The Idol of Christmas


From the Editor: We published this post last year and it wasn’t well received. No, we are not the Grinch who stole Christmas; but Christians should understand the origins of this most hallowed celebration. Much of the festivity surrounding the holiday has been borrowed from pagan traditions. YHWH exiled Israel and Judah for their idolatrous rebellion and disobedience in adopting pagan customs and traditions. Consider that Christians are not commanded to observe Christmas. Indeed, Yeshua taught at Passover that we observe His death — not His birth.  But for the millions who do celebrate the holiday we exhort that you truly remember the reason for the season; and avoid the commercial trappings and excesses which corrupt the Nativity story. We concede that to be a difficult task if you have children, but it is your greatest responsibility as a parent to bring your child up in the way of the LORD (Pr 22:6). The season is not about exchanging gifts but receiving the gift of God’s love and grace (Jn 3:16). Be blessed in our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

The Word of Our Lord:

Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you (Jn 14:27).

Michelle grew up believing in the Tooth Fairy, Easter Bunny and Santa Claus. Oh, the joy of finding a shiny quarter under her pillow; a colored egg under a fence post; and the unmatched excitement of opening presents from under the tree. She believed in Jesus, too. Her mother would drop her off for Sunday school, but the family never worshiped together as her parents did not attend church services.

As an older child, Michelle lost the innocence and joy of fanciful childhood fairy tales; and she wondered if the stories taught her in Sunday school were even true. She began to read her Bible every night; and though she possessed a heartfelt desire to believe in God, questions arose in her mind. After all, these things didn’t seem important to her parents. Why should they matter to her? She decided that the story of Jesus was no different than the fable of Santa Claus.

Michelle became an agnostic at the age of thirteen. (What are you teaching your children?)

What we are about to discuss will cause some readers to throw stones. Christmas, as it is celebrated by millions of people around the world, is NOT a celebration nor sacred recognition of the birth of Jesus Christ.

Exchanging gifts, decorating trees and hanging mistletoe are nothing but idolatry, a counterfeit Christmas.

Santa Claus, Christmas trees, and Jingle Bells are born of the traditions of men, and detract from the birth of Messiah. Granted, Sinterklaas was a real person (Saint Nicholas of Myra); a 4th Century Christian bishop who gave generously to the poor.

Everything else we know about Santa Claus is a creation of myth and fables. The Saint Nick who is worshiped today has become an idol of merchants and debtors; and is a sacrilege to the Nativity at Bethlehem.

Christmas evolved from the winter festivals of Saturnalia (Rome) and Yule (German) from which we get the word Yuletide. These annual feasts celebrated pagan gods such as the white bearded Odin who supposedly rode his horse across the wintry skies of northern Europe delivering gifts to all the children.

The evergreen Yule tree (Christmas tree) was a pagan symbol of everlasting life adopted from the ancient Egyptian custom of tree worship.

Christian reformers of the 17th century banned Christmas as a pagan holiday; and it was derided as Foolstide by colonial Puritans at Plymouth.

Calvinists rejected Christmas on Biblical grounds, but also in opposition to the Catholic Church which adopted December 25th (birthday of the Roman sun god Mithra) as the day of Christ’s birth.

Protestant resistance to Christmas continued for decades in America until it was declared a national holiday by President Grant in 1870.

The early church did not celebrate Christmas, nor is it listed in the order of feasts recorded by Irenaeus and Tertullian. The Bible does not tell us the date of Christ’s birth, but we might determine from the Gospels of Luke and Matthew that Jesus could have been born either in September-October (Tishri) or March-April (Nissan) of the Hebrew calendar.

When we examine the feasts of Israel it is evident that the ritualism and co-opting of pagan customs so angered the LORD that He sent His people into exile as punishment for their disobedience.

The LORD spoke through the Old Testament prophets: I hate your festivals; they are an abomination to Me (Is 1:14, Am 5:21).

This will sound like a radical thought, but Christmas (at least the worldview) is an abomination to God.

What about Michelle? Now an adult she spent last Christmas Eve all alone. There were no greeting cards to read, nor presents to open. As she sat in the dark, holding back tears, an inner voice spoke to her softly, I am the gift; and she finally understood the true meaning of the season.

The gift of Christmas is not that 50-inch plasma TV that you wrestled from 20 other people on Black Friday; nor is it the tens of billions of dollars spent worldwide on trinkets and toys that will be returned, exchanged or re-gifted next year.

Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven ... (Mt 6:19-20).

People will say that the wise men brought gifts to the baby Jesus. Yes, they did; and the gifts they brought (gold, myrrh and frankincense) were symbolic of His royalty, suffering and sacrifice.

Gold represented His authority; myrrh was mixed with the cup of vinegar offered by the Roman soldiers when He said upon the cross, I thirst (Jn 19:28); and frankincense was used to prepare His body for burial (Jn 19:40).

Jesus Christ was the gift of Christmas through whom we receive the gift of eternal life, and the fruits and gifts of the Holy Spirit. The Christmas story is about God giving Himself to us; and it is sacrilege to think that an iPad under a tree is, by any measure, relevant to the birth of our Savior — the gift of Almighty God!

All of these other trappings (traditions) are an abomination to the LORD; and, quite frankly, are paganistic in origin. But so is Easter and the Easter Bunny — a celebration of the fertility goddess, Ishtar.

Michelle opened her Bible for the first time in many years, and the Spirit led her to the passage in Luke where the Lord commanded that we remember His sacrifice:

And when He had taken some bread and given thanks, He broke it and gave it to them, saying, This is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me (Lk 22:19).

On Sunday, Michelle went to church to partake in the Lord’s Supper, and to give thanks for the gift of Jesus Christ. The peace and joy that eluded her in the world, especially at Christmas, was now filling her heart with the promise of our Lord:

And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus (Php 4:7).

And that is a gift worth celebrating every day of the year.

Suggested Reading:

Was Jesus Born on December 25th?

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One thought on “The Idol of Christmas

  1. I agree with concerns about traditions being tied to the birth of Christ. Actually, the bible doesn’t tell us exactly when Jesus was born. It just came to be celebrated at this time of the year.

    I have a problem when people start to make comparisons between Jesus Christ and Santa. Some would say “lighten up, it’s harmless!” But I say no. This is exactly the kind of thing which will lead to misunderstanding the truth and mission of the Savior versus the “jolly folly” of a fictitious holiday character!

    There is no harm in celebrating the season in a festive holiday style. But do not make it about the Lord’s birth and His love for all humankind. That is a Christian duty and privilege we have each day of the year…

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