What Really Happened at Christmas?
In the past Iíve made the case that Jesus probably was
born sometime in September. If thatís the case then what
really happened in December? Is Christmas just the
result of overlaying Christian beliefs on a formerly
pagan holiday as some believe, or is there more to it?
To find the answer we begin with a look at the Jewish
Feast of Hanukkah. Maybe youíve heard the
story of Hanukkah, but if not hereís a brief summary.
In 165 BC, during the time of the Maccabean Revolt, the
Jews recaptured their desecrated Temple from Syrian
dictator Antiochus Epiphanes and undertook a rebuilding
and cleansing process to make it fit for worship again.
(Angry with the Jews and defiant toward God, Antiochus
had captured the Temple, sacrificed a pig on the altar,
and erected a statue of the Greek god Zeus in the Holy
Place requiring everyone to worship it on pain of death.
This outrageous act rendered the Temple unclean and
became known as the Abomination of Desolation.)
Jewish tradition holds that when they prepared to
cleanse the Temple to make it fit for use again, the
priests could not find enough Holy Oil to keep the
Temple Menorah, a large 7 branched oil lamp, lit for
the required 8 day purification ritual. They only had
enough for one day. But they went ahead in faith
and God multiplied that small supply so that it lasted
for the full eight days making the Temple Holy again.
Since then, this miracle has been commemorated in the
Feast of Hanukkah, an eight day celebration that
includes the use of a special 9 branched candlestick
called a Hanukkiah, short for Hanukkah menorah. The
Hanukkiah has a single elevated branch,
representing the available supply of oil, and 8
additional branches, one for each day of the
purification ritual. Each day of the celebration
an additional candle is lit, always using the flame of
the elevated candle, until on the final day all the
candles are burning. This reminds them that the light
for each day came from the single dayís supply of oil
they began with. Hanukkah is also referred
to as the Festival of Lights for this reason.
By the way this Abomination of Desolation is an act
destined to be repeated and will again trigger a revolt,
this time involving the whole world. When you see
a Temple in Jerusalem you will know the time is near,
and when you see the Abomination of Desolation standing
in the Holy Place you will know that 3 1/2 years of the
most terrible time man has ever known have begun (Matt
24:15-21). Whether you see this from Earth or Heaven
will be determined by whether youíve previously accepted
the Lordís death as payment for your sins.
What Day Is This?
As you know Hanukkah takes place around Christmas so Iím
going to use the proximity of the two events to make
what some would call an outrageous claim. I believe
thereís a theological connection between Hanukkah and
Christmas that does nothing less than state Godís
position on the beginning of life.
I demonstrated that in all probability John the Baptist
was conceived in what would have been mid to late June
on our calendar and born the following March.
Johnís mother and father were Elizabeth and
Zechariah. According toLuke 1:36 Mary conceived in the 6th month of Elizabethís pregnancy.
That means that our Lord was conceived in late December
and born the following September. Because the
calendars are different the exact dates vary from year
to year, but each year Hanukkah takes place in close
proximity to Christmas. Jesus is called ďthe True
Light that gives light to every manĒ (John
1:9). Was Jesus, ďThe Light of the WorldĒ
conceived during the Festival of Lights? Are we
unknowingly celebrating His conception at Christmas
instead of His birth? If thatís the case do you
realize what God is telling us?
When Did Christmas Begin?
The fact that Jesus is God incarnate is amply supported
in Scripture. But when did He become God and why
did He choose to come into the world the way He did?
Psalm 51:5 and 139:13-16
all allude to the fact that God knew us from the moment
of our conception. He knew all the details of our
lives and considered us human from that time. To merely
be with us in human form Jesus could have arrived as a
fully grown man but He came as an embryo because thatís
the way all humans begin their life.
Christmas began at the moment of divine conception. God
the Father planned it, God the Holy Spirit planted the
fertile seed in Mary, and at that moment God the Son
took on human form in the womb of a virgin. From that
first moment of conception Jesus was very much alive,
very much human, very much God. He didnít become
the Incarnate God somewhere along the path of His life,
or even when He emerged from Maryís womb. He had been
such from the moment of conception (Luke
1:35). God could not have made any stronger
statement about the sanctity of pre-born life.
As a poor, unwed teen-aged girl about to be ostracized
from family and society, Mary met all the modern
criteria for a therapeutic abortion. But had she and
Joseph sought one, it would have been just as much the
murder of the Messiah as was His death on the cross 33
years later. So the life of the Christ child
really did begin at Christmas. And now you know the
adult version of the Christmas story. 12-14-12