Question 69. What is your view on Christmas?

Miriam (Mary) gave birth to her first son sometime between the years 7 and 6 B.C., but there is not enough information available to reveal when during that year the Messiah was born. The early church itself was divided as to the exact date of Yeshua’s birth. By the time of Augustine (A.D. 354-430), the Western church had agreed on the December date, which had been introduced a few decades earlier by Constantine and which corresponded to the ancient Roman festival of Saturnalia. The Eastern church fixed both the birthday and the arrival of the magi on January 6th. Especially in Messianic Jewish circles, there have been attempts to prove that Yeshua was born on a Jewish holy day, with Sukkot, the Feast of Tabernacles, being the most popular option. These attempts tend to be emotional reactions to the concept of Christmas Day, and the arguments used are often spurious. The Gospel writers are quick to connect Yeshua with the Jewish festivals. Whatever Yeshua may have said or done on a Jewish festival is freely reported. However, the birth narratives by Matthew and Luke do not mention or even imply that the birth occurred during a feast day. Certainly Matthew, who wrote to a Jewish audience, would have made such a connection if it actually happened. The very fact that neither he nor Luke make such a reference shows that the Messiah was born on an ordinary day, somewhere between 7 and 6 B.C., but the exact date cannot be known.

Now as far as observing Christmas, I personally choose not to do so and choose to focus on the actual holy days mentioned in Scripture. However, I would have no objection to observing Christmas, whether it is celebrated on December 25th or on January 6th. There are those who have the freedom to observe the holiday, and there are others who do not wish to do it. They, too, have the freedom to do what they want. Decisions like these are part of the things that believers should leave to each other since we are free in the Messiah.


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Arnold Answers with founder and director of Ariel Ministries, Dr. Arnold G. Fruchtenbaum.

Question 57: If Christ died on Friday afternoon before sundown and rose on Sunday before dawn, how could he say in Matthew 12:40 he would be “three days and three nights” in the grave.

In Jewish reckoning, part of a day accounts for the whole day, all twenty-four hours of it, both the day and the night of it.  Actually, the Gospels have three statements that appear contradictory in Gentile reckoning of time but not in Jewish reckoning of time.  Sometimes Jesus said He would rise “on the third day”.  Sometimes He said He would rise “after three days”.  Jesus also used the expression “three days and three nights”.  All three statements are in the same Gospel so it is not merely a variation among the Gospel writers.  These would be contradictory expressions in Gentile reckoning of time but not in Jewish reckoning where part of the day counts for the whole day.  He did rise “on the third day” because Friday before sundown was the first day, Saturday was the second day, and Saturday evening when three stars became visible was the beginning of the third day, Sunday.  Because part of Sunday counts as all of Sunday, He also rose “after three days”.  And the phrase “three days and three nights” refers to any period of time that touches three days, because part of a day counts for the whole day, both the daylight and night time of it.  For example in Esther 4:16, Esther tells the people to fast for three days and three nights and after these three days of fasting she will then go see the king.  Left to itself that might imply that a three full twenty-four hour fast, and on the fourth day she will see the king.  However, in Esther 5:1, it is on the third day that she goes to see the king and there is no way to squeeze three twenty-four hour periods from that passage, nor is it necessary in light of Jewish reckoning.


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Arnold Answers is a bi-weekly Q & A with founder and director of Ariel Ministries, Dr. Arnold G. Fruchtenbaum.

 

Titles of Yeshua the Messiah

1. Lamb of God

This title of the Messiah is found in John 1:29 and 36:

29 On the morrow he sees Yeshua coming unto him, and says, Behold, the Lamb of God, that takes away the sin of the world! … 36 and he looked upon Yeshua as he walked, and said, Behold, the Lamb of God!

By giving Him the title of the Lamb of God, John connected Yeshua with two Old Testament elements: the paschal lamb of Exodus 12 and the Messianic Lamb of Isaiah 53. The title Lamb of God emphasizes that He is the fulfillment of the Feast of Passover and that He will be the final Passover sacrifice.

2. Mediator

There are two aspects to Yeshua’s role as mediator.

First, He is the mediator between God and man (I Tim. 2:5).

Second, He is the mediator of the New Covenant. In Hebrews 8:6, He is called the mediator of a better covenant, and in Hebrews 9:15 and 12:24, He is the mediator of a new covenant.

The point here is that, on one hand, He is the mediator between God and man, so He is functioning as a priest. On the other hand, as the mediator of the New—and better—Covenant, He is functioning as the covenant-sealer or signatory.

3. Intercessor

That Yeshua is our intercessor is brought out in Romans 8:34 and Hebrews 7:25:

Who is he that condemns? It is Messiah Yeshua that died, yea rather, that was raised from the dead, who is at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us.

Wherefore also he is able to save to the uttermost them that draw near unto God through him, seeing he ever lives to make intercession for them.

Functioning as our intercessor is part of His high priestly ministry in that He intercedes on behalf of the believer before God. The picture is that as mediator, He represents God to man, and as intercessor, He represents man to God.

4. Advocate

The title of Advocate is applied to Yeshua in I John 2:1:

My little children, these things write I unto you that ye may not sin. And if any man sin, we have an Advocate with the Father, Yeshua Messiah the righteous.

The term advocate has the concept of being a lawyer. The reason that believers need Yeshua as their advocate is because of Satan’s title as the accuser of the brethren (Job 1:1-12; 2:4-5; Zech. 3:1-2; Rev. 12:10). Satan still has access to heaven to appear before the very presence of God. He does so for one reason, which is to accuse the brethren. If a believer falls into a state of unconfessed sin, sooner or later Satan will appear before God the Father to accuse that believer. This is the exact reason why believers still need the ministry of Yeshua as an advocate. Whenever Satan has any grounds to accuse a saint, Yeshua can say, “Lay that sin upon my account. I have already paid the penalty for that sin when I died for that person on the cross.”

5. Savior

This particular title emphasizes the Messiah’s work of salvation in that He is the One who saves. As Messiah, He is able to save. By the shedding of His blood, He has provided the basis of salvation. He is viewed as the Savior throughout the New Testament in verses such as Luke 2:11, John 4:42, Acts 5:31, I Timothy 1:1, Titus 2:13, and II Peter 2:20.

Excerpt From: Ariel Ministries. “Messiah Yeshua, Divine Redeemer: Christology From a Messianic Jewish Perspective.”