Colossians 2:8, “Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.”
Yes, I know the setting of this text, but not taking the thought of deception out of context we are warned of tradition of men, not tradition based in truth from Scripture as Paul referred to in II Thessalonians 2:15, “Therefore, brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions which ye have been taught, whether by word, or our epistle.”
I am amazed at the large amount of traditions and traditional thoughts surrounding the Christmas story that are not supported by Scripture, archeological evidences, or historical documentations. As a result, great truths have been unseen, which have great applications and great implications to intended truths. All sorts of ideas exist surrounding almost every aspect of the story, most of them based in personal preconceived ideas with little, if any, validity from supporting data outside of what the writer sees only to reinforce their own idea.
I have come to the understanding that men like to be the authority over Scripture rather than letting Scripture be the authority over them. If the Word of God is silent on an issue, maybe we ought to be silent. So much supposition has become tradition until most fail to be as the Bereans of Paul’s day searching to verify truth (Acts 17:10-11). If the Scriptures are not clear, then be sure that you say so and add “this is what I believe” or “how I see it though the Scripture is not clear.” Being dogmatic when Scripture is not absolutely clear on your idea makes you the authority over what God said and that is dangerous.
I never cease to be amazed at the authority men, even good men, take over Scripture, and when confronted, they most often defend their idea instead of seeking truth on the subject from any source. Pride is a great sin among Bible teachers and must be guarded against, for the best of Christians can be overcome by the temptations of pride. Remember what the Scripture says concerning pride. Proverbs 16:18, “Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall.”
Let me just mention a few traditions in the Christmas story that are simply that, tradition and not fact.
1. The stable where Joseph, Mary and baby Jesus were supposed to have been found by the shepherds.
2. The inn keeper that turned them away or the one that would let a pregnant mother stay in a makeshift hut out back with the livestock.
3. That the shepherds were of no special distinction, just lowly, uneducated, backwards, run of the mill poor shepherds.
4. The three wise men as so often seen in a nativity scene.
5. The magi thought to be religious men.
6. The star that led the wise men to them.
There is no inn keeper found in the Bible. Catholic writers from early centuries made this story up, and then it was retold by protestant writers down through the years. An inn from the earliest days in Israel was the place that every family had on their property, where they trashed out grain and stored it until finished. Then it was taken to their tower or to the market. That is what Boaz was doing in the book of Ruth, Chapter Three, when she slipped in after midnight to lay at his feet. The storage inn was at the side of the trashing floor. All over the hillsides of Israel is seen yet today little holes, and most that visit the land of Israel fail to see them, for they were the family inns for storing grain as gathered at harvest.
Could it be that the article “the” is in the Bible instead of “an” before the word inn for a purpose? (See Luke 2:7.) Could they have been at the family plot of land and the inn was occupied since there were so many of David’s posterity camped out there to pay the tax like Joseph and Mary? This land was on the hillside overlooking the valley of Ephrata. When Scripture is taken at face value, you realize the shepherds didn’t run all over Bethlehem. Luke 2:16, “And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger.”
They were not some run of the mill, so to speak, shepherds but were a part of the priestly order who were sanctified shepherds, who had the responsibility over the flock from which the Paschal lambs for sacrifice came. They used both the swaddling clothes and the manger in their responsibilities with the sacrificial lambs in the Tower of the Flock. So when the angels said in Luke 2:12, “And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger,” they knew where to go, after all this is where God had prophesied the first coming of Jesus would be. Micah 4:8, “And thou, O tower of the flock, the strong hold of the daughter of Zion, unto thee shall it come, even the first dominion; the kingdom shall come to the daughter of Jerusalem.”
At the Tower of the Flock the new born lambs were caught at birth and wiped off with swaddling clothes and then taken to the manger where the chief priest/shepherd would inspect them for spots or blemishes. Each limb and body to the face would be wrapped in swaddling clothes and set aside for the prescribed time, then re-inspected before sent to the temple for sacrifice.
They knew where to go for the angels all but called the name of the place. Our Saviour was born in the same place and wrapped in the same clothes and laid in the same manger as the lambs of sacrifice that had represented him for over 1000 years had been born. John 1:29, “The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.” This should not be any surprise for we find this in Revelation 13:8, “And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.” This had been the plan of God all along
Concerning those wise men, there were three gifts not three magi, who were not religious men but representatives of the nations on the east of the Roman Empire, coming to pay homage to the new born King, not the Saviour of the world. The gift was one that represented submission to the kingdom that the future king would have and their nations would not need subjugated. It represented that they thought He was God on earth not in the sense of Immanuel, as He was, but from the political standpoint as all world leaders of empires was supposed, in paganism, to have been.
The gift was one that had been given on other occasions, starting with Ramses of Egypt after 20 years of war with Babylon and represented that he was seen as the God in manhood as the greatest ruler of his time. It was called the gift of Ramses for that very reason. History records several men after that receiving the same gift in recognition of the same.
Daniel was a great teacher of religion and philosophy as well as science. His students spread across the eastern countries and were looking for the prophesied coming God/Ruler He had spoken of in Daniel 7:7-14. From historical documents from four historians, one of them riding with the camel train, and from court transcripts of the trial of Herod before the Roman Senate, there were as many as 1000 camels traveling with all the supporting personal, including military protection. They came almost two years after the birth and not to any stable with a baby but a young child in the house. Matthew 2:11, “And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense, and myrrh.”
There are so many truths from the Christmas story that have been missed due to tradition. Let us beware for they are, no doubt, on purpose by the master of deception, since the foundational truth of the virgin birth is of the upmost importance to our eternal destiny as Christians. Many other truths are there for the finding, and they will thrill your heart as you see so many shadows of the redemption process fulfilled or brought to light by those truths.
The Word of God is so stirring and accurate, and even when you cannot fully comprehend what is before your eyes, it doesn’t change the fact that if God said it then it will be fulfilled to the minute detail. Gods Word says this in Proverbs 21:1, “The king’s heart is in the hand of the LORD, as the rivers of water: he turneth it whithersoever he will.” God moved in the affairs of the entire Roman Empire and the federated nations to the east to fulfill prophecy concerning the birth of our Saviour. The movements of the stars, the taxation of Rome and many other truths concerning the Christmas story are there to be found all bringing a new and greater appreciation to the truth of this special birth.
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