PROPHETIC CHRISTMAS AT TABERNACLES
By Matt Leasher
Its that wonderful and joyous time of the year again when we celebrate the earthly birth of our Savior Jesus Christ. Every December we remember when God sent His Son from out of eternity and into this world to begin His ministry of salvation, although a careful observation of the Gospel of Luke shows us that Jesus didn’t actually come into the world in the month of December. If we follow the sequence of events leading up to His birth we find that Jesus was most likely born in the month of Tishri which is the 7th month on the Hebrew calendar and falls approximately every year between the middle of September and the middle of October. We know this because of the order of priesthood that fell to the father of John the Baptist. Allow me to explain.
We know that John the Baptist was 6 months older than Jesus because the angel Gabriel appeared to Mary to inform her of her divine conception when Elizabeth, (John’s mother), was in her 6th month of pregnancy, (Luke 1:26, & 36). So establishing that Jesus was 6 months younger than John we then need to find out when John was born to find out when Jesus was born. We begin our sequence of events by observing that Zacharias, the father of John the Baptist, was serving in the temple in the order of his priestly division, which was the division of Abijah. About 1000 years prior King David had appointed 24 divisions of priest that would serve in the temple throughout the year, two for every month. In 1 Chronicles 24:10 it tells us that the 8th order fell to Abijah, which was the order that Zacharias belonged to. Now the Hebrew religious year began in the month of Abib, (a.k.a. Nissan), which is about mid March. So the 8th order of priest would be due to serve in the temple sometime in June or early July. The angel appeared to Zacharias while he was serving in the temple and informed him that his wife Elizabeth would conceive a son even though she was well advanced in years. Now the difference between when the angel appeared to Mary to inform her of her conception and when the angel appeared to Zacharias to inform him of Elizabeth’s conception is that Mary was conceived at that moment by the Holy Spirit but Zacharias had to wait until his priestly duties were over and then go home and consummate the conception himself and so it says in Luke 1:23-24, So it was, as soon as the days of his service were completed, that he departed to his own house. Now after those days his wife Elizabeth conceived. So John the Baptist was most likely conceived in July, (or the 5th Hebrew month of Ab). If you count 9 months ahead you come to the month of Abib, (a.k.a. Nissan), which is near our March for the birth of John the Baptist. Now knowing that Mary had conceived while Elizabeth was in her 6th month this places the birth of Jesus 6 months after John in the month of Tishri, (which is Sept-Oct on our calendar). Had Luke not informed us that Zacharias was serving in the division of Abijah then we would never know where to begin our sequence of events to find out the time of the birth of our Savior but God doesn’t waste any words. Every single word is in the Bible for a reason.
Now that we have established the timing of our Savior’s birth there may be more than meets the eye to this discovery. The month of Tishri is the 7th month on the Hebrew calendar and the most holy as it contains the last three of the Feasts of the Lord that are listed in Leviticus 23. The first four Feasts are all in the spring and have been prophetically fulfilled by Jesus at His first advent and they are as follows:
Passover – Jesus was our sacrificial Passover lamb.
Feast of Unleavened Bread – Jesus was our sinless bread of life, (leaven being associated with sin by Hebrew custom).
Feast of Firstfruits – Jesus was the “first fruit” to be resurrected in glory. Annually the priests would take a sheaf of the harvest during this feast and wave it before the Lord to be accepted before they could reap the rest of the harvest. The unnamed saints in Matthew 27:52-53 that were resurrected after Jesus was resurrected were Jesus’ wave offering to the Lord. The harvest represents the harvest of souls.
Feast of Weeks, (a.k.a. Pentecost) – In the Old Testament this was an agricultural feast that celebrated the wheat harvest just before summer began. This Feast takes place 50 days after the priestly offering of firstfruits. Fifty days after Jesus was resurrected He sent down the Holy Spirit to form the Church and begin the Church Age that we are currently living in. The Holy Spirit is still graciously at work today in the fields of life harvesting souls unto salvation.
(This is just a brief overview of the prophetic significance of these Feasts as to go in depth is a vast study within itself).
The last three Feasts, which are all in the autumn, are yet to be prophetically fulfilled. They are the Feast of Trumpets, Day of Atonement, and Feast of Tabernacles. The Feast of Trumpets, (a.k.a. Rosh Hashanah), is the Jewish New Year but also prophetically refers to the regathering of Israel which is then followed by the Day of Atonement, (a.k.a. Yom Kipper), and prophetically this will be fulfilled when the prophecy of Zechariah 12:10-14 comes to pass. Then on the 15th day of the 7th month comes the Feast of Tabernacles, (a.k.a. Feast of In-gathering & Feast of Booths). This is a 7 day feast that celebrates the gathering in of the harvest and also commemorates when the Israelites camped out in temporary shelters in the wilderness under the protection of God during their exodus from Egypt. It is during this Feast that Jesus may very well have been born. While we can’t be dogmatic about it there are some clues that relate to His birth and the harvest, which is what this joyous Feasts celebrates.
For one thing the Gospel of John says, “the Word became flesh and dwelt among us,” (John 1:14). The Greek text translates the word “dwelt” as “tabernacle”. The Greek word skenoo literally means, “to pitch a tent”. So that verse literally reads “And the Word became flesh and tabernacled among us”. In context John is speaking of the birth of Christ. Another hint that Christ may very well have been born on the Feast of Tabernacles is in Isaiah 9:1-7. This prophetic section of Scripture is foretelling the coming of the Messiah unto Israel and in verse 2-3 it mentions that it would be during the “joy of the harvest” which is precisely what the Feast of Tabernacles is. It should also be noted that when Elizabeth heard of Mary’s pregnancy she said to Mary, “Blessed is the fruit of your womb”.
The seven Feasts of the Lord in Leviticus 23 are exactly what they are called, “Feasts of the Lord”. They are His Feasts, (see Leviticus 23:2), meaning they all relate to Him and point to His coming. It would only seem fitting that Jesus would be born on a Feast day. It would also seem fitting that Jesus would come again on a Feast day, perhaps the same day He came the first time? Perhaps the Rapture or the 2nd Coming will be during the Feast of Tabernacles? Perhaps both? While we can’t positively answer these questions we can find a clue in the 7th chapter of the Gospel of John that pertains to Jesus “secretly” attending the Feast of Tabernacles during His first advent that could be a foreshadow of the Rapture.
In John 7:2 it says that the Feast of Tabernacles was at hand and His brothers being in disbelief of Him were coaxing Him to go to the Feast and show Himself but Jesus said: You go up to this feast. I am not yet going up to this feast, for My time has not yet fully come. Then in verse 10 it says this: But when His brothers had gone up, then He also went up to the feast, not openly, but as it were in secret. Could this be a prophetic clue to the timing of the Rapture when He comes secretly for His faithful followers at the time of the Feast of Tabernacles?
In Numbers 10:10 the Lord commands that trumpets are to be blown on Feast days. The return of Christ, both the Rapture and 2nd Coming are described with trumpets being blown. In 1 Corinthians 15:52 it says: in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. The Feast of Tabernacles is the last Feast of the Lord on the Hebrew calendar and the Lord commanded that trumpets be blown on all Feast days. Could this be the last trump that the Holy Spirit led Paul to write about in his description of the coming Rapture? The seven days that make up the Feast of Tabernacles could also represent the seven years that we will be under God’s protection during the 7 year Tribulation dwelling in the rooms that Jesus has prepared for us, (John 14:1-4). See also Isaiah 26:19-21.
The sound of a trumpet is also associated with Christ’s physical return at the end of the Tribulation as described in Matthew 24:31. Could it be possible that the Feast of Tabernacles is the timing of Christ’s first advent, (birth at Christmas), Rapture and His 2nd Coming? Tabernacles is a 7 day Feast so we still wouldn’t know the day or the hour of His return but we are commanded to be watching and to be discerners of the times. (Matthew 16:3)
It is also interesting that the Feast of Tabernacles will also be celebrated during the millennial reign of Christ, (Zechariah 14:16 & Ezekiel 45:25). Surely Tabernacles is a Feast of high stature in the eyes of God if it will be celebrated forever and He wants us to know it. In Ecclesiastes 3:1-2 it says: “To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven; A time to be born and a time to die.” God has pre-appointed times for everything under heaven and Jesus was “foreordained before the foundation of the world”, (1 Peter 1:20). If Jesus’ first advent fulfilled and coincided with the first 4 Feast of the Lord then it seems only logical that we look at the last 3 Feasts of the Lord for signs of His second coming. The Lord always provides signs of His coming before He comes.
Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel (Isaiah 7:14)
O’ Come, O’ Come Emmanuel!
Merry Christmas to all.
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