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                    THE CELEBRATION OF

                         BIRTHDAYS

DOES THE CELEBRATION OF YOUR LOVED ONE'S BIRTHDAY MEAN YOU 
ARE WORSHIPPING GOD WITH PAGAN PRACTICES?  DOES THE CELEBRATION
OF BIRTHDAYS COME UNDER THE INSTRUCTIONS OF DEUT.12:29-32?  DID
GOD EVER CELEBRATE A BIRTHDAY?  PAUL WAS INSPIRED TO TELL US TO
"PROVE ALL THINGS, HOLD FAST TO THAT WHICH IS GOOD."  LET'S
SEARCH THE SCRIPTURES AND PROVE WHAT IS THE TRUTH OF THE MATTER
ON THIS SUBJECT OF CELEBRATING BIRTHDAYS.

                            by

                        Keith Hunt





   Some in the various branches of the Sabbath keeping Churches
of God (ministers and lay persons) and a few other denominations
of Christendom, have taught in the past and may still teach in
the present, that celebrating ANY person's birthday is WRONG - is
practicing heathenism, worshipping God with customs He condemns,
and so is SIN to observe birthdays.
   Certain sections of Scripture have been put forth by those who
hold such views, as "proof texts" for their understanding as to
why birthday celebrations are wrong.
   It is not my intention in this study to belittle or attack
anyone for their personal belief as to what they understand the
Bible to be saying on this or any particular subject. All must
stand before the judgment seat of Christ and give account to Him
alone. And Paul was inspired to say that "whatsoever is not of
faith is sin."
   On the other hand, God's word plainly teaches us "come let us
reason together, says the Lord." And, "study to show thyself
approved unto God...rightly dividing(under-standing) the word
of truth."

   God's word is written in a way that little children can
understand all the basic foundational truths that lead to
salvation through Christ Jesus (2 Tim.3:14,15). You do not
need a Ph.D. in theology to understand the way to be saved, or
how to live the way of life that is pleasing to God.
   Oh, there are a few things you will need to bear in mind. You
will need a "poor" and "contrite" spirit - a humble teachable
attitude of mind. You will need to "tremble" before the word of
God. Only to such persons will the Lord look - Isaiah 66:2.
   You will need to acknowledge what some of the purposes are in
the Lord giving us His word. Those purposes can be found in 2
Timothy 3:16,17.
   You will need to "hunger and thirst after righteousness"
(Mat.5:6) to be filled. You will need to put away "my idea" or
posture of "reading into" verses things God never intended for
you to read into. We must be careful not to ADD or DIMINISH from
the word of the Lord (Deut.12:32).
   You will need to read God's word as a child reads it.
Realizing the Eternal says what He means and means what He says.
That the way to salvation is made plain. That His laws,
commandments, statutes, are written plainly and repeated over and
over again.
   What constitutes SIN is also just as plainly revealed. God
does not want us in any doubt as to what He hates, abhors and
says is SIN against Him.
   You will need to be willing to read and study the WHOLE Bible
on any subject, before drawing the conclusion of the matter. You
will need to be "silent" on the matter of what constitutes SIN
when God is silent, and not start drawing up your own set of sins
as the scribes and Pharisees were guilty of doing. You will need
to say "thus says the Lord" when God says "thus says the Lord."

   On questions such as "celebrating a loved one's birthday"
together with questions such as: Can I celebrate Mother's Day? 
It is wrong to go to the Theatre? Is card playing a sin? Can I
celebrate a wedding anniversary? Is dancing a sin?  We need to
keep in mind TWO basic points:
    1) Is such DIRECTLY taken from the pagan worship practice of
nations towards their false gods and are we going to use it now
as a custom to worship the true God with?
    2) Does God's word contain ANY direct "thou shalt not" or "it
is sin to the Lord" in regards to such questions as above?
   If  the answer is NO to the points just given, we need to
PROCEED VERY CAREFULLY in labeling "what is sin."

    Of course many things NOT labeled as SIN by the Lord in His
word, can BECOME sin. Going to the theatre can be sin if you are
going to watch sexual immorality as part of the entertainment. My
questions previously given were not from that stance but from
a PER SE view - "Is card playing sin per se?"
       Under that platform we must use the two basic points
aforementioned.

   We will need to use EXAMPLES in the Bible with WISDOM. Certain
questions need to be asked: Is this written by the author as just
historic fact, coupled with certain specific facts of time and
circumstances, in which those things are NOT mentioned to relate
to us SIN or RIGHTEOUSNESS? Can we show by the CONTEXT that God
is giving this example to us for the purpose of showing us SIN or
RIGHTEOUSNESS? Can we find other plain verses in the Bible that
prove the example is sin or righteousness? Does the example
contain within itself any words proving or saying that "such and
such" is sin or righteousness? Are there other examples that
would teach the opposite to our conclusion, if so, we need to
re-evaluate our conclusion.

   Many of our questions and problems with understanding God's
word would VANISH away if we would only keep in mind the things
I've just stated.

   The basic truths of the basic doctrines of God are only hid
from the wise and prudent of this world, from those who will not
repent and humble themselves under the mighty hand of the Lord.
   None of the things I've mentioned to help you understand the
plain truths of the scriptures need a college degree in theology.
   Jesus said His Spirit would guide us into all truth. And He
also promised that we would know the truth and the truth would
MAKE US FREE!


JOSEPH AND THE BUTLER AND BAKER WITH PHARAOH
   
   Turn to Genesis 40. Verse one tells us the butler and baker
OFFENDED the king of Egypt. They were put into prison (v.2-3).
Now search the context,  can you find WHAT the offenses were that
the butler and baker did to get themselves on the wrong side of
the king? No! It is not given to us.
   Moses, the author of Genesis, was not inspired by God to give
the offenses. That ALONE should tell us something. God was not
having Moses record these happenings in chapter 40 to emphasize
the offenses of the butler and baker, so we could gather some
teaching from it, to help us stay out of getting thrown into
prison.
   God is not putting emphasis on the offenses, so He is not
trying to have us ascertain the right or wrong of what the
Pharaoh eventually did about them.

   The teaching and lesson here in Gen.40 is not whether the king
was evil or good in hanging the baker and restoring the butler -
it is not WHAT DAY all this was carried out on. The MAIN PURPOSE
and instruction of chapter 40 is entirely DIFFERENT than the
nature of the offenses and the end result of the lives of the two
men.

   You  can read the chapter for yourself, I think you will be
able to see the overall theme, lesson, and purpose, especially if
you continue reading into chapter 41.
   In teaching us the main lesson of God using Joseph to
interpret dreams, Moses added certain historical facts of the
time and circumstances, to give BODY to the story, just as many
historians may do today when relating lessons (main ones) from
WW1 or WW2.
   Moses' main thread and lesson is evident. His lack of emphasis
or comment on the nature of the offenses or any comment about the
justice or unjustness(evil) of the king in his sentencing of the
two men, one to life and restoration, one to death, is also just
as evident - it is not there.
   The historical marker of the day(king's birthday), the
sentencing that was issued, and the carrying it out, is also
given without any emphasis or added comment.
   It was only given as historical filler to the MAIN thread is
evident by a number of points:
   1) As before stated, the offenses are not recorded as to what
they were. How bad or evil each were in relationship to the laws
of Egypt, laws of God, or to each other. 2) The story does not
bear upon any fact or conclusion as to the king's righteousness
in determining the men's fate for their offenses. 3) The argument
that the king did evil on his birthday (hence birthday
celebrations are evil or sin) can at best said to be only
human speculation, and at worse, reading something into this
chapter that is NOT there, to uphold a pre-conceived idea, based
upon a false premise. 4) The human reasoning of point 3 can be
completely reversed and turned up-side-down by the very same
human logic. As the nature of the offenses are not given, I could
reason that the baker's offense was F A R WORSE than the butler's
offense. I could speculate that under Egyptian law the baker's
offense was worth the death penalty. I could further argue based
on my speculation, that the king acted WITHIN the law of his
empire(maybe even God's law) in executing the baker.
   Based upon all  this human reasoning I have argued that the
king was 100% righteous on his BIRTHDAY as he handed down his
decrees on the two men. Hence I could build a case on this one
section of scripture that shows GOOD RIGHTEOUS JUDGMENTS were
performed on this birthday, so my conclusion would be, birthdays
should be observed!

   In a court of law the above would all be based on what could
be called "human speculative circumstantial evidence" - no hard
cold facts to go on either way. One claiming the king did EVIL on
his birthday  and so birthday celebrations should be banned. The
other claiming righteous judgment for the king and so exalting
birthday observance.
   Where does all this leave us? In the middle of "no man's land"
as BOTH sides could be correct - the king did evil or he did
righteousness.


   But I maintain, Moses was not in the argument. He did not
relate these short brief historical facts of offenses, the king's
judgment, the day the judgments were passed(his birthday), to
teach that observing or remembering a persons birthday is evil or
sin, or righteousness.
   These historical facts were added to the real lesson of the
chapter as passing fill-in comments without any other doctrinal
truths trying to be taught to us.
   Those who say a doctrinal truth of not observing birthdays is
here given, will emphasize the DEATH of the baker on the king's
birthday. They have reasoned(without any evidence) this was WRONG
or EVIL of the king, and so based upon this foundation of
pure human reasoning, they proclaim God is against birthday
celebrations.
   What they completely OVERLOOK and certainly do not bring
before their readers or students, is the fact as recorded, that
the BUTLER was shown MERCY from death(if he was worthy of death
by his offense - and that is not known, as it is not detailed)
and RE-STORED to his former position. It could be argued from
this, that from human reasoning, the king DID GOOD, showed
KINDNESS, ACTED with MERCY, and that on his birthday.
   So if I wanted to emphasize this fact and forget the other(as
if it wasn't there) of a perceived evil by the king(which can not
be proved it was an evil act) then I could use this chapter in
Genesis to teach we should observe birthdays, because the king
did GOOD on his day.

   Do you see how human reasonings could argue from both sides of
the issue using this chapter 40 of Genesis?

   Moses in writing did not enter the argument either way. He
didn't even give ENOUGH facts to START the argument, let alone
answer it. I must adhere to my previously mentioned statement:
The offenses, kings birthday, judgment, and death/restoration, for
the two men, were mere historical facts related in the main story
lesson and life of Joseph.

   God usually tells us somewhere in His word(often the first
time it appears) what SIN is. Birthdays come OFTEN within a
family circle, not just once a year like the religious worship of
Dec.25th. It is hard for me to conceive(because of this fact) God
would not have some plain, easy to understand verse somewhere in
His word that said something like this: YOU SHALL NOT CELEBRATE
THE BIRTHDAY OF YOUR SON OR DAUGHTER - YOU SHALL NOT OBSERVE THE
DAY OF ANYONE'S BIRTHDAY - ALL WHO OBSERVE BIRTHDAYS ARE AN
ABOMINATION UNTO ME.

   If birthday celebrations are evil and sin, of and by
themselves - per se - then I would expect to find a command
somewhere in God's word like to what I have given above. But
I HAVE NEVER FOUND IT! You see if you can find it or one that
comes even close to it.

   Here in Genesis 40, the FIRST time the word "birthday" is used
in the Bible, was God's opportunity through Moses to make it
plain to us that He did not want His people celebrating
birthdays. If such observing is EVIL and SIN then the Lord could
have easily inspired Moses to put within verses 20 to 22
some plain words to tell us so. Moses, in relating the historical
facts of verses 20 through 23 could have easily wrote something
like: The Lord does not want His people observing birthdays. 
Such words can not be found anywhere in the entire chapter.
Now if Moses missed his chance in chapter 40 to tell us that
the Lord hates anyone (especially His true children) observing
birthdays. If Moses missed out in Genesis to relate to us that
God says such observing is evil and sin, then he had ample time
and space to plainly tell us this fact in his writing of Exodus,
Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy.
   Those books are full of the proclaiming of the law of the
Lord. God gave MANY MANY laws to Israel through Moses. Laws
governing all aspects of their lives. In those books the Lord
proclaims His holy commandments, and spells out what IS sin!
   Many SMALL laws are proclaimed. Many physical laws are
expounded. Much DETAIL is used at times. Yet in all this there is
not ONE WORD where God said it was sin or evil or an abomination
to celebrate the birthday of a loved one.
   I guess not, for as I will show you later, God Himself
celebrated a birthday in no uncertain way or manner.

   In summary. There is not one word in Genesis 40 that says
celebrating a birthday even with a festive feast for others, is,
of itself, evil or sin. There is not one word in that chapter
that states Pharaoh did sin or evil in the sight of God by
celebrating his birthday and giving a feast. There is no word
that Pharaoh did ANY evil in what is recorded in chapter 40.
   The offenses were towards the king. The nature of the offenses
are not stated. It is mere human speculation to assert the king
did evil on his birthday by hanging the baker. The Egyptian laws
and justice system and how it operated is not stated. The
account does show a prison holding period for the butler and
baker before final judgment on their offenses. One man, namely
the butler, was deemed worthy of full restoration to his former
position.
   The main story thread is how Joseph was given the gift of
dream interpretation, which led into the events of chapter 41.
   The books of the law(first 5 books of the Bible) contain NOT
ONE WORD against the celebrating of a loved one's birthday.


DEUTERONOMY 12:29-32

   The Church of God has I believe correctly understood this
passage of scripture. Israel was both a NATION and a CHURCH under
God. Their religion was a national state religion governing
everyone in the nation.
   What the Lord was stating to the nation of Israel in these
verses of chapter 12, is that they were not to look at the
NATIONS around them, to see what national religious festivals
they were using for worship rites towards their false gods. They
were NOT to adopt those festivals and use them to worship the
true God with. Of course they were not to do so because God had
already given to Israel HIS NATIONAL RELIGIOUS FESTIVALS(Ex.12;
13;23; Lev.23). Any other would have been adding to what God had
revealed and commanded. Also many of the pagan nations festivals
were EVIL and SATANIC, directly, or in-directly breaking many of
God's holy laws. Plus, other national church/state religious
worship festivals towards the Lord, would have only added
confusion and a smoke screen to the plumb line of God's festivals
and plan of salvation they were meant to teach.

   The Eternal has only ever given His 7 annual festivals for His
people and His Church. He does not want their meaning CLOUDED by
other national festivals that His people would like to adopt from
other nations, many of which contain out right lies, falsehoods,
deceptions, evil and sin.
   Even if some religious festivals of some nation did not have
any sin or falsehood in it, but could be proved to be pure, the
Lord is here in these verses prohibiting His people from adopting
it and worshipping Him with it.
   We are not to ADD or to TAKE AWAY from the national religious
festivals that the Lord has given to us, to directly worship Him.
   The national religious festivals of our nation(that are not
God's festivals) are WRONG for the Church of God to observe on
TWO counts:

   1) They can all be shown to contain lies, falsehoods,
deceptions, evil to one degree or another, satanic worship of
demons, mystic power, or false gods. A little time spent in
a library with the Encyclopedias will show that the religious
festivals of Jan. lst; Valentines Day; Lent and Easter; All Souls
Day or Halloween; Christmas Day; and yes, are you ready for this
- Thanksgivinq Day, are FULL of and were FOUNDED upon MANY of the
aforementioned sins of lies, falsehoods, deceptions, and satanic
or false god worship.
   Not one of the above national festivals were given by God. Not
one was ever founded upon looking into the word of God. All had
their origin in the carnal human satanic influenced mind of man,
as he was led to worship false gods or the true God in his own
way, of his own device.
   It is possible to believe you are worshipping the true God,
yet doing it all in vain, Jesus said so! When we worship the Lord
with national religious festivals that were never ordained of
Him, are not from His word, we worship Him in vain (Mark 7:6-13).

   2) If some of our national religious festivals could be proved
to be 100% pure and sinless, as long as they are not the national
religious festivals God has given to us in His word, we can not
as His collective Church, observe them, for we are clearly told
in these verses of Deut.12 NOT TO ADD or TAKE AWAY from the
festivals God gave to worship Him with.

   His national religious festivals MUST NEVER be substituted,
deleted, or smoke-screened with others that would DISTRACT from
the pure and wonderful meaning and plan of salvation as outlined
in the 7 annual festivals He gave to the church/state of Israel.

   As SHOCKING as it may be to many, I can prove to you from
history that the national religious festival(it was originally a
pagan religious festival) in North America(instituted on
religious grounds to worship God) called THANKSGIVING DAY comes
under both of the above two points.
   God has a feast of HARVEST THANKSGIVING - the feast of
TABERNACLES!!
   Man, through paganism, has substituted his festival in the
place of God's ordained THANKSGIVING feast, and so Satan has
deceived and smoke-screened a truth and festival of the Eternal
God's.
   The world has been deceived into observing a false religious
pagan "thanksgiving" festival, while God's ordained feast of
thanksgiving has been "done away" by most religious leaders and
church denominations. Truly as Revelation 12:9 says, Satan has
deceived the WHOLE world.

   I have a full in-depth article on the true origin of
"Thanksgiving Day" for those who desire the truth of the matter.

   I have used the phrase "national religious festivals" many
times, and it was for a purpose that I did so.
   God gave 7 national religious festivals to Israel. It was to
those religious festivals to worship Him by that there was to be
NO adding or taking away.
   It is not wrong for a nation to have national HISTORIC days of
observances. Those days are not DIRECTLY used to worship Him(God)
with.
   The 4th of July is remembered as the day the USA was born as
an independent nation. It was not taken from paganism. It is not
mystic in nature. It is not a deception. It was an historic day
in the life of the USA.
   November the 11th is the day set aside to remember all those
who died in the wars of WW1 and WW2. It is an historical day in
the life of the world.
   Such days are not "religious paganism" nor do they
"smoke-screen" the religious festivals of God.
   There is nothing in the word of the Lord against nations
remembering and honoring and setting aside certain days of
HISTORIC importance to them. Such times in the life of a nation
is not what is being talked about by God in Deut. 12:29-32.
   Judah eventually had many national historic days in its
calendar - the feast of PURIM is to remember the events contained
in the book of Esther. That historic time is very important to
the Jews everywhere to remember, as is the 4th of July for USA
citizens.
   National historic days of nations are separate from God's
national religious festivals that He gave to His people as a way
to worship Him. God's RELIGIOUS worship - the way to worship Him
within the laws, commandments, statutes, and spirit and truth, is
what is NOT TO BE ADDED to or TAKEN AWAY from. That is the basic
religious NUTSHELL of the whole word of God.

 
   Now,  celebrating a loved one's BIRTHDAY is NOT a religious
national church festival used to directly worship God with.
   We are not directly using a birthday celebration to effect
worship with God. With any one of the religious festivals of God
we ARE!
   But not with a birthday celebration.
   First, such are usually a PRIVATE PERSONAL FAMILY matter. We
celebrate birthdays with those who are CLOSE to us, in a loving
personal way. The whole Church of God or nation is not usually
involved, unless you are very famous, or get to be 100
years old.
   Secondly, it isn't a national religious observance. It is more
a personal APPRECIATION from one to another individual,
especially within a family. Certainly you may give thanks to God
on that birthday, for the one who was born on that day, but are
we not to worship God on EVERY day of the year, and to give Him
thanks each day? Yes, of course we are!  
                   
      Celebrating birthdays are not used as a national religious
festival as comes under Deut. 12:29-32.

   Thirdly, the birth and the day it happened upon, of your loved
one, was not taken from PAGANISM. It was not tied to religious
lies, deception, false gods, or the like. You may have given
birth to your son or daughter as a baptized member of the Church
of God, and on the Sabbath day. Nothing about that birth was EVIL
or sin. You are under GRACE and the Sabbath day is HOLY.
   I give this example to illustrate the point.
   The birth of your child IS A GIFT FROM GOD!

   The whole process - conception and birth is a MIRACLE! It is
the will and blessing of the Lord for man and woman to marry and
REPRODUCE, and fill the whole earth!
   God wants mankind to become LIKE HIM! He is reproducing
Himself through the BIRTH of mankind. When you understand the
AWESOME potential that each tiny baby can become, when you
understand God wants human birth so His plan and will for
expanding His family will be accomplished, then you will realize
God the Father REJOICES with every child that is born into this
world. HOW COULD IT NOT BE SO ? Every child born is precious to
God, each is a potential miracle of miracles, each is a potential
God being - to become a member of the very family called God.
   Truly, when you know this truth, you will know the Father and
our elder brother Christ Jesus and all the holy angels in heaven,
will be singing for joy at all human births.
   Your birth is precious to your mother and father. Your son's
or daughter's birth is precious to you. Your wife or husband is
thankful you were born. You are thankful your parents were born
for without them you would not be, and you would not be able to
become a member of the God family. You are thankful for the birth
of your brothers and sisters (I hope you are, I never had any so
can not experience having them).

   The literal birth and the literal day it happened on for all
the above had NOTHING to do with EVIL. Births are given of God,
and days were created by God! Celebrating a loved one's birth is
showing HONOR, and loving RESPECT and APPRECIATION for that
person and what they can potentially BECOME, because God gave
them life.

   Celebrating a  birthday is no different than celebrating a
wedding anniversary, or a baptism, or a graduation.
   You celebrate because something special in this physical life
has happened which has given you happiness and joy. With it, as a
Christian, you also praise and thank the Lord for that blessing.
   For family members birthdays are especially meaningful. Each
year you remember that special day, you let your loved one know
how happy you are that they were born and they still live. It is
a time to recall memories, to strengthen love, to re-assure
commitment, to be thankful to God they are there, that they are
alive, that they were born.
   Like Mother's Day, Father's Day, Grandparent's Day,
Secretary's Day, Boss' Day, the Birthday is one more time to
demonstrate love, in ACTIONS and DEEDS and PRACTICALITY.
   God the Father showed love and appreciation in a special way
on a special birthday, but more of that truth later.

                       To be continued
            ....................................

Written November 1995
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