That Time of the Year Again
Matthew Stepp
Pastor - Big Creek Baptist Church
Wayne, WV

Well, it’s that time of year again.  Spring Time!  Now that the snows have ended in the Middle East and the shepherds are looking at the end of their store of winter feed, they’d be heading back to the hills to graze their herds with the spring grass and foliage.  About this time of the year, would be an acceptable time for people to make long pilgrimages and trips.

Or maybe I’m wrong, and it would have to be more towards the autumn.  The roads can be pretty nasty with the spring rains.  The summer heat would be gone and travel would be more convenient and again the shepherds would be in the fields.

What am I talking about?  Why, the little town of Bethlehem!  That’s probably all I have to say, right?  Now everybody knows I’m talking about the Birth of Christ - otherwise known in this world as Christ-mass.  I guess everybody that has thought about the X-mass holiday celebration has pondered at one time or the other as to why the festivities take place in the dead of winter.  Why do Christians observe their Saviour’s birthday on December 25th when there’s no possibility of His being born on that date?  As we’ve already inferred, the shepherds would not have been in the hills and Caesar Augustus would never have made such a proclamation to travel to your hometowns to be taxed in the worst weather of the year!

So why observe Christ-mass in December?  I guess if you’ve pondered the holiday’s origins much, you know the answer to that, too.  I’m not going to get into a long protracted monologue detailing the Catholic origins of this holiday.  Fine for you, if you’re a Catholic, to celebrate Christ-mass to go along with all of your other false traditions of men.  This article is not primarily for you.  What you need are the fine articles The Voice in the Wilderness and The Berea Baptist Banner put out each November / December to prove that the celebration is a Catholic veneer over pagan traditions and worship ceremonies.  Can’t put Christ back into an observance He was never in, in the first place…   But He answered and said unto them, Why do ye also transgress the commandment of God by your tradition?” (Matthew 15:3).

No, this article is for saved Christians that are sincere in their worship of Almighty God.  Those who have for years been mourning the commercialization of their Saviour’s birth.  The ones who denounce ol’ Santa Claus and Jolly Saint Nick as lies.  The ones who … well, I can’t really think of any other part of the pagan traditions they’ve done away with!  The green tree still remains in most houses and many churches.  Gift-exchanging could NEVER be given up, could it?  The kiddies are expecting so much!  All the Nativity scenes and the bright lights are still a necessity to the celebration.

Okay, okay!  I’ve gotten off track again.  What I’d like to point out is what several sincere (I hope!) Christian observers have agreed with me about the lies of X-mass.  We’ve discussed the error of the time of the celebration and the worldly love of the customs and come to the conclusion together, that April or September would be a ‘better’ time to observe the holiday.  Little children, keep yourselves from idols. Amen.” (1 John 5:21). A lot of lies could be taken care of, if sincere Baptists would separate themselves from the Catholic monstrosity and just go off to another point in the calendar and draw off to their own churches and families to celebrate the birth of their Saviour!  They could do away with the ‘Three Wise Men’ kneeling at the manger - they weren’t in the barn with the swaddling babe! “And when they (Wise Men) were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him:” … (Matthew 2:11a). No problem with Santa Claus, either, when you leave winter behind!  All of the world would ridicule them as intolerant Baptists and meticulous and narrow-minded Christians.  Party-poopers and dogmatists they’d be branded, but that’d be all to the good wouldn’t it?  for that which is highly esteemed among men is abomination in the sight of God.” (Luke 16:15).

OKAY!  I can feel some enthusiasm already!  Let’s do it!  Let’s separate from all of the evils of the X-mass celebration all around the world and have our own private Baptist observance this time of year and leave all the lies behind once and for all!  After all, if we start it, we can control it, can’t we?  We can say for instance - No Baal bushes (evergreen tree worship – “And Judah did evil in the sight of the LORDunder every green tree.” (1 Kings 14:22-23))! No Yule logs, no stocking stuffers with gifts or ashes, no holly, no mistletoe, etc.  We could completely confine the celebration to a strict observance of Biblical Truth concerning the birth of our LORD!  We could make our family gatherings more spiritual and uplifting, instead of being embarrassed whenever the children would innocently question one of the pagan or Romish customs observed on December 25th.  YES!  Great Idea!

Can we do it?  Do we have enough backbone to throw all the evil away?  Hmm…  Why is there no great zeal and passion rising in your hearts?  Surely there is a desire to glorify the LORD?  To exonerate His Precious Name?  Take away the Shame of mixing paganism and Catholicism with our worship services and devotions?  Can’t we do this?  I mean, I was watching the History Channel, and it would have been a lot better if our English and American forefathers of the middle nineteenth century would have chosen a different time of year, so we could have a hundred and sixty-five year tradition going this time of year.  Yep, that would have made it a lot easier.  If we were lucky, it still wouldn’t be on the world’s calendar, yet, except as an asterisk.  After all the Greek Orthodox guys did it and they have their exclusive Christ-mass celebration on a different date in January!  But when America started celebrating this ‘time-honored’ and ‘aged’ tradition in the 1850’s, they were too short-sighted and chose to celebrate along with the Catholics, instead of honoring the truth of the ‘History Channel’ (for once!).

I hope that I haven’t piqued your interest too much in moving the celebration of the Saviour.  Because, as you know deep down in your heart, it wouldn’t work, would it?  X-mass is too steeped in tradition.  ‘Dreaming of a white Christ-mass’, ‘Jesus being the Reason for the Season’, family heirlooms perched on top of the brightly decorated trees, family gatherings and family memories, heart-touching stories of gifts from the heart, stories of great sacrifice at this time of year to give certain needy children a taste of what Christ-mass really is.  You know what?  A mere mortal can’t let it go!  One can see the lies and bemoan them.  One can perceive the idolatry and paganism, yet squeeze their eyes closed.  One can fall down on their knees and ask God to purify the honest desire to worship His Holy Birth, but as Job said long ago - “Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean? not one.” (Job 14:4).

We can’t do it, Honest Reader.  I know the sincere desire is there to worship God, but it’s no use - “This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me. But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.” (Matthew 15:8-9). The roots go too far back!  You see how quickly, even in just 165 years something can ingrain itself onto a whole country’s sense of right and wrong?  We simply can’t in good conscience celebrate Christ-mass in December or in April, June, or October.  We can’t rename it and start afresh either!  We can’t put Christ back into something that we have to honestly state He was NEVER IN … !

The best answer I’ve ever heard about why we Baptists don’t celebrate X-mass is - “My LORD hath not told me to do so.”  There is no “Thus saith the LORD” for this observance.  And if you can’t go to Scripture to back up your assertions, Christian BEWARE!  But now, after that ye have known God, or rather are known of God, how turn ye again to the weak and beggarly elements, whereunto ye desire again to be in bondage? {10} Ye observe days, and months, and times, and years. {11} I am afraid of you, lest I have bestowed upon you labour in vain.” (Galatians 4:9-11).

Interestingly enough, however, X-mass is in the Bible! Let the eyebrows rise!  Unfortunately for modern Christians, they aren’t very helpful references - at least for the perpetuation of this vile holiday of perfidy. Let’s start our scripture reading with Jeremiah 10:1-5. Hear ye the word which the LORD speaketh unto you, O house of Israel: {2} Thus saith the LORD, 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 ax. {4} They deck it with silver and with gold; they fasten it with nails and with hammers, that it move not. {5} They are upright as the palm tree, but speak not: they must needs be borne, because they cannot go. Be not afraid of them; for they cannot do evil, neither also is it in them to do good.

Sound familiar?  Can’t you see the scene from recent memory?  Grandpa and Dad tromping off into the forest to find the perfect tree. Cut it out and drag it back to the house. Put some cross-ties under it and fasten it upright with nails and hammers in a place of honor and prestige.  Deck it with silver and gold - top it off with the star of Bethlehem and cover the unsightly crossties with brightly decorated gifts and presents.

Eh, what’s that?  You say this couldn’t be an X-mass celebration - can’t be an X-mass tree, because it’s a thousand years before Christ’s birth?  Oh, how easy it is for man to limit an Eternal, Omniscient God in His need!  Don’t you think God knew the Future?  Okay, let’s take this a step at a time.  If you noticed the above similarities in the actions of the Babylonians and apostate Israelites and modern day celebrations, we must make a defense of these seemingly un-Christ-like actions.

First of all, I KNOW that you’re not wanting to worship the tree.  In Jeremiah 10, that was the primary focal point of the tree.  It was a laughable god - an idol, even.  The foolish heathen thought they could worship an unspeaking, immobile tree and the god would reward them with good fortune and blessings.  That’s not what modern Christians are doing!  They are worshipping the God of the tree!  Well, maybe this is not such a good argument, because actually that is what the heathen are doing, too.  The idol stands for their god as well … Hmm … .

I hope for your sake that you’re praying as you read this.  For if you are, the Holy Ghost will surely be convicting you.  I certainly do not want to be irreverent here, but how can you not wonder about God starting up a nice tradition celebrating His Son’s birth and not being original enough to have His own customs and garnishes?  To have to steal them from Satan’s followers and heathen practices!  Selah - THINK ABOUT IT!  At least the Catholics have the guts to acknowledge that they’ve done this in the history books.

Well, what about the gift-giving?  Did you know that’s in the Scriptures, as well?  Just turn to Revelation 11:7-10, where it speaks about God’s two faithful witnesses - “And when they shall have finished their testimony, the beast that ascendeth out of the bottomless pit shall make war against them, and shall overcome them, and kill them. {8} And their dead bodies shall lie in the street of the great city, which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, where also our Lord was crucified. {9} And they of the people and kindreds and tongues and nations shall see their dead bodies three days and an half, and shall not suffer their dead bodies to be put in graves. {10} And they that dwell upon the earth shall rejoice over them, and make merry, and shall send gifts one to another; because these two prophets tormented them that dwelt on the earth.”

Again, you might argue that there is no mention of the word X-mass or any equivalent.  Do you really have any problem seeing the merry-makers passing their glittering gifts to one another that they’ve saved up all year to get?  I see it every winter, and I fully expect the two prophets to die on December 24th or 25th.  The gifts are ALREADY at hand, the merriment is cranked up and all that stops a really good celebration are these two strait-laced (Baptist) prophets preaching the Gospel Truth and telling the world that their Holy Day is a pack of lies!  When the beast is allowed to kill them, the World will go wild with celebration.  Fortunately, you and I will not be there, having been raptured out three and a half years earlier, but imagine the horror of watching the crowds observing a so-called holy day with such rapacity and bloodthirsty vigor.  I would hope again for the pricking of a conscience at this certain evidence in the Bible of an X-mass celebration, but even that won’t happen unless you are truly praying to God to show you the Truth.

I guess that I might be confused a little.  I mean, I was fortunate enough to be blessed by God in that I grew up in a house that already abstained from these pagan celebrations.  Did I ever miss the feel-good echoes that resonate throughout Christendom during the Holiday Season?  Fleshly speaking, I must admit that it was very difficult for me a few times.  All of your friends are talking about gifts.  All the heart-warming stories are there of heroic sacrifices and magnanimous choices made by godly saints.  People LOVE this holiday and exalt it to the highest level!  It has risen in most American Christian lives as the ultimate event of the year … but I inwardly tremble … “A wonderful and horrible thing is committed in the land; {31} The prophets prophesy falsely, and the priests bear rule by their means; and my people love to have it so: and what will ye do in the end thereof?” (Jeremiah 5:30-31).

Can you really give it up?  Is there not a desire to do so?  Have we lost all sense of spiritual direction where this ONE THING is concerned?  How long will the Holy Spirit prick our dull consciences?  Do you want Him to stop?  Don’t you realize how dangerous it is?  For yourself, yes, but particularly for your children and theirs.  For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book:” (Revelation 22:18). Your family will grow up in total ignorance of the pagan and Catholic origins of X-mass and innocently copy and add to their worship services everything that you do during this season.

The offerings of Nadab and Abihu weren’t anything extraordinary from other activities of that special day, but they were something that was ‘added’.  They were something that the ‘LORD had not commanded’.  And Moses and Aaron went into the tabernacle of the congregation, and came out, and blessed the people: and the glory of the LORD appeared unto all the people. {24} And there came a fire out from before the LORD, and consumed upon the altar the burnt offering and the fat: which when all the people saw, they shouted, and fell on their faces.” (Leviticus 9:23-24). (This was surely wondrous and exhilarating and filled every one with the Spirit of Worship!) {1}And Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, took either of them his censer, and put fire therein, and put incense thereon, and offered strange fire before the LORD, which he commanded them not. {2} And there went out fire from the LORD, and devoured them, and they died before the LORD. {3} Then Moses said unto Aaron, This is it that the LORD spake, saying, I will be sanctified in them that come nigh me, and before all the people I will be glorified. And Aaron held his peace.” (Leviticus 10:1-3).

God’s worship is so supreme, that Aaron and the remaining sons were not allowed to mourn or do anything to distract from the most important acts in the Universe this day - GOD’s Worship Service!  And Moses said unto Aaron, and unto Eleazar and unto Ithamar, his sons, Uncover not your heads, neither rend your clothes; lest ye die, and lest wrath come upon all the people: but let your brethren, the whole house of Israel, bewail the burning which the LORD hath kindled. {7} And ye shall not go out from the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, lest ye die: for the anointing oil of the LORD is upon you. And they did according to the word of Moses.” (Leviticus 10:6-7). Can you really and honestly make a difference in what Nadab and Abihu did and the modern adaptations of the X-mass celebration that have become pivotal and supreme in most, even Baptist churches today?  Has the emphasis of our worship been directed else from where God, Himself commanded us?  Can we do that lightly, as Nadab and Abihu did?  They certainly meant no dishonor to God in their hearts or actions.  They just got caught up in the excitement of that day.  ‘Fire from Heaven!  Glory to God!  Hey, look what else we can do!  Fire in our censers!  Glory to God!’

Huh-uh.  ONLY WORSHIP GOD IN THE WAY HE HAS COMMANDED.  I’m deadly serious here now.  If we don’t have a “Thus saith the LORD”, then PLEASE don’t do it.  It’s hazardous, very hazardous.  None of the Ten Commandments specifically ruled out what Aaron’s sons were about to do in the joyous exhilaration of the moment as wrong or incorrect - other than that God already had a worship plan - a church bulletin if you please - already filled out.  And it OOZES WITH GLORY UNTO GOD!  We can’t make it better!  Mere mortals?  Improve upon God?

I want to leave you with a couple of Scriptures that are very pertinent and meaningful.  They have jarred me and stopped me in my tracks on several occasions.  Their relevance to this holiday celebration is stunning!  Read closely.  … the sum total of these twenty verses will puncture the soul of the season. 

Hear the word of the LORD, ye rulers of Sodom; give ear unto the law of our God, ye people of Gomorrah. {11} To what purpose is the multitude of your sacrifices unto me? saith the LORD: I am full of the burnt offerings of rams, and the fat of fed beasts; and I delight not in the blood of bullocks, or of lambs, or of he goats. {12} When ye come to appear before me, (X-mass?) who hath required this at your hand, to tread my courts? {13} Bring no more vain oblations; incense is an abomination unto me; the new moons and sabbaths, the calling of assemblies, I cannot away with; it is iniquity, even the solemn meeting. (You can’t make your X-mass worship serious enough or acceptable enough!) {14} Your new moons and your appointed feasts my soul hateth: they are a trouble unto me; I am weary to bear them. {15} And when ye spread forth your hands, I will hide mine eyes from you: yea, when ye make many prayers, I will not hear: your hands are full of blood. (Now the exhortation to US!) {16} Wash you, make you clean; put away the evil of your doings from before mine eyes; cease to do evil; {17} Learn to do well; seek judgment, relieve the oppressed, judge the fatherless, plead for the widow. {18} Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool. {19} If ye be willing and obedient, ye shall eat the good of the land: {20} But if ye refuse and rebel, ye shall be devoured with the sword: (spiritual or physical?) for the mouth of the LORD hath spoken it.(Isaiah 1:10-20).

And the word of the LORD came unto me, saying, {24} Son of man, say unto her, Thou art the land that is not cleansed, (America) nor rained upon in the day of indignation. {25} There is a conspiracy (not necessarily of men, but of Satan through) of her prophets in the midst thereof, like a roaring lion ravening the prey; they have devoured souls; they have taken the treasure and precious things; they have made her many widows in the midst thereof. {26} Her priests have violated my law, and have profaned mine holy things: they have put no difference between the holy and profane, neither have they showed difference between the unclean and the clean, and have hid their eyes from my sabbaths, and I am profaned among them. {27} Her princes in the midst thereof are like wolves ravening the prey, to shed blood, and to destroy souls, to get dishonest gain. {28} And her prophets have daubed them with untempered mortar, (there is NOThus Saith the LORD”!) seeing vanity, and divining lies (LIES, LIES!) unto them, saying, Thus saith the Lord GOD, when the LORD hath not spoken (My LORD hath not told me to do it … !). {29} The people of the land have used oppression, and exercised robbery, and have vexed the poor and needy: yea, they have oppressed the stranger wrongfully. {30} And I sought for a man among them, that should make up the hedge, and stand in the gap before me for the land, that I should not destroy it: but I found none (Oh, our poor, sorrowful country of America … ). {31} Therefore have I poured out mine indignation upon them; I have consumed them with the fire of my wrath: their own way have I recompensed upon their heads, saith the Lord GOD.” (Ezekiel 22:23-31). (All parenthetics in Scripture text are the author’s.)

America’s ONLY Hope and OUR only course of action is to return to the LORD’s Word and Perfect Will.  May the LORD bless these SINCERE pleadings to OUR hearts - may it be prayingly humble and submissive to His Will for your life, as I pray that mine will be also…

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