PAGAN CHRISTMAS HAS BEEN AROUND FOR NEARLY 4,000 YEARS
SO, WHEN WAS JESUS REALLY BORN?
No one knows exactly the date but let us focus on what we do know: Christ was not born on December 25th. When Christ was born, the shepherds of Bethlehem were “…. living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night (Luke 2:8).” This could not have been in December because in Judea it is cold and rainy, so it is likely the shepherds would have sought shelter for their flocks at night. The weather would not have permitted shepherds watching over their flocks in the field at night.
It’s a well-known fact that December falls in the middle of the rainy season and the sheep are kept in the fold at that time of the year. The shepherds corralled their flocks from October to April. They brought their sheep from the mountainsides and the fields usually no later than October 15 to protect them from the cold, rainy season that followed that date so the birth of Christ would not have taken place at the end of December. And for another thing; Jesus’s parents came to Bethlehem to register in a Roman census (Luke 21:1-4). Such census’ were not taken in winter when temperatures can drop below freezing and roads were in poor condition. Taking a census under such conditions would have been self-defeating. And finally, we have the biblical accounts that point to the fall of the year as the most likely time of Jesus’ birth, based on the conception and birth of John the Baptist.
The Bible is God’s complete and final revelation to man, and it tells us everything we need to know for our spiritual lives. Yet, not once in the Bible does God tell us to celebrate Christ’s birth. We are told to remember the Lord’s death, but nowhere are we told to celebrate His birth. Just as a point of interest there are only two birthday celebrations recorded in the Bible; and each one of them is connected with murder. The Bible tells us in Genesis 40:22 that on one of Pharaoh’s birthdays he murdered his chief baker while a big celebration was going on. The other birthday celebration recorded was that of Herod, when he had John, the Baptist murdered.
Christmas Started With Pagan Sun God Worshipers Nearly 2,000 Years Before Jesus Was Born
Interestingly, the apostles and the early Christian church did not celebrate Jesus’ birth. In fact, God’s Word forbids the observance of any holy days in this Age of Grace (Gal. 4:10-11). Christ never told anyone to celebrate His birthday, only His death day. It wasn’t until A.D. 440, some 400 years later, that the Roman Catholic Church officially proclaimed December 25 as the birth of Jesus. This was not based on any teachings or practices of the apostles or early Christians but on a pagan feast. Researchers believe the Roman Catholic Church settled on December 25th for many reasons, such as that day’s ties to the winter solstice, the celebration of the birthday of the sun god and Saturnalia, a festival dedicated to the Roman deity Saturn. Saturnalia was a tradition inherited by the Roman pagans from an earlier Babylonian priesthood. So, we can see that originally Christmas started with the sun worshipers during the time of Nimrod, the man who supervised the building of the tower of Babel. By choosing this date to celebrate Jesus’ birthday, the Catholic Church could co-opt the popular pagan festival, as well as the winter celebrations of other pagan religions.
We all now know that Christmas is a pagan holiday that comes out of old, pagan Babylon. Any encyclopedia will verify this fact. All the heathen nations in ancient times celebrated the birth of their sun God on December 25th. The Catholic Church, in order to accommodate baptized pagans, made a mass out of this day and called it Christ-mass, or Christmas. The mass is a prayer that’s read or sung for the soul of a dead person. Speaking of Christmas, most churchgoers don’t know this but 500 years prior to Christ’s birth, the Babylonian pagan custom of the Christmas tree is condemned by the Bible. Jeremiah gives us a scathing denunciation of idolatry and heathen practices, “For the customs of the peoples are futile; For one cuts a tree from the forest, The work of the hands of the workmen, with the ax. They decorate it with silver and gold; they fasten it with nails and hammers so that it would not topple (Jer. 2-4).” In conclusion, it seems that the pagan celebration of Christmas started nearly 4,000 years ago at the time of Nimrod and the building of the tower of Babel.
The very fact that the world which hates Christ and His blood atonement for sin makes more fuss about Christmas than any other holiday proves to me that Christmas is not of God. If December 25 were truly the birthday of the blessed Son of God, the world would have nothing to do with it. People throughout the world, who for the most part have no awareness of the Bible or Jesus Christ, eat up the Christmas celebration. Taking Christmas from the world would be harder than taking candy from a child. The world loves Christmas, the money maker, but it hates Christ.
Without question, the most important part of Christmas for most people is buying and exchanging gifts. Perhaps some of you are asking, “Didn’t the wise men give gifts to Jesus?” They certainly did, but they didn’t give them to one another. And their gifts were not birthday gifts, because the wise men did not come to visit Jesus until He was nearly 2 years old (Matt. 2:16). The shepherds came to visit Jesus at His birth, but the wise men came to see Him nearly 2 years later. And did you know that giving gifts to a King was a common custom in the Far East? That’s the reason why the wise men brought gifts to Jesus – because He was born to be “King of the Jews.” But they were not birthday gifts. So, there is no connection between exchanging gifts at Christmas and the birthday of Christ, in this respect. I want you to know that there are a lot of born-again believers out there that don’t celebrate Christmas because exchanging gifts has nothing to do with Christ’s birthday. There are no special holy days for members of the body of Christ. The Lord wants us to worship Him the same 365 days a year. We’re not worshiping a dead Christ or a helpless infant lying in a manger, but we’re worshiping a real and living Christ who lives all year round in us.
The Reason For The Season
What poses a difficulty for many Christians today is the realization that many of the rituals of Christmas are a carryover, not from the Christian traditions of Christmas but pagan religious holidays. The Christmas tree, mistletoe, yule log, Santa Claus, exchanging gifts, as well as a host of other practices, come from pagan sources. The question arises, “If these things are pagan in origin, ought we to engage in them?” While it is true that most of the rituals of Christmas observed today have their origin in pagan practices, they do not have those associations today. People today do not worship their Christmas tree (although, they may worship what’s under it)!
While these things don’t have pagan meanings for us, there is still a problem. The problem is that they have NO meaning. Their empty of content. Consequently, their pointless, vain practices for most. Empty rituals make for lifeless faith. Jesus was quite hard on the religious leaders of His day precisely on this point. They went through the motions of religion, without any real meaning in their rituals. He didn’t call them to stop their practices but rather to do them with hearts in tune with what they meant (see the woes in Matthew 23).
Can Christians use these cultural traditions to point people to the true meaning of Christmas? Absolutely! So, rather than cast off the traditions of Christmas, why not re-infuse them with meaning so they become living object lessons of what this season is all about. In other words: “The Reason for the Season.” The celebration of Christmas in today’s society offers many opportunities to share the true reason for the holidays. Many of our unbelieving neighbors and friends have grown up with Christmas traditions without understanding the Savior who was born. A proper focus on Christmas can serve as a wonderful outreach to those families. Using this special occasion to witness for Jesus and share with them the gospel so that their experience of Christmas can be enriched. The true meaning of Christmas is found in the gift of Jesus coming to earth to offer salvation to all people. The greatest gift of all – eternal life.
Now, regarding what you should or should not do when it comes to the celebration of Christmas, let these words of the apostle Paul guide you: “One person esteems one day above another; another esteems every day alike. Let each be fully convinced in his own mind (Romans 14:5).” When it comes to fundamental doctrines of the Christian faith, there is no room for individual opinions. But in this area where things are neither right nor wrong in themselves, there is room for differing views. They should not be allowed to become tests of fellowship.
When Was Jesus Born?
Now, when was Jesus born? Without going into all the details, as readers can do that on their own, and reviewing nine articles written on the subject I’ve come to the conclusion (if all the researchers have gotten all the facts straight) that the Messiah, our blessed Lord was probably born between 4-2 BC in late September or early October. This is where most of the evidence points to regarding Jesus’ birth. Also, we know that His earthly ministry lasted 3 ½ years, and He was crucified on the 14th day of the month of Nisan, which corresponds to our April (see John 19:31; Leviticus 23:5). If we go back three and half years to the time when Jesus was 30 years old – when He began His public ministry – we come to the month of October. So, the last week of September or the first week of October seems most likely when Jesus was born into the world.
Now, after having said that! Does it really matter – the exact date of Jesus’ birth. While it is interesting to know Jesus’ birth from a historical perspective, it is theologically irrelevant and holds very little importance when looking at the bigger picture. It is less important that we know when it happened and more important that we know that it happened and why it happened. The Bible is clear on this. The main focus of the New Testament writers is not the date of Jesus’ birth, but that God the Father has sent His Son at just the right time in all of history to accomplish His saving purposes and thus fulfill His promise.
Here is what really matters – “The Good News” is that in the city of Bethlehem, the city of King David, the Savior was born, and He is “Christ the Lord” – Messiah – King of kings and Lord of lords.