Updated: Dec 14, 2020
For the weapons of our warfare are not fleshly but powerful through God for the tearing down of strongholds. We are tearing down false arguments and every high-minded thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God. We are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Messiah—ready to punish all disobedience, whenever your obedience is complete. ••• 2 Corinthians 10:4-6 (TLV) •••
Let me ask you a few questions that I want you to ponder as you read this message:
• If it could be proven to at least a reasonable conclusion that Christmas is pagan Satan worship or that God saw it as evil in His eyes, would it matter to you at all? • If there was even the slightest chance that when you stand before God at The Judgment, that because you celebrated Christmas you would be deemed an idolatrous pagan Satan worshiper, would you care at all? • Or do you simply want to go with the majority view of religion and figure that if everyone else in Christianity does it that must make it OK?
If you want the perfect example of what a stronghold is, you need only approach a Christian with the truth about where their Christmas celebration originates. While there are other areas where a stronghold may present itself quickly among professing Christians, such as the truths about Easter or the biblical food laws, these tend to be a little easier to overcome. Easter is much easier to approach as we have the biblical Passover season to fall back on and many are willing to open up to the food laws when approached first from their application to human health and then deeper truths revealed from that point on. While I do find that Christians who accept the food laws are more quick to accept other hard truths, Christmas is truly a phenomenon that seemingly goes beyond any other religious stronghold in Christianity today.
I know someone who is somewhat outspoken in his faith at times but would essentially be best described as a typical modern Christian in his beliefs. Among the things he has spoken against is yoga, as this is based in Hinduism. Now, I agree that yoga is not something a Believer should practice for this same reason. However, I have tried many times to present the truth about Christmas to him. When I tried to speak to him about Christmas as compared to yoga he said that we are not under the law. So I said that if we are not under the law then he has no ground to stand against yoga either, because the only basis for which yoga can be a sin is if it violates Torah. He then changed and said that ceremonial and levitical laws are done away with, but we are still not to be involved in idolatry as that is part of the moral law.
Now, I will not get into why this idea of separating Torah into so-called ceremonial, civil, and moral laws is totally unbiblical and not supported by anything in the record of Scripture. But here’s the thing: If what I am presenting is true, as it will become clear throughout this message, then Christmas is also idolatrous in nature. What it all comes down to is that if something is not in The Bible, as Christmas is not, and it is even possible that The Bible is against it—as it strongly seems The Bible is against Christmas—than I want nothing to do with it and neither should you, assuming you are truly committed to following Yeshua.
While the debates rage on about whether or not Christians intentionally “stole” an already existing pagan festival and rebranded it for their own purposes, what I want to do here is establish a timeline as to how the date of December 25th was an important date during the Roman Empire at the time of Yeshua and the Apostolic period and when it became established in Christian practice as the celebration of “the nativity” of Yeshua. In reviewing the importance of the date of December 25th in the Roman Empire long before even the birth of Yeshua, it should become clear throughout the rest of this message that, whether with true intent of a conspiracy or simply natural assimilation, the establishment of Christmas on the 25th day of the month of December clearly took place long after it’s establishment as an important date to pagans.
It should also be noted that there is no mention of a religious festival among Jews associated with the specific date of December 25th in The Bible. The only winter festival we find in The Bible celebrated among the Jewish people is Hanukkah, which is mentioned in John 10. While the celebration of Hanukkah begins on the 25th of the Hebrew month of Kislev, it should be noted that the Hebrew calendar does not align with other calendars important to this study, such as the Julian calendar and the Gregorian calendar, and Hanukkah is not the same thing as Christmas or any of the other winter solstice festivals we will be looking at in this study.
Christmas, as we will see, is assimilation with established paganism—regardless of whether this was intentional or incidental. This is exactly what The Bible speaks repeatedly against doing. Hanukkah, on the other hand, celebrates the fight against and victory over forced conformity to paganism. The two celebrations could not be more diametrically opposed and mutually exclusive to each other. For the modern Christian, Christmas represents the ignoring of biblical standards and mandates to conform with the world while Hanukkah represents “coming out from among the world and being separate” (2 Corinthians 6:17). You see, I don’t merely want to lead you out of celebrating a demonic festival being perpetrated on the masses with a “Christian mask” on it—the come out from among them part of Paul’s admonition. I also want you to be separate by celebrating what John 10:22-23 indicates even Yeshua celebrated in mid-winter (which you can read about in my articles Did Yeshua Celebrate Hanukkah? and Hanukkah: A Commanded Feast?).
Abigail Pogrebin, author of the book My Jewish Year, was among a group of Jewish people interviewed for the short documentary Hanukkah – A Festival of Delights. In this program she states: “In a way, Hanukkah is the neon sign that says ‘we are different, we are not like the vast majority of Americans who are having Christmas trees or going to mass’. You know, Christmas morning is not our morning. That means that you are saying ‘I’m different’ once a year in a very distinct and real way. And it isn’t always easy to do that when you’re in a minority.” The literal heartbeat of Christian faith is found in being different from the world, yet when it comes to things like Christmas it seems almost impossible to persuade the religious masses to actually be different.
NOTE: You may find it helpful for your own personal study beyond this message to take a piece of paper out as you read this and note the dates and events I will present and create a simple timeline chart so you can better visualize the developments I will be sharing on how December 25th became the date of the Christmas celebration.
The Julian Calendar, 45 B.C.
There are those who discuss the origins of Christmas and the historical winter solstice festivals who like going back thousands of years before the life of Messiah and what was happening in early Christian development. I do not want to do that. First of all, regarding the establishment of December 25th as “Christmas Day”, anything prior to the Roman Empire seems to be heavily circumstantial. People had mid-winter solstice festivals, and Rome prior to the life of Yeshua and all through the early development of Christianity had mid-winter solstice festivals. But apart from that it is hard to present a convincing argument that Christmas traces back to ancient Babylon, Nimrod, Tammuz, or anything/anyone else. So I will begin our study where I feel it is most appropriate, with the Julian Calendar that was revised by Julius Caesar in 45 B.C.—long before the actual birth of Messiah Yeshua.
It is clearly established in historical records and any historian who studies Rome can tell you that in 45 B.C., which is clearly a date prior to the birth of Yeshua, Julius Caesar made some reforms to the Roman Julian calendar. One of these changes established the date of December 25th to be the “official” date of the winter solstice. This date would then become the established date used for determining the celebrations of the winter Saturnalia festival and Brumalia, the real celebration of the winter solstice that concluded the Saturnalia celebration.
This is a critical point of information as it established the prominence and importance of the date December 25th not only prior to any Christian theorizing it to be the date of Messiah’s birth but prior to the event of the nativity in the first place. While this point alone does not conclude this study, as the establishment of the Christmas festival would develop much later, it does tell us who held this date as a sacred time of a celebration first. There are people today claiming that Christians came up with the idea of a Festival of the nativity on December 25th before it was an important date to Roman pagans, and that Rome, feeling threatened by the Christians, came up with their own festival on this date to lure people away from Christianity. Clearly this is an impossible argument if the ruler of the Roman Empire established December 25th as the date of the winter solstice decades before Yeshua was even born.
Shepherds Living In Distant Fields
Now there were shepherds in the same region, living out in the fields and guarding their flock at night. ••• Luke 2:8 (TLV) •••
The Bible does not specifically date the birth of Yeshua, so all we can really go on is speculation. Some time ago I put out an article titled WWJB: When Was Jesus Born? In that message I go into this matter much more deeply than I will here. But there is a point from the record in Luke’s Gospel, the most thorough description in The Bible about the nativity event, that seems to solidify that it would be a biblical impossibility for Yeshua to have been born in mid-winter—whether December 25th, January 6th (the date used in Eastern Orthodoxy), or any other winter date people may try to come up with.
The statement in Luke 2:8 is very clear that this was happening during a time period when shepherds were living in the fields with their flocks at night. According to the Babylonian Talmud: Beitzah 40a: “Pasture animals are such as are led out about [the time of] Passover and graze in [more distant] meadows, and who are led in at the time of the first rainfall (October-November)”. This tells us that these pasture animals, of which sheep would clearly be categorized, were kept out in these pasture lands day and night with shepherds living with and watching over them. As you can see, the time period stated by this historical document from around the time of Yeshua makes it clear that the practice of Jewish shepherds in that period was to do this between just before Passover through shortly after the Feast of Tabernacles.
Some people like to contend that it is a weak argument to say that shepherds would not be in the fields in the middle of winter (December 25th), as "Israel is not Alaska or Siberia". But one need only do an Internet search of winter in Jerusalem to find out that while it may not be as harsh a climate as winter in Montana they do get snow and rain in a bit colder climate. It would not be comfortable to be living in the fields with the flocks through winter. The practice in Israel was to house these animals in the winter and feed them in more local pastures closer to their homes. This allowed both the shepherds and their flocks to be inside, probably with a fire burning to keep the house warm, during these winter months.
It should also be noted that because these parts of the home would be in use for the livestock during the winter months, it would not be available for use by Joseph and Mary when they traveled to Bethlehem. It would make more sense that the nativity event took place during the time when the shepherds had their flocks living in the distant pastures and the livestock area would actually be available for them to stay in. Also, the fall months during the Feast of Sukkot would make the most sense as these areas would have been cleaned and aired out all summer, so they would be in the best condition of the year for use as a temporary shelter.
Pretty much every modern scholar today believes that Yeshua was born either in the spring around the time of Passover or during the fall around the time of the Feast of Tabernacles. Some ministers are even going as far as proposing to “know” the exact date, September 11, 3 B.C. was a popular one a few years ago. But one thing almost all students of Scripture seem to agree on is, in the words of the late Charles H. Spurgeon: If there be any day in the year, of which we may be pretty sure that it was not the day on which the Saviour was born, it is the twenty-fifth of December.
The Calendar Of Antiochus
Ήλιου γενεθλιον φως αυξει
This Greek inscription is found on the calendar of Antiochus around 200 A.D. It is listed as being on December 25th. This is an important point to the discussion, though one that needs only a little attention drawn to it.
The inscription reads: Birth of Helios, light rises. Helios is a reference to the sun. This is yet another record on the timeline establishing, once again, that worship of the winter solstice and a “birthday” associated with the sun was clearly listed as being December 25th.
You see, there are established and known errors with the Julian calendar established by Caesar in 45 B.C. The dating of the winter solstice continued to move back by about a day per decade for some time until it landed permanently on December 21st. Some would argue that this means that by the time Christians established the date of the Nativity at December 25th, the winter solstice was no longer associated with this date. But this is simply not true, and as I continue going through the timeline you will see that this date of December 25th appears to have been formally solidified into Roman law prior to any festival of the nativity on this date.
Christians Start Trying To Figure Out The Date Of The Nativity
The first Christian writer known to speculate about the date of the birth of Messiah is Clement of Alexandria. One thing I want to note before getting into the dates proposed by these late second century and early third century Christian writers is that I have read Clement’s works and at times felt the need for concern about the direction he was going with his theological views.
I could go as far as saying that there are hints of Gnosticism in Clement’s works, though this could be a hard sell to some as Clement is also said to have specifically opposed Gnostic beliefs. My point in bringing this up is to say that it is my scholarly opinion that Clement’s writings should be read with some reservation and that if he was indeed deviating from the sound doctrine of the Apostles then it leaves open the question as to whether or not it was ever in the plan of God for humanity to identify a date for the nativity to begin with and ultimately create a festival to celebrate it.
Perhaps the most looked at date in Clement’s work The Stromata comes from a line that says: “From the birth of Christ, therefore, to the death of Commodus are, in all, a hundred and ninety-four years, one month, thirteen days.” There is some controversy about this date based on what calendar Clement was using to base this statement on. If using the Roman calendar of the time, it seems to point to November 18th. However, if using the Egyptian calendar, which may be the case since in the very next line he refers to an Egyptian month, this statement would lead us to January 6th.
I must note, however, that there are a lot of uncertainties about this statement and even in the very next line a completely different date is proposed. The next thing Clement says is: “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.” This date is in the spring, perhaps more in line with Passover. Then from there he goes into a paragraph that proposes a number of other dates:
And they say that it was the fifteenth year of Tiberius Cæsar, the fifteenth day of the month Tubi; and some that it was the eleventh of the same month. And treating of His passion, with very great accuracy, some say that it took place in the sixteenth year of Tiberius, on the twenty-fifth of Phamenoth; and others the twenty-fifth of Pharmuthi and others say that on the nineteenth of Pharmuthi the Saviour suffered. Further, others say that He was born on the twenty-fourth or twenty-fifth of Pharmuthi.
So Clement was not necessarily proposing any specific date to be the correct date. It seems more likely that he was chronicling a number of dates that had been proposed by a variety of people. With that said, there are two lesser-known Christian writers from this period that need to be considered: Sextus Julius Africanus and Hippolytus of Rome.
Both men are attributed to having dated the nativity to December 25th, Julius Africanus said to be around 221 A.D. and Hippolytus of Rome anywhere between 204 and 225 A.D., probably toward the latter part of that window closer to the same time as Julius. Many refer to these two sources as validation of December 25th being established as the date of the nativity and even going so far as to say that Christians were celebrating Christmas on December 25th at this point in history. There are, however, a host of problems with this, which I will go into. But first let me share with you the only record of this between the works of both writers, from Hippolytus of Rome’s Commentary To Daniel, where some copies state the following:
For the first advent of our Lord in the flesh, when he was born in Bethlehem, was December 25th, Wednesday, while Augustus was in his forty-second year, but from Adam, five thousand and five hundred years. He suffered in the thirty-third year, March 25th, Friday, the eighteenth year of Tiberius Caesar, while Rufus and Roubellion were Consuls.
The first thing I want to note is that this, to my knowledge at the time of writing this, is the only actual record of such a statement from this time period. There are a host of sources in academia claiming that Julius Africanus also set the date at December 25th (eight days before January, according to the calendar of that time), but having searched and searched I have been unable to find an original source text or even a secondary text (someone saying he said it) from antiquity close to the time this date was allegedly proposed. Of the works of Julius Africanus, only fragments exist. So I am currently unaware of anything that reliably confirms that he too set this date of December 25th as the date of the nativity.
The next problem is that the above statement from Hippolytus is actually a bit controversial. It seems it is not included in all copies of his writing, including the official volumes of The Anti-Nicene Church Fathers. This actually has led some scholars to question the validity of the statement and speculate that it may have been added later and not actually penned by Hippolytus himself. This, of course, is extremely concerning. I am not trying to start a conspiracy theory, but we have to consider this, especially as we go further into this study.
The third and perhaps most concerning problem with this date is the means by which both men are said to have arrived at this date. Believe it or not, there are two primary factors that were used in calculating the date by these men, according to what scholars say about how they did their calculations, that really are particularly troubling.
As it goes, the date was set by a belief that March 25th was the date of Creation and then applying a principle called integral age, allegedly popular in Judaism at the time, which claims a prophet of God dies on the same calendar date that he is born. They knew that Yeshua was crucified at Passover, and so determined that Passover must have been on March 25th in the year Messiah was crucified. Interestingly, I could not find a calendar that gives a Passover date of March 25th during the reasonable window of years Messiah may have been crucified, but it does appear it may have been on March 24th in the year 30 A.D. So I guess it’s “possible” that Messiah was crucified on March 25th, if he was crucified in 30 A.D. and estimates of the date of Passover that year are off by a day.
Hey, that’s less of a reach than what it seems these guys are said to have been doing—allow me to continue.
Interestingly enough, it seems these guys also held that the year of the crucifixion was 29 A.D., where Passover appears to have been on Monday April 4th. According to the Julian calendar March 25th would have been a Friday.
I know that this segment of the study is probably a little confusing or hard to follow. It’s a lot of mixed up information. Ultimately, it serves to show that the early seeds in Christian belief that led to the establishment of the December 25th date for celebrating the nativity was built on a bed of confusion in addition to a total ignoring of biblical mandates to never assimilate the practices, customs, rites, rituals, and traditions of pagan religion into our worship of our God. Let’s continue on.
Many today who study the Feasts of Yahweh may know that the date of Creation in most Jewish communities is on Rosh Hashanah, the same day as the Feast of Shofars (Trumpets), during the Fall Feast Season (essentially the opening of the Feast of Tabernacles). However, according to the Talmud Tractate Rosh Hashanah 10b there was a debate among Rabbis as to whether the date of Creation was in the fall month of Tishrei (Rosh Hashanah) or the spring month of Nisan (which would coincide with the March 25th date).
Now let’s talk about this “integral age” theory. So far as I can tell there appears to be nothing I can find to validate that such a view was even held by the Jewish people at any point in history. It certainly is not in The Bible. All indications are that this traces back to an article written by a Professor William Tighe titled Calculating Christmas: The Story Behind December 25. In the article, Tighe proposes the following:
So in the East we have April 6th, in the West, March 25th. At this point, we have to introduce a belief that seems to have been widespread in Judaism at the time of Christ, but which, as it is nowhere taught in the Bible, has completely fallen from the awareness of Christians. The idea is that of the “integral age” of the great Jewish prophets: the idea that the prophets of Israel died on the same dates as their birth or conception.
This notion is a key factor in understanding how some early Christians came to believe that December 25th is the date of Christ’s birth. The early Christians applied this idea to Jesus, so that March 25th and April 6th were not only the supposed dates of Christ’s death, but of his conception or birth as well. There is some fleeting evidence that at least some first- and second-century Christians thought of March 25th or April 6th as the date of Christ’s birth, but rather quickly the assignment of March 25th as the date of Christ’s conception prevailed.
Now, let me say that Tighe doesn’t appear to state where he got this information from—he cites no source to support his claim that this “integral age” concept “seems to have been widespread in Judaism at the time of Christ”—and I cannot find it in any historical record. Some who have looked at his research and written commentary even suggest that he appears to have just made it up. Hippolytus does not refer to any “integral age” concept—either in the statement that some scholars even question the authenticity of or anywhere else. IF there even were such a view in Judaism at this time, it seems like it would fall under the category of “Judaic myths” that Paul warns against in Titus 1:14, and it certainly does not seem to be that widespread if I can’t find any ancient records of it. Something else of interest is that the 18th year of Tiberius spanned the last 4 months of 29 A.D. into the first 8 months of 30 A.D. So there are some more inconsistencies here.
A lot of defenders of Christmas, particularly among Messianic and Hebrew Roots teachers I have associated with, love to refer to this lone article by Professor Tighe, but it is a very sketchy work full of uncertainties. When someone says things like “that seems to have been” what they are really saying is “I don’t really know, but it sounds good and supports my theory and most people won’t call me out on it anyway”. This is a form of confirmation bias.
Tighe also speculates that the establishment of December 25th being connected to the birth of the sun “was almost certainly an attempt to create a pagan alternative to a date that was already of some significance to Roman Christians”. Of course this is ridiculous because I have already established that the date of December 25th was formally named the date of the winter solstice by Julius Caesar decades before Yeshua was even born! It was significant as a date of pagan worship first, this is a point that cannot be denied.
I know people who do not celebrate Christmas, do celebrate Hanukkah (and all the biblical Feasts and festivals), but want to insist that Christmas is not wrong—riding almost everything on the claims of Professor William Tighe. His article is filled with speculation and “maybe this, maybe that”. These people are embarrassing themselves and would do good to stop referring to this article.
As for the “integral age” theory, something else to be noted is that nobody can seem to determine if this refers to the prophet’s birth or conception. It is critical to the theory supporting a December 25th nativity that it is conception, so Yeshua would be conceived in the womb on March 25th and then born exactly nine months later on December 25th.
One final point about this claim before I move on is that Hippolytus (and Julius Africanus, if he actually did make the same claims) believed the earth was 5,500 years old at the time of the nativity. This is another statement right out of his written works: From the birth of Christ, then, we must reckon the 500 years that remain to make up the 6000, and thus the end shall be. Guess what? It’s been more than 500 years since Messiah was born. So this Hippolytus, it seems, was one of the earliest in a long list of failed attempts to predict the end of the world—which today includes such known names as Hal Lindsey, Harold Camping, and Monte Judah. One thing I will tell anyone and everyone is that you best be careful about people who predicted some apocalyptic date and failed. These people should be considered the worst of false prophets. There are plenty of good Bible teachers out there; you don’t have to follow anyone who failed to predict the end of the world. And that includes those in “Messianic” circles.
I’m not insensitive to any who may have genuinely repented, but I also think that once a person has set the date of Messiah’s return and failed there is no longer a reason to regard them as a qualified Bible teacher. If you feel differently, than we can simply agree to disagree—it’s not really that important of an issue. But the fact that Hippolytus appears to have crossed this line is certainly a reason to dismiss anything he even may have said regarding the December 25th dating of the birth of Yeshua. If he was wrong about the date of Messiah’s return, we should conclude he may have been equally wrong about the date of His birth.
One thing I want to note is that nobody appears to have been celebrating the birth of Yeshua on any date at this point in history. There is no record at all that a date was selected and established as the date of the nativity and there is no record at this point that anyone was celebrating a nativity festival around this time—especially on the date of December 25th.
If there were a celebration of the nativity in early Christianity, there is a weak but much more credible source in a fictional story titled Aggadta DeShim’on Kefa (אגדתא דשמען כיפא, The Legend Of Simon Peter), an old Jewish legend about the life of the Apostle Peter. In this record it vaguely indicates that Believers in the time of Peter would have celebrated the birth of Messiah during the Feast of Tabernacles. This story also connects the celebration of the resurrection with Passover and the ascension with Pentecost, which are still accurate to Christian practice today. Thus it seems credible to think that before there were all these attempts to date the nativity in the early third century, there may have been a celebration of the nativity at Sukkot that may have already been lost to the growing number of converts from the Gentile nations. This is a much more credible idea than the very confusing and obviously wrong claims of third-century Christian writers presented above.
Tertullian And Saturnalia
Something we need to look at is the work of another Christian writer of the same time period as Clement, Hippolytus, Julius Africanus, and others. This man is Tertullian, and his teachings seem to be much more respected by Bible scholars and Christian ministers who study early Christian development than those we have already looked at. Tertullian wrote a famous work titled On Idolatry. It is from this piece of early Christian literature I want to look at for a moment.
While there seems to be no way to know exactly when this work was written, scholars tend to date it from between 208 A.D. to 212 A.D. This would mean that what he shared in this writing likely predates the alleged dating of the nativity to December 25th by Hippolytus and Julius Africanus, had either of these men actually concluded such a date at all. Again, we have to be honest and admit that there are a lot of uncertainties about whether or not either man made such a claim or if the December 25th date was attributed to them later. We also have to rightly state that the way by which they are said to have arrived at that date seems extremely far-fetched.
Let me also state that the reason I chose to bring this up after the mention of Hippolytus and Julius Africanus is because I felt those records needed to be covered first. While I am presenting a chronological timeline of how December 25th became “Christmas Day”, the statements I will share from Tertullian aren’t so much a direct part of that timeline as they are important to the discussion in a way that I felt warrants their mention at this point in the message and not sooner.
In the Mishnah Avodah Zarah it says that according to Rabbi Meir: “These are the festivities of the idolaters: Kalenda, Saturnalia, Kratesis, the anniversary of accession to the throne and birthdays and anniversaries of deaths” (emphasis added). This document is dated between 190 A.D. and 230 A.D. According to the History Channel’s website from their article on Saturnalia:
The pagan celebration of Saturn, the Roman god of agriculture and time, began as a single day, but by the late Republic (133-31 B.C.) it had expanded to a weeklong festival beginning December 17. (On the Julian calendar, which the Romans used at the time, the winter solstice fell on December 25.)
Clearly this festival predates any festival celebrating the Nativity of Yeshua as it predates even the nativity event itself. According to Oxford University’s dictionary website Lexico, the Saturnalia festival is defined as: The ancient Roman festival of Saturn in December, which was a period of general merrymaking and was the predecessor of Christmas.
So what about Tertullian? Well, according to this Christian writer of the same time period, who appears to have been a follower of Torah to at least some extent, we are currently looking at (again, likely before any Christian writer allegedly proposed a nativity date of December 25th), we find these excerpts out of his work On Idolatry:
The Minervalia are as much Minerva's, as the Saturnalia Saturn's; Saturn's, which must necessarily be celebrated even by little slaves at the time of the Saturnalia. New-year's gifts likewise must be caught at, and the Septimontium kept; and all the presents of Midwinter and the feast of Dear Kinsmanship must be exacted; the schools must be wreathed with flowers; the flamens' wives and the ædiles sacrifice; the school is honoured on the appointed holy-days. The same thing takes place on an idol's birthday; every pomp of the devil is frequented.
But the same apostle elsewhere bids us take care to please all: "As I," he says, "please all by all means." 1 Corinthians 10:32-33 No doubt he used to please them by celebrating the Saturnalia and New-year's day! [Was it so] or was it by moderation and patience? By gravity, by kindness, by integrity? In like manner, when he is saying, "I have become all things to all, that I may gain all," 1 Corinthians 9:22 does he mean "to idolaters an idolater?" "to heathens a heathen?" "to the worldly worldly?" But albeit he does not prohibit us from having our conversation with idolaters and adulterers, and the other criminals, saying, "Otherwise you would go out from the world."
…the Saturnalia and New-year's and Midwinter's festivals and Matronalia are frequented — presents come and go — New-year's gifts — games join their noise — banquets join their din!
Tertullian was speaking against Christian participation in these Saturnalia festivals, as well as other Roman pagan celebrations, and this was quite possibly before any Christian writer had proposed a nativity date of December 25th. On top of that, his description of these festivals should seem very familiar to us today who observe people keeping the Christmas festivals. As is well-established, the Saturnalia is clearly the true predecessor to modern Christmas. And this highly respected early Christian writer emphatically said that true Believers should have no part in it, in a literary work specifically written against idolatrous practices. In other words, according to the early Christian writer Tertullian the celebration of Christmas is idolatry.
Also worth noting is the references to statements made by Paul in 1 Corinthians chapters 9 and 10. Many like to use such statements in modern religious practice to justify doing anything and everything, including worldliness and idolatry, in order to attract people to their “churches” with the idea that they can “get them saved”. I covered this in much greater detail in my article All Things… To All People? 1 Corinthians 9:19-23, but it is very clear that this very early Christian writer did not approve of the misuse of Paul’s statements to justify pagan and idolatrous practices for any reason, including those that involve evangelism.
Saturn, Cronus, And Kittim
I want to take a moment and address something else related to Saturn and the Saturnalia festival. Author, researcher, and speaker Bodie Hodge of Answers In Genesis proposes in his book The War On Christmas: Battles In Faith, Tradition and Religious Expression and an article titled Is Christmas a Pagan Holiday? what may very well be one of the most absurd “defenses” of Christmas I have heard to date.
He contends that Saturn, which is the Roman equivalent of the Greek Cronus, traces back to a biblical character named Kittim. This man, mentioned only in Genesis 10:4 as a great grandson of Noah through Japheth’s lineage, is associated with the region of Cyprus and according to Hodge the name Kittim is the origin of the name of the god Cronus.
So, what is Hodge trying to say? That any pagan god and the pagan religion associated with it gets a pass if we can trace it back to a person in the early Genesis record?
He further contends that the Hebrew word for Greece is Javan—which of course is the name of Kittim’s father and Noah’s grandson—and that many of the Greco-Roman gods trace back to this lineage. My question is: Who cares? Just because we can trace the etymology of a pagan god’s name to an early member of Noah’s family is totally irrelevant. We are still commanded not to engage in pagan religions.
The logical fallacies presented by Hodge in this weak attempt to write off the literal pagan influences of modern Christmas run deep. It doesn’t matter how many Greco-Roman gods can be traced back to people in The Bible. When it comes to Christmas we are dealing with established pagan religion that has a clear connection with the origins of a holiday sacred to Christianity and directly opposed to the commandment of God from Deuteronomy 12:29-31.
Guess what? We can trace a lot of other societies and the accompanying religions back to people in The Bible, even to the list of names in Genesis 10. Mizraim is one of Noah’s grandsons and the Hebrew name for Egypt. You remember that golden calf incident when the Hebrew people were only about a month and a half free from Egyptian bondage? Moses came down and smashed the stone tablets because they took Egyptian paganism to inspire a calf made of gold and declared a festival to Yahweh. But I guess Moses overreacted, because according to Mr. Hodge this should have been perfectly acceptable because Egypt traces back to Noah’s grandson.
What about the Canaanite religion? Canaan was a grandson of Noah, one of Mizraim’s brothers. You know that whole Molech thing that comes up all the time? I guess the Israelites should be given a pass on that. Passing their children through the fires of Molech, apparently not that big a deal after all.
How about the religion of Babylon? This, of course, originates with Nimrod, who built the cities that became the Babylonian empire in the Mesopotamian region. I guess we should just ignore everything negative in Scripture about gods like Ba’al and Marduk as well. You know, those Prophets of Israel were apparently way off every time they sealed the legacy of so many of Israel’s kings as “…did that which was evil in the eyes of God”. And while we’re at it, we might as well erect Asherah poles right next to our Christmas trees.
What’s more incredible is that even though Hodge seems to go to great lengths to justify Saturn/Cronus as being of biblical origin, allegedly, he then makes the suggestion that Charlie Brown is pagan. This is right out of his book:
What should be of greater concern to Christians is the extent to which we have adopted some of the pagan practices during Christmastime. Some have gone overboard on this, and we should be cautious of making Christmas about mythical images like Santa, Charlie Brown, Rudolph, etc., rather than the birth of Christ and why He came to save those who were lost.
On the same page is a photo of Santa Claus captioned with the statement: “Paganism flourishes today at Christmas”. If you want to know the full extent of how demonic the Santa Claus mythology is, just read my article: Meet Santa Claus. But Charlie Brown is an American pop-culture cartoon character. The fact that Charlie Brown cartoons were made about popular secular-pagan holidays like Christmas and Halloween doesn’t make Charlie Brown pagan. This just goes to show just how confused Mr. Hodge really is in seeking to validate an actual demonic Greco-Roman god while demonizing an American cartoon character. I could only hope someone would put my work in front of him.
In Numbers 21:4-9 we see a record of the Israelites, as a result of their impatience with The Father’s ways, attacked and bitten by poisonous snakes. Moses was instructed by The Father to make a bronze serpent and erect it on a pole. Anyone who looked to the bronze serpent lived. But then in 2 Kings 18 we find out that this bronze serpent had become a source of idolatrous worship, the people were burning incense to it, and Hezekiah—one of the righteous kings of Judah—broke this bronze serpent into pieces.
Let’s say that Saturn/Cronus truly is a deified version of Noah’s great grandson. Well, in the Roman world this man, who we don’t even know if he was a godly man or one who turned from Yahweh as Genesis 10 only mentions his name, was now a pagan god that people worshiped. Tertullian was right to speak out against “Christian” celebration of the Saturnalia festival the same way Hezekiah was right to destroy the bronze serpent that Moses made at God’s direction.
I am reminded of Patrick of Ireland, an early missionary to that region. Records not spoken of much today indicate that Patrick followed The Torah—keeping the true Sabbath, celebrating the biblical Feasts (at least those plainly listed in The Torah), and keeping a diet in line with the Leviticus 11 food laws. But today he is regarded as “St. Patrick”, a Roman Catholic “Saint”, where like all other Roman Catholic “Saints” he is essentially deified. So, because we know the real Patrick of Ireland may have held a pronomian view of Torah, should we celebrate a day honoring the Roman Catholic deified version of him by getting drunk on green beer? Of course not! I do not celebrate nor do I endorse “St. Patrick’s Day” as a celebration followers of Yeshua should keep, just as I do not endorse “Christian” celebration of Christmas.
If ever there was even a time when Christmas was remotely holy, that time is long lost to history. Today more than ever Christmas is a worldly, commercialized, and heavily paganized holiday celebrated by Satanists, Wiccans, and even atheists. Even Christians barely make their “Christmas” about the birth of Messiah, and if they even do display a traditional “nativity scene” it is tucked into a corner somewhere out of the way where it doesn’t take away from the otherwise worldly and pagan practices of the holiday. If it were a solidly biblical or even solidly “Christian” celebration, Satanists, Wiccans, atheists, or anyone else outside of “Christianity” would have nothing to do with it. Why should we continue to press for this being a “Christian” holiday with all of the evidence stacked against it and the fact that we do have a biblical feast, Hanukkah, around the same time that lasts for eight days instead of just one and even Yeshua celebrated it? It makes no sense at all to hold onto traditions rooted in paganism that require us to set aside the commands of God and void the Word of God (Mark 7:8-9, 13) when we have an actual biblical holiday that our Messiah endorsed and is eight times bigger.
I really just don’t understand why some people go to such great extent to justify their celebration of a secular-pagan holiday that is rooted in what is ultimately a form of Satan-worship. Why celebrate our Messiah’s birth on a day so strongly associated with other religions when we can conclude with a good amount of certainty that He was born on a day with actual biblical prophetic significance—be it Passover or The Feast of Tabernacles, pick the one you think has the best evidence (I lean toward Tabernacles). We also have a biblical winter celebration in The Bible, Hanukkah, and all indications are that Yeshua celebrated it. And if He celebrated it, based on the commandment in Deuteronomy 18:15-19 to listen to and follow “The Prophet like Moses” and 1 John 2:6 saying we MUST walk as He walked, then celebrating Hanukkah is a Torah commandment further emphasized by Apostolic authority.
I don’t often call people out by name, and when I do they are typically demonically inspired heretics. Now, I am not going to go so far as to call Mr. Hodge a heretic over this one matter, it seems he is just grossly misinformed about the whole truth regarding Christmas, or simply in denial. But his argument is so overwhelmingly filled with eisegesis and fallacies that it should be considered an embarrassment to an organization as that which he is a member of to have such teaching representing them. After all, Answers In Genesis is one of the premiere research groups into the study of biblical Creation and the Genesis record. It is sad that they have their good name tarnished with such a dark stain of bad theology. Perhaps even worse is how many people will just blindly accept what people like Bodie Hodge says because the ministry he works for is so reputable in other areas. This is a great example of why Scripture tells us to study to show ourselves approved and to examine our own lives and whether we are following the true truth.
Before going on, let me address a similar rebuttal people sometimes use. At times people will say something like: “All the days of the week we use are named for pagan gods, if you are going to speak against Christmas than why not the names of the days of the week too?” This is nothing more than a strawman argument that has no real validity at all. First of all, we don’t worship the days of the week; they are just the names of the days our society uses. While I would love if they could be changed, that is not likely to happen. We don’t have much of a choice about using these names for days, months, planets, and so on. We do have a choice on whether or not we actually celebrate an annual holiday that is rooted in and steeped with pagan religions.
In addition to this, there are Canaanite month names used in The Bible as part of the common use of the time. That’s right, The Bible seems to approve of the fact that names of days, months, and other such things common to the society of the time period are simply names of those days, months, or anything else. 1 Kings 6:37-38 and 8:2 use the Canaanite (PAGAN) month names of Ziv, Bul, and Ethanim, the latter being associated with one of the Bible Feasts being celebrated. Clearly Scripture approves of using a name given to something that we have no control over, as we are not worshiping, celebrating, or being entertained by the gods from which these names are derived by using them in such a cultural setting.
This would be no different than if someone were today named after some pagan god or something from another religion. If someone chose to name their child Zeus or Mohammad or whatever, there is nothing you can do about that—it’s their name. I have even seen where people are named things like Christmas and Easter, either as a first name or a last name. That’s their name, and we are not celebrating these pagan holidays by calling these people by their name. So it’s a totally invalid argument to say that because the names of pagan gods were used to name people or things in modern times we shouldn’t stand against Christmas. The Bible, again, seems to approve this when such a name is given to someone or something and that’s his, her, or its name, but The Bible also very plainly stands firm against actual pagan religious practices and celebrating, worshiping, or being entertained by other gods. Holidays like Christmas, Easter, and Halloween are actual pagan religious celebrations. It’s clearly different than saying “Let’s meet up on Friday” knowing that Friday is named for the pagan goddess Frigg or “Can you call me on Wednesday” knowing that Wednesday is named for the pagan god Odin.
Let me also say real quick that it is important we are not entertained by other gods either, or that we don’t have any other gods before Yahweh, which as I have addressed in the past includes trying to enter His presence while bearing the image of other gods. When you take your children to see Santa Claus you are being entertained by the Norse god Odin. When you watch a lot of these popular comic book movies you are being entertained by other gods such as Thor, Hippolyta (Wonder Woman), and Aquaman (Neptune). When you “go to church” carrying a popular brand of coffee bearing the image of the goddess Melusine you are “having other gods before Yahweh”. Most Christians today would dismiss what I am saying as ridiculous, but I would ask: Why aren’t they willing to take these things serious? After all, we are literally talking about the worship of other gods.
Birthdays In The Bible
I want to now turn our attention to another area of early Christian concern. Many today, particularly in some of the more extreme Messianic and Hebrew Roots circles, contend that it is “paganism” to celebrate a birthday. Now, as for me, I could care less. I don’t recall the last time I did anything even remotely special on my birthday (though, years ago I did used to treat myself to a favorite place for chicken wings). But I do think it might be going a little overboard to claim it is “pagan” or even “wrong” to celebrate a birthday, especially a child’s birthday.
With all that said, there is some indication that early Christian writers expressed a view that opposed the celebration of birthdays. Probably the most prominent of these views is in this statement made by Origen in his Homilies On Leviticus, 1-16:
But Scripture also declares that on himself who is born whether male or female is not “clean from filth although his life is one of day.” And that you may know that there is something great in this and such that it has not come from the thought to any of the saints; not one from all the saints is found to have celebrated a festive day or a great feast on the day of his birth. No one is found to have had joy on the day of the birth of his son or daughter. Only sinners rejoice over this kind of birthday. For indeed we find in the Old Testament Pharaoh, king of Egypt, celebrating the day of his birth with a festival, and in the New Testament, Herod. However, both of them stained the festival of his birth by shedding human blood. For the Pharaoh killed “the chief baker,” Herod, the holy prophet John “in prison.” But the saints not only do not celebrate a festival on their birthdays, but, filled with the Holy Spirit, they curse that day.
Now, there are several things that need to be considered in reading this. First of all it is commonly believed that his Homilies on Leviticus were delivered, along with all other Homilies, between the years 238 and 244 A.D. This would be after but still relatively close to the time period when people are known to have started contemplating the date of Messiah’s birth. It may very well be that his expression was out of concern for people ultimately creating a festival for the nativity, which does not appear to have been formally established on December 25th or any other date, up to this point in the historical timeline (more on that in a moment).
While it seems Origen, another of the more respected of the early Christian writers, expressed a strong opposition to all birthday celebrations, his noting of the only two birthday festivals mentioned in Scripture should not be mistaken for a biblical prohibition on celebrating a birthday. There is no biblical prohibition on celebrating a birthday. So the fact that in the third century there was apparently some opposition to Christian celebration of birthdays, there is nothing in Scripture to support an outright ban on them. Thus, the issue may remain a matter of personal choice based on one’s own convictions.
Something else to remember is that based on the writing Aggadta DeShim’on Kefa, which I have already mentioned, it is possible that earlier than the third century Believers commemorated the nativity during the Feast of Tabernacles, a practice that may have been lost early in history if it even took place at all. It is extremely speculative, but this piece of Jewish fiction accurately attributes events in the life of Messiah to Passover and Pentecost, which are still associated with these Feasts to this day. Also, most modern scholars do believe that the nativity occurred sometime around the Feast of Tabernacles, either on Rosh Hashanah or on the first day of Tabernacles itself—and then circumcised on the eighth day of Tabernacles, which is connected to rejoicing in Torah. The Feast of Tabernacles, after all, does seem to match the prophetic significance of Messiah’s birth more than any other biblical Feast or festival.
We must consider that Origen was concerned with the development of a birthday celebration for Messiah, particularly if dates strongly associated with the existing pagan festivals of Rome were part of the discussion. At the very least, we have one of the most regarded Christian writers of the time saying that a person filled with the Spirit of God curses the day he was born into this cursed world. It seems that then as now in some circles there were those who considered the day you enter this world a time of mourning and the day you leave, assuming you are right with God, a day of rejoicing. I agree with this—when it is my time to go, don’t mourn my loss. Rejoice for my victory as I will be forever in the presence of my King!
Birthday Of The Son Or The Sun?
In 274 A.D. the Roman Emperor Aurelian established a cult to Helios, the sun, declaring December 25th as Dies Natalis Solis Invicti—The Birth of the Unconquered Sun. This is a very important development that must not be overlooked. Also, remember that the date of December 25th was associated with Helios on a calendar in 200 A.D., 74 years before this event.
At this time there is still no existent record of a Christian celebration of the nativity associated with the date of December 25th. As we have seen, there was concern expressed by two of the most respected writers of the time—Tertullian and Origen—of Christians engaging in these pagan Saturnalia celebrations and the celebration of birthdays in general by Believers. These concerns may have been in response to others who were trying to calculate the date of Messiah’s birth, of which the date of December 25th, which coincides with the Saturnalia festival, may have already been a part of the debate. Or they might have simply been the opinions of these early Christian writers, but speculations aside the facts are clearly pointing to there being no definitive connection with Messiah's birth on December 25th up to this point and a whole lot of significance to Roman paganism with the date.
Around 312 A.D. the landscape of Rome and the future of Christianity would forever change. It was at this time that the emperor Constantine would convert to Christian faith, though the reality of his conversion and perhaps the motives behind it are heavily debated among scholars. Many believe that he never actually abandoned sun worship and some even propose that his conversion was a ruse done with the intent of perverting the Christian religion of the time. Such action would seem a stroke of genius from a military point of view—pervert the religion of the people in a way that gives you unquestioned control.
I cannot commit a lot of time in this message to the full scope of concerns with Constantine, but it should be noted that his Creed of Constantinople, which was written into law as a required oath for all who would become Christian under his rule, had converts renounce “all things Jewish” and proclaim that “The Day of The Sun” would be treated as the Sabbath in his “New Roman Religion” (what is today known as the Roman Catholic Church), as opposed to the biblical Sabbath on the seventh day of a biblical week—what coincides with sunset Friday to sunset Saturday on modern calendars.
It is said that Pope Julius I declared December 25th to be the official date of the “birth of Jesus”. There is some uncertainty about this, including when he made this declaration. Most seem to say “around 350 A.D.”. Christian author Lee Strobel, in his book The Case For Christmas, proposes that this happened in 385 A.D. However, this would be unlikely since Julius I died in 352. However, Strobel still notes in this that the date set by Julius I was “partly to challenge the pagan celebration of the Roman god Saturnalia, which was characterized by social disorder and morality.” Again, an error on Strobel’s part: the god was Saturn, the festival was Saturnalia. It’s hard to make your case in favor of something when you have two major and obvious errors in the same paragraph, as it calls into question the credibility of the rest of your research. However, the idea that Christians set this date to challenge an existing pagan festival does seem to fit the historical record, which ironically would be a major point in the case against Christmas.
The first known historical record to the date of a December 25th celebration of the nativity of Messiah is found on a Roman calendar dated to 354 A.D. The calendar records these words associated with the year 336 A.D.: “25 Dec.: natus Christus in Betleem Judeae”. This, of course, would translate to: December 25, Christ born in Bethlehem Judah.”
There is absolutely no known record of a celebration of the nativity of Messiah prior to this. And this is something that should weigh heavily on any sincere Believer. The historical record prior to this repeatedly associates the date of December 25th with the Saturnalia festivals and the “birthday” (or rebirth) of the sun, which are described by early Christian writers who opposed them in a way that mirrors modern Christmas celebration.
Do You Love God Or Religion?
There are people who I have heard be so bold as to say that Christmas was celebrated first and the history tells us so. They have dogmatically stated that Christmas is not “pagan”.
Whether or not Christmas is truly “pagan” may be a deeper issue than what the information in this message affords. After all, there are claims that Christians began to celebrate the birth of Messiah on the date of the Roman festival of the birth of the sun simply to avoid persecution. As the claim goes, if they had a celebration of the birth of The Son [of God] that had similarities to the Roman festival of the birth of the sun (Sol Invictus), then they would likely avoid persecution. It may be that they didn’t even really believe Yeshua was born on December 25th, but simply that they created the celebration for self-preservation. It’s a theory some have presented.
Though, I would say that this is still a violation of the commandment from Deuteronomy 12:29-31 to not appropriate pagan religion and repackage it for "Christian use". Do you recall what I mentioned early in this message, how Hanukkah was born out of a resistance to people being forced to abandon Torah and embrace the Roman pagan religion? You see, even if the theory is true that these Christians did this to avoid persecution, they were still being defiant to the commandments of God. Obedience is better than sacrifice, as the Prophet said. Obedience is also better than avoiding persecution, especially if avoiding persecution requires you to reject something from The Torah. And today, as a result, regardless of the motives, we have a totally worldly holiday full of elements of pagan religion and covered in an ever fading "Christian mask".
If such were the case, however, certainly that made it all the more easier for Constantine to convert the festival of the birth of the sun into a festival for the birth of The Son [of God]. Of course, it is also speculated that Constantine wanted to maintain sun worship in his kingdom and so paralleled many Christian institutions with existing sun worship practices—such as changing the Sabbath to the Day of the Sun and creating the festival of the nativity on the same day as the existing festival of the “rebirth” of the sun on the winter solstice.
Many contend that Christmas is, as noted above in reference to Pope Julius I, the result of contending with a popular pagan festival. Christians have been notorious for doing this. Just look at modern “Halloween alternatives” where Christians do everything done for the Halloween festival, including costumes (often even the demonic and scary-looking ones), handing out candy, carving jack-o-lanterns, and so on. What business do we have contending with the world’s demonic celebrations though? God gave us bigger and better celebrations in His Word. There are seven appointed times in Torah and then two other amazing festivals—Purim in the early spring, about a month before Passover, and Hanukkah, an eight-day celebration typically in December and often overlapping the one-day Christmas holiday.
Here is something to consider: Do you recall that golden calf incident? I mentioned it earlier. The Israelites were delivered out of bondage in Egypt, Moses went up the mountain to receive The Torah from Yahweh, and the people got impatient. So they took their gold and had Aaron, the established High Priest, mold a golden calf. At the conclusion of this they declared a feast to Yahweh. It was not one of His Feasts, it was their own man-made festival with elements of paganism mixed into it. This is in The Bible!
Now, no scholar will deny that the establishment of Christmas came from the converts of Greco-Roman pagan culture. So, once again, we have people who were delivered out of what most call a “type of Egypt”, their sinful lives. Instead of going to The Torah and seeking out The Father’s Feasts, they take something from the pagan life they were supposed to have come out of and declared a man-made festival, this time to Yeshua.
I suggest taking a moment to look at the comparison chart on the Hebrew4Christians page in an article titled Hebrew Names Of God. When you see how many different names attributed to The Father in the Hebrew Bible (“Old Testament”) are attributed to Yeshua in the Gospels and Apostolic Writings it just goes to further solidify that the establishment of Christmas by Greco-Roman Christian converts in the fourth century is exactly the same thing as Israel’s golden calf incident repeated with Yeshua. Christmas is literally Christianity’s golden calf.
There is no good reason for Christians to want to celebrate the worldly secular-pagan festivals of Christmas, Easter, Halloween, or any others except that they want to hold onto the worldliness they are supposed to be delivered out of. They are acting just like the Israelites in the early exodus period, in the wilderness being taught the Torah but complaining and murmuring about what they had in Egypt. God gives us so many wonderful things, but because it requires us to actually be DIFFERENT than the world most don’t want to abandon familiarity for all things Bible. They define "normal" by what they see the majority in their society doing instead of what God's Word says. I’ll remind you of the words of 1 John 2:15-17: “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For everything in the world—the desire of the flesh, the desire of the eyes, and the boasting of life—is not from the Father but from the world. The world is passing away along with its desire, but the one who does the will of God abides forever.”
Nowhere in The Bible are we given authorization or permission to assimilate with the world. The message of Scripture is quite the opposite: Come out from among them, and be separate. We are supposed to be drawing people to The Gospel, The Bible, the name of Yeshua lifted up, and obedience to The Father’s Torah—not to the same worldliness they already get in the world but with “Jesus” graffitied all over it. How sad that The Son of God died the cruelest death in the history of the world and Christians today can’t even live holy.
Deuteronomy 12:29-30 (TLV) says: “When Adonai your God cuts off before you the nations that you are going in to dispossess, when you have dispossessed them and settled in their land, be careful not to be trapped into imitating them after they have been destroyed before you. Do not inquire about their gods, saying, ‘How do these nations serve their gods? I will do the same.’” This is something that we absolutely must consider when evaluating the history of Christmas outlined in this message.
1 John 3:4 is the only place in The Bible where sin is clearly defined: “Everyone who keeps sinning is violating Torah — indeed, sin is violation of Torah” (CJB). Deuteronomy is part of Torah, thus violation of the commandment in Deuteronomy 12:29-30 would be sin. Is it possible that celebrating Christmas is a sin? There is certainly a case to be made, straight out of The Bible, to say that it is. And I can give plenty of other Scripture references to support the point. But this isn’t about “proof-texting”, it’s about the fact that the entire history of the whole thing says that what most believe to be a celebration of the birth of Yeshua is in reality a demonic festival where Satan is glorified by Christians doing something that meets the biblical parameters of SIN.
John 14:15 records Yeshua, our Messiah, as saying: “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.” Then in verse 21 of the same He reiterates the point in saying: “He who has My commandments and keeps them is the one who loves Me.” Then we come to these words uttered by the Apostle John:
Now we know that we have come to know Him by this—if we keep His commandments. The one who says, “I have come to know Him,” and does not keep His commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoever keeps His word, in him the love of God is truly made perfect. We know that we are in Him by this—whoever claims to abide in Him must walk just as He walked.
••• 1 John 2:3-6 (TLV) •••
Those are powerful statements. This is literally saying that if you do not keep the commandments (Torah) you are a liar and the truth is not in you. This goes beyond “If you love Me…” This is outright calling Torah-rejecting people, regardless of whether or not they think they are saved, wretched and wicked liars who do not possess truth. Can you imagine such words being said of a Christian who celebrates Christmas? And yet that appears to be the conclusion of the matter.
Could we dare say that people who celebrate Christmas are not even saved? Maybe that’s going too far, as most are celebrating in total ignorance of these points—in the words of our Messiah: “Forgive them, Father, for they know not what they do.” But if you have taken the time to read this message, you have to seriously consider the facts.
This is a hard thing for most to accept. A lot of the most sincere and committed Christians I know would totally shut out a message like this because they honestly believe it’s a vile attack on biblical faith to challenge the celebration of Christmas as evil, pagan, and even outright Satanic. The problem, of course, is that Christmas is found nowhere in The Bible and the timeline clearly indicates that it is a pagan holiday repackaged and rebranded with a “Christian mask” over it. Here we are in the year 2020 where everyone is tired of wearing facemasks to prevent the spread of disease. Well, take the mask off of Christmas—when you do, all that is left is the pagan origins and the pagan rites, rituals, and traditions of what can only be labeled a secular-pagan holiday. When you remove the “Christian mask” from Christmas, when you place His birth where it belongs on the prophetic timeline, you are literally exposing it as something that violates the commandment of God.
James 4:4 says: “You adulteresses! Don’t you know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.” If something is not biblical, it is at the very least worldly. I think that the history clearly shows that Christmas is more than just a worldly holiday. It appears that this celebration is clearly rooted in the Roman Saturnalia festival—a celebration that at least some early Christian writers specifically stood in opposition to.
Take a moment to think about that word adulteresses used here by the Apostle. I think I have pretty well established two points in this message (and my past article WWJB: When Was Jesus Born?): 1. That Yeshua certainly was not born anywhere remotely close to December 25th or any other day in the middle of winter, and 2. That December 25th was associated with the Roman Saturnalia festival and other pagan worship long before it was adopted by Christians, for whatever reasons, as a day to celebrate Yeshua’s birth.
Suppose a man were to approach his wife and say, “Now, you know I love you, but I just decided that I want to celebrate your birthday on…” and then proceeds to offer up a date that is not his wife’s birthday, but the birthday of another woman—perhaps an ex-girlfriend from his past or (and I hope not) his current actual mistress. Do you think this would be OK with the man’s wife? Of course not! So why would we think it’s OK with The Father and Yeshua our Messiah to say, “You know ‘Jesus’, despite that all signs indicate you were born either at Tabernacles or if not then maybe Passover, and despite that December 25th was well established as a prominent date of pagan worship in Roman religion long before you were born, we think that’s the date we want to celebrate your birth anyway”? He does not approve of this, he considers it a form of adultery.
A lot of people feel uncomfortable when a message like this turns toward suggesting that people would go to hell for celebrating Christmas or any other thing that the overwhelming majority of modern Christians see nothing wrong with—such as celebrating Easter, eating pork, not keeping The Sabbath, getting tattoos, or any number of things that violate the commandments of God. But if we are going to be completely honest, Scripture very plainly tells us that the soul that sins, it shall die (Ezekiel 18:20). Since 1 John 3:4 defines sin as the transgressing, violating, breaking of Yahweh’s Torah, then we can say: The soul that transgresses, violates, breaks Torah, it shall die.
We can also look at Zephaniah 1:8, where it reads out of the New Living Translation: “’On that day of judgment,’ says the Lord, ‘I will punish the leaders and princes of Judah and all those following pagan customs.’” Many other translations use foreign apparel or foreign attire where the NLT uses pagan customs, and I can’t help but think of everything from Halloween costumes to those ugly Christmas sweaters so common to these holidays born out of other religions. But the fact remains; here we have a passage that speaks prophetically of The Day of Judgment, saying that those who engage in pagan customs and even wear clothing associated with pagan traditions will be punished, by The Father. Some might think this is going too far, using poor interpretation of Scripture. It’s real simple, you know. Either you can think up all the excuses you want about these matters or you can say to yourself: “You know, maybe this dude is right. After all, if there is even the slightest chance that God will punish me for celebrating these unbiblical holidays, perhaps I should take this seriously and celebrate the Holy Days that are in The Bible instead of these other things that are not.”
Christians would do good to take their faith serious. It must be a most horrible thing for God to look at people who faithfully went to church, read their Bible, prayed, and did many “good Christian deeds” and still have to utter the words: “Depart from Me, worker of TORAHLESSNESS, I never knew you.” The reality of the matter is that when Yeshua warned about this He preceded it by describing not what we would consider vile and wretched sinners, but those who cast out devils in His name, worked miracles in His name, prophesied in His name, and so on. The description of those who will be told to depart from Him refers to the most committed of modern-day Christians. Really, about the only group of people I know of who do those things in His name today are Pentecostal Christians. Think about that, especially if you are a Christian with Pentecostal beliefs. So many are outwardly sold out to Christian religion, but they do not follow The Father’s Torah and as a result they will be cast out.
Don’t play games with God. The Bible is the easiest book in the world to follow. It tells you exactly what to do and what not to do. It’s so simple. Yet for many, because they are drawn to religion and not The Bible, it becomes difficult. Religion makes things difficult because it needs you to believe you need it. You don’t need religion. You need The Bible, Messiah Yeshua, and The Holy Spirit. As crazy as it may seem, most people today would probably have a better chance of being truly saved if they never went to a Christian church but still used The Bible as their guide.
We must face the reality that Christmas is a Satanic festival from another religion. Think about it. If you were Satan, the deceiver of all humanity, wouldn’t it seem a good idea to take one of your festivals, deceive some folks to turning it into a “Christian holiday” and then make it the most popular celebration in the modern world? The overwhelming majority of Christians today can’t even comprehend not celebrating Christmas. They truly believe, against all the evidence and against all odds, that this is “the celebration of the birthday of ‘Jesus’”. Many of them even know that it’s not when He was born, but then they make their excuse: It’s just the time we celebrate it. You can present facts like I have in this message to some people and they will just dismiss it with a statement like: That’s not what it means to me or I don't find your arguments convincing enough. The Bible just not afford you the right to assign your own meaning to something taken from another religion, it commands against it. The Bible speaks very plainly against people doing whatever is right in their own eyes.
The truth of the matter is that this is another example of people eating from the wrong tree. This is the result of people listening to that hissing serpent asking: Hath God said? He asks His question: Did God really say not to take religious practices from the pagan nations and turn them into ways to worship Him? And the majority of Christians will twist and manipulate even Scripture to say that they have “redeemed” the holiday, what it means to them today is not whatever it meant in the past, they are celebrating “Jesus” and not some pagan festival. According to The Bible, if you are a follower of Yeshua then YOU ARE NOT ALLOWED TO DO THAT. When you do that, you are not submitted to Yeshua, you are submitted to the serpent—and Revelation 12:9 tells us the serpent from Eden who leads us to question the commandment of God is no other than Satan himself. In other words, it would seem from this study that those who celebrate Christmas are not submitted to God, but rather are submitted to Satan.
I think we should really ask a serious question: What if God hates Christmas? What if, just as with those ancient kings of Israel who built altars to Baal, molded golden calves, burned incense in high places, raised Asherah poles, and many other idolatrous things, "Christian" celebration of Christmas is viewed as evil in the eyes of God?
You may think that’s absurd, but look back at the history I have shared with you. And this is just the brief period of how December 25th became the date associated with the nativity. It doesn’t even get into the later influences of the Nordic Yule festivals that made their way into the Christmas holiday as Christianity made its way throughout the European regions. To this day the Yule traditions are sacred to witches and the Wiccan faith that is rooted in the pagan faiths of pre-Christian Europe. Nor has this message touched on Santa Claus, which is the Norse god Odin evolved over the years to the modern expression found seated in shopping malls and blaspheming “churches” across the land. The practice of seating your child on “Santa’s lap” has parallels to the ancient Israelites offering their children on the lap of Molech that you can read about in The Bible. But does anyone in “Christianity” even care about that?
Do you know what God loves? He loves the Feasts and festivals that He instituted in The Bible.
Maybe it’s a stretch to suggest God hates Christmas. But is it really? It’s a holiday clearly rooted in other religions, the very thing He told us to stay away from.
Christmas is definitely not instituted by Scripture, which means that the choice to continue celebrating it is a gamble between God either hating it and considering it gross idolatry or being indifferent toward it. Because it’s not something given in The Bible as a commandment or even just endorsed by Scripture—as the festivals of Purim and Hanukkah are, though since Yeshua celebrated them and we are commanded to do what He did even these are commanded feasts—there is no penalty for not keeping it. What this means is that you can choose not to celebrate Christmas, and keep the Feasts and festivals actually in The Bible, and have nothing to worry about. Or you can continue celebrating Christmas, whether or not you celebrate the biblical Feasts and festivals, and take the chance. Just remember, the worst-case scenario for any and every act of defiance to God’s Torah is eternity in hell. Like it or not, that is a reality you would do good to consider. Is it worth it?
Let me close on a positive note. My stance is and always will be that there is not a wrong time to talk about or celebrate any aspect of the life of our Messiah recorded in the Gospel records of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. We don’t have to go into hiding just because it’s December 25th. If that’s the only day someone is willing to hear the truth or talk about The Bible, then that’s the day I will discuss it with them. But, should such a meeting occur, you best believe that discussion will bring up points like those made in this message. Perhaps nothing could honor our Messiah more than telling someone the truth and getting them saved and delivered from the stronghold of Christmas ON Christmas Day. Though, I’d much rather get them there before they put in all the work to decorate for it. But I suppose if the decorations are up, getting them set free would mean it can be followed with an idol-smashing party, destroying the decorated trees, the wreaths, and all things “Christmas” and if they actually do have a “nativity display” (as many Christians don’t even incorporate that into their Christmas anymore) setting it aside for decorating in their Feast of Tabernacles celebration!
~Blessings and Shalom~
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