How to remember the Birth of our Messiah from a Jewish Perspective?
By Rabbi Scott Sekulow
As believers around the world prepare to remember the birth of the Messiah, many will turn to the stories and traditions that they heard growing up. The question that we must ask is, do these stories and traditions follow the Bibles teaching on His birth? The answer may surprise you. No were in the scripture do we see that the disciples or anyone else ever celebrating the birth of Yeshua (Jesus) of Nazareth.
It is unfortunate that we have lost sight to the true story of the birth of the Messiah. For example, how many wise men visited Him? Most people will tell you three because that is what the stories of Christmas say. The truth is the Bible does not mention how many people visited, just what was brought. What about decorating a tree or give presents and was the Messiah really born on December 25? While these traditions might be nice are they really teaching people to share their faith to others?
Before you start thinking this is one of those articles that claim’s that everything about Christmas is of pagan origins I will encourage you to read on as it is not. The purpose for this teaching is for us to look at the Bible to see how we can remember this great miracle.
The truth is that many of the stories and traditions that we have today was not started by the disciples or even the early followers of Messiah. The Christmas Tree did not started until 1441 and it did not come to the states until 1816. It wasn’t until the 10th Century that gift giving took place and the celebration of the Birth of Messiah did not start until after 324AD. In fact, from 1659 to 1681 the celebration of Christmas was even outlawed in Boston Massachusetts.
So the question is, is it wrong to celebrate the birth of the Messiah? No. Coming from a Jewish upbringing I can understand the importance of remembering great events that God has done for His people. This is why the Jewish people celebrate Chanukah and Purim. Both of these holidays where started by the Rabbis to remember the miracles that God did for the Jewish People. Unfortunately, we can also see pagan influences in Jewish Feast as well, but that does not take away from the miracles that God did. Yes, it is good to remember the birth of Messiah. The question is how.
While the Scripture does not tell us the exact date of Yeshua birth, it does give enough information to figure out a time frame. The dating of the conception of Yeshua and the birth of Yochanan (John) points to a late September or early October birth of Yeshua. When we take into account of Zacharias’ time of duties at the Temple then we can come to a date around the Jewish Feast of Sukkoth (Tabernacles) which means God dwelling among us. . For this reason many in the Messianic community will celebrate the birth of Messiah during Sukkoth. This Feast is celebrated in Late September or early October. We remember that God is dwelling among us once again as we fellowship under the Sukkah. It is also interesting to note that the word in Hebrew for manger is Sukkah. To learn more about the time line and how we celebrate the birth visit “How Does the Messianic Community celebrate Christmas”.
The Bible does not tell us how to celebrate it, but we can learn from the other Feast in the Torah. First, the holidays are family focused. They also are used for teaching and remembering what God has done for us. Many times the story is retold of the event, and each one has its own symbols and customs. Since Yeshua was born at Sukkoth, I can imagine the disciples as they celebrate the Feast and are fellowshipping together under the Sukkah. I can imagine them as they would invite unsaved friends to join them as they retell of the events that happened in Yeshua’s live and how on the Spring Feast of Passover, First Fruits and Latter Fruits. That Yeshua Died was resurrected and the infilling of the Holy Spirit, all which took place on the Jewish Feast.
As we remember the Birth we need to focus on the Word of God and not man’s traditions. The last time I checked I do not get gifts for another person’s birthday so why should I for Yeshua’s. In this day and age with everyone wanting to be “Green”, is it environmentally sound to cut down tree’s to just put them in homes to decorate and then throw away in a month?
Let’s remember what God has done for us. He sent His only Son so that our sins could be forgiven. If you want to give gifts, give it to the poor, widow and Orphan’s. Yeshua said we will always have them among us. As we begin a New Year, I want encourage you to learn more about the Jewish roots of your faith. I know that it will bring new insight and understanding to the Word of God. One way to do this is to tune every Saturday from 4 to 5 PM on WNIV 970 and 1400 AM and listen to our weekly Radio show “The Messianic Hour with Rabbi Scott Sekulow” We share each week a different chapter from the Bible and give a teaching on it from a Jewish point of view. We also talk about the Culture and Customs’, answer your question and give you news from Israel from a Biblical perspective. You will not want to miss special guest like Joel Rosenberg and White House Correspondent and Author Bill Koenig.
You can also listen anytime to current and past shows at www.rabbiscott.com or watch Congregation Beth Adonai’s weekly Shabbat services and teaching via live Stream and remember Pray for the Peace of Jerusalem.