Saturday, December 10, 2016

Let’s discuss Christmas

(The following was borrowed from Foundations Magazine)

By Carmen Welker

Those of us who are Torah observant believers in Messiah Yeshua adhere to the celebration of the Biblical feasts because, unlike man-made holidays such as Christmas and Easter, the mo’edim (God’s Appointed Times) are all about Him. Each one reveals our Creator's eternal plan and foreshadows Messiah Yeshua - who has so far fulfilled the first four of the seven!

Not wishing to offend our beloved Christian brothers and sisters, the truth is, Christmas is unbiblical on several levels. For instance, Yeshua (Jesus’ given, Hebrew name which means “YHWH is Salvation”) was not born on the 25th of December; he was born on the first day of the Fall Feast of Sukkot (Tabernacles - which, on our Gregorian calendars falls in the September or October timeframe). This, in itself, makes “Christmas” the “number one lie.” (The other lie is “Santa Claus” – but we’ll get to that in a moment.)

Sukkot (Leviticus 23: 33-37) is a week-long holiday that reminds us of the hardships of Israel's 40 years in the wilderness and provides us with insight into the correct birth date of our awesome Messiah. You see, Yeshua was born in a “sukkah” (temporary dwelling) in Bethlehem because his parents, who had gone to Jerusalem for the census, could find no room at the inn (Luke 2:7). And so they traveled to Bethlehem which is only about 5 miles further, where they ended up sheltering in a sukkah. (The name Bethlehem means "House Of Bread"; and coincidentally, Yeshua is the Bread of Life" - see John 6:43-51)!

Luke 2:1 Around this time, Emperor Augustus issued an order for a census to be taken throughout the Empire. 2 This registration, the first of its kind, took place when Quirinius was governing in Syria. 3 Everyone went to be registered, each to his own town. 4 So Yosef, because he was a descendant of David, went up from the town of Natzeret in the Galil to the town of David, called Beit-Lechem, in Y'hudah, 5 to be registered, with Miryam, to whom he was engaged, and who was pregnant. 6 While they were there, the time came for her to give birth; 7 and she gave birth to her first child, a son. She wrapped him in cloth and laid him down in a feeding trough, because there was no space for them in the living-quarters.

8 In the countryside nearby were some shepherds spending the night in the fields, guarding their flocks, 9 when an angel of ADONAI appeared to them, and the Sh'khinah of ADONAI shone around them. They were terrified; 10 but the angel said to them, "Don't be afraid, because I am here announcing to you Good News that will bring great joy to all the people. 11 This very day, in the town of David, there was born for you a Deliverer who is the Messiah, the Lord. 12 Here is how you will know: you will find a baby wrapped in cloth and lying in a feeding trough." (CJB)

The above passage is proof that Jesus wasn't born on December 25th! It's cold in December and there are no shepherds guarding their flocks in the fields at that time of year. Plus, Augustus Caesar wouldn't have had a census in the dead of winter, because weather conditions might not have allowed for people to make a pilgrimage to Jerusalem on foot or horseback.

Christmas is simply not biblical. It’s not mentioned in Scripture, and nowhere are we commanded to celebrate the birth of Messiah – much less, exchange gifts on his birthday. Yes, the three Wise Men came to pay their respects to the "born King of the Jews" – but notice they came not to present gifts to each other, but to him! Nothing in Scripture suggests we were to come up with our own “holy day” designed for gift exchange to “honor God.” Nothing.

Can you do it, if you wish? Certainly! But why would you want to, in view of what you’ve learned thus far?

Now, please consider this:

Christmas has its roots in paganism because, in part, it incorporates the cutting down of, and decorating trees (more on this later). It is a strictly man-made holiday that masquerades as a biblical holy day designed to honor Jesus – yet, for the most part it has become nothing more than another commercialized day that has nothing, whatsoever to do with God’s Word. Christmas is “all about me, me, me and what I want for Christmas.” Sure, many “go to church for Christmas Eve mass” (for some, it’s the ONLY time they cross the threshold of a church!). But does that really fulfill what God expects of His people … to be holy/set apart and to live our faith? Yeshua said that, upon his Second Coming, he will “vomit from his mouth” all those whom he considers to be “lukewarm” (Revelation 3:16)….

YHWH’s mo’edim are not about spending money we don't have or going into debt to buy things we can't afford. And honestly, you never hear of anyone committing suicide during the Biblical feasts because they're "feeling lonely or depressed."

One thing that is so heartbreaking is that the “Thou shalt not lie” command is totally ignored at Christmas, because the "Santa knows whether you’ve been good or bad" is one of the first LIES we tell our children! Everyone knows that this white-bearded old man who magically whizzes around the world with his team of flying reindeer and comes down the chimney to bring presents is a complete myth! Sure, it’s “fun for the kids,” but how does that justify breaking the Ninth Commandment?

Let’s take a quick look at how YHWH feels about the “customs of people.”

Deuteronomy 12: 28 Obey and pay attention to everything I am ordering you to do, so that things will go well with you and with your descendants after you forever, as you do what ADONAI sees as good and right. 29 "When ADONAI your God has cut off ahead of you the nations you are entering in order to dispossess, and when you have dispossessed them and are living in their land; 30 be careful, after they have been destroyed ahead of you, not to be trapped into following them; so that you inquire after their gods and ask, 'How did these nations serve their gods? I want to do the same.' 31 You must not do this to ADONAI your God! For they have done to their gods all the abominations that ADONAI hates! They even burn up their sons and daughters in the fire for their gods! 32 "Everything I am commanding you, you are to take care to do. Do not add to it or subtract from it. (CJB)

Jeremiah 10: 1 Hear the word Adonai speaks to you, house of Isra'el! 2 Here is what Adonai says: "Don't learn the way of the Goyim, don't be frightened by astrological signs, even if the Goyim are afraid of them; 3 for the customs of the peoples are nothing. They cut down a tree in the forest; a craftsman works it with his axe; 4 they deck it with silver and gold. They fix it with hammer and nails, so that it won't move. 5 Like a scarecrow in a cucumber patch, it cannot speak. It has to be carried, because it cannot walk. Do not be afraid of it - it can do nothing bad; likewise, it is unable to do anything good!" (CJB)

While the above scripture isn't talking about "Christmas trees" per se, we can certainly see the resemblance! Every year at Christmas, millions of trees are slaughtered, just to uphold a pagan tradition of bringing trees into the house and decorating them. Scripture tells us that the cedars will rejoice on the day man has been “laid low” enough to stop cutting them down (Isaiah 14:8)!

The following was excerpted from Richard Rives' book, Too Long in the Sun, which discusses our obsession with blindly following paganistic rituals.

“The Encyclopaedia Britannica reports that "The traditional customs connected with Christmas have developed from several sources as a result of the coincidence of the celebration of the birth of Christ with the pagan agricultural and solar observations at midwinter. In the Roman world the Saturnalia (December 17) was a time of merrymaking and exchange of gifts. December 25 was also regarded as the birth date of the Iranian mystery god Mithra, the Sun of Righteousness."

“Colliers Encyclopedia agrees. Quote: "After the triumph of Constantine, the church at Rome assigned December 25 as the date for the celebration of the feast, possibly about A.D. 320 or 353. By the end of the fourth century the whole Christian world was celebrating Christmas on that day, with the exception of the Eastern churches, where it was celebrated on January 6. The choice of December 25 was probably influenced by the fact that on this day the Romans celebrated the Mithraic feast of the Sun-god (natalis solis invicti), and that the Saturnalia also came at this time."

Much more could be said about this man-made “holy day” of Christmas, but one thing is clear: Christmas is not a holiday that pleases our Creator who expects all to be holy and set apart for Him. Neither YHWH nor His Messiah ever said that some of the people would be allowed to make up their own rules and regulations and come up with their own holy days….

Contrary to popular belief, when it comes to obedience to His "forever" commands, YHWH does not differentiate between His Natural and Adopted children! (See Numbers 15:13-16, Ephesians 2:15 and Galatians 3:28.) He told us exactly when HIS Holy Days are, with each carrying a significant meaning echoing into eternity. Christmas is not among them! There’s truly no need for an extra “holy day” made by man.

(Carmen Welker is Associate Professor of Messianic Apologetics at the Messianic Jewish Rabbinate. As author, journalist, former U.S. Army Sergeant Major and host/webmaster of The Refiner’s Fire Messianic apologetics website and Reality Check videos, Carmen also had the distinct privilege of being the original editor of Andrew Roth's Aramaic English New Testament.)

6 comments:

  1. Shali, I like the video that Carmen does on Christmas where she explains that even atheists and agnostics take time to celebrate man-made holidays (St. Patrick's Day, Christmas). Another thing I notice on my own is that the secular entertainment industry celebrates and honors these holidays.

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  2. Thanks, Kevin, our dear, loyal reader, for commenting on our blog posts! We truly appreciate you. Would you do me a favor and send us an email at biblicaltruth613@therefinersfire.org ? We would like to get to know you better!

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  3. I've read this blog over, because I still question celebration of our own birthdays. I'm still not sure 'why some say yes and others no'. Earlier I learned No, and that is based on that there were two birthdays mentioned in the bible, Pharoah's and Herold's. That the 'round' cakes with candles were designed in likeness of Sun- goddess, pagan worship.
    There is no command to celebrate Yeshua's birthday, and it appears no detail to celebrate ours each year. There are gatherings in the scriptures, but I can't find/define birthdays for us.
    I'm new to this, so I didn't celebrate my birthdays, and even declined my own son's and then mom's birthday- as others did celebrate. I explained that I was in process and understood that no. Some good reasons are (1) to stay humble, not exalt myself, as birthdays focus all this attention on oneself. So, if are not instructed to celebrate Yeshua birth- why mine. (2) not go in debt is a great one, today's birthday celebrations exalt the person, while some stress for the charged gift. Sadly, some people can begin to measure when comparing gifts. And, some end up having to explain why they weren't able to attend. Any type of celebration can get out of hand if you add in these worldly obligations.
    Usually, someone will use the phrase 'it's not in the bible' when they try to support why December 'celebration/memorial is okay. So, if we use ' it's not in the bible that we can't' celebrate our birthday, it won't work.
    It was a most humbling experience, to not celebrate birthdays, and perhaps there were some hurt feelings. Whether it's right or wrong to celebrate, it did open my eyes to see how extreme we can get, and lose sight that the purpose is that he gave us life, and added a year. Inside, most of us know and take a moment to think on that, but caution is for the little ones, they are taking it all in.
    ---For me, I don't have grandkids yet, and for the rest of my family- I'm the only one following Torah. So I do need to know more on this, because I don't want to change back and forth on beliefs.

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    1. Thanks for the great question - and actually, we happen to have the answer in a short article on our website: https://therefinersfire.org/birthdays.htm

      When people try to use the "it's not mentioned in the Bible and therefore we shouldn't do it" excuse, then I always try to point them to the fact that the Bible also doesn't mention tooth brushing. So, should we not brush our teeth?

      We, at The Refiner's Fire always attempt to put logic into the equation. If something is not mentioned in Scripture, then WHY would it necessarily be forbidden? And really, what's wrong with celebrating the day of our birth - as long as it's done to honor YHWH, and - as you mentioned - we don't go into debt like so many do as they knock themselves out to go overboard.

      My husband and I always take each other out to dinner on our birthdays. This year, I'm taking him to a Christian concert that happens to be going on, on that particular weekend. God never said we couldn't rejoice on the day of our birth, or suggest we need to teach our children to suppress any desire to have a little party.

      Birthdays don't pretend to be biblical holy days, so why are they "wrong"? They're only wrong in the eyes of the "holier-than-thous" who "read into" Scripture things that aren't there!

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  4. If I go by the story accounts in the Bible, and I mean the good examples, I can't find an example of feast(s)- celebrating a birthday(s).
    It's hard to rationalize to others that we aren't instructed to celebrate Yeshua's birthdate, but that we get to celebrate ours.

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    1. Thank Anon.

      Well, we human mortals also "celebrate" other events in our lives the observances of which are not prohibited in scripture. Anniversaries, graduations, etc. Yes, they do bring attention to ourselves! But isn't it up to each of us to know our place? Proverbs 27:2 says "Let someone else praise you, not your own mouth, a stranger and not your own lips". So if your friends want to honor you on some occasion, then so be it. Enjoy, be happy you have friends who value you.

      Our main beef here at The Refiner's Fire is that "Christmas" is NOT the Messiah's birthday! If you are going to celebrate it, at least celebrate His arrival at the right time!

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