What if the common impression of a holiday misses a greater understanding of a biblical sequence of events? What if the impression, albeit well intentioned, is just plain off track!
What if a description of a real sequence of events actually expands our understanding of events to expose a more significant picture of biblical intent and truth? What would be your response?
Christmas as a holiday is becoming overwhelmed by commercialization. This forces those with a religious focus to work harder to sustain the real meaning of Christmas. But what if we say a Hebrew/Jewish context can bring out the fullness of this holiday and at the same time reorient the biblical story … that many Gentiles think of as the birthday of the Savior. And if you are Jewish … have you missed this vital information?
BTW … we aren’t bashing Christmas here … read on, we think you’ll be amazed and perhaps grasp a greater respect for the true heart of common tradition.
First, to our Jewish readers we wish to say that the first mention of the Jewish Messiah is found in the first book of the Hebrew Bible. Most English translations present this verse in Genesis 3:15. This verse is referring to Messiah in terms of a “seed of a woman.” Isaiah later is telling us that the Savior would come by a birth from an ‘alma’ or as the English translation puts it, a virgin. What most of us … Jew and Gentile alike … don’t realize is that the word virgin comes through a Greek translation of the Isaiah text … a translation into the Greek made by Hebrew speaking Jewish persons. Jewish scholarship, not Gentile influence gives us the meaning in context. After all, Isaiah says the birth will be a sign … something significant … what could be more significant than a virgin birth (Isaiah 7:14). Unique beyond comparison. To it’s credit this should be the only focus of Christmas unto salvation. But let us continue further.
So the pronouncement by angels to shepherds out in the field … that the virgin would give birth … is not a Gentile notion, but an expectation that was put forth in both Genesis and Isaiah.
But hold that thought because the fact that shepherds were tending flocks in the field tells us that Messiah was not likely born in December … not in Israel during the colder months. This opens a possiblility. We won’t be dogmatic about this, but simply suggest that if the time was in the fall of the year, a logical sequence of biblical holy days, feasts and festivals can have a start at the Feast of Tabernacles. This would place the birth of Messiah at late September or early October, when shepherds would still be in the field.
But there is something else, markedly significant, that you may wish to study further. The biblical prophetical sequence that follows the holy days can both start and end with the Feast of Tabernacles. We will return to this point in a minute.
Further, if Messiah was born on the first day of the feast, then on the eighth and concluding day, this little Jewish male would have been circumcised. Interesting isn’t it … This is an eight day Bible declared Feast. What other biblically prescribed feast is so long? None, unless you count Chanukah, but we’ll get to that, too. The Feast of Tabernacles then aligns with a birth event associated with Jewish male infants. This is a fit that makes sense.
Further, because the book of Daniel provides a riddle, that once solved, points to the exact time of Messiah’s arrival … birth … and thus it was possible for Jewish persons who knew Daniel’s writings to be anticipating this arrival. And the Greek Scriptures, in fact, provide witness to this anticipation through the man Simeon … who waited at the Temple hoping to see Messiah (before he as an old man was soon to die). And this is fitting because the Temple stood, clean, and rededicated in waiting for Messiah.
Luk 2:25 And behold, there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon. And this man was just and devout, waiting for the Consolation of Israel. And the Holy Spirit was on him.
Why is the status of the temple important? See, we told you Chanukah would come into this. If in fact the historical events that brought us the Feast of Dedication (a.k.a. Hanukkah or Chanukah) fit the timeline after Feast of Tabernacles and before Passover, then this strategically aligns with the adult presence of Messiah who visited the temple AT the Feast of Dedication. While neither the revolt of the Macabees nor Chanukah are recorded int he Hebrew Bible (a.k.a. Tanach), the reality of this comes in the Greek text written by the Jew Yochanan … See John 20:10. The state of desecration brought on by Antiochus could not remain to the day of Messiah. And so the Macabees did what was required to honor Messiah. Jesus visited the Jewish Temple in it’s glory.
Joh 10:22 And the Feast of Dedication took place at Jerusalem, and it was winter.
The sequence of fall to winter aligns the Feast of Tabernacles and Hanukah … and next in the yearly cycle is Passover. We will leave a detailed discussion of Passover in PARALLEL with what is called Easter, or as some prefer … Resurrection Day. Yeshua, Jesus, grew to an adult and presented a ministry of signs through miracles, as an authentication of His identity, and wisdom in parables that makes sense to every reader today … As much sense as in the first telling years ago.
Move past the spring feasts and arrive at late summer and we see a parallel between biblical holy days that are yet to be fulfilled by Messiah’s actions. Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur parallel events described by Daniel and in the Book of Revelation. In brief, the day of atonement, Yom Kippur completes a cycle and ends this age we live in at present. But that ends to a new beginning and that is where we arrive back at the Feast of Tabernacles.
During Messiah’s first presence in this feast, we lived with Him and He with us … In the flesh.
At the feast to come, we will again be in His presence in the next era. A new era that is a step to the Eternal Order promised in the Bible.
Christmas is about the birth of the Messiah and His promise of eternal life is to all who believe … as Scripture puts it … To the Jew first and also the Greek (meaning all Gentiles).
This year put Christmas in it’s proper context. And note that Chanukah is in the Bible, but in the Brit Chadeshah, the New Covenant … which if you look for a reference to a new covenant … you can find that in Jeremiah 31:31.
You see, the scriptures are inter woven and self referencing … To thos who do not believe it is foolishness … To those who see the weave there is wisdom.
Be wise … enjoy Christmas in it’s real context and be blessed.
Merry Messiahmas to you and yours!
Dr. Peterson, Director