As the holiday season approaches, so does the never ending debate about celebrating holidays. Many of our holidays and traditions have been influenced by paganism; as have the days of the week, weddings, funerals, etc. How can a Christian find a balance and make godly choices in view of all the pagan traditions and influences and not appear to be a compromiser?
Part of the problem in regard to holidays is described in Ecclesiates 12:12-14, “And further, by these, my son, be admonished: of making many books there is no end; and much study is a weariness of the flesh. Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man. For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil.”
Men have written many books. Some are good, and some are bad. Some contain much truth, and some contain many lies. There is only one book that we can fully trust — the Bible. Proverbs 30:5,6 says, “Every word of God is pure: he is a shield unto them that put their trust in him. Add thou not unto his words, lest he reprove thee, and thou be found a liar.”
I have a problem with automatically believing these books which seem to discredit all of the major Christian holidays. The Jews had and still have their holidays. God did not rebuke them for having special religious holidays. In fact, God is the one that told them to celebrate certain holidays. The dictionary even defines the word “holiday” by referring to the Jews. A “holiday” is defined as “Holy Day; specifically, a day or series of days observed in Judaism with commemorative ceremonies and practices” (Webster’s Seventh New Collegiate Dictionary).
We read in the Bible about these religious holidays that the Lord commanded Israel to keep, like in Numbers 9:1-5, “And the LORD spake unto Moses in the wilderness of Sinai, in the first month of the second year after they were come out of the land of Egypt, saying, Let the children of Israel also keep the passover at his appointed season. In the fourteenth day of this month, at even, ye shall keep it in his appointed season: according to all the rites of it, and according to all the ceremonies thereof, shall ye keep it. And Moses spake unto the children of Israel, that they should keep the passover. And they kept the passover on the fourteenth day of the first month at even in the wilderness of Sinai: according to all that the LORD commanded Moses, so did the children of Israel.”
There is nothing evil about making a day or set of days special each year commemorating special events that have taken place in our lives, or in the history of the church or of our nation. In the Book of Esther, they were granted a special deliverance from their enemies, and so they made it a special holiday — not just after it happened, but each year thereafter. Esther 9:17-32 says, “On the thirteenth day of the month Adar; and on the fourteenth day of the same rested they, and made it a day of feasting and gladness. But the Jews that were at Shushan assembled together on the thirteenth day thereof, and on the fourteenth thereof; and on the fifteenth day of the same they rested, and made it a day of feasting and gladness. Therefore the Jews of the villages, that dwelt in the unwalled towns, made the fourteenth day of the month Adar a day of gladness and feasting, and a good day, and of sending portions one to another. And Mordecai wrote these things, and sent letters unto all the Jews that were in all the provinces of the king Ahasuerus, both nigh and far, To stablish this among them, that they should keep the fourteenth day of the month Adar, and the fifteenth day of the same, yearly, As the days wherein the Jews rested from their enemies, and the month which was turned unto them from sorrow to joy, and from mourning into a good day: that they should make them days of feasting and joy, and of sending portions one to another, and gifts to the poor. And the Jews undertook to do as they had begun, and as Mordecai had written unto them; Because Haman the son of Hammedatha, the Agagite, the enemy of all the Jews, had devised against the Jews to destroy them, and had cast Pur, that is, the lot, to consume them, and to destroy them; But when Esther came before the king, he commanded by letters that his wicked device, which he devised against the Jews, should return upon his own head, and that he and his sons should be hanged on the gallows. Wherefore they called these days Purim after the name of Pur. Therefore for all the words of this letter, and of that which they had seen concerning this matter, and which had come unto them, The Jews ordained, and took upon them, and upon their seed, and upon all such as joined themselves unto them, so as it should not fail, that they would keep these two days according to their writing, and according to their appointed time every year; And that these days should be remembered and kept throughout every generation, every family, every province, and every city; and that these days of Purim should not fail from among the Jews, nor the memorial of them perish from their seed. Then Esther the queen, the daughter of Abihail, and Mordecai the Jew, wrote with all authority, to confirm this second letter of Purim. And he sent the letters unto all the Jews, to the hundred twenty and seven provinces of the kingdom of Ahasuerus, with words of peace and truth, To confirm these days of Purim in their times appointed, according as Mordecai the Jew and Esther the queen had enjoined them, and as they had decreed for themselves and for their seed, the matters of the fastings and their cry. And the decree of Esther confirmed these matters of Purim; and it was written in the book.”
Books have been written about holidays that seem to make out every “Christian” holiday as being pagan in one fashion or another. If we read those books and believe them, then the holidays of Christmas and Easter will be taken off the calendar for us in a hurry, because some claim that both holidays are pagan in origin. If we believe those books, the very word “holiday” might as well be redefined as “a celebration of secular events,” because that is all that will be left. All of the religious holidays will be taken away as “pagan.” That immediately brings up a red flag to me. It is Satan that wants us to forget all that Christ has done for us.
What does the celebration of Christmas mean to us? It reminds us of the time when Christ was born into this world. He was the Father’s gift to lost and dying mankind. John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.’
The Jews, in the day of Esther, made a holiday out of the victory against their enemies, and sent gifts to one another. Not only that year did they observe that celebration, but commanded that the celebration be kept in future generations as well. “As the days wherein the Jews rested from their enemies, and the month which was turned unto them from sorrow to joy, and from mourning into a good day: that they should make them days of feasting and joy, and of sending portions one to another, and gifts to the poor.”
When I think of what the Jews did in regard to the victory that day, then I certainly have no problem with sending portions to one another yearly in rememberance of the victory the day that Christ was born upon earth. And it was a victory the day that He was born. I John 3:8 says, “He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil.” His birth signaled defeat for the devil, and so the devil tried to kill the new-born Savior. Revelation 12:4,5 says, “…and the dragon stood before the woman which was ready to be delivered, for to devour her child as soon as it was born. And she brought forth a man child, who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron: and her child was caught up unto God, and to his throne.” There was a great unseen battle taking place as the time drew nigh for Jesus to be born. It was a great victory when the child was safely brought to birth.
That verse also brings up the fact of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. “…and her child was caught up unto God, and to his throne.” And that is the other Christian holiday that is commonly attacked as being pagan — Easter. The victory of His birth, and the victory of His death, burial, and resurrection. It is Satan who tried to defeat the Lord at those events, and I am not going to easily give up the days which celebrate those victories of our Savior.
On the other hand, no Christian is under any obligation to keep these holidays. A Christian who chooses to not observe these holidays should not be criticized. Christians are not under any commands to observe any specific Jewish holidays.
Those were all fulfilled in Jesus’ death on the cross, and have thus been blotted out. The Bible says, “Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross; And having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a show of them openly, triumphing over them in it. Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days: Which are a shadow of things to come; but the body is of Christ” (Colossians 2:14-17).
Christians are clearly not under any obligation to observe the sabbath days, or any of the other Jewish days that were considered to be “holy days” (holidays) or “special feasts.” All of those have been blotted out at the cross.
On the other hand, if a Christian wants to set apart a day in a special way for the Lord, then he may do so, and he should not be judged by anyone for doing it. The Bible says, “One man esteemeth one day above another: another esteemeth every day alike. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind. He that regardeth the day, regardeth it unto the Lord; and he that regardeth not the day, to the Lord he doth not regard it. He that eateth, eateth to the Lord, for he giveth God thanks; and he that eateth not, to the Lord he eateth not, and giveth God thanks. For none of us liveth to himself, and no man dieth to himself. For whether we live, we live unto the Lord; and whether we die, we die unto the Lord: whether we live therefore, or die, we are the Lord’s. For to this end Christ both died, and rose, and revived, that he might be Lord both of the dead and living. But why dost thou judge thy brother? or why dost thou set at nought thy brother? for we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ” (Romans 14:5-10).
So if a Christian wants to observe a certain day in commemoration of the Lord’s coming to earth (Christmas), then we have no right to judge him for that. If he wants to observe a certain day in commemoration of Jesus’ resurrection (Easter), then we have no right to judge him for that, either.
If a Christian does not want to observe those days as “holidays,” then he should not be judged by other Christians, either. We are under no specific commands to observe special “holy days” today.
I personally observe both holidays, because I want to set those days apart for the Lord. “He that regardeth the day, regardeth it unto the Lord…” (Romans 14:6). No one forces me to do it. I find great joy in observing these holidays. The pagans cannot take a day and corrupt it to the extent that a Christian cannot get any benefit out of it. It is the same with meat. If a pagan sacrifices some meat to an idol, that does not make the meat poison to the one who serves the true and living God. I Corinthians 8:4-9 says, “As concerning therefore the eating of those things that are offered in sacrifice unto idols, we know that an idol is nothing in the world, and that there is none other God but one. For though there be that are called gods, whether in heaven or in earth, (as there be gods many, and lords many,) But to us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by him. Howbeit there is not in every man that knowledge: for some with conscience of the idol unto this hour eat it as a thing offered unto an idol; and their conscience being weak is defiled. But meat commendeth us not to God: for neither, if we eat, are we the better; neither, if we eat not, are we the worse. But take heed lest by any means this liberty of yours become a stumblingblock to them that are weak.”
So what is the Christian told to do? I Corinthians 10:25-28 says, “Whatsoever is sold in the shambles, that eat, asking no question for conscience sake: For the earth is the Lord’s, and the fulness thereof. If any of them that believe not bid you to a feast, and ye be disposed to go; whatsoever is set before you, eat, asking no question for conscience sake. But if any man say unto you, This is offered in sacrifice unto idols, eat not for his sake that showed it, and for conscience sake: for the earth is the Lord’s, and the fulness thereof:”
The point is this, if you ask questions about everything that you eat or observe, you will probably not be able to eat or observe much of anything in life. Why? Because lost people have a hand in many things, and try and corrupt them in one fashion or another.
By God’s grace, I am not going to live my life by the dictates of the heathen, but by the commands of God. The heathen may try and spoil a day or a date on the calendar, but they do not own the calendar — they do not own the days of their lives or the days of the rest of the world.
God is in control of the calendar, and of each indicidual life. When He speaks the word, the calendar will be over. Revelation 10:5,6 says, “And the angel which I saw stand upon the sea and upon the earth lifted up his hand to heaven, And sware by him that liveth for ever and ever, who created heaven, and the things that therein are, and the earth, and the things that therein are, and the sea, and the things which are therein, that there should be time no longer:”
God is also in control of the days of each individual life. James 4:14 says, “Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.”
If a Christian wants to set apart certain days to remember what the Lord has done for him or her, then that Christian has the right to do so. If a Christian chooses not to celebrate a certain holiday, then that Christian has the perfect right to do so. It is not compromising to use the rights that God has given to you. Whatever we do do, we are told in I Corinthians 10:31, “Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.”