Although we celebrate Christmas on the 25 December, it is unlikely that Jesus was born then. It was probably during the seventh month, Tishri, on the Hebrew calendar (September-October), during the autumn harvest feast of Succot (Tabernacles). The prophetic element of Jesus’ birth narrative is hidden within a code which we will look at.
Our opening Scripture contains a play on words, which is only recognized in the Hebrew language. When you replace ‘Jesus’ with his Hebrew name ‘Yeshua’ it describes who He is and what He will do. He is Yeshua (means ‘Saviour’) who will yoshia (means ‘save’) his people from their sins.
Yeshua, who thirty years later will declare ‘I am the bread of life,’ emerged into this world in Beit Lechem (Bethlehem), ‘the house of bread,’ named for its provision as the bread basket of the region. Amid these sheaves, at a time generations before, faithful Ruth gleaned wheat to provide for mother-in-law Naomi. Beit Lechem memorializes the kinsman-redeemer, Boaz, who rescued Gentile Ruth by marriage as a type of the Saviour, the world’s Kinsman-Redeemer. We note that, according to Matthew, Ruth is in Yeshua’s genealogy.
Shepherds, the lowest rank of Jewish society, appear as the first worshippers of the One who will be introduced to the world as ‘The Lamb of God, that takes away the sins of the world!’ But these are no ordinary shepherds. They are employed to raise lambs for Temple sacrifices, especially the Passover sacrifice, when the unblemished lamb is taken by the high priest and slain to reconcile the people to God. At that very moment, some 30 years later, the sinless Lamb of God was sacrificed for the whole world. Prior to that event that was to divide time, He was also to declare, ‘I am the good Shepherd.’
On the eighth day Yeshua was circumcised exactly as the Scripture required of all Jewish males, a command that God gave to Abraham and all his descendants. By doing so Yeshua was identifying with the Abrahamic covenant through which God promised salvation not only to the Jews but also to the Gentiles of the entire world (Galatians 3:8-9). And Yeshua was named as the angel commanded before His birth.
Visitors from the East, probably from Babylon, Magi (astronomers and sages) travelled for two years following a supernatural star, the star of a king. They must have been a considerable company for such a perilous journey crossing the desert expanses, domain of adventurers and robbers, certainly not three kings as Christmas cards would have us believe. Were they inspired by Daniel’s records of times and dates as in Daniel chapter 7? Their gifts are both significant and prophetic: gold for the King of kings, frankincense for the High Priest and myrrh to embalm the Lamb of God for burial.
As we ponder on the wonder of each of these events we are arrested by the minute detail of God’s strategy, the extent to which He revealed the nature and destiny of Yeshua impacting the entire planet. First as God’s sacrificial Lamb, then as Judge and then as King of kings and Lord of lords as well as Israel’s King.
Prayer: Father, the scope and grandeur of your ways are infinitely higher than we can ever fully perceive or grasp; Your timing, your creativity, your integrity, your all and ever embracing love that You promise to forever reveal to us as we walk with you endlessly. ‘Since ancient times no one has heard, no ear has perceived, no eye has seen any God besides you, who acts on behalf of those who wait for him.’(Isaiah 64:4) Amen.
‘She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.’
Matthew 1:21, NIV
Murray Dixon has a school teacher background prior to being ordained in the NZ Anglican Church.
He served as a parish minister, then as a padre in the RNZAF before pioneering Prayer for Israel in NZ with his wife Rosemary. In 1999 they participated in the Nine Week School at Glyndley Manor –a life changing experience – before moving to Israel where they served on Mt Carmel, in Migdal (Mary Magdalene’s town) and then in Jerusalem with a heart to see Ellel established in Israel. Today they serve on the Pierrepont team.
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