Tuesday, November 1, 2011

What if Christmas isn't what you think it is?

Have you ever questioned the origin of Christmas or do you just assume that since the birth of Jesus, everyone has celebrated Christmas on December 25th? Sometimes, it’s good to stop and ask a question…..”where did this come from?”

Jesus was born a Hebrew. And if you know anything about Judaism, you know that they do not celebrate Christmas. So of course, He did not celebrate it. And keep in mind that the “New Testament” had not yet been written. Jesus would have read from a Torah, from a hand-written “Old Testament” which at that time was known as “the law”.

The Romans ruled the Middle East at the time Jesus was here, and they celebrated the holiday of Saturnalia from December 17-25. It was a week long period of lawlessness. human sacrifice, widespread intoxication, going from house to house singing naked, rape, eating human-shaped biscuits, gift-giving and more. This festival, introduced over 200 years before the birth of Jesus, was held in honour of Saturn, the youngest of the Titans, father of the major gods of the Greeks and Romans and son of Uranus and Gaia. It was also a time to worship the sun god.

Obviously a pagan holiday.

It wasn’t until the year 440 AD that the December 25th became the official date of Christmas. The first recorded date of Christmas being celebrated on December 25th was in 336 AD when Constantine was the Roman Emperor. The first Council of Nicaea was held in AD 325 (Constantine was Emperor). This was the first effort to make a universal doctrine of Christian beliefs. Remember, this was a Roman Empire still at this time. This Council removed Easter from Passover and set it to a Sunday.

The History of Western Europe by James Harvey Robinson states:

The new religion, as it spread from Palestine among the Gentiles, was much modified by the religious ides of those who accepted it. A group of Christian philosophers, who are known as the early fathers, strove to show that the Gospel was in accord with the aspirations of the best of the pagans. In certain ceremonies the former modes of worship were accepted by the new religion. From simple beginnings the church developed a distinct priesthood and an elaborate service. In this way Christianity and the higher forms of paganism tended to come nearer and nearer to each other as time went on.

In other words, the early church merged pagan rituals and traditions into the Gospel – most likely in order to get more people to join the church. After all, if they didn’t have to change what they celebrated, the church could then (later) force them to join.

In AD 324, Constantine issued an edict exhorting all his subjects to follow his example by becoming Christians. But….the office of Pontifex Maximus which he held required him to offer sacrifices to the heathen gods of Rome. Can you see how he was instrumental in bringing pagan practices into the church?

So who celebrated Christmas from the time of Jesus until 440 AD? And when did they celebrate it if they did?

And what about all the “traditions” that go with Christmas. Where/when did they originate?

The Christmas Tree: Pagans had long worshipped trees in the forest, or brought them into their homes and decorated them. Putting evergreen boughs over doors and windows would keep out witches, ghosts, evil spirits and illness. Germany is credited with the Christmas tree as we know it – starting in the 16th century. They were not present in America until the 1830s. Until the late 1840s, they were seen as pagan symbols and not accepted by most Americans!

Amazing how far the tree has come in just 170 years!

Mistletoe: Kissing under the mistletoe was first found associated with the festival of Saturnalia. Another pagan tradition.

Christmas Presents: From Saturnalia (see above)

Santa Claus: A Roman Catholic Bishop named St Nicholas who attended the Council of Nicaea in 325 AD. Saint Nicholas was “revived by Washington Irving in 1809 in his book “Knickerbocker History of New York”. So no “Santa Claus” before the 1800s.

Or is he the god Odin, from pre Christian times in Germanic people?

Needless to say, Santa is a fairly “new” addition and has nothing to do with Jesus.

Did you ever notice how Santa has been given the attributes of Jehovah?

1. He is omnipresent – can visit millions of homes in a single night

2. He is all seeing, all knowing. He can deliver each present correctly to each child.

3. He is all-good, all-just. He judges behavior.

4. He is eternal

one god replacing Jehovah God? But I say simply add an “n” to the end of the word “Santa” and you are probably on the right track!

Gift Giving: was banned by the Catholic Church in the Middle Ages due to its suspected pagan origins. Its origins were in the Feast of Saturnalia (see above).

You can search every other Christmas tradition and quickly find that it’s origin was based in pagan practices. And we now can prove that Jesus was not born on or around December 25th.

The birth of the Messiah is not known for certain, but we can know the approximate time of year when he was born! In the book of Luke we read that the father of John the Baptist was Zacharias, and he was a priest who served at the temple in Jerusalem. He was "of the course of Abia" (Luke 1:5). While serving at the temple, he was informed by an angel that his wife was to have a son, who was to be named "John." After this, Zacharias finished "the days of his ministration," and "departed to his own house" (v.23). "And after those days, his wife Elizabeth conceived..." (v. 24).

The names of the different courses of priests that served at the Temple are given in I Chronicles 24:1-19. "Abia" or "Abijah" was the EIGHTH course. According to the Jewish historian Josephus, each one of these courses served at the Temple for one week, the first course serving the first week of Nisan, in the spring (compare I Chron. 27:1-2), and then each course in its own order. All the priests served during the annual festivals (Passover in spring, Pentecost, and then Tabernacles in the fall). After six months, the order would be repeated, thus each "course" would serve two weeks during a year.

The course of Abijah, then, would have served the eighth week in the rotation. The eighth week from Nisan 1, leaving out the week of Passover, when all the priests served, would have been Iyar 27 TO Sivan 5, the day just before Pentecost, which generally fell on Sivan 6. After serving a week in the Temple, Zacharias would have remained another week in Jerusalem, because of the Feast of Shavuot or Pentecost that week. Therefore, he returned home shortly after this, and his wife then conceived. This would have been about the middle of June. If we add nine months to this date, the normal time for the gestation of a human baby in the womb, John the Baptist would have been born about the middle of March, in the spring, shortly before the Passover.

Yeshua was conceived about six months after John (Luke 1:24-31, esp. verse 26). This would suggest that Yeshua the Messiah was conceived about the middle of December. This would place his birth nine months, or 270 days, later -- or the month of September!

This would mean that Jesus was conceived at Hanukkah, the Festival of Lights (He is the Light of the World”) and born at Sukkot, the Feast of Ingathering (He is the Bread of Life).

I contend that if we follow a Hebrew calendar backwards and put in the rotation of service, we can know the date of Jesus birth!

And I have shown that the magi were rabbis, not “kings” or “wise men”.

What if Christmas isn’t what you think it is? What if it is a pagan holiday, filled with pagan customs, giving worship to pagan gods and is not even remotely associated with the birth of Jesus?

I Cor 10:21 ASV “You cannot drink the cup of the Lord, and the cup of demons; ye cannot partake of the table of the Lord, and of the table of demons.”

In other words, IF you believe in Jesus, you cannot celebrate Christmas.

If you celebrate Christmas, then you worship pagan gods and do not follow Jesus.

You cannot take something that is pagan in origin and turn it into something that is worthy of God.

It’s about as simple as that!