What joy and hope this gave to those who heard the good news/glad tidings when the angels sang, and the Israeli Jewish shepherds in the field heard the joy of the Father in Heaven over the birth of His only-begotten Son, Yeshua, the King of Israel! And what comfort and expectation it gave to those who were waiting for the long-anticipated Messiah whom God first spoke of to our first father and mother in the Garden of Eden! In the sovereign wisdom of God, this expectation and hope were not fully fulfilled at the birth of the Lord, or even during His life and death and resurrection; no, that fullness of the Law and the Prophets waits for the return of this same Yeshua/Jesus to return in great power and glory, to be Lord of every man, and to whom all must confess that He is YHVH! What a glorious day that will be, and the new song to be sung by the saints and the angels! Continue reading “Messiah Has Come!”
Dates are important in general, and appointed times carry more significance. For example, an appointment at the dentist becomes an ‘appointed/set time’. A wedding date is an appointed day and time.
Sometimes, we cannot be certain until the event occurs, such as the birth of a baby. We might know the approximate ‘due date’, but until that date passes, or if the baby is born earlier, we cannot be certain of that ‘appointed time’. Even should the day be accurately predicted, for a natural birth we cannot know in advance the exact hour of that appointed day.
YHVH, God of Israel and Creator of the Heavens and Earth, has given to Israel His appointed times for celebration, times which we call ‘holidays’ or celebrations, or the Feasts of the LORD. Continue reading “Dates and Appointed Times – 22 Dec 2017”
1Ti 1:15 Faithful is the Word and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief.
Num 29:39 You shall prepare these to Yehovah in your appointed seasons, besides your vows and your free-will offerings, for your burnt offerings, and for your food offerings, and for your drink offerings, and for your peace offerings.
God did not command Israel to celebrate the birth of His Son, but He gave them – and us – the opportunity to celebrate as a free-will offering. We do it because we want to, and we do it gladly unto the Lord. What the Prophets foretold came to pass: the Messiah was born! Trumpets were to be blown in Israel on the day of our gladness. (Num 10:10) Was/Is not the birth of the Lord a day of rejoicing for the heavenly host of angels who proclaimed the glad tidings to the Israeli Jewish shepherds, and to the shepherds themselves who heard and saw all that they were told; was it not a day of rejoicing for Simeon, waiting for the Consolation of Israel, who saw YHVH’s salvation in the new-born Child and Son; was it not a day of rejoicing for Anna, the widowed prophetess waiting for redemption in Jerusalem? Is it not a day of rejoicing for all who have come to believe in the Son of God, who was born in the flesh, and who is the Father’s gift to His people?: Unto us a child is born; unto us a son is given! God has forever changed the culture of His people: rather than just remembering someone’s life when he dies, we now rejoice and celebrate the time of those we love for when they came into the world. It all waited for the celebration of the first-born of creation, and His Father’s joy in that day! It began as neither a Jewish nor a pagan holiday. It is God’s holiday celebration, which is actually what the name of Haggai the prophet means (“my celebration”)! It was Haggai to whom the LORD gave the date of this appointed time. (Hag 2:10-22) Yeshua came to His holy but unclean people to save and to cleanse them from all their sinfulness, and to restore His Throne to His people and to the Gentiles.
What Israel and the Jewish people as a whole did not appreciate when He came to His own, and to the world that He made should not restrict us who have seen the glory of the birth of the Lamb of God who was slain for our sins on the cross, and whose sacrificial death was God’s plan before the foundation of the world! His name is Yeshua because He will save His people from their sins. YHVH is our salvation and Savior!
The new and significant year of 2017 is being ushered in by the perfect coinciding of Hanukkah and Christmas. The 8th day and candle (the day of Yeshua’s circumcision) is the last night of this year, and the first day of the next. The God of Israel has given all the world a witness as to the time of His Son’s birth to the virgin, Mary. Going back another 4 years to 5 BC does not alter things much. But the world system has followed for centuries a calendar that points to the period surrounding the birth of the Lord, the King of the Jews. When I was recently in Thailand, I noticed that the date on a package ended with the numbers 2559. That seemed odd, so I asked what that was: the Thai culture traditionally counts its years from the era of Buddha, who lived more than 500 years before Yeshua/Jesus. Muslims count their years from 622 AD, the year that Mohammed went from Mecca to Medina. Tonight is the lighting of the first candle for Hannukah; today is the 24th of the ninth month. In the Jewish calendar, this is the month of Chislev; in the Gregorian calendar, which most of the world follows, this the 24th of the 12th month, December, but which is the ninth month when we count beginning with Israel’s first month in Aviv/Nisan/April! This date of the 24th of the 9th month was a day from which the [true] foundation of the Temple was laid, and YHVH would bless Israel and shake Heaven and Earth. (Hag 2:18-22) These things did not find genuine fulfillment with the Maccabees, but do in Yeshua, the true Savior and Deliverer from Gentile and pagan thrones – both literally, and also in the hearts of those who truly believe. (The spirit of prophecy is the testimony of Yeshua.)
I want us to look at one example of the truth that Jesus came to save sinners: the woman caught in adultery. (Jn 8:1-11)
But Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. (2) And early in the morning He came again into the temple, and all the people came to Him. And He sat down and taught them. (3) And the scribes and Pharisees brought to Him a woman taken in adultery. And standing her in the midst, (4) they said to Him, Teacher, this woman was taken in adultery, in the very act. (5) Now Moses in the Law commanded us that such should be stoned. You, then, what do you say? (6) They said this, tempting Him so that they might have reason to accuse Him. But bending down, Jesus wrote on the ground with His finger, not appearing to hear. (7) But as they continued to ask Him, He lifted Himself up and said to them, He who is without sin among you, let him cast the first stone at her. (8) And again bending down, He wrote on the ground. (9) And hearing, and being convicted by conscience, they went out one by one, beginning at the oldest, until the last. And Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst. (10) And bending back up, and seeing no one but the woman, Jesus said to her, Woman, where are the ones who accused you? Did not one give judgment against you? (11) And she said, No one, Lord. And Jesus said to her, Neither do I give judgment. Go, and sin no more.
In this scene, the self-righteous religious leaders and teachers came to Yeshua with a woman who was caught, somehow, in the act of adultery. Where was the guilty man? Under the Law, both were to be stoned. (Lev 20:10-12) So their motive was not pure, but rather to trap Messiah and to show their disdain for women. People did not matter to them with all their religiosity, but the “Law”, which they themselves did not keep. Yeshua bent down and wrote on the ground with His finger, probably the sentence of death, which the Law of Moses demanded. He had not come to abolish the Law, but to fulfill it. But then, the Lord showed His compassion in His identification with the sinner against her unjust accusers. He also appealed to the conscience of them: let he has no sin cast the first stone. From the oldest rabbi first, the others followed in leaving the scene. Jesus paid a price to mediate in this situation, with courage and compassion. Jesus did not acquit the guilty woman; neither did He condemn her: He told her to go and sin no more. Did she? We don’t know.
Jesus came to save sinners. He alone is without sin; He alone has moral authority to condemn; He alone could have thrown that first stone. But He desires to see sinners repent and have their hearts changed, sinning no more in the face of such grace and truth. He takes the blame; He takes the uncleanness. On the cross He bore our sin and our punishment. Can any who know such love and forgiveness continue to sin against the holy God and Savior?! Let each answer for himself, just as the Scripture leaves us without the answer to the rest of this woman’s life, and that of her accusers.
YHVH’s new covenant with Israel is that their sins will be forgiven forever. Our message which we have received from Him remains the gospel to sinners: repent and believe, and so receive the forgiveness of sins and the gift of the Holy Spirit and of eternal life.
As I considered this passage about the woman caught in adultery, it reminded me of how Christians have historically accused the Jewish people before God for their spiritually adulterous unfaithfulness to Him, and of their sin and guilt in connection with the crucifixion of Jesus. The Savior continues to reach out to both with His own understanding and righteousness to affect the hearts and minds of both. All Israel will be saved when they look upon Him whom they pierced; and the Body of Christ will be purified when they humble themselves and show mercy to the Jews, even as they have received mercy from the God of Israel for all their sins in Jesus’ name.
We thank and praise God for giving us His Son (Is 9:6), and for what Messiah has done for us: forgiveness and new life, which only He could bring by coming here to Earth (even to Israel!) and suffering for us — both during His life and climatically in His death on the cross. Now He lives within us who are born-again from Above, and is with us in life and in death. Even this last enemy can not overcome the believer, but only serves to bring us into the everlasting presence of the Lord!
The birth of the Messiah some 2000 years ago was a singular event which divided history between that which came before from that which has been reckoned since. The God of Israel promised through the prophet Haggai that from a significant event on the 24th of the ninth Israeli month (corresponding to the 24th of December on non-Israeli calendars) that He would shake the heaven and the Earth. (Hag 2:20-22) God began by announcing His joy in the birth of His Son through the singing heavenly host.
When the Roman-appointed ruler over the Jews, Herod, heard the news, he plotted to kill the new-born Son. The Jewish religious leaders acknowledged that the Messiah was to be born in Bethlehem, but not that His goings forth were from everlasting. When Yeshua began His public ministry by being baptised by John, the devil sought to tempt Him to submit to his wiles. At the crucifixion the Roman leader, Pontius Pilate, and the devil, and the Jewish leadership all conspired together to both crucify Jesus, and try to get Him to come down from the cross! The chief priests in apostacy cried out that “we have no king but Caesar!” (Jn 19:15)
After Pentecost, when the disciples had all been baptized with the Holy Spirit and began to take the gospel to all regions, it is written that they were “turning the world upside down, saying that there is another King — Jesus”. (Acts 17:6-7)
No shots were fired; no armies formed; just the preaching of the gospel of Jesus Christ and the Kingdom of God. Truly YHVH had begun His revolution to overthrow Gentile thrones and to shake the heavens and the Earth. This work has continued till today, and we are nearing another promise from the Lord to again shake the heavens and the Earth at the return of this same Jesus/Yeshua:
See that you do not refuse Him who speaks. For if they did not escape who refused Him who spoke on earth, much more shall we not escape if we turn away from Him who speaks from heaven, 26 whose voice then shook the earth; but now He has promised, saying, “Yet once more I shake not only the earth, but also heaven.” 27 Now this, “Yet once more,” indicates the removal of those things that are being shaken, as of things that are made, that the things which cannot be shaken may remain.
28 Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us have grace, by which we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear. 29 For our God is a consuming fire.
We are celebrating this time with great anticipation that what God has begun at the first advent, He will fulfill at the second. Even so, Come, Lord Jesus!
Today, as a congregation, we are celebrating the birth of the Messiah (who is called Christ). But we are also celebrating, remembering, and looking forward to the Lord’s return in great power and glory. The Lord’s Supper reminds us of the death of our Savior God, who took on human flesh and blood, of the seed of Abraham, and of all humankind.
God always does His great acts in a manner that sets Him apart from all other gods and from human beings. We are all created by YHVH God. Yeshua, the Son of God the Father, is the Creator and the Redeemer.
Yeshua asked two very serious questions: “And shall not God avenge His own elect who cry day and night to Him, though He has been long-suffering over them? I say to you that He will avenge them speedily. Yet when the Son of Man comes, shall He find faith on the earth?” (Lk 18:7-8)
In this parable about praying always, the Lord refers to avenging His servants who have been treated unjustly in this world. This is an everlasting promise and hope which God has given to people from the beginning in the Garden of Eden: the Seed of the woman will destroy the seed of the serpent and their unrighteous deeds.
Sadly, there are many within the Body of Messiah who say that no one can know when Jesus was born. Many also say that we cannot know when He is coming again. Yet the Lord rebuked the religious leaders of His day as being hypocrites: they could discern the weather from the evening and morning skies, but could not discern the time of His coming from the signs of the times, according to God’s word through the Prophets. The promised Messiah and King of Israel came, but the Chosen People did not believe it or accept Him. (Mt 16:1-4)
Do you know that there are many more prophecies in the whole of the Bible regarding the Lord’s [second] coming than His first? (~354; ~2400! internet search) God’s plan of redemption, which He laid out for Daniel with the 70 weeks of years, is completed when the Lord returns. All creation is waiting for it with hope. (Rom 8:20-23) It is the blessed hope of all believers: the coming again of Jesus and the resurrection from among the dead.
When Yeshua was born, the old man Simeon was fulfilled when he knew that this child was the Savior whom God had promised him that he would see before he died. Anna, the aged prophetess, also expected the birth of the promised Messiah, and she joyfully spread the news to others who looked for redemption in Jerusalem. Simeon and Anna understood the times they lived in, according to the Word of God spoken and written through Moses and the Prophets.
We have many more prophecies given to us about the return of the Lord at the end of the last days. We do not want to be asleep, but awake with faith and the Holy Spirit, not only to be ready for Jesus when He comes, but also to tell this good news to others who are looking for a better world than what it is now, or has ever been: the Lord Jesus Christ is coming again to make the world right, a world of righteousness and justice! (Acts 3:18-21)
“And they called His name Yeshua, for He shall save His people from their sins.”
“Even so, Come, Lord Jesus!”
I have come to strongly accept that the birth of the Lord was during this time of year, and have given what I believe is sufficient Scriptural proof for upholding the long-held tradition. http://streamsinthenegev.com/school-of-fish/conception-and-birth-of-john-the-baptiser-and-jesus-the-messiah/
Here is an article which addresses two objections — sheep out in the winter (don’t forget that Christmas is in early winter), and also the timing of the priestly course of Abia, to which John the Baptiser’s father, Zechariah, belonged. http://nabataea.net/birthdate.html
Another objection used today is that Yeshua/Jesus was born during the Feast of Booths/Tabernacles, because He “tabernacled” with us. It is very interesting how God always shows Himself “ahead of the game”, and having thoughts and ways far above ours! Hanukkah was started by the Maccabees as an 8-day festival in order to be celebrated as a substitute Feast of Tabernacles, the 8-day festival of the LORD which they could not celebrate at the scheduled time because of their war against the Greeks and the Jewish Hellenists. You can find this reference in the non-canonical primary source, the Apochrypha, in 2Mac 1:9, 10:5-8.
A further argument given as to why Yeshua/Jesus could not have been born during this time is that it is the time of celebration of pagan gods (Saturnalia, etc). But the point is missed that the Son of God came to take back what is His from all the usurpers and pretenders to the throne! The God of gods’ coming was/is an act of war on YHVH God’s part to restore the true spiritual worship of the one true God, redeemed humanity to Himself, and the Kingdom of God to the heavens and the Earth, over and to Israel and the nations. He began this with His birth in the flesh. When He pours out His wrath on His enemies prior to His coming again, the Kingdoms of this world will become the Kingdom of our Lord and of His Messiah! (Hag 2:20-23; Dan 2:31-45; Mt 1:18 – 2:23; Ps 2; Rev 11:15-18)
Come, let us celebrate our great God and Savior for His great faithfulness and grace to us! He rejoices in our freewill offerings of overflowing love and praise for His wonderful acts on behalf of His people. (If we accept that He did so from the Jewish people regarding Purim and Hanukkah, how much more so from all who would commemorate celebrating His most wonderful and awesome act in coming in the flesh in order to redeem us and save us from our sins!)
He has put a new song in our hearts.
Lk 2:11 There is born to you this day in the City of David a Savior, who is Messiah the Lord!
Our faith in God through Yeshua the Messiah/Jesus Christ is unique and different from all other religions and faiths. Every other religious faith requires keeping certain commandments and doing certain works in order to maybe earn by our own efforts what can be called “inheriting the world to come”. That is, earning the right to live, both now and forever. Faith in Yeshua as the Messiah and the Son of God justifies a person in God’s sight for salvation, and God gives each and all who do believe with their mind and heart the gift of eternal life.
In other religions there is the need to appease an angry God, or capricious gods, in the hope that you might be saved from his/their displeasure. This can even be said to be true about what Israel made of their religion in professing to believe in Yehovah their God. Yet He had spoken to them of His desire that they should love Him for being their Savior and Deliverer in bringing them out of slavery in Egypt, and in giving them the Land of Canaan as their everlasting possession. If they had loved Him, they would have obeyed Him with faith, and be blessed by His presence among them, and by peace and prosperity. (Jer 7:20-26)
The idea of YHVH God being the Savior of Israel was known to Israel and the Jewish people, repeatedly spoken of through the Hebrew Scriptures. He covenanted with them to protect them, and to deliver His people to preserve them physically from their enemies, and, more so, to save them from their sins, and from their unfaithfulness to Him and His covenant with them. (Dt 20:1-4; Jdg 2:11-22; Is 63; Jer 31:31-34; Ezek 36; Ps 25:5; Ps 51) The Judges, before there was a [human] king in Israel, were all ‘saviors’, whom God gave to the people to deliver them from the hand of their enemies.
YHVH is holy; He is not like any other so-called gods. He is a Savior God, full of lovingkindness, mercy, compassion, goodness and truth – desiring that His people should live, and not die. (Ex 34:5-9; Ezek 18:30-32) His goodness and mercy pertain to the individual (see, for example, Naaman, the gentile Syrian; and Josiah, the King of Judah), as well as to the corporate nation. Even today, in modern Israel, the nation has survived, thrived, and defeated enemies more numerous and stronger than she, which, for the believer, can only be fully explained by YHVH’s faithfulness to preserve the nation, even as He is also judging her for her continued unrepentant unbelief, with many Israelis dying and being killed without faith in Him.
Whenever we speak with an unbelieving Jewish person about Yeshua/Jesus, if we speak ‘long enough’, the question will always come to us: “Do you really believe that Jesus/Yeshua is God!?” Will you be able to give a clear answer to that very good and crucial question?
Let us look in particular at two Old Testament passages from the prophet Isaiah, where YHVH (Adonai) declares, and is declared, that He is Israel’s Savior:
Isa 43:1-3 But now, thus says Yehovah who created you, O Jacob, and He who formed you, O Israel: Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by your name; you are Mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned; nor shall the flame kindle on you. For I am Yehovah your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior; I gave Egypt for your ransom, Ethiopia and Seba for you.
Isa 43:10-13 You are My witnesses, says Yehovah, and My servant whom I have chosen; that you may know and believe Me, and understand that I am He. Before Me no God was formed, nor shall there be after Me. I, I am Yehovah; and there is none to save besides Me. I have declared, and have saved, and I have shown, when there was no strange god among you; therefore you are My witnesses, says Yehovah, that I am God. Yea, before the day was, I am He; and no one delivers out of My hand; I will work, and who will reverse it?
We see in these verses from Is 43 that YHVH is proclaiming that He alone is the Savior of the children of Jacob/Israel, and there is no other God or Savior besides Him. He has chosen Israel to be His servant and witnesses to the nations of the truth that He alone is God, and that He alone is capable of saving.
In Is 33:22, we have this great declaration by the Prophet: For Yehovah is our Judge; YHVH is our Lawgiver; YHVH is our King; He will save us!
Israel’s God and Judge, the one who gave them His laws to live by, and who also governs and leads them, is YEHOVAH their Savior.
When we come to the New Testament, this belief in the God of Abraham as the Savior of the covenanted children of Abraham is heard in Mary’s song of adulation, after her relative Elizabeth confirmed by the Holy Spirit the special child within Mary as being her Lord:
“My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior….He has helped His servant Israel, in remembrance of His mercy, as He spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and to his seed forever.” (Lk 1:46-47, 54-55)
The old man Simeon, in the Temple when Joseph and Mary brought the baby Yeshua to dedicate Him, was waiting for the Consolation of Israel. When he saw the child, He blessed God for allowing him to see [His] salvation in the person of this baby, both for the Gentiles, and for His people Israel. (Lk 2:25-35)
Since the last prophet, Malachi, had written at least 400 years earlier, Israel was waiting to hear again a word from the LORD. The Maccabees, who had led the war against the Greeks to restore the true worship of God in Israel about 160 years earlier, were called saviors; and they are still remembered as such in the Jewish holiday of Hanukkah. This hope of political and national salvation to be Jewish in our own land did not last very long. As we ‘hear’ from Mary and from Simeon, the long-awaited anticipation of the true savior messiah was strong in Israel at the time of Yeshua’s birth, a time based on Biblical prophesies. (Dan 9:24-26a; Hag 2:18-22; Jn 1:19-23, 31, 41, 45, 49; see also Acts 5:35-39)
Let us now look at the announcement concerning the conception of Jesus and of Mary’s pregnancy, which an angel of the Lord spoke to Joseph:
Mt 1:20b-23 . . .Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take to you Mary as your wife. For that in her is fathered of the Holy Spirit. And she shall bear a son, and you shall call His name YESHUA: for He shall save His people from their sins. Now all this happened so that might be fulfilled that which was spoken of the LORD by the prophet, saying, “Behold, the virgin shall conceive in her womb, and will bear a son. And they will call His name Emmanuel,” which being interpreted is, God with us.
The announcement to Joseph to accept that which God had done also carries with it great implications: this child Yeshua is the Savior – not first of all physically or nationalistically from external enemies, but rather from their own sins against God and man, preventing Israel and the Jewish people from being all that YHVH had covenanted with them to be. We are further told that all this was done so that the Word of YHVH spoken close to 800 years before the birth would now be fulfilled through this virgin birth: this child who was born, this Son who was given, would be called Immanuel, God with us. This child, Yeshua, is YEHOVAH!
Soon after the birth of Messiah, the Jewish shepherds in the fields around Bethlehem heard an angel of YHVH proclaim:
Lk 2:10-12 Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord! And this is the sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.
The hope of the ages had come, and the Savior from the devil and from sin was born! (Gen 3:15) And this miracle and sign from the CREATOR, shaking Heaven and Earth, which still strikes wonder in the heart of the believer, is that the mighty YHVH God had taken on flesh and blood in the weakness of a baby, in order to be the REDEEMER and SAVIOR of both Jews and Gentiles from their sins.
But wait!: We saw from the Scriptures how only YHVH is the Savior of Israel, and of the nations. Yeshua’s name was given, saying that HE will save His people [Israel] from their sins: HE is the Savior! Only YEHOVAH forgives and justifies sinful people through their repentance and faith in Him, and in His Messiah (Anointed One). JESUS CHRIST/YESHUA THE MESSIAH, THE SON OF GOD AND SON OF MAN, IS YEHOVAH GOD! It has been declared, and He showed it to be truth throughout His sinless and miraculous life, death, and resurrection! Good news indeed, especially to those who believe! (1Tim 4:9-10; Phlp 2:5-11)
We are Yeshua’s witnesses, and serve Him. (Lk 24:44-49) Let us love the only wise God and Savior for being our Savior and Deliverer in bringing us out of slavery in the world to sin, and in giving us the Kingdom of God as our everlasting possession with Him! If we love Him, we will tell others this good news, and we will praise and worship the Lord, obeying Him with faith and thanksgiving, and be blessed by His presence within us and among us, having great peace and assurance. Hallelu-Yah!
The God of Israel is a God who speaks. He spoke the creation into existence! He spoke to Adam, to Noah, Job, Abraham, Moses, Samuel, David – to many others. We see that He spoke to the Prophets of Israel; and Yeshua, after His ascension to the right hand of the Father, spoke to the Apostles Peter, Paul, John in the New Testament. God speaks, and it is good for those to whom He speaks when they listen to His voice. (Heb 3:12-12 – 4:1)
Psa 85:8-9 (9-10 Heb) I will hear what God Yehovah will speak; for He will speak peace to His people, and to His saints; but let them not turn again to folly. Surely His salvation is near those that fear Him, so that glory may dwell in our land.
What does God speak concerning the birth of His only-begotten Son, Yeshua? Let’s look at how Yeshua’s birth is meant to be a blessing to Israel and to all peoples.
Let’s begin with what Yehovah God spoke to the serpent (the devil) in the Garden of Eden in the presence of the first man and woman at the beginning of history, for us who believe that the prophecies which God gave of a Savior and a Deliverer are fulfilled in Jesus.
Gen 3:15 And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her Seed; He will bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel.
God speaks here of the Seed of the woman, implying that a male child – a son — would be born through a woman, and that this ‘good’ male would defeat the ‘evil’ seed of the evil one.
What does YHVH God speak to Abram (Abraham), the man whom He chose to cut a covenant with and to make his name great?:
Gen 12:3 And I will bless those that bless you and curse the one who curses you. And in you all families of the earth shall be blessed.
For us who believe in Yeshua as also the Son of Abraham and Son of Adam, we hear God speak that He will guard the honor and dignity of this Seed of the woman.
What does the Holy Spirit tell us through Paul about this spoken promise to our father, Abraham?:
Gal 3:7-9 Therefore know that those of faith, these are the sons of Abraham. And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the nations through faith, preached the gospel before to Abraham, saying, “In you shall all nations be blessed.” So then those of faith are blessed with faithful Abraham.
God is speaking peace to His people, and to His godly ones (hasidov); He is blessing them in connection with the good news of this child to be born, this son to be given. (Is 9:6-7; Hag 2:19b)
The God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob had promised a New Covenant to His sinful people, by which He would forgive them their sins – blessing them with peace. (Jer 31:31-34)
Now we are ready to read the account of Yeshua’s birth, and to listen to what God is speaking to His people Israel, and to all peoples, concerning this male child who was born not too far from here about 2018 years ago:
Lk 2:1-14 And it happened in those days that a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed. (This taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.) And all went to be registered, each to his own city. And Joseph also went up from Galilee to be taxed (out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, to the city of David which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and family line of David).
And he took Mary his betrothed wife, being with child. And while they were there, the days for her deliverance were fulfilled. And she brought forth her son, the first-born, and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths, and laid Him in a manger– because there was no room for them in the inn.
And in the same country there were shepherds living in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And lo, the angel of the Lord came on them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them. And they were grievously afraid. And the angel said to them, Do not fear. For behold, I give to you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For to you is born today, in the city of David, a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this is a sign to you: You will find the babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.
God is speaking good news of peace to His people Israel until today with the gospel of Jesus Christ and the Kingdom of God; but not to the Jewish people only, but also to all peoples: “Peace on Earth, goodwill toward men!” (Mt 28:18-20) This is the blessing which God proclaims from the birth of His Son, King of Israel, to sinful people everywhere. And for those who do believe in Him – His godly ones — His birth carries with it the promise of His coming again to rule in righteousness, as King of kings and Lord of lords! (Is 9:6-7):
Rev 12:1-5 And there appeared a great sign in the heavens, a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon was under her feet, and a crown of twelve stars on her head, and having a babe in womb, she cries, being in travail, having been distressed to bear. And another sign was seen in the heavens. And behold a great red dragon, having seven heads and ten horns and seven crowns on his heads! And his tail drew the third part of the stars of heaven, and cast them onto the earth. And the dragon stood before the woman being about to bear, so that when she bears he might devour her child. And she bore a son, a male, who is going to rule all nations with a rod of iron. And her child was caught up to God and to His throne.
In these days when darkness is covering the nations, let us, as sons of light, not return to our former way of life, but let us shine brightly with the good news of hope, encouraging one another as we continue on the way, and proclaiming God’s desire that all should believe on His Son, and inherit everlasting life. Messiah has come, and is coming again quickly! (It accomplishes no good to answer an inquiring person with the confusing controversy over the timing or sanctity of this great marvel.) This is our peace and blessed hope which all the saints and godly ones have, who hear what YHVH God speaks to Israel, and to the Church of God, for all peoples.
We are in the season of remembering and celebrating the God who is Light. (Jn 8:12; 1Jn 1:5) Both Hanukkah (the Feast of Dedication) and Christmas, the birth of the Lord Jesus Christ, are coming one after the other in the next two weeks. It is often claimed that Yeshua never said that He was God, only the Son of God. Let us look to see if the Holy Spirit did not inspire the writers of the New Testament to write what they did in a way to demonstrate that, in fact, Jesus is YEHOVAH God – Immanuel. (Is 7:14; Mt 1:22-23)
Jn 10: 22-42 “And the Feast of Dedication took place at Jerusalem, and it was winter. And Jesus walked in the temple in Solomon’s Porch. Then the Jews encircled Him and said to Him, How long do you make us doubt? If you are the Messiah, tell us plainly.
“Jesus answered them, I told you and you did not believe. The works that I do in My Father’s name, they bear witness of Me. But you did not believe because you are not of My sheep. As I said to you, My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. And I give to them eternal life, and they shall never ever perish, and not anyone shall pluck them out of My hand. My Father who gave them to me is greater than all, and no one is able to pluck them out of My Father’s hand. (Is 43:10-13) I and the Father are one.
“Then the Jews took up stones again to stone Him. Jesus answered them, I have shown you many good works from My Father; for which of these do you stone Me?
“The Jews answered Him, saying, We do not stone you for a good work, but for blasphemy, and because you, being a man, make yourself God.
“Jesus answered them, Is it not written in your Law, “I said, You are gods?” If He called those gods with whom the Word of God was, and the Scripture cannot be broken, do you say of Him whom the Father has sanctified and sent into the world, You blaspheme, because I said, I am the Son of God? If I do not do the works of My Father, do not believe Me. But if I do, though you do not believe Me, believe the works so that you may know and believe that the Father is in Me, and I in Him. Then they again sought to seize Him, but He went forth out of their hand.
“And He went away again beyond Jordan into the place where John baptized at the first, and He stayed there. And many came to Him and said, John indeed did no miracle, but all things that John said concerning this One were true. And many believed on Him there.”
During Hanukkah, the Jewish leaders and people were again challenging Jesus to declare if He is the Messiah. Jesus says that He had told them, but that they did not believe. He had just given a man born blind new eyes, and now he saw the light, and Jesus validated His grace by doing the work of power in His own authority. (Jn 9; Is 35:5-6) He goes on to say that the works that He did are the works of His Father, who is God. The Jews understood this to mean that He was making Himself God by claiming He was the Son of God, doing what His Father does. (Jn 5:17-23)
What are some works of the Father that Jesus did which prove He is YEHOVAH God? In the Tanach, YHVH God is normally understood as being God the Father (yet as believers, we know now that YHVH can refer to any of the triune God).
Let’s read Mk 2:1-12, and compare there what is written about God in the Tanach:
“And again He entered into Capernaum after some days. And it was heard that He was in a house. And immediately many were gathered, so that none any longer had room, even to the door. And He proclaimed the Word to them. Then they came to Him, bringing one who was paralyzed, who was carried by four. When they could not come near to Him because of the crowd, they unroofed the roof where He was. And digging through, they let down the cot on which the paralytic was lying.
“And seeing their faith, Jesus said to the paralytic, Son, your sins are forgiven to you.
” But some of the scribes were sitting there, and reasoning in their hearts, Why does this one speak such blasphemies? Who can forgive sins except God only?!
” And instantly knowing in His spirit that they reasoned so within themselves, He said to them, Why do you reason these things in your heart? Which is easier to say to the paralytic, Your sins are forgiven you; or to say, Arise, and take up your cot and walk? But so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority upon earth to forgive sins, He said to the paralytic, I say to you, Arise, and take up your cot, and go to your house. And immediately he arose and took up his cot and went out before all. So that all were amazed and glorified God, saying, We never saw anything like this!”
In the Old Testament, we read in Ps 130:3-4 that only YHVH does forgive sins, so that He may be feared, exactly what we see Yeshua doing, and the people responding.
“If You will keep in mind iniquities, O Yehovah, who shall stand, O Lord? But there is forgiveness with You, that You may be feared.”
Let’s read Mk 4:35-41:
“And evening having come, He said to them on that day, Let us pass over to the other side. And when they had sent away the crowd, they took Him with them as He was in the boat. And there were also other little boats with Him. And there arose a windstorm, and the waves beat into the boat, so that it was now full. And He was in the stern of the boat, asleep on a headrest. And they awakened Him and said to Him, Master, do You not care that we perish?!
” And He awakened and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, Peace! Be still! And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. And He said to them, Why are you so fearful? How is it that you have no faith? And they feared exceedingly and said to one another, Who is this man, that even the winds and the sea obey Him?!”
In verse 39, Mark writes that Yeshua rebuked the wind, and the wind and the sea became calm. This caused His disciples – who were still learning who it was that called them to follow Him – to be amazed, and to wonder who this Man could be that even the winds and the sea obeyed Him. Do we find an answer to this in the Old Testament?
Let’s read Ps 106:9:
“And He (YHVH) rebuked the Red Sea, and it was dried up; so He led them through the depths, as through the wilderness.”
And Jonah 1:9-16:
“And he said to them, I am a Hebrew; and I fear Yehovah, the God of heaven, who has made the sea and the dry land.
“Then the men were afraid with a great fear. And they said to him, What is this you have done? For the men knew that he was fleeing from before the face of Yehovah, because he had told them. Then they said to him, What shall we do to you, that the sea may be calm to us? For the sea was going on and being tempestuous.
“And he said to them, Take me up and throw me out into the sea. And the sea shall be calm to you; for I know that this great tempest has come on you for my sake.
“But the men rowed hard to bring it to the land; but they could not, for the sea was going on and being more tempestuous against them. And they cried to Yehovah and said, We beg You, O Yehovah, we beg You, let us not perish for this man’s life, and do not lay on us innocent blood. For You, O Yehovah, have done as it pleased You. And they lifted Jonah up and threw him out into the sea; and the sea ceased from its raging. Then the men feared Yehovah exceedingly, and offered a sacrifice to Yehovah, and vowed vows.”
We see in the New Testament and in the Old that both pagans and Israelis were amazed when God rebuked the winds and the seas, and the winds and the seas obeyed Him and became calm. It elicited a fear of God that they glorified the Father and the Son as the light became brighter as to who the true God is by His mighty works. There are many other examples in the Bible of what Jesus did which demonstrate that He and the Father are one. (Jn 21:25)
As the world pays attention to the holidays of Israel and the Church, we want to be confident in our own understanding of the mystery of the faith – God has come to us in the person of Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ is YEHOVAH to the glory of God the Father. Our response should be fear, honor, worship, and thanksgiving to the great God who does such mighty acts for His people and all the sons and daughters of Adam. Jesus came into the world as the Light, to bring us back to God the Father, and have calm and peace in our soul and spirit.
Let’s close with Ps 107:21-32:
“Let them praise Yehovah for His goodness, and for His wonderful works to the sons of man! And let them sacrifice the sacrifices of thanksgiving, and declare His works with rejoicing!
“They who go down to the sea in ships, who do business in great waters; these see the works of Yehovah and His wonders in the deep.
“For He commands and raises the stormy wind, which lifts up its waves. They mount up to the heavens, they go down again to the depths; their soul is melted because of trouble.
“They reel to and fro, and stagger like a drunken man, and all their wisdom is swallowed up. And they cry to Yehovah in their trouble, and He brings them out of their troubles.
“He makes the storm a calm, so that its waves are still. And they are glad because they are quiet; so He brings them to their desired haven.
“Let them praise Jehovah for His goodness, and for His wonderful works to the sons of man! And let them exalt Him in the congregation of the people, and praise Him in the gathering of the elders.“
As a Jew, I didn’t want to celebrate Christmas when I became a believer, partly because it wasn’t “Jewish”, and partly because it was too paganized and commercialized. But the Lord began to show me that my reasons were not all correct. In my other words, I was throwing the baby out with the bath water. The truth of God is not pagan, and it happened right here in Israel among Jewish people, as prophesied by the prophets of YHVH long before.
Much of what people do with God’s holy things is to defile them, to paganize them, and Satan is the cheerleader in this, along with our own propensity to be drawn away by what seems ‘good in our eyes’, and to fit in with the surrounding unholy and unclean culture. As a Jew, I have examined and judged myself and my people for FIRST doing what Christians also do; yet, we continue to keep the Passover (in the light of the New Covenant and greater Passover). We continue to acknowledge Purim and Hanukkah, even though, like Christmas, God did not ordain them, but believers did unto Him and for the people to celebrate God’s mighty acts on their behalf, in keeping with His covenantal promises, despite their own general and widespread unfaithfulness and tendency to heathen practices. Purim especially has been paganized, and is more like Carnival and Halloween. God has historically intervened in the lives of His people and of the rest of humanity, redeeming days, etc., so that these times become connected with His redemption, while remaining mere worldly, even pagan, occasions for those not in covenant relationship with Him
It is true, as the Lord spoke through Amos and others, that He hates our sacrifices and fasts and holidays: in other words, when we are doing them according to our own understanding and culture, and not for Him and His honor. That is what I am trying to express: that we should keep His celebrations as a freewill offering in a manner that does honor and please Him, and fills us with thanksgiving and joy in the Holy Spirit. And I do believe that there is much more evidence in Scripture to warrant Yeshua’s birth around this time (Haggai 2 refers several times to the 24th of the 9th [Hebrew Israeli] month Chislev, which corresponds with the first night of Hanukkah that occurred hundreds of years later and corresponds to the Western Christian calendar of the evening of 24th of December), but did not fulfill what the last verses speak of: Yeshua’s coming in the flesh at birth does begin that overthrow, first in our own hearts, and ultimately in all peoples and nations, including Israel. Mary’s new song in Luke 1 expresses her own understanding in faith and hope of what the Lord spoke through Haggai, and other prophets. The true and brighter and eternal Light that shines in the darkness is not extinguished, and should be given much higher priority over celebrations of mere oil or candle lights that burn out.
The reason that Jewish people as a whole do not celebrate the Lord’s birth is because they do not believe in Jesus, even though the first ones who did celebrate with the angels were Israeli Jews! Neither do the Jewish people, along with many nominal Christians, celebrate His resurrection, also because of unbelief. But the Holy Spirit has brought Gentile Christians into the Commonwealth of Israel through their faith in the promised Messiah to Israel, and have celebrated His life, and His suffering and death, and His resurrection and ascension, and the hope of His coming again — whether with faith or without — for most of this age.
I have put together a timeline that brings together and reconciles all of the appointed/set times, and those which God accepted from His people, to show Yeshua’s birth: http://streamsinthenegev.com/school-of-fish/conception-and-birth-of-john-the-baptiser-and-jesus-the-messiah/
Just as the second coming of the Lord will be at a time, and a day and an hour, not expected, well. . . it seems that so was His first coming! The winter objection pre-supposes that the God of Nature can not do something extraordinary to declare His glory, just as I believe He did the night of the Lord’s betrayal, when it was so chilly on a Spring night (and it’s possible that Passover was a late date that year), that Peter and others kept themselves warm with a fire. And the sheep, as far as I have heard others say, were sacrificial sheep, and were handled differently, and were outside yearly. But since these things are not understood by ‘babes’ anyway, they are not central to resolving the controversy. That Jesus ‘tabernacled’ with us does not mean that He was therefore born at the Feast of Tabernacles, which actually is the Feast of Booths (succot). The Hebrew word for tabernacle is mishkan, and is more permanent than a temporary booth. And the priestly course of Abia (Aviyah) is not certain of its annual cycle, nor can we be sure of how the Jewish rulers at that time were regulating matters, since the whole system had become corrupt. But I have read sites that have decided to assume a particular cycle and time, but acknowledging that if another were taken, then it puts John’s father in the Holy Place at a time in a context that Yeshua would be born as tradition maintains. The whole counsel of God together unfolds His revelatory plan and purpose, and Scripture interprets Scripture, and the spirit of prophecy is the testimony of Jesus.
Since YHVH is a Man of War and the God of Armies/Hosts, He is not going to reveal things before it’s necessary, because there is an enemy with certain liberty to do what he will in this world, who likes to pre-empt things to ‘muddy the waters’, like he has with the Queen of Heaven, and the whole saturnalia bit. Even if the date of Christmas is the same as saturnalia, the God of gods has come and taken the day for Himself! Passover is celebrated by the heathen and unbelieving Jews even as merely a Spring festival and celebration of freedom. But God’s freedom is for us to serve and worship Him, not to remain independent from Him nor to remain slaves to sin and unbelief.
Despite all, let us take a stand of faith for the name of Christ/Messiah, who is Jesus/Yeshua, our great God and Savior.
God bless you, and, yes, Merry Christmas, and a blessed 2013 in Messiah,