Thoughts About Christmas

Although we don’t know the exact day when Yeshua was born, it is always appropriate to consider the Incarnation of the Son of God. Yeshua’s Incarnation is something so amazing, something so miraculous, and so profound; it is one of the very most important events in human history, so much so that much of the world marks time based on the birth of the Greatest Jew of All!

Prophets predicted His birth. Righteous people were given visions, dreams, and prophetic utterances about His birth. Heavenly signs attended His birth, guiding wise men from far away lands to worship Him. Angels announced His birth. Jewish shepherds praised God at His birth. A virgin miraculously conceived to bring forth His birth.

The very first prophecy in the Word of God is about the incarnation of the Son of God. As soon as Adam and Eve sinned, by disobeying God, they instantly became alienated from the Lord. Adam and Eve, and all of their descendants, all of mankind, became estranged from our wonderful and good Creator, who is the Source of Life and blessing. Because of this disobedience, sin and death dominated the human race, and God cursed the entire physical world.

But the Lord, being gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love and mercy, didn’t leave mankind to die in our sins; nor did He leave us to despair. He immediately informed our first parents that He would reverse the Fall; bring blessing instead of the curse; create peace where there was alienation; and bring eternal life instead of eternal death. He would accomplish this redemption, this salvation, by means of the Incarnation – the coming of the eternal Son of God into this world. This supremely important event would be carefully prepared through a special line of men, and then though one chosen people.

When the very first prophecy was given, millions of powerful angels existed, and only two human beings, but humans were chosen to bring God’s salvation to humanity – not angels. The Lord said to the serpent, “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed; He shall bruise you on the head, and you shall bruise him on the heel” (Genesis 3:15). The Son of God would become a human being; and in a special way, be uniquely the “Seed of the woman.”

Centuries later, after the great flood destroyed the first civilization of men, Noah survived with his three sons. From those three sons, the Lord of the universe chose Shem, not Ham or Yafet. Noah, speaking prophetically, blessed his children, and foretold their future, when he said, “Blessed be the Lord, the God of Shem; and let Canaan be his servant. May God enlarge Yafet, and let him dwell in the tents of Shem” (Genesis 9:26 27). The Son of God would be a human being, and He must come from Shem. He must be a Shemite.

The descendants of Shem numbered in the thousands, but the Mighty God chose only one of them – Abraham. The Lord said to Abram, “Go forth from your country, and from your relatives and from your father’s house, to the land which I will show you; and I will make you a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great; and so you shall be a blessing; and I will bless those who bless you, and the one who curses you I will curse. And in you all the families of the Earth will be blessed” (Genesis 12:1-3). The Son of God would come from Abraham.

Abraham had many sons, but God chose Isaac, not the oldest son, Ishmael, or the sons of Keturah, to further His plan to bring redemption to humanity. The Eternal One said to Abraham, “Sarah your wife will bear you a son, and you shall call his name Isaac; and I will establish My covenant with him for an everlasting covenant for his descendants after him” (Genesis 17:19). The Son of God would come from Isaac. He would not be an Ishmaelite or from one of the Arab tribes.

Isaac had two sons, but God chose the younger son Jacob, not the older son Esav. The Almighty said to Jacob, “I am the Lord, the God of your father Abraham and the God of Isaac; the land on which you lie, I will give it to you and to your descendants. Your descendants will also be like the dust of the Earth, and you will spread out to the west and to the east and to the north and to the south; and in you and in your descendants shall all the families of the Earth be blessed” (Genesis 28:13 14). The Son of God would come from Israel, and not be an Edomite.

Jacob had twelve sons, but only Judah was chosen. Jacob said to Judah, “The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet, until Shiloh comes, and to him shall be the obedience of the peoples” (Genesis 49:10). The right to rule the Chosen People would be given to Judah and his descendants. The Messiah, the One approved by God to have the leadership of Israel, would come from the tribe of Judah.

The tribe of Judah had many families within it, but only the family of David was chosen. The Lord, who is the King of Israel, speaking through the prophet Nathan, said to king David: “I will raise up your descendant after you, who will come forth from you, and I will establish his kingdom… Your house and your kingdom shall endure before Me forever; your throne shall be established forever” (2 Samuel 7:12 16). The One who is rightly called Immanuel, God With Us, would come from king David’s royal family.

I like to call this narrowing process, the “Messianic Process of Elimination.” The numbers of those qualified to be the Savior get smaller and smaller and smaller. Based on genealogical considerations alone, only the minutest percentage of humanity could qualify to be the Messiah, the One Anointed and chosen to meet our deepest needs – reconciling the world of lost and fallen human beings to God, ending our alienation and estrangement with our great Creator; reversing the Fall; bringing blessing instead of the curse, giving life in place of death.

Rabbi Glenn: Having suffered for many centuries under the hands of godless kings and tyrants, and now once again languishing under the tyranny of Rome the mightiest nation the world at that time had ever seen, many of our Jewish people longingly prayed and kept watch for the promised Redeemer; the One of whom God thousands of years earlier had spoken, and whose coming had likewise been forecast by our true prophets. And God, who keeps all His promises, would keep this one. …when the fulness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law, in order that He might redeem those who were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption as sons (Galatians 4:4 5).

But Messiah was not born to just any woman, for, indeed, the promise had been made concerning a particular woman a descendant of Shem, a descendant of Abraham, of Isaac and Jacob, a descendant of King David, as Luke tells us: Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city in Galilee, called Nazeret, to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Yosef, of the descendents of David; and the virgin’s name was Miriam… and the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Miriam; for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb, and bear a son, and you shall name Him Yeshua. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David; and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and His kingdom will have no end” (Luke 1:26 27, 30 33). An enduring kingdom, the fulfillment of God’s promise to David; a promise to which Matthew also referred: The book of the genealogy of Yeshua the Messiah, the son of David, the son of Abraham… (Matthew 1:1).

Rabbi Loren: God, speaking through the prophet Michah, around 700 BC, informed us exactly where the Son of God would be born. But as for you, Bethlehem Efrata, too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you One will go forth for Me to be ruler in Israel. His goings forth are from long ago, from the days of eternity (Micah 5:2). Of all the cities of Israel, in some mysterious way, One who precedes His birth, who originates in the distant past, and who, in the future, is destined to be the ultimate ruler of the Chosen people, the Messiah, He who is the Bread of Life, would be born in little Beit-Lechem, which means “the House of Bread.”

The One who would give life and strength and sustenance to the world, and rule Israel and the nations, would not be born in Rome, Moscow, Athens, Paris or London. He would not be born in Jerusalem, our capital city; nor in Hebron, one of our oldest cities; nor Gilgal, rich in history; nor any of the cities of Galilee, nor any other city or village on Earth, but only in Bethlehem – a small town, some five miles from Jerusalem, known for being the place where King David came from. The Son of David would be born in the city of David. The Bread from Heaven would arrive in the House of Bread.

Rabbi Glenn: Luke goes on to tell us the circumstances surrounding Yeshua’s birth: Now it came about in those days that a decree went out from Caesar Augustus, that a census be taken of all the inhabited earth…and all were proceeding to register for the census, everyone to his own city. And Yosef also went up from Galilee, from the city of Natzeret, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Beit lechem, because he was of the house and family of David, in order to register along with Miriam, who was engaged to him, and was with child. And it came about that while they were there, the days were completed for her to give birth. And she gave birth to her first born son (Luke 2:1-7a).

Angels joyously announced Messiah’s birth to the humblest of all society, to a group of shepherds, declaring, “…I bring you good news of a great joy which shall be for all the people; for today in the City of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Messiah the Lord (Luke 2:11).” The Incarnation, the birth of Messiah Yeshua, was sovereignly ordained to take place at precisely 31.42N latitude and 35.12E longitude: in Bethlehem of Judea. The birth of Messiah Yeshua was ordained by God to occur at the right time in history, in the right village, to the right family, and all to bring about our eternal salvation.

Rabbi Loren: Concerning the incarnation of the Son of God, the prophet Isaiah said: “For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; and the government will rest on His shoulders; and His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Father of Eternity, Prince of Peace. There will be no end to the increase of His government or of peace, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and righteousness from then on and forevermore. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will accomplish this.

In place of all the thousands of corrupt rulers the world has endured, and all of the lousy administrations, mankind’s perfect and final and coming ruler is described for us. He is a human being – a child who is born to us – to us – the people of Isaiah – Israel, the Jewish people. Salvation is of the Jews! When this Jewish child grows up, He will be a perfect leader who will rule Israel and the nations justly, fairly and forever. He has all the resources to be the perfect leader, because:

He is Pele – Wonderful: a miracle, a wonder, something super-natural – something above ordinary nature. The nature of this son is different from that of an ordinary man. His very nature miraculous and supernatural.

He is a Yoetz – a Counselor: He is our chief Rabbi, our Supreme Teacher who guides us into all truth, who is available to give us the best counsel in every situation. He always gives miraculous advice, unfailing in the depths of it wisdom, to everyone who asks Him for it.

He is El Gibor – God, the Mighty One. He is fully human – a son born to us, but also fully God. In some mysterious way, this is Immanu-El – El – God, with us, the fulness of God in a human body, the Word made flesh dwelling among us; the Temple of God living among us. As the One who is fully God and fully man, He is the perfect mediator between God and man. He is the ultimate High Priest that enables God and man to be reconciled; the only one who can completely bring us closer to God, and bring God closer to us. He is the bridge that joins us, Jacob’s Ladder that connects Heaven and Earth. He is where God and Man meet. As El Gibor, He contains within Himself power so great that it can atone for all the evil that is in the world, and bring us forgiveness, reconciliation and peace with God. He has the power to overcome sin and death. He has the power to raise us from the dead, and enable those who love Him to live forever!

Avi Ad – Father of Eternity: Messiah Yeshua is the creator and the possessor of eternity. He is the One who will enable His people to live forever. He is able to meet all the needs of His people throughout eternity. Avi Ad can also mean “Eternal Father” indicating that the Son of God shares the same eternal, uncreated, life-within-Himself name and nature, character and essence as God the Father.

He is the Sar Shalom – the Prince of Peace: A prince is a leader who has great authority. The Son of God has authority to restore shalom – wholeness, completeness, peace to a broken, shattered universe. He is able to establish peace between man and nature, between Jews and Gentiles, rich and poor, blacks and white, peace between man and God. This wonderful peace that He will bring will not be temporary, but will last forever. Once He begins His reign on the throne of David, there will be no end to His glorious administration or of peace. All the zeal, all the enthusiasm of Adonai Tz’vaot – the Lord of Armies, the most powerful Being in the universe, whom no force in the universe can overcome, will ensure this supremely blessed outcome.

Rabbi Glenn: It was not only Shepherds who witnessed this great promise fulfilled. Wise men, most likely from Chaldea, experts in Astronomy and natural sciences, and aware of ancient promises made to the Chosen People, saw signs in the sky, and interpreted it to mean the time had come. Had not God, on the fourth day of Creation, declared that the luminaries would be “for signs and for seasons and for days and for years“? These wise men saw the heavenly sign, sought out the One who would one day rule over all the Earth in righteousness; and what did they do when they found Him? They worshiped! Matthew tells us: And they came into the house and saw the Child with Miriam His mother; and they fell down and worshiped Him; and opening their treasures they presented to Him gifts of gold and frankincense and myrrh (Matthew 2:11).

The Messiah, in being born into this world, took humanity upon Himself; not in part, but entirely. And yet was He not at the same time altogether Deity? This is the great mystery the unique and only God man. This is what the writer of Hebrews affirmed: And when He again brings the first born into the world, He says, “And let all the angels of God worship Him.” And of the angels He says, “Who makes His angels winds, and His ministers a flame of fire.” But of the Son He says, “Thy throne, O God, is forever and ever, and the righteous scepter is the scepter of His kingdom (Hebrews 1:6 8).”

And so Yeshua’s glory was, for a brief time, veiled as He dwelt among us. But we do see Him who has been made for a little while lower than the angels, namely, Yeshua, because of the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, that by the grace of God He might taste death for everyone (Hebrews 2:9). His light shone in our midst, demolishing the darkness that had enveloped the world. Yeshua declared, “I am the light of the world; he who follows Me shall not walk in the darkness, but shall have the light of life (John 8:12).” But why would He willingly set aside His glory? What could move Him to leave an unimaginably wondrous and holy celestial abode to be born into a world of such sadness, such madness, such suffering and betrayal? And why would the Father willingly see His Son endure scorn at the hands of the very ones He created? We are given that answer by John the great Emissary: By this the love of God was manifested in us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world so that we might live through Him. In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the (atonement) propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another (1 John 4:9 11).

Rabbi Loren: To sum up, Yeshua is the eternal Son of God, who existed before He was born on Earth. He was the only person who could choose how and where and when to be born, and He chose to be born not into a rich and influential family, but into a poor Jewish family. The One who experienced all the riches and glories of Heaven didn’t choose to be born in a palace but in the most humble of circumstances, and then He was placed in a manger – a feeding trough where animals ate. He did not choose to be born into a free people, but into a nation that was living under occupation.

His birth is not just ancient history that happened 2,000 years ago that is not relevant now. There are present and eternal consequences as a result of His birth. As a result of the Incarnation, Messiah is our kinsman redeemer. He is bone of our bone, flesh of our flesh. He became a man so that He could redeem mankind. He is mankind’s only Savior, able to buy us out of the satanic slave-market of sin and death. Is He your Redeemer?As a result of the Incarnation, the Son of God is our eternal sympathetic High Priest. Someone observed: no one can ever say to God, “Creator of the universe, You can’t possibly understand us. You are perfect, eternal, distant, far removed from humanity.” No, He does know. He does understand us. Because of Yeshua’s birth, God knows very well. He knows us from the inside. As the Book written to the early Messianic Jews tells us: We do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin (Hebrews 4:15). Is He your High Priest that knows you and loves you and right now is interceding and helping and saving you?

As a result of the Incarnation, humanity is forever exalted. Yeshua is fully and forever God, and now He is fully and forever Man. He will eternally be united with us, bringing us close to God, lifting humanity up to the Highest Heights! Thank God for the Incarnation!

This season, and forever and ever, may the Son of God become ever more incarnate in all of us!