Tuesday, December 25

Merry Christmas

Christians have celebrated the incarnation and nativity of the Lord Jesus on December 25 since at least the early part of the third century—just a few generations removed the days of the Apostles. By 336, when the Philocalian Calendar—one of the earliest documents of the Patriarchal church—was first utilized, Christmas Day was already a venerable and tenured tradition. Though there is no historical evidence that Christ was actually born on this day—indeed, whatever evidence there is points to altogether different occasions—the conversion of the old Pagan tribes of Europe left a gaping void where the ancient winter cult festivals were once held. It was both culturally convenient and evangelically expedient to exchange the one for the other.

And so joy replaced desperation. Celebration replaced propitiation. Christmas Feasts replaced new Moon sacrifices. Christ replaced Baal, Molech, Apollo, and Thor. In other words, it wasn’t that the new Christian calendar was an accommodation to the old Pagan calendar, it was that Christ had begun the process of converting the culture. Glad tidings of great joy, indeed.

5 comments:

Richard G. Williams, Jr. said...

Thank you George. This is such refreshing commentary compared to the criticism of the holiday I hear so often from so many believers.

Jim said...

Dr. Grant, there's a footnote in David Chilton's "Days of Vengeance," that uses an astronomical reading of Rev. 12:1 to calculate Jesus' birth as having occurred on Sept. 11, 3 B.C., (very near the same time of the morning EST as the Al Qaeda attacks). Of course, Chilton wrote this in 1987, so the coincidence is eerie, unless one posits that Al Qaeda, wishing to make a symbolic statement, might have timed the attacks for this reason. This would assume that they, being Easterners, would interpret the star signs in Revelation as zodiacal. It's a stretch, but plausible. Strange, huh?

Gabe said...

Amen!


Gabe Martini | Louisville, KY
http://franciscanmafia.wordpress.com

Kurt said...

"It was both culturally convenient and evangelically expedient to exchange the one for the other." - George

"This is such refreshing commentary compared to the criticism of the holiday I hear so often from so many believers." - Richard

George, yes, Scripture is replete with examples of how God's prophets extolled the virtue of His people turning pagan religious practices and rights and transforming them into worship that was pleasing to the one true God. Deut 12:30 is one verse that comes to mind.

It's such a shame that the Apostles just didn't get it about Christ's "birthday." I'm thankful that the more Scripturally and religiously astute Christian "leaders" several centuries later finally got it right! :>)

Richard, I agree with you! What's wrong with those Christians who don't want to return to those "weak and beggarly elements" that Paul and Peter chastised both Christian Jews and Hellenistic Christians in the first century. Don't they know how much fun and "spiritual" keeping those "days, years, and seasons" can be? :>)

Strong Tower said...

Sep 11-

Hmmm? Nah!

And when the time came for their purification according to the Law of Moses, they brought him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord (as it is written in the Law of the Lord, “Every male who first opens the womb shall be called holy to the Lord”) and to offer a sacrifice according to what is said in the Law of the Lord, “a pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons.”

The Lord spoke to Moses, saying, “Speak to the people of Israel, saying, ‘If a woman conceives and bears a male child, then she shall be unclean seven days. As at the time of her menstruation, she shall be unclean. And on the eighth day the flesh of his foreskin shall be circumcised. Then she shall continue for thirty-three days in the blood of her purifying. She shall not touch anything holy, nor come into the sanctuary, until the days of her purifying are completed...Nevertheless, the firstborn of man you shall redeem, and the firstborn of unclean animals you shall redeem. And their redemption price (at a month old you shall redeem them) you shall fix at five shekels in silver, according to the shekel of the sanctuary, which is twenty gerahs...Today, in the month of Abib, you are going out...Every firstborn of man among your sons you shall redeem....

Supposing that Jesus is the Firstfruit of firstfruit, the earliest grains became ripe in early Spring. Now, it came about that Naomi had heard that the Lord had visited His people with bread. This was in the Spring, so she traveled from the East, though women, they came from afar like wise men seeking this bread from heaven, seeking a redeemer.

The Passover is a unique time. It was in the month of Abib when the first presenting of the first-born was made. It is the time of the presentation of the firstfruits. First fruit is picked uniquely because of their "purity". They are not of the common harvest. It was also the time of the Unleavened bread, pure and undefiled coming down out of heaven, and of a presentation of a lamb held up to God as Simeon does of Christ, the choosing of the paschal. And, what is also unique about this time, is that is it a time of rain which comes down out of heaven going forth and accomplishing God's will, flooding the Jordan and dividing among the people a portion for the Lord.

Under the law a sacrifice was to be offered for purification thirty days, plus eight perhaps, and then Jesus was presented in the temple. If keeping the Law in type, at least, then Jesus was presented in the month of Abib. Now Abib, may have taken place that year after the addition of Vedar, and if that is the case then Jesus was born sometime in the early Spring.