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CHRISTMAS APOLOGETICS: THE BIBLICAL FOUNDATION FOR DECEMBER 25 AS THE BIRTH OF OUR LORD! Part 1 The Desire of All Nations

Posted by catholicfaithdefender on December 27, 2008

CHRISTMAS APOLOGETICS: THE BIBLICAL FOUNDATION FOR DECEMBER 25 AS THE BIRTH OF OUR LORD! Part 1 The Desire of All Nations

By: Fr. Fr. Abe Arganiosa, CRS

Link: http://thesplendorofthechurch.blogspot.com/2008/12/christmas-apologetics-biblical.html

* This argument for the Biblical Foundation of December 25 based on the Prophecy of Haggai actually came from Bro. Mars Llasos, one of the premier Catholic Apologists in the Philippines. Further details and analysis have been added by Fr. Abe, CRS to support his interpretation of the Biblical text of the Prophet Haggai which is actually universally acclaimed in the liturgical life of both Catholics and Protestants. Our gratitude to our beloved and much admired Atty. Marwil Llasos.

The Adoration of the Magi by Fra Angelico

* Please bear in mind that the date Dec. 25 is not considered by the Catholic Church as the exact date of the Birth of the Messiah. We don’t know exactly the date of the Lord’s Birth. However, the Catholic Church has chosen Dec. 25-January 6 as the celebration of the Nativity of the Lord not because of the pagan festival honoring the Sun-God but because of Biblical and Historical Reasons testified by the early Christian authors and documents. Here are some of those reasons:

The Prophecy of the Prophet Haggai
Haggai 2:7-10 (King James Version)

7And I will shake all nations, and the desire of all nations shall come: and I will fill this house with glory, saith the LORD of hosts. 8The silver is mine, and the gold is mine, saith the LORD of hosts. 9The glory of this latter house shall be greater than of the former, saith the LORD of hosts: and in this place will I give peace, saith the LORD of hosts. 10In the four and twentieth day of the ninth month, in the second year of Darius, came the word of the LORD by Haggai the prophet, saying,

Take note that Haggai 2:7 prophesied that “The desire of all nations will come”. Who is the desire of all nations? THE MESSIAH. This is undoubtedly a Messianic prophecy. And both Protestants and Catholics recognize this. In fact, Protestants immortalized this belief in their classic Christmas songs composed by Charles Wesley – the co-founder of Methodist Church. One of those citations is found in the lyrics of HARK! THE HERALD ANGELS SING:

Hark! The Herald Angels Sing” is a Christmas hymn or carol written by Charles Wesley, the brother of John Wesley and his co-founder of Methodist Church and, by implication, all of the many denominations that flowed out of the revival that was Methodism.

This great hymn of the Faith first appeared in a work entitled Hymns and Sacred Poems in 1739. The original opening couplet was “Hark! how all the welkin rings / Glory to the King of Kings”. The version known today is the result of alterations by various hands, most notably George Whitfield, Wesley’s co-worker, who changed the opening couplet to the familiar one we know today. [Source: Wikipedia]

Hark! The herald angels sing,

“Glory to the newborn King;

Peace on earth, and mercy mild,

God and sinners reconciled!”

Joyful, all ye nations rise,

Join the triumph of the skies;

With th’angelic host proclaim,

“Christ is born in Bethlehem!”

Refrain

Hark! The herald angels sing,

“Glory to the newborn King!”

Christ, by highest Heav’n adored;

Christ the everlasting Lord;

Late in time, behold Him come,

Offspring of a virgin’s womb.

Veiled in flesh the Godhead see;

Hail th’incarnate Deity,

Pleased with us in flesh to dwell,

Jesus our Emmanuel.

Refrain

Hail the heav’nly Prince of Peace!

Hail the Sun of Righteousness!

Light and life to all He brings,

Ris’n with healing in His wings.

Mild He lays His glory by,

Born that man no more may die.

Born to raise the sons of earth,

Born to give them second birth.

Refrain

Come, Desire of nations, come,

Fix in us Thy humble home;

Rise, the woman’s conqu’ring Seed,

Bruise in us the serpent’s head.

Now display Thy saving power,

Ruined nature now restore;

Now in mystic union join

Thine to ours, and ours to Thine.

Refrain

Adam’s likeness, Lord, efface,

Stamp Thine image in its place:

Second Adam from above,

Reinstate us in Thy love.

Let us Thee, though lost, regain,Thee,

the Life, the inner man:

O, to all Thyself impart,

Formed in each believing heart.

Refrain

Fr. Abe and Bro. Franz answering questions about Christmas in The Splendor of the Church TV program
It is very obvious that John Wesley cited the prophecy of the Prophet Haggai almost verbatim and at the same time admitted that Jesus is the Seed of the Woman referred to by God the Father in Genesis 3:15. Thus, the head of Methodist Church accepted the Catholic position that the Proto-Evangelion [Gen 3:15] is actually a prophecy referring to Jesus [The Woman’s Seed], Mary [The Woman], Satan [The Serpent] and Sin [The Serpent’s Seed].

Another Christmas Hymn of Charles Wesley:

Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus

Text: Charles Wesley, 1707-1788
Music: Rowland H. Pritchard;
harm. from The English Hymnal
Tune: HYFRYDOL, Meter: 87.87 D

1. Come, thou long expected Jesus,
born to set thy people free;
from our fears and sins release us,
let us find our rest in thee.
Israel’s strength and consolation,
hope of all the earth thou art;
dear desire of every nation,
joy of every longing heart.
2. Born thy people to deliver,
born a child and yet a King,
born to reign in us forever,
now thy gracious kingdom bring.
By thine own eternal spirit
rule in all our hearts alone;
by thine all sufficient merit,
raise us to thy glorious throne
· Note 1: The English speaking Roman Catholics are also singing this song in their Liturgical Prayers. This is contained in the Volume 1 [ADVENT SEASON] of the Roman Breviary in English for priests, religious and the consecrated persons.
· Note 2: The Roman Catholics are also expressing the same thoughts in their liturgical prayers. For instance, the much beloved Hymn for Advent Liturgy: O COME, O COME EMMANUEL. This Hymn is written originally in Latin [12th century] but the English translation used by both Lutherans and English speaking Catholics is the one done by John Neal, published in 1854. It also recognizes Jesus = The Emmanuel as “The Desire of the Nations”. Lutherans testify to this belief in their classic and internationally famous Hymnal:

The favourite O Come, O Come Emmanuel carol was originally written in Latin text in the 12th Century. The author of the words and composer to the music of O Come, O Come Emmanuel is unknown. It is, however believed that the melody was of French origin and added to the text a hundred years later. The Latin was translated into English by John Mason Neale in 1851.
Music: Veni Em­man­u­el, from a 15th Cen­tu­ry pro­cess­ion­al of French Fran­cis­can nuns (the set­ting for the fu­ner­al hymn Libera me); ar­ranged by Thom­as Hel­more in the Hymnal Not­ed, Part II (Lon­don: 1856).
The lyrics echo a num­ber of pro­phet­ic themes. The ti­tle comes from the well known Isai­ah 7:14: “Be­hold, a vir­gin shall con­ceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Im­man­u­el.” Im­man­u­el is He­brew for “God with us.” The “Rod of Jesse” refers to Isai­ah 11:1: “There shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jes­se”; Jesse was the fa­ther of Da­vid, se­cond king of Is­ra­el. “Day-Spring” comes from Za­cha­ri­as, fa­ther of John the Bap­tist, in Luke 1:78: “The day­spring from on high has vis­it­ed us.” “Thou Key of Da­vid” is in Isai­ah 22:22: “The key of the house of Da­vid will I lay up­on his shoul­der,” which in turn re­fers to Isai­ah 9:6 “The gov­ern­ment shall be up­on His shoul­der.” The ‘Desire of the Nations’ of course is Haggai 2:7
O, Come, O, Come Emmanuel
Translated: John Mason Neale, 1818-66
O, come, O, come, Emmanuel,
And ransom captive Israel,
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appear.
Refrain:
Rejoice! Rejoice! O Israel,
to thee shall come Emmanuel

O, come, our Wisdom from on high,
Who ordered all things mightily;
To us the path of knowledge show,
and teach us in her ways to go. [Refrain]
O, come, O, come, our Lord of might,
Who to your tribes on Sinai’s height
In ancient times gave holy law,
In cloud and majesty and awe. [Refrain]

O, come O Rod of Jesse’s stem,
From ev’ry foe deliver them
That trust your mighty pow’r to save;
Bring them in vict’ry through the grave. [Refrain]
O, come, O Key of David, come,
And open wide our heav’nly home;
Make safe the way that leads on high,
And close the path to misery. [Refrain]
O, come, our Dayspring from on high,
And cheer us by your drawing nigh,
Disperse the gloomy clouds of night,
And death’s dark shadows put to flight. [Refrain]
O, come, Desire of nations, bind
In one the hearts of all mankind;
O, bid our sad divisions cease,
And be yourself our King of Peace. [Refrain]
Hymn # 31 from Lutheran Worship
Author: French Processional
Tune: Veni Emmanuel
1st Published in: 1854
Bro. Franz in Splendor of the Church
* Note 3: Another popular hymn which is purely Catholic in origin also expresses the belief that Jesus is ‘The Desire of the Nations’.

O Come, Divine Messiah!

Words: Abbé Simon J. Pellegrin, 1663-1745
English Translation of French Carol Venez Divin Messie
Translator: Sister Mary of St. Philip, SND

1. O come, divine Messiah!
The world in silence waits the day
When hope shall sing its triumph,
And sadness flee away.
2. Dear Savior haste;
Come, come to earth,
Dispel the night and show your face,
And bid us hail the dawn of grace.
3. O come, divine Messiah!
The world in silence waits the day
When hope shall sing its triumph,
And sadness flee away.
4. O Christ, whom nations sigh for,
Whom priest and prophet long foretold,
Come break the captive fetters;
Redeem the long-lost fold.
5. Dear Savior haste;
Come, come to earth,
Dispel the night and show your face,
And bid us hail the dawn of grace.
6. O come, divine Messiah!
The world in silence waits the day
When hope shall sing its triumph,
And sadness flee away.
7. You come in peace and meekness,
And lowly will your cradle be;
All clothed in human weakness
Shall we your Godhead see.
8. Dear Savior haste;
Come, come to earth,
Dispel the night and show your face,
And bid us hail the dawn of grace.
9. O come, divine Messiah!
The world in silence waits the day
When hope shall sing its triumph,
And sadness flee away.
This is a popular Advent hymn. It is often heard today in conservative and more traditional Catholic churches and in the Hymns for Advent in the volume 1 of the Christian Prayers or Breviary for Advent Season.

Haggai also wrote that God the Father promised that He will fill His House with Glory… That house is the Church as stated by St. Paul to Timothy [1 Timothy 3:15]. Thus, only the Catholic Church glories in the coming of the Messiah. We are the only one who joins the Angels, The Shepherds, The Magi and Mary with Joseph in having Blessed Happiness at the celebration of the Lord’s Birth. If there are Protestant groups doing so they only followed and imitated the Christmas celebrations of the Catholic Church. The Orthodox Christmas celebrations are actually Catholic Traditions since they were previously united to the See of Rome.
Haggai 2:8 God stresses that silver and gold belong to Him. So we honor the Lord by decorating the Church and our houses with silver bells and golden decors during the commemoration of the Lord’s Birth. It also corresponds to the fact that when Jesus was born gold was offered to him by the Wise Men [cf. Matthew 2:11].
Haggai 2:9 The glory of the Church is greater than the glory of Israel because the Church is Universal while Israel is but a single nation. And, Israel is the keeper of the Promise while the Church is the recepient of its Fulfillment.
The Nativity by El Greco

WHEN WILL THE DESIRE OF THE NATIONS COME?

Haggai 2:10 “In the four and 20th day of the ninth month” [Please bear in mind that the original Bible has no Chapters and Verses, they were such when the Council Fathers, the Bishops gathered in Nicaea in year 325 debated the celebration date for Christmas. So, the passage “In the 4 and 20th day of the ninth month” could be attached to Haggai 2:7-9 while “In the second year of Darius, came the word of the Lord by Haggai” could be another sentence.]

Now The Jewish Calendar starts in the month of Nisan [March-April, cf. ‘Passover’ in “Feasts”, J.D. Douglas & Merrill C. Tenney, NIV Compact Dictionary of the Bible. Grand Rapids Michigan: Zondervan Corporation, Philippine Ed., p. 201.]. From Nisan [March-April] the 9th month falls to our DECEMBER. So, following this prophecy the Messiah will come into the House of God on 24th of December. Thus, the First Celebration of Christmas starts at the Solemn High Mass on eve of December 24 midnight.

Bro. Franz and Prof. Elmer Valenzuela, who joined us during the Special Program for Christmas Apologetics in Splendor of the Church

WHY MIDNIGHT?

Because another Biblical prophecy states that the Word of God, the Logos will come on earth on MIDNIGHT.

Wisdom 18:14-15 “For when gentle silence enveloped all things, and NIGHT IS IN ITS SWIFTCOURSE WAS NOW HALF-SPENT, Your all-powerful WORD LEAPED FROM HEAVEN, FROM THE ROYAL THRONE, into the midst of the land that was doomed, a stern warrior.” [New Revised Standard Version, cf. Revised Standard Version and New American Bible]

In Filipino: “Payapa at tahimik ang lahat, NANGANGALAHATI NA ANG GABI…” [Magandang Balita Biblia]

This prophecy is accepted by Protestants because they adapted it in their prayers and worship as testified by their traditional song which is universally acclaimed:

It Came Upon A Midnight Clear!

It Came Upon a Midnight Clear was written by Edmund Hamilton Sears in 1849. The carol started life as a poem written by its author who was a minister living in Massachusetts at the time. The music for It Came Upon A Midnight Clear was composed by American musician Richard Storrs Willis in 1859 who was inspired by the words of the poem.

It came upon the midnight clear,
That glorious song of old,
From angels bending near the earth,
To touch their harps of gold:
“Peace on the earth, goodwill to men
From heavens all gracious King!
“The world in solemn stillness lay
To hear the angels sing.
Still through the cloven skies they come,
With peaceful wings unfurled;
And still their heavenly music floats
O’er all the weary world:
Above its sad and lowly plains
They bend on hovering wing,
And ever o’er its Babel sounds
The blessed angels sing.
O ye beneath life’s crushing load,
Whose forms are bending low,
Who toil along the climbing way
With painful steps and slow;
Look now, for glad and golden hours
Come swiftly on the wing;
Oh rest beside the weary road
And hear the angels sing.
For lo! the days are hastening on,
By prophets seen of old,
When with the ever-circling years
Shall come the time foretold,
When the new heaven and earth shall own
The Prince of Peace, their King,
And the whole world send back the song
Which now the angels sing.
For Jewish culture, evening belongs to another day already and for Roman and Modern culture, midnight starts a new day. So the Birth of the Messiah falls on Midnight of December 24-25.

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