What the Bible says about
(From Forerunner Commentary)
Two arguments are often used to justify Christmas observance.
1) Many will reason this way: "But, even though the exact date of Jesus' birth is unknown, should we not select some date to celebrate as His birthday?" The answer is positively no! Notice the statement quoted from the Catholic Encyclopedia: "Sinners alone, not saints, celebrate their birthdays." The celebration of birthdays is not a Christian, but a pagan custom, observed by sinners!
2) But, many still reason, "Even so—even though Christmas was a pagan custom, honoring the false sun-god, we don't observe it to honor the false god, we observe it to honor Christ."
But how does God answer in His Word? "Take heed to thyself that thou be not snared by following them [the pagans in their customs] . . . that thou enquire not after their gods, saying, How did these nations serve their gods? even so will I do likewise. Thou shalt not do so unto the LORD thy God: for every abomination to the Eternal, which he hateth, have they done unto their gods" (Deuteronomy 12:30-31).
God says plainly in His Instruction Book to us, that He will not accept that kind of worship, even though intended in His honor. To Him, He says, it is offering what is abominable to Him, and therefore it honors, not Him, but false pagan gods. God says we must not worship Him according to the "dictates of our own conscience"—a term we often hear. But Jesus says plainly, "God is a spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth" (John 4:24). And what is truth? God's Word—the Holy Bible—said Jesus, is truth (John 17:17); and the Bible says God will not accept worship when people take a pagan custom or manner of worship and try to honor Christ with it.
Again, Jesus said: "In vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men" (Matthew 15:9). Christmas observance is a tradition of men, and the commandments of God, as quoted, forbid it. Jesus said, further, "full well ye reject the commandment of God, that ye may keep your own tradition."
That is precisely what the millions are doing today. They ignore the commandment of God. He commands, regarding taking the customs of the pagans and using them to honor or worship God: "Thou shalt not do so unto the LORD thy God." Still, most people today take that command of God lightly, or as having no validity whatsoever, and follow the tradition of men in observing Christmas.
Make no mistake! God will allow you to defy and disobey Him. He will allow you to follow the crowd and the traditions of men. He will allow you to sin. But He also says there is a day of reckoning coming. As you sow, so shall you reap! Jesus was the living Word of God in Person, and the Bible is the written Word of God. And we shall be judged, for eternity, by these words! They should not be taken lightly or ignored.
Herbert W. Armstrong (1892-1986)
The Plain Truth About Christmas
In verse 14, Ezekiel expresses his "dismay" at yet a greater abomination: "women . . . weeping for Tammuz." This is another pagan practice, a very sexual one involving ritual prostitution. Ezekiel saw them involved in a rite in which they were mourning the death of a Mesopotamian god whose myth said he was resurrected to new life, a mockery of the redeeming death and life-giving resurrection of the true Son of God. This vision reveals that paganism had deeply affected the women in Israelite society as well.
In verse 16, the prophet sees a fourth vision in the inner court of the Temple—"about twenty-five men with their backs toward the temple and their faces toward the east, and they were worshipping the sun toward the east." This is obviously some sort of pagan sunrise service, in which they honor the sun more highly than God, to whom they contemptuously show their backsides.
Each abomination is described as being greater in wickedness than the one before. In verse 17, God asks, "Is it a trivial thing to the house of Judah to commit abominations which they commit here [in the Temple!]? For they have filled the land with violence; then they have returned to provoke Me to anger."
These leaders displayed no social responsibility whatsoever. They led their society to become one of rape and rapine, murder and violence in every quarter. Yet these hypocritical leaders dared to return to God's Temple, retiring furtively to its inner rooms to practice their pagan rites "in the dark" (verse 12).
The Torment of the Godly (Part One)
John informs us that he "was on the island that is called Patmos" (Revelation 1:9), a small, rocky Aegean island just west of due south from Ephesus, employed as a prison or place of exile by the Roman emperors. Most prisoners were required to work the quarries and mines on the island, but John's advanced age may have allowed him to avoid such backbreaking labor.
He writes that he was exiled there "for [because of] the word of God and for the testimony of Jesus Christ," an indication that his preaching had come to the attention of the Roman authorities, and judgment had gone against him. It is likely that John had spoken against the emperor cult (the worship of the current Roman emperor as a god, a practice that reached its height under Domitian, AD 81-96), and his exile rather than execution can only be attributed to Jesus' prophecy of John not facing martyrdom (John 21:22). The apostle perhaps remained on Patmos for less than two years, as such exiles were routinely released upon the death of the emperor who had exiled them.
Some Protestants and Catholics contend that John saw these visions on a Sunday because John writes that he "was in the Spirit on the Lord's Day" (Revelation 1:10). This is merely an unfortunate misunderstanding due to the prevalence of unscriptural Sunday worship throughout Christendom. In Greek, this phrase reads en teé Kuriakeé heeméra, literally "on the belonging-to-the-Lord day." Although it is different in construction to other instances of "the day of the Lord" in the New Testament, the meaning is the same. John is speaking not of the first day of the week, but of the time of God's judgment known throughout the Old Testament as "the day of the LORD." (Sunday, the first day of the week, was never known in the true church as "the Lord's Day," for Jesus Himself says He is "Lord of the Sabbath" (Mark 2:28), which is the seventh day.)
The apostle is giving the reader vital information about the time setting of his vision and thus the true application of the book of Revelation. Through the agency of God's Spirit, John received a vision of end-time events and related material that reveal to the church a unique understanding of the day of the Lord. Though couched in late first-century terms and allusions, Revelation is first and predominantly about the time of the end, when God through Christ will intervene in world affairs and establish His Kingdom on the earth. Most of its prophecies are only now beginning to be fulfilled or are still awaiting fulfillment in years just ahead. In a sense, the book of Revelation is as current as today's newspaper—even better, because we have it in advance!
Richard T. Ritenbaugh
The All-Important Introduction to Revelation
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