Copyright 1994 - 2020 Bill's Bible Basics
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Published On :
December 28, 2019
Last Updated :
December 28, 2019
Introduction, My Position On Christmas, Emperor Constantine And Roman Catholic Church, Saturnalia And RCC Compromise, Winter Solstice, Rebirth Of The Sun To The Birth Of The Son, Proof: The Shepherds In The Field, The Harsh Israeli Winter, Jesus Was Not Born On December 25, Trapped By The Traditions Of Men, Nullifying God's Word, Scriptural Warnings Regarding Worldliness, Santa Claus The Usurper, Joy Over Jesus' Birth Or Joy Over Receiving Presents?, Young Children Corrupted By Materialism, Most Lucrative Commercial Holiday Of The Year, Buying Gifts: Political Correctness And Peer Pressure, But Everyone Celebrates Christmas!, Profit Margin Is The Reason For The Season, Are People More Receptive To The Christian Gospel During Christmas Time?, Old Saint Nicholas Of Myra, Neither Shepherds Nor Three Magi Instituted Annual Christmas Celebration, God's Provision For Joseph And Mary In Egypt, Gift-Giving Was A Practice Of The Powerful Elite, Puritan's Journey To America, Anglicanism And Roman Catholicism, The Puritan's Refusal To Celebrate Christmas In America, First Apostles And Disciples Emphasized Jesus Christ's Death And Resurrection, Our Blessed Hope And The Earnest Of The Spirit
Late last night as I lay in bed with a bad headache and a bad toothache, my mind turned to thinking about some of the topics we have been discussing lately on Facebook during this Christmas season; one of them, of course, being whether or not Christians should even celebrate Christmas. As some of you will know, this is a hotly debated subject, and some Christians -- myself included -- are quick to take one side or the other regarding this matter. Concerning my position, as I point out in some of my Christmas-related graphics, as well as in the article entitled "Happy Hanukkah and Merry Christmas?", personally, I do not celebrate Christmas for a variety of reasons, which I will briefly summarize in the following paragraphs.
In the aforementioned article, I discuss some of the events surrounding the reign of Emperor Constantine I -- also known as Constantine the Great -- which had a direct effect on our Christian faith, and which sowed the seeds for the eventual rise of the powerful Roman Catholic Church. As I point out there, one manner in which the nascent Roman Catholic Church exerted influence over the masses, and attracted the heathen to its doors was by so-called "Christianizing" certain pagan beliefs and customs. In short, it compromised with the pagan world around it by mixing Christian beliefs with pagan ones.
In particular, one very popular Roman festival was known as Saturnalia. As you can probably discern by its name, this festival received its name from the Roman god of agriculture and harvest. That is, Saturn. While this festival was in progress, the roles of master and slave were reversed, moral restrictions were loosened to some degree, and the rules of etiquette were also ignored. No doubt drunkenness, revelry and sexual immorality were quite rampant during this period. Initially, Saturnalia was a one-day festival which occurred on December 17th. However, eventually, it was extended so that it lasted for a full week. That is, from December 17th to December 23rd.
What this means is that the festival of Saturnalia eventually came to engulf the Winter Solstice which occurred on either December 21st or on December 22nd. For those of you who may not be familiar with the term, Wikipedia offers the following explanation:
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"The winter solstice . . . occurs when one of the Earth's poles has its maximum tilt away from the Sun. It happens twice yearly, once in each hemisphere (Northern and Southern). For that hemisphere, the winter solstice is the day with the shortest period of daylight and longest night of the year, when the Sun is at its lowest daily maximum elevation in the sky At the pole, there is continuous darkness or twilight around the winter solstice. Its opposite is the summer solstice.
The winter solstice occurs during the hemisphere's winter. In the Northern Hemisphere, this is the December solstice (usually 21 or 22 December) and in the Southern Hemisphere, this is the June solstice (usually 20 or 21 June). Although the winter solstice itself lasts only a moment, the term sometimes refers to the day on which it occurs. Other names are "midwinter", the "extreme of winter" (Dongzhi), or the "shortest day". Traditionally, in many temperate regions, the winter solstice is seen as the middle of winter, but today in some countries and calendars, it is seen as the beginning of winter. In meteorology, winter is reckoned as beginning about three weeks before the winter solstice.
Since prehistory, the winter solstice has been seen as a significant time of year in many cultures, and has been marked by festivals and rituals. It marked the symbolic death and rebirth of the Sun."
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What I would like to call to your attention is the very last sentence of the previous explanation, because it is rather important to our discussion. As I mentioned a moment ago, it is a historical fact that in order to increase its size, power and influence, the early Roman Catholic Church began to so-called "Christianize" some of the beliefs and customs of the heathen people that it had begun to absorb. It is my personal belief -- and that of many other Christians as well -- that this is exactly what the RCC did with the Saturnalia festival. In other words, Saturnalia was converted into a Christian holy day and holy season.
Exactly how did the so-called "mother church" accomplish this feat? Well, just as the Winter Solstice on December 21 or 22 marks the day when the Sun resumes its northerly course, and begins to bring longer and warmer days, and the hope of new life to the frozen countries of the northern hemisphere, the Roman Catholic Church chose to give the Saturnalia festival, and the Winter Solstice, a new "Christianized" meaning, when it introduced the birth of the Son of God on December 25th, who would likewise bring hope and new life to the world. In fact, the hope of Eternal Life. In short, the rebirth of the Sun became the Birth of the Son. Do you see how sly that is? So it was a compromise between the pagan belief system and the Christian belief system.
But here's the problem: The Bible offers some strong evidence that Jesus was not even born anywhere near that time of year. In the Gospel of Luke we find the following interesting verse:
"And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night."
Luke 2:8, KJV
At first glance, many Christians don't even realize what that verse is indicating. Some aren't even aware of its existence. Stated more simply, unless I am mistaken, Jewish shepherds did not abide in the field, with their grazing flocks, in the middle of the cold, dead winter when there wasn't anything on the ground for their flocks to eat. At the very least, the weather would have been very cold and very rainy on December 25th in the land of Israel. Please also notice that the verse specifically states at night, which would have been the very coldest part of the day. So in all likelihood, the flocks and the shepherds would have been indoors at that time; at least in a cave or in a barn. To validate this point, consider the following info I extracted from the www.bethlehem-city.org website:
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Winter lasts for three months, from mid-December to mid-March, and can be severe . . . Summer temperatures reach 35º centigrade and in the winter temperature may drop to Zero . . . The rainy season starts in the second half of autumn (mid-October) and continues until the end of April. Heavy rain is, however, limited to fewer than 50 days, with around 70% of the rain falling during November to February . . . Bethlehem receives an average of seven hours of sunshine a day during the winter and thirteen hours during the summer . . . Average temperatures range from 9-18º C in winter and 26- 30º C in summer.
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While some Westerners automatically equate the Winter season with heavy snowfall, please note that due to its subtropical climate, snow is very rare in Israel, and is usually limited to the area near Mount Hermon in the northern Golan Heights. However, due to the hilly topography of the region of Judea, some of the higher elevations -- such as Jerusalem -- also receive at least one snowfall each year. Being as Bethlehem is located only five miles south of Jerusalem, I assume that it likewise receives snowfall occasionally as well. So what we see then is that Bethlehem -- the birthplace of Jesus -- experiences a cold, rainy season which lasts from the middle of December to the middle of March; during which time there is very limited sunlight, and temperatures can drop to 0º C.
I am sure that even you realize that this kind of weather is not conducive to shepherding flocks at night, outside, during the Winter season. What we are able to safely conclude then, is that Luke 2:8 must therefore be referring to some other time of year. I am familiar with two different schools of thought. One suggests that Jesus may have been born sometime in September or October; and the other posits that the Lord may have been born sometime during the Spring. Whatever the case may be, this one verse from the Gospel of Luke clearly nullifies and exposes the Roman Catholic deception of Jesus Christ being born on Christmas day, December 25th. It just is not so. Period.
While the previous paragraphs explain the primary Scriptural evidence for rejecting the claim that Jesus was born on the 25th of December, there are other reasons why I personally refuse to celebrate Christmas. Aside from the fact that to do so is to promote and perpetuate a lie regarding the time of Jesus' birth, we must also consider that the Scriptures warn us clearly to beware of becoming entrapped by the traditions of the world which nullify the truth of God's Word. One verse in particular which comes to mind is the following one which was written by the Apostle Paul:
"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."
Colossians 2:8, KJV
What I find rather interesting is the numerology of these two verses. In other words, Luke 2:8 clearly reveals that Jesus was not born on December 25th, and Colossians 2:8 warns us to beware of the traditions of men -- such as Christmas -- which nullify the truth of God's Word. The Apostle Paul was in essence paraphrasing what Jesus had likewise said to His religious persecutors -- the Scribes and the Pharisees -- in the following verses:
"Then came to Jesus scribes and Pharisees, which were of Jerusalem, saying, Why do thy disciples transgress the tradition of the elders? for they wash not their hands when they eat bread. But he answered and said unto them, Why do ye also transgress the commandment of God by your tradition? For God commanded, saying, Honour thy father and mother: and, He that curseth father or mother, let him die the death. But ye say, Whosoever shall say to his father or his mother, It is a gift, by whatsoever thou mightest be profited by me; And honour not his father or his mother, he shall be free. THUS HAVE YE MADE THE COMMANDMENT OF GOD OF NONE EFFECT BY YOUR TRADITION."
Matthew 15:1-6, KJV
So both Jesus and the Apostle Paul are making it very clear how the misguided traditions of men can nullify the truth of God's Word. Returning to Colossians 2:8 for a moment, please notice in particular three important phrases: "vain deceit", "tradition of men" and "rudiments of the world." Is that not precisely what the annual Christmas celebration is? It is a deception and a tradition of men which celebrates something which really didn't even happen on that day. As I've shared before, there are many other Scriptures in the Bible which also emphasize the importance of our remaining separate from the world as much as we possibly can. Consider closely the following group of verses which highlight this point:
"If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you."
John 15:19, KJV
"I have given them thy word; and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil."
John 17:14-15, KJV
"Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence."
John 18:36, KJV
"Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you,"
2 Corinthians 6:17, KJV
"No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier."
2 Timothy 2:4, KJV
"These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. For they that say such things declare plainly that they seek a country. And truly, if they had been mindful of that country from whence they came out, they might have had opportunity to have returned. But now they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he hath prepared for them a city."
Hebrews 11:13-16, KJV
"Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God."
James 4:4, KJV
"Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world."
1 John 2:15-16, KJV
In my opinion, when Christians observe the annual Christmas celebration, they are doing so in direct contradiction to the previous set of verses. They are acting just like the children of the world. They are not setting themselves apart from the world. They are in fact joining it, and committing spiritual adultery with it, exactly as the Apostles warned us not to do. They are compromising their faith, as well as perpetuating the Christmas lie. To add insult to injury, even if Jesus was born on December 25th -- which we know He was not -- the Lord is overshadowed every year by a jolly fat man in a red suit who supposedly flies around in a great sled drawn by flying reindeer. What a tragedy for our faith that even some Christian parents teach this nonsense to their impressionable children. So it is one lie told upon another.
Let's be honest here, shall we? The fact of the matter is that even in the strongest of Christian families, whenever the Christmas season rolls around each year, the very first thing on young children's minds -- whether they embrace our faith or not -- is "What am I going to get this year?" Yes, they may remember the birth of Jesus in the back of their young minds if their parents are faithful to teach them so, but all of that Christmas joy, eagerness and anticipation comes from "What presents await me tomorrow?". True or not? Thus we see that some Christian parents are doing exactly what the Apostle John says not to do in 1 John 2:15-16. They are teaching their children to lust after the things of the world at an early age. Those kids are getting their first taste of the "good" old vice of materialism. Can you see it now?
So there is no denying that while a small percentage of the world population may remember the birth of Jesus Christ at Christmas time -- even though He was not born then -- for the majority of people, Christmas has been reduced to being the most lucrative commercial holiday during the entire year. Not only that, but the jolly, old, fat man who seduces children to lust after things is leading the pack! It is a season clearly marked by political correctness and extreme peer pressure. After all, if you don't spend piles of money to purchase gifts for your family and friends -- even if you really can't afford to do so -- there must be something very wrong with you. You must be an old scrooge, right? Now that is the truth with a bark on it.
In their attempt to justify their compromise with the world, some weak Christians may say, "Oh, but everyone celebrates Christmas; even in non-Christian countries!" Yes, that may indeed be true. But wake up! Since when are our Christian beliefs and practices based on what the rest of the secular world believes and does? Aren't our beliefs supposed to be based on God's Word and God's Word alone? Furthermore, the fact that they are not a Christian nation says a lot. Is it that difficult for some Christians to understand that such people aren't celebrating Christmas because they actually believe in Jesus and want to remember His birth, but rather because just like many other people in the world, they have figured out that the annual Christmas season is a cash cow?
So I am sorry to inform you, but insofar as this wicked, fallen world is concerned, Jesus Christ is most definitely not the reason for the season as so many of my misguided Christian brethren erroneously claim year after year. In fact, as I have mentioned before, He was never a part of Christmas to begin with, because He was not born on December 25th. So what those misguided people are actually saying is that they are re-adding Jesus to a celebration which He was never a part of in the first place. Crazy, is it not? To reiterate, the reason for the season is the profit margin. Those merchants are probably laughing behind your backs as you go deep into debt in order to keep up appearances with your friends and family, and so you don't appear as an oddball to them. There's plenty of room in that sardine can.
Another common excuse we often hear regarding why certain Christians choose to celebrate Christmas, is because they are under the erroneous impression that people are more receptive to the Christian Gospel during Christmas time. They are a little softer in their hearts we are told. Now, obviously, I don't have any evidence to support this claim one way or the other. However, I do believe that there is a simple test which each one of us can perform in order to answer this question. That test comes in the form of two simple questions. First, how many people do you personally know who came to faith in Jesus Christ as a result of the Christmas season during the past year, or even during the past five years?
The second question is similar to the first one. Exactly how many people have you PERSONALLY led to the Lord at Christmas time during the past year, or even during the past five years? Answer those two questions, and I think you will have a clear answer regarding how effective Christmas time is as a Christian witnessing tool.
Another way in which certain Christians attempt to justify Santa Claus and the giving of gifts at Christmas time, is by pointing to a Fourth Century individual known as Nikolaos of Myra. This bishop -- who was later promoted to sainthood by the Roman Catholic Church -- was known for his piety -- a trait which is commonly attributed to many Roman Catholic saints -- as well as his habit of secretly giving gifts to the poor, and supposedly performing a number of miracles throughout his life. He later became known as Saint Nicholas -- or Saint Nick -- and it is through him that the modern legend of Santa Claus -- or Sinterklass -- is derived.
But here's the thing: Even if some of that is remotely true -- there is much doubt, because what is known of him was in fact written centuries after his death, and no contemporary chroniclers mention him in their works -- it still does not change the basic fact that the annual Christmas celebration is based on the lie that Jesus was born on December 25th. Let me also point out that I find it highly suspect that Nicholas of Myra lived at the same time as Emperor Constantine I, when the Roman Catholic Church first began taking control of the Roman Empire. If you have read any amount of ancient Roman Catholic history, you will know that it is full of a great deal of exaggeration and embellishment; particularly when it comes to the lives of their saints.
Then there are certain Christians who will also endeavor to justify celebrating Christmas each year, and the tradition of gift-giving, by pointing to the shepherds in the field, as well as to the gifts which were presented by the three Magi from the East. So let's set the record straight.
First of all, neither those shepherds, or the Magi, ever established any kind of an official, annual celebration regarding the birth of Jesus Christ. As far as the shepherds were concerned, the Scriptures seem to indicate that they just happened to be in the right place at the right time. That is, near the place where Christ was born. So it is no wonder that the Angels would suddenly appear before them rejoicing, or that the shepherds would be curious to behold this wonderful sight with their own eyes. But again, there are no recorded instructions in the Scriptures where those shepherds were told to begin an annual celebration of Jesus' birth, as many Christians do today.
The very same can be said of the three Magi from the East. While they too were very curious to behold this new King which their reading of the stars had foretold, and in fact traveled a great distance to do so, neither did the Magi establish an annual celebration regarding the birth of the King of Kings. In fact, the Scriptures make it clear that after meeting Joseph, Mary and the young boy Jesus, the Magi decided to return to their own country by another way -- instead of returning to wicked King Herod -- because they deduced Herod's very evil intentions towards Jesus, and were warned in a dream to avoid Herod, as we see by these verses:
"And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense, and myrrh. And being warned of God in a dream that they should not return to Herod, they departed into their own country another way."
Matthew 2:11-12, KJV
Just like the shepherds, the Magi came to behold this new king of the Jews, and to pay Him homage. It was only fitting that they should present gifts to this young king-to-be, as was the custom in those days. Furthermore, as I explain in the series "Birth of Jesus and the Star of Bethlehem", it is my personal belief that through their expensive gifts, they also provided His parents with the financial means to make an unanticipated and quick escape to Egypt, where they remained until the death of King Herod. For all we know, as a result of wicked Herod's orders, Joseph and Mary may have had to drop everything, and flee with only the clothes on their backs, and a few belongings. After all, Bethlehem was not far from Jerusalem.
Perhaps the gifts of the three Magi enabled them to live in Egypt in relative comfort until the time arrived for them to return to Israel. In fact, while it is just speculation on my part, maybe there was even enough money remaining so that Joseph was able to start his own carpentry business once they arrived in the northern village of Nazareth. The point is, God used those three strangers from the East to provide for His children in the most unexpected way. Furthermore, as I believe is explained in other documents on the Bill's Bible Basics website, each of those three gifts carried symbolic significance as well.
So to reiterate my main point, the shepherds in the field going to behold the baby Jesus, and rejoicing at His birth, was not the same as establishing an annual holiday in honor of His birth, which did not occur on December 25th anyway. Likewise, when the three Magi arrived about two years later to pay the young boy Jesus homage, and also to present His parents with expensive gifts, they did not establish any kind of annual holiday either. Let me also add that when it did begin, such gift-giving amongst members of the Roman Catholic Church was practiced between the wealthy and the elite. Online resources note that Saint Nicholas in fact came from a wealthy family.
To be clear then, Christmas is a human invention. It is in fact a Roman Catholic invention, just like so many other false beliefs and false practices which originated in that wayward church. It has no basis whatsoever in the Bible.
Taking this thought a step further, many of you will be familiar with the Puritans. As you may know, one of the big reasons why they chose to leave England and come to America, was so that they could practice their Christian faith as they saw fit, based on their understanding of the Scriptures. They viewed the Church of England -- or the Anglican Church as it is also known -- as a corrupt, misguided institution which had not sufficiently reformed or shed all its Roman Catholic ways. After all, to be honest, Anglicanism is just another flavor of Roman Catholicism for the most part. But what you may not know is that when the Puritans arrived in America, they absolutely refused to celebrate Christmas, because they recognized its pagan origins. In fact, as online research will clearly reveal, Christmas was outlawed by the Puritans, and was not recognized as a legal holiday in the United States until 1836 in the state of Alabama. Are you surprised to learn that Christmas in America is not as old as you thought?
Aside from all of the previous reasons, there is another Scriptural reason why I choose to not participate in the Christmas celebration. As I have shared with my readers a number of times previously, in the New Testament Scriptures, whenever Jesus, the Apostles and the Disciples preached, and whenever we read the Gospels, the Book of Acts, the Epistles and the Book of Revelation, aside from the Lord's birth being mentioned in the first chapter of the Gospels of Matthew and Luke, what we discover is that they constantly emphasized Christ's Death and Resurrection, and not His actual birth. Now ask yourself. Why did they do this?
Well, it is my personal belief that it is because Christ's Death and Resurrection is the indisputable proof that our faith is real. His Death and Resurrection is what gives each of us hope for our own future. That is to say, it gives us hope that if we should die, we too shall one day rise from the dead, shed these mortal bodies, and live for eternity in the Kingdom of God. The Apostle Paul in fact refers to the Spirit of Christ dwelling in us as a sort of down payment of faith, and as the "earnest of the Spirit", as "a treasure in earthen vessels", as our "blessed hope" and as "the hope of glory", as we see by the following group of verses:
"Whereof I am made a minister, according to the dispensation of God which is given to me for you, to fulfil the word of God; Even the mystery which hath been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to his saints: To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is CHRIST IN YOU, THE HOPE OF GLORY:"
Colossians 1:25-27, KJV
"For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; LOOKING FOR THAT BLESSED HOPE, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ;"
Titus 2:11-13, KJV
"Who hath also sealed us, and given the EARNEST OF THE SPIRIT in our hearts."
2 Corinthians 1:22, KJV
"For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed upon with our house which is from heaven: If so be that being clothed we shall not be found naked. For we that are in this tabernacle do groan, being burdened: not for that we would be unclothed, but clothed upon, that mortality might be swallowed up of life. Now he that hath wrought us for the selfsame thing is God, who also hath given unto us the EARNEST OF THE SPIRIT."
2 Corinthians 5:1-5, KJV
Please go to part two for the continuation of this series.
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