THE TRUTH ABOUT CHRISTMAS By J.J. Jackson
I have met some very sincere Christians who strongly hold the same view as Gerald Flurry. The Christmas time abuses are sadly too evident, and the pagan additions too obvious. But there is another side to the story which cries out to be heard but has not enjoyed publicity. If you will bear with me, I would like to share it with you.
In my COMPANION Bible appendix, I read that first century Christians did celebrate the birth of Christ. They celebrated it on the first day of the Feast of Tabernacles. The significance is overwhelming, but I will come back to that. On the Bible Calendar that day was the 15th day of the Seventh month, and that day was always the 5th day of the week and five is the number of GRACE.
Centuries later that date was fixed on our Roman calendar as the 29th September. They called it Michael and All Angels Day since that was the day when ALL the angels announced the birth of Christ to the astonished shepherds. It is now still known as MICHAEL MASS Day.
My Companion Bible further stated that those early Christians also celebrated the conception of Christ as the day of ANNUNCIATION when Gabriel made the announcement to Mary. They believed that it was on the last day of the Festival of Lights (HANNUKAH). That Feast lasted from the 25th day of the ninth month to the first day of the tenth month. That day again was the fifth day of the week and 5 is the number of GRACE.
That Jesus, the “Light of the world” should have been conceived during the Festival of Lights surely must be significant. Now that date was fixed on our Roman calendar as the 25th of December, and it was nine months before the date of His birth. Why did the “CHURCH FATHERS” not tell us this? Paul had warned the Ephesians day and night with tears for three years that as soon as he was gone wolves would enter the fold. Jude, at the time of his writing, announced it as something already happening and called on his hearers to “earnestly contend for the faith once delivered unto the saints.” John who wrote some thirty years later revealed that it had already happened and that there were many Antichrists who denied the deity of Christ and the Father Son relationship in the Godhead. The fact is that almost immediately after the death of Paul, Gnosticism, from the academic world of Alexandria, tore Christendom apart. Since then, there have been many deviations from true doctrine. And much was lost. And the Church Fathers held different and sometimes opposing views. In our research it is therefore necessary to go further back and especially to the Feasts of Israel.
Returning to the Feast of Tabernacles, it commemorated the temporary dwellings of Israel as they wandered through the wilderness for forty years. Those temporary dwellings are called “skenos” in Greek and are translated “tabernacles” (or “booths”). Twice Paul, and twice Peter called our temporary mortal bodies “tabernacles” in contrast to our expected immortal resurrection bodies. John wrote: “And the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us” (1:14). The word “dwelt” in the original text, in this case, is “skenoo.” It is the verb meaning dwelling in a skenos. Therefore, one Bible translation reads, “and tabernacled among us.” The wonder of the birth of Jesus is that God took on a mortal body like ours. It only became immortal at His resurrection.
The Feast of Tabernacles was to be a very joyful feast. The word “MERRY” is very fitting. Scripture says that their booths had to be decorated with beautiful branches. Josephus, emphasizing this point tells of the beautiful fruit they used for decoration. If it is correct that Jesus was born on the first day of the Feast, then He would have been named, circumcised and blessed on the eighth or last day of the Feast, which was again the fifth day of the week. The fact that Jesus attended these Feasts is significant and more so that He made some profound statements on those occasions.
We read in the book of Leviticus where God ordained His Feasts, He categorically stated that they should be kept by all generations forever. That surely means that any lapses need to be rectified. And we read that they will be. Zechariah 14:16-18 tells us that all nations will come up annually to Jerusalem to worship the LORD and to “keep the Feast of Tabernacles.” Does that not mean that the whole world will celebrate the birth of Christ forever?
A few words on the Bible Calendar are now necessary. The discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls revealed some profound calendar facts. The Essenes were outraged against the Pharisees because they had changed the Bible Calendar from Solar to Lunar. They did it about the middle of the First Century. The Bible Calendar’s standard year was exactly 52 weeks (364 days). At the end of every Sabbath (7th) year they added another week, and at the end of every fourth Sabbath (28th) year they added a second week. That gave an exact average year length of 365 and a quarter days. The week cycle remained sacred and inviolate from the day of creation, and the Feast days remained fixed to their appropriate days of the week.
In contrast the current Jewish calendar year is 354 days and every third year they add a thirteenth month (Veadar) to keep pace with the seasons. And their feast days are each year on different days of the week. And Scripture translators have changed “rosh chodesh” (month beginnings) to “new moons,” which would have been “rosh yareach.” In the New Testament they changed Jesus’ word “nou menia” (month beginning) to “new moons” which would have been “nou selene.” See my book on the Bible Calendar.
The Feasts of Israel are of profound significance. Jesus had to be crucified on Passover day. His Spirit had to be outpoured on the exact day of Pentecost, and He led the greatest Exodus of souls from Hades to Heaven at the very time Israel was celebrating their departure from Egypt. Those three points alone must urge us to take a closer look at the Feasts.
Twice Gabriel told Mary that her cousin, Elizabeth, was six months pregnant. That repetition points to exactitude. Exactly 6 months before the first day of Tabernacles is Passover Day. That means that John the Baptist was born on Passover Day. How appropriate! His calling was to introduce the Passover Lamb of God to the nation, which he did. It also means that on the eighth day following Passover Day was when he was named and circumcised and blessed. Now that day was the 21st of the first month and it was an annual Sabbath commemorating the crossing of the Red Sea. Paul in 1 Corinthians 10:1-2 likens that to the BAPTISM of the nation. This little boy named that day was to be called John the BAPTIST, and he did baptise the nation. On that day also the Holy Spirit spoke over the loosened tongue of John’s father saying“Blessed be the Lord God of Israel who hath visited and redeemed His people.” And very profound words followed. This is a MAJOR truth which Christendom is hardly aware of. Moving on to the Festival of LIGHTS, this Feast was introduced by John Maccabeus. God gave him astounding victories over the forces of Antiochus Epiphanes who had outrageously defiled the temple for over three years. The cleansing of the temple was most thoroughly completed and celebrated by a Feast. In the New Testament it was called the Feast of Dedication and Jesus attended it and also uttered profound words on the occasion. Lights were a prominent feature of that Feast, and how appropriate it is that our Christmas celebrations are a display of lights! Even the Dutch and Afrikaans names for Christmas are “Kersfees” which means candle festival.
So let us celebrate Christmas with dedication, with beautiful lights, and with beautiful decorative vegetation, and with great Joy. It is something we will do annually forever.
Concerning the objections raised by Gerald Flurry I have this to say. All good things are the target of Satan who uses every endeavor to debase them. See what he has done to PASSOVER. We even call it Easter after the name of the pagan goddess of heaven, and its objects include rabbits and Easter eggs. Yet what a profoundly sacred time is it not for Christians!
No, in spite of all the flaws Christmas is the greatest show of goodwill to the world. It has even brought a pause to hostilities between civilized countries. All its publicity tells the world that Christ was born.
The commercial aspect even has some justification. It was so in the Bible with PASSOVER. The lambs were bred and fed in Bethlehem. There they were bought for the great occasion. And I heard a very good message from a Baptist minister explaining that is was in a Passover Lamb feeding trough where Baby Jesus was laid (Not a cattle manger). How Significant!
God commanded Israel to deliberately put money aside and spend it all on whatever the family’s heart desired at the Feasts of joy, like Tabernacles.
The Scripture quoted about chopping a tree down relates to the carving of idols in Israel’s idolatry, and not to the “goodly boughs” they were ordered to use for the decoration of their festive booths.
The preoccupation with birthdays of pagan gods seems out of place. God’s chronology was set in the stars long before the advent of any of those gods. When the time for the birth of the Messiah came the wise men looked at the stars. The pagans had no prior claim to any dates.
Below are a few more words on Christmas:
But the greatest wonder of all is the realization that God, Who created all the teeming life, Who designed every flower, painted every butterfly, and gave to every bird its song, came, and was born into the human family, became one of us, in order to save us from the fatal path of sin we are following, and to give us eternal life. It is that remarkable birth we celebrate on Christmas day.
So, Christmas is a season of goodwill when everybody greets everybody with a smile. That is when gifts are given to family and friends, and often to strangers as well. That is when hearts reach out to others, and especially to children, and it is when the needy receive special consideration, when the lonely are shown extra warmth, and the aged extra love.
But the most wonderful thrill of Christmas is the expectation of the greatest Christmas yet to be, when Jesus will return in person, in full glory, and will come to be King over all the earth. Then goodwill will be the order of the day, everywhere, and always. Then His entire creation will rejoice. The Bible tells us so much about that Great Day!