It’s that time of year again where millions of Christians will rise up and say, "Put Christ back into Christmas." Or, "Jesus is the reason for the season."
Now, just in case you think that I am against Christmas, rather, the birth of the Messiah, let me ease your pain: I am not! However, in this blog, I am going to attempt to reveal the true time for the celebration of the birth of Christ.
My daughter Rebekah just turned 11 on Kislev 1, 5768 (November 11, 2007). Now, just for laughs, Jennie, her mother, and I mentioned that we would not celebrate her birthday until the 4th of Shvat (January 11, 2008). Well, as you can imagine this did not take too well with our daughter. She was very excited to have her friends over, and go bowling, and eat a whole lot of home-made pizza. Naturally, her plans were immediately spoiled when we said that she won’t be turning 11 until January. (Relax, we didn’t exasperate our little girl. We celebrated her birthday on time.)
Although, our little girl would have been very disappointed to have celebrated her birthday so late, she would have done it. Why? Because it meant so much to her. Now, I know that Yeshua wouldn’t be so easily offended, but think about this: Every year, millions of the Lord’s children celebrate his birth at least two months off schedule. I realize there have been thousands, nay, millions of arguments and excuses as to why we celebrate Christmas on the 25th of December, but is this the real time to celebrate Christmas?
In Leviticus 23:1 the Hebrew Bible says this, "Yahweh spoke to Moses saying: Speak to the children of Israel and say to them, ‘Yahweh’s appointed festivals that you are to designate as holy convocations–these are My appointed festivals. . . . These are the appointed festivals of Yahweh, the holy convocations, which you shall designate in their appropriate time‘" (vv. 1 and 4, The Stone Edition, Second Edition, 1996) (emphases and Yahweh mine).
In verses 33-44, the appointed time of Sukkot is outlined. Sukkot (Feast of Tabernacles) was celebrated with a temporary dwelling (sukkah-shelter) during the time of Israel’s harvest. Sukkot was also one of the three main pilgrimages to Jerusalem each year. During Sukkot, the farmer is reminded about the need for Yahweh even in his time of abundance, and the temporary shelter is significant to the frailty of man. The first day of Sukkot is considered a high Sabbath, meaning that although it may not fall on the Sabbath Day (Saturday–Friday sunset to Saturday sunset) no work is to be done. The last day was to be treated as a Sabbath as well. During these eight days, the Exodus is recalled, and festive eating and sharing is done. People are encouraged to invite others to come and celebrate inside the sukkah and eat with them.
Due to the census of Caesar Augustus there was no place for Miriam (Mary) and Yosef (Joseph) in the Inn, so they had to use a temporary shelter for Yeshua’ birth. In John 1:14 it reads, "The Word became flesh and made His dwelling (tabernacle) among us. We have seen His glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth" (NIV). In Matthew 1:23 it reads, "The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him E’manu-El (Emmanuel), which means, ‘God with us’" (parenthesis mine, NIV).
Is it any wonder why Yahweh established these appointed festivals called, "Mo’edim" in Hebrew, in the first place? Any student of the Scripture would see that Yeshua fulfilled Pesach (Passover) to the tiniest detail. Not too mention, He also fulfilled First fruits, and Shavuot (Pentecost). Why would He then, not fulfill the Feast of Tabernacles? I could continue detailing the significance of Tabernacles to the believer, but suffice it to say, Sukkot is the real Christmas!
Therefore, Sukkot should be celebrated by all believers in Yeshua! Not only as our remembrance of the freedom from sin (Exodus), or as Yeshua being the everlasting shelter (sukkah-covering-tabernacle) of man, or the Provider of all our riches in Christ, but also as our Savior, our Emmanuel, and our future covering (sukkah). The Mo’edim are Yahweh’s appointed feasts and festivals for a reason. They did not end with Yeshua’s death and resurrection, nor when the "Church" declared December 25th the birth of Christ. (This was merely the birthday of Tammuz–the son of Nimrod and Semeramus already being celebrated by a pagan influenced Rome.) Nor, is Sukkot only a Jewish celebration, for it is a celebration for the Jew and the grafted-in non-Jew. (. . . from generation to generation. Leviticus 23.) There was no need to "make-up" a shot-in-the-dark birthday for the Savior’s birth, for Yahweh proclaimed it and demanded us to celebrate it years in advance in Leviticus. Now I know that, for the most part, Christians will not easily change their traditions, but I guarantee that if you begin to celebrate Sukkot in light of this being the real birth of the Messiah, then you will not be disappointed. And, eventually, you will not be two months late in singing Emmanuel.
When we celebrated Sukkot this year, we sang Messiah Carols (Christmas Carols); built a temporary shelter; invited friends; exchanged gifts; read the Exodus story; asked for forgiveness of sins, and rested in Yeshua, our Tabernacle, around the fire and talked about His wonderful deeds in our lives. Is this not what Christmas is all about? Not too mention, this is done for eight days! If Yahweh invented Sukkot for a reason and called it His appointed festival, should not those, who are called by His name, celebrate His festival? Won’t you join us next year for a truly wonderful Sukkot–Christmas celebration?
Adrian A. Bernal
"Changing the way people think, one blog at a time."
PS. Although some Jewish scholars admit the possibility that Chanukah is a belated Sukkot celebration, it is more so the believer’s foreshadow of our celebration over the anti-Messiah (anti-Christ). Thus, Yeshua himself celebrated it. Chanukah is not the Jewish substitution for Christmas, regardless, of what others think. Read my previous blog on Chanukah below.
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2 responses to “Will the Real Christmas, Please Stand Up!”
Very informational, thank you for blogging this. You said millions of Christ-follower celebrate His birthday on Dec. 25th each year – you know what else is funny? – What is a common meal to celebrate the Messiah\’s Birthday and Resurrection? ham! b/c afterall….Yeshua would have been eating Pork right? : )-Rob
Rob: Thanks for the encouragement. I do get some hate mail about this stuff because traditions are more instilled in people than simple truths. For instance, I once did a Bar-Mitzvah (traditional as well) for a young person in "English" rather than Hebrew because the young man wanted to get more out of his reading then simply speaking Hebrew and not knowing what he was saying. Well, you would have thought that the Second Coming had commenced! Oh well, all is good. I enjoy the debates and the differing perspectives on these issues, especially when it comes to Christianity\’s separation from biblical Judaism\’s festivals.
PS. About 15 years ago I noticed that ham was the major consumption during all of Christ\’s celebration. I wondered. Was this because we were set free from the Law, or was it because of early anti-Semetism