I’ve drafted this post at least three times and it’s always too long, so I start over. It’s supposed to be simple, right! So kids can understand it. Here’s some info my son really connected with. He’s ten years old, and he got it – fast. (Note to grown-ups: Our children can handle more truth than we sometimes think they can. And they actually like being told the truth.)
Revelation and Christmas?
Okay, here’s what we’re going to do. We’re going to examine the Bible and history together, because sometimes the stories of history help us understand the Bible. Or more accurately, the Bible helps us better understand what’s happening in history.
Satan has always been trying to take the place of God. Isaiah 14:12-14 He’s a master of deceit. Rev. 12:9 All through the book of Revelation the dragon (aka Satan) tries to take the place of God – as an impostor. An impostor is a person who pretends to be someone else in order in deceive others.
Is there an impostor flying around at Christmastime?
Let’s examine this popular figure to see if he’s an impostor. Then we’ll see if there’s any clues about this in Revelation.
Santa Claus Jesus Christ
|Drives a sleigh through the sky||Drives a chariot up to heaven (2 Kings 2:11)|
|White hair||Hair white like wool (Rev. 1:14)|
|Wears a red coat||Wears a robe dipped in blood (Rev. 19:13)|
|Checks if you’re “naughty or nice”||Judges all according to their works (Rev. 20:12)|
|Gives gifts||Gives the best gift (Luke 11:13)|
|Is a carpenter – makes toys||Is a carpenter (Mark 6:3)|
|Comes from the North (Pole) and wants to take the place of God (Isa. 14:13)||Comes from the North (Ezek. 1:4; Ps. 48:2)|
|Says “Ho, Ho, Ho” (this phrase was used to introduce the character of the devil in Old English plays)||Holy, Holy, Holy (Rev. 4:8)|
|Wants little children to come to him||Wants little children to come to Him (Mark 10:14)|
|Comes as a thief in the night (through fireplace)||Comes as a thief in the night (Matt. 24:43-44)|
|Must lie about him to your children (Devil is the the father of lies. John 8:44)||Is the truth (John 14:6)|
What’s the big deal?
We know that Santa Claus is a combination of many old myths and traditions that have changed and combined over time. So what’s the big deal if he resembles Jesus? Jesus is the truth, and Santa is based on a lie. But beyond that there is some interesting tidbits in Revelation and in the history of the early church.
Digging Into History
The church started growing rapidly after Jesus went to heaven. In fact it grew so quickly that some of the Greek-speaking Jews complained that their widows were not being taken care of. So the twelve disciples of Jesus suggested they choose seven men to be in charge of this ministry. Among those chosen was a man named Nicolas, a convert from Antioch. Acts 6:5
Apparently Nicolas, some time after this, began to introduce false teachings into the church. The people that followed him were called Nicolaitans (followers of Nicolas). Quite strongly, Revelation says that Jesus, “hates the deeds of the Nicolaitans.” (Rev. 2:6,15) That should give us a big clue as to whether this is a big deal or not.
CLUE: Does anything at Christmas time have to do with “Nick” or “Nicolas”?
How about St. Nicholas (a.k.a. Santa Claus)
Now wait a minute – wasn’t St. Nicholas a priest of the early church who gave gifts to the poor? The truth is, the church very early on had started mixing pagan practices with “Christian” worship. It would be a little hard to explain how St. Nicolas could be a good thing, when the Book of Revelation said Jesus hates the deeds and doctrines of the Nicolaitans – the followers of Nicolas (Rev. 2:6,15). So they had to embellish the life of a very obscure bishop Nicholas who lived many hundreds of years later than Nicolas, the leader of the Nicolaitans, and make him more acceptable and “holy”.
The Nicolaitans believed that men could lead lives of unrestrained indulgence. In other words, do whatever you feel like. It was the idea that the law of God is no longer binding, so as long as you “believed” in your heart, you didn’t actually have to do what the scriptures said. This is where we should be careful about saying, “Well that’s not what Santa means to me.”
There’s more. Another guy by the name of Cerinthus was also a follower of Nicolas. He invented a feast to honor the holy birth of Christ and picked the date December 25. Why would he pick this date? It certainly was not a biblical date. He probably picked it because it was close to the important feasts of two, if not more, groups of pagans – the followers of the sun-god Mithra, who’s birthday was December 25th, and the followers of Saturnus, the god of seed and sowing. These feasts took place during a huge Roman festival called Saturnalia which was celebrated at least 200 years or more before the birth of Christ. But by the middle of the fourth century AD, its festivities had been fully combined with the celebration of Christmas.
What do you think the apostle John thought of Cerinthus? We don’t have to guess because Irenaeus, a bishop in the early church
“There are those who heard from him that John, the disciple of the Lord, going to bathe at Ephesus, and perceiving Cerinthus within, rushed out of the bath-house without bathing, exclaiming, “Let us fly, lest even the bath-house fall down, because Cerinthus, the enemy of the truth, is within!” (Irenaeus. Adversus Haeres. Book III, Chapter 3, Verse 4)
As for me and my house
The question is – who or what will I follow? The truth or the lie. The real thing or the impostor. Let’s choose Jesus, who is the truth and the way.
“As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” Joshua 24:15
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