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Yom Kippur and Christmas

Yom Kippur and Christmas

What's the Connection?

by John J. Parsons

If the priest Zechariah was performing the Yom Kippur avodah when he was visited by the angel Gabriel (as seems to be the case given the context, see Luke 1:8-23), and his wife Elizabeth conceived about that time (see Luke 1:24, that is, sometime in the middle of the month of Tishri), and her cousin Mary was then told of the incarnation six months later, during Passover season (Luke 1:26, 36), then the birth of Yeshua would have been sometime during the middle of the month of Tevet, which is indeed close to the traditional December 25th date observed by the majority of Christians...

After all, as you read the the prophetic announcement of the birth of John given in Luke, it certainly seems that Zechariah was performing the Yom Kippur ritual at the Temple, offering incense before the parochet before he entered the sacred chamber of the Holy of Holies. Indeed, one implication of this interpretation is that the Lamb of God (שׂה הָאֱלהִים) was conceived during Passover, which seems appropriate as the time of the Incarnation...

ὁ λόγος σὰρξ ἐγένετο καὶ ἐσκήνωσεν ἐν ἡμῖν -- "The Word became flesh and dwelt among us" (John 1:14) -- which of course is the essence of the gospel message. As it is written concerning the birth of Messiah: "For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace" (Isa. 9:6).

Of course the exact date of Yeshua's birth is existentially irrelevant, apart from the fact that he indeed was born into this world as our Savior, and indeed, the New Testament stresses the significance of his death more than his birth (1 Cor. 2:2; 1 Cor. 15:3-4). Nevertheless, we use the "good eye" to regard our Christian friends who honor this time to remember the birth of Yeshua, even if we have convictions that may lead us to think Messiah was born during Sukkot. For some hopefully peaceful discussion about the birth date of the Messiah Yeshua, see the article, "Christmas: Was Jesus really born on December 25th?"

Note:  The point of this entry was to explore the traditional date as a possibility, not to be dogmatic and intolerant. You certainly do not have to agree with the traditional date, though if you disagree, then you should at least address the pertinent question of what Zechariah was doing in his service when the prophecy of the birth of John was made. Above all, follow your own convictions and walk in peace toward all people (Heb. 12:14). Shalom.

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