When Was the Incarnation?
JESUS WAS NOT BORN IN DECEMBER!
Most scholars agree that, according to the Scriptures, the Incarnation could not have been in December. In other words, Jesus could not have been born on December 25. This fact does not seem to deter the millions of people around the world, not to mention retailers, from continuing the tradition to celebrate on this day. The celebration of the Feasts of the Lord often elicits arguments if not breaks in fellowship, and yet try to tell a non-Jewish Christian not to celebrate Christmas, a holiday which springs from pagan roots….well you’ve got a real fight on your hands.
My intention here is NOT to argue, debate, judge or to try to change anyone’s mind. Personally I love the celebratory atomosphere and the fact that the name of Jesus is on so many lips. My intention here is to give you information.
SO WHEN WAS JESUS BORN?
Jesus was NOT born in December. “And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night.” (Luke 2:8)
DECEMBER IS COLD!
Anyone who has visited Israel in late November or December understands the folly of thinking that shepherds would have been in the fields at night. While days in Jerusalem might be sunny and actually warm, when the sun begins to set about 4 PM, everyone reaches for warm jackets!
DECEMBER IS WET
With the end of the Feasts of Tabernacles in late September or early October, the latter rains begin. Even our paved roads are sometimes hard to travel. Imagine what it would have been like to travel on dirt roads. Herod would never have called for a census in December
“While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.” (Luke 2:6-7)
The only times Jerusalem would be so crowded was during the three pilgrim feasts:
- Passover in the Spring
- Shavuot (Pentecost) in the Summer
- Succot (Tabernacles or Booths) in the Fall
There would not have been an overcrowded situation in December. Miriam (Mary) and Joseph would have found a place to stay. So WHEN was Jesus born? Many people suggest that He was born during the Feast of Tabernacles. They base this on the promise that one day God would again “tabernacle” with His people. I suggest that through the Holy Spirit, God IS tabernacling among His people. And yes, there will come a day when He will do so again in the flesh. I further suggest, not affirm mind you, that perhaps…just perhaps He was born during the Feast of the Memorial or Rosh haShanna.
To be continued…
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How to Celebrate the Feasts of the Lord?
“How should we celebrate the feasts of the Lord?” is a question I am constantly asked. Are you wondering how to Celebrate the Feasts of the Lord? The answer is simple….”BE YOURSELF!” But when a Jewish believer recently asked the same question I was really surprised. Perhaps I shouldn’t have been surprised. Actually the one who asked the question had been convicted by my insistence to put the new wine of the Holy Spirit into a new wineskin. In other words, as Messianic believers, (Jews who love and follow Jesus) we have an opportunity to break from the traditions of our heritage…traditions instituted in many cases by people who refuse to embrace Jesus. First let me back up to the way I answer the above question.
“Celebrate the feasts in any manner you so desire – just keep Jesus preeminent.”
I believe our celebrations are more about the WHO and the WHEN of the feasts than about the HOW. Because most of the holidays commemorate a specific historical event, the WHAT of the holiday is important but is eclipsed by the object of our celebration – Jesus! To answer to any question of regarding the issues of faith, let us turn to God’s instructions in the pages of the Bible. So what does HE say about His feasts?
- They were to be times of rest – cessation from regular and sometimes from all work.
- Three times a year the men were to bring the firstfruits of their harvest to the Temple in Jerusalem.
- Specific feasts have certain requirements:
- Passover was to be observed with a communal meal including roasted lamb, bitter herbs, and unleavened bread. Because Jesus instituted communion at His Passover celebration, we can include wine in our celebration. The Passover celebration was to recount God’s deliverance of Israel from bondage.
- The Temple observance of Pentecost included the unique wave offering of two loaves of bread, on one sheet waved before the Lord.
- During the Feast of Tabernacles, the people were instructed to live in booths made of the branches of “beautiful trees.”
If we stopped at these instructions, we would be stuck in the pages of the Old Testament. Since Jesus is the object of all our celebrations, we move forward in history to what happened or will happen on those three holidays during His life on earth.
- Jesus was crucified on Passover, buried on Unleavened Bread and resurrected on firstfruits. These three individual holidays are usually considered as one – Passover.
- God gave His people the gift of the Holy Spirit on the Feast of Pentecost.
- The Feast of Tabernacles will be celebrated by ALL nations when Jesus returns to rule from Jerusalem (Zechariah 14:16)
When a good friend (a Gentile pastor) wanted to know how I celebrated, this is howI answered him:
You know I believe that each of us celebrate in our own ways according to our own traditions and culture. You are western don’t try to celebrate in any other way. You cannot and should not try to be eastern, Jewish or Hebrew…you’re not. Be who you are. In that way, others will not feel that the feasts are so foreign. So what I do really has no significance or shouldn’t because I’m different and in a different culture.
That said, what I do for all the holidays is to remember who God is and what He has done and then worship so that means a time of teaching and testimony. Our celebrations always revolve around the feast table with family and friends. Communion is always part of our celebrations. For me and my friends, celebrating the holidays is about getting together with family and friends. Our celebrations are personal and intimate which is the “eastern” heart and mind.
Let the Lord break the box! I love you all! j
So dear friends, enjoy your celebration!