Christmas Trees are Grown from Jewish Seed!
by Scott Brown
Recently, I asked a roomful of Christians if they could tell me what Jewish holiday is fast approaching. One shouted: ''Hanukah!'' and another corrected her, saying that Hanukah was over.
When I said that the holiday in question was CHRISTMAS, there were smiles and groans from people who thought I was making a cultural joke — or tricking them. But I was doing neither.
As I write, in a matter of hours, a significant percentage of the earth's population will celebrate its most cherished holiday. In our nation alone, 2.6 billion Christmas cards have already been mailed, with a price tag of just under $3 billion. Untold billions will have been spent on special gifts, foods, lights, trees, and who-knows-what else...
— But when you peel away all the pomp and glitter, the wreaths and roping, the carols and snow-in-a-can; the fruitcake and egg nog;
— When you bulldoze away the layers of meaningless fluff and the unholy trinity of Christmas. (Santa + Rudolph + Frosty)
— When you clear the air of all those Christmas SALES and Christmas BONUSES and Christmas TV SPECIALS...
— When all the smoke is cleared and the dishes put away, all you have left is one tiny, nearly forgotten 'SEED'... and it just happens to be Jewish.
And it's not just that seed itself is Jewish.
— The men and women who anticipated its arrival for 2000 years were all Jews
— The book that first announced its coming is the core... of all Jewish religion and philosophy (Torah)
— The history and culture that enshrouds it is Jewish
— The ''womb'' that bore it was Jewish
— The land in which it arrived was Jewish
— The men to whom its arrival was first announced were Jewish men
— and all the eyes which first rested on it, the hands which first cradled it, were Jewish eyes and Jewish hands
In fact, aside from the layers of shmaltz that merry-makers have added over the centuries, I am hard pressed to find one thing about Christmas that is NOT Jewish!
Granted, some would object strongly to that statement: Christmas; a ''JEWISH HOLIDAY?''
''The MOTHER MARY? The VIRGIN BIRTH?
Sounds Catholic to me!''
''Anyway, WE JEWS DON'T BELIEVE IN THIS 'MIRACLE BIRTH' hocus pocus!''
I'm always a little embarrassed for the person saying that, because it's kind of like a plant saying, ''Plants don't believe in photosynthesis!''
If it weren't for miraculous births, there'd be none of us Jews around to argue against miraculous birth!
— ABRAHAM (himself reproductively dead, married to a barren woman... is declared to be the FATHER OF NATIONS (the Jewish nation being one)
— ISAAC (age 40, marries a barren woman [Rebekah]; he pleads for a miracle birth and he gets one... in fact, he gets 2 for the price of one!
— JACOB ( speaking of 2 for the price of one...) marries 2 women, but his favorite, beloved wife, Rachel, is also barren... she prays for a miracle and births JOSEPH (and later Benjamin).
Like it or not, my Jewish brethren have to include ''miracle births'' on their list of things to be thankful for!
— Like it or not, CHRISTMAS / YOM YESHUA / MESSIAHMAS ...whatever you call it; celebrating the Messiah's birth is definitely a Jewish thing to do, because it focuses on one of the most prominent themes in the Hebrew Scriptures.
THE MESSIANIC SEED
Today, I want to take you on a brief tour in relation to this SEED as it is revealed in the Tenach [Hebrew Bible] in the hope of answering Charlie Brown's frustrated question (every year; Christmas special, ''DOESN'T ANYONE KNOW THE REAL MEANING OF CHRISTMAS??''
The seed first appears in a GARDEN (where we would expect to find a seed) - the ''first lady'' of the human race has been deceived by ''HA-SATAN'' (the deceiver — Satan); the deception is passed on to her husband, Adam, and together they begin to experience (for the first time), the awful consequence of SPIRITUAL DEATH.
These two who had lived with perfect dignity and wholeness in the presence of God are plunged into the state of walking death that would become the legacy of all their progeny. In one simple act of disobedience, the Power of Sin introduced them to Guilt / Shame / Fear / Pride... and worst of all, SEPARATION from GOD. These would become the common experiences of every child of Adam, down to the present generation. We call it ''life.''
But it's not the life God intended for us. So, moments after that first human couple tasted spiritual death, God announces the Great Hope: that one day, a seed will come which will break the cycle of sin and bear the fruit of Spiritual Life (Genesis 3:15, speaking to the Deceiver):
''I will put enmity between you and the woman and between your seed and her seed. He shall bruise your head and you shall bruise His heel.''
There is overwhelming evidence that Classical Judaism saw this as a prophecy of the Messiah, for example:
— The Talmud interprets this verse as referring to the ''heels of the Messiah''
— (Midrash) - ''This is that seed that is coming from another place... and who is this? This is the King Messiah!
— (Palestinian Targum) - ''this is the promise of the heeling of the serpents' fate at the end of days, in the days of King Messiah''
But what of this ''seed of the woman?'' According to the Biblical narrative, posterity is never reckoned from the female but always after the male!
But here, the conqueror of man's great enemy is the ''seed of the woman,'' who inflicts a crushing blow to the adversary's head, while only taking a slight wound to the heel. Why the ''seed of the WOMAN?''
This would have to be the seed of a woman, because the seed of man was now subject to the power of sin! — No one born the usual way (of the union of man and woman) could overcome the cycle of sin; he must be born OUTSIDE the cycle! It must be a miraculous birth.
Eve herself seemed to understand this promise to mean the supernatural entrance of the Lord into the human sphere.
Upon the birth of her first child, she shouts with excitement: ''KA-NEE-TEE / EESH / ET-ADONAI!'' (Literally rendered: ''I have gotten a man, the Lord!'')
Eve's expression (though incorrect when applied to Cain) is in perfect harmony with the plain meaning of God's promise: She understood that God Himself would intervene on behalf of fallen humanity; that this supernatural dilemma would require a supernatural solution, by means of a supernatural birth.
But let's continue the tour, because this is not the last we hear of this ''seed of the woman,'' this miraculous, Messianic birth. [Isaiah 7:10]
Context: Syria and the 10 northern tribes (''Ephraim'') are trying to force AHAZ (King of Judah, the southern tribes) to join them in a rebellion against the Assyrians. God promises to protect Judah.
In the text, God says to Ahaz:
''Let me prove my promise with a sign!'' (Isaiah 7: 10-11) Yet Ahaz refuses (God knew that Ahaz had no intention of trusting God for this victory; he was making political deals with Assyria!) (see v. 12)
He goes BEYOND Ahaz to the HOUSEHOLD the ''House of David.'' The pronoun here: ''YOU'' is suddenly PLURAL (v 13, 14). God promises a ''sign.''
What is this sign? ''Almah'' will conceive'' (a young maiden betrothed; Almah - is used 7 times in the Old Testament to refer to VIRGIN)
Isaiah spoke of the House of David conceiving ''HA-ALMAH'' (''the virgin'') - (not A virgin; but THE virgin)
— His use of the definite article shows that he assumed on the part of the audience, a knowledge of this woman, and rightly so... for every Jew with ears to hear would have remembered God's promise of ''the woman'' in that first book of the Torah; the woman who (by Eve's own profession), would bring forth the Lord.
There seemed to be a common expectation (in Israel) of a Messianic figure conceived without a human father.
—Psalm 22 details the death of one who is publicly executed by means of CRUCIFIXION.
— In vv. 9-10, the Psalmist mentions the mother of the sufferer but says nothing of a father.
In another famous prophecy (Isaiah 49), the Messiah is seen as having a mother, but no mention is made of a father.
— And here again, (Isaiah 7), God kindly broadens our vision. This miracle-seed , this savior, would come to be known as Immanuel - God with us.
Let's move on to the next stop on this prophetic tour of the SEED...
— We know it is to be the seed of a woman, but WHAT woman? (pretty wide field of possibilities out there!)
— the field narrows in Genesis 22 where the seed is identified as the seed of Abraham, the seed of a woman descended of Abraham.
In the passage, Abraham is promised:
''in your seed all the ''goyim'' shall be blessed [goyim refers to nations, Gentiles]
Now, the English word ''seed'' can be used in the singular or plural sense;
The same is true of the Hebrew word for seed: ''ZE-RAH'' (Singular/Plural) and the context always decides [Examples]:
1 - Genesis 13:16, ''I will make thy seed as the dust of the earth (zerah here is plural)
2 - (Adam's statement:) ''God hath appointed me another seed instead of Abel'' (zerah here is singular)
When God said to Abraham: ''in your seed, all nations...'' was he speaking of one seed, or of all the descendants of Abraham?
Let's consider some facts:
— He certainly was not referring to Isaac or Jacob (son/grandson) because the same promise was repeated to them....
— so the question remains: Was He speaking of all of Jacob's descendants (Jews) or only one ? There are two points to consider:
A) Although a blessing has flowed out to the world through the descendants of Abraham, (in that Israel has been used mightily in preserving the knowledge of God), but this is not the promise God makes.
— The promise is that the seed ITSELF shall bless all nations, and this cannot truly be said of Israel.
B) Second, the Lord assured Abraham, ''thy seed shall possess the gate of his enemies.''
— One doesn't need much knowledge of the Jewish history to know this has never been completely true of Israel, except for brief periods of peace (and then, only superficial). Israel's history is written in blood.
It seems that this ''seed of Abraham'' cannot refer to all Abraham's literal descendants, but to ONE (the seed) who will bring a universal blessing and relief from the curse.
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Rabbi Paul seems to have no doubt about this question of Abraham's seed. [Galatians 3:16] ''Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made.'' He does not say: ''And to seeds,'' as of many, but as of one. ''And to your seed, '' who is Messiah.
It seems clear that He who is called the ''seed of the woman,'' and elsewhere, ''Immanuel,'' is here called ''Abraham's seed.''
The next leg of this whistle-stop tour of the Messianic seed, looks to Jacob, the last of the Patriarchs.
— In Genesis 49, Jacob is on his death bed. But the Spirit of God gives him a glimpse into the future that narrows the field even more.
— To this point, we know the seed will be of ''the woman'' (miraculous birth).
We know that he would:
— crush serpent's head
— be born of ''HA-ALMAH'' (the virgin)
— be known as ''Immanuel '' (God with us)
— be one of Abraham's descendants
— bring a universal blessing
Now, here in Genesis 49, dying Jacob passes by his 3 older sons to give us another piece of the puzzle:
—This promised seed would be descended of Judah (Genesis 49:10 reads: ''The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh comes; And to Him shall be the obedience of the people.''
Once again, the rabbinic references to this passage overwhelmingly identify it as MESSIANIC, referring to a personal Messiah. (confer the Targums / Talmud / Zohar / Bereshit-Rabba)
— even Rashi states: ''Shiloh'' = ''King Messiah, whose is the Kingdom.''
To this point, the seed of the woman is born of ''HA-ALMAH,'' he is known as ''Immanuel,'' which means God with us, ''he is a descendant of Abraham and a descendant of his great-grandson, Judah.''
And the field continues to narrow,
NEXT STOP: Psalm 89 (The seed would be descendant of King David)
"I have made a covenant with My chosen, I have sworn to My servant David: Your seed I will establish forever, and build up your throne to all generations.'" Selah
— Some would argue that this ''seed'' is none other than David's son, Solomon, but Isaiah dashes that argument to pieces
According to Isaiah, this seed of David will reign on the throne of David forever, and there will be no end of the increase of his PEACEFUL government
— This is found in Isaiah 9:7, but the preceding verse reveals even more about him:
— He is not only DAVIDIC, He is DIVINE
— ''For unto us a child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.''
This kind of language is reserved for two kinds of people in Israel: KINGS and PRIESTS
— How fitting .... (Messiah is both King and Priest)
''a child is born.'' Once again the focus is on his birth:
— ''the government will be upon His shoulder'' Kings (in ancient oriental cultures) were inducted into office by laying the keys of the principal city on their shoulders.
Isaiah 22: ''The key of the House of David I will lay upon his shoulder. He shall open and none shall shut; he shall shut, and none shall open.''
This boy-child of Isaiah 9:6 will be a King, having absolute authority... but there is more:
'' His name will be called Wonderful-Counselor'' ''PELEH-YO-AYTZ''
Here ''wonderful'' is not equal to ''a great guy''
''PELEH'' denotes WONDER in the strictest sense!
Of God it is said: (Isaiah 25) ''I will exalt thee, I will praise thy name, for thou hast done [PELEH] wonderful things, even counsels of old.'' Notice the pairing of the two terms, ''wonderful'' + ''counsels.''
This son who is given, is ''wonderful,'' just as GOD is wonderful!
— We see that word, PELEH (or FELEH) again in the passage Jewish worshipers proclaim every Shabbat (Exodus 15:11) — ''Who is like thee; glorious in holiness, fearful in praises, ... ''OSAY-FELEH'' (doing wonders)
Look at his second title: He is a child who is born, a son who is given, but he is called, EL-GIBBOR (mighty God).
— Whoever this is, he is both human and Divine! In the Hebrew Scriptures ''EL-GIBBOR'' is used only to speak of God. In Psalm 24 the question is posed: ''Who is the King of Glory?'' The response is: ''ADONAI EE-ZOOZ V'GIBOR ADONAI GIBOR MIL-CHAMA,'' ... ''The Lord strong and mighty, the Lord mighty in battle.''
The third title: ''AVI-AD,'' ... ''Father of Eternity,'' The Spirit of God indicating that He has eternal existence.
Finally: ''SAR-SHALOM,'' ... ''Prince of Peace,''
— not only is this child (the seed of David) given absolute dominion
— not only does He perform WONDERS in counsel
— not only is He known as the MIGHTY GOD / DIVINE HERO / ETERNALLY EXISTING
... but best of all, He will have the authority and power to give us what we could not obtain for ourselves: SHALOM (Peace); that glorious peace that is promised to the earth upon the incarnation of Israel's Messiah:
''And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying: 'Glory to God in the highest, and on earth... SHALOM''
The question is often asked: WHY THE INCARNATION?
— Couldn't God have dealt with sin and saved man without His coming into the world by means of a virgin birth?
— And if God is Omnipotent (all powerful), why didn't He just WIPE OUT SIN altogether?
Consider the facts:
1) Man is his own free moral agent
2) God never forces His will. To do so would thwart His divine purposes.
You see, the problem is not that God lacks the power!
The only problem which faced the Almighty was to reveal Himself to our dying race in such a way as not to overpower our will, but to allow us to exercise our own freedom of choice.
When all things are considered, it is seen that the incarnation is the only method that would solve the problem legally, without wiping all of us off the face of the earth.
And so (as Rabbi Paul writes in Galatians 4)
— ''When the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Torah, to redeem those who were under the Torah, that we might receive the adoption as sons.''
The promised seed has arrived.
Though his heel was wounded in the process, Satan's head is crushed; the cycle of sin is ended.
Messiah's birth was not accidental or chance happening. It was all for a purpose. His coming to this earth was carefully planned and precisely orchestrated by an intelligence far beyond our comprehension. All for a purpose: He was born to die.
It's an intricate and interesting story, of course, but unless you know Yeshua (Jesus) personally—unless you have accepted Him as your Savior and made Him Lord of your life—it is all wasted and useless effort as far as you are concerned. As you gain a deeper understanding of God's plan for the salvation of mankind, you will be drawn closer to Messiah, and will gain a greater appreciation for what has been done in your behalf.
After all, that's the bottom line: it was all done for you. The birth, death, and resurrection of a sinless Redeemer was God's personal gift to you. All that remains for you is to accept the gift.