With only 18 days left until that dreaded or wonderful day of Christmas (depending on what you believe and practice), I'll offer up this reprint from a few years ago.
Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise, Matthew 1:18. It is interesting to note that the manner of Jesus Christ's birth is well documented but the timing is purposely obscured. I know that we have people who claim that they can trace back the course of Abia (Luke 1:5 and 2nd Chronicles 8:14) and by noting Zacharias's time of duty, they claim that they can establish a date. The odds of going back and setting the time when Solomon established the courses, keeping track of the many times when all temple worship ceased, understanding how Ezra reestablished those courses and then understanding how the Pharisees reestablished those course and keeping track of it on a lunar calendar rather than a solar calendar is quite beyond their ability. The persistence of that fable has become its own Christmas myth.
There is no Jewish feast and there is no prophecy that foretells the time of his birth. It is done on Gentile time. To understand that, keep in mind that Jews were forbidden to take a census ever since Moses took the original count in the Book of Exodus. When thou takest the sum of the children of Israel after their number, then shall they give every man a ransom for his soul unto the LORD, when thou numberest them; that there be no plague among them, when thou numberest them, Exodus 30:12. One of David's greatest failings was to have ordered Joab to number Israel.
Jesus Christ was numbered twice in his life. He was numbered at his birth when his parents went to be taxed (when Romans counted their people) and he was numbered with the transgressors in death (Isaiah 53:12, Matthew 15:28). His life was bracketed with Gentile numbering. His life in between his birth and his death was as written, he was holy undefiled and separate from sinners (Hebrews 7:26).
We have those who object to the "mass" in Christmas. They see that as proof positive that Christmas is some Roman Catholic residue left over for gullible Protestants or Baptists. They do so in ignorance of their native tongue. The Oxford English Dictionary defines Mass as in its usage in a compound: As the second element in compounds: a specified ecclesiastical festival, esp. the feast day of a particular saint. Now surviving chiefly as a combining form, e.g. in Candlemas, Christmas, Lammas, Michaelmas. Even Noah Webster the patron saint of Fundamentalism defines mass primarily in its usage as a day: M'ASS, noun [Low Latin missa. The word signifies primarily leisure, cessation from labor, from the Latin missus, remissus, like the Latin ferioe; hence a feast or holiday.]. Its usage as a Roman Catholic celebration is a secondary definition.
Of course they go apoplectic over the Christmas tree. For the customs of the people are vain: for one cutteth a tree out of the forest, the work of the hands of the workman, with the axe. They deck it with silver and with gold; they fasten it with nails and with hammers, that it move not, Jeremiah 10:3, 4. I have a standing offer to any one offended by my tree; I'll give them $100.00 for every piece of gold or silver they find on my tree. When the bible means "decked with ornaments" it will say "with ornaments" (Ezekiel 16:11 and Isaiah 61:10). Jeremiah 10 describes an idol decked (covered) with silver and gold and carried through the streets. To call the object of Jeremiah 10 a Christmas tree is as sloppy with scripture as the many denominations that Fundamentalists love to criticize.
The angels and the shepherds celebrated the birth of Jesus Christ, but somehow it’s supposed to be wrong if we do it. I understand that the world has corrupted its celebration in every way that it can. They have corrupted the bible, but I haven't gotten rid of my bible. They have corrupted the name of Jesus Christ but I have not ceased honoring that name. In short, the world corrupts everything of God. Part of my job as a Christian is to uphold the things of God in righteousness.
When then was that birth? We know that it happened at the same time as the Roman taxation (which is when censuses were taken). And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed, Luke 2:1. Reason with me for a moment. If you were a Roman Emperor and you wanted to give an order to tax the whole world, how much time would you give them? The decree had to go forth from Rome and reach the innermost villages of England, the Baltics, France, Germany, North Africa and Palestine. The decree had to be carried forth on ships and then work its way inland by various means and still give the inhabitants a reasonable amount of time to get to their native cities.
The Romans were expert in government. One of their expertises was the usage of a calendar. Is it not reasonable to think that a decree that needed such a great time and effort to disseminate and then to fulfill would conclude at the end of a Roman year? The Roman year originally ended at the winter solstice. With the slippage of their holidays in their usage of an inaccurate calendar, eventually the winter solstice was no longer at the end of a year. What did happen at the end of a year was that every person who had to pay a tax by the end of time period hasted to fulfill the law.
Can anyone else think of a reason why Joseph would put a woman swollen with child on the back of a donkey and make her ride 90 miles to Bethlehem? Why wouldn't any reasonable man who cared for the life of his wife and her unborn child wait until the child was born before undertaking such an arduous journey? The only reason that makes sense is that he had waited but could wait no longer. He came to Jerusalem at the end of a Roman year.
There are two principal objections to a December 25th birth for Jesus Christ. The first is laughable. People can't understand why Shepherds would be in the field in the winter. In our days of internet that should be easy. Go to the Jerusalem Post's website and look up the temperatures. It is usually in the 60 degree Fahrenheit range as a low at night. Even if it was colder, study the habits of people whose towns are suddenly packed with visitors such as Atlanta, Georgia or Salt Lake City, Utah during the Olympics. They rented out every available garage and shed. If someone would rent your manger for good money because the inns were full, where would your sheep be? Don't be stupid, they would be out in a field even if it was freezing out (which it was not).
The second objection is the pagan nature of December 25th historically. Baal's birthday was December 25th and the Romans celebrated the feast of Saturnalia on that day. Since the devil vowed, I will be like the most High (Isaiah 14:14), what day do you think he would be most apt to defile? If I was looking for a Gentile time period for the birth of Jesus Christ, I would look for a date at the end of a year and I would look for a date that devils had sought to defile. Consider the ancient festival of Easter (Ishtar) that was celebrated prior to the establishing of the Passover and prior to the resurrection of Jesus Christ at the same lunar time schedule. It is no coincidence that such a date was defiled by devils. The same devils who cried out, What have we to do with thee, Jesus, thou Son of God? art thou come hither to torment us before the time? Matthew 8:29, understood timing. They defiled two great Christian feast days before they ever came. From me and my family, Merry Christmas!