Christmas is misunderstood by many people and not understood at all by others, and not even questioned by the majority. As to, "Is that the birth of Christ?" It doesn't take much of a Bible student to know Christ was not born in the middle of winter. But at the same time we have some people that recognize this fact that Christ was not born in the middle of winter and they pull their children totally away from that holiday because they do not understand what did happen on December the 25th. Was December the 25th a pagan holiday? It wouldn't matter whether it was or not. Christians celebrate it because of its relationship to Jesus Christ.
It is very easy to prove and document in God's Word that the conception, of Jesus Christ took place on December the 25th not His birth. You with Companion Bibles are very fortunate, for in Appendix 179 your homework is done for you and there are far more details to document that December the 25th as the day of conception above what I will even give. But it is important that you not rob your children because of your ignorance, that is not knowing what December the 25th truly is. You see we have adults that will even refuse to let their children celebrate the conception and they are the ones then that become pagans because of their ignorance of the fact that it was the conception, that day when Christ began to dwell with man.
So, let us go to our Father's Word and understand the date it's quite easy to do. We're going to do it in the book of St. Luke.
Luke meaning "the light giver". So with that name Luke the light giver, let's understand the date of the conception and birth of Christ so that you know from our Fathers' Word rather than what men might say.
LUKE 1:1 Forasmuch as many have taken in hand to set forth in order a declaration of those things which are most surely believed among us,
Those events that happened to Christ, around Christ's, and Christ's teachings. Many have taken a pen to set it down.
LUKE 1:2 Even as they delivered them unto us, which from the beginning were eyewitnesses, and ministers of the word;
The people that were there that were eye-witnesses and actually experienced.
LUKE 1:3 It seemed good to me also, having had perfect understanding of all things from the very first, to write unto thee in order, most excellent Theophilus,
Theophilus means "friend of God". I'm not going to say I doubt there was a man named Theophilus that this was written to, but it fully translated rather than transliterated it means "dear friend of God" or "dear fellow Christian" . So Luke thinking of you.
LUKE 1:4 That thou mightest know the certainty of those things, wherein thou hast been instructed.
You would know for sure, no guessing games. That you would have a real grip on it, the specifics of those things that were instructed. Luke in this Gospel is very specific as I fore stated.
Get you thinking caps on it's not difficult, so stay with me.
LUKE 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.
Elizabeth "the daughter of God", "the daughter of Yah". She was a special daughter she was chosen by Him.
What do we have here? We have a date. Zacharias was of Aaron, meaning he was a Levite, and to serve as a priest he could only marry a Levite. He had to be married to a daughter of Aaron as well as being a full-blood Levite himself or he could not serve a course.
Now, what is Abia? You'll find the answer in 1 Chronicles 24:10. It's the eighth order and it is that week a priest must go to serve. This particular time, Abia, would have fallen on June the 13th through the 19th. I'm not going to go into the year, I simply want to fix the time of the year. Those of you with Companion Bibles the year is fixed and this is the date in that year of Herod that this event took place. So, when it say he was of the order of Abia, it simply means that he was there from June the 13th through the 19th.
The case in which I build, is this: John the Baptist was born exactly six months before the birth of Christ. The pregnancy's, both of Mary and Elizabeth, that were brought about by Divine intervention from Almighty God therefore they would be perfect as far as the days of pregnancy. So it makes it very easy to figure the dates, both of conception and of the birth. Follow along.
LUKE 1:6 And they were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless.
If you were to really translate this to English in its fullness, this is what would be said: They fulfilled all the legal requirements of a Levitical Priest and his wife to follow the commandments of God to serve in this course of Abia.
LUKE 1:7 And they had no child, because that Elisabeth was barren, and they both were now well stricken in years.
They were advanced in years. Is it not ironic how many times that God has touched her that was barren and brought forth by Divine intervention a child in our Father's Word? I think it is. It would seem that she was saved for this specific child, this one John.
LUKE 1:8 And it came to pass, that while he executed the priest's office before God in the order of his course,
He was on duty and fulfilling his obligations as the priest of this course.
LUKE 1:9 According to the custom of the priest's office, his lot was to burn incense when he went into the temple of the Lord.
It was customary that in this course this one priest would burn incense when his lot was up. Again emphasizing and drawing your attention to time. Though some of you might say, "Well what's this Abia?" It's as plain were it to be fully translated to say his course fell on June the 13th through the 19th. Within this time frame it was his turn to burn incense at this particular time of day. Now we're coming down to even an hour within this day.
LUKE 1:10 And the whole multitude of the people were praying without at the time of incense.
When this incense would be burned and the odor would go up to the Father, then it was sort of a special time for prayer. Perhaps some felt, "Our prayers are better heard." Because the incense is going up.
LUKE 1:11 And there appeared unto him an angel of the Lord standing on the right side of the altar of incense.
He was on duty and fulfilling his obligations as the priest of this course. That's rather a moving thing. An angel literally appears to Zacharias.
LUKE 1:12 And when Zacharias saw him, he was troubled, and fear fell upon him.
Sometimes you have some preachers make a flippant remark like, "You know God spoke to me today." If an actual Angel of God appeared they'd probably have to change their trousers. These arrogant, johnny come lately that are not students of God's Word. God does lead through the Holy Spirit. In the flesh an occurrence like this, the flesh does not adjust quickly. So, it frightened Zacharias.
LUKE 1:13 But the angel said unto him, Fear not, Zacharias: for thy prayer is heard; and thy wife Elisabeth shall bear thee a son, and thou shalt call his name John.
God named John, which is to say "Yahveh's gift" and he was a gift from Yahveh. God will also name Jesus, both Divine perfect births.
No doubt Zacharias was getting along in years and he wanted a child, a son that would be able to take his place in this course. Then he could even think about retirement if you would. Knowing he was replaced by his own seed. He'd probably been praying about it.
LUKE 1:14 And thou shalt have joy and gladness; and many shall rejoice at his birth.
Think about that. What an honor. Many would rejoice at his birth.
LUKE 1:15 For he shall be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink; and he shall be filled with the Holy Ghost, even from his mother's womb.
Even before John breathes his first breath of air, he's going to be filled with the Holy Spirit. Now mark that in your mind. For at the conception on December the 25th, the time that the Holy Spirit shall feel this John the Baptist before he breathes his first breath. Being exactly six months old in the womb. Why is all this happening and why is Luke giving such an account? So you would know not only the birth date of Christ, not only the birth date of John, but you would know also the genealogy of the participants. Both Elizabeth, Mary, and Christ Himself.
LUKE 1:16 And many of the children of Israel shall he turn to the Lord their God.
In other words, he would not be the Saviour of the world, but he would turn many to the Saviour. He would be that voice crying in the wilderness, "Prepare ye the way of the Lord." In other words the forerunner of Christ, the first advent.
LUKE 1:17 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.
This is quoting from Malachi, that Elijah, not just necessarily in the spirit, even at the second advent would be preparing a people and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just. Who is the Just? Christ. So we see then the intervention in the womb of Elizabeth and the seed of Zacharias as been pronounced by this angel. It did not say that John the Baptist was Elijah, but that he came in the spirit of Elijah. Always remember that.
LUKE 1:18 And Zacharias said unto the angel, Whereby shall I know this? for I am an old man, and my wife well stricken in years.
He says give me sign that this is really going to happen. Not only has he stopped fearing but he's kind of challenging the angel, "How I'm I gonna know this! For I am an old man and my wife well stricken in years!" It is strange about both of these Divine births, Elizabeth and Zacharias would seem to be late for they were advanced in years.
LUKE 1:19 And the angel answering said unto him, I am Gabriel, that stand in the presence of God; and am sent to speak unto thee, and to shew thee these glad tidings.
Do you know what Gabriel means in the Hebrew tongue? It means "Mighty man of Yahveh". I'm sure a little bit of fear would probably come back into Zacharias by this time.
LUKE 1:20 And, behold, thou shalt be dumb, and not able to speak, until the day that these things shall be performed, because thou believest not my words, which shall be fulfilled in their season.
Everything will be done right on schedule. Again time has everything to do with this. He gave Zacharias a sign alright, he won't speak another word. So my friend, if 'ol Gabriel ever comes along and appears to you and speaks to you (rap,rap,raps on desk) I wouldn't challenge him if I were you. I would listen very carefully to his words. There's a little humor in this, to me it is, 'ol Zacharias says, "How am I supposed to believe this! Give me a sign." Gabriel says, "I'll give you a sign all right friend (chuckling) you just spoke your last word until this is all over with. I tell you what, for a priest that's kind of a handicap. A lot of priests would be better off on judgment day if their mouths were zipped too, so that they stop teaching falsehoods rather than the Word of God.
LUKE 1:21 And the people waited for Zacharias, and marvelled that he tarried so long in the temple.
The people are wondering what's keeping him.
LUKE 1:22 And when he came out, he could not speak unto them: and they perceived that he had seen a vision in the temple: for he beckoned unto them, and remained speechless.
I'm sure by the countenance that when the angel Gabriel would appear that certainly the effects would be left on a mans face. He kept making signs trying to tell them, Gabriel kept his word.
LUKE 1:23 And it came to pass, that, as soon as the days of his ministration were accomplished, he departed to his own house.
His course of Abia would not be finished until June the 20th. He had to serve the 19th, he was not free to leave until the 20th. Now Zacharias lived about 30 miles from the temple. For a man his age in this terrain, it would take this man approximately 2 days to make that journey. This would put us at about June the 23rd or 24th when he would arrive home.
LUKE 1:24-25 And after those days his wife Elisabeth conceived, and hid herself five months, saying, 25 "Thus hath the Lord dealt with me in the days wherein he looked on me, to take away my reproach among men."
>From June 23rd or 24th, five months later would bring us to November 24th. No big deal, simple addition.
Let's think for a moment. We have gone from the course of Abia, the journey home, and then a five month period, which brings us to if you would, to November the 24th. This would be exactly one month away from the day of conception of Christ which would be December the 25th.
LUKE 1:26 And in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God unto a city of Galilee, named Nazareth,
Now what date is this? Elizabeth hid herself for five months to November 24th. Now in the sixth month, exactly one month later, Gabriel is back again. John is six months in his mothers womb which brings us to December the 25th.
LUKE 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.
Did this verse say that Mary was of Judah? No. It's stated here that Joseph, the man she is engaged to is of the House of Judah, not that Mary was.
LUKE 1:28-31 And the angel came in unto her, and said, Hail, thou that art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women. 29 And when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and cast in her mind what manner of salutation this should be. 30 And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God. 31 And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS.
JESUS, Yeshua, which being fully interpreted rather than transliterated means "Salvation of Yahveh". In other words, God's way of bringing salvation to the world, in, to, and through this One. Always be intelligent in your Father's Word. Like you'll have these people say, "Well there it is Jesus only." Yeshua isn't Jesus only. It's both the Father and the Son, the Father's Saviour, that's what His Name is, it's both in one. Again Jesus was given His Name by God.
LUKE 1:32 He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David:
Is that not ironic? For were gonna find out here in a moment, that it definitely said, "the throne of David". How can this be?
LUKE 1:33 And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end.
Mary is asking, "How?" She had not been with a man.
LUKE 1:34-35 Then said Mary unto the angel, How shall this be, seeing I know not a man? 35 And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.
December the 25th, the conception, The Son of the Living God.
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.
It stated that this Child was going to inherit the throne of David. What I'm about to give you is which tribe that Christ was literally from as well as being the Son of God. Again, Elizabeth and Zacharias are full-blood Levite. Mary's cousin is of the tribe of Levi, which means that one of Mary's parents was also a full-blood Levite. Many people say, "Well I wonder why Christ wasn't born after the order of Levi, He was the high priest? He was. But at the same time Mary's father was of the tribe of Judah. Joseph whom she will marry, was also of the tribe of Judah. So you have that play on the adoption, that Christ being adopted, can by that adoption adopt anyone He so chooses into Christianity. Doesn't change anything as far as duties and obligations of the tribes are concerned. But in as much as Almighty God was the Father, Mary's mother was also of the daughters of Aaron for she and Elizabeth from the mouth of the angel Gabriel was a Levite.
Your documentation that Mary's father was of the tribe of Judah is in Luke 3:33. The genealogy in Matthew 1, is not and has nothing to do with the birth of Christ, other than by his adopted father Joseph Fr Joseph had nothing to do with the birth of Christ. But in Luke, you will not see nor shall you read the word "begat". "As was supposed..." means as by law. In other words, Mary did not have a brother, therefore Mary's father's heritage was passed on through the daughter to the son-in-law. That's why in Luke you don't see "begat" but "which was the son of..."
In Hebrews Jesus is the high priest after the order of Melchisedec. Thus you have both the king line (Judah) and the priest line (Levi). Making Christ the priest of priests and king of kings,& the Lord of all Lords.
It's still December the 25th.
LUKE 1:37-38 For with God nothing shall be impossible. 38 And Mary said, Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word. And the angel departed from her.
That's faith and trust.
LUKE 1:39-40 And Mary arose in those days, and went into the hill country with haste, into a city of Juda; 40 And entered into the house of Zacharias, and saluted Elisabeth.
She ran to the house of Zacharias, to Elizabeth.
LUKE 1:41-44 And it came to pass, that, when Elisabeth heard the salutation of Mary, the babe leaped in her womb; and Elisabeth was filled with the Holy Ghost: 42 And she spake out with a loud voice, and said, Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb. 43 And whence is this to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? 44 For, lo, as soon as the voice of thy salutation sounded in mine ears, the babe leaped in my womb for joy.
The soul and spirit that was placed in Mary's womb was so strong, that when she cried to Elizabeth with the good news knowing that Elizabeth had good news, that John six months in the womb, leapt.
LUKE 1:45-50 And blessed is she that believed: for there shall be a performance of those things which were told her from the Lord. 46 And Mary said, My soul doth magnify the Lord, 47 And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour. 48 For he hath regarded the low estate of his handmaiden: for, behold, from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed. 49 For he that is mighty hath done to me great things; and holy is his name. 50 And his mercy is on them that fear him from generation to generation.
And so it is beloved. So it was, and Elizabeth will go to full term and that babe shall be born to and be known as John the Baptist, and he would come in the spirit of Elijah and he would be that one crying in the wilderness, "Prepare ye the way of the Lord, repent! and what a work and a ministry he would bring forth.
I wanna take you to The Companion Bible, to the 179th Appendix, and I want to show you there you will have on page 198, a full term chart of that pregnancy and then you will have two full columns of more documentation that document these dates, these things are true. Then on page 200, and this is one of the reasons I highly recommend The Companion Bible as a teaching Bible because of the appendices that are in the back that bring knowledge that your not commonly taught, you will note there that the conception of John fell on the 23rd of Sivan, which is our June 23rd or 24th. You will note that the birth of John happened on the 7th of Nisan which is our March 28th or 29th. Please note the miraculous begatting, that is to say the visit of the angel to Mary, happened on the 1st of Tebeth, December the 25th.
Don't you dare, ever call that a pagan holiday. To call that day of the conception of Jesus Christ a pagan holiday is BLASPHEMY and ignorance to the highest degree.
The nativity or the birth of Christ was the 15th of Tisri, which is our September the 29th and which happens to fall, if you would, that great Feast of Tabernacles. He was born on the first day of Tabernacles and circumcised on the eighth day.
God's Word is so complete, it is so perfect, why do people in their ignorance allow men to rob them. I'm not saying beloved that you should take part in the commercialism necessarily that transpires at this time of year. Giving gifts, it's a blessed time, do what ever you will, but whatever you do know it is a time of joy, for it was the day of conception, the day that the Lord Jesus Christ began to dwell with man.
Don't let someone rob you or your children from that blessed event, for it a blessed, sacred, holy day. The conception, December the 25th, of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ.
What about all this Christmas tree business? I know it is written in the book of Jeremiah concerning, "they deck a tree and cut it" and they make an idol out of it. You should never make an idol out of anything.
But what is an evergreen and what does it symbolize? God uses symbolism throughout His Word. I'm going to go to the book of Hosea and to the 14hth chapter and begin with verse 4. Let's learn something about the evergreen.
HOSEA 14:4 I will heal their backsliding, I will love them freely: for mine anger is turned away from him.
This is when God calls His children home.
HOSEA 14:5 I will be as the dew unto Israel: he shall grow as the lily, and cast forth his roots as Lebanon.
Do you know what Lebanon is? The cedar of Lebanon, that evergreen, that great evergreen.
HOSEA 14:6 His branches shall spread, and his beauty shall be as the olive tree, and his smell as Lebanon.
Again the tree of our people. Why the tree of our people?
HOSEA 14:7-8 They that dwell under his shadow shall return; they shall revive as the corn, and grow as the vine: the scent thereof shall be as the wine of Lebanon. 8 Ephraim shall say, What have I to do any more with idols? I have heard him, and observed him: I am like a green fir tree. From me is thy fruit found.
What did God say? "I am like a green fir tree..." The Eternal Father, that fir tree.
HOSEA 14:9 Who is wise, and he shall understand these things? prudent, and he shall know them? for the ways of the LORD are right, and the just shall walk in them: but the transgressors shall fall therein.
Don't be robbed. Our Father is symbolic of that great cedar. Evergreen means eternal life, not losing leaves or die during winter, but eternal like our Father. Don't make an idol of the tree, worship your Father. But don't be robbed of the season.
Have a Merry Christmas.
Appendix 179 of the Companion Bible 1. It thus appears without the shadow of a doubt that the day assigned
the Birth of the Lord, viz. December 25, was the day
on which He was "begotten of the Holy Ghost", i.e. by pneuma hagion =
divine power (Matt. 1:18, 20 marg.), and His birth took
place on the 15th of Ethanim, September 29, in the year following, thus
making beautifully clear the meaning of John 1:14, "The
Word became flesh" (Matt. 1:18, 20) on the 1st Tebeth or December 25 (5
B.C.), "and tabernacled (Gr. eskeno-sen) with us",
on 15th of Ethanim or September 29 (4 B.C.).
The 15th of Ethanim (or Tisri) was the first day of the Feast of
Tabernacles. The circumcision therefore took place on the
eighth day of the Feast = 22nd Ethanim = October 6-7 (Lev. 23:33-34).
So that these two momentous events fall into their proper
place and order, and the real reason is made clear why the 25th of
December is associated with our Lord and was set apart by
the Apostolic Church to commemorate the stupendous event of the "Word
becoming flesh" - and not, as we have for so long been
led to suppose, the commemoration of a pagan festival.
2. An overwhelmingly strong argument in favor of the correctness of this
view lies in the fact that the date of "the Festival of
Michael and All Angels" has been from very early times the 29th day of
September, on Gentile (Western) reckoning.
But "the Church" even then had lost sight of the reason why this date
rather than any other in the Calendar should be so
indissolubly associated with the great Angelic Festival.
The following expresses the almost universal knowledge or rather want
of knowledge of "Christendom" on the subject: "We
pass on now to consider, in the third place, the commemoration of
September 29, the festival of Michaelmas, par excellence. It
does not appear at all certain what was the original special idea of the
commemoration of this day" (Smith's Dict. of Chr.
Antiqq. (1893), vol. ii, p. 1177 (3) ).
A reference, however, to the Table and statements above, makes the
"original special idea " why the Festival of "Michael and
All Angels" is held on September 29 abundantly clear. Our Lord was born
on that day, the first day of the "Feast of Tabernacles"
(Lev. 23:39). This was on the fifteenth day of the seventh Jewish month
called Tisri, or Ethanim (Ap. 51. 5), corresponding to
our September 29 (of the year 4 B.C.)
The "Begetting" (Genesis) Day of the Lord was announced by the Angel
Gabriel. See notes on Dan. 8:16 and Luke 1:19.
The "Birth" Day, by "(the) Angel of the Lord", unnamed in either
Matthew and Luke.
That this Angelic Being was "Michael the Archangel (of Jude 9), and
Mika'el hassar haggadol - "Michael the Great Prince"-
of Dan. 12:1, seems clear for the following reason: If, "when again
(yet future) He bringeth the First-begotten into the world, He
saith, Let all the Angels of God worship Him" (Heb 1:6; quoting Ps.
97:6) - then this must include the great Archangel Michael
himself. By parity of reasoning, on the First "bringing" into the world
of the only begotten Son, the Archangel must have been
present. And the tremendous announcement to the shepherds, that the
Prince of Peace (Isa. 9:6) was on earth in the person of
the Babe of Bethlehem, must therefore have been made by the same head of
the heavenly host (Luke 2:9-14). In mundane
affairs, announcements of supremest importance (of kings, &c.) are
invariably conveyed through the most exalted personage in
the realm. The point need not be labored.
3. The fact of the Birth of our Lord having been revealed to the
shepherds by the Archangel Michael on the 15th of Tisri (or
Ethanim), corresponding to September 29, 4 B.C. - the first day of the
Feast of Tabernacles - must have been known to believers
in the Apostolic Age. But "the mystery of iniquity" which was "already
working" in Paul's day (2Thess. 2:7) quickly enshrouded
this and the other great fact of the day of the Lord's "begetting" on
the first day of the Jewish month Tebeth (corresponding to
December 25, 5 B.C.) - as well as other events connected with His
sojourn on earth, (*1) - in a rising mist of obscurity in which
they have ever since been lost.
The earliest allusion to December 25 (modern reckoning) as the date
for the Nativity is found in the Stromata of Clement of
Alexandria, about the beginning of the third century A.D. (See note 3 p.
That "Christmas" was a pagan festival long before the time of our Lord
is beyond doubt. In Egypt Horus (or Harpocrates (*3),
the son of Isis (Queen of Heaven), was born about the time of winter
solstice. (*4) By the time of the early part of the fourth
century A.D., the real reason for observing Christmas as the date for
the miraculous "begetting" of Matt. 1:18 and "the Word
becoming flesh" of John 1:14 had been lost sight of. The policy of
Constantine, and his Edict of Milan, by establishing universal
freedom of religion furthered this. When many of the followers of the
old pagan systems - the vast majority of the empire, it must
be remembered - adopted the Christian religion as a cult, which
Constantine had made fashionable, and the "Church" became the
Church of the Roman Empire, they brought in with them, among a number of
other things emanating from Egypt and Babylon, the
various Festival Days of the old "religions". Thus "Christmas Day, "
the birthday of the Egyptian Horus (Osiris), became
gradually substituted for the real Natalis Domini of our blessed Savior,
viz. September 29, or Michaelmas Day.
4. If however, we realize that the center of gravity, so to speak, of
what we call the Incarnation if the Incarnation itself- the
wondrous fact of the Divine "begetting", when "the Word became flesh"
(see notes on Matt. 1:18 and John 1:14) - and that this is
to be associated with December 25, instead of March - as for 1,600 years
Christendom has been led to believe - then, "Christmas"
will be seen in quite another light, and many who have hitherto been
troubled with scruples concerning the day being, as they have
been taught, the anniversary of a Pagan festival, will be enabled to
worship on that Day without alloy of doubt, as the time when
the stupendous miracle which is the foundation stone of the Christian
faith, came to pass.
The "Annunciation" by the Angel Gabriel marked the gennesis of Matt.
1:18, and the first words of John 1:14.
The announcement to the shepherds by the Archangel Michael marked the
Birth of our Lord. John 1:14 is read as though "the
Word became flesh (R.V.) and dwelt among us ", were one and the same
thing, whereas they are two clauses.
The paragraph should read thus:
"And the Word became flesh;
(Gr. ho logos sarz egeneto.)
And tabernacled with (or among) us."
(Gr. kai eskenosen en hemin).
The word tabernacled here (preserved in R.V. marg.) receives
beautiful significance from the knowledge that "the Lord of
glory" was "found in fashion as a man", and thus tabernacling in human
flesh. And in turn it shows in equally beautiful
significance that our Lord was born on the first day of the great Jewish
Feast of Tabernacles, viz. the 15th of Tisri, corresponding
to September 29, 4 B.C. (modern reckoning).
The Circumcision of our Lord took place therefore on the eighth day,
the last day of the Feast, the "Great Day of the Feast" of
John 7.37 ("Tabernacles" had eight days. The Feast of Unleavened Bread
had seven days and Pentecost one. See Lev. 23)
5. The main arguments against the Nativity having taken place in
December may be set forth very simply:
(i) The extreme improbability, amounting almost to impossibility,
that Mary, under such circumstances, could have undertaken a
journey of about 70 miles (as the crow flies), through a hill district
averaging some 3,000 feet above sea-level, in the depth of
(ii) Shepherds and their flocks would not be found "abiding" (Gr.
agrauleo) in the open fields at night in December (Tebeth), for
the paramount reason that there would be no pasturage at that time. It
was the custom then (as now) to withdraw the flocks
during the month Marchesvan (Oct.-Nov.) (**1) from the open districts
and house them for the winter.
(iii) The Roman authorities in imposing such a "census taking" for
the hated and unpopular "foreign" tax would not have enforced
the imperial decree (Luke 2:1) at the most inconvenient and inclement
season of the year, by compelling the people to enroll
themselves at their respective "cities" in December. In such a case
they would naturally choose the "line" of least resistance" and
select a time of year that would cause least friction, and interference
with the habits and pursuits of the Jewish people. This would
be in the autumn, when the agricultural round of the year was complete,
and the people generally more or less at liberty to take
advantage, as we know many did, of the opportunity of "going up" to
Jerusalem for the "Feast of Tabernacles" (cp. John 7:8-10,
&c), the crowning Feast of the Jewish year.
To take advantage of such a time would be to the Romans the simplest
and most natural policy, whereas to attempt to enforce
the Edict of Registration for the purpose of Imperial taxation in the
depth of winter,- when traveling for such a purpose would have
been deeply resented, and perhaps have brought about a revolt,- would
never have been attempted by such an astute ruler as
6. With regard to the other two "Quarter Days", June 24, March 25, these
are both associated with the miraculous (Luke 1:7)
"conception" and birth of the Forerunner, as December 25 and September
29 are with our Lord's miraculous "Begetting" and Birth;
and are therefore connected with "the Course of Abiah."
(*1) Notably the day of the crucifixion, &c. (see Ap. 156, 165).
(*2) His statements are, however, very vague, and he mentions several
dates claimed by others as correct.
(*3) Osiris reincarnated.
(*4) See Wilkinson's Ancient Egyptians, Vol. III, p.79 (Birch's ed.).
(**1) It is true that the Lebanon shepherds are in the habit of keeping
their flocks alive during the winter months, by cutting down
branches of trees in the forests in that district, to feed the sheep on
the leaves and twigs, when in autumn the pastures are dried
up, and in winter, when snow covers the ground. (cp. Land and Book,
p.204), but there is no evidence that the Bethlehem district
was afforested in this manner.