This short Bible study will answer the question of just WHEN was CHRIST in CHRISTMAS.
Origin of the word
The word we know as 'Christmas' simply cannot be found anywhere in scripture! It is a compound word created by the Catholic church to designate the celebrating of the birth of CHRIST with a MASS on the evening of December 24th.
The idea of even celebrating Jesus' birth is a concept totally foreign to the Gospel writers of the New Testament. Their accounts of his birth are relatively brief, especially when compared to each Gospel narrative dedicating about one third of its length to the last week of Christ's life. From a Biblical perspective, his birth is far less important to the salvation of the world than his death.
Images and Symbols
The clear non-Biblical origin of all the images and symbols of the holiday are openly reported and discussed by newspapers, magazines, television shows, books, encyclopedias, Web sites, and so on.
For example, one Christmas history site openly admitted that the basis for the holiday dates well before Jesus' time. Traditions such as having a yule log, giving gifts to each other, parades, singing from house to house, etc. can be traced all the way back to the early Mesopotamians who lived in the region of the Euphrates river valley.
Another popular reference site on the Web admitted that many of the trappings of the holiday were 'borrowed' from several pre-Christian sources. These borrowed traditions included gift-giving, merrymaking and the use of lights from Roman pagan celebrations. Borrowed from Teutonic feasts were the use of Yule logs as well as eating certain foods.
According to one history site, long before the time of Jesus Christ people thought that trees that were green for the entire year had a special meaning. Anciently, boughs made of evergreens were placed on windows and doors. Some believed that such boughs would keep away evil spirits like ghosts. The ancient Egyptians also used evergreens for decoration and believed they represented eternal life.
According to Hislop's book entitled The Two Babylons the Christmas tree was quite common in both the empires of Egypt and Rome. The Egyptians used a palm tree which represented to them their pagan savior Baal-Tamar. Romans used a fir tree which to them symbolized their god Baal-Berith.
1881 Thomas Nast drawing
Madonna and Child
It does seem a bit strange that when people say they are celebrating Jesus' birthday they seem to focus on him strictly as a small, non-threatening (and non-demanding) baby. Why is Christ seemingly forever viewed only as a baby during Christmas?
According to the Two Babylons, the Babylonians worshipped a Mother Goddess and her son. They were often seen together, in images and pictures, as a baby in the arms of his mother. The worship of "Madonna and child" has spread throughout the world from Babylon. The 'mother and child' were worshipped as Isis and Osiris. In India they were called Isi and Iswara, in Rome as they were called Fortuna and Jupiter, in Greece it was Ceres and her babe. It was in, however, the 4th century that Jesus' mother Mary was considered not just another righteous believer along with the disciples and apostles but as the very Queen of heaven [4000 Years of Christmas, page 34].
Trimming the tree
A study of the Bible finds what is likely a Christmas tree.
1 The Lord said: Listen to me, you people of Israel. 2 Don't follow the customs of those nations who become frightened when they see something strange happen in the sky. 3 Their religion is worthless! They chop down a tree, carve the wood into an idol, 4 cover it with silver and gold, and then nail it down so it won't fall over (Jeremiah 10)
There is debate as to whether this verse is talking about a decorated tree, or a carved idol. But in either case, WHAT DOES GOD THINK ABOUT IT? Verse 3 tells us 'Their religion is worthless!'
Even those who have consciously attempted to include seemingly Biblical references and events to their celebration of Christmas often still have only pieces of the truth. For example, many people think that the angels announcing Jesus birth shouted to those in Bethlehem and in its fields the phrase "Peace on earth, good will to men." Although the KJV Bible DOES have this phrase, its translation into English of the original phrase from the Greek was not accurate. For starters, Jesus himself did not say he came to bring peace.
34. Do not think that I have come to bring peace on the earth; I did not come to bring peace, but a sword (Matthew 10)
14. "Glory to God in the highest, and peace on earth among men of goodwill" (Luke 2)
In other words, peace does not just drop on anyone on earth - the unrepentant, those who reject God, thieves, adulterers, etc. - just because they live on the planet. Jesus' birth brings peace to those who do GOOD.
HOW we should worship?
In the end, the only questions that really matter are: What does GOD think about it? What does he think about adopting the customs and traditions of other religions and religious belief systems and using them to worship HIM? When ancient Israel was about to go into Canaan to inherit the land God promised to their forefathers, He warned them about the people already living in the land.
30 But that's when you must be especially careful not to ask, 'How did those nations worship their gods? Shouldn't we worship the Lord in the same way?' 31 NO, YOU SHOULD NOT! The Lord hates the disgusting way those nations worship their gods, because they even burn their sons and daughters as sacrifices. " (Deuteronomy 12)
God is not specifically warning Israel in the above verses about abandoning him completely and worshipping foreign pagan gods. But what he IS warning the Israelites is that after they enter the land they should NOT attempt to find out how the people in the land worship THEIR gods - and apply such traditions and customs to HIM!
God, through the laws and statutes he gave Israel well before they crossed the Jordan (e.g. the first several books of the Bible), already gave his people all they basics they needed to know to properly worship him. The Israelites, from the time they left Egypt, dealt DIRECTLY with God through Moses! They even received the Ten Commandments written by the very finger of God! How, then, could the pagans in the land of promise top THAT in regard to how best to worship the Creator of the universe?
But, some may ask whether God really cares about the details regarding worship or anything else.
1 Nadab and Abihu were two of Aaron's sons, but they disobeyed the Lord by burning incense to him on a fire pan (they offered 'strange fire' as other translations state), when they were not supposed to. 2 Suddenly the Lord sent fiery flames and burned them to death. (Leviticus 10)
1. Now here is a summary of the things being discussed: We have such a High Priest Who sat down at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens; 2. A minister of the sanctuary and of the true tabernacle, which the Lord set up, and not man. 3. For every high priest is ordained to offer both gifts and sacrifices; therefore, it is necessary for this one also to have something that He can offer . . . 5. (the priests) Who serve as a representation . . . exactly as Moses was divinely instructed . . . "For see," says He, "that you make ALL THINGS according to the pattern that was shown to you in the mountain." (Hebrews 8)
Nadab and Abihu were Aaron the High Priest's two oldest sons. They were important leaders in Israel. In fact, they were some of the very few who were invited to accompany, part way, Moses up mount Sinai (Exodus 24). They offered, however, 'strange fire,' which basically means they offered incense before God in an unacceptable manner (i.e. they knew better). Yet for something you or I might think was not all that important was critical enough for God to strike the two men DEAD right in front of his tabernacle for all to see! And as for Hebrews 8, Paul tells us that God specifically warned Moses to construct the tabernacle - ALL the things that made up the tabernacle - EXACTLY as he was told on the mountain. So, it looks like details do really matter to the Eternal!
Some may still say that what happened to Aaron's sons was unfortunate but not totally unusual since (as the reasoning goes) the "God" of the Old Testament sometimes seemed to be rather demanding, harsh and quick to punish. But in the New Testament, under the New Covenant (again, as the reasoning goes), we have a loving and kind Jesus who would never dish out such an immediate punishment - especially for stuff that seems minor. The God of the New Testament, who gave his only Son for our sins, is now far too nice to be concerned about all the little details. Really?
34. For neither was anyone among them in want; for as many as were owners of lands or houses sold them and brought the amounts of those things that were sold, 35. And laid the money at the feet of the apostles; and distribution was made to each one according to his need.
1. Now a certain man named Ananias, with his wife Sapphira, sold a possession, 2. And kept back part of the price for himself, his wife also being aware of it; and he brought a certain portion and laid it at the apostles' feet (Acts 4:34-35; 5:1-2)
The apostle Peter somehow discovered that Ananias and Sapphira were PRETENDING to give all the money from their sale of their land to the church. The couple had, in reality, kept part of the money back for themselves. Apparently, they wanted others to THINK they were very generous when they were not. When Peter confronted Ananias about what the couple were doing God decided he would act swiftly regarding the issue.
3. But Peter said . . . You have not lied to men, but to God." 5. And when Ananias heard these words, he fell down and expired; (verses 3, 5)
God killed Ananias right on the spot! And, when Peter confronted Sapphira about what the couple did, God killed her immediately as well (Acts 5:10)! God's judgment in the New Testament certainly came as swift as it did in the Old Testament! Yes, God is concerned about details - especially when it comes to a relationship with him and how he is worshipped.
Reason for the Christmas Season
The real reason for the Christmas season is to confuse and deceive people about what the Bible teaches in general and the real story about Jesus' birth in particular. The devil has done a superb job of mixing a good amount of deception with a little bit of truth to produce a religious holiday that appeals both the head and to the heart of the average deceived person in the world. The holiday and all its customs and trappings, at its core, is a compilation of many man-made traditions (see Matthew 15:9) that, as a package, masquerade as the truth of God. Now that you know the TRUTH, that Jesus was NEVER in the holiday, the final question is: What are YOU going to do about it?