Pagan On Christmas

The Shocking Pagan Origin of CHRISTMAS!


What is the TRUE ORIGIN of Christmas? Where did it come from? Did you know Yeshua Ha Mashiach was born nowhere NEAR December 25, but that was the "birth day" of the sun- god, "Sol Invictus" or "Mithras"? 


Did you know December 25 was the concluding day of the pagan winter festival called the "Saturnalia"? Where did "Santa Claus" come from? The "Christmas tree"? How did this pagan feast become connected with "Christianity"? Here is an amazing "whale of a tale"!


Although the whole world celebrates Christmas as a "Christian" holiday, including millions of non-Christians, is Christmas really "Christian" at all? Consider this fact: Look high and low throughout the pages of the Bible, and you will find not ONE WORD of "Christmas" being celebrated by any of YEHOVAH's people! It is not even mentioned once! Neither the Messiah nor any of his apostles ever observe this holiday, nor the New Testament Church!


Yet on the other hand the pagan, heathen world observed this day for thousands of years before the Messiah was even born!


Where did the mysterious rites and ceremonies that surround this day come from? What about the "Christmas tree" and the "Yule log" and the mistletoe and Holly wreaths? Are ANY of these customs truly "Christian" in origin? And what about fat and jolly old "Saint Nick" -- or Santa Claus?


Here at the Church of Yeshua Ha Mashiach we tell the Absolute uncompromising Truth. 


Is it wrong to celebrate "Christmas"? What is the truth about this popular and widespread holiday?


The Origin of Christmas


I want to be perfectly clear, we should worship God at all times, including Christmas  Holloween, and any other Pagan Holiday. In any event there are a few things you should know. Let's take an honest and objective look at the origins of this holiday.


In a book authored by Werner Keller he says  "The Bible as History the following admission":


"December 25 is referred to in documents as Christmas Day in A.D. 324 for the first time. Under the Roman emperor Justinian [A.D. 527-565] it was recognized as an official holiday. An old Roman festival played a a major part in the choice of this particular day. December 25 in ancient Rome was the 'Dies Natali Invictus,' 'the birthday of the unconquered,' the day of the winter solstice and at the same time, in Rome, the last day of the Saturnalia, which had long since degenerated into a week of unbridled carnival..." 


Doesn't it seem rather strange that the  "Christian church" should choose a day to celebrate the Messiah's birth which was identified as the day of the birth of the unconquered sun, the day of the winter solstice, the "shortest day of the year," when the sunlit part of the days,  start becoming longer again? What does this have to do with the Messiah, anyway? Was Yeshua the Messiah born anywhere near December 25? Keller goes on:


"Meteorologists as well as historians and astronomers have something of importance to contribute to this question of fixing the date of the birth of Jesus. According to St. Luke: 'And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night' (Luke 2:8).


"Meteorologists have made exact recordings of the temperature at Hebron. This spot in the southern highlands of Judah exhibits the same climatic conditions as Bethlehem, which is not far distant. The temperature readings show over a period of three months that the incidence of frost is as follows: December -- 2.8 degrees; January -- 1.6 degrees; February ---0.1 degrees. 


The first two months have also the greatest rainfall in the year: approximately 6 inches in December, and nearly 8 inches in January. According to all existing information the climate of Palestine has not changed appreciably in the last 2,000 years, consequently modern meteorological observations can be taken as a basis.


"At Christmas-time Bethlehem is in the grip of frost, and in the Promised Land no cattle would have been in the fields in that temperature. This fact is born out by a remark in the Talmud (the collection of Ancient Rabbinic Writings) to the effect that in that neighborhood the flocks were put out to grass in March and brought in again at the beginning of November. They remained out in the open for almost eight months.


"Around Christmas-time nowadays both animals and shepherds are under cover in Palestine.


"What St. Luke tells us points therefore to the birth of Jesus having taken place BEFORE the onset of winter.


How interesting! How fascinating! As we explore the time for the birth of the Messiah, we find he was born nowhere near December 25, the very date the world has chosen to "celebrate" supposedly, his "birthday"! But there is much more to the story than this. Let's go on.





When Was Yeshua Really BORN?



Let's look into this matter honestly. Let's examine the evidence, seeking the truth. When was Yeshua the Messiah born, anyway? Was it anywhere NEAR December 25? And if not, then why believe a lie, and practice and perform a lie?


The birth of the Messiah is not known for certain, but we can know the approximate time of year when he was born! In the book of Luke we read that the father of John the Baptist was Zacharias, and he was a priest who served at the temple in Jerusalem. He was "of the course of Abia" (Luke 1:5). 1. Also called ABIJAH, chief of the twenty-four courses of priests - 1Ch 24:10; Ne 12:4; Lu 1:5



While serving at the temple, he was informed by an angel that his wife was to have a son, who was to be named "John." After this, Zacharias finished "the days of his ministration," and "departed to his own house" (v.23). "And after those days, his wife Elizabeth conceived..." (v. 24).


The names of the different courses of priests that served at the Temple are given in I Chronicles 24:1-19. "Abia" or "Abijah" was the EIGHTH course. According to the Jewish historian Josephus, each one of these courses served at the Temple for one week, the first course serving the first week of Nisan, in the spring (compare I Chron. 27:1-2), and then each course in its own order. 


All the priests served during the annual festivals (Passover in spring, Pentecost, and then Tabernacles in the fall). After six months, the order would be repeated, thus each "course" would serve two weeks during a year.


The course of Abijah, then, would have served the eighth week in the rotation. The eighth week from Nisan 1, leaving out the week of Passover, when all the priests served, would have been  the day just before Pentecost , which generally fell on Sivan 6. (Sivan usually falls in May–June on the Gregorian calendar.)


After serving a week in the Temple, Zacharias would have remained another week in Jerusalem, because of the Feast of Shavuot or Pentecost that week. Therefore, he returned home shortly after this, and his wife then conceived. This would have been about the middle of June. If we add nine months to this date, the normal time for the gestation of a human baby in the womb, John the Baptist would have been born about the middle of March, in the spring, shortly before the Passover.


Yeshua was conceived about six months after John (Luke 1:24-31, esp. verse 26). This would suggest that Yeshua the Messiah was conceived about the middle of December. This would place his birth nine months, or 270 days, later -- or the month of September!




Who WAS Born on December 25?


If Yeshua the Messiah was not born on December 25, who was? In other words, whose birthday is the whole "Christian world" really celebrating on December 25, though we call it the birth of "Christ"? Or, to put it another way, what "Christ" are they talking about? 


The word "Christ," remember, is merely the translation of the Greek word Christos, which literally means "Anointed one" -- it comes from the Hebrew word Mashiach, from whence we get the word "Messiah." So what "anointed one" was born on December 25?


Let us take out our magnifying glass, and like Sherlock Holmes, do some careful detective work, and see if we can solve the mystery -- the puzzle of why the whole world observes the birthday of Yeshua the Messiah on a day on which he was not even remotely born! In the book History of Rome, by Michael Grant, we read this startling revelation:


"Yet there was also another pagan belief during this same epoch, that much more nearly competed with Christ for the control of the Western world. This was the cult of the Sun, which was revered by millions of the inhabitants of the Roman Empire, and its religion for a time even became the state worship....


"In Rome, the divinity of the Sun came very early on; and then, centuries afterwards, in the superb dome of Hadrian's Pantheon, the central opening, surrounded by star-like rosettes, represented the solar orb....Before long, the emperor Aurelian established a massive temple of the Unconquerable Sun as the central and focal point of the entire religious system of the state . The birthday of the god was to be on DECEMBER 25, AND THIS, TRANSFORMED INTO CHRISTMAS DAY, WAS ONE OF THE HERITAGES THAT CHRISTIANITY OWED TO HIS CULT" (p. 391- 392, emphasis mine).


Notice! Christianity took over the birthday of the sun god, the cult of the sun, and transformed it into CHRISTMAS DAY, the "birthday" of Yeshua the Messiah! It was in reality the birth day of the pagan sun god, worshipped by millions throughout the Roman Empire!


We read more about this novel and profound "plot" to turn paganism into "Christianity" in a book by historian Jack Finegan, Myth & Mystery: An Introduction to the Pagan Religions of the Biblical World. Finegan writes:


Are we beginning to get the picture? This was in the fourth century AFTER the Messiah! At this time, the Church moved to incorporate the birthday of the sun god into the so-called "Christian" calendar, and converted his "birth day" into the birth day of THE MESSIAH himself! That which was distinctly and definitely pagan now was "baptized," and by some act of "magic" was transformed into something "Christian"! At least, to the observer, it appeared to be "Christian." It was now called "Christian." But in truth, it still had a pagan heart and core!


The Influence of Constantine


When Constantine became Emperor of Rome, he nominally at least became a "Christian." But being the head of a far-flung political Empire, he was concerned about the unity and coherence and stability of his Empire. As a sagacious politician, he sought to reconcile and blend and mesh pagan practices with "Christian" beliefs, to merge paganism with the Roman church. 


Constantine promulgated the "Edict of Toleration" in A.D. 313. He became emperor in A.D. 323, and "then Christianity was enthroned" (Jesse Lyman Hurlbut, The Story of the Christian Church, p. 74). From this time, for the next two hundred years, all persecutions of Christians of the Roman church, and its adherents, ceased. The sword of persecution was "not merely sheathed; it was buried" (ibid., p. 75).


But Jesse Hurlbut laments the results of Constantine's making Christianity the state religion, free from all persecution. From that time, he points out, the church became totally subverted by politics and self-seeking opportunists.


"...the establishment of Christianity as the state religion became a CURSE.


"Everybody sought membership in the church, and nearly everybody was received. Both good and bad, sincere seekers after God and hypocritical seekers after gain, rushed into the communion. Ambitious, worldly, unscrupulous men sought office in the church for social and political influence....


'The services of worship increased in splendor, but were less spiritual and hearty than those of former times. The forms and ceremonies of PAGANISM GRADUALLY CREPT INTO THE WORSHIP. Some of the OLD HEATHEN FEASTS BECAME CHURCH FESTIVALS WITH CHANGE OF NAME AND OF WORSHIP" (Hurlbut, The Story of the Christian Church, p. 79, emphasis mine).


How did it happen? Obviously, something strange and weird was going on!


Will Durant, renowned historian, in his massive work The Story of Civilization, wrote in volume III, entitled Caesar and Christ, that in the new "church" that developed in the Roman Empire, the Jewishness of Yeshua was lost or rejected, and replaced with Greek philosophy and thought; the "Law" of the Jews was rejected, and, he writes,


"...the god Christ was assimilated to the religious and philosophical traditions of the Hellenistic mind. Now the PAGAN WORLD -- even the anti-Semitic world -- could accept him as its own.


"CHRISTIANITY DID NOT DESTROY PAGANISM; IT ADOPTED IT. The Greek mind, dying, came to a transmigrated life in the theology and liturgy of the Church...the Greek mysteries passed down into the impressive mystery of the Mass. Other PAGAN cultures contributed to the syncretic result.  (This means differing systems of belief).


"Paganism" was not defeated by the Church. It invaded the church, infiltrated it, and seduced it from within! 


The Seduction of the Church


Admits the World book Encyclopedia, "The exact date of Christ's birth is not known. The early Christians did NOT celebrate His birth, because they considered the celebration of anyone's birth to be a pagan custom. The first mention of the observance of Christ's birthday appears about A.D. 200. For many years, several dates were used. December 25 was first mentioned in 336".


This common reference work acknowledges, "For many years, people observed Christmas as a religious festival only. But they GRADUALLY ADOPTED MORE AND MORE CUSTOMS UNRELATED TO THE CHURCH. Most of the customs originated in cultures that existed before Christianity....In 1643, the Puritans, who regarded such celebrations as pagan, outlawed the observance of Christmas in England." Colonists in New England followed the English laws and also outlawed Christmas. But immigrants to the New World brought Christmas customs from many lands and the old festivities where soon restored.


All of the popular customs and traditions surrounding Christmas actually were celebrated at pagan mid-winter festivals thousands of years before the Messiah was born. Admits this same encyclopedia, "The custom of burning the Yule log began with the ancient Scandinavians, who once a year burned a huge log in honor of their god Thor. After the Scandinavians became Christians , they made the Yule log an important part of their Christmas ceremonies.". 


God loves us very much and wants to bless us. He does not want to send us to hell. Before the birth of Jesus, for hundreds of years through his prophets God had promised a Savior to save us from our sins. To fulfill His promise, God Himself took on human flesh and became a man, Jesus Christ. God kept His godly supernatural nature and combined it in perfect union with human nature. By the supernatural power of God, Jesus was born of a virgin Jewish woman about 2000 years ago in the land of Israel. Jesus is called the Son of God. Yeshua celebrated the Feast of Dedication or the Feast of Lights. You can reference this in the book of John chapter 10:22. 


This was a feast instituted in honor of the restoration of divine worship in the temple, and its formal rededication to sacred uses after it had been defiled by the heathen under Antiochus Epiphanes. This dedication took place in 164 b.c., and an account of it is given in the apocryphal book 1 Maccabees 4:52–59. The feast lasted two days, and could be celebrated not only in Jerusalem, but elsewhere.

In later times it was known by the name of the “Feast of Lamps,” or the “Feast of Lights,” because of the custom of illuminating the houses while celebrating it. The Jewish rabbis have a tradition that, when the Jews under Judas Maccabeus drove the heathen out of the temple and cleansed it from its pollution, they found a solitary bottle of sacred oil that had escaped the profane search of the heathen. This was all they had for lighting the sacred lamps, but by a miracle this was made to last eight days, and so this became the duration of the feast.

This is the holiday referred to now as Hanukkah, an eight-day festival beginning on the 25th day of Kislev. Hebrew nukkâ, dedication, from nak, to dedicate.


So let's do a recap, How Did This Pagan Festival Enter the Church?


Clearly, the pagan customs of Christmas had nothing remotely to offer to the Church of YEHOVAH God, one would think, as they were the very antithesis of true Christianity! Yet, somehow, this ancient pagan festival wormed its way into the established "Christian" Church and became its most prominent holiday of the year! What a mystery! How did this ever come about?


In The Book of Christmas Folklore, Tristram P. Coffin writes,


"The celebration of Christmas really began 'circa 320 A.D.' when the Catholic fathers in Rome decided to convert the Mithraic 'Birthday of the Unconquered Sun' into a birthday more suited to their aims" (p. 3).


The Catholic Church took the excitement which surrounded the Roman Saturnalia, with its excesses, delights, debauchery, and wantonness, and called them the celebration of the birth of the Son of God, Yeshua. 


Most people today still think of December 25 as the birth day of Yeshua, even though this is definitely not the case. Years after the Maccabean revolt, Yeshua celebrated Chanukah in the same Temple that had been cleansed and rededicated only a few generations earlier (John 10:22). It was here that many asked if He were the coming Messiah - harkening back to the liberation of the earlier Maccabees: "How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Messiah, tell us plainly" (John 10:24).


Recall that during the Second Temple period, there were four primary "sects" or "denominations" of Jews living in the land of Israel. The Sadducees (i.e, "righteous ones," from Tzadok the priest) were Hellenistic Jews who controlled the Temple; 


the Pharisees (i.e., interpreters") were Torah scholars who sought to teach the common people how to live the Jewish life; the Essenes (i.e., perhaps from oseh hatorah, "doing Torah") were mystical ascetics who repudiated the Hellenized priesthood (i.e., Sadducees) and moved to the Judean desert (near the Dead Sea) to await the apocalypse; and the Zealots (i.e., , "ardent ones"), who were political agitators that sought to incite the Jews to rebel against Roman rule by force of arms, if necessary. 


It is perhaps easy to overlook the Messianic expectation connected with a festival that celebrated the "rededicating the Temple," but clearly there were many zealous Jews who were "in suspense" regarding the arrival of the greater son of David (Mashiach ben David). After all, this was the great Zionist ideal repeatedly envisioned by the Hebrew prophets.  One day God would send the Messiah to destroy Israel's enemies and establish His Kingdom (i.e., Temple) upon the earth. Israel would be exalted above the oppressive nations and universal peace would finally reign. The wolf would lay down with the lamb and God would wipe away all tears of mourning. The words of the prophets would finally be fulfilled and Jerusalem would become the centerpiece of the entire world. Even some of Yeshua's own disciples attached great significance to the Temple and could not understand why Yeshua later abandoned it altogether (Matt. 23:37-24:2). 


But notice that it was precisely at this time - during the Feast of Dedication - that Yeshua chose to collide with this popular, idealized, and nationalistic Messianic expectation.  We must remember that Yeshua did not come to establish the Kingdom of God before He came to save a remnant of people who would be able to inherit it. Messiah ben Yosef, the great Suffering Servant, must precede Messiah ben David, the reigning King of Israel, and that, of course, meant that Yeshua first came to die as an atoning sacrifice for His people.  How could there be a kingdom without true subjects? Or what good would there be to be a King without a kingdom? But in order to have a kingdom, the heart must be transformed and human nature regenerated by the power of the Holy Spirit. Yeshua was born to die, and His sacrifice was the doorway into the Kingdom of God.

It is likely that Chanukah was a favorite holiday of the Zealots, and it was on account of their mistaken conception of the Kingdom of God that eventually led the Jewish-Roman wars and the destruction of the Second Temple, as prophesied by Yeshua (Matt. 24:1-2).   


To better understand Yeshua's "Chanukah Sermon" delivered to the zealots at the Temple, it is good to review some of the context given in John's gospel. Earlier in the year Yeshua had offered "Living Water" to the Jews during the festival of Sukkot (John 7:37-44). While in Jerusalem, Yeshua went to the Temple (on the Sabbath) and forgave the woman taken in adultery. He then announced that He was the Light of the World (John 8:1-12). 


When challenged by the religious authorities, Yeshua stated that the validity of his claims were established through His Father (John 8:13-30) and he went on to plainly state His preexistence (John 8:52-59). As He left the Temple, Yeshua authenticated his message by healing a man who was blind from birth (John 9). He then began openly teaching that He was the Good Shepherd who would "lay down his life for his sheep" (John 10:1-18). The reaction of the crowd was mixed: "There was again a division among the Jews because of these words. Many of them said, "He has a demon, and is insane; why listen to him?" Others said, "These are not the words of one who is oppressed by a demon. Can a demon open the eyes of the blind?" (John 10:19-21). 


It is at this point that John tells us that "at that time the Feast of Dedication took place at Jerusalem. It was winter, and Jesus was walking in the temple, in the colonnade of Solomon. So the Jews gathered around him and said to him, "How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Christ, tell us plainly" (John 10:22-24). In light of Yeshua's earlier teaching to the Jews, it is not surprising to hear his reply: "I told you, but you do not believe" (John 10:25). He then went on to say that the works He did in His Father's Name born witness about His identity, but they could not believe, since they were not part of God's flock. 


Only God's sheep can hear the voice of the Good Shepherd, and only they are able to follow Him: "My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them Me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father's hand. I and the Father are one" (John 10:27-30). Upon hearing this, the Jews wanted to stone Yeshua for blasphemy, since they rightly understood Yeshua's claim to be divine: "It is not for a good work that we are going to stone you but for blasphemy, because you, being a man, make yourself God" (John 10:33).



Finally, the "spirit of Chanukah" agrees with other teaching of the New Testament. The word chanukah itself means "dedication," a word that shares the same root as the Hebrew the word chinukh, meaning "education."  Just as the Maccabees fought and died for the sake of Torah truth, so we must wage war within ourselves and break the stronghold of apathy and indifference that the present world system engenders (Rom. 12:2; Eph. 6:11-18). We must take time to educate ourselves by studying the Tanak ( Old Testament)  and Brit Chadasha (New Testament), for by so doing we will be rededicated to the service of the truth and enabled to resist assimilation into the corrupt world.  "Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world." (1 John 2:15). The "cleansing of the Temple" is a matter of the heart, chaverim. 


The enemy is apathy and the unbelief it induces. We are called to "fight the good fight of faith" and not to conform to this present age with its seductions and compromises (1 Tim. 6:12, Rom. 12:2). The LORD Yeshua gives us light, the very "light of life." The light of the truth is the light of God's word (Psalm 119:105,130). God gives us the victory through the Spirit of Truth since it is the love of the truth that brings us to salvation (2 Thess. 2:10-12). What does this mean to you who claim to know Yeshua and His message? How does this impact you as His follower in this darkened age? 


The basic message of Chanukah is eschatological and full of hope. This evil world is passing away and one day the Kingdom of Heaven will be established upon the earth. We live in light of this blessed hope (Titus 2:11-13). The world's rulers are "on notice" from God Almighty: their days are numbered and they will surely face the judgment of the LORD God of Israel (Psalm 2). We must stand against the devil by refusing to conform to the world around us (Eph. 6:11-18). Now is the time. "Let your light so shine before others that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven" (Matt. 5:16). Followers of Yeshua are part of His Temple - members of His Body - and during this season we should heed the call to rededicate our lives to Him, not focus on all the Commercialism and making the Business men rich.


We should always worship, 365 days a year, everyday is a Holiday and every Meal is a Banquet. Enjoy everyday of your life, plan for a century but live like you are leaving today. It's always good to know why we do what we do. 


The Truth will always be respected.

STAY HUNGRY, STAY THIRSTY, STAY WILLING

SHALOM, SHALOM

Pastor. D