Blinded by Twinkling Lights?
By Jim Huskins
John Kennedy ran for president when I was in first grade. The interstate highway system was barely started, the only McDonalds in Western North Carolina was on Tunnel Road in Asheville, and every December the old, downtown-Asheville Sears store became a land of enchantment.
In those ancient days, a black and white Zenith television with three channels was high technology. “Personal computer” was a nonsense statement. Homes had one telephone, and its wiring was shared with several families on a “party” line. The closest thing to the World Wide Web was an enormous, printed volume called the Sears Catalog.
Our deprivation of cell phones, tablet computers, video games, and pop culture gossip forced us to settle for a genuine experience. We played in the woods and fields, fished, built forts and tree houses, played basketball and softball, camped, played board and card games. Boy Scouting opened a world of adventure and growth. Armed with books and chalkboards, we learned reading, writing, mathematics, science, and history in that backward, little school.
In December, my family made our annual trip to Asheville. We ate at McDonald’s: no drive-thru, no inside seating, fifteen-cent hamburgers. The thrill of spending an hour at Sears came with rare treats: hot gingerbread, fresh, roasted cashews, creamy eggnog with nutmeg. The decorations, tinsel, and colored lights intoxicated me as we were released to ride the escalators and wander all three floors.
In those days before my tool addiction, I drooled over electric guitars and amplifiers before descending to a toy department that filled the basement. I fondled model car kits, Zebco fishing rods, baseball equipment, camping gear, and cap pistols. Electric trains ran constantly on elaborate track sets. What a marvelous celebration of the birth of Baby Jesus!
Sears Roebuck was a cultural icon long before I was born. Through the 1980s, they were the nation’s largest retailer. Their store brands were ubiquitous: Kenmore, Craftsman, DieHard. I could not have imagined life without Sears, but that retail empire fell to the barbarian horde including Walmart, Kmart, and the slimily pervasive Amazon. Sears still exists but only as a hollow shell. My adjustment to a post-Sears world has been jarring. A greater shock, however, was learning the truth about the “holly, jolly season.”
Since I have become convinced that the entire Bible is both true and relevant, I find it impossible to escape the realization that God does not change. Before the events described in the book of Exodus, the land of Canaan was populated by Gentile tribes who all practiced some form of Babylonian sun-god worship. Of course, they did. Worship of the sun was universally dispersed after the Tower of Babel.
Before Israel was allowed to enter the Promised Land, they were given clear instruction to not worship God in the ways that pagans worship false gods. Deuteronomy twelve covers several specifics. It culminates with verses 30 and 31. “Be careful not to be trapped into imitating them after they have been destroyed before you. Do not inquire about their gods, saying, ‘How do these nations serve their gods? I will do the same.’ You are not to act like this toward YHVH your God! For every abomination of YHVH, which He hates, they have done to their gods.”
Should believers participate in worship rituals that God hates? Most Christians would assert that they do no such thing, but is that true? The holiday universally celebrated near the end of this month is not mentioned in scripture. It was never celebrated by Jews or the early Church. It is a modern expression of solstice rituals found in ancient, pagan, sun god worship. December 25 is the supposed birthday of the sun deity, Tamuz. Do the research. Every “holiday tradition” that I once treasured is rooted in some pagan worship practice.
Satan is skilled at twisting the truth. He tricked Eve into doubting God. Most believers insist that Christ has “redeemed” those pagan solstice practices, but how can that be possible? Jesus insisted that God’s instructions for living will last as long as heaven and earth remain. God never changes. How can the things He hates not still be abominations? Both Israel and Judah took up pagan worship practices. The result was that both nations were exiled from Canaan. Israel never returned.
As a child, I never questioned the strange rituals we observed near the end of each year. I was told that we were celebrating the birth of Jesus. I trusted those who taught me. Now I am forced to reexamine verses such as Jeremiah 16:19, “Our fathers have inherited nothing but lies, futility and useless things.” Those who passed to me “the holiday traditions” did not realize they were instructing me in pagan worship ritual. Now that I understand the source of those traditions, I can no longer follow them.
Caroling began as an attempt to protect crops from evil. An evergreen tree decorated with bright balls is an ancient fertility symbol. Romans honored Saturn by having intercourse underneath the mistletoe. Holly supposedly drives away evil spirits. The yule log is a vestige of human sacrifice. The similarity between Santa and Satan is no accident.
I hated to lose Sears, but it had no eternal significance. When I learned the truth about solstice celebrations, I joyfully repented. Many believe that these rituals are a core element of the Gospel. Some insist that the instructions in Deuteronomy 12 do not apply because we no longer sacrifice children. When I ask for Biblical justification, I am called legalistic and anti-Christian. The universal defense is that “God knows my heart.” That is certainly true. Why, then, is it so difficult for us to acknowledge His?
Obedient Heart Fellowship believes that the entire Bible is both true and relevant. We accept salvation by grace through faith in Jesus, and we attempt to love and serve Him by keeping his commandments. See Revelation 14:12. email@example.com
Jim & Beverly Huskins are members of Obedient Heart Fellowship. You can read more Christian news from Jim HERE.