Customs



Customs

This article answers various questions put to A Voice In The Wilderness - Canada in recent years:

1. Candles/Holy Water

There is no command in Scripture that says believers around the world must use candles or holy water in their services. So we in A Voice In The Wilderness - Canada do not use them. There was the seven-branched candlestick in the Tabernacle and in Solomon's Temple: but there are no commands concerning the lighting of candles in other places of worship. Of course it is not a sin to light a candle in a dark building or even in a church. But it is not a legislated duty.

This also applies to holy water, incense, cushions, perfumes, oil etc. The symbols used by the Aaronic priesthood are now expressed on a higher plane in the Melchisedec priesthood; f or Perfume see 2 Corinthians 2: 15-16 and Ephesians 5: 2. Candles are used in some churches, because some believe they give a more natural light than an electric bulb. But the candles themselves are not holy candles and their use is not commanded. You may use them if you wish: it's a matter of choice - not law.

2. Water

Adult believers are baptized in deep water. There's no choice here; the water must be deep enough for the convert to be immersed. But the water is not referred to as ‘holy water.’ The same thing applies to oil. Elders may use ‘olive oil’ to anoint a sick person as the Apostle James points out in 5: 13-15; but the oil is not referred to as ‘holy oil,’ To be sure the oil represents the Holy Spirit; but it is ordinary olive oil just as the baptismal water is ordinary water.

3. Shoes In Church

In Exodus 3: 5 Moses was commanded to remove his shoes because the ground on which he stood was holy. That ground was made holy by Yahweh's actual presence as opposed to His Spirit which permeates the entire universe. “Draw not nigh hither: put off thy shoes from off thy feet, for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground.” Synagogues (and church buildings) are in a sense also sacred places; but the Jews do not remove their shoes when entering a synagogue. Neither have Christians through the ages removed their shoes when entering their churches. But, more importantly, there is no commandment in Scripture to remove one's shoes when entering a place of worship. In Exodus 3: 5 there are two commands: If you pause to consider these two commands you will soon see that they applied to a local situation when Yahweh was bodily present. They do not refer to every place of worship. No doubt Yahweh's Spirit is present in every place of worship; even in a believer's home or at an open air meeting. One doesn't need to keep removing shoes in these places. In view of these facts the Jews and the Christians do not remove their shoes when entering their places of worship. But, and let me stress this point; it's not a sin to remove one's shoes. Neither is it a sin to keep them on. On or off is a matter of local custom - not divine command.

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4. Kneeling in Prayer

To our knowledge there is no direct command in Scripture that says a person must kneel when praying. This means that a believer can pray standing up, lying down or when walking. But even though there is no direct command about kneeling in prayer, it is mentioned in the Bible. We will quote a few texts:

5. Head Coverings for Men

In the Jewish synagogues men cover their heads. The practice goes back to the time when Moses put a veil over his head because of thebrightness of his face after being in Yahweh's presence. The anointed priests were also to wear head coverings and were forbidden to uncover their heads because of the anointing. (Leviticus 10: 6, Leviticus 21: 10) To my knowledge there is no law which requires every male worshipper to cover his head in the church. If anything it is recommended in the New Testament that men remove their head-coverings. The Apostle Paul's words were:

1 Corinthians 11: 4: Every man praying or prophesying having his head covered, dishonoureth his head.

In view of these facts we men in A Voice In The Wilderness - Canada do not cover our heads in church.

6. Head Coverings for Women

Here is a matter that each married couple will need to settle for themselves. Some women wear hats or scarves in church. It's not wrong for a woman to wear a head covering such as a hat or scarf in church. Nevertheless the following facts may be helpful: An instance where a veil was worn to conceal the face is found in Genesis 24: 65 where we read that Rebekah took a veil and covered herself.

Hebrew tsaiph = she wrapped herself up - she concealed her face!

In Exodus 34:33 we read that Moses put a veil over his head. He literally hid his face from view. From this we can see that there is a big difference between the Biblical veil (still worn by women in the Middle and Far East) and the hats, bonnets, caps, turbans, plumes and fancy feathers posing as veils these days. In ancient days the veil was a sign of humility and modesty. The modern headgear we see in the churches these days is often a sign of pride. And so we draw a conclusion: that if women want to use a veil, let them do so. But make sure it is a true veil that covers the face and not just another excuse to parade a new piece of finery. A head scarf is perfectly in order nowadays.

7. Long Hair

The text goes on to say that a woman's ‘long hair is given to her for a covering.’ (verse 15) we do believe that if a woman does not veil her face she can at least wear her hair long, which befits every women but no man. Long hair is a woman's beauty in every country. European women often artificially curl their long straight hair; African women often artificially straighten their curly hair. Please note: neither practice is sinful.

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What about women wearing men’s clothes?

“The woman shall not wear that which pertaineth unto a man, neither shall a man put on a woman’s garment: for all that do so are abomination unto the LORD thy God.”
(Deuteronomy 22: 5)

At first reading, this text seems easy enough to understand. But in fact it encompasses far more than what appears on the surface. Basically it means, women should not wear clothes exclusively worn by men; and men should not wear clothes exclusively worn by women. As we all know, there are certain garments (socks, shirts, gloves, vests, pyjamas, hats, coats, cloaks etc.) which both sexes wear; but if a garment belongs exclusively to one sex, (i.e. a bra or frilly underwear) then a person of the other sex must not wear it. That is an abomination to the LORD.

In Scotland, as many people know, both men and women wear ‘kilts;’ which are knee-length pleated skirt-like garments of tartan wool. And in Pakistan both men and women wear long trouser-like pyjamas made of fine cotton or silk. No one in Scotland or Pakistan would suggest that these practices are violating the command mentioned above.

This issue about wearing clothes belonging to the opposite sex became a controversy probably at about the time when women began to wear ‘jeans.’ Jeans were first worn by working men in the USA. Being hard wearing and reasonably inexpensive they were best suited to the farms and cattle ranches of the wild west. Gradually they became fashionable as work clothes with men and women in virtually every trade and in every country. Jeans are now worn by both sexes all over the earth. Most women who now wear jeans are not posing as men any more than Muslim women who wear long pyjamas; or Scottish men who wear kilts are posing as women.

The question is: Is it a sin for a woman to wear jeans or trousers?

Personally we do not think so; simply because the command refers to a woman wearing men’s clothes with the express intention of posing as a man. Or a man wearing woman's clothes and posing as a woman. In other words, the command forbids ‘transvestism;’ which is ‘dressing in the clothes of the opposite sex with the express purpose of being mistaken for and treated like the opposite sex.’ Transvestites, though not necessarily wishing to change their sex, do this purely for personal pleasure! This is an abomination to the LORD!

I repeat, if a modern woman wears men's clothes because she wants to be mistaken for a man, she is breaking the command of God. She is behaving like a ‘transvestite;’ she is sinning. But if her clothes in no way detract from her femininity and no one is in any doubt whatsoever that she is a women and behaves like one, then we would hesitate to say that she is a ‘transvestite.’

Our personal opinion, however, is that a woman should not wear trousers or jeans unless engaged in gardening, building, mining, riding etc. Most woman think they look good in jeans; but most men, including ourselves, disagree. Women look best when they dress and behave like women. When they start imitating men, they usually lose out in the end. But that is another subject.

NOTE: The above excludes those rare medical cases where babies are born intersex; that is, with sex organs which are neither clearly male nor female. Sad to say, this physical abnormality is on the increase due to the pollution of our food and water supplies. But this transsexual, ‘medical problem’ must not be confused with transvestism, which like that other matter of Homosexuality, is an abomination unto the LORD.

8. Modesty

Women who dress immodestly are sinning, in that they invite mental adultery on the part of men: and since adultery is a sin committed by two people, they too are guilty whether they realize it or not. Of course this goes for those men also who glory in stripping off their clothes in front of women. The rising popularity of ‘nudity’ is just another sign that our society is becoming more sick by the day. See Adultery.

9. Makeup

The Bible doesn't say much about makeup; so we hesitate to pontificate on the subject. We are, however, told in Leviticus 19: 28:

Ye shall not make any cuttings in your flesh for the dead, nor print any marks upon you: I am the LORD.

Of course this doesn't expressly deal with the matter of makeup; but it does point to the heathen practice of printing marks on the body, cutting or tattooing marks in it; a practice which is now very fashionable. Some fans at sporting events now paint their faces and bodies in part or whole almost as a way of entertainment and nobody seems to connect this painting craze with the Bible command which forbids believers from marking their faces or bodies in any way.

We read in the book of Kings that the evil queen Jezebel painted her face and tired her hair in an attempt to impress the conquering Jehu who had just killed her son Joram king of Israel in battle.

2 Kings 9: 22: And it came to pass, when Joram saw Jehu, that he said, Is it peace, Jehu? And he answered, What peace, so long as the whoredoms of thy mother Jezebel and her witchcrafts are so many?…
30: And when Jehu was come to Jezreel, Jezebel heard of it; and she painted her face, and tired her head, and looked out at a window.

In view of these things my personal opinion is that true believers should not paint their faces in a vain attempt to look better than they really are. We can understand a very pale faced woman using a little colouring in order to look healthier; but that is a far cry from what one sees nowadays where, even in Christian churches, women paint their faces and nails and look more like modern versions of Jezebel than the children of God preparing to meet the Saviour. In short, scent, powder, a little makeup, hairstyles, jewellery, expensive clothes etc., may be in order; but there is a fine separating line in all of these things which Christian women and their husbands must decide for themselves.

10. Jewellery

The wearing of jewellery (rings, precious stones, bracelets, armbands, broaches etc.) is not a sin. If you study all the texts in the Scriptures on this matter you will see that Yahweh's people (the Israelites) wore jewellery. Abraham's servant's presented jewellery to Rebekah. (Genesis 24: 22, 53) The High Priest wore jewelled garments. Kings wore rings and the Prodigal Son's father put a ring on his son's hand when he came home (Luke 15: 22). Moreover, Yahweh Himself is going to make up his jewels.

Malachi 3: 16: Then they that feared the LORD spake often one to another: and the LORD hearkened, and heard it, and a book of remembrance was written before him for them that feared the LORD, and that thought upon his name.
17: And they shall be mine, saith the LORD of hosts, in that day when I make up my jewels; and I will spare them, as a man spareth his own son that serveth him.

If you study the following passages you will see clearly that the wearing of jewellery is not a sin. ( Exodus 11: 2, 12: 35, Isaiah 61: 10, Ezekiel 16: 17-19 ). Did not Yahweh Himself clothe Israel his wife with jewellery and fine clothes?

Nevertheless, the wearing of jewellery becomes sin when believers put their gems and fine clothes first before faith, holiness, humility and good works. Then the jewellery has become a snare, an idol - a sin. This means that women may wear jewellery if they please: it is not a sin, so long as it doesn't distort their appearance and become an over-riding obsession. Then, like every other excess, it can become a snare - a sin. In (1 Timothy 2: 9) Paul is warning about putting fine clothes, elaborate hairstyles and expensive jewellery before good deeds, submissiveness and godliness. It is all a question of priorities. As we said above, if a believer, male or female, gets these things out of order, (in other words if the most important things are put last) then he/she is missing the point and has made a idol of a perfectly acceptable thing. Bodily cleanliness, good clothes, well groomed hair etc. all have their proper place; but they should always come second to godliness, humility and good deeds.

11. White Garments

There is nothing wrong with wearing white garments. If anything they look very impressive in Africa: but we do not think they would look the same in Canada, USA or Europe. The White Garment groups in Africa treated A Voice In The Wilderness - Canada with enormous hospitality and love: But the wearing of white garments is not commanded in the Scriptures and we should not expect believers world-wide to wear white garments when they come to church. White garments however do symbolize absolute holiness: but this whiteness (righteousness) is obtained through the blood of the Lamb, not ordinary soap and water.

Revelation 7:14 14: And I said unto him, Sir, thou knowest. And he said to me, These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.

When the Bible speaks of certain saints wearing white some day in the future, it means we will be absolutely holy people - with no spot of sin in our characters. And that is what we should currently aim to be no matter what coloured garments we are wearing. Though white symbolizes a future moral state of absolute holiness and perfection, God does not command us to wear white robes every Sabbath day. Go to any synagogue and see if you can find anyone in white garments. The phrase: “washing one's robes and making them white in the blood of the Lamb” (Revelation 7: 9 & 13, Revelation 22: 14) is a symbolic way of saying the saints will keep Yahweh's commandments by the power and merits of the risen Saviour.

The Mechisedec priesthood in the ages to come will be absolutely holy and perfect people. Like their ancient counterparts in (2 Chronicles 5: 12) they will be dressed in white garments, which means they will be spiritually perfect and empowered to rule the nations.

When church leaders insist on their members wearing white garments, they are making up commandments of their own. Far better if they insisted on absolute holiness of character amongst themselves and their congregations.

12. Red Garments

As with white garments, there is no command in Scripture which says that believers must dress in red garments when they attend religious meetings. To be sure white signifies purity and red signifies sin, but believers do not have to wear any particular colour when attending meetings. The only thing that they should watch is that their garments are clean, modest and in good repair. If possible, torn, dirty garments of whatever colour should be avoided.

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13. The Sign of the Cross

The cross was used by Pagans long before the Messiah was put to death on Calvary.
The cross is a symbol of the Babylonian Sun god and was also seen on the coins of Julius Caesar 100-40 BC. The cross was the emblem of Tammuz known as the mistletoe or Branch.
It is doubtful if Christ even died on the kind of cross commonly known. It is more likely that he was crucified on a stake - an upright pole or tree with its branches lopped off. But we will not argue about the type of cross on which the Messiah died; the point is, we Christians should not venerate the cross - any cross. Nor should we have crosses in our church buildings, or wear crosses around our necks or make signs of the cross on people's foreheads.

The following stunning comments are taken from pages 197-199 of Alexander Hyslop's book
THE TWO BABYLONS     ISBN 0-7136 047 0     Published by S.W.Partridge & Co, 4,5,6 Soho Square, London, England.

There is yet one more symbol of the Romish worship to be noticed, and that is the sign of the cross. In the Papal system, as is well known, the sign of the cross and the image of the cross are all in all. No prayer can be said, no worship engaged in, without the frequent use of the sign of the cross. The cross is looked upon as the grand charm, as the great refuge in every season of danger, in every hour of temptation as the infallible preservative from all the powers of darkness. The cross is adored with all the homage due only to the Most High; and for anyone to call it, in the hearing of a genuine Romanist, by the Scriptural term, ‘the accursed tree,’ is a mortal offence. To say that such superstitious feelings for the sign of the cross, such worship as Rome pays to a wooden or metal cross, ever grew out of the saying of Paul,

‘God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ’
(that is, in the doctrine of Christ crucified) is a mere absurdity, a shallow subterfuge and pretence. The magic virtues attributed to the so-called sign of the cross, the worship bestowed on it, never came from such a source. The same sign of the cross that Rome now worships was used in the Babylonian Mysteries, was applied by Paganism to the same magic purposes, was honoured with the same honours. That which is now called the Christian cross was originally no Christian emblem at all, but was the mystic Tau of the Chaldeans and Egyptians - the true original form of the letter T - the initial of the name Tammuz...

That mystic Tau was marked in baptism on the foreheads of those initiated in the Mysteries, and was used in every variety of way as a most sacred symbol ... The mystic Tau, as a symbol of the great divinity, was called ‘the sign of life;’ it was used as an amulet over the heart; it was marked on the official garments of the priests, as on the official garments of the priests of Rome; it was born by kings in their hand, as a token of their dignity or divinely-conferred authority. The Vestal virgins of Pagan Rome wore it suspended from their necklaces, as the nuns do now. The Egyptians did the same, and many of the barbarous nations with whom they had intercourse, as the Egyptian monuments bear witness.

In reference to the adorning of some of these tribes, Wilkinson thus writes: The girdle was sometimes highly ornamented; men as well as women wore earings; and they frequently had a small cross suspended to a necklace, or to the collar of their dress...’

There is hardly a Pagan tribe where the cross has not been found. The cross was worshipped by the Pagan Celts long before the incarnation and death of Christ.

It is a fact says Maurice, no less remarkable than well attested, that the Druids in their groves were accustomed to select the most stately and beautiful tree as an emblem of the Deity they adored, and having cut the side branches, they affixed two of the largest of them to the highest part of the trunk, in such a manner that those branches extended on each side like the arms of a man, and, together with the body presented the appearance of a HUGE CROSS, and on the bark in several places, was inscribed the letter Thau.” It was worshipped in Mexico for ages before the Roman Catholic missionaries set foot there, large stone crosses being erected, probably to the ‘god of rain.’ The cross thus widely worshipped, or regarded as a sacred emblem, was the unequivocal symbol of Bacchus, the Babylonian Messiah, for he was represented with a head-band covered with crosses. (end of quote - emphasis mine throughout)

In view of all these amazing facts, A Voice In The Wilderness - Canada advises all Christians to stop wearing or venerating the cross on which our Saviour was crucified. Who in their right mind would venerate a murder weapon used to kill a loved one? It is the same with the cross. We greatly rejoice that our Saviour died to bring about our salvation; but that ‘instrument of torture,’ which is what the cross was, is not something Christians should venerate.

14. Images/Pictures/Statues

The second commandment explicitly forbids the use of idols, images, pictures & statues in the worship of Yahweh. Pictures of the virgin Mary and Joseph or even pictures of Jesus Christ and the 12 Apostles etc. are also included in this ban. These pictures and images are certainly not of Jesus Christ nor of his earthly followers. Sacred images, statues and pictures of the Saviour etc. should have no place in the homes or churches of believers who profess to keep the commandments of the Most High. Instead, churches could have texts of Scripture on their walls. Scripture texts are of course not compulsory, but they are infinitely better than images and statues of Mary or Jesus Christ and his apostles.

15. Asherah/Groves/Angel Gardens

The Bible condemns the pagan practice of worshipping in groves of dedicated trees or in front of religious shrines. The word Asherehrefers to a wooden pole or mast which stood at Canaanite places of worship (Exodus 34: 13).
Originally is was, perhaps, the trunk of a tree with the branches chopped off, and was regarded as the wooden symbol of the goddess Asherah, who like Ashtoreth, was the type of fertility (Exodus 34: 13) It was erected beside the altar of Baal. (Judges 6: 25, 28) (Westminster Dictionary of the Bible)
A Voice In The Wilderness advises all churches to rid themselves of Angel Gardens, groves and asherahs of all kinds. These are all suspect and akin to the ‘groves’ (Asherah) outlawed in the Holy Scriptures. If you find that the group with which you worship has a different point of view, then bring these facts to the leaders' notice. Who knows, you may be just the one Yahweh will use to enlighten the believers in your area. See our articles on Animal sacrifices (80K) and Baal Worship.

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16. Uncleanness/Menstruation

There is an old saying in Canada that ‘Cleanliness is next to Godliness.’ And how true it is. Christians ought to aim at being clean in:

17. Symbolic Uncleanness

Besides this, there is the matter of symbolic uncleanness. For example in the Scriptures: The Lower Physical Level
On the lower physical level the above laws have a graded application. For example: Should a Menstruating Woman Attend Church?
This question is seldom asked by believers in Canada where the wearing of internal sanitary pads is so effective that a monthly period goes virtually unnoticed - and no blood flows from the body. It is internally absorbed by the pad and cast away at frequent intervals. The woman washes frequently and is otherwise clean. But in poorer countries a menstruating women cannot afford such sanitary conveniences and needs to rely on washable towels. Nor can she bathe as often as she would like, as even the water is scarce. In such circumstances we believe it would be better for the women not to attend church; though if she could manage to keep herself physically clean - then we see no reason why she should not. But this is a personal matter for her, her husband or the church elders to settle. Bear in mind that this matter also applies to unclean men. Look up (Leviticus 15: 16) and you will see how that men can also become ceremonially unclean.

What Does This Mean?
It means this: a woman's blood flow, and a man's spilled sperm, both initially render the person physically and ceremonially unclean. The life-blood in the woman's case, and the sperm in the man's were both provided to produce fruit in the womb. A wastage of either is not in Yahweh's plan. On the lower physical level the uncleanness can be washed away with soap and water. On the higher symbolic level the spillage of blood or sperm represents ‘uncleanness of the mind and spirit’ which only the Messiah's blood can cleanse. Now let us consider the higher symbolic meaning of wasted blood or sperm.

The Higher, Spiritual Plane
On the spiritual plane virtually everything outside Yahweh's will is polluted and unclean. Unbelief and disobedience have defiled everything. Unbelief is sin and sin pollutes everything it touches. Truth rejected by the unbelieving mind is wasted. And that wastage pollutes the unbeliever. It renders him/her unclean. That is the lesson of the menstruating woman and the sperm- stained man. Her womb and her husband's sperm were prepared for childbirth; but when she does not conceive, then the waiting blood supply in her body is no longer needed; it has been wasted and she becomes unclean. It is the same with the man. His sperm as intended to produce offspring. And when it is spilled on his garments or bed it is wasted. That wastage renders him and the woman with whom he is sleeping symbolically unclean and of course also physically unclean. Both the man and the woman may wash themselves with soap and water and become physically clean within minutes.

But what of the symbolic, or spiritual uncleanness?
This is uncleanness of a deadlier kind; which requires cleansing of a different kind. As stated above, a woman's menstruating womb and a man's wasted seed both symbolize a state of wastage brought about by unbelief. Unbelief is the worst form of wastage. It can only be cleansed or washed away by the blood of Yeshua the Messiah (Jesus Christ).

Scripture tells us that Yeshua’s Blood cleanses us from all sin; especially those high level sins like pride, unbelief, ingratitude, envy and hate. (Acts 22: 16, Revelation 1: 5, Revelation 7: 14) These are the sins that really pollute a person and render him/her unclean. (Matthew 15: 18) But a menstruating woman - though still unclean for sexual intercourse - could in the spiritual sense be perfectly clean: that is she could be clean in her mind and clean in her spirit. In other words a menstruating true believer is spiritually clean. Her hands may also be perfectly clean to keep house and serve food; and the chair she sits upon be perfectly clean for others to use. She's not a leper with a infectious physical disease.

Because of these facts we do not think that a menstruating woman should be separated from the rest of the church congregation, or that touching her or sitting on the chair she had recently sat upon, or eating the food she has prepared during her ‘period’ renders her, her husband or her family unclean. The same applies to a ‘sperm-stained man’ or a ‘doctor or undertaker who has touched a corpse;’ they may wash themselves clean and be fit to attend church. I repeat that we must differentiate between physical and symbolic uncleanness.

So do remember, that people become spiritually unclean when they sin. And though they may achieve physical cleansing by their own efforts (washing with soap and water) they must go to the Most High for spiritual cleansing. When spiritual cleansed (through faith in the blood of the Messiah) the believer is free to enter the physical church (the building) and the congregation.

18. Summary

In summary we would say that if a woman is unable to keep herself physically clean during menstruation (e.g. unable to obtain effective sanitary towels or wash herself properly) then she should, purely as a matter of hygiene, stay away from the meetings. But if she is able to keep physically clean, then the symbolic uncleanness which her condition indicates need NOT prevent her worshipping God with the congregation in Church or with her family at home. She should be allowed to attend the church services with her husband and family. Do remember that in any event sexual intercourse is not allowed during menstruation. (Leviticus 20: 18, Ezekiel 18: 6)


AMEN!

In the Son’s Name - For the Father’s glory.
Elder:
Max W. Mader

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