Revelation Chapter 15 to 18 and The Song of Moses and the Lamb

The Holy City

“And they sing the song of Moses the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying, Great and marvelous are thy works, Lord God Almighty; just and true are thy ways, thou King of saints” (Revelation 15:3).

The Song

The words of “the song of Moses” and “the song of the Lamb” in Revelation 15:3‑4 remind us of the song of deliverance and victory in Exodus 15, sung by Moses, Miriam, and the children of Israel, after crossing the Red Sea, after coming out of Egypt. Moses composed a hymn of praise in which the people joined, while Moses’ sister Miriam and the singing women prepared a response to various parts of the hymn of praise (Exodus 15:1‑20).

If it was appropriate that the Israelites give glory to God for their deliverance from Egypt, it is much more appropriate that spiritual Israel recognize the still greater deliverance from the power of Satan and the bondage of sin (R3998:6) and in the reassurance of our Heavenly Father’s grace permitting us to be called out of “Babylon” (Revelation 18:4), and recognize and thus stay away from the “antichrist” systems of belief. As the Apostle John said, “Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world” (1 John 4:4).

Song expresses the feeling of the heart, and there can be no song of joy, no song of the Lord in the hearts of spiritual Israel, if we feel that we are not pleasing to our heavenly Father, if we feel that we are not living in harmony with his will and purpose for us, for only in the sunshine of His love and favor is there joy forevermore in the heart and a song upon the lips of His child. If we are living up to our privileges in Christ Jesus, we will be constantly rejoicing, and the song of the Lord will well up from our hearts and will constantly be upon our lips” (H. V. Warren, 1978).

King Ahaz fostered idolatry (2 Chronicles 28:2-4) and sent silver and gold from the sacred temple to the king of Assyria (2 Kings 16:8). He constructed an altar patterned after a heathen one, replacing the customary temple altar (1 Kings 16:10-15), profaned sacred vessels, and closed the temple (2 Chronicles 28:24).

“All this and his closing the doors of the house of God robbed Israel of her song. And if the song of the Lord shall ever go out of the life of spiritual Israel, it will be because of our closing the door of the temple of our hearts to God’s holy spirit, a gradual closing of the door by a growing neglect of the study of God’s Word. Earnest prayer to the Lord might become too much of a task. The worship of the Lord might lose its attraction. Then would the door to the temple of our heart be closed, and the song of the Lord would cease. How then could one get the song back that he knew when first he loved the Lord? [2 Chronicles 29:27] provides the answer: ‘And when the burnt offering began, the song of the Lord began also.’ What a beautiful picture is the burnt offering of our [devoted appreciation] and of … acceptance by our heavenly Father'” (H. V. Warren, 1978).

We are now learning this song Brethren in Christ!

“Thanks be to God, who gives us the victory [over sin, and thus victory over the world, Egypt] through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 15:57).

“With the rosy view of the future which the Bible so surely gives, darkness and clouds, sorrows and tears for the immediate present cannot daunt us” (R5799:5).

The song of Moses and the Lamb practiced by the prospective Bride of Christ class while they are training on earth in the Priesthood of Christ, may be heard by others. They preach in perfect accord with the Law and the Gospel (R497:3). They “sing” about the good tidings announced in connection with our Lord’s birth, his ministry; and the testimony of the apostles respecting the Lamb of God and the great work to be accomplished by him (R2569:6). The song of the Lamb is the clearer revelations contained in the writings of the New Testament (C237, Hebrews 7:19, Hebrews 8:5).

This song described in Revelation 15:3,4 is the beautiful and harmonious expression (R497:3) about restitution (R130:3), reflecting an intellectual (R3177:5, R5441:6) understanding of God’s marvelously harmonious Plan. It is a balance of the Old Testament prophecies (the song of Moses) and the New Testament content (the song of the Lamb).

The song, practiced now by the “called” of God (Romans 1:7, Romans 8:28, 1 Thessalonians 4:7) who are seeking to be the Bride of Christ, is driven by their love of God’s perfect standard of righteousness and their delight to do God’s will as they daily mortify the deeds of the flesh, for their eyes of faith are fixed on Christ (Hebrews 12:2,3, 2 Corinthians 4:18) and the one hope found in Christ (Ephesians 4:4). Their joys in the precious promises of God are theirs by faith (Romans 15:13). They seek to gain Christ and Christ alone. They willing lay down their lives as living sacrifices pleasing and acceptable to God (Romans 12:1), cheerfully enduring (Revelation 3:10, Luke 21:19) the testings of faith patiently; an enduring of wrong or affliction with contentment, without rebellion of will, with full acquiescence in the divine wisdom and love. They are fully depending on God’s strength and His leadings in all the affairs of life, and are running the race of the high calling to “win the prize… in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:14, 1 Corinthians 9:24).

PHILIPPIANS 3, 7-11.jpg

The song of Moses and the Lamb is “to be sung by the immortalized bride [the 144,000 in glory] on the sea of glass” (HG16:5) who are the overcomers of the Gospel Age (R3078:3). However, those who understand the work of God, and are sympathetic to it, and “who can exercise faith in the Lord” may sing it even now while the work progresses but it is not its complete fulfillment: that will be attained when all the people of God shall have been found  at the end of the Millennial age” (R3999:1). Let us keep practicing and training our “voices” of character, mind, and heart so that we can sing this song in glory, as did the angelic sons of God who “shouted for joy” in the dawn of earth’s creation (Job 38:7).

Those who sing this song teach others through their behaviour, actions, and words to do the same until “all nations will come and worship” (Revelation 15:4) in the presence of God “Who so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth on him shall not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16). Before they can believe they must hear (Romans 10). The billions who have died in ignorance must be made alive before they can hear. Their blessing will come during the Millennium when they “shall learn of the divine mercy, … and they shall bow to the Lord to confess his goodness and his love and enjoy … the opportunity of full reconciliation to God and full return to the perfect conditions of mind and of body, and to life everlasting, lost by Adam’s disobedience, and brought back by the great Redeemer for as many as will receive it upon God’s terms” (R3282). Then all will “come to a knowledge of the truth: For there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time” (1 Timothy 2:4,6, R76). Once the glory of the Lord shall have filled the Temple, all peoples shall sing this song, just as all of Israel sang the song of Moses when delivered out of Egypt, representing the escape from sin and death (R3283:4).

Great and marvelous thy works, just and true are thy ways!

The Levites who sang at the dedication of the Temple did not sing of divine wrath never ending, but of divine mercy forever (Psalm 136, R3283:4). We can sing now of God’s righteousness and just dealings with the nations, because we have come to see how He permitted evil and death by looking at the work of the next, as well as that of present and past ages (R497). The more advanced our concept of right, truth, holiness, and purity, the more we appreciate the divine view of sin (R3729:4).

Having The Harps of God

In Revelation 15:2, the singers have “harps of God in their hands” with all its strings attuned (R5441:6, 926:4). Our harps are “called The word of God, and Isaiah, Jeremiah, Daniel, David, Job, Moses, and all the Prophecies are but strings to our harp; they only require keying up and they will produce the sweetest harmony to this ‘Song of Moses and the Lamb,’ for as Peter says, God hath spoken of the restitution by the mouth of all these holy Prophets (Acts 3:21)” (R130).

Revelation 15:2-4

In Revelation chapter 15 and 16, the seven vials of the wrath of God, that close out this age and introduce the next, are described as poured out by seven angels in divine service. The blessings of the kingdom follow this work, and wait for its completion. In the meantime, those who appreciate the aim and result can sing with thanks and praise for the Divine action.

The “sea of glass” perhaps refers to the large “sea” or laver of water before the temple of God (2 Chronicles 4:2). The laver contained water for washing, and thus draws to our mind the cleansed or justified class of believers who stand above the world with a higher prospect and understanding. The “sea of glass mingled with fire” suggests the judgments of God that proceed during the Harvest, as described in the pouring of the seven vials. “Above the troubled people are the overcomers — calm, serene, untroubled. Their position shows that their standing is by faith (Matthew 14:29). To the eye of faith all is transparent as glass” (R497).

Brother Charles T. Russell wrote in an August 1880 Zion’s Watchtower article (R130): “We believe that this fire [trouble] has been mingling or coming among the people since 1873, and that it is to continue until 1914” (R130). Pastor Russell understood the period of the last plague “to be the closing act in the drama of this age” (R497). “An important difference exists between our view and that of many others however, in that they suppose the end of the age to be accompanied by the destruction of the people, and of the earth itself; while we understand that it is the ending of the present reign of evil, and a necessary preparation of mankind for the reign of righteousness” (R497).

Since Pastor Russell’s passing in 1916, clearer prophetic insight for the last 102 years has been permitted due to the unfolding of Biblical Prophecies. It is now apparent that the “time of trouble” (Daniel 12:1) that began in 1914 is a process consuming many decades. Elijah’s vision of the time of trouble shows three waves of activity (1 Kings 19:11,12).

(1) The winds of war came in two stages, World War I followed by World War II.

(2) The earthquake breaking up the colonial powers proceeded thereafter, perhaps until the break up of the Soviet Union in 1989.

(3) The fire of Islamic insurgency continues until Armageddon and its consequent effects, which close out the “time of trouble” and introduce the long sought Millennial Kingdom.

The ending part of this “time of trouble” will be punctuated with the seventh plague (beginning with Armageddon), and the loosing of the four winds of Revelation chapter seven. These will come after the saints have been “sealed,” apparently referring to the completion of the Bride class in glory. Recall that in Exodus 12:29, the firstborn were delivered from the power of the death angel, as the last plague was poured. So the “Church of the firstborn” are “passed over” from death to life at the outset of the final judgments against this “world,” or order of things.

The Crossing of the Red Sea Versus the Deliverance of the Saints of the Gospel Age

In Revelation there are seven last plagues, whereas in Exodus there were ten plagues. It seems to many brethren therefore that the first three of the ten in Egypt refer to distresses on Christendom that precede the seven last plagues of Revelation. These may be the (1) Reformation, (2) the French Revolution, and the (3) Adventist Movement, which all prepared the way for the end of the age.

After crossing the Red Sea, the awesome and eerie calmness of the sea, when restored to its normal height, could be likened to a sea of glass without a ripple (Matthew 8:26), as Israel looked down in hushed and prolonged silence upon the Egyptians dead upon the sea shore. Just as the seventh plague of Revelation 16 is in three parts — Armaggedon, Earthquake, Hail — so the end of Papacy is described in three parts in Revelation 18:8Death, Mourning, Famine.

The 144,000 members of the Bride of Christ will be complete in glory at the opening of the 7th plague of Revelation 16. Some members of the Great Company class will linger here, passing through this “great tribulation” while washing their robes (Revelation 7:14).

In this Exodus 15 account, Moses is a type of Christ, and the Israelites picture of the Lord’s people who sing the song of praise. Standing beside the sea, but at a higher elevation, the Israelites were witnesses of God’s judgment on Pharaoh and his host (Psalm 136:15).

The saints living at the end of this Gospel age must be faithful unto death (Revelation 2:10); they must be victors in every test. The enemies which have confronted the saints are many. Revelation 15 mentions these —

The beast, Papacy, which is described symbolically in the opening verses of Revelation 13.

The image of the beast. Here are some suggestions respecting this. “The Image was formed by the organization of the ‘Evangelical Alliance’ in 1846 … [thus] the overcomers of the ‘Image’ could not occupy this position of favor and exaltation prior to that date. This furnishes a general reason for believing that the plagues must commence this side of the date mentioned, since it is during the pouring out of the plagues that the overcomers occupy this condition upon the ‘sea of glass'” (R497). The image may refers to “organized sectarian Protestantism” (R497), perhaps allied in spirit.

The image of the beast is later referred to as the false prophet (Church of England) which is one of the three entities combining in plague six (Revelation 16:12-14) as a prelude to Armageddon (Revelation 16:16).

There is a comparison to be made between the golden image of Daniel 3:1, and the image of the beast in Revelation 13:18. In both instances the numbers mentioned are multiples of six. Both refer to statues that are set up. Both have to do with religious worship, and in each case the penalty for failure to do so is death.

King Nebuchadnezzar represents the civil or “dragon” element of society (Revelation 16:3) and it is these world governments (political power under the influence of Satan) that will try to co-operate together with the actions of the “beast” and its “image” (that represent the clerical or religious element on earth) to try to stabilize the crumbling societies of the world when things really start to pull apart — the brunt of this we believe, will occur in just over a decade from now).  These co-operative efforts will be born out of weakness, not strength but their efforts and croaking together “like frogs” (Revelation 16:13) will prove abortive (Revelation 16:18,19).

Babylon is pictured as a harlot in Revelation 17. The harlotry of the apostate church is due to her having a unification (adulterous marriage) with the governments of this world. On the other hand, the true saints (who are represented as the wise virgins in Matthew 25:1-13), strive to keep themselves separate from all entanglements with the world.

Revelation 10:1 in the sixth trumpet (the longest of all the trumpet descriptions, Revelation 9:13-11:14) depicts an angel with a rainbow — an emblem that the distress (of the 1260 years and its persecution unto death by Papacy) is past, just as the rainbow in the cloud after the Flood meant that the experience would not be repeated. This indicates that the persecution of the saints by Papacy, in the manner that it was exhibited during the 1260 years of Papal power, is over, not to be repeated.

In Revelation 17 the Papal system (represented as the “whore”) is destroyed. The 10 horns and the beast (that is, the people, the body of the beast ridden formerly by Papacy, the woman) will eat and devour and burn the whore. The “hour” in Revelation 17:12 is the time of her final judgment, depicted in the Old Testament as Jezebel being eaten by the dogs. Compare Revelation 18:10, “Alas, alas that great city Babylon, that mighty city! for in one hour is thy judgment come.”

 The “mark” of the beast is an identifying mark that the recipient is in sympathy with Papacy. The mark could be either in the forehead (belief and mental agreement with Papacy), or in the hand (sympathetic activity with Papacy) — Revelation 13:16.

 The “number of his name — which is 666. The number six represents something sinful or away from the holy influence of God, and the triple appearance here intensifies the connection (Revelation 13:18). Compare Lamech’s “number” or lifespan of 777, whom some believe is related to the true church.

For many centuries the Papal System persecuted the saints of God. Revelation 13:7,6,5 — “It was given unto him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them … he opened his mouth in blasphemy against God … power was given unto him to continue 42 months.”

The number 666 some think is reflected also in the Latin title which the pope has taken to himself, “Vicarius Filii Dei,” that is, “Vicar of the Son of God.” Of the Latin letters in this title, those which the Latins also used to represent numerals, add up to 666. (In Latin the “U” of Vicarius becomes a “V,” and the double U [W] is actually a double V. Br. Frank Shallieu, “The Keys of Revelation,” page 361).

The Trinity: “The number 666 is composed of three 6’s. The fact that it is one number, yet contains three integers, may suggest the doctrine that from the time of Arius has been embraced by the nominal Church… The pagan Trinitarian doctrine, as shown so profusely by Alexander Hislop’s “The Two Babylons,” existed many centuries prior to the introduction of Christianity into the world. This unholy and unscriptural doctrine found its way into nominal churchianity about the time of Constantine. It not only existed in Babylon but also was expressed in the complicated theology of Hinduism and Brahmanism (Br. Frank Shallieu, “The Keys of Revelation,” page 366).

“Just and true are your ways”

“Who, but those who see the restitution to be accomplished in the next age, could sing this part of the song? Not one; Christendom in general fears to think of God’s justice in dealing with the nations in general, the great majority of whom have gone down into death without any knowledge of the only name whereby we must be saved. The righteousness, and justice, and love of God’s dealing, can only be seen by looking at the work of the next, as well as at that of present and past ages. Yes indeed we rejoice to proclaim to all who have an ‘ear to hear’ — Just and true are Jehovah’s ways in ruling the nations” (Br. Charles Russell, R497).

‘For all the nations shall come and worship in thy presence, because thy righteous acts are manifested.’ This is the last note of the song, and is full of force and meaning. How few are proclaiming, either publicly or privately, this part of the song. Some believe that many of the nations now dead are in a place of mental or physical torture, there to remain to all eternity. Others claim that they are dead, and will never again have life; others that those who are dead, will be raised from death to pass a mock trial, and be destroyed. But how few can sing this song of restitution, declaring that all nations shall yet come from death, and shall worship their Lord and Redeemer, when brought to a knowledge of the truth (1 Timothy 2:4). Even Sodom, a nation long since destroyed, shall come and worship (Ezekiel 16:48‑63)” (R497).

“King of the Ages”

“The Sinaitic manuscript renders the phrase “King of saints” as “King of the ages,” which appears to be the proper thought. The emphasis indicates that as God brings to a successful conclusion His purposes with respect to the Gospel Age, so likewise He will bring to a triumphant climax at the end of the Millennial Age His purposes in regard to mankind. This is the song and this is the confidence of the saints in verse 3. The fulfillment of Revelation 15:4 is yet future — the very near future it is believed!” (Br. Frank Shallieu, The Keys of Revelation, page 400).

Christ returned in 1874, and the Time of Trouble began in 1914 (Daniel 12:1). When the final stage of the trouble has come upon Christendom, after Israel’s deliverance, and the subsequent “earthquake” and “hail” that complete the seventh plague (Revelation 16:18-21), the revelation will dawn upon the people of Earth that God has intervened in a remarkable way. Thereafter, in Christ’s 1000 year reign of righteousness, all humanity will seek and obey the laws of the Kingdom (Psalms 96:11,13).

Tune Your Harps

Dearly Beloved Brethren in Christ —

“tune up your harps, and sing aloud our glad song of ‘Jubilee.’ Sing to your dear friends who love God, despite what seems to them his injustice. But if they will not hear sing to the world. It will be a ‘Bow of promise’ to them when they go further down into the time of trouble. And if you cannot do this sing it loudly in your own heart. It will joy and comfort bring you, to think of our Father’s love and realize that ‘His mercy endureth forever’ (Psalm 136). It will open and warm your heart and enrich it with love, both for your Father and for those who are the objects of His care and love” (R130).

Let us present ourselves as peace offerings, such as the Ram of Consecration, so that our lives may ascend as a sweet savor, to our Heavenly Father. Our consecration “is not to this condition or to that condition, to this prize or to that prize, but it is to our heavenly Father, to the One on high, an ascending consecration to God alone .. a full, entire, and complete consecration, nothing held back; not a part or partial … offering, but a whole.” “For our consecration to be acceptable in the sight of God, we must be stripped of all fleshly coverings. Hebrews 4:13, “Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in his sight; but all things are naked and laid open before the eyes of him with whom we have to do” (H. V. Warren, 1978).

As we onward sojourn without murmuring, seeking the Promised Land of Zion above, may we with great joy in the one Love, one Hope, and one Faith, and testifying and proclaiming of God’s acts of justice, love, wisdom, and power, continue to gladly and with thanksgiving in and for all experiences, sing:

“‘Not my own!’ my time, my talent,
Freely all to Christ I bring,
To be used in joyful service
For the glory of my King.”

Have You Lost the Song?

Dear friend — If you ever feel you have lost the song of the Lord, or if you feel you are walking through a valley which is overcast with the shadow of death, then may you gain great encouragement through the words of Brother H. V. Warren’s article “The Song of the Lord” in The Herald of Christ Kingdom Magazine (A direct website link of this article is cited in the Reference section below).

“When the burnt offering began, the song of the Lord began also” (2 Chronicles 29:27).

———————————-

References, Acknowledgment and Suggested Further Reading:

“R” – represents the references to the article numbers of the Reprints of the Original Zion’s Watch Tower and Herald of Christ’s Presence.
http://www.htdbv8.com/reprintA.html

Harvest Gleanings (HG)
http://www.htdbv8.com/HG/HG1.pdf

Br. David Rice — Editing.

Br. Frank Shallieu — “The Keys of Revelation,” pages 398‑400.

Br. Jim Parkinson, “The Exodus Plagues,” The Herald of Christ’s Kingdom, January / February 2018.
https://herald‑magazine.com/2018/01/01/the‑exodus‑plagues/

V. Warren, “The Song of the Lord,” in The Herald of Christ’s Kingdom, July / August 1978
http://www.heraldmag.org/archives/1978_4.htm#_Toc36734285

“God’s Comprehensive Law,” The Herald of Christ’s Kingdom, Volume 14. August 1‑15, 1931 No. 15/16
http://www.heraldmag.org/archives/1931_8.htm#_Toc23239884

Br. William J. Hollister, Notes on the Book of Revelation, Miami, Florida, May 1, 1960 (found in the Bible Study Library).

Christ’s Parousia (Second Presence) In 1874
https://biblestudentsdaily.com/2017/11/10/christs-parousia-second-presence-in-1874/

Moses and The Lamb — Hymns of Dawn No. 17
https://biblestudentsdaily.com/2018/05/19/moses-and-the-lamb-hymns-of-dawn-no-17/

Revelation Chapter 15 to 18 and The Song of Moses and The Lamb
https://biblestudentsdaily.com/2018/05/21/revelation-chapter-15-to-18-and-the-song-of-moses-and-the-lamb/

All For Jesus – Hymns of Dawn No. 8
https://biblestudentsdaily.com/2017/11/19/all-for-jesus-hymns-of-dawn-no-8/

Church Union and the Antichrist Booklet: https://chicagobible.org/product/church-union-the-antichrist/

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Where Does “Christmas” Originate From?

Where Does CHRISTMAS ORIGINATE from.jpg

The Christmas season is the most enjoyable time of the year for many who think upon the events surrounding the gift of Jehovah to the world—his firstborn Son, our Lord Jesus as a special gift to the human family, but is the redemptive work of Jesus Christ, truly appreciated in its full sense?

You see, the true reason for Jesus’ birth was that he would give his life as a ransom price for the sins of every single human that has lived.

The apostle Paul wrote to Timothy, “I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time” (1 Timothy 2:1-6).

In John 3:16 we read that “God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

The Greatest Message of Joy

The angel in Luke 2:10-14 was announcing God’s greatest gift to his poor, sin-sick and dying human creation: A SAVIOR… The “ransom for ALL to be testified in due time” when Christ’s future kingdom of righteousness will soon be established on earth, and when “God’s sons” (the Bride of CHRIST—the 144,000, shall be all beyond the vail and “revealed.” (1 Timothy 2:6, Romans 8:19)

The birth of Jesus had been foretold by the Prophet Isaiah:

“Unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this” (Isaiah 9:6,7).

Isaiah’s prophecy speaks of Jesus as the antitypical King David, and that he would in due time assume the several and distinct offices of his yet future kingdom as outlined in the prophecy.

At that future time, our loving Heavenly Father would entrust the glorified Jesus to exercise the great power and authority that would be given him to bless all the families of the earth as promised to the true and faithful “seed” of Abraham (Genesis 22:15-18; Acts 17:31).

At Christmas when the world’s attention is drawn to the birth of our dear Lord Jesus, we must acknowledge that he left us with no instructions to celebrate his birth date.

However, Jesus did give us instructions to memorialize his deathinviting us to partake of the emblems and to remember his death. (Matthew 26:26-30; Mark 14:22-26, 1 Corinthians 11:17-34).

In the Book of Luke, Jesus’ words spoken to his followers at the last supper on Nisan 14th (the day of unleavened bread when the Passover lamb was to be sacrificed) are as follows:

“(17)And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and said, Take this, and divide it among yourselves: (18) For I say unto you, I will not drink of the fruit of the vine, until the kingdom of God shall come. (19) And he took bread, and gave thanks, and brake it, and gave unto them, saying, This is my body which is given for you: this do in remembrance of me. (20) Likewise also the cup after supper, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood, which is shed for you” (Luke 22:17-19).

An Ancient Holiday Season

Although many Christian people continue to observe December 25th as the date of Jesus’ birth, there is no scriptural evidence for this date. Many students of the Bible have come to the conclusion that the blessed event took place around the beginning of October, as we have explained in the post titled Calculating the Date of Jesus’ Birth.

The Winter Solstice

Many ancient cultures chose the Winter Solstice as a special time for celebrating Christmas—which was the terminal point between the darkest days of the year, and the time when the sunlight would begin to increase. That is, when the path of the sun has reached its furthest southern position. The word “solstice” literally means “the sun stands still.”

The time of the Winter Solstice was determined using very primitive and imprecise methods—measuring the length of the shadow created by a stick or a standing stone, which in turn, was dependent on clear weather to create a shadow and to make their calculations as accurate as possible.

In pagan times, the Winter Solstice was seen as part of an annual cycle of the earth’s seasons known as “the wheel of the year.” They celebrated eight festivals including the spring, midsummer, fall, and Yule seasons. Four others were spaced midway between each of them. These festivals have origins in Germanic and Celtic pre-Christian feasts.

Yuletide Celebrations

The Yuletide festival was one of the ancient traditions that was observed in many areas of Europe, the British Isles, and elsewhere. The word Yule relates to the Christmas season and the time when the sun reverses its downward path and begins to shine longer each day.

The actual time may vary a few days over the course of years, but usually occurs sometime between December 21st – 23rd.

Fathers and sons would bring home large logs, which they would set on fire. The people would feast until the log burned out, which could take as many as 12 days. The Norse believed that each spark from the fire represented a new pig or calf that would be born during the coming year. The log was believed to bring good luck to the occupants of the dwelling. Ashes from the log were placed in wells to keep the water pure and they were also placed at the roots of fruit trees and vines to help them bear an abundant harvest during the following year.

The end of December was also when most cattle were slaughtered, thus, the only time of year when they had a supply of fresh meat and most wine and beer made during the year was finally fermented and ready for drinking.

In Germany, people honoured the pagan god Oden during the mid-winter holiday who they were terrified of, as they believed he made nocturnal flights through the sky to observe his people, and then decide who would prosper or perish. Because of his presence, many people chose to stay inside.

Saturnalia

In Rome, where winters were not as harsh as those in the far north, Saturnalia—a holiday in honour of Saturn, the god of agriculture—was celebrated. Beginning in the week leading up to the winter solstice and continuing for a full month, Saturnalia was a hedonistic time, when food and drink were plentiful, when slaves would become masters for this month and when peasants were in command of the city. Business and schools were closed so that everyone could partake of this pagan “fun.”

Mithraism

Another of the Winter Solstice festivals was the celebration of Mithra—annually observed by the people of ancient Persia in honour of the Persian god Mithra who was considered the deity of light, wisdom, and moral purity. For some Romans, Mithra’s birthday was the most sacred day of the year and celebrated on December 25th.

The celebration of Mithra was later introduced into Europe and other areas of Asia Minor after the conquests of Alexander the Great (in early 300 BC) but it began to lose much of its influence by the end of the fourth century. With the rise of Constantine the Great in the fourth century, Christianity was then elevated to the prominent position as the official religion of the Roman Empire. Therefore, the ancient traditions and various observances of the old pre-Christian era gave way to the new Christian religion and its festivals.

The Christian Era

Who Established the Christmas December 25th Date?  

In the early years of Christianity, Easter was the main holiday; the birth of Jesus was not celebrated. During the early centuries of the Christian era, religious leaders wanted to establish a fixed date to celebrate the mass of Christ, which was called Christmas.

It is commonly believed that the church (that is, Pope Julius I—a bishop of Rome from AD 337 to his death in AD 352) chose this date in an effort to adopt and absorb the traditions of the pagan Saturnalia festival.

First called the Feast of the Nativity, the custom spread to Egypt by AD 432 and to England by the end of the sixth century. By the end of the eighth century, the celebration of Christmas had spread all the way to Scandinavia. Today, in the Greek and Russian orthodox churches, Christmas is celebrated 13 days after the 25th, which is also referred to as the Epiphany or Three Kings Day.

By holding Christmas at the same time as traditional winter solstice festivals, church leaders increased the chances that Christmas would be popularly embraced, but gave up the ability to dictate how it was celebrated.

By the Middle Ages, on Christmas believers attended church and afterwards celebrated raucously in a drunken, carnival-like atmosphere. Christmas became the time of year when the upper classes could repay their real or imagined “debt” to society by entertaining less fortunate citizens.

Christmas is Outlawed In the Early 17th Century

In 1645, Oliver Cromwell and his Puritan forces took over England and they vowed to rid England of decadence and, thus Christmas was cancelled through these efforts, even being known to be outlawed (from 1659-1681) in Boston. However, by popular demand, Charles II was restored to the throne and, with him, came the return of the popular holiday.

In fact, Christmas wasn’t declared a federal holiday until June 26, 1870.

The Christmas Tree – A Pagan Custom Brought to Christianity

Long before Christ, evergreen trees and plants have been used to celebrate winter festivals.

Early Romans used evergreens to decorate their temples at the New Year’s celebration of the Saturnalia festival, and exchanged branches and twigs of evergreens as a good luck blessing.

The ancient Egyptians used green palm rushes as part of their worship of the god Ra.

Pagans in Europe believed that because the evergreen tree stayed green throughout the year and could withstand the rigors of an extreme winter, they had magical abilities to ward off the life-threatening powers of darkness and cold. Thus they were considered to possess powers over evil spirits, which some ancient pagan civilizations of northern Europe believed stalked the eerie shadows of the wintertime forests.

During the winter months, evergreen wreaths and other forms of greenery were hung over doors and windows and brought inside the house to protect one from the darkness and evil spirits. The incense from burnt needles and cones as well as the scent from this greenery would freshen the dark and dismal dwellings from the otherwise stagnant odour of thresh and straw and was considered a means of blessing the occupants of the home.

The evergreens served as a reminder that the rigors of winter would pass, and that the land would once again be fruitful.

Many historians believe that the pagan people of Scandinavia were among the first to actually bring evergreen trees indoors, which served as a mid-winter symbol of the promise of the coming warmth of spring.

German Saxons are believed to have been the first to light their trees with candles, and to adorn them with decorations and trinkets for good fortune. The tradition of the indoor evergreen tree became popular in Germany, and it is believed that the first use of Christmas trees by Christians was developed in that part of Europe. Some historians have suggested that its origin may reach back as far as the eighth century.

In England, the first recorded Christmas tree was in 1841. At that time, Queen Victoria was married to Prince Albert of Germany, and he brought the tradition with him and set up the first Christmas tree in Windsor Castle.

German immigrants to America also brought the tradition with them and were celebrating Christmas with evergreen trees as early as the 1830s. The custom took several decades to catch on in the United States. During that period of time, most religious people correctly assumed that it had pagan origins. However, by the 1890s the indoor decorated Christmas tree had become popular in the majority of homes in America.

The Truth behind the Word “CHRISTMAS”

The word “CHRISTMAS” is based upon an impure doctrinal foundation: THE ROMAN CATHOLIC PAPAL SYSTEM—the ANTICHRIST of the Bible—was identified by the Reformers of the Early Church, such as Martin Luther.

The Papal system fit the description found in 2 Thessalonians 2:4:

“…who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God…”

The evidence to the Reformers in confirming the identity of Antichrist was the doctrine of the Mass. The ritual of the Mass claims to recreate and sacrifice over and over Christ’s actual flesh (bread) and blood (wine). Known as the Eucharist, it became a requirement that each believer must receive this fresh sacrifice of Christ to cover his daily sins. Daniel 11:31 refers to this as “the abomination that maketh desolate.”

The Mass makes desolate or negates the full merit of Christ’s blood which was shed once for all.” (Hebrews 7:27; 10:10)

It is important to note that the Protestant Reformers were careful not to condemn any individual Catholic believer as Antichrist—recognizing that no man is The Antichrist. Popes, bishops, priests and others have been only parts of, and, possibly, innocent members of the corrupt Antichrist system.

Jesus Christ’s Commission On Earth

At the age of maturity (30 years), the perfect man Jesus presented himself to his Heavenly Father in total consecration and obedience to do his will.

Jesus fulfilled the words that the Psalmist David had written concerning him:

“Then said I, Lo, I come: in the volume of the book it is written of me, I delight to do thy will, O my God: yea, thy law is within my heart. I have preached righteousness in the great congregation: lo, I have not refrained my lips, O Lord, thou knowest. I have not hid thy righteousness within my heart; I have declared thy faithfulness and thy salvation: I have not concealed thy lovingkindness and thy truth from the great congregation. Withhold not thou thy tender mercies from me, O Lord: let thy lovingkindness and thy truth continually preserve me” (Psalm 40:7-11).

In Luke 4:18-19, Jesus explains to us his commission:

 “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, To preach the acceptable year of the Lord.”

“To the poor”—In his sermon on the mount, Jesus said, “Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:3).

“Heal the brokenhearted—Jesus was to heal the brokenhearted, and he said, “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Luke 11:28).

“Preach deliverance to the captives”—Isaiah’s account reads, “To proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound” (Isaiah 61:1).

When Jesus quoted Isaiah’s prophecy, he used the word “bruised” which means to crush, as in death. The reference to “captives” points to the prison house of death. In his sermon on the resurrection of the dead, he said, “The hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God: and they that hear shall live” (John 5:25).

“To preach the acceptable year of the Lord”—speaks of the special invitation which has been extended to the called by God during this present Gospel Age who are laying their lives down in sacrifice which is acceptable to God (Romans 12:1,2).

What is our Commission?—see post titled Jesus’ Commission: Make Disciples. Baptize. Teach.

We, too, are commissioned to preach the Gospel to the poor, groaning creation. If we are faithful unto death, we will have the great privilege to share with our glorified Lord in his future kingdom of righteousness over all the people of earth. Let us renew our efforts to serve him as we approach another new year.

May we continue to give thanks to our loving Heavenly Father for his gift of Jesus, in whom the whole human family will be blessed under the provisions of his future kingdom of life and righteousness.

Should Christians Celebrate Christmas?

“Let us remember: Jesus did not tell his disciples to celebrate his birth. Therefore, it is not important when we choose to remember this wonderful event. Because love and appreciation for our Savior abound in people’s hearts on December 25th, we may join in their attitude of glad remembrance. And the habit of giving gifts to one another seems especially appropriate. God is the giver of every good and perfect gift. Certainly, amongst all His gifts, the one of greatest important to us is the gift of His Son to be our Redeemer” (Chicago Bible Students Website, Questions and Answers).

Reference:

The Dawn Magazine, December 2005, “The Birth of a Savior: Tidings of Great Joy.”
The Dawn Magazine, December 2011, “The Yuletide Traditions: and the Winter Solstice.”
The End Times, Fall 2005, Issue No. 34 – “Anti-Christ – the Counterfeit Heavens.”
Chicago Bible Students Website: Questions and Answers (www.chicagobible.org)

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