Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Where did Christmas come from? When Was Jesus Born?


For “Scripture Sunday”: late again as I just got my old computer back.

Where did Christmas come from?


“If it can be shown that the historical birth of Jesus wasn’t the real root of the holiday, where did it come from?

Hislop explains this as well: “Long before the fourth century, and long before the Christian era itself, a festival was celebrated among the heathen [that is, the pagans], at that precise time of the year, in honour of the birth of the son of the Babylonian queen of heaven; and it may fairly be presumed that, in order to conciliate the heathen, and to swell the number of the nominal adherents of Christianity, the same festival was adopted by the Roman Church, giving it only the name of Christ. This tendency on the part of Christians to meet Paganism half-way was very early developed” (ibid., p. 93).

Secular and biblical evidence shows that the modern Christmas traditions came from the ancient winter solstice or Mithraic festival, adopted and celebrated by the Romans.

“Christmas has its origin in two ancient festivals, the great Yule-feast of the Norsemen and the Roman Saturnalia. During the Saturnalia, gifts were made by the wealthy to the poor in honor of the golden age of liberty when Saturn ruled the known world, and slaves were allowed to change places and clothing with their masters. They even elected their own king who, for the period of the festival, ruled as a despot. The Saturnalia involved the wildest debauchery, and was a festival of Pan himself” (Richard Cavendish, Man, Myth and Magic, 1983, Vol. 2, p. 480).

The Catholic writer Tertullian complained around A.D. 230 about the ancient festival period that led to Christmas: “‘By us … who are strangers to [Jewish] Sabbaths and new moons, and festivals, once acceptable to God, the Saturnalia, the feasts of January, the Brumalia, and Matronalia, are now frequented; gifts are carried to and fro, new year’s day presents are made with din, and sports and banquets are celebrated with uproar; oh, how much more faithful are the heathen to their religion, who take special care to adopt no solemnity from the Christians’” (quoted by Hislop, p. 93).

“Upright men strove to stem the tide, but in spite of all their efforts, the apostacy went on, till the Church, with the exception of a small remnant, was submerged under Pagan superstition. That Christmas was originally a Pagan festival, is beyond all doubt. The time of the year, and the ceremonies with which it is still celebrated, prove its origin” (ibid.).

The bottom line: Christmas came from a pre-Christian, pagan festival."

From: https://www.ucg.org/beyond-today/beyond-today-magazine/would-jesus-celebrate-christmas


When Was Jesus Born?  (It is easy to figure it out by the Bible)

Did His birth occur on December 25th? Can we even know when Christ was born? And, should we really be celebrating His birth?

image"We find the important clues about the real time of Jesus’ birth in what the Bible tells us about His cousin, John the Baptist.

Maybe you’ve read the Gospel of Luke and thought it was strange that the book and the story begins not with the story of the conception of Jesus, but with the story of the conception of John the Baptist. There’s a very good reason for this. Luke was sure to tell us in very specific detail when John the Baptist was conceived and born.

In Luke 1, it tells us that John’s mother, Elizabeth was six months pregnant when Jesus was conceived.

“In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary…” (Luke 1:24-27).

Elizabeth, the mother of John the Baptist, and Mary, the mother of Jesus, were cousins. That means that from this verse, we know that John was six months older than Jesus. So we can discover the approximate time of year Jesus was born if we know when John was born.

Now let’s look at what the Bible tells us about the time of John’s birth.

John’s father, Zacharias, was a priest serving in the Temple at Jerusalem. The Bible tells us that he and his wife were both righteous people who put their hearts into serving God. Zacharias, we’re told, was a priest who served in “the division of Abijah” (Luke 1:5). At this time, the Temple priests in Jerusalem were divided into several different “divisions” or what were called “courses” - or groups of priests that would take turns performing Temple service during the year. It’s like a yearly schedule for those serving at the Temple. There were so many priests at the time that they had to be set up on a schedule to have their time to serve in the Temple.

Now, here’s what’s important. Historians calculate that the course of Abijah mentioned by Luke, during which Zacharias served, happened from June 13-19 in that year ( The Companion Bible , 1974, Appendix 179, p. 200).

The announcement therefore to Zacharias in the Temple as to the conception of John the Baptist took place between June 13-19 as our calendar has it today in that year.

During his Temple service, the angel Gabriel appeared to Zacharias and announced to him that he and his wife Elizabeth would have a child (Luke 1:8-13). After he completed his service and traveled home, Elizabeth conceived the cousin of Jesus; the child that would one day become John the Baptist (Luke 1:23-24). It seems that John’s conception took place near the end of June which was after the division of Abijah and Zecharias completed his Temple service, adding nine months brings us to the end of March the next year as the most likely time for John’s birth.

Adding another six months - the difference between the ages of John and Jesus (Luke 1:35-36) - brings us to the end of September as the likely time of Jesus’ birth.

Now, when we look back and we look at this timeframe, we learn some interesting facts.

Zacharias, remember, was serving during the course of Abijah which was in the middle part of June of that year when he heard the announcement of his son’s birth. He went home, his wife conceived John the Baptist toward the end of June that year. Nine months later, John the Baptist was born in the spring, probably during the month of March as we know it today.

Six months later, Jesus Christ was born. Therefore, Christ is six months younger than his cousin and was born most likely in the fall sometime in the timeframe of September or October of that year.

So, if it’s provable using what we know from the Bible and some historical research that Jesus was born in the autumn of the year instead of the middle of winter in December, does that mean then we should keep Christmas or Christ’s birth and celebrate it in September instead of December? No it doesn’t.

For this reason: Nowhere in the Bible is there any instruction or command to commemorate or in any way celebrate the day of Christ’s birth. The fact that so many specific dates are given about other important and even less important events in the Bible, yet this exact date - the date of Christ’s birth - remains vague, that is significant.

For this reason: Nowhere in the Bible is there any instruction or command to commemorate or in any way celebrate the day of Christ’s birth. The fact that so many specific dates are given about other important and even less important events in the Bible, yet this exact date - the date of Christ’s birth - remains vague, that is significant.

God didn’t intend for this specific date, the date of Christ’s birth, to be celebrated. Now God does give us other specific days to observe that honor Christ and the Father. We do not need to invent our own days and times to do this. For those who love God and His Son, it is only natural to desire to worship both of them. But it is far better to worship God and Jesus Christ on the days and the times God has set.

As for the celebration of Christmas in December: Remember what we read earlier about the Roman church adopting pagan practices into the Christian faith to create Christmas. Jesus wouldn’t want us to celebrate pagan days as a means of honoring His birth. Now how can I make such a statement?

How do we know what Jesus would or would not want us to do? God makes it very clear He does not like pagan practices and He pretty well lays it out for us in one passage of the Bible that we should take note about. It says this in the book of Deuteronomy.

“When the LORD your God cuts off from before you the nations which you go to dispossess, and you displace them and dwell in their land, take heed to yourself that you are not ensnared to follow them, after they are destroyed from before you, and that you do not inquire after their gods, saying, ‘How did these nations serve their gods? I also will do likewise.’ You shall not worship the LORD your God in that way; for every abomination to the LORD which He hates they have done to their gods; for they burn even their sons and daughters in the fire to their gods. ‘Whatever I command you, be careful to observe it; you shall not add to [it] nor take away from it’ ” (Deuteronomy 12:29-32 ,NKJV)."

Excerpt from: https://www.ucg.org/beyond-today/beyond-today-television-program/when-was-jesus-born


“What’s all this about?” 

Christmas is here again.

imageIt seems every year some are just trying to find out what the real meaning of Christmas is about. They get tired of the commercialism, the pressure to give the right gift and when it’s all over there is an emotional let down. Something is not quite right. Something is missing.

If you find yourself still asking “what’s all this about?”  . You’re going to be surprised. Christ’s birth is not about trees and tinsel and lights and gifts. It’s about something far more important. Let’s look at “The Real Meaning of Christ’s Birth.”  Read:https://www.ucg.org/beyond-today/beyond-today-television-program/the-real-meaning-of-christs-birth



To install the new window in the guest house, we had to move the air conditioner.  It had just been put in that wall temporarily.  All this had to be done before we could finish insulating, paneling or put the siding on the outside of that wall.  We framed up for the window and installed it.  Then we framed up the new place for the air conditioner, but it was too cold to cut through the plywood to install it.  We just about froze in there, even with a portable heater going full blast.  The air conditioner is also a heater, so we need to get that back in there ASAP. 

The next day, it was very cold again, so we did some jobs in this, the main house.  One ceiling fan had started making an aggravating ticking noise, so it was taken apart, the cause found and remedied.   As our SPCA cat habitat will be closed for the holidays I would be taking care of my foster-kitten, Purrcy, who has been on display there, so we got things ready for him.  He is a very rambunctious little boy-cat so I had to “child-proof” my bathroom where he would be staying for a week.  He loves it at the habitat so he will go back there to, hopefully, be adopted, just like his sister little Pixie was. 

The refurbished computer didn’t work very well, and I struggled with it until my old one was brought back, all fixed, thanks to a great gentleman at our church.

For the church potluck, I had loaded a great big ground beef, potato, veggie, mushroom soup casserole dish in the van with my Bible and all the other things that I take to church.  But as I backed out I could tell there was something wrong.  It had a flat tire on a wheel that is hidden from view when it is in the carport.  The Emergency Road Service said that there were a high volume of calls and it would be a while.  I called my helper so he came and changed the wheel.  The spare is a donut and it makes a weird rubbing noise, so I want to get that off quickly.  Knowing that I would be late for church, I thought that there might not be time for the casserole to warm up enough, so I transferred the food into an electric chef’s kettle and turned it to ‘warm’ during the service.  When it was time to eat, my food thermometer showed that the food was safe to eat at over 165°.  Most stomach ills could be prevented if everyone followed Food Manager practices.  I know I have become sick after a potluck where that wasn’t done.

The Bible readings were Gen. 32:4 to I don’t know, as I wasn’t there, then Obe. 1:21, Hos 11:7-12:12, and Rev. 7:1-17. and the Teaching was about “Being Saved”, and Deut. 6:5-25, but mostly verse 14 “You shall not go after other gods, the gods of the people who are around all round you”  That could be the god of money!  And John 14:15 ”He who loves me will keep my commandments”.

I still have the young little dog who was abandoned, but her owner’s boyfriend is going to pick her up soon.  I hope that they will get her fixed before she has another litter of pups and keep up with the heartworm and flea preventative that I have given her.  Some folks just aren’t reponsible enough to have pets, or kids.

When it warms up tomorrow we hope to get the AC/heater installed in the guest house.  We call it the “Mini-house”.    It is so cold that we decided not to work,  so hopefully I can get the tire fixed today.

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