The Christmas Debate

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Posted by Truth Ignited on Monday, December 17, 2018

 

            Every year, beginning just after the American cultural holiday of Thanksgiving, even the least committed of Christians suddenly become a little bit religious. They may even go to Church one of the only times in the year they decide to go listen to a sermon preached. They do this because of a single day that has caused so much debate and controversy over the centuries: Christmas Day.

            I will be presenting a variety of strong information in this message. Many people will not want to read this whole article. Perhaps they are not ready to face what I will share. Perhaps they can’t fathom anything being “wrong” with Christmas. Perhaps they think I’m just another religious fanatic who has gone off the deep end. Whatever the case may be, if you have come across this message and begun to read and at any time feel like you can’t read more, know that I am OK with that. It is not my intent to force truth on you, only to present it in hopes that it will be received. I would ask one thing of you though. If you get to a place where you think this message is just ridiculous religious hatred of a holiday you love, before you stop reading, even if it is right at this paragraph, scroll to the end and read the final segment subtitled What Will You Do?

            To many professing Christians, Christmas is the day many have come to believe is the “birthday” of Yeshua (“Jesus”), our Master and Messiah. All indications, however, are that He was actually born either during the Feast of Tabernacles Season or possibly the Passover Season, both of which are the major commanded Feast Times of Yahweh from Torah. While I lean toward the Tabernacles theory, both have valid arguments. Regardless, it is very well established that December 25th is NOT when Yeshua was born.

            This poses a very important question: If Yeshua was not born on December 25th, and we therefore remove the Nativity story from Christmas, what are we left with?

            That is what I want to explore in this message as we look at how Christmas originated, where many traditions of the holiday come from, and seek to determine whether or not this is a celebration that honors God in any way. People have pondered over this as long as I can remember. Even growing up in a Calvinist Baptist Church I recall debates about whether or not it was appropriate, as a Christian, to incorporate such things as Santa Claus and Christmas trees into the Christmas celebration or make it solely about the Nativity event. I even remember as a teenager a friend coming back from a trip to another state where her family attended a Church service and the minister apparently led them to Jeremiah 10 and talked about how much a Christmas tree resembles the description there (we will talk about that passage and its relationship, if any, to Christmas trees further into this message). So, clearly the debacle about Jeremiah 10 is not exclusive to Messianic and Hebrew Roots groups. It’s something that Christians have talked about for a very long time.

The Origins Of Christmas

Christmas 1            When it comes to how Christmas started there are primarily two opinions. I will discuss both of them here. Let me emphasize right from the beginning, both are theories. This is important to understand going into this both here and later in this message. Regarding when Christmas started, that seems to be a bit more clear. The first known date of a December 25th celebration of Messiah’s birth appears to be documented in an early Roman publication from 354 A.D. where it is recorded: “25 Dec.: natus Christus in Betleem Judeae” (December 25, Christ was born in Bethlehem of Judaea). The date of this first “Christmas” celebration is listed as 336 A.D., over 300 years after the life and ministry of Yeshua. That alone should be a major cause for concern!

            According to Christianity In The Later Roman Empire: A Sourcebook by Dr. David M. Gwynn, a lecturer in ancient and late antique history at the University of London, “No evidence from before the fourth century suggests that Christ’s birth was celebrated on 25 December.” As I noted in my article WWJB: When Was Jesus Born?, there is evidence, though not the strongest, that the earliest Messianic Believers celebrated, commemorated, or at least connected Yeshua’s birth with the Feast of Tabernacles, and much of the clues we have from The Bible point toward the Nativity event having occurred at some point during the Fall Feasts of Yahweh, which include the Day of Trumpets, the Days of Awe, the Day of Atonement, and the Feast of Tabernacles.

            Another major concern with the winter dating of the Nativity event are the multitude of claims that the festival known today as Christmas was adapted from a Roman pagan festival known as Saturnalia where the god Saturn was honored. This time was also the winter solstice and in Roman religion it was a festival of the rebirth of the sun, deified as Sol Invictus – The Unconquered Sun. It is important to note that, while the sun was deified in this manner, it was not considered a god in the way many other characters in ancient religion were. There are many claims that various pagan gods were “born” on December 25th. None of these claims seems to hold up, apart from the connection with Sol Invictus, which is more of a deifying of the literal sun itself and not exactly the same as the creation of idols and gods. There is a great article by author Tyler Dawn Rosenquist titled Q: How Many Pagan Gods Were Born of Virgins (or even born) on December 25th? A: Zero that I definitely recommend if you are hearing claims of all sorts of gods apart from the Roman Sol Invictus being connected to a December 25th birth.

            All appearances are that the connection between the origins of Christmas and the winter solstice celebrations surrounding the Roman Saturnalia and Sol Invictus were first theorized by Hermann Usener in his work Weihnachtsfest (published in 1911) and Paul Ernst Jablonski in his works, including one titled Opuscula (published in 1809). Steven Hijmans, an Associate Professor at the University of Alberta, challenges these claims in his written work Usener’s Christmas: A contribution to the modern construct of late antique solar syncretism. For those who want to dig deep into both sides of the issue, those three sources would be the best place to start.

            While it is widely accepted that Christmas was the invention of the early Roman Catholic Church, then called the New Roman Religion as established by the Roman Emperor Constantine, and many have concluded in line with the above claims that the celebration was deliberately patterned after the Roman festivals surrounding Saturn and Sol Invictus, there is a second claim to the origins of Christmas that is perhaps less dramatic, but still equally concerning. This claim states that the institution of Christmas as the Nativity date, December 25, is based primarily on well-intentioned efforts to calculate the date by early “Christians”. One of the dates identified, of course, was December 25th. This was based on poor data and also a belief that Yeshua was conceived on the exact same day of the year as He was crucified, something that appears to be nothing more than an urban legend propagated by the early Roman Catholic system.

            In addressing this issue, William J. Tighe, Ph. D., a professor at Muhlenberg College in Allentown, Pennsylvania, says the following in his article Calculating Christmas: The Story Behind December 25:

Many Christians think that Christians celebrate Christ’s birth on December 25th because the church fathers appropriated the date of a pagan festival. Almost no one minds, except for a few groups on the fringes of American Evangelicalism, who seem to think that this makes Christmas itself a pagan festival. But it is perhaps interesting to know that the choice of December 25th is the result of attempts among the earliest Christians to figure out the date of Jesus’ birth based on calendrical calculations that had nothing to do with pagan festivals.

Rather, the pagan festival of the “Birth of the Unconquered Sun” instituted by the Roman Emperor Aurelian on 25 December 274, was almost certainly an attempt to create a pagan alternative to a date that was already of some significance to Roman Christians. Thus the “pagan origins of Christmas” is a myth without historical substance.

            What I find particularly shocking is that I have seen some professing Christians, even among Messianic circles, use Tighe’s argument to try and justify celebrating Christmas. Well, our King deserves a birthday celebration, and if the paganism didn’t come first, why not give Him a celebration they argue. Sure, OK, let’s give Him a celebration… but why not do it at a more appropriate time like the Feast of Tabernacles? Or even the Passover if you are more inclined to the presentation of those who claim that time for the Nativity event? I mean, at least you will find both of those celebrations in The Bible. But there is really no possible justification to celebrate the King’s birth on December 25th, as will become increasingly clear as we move through the rest of this message.

            Ultimately, however, regardless of whether the chicken or the egg—Christmas or Saturnalia—came first, it does seem very apparent that there was clear assimilation between the two festivals at some point in the early history. Christmas is also not found anywhere in The Bible, of course, as it was invented roughly 300 years after the life and ministry of Yeshua and at least 200 or more years after the conclusion of the ministry of the Apostles, which may have went as late as the end of the first century.

            While I do not endorse at all the “ministry” of Rabbi Tovia Singer, a radical counter-missionary who feels it is his calling to stop Christians from evangelizing the Jewish people and to convince those Jews who have accepted Yeshua as Messiah to renounce Him and return to Orthodox Judaism, he provides an interesting thought in a question answered on his website “Outreach Judaism”. Asked by a follower about harmonizing with family that embraces Christianity and Christmas, Singer begins his reply by saying:

The month of December often ushers in a season of strained family relations when its members are made up of both Christians and Jews. Of all Christian holidays, one would least expect Christmas to generate family tumult, considering that Christian teachers have long abandoned the claim that Jesus was actually born on December 25th.

No date or year for Jesus’ birth is suggested in the New Testament. The Book of Mark – the earliest Gospel, written about 65 CE – contains no infancy story, and begins with the baptism of an adult Jesus. Paul, whose letters are the oldest epistles in the Christian canon, also made no comment about the date of Jesus’ birth. Clearly, the earliest Christians lacked interest in or knowledge of Jesus’ birthdate.

            I want you to think about two things regarding what the Rabbi says in his declaration that Christian teachers have long abandoned the claim that Yeshua was born on December 25th. First, if we know that He was not born on that date, and we realize that He was born in conjunction with one of the Major Biblical Feast Seasons, then the modern celebration of Christmas, with the Nativity event removed, becomes nothing more than a blend of secular and pagan traditions. What we have left is an invention of the Catholic Church mixed with religious beliefs from outside of The Bible and Judeo-Christian faith. I recently heard a minister dispelling Christian celebration of Halloween by talking about how, aside from the blatantly occult side of it, the institution of All Saints Day is Catholic and he’s not Catholic. Well, the same can and should be said about Christmas. It’s Catholic and pagan, and if you are a Christian, then you are neither Catholic nor pagan.

            The second thing I want you to notice is that people like Singer can and do use the blatantly wrong beliefs of Christians, such as Christmas, to discredit Christianity. It’s really not a difficult thing to do you know. We live in a time when information is easily accessible. Unbelievers, atheists, counter-missionaries, and many others often know more about Christianity than Christians do and they know how to get real facts literally at the palm of their hand with their miniature computers called smartphones. It’s no longer going to work to keep holding onto traditions that are blatantly opposed to The Bible.

            People are waking up to these truths, and many are leaving Christianity because of it. If you believe in Christmas so strongly, why don’t you go and try to evangelize an educated atheist using just the celebration of Christmas to convince them to convert to Christianity. See how well that goes for you.

            If true Judeo-Christian faith has any hope of long-term survival, we absolutely MUST reconsider what our priorities are and if we should be holding onto traditions that are not in The Bible and have any connection at all to religions that are opposed by The Bible. Christmas (and Easter for that matter) fits that category. It should be of major concern to us when a belief that is wrong becomes a tool that can so easily be used to lead people in renouncing faith in Yeshua. And whether or not people want to face reality that is exactly what is happening today because of things like Christmas. I have witnessed people who are shown these truths about things like Christmas by the wrong people and within a short time they are either becoming angry and hostile to Christians, renounce Yeshua as Messiah, or both. It is that important that Christianity renounces things like this so that people can receive truths like this from reliable ministries instead of these fringe groups that are leading people astray.

            It is very difficult to convince people to take the truth serious when it is mixed with lies. However Christmas started, at best it is based on a clearly wrong calculation by a well-intentioned person with bad information. At worst it is an outright defiance of God’s Torah, as Deuteronomy 12:4 (NLT) says, “Do not worship the Lord your God in the way these pagan peoples worship their gods.” Either way, knowing the truth and holding to the tradition anyway is embracing a lie. And who does The Bible say is the father of lies (John 8:44)?

Christmas Used To Be Illegal!

Christmas 2            What very few Christians know today is that there was a time when it was illegal to celebrate Christmas in the United States. In the book Shocked By The Bible: The Most Astonishing Facts You’ve Never Been Told, author Joe Kovacs states:

Despite the assumptions of many, Christmas was not a widespread holiday in colonial America. In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, settlers in New England did not celebrate it. Shocking as it sounds, followers of Jesus Christ in both America and England helped pass laws making it illegal to observe Christmas, believing it was an insult to God to honor a day associated with ancient paganism. Most Americans today are unaware that Christmas was banned in Boston from 1659 to 1681.

Additionally, on December 25, 1789, the first Christmas under the new U.S. Constitution, Congress was in session. Whether or not the politicians were actually hard at work is another story. Christmas was not declared a federal holiday until 1870.

            It has been said by some modern preachers that there is much to be gained by a return to the discarded values of the past. Well, consider the discarded value that it is an insult to Yahweh our God to honor a day associated with ancient paganism! In addition to the connections with the Roman festivals, many modern Christmas traditions come from the Norse-Germanic pagan festival of Yule, adapted into Christmas as Christianity moved across Europe.

            People often like to talk about how the United States was founded as a Christian nation, but do they want the type of Christianity that founded America? Do they want a Christianity that actually holds to a standard of biblical truth and holiness?

            It is said that the Puritans lived alongside a community of Sephardic Jews prior to immigrating to America and were heavily influenced by them. While maintaining their Calvinist and Replacement Theology views, it appears these Puritans also developed some understanding of the Hebraic foundations of their faith. They even are said to have modeled the first Thanksgiving celebration after the biblical Feast of Tabernacles and viewed their trek across the Atlantic ocean to the new land as a parallel to the Israelite journey through the sea that God opened and into their Promised Land.

            Some would label the Puritans who banned Christmas as strict legalists, and in some ways perhaps they were. But it is not legalistic to reject the celebration of something unbiblical or extrabiblical that has such a strong connection with religions and religious practices other than those found in The Bible. I am often perplexed by the things I see Christians do. It’s one thing to be ignorant to the truth and blindly follow some charismatic leader that also doesn’t know the truth. It’s another thing to hear the truth and reject it because you either don’t care, just want to fit in with the crowd, or actually enjoy doing things that are outright opposed by your own God.

            In Judges 17:6 and 21:25 Scripture tells us of a time when there was no king in Israel and everyone did what was right in his own eyes. Proverbs 14:12 warns, “There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death.” Just because you see everyone else in the culture you are surrounded by—even everyone who goes to a Christian Church regularly—doing a thing does not mean it is something God approves of. What I have covered already should be more than enough to question whether or not God would ever approve of the Christmas celebration. As I continue on with this message, hopefully that question will lead you even more convincingly to the realization that He most likely DOES NOT approve of Christmas. At all!

Christmas Carols

Christmas 3            One of the highlights of the Christmas celebration is the singing of festive songs commonly known as carols. An older tradition that is not as widely practiced today is called caroling and involved a small group of people going from door to door, knocking or ringing the doorbell, and then proceeding to sing to those who open their door.

            Many Christians use Christmas music as a positive argument to celebrate the holiday. Christmas songs are playing everywhere, the message of the birth of our Messiah is ringing in the ears of people at the malls, grocery stores, and anywhere else you find yourself they contend.

            When was the last time you were out somewhere that was playing Christmas music and heard a song that actually presented the Nativity story or some other biblical message? With the possible exception of an occasional hearing of the song Silent Night, the only biblical carol that seems to have stood the test of time, you rarely if ever hear a Bible-based carol in secular public places anymore, because the message of Christianity is offensive to the world. Most of the songs you hear have nothing to do with The Bible and, even worse, a large majority are about the mythical character Santa Claus. I will not be talking a lot about this character in this article, I do have a message that deals with the full history of him titled Meet Santa Claus that I recommend reading as a companion to this message. But it becomes a challenge to talk about Christmas music without mentioning this figure that is derived straight out of Norse pagan religion (again, read my article about it).

            Let’s take a look at some of the most popular songs on the list of Christmas carols.

Jingle Bells – A song about riding through the snow in an open sleigh pulled by a single horse. And bells.

Let It Snow – A song about snow.

White Christmas – Another song about snow.

Winter Wonderland – Still another song about snow… and building a snowman.

Oh, Christmas Tree – A song sung in worship to the decorated tree that is a centerpiece of the Christmas celebration (an open act of idolatry).

Rockin’ Around The Christmas Tree – Another song of worship to the Christmas tree (again, idolatry).

Santa Claus Is Coming To Town – A song about Santa Claus. Enough said.

Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer – A song about one of Santa’s “flying” reindeer.

Santa Baby – An erotic song about a woman trying to entice Santa Claus.

I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus – OK, not even going to say anything, the title alone says it all.

It’s The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year – No, not really. The Feast of Tabernacles, from The Bible, is called The Season of our Joy and should probably have that title. Certainly this honor should not be given to the unbiblical secular-pagan Christmas festival.

            I could go on and on, as I am sure you know. You’ve probably heard all of these popular songs and many more. Let me ask you some questions: what does any of this have to do with The Bible? How does any of this honor and glorify God?

            Recently a bunch of commotion started regarding the song Baby, It’s Cold Outside, a musical piece from the 1949 film Neptune’s Daughter where it tells the story of a man trying to entice his lady friend to stay with him a little longer. The controversy is that people are seeing this as an action pushing the lines of forcing the woman to have sex against her wishes. While that may or may not have been the message in the song, it begs the question: Is that the message that should be associated with the birth of our Messiah? Sexual intimacy outside of marriage? Regardless of whether or not it is “forced”?

            I have been hearing a lot of people lately talk about having Kingdom instead of culture. But then you see those same people who preach that from their pulpits engaging in the culture, promoting secular music, pushing movies that have nothing to do with God and in some cases radically oppose Him, and embracing so many other cultural things that are exactly what they preached against. This is never more true than at Christmas when the overwhelming majority of Christians completely ignore their Bibles in favor of secular traditions, Roman pagan traditions, Norse pagan traditions, and so on. I really have to wonder how Christians can possibly think God is pleased by any of this! Consider these three points from Yeshua’s rebuke to certain religious leaders recorded in Mark 7:

  1. They left behind the commandment of God to hold onto the tradition of men (verse 8, TLV).
  2. They set aside the commandment of God in order to validate their own tradition (verse 9, TLV).
  3. They make void the Word of God through their own traditions that they handed down (verse 13, TLV)

            Traditions, Christmas included, that are not from The Bible and essentially oppose The Bible will cause you to set aside The Bible, leave behind The Bible, and when it’s all said and done void the power and authority of The Bible from operating in your life. Keep celebrating Christmas and you will be left with a FALSE RELGION that looks a lot like Christianity but is in fact far removed from it.

            2 Corinthians 6:17 tells us to come out from among them, and be separate. The term “them” in the passage refers to anyone and everyone who is not living wholly according to the Word of God. Yet so many Christians are mesmerized by this celebration that practically everyone celebrates, whether they believe in Yeshua or not. How many unsaved people do you know celebrating the Feasts of God listed in Torah? It’s possible you might know someone who is Jewish but has not accepted Yeshua (yet) as their Messiah, but they are probably still living way more biblically than most of the Christians you know. But you don’t see atheists celebrating Hanukkah or the Feast of Tabernacles. You don’t see so-called “not practicing Christians”—you know, the ones who say they believe in “Jesus” but never go to Church and have never read a Bible—celebrating Purim or the Feast of Unleavened Bread. But they all celebrate Christmas.

            Exodus 23:2 says not to follow the crowd when they are doing what is wrong. James 4:4 says that when you befriend the ways of the world you are an adulterer toward and enemy of God. But all I ever hear is nonsense like “Oh, but they have Christmas at all the Churches. They have the trees up. They have Santa Claus there for the kids. How can it be wrong if the Church is doing it?” In a moment I will be sharing a history of ancient Israel. You will see that they did the SAME THING. In Israel! In God’s Temple! And The Bible repeatedly says it’s evil and wrong!

            Do you know why even atheists have no issue celebrating Christmas? Because atheists at least have enough sense to know that it’s not a Christian holiday and it’s the height of Christian hypocrisy to celebrate it. You cannot come out from among them and be separate if you are celebrating their secular-pagan festivals.

The Tree

Christmas 4            Let me take just a moment to talk about the Christmas tree tradition. This is often a topic of much controversy. I have dealt with it in the past, and my feelings have not changed. The primary passage from Scripture that people use comes from the Book of the Prophet Jeremiah. Let’s look at what it says.

The customs of the peoples are useless:
    it is just a tree cut from the forest,
    the work of the hands of a craftsman with a chisel.
They decorate it with silver and gold,
    and fasten it with hammer and nails
        so it won’t totter.
~Jeremiah 10:3-4 (TLV)

            While on the surface this appears to be the exact description of the modern Christmas tree practice, the reality is that there was no such a thing in Jeremiah’s time. First of all, as already established, Christmas didn’t even exist until 300 years after the life and ministry of Yeshua. So there could not have been Christmas trees prior to that. The modern practice appears to come from the early 19th century in England, though it’s possible that a German tradition dating back as far as the 16th century is connected to the ritual, but no indications of such a tradition connected with Christmas appear to have existed earlier than that.

            Some point to the use of trees in pagan cultures, as seen on some reliefs from ancient temples and such, where a king or a god is depicted with a tree that resembles a Christmas tree. However, when put into their proper context, these almost always represent a tree of life motif that really traces back to Eden and the Tree of Life that was placed by God. We must always keep in mind that, according to our faith, God was first. All pagan religions ultimately trace back to someone deviating from the ways of God. That does not mean it’s ever OK to embrace a pagan religious tradition. It simply means that sometimes those traditions actually have their origins from something biblical, and not the other way around.

            To further expound on this, in my article Defiling The Temple I talk about how many man-made food and clothing products defy the work of God’s Creation. Creating a genetically modified corn plant says that God did not do a good enough job when He created corn. Making artificial fabrics like polyester says that natural cotton, linen, and wool are not good enough fibers for making clothes and other textiles with.

            The same applies to paganizing things like the Tree of Life. From a biblical perspective, the tree is pure. But when it is taken and manipulated into something evil, it is now something that should be shunned. Think of it like a pumpkin. The pumpkin itself—and for the purpose God made it—is good. Pumpkin pie and pumpkin bread are wonderful things! But when someone takes the pumpkin and carves it into a lantern for the Halloween celebration, it becomes evil and wrong—even if they do it at a so-called “Christian Church”.

            So what do we do with the Christmas tree? Well, while it may not have existed in Jeremiah’s day, the Prophet’s description is strikingly identical to the modern Christmas tree tradition. As already noted, there are even songs of worship sung to the tree. Clearly, the decorated tree, especially in celebrating a secular-pagan festival like Christmas, is blatant idolatry.

            There are those who celebrate Hanukkah, a celebration that can be found in The Bible and connected with the life and ministry of Yeshua (John 10:22-23), and some modern practices of that celebration have incorporated a decorated tree. Also, a traditional practice during the Feast of Pentecost, one of the commanded feasts from Torah, involves decorating with trees (though, in this case it is not remotely close to the Christmas tree tradition). The Tree of Life is of major importance in a genuine Bible-based faith. So, perhaps, so long as you are not actually celebrating a secular-pagan festival like Christmas or worshiping the tree, there is no harm in using a tree for decoration. After all, many people use pumpkins to decorate for the Feast of Tabernacles and don’t see it as similar to pumpkins used in the celebration of Halloween (and, obviously, in decorating for the Feast of Tabernacles they don’t make lanterns out of the pumpkins).

            No, I am absolutely not endorsing the practice of decorating a tree in your home, especially during the “winter holiday season”. Even in connection with Hanukkah I do not wholly endorse the practice. My point is that on the matter of decorated trees, the line might not be so easily identified. Sometimes I think a lot of well-intentioned people go to the greatest of extremes.

            This year I used a Hanukkah menorah designed to represent the Tree of Life in my home celebration of the festival. I also have two small lighted imitation birch trees I display on the table with my Hanukkah menorah. I got each of my children a small sun-catcher Hanukkah ornament to paint, and when they were done I—gasp—hung the ornaments from those two imitation birch trees. I don’t think any of that pushed the limits of the Christmas tree ritual.

            I have often said it’s best to err on the side of caution. Clearly, it appears that there is nothing regarding Christmas that should be embraced by a Christian. That would include a tree. Regarding other celebrations, especially Hanukkah (being so close to Christmas), I do not recommend using a decorated tree, but I also am not convinced it is absolutely and rigidly wrong. I don’t see the need for a questionable practice involving decorated trees for any celebration. Perhaps it does cross that line where God said not to use acts of worship from other nations in our worship toward Him. Perhaps it does not. I, for one, would rather not find out. I know I will stand before Him one day and give an account for the works done in my flesh. And, whether you want to hear it or not, you will too.

            In the Gospel record we find Yeshua reviewing the Torah to the people in the famous sermon on the mount. One of the issues He addresses is divorce. He acknowledges that under Torah divorce is permitted, but He claims this is only because of hardness of heart. He appears to give a stricter view and only permits for divorce in cases of adultery. This brings up an important point. It is not wrong to restrict something that is permitted, but it is wrong to allow something that is not permitted. So, it may not be wrong to decorate a tree, but there is nothing that says you have to decorate a tree in order to get to heaven. Why not just play it safe? Choose to just love and follow God over the traditions of men. Actually choose Kingdom over culture instead of just wearing a t-shirt that says it.

History From The “Old Testament”

Christmas 5            Let me take you on a short journey through The Bible and look at a few things that happened in the history of Israel, the chosen people of our God. Unfortunately, most Christians today are completely unaware of these events, for the most part, because they are rarely mentioned in modern Churches. Even if they do find mention, they are either ignored in favor of other more positive aspects of the storyline or they are spun into a context that avoids any connection to modern practices.

When the people saw that Moses delayed coming down from the mountain, they gathered around Aaron. They said to him, “We don’t know what has happened to this Moses, who led us out of Egypt. Make gods who will lead us.” Aaron said to them, “Have your wives, sons, and daughters take off the gold earrings they are wearing, and bring them to me.” So all the people took off their gold earrings and handed them to Aaron. After he had worked on the gold with a tool, he made it into a statue of a calf. Then they said, “Israel, here are your gods who brought you out of Egypt.” When Aaron saw this, he built an altar in front of it and announced, “Tomorrow there will be a festival in Yahweh’s honor.”
~Exodus 32:1-5 (NOG)

            So, here we see the Israelites at the base of Mount Sinai, while Moses is meeting with God to receive the Torah, only 50 days since they were delivered from Egyptian slavery, and they decide to build a golden calf. This calf was patterned after an object of worship in Egyptian religion, it was most certainly not something that they were supposed to be molding out of their gold. Then, after they create this calf they institute a man-made festival in Yahweh’s honor.

            So, do you think God felt honored by this? Obviously we can tell by the way the rest of the passage reads that this was not received by God as an acceptable festival of worship. So why would we think that God finds it acceptable to take this Saturnalia festival and rebrand it into a festival in honor of His Son? Even if we conclude alongside Tighe, it doesn’t really change the whole thing. The Saturnalia festival still makes its way into the picture—as well as the Yule festival and many other secular and pagan traditions over the years—and it’s not Yeshua’s date of birth anyway. The order of events is really quite irrelevant; at the end of the whole thing it’s still a giant blend of error, secularism, and paganism.

Judah did what was evil in Adonai’s eyes. They provoked Him to jealousy with more than all that their forefathers had done with the sins that they committed. They also built for themselves high places, sacred pillars and Asherah poles on every high hill and under every leafy tree; and there were also male cult prostitutes in the land. They did the same abominations as those of the nations that Adonai had driven out before the children of Israel.
~1 Kings 14:22-24 (TLV)

            In this passage we see the result of Solomon’s demise late in life as he married a host of foreign women who brought their gods with them into Israel, as recorded in 1 Kings 11. This segment of the story from chapter 14 also marks the beginning of a pattern that would be repeated over and over again by many of Israel’s kings that would follow.

            Throughout the rest of the Books of 1 and 2 Kings we see that most of the kings continue the trend started in chapter 14. There were Asherah poles, incense burning in high places, altars to Baal, golden calves, and all manner of idolatry and paganism throughout the land. I have listed the full history of this series of events in another article titled That’s Not What If Means To Me!

            Today it seems people read these stories and want to demonize ancient Israel as if they just woke up one day and said “Hey, let’s renounce God and start worshiping idols!” I don’t think for a minute that’s what happened. I believe that this was as natural an act of assimilation as what led to modern holidays like Christmas, Easter, and Halloween taking precedence in Christian Churches while God’s Holy Feasts have been long forgotten. Clearly with the introduction of foreign influences when Solomon married all those women from the surrounding nations, the religious traditions they brought with them developed into cultural norms. This is exactly how we got where we are today in modern Christianity with our culturally-accepted unbiblical holidays.

They built the high places of Baal in the Valley of Ben-Hinnom, to make their sons and their daughters pass through fire to Molech—something I never commanded them, nor did it enter My mind that they would do this loathsome thing, causing Judah to sin.
~Jeremiah 32:35 (TLV)

            While there is no actual historical connection between them, the action described here is eerily similar to what people do during modern Christmas in regard to Santa Claus traditions. A common misconception today is that passing children through the fire of Molech involved the death of the child, burned in the fire that raged in a furnace built into the belly of the giant idol-statue of the god. Reality is that only happened in the most extreme cases and usually children were not even harmed. The practice typically was just an act of placing the child on the lap of the Molech statue in a ceremony not too far from the religious ritual of sitting a child on the lap of someone dressed as the Christmas god Santa Claus.

            These are but three of the major acts of defiant idol worship and pagan rituals that plagued Israel throughout its history. The parallels to what modern Christianity does during Christmas are undeniable, yet so many refuse to see them. But now I want to pose a very important question…

Is It Holy?

Christmas 6            This is a question I have posed many times for many topics, and it seems most appropriate to bring up here as I move toward the end of this message: Is it holy?

            Can we call the Christmas celebration holy? In order for something to be considered holy requires it to be set apart and sanctified as such by the Word of God.

            This is true of all religions actually. For example, in order for something to be considered holy by a Muslim, it would have to be set apart and sanctified by the Quran. In order for something to be holy in Hinduism it would have to be set apart and sanctified as such in the Vedas. If we turn to Buddhism, something would have to be set apart and sanctified in the Tripitaka (Pali Canon) for it to be considered holy to a Buddhist.

            So the question then, in Judeo-Christian faith—that is, the faith of Christians and Jews—Can we consider Christmas to be holy? Does The Bible set apart and sanctify Christmas? Of course not! Christmas is not even mentioned in The Bible. It didn’t even exist when The Bible was completed.

            There is also no commandment in The Bible to celebrate the birthday of Yeshua our Messiah. This is an important but often overlooked point. If a celebration of the Nativity event were holy—set apart and sanctified by Scripture—we would have a clear commandment for it in The Bible.

            Now, this does not mean we cannot have a celebration to commemorate His birth. We can. But should it be December 25th?

            Because there are two valid though conflicting time periods theorized for Messiah’s birth—the Feast of Passover and the Feast of Tabernacles (some claim He was born on the Feast of Trumpets specifically, but that is part of the overall Feast of Tabernacles season)—we cannot come to an absolute conclusion as to when He was born. I personally feel the best evidence points to the Feast of Tabernacles, but some hold a different view. Regardless, what these competing theories do make very clear is that Yeshua absolutely, positively WAS NOT born in the middle of the winter. Werner Keller states in his book The Bible As History: “Astronomers and historians, secular and ecclesiastical, are however unanimous that December 25 of the year one was not the authentic date of the birth of Christ, neither as regards the year or the day.”

            According to the Babylonian Talmud: Beitzah 40a, “Pasture animals are such as are led out about [the time of] Passover and graze in [more distant] meadows, and who are led in at the time of the first rainfall (October-November)” Luke 2:8 tells us that at the time of the Nativity event shepherds were in the fields with their flocks of sheep. They were not in the fields on December 25th. Even if shepherds in Israel are taking sheep out to pasture in December today, they were not when Yeshua was born. The timeline presented by the Talmud, which is accurate to the time Yeshua was born, is in harmony with the Nativity event being during the Feast of Passover or the Feast of Tabernacles, but it absolutely opposes the Nativity event occurring on December 25th for Christmas.

            Knowing this, we must consider the necessity of removing the myth of a Christmas Nativity from the celebration. We cannot “put Christ back into Christmas” because He was never there to begin with. And once the Nativity is removed from the holiday, the only thing we are left with is a festival full of secular and pagan practices that have nothing to do with our faith, in many cases outright oppose our faith, and do nothing to glorify our God.

            I have often heard, as noted in the introduction of this message, sincere Believers argue that we need to get rid of the secularism, commercialism, and paganism and make Christmas only about the Nativity event. No decorated trees. No Santa Claus. No gift exchanges. No holiday lights. Just a celebration of the birth of Messiah. The problem with this false hope is that it is based on impossibilities. It is historically impossible to remove the paganism from Christmas, it’s there whether we want to believe it is or not. Even if you personally removed all of it from your private celebration, these things are all a historical part of it and that cannot be changed. It is also Biblically and historically impossible to place the Nativity event on December 25th. Even if Tighe’s argument is the correct theory and the pagan festivals began separate from and even after the establishment of a Nativity celebration on December 25th, these pagan festivals still have a valid historical connection to this holiday and the Nativity simply does not. If it’s historically impossible to remove the pagan influences of Christmas—or at least of many Christmas traditions—and if it’s historically and Biblically impossible to place the Nativity event on or even near December 25th, then there is no real justification for Christians to continue with this festival that in all likelihood is considered an abomination by the very Messiah they claim to be honoring.

            I have said many times that there is never a wrong time to talk about or celebrate any area of the life of our Messiah. But that does not mean we have to actually celebrate Christmas to do that. Sure, we can take advantage of the Christmas time of year to talk to people about the truth regarding the Nativity event because they are willing to listen. Considering the idea that He was likely born during the Feast of Tabernacles, He would have been miraculously conceived in the virgin womb around the time of Hanukkah, a celebration you can actually find in The Bible. So there is justification to have a celebration related to the Nativity event in December without it involving Christmas. But considering the weight of evidence against a Christian celebration of Christmas and supporting the idea that your God, if you are a Christian, hates it, I would say it’s just smart to not celebrate Christmas in any form.

            Many times I hear people ask questions like “Is it a salvation issue?” or “Will I go to hell if I _________?” My response to such questions is simple: IS IT HOLY?

            So much of the time Christians ask the wrong questions. They are asking questions that seek to find out how much of the world they can have and still get to heaven. They ask questions to find out what they can get away with and still be saved. They ask questions to find out how much sin they can continue to live with and still avoid the lake of fire.

            Friends, these are the wrong questions! We should be asking if it’s holy. Is it set apart and sanctified in The Bible? Is it commanded in The Bible? Is it at least mentioned in The Bible and seemingly permitted by the text (as seems to be the case with the Hanukkah celebration)?

            If it’s not in The Bible, then why would you want anything to do with it? If there is any indication that it conflicts with The Bible, as it appears Christmas plainly does, why would you want anything to do with it?

What Will You Do?

woman with question mark            Perhaps you have been reading this message and made it this far, or you followed my request at the introduction and have jumped down to this final segment, and you are still questioning what I have shared. I understand, I really do. After all, Christmas has become more than just a simple religious or cultural celebration. It consumes people for most of the year, if not the whole year.

            Retail stores begin preparations for this holiday earlier every year. I have seen Christmas decorations start lining the shelves of some retail stores as early as August, more than four months before the holiday, and certainly some stores are putting their Christmas merchandise out for display earlier than that. Some people start to think about the next Christmas in January, not even having taken down their decorations yet, and some people have chosen to leave an artificial Christmas tree up in their home year-round. It seems almost impossible to avoid Christmas, so you feel you might as well not fight it.

            But I want you to think about something. Whether or not you read this whole message (as you can go back and read the whole thing if you have not already), I want you to consider the possibility that YOUR GOD is not pleased with this practice. Consider the following points I have shared throughout the message.

  • Christmas appears to be the result of an invention by the Roman Catholic religion and the assimilation of Roman and Norse paganism. If you are not a Roman Catholic and you are not a Norse pagan, then Christmas is not a part of your religious belief.
  • The first Christmas celebration occurred over 300 years after the life and ministry of Yeshua, so clearly the original “Christians” (if we should even call them by that title) did not practice it at all, for 300 years into the development of Christian faith.
  • Yeshua (“Jesus”) was clearly not born anywhere close to December 25th.
  • Little of the Christmas celebration today has anything to do with the Nativity story.
  • Most of the songs related to Christmas do not promote a biblical message or glorify God. Many of them are idolatrous songs of worship to the mythical character Santa Claus or a decorated tree.
  • Christmas is not mentioned anywhere in The Bible. There certainly is no commandment to celebrate it nor is it a prerequisite to get to heaven.
  • Christmas may be a violation of commandments from The Bible, particularly those related to idolatry, pagan worship practices, and the use of such practices in the worship of Yahweh (the Judeo-Christian God).
  • In the past, some Christians recognized these issues and actually rejected the practice of Christmas, even to the point of banning it and making it illegal to celebrate it.
  • The Christmas celebration (along with other popular holidays heavily embraced by Christianity, like Easter and Halloween) parallels the pagan ways of the nations embraced by ancient Israel as seen in the golden calf incident, the altars to Baal, the Asherah poles, the incense in high places, and placing their children on the lap of Molech.

            Despite all of these points, let’s assume for a moment that none of this information I have presented is true at all. Let’s assume that the sources I have cited as well as the plethora of sources I passed over, despite their reputation and reliability, are actually completely wrong.

            If Christmas is not assimilated from the Saturnalia festival and if it is not the result of a miscalculation in attempts to date the birth of Yeshua, would it matter? If everything I have shared about the origins and influences of Christmas in this message were wrong, we are still left with a celebration that is not in The Bible, has no record of being celebrated until 300 years after the events of The Bible concluded, and is at the very least a heavily secular and commercialized holiday that promotes God-denying culture over God’s Kingdom.

            A couple of years ago I posed a question to my mainstream Christian friends that, knowing Yeshua was not born on December 25th, if anyone could justify celebrating Christmas from The Bible. I got a lot of replies from people but nobody was able to provide an answer to the question. A couple of people said, “No, but…” The “but”, of course, followed by some excuse. Most of them, it seems, knew the question was unanswerable. You cannot justify celebrating Christmas with a Bible, and that is a huge problem.

            I can justify every one of the biblical Feasts with The Bible. The Major Feasts, of course, are listed in the Torah making them not only justified but also mandated by The Bible (see Leviticus 23). Regarding the minor festivals of Purim and Hanukkah, one is instituted in the Book of Esther and the other listed in connection with the life and ministry of Yeshua (see Esther 9:20-32, John 10:22-23). Even the modern Jewish ecological celebration of Tu B’Shvat is based on a commandment from Torah (see Leviticus 19:23-25). Nothing even remotely close to this can be said about Christmas, and sadly most Christians do not see anything wrong with that.

            Now let me ask you a question that I want you to really pause and think long and hard about, particularly if you think it’s just crazy to believe that Christmas is some great evil thing: What if YOUR GOD hates Christmas?

            If you claim to be a Christian in any capacity, you are claiming to serve the God of The Bible. That’s just a simple fact. So what happens to you if this celebration is evil in God’s eyes? What if He sees it the same way He saw Israel’s golden calf? What if he see is the same way He saw Israel’s Asherah poles and altars to Baal? What if He sees taking your child to sit on Santa’s lap the same way he saw Israel taking their children to be placed in the lap of Molech? Take a look at these lines from a sermon preached in 1871 by the highly regarded Charles H. Spurgeon titled Joy Born At Bethlahem:

We have no superstitious regard for times and seasons. Certainly we do not believe in the present ecclesiastical arrangement called Christmas: first, because we do not believe in the mass at all, but abhor it, whether it be said or sung in Latin or in English; and, secondly, because we find no Scriptural warrant whatever for observing any day as the birthday of the Saviour; and, consequently, its observance is a superstition, because not of divine authority. Superstition has fixed most positively the day of our Saviour’s birth, although there is no possibility of discovering when it occurred. … We venture to assert, that if there be any day in the year, of which we may be pretty sure that it was not the day on which the Saviour was born, it is the twenty-fifth of December. … In this country, too often, if one were unaware of the name, one might believe the Christmas festival to be a feast of Bacchus, or of Ceres, certainly not a commemoration of the Divine birth.

            While Spurgeon appears to have held strong Calvinist views that I do not endorse, he is regarded by a majority of Christianity today as the “prince of preachers”. It is certainly worth considering that this man, whose life’s teachings are an inspiration for so many Christian Pastors to this day, seemed so opposed to the Christmas festival.

            What will you do, hypothetically speaking of course, when you are standing before God, this world behind you, and eternity in front of you, and He asks you about this? Can you imagine if the one deciding factor between whether you spend eternity in heaven or hell is whether or not you heeded the words of this message to stop celebrating Christmas?

            Understand, of course, that I am absolutely NOT saying that anyone will go to hell for celebrating Christmas. Is there a real possibility of that? Sure there is! As this message and many others have established, there is no biblical basis for Christmas and it is connected with numerous pagan beliefs—something The Bible explicitly forbids. All I want you to do is to think very seriously about these things. Think about this message and the points I have made, even if just for a moment, as though you are standing before God and this celebration does oppose His Word and provoke His wrath.

            I often ask people: If you knew something you were doing is upsetting to God, would you stop? Most people say yes, until you suggest that something like Christmas is that thing.

            I know it is a very difficult thing to stand against the surrounding culture and even the backslidden “Christian Church”. And it certainly proves most challenging to do so between Thanksgiving and Christmas when everyone, including most of “Christianity”, is enjoying the seasonal festivities. But God is looking for someone to do the right thing. Positive change and true revival starts with individual people deciding to follow Him and not the world. God wants someone who will advance His Kingdom, not someone who wants to blend in and assimilate with a culture that opposes His Kingdom.

So I ask you: What will you do?

~Blessings and Shalom~

To learn more, CLICK HERE and check out all of the Truth Ignited articles.

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