Understanding Those Who Do Not Esteem the Day
Section 1.A Good Reasons for NOT Esteeming the Day
Its Pagan Roots
Genesis 11:1-9 traces the origin of all false religious systems back to Babel. Verse four tells us of the ambition of those who gathered at Babel: to make a name for themselves (mankind) by building a city-state (world empire). This religious system was designed by men for the purpose of exalting man… for the glory of man. They were not trying to extend the testimony of God, but to make a name for themselves. Their goal was to reach to heaven on their own. The Babylonian false, religious system was designed by men, with no place for God.
Their immediate purpose was to prevent God’s Word from being accomplished. God said, “Fill the earth” (Gen. 1:28), but they wanted to build a city that they might remain together. Being scattered would prevent their purpose from being accomplished, or at least postpone it for many centuries. They sought to form a one world system, both religious and political. This goal will be accomplished in the last days. Revelation speaks of this: a revival of ancient Babylon – a worldwide political and religious empire under the leadership of the antichrist (Rev.13,17,18).
In verse six, God saw that they were one, and He knew that this union would result in unrestrained evil. If God allowed this to continue, nothing would be restrained from these wicked, godless men. In verse seven and eight, God intervened in human history to prevent that from happening. God called the place Babel (Babylon) – because there He confounded the languages and forced them to separate (vs.9).
In Genesis 6:5,11, mankind demonstrated the awful consequences of evil. God destroyed the world in a flood. Unrestrained evil was about to occur again. However, God said He would never send another flood to destroy mankind. This time, he would choose another method to deal with the problem: dilution! Scattering these men was like diluting this concentration of evil in one place. The brazen defiance at Babel was like a poison coagulating in one place, and God chose to dilute it. It was successfully diluted by scattering mankind over the whole earth, which happened to be God’s original purpose and plan.
You might illustrate this as a cancerous tumor in the body which is bombarded by drugs. This breaks up the tumor and prevents the patient from dying. However, it sends little particles of that disease in manageable quantities throughout the whole body. The disease is still there – but spread out so thinly, it is not nearly as dangerous as when it was concentrated in one organ. Such a disease may come back later… but it gives the patient more time.
In a sense, this is just what God did with the ancient Babylonian religion and their ambitions for empire. He broke up that concentrated tumor of evil in Babel. However, in scattering them, little particles of that ancient religion were scattered all over the world. Those ancient beliefs and ambitions are still present in the world, and one day will come back – and will become concentrated once again. Then judgment will be necessary. The ancient Babylonian religion that arose in Genesis is seen to have a revival in the book of Revelation (Rev. 17:5). Hislop and others argue that in Revelation 17, Babylon refers to Rome, a spiritual name for Rome. I think it is better to take God’s Word for what it says. Babylon means Babylon. As time goes on, we are discovering that Revelation is best understood by using the literal method of interpretation consistently. Babylon will be once and for all judged by God – not scattered this time (Rev. 18:10).
Consider the effects of such a scattering. These men were in the process of establishing a one world empire and one world religion. There was ONE original false religious system at Babylon. This was the religion of all the men who joined in this open rebellion against God. When God scattered these men, they brought with them the seeds of this false Babylonian religious system. Thus, on the one hand, this scatteringrestrained these men from fulfilling their dreams and imagination of creating a one world empire and one world religion. They could no longer communicate or work together. That dream came to an abrupt halt. But on the other hand, this scattering spread this false religious system worldwide. Everywhere they went, they brought elements of this original religious system with them.
The ancient Babylonian religion was the worship of a mother and son. This is traced back to two historical characters: Semiramis and Nimrod. According to Gen. 10:8-10, Nimrod was a mighty one (tyrant; conqueror). He was a hunter and showed wisdom and skill in hunting animals and protecting the population from the fierce animals that roamed the earth after the flood. He built many cities in the region (vs.10). But the beginning (and center) of his kingdom was Babel.
Genesis 10:11 says (in the KJV) “Out of that land went for Asshur…” According to Henry Morris and others, this is better translated as “went forth into Assyria”… meaning that Nimrod went forth from there and built other cities as well… including Assyria.
The Assyrian records list Ninus as the founder of Assyria, which is but another form of Nimrod. (Micah 5:6 refers to Assyria as the land of Nimrod.) Nimrod was a true empire builder of his day. Nimrod was the mighty leader & king at Babel, his headquarters. It was he who united all men to revolt against the Lord and form their own empire and their own religious system, a one world system, without God.
There he had constructed a grand temple dedicated to the glory of man: the tower of Babel, complete with idols and a change in worship – from the Creator to the creature (Rom. 1:21-23). This temple was said to contain three dimensional representations of four legged beasts and creeping things to serve as aids in worship. This was the beginning of apostasy and idolatry. The focus shifted away from God the Creator to the creatures, and to man, and one man in particular – Nimrod himself. The Babylonian religious system was the beginning of emperor worship.
Legends arose about this man, Nimrod. Semiramis and Nimrod came to be known in ancient records. Semiramis is also said to be the original high priestess of the Babel religion. She is called the Queen of heaven in Jeremiah’s prophecy (Jer.44:19,25). When the men of Babel were scattered throughout the world, they took this Mother/Son religion with them. This worship appears in many nations under various names, each of which can be traced back to ancient Babylon.
- Babylon: Nimrod & Semiramis
- Egypt: Isis & Osiris
- India: Isi & Iswara
- Pagan Rome: Fortuna & Jupiter (Venus & Cupid)
- Greece: Irene & Pluto
Nimrod & Semiramis had a son named Tammuz. Tammuz was also known as Baal, Osiris, Eros, and Cupid. The story of Tammuz is the story of the son of Nimrod and Semiramis in Ezekiel 8:14-15. According to the cult of Ishtar, Tammuz was conceived by a sunbeam, a counterfeit version of Jesus’ virgin birth. He was supposedly killed by a wild boar which represented winter. Semiramis (also known as Ishtar) his mother, mourned & wept for him & finally descended into the nether world and delivered him from death. The death of crops and scorching heat of the sun in the summer was blamed on his death. The women joined Ishtar in weeping & mourning the loss of their loved one, especially during the drought season of June & July, for 40 days (origin of lent). This weeping was supposed to assure that the vegetation & crops would survive or come back to life. In the spring, Tammuz would emerge victoriously from the underworld and bring with him the life-giving rains. The seasons were thought to depict the death & resurrection of this nature god. (Summer scorched him; winter killed him; spring brought him back to life.) Ezekiel shows that a variation of this ancient Babylonian mystery religion was still being practiced in the Jewish Temple! Revelation teaches us that a revived form of that same ancient Babylonian empire/religion will arise in the last days under the Antichrist – who also will be slain, come back to life; claim credit for the prosperity of the world; and unite all men under his one world empire.
A form of this legend appears in many lands. The reason is obvious: they all had a common source: Babel! The names are changed and some of the details have been corrupted over the years, but the basic legends are still remarkably similar. The ancient Babylonian mystery religionspread throughout the world when God scattered the originators at Babel. It was still being practiced – even in the Temple of Solomon, just before the exile. This mystery religion flourished in both ancient Greece and Rome.
Its link to Apostate Christianity.
In a.d. 313 the emperor Constantine issued the Edict of Milan. This granted religious freedom to the Christians and ending 250 years of awful persecution against the churches. Constantine “baptized” many of the pagan practices of the Roman Empire and received them into the church under new names. He made Christianity a state-approved religion. While this at first may have been considered a great blessing for the church, it was actually worse for their spiritual lives than the persecution. Christianity was merged with the Roman state and Roman paganism. The pagan temples were given a quick make-over and were called churches. The pagan priests suddenly were called Christian priests. The statutes of pagan deities in the Temples were given new names: they no longer represented the pagan deities, but now represented saints. The ancient pagan holy days which had been celebrated for centuries by the pagans, all of a sudden were given new names, and became Christian holy days. Rome gave a pagan holiday the very Roman name, Christ-MASS. The name had reference to a Roman mass, a mass held in honor of the birth of Christ. Even the name of the holiday smacks of Rome.
Encyclopedia Encarta: The Roman Catholic Church chose December 25 as the day for the Feast of the Nativity in order to give Christian meaning to existing pagan rituals. For example, the Church replaced festivities honoring the birth of Mithra, the god of light, with festivities to commemorate the birth of Jesus, whom the Bible calls the light of the world. The Catholic Church hoped to draw pagans into its religion by allowing them to continue their revelry while simultaneously honoring the birthday of Jesus.
When we speak of the Roman Empire becoming “Christian”, we are not talking about a massive revival in which the masses in the Roman Empire suddenly turned in faith to Christ, were born again, and were Spirit baptized into the Body of Christ. We are rather referring to a royal edict from the king which arrogantly “decreed” all of his subjects “Christians” (apart from the new birth) and decreed Rome to be a Christian Empire. The ancient Babylonian mystery religion that had such a huge influence on Roman paganism, was now incorporated into the Roman church. The mother/child mystery cult had survived many centuries.
The Roman Emperor made a few adjustments, and voila: his pagan subjects, who were accustomed to this mother/child cult, made an easy transition by simply changing the name to Mary/Jesus. They could still use many of the same statues and images of the mother holding the infant and celebrate the same holidays. All they had to do was to change the pagan names to Christian names!
The Bible does not say when Christ was born. Its chances of being on December 25th are perhaps less than one in 365. Shepherds were still spending the night feeding their flocks when He was born. It is unlikely that that would be the case in late December. Also, it is unlikely that the king would have made every citizen, including every pregnant lady in the country travel to their city of birth in the dead of the winter to pay taxes. (Jesus said, “Pray that your flight be not in winter! Matt.24:20) There is general agreement on this point.
The Encyclopedia Americana (1946, article “Christmas”) says the same–
“CHRISTMAS, the ‘Mass of Christ’… In the 5th century the Western Church ordered it to be celebrated forever on the day of the old Roman feast of the Birth of Sol (the Sun). Among the German and Celtic tribes, the Winter Solstice was considered an important point of the year, and they held their chief festival of Yule to commemorate the return of the burning-wheel (the sun).”
And Everyman’s Encyclopedia says–
“CHRISTMAS (the Mass of Christ)… It is certain that the time now fixed could not by any possibility have been the period of Jesus’ birth. The choice of this season was probably due to the general recognition that the Winter Solstice was the turning point of the year.”
We just don’t know when He was born. And if that is the case, then why a birthday celebration, and where did the date December 25th come from? According to Hislop’s The Two Babylons, (pg. 93) long before the Christian era, the pagans had been celebrating the birth of the son of the Babylonian Queen of heaven. In order to conciliate the heathen, the pagan festival was accepted by the Roman Church and given a new name – identifying it with Christ. The popular Roman festival was called “Saturnalia” and was more like a New Year celebration. The feast lasted seven days. It was a feast of the god Saturn, the god of agriculture (like Baal; Tammuz). Many believe that it was this feast that later became known as Christmas. This is the most common view of the origin of Christmas. In 274 AD, Emperor Aurelian decreed December 25thas a festival in honor of the sun god Mithras. This was the winter solstice on the Julian calendar.
The Encyclopedia Britannica —
“Christmas customs are an evolution from times that long antedated the Christian period: a descent from seasonal, pagan, religious, and national practices. The god Saturn’s great festival was the Saturnalia. Business, public and private, was at a standstill, schools closed, presents were exchanged, the traditional ones being candles and dolls.”
In Egypt, the son of Isis, the Egyptian title for the queen of heaven was said to be born around this time, the time of the winter solstice. The pagan Anglo-Saxons had an ancient celebration called “Yule Day”, which meant Child Day which was celebrated on December 25th. Picking December 25th would satisfy most of the pagan worshippers, for they all had some sort of celebration around the winter solstice.
Lots of different dates for the birth of Christ have been proposed over the centuries. Clement, bishop of Alexandria picked Nov. 18th. De Pascha Computus, an anonymous document written in North Africa around AD 243 listed Jesus’ birth day as March 28th. The first mention of a Nativity feast appears in a Roman document from AD 354 which lists December 25th as the day of Christ’s birth, but it is unknown how they arrived at that date. The fact is we just don’t know when…
What we DO know is that the Bible is absolutely silent on the date of Christ’s birth. The Bible is also silent concerning any day set aside to celebrate His birth. Neither the date nor the celebration of His birth are found in the Bible. They are both of human origin. It is without question, a man-made tradition. Like it or not – those are the facts.
The Absence of any Christian Holy Day in the Bible
“It is admitted by the most learned and candid writers of all parties that, within the Christian Church, no such festival as Christmas was ever heard of till the third century, and that not till the fourth century was far advanced did it gain much observance.” (Hislop) The Bible gives us no commands whatsoever to celebrate Christmas. The early church did not celebrate Christmas. There is nothing from the Bible or from history that tells us that we ought to celebrate Christmas. It is entirely man-made – a tradition of men. God gave many holy days to Israel, but NONE to the Christian church.
These are some of the reasons why many believers choose NOT to celebrate Christmas:
- It is a tradition of men.
- The date is man made.
- The celebration is man made.
- It is never mentioned in the Bible.
- It has clear, undeniable roots in apostate Christendom through Rome.
- It has historical links to ancient paganism that date all the way back to the Babylonian mystery cult.
Assuming their motives are right, we can conclude the following about believers who choose not to celebrate Christmas:
- Their decision is based on solid, undeniable, historical evidence.
- Their decision is in perfect harmony with God’s Word.
- Their decision is reasonable, rational, and Christ-honoring.
- They are to be received and respected for those convictions (Romans 14:1-6).