BY PASTOR MIKE TAYLOR
John 4:23 “But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him.
4:24 God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.”
Those who wish only to honor and worship our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ take the time each year to commemorate the birth of our Lord during this time known traditionally as Christmas. But to do so must be out of a pure understanding of what was accomplished on a clear Bethlehem night so long ago, now nigh 2000 years. We must honor the birth of our Savior with the knowledge of the truth of his birth. As the above verse attest, God wishes to be worshiped, but in Spirit and in truth. So I take this time each year to remind brothers and sisters in Christ, “what is the truth of the birth of our Savior?” When we learn the truth of His birth, then it is upon each of us to decide whether to follow the truth of God, or follow the traditions of men. The following is a message I wish to pass on to like minded believers in the life of the greatest human that ever lived, Jesus the Christ or Messiah.
Traditionly, it is the Christmas season, again. A time of joy about the birth of our Savior, a time of good will toward men, and family getting together to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. Many Christians view this time as a most holy time when Jesus Christ was born in a manger, as God in the flesh, and was announced to the world via shepherds tending their flocks in the fields by night. But is it the truth of His birth? Not to offend anyone who looks on this season with much anticipation of what it has traditionally held, even from the time I was a boy. Who doesn’t like pretty decorations, giving gifts to a small child, having big dinners, and family joining in festivities of the season? Somewhere in that mix, we may, I repeat…”MAY” (many don’t) take time to acknowledge that the season was designed to honor and worship the birth of our Savior. In our morally challenged nation of modern USA (and for that matter, the world) this time of year has evolved into a time of parties, revelry, debauchery, greed, and sinful displays that honor the flesh, but do NOT honor God. Those who wish to honor God, and the birth of our Savior MUST know the historial truth behind what our modern era calls “Christmas” and here it is.
THE TRUTH OF CHRISTMAS
Many centuries ago, the Roman Catholic Church in all its religious and dictatorial desire to give “honor” to the Savior, imposed a set date of December 25th as the date that Jesus was born. First, I wish to take an historical position, and foremost and more importantly, a biblical position on this most human of traditions that comes in the winter every year of our modern times.
FIRST, THE BIBLICAL ACCOUNT
Is there anything that we can look to that determines what day exactly, that Jesus Christ was born? No, not exactly as the bible does not pinpoint the exact day of our Saviors birth. But we can come close to the month and season of His birth from scripture and it wasn’t in December. How do I know? Scripture gives an account of the birth of Jesus in relationship of the birth of John the Baptist and that of Mary being with child. Let’s start our discovery with the father of John the Baptist. John, who became the forerunner of the proclamation of the Messiah, was the second cousin of Jesus Christ. John the Baptist had as his father a member of the priesthood called by the name, Zacharias. . Zacharias was given the priestly duties before the Lord at set dates in the course of 24 priest that performed their duties at set times of the year. Zacharias duties fell on the course of Abijah, as we find in Luke chapter 1:
1:5 “THERE was in the days of Herod, the king of Judaea, a certain priest named Zacharias, of the course of Abia: and his wife was of the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elisabeth.
1:6 And they were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless.
1:7 And they had no child, because that Elisabeth was barren, and they both were now well stricken in years.
1:8 And it came to pass, that while he executed the priest's office before God in the order of his course,
1:9 According to the custom of the priest's office, his lot was to burn incense when he went into the temple of the Lord.”
From the time of King David, there were 24 courses of priests assigned to theTemple, and the course of Abijah was the 8th course as a permanent assignment. Each course of priests served for 7 days (1 Chronicles 9:25), twice a year. Their week long service at the Temple began and ended on the Sabbath (2 Chronicles 23:8).
We know from studying scripture and knowing how the course fell that Zacharias was given these duties during the 10th week of the Jewish year, or about Sivan 12-18, which falls on our calendar in the month of May/June.
We can read about the encounter that Zacharias had with the angel Gabriel in the subsequent verses that speak of the proclamation that Zecharias and Elisabeth would have a child and his name was to be John. But to pinpoint the near date of the conception of John the Baptist we look to these verses in that same passage of Luke:
1:23 “And it came to pass, that, as soon as the days of his ministration were accomplished, he departed to his own house.
1:24 And after those days his wife Elisabeth conceived, and hid herself five months, saying,
1:25 Thus hath the Lord dealt with me in the days wherein he looked on me, to take away my reproach among men.
So by taking this scripture, we can determine that John the Baptist was conceived in June sometime, and Elisabeth hid herself for 5 months.”
How does this relate to the birth of Jesus? We read further down in Luke and we come to the angel now appearing to Mary, the earthly mother of our Savior.
1:26 “And in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God unto a city of Galilee, named Nazareth,
1:27 To a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin's name was Mary.
1:28 And the angel came in unto her, and said, Hail, thou that art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women.
1:29 And when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and cast in her mind what manner of salutation this should be.
1:30 And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God.
1:31 And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS.”
Luke makes a pointed effort to show that in the “sixth month” meaning from the time of John the Baptist being conceived, an angel also came to Mary and she became pregnant by the Holy Spirit with Jesus.
1:36 “And, behold, thy cousin Elisabeth, she hath also conceived a son in her old age: and this is the sixth month with her, who was called barren.”
By taking this biblical account of the conception of John the Baptist, who would be born 9 months later, we find that John was born sometime in the spring, or sometime in March or early April on our calendar, and in the Jewish calendar, the month of Nisan, around Passover time. Simple math allows us to calculate the approximate time of the birth of Jesus by taking the time of Mary coming to Elisabeth who was 6 months pregnant, and Mary having just conceived shows that Jesus would be born 6 months after John’s birth, around the time of the fall, or approximately, during the Feast of Tabernacles celebration in the month of September or early October. Which makes a lot of sense, as the meaning of the Feast of Tabernacles is “God with us.” God came to live amongst us as a living, breathing human being during this time.
There are many more clues that people overlook when they falsely embrace the birth of our Lord. It is noted that the angels came to the shepherds who were tending their flocks in the fields around Bethlehem. We know that the weather there is similar to ours, as it is on the same latitude as we are in the Midwest, so their winter, if it were in December, could be very cold and snowy with no grass growing on the hills. Also, these sheep or lambs were being tended, possibly for the temple sacrifices that would begin in the fall during the Day of Atonement and they would not risk the death of fragile lambs to cold weather.
Another clue is that Joseph was commanded to go to his place of birth to be counted for taxes by the census of Quirinius, as taxes would be leveled when the farmers had the proceeds from their crops and were full of money. Also, they would naturally gather to celebrate a festival during this time, or the Feast of Tabernacles, so the town was packed with feast observers, hence Mary and Joseph could find no room at the Inn for lodging.
Why is this all important? It was commanded by Jesus to observe His death and resurrection, but no where is there a commandment to observe His birth. Then why do we do it? Simply, it is tradition that was started by the ruling theocracy, or the Roman Catholic Church. Is there anything wrong with observing the birth of Jesus Christ? No, not in itself, as we are joyous and thankful that He did come, as a child and grow into a man, full of grace and truth with one mission, to save the world of its sins. But for some reason, men find no threat coming from a cute little baby lying in a manger, but have a hard time acknowledging the risen Savior who will come back as a ruling and reigning Warrior King with a rod of iron to put down all sin and rebellion found on this earth.
SECOND, THE HISTORICAL ASPECTS OF CHRISTMAS
"One prolific writer in the early church fathers was Irenaeus, the bishop over all the churches of Asia Minor. He was designated a saint by the Roman Catholic Church, and was the bishop following John the apostle and Polycarp. Irenaeus was bishop in about 170-180 AD, and wrote about all the church observances. Nowhere is Christmas mentioned or the observance of a day for the supposed birth of Yeshua. You can read Irenaeus' writings in English at the Wheaton University website, and check it out for yourself.
“The Catholic encyclopedia states that shortly after the Council of Nicea in 325 AD, a pope assigned December 25th as the day for observing the birth of Jesus. Then in the 5th century AD, another pope made it church law, that all Christians would observe December 25 as Christmas, forever. Think about it, the date of December 25 was chosen over 300 years after the death of Jesus, as the date of His birth; and 400 years afterwards it was institutionalized as a mandatory church observance.” (Paganism in Christmas, Reinhold.)
Oh how people love to participate in all the man-made aspects of Christmas; the glittering lights, the evergreen tree, the giving of presents, and the entire merchant push for their biggest sales period of the year. While some Christians will say that "we ought not to commercialize Christmas", or "let's put Christ back in Christmas", those are just slogans to perpetuate what is historically something we must admit, it is a pagan festival. Jesus Christ is NOT in Christmas, as the day proclaims. Are you shocked? You should be if you’re a true follower of Jesus Christ. Let’s see what this time in history is really about, and how Jesus our Savior was added to this celebration and it’s not based on Christian principles of worship.
As mentioned, three hundred years after the resurrection of our Lord, the Roman Catholic Church by edict proclaimed the date of December 25th as the official date of the birth of Jesus. Years later, the Emperor Constantine designated and approved this date by stating the following:
"On the venerable Day of the Sun let the magistrates and people residing in cities rest, and let all workshops be closed. In the country, however, persons engaged in agriculture may freely and lawfully continue their pursuits; because it often happens that another day is not so suitable for grain-sowing or for vine-planting; lest by neglecting the proper moment for such operations, the bounty of heaven should be lost."
I’m going to reveal some details that most Christians do not understand or realize where these traditions came from. The popes ordered Christmas to be instituted on the birthday of Sol the sun-god, because the Roman pagans already observed Sunday to honor Sol and the winter solstice period was already observed as Sol's birthday. This was an overt means to convince the people that Sol (the sun) and Jesus were the same person. The winter solstice occurs on December 21, and Saturnalia was kept from December 17-24. Then on December 25, Brumalia was the celebration of the rebirth of the sun-god. This is called Mithraism.
To get a secular definition of the meaning of this tradition, all one has to do is look at any dictionary, or online at Wikipedia at the following URL:
The tradition is historical, and has nothing to do with Christianity as a religion. So who was Sol the sun-god? It was a continuation of the Ba’al worship from ancient days. It was present in Egypt and back to ancient Babylon. December 25 was the birth day of Tammuz, the son of Semiramis, and the so called rebirth of Nimrod his father. Note that Semiramis married her own son, by Nimrod, as the risen king. (incest) The ancient legend is that a green tree sprang up on Brumalia, with the stump symbolizing Nimrod (Ba’al) and the green tree Tammuz. This festival is nothing more than witchcraft institutionalized in the church today as Christmas. It is Ba’al worship. Many Christians hold up their noses over ancient Israel who worshiped YHVH and also worshiped the baals. They think they would never do such things themselves. However, they are practicing the same Ba’al worship that people were criticized in the scriptures over 2500 years ago.
Although the early Roman Catholic popes knew of the pagan origins of these celebrations that did not concern them, as they felt that substituting Christ in a pagan tradition would satisfy the new converts into their mainstream religion.
Jeremiah warned of this practice when he wrote of a passage that sounds much like a Christmas tree:
Jeremiah 10:3-4 “For the customs of the people are a delusion; because it is wood cut from the forest, the work of the hands of the craftsman with a cutting tool. They decorate it with silver and gold; they fasten it with nails and with hammers so that it will not totter.”
I don’t wish to pour water on your parade, as many Christians celebrate the season with a pure heart and again, only wish to honor the Lord Jesus by being in church and being mindful of the beginning of the salvation of the world. Is it wrong to celebrate Christmas even with all the added tinsel and trappings of a man made holiday? You have to decide. Does God condone connecting His Holy Name, Jesus Christ, and a name above every name with a tradition that seeks pleasure of the flesh, but sprinkles in piety to season the stew? I am reminded of a verse that jumps out at me:
"Take heed to thyself that thou be not snared by following them [the pagans in their customs] . . . that thou enquire not after their gods, saying, How did these nations serve their gods? even so will I do likewise. Thou shalt not do so unto the LORD thy God: for every abomination to the Eternal, which he hateth, have they done unto their gods" (Deuteronomy 12:30-31).
Remember again what Jesus said and opening this message, in John 4:24,
4:23 “But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him.
4:24 God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.
God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth, meaning we must worship to the fullest of God's intent as revealed in His Word, with every act guided and determined by His revealed truth. Yet, how many corners do we cut when we feel it serves us better at the time? We do not add to it, or take away from it.
By blending in different worldly traditions in our misguided attempt to worship and honor God we are missing the mark and by doing so, sinning against God. The world's theologians call this process syncretism, which means "the combination of different forms of belief or practice; the fusion of two or more original forms." Example is the incident of the Golden Calf found in your bible that the Hebrew people has Aaron fashion for them (Exodus chapter 32), that blends the worship of the true God with the worship of false gods, and the result is proclaimed to be worship of which men believed the true God would approve of. Does God now or did He then, approve? What was the judgment of the Hebrew people when they tried to mix paganism with the worship of Jehovah? Exodus:
32:7 “And the LORD said unto Moses, Go, get thee down; for thy people, which thou broughtest out of the land of Egypt, have corrupted themselves:
32:8 They have turned aside quickly out of the way which I commanded them: they have made them a molten calf, and have worshipped it, and have sacrificed thereunto, and said, These be thy gods, O Israel, which have brought thee up out of the land of Egypt.”
God intended to wipe the children of Israel away in His hot anger, but Moses interceded for whole of the people and God spared them for Moses plea, but punishment was instituted by Moses and the tribe of Levi. You can read verses 9-26, which ends with these verses to the judgment that was enacted for their great sin:
32:27 “And he said unto them, Thus saith the LORD God of Israel, Put every man his sword by his side, and go in and out from gate to gate throughout the camp, and slay every man his brother, and every man his companion, and every man his neighbor.
32:28 And the children of Levi did according to the word of Moses: and there fell of the people that day about three thousand men.
32:29 For Moses had said, Consecrate yourselves today to the LORD, even every man upon his son, and upon his brother; that he may bestow upon you a blessing this day.
32:30 And it came to pass on the morrow, that Moses said unto the people, Ye have sinned a great sin: and now I will go up unto the LORD; peradventure I shall make an atonement for your sin.”
God and Moses were deeply offended when the people tried to celebrate a God of their own minds, by redefining Him and controlling Him to their own desires. I’ve had people tell me that they don’t care if Christmas started as a pagan ritual as it’s their way of praising God. Is not this person doing the same thing as the Israelites did in the wilderness when they substituted a golden calf, as god of their own desire, for the true God of Heaven? Are you doing the same thing? At this time of the year, let us examine our hearts and minds and determine, are we worshipping God in spirit and in truth, or are we making a god of our own desires as Israel did? I leave it to the leading of the Holy Spirit in your life and Holy conviction.
Joshua 24:15 And if it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.
As I started this message, I wish to offend no one, but as a Christian, a true believer, you must know the truth of what the Bible says is the real season of the birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Now I leave it to your own conscience and good will wishing only to serve our God with true worship.
This is pastor Mike Taylor, wish God’s salvation in your life though Jesus Christ our Lord. If you have any need for prayer, for counseling, or just to listen, send me an email to firstname.lastname@example.org, God bless you, till we meet at Jesus feet.