The Queen of Heaven

The Queen of Heaven is a title given to the Blessed Virgin Mary by Christians mainly of the Roman Catholic Church, and also, to some extent, in Anglicanism and Eastern Orthodoxy, to whom the title is a (disputed) consequence of the First Council of Ephesus in the fifth century, in which the Virgin Mary was proclaimed “theotokos“, a title rendered in Latin as Mater Dei, in English as “Mother of God“.

The Catholic teaching on this subject is expressed in the papal encyclical Ad Caeli Reginam, issued by Pope Pius XII. It states that Mary is called Queen of Heaven because her son, Jesus Christ (Yeshua HaMashiach), is the king of Israel and heavenly king of the universe. The Eastern Orthodox Churches do not share the Catholic dogma, but themselves have a rich liturgical history in honor of Mary.

The title Queen of Heaven has long been a Catholic tradition, included in prayers and devotional literature, and seen in Western art in the subject of the Coronation of the Virgin, from the High Middle Ages, long before it was given a formal definition status by the Church.

According to Catholic doctrine, Mary was assumed into heaven and is with Jesus Christ, her divine Son and is represented in Book of Revelation 12 as the woman clothed with the sun who gives birth to Christ. Mary should be called Queen, not only because of her Divine Motherhood of Jesus Christ, her only Son, but also because God the Father has willed her to have an exceptional role in the work of the eternal salvation of humanity. The papal encyclical Ad Caeli Reginam, argues that as Christ, because he redeemed humankind, is its Lord and king by a special title, so the Blessed Virgin Mary is Queen, on account of the unique manner in which she assisted in the redemption of humanity by giving of her own substance, by freely offering him by her singular desire and petition for, and active interest in, human salvation.

Ad Caeli Reginam states, “The main principle on which the royal dignity of Mary rests is without doubt her Divine Motherhood. So with complete justice St. John Damascene could write: “When she became Mother of the Creator, she truly became Queen of every creature. Mary was chosen as Mother of Christ in order that she might become a partner in the redemption of the human race.”

Jeremiah the Prophet wrote, “Do you not see what they are doing in the cities of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem? The children gather wood, the fathers kindle fire, and the women knead dough, to make cakes for the queen of heaven. And they pour out drink offerings to other gods, to provoke me to anger” (Jeremiah 7:17-18 ESV).

Likewise, Jeremiah the Prophet also wrote, “Then all the men who knew that their wives had made offerings to other gods, and all the women who stood by, a great assembly, all the people who lived in Pathros in the land of Egypt, answered Jeremiah: “As for the word that you have spoken to us in the name of the LORD, we will not listen to you. But we will do everything that we have vowed, make offerings to the queen of heaven and pour out drink offerings to her, as we did, both we and our fathers, our kings and our officials, in the cities of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem. For then we had plenty of food, and prospered, and saw no disaster. But since we left off making offerings to the queen of heaven and pouring out drink offerings to her, we have lacked everything and have been consumed by the sword and by famine.” And the women said, “When we made offerings to the queen of heaven and poured out drink offerings to her, was it without our husbands’ approval that we made cakes for her bearing her image and poured out drink offerings to her?” Then Jeremiah said to all the people, men and women, all the people who had given him this answer: “As for the offerings that you offered in the cities of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem, you and your fathers, your kings and your officials, and the people of the land, did not the LORD remember them? Did it not come into his mind? The LORD could no longer bear your evil deeds and the abominations that you committed. Therefore your land has become a desolation and a waste and a curse, without inhabitant, as it is this day. It is because you made offerings and because you sinned against the LORD and did not obey the voice of the LORD or walk in his law and in his statutes and in his testimonies that this disaster has happened to you, as at this day.” Jeremiah said to all the people and all the women, “Hear the word of the LORD, all you of Judah who are in the land of Egypt. Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: You and your wives have declared with your mouths, and have fulfilled it with your hands, saying, ‘We will surely perform our vows that we have made, to make offerings to the queen of heaven and to pour out drink offerings to her.’ Then confirm your vows and perform your vows!” (Jeremiah 44:15-25 ESV).

Clearly, the Queen of Heaven existed log before the Virgin Mary or the birth of the Messiah. This title referred to Ishtar (pronounced Easter), an Assyrian and Babylonian goddess also called Ashtoreth and Astarte by various other groups. She was thought to be the wife of the Baal, also known as Molech. The motivation of women to worship Ashtoreth stemmed from her reputation as a fertility goddess, and, as the bearing of children was greatly desired among women of that era, worship of this “Queen of Heaven” was rampant among pagan civilizations. Sadly, it became popular among the Israelites as well. The title Queen of Heaven was a title given to a number of other ancient sky goddesses in the ancient Mediterranean and Near East, in particular AnatIsisInnana, and Hera. Elsewhere, Nordic Frigg also bore this title. In Greco-Roman times Hera, and her Roman aspect Juno bore this title. Forms and content of worship varied.

Jesus publicly rebuked a woman who blessed the Virgin Mary, “As he said these things, a woman in the crowd raised her voice and said to him, “Blessed is the womb that bore you, and the breasts at which you nursed.” But he said, “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and keep it” (Luke 11:27-28 ESV).

There is no Queen of Heaven. There has never been a Queen of Heaven. There is most certainly a King of Heaven, the Lord of Hosts, Jehovah. He alone rules in heaven. He does not share His rule or His throne or His authority with anyone. The idea that Mary, the mother of Jesus, is the Queen of Heaven has no scriptural basis whatsoever, stemming instead from proclamations of priests and popes of the Roman Catholic Church. While Mary was certainly a godly young woman greatly blessed in that she was chosen to bear the Savior of the world, she was not in any way divine, nor was she sinless, nor is she to be worshiped, revered, venerated, or prayed to in any way.

Two Birds, One Stone, and a Mustard Seed

Semina Sinapis NigraeThe Parable of the Mustard Seed is one of the shorter parables of Yeshua HaMashiach (Jesus Christ). It appears in three of the Canonical Gospels of the New Testament (B’rit Chadashah).

“Whereunto shall we liken the kingdom of God? or with what comparison shall we compare it? It is like a grain of mustard seed, which, when it is sown in the earth, is less [G3398] than all the seeds that be in the earth: But when it is sown, it groweth up, and becometh greater [G3187] than all herbs, and shooteth out great branches; so that the fowls of the air may lodge under the shadow of it” (Mark 4:30-32 KJV).

Most people who have read this parable and concluded that the size (amount) of the mustard seed represents the amount of faith a Christian must have to please God (Jehovah). Some have taken the mustard seed under the microscope and argued about whether it really is the smallest of seeds. Secular critics of Biblical literature have used this parable to attempt to demonstrate that Yeshua was in error because the mustard seed is not the smallest seed in the world. This kind of skeptical criticism overlooks and, as a result, misses the point and the lesson in the parable.

The plant referred to in this parable (which is paralleled in the Gospel of Matthew and the Gospel of Luke) is generally considered to be the black mustard, a large annual plant up to ten to twelve feet tall with a stout central stem and strong branches. It bears yellow flowers producing minute seeds. In actuality the seed is so small that when it is incorporated into jewelry, the makers encase it in a glass globe the size of a marble, which serves to magnify the seed so it may be easily seen. According to rabbinical sources, Jews did not grow this plant in gardens, and this is consistent with Matthew’s description of it being sown in a field. Luke tells the parable with the plant in a garden instead, presumably recasting the story for an audience outside Israel. Yeshua was not comparing the mustard seed to all other seeds in the world, but to seeds that a local farmer might have sown in his field. It is absolutely true that the black mustard seed was the smallest seed ever sown by a first-century farmer in that part of the world. The black mustard seed was a small seed, well known to the audience and the very soul of a proverbial expression with which they would already be familiar. Though there are smaller seeds in the world (epiphytic orchids), is there a better illustration or would it grow into so large a plant in the Israel of Yeshua’s day? Even if there is a larger garden plant, would it be known to the audience of the parable?

Many Christians immediate reaction to this parable is a blend of relief and shame. It is reassuring to know that even a minute amount of faith is so powerful. On the other hand, this parable makes Christians ponder exactly how much faith they actually have. What if your faith isn’t even the size of a mustard seed?  How much is a epiphytic orchid’s sized amount of faith worth?  What if you need an electron microscope to see your faith? These comparisons of quantity and size can actually lead to discouragement for many people. Many Christians also feel chastened by this parable. I don’t believe Yeshua intended for this parable to be a chastisement. I believe Yeshua is actually encouraging us that no matter how meager our faith may initially appear, that tiny little speck is the beginning of our path to completeness and joy. God takes us where we are, loves us as we are, and makes us His own.

The mustard seed, one of the world’s smallest of seeds produces a large tree. Likewise, it is the same with the Kingdom of God. A small seed when planted in good soil produces amazing growth, both in individuals and in the Kingdom of God taken as a whole. What can mustard seeds teach us about the Kingdom of God? The tiny mustard seed literally grew to be a tree which attracted numerous birds because they loved the little black mustard seed it produced. God’s kingdom works in a similar fashion. It starts from the smallest beginnings in the hearts of men and women who are receptive to God’s word. It works unseen and causes a transformation from within. Just as a seed has no power to change itself until it is planted in the ground, we cannot truly change our lives until God gives us the power of His Holy Spirit (Ruach HaKodesh).

This parable isn’t necessarily a size comparison between our faith and a mustard seed. It is the characteristic of the mustard seed that matters. In Israel, the mustard seed is an incredibly invasive plant that can grow quite large (unlike other parts of the world) and its characteristics include growing in the worst soil conditions and being able to lift obstructions like large concrete blocks and entire roadways out of the way because of its strength. Therefore, this parable was meant as encouragement telling us to have the characteristic of the mustard seed (pushing through even in difficult times and poor growing conditions), not that we had to have faith the size (amount) of a mustard seed.

The olive seed was sown and was transformed into a tree. The tree grew and produced out branches. The tree attracted birds because they loved the seeds that the tree produced and the tree provided shelter to the birds. The Bible tells us that Christians (Gentiles) are the branches and that the root (tree) is a representative of the Jewish people (Romans 11). The seeds (fruit) of the olive tree represents Salvation that was provided to all of mankind through the Gospels and the text of the Old Testament (Tanakh) and the New Testament. The doctrine of free will teaches that it is up to us to accept the fruit as nourishment. The birds and branches of the parable represents nations and gentiles. Once the birds have eaten the fruit of the olive tree and taken shelter from the olive tree, they become part of the olive tree. Christians are now also included and considered to be the heirs to the promise and the seed of Abraham (Galatians 3). Without faith it is impossible to please God (Hebrews 11:6).

The parable isn’t meant to discourage anyone and it is not a chastisement. The parable is meant to encourage Christians so that their faith will grow. We aren’t supposed to compare the size of our mustard seed or to count how many mustard seeds one might have. We are supposed to work tirelessly until we enter the Kingdom of God, even in difficult times or under persecution or threat of persecution.

The Pagan Origins of Saint Valentine’s Day

Saint Valentine’s Day is a holiday observed on 14th of February honoring one or more early Christian martyrs named Saint Valentine. It is traditionally a day on which lovers express their love for each other by presenting flowers, offering confectionery, and sending greeting cards (known as “valentines”).

But what are the real origins of Saint Valentine’s Day? Is it really a Christian holiday as claimed by many churches and believers?

First, let’s examine the etymology of the word holiday. The word holiday derived from the notion of “Holy Day”, and gradually evolved to its current form. The word holiday comes from the Middle English word hāligdæg, which originally referred only to special religious days. It was a combination of the word meaning “holy” and the word meaning “day”. In modern use, it means any special day of rest or relaxation, as opposed to normal days away from work or school.

At least three different Saint Valentines, all of them martyrs, are mentioned in the early martyrologies . One is described as a priest at Rome, another as bishop of Interamna (modern Terni), and these two seem both to have suffered in the second half of the third century and to have been buried on the Flaminian Way, but at different distances from the city. In William of Malmesbury’s time what was known to the ancients as the Flaminian Gate of Rome and is now the Porta del Popolo, was called the Gate of St. Valentine. The name seems to have been taken from a small church dedicated to the saint which was in the immediate neighborhood. Both of these Saint Valentines some are listed in the Acts of the Martyrs, but they are of relatively late date and of no historical value. Concerning the third Saint Valentine, who suffered in Africa with a number of companions, nothing further is known.

The Catholic Encyclopedia says, “The popular customs associated with Saint Valentine’s Day undoubtedly had their origin in a conventional belief generally received in England and France during the Middle Ages, that on 14th of February, half way through the second month of the year, the birds began to pair.”

In Chaucer’s Parliament of Foules it says, “For this was sent on Saint Valentine’s Day, when every foul cometh there to choose his mate.”

For this reason the day was looked upon as specially consecrated to lovers and as a proper occasion for writing love letters and sending lovers’ tokens. Both the French and English literatures of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries contain allusions to the practice. Perhaps the earliest to be found is in the 34th and 35th Ballades of the bilingual poet, John Gower, written in French; but Lydgate and Clauvowe supply other examples. Those who chose each other under these circumstances seem to have been called by each other their Valentines.

In the Paston Letters, Dame Elizabeth Brews writes about a match she hopes to make for her daughter, addressing the favored suitor, “And, cousin mine, upon Monday is Saint Valentine’s Day and every bird chooses himself a mate, and if it like you to come on Thursday night, and make provision that you may abide till then, I trust to God that ye shall speak to my husband and I shall pray that we may bring the matter to a conclusion.” Shortly after the young lady herself wrote a letter to the same man that said, “Unto my rightwell beloved Valentine, John Paston Esquire”. The custom of choosing and sending valentines has fallen into comparative desuetude.

So Saint Valentine’s Day was recognized as a holiday by the Catholic Church. Sounds pretty tame, right? Not really, there is a deeper much darker past to this holiday. A past the Catholic Church and the Catholic Encyclopedia conveniently left out of their texts, a past most Christians are completely unaware exists.

As an estimated one billion cards (Greetings Card Association estimate) are exchanged this Saint Valentine’s Day, the truth is that Saint Valentine’s Day is an ancient Pagan custom that the Catholic Church has tried to hide from you. Saint Valentines Day is the is the Lupercalia Festival, the Pagan Roman festival of fertility.

The Lupercalia Festival was a very ancient pastoral festival, observed on February 13 through 15 to avert evil spirits and purify the city, releasing health and fertility. Lupercalia absorbed and expanded the Februa Festival, an earlier-origin spring cleansing ritual held on the same date, which gives the month of February its name.

In Roman mythology, Lupercus is a god sometimes identified with the Roman god Faunus, who is the Roman equivalent of the Greek god Pan. Lupercus is the god of shepherds. His festival, celebrated on the anniversary of the founding of his temple on the 15th of February was called the Lupercalia. His priests wore goatskins. The historian Justin mentions an image of  “the Lycaean god, whom the Greeks call Pan and the Romans Lupercus,” nude save for the girdle of goatskin, which stood in the Lupercal, the cave where Romulus and Remus were suckled by a she-wolf. There, on the Ides of February (in February the ides is the 13th), a goat and a dog were sacrificed, and salt mealcakes prepared by the Vestal Virgins were burnt.

The 14th of February was the day specially set aside for love lotteries in Pagan Rome. It was a holiday devoted to Juno, Queen of the Gods, and patroness of marriage. The 14th of February was also the day on which young girls’ names were written on slips of paper and thrown into jars to be picked out by the boys. Chooser and chosen would then be partnered for the duration of the Lupercalia Festival. Such arbitrary pairings often resulted in lasting relationships. The Catholic Church later substituted the names of dead saints in place of those of flesh-and-blood girls to subvert the lusty Pagan practices.

The Lupercalia Festival proper began on the 15th of February with animal sacrifice and ritual flagellation. After slaughtering a goat and dog in the sacred grotto of the she-wolf who suckled the legendary founders of Rome, the young men would run through the streets whipping women and crops with the flayed hide of the goat to promote fertility. Archaeological evidence suggests that the Lupercalia Festival, far from being restricted to Rome, was practiced in other cities in Italy and Gaul.

Dating from remotest antiquity, the Lupercalia Festival was celebrated until as late as the reign of Anastasius I in 491-518 AD. It was towards the end of the 5th century in 498 AD that Pope Galesius decided to dedicate the Eve of Lupercalia to the long-dead priest. The lottery system was banned as being Pagan and the Pope did his best to make people forget about other Pagan ideas such as fertility.

However, the Pagan principles of the people proved irrepressible. Memories of the Roman Lupercalia Festival combined with folklore beliefs in Britain and France that the 14th of February marked the beginning of the mating season amongst birds to ensure that this day would persist in the popular imagination as a day of love.

Why send a card and why make it anonymous? Either we believe one of the Christian legends and accept that we all celebrate the giving of a love token of 3rd century priest by sending a replica, or look deeper into the significances of giving and anonymity. The act of giving, stripped of any moral sentiment, is usually one of status modification, for example, how many times do you hear people boasting of how they give to charity? However, in this instance the giver’s identity is carefully concealed. The card itself acts simply as the vehicle of the giver’s desire. The message that accompanies such cards is most often in the imperative, “Be My Valentine”,” Be My Love”, etc. The structure of this exchange is remarkably similar to many magical formulas.

Saint Valentine’s Day has absolutely nothing to do with a Christian saint, but everything to do with kinky Pagan sex rituals. After reading this article, if you ever ask someone to be your Valentine, don’t forget that you are engaging in an ancient Pagan fertility ritual and also dabbling in black magic.

Even after the Catholic Church replaced Lupercus with Saint Valentine and recast Cupid into a cherub, the Lupercalia Festival continues much as it had before. The change of the name serves as the only contribution that Christians brought to Saint Valentine’s Day.

It’s not possible to Christianize a Pagan holiday. To attempt to do so is entirely against everything the Scriptures teach us. The Apostle Paul wrote, “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty” (2 Corinthians 6:14-18 KJV).

The Prophet Jeremiah wrote, “Thus saith the LORD, Learn not the way of the heathen, and be not dismayed at the signs of heaven; for the heathen are dismayed at them” (Jeremiah 10:2 KJV).

In the Torah, God made a revelation to Moses which he wrote down for future generations. Moses wrote, “Be careful to hear all these words which I command you, so that it may go well with you and with your sons after you forever, when you do the good and right in the sight of Jehovah your God. When Jehovah your God shall cut off the nations before you, where you go to possess them, and you take their place and dwell in their land, take heed to yourself that you do not become snared by following them, after they are destroyed from before you, and that you do not ask about their gods, saying, How did these nations serve their gods, that I too may do likewise? You shall not do so to Jehovah your God. For every abomination to Jehovah, which He hates, they have done to their gods; even their sons and their daughters they have burned in the fire to their gods. All the things I command you, be careful to do it. You shall not add to it, nor take away from it” (Deuteronomy 12:28-32 MKJV).

The Apostle Paul warned the Galatians that those who practiced Pagan rituals would never inherit the Kingdom of God. He wrote, “Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God” (Galatians 5:19-21 KJV).

In his first epistle to the Corinthians, the Apostle Paul wrote, “You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons; you cannot be partakers of the Lord’s table and of a table of demons. Or do we provoke the Lord to jealousy? Are we stronger than He?” (1 Corinthians 10:21-22 MKJV).

All Paganism is Satanism. Satan is behind all Pagan rituals and practices. Whenever someone observes a Pagan holiday, the fact is they are actually participating in Satan Worship. Many ancient Pagan holidays have been cleverly disguised, sugar-coated, re-packaged and sold to Christians as though they had spiritual value. God cannot be worshiped, served, pleased or honored  with Pagan rituals and Satanic holidays, even if they have been Christianized. God seeks only those willing to worship Him in spirit and in truth (John 4:24).

Freedom From Bondage

God promised to deliver Israel from the burdens of Egypt. The good news of salvation is that, through faith in Yeshua, the burdens of our sins can be removed. Instead of sin we have forgiveness. Instead of guilt we have joy. Instead of condemnation, we have vindication. Instead of death and judgment, we have the gift of eternal life and grace.

God spoke to Moses and said to him, “I am JEHOVAH. I appeared to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, as EL SHADDAI, but by my name JEHOVAH I did not make myself known to them. I also established my covenant with them to give them the land of Canaan, the land in which they lived as sojourners. Moreover, I have heard the groaning of the people of Israel whom the Egyptians hold as slaves, and I have remembered my covenant. Say therefore to the people of Israel, ‘I am JEHOVAH, and I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, and I will deliver you from slavery to them, and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with great acts of judgment. I will take you to be my people, and I will be your God, and you shall know that I am JEHOVAH your ELOHIM, who has brought you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians. I will bring you into the land that I swore to give to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob. I will give it to you for a possession. I am JEHOVAH.'”
(Exodus 6:2-8)