Hanukkah: The Light of Rededication

Tonight begins the first night of Hanukkah. Every year, I get quite a few questions about this holiday. “Is it the Jewish Christmas?” “Do you get presents?” “Do you have a Hanukkah tree?” “This is the holiday where you’re fasting, right?” But probably the most frequent, and important, question I get asked is, “What are you celebrating at Hanukkah?”

The short answer to these questions is, no, Hanukkah is not the Jewish Christmas, traditionally there are no presents at Hanukkah, there is no Hanukkah tree, and we don’t fast during Hanukkah.

But the answer to what we’re celebrating at Hanukkah requires more explanation.

While Hanukkah is considered a minor holiday on the Jewish calendar (Yom Kippur, Sukkot and Passover are the major holidays) it is still a very significant and meaningful time for all believers. Hanukkah is the season where we celebrate a military victory of the Maccabees over the Romans and a spiritual victory of YHVH’s way of life over assimilation and a loss of faith.

A Hanukkah History
In 200 BC, Antiochus III the Great of Syria defeated the Egyptian Ptolemaic Kingdom and gained the region of Judea (modern day West Bank area) as part of its kingdom. Antiochus III wanted to make peace within his new kingdom so he allowed the Jews to continue worshipping as they pleased and to live according to Torah.

But in 175 BC, after killing his two nephews who were the legitimate successors of the throne, Antiochus IV Epiphanes took the throne. As a side note, Antiochus IV Epiphanes’ original name was Mithradates. This is important as it connects to the pagan origins of Christmas.

After assuming the throne, rumors spread that he had been killed and in his “death” a revolt was taking place in Jerusalem. In response, he stormed Jerusalem, quelled the revolt, and subsequently killed 40,000 Jews and sold another 40,000 into slavery as recorded by the contemporary historian Josephus and the apocryphal book of 2 Maccabees.

In order to strengthen his hold over the region, he outlawed Jewish traditions and practices and, instead, ordered the worship of Zeus as the supreme god. He then sent his army to enforce this decree. They defiled YHVH’s Holy Temple by dedicating it to Zeus, bringing obelisks and other abominable objects into the Temple, and pouring the blood of slaughtered pigs in the Temple and the Holy of Holies.

According to Josephus, public worship of YHVH, including sacrifices, was shut down for 3½ years because of Antiochus IV’s proclamation.

The Maccabees
After Antiochus Epiphanes’ decree spread, a Jewish priest named Mattathias and his five sons Jochanan, Simeon, Eleazar, Jonathan, and Judah led a rebellion against Antiochus. This rebel group became known as the Maccabees or “hammer” in Hebrew.

The Maccabean revolt began when Antiochus’ army ordered that Mattathias sacrifice a pig on the altar of YHVH. When he refused, a fellow priest stepped forward to sacrifice the pig in hopes the army would then leave them alone. Mattathias, rather than see YHVH’s altar profaned and a priest commit blasphemy, killed the priest and afterwards fled to the wilderness with his sons.

Jewish opinion differs on how long the Maccabean revolt actually lasted. Some believe the revolt lasted 20 years, ending only when the entire Judean region had been reconquered and the Hasmonean Dynasty was established. Most, however, believe the revolt lasted 7 years – starting when the sacrifices were stopped and ending when the city of Jerusalem and the Holy Temple were reclaimed.

Rededication of the Temple of YHVH
After seven years of living in the wilderness, hiding in caves, and engaging in rebel warfare, the Maccabees emerged victorious. They entered Jerusalem with their hearts full of joy, only to find the Temple of YHVH completely defiled.

Pigs had been slaughtered on the altar of YHVH. Pagan asherah poles, obelisks, and dozens of idols had been placed in the Temple. There was fornication and orgies, worship of hundreds of pagan gods, and many more blasphemes that had taken place. In order to restore the ways of YHVH and Temple workings, the Maccabees began the task of cleansing the Temple.

Part of Temple protocol is that the light from the menorah must burn continually. Thus, lighting the menorah was one of the first actions the Maccabees took. According to Rabbinic tradition, the Maccabees could only find enough oil to keep the menorah burning for one day, but miraculously the oil lasted for eight days and they were able to cleanse and rededicate the Temple.

Rededication of Our Temples
As you can see, Hanukkah is indeed a very significant holiday filled with a rich history and spiritual inspiration. Hanukkah is about searching our own hearts and lives and reexamining any areas we may have gotten off the path of God. It is a time for us to rededicate the temple of our lives to YHVH and return to His purpose for our life. In a world that is trying to erase  Judeo-Christian values and redefine what is right and wrong, we need to be like the Maccabees who defended what they knew to be right, no matter the sacrifice.

This Hanukkah, as we light the candles and reflect on our own lives, I pray God would give each of us the courage to stand strong in the face of adversity and would reveal how we too can be a light to the world.

Chag Urim Sameach! Happy Festival of Lights!

The Birth of a Savior: For Unto Us a Son is Given

Many believe the Bible does not say when Yeshua (Jesus) was born and because of this, claim Christmas is as good a time as any to celebrate it. But what if the Bible did spell out when Yeshua was born? What if all it takes is looking at Scripture with an understanding of how YHVH’s system operates, specifically the timeline of His feasts? The following is the Biblical timeline for the birth of our savior.

Let’s read Luke 1 together and I’ll give you some explanation along the way.

There was in the days of Herodes, the sovereign of Judah, a certain priest named Zechariah, of the division of Abijah. And his wife was of the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elizabeth. And it came to be, that while he was serving as priest before Elohim in the order of his division, according to the institute of the priesthood, he was chosen by lot to burn incense when he went into the Dwelling Place of YHVH.    Luke 1:5, 8-9

Often times, we gloss right over some very important pieces of information that are critical to our understanding of the Bible simply because we don’t understand its importance! Here, we see that Zechariah is a priest of YHVH in the division of Abijah. According to the pattern that David established through his son Solomon, the priesthood of YHVH was divided into 24 divisions. Each division would come to serve YHVH in the Temple one week twice a year. There were also three times a year when all 24 divisions would serve together because YHVH commanded that on these feasts, all of Israel would gather together: Passover, Shavuot, and Sukkot.

There were always priests serving in the Temple because there were continual sacrifices offered to YHVH. Therefore, if each division served two weeks out of the year and there were three weeks that all the priests served together, the entire year was covered (24 x 2 + 3 = ~ 51 weeks). The Biblical calendar, which is centered around the moon not the sun as is our Gregorian calendar, is approximately 11 days shorter than our sun-centered calendars of today. Therefore, this 24 division setup allowed for the Temple service cycle to start with division 1 every single time a Biblical new year began.

1 Chronicles 24 tells us when each of these 24 divisions would serve in the Temple.

And David, with Zadok of the sons of Eleazar, and Aḥimelech of the sons of Ithamar, divided them according to their offices in their service. And there were more leaders found of the sons of Eleazar than of the sons of Ithamar. So they divided the sons of Eleazar into sixteen heads of their fathers’ houses, and the sons of Ithamar into eight heads of their fathers’ houses. And they were divided by lot, one group as another, for there were officials of the set-apart place and officials of Elohim, from the sons of Eleazar and from the sons of Ithamar…the seventh [lot] to Hakkoz, the eighth to Abijah, the ninth to Yeshua, the tenth to Shecaniah. 1 Chronicles 24:3-5,10

This scripture tells us that Zechariah was in the 8th division of the priesthood and would come to serve in the Temple the 8th week of the year. An interesting side note, is that the division of Yeshua would have immediately followed Zechariah’s division in the Temple service. Leviticus 23:5 tells us that Passover occurs in the second week of the first month and verses 15-16 tell us that Shavuot is 7 weeks after Passover. Therefore, the 9th week of the year would be the approximate time of Shavuot (Pentecost) every year. This means that Zechariah would have to work two weeks in a row every year because of his Temple division coinciding with the requirement for all Israel to be in Jerusalem for Shavuot.

Going back to Luke 1:8-9, we see that Zechariah was serving in the Temple and was chosen by the casting of lots to bring incense to the altar of incense. This was a very special job because whoever brought the incense to the altar was allowed to make one personal request of God that was guaranteed to be granted. However, once a priest was given this privilege, he could never have this job again. We see from Luke 1: 13 that Zechariah’s one request was for his barren wife, Elizabeth, to have a child.

But the messenger said to him, “Do not be afraid, Zechariah, for your prayer is heard. And your wife Elizabeth shall bear you a son, and you shall call his name John.

Luke 1:23-25 tells us that after his time serving in the Temple, Zechariah went home and Elizabeth conceived.

And it came to be, as soon as the days of his service were completed, he went away to his house. And after those days his wife Elizabeth conceived. And she hid herself five months, saying, “YHVH has done this for me, in the days when He looked upon me, to take away my reproach among men.”

Shavuot occurs roughly about the May/June time every year on our calendars. This means that by the time Zechariah finished his division’s Temple service and made the journey home, several weeks had already passed and it was roughly July/August time when Zechariah returned home and John was conceived.

And the messenger answering, said to her, “The Set-apart Spirit shall come upon you, and the power of the Most High shall overshadow you. And for that reason the Set-apart One born of you shall be called: Son of Elohim.

“And see, Elizabeth your relative, she has also conceived a son in her old age. And this is now the sixth month to her who was called barren, And Mary said, “See the female servant of YHVH! Let it be to me according to your word.” And the messenger went away from her.

And Mary arose in those days and went into the hill country with haste, to a city of Judah, and entered into the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. And Mary stayed with her about three months, and returned to her home. And the time was filled for Elizabeth to give birth, and she bore a son. Luke 1:35-40, 56-57

These above verses tell us that Mary was visited by the angel Gabriel in Elizabeth’s sixth month of pregnancy. Remember, Elizabeth became pregnant roughly in July/August; six months later would be roughly December/January right around the time of Hanukkah — the Feast of Dedication and Lights. What a perfect time for the Light of the World and the Son of God to be conceived!

We then see that Mary stayed with Elizabeth and Zechariah three months and then went home. After this, Elizabeth gave birth to John. If Elizabeth conceived around the time of June/July, then nine months later would be approximately March/April – right around the time of Passover.

Now let’s read the story of the birth of Yeshua from Luke 2.

And it came to be in those days that a decree went out from Caesar Augustus for all the world to be registered. This took place as a first registration while Quirinius was governing Syria. And all were going to be registered, each one to his own city.

And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth to Judah, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, who was engaged to him – being pregnant. And it came to be, that while they were there, the days were filled for her to give birth. And she gave birth to her first-born Son, and wrapped Him up, and laid Him down in a feeding trough, because there was no room for them in a lodging place.

And in the same country there were shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. And look, a messenger of YHVH stood before them, and the esteem of YHVH shone around them, and they were greatly afraid. And the messenger said to them, “Do not be afraid, for look, I bring you good news of great joy which shall be to all people. “Because there was born to you today in the city of David a Savior, who is Messiah, the Master. “And this is the sign to you: You shall find a baby wrapped up, lying in a feeding trough.”

And suddenly there was with the messenger a crowd of the heavenly host praising Elohim and saying, “Esteem to Elohim in the highest, and on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased!”

And it came to be, when the messengers had gone away from them into the heaven, that the shepherds said to each other, “Indeed, let us go to Bethlehem and see this matter that has taken place, which the Master has made known to us.”

And they came in haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a feeding trough. And having seen, they made known the matter which was spoken to them concerning the child. And all those who heard marveled at what the shepherds said to them. But Mary kept all these matters, considering them in her heart. And the shepherds returned, boasting and praising Elohim for all they had heard and seen, as it was spoken to them.

And when eight days were completed for Him to be circumcised, His Name was called Yeshua, the Name given by the messenger before He was conceived in the womb. And when the days of her cleansing according to the Torah of Moses were completed, they brought Him to Jerusalem to present Him to YHVH – as it has been written in the Torah of YHVH, “Every male who opens the womb shall be called set-apart to YHVH” and to give an offering according to what is said in the Torah of YHVH, “A pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons.”

And see, there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon, and this man was righteous and dedicated, looking for the comforting of Israel. And the Set-apart Spirit was upon him. And it had been revealed to him by the Set-apart Spirit that he would not see death before he sees the Messiah of YHVH. And he came in the Spirit into the Set-apart Place. And as the parents brought in the Child Yeshua, to do for Him according to the usual practice of the Torah, then he took Him up in his arms and blessed Elohim and said, “Now let Your servant go in peace, O Master, according to Your word, for my eyes have seen Your deliverance, which You have prepared before the face of all the peoples, a light for the unveiling of the gentiles, and the esteem of Your people Israel.”

And Joseph and His mother were marveling at what was said about Him.

And Simeon blessed them, and said to Mary His mother, “See, this One is set for a fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign spoken against – and a sword shall pierce through your own being also – so as to reveal the thoughts of many hearts.”

And there was Ḥannah, a prophetess, a daughter of Penuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was advanced in years, and had lived with a husband seven years from her maidenhood, and she was a widow of about eighty-four years, who did not leave the Set-apart Place, but served Elohim with fastings and prayers night and day. And she, coming in at that moment, gave thanks to YHVH, and spoke of Him to all who were waiting for redemption in Jerusalem.

And when they had accomplished all matters according to the Torah of YHVH, they returned to Galilee, to their city Nazareth. And the Child grew and became strong in spirit, being filled with wisdom. And the favor of Elohim was upon Him.

And His parents went to Jerusalem every year at the Festival of the Passover. And when He was twelve years old, they went up to Jerusalem according to the practice of the festival. Luke 2:1-42

These verses are very informative in terms of what the details reveal. For instance, look at how many times the author specifically mentions that Joseph and Mary raised Yeshua according to YHVH’s Torah. They were completely obedient. They did not take part in the mixed worship that some of the other Hellenized Jews had adopted at this time. They remained completely set-apart and holy to YHVH.

Next, let’s talk about the shepherds. Not in Biblical days and not today do shepherds watch over their field by night in the dead of winter! Going back to what we have already learned about Mary’s pregnancy, we know that Mary conceived at Hanukkah (December/January time). Meaning that nine months from then would be September/October – the time of YHVH’s feast of Sukkot!

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with Elohim, and the Word was Elohim. He was in the beginning with Elohim. All came to be through Him, and without Him not even one came to be that came to be.

In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. There was a man sent from Elohim, whose name was John. This one came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all might believe through him. He was not that Light, but that he might bear witness of that Light. He was the true Light, which enlightens every man, coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world came to be through Him, and the world did not know Him. He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him.

But as many as received Him, to them He gave the authority to become children of Elohim, to those believing in His Name, who were born, not of blood nor of the desire of flesh nor of the desire of man, but of Elohim. And the Word became flesh and pitched His tent among us, and we saw His esteem, esteem as of an only brought-forth of a father, complete in favor and truth. John 1:1-14

These verses tell us that not only were the births and lives of John and Yeshua intertwined from the beginning, but that Yeshua “pitched His tent among us.” Some versions will say “He tabernacled among us.” The word “Sukkot” means tabernacle. It’s the time of year where people build sukkahs or tents/temporary dwellings and live in them for a week to remember how YHVH brought the children of Israel out of Egypt and delivered them from their bondage. This wording did not happen by chance or coincidence. It is a reference to the lost sheep of Israel (who understand His Torah) that Yeshua came to us at Sukkot.

Something else that both Luke 2 and John 1 have in common are two characteristics given to Yeshua. He is called both a Light and a Divider.

…a light for the unveiling of the gentiles, and the esteem of Your people Israel…And Simeon blessed them, and said to Mary His mother, “See, this One is set for a fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign spoken against – and a sword shall pierce through your own being also – so as to reveal the thoughts of many hearts.” Luke 2:32,34-35

He was in the world, and the world came to be through Him, and the world did not know Him. He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him. John 1:10-11

Yeshua is and always has been the Light to those who seek Him and His truth; but He has also been a Divider which tests the hearts of man in order to separate the sheep from the goats.

There are a lot of Christians who, when presented with the facts about the pagan origins of Christmas, say that they are not celebrating Christmas with this intent but, rather, they are celebrating Christmas as the birth of the Savior. They go on to say that since the Bible doesn’t specifically say when exactly Jesus was born why not just celebrate it at Christmas.

But if, after the presentation of the facts, you still won’t change your mind about Christmas then perhaps you should reevaluate why you really celebrate Christmas. Is it really to honor our savior or is it to make yourself feel good? God specifically spells out how much He hates the ways of the nations of the world and goes to great lengths to warn His chosen people against following these ways. Why then, after learning the truth about these abominable traditions that have been passed down and seeing Scriptural evidence that our Savior was not born at Christmas, would you continue to celebrate it? Is it because of the happy, jolly way it makes you feel? Is it that warm, fuzzy feeling you get this time of year? What is more important? The way you feel or the way He feels?

“For unto us a child is born; a son is given.” He gave His very life in spite of His own desires in order to do His Father’s work and save us all from sin. Why then do we insist on corrupting His Holy life with our pagan practices? Why do we insist on putting ourselves and our wants and our desires and what makes us feel good ahead of our Heavenly Father? That is idol worship in its truest, most basic form.

But as many as received Him, to them He gave the authority to become children of Elohim, to those believing in His Name, who were born, not of blood nor of the desire of flesh nor of the desire of man, but of Elohim. John 1:12-13

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and forevermore. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this. Isaiah 9:6-7

The Real War on Christmas

Every year right around the time Pumpkin Spice lattes make their return and the leaves start changing colors, we start to hear about how the “war on Christmas” is happening yet again. This year there was a huge fuss from many Christians about Starbucks’ decision to have solid red cups instead of their usual cups depicting scenes of winter and how this was somehow the height of the war on Christmas. The funny thing is, the original cups didn’t actually depict “Christian” or religious scenes. Instead they were pictures of snowflakes and kids sledding and playing in the snow.

I’ve also heard of nativity scenes being banned from public property because of the separation of Church and State and how it’s politically incorrect to say “Merry Christmas” and we should all just say “Happy Holidays” instead. To be honest, I don’t have a problem with the checkout lady at the grocery store wishing me a Merry Christmas because, really, how is she supposed to know I don’t celebrate Christmas? And the nativity scene? I mean, c’mon, people. Get a grip! If you don’t want to look at it, then don’t! Look away. Or act like the mature adult you pretend to be and get over it!

But what I do have a problem with is how in the midst of the “war on Christmas,” the battle cry of the religious is “Jesus is the reason for the season” or “put Christ back in Christmas.” But this simply is not possible.

Christ was never in Christmas. Jesus is not the real reason for the season.

We have taken our Holy Savior and transplanted Him into the abominable practices He hates and detests; we do the very things He abhors in an attempt to worship Him. But even worse, we have believed the lie that He is pleased with this.

We say we want to “put Christ back in Christmas” and that “Jesus is the reason for the season” but the truth is that we cannot take the abominable practices God warned us against and make them something holy. God will never take the abominable practices of idolatry and make them into something holy and pleasing to Him. That’s not how He works. YHVH has never instructed us that these pagan practices were “redeemed” in any way because He has His own ways and Holy days that He established from the beginning of time — and they are found in His Torah. Unfortunately, we have also believed the lie that His Instructions do not apply to us.

However, if we truly want to celebrate the birth of the Messiah as the reason for Christmas, then perhaps the biggest “war on Christmas” is actually Christmas itself.

The First Christmas
Today Christmas is celebrated around the world by Christian and non-Christian alike. Universally, however, it is known as the time to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. Families come together. Gifts are given. People are full of the Christmas spirit. It can be a very happy and wonderful time of the year. But that’s not what Christmas always was. As we explore the origins of many of our modern Christmas and Easter traditions, the connection to the pagan practices which God calls an abomination become undeniable.Nimrod in the Vatican

According to the Bible in Genesis 10, Nimrod was the great-grandson of Noah and was called a “mighty hunter before YHVH” and a “mighty one” (a god). In fact, the Vatican proudly displays a statue of Nimrod the great hunter.

The Bible goes on to tell us that Nimrod built the Tower of Babel and that he went to Assyria and founded Nineveh and Babylon. As a reference point, today Assyria would be found in parts of Iran, Syria, Iraq, and Turkey. Nineveh is the modern day city of Mosul in Iraq. It is the oldest and most populated city of the ancient Assyrian Empire. This area has been in the news quite a bit since ISIS invaded Northern Iraq and took complete control of Mosul and other cities as part of their strategy to control the Levant area.

Legend has it that Nimrod married Semiramis, who also went by Isis, Astarte, Ishtar, Aphrodite, Venus, Diana, Asherah or Easter depending on which region of the world you were from. She was often called “the mother of god” and “the queen of heaven.” I will be referring to her as Ishtar for the rest of this article.

After Nimrod was murdered, Ishtar had to find a way to maintain her position as Queen of Babylon…so she concocted a story. After consulting her astrologers, she told the people that after dying at the winter solstice, Nimrod would come back to life again at the time of the spring equinox because he had risen to the sun and was now the sun god Ba’al, meaning “lord” or “husband.”

Ishtar also told the people that she had become the goddess of the moon and sky and that Nimrod had impregnated her through his sun rays and had reincarnated himself as her newborn son Tammuz. Ishtar later married her son Tammuz.

Tammuz was later killed by a wild pig and Ishtar told the people that he had ascended to his father, the sun. Ishtar also claimed that some of his blood had fallen on the stump of an evergreen tree and the stump had grown into a full, new tree overnight. This made the evergreen tree sacred in Babylonian worship.

Ishtar proclaimed that a period of mourning for Tammuz must now occur before the anniversary of his death every year. During this time of mourning, people were to refrain from eating meat, meditate on the mysteries of Baal/Nimrod and Tammuz (the father and son), make the “t” sign of Tammuz in front of their hearts as they worshiped, and they were also to make sacred cakes with the “t” on top. The “t” sign of Tammuz eventually evolved into a cross-like symbol. The aforementioned sacred cakes were the original hot cross buns that are now eaten on Good Friday to mark the end of Lent.

In order to bring Tammuz back from the dead, legend says that Ishtar descended into the underworld and had to pass through the seven gates of Hades. At each gate, Ishtar had to remove one symbol of her power, either clothes or jewelry, until she stood at the last gate completely naked. Once the Queen of Heaven humbled herself before her sister, the Queen of Hades, she was plagued over her entire body. She was then sent back through the gates of Hades, picking up her removed items along the way. The Queen of Hades then told Ishtar that she has succeeded in ransoming her husband/son and that Tammuz could return for six months out of the year to earth but then he must return to Hades for the remaining six months.

Every year, on the first Sunday (sun worship) after the first full moon of the spring equinox, a celebration was made to celebrate Tammuz’s resurrection or rebirth. At this celebration, a pig was eaten to remind them of the pig that had killed Tammuz. The death of Tammuz is usually commemorated at the time of his birth – the winter solstice.

Ezekiel 8 speaks of how Ezekiel was taken to the Temple in Jerusalem and shown the abominations being committed in YHVH’s Holy Temple. One of those abominations is the women “weeping for Tammuz” in Ezekiel 8:14.

And He brought me to the door of the north gate of the House of YHVH, and I saw women sitting there, weeping for TammuzThen He said to me, “Have you seen this, O son of man? You are to see still greater abominations than these.” And He brought me into the inner court of the House of YHVH. And there, at the door of the Temple of YHVH, between the porch and the altar, were about twenty-five men with their backs toward the Temple of YHVH and their faces toward the east, and they were bowing themselves eastward to the sun. And He said to me, “Have you seen, O son of man? Is it a small matter to the house of Judah to do the abominations which they have done here? For they have filled the land with violence, and turn back to provoke Me. And see, they are putting the branch to My nose. Therefore I shall indeed deal in wrath. My eye shall not pardon nor would I spare. And they shall cry in My ears with a loud voice, but I shall not hear them.” – Exekiel 9:14-18

Christmas Trees
Trees and branches became the symbols of Nimrod. Legend has it that when Nimrod was “cut down” or murdered by his enemy, his body was cut into pieces and were sent to different parts of the Babylonian kingdom. The only part of his body which was never found was his penis. So Ishtar did what any loving wife would do and she decided to memorialize his penis by erecting a giant image of it in the shape we now know as an obelisk.

The stump of the evergreen tree, with a snake wrapped around it, Nimrods Treecame to represent Nimrod because he had been “cut down” like a tree. Every year around December 21 on the birthday of Tammuz (Nimrod reincarnated), Ishtar instructed the people that they should go into the forest (the Bible uses the word “groves”) and offer a present to an evergreen tree. They were also instructed to cut down a tree, take it into their homes, and decorate it with gold and silver balls which symbolized Nimrod’s testicles.

The modern day Christmas tree, complete with garland and balls, is a modern depiction of the snake wrapped around the stump and male testicles while the tree itself is a representation of Nimrod’s genitalia. It is not just a pretty decoration for our homes at Christmas time. At its very core the Christmas tree is a pagan sign of idolatry. It is an image that was worshipped and is an abomination to the One True God which we continue to bring into our homes every year.

Why would you want that in your home?

Take a moment to really think about it. What does a Christmas tree have to do with the birth of the Messiah? How does it logically fit into His story? How does it line up with what God tells us in the Bible about bringing these trees into our homes? It just doesn’t fit. It does not line up with the Word of God.

Hear the word which YHVH speaks to you, O house of Israel. Thus said YHVH, “Do not learn the way of the gentiles [pagan nations], and do not be awed by the signs of the heavens, for the gentiles are awed by them. For the prescribed customs of these peoples are worthless, for one cuts a tree from the forest, work for the hands of a craftsman with a cutting tool. They adorn it with silver and gold, they fasten it with nails and hammers so that it does not topple. They are like a rounded post, and they do not speak. They have to be carried, because they do not walk. Do not be afraid of them, for they do no evil, nor is it in them to do any good. There is none like You, O YHVH. You are great, and great is Your Name in might. Who would not fear You, O Sovereign of the nations? For this is Your due, for among all the wise men of the nations, and in all their reigns, there is none like You. They are both brutish and foolish, an instruction of worthlessness is the tree. Silver is beaten into plates; it is brought from Tarshish [in Spain], and gold from Uphaz, the work of the craftsman and of the hands of the smith; draped in blue and purple; all of them are the work of skilled ones. But YHVH is truly Elohim. He is the living Elohim and the everlasting Sovereign.  – Jeremiah 10:1-10

Saturnalia
Until the 4th Century AD, the feast we now know as “Christmas” was celebrated as Saturnalia. It was an ancient Roman festival held on the 17th of December through the 23rd of December to honor the Roman god Saturn or Satur. He is the half-man, half-goat god that was associated with the god Pan, the god of confusion (where we get pandemonium, pandemic, panic, etc.) and thought to be an early depiction of Satan.

Saturn went by many different names in the different regions of the world. Some of the names he is called are Mithra, Krishna (Vishnu), Osiris, Horus, Hercules, Tammuz (Nimrod), Indra, Budda, and Iesus (which later developed into the name “Jesus”).

I would like to point out that no matter which name we use, whether it’s Saturn, Tammuz, Nimrod, Mithra, Pan, Osiris, etc., it’s all the same name for referring to Satan. Satan doesn’t care what name you call him by just as long as you turn your back on the things of God. Compare this to YHVH who does have a very specific way of doing things and does care what name you call Him. There are many roads that lead to death, but only One that leads to life.

Saturn was the Roman god of agriculture who is said to have reigned the world during the Golden Age in which humans enjoyed the bounties of the earth without having to labor for them while they lived in a state of social egalitarianism, or complete equality with one another. The implication here is that there was peace on earth and good will towards all men.

Saturnalia was also described as a festival of light leading into the winter solstice, characterized by abundant candles to symbolize one’s quest for knowledge and truth.

After the public observances of Saturnalia took place, including public sacrifice (of both animals and humans), ceremonies in honor of Saturn, that often included much drinking and revelry, would continue in people’s homes. People would carry on with their drinking and carousing and the wealthier would sacrifice and subsequently eat a suckling pig as an offering to Saturn.

Saturnalia was also a time characterized by role reversal and the freedom for one to disrespect their masters. It was a time where social norms and hierarchies were disregarded and people acted with little regard to one another. Essentially, it was a time of chaos and confusion mixed in with some gift-giving for good measure. This was the precursor to Topsy Turvy Day and the medieval Feast of Fools.

Following Saturnalia, the renewal of light and the coming of the new year was celebrated at dies natalis sol invictus, the “Birthday of the Unconquerable Sun,” on December 25.

Sol Invictus
During Sol Invictus, each Roman community selected a victim whom they forced to indulge in food and other physical pleasures (food, sex, drink, etc.) throughout the week. At the festival’s conclusion on December 25th, Roman authorities believed they were destroying the forces of darkness (now embodied in the victim) by brutally murdering this innocent man or woman and thereby ensuring the gods’ blessing for the coming year’s crops.

In his dialogue entitled “Saturnalia,” the ancient Greek writer, poet and historian Lucian describes how the festival was observed in his time. In addition to human sacrifice, he mentions these customs: widespread intoxication, going from house to house while singing naked (a precursor of modern caroling), rape and other sexual unrestraint, and the consumption of human-shaped biscuits (we call them gingerbread men) in order to mimic human sacrifice.

The Encyclopedia Britannica volume 24 page 231 also tells us that people would give each other gifts, primarily to the children, in the form of dolls which was another representation of human sacrifice to their gods.

They celebrated what they believed was the sun’s return by having orgies, human and animal sacrifices and eating blood pudding which we call Christmas Pudding today.

The festival was characterized by gift-giving, feasting, singing and debauchery, as the priests of Saturn carried wreaths of evergreen boughs in procession throughout the Roman temples. People decorated their homes with green branches, evergreen wreaths, incense, candles, and religious figurines and gave them as gifts to one another. People everywhere stopped work to join in the celebration.

In the 4th Century AD, Emperor Constantine incorporated Saturnalia into his new religion of Christianity and called the new mixed holiday “Christmas.” No such festival acceptable to God exists in the Bible.

Putting Christ Back in Christmas
I know that many of us have been taught that God redeemed these pagan rituals or that since we didn’t know about the pagan roots its ok to continue celebrating them. But the truth is, it’s not. I’ve even heard some people say that the Church didn’t know about these pagan roots or that they didn’t intend to partake in evil practices but there is clear evidence to the contrary. There is substantial evidence that the Church not only knew about these pagan roots but purposely embraced them in order to keep the peace between the different religious groups.

I hope you understand that, even though we have been taught to celebrate Christmas in order to celebrate the birth of our Savior, YHVH never intended us to celebrate Christmas or take part in any of these pagan rituals and celebrations.

Now hear me on this point, I am by no means saying that our Savior did not die on the cross for our sins or that we should not celebrate His birth or resurrection. I am simply trying to say that the way we celebrate these Holy things and the time of year in which we celebrate them is wrong.

I know how hard learning these facts can be. To be honest, there are parts of Christmas that I used to truly enjoy and that I honestly miss. But for me, the most significant action I can take to truly love and worship the One True God is to fully obey Him. It’s not about me or what I want. It’s about Him. Pleasing Him is so much more important than decorating my house, getting presents, listening to Christmas music or doing things that make me feel good. He is the reason for every season and if we truly believe that then our focus should be on obedience to Him and His Word.

So this Christmas season, remember the real reason for the season and take Christ out of Christmas because Christmas is the real war on our Savior.

Hanukkah: A Line in the Sand

With Hanukkah just a few days away, I couldn’t help but notice some striking similarities between the Maccabees of yesteryear and what we see happening today. The world was shocked a mere three weeks ago with the attacks in Paris where members of ISIS went on a rampage murdering more than 130 innocent people. Even more recently, Americans were again attacked in San Bernardino where 14 people were murdered by Muslim terrorists who had ties to ISIS. What’s even more sad and frustrating is that the attack in San Bernardino could have been prevented.

A neighbor of the terrorists is now coming forward saying that for the past several months he had noticed strange activity at the house but didn’t come forward for fear of retaliation and being accused of racial profiling. He observed packages being delivered in the middle of the night, people coming and going from the house, and several Middle Eastern men moving into the house.

This neighbor was more afraid of offending people and of being politically correct than of stopping evil and saving the lives of 14 murdered people. All it would have taken to possibly avert these terrorists would have been for people to step up and not be afraid to call evil, evil.

But instead, we’re all too afraid of being politically incorrect and offending people that we don’t know right from wrong anymore!

The Maccabees faced a similar situation when the Greeks invaded the Judean region and told the Jews they could no longer worship YHVH.

A Hanukkah History: Antiochus IV Epiphanes
In 200 BC, Antiochus III the Great of Syria defeated the Egyptian Ptolemaic Kingdom and gained the region of Judea as part of its kingdom. Antiochus III wanted to make peace within his new kingdom so he allowed the Jews to continue worshiping as they pleased and to live a life according to Torah.

But in 175 BC, after killing his two nephews who were the legitimate successors of the throne, Antiochus IV Epiphanes took the throne. Antiochus IV Epiphanes’s original name was Mithradates. This is important because if you’ve read my post about the pagan origins of Christmas, you know the name Mithra was another name for Tammuz/Nimrod. Some other names used for him — depending on what region of the world you were from — were Saturn, Krishna (Vishnu), Osiris, Horus, Hercules, Indra, Budda, and Iesus (which later developed into the name “Jesus”). Essentially, Antiochus IV Epiphanes was named after the pagan sun god who was born on December 25, died at the winter solstice (Dec 21) and rose again at the spring equinox.

After assuming the throne, he caught wind of rumors saying he had been killed and a subsequent revolt that was taking place in Jerusalem. He then stormed Jerusalem, quelled the revolt, and subsequently killed 40,000 Jews and sold another 40,000 into slavery as recorded in 2 Maccabees and Josephus’ Antiquities of the Jews: Book XII.

In order to strengthen his hold over this region, Antiochus outlawed Jewish traditions and practices and, instead, ordered the worship of Zeus as the supreme god. He then sent his army to enforce this decree. His army profaned YHVH’s Holy Temple by dedicating it to Zeus, bringing obelisks and other abominable objects into the Temple, and pouring the blood of slaughtered pigs in the Temple and the Holy of Holies. According to Josephus, public worship of YHVH, including sacrifices, were shut down for 3½ years because of Antiochus IV’s proclamation.

Given what you just read about Antiochus IV, I hope you recognize him as a type and shadow of the anti-Messiah spoken about in Revelation.

The Maccabees
After Antiochus Epiphanes’ decree spread, a Jewish priest named Mattathias and his five sons Jochanan, Simeon, Eleazar, Jonathan, and Judah led a rebellion against Antiochus. This rebel group became known as the Maccabees or “hammer” in Hebrew.

The Maccabean revolt began when Antiochus’ army ordered that Mattathias sacrifice a pig on the altar of YHVH. When he refused, a fellow priest stepped forward to sacrifice the pig in hopes that the army would then leave them alone. Mattathias, rather than see YHVH’s altar profaned and a priest commit blasphemy, killed the priest and afterwards fled into the wilderness with his sons.

There are conflicting dates given for how long the Maccabean revolt actually lasted. Some believe the revolt lasted 20 years, ending only when the entire Judean region had been reconquered and the Hasmonean Dynasty was established. Others, however, believe the revolt lasted 7 years – the first 3½ years being when the sacrifices were stopped and ending when the city of Jerusalem and the Holy Temple were reclaimed. Hopefully the 7 year timeline is ringing some bells for you.

Rededication of the Temple of YHVH
After several years of living in the wilderness, hiding in caves, and engaging in rebel warfare, the Maccabees emerged victorious. They entered Jerusalem with their hearts full of joy, only to find the Temple of YHVH completely and utterly desecrated.

Pigs had been slaughtered on the altar of YHVH. Pagan asherah poles, obelisks, and a drove of statues had been placed in the Temple. There was fornication and orgies, hundreds of pagan gods being worshiped, and many more blasphemies that had taken place. So in order to restore that ways of YHVH and Temple workings, the Maccabees began the cleansing of the Temple.

Part of Temple protocol is that the light from the menorah must burn continually. Thus, lighting the menorah was one of the first actions the Maccabees took. According to Rabbinic tradition, the Maccabees could only find enough oil to keep the menorah burning for one day, but miraculously the oil lasted for eight days and they were able to cleanse and rededicate the Temple.

A Line in the Sand
I’d like to point out that the miracle of the oil lasting for eight days is part of Rabbinic tradition and not necessarily historical fact. Personally, I think Rabbinic tradition has downplayed the Maccabean revolts and focused on the oil in order to downplay their roots in mixing pagan and holy traditions.

An interesting fact about the Maccabean Revolt: it began as a campaign against other Jews. It began as a reaction to and means of stopping the Hellenization of the Jews that was taking place.

Remember the priest killed by Mattathias which essentially started the entire revolt? He was the embodiment of what was happening at the time — and is still going on today. The vast majority of Jews were content to accept the mixing of the Greek (i.e. pagan or Hellenistic) system with the ways of YHVH as prescribed in the Torah. They didn’t want to offend anyone and they wanted to appease these foreigners in order to keep the peace. That priest was willing to sacrifice a pig, something completely forbidden by YHVH, in order to have “peace” with the nations of the world and to save himself.

Today, things are not much different.

We live in a world where people are afraid to call wrong, wrong. We live in a world where people are afraid to do the right thing because of the vocal few. We are afraid to have beliefs that differ from someone else for fear of offending. We’re afraid to stand for what we believe in for fear of criticism. We are faced with the decision to do what is right or to do what is popular. We can stand for truth or we can stay silent for evil.

I believe that the lives of people like the Maccabees aren’t meant to be simply stories for us. They are meant to be warnings and signals for us. The Word of God tells us that there is nothing new under the sun. The battle for truth and holiness has been fought before, is being fought today, and will be fought in the future. I believe YHVH is drawing a line in the sand between His ways and our ways. The decision each of us has to make for ourselves is on which side of the line we will stand.

We each have a choice to make. Will we stand for His ways? Or will we continue to hold onto our own ways?

The king’s commissioners who were enforcing the apostasy came to the town of Modein for the sacrifices. Many Israelites gathered round them, but Mattathias and his sons drew apart.
The king’s commissioners then addressed Mattathias as follows, ‘You are a respected leader, a great man in this town; you have sons and brothers to support you. Be the first to step forward and conform to the king’s decree, as all the nations have done, and the leaders of Judah and the survivors in Jerusalem; you and your sons shall be reckoned among the Friends of the King, you and your sons will be honoured with gold and silver and many presents.’
Raising his voice, Mattathias retorted, ‘Even if every nation living in the king’s dominions obeys him, each forsaking its ancestral religion to conform to his decrees, I, my sons and my brothers will still follow the covenant of our ancestors. May Heaven preserve us from forsaking the Law and its observances.
As for the king’s orders, we will not follow them: we shall not swerve from our own religion either to right or to left.’ — 1 Maccabees 2:15-22

Hanukkah: As For Me and My House, We Will Serve YHVH

So if you read my post about not being so easily offended by the greetings “Merry Christmas” or “Happy Holidays,” then you now know that I do not celebrate Christmas. I do, however, celebrate Hanukkah. I’ve had many people ask me why I celebrate Hanukkah and not Christmas. I think the best way to explain would be tell you what Hanukkah is really all about.

A Hanukkah History/Antiochus IV Epiphanes
In 200 BC, Antiochus III the Great of Syria defeated the Egyptian Ptolemaic Kingdom and gained the region of Judea as part of its kingdom. Antiochus III wanted to make peace within his new kingdom so he allowed the Jews to continue worshipping as the pleased and to live a life according to Torah.

But in 175 BC, after killing his two nephews who were the legitimate successors of the throne, Antiochus IV Epiphanes took the throne. Antiochus IV Epiphanes’s original name was Mithradates. This is important because if you’ve read my post about the pagan origins of Christmas, you know the name Mithra was another alias that Tammuz/Nimrod went by. Some other names used for him were Saturn, Krishna (Vishnu), Osiris, Horus, Hercules, Indra, Budda, and Iesus (which later developed into the name “Jesus”). Essentially, Antiochus IV Epiphanes was named after the pagan sun god who was born on December 25, died at the winter solstice (Dec 21) and rose again at the spring equinox.

After assuming the throne, he caught wind of rumors that he had been killed and a subsequent revolt was taking place in Jerusalem. He then stormed Jerusalem, quelled the revolt, and subsequently killed 40,000 Jews and sold another 40,000 into slavery as recorded in 2 Maccabees and Josephus.

In order to strengthen his hold over this region, he outlawed Jewish traditions and practices and, instead, ordered the worship of Zeus as the supreme god. He then sent his army to enforce this decree. They profaned YHVH’s Holy Temple by dedicating it to Zeus, bringing obelisks and other abominable objects into the Temple, and pouring the blood of slaughtered pigs in the Temple and the Holy of Holies. According to Josephus, public worship of YHVH, including sacrifices, was shut down for 3½ years because of Antiochus IV’s proclamation.

Given what you just read about Antiochus IV, I hope you recognize him as a type and shadow of the anti-Messiah in spoken about in Revelation.

The Maccabees
After Antiochus Epiphanes’ decree spread, a Jewish priest named Mattathias and his five sons Jochanan, Simeon, Eleazar, Jonathan, and Judah led a rebellion against Antiochus. This rebel group became known as the Maccabees or “hammer” in Hebrew.

The Maccabean revolt began when Antiochus’ army ordered that Mattathias sacrifice a pig on the altar of YHVH. When he refused, a fellow priest stepped forward to sacrifice the pig in hopes that the army would then leave them alone. Mattathias, rather than see YHVH’s altar profaned and a priest commit blasphemy, killed the priest and afterwards fled to the wilderness with his sons.

There are conflicting dates given for how long the Maccabean revolt actually lasted. Some believe the revolt lasted 20 years, ending only when the entire Judean region had been reconquered and the Hasmonean Dynasty was established. Others, however, believe the revolt lasted 7 years – the first 3 ½ years being when the sacrifices were stopped and ending when the city of Jerusalem and the Holy Temple were reclaimed. Hopefully this all sounds familiar to you.

Rededication of the Temple of YHVH
After several years of living in the wilderness, hiding in caves, and engaging in rebel warfare, the Maccabees emerged victorious. They entered Jerusalem with their hearts full of joy, only to find the Temple of YHVH completely and utterly desecrated.

Pigs had been slaughtered on the altar of YHVH. Pagan asherah poles, obelisks, and a drove of statues had been placed in the Temple. There was fornication and orgies, worship of hundreds of pagan gods, and many more blasphemes that had taken place. So in order to restore that ways of YHVH and Temple workings, the Maccabees began the cleansing of the Temple.

Part of Temple protocol is that the light from the menorah must burn continually. Thus, lighting the menorah was one of the first actions the Maccabees took. According to Rabbinic tradition, the Maccabees could only find enough oil to keep the menorah burning for one day, but miraculously the oil lasted for eight days and they were able to cleanse and rededicate the Temple.

Rededication of Our Temples
I want to emphasize the Rabbinic tradition part of this story. The miracle of the oil lasting for eight days is part of the legend of the story, not historical fact. In my personal opinion, Rabbinic Judaism has emphasized the oil lasting and downplayed the Maccabean Revolt in order to overshadow the real miracle of the Hanukkah story — the profaning of YHVH’s ways coming to an end — and thereby keeping hidden their own roots in mixing the holy with the profane.

Something I didn’t emphasize in our little history lesson earlier, was that the Maccabean Revolt began as a campaign against other Jews. This wasn’t senseless violence or hostility among themselves, but, rather, it was a campaign to stop the Hellenization process among the Jews of the region.

Remember the other priest killed by Mattathias which essentially started the entire revolt? He was the embodiment of what was happening at the time — and is still going on today. The vast majority of people were fine with mixing the Greek (i.e. pagan or Hellenistic) system with the ways of YHVH as prescribed in the Torah. That priest was willing to sacrifice a pig, obviously completely forbidden by YHVH, in order to have “peace” with the nations of the world and to save his own skin.

Now, trust me, I don’t think it’s an easy thing to lay down your life for what you believe, but it is a choice that we should settle in our hearts now.

The Bible tells us there will come a day when another anti-Messiah, more powerful, evil, and violent than Antiochus Epiphanes will rise to power. He will demand that the ways of YHVH be discarded. He will demand that he be worshiped as god. What will we do in that day when the choice is your life or the bending of your knee?

It’s not an easy choice to make, but it’s one that YHVH will give you the courage to make.

Today, we are bombarded with reports of ISIS, Al Qaeda, Hamas, the Muslim Brotherhood, and other terrorist groups going into cities and villages and demanding people convert to Islam or die. I heard a story recently of a group of Christian children in Iraq that were beheaded for not renouncing their faith and converting to Islam. There are Christian villages being slaughtered across the Middle East by Muslim extremists. This decision of life or death is a very real possibility for some people.

Not quite as violent, but no less important, example of this in our daily lives is how we choose to live.

Hellenistic practices have taken such deep root in our traditions and values that we don’t even realize that we live contrary to God in certain areas of our lives. Many Christmas, Easter, Halloween, and Church traditions are so pagan you would be sick to your stomach (trust me, I felt this way after doing all the research into Greek mythology for some of my posts).

But Orthodox Judaism isn’t much better most times. Remember those Hellenized Jews I mentioned? Well they made a huge comeback after the Hasmonean Dynasty fell and the Roman Empire took over around the time of Yeshua. During this time, Rabbincal Judaism was solidified as the authority on Torah and Judaism — often times rejecting YHVH’s principles for their own man-made laws!

My point is this: man-made traditions on either side of the aisle will never get it right. The only way to be a truly pleasing offering to YHVH is to obey His Torah and believe in His Son Yeshua as Messiah.

But first, we must cleanse our own temples.

We have to let go of the traditions we have accepted without question in our lives. We have to look truth and fact straight in the face and decide how we will live. We must make the hard choices to leave pagan traditions behind in our pursuit to know and love YHVH more.

I know it’s not an easy choice to make but it’s one that we must have the courage to make.

Maybe you’ve already made the decision to leave man-made traditions and cleave to the ways of YHVH. That’s great! But the cleansing of your temple doesn’t end there. We could always use a little maintenance — things don’t stay clean just because you clean them once.

So this Hanukah season, what areas of your life is YHVH asking you to cleanse and purify? What areas of your life does He want you to rededicate to Him? What wrong things is He wanting to get rid of that have taken His place?

The choice is yours to make. I pray you find the courage to make it.

“And now, fear YHVH, serve Him in perfection and in truth, and put away the mighty ones which your fathers served beyond the [Euphrates] River and in Egypt, and serve YHVH!

And if it seems evil in your eyes to serve YHVH, choose for yourselves this day whom you are going to serve, whether the mighty ones which your fathers served that were beyond the [Euphrates] River, or the mighty ones of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve YHVH.” Joshua 24:14-15

The Real Reason for the Season

So let’s talk Christmas. I know this is going to be a touchy subject for a lot of people. But all I ask is that you give me a chance to explain a few things before you make up your mind or before you decide you don’t want to hear it anymore.

In this post, I am going to go through a brief history into how Christmas became the celebration so many people worldwide have come to know and love and the meaning behind some of the modern day Christmas traditions still seen today.

But before we begin, I want to say that I know this will be hard for some of you who read this; to take a hard look at what we really believe. I want you to know that I have been there too. I have had to answer tough questions about what I was taught my entire life and had to decide what was most important to me: my beliefs or what YHVH desired from me.

I know that we live in a society where Christian beliefs and morals are under attack and I want you to know that’s not what I’m trying to do here. All I want is for everyone to take a good look at the doctrine we have all been taught and see if it matches up with YHVH’s Scripture. It’s a scary thing to question what you believe but it can also be one of the most important things you ever do.

Questioning what you’ve been taught makes you stronger in your faith. It enables you to stand firm since you have tested what you believe. So even though it may be hard at first, please pray about the facts that I present here and ask YHVH what He wants you to do.

So let’s jump in!

Nimrod, Ishtar, and Tammuz
Christmas. Today it is celebrated the world around as time of celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ. Families come together. Gifts are given. People are full of the Christmas spirit. It can be a very happy and wonderful time of the year. But that’s not what Christmas always was.

According to the Bible in Genesis 10, Nimrod was the great-grandson of Noah and was called a “mighty hunter before YHVH” and a “mighty one” (god). In fact, in the Vatican there still remains a statue of Nimrod the great hunter.

The Bible goes on to tell us that he built the Tower of Babel and that he went to Assyria and founded Nineveh and the Babylon. As a modern-day reference point, Assyria today would be parts of Iran, Syria, Iraq, and Turkey. Nineveh is the modern day city of Mosul in Iraq. It is the oldest and most populated city of the ancient Assyrian Empire. This was a hot spot of activity earlier this year when ISIS invaded Northern Iraq as part of their strategy to control the Levant area.

But back to Christmas.

Legend has it that Nimrod married Semiramis, who also went by Isis, Astarte, Ishtar, Aphrodite, Venus, Diana, Asherah or Easter. She was often called “the mother of god” and “the queen of heaven.” I will refer to her as Ishtar for the rest of this article.

After Nimrod was killed, Ishtar had to find a way to maintain her position as Queen of Babylon, so she concocted a story. After consulting her astrologers, she told the people that when Nimrod had risen to the sun god Ba’al (which means lord or husband) and that he died at the winter solstice but came back to life again with the spring equinox (sound like Easter to anyone?).

Ishtar told the people that Nimrod had impregnated her through his sun rays and that he had reincarnated himself as her son Tammuz. Because Tammuz was the reincarnation of her husband Nimrod, naturally, Ishtar married her son (did you catch my sarcasm there?).

So let’s talk Christmas trees for a brief moment. I apologize in advance…there isn’t exactly a Disney version of this story.

Christmas Trees
Trees and branches became the symbols of Nimrod. Legend has it that when Nimrod was “cut down,” he was actually cut into pieces which were sent to different parts of the Babylonian province. The only part of his body that was never found was his penis. So Ishtar did what any loving wife would do in her situation: she decided to memorialize his penis by erecting a giant image of his male part in what we now know as an obelisk.

The stump of the evergreen tree, with a snake wrapped around it, had come to represent Nimrod because he had been “cut down” like a tree. Every year on Tammuz/Nimrod’s birthday (December 25), Ishtar instructed the people that they should go into the forest (the Bible uses the word “groves”) and offer a present to an evergreen tree. They were also instructed to cut down a tree, take it into their homes, and decorate it with gold and silver balls which symbolized Nimrod’s…uh…testicles. Yikes….

I’m hoping all this is starting to come together for you but just in case it’s not, let me spell it out for you.

The modern day Christmas tree complete with garland and balls, is a modern depiction of the snake wrapped around the stump and male testicles while the tree itself is a representation of Nimrod/Tammuz! Why would you want that in your home???

Now that we’ve covered the ancient pagan origins of Christmas, let’s talk about how the Romans and Greeks would have celebrated Christmas around the time of Yeshua.

Saturnalia
Until the 4th Century AD, the feast we now know as “Christmas” was celebrated as Saturnalia. It was an ancient Roman festival held on the 17th of December through the 23rd of December to honor the Roman god Saturn or Satur. He is the half-man, half-goat god that was associated with the god Pan, the god of confusion (where we get pandemonium, pandemic, panic, etc.) and thought to be an early representation of Satan.

Saturn went by many different names, however. Some of the names he is called are Mithra, Krishna (Vishnu), Osiris, Horus, Hercules, Tammuz (Nimrod), Indra, Budda, and Iesus (which later developed into the name “Jesus”).


NOTE: I would like to point out that no matter which name we use, whether it’s Saturn, Tammuz, Nimrod, Mithra, Pan, Osiris, etc., it’s all the same thing as referring to Satan. Satan doesn’t care what name you call him by just as long as you turn your back on the things of YHVH. Compare this to YHVH who does have a very specific way of doing things and does care what name you call Him by. There are many roads that lead to death, but only One that leads to life.


Saturn was the Roman god of agriculture who is said to have reigned the world during the Golden Age in which humans enjoyed the bounties of the earth without having to labor for them while they lived in a state of social egalitarianism, or complete equality with one another. The implication here is that there was peace on earth and good will towards all men.

Saturnalia was also described as a festival of light leading into the winter solstice, characterized by abundant candles to symbolize one’s quest for knowledge and truth.

After the public observances of Saturnalia took place, including public sacrifice (of both animals and humans), ceremonies in honor of Saturn, much drinking and revelry, Saturnalia would continue in people’s homes. People would carry on with their drinking and carousing and the more wealthy would sacrifice and subsequently eat a suckling pig as an offering to Saturn.

Saturnalia was also a time characterized by role reversal and the freedom for one to disrespect their masters. It was a time where social norms and hierarchies were disregarded and people acted with little regard to one another. Essentially, it was a time of chaos and confusion mixed in with some gift-giving for good measure. This was the precursor to Topsy Turvy Day and the medieval Feast of Fools.

Following Saturnalia, the renewal of light and the coming of the new year was celebrated at Sol Invictus, the “Birthday of the Unconquerable Sun,” on December 25.

Sol Invictus
During Sol Invictus, each Roman community selected a victim whom they forced to indulge in food and other physical pleasures (food, sex, drink, etc.) throughout the week. At the festival’s conclusion, December 25th, Roman authorities believed they were destroying the forces of darkness by brutally murdering this innocent man or woman and ensuring the gods’ blessing for the coming year’s crops.

The ancient Greek writer poet and historian Lucian (in his dialogue entitled Saturnalia) describes the festival’s observance in his time. In addition to human sacrifice, he mentions these customs: widespread intoxication, going from house to house while singing naked (a precursor of modern caroling), rape and other sexual license, and consuming human-shaped biscuits (we call them gingerbread men) in order to mimic human sacrifice.

The Encyclopedia Britannica volume 24 page 231 tells us the people would give each other gifts, primarily to children in the form of “dolls” which also represented sacrificed human beings to their gods.

They celebrated what they thought was the sun’s return by having orgies, human and animal sacrifices and eating blood pudding which we today call Christmas Pudding.

The festival was characterized by gift-giving, feasting, singing and debauchery, as the priests of Saturn carried wreaths of evergreen boughs in procession throughout the Roman temples. People decorated their homes with green branches, evergreen wreaths, incense, candles, and religious figurines and gave them as gifts to one another. Everywhere, people stopped work to join in the celebration.

Christianity incorporated Saturnalia into the religion of Constantine (Christianity) calling it Christmas in the 4th Century AD.  No such festival exists in the Bible.  It is directly from Babylon.

I hope you understand that, even though we have been taught to celebrate Christmas in order to celebrate the birth of our Savior, YHVH never intended us to celebrate Christmas or take part in any of these pagan rituals and celebrations.

I know that many of us have been taught that God redeemed the pagan rituals or that since we didn’t know about the pagan roots it’s ok to continue celebrating. But it’s not. I’ve even heard some people say that the Church didn’t know about these pagan roots or that they didn’t intend to partake in evil practices but there is clear evidence to the contrary…which I won’t include here for the sake of space.

I know it can be hard to question these traditions and the things we have been taught but let me again encourage you to seek YHVH on what He would like you to do with this information. I also encourage you to seek answers and Scriptures for yourself. Never blindly accept what any person tells you but instead, embrace the Word and instruction of God alone.

I have been there too. Where you must question everything you have been taught. It’s not an easy thing to do and it can be incredibly scary. But let me tell you that it has changed my life and my relationship with God into something so beautiful…and I never could have gone deeper in my walk with God without taking the difficult steps of questioning what man had taught.

Questioning what you believe doesn’t have to be a bad thing. It doesn’t mean you will leave your faith or that you will turn your back on God. Questioning what you believe can make you stronger in your faith and can strengthen you in ways you never imagined. The Word tells us that we are strengthened by testing and that our faith is made as pure as gold through the fires.

For He knows the way that I take. When He has tried me, I would come forth as gold. My foot has held fast to His steps. I have guarded His way, and did not turn aside. I have not strayed from the command of His lips. I have treasured the words of His mouth more than my daily portion. – Job 23:10-12

…even though for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by manifold trials, in order that the proving of your belief – much more precious than gold that perishes, and proven by fire – might be found to result in praise and respect and esteem at the revelation of Yeshua Messiah, whom having not seen, you love; in whom you exult with unspeakable and esteemed joy, yet not seeing, but believing, obtaining the goal of your belief: a deliverance of lives. 1 Peter 1:6-9

If you’re still with me, I’d like to take a look at some scriptures that address what were the once-modern pagan practices of weeping for Tammuz and Saturnalia.

Scriptures about Christmas
Listed here are a few scriptures that deal directly with the pagan practices of Christmas, Easter, and mixing the holy ways of YHVH with paganism. I know they are kind of long, but I encourage you to read them in their entirety. Rather than shorten them, I think it’s important you read these verses in context.

Hear the word which YHVH speaks to you, O house of Israel. Thus said YHVH, “Do not learn the way of the gentiles [pagan nations], and do not be awed by the signs of the heavens, for the gentiles are awed by them. For the prescribed customs of these peoples are worthless, for one cuts a tree from the forest, work for the hands of a craftsman with a cutting tool. They adorn it with silver and gold, they fasten it with nails and hammers so that it does not topple. They are like a rounded post, and they do not speak. They have to be carried, because they do not walk. Do not be afraid of them, for they do no evil, nor is it in them to do any good. There is none like You, O YHVH. You are great, and great is Your Name in might. Who would not fear You, O Sovereign of the nations? For this is Your due, for among all the wise men of the nations, and in all their reigns, there is none like You. They are both brutish and foolish, an instruction of worthlessness is the tree. Silver is beaten into plates; it is brought from Tarshish [in Spain], and gold from Uphaz, the work of the craftsman and of the hands of the smith; draped in blue and purple; all of them are the work of skilled ones. But YHVH is truly Elohim. He is the living Elohim and the everlasting Sovereign.

At His wrath the earth shakes, and nations are unable to stand His displeasure. Say to them this, “The elah that did not make the heavens and the earth shall perish from the earth and from under these heavens.” He has made the earth by His power, He has established the world by His wisdom, and has stretched out the heavens by His understanding. When He makes His voice heard, there is a roaring of waters in the heavens. And He makes vapors rise from the ends of the earth. The lightnings for rain He has made, and brings wind from His treasuries. Everyone is brutish in knowledge; every smith is put to shame by his idol. For his molded image is falsehood, and there is no spirit in them. They are worthless, a work of mockery. In the time of their punishment they perish. The Portion of Jacob is not like these, for He is the Maker of all, and Israel is the tribe of His inheritance – YHVH of hosts is His Name. – Jeremiah 10:1-16

Here, YHVH is reminding the Israelites that they are not to learn the ways of the pagan nations. More specifically, the children of YHVH were not to go into the groves, cut down a tree, and decorate it with gold and silver. It specifically refers to these trees as “idols.” YHVH also says that those who take part in this ritual will perish when YHVH releases His destruction. He goes on to say that the inheritance of His children Israel is YHVH, not these pagan idols.

“Do you not see what they are doing in the cities of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem? The children are gathering wood, the fathers are lighting the fire, and the women are kneading their dough, to make cakes for the queen of the heavens, and to pour out drink offerings to other mighty ones, to provoke Me. Is it Me they are provoking?” declares YHVH. “Is it not themselves – unto the shame of their own faces?” Therefore, thus said the Master YHVH, “See, My displeasure and My wrath is poured out on this place, on man and on beast, and on the trees of the field and on the fruit of the ground. And it shall burn and not be quenched.” Thus said YHVH of hosts, the Elohim of Israel, “Add your burnt offerings to your slaughterings and eat meat. For I did not speak to your fathers, or command them in the day that I brought them out of the land of Egypt, about matters of burnt offerings or slaughterings. But this word I did command them, saying, ‘Obey My voice, and I shall be your Elohim, and you be My people. And walk in all the ways that I have commanded you, so that it be well with you.’ But they did not obey or incline their ear, but walked in the counsels, in the stubbornness of their evil heart, and went backward and not forward. From the day that your fathers came out of the land of Egypt until this day, I have even sent to you all My servants the prophets, daily rising up early and sending them. But they did not obey Me or incline their ear, but stiffened their neck. They did evil, more than their fathers. And you shall speak all these words to them, though they do not listen to you. And you shall also call to them, though they do not answer you. But you shall say to them, ‘This is a nation that did not obey the voice of YHVH their Elohim, nor did they accept instruction. Truth has perished and has been cut off from their mouth. – Jeremiah 7:17-28

In these verses, we see YHVH showing Jeremiah how the people of Israel were worshipping “the queen of heaven,” as in Ishtar, and making her cakes. For more info on this practice and Ishtar, please click here to read my post about Easter. YHVH says that the people have been mixing the pagan traditions with His Torah and reminds them that only if they walk in the ways of YHVH with all their hearts will it be well with them. We know that both the Northern Kingdom of Israel and the Southern Kingdom of Judah went into captivities for their involvement in pagan practices and not refusing to repent and change their ways.

And I went in and looked and saw all kinds of creeping creatures, abominable beasts, and all the idols of the house of Israel, carved all around on the walls. And facing them stood seventy men of the elders of the house of Israel, and in their midst stood Jaazaniah the son of Shaphan. Each one had a censer in his hand, and a thick cloud of incense went up. And He said to me, “Son of man, have you seen what the elders of the house of Israel are doing in the dark, each one in the room of his idols? For they say, ‘YHVH does not see us, YHVH has forsaken the land.’ ” And He said to me, “You are to see still greater abominations which they are doing.” And He brought me to the door of the north gate of the House of YHVH, and I saw women sitting there, weeping for Tammuz. Then He said to me, “Have you seen this, O son of man? You are to see still greater abominations than these.” And He brought me into the inner court of the House of YHVH. And there, at the door of the Temple of YHVH, between the porch and the altar, were about twenty-five men with their backs toward the Temple of YHVH and their faces toward the east, and they were bowing themselves eastward to the sun. And He said to me, “Have you seen, O son of man? Is it a small matter to the house of Judah to do the abominations which they have done here? For they have filled the land with violence, and turn back to provoke Me. And see, they are putting the branch to My nose. Therefore I shall indeed deal in wrath. My eye shall not pardon nor would I spare. And they shall cry in My ears with a loud voice, but I shall not hear them.” – Ezekiel 8:10-18

These verses tell us that YHVH took Ezekiel to the Holy Temple in Jerusalem to show him the abominable practices being performed there. These abominable practices included having idols and abominable beasts carved on the walls of the Temple. The priests carried censers which created a thick cloud of incense. The women who were weeping for Tammuz (again, a precursor to many Easter traditions) as well as the men who had their backs to the Temple and their faces to the east.

All of these evil practices describe sun worship. The pantheon of idols and the incense. This is reminiscent of any modern day Catholic church with the saints adorning the walls of the building and the priests who carry the (very strong smelling) incense. The women weeping for Tammuz is describing the weeping that would be done for him when he “died” at the winter solstice but also the ritualistic weeping done at the spring equinox right before he was reborn. The men who had their backs to the Temple and their faces to the sun were unquestionably engaging in sun worship, probably on Sun-day. YHVH even specifically mentions putting the branch to His nose. Remember that Tammuz (the reincarnated sun-god Nimrod) was symbolized by tree branches!

So really, the question we need to answer is this: should Christians celebrate Christmas? I think YHVH has been clear on this in His Word. He does NOT want His people celebrating this pagan holiday.

I know, I know…but we don’t celebrate it like that anymore. And the traditions don’t mean the same thing anymore. And I’m not doing it with evil intentions; I’m celebrating Christ’s birthday. But the fact is, YHVH said no. YHVH’s desire is that His people be separate from the nations and obey His commands only. He desires a bride who has made herself pure and clean not one that has “defiled herself under green tree.” So the choice is up to you.

For the Word is very near you, in your mouth and in your heart – to do it. See, I have set before you today life and good, and death and evil, in that I am commanding you today to love YHVH your Elohim, to walk in His ways, and to guard His commands, and His laws, and His right-rulings. And you shall live and increase, and YHVH your Elohim shall bless you in the land which you go to possess. But if your heart turns away, and you do not obey, and shall be drawn away, and shall bow down to other mighty ones and serve them, I have declared to you today that you shall certainly perish, you shall not prolong your days in the land which you are passing over the Jordan to enter and possess. I have called the heavens and the earth as witnesses today against you: I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. Therefore you shall choose life, so that you live, both you and your seed, to love YHVH your Elohim, to obey His voice, and to cling to Him – for He is your life and the length of your days – to dwell in the land which YHVH swore to your fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give them.” Deuteronomy 30:14-20

Happy Holidays!

It’s the day after Thanksgiving and now all the Christmas decorating gets kicked into high gear. Even before Halloween I was seeing Christmas trees and hearing Christmas songs, but now that Thanksgiving has passed, those early attempts will look like child’s play compared to the mayhem about to erupt. People will start greeting each other with “Merry Christmas” and “Happy Holidays” and inevitably somebody will be offended…because we live in the land of the perpetually offended.

Someone will be offended that they were wished a “Merry Christmas” but just wait a milli-second and you’ll hear someone else completely offended that they weren’t wished a “Merry Christmas.” You just can’t win. Someone will be offended.

I know that conservative groups all over the country will be taking a stand about “keeping Christ in Christmas” and fighting for their right to use the word “Christmas” at the company “holiday party,” but let me let you in on a little secret. Are you ready? Are you sure? Ok.

I don’t celebrate Christmas.

Oh. You’re not shocked? Well fine. But at least still try to act surprised, ok?

So, yes, now that the cat is out of the bag you know the truth…I don’t celebrate Christmas. But guess what else? I’m not horribly offended when I see other people celebrating Christmas. And I’m not so scandalized in a store that when I’m wished a “Merry Christmas” by the checkout lady that I immediately file a complaint with store management. Do you know why? Because I understand that in America, the vast majority of people celebrate Christmas…whether I agree with it or not.

The poor lady in the checkout line has absolutely no idea that I don’t celebrate Christmas so I shouldn’t blame her or make her feel bad. So unless I’m willing to walk around for two months out of the year wearing a giant button that says, “I DON’T CELEBRATE CHRISTMAS SO PLEASE DON’T WISH ME A MERRY CHRISTMAS OR I WILL BE HORRIBLY OFFENDED,” (which I’m not, partially because I think that’s too long to actually fit on a button and partially because I know I’d forget to change it from outfit to outfit) I think I’ll just have to survive.

But the other side of that coin is for people who do celebrate Christmas to be ok with those who say “Happy Holidays.” I know that Christians in particular get touchy about this…and probably for good reason. In an age where our government is trying to take God out of everything, and regulate just how much religion we can actually allow in schools (unless your Muslim, pagan, Wiccan, Satanist, etc.), it’s a scary thing to think that people are now trying to take Christ out of Christmas too.

But the truth is that when people say “Happy Holidays,” they aren’t trying to take Christ out of Christmas; they are trying to be sensitive to the fact that not everybody celebrates Christmas. Besides, Christ (Yeshua the Messiah) was never in Christmas to be begin with but again, that’s a different post for a different day.

Like I said, I don’t celebrate Christmas, but I do celebrate Hanukkah (aka Chanukkah, Ch-an-oo-ka, or that Jewish holiday with the candles and eight days of presents). It’s not the biggest holiday of my year, like Christmas is to some, but I do celebrate it. It’s an important time of reflection and re-dedication for me, again…another post for another day. But I appreciate it when people wish me “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas.”

Saying “Happy Holidays” does not take Christ out of Christmas and is not only yet another way of being politically correct; it’s a just way to be respectful to those that don’t celebrate Christmas. So don’t be afraid of it! By the same token, there shouldn’t be a crusade to stamp out all recollection of Christmas either. That’s not respectful to those who do celebrate Christmas. We can’t wipe out individuality in our quest for equality, even if we don’t agree with it.

My point is that it’s ok to wish someone “Happy Holidays.” But it’s also ok to wish someone a “Merry Christmas” if you know they do celebrate Christmas. It doesn’t mean that you agree with that person or that you are somehow celebrating or not celebrating something; it simply means you respect the fact that people have different beliefs and different holidays and getting offended and upset is not going to change that.

So at the risk of offending someone, Happy Holidays everyone!