Posts Tagged ‘Superstition’

WHEN THE WOLF HOWLS

Dagger for When the Wolf Howls

by Ross Cochrane

Chapter 43

“Tell me about this legend,” Absalom repeated.

“The story begins with the lion god,” said Obed-edom as the story of his childhood flooded back into his memory. “It is said that one day the lion, filled with pride, roared so loud that all of Canaan could hear, ‘I rule this domain!’ it said, ‘None can challenge me!’ But it’s roar was answered by the howling cry of the wolf high in the hills, ‘I will challenge you! Stay away from here or you will know the teeth of the wolf that devour even the strongest of foes!’

The lion was so annoyed at the arrogance of the wolf that that it stalked through the long grass and up into the hills until it finally came upon the lair of the wolf. A terrible battle took place and the wolf was killed by the powerful lion. The lion also killed the wolf’s mate and all but one of its cubs who hid itself in the back of the lair.

The wolf cub hid in the hills until it almost starved to death. But Molech, the god of war and strength, who was a master iron-smith, helped the wolf cub until it was fully grown, giving it teeth of iron. The teeth of the wolf are still made by the Philistines today in the kiln of Molech, in the form of daggers such as the one you hold today.

Then one day the lion heard the howling cry of the wolf, now fully grown, as it mourned over the loss of its family and vowed revenge. With teeth of iron, it came down from the hills to the plains where it continues to track down the lion to this day.

The lion and wolf still remain bitter enemies and the roars and snarling of lion and wolf can still be heard in Canaan during times of battle. One day it is said that the battle will be resolved, but in the meantime, the Philistines fight their enemies with the iron teeth of the wolf and the roar of the lion.

The lion and wolf god are the Philistine gods of war because they are two of the strongest of the predators. It is believed that when the Philistines fight, they gain favour with the wolf god and he will not raid and kill their flocks.

Of course, the Philistines also have many other gods, but the image you see on this hilt is the favourite mark of the iron-smiths. This dagger came from the kiln of Molech, where to my shame, a child was sacrificed to the god of war. I witnessed this murder and thought little of it at the time. When the Philistines fight they are supposedly fighting to avenge the death of their children.

I was the one who fashioned the blade and carved the image on the hilt personally. It was originally for a Philistine prince or king to carry into battle but I was captured before I had time to present it. It has a curse of vengeance upon it, my lord. So you see why it would be better to destroy this weapon. It has been dedicated for evil.”

Absalom was fascinated by the old man’s story and had no intention of destroying the dagger.

“Your story was superstitious nonsense, old man, but you have been most helpful.” said Absalom.

Obed-edom was quiet and prayerful for the rest of the day. Only Barzillai had noticed the change in his mood and after an hour of working with him in silence, he said,

“What troubles you, old friend? Has Absalom brought you bad news?”

“Absalom showed me a weapon that I formed just before I was captured. I have been responsible for making many weapons that have been dedicated to Molech over the years. I have made the smallest iron talisman that warriors wore into battle, as well as weapons of immense size and weight. Barzillai, you have heard of Goliath?” Barzillai nodded.

“I was responsible for forging the weapons he used,” said Obed-edom “and dedicating them to Molech to be used against Israel.”

“My friend, those days are now over. God has brought forgiveness to you and your family,” said Barzillai.

“That’s not my concern. I know now that God has forgiven me and I stand clean before Him,” said Obed-edom, “but the weapon Absalom showed me was the finest of all daggers that I have made. It is a thing of vengeance. A child was sacrificed in the kiln it came from and it is cursed. I am afraid that it will bring harm to whoever carries it.” Obed-edom did not realise it, but already the dagger had been used as a weapon of vengeance.

“I have learned that things such as your dagger have no power in themselves to hurt anyone, my friend,” said Barzillai, “It is only metal. It can be used for good or evil purposes.”

“But what about the curse upon it?” said Obed-edom.

“It seems to me that the curses of vengeance will only have an effect if there is first a foothold in a person’s life.” said Barzillai, “every one of us is susceptible to allowing a curse to have power in our lives, but with God’s help, we don’t have to open the door to it’s evil.”


 

Genesis 30:14 – LOVE POTION NOW BENIGN – FAITH AND SUPERSTITION

Cross = Love. Jesus Loves Us. Image created by Ross Cochrane

Cross = Love. Jesus Loves Us. Image created by Ross Cochrane

Their words are as poisonous as the mandrakes over which they are arguing. Rachel’s anxiety and grief about not being able to conceive and her jealousy of her sister’s success reaches a culmination as she searches for solutions in superstition.

Rachel begs Leah, “Please give me some of your son’s mandrakes.” But Leah angrily replies, “Wasn’t it enough that you stole my husband? Now will you steal my son’s mandrakes, too?” (Genesis 30:14-15 NLT).

Obsessed and desperate, Rachel wants the mandrakes, the “love plants”, that Leah’s son Reuben has found in the field. Why is a toxic plant associated with love? Perhaps it aligns itself with Rachel’s love, poisonous with jealousy and delirious with desperation.

The Mandrake plant is toxic, causing hallucinations. It’s root system is bulbous and resembles a human figure. Although it has a pleasant smell, the only part of the mandrake that is not poisonous is it’s red fruit. It is called the “love apple” and is considered to be a powerful aphrodisiac (love potion) which could help a women in conception (Wikepedia).

Rachel answers, “I will let Jacob sleep with you tonight if you give me some of the mandrakes.” (Genesis 30:5 NLT). Steeped in superstitious zeal, Rachel is willing to make whatever sacrifices she needs for the mandrakes. She has already made her servant/slave a surrogate mother. Now she prostitutes her husband’s services. They both know that they can manipulate Jacob to do their bidding.

Jacob hasn’t been sleeping with Leah and Leah doesn’t trust Rachel to follow through with the sleeping arrangements that night for her own husband, so she meets Jacob coming in from the fields and demands that he sleeps with her. There is no romance in her words. She says “I have paid for you with some mandrakes.” Jacob obviously doesn’t care who he sleeps with. He is more interested at this stage in keeping the peace.

Jacob has eight sons now from 3 women. No doubt he realises he is being used by two jealous wives. Nevertheless he spends that night with Leah.

Despite Rachel’s superstitious zeal for the mandrakes in the following days it is not Rachel who conceives but Leah. Leah bears Jacob another son (Genesis 30:17-18). No doubt the guilt of giving her servant to her husband to bear children has played upon her mind because she names him Issachar, which means “reward” “… for she says, “God has rewarded me for giving my servant to my husband as a wife” (Genesis 30:18 NLT). Leah, like Rachel, seeks to justify rather than admit her sin. She falls into the snare of deceiving herself by trying to involve God in her selfishness. Do I really expect God to reward my plans when I violate His? Does God reward immorality/human trafficking? I don’t think so. God heard and answered Leah’s prayer, not to reward her immoral decisions concerning her servant/slave, but to fulfil his promise to Jacob.

Faith is not a good luck charm. Faith does not beg for a superstitious potion in the hope that something might happen. Reuben grows up with the example of his parents superstitious belief in love potions and Issachar has a constant reminder in his name of his Mother’s attempt at trying to justify her sin. What impression do we leave on the next generation by our blatant disregard of living our lives as God intended. God invites us to acknowledge our sin rather than justify ourselves? We can pray as David prayed – “Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin…” God’s love potion for forgiveness and fruitfulness in life is found in knowing Jesus.

Faith expects the best and enables me to endure the worst. It builds it’s perceptions on revealed truth, not on false hope. Superstition limits us to imaginary measures to solve our problems. Faith lives a life that points us to hope in the reality of God’s solutions. Christ continually calls us to be immersed in the truth of all that God has promised; Jesus said “I am the Way, the TRUTH and the Life” (John 14:6). 

Pastor Ross

Matthew 7:22-23 – HOW CAN THINKING PEOPLE BELIEVE IN MIRACLES?

How Can a Thinking Person Believe?

Jesus makes it tough for people living in the Western World. He says “On judgment day many will say to Me, ‘Lord! Lord! We prophesied in Your Name and cast out demons in Your Name and performed many miracles in Your Name.’ But I will reply, ‘I never knew you. Get away from Me, you who break God’s laws.’”

All these things are unfamiliar to our culture. In just a few sentences Jesus speaks about JUDGMENT DAY, PROPHECIES, DEMONS, MIRACLES, KNOWING GOD and GOD’S AUTHORITY to tell us what to do. Not what we want to hear in our scientific age. Richard Dawkins, the famous atheist, mocks the fuse that has been lit by the words of Jesus in these verses. He wants to cast out Christians in the name of science.

Yes, I know there have been times in history when Christian culture has confused spirituality with superstition, regarding various amulets and charms with power to cast out demons. Yes, religious leaders have used these trinkets to promote superstition for personal gain and power. Yes, many believed that all diseases were produced by evil spirits and those with intellectual disabilities or suffering from a mental illness or Epilepsy were considered to be possessed by demons. But please don’t tar every follower of Christ with the same brush? Same old, same old.

Jesus believed in the existence of demons! As a Bible-believing Christian today I acknowledge the existence of a spiritual world including the demonic, without having to put any trust in amulets and charms. Similarly every Bible-believing Christian I know believes in miracles, and signs and wonders without attributing superstitious beliefs to eclipses and comets, magic and false prophets. No intelligent person can explain every human condition by science alone.

Unlike Richard Dawkins, many cosmologists today are speaking of parallel universes or multiverse, even though they are conflicted because it doesn’t fit neatly into the test-tube of science. In his book, A Brief History of the Multiverse, author and cosmologist, Paul Davies, says, “… how is the existence of the other universes to be tested? … somewhere on the slippery slope between that and the idea that there are an infinite number of universes, credibility reaches a limit. As one slips down that slope, more and more must be accepted on faith, and less and less is open to scientific verification …The multiverse theory may be dressed up in scientific language, but in essence it requires the same leap of faith.” — Paul Davies, A Brief History of the Multiverse

George Ellis, like most cosmologists, accepts the idea of the multiverse saying it would be so far away, however, and that it’s very unlikely any evidence will be found. He says “As skeptical as I am, I think the contemplation of the multiverse is an excellent opportunity to reflect on the nature of science and on the ultimate nature of existence: why we are here … In looking at this concept, we need an open mind, though not too open. It is a delicate path to tread. Parallel universes may or may not exist; the case is unproved. We are going to have to live with that uncertainty. Nothing is wrong with scientifically based philosophical speculation, which is what multiverse proposals are. But we should name it for what it is.” — George Ellis, Scientific American, Does the Multiverse Really Exist?

I know that like the multiverse, when my prayers are answered in miraculous ways we are still not be able to sieve it through the grate of science and come up with God or a miracle. Yet to deny God and miracles on the basis of science is a lie and the spiritual dimensions of life will remain disregarded and silent, unable to be investigated due more to rebellion than reason.

Miracles are not only possible, but any thinking person will concede that life is not lived in the test tube of science alone. Unfounded assertions and rudeness will not help the cause of science. Such a limited view of life displays arrogance and ignorance. Such arrogance and ignorance is the soil in which unbelief grows and does not leave us open enough to investigating the possibility of the truth of the Bible. The invitation God gives is simply to “taste and see that the Lord is good” (Psalm 34:8 – that’s about as empirical as it gets! 🙂 

Pastor Ross

BREAKING THE CHAINS OF SUPERSTITION – Part 2

Superstition

When one little girl was asked what FAITH is, she said, “Well, faith is believing what you know ain’t true” (Vernon Magee). That’s a great definition of SUPERSTITION but not of faith. If the only way to come to God is by faith (Hebrews 11:6), then how would you describe faith? Is it a leap in the dark, an uncertain gamble? If that is what it means to you, then you do not have the faith that the Bible speaks of.

What is the difference between FAITH AND SUPERSTITION? Is one mans faith another mans superstition? Surely that’s ridiculous. Hebrews 11:1 (AMP) distinguishes between faith and superstition – “FAITH is the SUBSTANCE of things hoped for, the EVIDENCE of things not seen.” This means that it rests on something TRUE AND CERTAIN, not on an uncertain leap into the unknown.

The New Testament was originally written in Koine Greek and the word for “SUBSTANCE” is “hupostasis”. It is a scientific word but it doesn’t mean hypothesis or theory. It has the opposite meaning. It rests upon FACTS. It is the essential nature of something or the UNDERLYING REALITY of something, the HEART AND SOUL. If your faith does not rest upon the truth of what God has revealed then it is not faith.

“The EVIDENCE of things not seen.” 2 Corinthians 5:7 (NIV) says “We live by faith, not by sight.” Although unseen, the evidence spoken of here is the kind of evidence which is accepted in a court of law. Faith is not a leap in the dark. Faith is not a wish. Faith is SUBSTANCE AND EVIDENCE. There is no reason why you can’t believe. God wants your faith to rest upon the truth of the Word of God. What evidence do I have that the Word of God is true? It’s truth evidenced by a CHANGED LIFE.

1. Gwen, blind and unable to walk, has a confident assurance that leads her to pursue truth. That’s FAITH. John, old and troubled, believes in a religious SUPERSTITION that manipulates and cripples him by it’s lies. That’s FEAR. Superstition has it’s basis in FEAR. If I touch wood or wear a good luck charm it’s because I fear that if I don’t I will have something bad happen.

Faith is not based on fear of what MIGHT HAPPEN. Faith expects the best and enables me to endure the worst. It builds it’s perceptions confidently on revealed truth, not on false hope.

2. Superstition with it’s negativity distorts the truth. Faith seeks the truth, like the Bereans in Acts 17:11 (NLT) who “listened eagerly to Paul’s message. They searched the Scriptures day after day to see if Paul and Silas were teaching the truth.” 

3. Superstition amplifies the voice of fear. Faith silences the voice of fear with PURPOSE and destiny, a love for God and others. 1 John 4:18 (NLT) says “such love has no fear, because PERFECT LOVE EXPELS ALL FEAR. If we are afraid, it is for fear of punishment, and this shows that we have not fully experienced His perfect love.” 

4. Superstition is fearful of initiating action. Faith dreams big, clarifies your dreams and inspires you to run the race (1 Corinthians 9:24). Whereas superstition stops me from moving forward, faith knows the value of stepping out with confident assurance and trust in God. Superstition refuses to take risks. Faith positions us for opportunities despite the risks. Abraham stepped out in faith when he left the land of Ur without knowing where God would lead him (Genesis 12:1-4).

5. Superstition bullies us and destroys our potential. Faith steadfastly refuses to be intimidated by dream killers. It enables David to fight against Goliath (1 Samuel 17).

6. Superstition limits us to imaginary problems. Faith lives a life that points to the real solutions . 1 Timothy 4:7-8 (NIV) says “Have nothing to do with godless myths and old wives’ tales; rather, train yourself to be godly.”

7. Superstition is limiting because it is based upon me. Faith believes that I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me (Philippians 4:13). It is based on relationship with God, not religious rituals and traditions.

Although it cannot adequately be tested by my senses, my faith is based on a relationship with Christ over many years. My confidence in Him grows rather than diminishes. It takes me deeper into His revealed truth. My changed life is perhaps the only evidence of faith in Him that I can produce and even that is not adequate. My faith is no less real.

Romans 10:17 (NLT) says “…faith comes from hearing, that is, hearing the Good News about Christ.” 

John 16:13 (NLT) speaks about God the Holy Spirit as “THE SPIRIT OF TRUTH” who “will guide you into all truth” John 16:8 (NLT) says “… He will convict the world of its sin …” of unbelief. God’s Word invites me to consider looking beyond myself for the answers I need in life?

Pastor Ross

BREAKING THE CHAINS OF SUPERSTITION – Part 1

Superstition – Photo Creation by Ross Cochrane using Paint.net and MorgueFile.com

The 2nd Friday in January was Friday the thirteenth, 2012. For those who believe in SUPERSTITION an unlucky day – a bad day for a journey, to marry, to make any investment. One woman I spoke with yesterday reads the stars each morning in the paper and prays that God will allow it to happen. Lets add to that walking under a ladder, a black cat, crossing your fingers, touching wood, reading the stars, petals plucked to discover if she loves me, she loves me not.

RELIGION especially can be the hive of superstitious nonsense. One man wears a cross as a kind of rabbits foot against bad luck, while another wears it as a symbol of what Christ did for us on the Cross in dying for our sins. One person prays as a meaningless ritual while another uses prayer as an expression of relationship with Christ.

SUPERSTITION is evident when I have a belief or practice resulting from ignorance, fear of the unknown, trust in magic or chance, or a false conception of cause and effect. Many people would add that a belief in the supernatural, in miracles, in God, in the resurrection and ascension of Christ is also SUPERSTITION.

I’ve been reading a lecture (blog) by Robert G. Ingersoll (1833-1899), an Atheist. I love his ability to express himself but I am amazed by the arrogance of his assertions and how he intentionally associates SUPERSTITION WITH FAITH. He is particularly scathing about regarding the Bible as the inspired Word of God and proclaims SCIENCE AS OUR SAVIOUR, which will “destroy bigotry in all its forms… It will abolish poverty and crime, and greater, grander, nobler than all else, it will make the whole world free.” (Ingersoll lecture on Superstition)

And years after his death in the scientific age in which we live we are still mesmerised by the superstition of believing that science is the saviour of the world. Yet far from freeing the world, the evidence suggests we are destroying it by the very discoveries we have made. Science hasn’t lived up to the arrogant claims and promises Ingersoll makes because it keeps limiting us by ignoring the very things that truly set us free.

If I was not willing to accept Christ for who He is I guess I would be forced to come up with some fanciful explanation that allowed my atheism or superstition some credence and would not obligate me to come under God’s authority – scientific or religious – it wouldn’t matter much which.

In delivering a series of messages based on The Truth Between Us, Erwin McManus, founder of Mosaic, recently said that true atheists and followers of Christ both want to rid themselves of SUPERSTITION. Thankfully, both atheists and followers of Christ ask us “Is that really the truth?” and if we were honest sometimes the answer is “No, it’s more connected with superstition and rituals and our own biased desires.” It may even be based on our self imposed limits.

Arnold (not his real name) has worked so long as a scientist that he has allowed his empirical rationalism to limit his ability to discern truth by relying only on his SENSES. Allowing for a multiplicity of ways to discern truth and not simply restricting discernment to the five senses allows me to exercise FAITH as a valid system of perception. When Arnold, shackled and restricted to the evidence of the senses as he must be for his scientific research to be meaningful, refuses to acknowledge any OTHER pathways to truth but it’s own self imposed world of choices, then far from practicing science he is involved in “SCIENTISM” (as my geologist friend Bob calls it). Closing itself up to other possibilities outside the field of it’s own restricted measures of obtaining truth, scientism arrogantly seeks to cut us off from the possibilities of discovering a more holistic range of truth for our lives and from the divergent thinking that leads us to new discoveries. Should I restrict myself to my senses as the ONLY means to living life I could never be accountable to anyone but myself, limited by my “INGROWN THINKING”.

Erwin McManus speaks about the impossibility of trying to see something with the sense of smell or hear something with the sense of sight. It’s not that faith and science are diametrically opposed. They are not. It’s that we sometimes apply the wrong apparatus of perception when seeking truth.

It isn’t Jesus who is responsible for leading me to believe in superstition. No-one should be more committed to pursuing truth than a follower of Christ, who says He is the way, TRUTH, and life and that the TRUTH will set us free (John 14:6, John 8:32). He will never take me anywhere where truth is not.

Pastor Ross

Matthew 14:1-2 – BREAKING THE CHAINS OF MY LIMITATIONS

Breaking the Chains of My Limitations

One hundred and one years have passed and he still believes in a SUPERSTITION that once haunted Herod Antipas almost 2000 years ago. The centenarian I spoke with yesterday doesn’t like the idea of the afterlife, of heaven and hell, of continuing to live on past death, nevertheless he clings to a belief in REINCARNATION, that the soul is recycled. It is recorded that Herod Antipas also believed you could return and inhabit a different living person (Matthew 14:1-2). Reincarnation with a twist.

In delivering a series of messages based on The Truth Between Us, Erwin McManus, founder of Mosaic, recently said that true atheists and followers of Christ both want to rid themselves of SUPERSTITION. Thankfully, both atheists and followers of Christ ask us “Is that really the truth?” and if we were honest sometimes the answer is “No, it’s more connected with superstition and rituals and our own biased desires.” It may even be based on our self imposed limits for discovering half truths.

Religion especially can be the hive of superstitious nonsense. But then again science and rationalism can also limit our ability to discern truth by relying only on our senses. Allowing for a multiplicity of ways to discern truth and not simply restricting and limiting discernment to the five senses allows me to exercise faith as a valid system of perception. When science refuses to acknowledge that we know things beyond our senses it becomes scientism. It cuts us off from the possibilities of discovering a more holistic range of truth for our lives.

No-one should be more committed to pursuing truth than a follower of Christ, who says He is the way, TRUTH, and life and that the TRUTH will set us free (John 14:6, John 8:32). Sometimes the only verifiable truth I have is the truth evidenced by a changed life. It isn’t Jesus who is responsible for leading me to believe in superstition. He will never take me anywhere where truth is not.

When Herod hears that some people think that Jesus is John the Baptist risen from the dead (Luke 9:7-9), with superstitious fear and a guilty conscience, he readily grasps at this explanation (2 Timothy 4:4). This is weird because he claims to be a Sadducee, and Sadducees don’t believe in life after death.

Years later Herod meets Jesus face to face when Jesus is on trial to be crucified (Luke 23:8–12) but even then He misses his opportunity to discover who Jesus really is and examines Him as a curiosity.

Strange that all the conclusions about Jesus that people come up with don’t include what John has been telling them all along. God has promised to them a Redeemer. Jesus is the promised Messiah, the Saviour. Instead they come up with a quasi reincarnational theory.

Where does imagination stop and truth start? Children mix imagination and truth, but discerning that which is imaginary and that which is a possibility is the process that allows me to discover truth.

If I was not willing to accept Christ for who He is I guess I would be forced to come up with some fanciful explanation that allowed my atheism or superstition some credence and would not obligate me to come under God’s authority. Scientific or religious. It wouldn’t matter much which. There’s a downward trend here in Herod’s life that must tear him to pieces inside. He can’t explain away the miracles of Jesus and he desperately wants to maintain control of his world, so he must grasp at staws.

The invitation that both Herod and John the Baptist gives to us is to seek the truth. In the palace Herod entertains the truth but allows superstition and pride to reject Christ for who he really is. In the dungeon John the Baptist speaks the truth and though he is beheaded by Herod, it is the Truth about Jesus that sets him free.

Perhaps the questions worth asking are “What superstitions am I willing to embrace when it comes to seeking for the truth about Jesus? Am I simply applying limited constructs in a desire to eradicate Christ and His authority in my life? Am I really willing to seek the truth about who Jesus is? Am I willing to act on truth that I perceive beyond my senses and beyond my superstitions?”

John 16:13 (NLT) speaks about God the Holy Spirit as “THE SPIRIT OF TRUTH” who “will guide you into all truth” John 16:8 (NLT) says “… He will convict the world of its sin …” of unbelief. Am I willing to look beyond myself for the answers I need in life?

Pastor Ross