Holydaze – the Origins of the Holiday Season Part 6

by | Dec 28, 2020

hol·i·day  /ˈhäləˌdā/

Origin: Old English hāligdæg ‘holy day’

Do I have to bow to worship?

In looking back at the passage in Jeremiah 10 it mentions bowing down and worshiping the wooden idol made from a tree, but is worship always the literal act of bowing down to an image? The answer is no. Idolatry starts in the heart with pride and covetousness. Take for example the parable of going “on your belly” as a symbol of sin and idolatry. Then if, as Paul said, your god is your belly, then it is the bowing of your heart that matters. Your heart bows when you set your mind on earthly things.
If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory. Therefore put to death your members which are on the earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. Because of these things the wrath of God is coming upon the sons of disobedience, in which you yourselves once walked when you lived in them. Colossians 3:1–7
Look again at the types of idolatry that Paul called out. Is fornication merely the act of sex outside of marriage? There are many places in the Bible that use fornication as an analogy for non-sexual sins. Revelation 14-19 has many of these analogies relating to the kings of the earth and the people who follow their lead doing things that are ungodly, meaning their own works instead of God’s. These things are unclean to God.

But we are all like an unclean thing, And all our righteousness are like filthy rags; we all fade as a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away. And there is no one who calls on Your name, who stirs himself up to take hold of You; for You have hidden Your face from us, and have consumed us because of our iniquities. Isaiah 64:6–7

Sin is Pride

All sin and idolatry come down to pride. Why? Because we do what we want instead of what God wants. It is pride that caused Eve to eat to gain knowledge and be like God. It is pride that caused Adam to choose, to covet his wife over God and eat. He was not deceived as she was. He ate knowing Satan was lying. So why did he eat, then? He did it for her. 
And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression. 1 Timothy 2:14
But he who is married cares about the things of the world—how he may please his wife. 1 Corinthians 7:33
Is it not pride that causes us to want something God does not want us to have, like the fruit of knowledge, or to want something more than we want God? What people tend to do is take it anyway. It is the nature of the beast and that beast lives in us now because our first father and mother on earth passed their sin onto us. Pride is the sin that caused Satan to be unhappy with the station Yahweh gave him:

You were the anointed cherub who covers; I established you; You were on the holy mountain of God; You walked back and forth in the midst of fiery stones. You were perfect in your ways from the day you were created, till iniquity was found in you. By the abundance of your trading you became filled with violence within, and you sinned; Therefore I cast you as a profane thing out of the mountain of God; And I destroyed you, O covering cherub, from the midst of the fiery stones. Your heart was lifted up because of your beauty; You corrupted your wisdom for the sake of your splendor. Ezekiel 28:14–17
Satan coveted what was above his station. Covetousness is commonly thought to mean “wanting what your neighbor has” but it has a broader scope than that. It more accurately means “to want in excess, often without regard to others.” Isn’t the spirit of the Christmas season all about excess? Lights everywhere to inspire wonderment, yet they are justified by saying “they are the light of Christ.” The massive compulsion to buy and sell gifts, shopping till you drop, is justified by saying, “These gifts represent the gift of the magi to the baby Jesus.” Friends and families gorge themselves on food and drink and revel in their comfort, yet it is justified by saying, “Community is the body of Christ” and “Abundance is God’s desire for us.” All of this is done in the name of family, friends, and having a good time. The idea of Christ is added to it. Christ is not, and never was, the basis for this holiday. That’s one of the main points Tertullian was making. It is a season of materialism, and materialism is idolatry. People “sat down to eat and rose up to play,” at the foot of Mount Sinai, as is stated in Exodus 32:6 and 1 Corinthians 10:7. Is it reasonable to characterize that type of behavior as “a flood of dissipation?” Absolutely. They declared a feast day unto God and everyone was expected to participate, even Aaron.

Don’t be a ham

So far, we talked about how idolatry is much more than the narrow definition that is typically portrayed in modern Christianity and how you don’t need to bow in order to worship something. Can you be fooled into literally bowing in worship without realizing it? Let’s look back at Christmas for a moment. Picture the stereotypical Christmas morning. Children sleep restlessly, excited about the colorfully wrapped presents sitting under that sparkly tree for weeks. The excitement is almost too much to bear. Some impatient children come up with the most elaborate schemes to find out what their presents are before Christmas morning. Now it is here. The children wake up early, before their parents do, and congregate to the tree. What do they do? They KNEEL before it. The parents come to the tree and they also kneel before the tree in order to distribute the presents. Although it is not necessary to kneel in order to worship an idol, is this practice not strange? How can a Christian feel comfortable doing this?

Even if you don’t have a tree it’s still the same idea. The focus is not on Christ. Are the children really thinking about Christ when they get their presents? Could you even impose Christ on this tradition? Does that even seem right? “Children, you are getting these presents today because we are celebrating the birth of Jesus, and we all know the magi brought Jesus presents when he was born, so we should give each other presents too!” What an outstanding moral lesson to teach our children. I see a lot of potential for instilling entitlement issues into your child that way.

Then the family gathers together for a great feast, usually to eat a Christmas ham. What is the most iconic and sought-after food brand of the American Christmas dinner? Honey Baked Ham. Although it is certainly ok to eat ham (see Acts 10-9-15) it has always been considered a symbol of uncleanness and disregard. God commanded the Israelites to only eat animals that have cloven feet, a symbol of rightly dividing, and which chew the cud, meaning to ruminate, ie; to think long and hard. Obviously, they didn’t quite get it. Neither does the church today. Knowing this symbolic meaning now, consider the following passage:

When He had come to the other side, to the country of the Gergesenes, there met Him two demon-possessed men, coming out of the tombs, exceedingly fierce, so that no one could pass that way. And suddenly they cried out, saying, “What have we to do with You, Jesus, You Son of God? Have You come here to torment us before the time?”
Now a good way off from them there was a herd of many swine feeding. So the demons begged Him, saying, “If You cast us out, permit us to go away into the herd of swine.”
And He said to them, “Go.” So when they had come out, they went into the herd of swine. And suddenly the whole herd of swine ran violently down the steep place into the sea, and perished in the water.
Then those who kept them fled; and they went away into the city and told everything, including what had happened to the demon-possessed men. And behold, the whole city came out to meet Jesus. And when they saw Him, they begged Him to depart from their region. Matthew 8:28–34
The demons were cast into the herd of swine, who immediately threw themselves off a cliff. If swine are a symbol of people who do not think or are lazy in disregard, what does that say about the undiscerning church? They are inviting demons into their midst and running straight for destruction. On top of that, the people in the city who were told about this miracle actually asked Yahshua to leave!

I have heard it said that the swine in this biblical event are not a parable of believers but of unbelievers. In order to respond to that claim, we must first examine the doctrine of “once saved, always saved.” We will do this to answer the question, “Can a believer be counted as an unbeliever by God?”

Once Saved, Always Saved?

People seem to think that you can’t lose your salvation once you confess Christ. Scripture says otherwise:

Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name drive out demons and perform many miracles? Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you workers of lawlessness!’ Matthew 7:22-23 

Who says, “Lord, Lord?” Christians do. Jews do. Yet only those who DO the will of the Father are admitted into the kingdom of heaven. So, what happens to those who don’t?

And the Lord said, “Who then is that faithful and wise steward, whom his master will make ruler over his household, to give them their portion of food in due season? Blessed is that servant whom his master will find so doing when he comes. Truly, I say to you that he will make him ruler over all that he has. But if that servant says in his heart, ‘My master is delaying his coming,’ and begins to beat the male and female servants, and to eat and drink and be drunk, the master of that servant will come on a day when he is not looking for him, and at an hour when he is not aware, and will cut him in two and appoint him his portion with the unbelievers. And that servant who knew his master’s will, and did not prepare himself or do according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes. But he who did not know, yet committed things deserving of stripes, shall be beaten with few. For everyone to whom much is given, from him much will be required; and to whom much has been committed, of him they will ask the more. Luke 12:42–48
These two Scriptures are echoed and complimented by the following one:

“Then the kingdom of heaven shall be likened to ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. Now five of them were wise, and five were foolish. Those who were foolish took their lamps and took no oil with them, but the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps. But while the bridegroom was delayed, they all slumbered and slept.
“And at midnight a cry was heard: ‘Behold, the bridegroom is coming; go out to meet him!’ Then all those virgins arose and trimmed their lamps. And the foolish said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ But the wise answered, saying, ‘No, lest there should not be enough for us and you; but go rather to those who sell, and buy for yourselves.’ And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the wedding; and the door was shut.
“Afterward the other virgins came also, saying, ‘Lord, Lord, open to us!’ But he answered and said, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, I do not know you.’
“Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour in which the Son of Man is coming.” Matthew 25:1–13
All the virgins were Christians waiting for the Bridegroom, who is Christ. Yet some of them didn’t take it seriously enough. They didn’t fill their lamps with oil, which is a symbol of the anointing of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit is truth. These people ignored the truth and therefore had no light to shine. So then, if believers can be cast out with unbelievers, then they can be possessed, undiscerning swine running off a cliff. Note that this was a herd of swine. They ran in a large group, just as deception tends to be contagious in groups. It also tends to compound in the hearts of people who think they are living clean, moral lives, but are not filled with or following the Spirit.

“When an unclean spirit goes out of a man, he goes through dry places, seeking rest, and finds none. Then he says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came.’ And when he comes, he finds it empty, swept, and put in order. Then he goes and takes with him seven other spirits more wicked than himself, and they enter and dwell there; and the last state of that man is worse than the first. So shall it also be with this wicked generation.” Matthew 12:43–45
When a spirit is cast out of a person, he “cleans up” his life (becomes more moral and presentable), which actually makes the house MORE appealing to unclean spirits, and 4) if that “house” is not occupied by another spirit (an allusion to our need for the Holy Spirit) then it is even more susceptible to worse corruption. The scariest thing to me is that people can think they are following the Spirit of God when they are really following the spirit of Babylon. This is blasphemy.

“Therefore I say to you, every sin and blasphemy (slander, profanity) will be forgiven men, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven men. Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man, it will be forgiven him; but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit, it will not be forgiven him, either in this age or in the age to come. Matthew 12:31–32
How many Christians are claiming they are following the Spirit at this hour when they are actually aligning themselves with the world, being deceived into adopting its ways and ignoring the voice of God? We are typically called sheep, but only if we follow the voice of our Master. Can Christians become swine, then, following their base impulses without recognizing what their deepest psychological motives are? According to Luke 12 they can be appointed a place with unbelievers because of unfaithfulness. If they are unfaithful because they have shrugged off their callings, ignored the commands of God in His absence and instead made themselves like the world, then have they not opened themselves up to possession by unclean spirits? And if so, like the swine in Matthew 8, are they not running for a cliff?

In light of this stark reality, let’s look back at the topic of this book. For lack of discernment no one seems to question the tradition of eating ham at Christmas. In disregard they leave themselves open to possession by unclean spirits. Again, it’s not the eating of the ham that is the problem. It is the unquestioned tradition.

People celebrate Christmas because they want all these things, without consideration of what God wants of them. They don’t even realize that they have made an idol out their own desires for community, relationship, fun and an overly sated belly. They make up many excuses and justifications so they can feel good about Christianizing a pagan holiday that has nothing to do with Christ. They actually think they are doing something good by indulging in the spirit of the season as long as they are thankful that Christ was born. Did Christ die so that you could live a comfortable, prosperous, easy life? If this is what you think I urge you to read the New Testament again. We are called to difficulty, suffering and trials, yet through those trials we find solace and peace in trusting God’s plans for us. This is not to say we are to seek suffering, or that we’ll never have comfort as a Christian, but that suffering is a necessary part of our walk of faith. It is central to it. Christmas is antithetical to that message. It is nothing less than a declaration of the compromise of one’s faith and a rejection of the difficulties of being a follower of Christ. If you do not suffer, are you really walking in faith?

Is there not much to expose in this fallen world? Were we not told that the world would hate us for speaking the hard truth? Yet most professing Christians resist the truth at all costs while posing as what they believe a Christian should be, or what they think their neighbors expect them to be. There is a common term used for a person who acts showy when people are watching. Such a person is called a ham. There are a lot of Christmas hams out there who ignore the truth that the Bible teaches. Remember what Yahshua and His disciples said:

“If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you. If they kept My word, they will keep yours also.” John 15:18–20
Therefore, since Christ suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same mind, for he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin. 1 Peter 4:1
But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Yahshua, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you. 1 Peter 5:10
By faith Moses, when he became of age, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin, esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt; for he looked to the reward. Hebrews 11:24–26
My brethren, take the prophets, who spoke in the name of the Lord, as an example of suffering and patience. James 5:10
For this is commendable, if because of conscience toward God one endures grief, suffering wrongfully. 1 Peter 2:19
But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you are blessed. “And do not be afraid of their threats, nor be troubled.” 1 Peter 3:14

 

(Continued…)

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