Tag Archives: Sukkot

Was Christ born in December?

With December comes celebration and merry-making. The celebration of the birth of Christ, one which was non-existent in the early church. In earlier studies, we have taken a look at the origins of Christmas:

The Chronography of 354 – What was celebrated on December 25th before it became Christmas?
Pagan influence on Christmas – Where did Christmas come from?

We have also seen the present “Christmas story” is critically flawed, as the “Magi” appeared close to two years after Christ’s birth according to the Gospel accounts:

The flawed Christmas story – What’s out of place in this picture?

Today, let’s attempt to narrow down the month of Christ’s Birth using only the Old Testament Scriptures and the New Testament Writings. Was He born in December? Let’s look at the Biblical evidence.

People of Interest and the YEAR of His Birth:
There are a few key figures that are linked to history, mentioned in the Gospel accounts of Chris’t Birth. Using the following historical dates and the Gospel accounts we have studied, we can narrow down Christ’s Birth to 7BC to 5BC.

Caesar Augustus (Luk 2:1) – Augustus was a Roman statesman and military leader who was the first Emperor of the Roman Empire, controlling Imperial Rome from 16 January 27 BC until his death in 19 August AD 14.

Publius Sulpicius Quirinius (Luk 2:2) – In 6 CE Quirinius, the newly-appointed Imperial Legate (governor) of the province of Roman Syria, was tasked to carry out a tax census of the new province of Judea, one of the three territories into which the kingdom of Herod the Great had been divided on his death in 4 BC.

Herod the Great (Mat 2:1) – Herod was a Roman client king of Judea, who reigned from 37BC to 4BC.

Herod Archelaus (Mat 2:22) – Archelaus his son was ethnarch (Govenor) of Samaria, Judea, and Idumea (Edom), including the cities Caesarea and Jaffa, from 4 BC to 6 AD.

We know that Herod died in 4BC, at which time Joseph returned from Egypt according to Mat 2:20-23. We also know that Yeshua was close to two years old, when the Magi visited(Mat 2:16). If Herod died the same year he ordered the killing of the children, that would place Yeshua‘s birth 2-3 years before Herod’s death. Which gives us an approximate 7BC – 5BC as His birth.

The Priestly courses and the MONTH of His Birth:
To calculate the month of Christ’s birth, we must look into the Birth of John much closely, as Luke provides some key details in his Gospel.

Zecheriah, father of John, was a Priest in the course of Abijah(Luk 1:5). Which was the eighth course out of 24(1Chr 24:7). Each of these priestly courses worked at the Temple for a period of one week(Josephus, Antiq 7, Chapter 14, Verse 7). And all 24 priestly courses were present at the 3 main feasts of Passover/Unleavened Bread, Pentecost & Tabernacles(2Chr 5:11, 2Chr 8:12). The Luni-Solar year according to the Scriptures consist of 51 weeks (A Lunar Cycle is 29.53 days X 12 Months). When you add the 3 weeks that all the priests work at the feasts to the 2 revolutions of 24 Priestly courses, you end up at 51 courses [(24×2)=48 +3 = 51].

Luk 1:5 There was in the days of Herod, the king of Judaea, a certain priest named Zacharias, of the course of Abia: and his wife was of the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elisabeth.

1Ch 24:7 Now the first lot came forth to Jehoiarib, the second to Jedaiah, The third to Harim, the fourth to Seorim, The fifth to Malchijah, the sixth to Mijamin, The seventh to Hakkoz, the eighth to Abijah, The ninth to Jeshua, the tenth to Shecaniah, The eleventh to Eliashib, the twelfth to Jakim, The thirteenth to Huppah, the fourteenth to Jeshebeab, The fifteenth to Bilgah, the sixteenth to Immer, The seventeenth to Hezir, the eighteenth to Aphses, The nineteenth to Pethahiah, the twentieth to Jehezekel, The one and twentieth to Jachin, the two and twentieth to Gamul, The three and twentieth to Delaiah, the four and twentieth to Maaziah. These were the orderings of them in their service to come into the house of the LORD, according to their manner, under Aaron their father, as the LORD God of Israel had commanded him.

Josephus, Antiq 7, Chapter 14, Verse 7 He divided them also into courses: and when he had separated the Priests from them, he found of these Priests twenty four courses: sixteen of the house of Eleazar, and eight of that of Ithamar: and he ordained that one course should minister to God eight days, from sabbath to sabbath. And thus were the courses distributed by lot, in the presence of David, and Zadok, and Abiathar the High Priests, and of all the rulers. And that course which came up first was written down as the first: and accordingly the second; and so on to the twenty four.

Mishneh Torah, Chap 3, Verse 9 – Samuel the prophet and David the king divided the Levites into twenty-four divisions; each division served for one week. The chief of a division divided the men of his division into subdivisions [family groups].— — The chiefs of the subdivisions distributed assignments among those serving on their particular day, each man performing his own task.

Mishneh Torah, Chap 4, Verse 3 – Our teacher Moses divided the priests into eight divisions, four from the family of Elazar and four from the family of Ithamar. They functioned that way until the time of Samuel the prophet, when he and King David divided them into twenty-four divisions. A chief was named over each division. One division a week would go up to Jerusalem for service. The divisions would change every Sabbath day, one leaving and the next one entering, until the cycle was completed. Then they would begin the cycle over again.

2Ch 5:11 And it came to pass, when the priests were come out of the holy place: (for all the priests that were present were sanctified, and did not then wait by course:

2Ch 8:12 Then Solomon offered burnt offerings unto the LORD on the altar of the LORD, which he had built before the porch, Even after a certain rate every day, offering according to the commandment of Moses, on the sabbaths, and on the new moons, and on the solemn feasts, three times in the year, even in the feast of unleavened bread, and in the feast of weeks, and in the feast of tabernacles. And he appointed, according to the order of David his father, the courses of the priests to their service, and the Levites to their charges, to praise and minister before the priests, as the duty of every day required: the porters also by their courses at every gate: for so had David the man of God commanded.

Looking at the above information, we can attempt to create a depiction of the events that took place in their approximate time periods, as given below:

 If Zecheriah was engaged in his duties in the 9th Week of the year, he would have had to also work on the 10th week and would have gone home to Elizabeth in the 11th Week. If we estimate that Elizabeth conceived in the 12th Week, she would have given birth to John approximately at the en of the year. As Mary conceived 6 months after Elizabeth’s conception, we can then narrow down Mary’s conception to around the 39th Week of the year. If so, our Saviour Yeshua would have been born fairly close, if not right on the Day of Sukkot, also known as the Feast of Tabernacles.

There are a few reasons to believe that the Birth of Christ happened on Tabernacles
1. Emmanuel
Matthew quotes Isaiah 7:14 in Matthew 1:23 as he explains “Emmanuel” which means “God with Us” in Hebrew was a prophecy that came true, this day. The Feast/Appointment of Tabernacles was the one feast which commemorated “God Dwelling/Tabernacling among His people”. Furthermore, John 1:14 speaks of Messiah the same way using the word “Dwelt”(Skaynoo- G4637) which meant Tent or Encampment in Greek.

2. Perfect time for a Census
Luke speaks of a Census for the purpose of Taxation which was carried our by Rome. At the time of the 3 main Feast Days, all Jews come to Jerusalem to participate. So it would make perfect sense to keep a Census at this time

3. Locality of Bethlehem
Bethlehem was situated less than 10Km away from Jerusalem and a 2 hour walk away. This would have been an ideal situation for Joseph and Mary, as they could register with Roman authorities as well as attend the Feast which is close to where they would have stayed.

4. No room at the Inn
Lodging would be hard to get by in the time of a Feast, as many Jews travel back to Jerusalem at this time. This makes perfect sense with Luke’s account as many pilgrims would have already occupied all the establishments which were available.

5. Born on the 1st Day, Circumcised on the 8th
The Feast of Tabernacles is an 8-day feast(Lev 23:39). The 1st day and the 8th day are special/high Sabbath Days. Could it be that Yeshua was born on the 1st Day of Tabernacles and circumcised according to the Law(Lev 12:3, Luk 2:21) on the 8th Day of Tabernacles?

6. Shepherds grazing sheep in the cold?
As Luke mentions in Luk 2:8, there were shepherds grazing their flock in the night as Christ was born. It is highly unlikely that this would have been possible in the cold of December. It may have been possible around the 7th Feast as the fall rains would have made the pastures lush for the sheep to graze on. But would not have been too cold for them as close to the 9th Month (November/December) when the atmosphere is most cold.

The above clues may point to Yeshua’s Birth happening right on the Day of Tabernacles(Sep/Oct in our Gregorian Calendar). One other reason is that Yeshua’s Death happened on Passover (a feast day), He resurrected on Firstfruits (a feast day), He sent His Holy Spirit on Pentecost (a feast day). So it is very likely that God intended His Birth also on a Feast Day.

Other Possibilities
But we should also inspect a few other possibilities as well according to the above graph. Every Priestly course worked 5 times a year ; twice according to their course and thrice at the main feasts along with all other priestly courses. So there maybe 4 other possibilities as well. Let us see whether eith of them can lead to a December 25th Birth.

i) If Luke’s account of Zecheriah working in the temple was in Pesach/Passover, Christ’s birth would have taken place around the 22nd Week which is the end of the 5th Month (July/August in the Gregorian Calendar).

ii) If Luke’s account of Zecheriah working in the temple was in Shavuot/Pentecost, Christ’s birth would have taken place still on Sukkot/Tabernacles as it would have not changed the time he returned to Elizabeth.

iii) If Luke’s account of Zecheriah working in the temple was in Sukkot/Tabernacles, Christ’s birth would have taken place around the 45th Week which is the 11th Month (January/February in the Gregorian Calendar).

iv) If Luke’s account of Zecheriah working in the temple was in the 35th Week, which is his 2nd course for the year, Christ’s birth would have taken place around the 3rd Week which is in the 1st Month around Pesach/Passover (March/April in the Gregorian Calendar).

Conclusion
According to Luke’s account, we can make an approximation of Christ’s Birth to Sukkot, which makes sense in several different ways when looking at prophecies such as Isaiah 7:14 or the other particulars in the story. I would not disregard any of the other possibilities as well, but it would be more probable that He was born on Sukkot. But it is certain that he could not have been born in December.

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God’s Appointed Times – A graphical study

Learning about YHVH‘s Appointed times was the turning point in my life, in which I saw a pattern that God had laid out. Seeing that Christ died on “Passover“, being buried at the beginning of the “Week of Unleavened Bread“, Resurrecting on “Firstfruits” and the Disciples receiving the Holy Spirit on “Pentecost(which is another of God’s Feast days from Lev 23) started a curiosity in me, which has fueled my passion of study and research. The Icing on the cake was that there were more feast days which were yet to be realised, but of which we had all heard in some sermon or bible study. The Feast of “Trumpets” signified His 2nd Coming, The “Day of Atonement” signified judgement and “Tabernacles” signified His 1000 year reign. “I was blown away”. Putting all of this together with Scripture to back it up, I hope the below Graphical Study Board will help you see God’s Plan and His Word in new Light. Click on below image for enlarged view.

Click on image for enlarged view

Click on image for enlarged view

2017 Calendar with Biblical Appointed Feast Days, New Moons and Torah Portions – Download

For the past few years, as I learned about God’s Feast Days/ Appointed Times, it has always been a struggle to keep track of His Holy Days. As the world works on the Gregorian Calendar it is impractical to discard it altogether. But on the other hand, keeping track of God’s Calendar timings is important to me now, more than ever. With all the technology in the world, keeping it noted down in your phone or computer becomes the norm – although there’s nothing like a printed version you can stick on a wall or fridge. After looking around for quite some time, I decided on creating such a calendar myself this year, so that whoever needs it, is able to simply download and print it out; or keep it in their computer for reference. Download for free using link at bottom of page. Click the image below for an enlarged preview.

2017 HebCal FinalAW

Now I will be the first to admit that the highlighted days are only approximations, and can change drastically depending on the New Moon Sightings and the Aviv Search. I am well aware that there are differing opinions on how the Biblical Calendar is interpreted – and this is meant to be a helpful guide and something that brings us together rather than cause division. I hope that it will also be helpful to all of you with your Sabbath studies as well.

– DOWNLOAD –

(6.77MB PDF FILE)

Contents:
♦ 12 Month Gregorian Calendar
♦ Calendar Week with Sabbath as 7th day
♦ Weekly Torah Portions with additional reading of Prophets and Gospels
♦ New Moon Days/Months marked (maybe off by 1 day – please correct if so)
♦ Passover*
♦ Week of Unleavened Bread*
♦ Firstfruits*
♦ Pentecost with 50 day count*
♦ Trumpets*
♦ Atonement*
♦ Week of Tabernacles with 8th Day*
♦ Special/High Sabbaths
♦ Condensed studies on the Biblical Calendar and other topics
Please note that Purim, Chanukkah and other traditional holy days are not marked
* These could be off by a day or a whole month according to moon sightings and the aviv search

Instructions:
♦ Simply download and print it on your home printer or at a 3rd party vendor such as Snapfish, Kodak Gallery, Walgreen, Walmart, Target, CVS, etc.
♦ Pages are designed to be printed on A3 white paper, but can be fitted onto A4 Paper using print properties, if needed.
♦ Let me know if you need any further help

Be a blessing to everyone around you, this coming year!

Feast of Succoth/Tabernacles and our dwelling with God Almighty

The last of the Appointed Times given by our Heavenly Father, to His People is known as the Feast of Tabernacles. After the solemn remembrance of the “Day of Atonement” in which we repent for all our shortcomings, we step into the 8 Day feast of Tabernacles with much joy and rejoicing. This is considered the most joyous of the Appointed Times given to us in Lev 23. Let us study this Feast a bit more closer to understand and apply it to our life today as well as find out its Prophetic significance.

This study has been broken into 10 sections for your viewing ease. If you already know about any particular section, please feel free to skip through to the section that you are interested in.

1. Introduction to the Feasts/Appointed Times of God
God’s appointed times (also known as feasts) which are written in Lev 23 consist of 7 separate events which are “remembrances of God’s grace in time past” as well as “prophetic shadows of things to come”. Even though these feasts have been branded “Jewish feasts”, it is very clear that these were called “My feasts” and “LORD‘s feasts” by our Heavenly Father (Lev 23:2,4,37).

Contrary to popular belief, Yeshua(the real name of Jesus), His Disciples and even the highly misunderstood Apostle Paul, did not teach or abolish God’s Law. Just as God’s Commandments will stand till Heaven and Earth exists, The “Feasts” or “Appointed Times” of God (which are part of God’s Law), is, and will be in effect in the time to come. Out of the 7 events asked to be remembered, God has fulfilled 3 of these prophetic events in the time of the first coming of Messiah.

I highly recommend that you read the separate studies on Passover, First Fruits, Pentecost & Trumpets (if you have not studied this subject before) from which, Passover, Firstfruits & Pentecost have been already fulfilled in its time and season at the time of the 1st appearance of Messiah Yeshua.

Let us review these Appointed times, their significance and their fulfillment –
1. The Sabbath – Every 7th Day (Lev 23:3) – Remembrance of God as Supreme Creator and the one who will provide us with rest in His Millennial Kingdom

2. Passover & the week of Unleavened bread – 14th of the 1st Month is Passover / 15th to 21st is the week of U.B. ; The 15th and the 21st are Special Sabbaths (Lev 23:5-7) – The deliverance from Egypt through the Blood of a Lamb & the Deliverance from Sin/Death through the Blood of Yeshua who is named Lamb of God (Yeshua died on the day of Passover)

3. First Fruits – The day after the 7th day Sabbath, which is right after Passover (Lev 23:10,11) – The lifting up of the First fruit of all Crops to God & the ressurection of the First fruit of all who will rise again – Yeshua – who was the First to have risen from death (Yeshua rose on the day of First Fruits)

4. Feast of Weeks also known as Pentecost – The 50th day counted from First Fruits (Lev 23:15,16) – The day of Thanksgiving for God’s provision for the Harvest and remembrance of giving of the Commandments at Mt.Sinai, as well as The day of remembrance of the giving of the Holy Spirit & the start of the Heavenly harvest of souls collected unto God. – (The Holy Spirit fell on the Disciples on the day of Pentecost)
——————————————————————————————————————————————-
From the 3rd Month (when Pentecost is celebrated) until the 7th Month (when the last 3 feasts are celebrated) there is a period of silence, much like the time we are living in – awaiting His 2nd coming  ——————————————————————————————————————————————-
5. Feast of Trumpets – 1st day of the 7th Month (Lev 23:24,25) – The day Yeshua will return as the Bridegroom & King to reclaim the Earth and establish His Kingdom for a thousand years

6. Feast of Atonement – 10th day of the 7th Month (Lev 23:27-30) – The day of Judgement which is to come, it is day where we fast in repentance, asking God to have mercy for all our terrible sins.

7. Feast of Tabernacles – 15th to 22nd day of the 7th Month ; 15th & 22 are Special Sabbaths (Lev 23:34-36)

2. The “Appointed time” / “Feast” of Tabernacles
Lev 23:33-36,38-43 
Speak unto the children of Israel, saying, The fifteenth day of this seventh month shall be the feast of tabernacles for seven days unto the LORD. On the first day shall be an holy convocation: ye shall do no servile work therein. Seven days ye shall offer an offering made by fire unto the LORD: on the eighth day shall be an holy convocation unto you; and ye shall offer an offering made by fire unto the LORD: it is a solemn assembly; and ye shall do no servile work therein. Also in the fifteenth day of the seventh month, when ye have gathered in the fruit of the land, ye shall keep a feast unto the LORD seven days: on the first day shall be a sabbath, and on the eighth day shall be a sabbath. And ye shall take you on the first day the boughs of goodly trees, branches of palm trees, and the boughs of thick trees, and willows of the brook; and ye shall rejoice before the LORD your God seven days. And ye shall keep it a feast unto the LORD seven days in the year. It shall be a statute for ever in your generations: ye shall celebrate it in the seventh month. Ye shall dwell in booths seven days; all that are Israelites born shall dwell in booths: That your generations may know that I made the children of Israel to dwell in booths, when I brought them out of the land of Egypt: I am the LORD your God.
(Also read Num 29:12 onwards)

As seen in the above passage of Scripture, “Tabernacles” was a Week of Rejoicing before God Almighty. As per the Commandment that proceeds from Him, the 1st day is supposed to be a “Sabbath” and a day of “Assembly”. The Feast ended with the 8th day, which was similarly ordered to be kept as a “Sabbath” and a day of “Assembly” again. As we have seen throughout, all of these have been shadows or prophetic announcements of the work of Messiah. As you are now familiar, Christ fulfilled the Passover, the First Fruits and the Pentecost Feasts. The “fall feasts” as they are known, which are trumpets, atonement and tabernacles will be fulfilled in Him, when He comes as the “Son of David” to rule and reign in His Kingdom alongside His Bride.

3. Tabernacle = Booth = Sukkah = Temporary dwelling
The word “Tabernacle” which was also the same as “Booth” (H5521 – סכּה – sûkkâh) meant “temporary dwelling”. The name “Succoth” derives from the above Hebrew word. This word is first seen in Gen 33:17, in which Jacob makes “Sukkah’s” for His Cattle/Possessions. The “Booths” were mostly made of branches of trees (Lev 23:40, Neh 8:15). We see Jonah building himself a “Booth” outside of Nineveh to see what will become of the city (Jon 4:5). This feast also signifies the temporary state of this life, and that we should await the 8th Day in which all will be renewed and made new in Messiah.

4. A mandatory appearance before God
The “Feast of Tabernacles” or “Feast of Ingathering” as it is known, was one of the 3 Appointments that God Specifically said all should appear before Him. The people were supposed to come from their cities, wherever they lived, to God’s Temple in Jerusalem – Deut 16:16, Exo 23:16, 34:22,23.

5. Remembering Tabernacles/Booths – in the Wilderness, today and when we finally reside with Him
The Feast of Tabernacles is a remembrance of the time in which the Children of Israel dwelt in “Booths” in the Wilderness. It was a remembrance of the journey with God towards the Promised Land, after they were redeemed from Slavery in Egypt. Even After the return from the Babylonian Exile, the people of Judah remembered this Feast (Neh 8:14-17), probably because they were exiled from the Land, but God was still with them, in their exile. Today, we as believers who are grafted into Israel (Rom 11:16-26), are still in exile, waiting for the day when we would be let into the Promised Land through Messiah. In this we understand that the present life we live, is a “temporary dwelling” that we must abandon shortly (2Pet 1:13,14, 2Cor 5:1).

6. Ingathering of Harvest
All of God’s Feasts revolved around the Harvest of the Land. Generally, an yearly agricultural cycle consists of two main seasons. Subsequent to the flow of rain, in the “Spring” and in the “Fall”, the fields are harvested of its produce. God’s Feasts can be broken down into 2 main parts, as the “Spring Feasts” (Passover, Firstfruits & Pentecost) and “Fall Feasts” (Trumpets, Atonement & Tabernacles). Passover leading upto First fruits was the time of the ripening of the Harvest. And the First portion of the Harvest of that year was completed on Pentecost. Similarly, by the time of Tabernacles, the Second Harvest of the year was ready. This is the reason why this Feast was also known as the “Feast of Ingathering” (Exo 23:16, 34:22, Deut 16:13). When Christ appeared before, He became the “Firstfruit” and gathered an amount of people unto Himself as His first Harvest after “Pentecost”. The Second Harvest (The Greater Harvest) is what He talked about in His Ministry (Mat 13:30,39) and is further seen in Prophecy (Joe 3:13, Rev 14:15) which will come to pass with the fulfillment of “Tabernacles”.

7. Days of Rejoicing and Gladness
The seven days from the 15th to 21st of the Seventh Month are to be days of Rejoicing (Lev 23:40, Deut 16:14-16, 2Chr 7:8-10). There were so many things to rejoice about at the time of the Commandment and even today. The Israelites remembered how God fulfilled His promise in bringing them into the land given to Abraham. How God provided them on the way, and even after they entered, how God gave the rains on time, giving them plentiful harvests. They also remembered that they had stepped from death to life because there Sins were covered by the “Atonement Sacrifice” which was done 5 days prior to the “Feast of Tabernacles”. Today, similarly, we thank God for His provision and His mercy, as well as looking forward to the Day when we will “dwell” with Him for a Thousand Years (Rev 20:6, 21:3).

8. Learning God’s Word
The 7 day period of this feast has been a time which was exclusively separated for the study of His Word as well (Deut 31:10-13, Neh 8:18). It is a good time to refresh ourselves in His Word and audit our understanding and our doctrines to see whether it is Biblical & accurate.

9. 8th Day of the Feast – also known as the “Great Day”
Many sacrifices and ceremonies were done in the temple on the 8th day, Signifying a New Beginning or perfection (Lev 9:1, 14:10, 15:14, Lev 22:27, Eze 43:27). Circumcision was also to be done on the 8th Day of a Male Child (Lev 12:3). This is the day mentioned in Joh 7:37 in which Yeshua (Real name of Jesus) cried out “If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink”. This signified the day which is mentioned in Rev 7:15-17. The 8th Day signifies a time when every thing will be renewed completely whether it be heaven or earth (Rev 21:1-6).

10. The Feast of Tabernacles in the Messianic Kingdom Prophecy
The Feast of Tabernacles is one of the feasts specifically mentioned in the prophecies about Yeshua’s Kingdom. It is clear that all who enter into the Messianic Kingdom will have to keep the Appointed time of Tabernacles (Zec 14:16-19). This is a clear indication that these feasts/appointed times/prophetic rehearsals are not done away after Yeshua’s 1st appearance on earth.

Conclusion
The last feast in the Calendar of Prophetic Appointments given by our Father, is the “Feast of Tabernacles”. As we have seen through the study above, it is evident that this Appointment will be fulfilled only at the end of the age, when God dwells/Tabernacles with us. Furthermore the 8th Day of the Feast signifies the renewal and perfection of all things, in which all of God’s Word would be fulfilled. Reading Zec 14:16-19, it is clear that everyone will have to be obedient to keep this feast in the Messianic Kingdom, which is yet to come. Why not start now, and get ready, by celebrating this Prophetic Rehearsal, before we are “ordered” to keep it, in His Kingdom?