Spiritual War Bible Studies

Spiritual War Bible Studies => Book of Colossians => Study #9 => Topic started by: Hidden In Him on February 19, 2018, 05:31:26 PM

Title: Colossians 2:8-10
Post by: Hidden In Him on February 19, 2018, 05:31:26 PM
The Spiritual Seductiveness Of The Colossian Heresy

     Paul now begins describing the heresy the Colossians were facing, and a clear picture begins to emerge of the religion Satan was trying to delude these Gentiles away from the truth with:

     Take heed that there be no one robbing you through philosophy and empty deceit, in accordance with the tradition of men, in accordance with the elementary principles of the world, and not in accordance with Christ. For in Him dwells all the fulness of the Godhead bodily, and having become perfected, you are in Him who is the Head of all rule and authority...
      Therefore, do not let anyone judge you in food and drink or in respect of a festival or a new moon or sabbaths, which are a shadow of things to come, but the body of Christ. Let no one disqualify you, delighting in self-abasement and the worship of the angels, investigating into things which he has seen, being vainly inflated with pride by his fleshly mind and not holding fast the Head, from whom the whole body, being supplied and conjoined together through its joints and ligaments, grows with the growth of God. (Colossians 2:8-10 & 16-19)

     What was this heresy that was threatening the Colossians? Essenism. The Essenes were a very strict sect of Jews who believed they could mystically enter into the worship of Heaven itself, and hence join the angels of Heaven in worship to God. Thus, the phrase "delighting in the worship of the angels" referred to their delighted in entering into participation with the angelic worship of Heaven, by choreographing their own services to coincide perfectly with the worship services they believed were taking place there. They specially sang those songs and only those sings they believed the angels were singing on each particular Sabbath.
     As a result, Paul referred to this belief system as essentially a philosophy of complete self-abasement; self-abasement to strict observance of the Sabbaths and holy days, and complete self-abasement to the cleanliness laws of Judaism, which all Jews believed were given by angels (Hebrews 2:2, Galatians 3:19). Not only did they believe the law was given by angels, but the Essenes also laid stress on the fact that men like Daniel and Enoch received direct revelations from the angels of God as well. Because of this, there was a natural inclination within Essenism to receiving angelic visitations and revelations through them. Yet without holding fast to Christ as their spiritual Head, this placed the Essenes (and the Colossians if they subscribed to their teachings) in danger of being deceived by the Enemy.
     As we shall see, this danger exists to this very day. It has given rise to powerful religions like Mormonism and Islam. It is no coincidence that these religions are likewise strongly based on very strict observance to laws of personal conduct. These religions raise up good, moral people, but unfortunately they were likewise founded by "angels of God," and they disconnect people from any need to receive revelation directly from the Lord Jesus Christ, the ultimate source of true wisdom and knowledge.

Seeking To Participate In "The Worship Of Angels"

     As already stated, one of the primary pursuits of the Essenes was to mystically participate in the worship of Heaven together with the angels of God. The following article explains in greater detail the theological basis for their beliefs:

     The notion that earthly temples and their services are in some sense dependent upon heavenly prototypes was widespread in the ancient world. Among the Israelites it had biblical precedent as Moses and David were given a divine “pattern.” The writer of Hebrews, who obviously had priestly experience, wrote: "They [the human high priests] serve at a sanctuary that is a copy and shadow of what is in Heaven." This is why Moses was warned when he was about to build the tabernacle: "See to it that you make everything according to the pattern shown you on the mountain’” (Heb 8:5). The writer added that Jesus now “serves in the sanctuary, the true tabernacle set up by the Lord, not by man” (vs 2).
     Since the Essenes had rejected the corrupt temple establishment in Jerusalem, they had no access to it. Instead, they focused their attention toward the heavenly temple described in the book of Ezekiel (chapters 40-48)... Much emphasis was placed upon understanding this celestial temple and the heavenly host of angels and spiritual creatures that attended it. An elaborate angelogy was developed - based partly on Scripture, and partly on mystic imagination. (Angels and the Thirteen Sabbath Songs, Godward.org)

     Commenting here on the list of thirteen songs which the Essenes sang for thirteen weeks in succession, it should be kept in mind that the Essene calendar divided years up into four seasons of thirteen weeks each, making it appear as if these songs were sung in repetition with the start of each new season. They were songs that evoked powerful imagery of the worship taking place in Heaven:
     The discovery of Dead Sea Scroll Cave 4 revealed an amazing song book which prominently featured angels in Essene worship. Cave 4 contained fragmentary forms of eight manuscripts, the oldest of which has been dated to 75-50 B.C. These manuscripts are a liturgical text composed of thirteen separate sections, one for each of the first thirteen Sabbaths of the year... Carol Newsom, who’s Songs of the Sabbath Sacrifice: A Critical Edition is the definitive work on this topic, writes in her introduction: “These thirteen compositions invoke angelic praise, describe the angelic priesthood and the heavenly temple, and give an account of the worship performed on the Sabbath in the heavenly sanctuary.”
     These songs aren’t just congregational hymns sung in praise to God. They were apparently regarded as real-time liturgical participation in the heavenly temple’s Sabbath service. Great care was taken to acknowledge and describe the various details of this other worldly divine scene from the vestments of the angelic priesthood, to the temple itself, to the great Merkavah or chariot throne of Yahweh.
     The function of reciting the Songs of the Sabbath Sacrifice was to bring the congregation into the heavenly courts and participate in a Sabbath service administered by angelic priests.
“Both the highly descriptive content and the carefully crafted rhetoric direct the worshipper who hears the songs recited toward a particular kind of religious experience, a sense of being in the heavenly sanctuary and in the presence of the angelic priests and worshippers. That this experience is intended as a communal experience of the human worshipping community is made clear by the first person plural forms which appear…’our priesthood,’ ‘the offering of our mortal tongue,’ ‘how shall we be considered among them’… Even though the Sabbath Shirot [songs] do not appear to have been designed as vehicles for the incubation of visions or of mystical ascent by individuals, the sophisticated manipulation of religious emotion in the songs would seem to have increased the possibility of ecstatic experience among some worshippers…. It [is] possible for one to assume with confidence that the recitation of these Sabbath songs was a major vehicle for the experience of communion with angels ….”
     The Thirteen Sabbath Songs describe a heavenly scene not unlike some of those described in the Book of Revelation. They draw heavily from Isaiah’s vision when he “saw the Lord, seated on a throne, high and exalted, and the train of his robe filled the temple” (Isa 6:1-7). Isaiah tells of flying seraphs with six wings, voices so loud they shook the temple, fire and much smoke. He thought he would die for his “eyes have seen the King, the LORD Almighty.” Ezekiel’s visions provide further material... He is startled by a windstorm, clouds, flashing lightning, brilliant light, and at the center fire like glowing metal. Then he sees living creatures with four faces and four wings with hands under their wings. He sees a maze of breathtaking colors and creatures that looked like they were torches of fire. He sees huge intersecting gyroscopic wheel-like creatures that sparkle, move like lightening, and are full of piercing eyes. And above all this he sees an expanse of sparkling crystal and winged creatures whose moving wings create immense noise. Above that he sees a throne of sapphire and above that he sees “a figure like that of a man,” like glowing metal as if full of fire. A brilliant light surrounded him and it had the colors and radiance of a rainbow. Ezekiel exclaimed, “This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the Lord” (Ezk 1:1-28). (Angels and the Thirteen Sabbath Songs, Godward.org)

Another Reason Essenism Was Tempting To Gentiles

     Having come to faith in Jesus Christ from paganism, most Gentile believers were already familiar with observing holy days based on the movement of the planets. All the great pagan gods of the Romans were named after planets, i.e. Saturn, Jupiter, etc., and all their festivals took place at set times of the year. But having had the Spirit of the Living God poured out upon them, they had now come to understand the God of the Jews to be the true God, and as such, many became fascinated with all things Jewish. There is New Testament evidence that some were observing the Jewish holy days, not out of obligation but because they were foreshadowings of "things to come." In other words, Sabbaths and Jewish festivals all in one way or another prophetically foretold events that were now taking place in the lives of New Testament believers, including the Gentiles.
     That at least some were observing Jewish holy days is evident enough from what Paul told the Corinthians in his first letter:

     Your boast is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump? Purge out the old leaven that you may be a new lump, as you are unleavened. For even Christ our Passover was sacrificed. So then, we should not celebrate the feast with old leaven, nor with the leaven of evil and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of purity and truth. (1 Corinthians 5:6-8)

     There is no way the Gentile Corinthians would have understood what Paul was saying here unless they had been very well educated on the Jewish festivals of Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread. And while some dismiss this as Paul merely using these festivals to make a spiritual analogy here, the passage doesn't at all read like that. The two Festivals were held in succession at the same time of year, and the natural reading is that Paul was writing this letter at the time when the actual Feasts of Passover and Unleavened Bread were taking place in Jerusalem. And Paul, in commenting on how the Corinthians were observing these feasts, was telling them that they needed to practice what the Feasts represented spiritually by removing from their fellowship anyone who was strong spiritual "leaven," i.e. anyone who would be a spiritually corrupting and contaminating influence on the congregation (see 1 Corinthians 5:1-5). And again, the point to emphasize here is that there is no way they would have understood Paul's points here without being educated about the Jewish feasts, and why would anyone have taken the time to educate them about such matters if there were not at least some in the congregation at Corinth who were observing them?
     The question became, however, which days were New Testament believers who observed the Jewish holy days supposed to be keeping? The Essenes claimed only they were observing the correct days, for only they were observing the proper calendar:

     A significant feature of the Essene sect was its calendar, which was based on a solar system of 364 days, unlike the common Jewish calendar, which was lunar and consisted of 354-days... [It] was always reckoned from a Wednesday, the day on which God created the luminaries. The year consisted of fifty-two weeks, divided into four seasons of thirteen weeks each, and the festivals consistently fell on the same days of the week. A similar solar system was long familiar from pseudepigraphic works. This calendar played a weighty role in the schism of the community from the rest of Judaism, as the festivals and fast days of the sect were ordinary work days for the mainstream community and vice versa. The author of the Book of Jubilees accuses the followers of the lunar calendar of turning secular "days of impurity" into "festivals and holy days" (Jubilees 6:36-37). (Ayala Sussman, Ruth Peled, The Dead Sea Scrolls: History & Overview, Jewish Virtual Library.org)

     According to the Essenes, not only was keeping the feasts mandatory but what calendar one went by made the difference between obedience and disobedience to God. Yet according to New Testament teachings, it didn't matter whose calendar was correct. The feasts were merely "shadows of things to some," and therefore not mandatory to God. This is why some Christians were observing feast days while others were not. Paul's teaching was that believers who felt compelled to observe Jewish sabbath days and holy days should do so. Those who felt no compulsion to, however, should also be fully assured that they were righteousness before Christ in not doing so, and anyone who had a problem with that needed to check his attitude at the door:

     Who are you who judges another's servant? To his own master he stands or falls. And he shall be made to stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand. One commends one day above another day, yet one commends every day. Let each man be fully assured in his own mind. The one who esteems one day esteems it unto the Lord, and the one who does not esteem the day does not esteem it unto the Lord. And the one who eat eats unto the Lord, for he offers thanksgivings to God [for it]. And the one who does not eat does not eat to the Lord, and he offers thanksgivings to God. (Romans 14:4-6)

     In fact, when the Gentiles first began having the Spirit poured out on them, a meeting was held among the Jewish Christian leadership to determine what Jewish laws and customs they should be told to observe. Some were claiming that circumcision should be mandatory, but the counsel determined only to make a few Jewish observances mandatory to Gentile Christians, and none of them had to do with keeping sabbaths or holy days. Rather, they were stipulations mostly about not doing things socially that would be especially aberrant and disturbing to the Jewish believers they would now be associating with, such as practicing adultery (an acceptable practice amongst Gentile men), eating meat sacrificed to demonic idols, eating blood, and eating animals that were strangled to death:

     And the apostles and the elders were gathered together to see about this matter. And, much debate having taken place, having risen up Peter said unto them, "Men, brothers, you know that from the early days God chose through my mouth from among you for the Gentiles to hear the message of the gospel and believe. And the God who knows our hearts bore witness to them, having given [them] the Holy Spirit as also unto us, and making no distinction between us and them, having cleansed their hearts through faith. Now, therefore, why are you tempting God to put a yoke upon the neck of the disciples which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear?"... And after they kept silent, James answered, saying, "Men, brothers, hear me. Simeon related how at first God visited the Gentiles to separate out a people for His name... Wherefore I judge not to trouble the Gentiles from turning to God, but to write to them [only] to abstain from the pollutions of idols, and sexual immorality, and [eating] what has been strangled, and blood. For from generations of old, Moses has those proclaiming him in the synagogues in each city, he being read on every sabbath. (Acts 15:6-10, 13-14, 19-21)

     The apostle Paul would stipulate in latter teachings that even some of the things James mentioned here were likewise matters of personal conscience (such as eating meat sacrificed to idols), but that believers nevertheless had a responsibility not to offend the conscience of their brothers and sisters in Christ. (see 1 Corinthians 8:4-13)

But Believers Were Not Subordinate To Angels

     The biggest problem with Essene teaching, however, was that it essentially placed believers under a form of subordination to the angels of God, something completely contrary to Christian teaching. In fact, their preoccupation with angelic worship led the Essenes to keep long records of the names of the angels, something which they regarded as a sacred secret to be preserved from profane eyes.
     According to an article in Wikipedia:

     "[Josephus] further adds that the Essenes ritually immersed in water every morning, ate together after prayer, devoted themselves to charity and benevolence, forbade the expression of anger, studied the books of the elders, preserved secrets, and were very mindful of the names of the angels kept in their sacred writings" (Wikipedia, The Essenes).
     Moreover, as Essenism grew in popularity in the century before Christ, so did the notion that the Jews could receive revelation from God directly through angels. This was based partly on scripture, and partly on tradition. The Book of Daniel records how the angel Gabriel came to the prophet and revealed great mysteries to him concerning the last days:

      While I was yet speaking and praying and confessing my sins and the sins of my people Israel, making my case to the Lord my God concerning His holy mountain - yea while I was still speaking in prayer, behold the man Gabriel, whom I had seen in the vision at first, came flying, and touched me about the time of the evening sacrifice. And he instructed me, and spoke with me, saying, “Daniel, I am now come forth to impart unto you understanding. As soon as you began to pray, a word went out, which I have come to tell you, for you are a man highly esteemed. Therefore, consider the matter, and understand the vision:
     Seventy weeks have been determined for your people and your holy city, to put an end to sin, and seal up transgressions, and blot out iniquities, and make atonement for wickedness, and bring in everlasting righteousness, and seal the vision and the prophet, and anoint the Most Holy." (Daniel 9:20-24, LXX)

     So, too, did the Book of Enoch, highly regarded by the Essenes, describe Enoch as receiving exceedingly great revelations from God directly through angels. HOWEVER, now that the Spirit of God had been poured out upon them, believers had the Lord Jesus Christ Himself as their Teacher and source of revelation. For this reason, Paul chastised those Essenes who were now entering in among the Colossians congregation who were "not holding fast the Head" for revelation, but instead becoming puffed up with pride over the "revelations" they were producing out of their own heads:

     Let no one disqualify you, delighting in self-abasement and the worship of the angels, investigating into things which he has seen, being vainly inflated with pride by his fleshly mind and not holding fast the Head, from whom the whole body, being supplied and conjoined together through [its many] joints and ligaments, grows with the growth of God. (Colossians 2:17-19)

     That Essenes were essentially subjugating worshippers to a level below that of the angels was a travesty of sorts, for in New Testament teaching it was actually the angels of God who were receiving revelation from the church, not the other way around:

     To me, less than the least of all the saints, was given this grace to proclaim the gospel to the Gentiles, the incomprehensible riches of Christ, and to bring to light what the administration of this mystery is which has been hidden in God from [previous] ages, He having created us all, so that the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known [even] unto principalities and authorities in the heavens through the church, in accordance with the eternal purpose which He purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Ephesians 3:8-11)

Horror Stories From History Of Angelic Deception

     I will teach more on the Colossians heresy here and what Satan was really trying to accomplish a few studies from now. But here I want to focus on the potential dangers of not holding fast to Christ as Head, i.e. for revelation from God.

Note to the reader: This last section of the study was still in the outline phase as of this posting.

- Justifications for going to angels for revelation (God's angels were distributers of the Law [Hebrews]; God's angels did indeed give revelation to both Daniel and Enoch, as well as Pittman, Roland Buck and others in modern times. But one should only receive it if it comes from Christ Himself, as confirmed through the Holy Spirit. "My sheep know My voice…"). 
- It can likewise be very dangerous to receive revelation from angels, such as Joseph Smith and Muhammad did. It is why Paul warned about the dangers of doing so ("If an angel of God should preach any other gospel, let him be accursed."). Not that visions from angels are to be dismissed out of hand entirely, since Daniel received his powerful visions from angels. But only that you run the risk when you do not "hold fast the Head, i.e. Christ."
- "If an angel of Heaven preach any other gospel, let him be accursed."
- Muhammed:
https://themuslimissue.wordpress.com/2014/04/20/the-quran-refers-to-the-prophet-of-islam-as-demon-possessed/ (https://themuslimissue.wordpress.com/2014/04/20/the-quran-refers-to-the-prophet-of-islam-as-demon-possessed/)
Gabriel, an angel or a demon

In his Tafsir* (Interpretation), Al-Qurtubi wrote: “A Demon in the form of an Angel”.

Translation: Al-Abyad (a demon) is the friend of the prophets and he is the one who went to the Prophet (pbuh) in the form of Gabriel (the angel). ([arabic] 37/18).

Translation: By the demon called Al-Abyad (the White One), he was referring to the one that used to come to the Prophet (pbuh) in the form of Gabriel (the angel) wanting to seduce him. Al-Qurtubi. (Al-Qurtubi [arabic] 242/19).

Muhammad himself feared that a demonic figure had appeared to him. Translation: The Messenger of Allah said to Khadija: “When in seclusion, I hear someone calling and saying, O Muhammad, O Muhammad”.. and I fear that it is one of the djinns. (Al-Sirat al-Halabiya, by Al-Halabi, v.1, p. 377)
     As a final test of his prophethood, Khidija asked Muhammad, "O son of my uncle, are you able to tell me about your visitant, when he comes to you?" When Muhammad told her that he could, she devised a sure-fire way to tell if the spriit was good or evil:
     So when Gabriel came to him, as he was won't, the prophet said to Khadija, "This is Gabriel who has just come to me." "Get up, O son of my uncle," she said, "and sit by my left thigh." The apostle did so, and she said, "Can you see him?" "Yes," he said. She said, "Then turn round and sit on my right thigh." He did so, and she said, "Can you see him?" When he said that he could she asked him to move and sit in her lap. When he had done this, she again asked if he could see him, and when he said yes, she disclosed her form and cast aside her view while the apostle was sitting in her lap. Then she said, "Can you see him?" And he replied, "No." She said, "O son of my uncle, rejoice and be of good heart, by God he is an angel and not a satan (i.e. a demon)."
     Muslim hardliners to this day insist upon the veiling of women because of, among other things, this underlying assumption: the sight of an unveiled woman is so distressing, so deeply sinful, that it causes even the angels to flee. (Spencer, The Truth About Muhammad, P.43-44)

- Joseph Smith:
"“He was visited constantly by angels,” Elder George Q. Cannon said of Joseph Smith. “These various angels, the heads of dispensations, . . . ministered unto him. . . . He had vision after vision in order that his mind might be fully saturated with a knowledge of the things of God, and that he might comprehend the high and holy calling that God had bestowed upon him” (Journal of Discourses, 23:362)."
http://www.ldsliving.com/24-Angels-Who-Visited-Joseph-Smith/s/79521 (http://www.ldsliving.com/24-Angels-Who-Visited-Joseph-Smith/s/79521)

"Mormonism teaches that finite humans can actually progress into infinite gods as the Father, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit once did. Mormons proselytize the belief that human deification, or attaining godhood, is in fact the restored LDS gospel message of salvation to the world. This LDS salvation doctrine of the possibility of humans' becoming gods best defines the exclusive teaching of Mormonism, and sets the LDS Church totally apart from all monotheistic faiths, including every branch of historic or contemporary Christianity. This revealing statement from the Encyclopedia of Mormonism clarifies the LDS teaching concerning the possibility of humans' becoming gods:

It is LDS teaching that all the Father's children possess the potential
to strive toward the same godhood that the Godhead
already has; because in their humanity there is a divinity that is
progressing and growing according to the faith, intelligence, and
love that abounds in their souls.
And so we must ask the following question: On what authoritative basis can Mormons advocate such an unchristian doctrine? The answer to this question is that Latter-day Saints believe that humans and gods possess the same essential eternal nature.

The Encyclopedia of Mormonism makes this LDS teaching clear:

Like Jesus Christ, all mortals live in a state of humiliation, but
through the mediation of the Christ they may progress to a
state of exaltation. There is no ultimate disparity between the
divine and human natures; Joseph Smith asserted that mankind
is the same species as God, having been made in God's image
and being eternal, with unlimited capacity.
Humans Possess Eternal Intelligences or Spirits

http://exhumator.com/02-024-00_religious-mormons-faith-latter-day-saints-the-mormon-gospel-human-deification.html (http://exhumator.com/02-024-00_religious-mormons-faith-latter-day-saints-the-mormon-gospel-human-deification.html)

In Conclusion

- Can believers get caught up in worship with the angels? Yes, but then the opposite may also be true. They get caught up in ours. (See Escape From Christendom, although it may be that angels get caught up worshipping with us). If yes, it just makes this heresy all the more seductive.
     We could take a lesson from our ancient friends in Qumran. We can stop short of their excesses for we now know Christ who triumphs all principalities and powers giving us direct access to the throne of God’s grace... The writer of Hebrews gives Christians this picture to keep before them as they pray: “But you have come to Mount Zion, to the heavenly Jerusalem, the city of the living God. You have come to thousands upon thousands of angels in joyful assembly [singing?], to the church of the firstborn, whose names are written in heaven. You have come to God, the judge of all men, to the spirits of righteous men made perfect, to Jesus the mediator of a new covenant…so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire!” I think the Essenes of Qumran could even join us in saying “Amen” to that.

Source Links:
http://www.godward.org/archives/Special%20Articles/angels_and_the_thirteen_sabbath.htm (http://www.godward.org/archives/Special%20Articles/angels_and_the_thirteen_sabbath.htm)
http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/history-and-overview-of-the-dead-sea-scrolls (http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/history-and-overview-of-the-dead-sea-scrolls)
http://www.kolumbus.fi/~w462389/sekalaiset/essealaisten-kalenteri.htm (http://www.kolumbus.fi/~w462389/sekalaiset/essealaisten-kalenteri.htm)

- Notes on translation of Colossians 2:18: "… delighting in self-abasement and the worship of the angels." (Note: Comparing the use of the same Greek words in Colossians 2:18 with 2:23 yields, "Let no one rob you of the prize, delighting in (Thelon) self-abasement and the worship (Threyskia) of the angels, investigating into things he has seen, being vainly inflated with pride by his fleshly mind, and not holding fast the Head…"

"The Enoch calendar is an ancient calendar described in the pseudepigraphal Book of Enoch. It divided the year into four seasons of exactly 13 weeks each." (hence, the 13 Sabbath songs). "The Enoch calendar was purportedly given to Enoch by the angel Uriel."
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Enoch_calendar (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Enoch_calendar)

     This is why the apostle Paul began stressing early on this letter how the Lord Jesus Christ was the Head over "all principality and power," thereby relegating the angels of God to their proper place in the minds of the Colossians:

     In Him was everyone created, whether those in Heaven or those on the earth, those who are visible and those who are invisible, whether thrones, or lordships, or rulers, or authorities, all have been created through Him and unto Him. And He is before all, and in Him all have [their] organization. And He is the Head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the Firstborn from among the dead, that He might become preeminent amongst us all, for in Him all [God's] fullness was pleased to dwell, and through Him to reconcile everyone unto Himself, whether those on earth or those in Heaven, having made peace through the blood of His cross. (Colossians 1:16-20)

- Both Ephesians 1:20-23 and Colossians 2:15 reference the Headship of Christ over angels (both letters written at roughly the same time).