Posts Tagged ‘Saturnalia’

Revelation Chapter 11 – Two Witnesses

 “I was given a measuring rod like a stick and told, “Get up, and measure the Temple of God and the altar, and count how many people are worshiping there! But the court outside the Temple, leave that out; don’t measure it; because it has been given to the Goyim, and they will trample over the holy city for forty-two months” (Revelation 11:1-2).

Yochanan is giving a measuring stick and told to measure the Millennial Temple and the Altar. Specific measurements for the Temple are revealed by the prophet Ezekiel. He measures the thickness of the walls, the gates, the gate entrances, the guard rooms, the courtyard, and the sanctuary, and the Most Holy Place (Ezekiel 42). He is also given the dimensions of the Altar:

“These are the measurements of the altar in cubits (a cubit here is defined as a normal cubit [eighteen inches] plus a handbreadth [three inches]): the base, one cubit [twenty-one inches] deep and one cubit wide; with the molding surrounding it at its rim about a hand-span [nine inches] in width. The height of the altar is thus: from the base on the ground to the lower ledge, three-and-a-half feet, with the width twenty-one inches; from the lower ledge to the upper ledge, seven feet, with the width again twenty-one inches. The hearth measures seven feet [high], with four horns on top of the hearth. The hearth is a square twenty-one feet on each of its four sides. The ledge measures a square twenty-four-and-a-half feet on each of its four sides; the molding around it ten-and-a-half inches [across]; and its base twenty-one inches [larger than the rest, all the way] around. Its steps face east” (Ezekiel 43:13-17).

Many believe, contrary to Biblical evidence, the sacrifices ended when Yeshua died on the cross. Many years after Yeshua’s resurrection, Sha’ul took a Nazarite vow that included a Temple offering (Acts 21:26). The sacrifices and offerings ended when the Temple was destroyed in 70 CE. When any Temple is rebuilt, the offerings and sacrifices will resume.

There will be people at the Altar worshiping Adonai in this manner. Ezekiel is also told to count the number of people worshiping in the area.

The courtyard outside the Millennial Temple will not be measured because the goyim will trample it for 42 months or 3 1/2 years. Goyim is translated into gentiles, however, the word can also mean pagans. The Hebrew word ‘trample’ is ramas and means ‘oppression.’

During the 42 months, the gentiles will oppress the outer court. According to Webster’s Dictionary, ‘oppress’ means ‘to spiritually burden, to crush by abuse of power or authority.’ During the second Temple period, the women of Isra’el gathered in the outer court. Whether or not the outer court will be the gathering place for the nations or women of Isra’el, it will be an oppressive place and pagans will destroy it (Ezekiel 44:9).

“Also I will give power to my two witnesses; and they will prophesy for 1,260 days, dressed in sackcloth.” These are the two olive trees and the two menorahs standing before the Lord of the earth. If anyone tries to do them harm, fire comes out of their mouth and consumes their enemies — yes, if anyone tries to harm them, that is how he must die. They have the authority to shut up the sky, so that no rain falls during the period of their prophesying; also they have the authority to turn the waters into blood and to strike the earth with every kind of plague as often as they want” (Revelation 11:3-6).

There are several thoughts on the identity of the two witnesses. Some believe the two witnesses cannot be individual people because it seems impossible that they could affect the entire world with their life and death. With technology, a global government, religion, and economic system could focus on two individuals who challenge their authority. They suggest a corporate witness of Jew and Gentile, the ‘one new man,’ but the two witnesses wear sackcloth. The modern-day ‘seal’ for the State of Isra’el is a Menorah with an olive tree on each side which could represent the Jews, but according to the ‘signs in the heavens,’ Isra’el will be in the desert during the days of the witnesses.

The two witnesses are identified by the prophet Zechariah as ‘two olive trees’ and ‘two menorahs’ that stand before Adonai (Zechariah 4:14). Zechariah asks about the two olive trees on the right and left of the menorah that poured gold-colored oil through two gold spouts. An angel explains that these are two witnesses, highly anointed individuals, who have a direct spiritual connection to the ‘Lord of all the land.’ Their power comes from Adonai and fire comes from their mouths consuming their enemies. they have the power to stop rain; they can turn water into blood; they can strike the world with plagues.

Elijah had the power to stop rain from falling on Isra’el alluding to one of the witnesses being Elijah. Elijah never died but was taken to heaven in a fiery chariot (Hebrews 9:27).

Moshe had the power to turn water into blood and to bring forth plagues upon Egypt. Though Moshe died and was buried in Moab, his grave has never been revealed by Elohim.

Moshe and Elijah were with Yeshua on the Mount of Transfiguration. At that time, the disciples believed that Yeshua was restoring the Kingdom and asked if they could put up sukkot for each of them (Matthew 17:1-9). The fact that these two men appeared with Yeshua may suggest that they are the two witnesses who prophesy for 1,260 days.

Enoch like Elijah didn’t die. He was so righteous that he walked with Elohim until He took Him into the heavens (Genesis 5:24). Enoch lived before the flood and would have a testimony of a pre-flood earth while Elijah prophesied in a post-flood earth and Israel.

Translating the Hebrew from Zechariah 4:14, the words read, “these are two sons of fresh oil.” ‘Fresh oil’ was used to anoint high priests and kings. The high priest referred to in Zechariah is Yoshua and the the prince is Zerubbabel.

Yoshua was the first high priest after the Jewish exiles returned from Persia. He descended from the priestly lineage of Levi and Aaron. In Zechariah chapter 3, he stands before the angel of Elohim (Yeshua), and the Accuser. Yoshua represents the filthiness of Isra’el’s guilt. Yeshua removes Yoshua’s dung-soiled clothes and replaces them with a clean turban and rich garments. A stone is placed before him representing ‘the Branch’ that has ‘seven eyes’ or the seven-branched menorah. In Hebrew, the word ‘branch’ is netzer. From netzer comes Nazareth and Nazarene.

“This message from Adonai came to me: ‘The hands of Z’rubavel have laid the foundation of this house, and his hands will also finish it’ (Zechariah 4:8-9).

Zerrubabel returned from Persia with Yoshua. His grandfather, Shealtiel, was the last king of Judah before the Jews were exiled. Zerubbabel became the first king of the re-established city of Jerusalem and the province of Judea. As a descendant of Judah, he was of royal lineage like King David. The name Zerubbabel means ‘pressed out like an olive of Babel.’ Haggai prophesies about ‘the Day’ when Zerubbabel will be Adonai’s ‘signet ring’ and his authority will be ‘not by might, nor by power, but by the Spirit of Adonai (Haggai 2:23).

These two witnesses representing the High Priest and King of Judah always occur together in Scripture. If they are the two witnesses during the first 3 1/2 years of Tribulation, they will be stand prophesying about the filthiness and guilt of Isra’el as they worship in a false Temple, with a false messiah, and a false prophet who performs ‘miracles.’

“When they finish their witnessing, the beast coming up out of the Abyss will fight against them, overcome them and kill them; and their dead bodies will lie in the main street of the great city whose name, to reflect its spiritual condition, is “S’dom” and “Egypt” — the city where their Lord was executed on a stake. Some from the nations, tribes, languages and peoples see their bodies for three-and-a-half days and do not permit the corpses to be placed in a tomb. The people living in the Land rejoice over them, they celebrate and send each other gifts, because these two prophets tormented them so” (Revelation 11:7-10).

When the two witnesses finish their ordained time of judgment, the ‘beast’ comes up out of the Abyss and fights against them. He is given power to overcome them and kill them. Their dead bodies will lie on the main street of Jerusalem. Because of the spiritual condition of Jerusalem, it is referred to as Sodom and Egypt.

Sodom was known for its blatant sin of sexual immorality –– homosexuality –– in the days of Abraham and Lot. The prophet Ezekiel expounded on the crimes of Sodom: pride, gluttony, and arrogance. She and her ‘daughters’ were careless and complacent; they did nothing to help the poor and needy (Ezekiel 16:49). This will be the spiritual condition of Jerusalem: rampant homosexuality, pride, excess in eating and drinking, and an offensive display of superiority.

Egypt held Isra’el enslaved for hundreds of years. Through the mighty Hand of Ehyeh Asher Ehyeh, He sent judgment plagues against false gods to humble Egypt. Only after the ‘death of the firstborn’ were the Hebrews set free to become His treasured possession.

The bodies of the two witnesses lay in the street for 3 1/2 days, and no one allows their bodies to be buried. The nations, tribes, and tongues will see the dead bodies via some technology that may or may not exist now.

There are two places to ‘dwell’ in Scripture. One can ‘dwell’ in the Kingdom of Elohim or one can ‘dwell’ on earth. A ‘Kingdom-dweller’ focuses on the spiritual things of Elohim, walking in the Spirit and Truth. ‘Kingdom-dwellers’ are in the world, but not of the world. ‘Earth-dwellers’ are carnal people who focus on their fleshly desires – lust of the flesh, lust of the eyes, and pride of life – and what is happening in their earth world. They are not just in the world; they are of the world (1 John 2:15-16).

The earth-dwellers rejoice over the death of these two witnesses. They will be so happy and relieved that they will exchange gifts. As ‘earth dwellers,’ I have often ‘wondered’ that perhaps this gift-giving celebration will happen around Saturnalia. As Isra’el continues to accept ‘freedom of religion’ in the Land, multiple religions with their idolatrous practices have the liberty to worship whatever gods they choose.

From the reaction of Isra’el and the world, these two witnesses did not preach a message of political correctness or social justice. The ‘earth-dwellers’ wanted these prophets dead. They didn’t just annoy, they tormented people: spiritually and emotionally. The Greek word for ‘torment’ means ‘torture’ or ‘vex with grievous pains.’ After 3 1/2 years of their endless vexing, the two witnesses are killed by the ‘beast’ that comes up from the Abyss, and the people celebrate.

“But after the three-and-a-half days a breath of life from God entered them, they stood up on their feet, and great fear fell on those who saw them. Then the two heard a loud voice from heaven saying to them, “Come up here!” And they went up into heaven in a cloud, while their enemies watched them. In that hour there was a great earthquake, and a tenth of the city collapsed. Seven thousand people were killed in the earthquake, and the rest were awestruck and gave glory to the God of heaven.”

The celebration parties go on for 3 1/2 days, but after 3 1/2 days, the two witnesses stand up on their feet. They are resurrected from the dead. This astounding event elicits great fear to those who watch the breath of Adonai bring these two men back to life. Then, a loud voice from heaven calls to them and they rise up to the heavens in a cloud –– in the sight of all of their enemies.

When Yeshua ascended into heaven, he was enveloped in a cloud (Acts 1:9). Forty days earlier at Yeshua’s death, many holy people were resurrected and wandered around Jerusalem (Matthew 27:53). These faithful men and women, the firstfruits, who attained the goal of the resurrection of the dead became the great ‘cloud’ of witnesses (Hebrews 12:1). This great cloud of faithful redeemed envelops these two men carrying them into glory.

“The second woe has passed; see, the third woe is coming quickly” (Revelation 11:14).

The second woe has passed. The Hebrew word for ‘woe’ is oy and means ‘an impassioned expression of grief and despair.’ For the earth-dwellers, a third ‘expression of grief and despair’ will come quickly.

The seventh angel sounded his shofar; and there were loud voices in heaven, saying, “The kingdom of the world has become the Kingdom of our Lord and his Messiah, and he will rule forever and ever! (Revelation 11:15).

The seventh messenger sounds his shofar and loud voices proclaim that the kingdom of the world has become the Kingdom of Yeshua –– the Messianic Era has arrived. The Tribulation is either the last seven years of this world kingdom or the beginning seven years of Yeshua’s reign. If the later, he must come to cleanup the world before taking his throne in Jerusalem. The Kingdom of Messiah arrives before the third ‘woe.’

“The twenty-four elders sitting on their thrones in God’s presence fell on their faces and worshiped God, saying, “We thank you, Adonai, God of heaven’s armies, the One who is and was, that you have taken your power and have begun to rule. The Goyim raged. But now your rage has come, the time for the dead to be judged, the time for rewarding your servants the prophets and your holy people, those who stand in awe of your name, both small and great. It is also the time for destroying those who destroy the earth(Revelation 11:16-18).

The twenty-four elders, the leaders of the priestly orders, sit on their thrones in the heavenly Sanctuary. They fall on their faces and worship the One who is and was. They thank Adonai, the Elohim of heaven’s armies for taking His power back so He could begin to rule and reign again on earth.

The nations raged.

“Why are the nations in an uproar, the peoples grumbling in vain? The earth’s kings are taking positions, leaders conspiring together, against Adonai and his anointed. They cry, “Let’s break their fetters! Let’s throw off their chains!”

Yeshua rages.

He who sits in heaven laughs; Adonai looks at them in derision. Then in his anger he rebukes them, terrifies them in his fury. I myself have installed my king on Tziyon, my holy mountain” (Psalm 2:1-6).

The time has come to destroy those who destroy the earth. The time has come for Yeshua to judge the dead and reward the prophets and his holy people who stand in awe of his name –– both small and great people. The Greek word for ‘awe’ is phobeo and means ‘to terrify’ and ‘to frighten.’ In Hebrew the word means ‘to love and fear.’ The name of Adonai when revealed in its fullness will be loved and feared by those who serve Him.

King Solomon asks: “Do you know His name and the name of His son?” (Proverb 30:4).

For many millennia, the spoken name of yod-hey-vav-hey has remained a mystery. The Levitical priesthood decided that the name of ‘I Am’ should only be spoken on Yom Kippur and then only by the High Priest. After the destruction of two Temples in Jerusalem, the pronunciation of the name of Elohim has been lost, created, perverted, and changed. Yet, yod-hey-vav-hey is His Memorial Name forever.

Hebrew Word Pictures

Ehyeh Asher Ehyeh – יהוה

י Yod – A Closed Hand means ‘finished work.’

ה Hey – A Window means ‘reveal’ or ‘behold.’

ו Vav – A Nail means ‘binding.’

ה Hey – A Window means ‘reveal’ or ‘behold.’

The Hebrew Word Picture for yod-hey-vav-hey/yahweh: finished work revealed in the binding nails, behold.

The name of Adonai’s Son has also been changed from the Hebrew name given to Miriam and Yosef to an Anglicized form of Latin that is spoken in English. The ‘name above all names’ has lost its Jewish identity, culture, and language. Standing in ‘awe of His name’ means to know His name.

Yeshua – ישוע

י Yod – A Closed Hand means ‘finished work.’

ש Shin – A Tooth means ‘consume’ or ‘destroy.’

ו Vav – A Nail means ‘binding.’

ע Ayin – An Eye means ‘see’ or ‘understand.’

The Hebrew Word Picture for yeshua: finished work destroys the binding, see and understand.

Then the Temple of God in heaven was opened, and the Ark of the Covenant was seen in his Temple; and there were flashes of lightning, voices, peals of thunder, an earthquake and violent hail” (Revelation 11:19).

When Moshe was given the design for the Menorah, he was told to make it from what he saw on the mountain because everything in the earthly Tabernacle was a shadow of the Heavenly Sanctuary. The Ark of the Covenant, the Throne of Ehyeh Asher Ehyeh is seen. Flashes of lightning, voices, thunder, violent hail and an earthquake accompanies the revealing of the Ark of Adonai’s Throne.

When Adonai wanted to meet with the Israelites, He descended on the mountain with thunder, lightning, smoke, and the blast of the shofar. The people standing at the bottom of the mountain only received a glimpse at the heavenly Throne and it caused them to tremble (Exodus 19:16, 20:15). Lightning is released with the thundering of ‘I Am’s’ majestic voices that sounds like a roar –– the roar of the Lion of Y’hudah (Job 37:4).

“The lion has roared. Who will not fear? Adonai, God, has spoken. Who will not prophesy?” (Amos 3:8).

Chapter 12 – The Birth and The Dragon

©2020 Tentstake Ministries Publishing, all rights reserved.  No copying or reproducing of this article without crediting the author or Tentstake Ministries Publishing.

Io Saturnalia!

The traditional greeting at a Saturnalia celebration is, “Io, Saturnalia!”, with the “Io” being pronounced as “Yo.” So next time someone wishes you a happy holiday, feel free to respond with “Io, Saturnalia!” After all, if you lived in Roman times, Saturn, not Jesus was the reason for the season!

What is wrong with us?  Why are we so fanatical?  Why don’t we celebrate Christmas?  Why do we not see the whole pagan history as some crazy myth?   Years ago while researching the roots of Christmas, we stumbled across the following poem.  It deeply affected us because we wanted no part in keeping alive a pagan god’s festival.   The Spirit of Elohim convicted us of any further participation in the holiday and the season.  To those who would scoff,  the very next year we received our first Saturnalia card.

Saturnalia

by Selena Fox

It is the middle of December

The nights are long the weather is colder, winter comes.

Celebration is at hand.

Renewing bonds of friendship.

Visiting with family and friends.

Exchanging gifts with loved ones.

Candles, Dolls, Cookies, Sweets, Holly, Wreaths of Green.

Surprises.

Courts close.  Battles stop.

Time off from school and work.

Holiday break.

Singing, Dancing, Games, Merry-Making.

Food … Lots of Food and Drink.

Great Feasts and Parties.

To celebrate the Sun, the Land, the Ancient Ones, the great Circle of Nature.

To welcome in the Winter and the New Year.

To bring forth renewal, peace, and joy.

Solstice Present … Solstice Past.

This is the legacy of Saturnalia.

Weeklong Pagan Winter Solstice Festival of Ancient Rome.

Saturnalia, your spirit and these traditions live on

in the world today

in Christmas feasts and New Year’s parties,

in our Winter Solstice celebration tonight.

Bless our connection with the ancients.

Bless our connection with each other.

Bless our connection with future generations.

We rejoice.

Io, Saturnalia!

Io, Saturnalia!

Io, Saturnalia!

Selena first publicly shared this poem on Solstice night 1994 during Circle’s public Winter Solstice Celebration in Madison, Wisconsin.

Contents © 1998-2010 by Circle Sanctuary. All rights reserved worldwide.

For more information on Circle Sanctuary and Selena Fox:  http://www.circlesanctuary.org/

The Spirit of Christmas

“Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.” “This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Messiah Yeshua has come in the flesh is from God, but every spirit that does not acknowledge Yeshua is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming and even now is already in the world” (1 John 4:1-3).

What is the ‘spirit’ of Christmas? Many will respond with warm fuzzies like family and a sense of emotional well-being.  However, it is during the Christmas season that people incur huge debt and the rate of suicide escalates.  How does a ‘spirit’ of emotional well-being breed debt and death?

The ‘spirit’ of Christmas began in Mesopotamia with the worship of the god, Marduk. In Persia, the worship of Marduk became the worship of Mithra –– just a cultural name change. The centuries passed and the ‘spirit’ put its roots down in Rome as Saturn and the holiday of Saturnalia. Saturnalia became the Celts’ Yuletide and Scandinavia’s ‘Prodigal Sun.’

“For how many years shall this festival abide! Never shall age destroy so holy a day!  While the hills of Latium remain and father Tiber, while thy Rome stands and the Capitol thou has restored to the world, it [Saturnalia]  shall continue.”

Saturnalia was originally celebrated for one day on December 17, but it grew into a week-long spectacle of flesh pleasures culminating on December 24. Saturnalia began by dedicating Saturn’s temple through human sacrifices, especially children. Saturn was also known as the Greek god, Kronos, who ate small children. He is also called ‘Father Time’ and looks similar to Santa Claus. Could this be why small children fear Santa? Could this be why so many people take their lives at this time?  Could it be they are the human sacrifices that the ‘spirit’ of Saturnalia requires?

After the human sacrifices were completed, the week-long festivities would begin with people shouting, “Io, Saturnalia!” Huge public banquets were prepared. Cookies cutouts were made with simple face shapes. People would eat,  drink, and be merry.  It was a time for friends and relatives to exchange gifts, especially wax candles and little dolls. Slaves would be set free and wore peaked woolen caps, similar to Santa hats, that symbolized their week-long freedom.

Saturnalia decorations involved greenery, swathes, garlands, and wreaths hung over doorways and windows. Sigillaria or figurines made of clay were hung on the bows of pine trees. A Saturnalia tree was common in Egypt and Rome long before Christianity incorporated it into Christmas observance. In Egypt, a palm tree honored Baal-Tamuz (Ezekiel 8:14).  In Rome,  the fir tree honored the same god, but was known as Baal-Berith.  From a branch of these tree, the yule log came into being. Trees were not cut down and brought inside, but remained outside where they were decorated with sunbursts, stars, and the face of the God Janus.

The Sol Invictus, the god of the sun, was the premier god worshipped in the Roman Empire. The Emperor Aurelian made Sol Invictus the official religion of the empire and combined it with their other gods: Jupiter Apollo, and Sylvanus. The image of the Sol Invictus appeared on coins minted by Constantine in spite of his ‘conversion’ to Christianity. After the week-long celebration of Saturnalia and the end of the solstice, December 25 became known as the ‘Birthday of the Sun.’  

In the fourth century, the Roman church united all religions and their multiple gods to create a‘universal, all-encompassing religious system.   Pagan gods and their religious observances were re-named. Saturnalia became the Christ Mass.

The word ‘mass’ comes from the Latin word missa meaning ‘death sacrifice.‘ How ironic that the birth date of Jesus Christ, believed and accepted for many centuries by the Christian church as December 25, is actually the death sacrifice part of Saturnalia.

Throughout the centuries, these pagan holidays and their pagan god worship traditions became deeply rooted into Christianity through Roman catholicism.   Even the Protestant Reformation did nothing to remove itself from the pagan god practices in which it was steeped.  Today, all Christian churches, no matter what denomination, embrace the root celebration of Saturnalia or the Christ Mass. Remember, Paul’s teaching? If the root is unholy, so are the branches.

Christians celebrate Saturnalia or Christmas while claiming to be anything but Roman catholic. Though they acknowledge the Reformation and breaking away from the Roman church, they continue to embrace Christmas traditions rooted in unholy Saturnalia practices.

In Mark chapter 7, Yeshua discusses the traditions of men versus the commands of God. He said that if a tradition nullified a command of God, it should not be followed because the commandments are greater than the traditions. One Christmas tradition, specifically mentioned by the prophet Jeremiah, completely nullifies a command of God.

“Hear what the LORD says to you, people of Israel.  This is what the LORD says: ‘Do not learn the ways of the nations … for the practices of the peoples are worthless.  They cut a tree out of the forest, and a craftsman shapes it with his chisel.  They adorn it with silver and gold; they fasten it with hammer and nails so it will not totter” (Jeremiah 10:1-4).

Some read these verses in Jeremiah and claim that cutting down a tree and adorning it with silver and gold has nothing to do with a Christmas tree.  They argue that they don’t shape it into an idol; however, what is the context? ‘Cutting down a tree’ is a way of the nations, something that Israel was not to embrace. When gentiles enter a covenant relationship with the God of Israel, they join the ‘Commonwealth of Israel’ and are to leave their pagan ways behind. Just like Israel, they are not to mix the holy things of God with the idolatries of the nations.

Of course, we don’t craft the ‘tree’ into a literal idol, but that’s because we’re either too busy or too lazy.  Then, there are fake or artificial trees, poles with branches fashioned to represent something on earth that God created.  This is called idolatry.

Whether cut down from the forest or not, the ‘tree’ is central to a holiday that was never meant to honor God or His Son. The ‘tree’ cannot stand on its own; it needs a stand.  Inside and outside homes, ‘trees’ are adorned with gold ornaments and silver icicles.  They are lit up with strings of lights.  On top of the ‘tree’ is the face of an angel or a star. Beneath it is the visual sacrifice of finances through extensive gift giving.

The ‘tree’ becomes the holy place in a home, central to the celebration of Christmas, and adored by those who erect it and those who visit. If you disagree, then I challenge you to remove the ‘tree’ from your holiday traditions. If you can’t or make justifications, then check your heart for idolatry.

The most common argument for having a ‘tree’ is that we can transform something pagan into something holy because we can sanctify it and give it to God. With this rationalization, the ‘tree’ begins to sound like a modern-day golden calf.

The Golden Calf

“When the people saw that Moses was so long in coming down from the mountain, they gathered around Aaron and said, ‘Come, make us a god who will go before us.  “Aaron answered them, ‘Take off the gold earrings that your wives, your sons and your daughters are wearing, and bring them to me.’  So all the people took off their earrings and brought them to Aaron.  He took what they handed him and made it into an idol cast in the shape of a calf, fashioning it with a tool.  Then they said, ‘‘Here is your god, Israel, who brought you up out of Egypt.’

“When Aaron saw this,  he built an altar in front of the calf and announced, ‘Tomorrow there will be a festival to the LORD’” (Exodus 32:1-4).

This passage about the infamous golden calf has several important details. First, Aaron who was chosen as a spiritual leader of Israel guides the people into worshiping a false god.  They had no excuse for listening to Aaron.  They had just been miraculously set free from slavery in Egypt. They had witnessed the destruction of Egypt’s gods by the power of Ehyeh Asher Ehyeh. Yet, with their new-found freedom, they did not listen to God, they listened to man.

We are to be like the Bereans and make sure that what our leaders have been taught and subsequently teach us to do lines up with God’s Word (Acts 17:11). The Israelites already had their encounter with God at the foot of Mount Sinai.  They had experienced His presence and heard His Words, but they didn’t test Aaron’s words with God’s Word.

“I AM the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.  You shall have no other gods before me” (Exodus 20:1-2).

Second, Aaron cast an image; he created an idol.   The image was of a calf, an animal worshiped in Egypt and judged with one of the plagues. After being enslaved, the Israelites forgot the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. They had absorbed the idolatry of other gods. They knew they had been brought to the mountain to worship Ehyeh Asher Ehyeh, yet they had no idea how to do that.

While Moses was on the mountain receiving the details for worshiping God, they became impatient. They returned to what was familiar while they were enslaved. They embraced idol worship.  There was so much immoral revelry, dancing and celebration around the golden calf that Moses had to ask Aaron, “What did these people do to you, that you led them into such great sin?” (Exodus 32:21)

Third, and most importantly, Aaron built an altar and dedicated the golden calf to the God of Israel.  He took a pagan idol and sanctified it to Ehyeh Asher Ehyeh and even set an ‘appointed time’ to worship it. God did not look at the intention of anyone’s heart; He struck the people with a plague and many died (Exodus 32:35). 

What had they done?  They took a man-made image, an idol, and then tried to redeem it to honor the Living God. They mixed the holy and the profane, the hot and the cold, and became lukewarm.

Moses took the calf and melted it in the fire.  He scattered its powder on the Israelites’ water. He made them drink the contaminated water, non-living water. This is the same water you drink, water contaminated with the remains of pagan gods, when you mix the holy and the pagan.

Today many Christians want the world to put ‘Christ’ back into Christmas. They fight to sanctify something that came from pagan roots. In the ears of God, their voices sound much like that of Aaron and the Israelites declaring a festival to God with the idol of a false god.

The Jewish Messiah was never in the Christ Mass. It is a massive deception created by a false priesthood and has turned many away from the God of Israel into worshiping an abomination from the nations. Generations of Roman catholics accepted this pagan-rooted festival because the Word of God was not available to them. Today, however, there is no excuse for anyone.  Everyone, in every language, has access to the Scriptures. “To whom much is given, much is required” (Luke 12:48).

Several years ago, I came across a poem about Saturnalia.  Even though our family had stopped celebrating the Christ Mass, the words in the poem still shocked me. There are those who are alive and well on planet earth who continue to worship Saturn and celebrate Saturnalia –– the ‘spirit’ of Christmas. The poem thanks Christians for keeping their pagan holiday alive for millennia! This pagan holiday became even more real when we received a “Happy Saturnalia” card from non-believing friends.

“Saturnalia,” by Selena Fox

It is the middle of December. The nights are long, the weather is colder, winter comes. Celebration is at hand. Renewing bonds of friendship. Visiting with family and friends. Exchanging gifts with loved ones. Candles, Dolls, Cookies, Sweets, Holly, Wreaths of Green. Surprises. Courts close.  Battles stop. Time off from school and work. Holiday break. Singing, Dancing, Games, Merry-Making. Food … Lots of Food and Drink. Great Feasts and Parties.

To celebrate the Sun, the Land, the Ancient Ones, the great Circle of Nature. To welcome in the Winter and the New Year. To bring forth renewal, peace, and joy.  Solstice Present … Solstice Past. This is the legacy of Saturnalia. Weeklong Pagan Winter Solstice Festival of Ancient Rome.

Saturnalia, your spirit and these traditions live on in the world today in Christmas feasts and New Year’s parties, in our Winter Solstice celebration tonight. Bless our connection with the ancients. Bless our connection with each other. Bless our connection with future generations. We rejoice.

Io, Saturnalia! Io, Saturnalia! Io, Saturnalia!

Selena first publicly shared this poem on Solstice night 1994 during Circle’s public Winter Solstice Celebration in Madison, Wisconsin. Contents©1998-2010 by Circle Sanctuary. All rights reserved worldwide.

Several years ago, I came across the poem above regarding Saturnalia.  Even though our family had stopped celebrating Christmas, the shock of the words in the poem brought a different light to the whole celebration.  There are those who are alive and well on planet earth who worship Saturn and celebrate Saturnalia. Notice the poem thanks Christianity for keeping their pagan holiday alive for millennia! The reality of this holiday became even more clear when that particular year we received a “Happy Saturnalia” card from friends.

©2010 Tentstake Ministries Publishing, all rights reserved.  No copying or reproducing of this article without crediting the author or Tentstake Ministries Publishing. For a hard copy of this article,  please purchase Journey with Jeremiah: Nourishment for the Wild Olive.  

When was Jesus born?

“For to us a child is born,  to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the greatness of his government and peace  there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever.  The zeal of the Lord Almighty  will accomplish this” (Isaiah 9:6-7).

Sukkah

Most Christians acknowledge that Jesus was not born on December 25 in the middle of winter. Yet few realize that his birth is outlined in the Bible if they could unravel some of the clues given to them in the gospels that refer back to the Hebrew Scriptures. The account of the ‘reason for the season’ begins in the book of Luke chapter 1 when Zechariah was in the Temple burning incense to God. The time of his Temple service is the key to understanding when of the birth of his son, John, took place as well as the birth of Jesus (Yeshua).

1.  Zechariah is a Levite priest in of the lineage of Abijah, a descendant of Aaron (Luke 1:5, Numbers 3:2).

“In the time of Herod king of Judea there was a priest named Zechariah, who belonged to the priestly division of Abijah; his wife Elizabeth was also a descendant of Aaron” (Luke 1:5).

2. All Levitical priests, including Zechariah, were required by God to serve in the Temple during Passover (Pesach), Pentecost (Shavuot), and Tabernacles (Sukkot) as well as two weeks extra per year according to their family lineage (Deuteronomy 16:16).

“Three times a year all your men must appear before YHVH your God at the place he will  choose:  at the Feast of Unleavened Bread, the Feast of Weeks (Shavuot) and the Feast of Tabernacles” (Deuteronomy 16:16).

3.  Abjiah was eighth in line for Temple duties. This means that as a descendant of Abijah,  Zechariah is eighth in line for his Temple duties (1 Chronicles 24:10).

“With the help of Zadok, David separated them [the descendants of Aaron] into divisions for their appointed order of ministering. The first lot fell to Jehoiarib…the eighth to Abijah. This was their appointed order of ministering when they entered the Temple of  the LORD according to the regulations prescribed for them” (Numbers 1:1-19).

4. Zechariah serves in the Temple during the week of Passover and Unleavened Bread  as part of his required Temple service.

The Biblical calendar is not the same as the Julian/Gregorian calendar we use today. Passover comes in March/April, the Feast of Weeks (Pentecost) in June, the Feast of Tabernacles in September/October. The Scriptures utilize a Biblical calendar beginning with the first month in spring at the time of Passover (Exodus 12:2).

Zechariah would have served in the spring for Passover/Unleavened Bread. After Passover, he would have returned home until his lineage service began –– eight weeks or about 50 days later.

5.  Zechariah returns to the Temple for his two week duties as part of the lineage of Abijah.  This would have fallen in mid-June during the Feast of Weeks or Shavuot (Pentecost). 

Altar of Incense

6.   An angel of Adonai appears to Zechariah while he is at the Altar of Incense.

As a descendant of Aaron, he would have ministered in the Most Holy Place. It is at the Altar of Incense that intercessory prayer is made by the priesthood. The angel of Adonai met Zechariah at this specific place and time. He told him he was going to have a son who he was to name John. Because of his unbelief, Zechariah is made mute by the angel until the time of his son’s birth.

“Your prayers have been heard.  Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you are to give him the name John”  (Luke 1:13).

7.   Zechariah returns home after his Temple service. He and Elizabeth conceive a child.  Elizabeth remains in seclusion for five months.

“When his time of service was completed, he returned home.  After this his wife Elizabeth became pregnant and for five months remained in seclusion” (Luke 1:23-24).

8.  One month later, “When Elizabeth was in her sixth month,” the angel Gabriel visits Mary (Luke 1:26).

Angel Visits Mary

Some people question whether this was the sixth month of the year or the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy. With the wording of Elizabeth being in seclusion for five months and then”in the sixth month,” it suggests that the months are contiguous and based on Elizabeth’s pregnancy. Also, the angel tells Mary, “Even Elizabeth your relative is in her fifth month,” giving witness to the timing of the angel’s visit (Luke 1:36).

9.  Mary conceives a child by the Holy Spirit and immediately goes to visit Elizabeth.

“At that time Mary got ready and hurried to a town in the hill country of Judea, where she entered Zechariah’s home and greeted Elizabeth” (Luke 1:39).

Elizabeth’s baby leaps in her womb

When Mary greets her cousin, the baby in Elizabeth’s womb leaps. According to the time period given for Elizabeth’s seclusion, was probably the first contact she had with another woman, and maybe even the first time she felt the movement of her child. It is apparent that her unborn son knew the blessing of the Spirit of God on Mary. The meeting of these two pregnant women had such profound significance that Luke recorded it with the details. Elizabeth’s baby leaps for joy in the womb recognizing the newly conceived Messiah of Israel.

“As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy”  (Luke 1:44).

mid-to-late December. The Feast of Dedication or Hanukkah occurs at this time as a memorial to the re-dedication of the Temple after it was defiled by the Greeks. It is also known as the Festival of Lights because the Menorah was once again lit after the desecration. It was during Hanukkah, the days of dedication, that the Spirit of God came upon Mary and she conceived Immanuel, God with us, the Light of the World.

Mary’s song in Luke 1:46-55 not only has prophetic significance about her baby, but is a powerful declaration of humble ‘dedication‘ regarding the ‘light of the world.’

“My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant. From now on all generations will call me blessed, for the Mighty One has done great things for me — holy is his name” (Verses 46-49).

10. Mary stays with Elizabeth for about three months.

“Mary stayed with Elizabeth for about three months and then returned home. When it was time for Elizabeth to have her baby, she gave birth to a son” (Luke 1:56-57).

Mary returns to Nazareth very close to the time Elizabeth would deliver her baby. The timing for the birth of Elizabeth’s baby would be mid-March/April or near Passover. 

11.  On the eighth day after the baby’s birth, he is circumcised and named.

Continuing with the Biblical timeline, Zechariah’s son would have been born right before Passover. This means that Zechariah would have gone to the Temple for his regular service at Passover. At that time, he names his son, John, in the presence of astonished people. This is the first time he has spoken since the angel visited him months before at the Altar of Incense on Shavuot nine months earlier.

“At that moment, his power of speech returned, and his first words were a b’rakhah [blessing] to God” (Luke 1:64).

12. From the information given about the conceptions and pregnancies of Mary and Elizabeth, it can be calculated that John and Yeshua are born six months apart.

Six months after Passover in the spring (March/April) would be the fall (September/October), the time of the Feast of Tabernacles. The Feast of Tabernacles also falls approximately nine months after Hanukkah in December.

Because of the Roman census being taken by Caesar Augustus, Bethlehem was bustling with Jews from everywhere in Israel. All native born Israelites, specifically men, were required to live in booths or sukkot for the week of the Feast of Tabernacles. Women (and children) who were with their husbands filled all of the inns to capacity.

“Live in booths (sukkot) for seven days:  All native-born Israelites are to live in booths so your descendants will know that I had the Israelites live in booths when I brought them out of Egypt” (Leviticus 23:42).

13. Mary gives birth to a baby boy in a stable and lays him in a manger.

Under these crowded conditions, Joseph and Mary are given a ‘temporary dwelling,’ called a stable in most Bible translations, and Mary gives birth to her son. The baby was placed in a cattle feeding trough (Luke 2:4-7).

“And she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger (sukkah)” (Luke 2:6).

Yeshua in a Sukkah

According to the command in Leviticus 23, the Israelites were to live in a sukkah for seven days. Consistent with the rabbinical definition of a ‘temporary dwelling’ or sukkah, a stable would have been an acceptable dwelling. Because of the timing of Yeshua’s birth during the Feast of Tabernacles, many believe that it was not a literal stable, but a sukkah. The Greek word for ‘manger’ in Luke 2:7 is phatne and can mean ‘cattle stall’ or sukkoth like Jacob built for his livestock (Genesis 33:17). The Hebrew word for ‘manger’ is the singular sukkah.

Using this information along with the established timeline, Yeshua would have been born on the first day of the Feast of Tabernacles and would have lived with his parents in the sukkah for the first seven days of his life, until he was circumcised and named on the eighth day. Whatever the ‘temporary dwelling’ accommodations, Joseph fulfilled God’s requirement to live in a sukkah during the Feast of Tabernacles as did Yeshua, the firstborn son of God.

14.   The angels rejoice because “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us” (John 1:14, Luke 2:8-14).

The Greek word for ‘dwelling’ in this verse is skenoo and means ‘spread his tent’ among us. As a sukkah or ‘booth’ is a temporary dwelling like a tent, this verse could read, “The Word became flesh and ‘spread his tent’ among us” making a direct connection to Yeshua being born at the Feast of Tabernacles.

15.  On the first day of the Feast of Tabernacles, the priests in the Temple wave large branches of several different species of trees  in the Temple.

Palm, Willow, Erog, Myrtle

These branches are called lulavs and represent the different nations of the world. Hundreds of priests waving large branches from the willow, the palm and the myrtle, would have created an enormous sound like a ‘rushing wind’ as they walked toward the Temple. In Hebrew, the word for God’s Spirit is ruach and means ‘breath.’ As the priests were waving these tree branches, they were unaware of the birth of Yeshua. They had no idea that the salvation of Israel, through the ‘breath’ of God and a humble woman, had come to live in a little baby.

“So beginning with the fifteenth day of the seventh month celebrate a festival to the LORD for seven days. On the first day you are to take choice fruit from the trees, and palm fronds, leafy branches and poplars, and rejoice before the LORD  your God for seven days” (Leviticus 23:39-41).

16. There are shepherds in the hills outside of Jerusalem  (Luke 2:8-15).

“As for you, O watchtower of the flock, O stronghold of the Daughter of Zion, the former dominion will be restored to you; kingship will come to the Daughter of Jerusalem” (Micah 4:8).

Tower of the Flock

The shepherds in the hills near Bethlehem, a short distance from Jerusalem, were special shepherds. They camped at the Migdal Eder and raised the sheep for the Temple sacrifices. According to the prophecy in Micah, the Jewish people believed that the Messiah would be revealed at the Migdal Eder, ‘the tower of the flock.’

At the time of Yeshua’ birth, there was an actual military watchtower above the hills that was used to protect Bethlehem. This tower was also used by the shepherds to guard the Temple sheep from robbers. It was from these sheep that the Passover lambs were chosen. When the angels came announcing the ‘good news’ to all the world, these shepherds would have completely understood the meaning because they were at the exact location for the prophecy of Messiah’s birth to be fulfilled.

17.  Eight days later, it is time for the baby’s circumcision and naming (Luke 2:21).

Eight days after a son’s birth, the father would take the child to be circumcised and named as the mother would still be in her days of purification after childbirth. Joseph takes his infant son to the nearest Levite priest in Bethlehem to be circumcised and names him, Yeshua, as he was commanded by the angel.

“Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home with you as your wife; for what has been conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit.  She will give birth to a son, and you are to name him Yeshua, [which means ‘the LORD saves,’] because he will save his people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21-22).

Rejoicing in the Torah – Simchat Torah

The Feast of Tabernacles is celebrated for seven days. The following day, the eighth day, there is a special celebration called Simchat Torah which means ‘Rejoicing in the Torah.’ As Yeshua is circumcised and being named by his father, crowds were in the Temple courts dancing, singing, and rejoicing in the Torah. Without their knowledge, a short distance away in Bethlehem, the living Torah had just been named ‘salvation.’

“On the eighth day, when it came time to circumcise him, he was named Yeshua, the name the angel had given him before he had been conceived” (Luke 2:21).

18.   Mary’s purification is complete.

“When the days of her purification for a son or daughter are over, she is to bring to the priest a year-old lamb, and a young pigeon or dove. He shall offer them before the LORD, and she will be ceremonially clean from her flow of blood. If she cannot afford a lamb, she is to bring two doves” (Leviticus 12:6-8).

Redemption of the Firstborn

Forty days after Yeshua’s birth, Mary’s days of purification were completed. She and Joseph take Yeshua to the Temple for the ‘Redemption of the Firstborn’ according to the Torah command in Leviticus 12:8. At this time, they offered the required sacrifice of doves.

“When the time of her purification according to the Torah of Moses had been completed, Joseph and Mary took him to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord (as it is written)” (Luke 2:22).

There were two prophets in the Temple who expected the Word to become flesh and the salvation of Israel to be revealed. Simeon spoke prophecies over Yeshua in the presence of his parents, while Anna, a widow, overheard and saw what was happening and began thanking God and speaking about Yeshua to everyone who was waiting for the redemption of Israel.

“Now there was a man in Jerusalem called Simeon, who was righteous and devout… There was also a prophetess, Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher” (Luke 2:25,36).

19. At this time, a sign appears in the heavens (Matthew 2:1-2).

Every kingdom in the known world at that time had astronomers who studied and understood the signs in the heavens. Each culture, but more specifically the Jewish culture, looked to the heavens for the fulfillment of Biblical prophecy. Constellations, planets, and stars moved to tell God’s story as well as to set His ‘appointed times.’ Other Middle Eastern cultures studied the Hebrew concepts and understood their connection to the people of Israel.

Astronomers from the east (probably from what is modern-day Iraq/Iran) saw the ‘sign’ in the heavens and began their journey toward Jerusalem to honor and worship the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. The Hebrew word ‘star’ in this verse is kokhav and is used in Numbers 24:17 with the scepter from Jacob –– all terminology for stars and planets that are ‘signs in the heavens.’

20.  The magi or wise men arrive in Bethlehem.

“On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him” (Matthew 2:9).

By the time the wise men arrive in Bethlehem, Yeshua is no longer an infant wrapped in cloths and lying in a sukkah. He is nearly two years old and living in a house. It is at his home with his parents that he receives the gifts of the wise men.

This is the Biblical outline for the conception, birth, and early life of Yeshua. According to the information written in the Torah, Prophets, and Gospels, Yeshua was born in the ‘season of our rejoicing,’ on the first day of the Feast of Tabernacles in a sukkah. The shepherds at the Migdal Eder heard the angelic hosts proclaim ‘peace on earth among people of goodwill.’ They went immediately to see the ‘Lamb of God’ in Bethlehem. At that moment, wise men from the east saw a ‘star’ and began traveling to Bethlehem to greet the ‘newborn king.’ While all Israel rejoiced in the Torah, the living Torah was circumcised and named Salvation –– Yeshua.

©1997 Tentstake Ministries Publishing, all rights reserved.  No copying or reproducing of this article without crediting the author or Tentstake Ministries Publishing. For a hard copy of this article,  please purchase Journey with Jeremiah: Nourishment for the Wild Olive.