DOES GOD OPPOSE THE CELEBRATION OF CHRISTMAS? This may sound like a strange question to ask, but especially over the last couple of years, it has become much more significant to my wife and I. For many people, Christmas represents family, love, a celebration with friends, partying, giving to others, and for Christians, the birth of Jesus Christ; after all, they say, He’s “The Reason for the Season.” So some may wonder, why would God be opposed to any of these things, especially the birth of His own Son? But the hard truth is that God is, in fact, opposed to people connecting Him to the celebration of Christmas because of the pagan idolatrous origins of Christmas, as well as the celebration of it as Christ’s [Messiah’s] birthday, which is a lie and a deception, it also violates His Word, and it profanes the holiness of God.
CHRISTMAS – A DECEPTION?
First of all, before getting into the heart of the Christmas deception, here are two clear errors that churches teach about the birth of Jesus [Heb. Yeshua] that are not biblically true: the arrival of the wise men and the time of His birth.
The Arrival of the Wise Men
For example, Christians often teach that the wise men came to the manger to view the baby Jesus. According to the Scriptures, the wise men did not even come to the manger, but to a house:
When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy. And when they were come into THE HOUSE, they saw THE YOUNG CHILD with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped Him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto Him gifts: gold, and frankincense, and myrrh. And being warned of God in a dream that they should not return to Herod, they departed into their own country another way. (Matthew 2:10-12)
Notice that it was not in “a manger” they saw Christ [Messiah], but in “the house,” and He was not “an infant” but “a young child.”
Herod’s Inquiry & Killing of the Infants
Another proof that Jesus [Heb. Yeshua] was not an infant, but probably a toddler by the time the wise men saw Him is the conversation that Herod has with the wise men. Once Herod had discovered where Messiah [Christ] was to be born [in Bethlehem], he privately called the wise men to speak with him:
Then Herod, when he had privately called the wise men, enquired of them diligently what time the star appeared. (Matthew 2:7)
Then once Herod discovered later that the wise men had not come back to report to him where they had found the Messiah, he then became extremely angry and sent his troops to kill all the children that were two years or younger:
Then Herod when he saw that he was mocked of the wise men, was exceedingly angry, and sent forth, and killed all the children that were in Bethlehem, and in all the coasts thereof, FROM TWO YEARS OLD AND UNDER, ACCORDING TO THE TIME WHICH HE HAD DILIGENTLY INQUIRED OF THE WISE MEN. (Matthew 2:16; Emphasis Mine)
If Jesus [Yeshua] had been an infant when the wise men came to see Him, Herod would have only had the soldiers kill all the newborn babies, but that is not what he did. He specifically told them to kill all those “TWO YEARS AND UNDER,” based on the time given to him by the wise men. This means that the wise men had told Herod that they had been traveling about 1 1/2 to 2 years, and therefore, the reasoning for Herod specifying the age of “two years and under.”
Mary’s Temple Sacrifices
Another proof that the wise men did not see Jesus at his birth is the animal sacrifice that Mary offered at the Temple. According to Luke 2,
And when the days of her purification according to the law of Moses were accomplished, they brought him to Jerusalem, to present him to the Lord. (As it is written in the law of the Lord, Every male that opens the womb shall be called holy to the Lord;) and to offer a sacrifice according to that which is said in the law of the Lord, A pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons. (Luke 2: 22-24)
How long, according to the Scriptures, was Mary to wait for her days of “purification” to be completed? According to Leviticus 12:4, Mary would have had to have waited for 33 days before she could enter the Temple and offer her animal sacrifice to the Lord. And a few verses later in the book of Leviticus, we read the following:
And when the days of her purification are completed, for a son or for a daughter, she shall bring to the priest at the doorway of the tent of meeting [Temple in Mary’s time], a one year old lamb for a burnt offering, and a young pigeon or a turtledove for a sin offering. Then he shall offer it before the LORD and make atonement for her; and she shall be cleansed from the flow of her blood. This is the law for her who bears a child, whether a male or a female. But if SHE CANNOT AFFORD A LAMB, then she shall take TWO TURTLEDOVES OR TWO YOUNG PIGEONS, the one for a burnt offering and the other for a sin offering; and the priest shall make atonement for her, and she shall be clean. (Leviticus 12:6-8)
The Gospel of Luke tells us that Mary brought “a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons,” which is the sacrifice a woman would bring who COULD NOT AFFORD a lamb. Now if the wise men had, in fact, arrived during the time of Christ’s [Messiah’s] birth and given Him the gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh, then she would have presented a lamb for her sacrifice, as opposed to the sacrifice of a poor woman who could not afford the lamb.
So Why Do People Teach that the Wise Men Did Come to His Birth?
During the Middle Ages when the population could not read or write, there needed to be a way to tell the story of Christ’s [Messiah’s] birth in a way that the people could see and understand. According to historians, the first nativity scene was created by St. Francis of Assisi in 1223 A.D. In Rachel Nuwer’s article “The First Nativity Scene was Created in 1223,” for the Smithsonian.com website, she writes,
The only historical account we have of Francis’ nativity scene comes from The Life of St. Francis of Assisi by St. Bonaventure, a Franciscan monk who was born five years before Francis’ death.
According to Bonaventure’s biography, St. Francis got permission from Pope Honorious III to set up a manger with hay and two live animals—an ox and an ass—in a cave in the Italian village of Grecio. He then invited the villagers to come gaze upon the scene while he preached about “the babe of Bethlehem.” (Francis was supposedly so overcome by emotion that he couldn’t say “Jesus.”) Bonaventure also claims that the hay used by Francis miraculously acquired the power to cure local cattle diseases and pestilences.
Within a couple of centuries, nativity scenes had spread throughout Europe. We don’t know if people actually played Mary and Joseph during Francis’ time, or whether they just imagined those figures’ presence. We do know that later scenes began incorporating dioramas and life actors, and the cast of characters gradually expanded beyond Mary, Joseph and sweet baby Jesus, to sometimes include an entire village. (December 14, 2012)
The Date of Christ’s [Messiah’s] Birth
Although many people argue that there is no way for certain to know the date of Christ’s [Messiah’s] birth, there are clues given in the Scriptures to figure it out. Although there are many articles out there that argue one method or another for calculating the time of His birth, I would like to offer a simplistic approach. According to researchers and traditional Christian teaching, based upon examining the Gospels and the feasts discussed in them, Christians state that Jesus [Yeshua] was 33 1/2 years old when He was crucified.
So let’s just take that information and use some logic here. If Jesus [Yeshua] died when He was 33 1/2 years old, or 33 years 6 months, then He would have had His 33rd birthday 6 months before His death. However, there’s no way you can get 6 months between December and March, the month of Passover that year. However, if you count back 6 months from the month of March, you will arrive at the month of September. This would mean that Jesus [Yeshua] was born in the Fall, not in the Winter. This also supports my own personal opinion, based on the clues in Scripture, that Jesus [Yeshua] was born during the feast of Tabernacles (5 days after Yom Kippur on our calendars].
Some people argue that it would’ve had to have been in the Spring because the shepherds were out with the sheep, which normally happens in the Spring. However, these were not regular shepherds. These were shepherds who worked for King Herod, and they were raising sheep owned by him for the purpose of them being offered up as a sacrifice. Since Herod was highly despised, it is not far-fetched to believe that some may try to kill his flocks, if left unattended, so that he would not be able to worship God in the Temple. Thereby, bringing God’s wrath down upon him. That being the case, I believe, particularly around the Fall feasts when sacrifices were expected to be given that Herod would have had shepherds out with the sheep every night during this time.
THE PAGAN ORIGINS OF CHRISTMAS
Now let’s get to the heart of the Christmas deception. Originally, what we call the “Christmas Season” was known as two Roman pagan idolatrous feasts: the “Roman Saturnalia” and “Sol Invictus.”
There are many credible sources that demonstrate that the origin and roots of Christmas are derived from the Roman Saturnalia, such as the decorating of the tree, the exchanging of gifts, singing songs from house to house, eating baked goods [such as cookies] shaped like people, feasting, merrymaking, partying, and getting drunk. In fact, the roots of the Christmas Tree go back even further than the Roman Saturnalia. For example, in Jeremiah 10, God states through the prophet Jeremiah:
Thus says the LORD, Learn not the way of the heathen, and be not dimayed at the signs of heaven; for the heathen are dismayed at them. For the customs of the people are vain [empty, worthless]: for 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. They are upright as the palm tree, but speak not: they must needs to be borne [or carried], because they cannot go. Be not afraid of them; for they cannot do evil, neither also is it in them to do good. (Jeremiah 10:2-5)
Although people may not view the “Christmas Tree” as an actual god anymore, that does not deny the fact that its roots go back into ancient pagan idol worship.
Examples of sources to consult about the pagan origins and connections of Christmas are many. For example, one could read the article “Saturnalia” at History.com, or the article “Is Christmas related to Saturnalia” at the Christian website, gotquestions.org, or even an older Christian source, Ralph Woodrow’s Babylon Mystery Religion: Ancient and Modern (1966) in his chapter on “The Winter Festival.” And these are just a few of the sources that are out there. In fact, according to the Christian source on gotquestions.com, during the time of the Roman empire, “the word Saturnalia became synonymous with immorality and carousing” (“Is Christmas related”).
The Christmas holiday also finds its roots in the Roman celebration of Sol Invictus (“Invincible Sun”) that celebrated the renewing of the Sun King [i.e., the sun god], Mithra, on December 25, and was linked to the winter solstice (“Is Christmas related”).
PAGAN FEASTS IN THE CHURCH?
During the time of the 4th century, A.D., there were large groups of people leaving the church to celebrate these pagan festivals to these other gods and goddesses. In response, the Roman Catholic Church decided the best way to keep these people in the church was to create a “Christian alternative,” a mass for Christ – “Christ-mass” or “Christmas” – to these pagan festivals, much like modern churches are doing with Halloween. In fact, the earliest mention of December 25 commemorating the birth of Christ is 354 A.D. Obviously, then, “Christmas” did not originate with Christ or with the writings of His early disciples, and in contrast to Christian belief, Jesus is NOT “The Reason for the Season.”
The leaders of the Roman Catholic Church did eliminate some of the practices of the Saturnalia before bringing it into the church, such as people getting drunk, chasing women, going around naked as they sung songs from house to house, etc. In addition, they changed December 25 from the renewing or birthday of the sun-god to the birthday of the Son of God, and then “Christianized” the reasoning for the other pagan-related activities, such as connecting the giving of gifts to the gifts given by the wise men. This is likewise confirmed by the Christian site, gotquestions.com:
The early motive for celebrating Jesus’ birth on December 25 was the same that inspires modern churches to hold “Fall Festivals” or “Bible Costume Pasties” on October 31. That is, to provide a spiritually positive alternative to what they perceive as a pagan celebration. (“Is Christmas Related”)
Although this conservative Christian website readily acknowledges the pagan roots and connections of Christmas, it goes on to say,
So, Christians readily and comfortably acknowledge that the date, traditions, and long-term history of Christmas are connected to the pagan holidays of Saturnalia and Sol Invictus. Yet, like a family celebrating a Bible Costume Party on October 31, it’s the people celebrating who decide what the celebration means. (“Is Christmas related”)
Every pastor that I have personally spoken with about the pagan roots and connections of Christmas (as well as Lent, Easter, and obviously Halloween), they have taken the same position: The origins of the holiday does not matter; all that matters is what is in the heart of the individual.
THE BIBLE IS NOT THE STANDARD OF WHAT WE DO?
Of course, this raises an important question: What is the basis and standard for what we do? Is it the Bible, or is the secular world right and Truth is only relative, so that there isn’t any absolute standard of right and wrong. It seems when it is convenient for Christians, they will say that the Bible is their only standard of faith and conduct, but when that same Bible contradicts and challenges what they are doing, then it’s up to the individual.
CHRISTMAS – A VIOLATION OF SCRIPTURE?
But I question their position for a number of reasons. First of all, I question it because the creation of “Christian alternatives” to pagan feasts is, in fact, a violation of Scripture. In Deuteronomy 12, God says,
When the LORD your God shall cut off the nations from before you, wherever you go to possess them, and you succeed them, and dwell in their land; take heed to yourself that you be not snared [trapped] by following them, after that they be destroyed from before you; and that you enquire not after their gods, saying, How did these nations serve their gods? even so will I do likewise. You shall not do so unto the LORD your God: for every abomination to the LORD, which He hates, have they done unto their gods; for even their sons and their daughters they have burnt in the fire to their gods. What thing so ever I command you, observe to do it: you shall not add thereto, nor diminish from it. (Deuteronomy 12: 29-32)
This is not merely a passage forbidding child sacrifice; instead, the sacrifice of children is one example of pagan practices that He is addressing. There are two basic principles here that are being taught within this passage:
- Do NOT use the customs, traditions, practices, forms of worship, etc., that other nations use with their pagan gods, and use them with the LORD; and
- Whatever God has commanded in His Word, that is what we are to do. We are not to add to it, nor are we to subtract from it.
However, most churches get around this prohibition by teaching that the Law of God ended at the cross; therefore, this prohibition, they say, is no longer valid or relevant to them. The other possible common response is that the Law of God is only for Israel, and it does not apply to the church, so again, this prohibition is seen as not valid or relevant to them.
“DOES THE END JUSTIFY THE MEANS?”
Another explanation offered for churches participating in these “Christian alternatives” is that by the church offering these alternatives, unsaved people come to church who normally would not and, therefore, have the opportunity to hear the gospel and get saved. This sounds feasible and good, until you realize that “in the name of salvation,” Christians are disobeying God and His Word.
But the sad truth is that beginning back in the 4th century, A.D., and even today, people have not stopped to even ask God what He thinks about these man-made “Christian alternatives” to these pagan feasts and the church connecting His name to them. The church has merely assumed that as long as people get saved, then God is okay with it and it is good to do. But is this the way that God thinks and feels?
CHRISTMAS – A PROFANING OF GOD’S HOLINESS?
Even after reading this, some may argue that this is all just my opinion on the matter since no one actually knows what God really feels about these “Christian alternatives” that Christianity has brought into the church. However, that is not so. God has spoken to my wife, Karen, and He has also spoken to me in different ways reconfirming the fact that God is not only deeply offended by these pagan celebrations being brought into the church, but He also says that they profane His holiness. The following is what God has spoken about this “holidays” by His Spirit:
I do not want My people dabbling in the things which I have said were unclean and unholy. How can I, a holy God, be among the things that are unholy? My people, you are profaning My name and causing Me to want to take you and remove you from My Holy Presence. I cannot, and will not, I say, keep dwelling among a people who do not covet the same holy things that I covet.
Yes, I have in My commandments which I gave to Moses on Mt. Sinai, which says to not covet what is not yours, says God Almighty. These wicked holidays that you are claiming to be yours are detestable in My eyes, says God Almighty. How can you not see this in the Word of God that I have given you as a manual to understand the very heart of Me, says God. I do not wish for any one of My children to have anything to do with the things of this world. I will go farther than this, I can’t continue in a relationship with you because you are grieving the Holy Spirit that has come to be your Helper and to be your Guide.
Don’t profane My name and say you are trying to take something bad and turn it into something good for the sake of the church. This is not true, says God. You are doing it because you don’t care about hurting Me, says God. If you cared about Me, you would see that I detest all the things you’re trying to push Me into. I do not accept what you have done, and I don’t want anything more to be involved or put My name to that which is unholy and unacceptable to what My Word teaches. (“God Says: ‘My People Are Profaning My Name'”)
It seems clear that God does NOT endorse these “Christian alternatives” of pagan feasts and practices. They offend Him to the point where He feels like spitting His people out in disgust. The church needs to repent and to stop celebrating these pagan feasts. I believe the question must be asked, “Why are we celebrating these ‘Christian alternatives’ to these pagan feasts and practices — Christmas, Lent, Easter, and more recently, Halloween – when God Himself has designed and given to us 7 feasts (and I personally would add Purim and Hanukkah)? Why do we insist on setting aside what God Himself has given to us to celebrate feasts and practices whose origins and roots are pagan? We need to repent, turn away from our sins, and begin walking in holiness and obedience to God and to His Word.
“Is Christmas related to Saturnalia?” gotquestions.org. Got Questions Ministries. 2017. Web. <http://www.gotquestions.org/Christmas-Saturnalia.html>
Nuwer, Rachel. “The First Nativity Scene Was Created in 1223.” Smithsonian.com. Dec. 14, 2012. Web. <http://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/the-first-nativity-scene-was-created-in-1223-161485505>
“Saturnalia.” History.com. n.d. Web. <http://www.history.com/topics/Saurnalia>
Verschage, Karen. “God Says: ‘My People Are Profaning My Name.” Karensshofar. wordpress.com. June 19, 2016. Web. <http://karensshofar.wordpress.com/2016/06/19/god-says-my-people-are-profaning-my-name>
Woodrow, Ralph. Babylon Mystery Religion: Ancient and Modern. Riverside, CA.: Ralph Woodrow Evangelistic Association, Inc., 1978. Print.
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