Playmobil nativity
Elderly shepherd, angel with wings, three wise men at the stable? Even my beloved Playmobil has got this all wrong!

Yep, the shepherds are still in their fields (if not arrested first). And it’s about the right time of year for a census* (the harvest season is over so it won’t adversely affect the region’s economy, the weather is still good and the roads are dry enough for easy travel.)

Furthermore, we can calculate John the Baptist’s birth through the timing of his father Zacharias’ term of serving in the temple. Luke 1:36 records that the angel came to Mary when John’s mother Elizabeth was six months pregnant, so Jesus’ birth nine months later would have been in the northern hemisphere’s autumn months.

It’s well documented that the whole December 25 thing was a festival long before the Roman Emperor Constantine I declared pagans and Christians should unite to celebrate the holiday of Saturnalia together.

So 25 December started as a pagan holiday around the solstice, was declared a “Christian” holiday for political reasons and has been successfully marketed as a money-spinner ever since!

In past centuries, prominent Christians have spoken out about the wrong-ness of Christmas Day, but today conservative Christians complain that their holy day (full of pagan symbols) is being hijacked! Does anyone else see the irony?

So if Jesus’ birth isn’t December 25th, and was probably about now, should we celebrate it now?

The Bible never talks about God’s people celebrating their birthdays or their children’s birthdays. Instead, the Bible records the bad things that happened on the birthdays of those non-Jews who were celebrating (Gen. 40:20, Matthew 14:6-11, Mark 6:21-25).

God doesn’t command us to celebrate Christ’s birth. Instead, we are only told to keep the Lord’s supper (which used to be part of a full meal, mind you, but that’s another post) and remember Jesus’ death and resurrection.

Is Christmas a tradition of men that Jesus warned us against? Has the world with its glossy decorations and clever marketing spun you a lie? Search the Scriptures so that you aren’t deceived, and I pray that this post will encourage you to re-think your Christmas in 2009 and the future.

Jesus spoke in Mark 7:6-9:
“‘This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me; in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’
You leave the commandment of God and hold to the tradition of men.”
And he said to them, “You have a fine way of rejecting the commandment of God in order to establish your tradition!

*We can’t find any historical record of the census that took place at Jesus’ birth, but that doesn’t mean it didn’t happen as recorded in the Bible, given that we only have a single reference to another census that historians accept as fact.

The Playmobil picture was taken from here.