Christmas

     How many wise men were there? Was Jesus Christ really born on December 25th? If not, does the Bible tell us when He was born? What really happened on the Day we call Christmas? Find out the Biblical answers to these questions and many more, including should we as Christians observe this glorious day, and if so, in what manner.

WARNING: Rightly Dividing the Word of God can be hazardous to your traditional beliefs.

CHRISTMAS

There is a popular Christmas song that goes, "It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year".  And you know what? For many people it truly is. It is the only time of the year when many families get to see their loved ones who live far away, and who make the long journey home for Christmas, singing "I'll be Home for Christmas" or "Jingle Bells", all the way. It is also the one time of the year when the subject of Christ is brought to the forefront of many conversations, thus making it the best "seed planting" time of the year!

One other thing is for sure, too! Should there be any doubt by the ACLU and other anti-God, anti-Christian groups, as to whether or not this is a Christian nation, you tell them (well, you know what you can tell them) to look out across this nation on December 24th and 25th! For that which is seen clearly DECLARES this nation as Christian, even though these wicked groups are successfully coercing, by threat of expensive lawsuits, our businesses and schools to have "holiday" parties and "holiday" concerts and leave out the name of Christmas.

Anyway, perhaps we should begin our study by asking the obvious question, "What is Christmas?" I was always told it was the time of year when we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, the Savior of the world. Of course when I was a toddler I was told there was another, perhaps an even more wonderful person for kids, who flew around the world in a sleigh pulled by 8 reindeer and brought gifts and presents and placed them under the tree. His name was Santa Claus, and I sure loved him. Who wouldn't, especially when he demonstrated he could deliver the goods, year after year. Many of you may have gone through and remember well, a traumatic experience when you learned from a friend or neighbor kid that there really wasn't a Santa Claus. I know I do.

But people are prone to follow traditions, and parents don't intentionally try to deceive or hurt their children by telling them something they know isn't true.  After all, they are just children and live in a world of fantasy anyway, they rationalize. You might wonder though, after telling them about Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, and the Tooth Fairy, all of whom turn out to be frauds, when they later say they're not quite sure about the Jesus Christ thing.

Now, just as people are prone to follow the traditions of family and society at large, so are churches prone to teach that which is their tradition. Let's say that most churches also don't intentionally try to deceive or hurt their "children". But after telling them about apples and snakes in the garden, and fly-away rapture theories, and that speaking unintelligibly is evidence of God's Holy Spirit, all of which turn out to be frauds, and then after bringing easter eggs and quick-like-little-bunnies into the house of God, and then never quite getting around to teaching the Word of God, you must wonder why we as a nation are almost totally Biblically illiterate. In fact, this series of studies, which will be documented by scripture, will come as a surprise to many Christians who have gone to church all their lives.

This Christmas season try something new. Begin to take some surveys and ask some of the following questions when the subject comes up:  (You might want to try answering them for yourself first.)

(1) How many wise men were there?

(2) Were the wise men kings or priests?

(3) On what day of the year was Jesus born?

(4) What gifts did the wise men present to Jesus at the manger?

(5) What nationality was Jesus?

(6) Zacharias, the father of John the Baptist, was in the course of Abia. What is the course of Abia?

(7) What is the perfect gestation period of a human baby? (Just thought I'd throw that in, because we'll discover the answer in a few studies hence.)

So, how do you think you did?  Got them all right? We will answer all of the above questions in detail during these next few studies, along with many others including, "Should we as Christians celebrate Christmas?" That answer might surprise you, because something wonderful happened on that day, though it was NOT the birth of Jesus Christ.

Finally, as we now begin our study, also ask yourself this question, "Do you think that there are "filler words" in the Bible, i.e. things that are written just to take up space? Or do you think that our Father has a reason and a purpose for all that is recorded in the Word of God?  I mean, after all, have you seen those genealogies, etc., in the Book of Chronicles? Yet it is the very Book of Chronicles that contains the information necessary to know precisely when Jesus was born.

That's right! The Bible tells us when Jesus Christ was born! Oh, how exciting! Let's begin our study.

Matthew 1:1
The book of the generation of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham.
The word "generation" means genealogy or pedigree, and the Bible takes great care in documenting the genealogy from Adam to the Messiah, beginning even in chapter 5 of Genesis. For as it is written, it would be through the "seed of the woman", even through Adam and mother Eve that He would come. All through the Old Testament and even into the New, Satan attempted to destroy that "seed line". He failed, because he is a LOSER!

There are two genealogies of Christ recorded in the New Testament. The one given here in Matthew is the regal lineage through to Joseph, Jesus' stepfather, and declares His rightful place in the kingship line, even by adoption! The genealogy given in the 3rd chapter of Luke is Mary's lineage, through her father, Heli, as we will document when we get to that chapter.

We begin with the "Christmas Story" in Matthew 1:18.

Matthew 1:18
Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost.
However (Now), though Jesus is rightfully heir to the kingship line because of his father (stepfather) Joseph, Joseph was not His natural father. This is how it happened (on this wise)! Mary was engaged to Joseph, but before they even did the "horizontal cha cha" she was found to be pregnant!

This was "shocking news" to Joseph, who we will read in the next verse was a "just man". You see, the penalty for adultery, committed by a virgin who is engaged, is to be stoned to death. Good bye honey! We don't need your type in our society. Here is the law concerning this matter:

Deut. 22:23
If a damsel that is a virgin be betrothed unto an husband, and a man find her in the city, and lie with her;

[24] Then ye shall bring them both out unto the gate of that city, and ye shall stone them with stones that they die; the damsel, because she cried not, being in the city; and the man, because he hath humbled his neighbour's wife: so thou shalt put away evil from among you.

The words "she cried not" means this was consensual sex, i.e. she did it willingly! And we don't need the type of men who would engage in this type of Daytime Soap Opera affair, either!

Note: By the way, this law of stoning only pertains to a betrothed virgin who commits adultery. If you remember when the scribes and Pharisees brought the woman who was caught in the act of adultery to Jesus and quoted this law, that "she should be stoned", Jesus KNEW that they were in grave error quoting the law, for He KNEW that she was a "married" woman and that stoning did not apply to married women, only virgins! So He kneeled down in the dirt and wrote the "correct law" pertaining to a married woman, which actually required action on the part of the Priests. So now that the Pharisees KNEW she couldn't be stoned (or they would be BREAKING THE LAW of Moses themselves) Jesus stood up and said, "Let he who is WITHOUT SIN cast the first stone! They couldn't stone her, by law, but now instead of looking like "buffoons" (Biblical illiterates) to the crowd, they now looked like admitted SINNERS, a tough, embarrassing thing for self-righteous hypocrites to endure!

Anyway, as you can see, this was no small matter for Joseph to consider. He decided to give her a writ of divorcement instead (put her away privily)!

Mat. 1:19 Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing to make her a publick example, was minded to put her away privily.
But wait! Time for a little Divine intervention.
[20] But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost.

[21] And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins.

Jesus means "God's Savior" or "Yah-shua" in Hebrew.
[22] Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying,

[23] Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.

This is the prophet by whom it was spoken:
Isaiah 7:14
Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.
It was fulfilled in the Virgin Mary.
Matthew 1:24
Then Joseph being raised from sleep did as the angel of the Lord had bidden him, and took unto him his wife:
There was no doubt whatsoever in the mind of Joseph that this was a message from God, unlike Zacharias, the father of John the Baptist, who doubted the angel of the Lord. We will read of his adventure in our next study.
[25] And knew her not till she had brought forth her firstborn son: and he called his name JESUS.
Just don't think "staying away" from his beautiful young wife was a "piece of cake", i.e. easy! Good thing he had that visit from the angel to increase his faith. But he did it, and followed through as God had instructed him, and named the boy JESUS.

Read this next verse carefully.

Matthew 2:1
Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem,
Notice it does not say how many wise men there were, nor does it say that they were Gentiles, nor does it say that they were priests or kings, just magoi, i.e. wise men!

So just because you have internalized the song "We Three Kings of Orient are...", don't confuse song lyrics with scripture. Many people do.

But notice it DOES SAY that the wise came to Jerusalem, NOT Bethlehem! They were never at the manger, NEVER, only the shepherds from the field were at the manger.

So here they are, the men of wisdom (because they know the Word of God), and they are asking around as to where Jesus is. You see, they were too late for the manger and they might have thought his parents had come to Jerusalem from Bethlehem.

[2] Saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him.
Next we see that although they did not have the Internet yet, for Al Gore would not be born for another almost 2,000 years, the grapevine still proved its effectiveness among men (and women), because word got back to Herod the king pretty quickly. Then too, the wise men must have had some credibility for they were certainly taken seriously.
[3] When Herod the king had heard these things, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him.
We see that King Herod is in control and he intends to remain that way, whatever the cost may be to others! Satan will even get him to kill little babies and children. Nice guy!

OK, when no-nothing politicians have a problem, they call for those who are supposed to be in the know and DEMAND the information they want. In this case he summoned all the religious leaders of the people.

Matthew 2:4
And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he demanded of them where Christ should be born.
There is always an "or else" with a demand of this kind, from a liar and a murderer like Herod, but we are not told what it might have been. Fortunately, they were able to actually come up with the correct answer, for once.
[5] And they said unto him, In Bethlehem of Judaea: for thus it is written by the prophet,

[6] And thou Bethlehem, in the land of Juda, art not the least among the princes of Juda: for out of thee shall come a Governor, that shall rule my people Israel.

The word Beth-lehem means "house of bread". It is where the true Bread of Life chose to be born from above to dwell among men. How perfect the Word of God. And here is the prophet who wrote it, even Micah:
Micah 5:2
But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel...
So Herod the king now has the information he wants and calls the wise men. He probably invited them over to the Governor's Mansion for a luncheon to show them what a nice guy he is. Wicked people always try to buy friendship and respect, hoping to impress others. We'll see if works on "wise men", men of God.
Matthew 2:7
Then Herod, when he had privily called the wise men, enquired of them diligently what time the star appeared.
"So exactly when did you guys see the star appear?", asked Herod just before he took a bite of dessert, and acting as if he is genuinely interested "as they are"! And they did discuss the time they saw first saw it appear, not knowing that this creep would later use the information he had extracted to murder innocent babies and toddlers. However, he wasn't fooling these wise men with his phony compassion, though he thought he was.
[8] And he sent them to Bethlehem, and said, Go and search diligently for the young child; and when ye have found him, bring me word again, that I may come and worship him also.
It was not too difficult for these wise men to discern that it was obvious that this dude was not about to come and worship anyone! He was obviously a self-important "demander", know what I mean? Talk is cheap, especially by a ruthless politician!
Matthew 2:9
When they had heard the king, they departed; and, lo, the star, which they saw in the east, went before them, till it came and stood over where the young child was.
No matter, they had divine guidance anyway! And don't think they weren't happy as could be and filled with an indescribable feeling of joy and peace and security, for they "know" God is with them!
[10] When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy.
Just where do you think this star now is? Directly over the manger?

Sorry, if that's what you thought you've simply seen too many Nativity Scenes, and not nearly enough Scriptures. So now you are going to have to think about it until tomorrow, when we will learn where the star is, including "what" the star is over and in "what town" it is shining!

Don't miss it!



CHRISTMAS (Part 2)

Are you excited? Remember,right before we went to the break in our last episode of "The Guiding Star", we were just about to find out where that Star was going to lead the wise men? Well, today we find out, but first we need some background in the law of Moses to fully understand what is being said concerning where it will be found hovering. You see, if you don't understand the Old Testament, how in the world can you understand the New Testament? The answer: Not very well, if at all!

All right, let's go for it!

Though they haven't read it for themselves, most people are familiar with the portion of the law of Moses that requires all male babies of Israel to be circumcised on the 8th day, which Mary & Joseph carried out faithfully as recorded in Luke 2:21. So most people understand what took place in the following verse:

Luke 2:21
And when eight days were accomplished for the circumcising of the child, his name was called JESUS, which was so named of the angel before he was conceived in the womb.
At the same time, most people are NOT familiar with the purification portion of the law, which lasted for 7 days plus 33 days, or a total of 40 days. Let's take the time to read the law from Leviticus, for all three portions contained herein were recorded as having been accomplished by Mary and Joseph in Luke's account. Here it is:
Leviticus 12:2
Speak unto the children of Israel, saying, If a woman have conceived seed, and born a man child: then she shall be unclean seven days; according to the days of the separation for her infirmity shall she be unclean.
So for the first week, the 7 days following the birth of a MALE child, the woman is considered unclean. The day after then, on the 8th day, any son of Adam (who was formed on the 8th day) through Jacob (whose name was changed to Israel), was to be circumcised, according to the covenant made by God.
[3] And in the eighth day the flesh of his foreskin shall be circumcised.
Note: As the leading nation of the House of Israel, (not the House of Judah), we Americans still widely perform circumcisions on our male babies, though not generally according to the law, i.e. on the 8th day. It is an identifying sign of who we are. However, today circumcision is of the heart, both of His sons and His daughters.

Then for the next 33 days she must continue her purification and cannot go to the Temple, etc.

[4] And she shall then continue in the blood of her purifying three and thirty days; she shall touch no hallowed thing, nor come into the sanctuary, until the days of her purifying be fulfilled.
You know what this also means? No sex for at least 40 days, guys! OK, let's return to Luke and understand the next verse concerning Mary and Joseph.
Luke 2:22
And when the days of her purification according to the law of Moses were accomplished, they brought him to Jerusalem, to present him to the Lord;
Do you now understand that this is 41 days after the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem that Mary and Joseph went to Jerusalem and presented Jesus in the Temple? The reason they did that was according to sanctification law, which you can read yourself in Exodus 13:2 & Numbers 18:15,16.

Then guess where Mary and Joseph and Jesus went from there?  No, you don't have to guess, for it is written:

Luke 2:39
And when they had performed all things according to the law of the Lord, they returned into Galilee, to their own city Nazareth.
They performed all things according to the law, the 40 days of purification, the circumcision, and the presentation of the child to the Lord, and then they went to Nazareth, where they had a house! And they were there quite some time before the STAR came and stood over the HOUSE where the YOUNG CHILD was. Read it again:
Matthew 2:9
When they [the wise men] had heard the king, they departed; and, lo, the star, which they saw in the east, went before them, till it came and stood over where the young child was.
Jesus was probably close to 2 years old at this time (see documentation in verse 16).

So what did the wise and happy men do, however many of them there were? (I like that, "The Happy Men", my kind of people.) Answer:

Matthew 2:11
And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense, and myrrh.
Does this verse say they kneeled down to the Babe in swaddling clothes lying in a manger? Sorry, and this verse does not require a degree in theology to understand. For further documentation you can take a Strong's Concordance and look up the Greek words for "babe" and "young child". You'll find that they mean just that, "infant" and "toddler", but you'll be more positive in knowing, and be able to speak to others with more conviction and authority, because you'll know that you know.

Maybe another good question to ask in your Yuletide Survey this year is: "Have you ever heard of the Star of Nazareth? You know, the one that led the Happy Men from Jerusalem and stood over the house of Joseph and Mary in Nazareth?"

Yes, that'll turn some heads!

Or, how about this one, when you are looking at someone's Nativity Scene this Christmas season, pretend you are Clara and say: "Where's the House?"

Anyway, I'm beginning to have too much fun again, so let's get back to the wise men. Notice that they fell down and worshipped Him only, and not His mother, Mary. And they "presented", i.e. offered, meaning in a ceremonial or reverent manner, their gifts of gold, to the King of kings, and frankincense and myrrh to the Lord of lords. (More later on this.)

I suppose it is easy to assume that there were only three wise men because of the mention of the three gifts, but as we have noted, it nowhere specifies. However, we do know there was more than one.

Next, the Happy Men receive a warning from God that they should not return to Herod. (They probably saw a universal "No Herod" sign, which is a picture of Herod with a red circle around him and a diagonal red slash. Just kidding.) Anyway, they got the message and headed for home using an alternate route.

[12] And being warned of God in a dream that they should not return to Herod, they departed into their own country another way.
The Divine intervention continues and now Joseph is told to take his family and get out of town for awhile. The "death angel", leading Herod's troops, is on his way again.
Matthew 2:13
And when they were departed, behold, the angel of the Lord appeareth to Joseph in a dream, saying, Arise, and take the young child and his mother, and flee into Egypt, and be thou there until I bring thee word: for Herod will seek the young child to destroy him.

[14] When he arose, he took the young child and his mother by night, and departed into Egypt:

[15] And was there until the death of Herod: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Out of Egypt have I called my son.

This is quoted from Hosea 11:1.
Matthew 2:16
Then Herod, when he saw that he was mocked of the wise men, was exceeding wroth, and sent forth, and slew all the children that were in Bethlehem, and in all the coasts thereof, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had diligently enquired of the wise men.
The Greek word for "diligently" is akribos which is better translated "accurately" or "exactly".
[17] Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremy the prophet, saying,

[18] In Rama was there a voice heard, lamentation, and weeping, and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children, and would not be comforted, because they are not.

This is quoted from the Book of Jeremiah. Isn't it amazing how much of the Old Testament is quoted in the New Testament? And why not, for it is ALL the Word of God. You can teach Christ and Christ crucified very accurately and abundantly from the Old Testament if you are familiar with it. The apostles did!
Jeremiah 31:15
Thus saith the LORD; A voice was heard in Ramah, lamentation, and bitter weeping; Rahel weeping for her children refused to be comforted for her children, because they were not.
This is so sad, but Satan will stop at nothing to try to thwart the Plan of God. But we can find comfort in knowing that we will not have to put up with him and his children of disobedience much longer, for we already have the victory.

In our next study we are going to learn that Jesus was not just from the tribe of Judah, i.e. He was not solely a "Jew", purely of the tribe of Judah, as most people suppose, because His mother Mary was not a pure Judahite. It's really easy to document it, and we will, for it turns the bumper sticker "My Boss is a Jewish Carpenter" into a half-truth.

You never heard such a thing, you say?

Well, it seems to me that if the churches can't get something as simple as the birth of Christ right, each year having the children dress up at the annual Christmas re-enactment as wise men and shepherds, and all parading to the manger, following yonder star, then why would you be surprised that they know not much about the weightier matters of His Word?

The genealogy in Luke chapter three is a prime example. It is incredible how many ministers and preachers think that this genealogy is Joseph's genealogy, like the one in Matthew, because it begins with Joseph. Since we need to understand this genealogy as background for tomorrow's revelations, let's look at it now.

Luke 3:23
And Jesus himself began to be about thirty years of age, being (as was supposed) the son of Joseph, which was the son of Heli,

[24] Which was the son of Matthat, which was the son of Levi, which was the son of Melchi, which was the son of Janna, which was the son of Joseph,

Now notice the "as was supposed". This phrase means "as reckoned by law", like a step-son or a son-in-law, as we say today. Notice also that in the Luke genealogy there are no "begats" as in Matthew. According to Matthew 1:16 it was Jacob who begat, i.e. fathered, Joseph. So Jacob was Joseph's natural, biological father. Here it is:
Matthew 1:16
And Jacob begat Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus, who is called Christ.
But in Luke's genealogy, Joseph is called Heli's son, but it too is "as was supposed", not by begettal! In other words, this is real simple, Joseph was Heli's son-in-law, because Heli was his wife Mary's natural father! So, legally, by law, Joseph could be called Heli's son. (This is extremely important and if you still have trouble with it, I suggest you get a Companion Bible and study appendixes 99 and 179.)

The fact remains, therefore, that Mary's genealogy on her FATHER'S SIDE is given in Luke's account. And it shows that her father Heli was a pure blooded Jew (of Judah) if there ever was one. It is very important and significant and that's why our Father had it documented for us in His Word. You'll see why tomorrow.

But wait! What about her mother? It takes two to "tango", to make one flesh. Her father was of Judah, we now know that with certitude, but of what nationality was Mary's mother?

The answer begins tomorrow's study, along with the answer to, "What really happened on Christmas Day?" You're gonna love it!



CHRISTMAS (Part 3)

Do you really want to know the truth about Christmas, with certainty? Well, today you're in "Luck", or should I say "Luke". He wrote his gospel for that express purpose, i.e. that we "mightest know the certainty of those things" (vs. 4). Actually we should say we are in "Love", in God's love, for because He loves us He has given us His Word to declare all things unto His children who love Him and take the time to rightly divide the Word.

The majority of the world declares that Jesus was a Jew (of Judah), but that is only a half-truth. And the majority of the world declares that Jesus was born on December 25th, but that is completely in error, for we can easily determine His date of birth, and we will. You see, that wicked one has been able to swap some days and dates around and mix in a little paganism here and there and obscure the truth. But we aren't going to let him get away with it anymore.

Let's begin the "Christmas Story" in Luke.

Luke 1:1
Forasmuch as many have taken in hand to set forth in order a declaration of those things which are most surely believed among us,

[2] Even as they delivered them unto us, which from the beginning were eyewitnesses, and ministers of the word;

Luke, a well educated physician, had a special purpose in recording his gospel. It is because of verse 3 (his perfect understanding) for the benefit in verse 4 (our knowing with certainty).
[3] It seemed good to me also, having had perfect understanding of all things from the very first, to write unto thee in order, most excellent Theophilus,
Luke is writing to "Theo-philus", which was a common term meaning friend of God, like "beloved of God", meaning you and me if we love Him. And Luke makes it a point to tell us that He has a very accurate understanding, which again, is why he is writing, so that we might know with certainty and accuracy of "those things", which we have been instructed.
[4] That thou mightest know the certainty of those things, wherein thou hast been instructed.
Yes, and we can know whether or not the traditions we have been instructed in are true or not.
Luke 1:5
There was in the days of Herod, the king of Judaea, a certain priest named Zacharias, of the course of Abia: and his wife was of the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elisabeth.
This verse holds the major key to determining the birth date of Jesus Christ. Do you know what it is? Remember in the last study we posed the question, "If you don't understand the Old Testament, how are you to understand the New Testament?" Well, there is something of great importance in this verse and that is that Zacharias was a priest, a Levitical Priest, and he was performing the priestly duties assigned to the "Course of Abia". It is this course of Abia that will give us the key to the date of the conception and hence the birth of Jesus. Again, there is a reason we are given this information, and I want to add that it HAS BEEN HERE ALL ALONG, every Christmas season, year after year, right here in Luke 1:5. And who has questioned it and learned what it is? (Having said that, we are going to hold off studying about the significance of the "course of Abia" until we get to the 23rd verse.)

Now notice also in this 5th verse, that Zacharias' wife, Elizabeth, was of the daughters of Aaron. The Levitical Priest line came through Aaron, Moses' brother, and so Elizabeth was a Levite, i.e. from the tribe of Levi.

[6] And they were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless.
This is actually a second witness to the statement made in verse 5 that Elizabeth was of the daughters of Aaron, because to be compliant with the law, a Levite Priest could only marry a Levite woman, i.e. a "daughter of Aaron". And we just read that they both walked in the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless. So let there be no doubt about it: Elizabeth, the soon to be mother of John the Baptist, was a PURE BLOODED LEVITE. (That also means John the Baptist was not a Jew, but a pure Levite, too.)

So what's the big deal about that, you say?  It's HUGE! Do you remember in our last study that we documented conclusively that Mary's father was a pure blooded Judahite? And now we have learned that Elizabeth, the wife of Zacharias was a pure blooded Levite! Well, when we get to verse 36 we will discover that Elizabeth was Mary's COUSIN!

Now think! There is a reason we are given that "fact" that they were cousins. In order for Elizabeth to be a pure blooded Levite, both her mother and father had to be Levites, right? Right! Now, in order for Elizabeth and Mary to be cousins, it means that their mothers had to be sisters, which means they were both of the daughters of Aaron, i.e. both mothers were Levites.

Remember, we already KNOW that Mary's father was of Judah, and now we KNOW that Mary's mother was of Levi! So Mary was HALF of the tribe of JUDAH and HALF of the tribe of LEVI.

You see, the royal KINGSHIP line comes through the tribe of Judah, and the royal PRIESTHOOD line comes through the tribe of Levi. The reason there is so much space taken up in the gospels with the heritage of Christ's lineage is to document that He RIGHTFULLY & LEGALLY qualified, even right down to His PERFECT PEDIGREE as:

The KING of KINGS and the LORD of LORDS.

The Word of God is perfect, even as He was perfect. Yes, even His time of gestation in His mother's womb was perfect, and so we will learn the number of days of an ideal human gestation from knowing His day of conception and the day of His birth. We are almost there, but we need to get John the Baptist conceived first! And that's a problem, because Zacharias and Elizabeth are really "up there" in years.

Luke 1:7
And they had no child, because that Elisabeth was barren, and they both were now well stricken in years.
Today we call them Senior Citizens.
[8] And it came to pass, that while he executed the priest's office before God in the order of his course,
The order of his course is Abia (I Chron. 24:10), and here is what his duties were:
[9] According to the custom of the priest's office, his lot was to burn incense when he went into the temple of the Lord.
So Zacharias is faithfully executing the priest's duties of the course of Abia. This is important to show the accuracy of the events that occur.
[10] And the whole multitude of the people were praying without at the time of incense.

[11] And there appeared unto him an angel of the Lord standing on the right side of the altar of incense.

Note: E.W. Bullinger points out in the Companion Bible that the first use of incense by man began in disobedience, and the last ended in unbelief.

So here's good ole Zacharias just routinely performing his priestly duties, when all of a sudden he sees a supernatural archangel, who will turn out to be Gabriel, appear on the right side of the altar! WHOOOOA!

Luke 1:12
And when Zacharias saw him, he was troubled, and fear fell upon him.
It can be an awesome experience for a flesh man (or woman) to encounter a supernatural, spirit being.
[13] But the angel said unto him, Fear not, Zacharias: for thy prayer is heard; and thy wife Elisabeth shall bear thee a son, and thou shalt call his name John.
First, Gabriel tells Zacharias to relax and calm down, he's not going to hurt him, and then he tells him that his prayer has been heard and God is going to give him his prayer request!

Now remember we read that Zacharias and Elizabeth were well stricken in years? Do you think they just started praying for a child? Of course not. Actually, since Elizabeth was past the child bearing age, they probably stopped praying for a child years ago. And perhaps, just perhaps, Zacharias even had a "little attitude" about his prayer not being answered. After all as we read in verse 6: " And they were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless." He was faithful and loyal, but this "waiting on the Lord thing" can be tough. Abraham and Sarah had a "waiting" problem too! So did Rebecca! So does _____________ (insert your name here if it applies.)

But God DID HEAR their prayers and blessed them with a great man of God. And it is fitting to use the analogy of the birth process here too, for because of the joy and gladness and rejoicing they WILL experience, as expressed (call it prophecy if you like) in the next verse, you can be sure all the "contractual pains" of being saddened and disappointed over the years gone-by will be completely overshadowed and forgotten!

As is it written many times in the Psalms, "Wait patiently upon the Lord!" (Ps. 37:7), and always remember, He has a perfect plan and an exact time line. The birth of John the Baptist and Jesus Christ were determined from the beginning.

So KNOW that He ALWAYS hears our prayers. It's just that He has His plan and if we ask Him to change it, just because we want something now, done our way, it "ain't gonna happen". Our prayers need be accompanied by, "Nevertheless, thy will (YOUR PLAN) be done", just as Jesus instructed us. Then we wait on the Lord!

[14] And thou shalt have joy and gladness; and many shall rejoice at his birth.
The name "John" means "God's gift" and he certainly was that.
Luke 1:15
For he shall be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink; and he shall be filled with the Holy Ghost, even from his mother's womb.
John will be filled with the Holy Spirit when Mary, having just conceived, rushes to her cousin Elizabeth's house and the Holy Spirit, now present in her womb, fills Elizabeth and John, causing him to leap in his mother's womb.
Luke 1:41
And it came to pass, that, when Elisabeth heard the salutation of Mary, the babe leaped in her womb; and Elisabeth was filled with the Holy Ghost:
Yep, happened just like the angel said.
Luke 1:16
And many of the children of Israel shall he turn to the Lord their God.
John the Baptist had many disciples, some of whom became the disciples of Jesus, such as Andrew and his brother Peter the Great Fisher of Men.
[17] And he shall go before him in the spirit and power of Elias, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just; to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.
John had a powerful ministry and a large following of students, and we know that he taught with boldness and authority. And he did make ready a people prepared for the Lord, for when they came and saw the miracles and even the Lord Himself, they knew that all the things John had taught them were TRUE! He had prepared them well. Here's John the beloved's account speaking of Jesus returning to the scene of John the Baptist's favorite baptismal:
John 10:40
And went away again beyond Jordan into the place where John at first baptized; and there He abode.

[41] And many resorted unto Him, and said, John did no miracle: but all things that John spake of this man were true.

We now return to our regularly scheduled program, "Zacharias and the Angel."
Luke 1:18
And Zacharias said unto the angel, Whereby shall I know this? for I am an old man, and my wife well stricken in years.
"Yeah, well that's really nice Mr. Angel", (the angel hadn't formally introduced himself yet as the same Gabriel of the Book of Daniel), "but as you can see, I'm an old man and my old lady and I don't get in on much anymore. And besides, she's too old to have kids, so whereby shall I know this. Get real!"
[19] And the angel answering said unto him, I am Gabriel, that stand in the presence of God; and am sent to speak unto thee, and to shew thee these glad tidings.
"Well, Mr. Doubting Zacharias, let me introduce myself and give you my credentials..."

I'm sure Gabriel was able to document to this knowledgeable Levite Priest that he was indeed who he claimed to be. Imagine what must have gone through Zacharias' mind after this "spiritual" Bible lesson! Imagine how badly he wanted to tell everyone exactly what had happened. Sorry Charlie, ministers who "doubt" are turned dumb when it comes to speaking God's Word.

[20] And, behold, thou shalt be dumb, and not able to speak, until the day that these things shall be performed, because thou believest not my words, which shall be fulfilled in their season.
Zacharias will see each and every prophecy Gabriel has declared come to pass. And they shall be fulfilled in "their season", LIKE IT OR NOT, according to HIS PLAN. Let's give Zacharias credit though, he learned the hard way for us so we can learn from his experience. Let's be thankful for him, for he was a great man of God himself.
[21] And the people waited for Zacharias, and marvelled that he tarried so long in the temple.

[22] And when he came out, he could not speak unto them: and they perceived that he had seen a vision in the temple: for he beckoned unto them, and remained speechless.

I can just imagine this scene. You're on your own, though.
Luke 1:23
And it came to pass, that, as soon as the days of his ministration were accomplished, he departed to his own house.
Now, this is extremely important. When were the days of Zacharias' ministration accomplished, i.e. over with? This is referring to that "course of Abia" in verse 5. You will find listed in I Chron. 24 that there were 24 priestly courses of ministration of which the course of Abia is the 8th. (8 in Biblical numerics means "new beginnings".) These courses were changed every week, beginning each with a Sabbath, and performed twice each year and all together at the three great feasts. They commenced on the 22nd day of Tisri (our September).

Note: All of these dates are documented for you in appendix 179 of the Companion Bible.

So the dates for the two yearly ministrations of Abijah would be:

1st ministration: From 12-18 Chisleu which is our December 6-12.

2nd ministration: From 12-18 Sivan which is our June 13-19.

Now, we just read in verse 23 that Zacharias departed for home after his ministration had been accomplished, i.e. completed. His course of Abijah would have ended at sunset on Friday (they all ended on a Friday) June 19th. However, it was now a Sabbath day (Sivan 19) and so he would not have been able to travel, so he couldn't leave Jerusalem until Sunday, the 20th.

So Zacharias, the aged man, left for his home which was in "the hill country" (see verse 39). It would have taken him a few days to get home, as the next verse shows.

[24] And after those days his wife Elisabeth conceived, and hid herself five months, saying,
"After those days", which would have been on June 23-24, Elizabeth conceived, and went into seclusion for 5 months.

Note: Remember that Zacharias was speechless and so he wasn't able to tell Elizabeth the name of the little white pill in the vial that Gabriel gave to him and told him to take as soon as he got home. Thus Viagra was kept secret for another 2,000 years. (I'm just kidding... hmmm.)

In any event, the conception and birth of John the Baptist was indeed miraculous as these two were "well stricken" with age, as were Abraham and Sarah at the miraculous birth of Isaac!

[25] Thus hath the Lord dealt with me in the days wherein he looked on me, to take away my reproach among men.
It was a reproach not to be able to bear a child. (Gen. 30:23)
Luke 1:26
And in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God unto a city of Galilee, named Nazareth,
It is now December 24th - 25th, sixth months after the conception of John the Baptist.

Tomorrow we will see what really happened on Christmas day! I think you now know.



CHRISTMAS (Part 4)

It is now the 1st of Tebeth, our 25th of December, and the angel Gabriel is dutifully, and I'm sure very delightedly, carrying out his directive from the Father to bring the good news to the Virgin Mary, who was chosen before the foundation of this earth age, that she would be the vessel, the mother, who would be blessed among women to bring forth the Perfect Child, the Son of God.

Luke 1:26
And in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God unto a city of Galilee, named Nazareth,
Just in case we miss the "fact" that this is six months from the conception of John the Baptist, which we documented was June 23-24, Gabriel will declare it AGAIN in verse 36. Sometimes we have to be told more than once before we "pick up" on that which we are supposed to know, and besides, repeating a fact gives emphasis to its importance. Also, remember that although today our calendar date changes at 12:00 midnight, back then the days were reckoned from sunset to sunset, so that when you see June 23-24 it is the same day from June 23rd sunset to June 24th sunset. The same applies to Dec. 24-25.
[27] To a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin's name was Mary.
Sometimes people are confused as to whether the Bible says Mary and Joseph were "married" or "engaged" at this point. There is never a need to be confused, only a need to do our homework. The Greek word for "espoused" is mnesteuo and means "betroth". Look it up for yourself. The Strong's number is Greek 3423.
[28] And the angel came in unto her, and said, Hail, thou that art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women.
Mary indeed was blessed, not only among women, but among all of mankind. Imagine the honor of being the one chosen to bring forth the Son of God. Of course, "wise men" know that her honor doesn't make her a goddess to be worshipped, which is why the "wise men" kneeled down and worshipped only the Christ Child. And when this Child is fully grown, He will instruct us all to pray only to the Father, "which art in heaven". And the great thing about the gift of freewill that our Father gave to each of us, is we can chose to follow what Christ says or follow what some church or religion says.
[29] And when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and cast in her mind what manner of salutation this should be.
Mary wasn't displaying any doubt or disbelief here at the presence of Gabriel. She was just trying to figure out in her mind what was going on, i.e. what this all meant.
[30] And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God.

Luke 1:31
And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS.

Do you remember back in Matthew an angel ALSO appeared to Joseph in a vision and instructed him to name the child JESUS! So each one having been visited by an angel, and given the same instructions as to His name, confirmed the validity of the other's story. You have to wonder just how much Mary told Joseph about her visitation from Gabriel when she first told him she was pregnant. Seems to me that Joseph had a little time of "testing" there, "while he thought on these things" (Mat. 1:20). What to do, what to do! Here is what the angel said to Joseph:
Matthew 1:21
And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins.
"Save" is Jesus' name, i.e. Savior. That's what the Hebrew "Yah-shua", "Je - sus", means, "Yah's Savior".

Now, it will be exactly 280 days from this day of visitation by Gabriel on the 1st of Tebeth, the 25th of December, the day of conception, that Jesus Christ will be born.

Let us first consider the Biblical numerics* present here.  280 is 40 weeks or "forty sevens", 7 being the number of "spiritual perfection" and 40 being the number of "trial or testing". Broken down further, 280 = 5 x 7 x 8, which is "Grace" times "Spiritual Perfection" times "Resurrection or New Beginnings".

*Note: Numbers in scripture have spiritual significance. They help us to partake of that "hidden manna", giving us a deeper level of understanding and confirmation. For instance: Each time the number 40 is used throughout the Bible it denotes "probation" or "testing". It rained 40 days and 40 nights at the time of the flood. Israel wandered in the wilderness 40 years. Moses was on the mountain 40 days. Christ was tempted of Satan 40 days in the wilderness, etc. Here are a few other numbers and their meanings:
 5  = grace
  6  = man
  7  = spiritual perfection
  8  = new beginnings
10 = law or ordinal perfection as in the 10 commandments
12 = governmental perfection as in 12 tribes, 12 apostles, etc.
If you'd like to learn more about the significance of numbers, for starters read Appendix 10 in the back of the Companion Bible.
But here is the real "clincher" concerning the 280 days!  280 days from December 25th, the day "The Word became flesh" (John 1:14), brings us to September 29th, which JUST HAPPENS TO BE the First Day of the Feast of Tabernacles,the day "The Word dwelt among us" (John 1:14). Do you grasp the incredible significance and perfection of this? Jesus Christ began "tabernacling" (Gr. eskenosen) with man on the 15th of Ethanim, or September the 29th, the First Day of the Feast of Tabernacles. (The word "tabernacle" means "tent" or "temporary dwelling", which our flesh bodies are!)

There is no other day given by God's Word that fits the birth of Christ other than the First Day of Feast of Tabernacles. It also means that He would then have been circumcised on the 8th day of the Feast, that Great Day of the Feast (John 7:37), the 22nd of Ethanim.

Here is a quote from appendix 179, pg. 198, of the Companion Bible concerning His Conception and His Birth:

"So that these two momentous events fall into their proper place and order, and the real reason is made clear why the 25th of December is associated with our Lord, and was set apart by the Apostolic Church to commemorate the stupendous event of the "Word becoming flesh" - and not, as we have for so long been led to suppose, the commemoration of a pagan festival."
If you check our western calendar, you will find an event listed for September 29th. It is called "Michaelmas" and has been from very early times, the "Festival of Michael and All Angels". It originally commemorated the announcement to the shepherds in the fields by the Archangel Michael and the entourage of the heavenly host who accompanied him, that the Savior has been born. Here is that beautiful account.
Luke 2:9
And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.
Our Father sent Gabriel to announce the Conception and the Archangel Michael, the great prince of our people (Dan. 12:1), the highest ranking angel, to announce the most momentous birth ever in the history of the world, the birth of His Son, Savior of the world. (Note: The word "archangel", archo - aggelos, simply means "chief" angel or "high ranking" angel. In I Thes. 4:16 you will see that this archangel will announce His second advent also.)
[10] And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.

[11] For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.

[12] And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.

[13] And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,

[14] Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.
What a glorious sight that must have been to behold and hear that chorus of angels.

If you do some research into the early apostolic church era, you will find this celebration was what September the 29th was all about. BUT the "mystery of iniquity" which was "already working" even at the time of the apostle Paul (2 Thes. 2:7) quickly obscured and enshrouded this day and also the great day of the Lord's begetting on 1st Tebeth, December 25th.

There are a lot of people who know that there are valid arguments and reasons why Christ could not have been born in late December. We're not going to go into detail concerning them, but they are numerous and include the fact that the shepherds would not have been "abiding" in the open fields in late December, not just because of the weather, but because there wouldn't have been any pasturage for the sheep anyway. And then there's the Roman authorities who wouldn't, and didn't, impose census taking and taxation at the most inclement and inconvenient season of the year, etc.

You can also discover beyond doubt that December the 25th was a pagan festival long before the time of the our Lord. We will discuss this more in our next, concluding study on, "Should We Observe Christmas?" It is often said, however, that "A little knowledge is a dangerous thing", and it certainly can be. Many sincere, albeit ill-informed Christians have allowed this discovery to rob them and their children of some of our rich Christian heritage. Don't let it happen to you!

Let's recap the dates we have learned and conclude Luke's account in chapter 1.

The conception of John................... 23rd Sivan  = June 23-24
The birth of John................................ 7th Nisan = March 28-29

The Miraculous Begetting of Jesus.... 1st Tebeth  = December 25th
The Nativity..................................... 15th Tisri    = September 29th

Gabriel is still speaking to the Virgin Mary about the Son she shall bring forth.
Luke 1:32
He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David:
And He will sit on that throne of David when He returns at the 7th Trump and reign for ever and ever. Do you know who sits on that throne right now? God told Jeremiah there would always be a man (no gender implied) upon it [the throne of Israel] until He whose rightfully it is comes!
Jeremiah 33:17
For thus saith the LORD; David shall never want a man to sit upon the throne of the house of Israel;
Queen Elizabeth, a direct descendant of King David, now resides upon the throne. Her family tree is a matter of public record, so check out her genealogy. (If you would like more information on this, you will need to read a copy of the booklet, "The Abrahamic Covenant", by E. Raymond Capt.)
Luke 1:33
And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end.
WAIT a minute! Hold everything right there! Mary has a question for Gabriel, and it is a really good one, not a "dumb" question at all. (Zacharias asked a truely "dumb" question, one which defines what a "dumb" question really is. It is not one you ask "because" you are dumb, it is one you ask that "causes" you to become "dumb".)

Here's the question:

[34] Then said Mary unto the angel, How shall this be, seeing I know not a man?
Mary was no fool. She knew how Adam "knew" his wife and how babies are conceived (even without attending sex education classes in school). Gabriel responds with the most incredible answer anyone could ever imagine.
[35] And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.
"And don't think this is an impossibility, Mary, because guess what? Your old cousin Elizabeth who is past her child bearing years is pregnant because of divine intervention also. In fact, she's now entering her third trimester."
[36] And, behold, thy cousin Elisabeth, she hath also conceived a son in her old age: and this is the sixth month with her, who was called barren.

[37] For with God nothing shall be impossible.

So you see, Mary (and everyone else in the whole world who reads this), nothing is impossible for Him.

Amazing, isn't it? Here we have two seemingly impossible conceptions, one by a woman too old to bear children, and one by a woman perhaps too young, but nevertheless a virgin, one without a man. I'm sure you have heard of "Artificial Insemination". Well, our Father's technology is far advanced of flesh man's, because it takes the Greater to create the lesser. So for sake of simplicity, I call the conception, "Spiritual Insemination."

Luke 1:38
And Mary said, Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word. And the angel departed from her.
Whatever His Will is, so be it. And the angel departed from her, probably to return and complete the paperwork for his report.
[39] And Mary arose in those days, and went into the hill country with haste, into a city of Juda;
"In haste" means right away, same day.
[40] And entered into the house of Zacharias, and saluted Elisabeth.
I wonder if she knocked first? Based on the next verse along with verse 44, it looks like she just opened the door and yelled, "Elizabeth, are you there?" (Hey, it was not a dumb question. I can still talk.)
[41] And it came to pass, that, when Elisabeth heard the salutation of Mary, the babe leaped in her womb; and Elisabeth was filled with the Holy Ghost:

This fulfilled the prophecy, delivered by Gabriel in verse 15 concerning John being "filled with the Holy Spirit" from the womb.


That brings to mind another question (can't help myself), "When does life begin in the womb?" The courts of man seem to have a hard time with this one, yet it is so simple according to wisdom, His Word (which is not permitted as an authoritative source in court). Here we have an example of viability AT CONCEPTION, by the perfect human embryo. Of course, we know that life begins outside the womb and that each and every one of us was "born from above", just as He was "born from above" and descended to dwell in the flesh. But by Christ's example shown here, we know that God places the soul of His sons, i.e. ties them in the womb with that "little silver cord" (a figurative description found in Eccles. 12:6), at conception, not three months later, not 6 months later, not at birth! At conception!

[42] And she spake out with a loud voice, and said, Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb.

[43] And whence is this to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?

[44] For, lo, as soon as the voice of thy salutation sounded in mine ears, the babe leaped in my womb for joy.

[45] And blessed is she that believed: for there shall be a performance of those things which were told her from the Lord.

Elizabeth now KNEW that our Father performed EXACTLY what He said would be done, and boy was she a Happy Woman that day!

And so it would come to pass that John, who would be called "the Baptist", would be born in the spring and Yashua, the Savior of the World, Emmanuel, the Messiah, the Anointed One, would be born that fall, six months later, on the 1st Day of the Feast of Tabernacles, the 29th of September. He would be hers and His firstborn and He would be wrapped in swaddling clothes and laid in a manger, and all the angels of heaven would worship Him (Heb 1:6).

And that is how and when the Miracle of the Begettal and the Birth of our Lord, the beginning of God Tabernacling with men, happened. Yes, "it happened on this wise".

What then? Should we as Christians celebrate Christmas? Don't miss the 5th and final study on this subject!



CHRISTMAS (Part 5)

It was a MIRACULOUS DAY, the day of Christ's Conception!

It was the day God gave the GREATEST GIFT ever to mankind!

It was the day God "was made flesh" (John 1:14) and 280 days later would be the first day He would begin to "dwell among us" (John 1:14), i.e. tabernacle with us on the First Day of the Feast of Tabernacles!

What then should the "wise" do concerning December 25th, the Day of Conception, and the preceding season of celebration? It is real simple. They go forth happy and joyous and "make known" the wonderful teachings of His Word when and where the opportunities arise. And they teach their children, not by alienating them from our rich traditions and joys of the season, but with instruction from His Word, accompanied with the explanations of all the symbology.

Yes, most Christians will celebrate December 25th as the birth of Christ, although we have documented in the previous studies that it was really the day Jesus was conceived. So Satan has been able to switch the dates upon our mostly Biblically illiterate brothers and sisters, but we are not going to allow him to rob us of ALL of our Christian heritage. And although the pagans had their celebration at this time of the year, we do not "move over" for Paganism either, period! Christmas is NOT a Pagan Holiday.

And just because we now know a thing or two about His conception and birth, we can't become self-righteous and withdraw from the world. We're here for a reason. So don't get all puffed-up in your knowledge! Knowledge can do that you know? The apostle Paul talked about knowledge "going to our heads" and making it "swell".  You see, without using wisdom and being gentle and kind and loving with our knowledge of God's Word, we can become realjerks. Worse yet, as Paul explains later in this chapter, we can cause one weak in faith to stumble.

1 Cor. 8:1
Now as touching things offered unto idols, we know that we all have knowledge. Knowledge puffeth up, but charity edifieth.
Even Satan has knowledge. In fact, he tempted Jesus Christ in the wilderness by quoting scriptures from God's Word, though he twisted their meanings. It matters greatly how we use our knowledge, for we can be negative and tear down or we can lift up our families and brothers and sisters and friends and associates! For example, we can uninvitedly say, "Did you know that December 25th was an ancient pagan holiday, and you're keeping it as Jesus' birthday?" (you poor unknowledgeable heathen, we huff to ourselves), or we can say when the subject is opened, "Yes, December 25th is truly a beautiful and Miraculous Day? Do you know what really happened on that glorious day?"
[2] And if any man think that he knoweth any thing, he knoweth nothing yet as he ought to know.
And if you think you have some kind of exclusivity of knowledge, then you really are "sottish" [stupid] indeed. As we have shown, it doesn't take a Biblical scholar to understand many of the things we've learned in this study. One 74 year old grandma, who has been a "church goer", literally since she was born, said to me after services that she was just thrilled to learn so much about the subject of Christmas. "I never knew there was a house", she said! Imagine that, in 60+ years her church never quite got around to reading Mat. 2:11. Do we then go on to condemn her church and all its "pagan" rituals or do we rather begin talking about the fact that there are many other RICH truths, in plain view, contained in our Father's Word, and perhaps inspire her to become hungry and thirsty after Him. If you are one of His disciples, and you love Him, then that is your job, i.e. to uplift and teach, not to condemn!
[3] But if any man love God, the same is known of him.
I remember when I was a teenager, I had a Bible study drawing all the parallels between Santa Claus and God the Father, declaring it all a mockery and a counterfeit, such as Santa is dressed in a red and white suit because Christ in Rev. 19:13 "... was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood.." Santa is omniscient (all knowing) and a discerner of the heart for "he knows if you've been bad or good". He is also omnipresent, especially on Christmas eve. Santa is a giver of gifts because James 1:17 says "Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights...". Santa resides at the North Pole because in Ezekiel 1:4 the whirlwind came from the north. God is transported on His throne accompanied by cherubim in Ezek. 1 and Santa is transported in his sleigh, pulled by reindeer. And Santa has elves who minister unto him just as angels minister unto the Father. Santa's "Ho, ho, ho" was taken from Rev. 4:8, "Holy, Holy, Holy". And on, and on it went!

It was at that time I decided if I ever had children that I would certainly not tell them that there really was a Santa Claus. Well, I've had several children and although I never told them of the contents of that Bible study, neither were any of them ever taught that Santa was for real and the one who delivered the goods under the tree. At the same time they were taught to be courteous and respectful of other kid's beliefs. Are they perfect kids? Ha, ha, ha! Let's not go there.

But what about the "traditions" and "symbolism" surrounding Christmas?

The Holy Spirit uses symbols and symbolism throughout the Bible, and right from the beginning with the serpent and the trees and the fruit, etc. But a symbol itself need be neither good nor bad, but the teaching, the meaning, i.e. the person or thing which it represents can be good or bad. For example, there were two "persons" present in the garden of Eden, each symbolized by a "Tree". One was Satan [The Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil] and one was Christ [The Tree of Life]. One was a "bad" tree and one was a "good" tree.

Well then, is a Christmas tree a good or a bad thing? That would depend on whether it is an idol or a symbol of something good or bad? But know this: the tree itself is nothing more than just a tree. Of course if you worship a Christmas Tree and it is an idol to you, then you are in BIG TROUBLE.

But as we just mentioned, The Tree of Life symbolizes Jesus Christ. Now consider the closing chapter of the book titled "Salvation", i.e. Hosea.

Hosea 14:4
I will heal their backsliding, I will love them freely: for mine anger is turned away from him.
This is when God brings back His people Israel from being "lo-ammi", i.e. not His people.
[5] I will be as the dew unto Israel: he shall grow as the lily, and cast forth his roots as Lebanon.
The Cedars of Lebanon are symbolic of God's people.
[6] His branches shall spread, and his beauty shall be as the olive tree, and his smell as Lebanon.

[7] They that dwell under his shadow shall return; they shall revive as the corn, and grow as the vine: the scent thereof shall be as the wine of Lebanon.

The overshadowing of our Father will be as a tall cedar of Lebanon, an Ever-Green Tree. Yes, our Father, the Creator of us all, likens Himself to a Green Fir Tree.
[8] Ephraim shall say, What have I to do any more with idols? I have heard him, and observed him: I am like a green fir tree. From me is thy fruit found.
And in Rev. 22:2 you will once again find the Tree of Life, Jesus Christ, this time bearing 12 manner of fruit for us throughout all eternity.

Do you understand the symbology of the Evergreen [Eternal] Tree [Father]? Then consider the next verse:

[9] Who is wise, and he shall understand these things? prudent, and he shall know them? for the ways of the LORD are right, and the just shall walk in them: but the transgressors shall fall therein.
Who is wise and can use this knowledge with understanding and charity?  Who is prudent [can discern] and shall know [make known] or teach these things?  "The ways of the Lord are right",  and the wise teach them and "walk in them".

How about you? Do you have a little ornament or ribbon with "Hosea 14:8 'I AM LIKE A GREEN FIR TREE' for on your tree?...

.... Or are you going to let Satan steal from you and your children ALL of the rich heritage of our people? How wise and prudent are you?

"Oh Yeah!", you can just count on someone saying. "Haven't you ever read Jeremiah 10 where God condemns cutting down trees and decking them with gold and silver?" Note: It is really sad that we have to address this chapter on idolatry during this study, but we must dispel ignorance by replacing it with truth. And you know what? That is most often accomplished by simply reading His Word, which is sometimes a new and eye opening experience for many, as in the exclamation by the 74 year old grandma, "I never knew there was a house!"

Here goes!

Jeremiah 10:1
Hear ye the word which the LORD speaketh unto you, O house of Israel:

[2] 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.

Do you have any idea of what the "way of the heathen" were which our Father abhorred (Lev. 18:3, 20:23)?  Well, get ready for some "reality". Have you ever read about the "asherah"? (I'm trying to do this tactfully.)
[3] 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.
[4] They deck it with silver and with gold; they fasten it with nails and with hammers, that it move not.
Hey, that sounds like a pretty good description of a Christmas tree, doesn't it? And as long as you are ignorant of the "way of the heathen" and don't read the rest of the description of this "tree" in the next verse, then I could probably convince you that it is a Christmas tree and tell you that God doesn't want you to have one!

But as it is written, a teacher of His Word is held personally accountable, by Him, for that which he or she teaches. That is why it is so important to do your homework. Read the next verse concerning these trees!

[5] They are upright as the palm tree, but speak not: they must needs be borne, because they cannot go. Be not afraid of them; for they cannot do evil, neither also is it in them to do good.
We will not go into full descriptive detail about what this "upright tree" really is that the heathen "idolized", and used as part of the "Grove" worship of the goddess Astarte (from whom we get the word Easter). If you have wisdom and are willing to read Appendix 42 in the back of the Companion Bible, then you can know the thing.  However, here are the unedited Strong's Concordance definitions of the words "upright" and "palm tree" used in verse 5:
upright
miqshah, mik-shaw', Hebrew 4749; feminine of Hebrew 4748 (miqsheh); rounded work, i.e. moulded by hammering (repouss) :- beaten (out of one piece, work), upright, whole piece.
palm tree
tomer, to'-mer, Hebrew 8560; from the same root as Hebrew 8558 (tamar); a palm trunk :- palm tree.
Here also is the commentary on verse 5 from "Jamieson Fausset and Brown", Zondervan Publishing, pg 608:
5. upright - or, "They are of turned work, resembling a palm tree" [Maurer]. The point of comparison between the idol and the palm is in the pillar-like uprightness of the latter, it having no branches except at the top.
That ought to about do it for this "tree" in Jeremiah 10, wouldn't you say?  There is absolutely no comparison between what is being described here and a great fir tree. (Again, either read Appendix 42 in the Companion Bible, or do some research into the "grove" worship of the heathen.)

Let's refresh our minds once again to the positive, and repeat the opening paragraph in Part 1 of this study on Christmas:

There is a popular Christmas song that goes, "It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year".  And you know what? For many people it truly is. It is the only time of the year when many families get to see their loved ones who live far away, and who make the long journey home for Christmas, singing "I'll be Home for Christmas" or "Jingle Bells", all the way. It is also the one time of the year when the subject of Christ is brought to the forefront of many conversations, thus making it the best "seed planting" time of the year!
God's elect are so blessed by Him, and because of those blessings we can afford to be the most generous, and joyous, and happiest people tabernacling on earth in flesh bodies, especially during the holiday season where there are so many opportunities to be "wise" and "prudent", and show that we are able to peel back the commercialism and yet "make known" the wonderful Truth that sets us free to worship Him and walk in His ways. So this holiday season don't be a "Scrooge" or worse yet "self-righteous". Be sure to enjoy your family and friends and teach your children to walk in His ways.

Oh, and by the way! Have a Merry, Merry Conception Day!

Signed by "One of God's Elect"