Sunday, 2 October 2016

Exact day of the birth of Yah'shua

Towards the end of each year the season of feasts in many cultures will be upon us once again.

These will include Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, Sukkot, Muharram, Dasara, Mawlid an Nabi, Christmas, Diwali, Muharram, Ashura, Rohatsu and the like.

Since we now know that the 25th of December celebrates the birth of the evil Baal god, Tammuz, on what date then was Jesus Christ born? (see here)

... and as followers of the Truth, what is our role in all this?

To our surprise the date of the birth of Christ can be accurately determined from scripture itself.
What's to celebrate?

Let me just reiterate right from the start that Jesus never said to celebrate His birthday. There is only one feast that He suggested to celebrate as often as we could - Himself! Life! 1Co 11:26

So, the purpose of determining the date is of mere academic value ... but also to bring perspective that it is not about our man-made feasts; not about a person; not about a ritual; not about all the decorations; not about a compromised day ... our relationship is about a Person!

He says about man's feasts in Isaiah 1:14:
Your new moons and your appointed feasts my soul hateth: they are a trouble unto me; I am weary to bear them.
... and then goes on to explain, through out the whole of the book of Isaiah, that Jesus is the appointed feast!

Still in need of a date?

Then let's look at the date, if you really want a date.

In order to determine the date we'll go step by step:

Step 1: The Temple Duty Cycles

The Bible is very specific with regards to the dates determined for Temple duty for the Levites (Zecharias, the father of John the Baptist was a Levite Priest) and these were strictly adhered to from generation to generation leading up to the birth of Christ.

According to Scripture a schedule for Levite priest groups to perform yearly temple duty was determined by king David on the instructions given by God (1 Chr 28:11-13; 1 Chr 24:1-4). 24 groups (course) were established to perform temple duty in a fixed sequence. These were: 

1 Chr 24:7
1. Jehoiarib
2. Jedaiah
1 Chr 24:8
3. Harim
4. Seorim
1 Chr 24:9
5. Malchijah
6. Mijamin
1 Chr 24:10
7. Hakkoz
8. Abijah
1 Chr 24:11
9. Jeshuah
10. Shecaniah
1 Chr 24:12
11. Eliashib
12. Jakim
1 Chr 24:13
13. Huppah
14. Jeshebeab
1 Chr 24:14
15. Bilgah
16. Immer
1 Chr 24:15
17. Hezir
18. Aphses
1 Chr 24:16
19. Pethahiah
20. Jehezekel
1 Chr 24:17
21. Jachim
22. Gamul
1 Chr 24:18
23. Delaiah
24. Maaziah

According to Josephus (Antiquities of the Jews, Book 7, Chapter 14, Paragraph 7) the distribution of the course were determined by lot, in the presence of David, Zadok and Abiathar, the high priest. The course which came up first was written down as the first, and accordingly the second, and so on to the twenty-fourth. This partition hath remained to this day.

Very specifically, each one of the 24 groups (courses) of priests would begin and end their service in the temple on the Sabbath, the length of duty being one week (2 Chr 23:8, 1 Chr 9:25). Yet, on three occasions during the year, all the men of Israel were required to travel to Jerusalem for the festivals of the Lord. For these three occasions all the priests were required to do temple duty. The three festivals were that of Unleavened Bread, Pentecost, and Tabernacles (Deut 16:16).

We have to note that the Jewish calendar begins in the spring, during the month of Nisan. The first group scheduled for temple duty would be that of the Jehoiarib family serving for one week - Sabbath to Sabbath. When the schedule was completed (ending with Maaziah), the cycle would repeat (starting with Jehoiarib). Accordingly, the schedule covers 51 weeks or 357 days, enough for the Jewish calendar year (about 354 days). Notice that in the period of a year each group of priests would perform temple duty twice in addition to the 3 major festivals. This brings the tally to about five weeks each of Temple duty per group (course).

Step 2 - Zachariah's turn and how this accounts for the birth of Jesus.

The book of Luke goes to great length describing the temple duties of Zachariah, the father of John the Baptist:

1:5 There was in the days of Herod, the king of Judaea, a certain priest named Zacharias, of the course of Abia: and his wife was of the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elisabeth.

1:8 And it came to pass, that while he executed the priest's office before God in the order of his course, ...

1:23 And it came to pass, that, as soon as the days of his ministration were accomplished, he departed to his own house.

1:24 And after those days his wife Elisabeth conceived.

Step 3 - Can we get the date and time here please?

Zachariah's temple duty, according to the Levite courses had to be in the spring (March-April), during the 10th week of that year. This is because he was a member of the course of Abijah, the 8th course. Both the Feast of Unleavened Bread (15-21 Nisan) and Pentecost (6 Sivan) would have occurred before his scheduled duty. So, Zacharias' administration in the Temple is easily determined to have begun on the second Sabbath of the third month, Sivan (May-June). He would have completed his temple service on the third Sabbath of Sivan and returned home and then immediately conceived his son John. Scripture tells us that John the Baptist was conceived shortly after the third Sabbath of the month of Sivan.

Step 4 - From here, how do you get to Jesus?

The reason why the information about John is important, is because Jesus was conceived by the Holy Spirit in the sixth month of Elisabeth's pregnancy (according to the book of Luke). Let's continue in Luke 1 again:

1:24 And after those days his wife Elisabeth conceived, and hid herself five months, saying,

1:25 Thus hath the Lord dealt with me in the days wherein he looked on me, to take away my reproach among men.

1:26 And in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God unto a city of Galilee, named Nazareth,

1:27 To a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin's name was Mary.

We have to note here that verse 26 emphasizes the sixth month of Elisabeth's pregnancy (not Elul, the sixth month of the Hebrew calendar clarified by the context of verse 24 as well as verse 36, but the sixth month of her pregnancy).

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.

Step 5 - Still counting months ...

So, Mary stayed with Elizabeth for the last 3 months of her pregnancy, until John the Baptist was born.

1:56 And Mary abode with her about three months, and returned to her own house.

1:57 Now Elisabeth's full time came that she should be delivered; and she brought forth a son

Human gestational averages 38 weeks (8.74 months) from conception. However, pregnancy is customarily measured from the date of the last menstrual period — about 2 weeks before conception. By this scale, pregnancy lasts 40 weeks, or 9.20 monthsCounting then from the conception of John the Baptist shortly after the third Sabbath of the month of Sivan, a term of 10 lunar months (40 weeks), takes us to the month of Nisan for the birth of John the Baptist. It appears that John the Baptist may have been born in the middle of the month, coinciding with Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread on the 15th day of Nisan (first month on the Jewish calendar in very early Spring - April). It becomes even more interesting to note that even today, the Jews in accordance with the prophecy in Malachi 4:5, would set out a special place at the Passover Seder meal in anticipation of the arrival of Elijah at this very time.

Even Jesus identified John as the "Elijah" that the Jews had expected:
And his disciples asked him, saying, Why then say the scribes that Elias must first come? And Jesus answered and said unto them, Elias truly shall first come, and restore all things. But I say unto you, That Elias is come already, and they knew him not, but have done unto him whatsoever they listed. Likewise shall also the Son of man suffer of them. Then the disciples understood that he spake unto them of John the Baptist. Mat 17:10
And the angel that appeared to Zacharias in the temple also indicated that John would be the expected "Elias":
And he shall go before him in the spirit and power of Elias, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just; to make ready a people prepared for the Lord. Luke 1:17
Step 6 - Counting months to the birth of Jesus

Since Jesus was conceived exactly six months after John the Baptist and we have determined the date for John's birth, we need only to add six more months to arrive at the date for the birth of Jesus. 

Doing this simple math brings us to the 15th day of the 7th month (Tishri).

Amazingly, we arrive at another Jewish feast, the Feast of Tabernacles! (see here and here and here). The 15th day of Tishri is the beginning of the third and last festival of the Jewish year which all the men of Israel were compelled to attend in Jerusalem for Temple services (Lev 23:34). On the western Greko-Roman calendar this brings us normally to the end of September but for 2016 it will bring us to 17 October (last days of Summer in Israel. Remember the dates on the western calendar differs every year because of the length of the Jewish lunar year being 353, 354 or 355 days, while a leap Hebrew calendar year (every 7th year) can have a length of 383, 384 or 385 days, compared to our fixed 365¼ days.) 

The birth of Jesus Christ is the fulfillment of the feast of Tabernacles starting on 15 Tishri in the Hebrew year 5777 or 17 October 2016 on the Greko-Roman calendar (Sukkot - see here, here and here)

What is our role?

Focus on Jesus. Not just the baby Jesus in the crib, the way the enemy wants the world to see Him, but the all-mighty, all-victorious, all-lovely, all-loving, resurrected and abiding Jesus, who resides within you right now!

Help people to celebrate Jesus, our King and lover, our precious Saviour, our wonderful Redeemer and Victor by celebrating His body and His blood as often as they can!

All honour, all power, all glory, all praise to Him who sits upon the throne and onto the Lamb that was slain!
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