2017 Holy (Passion) Week Worship Guide

This Worship Guide is not meant to create “traditions of men” but merely to make it easy for individuals and families to worship well during the week we celebrate our Lord’s sacrifice and resurrection.

The reader will note that I hold to a Wednesday evening Lord’s Supper and a Thursday crucifixion. This is not meant to be controversial on my part, but it is the best reconciliation I can make with the scriptural data that contradicts Roman Catholic tradition (as handed down to Protestants).

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Passion Week / Holy Week Worship Guide

Sunday – 9th: Jesus’ Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem

Application: Declare the King, and Rejoice!

[Activities: Decide to be someone who lends yourself and your goods “for the Master’s use.” Decide to believe the Master prepares supply for His work ahead of time (ex. Donkey colt). Anything to do with Palm branches, Learn the meaning of “Hosanna!” Remember true leadership is first humble (ex. Jesus’ riding on the colt of a donkey). Stay with friends.]

Monday – 10th: Jesus Weeps over Jerusalem, Curses the Fig Tree & Purges the Temple of Crooked Religious Leaders/Merchants

Application: Reflect on true worship and fruitfulness.

[Activities:  Think of ways to make it possible & easy for the outcasts and poor and spiritually abused/overburdened to worship freely. Anything to do with figs and fig trees; Remember that God is not done with Israel (analogous to the cursed Fig Tree), according to Romans 11. Pray for the peace of Jerusalem and the Lord’s Prayer. Stay with friends.]

Tuesday – 11th: Jesus Occupies the Temple and Refutes the Pharisees / Teaches Prophecy.

Application: Allow the Master to occupy your heart with His Living Truth.

[Activities:  Learn Jesus’ teachings that combat the Pharisees. Give to the needy; Give yourself to God; Give back to governments what they create.  Reflect on the cursed fig tree and being full of faith. Reflect on not perverting the Good News by Religious Law, disbelief and Traditions of Men. Consider the prophetic future and God’s plans for humanity; be ready & hopeful. Stay with friends.]

Wednesday – 12th: Jesus observes Feast of Unleavened Bread/Passover and Institutes His Supper. He observed the last Passach (Passover) on evening of, due to Jerusalem pilgrimage allowance; He instituted Lord’s Supper/Lord’sTable/Communion as a commemoration of the New Covenant in His blood, seeing the next day He would be the prophetic Passover Lamb to take away the sins of the world.

Application: Remember that Jesus was betrayed by one of His own. Remember the all the Disciples forsook Him. Remember He did this all joyfully and with Thanks, and the Lord’s Supper  commemorates His death and resurrection “until He comes again.”

[Activities: Observe communion and foot washing. Sing Psalms, Hymns & spiritual songs in the open air. Stay with friends. Watch and pray well into the night, commit to complete devotion (i.e. love with heart, soul, strength and mind; Deuteronomy 6) and faithfulness to Jesus; resolve to keep the faith, no matter the cost.]

Thursday – 13th: Jesus endures 6 trials, scourging and crucifixion. Passover lambs slain from 3-5pm.

Application: Recognize Jesus as The Lamb of God, who are away our sins.

[Activities: Remember Jesus’ 7 sayings (and their meaning) on the Cross. Read Isaiah 53 and the Gospel Crucifixion accounts and Psalms 22 & 103

  1. “Father, forgive them…”
  2. “Today…with me in paradise”
  3. “Woman, behold thy son…” [darkness: noon – 3 pm] Honor mothers.
  4. “My God, My God…”
  5. “I thirst”
  6. “It is finished”
  7. “Into Thy hands…”

Also, an earthquake happened, and the graves opened and the Temple veil rent. Read Gospel accounts of this & the Book of Hebrews. Jesus taken off the cross at evening and hurried by sundown (start of Jewish new day).]

*1st Night in Tomb*

Friday – 14th: Jesus being in the grave, the Romans seal the tomb at Jew’s request. The women would have prepared anointing oils / spices on this day.

Application: There is a time to grieve; and even Jesus’ enemies fear His Resurrection.

[Activities: Learn about wax seals on paper and objects… and how they represent authority. Read Book of Revelation, wherein Jesus opens the seals. Learn about anointing oils and spices. Learn about / practice good bereavement ministry.]

*1st Day & 2nd Night in Tomb*

Saturday – 15th: Jesus still in the grave. Rest (Shabbat)

Application: Remember that God is at work in every circumstance, which means we can rest/trust in Him…even in the darkest/loneliest times. He has completed all the work, and He gives life and opportunity for sustenance.

[Activities: Take off from work but do remember to do good. Do trust-building group/family activities. Honor Fathers.]

*2nd Day & 3rd Night in Tomb*

Sunday – 16th: Resurrection before Dawn (very early in the morning the women came, He already was risen just as He predicted more than 3 times).

Application: Recognize the prophetic aspect of “Feast of First Fruits.”

*Arose on the 3rd Day*

[Activities: Worship & Declare the Risen Messiah/Savior; Read 1 Corinthians 15; 1 Thessalonians 4]

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OTHER RESOURCES: (On the Holy Week Timeline and Harmony of the Gospels)

Bible Gateway 

Got Questions

The Gospel Coalition

Bible.org

Christ In Prophecy: the Passion in Prophecy

7 Revealing Scriptures on the Childhood of Yeshua / Jesus, the Messiah

Not much is revealed in the Holy Scriptures about the childhood of the Messiah, Yeshua / Jesus of Nazareth. Yet, the written Word reveals more about the incarnate Word than is often recognized. What can we know about the  child, the boy, the young Son of God?

Luke 1:35He was THE Holy Child (Messiah) from Conception

Due to His being conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit, Yeshua / Jesus was and is unique from all other humans. He is called the Holy Child, meaning His Deity was not imparted at sometime in adulthood. Rather He always was and is the Son of God, the Word. When He was incarnated, the Word became flesh and dwelled among us. Did He know—as a child—that He is Deity? Yes! Mary and Joseph not only would have explained to Him what the angel said, …but continue to read below:

Luke 2:22-40His Infancy / Childhood was Bittersweet, Just Like His Entire Life.

Simeon told Mary at Dedication of Yeshua, “the sword will pierce your heart.” This foreboding prophecy followed great acclamations and stunning prophecy over the Holy Infant. The bitter and the sweet would mark Yeshua’s entire life.

He would lauded by Wise Men, yet born in an animal booth.

His contemporaries (babies of His age and home region) would be massacred by Herod. What a loneliness to contemplate. He had to flee to a foreign country as a refugee before returning to His home country after the threat was over. 

People accused His earthly mother of being a fornicator and Him of being born due to fornication. His adoptive father would have been open to the same ridicule.

His earthly mother evidently knew He had special powers. At Cana in Gallilea, she encourages Him to exert these miraculous powers, but He corrects her about the role she does not have in His ministry. Still, one wonders how she knew of His miraculous powers (under the Father’s direction). Had He been directed by Abba Father to do amazing things as a youth? We don’t know for sure, but Mary’s encouragements to do miracles would not have come from her imaginative whim.

At one time, when He returned to teach in His “home town” both His earthly mother and brothers said He was crazy (“out of His head,” or “beside himself”.) Many of his adoptive family later believed in Him, as witnessed by Mary at the Cross and James’ letter in the Greek New Testament.

Later on as an adult, He knew great popularity—as a Deliverer, prophet and teacher and hailed King—and He also knew vile accusation, sinister plotting, ultimate betrayal and abandonment to the Cross of Atonement.

Luke 2:52Messiah had to grow, both in wisdom and in body.

He entered the world in a nutural yet supernatural way, so that he could naturally but supernaturally rescue humanity from the sinfulness which enslaves it. Accordingly, He was not fully self-aware nor limitless from conception or birth. He laid aside His limitless knowledge and perfect understanding of all things. While He did have a limitless capacity to know and understand all things (unlike our fallen limitations), He had to grow or fill up His capacity over time. This was a process, an endurance of obedience—hearing and following the Father’s instructions. Just as His body was growing, so His knowledge and understanding of all things grew. Fascinatingly, as he increased in this way, the Father showed* Him increasingly more favor… and so did people. 

*[His approval with the Father was never compromised, nor able to be compromised. But with each stage of hearing and obeying, The Father encouraged / openly rewarded His faithful Son by showing Him favor.]

Isaiah 50God the Father Awakened His Son Every Morning

How did Messiah learn? Who taught Him?

v. 4 “The Lord God has given me the tongue of those who are taught, that I may know how to sustain with a word him who is weary. Morning by morning he awakens; he awakens my ear to hear as those who are taught…”

Yeshua knew He was the Son of God, even as a child, because God the Father awakened His Son every morning in order to teach Yeshua. His lessons were not to make Him haughty or superior but to make Him equipped to speak a sustaining word to those who are weary. His is a ministry of healing and restoration, of building up the broken. 

Isaiah continues this Messianic prophecy by describing—in 1st person (as if Jesus Himself is speaking)—the suffering and atonement of Yeshua the Messiah. We read of His endless victory over His enemies. Yeshua invites all to trust in Him.

By the way, He learned His lessons well evidently. At 12-13, He showed His advanced understanding of the Torah at the Temple… apparently something His Abba Father told Him to do (Luke 2:41-52). The scholars were astonished at His teachings.

Mark 6:3He Learned a Trade Too!

As a child, Yeshua would have learned the trade of Joseph, His surrogate earthly father-figure. He was a carpenter. He learned taking orders from Joseph and customers, self-discipline, investment & delayed reward, product deadlines, good business, hard and patient and skilled work, problem solving, supply & demand, conscientious craftsmanship, financial self-sustainability, reward of a job well done, etc. He earned His bread by the sweat of His brow and by calloused hands. He knew what is was to be tired by long work and the sweetness of rest from labor. He had underlings, colleagues and those His senior. Everything that any professional must do and endure, Jesus learned it by his trade. And all know that a master craftsman is made, not born.

Can you imagine buying a fine quality ladder or an ox yoke made by the Messiah? 

Matthew 2:11The Role of Gold, Frankincense & Myrrh 

Months after His birth, Magi descended from the teachings of Daniel, offered gifts to the infant Messiah. These show significance and would have provided an inheritance for Yeshua throughout his 30+ years of life.

Gold speaks of His being Deity and King.

Frankincense speaks of His being the High Priest and even a Self-sacrificial Offering, fully pleasing in the senses of His Abba, Father (Isaiah 53).

Myrrh speaks of His being a Suffering Servant, a Prophet who would see a bitter Prophet’s death. [Yet He did not remain so.]

Yeshua was not poor. He had enough money to do / have what he needed.

Hebrews 5:8-10 — Everything He Endured (Especially as a Child) was to Make Him a Perfect High Priest

8 Although he was a son, he learned obedience through what he suffered. 9 And being made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him, 10 being designated by God a high priest after the order of Melchizedek.

Whence Christmas?

These days, Christians everywhere face persecution for their beliefs. One example is in the name “Christmas.” Non-believers, let alone overt pagans, do not like the name. For example, the U.K. just decided that it’s ok to call say Christmas, …for now. But others are enduring lawsuits over display of a “Christmas tree.” Nativity scenes are just as contested, if not moreso.

Within Christendom, Christmas is also controvercial, due to its inaccuracy concerning the actual birth of Jesus / Yeshua, and also because December 25th evidently has pagan roots.

A few weeks ago, Lamb’s Harbinger posted an article by Dr. David Reagan and Dr. James Ya’akov Hugg at Lamb & Lion Ministries. The article asks the question, “When was Jesus Born?” It most precisely uses data from the Bible record as well as historical data to arrive at an accurate date of Feast of Tabernacles (late September / early October)… in the years B.C. 5-4. [The Jewish calendar runs through 2 years, similar to the way a modern school calendar spans 2 years. See timeline below, all credit due Dr. James Ya’akov Hugg]

chart_jcbirth.jpg

Now, researchers and Christian apologists such as Lenny Esposito and Sean McDowell have argued for Christmas (observed December 25th) as having truly Christian origins. The articles are found linked below:

Mr. Esposito goes to great lengths, exhuming ancient records of the early church and 3rd Century Rome—which precede the time of Constantine—in order to prove that Christmas is not based off of Pagan religious festivals such as Saturnalia, Ophelia, Winter Solstice & Sigillaria. Mr. Esposito’s research features a pièce de résistance. He shows that the Roman way of calculating months places these feasts from December 17th – 23rd (3-7 days). From that, he asserts no early Christians could have been copying a pagan holiday, when first celebrating what we now call Christmas. Amid these arguments, Mr. Esposito also inserts that Dies Natalis Solis Invictus—a Roman celebration of Sun worship (at the Winter Solstice, “birth of the new sun”)—began to be celebrated on December 25th, 354 A.D. From that, Mr. Esposito gathers,

the charge of Christians chose December 25 in order to “Christianize” or even just appease a pagan populous is weak at best.

One is tempted to see it Lenny Esposito’s way. His argumentation is fairly persuasive. However, there are 2 major flaws with his reasoning.

  1. Mr. Esposito completely omits any mention of the biblical data presented by scholars such as Dr. Hugg and Dr. Reagan. He instead relies almost solely on tradition, going so far as to cite teachings from Augustine (who admits he quotes tradition) that mystically align Jesus’ conception and birth (“Christmas”) to his death and resurrection (“Easter”)… on a Roman [equinox and solstice] calendar. Even ancient tradition is still tradition. As biblicists, we place Scriptural data above tradition, even from the 3rd Century A.D.
  2. Mr. Esposito fails to account for variances in the Julian and Gregorian calendars, and also, astronomical variances, such as shift in earth’s axes and the adjustment of Solstices.

For the first error, Dr. Reagan and Dr. Hugg precisely and accurately prove the biblical data is accurate for reaching an appropriate date.

For the second error, I offer the following. Calculating Winter Solstice to the time of 1 A.D. – 48 A.D., [as far back as calculators generally tabulate] reveals December 22nd and 23rd as  the dates between which Winter Solstice oscillated at the time of Jesus’ life and the first 15-20 years of the early Church. Since Mr. Esposito concedes that Saturnalia and Sigillaria center around this Solstice and last a total of 3-7 days, one can see December 25th falls directly at the Mid-point of the pagan festival set. If we forward those calculations to the time of the 3rd Century A.D., we arrive at December 21st and 22nd as the placement of Winter Solstice… still plenty of time for December 25th to fall within the 3-7 day set of pagan festivals.

Taking this more nearly accurate astronomical data into account, it is easy to say that December 25th was accepted by 3rd Century, pre-Constantine, “paganized” Christianity as a date that would consistently fall within the pagan winter festivals of Rome. Mr. Esposito takes the view that Christianity always was prevailing in Roman society. That is simply not historically honest. The first 10 emperors of the Church’s existence persecuted them repeatedly. Amid those persecutions were attempts to pollute pure Christianity. The Apostles attest to these kinds of onslaughts in their letters.

Genuine Christians have never attempted to “Christianize” anything pagan, according to the biblical command found in 1 Corinthians 6:16-18. However, pagans have always tried to “paganize” Christianity. While Lenny Esposito correctly states “the charge [that] Christians chose December 25 in order to “Christianize” or even just appease a pagan populous is weak at best,” he also needs to consider another possibility. From 30’s A.D. to 354 A.D., Rome took advantage of 320+ years worth of time to persecute, distort and pollute genuine Christianity. Given that view, is it not possible that Romanization and paganizing led to a divergent Christendom? That false Church began its compromise by complying with Saturnalia and Sigillaria in early centuries… and eventually (by 354 A.D.) embraced the pagan Dies Natalis Solis Invictus date of December 25 as the commemoration of the birth of Christ.

Thus saith the Lord, Learn not the way of the heathen, and be not dismayed at the signs of heaven; for the heathen are dismayed at them.

For the customs of the people are vain: for one cutteth a tree out of the forest, the work of the hands of the workman, with the axe.

They deck it with silver and with gold; they fasten it with nails and with hammers, that it move not.

Jeremiah 10:2-4 (KJV)

All this being said, I am careful not to judge the motives of current-day believers who celebrate the incarnation of Yeshua / Jesus on December 25th. As a very good friend and wise brother says,

I think it would be good for us, as a church, to move away from using the word “Christmas” to describe the day in which we celebrate the birth of Jesus. Much like using the word “Easter” has become synonymous with bunnies distributing eggs, Christmas has become synonymous with obsessive self-centered commercialism that has nothing to do with celebrating the birth of Jesus…. 

Paul said “Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the Sabbath days” (Colossians 2:16)….

There are certainly some parallels that could be drawn regarding an ancient pagan rituals that include similar things we see in what has become traditional Christmas customs. Does that mean that the redeemed must abandon any and all practices that some pagan group decides that they want to include in their rituals? Certainly not. When researching several years ago, I could not find any pagan group that claimed December 25th as a day to worship their false gods/idols or conduct satanic rituals. It doesn’t mean that it didn’t happen in the past, I think that it most certainly did. I am just stating that I couldn’t find any contemporary pagan groups claiming the day….

It is important to note that all of the Earth and all things on & in the Earth were created by God. While God created all things… Satan created nothing. The evil one is an imposter, thief, a liar & deceiver, and while wickedly inventive and resourceful; the devil is not a creator. Satan, while originally cognizant of the truth of God, has promulgated the body of lies he spins to humankind for so long that I would not be surprised if he hasn’t somehow convinced himself that the lies are truth. Why else would he continue to rage against God if he believed he was truly doomed? We know that it is simply Satan’s nature to lie about God’s truth and elevate his own prominence and power while promoting his rebellious agenda.   

My point is this; if pagans claim a day of the year to hold celebrations, has God somehow lost the day or is no longer in control of the day? Is the day no longer HIS? Certainly not. My guess is that most Christians would say that they celebrate Christ’s incarnation on and or around what has become known as the Christmas holiday season. 

Just because several centuries ago some pagans used a day in December for their worship of idols and false gods, it does not mean that Christians cannot celebrate the birth of our Lord on whatever day(s) they choose. There is nothing inherently sacred or evil about any particular day. It’s what is in an individual’s heart that defiles him or her.

The Apostle Paul—in 1 Corinthians 8—clarifies that there is nothing evil in meat itself, but placed the prohibition on eating such meat which came from the pagan temple only IF it offended a weaker brother. He said they should abstain in order not to offend or put a stumbling block before a young Christian or the Jews who thought is was wrong. The meat itself was not tainted because it came from pagan temple. That is a substantial lesson to be grasped. 

The principle God is teaching is clear. A specific day of the year is not sinful. There is nothing evil about the 25th day of December. If true believers want to honor and worship the Lord on Dec. 25 and remember His birth there is no scripture that prohibits it. True Christian believers are not involved in sinful behavior… on December 25 or any other day of celebration. 

When born-again, Blood-washed believers celebrate Dec. 25, they are celebrating the birth of our Lord Jesus (even though you and I both know that He was born around late September or early October)! 

We see Sha’ul (Paul) writes that the mature balance in such matters is to “become all things to all men that by all means [we] might save some” (1 Corinthians 9:19-23). We should be ready to change custom, cultural habits, societal status, and dietary restrictions for the Good News’ sake, so long as these do not lead us to worship in pagan ways and thought, or join with them in their worship (2 Cor. 6:14). 

In conclusion, this is a time when Christians are persecuted everywhere. Christmas is so closely associated with celebrating Yeshua / Jesus as the incarnate Messiah that whole nations and the international community are trying to decide if it’s ok to say “Christmas.” Since this is a matter of being salt and light—a chance to preach Jesus; and since no pagans  (besides the apostate Roman Catholic Church) claim Christmas, I will not abandon celebrating Christmas. But, if a believing brother or sister think celebrating Christmas is wrong for them, then I will do everything in my power to show deference by not celebrating in their presence or forcing them to celebrate.

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OTHER RESOURCES:

Who’s the Weak One?

Conservative Americana vs. Biblical Christian Culture 

“Only Begotten:” Taxonomy & the Genetics of the Messiah

Monotheists, who do not believe in the Trinity, staunchly reject the tenet that Yeshua / Jesus is the “Son of God.” To such monotheists, the very notion that God would procreate is absurd.

What is this? God has a son?

On the other hand, trinitarian monotheists see biblical data, which support their belief that Yeshua / Jesus not only is the “Son of God” by personal verbal claim but also by unique birth.

A great focal point of these Trinitarians (of which I am included) is John 1:18, translated by the ‘old timey’ translations as:

18 No man hath seen God at any time, the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him.

(KJV, underscore mine for emphasis)

Other modern translations yield this passage of Greek language as follows:

  • “One and Only Son” – NIV, HCSB, Berean Study Bible
  • “Unique One” – NLT
  • “the Only God” – ESV
  • “the only begotten God” – NASB

As one can witness, the passage presents a deal of difference for translators, not because the Greek language is ambiguous but because theological implications arise, depending on one’s approach to translation. ESV and NASB translators consider it necessary—due to the theological implications of the phrase—to help the text communicate its meaning by adding “God.” Others like HCSB, NIV and NLT stick more closely to the original, reflecting ‘Son.’ But, in an effort to honor the older translations (i.e. KJV), NASB maintains the translation “only begotten,” which it places in tandem with ‘God.’

So, is it proper to translate the passage as “only begotten?” And if so, why? To what end? In his article, Μονογενής = ‘only begotten’? Dr. Daniel B. Wallace recently visited the subject and analyzed the pertinent data in response to Charles Lee Iron’s assertion that translators should return to “only begotten.” The article leads a reader to lean away from “only begotten” in favor of other alternatives.

I largely agree with Dr. Wallace, but I also see room for Iron’s view. “One of a kind,” when the compound mono/GENES is used, deals with the taxonomy of Yeshua (Jesus), His classification upon incarnation (i.e. domain–>kingdom–>phylum–>class–>order–>family–>genus–>species).

Creation scientists use the word baramin to refer to created kinds (Hebrew: bara = created, min = kind). Because none of the original ancestors survive today, creationists have been trying to figure out what descendants belong to each baramin in their varied forms. Baramin is commonly believed to be at the level of family and possibly order for some plants/animals (according to the common classification scheme of kingdom, phylum, class, order, family, genus, species). On rare occasions, a kind may be equivalent to the genus or species levels.

(Answers in Genesis: https://answersingenesis.org/creation-science/baraminology/what-are-kinds-in-genesis/  retrieved Nov. 24, 2016)

In writing monogenés, the Apostle John is telling us that, due to virgin conception by the Holy Spirit, Yeshua Nazaret is a completely different and unique kind of human creature, the only generation of His kind. This interpretation sustained by textual data (context as well as lexical value & and usages), both inside the holy Writ and in contemporaneous ‘secular’ texts. It also satisfies both Iron’s and Wallace’s findings and allows for (but limits) the logical ramifications of both sets of findings.

What are the theological ramifications of the interpretation? First and foremost, monogenés deals with Christology as it elucidates Yeshua / Jesus’ genome. He is within the human genus due to Mary’s egg & virgin womb, but He is of an entirely unique genetic platform, due to the Holy Spirit’s fertilization. He is the only direct God / Human hybrid, completely similar to yet unique from the rest of fallen humanity.

Trinitarian Creationists would assert that whereas God breathed life directly into the genus of mankind in the beginning, and whereas humanity fell from that state (corrupting our race, even to our genetic code); in contrast, Yeshua’s human genome and human nature are directly and biologically “of God” or “from/of the Father,” …meaning He is  necessarily the same as God, the Father, in His incarnate state. Jesus is—in nature—the same as the Father. No human alive other than Jesus can claim these features. In other words, the Second Person of the Eternal Trinity (i.e. the Word) was made to become flesh and fully dwell among us (John 1:14), as Humanity 2.0—Yeshua Nazaret. He is indeed begotten by means of Holy Spirit conception, but that fact does not diminish His pre-existence from all eternity. As the Apostle John writes:

John testified about Him and cried out, saying, “This was He of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me has a higher rank than I, for He existed before me.’” 

(John 1:15 NASB)

It is therefore not incorrect to translate monogenés as “only begotten.” By doing so, one refers to Yeshua / Jesus’ miraculous conception. He was indeed and undeniably biologically produced. But, it is also correct to translate monogenés as “Unique One” or “One and Only Son [of God],” as it specially alludes to the fact that Yeshua is the only one of his genomic kind, which according to Isaiah, can be propagated and recognized by the Father:

…He will see His offspring… (Isaiah 53:10 NASB)

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. (2 Corinthians 5:17 ESV)

Secondly and lastly, the interpretation holds tremendous theological ramifications that pertain to soteriology. In verses 12 and 13 of John 1, the text reads:

12 But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: 13 Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. (KJV)

From these two verses, one gathers that anyone who receives Jesus as the uniquely begotten Son of God, believing on His Name (i.e. referent to his title as Yeshua ha’Mashiach / Jesus the Messiah), will in turn be granted authority (adoptive right) to be titled ‘sons of God’ …after the genus of Jesus, and leaving off the genus of the fallen Adamic race. Yet, more than that, the Apostle writes these are also themselves born “of God,” if in that state of belief. The conferred birth reveals a changed nature (Jesus’) which comes upon those who are, according to Jesus Himself, ‘born again’ of the Spirit (John 3:3-8). Is it safe to say that God rescues and redeems believers down to the DNA level? Absolutely! Those who believe will receive the genetics of the Messiah,

23 Being born again, not of corruptible seed (lit. sperma), but of incorruptible, by the Word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever. (1 Peter 1:23 KJV)

So then, one may conclude that one who receives Yeshua / Jesus of Nazareth by believing he is the uniquely begotten Son of God receives both an exchange of nature (essence) and an exchange of genus (physicality), both of which can only be fully realized hereafter,

Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we will be. We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is. (1 John 3:2 NASB)

He will transform the body of our humble condition into the likeness of His glorious body, by the power that enables Him to subject everything to Himself. (Philippians 3:21 HCSB)

“Just so, come Lord Jesus!” (Revelation 22:20)

When was Jesus Born? | Lamb & Lion Ministries

Original Article By Dr. David R. Reagan

The Nativity

According to Luke 1:24-26, Mary conceived Jesus in the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy with John the Baptist. This means that Jesus was born 15 months after the angel Gabriel appeared to Elizabeth’s husband, Zacharias, and informed him that his wife would bear a child.

According to Luke 1:5, Zacharias was a priest of the division of Abijah. Luke 1:8 says that Gabriel appeared to Zacharias while he was serving as a priest in the Temple.

We know from the Talmud and other sources that the division of Abijah served as priests during the second half of the fourth month of the Jewish religious calendar — which would have put it in late June (the Jewish religious calendar begins in March with Passover).

Fifteen months later would place the birth of Jesus in the seventh month of the Jewish calendar. That would be in the fall of the year, in either late September or early October. His conception, not His birth, would have occurred in December of the previous year.

The seventh month of the Jewish calendar is the month of the Feast of Tabernacles. John 1:14, speaking of Jesus as the Word, says: “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth.” The word “dwelt” that is used here is the Greek word “skenoo” which literally means “to tabernacle”!

So, when God came to earth to tabernacle among Men it appears that He timed His arrival in the Bethlehem manger to coincide with the Feast of Tabernacles. That was only appropriate, for the Feast of Tabernacles is the most joyous of all the Jewish feasts. It is, in fact, their feast of thanksgiving.

The total meaning of that feast will not be fulfilled until the Lord returns again to tabernacle among Men for a thousand years while He reigns over the earth from Mt. Zion in Jerusalem. Isn’t the Word of God marvelous?


It’s About Time:

When was Jesus Born?

By Dr. James Ya’akov Hugg

Editor’s Note: James W. Hugg, PhD, has been a disciple of the Messiah since 1971 and has been a member of the Lamb and Lion Board of Trustees since 1982. James has been active in leading worship and teaching youth and adult Bible classes. He has been involved since 1989 in Messianic Judaism, working with Jews for Jesus in street evangelism, and serving as cantor in several Messianic Jewish congregations. James holds dual citizenship in the USA and Israel (where he is called Ya’akov), and dual membership in Northway Fellowship Church, Clifton Park, NY, and Seed of Abraham Messianic Jewish Congregation in Albany, NY. Dr. Hugg is a senior research physicist at the General Electric Global Research Center in Niskayuna, NY, where he designs molecular imaging scanners, including SPECT, PET, and MRI. Dr. Hugg earned his doctorate in nuclear physics from Stanford University. He is married, and he and his wife, Shoshanna, have two children.

I am a research physicist who escaped the slavery of devotion to the atheist religion of secular humanism and the evolutionary worldview. I have investigated a number of biblical topics related in some way to better understanding “time” and I want to share some of my faith-building findings with you.

God created time “In the beginning…” and placed humans into this temporal world to separate the sheep from the goats in preparation for the eternal world where we sheep will live in His presence. So the title of my article “It’s about Time” has a double meaning: I want to write about topics related to questions of time, and the expression “it’s about time” reminds us that our Lord and Savior will soon return to conclude this phase of world history and to establish His Millennial Kingdom on earth.

The Christmas Tradition

We celebrate the birth of Messiah (Christ) on Christmas (from Old English, meaning “coming of Christ”), the 25th day of December. This date was first observed in 336 AD, some 24 years after the Roman emperor Constantine established Christianity as the state religion. Apparently, Pope Julius I chose to replace the pagan winter solstice feast in honor of Mithra, the “Unconquered Sun,” that had been officially recognized by the emperor Aurelian in 274 AD. From Rome, the new feast celebrating the birthday of the “Sun of Righteousness” (Malachi 4:2) spread to all other churches (except the Armenian church) over the following century.

As many Christians are aware, the modern Christmas celebration combines many strands of tradition including the ancient Roman pagan festival of Saturnalia (merrymaking, exchange of presents), the old Germanic midwinter customs (Yule log, decorating evergreen trees), the tradition of Francis of Assisi (displaying the crib, or crèche of Jesus), the medieval feast of St. Nicholas (Sinterklaas in Dutch, hence “Santa Claus”), and the British sending of greeting cards (1840s). The Puritan pilgrims did not celebrate Christmas because of its many unbiblical associations. The holiday was officially recognized in the United States in 1870.

The Dutch Sinterklaas (Saint Nicholas) is the origin of the North American Santa Claus. According to legend, Sinterklaas makes his rounds on December 5, Saint Nicholas’s Eve. Dressed in a catholic bishop’s robes, Sinterklaas rides through the streets distributing sweets to the children. According to some versions of the popular legend, another figure accompanies him named Black Peter, who carries a whip with which to chastise naughty children.

The Historical Evidence

I think it is fair and not overly critical for us to admit that the date chosen by Constantine and Pope Julius I to celebrate the birth of Jesus was not based on good historical or biblical evidence. Let’s look for that overlooked evidence in the historical account of the birth of Jesus recorded by Dr. Luke.

Chart Jesus' Birth

1) Our first clue is found in Luke 1:5. Here is how it reads in the Complete Jewish Bible:1 “In the days of Herod, King of Y’hudah (Judea), there was a cohen (Jewish priest) named Z’kharyah (Zacharias) who belonged to the Aviyah (Abijah) division.” The service of the Abijah division of priests was scheduled for the last two weeks of the fourth month of the Jewish religious calendar (15-29 Tammuz, June-July), according to the Talmud (rabbinic commentaries) and Qumran sources.2

Dr. Luke tells us that Zacharias was serving in the 2nd Jewish Temple in Jerusalem when he was chosen to enter the holy place to burn incense outside the Holy of Holies. The archangel Gavri’el (Gabriel) appeared to Zacharias and revealed that he and his barren wife Elisheva (Elizabeth) would have a son named Yochanan (John) who would precede and prepare the way for the Messiah. He returned home after his two-week service, then his wife conceived, as Gabriel had prophesied. The earliest date for John’s conception would be the 1st of Av (July).

2) In the 6th month (Kislev-Tevet, December) of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, Gabriel visited Miryam (Mary) in Nazareth to announce: “You will become pregnant, you will give birth to a son, and you are to name Him Yeshua (Jesus, meaning “God’s salvation”)” (Luke 1:31, CJB). Gabriel also revealed to Mary that her relative, Elizabeth, was six-months pregnant. Elizabeth’s sixth month included the celebration of the Jewish feast of Hanukkah, the “Feast of the Dedication” (John 10:22) connected with the rededication of the temple after the Maccabean revolt. Without delay, Mary hurried to visit Elizabeth (Luke 1:39), about a week’s journey on foot from Nazareth.

3) When Mary arrived, Elizabeth greeted her: “How blessed is the child in your womb!” (Luke 1:42). From this, we conclude that there was no delay between the time of Gabriel’s announcement to Mary and the conception of Jesus by the Holy Spirit. We can infer that the same was true for the conception of John. At most, only a few days passed between the announcement and the fulfillment of each of these two angelic prophecies.

4) Mary stayed with Elizabeth for three months, until John was born (probably during Pesach or Passover, 15-21 Nisan, April), circumcised on the eighth day, and given his prophesied name (Luke 1:57-80). One of the long-held Jewish traditions is that the prophet Elijah will return at Passover (Malachi 3:14:5-6). Gabriel had prophesied to Zacharias that John would come “in the spirit and power of Eliyahu (Elijah)” (Luke 1:17, CJB).

5) Mary returned to Nazareth, where an angel (probably Gabriel again) reassured her betrothed husband: “Yosef (Joseph), son of David, do not be afraid to take Miryam (Mary) home with you as your wife; for what has been conceived in her is from the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit). She will give birth to a son, and you are to name Him Yeshua [which means ADONAI (God) saves], because He will save His people from their sins” (Matthew 1:20-21, CJB). Emperor Augustus ordered a census that required Joseph to take Mary to Beit-Lechem (Bethlehem) where she gave birth to Jesus (probably during Sukkot, the Feast of Tabernacles, 15-21 Tishrei, September-October). “The Word [Jesus] became a human being and lived [tabernacled] with us” (John 1:14).

6) The night of the birth of Jesus, an angel (probably the archangel Michael) appeared with the angelic armies of heaven to announce the birth to the shepherds of Bethlehem (Luke 2:1-15). Perhaps there is a long forgotten connection with Michaelmas (“coming of Michael”) Day, the feast of Michael the Archangel, which is celebrated in some traditions (particularly in the United Kingdom) on the 29th of September. Michael is the leader of the angelic armies who hurls Lucifer (Satan, the Devil) down from heaven because of his treachery (Revelation 12:7).

7) Joseph and Mary presented Jesus at the Jewish Temple on the 40th day after His birth (probably late Cheshvan, early November) for the ceremony of Pidyon HaBen (redemption of the firstborn son). There He received the blessings of Shim’on (Simeon) and Hannah, two righteous Jewish prophets (Luke 2:22-38).

8) Magi from the east came (probably in Winter) to inquire of King Herod about the birth of Jesus. The head cohanim (Jewish priests) admitted that Messiah must be born in Bethlehem, so the Magi went there (three miles from Jerusalem) and found Joseph, Mary, and Jesus living in a house. They worshipped Him and gave Him gifts, then obeyed an angelic warning (probably Gabriel) to avoid revealing to King Herod the location of Jesus (Matthew 2:1-12).

9) After the Magi departed Bethlehem, an angel (probably Gabriel) warned Joseph to take Mary and Jesus to Egypt to escape King Herod’s attempt to murder Jesus. They left that same night (Matthew 2:13-15). King Herod ordered the slaughter of all boys in Bethlehem up to age two, but Joseph escaped with his family to Egypt (possibly the Sinai peninsula), where they remained until Herod’s death (Matthew 2:16-18). I assume that Herod included a margin of error in calculating how old the newborn Messiah, King of the Jews, would be when he ordered the murder of all Bethlehem boys less than two years old.

10) After King Herod’s death, an angel (probably Gabriel) appeared to Joseph to tell him it was safe to return home to Nazareth (Matthew 2:19-23). The Jewish historian Flavius Josephus recorded the death of the evil King Herod in the spring of 4 BC.3 I assume that Herod did not live long after the slaughter of the innocent boys of Bethlehem, and thus that the family of Jesus did not stay long in Egypt. Therefore, we can place the birth of Jesus on a fairly well constrained timeline.

Determining the Date

If Jesus was born during Sukkot, the Feast of Tabernacles, (which began the 29th of September) in 5 BC, as we deduced from the evidence above, then His conception was probably during Hanukkah, possibly as late as the 25th of December in 6 BC. It is also possible that the Magi visited Bethlehem around the 25th of December in 5 BC, when Jesus would have been almost 3 months old.

‘Anno Domini’ (AD) dating was adopted in Western Europe during the 8th century. In 525 AD when the monk Dionysius Exiguus (Dennis the Little, meaning humble) calculated the year of Jesus’ birth, he missed by about 3 years. We now have evidence that Herod died in 4 BC, probably less than a year after Jesus was born.

The Significance

Does it really matter when Jesus was born or when we celebrate Christmas? In some ways, no, it doesn’t matter — after all, if it was critically important to know precisely when Jesus was born, God would have told us He was born on a particular day and month and year. We have the freedom as believers to celebrate, or not to celebrate, the birth of our Lord and Savior on any day of our choosing (Romans 14:1-12).

Christmas is not a commandment. It is far more important HOW we celebrate (“remember the reason for the season”) than WHEN. Let us not give or receive condemnation for observing the 25th of December, rather let us celebrate that God’s Son became fully human and lived a perfect life so that He could become our perfect sacrifice and conquer sin and death in our place.

But, in another way, it IS important to consider the evidence God gave us and to place it in a proper Jewish context so that we can better understand the foundation of our faith. For example, the information I have presented in this article makes it clear that an important prophecy about the Messiah was fulfilled in the life of Jesus. That prophecy is found in Genesis 49:10 — “The scepter will not pass from Judah, nor the ruler’s staff from between his legs, until Shiloh [Messiah] comes, and it is He whom the peoples will obey.”Second Temple rabbis understood this as a Messianic prophecy.

In about 7 AD, the Romans abolished the power of the Jewish Sanhedrin Council in Judah to pronounce the death penalty.4 Furthermore, Herod was the first king of Israel who was not a descendent of the tribe of Judah. However, Jesus had already been born in 5 BC, before the scepter and staff (power) departed from Judah.

There is a deeper meaning and real significance to the conclusion that Jesus was probably born during the Feast of Tabernacles, thus bringing partial fulfillment to the prophetic type of that important feast established by God. Tabernacles (booths) are temporary, insecure dwellings and emphasize our reliance on God’s grace. So also the temporary human body in which the Son of God dwelled among us demonstrated what total reliance on God can accomplish.

The ultimate fulfillment of the prophetic significance of the Feast of Tabernacles will occur when Jesus returns in glory and majesty to tabernacle among us as King of kings and Lord of lords. Maranatha!