’tis the Season; ugh! Part 2

As commented on part 1, Yirmeyahu [Jeremiah] 10 does indeed speak of taking a tree and putting gold and silver decorations on it as being a practice of foolish pagan idolatry. The descriptions are remarkably close to that of the christmas tree. The Torah says that we are not to adopt the methods of worship used by the nations around us to worship their idols and then use them to worship YHWH. In D’varim [Deuteronomy] 12:29-32 we are warned against being curious and then investigating the practices of idolatry. “Do not do so to YHWH your Elohim…” In the last verse we read the familiar “All the words I am commanding you, guard to do it – do not add to it nor take away from it.” YHWH gives us His own celebrations in V’yikrah [Leviticus] 23 and we are not to add or take away from these.

The most common responses to objections raised about christmas include, “We just do it for the kids”, or “That’s not what it means to me…” or “How can celebrating the birthday of jesus be wrong?” Since we are not commanded to observe the day nor are we given any example in Scripture of anyone who did, we may surmise that the event of christmas, the supposed celebration of the birth of Yisrael’s Messiah on December 25th, is a man made tradition. So then consider what Yahshuah said in Mark 7 in a debate with the Pharisees and Scribes over the tradition of ceremonially washing hands before eating. In vv.6-9 and in v.13, He included the words, “And in vain do they worship Me, teaching as teachings the commands of men, forsaking the command of Elohim [do not add to or take away from My Word] you hold fast the tradition of men…well do you set aside the command of Elohim in order to guard your tradition…nullifying the Word of Elohim through your tradition…” If you believe that Yahshuah is not only the Messiah but also the Word [Yochanan/John 1:1, 14] then by observance of OUR traditions we may nullify Yahshuah, causing Him to be misrepresented and to become of no effect.

The facts are easily searched out about the evergreen tree, the lights, decorations, wreaths, mistletoe, gifts, and even caroling, that they are all attached at the root of paganistic practices used to worship the rebirth of the sun/sun god/ba’al/mithra/zeus, as the shortest day of the year gives way to a lengthening of daylight hours. Fertility rituals that are commonly seen in modern christmas decorations were used since ancient times as suggestive and very sexual reminders of ba’al’s day. Further, and even worse, they resulted in wild, everything goes, drunken parties that mirrored modern day Mardi Gras in New Orleans or Carnival in Rio. Again I say, “Ugh!” and I need go no further.

I find that attaching the birth of my Messiah and Redeemer to the filthy, highly sexualized rituals and symbols of pagan idolatry not only insulting to Yahshuah but also blasphemous. There, I said it and I’m not taking it back. To those who feel that Yahshuah would not be upset with us making children happy and laughing, enjoying some gift giving among loved ones, and having a nice meal together as families, I ask, “Do you really think Messiah will wink at our desired ignorance and simply dose us up with enough grace to think nothing of it?” Despite the warnings of our traditions bringing His Word to no effect and the commands to not worship Him as the pagans do their idols, are we really going to follow ba’al’s day of symbols and rituals and then turn it around to name the celebration in Yahshuah’s honor? I leave you with Yahshuah’s own words from Revelation 18:4. “Come out of her My people, lest you share in her sins, and lest you receive of her plagues”.

’tis the Season; ugh!

While watching the TV the other night with my wife, we were dismayed at the number of commercials promoting christmas sales and gift ideas. Thanksgiving hasn’t arrived yet and the stores are filled with the gimmicky sales for the end of December. My bad attitude started rising and I could feel the dread of the whole thing in my mind. Every year I get accused of being a “Scrooge” about the nefarious holiday of christmas. Well, bah humbug indeed. 

Being raised in a good, solid, christian home, I grew up celebrating the day or season with the tree, lights, church plays, parties, and gifts. Early in our kid’s lives, my wife and I did as we had been trained to do and decorated and overspent for gifts. No matter how much we travelled, spent, or worked on lighting up the house, we quickly started thinking of how to improve things for next year. Yet I had this dull nagging thought in my mind that somehow the day was not what I imagined it to be. The christmas afterglow wasn’t all that great and the bills in January were completely deflating.

I don’t remember exactly who got me started down the road of investigating the holiday’s roots and origins, but I went to the books and computer to start reading. I immediately got frustrated in trying to defend my celebration and progressed to getting angry about being lied to. I got the same feeling I had as a kid finding out that santa wasn’t real. The realization that I was using the rituals and symbols of pagan fertility celebrations to announce the birth of the world’s Messiah broke me and after sharing with my wife and kids, we vowed to never do christmas again. My parents and siblings didn’t respond as positively and these many years later, the issue is still a bit of a problem. But I refuse to connect my Messiah with anything I believe to be a lie or false worship of idols and myths. 

That all being said, I still work in retail sales and have to assist customers making their purchases, ending the process by hearing, “merry christmas”. It is still an awkward moment for me. I don’t want to be intentionally offensive as that doesn’t open a door for me to share about Yahshuah to them, but I can’t respond in kind. I have resorted to replying, “I appreciate it” and proceed to the next sale. I know that some use the opportunity to conduct a full expose’ on the pagan origins but I have found that rarely makes for a positive end result. The door correctly opens when I’m asked if I’m ready for christmas and I can inform that I don’t celebrate the event and haven’t for years. That single moment of getting their attention enables me offer my explanation. Here is the important thing. My attitude about the event largely determines the success of my sharing. If I appear angry and resentful, I get no where. It takes a compassionate, gentle response with a smile that causes someone to pause long enough to genuinely listen. 

If you’re like me and my family, rejecting the holiday and resisting the season, I encourage to rejoice in the truth of YHWH”s Word and offer to Him thanks for the opportunity to witness of Him to others. If you’re still observing the day and season, defending your choice with, “that’s not what it means to me” or ” I’m just celebrating Jesus and giving to people I love; what’s wrong with that?”, I encourage you to look at the Scriptures and find where the Torah, Prophets, or Messianic Writings ever suggest that we observe the birth of Messiah in a party or celebration. I would ask you, “Do you celebrate the Feast Days that YHWH gave to us, where He promises to meet with us and rejoice with us?” Are you willing to ask the hard questions of yourself about the day’s origins and go to YHWH in prayer about what He thinks of the season? 

more to come in part 2.