By Joseph Diop
Copyright © 2014 by Joseph Diop
We, the Church, are the people of the New Covenant. Sunday after Sunday, and Wednesday after Wednesday, and some days in between, we gather at our houses of worship to study the Bible. And yet, from church to church and steeple to steeple, we are making the exact same errors and committing the exact same sins as our counterparts of the Old Testament. It seems, we never learn. And God, whom our Bible tells us is no “respecter of persons” (2Chr 19:7; Eph 6:9), is going to have to judge us the same way he judged our old covenant forebears – the nations of Israel and Judah. And what is our sin? Idolatry. It is the sin of attempting to adapt practices offered to pagan gods, and adopt them for our use toward the holy God of Israel, our Father and Savior. Our traditions and Christian calendar are replete with this. But here, I will only look at one case in point, the holiday we call Christmas. It is a hodgepodge of unholy pagan traditions. We have simply slapped Christ’s name on them, and repackaged them for Christian consumption. And shall we be guiltless for this? Not on your life. The word plainly says to us,
“20 Be not highminded, but fear: 21 For if God spared not the natural branches [Israel and Judah of old], take heed lest he also spare not thee. 22 Behold therefore the goodness and severity of God: on them which fell, severity; but toward thee, goodness, if thou continue in his goodness: otherwise thou also shalt be cut off” (Rom 11:20-22, brackets mine).
I will first cite a few passages of scripture that address the subject, so that you can read them for yourselves. Then, I’ll give my commentary on them.
The Biblical Commandments: What Do the Scriptures Say?
10 Hear the word which the Lord speaks to you, O house of Israel. 2 Thus says the Lord: “Do not learn the way of the Gentiles… 3 For the customs of the peoples are futile; for one cuts a tree from the forest, the work of the hands of the workman, with the ax. 4 They decorate it with silver and gold; they fasten it with nails and hammers so that it will not topple. 5 They are upright, like a palm tree, and they cannot speak; they must be carried, because they cannot go by themselves…” (Jeremiah 10:1- 5)
29 “When the Lord your God cuts off from before you the nations which you go to dispossess, and you displace them and dwell in their land, 30 take heed to yourself that you are not ensnared to follow them, after they are destroyed from before you, and that you do not inquire after their gods, saying, ‘How did these nations serve their gods? I also will do likewise.’ 31 You shall not worship the Lord your God in that way; for every abomination to the Lord which He hates they have done to their gods; for they burn even their sons and daughters in the fire to their gods. 32 “Whatever I command you, be careful to observe it; you shall not add to it nor take away from it. (Deuteronomy 12:29-32)
20 Do not despise prophecies. 21 Test all things; hold fast what is good. (1Thess 5:20-21)
21 He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him.”22 Judas (not Iscariot) said to Him, “Lord, how is it that You will manifest Yourself to us, and not to the world?” 23 Jesus answered and said to him, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him. 24 He who does not love Me does not keep My words; and the word which you hear is not Mine but the Father’s who sent Me. 15 “If you love Me, keep My commandments. (John 14:21-24; 15)
But, it’s for the children, right?
4 “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one! 5 You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. 6 “And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. 7 You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. 8 You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. 9 You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates. (Deuteronomy 6)
14 So all the congregation lifted up their voices and cried, and the people wept that night. 2 And all the children of Israel complained against Moses and Aaron, and the whole congregation said to them, “If only we had died in the land of Egypt! Or if only we had died in this wilderness! 3 Why has the Lord brought us to this land to fall by the sword, that our wives and children should become victims? Would it not be better for us to return to Egypt?” 4 So they said to one another, “Let us select a leader and return to Egypt.” … 11 Then the Lord said to Moses: “How long will these people reject Me? And how long will they not believe Me, with all the signs which I have performed among them? 12 I will strike them with the pestilence and disinherit them, and I will make of you a nation greater and mightier than they.”… 28 Say to them, ‘As I live,’ says the Lord, ‘just as you have spoken in My hearing, so I will do to you: 29 The carcasses of you who have complained against Me shall fall in this wilderness, all of you who were numbered, according to your entire number, from twenty years old and above. … 31 But your little ones, whom you said would be victims, I will bring in, and they shall know the land which you have despised. 32 But as for you, your carcasses shall fall in this wilderness. 33 And your sons shall be shepherds in the wilderness forty years, and bear the brunt of your infidelity, until your carcasses are consumed in the wilderness. (Numbers 14)
Clearly, God will not allow us to use the idea of our children’s welfare as an excuse to disobey him. Instead, he expects us to diligently teach our children what the will of God is every day, from morning until night. Then, they will know and do it themselves.
God has not changed.
Jesus said, 17 “Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill. 18 For verily I say unto you, till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.” (Matt 5:17-18)
For I am the Lord, I change not. (Mal 3:6)
Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and today, and forever. (Heb 13:8)
Babylon is a State of Mind
Babylon is spoken of in Revelation 17 and 18. It is the mixture of the truth of Christianity with the popular world views, ungodly kingdoms, and religions of the day. God says in Revelation 18 that he will utterly destroy Babylon. The prophetess of Babylon is Jezebel — the conglomeration of false teachers — whom God says does “teach and… seduce my servants to commit fornication, and eat things sacrificed to idols” (Rev 2:20). This is a way of saying that they are taught to be unfaithful and compromising, which equates to idolatry. Babylon is the state of mind for all who see God as simply a “good ole boy,” who doesn’t really care how he is worshipped. After all, it doesn’t really matter, does it? I mean, he wouldn’t kill us all, would he? And after all, “everybody’s doing it,” right? Well, according to the first commandment in the Bible, it does matter who you are listening to. It says, “29 And Jesus answered him, the first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel; [that is, LISTEN TO], The Lord our God… one Lord: 30 And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength…” (Mark 12:29-30). Simply put, “If you love God, you will listen to him and obey.” But for Babylonians, he says, “16 But unto the wicked God says, “What have you to do to declare my statutes, or that you should take my covenant in your mouth? 17 Seeing you hate instruction, and cast my words behind thee…. 21 These things you have done, and I kept silent; you thought that I was altogether like you; but I will rebuke you, And set them in order before your eyes. 22 “Now consider this, you who forget God, lest I tear you in pieces, and there be none to deliver: 23 Whoever offers praise glorifies Me; and to him who orders his conduct aright I will show the salvation of God.” (Psalm 50:16-23)
Man-Made Holidays are “Folly Days”
According to Merriam-Webster’s etymology, the word ‘holiday’ comes from the Old English word hāligdæg (hālig “holy” + dæg “day”). In other words, holiday is a natural secularization of the original term “holy day.” And as well, it might be secularized (which means, to be “adapted for the world”), because we couldn’t otherwise have millions of ungodly, unsaved, non-believers observing days that we celebrate Jesus Christ, now could we? And so, what once meant holy days, now have become nothing more than holidays, or “folly days.” The term ‘folly’ in the Bible denotes “fool’s play,” or that to which fools have accustomed themselves. And fools have no concept of those things which are truly holy. They cannot declare the meaning of God’s feasts or festivals, and cannot relate to God’s plans or purpose. This is because they lack the necessary root within themselves of knowledge and wisdom. Therefore, they simply can’t connect the dots, nor explain why or how a holy day should remain holy. But, in fact and in truth, God meant for his holy days to remain holy forever, and for idolatry to forever be viewed as a desecration. Woe to those who try to sanctify what is worldly or trample on what is holy.
In scripture, God originally gave seven (7) holy days, which he also referred to as feast days. Christmas is NOT one of them. God’s holy days are outlined in Leviticus 23, and are introduced by these words; “And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, Speak to the children of Israel, and say to them, concerning the feasts of the LORD, which you shall proclaim to be holy convocations, even these are my feasts” (Lev 23:1-2). The days given here are: 1) Passover, 2) Unleavened Bread, 3) Firstfruits, 4) Pentecost, 5) Trumpets, 6) Atonement, and 7) Tabernacles. Later in the passage, the Lord adds, “These are the feasts of the LORD, which you shall proclaim to be holy convocations…, everything upon its day…, Beside the Sabbaths of the LORD…” (Lev 23:37,38). We’ll not expound upon these feasts herein, but only affirm them.
Now, that which God has not ordered CANNOT be made holy. We see this principle in the very first offering of the very first book of the Bible, Genesis. In Genesis 4, Cain tried to offer a sacrifice which God had not ordered, and it was rejected. His brother Abel, however, offered the sacrifice God ordered and was accepted. Cain’s irrational jealousy over the incident is what led to the first murder (Gen 4:1-15). Again, more severe consequences for trying to offer God something which he had not ordered are shown in the story of Nadab and Abihu, two priests who were sons of Aaron. Their tragic story is related in Leviticus 10:1-7.
1 And Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, took either of them his censer, and put fire therein, and put incense thereon, and offered strange fire before the Lord, which he commanded them not. 2 And there went out fire from the Lord, and devoured them, and they died before the Lord. 3 Then Moses said unto Aaron, This is it that the Lord spoke, saying, ‘I will be sanctified in them that come nigh me, and before all the people I will be glorified.’ And Aaron held his peace. 4 And Moses called Mishael and Elzaphan, the sons of Uzziel the uncle of Aaron, and said unto them, Come near, carry your brethren from before the sanctuary out of the camp. 5 So they went near, and carried them in their coats out of the camp; as Moses had said. 6 And Moses said unto Aaron, and unto Eleazar and unto Ithamar, his sons, Uncover not your heads, neither rend your clothes; lest ye die, and lest wrath come upon all the people: but let your brethren, the whole house of Israel, bewail the burning which the Lord hath kindled. 7 And ye shall not go out from the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, lest ye die: for the anointing oil of the Lord is upon you. And they did according to the word of Moses.
Here are two examples of an eternal principle: God is NOT inclined to accept anything which He himself has not designated as holy, for He is the only expert on holiness. Therefore, great care must always be exercised in offering to God anything, including so-called holidays, if he himself has not designated them as holy. There are few exceptions to this rule. One is Purim. The other is the more modern Thanksgiving. Purim is a feast started by God’s people in the days of Esther the Queen, to commemorate the dramatic deliverance of the people of God from their enemies. And Thanksgiving, rightly understood, is not just a day for being thankful for any and everything. It is a day for God’s people to give thanks to God for the survival of the original North American church planting mission. The harsh winter had decimated their ranks, but the feast was instituted to recognize that it was the Lord God who had enabled them to survive and establish the first “colony of heaven” from Europe to the Americas. And as such, those who are not Christians and who have no sense of mission do not understand the enterprise embarked upon by those early Pilgrim settlers. As such, they could never appreciate what the day is all about. These days are offered to God by God’s people as commemorations of his divine providence in preserving them from forces that would have surely annihilated them. As purely collective acts of thanksgiving then, these days are acceptable to God.
Christmas, on the other hand, is a sheer bastardization of everything it reputes to be holy. And as such, it is not to be thought of as acceptable to the Lord. First of all, it is widely acknowledged that Jesus was not born on December 25. The date of his birth is not given in scripture. So, no lie can be accepted as the foundation of worship to the God of truth. Look up Christmas using any encyclopedia or online resource, and what you find may shock you. It is widely acknowledged that Christmas Day, December 25th, is an adaptation of the pagan holidays celebrated on that date — Saturnalia and Brumalia. It has nothing to do originally with the birth of Christ. To take a pagan holiday and try to adopt that to worship our holy God is the chief of all no-no’s. Remember, God said;
29 “When the Lord your God cuts off from before you the nations which you go to dispossess, and you displace them and dwell in their land, 30 take heed to yourself that you are not ensnared to follow them, after they are destroyed from before you, and that you do not inquire after their gods, saying, ‘How did these nations serve their gods? I also will do likewise.’ 31 YOU SHALL NOT WORSHIP THE LORD YOUR GOD IN THAT WAY; for every abomination to the Lord which He hates they have done to their gods… (Deut 12:29-31)
The early Catholic Church, in all its infinite wisdom, took December 25th, because it was already widely observed by the masses of pagans, and thought to Christianize it. They dubbed it, “the mass of Christ,” or more popularly “Christ’s mass,” known nowadays as Christmas. This misadventure of adapting paganism and trying to cover it over with the offering of worship to God is not new. Aaron tried it in the story of Exodus 32, with nearly catastrophic consequences.
1 Now when the people saw that Moses delayed coming down from the mountain, the people gathered together to Aaron, and said to him, “Come, make us gods that shall go before us; for as for this Moses, the man who brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him.”2 And Aaron said to them, “Break off the golden earrings which are in the ears of your wives, your sons, and your daughters, and bring them to me.” 3 So all the people broke off the golden earrings which were in their ears, and brought them to Aaron. 4 And he received the gold from their hand, and he fashioned it with an engraving tool, and made a molded calf. Then they said, “This is your god, O Israel, that brought you out of the land of Egypt!” 5 So when Aaron saw it, he built an altar before it. And Aaron made a proclamation and said, “Tomorrow is a feast to the Lord.” 6 Then they rose early on the next day, offered burnt offerings, and brought peace offerings; and the people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play. 7 And the Lord said to Moses, “Go, get down! For your people whom you brought out of the land of Egypt have corrupted themselves. 8 They have turned aside quickly out of the way which I commanded them. … 15 And Moses turned and went down from the mountain… 19 So it was, as soon as he came near the camp, that he saw the calf and the dancing. So Moses’ anger became hot, and he cast the tablets out of his hands and broke them at the foot of the mountain. 20 Then he took the calf which they had made, burned it in the fire, and ground it to powder; and he scattered it on the water and made the children of Israel drink it.
25 Now when Moses saw that the people were unrestrained (for Aaron had not restrained them, to their shame among their enemies), 26 then Moses stood in the entrance of the camp, and said, “Whoever is on the Lord’s side—come to me!” And all the sons of Levi gathered themselves together to him. 27 And he said to them, “Thus says the Lord God of Israel: ‘Let every man put his sword on his side, and go in and out from entrance to entrance throughout the camp, and let every man kill his brother, every man his companion, and every man his neighbor.’” 28 So the sons of Levi did according to the word of Moses. And about three thousand men of the people fell that day. 29 Then Moses said, “Consecrate yourselves today to the Lord, that He may bestow on you a blessing this day, for every man has opposed his son and his brother.” 30 Now it came to pass on the next day that Moses said to the people, “You have committed a great sin… 33 And the Lord said to Moses, “Whoever has sinned against Me, I will blot him out of My book. 34 Now therefore, go, lead the people to the place of which I have spoken to you. Behold, My Angel shall go before you. Nevertheless, in the day when I visit for punishment, I will visit punishment upon them for their sin.” 35 So the Lord plagued the people because of what they did with the calf which Aaron made.
LESSON: YOU CAN’T BORROW FROM PAGANISM AND TURN IT INTO A HOLY DAY FOR THE LORD. God is holy, and paganism is not. The two don’t mix, like oil and water. That’s exactly what Israel attempted to do here. It outraged God and Moses. A holy civil war erupted; or rather, a holy slaughter ensued. God sent a plague among the people, and as if that weren’t enough, he promised also future punishment, as well. Read the passage in its entirety, and you’ll see that God threatened to destroy the whole nation, and to start fresh with Moses. And, had not Moses talked God down from that plan, that would have been the end of Israel.
So now, here we are centuries later, attempting to do this same foolish thing with this folly day we call Christmas. And, it is a hot mess of pagan rituals. I’ll not bore you with the details, but I’ll leave it to your own industry of research to discover how that the Christmas tree, the greenery, the mistletoe, and various other traditions, are all right out of the pagan playbook. But this is Babylon for you, and we know God’s wrath is on Babylon. Read Revelation 18 and you’ll see just how God plans to make an example out of Babylon — an example, that is, of utter doom.
Now, we are saved by grace. As the word assures us, “For we are not under the law, but under grace” (Rom 6:12). That’s very comforting to most of us, seeing that our Christian ancestors have been celebrating Christmas for generations, being totally unaware of its pagan underpinnings. Breathe easy for them, for I am not proposing that celebrating Christmas will keep any believer out of heaven. And I trust that you will know, likewise, that not celebrating it will get no one into heaven. But, once we learn better, we are expected to do better. Right? And the season has come when even sins committed in ignorance have to be repented of and corrected. We must ask forgiveness for our sins — even sin committed that we have been previously unaware of. In Numbers 15:22-31, God outlined the atonement for his community when they sinned without their knowledge. It had to be atoned for by blood sacrifice, just like any other sin. Now we know that Jesus shed his blood once and for all for us. He is our sacrifice, but we have to appeal to him, and ask for forgiveness when we find out we have sinned without our knowledge. For, Jesus had to suffer and die for all sin — sins we know about, as well as sins we are not aware of. And after we learn better, if we continue in that sinful thing, then the Bible says we sinned ‘presumptuously,’ and have “reproached the LORD,” because we have “despised the word of the LORD, and hath broken his commandment.” God says of that individual, “that soul shall be cut off from among his people” (Num 15:30, 31).
Again, God said, “Whatever I command you, be careful to observe it; you shall not add to it nor take away from it” (Deut 12:29-32). And God said, “And thou shalt not go aside from any of the words which I command thee this day, to the right hand, or to the left, to go after other gods to serve them” (Deut 28:14). Do you think that this is only an Old Testament injunction? Listen to this: the very last words from the last three verses from the last New Testament book of the Bible, Revelation. They express God’s intention in both Old and New Testament, from the first book of the Bible to the last:
18 For I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: If anyone adds to these things, God will add to him the plagues that are written in this book; 19 And if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part from the Book of Life, from the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book. Revelation 22:18, 19 Amen.
Take the Google Challenge
Look up ‘Christmas’ using any popular online search engine and see what you find. Or, just use any standard encyclopedia and see what you come up with. The facts of Christmas are not hidden, just largely ignored by church officials. Here’s a few extracts from popular websites to get you started.
Wikipedia – the online encyclopedia
Under “Christmas” and “History,” it says…
While the birth year of Jesus is estimated among modern historians to have been between 7 and 2 BC, the exact month and day of his birth are unknown…. In 245, Origen of Alexandria, writing about Leviticus 12:1–8, commented that Scripture mentions only sinners as celebrating their birthdays, namely Pharaoh, who then had his chief baker hanged (Genesis 40:20–22), and Herod, who then had John the Baptist beheaded (Mark 6:21–27), and mentions saints as cursing the day of their birth, namely Jeremiah (Jeremiah 20:14–15) and Job (Job 3:1–16). In 303, Arnobius ridiculed the idea of celebrating the birthdays of gods, a passage cited as evidence that Arnobius was unaware of any nativity celebration.
The History Channel
Pay special attention to the section entitled “An Outlaw Christmas.” Following is a brief quote.
From 1659 to 1681, the celebration of Christmas was actually outlawed in Boston. Anyone exhibiting the Christmas spirit was fined five shillings… In the early 17th century, a wave of religious reform changed the way Christmas was celebrated in Europe. When Oliver Cromwell and his Puritan forces took over England in 1645, they vowed to rid England of decadence and, as part of their effort, cancelled Christmas. By popular demand, Charles II was restored to the throne and, with him, came the return of the popular holiday.
Britannica Encyclopedia Online
Under “Origin and Development,” it says…
One widespread explanation of the origin of this date is that December 25 was the Christianizing of the dies solis invicti nati (“day of the birth of the unconquered sun”), a popular holiday in the Roman Empire that celebrated the winter solstice as a symbol of the resurgence of the sun, the casting away of winter and the heralding of the rebirth of spring and summer.