As we come near to the major Christian holiday of Christmas, I expect to see a plethora of postings from Christians who have become so zealous for doing what God said over what men have said that they reject every man-made Christian holiday because it was once a pagan celebration.
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Now, it is true that Christmas was created by men. Basically, the early Christians, who by the end of the First Century were mostly ex-pagans, were following the teachings of men; men who misinterpreted and misused the writings of the Apostles (and especially Shaul) to teach these new Believers that they must reject anything Jewish.
In fact, they were so adamant about separating themselves from their Jewish roots they ended up creating a different religion, nothing like what Yeshua or his disciples practiced or taught, and which Constantine legalized in the Third Century.
The religion they created is known today as Christianity.
Now that they had their own religion, with man-made tenets, dogma, and rituals, all they needed were their own holidays. So, they took the old pagan holidays of the winter celebration of Saturnalia and the spring fertility celebration of Ishtar, which everyone was used to celebrating, and rebranded them to be Christmas, celebrating the birth of the Messiah, and Easter, celebrating the resurrection of the Messiah.
Man-made holidays originally celebrating the pagan gods, now rebranded (or should I say, reborn?) as Christian celebrations of the Messiah.
So, what about the many Christians who used to celebrate them with gusto and joy, who now reject them with a passionate hatred and demean anyone who still celebrates them? Are they right to do so?
First of all, in my opinion, what is important is not what we think but what God thinks, and no one can say they know what God thinks. Job’s friends tried to do that, and we are told that God didn’t like that- no, not one, little bit.
But, we can know that God has shown us he knows the hearts and minds of everyone. So, then, what if I am celebrating the Messiah though the man-made holiday called Christmas, which is celebrated at the same time as a pagan holiday was? When I am decorating my Christmas tree with ornaments that represent memories of times gone by with family and friends, does God think I am adorning an idol? Or when I go to church and sing praises to him, does he think I really am singing to Saturn?
I don’t think so. I think because God knows our hearts and minds, when I believe I am doing something to honor God and his messiah, God will accept that.
God is compassionate and understanding, right? Isn’t it true that he loves each and every one of us beyond our human ability to comprehend the vastness of that love? And doesn’t he tell us in Ezekiel 18:23 that he is not just willing to forgive us, but that he desires to do so?
When I put all that together, it adds up to celebrating Christmas as a means of being grateful for the birth of the messiah is fine with God. And, if I celebrate Easter to be grateful that the messiah was resurrected, God doesn’t have a problem with that.
Do you agree that we were all sinners, but because we are reborn through the Messiah we can be forgiven and those sins are now as far from us as the East is from the West? Even though we all have the same sinful origins we had before? Even though we still have the same birthday? The same parents? The same history?
Do you believe that even though we are the same entity as we always have been, that through the Messiah we can be forgiven and now acceptable before God?
Well, if your answer to that question is “Yes”, then why do you say that a holiday cannot be acceptable before God if it is “reborn” and is now celebrating the Messiah?
If someone born on a certain day who was a sinner and rejected God, but now through Messiah Yeshua can be acceptable to God, then why can’t a celebration that has the same “birthday” as a pagan holiday, but is now celebrating the Messiah, be treated the same way?
If you used to be a sinner and now are acceptable to God through the messiah, but celebrating the messiah through Christmas and Easter is unacceptable to God because they once were pagan holidays, well…if you ask me, I call that hypocrisy.
If I was a sinner who is now saved because I accepted Yeshua as my messiah and changed who I worship from sin to God, then why can’t a holiday that once celebrated a pagan god but now is dedicated to the one, true God and his messiah be given the same consideration?
I am Jewish, so I never celebrated either of these Christian holidays, but my wife grew up with them and still likes to decorate the house at Christmas time. To us, it awakens memories of the good times in the past with family and friends, and is dedicated to God and Yeshua.
And, based on what God tells us about himself in the Bible, I believe he has no problem with this.
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That’s it for today, so l’hitraot and Baruch HaShem!