Saturday, February 18, 2012

Jesus was NOT born on December 25th

        I've noticed that there are a lot of articles and videos going around that try to make Jesus into a pagan copycat, and that the similarity they cite the most is the birth date of December 25th. So, this article is going to show some evidence that he was NOT born on December 25th.

        First, we need to determine the birth date of John the Baptist, since that's what's going to let us determine the birth date of Jesus Christ.

        In (Luke 1:5) we see that John the Baptist's father, Zacharias, was a Levitical priest of the course of Abia (Abijah). This is a very important detail.

        In (1st Chronicles 24:1-4) we see that King David divided the sons of Aaron into 24 courses (groups) to create an orderly schedule by which the temple of the Lord could be staffed for the year. Once these courses were established, lots were drawn to determine the sequence each group would serve in the temple (1st Chronicles 24:7-19). The cycle started in the month of Nisan (March/April). Each of the 24 course of priests would begin and end their service on the weekly Sabbath for a tour of duty of one week (2nd Chronicles 23:8, 1st Chronicles 9:25), and would serve twice a year. 

        The course of Abia was the eighth course, but they didn't serve in the eighth week of the cycle. We have to factor in three special, week-long Feasts wherein ALL of the priests were to come to the temple and serve. In (Deuteronomy 16:16) we see that these three Feasts were the Passover (The Feast of Unleavened Bread), Pentecost (The Feast of Weeks), and Sukkot (The Feast of Tabernacles). These special Feasts did NOT count as a course's week of duty, so after each of these three Feasts they still had to fulfill their normal week of service. By the time the course of Abia had rolled around two of these Feasts had taken place (Passover and Pentecost), meaning that the course of Abia would actually serve on the TENTH week of the cycle, which would have been the second week of the month of Sivan (May/June). (Click on the chart below to make it bigger.)

        This is when Zacharias served in the temple, and during this time he was visited by the angel Gabriel and told that he and his wife would soon be the parents of John the Baptist. Doubting this, he was struck mute and told he could talk again when the baby was born (Luke 1:20). As soon as his service was over he went straight home (Luke 1:23).

        Next, (Luke 1:24) tells us that "after those days" his wife conceived. Now, some people argue that the words 'after those days' could mean any span of time, but seeing as how Zacharias was a Levitical priest with lots of duties to perform, and seeing as how Gabriel had told him that he wouldn't be able to talk again until AFTER the baby was born, I can't imagine him wasting any time in doing his part to bring the baby into the world. Thus, it's at least somewhat safe to conclude that his wife, Elisabeth, became pregnant with John only a few days after Zecharias returned home, if not a few hours. (Luke 1:24) then tells us that Elisabeth hid herself away FIVE months after conception.

        Next, (Luke 1:26-27) tells us that in the SIXTH month of Elisabeth's pregnancy the angel Gabriel visited the virgin Mary to tell her that she will conceive Jesus, the Son of God.

(Luke 1:26-27)
26. And in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God unto a city of Galilee, named Nazareth,
27. to a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin's name was Mary.

        Some people argue that this is referring to the sixth month of the Jewish calendar, which would be Elul (August/September), but (Luke 1:36) shows us differently:

(Luke 1:36)
And, behold, thy cousin Elisabeth, she hath also conceived a son in her old age: and this is the SIXTH month with her, who was called barren.

        Obviously, Gabriel is telling Mary that Elisabeth was already six months into her pregnancy. If (Luke 1:26) was talking about the sixth month on the CALENDAR, counting back through six months worth of pregnancy would put Elisabeth's conception some time in the Hebrew month of Adar (February/March). But we know from what we've gone over so far that she conceived some time late in the month of Sivan (May/June).

        Now here comes an important part. Having learned that she will conceive Jesus, and having learned of Elisabeth's pregnancy, Mary makes a speedy trip to Judea to visit her. And it's in this time that she conceives Jesus. Look at what Elisabeth says to Mary when she arrives and then at what Mary says in return:

(Luke 1:43)
And whence is this to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?

        She knew Mary was already a mother by that point. And look at what Mary says back to her:

(Luke 1:47-48)
47. And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my savior,
48. For he hath regarded the low estate of his handmaiden; for, behold, from HENCEFORTH all generations shall call me blessed.

        The emphasis is mine. Notice that she essentially says from THEN ON she would be called blessed. In other words, she has already become the mother of Jesus. Look at the next verse:

(Luke 1:49)
For he that is mighty HATH DONE to me great things; and holy is his name.

        Notice that she said 'hath done,' not WILL DO. In other words, it had already been done. She had already conceived.

        Now, keep in mind that this happens when Elisabeth is six months pregnant. It's pretty clear what this means: Jesus will be born six months AFTER John the Baptist.

        So, when was John the Baptist born? Given that the average duration of a pregnancy is 40 weeks (google it), or 10 lunar months (280-290 days), we can find out by seeing what month comes up ten months after Sivan (May/June):

Tammuz (June/July)
Av (July/August)
Elul (August/September)
Tishri (September/October)
Marheshwan (October/November)
Kislev (Novemeber/December)
Tevet (December/January)
Shevat (January/February)
Adar (February/March)
Nisan (March/April)

         We come to the month of Nisan. And if we were to wager that Elisabeth gave birth exactly 40 weeks after her baby's conception, which happened exactly half way through Sivan, then we'd conclude that John the Baptist was born exactly half way through Nisan. That's interesting, considering that half way through Nisan comes the Passover (Exodus chap. 12). This is the FIRST of the three major Feasts the Jews hold throughout the year (there are seven altogether).

        What's significant about John the Baptist being born on this date? John the Baptist was being sent ahead of Jesus to prepare the way for him and to get everyone ready for his arrival:

(Matthew 3:1-3)
1. In those days came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judaea,
2. And saying, Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.
3. For this is he that was spoken of by the prophet Esaias (Isaiah), saying, "The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight."

(Isaiah 40:3)
The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the LORD, make straight in the desert a highway for our God.

         Now here's the important part: Remember how Jesus was conceived SIX months after John the Baptist? To see what month Jesus was born in, let's count six months from Nisan and see what month we come to:

Iyar (April/May)
Sivan (May/June)
Tammuz (June/July)
Av (July/August)
Elul (August/September)
Tishri (September/October)

        We come to the month of Tishri, which is interesting, considering that in Tishri comes Sukkot, the Feast of Tabernacles. This is when ALL JEWS would make the pilgrimage to Jerusalem to visit the temple and dwell in temporary tents or booths (tabernacles) for eight days. Needless to say, the inns were packed full. In fact, the inns in many outlying towns were packed full, as well. Caesar Augustus had also just issued a decree that the whole known world should be taxed, bringing that many more people to all the cities to pay their taxes (Luke 2:1). Joseph, Mary's husband, went to Bethlehem to pay their taxes (Luke 2:4-5), and being that Bethlehem is only five miles away from Jerusalem, all the inns were full. THAT is why (Luke 2:7) says there was no room for them at the inn.

(Luke 2:7)
And she brought forth her first-born son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.

        The Feast of Tabernacles was, and is, Jesus' birthday. That's why it will still be observed during the millenial kingdom when Christ rules on the earth for 1,000 years (Zechariah 14:16-19).

        Jesus was born on the Feast of Tabernacles because that is when God was made flesh into a human body. That human body was his tabernacle. And for proof that the word 'tabernacle' spiritually refers to the body:

(2nd Corinthians 5:1-4)
1. For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.
2. For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed upon with our house which is from heaven:
3. If so be that being clothed we shall not be found naked.
4. For we that are in this tabernacle do groan, being burdened: not for that we would be unclothed, but clothed upon, that mortality might be swallowed up of life.