We do not know when Yeshua was born. The Scriptures do not tell us, and even though this day, Christmas, is grounded in pagan roots, as so many things around us are, we will nevertheless stand together and redeem this day, re-harvesting it in the name of the Lord, and for His glory. We will celebrate the birth of the Messiah together, the incarnation of the Word made flesh.
This feast represents a great open door to redeem the time as the Scriptures tell us to (Eph.5:16). Just think about it. This is a moment when the western world is actually taking the occasion to celebrate the birthday of Jesus, when in normal times, it seldom wants to hear anything about Him. They often criticize Him, even censure His name, but now they are formally celebrating Him. This creates perhaps the greatest and most favorable occasion of the year to declare and announce Yeshua’s purpose for coming.
Now before we look at how wonderfully the Messiah came to earth some 2000 years ago, let us clear out some major misconceptions about the reason behind Yeshua’s coming. Did Yeshua come to bring peace on earth? That is the first question I got when I was invited to a synagogue to explain my faith. The answer is no!
In His own words He said, “Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword.” (Mt. 10:34) Since He came 2000 years ago, there hasn’t been many years of peace.
However, while He will bring peace on earth at His Second Coming, He did bring a great shalom and a solid tikvah (Hebrew for hope) in the hearts of those who believe in Him.
Another question is often brought up: Did Yeshua come to establish a new religion? The answer is, not at all! He said it Himself: “Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets, but to fulfill them.” (Mt.5:17) He did not create a new religion, on the contrary, He came to bring us back to our roots, to our Creator. What He teaches goes hand in hand with all that is in the Hebrew Scriptures. He came to restore the truth about how we can practice true religion through a right relationship with the Messiah.
And for those who reject Him as the Messiah, without really knowing Him, let us remember that when He came, He did not come unannounced. There is a very long trail of prophecies from the Hebrew Scriptures, over 100 of them, concerning just His first Coming.
Beginning at the creation of man, it was declared that He would crush the head of the serpent and be the cause of its demise. His position as the King of Judah was announced by Jacob some 2000 years before His Coming. The manner of His death was announced by David, some 1000 years before His coming and by Isaiah 750 years before His coming. Yet this very ignorance and unwillingness to receive this truth was also predicted by so many prophets. Through one of them, Malachai, the LORD said, “Behold, I am going to send My messenger, and he will clear the way before Me. And the Lord, whom you seek, will suddenly come to His temple”. Malachi 3:1a
The reason why it was sudden and why they did not recognize Him is because by this time the religion in Israel were so severed from the basic tenets of the Scriptures. And that same dilemma continues today even among many of the other religions who claim His Name but whose teachings are so permeated with tradition and legends that the essentials of the Scriptures is veiled.
Let’s now open up our bible to the Gospel of Luke Chapter 2:1-7, to look into some intriguing circumstances surrounding the wonderful birth of the Messiah.
And it came to pass in those days that a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. This census first took place while Quirinius was governing Syria. So all went to be registered, everyone to his own city. Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mariam, his betrothed wife, who was with child. So it was, that while they were there, the days were completed for her to be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.
When we consider this text, another question arises. Why did the Glory of the Lord appear to these particular shepherds, among the many in Israel? Why in this place and not another? This is when we are going to see something truly extraordinary.
Luke tells us that these shepherds were in the same region (Luke vs.8) that is on the way to Bethlehem, in between Jerusalem and Bethlehem. That is the path that Joseph and Miriam must have taken. These shepherds were known to be keeping a particular and precious flock of animals that were destined for the sacrifices at the Temple. This we learn from the Jewish Oral Law, the Mishnah, which says, “Cattle found between Jerusalem and Migdal Eder…if male, they are deemed to be burnt offerings; if female, they are deemed to be peace offerings.– Mis m. Seqal. 7:4 A
Migdal Eder this is where the shepherds must have been and they were shepherding animals for the sacrifices at the Temple. And it is to these shepherds that the final Sacrifice, the Mesiah Himself, was revealed. This is in accordance with another powerful messianic prophecy we find in Isaiah 53:10, that He would render Himself as a guilt offering.
This is so powerful for the asham (Hebrew for guilt) offering was the first of all offerings at the Temple; it was the one which opened the door of the Temple for anyone to have fellowship with God. Yeshua became the asham for us so that we may be reconciled to God for eternity.
And there is more to these two verses in Luke. In Jewish tradition, these words Migdal Eder, or Tower of the Flock is associated with the coming of the Messiah, and this is based on two passages in the Bible, Genesis 35:21 & Micah 4:8. It’s mention in Genesis 35:21 is right after the death of Rachel after she gave birth to Benjamin, when Jacob who is here named Israel, is said to have journeyed on and pitched his tent beyond Migdal Eder. But see what the Targum of Jerusalem, the Aramaic translation of the Hebrew Scriptures which was completed before the coming of Jesus, says. It is something quite surprising. See how they translated Genesis 35:21: Jacob journeyed on and pitched his tent beyond the Tower of the Flock, Migdal-Eder, the place from which the King Messiah will reveal himself at the end of days. How did they know this? There was a tradition that the Messiah would be revealed there, the place where the shepherds received the revelation of the Shekinah Glory. This tradition is based on another passage of the Bible, the one where Micah tells us that the Messiah will be born in Bethlehem. In Micah 4:8 we read, As for you, Migdal Eder, tower of the flock, hill of the daughter of Zion, to you it will come. Even the former dominion will come, the kingdom of the daughter of Jerusalem.
Micah says that from this place, Migdal Eder, will arise the salvation from Israel and the Davidic Kingdom, and this is how the rabbis of old understood this verse. So much so that the Targum of Micah translates this verse by saying: And you, O Messiah of Israel, וְאַת מְשִיחָא דְיִשרָאֵל who have been hidden away because of the sins of the congregation of Zion, the kingdom shall come to you, and the former dominion shall be restored to the kingdom of the congregation of Jerusalem. Here we are told that the Messiah of Israel, who was hidden because of the sins of Israel, will reappear first in Migdal Eder and so He did to the shepherds. This place was noted in the Hebrew Scriptures even before the rise of rabbinical Judaism. Is it not wonderful that there are so many prophecies and signs which announced the nativity of the Messiah? We can see that Yeshua should not be a surprise to anyone who is acquainted with the Scriptures.