DO YOU like to have parties?— They can be lots of fun. Do you think the Great Teacher would want us to go to parties?— Well, he went to what could be called a party when someone got married, and some of his disciples went with him. Jehovah is “the happy God,” so he is pleased when we enjoy ourselves at good parties.—1 Timothy 1:11; John 2:1-11.
Page 29 of this book tells us that Jehovah parted the Red Sea to let the Israelites pass through. Do you remember reading that?— Afterward, the people sang and danced and gave thanks to Jehovah. It was like a party. The people were very happy, and we can be sure that God was happy too.—Exodus 15:1, 20, 21.
Nearly 40 years later, the Israelites went to another big party. This time the people who invited them did not even worship Jehovah. In fact, the people who invited them even bowed down to worship other gods and would have sex relations with people they were not married to. Do you think it was all right to go to a party like that?— Well, Jehovah was not pleased, and he punished the Israelites.—Numbers 25:1-9; 1 Corinthians 10:8.
The Bible also tells about two birthday parties. Was one of them to celebrate the birthday of the Great Teacher?— No. Both of these birthday parties were for men who did not serve Jehovah. One was the birthday party for King Herod Antipas. He was the ruler of the district of Galilee when Jesus lived there.
King Herod did many bad things. He took the wife of his brother for himself. Her name was Herodias. God’s servant John the Baptist told Herod that it was wrong for him to do that. Herod did not like that. So he had John locked up in prison.—Luke 3:19, 20.
While John was in prison, the day came for celebrating Herod’s birth. Herod gave a big party. He invited many important people. They all ate and drank and enjoyed themselves. Then the daughter of Herodias came in and danced for them. Everyone was so pleased with her dancing that King Herod wanted to give her a special gift. He said to her: “Whatever you ask me for, I will give it to you, up to half my kingdom.”
What would she ask for? Would it be money? pretty clothes? a palace of her own? The girl did not know what to say. So she went to her mother, Herodias, and said: “What should I ask for?”
Now Herodias hated John the Baptist very much. So she told her daughter to ask for his head. The girl went back to the king and said: “I want you to give me right away on a platter the head of John the Baptist.”
King Herod did not want to kill John because he knew that John was a good man. But Herod had made a promise, and he was afraid of what others at the party would think if he changed his mind. So he sent a man to the prison to chop off the head of John. Soon the man came back. He had John’s head on a platter, and he gave it to the girl. Then the girl gave it to her mother.—Mark 6:17-29.
The other birthday party that the Bible tells about wasn’t any better. It was for a king of Egypt. During this party also, the king had someone’s head chopped off. Then, after that, he hung the man up for the birds to eat! (Genesis 40:19-22) Do you think that God approved of those two parties?— Would you have wanted to be at them?—
We know that everything in the Bible is there for a reason. It tells about just two birthday parties. And at both of them, bad things were done as part of the celebration. So, what would you say that God is telling us about birthday parties? Does God want us to celebrate birthdays?—
It is true that at such parties today, people do not chop off someone’s head. But the whole idea of celebrating birthdays started with people who did not worship the true God. The Catholic Encyclopedia says about the birthday celebrations mentioned in the Bible: “Only sinners . . . make great rejoicings over the day on which they were born.” Do we want to be like them?—
What about the Great Teacher? Did he celebrate his birthday?— No, the Bible does not say anything about a birthday party for Jesus. In fact, Jesus’ early followers did not celebrate his birthday. Do you know why people later chose to celebrate Jesus’ birthday on December 25?—
That date was chosen because, as The World Book Encyclopedia says, “the people of Rome already observed it as the Feast of Saturn, celebrating the birthday of the sun.” So people chose to celebrate Jesus’ birthday on a date when pagans already had a holiday!
Do you know why Jesus could not have been born in December?— Because the Bible says that when Jesus was born, shepherds were still in the fields at night. (Luke 2:8-12) And they would not have been out there in the cold, rainy month of December.
Many people know that Christmas is not the birthday of Jesus. They even know that on that day pagans had a celebration that was not pleasing to God. But many celebrate Christmas anyway. They are more concerned with having a party than with finding out what God really thinks about it. But we want to please Jehovah, don’t we?—
So when we have parties, we want to make sure that they are good ones in Jehovah’s eyes. We can have them anytime during the year. We don’t have to wait for a special day. We can eat some special food and have fun playing games. Would you like to do that?— Maybe you can talk with your parents and plan a party with their help. That would be nice, wouldn’t it?— But before you make the plans for a party, you want to make sure it is something that God would approve.