We who preach the gospel must not think of ourselves as public relations agents sent to establish good will between Christ and the world. We must not imagine ourselves commissioned to make Christ acceptable to big business, the press, the world of sports or modern education. We are not diplomats but prophets, and our message is not a compromise but an ultimatum. A.W. Tozer

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Plundering the Egyptians

Is it wrong to celebrate Christmas, knowing that the celebration itself originated as a festival to placate pagans; a festival of Saturnalia “Christianized” but kept on the same day?  Does the origin of a celebration pollute the current reason for a celebration?  Is even the use of the name “Christmas” joining with pagans?
In Exodus 11, God said to Moses that he is to tell the Israelites to ask their Egyptian neighbors for gold and silver jewelry when they are finally driven from Egypt after the 10th plague.  In the middle of the next chapter we are told the Israelites did as they were instructed and the Egyptians gave them silver and gold jewelry, as well as clothing.  Verse 36b says, In this way they plundered the Egyptians.  Later, in Exodus 25, God has the Israelites giving gold and silver as part of the offerings for building the tabernacle.  Gold was used for the Ark of the Covenant, the Table of the Presence, the lampstand and other furnishings.  
From where did this gold come?  Obviously it came from the plunder of the Egyptians’. Here is a case of things taken from pagans, and perhaps even used in their worship, and then used for God’s honor and glory.
Let’s look at Romans 14, often known as “the Law of Liberty.”  It discusses how to handle “doubtful issues,” i.e., issues about which the Scripture doesn’t address.  What Paul is saying here is that, although we have the Christian liberty to eat or drink, celebrate one day over another - or do anything else - if when we do it we cause a brother to stumble in his faith, then we should not do it.  A brother or sister may be weaker in the faith and not understand Christian liberty in such matters, and if they see us exercising our liberty but think we are doing something sinful, it may cause them to do the same action but leave them with guilt as if they sinned.  And even if no one is caused to stumble in that way, there is still stumbling into sin if those who exercise their liberty denigrate those who are weak, or if those who are weak denigrate those who exercise their liberty.  
Paul reminds the Romans that there is nothing unclean in and of itself (vs. 14) but that if someone thinks it is, then it is to that person because he lacks faith in that area, and if he lacks faith in what he is doing, then to him it is sin.
Simply put, when we either exercise our liberty or are too weak to do so, our actions are to the Lord and therefore we are not to judge another person by our personal standards; it is before the Lord that we stand, and it is to the Lord we eat, drink, celebrate a day or not.
Lastly, let’s look at 1 Corinthians 8, where Paul is addressing the issue of eating food sacrificed to idols.  Paul points out that an idol is nothing - that only God is a true God.  But, he says, not everyone has this knowledge, and that they have been eating such food for so long as an idolater that their weak conscience is defiled.  Paul says that doesn’t make us inferior if we choose not to eat such meat, but at the same time he says neither does it make us superior if we eat it.  However, as with Romans 14, he challenges the Corinthians to refrain from eating such meat if it will cause a weaker brother to stumble: Then the weak person, the brother for whom Christ died, is ruined by your knowledge.  And Paul then makes the very strong warning that you are sinning when you cause that brother to stumble, and when you do that you are sinning against Christ.
As with Romans 14, Paul is not saying it is wrong to eat meat which has been sacrificed to idols because we know an idol is nothing.  What he IS saying is that if by doing so you will cause a weaker brother to stumble in his conscience, then you have sinned against that brother and against Christ.
In Romans 14 and 1 Corinthians 8 we see that, according to God, everything is clean to eat, no matter who may say otherwise.  Eat, drink, celebrate a day no matter what you know about its previous use for pagan idolatry because we know that idols are nothing in reality.  HOWEVER, when exercising such freedom in Christian liberty, be sure you are not causing someone to stumble in his faith because of his weak conscience, not having the mature knowledge you have; if you do so, it is sinning.
The Israelis plundered the Egyptian gold and silver - pagan items for certain - and used them for God’s glory.  We can plunder meat from pagans and eat it to God’s glory, and we can plunder a celebration originated by pagans and celebrate it to God’s glory.
Back to Christmas.  The celebration of the birth of Christ did in fact originate in pagan beliefs which were “Christianized,” but since I know everything, including days, belong to the Lord because idols are nothing, then my Christian liberty allows me to celebrate such a day in a way that glorifies God.  We can “plunder the Egyptians” of their “gold and silver” and use it for God.
A last thought:  What about the claim that we shouldn’t even use the title “Christmas” to denote the day because of its pagan origins?  If it is important to God that we not use this title because of its pagan origins, then what do we as Christian use to name the days of the week? Or even the months?
Sunday is the Day of the Sun
Monday is the Day of the Moon
Tuesday is the Day of Mars
Wednesday is the god Woden’s Day (Mercury)
Thursday is the god Thor’s Day (Jupiter)
Friday is the god Freya’s Day (Venus)
Saturday is Saturn’s Day
January belongs to the god Janus
February comes from the Roman februa purification ceremonies conducted that month
March belongs to the god Mars
April probably comes from Apru, an Etruscan version of Aphrodite.
May is the month of the goddess Maius/Maia
June is named for the goddess Juno
July is named for Julius Caesar, who considered himself to be a god
August is named for Augustus Caesar
Notice how many of the names for these days and months come from pagan astrology which names planets after their gods, while the rest are names of gods or pagan ceremonies.  
All the names of the week, and eight of the names of months, are of pagan origin, just as the name of Christmas is of “Christianized” pagan origin.  What is a Christian to do?!?! 

Plunder the Egyptians, but don’t be unloving and cause a brother to stumble when you do so.

5 comments:

sbrogden said...

Using pagan names for days of the week is not an issue, for the name of Christ is not wrapped around them. Using pagan practices and so forth with the name of Christ wrapped around and within them is wrong.

So "Christmas" is wrong for it profanes the name of Christ among the pagans. The names of the days of the week do not.

Glenn E. Chatfield said...

Whether the name of Christ is associated with calendar names is irrelevant. The point is, by the same logic that we are called idolators if we use the name of Christmas - which isn’t even a pagan title - even though nothing we do in regards to it is pagan, then using actual pagan names should be also considered idolatry.

Christmas does not profane the name of Christ among the pagans because the name of the celebration points them to Christ and how He came into the world.

The name of the word was coined to denote a celebration of Christ’s birthday. Although the name was originally formed by joining it to a word for the Catholic liturgy of the Eucharist, I submit that the majority of people using the word have no concept of the connection with the Mass, and the word has taken on a meaning apart from the Mass.

We have thousands of words which could be etymologically dissected to discover how little the origin of the word has to do with current usage. Using a word in its current usage as a way to denote the day we celebrate the birth of Christ is in no way idolatry.

Flusered said...

Here I will answear the text, I'm sorry for my english but I hope you will understand me

Is it wrong to celebrate Christmas, knowing that the celebration itself originated as a festival to placate pagans; a festival of Saturnalia “Christianized” but kept on the same day?

Yes.

You say:
"In Exodus 11, God said to Moses that he is to tell the Israelites to ask their Egyptian neighbors for gold and silver jewelry when they are finally driven from Egypt after the 10th plague. In the middle of the next chapter we are told the Israelites did as they were instructed and the Egyptians gave them silver and gold jewelry, as well as clothing. Verse 36b says, In this way they plundered the Egyptians. Later, in Exodus 25, God has the Israelites giving gold and silver as part of the offerings for building the tabernacle. Gold was used for the Ark of the Covenant, the Table of the Presence, the lampstand and other furnishings. "

exodus 11:2 dosen't say that the people of Israel should plunder. It says in in hebrew
"דבר נא באזני העם וישאלו איש מאת רעהו ואשה מאת רעתו כלו כסף וכלי זהב"
"speak friendly in the ears of the people and let them request each man from his neighbor and each woman from her neighbor for Silver and Gold"

not even in exodus 12:36 it says anything abound plundering. Hashem (God) made so the egyptians gave their silver and gold "friendly".

You also say this:
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As I said, there was no plundering. And how do you know that the gold was used in pagans worship? I don't think the gold was used in pagan. lets take a look at exodus 32, it says in verse 1-6 that they collect ear-rings and other stuff to make a god (elohim) that they could follow. When Mose came back he order they to melt it down and the people had to drink it up mixed with water (verse 20). Why couldn't Mose just save the gold for the tempel? I guess that it was made for worshipping an another god and that's why.
And notice what the gifts was. it was jewelry, not idols in different types.

You were also talking about rom 14, but I don't think you can use that to say that we chould use pegan stuff for worshipping our God. But ofcoure, if you eat food that was offered to pegans you can eat it without asking if it was offered to pegans or not. But if you know that it was offered to pegans you should avoid it if you're weak in you believe. If you read Tanach (Old testament) you will se that there's very strict orders and rules how you act in the house/temple/etc of God. There is only one person each year that can go to the most holy place because it's so holy, how could the gold in there been offering to other gods before, it's absurb.

You also says:
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There is no place in the Bible that says "eat, drink, celebrate a day no matter what you know about it's previous use for pegan idolatry..."
There is eating rules, se 1 pet 1:14-16
As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do;
for it is written: "Be holy, because I am holy."

And Peter was refering to the clean and unclean laws in Leviticus 11, se verse 44-46
"For I am the LORD your God. You must consecrate yourselves and be holy, because I am holy. So do not defile yourselves with any of these small animals that scurry along the ground.
For I, the LORD, am the one who brought you up from the land of Egypt, that I might be your God. Therefore, you must be holy because I am holy.
"These are the instructions regarding land animals, birds, marine creatures, and animals that scurry along the ground."

Flusered said...

And you shall not celebrate any pegan holidays that later were made to christian celebrations.

Col 2:8
"Don't let anyone capture you with empty philosophies and high-sounding nonsense that come from human thinking and from the spiritual powers of this world, rather than from Christ."

And Daniel god said to Daniel that this things could happen. Read a few verses further, this is Daniel 7:25
"He will defy the Most High and oppress the holy people of the Most High. HE will try to CHANGE their SACRED FESTIVALS and LAWS, and they will be placed under his control for a time, times, and half a time"

Gal 4:8-11 says this, this is important
"Before you Gentiles knew God, you were slaves to so-called gods that do not even exist. So now that you know God (or should I say, now that God knows you), why do you want to go back again and become slaves once more to the weak and useless spiritual principles of this world?
You are trying to earn favor with God by observing certain days or months or seasons or years.
I fear for you. Perhaps all my hard work with you was for nothing."

And now the final verses. See those, really important! From our Torah, Deuteronomy 12:29-32 (Se also Deuteronomy 18:9-14)
"When the LORD your God goes ahead of you and destroys the nations and you drive them out and live in their land, do not fall into the trap of following their customs and worshiping their gods. Do not inquire about their gods, saying, 'How do these nations WORSHIP their GODS? I WANT TO FOLLOW their example.
You MUST NOOTworship the LORD your God the way the other nations worship their gods, for they perform for their gods every detestable act that the LORD hates. They even burn their sons and daughters as sacrifices to their gods.
So be careful to obey all the commands I give you. You must not add anything to them or subtract anything from them."

You also says:
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You can celebrate Christmas in your liberty, but never think that you will make God happy. He hates Idolatry even if you think that it's good.

I have a question, if you take away all the stuff that doesn't has to do with The Bible or christ to do, what do you have left? Jesus was not even born that time...

Glenn E. Chatfield said...

No, it is not wrong to celebrate the birth of Christ on the same day as other people may have worshiped their Gods. That would be like saying it is wrong to celebrate my own birthday if it happened to fall on a day that pagans worshipped their gods.

EVERY day belongs to the Lord, and Romans 14 solidly addresses that.

Exodus 12:36b in the NIV says, “so they plundered the Egyptians.”
In Jay Green’s Interlinear Hebrew/English Bible it says, “and they plundered Egypt.”
In the Tanakh it says, “thus they stripped the Egyptians.”
The NIV Interlinear Hebrew-English Old Testament says, “so they plundered Egyptians”
NET says, “so they plundered Egypt.”
I have about two dozen English translations, all saying similar. The point is that Israel took Egypt’s goods. The fact that the Egyptians gave it up willingly doesn’t alter the fact that they lost it all.

I did not say dogmatically that the gold had been used for worship - I said “perhaps.” The point being that it came from pagan idol worshippers. But that didn’t make the gold itself unfit for holy use, because everything belongs to the Lord.

The O.T. rules for how one worships in the temple is not valid for the Christian; all the rituals of the Jews pointed to, and was fulfilled in Christ. We have no temples; our bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit.

How do you know any particular day of the week wasn’t considered a holy day to some pagan? To say that we can’t use a day for celebrating the birth of Christ just because some pagans used the same day, is saying that the days belong to the pagans! All days are God’s days.

Do you worship on Sunday? That day was named because it was honoring the god of the sun. Oops, I guess we shouldn’t worship on Sunday. Are you a Sabbatarian and worship on Saturday? Oops, that day was named because it was set aside to honor the god Saturn.

We are not celebrating a pagan holiday - we are celebrating a day belonging to God. God is honored on any day that we worship Him.

Since we don’t know when Christ was born, we can choose any day we want to, if we want to celebrate his birth. Many scholars have suggested that Christ was conceived near the end of December, so if anything we can be celebrating his incarnation.

Your references to the O.T. have absolutely nothing to do with the subject. God was telling Israel that their celebrations were going to be corrupted, but that we shouldn’t worship the way they do. Christmas originated as a way to celebrate Christ and honor His birth, and it has been corrupted by Santa Clause, materialism and greed. But those of us who celebrate it as honoring Christ don’t corrupt it by worshiping Santa, etc. So your analogy fails.