ANOTHER COFFEE BREAK: CHRISTMAS
December 26, 2014
It has been a constant source of amazement to me that Jesus has always been painted as poor and indigent -- never mind what the Word clearly states. Ever since the Council of Nicaea in 325 AD, error after error after error has crept into the body of Christ, and promulgated with traditions that have no validity in the Word. The compromises that Constantine made with church leaders in order to bring the Roman Army into the church and declare them to be "Christian" have contaminated the truth ever since.
Before we launch into some Biblical and historical facts, let me strongly recommend the following DVD to you and a good site where you can purchase it. Christian Book Distributors (CBD) sells THE STAR OF BETHLEHEM produced by attorney, Stephen McEveety. My reason for recommending this DVD to you is that it provides extremely accurate astronomical data in demonstrating just when Jesus was born and when the Magi visited Him.
We've all been contaminated throughout the generations with the idea that Jesus was born on what amounts to December 25th on the Julian calendar. The problem with the Julian calendar is that it is totally out of sync with God's calendar -- the calendar everyone likes to refer to as the Hebrew or Jewish calendar. It misses completely the Word that was given at Creation when God specifically said:
Genesis 1:14-18, KJV: And God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years: And let them be for lights in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth: and it was so. And God made two great lights; the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night: he made the stars also. And God set them in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth, And to rule over the day and over the night, and to divide the light from the darkness: and God saw that it was good.
The key here is that God specifically made the Sun, the Moon and the Stars -- NOT just for a division between day and night, but for His signs, for seasons, for days and for years! That's critical to our understanding as we move forward.
With this concept firmly planted let's look now at some specific days that God ordained to be set aside as His days.
First is the Feast of Passover.
"And thus shall ye eat it; with your loins girded, your shoes on your feet, and your staff in your hand; and ye shall eat it in haste: it is the LORD’S Passover." (Exodus 12:11)
"And this day shall be unto you for a memorial; and ye shall keep it a feast to the LORD throughout your generations; ye shall keep it a feast by an ordinance forever." (Exodus 12:14)
"And ye shall observe the feast of unleavened bread; for in this selfsame day have I brought your armies out of the land of Egypt: therefore shall ye observe this day in your generations by an ordinance forever. In the first month, on the fourteenth day of the month at even, ye shall eat unleavened bread, until the one and twentieth day of the month at even. Seven days shall there be no leaven found in your houses: for whosoever eateth that which is leavened, even that soul shall be cut off from the congregation of Israel, whether he be a stranger, or born in the land. Ye shall eat nothing leavened; in all your habitations shall ye eat unleavened bread." (Exodus 12:17-20)
What we see with this Feast is that this was an event to be celebrated "forever!" That word in the Hebrew text is 'olam -- a word which can be translated: throughout the eternity of the eternities. This was not just a Jewish feast, or one that Israel ONLY was supposed to keep: this feast was kept by Christians continually until Constantine's "Edict of Toleration" in which Christians were forbidden to honor it.
In the seventh month on God's calendar, He specified the following feasts:
Leviticus 23:24-25, KJV: Speak unto the children of Israel, saying, In the seventh month, in the first day of the month, shall ye have a sabbath, a memorial of blowing of trumpets, an holy convocation. Ye shall do no servile work therein: but ye shall offer an offering made by fire unto the LORD.
The first day of the seventh month, therefore, begins with what we know as "The Feast of Trumpets." Then we see the following:
Leviticus 23:26-31, KJV: And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, Also on the tenth day of this seventh month there shall be a day of atonement: it shall be an holy convocation unto you; and ye shall afflict your souls, and offer an offering made by fire unto the LORD. And ye shall do no work in that same day: for it is a day of atonement, to make an atonement for you before the LORD your God. For whatsoever soul it be that shall not be afflicted in that same day, he shall be cut off from among his people. And whatsoever soul it be that doeth any work in that same day, the same soul will I destroy from among his people. Ye shall do no manner of work: it shall be a statute for ever throughout your generations in all your dwellings.
Thus, on the tenth day of the seventh month, we see the Day of Atonement. There's a term that appears here that gets missed in the English translation out of the Hebrew, the word, dor (which comes from the root, dur) and is translated "generations." In fact, the word more properly translates as: a revolution of time. The root word, dur, means: to revolve, to move continually in a circle. While the translation, "generations," certainly applies, our English word loses the picture of revolving continually without end -- hence, time without end! I'll talk more about this momentarily.
But we're not done with the seventh month.
Leviticus 23:33-41, KJV: And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, Speak unto the children of Israel, saying, The fifteenth day of this seventh month shall be the feast of tabernacles for seven days unto the LORD. On the first day shall be an holy convocation: ye shall do no servile work therein. Seven days ye shall offer an offering made by fire unto the LORD: on the eighth day shall be an holy convocation unto you; and ye shall offer an offering made by fire unto the LORD: it is a solemn assembly; and ye shall do no servile work therein. These are the feasts of the LORD, which ye shall proclaim to be holy convocations, to offer an offering made by fire unto the LORD, a burnt offering, and a meat offering, a sacrifice, and drink offerings, everything upon his day: Beside the sabbaths of the LORD, and beside your gifts, and beside all your vows, and beside all your freewill offerings, which ye give unto the LORD. Also in the fifteenth day of the seventh month, when ye have gathered in the fruit of the land, ye shall keep a feast unto the LORD seven days: on the first day shall be a sabbath, and on the eighth day shall be a sabbath. And ye shall take you on the first day the boughs of goodly trees, branches of palm trees, and the boughs of thick trees, and willows of the brook; and ye shall rejoice before the LORD your God seven days. And ye shall keep it a feast unto the LORD seven days in the year. It shall be a statute forever in your generations: ye shall celebrate it in the seventh month.
During the early years of the body of Christ -- in fact, during the first couple of centuries -- Christians kept these feasts. They understood that God's command to keep these feasts 'olam -- throughout the eternity of the eternities -- didn't just apply to the Jews under the Mosaic Law, God's command applied to His people -- and there was no question that as Christians, they had been grafted into God's select company.
Sadly, Christians today have been stuck with the belief that to keep these feasts is to be stuck with and caught up in legalism. To be sure, we don't offer burnt offerings; WE are the burnt offering unto the Lord, having been purified by the blood of Jesus and by the Holy Ghost and fire!
Now, I know many of you are looking cross-eyed at me and saying, "What in the world does any of this have to do with Christmas?" My first answer to you is, "watch the DVD, THE STAR OF BETHLEHEM." My second answer is, "consider the significance of the dates on the Hebrew calendar within the framework of Jesus' birth, His death on the Cross, His resurrection, His command to the disciples to NOT go forth to teach or to preach "until ye be endued with power from on high" -- and event which began with Pentecost -- and, finally, His promise that He would return to dwell with us again.
Consider, now the following implications of these feasts, and how they relate.
On the night that Jesus was born, Luke records that shepherds were in the fields, watching their flocks during the night. That is not a wintertime event in Israel. Because Luke tells us that the angel of the Lord came to tell the shepherds of the birth of the Messiah, and immediately following the sky was filled with angelic hosts praising God and saying, "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth, peace, good will toward men."
According to all that we can ascertain historically, and considering corresponding events in the heavens that are clearly recorded, this would have happened as early as the fourth of September on our calendar (and the first day of the seventh month on the Hebrew calendar, Tishrei), or as late as the 24th of September (also the first day of the seventh month on the Hebrew calendar). This places Jesus' birth on the Feast of Trumpets.
Using the phenomenal work that Stephen McEveety did with his astronomical research as it relates to the Star of Bethlehem that announced Jesus' birth, and the travel time that it took the Magi to reach the young child after having seen the Star, we know from the Greek text of Matthew 2:8 that by the time they reached Jesus, that he was above two years of age.
How do we know this, you ask? The Greek word used in Matthew 2:8 is the word, paidion. This word is significant because it does not describe a new-born babe. Consider the five words in Greek that describe the growth and development of a person.
(1) Brephos describes a child in the womb between conception and birth. (2) Nepios describes a child between birth and the age of two when it is expected that the child has been weaned from the mother's milk. (3) Paidion describes a child after being weaned from the mother's breast until it reaches the age of 12 (for a boy) or 13 (for a girl).
(4) Teknon describes a child who has reached the age of accountability. [From a spiritual perspective, Paul describes this in Galatians 4:1-2 as "being under tutors and governors until the time appointed by the father."] The ceremony for a boy at age 12 is bar-mitzvah. The ceremony for a girl at age 13 is known as bat-mitzvah.
(5) Huios is the word that describes a son who has generally reached the approximate age of 30, has finished his tutoring and has father's approval to act in his stead to operate father's business in his name. Once "the time appointed of the father" is reached, a general ceremony takes place in which father announces to his friends and associates, "this is my beloved son in whom I am well pleased."
As is obvious, it takes no great imagination to see this same pattern unfolding with Jesus. Tracking the position in the sky of the Star of Bethlehem that led the Magi to Jesus in Bethlehem, we have every reason to believe that they arrived at the home of Mary and Joseph to bestow their incredible and lavish gifts on this young "King of Kings" on December 25th, if you correlate it to the Julian calendar. Going back to my opening commentary on the fact that so many Christians think Jesus lived His life in abject poverty, the Magi came to see Jesus – either as kings themselves, or as representing kings from major eastern countries – to honor Him as the King of Kings. Kings NEVER brought token gifts to other kings, and in this case, the Magi would have brought lavish gifts. If we use the analogy of the Queen of Sheba bringing what calculates in modern terms to the equivalent of $119 Million in gold as a gift honoring Solomon, the Magi would have brought nothing less to the One they were honoring as the King of Kings!!
I have no problem celebrating December 25th as an important day in Jesus' life, but it was not the day that Jesus was born. Using Steven McEveety’s calculations from the signs in the Heavens, it is most probably the day that Jesus was conceived in Mary’s womb – the day that the Angel, Gabriel, appeared to her and announced that she would be the mother of the long-awaited Messiah! December 25th was a day adopted by Constantine in agreement with the various bishops -- a day that corresponded with a heathen feast, Saturnalia, on the Roman calendar. Constantine issued an edict in utter ignorance of God's commands which forbade the Christians to observe what he called "Jewish feast days," when in fact Christians had been celebrating them continuously. Jesus kept the feasts, and the feasts were signs of major events on God's calendar.
Let me wrap up quickly today by saying that at the exact moment during the Feast of Passover at 3:00 PM in the afternoon (specifically on the Day of Atonement) when the High Priest was slitting the throat of the sacrificial lamb, Jesus expired on the Cross -- slain for the sins of the world as the once-and-for-all sacrifice.
When Jesus rose from the dead and appeared to hundreds of people over a period of some 40 days, and then prepared to ascend into heaven, he instructed the disciples to "tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem until ye be endued with power from on High."
Fifty days from the day that He was crucified and died on the Cross, the Feast of Pentecost was celebrated, and Luke tells us in Acts 2 that when the day of Pentecost "was fully come" the disciples, their families and others who had joined with them "were all with one accord in one place."
Luke goes on to tell us of the unfolding of Pentecost as Holy Spirit appeared as fire, tongues of fire sat down on the heads of those gathered, "And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance." Thus, the Feast of Pentecost -- as a feast to be commemorated continually among God's people -- took on the manifestation that Jesus promised before He ascended into Heaven.
If I understand anything at all regarding the Feasts being a fulfillment of God's timetable for His people, then we can expect Jesus to return to fulfill the Feast of Tabernacles in order to dwell with us continually. The Feast of Tabernacles is on the 15th day of the seventh month, the month of Tishrei.
Thus we see the pattern unfolding in Tishrei: (1) on the first day of the month, we celebrate the Feast of Trumpets -- the day that Jesus was born; (2) on the 10th day of the month, we celebrate the Feast of Atonement, when Jesus became the sacrificial lamb -- the "Lamb slain from the foundation of the earth"; and (3) the 15th day of the seventh month, which is the Feast of Tabernacles – the Lord dwelling with us. Jesus was and is the pattern Son for us all.
That said, Merry Christmas to you all!
We have a little more to share on the baptism of fire, and we will return to these discussions on foundations next week.
During the rest of this Christmas holiday season, our Healing Prayer Calls have been suspended. Monday, January 5th, the calls will resume our normal schedule. Once again, the number to call for our healing call is (805) 399-1000. Then enter the access code: 124763#. To get into the queue for prayer, when Randy opens the call up for everyone, hit *6-1 on your keypad. Let us minister to your need for healing!
Blessings on you!
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