Genesis 10:8-10 And Cush begat Nimrod: he began to be a mighty one in the earth. He was a mighty hunter before the LORD: wherefore it is said, Even as Nimrod the mighty hunter before the LORD. And the beginning of his kingdom was Babel, and Erech, and Accad, and Calneh, in the land of Shinar.
DO YOU REMEMBER THAT NOAH CURSED HIS SON HAM AND SAID THAT HAM'S DESCENDANTS WOULD BE SLAVES, BECAUSE OF HAM'S SIN AGAINST NOAH. HAM BEGAT CUSH. CUSH BEGAT NIMROD WHOSE NAME IN HEBREW MEANS "WE WILL REBEL". THIS POINTS TO VIOLENT AND OPEN REBELLION AGAINST GOD. NO DOUBT HAM TOLD CUSH ABOUT THE CURSE, AND CUSH DIDN'T LIKE IT TO THE POINT HE NAMED HIS SON "WE WILL REBEL." I BELIEVE WE BEGIN TO SEE THE SEEDS OF ANTICHRIST RIGHT HERE.
NIMROD BECAME A MIGHTY ONE IN THE EARTH BY BOLD AND DARING DEEDS. HIS DEEDS WERE TO HUNT MEN BY TYRANNY, FORCE, AND CONFUSION. HE BUILT BABEL AND HENCE, IN SCRIPTURE, BABYLON MEANS MORE THAN THE CAPITOL CITY OF CHALDEA. BABYLON MEANS TYRANNY AND CONFUSION AND OPEN REBELLION AGAINST GOD.
NIMROD WAS OBSESSED WITH RAGE AGAINST THE CURSE AND PROPHESY OF NOAH REGARDING HIM AND HIS GENERATIONS. HE WOULD NOT BE A SLAVE. HE WOULD HUNT SLAVES. HE LORDED IT OVER OTHERS, HUNTING AND DESTROYING ALL WHO OPPOSED HIM IN HIS TYRANNY. HE PERSUADED MEN, NOT TO ASCRIBE THEIR HAPPINESS TO GOD, BUT TO HIM. HE TAUGHT MEN TO CENTRALIZE AND OPENLY DEFIED GOD TO SEND ANOTHER FLOOD. HE ESTABLISHED THE FIRST KINGDOM AND ESTABLISHED THE FIRST GREAT UNIVERSAL RELIGION OPPOSING GOD SINCE THE FLOOD.
THIS WAS DONE OPENLY "before the Lord" IN OPEN DEFIANCE TO GOD. HIS WIFE SEMIRAMIS BECAME PREGNANT AFTER HIS DEATH AND WAS THE UNWED MOTHER OF TAMMUZ. THE ROOTS OF ALMOST ALL ANCIENT RELIGIONS, AND MANY MODERN ONES, INCLUDING THE NEW AGE MOVEMENT, CAN BE TRACED TO THESE THREE PEOPLE NIMROD, SEMIRAMIS, AND TAMMUZ. JUST A FEW ARE THE ANCIENT BABYLONIAN SUN GOD, AND HIS WIFE ISHTAR OR APHRODITE OR VENUS; OSIRIS AND ISIS OF THE EGYPTIANS, AS WELL AS THE HINDU GODS, ALL REINCARNATION RELIGIONS, BUDDHISTS, AND ALL OF THE OCCULT RELIGIONS, INCLUDING MOTHER EARTH OR NATURE WORSHIP, CAN TRACE THEIR ROOTS TO NIMROD.
THE WAY NIMROD WAS GOING, GOD HAD A REAL PROBLEM WITH WHAT WAS GOING ON IN NIMROD'S CROWN JEWEL CITY OF BABEL. THE WAY NIMROD WAS GOING, THE RIGHTEOUS GOD FEARING CHILDREN OF SHEM AND JAPHET DID NOT STAND A CHANCE UNLESS GOD SOMEHOW DIRECTLY INTERVENED ON THEIR BEHALF. WE SEE HERE A PICTURE OF HOW GOD WILL DIRECTLY INTERVENE WITH THE RETURN OF THE LORD JESUS CHRIST TO DELIVER HIS SAINTS FORM THE WAR WHICH ANTICHRIST WAGES ON THEM.
Ancient as well as modern paganism holds that origin and preservation of the universe, lay in the mystery of reproduction. Two energies or forces, one an active and generative, the other a feminine, passive, are thought to combine for creative purposes. Paganism and the occult believe this to be the source of heaven and earth, sun, and moon, day and night. All paganism is nothing else but nature worship in some form or another, and in all such false religions the deepest and most awe-inspiring attribute of nature was it's power of reproduction.
Nimrod, it was claimed, had taken possession of the sun. His wife, Semiramis, was the Queen of heaven, taking possession of the moon. Years after his death, the spirit of the sun, Nimrod, came to visit his wife, Semiramis, the spirit of the moon, who conceived and gave the world Tammuz, on the 25th day of December.
Tammuz was born in such a mysterious way through the great gods, the sun and the moon, so that the evergreen played its part to represent the wooden cross. The first letter T in his name is placed before its worshipers. So this Tammuz was the greatest son given to man.
Tammuz was considered as the son of the Sun. The first letter of his name T was ever afterwards considered the symbol of sun worship. Sun worshipers sacrificed their human offerings to the sun god, upon a wooden cross, the first letter T of the name Tammuz. Tammuz was a great hunter like his supposed father Nimrod. But while yet quite a young man he was killed by a wild boar, in the spring of the year. This caused much weeping throughout the whole kingdom.
The forty days before the time of the celebration for the moon were set apart days for weeping for Tammuz. Especially did the women take the lead in this weeping for Tammuz during these forty days.
Ezek 8:12 -14 Then said he unto me, Son of man, hast thou seen what the ancients of the house of Israel do in the dark, every man in the chambers of his imagery? for they say, The LORD seeth us not; the LORD hath forsaken the earth. He said also unto me, Turn thee yet again, and thou shalt see greater abominations that they do. Then he brought me to the door of the gate of the LORD'S house which was toward the north; and, behold, there sat women weeping for Tammuz.
The yearly lamenting for Tammuz was attended with infamous practices; and the worshippers of the sun described here in Ezekiel 8 are supposed to have been priests of the God of Israel. What an ABOMINATION. The Lord appeals to the prophet Ezekiel concerning the depravity, and debauchery of the crime.
Semiramis, is the wife of Nimrod, became a great queen. In order that the people would love her, she told them that she would take possession of the moon after she died, just as her husband Nimrod had taken possession of the sun.
Semiramis never married again after the death of Nimrod, but a few years after the death of her husband she gave birth to a son, on the 25th day of December. This son they called Tammuz.
This great queen Semiramis, claimed that the spirit of the sun, her husband Nimrod was the father of Tammuz.
The date of Christ's birth was not known, so that God's children would not practice idolatry upon that day. One thing that we do know, is that it was on the FEAST of Tabernacles. Emanuel means God with us. He is Emanuel, very God the Creator, who took upon Himself flesh, and tabernacled with us. The scripture is absolutely clear that Christ must have been born somewhere in the timeframe between mid September and October 20th, at the very latest. Luke's Gospel tells us that there were shepherds abiding in the field keeping watch over their flocks by night. ALL FLOCKS ARE IN FROM THE FIELDS BY MID OCTOBER.
Satan placed into the Christian Church the day of Tammuz, December 25, as the birthday of Christ, and the Bishops of the church accepted it, with all its Christmas presents and celebrations and bondage and and revelry and drunkenness. The giving of the presents was a heathen custom. The Yule-tree and the Yule-log are remains of the old Teutonic nature worship Jer. (10:1-5).
The Savior was not born on the 25th of December.
It is an old Pagan holiday celebrated many hundred years before His birth. The Christmas tree also is a relic of heathenism. "Hear ye the Word which the Lord speaketh unto you, Oh house of Israel. THUS SAITH THE LORD, learn not the way of the heathen..... for the CUSTOMS of the people are VAIN, for one cutteth a tree out of the forest, the work of the hands of the workman with on axe" (vs. 1-3). They deck it with silver and with gold. They fasten it with nails and with hammers that it move not" (vs.4).
Learn NOT the way of the heathen is the command. This Christmas custom of the people we are told here is vain. This all came from old Babylon, and was adopted in the church by the western so called "CHURCH FATHERS", Eusebius, Jerome, Polycarp, Justan Martys, and others, while the Eastern church Fathers were opposed to all of these heathen customs, and they all strictly observed the true Sabbath, while the Western Bishops, called "Fathers", were in the great falling away of which Paul wrote in II Thess. 2:3, which revealed the "Man of sin", who is going to come into power again just before the end, AND EVEN NOW HAS BEEN REVEALED.
The command for the FAITHFUL "Remnant Church" concerning BABYLON, is "COME OUT OF HER MY PEOPLE".
No church can encourage Christmas and its spirit without going to the rocks. It is a part of sun-worship and must be given up by the Faithful Remnant People of God.
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 at every word on every page of the Bible, and you will find not ONE WORD of "Christmas" being celebrated by any of God's people! It is not even mentioned once! Neither Christ nor any of His apostles ever observed this holiday, nor the New Testament Church!
Yet on the other hand the pagan, heathen world observed this day for thousands of years before Christ 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?
It's high time we addressed these questions, and took a new look at "Christmas."
Is it wrong to celebrate "Christmas"? What is the truth about this popular and widespread holiday?
The Origin of Christmas
The following may be found in Werner Keller's book The Bible as History
"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 major part in the choice of this particular day. December 25 in ancient Rome was the 'Dies Natali Invictus,' 'the birthday of the unconquered sun,' 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 . . ." (p.331).
What is WRONG with this picture? Why does the so-called "Christian church" choose a day to celebrate Christ'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 Christ, anyway? Was Jesus Christ born anywhere near December 25? Werner Keller continues:
"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 to the effect that in that neighborhood the flocks were put out to grass in March and brought in again in October. 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 . . ." (p.331-332).
The time for the birth of Christ is nowhere near December 25. Why does the Church go along with the world and choose to "celebrate" His "birthday" at the Number one pagan festival of drunken debauchery?
When Was Jesus Really BORN?
Millions of "nominal" Christians, who think they are followers of the religion of Jesus Christ, have been deceived. Not only have they foolishly embraced erroneous "traditions" as if they were "Christian," but they have been lied to, by preachers, ministers, and priests. Most have ASSUMED that they were worshipping Christ! Yet Jesus Christ Himself warned: "Howbeit IN VAIN DO THEY WORSHIP ME, teaching for doctrines THE COMMANDMENTS OF MEN. For laying aside the commandment of God, ye HOLD THE TRADITION OF MEN . . ." (Mark 7:7-8).
In the gospel of Matthew, we find Christ says, "Ye HYPOCRITES, well did Isaiah prophesy of you, saying, 'This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouths, and honoreth me with their lips; but THEIR HEART IS FAR FROM ME. But IN VAIN do they WORSHIP me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of MEN" (Matt.15:7-9).
What is the truth? What is the evidence regarding when Jesus Christ was born? Was it anywhere NEAR December 25? And if not, then why believe a lie, and practice and perform a lie?
The birth of Christ 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). 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 IYAR 27 TO SIVAN 5, the day just before Pentecost, which generally fell on Sivan 6. 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.
Jesus was conceived about six months after John (Luke 1:24-31, esp. verse 26). This would suggest that Jesus Christ 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 Jesus Christ was not born on December 25, who was? In other words, whose birthday is the whole "Christian world" really celebrating on December 25, though they call it the birth of "Christ"? 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 Moshiach, where we get the word "Messiah." So what "anointed one" was born on December 25?
In the book History of Rome, by Michael Grant, we find this amazing 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 (274). 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).
Notice! Christianity took over the birthday of the sun god, the cult of the sun, and transformed it into CHRISTMAS DAY, the "birthday" of Jesus Christ! 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:
". . . But the worship of the sun-god continued widely throughout the empire, and under Aurelian (A.D. 270-275) the cult was restored to its former high estate. In the year 274 Aurelian declared the god -- now called Deus Sol Invictus -- the official deity of the Roman Empire; he built a splendid temple of the sun in Rome . . . and set the sun's birthday celebration (naturalis solis invicti) ON DECEMBER 25, the date then accepted for the winter solstice (also in his solar character the BIRTHDAY OF MITHRAS). In the time of Constantine the cult of Deus Sol Invictus was still at its height, and the portrait of the sun-god was on the coins of Constantine . . . . Likewise it must have been in this time and with the intent to transform the significance of AN EXISTING SACRED DATE that the birthday of Jesus, which had been celebrated in the East on January 6 . . . was placed in Rome ON DECEMBER 25, THE DATE OF THE BIRTHDAY CELEBRATION OF SOL INVICTUS. This date appears in a list of dates probably compiled in A.D. 336 and published in the Roman city calendar, edited by Filocalus, for the year 354" (Finegan, p.211-212).
Are we beginning to get the picture? This was in the fourth century AFTER Christ! At this time, the Church moved to incorporate the birthday of the sun god into the so-called "Christian" calendar, and converted the pagan sungod's "birth day" into the birth day of CHRIST Himself! That which was distinctly and definitely pagan now was "baptized," and by some act of "magic" was transformed into something "Christian"!
No matter how many Christians and non-Christians alike believe December 25th to be "Christian," it is not in fact or in TRUTH. In fact, it remains an abomination to the true God and what the bible over and over calls spiritual harlotry or whoredom. It may now be called "Christian." But in truth, it still has a pagan heart and core!
The Influence of Constantine
When Constantine became Emperor of Rome, he sought to unite the empire by pretending to become 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 sharp and crafty politician, he sought to reconcile and blend and weave 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).
Also UNDERSTAND the final world religion of the antichrist under the false prophet pope will be a religion of TOLERANCE. The only thing which will not be tolerated are those "NOT AUTHENTICALLY HUMAN" Jews and real Christians who would dare to say there is only ONE true God and/or that their God is any better than any other god.
DO YOU SEE WHY THE LAST DAYS ANTICHRIST WORLD RELIGION WILL BE A RELIGION OF TOLERANCE - THE ONLY THING WHICH WILL NOT BE TOLERATED ARE THOSE REAL CHRISTIANS AND JEWS. IT IS IN THE GLOBAL ETHIC AND THE UNITED RELIGIONS INITIATIVE THAT ANYONE WHO WOULD DARE SAY THEIR GOD IS THE ONLY TRUE GOD OR THAT THEIR GOD IS ANY BETTER THAN ANY OTHER GOD IS "NOT AUTHENTICALLY HUMAN" AND WILL NOT BE TOLERATED IN THE NEW WORLD ORDER RELIGION OF TOLERANCE.
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).
The fruit of Constantine making Christianity the state religion, free from all persecution, is sad fruit indeed. From that time, the state churches became totally subverted by politics and self-seeking opportunists. This sad fruit may be observed in the 501c3 churches, which are void of salt and light in this dark world of the last days.
". . . 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).
How did it happen? 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 Jesus was lost or rejected, and replaced with Greek philosophy and thought; the "Law" of the Jews was rejected. Durant 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. From Egypt came the adoration of the Mother and Child . . . From Phrygia came the worship of the Great Mother . . . The Mithraic ritual so closely resembled the Eucharistic sacrifice of the Mass that Christian fathers charged the Devil with inventing these similarities to mislead frail minds. Christianity was the last great creation of the ancient PAGAN world" (p.595).
These historical observations ought to make us sit up and take notice! The 'Christianity" that we see around us in the world today is but a "spin-off" of this ancient syncretism or 'blending" and "merging" of PAGANISM into the professed Church of Jesus Christ. The compromised state church, lapsed into apostasy, debauchery, licentiousness, and impurity. The descendants of the once chaste and pure virgin of Christ, the New Testament Church, had seemingly become, for all intends and purposes, the religious WHORE of Babylon -- a bejeweled and bedecked and bedeviled harlot, a "shady lady," a spiritual PROSTITUTE!
"Paganism" was not defeated by the Church. It invaded the church, infiltrated it, and seduced it from within! The professing Christian Church became the "new face of paganism"! Only the "names" were changed. And in some cases -- as in "Easter" Sunday -- even the old pagan names were left in place!
H. G. Wells, in his Outline of History, discusses the transformation of the teachings of Christ into the pagan worship of the heathen, calling itself "Christian." He notes:
"The observance of the Jewish Sabbath, again, TRANSFERRED TO THE MITHRAIC SUN-DAY, is an important feature of many Christian cults . . . He [Jesus] did not say a word about the worship of his mother Mary in the guise of ISIS, THE QUEEN OF HEAVEN. Much that is most characteristically ` Christian [so-called] in worship and usage, he ignored. Skeptical writers have had the temerity to deny that Jesus can be called a Christian at all" (p.445).
How did this happen? How did Mithraism, with its December 25 worship, and Sun-day worship, contribute these prominent "holidays" to the established "Christian" Church? How did paganism overtake, overcome, and subdue, the original teachings of the Church of Jesus Christ, and His apostles, and replace Biblical holy days with pagan "holy days"? Should all true Christians be concerned about this historic truth -- this reality? Doesn't it really matter?
What should these facts mean to us, today, who seek to obey God, and follow the Christ of the Bible, who seek to be TRUE followers of the Word of GOD?
The Seduction of the Church
"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" (article "Christmas"). Worldbook Encyclopedia
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 Christ was born. The Worldbook Encyclopedia goes on to say, "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 [sic], they made the Yule log an important part of their Christmas ceremonies."
Where Did the Christmas Tree Come From?
One of the most pervasive customs of Christmas, today, is the bringing home and decorating of a "Christmas tree." Where did this custom come from?
Coffin in The Book of Christmas Folklore tells us:
"Most people have heard that the Christmas tree originates in the tannenbaum and is some sort of vestige of Teutonic vegetation worship. THIS IS PARTIALLY TRUE. However, the custom of using pine and other evergreens ceremonially was well established at the ROMAN SATURNALIA, even earlier in Egypt" (p.209).
Writes Alexander Hislop in The Two Babylons,
"The Christmas tree, now so common among us, was equally common in Pagan Rome and Pagan Egypt. In Egypt that tree was the palm tree; in Rome it was the fir; the palm tree denoting the Pagan Messiah, as Baal-Tamar, the fir referring to him as Baal-Berith. The mother of Adonis, the Sun-God and great mediatorial divinity, was mystically said to have been changed into a tree, and when in that state to have brought forth her divine son. If the mother was a tree, the son must have been recognized as the 'Man the branch.' And this entirely accounts for the putting of the Yule Log into the fire on Christmas Eve, and the appearance of the Christmas tree the next morning" (page 97).
Tree worship was very common among the ancients. Says Festivals, Holy Days, and Saints' Days,
"The Christmas tree . . . recapitulates the idea of tree worship. . . gilded nuts and balls symbolizing the sun . . . all the festivities of the [heathen] winter solstice have been absorbed into Christmas Day . . . the use of holly and mistletoe to the Druidic ceremonies; the Christmas tree to the honours paid to Odin's sacred fir . . ." (p.236).
The following is from Coffins in Christmas Folklore:
"This idea of decorating homes on holidays is both worldwide and age-old. . . So the Saturnalian laurel, the Teutonic holly, the Celtic mistletoe, and the Mexican poinsettia have all attached themselves to this polyglot ceremony . . .
"Many of the plants used at Christmas are SYMBOLS OF FERTILITY. Certainly any evergreen (fir, yew, laurel) with its ability to return verdure in the barrens months is appropriate, but by far the most interesting are the holly, the ivy, and the mistletoe. Holly, with its pricking leaves, white flowers, and red berries symbolizes the male reproductive urge. In fact, in the English carols . . . the holly is the male and the ivy is the female. This use of the plants was most likely BORROWED by the Christians along with other customs of the ROMAN SATURNALIA" (p.22-23).
Ivy, holly's mate, in ancient Grecian rites took its name from the girl who danced with such abandon and joy before Dionysius that she fell dead at his feet. The pagan god, moved by her dance, turned her into the ivy that she might entwine whatever is near. Dionysius, of course, was the Greek version of the god of wine and revelry, another form of Bacchus, Tammuz, or Nimrod!
Mistletoe, since the earliest of times, has been regarded as mysterious and sacred, the symbol of the sun, bestower of life, an aphrodisiac, and protector against disease and poison. The plant was especially sacred to the Celtic Druids who offered it in prayer to the gods. The mistletoe was referred to by pagans as the "golden bough." The two great holidays when the pagans gathered mistletoe were Midsummer Day, the summer solstice, and December 25, the winter solstice. It was supposed to posses the power of revealing treasures in the earth, and was formed into a "divining rod." It was also looked upon as the "seat of life" of the sacred oak, and as an emanation of the sun's fire. Kissing under the mistletoe is a survival of Saturnalian sexual licentiousness and debauched immoral behavior, which was commonplace at the Saturnalia.
What about Dear Old "Santa Claus"?
"Some of Santa Claus's characteristics date back many centuries. For example, the belief that Santa enters the house through the chimney developed from an old Norse legend. The Norse believed that the goddess Hertha appeared in the fireplace and brought good luck to the home."
Although most people assume that the original "Santa Claus" was a bishop by the name of St. Nicholas of Asia Minor of the fourth century, this is not really true. Although some of this bishop's deeds later came to be associated with "St. Nick," the original "Nicholas" was once again Nimrod, the "mighty one against the Lord." The word "Nicholas" means "mighty one, powerful." We should also recall the Nicolaitan spirit of priest craft or control that Jesus says twice in Rev 2:6&15 that He HATES.
Traditions of a "god" who gave gifts under an evergreen tree antecede the Asian Minor bishop by thousands of years! Among the Scandinavians it was the god Odin or Woden who left special gifts during the Yuletide season under the evergreen tree, his sacred tree!
Tony van Renterghem writes in When Santa Was a Shaman: The Ancient Origins of Santa Claus & the Christmas Tree:
"In newly Christianized areas where the pagan Celtic and Germanic cults remained strong, legends of the god Wodan were blended with those of various Christian saints; Saint Nicholas was one of these. There were Christian areas where Saint Nicholas ruled alone; in other locations, he was assisted by the pagan Dark Helper (the slave he had inherited from the pagan god Wodan). In other remote areas . . . ancient pockets of the Olde Religion controlled traditions. Here the Dark Helper ruled alone, sometimes in a most confusing manner, using the cover name of Saint Nicholas or 'Klaus,' without in any way changing his threatening, Herne/Pan, fur-clad appearance. (This was the figure later used by the artist Nast as the model for the early American Santa Claus)" (page 96).
The Catholic Saint Nicholas also had a confusing past. According to van Renterghem, "He was a compilation of two separate saints (one from Myra in Asia Minor, the other from Pinora), both of whom were -- as the Church nowadays admits -- nothing more than Christianized water deities (possibly related to the Greco-Roman god Poseidon/Neptune)" (ibid.). In the 1970s, the Second Vatican Council formally stated that no Roman Catholic bishop by the name of Nicholas had ever existed! Vatican II further confessed that the legends attributed to this "saint" had no Christian origin, and probably came from pagan traditions!
Tony van Renterghem, wites:
"By absorbing such PAGAN FEASTS AND TRADITIONS, the Christian Church could subtly bring in its own theology: in this case, establishing the good Saint Nicholas, bringer of love and gifts, while grudgingly allowing the presence of the Olde Religion's Herne/Pan, but only as a slave to Saint Nicholas. Thus, in parts of Europe, the Church turned Herne into Saint Nicholas' captive, chained Dark Helper; none other than Satan, the Dark One, symbolic of all evil. . . .
"In Holland and several other European countries, the Saint Nicholas figure is still highly esteemed. He appears as a tall, dignified, bearded, white-haired old man, dressed as a Catholic bishop, complete with cloak, mytre, and pastoral staff, a seemingly genuine Catholic saint, but with a bizarre, quite unsaintly habit of riding through the skies on a white horse, followed by his Dark Helper. It seems that our Catholic saint inherited some of these customs from the pagan god Wodan, who had also been a BEARDED, WHITE- HAIRED OLD MAN, also dressed in a hat and cloak, carried a staff (or spear), rode a white horse, and dragged along the same dark slave/helper on a chain" (p.97).
So much for old "Santa Claus"! This mythological figure, also, is pagan to the core!
The Dutch "Sinterklaas" brings gifts to good children, while bad children are harassed by the "Dark Helper," called Zwarte Pier, or "Black Pete," who brandishes a broom-like rod. Like Santa Claus, Sinterklaas also had the habit of entering homes through the chimney! His helper, "Black Pete," is today, still horned, fur-clad, scary, and less than kind to children. Although portrayed as the slave helper of Saint Nicholas, the two are, in many villages, blended into one character, who often has the name Nikolaas or Klaus. Thus "Santa Claus" is blended with, and is none other than, that old enemy of mankind, Satan the devil!
"In Germany, Saint Nicholas' Dark Helper is a swarthy, horned, frightening little man, always brandishing the besom [broom]. He is known by many names: Knecht Ruprecht (servant Ruprecht), or in Bavaria, Pelz Nickel, meaning 'fur-clad Nick.' In Tyrol, the picture is even clearer; there the Dark Helper is Kllaubau, a scarier version of the British Herne the Hunter, a chained, furry, black-faced horned creature" (p.103-105).
Who was this Odin, or Woden, the original "Santa Claus"? He was the chief god of Norse mythology, a fierce fighter who carried a spear as his special weapon. He was renown as a mighty hunter, and for his magical powers. This same author declares, further, of the connection between Odin/Wodan and Saint Nicholas:
"Wodan/Odin: The Germanic/Nordic sun god; man's friend, the mysterious Schimmel rider. Dragging his dark and devilish slave Eckhart along on a chain, he rides through the stormy skies. He leads the Wild Hunt, eluding, and finally subjugating, the powers of evil. He also wears a broad-brimmed hat, a wide mantel, holds his spear, and rides through the skies (replace his hat with a bishop's mytre and the spear with a crozier, and we have the Dutch Saint Nicholas)" (p.111).
In other words, Odin was another name for Nimrod, who, the Bible says, was "the mighty hunter before [the Hebrew word for "before" also means "against"] the LORD" (Genesis 10:9). Nimrod's reputation as a mighty hunter was widespread.
Says Alexander Hislop, "The Wodan or Odin of Scandinavia can be proved to be the Adon of Babylon" (The Two Babylons, p.133-134). Nimrod, Adon, or Adonis, of Babylon was the great "war-god." Odin was the same. Nimrod, in the character of Bacchus, was the god of wine. Odin was said to partake of no other food but wine. The name of one of Odin's sons, Balder, indicates the meaning of Odin's own name. Balder is a form of the Chaldee Baal-zer, "The seed of Baal." The Hebrew "z" in the later Chaldee frequently became a "d." Baal and Adon both signify "Lord." Since Balder is the "son of Baal," as well as the "son of Adon," or "Odin," then Baal, Adon, and Odin must be the same person -- representative of Nimrod, the first human to be deified and proclaimed by the pagans as a "god" after the Deluge!
"Santa Claus," then, is not so innocent and cherubic a figure after all! Why do parents take their young children, sit them on "Santa's lap," and insist on teaching them Santa Claus myths? The word "Santa," rearranged, spells "S-A-T-A-N," and "Claus" is reminiscent of "Claws" -- in other words, "SATAN'S CLAWS"! Do you want Satan, the arch-enemy of mankind, to get his "claws" into your children? By teaching them Santa Claus myths, and taking them to "Christmas parties," with "Santa Claus" handing out "gifts," you are subtly teaching your children to worship Satan the devil, the great impostor!
The True Origin of "Christmas"
It is indeed strange that a day never mentioned or sanctioned in the Bible should become the chief so-called "Christian" holiday of the entire year -- a day never celebrated by Jesus Christ, or His apostles, or the early New Testament Church of God!
What is the actual origin of the celebration of December 25? A careful look at the word "Christmas" itself ought to tell us something. Notice! It itself is a mixture. Though it includes the name of Christ, it also mentions the "mass." Where did the "mass" -- with its rituals, elaborate ceremony, pagan prayers for the dead, transubstantiation rites, etc. -- come from?
Alexander Hislop in his remarkable book The Two Babylons, points out that the "mass" is something that definitely goes back to ancient PAGAN customs and rites! He declares in plain and clear language:
"Therefore we find the women of Judah represented as simply 'burning incense, pouring out drink-offerings, and offering CAKES to the queen of heaven' (Jer. 44:19). The cakes were the 'unbloody sacrifice' she required. . . . In the FOURTH CENTURY, when the queen of heaven, under the name of Mary, was beginning to be worshipped in the Christian Church, this 'unbloody sacrifice' also was brought in. Epiphanius states that the practice of offering and eating it began among `women of Arabia; and at that time it was well known to have been ADOPTED FROM THE PAGANS. The very shape of the unbloody sacrifice of Rome may indicate when it came. It is a small thin, round wafer; and on its roundness the Church of Rome lays so much stress . . . . The importance, however, which Rome attaches to the roundness of the wafer, must have a reason; and that reason will be found, if we look at the altars of EGYPT. 'The thin, round cake,' says Wilkinson, 'occurs on all altars.' Almost every jot or tittle in the Egyptian worship had a symbolical meaning. The round disk, so frequent in the sacred emblems of Egypt, symbolized the sun" (The Two Babylons, p.159-160).
The "sun-god" in ancient Egypt was Osiris. The round disk of the Egyptian "mass" symbolized the sun, and was an offering symbolizing the sun-god. He was considered the life and nourishment of the souls of men!
The "Christ-mass" therefore is nothing more than the celebration of the birth of the "sun-god" himself, the False Messiah, the False "Saviour" of the world, and the "mass" itself also represents the offering or "cakes" made to the queen of heaven, the "Mother" of the pagan Saviour, the "unbloody sacrifice"! Again, "Christ-mass" is proved to be PAGAN to the core!
It is a fact that December 25 was celebrated for thousands of years before the birth of Christ as the birth day of an ancient pagan god -- THE SUN GOD! Alexander Hislop points out the truth in these shocking words -- at least, they ought to be shocking to anybody with a clear, undefiled, and conscientious mind:
"Indeed, it is admitted by the most learned and candid writers of all parties that the day of our Lord's birth cannot be determined, and that within the Christian Church no such festival as Christmas was ever heard of till the third century, and that not till the fourth century was far advanced did it gain much observance. How, then, did the Romish Church fix on December the 25th as Christmas-day? Why, thus: Long before the fourth century, and long before the Christian era itself, a festival was celebrated among the heathen, at that precise time of the year, in honour of the birth of the son of the Babylonian queen of heaven; and it may fairly be presumed that, in order to conciliate the heathen, and to swell the number of the nominal adherents of Christianity, the SAME FESTIVAL WAS ADOPTED by the Roman Church, giving it only the name of Christ. This tendency on the part of Christians to MEET PAGANISM HALF-WAY was very early developed. . . . Upright men strove to stem the tide, but in spite of all their efforts, the apostasy went on, till the Church, with the exception of a small remnant, was submerged under Pagan superstition" (p.93).
Hislop goes on,
"That Christmas was originally a Pagan festival, is beyond all doubt. The time of the year, and the ceremonies with which it is still celebrated, prove its origin. In Egypt, the son of Isis, the Egyptian title for the queen of heaven, was born at this very time, 'about the time of the winter solstice.' The very name by which Christmas is popularly known among ourselves -- Yule-day -- proves at once its Pagan and Babylonian origin. 'Yule' is the Chaldee name for an 'infant' or 'little child;' and as the 25th of December was called by our Pagan Anglo- Saxon ancestors, 'Yule-day,' or the "Child's day,' and the night that preceded it, 'Mother-night,' long BEFORE they came in contact with Christianity, that sufficiently proves its real character" (pp.93-94).
December 25th was observed far and wide among the ancient world. This day was "The birth-day of the unconquered Sun." The Yule log represented the dead stock of the slain Nimrod, arch-apostate rebel against the Lord after the flood (see Genesis 10:8-10), and the Christmas-tree was supposedly Nimrod reborn -- the slain god come to life again!
In Europe, the Saxons offered a boar in sacrifice to the sun, to propitiate the queen of heaven on Christmas day. The boar, in pagan mythology, was supposed to have slain the false pagan Messiah. The boar was also a major article of the feast of Saturn at Rome. The boar's head is still a standing dish in England at Christmas dinner. Says Hislop: "There can be no doubt, then, that the Pagan festival at the winter solstice -- in other words, Christmas -- was held in honor of the birth of the Babylonian Messiah" (p.102).
The largest pagan religious cult which fostered sun worship in the Greek and Roman worlds on December 25 was the cult of Mithraism. They called it "the Nativity of the Sun." Mithras, the sun-god, was supposed to have been born at this time, but so were Osiris, Horus, Tammuz, Hercules, Bacchus, Adonis, Jupiter -- all the pagan Messiahs! This fact alone would seem to indicate that all these pagan sun-gods and deities trace their roots back to the original sun-god of ancient Babylon -- Nimrod!
This popular winter festival became such an established custom that in pagan Rome and Greece, Egypt, and throughout Europe, the period of the winter solstice was a time of great revelry and festivity. In Rome it became known as the "Saturnalia," in honor of the god Saturn, "the hidden one." Saturn was another name for Nimrod, who late in his apostasy went into hiding from Shem, the son of Noah. The "feast of Saturn," Hislop adds, "lasted five days; loose reins were given to drunkenness and revelry, slaves had a temporary emancipation, and used all manner of freedoms with their masters. This was precisely the way in which, according to Berosus, the drunken festival of the month Thebeth, answering to our December, in other words, the festival of Bacchus, was celebrated in Babylon" (p.96-97).
The following is form T. G. Crippen in Christmas and Christmas Lore,
"Now in December and the beginning of January there were several festivals which were intimately associated with the daily life of the Roman people. First, from the 17th to the 21st December, was the Saturnalia, the great Roman holiday . . . One might call it the Feast of Topsy-turveydom; when slaves were allowed for a few days to enjoy the semblance of freedom, were waited upon by their masters, and chose from amongst themselves a mock king to preside over their revels. Next, on the 22nd, came Sigillaria, the Feast of Dolls, when a fair was held, and dolls and other toys, mostly of earthenware, were given to children. Then, on 25th, came Brumalia, other-wise Dies Natalis Invicti Solis, The Birthday of the Unconquered Sun, when the days began to lengthen after the solstice. . . . It is believed to have been instituted . . . by the emperor Aurelian, in honour of Mithras, the Persian sun-god . . ." (p.8-9).
Clearly, the pagan customs of Christmas had nothing remotely to do with Christ, or the Word of God. Clearly, they had nothing to offer to the Church of God, as they were the very opposite of true Christianity which is the occult realm of Satan! 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 monstrous mystery!
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, Jesus. Most people today still think of December 25 as the birth day of Jesus, even though this is definitely not the case.
This pagan "bash" was transformed by the Catholic Church into the festivities of Christmas, in honor of the Madonna and Child. Thus the pagan Semiramis (Egyptian Isis) and Tammuz (Horus) were "transformed," by sleight of hand, by the "magicians" of the Roman Church, into Mary and Jesus. In this manner, the pagan practices of the past centuries became outwardly "Christian" in name and character! For almost 300 years after the time of Jesus, the Church showed no concern for the date of Christ's birth. The apostles and leaders of the New Testament Church never bothered to find out when Jesus was born, as the date was not important to them. It was not until the fourth century that Christmas began to be observed by the Roman Catholic Church.
"Christmas -- it was according to many authorities not celebrated in the first centuries of the Christian Church as the Christian usage in general was to celebrate the death of remarkable persons rather than their birth. A feast was established in memory of the birth of the Saviour in the Fourth Century. In the Fifth Century the Western Church ordered it to be celebrated forever on the day of the old Roman Feast of the birth of Sol." Encyclopedia Americana:
That is how an ancient PAGAN CUSTOM became engrafted upon the unsuspected Christian world! But should true followers of Christ, the Messiah, participate in ANCIENT PAGAN CUSTOMS? Should true Christians celebrate "Christmas"?
The Puritans, who were Christians attempting to reform the Church during the 1600's, did not believe Christmas should be observed. This "baptism" of pagan rites and festivals by the Roman Catholic and the vast majority of the Protestant Churches, was totally rejected by the Puritans. One of them, William Prynne, during the time of king Charles I, wrote:
"Our Christmas lords of Misrule, together with dancing, masques, mummeries, stage-players, and such other Christmas disorders, now in use with Christians, were derived from these Roman Saturnalia and Bacchanalian festivals; which should cause all pious Christians eternally to abominate them" (The Book of Christmas Folklore, p.8).
Because of his attitude toward Christmas and pagan rituals still observed by the professing Christian Church, William Prynne was punished, imprisoned and had his ears cut off.
Should Christians Observe "Christmas"?
Should Christians today celebrate this ancient festival? Many today may think it is all right, but the opinions of men are not our standard or authority. What does the Word of God itself say about this matter? It is a very serious question. Is it all right in the sight of God for men to take pagan customs and traditions, and to observe them, calling them "Christian"? Is it all right to merge and combine PAGAN practices with the truth of God?
According to the prophet Malachi, God does not change (Mal.3:8). His laws and commandments are eternal (Psa.111:7-8). Does God say it is all right to observe the traditions and customs of the pagans?
God commanded ancient Israel, "Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, I am the LORD your God. After the doings of the land of Egypt, wherein ye dwelt, shall ye not do: and after the doings of the land of Canaan, whither I bring you, shall ye not do: neither shall ye walk in their ordinances. Ye shall do my judgments, and keep mine ordinances, to walk therein: I am the LORD your God." (Lev.18:2-4).
God hates idolatry! He detests it with vehement passion. He tells us, ". . . Be careful not to be ensnared by inquiring about their gods, saying, 'How do these nations serve their gods? We will do the same.' YOU must NOT WORSHIP THE LORD YOUR GOD IN THEIR WAY, because in worshiping their gods, they do all kinds of DETESTABLE THINGS the LORD HATES" (Deut.12:29-31).
Because of pagan idolatrous practices, God cast the Canaanites out of the Promised Land. They were worshippers of Baal, or Nimrod, Tammuz, the sun god, the pagan Messiah, the god of wine and revelry. They worshipped the evergreen tree, and used it as a symbol of their god. They observed December 25, in worship of the waning sun, and their sun-god divinity. This whole religious system stemmed from ancient Babylon, the fount of all heresy and apostasy.
Their sensuality and gross lasciviousness was particularly displayed during the mid-winter festival, called the Saturnalia in Rome, with gift-giving, drunkenness, and sexual licentiousness. God says of such rites,
Lev 18:25 And the land is defiled: therefore I do visit the iniquity thereof upon it, and the land itself vomiteth out her inhabitants.
Lev 18:26 Ye shall therefore keep my statutes and my judgments, and shall not commit any of these abominations; neither any of your own nation, nor any stranger that sojourneth among you:
Lev 18:27 (For all these abominations have the men of the land done, which were before you, and the land is defiled;)
Lev 18:28 That the land spue not you out also, when ye defile it, as it spued out the nations that were before you.
Lev 18:29 For whosoever shall commit any of these abominations, even the souls that commit them shall be cut off from among their people.
Lev 18:30 Therefore shall ye keep mine ordinance, that ye commit not any one of these abominable customs, which were committed before you, and that ye defile not yourselves therein: I am the LORD your God.
Even such idolatrous items as the "Christmas tree" are condemned in the Word of God! Jeremiah the prophet wrote:
Jer 10:1 Hear ye the word which the LORD speaketh unto you, O house of Israel:
Jer 10:2 Thus saith the LORD, Learn not the way of the heathen, and be not dismayed at the signs of heaven; for the heathen are dismayed at them.
Jer 10:3 For the customs of the people are vain: for one cutteth a tree out of the forest, the work of the hands of the workman, with the ax.
Jer 10:4 They deck it with silver and with gold; they fasten it with nails and with hammers, that it move not.
Jer 10:5 They are upright as the palm tree, but speak not: they must needs be borne, because they cannot go. Be not afraid of them; for they cannot do evil, neither also is it in them to do good.
Even such idolatrous items as the "Christmas tree" are condemned in the Word of God! Jeremiah the prophet wrote: that ye defile not yourselves therein: I am the LORD your God.
Truly, the whole world has been deceived by Satan the devil and his clever masquerades and machinations (Rev.12:9).
"Wherefore say unto the house of Israel, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Are ye POLLUTED after the manner of your fathers? and commit ye WHOREDOM after the manner of THEIR ABOMINATIONS? . . . ye POLLUTE yourselves with all your IDOLS, even unto this day . . . . But as for you, O house of Israel, thus saith the Lord GOD: Go ye, serve ye every one his idols, and hereafter also, if ye will not hearken unto me: but POLLUTE YE MY HOLY NAME NO MORE with your gifts, and with your idols" (Ezek.20:30-39).
The very name "Christmas," combining the holy name of Christ with the pagan mass, POLLUTES and PROFANES God's holy name! The celebration of these ancient pagan festivals, calling them "Christian," is an abomination in the sight of God! God will not accept such pagan, superstitious worship!
Jesus said to His disciples, "John 8:32 And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.
YOU SHALL KNOW THE TRUTH, and the truth will set you FREE" -- free from the shackles of error, superstition, mythology, and pagan deception!
Christmas is pagan. There is no doubt about it. The question is: What are you going to do about it? May God help you to make the right decision, so you can inherit eternal life, and reign with the saints forever (Rev.2:26-27; 5:10; 20:4).
Should You Observe Easter
This spring, most of Christendom will observe the ancient rite of Easter, saying that it commemorates Messiah's resurrection. Many who do so acknowledge that the name, Easter, and its seasonal observance long predate Christianity--in paganism! However, they reason that since it is now a widely accepted, traditional Christian practice, Messiah appreciates it.
But other people look in the Bible and come to a different conclusion. These Messianic Believers will observe the Messianic Passover as Yeshua originally ordained it and as the early Church originally observed it.
How did the Easter celebration come into Christianity? Do the Scriptures give us guidance about selecting religious traditions and practices for observance? To which did Messiah say we should keep a memorial--His sacrifice or His resurrection?
"Christianizing" the Festivals of Ancient Sex Goddesses?
The origins of pre-Messianic Easter festivals in pagan cultures are well-known in history. In the ancient world, some of the greatest female deities were the various incarnations of the great fertility goddesses known as Ishtar (Babylonian), Astarte (Phoenician), Atargatis (Philistine), Ashtoreth (Hebrew), Eastre(Anglo-Saxon), Ostara (German) and Aphrodite (Greek).
These goddesses are regarded as essentially the same deity due to the similarities of their names, mythologies, worship and festivals. These factors are what define a deity as its worship moves between cultures. The primary fertility festivals for these deities--and their associated male gods--were in the spring, a time of renewal and birth.
In The Myth of the Goddess, Anne Baring and Jules Cashford write, "Now we read everywhere of goddesses and gods who take their being from one Primordial Goddess who is the origin of all things.... She is single yet she marries; she is a virgin and mother; and sometimes her son becomes her consort. As before, she gives life and takes it away. The goddess has many names and many different tales are told about her, but one story is unvarying throughout the Near East. The goddess becomes separated from the one she loves, who dies or seems to die, and falls into a darkness called 'the Underworld.' This separation is reflected in nature as a loss of light and fertility. The goddess descends to overcome the darkness so that her loved one may return to the light, and life may continue.
"Aphrodite is primarily a descendant of the Mesopotamian Goddess Inanna-Ishtar, who became Astarte in Phoenicia and was called Atargatis by the Philistines, and Ashtoreth by the Hebrews. Inanna's consort, Dumuzi, and Ishtar's Tammuz became, in the Greek tradition, Aphrodite's Adonis, the dying and resurrected son-lover of the goddess in a new form.
"The Greek goddess Aphrodite loses her lover, the beautiful Adonis.... Now the goddess no longer rescues him herself, but has to ask the g-d Zeus to allow him to return to life from spring to autumn, the fertile season of the earth. Finally, Yeshua, son of the Virgin Mother, Mary, dies.... Messiah is 'rescued' by his Father in Heaven, but, like the others, his return coincides with the date of the earth's regeneration. Easter is celebrated on the Sunday following the first full moon after the spring equinox, so that Messiah's resurrection, like those before him, also reflects the turning of winter into spring" (pp. 145-147, 359).
Another author, Joseph Campbell, drew the conclusion that the Messianic practice of Easter "occurs on the date of the annual resurrection of Adonis, which in the Messianic cult became Easter. In both the pagan cult and the Messianic, the resurrection is of a g-d" (Occidental Mythology, p. 138).
These authors are expressing a view commonly held among modern, secular historians that there was a significant continuity in "Christianized" Gentile cultures with their pagan past. They had a tendency, over time, to superimpose Messianic themes as a veneer over their existing pagan practices, which were already deeply ingrained in their societies and psyches. They are saying that in history, the Messianic version of Easter as a memorial to Messiah's resurrection is essentially a modification of an earlier pagan resurrection festival. The practice did not originate in Christianity.
Unfortunately, when the Gentile churches reverted to the cultural rites that they were more comfortable with, they abandoned essential instructions from Messiah and the apostles. While it is true that most of Christendom observes Easter saying that it commemorates Messiah's resurrection, the observance that the Bible actually ordains for Messiah is not a memorial specifically to His resurrection but, quite the opposite, a memorial to His sacrificial death.
It is important to remember that, as the above quotes show, by the time of Messiah and the early Messianic Church, the Gentile cultures of Asia Minor and the Mediterranean already had ancient cultural roots involving spring festivals associated with fertility, rebirth and resurrection. These fertility festivals occurred around the time of the Passover when the paschal lamb was sacrificed by Jews as a memorial of the Exodus. But when Messiah instructed His followers to keep the Passover with a new, Messianic meaning, it became a memorial to His sacrifice as the Lamb of G-d--not a memorial to His resurrection. Messiah avoided confusing the meaning of His memorial with the well-known pagan customs of His time and antiquity.
Actually, the time of the saints' resurrection from the dead at the return of Yeshua Messiah (1 Cor. 15:12-20, 50-52) is pictured by the Feast of Trumpets, which takes place during the fall Holy Days (Lev. 23:24), not during the spring. As we shall see shortly, the practice and the meaning of the Messianic Passover are explicitly taught in the Bible and were taught by the first century, apostolic Church.
Yet, as Christianity spread into Gentile areas, with passing generations, some churches tended to gravitate back toward prior pagan cultural practices of their own societies and away from religious practices for which some in their societies held negative associations with Judaism.
As a result, the proper observance of Pasch, or Passover, was changed both in its time and meaning. Historians in orthodox Christianity acknowledge the transformation. The New Catholic Encyclopedia explains, "Not only was the significance of the Jewish feast changed by the Messianic Believers, but also the date. The Jewish method of fixing the date, the 14th of Nisan, did not confine it to any one [Roman calendar] day; at a very early time [Roman] Messianic Believers assigned their Pasch to the Sunday following the Jewish feast" (1967, vol. 5, p. 7). Pasch is Latin for Passover. But upon the change of date and meaning, this celebration is more appropriately identified by the English word 'Easter.'
"The Asiatic practice in the 2d century of observing Easter [Pasch] on the day of the Jewish Passover conflicted with the Roman custom of celebrating Easter on Sunday, the day of the Resurrection.... Originally both observances were allowed, but gradually it was felt incongruous that Messianic Believers should celebrate Easter on a Jewish feast, and unity in celebrating the principal Messianic feast was called for" (p. 8).
"Quartodecimanism [the practice of observing Pasch or Passover on Nisan 14 of the Hebrew calendar], prevalent in Asia Minor and Syria in the 2d century, emphasized the death of Messiah, the true Paschal victim (John 18:28; 19:42), while Roman practice emphasized the observance of Sunday as the day of the Resurrection.... As Christianity separated from Judaism, Gentile Messianic Believers objected to observing the principal Messianic feast on the same day as the Jewish Passover" (vol. 12, p. 13).
Christianized Veneer or Solid Scriptural Practice?
It is clear that Easter is a Christianized pagan festival! While many who celebrate Easter acknowledge this, they argue that doing it in honor of Messiah makes it okay. But in His Word, G-d strongly condemns this kind of reasoning and practice. Notice how He instructed Israel:
"When the L-RD your G-d cuts off from before you the nations which you go to dispossess, and you displace them and dwell in their land, 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.' You shall not worship the L-RD your G-d in that way; for every abomination to the L-RD which He hates they have done to their gods; for they burn even their sons and daughters in the fire to their gods. Whatever I command you, be careful to observe it; you shall not add to it nor take away from it" (Deut. 12:29-32).
G-d clearly tells us to avoid recycling pagan religious customs for His worship. We are to worship G-d as He instructs, not as we might reason on our own. Keeping Easter certainly adds to what G-d instructed, and as we shall see, rejecting the Messianic Passover certainly takes away from what we are told to do as Messianic Believers.
Messiah said, "'This people honors Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me. And in vain they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.' For laying aside the commandment of G-d, you hold the tradition of men" (Mark 7:6-8).
And Paul cautioned the Romans, "Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one's slaves whom you obey, whether of sin to death, or of obedience to righteousness?" (Rom. 6:16).
The Gospels' Witness About What to Do
Some people may be surprised to learn that the New Testament gospels have a lot to say about the actual practice that Yeshua and His disciples followed the night before Yeshua's death: "And He sent Peter and John, saying, 'Go and prepare the Passover for us, that we may eat'... So they went and found it just as He had said to them, and they prepared the Passover.... When the hour had come, He sat down, and the twelve apostles with Him. Then He said to them, 'With fervent desire I have desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer; for I say to you, I will no longer eat of it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of G-d.'
"Then He took the cup, and gave thanks, and said, 'Take this and divide it among yourselves; for I say to you, I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of G-d comes.' And He took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, 'This is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me.' Likewise He also took the cup after supper, saying, 'This cup is the new covenant in My blood, which is shed for you'" (Luke 22:8, 13-20). Earlier, He had washed the disciples' feet and instructed them to do the same for each other (John 13:1-15).
Messiah said that they were eating the Passover and that they should "do this in remembrance of Me." He commanded them to keep that night as a memorial to Him, and He showed them the manner in which to keep it, using unleavened bread as a symbol of His body and wine as a symbol of His blood.
When Should This Paschal Worship Take Place?
Now notice on what day of the Hebrew calendar these events took place. It is important to note that by Israelite reckoning, a day begins at sunset and ends with sunset the next day.
The Jewish Passover, which is a high day and a Sabbath, falls on Nisan 15 of the Hebrew calendar and begins at the evening ending Nisan 14 (Lev. 23:5-6). In the time of Messiah, the Jews killed the Passover lamb the afternoon of Nisan 14 at about the hour Messiah, the Lamb of G-d, died at the hands of the Romans. Messiah's last supper took place at the beginning of Nisan 14, on the evening before the crucifixion. That night He was betrayed by Judas, denied by Peter and beaten before the high priest (Matt. 26:30-75; John 18:1-27).
The following morning--still Nisan 14--He was tried by Pilate, condemned, scourged and crucified (Matt. 27; John 18:28-40). Notice in John 19:31 that Messiah had to be buried before evening "because it was the Preparation Day, that the bodies should not remain on the cross on the Sabbath (for that Sabbath was a high day)." These scriptures show conclusively that the Passover memorial that Messiah ordained was on the evening that began Nisan 14. This was the evening before the Jewish Passover celebration, which was held in the evening beginning Nisan 15.
The Meaning Behind the Symbols
We now have seen what Messiah instructed His followers to observe as a memorial to Him, and when they were to keep it. But why did He say to do this? The Apostle John preserved Yeshua's explanation of the why of the Passover bread and wine in his gospel: "'I am the bread of life.... I am the living bread which came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread that I shall give is My flesh, which I shall give for the life of the world.' The Jews therefore quarreled among themselves, saying, 'How can this Man give us His flesh to eat?' Then Yeshua said to them, 'Most assuredly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you. Whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day'" (John 6:48, 51-54).
Messiah is Our Passover
The events described in the book of Exodus prefigured the death and purpose of the true Passover Lamb. The Israelites were instructed to take a lamb to be slain. "Your lamb shall be without blemish, a male of the first year.... Now you shall keep it until the fourteenth day... the congregation of Israel shall kill it at twilight. And they shall take some of the blood and put it on the two doorposts and on the lintel of the houses where they eat it. Then they shall eat the flesh on that night.... For I will pass through the land of Egypt on that night, and will strike all the firstborn.... Now the blood shall be a sign for you on the houses where you are. And when I see the blood, I will pass over you" (12:5-8, 12-13).
The events of the Exodus pictured what would be fulfilled later in Yeshua Messiah. Yeshua Messiah, the Lamb of G-d, is our Passover sacrifice. As the Apostle Paul reminded the Corinthians, "For indeed Messiah, our Passover, was sacrificed for us" (1 Cor. 5:7).
Messiah's sacrifice is absolutely essential for our salvation, because without it our sins cannot be forgiven. The Bible teaches that "all have sinned and fall short of the glory of G-d" (Rom. 3:23), and that "the wages of sin is death, but the gift of G-d is eternal life through Yeshua Messiah our L-rd" (Rom. 6:23). Through the blood of the Lamb of G-d (John 1:29), our sins are forgiven--passed over--and we are reconciled with the Father.
We cannot give ourselves eternal life. Good works and repentance from sin are the results of our living faith, but all the good works in the world cannot save us, because our works do not justify our past sins. Only the blood of Yeshua Messiah does that, and only G-d has eternal life to give. "For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of G-d, not of works, lest anyone should boast" (Eph. 2:8-9).
Notice how Paul explained it in Romans 5:8-9: "G-d demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Messiah died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood..." Paul reveals that by Messiah's sacrifice we are now cleansed from our past sins. Continuing, he said, "We shall be saved from wrath through Him. For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to G-d through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life" (vv. 9-10).
We have a living, resurrected Savior, and our hope for eternal life is by resurrection through Him. Yeshua Messiah's resurrection is of great importance to Messianic Believers, but we were not given a spring festival to commemorate it.
The Apostle Paul's Teaching
What did the Apostolic Church teach and practice? When instructing the Church at Corinth, Paul wrote, "For I received from the L-rd that which I also delivered to you: that the L-rd Yeshua on the same night in which He was betrayed [the evening of the beginning of Nisan 14] took bread; and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, 'Take, eat; this is My body which is broken for you; do this in remembrance of Me.' In the same manner He also took the cup after supper, saying, 'This cup is the new covenant in My blood. This do, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.' For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the L-rd's death till He comes" (1 Cor. 11:23-26).
This is an explicit instruction from Paul for the Church to keep the Passover as a memorial--at the very same time, in the same manner and with the same meaning that Messiah instructed His disciples.
Whereas the Messianic Passover pictures the forgiveness of sins through the sacrifice of the Lamb of G-d, the Days of Unleavened Bread--the week following the Passover--also have great meaning for Messianic Believers. During the Days of Unleavened Bread, the Israelites were to have put all leavening out of their homes (Deut. 16:3-4). Leavening is a biblical symbol for sin, and the removal of leavening foreshadowed the cleansing of Messianic Believers, from sin and also prefigured the ongoing repentance from the sin that takes place after an individual accepts Yeshua as L-rd and Savior.
The Apostle Paul commanded the Corinthians, "Therefore purge out the old leaven, that you may be a new lump, since you truly are unleavened. For indeed Messiah, our Passover, was sacrificed for us. Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth" (1 Cor. 5:7-8).
In the Bible, we have clear instructions from the Apostle Paul and Yeshua Messiah concerning the time, manner and meaning of the observance of the Messianic Passover. While it is clear that this was the teaching and practice of Paul and the Corinthian Church, it is also interesting to note that this doctrine continued into the second, third and fourth centuries A.D. in the churches in Asia Minor, which were raised up by Paul and frequented by the Apostle John in his old age.
The Roman church, which advocated the observance of Easter, labeled those who continued the practice of observing a Messianic Passover on Nisan 14 as "Quartodecimans"--from the Latin for "four and ten." The eastern or Asiatic churches, however, insisted on continuing in the faith delivered to them by the apostles.
Polycarp, a disciple of the Apostle John and Bishop of Smyrna, debated the issue (c. 155 A.D.) and asserted that he had been personally taught the proper observance by the Apostle John.
Later, "an attempt in 189-198 A.D. to impose Roman usage [Easter] proved unsuccessful in the face of a determined opposition led by Polycrates, Bishop of Ephesus [a church founded by the Apostle Paul].... All accepted the Roman practice except the Asiatic bishops. When Victor attempted coercion by excommunication, St. Iranaeus of Lyons intervened to restore peace (Eusebius, History Ecclesiastical, 5. 23-25). During the 3rd century Quartodecimanism waned; it persisted in some Asiatic communities down to the 5th century" (New Catholic Encyclopedia, 1967, vol. 5, p. 8; vol. 12, p. 13).
The fact that this practice dropped out of sight is not surprising. The Messianic Believers who continued Quartodecimanism were excommunicated and made anathema by the Roman church in the fourth century, and many suffered terrible persecution. It is clear that the Asiatic churches considered the keeping of the Passover on Nisan 14 to be an extremely important doctrine!
Actually, the practice of observing the Messianic Passover did not die out, but continues today as a faithful observance by the Global Church of G-d and other churches every spring on the evening beginning Nisan 14.
The Bible teaches that it is important for us to worship G-d as He commands--and to commemorate Messiah as He taught. We should not borrow religious practices from pagan cultures! This spring, most of Christendom will keep Easter, but some Messianic Believers, who faithfully follow Yeshua's instructions and the examples of the Apostles Paul and John, will joyfully continue the observance of the Messianic Passover. What about you?