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Jewish Mysticism

John Collins07/16/2013

Video available here: http://youtu.be/nKN9zO0k1oQ

In a short time span before the birth of Christ, a mixture of pagan worship began to infiltrate the Jews and infect Judaism to create and form a new religion of "mystery." Rome was a superpower, and the Roman empire was beginning to stretch its mighty arm across many countries — bringing with it the ancient worship of the many gods and demigods that the Romans served in their temples, and many gods that were "acquired" through the conquering of many nations.

As Rome was growing in power, around 100 BCE, this new "mystery religion" began to form.  By the time that Jerusalem was entirely under Roman authority, around 63 BCE, this mystic religion had formed into a growing threat to those who tried to uphold the Law of Moses.

Like so many false religions and cults today that are based on "mystery," this religion came in the form of the worship of Yahweh.  There were many teachings in the new religion that were absolute truth — but they were mixed with the chains and bondage of idolatry.

It's earliest form was called Merkabah Mysticism, one of the earliest forms of Jewish Mysticism.  This form of pagan worship was based heavily around visions, especially those found in the book of Ezekiel. 

The "chariot" that Ezekiel saw in the vision was heavily amplified in this new religion, and worship of the stars found in pagan worship was mixed in their doctrine.  The new interpretation of Ezekiel's vision by these in the new cult believed that the four beasts in the vision were represented by the four signs in the heavens, what would later become known as the Zodiac.

The Zodiac was predominately used in both Greek and Roman worship, descended directly from Babylon.  Each of the planets in our solar system were believed to be deities, and this form of pagan worship was not original to either empire.  Many of the gods worshipped by the Greeks were the same gods worshipped by the Romans — just with different names.

Because of the focal point of this form of mysticism being based on Ezekiel's chariot, this first form of Jewish Mysticism would later become known as "Chariot Mysticism."  And like some teachers today who stray from the Gospel of Jesus Christ in its simplicity, Jewish Mysticism was a very attractive cult that was quickly gaining popularity in the ancient world.  In fact, it spread far beyond Jerusalem, and started creeping its way into the early Christian church.

Chariot Mysticism took specific portions of scriptural text, and amplified them out of context into much greater meanings and concepts.  This earliest form of Mysticism heavily stressed the visions of heaven and the throne room of God — much more emphasis on the "mystery" than on the love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control that were the reasons that the Law was given in the first place. 

Scrolls were written with the "mysteries" as the focal point.  It is believed that this is the form of mysticism under which the Book of Enoch was written.  In fact, the third book of Enoch is known as the "Merkabah Hebew Book of Enoch."

The other two books found in the scrolls of Enoch are debated.  Some believe they are Merkabah, while others believe they are based on Hekhalot Mysticism.

Hekhalot Mysticism focused on ascension.  Literally translated, it means "palaces," and goes hand-in-hand with "Chariot Mysticism."  Together, they are known as the "Books of the Palaces of the Chariot."

But again, Hekhalot Mysticism focused on the mysteries of what will come.  Those "mysteries" were greater in importance than the goodwill towards man that we should have while our mortal bodies are on this earth.  They were very damaging sects of the Jewish tradition, taking the focus away from the good things that God has given us and turning our eyes towards the things that we cannot yet have.

The odd part about these ancient texts is that the fundamental elements from the early Jewish Mysticism can be traced from many of the Christian cults of today — all through time — directly back to those texts.  And not just the teaching, even the structure of the cults seem to align with the structure of the early pagan influence.

According to Rabbi Ammi (3rd Century), the secret doctrine was not for the hands of the common 'believers.'  They were not allowed to question — only those who possessed the "five qualities of Isaiah 3:3" were allowed to debate or discuss.

"Captain of fifty and man of esteem, and counsellor and skillful craftsman, and one who understands secrets." — Isaiah 3:3 (Torah)

Moreover, fear tactics were employed to keep any from questioning.  Many legends (or myths) of those slain by God for questioning or trying to understand these 'mysteries' are described in Ma'aseh Merkabah.  In one such fable, a young man who had not achieved the 'five qualities' and stumbled on to the meaning behind Ezekiel's wheel was consumed by fire for his over-stepping his bounds!

It is odd when you consider many of the "Rapture" theologies that are given by cult leaders of our time.  Just as in Jewish Mysticism, the focus of the religion is more to the effect of where we are going and when than it is on how to get there.  And since no one knows the day nor the hour, all of this is really speculation, anyway!

The early forms of Jewish Mysticism combined together over time.  It is difficult to trace where and when, because other pagan forms of worship, such as Gnosticism also were added to the mix.

These multiple forms of religious went underground for a period of time, and later emerged in the form of Kabbalah in the 12th to 13th century Southern France and Spain. 

Like Buddhism, Kabbalah is not regarded as a "religion" to those who follow its teachings, and it is believed that you can follow the teachings of Kabbalah with ANY form of religion you practice.  By nature, that is correct, because many of the doctrines were the influence of Pagan worship on the early Jews and Christians.

And while many of the New Age cults and religious separation promote their teachings as strictly based upon the Bible, many of them oppose Orthodoxy.  Orthodox Christianity is a threat to them, because it excludes any teaching that is extra-biblical or that is amplified into a new form of worship. 

It is believed that Paul's writings to the Colossians contain many sections to combat mysticism.  The Colossians were quickly growing to believe many of the teachings of early mysticism, and had also been infiltrated by Gnosticism. 

The most evident statement against these new cultish religions is found in the second chapter:

Let no one disqualify you, insisting on asceticism and worship of angels, going on in detail about visions, puffed up without reason by his sensuous mind

Colossians 2:18 

Also interesting is that the mystic 'prophetess' that seems to be the origin of the "Divine Healing" and "Latter Rain" movement, Jane Leade, was a study of Kabbalah. 

One alternate spelling for Kabbalah (with a 'K') is Cabala.  In one of Leade's writings, "A Fountain of Gardens" contains this statement:

"The Word Cabala then much run through me." - Leade, A Fountain of Gardens

The section of the writing goes on to explain what this statement means, but then ends with this declaration of following mysticism:

To such as of the Divine CABALA do stand, with the Ruling Scepter of Faith still in their Hand." Thus my LORD did most freely commune, and open the Sense and Mystery of the Word CABALA. Upon which obliged we are to attend diligently; retreating therefore from all that Terrestrial is."

- Leade, A Fountain of Gardens

Lead's influence spread far and wide.  Her prophecy of the coming manifestation of power in the church and the influence of her "Philadelphian Society" religious sect was the beginning of a theory called "Dispensationalism" — an extra-biblical teaching that God manifests himself a little bit at a time through "Dispensations."

Thomas Bromley, member of the Philadelphian society, wrote a book entitled, "Treatise of Extraordinary Divine Dispensations," and that writing would later influence John Darby to start promoting the same. 

As this mystic influence began to spread, many men and women that Branham revered and respected started to mix mysticism into their doctrine.  Clarence Larkin, the man Branham copied the dates for the "Seven Church Ages" from, was a dispensationalist.  In fact, the entire "Seven Church Age" teaching itself was based on Jane Leade's teachings.  Men like Charles Price, who Branham spent a great deal of time with in California, were known followers of Leade's teaching and prophecy.

But like the ancient Jewish Mysticism, William Branham would take this idea of taking a single scripture and "amplifying it" into a greater form of worship.  Many new and extra-biblical doctrines were introduced by William Branham, almost all of them based on a single passage of text.

It would fill an entire book to cover all of these, but to highlight a few of the most commonly believed extra-biblical teachings, and for time's sake, we will only list a few.

Branham added the idea that the "dispensations" should have "messengers" associated with them, and hand-picked great men of old to be the "Messengers" for their age.  One such messenger was "Columba" — the big mistake the cult does not want you to know about.  Columba was not alive during his "church age"; Branham forgot to confirm their dates of birth and death before pinning them to the tail of a Church Age.

Directly from Jane Leade's prophecy, Branham promoted the idea that we must have an "End Time Messenger" that has essentially replaced the speaking of the Holy Spirit to our hearts.  In Branham's theology, the Holy Spirit that guides us is not enough.  We must have something more, some man of great power and spiritual ascension. 

Also from Leade is the idea that this new deliverer would be a Gentile — not a Jew.  Leade was from England, and like many of the cults that have risen, Leade promoted a theology based on her own locale.

The Serpent's Seed doctrine Branham promoted is a teaching of Kabbalah.  Coincidentally, it is also found in Jane Leade's prophecy:

And as Eve did suck in the Serpently Venom, and introduced it into the First Adam, and thereby corrupted and involved him in the same transgression, whereby there was a going out, and dividing from God the Eternal Root; whence the Banishment out of Paradise was pronounced, and an exclusion and loss of the Kingdom and Dominion: so the Virgin rises in her Room to draw and feed upon that Tree of Life, and having tasted of the Virtue thereof, gives to her chosen and elected Mate, so known and assigned to stand in the Room of him that brought in Sorrow and the Curse. 

Leade, Signs of the Times: Forerunning the Kingdom of Christ

This "Forerunning the Kingdom of Christ" prophecy spawned many men who claimed to be forerunners.  William Sowders, who had a strikingly similar "baptism commission as forerunner" to William Branham, was one such man.  Joseph Smith, John Alexander Dowie, Charles Taze Russell — all men who Branham revered — promoted themselves as forerunners.

It was this extra-biblical doctrine that spawned off several other doctrines that cannot be supported by scripture.  Some of them include "Bride Age," "Eagle Age," "Rapturing Faith," "Word Bride," "Manifesting Time," and more.

The worst and most harmful doctrine we won't find in scripture is "The Squeeze."  This doctrine was also promoted by another cult leader you will be familiar with: Pastor Jim Jones of Jonestown.  It was this one single false doctrine that caused the death of his entire following in South America.

In examining these extra-biblical theologies, I am always amused in remembering the blog, "Two Message Ministers."  Specifically the post claiming that William Branham was "Sola Scriptura" or "By Scripture Alone."  Many around the world promote this idea — and they promote it because Branham SAID that he was — not because they have examined a single teaching according to scripture.

There are many, many other extra-biblical doctrines that are springing up.  Some new ones were not even promoted by William Branham, but are newly invented to mask the fact that Branham's prophecies have been proven to have failed.  One such invention is the theology of "Blind Faith" — you must accept it by FAITH, my brother!  It only LOOKS like it failed, God is involved in this great COVER UP scheme!

The most degrading extra-biblical teaching was Branham's "Thus Saith The Lord" claim that the Bible says men should divorce their wives if they cut their hair.  Mix that with the degrading statement that God will not hear the prayer of a woman who has cut her hair and you have an unchristian-like authority pronouncing false judgment.

Others include the extra-biblical idea that Jezebel was stoned for the paint around her eyes — rather than leading the children of Israel into idolatry.  Or that John the Baptist was stillborn until he heard the name of Jesus. 

Many to this day believe that the Apostle Paul saw a pillar of fire in the wilderness, which is not found in scripture.  Others believe that when God met Abraham in front of the tent, God's back was to the tent and He used "discernment" just like Branham did!  The Bible says that Sarah was in the doorway of the tent standing behind Abraham.

The list goes on and on and on.  Just like the ancient Jewish mysticism, the people are attracted to "mysteries."  Our minds like puzzles, but if the puzzle has no answer, we like to cheat and find the answer guide.  To many, William Branham was the "answer guide," but they do not realize that many times, he gave the wrong answers!

The book of Jude is a very short book, almost not enough to fill a scroll.  But it has some very astounding words. 

It's interesting, because the book of Jude references the book of Enoch — the very form of pagan worship that it is condemning.  It is almost as though Jude is reaching out of the pages, trying to snag this mysticism and strangle it before it can spread any further!

Many have asked me why I continue to expose William Branham's lies.  Why don't I just preach the Gospel instead?  Why do I continue exposing the lies of a man, why can't I focus on something else? 

Jude explains why HE didn't change focus: 

"Beloved, although I was very eager to write to you about our common salvation, I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints.  For certain people have crept in unnoticed who long ago were designated for this condemnation, ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into sensuality and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ."

The Gnostics had crept in.  The Mystics had crept in.  Ancient forms of pagan worship and idolatry had infiltrated the Church of the Living God!

Now I want to remind you, although you once fully knew it, that Jesus, who saved a people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed those who did not believe.  And the angels who did not stay within their own position of authority, but left their proper dwelling, he has kept in eternal chains under gloomy darkness until the judgment of the great day— just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding cities, which likewise indulged in sexual immorality and pursued unnatural desire, serve as an example by undergoing a punishment of eternal fire.

In other words: PAY ATTENTION!  YOUR LIFE DEPENDS UPON IT!

Yet in like manner these people also, relying on their dreams, defile the flesh, reject authority, and blaspheme the glorious ones.  But when the archangel Michael, contending with the devil, was disputing about the body of Moses, he did not presume to pronounce a blasphemous judgment, but said, "The Lord rebuke you."

 

In other words: MICHAEL IS JUST AN ARCHANGEL!  NOT GOD!  DON'T WORSHIP THE ANGELS!

But these people blaspheme all that they do not understand, and they are destroyed by all that they, like unreasoning animals, understand instinctively. Woe to them! For they walked in the way of Cain and abandoned themselves for the sake of gain to Balaam's error and perished in Korah's rebellion.  These are hidden reefs at your love feasts, as they feast with you without fear, shepherds feeding themselves; waterless clouds, swept along by winds; fruitless trees in late autumn, twice dead, uprooted; wild waves of the sea, casting up the foam of their own shame; wandering stars, for whom the gloom of utter darkness has been reserved forever.

 

The most astounding paragraph in this book.  Listen to Jude!  If you won't hear me, hear Jude!  Examine the doctrines of these men!  They are ever-changing!  They are tossed to and fro, not grounded in the scriptures!  And they will seem like loving pastors, loving shepherds, sitting right there with you!

It was also about these that Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied, saying, "Behold, the Lord comes with ten thousands of his holy ones, to execute judgment on all and to convict all the ungodly of all their deeds of ungodliness that they have committed in such an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things that ungodly sinners have spoken against him." These are grumblers, malcontents, following their own sinful desires; they are loud-mouthed boasters, showing favoritism to gain advantage.

 

Boasters!  Loud-mouthed!  Pay attention to the tapes, examine the stories, and see what we have! 

I heard a comment recently, describing a man who causally overheard Branham screaming like a madman into the microphone of a recorded tape.  The guy actually thought this person was listening to a tape of HITLER!  It's the same tactic, scream your subjects into submission!

This last part shocks even me.  I can remember the MANY, MANY times that William Branham spoke about the scoffers that would rise, following their own lusts and passions.  And it sounded very much like he was agreeing with Jude!  He was the one telling us they would come!  Branham was.

But you must remember, beloved, the predictions of the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ.  They said to you, "In the last time there will be scoffers, following their own ungodly passions."  It is these who cause divisions, worldly people, devoid of the Spirit. 

 

Jude is telling us, calling out from the grave through his scripture, BEGGING US to listen to him!  The apostles have told us that there will come scoffers -- long ago.  Yet this is what Branham promoted to try to focus people on HIS ministry — not scoffers against Jesus Christ and Christianity!  And yet Branham is the one that caused divisions in the church!  He separated himself!  He PROMOTED separation!  And Jude says that he is devoid of the Spirit!

I'm going to end with the last portion of Jude.  There is nothing that I can say that is better than the way that Jude ends this chapter:

But you, beloved, building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit [NOT A PROPHET],keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life. And have mercy on those who doubt [THOSE WHO QUESTION];save others by snatching them out of the fire; to others show mercy with fear, hating even the garment stained by the flesh.

Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.

 

REFERENCES

Leade, The Sings of the Times: http://www.passtheword.org/jane-lead/signs.htm

Talmud: http://www.sacred-texts.com/jud/talmud.htm

Torah: http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Judaism/The_Written_Law.html

Zohar: http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/articles/15278-zohar

MA'ASEH BERESHIT; MA'ASEH MERKABAH: http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/articles/10229-ma-aseh-bereshit-ma-aseh-merkabah

17th Century Prophetess: http://www.passtheword.org/jane-lead/

Writings of Jane Leade: http://www.janelead.org/

Roots of NAR and LOLR: http://truthspeaker.wordpress.com/2009/09/21/roots-of-the-nar-and-nolr-jane-leade-the-philadelphian-society/

Ginzberg, Legends of the Jews

Book of Enoch

Dunn, The Colossian Philosophy:  A Confident Jewish Apologia,"

Francis, Humility and Angel Worship in Col 2:18, in Conflict at Colossae

Planetary Symbolism: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Planets_in_astrology

James. The History and Practice of Ancient Astronomy


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