Worship a bunny?

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My family just returned from a weeklong vacation to Cancun, Mexico. While we had a wonderful time relaxing on the gorgeous beaches and listening to mariachi music, I could not help but be fascinated by all the Mayan and Aztec culture that surrounded us.  There are temple ruins in many locations along the Yucatan and most offer tourist packages to traipse around the old, stone structures and learn about the ancient religion of Mexico’s native people.  While I am sure it is fascinating to most, I didn’t have a desire to pay money to climb hundreds of feet to the top of some crumbling rocks.

However, a couple of relics that did vex me were 2 large statues just down from our condo. Along the central expressway that allows you to move along all the beautiful resorts is a promenade park with luscious vegetation and palm trees.  Nestled among the flowering plants and trees are 2 stone images that caught my attention.  After driving past it for the first few days without any attention, all of sudden, it caught my eye.  One afternoon, I walked down to get a closer look.  One stone statuette was of a rabbit at least 12-15 feet tall and the other was a stone figure of a naked man kneeling in front which was about 7 feet tall.  Several feet away, on the other side of the park was another set of rabbit and man statues. Bunny worship

After taking a few photos with my iPhone, I walked back to our condo and began to do some research. The ancient Mayan and Aztec religions worshipped many gods.  One of the main gods involved in their worship was a fertility goddess named Ixchel.  An interesting dynamic of this particular goddess was its involvement of rabbits and eggs.  Both are associated with fertility and were reverently worshipped by these ancient people groups.  I was now beginning to understand why Mexico would proudly display stone statues of a man bowing before a very large rabbit.

A 15 minute ferry ride from Cancun lies ‘Isla Mujeres.’ Mujeres is woman in Spanish so it translates, Woman’s Island.  On the island there have been found many statues of rabbits within the temple ruins.  All part of the worship of Ixchel – the goddess of fertility.  While I certainly recognize that the people of Mexico do not still worship rabbits or follow the ancient traditions of their forefathers, I find it interesting to know where their culture and some of their traditions originated from.

The worship of rabbits dates all the way back to bible times where Nimrod’s son, Tammuz, was worshipped. The worship of Tammuz, which originated in the Middle East, is filled with a lot of similarities of Ixchel worship.  Both pagan deities involve worship of the sun and moon as well.   Ishtar was Tammuz’s mother, and where we derive the name Easter.  I don’t want to get into all the details of the particular genesis of these celebrations.  However, I will say that upon doing some diligent research on Ishtar and Tammuz you will find earie similarities to other traditions of Christianity.  Practices observed today that began thousands of years prior to Roman Catholicism.

I happen to love history so I find “digging around” in ancient cultures, religions and people groups fascinating. Since I do believe history repeats itself, there is much we can learn from going back and understanding what our forefathers did before us.  And we can certainly acquire a measure of wisdom from knowing what NOT to do or rather how NOT to repeat the mistakes of those who have lived before us.

Nevertheless, you and I are here in the 21st century and in “modern” times and about to celebrate our independence from Great Britain – July 4th.  I wonder if most Americans realize that July 4th could really be noted as a religious holiday.  A day where we celebrate our forefathers breaking free from the iron grips of the Church of England and its kingdom power over us.  A time when much bloodshed was spilled in order for us to form this great country of ours under the principles of the holy bible and God.  Where man is free to worship the Creator God in fullness of truth and precept.

I can’t help but ponder if there is any correlation between the blessings our country has enjoyed over the past 238 years and its roots and foundations on the truth of the bible. I wonder if there is any correlation in Mexico worshipping rabbits hundreds of years ago and its state today.  A country some might call “third world.”  A country that has paradise qualities but, also serious crises of education, security, human rights and health.  Sadly, a large portion of Mexico today lies in poverty and the average worker in Cancun makes just dollars a day.

During our visit, we found the native people of Mexico very hospitable and eager to take all of our American money. Yet sadly, as a people group, they are far behind other countries in development of medicine, technology and business.  And yet, they still hold onto and revere their customs of old-even paying homage to their ancient religions.  I wonder how long the grand rock structures of Ixchel worship will be publically displayed in their city.  Do the people of Cancun even notice the 7 foot naked man kneeling before an animal with large ears?

It seems absurd to us today that man could revere a four-legged creature and pray to it for blessings and prosperity.  And yet, isn’t that what so many Americans participate in with the worship of power, sex and money?  As a nation and culture, will we continue to mix our forefathers religion of Judeo-Christianity with the worship of intellect, influence, and riches?  If so, what demise will our country suffer?  How long will America’s greatness last?  Questions that need to be asked, especially for the sake of our younger generations. If we continue on the downward slide we are on, will they be able to enjoy the same blessings we had?

“I am the LORD and there is no other, there is no God besides Me.”

This morning I happened to be reading from the prophet Isaiah. One of my favorite portions of the Old Testament when my eyes fell on the 44th chapter.  God is pleading with His children, Israel, to turn from their idol worship and seek Him only.  In verse 10, God asks man a bold question, “who would form a god or mold an image that would profit him nothing?”

Throughout the entire chapter, you can see that man had been making their own gods to bow down before.  Yet, in His love, God warns them to turn from their stone images and call out to Him.  God is pleading with His people and admonishing them that images made of stone will never profit them in any way, only He can satisfy them.  Isaiah reminds the people that they were created for God’s glory and the success and pleasures that they were craving would only be found in true worship to the creator rather than the creation.

On this holiday of July 4th, many of us will sing ‘God Bless America.’  I pray that as you do, stop and meditate on the words of this historic song and be thankful for the freedoms we all enjoy, and the truth that is our nation’s foundation.

While the storm clouds gather far across the sea,

Let us swear allegiance to a land that’s free.

Let us all be grateful for a land so fair,

As we raise our voices in a solemn prayer:

God bless America, land that I love, Stand beside her and guide her

Through the night with a light from above. From the mountains, to the prairies,

To the oceans white with foam,

God bless America, My home sweet home.

 

http://www.lisaroitsch.com

How Desperate Are You?

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One of my favorite stories of healing in the bible is the woman who couldn’t stop bleeding. It is found in Mark 5:25, Matthew 9:20-22 and again in Luke 8:43.

This obscure woman was desperate….desperate for an encounter that would change her life! The account of her story tells us that “no one could heal her.”  However, because she was an audacious woman and resolute within herself, she thought, “if only I may touch the man’s garment, I will be made well, and so she did and immediately the blood dried up and she was healed of her affliction.”

What is so significant about the hem of Jesus’ garment? At first reading, it seems an odd practice.  However, once we understand the significance of the hem of one’s garment, these passages will have much more meaning.  The word translated, hem, in Hebrew, is tzitziyot.  It means fringes or tassels.  In the Old Testament God called the sons of Israel to put fringes or tassels (tzitziyot) on the bottom of their garments (Numbers 14:37-41)

The woman on the shore of the Sea of Galilee, who came to Jesus for healing, knew this command. She knew that the tassels or fringes represented the law of God, the authority of God, and tied up in all of that are the promises of God.  In this account, the tzitziyot, or fringe tassels, were her point of contact, in order for her miracle to manifest.  Those fringed tassels represented the word of God which is always the place where we can find healing for all the needs in our life.

The fringes also represent the authority of Jesus, that He taught with authority and when He spoke, people were healed. We see in another account in the gospels, that people clung to Jesus and touched His garment. “And when the men of that place recognized Jesus, they sent out into all that surrounding region, brought to Him all who were sick, and begged Jesus that they might only touch the hem of His garment. And as many as touched His garment, were made perfectly well.”  Matthew 14:35-36

The nameless woman in the gospels had heard of Jesus. Perhaps she had heard of his power to heal and deliver and remembered the promises of old.  I imagine that she remembered these promises…released her faith… reached out…touched…and her miracle appeared!  This woman received her healing when her faith touched the power of God, the hem of Jesus’ garment, and she was made whole.

I want to be desperate and have faith as this dear woman….that I would know the promises of God so intimately that even the smallest point of contact, can help me release my faith toward God for HUGE miracles in my life and in the life of others.

I do not believe this woman had a “hunch” or that she even “hoped” that perhaps Jesus would heal her. No!  She had much more than that, she had a promise!  Promises from her God about His goodness and kindness to heal His children.

Moreover, there was another element to these fringes that most people don’t know. Another promise, found in the words of the prophet Malachi, “But for you who fear My name, the Sun of Righteousness will rise with healing in His wings”.  The word wing in Hebrew is kanaf, which is a word that specifically means the “fringe-like” feathers or edges of a bird’s wing.  Most places in the OT where kanaf is used it is referring to God.  Therefore, the place of refuge is under the kanaf of the LORD, under His word and His authority (Psalm 91:1 – “He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty”)

Read the story of Ruth and Boaz. As Ruth went to Boaz and lay at his feet on the threshing room floor, she implored him, “Take your maidservant under your wing, for you are a close relative.”  (NKJ – Ruth 3:9)

The word in Hebrew for wing is kanaf. In essence, Ruth was asking Boaz to heal her of her affliction of widowhood and abandonment – to take her as his wife.  This was a custom that was known in that culture.  Ruth was stating her belief that she knew the power of a kinsmen redeemer, to deliver her of poverty, disorder and ailment.  Boaz does indeed take Ruth as his wife and their child, Obed, is in the lineage of Christ.

In the New Covenant, through Jesus’ blood, we are taken as Christ’s bride, and His healing virtue is available to cover us, heal us and empower us for abundant life.

Take refuge under His wings my friends. Cover yourself with the hem of His garment….release your faith today to believe that Jesus can and will touch you in whatever area you have need of.

Indeed, the good news is that Jesus died and rose again to pay our debt, but the ultimate good news is finding out the true nature of who God really is. Jesus said, “If you see Me, then you have seen the Father.”  The nature of the Father is made manifest in Jesus’ ministry on this earth…..Jesus came to put a face on the Father for us.

The woman with the “issue of blood” saw the face of Yahweh, the Most High God, in Jesus, the Son of God. And she reached out and believed!

Shalom,

Lisa Roitsch

http://www.lisaroitsch.com

 

 

 

God’s Part and My Part

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“I will walk among you; I will be your God, and you will be my people.”  Leviticus 26:12

Is it really that simple?  Can the gospel truly come down to this honest truth?  That the Creator of the universe merely wants to dwell among me and be my God?  What a mind-blowing thought – one that caused me to pause, wonder and quickly grab my bible.  I found this statement, or a slight variation of it, mentioned at least 18 times in both the old and new testament.

What makes this truly remarkable is that it is only possible because of what Jesus accomplished while on this earth.  He came and dwelt among us, in the flesh, becoming like us.  He lived a perfect, sinless life, sacrificed His will to the Father’s and atoned for our sins with his body and blood.

“….because blood contains life. I have given this blood to you to make peace with me on the altar. Blood is needed to make peace with me.”  Lev. 26:12

It is because of the blood of the Messiah that we have the freedom to truly be God’s people.  And His promise back to us?  HE IS OUR GOD!

“And all of this is a gift from God, who brought us back to himself through Christ. And God has given us this task of reconciling people to Him.”  2 Corinthians 5:18

Today, I am resting in the fact that my part is to be reconciled back to the Father, through the Son.  And also to enjoy the truth that the Most High God, the creator of the universe, is my daddy!