christine's bible study

The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God stands forever. Isa 40:8

christmas and babylon, part three

I am taking a one- week break from the ten commandments series to repost this series written in 2010, explaining the significance of Babylon in Scripture, and the Christmas connection to it.

Previously: christmas and babylon, part two

So, now let us rewind a little bit. Nimrod established paganism, we learned. Paganism is the glorification of nature as creator and god. As with all religions, paganism has its holy days, its traditions and its practices. The greatest holy days of ancient paganism were the equinoxes and the solstices. The equinoxes occur in the spring and fall – when the length of the hours of daylight equalled the length of the hours of night. The spring and autumn equinox falls, in our calendar, on March 21 and September 21. The solstices are those times of the year when the sunlight in the day is at its greatest and shortest length. The solstices fall in the summer and winter. The summer solstice, when the length of sunlight in a day is its greatest, is in our calendar, June 21; and the winter solstice, when the length of sunlight in the day is at its shortest, is in our calendar, December 21.

You’ll notice the common denominator among these holy days is the sun. The sun is the chief god in paganism, and the other deities (the moon, the sea, the trees, etc.) are lesser deities. The sun is still worshiped as a god in the earth. Right here in Sarasota, one of the largest communities of sun worshipers in America has its home. You can see them gather on the beach on the sun’s holy day – sun day – at sun set, to worship it as it sinks into the Gulf.

In ancient days, from the Tower of Babel on, all the nations (but Israel) worshiped the sun as the cheif deity. They celebrated the equinoxes and solstices with feasting, immorality, merry making, and rejoicing.

Now in paganism, if you boil down the philosophy of their religion, all the various nature deities are facets of the sun: the sun is the cheif deity, as well as the combination or culmination of all the other deities. The sun is also Nimrod. Remember when I said that at the Tower of Babel, Nimrod was the first to style himself as deity incarnate? He was supposed to be the sun incarnate.

This tenet of pagan religion is clearly seen in ancient Egypt, as an example. The title “Pharaoh” for the absolute king of the people, means, “incarnation of the sun.” Pharaoh was not just Egypt’s king – he was also the embodiment of their god, Ra (the sun god), just as Nimrod was Babel’s king and the embodient of Babel’s god (also the sun). Egypt has the same tenet as Babylonian paganism, because the nation of Egypt was dispersed from Babel, the Bible teaches us.

But Egypt was not the only nation to preserve these tenets of paganism. All the nations were similar in their beliefs and the ways they worshiped their gods, because all the nations were dispersed from Babel. This is why Rome could enfold so many disparate nations under her umbrella with little trouble at all – they were all religiously nearly identical. They were all pagan, they were all devotees of the sun (even if it might have different names in different languages) and almost all of their kings were thought to be incarnations of the god. So if a pagan Greek offered a sacrifice to the sun god Apollo in Athens, or to Caesar the incarnation of the sun god as the head of the Roman empire in Rome, what’s the big deal? It all went to the same place, they thought.

All but Israel. Israel worshiped the one true God, YHVH. Idolatry was absolutely anathema and an abomination. God’s holy days were to be honored and observed, not the holy days of the nations around about them. God made a distinction between His people and the Egyptians, we learn from Torah. Yes, we are distinct, we are distinctly His, we are as distinctly different as the day is from the night. The light we shine forth – His light – illuminates the darkness around us.

In Torah, God commands that His people not mix with the people around about. His worship is not to be mixed with the worship of the idols. His altar is to be completely distinct from the idol altars. Read through the Torah and see how often a complete separation of the worship of God from anything having to do with idolatry is brought out – over and over again! Light cannot mix with darkness and remain light. Its purity and separateness (holiness) is one of its characteristics that makes it light.

So, there was a celebration in the pagan world for each of their major holy days commemorating the equinoxes and the solstices. The spring equinox was Ishtar’s day. Ishtar (Eastre in Saxon) was the goddess of fertility, so her day was celebrated with bunnies and eggs, the symbols of her fertility. Easter is our modern name for it. This is why Easter does not always stay with Passover in the calendar, even though Yeshua was crucified on Passover. It is always held the first Sunday after the full moon following the spring equinox. It is the spring equinox that fixes its date, because it is from paganism and not from the Lord.

The summer solstice was Midsummer’s Day. The autumn equinox was the big harvest celebration. The winter solstice was the celebration of the sun’s rebirth (as evidenced by the strengthening and lengthening sunlight). Two popular traditions to celebrate this holiday during the Roman Empire were Saturnalia, a week- long festival to Saturn (Nimrod) which coincided with the solstice, and the Festival of the Unconquered Sun, held on December 25th. The early Catholic church made December 25th the feast day of the nativity of Jesus – the true Unconquered Son – in opposition to the popular pagan holiday. The Catholic church to this day tends to deny it set the date of Christmas on December 25 in order to baptize paganism with a Catholic face.

There is evidence to the contrary that will not go away. The early Catholic church fathers preached sermons encouraging the celebration of Christmas as a Christian, and not a pagan, holiday. That they had to expend air defending it, from the early centuries, shows there was a persistent opposition to it as an expression of paganism.

Then the controversy was opened again at the Reformation, when all things Catholic were examined with a fine tooth comb and compared to Scripture. The American Puritans forbade Christmas keeping because its traditions were retooled pagan idolatry. Christmas did not become popular as a national celebration in America until Queen Victoria married her German Prince Albert, and brought Christmas keeping into the palace. As everything Queen Victoria did was all the rage in America at the time, Christmas keeping finally overcame its Puritan stigma and became an accepted American national holiday.

For further reading:
Why Christians Celebrate Christmas on December 25
Christmas tree origin in ancient practices of idolatry
Winter Solstice and celebrations
History Channel’s History of Christmas
True Origin of Christmas
Years without a Santa Claus: Puritans, Pagans, and Christmas by Jesse Walker (Reason magazine)
Antisemitism during Christmas

Continued: christmas and babylon, part four


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