Christmas and the Birthday of the Sun

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At the end of every year, in the month of December, the whole world is abuzz with a festive atmosphere celebrating Christmas. Christmas was established under the pretense of Jesus’ birth and has become a festival celebrated throughout the whole world, transcending religions and nationalities.

On the surface, Christmas appears to contain the meaning of Christ’s birth. However, we should keep in mind that if even the smallest part of the truth is changed, it is no longer the truth that contains the promise of God’s salvation. Truth must remain intact, kept pure, and be consistent with the word of God; it must not be contaminated even in the smallest way.

Let us see through the Bible whether or not Christ was indeed born on Christmas day.

The Origin and Historical Background of Christmas

Through history, let us see how Christmas emerged as the day for so many churches to celebrate the birth of Christ.

After Jesus ascended and the apostles died, the church was gradually secularized and began accepting pagan ideas and rituals. One such ritual was Christmas, which many people have come to know as the birthday of Jesus. Eventually, Christmas became universally accepted as the day of Jesus’ birth.

In Rome, three major festivals were celebrated at the end of December every year. The first was Brumalia on December 25—the winter solstice that Mithraism celebrates as the birth of the sun god. The winter solstice is the day with the least amount of daylight and the longest night of the year. Romans considered December 25 to be the day of the rebirth of the sun due to the increasing amount of light from that day onward.

The saints of the early Church originally rejected these pagan festivals, but as time passed, they gradually accepted them. In Christian history, it was after the fourth century that the church began to celebrate Christmas on December 25.

Christmas: The first celebration of Christ’s birth on the 25th of December [Christmas] dates back to 354, the age of Liverius the Roman bishop. And in 379, it was celebrated in Constantinople and then spread to Egypt and Palestine. Christmas originated in Rome. In Rome there were three great festivals successively at the end of December. The first was Saturnalia (December 12–24), the ancient Roman festival of Saturn, god of agriculture. During this festival, all the people indulged in pleasure, regardless of wealth or social position. The second was Sigillaria (at the end of December). During this festival, they gave their children dolls to play with. The third was Brumalia, the winter solstice festival for celebrating the rising of the sun. However, since Christians could not join those festivals, they groped for their own festival to celebrate the birth of Jesus. They thought that it was reasonable to celebrate the birth of Jesus just after the rising of the sun. From these pagan customs came the celebration of Christ’s birth on the 25th of December, the birthday of the sun. This is the origin of Christmas. 송낙원 “교회사”, 이건사, 1981, pp. 174-175

Christianity and Pagan Customs: The Christian church took over many pagan ideas and images. From sun worship, for example, came the celebration of Christ’s birth on the twenty-fifth of December, the birthday of the Sun. Saturnalia, the Roman winter festival of 17–21 of December, provided the merriment, gift-giving and candles typical of later Christmas holidays. Sun worship hung on in Roman Christianity . . . The History of Christianity [A Lion Handbook], Tim Dowley, Lion Publishing, 1994, p. 140

According to historical evidence, Christmas can never be the birthday of Jesus. Let us take a look at the scene of Jesus’ birth in the Bible.

. . . While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn. And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you: . . .” Lk 2:1–12

The Bible shows that when Jesus was born, shepherds were taking care of their flocks outside in the fields at night. However, in December (Israel’s winter season) shepherds were unable to tend their flocks in the fields at night. Traditionally, shepherds in Israel grazed their flocks during the spring season, from March to April. Therefore, we can approximate that Jesus was born around March or April; it is absurd to claim that Jesus was born in December.

Since the date of Jesus’ birth was not specifically recorded in the Bible, secularized Christians arbitrarily set their own date for Jesus’ birth as December 25, which is actually the birthday of the pagan sun god. In this way, they came to celebrate this pagan festival, accepting the birthday of a pagan god as if it were the day of Jesus’ birth. They proceeded to establish it as a doctrine of the Christian church, even adding some ceremonies to worship. They subsequently made various myths and customs, such as the Christmas tree and Santa Claus, and turned it into the greatest celebration for Christians nowadays. Since this tradition was held for over 1,600 years, everyone has commonly accepted this distorted truth.

The History of Sun Worship in the Bible

Even though its origins are derived from sun worship and not a part of God’s truth, many Christians today accept Christmas without hesitation. This behavior is not unique only to this generation; since the Old Testament times, the Israelites had worshiped the sun, behaving in the same way as pagans who didn’t believe in God. Whenever they worshiped the sun and strayed away from God, God sent prophets to warn His people time and time again.

“ ‘I will destroy your high places, cut down your incense altars [sun-images, ASV] and pile your dead bodies on the lifeless forms of your idols, and I will abhor you.’ ” Lev 26:30

There were people who made altars to serve the sun god in the time of Moses as well. In the book of Leviticus, God said concerning them, “I will abhor you,” and made it clear that He would destroy all the idols intended for worshiping the sun god.

. . . Don’t you know what the Scripture says in the passage about Elijah—how he appealed to God against Israel: “Lord, they have killed your prophets and torn down your altars; I am the only one left, and they are trying to kill me”? And what was God’s answer to him? “I have reserved for myself seven thousand who have not bowed the knee to Baal.” So too, at the present time there is a remnant chosen by grace. Ro 11:2–5

In the time of Ahab, the king of Israel, the people were deceived and began worshiping Baal, the sun god. God chose the prophet Elijah to destroy all the Baal worshipers. Nevertheless, the worship of the sun god continued in Judah until the time of King Asa and of King Josiah.

Asa did what was good and right in the eyes of the LORD his God. He removed the foreign altars and the high places, smashed the sacred stones and cut down the Asherah poles. He commanded Judah to seek the LORD, the God of their fathers, and to obey his laws and commands. He removed the high places and incense altars in every town in Judah, and the kingdom was at peace under him. 2 Ch 14:2–5

He removed from the entrance to the temple of the LORD the horses that the kings of Judah had dedicated to the sun. They were in the court near the room of an official named Nathan-Melech. Josiah then burned the chariots dedicated to the sun. 2 Ki 23:11

Under his direction the altars of the Baals were torn down; he cut to pieces the incense altars that were above them, and smashed the Asherah poles, the idols and the images. These he broke to pieces . . . and so he purged Judah and Jerusalem. . . . 2 Ch 34:4–7

Through the history of the Bible, we can confirm that whenever the people’s faith became corrupt and they turned their backs to God, sun worship was always working behind the scenes. Only after sun worship ceased and the idols were torn down could the nation enjoy peace once again.

When Josiah discovered the Book of the Law in the temple of God, he resolved to fulfill the words of the covenant and then destroyed all the idols throughout Jerusalem and Judah, which had been secretly worshiped. After celebrating the Passover with all his heart, mind, and strength, he went on to destroy all the idol worshipers and remove all the articles used in the worship of the sun god.

[.] “. . . ‘This is what the Sovereign LORD says to the mountains and hills, to the ravines and valleys: I am about to bring a sword against you, and I will destroy your high places. Your altars will be demolished and your incense altars will be smashed; and I will slay your people in front of your idols.’ ” Eze 6:1–4

Throughout all ages, God’s wrath has been poured out whenever people worship the sun god. God warned of desolation for the cities where people turned to Asherah poles and incense altars (Isa 17:7–12; 27:7–9). All throughout the Bible, it is clear that God is not pleased with those who worship the sun god.

Sun Worship Made Its Way Into the Church

Since a long time ago, sun worship has been practiced by those who claim to believe in God; even now, sun worship is intertwined into the life of faith of many believers in God.

When we look at the current situation of Christianity, in addition to Christmas, there are many other sun worship customs and practices that have infiltrated the church. The representative custom practiced by most churches is Sunday worship.

The original day of worship, commemorating the power of our Creator, is the Sabbath, the seventh day of the week—Saturday. Nevertheless, today’s churches worship on Sunday. As the churches became secularized, they accepted the custom of worshiping on Sunday, and with that, sun worship. The Roman Emperor Constantine officially authorized Christianity and declared Sunday to be a public holiday in A.D. 321; Sabbath worship disappeared from history, and Sunday worship was formalized.

In A.D. 325, the Passover, the truth of life, was abolished at the Council of Nicaea, and Christmas took its place around A.D. 354. Those who wanted to follow the truth escaped to the mountains or the wilderness and lived an ascetic life. The world entered the Dark Ages and passed through a long tunnel of spiritual darkness. During this time, the rules of men were widely accepted by people as if they were the truth. Meanwhile, Christmas and Sunday worship became the representative religious ceremonies for Christianity.

In a parable spoken by Jesus 2,000 years ago, He clearly taught that falsehood would masquerade as truth and that it would be passed down for a long time. In the parable, the owner of the field sowed good seed, but weeds were sown by the enemy. When the good seeds [wheat] sprouted and the weeds also grew, the owner commanded his servants not to remove the weeds, but to let them grow together until the harvest.

In accordance with Jesus’ words, weeds have grown rampantly for over a thousand years, and false doctrines have become predominantly accepted by most people. At the time of the harvest, the weeds will be collected first and tied into bundles to be burned. Then the wheat will be gathered and brought into the barn. This shows that those who practice lawlessness will not escape judgment at the end of the age and that only those who follow the truth can enter the eternal Kingdom of Heaven (Mt 13:24–30, 36–43).

The Fate of Sun Worshipers

Thousands of years ago, God prophesied that churches would openly worship the sun god.

He said to me, “Do you see this, son of man? You will see things that are even more detestable than this.” He then brought me into the inner court of the house of the LORD, and there at the entrance to the temple, between the portico and the altar, were about twenty-five men. With their backs toward the temple of the LORD and their faces toward the east, they were bowing down to the sun in the east. He said to me, “Have you seen this, son of man? Is it a trivial matter for the house of Judah to do the detestable things they are doing here? . . . Therefore I will deal with them in anger; I will not look on them with pity or spare them. Although they shout in my ears, I will not listen to them.” Eze 8:15–18

In a vision shown to the prophet Ezekiel, he saw people in the temple of God [church] worshiping the sun in the east. Although God should be worshiped in the church, they are actually worshiping the sun god—only having the superficial appearance of worshiping God. For all their detestable deeds, God will pour out His wrath on them.

. . . Then the LORD called to the man clothed in linen who had the writing kit at his side and said to him, “Go throughout the city of Jerusalem and put a mark on the foreheads of those who grieve and lament over all the detestable things that are done in it.” As I listened, he said to the others, “Follow him through the city and kill, without showing pity or compassion. Slaughter old men, young men and maidens, women and children, but do not touch anyone who has the mark. Begin at my sanctuary.” So they began with the elders who were in front of the temple. Eze 9:3–6

Ezekiel 9 shows that God’s judgment for such detestable idolatry will begin at the temple. This prophecy reveals that the outpouring of God’s wrath will begin with the leaders of the churches who claim to believe in God. It is also written that a mark should be put on the foreheads of those who grieve and lament over all the detestable things that are done in the temple.

From Old Testament times until now, sun worship has been at the core of all false doctrines that pretend to be the truth; sun worship has always distorted the truth and robbed people of their faith in God. Rather than the customs of any pagan religion or the culture of any country, the word of God must be the foundation of our faith. Within Christmas is hidden the crafty scheme of Satan to make people worship the sun god under the guise of Jesus’ birth. Satan misuses God’s name to mislead many people to commit the spiritual crime of sun worship.

Even though many people surrender to worldly customs and walk in the wrong direction, we should keep God’s commandments to the end, following every biblical teaching from the Spirit and the Bride. Furthermore, as the children of God, let us deliver the truth to those who cannot discern the truth from falsehood. May you all become the last religious reformers who light up the torch of truth in this dark world by boldly proclaiming the truth.