Light, Glory and Tabernacle – What 25 December Really Signifies

Is celebrating Christmas really pagan? Or does it still have connections with our Lord after all?

Apparently, according to Jack Kelley, Mary’s response to angel Gabriel on her divine conception (Lk 1:38) was an excerpt from Hanukkah prayer. What could that mean? Painting: “Annunciation” by  Giambattista Pittoni, found from the web

No, 25th December, as some of us are already aware, is not the real birth date of the Christ. Not only so, it “coincides”, if not merges, in celebrating, as it has been argued, number of pagan rituals and traditions of winter solstice celebrated in Rome, namely Saturnia, Brumalia and Dies Natalis Solis Invicti (Birth of unconquerable sun) with application to Persian Zoroastrian deity Mithras that can be traced back to Sun god worship of which Nimrod and Semiramis in Babylon have created. It is thought that Constantine the Great had blended these pagan traditions in order to attract its citizens in converting to Christianity.

So, then, questions do remain:  Is Christmas not at all related to Christ in any-ways?
And more importantly, is it pagan and ungodly to celebrate Christmas?

Let us examine this by first looking at the real birth date of the Christ.

WHY FEAST OF TABERNACLES

John the Baptist’s father, Zechariah was a priest of division of Abijah (Luke 1:5).  It was King David who set these 24 divisions (1 Chronicles 24:10) and the division of Abijah was the eighth to serve in the Temple. However, taking into account that the Passover and Shavuot (Pentecost) would have required all the divisions to serve in the Temple, Zechariah was actually servicing at tenth week of the Jewish calendar year which is thought to be in the mid-month of Sivan and that’s when Gabriel visited him (Luke 1:11).  Soon after his duty, John was conceived which makes John’s birthday around Passover. Now, we know that Jesus was conceived 6 months after (Divine conception of Jesus occurred in late December around Hanukkah) John was conceived and that makes Jesus’ birth date around the Feast of Tabernacles. It doesn’t end there, Christ, Himself, “hinted” the likeliness that He was born on the Feast of Tabernacles. Let’s expand the possibilities.

1) In John 1:14, Apostle John describes Christ’s Incarnation as

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.

Greek word corresponding to “dwelt” here is ἐσκήνωσεν (eskēnōsen) derived from σκηνή (skéné) meaning tent or tabernacle. ἐσκήνωσεν; therefore, means “tabernacled” or “fix tent” which undoubtedly reminds us of God coming to the tent/tabernacle (Exo 40:34-38,  2 Sam 7:6, 1 Chr 17:5).  (This may have connections to Revelation 21:3.) The glory of God as mentioned in Exodus 40:34 is mirrored here too.  Moreover, one of the reasons for celebrating the Feast of Tabernacles is to commemorate God’s guidance and presence for forty years of which was perceptible with the tabernacle. I was indeed inspired that the light, tabernacle, and glory of God are intertwined (Matt 17:2-8 and parallels). (see below)

2) The Feast of Tabernacles is also thanksgiving (harvest/ingathering) in nature. Now, our Lord is the first fruit (1 Cor 15:20, 23) and in Leviticus God commands the first fruits to be offered (Lev 2:12, 23:10, etc) which symbolises representativeness of the rest harvest by being offered/atoned on behalf of the rest (Exo 34:19). And so, our Lord, the Son of God and the Offering (Heb 10:10), to be born on this date would be fitted to its meaning. Of course the Feast of Tabernacles is the date He, as we assume here, was born, not offered. The Feast of First Fruits which fits to the above meaning more was fulfilled by the Christ, after all, by Him resurrecting on this feast exactly.

3) The Feast of Tabernacles is kept for 7 days. The eighth day is called Shemini Atzeret (meaning: the eighth day of assembly) and or Simchat Torah (possibly kept on the ninth day out of Israel) and on this day, Deuteronomy 33-34 as well as the very beginning of Genesis 1 are read.  Simchat Torah means ‘rejoicing of the Law’. If Jesus were born on the first day of the feast and ‘officially’ received circumcision, to fulfil the Law as noted by John Parsons, as well as the name Yeshua {meaning God saves (from the sin)} on this eighth day (number eight symbolises ‘new beginning’), as per recorded, (Luke 2:21), it fits to the meaning of rejoicing of the Law as it truly gets fulfilled.

4)  During the feast, in Jesus’ time, there were two important ceremonies. One is pouring the water from Siloam (Mayim Hayim – meaning ‘living water’) on the bowls built on the altar with drink offering, reading Isaiah 12:3, singing Hallel (Psalms 113-118), blowing Shofar, etc which were done, basically, in the anticipation of the Messiah. On the last day of the feast as the Mayim Hayim was poured for the seventh time, this was when, according to Alfred Edersheim, Jesus identified Himself as the living water (John 7:37-39). The other ceremony that was celebrated again in the anticipation of the Messiah was the Temple illumination. The first day of the Feast of Tabernacles, Tishrei 15, is the first day, according to Jewish tradition, of the God leading Israelites by pillar of cloud in day and pillar of fire in the desert (Exo 40:34-38) (* Please note how God’s glory filled the tabernacle), and it is the same day that King Solomon dedicated the Temple and so on. On the eighth day (Shemini Atzeret/Simchat Torah), Jesus proclaimed that He is the Light of this world (John 8:12).

What is even more interesting, as it was noted, is how Jesus continues to talk about the ‘light’ in John 9, 11 and 12, and how John 10 is in reference to Hanukkah or Chanukah, the Feast of Lights. We need to end talking about the Feast of Tabernacle, though Jesus could have been born on this Feast, with the fact He is yet to fulfil its meanings, especially the one on opening of Millennium Kingdom (this is why they celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles with branches of palm trees). For more perusal, other insightful studies on Feast of Tabernacles, and how this is related to the Christ please check here.

LIGHT, GLORY, TABERNACLE: WHAT JOHN 1:14 ENCODES

Now recall how I mentioned the light, glory of God and tabernacle are intertwined and hinted Hanukkah may be related. To briefly, once again, expand on this, Hanukkah or Chanukah (Feast of Lights or Festival of Lights), celebrated on 25th of Kislev (December by our calendar) is the eighth Feast and is not of the Law.
On this date, Syrian king Antiochus IV Ephiphanes attacked Jerusalem, killed pro-Ptolemy Jews, plundered the Temple, halted practices of the Law, erected status of Zeus in the Temple and defiled it with offering of pig so as to fulfil Daniel 11 & 12. Against these arose the brave Maccabees who fought for three years to recapture the temple. When the Maccabees arrived at the temple to restore it, there was Holy Oil only enough to last for one day, yet it miraculously burned for 8 days. (Symbolising new beginning.) During this 8 days they were able to cleanse the Temple and prepare extra supply of oil. Rededication of the Temple (8 days after) took place on 25 Kislev, the exact date that Antiochus defiled the temple three years ago. Now, I find this amazing, according to 2 Macabees 10:6-7, after the rededication of the Temple, the people kept the very first Hanukkah together with the Feast of Tabernacles for eight (8), to commemorate the miracle they saw earlier, days.

Now, then, let’s connect some puzzles. Hanukkah, or Chanukah, depending on which year it falls, often coincides with 25 December. Even more, according to Elliot Hong, a documentary film “The Star of Bethlehem” reported that on 25 December in 2 BC, Jupiter, the king star, stopped over Bethlehem. Not only did it end there, but the Jupiter stopped mid-Virgo on the same date.
(There are other countless signs in the constellation when Jesus was conceived and born)
And according to Jack Kelley, (this, however, I cannot verify) Mary’s response (Luke 1:38) to Gabriel who informed her of the divine conception, is apparently an excerpt from Hanukkah prayer. Recall that it’s probable the Christ, the true Light, was conceived in late December and His Name, Yeshua, when written in Greek, comes out to be as 888 (for Greek alphabet has numeric value), isn’t it even more probable that our Lord was indeed conceived, by the Holy Spirit, on 25 December?

And yes, Jack Kelley is correct to observe that the Incarnation started from the very moment He was conceived by the Holy Spirit. After all, how could there be a birth, work, crucifixion, resurrection and Second Coming altogether, if there weren’t a conception in the very first place?

LOVE BEFORE KNOWLEDGE

It is invalid to argue, therefore, that keeping 25 December is an abominable act to our faith. For one, Christians who do not know that it coincides with pagan rituals, do not celebrate this day in worshipping demons and idols. For the other, as 1 Corinthians 8:4-6 explain, idols aren’t real and, thus, is powerless, yet not everyone has that knowledge (v 7) and ‘weaker’ in faith often stumbles and defiles self-conscience for such.

But then again, quite often, whether ‘stronger’ or ‘weaker’ in faith, it’s in our tendency that we are too quick to judge a book by its cover (Romans 14:3) for the knowledge without love (1 Cor 8:1), in every cases, encourages so. And that is evil indeed, for the recorded says:

[Romans 14:15]
Yet if your brother is grieved because of your food, you are no longer walking in love. Do not destroy with your food the one for whom Christ died.

So how should we conclude then? If I’m allowed to derivatively cite and apply 1 Corinthians 8 in this context: Keeping 25 December does not commend us to God, for neither if we not keep are we the better, nor if we do keep are we the worse. (Col 2:16-17)  Yet, as we have seen above, it is indeed meaningful and worthwhile to celebrate, for it belongs to the Christ. Of course, in doing so, pagan traditions such as putting mistletoe, Yule, Santa Clause etc should be abstained (if you do know what these mean). Again, my conscience is well aware these do not affect me in any ways. But now that I know what these mean, there isn’t any reason for me to practise. Substituting those, however, with stars, candle lights, etc instead would be wise and more meaningful. Even these, however, we ought to be careful not to offend, and rather do it in love, our brothers or sisters.

The Incarnation of the Christ, the true Light of the world marked the Feast of Lights, if it were so, in ways that no other events could have done it. Constellation marked, on the same date, that He was the true Star (2 Peter 1:19, Rev 22:16). And many of our beloved fellow brothers and sisters in Christ for whom our Lord died, celebrate this day in joy for Him. Now then, must 25 December still remain as pagan?

-Agape-

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