Torah Portion VAYECHI – B’Reisheet (Genesis) 47:28-50:26
He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes I will give to eat from the tree of life, which is in the midst of the Paradise of God. Revelation 2:7
Shabbat shalom dearly beloved!
As we enter into the Christmas Season it is very important to revisit some facts about Christmas. First of all, a disclaimer:
We believe the Messiah’s Birth to be the most important event in the history of the universe! If He had not been born, he would have not been able to pay the price for our sins and each one of us would be under judgment. However, the time has come to put His birth in its original context. So, leaving all emotions and feelings aside, let us talk FACTS.
The Tree of Life
She is a tree of life to those who take hold of her, and happy are all who hold her fast. Proverbs 3:18 NASB
There were Two Principal Trees in the Garden of Eden. One was the Tree of Life and one was the tree of knowledge of good and evil (Genesis 2:17). I call the Tree of Knowledge, the Tree of Death as eating from that tree brought death to all humanity. Yeshua said “I am the way, the truth and the life”. King David said: “Your Torah is Life”. King Solomon described Wisdom derived from the Torah of YHVH as a Tree of Life and the beginning of Wisdom is the Fear of YHVH.
The fear of YHVH is the beginning of wisdom; a good understanding have all those who do His commandments; His praise endures forever. Psalm 111:10 NASB
Yeshua is the Living Torah as He is The Word made flesh (John 1:14). The Torah, Pentateuch or the Five Books of Moses is the Blue Print and Foundation of the entire Bible! Yeshua is the Torah made flesh! (Matthew 5:17-21) He is the Tree of Life. In that context would you say that Christmas is from the Tree of Life or from the Tree of Knowledge, the Tree of Death? What is the biggest symbol of Christmas?
The Christmas Tree
How It All Got Started
Long before the advent of Christianity, plants and trees that remained green all year had a special meaning for people in the winter. Just as people today decorate their homes during the festive season with pine, spruce, and fir trees, ancient peoples hung evergreen boughs over their doors and windows. In many countries it was believed that evergreens would keep away witches, ghosts, evil spirits, and illness.
Did You Know?
Christmas trees are grown in all 50 states of the USA including Hawaii and Alaska.
In the Northern hemisphere, the shortest day and longest night of the year falls on December 21 or December 22 and is called the winter solstice. Many ancient people believed that the sun was a god and that winter came every year because the sun god had become sick and weak. They celebrated the solstice because it meant that at last the sun god would begin to get well. Evergreen boughs reminded them of all the green plants that would grow again when the sun god was strong, and summer would return.
The ancient Egyptians worshipped a god called Ra, who had the head of a hawk and wore the sun as a blazing disk in his crown. At the solstice, when Ra began to recover from the illness, the Egyptians filled their homes with green palm rushes which symbolized for them the triumph of life over death.
Early Romans marked the solstice with a feast called the Saturnalia in honor of Saturn, the god of agriculture. The Romans knew that the solstice meant that soon farms and orchards would be green and fruitful. To mark the occasion, they decorated their homes and temples with evergreen boughs. In Northern Europe the mysterious Druids, the priests of the ancient Celts, also decorated their temples with evergreen boughs as a symbol of everlasting life. The fierce Vikings in Scandinavia thought that evergreens were the special plant of the sun god, Balder.
Germany is credited with starting the Christmas tree tradition as we now know it in the 16th century when devout Christians brought decorated trees into their homes. Some built Christmas pyramids of wood and decorated them with evergreens and candles if wood was scarce. (From History.com)
We have found the tree in Japan, in Ecuador, in Africa and even in Israel, decorated and full of silver, gold and lights. People who do not know Yeshua (Jesus), neither are they interested in Him or the Gospel, LOVE Christmas because of the decorations. Do they get saved because of it? No! However, they love it. But what does the Bible say about decorating trees as a Religious Act?
Hear the word which the Lord speaks to you, O house of Israel. Thus says the Lord,“Do not learn the way of the nations, and do not be terrified by the signs of the heavens although the nations are terrified by them; For the customs of the peoples are delusion; because it is wood cut from the forest, the work of the hands of a craftsman with a cutting tool. “They decorate it with silver and with gold; they fasten it with nails and with hammers so that it will not totter. Jeremiah 10:1-4
The Holy Scriptures strictly forbids the decorating of trees as emblems of worship as this is a pagan custom and YHVH is HOLY!
Blessed are those who do His commandments, that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter through the gates into the city. Revelation 22:14 NKJV
Could it be that we need to give up pagan traditions like the putting up of Christmas trees so we can have the right to the Tree of Life?
Is it wise to keep on mixing emblems of pagan worship into our celebrations? The Prophet Hosea warns us that it can affect our children and all our generations!
My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge. Because you have rejected knowledge, also I will reject you from being priest for Me; Because you have forgotten the law of your God, I also will forget your children. Hosea 4:6 NKJV
Have we forgotten the Law-Torah of our God?
Have we made the Word of Elohim (God) null by our traditions?
And He answered and said to them, “Why do you yourselves transgress the commandment of God for the sake of your tradition? Matthew 15:3
Protestants Banned Christmas
From the 16th Century the Protestant Reformation banned Christmas as a pagan celebration. In America it was forbidden in some areas until 1870.
“Shocking as it sounds, followers of Jesus Christ in both America and England helped pass laws making it illegal to observe Christmas, believing it was an insult to God to honor a day associated with ancient paganism,” according to “Shocked by the Bible” (Thomas Nelson Inc, 2008). “Most Americans today are unaware that Christmas was banned in Boston from 1659 to 1681.”
All Christmas activities, including dancing, seasonal plays, games, singing carols, cheerful celebration and especially drinking were banned by the Puritan-dominated Parliament of England in 1644, with the Puritans of New England following suit. Christmas was outlawed in Boston, and the Plymouth colony made celebrating Christmas a criminal offense, according to “Once Upon a Gospel” (Twenty-Third Publications, 2008).
Christmas trees and decorations were considered to be unholy pagan rituals, and the Puritans also banned traditional Christmas foods such as mince pies and pudding. Puritan laws required that stores and businesses remain open all day on Christmas, and town criers walked through the streets on Christmas Eve calling out “No Christmas, no Christmas!” (From livescience.com)
It is not a secret that Christmas is pagan, that it is not Messiah’s date of birth, that the traditions are pagan, so why are those who consider themselves believers and disciples of Messiah still celebrating it? And why are they still putting Christmas trees in their home and churches? Why keep on marketing and propagating a LIE?
Are believers in the Messiah from the nations to be attached to the Christmas Tree or to the Olive Tree which represents the Nation of Israel and the Torah given to Israel, starting with the Ten Commandments?
But if some of the branches were broken off, and you, being a wild olive, were grafted in among them and became partaker with them of the rich root of the olive tree, do not be arrogant toward the branches; but if you are arrogant, remember that it is not you who supports the root, but the root supports you. Romans 11:17,18
Does the RICH ROOT of the Olive Tree which is the Torah, condone the putting up and decorating of trees as acts of worship? I believe I have amply proven that this is an act of pagan worship, even if you mean well. This is what it means in the spiritual realm and it carries consequences just like the eating of the Tree of Knowledge carried consequences for Adam and all of humanity. Trees “speak” in the spiritual realm and the Christmas Tree speaks of pagan worship. Whether we like it or not, whether we mean it or not, putting up a Christmas Tree in your home, public place or Church is putting up an idol on the altar. It is certainly not a source of blessing as beautiful as it may be!
A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Matthew 7: 18-19
Are we to love a pagan tradition more than God’s Word?
Let us now look at the facts surrounding the Birth of the Messiah.
Birth of Messiah vs. Birth of Christmas
The Birth of Messiah
His Place of Birth- Beth-Lechem Judea, Israel
But as for you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, 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 NASB
His Earthly Lineage- Jewish –Tribe of Judah from the House of David
(See Matthew 1 for the genealogy of Messiah)
And one of the elders said to me, “Stop weeping; behold, the Lion that is from the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has overcome so as to open the book and its seven seals.” Revelation 5:5 NASB
His Heavenly Lineage- YHVH The Father in Heaven
The angel answered and said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; and for that reason the holy Child shall be called the Son of God. Luke 1:35 NASB
His Birth Name- Yeshua meaning SALVATION
Take into consideration that the Angel did not speak Greek or English to Joseph, but he spoke Hebrew. He called the boy by the name the God of Israel, His Father gave Him, and it was not Jesus or Ieso, but Yeshua. Yeshua means SALVATION. Jesus is not the original name but a transliteration.
She will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Yeshua, for He will save His people from their sins.” Matthew 1:21 TLV
His Time of Birth-Some scholars believe it was during Sukkot-The Feast of Tabernacles and other scholars believe it was on Rosh Chodesh, the First Day of the First Month (Nissan) leading to Passover on the 14th day of the First Month. Most scholars agree that He was not born in the winter or on December 25th. They calculate the date according to the Priestly Courses that fitted the Order of Abijah, according to Zechariah the father of Yochanan the Immerser (John the Baptizer). Also, according to the visitation of the Angel Gabriel to Miriam (Mary) on the SIXTH MONTH of Elisheva’s (Elizabeth) pregnancy.
In the days of Herod, king of Judea, there was a priest named Zacharias, of the division of Abijah; and he had a wife from the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elizabeth. Luke 1:5 NASB
Then in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from Adonai to a city in Galilee called Natzeret, to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin’s name was Miriam. Luke 1:26-27 TLV
Celebration of Yeshua’s Birth-Traditions
Praise and Joy
And suddenly there appeared with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased.” Luke 2:13-14
Brit Milah-Covenant of Circumcision-On the 8th Day
And when eight days had passed, before His circumcision, His name was then called Yeshua, the name given by the angel before He was conceived in the womb. Luke 2:21
Presentation at the Holy Temple in Jerusalem – 40 Days after His Birth
And when the days for their purification according to the Torah of Moses were completed, they brought Him up to Jerusalem to present Him to Adonai. Luke 2:22
Worship-Foreigners from the East come to Worship The King of the Jews
After coming into the house they saw the Child with Miriam (Mary) His mother; and they fell to the ground and worshiped Him. Then, opening their treasures, they presented to Him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Matthew 2:11
It is clear from the Holy Scriptures that the Savior, the Messiah, is Jewish from the Tribe of Judah, from the House of David born in Israel. It is also clear that His name means SALVATION, that He is Divine yet born in the flesh as a Jew and that His time of birth does not match the traditional time of Christmas on December 25th. It is also clear that the traditions surrounding His birth are very different than the traditions of Christmas.
To be continued…
Your Israeli Mentors and Friends
Archbishop Dominiquae and Rabbi Baruch Bierman
“For Zion’s sake I will not keep silent.” Isaiah 62:1
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WATCH Bethlehem Christmas
Our Savior was born in Bethlehem – that much of the Christmas story is true, but what about the rest? Do the traditions surrounding this story bring pure glory and worship to the God of the Universe? Explore some of the traditions and truths behind the celebration of Christmas. Discover what the God of the Universe expects from those who desire to give Him honor.
Book of the week:
GRAFTED IN by Archbishop Dr. Dominiquae Bierman
It’s time for the greatest restoration of all times: The Jewish People back to their Messiah and the Christians back to the original Gospel which was preached by Jewish Apostles. For Almost 2000 years the world has been waiting for this great restoration, the angels are watching, the demons are trembling. This is a wonderful practical manual that should be kept next to you Bible! It teaches you how to celebrate all the Holy Feasts and how to study the Torah and the Commandments and apply them in order to enjoy abundant life in obedience to God and without any legalism. This book is a must for every believer, it is a tremendous eye opener!
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PASSOVER 2019 AT THE UNIFY EMBASSY on the Jerusalem Hills
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