Guess who's having a birthday? (It's not Jesus)

With the Christmas holiday coming up, yet again the political religious right in the United States is complaining that the political left is waging a war on Christmas, attempting to blot out all traces of Christianity from American society in the ultimate goal to not-offend-the-whole-world.

I sympathize with the political right on this issue, because I'm fully aware of the political left's narcissistic attempts at multiculturalism, thus changing things like "Merry Christmas" to "Happy Holidays", Christmas parades to seasonal parades, anything to not-offend the whole world. It's silly.

But what I find ironic is the fact that both sides are waging their wars based on the false assumption that Christmas is a Christian holiday. It's true Christmas is now celebrated as Jesus' birth, but in actuality, it is neither Jesus' birth, nor does it originate in anything of Christ. To be blunt, Christmas has its roots in ancient paganism going back to the days of Nimrod (worshipped in ancient Israel as the false god Baal) and ancient Babel. It wasn't until the first so-called Holy Roman Emperor, Constantine, attempted to consolidate the various pagan cultures under his rule during the 4th century did pagan festivities like Saturnalia become re-labeled as a Christian holiday under a new name, Christmas.

The first bit we ought to address is the Christian claim to Christmas: that Jesus was born on December 25th. By the end of this article, you'll see from Scripture that Jesus was not born on this day. The date of the 25th is no coincidence, however, given that it was the birth of a famous son: Nimrod/Baal's son Tammuz, on whose death we weep for 40 days in the modern festival of Lent. (Which, by the way, is mentioned in Ezekiel 8 as an abomination to God).

So let's look at the birth of Jesus, and see whether there is any evidence he was born on December 25th. The following research from Biblelight.net shines some light on the subject.

On What Day Was Jesus Born?


While much of the world celebrates the birth of Jesus Christ on the 25th of December, can the actual day of Jesus' birth be determined from scripture? This question will be explored in some detail, and will yield a result that is quite intriguing. The first passage we will consider begins with the father of John the Baptist, Zacharias:

Luke 1:5 There was in the days of Herod, the king of Judaea , a certain priest named Zacharias, of the course of Abia: and his wife was of the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elisabeth.

Luke 1:8 And it came to pass, that while he executed the priest's office before God in the order of his course, ...

Luke 1:23 And it came to pass, that, as soon as the days of his ministration were accomplished, he departed to his own house.
Luke 1:24 And after those days his wife Elisabeth conceived, ...

The clue given to us here is that Zacharias was of the "course" of Abia.


The 24 Courses of the Temple Priesthood


King David on God's instructions (1 Chr 28:11-13) had divided the sons of Aaron into 24 groups (1 Chr 24:1-4), to setup a schedule by which the Temple of the Lord could be staffed with priests all year round in an orderly manner. After the 24 groups of priests were established, lots were drawn to determine the sequence in which each group would serve in the Temple . (1 Chr 24: 7-19). That sequence is as follows:

1 Chr 24:7

1. Jehoiarib

2. Jedaiah

1 Chr 24:8

3. Harim

4. Seorim

1 Chr 24:9

5. Malchijah

6. Mijamin

1 Chr 24:10

7. Hakkoz

8. Abijah

1 Chr 24:11

9. Jeshuah

10. Shecaniah

1 Chr 24:12

11. Eliashib

12. Jakim

1 Chr 24:13

13. Huppah

14. Jeshebeab

1 Chr 24:14

15. Bilgah

16. Immer

1 Chr 24:15

17. Hezir

18. Aphses

1 Chr 24:16

19. Pethahiah

20. Jehezekel

1 Chr 24:17

21. Jachim

22. Gamul

1 Chr 24:18

23. Delaiah

24. Maaziah

1 Chr 24:19 These were the orderings of them in their service to come into the house of the LORD, according to their manner, under Aaron their father, as the LORD God of Israel had commanded him.

Now each one of the 24 "courses" of priests would begin and end their service in the Temple on the Sabbath, a tour of duty being for one week (2 Chr 23:8, 1 Chr 9:25). On three occasions during the year, all the men of Israel were required to travel to Jerusalem for festivals of the Lord, so on those occasions all the priests would be needed in the Temple to accommodate the crowds. Those three festivals were Unleavened Bread, Pentecost, and Tabernacles (Deut 16:16).


The Yearly Cycle of Service in the Temple


The Jewish calendar begins in the spring, during the month of Nisan, so the first "course" of priests, would be that of the family of Jehoiarib, who would serve for seven days. The second week would then be the responsibility of the family of Jedaiah. The third week would be the feast of Unleavened Bread, and all priests would be present for service. Then the schedule would resume with the third course of priests, the family of Harim. By this plan, when the 24th course was completed, the general cycle of courses would repeat. This schedule would cover 51 weeks or 357 days, enough for the lunar Jewish calendar (about 354 days). So, in a period of a year, each group of priests would serve in the Temple twice on their scheduled course, in addition to the 3 major festivals, for a total of about five weeks of duty.


The Conception of John the Baptist


Now back to Zacharias, the father of John the Baptist.

Luke 1:23 And it came to pass, that, as soon as the days of his ministration were accomplished, he departed to his own house.
Luke 1:24 And after those days his wife Elisabeth conceived, ...

Beginning with the first month, Nisan, in the spring (March-April), the schedule of the priest's courses would result with Zacharias serving during the 10th week of the year. This is because he was a member of the course of Abia (Abijah), the 8th course, and both the Feast of Unleavened Bread (15-21 Nisan) and Pentecost (6 Sivan) would have occurred before his scheduled duty. This places Zacharias' administration in the Temple as beginning on the second Sabbath of the third month, Sivan (May-June).


1st Month

2nd Month

3rd Month

Abib - Nisan
(March - April)

Zif - Iyyar
(April - May)

Sivan
(May - June)

First
Week

Jehoiarib (1)

Seorim (4)

All Priests
(Pentecost)

Second
Week

Jedaiah (2)

Malchijah (5)

Abijah (8)

Third
Week

All Priests
(Feast of Unleavened Bread)

Mijamin (6)

Jeshuah (9)

Fourth
Week

Harim (3)

Hakkoz (7)

Shecaniah (10)

Having completed his Temple service on the third Sabbath of Sivan, Zacharias returned home and soon conceived his son John. So John the Baptist was probably conceived shortly after the third Sabbath of the month of Sivan.


The Conception of Jesus Christ


Now the reason that the information about John is important, is because according to Luke, Jesus was conceived by the Holy Spirit in the sixth month of Elisabeth's pregnancy:

Luke 1:24 And after those days his wife Elisabeth conceived, and hid herself five months, saying,
Luke 1:25 Thus hath the Lord dealt with me in the days wherein he looked on me, to take away my reproach among men.
Luke 1:26 And in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God unto a city of Galilee , named Nazareth ,
Luke 1:27 To a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin's name was Mary.

Note that verse 26 above refers to the sixth month of Elisabeth's pregnancy, not Elul, the sixth month of the Hebrew calendar, and this is made plain by the context of verse 24 and again in verse 36:

Luke 1:36 And, behold, thy cousin Elisabeth, she hath also conceived a son in her old age: and this is the sixth month with her, who was called barren.

Mary stayed with Elizabeth for the last 3 months of her pregnancy, until the time that John was born.

Luke 1:56 And Mary abode with her about three months, and returned to her own house.
Luke 1:57 Now Elisabeth's full time came that she should be delivered; and she brought forth a son.

Now working from the information about John's conception late in the third month, Sivan, and advancing six months, we arrive late in the 9th month of Kislev (Nov-Dec) for the time frame for the conception of Jesus. It is notable here that the first day of the Jewish festival of Hanukkah, the Festival of Lights, is celebrated on the 25th day of Kislev, and Jesus is called the light of the world (John 8:12, 9:5, 12:46). This does not appear to be a mere coincidence. In the book of John, Hanukkah is called the feast of dedication (John 10:22). Hanukkah is an eight day festival, celebrating the relighting of the menorah in the rededicated Temple , which according to the story, stayed lit miraculously for eight days on only one day's supply of oil.


The Birth of John the Baptist


Based on a conception shortly after the third Sabbath of the month of Sivan, projecting forward an average term of about 10 lunar months (40 weeks), we arrive in the month of Nisan. It would appear that John the Baptist may have been born in the middle of the month, which would coincide with Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread. It is interesting to note, that even today, it is customary for the Jews to set out a special goblet of wine during the Passover Seder meal, in anticipation of the arrival of Elijah that week, which is based on the prophecy of Malachi:

Mal 4:5 Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD:

Jesus identified John as the "Elijah" that the Jews had expected:

Mat 17:10 And his disciples asked him, saying, Why then say the scribes that Elias must first come?
Mat 17:11 And Jesus answered and said unto them, Elias truly shall first come, and restore all things.
Mat 17:12 But I say unto you, That Elias is come already, and they knew him not, but have done unto him whatsoever they listed. Likewise shall also the Son of man suffer of them.
Mat 17:13 Then the disciples understood that he spake unto them of John the Baptist.

The angel that appeared to Zacharias in the temple also indicated that John would be the expected "Elias":

Luke 1:17 And he shall go before him in the spirit and power of Elias, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just; to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.

So then, the Feast of Unleavened Bread begins on the 15th day of the 1st month, Nisan, and this is a likely date for the birth of John the Baptist, the expected "Elijah".


The Birth of Jesus Christ


Since Jesus was conceived six months after John the Baptist, and we have established a likely date for John's birth, we need only move six months farther down the Jewish calender to arrive at a likely date for the birth of Jesus. From the 15th day of the 1st month, Nisan, we go to the 15th day of the 7th month, Tishri. And what do we find on that date? It is the festival of Tabernacles! The 15th day of Tishri begins the third and last festival of the year to which all the men of Israel were to gather in Jerusalem for Temple services. (Lev 23:34)


Immanuel


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

Immanuel means "God with us". The Son of God had come to dwell with, or tabernacle on earth with His people.

John 1:14 And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.

The word in the Hebrew for dwelt is succah and the name of the Feast of Tabernacles in Hebrew is Sukkot, a festival of rejoicing and celebration:

Luke 2:7 And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.
Luke 2:8 And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.
Luke 2:9 And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.
Luke 2:10 And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.
Luke 2:11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.

Why was there no room at the inn? Bethlehem is only about 5 miles from Jerusalem , and all the men of Israel had come to attend the festival of Tabernacles as required by the law of Moses. Every room for miles around Jerusalem would have been already taken by pilgrims, so all that Mary and Joseph could find for shelter was a stable.

Also of note is the fact that the Feast of Tabernacles is an eight day feast (Lev 23:36, 39). Why eight days? It may be because an infant was dedicated to God by performing circumcision on the eighth day after birth:

Luke 2:21 And when eight days were accomplished for the circumcising of the child, his name was called JESUS, which was so named of the angel before he was conceived in the womb.

So the infant Jesus would have been circumcised on the eighth and last day of the Feast of Tabernacles, a Sabbath day. The Jews today consider this a separate festival from Tabernacles, and they call it Shemini Atzeret.


Conclusion


So, if you have followed the above reasoning, based on the scriptural evidence, a case can apparently be made that Jesus Christ was born on the 15th day of the month of Tishri, on the first day of the Feast of Tabernacles, which corresponds to the September - October timeframe of our present calendar!

Jewish month

Begins the
New moon of

John the Baptist

Jesus

1. Abib / Nisan

March-April

Birth of John
15 Nisan

4

2. Zif / Iyyar

April-May


5

3. Sivan

May-June

Conception of John
after 3rd Sabbath

6

4. Tammuz

June-July

1

7

5. Ab / Av

July-August

2

8

6. Elul

August-September

3

9

7. Ethanim / Tishri

September-October

4

Birth of Jesus
15 Tishri

8. Bul / Marheshvan / Heshvan

October-November

5


9. Chisleu / Chislev / Kislev

November-December

6

Conception of Jesus
? Kislev ?

10. Tebeth / Tevet

December-January

7

1

11. Shebat / Shevat

January-February

8

2

12. Adar

February-March

9

3


Tabernacles Future Fulfillment


It is also interesting to note the Tabernacles was a feast of ingathering of the Harvest (Exo 23:16 and 34:22). If Jesus' first coming was indeed on 15 Tishri, the first day of Tabernacles, then it is quite reasonable to presume that the harvest of this earth, the ingathering of the second coming of Jesus Christ, will also occur on precisely the same date. The unknown factor would be the year that this would happen.

22 comments:

  1. Hello Judah,

    It's been a while since I have been to your blog. This is an interesting article, done with your usual high level of research into the details. I am not one of those who get too upset because a shopping mall half way across the country chooses not to put up a Christmas tree. I can't speak for most Christians, especially Catholics, but, my notion has always been that Dec 25 was not the actual day. That has been pretty much the teaching, as I understand, across the Baptist and/or evangelical churches. I also understand the pagan roots of some of some of our Christmas traditions.

    Having said all that, I am not sure that it is important to pin done an actual date for the birth of Jesus. Obviously, society as a whole could care less because Jesus never enters most of their minds anyway...Christmas is no different. Apart from how we ended up at Dec 25, we as Christian families, can choose how and when (or even if) to celebrate the birth of Jesus. I think that Christmas is what you make it. I, and my family, choose to make it about Jesus. The fact that we don't do that on His actual birthday shouldn't really detract from that. We do that in other areas as well. We remember the birthdays’ of Washington and Lincoln (President's Day) on a day that neither was actually born.

    Most importantly, every day should be Christmas and Easter. I think that we should remember, with thankfulness and celebration, the fact that Jesus came, lived a perfect life, and died just for us. The gifts we give are the love we show and the things we do for others.

    Take care,
    Gary

    ReplyDelete
  2. Gary

    Thanks for stopping by and posting.

    Like you, I don't think the date of celebrating Jesus' birth is important. It is, after all, a completely man-made idea to celebrate his birth in the first place. If it were written in Scripture as a commandment, then I'd have a different opinion.

    It is, however, important that we have the knowledge of the un-Christlike backgrounds of our modern holidays. For instance, I was talking with an anti-theist recently who hoped to take me by surprise by presenting all kinds of evidence that our holidays are not about Jesus at all, showing me how dumb and ignorant we Christians are for celebrating them as Christian.

    Fortunately, having known full well for some time that Christmas was not Christian at all (neither are many of the symbols and rituals in the Christmas holiday), I stood my ground. Had I not any knowledge of this, however, I would've been taken aback and it would've weakened my faith, frankly.

    One thing that does bother me is the mixing of Godly and profane. We mix Jesus' birth with false-god symbols and rituals -- trees, balls on the tree, Santa Claus, to name a few -- all very pagan in nature, some of which God warned the Israelites about (the decorating of trees with silver, as well as Molech offerings, from which St. Nick derives from). We do all of these things ignorant of the fact they are not of God, and then mix them in with celebrating Jesus' birth, calling it Christian. That worries me a bit; God made it quite clear in Scripture that mixing holy and profane is wrong.

    It worries me because we're so caught up in our traditions that we don't even know we're doing rituals not of God. Frankly, it reminds me of the Pharisees, who were so caught up with religion and tradition, they didn't see Messiah right in front of their eyes. Like modern Christians, the Pharisees thought they were pleasing God by following their traditions, yet we are left with intriguing fact that it wasn't the sex workers, the lazy, or the tax collectors he rebuked; it was the religious people of his time.

    What scares me more is how many Christians, when presented with this information, react defensively instead of being open to truth. Again, reminds me of the Pharisees.

    I'm not saying Christians are Pharisees, of course not. I'm just drawing correlations between the two groups' deep ties to traditions not created by God.

    Let me tell you a true story, Gary. I was at my son's school Christmas play last year. They ended the play with a salvation message: "Do you believe that Jesus is your savior, born on Christmas day?" I had to roll my eyes. Bad way to start someone off to salvation, by having them confess something not true: Jesus being born on Christmas day is certainly not true. Why they made that part of a salvation message is beyond me...guess they had to tie Christmas in there somewhere.

    What do you think, Gary? Am I too concerned about these things? Should I not have any reason to worry about ignorance of these things?

    ReplyDelete
  3. Oh, Gary, I should mention, the research isn't mine. My post is just a manuscript of an original posting on biblelight.net, so kudos to them for the research.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Judah,

    I think that it all comes down to the intent of your heart. We put up a tree every year, the day after thanksgiving without fail. We put ornaments on the tree that mean something to us. “Baby’s first Christmas,” etc. They don’t really have meaning to us beyond that. They certainly have no conscious ties to worship of any kind…either to God or pagan worship.

    Looking at it another way: What is an idol? Someone may construct a wooden horse and fall down and worship it. To him it is an idol, and what he is doing is evil before the Lord. To me it is a wooden stature gathering dust on a shelf. It has no meaning to me other than maybe my grandfather mad it for me. I always come back to Romans 14. To me it all comes down to faith. It may have been a while since you have read it. I would suggest you read it again in the context of what we are discussing and maybe we can discuss it some more.

    We could also discuss this in terms of 1 Corinthians 10. They both end up in the same place.

    Take care,
    Gary

    ReplyDelete
  5. Gary,

    It's alright, I don't mean to cause division or condemnation by what I'm saying.

    I agree that intent of the heart is important. Having a Christmas tree and decorating it, making it the centerpiece of the house is still different than taking an evergreen, decorating it, and worshiping it or making it a god, as some in Biblical times were doing (as Jeremiah mentions). The difference is intent.

    I have some questions. Gary, I hope you don't take these as attacking or insinuating, I'm asking because I want to know what you think. What do you think Christmas means to God?

    Here's how I feel about it: it is man-made, it comes from the worship of false gods, we still use pagan rituals in the celebration, the world has now commercialized it.

    So, when I think of Christmas, I don't think of it as something God would be pleased with. I do believe God is pleased with the fact that some people who are celebrating it -- I assume, for instance, your family Gary -- are doing it out of trying to please God.

    I honestly don't think that if Jesus were here, right now, he'd be celebrating Christmas, nor would he put up an evergreen for tradition's sake.

    I'm aware of Romans 14, as I've been deeply studying Paul for the last year or so. I'd like to hear how you think we should reconcile his "go ahead and eat any food" talk with his and the disciple's agreement about the Noahide laws in the book of Acts. I think there's also confusion about the "food" spoken of in this chapter -- food meant anything edible, and Paul, being the Jew who studied under Rabbi Gameliel, didn't consider certain animals as food. :-)

    Anyways, I think Paul's main point in Romans 14 is to keep peace and love above differences in theology, which you and I have done, I believe.

    So, shabbat shalom (sabbath peace) as we Jews say on Sabbath, which begins at sundown tonight. And even though I disagree with it, Merry Christmas, and peace and blessings to you Gary. Take care.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Judah,

    I guess I was unclear about the direction I was heading. I wasn’t talking about condemnation or division directly. You touched on it later and it can simply be stated, “What pleases God?” Is God pleased by what we do for Him? Is God pleased by what we don’t do for His sake? What does God say? Hebrews 11 makes it clear that without faith it is impossible to please God. Look what it says in Romans 14:22, “The faith which you have, have as your own conviction before God.” I believe that our convictions come from God. Do I have the same convictions that you do? We don’t appear to. But, that’s OK. Look what it says in verse 5, “One person regards one day above another, another regards every day alike each person must be fully convinced in his own mind.”

    It says in 1 Corinthians 10:23, “All things are lawful, but not all things are profitable all things are lawful, but not all things edify.” (I believe that truly does mean all things) Notice what is going on in that passage. Paul isn’t saying that it is unlawful to eat meat that is sacrificed to idols, which would have caused an observant Jew to…well you fill in the blank. He did say that if you found out before hand that it was meat sacrificed to idols, then you should pass it up. Not for your sake or for your conscience, but for the sake of the one who offered it.

    So, all things are lawful for us, but there is no profit if what we do causes our brother to stumble. For example, before I was saved I drank a lot. It was how I hade a good time and pretty much every thing I did was connected with drinking in some fashion. After I was saved, God miraculously removed my desire to drink. It wasn’t a conscious effort or decision I made to “clean myself up.” It was a work that God did in my heart. I also believe in my heart that it is OK for a Christian to drink alcohol. I believe that it is permissible for me to take a drink, but it is not profitable. Profitable for whom? Drinking alcohol was a big part of my identity and I think that it is important for others to see that my identity is now with Jesus. That is my conviction before the Lord (Romans 14:22). Judah, what if I found out my neighbor, who is a new Christian, had the conviction that we shouldn’t do any manual labor on Sunday. There is obviously no Biblical basis for this. I wouldn’t have any problem (and I don’t think you would either) going out and cutting my grass on Sunday afternoon. But, if in doing so, I cause my neighbor to stumble, even though it is lawful, where is the profit? (Romans 14:13)

    So, Judah each of us stands before the Lord in our own convictions; those convictions come from the Lord and are received by faith. If what we do is not of faith, if it is our attempt, maybe through our own reasoning, to somehow please God by our actions then is God really pleased? (Hebrews 11:6, Romans 14:23) If it is your conviction, before the Lord, that putting up a Christmas is wrong, then please don’t. I have my own convictions in the matter and God has His own purposes in each. Shalom.

    Your Brother in Christ,
    Gary

    ReplyDelete
  7. I always struggle with that, Gary..."all things are lawful". If all things are lawful, why did God lay down the law in the first place? If all things are lawful, what is sin?

    I honestly think Paul is not saying everything is OK to do. If he was, he'd be going against all the of the Old Testament, Jesus (Mat. 5:17), and even against his own words and his agreement with the Apostles in Acts. If everything was OK to do by God, then sin doesn't exist.

    Here's what I think, Gary. We love our traditions so much -- like you said, baby's first Christmas, putting up an evergreen the day after thanksgiving, decorating it with silver, lights, hanging balls on it, fastening it down -- that we want to justify our traditions at any cost. We let our love of our traditions blur our goal of being holy people to God.

    Jeremiah 10:

    Hear what the LORD says to you, Israel.

    This is what the LORD says:
    "Do not learn the ways of the nations
    or be terrified by signs in the sky,
    though the nations are terrified by them.

    For the customs of the peoples are worthless;
    they cut a tree out of the forest,
    and a craftsman shapes it with his chisel.

    They adorn it with silver and gold;
    they fasten it with hammer and nails
    so it will not totter.

    Hammered silver is brought from Tarshish
    and gold from Uphaz.
    What the craftsman and goldsmith have made
    is then dressed in blue and purple—
    all made by skilled workers.

    Everyone is senseless and without knowledge;
    every goldsmith is shamed by his idols.
    their images are frauds;
    they have no breath in them.


    Don't learn the ways of the nations. The traditions that aren't of God are worthless.

    So don't take a tree and idolize it by decorating it, making it the centerpiece of your house, singing around it, sitting around it and opening gifts, placing stars on it, tying emotions and memories into it. Those things are "ways of the nations", they are not of God no matter how much we try to tie Jesus our Master into them.

    As a replacement, do what Jesus would do, and celebrate the holidays Jesus himself celebrated, the one's commanded in the Bible to celebrate. (John 10:22). :-)

    ReplyDelete
  8. Today's my birthday.

    Now, go out and celebrate it!

    (Yes, I know, it's almost over!)

    :-P :-)

    ReplyDelete
  9. Judah,

    Why did God give us the law? The Bible tells us in Galatians 3:

    It was added because of transgressions. v19
    To shut up everyone under sin. v22-23
    A tutor to lead us to Christ. v24

    In verse 25 Paul tells us now that faith has come, we no longer need a tutor, for we have been clothed with Christ (v27). Skip down a little farther in to Galatians 4. Those who live under the Law are called slaves to the Law. But we have been redeemed Judah, we are no longer slaves; we are sons and not only sons but heirs (v7). In verse 9 Paul warns the Galatians not to turn back and be enslaved by weak and elemental things. What are those things? Verse 10 includes the observance of days and months and seasons. Paul asks the question of those who want to be under the law, “do you not listen to the law?” In 2 Corinthians 3:7-8 Paul calls the Law a ministry of condemnation and death.

    Judah, we are no longer under the Law, we are under grace. The Law has been replaced by a “higher” law, the law of love. We have been set free from the Law (Galatians 5:1). None of those things have any meaning; the only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love (Galatians 5:6), the love of Jesus expressed in us and through us. Does that give us a license to sin? Of course not (v13). But look at what comes next, Judah. In verse 14, and in other places, the Bible tells us that the entire Law is fulfilled in the statement: “You shall love you neighbor as yourself.” When Christ said that He didn’t come to do away with the Law, but to fulfill the Law, this is what He meant. The Law is fulfilled by Him through us. How is this done? Look at verses 16 through the end of the chapter. If we walk in the Spirit, then we don’t carry out the desires of the flesh.

    The fruit of the Spirit is produced by Jesus and borne by us (John 15). That fruit will never be produced by our feeble attempts to try and keep the Law. Look what it says in Romans 8:2-8:

    For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death. For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did: sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh, so that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. For those who are according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who are according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace, because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so, and those who are in the flesh cannot please God.

    Judah, the just shall live by faith and not by the flesh. What does all of this mean, practically? It means that, by faith, you ask Jesus to live His life in you and through you and, by faith; you trust that He is doing so. By faith, you accept His promise that He will change you from the inside out (Philippians 2:13) and not from the outside in as the Law required. It is a moment-by-moment walk of faith in which you trust God to do something only He can do. And He will do it, because we are His. We have been bought with a price. Do you think that God would let something He paid for, at such a high cost, rot on the ground? No, He takes us and molds us into vessels met for His service. It may seem to you that there is very little molding going on in the lives of others, but if those others are truly His, then they are in His hands to do with as He pleases. It is not up to us to say one way or the other. He will take each of us where He wants us to go. Judah, as a Christian, we truly can live life like we want to, but through faith it is God who gives us our “want to’s.”

    Tying this back to what I said earlier, God will shape each of our convictions in a matter. By faith, I am trusting God to place me on the path He wants me to go. If the conviction I hold is not His will for me then, by faith, I trust Him to change it. It is not something I have to agonize over. The Christian life is supposed to be a life of rest in your spirit, not of agony. It can only be lived by faith.

    Take care,
    Gary

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  10. Gary, we can debate the purpose of the Law and it's modern relevance -- in fact, I'd really like to, given that what you are implying (that Paul is saying we should do away with the Law) does not fall in line with what Jesus said in his "basics of the faith" sermon in Matthew 5:17-20. Or even Paul's own words and agreement with the apostles regarding which laws from the Torah should new believers follow. Or even Paul's own actions in circumcising Timothy, taking a Nazarite vow, or his own celebrating of the Feasts of the Lord.

    Honestly and frankly, I feel somewhat saddened that you call God's Feasts and his commandments "weak and elemental". Man, that's sad. 1 John says we know we love him if we keep his commandments. The fact that we are not only disregarding his commandments but also slandering them is worrisome and saddening to me.

    But I don't want to get too far off topic here -- we can debate all that another time.

    What I am saying -- that Christmas is not of God, in fact, is of false gods and idolatry -- has nothing to do with the Law. It has everything to do with humans holding on to man-made traditions which blind people to God, as was the case back in Jesus' day.

    But, Gary, all I ask is that you do keep an open heart to it. If God convicts you at some point in your life that such things are "ways of the nations", as Jeremiah put it, then I hope you'll respond out of a desire to please God, rather than your desire to hold onto the traditions you are accustomed to as a gentile believer in Messiah.

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  11. Judah,

    I certainly didn't come here to cause you any sadness. I have come here to share the grace of God and what it means in the life of a Christian. I can't make you see it, that is something God will have to show you. I pray that you will be open to the revelation. I feel like you didn't read my whole post. You accuse me of saying things, but I am mearly sharing what Paul wrote.

    We could spend time on each detail. For example you raised the example of circumcision. Yes, the bible says that Paul circumcised Timothy. But look what it says about why it was done in Acts 16:3...because of the Jews. However, in Galatians 2:3 Paul refused to circumcise Titus, a Gentile. Did Paul forget, did he change his mind, or did he do it out of love...out of deference to others who were weaker in faith (Romans 14)?

    I don't know all of the answers Judah, but I do know that I love the Lord and it is my desire, whether you believe it or not, to please Him. I believe it is faith that pleases Him and that there is absolutely nothing, apart from faith, I can do to please Him. God called David a man after His own heart. Why did He do this? Was it because David kept the Law to the letter? No, David's failures were many. It was by faith that David gained approval (Hebrews 11). David simply believed God. But Enough of that, I will leave with this: May we each grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. The author and perfector of our faith.

    Take care,
    Gary

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  12. I read your whole post; I didn't address parts where you debate the purpose of the Law, because I didn't want to get too far off-topic. I guess I can address them here; I don't want you to think I'm ignoring your arguments.

    Your quoting of Paul didn't sadden me, but your taking Paul's words to mean something so terrible did sadden me. I honestly don't believe Paul slammed the Law or relegated it to be meaningless. Doing so would have contradicted Paul's master, Jesus the Messiah, who said in Matthew 5 that anyone who teaches others to break the Law will be considered least in the Kingdom of Heaven.

    Thus, we either have a conflict in the Bible, or you are taking Paul out of context, or I am taking Jesus out of context. I hoped that by Paul's actions I could show you that Paul was not at all against the Law, but rather, against the teaching that one can be saved by the Law.

    Paul refused to circumcise Titus out of spite for the group that was saying "follow the Law, or you're not saved". Paul even says this directly in one of his letters. Like the Pharisees, this group was missing the point of the Law: love. They were too focused on the outward symbolism, rather than on the more important matters of the heart.

    In regards to following God's commands, like you, I know following the Law doesn't save anybody. It's especially apparent once you realize that no one, except Jesus followed the Law perfectly. (We know Jesus was the only sinless person, and Paul says the Law's purpose was to define sin.)

    On the issue of grace, I am as pro-grace as any southern Baptist, Gary. :-) The area I differ is on the idea that one can live however one wants to and still be pleasing to God. I don't believe, for example, one can ask Jesus into his heart, then go on continuing to live like an unsaved sinner. That's trampling the blood of Jesus, treating this amazing grace like it were nothing.

    The author of Hebrews feels that if one has grace, your works, your fruit will show it. I think too many people abuse grace and use it to continue sinning. Paul says in Romans 6 how grace is meant as freedom from sin, not as freedom to sin. He points out in the very next chapter (Romans 7) that it is the Law that defines sin.

    As a matter of reality, I am not "under" the Law in that I know if I sin (break the Law), I am forgiven because Messiah took the curse of the Law (death) for me, even if I don't deserve forgiveness under the law code that God laid down for humanity. That's what grace is: forgiveness even though you don't deserve it. I'm all for it. :-)

    Gary, you said you know you love the Lord, and it is your desire to please Him. I realize that. Thank you for that, you really are a mentor to me in that respect, especially in how you deal with people who reject God.

    On the topic of pleasing Him, the author of 1 John says that if we love him, we'll follow his commandments. Gary, you're already following most of the commandments, I assume: you're not committing adultery, you're not murdering, stealing, coveting, and so on. Jesus said of all the Law, the 2 laws on which all the rest of the Law hangs are these: to love God and to love others. In essence, then, aren't you already following the Law, Gary?

    Regarding convictions, I understand what you're saying: that it is God that convicts a man what is right and wrong. And further that this conviction is what matters to God.

    Well, faith is what matters to God. What I contend, is that actions also matter. If this were not true, why not believe fiercely in God, yet live a double life? After all, if works do not matter, then what's the point in laboring over all this good works stuff? It's easier and more pleasurable in the short term to do evil works.

    Yet we have the evidence that sin still exists, and also that faith is dead without works (see James). What "works" are we talking about here? Gary, there is only one group of "works" in the Bible that define right and wrong. Without this succinct definition of right and wrong that we have in the Law, the Church ends up in the confusion we have today. Without the Law, there is no basis for stopping sin in our churches - homosexual church leaders, for example, are completely acceptable if one throws out the Law as useless. After all, the New Testament is not a book of law, but a book of grace from punishment of the Law.

    Have I addressed all your points? Tell me if I haven't, I don't want to ignore any of the points you've made.

    Before I end this post, let me tie this back to the original topic: the godliness of Christmas. You said in your first post that "Christmas is what you make it." It is whatever you make of it, but that's a rather selfish, self-serving way of looking at it. How does God look at it? I think God made that clear in Jeremiah 10.

    Saying a work or action is whatever you make of it, good or evil, is a slippery slope to relative morality. So, one could say, having a Buddha in one's house is OK, because I don't make a god out of it; it's just a decoration. Gary, I don't think that would go over very well as a talking piece if I were hosting the Messiah for dinner some night. :-)

    Likewise, the Christmas tree is an idol we put up, year by year, in the tradition of our fathers. No matter how much we sing about Jesus, there's still an idol in our house. No matter how many nativity scenes we put under the tree, they're still under and idol. That's not right, not right under the Law -- of course! -- but not right under the Law of Christ, either.

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  13. Jesus Christ was concieved on
    December 25th. Reading the passages
    that you posted, in regards to
    John the Baptist's conception date,
    the courses of the priests...I thought you were going to make
    note of the same---the time of
    Jesus Christ's conception, in
    your conclusions.
    How far along in pregancy was
    Elizabeth when Mary greeted her
    and John leaped in Elizabeth's
    womb at
    the presence of Yashua?
    We rejoice on December 25th ...just like
    John did!

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  14. It would've been late in the month of Kislev, which doesn't necessarily correspond to the 25th of December. Especially given that the Biblical Hebrew calendar is lunar-based, it most certainly wouldn't fall on one particular solar calendar-based day of a month, such as Dec 25.

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  15. Judah,

    I was going through some old bookmarks and I returned to your blog. I'm impressed by your research and your desire for truth.

    I too desire for truth and I can understand your frustration with Christians who love tradition more than truth. As a fellow sola-Scripturaist I have to conclude that when a tradition violates scripture, scripture must be given authority.

    I differ with your premise in two areas. First, I submit that you are committing the Genetic Fallacy in saying that Christmas is wrong or pagan because its origins are pagan. The Genetic Fallacy: "You commit this fallacy if you judge the truth or otherwise of an idea based on its origins."

    What matters is how Christmas is celebrated today--not the actual day Christ was born. Take care to not become like the pharisee who created non-scriptural laws (don't drink!, don't handle!, don't touch!) and placed them upon the shoulders of the people.

    I would argue that celebrating Christmas is a matter of conscience, not of law. If your conscience allows you to celebrate it without being scandalized by the origins of the holiday, then so be it. If your conscience is bothered by the fact that Jesus wasn't actually born on Dec. 25th, then don't celebrate it. But do not press your laws upon others lest you become a Pharisee.

    After all:

    One person esteems one day as better than another, while another esteems all days alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind.
    -- Romans 14:5

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  16. Hey man,

    I remember you, it's been a long time. Welcome back.

    Ok, so you feel since Christmas isn't about worshipping idols anymore, it's OK to do it now. Fair enough.

    Couple questions: how do you feel about the tree? It is still decorated and paraded around like Jeremiah describes, it's made the center of the home, people tie memories and emotions into the tree (hand "baby's first Christmas", etc.), open presents under the tree, sing around the tree, place baby Jesus in a manger under the tree: ignoring where the idolic background of this tradition, isn't it true we're idolizing trees now? What's your take on that?

    One more question. Since Halloween certainly isn't about celebrating satanic witchcraft anymore, do you feel celebration of that holiday is OK for a believer in Messiah?

    Sliding down this slope, I don't worship or adhere to the teachings of Buddha. Since I don't believe him to be a god or an idol, is it OK for me to have a Buddha statue in my home? Again, if Messiah were staying at your place for dinner, would you still prominently display it?

    It seems to be a slippery slope to say, "If your conscience tells you it's OK, then it is OK." I mean, isn't that relative morality? Isn't that contrary to the idea of Law and sin? And if the Law is not absolute, then neither is sin, and if not sin, then grace (forgiveness of sin by Jesus' sacrificial death) is neither global, absolute, or meaningful.

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  18. Hi Judah, you answered fast!

    So if I'm understanding you, the day itself doesn't bug you as much as the tree--because the tree has an idolic background. Correct?

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  19. Nice, I already knew that.
    But did you know that Mary (who was really named Miryam) was never commanded to name her son Jesus?
    Nope. He never heard that name on his ears.
    The Greek text gives Joshua the same name in Greek as they did this Jesus name. SO guess what?
    The letter J and the associated sound only came into existance about 500 years ago.
    So the name isn't Joshua either.
    More like Yahushua.
    That's the name above all other names.
    Yahwehsaves!!!!
    Always did, always will.

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  20. c0ach, well, there are things about the day that bothers me. Celebrating Jesus' birthday on Dec 25th was not mere coincidence. "Holy" Roman Emperor and first pope Constantine, a former Mytra-worshipper (that is, essentially Sun worship), set this day to coincide with the birth of Tammuz. So that's rather disturbing.

    But the rituals: the trees, the balls on the trees, yule tide, mistletoe, lights on the tree (originally, candles or lamps on the tree), to name just a few. These are all things that were created as false-god symbols. For example, the balls on the tree were formerly the testicles of Ra, the Egyptian Sun god (borrowed Mythraism, of which Constantine was a follower). The tree was a phallic symbol, on which hung these balls.

    There is some truly disgusting, un-Christ-like origins of Christmas that we still keep today, out of ignorance. People really have no idea where these things came from, or what they symbolize, yet we go on doing them out of tradition. Even worse, we religious people defend these things that obviously have nothing to do with Jesus or his birth.

    To sum, there are lots of pagan practices going on in the name of Jesus. I don't like that.

    Ultimately, it comes down to celebrating things that Jesus and Scripture never command (on the contrary, Jeremiah 10 explicitly states we shouldn't be doing these things).

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  21. Gene, you are right, Jesus is the translated name.

    Original is Y'shua (shorted version of Yehoshua, from which we derive Joshua).

    As I understand it, Greek did not have a Y sound. The closest sound was I, so the name became something like IEOSUAS. English didn't have a J letter until later on, I believe until Middle English started appearing. At that point, it was common to have male names starting with J, as it is still common in modern English. They took the Greek Ieosuas and replaced the I with a J, and dropping the O and A, you've got Jesus.

    And yes, the original "Y'Shua" in Hebrew means "salvation", or literally, Yahweh Saves. Pretty cool. One of my favorite Messianic songs: Lamb - Yeshua Means Salvation.mp3

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