Jesus Born on the Feast of Tabernacles
I believe The Feast of Tabernacles to be the day that Jesus was born. Since the fourth century, December 25 has been recognized as the day of His birth, but it is generally recognized that this date was likely set due to the “Christianization” of pagan holidays. December 25th was a pagan holiday called Saturnalia, which celebrated the winter solstice.
Many different factors point to Jesus’ birth being in the fall rather than the winter. Scholars have calculated that John the Baptist was likely born on Passover based on the schedule that the priests served in the Temple, since John’s father, Zechariah, was performing Temple duties when the angel appeared to him and prophesied John’s birth. Zechariah’s wife Elizabeth became pregnant shortly after. We know that Elizabeth was six months pregnant when the angel appeared to Mary to tell her of Jesus’ birth (Luke 1:26-31). If John the Baptist was born on Passover, Jesus was born six months later, during the month of Tishri, the month of the Feast of Tabernacles.
Another factor which suggests that Jesus was born on the Feast of Tabernacles is that we know that there was “no room in the inn” when Mary and Joseph traveled to Bethlehem. The Feast of Tabernacles was one of the three feasts when the men of Israel were required to appear before the Lord (Deut. 16:16). Since everyone would travel to Jerusalem to appear before the Lord, the surrounding area would likely be very crowded, thus “no room in the inn”. We also know that shepherds were watching their flocks in the fields when Jesus was born. The flocks around Bethlehem were normally brought into a “sheepfold” or corral during the winter (approximately November through February).
How appropriate if Jesus (Immanuel, God with us) should make His dwelling place with us during the Feast of Tabernacles.
A custom on the Feast of Tabernacles during the time of Jesus was a ceremony of pouring water. On the last day of the feast, called Hoshanna Rabbah, a priest would fill a water pitcher from the Pool of Siloam and carry it back to the Temple, followed by a procession of the people dancing, singing and chanting Psalms. The procession circled the altar seven times then the priest poured the water at the Temple altar. This was followed by rejoicing.
It was at this time during the Feast of Tabernacles, that Jesus made the declaration found in John 7:37-39:
On the last and greatest day of the Feast, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.” By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive.” (NIV)
A Theory of Jesus’ Future Fulfillment of Tabernacles
The Feast of Tabernacles is a time to rejoice! Many believe that on this day, the Messiah Jesus will establish His kingdom on earth for one thousand years.
The saints reigning with Jesus for one thousand years is described in Revelation 20:4:
“And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and Judgment was given to them. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of the testimony of Jesus and because of the word of God, and those who had not worshipped the beast or his image, and had not received the mark upon their forehead and upon their hand; and they came to life and reigned with Messiah for a thousand years.”
When Jesus establishes His kingdom on earth, all nations will celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles (Zechariah 14:16-19):
Then the survivors from all the nations that have attacked Jerusalem will go up year after year to worship the King, the LORD Almighty, and to celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles. (NIV)