Dates are important in general, and appointed times carry more significance. For example, an appointment at the dentist becomes an ‘appointed/set time’. A wedding date is an appointed day and time.
Sometimes, we cannot be certain until the event occurs, such as the birth of a baby. We might know the approximate ‘due date’, but until that date passes, or if the baby is born earlier, we cannot be certain of that ‘appointed time’. Even should the day be accurately predicted, for a natural birth we cannot know in advance the exact hour of that appointed day.
YHVH, God of Israel and Creator of the Heavens and Earth, has given to Israel His appointed times for celebration, times which we call ‘holidays’ or celebrations, or the Feasts of the LORD. Those who believe in their prophetic significance as well usually understand that they all point to the Messiah, the Son of God — born, crucified, resurrected, and coming again to be the King of the Jews, the King of Israel — indeed, the King of the whole world. God the Father has set an ‘appointed time’ that no one knows for the anticipated ‘second coming of the Lord Jesus Christ’. That implies that it will come at an unexpected time, rather than at a set time that has already been given.
I believe that Haggai (whose name means ‘My holidays/celebrations’) the Prophet gives us another appointed time of YHVH, from which time He would bless His people, overturn worldly kingdoms, and shake Heaven and Earth. This set time is the 24th of the ninth month. Three times in ch. 2 of Haggai he is given to note that date.
Shaking the heavens and the Earth are messianic terminology, and as the Apostle John writes in the Revelation, the spirit of prophecy is the testimony of Jesus. In the letter to the Hebrews, the Holy Spirit inspired the writer to say that God will again shake the heavens and Earth, and this has to do with the second coming of the Lord.
The Hebrew/Jewish months begin with the Spring, two weeks before the Passover. Usually Passover comes in April on the western calendar. The ninth month of the Hebrew calendar is Chislev, which is the month in which the Jewish holiday of Hanukkah begins — on the evening of the 24th of the ninth month, and the first of eight candles is lit. Using April as the first month, the ninth month is December. Christians celebrate the resurrection of Jesus on Easter Sonday, in the Spring. (‘Easter’ is based on a germanic word meaning ‘spring’, just as the Hebrew word ‘aviv’ is the word for Spring. Passover and the resurrection must always be in the Aviv/Spring, according to God’s instructions to Israel. For this, the lunar aspects of the calendar must be adjusted periodically to the solar ‘control’.)
Hanukkah was not a universe-shaking event, however significant it was in the history of the Jewish people and for the cleansing of the altar in the Temple. The birth of the true Savior and King was — and remains — a heaven-and-Earth-shaking event in the history of the world! With the solar calendar ‘ruling’, the Hebrew holidays shift a bit back and forth on the western calendar. Christians base the holidays on the sun (and the Sun of Righteousness has appeared!) The holidays have fixed dates according to this calendar; whereas Jewish holidays have fixed dates according the the lunar/solar calendar. (Muslims have no fixed ‘western’ dates for their holy days because their calendar is only lunar based.)
So for Christians, Easter is always the first Sunday following the first Full Moon after the Spring equinox. This fits with the commandment that the Passover must always be in the Spring/Aviv, and fall on the Full Moon. Firstfruits/the Resurrection follows, according the ch 23 of Leviticus, always should be on the ‘day after the Shabbat’, or, on the first day of the week.
It is my belief that the appointed time of the 24th of the ninth month given by YHVH to Haggai — and the consequences from that date — speaks of a ‘greater than Hanukkah’, even though Hanukkah has some partial fulfillment of a greater fulfillment (that still has not fully played out) that fulfills ‘every jot and tittle’ of the prophecy. So, in the goodness and the sovereignty of God, just as He accepted the Jewish people’s celebrations of what YHVH did for them at Hanukkah (and also Purim), so, too, has He accepted what believers in Jesus choose to celebrate: the greatest Earth-shaking act so far on that appointed day, fixed on the solar date of Dec 24/25, the One to whom all of the other appointed times of YHVH point, looking still to His return: the birth of the Lamb, the King of Israel, the Son of Mary, the Son of David, the Son of Abraham, the Son of Man, the Son of God — in fulfillment of hundreds of prophecies given to humanity of the Savior who would come to save us from our sins. YHVH God took on human flesh and bones and blood — Immanuel! From God’s point of view, it has nothing to do with paganism; that is the devil’s work to spoil all that is holy. The child was born; the Son was given to Israel; and from that time forward He is Heir to the throne of David, and of the Kingdom of God! (Isa. 9:6-7)
Let us celebrate our amazing God and King in a way that honors and glorifies Him in holiness and purity, full of love for Him and for one another. The angelic voices still ring out: Peace on Earth, goodwill towards mankind!
This article originally appeared on Streams in the Negev, December 22, 2017, and reposted with permission.