Constantine nor the Council, I believe, did anything in order to purposely and specifically exalt paganism, as some have suggested. As we can see with Constantine’s placement of the Basilica of St. Anastasia, he was taking a stand for the Lord Jesus Christ against paganism.
What we have to be aware of, is that God Himself has ordained times and seasons according to His sovereignty and His plan and purpose. The partial blindness of the Jews was to be temporary, UNTIL a certain purpose of the Lord had been accomplished, that of bringing every tribe and tongue to faith in Jesus Christ. Then, God would open their eyes and they would see that Yeshua is their Messiah, and be saved.
In the same way, God had partially blinded the eyes of the Christians, also. In Isaiah 8, the Lord says,
“The LORD of hosts, Him shall you hallow; and let Him be your dread.
He will be as a sanctuary,
But a stone of stumbling and a rock of offense
To both the houses of Israel.”
The Lord of hosts will be a stone of stumbling to both the houses of Israel. We learned in our study of the two witnesses of Revelation 11, that one witness is the Jews, who correspond to the house of Judah. We learned that the other witness is the Christians, who correspond to the Gentiles and the house of Ephraim. It was part of Ephraim’s punishment and destiny to become a fullness of Gentiles. The house of Judah stumbled over the Cornerstone, Messiah Yeshua. They were blinded in part to the fact that Yeshua was their Messiah. But the house of Ephraim, the Gentiles or Christians, stumbled too. They were blinded in part too. They were blinded to the fact that they were Israelites, that they had Hebrew roots, that the patriarchs and covenants and commandments and feast days of the Lord applied to them too. (The book of Hosea in particular deals with Ephraim’s unfaithfulness, punishment, forgetfulness that they ever were the people of God, and restoration as the people of God again. Peter quotes from Hosea, applying Ephraim’s restoration to believers in Jesus Christ!)
But just as Judah, the blindness of Ephraim was to be temporary, until a certain purpose of the Lord had been accomplished. The Lord declared that the years of Ephraim’s iniquity were 390 years. The Lord had also promised that after punishment comes upon Israel for their sins, if they do not return to Him and obey Him, then He will extend their punishment sevenfold. Well, Judah repented when they were taken captive to Babylon, and the Lord returned a remnant of them to their land. But Ephraim never returned from their captivity in Assyria, because they did not repent. 390 years x 7 = 2730 years. Ephraim was taken captive beginning in 731 BC and ending in 721 BC, and if you add 2730 years to that, you get 1998 to 2008 (subtracting a year since there was no 0 BC). Ephraim’s punishment is now over! So the Lord is removing Ephraim’s (i.e. Gentiles, i.e. Christians) blindness to his Hebraic roots, and he is again seeing that he is an Israelite and that the patriarchs, the feast days, the commandments and the Torah is for him. Christians everywhere are realizing that they did not replace Israel; that they are not spiritual Israel and the Jews are physical Israel. They are realizing that they too are Israel along with the Jews; they are also the olive tree, and they, even though a wild olive, have been grafted in to the cultivated olive tree, whose root is Jesus Christ, Messiah Yeshua.
So if Constantine and the church fathers at Nicaea did not see that the Jewish feast days were for them in 325 AD, and they made new holidays not found in Scripture, to distance themselves from the Jews, well, it is not really their fault, since Ephraim’s punishment was not yet over. God ordains times and seasons according to His sovereignty and His purpose and plan. What they did, they did out of fervent love for the Lord Jesus Christ. But if we know today, in 2008, that December 25 never had anything to do with the birth day of Jesus Christ, but that it had since antiquity been the day to honor the sun as a god, with roots stretching back to Nimrod and the Tower of Babel (Babylon) rebellion against God’s sovereignty, and that paganism as a religion is again growing and gaining converts, then what?
Continued in the christmas connection, part three