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Jewish Awareness Ministries
P.O. BOX 1808
ANGIER, NC 27501
By Rev. Stan Rosenthal
Christmas, simply defined, has to do with a specific time of the year which is set aside to celebrate the birth of Jesus. For the most part, that time (even though far from being able to establish its authenticity) has been chosen to be December 25.
While it is true, at least up to the mid-point of the twentieth century, most who claimed to be Christians did treat this day as a special holy day, even though nowhere in the Bible were they exhorted to do so. For that matter, it was as if God purposefully held back even providing the birth date of Christ so that one would not become guilty of worshiping the event rather than the person.
Now, in the second decade of the 21st century, it has almost become criminal to attach any genuine biblical meaning to this day referred to as Christmas. It seems to have become as more of a secular holiday than one clinging to any meaningful spiritual attachment.
The fruit of this shift is evidenced by how the corporate commercial world has all but claimed it for its own and humanity at large buying into this feel good, materialistic minded mentality, growing out of secular humanism.
A Reference Point Needed
There are some 400 years between the Tenach (Hebrew Scriptures or Old Testament) and the Brit Chadash (New Testament). They have been referred to as the 400 silent years. This was because God chose not to provide any new revelation to His people or for that matter, anyone else. Amazingly, however, there is a seamless continuity which exists between the two Covenants.
Many years ago a young Jewish woman took her first look at the New Testament. She was astounded that it was obviously a Jewish book. She described it this way: “After sneaking a peak at the first book of the New Testament, I was more confused than ever,” stated Marlene, who later became my wife. She said that, “while reading the Gospel of Matthew, I could not come to grips with what I was being confronted with. How is it that the Gentiles have embraced Jesus and the Jewish people have rejected Him? Even a quick glance indicates that Matthew, a Jewish writer had as his audience, the people of the land of Israel – God’s chosen people – the Jews.”
In just a matter of 613 words as recorded in Matthew 1:1-2:6 in the KJV, the magnificent and miraculous intervention of God into the main stream of humanity took place. So much of what Moses and the Hebrew prophets foretold concerning the LORD’s redemptive program began to be fulfilled.
Culmination of Two Thousand Years of Promises
If anyone has a reason to celebrate the birth of Christ, it is, for sure, the Jewish people, specifically those who have become His disciples – Jewish Christians. Now hold on and wait a moment – yes, Christ’s entrance into the world encompasses and affects all peoples, but especially all those who have embraced Him by faith, be it Jew or Gentile.
An examination of Matthew 1:1-2:6 from a biblical, historical and grammatical context, including the Old Testament, should create a euphoric response by the Jewish people like nothing else could. Take a studied look of what is involved in this opening declaration announcing the birth of Israel’s Messiah and Savior of the world.
(Matthew 1:1-16; cf. Luke 3:23-38)
The New Testament immediately starts out with a declaration from God that would have grabbed the attention of the first century Jew as well as any Jew even 1980 plus years further along in history. For that matter, the Gentile world population has much to get excited about as well, once they begin to understand what is at stake for them even from just this first verse.
In order for Jesus to be the promised Messiah to Israel and Savior of the world, He must have the proper credentials. First, and above all, He must be a descendant from both Abraham and David. A review of the following biblical passages concerning Abraham and David reveals two major unconditional covenants God entered into with these two servants of the LORD. One calls for God’s blessings upon both Jews and Gentiles through the seed of Abraham – Jesus the Christ. (Matthew 1:1; Genesis 12:3; 18:18; 22:18 (cf. Galatians 3:8-16) .The other promises that Christ will not only be the suffering Messiah by atoning for sin, but will one day sit upon the throne of David located in God’s holy city Jerusalem, Israel. (Matthew1:1; 2nd Samuel 7:11b, 13,16; Psalm 2:6, 8-9; 110:1-4; Isaiah 9:6-7; Revelation 22:16).
Jesus Provides Salvation
(Matthew 1:1, 16, 18, 21, 25; 2:1; cf Daniel 9:24; Zechariah 12:10; Romans 11:26-27)
Jesus is the English translation from the Greek Yesus which is derived from its counter-part found in the Hebrew Scriptures, Yeshua. When translated into English it is Joshua. It means Jehovah saves or salvation is of Jehovah. In Matthew 1:21 the reader is told that He, Jesus will save His people from their sins. In context, His brethren according to the flesh are Jewish people.
Jesus is the Messiah
(Matthew. 1:1, 16, 18: 2:4; cf. Jn. 1:4; Psalm 2:2; 45:6-7; Daniel 9:25, 26)
The English word Christ is translated from the Greek word Christos which is derived from its counter-part found in the Hebrew Scriptures Meshiach. When translated into English it is Messiah. It means anointed or anointed one. Just as the Apostle Paul believed in the value of repeating a certain truth, I, too, believe repetition as it relates to who Jesus is as well as who he is not is important. Christ is not the second name of Jesus, but rather it establishes that Jesus is “the Messiah, the Anointed One.” He, and He alone, can lay claim to this office. There can be none other.
Jesus is Emmanuel
(Matthew 1:23; cf Isaiah 7:14: 9:6-7)
Immanuel is brought forth directly from the prophet Isaiah as inspired by God in chapter 7 and verse 14 of Isaiah’s book. This Hebrew word carries the meaning of God with us. In particular it makes reference to a special and unique child to be born to Israel in the future. In context it insists that Jesus must be both God and man at the same time.
Jesus is Virgin Born
(Matthew 1:16, 18,20; cf Isaiah 7:14)
The English word virgin is translated from the Greek word parthenos. It makes reference to a marriageable young woman which carries or insists on the understanding that she has never experienced sexual intercourse. Its counter-part in the Hebrew Scriptures is the word almah. It has been translated either as virgin or young maiden by translators. It is noteworthy that the Septuagint, which was written by seventy Jewish Scholars translating the Hebrew Scriptures into Greek, opted for virgin when they translated almah in Isaiah 7:14. These Jewish scholars translated the Hebrew word almah into the Greek word parthenos, underscoring the necessity of the child being born from a virgin mother. The Septuagint was written between the 3rd and 2nd centuries BC.
Furthermore, the inspired word of God, as recorded in Matthew1:16, unambiguously states that the pronoun “whom” is both in the singular and as well the feminine form, hence no human father.
Jesus’ Conception was by God the Holy Spirit
(Matthew 1:18, 20, 25)
This is an extremely important truth. Jesus was conceived not by a human father, but by the miraculous work of the Holy Spirit. One of the cardinal doctrines of biblical truth concerning God is that He consists of three persons, and yet at the same time there is only one God.
Consider the ramifications of Jesus being born of natural human parents, both mother and as well father. First it would disavow all claims of Jesus’ deity, Ohy Vey! Now we would be in big trouble. He would not be able to make the acceptable and satisfactory atonement for sin in our behalf. He would be inadequate for such a task since he himself would have a sin nature inherited from Adam (cf Romans 5:12). From that vantage point it becomes an almost unending downward spiral. Second, it would nullify the outcome of Genesis 3:15. He no longer would be the seed of only the woman and he would not be able to carry out the destruction of Satan, God’s nemesis, and for that matter, it would most likely allow Satan to carry on his struggle to displace God. Again the results would become disastrous.
Jesus was Born in Bethlehem
(Matthew 2:1, 6; cf Micah 5:2)
Approximately seven hundred years before the birth of Messiah, the prophet Micah was privileged to be able to convey the actual birth place of Israel’s Messiah – Bethlehem. This prophecy concerning the location of where Messiah would be born adds substantial evidence pertaining to recognizing Jesus as Israel’s promised Messiah.
Jesus is the King of the Jews
(Matthew 2:2, 6; cf Micah 5:2; Isaiah 9:6-7; Jeremiah 23:5-6; Zechariah 9:9-10)
While it is clear from Matthew 2:2 & 6 that Jesus was prophesied to be Israel’s King, its fulfillment awaits His literal second coming to the earth. Israel’s rejection of their Messiah at His first coming kept Him from establishing the Kingdom Age, but when Israel calls out “blessed is He who comes in the name of the LORD,” He will come victoriously to set up His earthly Kingdom. He will be worshipped as King of kings and Lord of lords not just over Israel, but all the earth (Matthew 23:37-39; Matthew 24:29-31; 25:31;Zechariah 14; Revelation 19:11-20:10).)
Conclusion and Exhortation
While the world is rapidly becoming unglued in almost every aspect of the word, it (you) desperately need(s) to engage the person of Christmas personally…NOW!
Christmas in and of itself is meaningless. Without the person of Jesus, the Messiah of Israel and Savior of the world, who should be the focus of Christmas, there is no hope for either Jew or Gentile. If you would like information on how you can personally come to know Jesus you can contact us through our Website. We would love to hear from you.
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