Posted by: biblestudyseattle | December 20, 2014

Jesus’ Birthday

When was Jesus’ birthday?  It wasn’t December 25th.  That tradition came about in the late fourth century by decree of the Catholic church.  First we have Jesus’ cousin John’s birth:

“In the days of Herod, king of Judea, there was a priest named Zacharias, of the division of Abijah;’  Luke 1:5

When the priests became too numerous to all serve at the same time, King David divided the priests’ service into 24 courses:

“Now the first lot came out for Jehoiarib, the second for Jedaiah, the third for Harim, the fourth for Seorim, the fifth for Malchijah, the sixth for Mijamin, the seventh for Hakkoz, the eighth for Abijah…”  1 Chronicles 24:7-10

“These were their offices for their ministry when they came in to the house of the Lord according to the ordinance given to them through Aaron their father, just as the Lord God of Israel had commanded him.”  1 Chronicles 24:19

24 weeks were allotted for all the priests twice a year.  The 3 weeks of Passover, Pentecost, and Tabernacles saw all priests serving together.  We also know that Jesus was roughly six months younger than his cousin John:

“Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the descendants of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary.  And coming in, he said to her, “Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you.”  But she was very perplexed at this statement, and kept pondering what kind of salutation this was.  The angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; for you have found favor with God.  And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name Him Jesus.”  Luke 1:26-31

“And behold, even your relative Elizabeth has also conceived a son in her old age; and she who was called barren is now in her sixth month.”  Luke 1:36

Since Zechariah served in the eighth week, Elizabeth conceived about the ninth or tenth week from Nisan 1 or Tishri 1.  There’s no direct indication in the scripture.  The clincher is Daniel:

“Seventy weeks have been decreed for your people and your holy city, to finish the transgression, to make an end of sin, to make atonement for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy and to anoint the most holy place.  So you are to know and discern that from the issuing of a decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until Messiah the Prince there will be seven weeks and sixty-two weeks; it will be built again, with plaza and moat, even in times of distress.  Then after the sixty-two weeks the Messiah will be cut off and have nothing, and the people of the prince who is to come will destroy the city and the sanctuary. And its end will come with a flood; even to the end there will be war; desolations are determined.  And he will make a firm covenant with the many for one week, but in the middle of the week he will put a stop to sacrifice and grain offering; and on the wing of abominations will come one who makes desolate, even until a complete destruction, one that is decreed, is poured out on the one who makes desolate.”  Daniel 9:24-27

This prophecy has been debated for centuries, and it’s most likely a double prophecy at a minimum.  It is very clear that the Messiah would be ‘cut off’ (dead) in the seventieth week, and that he would put a stop to sacrifice in the middle of the week.  Jesus made the ultimate sacrifice in the middle of the seventieth week.  Since he was crucified Nisan 14, he must have started his ministry three and a half years earlier, around the time of the Fall festivals.  Now Like tells us:

“When He began His ministry, Jesus Himself was about thirty years of age.”  Luke 3:23

Notice he says, “about thirty”.   Tells us that Jesus was born in the fall.  But exactly when?  John the Baptist was conceived about the ninth or tenth week from Nisan 1, sometime in Sivan.  Possibly right after Pentecost.  Jesus would then have been conceived in Kislev, possibly during Hanukkah?  John’s gospel refers to the ‘light’ that was come into the world.  Was this a hint that Jesus was conceived during the Festival of Lights?  Possibly.  The exact date seems impossible to determine from the scriptures, although we will continue to look into this.

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