Hope of Israel Ministries (Ecclesia of YEHOVAH):
Facts and Fables of Christmas
Before you take off on another Yuletide shopping binge, take a few minutes to read this article. Find out EXACTLY what you are getting into!
by Jerry Healan
At the close of every year, churchianity acts out what is described as the birth of the Messiah -- never realizing that this practice actually hides the real truth of the event.
The scene is always the same. There is a manger with a little baby, his mother and father looking down in worshipful adoration. There are animals, angels, three wise men and gifts.
It seems so right and good because, after all, it comes right out of the pages of the Bible, right?
What to Do with Old Saint Nick?
This was the title of an article appearing in a recent fundamentalist publication. The writer was lamenting how Santa Claus had replaced the savior in the Christmas celebration. He asked, "who sits on the throne in the department store, enjoys the place of honor in the parade, is adored by trembling little eyes, hears their prayers, and promises when he comes unexpectedly on Christmas night, he will reward those who are good?"
The writer was laying down a beautiful case for the abandoning of old Kriss Kringle. But suddenly, he dismantled everything he had built when he said, "Yet, Santa is here, and it does little good to rant and rave, 'Bah! Humbug!' like old Scrooge or to tell kids there is no Santa Claus when the child sees him everywhere!"
Such is the reasoning of those who would really rather not see the demise of a holiday they have come to cherish, regardless of what their minds and hearts tell them is the proper, Biblical thing to do.
In the same publication, the editor wrote a column entitled, "Should We Observe Christmas?" In it, he answered a letter he received advising him against it. Our comments follow his.
"You say there is no Scripture commanding us to observe [Yeshua's] birth. I fail to see your point."
The point is, if YEHOVAH God Almighty intended man to keep the birthday of the Messiah there would be no question about when the celebration is to be observed. We would not run up against total silence on the matter.
But YEHOVAH is explicit on the seven annual days He expects man to observe, telling us exactly when to keep them and why. He details how others kept them and when. And He repeatedly commands that they be observed "forever." Shouldn't that tell us all we need to know about what days are important to YEHOVAH God and what are not?
"I'm not worshiping pagan deities when I keep Christmas. I'm honoring the Savior's birth " argue many.
If you buy and decorate a tree, sing carols, eat Christmas ham and cookies, drink from the wassail bowl, hang holly wreathes and mistletoe, light Christmas candles and Yule logs, and in general enjoy the revelry of the day, then what the pagans did has everything to do with you. You can't clean up an abomination that is permanently taunted with heathenism. You can't dip in ink and not get stained.
The Bible is clear: we cannot mix the holy with the profane. "The things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to devils, and not to God: and I would not that you should have fellowship with devils. You cannot be partakers of the LORD's table, and the table of devils" (1 Corinthians 10:20-21). The prophet echoed, "Learn not the way of the heathen" (Jeremiah 10:2).
Some might say: "Show me a passage of Scripture that says we should not honor our savior's birth."
Where does the Bible support practice by omission? Show me a Scripture that says I shouldn't watch x-rated movies. Just because it isn't stated doesn't mean it is approved! Obviously, the ancient writers knew nothing about cinematography. But they did know about lust that precedes fornication and adultery, and so the spirit of the law precludes doing anything that would violate it.
Furthermore, there is no passage that condones adding to what has been given. In fact, we are warned at the end of the Bible against adding worship that isn't in the Scriptures. "If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book" (Revelation 22:18).
Others might say: "You are mistaken, however, when you say there is 'no historical record or account, sacred or profane, of the early churches observing His birth or Christmas.'"
Indeed, the churches of the third century and beyond began to keep an enhanced pagan Roman Saturnalia with so-called Christian symbolism. That's how we came to see all the supposed religious imagery mixed in with pagan trappings.
But nowhere do we find the apostles, disciples, or the Messiah himself hanging up stockings, decorating Christmas trees, eating ham, drinking eggnog, and exchanging presents on December 25 -- or at any other time.
We do find them observing the Passover, Feasts of Unleavened Bread, Pentecost, Trumpets, Atonement, and Tabernacles. Shouldn't that be our example? How can you follow an example that doesn't exist?
Timing is Way Off
The first point that should be focused on is that the date and time of the Messiah's birth were purposely hidden by YEHOVAH God so that no one would ever know when to celebrate it! But we know definitely that it was NOT December 25 because there were shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flocks by night, Luke 2:8.
Historical facts (truth) reveal that shepherds did not feed their flocks in the field by night from late October or early November until around late April or early May (around Passover) because of the severity of the winter cold and rains.
The birth of Yeshua the Messiah, therefore, could only have taken place from early-mid spring to early-mid fall -- totally opposite to the time the world celebrates his birth.
The Messiah said, "God is spirit; and worshippers must worship Him in spirit and in truth" (John 4:24). If the time of the birth celebration is a lie -- and it is -- then YEHOVAH and the Messiah are not being worshipped in truth, are they? The world has been deceived to believe a lie, hasn't it?
The Book of Revelation, in 12:9, reveals that the great dragon "that old serpent called the Devil and Satan...deceives the whole world."
Paul wrote, "Therefore, they have no excuse; because, although they know who God is, they do not glorify him as God or thank Him...They have exchanged the truth of God for falsehood, by worshipping and serving created things, rather than the Creator -- praised be He for ever. Amen" (Romans 1:21, 25).
Paul also warns that one is coming, "Whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, and with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: that they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness" (2 Thessalonians 2:9-12).
Could such a seemingly innocent thing as celebrating the savior's birthday cause one to lose one's salvation? Didn't YEHOVAH's Word say that His truth was changed into a lie? Shouldn't we worship Him in spirit and in truth?
If we can see or understand that the time of the celebration of the Messiah's birth is wrong, and yet still cling to a lie, then where is repentance? We are told to repent and believe the evangel (truth), Mark 1:15. If there is no repentance from sin, deceit, falsehood, and lies, then there is no salvation.
Just Change the Date?
Couldn't we just change the date of observance to the right time of the year? No. It may seem like the right thing to do, but YEHOVAH's inspired Word says, "There is a way that seems right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death" (Proverbs 14:12; 16:25).
YEHOVAH God has carefully hidden the time, to keep man from doing what man has done anyway -- create a huge, commercialized, deceitful celebration of the savior's birth. We must seek YEHOVAH's will, not man's.
Idols and Images
YEHOVAH's law says, "Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth" (Exodus 20:4).
When YEHOVAH God says "anything that is in heaven or earth beneath or water under the earth," that covers everything!
The Messiah said we must worship YEHOVAH in spirit. Can we see spirit? I can't. If there is someone who can I would like to know because I have a myriad of questions to be answered. But, here again, man always does the opposite of that which YEHOVAH commands, doesn't he?
Are not the images portrayed in the Christmas scene exactly that? Don't people look on them in worshipful admiration? Don't they sing songs of praise and worship to them?
I wonder how many have secretly or even openly prayed to them? What about crosses and pictures hanging in churches and homes?
The commandment continues, "Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate Me; and shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love Me, and keep My commandments" (Exodus 20:5-6).
Satan knows that man wants to see what he is worshiping. Man is physical, fleshly, and deals with the physical world. We like to see, hear, feel, taste, and touch things in order to believe.
The evil one has deceived man into turning from the truth of this commandment and rationalizing that these traditional images are okay.
Wise Men Not There
How many realize that the wise men were never present at the manger scene? Notice in Luke 2:8-20 that angels made the announcement of the Messiah's birth to shepherds who came to find the baby in the manger. The shepherds then "made known abroad" the saying concerning the child and then returned to their flocks.
The wise man came later to Herod saying, "Where is he that is born King of the Jews?" Matthew 2:2. Herod was troubled, and all Jerusalem at this. He called for the chief priests and scribes demanding where the Messiah should be born. Their answer: in Bethlehem of Judea, Matthew 2:5.
Considering the fact that the shepherds made these events known abroad, while the wise men caused such a stir in Jerusalem, it would have been no problem for Herod to have dispatched soldiers to seek out the child and find him.
Matthew 2:9-11 states that the star they had seen earlier announcing his birth appeared to the wise men, leading them to the young child. Verse 11 says, "And when they were come into the house" -- not a barn, stall or manger.
The wise men were warned not to return to Herod, so they departed another way into their own country. When Herod finally realized that his intentions to slay the child were foiled, he sent forth and slew all the children of Bethlehem from two years old and under, "according to the time which he had diligently inquired of the wise men," verse 16.
The words, "diligently inquired" can be translated "accurately inquired" or "exactly inquired."
If he slew all children two years of age and under according to the accurate or exact time, then doesn't it seem logical that the wise men appeared somewhere around one to one and a half years after the Messiah's birth?
Other points to consider in refuting an early arrival of the wise men is that Luke states that Yeshua was taken to Jerusalem to be presented to YEHOVAH God according to the Law of Moses, which said, "Every male that opens the womb shall be called holy to the LORD" (Luke 2:23).
The law of Moses states that the woman was to be unclean for a period of 40 days after bearing a male child, Leviticus 12:2-4. She was then to bring an offering of purification to the door of the tabernacle (temple) of the congregation. This offering, and a young pigeon or a turtledove for a sin offering, was given to the priest, Leviticus 12:6.
Joseph and Miriam were still in the Jerusalem area 40 days later because when the days of her purification were accomplished, they brought the Messiah to Jerusalem to present Him to YEHOVAH God, Luke 2:22.
But notice also her offering: "A pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons." What does this verse mean? YEHOVAH had provided for the poor. If they were not financially able to offer a lamb, then they were to offer two turtledoves or two pigeons, Leviticus 12:8.
This offering refutes any idea that Yeshua the Messiah was born to rich, well-to-do parents. They were so poor that they couldn't even afford a lamb. But it also refutes the idea that the wise men had already appeared with their expensive gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Had they done so, Joseph and Miriam would have had the means to afford a lamb.
Luke finally states in 2:39, "And when they had performed all things according to the law of the LORD, they returned into Galilee, to their own city Nazareth." No flight to Egypt recorded here. It was one and a half years later.
A Great Mystery
Let's consider something else that has been hidden from view. The deceitful Christmas scene has become so traditional, much of the real truth and meaning has become hidden from view.
True enough, the announcement that a king and savior has been born is declared, but what about other symbols that are not so easily discerned, but that also reveal and prophesy of Yeshua the Messiah?
Bethlehem, true enough, was the city of king David, which in conjunction with the genealogical heritage of David speaks of Yeshua as the prophesied King. But how many realize that the name "Bethlehem" in the Hebrew means "House of Bread"?
What does this speak of? The Messiah said, "I am the bread of life: he that comes to Me shall never hunger. I am that bread of life. Your fathers did eat manna in the wilderness, and are dead. This is the bread which comes down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread he shall live forever: and the bread that I will give is My flesh, which I will give for the life of the world. Except you eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink His blood, you have no life in you. Whoso eats My flesh, and drinks My blood, has eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day. For My flesh is meat indeed, and My blood is drink indeed. He that eats My flesh, and drinks My blood, dwells in Me, and I in him. As the living Father has sent Me, and I live by the Father: so he that eats Me, even he shall live by Me. This is that bread which came down from heaven: not as your fathers did eat manna, and are dead: he that eats of this bread shall live forever" (John 6:35, 48-51, 53-58).
We find then that the true, living bread from heaven, the bread of life, was born in Bethlehem, the house of bread.
When he was born, his mother placed him in a manger (Gr. phatne, from pateornai [to eat]; a crib [for fodder]: manger). Animals were to eat their food from the crib or manger. In other words, it was a feeding trough.
The Messiah called his people sheep, "Verily, verily, I say unto you, he that enters not by the door into the sheepfold, but climbs up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber. But he that enters in by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. To him the porter opens; and the sheep hear his voice: and he calls his own sheep by name, and leads them out. And when he puts forth his own sheep, he goes before them, and the sheep fallow him: for they know his voice. I am the good Shepherd: the good Shepherd gives his life for the sheep. I am the good Shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine. As the Father knows me, even so know I the Father: and I lay down my life for the sheep. And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one Shepherd" (John 10:1-4; 11; 14-16).
The child Yeshua, the true Bread from heaven, was placed in a crib or manger, the feeding place of his sheep, so that they might eat of him and live forever.
Yeshua charged Peter three times, "Feed my lambs," John 21:15. "Feed my sheep," verse 16. "Feed my sheep," verse 17. What do you think his sheep should be fed with? Shouldn't it be the Bread of life from heaven?
His mother also wrapped the Messiah in swaddling clothes. Bullinger says that the Greek word sparganoo means to swathe, a medical term equivalent to bandage. Doesn't this refer to the Messiah as the one who heals us? Didn't he heal the sick, the lame, blind, deaf, even the lepers? Don't we use bandages to wrap or bind up our wounds, aiding the healing process?
Isaiah 53 foretells of his suffering wounds for our sins, a prophecy that ties in with the motif of swaddling clothes.
"Surely He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken [beaten], smitten [killed, slain] of the LORD, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed" (verses 4-5).
Bullinger also points out that the Greek word sparganoo (wrapped in swaddling clothes) means to swathe. Swathe comes from the Anglo-Saxon swathu, which means as much grass as is mown at one stroke of the scythe.
Thus we have another prophecy to deal with concerning this child, for he is the "first of the first-fruits" or the fulfillment of the wave sheaf of first-fruits, as recorded in Leviticus 23:9-11.
The wave sheaf was cut with a scythe or sickle late in the evening before the morning that it was offered, being waved (heaved, lifted up) before YEHOVAH God as a type or symbol of the resurrected Messiah, which then signaled the beginning of the harvest.
No Room at the Inn
Another point to consider is that there was no room (space) for them at the inn. Thus, Isaiah's prophecy that he was "despised and rejected of men" had not only come to pass at the beginning of his existence, but also both instances (Isaiah's and his birth) should serve to remind us of the rejection at the end of the age of his life when he hung on the tree.
Doesn't that rejection continue even today in a world deceived by the great dragon?
The inn or lodging place, in metaphor, can represent the world, the lodging place of humanity.
The Messiah himself said, "My kingdom is not of this [present] world: if my kingdom were of this [present] world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence [this time]" (John 18:36).
YEHOVAH God and His kingdom (which includes the Messiah's kingdom of Israel) is rejected by the kingdoms of this world. When YEHOVAH God returns, the kingdoms of this world will gather to fight Him, Psalm 2:13; Revelation 16:13-16; 19:11-21.
Angels and Shepherds
An additional fact should be understood about the birth of the Messiah. The angel of YEHOVAH God appeared to the shepherds in the field, announcing the message to them that a child had been born that day in the city of David, a savior which is Messiah Yeshua, Luke 2:9-11.
The angels are heavenly messengers, sent by YEHOVAH with His evangel. The shepherds are the men who receive the message and shepherd or feed the sheep.
When the shepherds came and beheld the child, wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger (which was the promised sign), they then went abroad and made known the saying to others concerning the child, Luke 2:9-17.
There are seven angels (heavenly messengers) over the seven assemblies in the Book of Revelation, chapters 2 and 3. The angels evidently work through human shepherds who are in turn to feed the flock -- the Messiah's sheep.
The shepherds must be careful in feeding the flock the proper food, which is Yeshua the Messiah, the Bread of Life from heaven.
The Book of Jeremiah contains a warning message to the pastors (shepherds) who scatter and destroy the Messiah's sheep. They feed his people, but what are they feeding them? (Jer. 23:12)
Verse 13 says that they prophesied in Baal, causing them to err, while verse 14 speaks of the prophets (pastors, preachers, shepherds) committing adulteries, walking in lies, strengthening the hand of evildoers, that none return from his wickedness (no repentance), which causes the people to inherit the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah!
Such are the prophets, pastors, and shepherds who prophesy in Christmas. It causes Israel to worship Baal, not YEHOVAH God! It leads people into adulteries, fornications, idolatries, surfeiting, drunkenness, and every other evil act. Yet it appears so good, so right, so beautiful that no one -- or very few -- is willing to repent of its observance.
The Messiah convicted the Jews of his day for destroying the word of YEHOVAH God by their traditions, Matthew 15:1-6; Mark 7:5-13. The same can be said for modern-day churchianity! The Christmas celebration takes away the truth, causing the people (sheep) to revel in lies that lead to destruction.
Yeshua's true shepherds must wake up. As the Levites of old, we must put our sword by our side (the sharp, two-edged sword of YEHOVAH, His Word, the Bible), and go in and out of the camp putting to death every evil doctrine that deceives and brings on the pangs of destruction.
The plague is already come upon our people! We must work to restore the truth and stay the plague even at the risk of our lives! Strong is our Mighty One YEHOVAH, and great is our deliverance through Yeshua the Messiah.
-- Edited By John D. Keyser.
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