Was Jesus Born on Christmas Day?
Rethinking the Fall Feasts of Israel
We have all heard the imaginative stories of how the Lord’s second coming will coincide with the Fall Feasts of Israel.
I assume you are somewhat familiar with this prophetic concept. It is the idea that the Spring Feasts were fulfilled at the close of Jesus’ earthly ministry. Then, the Fall Feasts will be fulfilled at his second coming.
The Pattern: Spring Feasts
Jesus clearly fulfilled the Spring Feasts on the exact day of the week of the religious ceremonies at the end of his earthly ministry, including Pentecost. Why should we be asked to believe the Fall Feasts would be different, and spread out over some intangible timeframe?
The Fall Feasts are not different, and were fulfilled at the beginning of his earthly ministry.
Now reason with me just a minute. The Feasts were part of the Law of Moses. Unfulfilled Law means an unfulfilled ministry of our blessed Saviour. In Luke 16:16, Jesus said:
“The Law (he would now satisfy its demands), and the Prophets (the coming of the Messiah), were until John…”
The whole of the New Testament that we preach (to the Gentile, and yes to the Jew) is Christ’s finished work on the cross. Were not some of his last words “It is finished?”
Let’s take a quick look at some scripture verses to substantiate this:
“…having offered one sacrifice forever…” (Heb. 10:12 KJV)
“…so Christ was once offered…” (Heb. 9:28)
“…for in that he died, he died unto sin once…” (Rom. 6:10)
“… for this he did once, when he offered up himself.” (Heb. 7:27)
“Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us.” (Heb. 9:12)
“…but now once in the end of the world hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself.” (Heb. 9:26)
“…we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.” (Heb. 10:10)
“…when he had by himself purged our sins…” (Heb. 1:3)
“For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone that believeth.” (Romans 10:4)
“…having abolished in his flesh the enmity, the law of commandments…” (Eph. 2:15)
“...taking it out of the way and nailing it to his cross…” (Col. 2:14)
(The Greek word is katargeo for the scholars, which I am not).
Now, we must ask ourselves what it is about the word once that we don’t understand. There is no possibility of lingering Law left unfulfilled by Yeshua. I hope you understand the ramifications of believing that Yeshua left some portion of the Law of Moses to be a yoke of bondage, or that his sacrifice is incomplete. Let us avoid going down a path that is ludicrous and heretical.
We can allow our imagination to run wild and conjure up all sorts of creative prophetic concepts. It just isn’t scriptural. Brent McDonald of Lion Tracks Ministries says,
“Through the Law, God showed our need of a perfect high priest and a perfect blood sacrifice. Christ was both. As our perfect sacrifice and eternal high priest, the need of any lesser earthly priesthood and sacrifices is forever done away with.”
The Fall Feasts were fulfilled.
But when and where did Jesus fulfill the Fall Feasts?
I am not going into a lengthy description of what Jewish custom ascribes to the Feast of Trumpets.
Suffice it to say that the Feast of Trumpets has to do with beginnings, creation, and coronations. For more details, go to http://www.askelm.com/star/star008.htm.
Now, it goes without saying that God would not just “shovel” his only begotten son and the promised Redeemer of mankind into a confused mixture of time, space, and matter. The beginning of his earthly ministry was just as planned and perfectly orchestrated to fulfill the Law as was the close of his earthly ministry.
The Basic Assumption:
The ministry of Jesus lasted exactly three and one-half years (much has been written about this, and I do not need to repeat it). I was intrigued by Luke 4:24-26, which seems to offer cryptic confirmation.
Now, if the ministry of Jesus lasted 3.5 years, ending at Passover, when must it have begun? That’s right! The beginning of the Jewish year, the Feast of Trumpets.
John the Baptist looked up one day and saw Jesus making his way toward him. He exclaimed “Behold the Lamb…” (John 1:29). By this, he understood Jesus was to be the personification of the sacrificial Law of Moses. When John hesitated to baptize him, Jesus stated that “it becometh us to fulfill all righteousness” (Matt 3:15). He of course meant the righteousness of the religious system of sacrifices and practices–the Law of Moses.
He states in Matthew 5:17
“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.”
Do you suppose maybe he really meant this?
Our story, then, begins in Nazareth, on the Feast of Trumpets, the beginning of the new year. For thirty years, Jesus had grown in stature with God and man. The time had come at last for him to begin his public ministry. But this day was special; it was his birthday. By the time he reached John, Luke 3:23 states that he began to be about thirty years old (age for rabbinic authority). In addition, thirty years before, Mary and Joseph had traveled to Bethlehem for a census. For more details on this, go to http://www.askelm.com/star/star006.htm.
As the Law was given with the sound of trumpets and angels in attendance (Acts 7:53; Gal. 3:19), so the Living Word, the messenger of the New Covenant, was given on the Feast of Trumpets, with angels witnessing to the shepherds of the grace of God.
Jesus would now leave Nazareth. For some time, a voice crying in the wilderness had been proclaiming that all flesh would see the salvation of our God.
A prophet named John was leading multitudes to renewal during the Ten Days of Repentance. This period begins on Rosh Hashanah (The Feast of Trumpets) and ends on Yom Kippur (The Day of Atonement).
From Judea and Jerusalem they came; some sincere, some insincere.
“John did baptize in the wilderness, and preach the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins. And there went out unto him all the land of Judaea, and they of Jerusalem, and were all baptized of him in the river of Jordan, confessing their sins.” Mark 1:4-5
The hypocrites were lashed by fiery words of condemnation for making a show of repentance by this type of Elijah. Even (gulp) publicans and (Roman) soldiers participated (Luke 3:7-14).
The point is that this was a unique occurrence when an assortment of people came to be baptized and supports the claim that this activity occurred during the ten days of repentance.
For several days Jesus walked as he made his way along the east side of the Jordan, traveling the seventy-five miles to the wilderness area of Bethabara.
The eighth or ninth day of the ten days of repentance found John finishing up with ceremonial baptisms.
Making a ritual pilgrimage to the Jordan was a normal part of the traditional practice at this time of the year because Jews customarily gather at a nearby stream or river to symbolically cast away their sins. This ceremony is called Tashlikh, (meaning to cast off) and includes the verse from Micah (7:19) “…and you will cast all of their sins into the depth of the sea.”
Importantly, there was Messianic expectancy among the people at this season (Luke 3:15). Perhaps the rabbis had calculated the seventy weeks of Daniel, and determined that the Messiah was due to arrive at the beginning of this new year.
At some break in the activity, John the Baptist looks up, and sees the one about whom the Spirit had been inwardly speaking to him. Excitedly, he proclaims “Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sins of the world” (John 1:29). Here was the Messiah of Israel, and he was to have a part in his “Coronation.”
Finally, all the people were baptized (Luke 3:21). The ten days of repentance ended at evening, and Yom Kippur was at hand.
Jesus is now baptized, and the Holy Spirit rests upon him. As the high priest confessed the sins and iniquities of the people upon the scapegoat, Jesus the Messiah became the goat not only of Israel, but of the whole world.
Immediately he goes “into the wilderness” (Leviticus 16:22).
It is now time for the eight days of celebration known as the Feast of Tabernacles, a time to remember the coming out of Egypt, and dwelling in the wilderness. Alfred Edersheim writes in The Temple: Its Ministry and Services,
“…the harvest-thanksgiving of the Feast of Tabernacles reminded Israel, on the one hand, of their dwelling in booths in the wilderness, while, on the other hand, it pointed to the FINAL HARVEST when Israel’s mission should be completed, and ALL NATIONS GATHERED UNTO THE LORD” (p.268-269 emphasis mine).
In the personification of this feast, Jesus begins to live out and fulfill the event, not for the prescribed eight days, but (fasting) for forty days, enduring the taunts and temptations of the devil (at some point in Jerusalem, and another point on a mountain).
There is an obvious relationship between Moses receiving the “words of the covenant” when he fasted for forty days, and Jesus becoming the messenger of the New Covenant.
The manna that came down from Heaven would now offer life to all.
Masterfully, he overcomes; the beginning of the ministry of Jesus saw the Holy One anointed with power, and the seventieth week of Daniel had begun.
The Feasts of Trumpets, Day of Atonement, and Tabernacles were fulfilled at the beginning of the Messiah’s ministry. (Zechariah 14:16 is not messianic satisfaction of the Law. It is repetitive celebration and commemoration.)
Is There A “Seven Year Tribulation Period”?
Nowhere in scripture is there ever made mention of a “seven year tribulation period.” Always the time of the end is 3.5 years, such as:
Daniel 7:25; Daniel 9:27; Daniel 12:7, 11; Revelation 11:2-3; Revelation 12:6, 14; Revelation 13:15.
Now I trust you will understand the significance of the 3.5 year ministry of Jesus. It was the seventieth week of Daniel, divided in half.
The Hebrew word achar, translated “after” in Daniel 9:26, means “afterward,” or “after-that.” This suggests that the “cutting-off” of the Messiah occurred after the sixty-nine weeks, which places it during the seventieth week. For a full explanation of the proper translation please read this book:
http://www.amazon.com/Seventy-Weeks-Daniel-Prophetic/dp/0939422034/ref=sr_1_10?ie=UTF8&qid=1449929008&sr=8-10&keywords=the+seventy+weeks+of+daniel (I will share with you that the seventy weeks ran consecutively and sequentially).
The Lord Jesus perished exactly in the middle of the seventieth week of Daniel’s prophecy.
And when was that?
At Passover of course, and that is exactly where the final 3.5 years will resume when the Antichrist performs the ultimate abomination of desolation (a Temple in Jerusalem will be built. The original Temple was never where the Dome of the Rock stands today). See http://www.askelm.com/news/n151217.pdf.
Now, if we add 3.5 years to Passover, just where do you think that ends? That’s right! The Feast of Trumpets; the true LAST TRUMP!
I believe that what I have proposed is “reasonable conjecture.”
The Mosaic Law never instructed the high priest to get some Romans to beat a lamb, drag it through the streets of Jerusalem, and crucify it on a hill outside the gates of the city.
Yet, no one disputes Passover typology.
That is because the messianic personification of the Law of Moses was not mimicry; it was essence, defined as the following:
- The intrinsic or indispensable quality or qualities that serve to characterize or identify something.
- The inherent, unchanging nature of a thing or class of things.
- The most important part or aspect of something.
What we have are dramatic, never to be repeated events taking place on the exact days(s) of the Fall Feasts and the Spring Feasts. These circumstances in the life of Jesus were arranged by divine design, at the beginning and the end of his earthly ministry, to fulfill the essence (so to speak) of each Feast.
This was miraculous, between Jesus and God, and directly related to the personification and satisfaction of the Law of Moses, the ushering in of the New Covenant, and the rest of Luke 16:16:
“…since then the good news of the kingdom of God is preached, and everyone forces his way into it.”
So, the process of fulfillment was supernatural, only spiritually discerned after the fact, and clearly taught by Paul.
This divine fulfillment was so masterful that even John began to question things (Matt. 11:3). It did not match the preconceived ideas and expectations of messianic arrival.
The pitfall concerning the Fall Feasts has been to look for the sensational; it was never there.
Instead, we find an astonishing lack of fanfare.
Humility and obedience, within the chronological amazingly precise workings of divine sovereignty, introduced the Messiah to his people at the beginning of the seventieth week of Daniel’s prophecy. Miraculous! Wonderful! Marvelous! Hosannah!
It seems clear to me that at the beginning of his public ministry, Jesus personified the Fall Feasts in a holy and perfect manner, which satisfied the plans and purposes of The Most High God.
“And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself… And their eyes were opened, and they knew him. And they said one to another, Did not our heart burn within us, while he talked with us by the way, and while he opened to us the scriptures?” (Luke 24:27, 32)
The new “Spiritual Software” downloaded into male and female biological computers by the Majestic Engineer is a program of love, gratitude, and joy. All of the good cheer of Christmas can be ours, as that is about when Jesus would have been conceived and when the Magi presented their gifts.