Hallowed and Halloween

Today is October 31. So, it’s Halloween. An annual holiday celebrated in the United States as well as some other countries.

The word “Halloween” literally means “hallowed evening” or “holy evening.” It appears Halloween has its origin in ancient Celtic harvest festivals, with possible pagan roots. Later the Catholic Church, as decreed by Pope Gregory III, designated November 1 as a time to honor saints, so October 31 became known as “All Hollow’s Eve.”

Neither a day to celebrate saints nor commemorate Halloween is authorized Biblically in any religious sense. It is a secular holiday. It’s time for trick or treating, attending costume parties, carving pumpkins into jack-o’lanterns, lighting bonfires, and watching scary movies.

However, this might be a good time to think about the word “hallow” in Halloween as it relates to holiness.

Hallow isn’t a word commonly used today. The Bible word is actually a form of the word for “sanctify,” “set apart” or “holy.” Thirteen times in the Old Testament the word “hallowed” is used to speak of God’s name, God’s  Sabbath, or God’s people (Lev. 22:32, Ex. 20:11, Ezek. 20:41).

God’s name is holy. Hallowed. Reverend. His name is not to be used in vain. It is not to be used as an exclamation mark or shock or surprise as in OMG! In the model prayer, Jesus taught the disciples to address God as “Hallowed be your name” (Matt. 6:9). The Psalmist proclaimed, “Let them praise your great and awesome name–He is holy” (Ps. 99:3).

God also has a set apart day. In the Old Testament, it was the Sabbath. In Exodus 20:7 the Bible says, “Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it.” Under the law of Christ, the first day of the week is set apart as a “holy day.” We call it Sunday. In our day it’s easy to forget that Sunday belongs to God and not the NFL! It is a sanctified day. A day of worship. A day of remembrance. A day of spiritual fellowship. Hallowed.

And God’s people are to be sanctified. Consecrated. Set apart. And dedicated to Him. Christians are called saints. Holy. And yes, hallowed.

The New Testament Greek word translated “hallowed” is used 28 times and is rendered “sanctify,” “sanctified” and “holy.” It means to “separate from things profane and dedicate to God.”

Paul admonished Timothy to be a vessel sanctified and useful for God by pursuing “righteousness, faith, love, [and] peace with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart” and by avoiding “foolish and ignorant disputes, knowing that they generate strife” (2Tim. 2:21-23).

The Corinthian Christians, some of whom were previously fornicators, idolaters, homosexuals, and thieves were “sanctified,” “washed,” and “cleansed.” They had now become vessels of holiness instead of containers of corruption. Their lives were set apart.

Tonight little children will go door to door, wearing costumes, carrying bags, and begging for candy. But thinking of these little goblins scarfing down their sweet treats can remind us to ask ourselves, “What is filling the vessel of my life?”

Am I drinking at a bitter fountain that leads to foolish disputes, discord, and division? Or am I imbibing at the sweet stream that yields the peaceable fruit 0f righteousness, faith, and love?” Am I filling my soul with the husks of carnality, or the substance of spirituality? Am I feeding upon the bread of life? Or am I like Esau trading my birthright for a mess of pottage that fails to satisfy the soul?

Furthermore, let’s  not use Halloween as an excuse to engage in any behavior, dress or activities that compromises our consecration to Christ.

In a culture that too often has greater interest in Halloween than in holiness, may we hallow our Lord. Weekly set apart His day. And daily keep our own vessel holy, hallowed and pure.

—Ken Weliever, The Preacherman

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