Messiahmas? On the Birth Date of Jesus of Nazareth

by Uri Marcus


Most Gentile Christians wouldn't bother to speculate about the time when Yeshua (Jesus) was born. They celebrate it on December 25th even though they may suspect that there is no Biblical basis for choosing that date. However, there are many Messianic Believers who, from a Jewish perspective, are convinced that the time of year when Yeshua was really born was at the Succot (the Feast of Tabernacles). Taking into account certain Jewish customs and traditions, and applying them to the biblical birth narrative, it's not difficult to calculate and arrive at this season, known as "the season of our Joy."

While there is quite a wide consensus of opinion that Yeshua was born at some time during the High Holy Days of Rosh Hoshanna (New Year), Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement), or Succot (Tabernacles), the timing can be narrowed down to Succot, in the opinion of this author, because of the abundance of historical and traditional associations which surround it. It should be noted that all of these festivals normally occur in the Autumn, or during the September or October time-frame, but it varies from year to year because the Jewish calendar is based on the cycles of the moon and doesn't track with the Gregorian calendar.

The calculation of the time of Yeshua's birth begins with Z'chariyahu (Zechariah), the father of Yochanan (John) the Baptist. According to Luke 1:5 he was a priest of the order of Aviyah. He was performing his duties, burning incense in the Beit HaMikdash (Temple), when an angel appeared and said his wife Eli-Sheva would conceive and bear a son, and he would be called Yochanan (John).

The order in which the priestly families performed their duties is given in 1 Chronicles 24:7-18. According to the Mishnah, the cycle begins on the first Shabbat (Sabbath) of Nisan, and each family of priests would minister in turn for one week. Since there are 24 families, each family would minister about twice a year. The cycle would be delayed slightly because all priests, regardless of their families, were required to be at the Beit HaMikdash (Temple) for the three festivals of Pesach (Passover), Shavu'ot (Pentecost) and Succot (Tabernacles).

The family of Aviyah was eighth in line, so Z'chariyahu would have had his first period of duty during the Jewish month of Sivan (about June) and his second period during the month of Kislev about six months later. There is no way of knowing for sure which period of duty is referred to in Luke's Gospel, but if it is surmised that it is the first period we get some very interesting results.

Z'chariyahu finished his first period of duty about the middle of Sivan. Because of his unbelief, G-d struck him dumb. Nevertheless, he went home to his wife and she became pregnant. Count off 40 weeks, the usual period of gestation, and we get to the month of Nisan the following year. Beginning on the 14th of Nisan, and lasting for eight days, we have the festivals of Pesach (Passover), Matzot (unleavened bread) and Bikurim (First Fruits), which are all occur in the spring. This raises the distinct possibility that Yochanan the Baptist was born at Pesach, which coincides with the Jewish expectation that Eliyahu (Elijah) would come at Pesach. It has always been our custom to put an extra cup of wine on the table at Pesach, in the hope that Eliyahu will come and drink it.

If Yochanan the Baptist was born at Pesach, Yeshua must have been born during the fall feasts, and most probably at Succot. In Luke 1:26 and 36 we are told that Yeshua was six months younger than Yochanan.

When the decree went out for everyone to go to their home town to be registered, Yosef and Miriam set off for Beit Lechem (Bethlehem). They would have set out in good time, before Miriam was fully 40 weeks pregnant, because she wouldn't want to be jogged into childbirth while riding on a donkey. Besides, they would have wanted to complete the journey before Rosh Hoshanna, which is two weeks before Succot.

We are given a clue about the time of the birth by the angel who appeared to the shepherds and said "Fear not. For, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.". (Luke 2:10). There are actually two clues here. Succot is known as "The Season of our Joy", and it is also known as the "Festival of the Nations (or Gentiles)". The angel was actually giving them a greeting for the Festival of Succot. This is the only festival where the nations are positively encouraged to participate with negative results if they do not. (Z'chariyahu 14:16-19). In addition, the narrative indicates that it was shepherds to whom the angels delivered their message, which is interesting in that for thousands of years Jewish literature ascribes a tradition known as "Ushpizin", only to Succot, and it is practiced even to this day.

After entering the Succah, and reciting certain prayers, the ceremony of Ushpizin bids us to partake in the privilege of inviting and welcoming the "Sh'kinah" ) G-d's Presence) and the seven "faithful shepherds" who enter the succah with us as exalted guests. These guests come to observe how their descendants FULFILL the mitzvah (commandment) of the Succah, in which they dwell under G-d's protection, in accordance with what G-d had promised in the Torah. These seven faithful shepherds of Israel are: Avraham, Yitzchak, Ya'acov, Yosef, Moshe, Aharon, and Melech (King) David. Back in the Luke narrative, though the text does not specify "seven" shepherds who went to visit Meriam, there seems to be a hint, when one reads between the lines. Moreover, the purpose of their visit is recorded to be very similar with that of the Ushpizin, in which the text states that it was to "see this thing that had happened, which the Lord has told us about." (Luke 2:15).

Likewise, during Succot, Jewish families today in Israel construct a flimsy shelter called a "Succah", made of loosely assembled walls and a leafy overhead covering. In the Succah, we eat or sleep. This is a reminder to us that we were completely dependent on G-d as we wandered for forty years in the desert after departing from Egypt and were led by "a pillar of cloud by day, and a pillar of fire by night." Because of this experience, we recall that "G-d is with us" (Emmanu-El).

In this same narrative in Luke 2 regarding the Shepherds to whom an angel of the Lord appears, note that the text says that they were "watching over their flocks, AT NIGHT." The angel brings them a message that their Messiah was born in the town of David, during that day which had just passed to night. This message was accompanied by the appearance of a great heavenly host, praising G-d. When we consider the seasons in Israel, and the weather patterns, one might ask "What is the latest time of year in which shepherds would still be outside with their flocks in the Judean hills, AT NIGHT?" November through February are far to cold in Israel to be doing this kind of activity. The answer of course points to the end of October, at the latest, for temperature reasons alone. Depending of the Hebrew calendar in any given year, as mentioned above, Succot always falls in the September-October time frame, when the weather is still warm and pleasant outside, especially AT NIGHT. For these reasons, and many others not documented here, we think Yeshua is very likely to have been born at Succot.

And so, the birth of Yeshua at Succot fulfills another prophecy: "The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Emmanu-El - which means, "G-d is with us". (Matt. 1:23, quoting from Yishaiyahu (Isaiah) 7:14).

If this is not enough, we also have to consider the type of dwelling in which Yeshua was born. Had it not been for the inconvenience caused by the census, he would have been born in a house like all other children. But he wasn't, he was born in a type of Succah where servants of a household slept, or where they kept sheep and cattle. Luke uses the Greek word for "manger" but because Yeshua was Jewish, and it was most likely the festival of Succot, the text probably describes a Succah. This would make sense since we know that Yeshua would fulfill every aspect of Torah from his birth until his death. The link here is directly to commandment in VaYikrah (Leviticus) Chapter 23, verse 42, "Live in Succot for seven days: All native-born Israelites are to live in Succot so your descendants will know that I had the Israelites live in Succot when I brought them out of Egypt. I am the LORD your G-d."

Yochanan, in his Gospel narrative of Yeshua's birth, confirms this truth when he indicates that G-d had come to earth to dwell with (and serve) humanity. We read in Yochanan (John) 1:14 about how "The Word became flesh and made his dwelling (Tabernacled) among us," which is a clear and obvious reference to Succot.

Eight days later, according to Luke 2:21, Yeshua was circumcised. Miriam would still have been ceremonially unclean for 33 days after the Yeshua's birth, in accordance with ViYikrah (Leviticus) 12. Owing to her requirement to present a purification offering at the Beit HaMikdash (Holy Temple) in Yerushali'im (Jerusalem) after this period, she would most likely have remained in Beit Lechem, just a short distance from Yerushali'im.

If the day of Yeshua's birth was the first day of Succot, then the day of his circumcision would be the eighth day after Succot which, in accordance with Torah is also day of sacred assembly. (ViYikrah [Leviticus] 23:39). On this day, called "Shemini Atzeret," or "the Eighth day of Solemn Assembly" and later called "Simchat Torah" or "Rejoicing in Torah," we complete our annual cycle of Torah readings and start again from Bereshit (Genesis). It is considered to be a time of "fulfillment" of the Torah and also a new beginning for it, in our lives, since Torah is never abandoned. This indeed would seem to be a fitting holiday for Yeshua's circumcision and dedication before G-d, since He came to set the Torah on a firm foundation by correctly interpreting it and fulfilling it (i.e., becoming the goal to which the Law and the Prophets pointed), thereby making a way to renew the Torah in our lives. (Matt. 5:17-19).

When the days of Miriam's purification were over, they would have then returned back to Natzeret (Nazareth) in the Galil (Luke 2:39). But each year, and in accordance with the required pilgrimage commandments in Torah, Yosef and Meriam went up to Yerushali'im for Pesach. (Luke 2:41). During one of these visits, probably when Yeshua was about two years old, they went to Beit Lechem and stayed, not in a succah or stable this time, but in a house. (Matt. 2:11). They were visited there by the Magi, and then had to flee to Egypt to escape from Herod because he was killing all the male children two years old and under.

And so, by starting from Z'chariyahu, the father of Yochanan the Baptist, and his first period of duty in the Temple, and doing a few simple calculations, we discover that the Jewishness of the Gospel becomes profoundly evident, giving new import to many passages of Scripture previously misunderstood.

What then should we do now? Should Christians continue observing Christmas on December 25th (which incidentally is entirely pagan in its origins), or are we going to begin recognizing our Hebraic roots and understanding the purpose of the feasts which the Father in His wisdom has bestowed. He has given us an inheritance, that in them we might be in rehearsal for the day our King returns, for then, we shall all celebrate the feasts together with Him.

Some may belief that it does not matter when we celebrate the birth of the Mashiach; it can be any of the twelve months of the year! What is important is to celebrate His birth.

But this defeats the importance of Messianic prophecy and fulfillment! The birth of Yeshua at the Festival of Succot was for prophetic reasons foreshadowing the Torah, the goal to which it pointed, the seventh millennium and the kingship of Mashiach from Yerushalayim. These are important pictures to treasure in our hearts! If it is important enough to G-d that He would cause Yeshua's birth AND coronation as King to takes place at an appointed season (mo'ed z'manim) on the Jewish Calendar, then it should be important to us, regardless of the world's traditions. Therefore, we should heed the words of Rabbi Sha'ul (Paul) who quoting the Father, urged the Church at Corinth to:

..."come out from them and be separate," says the Lord. "Touch no unclean thing, and I will receive you. I will be a Father to you, and you will be my sons and daughters," says the Lord Almighty.

If we do this (and we don't have to become Jewish to do it) we will be creating the conditions in which Z'chariyahu 14:16-19 can be fulfilled. People will say "Since we are celebrating the birth of Yeshua at Succot, why not do it in Yerushali'im?". Why not indeed?

Many peoples will come and say, "Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the G-d of Ya'acov. He will teach us his ways, so that we may walk in his paths." The law will go out from Tzion, the word of the LORD from Yerushali'im. -- Yishaiyahu (Isaiah 2:3)

In Israel it's impossible to miss these festivals, but for the benefit of those in the Diaspora, the 1999 dates are:

Rosh HaShana (Festival of Trumpets) Fri Eve 10 September

Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement) Sun Eve 19 September

1st Day of Succot (Feast of Tabernacles) Fri Eve 24 September 8th

Day of Assembly (Shemini Atzeret) and

Simchat Torah (Rejoicing in the Torah) Fri Eve 01 October

The Jewish day begins at sunset which means, for example, Rosh Hoshanna begins at sunset on Friday Eve, 10 September and continues until evening on the 11th of September.

Uri Marcus

Adapted from various sources, including my brother's book "Signs In the Heavens" (by Avi Ben-Mordechai), available from him by calling 1-800-880-2656. Revised November 19, 1998.

Uri Marcus (former member)
The Nehemiah Trustees Covenant
Fund P.O. Box 44840
Haifa, 31447 Israel

eMail Israel: ntcf@netvision.net.il
eMail USA: ntcfusa@ix.netcom.com
eMail UK Rep: ntcf_uk@streambyte.co.uk

http://www.netvision.net.il/php/ntcf
http://users.codenet.net/sward/ntcf/default.htm


Related Article: Who Were the Magi, by Chuck Missler

See also Mike Gascoigne's excellent web site, http://www.annomundi.co.uk/bible/index.htm

Mike's article "The Birth of Yeshua" is very similar to the above article.

This note added November 21, 1998.


A High Mass for Christ "or Christmas"

If you are one who celebrates Christmas for whatever the reason, who am I to tell you any different? Your reason may be, you like it, and it makes you feel good, it's a tradition, everyone else is doing it, and it is good to set this day aside to celebrate the Birth of Christ. Plus the kids really like it and we do speak some about the Messiah. Most people reading this have brought into one or more of the above. So why should I say "HUM-BUG".

But just in case anyone is interested I thought I'd tell you about the real birth-day of Yeshua HaMashiach (Jesus the Risen Messiah). But first we should take a quick look at how this all started. And where it came from.

To begin with you will not find this holiday in the Scriptures, simply because it is not one of God's Holiday's. Bible scholars as well as serious Bible students all agree that Yeshua was not born on Christmas "Saturnalia" but that He was born during the Feast of Tabernacles, which usually falls in September. But "Christians" keep making compromises for one reason or the other, so they will not be looked on as an odd ball or a party-pooper, or to avoid being rejected by others, or some just can't stand the criticism and then who wants to be persecuted for Christ sake these days.

In brief, this all came about through a man called Constantine, who is identified as the first Pope. His father was a Roman Emperor, and when he died Constantine took his army and marched against Rome. Constantine was a worshiper of Baal the sun god, and therefore had the support of the Pagans. There was one man that stood between him and the Throne of Rome he was Maxentius. And Constantine needed to gain the support of the Christians in order to have the victory he desired. We read in history that a sign was shown Constantine of a Cross and he had it put on the shield of his army. But this was not the Cross of Yeshua that represents the crucifixion of the Messiah. It was the cross of Ankh the symbol of the sun god. But he gained the support of the Christians of that day, and gained control of the Throne. He then professed to be a Christian, then he proceeded to sprinkle his soldiers with water making them instant Christians. There was of course no repentance required, not even a profession of faith in Yeshua as Messiah.

Constantine changed all the Feast days and took out anything that was Jewish. He made himself the head of the Church, but he was then and stayed a sun worshiper until he died, he was never born again and yet was able to change the whole face of Christianity to please the Devil while himself a pagan Babylonian sun worshiper.

The date of December 25th was the celebration of the birth of the Babylonian sun god. And it was in the 5th century that the Roman Catholic Church made this date December 25th the celebration of the birth of Christ. And the Sabbath (Saturday) of God was changed to the day of the sun god to Sunday. But I won't stop here I will go a step further and teach you about the true birthday of Messiah Yeshua.

This is obviously just a short lesson on this subject, but more than enough for you to do some serious research yourself. So it is for you to decide who you will serve this day. The god of Babylon or the God of Abraham Isaac and Jacob.

The Feast of Tabernacles. "Booths" -- The birth of Yeshua?

Leviticus 23: 33-44 tells us the story of the Israelites and their journey out of Egypt and the following 40 years of wondering. We can find the name Sukkot in Gen. 33:17 "And Jacob journeyed to Succoth; and built for himself a house, and made booths for the livestock, therefore the place is named Sukkot." The Hebrew word Sukkot means "hut."

The Biblical name for Sukkot is The Feast of Tabernacles. There are three times the Lord commanded the Jews to assemble in the Temple in Jerusalem. On these three Holidays they were to present offerings to the Lord. Those three are Passover, Shavuot, (Pentecost) and Sukkot. Sukkot is the third and last of the three.

But in the month of Tishri, there are three major Holidays of the Feast of the Tabernacle of the Lord, which is God,s perfect timetable. The month of Tishri falls in September or October on the Christian Calendar. They are Rosh Hoshanna, Yom Kippur, and Sukkot. These three are often called the Second Advent. The First Advent we have the Feast of Unleavened Bread, Passover and First Fruits. Yeshua died on Unleavened Bread, He was buried on Passover, and He rose on First Fruits, 50 days later he sent the Holy Spirit on the Following Feast of Shavuot (Pentecost). So we see here that God is setting up a pattern for us to look for. So we need to look at the remainder of the three Feasts to see the rest of the story, (sounds like Paul Harvey) something as important as the Birth of the Messiah would surely fit into this pattern.

You can purchase books everywhere that tell you about how to celebrate this Holiday so I will stay on subject, and only touch on a couple of things you may not find in some of your books. In general there is a two-fold meaning to this celebration in Israel and throughout the world. The first being the Fall Harvest Lev. 23: that teaches it is a time of bringing in the fall harvest and Thanksgiving. Many believe as I do, that the Puritan Colonists who landed in America who were great students of the Hebrew Scriptures based the first American Thanksgiving on Sukkot.

The second is found in the command to dwell in Booths as a memory to Israel's 40 years of wondering in the wilderness. Another translation of the world Sukkot is "habitation" as we camp in booths today we need to remember that the same God is watching over us today. That He inhabits our lives with a care beyond our imagination. Sukkot is known also as "Zman Simkhatenu" (The Time of Rejoicing) the knowledge that God provided His habitation and lives with us, is certainly a time for rejoicing.

There are blessings said over the "Lulav" (palm branch), "Etrog" (citron, a fruit from Israel that looks like a large lemon) also the "Hadas" (Myrtle) and "Arava" (the youngest branch of the willow before it opens) These are called the four spices. The only reason I am spending some time on this is there is something very special here in Biblical teaching. First the Etrog, which taste sweet and has a delightful aroma, represents a person with knowledge or Torah and good deeds. The Lulav which comes from a Date Palm, a fruit that taste sweet but has no fragrance, meaning that some people have knowledge but no good deeds. The hadas is just opposite, having a nice fragrance yet no taste (good deeds without true knowledge) Arava has neither taste nor smell and speaks of the persons without knowledge or good deeds. James 2:17 sums this up by saying "Faith without works is dead."

Now lets move on to the birth of the Messiah. With the celebration of Sukkot having so many wonderful teaching in it for the Church today. You would think that the New Testament would have reference in it of Sukkot. We read in John 1:1 "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." It says, the Word not only was with God, but the Word was the very manifestation of God Himself.

Then we read in John 1:14 "And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, and we beheld his glory, and glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth". What the Word of God says is, "The Word became a human being and lived with us, and we saw His Shekinah, The Shekinah glory of the Father, only Son full of grace and Glory. But did you notice the word John used to described this event. He said "dwelt" among His people. This word dwelt come from a Greek word "skene" and the Greeks translated that from the Hebrew word "Tabernacle." What I am trying to get you to see is, John was describing the Holy Day of Sukkot, the Holy Day that celebrates the indwelling of God Himself. So the Word says: "And the Word was made flesh and Tabernacled among us..."

The celebration of December 25th as the birth of the Messiah is pagan, and comes from the Roman Empire. The early Church often "christianized" pagan days of celebration to accommodate the new converts. And December shows this very clearly. This date was an ancient feast that celebrated the return of the sun after the winter solatice. It has absolutely nothing to do with the birth of Yeshua. Believers began to say there was no real proof of the Messiah's birth date so this would do. What they didn't consider was John's description using the term "Tabernacle" or Booths or Sukkot. It is right there before us and so clear I can't understand how it has been so missed by so many who calls themselves Biblical scholars.

If the first Advent showed Yeshua's death on the cross on Unleavened Bread, buried on Passover, and resurrection of First Fruits, and the pouring out of His Holy Spirit on Shavuot (Pentecost). Do you think that God would let such an important event as the birth of His only begotten Son go unheralded?

Sukkot shows that God would dwell "Tabernacle" in the midst of His people, through the presence of the Messiah, Yeshua. There is much more evidence as well, since we know that Yeshua died on Passover and we also know His ministry lasted 33+ years we can backtrack and that puts us right at Sukkot as well. Nearly every serious Bible Theologian calculates that His birth was in the fall, that also is Sukkot.

One of the ceremonies of Sukkot is the pouring of water, and a time of prayer for water and rain in Israel. During the second Temple period a Priest would take a water pitcher down to the pool of shiloach (today called Siloam in the city of David) he would bring it back to the Temple. Crowds of people would follow him dancing and singing the Hellel, (Psalms 113-118) The highlight of this ceremony was when the Priest would pour this water at the altar of the Temple. It became known as "Simcha Bet-Ha-sho-evah" (The rejoicing of the House of Drawing Water)

The question is, why would there be so much rejoicing at this pouring of water? It has to be more than rejoicing of the future rain on Israel, as important as that might be. Because we read in Isaiah 12:3 "Therefore with joy shall ye draw water out of the wells of salvation". (Salvation in Hebrew is Yeshua, the name of the Messiah) GLORY TO GOD.

It was much more than the pouring out of water at the Temple, or even for the rain. The Simcha Bet Ha-sho-evah pointed directly to the coming of the Messiah and the days of redemption when the water of the Holy Spirit would be poured out upon all Israel.

Now we can appreciate the Scripture that was recorded on one day in the Messiah,s life and that day was on a Sukkot. John 7:37-39 "In the last day, that great day of the feast, Yeshua stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink. He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. But this spoke he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive: for the Holy Ghost was not yet given: because Yeshua was not yet glorified.)" Think for a moment of the time and place of these words being proclaimed by Yeshua. It was Sukkot and it was the time of the pouring of the water. The crowds were filled with those who had expectation of the Messiah and the Holy Spirit He would bring. At the moment of the time of the pouring of the water the Messiah stood and made this bold proclamation. He was saying. I am the Messiah, do you truly want the living water of the spirit of God? If you truly want the Bet Ha-sho-evah, believe in me. I am the Messiah who will pour out the Holy Spirit on Israel.

Shalom, Jerry golden
Jerry Golden "REPORT"
PO Box 591
Bet Shemesh 99100 Israel
http://thegoldenreport.com
December 23, 2001
Moderator

Update:

The Feast of Tabernacles. "Booths" The birth of Yeshua? 
Leviticus 23: 33-44 tells us the story of the Israelites and their journey out of Egypt and the following 40 years of wondering. We can find the name Sukkot in Gen. 33:17 "And Jacob journeyed to Succoth; and built for himself a house, and made booths for the livestock, therefore the place is named Sukkot." The Hebrew word Sukkot means "hut"

The Biblical name for Sukkot is "The Feast of Tabernacles". There are three times the Lord commanded the Jews to assemble in the Temple in Jerusalem. On these three Holidays they were to present offerings to the Lord. Those three are Passover, Shavuot, (Pentecost) and Sukkot. Sukkot is the third and last of the three.

But in the month of Tishri, there are three major Holidays of the Feast of the Tabernacle of the Lord, which is God's perfect timetable. The month of Tishri falls in September or October on the Christian Calendar. They are Rosh Hoshanna, Yom Kippur, and Sukkot. These three are often called the Second Advent. The First Advent we have the Feast of Unleavened Bread, Passover and First Fruits. Yeshua died on Unleavened Bread, He was buried on Passover, and He rose on First Fruits, 50 days later he sent the Holy Spirit on the Following Feast of Shavuot (Pentecost). So we see here that God is setting up a pattern for us to look for. So we need to look at the remainder of the three Feasts to see the rest of the story, (sounds like Paul Harvey) something as important as the Birth of the Messiah would surely fit into this pattern.

You can purchase books (Passover Hagadah's) everywhere that tell you about how to celebrate this Holiday so I will stay on subject, and only touch on a couple of things you may not find in some of your books. In general there is a two-fold meaning to this celebration in Israel and throughout the world. The first being the Fall Harvest Lev. 23: that teaches it is a time of bringing in the fall harvest and thanksgiving. Many believe as I do, that the Puritan Colonists who landed in America who were great students of the Hebrew Scriptures based the first American Thanksgiving on Sukkot.

The second is found in the command to dwell in Booths as a memory to Israel's 40 years of wondering in the wilderness. Another translation of the world Sukkot is "habitation" as we camp in booths today we need to remember that the same God is watching over us today. That He inhabits our lives with a care beyond our imagination. Sukkot is known also as "Zman Simkhatenu" (The Time of Rejoicing) the knowledge that God provided His habitation and lives with us, is certainly a time for rejoicing.

There are blessings said over the "Lulav" (palm branch), "Etrog" (citron, a fruit from Israel that looks like a large lemon) also the "Hadas" (Myrtle) and "Arava" (the youngest branch of the willow before it opens) These are called the four spices. The only reason I am spending some time on this is there is something very special here in Biblical teaching. First the Etrog, which taste sweet and has a delightful aroma, represents a person with knowledge or Torah and good deeds. The Lulav which comes from a Date Palm, a fruit that taste sweet but has no fragrance, meaning that some people have knowledge but no good deeds. The Hadas is just opposite, having a nice fragrance yet no taste (good deeds without true knowledge) Arava has neither taste nor smell and speaks of the persons without knowledge or good deeds. James 2:17 sums this up by saying "Faith without works is dead."

Now lets move on to the birth of the Messiah. With the celebration of Sukkot having so many wonderful teaching in it for the Church today. You would think that the New Testament would have reference in it of Sukkot. We read in John 1:1 "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." It says, the Word not only was with God, but the Word was the very manifestation of God Himself.

Then we read in John 1:14 "And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, and we beheld his glory, and glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth". What the Word of God says is, "The Word became a human being and lived with us, and we saw His Sh'kinah, The Sh'kinah glory of the Father' only Son full of grace and Glory. But did you notice the word John used to described this event. He said "dwelt" among His people. This word dwelt come from a Greek word "skene" and the Greeks translated that from the Hebrew word "Tabernacle". What I am trying to get you to see is, John was describing the Holy Day of Sukkot, the Holy Day that celebrates the indwelling of God Himself. So the Word says: And the Word was made flesh and Tabernacled among us,"

The celebration of December 25th as the birth of the Messiah is pagan, and comes from the Roman Empire. The early Church often "christianized" pagan days of celebration to accommodate the new converts. And December shows this very clearly. This date was an ancient feast that celebrated the return of the sun after the winter solstice. It has absolutely nothing to do with the birth of Yeshua. Believers began to say there was no real proof of the Messiah's birth date so this would do. What they didn't consider was John's description using the term "Tabernacle" or Booths or Sukkot. It is right there before us and so clear I can't understand how it has been so missed by so many who calls themselves Biblical scholars.

If the first Advent showed Yeshua's death on the cross on Unleavened Bread, buried on Passover, and resurrection of First Fruits, and the pouring out of His Holy Spirit on Shavuot (Pentecost). Do you think that God would let such an important event as the birth of His only begotten Son go unheralded?

Sukkot shows that God would dwell "Tabernacle" in the midst of His people, through the presence of the Messiah, Yeshua. There is much more evidence as well, since we know that Yeshua died on Passover and we also know His ministry lasted 3 years we can backtrack and that puts us right at Sukkot as well. Nearly every serious Bible Theologian calculates that His birth was in the fall, that also is Sukkot.

One of the ceremonies of Sukkot is the pouring of water, and a time of prayer for water and rain in Israel. During the second Temple period a Priest would take a water pitcher down to the pool of shiloach (today called Siloam in the city of David) he would bring it back to the Temple. Crowds of people would follow him dancing and singing the Hellel, (Psalms 113-118) The highlight of this ceremony was when the Priest would pour this water at the altar of the Temple. It became known as "Simcha Bet-Ha-sho-evah" (The rejoicing of the House of Drawing Water)
The question is, why would there be so much rejoicing at this pouring of water? It has to be more than rejoicing of the future rain on Israel, as important as that might be. Because we read in Isaiah 12:3 "Therefore with joy shall ye draw water out of the wells of salvation". (Salvation in Hebrew is Yeshua, the name of the Messiah) GLORY TO GOD.

It was much more than the pouring out of water at the Temple, or even for the rain. The Simcha Bet Ha-sho-evah pointed directly to the coming of the Messiah and the days of redemption when the water of the Holy Spirit would be poured out upon all Israel.

Now we can appreciate the Scripture that was recorded on one day in the Messiah's life and that day was on a Sukkot. John 7:37-39 "In the last day, that great day of the feast, Yeshua stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink. He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. But this spoke he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive: for the Holy Ghost was not yet given: because Yeshua was not yet glorified.) Think for a moment of the time and place of these words being proclaimed by Yeshua. It was Sukkot and it was the time of the pouring of the water. The crowds were filled with those who had expectation of the Messiah and the Holy Spirit He would bring. At the moment of the time of the pouring of the water the Messiah stood and made this bold proclamation. He was saying. I am the Messiah, do you truly want the living water of the spirit of God? If you truly want the Bet Ha-sho-evah, believe in me. I am the Messiah who will pour out the Holy Spirit on Israel.

After eight days of Sukkot we will end this celebration, and on the 8th day our Messiah was circumcised. And from here volumes can be written over that event.

Pray for the peace of Jerusalem, for our son Joel, and all the IDF soldiers, for this Ministry and your part in it.


Shalom, jerry golden
October 17, 2005.



ROOTS OF CHRISTMAS,

by Chuck Missler

Christmas n.
-A Christian feast commemorating the birth of Jesus.
-An annual church festival (December 25) and in some States a legal holiday, in memory of the birth of Christ, often celebrated by a particular church service, and also by special gifts, greetings, and hospitality. [Care of Dictionary.com]

The celebration of Christmas has caused some controversy in recent years, for a variety of reasons. Many have been concerned that Christ is too often left out of Christmas; replaced by trimmings and presents and fudge. Others have battled over whether we should allow manger scenes on public property or allow the school choir to sing Christmas carols that actually contain a message about Jesus Christ. On the other hand, a growing number of Christians have been arguing that we should not celebrate Christmas at all because there is no command to do so in the Bible, and the celebration is based in pagan roots.

What stand should we take? How should we approach this all-encompassing holiday in the light of history and in the light of the Bible?

The Pagan Background:

Many pagan religions through the millennia have worshiped the sun as the source of light and warmth and life. As darkness deepened in the winter and the shortest day of the year approached, many pagans of yesteryear feared that the light might die altogether. Once the winter solstice hit, however, and the hours of sunlight began to increase once again, there would be great celebrations over the return of the sun and the accompanying hope for a future spring. In the northern hemisphere, these celebrations would occur toward the end of December.

Tammuz, the son of Nimrod and his queen, Semiramis, was identified with the Babylonian Sun God and worshiped following the winter solstice, on about December 22-23. Tammuz was thought to have died during the winter solstice, and was memorialized by burning a log in the fireplace. (The Chaldean word for infant is yule. This is the origin of the yule log.) His rebirth was celebrated by replacing the log with a trimmed tree the next morning.

The Roman god Saturn's celebration fell on December 17 and lasted for seven days. Romans would gaily decorate their homes in evergreen boughs and candles, and would give gifts to one another. It was a time of visiting with family and friends, and of often rowdy merry-making.

December 25 was also considered to be the birth date of the Iranian mystery god Mithra,, the god of light and contracts. A once-minor god of the Persian pantheon, Roman soldiers adopted Mithra as the manly man's hero, a divinity of fidelity, manliness, and bravery. Women were excluded from the caves where men worshiped Mithra through secret rituals.

While quite different in person and mission, there are a few similarities between the legends of Mithra and the story of Christ. Mithra was said to have been born in a cave, with shepherds attending, (although there were no men on earth at the time (?)). Other legends have him being born from a rock by a river under a tree. According to Persian mythology, Mithra was born of a virgin given the title 'Mother of God'. Mithra was a moral god, upholding the sanctity of the contract even when the contract was made with one who was sure to break it. Initiates into Mithraism would be "baptized" with the trickle of the sacrificial bull's blood that would flow into a pit. This blood was said to cleanse the initiates from any impurities.

Tertullian (160-220 A.D.), the early Church writer noticed that the pagan religion utilized baptism as well as bread and wine consecrated by priests. He considered Mithraism to have been inspired by the devil, who wanted to mock Christians and lead others to hell.

Mithra came to be identified with the sun-god Helios and became known as 'The Great God Helios-Mithras'. Several Roman emperors formally announced their alliance with the sun, including Commodus who was initiated in public. Emperor Aurelian (270 to 275 CE) blended a number of Pagan solstice celebrations of such god-men/saviors as Apollo, Artus, Baal, Dionysus, Helios, Hercules, Horus, Mithra, Osiris, Perseus, and Theseus into a single festival called the "Birthday of the Unconquered Sun", celebrated on December 25th.

The Hebrew Roots:

But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting. -Micah 5:2

And he said, It is a light thing that thou shouldest be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and to restore the preserved of Israel: I will also give thee for a light to the Gentiles, that thou mayest be my salvation unto the end of the earth. -Isaiah 49:6

Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel. -Isaiah 7:14

...When at the first he lightly afflicted the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, and afterward did more grievously afflict her by the way of the sea, beyond Jordan, in Galilee of the nations. The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light: they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined. For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this. -Isaiah 9:1-2,6-7

The Christian Roots:

And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God. And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end. Then said Mary unto the angel, How shall this be, seeing I know not a man? And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God. - Luke 1:30-35

About 1950 years ago, a well educated and faithful physician wrote to one Theophilus, detailing the life of Jesus Christ. Luke explained that he had done research on the subject so that Theophilus could know with certainty that the things he had been told about Jesus were true (Luke 1:4). Luke must have spoken with Mary herself, for he tells of things that only she would know. "But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart," (Luke 2:19). He tells Theophilus of the birth of Jesus; how he was born in Bethlehem during a time when all the Roman world was being taxed. Shepherds out in the field were surprised by a host of angels that filled the sky, singing, "Glory to God in the highest!" and as they were told, went to go find the baby wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger. Then, those shepherds told everybody they could find about the incredible things they had seen.

The child grew up and went on to have a short, three-year ministry that ended in his death on a Roman Cross. Yet, the man that was born in Bethlehem rose again from the dead, as witnessed by over 500 men. And he is still changing the hearts and lives of people living today.

The early Christians are not known to have celebrated Christ's birth, and the actual date of his nativity has been lost in history. The first recorded mention of the December 25 date is in the Calendar of Philocalus (354 A.D.) which assumed Jesus' birth date to be Friday, December 25, 1 A.D. - even though it was quite unlikely that shepherds would be out in the fields in December. Pope Julius I officially proclaimed December 25 to be the anniversary of Christ's birth in 440 A.D. Giving the December 25 Christian significance has been understood to have been an effort to help the pagan world embrace Christianity and trade in their worship of pagan gods for the One True God. Originally called the Feast of the Nativity, the custom spread to Egypt by 432 and to England by the end of the 6th century. By the end of the 8th century, the celebration of Christmas had spread all the way to the Scandinavian countries. Christmas is celebrated on January 6 in the Orthodox Church, on wh! at is also called Epiphany or Three Kings Day, the day that celebrates when the wise men found the Christ child and gave their gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.

Today

Christmas did largely win out over the pagan holidays, but was still celebrated with rowdy festivities and practical jokes - more like Mardi Gras than anything resembling the character of Christ. Puritans in England outlawed Christmas for years, and the holiday was not popular in early America. In fact, Christmas wasn't declared a federal holiday in the United States until June 26, 1870.

Then, the holiday underwent a conversion. Americans "reinvented" Christmas into the more moderate holiday we know today. Writers Washington Irving and Charles Dickens both wrote tales that presented Christmas as a holiday of caring for the poor and bringing families together. As the angels sang above the shepherds that original Christmas night, "peace on earth, good will toward men". Americans borrowed traditions from here and there to celebrate the birth of Christ - the giving of presents and good cheer and getting together to enjoy families.

Conclusion:

The Season is still a mixture of traditions pulled from a multitude of sources. Perhaps there are vestiges of the ancient winter solstice celebrations, but the festivities today in no way point toward Mithra or Saturn. While Santa Claus ho ho ho's down main street on a firetruck, and Hershey makes a killing on aluminum-wrapped chocolate bells, the reality of Christ's birth still breaks through! Nativity scenes in downtown squares bring to mind the great gift of God - the King of kings laid in a manger, attended by shepherds. Children who see them have the chance to ask, "What is that?" Christmas carols that cry "The Lord is come" and "Come let us adore him" are sung from door to door, reminding us all of what God has done. It is a time of year when people can speak more freely of Jesus the Savior, and when even the faithless are willing to go to a Christmas Eve church service. It is truly a precious slot of time God has given us during which to spread the Good News of! His Son. Glory to God in the highest!

May your celebration of the birth of Christ honor him who gave himself to us as the ultimate sacrifice of love. May everything we do reflect the love and compassion of our Savior, and bring glory to his name.

Merry Christmas!!

Related Links:

Where is Christ in Christmas? - Crossroad.to
Mithraism
Mithra, Light of the World
The Xmas Story Part 3
The Real Story of Christmas - The History Channel
Christmas In CyberSpace - A Christ-Centered Site

Posted December 25, 2002.