Christmas and Contending for the Faith
Encouraging the Body of Messiah
AS of this writing, Christmas is upon us. My goal in this episode is to encourage the Body of Messiah during this Christmas season is to continue “Earnestly Contending for the Faith Once delivered to the Saints.”
Christmas Celebrations ‘Round the World
Many Christians and non-Christians here and around the world are celebrating Christmas. We cannot get away from seeing the beautiful decorations of lights on buildings everywhere and the colorful decorations of red, green, white, silver, and gold inside and outside of buildings and trees that line the streets and homes.
In addition we hear the music and singing of Christmas carols and many catchy jingles and before we know it we are singing them in our head. There are smiles everywhere as people are shopping for gifts. But that’s not all. There are so many parties making this a joyous occasion of well wishes and giving gifts. Those who do not participate are seen as the Grinch or Scrooge.
What’s A Christian to Do with Christmas?
So what is a fun loving, kind hearted Christian to do?
Many of us find ourselves separated from family during this time because we choose to not participate in the parties and fun celebrations. This time is especially hard for young children of believers who choose to live out their unwavering faith grounded in the gospel of the Kingdom of God delivered to us by Yahoshua Messiah through the apostles. Therefore, we use this time to teach and remind our children and grandchildren of the commandments spoken from the mouth of our God, Yahovah, creator of the universe and the giver of life.
Obedience to the Instructions of Yahovah
The first 4 commandments of the Ten Commandments are the rules that establish our relationship with Yahovah our God and His Son Yahoshua. When we disobey and break these commandments, we do not get to know Him though we may know about Him; and we exclude ourselves from the Kingdom of God. Our disobedience leads to the abominable practices of idolatry and rebellion against His laws. This is the life of iniquity.
The Gospel of the Kingdom
In AD 33 after Yahoshua was crucified, buried and resurrected He sent His disciples as apostles to go out into all the world and preach the gospel of the Kingdom of God teaching all nations what he taught them, and to make disciples of all nations of the world.
During his teachings, Yahoshua made some statements pointing to faith of the believers in the future, when He returns to the earth.
In Luke 18:8 Yahoshua, Messiah asked,
“When the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?” Let us not take His question lightly. It is our duty to seek His approval because he is the Judge who will return on the last day. Will be ashamed to answer the question of how we kept the faith?”
In Matthew 7:21-24 he said,
“Not everyone that says unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. 22 Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? And in thy name have cast out devils? And in thy name done many wonderful works? 23 And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity. 24 Therefore whosoever hears these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock.”
False Teachers Infiltrate the Body
During the first century, the apostles noticed that false teachers we infiltrate the body of believers and undermining the teachings they had delivered to the saints. As a result, the apostles addressed these false teachings to set the record straight and get the saints back on track so they would not fall prey to these deceptive teachings from those false teachers that were infiltrating the body.
The apostle Jude charges us in Jude 1:3-5 saying,
“Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints. 4 For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ. 5 I will therefore put you in remembrance, though ye once knew this, how that the Lord, having saved the people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed them that believed not.”
Believers are to Stand Firm in the Faith
So he wrote a letter to the body of Messiah in the book of Jude 1:3 exhorting the believers to not waver in their faith because of the false teachers who had infiltrated the body, but to “earnestly contend for the faith once delivered to the saints”. Here Jude is speaking of the original teaching the apostles taught to them, which they had received from the messiah, Yahoshua.
Like Jude who addressed the problem, there were James, John, Paul, and Peter who also thought it extremely important to address the false teachings that threatened to shake the faith of the believers. They encouraged the saints to contend for the faith, which they had received through their teachings.
How and When Did Christmas Become Part of Christianity?
It was common knowledge among Jews and Gentiles in those days that December 25th was the celebration of the birthday of the pagan gods. It was also well known that the Romans worshiped the Sun god Mithra as creator. The sign of or emblem of Mithra is the Cross. As a result, crucifixions were done on the cross which was the emblem of Mithra, the sun god. For this reason, Yahoshua became curse for us because he hung on the Mithra cross.
Romans celebrated Saturnalia a festival on December 25th which was the dedication of the temple of their sun god. These celebrations featured parties, gift-giving, dwellings decorated with greenery, drunkenness, orgies, etc.
After Yahoshua’s ascension into heaven, it was Rome that martyred and crucified many of the apostles of Yahoshua when the apostles refused to abandon the faith they had received from Yahoshua, Messiah. The apostles were commanded by Rome to stop preaching and teaching in the name of Yahoshua. When the apostles refused to obey, they were martyred and crucified. Rome continued the killing and martyrdom of the Christian saints for centuries after the death of the last apostle.
But the Roman Emperor Constantine, the first “Christian” Roman Emperor put a stop to the killing of Christians when he took office , declaring that the followers of Yahoshua Messiah, and all religions must live together in the Roman Empire peaceably. He was a very diplomatic Emperor who served many different Babylonian gods of many religions and he accepted the Christian religion as the religion that provided power not found in his other religions. His words and acceptance of the many religions won the hearts of the people and the Christians. However, the “Christian” Emperor Constantine continued to worship pagan gods and idols and was faithful to maintain his devotion to the god Mithra even after he had declared himself to be a Christian and the head of the Christian church.
Constantine, by using a play on words, used a homonym between the Christian title for Yahoshua (Jesus) “the Son of God” and the Roman title for their Roman creator “the sun god” Mithra (aka: Tem/Temu, Ra, Amun-Ra, Apollo, Tammuz)
- AMUN-Ra “The Hidden One”
- RA “The God of Sun & Radiance”
- MITHRA “the Light of the World”
- Tammuz (was Nimrod reborn – alias, his son. His wife and mother was Rhea (Semiramis). Egyptian and Babylonian antiquities recognize his mother as Semiramis, and his birthday is celebrated on 25th December.)
It was Nimrod who became the first self appointed king of Shinar over the people of the new world after Noah and his family survived the flood. He was rebellious against God and started the building of the Tower of Babel in Genesis to protect the people from God in case another flood should happen. This mindset of Nimrod showed he had no faith in the God of Noah his great grandfather. For God had made a covenant with Noah that he will never send another flood to destroy the people because of their sins. To seal the covenant He gave Noah the sign of the rainbow in the sky. But Nimrod was an idolater and turned the people’s faith to idolatry and against God and His covenant, by starting the building of the tower to protect them against a flood that God might send in the future. But in the midst of their building project, God divided up the nation into 70 nations giving them each a new language bringing the building project to a screeching halt. The first biblical mention of Nimrod is in the Table of Nations. He was the son of Cush, grandson of Ham, and great-grandson of Noah; and as “a mighty one in the earth” and “a mighty hunter before the Lord”.
Nimrod (aka: Tammuz, Bacchus, Adonis, Osiris) is the sun god
Semiramis, Nimrod’s wife became his mother when she was impregrnated by the sun and gave birth the Tammuz, who was Nimrod reincarnated.
This story told to the people by Semiramis (aka: Ishtar, Diana, Aphrodite, Astarte, Rhea, Venus), that made her famous, powerful and revered was that Nimrod is the sun god and he impregnated he by the sun. The baby in her womb was Nimrod. Her baby was named Tammuz, and was born on Dec 25th which started the sun god birthday celebrations. Nimrod had returned to the people who were still in mourning of his death but was now re-birthed as Tammuz (her son). After Tammuz died in much the same way as Nimrod did, the people now mourned for Tammuz. And every year, in their celebration, they worshipped Tammuz the sun god.
Like I said earlier, Rome celebrated saturnalia on December 25th which was the dedication celebration of the temple of their sun god.
Constantine sought to create a new religion by applying the power and life in Hebrew Christianity to give authenticity to the weak, lifeless pagan religions which he had embraced. He found loose similarities and played upon them, then used a play on words to create homonyms that would appeal to the ignorance of the people. He added his own pagan feast celebrations to replace the Feasts of Yahovah which Torah commands Christians to observe. When he was done creating the new religion, Christians were worshiping the sun god Mithra on Christmas and his wife Ishtar for Easter.
Pagan Feasts Replaced the Feasts of Yahovah
These pagan feasts replaced the Feasts of Yahovah; and those Christians who adopted this new Roman Christian religion were told they were worshiping the Son of God, when in actuality they were worshiping the Sun god. And for Easter celebration they were told that they were focusing on the death of their crucified Lord, when actually the true celebration was the weeping for the return of dead Tammuz (Mithra: Tammuz, the reincarnated sun god Nimrod.)
Thus the Hebrew Feast days commanded by Yahovah the God of Israel were removed from the faith of Christianity and replaced with pagan feast days. Historians recognize December 25 as a well known pagan birthday, honoring many of the ancient sun gods. This day was known to be the birthday of pagan gods long before the birth of Yahoshua (Iesus) and the formation of the Roman Catholic Church. Mithraism is also known as the Mithraic mysteries, a mystery religion centered around the god Mithra. This religion was practiced in the Roman Empire from about the 1st to the 4th century CE.
Thus, Constantine used the teachings of Christianity and the teachings of Mithraism and created parities between them to form a pseudo form of the Christian religion through this technique. He produced a final product that is an amalgamation between the Christian religion and his cultic pagan religions by picking and choosing from each religion’s doctrines and celebrations and finding generalities to include celebrations during the year, to create compromises for the adaptation of pagan cultic practices in the Christian religion.
To successfully achieve his plan as the Sol Invictus Pope of the Christian church and remain the head of the Sol Invictus cult of the Church of the Roman empire, he brought the two religions together by force, making edicts and decrees forbidding obedience to the ways, laws and commandments of the God of Israel and observance of His Seventh Day Sabbath, replacing it with Sunday and replacing Yahovah’s Feast days with Christmas and Easter. In this way, Constantine kept his pagan cultic beliefs and religion in tact while removing the fundamental doctrinal teachings of the Hebrew roots of the Christian faith.
When he met resistance from some of the leaders of the Hebrew Christian movement, Constantine gave them the ultimatum to forsake their Hebrew roots or face death. Many gave up the Hebrew roots of the Christian faith to adopt the Roman Catholic version of the Christian faith to save their lives.
Eventually, Rome reneged or went back on its decision of tolerance and peace when the people did not choose to follow the new Roman Christian religion. So it made decrees and called for the killing of Christians who chose to contend for the faith they first received from the apostles. But, in the face of their earnest contending for the faith, Pope Julius I, decreed that the birth of Jesus will be celebrated on December 25th. This decree increased the martyrdom, struggle and persecution of Christians holding fast to the Hebrew roots of their faith. Finally, Hebrew Christians holding to the faith were forced to go into hiding to practice their faith.
While some Christians yielded to Emperor Constantine’s edicts and decrees others remained faithful to Yahovah, the God of Israel, the Hebrew roots of the faith, the teachings of Yahoshua the Messiah, Son of God, and gave their lives for the faith. They were killed for the faith that was originally delivered to the first century saints by the apostles of Yahoshua (Jesus).
Consequently, Constantine was able to forge his own version of the “Christian” faith and declare himself to be Sol Invictus Pope over the newly formed “Christian” Roman Catholic Church. At the same time Constantine maintained his role as head of the Sol Invictus (Unconquered Sun) cult of the Church of the Roman Empire. And he accomplished this by forcing the Christians to give up the Hebrew roots of their faith and to adopt the tenets of Mithraism.
According to Wikipedia.com, Sol Invictus (“Unconquered Sun”) was the official sun god of the later Roman Empire and a patron of soldiers. In 274 AD the Roman emperor Aurelian made it an official cult alongside the traditional Roman cults. He set aside 7 days, from Dec 17th to Dec 24th followed by a festival celebration on Dec 25th to celebrate the birth of the sun god, Sol invictus (Unconquered sun).
Constantine also drew parity between the cross of Mithra which he saw in his “conversion” vision equating it to the crucifixion cross of Yahoshua, claiming that the sign of the cross he saw was an indication that Yahoshua had spoken to him, telling him to conquer in the name of the cross. The Christians who were seeking to save their lives fell for the deception and adopted the Roman pseudo-Christianity created by Constantine.
The first recorded date of Christmas being celebrated on December 25th was in AD 336, three hundred years after the ascension of Messiah for there was never a December 25th Christmas celebration in Hebrew Christianity. But the earliest known reference to Celebrating the birth of Messiah on December 25th is found in the Roman Philocalian calendar of AD 354.
Finally, Rome did away with the Laws of Yahovah in order to create their Roman Christianity. Thus, the Hebrew origins of Christianity were removed and replaced by Roman pagan celebrations through edicts and decrees forced upon the Hebrew Christians. The new pseudo-Christian Roman Catholic Church was born with Christmas and Easter and Sunday as the new feast days and Holy day commanded by Rome.
Hebrew Christianity was now illegal in Rome and only Roman Christianity could be practiced.
The new Christianity adopted by faithless Christians, celebrated the birth, death and return of the Sun god. And ignorant and faithless Christians who converted to Roman Christianity convinced themselves that they were celebrating the birth, death and return of the Son of God, Yahoshua knowing full well that never in the history of Hebrew Christianity were they ever commanded to do this celebration. Instead, they were commanded not to practice or participate in the ways and the celebrations of the heathens for their pagan gods. The first Christians in the first four centuries never celebrated Christmas as it was never part of the Christian faith. December 25th Christmas celebration among modern day Christians was introduced by Rome in the 4th century AD.
The early church father Origen argued against celebrating Jesus’ birthday: He said Only sinners like Pharaoh and Herod make great rejoicings over the day on which they were born into this world.”
The Puritans of 17th century in Massachusetts banned the Christmas holiday. They found no Biblical authority for celebrating the Nativity on December 25th. They knew the pagan history of the date, that it comes from Saturnalia celebration and wanted nothing to do with it.
The Quakers also abstained from celebrating Christmas.
Still most modern day Christians choose to celebrate Christmas because they have chosen to repurpose this winter solstice, saturnalia, sun god birthday celebration as the birthday celebration of Yahoshua (Jesus). We are commanded by Yahovah to observe the Sabbath Day and keep it holy. And to keep the Feasts of Yahovah. Therefore those of us who chose to contend for the faith will exercise our faith and take the time off even without pay to honor our God in worship and all the time recognize the gift of eternal life He has given to us in His only Begotten Son, as a ransom for our sins. To obey His commands, grow in the fruit of the Spirit, make disciples for Yahoshua, preach the gospel of the Kingdom of God, walk in faith, love, charity, visit the widows and fatherless in their affliction, stay away from idolatry and worship Him alone. This is the faith we must earnestly contend for and not become contaminated in the things of the world after we have been cleansed by the precious blood of Yahoshua (Jesus).
WARNING : DO NOT WORSHIP YOUR GOD THE WAY THE PAGANS WORSHIP THEIR GOD
We are warned by our Creator:
Jeremiah 10:1-4 Hear ye the word which Yahovah speaketh unto you, O house of Israel:
2 Thus saith Yahovah, Learn not the way of the heathen, and be not dismayed at the signs of heaven; for the heathen are dismayed at them. 3 For the customs of the people are vain: for one cutteth a tree out of the forest, the work of the hands of the workman, with the axe. 4 They deck it with silver and with gold; they fasten it with nails and with hammers that it move not.
Deu 12:1-4 These are the statutes and judgments, which ye shall observe to do in the land, which the LORD God of thy fathers giveth thee to possess it, all the days that ye live upon the earth.
2 Ye shall utterly destroy all the places, wherein the nations which ye shall possess served their gods, upon the high mountains, and upon the hills, and under every green tree: 3 And ye shall overthrow their altars, and break their pillars, and burn their groves with fire; and ye shall hew down the graven images of their gods, and destroy the names of them out of that place. 4 Ye shall not do so unto the LORD your God.
Deu 12:30-32 Take heed to thyself that thou be not snared by following them, after that they be destroyed from before thee; and that thou enquire not after their gods, saying, How did these nations serve their gods? even so will I do likewise. 31 Thou shall not do so unto the LORD thy God: for every abomination to the LORD, which he hates, have they done unto their gods; for even their sons and their daughters they have burnt in the fire to their gods. 32 What thing soever I command you, observe to do it: thou shall not add thereto, nor diminish from it. (KJV)
But Yahovah is merciful to save if we confess our sins, seek after him and repent of our idolatrous ways. He will forgive us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. It is not his will that any person should die in their sins. He does not take pleasure in the death any sinner.
The prophet Jeremiah said:
Jer 16:19 O LORD, my strength, and my fortress, and my refuge in the day of affliction, the Gentiles shall come unto thee from the ends of the earth, and shall say, Surely our fathers have inherited lies, vanity, and things wherein there is no profit.
Now let us reflect on what happened after Aaron build the golden calf:
Ex 32:1-10 And when the people saw that Moses delayed to come down out of the mount, the people gathered themselves together unto Aaron, and said unto him, Up, make us gods, which shall go before us; for as for this Moses, the man that brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we wot not what is become of him.
2 And Aaron said unto them, Break off the golden earrings, which are in the ears of your wives, of your sons, and of your daughters, and bring them unto me.
3 And all the people brake off the golden earrings which were in their ears, and brought them unto Aaron.
4 And he received them at their hand, and fashioned it with a graving tool, after he had made it a molten calf: and they said, These be thy gods, O Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt.
5 And when Aaron saw it, he built an altar before it; and Aaron made proclamation, and said, To morrow is a feast to the LORD.
6 And they rose up early on the morrow, and offered burnt offerings, and brought peace offerings; and the people sat down to eat and to drink, and rose up to play.
7 And the LORD said unto Moses, Go, get thee down; for thy people, which thou broughtest out of the land of Egypt, have corrupted themselves:
8 They have turned aside quickly out of the way which I commanded them: they have made them a molten calf, and have worshipped it, and have sacrificed thereunto, and said, These be thy gods, O Israel, which have brought thee up out of the land of Egypt.
9 And the LORD said unto Moses, I have seen this people, and, behold, it is a stiffnecked people:
10 Now therefore let me alone, that my wrath may wax hot against them, and that I may consume them: and I will make of thee a great nation.
I pray that all who read or listen to this message will be able to receive it and meditate on the scriptures included in this message. May Yahovah give us eyes and ears to see the things he wants us to see and hear that we can have a closer walk with Him and not be ashamed on the last day.
Please share your thoughts and experiences about contending for the faith, I would love to hear it.
Have a Blessed Day in Messiah Yahoshua.