Oy vey, it’s that time of year again, and the slings and arrows are out, Jesus was born on December 25, no, it’s a Pagan holiday, yada yada yada. At a time when we remember the grace of God ,sent to Earth as a child, born without description, the hate and animosity is astounding. Does the date really matter?
Well, first off, the early Christians, Messianic Jews, may not have even celebrated Jesus birth at all, as contemporary Jews didn’t celebrate birthdays. Neither would they celebrate December 25 as Christmas, that wouldn’t be introduced until 336 AD. As it stands, Christmas is simply Christ Mass, a Roman Catholic tradition instituted to replace the Roman holiday Saturnalia when Constantine was instituting “christianity” as the state religion and governing force. If they would have celebrated anything it would have been coincident with a Jewish feast. An interesting feast, then, would be Chanukah, the Festival of Lights. What better time to remember the coming of the Light of the world.
A brief history, Chanukah is the celebration of the Maccabees victory over the Greeks and the re-dedication of the second Temple. Even more so, it’s a celebration of light. According to tradition, during re-dedication of the Temple, when they went to light the Temple lamp there was only found one cruse of sacred oil, as the Greeks had soiled the rest, enough for only one day’s burning. Yet God intervened for 8 days, long enough to make new oil, by keeping the lamp lit. Heralded as a miracle of rebirth and perpetual light, the Chanukah Menorah is a stand of 9 candles, one candle for each day the lights stayed on and a ninth for lighting, as the finger of God. What a wonderful thought, using the celebration of God’s miraculous intervention of light to remember the Light of the world coming into the world. Well, before we get carried away, is there some Biblical substantiation for this?
There just may be. Let’s look at Luke and the “Christmas” story. Starting in Luke 1:5
“5 In the time of Herod king of Judea there was a priest named Zechariah, who belonged to the priestly division of Abijah; his wife Elizabeth was also a descendant of Aaron. 6 Both of them were righteous in the sight of God, observing all the Lord’s commands and decrees blamelessly. 7 But they were childless because Elizabeth was not able to conceive, and they were both very old.
8 Once when Zechariah’s division was on duty and he was serving as priest before God, 9 he was chosen by lot, according to the custom of the priesthood, to go into the temple of the Lord and burn incense. 10 And when the time for the burning of incense came, all the assembled worshipers were praying outside.”
While in the Temple offering incense the Angel of the Lord told him he would have a son in his old age and what he was supposed to do with him. This would be the father of John the Baptist who questioned God and lost his voice, because he questioned the Angel about a son being born to him in his old age, until his son, John, was born. Now the division of Abijah had priestly duties in the first week of Sivan which would be followed by Schavuot putting yet another week of duties on him placing him as finishing out the second week of Sivan.
“23 When his time of service was completed, he returned home. 24 After this his wife Elizabeth became pregnant and for five months remained in seclusion. 25 “The Lord has done this for me,” she said. “In these days he has shown his favor and taken away my disgrace among the people.””
So sometime after the second week ( the 15th as a date) of Sivan, Elizabeth became pregnant. Now, fast forward to Gabriel’s visit to Mary the mother of Jesus.
“26 In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, 27 to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. 28 The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.””…”35 The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called[b] the Son of God. 36 Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be unable to conceive is in her sixth month. 37 For no word from God will ever fail.”“
Now you’ll note that six months after Sivan is the month of Kislev and Elizabeth is IN her sixth month, not starting it. So sometime after the 16th (if you will) Gabriel declares to Mary that she will become pregnant by the power of the Most High. This is where the fun starts, God is awesome. Mary could very well have conceived on the 25th of the month of Kislev, Chanukah, the endless light. Though, for the Jew, a man is born when he passes through the birth canal, they also believe that the soul and spirit begin at conception. Imagine, the light, the inextinguishable light of the world being conceived at the start of Chanukah, the festival of lights. And Jesus IS the light, as in John 1:
“4 In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome[a] it.
6 There was a man sent from God whose name was John. 7 He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all might believe. 8 He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light.
9 The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world.”
Jesus, the Light of the world, conceived at the start of the rebirth. This the Messianic Jew would recognize and almost institutionalize, or maybe they did.
After the Diaspora antisemitism would start to settle into branches of the church. It was reasonable as a response to the circumcision crowd. But the next couple centuries after the Roman purge antisemitism would be the rule following the line of ascent to the Roman Catholic rule from Rome. It would be from there that dogma and make believe took the foothold as December (Roman) 25 being the actual day of Jesus birth and Mary conceived in March (back figured from December). This iron fisted rule actually robs the Christian of the true joy and beauty of God’s work. So when was the birth of Jesus originally celebrated? It most likely wasn’t, outside of the DAY that He was born into this world in relative obscurity as proclaimed by the angels.
Tonight begins Chanukah the beginning of the endless light, tonight many Christians celebrate Christmas eve, what a wonderful time to fold, if you can, the traditional fiction with the reality of God’s Grace, coming into an undeserving world, in the form of a child, helpless, yet the ruler of the Universe. If you’ve not met this Light, experienced His Grace I challenge you to look deep into your heart and on this night or next day gift exchanges, give yourself to the Chris Jesus and accept His gift of grace……