By John J. Blanchard
December 28, 2013
Good morning once again, brethren, on this last Sabbath of 2013. It is a pleasure to be gathered together.
If you, like me, were watching the amazing scenes on the news and reading in newspapers in these last couple of weeks before Christmas, it has been fascinating. Clip after clip on the television was showing throngs of people shopping. They had a picture ofNew York Citystreets full of hundreds of thousands of people. They said it was block after block like that. The malls had people lining up before hours, sometimes overnight, to get the gifts that they wanted and the specials that the stores were offering. The malls were pretty full. They said shopping was only down 2%. They are acting like that’s bad, but that sounds like it was pretty good to me. The stores were open 24 hours a day and in some cases day after day! Can you imagine how hard that is on the staff? Day after day they were open 24 hours a day with special deals often being offered between midnight and 5 a.m. One newsman went to several stores and said they were busy! There were actually people between midnight and 5 a.m. doing Christmas shopping.
There were other interesting things. They had video from people’s smart phones or cell phones or whatever and also cameras from stores focusing in on all the fights and the mayhem that was breaking out in the stores! I am sure if you were watching the news at all, you saw young lads fighting it out for special Michael Jordan sneakers. There were special Nike basketball shoes. I saw film footage of women pulling each other’s hair out and wrestling on the ground for a toy for their kids! There was a lot of pushing and shoving, and in some cases trampling. It was fascinating to watch all this taking place leading up to Christmas.
It seemed they also said about ten times a day that store sales were up at various stores, and overall sales were down at various stores. They said online sales were skyrocketing, and they would give the percentages every day of what the online shopping was versus the brick-and-mortar stores, as they call them. They reported on purchases themselves and how much they were up over last year and which stores were up and by how much. They kept track of this almost minute by minute it would appear.
The brick-and-mortar stores were really fighting it out with the e-retailers. They were offering bigger discounts than ever, and that was what really led to them staying open 24 hours a day. They were offering super, super bargains if you would shop in the middle of the night, just so they could get extra dollars in. With electronic shopping through your computer you could shop 24 hours a day, so the stores were trying to compete with that and do the best they could. Of course, the on-line retailers fought back by saying, if you order from us, we’ll guarantee delivery the next day! In some cities, believe it or not, they guaranteed delivery that day! You could order Christmas eve day and if you lived in certain cities, you would have your present that night underneath the Christmas tree! It was incredible!
As we watched this fascinating scene develop, we also noticed the headaches developing as well. It turned out that UPS and FedEx could not keep up with the work load, and they couldn’t get the promised packages overnight in many cases. It wasn’t in all cases. In most cases they got it there, but in a significant number of cases, they couldn’t get the packages there. Unfortunately, they had one lady on the television saying her seven year old was crying because underneath the Christmas tree Santa didn’t bring the new iPad that he had asked for! The sad thing is they are all starting to blame each other on what happened here. The retailers used that as a drawing card advertising they could get the packages there right away. If they fell through, this was going to hurt their business. They wanted those last-minute shoppers.
One UPS driver was quoted as saying he had never seen anything like it in all his years. I think they said he had worked for UPS for 15 or 17 years. There were extremely long work days with management driving delivery trucks. In many big cities they were pressing into service U-Haul trucks, Ryder trucks, and anything that could move! Then, of course, the bottleneck was with the airplanes. They couldn’t get enough packages on the airplanes in such a limited amount of time to get them to the various cities and get them delivered. He said he had never seen anything like it in his life!
The headaches continue now. There are lawsuits. UPS and FedEx are getting sued by numerous people and organizations across the country for not having kept their promise to fulfill Santa’s wishes. Forty-million mom and pop Santas had their IDs hacked at Target Stores alone, so Target is getting sued by a number of people and organizations. They are saying they should have protected their IDs when they shopped at their stores.
After all this madness, they had on the news yesterday that up to 40% of the packages and gifts are going to get returned! Can you imagine! The headache is just beginning for some of these stores. They had an exact figure. They said 36% of the packages and gifts were going to get returned. That is another headache.
DID GOD SEND CHRIST TO SPUR ECONOMIC ACTIVITY?
Over all this noise and confusion and chaos a faint cry is often heard across the land “Christ is the reason for the season, and remember to keep Christ in mind.” I say, wait a minute! Let’s ask one basic question. Is any of this really what Christ had in mind in the first place? Did the Father send His only begotten Son to the earth to spur economic activity? Was that the goal of Christ’s coming? Was that the goal of His pain and suffering? Was it to spur economic activity in the days before Christmas?
A few Scriptures come to mind. If you would open your Bibles, please turn to I Corinthians chapter 14, verse 33: “For God is not the author of confusion but of peace, as in all the churches of the saints.”
God is not the author of confusion, and certainly we can see with this past Christmas season that it was a very confusing time with a lot of chaos.
If you want to turn a few pages back in your Bible to James 3, we read in verse 16: “For where envy and self-seeking exist, confusion and every evil thing are there.”
That is what I would have to say was the character of this past Christmas season and indeed Christmas seasons in general. It is selfishness. It is people wanting and people expecting their gifts on time. It is people wanting a gift, and if it doesn’t come, offenses follow. Christ says, where there is selfishness, there is confusion. It is obvious, Christmas is a selfish time. Retailers are trying to maximize their profits. Customers are trying to maximize their discounts. People are wanting to maximize the number of gifts they get. It’s a selfish time, so that’s why there is so much confusion. It is not a peaceful time. It is a crazy wild time! Then afterwards people have to figure out how they are going to pay their credit card bills or fix their credit rating if they had their identity hacked into. That doesn’t sound like a peaceful experience to me.
If you would, turn to the gospel of John 14:27 where Christ did say this about His coming: “Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.”
Christ says, I leave My peace with you, but it’s not the sort of peace that the world has. In other words, you hear in the carols peace on earth and good will toward men, which is quoting Scripture. You have all these sayings, like keep Christ and Christmas and remember He is the reason for the season. But when you look, there is no peace there. It is the peace that the world says is there, but it’s not there! It’s not in that holiday or holy day.
Christ really wants nothing to do with Christmas. He never has, and He never will. Christmas is a pagan holiday. Its origins are pagan, and it is in total opposition to God’s plans. Often it is promoted using crèches to keep track of the wise men or whatever. It is promoted as depicting God’s plan of salvation for mankind, when really all around it are these pagan celebrations. That is not a holy day that God ever instituted. I would like to consider the following points as I say that.
CELEBRATING ON THE WRONG DAY
First of all the Bible nowhere indicates the day of Christ’s birth. It is nowhere. You can read it backwards and forward, and there is no date associated with Christ’s birth. You can determine the season in which He was born. Through a process of deduction using various Scriptures, you can prove that He came in the fall. He was born in the fall in September or October, and that is as close as you can get. Therefore the celebrating on the birthday of Christ as December 25th is an error to start with.
CHRISTMAS IS BASED ON NON-CHRISTIAN FESTIVALS
The third point I want to mention is Christmas was originally a pagan Roman festival. The period of December 17th through the 24th which we now call Christmas eve was called Saturnalia, and December 25th itself was called Brumalia. I want to read two references.
The first quote I am going to read to you comes from the New Schaff-Herzog Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge. The article says this under Christmas: “How much the date of the festival depended upon the pagan Brumalia (December 25th) following the Saturnalia (December 17th -24th), and celebrating the shortest day of the year and the ‘new sun’…cannot be accurately determined. The pagan Saturnalia and Brumalia were too deeply entrenched in popular custom to be set aside by Christian influence…The pagan festival with its riot and merrymaking was so popular that Christians were glad of an excuse to continue its celebration with little change in spirit and in manner. Christian preachers of the West and the Near East protested against the unseemly frivolity with which Christ’s birthday was celebrated, while Christians of Mesopotamia accused their Western brethren of idolatry and sun worship for adopting as Christian this pagan festival.”
Obviously we can see early Christianity became divided over these pagan holidays being incorporated as holy days into Christian belief and doctrine.
The next quote I want to read to you is from the World Book Encyclopedia, 2006 Edition under their article on Christmas. “The story of Christmas comes chiefly from the gospels of Saint Luke and Saint Matthew in the New Testament.” Hence, this is why there is talk of the crèche and the wise men that we get from the gospels. “According to Luke, an angel appeared to shepherds outside the town of Bethlehem and told them of Jesus’ birth. Matthew tells how the wise men, called Magi, followed a bright star that led them to Jesus.
“The first mention of December 25 as the birthdate of Jesus occurred in A.D. 336 in an early Roman calendar.”
Can you imagine it took 336 years for them to come up with the firm idea that December 25th would be celebrated as Christ’s birthday!
Continuing: “The celebration of this day as Jesus’ birthdate was probably influenced by pagan (unchristian) festivals held at that time. The ancient Romans held year-end celebrations to honor Saturn, their harvest god, and Mythras, the god of light. Various people in northern Europe held festivals in mid-December to celebrate the end of the harvest season. As part of these celebrations, the people prepared special foods, decorated their homes with greenery, and joined in singing and gift giving. These customs gradually became part of the Christmas celebration.”
We can see how we come by the traditions that are observed today.
Continuing with the article: “In the late 300s, Christianity became the official religion of the Roman Empire. By 1100, Christmas had become the most important religious festival in Europe…”
Can you imagine? It took over a thousand years for that holiday to become very important to Christianity.
Continuing: “…and Saint Nicholas was a symbol of gift giving in many European countries. During the 1400s and 1500s, many artists painted scenes of the Nativity, the birth of Jesus.” An example of these works appears in the Jesus Christ article in this book.
Continuing with the article: “The popularity of Christmas grew until the Reformation, a religious movement of the 1500s. This movement gave birth to Protestantism. During the Reformation, many Christians began to consider Christmas a pagan celebration because it included non-religious customs. During the 1600s, because of these feelings, Christmas was outlawed in England and in parts of the English colonies in America. The old customs of feasting and decorating, however, soon reappeared and blended with the more Christian aspects of the celebration.”
Once people studied in the Protestant Reformation they could see that there was definitely something wrong with keeping pagan holy days. But the power of the gift giving and the celebration was too much for Christianity to throw off. There were a few Christians such as ourselves who would not cave in to Christmas and to the proclamation of that day as a holy day.
I ask, why do Christians want anything to do with this supposed holy day and all its craziness? The answer is there is no good reason! Why do we want to go into debt to celebrate a date that is not the day of Christ’s birth? Why do we want to call it a holy day when the various traditions surrounding it are pagan? There is no good reason for a Christian to want to do Christmas unless they indeed are sucked in and influenced by this selfishness that goes on.
It stands to reason that only God can proclaim anything holy, including a holy day. No man can make anything holy. That is beyond the power and the authority of human beings.
GOD’S BIBLICAL HOLY DAYS
As we have said many times, God’s holy days are listed in Leviticus chapter 23. We won’t turn there now, but in Leviticus 23 you will find God says that the Passover, Unleavened Bread, Pentecost, Trumpets, the Day of Atonement, the Feast of Tabernacles, and the Last Great Day of the Feast are the seven holy day periods He wants us to keep. There is a reason. God’s plan for mankind is depicted in those holy days and not in the manmade holy days such as Christmas. That puts God’s plan with His holy days in opposition to pagan holy days which we know ultimately can be traced back to Satan himself. He is trying to change times and seasons. He is trying to get people off the track of God’s plan.
Any days other than those listed in Leviticus 23 are pagan and in error. Any holy day on earth anywhere that is not one of those holy days is wrong.
Observing God’s holy days automatically puts us in a situation where Christ is front and center. He is the object of that holy day. We don’t have to be reminded, for instance, that Passover is all about the death of Christ. It is part of the day. Therefore when observing God’s holy days, we don’t have to remind ourselves to keep Christ in the season or to keep Him involved in the day. He is about the day. It is His day, so therefore we get rid of that confusion right off the bat. God’s holy days truly make Him the reason for the season and replace all the selfish confusion with true peace and joy and the knowledge of the truth.
If you want to learn more about God’s holy days and get relief from all the madness and confusion that surround such days as Christmas, ask us to send you the literature or go to our website. You will be informed as to what God wants you to do. By obeying God, we will truly have peace and joy, eventually on the whole earth.