Hebrew Roots of Christian Holidays – Christmas & Paganism?

Hebrew Roots of Christian Holidays

 

The origins of Christianity and the original customs thereof come not from pagans. They come from the Holy Bible and ancient Hebrew thought.

 

Did Christmas derive from paganism?

"Nativity tree2011" by Jeff Weese - Flickr: Nativity. Licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons

 

Christmas/Feast of Nativity is not derived from paganism.  The early church celebrated the birth of Christ and chose the date based upon their understanding of the Bible and Hebrew thought of the time.

“The Hebrew Roots Movement insists that Christians are committing an abomination by observing Jesus’ birth since they assert that it is pagan. However, where is their proof that it was a pagan date and we are committing a crime as required by the Bible?
Deuteronomy 19:15 One witness shall not stand to testify against a man for any iniquity, or for any fault, or for any sin which he may commit; by the mouth of two witnesses, or by the mouth of three witnesses, shall every word be established.

1 Timothy 5:19: Do not receive an accusation against an elder unless on [the basis of] two or three witnesses.

Going completely against the very Law they claim to follow, the Hebrew Roots Movement bases their claim that observing Jesus’ birth on December 25th originated in paganism on the testimony of only ONE semi-ancient witness in a vague mention to Sol in the Chronography of 354, which states that:

“…on December 25 “N·INVICTI·CM·XXX” = “Birthday of the unconquered, games ordered, thirty races” -Chronography of 345 Part 6 via Tertullian.org

This is the OLDEST reference to the birth of Sol on December 25th.  There is absolutely nothing else in history before 354 which links Sol or even Mithras to December 25th.

Aurelian in 274 is often pointed to however, those games where in August, October and on December 11th.

So going back to the sole source using the December 25th date, there are several problems with this citation as “proof” that the December 25th date is pagan. First, Scholars do not even know for a fact IF this was in reference to Sol or to Christ as Jesus was called the unconquered sun or Invicti by some Roman Christians:

“The latter celebration attributed to Sol in the calendar of 354 could well mean Jesus as His birth is listed and the Bible along with the early Church did in fact consider Christ to be the Sun:

By “the sun of righteousness” in Malachi 4:2 “the fathers, from Justin downward, and nearly all the earlier commentators understand Christ, who is supposed to be described as the rising sun”.[65] -Carl Friedrich Keil, Biblical Commentary on the Old Testament (Eerdmans 1969), vol. 25, p. 468;

The New Testament itself contains a hymn fragment: “Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.”[66] -Ephesians 5:14

Clement of Alexandria wrote of “the Sun of the Resurrection, he who was born before the dawn, whose beams give light”.  (Clement of Alexandria, Protreptius 9:84)”  {The Hebrew Roots Movement, the Law and Christmas}

“Bottom line, NOTHING in history predates the Christian application of the date to Christ, as the earliest witnesses to the December 25th date for Jesus’ birth come from the 2nd and early 3rd century A.D.  In all there are at least five witness, Clement of Alexandria (196 A.D), Hippolytus of Rome  (200 A.D. and 234 A.D),  Tertullian, Julianus Africanus (221 A.D) and The Constitutions of the Holy Apostles (unknown to 250 A.D).

But this is not the only that December 25th was not observed by pagans before the early Church. There are multiple Modern Scholars who have debunked the myth of pagan origins as well:

In point of fact, the evidence for a religious festival of any kind for the sun god on December 25 is not only meager but also exceptionally late, as it dates to the second half of the fourth century AD. In fact, it postdates our earliest evidence for the celebration of Christmas.- Prof. Steven Hijmans,

‘There is quite simply not one iota of explicit evidence for a major festival of Sol on December 25th prior to the establishment of Christmas, nor is there any circumstantial evidence that there was likely to have been one.’,- Prof Steven Hijmans,

It should be noted that Professor Hijmans is a notable Scholar and Professor of Roman History, Art and Archaeology.

There is no evidence of any kind, not even a hint,from within the cult that this, or any other winter day, was important in the Mithraic calendar. Although three seasonal zodiacal signs are singled out in the iconography (Taurus, Leo and Scorpius), Aquarius, the sign that would correspond to notional mid-winter, being diametrically opposite to Leo, is never paid special attention. No Mithraic votive is dated 25th December (VIII A.D. KAL. IAN.). -Jaime Alvar Ezquerra {2}, ‘Romanising oriental Gods: myth, salvation, and ethics in the cults of Cybele, Isis and Mithras’, in Gordon (ed. trans.), Religions in the Graeco-Roman World, p. 410 (2008).
Jaime Alvar Ezquerra is a Spanish historian, author and professor at the Charles III University of Madrid, specializing in ancient history.

There is no evidence of any kind, not even a hint, from within the cult that this, or any other winter day, was important in the Mithraic calendar. – Dr. Alvar, 410

‘Of the mystery cult of Sol Invictus Mithras we know little with certainty, and even if we leave aside the problem of the relationship between the Mithraic mysteries and the public cult of Sol, the notion that Mithraists celebrated December 25th in some fashion is a modern invention for which there is simply no evidence.‘, – Prof, Steven Hijmans

Polemicists (and The Da Vinci Code) frequently state that 25 December was Mithras’ birthday, yet the renowned Mithraic scholar, Dr Richard Gordon has corresponded to me that he is unaware of ‘a single date on a Mithraic inscription that falls in the winter, let alone late in December… We know NOTHING about the cycle of rituals in the cult…’ So, Christmas owes nothing to Mithraism. – Quote from Dr. Richard Gordon from answering-islam. org

Dr. Richard L. Gordon was honorary professor of Religionsgeschichte der Antike at the University of Erfurt, Thuringen.

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 Son” 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. -Dr. William Tighe, Touchstone Magazine, Professor of History at Muhlenburg College

Add to this list, Anglican Scholar Andrew McGowan, French scholar Louis Duchesne and Thomas Talley among many others and that is well beyond the two or three witnesses prescribed by the Bible to establish a matter versus ONE witness from 354 A.D that could have been a reference to Christ anyway.

Plus there is not even one witness that pre-dates Christians in the establishment of the December 25th date for Jesus’ birth date. You see the problem is that Authors and Scholars from the 18th and 19th century made a crass presumption. The presumed that December 25th was kept for Mithras, Tammuz and so on dating back to Ancient Babylon based solely on the Chronography of 354. It was presumed that Sol was Mithras therefore this link was made backwards through history without any proof text aside from the Chronography. Scholars have never found ANY ancient references to December 25th to prove this presumption.

Many modern encyclopedias, including the Encyclopedia Britannica, reflect this fact in their updated works:

This view presumes—as does the view associating the origin of Christmas on December 25 with pagan celebrations of the winter equinox—that Christians appropriated pagan names and holidays for their highest festivals. Given the determination with which Christians combated all forms of paganism, this appears a rather dubious presumption. -Encyclopedia Britannica Online, Easter

Conclusion

Based on the abundance of actual evidence and not presumption and the complete lack of evidence from any ancient source to prove the December 25th was ever kept as anything but Jesus’ birth date before the 2nd century, the Hebrew Roots Movement sadly appears to be breaking God’s Law, even though they claim to follow it, and as usual have very little shame in doing so.”  {Timeline Summary of the Historical Evidence for Christmas}
God’s Law, the Hebrew Roots Movement and December 25th

“All the available information supports a birth date for Jesus of Nazareth on about December 25/January 6th, 3/2BC, with the beginning of His ministry when He was thirty years old in 28AD and His death during the Passover of 30AD.”  {DATING THE BIRTH OF JESUS OF NAZARETH}

“For Clement, a glorious Martyr of Christ Jesus, (whom S. Paul reckons amongst his fellow laborers in the Gospel, whose names are in the book of life Phillipians 4:3) writes thus unto the Christian Church; Brethren, keep diligently Feast days, and truly in the FIRST place the day of Christ’s birth.  Clement Constitutions Apostolic lib. 5 ch. 10.12  {Feasts of Feasts pg 11-12  Edward Fisher A.D. 1644}

“Brethren, observe the festival days; and first of all the birthday which you are to celebrate on the twenty-fifth of the ninth month.” {Apostolic Constitutions}

The ninth month counting from Nisan (April) is Casleu in the Jewish calendar. Transferred to our Roman calendar, the ninth month answers to December.

Attack on Christmas

“Theophilus, Bishop of Caesarea (A.D. 115-181) – Theophilus lived in the time of Emperor Commodus; he lived within 100 years of the apostles, and was bishop of Caesarea in Palestine, the very fount whence sprang our faith.

We ought to celebrate the birth-day of our Lord on what day soever the 25th of December shall happen.”  (Magdeburgenses, Cent. 2. c. 6. Hospinian, de orign Festorum Chirstianorum)

St. Augustine – A.D. 354-430

Augustine was bishop of Hippo and one of the most influential writers of the early church; his imprint remains even to this day. Augustine is not the earliest source for the Dec. 25th birth of Christ, but he announces a principle regarding the universal practice of the church that is important at the outset, so we will take his evidence first. In his 118 Epistle to Jannuarius, speaking of the yearly feasts then observed, Augustine states:

“Those feasts concerning which we have no express scripture, but only traditions, which are now observed all the world over; we ought to know that the keeping of them was commended unto us, and instituted (or commanded) either by the apostles themselves, or general councils, of which there is a most wholesome use in the church of God; such are the feast of our Lord’s Passion, Resurrection and Ascension into heaven, and the coming down of the Holy Ghost, which are now kept holy with a yearly solemnity.”

In the following epistle (119), Augustine then says:

“It chiefly behooves us that upon the day of our Lord’s nativity, we should receive the sacrament in remembrance of him that was born upon it, and upon the return of the year to celebrate the very day with a feasting devotion.”

“The return of the year” appears to signify the winter solstice, when the days begin to grow longer. However, the point we should consider here is Augustine’s statement that whatever was practiced universally throughout the church in the whole world was presumably set in place by the apostles or by a general church council.  But as no council established the Feast of the Nativity, it exists by tradition, and this presumably from either “word or epistle” (II Thess. 2:15; 3:6; I Cor. 11:2, 23) handed down from the time of the apostles. Although ordaining no set form of commemoration for the Nativity, yet certainly the apostles would have known the date of Christ’s birth, as would his mother and brethren, all of whom were active in the primitive church. Therefore it should not stretch our credulity to believe that the Dec.25th birth of our Lord was set in the church by those early sources and has been handed down without interruption ever since. Concerning the date of Christ’s birth, Augustine states:

“He was born, according to tradition, upon December the twenty-fifth.” (On the Trinity, 4.5, Post Nicene Fathers 3.74)

Regarding the Baptist’s June birth, Augustine said:

“John came into this world at the season of the year when the length of the day decreases; Jesus was born in the season when the length of the day increases.” (Sermon In Natali Domini xi).

Thus, Augustine places John’s birth at the summer solstice and Jesus’ birth upon Dec. 25th, at the season of the winter solstice.

Hippolytus of Rome – A.D. 170-240

Hippolytus of Rome provides one of the earliest known references to the December 25 birth of Christ in his commentary on Daniel.  Chrysostom says that the Feast of the Nativity was kept “from the beginning” by those in the west, and we find corroboration of this in Hippolytus:

“The first coming of our Lord, that in the flesh, in which he was born at Bethlehem, took place eight days before the calends of January, a Wednesday, in the forty-second year of the reign of Augustus, 5500 years from Adam.”  (Commentary on Daniel 4:23)

The eighth before the calends of January is the twenty-fifth day of December, and the forty-second year of Augustus was 3/2 BC.

Apostolic Constitutions – Circa A.D. 70-250

The Apostolic Constitutions are a compilation, whose material is derived from sources differing in age.  Early writers were inclined to assign them to the apostolic age, and to Clement Romanus (A.D. 70), but they are now generally assigned to the second or third century.  In the Fifth book, Sec. III, we find:

“Brethren, observe the festival days; and first of all the birthday which you are to celebrate on the twenty-fifth of the ninth month.

The ninth month counting from Nisan (April) is Casleu in the Jewish calendar, which answers to December in our own.

 

Diocletian A.D. 244-311

Nicephorus wrote an ecclesiastical history in which he reports Diocletian’s destruction of a church on Dec. 25th, filled with worshippers celebrating the Lord’s Nativity:

“At Nicomedia (a city of Bethenia) when the festival of Christ’s birth-day came, and a multitude of Christians in all ages had assembled together in the temple to celebrate that birth-day. Diocletian the tyrant, having gotten an advantageous occasion whereby he might accomplish his madness and fury, sent men thither to enclose the temple, and to set it on fire round about, and so consumed them all to ashes, even twenty thousand persons.”

This event is usually dated to A.D. 302. Selden (Theanthropos, pp. 33, 34) confirms Nicephorus’ report, saying that in ancient Greek and Roman martyrologies this event is dated to Dec. 25th.”

Objections to Christmas and the Dec. 25th Birth of Christ Answered}

In this article, we answer common objections to the celebration of Christmas and the Dec. 25th birth of Christ, including allegations it was

Invented by the Catholic Church,
Is of pagan origin,
Takes its date from the Saturnalia, Sol Invictus, and solstice,
The shepherds would not have been in the field in December, and that
Jesus was probably born in September.

Objection: The Dec. 25th birth of Christ invented by the Catholic Church in the 4th century.

Answer: There is no evidence supporting any part of this allegation.  The Nativity has been celebrated from at least as early as the second century, hundreds of years before the Catholic Church even existed.

The Catholic Church and Papacy as we know them today did not grow up until the 6th and 7th centuries. Boniface III, in 607, was the first Bishop to actually use the term Pope.  Prior to this, there was no centralized authority in the church to institute observance of the Nativity.  Not even the emperor Constantine (AD 242-337), who is sometimes associated with the beginnings of Catholicism and a centralized power in the church, ever addressed the issue of the Nativity.

Objection: If there was no Catholic Church or Papacy prior to the 6th or 7th centuries responsible for instituting celebration of Christ’s birth Dec. 25th, what about an ecumenical council?

Answer: Here again there is no evidence supporting this supposition.

The first ecumenical council was the Council of Nicea in AD 325, long after the Nativity was already being celebrated.  This council took up the question of the uniform celebration of the Pasche (Easter), but history is silent about it or any other council instituting the Feast of the Nativity.  So far as may be authoritatively shown, if not set in the church by the apostles, celebration of the Nativity grew up spontaneously as a way of commemorating important events in sacred history, like the miracle at Cana, the Passion, Resurrection, and Ascension.  In the East, January 6th (Epiphany) was kept as the date of Christ’s birth until late in the fourth century, (though the same date was supposed by others to commemorate Jesus’ baptism, the arrival of the Magi, or the miracle at Cana).  In the West, the Nativity was celebrated Dec. 25th for as long as history remembers.  The fact that the Nativity was celebrated differently in differnt places proves that no pope or council established the Feast of the Nativity, for if that were the case there would be no place for this difference to have grown up. Among the earliest testimonies to celebration the Nativity include the following:

Theophilus, Bishop of Caesarea (A.D. 115-181) – Theophilus lived in the time of Emperor Commodus; he lived within 100 years of the apostles, and was bishop of Caesarea in Palestine, the very fount whence sprang our faith.

We ought to celebrate the birth-day of our Lord on what day soever the 25th of December shall happen.”  (Magdeburgenses, Cent. 2. c. 6. Hospinian, de orign Festorum Chirstianorum)

Clement of Alexandria (AD 153-217) – In the second century, Alexandria became the intellectual center of Christianity, beginning with Clement, followed by his student, Origen.

“And there are those who have determined not only the year of our Lord’s birth, but also the day; and they say that it took place in the twenty-eighth year of Augustus, and in the twenty-fifth day of Pachon.” (Stromata, I, xxi)

Counting from the death of Antony in 30 B.C., the 28th year of Augustus would have been 2 B.C. The first month of the Egyptian calendar was Thoth, answering to late August (Thoth 1 = August 29). The ninth month was Pachon. The 25th of Pachon answers to the 20th of May. However, this is usually explained by the fact that the months originally took their names from where they occurred in the year. Hence, October, November and December were the eighth, ninth, and tenth months counting from March in the original Roman calendar, which had only ten months. But the Greek Fathers frequently took April, instead of March, for the first month of the year, as we see expressly in St. Chrysostom, in Anastasius Patriarch of Antioch, the Apostolic Constitutions, in Macarius, Stephanus, Gobarus, and other of the ancients. This would make December the ninth counting from April. Supposing therefore that some were informed Christ was born the 25th day of ninth month, who then transferred it to the Egyptian calendar, the 25th of Pachon would be the result. This is the belief of John Selden and Johannes Keppler.

Hippolytus of Rome (A.D. 170-240) – Hippolytus of Rome provides one of the earliest known references to the December 25 birth of Christ in his commentary on Daniel.  Chrysostom says that the Feast of the Nativity was kept “from the beginning” by those in the west, and we find corroboration of this in Hippolytus:

“The first coming of our Lord, that in the flesh, in which he was born at Bethlehem, took place eight days before the calends of January, a Wednesday, in the forty-second year of the reign of Augustus, 5500 years from Adam.”  (Commentary on Daniel 4:23)

The eighth before the calends of January is the twenty-fifth day of December, and the forty-second year of Augustus counting from the death of Julius Caesar was 2 BC.

Apostolic Constitutions (circa A.D. 70-250) – The Apostolic Constitutions are a compilation, whose material is derived from sources differing in age.  Early writers were inclined to assign them to the apostolic age and to Clement Romanus (A.D. 70), but they are now generally assigned to the second or third century.  In the Fifth book, Sec. III, we find:

“Brethren, observe the festival days; and first of all the birthday which you are to celebrate on the twenty-fifth of the ninth month.

The ninth month counting from Nisan (April) is Casleu in the Jewish calendar. Transferred to our Roman calendar, the ninth month answers to December.

Diocletian (A.D. 303-304) – Nicephorus wrote an ecclesiastical history in which he reports Diocletian’s destruction of a church on Dec. 25th, filled with worshippers celebrating the Lord’s Nativity:

“At Nicomedia (a city of Bithynia) when the festival of Christ’s birth-day came, and a multitude of Christians in all ages had assembled together in the temple to celebrate that birth-day. Diocletian the tyrant, having gotten an advantageous occasion whereby he might accomplish his madness and fury, sent men thither to enclose the temple, and to set it on fire round about, and so consumed them all to ashes, even twenty thousand persons.”

John Selden in his monumental work, Theanthropos (1661, pp. 33, 34), confirms Nicephorus’ report, saying that ancient Greek and Roman martyrologies date this event to Dec. 25th. It is probable that this occurred in A.D. 303-304.

Objection: Dec. 25th was assigned for celebration of Christ’s birth to Christianize the pagan solstice, Saturnalia, Feast of the Unconquered Sun, and other pagan festivals.

Answer: Not one word from antiquity has ever been produced supporting this assertion. The whole notion is supposition at best, or deliberate slander at worst. The church fathers never spoke of Dec. 25th in connection with Christ’s birth except as the traditional, received date of the Nativity.

Saturnalia – The Saturnalia was originally celebrated on only one day, the fourteenth Kalends of January (Dec. 17). With the Julian reform of the calendar, two days were added to December, causing the festival to fall on the sixteenth Kalends of January. Macrobius reports that the addition of two days to December caused the festival to be celebrated more days than one, which, coupled with the Sigarillaria, came to be celebrated a full week, or Dec. 17-23.

“I judge that I’ve now abundantly demonstrated that the Saturnalia used to be celebrated on one day only, the fourteenth before the Kalends, but that it was later extended to three, first as a result of the days that Caesar added to the month, and then by the edict of Augustus in which he assigned to the Saturnialia a three day holiday. As a result, they begin on the sixteenth day before the Kalends and end on the fourteenth, when the one day observance was formerly held. But the addition of the Sigillaria extends the public bustle and religious celebration to seven days.” Saturnalia I.10.23, 24

Thus, the Saturnalia reached only as far as Dec. 23rd and therefore cannot account for Christmas occurring Dec. 25th.

 

Solstice – It is true that pagan peoples throughout the ancient world had various celebrations at the major turning points of the calendar, including the winter solstice, and that this anciently fell upon Dec. 25th. However, due to defects in the Roman calendar, by the time of Jesus’ birth the winter solstice anticipated Dec. 25th by about two days. By the Council of Nicea in A.D. 325, the astronomical event anticipated the calendar by four days.

Therefore, to correct this deficiency and provide for the uniform observance of the Pasche (Easter), the council set the vernal equinox, which anciently fell on March 25th, to March 21st, moving it four days. But in correcting the civil date of the vernal equinox to correspond with the astronomical event, the winter solstice was also necessarily corrected, for the two stand in fixed relation one to another.  Hence, the solstice now falls on Dec. 21st. However, the coincidence that the Nativity is celebrated on the day the solstice anciently occurred in the civil calendar is no more evidence that the date is contrived than the coincidence that Christ’s passion and resurrection occurred near the vernal equinox. Indeed, might not God have chosen man’s salvation to come about precisely this way because of its poetic symbolism and value? Malachi associated Christ with the sun over 400 years before his birth, saying, “the Sun of Righteousness shall arise with healing in his wings” (Mal. 4:2). New Testament writers make similar use of the metaphor (Lk. 1:78; Jn. 1:4, 9; 2 Pet. 1:19). Thus, it is altogether fitting that Christ should come into the world in the dark of winter, bringing spiritual light and salvation, and be raised from the dead in the spring when the earth is reborn after the pall of sin and winter death.

Sol Invictus – This is a facet of the winter solstice, but we treat it here separately. In A.D. 274 following his victories in the east, the emperor Aurelius built a temple and instituted quadrennial games in behalf of Sol Invictus, a pagan sun god to whom he attributed his victories.  An illuminated codex manuscript produced for a wealthy Christian named Valentinus contains, in part six, a calendar for the year 354 (the Chronography of 354).  (The Codex is available on-line here) This calendar bears the following inscription for Dec. 25th: “N INVICTI CM XXX”.  N = Natalis (“birthday/nativity”). INVICTI = “Of the Unconquered one”. CM = Circenses missus (“games ordered”). XXX = 30. Thus, for birthday of the “unconquered one” that year, thirty games were ordered.  Many believe this refers to Sol Invictus and the “birthday” of the sun god worshipped by the Roman Emperor Aurelius. Although this has been questioned and others believe the games instituted by Aurelius were kept in October, we may accept as true for present purposes that Sol Invictus was honored Dec. 25th.

The same codex, in part 12, contains reference to the birth of Christ in the first entry under a section devoted to annual commemoration of the martyrs:

ITEM DEPOSITIO MARTIRVM

VIII kal. Ian. natus Christus in Betleem Iudeae

Eight days before the Kalends of January is Dec. 25th. It is generally agreed that the Item Depositio Martirum originally dates to A.D. 336, but was updated to A.D. 354 for inclusion in the codex. (The Codex is available on-line here) Based upon the codex of Valentinus, the following observations are in order:

1) By A.D. 336, the Nativity was already so well established as to obtain a permanent place at the head of the ecclesiastical year. Since this was true at a time when there was neither papacy nor Catholic Church, and no ecumenical council had addressed the issue, we may conclude that it attained its place at the head of the ecclesiastical year by popular assent to received tradition, presumably from the apostles and first disciples.

2) Hippolytus’ commentary on Daniel (A.D. 170-240) and numerous other early witnesses give Dec. 25th as the birth of Christ considerably earlier than Aurelius instituted his games, giving lie to the argument that Sol Invictus was the source of this date.

3) The fact that reference to Sol Invictus and the Nativity occur in the same codex argues against the latter being derived from the former.  If the intention was to Christianize the festival Sol Invictus by replacing it with the Nativity, we would not expect both to occur in the same codex; we would expect reference to Sol Invictus to be suppressed. However, that both in fact appear shows that the owner who commissioned the codex felt there was nothing to hide by the coincidence of these occurring on the same day, thus arguing for a separate providence of the Nativity.

4) The erection of a temple and celebration of quadrennial games at Rome cannot account for annual celebration of Christ’s nativity in such diverse and remote places as Egypt, Syria, Bithynia, Cadiz and Thrace.

Other than the mere coincidence that the civil date of the solstice occurred on Dec. 25th, there is no evidence Christians elected to celebrate of the birth of Christ on this date owing to pagan custom.”

 

“Unto You Is Born This Day”

The Biblical Case for the December 25th Birth of Christ

“We often hear it said that Jesus was not “really” born December 25th; that this date is a mere fiction, surreptitiously appropriated by church authorities in an attempt to off-set and Christianize the pagan solstice; that, in fact, Jesus was probably born in September, 6 or 7 B.C.  However, such charges are relatively recent.  For most of church history, December 25th was received as the actual date of Christ’s birth, handed down from earliest times.  Questions regarding Christmas were first raised during the Reformation by Puritans and Scottish Presbyterians, who attempted to outlaw its celebration in England, Scotland the Colonies, and other places where they came into political power.  The objections we hear today to Christmas are echoes of these ghosts from the past.

However, the evidence from scripture and sacred history supporting the December 25th, 2 B.C., birth of Christ is actually very substantial. In fact, as we shall see, not just the season but the very month, week, and day of Dec. 25th all freely emerge from the record, by straightforward chronological reconstruction from the gospels and other available sources.  The evidence from scripture and sacred history may be summarized as follows:

1)     The Presentment f the Christ-child and Chronology of Herod’s Final Illness

2) The Baptism, Wilderness Temptation, and First Disciples of Christ

3)      The Priestly Courses and Nativity of John the Baptist

For more on this see: “Unto You Is Born This Day”

 Is Christmas Pagan?

I submit to you that everything you’ve heard about the supposed “Pagan origin” of Christmas is false.  It is much hyperventilation over nothing really. Not only is it false, but it is based on such poor scholarship that it ought to be embarrassing to anyone who embraces it.  Sadly, it would seem the whole modern world has embraced this error, a serious error, which ought to give us some pause.

It’s time to learn some real history….

The idea that the celebration of Christmas originated from Pagan origin comes from two 18th century scholars. The first was a German Protestant named Paul Ernst Jablonski. He was the one who first put forward the notion that the celebration of December 25th was one of the many Pagan influences of the Church of Rome (Catholicism) on Christianity. The second was a Catholic Benedictine monk named Dom Jean Hardouin who, in response to Jablonski, tried to show that while the Church may have adopted a pagan celebration of December 25th, it did so without compromising the integrity of the gospel. Both men were wrong. Jablonski erred in his theory that the Pagan December 25 pre-dated Christian celebrations, and Hardouin erred in assuming Jablonski’s date assumption was correct in the first place. From these two catastrophic errors, the whole modern world has come to believe that Christmas was originally a Pagan celebration co-opted by the medieval Church.

The controversy surrounds an event that happened in the late 3rd century (AD 274) when the Pagan Roman Caesar Aurelian decreed that December 25th would mark the celebration of the ‘Feast of the Unconquered Sun’ god (or ‘Sol Invictus’), noting the rise of the sun’s ecliptic after the winter solstice (December 21 – 23).  Now, the sun worshiping cult can be traced in Rome back to about AD 158.  However, the marking of the summer and winter solstices had no significant relevance to this Roman cult at that time. Instead, the dates of August 9th and August 28th held more relevance, depending on what clan of the cult one followed. The marking of equinoxes and solstices had little relevance to early Roman sun worship. That was a job for astrologers who operated from a completely different religious perspective that had nothing to do with sun worship. So according to the ancient records anyway, Roman sun worshipers had no particular interest in December 25th, or the winter solstice for that matter, before AD 274.

In contrast however, the date of December 25th did hold some religious significance to Jewish converts to Christianity during antiquity. While it is true that we are currently unable to find evidence of Roman Christians celebrating December 25th as the date of the Lord’s nativity until AD 336, there is some evidence that Jewish Christians in Rome held that date in high significance as far back as the early 2nd century (AD 100’s), and there were some minor celebrations going on for a different reason.

Let’s begin with the ancient Christian community in Rome, which had a fairly sizable Jewish convert population for some time. These Jewish converts to the Christian faith were accustomed to celebrating the Jewish Feast of Dedication (or Hanukkah), which early Gentile Christians certainly would not have had any problem celebrating with them, since the Scriptures record that Jesus himself kept this feast (John 10:22-23). However, in the years following the forced separation of Christianity from Judaism and the fall of the Second Temple (AD 70), Jewish Christians would have found themselves increasingly isolated and alienated from the larger Jewish community, and many of these Jewish Christians were “put out of the synagogues” anyway. Jews used a complicated lunar calendar in which the months never coincided with the civil calendar commonly used in the Roman Empire during that time. So Jewish Christians living outside of the Holy Land, would have found themselves alienated from all Jewish times and seasons once they were “put out of the synagogues” (Jewish excommunication). Thus early Jewish Christians found themselves completely immersed in a civil culture that had no connection to the Jewish calendar whatsoever, and any attempt to calculate the times and seasons among themselves would have resulted in endless debates and disputes between them. So they did what any Jew would do in a similar situation. They assimilated into the prevailing culture, but kept their distinctively Jewish identity and customs. Because they were believers in Jesus Christ however, they did so in a Christian context.

Jews always marked the 25th day of the winter month of Kislev as the start of the eight-day Feast of Hanukkah. Because they no longer had access to the Jewish lunar calendar, having been “put out of the synagogue,” they simply observed the 25th day of the month that most closely aligned with the winter month of Kislev. That month on the Roman (Julian) calendar is December.  So for Christians of Jewish ancestry in ancient Rome, December 25th became of significant importance as the beginning of the Festival of Dedication, in which Jews remember the light that came into the Second Temple after the Maccabean Revolution in BC 167 – 160.  From a Jewish Christian perspective, this would have taken on even more significance, marking the coming of The Light of God (Jesus Christ) into the Temple as well (John 10:22-23).  However, the Jewish Christians were about to get a surprise from the Gentile Christians that would make their celebration even more significant.

The early Church was preoccupied with debates and disputes over the proper time to celebrate not the birth, but the death and resurrection, of Jesus Christ.  Again, the problem goes back to the Jewish calendar.  Christianity had been forcibly ejected from Judaism.  This is not because Christians rejected Jews.  Quite the opposite really.  It was the Jewish leaders who rejected Christians, telling them that by following Jesus of Nazareth they had apostatized themselves from Judaism.  The acceptance of uncircumcised Gentiles into the Christian communities just exacerbated the situation. 

 

Essentially, the early Christians were rejected by the larger Jewish population and told they no longer had any connection to the Jewish faith and religion whatsoever.  They were all “put out of the synagogue” so to speak, many of which having never been granted admission in the first place, in what amounted to a full scale mass excommunication from Judaism and all things Jewish.  It was this ejection from Judaism that led to the Roman persecution of Christians in the first place.  So long as Christianity was considered a Jewish sect, Christians were under an accommodation made between the Jewish leaders and the Roman Empire, that exempted them from having to participate in emperor worship.  (Jewish leaders had for centuries agreed to make sacrifices to the Jewish God Yahweh on behalf of Caesar, and pray for Yahweh to bless his rule, rather than actually worship Caesar as everyone else was required to.  Because such action guaranteed Jewish allegiance to Rome, there was no need to force the emperor worship cult on the Jews.) 

 

However, as Christians were ejected from all things Jewish, the Pharisees made arguments before Roman authorities that Christians could no longer enjoy the exemptions afforded to Jews.  Thus, when Rome finally agreed that Christians were no longer Jewish (AD 67), the Christians were then required to worship Caesar.   When they refused, they were tortured and put to death in the circuses of Rome.  This Roman persecution of Christians continued from the late 1st century, until the Edict of Milan in AD 312.

In addition to this ongoing Roman persecution, ancient Christians were confronted with a problem created by no longer having access to the Jewish calendar.  The date of the Passover could no longer be accurately projected, thus the dates marking the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ could not longer be accurately projected either.   No longer having reliable access to the Jewish calendar, ancient Christians set out to create their own method of calculating the time of the Passover, and thus projecting the dates of Good Friday and Easter (Pasch) Sunday.  Naturally there was a significant amount of dispute over this, especially between the Eastern and Western Christians, but in the 2nd to 3rd centuries (AD 100 through 300), there was a consensus among Roman Christians that March 25th marked the actual date of Christ’s crucifixion according to the Roman (Julian) calendar.  Later research would reveal this to be impossible, but for those early days of the Church, that was the consensus among Christians living in and around Rome.

There is another dimension we must add to this here.  It is called the ‘integral age.’  Here we have yet another example of ancient Jewish influence on early Christianity.  While such a belief is found nowhere in the Scriptures, it was widely held by ancient Jews that great prophets died on the same date as either their birth or conception.  So according to this extra-biblical JEWISH TRADITION, which was accepted by early Christians (though it was never required as an article of faith), Jesus being the greatest of all Jewish prophets, must have died on the same date on which he was originally conceived in the womb of his mother — Mary.  So March 25th came to be assigned not only as Good Friday (which rarely fell on a Friday actually) but also the date of the Annunciation, when the angel Gabriel announced the coming of Christ to the Virgin Mary, wherein she accepted her destiny and conceived Jesus Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit.  March 25th is to this day marked as the Feast of the Annunciation in the liturgical calendar of the Roman Catholic Church.  Even though this date was determined by flawed calendar calculations coupled with extra-biblical Jewish traditions, it should be taken as the historical reason for the selection of this date as the Feast of the Annunciation.   It should not be taken as the literal date in which it actually happened.   There is no way we can know the actual literal date of Christ’s conception.  Every theory out there is just speculation.  Still, the early Christians in and around Rome were satisfied with this date, and there is evidence that many Christians accepted it as both the Annunciation and Good Friday throughout various regions of the Roman Empire.

Okay, so now we have the date of Christ’s conception and death, which was accepted by many early Christians from the 2nd to 3rd centuries.  The actual date of Christ’s death would be recalculated in later centuries much more accurately, but March 25th would remain as the accepted date of Christ’s conception in later centuries, as by that time the Jewish tradition of the “integral age” had fallen into obscurity.  To this day, March 25th remains the commonly accepted date of Christ’s conception, if for no other reason than tradition’s sake, and that is why we celebrate the birth of Christ on December 25th. 

 

Just count exactly nine months from the traditional date observed as Christ’s conception (March 25th) and you land on the 25th day of December, which from the fourth century (AD 300s) onward was marked as the traditional date observed as Christ’s birth — the Feast of the Nativity.  Of course, this worked out quite well for the Jewish Christians, particularly those living in Rome, because that date happened to coincide exactly (coincidence or providence?) with the beginning of the Jewish Christian observance of Hanukkah they had been celebrating on December 25th for a couple hundred years already.  Now the Jewish Christians living in Rome were not only celebrating the coming of the Light of God (Jesus Christ) into the Second Temple (John 10:22-23) along with remembrance of the light that entered during the Maccabean Revolution, but December 25th now marked the coming of the Light of God into the whole world at his birth!  Naturally, this added significance for this date to Gentile Christians as well, who were keen on celebrating birthdays, and in all likelihood the growing observance of December 25th among Christians in Rome was enough for the Pagan Caesar Aurelian to take notice of it in AD 274.  Thus, seeing how closely this celebration was in proximity to the winter solstice, he tried to trump it with his Pagan Feast of Sol Invictus.  The observance of December 25th was not a Pagan celebration hijacked by Christians as theorised by Jablonski and Hardouin in the 18th century, but rather the other way around.

It was a growing Christian celebration that the Pagan Emperor attempted to hijack instead, in his vain attempt to reunify the crumbling Pagan religions of Rome.  His attempted Feast of Sol Invictus (the Unconquered Sun), which marked the close of a winter solstice that Roman sun worshippers never cared about prior to his decree, was a miserable failure.  Basically, it was a flop!  The cult (and the empire) went extinct sometime in the 5th century.  By that time Christianity had spread throughout all the known world, and would soon come to power as Christendom, the prevailing governance of all Europe during the Middle Ages.

So that is how the date for Christmas (December 25th) came about.  The Octave of Christmas, on the Roman Catholic calendar, which spans from December 25th to January 1st, ends with the beginning of the civil new year, and is a tribute to the contribution made by the eight-day festival by early Jewish Christians.   In time the Jewish population of the early Church faded away, and with them the Jewish origins of Christmas fell into obscurity.  Hints and clues of this have remained with us to this day, but they are veiled by a general lack of historical knowledge. 

 

Later, the Christmas festival was expanded to encompass a full twelve days, which came to be called Christmastide or the ‘Season of Christmas,’ marking the time between the Feast of the Nativity (December 25th) and the Feast of the Epiphany (January 6th), commemorating the visit of the wise men (magi) from the East.  In the West, the emphasis for Christmastide has always been on the first day of the twelve-day festival — the Feast of the Nativity (December 25th).  While in the East, the emphasis has always been on the last day of the twelve-day festival — the Feast of the Epiphany (January 6th).

In the Western world, other traditions and customs developed over the centuries.  Most of them are actually Protestant in origin, but equally enjoyed by Catholics.  The Christmas tree comes from Germany, particularly from the Protestant founder Martin Luther.  Yule logs and mistletoe likely come from northern European folk customs.  Some may perhaps be Pagan in origin, but have since lost their Pagan meaning.  These things have little significance in the modern celebration of Christmas anyway.

Of course the legends of Santa Claus originated with the Catholic Saint Nicholas, who is the patron saint of sailors and children.  The story of his life has been embellished with legends and myths from all over the world, resulting in the Santa Claus traditions we are familiar with today.  Much of that was commercialised in the United States in the early 20th century.

So in answer to the above question.  No, Christmas is not Pagan.  Far from it really, but it seems that some people are hell bent on finding something Pagan about it, regardless if it is true or historically accurate.  So have a Happy Advent and a Merry Christmas everyone!”

 

Christmas Was Never a Pagan Holiday

Christmas Was Never a Pagan Holiday (video)

 

How December 25 Became Christmas – Biblical Archaeology Society

“There are two theories today: one extremely popular, the other less often heard outside scholarly circles (though far more ancient).

The most loudly touted theory about the origins of the Christmas date(s) is that it was borrowed from pagan celebrations. The Romans had their mid-winter Saturnalia festival in late December; barbarian peoples of northern and western Europe kept holidays at similar times. To top it off, in 274 C.E., the Roman emperor Aurelian established a feast of the birth of Sol Invictus (the Unconquered Sun), on December 25. Christmas, the argument goes, is really a spin-off from these pagan solar festivals. According to this theory, early Christians deliberately chose these dates to encourage the spread of Christmas and Christianity throughout the Roman world: If Christmas looked like a pagan holiday, more pagans would be open to both the holiday and the God whose birth it celebrated.

Despite its popularity today, this theory of Christmas’s origins has its problems. It is not found in any ancient Christian writings, for one thing. Christian authors of the time do note a connection between the solstice and Jesus’ birth: The church father Ambrose (c. 339–397), for example, described Christ as the true sun, who outshone the fallen gods of the old order. But early Christian writers never hint at any recent calendrical engineering; they clearly don’t think the date was chosen by the church. Rather they see the coincidence as a providential sign, as natural proof that God had selected Jesus over the false pagan gods.

It’s not until the 12th century that we find the first suggestion that Jesus’ birth celebration was deliberately set at the time of pagan feasts. A marginal note on a manuscript of the writings of the Syriac biblical commentator Dionysius bar-Salibi states that in ancient times the Christmas holiday was actually shifted from January 6 to December 25 so that it fell on the same date as the pagan Sol Invictus holiday. 5 In the 18th and 19th centuries, Bible scholars spurred on by the new study of comparative religions latched on to this idea.6 They claimed that because the early Christians didn’t know when Jesus was born, they simply assimilated the pagan solstice festival for their own purposes, claiming it as the time of the Messiah’s birth and celebrating it accordingly.

More recent studies have shown that many of the holiday’s modern trappings do reflect pagan customs borrowed much later, as Christianity expanded into northern and western Europe. The Christmas tree, for example, has been linked with late medieval druidic practices. This has only encouraged modern audiences to assume that the date, too, must be pagan.

There are problems with this popular theory, however, as many scholars recognize. Most significantly, the first mention of a date for Christmas (c. 200) and the earliest celebrations that we know about (c. 250–300) come in a period when Christians were not borrowing heavily from pagan traditions of such an obvious character.

Granted, Christian belief and practice were not formed in isolation. Many early elements of Christian worship—including eucharistic meals, meals honoring martyrs and much early Christian funerary art—would have been quite comprehensible to pagan observers. Yet, in the first few centuries C.E., the persecuted Christian minority was greatly concerned with distancing itself from the larger, public pagan religious observances, such as sacrifices, games and holidays. This was still true as late as the violent persecutions of the Christians conducted by the Roman emperor Diocletian between 303 and 312 C.E.

This would change only after Constantine converted to Christianity. From the mid-fourth century on, we do find Christians deliberately adapting and Christianizing pagan festivals. A famous proponent of this practice was Pope Gregory the Great, who, in a letter written in 601 C.E. to a Christian missionary in Britain, recommended that local pagan temples not be destroyed but be converted into churches, and that pagan festivals be celebrated as feasts of Christian martyrs. At this late point, Christmas may well have acquired some pagan trappings. But we don’t have evidence of Christians adopting pagan festivals in the third century, at which point dates for Christmas were established. Thus, it seems unlikely that the date was simply selected to correspond with pagan solar festivals.

The December 25 feast seems to have existed before 312—before Constantine and his conversion, at least. As we have seen, the Donatist Christians in North Africa seem to have known it from before that time. Furthermore, in the mid- to late fourth century, church leaders in the eastern Empire concerned themselves not with introducing a celebration of Jesus’ birthday, but with the addition of the December date to their traditional celebration on January 6.

There is another way to account for the origins of Christmas on December 25: Strange as it may seem, the key to dating Jesus’ birth may lie in the dating of Jesus’ death at Passover. This view was first suggested to the modern world by French scholar Louis Duchesne in the early 20th century and fully developed by American Thomas Talley in more recent years. But they were certainly not the first to note a connection between the traditional date of Jesus’ death and his birth.

Around 200 C.E. Tertullian of Carthage reported the calculation that the 14th of Nisan (the day of the crucifixion according to the Gospel of John) in the year Jesus diedc was equivalent to March 25 in the Roman (solar) calendar. March 25 is, of course, nine months before December 25; it was later recognized as the Feast of the Annunciation—the commemoration of Jesus’ conception.10 Thus, Jesus was believed to have been conceived and crucified on the same day of the year. Exactly nine months later, Jesus was born, on December 25.

This idea appears in an anonymous Christian treatise titled On Solstices and Equinoxes, which appears to come from fourth-century North Africa. The treatise states: “Therefore our Lord was conceived on the eighth of the kalends of April in the month of March [March 25], which is the day of the passion of the Lord and of his conception. For on that day he was conceived on the same he suffered.” Based on this, the treatise dates Jesus’ birth to the winter solstice.

Augustine, too, was familiar with this association. In On the Trinity (c. 399–419) he writes: “For he [Jesus] is believed to have been conceived on the 25th of March, upon which day also he suffered; so the womb of the Virgin, in which he was conceived, where no one of mortals was begotten, corresponds to the new grave in which he was buried, wherein was never man laid, neither before him nor since. But he was born, according to tradition, upon December the 25th.”

In the East, too, the dates of Jesus’ conception and death were linked. But instead of working from the 14th of Nisan in the Hebrew calendar, the easterners used the 14th of the first spring month (Artemisios) in their local Greek calendar—April 6 to us. April 6 is, of course, exactly nine months before January 6—the eastern date for Christmas. In the East, too, we have evidence that April was associated with Jesus’ conception and crucifixion. Bishop Epiphanius of Salamis writes that on April 6, “The lamb was shut up in the spotless womb of the holy virgin, he who took away and takes away in perpetual sacrifice the sins of the world.” Even today, the Armenian Church celebrates the Annunciation in early April (on the 7th, not the 6th) and Christmas on January 6.e

Thus, we have Christians in two parts of the world calculating Jesus’ birth on the basis that his death and conception took place on the same day (March 25 or April 6) and coming up with two close but different results (December 25 and January 6).

Connecting Jesus’ conception and death in this way will certainly seem odd to modern readers, but it reflects ancient and medieval understandings of the whole of salvation being bound up together. One of the most poignant expressions of this belief is found in Christian art. In numerous paintings of the angel’s Annunciation to Mary—the moment of Jesus’ conception—the baby Jesus is shown gliding down from heaven on or with a small cross (see photo above of detail from Master Bertram’s Annunciation scene); a visual reminder that the conception brings the promise of salvation through Jesus’ death.

The notion that creation and redemption should occur at the same time of year is also reflected in ancient Jewish tradition, recorded in the Talmud. The Babylonian Talmud preserves a dispute between two early-second-century C.E. rabbis who share this view, but disagree on the date: Rabbi Eliezer states: “In Nisan the world was created; in Nisan the Patriarchs were born; on Passover Isaac was born … and in Nisan they [our ancestors] will be redeemed in time to come.” (The other rabbi, Joshua, dates these same events to the following month, Tishri.) Thus, the dates of Christmas and Epiphany may well have resulted from Christian theological reflection on such chronologies: Jesus would have been conceived on the same date he died, and born nine months later.

In the end we are left with a question: How did December 25 become Christmas? We cannot be entirely sure. Elements of the festival that developed from the fourth century until modern times may well derive from pagan traditions. Yet the actual date might really derive more from Judaism—from Jesus’ death at Passover, and from the rabbinic notion that great things might be expected, again and again, at the same time of the year—than from paganism. Then again, in this notion of cycles and the return of God’s redemption, we may perhaps also be touching upon something that the pagan Romans who celebrated Sol Invictus, and many other peoples since, would have understood and claimed for their own, too.”

 

happy birthday

I’m sharing this picture because I have been greatly convicted in regards to these claims in recent years. This picture personifies the problem with the “Christianity is pagan” beliefs of many. On the surface level, those familiar with the claims that Christianity “synchretized” paganism will see this picture as truth and move on. The fact of the matter is that this image is full of falsehoods.

Tammuz was not a historical person (historically).  His “birth/rebirth” came in the Spring.

There’s no evidence of when Nimrod was born other than speculation.

Horus’ birth was actually celebrated during the month of Khoiak, (October/November).  There is no record of this date being significant for Dionysus/Bacchus. Like Attis, Dionysus is associated with the annual return of spring.  The festival of Bacchus/Dionysius was celebrated during the time period of December (by some) but not the winter solstice in particular, others celebrated Bacchanalia in March.

The Greeks didn’t celebrate the birthdays of the gods. Zeus for example was said by some to be born on December 25th but history said March 26th in 700 BC.

There is historical evidence that the birthdays of ‘sol invictus’ and Mithras were on ‘December 25th’ but these things came AFTER the days of Jesus Christ. One cannot say that Christians took this date because of the pagan sun gods, it was actually the opposite that occurred.

Many who have gotten involved in the “Christianity is pagan” camp, or certain aspects thereof, have done so because they were led to believe that the Church lied to them yet haven’t examined the claims of the “pagan” origins camp thoroughly enough to see that there are many more falsehoods coming from this side than from the Church.

Scripture declares the church (body of Christ) is the “pillar and ground of the truth” (1 Timothy 3:15). When the Church’s teachings are attacked and condemned as deriving from “paganism” it undermines the foundation of truth, Christ Himself (Ephesians 2:20; Acts 9:4-5). If one is going to make these claims, much research and examination must be done to ensure that these claims are fact and not antichrist lies.

I’ve believed, shared and taught many of the “pagan Christianity” claims in the past but I’ve come to find that teaching these things were not building up the body of Messiah as I had hoped but were rather tearing it down. I thought I was serving Christ but in reality I was persecuting Him (Acts 9:5). In some ways I was teaching truth (in varying degrees), but doing so in unrighteousness (Romans 1:18).

I encourage all believers in Messiah to research and study into this subject. Look at the claims and then look at all of the excellent research out there that absolutely refutes these claims. I see many believers innocently/ignorantly repeating the claims made by those in the “Christianity is pagan” movement when they are not based in fact. This is bearing false witness and is especially dangerous as it is false witness about our Lord and Savior.

 

Winter Holidays

winter holiday candle

Everything we experience in this life is a Shadow picture or parable that points us back to the Word of God, the Image of the Father (Hebrews 1:3; 8:5; 9:24; 10:1; 2 Corinthians 4:4; Colossians 1:15-16; 2:16-17; 3:11).

Heb 1:3  Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high;

Heb 8:5  Who serve unto the example and shadow of heavenly things, as Moses was admonished of God when he was about to make the tabernacle: for, See, saith he, that thou make all things according to the pattern shewed to thee in the mount.

Heb 9:24  For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true; but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us:

Heb 10:1  For the law having a shadow of good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with those sacrifices which they offered year by year continually make the comers thereunto perfect.

2Co 4:4  In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.

Col 1:15  Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature:

Col 1:16  For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him:

Col 2:16  Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days:

Col 2:17  Which are a shadow of things to come; but the body is of Christ.

Col 3:10  And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him:

Col 3:11  Where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free: but Christ is all, and in all.

He is in control of all things and thus, His Hand is seen in all things.  Even the very Word is a shadow pointing to Him (Hebrews 10:1).

Heb 10:1  For the law having a shadow of good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with those sacrifices which they offered year by year continually make the comers thereunto perfect.

Thus, we are not to judge one another on how we worship Him (Colossians 2:16-17), we are to work out our salvation with fear and trembling (Philippians 2:12-13).

Col 2:16  Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days:

Col 2:17  Which are a shadow of things to come; but the body is of Christ.

Php 2:12  Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.

Php 2:13  For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.

There is nothing wrong with admonishing one another and correcting one another in love (2 Timothy 4:2; Ephesians 4:15), but ultimately each person has to find out what His will is by seeking His Face and being transformed from within (Romans 12:2; Hebrews 13:21).

2Ti 4:2  Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine.

Eph 4:15  But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ:

Rom 12:2  And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

Heb 13:20  Now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant,

Heb 13:21  Make you perfect in every good work to do his will, working in you that which is wellpleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ; to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.

Arguing, fighting, debating, pointing the finger at one another is not going to lead people to truth (Romans 1:29; Isaiah 58:4), it only engenders strife and division (1 Corinthians 1:12-13; 3:3-4; Philippians 2:3).

Rom 1:28  And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient;

Rom 1:29  Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers,

Isa 58:4  Behold, ye fast for strife and debate, and to smite with the fist of wickedness: ye shall not fast as ye do this day, to make your voice to be heard on high.

1Co 1:12  Now this I say, that every one of you saith, I am of Paul; and I of Apollos; and I of Cephas; and I of Christ.

1Co 1:13  Is Christ divided? was Paul crucified for you? or were ye baptized in the name of Paul?

1Co 3:3  For ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men?

1Co 3:4  For while one saith, I am of Paul; and another, I am of Apollos; are ye not carnal?

Php 2:3  Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.

Php 2:4  Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others.

Unity does not mean that we all have to agree with one another on all doctrine.  Unity comes through covenant relationship with God through Messiah (Psalm 50:5; Isaiah 49:3-9; Hebrews 2:11; 13:20-21; Jeremiah 50:5; Ephesians 2:15; Colossians 1:20; 2:1-11).

Psa 50:4  He shall call to the heavens from above, and to the earth, that he may judge his people.

Psa 50:5  Gather my saints together unto me; those that have made a covenant with me by sacrifice.

Psa 50:6  And the heavens shall declare his righteousness: for God is judge himself. Selah.

Isa 49:3  And said unto me, Thou art my servant, O Israel, in whom I will be glorified.

Isa 49:4  Then I said, I have laboured in vain, I have spent my strength for nought, and in vain: yet surely my judgment is with the LORD, and my work with my God.

Isa 49:5  And now, saith the LORD that formed me from the womb to be his servant, to bring Jacob again to him, Though Israel be not gathered, yet shall I be glorious in the eyes of the LORD, and my God shall be my strength.

Isa 49:6  And he said, It is a light thing that thou shouldest be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and to restore the preserved of Israel: I will also give thee for a light to the Gentiles, that thou mayest be my salvation unto the end of the earth.

Isa 49:7  Thus saith the LORD, the Redeemer of Israel, and his Holy One, to him whom man despiseth, to him whom the nation abhorreth, to a servant of rulers, Kings shall see and arise, princes also shall worship, because of the LORD that is faithful, and the Holy One of Israel, and he shall choose thee.

Isa 49:8  Thus saith the LORD, In an acceptable time have I heard thee, and in a day of salvation have I helped thee: and I will preserve thee, and give thee for a covenant of the people, to establish the earth, to cause to inherit the desolate heritages;

Isa 49:9  That thou mayest say to the prisoners, Go forth; to them that are in darkness, Shew yourselves. They shall feed in the ways, and their pastures shall be in all high places.

Isa 49:10  They shall not hunger nor thirst; neither shall the heat nor sun smite them: for he that hath mercy on them shall lead them, even by the springs of water shall he guide them.

Isa 49:11  And I will make all my mountains a way, and my highways shall be exalted.

Isa 49:12  Behold, these shall come from far: and, lo, these from the north and from the west; and these from the land of Sinim.

Isa 49:13  Sing, O heavens; and be joyful, O earth; and break forth into singing, O mountains: for the LORD hath comforted his people, and will have mercy upon his afflicted.

Heb 2:11  For both he that sanctifieth and they who are sanctified are all of one: for which cause he is not ashamed to call them brethren,

Heb 13:20  Now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant,

Heb 13:21  Make you perfect in every good work to do his will, working in you that which is wellpleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ; to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.

Jer 50:4  In those days, and in that time, saith the LORD, the children of Israel shall come, they and the children of Judah together, going and weeping: they shall go, and seek the LORD their God.

Jer 50:5  They shall ask the way to Zion with their faces thitherward, saying, Come, and let us join ourselves to the LORD in a perpetual covenant that shall not be forgotten.

Eph 2:13  But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ.

Eph 2:14  For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us;

Eph 2:15  Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace;

Eph 2:16  And that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby:

Eph 2:17  And came and preached peace to you which were afar off, and to them that were nigh.

Eph 2:18  For through him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father.

Eph 2:19  Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God;

Eph 2:20  And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone;

Eph 2:21  In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord:

Eph 2:22  In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.

Col 1:20  And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven.

Col 1:21  And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled

Col 1:22  In the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight:

Col 1:23  If ye continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel, which ye have heard, and which was preached to every creature which is under heaven; whereof I Paul am made a minister;

Col 2:1  For I would that ye knew what great conflict I have for you, and for them at Laodicea, and for as many as have not seen my face in the flesh;

Col 2:2  That their hearts might be comforted, being knit together in love, and unto all riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the acknowledgement of the mystery of God, and of the Father, and of Christ;

Col 2:3  In whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.

Col 2:4  And this I say, lest any man should beguile you with enticing words.

Col 2:5  For though I be absent in the flesh, yet am I with you in the spirit, joying and beholding your order, and the stedfastness of your faith in Christ.

Col 2:6  As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him:

Col 2:7  Rooted and built up in him, and stablished in the faith, as ye have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving.

Col 2:8  Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.

Col 2:9  For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily.

Col 2:10  And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power:

Col 2:11  In whom also ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ:

Although all things are shadows, not all things are pleasing to Him as corruption entered creation at the time of the tree of knowledge being eaten by Adam (Romans 5:12; 1 Corinthians 15:22).

Rom 5:12  Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned:

1Co 15:22  For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.

Thus, all have fallen short of His glory (Romans 3:23) and all have corrupted His image in our actions and in our religious practices.

Rom 3:23  For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;

As believers, we are called to ‘come out of’ of the corruptions of this world and walk in the purity of His Word (2 Corinthians 6:17; Revelation 18:4), growing in grace and knowledge (2 Peter 3:18), transforming into His image, from ‘glory to glory’ (2 Corinthians 3:18).

2Co 6:17  Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you,

2Co 6:18  And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.

Rev 18:4  And I heard another voice from heaven, saying, Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues.

2Pe 3:18  But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen.

2Co 3:18  But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.

So while many aspects of religion and customs of the world point us to the Almighty, religion in and of itself is not the path to truth and salvation.  The path to truth and salvation is in covenant relationship with the Lord (John 14:6), the Word who was made flesh.

Joh 14:6  Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.

As we all see through a glass darkly, we must be patient with one another and walk in His love for this is the essence of the Almighty (1 Corinthians 13:12-13; 1 John 4:7-18).

1Co 13:12  For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.

1Co 13:13  And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.

1Jn 4:7  Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God.

1Jn 4:8  He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.

1Jn 4:9  In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him.

1Jn 4:10  Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.

1Jn 4:11  Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another.

1Jn 4:12  No man hath seen God at any time. If we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and his love is perfected in us.

1Jn 4:13  Hereby know we that we dwell in him, and he in us, because he hath given us of his Spirit.

1Jn 4:14  And we have seen and do testify that the Father sent the Son to be the Saviour of the world.

1Jn 4:15  Whosoever shall confess that Jesus is the Son of God, God dwelleth in him, and he in God.

1Jn 4:16  And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us. God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him.

1Jn 4:17  Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment: because as he is, so are we in this world.

1Jn 4:18  There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love.

It is only through the example of God’s patience and forbearance that men can be led to repentance (Romans 2:4).

Rom 2:4  Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance?

People are not led to true repentance through convincing arguments (1 Corinthians 2:1-5), they are led to the truth through the power of God (1 Corinthians 2:5).

1Co 2:1  And I, brethren, when I came to you, came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, declaring unto you the testimony of God.

1Co 2:2  For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified.

1Co 2:3  And I was with you in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling.

1Co 2:4  And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man’s wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power:

1Co 2:5  That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.

He desires the salvation of man, not their condemnation (Ezekiel 18:23; 2 Peter 3:9; 1 Timothy 2:4).

Eze 18:23  Have I any pleasure at all that the wicked should die? saith the Lord GOD: and not that he should return from his ways, and live?

2Pe 3:9  The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.

1Ti 2:4  Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.

1Ti 2:5  For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus;

1Ti 2:6  Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time.

His power is His love in Messiah (Ephesians 3:16-17) who died for ALL mankind (John 3:16).

Eph 3:16  That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man;

Eph 3:17  That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love,

Eph 3:18  May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height;

Eph 3:19  And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God.

Joh 3:15  That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life.

Joh 3:16  For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

Joh 3:17  For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.

Joh 3:18  He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.

We come to faith in Him, not through doctrine or works, but by His grace (Ephesians 2:8-9).

Eph 2:8  For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:

Eph 2:9  Not of works, lest any man should boast.

If we are to have the mind of Messiah (Philippians 2:5) we need to have His love (Ephesians 5:2).

Php 2:5  Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:

Php 2:6  Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God:

Php 2:7  But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men:

Php 2:8  And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.

Eph 5:1  Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children;

Eph 5:2  And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savour.

Love does not condemn but seeks to cover over sin and lead to truth (Proverbs 10:12; 17:9; 1 Corinthians 13:4; James 5:20; 1 Peter 4:8).

Pro 10:12  Hatred stirreth up strifes: but love covereth all sins.

Pro 17:9  He that covereth a transgression seeketh love; but he that repeateth a matter separateth very friends.

1Co 13:4  Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up,

Jas 5:19  Brethren, if any of you do err from the truth, and one convert him;

Jas 5:20  Let him know, that he which converteth the sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul from death, and shall hide a multitude of sins.

1Pe 4:8  And above all things have fervent charity among yourselves: for charity shall cover the multitude of sins.

As a result, we are given the ministry of reconciliation and not of condemnation (2 Corinthians 2:10-11; 5:14-21; Ephesians 4:27).

2Co 2:10  To whom ye forgive any thing, I forgive also: for if I forgave any thing, to whom I forgave it, for your sakes forgave I it in the person of Christ;

2Co 2:11  Lest Satan should get an advantage of us: for we are not ignorant of his devices.

2Co 5:14  For the love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead:

2Co 5:15  And that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again.

2Co 5:16  Wherefore henceforth know we no man after the flesh: yea, though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now henceforth know we him no more.

2Co 5:17  Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.

2Co 5:18  And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation;

2Co 5:19  To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation.

2Co 5:20  Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God.

2Co 5:21  For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.

Eph 4:22  That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts;

Eph 4:23  And be renewed in the spirit of your mind;

Eph 4:24  And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.

Eph 4:25  Wherefore putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbour: for we are members one of another.

Eph 4:26  Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath:

Eph 4:27  Neither give place to the devil.

As He died for all, we should no longer judge others after the flesh but look upon them as the Lord sees them (2 Corinthians 5:14-21).

He loves all (John 3:16) and desires that all come to salvation (2 Peter 3:9; 1 Timothy 2:4) and uses holidays such as Christmas to draw men unto Himself.  It is His love that draws mankind (John 12:32; Isaiah 54:7-13; John 6:44-45) not doctrine, nor our understanding of His Word.

Joh 12:32  And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me.

Isa 54:7  For a small moment have I forsaken thee; but with great mercies will I gather thee.

Isa 54:8  In a little wrath I hid my face from thee for a moment; but with everlasting kindness will I have mercy on thee, saith the LORD thy Redeemer.

Isa 54:9  For this is as the waters of Noah unto me: for as I have sworn that the waters of Noah should no more go over the earth; so have I sworn that I would not be wroth with thee, nor rebuke thee.

Isa 54:10  For the mountains shall depart, and the hills be removed; but my kindness shall not depart from thee, neither shall the covenant of my peace be removed, saith the LORD that hath mercy on thee.

Isa 54:11  O thou afflicted, tossed with tempest, and not comforted, behold, I will lay thy stones with fair colours, and lay thy foundations with sapphires.

Isa 54:12  And I will make thy windows of agates, and thy gates of carbuncles, and all thy borders of pleasant stones.

Isa 54:13  And all thy children shall be taught of the LORD; and great shall be the peace of thy children.

Joh 6:44  No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day.

Joh 6:45  It is written in the prophets, And they shall be all taught of God. Every man therefore that hath heard, and hath learned of the Father, cometh unto me.

All of creation was corrupted, yet all of creation still points to Jesus, the One who reconciles creation back to the Father (Colossians 1:14-20; Ephesians 2:16; 2 Corinthians 5:18-21; Romans 5:10).

Col 1:14  In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins:

Col 1:15  Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature:

Col 1:16  For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him:

Col 1:17  And he is before all things, and by him all things consist.

Col 1:18  And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence.

Col 1:19  For it pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell;

Col 1:20  And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven.

Eph 2:16  And that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby:

2Co 5:18  And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation;

2Co 5:19  To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation.

2Co 5:20  Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God.

2Co 5:21  For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.

Rom 5:10  For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.

His grace is seen in all things, yet when one receives His forgiveness and grace they are called to ‘go and sin no more’ (John 5:14; 8:11).

Joh 5:14  Afterward Jesus findeth him in the temple, and said unto him, Behold, thou art made whole: sin no more, lest a worse thing come unto thee.

Joh 8:10  When Jesus had lifted up himself, and saw none but the woman, he said unto her, Woman, where are those thine accusers? hath no man condemned thee?

Joh 8:11  She said, No man, Lord. And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more.

Joh 8:12  Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.

We are to seek the purity of His Word (Psalm 12:6), to walk before Him and be perfect (Matthew 5:48).

Psa 12:6  The words of the LORD are pure words: as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times.

Psa 12:7  Thou shalt keep them, O LORD, thou shalt preserve them from this generation for ever.

Mat 5:48  Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.

So, while many things which we believe and do have many good aspects, they may not be pure in light of His Word.  This is not to condemn these things in entirety, but there comes a time when the Father calls us to grow in maturity and leave off these ‘childish’ things (1 Corinthians 13:11).

1Co 13:11  When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.

1Co 13:12  For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.

1Co 13:13  And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.

It is in this spirit that I share this study.  It is a message I believe I have been shown in the past few years that the winter holidays have been used for much good in calling the masses, through the example of His love, to Him.  Yet, these holidays have aspects in them today which are not entirely pure and as such believers need to test all things and hold fast to that which is true (1 John 4:1; 1 Thessalonians 5:21).

1Jn 4:1  Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world.

1Th 5:21  Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.

These principals can be applied to most subjects which we encounter.  Christmas and its customs are shadow pictures which lead men to the Messiah, yet may also have corruptions within.

The traditions and customs which we see during this time of year point to the Messiah, albeit some in corrupted form. Christmas has become an imperfect celebration due to some customs which have been added after the time of the Apostles but even in its “imperfection” it displays the perfect Gospel.

Winter itself points to the death and resurrection of Messiah, the Gospel. Winter is a time of darkness in which people desire light.  This holiday give this to them as it points mankind to the Light of the World (John 8:12).

Joh 8:12  Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.

 

Col 2:17  Which are a shadow of things to come; but the body is of Christ.

Some customs of this holiday are but mere shadows, so as we walk with the Lord and grow closer to the goal set before us (Philippians 3:14), we should leave off with the childish things and grow unto maturity (1 Corinthians 13:11; 14:20).

Php 3:13  Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before,

Php 3:14  I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.

1Co 13:11  When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.

1Co 13:12  For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.

1Co 13:13  And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.

1Co 14:20  Brethren, be not children in understanding: howbeit in malice be ye children, but in understanding be men.

As mentioned previously, Shadows of Messiah are seen in all creation which includes man and his holidays.  Man was created in the image of God (Genesis 1:26-27).

Gen 1:26  And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.

Gen 1:27  So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.

Hence, more than any other part of creation, shadow pictures of Messiah are seen in relation to mankind.  One major aspect of man is his religious ceremonies/holidays.  As I’ve studied ancient history and religions, a repeating theme is seen.  Truth mixed with error.  All religions of the world have some truth which traces back to the Holy Scriptures and ultimately the Tree of Life.  However, many are mixed with corruptions which reveals that they are also producing fruit from the tree of knowledge which is a counterfeit of the Tree of Life.

Nonetheless, no matter how far removed from the truth a particular religion is, there is still some truth within, a glimmer of light which calls man to His Creator, through Messiah Jesus. All religions have some truth which is a gift of grace to all of mankind to draw us back to the Most High (2 Peter 3:9; 1 Timothy 2:4; 4:10), for He is the God of all.

2Pe 3:9  The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.

1Ti 2:4  Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.

1Ti 4:10  For therefore we both labour and suffer reproach, because we trust in the living God, who is the Saviour of all men, specially of those that believe.

Rom 3:29  Or is He the God of Jews only, and not also of the nations? Yes, of the nations also,

Jer 32:27  Behold, I am Jehovah, the God of all flesh. Is anything too difficult for Me?

Joh 1:9  He was the true Light; He enlightens every man coming into the world.

Isa 19:24  In that day Israel shall be the third with Egypt and with Assyria, a blessing in the midst of the earth,
Isa 19:25  whom Jehovah of Hosts shall bless, saying, Blessed be My people Egypt, and Assyria, the work of My hands, and Israel My inheritance.

Num 16:22  And they fell on their faces, and said, O God, God of the spirits of all flesh; shall one man sin, and will You be angry with all the congregation?
Num 27:16  Let Jehovah, the God of the spirits of all flesh, appoint a man over the congregation
Job 12:10  in whose hand is the soul of every living thing, and the breath of all flesh, even of man?
Ecc 12:7  then the dust shall return to the earth as it was, and the spirit shall return to God who gave it.
Isa 64:8  But now, Jehovah, You are our Father. We are the clay, and You are our Former; yea, we all are Your handiwork.

There is a Biblical principle of God sifting believers to draw them closer to Himself (Psalm 139:3).

Psa 139:1  To the chief Musician, A Psalm of David. O LORD, thou hast searched me, and known me.

Psa 139:2  Thou knowest my downsitting and mine uprising, thou understandest my thought afar off.

Psa 139:3  Thou compassest my path and my lying down, and art acquainted with all my ways.

Psa 139:4  For there is not a word in my tongue, but, lo, O LORD, thou knowest it altogether.

Many times He allows the adversary to do this, such as in the case of Peter (Luke 22:31-32) and Job  (Job 1:12; 2:6).

Luk 22:31  And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat:

Luk 22:32  But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren.

Job 1:12  And the LORD said unto Satan, Behold, all that he hath is in thy power; only upon himself put not forth thine hand. So Satan went forth from the presence of the LORD.

Job 2:6  And the LORD said unto Satan, Behold, he is in thine hand; but save his life.

In the end this sifting was done for the betterment of both Peter and Job (Luke 22:32; Job 42:12).

Luk 22:32  But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren.

Job 42:12  So the LORD blessed the latter end of Job more than his beginning: for he had fourteen thousand sheep, and six thousand camels, and a thousand yoke of oxen, and a thousand she asses.

Other times the customs of the heathen are allowed to remain in our midst in order to test believers (Judges 2:2-3, 20-23), but at the same time there are traces of truth that are within them in order to draw man unto their Savior (Psalm 138:6-8; 34:17-19), again for the betterment of man.

Jdg 2:2  And ye shall make no league with the inhabitants of this land; ye shall throw down their altars: but ye have not obeyed my voice: why have ye done this?

Jdg 2:3  Wherefore I also said, I will not drive them out from before you; but they shall be as thorns in your sides, and their gods shall be a snare unto you.

Jdg 2:20  And the anger of the LORD was hot against Israel; and he said, Because that this people hath transgressed my covenant which I commanded their fathers, and have not hearkened unto my voice;

Jdg 2:21  I also will not henceforth drive out any from before them of the nations which Joshua left when he died:

Jdg 2:22  That through them I may prove Israel, whether they will keep the way of the LORD to walk therein, as their fathers did keep it, or not.

Jdg 2:23  Therefore the LORD left those nations, without driving them out hastily; neither delivered he them into the hand of Joshua.

Psa 138:6  Though the LORD be high, yet hath he respect unto the lowly: but the proud he knoweth afar off.

Psa 138:7  Though I walk in the midst of trouble, thou wilt revive me: thou shalt stretch forth thine hand against the wrath of mine enemies, and thy right hand shall save me.

Psa 138:8  The LORD will perfect that which concerneth me: thy mercy, O LORD, endureth for ever: forsake not the works of thine own hands.

Psa 34:17  The righteous cry, and the LORD heareth, and delivereth them out of all their troubles.

Psa 34:18  The LORD is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart; and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit.

Psa 34:19  Many are the afflictions of the righteous: but the LORD delivereth him out of them all.

Christmas, in its modern form, is a perfect example of this mixture of good and evil, the fruit of the tree of knowledge.  Christmas is a mixing of the Biblical account of the birth of Messiah with worthless customs such as “Santa Claus”.  Although Santa Claus is based on a real life person in St. Nicholas who led people to Christ, the modern day version of Santa Claus does just the opposite.

I am convinced that some of the customs of Christmas are not in  the perfect will of God, yet in His incomprehensible love and kindness, He has allowed and used these holidays to draw man unto Himself.  He has placed shadow pictures of His Son in the customs of these holidays that when the Truth was/is revealed (Ephesians 3:4-6; 1:9-10, 18) that those with eyes to see and ears to hear would know and believe (Ephesians 3:5-6).

Eph 3:4  Whereby, when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ)

Eph 3:5  Which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit;

Eph 3:6  That the Gentiles should be fellowheirs, and of the same body, and partakers of his promise in Christ by the gospel:

Eph 1:9  Having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself:

Eph 1:10  That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him:

Eph 1:17  That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him:

Eph 1:18  The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints,

Eph 1:19  And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power,

Eph 1:20  Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places,

Eph 1:21  Far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come:

Eph 1:22  And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church,

Eph 1:23  Which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all.

With that being said, we need to patient with one another and walk in love in consideration of the beliefs of each other in regards to the winter holidays.  There is a lot of good in Christmas which can be used to draw people to Messiah.  This is the main desire of our Creator (John 6:29; 1 John 3:23).

Joh 6:29  Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent.

1Jn 3:23  And this is his commandment, That we should believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, as he gave us commandment.

As a result, we should not impede His work by condemning and judging one another but use this holiday as He intends (Ezekiel 18:23; 2 Peter 3:9; 1 Timothy 2:4).

Eze 18:23  Have I any pleasure at all that the wicked should die? saith the Lord GOD: and not that he should return from his ways, and live?

2Pe 3:9  The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.

1Ti 2:4  Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.

1Ti 2:5  For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus;

1Ti 2:6  Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time.

The old adage, ‘don’t throw out the baby with the bathwater’ certainly applies to these holidays.  When Paul walked in the midst of Mars’ hill, he used the beliefs of the Greeks to teach them about the truth of the Word (Acts 17:22-32), he didn’t condemn them for their beliefs.

Act 17:22  Then Paul stood in the midst of Mars’ hill, and said, Ye men of Athens, I perceive that in all things ye are too superstitious.

Act 17:23  For as I passed by, and beheld your devotions, I found an altar with this inscription, TO THE UNKNOWN GOD. Whom therefore ye ignorantly worship, him declare I unto you.

Act 17:24  God that made the world and all things therein, seeing that he is Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands;

Act 17:25  Neither is worshipped with men’s hands, as though he needed any thing, seeing he giveth to all life, and breath, and all things;

Act 17:26  And hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation;

Act 17:27  That they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him, and find him, though he be not far from every one of us:

Act 17:28  For in him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, For we are also his offspring.

Act 17:29  Forasmuch then as we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Godhead is like unto gold, or silver, or stone, graven by art and man’s device.

Act 17:30  And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent:

Act 17:31  Because he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead.

Act 17:32  And when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some mocked: and others said, We will hear thee again of this matter.

The corrupted aspects of these holidays can be used to lead others to the more perfect way of the Lord (Acts 18:24-28).

Act 18:24  And a certain Jew named Apollos, born at Alexandria, an eloquent man, and mighty in the scriptures, came to Ephesus.

Act 18:25  This man was instructed in the way of the Lord; and being fervent in the spirit, he spake and taught diligently the things of the Lord, knowing only the baptism of John.

Act 18:26  And he began to speak boldly in the synagogue: whom when Aquila and Priscilla had heard, they took him unto them, and expounded unto him the way of God more perfectly.

Act 18:27  And when he was disposed to pass into Achaia, the brethren wrote, exhorting the disciples to receive him: who, when he was come, helped them much which had believed through grace:

Act 18:28  For he mightily convinced the Jews, and that publickly, shewing by the scriptures that Jesus was Christ.

With that being said, I hope to show a few aspects of these customs of Christmas which reveal that which has just been proclaimed.  I hope to give a balanced view of these holidays using equal weights and measures in accordance with the Word (Leviticus 19:35-36).

Lev 19:35  Ye shall do no unrighteousness in judgment, in meteyard, in weight, or in measure.

Lev 19:36  Just balances, just weights, a just ephah, and a just hin, shall ye have: I am the LORD your God, which brought you out of the land of Egypt.

One of the fruits of the Spirit is temperance which also means moderation or ‘balance’ (Galatians 5:23).

Gal 5:22  But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,

Gal 5:23  Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.

Hopefully the information found in this study will help the body of Messiah gain a more balanced view of the ‘reason for the season.’

Festival of Lights

festival of lights 2

The winter holidays celebrated by believers today are known as Festivals of Light.  Both Christmas and Hanukkah are celebrated in winter, which is a time of darkness and death, as shadow pictures which declare the Light of the world who gives life/light to mankind (John 1:4-5, 9; 12:46).

Joh 1:4  In him was life; and the life was the light of men.
Joh 1:5  And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.
Joh 1:5  And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.
Joh 1:6  There was a man sent from God, whose name was John.
Joh 1:7  The same came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all men through him might believe.
Joh 1:8  He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light.
Joh 1:9  That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world.
Joh 1:10  He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not.
Joh 1:11  He came unto his own, and his own received him not.
Joh 1:12  But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:
Joh 1:13  Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.
Joh 1:14  And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.
Joh 12:44  Jesus cried and said, He that believeth on me, believeth not on me, but on him that sent me.
Joh 12:45  And he that seeth me seeth him that sent me.
Joh 12:46  I am come a light into the world, that whosoever believeth on me should not abide in darkness.

As mentioned previously, the season of winter portrays the age old prophecy of the death and resurrection of the Seed of the woman to defeat the enemy of mankind (Genesis 3:15).

Light of the world

menorah tree2

The main reason for this ‘Festival of Light’ is to proclaim the Light of the world.  The Christmas tree is a representation of the “Light of the World” which traces back to the tree of knowledge and the serpent, (in Hebrew the word for serpent is נחש ‘nachash’ which means the shining one, ie. Lucifer the ‘light bringer’). The tree of knowledge was a counterfeit of the Tree of Life, whose fruit comes from the Messiah, the Light of the World.  Messiah took upon Himself the ‘serpent on a tree’ imagery to destroy the works of the devil where His death could bring life to the world (John 3:14; Colossians 2:15; 1 John 3:8).

Joh 3:14  And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up:

Joh 3:15  That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life.

Col 2:13  And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses;

Col 2:14  Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross;

Col 2:15  And having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it.

Col 2:16  Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days:

Col 2:17  Which are a shadow of things to come; but the body is of Christ.

1Jn 3:8  He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil.

 

In the Scriptures the Lord is even likened to an evergreen tree which displays why this custom originated (Hosea 14:8).

Hos 14:8  Ephraim shall say, What have I to do any more with idols? I have heard him, and observed him: I am like a green fir tree. From me is thy fruit found.

The Hebrew word for fir tree is ברוש ‘berosh’ which comes from the root בר ‘bar’ which is the Hebrew word for ‘my son’ (Psalm 2:12).

Psa 2:12  Kiss the Son {בר ‘bar’}, lest he be angry, and ye perish from the way, when his wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all they that put their trust in him.

This is not to say that it is the perfect will of God for believers to cut down trees, decorate them and put them in their homes, this is mentioned to show that there is “Biblical backup” for the custom.
The word Christmas comes from the Old English word ‘Cristes mæsse’ which means “Christ’s Mass”.  Mass comes from the Latin word ‘missa’ which means to “send abroad” as in the message of a missionary with the Gospel which makes Jesus known to the world.  Believers are said to “make known the knowledge of Him” as a “sweet smell”.  The Christmas tree displays this Gospel message and “sweet smell” in concrete form.

2Co 2:14  But thanks be to God, the One always leading us in triumph in Christ, and the One revealing through us the odor of the knowledge of Him in every place.
2Co 2:15  For we are a sweet smell to God because of Christ in those being saved, and in those being lost;
2Co 2:16  to the one, an odor of death unto death, and to the other, an odor of life unto life. And who is sufficient for these things?
2Co 2:17  For we are not as the many, peddling the Word of God; but as of sincerity, but as of God. We speak in Christ, in the sight of God.

Christ comes from the Hebrew word meaning to anoint with oil.  This anointing is related to the Hebrew word רקח ‘raqach’ which means to rub an ointment bringing forth a perfume.  The “smell” of Christmas with the evergreen tree in the home points to the love of God in Christ.

Eph 5:2  and walk in love, even as Christ also loved us and gave Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for an odor of a sweet smell.

The Hebrew word for name is שם ‘shem’ which literally means the “breath” or “aroma” of a person, referring to the breath of man being his character, or what makes him what he is.  The character of God is love, revealed in the work of Christ on the cross.

The Scriptures associate Messiah with the smell of the evergreens of Lebanon (Hosea 14:6; Song of Songs 5:15).

Hos 14:6  His branches shall spread, and his beauty shall be as the olive tree, and his smell as Lebanon.

Son 5:15  His legs are as pillars of marble, set upon sockets of fine gold: his countenance is as Lebanon, excellent as the cedars.

In Hosea 14:6 this association with the evergreen tree likens His beauty to the olive tree which further links to the menorah as olives were used to make the oil for the light (Exodus 25:6).

Exo 25:6  Oil for the light, spices for anointing oil, and for sweet incense,

Zec 4:2  And said unto me, What seest thou? And I said, I have looked, and behold a candlestick all of gold, with a bowl upon the top of it, and his seven lamps thereon, and seven pipes to the seven lamps, which are upon the top thereof:

Zec 4:3  And two olive trees by it, one upon the right side of the bowl, and the other upon the left side thereof.

Zec 4:11  Then answered I, and said unto him, What are these two olive trees upon the right side of the candlestick and upon the left side thereof?

Zec 4:12  And I answered again, and said unto him, What be these two olive branches which through the two golden pipes empty the golden oil out of themselves?

Zec 4:13  And he answered me and said, Knowest thou not what these be? And I said, No, my lord.

Zec 4:14  Then said he, These are the two anointed ones, that stand by the Lord of the whole earth.

It is during winter that Hanukkah is celebrated in which the imagery of the menorah is prominent.  The Christmas tree and its meaning has connections to the menorah. Both the Christmas tree and the Hanukkiah are proclamations of the Light of the world.  As both symbols have identical meanings, it is important for believers not to judge others for their usage of these symbols (Romans 2:22).

Rom 2:22  Thou that sayest a man should not commit adultery, dost thou commit adultery? thou that abhorrest idols, dost thou commit sacrilege?

Those who have quit setting up Christmas trees in their homes should not be pointing the finger in judgment if they are celebrating Hanukkah and lighting Hanukkiahs.

Walking in the love of God dictates that we should be patient and understanding of our brethren who may not see or understand exactly was we do in certain aspects of our walks.  The love of God also dictates that we should be praying for them to grow in the Lord and that their ignorance be pardoned/covered (Proverbs 10:12; 17:9; 1 Peter 4:1-2, 8).

 

Pro 10:12  Hatred stirreth up strifes: but love covereth all sins.
Pro 17:9  He that covereth a transgression seeketh love; but he that repeateth a matter separateth very friends.
1Pe 4:1  Forasmuch then as Christ hath suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves likewise with the same mind: for he that hath suffered in the flesh hath ceased from sin;
1Pe 4:2  That he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh to the lusts of men, but to the will of God.
1Pe 4:3  For the time past of our life may suffice us to have wrought the will of the Gentiles, when we walked in lasciviousness, lusts, excess of wine, revellings, banquetings, and abominable idolatries:
1Pe 4:4  Wherein they think it strange that ye run not with them to the same excess of riot, speaking evil of you:
1Pe 4:5  Who shall give account to him that is ready to judge the quick and the dead.
1Pe 4:6  For for this cause was the gospel preached also to them that are dead, that they might be judged according to men in the flesh, but live according to God in the spirit.
1Pe 4:7  But the end of all things is at hand: be ye therefore sober, and watch unto prayer.
1Pe 4:8  And above all things have fervent charity among yourselves: for charity shall cover the multitude of sins.

We’ll look at the Christmas tree more in the next study.

Family Gatherings

christmas family gathering

Both Christmas and Hanukkah are a time in which families gather together in fellowship.  This desire to gather together during this time of year is engrained within the souls of man by their Creator.  This is the time of year when the weather is dark and cold.  The Hebrew word for cold is קר ‘qar’ which literally means ‘the gathering together of heads’ as in people gathering together in their homes to escape the cold weather.

Winter is the time of the early rains in the mideast.  This is the time of cold where men gather in homes to (קרא ‘qara’) read scrolls and teach or ‘dedicate’ their children.  Hanukkah means dedicate and comes from the root word חנך ‘chanak’ which means to train up or dedicate a child (Proverbs 22:6).

Pro 22:6  Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.

The early rains (יורה ‘yorah’) also mean ‘teaching.’  Winter is the time of year to spend in doors teaching children the ways of the Lord.  The Hebrew word for read and ‘call upon’ the Lord is קרא ‘qara’ which comes from the word for cold, קר ‘qar.’

Christmas ‘proclaims the Word’ as it points to the Light of the World, Jesus. As this is a time to dedicate and teach children, it is no surprise that the winter holidays are focused upon children. It is important that we teach them the truth of the Word during this time of year that the corrupted aspects of the holiday don’t lead them astray.  Scripture is clear that causing a child to stumble is a very grievous sin (Matthew 18:6).

Mat 18:3  And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.

Mat 18:4  Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven.

Mat 18:5  And whoso shall receive one such little child in my name receiveth me.

Mat 18:6  But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea.

Season of Joy, Merriment

joy to the world

Just as winter is a time in which people desire to gather together, it is also a time of joy.  This too was engrained in the souls of men by their Creator.

The 10th month of the Biblical calendar, which occurs during the winter holidays, is known as טבת ‘tevet’ (Esther 2:16).

Est 2:16  So Esther was taken unto king Ahasuerus into his house royal in the tenth month, which is the month Tebeth, in the seventh year of his reign.

טבת ‘tevet’ comes from the word טב ‘tov’ which means good.  טב ‘tov’ literally means to ‘surround the house’ as in people gathering together during the cold of the year.  This word {טב ‘tov’} is also translated on some occasions as ‘merry’ (Judges 16:25; 1 Samuel 25:36; 2 Samuel 13:28; Esther 1:10; Proverbs 15:15) and as joyful (Ecclesiastes 7:14; Isaiah 65:14).

Jdg 16:25  And it came to pass, when their hearts were merry {טב ‘tov’}, that they said, Call for Samson, that he may make us sport. And they called for Samson out of the prison house; and he made them sport: and they set him between the pillars.

1Sa 25:36  And Abigail came to Nabal; and, behold, he held a feast in his house, like the feast of a king; and Nabal’s heart was merry {טב ‘tov’} within him, for he was very drunken: wherefore she told him nothing, less or more, until the morning light.

2Sa 13:28  Now Absalom had commanded his servants, saying, Mark ye now when Amnon’s heart is merry {טב ‘tov’} with wine, and when I say unto you, Smite Amnon; then kill him, fear not: have not I commanded you? be courageous, and be valiant.

Est 1:10  On the seventh day, when the heart of the king was merry {טב ‘tov’} with wine, he commanded Mehuman, Biztha, Harbona, Bigtha, and Abagtha, Zethar, and Carcas, the seven chamberlains that served in the presence of Ahasuerus the king,

Pro 15:15  All the days of the afflicted are evil: but he that is of a merry {טב ‘tov’} heart hath a continual feast.

Ecc 7:14  In the day of prosperity be joyful {טב ‘tov’}, but in the day of adversity consider: God also hath set the one over against the other, to the end that man should find nothing after him.

Isa 65:14  Behold, my servants shall sing for joy {טב ‘tov’} of heart, but ye shall cry for sorrow of heart, and shall howl for vexation of spirit.

The word merry is also translated from the Hebrew word הילול ‘heylool’ which also means to give praise. הילול ‘heylool’ comes from the root הל ‘hal’ which literally depicts a traveler moving in the direction of his home and the joy and desire in which that person has in coming home after a long journey. The traveler would use the stars as his directional guide to get home. As an ancient traveler would draw near to his home, he would see the light of the tent shining in the distance which would bring joy and praise.  This is what the ‘wise men’ experienced as they traveled to meet the King of Heaven (Matthew 2:9-10).

Mat 2:9  When they had heard the king, they departed; and, lo, the star, which they saw in the east, went before them, till it came and stood over where the young child was.

Mat 2:10  When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy.

הלל ‘halal’ which comes from this root הל ‘hal’ means to give praise as in הללויה ‘halleluYah’ (praise ye the LORD).  This word הלל ‘halal’ also means to shine, to celebrate and to give thanks to another.  This is the origin of giving gifts during this time of year.  As mentioned previously, winter was a time which people gathered together and it has always been a custom of people to bring gifts to those they are visiting (Genesis 43:11; 1 Samuel 25:27; Proverbs 19:6).

Gen 43:11  And their father Israel said unto them, If it must be so now, do this; take of the best fruits in the land in your vessels, and carry down the man a present, a little balm, and a little honey, spices, and myrrh, nuts, and almonds:

1Sa 25:27  And now this blessing which thine handmaid hath brought unto my lord, let it even be given unto the young men that follow my lord.

Pro 19:6  Many will intreat the favour of the prince: and every man is a friend to him that giveth gifts.

This custom of bringing a gift to one who you are visiting is seen in a number of Hebrew words.  The first is תשורה ‘teshurah’ which is speaking of a present brought by a traveler, in specific a traveler who is a part of a caravan.  This word comes from the root שור ‘shur’ which is speaking of a caravan whose loads are pulled by an ox (שור ‘shor’).  This word and the cognates of it have fascinating connections to the customs of the winter holidays.

The first connection is the ‘Christmas tree’ which some link back to the אשרה ‘asherah’ of old.  In reality, the Christmas tree has no legitimate, historical links to אשרה ‘asherah’ but for the purposes of understanding we’ll examine the meaning of this word as אשרה ‘asherah’ were trees used by the heathen in their worship.

אשרה ‘asherah’ or ‘grove’ comes from the root שר ‘shar’ which has the meaning of a cord tied together.  אשרה ‘asherah’ is speaking of an upright tree as a cord pulled tight is straight or ‘upright.’  אשר ‘asher’ means happy as one who lives their life ‘straightly’ is happy and content.  אשר ‘asher’ is also speaking of a traveler who walks in a straight path.

The Hebrew word for relative, שאר ‘shaar,’ also comes from the aforementioned root word.  The Hebrew word for singing is שיר ‘shir’ which links back to the cords of a stringed instrument.  Here then in this family of Hebrew words is seen the custom of family members traveling to meet one another during the winter season, a time of joy and singing.  On a deeper level, is the word שגר ‘shagar’ which is also in this family of words going back to the two letter root שר ‘shar.’  שגר ‘shagar’ means to give birth, further connecting the family concept.

The English word ‘gift’ comes from the Old Norse word ‘gift/gipt’ meaning gift or good luck and is linked to the Germanic word ‘mitgift’ meaning dowry.  In the shadow pictures of the winter solstice, it is seen that betrothal is linked to to the winter and is associated with the crucifixion of Messiah which is the gift of the Father to mankind of redemption.

The Old English word ‘gift’ also meant bride price or marriage gift.  Isaac Mozeson traces the English word ‘gift’ back to the Indo European root ‘ghabh’ which means to give or receive and the Anglo-Saxon word ‘gifan.’  These words trace all the way back to the Hebrew word הב ‘hav’ which means love, as in the love of the Father revealed in giving His Son as a propitiation for our sins (John 3:16).

Joh 3:16  For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

It is through this gift that all the families of the earth are gathered together (John 3:14; 12:32; Ephesians 2:8-19).

Joh 3:14  And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up:

Joh 3:15  That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life.

Joh 12:32  And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me.

Eph 2:8  For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:

Eph 2:9  Not of works, lest any man should boast.

Eph 2:10  For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.

Eph 2:11  Wherefore remember, that ye being in time past Gentiles in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called the Circumcision in the flesh made by hands;

Eph 2:12  That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world:

Eph 2:13  But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ.

Eph 2:14  For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us;

Eph 2:15  Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace;

Eph 2:16  And that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby:

Eph 2:17  And came and preached peace to you which were afar off, and to them that were nigh.

Eph 2:18  For through him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father.

Eph 2:19  Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God;

Recall that the Christmas tree portrays the tree of which Messiah gave His life to gather mankind back to the Father.  The gathering of families to Christmas trees where gifts are located is a shadow picture of this event.

It is interesting to note that Handel’s “Hallelujah Chorus” is traditionally sung during this time of year.  Recall that הלל ‘halal’ means to shine, to celebrate, to give thanks to another.  The word Hallelujah is associated with unity and the love of God.

Yet another word which links travelers and gift giving is שלח ‘shalach’ which means to send, as in a gift, שילוח ‘shiluach,’ by the hand of a messenger/apostle שוליח ‘sholiach.’  Jesus was the ‘Sent One’ or ‘Apostle’ of the Father (Hebrews 3:1; John 6:29; 7:29; 8:42; 17:3, 18-21) who came with the gift of salvation.

Heb 3:1  Wherefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our profession, Christ Jesus;

Joh 6:29  Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent.

Joh 7:29  But I know him: for I am from him, and he hath sent me.

Joh 8:42  Jesus said unto them, If God were your Father, ye would love me: for I proceeded forth and came from God; neither came I of myself, but he sent me.

Joh 17:3  And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.

Joh 17:18  As thou hast sent me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world.

Joh 17:19  And for their sakes I sanctify myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth.

Joh 17:20  Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word;

Joh 17:21  That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.

Jesus would then send His Apostles with the Gospel message of this gift of salvation to the world.  In Hebrew, the word for gospel is בסורה ‘besorah’ which has the meaning of a feast which is prepared when good news is brought.  The ‘food’ that the Apostles were to take to the world is the message that Jesus is the bread of life, whose flesh brings life (John 4:32-34; 6:51).

Joh 4:32  But he said unto them, I have meat to eat that ye know not of.

Joh 4:33  Therefore said the disciples one to another, Hath any man brought him ought to eat?

Joh 4:34  Jesus saith unto them, My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work.

Joh 6:51  I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.

Interestingly, the etymology of the word Christmas traces back to the Latin word ‘massa’ which is speaking of bread and the Latin word ‘missa’ which means to ‘send abroad.’ A ‘missionary’ is one who is sent forth and comes from this word.

The Winter Holidays & the Tabernacle/Temple

solomons temple

Continuing with this concept of the message of the bread of life is the connection between the winter holidays and the Temple.

To begin, the etymology of the word ‘decorations,’ which is a strong focus of both Christmas and Hanukkah, links back to the Temple.

To decorate something comes the Hebrew word עדה ‘edah’ which is translated as ‘ornaments’ in Exodus 33:5.

עדה ‘edah’ comes from the root עד ‘ed’ which means a witness as ‘ornaments’ were used to witness to the rank of an individual.  עדה ‘edah’ is also the word used for the Tabernacle of Witness (Numbers 17:7-8).

 

Literally, עד ‘ed’ means to ‘see the door.’  Who is the door?  Messiah (John 10:9).

Joh 10:9  I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.

עד ‘ed’ is the root of the word מועד ‘moed’ which means feast or holiday which is witness to the God you serve.

Going further is the word ‘bauble’ which is a small decoration used during the winter holidays.  This word traces back to the Hebrew word בבה ‘babah’ which means the pupil of the eye.  The pupil of the eye is associated with a close relationship with another, as in being the ‘apple of God’s Eye’ or the ‘little guy in His Eye.’

The articles in the Tabernacle/Temple are portrayed in shadow picture form in the customs of the winter solstice.  As mentioned before, this time of year is when people seek to escape the cold and darkness by congregating at a tent/home.

When a priest would enter God’s tabernacle, he would enter a tent without natural light, the menorah would be the only source of light.  This is pictured in the Hanukkiah as well as the Christmas tree as mentioned before.  The temple itself was made of evergreen trees (1Kings 5:5-6; Zechariah 11:1) and the smell therein is linked to the smell of evergreens (Psalm 92:12-13; Hosea 14:6; Song of Songs 4:11; Psalm 45:8), frankincense and myrrh (Song of Songs 4:6) which are used traditionally during Christmas.

1Ki 5:5  And, behold, I purpose to build an house unto the name of the LORD my God, as the LORD spake unto David my father, saying, Thy son, whom I will set upon thy throne in thy room, he shall build an house unto my name.

1Ki 5:6  Now therefore command thou that they hew me cedar trees out of Lebanon; and my servants shall be with thy servants: and unto thee will I give hire for thy servants according to all that thou shalt appoint: for thou knowest that there is not among us any that can skill to hew timber like unto the Sidonians.

Zec 11:1  Open thy doors, O Lebanon, that the fire may devour thy cedars.

Psa 92:12  The righteous shall flourish like the palm tree: he shall grow like a cedar in Lebanon.

Psa 92:13  Those that be planted in the house of the LORD shall flourish in the courts of our God.

Hos 14:6  His branches shall spread, and his beauty shall be as the olive tree, and his smell as Lebanon.

Son 4:11  Thy lips, O my spouse, drop as the honeycomb: honey and milk are under thy tongue; and the smell of thy garments is like the smell of Lebanon.

Psa 45:8  All thy garments smell of myrrh, and aloes, and cassia, out of the ivory palaces, whereby they have made thee glad.

Son 4:6  Until the day break, and the shadows flee away, I will get me to the mountain of myrrh, and to the hill of frankincense.

The priest wore bells round about the hem of his garment so when he walked in the tabernacle ‘sleigh bells’ would have been heard (Exodus 28:34; 39:26).

Exo 28:33  And beneath upon the hem of it thou shalt make pomegranates of blue, and of purple, and of scarlet, round about the hem thereof; and bells of gold between them round about:

Exo 28:34  A golden bell and a pomegranate, a golden bell and a pomegranate, upon the hem of the robe round about.

Exo 28:35  And it shall be upon Aaron to minister: and his sound shall be heard when he goeth in unto the holy place before the LORD, and when he cometh out, that he die not.

Exo 39:22  And he made the robe of the ephod of woven work, all of blue.

Exo 39:23  And there was an hole in the midst of the robe, as the hole of an habergeon, with a band round about the hole, that it should not rend.

Exo 39:24  And they made upon the hems of the robe pomegranates of blue, and purple, and scarlet, and twined linen.

Exo 39:25  And they made bells of pure gold, and put the bells between the pomegranates upon the hem of the robe, round about between the pomegranates;

Exo 39:26  A bell and a pomegranate, a bell and a pomegranate, round about the hem of the robe to minister in; as the LORD commanded Moses.

The smell of an open fire would have been continuous at the tabernacle/temple (Leviticus 6:12) which is also linked to the open fires of Christmas.

Lev 6:12  And the fire upon the altar shall be burning in it; it shall not be put out: and the priest shall burn wood on it every morning, and lay the burnt offering in order upon it; and he shall burn thereon the fat of the peace offerings.

Opposite the menorah was the table of shewbread.  As mentioned previously, the etymology of Christmas is linked to the twelve loaves of bread which sat upon this table.  Is it any surprise that “holydays of Christmas” last twelve days?

 

wreath house

In the Bible, wreath and bulb imagery was on pillars at the Temple.
2Ch 3:15  Also he made before the house two pillars of thirty and five cubits high, and the chapiter that was on the top of each of them was five cubits.
2Ch 3:16  And he made chains, as in the oracle, and put them on the heads of the pillars; and made an hundred pomegranates, and put them on the chains {שׁרשׁרה ‘sharsherâh’}

H8333
שׁרשׁרה
sharsherâh
shar-sher-aw’
From H8327 (compare H8331); a chain; (architecturally) probably a garland: – chain..

Like the Christmas tree, wreaths are connected to the tree of life.

Pro 3:18  She is a tree of life to them that lay hold upon her: and happy is every one that retaineth her.
Pro 3:19  The LORD by wisdom hath founded the earth; by understanding hath he established the heavens.
Pro 3:20  By his knowledge the depths are broken up, and the clouds drop down the dew.
Pro 3:21  My son, let not them depart from thine eyes: keep sound wisdom and discretion:

Pro 3:22  So shall they be life unto thy soul, and grace to thy neck.

Proverbs 3:22 corresponds to Proverbs 1:9 & 4:9 which speaks of an ornament (wreath לויה ‘livyah’) of grace.

Pro 1:9  For they shall be an ornament {לויה ‘livyah’ – wreath} of grace unto thy head, and chains about thy neck.

Pro 4:8  Exalt her, and she shall promote thee: she shall bring thee to honour, when thou dost embrace her.
Pro 4:9  She shall give to thine head an ornament {לויה ‘livyah’ – wreath} of grace: a crown of glory shall she deliver to thee.

Wreaths (לויה ‘levyah’) were also designed into the bases of brazen lavers in Solomon’s temple (1 Kings 7:29-30, 36).

 

nativity

The word for a Christmas nativity display is ‘creche’ from the Old French word ‘cresche’ meaning a crib.  This word traces back to the Hebrew word ערש ‘eres’ which means a crib or bed.  In Numbers 15:20 it is speaking of a kneading trough which is interesting as Bethlehem, which means house of bread in Hebrew, is where Messiah, the Bread from Heaven (John 6) was born.  עריסה ‘ariysah,’ which is a cognate of ערש ‘eres,’ means dough (Numbers 15:20-21) and is linked to firstfruits (Ezekiel 44:30).

Rom 8:29  because whom He foreknew, He also predestinated to be conformed to the image of His Son, for Him to be the First-born among many brothers.

1Co 15:20  But now Christ has been raised from the dead; He became the firstfruit of those having fallen asleep.

1Co 15:23  But each in his own order: Christ, the firstfruit; afterward those of Christ at His coming.

Rom 11:16  Now if the firstfruit is holy, so also the lump. And if the root is holy, so also the branches.

Notice the connection between the firstfruits, the lump (bread-dough) and the Olive of Israel (tree).

The English word ‘manger’ comes from the Old French word ‘mangeure’ which means ‘to eat,’ linking to Numbers 15:20 (kneading trough).

As seen in the Shadows of Messiah Tidbit study, the Gospel being taken to the world by Apostles is likened unto taking the bread of life to the world.   Interestingly, the etymology of the word Christmas traces back to the Latin word ‘massa’ which is speaking of bread and the Latin word ‘missa’ which means to ‘send abroad.’ A missionary is one who is sent forth and comes from this word.

The word apostle comes from the Hebrew word שליח ‘sholiach’ which means the sent one.   שלח  ‘shalach’ also means to send as in a gift שילוח ‘shiluach’ by the hand of a messenger/apostle שוליח ‘sholiach.’  Jesus was the ‘Sent One’ or ‘Apostle’ of the Father (Hebrews 3:1; John 5:28; 6:29; 7:29; 8:42; 17:3, 18-21) who came with the gift of salvation.  Jesus would then send His Apostles with the message of this gift of salvation to the world.  In Hebrew the word for gospel is בסורה ‘besorah’ which has the meaning of a feast which is prepared when good news is brought.  The ‘food’ that the Apostles were to take to the world is the message that Jesus is the bread of life, whose flesh brings life (John 4:32-34; 6:51).

Who is THE Sent one/Apostle?  Messiah (Hebrews 3:1; John 5:38; 6:29; 7:29; 8:42; 17:3, 18-21).

Eph 4:7  But to each one of us was given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ.

Eph 4:8  Because of this, He says, “Having gone up on high, He led captivity captive,” and gave “gifts to men.” Psa. 68:18

The concept of the apostles bringing the gift of the message of the Gospel/Bread of Life is further seen in the word תנה ‘tanah’ which is translated as ‘rehearse’ in the English (Judges 5:10-11).

Joh 3:34  For the One whom God sent speaks the Words of God, for God does not give the Spirit by measure.

The link between gifts and eating is further seen in the Hebrew word ברה ‘barah’ which also traces back to the word for ‘my Son’ mentioned earlier: בר ‘bar.’  A related word is ברות ‘berot’ which means meat and ברית ‘briyt’ which means covenant.

Joh 6:48  I am the Bread of life.

Joh 6:49  Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness and died.

Joh 6:50  This is the Bread coming down out of Heaven, that anyone may eat of it and not die.

Joh 6:51  I am the Living Bread that came down from Heaven. If anyone eats of this Bread, he will live forever. And indeed the bread which I will give is My flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.

Isa 42:6  I the LORD have called thee in righteousness, and will hold thine hand, and will keep thee, and give thee for a covenant of the people, for a light of the Gentiles;

Isa 49:8  Thus saith the LORD, In an acceptable time have I heard thee, and in a day of salvation have I helped thee: and I will preserve thee, and give thee for a covenant of the people, to establish the earth, to cause to inherit the desolate heritages;

Another word for give is הב ‘hav’ which is linked to the sacrifice of Messiah on the cross.

Joh 3:16  For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that everyone believing into Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

Joh 15:13  Greater love than this has no one, that anyone should lay down his soul for his friends.

from the root:

The pictograph meaning of love:

The first and last letters spell out the word for Father (אב ‘ab’) and the middle letter is a picture of a man with outstretched arms.  The Love of the Father is revealed through the Messiah on the tree, gathering all mankind back to their Creator.

Further linking Messiah as the gift from the Father to mankind is the word נסאת ‘nasat’ which means a gift from the root נס which literally means a banner lifted up.  Who is the Banner?  Messiah.(John 3:14; 12:32; Isaiah 11:10-12)

Interestingly, giving is linked with trees.  The Hebrew word for giving counsel is יעץ ‘ya’ats.’

The English word ‘gift’ comes from the Old Norse word ‘gift/gipt’ meaning gift or good luck and is linked to the Germanic word ‘mitgift’ meaning dowry.  In the tidbit on the winter, it is seen that betrothal is linked to to the winter and is associated with the crucifixion of Messiah which is the gift of the Father to mankind of redemption.  The Old English word ‘gift’ also meant bride price or marriage gift.  Isaac Mozeson traces the English word ‘gift’ back to the Indo European root ‘ghabh’ which means to give or receive and the Anglo-Saxon word ‘gifan’ all the way back to the Hebrew word הב which was described above in reference to the love of the Father revealed in giving His Son as a propitiation for our sins.

Giving gifts to children is said to be done because the Magi gave gifts to the baby Jesus when they arrived in Bethlehem.  This does have some connection.

In Matthew 25:31-46 Messiah states that when we give to the ‘least’ of our brethren, we are giving it to Him.  The Greek word for least is ἐλάχιστος ‘elachistos’ which can also be translated as small children.  The Hebrew word קטן ‘qatan’ means the least, small one, or child (Genesis 44:12, 20).

 

pagan-christianity

Hebrew Roots of Christian Holidays part 1

Hebrew Roots of Christian Holidays part 2

Hebrew Roots of Christian Holidays – Examine Yourself

Hebrew Roots of Christian Holidays – Pagan Christianity?

Hebrew Roots of Christian Holidays – Alexander Hislop

Hebrew Roots of Christian Holidays – Ralph Woodrow

Hebrew Roots of Christian Holidays – Pagan Parallels

Hebrew Roots of Christian Holidays – Church Fathers & Paganism

Hebrew Roots of Christian Holidays – Constantine

Hebrew Roots of Christian Holidays – Origins of Christian Holidays

Hebrew Roots of Christian Holidays – Easter & Paganism?

Hebrew Roots of Christian Holidays – Easter Eggs

Hebrew Roots of Christian Holidays – Easter Lily

Hebrew Roots of Christian Holidays – Easter Bunny

Hebrew Roots of Christian Holidays – Resurrection Celebration

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Blessing2

 

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