We love to celebrate our Lord’s birth, but we celebrate it at a time that is different from most folks, so we thought we would share a little bit of that with you. We have discovered that God was the inventor of holidays (Holy Days), most of which can be found in Leviticus 23. Now we realize that many people think those Feasts were for the Israelites or that they ceased with Jesus’ ascension to heaven or even the destruction of the temple, but we have discovered some interesting things in God’s Word! While our family does celebrate all the biblical feasts, we would like to tell you a little bit about the one when we believe Jesus was born – The Feast of Tabernacles, which begins at sundown tonight, and goes through October 14 this year (exact dates differ from year to year according to the Jewish calendar).
The Feast of Tabernacles has many different aspects to it. It is a time of remembering the booths that the Israelites lived in during their 40 years in the wilderness, so a sukkah (booth) is built for this feast – a temporary dwelling place, usually in the back yard. (There are too many mosquitoes in Texas this time of year, so we set up a sukkah in our living room!) We use sheets to make a temporary room where we eat and sleep and celebrate. Then we decorate with pumpkins and pears and apples and other fall harvest items, since this is also a harvest thanksgiving feast. The sukkahs are supposed to be decorated, so we have Bible pictures all over the sheets. God’s Word also tells us to take the fruit of beautiful trees, branches of palm trees, the boughs of leafy trees, and willows of the brook to wave before the Lord as we celebrate and rejoice, so since we are blessed here in Texas with lots of palm trees, we also use them in our celebration.
Leviticus 23 tells us that this 8-day Feast of Tabernacles shall be a statute forever. Now, although this verse pertains to the Israelites, it is interesting to note in Zechariah 14, that all nations shall go to Jerusalem from year to year (during the millenial reign) to keep the Feast of Tabernacles and there will be a curse of no rain if they do not come up for the Feast. (The curse does not apply to today – this is a future prophecy, future curse.) Now, we just happen to believe that if God told the Jews (His chosen people) to celebrate this Holy Day FOREVER, and all nations of the earth will celebrate it when Jesus reigns for 1000 years, then we would like to practice now, especially since God has chosen us as well!
The word “tabernacle” literally means “God dwelling with man.” This gives us a huge clue as to what this feast means (all the feasts were a shadow of what was to come). We know that God tabernacled with the Israelites for 40 years in the wilderness, and that is part of this Holy Day. We also know that God, in the form of Jesus, tabernacled with man 2000 years ago. We also have the hope that God, in the form of Jesus, will tabernacle with men again for 1000 years in the future.
So, why do we celebrate Jesus’ birth during the Feast of Tabernacles? We know that shepherds were keeping their flocks in the field at night, but this would not be possible in the winter time because of night time temperatures and December being their rainy season. There is no way shepherds would be out in the fields at night during December.
We also know that Jesus was conceived six months after John the Baptist was conceived. Zacharias received word during Sivan 12-18, (June/July) the eighth course of Abia, which was his time to serve in the temple (undisputed Jewish dates of temple service) that he would have a son. It took about three to four days to get home. John would have been conceived on or about Sivan 23. Six months later (Jesus’ conception) would be around the 25th of Kislev (December - also Chanakuh). John the Baptist would have been born around Passover time, Nissan 14, (March/April), and if Jesus was conceived six months after John was conceived, he would have been born six months later, about Tishri 15 (September/October), or the first day of the Feast of Tabernacles. At age 30, Jesus started his ministry, which lasted 3½ years. He was crucified at Passover (March/April) when He was 33½ years old. Count backwards from Passover ½ year and you come to the 15th day of the 7th Jewish month (Tishri), which is the first day of Sukkoth, the Feast of Tabernacles.
The eighth day of the Feast of Tabernacles is also called the day of circumcision. Jesus was circumcised on the eighth day. Important events surrounding Jesus’ life are all marked by God’s festivals: Passover foretold Jesus’ sacrifice; the Feast of First Fruits is Jesus’ resurrection; Pentecost was the birthday of the church - the giving of the Holy Spirit; and Rosh Hashanah (the Feast of Trumpets) points to His second coming. Why would Jesus’ birth be any different?