QUESTION #3: What is the connection between Hanukkah and Christmas?
Dr. Jimmy DeYoung:
“Normally Hanukkah and Christmas are happening at the exact same time. But because of the Jewish year only having 360 days, it varies in the time when it’s going to be observed on the Jewish calendar by the Jewish people. Now, it was Kislev 25, 168 BC, December the 25th, when it began, and three years to the day later, Kislev 25, December the 25th, 165 BC, when it was concluded, and the beginning of Hanukkah as the Maccabees went into the Temple to re-consecrate the Temple and light the Menorah.
Let me just drop back to the New Testament. That’s the Old Testament. That’s the book of Daniel, foretelling what Hanukkah would be all about. That would be Daniel chapter 11: 21-35. That would be a great passage to study as it relates to Hanukkah. It includes a prophecy that would take place, prophesied by Daniel 360 years before the fact of Hanukkah.
But when you go back to Luke chapter 1, you’re going to find out what month of the year Jesus Christ was born in, and then when we go back to Hanukkah, what day of that month. Many people are so concerned about when Christmas really took place. Most preachers, you’ll hear them in the pulpits on the time around Christmas, say, “It wasn’t December. It’s too cold for those little shepherd boys to be out there in the Shepherd’s Fields in Bethlehem watching their sheep.” I’ve lived for over twenty-five years in Jerusalem. We lived at the area where from my apartment, I could see the Shepherd’s Fields and on the other side of the apartment, I could see the Mount of Olives. The First Coming of Jesus Christ and the Second Coming of Jesus Christ, in view from my apartment.
When you go back to Luke and Matthew chapters 1 and 2, chapters 1 and 2 of Luke are the details behind the Christmas story itself, 168 verses of excitement to understand truly how the Christmas, the first one did take place. In verse 5 of Luke chapter 1, it talks about a priest that would serve in the Temple. His name was Zacharias. He was married to Elizabeth. They were both of the tribe of Levi. That was their family, and it says in verse 5 that Zacharias had a responsibility to do his priestly duties at the Temple. They didn’t work all 360 days of the Jewish year. They would work on the high holy days and then special days. And he would serve, it tells us in I Chronicles, and that’s chapter 24 when King David set forth the management of the priests, 28,000 of them, not going to work everyday, so you’ll work a two day period, King David laid it out.
And it says here in verse 5 of Luke chapter 1, “In the course of Abia…” Now you can go back and find Abia. You can go and find additional scholars that tell us that would have been the last week of July, the first week of August. And as you continue to read the narrative here in Luke chapter 1, you see that after he served his duties, he had some administrations to take care of in addition to his priestly duties. I would guess probably about 3 weeks, 21 days. So ultimately, if he served the last week of July, first week of August, he would get back to Ephrata where he lived with Elizabeth on the first of September. Remember, Gabriel, the archangel had showed up and said to Zacharias, who was old in age, they had no children, and the angel Gabriel, the archangel said, “You’re going to have a child. I want you to name him John.” Well, you know, Zacharias wasn’t so sure about that. Of course, then Gabriel made him dumb. Not dumb stupid, but dumb can’t talk.
Anyway, he goes home. He impregnates his wife in September. Now think with me just a moment. When you go to verse 27, it says a virgin living in Nazareth would be approached by the angel Gabriel in the sixth month of whose activity? That would be Elizabeth’s pregnancy. So, if she’s impregnated September, October, November, December, January, February, March, that’s the six months. Then the angel Gabriel shows up to Mary. That will be the time that you’re going to see the Holy Spirit who would impregnate Mary to bring forth the Messiah. That was in March. April, May, June, July, August, September, October, November, and then the ninth month, December.
So, the shepherds were in the fields in December when Jesus was born, and by the way those weren’t little shepherd boys out in those fields. Those were all priests, everyone of them thirty years of age. The reason was, do you remember the Shepherd’s Fields, or maybe you didn’t know this, were only three and a half miles from the Temple. All the sheep that were raised in the Shepherd’s Field were destined to go to the Temple to be sacrificial lambs. You see, the Shepherd’s Fields were the holding pens for the sacrificial lambs. So…you’ve got holding pens for the sacrificial lambs in December some 2,000 years ago, and the 25th comes from Hanukkah, the Feast of Lights, the Light of the World, Jesus Christ. The early church decided December the 25th, December’s absolute. I believe as you study Hanukkah and realize the significance of the 25th day of December, you see it was December the 25th that our Messiah Jesus Christ was born 2,000 years ago.”
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