“And the Word became flesh, and did tabernacle among us, and we beheld his glory, glory as of an only begotten of a father, full of grace and truth.” ~ John 1:14
The December 25th date of Christmas is believed to have been set by Constantine around 300 AD. This celebration of Jesus’ birthday may have initially been chosen to correspond with either a historical Roman festival or the Winter solstace.
So when was Jesus really born? According to Hebrew research there is evidence to believe that Jesus was born on the first day of the Feast of Tabernacles (Sukkot), in the fall of the year. The time that the shepherds were abiding in the fields, not in the cold of winter. The Hebrew date for the first day of the feast is Tishri 15. This year (2009) that was October 2nd, though the date changes each year. Many Biblical scholars have determined that it was during this very feast that Jesus’ parents went up to Jerusalem and Jesus was born. Born in a stable, which in Hebrew is sukkot. It was also during this feast that the Roman census occurred because it was convenient that the Hebrew people were already gathering.
The Feast of Tabernacles is a joyful celebration. The festival is is like Thanksgiving and Christmas all rolled into one! It is a time of thanksgiving when the Jewish people remember how their people dwelt in temporary shelters in the wilderness for 40 years after God saved them from captivity in Egypt. Moses, who led the Israelites out of captivity was a type (foreshadow) of the Messiah.
The Feast of Tabernacles is significant to Christians because Jesus Christ, Yeshuah Ha Masiach, celebrated this feast, as did Paul. It was during Sukkot that Jesus fulfilled prophecy and proclaimed that he was God. During the Feast of Tabernacles lamps illuminated the whole city, it was during the lighting of theses lamps when Jesus stood in the temple courts and spoke out, “I am the light of the world (John 8:12). Then on the last and greatest day of the feast, precisely at the time of the water pouring ceremony, he declared, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink. Whoever believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him” (John 7:37,38).
The Feast of Tabernacles is a time to remember that God came to dwell among his people through his son Jesus Christ. It is a reminder that we reside in the fleshly, temporal dwellings of our earthly tabernacles, our bodies. And for believers, the spirit of God dwells within us. It is important to know that this feast will be celebrated forever by all believers in the Messiah’s eternal kingdom when we dwell together with Him forever!
Now that we understand this connection how much better we understand the fullfillment of the Messianic prophecies and the celebration of our Savior. So shall we celebrate the birth of Christ in the fall or in the winter? What is important is that we celebrate him at all. Has he been born in your heart?
“And it shall come to pass that everyone who is left of all the nations which came against Jerusalem shall go up from year to year to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, and to keep the Feast of Tabernacles.”