Sunday, December 19, 2004

Origins of Christmas

I noticed La Shawn Barber's Kwanzaa Is for Pagans post and she's absolutely right - and very well spoken. I read her blog often.

I noticed up front that she is working on a Christmas-is-not-pagan post. There are alot of good feelings associated with Christmas. Some of the most beautiful music is centered around Christmas. The lights, the decorated trees, the food, the family gatherings - what could possibly be wrong with all that? Well, the fact is, and just a little research on the web or in an encyclopedia will confirm this, all the trappings of Christmas ARE of pagan origin. The true origins of these customs are really not in question.

Christians celebrate the birth of Christ on December 25, but the fact is, Jesus was not born on Dec. 25. From Origin of Christmas:

The date of December 25th probably originated with the ancient "birthday" of the son-god, Mithra, a pagan deity whose religious influence became widespread in the Roman Empire during the first few centuries A.D. Mithra was related to the Semitic sun-god, Shamash, and his worship spread throughout Asia to Europe where he was called Deus Sol Invictus Mithras. Rome was well-known for absorbing the pagan religions and rituals of its widespread empire. As such, Rome converted this pagan legacy to a celebration of the god, Saturn, and the rebirth of the sun god during the winter solstice period. The winter holiday became known as Saturnalia and began the week prior to December 25th. The festival was characterized by gift-giving, feasting, singing and downright debauchery, as the priests of Saturn carried wreaths of evergreen boughs in procession throughout the Roman temples.

So, Christians are using the "birthday" of a pagan god to celebrate the birth of Christ. Is God OK with that? Because, really, that's all that counts. The only real question is whether Christians should use those customs to celebrate or worship God.

take heed to yourself that you do not become snared by following them, after they are destroyed from before you, and that you do not ask about their gods, saying, How did these nations serve their gods that I too may do likewise?

You shall not do so to the LORD your God. For every abomination to the LORD, which He hates, they have done to their gods; even their sons and their daughters they have burned in the fire to their gods.

All the things I command you, be careful to do it. You shall not add to it, nor take away from it. Deuteronomy 12:30-32

Jesus Christ the same yesterday and today and forever. Hebrews 13:8

For I am Jehovah, I change not. Because of this you sons of Jacob are not destroyed. Malachi 3:6

OK, but does the Bible have anything to say about Christmas? If you are truly seeking God and His will, not your own will, it would be of great benefit to read Jeremiah chapter 10.

So says Jehovah, Do not learn the way of the nations, and do not be terrified at the signs of the heavens; for the nations are terrified at them.

For the customs of the people are vain; for one cuts a tree out of the forest with the axe, the work of the hands of the workman.

They adorn it with silver and with gold; they fasten it with nails and hammers, so that it will not wobble.

They are like a rounded post, and they cannot speak. They must surely be lifted, because they cannot walk. Do not be afraid of them; for they cannot do evil nor good, for it is not in them.

There is none like You, O Jehovah; You are great, and Your name is great in might.

Who would not fear You, O King of nations? For fear belongs to You, because among all the wise men of the nations, and in all their kingdoms, there is none like You.

But they are all at once foolish and animal-like; the tree is an example of vanities.

Silver beaten into plates is brought from Tarshish, and gold from Uphaz, the work of the workman, and of the hands of the goldsmith. Violet and purple is their clothing; they are all the work of skillful ones.

But Jehovah is the true God, He is the living God, and the everlasting King. At His wrath the earth shall tremble, and the nations shall not be able to stand His fury.

So you shall say to them, The gods who have not made the heavens and the earth, they shall perish from the earth and from under these heavens.

He has made the earth by His power; He has established the world by His wisdom, and has stretched out the heavens by His judgment.

When He utters His voice, there is a noise of many waters in the heavens. He causes the vapors to ascend from the ends of the earth; He makes lightnings with rain, and brings forth the wind out of His treasures.

Every man is stupid for lack of knowledge; every refiner is put to shame by the graven image; for his molten image is a lie, and no breath is in them.

They are vanity, the work of delusion; in the time of their judgment they shall perish.

The Portion of Jacob is not like them; for He is the Maker of all things; and Israel is the rod of His inheritance. Jehovah of Hosts is His name.

Gather up your bundle from the ground, you who live under the siege.

For so says Jehovah, Behold, I will sling out the people of the land at this time, and will distress them, so that they may find Me.

Woe to me for my breaking! My wound is grievous; but I said, Truly this is a malady, and I must bear it.

My tabernacle is ravaged, and all my cords are broken; My sons went away from me, and they are not. There is none to stretch out My tabernacle any more, and to set up My curtains.

For the pastors have become stupid, and have not sought Jehovah, therefore they shall not be blessed, and all their flocks shall be scattered.

Behold, the noise of the rumor has come, and a great commotion out of the north country, to make the cities of Judah a desolation, a den of jackals.

O Jehovah, I know that the way of man does not belong to man; it is not in man who walks to direct his steps.

O Jehovah, correct me, but with judgment; not in Your anger, lest You bring me to nothing.

Pour out Your fury on the nations who do not know You, and on the families who do not call on Your name; for they have eaten up Jacob and have devoured him, and have destroyed him, and have made his dwelling desolate. Jeremiah 10:1-25

Don't believe me, believe your Bible. I can not change your mind about this, only God can do that.

Strive to enter in at the narrow gate. For I say to you, many will seek to enter in and shall not be able. Luke 13:24

Of those that SEEK to enter in - this is talking about Christians, those who look to Jesus Christ as their Savior - MANY will not be able. It says STRIVE (struggle, contend, fight) to enter the narrow gate. It is not talking about all those who do not call Jesus their Lord or who do not know Him. Continue reading verse 25 - 27:

And once the Master of the house has risen up and has shut the door, and you begin to stand outside and to knock at the door, saying, Lord, Lord, open to us, and He shall answer and say to you, I do not know you; from where are you;

then you shall begin to say, We ate and drank in Your presence, and You have taught in our streets.

But He shall say, I tell you, I do not know you; from where you are. Depart from Me, all workers of unrighteousness! Luke13:25-27

And why do you call Me Lord, Lord, and do not do what I say?

Whoever comes to Me and hears My Words, and does them, I will show you to whom he is like. Luke 6:46-47

Not everyone who says to Me, Lord, Lord, will enter into the kingdom of Heaven, but the ones who do the will of My Father in Heaven.

Many will say to Me in that day, Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name do many works of power?

And then I will declare to them, I never knew you; "depart from Me, those working lawlessness!" Matthew 7:21-23

This is not something to take lightly! It is not enough to "be saved" and go on about your life like nothing happened. Go and sin no more! Once saved is not always saved. Sorry. That's the way it is. That's what Jesus says. If you got a speeding ticket and you went before a judge and he pardoned you, does that mean you can go back out a speed again without consequence? I don't think so.

I think it is plain to anyone who really wants to obey God that Christmas is not only pagan in origin but an abomination to God. Don't lie to yourself, don't cheat yourself. There is alot at stake here, don't believe what men say. Don't take anyones word for it, STRIVE to enter the narrow gate.

Further reading can be found here:

Christmas, or Pagan-mass?

Christmas, What could possibly be wrong with it?

The Feast of Tabernacles, Christmas, and the Kingdom of God

Christmas - The Untold Story

A Legal Christmas An excellent program from Ron Dart at Christian Educational Ministries on MP3. Available for a limited time. Right click and save link as... to download.

Christmas - The Untold Story This program is by Garner Ted Armstrong - also MP3.

A sermon entitled "The Real Birthday of Christ" is available on this page. Scroll down.

I recommend all of them. Now, if you want to keep Christmas, go right ahead. Just don't think you are pleasing God in doing so. And as far as La Shawn's arguments against keeping Kwanza, the same arguments can be used against Christmas. They are both made up holidays - one recently, and one in the 3rd or 4th century AD.

O LORD, correct me, but with judgment; not in Your anger, lest You bring me to nothing.

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