St. Patrick’s Day

Here are some questions.  Who was this Patrick?  What is the origin of this day?  What should Christians think about this day?

Who was this Patrick?  He lived in the fourth and fifth centuries.  He was born either in Romano-Britain, Wales, or Scotland.  His birth name was Maelwyn.  He was kidnapped at the age of 16 and sold as a slave in Ireland, where he worked as a shepherd.  After 6 years, he escaped and eventually made his way home.  He returned to Ireland 20 years later as an evangelist, and using the name Patricius (the name change may have occurred in a monastery in Britain).  He labored in Ireland for about 30 years, dying on March 17, 461 A.D.  He is credited with bringing Christianity to Ireland.  Though, he was not the first to have tried (These are generally accepted facts.  See – Who is St. Patrick?,; Saint Patrick by Joshua J. Mark,; St. Patrick: The Man, The Myth by Lisa Bitel,; 8 St. Patrick Day Facts You Never Knew Before by Diane J. Cho, 

There are many later legends.  It is difficult to separate the truth from fiction.        What about driving the snakes out of Ireland?  There is no evidence that Ireland ever had snakes.  Many believe that this is symbolic.  “The legend of St. Patrick driving the snakes out of Ireland has to do with the Christian triumph over pagan beliefs, not literal snakes” (; Also, 10 Things to Know About the Real St. Patrick,            

What Patrick a Roman Catholic?  This is claimed by the Roman Catholic church.  Others do not agree.  Keith Sisman writes, “The Celtic Church that Patrick evangelized for… would be taken over and forced into submission to Rome over many decades… Ireland did not become truly Roman Catholic until in the reign of Henry the Second, who was crowned King of England in 1154.  Shortly after his coronation, Henry sent an embassy to the newly elected Pope Adrian IV.  Led by Bishop Arnold of Lisieux, the group of clerics requested authorization for Henry to invade Ireland.  After the invasion the Irish Church finally came under the control of the Pope, nearly seven hundred years after the death of ‘Saint’ Patrick” (Keith Sisman, Traces of the Kingdom, p. 82).  Philip Schaff writes, “The Roman tradition that St. Patrick was sent by Pope Caelestine (Celestine I, B.H.) is too late to have any claim upon our acceptance, and is set aside of St. Patrick himself in his genuine works” (Philip Schaff, History of the Christian Church, Vol. 4, p. 45).  His doctrine seems to differ from what Roman Catholics today teach.  Gerald Foster writes, “Patrick believed in teaching before baptism, ‘for it cannot be that the body should receive the sacrament of baptism before the soul receives the verity of faith’” (Gerald Foster, Following the Denomination Called Baptist, p. 130 quoting Patrick’s Government Tripartite Life).  Keith Sisman writes, “Patrick… baptized believers by immersion… denied purgatory and taught the Lord’s supper as a memorial” (Traces of the Kingdom, p. 82).  Philip Schaff writes, “The Christianity of Patrick was substantially that of Gaul and old Britain i.e. catholic, orthodox, monastic, ascetic, but independent of the Pope, and differing from Rome in the age of Gregory I in minor matters of polity and ritual.  In his confession he never mentions Rome or the Pope; he never appeals to tradition, and seems to recognize the scriptures… as the only authority in matters of faith” (History of the Christian Church, Vol. 4, p. 47).  It is not certain that St. Patrick should be considered a Roman Catholic.  I believe that Roman Catholicism developed later.

What is the origin of St. Patrick’s Day?  “The March 17 celebration started in 1631 when the church established a Feast Day honoring St. Patrick” (The True History Behind St. Patrick’s Day,  “Until the 1700’s, St. Patrick’s Day was a Roman Catholic feast only observed in Ireland and without the raucous revelry of today’s celebrations.  Instead, the faithful spent the relatively somber occasion in quiet prayer at church or at home.  That started to change when Irish immigrants living in the United States began organizing parades and other events on March 17 as a show of pride.  For many people around the world, St. Patrick’s Day has evolved into a secular ode to Irish culture… characterized by parties, music and iconic food” (St. Patrick’s Day Legends and Myths Debunked by Jennie Cohen,  The day seems to have become an excuse for a party. 

What should Christians think about this day?  (1) While there is nothing wrong with enjoying a culture’s food and music, we are to avoid drunkenness (Galatians 5:19-21; 1 Corinthians 6:9-11).  (2) We should focus on Christ and not men, religiously speaking.  “Who then is Paul and who is Apollos, but ministers through whom you believed…?” (1 Corinthians 3:5).

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Stand In the Gap

The city of Constantinople (modern Istanbul) was well protected.  It was positioned on a horn or peninsula that was surrounded by water.  It could be reached from the Black Sea, in the north, by the Bosporus strait.  It could be reached from the Mediterranean and Aegean Seas, in the south, by the Dardanelles strait and the Sea of Marmara.  These narrow straits made it easy to defend from naval attack.

It was fortified on land by walls.  Constantine the Great surrounded his new capital with walls in the 4th century.  Theodosius II further fortified the city in the 5th century.  Triple walls were built.  “Attackers first faced a 20-meter wide and 7-meter-deep ditch which could be flooded with water fed from pipes when required.  The water, once in, was retained by a series of dams.  Behind that was an outer wall which had a patrol track to oversee the moat.  Behind this was a second wall which had regular towers and an interior terrace so as to provide a firing platform to shoot down an enemies’ attacking the moat and first wall.  Then, behind this was a third, much more massive inner wall.  This final defense was almost 5 meters thick, 12 meters high, and presented to the enemy 96 projecting towers.  Each tower was placed around 70 meters distant from another and reach a height of 20 meters.  The towers, either square or octagon in form, could hold up to three artillery machines.  The inner wall was constructed using bricks and limestone blocks while the outer two were built from mixed rubble and brick courses with limestone facing” (Theodosian Walls,

In the mid-5th century, the walls of the city were severely damaged by a series of earthquakes.  The city was under danger from Attila and the Huns.  Something needed to be done quickly.  However, it had taken years to build these defenses.  “Theodosius II ordered the praetorian perfect, Constantine Flavius quickly repaired the walls… Constantine Flavius reached out to the factions of the chariot teams for aid, gathering a work force of some 16,000 supporters.  Each faction was tasked with a stretch of wall, working in competition to complete their section before the other, winning the honor of victory for their team…  In just sixty days, the great walls of Constantinople were restored, and the defensive moat was cleaned of debris… Hearing of the completion of the walls, the Huns abandoned their plans for conquest” (How Chariot Racing Teams Saved Constantine from The Huns,; also See Fall of Civilization: Byzantium, YouTube).  What a brilliant plan.  A competition between the Blues and the Greens was much like calling on Dallas Cowboy fans and Houston Texan fans, or Texas Ranger fans and Houston Astro fans to compete for team pride (Except, a far more intense rivalry existed. There was class difference. The Blues fans came from the richer part of society. The Greens fans came from the more common part of society. Each team was also tied to a political party). 

City walls were important.  With this in mind, let’s consider a passage from the book of Ezekiel.

So I sought for a man among them who would make a wall, and stand in the gap before Me on behalf of the land, that I should not destroy it; but I found no one” (Ezekiel 22:30).

The faithful are to a land like a wall against the wrath of God.  Wayne Jackson comments, “Using speech common to mankind, Jehovah said He had searched for some valid reason for not destroying this population, but none was to be found (v. 30)!” (Wayne Jackson, The Prophets, p. 285).  Jim McGuiggan comments, “There is a breach in the wall of Jerusalem and God is headed for it, to enter the city and utterly destroy it.  As he approaches it he is hoping that someone will stand in the breach… But no one cared enough… It isn’t literally true that there wasn’t a single righteous man in the nation at the time… There was Jeremiah, Baruch and others who came to Jeremiah’s aid.  This is simply a powerful way of saying that righteousness had died in the nation” (Jim McGuiggan, The Book of Ezekiel, p. 242).  The righteous may have a preserving effect on a land (cf. Genesis 18:16-32; 39:5; 2 Kings 3:14; Acts 27:21-26, 42-43). 

What are we doing to help save others from the wrath of God?  Are we seeking to live holy lives?  Are we seeking to warn others?  Do we care?  Will we stand in the gap? Will we build the wall of protection?

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Ezekiel’s Vision (Ezekiel 1-3)

Have you ever noticed how many times it is that before God sends a messenger, He first impresses the messenger with a glimpse of His glory?  Here are some examples: (1) Moses (Exodus 3); (2) Isaiah (Isaiah 6); (3) Ezekiel (Ezekiel 1); (4) Saul (Acts 9).  In this writing, we will consider Ezekiel’s vision.


Ezekiel saw a storm coming from the north (Ezekiel 1:4).  God’s wrath was coming on Jerusalem from the north (cf. Jeremiah 4:5-6, 13; 23:19-20).  Babylon would come from the north (cf. Jeremiah 1:14-16; 6:1; 25:8-9, 11). 

Ezekiel saw, within the storm, four living creatures (Ezekiel 1:5-14, ff).  These creatures had four faces (Man=possible reference to intelligence.  Lion=possible reference to ferocity or strength, apex predator.  Ox=possible reference to strength, endurance.  Eagle=possible reference to swiftness, good eyesight, apex bird of prey).  Their feet were like calves feet (possible meaning strong, not tender).  These creatures were cherubim (cf. Ezekiel 10:15, 20).    

Ezekiel saw these creatures pulling a chariot or wagon (Ezekiel 1:15-21, ff).  There were four wheels, each was like a wheel within a wheel (possibly suggesting the ability to move in any direction). However, it was moving straight from the north (Ezekiel 1:9, 12, 17; 10:22).  The wheels were full of eyes (possibly suggesting awareness, alertness, vigilance).  The chariot or wagon was God’s chariot or battle wagon (cf. Ezekiel 1:22-28; Psalm 18:10; Isaiah 19:1; 2 Samuel 22:11; 1 Chronicles 28:18).

Nebuchadnezzar (Babylon) was coming.  However, he was only an instrument in the hands of an angry God (cf. Jeremiah 25:8-9, 12; 27:6; 43:10; 51:20-24, etc.). 

Ezekiel saw the throne of God, and got a glimpse of the glory of the LORD (Ezekiel 1:22-28).  It overwhelmed him.  He said, “So when I saw it, I fell on my face…” (Ezekiel 1:28b).

The vision prepared Ezekiel for his work.  Frank Chesser has written, “When Ezekiel saw the cherubim of God (Ezekiel 1:4-14), the chariot of God (vv. 15-21), and the throne of God (vv. 22-28), he was changed forever.  His mind was as open and receptive to every word from God as are lungs to the air they breathe. Viewing the symbolic siege of Jerusalem (4:1-3) as ‘child’s play,’ physical posture (4:4-8), diet restrictions (4:9-15), and the expunging his hair and beard with a sword, knife, and fire (5:1-4) as unreasonable, and the death of his wife as cruel (24:15-28) were alien thoughts to the mind of Ezekiel. On his face and trembling before God, as he is portrayed in this chapter, Ezekiel was left with Samuel’s spirit who exclaimed, ‘Speak; for thy servant heareth’ (1 Samuel 3:10). The momentous nature of this vison of God and Ezekiel’s need of it is seen in its multiple occurrences in the book” (Frank Chesser, The Man of Chebar, p. 15-16). 

It is interesting to note that the one on the throne was in the likeness of a man (Ezekiel 1:26).  Could this be a reference to Jesus? 


Ezekiel was showed a scroll and told to consume it (Ezekiel 2:8-3:3).  He was to eat the book before speaking to others.  God told him, “Eat this scroll, and go, speak to the house of Israel” (Ezekiel 3:1).  Ezekiel said, “So I ate, and it was in my mouth like honey in sweetness.  Then He said to me: ‘Son of man, go to the house of Israel and speak with My words to them’” (Ezekiel 3:3-4).  One cannot teach what he does not know. 


“Son of man, I have made you a watchman for the house of Israel; therefore hear a word from My mouth, and give them warning from Me” (Ezekiel 3:17).  It was time to get to work.  Go speak “My words to them” (Ezekiel 3:4).

Ezekiel is called “Son of Man.”  This phrase is applied to him more than 90 times in this book.  Daniel is also referred to this way (cf. Daniel 8:17).  Jesus is also so described, usually self-described (e.g. Mark 2:10; John 3:14; Matthew 16:13).  The language is of humanity (e.g. Numbers 23:19; Psalm 8:4; 144:3-4; Isaiah 51:12; 56:2).  Every preacher should understand that he too is a man.  The message applies to him (cf. Romans 2:21-24).    He too is accountable (cf. Ezekiel 3:17-19; Acts 20:28; 1 Timothy 4:16; 2 Timothy 4:1-2).

Wise Application

It is important that one gain an understanding of who God is.  God reveals Himself today to us in three ways: (1) by nature (cf. Psalm 19:1-6; Romans 1:20); (2) by scripture (cf. Psalm 19:7-11; Acts 17:22-34; 1 John 4:8); and (3) through Jesus (John 1:18; 6:46; 14:8-9).  Understanding who God is will motivate and embolden one to speak God’s word. 

One should feed upon God’s word (cf. Job 23:12; Psalm 19:10; Matthew 4:4 cf. Deuteronomy 8:3; 2 Timothy 2:15; Hebrews 5:12-14; 1 Peter 2:1-2).  One cannot teach what he does not know.  If we truly care about others, we should prepare ourselves to teach.

It is needful for us to get to work.  Ever learning and never proclaiming is not enough.  The members of the early church “went everywhere preaching the word” (Acts 8:4).  So should we.  Where is the evidence that God is pleased with any less?

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Isaiah’s Vision (Isaiah 6)

When one get a glimpse of the glory of God, it can change his life.  It may change how one views himself.  It may change how one views others.  It did for Isaiah.

Look Up

Isaiah had a vision of the LORD (Isaiah 6:1-4).  He saw the LORD on His throne, high and lifted up.  Seraphim were praising Him, “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts; The whole earth is full of His glory!”  They covered themselves before Him.  The doorposts of the house (temple) shook in His presence.  The house was filled with smoke (perhaps, representing His awesome nature and unapproachableness cf. Exodus 19:18; 20:18; 40:34-35; 1 Kings 8:10-11; 2 Chronicles 5:13-14; or His wrath cf. 2 Samuel 22:9; Psalm 18:8).

This vision occurred “in the year King Uzziah died” (Isaiah 6:1).  Uzziah was a good king for many years (2 Chronicles 26:1-5).  Pride led to his downfall.  “When he was strong his heart was lifted up, to his destruction…” (2 Chronicles 26:16).  He was afflicted with leprosy and died a horrible death (2 Chronicles 26:16-23).  What a contrast.  Isaiah sees the LORD in glory.  No earthly king can compare. 

It seems possible that the One Isaiah saw was actually the pre-incarnate Jesus (cf. John 12:37-43).  Divine language is used many times of Jesus.  He is the heart-searcher (Revelation 2:23 cf. Jeremiah 11:20; 17:10; 20:12), the first and the last (Revelation 1:10; 1:17-18; 2:8; 22:12-13 cf. Isaiah 41:4; 44:6-8; 48:12-13), and the I am (John 8:58 cf. Exodus 3:14).  Furthermore, observe Peter’s reaction to Jesus (Luke 5:8 cf. Isaiah 6:5). 

Look In and Around

The vision had an effect on how Isaiah saw himself.  He said in reaction to the vision, “Woe is me, for I am undone” (damah) means “cease, cause to cease, cut off, destroy” (Brown-Driver-Briggs-Gesenius, cf. Hosea 4:6; Obadiah 5).  He continued, “Because I am a man of unclean lips” (Isaiah 6:5).  By “unclean,” he meant defiled, impure, out of place in the presence of the LORD (cf. Leviticus 13:45-46). 

The vision also had an effect on how Isaiah saw others.  He said, “And I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, The LORD of hosts” (Isaiah 6:5).  Isaiah saw man’s impurity before God.  Why the emphasis on “unclean lips”?  Perhaps, it is “because he found himself transported into the midst of the choir of being who were praising the Lord with pure lips” (Keil & Delizsch). 

We generally think of “Woe” as something not good.  It is frequently associated with judgment, or warning of judgment, or rebuke.

However, in Isaiah’s case it is good.  It is an expression of humility.  It preceded forgiveness.  It preceded his commission as a prophet.   

Look Up

The LORD provided forgiveness (Isaiah 6:6-7).  Only God can forgive sin (cf. Psalm 32:5; Isaiah 43:25; Mark 2:7).  A Seraph took a coal/or stone from the altar to accomplish this.  The altar is either the altar of incense (Exodus 30:1-10 cf. Revelation 8:3), or the altar of burnt – offerings (Leviticus 1:1-17; 6:8-13; 9:24).  God provided the remedy for sin.  It seems reasonable to infer that Isaiah sought the forgiveness that only God could provide.  It is clear that salvation is from God.  The name “Isaiah” itself means “Jehovah is salvation.” 

Look Out

Isaiah’s vision had an effect on his sense of duty.  He said, “Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying: ‘Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?’ Then I said, ‘Here am I!  Send me.” (Isaiah 6:8-9).  Those who are saved should try to save others.

One writer summed it up this way: “From this we can learn: (1) That man, defiled by sin, is unfit and unworthy to serve and worship God; he is unfit to carry the message of God to others.  (2) That only God can cleanse us from these sins and make us fit to serve Him.  (3) That men who have been cleansed by the power of God should not allow their past to keep them from serving God (Lester Kamp, Houston College of Bible Lectureship, editor David Brown, Isaiah, p. 113 quoting the 1957 Gospel Advocate’s Annual Lesson Commentary, pp. 85-86).

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More Woes in Isaiah

The word “woe” appears 21 times in the book of Isaiah.  The word “woe” is an interjection of sorrow or grief.  It is sometimes used as a warning.  We have considered six of these “woes,” which occur in Isaiah 5, in a previous article.  Let us now consider more “woes” which occur in this book.

1. “Woe to those who decree unrighteous decrees, who write misfortunes, which they have prescribed to rob the needy of justice, and to take what is right from the poor of My people that the widow may be their prey, and they may rob the fatherless” (Isaiah 10:1-2).

Judah was filled with self-interested, corrupt leadership (e.g. Isaiah 1:21-23; 5:22-23; 9:13-14; 10:1-2; 56:9-12).  They served their own interest, and not the people’s.  They perverted justice.  They legislated and adjudicated in such a way as to legalize robbery.

Many believe that if it is legal, it is right.  However, this is not how God looked at it.  He desired justice (e.g. Exodus 23:3; Deuteronomy 16:18-19; Psalm 82).

Question: How are we using our position in life?  Are we treating others as God would have us? (Matthew 7:12; Colossians 4:1). 

2.  “Woe to the crown of pride, to the drunkards of Ephraim, whose glorious beauty is a fading flower…”  (Isaiah 28:1).

This was addressed to Israel, and not Judah.  They had a prideful and arrogant heart (cf. Isaiah 9:9-10).  They trusted in themselves and not God.  Wayne Jackson commented, “Even though the northern kingdom had already suffered some destruction from the hands of the Assyrians (2 Kings 15:29), they had not repented.  In fact, they viewed the matter rather lightly and simply vowed to rebuild” (Wayne Jackson, The Prophets, p. 22 – Commentary on Isaiah 9:8-12).  Again, “Though, the nation gloated over its economic prosperity (‘crown of pride’), it actually was a fading flower – a condition precipitated by the godless debauchery of the people (Amos 4:1; 6:6)” (ibid, p. 47).

Let us remember, “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall” (Proverbs 16:18).  May we “walk humbly with… God” (Micah 6:8). 

3.  “Woe to Ariel, to Ariel, the city where David dwelt!  Add year to year; let feasts come around” (Isaiah 29:1).

“Ariel” refers to Jerusalem.  It is translated “altar” (KJV) or “altar hearth” (NKJV) in Ezekiel 43:15.  People came to Jerusalem to worship year after year.

However, God was not pleased with their worship.  Worship without holiness does not please Him (Isaiah 1:11-15).  They needed to repent (Isaiah 1:16-23).  Moreover, worship without heart devotion and truth does not please Him (Isaiah 29:13).

How does God view our worship?  Are we seeking to live holy lives?  Are we worshipping in spirit and in truth (John 4:24)?

4.  “Woe to those who seek deep to hide their counsel from the LORD, and their works are in darkness; They say, ‘Who sees us?’ and ‘Who knows us?’” (Isaiah 29:15).

The context seems to refer to their seeking help from Egypt.  Wayne Jackson suggests, “Isaiah now exposes the secret plans of the Jews – their plot to form an alliance with Egypt for protection from Judah” (ibid, p. 50).  This seems to fit (cf. Isaiah 30:1-2, 6-7; 31:1).

May we never forget that it is impossible to hide anything from God. Consider: Psalm 139; Proverbs 15:3; Ecclesiastes 12:14; Mark 12:36; Romans 2:16; 1 Timothy 5:24-25; Romans 2:16.

5.  “‘Woe to the rebellious children’  says the Lord, ‘Who take counsel, but not of Me, and who devise plans, but not of My spirit that they may add sin to sin; who walk down to Egypt, and have not asked My advice” (Isaiah 30:1-2).

They did not want God’s advice.  Why not?   Was it because they lacked faith in God?  Could it be that they wanted protection without repentance (cf. Isaiah 30:8-11)?  Notice the words “that they may add sin to sin.”  Does this denote the cause of them seeking help from Egypt?   Or, does this denote the effect (cf. Jeremiah 2:13)?  I am inclined to believe that they went to Egypt because they wanted protection without repentance (cf. Isaiah 30:8-11).    Here are a few questions.  Where do we turn for counsel?  Do we want to hear what He says on a matter?  Do we trust His word?

6.  “Woe to those who go down to Egypt for help and rely on horses, who trust in chariots because they are many, and in horsemen because they are very strong, but who do not look to the Holy one of Israel, nor seek the LORD!” (Isaiah 31:1). 

Egypt would not be able to help them (cf. Isaiah 19:4; 20:3-6).  They were placing their trust in the wrong place.

Where do we place our trust?  David said, “Some trust in chariots, and some in horses; but we will remember the name of the LORD our God” (Psalm 20:7).

7.  “Woe to you who plunder though you have not been plundered; and you who deal treacherously, though they have not dealt treacherously with you!” (Isaiah 33:1).

This message was for Assyria.  Though God used Assyria, He was not pleased with this kingdom (Isaiah 10:5-7, 12-14; Jeremiah 5:18).

There is a great lesson in this.  One’s success in life is not necessarily an indication that one is pleasing to God.  Assyria appeared to be prospering.  However, Assyria was not pleasing to God. 

Another lesson is that one should not ruthlessly oppress and run over others.  God cares how we treat others.  We are to pursue peace (Hebrews 12:14; Romans 12:18). 

8.  “Woe to him who strives with his Maker!  Let the potsherd strive with the potsherd of the earth!  Shall the clay say to him who forms it, ‘What are you making?’ Or shall the handiwork say ‘He has no hands?’” (Isaiah 45:9).  “Woe to him who says to his father, ‘What are you begetting?’ or to the woman ‘What have you brought forth?’” (Isaiah 45:10). 

The complaint seems to be about Israel/Judah’s future.  Tyler Young commented, “Perhaps Isaiah is anticipating Israel objecting to God’s use of a pagan ruler to secure their release or a potential complaint against God for promising deliverance rather than preventing captivity” (editor David Brown, Isaiah Vol. 2, Houston College of Bible Lectureship, pp. 119-120).

One should be humble before God.  He is sovereign.  Frank Chesser has written, “Can a piece of clay argue with the potter who made it, or does a child have a right to demand from his parents the reason for his birth? (Isaiah 45:9-10).  If one desires knowledge of His work in the world, let him discard his arguments and complaints and make inquiry of God in humbleness of mind (Isaiah 45:11). 

The truth is: God had reason for doing things the way that he did.  The prophecy about Cyrus was designed to build faith (cf. Isaiah 45:3-6, 20-21; 44:6-8, 24-28; 46:8-11). 

 Let us be humble and trust in God.  He is wise.  He is sovereign.    

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Valentine’s Day and Love

The origin of this day is uncertain.  Here are some theories: (1) Some (not all) believe that it is a “christianized” form of the Roman festival of Lupercalia.  This festival occurred each year between February 13th and 15th.  It is thought to have received its name from Lupera, the female wolf, that cared for Romulus and Remus, the founders of Rome, and/or Lupercus, the Roman fertility god.  Animal sacrifice, drunkenness, and nakedness were a normal part of this festival.  “The men sacrificed a goat and a dog, then whipped women with the hides of the animals they had just slain… Young women would line up for the men to hit them… They believed this would make them fertile.  The brutal fete included a matchmaking lottery in which young men drew the names of women from a jar.  The couple would then be, um, coupled up for the duration of the festival – or longer, if the match was right” (The Dark Origins of Valentine’s Day by Arnie Seipel, February 14, 2022,; also see, Lupercalia,; History of Valentine’s Day,    

(2) It clearly has to do with someone named Valentine. Some believe that the origin concerns Valentine of Rome or possibly Terni.  “One legend contends that Valentine was a priest who served during the third century Rome.  When Emperor Claudius II decided that single men made better soldiers than those with wives and families, he outlawed marriage for young men.  Valentine realized the injustice of the decree, defied Claudius and continued to perform marriages for young lovers in secret.  When Valentine’s actions were discovered, Claudius ordered that he be put to death” (History of Valentine’s Day,  He was supposedly beheaded on February 14 around 270 A.D. (6 Surprising Facts About St. Valentine by Elizabeth Hanes,

(3) Some credit another Valentine.  “Other stories suggest that Valentine may have been killed for attempting to help Christians escape harsh Roman prisons… According to one legend an imprisoned Valentine actually sent the first ‘Valentine’ greeting himself after he fell in love with a young girl – possibly his jailor’s daughter – who visited him during his confinement.  Before his death, it is alleged that he wrote her a letter signed ‘From your Valentine,’ an expression that is still in use today” (Valentine’s Day 2023; Origins, Background & Tradition,

The origin seems impossible to discern.  There are no fewer than three different men named Valentine or Valentinus who died on February 14th (You Can Blame Geoffrey Chaucer for Valentine’s Day by Emily Temple,

(4) However, it seems to be the poet Geoffrey Chaucer who popularized this day as a day of romance.  “He did so in his poem Parlement of Foules published in 1382… “For this was on St. Valentine’s Day when every bird comes there to choose his mate.’  Through linking the day with romance, Chaucer was reflecting a belief in the Middle Ages that February 14 was the first day of the bird mating season, therefore it was an appropriate day for the young to express their love” (Valentine’s Day: The True Origins of This Romantic Tradition by Flora Hughes – Onslow,

Some Thoughts

It is God who said, “It is not good that man should be alone” (Genesis 2:18).  Aren’t you glad?

It is God who created marriage.  Jesus said, “Have you not read that He who made them at the beginning ‘made them male and female,’ and said, “For this reason shall a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’?” (Matthew 19:4-5 cf. Genesis 1:27; 2:24).  Aren’t you glad?

Let us not be like pagan Rome.  Let’s not worship their gods, be drunk, run through the streets naked, engage in fornication.

However, there is nothing wrong with spending time with the one you love and expressing your love.  “My beloved is mine, and I am his” (Song of Solomon 2:16).  “Rejoice with the wife of your youth (Proverbs 5:18).  “Let marriage be held in high honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled” (Hebrews 13:4 ESV).


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Speak Smooth Things

This is a rebellious people… who say to the seers, ‘Do not see,’ and to the prophets, ‘Do not prophesy to us right things; speak to us smooth things, prophesy deceits.  Get out of the way, turn aside from the path, cause the Holy One of Israel to cease from before us’” (Isaiah 30:9-11).

1.  The Prophet

The duty of a prophet was to faithfully deliver to the people the message that God wanted delivered.  Micaiah, who understood this, said, “As the LORD lives, whatever the LORD says to me, that I will speak” (1 Kings 22:14).  Jeremiah cried out, “O earth, earth, earth, Hear the word of the LORD!” (Jeremiah 22:29).  God warned Ezekiel, “When I say to the wicked, ‘O wicked man, you shall surely die!’ and you do not speak to warn the wicked from his way, that wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood I will require at your hand” (Ezekiel 33:8).

This same duty is expressed in the New Testament.  Paul declared, “I am innocent of the blood of all men, for I have not shunned to declare to you the whole counsel of God” (Acts 20:26-27).  Paul instructed Timothy “Preach the word!  Be ready in season and out of season.  Convince, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and teaching” (1 Timothy 4:2). 

2.  The People

Judah did not want to hear God’s rebuke.  They wanted the prophets to change the message.  Homer Hailey commented, “Surely they were not so honest as to come right out and say these things; but this verse very graphically reveals their true feelings… a modern version would be, ‘Give us religion but not the truth…’, ‘Get out of the way; do not hinder us in that which we have determined to do’” (Homer Hailey, A Commentary on Isaiah, p. 253).  Frank Chesser had a different view; he commented, “Some feel that the people of Judah would not be so brash as to actually verbalize such sentiments as appear in verses 10-11.  They view these words as simply characterizations of their attitudes and feelings.  However, would people who are kindred in spirit with Sodom and Gomorrah (Isaiah 1:10), who worship idols (Isaiah 1:8), whose tongues and conduct are at war with God (Isaiah 3:8), with whom wine is a constant companion (Isaiah 5:11), and who view good as evil and evil as good (Isaiah 5:20) experience any hesitancy over literally expressing their disdain for the truth and their desire for the smooth, soothing words of error that numb their spirit and grant liberty to fleshly indulgence?” (Frank Chesser, The Heart of Isaiah, p. 96).  Literal or not – they did not want to hear God’s full message.

3.  Us

Do we want the truth?  Or do we simply want to hear a self-affirming message?

Cornelius said, “We are all present before God, to hear all the things commanded you by God” (Acts 10:33).  May this be our attitude.

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From Scarlet to White

Wash yourselves, make yourselves clean; put away the evil of your doings from before My eyes.  Cease to do evil, learn to do good; seek justice, rebuke the oppressor; defend the fatherless, plead for the widow” (Isaiah 1:16-17).

This is a call to repentance.  It is addressed to the rulers of Sodom and the people of Gomorrah (Isaiah 1:10).  God’s people in Judah and Jerusalem (Isaiah 1:1) had become corrupt (Isaiah 1:21-23; 10:1-2).  Their worship was no longer pleasing to the LORD (Isaiah 1:11-15). 

“‘Come now, and let us reason together,’ says the Lord, ‘Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall be as wool’” (Isaiah 1:18).

There are many cleaning products on the market.  The names are familiar (e.g., Amway L.O.C., Clorox, OxiClean, Shout, Tide, Woolite etc.).  Even the best of these products is unable to remove every stain.

However, God can remove the stain (guilt) of sin.  He promised this to them on the condition of repentance.  The red stain of sin would be removed, if they would repent. 

They had a role to play in this.  They were instructed, “wash yourselves, make yourselves clean, put away evil…” (Isaiah 1:16-17).

Likewise, we have a role to play in our cleansing.  (1) This is true at baptism (Acts 22:16).  (2) This is true after baptism (1 John 1:7, 9).

Furthermore, God had a role to play in this cleaning.  It is not states in so many words in our text, but God alone makes this cleansing possible.  None could be cleansed without the mercy and grace of God being offered.

Likewise, it is for us.  The blood of Christ is the cleansing power (cf. Revelation 1:5; 7:13-14).  He is willing and able to forgive sins. 

Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow… Though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool… \ Hear the voice that entreats you, O return unto God!… He is of great compassion, and of wonderous love \ He’ll forgive your transgressions, and remember them no more… ‘Look unto Me ye people’ saith the Lord your God…” (Song: Though Your Sins Be As Scarlet by Fanny J. Crosby). 

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Six Woes (Isaiah 5)

The house of Israel (Judah) was the LORD’s vineyard (Isaiah 5:1-7).  The nation was to bring forth good grapes, but instead it brought forth wild grapes (Isaiah 5:2).  It is in this context, six woes are pronounced.  Let’s notice…

1.  “Woe to those who join house to house; they add field to field, till there is no place…” (Isaiah 5:8-10).

Materialism may be in view.  The focus seems to be on possessions.  Jesus taught, “Take heed and beware of covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses” (Luke 12:15). 

Greed is in view.  Homer Hailey comments, “Woe unto the rich landowners who buy up or otherwise acquire the land of the less fortunate until the original owners are crowded out” (Homer Hailey, Isaiah, p. 65).  Micah spoke of those who “covet fields and take them by violence, also houses, and seize them.  So they oppress a man and his house, a man and his inheritance” (Micah 2:2).

Disregard for God’s law may be in view.  The land acquired was to be returned on the Year of Jubilee (Leviticus 25).  Some believe that this was not occurring (ESV Study Bible, NIV Study Bible). 

2.  “Woe to these who rise early in the morning, that they may follow intoxicating drink; who continue until night, till wine inflames them!  The harp and the strings, the tambourine and flute, and wine are in their feasts; but they do not regard the work of the LORD, nor consider the operation of His hands” (Isaiah 5:11-17).

Hedonism and mixed-up priorities are in view.  They lived for their own pleasure from morning to night.  They did not think about God or His will.  The book of Hosea says, “My people are destroyed for a lack of knowledge (Hosea 4:6 cf. Isaiah 5:13). They loved pleasure more than God (2 Timothy 3:4).

This is still a problem. Even in wholesome pursuits, one must not lose sight of proper priorities. Some become so focused on the cares, riches, and pleasures of life that they fail to be spiritually fruitful (Luke 8:14).

3.  “Woe to those who draw iniquity with cords of vanity, and sin as if with cart ropes; that say, ‘Let Him make speed and hasten His work that we may see it…’” (Isaiah 5:18-19).

False teaching is in view.  The people are seen as animals pulling sin around.  What is it that hooked them to this cart of sin?  The answer is “cords of vanity” (NKJV) or “cords of falsehood” (ESV).  Some believe that this refers to idolatry (cf. same word Psalm 24:4; Jeremiah 18:15).  Others believe that it refers to the empty promises of false teachers (cf. Isaiah 30:10; Same word Ezekiel 12:24; 13:6; Lamentations 2:14). 

Disrespect is in view.  They challenged God to bring on the punishment (Isaiah 5:19 cf. Jeremiah 7:15; 2 Peter 3:3-4).  All should remember, “The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some men count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9).

4.  “Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; Who put darkness for light, and light for darkness; who put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter” (Isaiah 5:20).

Mixed up values are in view They did not view things as God did (cf. Micah 3:2). Franklin Camp pointed out, ” It was not to Assyria or Babylon that Isaiah directed these words, it was to Judah. Sin overlooked, ignored, practiced, leads to the inability to distinguish between righteousness and evil. The lack of love for truth and righteousness leads one to believe a lie and to think it is truth.” (Franklin Camp, Principles and Perils of Leadership, p. 45).

God makes distinctions. God made many distinctions in creation itself: (1) God and creation; (2) night and day; (3) land and water; (4) God and mankind; (5) mankind and animal; (6) man and woman; (7) parents and child; (8) good and evil (cf. Dennis Prager, Deuteronomy, p. 77, 337).

It is not enough to make distinctions. Man must learn to make distinctions based on the word of God.  We are to “prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God” (Romans 12:1-2).  We are to be able to “discern both good and evil” (Hebrews 5:14).  We are instructed “Test all things; hold fast what is good.  Abstain from every form of evil” (1 Thessalonians 5:21-22). We must learn to distinguish things as God does.

5.  “  Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes, and prudent in their own sight” (Isaiah 5:21). 

Pride and ignorance are in view.  Some cannot be taught.  They think that they know everything. Franklin Camp remarked, “There is nothing wrong with academic learning that knows its limitations, but when ‘wise men’ presume to know things that contradict divine revelation, they have become too smart” (Franklin Camp, p. 46).

We should remember where true wisdom is found.  “Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom, and to depart from evil is understanding” (Job 28:28 cf. Psalm 111:10; Proverbs 1:7; 9:10; 15:33). 

6.  “Woe to men mighty at drinking wine, woe to men valiant for mixing intoxicating drink, who justify the wicked for a bribe, and take away justice from the righteous man!” (Isaiah 5:22-25).

Justice is in view.  These men perverted justice for money (Isaiah 5:23; 10:1-2 cf. Amos 5:12; Exodus 23:8; Deuteronomy 16:19; 27:25).  Instead of being mighty for good, they were mighty for other things, even sinful things. [They may even have been lionized by some for these things. Franklin Camp remarked, “The morality of a nation and the morality of the church may be measured by looking at its heroes.” (Franklin Camp, p. 47)]

God cares about how we treat others (cf. Matthew 7:12; 25:31-46).  Let us, as Jesus, go about doing good (cf. Acts 10:38).                      

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Denominations: United Pentecostal Church

The United Pentecostal Church International (UPCI) says that it has 5½ million constituents world-wide (About UPCI,  There are more than 350,000 members in the U.S.A. and Canada combined (overview of the United Pentecostal Church International by Jack Zavada, 


The UPCI grew out of the Pentecostal movements in the early 20th century.   They say, “The UPCI emerged out of the Pentecostal movement that began with a Bible school in Topeka, Kansas in 1901 and with the Azusa Street revival in Los Angeles, California in 1906.  It traces its organizational roots to 1916, when a large group of Pentecostal ministers began to unite around teaching of the oneness of God and water baptism in the name of Jesus Christ” (About The UPCI, 

“This church was founded in 1945 by the union of the Pentecostal Assemblies of Jesus Christ and the Pentecostal Church, Inc.  Both of these bodies were formed by Oneness Pentecostals who withdrew from the Assemblies of God in 1916” (Frank Mead and Samuel Hill, Handbook of Denominations, p. 193).


They state, “The Bible is the only God-given authority which man possesses.  Therefore, all doctrine, faith, hope, and all instruction of the church must be based upon and harmonized with the Bible” (2019 UPCI Manual, Articles of Faith, Preamble).

Beliefs and Practices

  1. God.  They believe that there is one person in the Godhead.  They believe that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are not only one being, but one person without any true distinction in person (The Oneness of God by Dr. David K. Bernard and Dr. David Norris, YouTube Channel of the UPCI).  This is sometimes referred to as modalism.  They say, “Before the incarnation this one true God manifested Himself in divers ways.  In the incarnation, He manifested Himself in the Son… As He works in the lives of believers, He manifests Himself as the Holy Spirit” (2019 Articles of Faith, The One True God).  Johnny Ramsey (Church of Christ) debated Marvin Hicks (UPCI) in Sherman, Texas December 3-7, 1973.  The proposition: “Resolved, the scriptures teach that there are three separate distinct persons in the Godhead; the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.”  Affirm: Johnny Ramsey.  Deny: Marvin Hicks.
  2. Salvation.  “Pardon and forgiveness of sins is obtained by genuine repentance, a confessing and forsaking sins” (Articles of Faith, Repentance).
  3. Baptism.  “The scriptural mode of baptism is immersion and is only for those who have fully turned from their sins and a love of the world.  It should be administered by a duly authorized minister of the gospel, in obedience to the word of God, and in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, according to the Acts of the Apostles 2:38; 8:16; 10:48; 19:5; and obeying and fulfilling Matthew 28:19” (Articles of Faith Baptism).  Note: They believe that the name “Jesus” alone must be used in baptism, not “the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.”  They believe that the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit is “Jesus.”  The wording matters to them (See: Jesus Only Baptism by B.H.).
  4. The Lord’s Supper.  They understand the bread and the fruit of the vine “as emblems of His broken body and shed blood” (Articles of Faith, Sacrament or Communion).  I did not find anything concerning frequency of partaking.
  5. Foot-washing.  Foot-washing is listed as an article of faith.  “UPCI churches practice the Lord’s Supper and foot-washing as ordinances” (Beliefs and Practices of UPCI,
  6. Tithing.  “We believe tithing is God’s financial plan for His work” (Articles of Faith, Tithing).
  7. Holy Spirit/Miracles.  They believe that tongue speaking continues today, and is evidence that one has received the Holy Spirit and has been saved (Is Speaking in Tongues Necessary for Salvation?  Parts 1&2, Apostolic Life in the 21st Century, David K. Bernard YouTube).  They also believe that miraculous healing continues (Article of Faith, Divine Healing). 
  8. Holiness.  They disapprove of such things as “theaters, dances, mixed bathing or swimming, women cutting their hair, makeup, any apparel that immodestly exposes the body, all worldly sports and amusement, and unwholesome radio programs and music.  Furthermore, we disapprove of any of our people having television sets in their homes (Articles of Faith, Holiness).  “We disapprove of school students attending shows, dances, dance classes, theater… wearing gymnasium clothes which immodestly expose the body… coeducation classes which involve boys and girls mixed together in swimming, calisthenics, baseball, and other mixed athletics while clothed in ungodly attire which immodestly expose the body” (Articles of Faith, Public School Activities).
  9. Eternal Security.  UPCI do not believe in eternal security, or once saved always saved doctrine.  “When a person transgresses and sins against God and does not repent, he will eventually be lost and cast into the lake of fire” (Articles of Faith, The Grace of God). 


The headquarters of UPCI is located in Weldon Spring, Missouri.  Its current Superintendent is David K. Bernard (Leadership,

“The governmental structure of UPCI is basically congregational in that the local churches are self-governing” (About UPCI,

However, there is greater organization.  “The general organization embraces a modified Presbyterian system in that ministers meet in sectional, district, and general conference to elect officials and to conduct the business of the organization” (About UPCI,


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