Rabbi’s Reflections – Sunday, December 25, 2022
The Birth of the Messiah – Christmas Myths (Part 2 of 2)
by Dr. Raymond Finney
INTRODUCTION: Today is celebrated by many Believers in Western Christendom as Christmas– the day of Yeshua’s birth. Last Sunday, I wrote about some errors in accepting Yeshua’s birth on December 25, and I will conclude this RR with more thoughts.
WHAT IS THE SIGNIFICANCE OF THE MAGI’S GIFTS? The magi brought gifts of gold, myrrh, and frankincense (Matthew 2:11) to the Holy Family. These three gifts are symbolic– and highly prophetic– of Yeshua’s life. Yeshua came to Earth to fulfill three offices– Prince, Priest, and Prophet.
● As Prince of Peace on Earth (Isaiah 9:6), He will return a second time as King of kings and Lord of lords (Revelation 19:11-16).
● As Priest on Earth (1 Timothy 2:5), He will be our eternal High Priest in Heaven (Hebrews 4:14-16).
● As Prophet on Earth (Olivet Discourse, etc.), He will not be a Prophet in Heaven because there is no need for prophecy throughout eternity. Yeshua will have fulfilled all Messianic prophecies made in the Tanakh and the B’rit Chadashah. Since there is no new (unrealized) future after New Jerusalem descends to Earth, what is left to prophesy?
To reiterate, the magi’s three gifts were prophetically significant:
● Gold is traditionally the gift for a king. A king’s crown is fashioned of gold. In prophetic terms, Yeshua, the Prince of Peace, will return the second time as King of kings and Lord of lords.
● Frankincense was used in Jewish religious ceremonies, such as being burned in the Temple on Yom Kippur. Burning anything other than frankincense was to cause a “strange fire,” and was punishable by death (Leviticus 10:1). Yeshua, who fulfilled the requirements of being a Jewish priest on Earth, will become our High Priest in Heaven.
● Myrrh was an important ingredient in embalming of the dead. You may have attended baby showers, but did you take a gift of a gallon of embalming fluid for the baby? If so, you probably did not get many invitations for baby showers after that one. Myrrh obviously prophesied the death of Yeshua for the sins of humankind. That is, He became Savior of the world by being God’s perfect Passover Lamb and dying vicariously for the deaths sinners should experience. Celebrating Yeshua’s death, burial, and resurrection is more important than celebrating His birth.
WHAT WAS THE DOWNSIDE OF THE MAGI’S VISIT? The magi, seeing Messiah’s star (“Star of Bethlehem”), made the arduous trip ”from the east” to worship the King of the Jews (Matthew 2:2). Since King Herod was the Roman Jewish client king of Judea (the Herodian kingdom), a logical place to find the new King of the Jews would seemingly be in Herod’s palace.
Herod, knowing nothing about a new King, was greatly alarmed. Herod’s nation had a place for only one king, and any other king must be killed. From Tanakh prophets, the magi quoted Matthew 2:6-7: “And you, Bethlehem, land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for out of you shall come a ruler who will shepherd My people Israel.” After extracting any information the magi knew, Herod sent them on their way (planning to use them as his spies) and crafted an evil plan to eliminate the new King.
The magi found the Holy Family and worshiped the new King of the Jews. In a dream, the magi were told to have no further contact with Herod and to escape to their homes in the east.
Herod, frightened by the possibility of a new King and furious at the escape of the magi before he gathered more information, killed all boys two years old and younger in Bethlehem and vicinity, feeling that this was his best chance to eliminate a rival for his throne.
This indiscriminate killing of baby boys (Matthew 2:16-18) is called the “Massacre of the Innocents,” and is felt to fulfill the prophecy of Jeremiah (Jeremiah 31:14): Thus says Adonai: “A voice is heard in Ramah– lamentation and bitter weeping– Rachel weeping for her children, refusing to be comforted for her children, because they are no more.” Joseph had been warned in a dream to flee Judah and take Yeshua to safety in Egypt.
Satan tried on several occasions, including this one, to kill Yeshua before He completed the Father’s plan to die for the sins of all humans. One of the earliest prophecies foretold this struggle between Satan and Yeshua (Genesis 3:15): [Adonai Elohim said to the serpent, Satan] “I will put animosity between you and the woman– between your seed and her seed. He will crush your head, and you will crush his heel.” Satan “crushed Yeshua’s heel” at the crucifixion; Yeshua will “crush Satan’s head” when He casts Satan into the lake of fire and brimstone for eternity (Revelation 20:10).
WHAT WAS THE UPSIDE OF THE MAGI’S VISIT? Although the Bible is silent on the worth of the magi’s gifts and how the gifts were used, I suspect Yeshua’s parents sold the gifts to travel to Egypt and avoid the Massacre of the Innocents. As a young working man’s family, they could not otherwise afford the trip to and living expenses in Egypt. Once again, God lived up to His Hebrew name (first recorded in Genesis 22:14) of Yehovah Yireh (Jehovah Jireh) – translation, “The LORD will provide.”
By Yeshua’s going to and returning from Egypt, an unexpected trip, He fulfilled a Tanakh prophecy (Hosea 11:1b): [Adonai said] “… out of Egypt I called My son.” Matthew confirmed one of the purposes of this trip was to fulfill Hosea’s prophecy (Mathew 2:14-15): So he [Joseph] got up, took the Child [Yeshua] and His mother [Mary] during the night, and went to Egypt. He stayed there until Herod’s death. This was to fulfill what was spoken by Adonai through the prophet [Hosea], saying, “Out of Egypt I called My son.”
WHAT IS THE POSSIBLE CONNECTION OF ABRAM (ABRAHAM), MELCHIZEDEK, AND YESHUA? I have mentioned that Yeshua came as Prince (future King), Priest (future High Priest), and Prophet (no longer required in eternity). It was highly unusual for the offices of priest and king to be combined in one person.
Abram– later named Abraham– encountered such a person in his journey to Canaan– later named Israel (Genesis 14:18-20): Then Melchizedek, king of Salem, brought out bread and wine– he was a priest of El Elyon. He blessed him and said, “Blessed be Abram by El Elyon, Creator of heaven and earth, and blessed be El Elyon, Who gave over your enemies into your hand.” Then Abram gave him a tenth of everything.
Note these cross references:
● Salem = early site of Jerusalem; from shalom (“peace”). Thus, Melchizedek was King of Peace; Yeshua came as Prince of Peace.
● Of all the meals a king could serve, Melchizedek served Abram bread and wine. Is this not a forerunner of Communion, and a prophecy of Yeshua’s death on the cross for the sins of mankind?
● Melchizedek in Hebrew is Melech-Tzedek, which may be translated “King of Righteousness” or “King of Justice.” As king of Salem, Melchizedek was not Abram’s king. Abram was a Hebrew, a wanderer from a land to the east of Canaan. If this was the Messiah posing as a human king, however, Melchizedek was Abram’s Heavenly King.
● Abram gave Melchizedek a tenth of his possessions– a tithe (?). Why this much? Only would he give this much to Adonai, not to a Canaanite king he had just met.
● In the B’rit Chadashah, Melchizedek is extolled (Hebrews 7:1-4): For this Melchizedek was king of Salem, kohen of God Most High. He met Abraham returning from the defeat of the kings and blessed him, and to him Abraham apportioned a tenth of everything. First, by the translation of his name, he is “King of Righteousness;” and then also King of Salem, which is “King of Shalom.” Without father, without mother, without genealogy, having neither beginning of days nor end of life but made like Ben-Elohim, he remains a kohen for all time. Now see how great this man is! Even Abraham the patriarch gave h