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The Midnight Cry:
A Prophetic Witness to the Church Today

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15
Should You Keep Christmas?

Why do you keep Christmas? Is it a time of self-indulgence or a time of worship? Should you be keeping it anyway? Does God command its observance? Where did this custom originate? Is it biblical or Christian? Did Jesus observe it? Does He want us to observe it?

Here is the biblical truth on this subject.


As Christmas approaches each year, most families in the western world look forward to a time of enjoyment. They anticipate having a good time, of satisfying their physical, social and emotional desires. Many will have fond memories of childhood festivals spent in front of a warm log fire, or around a sparkling Christmas tree, giving and receiving presents, or of warm family gatherings and festivities.

For others, however, Christmas evokes memories of shattered dreams, domestic arguments, disappointments, drunkenness, squabbles and fights, family break-up, and despondency. And there are those who don't have a family, who find Christmas the loneliest, emptiest time of year. Christmas is not always the rosy, comforting time that the majority hope for.

Whether or not your experience of Christmas is one of enjoyment or tragedy, you need to ask yourself from a moral and Christian perspective whether it should be kept! Is it a Christian festival?


Origin of Christmas

"Christmas means 'mass of Christ' from the old English Cristes maesse, which is celebrated by the Western church on 25 December. The actual day on which Christ was born is not known and there is some uncertainty about the year. 25 December as the day of nativity was not generally observed until the 5th century AD, though, as the winter solstice, it had long been observed as a pagan festival of sol invictus (unconquered sun). The first Christmas card dates from about 1843 and the Christmas tree, of pagan origin, was introduced into England from Germany where it had been a tradition since the Middle Ages. Santa Claus is a corruption of Santa Niklaus (St. Nicholas) patron saint of children, whose feast day properly falls on 6 December" (Pear's Cyclopaedia, 89th edition, L25, emphasis mine).

There you have the answer in a nutshell; the origin of Christmas customs is pagan!

From The History of Christianity by Lion Publishing: "The Christian Church took over many pagan ideas and images. From sun worship, for example, came the celebration of Christ's birth on the 25th of December, the birthday of the sun. Saturnalia, the Roman winter festival of 17-21 of December, provided the merriment, gift giving and candles typical of later Christmas holidays. Sun worship hung on in Roman Christianity Some pagan customs which were later 'Christianized' were at first avoided by the Church because they symbolized paganism".

The question Christians must ask themselves today is: "Should we avoid keeping Christmas?" Is it right for those who want to obey God to be celebrating a custom which has its roots in paganism?

The answer to this question is relatively simple: simple to say, but not at all easy for many to accept. There is no command in the Bible instructing the Christian Church to observe the birth of Christ or to celebrate Christmas! If we consider how Christmas became adopted by the western 'Christian' Church, it ought to become apparent that by accepting Christmas, we are in fact acknowledging human authority for its observance, not God's.

Ralph Woodrow explains: "'Christmas was not among the earliest festivals of the Church. Irenaeus and Tertullian omit it from their lists of feasts'1.

"Later, when churches at various places did begin celebrating the birthday of Christ, there was much difference of opinion as to the correct date. It was not until the latter part of the fourth century that the Roman Church began observing December 25th.2 Yet, by the fifth century, as the Encyclopedia Americana points out, it was ordering that the birth of Christ be forever observed on this date, even though this was the day of the old Roman feast of the birth of Sol, one of the names of the sun-god!3

"Says Frazer, 'The largest pagan religious cult which fostered the celebration of December 25 as a holiday throughout the Roman and Greek worlds was the pagan sun worship Mithraism This winter festival was called 'the Nativity' the 'Nativity of the sun'.'4 Was this pagan festival responsible for the December 25 day being chosen by the Roman Church? We will let The Catholic Encyclopedia answer. 'The well-known solar feast of Natalis Invicti [the nativity of the unconquered sun] celebrated on 25 December, has a strong claim on the responsibility for our December date'!5

"As pagan solar customs were being 'Christianized', it is understandable that confusion would result. Some thought Jesus was Sol, the sun-god! 'Tertullian had to assert that Sol was not the Christians' God'; Augustine denounced the heretical identification of Christ with Sol. Pope Leo I bitterly reproved the solar survivals Christians, on the very doorstep of the Apostles' basilica, turning to adore the rising sun.'6

"The winter festival was very popular in ancient times. 'In pagan Rome and Greece, in the days of the Teutonic barbarians, in the remote times of ancient Egyptian civilization, in the infancy of the race East and West, North and South, the period of the winter solstice was ever a period of rejoicing and festivity.'7 Because this season was so popular, it was adopted as the time of the birth of Christ by the Roman Church" (Babylon Mystery Religion, Ancient and Modern, by Ralph Woodrow, 1992 ed., pp 142,143).


True Worship

In the New Testament Jesus gave us the guidelines for effective worship of God today. He said quite simply, "the true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and truth" (Jn 4:23).

If you keep Christmas, can you honestly worship God while you are knowingly perpetuating a lie? Jesus was neither born on December 25th, nor does that date have anything to do with celebrating His nativity. Christmas is not truly a Christian festival. It is a syncretistic pagan counterfeit masquerading as Christian.

Nowhere in the Bible does Jesus give any indication that He wants His followers to celebrate the day of His birth. If He did, He would not have kept the precise date a mystery. All indications in the New Testament point to the probable time of His birth being in the autumn, around the Festival of Trumpets or Tabernacles. The Feast of Trumpets symbolises His coming. How much more appropriate that He was born at this time, rather than in the middle of the darkest and coldest period of the year!

Some Christians carelessly assume that it is not a sin to adopt Christmas festivities in order to worship Christ. But God does not want us compromising with His Word and accepting human customs for expedience. We must be prepared to make any sacrifice necessary in order to please God, even if it is self-sacrifice. The one described in the Bible as the "Father of the faithful" Abraham exhibited the most sublime act of worship to God by self-sacrifice. He was prepared to give up his most precious possession, his treasured son and heir, Isaac. His response was an act of true worship. It should be ours, too the willingness to give up what we like, what we want, in deference to what God wants. Are we prepared to give up the temporary pleasures of Christmas celebrations in order to truly obey God?

The customs of Sunday worship, Christmas, Easter and certain other festivals adopted by most Christian churches today have been palmed off onto an unsuspecting Christian fraternity by a cunning deceiver Satan! He is the one who has led the whole world astray (Rev 12:9). Through his puppets, he has established false customs in Christendom customs which have originated in the mystery religions of the East, where Babylon had her beginnings.

The main modern proponent of Babylonian customs is described in Revelation as a sumptuously rich but wayward woman. "This title was written on her forehead: Mystery, Babylon the Great, the Mother of Prostitutes and of the Abominations of the Earth" (Rev 17:5). Jesus does not want you following pagan traditions. He is not going to take a bride to Himself who has prostituted herself with the ways of this world. He is going to marry a pure, chaste virgin, untarnished by spiritual promiscuity.

God considers the idolatrous customs of this world as abominations (see Deut 12:31, KJV). Our worship must transcend physical trappings, physical emphasis, physical reliance. It must be in spirit, for it to be acceptable to God.

What does the use of a physical evergreen tree, of holly, of mistletoe, of Yule logs, of coloured decorations, of the exchanging of presents, of physical enjoyment and selfish indulgence, of kindly men in red woollen suits have to do with true worship? Nothing! There is nothing wrong with giving presents, with enjoyment if we are equally concerned about the enjoyment of others, and if it does not contravene God's law of love but to do so as part of the worship and ritual associated with the rebirth of the sun at the time of the winter solstice is nothing short of idolatrous!

These rituals do not honour the God of the Bible and His Son. They honour false and fictitious gods of heathenism! You may think you are honouring the Son, but you are actually honouring the sun which He made! You are committing idolatry and spiritual adultery.

God commands those whom He has called out of this world, to also come out of all the wrong customs accepted by those in the world. "You must not worship the Lord your God in their way" (Deut 12:4).

Jesus commands us to relinquish and renounce the evil ways of modern Babylon: "Come out of her, My people, so that you will not share in her sins, so that you will not receive any of her plagues; for her sins are piled up to heaven, and God has remembered her crimes" (Rev 18:4,5).

Do you want to be part of this condemned worldly religious system? Or do you want to be part of His bride? Are you making yourself ready to be accepted in that number? (Rev 19:7.) The time is now short. It is the midnight hour (Matt 25:6).


Does It Make Any Difference?

32 years ago, as a teenager, God showed me what was wrong with these customs we keep in the Church. He opened my eyes. He showed me that Christmas, Epiphany, Easter, Lent, and all the other traditional festivals the western church has adopted have no Christian basis whatsoever. They have a veneer of being Christian, but the heart and core of their symbolism is heathen. He showed me that He doesn't want us keeping them.

Some Christians cannot understand why it should make any difference. They will fail to perceive until they begin to do what God says.

Abraham did not understand why God asked him to take the precious son God had given him in his old age, and go three days' journey into the wilderness and give him up to God as a sacrifice. But he obeyed. After he obeyed, he understood.

He had proved to God that he would not let anything come between him and His Creator. God also wants to see if there is anything you will allow to come between Him and you. Do you really want Him as much as you think you do?

When the Lord showed me, twenty-eight years ago, that I was taking part in idolatrous festivals that are displeasing to Him, I stopped keeping them. I told my family, so they didn't waste money on presents that I did not really wish to accept, and so they would not feel offended that I had not bought them presents. However, it did offend them, initially, that I had become the 'black sheep' of the family. That is unavoidable. It is not easy breaking with tradition.

But Jesus tells us we are to love God more than our family and friends (Matt 10:37). Although we don't want to hurt them, we cannot deny a point of obedience to God. When we think more of our kith and kin, or of our peer group, than of God, do we stop to consider that we could be offending God more by continuing to enact a lie, than the offence we might temporarily cause our friends when we determine to make a stand for what is right?

God shows us in His Word how He wants us to worship Him. We should not do so in a manner in which He has not commanded. In the case of Christmas, it is in a manner which He has expressly forbidden!

When you stop keeping idolatrous feasts, you will see why God says we should do so. You will see that it does make a difference! You will begin to see a little more of the mind of God.

About three or four years ago, a friend told me something which is very significant. He told me of two words in the Greek New Testament which convey the numerics 666. (The letters of the Greek alphabet have a numeric value, as do some Roman letters.) These two words are tradition and wealth.

Wealth, we know, can be a root of all evil (I Tim 6:10). Whatever we hold in our minds as important as God, is an idol and will corrupt us. Instead of becoming selfless like God, we will become like Satan. Love of money can so easily replace love for God. This is a deadly trap God wants us to beware (Luke 12:15; Matt 6:19-21).

Another suicidal trap is that of following unbiblical tradition. Tradition also conveys the mark of the Beast (Rev 13:16-18) and his number, 666! If we allow human traditions to take a focal point of our spiritual lives, they also become an idol which can cause us to abort spiritually. The only traditions we should adhere to are those God gives us in His Word, which are more unpopular than those of the world.

Pagan traditions such as Christmas, Easter, and Sunday worship can be just such a deadly trap laid by the deceiver to cause our religion to become vain. It has happened before. It will occur again. Humanity continues to make the same mistakes. "They worship Me in vain; their teachings are but rules taught by men" (Matt 15:9).

Such empty worship stems from a corrupt heart (v 8). If we continue on in corrupt practices once we know the truth, we will fall into that satanic trap Satan has laid for us in church tradition. We will become tainted with his mark and that of his followers.

If you don't want that, you need to come out (Rev 18:4), as I did 32 years ago, and have nothing to do with the evil works of darkness (Eph 5:11).


The Need For A Balanced Approach

"It is generally acknowledged that December 25th was not the actual date on which Jesus was born and that many of today's Christmas customs stem from pre-Christian origins. Does this mean, then, that Christians must refuse to share meals with family and friends during the season? Should one's mission in life be an anti-Christmas crusade? Communism, with its atheistic roots, has done away with Christmas in countries where it has come to power. Atheist organizations, because of their opposition to any religious expression, have filed lawsuits in an attempt to outlaw Christmas activities in public schools (along with Bible reading and prayer). If Christians were to take such actions as boycotting schools, by pulling their children out of school during the Christmas season lest they partake in programs or plays they would unwittingly place themselves on the same side as the atheists! A fanatical opposition to Christmas can cause unnecessary hurt among family and friends, and fuel the fires of misunderstanding and division. Because of the unique vulnerability, it seems obvious that a proper balance, an avoidance of extremes, is in order." (Babylon Mystery Religion, Ancient and Modern, p 145.)

In countering one evil, we must be careful not to promote something far worse. Tragically, many ritualistic 'Christians' who have stopped keeping Christmas will stand in judgement of their Christian brothers and sisters who observe in ignorance this tradition of men. While Christmas celebrations have no Christian justification, those who observe them, unaware of the fact that they are disobeying God, are forgiven by Him for doing so. (Wilful disobedience, of course, is a different matter.) If God does not condemn them, who are we to do so?

Let us not think self-righteously that we are any better than others because we don't keep Christmas. "Who are you to judge someone else's servant? To his own master he stands or falls. And he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand" (Rom 14:4).

That considered, we must not forget our individual obligation to do as we see in God's Word. "Be careful not to be ensnared by inquiring about their gods, saying, 'How do these nations serve their gods? We will do the same.' You must not worship the Lord your God in their way, because in worshipping their gods, they do all kinds of detestable things the Lord hates See that you do all I command you; do not add to it or take away from it" (Deut 12:30-32).

It is up to you what you do. "But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord" (Josh 24:15).

Malcolm B Heap, November 1994.
(This article first appeared in Awake! Awake! of Dec 1994.)


1
The Catholic Encyclopedia, Vol. 3, p 724, art. 'Christmas'.
2 Ibid. p 725.
3 The Encyclopedia Americana, Vol. 6, p 623.
4 Frazer, The Golden Bough, p 471.
5 The Catholic Encyclopedia, op. cit.
6 Ibid.
7 Walsh, Curiosities of Popular Customs, p 242.

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If you would like to receive this article together with others about Christmas in illustrated printed format, please send 2.00 ($3.00 US) and ask for "Christmas Articles."
(Midnight Ministries, PO Box 29, Aylesbury, HP17 8TL, UK.)
For more information refer to Publications of Midnight Ministries.

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Prophetic Words About Christmas

November 23, 1998: I speak to you today to maintain a pure conscience before Me. Walk in truth and light. Refuse to fall into the fantasy of the days ahead. Some would call these days "holidays" or holy days, but do not be deceived into thinking there is anything holy about the world's traditions and materialism. I say it is idolatry in its grandest form. Loose yourselves from this bondage and idolatry, and seek Me with a whole heart. Have nothing to do with self interest and greed; rather rise up in spiritual purity before My face, and refuse to be distracted by what is unholy.

Marsha Burns

November 21, 1998: I am stirring hearts and bringing conviction and opportunity for repentance. I am drawing My people into a place of greater obedience, more strength and fervent love. The choices are there. The choice is yours. Will you yield completely to My call? Will you say yes to My proposal? Will you be My bride? The choice is yours and yours alone. Are you willing to forsake all and yield to My purposes? Come and be one with Me in heart and purpose. Come away with Me, My beloved.

Marsha Burns

Bill and Marsha Burns, FAITH TABERNACLE

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Further Reading

The Shocking Truth About Christmas: This publication goes deeper into the origin and meaning of the trappings that we associate with Christmas. Available from Russell K Tardo, PO Box 496, Arabi, Louisiana 70032, USA.

Who is the End-Time Elijah? God promised to send us Elijah the prophet before the end of the Age and the Day of the Lord. Is he a man or more than a man? God is moving, and will do more! 52 page booklet, 2.00.

The Controversy Concerning Law and Grace: This booklet explains the relevance of works in the believer's life. Most believers misunderstand the matter of God's grace and His attitude towards 'law'. His grace does not exempt us from moral duty! Here is the truth from the New Testament. It may surprise you! 56 page booklet, 2.00.

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Copyright: Midnight Ministries, PO Box 29, Aylesbury, HP17 8TL, UK
www.midnightministries.org.uk