Q. The Christmas carol begins; “While shepherds watched their flocks by night.” I was taught the only time shepherds watched their flocks was when the lambs have their young, which only happens in the spring of the year. Doesn’t that mean the Jewish month of Nissan (March-April) has to be when Jesus was born?
Commentary by Jack Kelley
(This article was originally published in November of 2005 when the controversy over the Christmas season was first heating up. It’s even more relevant today. I’ve expanded and updated it for this holiday season.)
For the customs 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 10:3-4)
A friend once observed that when you see the Christmas decorations begin to go up on Main Street, you know that Thanksgiving must be near. That’s because in the US, Thanksgiving weekend officially kicks off the Christmas season. Special school programs, parties, shopping, all the things Christmas has become these days begin in earnest on the day after Thanksgiving.
Q. I have been considering the issue of pagan holy days being repackaged by the Christian church. My tendency in my faith-walk is to fall into legalism (following an outward practice thinking that I am a “better” Christian because of it). Since I know it’s a pitfall for me, I am cautious to change my outward practice until I am certain that is the best way. For example, while the Christian church celebrates Easter and not Passover, does the very act of celebrating Christ’s death and resurrection not somehow redeem the fact that it may not be on the right day or have questionable beginnings (inclusion of pagan elements)? I’ve attempted to discuss this issue with several friends who are Believers, and they tend to “roll” their eyes at my comments. Do you have any insight on this?
Commentary by Jack Kelley
Every year at Thanksgiving I’m reminded of the holiday’s origin, the Jewish Feast of Tabernacles. It was the crowning event in Israel’s cycle of fall feasts that also included Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. It was a celebration of the harvest, of God’s mercy in forgiving their sins for another year, and a remembrance of the time when He lived among them in the wilderness, setting them apart as His people.
Q. Re: Matt. 27:52-53. I know that the saints will be risen at the rapture with Christ, but what was the purpose of these people being resurrected with Him? Is there a cross reference stating who the saints were He chose to allow to rise and who did they go to? I would think that they should have played a major role in the start of the church but they didn’t, so what was their purpose?
Q. I had a question regarding the events and blood moons. Did you take into consideration that under the Jewish calendar the year 1949 would have still been 1948 for Jews? For instance, I know that the year 2012 doesn’t end under the Jewish calendar until this Sept. 2013.
Q. Was the Last Supper a Passover Seder? The gospels are somewhat confusing to me concerning this. Matthew , Mark , and Luke seem to indicate that it was. But the gospel of John indicates that Christ was betrayed and crucified before the Passover Seder. Is there a conflict between the Gospel accounts?
Q. As Christians are we to celebrate Passover in like manner as the Jews, instead of Resurrection Sunday, so called Easter? Or is Passover for the Jews only?
Q. Given that Jesus’ ministry was 3 1/2 years long and then He died, was buried and rose again during the Spring feasts, isn’t it likely that He partially fulfilled the Feast of Tabernacles (God lives with us)?
A Bible Study by Jack Kelley
In the past I’ve explained why I believe Jesus probably was born sometime in September. If that’s the case then what really happened in December? Is Christmas just the result of overlaying Christian beliefs on a formerly pagan holiday as some believe, or is there more to it?