Posts Tagged ‘Christmas’

Hanukkah vs. Christmas, the Alternative?

For many Biblical reasons, our family stopped celebrating Christmas many years ago.  Our relatives didn’t understand our reasons, but accepted the decision as best they could.  One side still sent Christmas presents that we reminded our children to accept with gratefulness because ‘every good and perfect gift comes down from the Father of lights” (James 1:17).   The other side began wrapping Christmas gifts in Hanukkah paper.  Though that was their way of respecting our decision, Hanukkah is not a Jewish substitute, replacement or alternative to Christmas.  Hanukkah and Christmas have two very different historic backgrounds and have nothing in common with one another.

The roots and traditions of Christmas can be found in the Roman celebration of Saturnalia on which the Catholic church sprinkled holy water,  incorporated the birth of a non-Jewish Jesus, and created the Christ Mass (which ironically means ‘death sacrifice’).   Those who embrace Christmas believing it as Jesus’ birthday  are doing nothing more than acknowledging catholicism as the roots of their faith (even if they are protestants who reject everything catholic).   In fact, all of Christiandom and secular society for this one day of the year become catholic in their celebration and promote the idolatrous Saturnalia with a holiday of stars, greenery, and gift giving.  

The events surrounding Hanukkah, the Festival of Dedication (John 10:22), are found in the Apocrypha and are rooted in Jewish history during the time of Alexander the Great when he wanted to Hellenize the world.  It was during this time that the Emperor Hadrian changed the name of Judea to the Greek/Latin Palestine in order to expedite the destruction of the nation and people of Israel.  Alexander’s cohort Antiochus Epiphanes (means ‘antichrist manifest’) went about ‘Palestine’  forcing the Jewish people to renounce their faith in the God of Israel or die.  He sought to destroy the people and the lineage through whom the Messiah would come. They were not allowed to circumcise their children, celebrate Passover or any of God’s other holy days or offer sacrifices in the Temple.  As Antiochus’ armies entered Jerusalem, they desecrated the Most Holy Place in the Temple with pig’s blood.  This is the same Temple that today Muslim world leaders claim never existed; the same place where an Islamic mosque stands.   

Our family is not nor ever was catholic thus we do not take part in the Christ Mass.   Our children were raised to understand the historical roots of Christmas and have never felt as if were missing something.   Instead, they were taught about Hanukkah and the anti-semitism of the Greek/Roman world, the same anti-semitism that still exists today in much of the church due to its catholic heritage along with the growing ideology of hatred for Israel in the much-tolerated religion of Islam. 

As they are all grown and have their own lives, each still remembers the Maccabees and their fight to free the Jews from being Hellenized with paganism.   They light their menorahs for eight days to remember the re-dedication of the Temple Altar back to Yahweh.  Each night with the candle light they look forward to the day when the Messiah Yeshua returns, sets His feet on the Mount of Olives, enters the Eastern Gate of Jerusalem and the Temple area.  On that day he will cleanse a newly-built  Temple from the coming ‘abomination of desolation’ (Matthew 24:15-26, 2 Thessalonians 2:4). He will restore Jerusalem and the nation of Israel to the eternal glory that is promised in the Holy Scriptures.  

Hanukkah is not a Jewish alternative to Christmas.  Changing the wrapping paper on a present or saying “Happy Hanukkah” rather than “Merry Christmas” changes nothing about the deeply rooted differences.  One is a celebration with unBiblical roots and decorated to entice the world into idolatry; the other is a memorial to those who fought against anti-semitism in order to protect the Temple in Jerusalem and to stand against the destruction of  their faith in the God of Israel.   Unlike the Roman catholic-based Christmas, Hanukkah is a reminder from a century before the birth of Messiah that nothing and no one, especially a modern ‘antiochus’ can destroy the Lion of the Tribe of Judah through whom the redemption of the world will come.

“You people don’t know what you are worshipping; we worship what we do know, because salvation comes from the Jews” (John 4:22).

©2015 Tent Stake Ministries

Journey With Jeremiah: Nourishment for the Wild Olive

Journey Cover

To Purchase

“Treat the Messiah as holy, as Lord in your hearts; while remaining always ready to give a reasoned answer to anyone who asks you to explain the hope you have in you —” (1 Peter 3:15).

Journey with Jeremiah is a compilation of reasoned responses written to answer questions regarding a ‘gentile’ walk of faith in the Jewish Messiah of Israel. It will challenge a gentile’s spiritual attitudes and how they live out their love for the God of Israel and His Son, Jesus (Yeshua). It will move the non-Jew from a crossroads in their faith onto the ancient paths bringing nourishment to the wild olive.

Part One explores many of the misunderstood doctrines in historical Christianity: the new covenant, the problem in Galatia, the law vs. the Law, Peter’s vision, and the timing of Jesus’ birth. Part Two brings the ancient shadows into the reality of Yeshua giving prophetic insights into the unexplained ‘Jewish festivals’ that leave holes in the pages of the New Testament. Part Three gives simple recipes, study guides and crafts to use when celebrating the Biblical holidays.

Note: Purchases are made through CreateSpace and Amazon.com with a credit card.  If you need to purchase through Paypal, please contact me directly: julie@tentstakeministries.

Kindle Edition

Comments from those who have read the book:

“This book is so good I can’t put it down.  Everyone should have a copy!” D. Carlson

“My Bible study group could learn so much from this book.” A. David

“I am going to buy a copy of this book for everyone in my family.”  K. Pilger

“I am so excited that all of your writings are now in one book that I can read and reread.” P. Nelson

“Thanks so much for writing this book.  I look forward to joining you on your Jeremiah Journey!”  D. Griffith

Chrismas is Yours, Not Mine and They’re Okay

Christmas is not our holiday.  It just isn’t.  It hasn’t been for over 20 years.  It’s just that simple.   Every year when one of my adult children says to someone who does celebrate the holiday that they don’t, they are invariably asked, “How has that affected you?” making them feel like they have been deprived of something grandiose or that their parents are mean green ogres.

This year has been interesting to listen to their responses.   One said they ‘love’ this time of year because they don’t have to be stressed out like everyone they know trying to buy gifts, getting them wrapped and attending parties.  Another said she has LOVED wrapping gifts at her job knowing she’s helping relieve some of the stress of those who do celebrate!?   Another one said, they’ve never really thought about what they missed because there’s nothing to miss.  The discussion drifted into the conversations they have had with people and not one person ever  mentioned a spiritual connection to the holiday – not one.  And, we live in a town where there’s a church on every corner!

Though I know everyone I saw yesterday meant well when they wished me, “Have a Merry Christmas”, however,  I wonder what they thought when I said, “YOU have a Merry Christmas, our family does not celebrate.”  From their silence, they were dumbfounded.  They were probably thinking,  ‘Who would be so humbug as to not celebrate this holiday of cheer?’  But then, “How has not celebrating Christmas affected the Jews?”

We have never felt comfortable about lying especially to our children about a hopping rabbit that lays chocolate eggs, the little lady with fluttering wings who steals from them while they sleep, or the jolly man from the north pole who flies a sleigh through the sky led by eight wingless mammals with antlers.  Really?  He comes down the chimney?  We don’t even have one!

More than feeling uncomfortable, we realized we would begin a cycle of lying.  With the Tooth Fairy, the Easter Bunny and Santa Claus, we would be subtly teaching our children when they grew up and realized that they’ve all been a make-believe sham, they would begin to question our authority in knowing truth.  As parents, we wanted to set an example – a lifetime example.

The most important Truth to us is our faith in the God of Israel and the birth, life, death. resurrection, and soon return of Yeshua.  To think that someday our children would doubt Yeshua as the Savior of the world and his Lordship in their lives because we fabricated cutesy games about other beings they couldn’t see, feel, touch, or hear was just not worth the price of their eternal life.   Lies are lies.  Not bearing a false witness is a commandment.  There was someone other than their mommy and daddy who could claim the ‘father of lies.’

Some  may not include Santa and his reindeer in their holiday festivities because they honestly do want to honor the time as Jesus’ birthday.  We also don’t celebrate Yeshua’s  birthday at this time of year.  At one time we did, but then learned that’s another lie based on the lie that ‘we don’t know when he was born.’  When we were made aware of the timing of the Messiah’s birth through Scripture, we were honest with our first two children (4 and 2 at the time – now 26 and 24) about our own deception.  We repented and removed the lie from our lives.   Christmas is not our holiday.   It may be yours and our children are okay.

Back to the original question from a different perspective, “How has not celebrating Hanukkah, Passover or Feast of Tabernacles affected your children, spiritually?”

©2013 Tentstake Ministries

What is the Reason for the Season?

Every year we have to listen to the comments of those who embrace this holiday known as Christmas.  Some enjoy the festivities and prepare with excitement and anticipation of ‘the morning of’.  They bake cookies, wrap presents, prepare an ‘advent’ calendar,  trim trees, and wait for Santa Claus to come down the chimney.

Others claim they center the holiday on the “Reason for the Season.” They become stressed and obsessed with shopping, gifts, parties, decorating their house and trees, church activities and extra activities until their Season loses its Reason.   If some unexpected event turns their well-devised plans upside down, they become angry or depressed.   Feelings of inadequacy, unfinished business, an urgency to ‘get it all done’ before that ‘great and glorious morning’ arrives replaces the joy the Messiah brought into the world when He became flesh. I know.  I lived it.  Though I tried and tried to focus on Jesus’ birthday by changing the Advent tree to a Road To Bethlehem, reading more and more daily Scriptures, baking a birthday cake for an absent baby, it just didn’t do away with the trappings of the wrappings.

“In the countryside nearby were some shepherds spending the night in the fields, guarding their flocks,  when an angel of Adonai appeared to them, and the Sh’khinah of Adonai shone around them. They were terrified;  but the angel said to them, “Don’t be afraid, because I am here announcing to you Good News that will bring great joy to all the people.  This very day, in the town of David, there was born for you a Deliverer who is the Messiah, the Lord.  Here is how you will know: you will find a baby wrapped in cloth and lying in a feeding trough.” Suddenly, along with the angel was a vast army from heaven praising God: “In the highest heaven, glory to God! And on earth, peace among people of good will!”

“No sooner had the angels left them and gone back into heaven than the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go over to Beit-Lechem and see this thing that has happened, that Adonai has told us about.”  Hurrying off, they came and found Miryam and Yosef, and the baby lying in the feeding trough. Upon seeing this, they made known what they had been told about this child;  and all who heard were amazed by what the shepherds said to them.  Miryam treasured all these things and kept mulling them over in her heart.  Meanwhile, the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for everything they had heard and seen; it had been just as they had been told”  (Luke 2:8-18).

Since our family has embraced the Jewish Messiah as the shepherds who were in the countryside,  we stopped celebrating this time of year as anyone’s birthday or holiday season.  It’s no longer ‘our’ holiday and it has no appeal to us, emotionally or spiritually.   It wasn’t a radical decision that happened overnight and BAM, everything Christmas was gone.   It  was a process of letting go of cherished traditions and warm fuzzies.  The change was gentle, loving and led by the Spirit of God.  When we listened to His voice, read His Word, we found it was His desire to separate us from the chaos in the world and the church around us because He was not part of the celebration nor was His beloved Son.

For the past 20 years, we have had a much more relaxed winter season.   Every stress and struggle disappeared when we stopped insisting  the devil was the root of the problem and  realized the Spirit of God was actually trying to deliver our souls from the god of this world, mammon.  We saved  money and our credit cards breathed a sigh of swipe relief.    We now sit back and watch the chaos around us and pray for Christians to truly find the shalom of Messiah in the disordered season that is supposed to be ‘merry.’

We do celebrate Yeshua’s birth.  We do honor God arrival in the flesh of a human being – Immanu’el.   We remember the birth of the risen King of  the Jews, the salvation of the world at the Feast of Tabernacles in the fall, but without any pomp, obsessive gift giving, evergreen trees decorated with silver and gold, endless parties and financial despair.  It is within a sukkah, the Hebrew word for ‘manger’,  and like Miriam, we treasure all of the things that happened with the shepherds in Bethlehem with a vision and hope for the coming Kingdom.

©2013 Tent Stake Ministries