Note: It’s been awhile since I’ve contributed a new post to the “Irony of the Church Fathers” series. I apologize for that. At first, I thought that the Father was starting me on a new series and I was putting my heart and soul into it, but then I realized that this new series would fully supplement the “Irony” series, so it all worked out for the good!
If you haven’t been keeping up, or if you need a refresher, I would strongly suggest that you read the prior post in the series before you start reading this one, as it provides the necessary foundation for what I’m about to say.
The Church Fathers “Spiritualized” Covenant Commands
I find it no coincidence that the core practices and values that were vulgarized and considered “anathema” by the church fathers (and other religious icons – Constantine, Luther, etc.) were the very practices that implied covenant – Sabbath, Torah, Feast Days and Circumcision. The enemy knew that if he could eliminate these elements from the doctrine being handed down through the ages to us, then the deception would be almost complete.
Before Constantine, the New Testament had not yet been canonized (although the writings themselves did exist) and students (being students) were eager to learn and willing to accept any information as true, when given by someone they perceived as an authority. So the church fathers had not yet been questioned as to why they spoke out against believers keeping covenant commands, but at the same time, they avoided speaking against the “Jewish” extraneous practices that had been either birthed in the Babylonian Exile or formulated somewhere along the way.
The question probably never entered their minds.
The Church Fathers had nothing to say about the various hand washings or the exhaustive Sabbath laws which were not found in the Tanakh (Old Testament). They had nothing to say about the Jews’ self-imposed separation from gentiles. Apparently, such extraneous practices were unworthy of their attention.
The source of their vitriol and animosity were the commands given by the Most High from the beginning – commands that were considered “covenant oriented” up until that time – and the church fathers twisted and cherry-picked Paul’s letters to make it seem like their words had scriptural integrity!
Keeping the Sabbath is Part of the Covenant
The unchangeable God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob (Malachi 3:6) had this to say about the Sabbath:
Therefore the children of Israel shall keep the Sabbath, to observe the Sabbath throughout their generations as a perpetual covenant.
Also the sons of the foreigner who join themselves to the LORD, to serve Him, and to love the name of the LORD, to be His servants – everyone who keeps from defiling the Sabbath, and holds fast My covenant – even them I will bring to My holy mountain, and make them joyful in My house of prayer. Their burnt offerings and their sacrifices will be accepted on My altar; for My house shall be called a house of prayer for all nations.
This shows a direct connection between honoring the Sabbath and our covenant with the Most High. Justin Martyr, however, had this to say in defiance of God’s command:
We too, would observe your circumcision of the flesh, your Sabbath days, and in a word, all your festivals, if we were not aware of the reason why they were imposed upon you, namely, because of your sins and the hardness of heart… God imposed upon you the observance of the sabbath as a mark.” – Justin Martyr, Dialogue with Trypho (Between 138A.D. and 161 A.D.)
Ignatius of Antioch believed that we should no longer honor the “perpetual covenant.”
If then those who had walked in ancient practices attained unto newness of hope, no longer observing sabbaths but fashioning their lives after the Lord’s day…” – The Epistle of Ignatius to the Magnesians (9:1a)
This mindset would continue throughout the centuries, as the Council of Laodicea would dictate:
Christians must not judaize by resting on the Sabbath, but must work on that day, rather honouring the Lord’s Day; and, if they can, resting then as Christians. But if any shall be found to be judaizers, let them be anathema from Christ.” – the Council of Laodicea, Cannon 29
Honoring the Torah is Part of the New Covenant
The unchangeable God of Abraham Isaac and Jacob (Malachi 3:6) had this to say about “that Old Testament law” in relation to the New Covenant:
But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the LORD: I will put My law [Torah] in their minds, and write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.
I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them. Then you shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers; you shall be My people, and I will be your God.
Yet Ignatius of Antioch boldly declares:
Be not deceived with strange doctrines; nor with old fables which are unprofitable. For if we still continue to live according to the Jewish Law, we do confess ourselves not to have received grace…” – Magnesians 8:1
But if anyone shall preach the Jewish law unto you, hearken not unto him…”
– Philadelphians 6:1
…and Epiphanius spouts:
We shall now especially consider heretics who… call themselves Nazarenes; they are mainly Jews and nothing else. They make use not only of the New Testament, but they also use in a way the Old Testament of the Jews; for they do not forbid the books of the Law, the Prophets, and the Writings… so that they are approved of by the Jews, from whom the Nazarenes do not differ in anything, and they profess all the dogmas pertaining to the prescriptions of the Law and to the customs of the Jews, except they believe in Messiah.
They preach that there is but one God, and His Son Yeshua the Messiah. But they are very learned in the Hebrew language; for they, like the Jews, read the whole Law, then the Prophets… They differ from the Jews because they believe in Messiah, and from the Christians in that they are to this day bound to the Jewish rites, such as circumcision, the Sabbath, and other ceremonies.
They have the Good news according to Matthew in its entirety in Hebrew. For it is clear that they still preserve this, in the Hebrew alphabet, as it was originally written.” – Epiphanius, Parnarion 29:7:1-5
Forgive me if I go on a little mini-rant, here.
To this day, I fail to see how people can have a law (or teaching) “written on their hearts” – some translations say “engraved on their hearts” – yet feel no obligation whatsoever to adhere to it. Such reasoning is self-contradictory – it’s a complete oxymoron.
I delight to do Your will, O my God, and Your law [Torah] is within my heart.
This connects obedience to the Father’s will with the Torah being written on the heart.
At this point, I ask the church, “Does your God change?”
For I am the LORD, I do not change; therefore you are not consumed, O sons of Jacob.
Christians give lip service to this verse, but will continue to perpetuate a flawed, dispensational Christian dogma which teaches the exact opposite.
And another generation gets deceived… and another… and another, etc.
There’s a reason for this which we will get into before the end of this post.
Keeping the Feasts is Part of the Covenant
Whenever you mention keeping the Feasts of Yahweh, it’s almost a given that you will be told to “talk to the hand.”
“We don’t keep those Jewish feasts! They were meant for the Jews!” – FALSE!
The unchangeable God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob (Malachi 3:6) didn’t say anything about “those Jewish Feast Days,” EVER. Rather, He spoke of “My feasts”:
Speak to the children of Israel, and say to them: “The feasts of the LORD, which you shall proclaim to be holy convocations, these are My feasts.“… These are the feasts of the LORD, holy convocations which you shall proclaim at their appointed times.
“C’mon, Kevin … It says ‘Speak unto the children of Israel’ . . . what, are you blind?”
OK, who were “the children of Israel?”
If you were to say “the descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob,” you would be wrong, at this point in the narrative.
For more information on the “Church in the Wilderness”:
II. The Irony of the Church Fathers – So You Wanna be the Church?
We know that there was “a mixed multitude” that came up out of Egypt with the descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
A mixed multitude went up with them also, and flocks and herds – a great deal of livestock.
When the people came to the foot of the mountain, YHWH showed the entire congregation how to live as His people and they were referred to as “the children of Israel.”
He never said “You Jews do this, but you gentiles don’t have to.”
Think of the chaos that would reign in a kingdom if you had different sets of rules for different sets of people.
Think of the United States of America; we’re seeing this chaos being played out before our very eyes.
Ideally, if someone wants to live in and become a part of any nation, they have to agree to the laws of that nation. YHWH’s Kingdom is no different.
If a gentile wants to be included in the commonwealth of Israel (Ephesians 2:12), he/she has to obey the covenant commands given TO Israel, at which point he/she will no longer be considered a gentile, but an Israelite (not a Jew).
But this standard wasn’t good enough for the church fathers. In his extreme arrogance, Ignatius penned the following rebuke:
To profess Jesus Christ while continuing to follow Jewish customs is an absurdity. The Christian faith does not look to Judaism, but Judaism looks to Christianity…” – Letter to the Magnesians
“Saint” John Chrysostom, the so-called “golden mouth,” was particularly venomous in his hatred for the Feasts of YHWH.
What is this disease? The festivals of the pitiful and miserable Jews are soon to march upon us one after the other and in quick succession: the feast of Trumpets, the feast of Tabernacles, the fasts.
There are many in our ranks who say they think as we do. Yet some of these are going to watch the festivals and others will join the Jews in keeping their feasts and observing their fasts. I wish to drive this perverse custom from the Church right now… But now that the Jewish festivals are close by and at the very door, if I should fail to cure those who are sick with the Judaizing disease. I am afraid that, because of their ill-suited association and deep ignorance, some Christians may partake in the Jews’ transgressions; once they have done so, I fear my homilies on these transgressions will be in vain.
For if they hear no word from me today, they will then join the Jews in their fasts; once they have committed this sin it will be useless for me to apply the remedy.” – Adversus Judaeos – Homily 1(5) (link)
And Yes, Circumcision is Part of the Covenant
Due to all the controversy and error around this topic, it’s going to be really easy to misunderstand what I write in this next section, so try to keep your mind focused and stay with the subject of the church fathers. I’m going to attempt to do the same.
People misunderstand the concept of circumcision because they’ve been trained to accept a line of thinking that manipulates the mind of the hearer/reader.
Through generations of brainwashing, our minds have been preconditioned to connect the sensitive nature of this act with our fear of pain, and then mix it with our aversion to the Father’s “Old Testament commands.” Because of this contrivance, we’ve created a doctrine that equates the act of circumcision to “works based salvation.”
Before you throw up Acts 15 and the book of Galatians as justification for this belief, let me ask you a couple questions.
Again: does your God change?
For I am the LORD, I do not change; therefore you are not consumed, O sons of Jacob.
Do the words of Paul (or any New Testament author) supercede the words of our unchangeable God?
If you answered “No,” then Acts 15 and Galatians cannot override the Father’s wishes. If your doctrine allows for this, I strongly suggest you rethink your doctrine. Perhaps you have it wrong.
I’m not going to go into every facet and nuance of circumcision as it requires an entire post to correct the errors made by dispensationalist thinkers and would take away from the thrust of this series. But here are a couple great links for you to check out if you want to explore the topic further.
- Circumcision… (part 1), Circumcision… (part 2)
- Circumcision – The Eternal Sign (part 1), Circumcision – The Eternal Sign (part 2)
- Circumcision of the Heart – The Secret to Living Set Apart
- The Brotherhood of the Circumcised Heart
- How the Christian “Salvation Equation” Conflicts with the Bible
A very brief summary of my view of circumcision is as follows:
Circumcision will not save you, but you will be circumcised as a step of obedience to the Father just like abstaining from murder, theft and adultery will not save you… but you obey those commandments because you are a child of the King.
For the purposes of this post, however, I’m just going to take the Father’s words at face value.
The Father gave a covenant command to Abraham that included all the members of his household – which would include you, if you consider yourself a child of Abraham.
This is My covenant which you shall keep, between Me and you and your descendants after you: Every male child among you shall be circumcised; and you shall be circumcised in the flesh of your foreskins, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between Me and you.
Are you Abraham’s seed?
Our friend Justin Martyr arrogantly declared:
The custom of circumcising the flesh, handed down from Abraham, was given to you as a distinguishing mark, to set you off from other nations and from us Christians. The purpose of this was that you and only you might suffer the afflictions that are now justly yours; that only your land be desolated, and your cities ruined by fire, that the fruits of your land be eaten by strangers before your very eyes; that not one of you be permitted to enter your city of Jerusalem. Your circumcision of the flesh is the only mark by which you can certainly be distinguished from other men.” – Justin Martyr – Dialogue with Trypho (Between 138 A.D. and 161 A.D.)
There’s no such thing as “Jew vs. Gentile.”
So we see a pattern taking place in church history where the church fathers would take a covenant-oriented commandment given by our unchangeable Father, oppose the ideals/practices in their teaching (claiming that they are for the Jews only), and replace it with a twisted doctrine based upon Paul’s epistles and an antagonistic mindset towards Israel.
Sure, they didn’t mind you having a head knowledge of “those Old Testament practices that were only meant for the Jews,” just as long as you didn’t put it into practice! You must, by all means, adhere to their dogma or be considered an apostate.
After reading the Scriptures that I have laid out for you (and the church fathers’ rebuttal, as well as the obvious hatred displayed in the quotes from the last post), I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that many of you are still thinking, “Kevin, it doesn’t matter; God gave those commands to the Jews – the children of Israel, not us!”
This is that antagonism working in you right now.
And this faulty rationale is to be expected because we have been so well-indoctrinated into the “Jew vs. Gentile” mindset that any other alternative seems completely unreasonable, even though Scripture plainly says:
There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.
. . .we just can’t seem to get over this hump.
The Pride of Being “in Christ Jesus”
Due to this error handed down from the church fathers, a vast majority of Christians understand Galatian 3:28 to mean that “there is neither Jew nor Greek,” just so long as the “Jew” becomes a “Christian.” But this rationale is erroneous because of a corrupted understanding of what it means to be “in Christ Jesus!”
The Messiah said:
A little while longer and the world will see Me no more, but you will see Me. Because I live, you will live also. At that day you will know that I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you.
Now he who keeps His commandments abides in Him, and He in him. And by this we know that He abides in us, by the Spirit whom He has given us.
To be “in Christ Jesus” is nothing more, and nothing less, than to obey the Father’s commands out of a heart of love.
For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome.
Whose commands do we keep? . . .God’s commands!
For I have not spoken on My own authority; but the Father who sent Me gave Me a command, what I should say and what I should speak.
The Christian church, however, would have you believe that all you need to do is walk the aisle, say the sinner’s prayer and accept Jesus into your heart.
None of this can be found in the Bible.
This unspoken yet heavily enforced doctrine of “there is no Jew or Gentile just as long as the Jews come to OUR side” is the main reason why I disagree so vehemently with organizations such as “Jews for Jesus” and similar ministries.
It’s not that I believe someone gets a free pass while not acknowledging Yeshua as the Messiah, it’s that I believe that the Jews do not need Christianity’s corrupted version of Him… but I can’t get on that soapbox and still stay on track.
“Remember that you do not support the root, but the root supports you.” (Romans 11:18)
Make no mistake about it, the “Jew vs. Gentile” mindset must be overcome if you are going to have any chance at making it into the Kingdom. No matter how convinced you are of your salvation, there is no gate marked “gentile” in the heavenly city.
And he carried me away in the Spirit to a great and high mountain, and showed me the great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God, having the glory of God. Her light was like a most precious stone, like a jasper stone, clear as crystal.
I’m not going to presume who is going into what gate. That’s not for me to decide, but I do know that the gates were not given the names of the twelve tribes of Israel for kicks. You better make sure that you are part of the commonwealth of Israel, like Paul said.
. . .that at that time you were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world.
Look carefully at that verse.
To separate yourself from the Commonwealth of Israel is to separate yourself from Christ.
We must embrace this truth! The “ekklesia” and the Commonwealth of Israel are one and the same! But even as I write this, I know that most of you will not be able absorb it.
Why do you think that is?
Because the separation of Jew and Gentile continues to be ground into your head every Sunday and you believe it. The clergy is doing the job it was trained to do.
As a result, you have an implanted aversion to – even a fear of – the commands of the Most High, that He set forth from the beginning.
You’ve been trained well.
That’s why many of you are vehemently disagreeing with me as you read this, insisting that you love the Father’s word and His commands, but the hard truth is that you are lying to yourself.
Look, I’ve been where you’re are!
I’m begging you! Please hear my heart in this! I’m not trying to condemn you or make you feel pathetic, I’m trying to shake you awake!
You’ve all been trained to reject His commands! This has been going on for many generations and you have justified this rejection because you’ve been trained to “spiritualize” disobedience and make it into something “acceptable.”
Instead of obeying the Sabbath command, you believe “Jesus is my Sabbath so I don’t have to confine it to any one day” and the errors of the 7th Day Adventist church have only reinforced this fallacy.
Do the errors of one denomination negate the commandment of God?
Since the creation of the earth (Genesis 2:3), the Father set apart the 7th day and made it holy.
It may not matter to you. . . but it obviously matters to Him.
Instead of observing the Feasts given to the children of Israel, you believe that you “celebrate Jesus in your heart” so any day is a day to rejoice. . . especially “Christianized” pagan celebrations like Christmas and Easter!
Instead of obeying the Torah, you think that you’re living in the New Covenant, so the law is written on your heart. . . so you don’t have to obey it. This logic still baffles me.
. . . and lastly . . .
Instead of obeying the law of circumcision, you believe a circumcised heart is all you need. The problem is, nobody really knows exactly what a circumcised heart is, so everyone creates their own vague doctrine.
All of these points of obedience were relegated to the realm of the abstract long ago in order to dissociate anything covenant oriented from the faith.
Even Yeshua’s “blood of the New Covenant” was polluted by the Holy Sacrament of the Catholic church. To the Mother’s Protestant offspring, it represents a permission slip for continued disobedience to the Father’s commands.
This is what they call “personal salvation.”
OK, some of their teaching might be off, but the church fathers taught a lot of GOOD things too!
Along with other forms of justification for the church fathers, I hear and read this saying a lot: “don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater!” Such an axiom is often used by people who desperately want to try to maintain their long-held belief systems when firm, condemning evidence to the contrary is introduced into the equation.
I heard this phrase when I brought the truth out about the prophetic movement and I’m hearing it during this series as well.
This is what happens when people realize that the church fathers and their doctrine – or any kind of doctrine that they hold dear to their hearts – doesn’t line up historically or scripturally. Desperately trying to grab onto any last vestige of familiarity, they plead “Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater!” so that they can continue to cling to what is comfortable.
But you simply cannot use this reasoning when analyzing the writings of the church fathers.
Let me use myself as an example to show you why.
. . . all because my name is not Martin Luther
I’ve been blogging quite a bit for 5-6 years and, as far as I know, it’s been a blessing to others. I would hope that I’ve been able to bring some truth to the table that you haven’t considered before, or at least clarify what is already there.
But what if once . . . just once . . . in one of my posts, I wrote something so completely off-the-wall, so out in left field, that it turned your stomach? What if I wrote “being a pedophile isn’t so bad” or “every believer should try heroin” or I mention a stack of dirty magazines that I keep stashed under my bed (all 3 of those statements are untrue and repellent, btw).
Now, keep in mind that everything else I wrote would have been Scripture-based and on target. It’s just this one statement that would condemn me.
Wouldn’t that one statement overshadow everything I have ever done in the past, or will do in the future?
Even if I genuinely repented in sackcloth and ashes, wouldn’t that one statement haunt my reputation for the rest of my life?
Even if you read any other post written by me and it was spot on, convicting and informative, wouldn’t that one statement from that one post discredit everything I’ve ever written?
I would hope so.
I would hope that you would unsubscribe, kick me to the curb and warn others about me!
It’s one thing to make a statement that is somewhat “off” scripturally or that opposes your certain viewpoints; it’s quite another to write something so vile. . . so criminal that you just can’t excuse it, no matter what.
But we’ve been trained to do this in our assessment of the church fathers.
Why? Because there was a plan to perpetuate their doctrine.
Think about it a minute.
All of you would have no problem giving me the boot if you found something completely repulsive in one of my posts (and rightfully so), but if my name was “St. Augustine” or “Martin Luther,” you would be very hesitant. . . Why?
Because you are indoctrinated.
Because you were told by your superiors, “Sure, maybe they had a few things off, but these men were inspired by the Holy Spirit to determine orthodoxy and shape church doctrine and are worthy of our respect!”
The quotes from the church fathers above (and in the prior post) prove that the church fathers considered the Mother Church “THE church” and called for the persecution (if not annihilation) of an entire nation of people . . . the chosen nation! (Exodus 19:6, 1 Peter 2:9)
Doesn’t that count for anything?
If I were to make these statements, you’d drop me like a sack of bricks, but if “Saint” Jerome or “Saint” Augustine says it . . .
Can anyone say “double standard?”
Look, I’m not trying to put myself on the same playing field as the church fathers; I’m just an “uneducated” guy who puts 1 and 1 together and comes out with 2 as the answer. I haven’t given my life for what I believe in (yet) . . . which brings me to my next point.
Does martyrdom make one great?
This section is going to be difficult for many to swallow.
As honorable as it is for one to die for his/her beliefs, it does not automatically make what they died for the truth. Muslims die daily for their faith, as do others who are zealous for religions other than Christianity.
Those same martyrs will have those who sing their praises and tell others over and over of their sacrifice in the hopes of stirring in the listener a motivation to live out their religion to the fullest.
But this still does not mean they died for the truth. They died for what they believed to be true.
I have no doubt that the church fathers (at least most of them) were passionate about the knowledge of Jesus that they were raised with so much so that they were willing to give their lives . . . and many followed through by making that sacrifice. But both history and Scripture prove that what they died for was a perversion of the Word of God.
Even today, Christians are being mercilessly slaughtered for this perversion, and I don’t want to minimize their sacrifice and suffering. They have paid a hefty price for their beliefs.
Will they be rewarded for being faithful to what they knew?
That’s not my call; I’m not the judge, but I do see a pattern in the Word of God that gives us a clue as to how this will go down. These scriptural truths reveal much about our unchangeable God, but in order to receive them, you may need to change your understanding of His character.
You see, contrary to what the false prophets, teachers and seminarians will tell you, the Father is a lot more performance-oriented than you think. Consider:
Aaron created a golden calf in the form of the Egyptian god Apis and declared a “feast unto the Lord” the next day. The god of Israel was so ticked at this abomination that 3,000 people died as a result of His wrath. (Exodus 32:20)– Why? – Because they worshiped the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob the way THEY wanted to and not the way HE wanted to be worshiped. Even though they claimed to follow the God of Israel, they were judged according to their ACTIONS.
Nadab and Abihu, who actually SAW the God of Israel (Exodus 24:9-10), broke the commandment and attempted to offer strange fire (symbolic of worship) before YHWH and were consumed by fire. (Leviticus 10:1-2)– Why? – Because they worshiped the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob the way THEY wanted to and not the way HE wanted to be worshiped. Even though they claimed to follow the God of Israel, they were judged according to their ACTIONS.
Jeroboam created TWO golden calves in Dan and Bethel (1 Kings 12:28-29), created his own feasts and appointed his own priests, contrary to the commandment (1 Kings 12:32-33).What’s more, Jeroboam declared these to be the same God that led the Israelites out of Egypt. This sin caused YHWH to cut off Jeroboam’s entire house from the face of the earth (1 Kings 13:34). Even to this day, the sin of Jeroboam plagues our churches.– Why? – Because they worshiped (and currently worship) the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob the way THEY wanted to and not the way HE wanted to be worshiped. Even though they claimed to follow the God of Israel, they were judged according to their ACTIONS.
And . . . surprise, surprise . . . the Father’s standard did not change between the Old and the New Testaments! He still judges people’s commitment to Him based upon what they DO.
But in accordance with your hardness and your impenitent heart you are treasuring up for yourself wrath in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God, who “will render to each one according to his deeds.”
The sea gave up the dead who were in it, and Death and Hades delivered up the dead who were in them. And they were judged, each one according to his works.
Kinda throws a monkey-wrench into your “saved by grace through faith” dogma, doesn’t it?
Why do I say all this and what does it have to do with the church fathers and martyrdom?
The bottom line is that the church fathers were fallible men.
Their teachings, although virtually canonized by today’s Christian academics, were also subject to the bias and whimsy of the ages they grew up in. I think I’ve proved this with the last couple posts.
Whether or not the church fathers’ martyrdom (as well as today’s christian martyrs) will be in honor or in vain boils down to one question.
Were they a true witness of Yeshua?
Did they follow the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob like the Master? ~ or ~
Did they follow their own versions of a golden calf?
Did they CREATE a god, slap a Jesus sticker on it and bow down to worship it?
The answer to this question will become more and more evident, throughout this series.
Time for a little side-step
So far in the series, I have attempted to give you an idea as to how and why the “Christian doctrine” morphed into something other than what it was meant to be.
We’re going to do a little side-step in our next post and address a phenomenon that was occurring before, during and a few centuries after the days Yeshua walked the earth.
It’s not talked about much in the Bible (directly), but it was definitely a force to be reckoned with.
. . . and our battle with it isn’t over. Stay tuned!