What does the Bible say?
Celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ? Many "mainstream Christians" do this very thing on each Christmas and many Christian Jews and Churches of God now also celebrate the Nativity during the Feast of Tabernacles some even calling it The Feast of The Nativity! Why would any "Christian" have a problem with such a harmless token of worship? Don't millions of people celebrate their own day of birth? How much more should they celebrate Christ's? What could possibly be wrong with that? Come, let us look into the matter together.
The Birth of Jesus
"Luke2:8 And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9 And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. 10 And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings (news) of great joy, which shall be to all people. 11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord."
Is not this an indication of celebration? Notice that the text says that this great joy ...to all people is in a future context as noted by the words SHALL BE. When is there to be great joy to all people? Not until the Millennial reign of Christ is come, that is when there will be great joy unto all people! This time of "great joy that SHALL BE" told of by the messenger of God does not refer to Jesus' human birth! A saviour is born sounds like a reason for this joy, one might say, but...had Christ saved anyone at that point? Was He anyone's saviour at that point? Had He overcome all temptations to be worthy to act as our intercessor? No, Not at this point ...but Christ would live 33 1/2 years before He had overcome all temptation and was sacrificed for our sins and that is when He became our Saviour! Let us continue on in our study.
Heavenly Hosts' Example
Luke 2:12 "And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. 13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, 14 Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men."
To whom is the glory given here? Was it to the little baby Jesus? Or do we see the glory and praise being given to God in the highest? This is not to say that Jesus becoming flesh was not a great thing, but it is not by His birth that we are saved, neither are we told by God to celebrate it. Does the Scriptural record witness that annually, at this day of Jesus' birth (whichever day it truly was), the heavenly host would once again offer up praise and glory to God in the highest in honor of Jesus' birth? No! Nowhere! Never! If we take the "ideals" of the pagan christmas day and begin to apply them to God's true feast days, then how are we any better than Constantine who blended paganism with the faith once delivered to create modern Christianity?
We will search the scripture for further information together. Shall we?
The Shepherds Example
What did the shepherds do upon witnessing this event? Did they praise the infant and exchange gifts between themselves? Let us read more from Luke's record:
Luke 2:15 "And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us. 16 And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger. 17 And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child. 18 And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds. 19 But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart. 20 And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them".
Please notice that the shepherds gave all praise and glory to God! They did not exalt the day of Jesus' birth nor mark the day in anyway. Interesting, isn't it? Let us read on.
A King is Born?
Should we celebrate that He was born a King?
Matthew 2:1 "Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem, 2 Saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him."
Jesus was born to be King but was not King at the time of His birth (Actually, Herod was king of Judea at this time!) We must take notice that His kingdom is a great future-coming rulership:
Matthew 2:6 "And thou Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, art not the least among the princes of Judah: for out of thee shall come a Governor, that shall rule my people Israel."
Isaiah 9:6 "For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. 7 Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this."
The government of God under the Kingship of Christ has not yet been established on this earth or there would be lasting peace. So should we celebrate the birth of Christ as King now? Before being given over to a death sentence, Jesus had said:
John 18:36 "Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence. 37 Pilate therefore said unto him, Art thou a king then? Jesus answered, Thou sayest that I am a king. To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth. Every one that is of the truth heareth my voice."
Christ was born for a great purpose...but it is that purpose that is to be rejoiced in, not His birth. Our rejoicing and hope lies not in the fact that He was born as a helpless infant, but that He became our great Saviour through enduring all trials and overcoming all things, perfect, blameless, without blemish or spot--for only by His death can we attain our resurrection. He was born so that His life, death, and resurrection would bear witness to God the Father, and not to exalt Himself.
Before the Truth was Compromised
According to the December 23,1996 issue of US News & World Report, "the earliest Christians simply weren't interested in celebrating the Nativity...". The same magazine continues, "..They 'viewed birthday celebrations as heathen'. The third-century church father Origen [a catholic] had declared it a sin to even think of keeping Christ's birthday 'as though he were a king pharoah'."
The early so-called "christians" did not even THINK of holding a festival in honor of ANYONES birth. Let us quote the Catholic Encyclopedia published in 1913AD "..Origen, glancing perhaps at the discreditable imperial Natalitia, asserts (in Lev. Hom. viii in Migne, P.G., XII, 495) that in the Scriptures sinners alone, not saints, celebrate their birthday; Arnobius (VII, 32 in P.L., V, 1264) can still ridicule the "birthdays" of the gods."
Job was a man who kept "the letter of the law" perfectly, let us see how he viewed birthdays.
Job 1:4 "And his sons went and feasted in their houses, every one his [birth] day; and sent and called for their three sisters to eat and to drink with them. 5 And it was so, when the days of their feasting were gone about, that Job sent and sanctified them, and rose up early in the morning, and offered burnt offerings according to the number of them all: for Job said, It may be that my sons have sinned, and cursed God in their hearts. Thus did Job continually".
Job had known that by exalting themselves and usurping God's honor by celebrating "their own day" that his sons' had sinned! You might question that since it only says "every one his day" that it may not refer to birthdays ,but another passage in the same book verifies the truth.
Job 3:1 "After this opened Job his mouth, and cursed his day. 2 And Job spake, and said, 3 Let the day perish wherein I was born, and the night in which it was said, There is a man child conceived."
We see that Job thought that celebrating days of birth was a sin!.
Let us take a look at two birthdays shown to be celebrated in the bible. One is found in Mark's Gospel account:
Mark 6:21 "And when a convenient day was come, that Herod on his birthday made a supper to his lords, high captains, and chief estates of Galilee;"
And another is in Genesis:
Genesis 40:20 "And it came to pass the third day, which was Pharaoh's birthday, that he made a feast unto all his servants: and he lifted up the head of the chief butler and of the chief baker among his servants."
Both these men were pagans and they each declared their own (birth) day making birthday feasts in their own honor! The celebration of each of these two birthdays was culminated in death! The baker to the Pharoah was hung and Herod beheaded John the Baptist at the request of Herodias...is there a reason that the bible only shows birthdays in an evil light? In the bible, only those who do not know God exalted themselves by means of a birthday celebration. How can exalting ones day of birth be harmful? What makes it sinful? Let us seek truth in the matter.
To God Be The Glory
I Corinthians 10:31 "Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God."
Remember that the shepherds did not glorify the infant Jesus but gave all praise and glory to God! When we take a low position, one of servitude, then the Lord will see what is in our heart and He will raise us to glory.
James 4:10 "Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up."
A true converted Christian will not take pride in himself neither would he exalt himself.
Romans 12:3 "For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith." Matthew 23:12 "And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted."
In everything we do the Christian is obliged to give all the glory and honor to God as we were purchased for a costly price and our bodies are no longer our own.
I Corinthians 6:19 "What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? 20 For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's."
Do we celebrate our own birth in honor of God? Or do we stay humble and give ALL glory to God......What did Jesus do? How about Jesus' spiritual rebirth was it "celebrated"? No, it was not - so why should we exalt the physical birth over the spiritual birth?
Ecclesiastes 7:1 A good name is better than precious ointment; and the day of death than the day of one's birth.
Real Reason For His Birth
Why was Jesus born of the flesh?
Hebrews 2:9 But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man.
He was born of the flesh for to suffer death. He is crowned with glory and honor by His death for you and me.
Colossians 1:22 In the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight:
He was blameless and laid down His own life for us sinners and THAT is why The Father has lifted Him up.
Matthew 23:12 And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted. Phillipians 2:5 Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: 6 Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: 7 But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: 8 And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. 9 Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: 10 That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; 11 And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
This is why Jesus Christ has been celebrated by the Father and this is a great example for those of us who are willing to listen and take heed rather than follow our own vain imaginations. Jesus humbled Himself...He did not exalt Himself in a birthday celebration of any kind. He was born.....to die....for you and for me....if we follow His ways.
By His Death
The scriptures teach us of the importance of His sacrificing death. We commemorate His death at Passover annually as shown in I Corinthians:
I Corinthians11:24 "And when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me. 25 After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me. 26 For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord's death till he come."
We are baptized into His death, with true baptism by submersion, symbolizing the death of our old sinful nature. [see Repentance & Baptism]
Romans 6:3 "Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? 4 Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. 5 For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection:"
So we see that it is His death, not His birth, that is told by the scriptures to be recognized. I repeat:
Ecclesiastes 7:1 "A good name is better than precious ointment; and the day of death than the day of one's birth. "
So, will we decide what is good in our own eyes or shall we let the Lord lead us?
A Final Word of Caution
We must be very careful of subtle changes that bring us closer to the doctrines, traditions, and ways of this world. (Remember the WCG.) The churches of God are experiencing a continuous onslaught of blending of traditional ideas with that of the faith once delivered. We must exercise extreme caution and, like the Bereans, ever search the scriptures to prove what is truth. Studying the bible and praying to God for His truth to be revealed is the only way to know how to handle all situations.
Recently, there has been a tendency for many of the churches of God to bring the celebration of Christ's fleshly birth into the Feast of Tabernacles. It is a possibility that Jesus was born during The Feast of Tabernacles, but that is not the purpose of us keeping this Holyday. [see our page on When was Jesus born?] Let me make the following statement clear: Feeling joy because Jesus was born is not wrong and the giving of gifts out of love is not wrong of itself. On the other hand, the calling of the Feast as the feast of the Nativity or likening it to "an eight day long Christmas" or the exchanging of so-called feast gifts are dangerous wolves in sheep clothing. Jesus did not celebrate the day of His fleshly birth, nor had the apostles ever brought Him "Feast Gifts" to celebrate His birth---even the apostate Catholic church, as late as the third century, did not condone the celebration of anyone's birthday. Brothers and Sisters, let us choose all things carefully with the spirit of God guiding our every step. If these "new" customs permeate through the churches, we will have "the Feast of Christmas in the Autumn" and this subtle change will then turn to "new enlightenment" and an attitude of "Why not Christmas?". Move cautiously, my brothers and sisters, the Adversary is stalking us stealthily as a lion does its prey. If we do not turn wholeheartedly to God's word and His will, if we do not hearken to the voice of the Good Shepherd, then we shall be weak sheep and easy victims of Satan's claws.
Phillipians 4:6 Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. 7 And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. 8 Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. 9 Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you.
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©1998 Truth On The Web Ministries: All the articles originated by Kenneth Hoeck and/or Brian Hoeck may be freely distributed or mirrored as long as presented in their entirety (including this statement), attributed to Truth on The Web, and proper author credit given.
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