(This article is part of a series discussing the themes of Yom Teruah, the Moed that kicks off the endgame of Yah’s plan for humanity. It occurs on the first day of the seventh Biblical month each year. The article just before this one (Party Pooper) focuses on the traditional December 25th commemoration of Messiah’s birth, and the shameful origins of how that date came about. This one suggests evidence of the correct timing.)
For those who have never entertained the idea of an alternative date of Messiah’s birth, there is a good possibility that I may some lose of you in the weeds of detail here. Sorry about that. However, this does NOT mean this topic is irrelevant or should just be dismissed. Yah’s Moed, His appointed times, were given to Israel 5000 years ago for a purpose, and it’s our DUTY to study them out and perfect the vision that Yah as designed us to behold.
Proverbs 25:2 “It is the glory of God to conceal things, but the glory of kings is to search things out.”
No biblically crucial event happens on a random date.
There is plan, and we are expected to engage in His plan—not simply superimpose our own ignorance upon His perfection and proceed to stumble along blindly.
Most believers who spend any time studying church history readily acknowledge that December 25th has no connection to the birth of Messiah. But, with seemingly no way to know what the true date is, why not just go with the flow? It turns out there actually is a logical road-map provided in the Gospels that get us within 2 weeks of the actual birthday, as long as we assume a typical 40 week gestation. All we have to do is look at the logical argument resulting from the published schedule of the duties of the various Levitical lines. This organization takes place in the overlooked chapters of 1 Chronicles 23-24 if you really want to nerd out. For any of you Human Resources specialists out there, this is why you save schedules!
Here’s the summary: Since we know the lineage of John the Baptist, we know that John’s father Zechariah came from a specific Levitical line which would have served in the Temple for two weeks each year–it was a good gig. According to Luke 1:5 this was the line of “Abia” or “AbiYah” who King David assigned to the “eighth order” (1 Chronicles 24:10). The eighth order would have began their two-week assignment early in the fourth month of the Hebrew year (16 weeks after the start of the year). With that as a solid starting point, it’s not hard to extrapolate dates from John’s conception in month four, to Mary’s conception in month ten (sixth months later) and then to Messiah’s birth early in month seven.
That leaves us with three feasts to choose from in that early-autumn, month-seven time frame.
The Day of Atonement. The tenth day of month seven is specifically a day where no labor is to be done of any kind. Yah wouldn’t have made Mary labor on that day, and the birth of Messiah matches exactly zero of the themes of that Holy day. That leaves us with Sukkot and Yom Teruah as the remaining solid alternatives.
The Feast of Sukkot. Sukkot is considered a chag, a pilgrimage feast. Israelite males, at minimum, are required to show up in Jerusalem for this eight-day-long feast (as Messiah himself did in John chapters 7-10). But Joseph was in Bethlehem when Messiah was born–where prophecy required him to be born. (We’ll look at that prophecy in just a second.) Also disqualifying is Sukkot’s main thematic element of living in temporary dwellings (outdoors). Despite the command to shelter outside, Mary and Joseph looked for an inn to lodge in—and all the inns were full. This would make sense for folks coming to the suburbs of Jerusalem to prepare for Sukkot, but does not at all line up with the nature of Sukkot itself.
The best evidence often cited for a Sukkot birth is this line from John 1:14, “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.” The word translated as “dwelt” is skanoo in Greek, which was eventually translated into Latin and then into English as “tablernacled”. If you are playing Scrabble used this to hit the triple-word score, I’d be seriously impressed, but “tabernacled” as an English verb is a pretty awkward choice.
The real hint to what John is implying is actually in the next verse, and it’s inserted with a wink and nod in parenthesis. “(John [the Baptist] bore witness about him and CRIED OUT, ‘He who comes after me ranks before me, because he was before me.’)”
The crying out on Yom Teruah hints at the announcement of the start of the seventh month. I agree that the heart and focus of that month is clearly the Feast of Sukkot. I’ll also agree that Messiah’s life certainly was like a tabernacle in the sense of a “temporary dwelling”. However, the Word becoming flesh, which is the core theme of Messiah’s ministry, began with the shouts of his birth on Yom Teruah, at the same time that the seventh month began.
It sure would have been helpful if the authors of the Gospels would have just mentioned, (instead of hinted) that Mary’s shouting in childbirth was a fulfillment of Yom Teruah. We shouldn’t be surprised, as Yom Teruah is a consistently “hidden” feast—even in Revelation where Yom Teruah is literally the focal point of the whole book—it never says so by using it’s proper name. Not once. Over the past several Yom Teruah articles, we’ve seen a biblical pattern of shouting and trumpet blasts ushering in “Yah’s Word, manifesting physically onto the earth”. The least subtle version of this theme is still to come, the seventh trumpet blast that ushers in the return of Messiah, the resurrection of the righteous, and the start of the 1,000 year reign. That one will be hard to miss or misinterpret.
Back to shouting and crying out… John the Baptist was not alone in crying out about the Word becoming flesh. In Luke 2, we read about another less-subtle shouting. “And an angel of YHWH appeared to them, and the glory of YHWH shone around them, and they were filled with fear. And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is YHWH’s Messiah. And this will be the sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.’ And suddenly, there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”
How’s that for loud shouting?
Here’s more from Luke:
Luke 1:67-71, “And his father Zechariah was filled with the Holy Spirit and prophesied, saying” “Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, for he has visited and redeemed his people and has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David, as he spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets from of old, that we should be saved from our enemies and from the hand of all who hate us…” This prophecy from the Holy Spirit, through Zechariah, is another hint that Yom Teruah is the appointed time for Messiah’s birth. At first, when I saw the phrase “the HORN of salvation” in this prophecy, and was instantly excited about this slam dunk–but then realized that “horn” in this case was not a shofar, but instead was figuratively referencing a horn on the head of a powerful creature.
A “horn” is typically alluding to the power and might of a strong leader. A strong goat, or even a rhino (which the King James translates as a “unicorn”) would wield that same type of authority over it’s territory. When we blow a shofar, it’s not just any other wind instrument. It symbolizes the might that the horn once had (when originally attached) as well as the power of the creature from whose head it came. So yes, on Yom Teruah, we do raise up a horn of salvation as we blow through our shofar as we await the sound of a much louder horn in return. It will be the sound of the coming of the powerful one who will save us from our enemies, and from the hand of all who hate us.
The root of the word Teruah is the rarely used root ‘raah’, (Strongs 7321) which is the root of ‘ruah’ (Strongs 7452). The two are used together and translated as “shout loudly” in Micah 4:9 in the middle of long prophecy about the final coming of Messiah. This prophecy includes a strong and barely hidden hint about the timing of the birth of Messiah.
“Why do you SHOUT LOUDLY? [reah raah] Is there no king in you? Has your counselor perished, that pain seized you like a woman in labor? Writhe and groan, oh daughter of Zion, like a woman in labor, for now you shall go out from the city and dwell in the open country; you shall go to Babylon. There shall you be delivered; there YHWH will redeem you from the hand of your enemies.”
That same prophecy ends like this:
Micah 5:2, “But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, who are too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel, whose coming forth is from of old, from ancient days. Therefore he shall give them up until the time when she who is in labor has given birth; then the rest of his brothers shall return to the people of Israel.
And he shall stand and shepherd his flock in the strength of YHWH, in the majesty of the name of the YHWH his God. And they shall dwell secure, for now he shall be great to the ends of the earth. And he shall be their peace.”
Although that’s a slam dunk all by itself, the very first overt Messianic prophecy in scripture comes from Balaam in Numbers 23:19-22.
“God is not man, that he should lie, or a son of man, that he should change his mind. Has he said, and will he not do it? Or has he spoken, and will he not fulfill it? Behold, I received a command to bless: he has blessed, and I cannot revoke it. He has not beheld misfortune in Jacob, nor has he seen trouble in Israel. The LORD their God is with them, and the shout of a king is among them.” The SHOUT is the full form of the word—Teruah! He continues in Numbers 24:17, “I see him, but not now; I behold him, but not near: a star shall come out of Jacob, and a scepter shall rise out of Israel;”
The only shout that lives up to Balaam’s prophecy is the birth of Messiah on Yom Teruah.
Here’s one last reference linking Yom Teruah and a Messiah-related birth from Isaiah 26:17. This time, Isaiah is connecting our cries to the final coming of Messiah, when we as Israel are born again at the resurrection. He begins by focusing on our inability to deliver ourselves, but ends with rejoicing in the idea that our shouts are not in vain. “Like a pregnant woman who writhes and cries out in her pangs when she is near to giving birth, so were we because of you, O YHWH; we were pregnant, we writhed, but we have given birth to wind. We have accomplished no deliverance in the earth, and the inhabitants of the world have not fallen. Your dead shall live; their bodies shall rise. You who dwell in the dust, awake and sing for joy! For your dew is a dew of light, and the earth will give birth to the dead.”
In the next article, we’ll focus on the “Star” that shall come out of Jacob. There is only one star that was a focal point in the sky on Messiah’s birthday. It shows up in the same spot EVERY Yom Teruah, as it will on Messiah’s final coming. We’ll look at the Yom Teruah night sky in detail.
I hope this has been a blessing!