If you are a Believer who is seeking truth about the Jewish roots of your faith, you want to know how to honor the Messiah’s birth during this time.
You might have a lot of questions…
· Was Jesus really born on December 25th?
· How did Christmas traditions start?
· Can I still observe Christmas traditions and honor the Messiah’s birth?
This is a season to examine your heart and think about keeping the Messiah the focus during the Christmas season.
Join Rabbi Curt Landry as he takes you on a journey of exploring the heart and history behind Christmas. Get a deeper understanding of what Bible scholars say about Jesus’ birth and much more. If you want to dive deeper into your relationship with God this Christmas, don’t miss this podcast.
Transcription from Podcast (Revised for Readability)
Honor the Messiah’s birth.
Merry Christmas to you, and Happy Hanukkah. I hope that this podcast finds you doing well. Listen, we love Hanukkah and Christmas at our house. We joke that we are Hanukkah and Christmas Jews.
We're so excited that our son-in-law, Paul Marcelino, actually came from a family that also celebrated both Hanukkah and Christmas. They're Hanukkah and Christmas Jews, Believers as well.
There is such joy in the light of Hanukkah, and also in celebrating the Light of the world as we light our Christmas tree. This reminds us of the tree at Calvary, and that the Lord said that He would be the Light of the world.
Was Jesus Born on December 25th?
I want to give you a bit of history on Christmas because there will be Christians who won't celebrate Christmas and there will be Christians who won't celebrate Hanukkah. Let’s try take a look at some truth.
Most historians and biblical scholars agree that Jesus was not born on December 25.
One of the reasons is because it says, “Now there were the same country shepherds living out in the field, keeping watch over their flocks by night,” in Luke 2:8. Shepherds were not known to be out in the cold during December watching the flock. Therefore, the biblical account indicates that Jesus was born more likely around the last of the summer or early when the shepherds would be in the field.
The Church didn’t officially label Christmas as December 25th until 440 A.D.
Another reason that points to December the 25th not actually being the day Jesus was born is that the Church did not officially label it as such until 440 A.D. Pagan nations were already celebrating around that date honoring the sun god, Mithra, and the Roman culture also celebrated two festivals associated with this date: Saturnalia and Sol Invictus.
Saturnalia was in honor of the god of Saturn and was celebrated from December the 17th to December the 24th. Sol Invitrus, honored the unconquered sun, which was associated with the winter solstice. So there was a transition from paganism to Christianity. The Roman Church adopted these already-observed feasts, giving them a more “Christian” focus. This made Christianity more palatable to Roman culture to accept. Therefore, the Roman Church likely chose this date to make it easier for the Gentiles to accept Christianity.
The Blending of Cultures Can Be a Problem
I want to talk about that blending. This was the whole problem that is described in the Hanukkah story, okay? The Hanukkah story is this.
- Antiochus IV, a Greek ruler, wanted to overthrow the whole world at that time. His goal was to change the culture and calendar to give the people new gods. If the people were going to follow this new world order that Antiochus was trying to establish, he had to be able to make himself a god. He had to create gods that he controlled and make the people worship them to control them. The problem he ran into with the Jewish people was they were monolithic people. They only believed in one God, not multiple gods. In the Jewish culture, they had their own calendar and God, one God; thus, Antiochus IV had difficulty controlling them because their God and their calendar were in the way.
This Is A Word for Us Today
This is really a word for us today. We need to understand that if we'll allow the Lord to return us to our Jewish roots of the faith and say as it is written in the Bible, “Hear, O Israel, the Lord thy God, the Lord has made us one,”–one new man–and get in one spirit, in one God, and in one level of worship, we can unify and become supernaturally powerful as a force against the new world order that's trying to change the culture.
Why Are the Globalists and Elitest Pulling Down Our History?
Have you ever asked, “Why are the globalists and the elite so interested in pulling down statues and trying to remove, let's say, Christopher Columbus? Why do we want to change?”
Everything has to change because if they don't change people's history, then they can't change them into the new identity they want to shape them into. This is what happened in the story of Hanukkah.
Jesus created the world, and it was God's desire from the very beginning when He created Adam and Eve that all should prosper and none should fail, and none should be lost. But Adam and Eve failed, and that's why God sent His only begotten Son, Jesus, to restore us all back to the Father.
Consider This When You Honor the Messiah’s Birth
Consider this about when you honor the Messiah’s birth. It’s all a matter of focus. It's no different. We have grandchildren, Christie and I do, and they're going to listen to the stories that we tell them, but we have to be able to tell the story.
Jesus Came and “Tabernacled” Amongst Us
So when there is mention about the shepherds in the field, when you go to any church for a Christmas Eve celebration, you have the shepherds and the sheep and all this, and again, the information points to the fact most likely this was probably around the Feast of Sukkot or Tabernacles. It says in John 1:14, “And the Word became flesh and tabernacled amongst us,” and the emphasis there is on tabernacled. Wouldn't it make sense that if Jesus and the Word became flesh, it would come at the Feast of Tabernacles?
If He had come at the Feast of Tabernacles, He wouldn't have been in a manger. He would've been in a sukkah. That would make sense because a kosher Jewish child would not be put in an animal trough, okay? They wouldn't have done that culturally under any circumstance. They would've put Him in the sukkah, a three-sided building on the side of probably someone's home or maybe an inn.
Another theory of why Jesus was born at Sukkot is based on the Hebrew word for stable, which is sukkah. The Feast of Tabernacles observation involves the construction of a sukkah. Because Sukkot was in early fall, the shepherds at this point were in the field and probably would've been there during that Feast of Tabernacles, celebrating this harvest feast in those fields.
How to Approach This Time
We should always examine our hearts. The reason we search for the Jewish roots of the faith is to be grounded and desire to know the Lord better, to understand and identify with Him. I'm not trying to argue or press. I'm just trying to provoke some thought that we need to realize that possibly there are good lessons to be learned from Hanukkah. There are good lessons to be learned by honoring Messiah at Christmas, even on December 25th (even though we know it's not really His birthday). Still, it is a time when the whole world decides to focus on a tree with lights on it, and He is the Light of the world. It's a time when we give gifts, and obviously, God gave us His greatest gift, Jesus.
Philippians 3:7-9 says, “But what things are gained to me? These I have counted loss for Christ. Yet indeed I also count all things a loss for the excellent of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, counted them rubbish that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ my righteousness, which is in God by faith.”
So we need to understand that Believers are warned against adopting human traditions and pagan rituals into things. It says in Colossians 2:8-10, “Beware less anyone cheat you through philosophy or empty deceit according to the traditions of men, according to the basic principles of the world, not according to Christ, for in Him dwells the fullness of the Godhead bodily and you are complete in Him Who is the head of the principality and powers.”
So the word cheat carries the connotation of robbery. Philosophies and traditions of men can quickly spread like wildfire through the dry land in our minds, wills, and emotions. That's why we need a faith mindset so that we're not robbed of the joy of our salvation and the freedom of Christ that the earth is trying to, and the world, is trying to take from us.
We need to understand what Satan and the world's systems try to put us into. If you're going to honor the Messiah’s birth at Christmas, then you need to meditate on that which is good and that which is pure and good and holy and of good report.
So remember that if you choose to set up a tree and put lights on it or put lights on your house, you can say, “This house will honor the Light of the world, Yeshua, the Messiah, Jesus.”
I like to think about Galatians 4:8-11 where it says, “But then indeed when you did not know God, you serve those which by nature are not gods.” That’s what the Romans were doing even before the birth of Christ through the winter solstice and what they were doing they had a feast where they made a fake god on December 25th say, “If we bring a green tree into the house, then that will remind us of spring and if we put lights on it will remind us that during this winter where it's darker early in the day and dark in the morning, that there is the light to come.”
So this was their logic, and then when Christianity came along, it was like, “Hey, it'd just be easier. Let's just go ahead and coordinate and roll this Christ's birthday into sharing the same birthday as this solstice and add this fake god, Mithras on the 25th,” and that's what they did.
But Galatians warns us. “But now after you have known God,” or rather that you're known by God, “How is it that you turn again to the weak beggarly elements to which you desire again to be in bondage? You observe days and months and seasons and years. I'm afraid for you lest I have labored in vain.”
We are warned by the Apostle Paul here that once we're born again, we're to know God and know the truth and we are to search for God and know in our hearts and say, “Try me and know my anxieties and see if there's any wickedness in the ways and lead me into the ways of everlasting life.” This comes out of Psalm 139:23-24.
So we did not turn the traditions of men into pagan things, but we can take things that were once pagan and turn them into righteous deeds by decreeing and declaring them and choosing not to meditate.
We're not meditating on the winter solstice, and we're not meditating on pagan things. We are meditating on what we see at Christmas by honoring the Lord. The Lord gives hope, and it's time to say, “Thank You, God, that You sent Your only Son, even if it wasn't on the 25th of December, to give us hope. Thank You, Lord, that it points to miracles working through the power of God, that God put His Son on a tree, He died for us, He resurrected on the third day and brought salvation to all who call on the name of the world.”
Jesus is the Light of the world because He was put out on the cross, but on the third day, the light came back, and we need to be able to say, “What He started in life set us free even through His death that happened on a tree.” The scripture says, “Hope deferred makes the heart grow sick, but when the desire comes, it is the tree of life.”
So let's display the Father's love and give hope and thanksgiving to the Father for His Son this Christmas. I pray that the Holy Spirit will speak to your heart as you celebrate your Savior's birthday this year, that you honor Messiah, the Lord, that you would spend time in His Word every day declaring His promises, living life full and blessed, and we say Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, and happy birthday to Jesus even though it's not right on this day.
We thank the Lord for the birth of Messiah, and we honor Him by saying, “You are the Tree of Life and You are the Light of the world.”
In Yeshua's name. God bless. We'll see you next time. Shalom.
Curt Landry, founder of Curt Landry Ministries, and his wife, Christie, travel extensively, preaching and teaching about the Jewish roots of the Christian faith. Together, their passion is to empower families to live and leave Kingdom legacies and understand their own personal heritage.