Mat 10:34 “Do not think that I have come to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword,
Luk 12:51 “Do you think that I came to give peace on earth? I say to you, no, but rather division.
In the last few days quite a few people have wished me a "merry christmas". Many people associate this particular day as the greatest significant day in history. They say it is the birthday of The Messiah. So they go to malls and superstores buying gifts that most people will be paying for in the year to come. Acres of lights displayed across eaves and bushes share their holiday cheer. Millions of trees are cut down, pruned and adorned with glitter and all manner of ornaments. Hams are roasted, shrimp are skewered and high fructose corn syrup candy canes painted red are protruding from their mouths. In fact years ago I celebrated quite zealously all of these things, If anyone had told me that "jesus" was not the reason for the season, they would have heard all about the significance of christmas and The Messiah. Seven years ago I grudgingly read an article that stated "christmas" was a pagan feast day. At first my blood boiled, how dare they! So I studied it out. There are hundreds of articles actually on the origination of "christmas". Here is one example.
A. Roman pagans first introduced the holiday of Saturnalia, a week long period of lawlessness celebrated between December 17-25. During this period, Roman courts were closed, and Roman law dictated that no one could be punished for damaging property or injuring people during the weeklong celebration. The festival began when Roman authorities chose “an enemy of the Roman people” to represent the “Lord of Misrule.” Each Roman community selected a victim whom they forced to indulge in food and other physical pleasures throughout the week. At the festival’s conclusion, December 25th, Roman authorities believed they were destroying the forces of darkness by brutally murdering this innocent man or woman.
B. The ancient Greek writer poet and historian Lucian (in his dialogue entitled Saturnalia) describes the festival’s observance in his time. In addition to human sacrifice, he mentions these customs: widespread intoxication; going from house to house while singing naked; rape and other sexual license; and consuming human-shaped biscuits (still produced in some English and most German bakeries during the Christmas season).
C. In the 4th century CE, Christianity imported the Saturnalia festival hoping to take the pagan masses in with it. Christian leaders succeeded in converting to Christianity large numbers of pagans by promising them that they could continue to celebrate the Saturnalia as Christians.
D. The problem was that there was nothing intrinsically Christian about Saturnalia. To remedy this, these Christian leaders named Saturnalia’s concluding day, December 25th, to be Jesus’ birthday.
E. Christians had little success, however, refining the practices of Saturnalia. As Stephen Nissenbaum, professor history at the University of Massachussetts, Amherst, writes, “In return for ensuring massive observance of the anniversary of the Savior’s birth by assigning it to this resonant date, the Church for its part tacitly agreed to allow the holiday to be celebrated more or less the way it had always been.” The earliest Christmas holidays were celebrated by drinking, sexual indulgence, singing naked in the streets (a precursor of modern caroling), etc.
F. The Reverend Increase Mather of Boston observed in 1687 that “the early Christians who first observed the Nativity on December 25 did not do so thinking that Christ was born in that Month, but because the Heathens’ Saturnalia was at that time kept in Rome, and they were willing to have those Pagan Holidays metamorphosed into Christian ones.” Because of its known pagan origin, Christmas was banned by the Puritans and its observance was illegal in Massachusetts between 1659 and 1681. However, Christmas was and still is celebrated by most Christians.
G. Some of the most depraved customs of the Saturnalia carnival were intentionally revived by the Catholic Church in 1466 when Pope Paul II, for the amusement of his Roman citizens, forced Jews to race naked through the streets of the city. An eyewitness account reports, “Before they were to run, the Jews were richly fed, so as to make the race more difficult for them and at the same time more amusing for spectators. They ran… amid Rome’s taunting shrieks and peals of laughter, while the Holy Father stood upon a richly ornamented balcony and laughed heartily.”
H. As part of the Saturnalia carnival throughout the 18th and 19th centuries CE, rabbis of the ghetto in Rome were forced to wear clownish outfits and march through the city streets to the jeers of the crowd, pelted by a variety of missiles. When the Jewish community of Rome sent a petition in1836 to Pope Gregory XVI begging him to stop the annual Saturnalia abuse of the Jewish community, he responded, “It is not opportune to make any innovation.” On December 25, 1881, Christian leaders whipped the Polish masses into Antisemitic frenzies that led to riots across the country. In Warsaw 12 Jews were brutally murdered, huge numbers maimed, and many Jewish women were raped. Two million rubles worth of property was destroyed.
So what does scripture say about the keeping of holidays?
Jer 10:1 Hear the word which יהוה speaks to you, O house of Yisraʼĕl.
Jer 10:2 Thus said יהוה, “Do not learn the way of the gentiles, and do not be awed by the signs of the heavens, for the gentiles are awed by them.2 Footnotes: 1Lev. 18:3, Dt. 12:30 & 18:9, Ezek. 11:12 & 20:32, Eph. 4:17, 1 Peter 4:3. 2Dt. 4:19 & 17:3.
Jer 10:3 “For the prescribed customs of these peoples are worthless, for one cuts a tree from the forest, work for the hands of a craftsman with a cutting tool.
Jer 10:4 “They adorn it with silver and gold, they fasten it with nails and hammers so that it does not topple.
Jer 10:5 “They are like a rounded post, and they do not speak. They have to be carried, because they do not walk. Do not be afraid of them, for they do no evil, nor is it in them to do any good.”
Angels, santas and nutcrackers
Deu 5:6 ‘I am יהוה your Elohim who brought you out of the land of Mitsrayim, out of the house of bondage.
Deu 5:7 ‘You have no other mighty ones against My face.
Deu 5:8 ‘You do not make for yourself a carved image, any likeness of which is in the heavens above, or which is in the earth beneath, or which is in the waters under the earth,
Deu 5:9 you do not bow down to them nor serve them. For I, יהוה your Elohim, am a jealous Ěl, visiting the crookedness of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me,
Deu 5:10 but showing kindness to thousands, to those who love Me and guard My commands.
Still there are those that would say that the ancient traditions have nothing to do with the "christmas" we celebrate now. But The Scriptures would disagree.
1. Doing what others do and giving it another name.
Lev 18:3 ‘Do not do as they do in the land of Mitsrayim, where you dwelt. And do not do as they do in the land of Kenaʽan, where I am bringing you, and do not walk in their laws.
Deu 12:30 guard yourself that you are not ensnared to follow them, after they are destroyed from before you, and that you do not inquire about their mighty ones, saying, ‘How did these nations serve their mighty ones? And let me do so too.ʼ
Deu 18:9 “When you come into the land which יהוה your Elohim is giving you, do not learn to do according to the abominations of those gentiles.
Eze 11:12 “And you shall know that I am יהוה, for you have not walked in My laws nor executed My right-rulings, but have done according to the rulings of the gentiles1 which are all around you.” ʼ ”
Eze 20:32 “And what comes up in your spirit shall never be, when you say, ‘Let us be like the gentiles, like the tribes in other lands, serving wood and stone.ʼ
Eph 4:17 So this I say, and witness in the Master, that you should no longer walk as the gentiles walk,1 in the futility of their mind,
1Pe 4:3 For we have spent enough of our past lifetime in doing the desire of the gentiles, having walked in indecencies, lusts, drunkenness, orgies, wild parties, and abominable idolatries,
2. The birth time of The Messiah
The Birth of Yeshua (Jesus) on Sukkot
Messiah’s birth, (10 - 4 BC), was expectantly awaited (Matthew 2:1-18) because within about 40 years Daniel’s prophecy concerning Him must be fulfilled.
The prophet Micah wrote that He was destined to be born in Beth-Lechem (Bethlehem) — the House of Bread (Micah 5:2). (God called Him the Bread from Heaven (John 6:32-36), though men say Manna (Exodus 16:31) — What is It?) It was because of this prophecy that King Herod had the children of Bethlehem killed, to protect his throne against the coming promised king.
The rabbis who translated the Septuagint taught from the prophet Isaiah that He would be born of a virgin (Isaiah 7:14) and would be called Immanuel — God with Us.
In the expected time and place, on the Festival of Sukkot,* in a succah (tabernacle, temporary dwelling) where Passover lambs were raised in the city of the shepherd David, a Son was born to a virgin descended from that Messiah David (Matthew 1, Luke 3:23-38). At an angel’s command (Matthew 1:21), He was named Yeshua, meaning " Salvation." God would dwell with us in a sukkah of humanity that would be bruised by the serpent, then crush that old serpent!
The apostle Yochanan (John) tells us that the Word (of God) became flesh and "dwelt in a sukkah" (tabernacled) among us (John 1:14). The author views Sukkot as figurative of Messiah"s coming to dwell among His people; this reference is not submitted as proof of a dogmatic date.
When Zekharya (Zechariah) was ministering in the temple, he received an announcement from God of a coming son. The second course of Abia,12 when Zekharya was ministering, was a week in the middle of Sivan. If Zekharya’s promised son Yochanan (John the baptizer) were conceived soon thereafter, then Yeshua’s conception, which was six months later, would be late Chislev to early Tevet, near Chanukah (the Feast of Dedication); His birth would thence be at mid Tishri, the Feast of Sukkot (Tabernacles).
The month of Tishri (in the fall) also fits with the season of shepherds being out with their flocks by night, as they were when Yeshua was born; during winter the lambs are kept indoors.
Later in His life, Yeshua celebrated His birthday on a mountain with three of His disciples (Matthew 17:1-9, Mark 9:1-10). In contrast to birthday parties, such as Herod’s (Matthew 14:6-12), where people were killed for entertainment, His was a celebration of life. On the Festival of Sukkot, Moses and Elijah, from centuries past, representatives of the Torah and the Prophets, appeared and talked with Yeshua. One disciple, Kepha (Peter), suggested building three sukkot for Yeshua, Moses, and Elijah, because it was required for the festival, but he did not understand (Mark 9:6) that these three were fulfilling that which the festival symbolized: they were dwelling in their sukkot (temporary tabernacles) of flesh, awaiting their eternal resurrection temples.
So according to scripture are we to celebrate the birth of "The Messiah"? Not that I can find, so if you do find it please share it with me. But there is a feast we are to celebrate as put forth in scripture beginning in Leviticus 23. Most would say we are not to continue celebrating the "feasts of the Jews", below you will see whose feast it is.
Lev 23:34 “Speak to the children of Yisraʼĕl, saying, ‘On the fifteenth day of this seventh month is the Festival of Booths for seven days to
Joh 7:2 And the festival of the Yehuḏim was near, the Festival of Booths.
Zec 14:16 And it shall be that all who are left from all the gentiles which came up against Yerushalayim, shall go up from year to year to bow themselves to the Sovereign, יהוה of hosts, and to observe the Festival of Booths.
Zec 14:17 And it shall be, that if anyone of the clans of the earth does not come up to Yerushalayim to bow himself to the Sovereign, יהוה of hosts, on them there is to be no rain.
Zec 14:18 And if the clan of Mitsrayim does not come up and enter in, then there is no rain. On them is the plague with which יהוה plagues the gentiles who do not come up to observe the Festival of Booths.
Zec 14:19 This is the punishment of Mitsrayim and the punishment of all the gentiles that do not come up to observe the Festival of Booths.
May you be whole and complete in Messiahs beauty