ISN’T CHRIST THE REASON FOR THE SEASON?
Like many well-intentioned Christians, every December after becoming a believer I would set out on a mission to put Christ back into Christmas. Jesus was the reason for the season—or so I thought, up until five years ago.
Now I know that forcing Yeshua, the Messiah, into Christmas is mixing the sacred with the profane. It’s eating the forbidden fruit, fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. It’s syncretism. According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary syncretism is the “combination of different forms of belief or practices.”
HOW IS IT SYNCRETISM?
Unknown to most Christians, Christmas pre dates the birth of the Messiah by thousands of years. Traditions like present giving, carnivals with floats; caroling from house to house, and processions with lights go back centuries before Yeshua was even born.
From Babylon, the festival celebrating the sun-god Tammuz’s birth on December 25th had spread to Greece and Rome under different names after God confused language at the destruction of the tower of Babel. In Rome it melded with the Saturnalia festival.
Celebrated with candles, this holiday began with a pontiff standing in front of Saturn’s temple, exclaiming, ‘Ho Saturnalia! Ho Saturnalia!’ Under the rule of Emperor Aurelian, December 25th acquired new significance. He proclaimed it ‘Dies Natalis Invicti Solis’–the Birthday of the Unconquered Sun and declared it an official Roman holiday.
Mithras was identified also with the Unconquered Sun. During his festival all work ceased. Everything closed. Celebrants gorged on food, decked the halls with boughs of laurel and evergreen cuttings, and lit candles. They gave presents to friends, children, and the poor. They made bonfires in high places to strengthen the sun in its course.
WHO IS RESPONSIBLE FOR THIS?
Aurelian proclaimed Mithraism the official state religion of the Roman Empire, but under Constantine, and later the Roman Catholic Church, the state adopted those pagan practices and named it the state religion of Christianity. Since Constantine had outlawed the Sabbath and keeping the Biblical Feasts of YHVH, it made sense to co-opt the traditional festivals already in practice. This is exactly what happened, even though God had expressly and repeatedly forbidden His people from worshiping Him the way pagans worshiped their gods.
By the fourth century, Mother-worship fueled the emergence of the holiday that under Constantine melded into Christmas. It was Mithraism with a new name. And Mary became the newest version of the pagan deity known as the Queen of Heaven.
The Roman Catholic Church’s policy was to transform pagan festivals, not abolish them. The amalgamation of different religions, different cultures, different schools of thought into one, was a brilliant strategy for the power-hungry Roman Catholic Church. But to YHVH it was, and is, an abomination!
The Catholic Church sought to lure people away from the observance of the winter solstice to the adoration of the son of God, and didn’t think it mattered that they would continue to celebrate in the same old ways. So linking the rebirth of the sun to the birth of Mashiach as the light of the world, the Roman Church slapped on a new title to the old pagan festival, and it became the Feast of the Nativity.
WHAT ABOUT THE REFORMATION?
Although modern Christians are for the most part ignorant about the pagan roots of Christmas and Easter instituted during the 4th Century under Constantine and the Catholic Church, the reformers were not.
Here is a quote from History of the Reformation in Scotland, 1950, Vol. 1, page 91: “That God’s word damns your ceremonies, it is evident; for the plain and straight commandment of God is, ‘Not that thing which appears good in thy eyes, shalt thou do to the Lord thy God, but what the Lord thy God has commanded thee, that do thou: add nothing to it; diminish nothing from it.’ Now unless that ye are able to prove that God has commanded your ceremonies, this his former commandment will damn both you and them.”
John Calvin, in 1550, instigated a ban against observing pagan church festivals like Christmas. On one particular tract, Calvin wrote the following: “I know how difficult it is to persuade the world that God disapproves of all modes of worship not expressly sanctioned by His Word.” Christmas and Easter were banned by the Church of Scotland. David Calderwood, of the Scottish ministries said the following, ‘The Judaical days had the honor to be appointed by the LORD Himself; but the anniversary days appointed by men have not like honor. This opinion of Christ’s nativity on the 25th day of December was bred at Rome.’ He also said, ‘Nay, let us utter the truth, December-Christmas is a just imitation of the December-Saturnalia of the ethnic [heathen] Romans, and so used as if Bacchus, another name for the sun god, and not Messiah, were the God of Christians.”
The pilgrims that came to America in 1620 forbid the celebration of Christmas. And it was officially outlawed in Boston from 1659 to 1681.The renowned preacher Charles Spurgeon also railed against pagan Christmas:
Charles Spurgeon, Sermon on Dec. 24, 1871: “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 Savior; and, consequently, its observance is a superstition, because not of divine authority.” Charles Spurgeon’s Treasury of David on Psalm 81:4: “When it can be proved that the observance of Christmas, Whitsuntide, and other Popish festivals was ever instituted by a divine statute, we also will attend to them, but not till then. It is as much our duty to reject the traditions of men, as to observe the ordinances of the Lord. We ask concerning every rite and rubric, “Is this a law of the God of Jacob?” and if it be not clearly so, it is of no authority with us, who walk in Christian liberty.”
BUT, I HAVE CHRISTMAS IN MY HEART!
I can already hear some disgruntled reader exclaiming, “But that’s not what Christmas means to me!” To this I can only reply: “It doesn’t matter what Christmas means to you. It only matters what it means to YHVH.” And He’s made Himself abundantly clear in his Scriptures. God does not want his people eating fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. And that is what mixing worship of Messiah with the pagan rituals of sun-gods amounts to. YHVH cares very much how He is worshiped; we are to worship him in spirit and in truth.
Yeshua wasn’t born on December 25th; but a myriad of sun-gods were. Yeshua was born on the first day of the Feast of Tabernacles. And three wise men did not come bearing gifts the day of the Savior’s birth. Scripture never mentions how many wise men showed up, only that they gave three gifts, gold, frankincense and myrrh. And they arrived when Yeshua was already a young child and about to flee with his parents to Egypt. God hates the mixing of the scared with the profane. Truth with lies!
HOW DO YOU KNOW WHAT GOD THINKS?
Remember what happened to Belshazzar when he used the golden and silver vessels that came from the temple in Jerusalem for pagan worship? (Daniel 5:1-5) (Dan 5:23-25) … and they have brought the vessels of his house before thee, and thou, and thy lords, thy wives, and thy concubines, have drunk wine in them; and thou hast praised the gods of silver, and gold, of brass, iron, wood, and stone, which see not, nor hear, nor know: and the God in whose hand thy breath is, and whose are all thy ways, hast thou not glorified: Then was the part of the hand sent from him; and this writing was written. And this is the writing that was written, MENE, MENE, TEKEL, UPHARSIN.
And remember what happened to Arron’s sons, who decided to worship God their own way and offered up what Scripture calls “strange fire.” And Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, each took his censer and put fire in them; and they put incense on it and brought strange fire before Jehovah, which He had not commanded them. And fire went out from before Jehovah and consumed them; and they died before Jehovah. And Moses said to Aaron, It is that which Jehovah has spoken, saying, I will be sanctified by those drawing near to Me; and I will be honored before all the people. And Aaron was silent.
And what about when Uzzah reached out, with good intentions, to steady the ark and God struck him. (2Sa 6:5-7) And David and all the house of Israel were dancing before Jehovah with all instruments of fir wood, with lyres and with harps, and with tambourines, and with sistra, and with cymbals. And when they came to the threshing floor of Nachon, and Uzzah reached out to the ark of God, and took hold of it, for the oxen nearly upset it. Then the anger of Jehovah glowed against Uzzah. And God struck him there for the fault. And he died there by the ark of God.
Why did God strike him dead? Because they ignored God’s instructions!
(Exo 25:12-15) And you shall cast four rings of gold for it, and shall put it on its four feet; two rings on the one side, and two rings on the second side. And you shall make poles of acacia wood, and you shall overlay them with gold. And you shall put the poles into the rings on the sides of the ark, to carry the ark by them. The poles shall be in the rings of the ark; they shall not depart from it.
We can’t decide to worship God in a way that makes us feel all warm and fuzzy when God forbids it, and expect YHVH to be happy. Would you be if you told your children to behave in a certain way, and they did just the opposite, claiming it was to show you how much they loved you?
Remember that when Aaron made the molten calf, he was planning a feast to YHVH. And Aaron saw, and he built an altar before it. And Aaron called and said, A feast to Jehovah tomorrow. And they rose early on the morrow, and they offered burnt offerings and brought near peace offerings. And the people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play. And Jehovah spoke to Moses, Come, go down, for your people whom you caused to go up from Egypt are corrupted; (Exo 32:5-7)
Folks, God cares how we worship Him. It’s all about Him. It’s not about us! It’s time for the Christian church to cease behaving as if they have no King! Stop doing whatever is right in your own eyes. Judges 21:25 In those days there was no king in Israel. Each man did that which was right in his own eyes.
BUT, THAT’S ALL FROM THE OLD TESTAMENT!
We have a King, the King of Kings, Yeshua. And He said if we love him we were to keep his commandments. And He warned us about following the traditions of men.
Mat 15:3 But answering He said to them, Why do you also transgress the command of God on account of your tradition?
Mar 7:13 making the Word of God of no effect by your tradition which you delivered. And many such like things you do.
Paul also warned us. Col_2:8 Watch that there not be one robbing you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the elements of the world, and not according to Christ.
Even the prophet Jeremiah! ‘Thus said YHVH, Learn not the way of the heathen, and be not dismayed at them. For the customs of the people are vain? One cuts a tree out of the forest, the work of the hands of the workman, with the axe. They deck it with silver and with gold; they fasten it with nails and with hammers that it move not.’ (Jeremiah 10: 2-4)
Deu 12:30-31 Take heed to thyself that thou be not snared by following them, after that they be destroyed from before thee; and that thou not enquire after their gods, saying, How did these nations serve their gods? Even so will I do likewise. Thou shalt not do so unto the LORD thy God.
WHAT SHOULD WE DO?
No one ever loved Christmas better than I. But once I learned its history five years ago, and what’s even more important, once I learned what YHVH had to say about how He wants to be worshiped . . .well, folks, like Paul, I counted it all dung!