraham, Moses and Mr. Armstrong. God’s work grew wondrously because of the abundant blessing He poured upon the efforts of these servants. The problem arises when the recipients of these blessings forget why they came in the first place.

That’s what Israel did anciently. “But Jeshurun [a poetical name for Israel] waxed fat, and kicked: thou art waxen fat, thou art grown thick, thou art covered with fatness; then he forsook God which made him, and lightly esteemed the Rock of his salvation” (Deuteronomy 32:18). Israel grew fat from its prosperity and, like a stubborn mule, started kicking at God. Consequently, the Israelites grew thick, meaning dense or stupid, and then forgot about the God who formed them!

God is the one who fashioned us from the beginning. He is the one who brings us out of slavery. He is the one who supplies us with spiritual food while we traverse the wilderness. If we remember these days of old, when we were nothing—slaves to sin—then we will not lose the attitude of cheerful obedience.

But it is not in man’s nature to do that. Blessings tend to make people fat. After being blessed so much and for so long, humanly it is all too easy to take the blessings for granted—or, even worse, to take credit for them.

Don’t do that! The more we are blessed, the more we should thank God and willingly serve Him with our whole heart. If we are not serving God with joy and gladness, considering what we have been given, then something is wrong with us!

Obedient Children

We are God’s children. Like any father, God expects His children to obey with a joyous and happy attitude. God doesn’t want children who “obey” the way Satan does—only when we have to. How could God entrust us with the universe if we only obey because we have to? God wants to give us all power only because of our willingness to serve Him with joyfulness and a glad heart.

In chapter 10 of Luke, 70 disciples rushed to Jesus and joyfully exclaimed, “Even the devils are subject unto us through thy name” (verse 17). Who wouldn’t be excited about that? Working for God gives us a lot of authority. Even demons must obey a command in the name of Christ. But you can be sure they won’t cheerfully obey.

That’s why, in verse 20, Christ said, “Notwithstanding in this rejoice not, that the spirits are subject unto you; but rather rejoice, because your names are written in heaven.” God finds no joy in resentful, unwilling obedience. But if our names are written in heaven—if God considers us sons who obey cheerfully—then that’s something we can truly rejoice about.