The Feast of Tabernacles, Hanukkah, and…Christmas? (Part 1: Introduction)

For the majority of the world, the Christmas season is a time of joy and wonderment as decorations are put up in homes and stores and on city streets; attitudes change as strangers who would normally ignore another passerby, instead wish each other a “Merry Christmas!” and families gather together to exchange presents.  And for about a month, secular radio stations that would normally only utter the name of the Savior as a curse, amazingly play songs that sing of His birth and redemption.  The world pauses, and for a short time, the Messiah is recognized.

One of my favorite traditions around the Holidays is to watch A Charlie Brown Christmas on TV with my family.  My wife is a HUGE Snoopy fan, so this has become a much looked forward to event in our home.  The highlight of the show is when Charlie Brown has finally had enough of the commercialism and decorations and pageantry and exasperatedly cries out, “Isn’t there anyone who knows what Christmas is all about?”  It is then that Linus – blue blanket and all – calmly says, “Sure, Charlie Brown. I can tell you what Christmas is all about.”  Linus asks for the lights to come down, and he recites Luke 2:8-14 – the story of the shepherds and the angels.  Then he walks back to Charlie Brown and says, “And that’s what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown.”  Linus’ statement pretty much sums it up for most Christians.

But for many of the most devout and passionate Messiah-followers, Christmas is considered a time of pagan worship; of celebrating evil; of recognizing idolatry.  These Believers are forced to take a stand against the evil that they wholeheartedly believe is the foundation of the Christmas season.  They talk of Christmas trees as idols; of celebrating Messiah’s birth as contrary to the Bible; of the name “Christmas” as a bloody reference to the crucifixion; of December 25th as the birthday of false gods.  This desire to reject idolatry and accept truth compels these Believers to shun everything associated with the Christmas holiday.  Families are divided and feelings are hurt.  In some cases, well-meaning people on both sides of this issue are deeply wounded.

I understand.  After returning from Israel in the Spring of 2008, I began a journey of Biblical study that compelled me to reject the lies and distortion that has so permeated the foundations of Christianity.  After I was exposed to the overwhelming amount of information on the “pagan origins of Christmas,” my family made the decision to forgo celebrating the day, and instead began to observe the Jewish festival of Hanukkah.

For you to fully grasp the intensity of this decision, you need to understand the connection my family has to Christmas and December 25th.  My wife’s name is Christy (short for Christina).  Christy was born on December 25th.  She was given the name Christina because she was born on Christmas.  Her identity is tied up in Christmas.  When we chose not to observe the day, I was overwhelmed by Christy’s willingness to surrender her traditions because of the concerns we had about the paganism in Christmas.  It was her love for her Savior, and for me, that compelled her to do this.

Early in the Christmas season the next year, Christy hit me with a bombshell: she really wanted to celebrate Christmas.  I stood my ground.  I began pummeling her with Scripture and information about paganism and arguments against Christmas.  And I broke her heart.  It was in that moment that I heard a still, small voice say:

If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.  If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith than can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.  If I give all I posses to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.

(1 Corinthians 13:1- 3)

The Spirit spoke to my heart and said, “She loves you enough to give up Christmas.  Do you love her enough to celebrate it?”  Talk about turning my theology upside down.  This made absolutely no sense to me.  I said, “Father, Christmas is pagan and idolatry and I can’t celebrate it.  I know what Christmas is all about!”  But the Father calmly said to me, “Sure you do, David. But if you’re willing, I can tell you what Christmas is really all about.”

What you’re about to read will be considered by some to be controversial.  It will challenge both those who oppose and support celebrating Christmas.  But my prayer is that you will read it with an open heart and an open Bible, and that you will allow the Spirit of God to speak to you in the way He desires to.  I don’t expect to change minds.  This isn’t intended to influence you one way or the other.  I wrote this because there is a plethora of information on the internet that loudly and forcefully proclaims that those who celebrate Christmas have rejected the Truth.  But the information on the internet in support of Christmas is often poorly argued and, quite frankly, unconvincing.  Still, after a several years of study and prayer I’m confident in my position without needing to force that position on others.  I stand firmly on the principle that the Apostle Paul argued in his letter to the Romans which, interestingly enough, was in the context of what days to celebrate as holy or not: “…let each man be convinced in his own mind.” (Romans 14:5)

The next several posts will be divided into two different “halves.”  The first will be a recounting of the standard concerns raised by those opposed to the celebration of Christmas, with my thoughts and discoveries about those concerns.

The second grouping of posts will be a look at the amazing connections between the Hebrew Feast of Tabernacles (Sukkot), the Jewish celebration of Hanukkah, and the Christian Holiday, Christmas.  And while again, I make the disclaimer that what I write isn’t intended to be any sort of definitive argument for or against Christmas, I do believe that for many who have concerns about Christmas, the amazing revelation that the Father may have supernaturally given His own endorsement of the celebration of Christmas will both shock and encourage.  My prayer is that this will be read by all with the understanding that I make this argument from the position of love for my Savior, and for all who call Him Lord.

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