Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Celebrating Jesus' (Yeshua's) Birth

This blog post is in response to many of our family and friends that have asked us why we aren't celebrating Christmas, and when do we celebrate Jesus’ birth. We had a lot of fun as a family putting it together.  It's cool when your older kids have opinions and are able to contribute to spiritual discussions.  I forgot that Abigail put a post on her blog last year about Christmas.  We just reread it and Paul figures it's better than ours: 
Even though there is no way to know for sure when Jesus was born, Paul read a pretty convincing article that theorizes when Jesus’ birth really was.  It traces when John the Baptist’s father Zachariah’s time of service was in the temple:

Luke 1:5  There was in the days of Herod, the king of Judea, a certain priest named Zacharias, of the division of Abijah. His wife was of the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elizabeth.

According to scripture (1 Ch 24:3, 1 Ch 24:10) and an explanation of how the priests services worked by the historian Josephus, Zachariah served twice a year during the 8th service and John was conceived right after Zachariah’s temple service ended.  The priestly services began at the beginning of the year which is in the spring according to Exodus and Deuteronomy :

Exodus 12:2  "This month shall be your beginning of months; it shall be the first month of the year to you.
Exodus 12:18  In the first month, on the fourteenth day of the month at evening, you shall eat unleavened bread, until the twenty-first day of the month at evening.
Deuteronomy 16:1  "Observe the month of Abib, and keep the Passover to Yahwh your God, for in the month of Abib Yahwh your God brought you out of Egypt by night.
Abib in Hebrew means tender or green as in barley at the earliest stage it can be harvested.  The spring of the year.

    Taking into account that all of the priests served during Passover/Unleavened Bread and Pentecost, Zachariah’s service would have been in the 10th week after the new year either May/June and 6 months later in Nov/Dec. (The Gregorian calendar floats when you compare it to God’s calendar.  So every year the days are a little different.)

Luke 1:23-31  So it was, as soon as the days of his service were completed, that he departed to his own house.  Now after those days his wife Elizabeth conceived; and she hid herself five months, saying,  "Thus the Lord has dealt with me, in the days when He looked on me, to take away my reproach among people."   Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth,  to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin's name was Mary.  And having come in, the angel said to her, "Rejoice, highly favored one, the Lord is with you; blessed are you among women!"  But when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and considered what manner of greeting this was.  Then the angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God.  And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name JESUS.

Luke 1:36  Now indeed, Elizabeth your relative has also conceived a son in her old age; and this is now the sixth month for her who was called barren.
This verse was spoken to Mary just after she learned that she was pregnant with Jesus.

John would have been born 6 months before Jesus and therefore, Jesus would have been born in either March/April or Sep/Oct.  Here’s a link to an article that goes into great detail with sources listed   on the timing of Jesus’ birth.    Many (including myself) are convinced from other prophecies, some of which are listed in the above article, that Jesus would have been born during the Sep/Oct time frame and specifically at either The Feast of Trumpets or The Feast of Tabernacles.

No one today knows for sure how Dec 25th was chosen to celebrate Jesus’ birthday, but we do know that there were at least two ongoing celebrations before Jesus’ birth, the Roman "birth of the unconquered sun” and the Persian “Sun of Righteousness”, both having to do with the winter solstice that occurred a few days prior.  I’m guessing that the Christians at that time did with Christmas what I have done in the past (but will no longer do) with Halloween.  I attended a fall “Harvest Festival” on Halloween night with my Christians friends and we all had our costumes on.  I now think that that was not pleasing to God and that instead of trying to Christianize pagan celebrations, we should distance ourselves from them.  God tells us as much in Deuteronomy:

Deuteronomy 12:30  take heed to yourself that you are not ensnared to follow them, after they are destroyed from before you, and that you do not inquire after their gods, saying, 'How did these nations serve their gods? I also will do likewise.'

Two of the gospels give accounts of Jesus’ birth and, although we are not commanded to celebrate Jesus’ birth, 2 Timothy says that:

2 Timothy 3:16  All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness,

In my opinion, a better time to recount the events of Jesus’ birth would be during the Feast of Tabernacles.  It is one of the eight times that God specifically set aside for us to celebrate special days for various reasons and it is very likely the actual time of Jesus’ birth.  I believe God has a plan that was set in motion before the world began and He knew exactly what He was doing when He set those times aside.  Not only do I believe that Jesus was born on the Feast of Trumpets or during the Feast of Tabernacles (The Feast of Tabernacles starts 15 days after the Feast of Trumpets), but I believe He will return for His bride the church on the Feast of Trumpets.

If we change the date when we recount the events of Jesus’ birth, we need to ensure that we leave the pagan traditions we picked up from celebrations to false gods behind.  When we moved to the Athabascan Indian village of Nondalton, they celebrated Christmas according to the Russian Orthodox traditions.  Many of their customs were strange to us and seemed to be based more on superstition than anything else.  So, we chose not to participate in those customs.  We were convicted to stop celebrating Christmas a few years ago and the further we distance ourselves from our old traditions the easier it is for us to see that many of the traditions we were practicing were just as rooted in pagan practices as the Russian Orthodox traditions that did not set right with our spirit.  I have even found a few scriptures that, although they do not specifically reference Christmas, they are described as pagan and they remind me of some of our Christmas traditions:

Jeremiah 3:13  Only acknowledge your iniquity, That you have transgressed against Yahwh your God, And have scattered your charms To alien deities under every green tree, And you have not obeyed My voice,' says Yahwh.

Jeremiah 10:2-4  Thus says Yahwh: "Do not learn the way of the Gentiles; Do not be dismayed at the signs of heaven, For the Gentiles are dismayed at them.  For the customs of the peoples are futile; For one cuts a tree from the forest, The work of the hands of the workman, with the ax. They decorate it with silver and gold; They fasten it with nails and hammers So that it will not topple.

Isaiah 14:8  Indeed the cypress trees rejoice over you, And the cedars of Lebanon, Saying, 'Since you were cut down, No woodsman has come up against us.'
The context of this verse in Isaiah is that Babylon has been defeated and the verse is referring to the king of Babylon:

The following is taken from the Wikipedia post on Christmas:

“Following the Protestant Reformation, groups such as the Puritans strongly condemned the celebration of Christmas, considering it a Catholic invention and the "trappings of popery" or the "rags of the Beast".[49] The Catholic Church responded by promoting the festival in a more religiously oriented form…
…The Parliament of Scotland officially abolished the observance of Christmas in 1640, claiming that the church had been "purged of all superstitious observation of days".[72] It was not until 1958 that Christmas again became a Scottish public holiday.[73]
In Colonial America, the Puritans of New England shared radical Protestant disapproval of Christmas. Celebration was outlawed in Boston from 1659 to 1681. The ban by the Pilgrims was revoked in 1681 by English governor Sir Edmund Andros, however it was not until the mid-19th century that celebrating Christmas became fashionable in the Boston region.[50]
Instead of arguing whether or not we should be celebrating Christmas on the 25th of December, I think we would all do well as Christians to concentrate on celebrating the appointed times that God put forth in scripture for us to celebrate.  He tells His people to celebrate them forever.  Whether I am one of the lost tribes of Israel or whether I am grafted into God’s people because of my love and obedience to Him (1 John tells us that love and obedience are the same thing.), I am one of God’s people. So, when He tells His people to celebrate His appointed times forever, that includes me.  They are laid out in Leviticus 23 and they provide us with 19 days appointed by God to be set aside to Him.  With the exception of the Day of Atonement, which is a day of solemn rest and fasting, they are days of rejoicing and remembrance for what He has done and will do for us.  Included in those eight appointed times is the weekly Sabbath He commands us to observe, which gives us close to 70 days every year set aside to Him.  (Incidentally, Hanukah is not one of the times God commands us to celebrate.)  Because we don’t have Yahwh’s temple today there are many aspects of His appointed times that we cannot observe.  But, we can set these times aside and follow God’s instructions as closely as we can.  As a family we have found that we have learned a great deal about past and future events from scripture as we have observed His appointed times.  Some of the events that we celebrate during His appointed times are His deliverance of His people from Egypt, Jesus’ death and resurrection and the pouring out of His Spirit at Pentecost.  And based on the calculations made above, Jesus’ birth.  If, after you have made a big deal out of these days, you still feel the need to celebrate some more, don’t do it because everyone else around you is doing it.  Do it because you’ve prayed about it and feel that God is okay with it.  To paraphrase Paul in Romans and Colossians, don’t get mad at me if I don’t celebrate Christmas and I won’t get mad at you if you do J

Romans 14:5-12  One person esteems one day above another; another esteems every day alike. Let each be fully convinced in his own mind.   He who observes the day, observes it to the Lord; and he who does not observe the day, to the Lord he does not observe it. He who eats, eats to the Lord, for he gives God thanks; and he who does not eat, to the Lord he does not eat, and gives God thanks.  For none of us lives to himself, and no one dies to himself.  For if we live, we live to the Lord; and if we die, we die to the Lord. Therefore, whether we live or die, we are the Lord's. For to this end Christ died and rose and lived again, that He might be Lord of both the dead and the living.  But why do you judge your brother? Or why do you show contempt for your brother? For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ.  For it is written: "AS I LIVE, SAYS THE LORD, EVERY KNEE SHALL BOW TO ME, AND EVERY TONGUE SHALL CONFESS TO GOD."   So then each of us shall give account of himself to God.

Colossians 2:16-17  So let no one judge you in food or in drink, or regarding a festival or a new moon or sabbaths, which are a shadow of things to come, but the substance is of Christ.
The best way to learn about the shadow of things to come, is to
Keep the Feasts! 
Jesus did, Paul did and Paul told us to:

1Corinthians 5:8  Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth. 


John said...


William Clark said...

Interesting article. I respect that your family challenges the status quo, and doesn't' just buy in to something because everyone else is doing it. I don't believe in "trunk or treat" or any christian attempts to adapt to halloween. Halloween is of the devil, and evil through and through. It was evil in history, and it is evil today, and anything associated with it is sin. Christmas, on the other hand, as many Christians celebrate it is not evil. It doesn't really matter WHEN Jesus was born. Bodie Hodge did his research, and he says Jesus was most likely born in June or July. But it still doesn't matter. What matters is our remembrance of Jesus during Christmas. Christmas is Christ-focused. That is true Christmas. ((The gospel)).Jesus' incarnation, life, death and resurrection. So that is why Christians please God when they celebrate it. Some choose not to have a Christmas tree, or use mistletoe, and that's perfectly fine. As for your family, it's perfectly good and fine within your Christian Liberty to choose not to, and the same for those who choose to celebrate it. You don't want to defile your conscience. I like what your article said: "Don't be mad at us and we wont be mad at you" I personally wouldn't have a problem with celebrating Christmas because TODAY, No one associates Christmas with anything evil today. No one, not even the historians think "oh yah those Christians are celebrating the pagan festival of Saturn." Christmas in America is an American tradition, celebrated by good ol' American folk for centuries. It' American culture and tradition now. There's a lot of sincere good things in Christmas, but It's gospel centered.(as it should be). The Bible says that NT Christians could eat meat offered to idols, as long their conscience wasn't offended by it, and as long as they received it with thanksgiving to God. I do the same with Christmas. We are supposed to focus on Christ every day. (including Easter, Christmas, and Halloeen) So Christians should not be judged for remembering Christ on those days which some see as taboo. In conclusion I think Christians should respect your family's beliefs in this, because you seek a pure conscience before God. In Christ, -William Clark