Some say that the celebration of Christmas is part of a Satanic agenda. To the contrary, to be anti (Christmas) Christ being sent, is more Satanic than all the so called pagan links to Christmas put together. If there is a Satanic (Pagan) agenda at work, it is the agenda that seeks to silence the celebrating of the birth of our Messiah: it’s literally an antiChrist agenda.
At this time of year the inevitable Messianic Gentile objections to Christmas rear their ugly heads. Last year, one of the beautiful ironies at work to refute Gentile Messianic anti-Christmas sentiment, was that at least one of the most common objections to the celebration of Christmas (it shouldn’t be celebrated on a date when a pagan deity was worshipped), was made impotent by the date of the Jewish observance of Chanukah (Rededication), which began on Christmas day, the 25th of December 2017. Last year the lunar Calendar of Israel coincided with the Gregorian calendar so that the 25th of Kislev and the 25th of December (a so called pagan date) became the same day.
The primary reason that I continue to speak out against the demonising of Christmas, is the demoralising effect that anti-Christmas sentiment has had on the community of believers (Ecclesia). I come across this message of bondage far too frequently among the wandering masses of Christianity, who, disillusioned with the shallow nature of their own faith, seek depth at the feet of pseudo-learned lay people, many of whom dine on a steady diet of conspiracy theory, YouTube Bible teaching and conjecture.
My hope is that the following article will equip you for the practise of freedom in Messiah. A key aspect of the faith that has been sadly neglected by the para-church swing back to bondage on the rebound from hyper-grace. It has become more and more clear that in recent times the gift of the Holy Spirit most lacking in the western Ecclesia (Church) is that of discernment.
I am consistently told by certain Messianic extremists that I should not celebrate Christmas, worship on Sundays, use the name “Jesus,” etc. Though it must be said they are entirely misinformed regarding Christmas and the use of the name Jesus and fail to understand that all days belong to God; the more poignant issue is this, that they are so busy telling others what they shouldn’t do, that they are unable to articulate the freedom, wonders and depth of faith found in a Messiah centred Messianic Jewish Tradition.
When we define ourselves by what we are not, we are repeating the error of our forebears both Jewish and Christian. Those we seek as converts to our way of thinking are instantly disillusioned, in our zeal we turn them away from the beauty and traditions we might otherwise have positively offered them. Often our fierce words of rebuke are based on poor historical knowledge, misinterpretation of Scripture, inaccuracies and myth; passed on by lazy teachers and blinded guides.
“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You travel over land and sea to win a single convert, and when you have succeeded, you make them twice as much a child of hell as you are.” Mattitiyahu/Matthew 23:14-16
This is not who we are, it is who we were, before we met Messiah, but now, in Him, we are to be a light to the nations. It is time to stem the flow of darkness that is issuing from our mouths. We are, “A royal priesthood, a Holy nation, a people belonging to G-d. That we might declare the praises of Him who called us out of darkness into His wonderful light.” 1 Kefa/Peter 2:9
If we continually define ourselves by what we are not, we will inevitably forget who we are.
Anti-Christmas Sentiment is Anti-Christ
It is interesting to note that the list of Christmas objectors includes the Mormons, Jehovah’s witnesses, Seventh Day Adventists, Conspiracy theorists, and yes, some Messianic believers and Hebrew Roots Christians.
We must ask, why are cults some of the strongest opponents of Christmas? What is it that they share in common? There is one unifying answer, every pseudo Christian cult agrees on one thing, that Yeshua (Jesus) is not God us.
The deity of Messiah is first revealed on earth in the Christmas narrative (Historical record). His divine conception and His lineage are first recorded and illuminated in the Christmas narrative. To neglect the celebration and remembrance of the Christmas story is a means of cutting off the truth of Messiah’s divinity and His legitimate human lineage at its root, thus supporting the Satanic claims that Yeshua (Jesus) is just a man and at the same time does not qualify to be Israel’s Messiah. This is a direct attack on Messiah, the Christ, and is at its heart driven by a spirit of Anti-Christ.
Refuting Common Objections to Christmas
First, let me make it clear that generally speaking Jews do not object to Christians celebrating Christmas because for the most part Jews do not accept Jesus (Yeshua) as Messiah.
Therefore, from their perspective Christmas is simply the religious practice of the Gentile Western world.
So who are these people who are objecting to the celebration of Christmas? They are for the most part, disillusioned Christians, who, with great pride, claim to be Messianic. They are not Jews but they are Judaizers and because of their devote observance of human rules, consider themselves more righteous than the so called, “Apostate Church” they claim to have separated themselves from. As a Jew I find this extremely offensive because they are not only misrepresenting the message of the Messiah but they are also pretending to observe Jewish practices and thus often appear to be representing the Jewish view. They do not represent the Jewish view, nor do they represent the Messianic Jewish view. They simply represent themselves and their own confused attempts to earn God.
A Response to Some of the Most Common Objections to Christmas
1. Christmas is Pagan.
This generalisation is lazy and intellectually dishonest as well as being an oxymoron (self-contradicting).
In fact Christmas is the name of a Judeo-Christian celebration of the birth of Christ (Messiah). The name Christmas is a contraction made up of two words: Christ and mas.
Christ comes from the Greek Khristos and means anointed one, it was intended by the Jewish New Testament writers to convey the Hebrew title Mashiyach, which is often translated Messiah, both titles represent the anointed one of God who would be born into time to deliver His people Israel. So I guess you could say the first part of the name Christmas is pretty much Jewish.
Mass: the English term mass comes from the Anglo-Saxon word maesse, which came from the Latin missa, which is a form of the verb mittere, which means "to send." In Hebrew we would use the term neshlach—to send. Therefore the meaning of Christmas is, “Christ is sent,” or Mashiyach neshlach—Messiah is sent. In truth, the two concepts of anointing and sending are rooted deeply in Judaism and help make Christmas—in my opinion—as much a Jewish Holiday as Purim and Chanukah. So, is Christmas Pagan? Well, the name certainly isn’t.
Some say that the celebration of Christmas is part of a Satanic agenda. To the contrary, to be anti (Christmas) Christ being sent is more Satanic than all the so called pagan links to Christmas put together. If there is a Satanic (Pagan) agenda at work, it is the agenda that seeks to silence the celebrating of the birth of our Messiah: it’s literally an anti-Christ agenda.
I wish you a hearty, “Chag Sameach le’Mashiyach neshlach!” and a, “Chag Ha-molad Sameach!”
2. The date of Christmas is a day on which pagan deities were worshipped. Therefore, Messianic believers shouldn’t celebrate Christmas on the 25th of December.
The logic here is that any day used to worship a false god should not be used to worship the one true God. Nonsense! Prior to the giving of the Torah and the moedim (festivals) of HaShem at Sinai, Israel was under bondage in a land where the Sun deity Ra-Atum was worshipped every morning at dawn and every evening at sundown (365 days a year). Using the foolish logic of those who claim pagan deities defile days, every one of HaShem’s moedim (festivals) should not be celebrated because they fall on days when the pagan deity Ra-Atum was worshipped. Who made the days? On which of the days should the God of Israel not be worshipped? We are fools to argue over the keeping of days while worshiping the One Who is beyond days. The One Who formed each day for His glory.
In the midst of all the rhetoric and conspiracy allegations aimed at the Gentile Church fathers of the 2nd Century regarding the so called pagan date of the 25th of December. Few Christmas objectors have bothered to consider the fact that the authentic fathers of the Church were Jews who lived over 100 years before the first records indicating syncretism, and would have been eager to celebrate the birth of the Jewish Messiah on a regular basis in a Jewish way and for at least 100 years, free from Gentile interference.
In fact the Jews have an intrinsic connection to the date of the 25th of December. Every four years or so Chanukah coincides with the 25th of December. In fact, last year in 2017 the first day of Chanukah 25th of Kislev coincided with the 25th of December. Those who claim that pagan connections to this date make the day unsuitable must either denounce Chanukah (A festival Yeshua venerated) or simply admit that they are in grave error.
Given that we have no way of knowing when Messiah was born either from Biblical or Historical record, who’s to say that the 25th of December is the wrong date? We don’t know the date, therefore we contradict ourselves by saying that the 25th is the wrong date.
Consider this, the 25th of Kislev of the Biblical lunar calendar of Israel which begins Chanukah (A festival of light/dedication) coincides with the 25th of December of the Gregorian Solar calendar on a regular cycle. Therefore, if we are bound by conjecture, as so many anti-Christmas proponents are, we may as well conjecture that it is equally likely that the date of Christmas was simply transitioned from one calendar to another and that early Messianic Jews celebrated the birth of Yeshua (The Light of the World Who rededicated Israel to God) during the festival of Chanukah. Which, as we know, is in the winter months and regularly coincides with Christmas.
3. Yeshua (Jesus) said, "Remember my death until I come", therefore, we should not celebrate Christmas.
The logic here is, that anything not explicitly commanded in Scripture should not be observed. This flawed logic makes a negative commandment out of a positive commandment. It is a self-defeating premise because Messiah’s death cannot be remembered without His birth into time and space.
Yeshua Himself observed Chanukah (John 10:22-41), a festival that is not commanded in Scripture.
If we pursue the foolish logic of this objection, we must also cease to celebrate Purim, Chanukah, the Torah cycle, the resurrection, and the miracles of the Messiah. Therefore, if we fail to acknowledge the Messiah’s literal birth into the world we make His life and ministry redundant.
An instruction to remember something does not negate the remembrance of other things.
4. Christians and Messianics shouldn’t celebrate Messiah’s birth because birthday celebration is pagan.
Ancient Pagans celebrated weddings too, should we no longer celebrate weddings? The false Canaanite deity Shalem is said to have been worshipped on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem (Yebus) thousands of years before Solomon’s Temple was built there (https://www.biu.ac.il/JS/rennert/history_2.html). Does this mean the Temple Mount is Pagan? By applying the logic that we should do nothing that pagans do, we must also cease drinking water, procreating, even breathing.
Did Joseph and Mary not celebrate the birth of Yeshua? Were the gifts of the magi not celebratory? If they were considered pagan, why did Joseph and Mary allow them to be presented to Yeshua?
Some go so far as to suggest that Jews don’t celebrate birthdays. What nonsense, they have obviously spent little time around Jews. Furthermore, Jews have honoured and celebrated birthdays from ancient times. Within the Tanakh (OT) there are numerous examples of the births of children being celebrated. One of the ways the birth of Jewish children is celebrated both in the Scripture and in modern Jewish life is with the naming ceremony, called a Brit Milah for Jewish boys (circumcision), and held eight days after the birth. The births of children are honoured throughout Scripture by placing a God given name on the child and/or choosing a name that expressed the character attributes exhibited by the child through the pregnancy and in the birthing process (Gen. 25:24-26; ). Hence, Yeshua (YHVH Saves)! One of the most famous Messianic prophecies of Isaiah is in fact a birthday celebration song:
“For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given to us,
and the government will be upon His shoulder.
His Name will be called
My Father of Eternity,
Prince of Peace.
Of the increase of His government
and shalom there will be no end--
on the throne of David and over His kingdom--
to establish it and uphold it
through justice and righteousness
from now until forevermore.
The zeal of Adonai-Tzva’ot
will accomplish this.”
5. Yeshua (Jesus) wasn't born during the Christmas season, He was born during Sukkot (Festival of Booths).
No, there isn’t any conclusive way to determine the day or season of Messiah’s birth. We simply don’t have historical information that enables us to make an accurate assessment concerning the time of His birth. Those who presume to know are reliant on conjecture born from theological niceties and presumption. Am I saying Messiah was born on the 25th of December? Certainly not. Does it matter which day He was born? Given the lack of Biblical evidence citing exact dates and times for His birth I would hazard a guess that God doesn't want us to know the date or season of His Son’s birth. He probably has a very good reason for this. Learn to embrace the mystery of God, you don’t need to know everything, knowledge puffs up but love builds up.
With regard to the “Sukkot birth” claim, the census recorded in Luke 2:1-4 was the first of two, taken between 1 C.E. and 7 C.E. (It’s the latter of the two that is referred to in Acts 5:37). While Quirinius was not physically governing in Syria until 6 C.E., he was responsible for the oversight of its operations and defence under Varus, during Herod’s reign.
It’s important to remember that for the people of Israel, a census was considered an affront to God. The taking of a census denoted a lack of trust in God’s provision. This census therefore, was something they were forced to participate in under an oppressive Roman occupation. (See Exodus 30:12; 2 Samuel 24).
Beit-lechem (Bethlehem) is approximately 8 kilometres from Yerushalayim (Jerusalem) and approximately 136 kilometres from Natzeret (Nazareth) in the Galil (Galilee).
Given that a majority of governors over the province of Philistia (Occupied Israel) were keen to avoid further uprisings and the causes for them, it is unlikely that a census would have been called during an Regalim (going up) festival of Israel (Pesach, Shavuot, Sukkot). In addition, a Jew could not be both in his ancestral town and in Yerushalayim at the same time. While Beit-lechem was close to Yerushalayim, the majority of Israel’s outer communities were more than two days journey from Yerushalayim, where the Temple stood. This is just one of many reasons why a Sukkot birth for Messiah is extremely unlikely. In fact all of the Regalim festivals fall into this category. Therefore, it is more likely that Yeshua was born in the winter months.
Some say, “But He was born dwell with us, and John 1:14 says that He became flesh and sukkot (dwelt) in our midst.”
But the text of John 1:14 does not say that Messiah Sukkot with us, but that He Shakhan (from Mishkan) came as flesh, as a Tabernacle in our midst. Meaning, He was a human being Who was like the Tent of meeting (Mishkan) which once dwelt in the midst of Israel. Shakhan is the Hebrew equivalent to the Greek Skaynoo. Both are verbs and NOT proper nouns. Sukkot is a proper noun that is unrelated to the Hebrew Shakhan.
While it is true that Messiah dwells with us, it is not proof of the date or season of His birth. Messiah is also the Lamb of God, that doesn’t mean He was born at Passover. He is the substitutionary sacrifice for our sin, that doesn’t mean He was born during Yom Kippur.
6. The feasts of the Torah were specifically commanded by God but Christmas wasn’t. Therefore Christians and Messianics shouldn’t celebrate Christmas.
It’s true, Christmas was not commanded by God: neither were Purim or Chanukah, and yet Yeshua venerated Chanukah and used it as a teaching platform—John 10:22-36. Therefore, based on the foolish logic of this objection, Yeshua sinned because He celebrated a festival that wasn’t specifically commanded by God. Utter nonsense!
Some claim that Yeshua’s veneration of Chanukah is an exception because He is God with us, but Yeshua is not the exception, He is the Rule! He is the first-born among many brothers (Rom. 8:29). We are called to be like Him.
David was not commanded by God to dance half naked before the Ark of the Covenant—which carried the tablets of stone upon which G-d had engraved His word—as he brought it into Jerusalem with music and rejoicing. His wife Michal criticized him for His shameless celebrating and as a result the Scripture says that she remained barren until her death. If David danced semi naked in celebration before the written word of G-d as it entered Jerusalem, how much more should we celebrate with great joy the entry into our world of the living Word Yeshua our Messiah, born of a virgin, born to save us from sin. Though we know not the day, we celebrate Him gladly, lest we become like those who begrudge others their joy and seek to imprison people in the bondage of the past! The warning is clear, we must not become like Michal: perhaps she was physiologically unable to conceive after this event? On the other hand perhaps her husband simply no longer approached her to be sexually intimate with her? Or worse still—and most likely—she may have continued to harden her heart until she no longer wanted to be around David. This is the dangerous road we walk when we neglect grace and follow rules born of the foolish arguments of human beings. When we harden our hearts through jealousy and false religion we become isolated and alone. Like Michal we might find our spiritual womb barren, not because we can’t conceive but rather because we have refused our Husband, whose name is Freedom and in turn have failed to be inseminated by His grace. Don’t let the misconceived theories of the pseudo-learned mislead you.
7. Shepherds in Israel don't tend their sheep in winter, therefore, the shepherds of the Christmas story can't have been tending their flocks in winter. Thus, a December date for Messiah's birth cannot be correct.
In fact, Israel’s sheep are shepherded throughout the year including the winter months. Even more importantly, the shepherds of the Christmas story (approx. 3 C.E.) were no ordinary shepherds. It’s an historical fact that there was a tower in close proximity to Beit-lechem, called Eder (flock), around which were pastured the flocks destined for the Temple sacrifices. The group of shepherds in charge of these flocks held a position of great esteem in Israel and were led by a Priest whose role was to ensure the production of unblemished animals that would be offered at the Temple in nearby Yerushalayim. These sheep were needed year round for the Temple sacrifices. Therefore, a winter date for Messiah’s birth is quite possible.
8. Christmas trees are pagan.
Are they? It’s true that pagan cultures have venerated trees and worshipped tree deities. However, these were living trees growing outside the home. Furthermore, those that did bring trees into the home or communal space, didn’t use them in the same way that Christmas trees are used today. For example, the yule tide log of the Norse culture was burned in the fire. These pagan examples do not equate to the cutting down of a tree for symbolic use during Christmas celebrations.
But I ask, “Who came first? The tree or the pagan?” The tree of course. God commands us not to worship objects of creation, he doesn’t tell us not to use them as reminders of Him, in fact God Himself commands the manufacture of Cherubim for the ark of the covenant (Exodus 25:18), and these were symbols of His protection, not to be worshipped but to give a visual understanding to His worshippers. Are trees good or evil? They are neither. Once again, if the use of a thing by pagans makes it sinful then we should also discontinue using oxygen—this might be a good idea for some. I repeat, the misuse of a thing does not define it!
So we see that for many and varied illegitimate reasons, a number of modern Christians (Hebrew Roots movement) and Messianics (a term that is now so loosely applied that it is unable to identify any one group), have decided not to celebrate Christ-mas (Messiah is sent). This on its own would be of little consequence if they simply chose to celebrate His birth at another time, however in the aftermath of the establishment of this foolish pseudo-learned doctrinal decision, they have ceased celebrating the birth of our Messiah altogether. Like the Separatists of the late 19th century, they have become so convinced of their own separation from the Ecclesia [Community of faith] (Viewing themselves as the so called “called out” pure Church/Bride), that they have, in seeking purity through their own actions, become subject again to bondage; forgetting that in Messiah we are not keepers of the Torah but rather we are kept by the Living Torah, Ha-d’var Emet (The Word of Truth) Yeshua, Who, if not for His birth into time and space, could not have been crucified and resurrected, thus leaving us without hope. Therefore, let us celebrate His birth, which illuminates His purpose in being sent, that we might also hope in the future glory purchased for us through His death and resurrection.
This year (5779: 2018) our congregation will once again delight ourselves in remembering the birth of our Messiah Yeshua, each one practicing the Biblical remembrance of Christmas (Messiah is sent) utilising the symbolism and positive traditions that affirm their own convictions regarding this celebration. We are reminded that every Shabbat we light the candles of Sh’mor (Observance) and Zakhor (Remembrance), therefore we observe the holy day, remembering that Yeshua was born for the purpose of our Salvation (Yeshua). We remember what God has done, what He is doing and what He has promised to do, in Messiah, The Hope of Glory.
As I’ve said before, we are fools to argue over the keeping of days while worshiping the One Who is beyond days. The One Who formed each day for His glory.
All our Jewish celebrations and festivals fall into one of two categories. Either they celebrate God’s provision for us or they commemorate His delivering us from our enemies. Christmas is the celebration of God’s greatest provision and the commemoration of the beginning of our eternal deliverance. Thus it qualifies as one of the most important Jewish celebrations of all time.
If it were possible to be dull in the Olam Haba (World to come), I’m inclined to believe that those who argue against the celebration of Christmas will be wandering around the new Jerusalem debating whether we should celebrate Messiah’s return. After all, it’s not commanded in the Torah. Wake up sleeper!
In combination with this article, please also consider the articles I’ve written on Luke chapters 1 and 2, and the previous articles I’ve written regarding Christmas:
Christmas: An Open Letter to the Haters
This Jew Boy will be Celebrating Christmas on the 25th of December
Isaiah 9: For unto us a Child is Born
Luke 1:1-38: Choosing Between Disbelief and Wonder
Luke 1:39-80: From Generation to Generation
Luke 2:1-24: G-d’s Plan is not World Peace, it is Peace for the World
Luke 2:25-52: Hearing About Grace and Favour
© 2018 Yaakov Brown
Spiritual leader of Beth Melekh Community, Auckland, Aotearoa, N.Z.