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Tuesday, 12 December 2017

So, when was Jesus really born?!

Less than a fortnight to go - and it will be Christmas Day. That, of course, as everyone knows, is the day on which the Baby Jesus was born. Well, actually, there are two mistakes in that statement! First of all, there are very many who do not know that this day celebrates the incarnation of the unique Son of God - coming into the world that He had created, in the human flesh that He had created. Many, sadly, seem to think that it was when "Santa Claus"(aka "Father Christmas") was born; or that it is just another excuse for a break from work, parties, special food, loads of alcohol, and presents.

The second error in the statement is that Jesus was born on Dec. 25th. Many will claim that we simply do not know the date of that momentous event, but accept that Dec. 25th. is one of the least likely contenders. However, it is possible to deduce, if not the precise day, certainly a very limited period in which the Christ-child was laid in an animals' feeding-trough.

As I have been discovering over the past few years, one of the problems we face as disciples of that same Jesus is that, too early in its life, the church lost sight of its Hebraic roots. It may be said to have started with a Hellenistic ("Greekised") Jew named Philo of Alexandria who lived from about 20 BC until 50 AD - covering the earthly ministry of the Lord Jesus. It was he who, through those who followed his teaching, introduced Greek philosophical ideas into the the church from its earliest days. This led to a departure from the Hebrew mindset, which was totally different from that of the Greeks.

So, we find that if we revert to Hebraic thinking, we can indeed, place the birth of the Lord Jesus to within a week or two! How may we do so? Well, let's start with the record of Luke where we find, in the first chapter, the account of the birth of John, who was to be known as the Baptiser. Zacharias, John's father, was a priest on duty in the Temple in Jerusalem (N.B. the cult of Islam had not yet even been dreamed of!). Luke records that "Zacharias was a member of the Abijah division of the Temple service corps." (1:5; Living Bible Translation). Scholars can show us that this division served in the month of Tamuz - the fourth month in the Hebrew calendar. Elizabeth, Zacharias' wife, conceived shortly after his encounter with the archangel Gabriel (v.24) and, in due course, gave birth to her son.

However, after six months of Elizabeth's pregnancy, a young girl named Mary - a close relative of Elizabeth - also conceived supernaturally. In her case, the conception was even more amazing, as no man was involved. Rather, she conceived through the activity of God the Holy Spirit (v.35). Her conception may be dated as during the month  of Shvat and, nine months later, the Child was born - in the month Tishrei. This is the time of year which, in our Gregorian calendar, is marked by the period of September/October. 

Tishrei is also the time of the year when the Jewish people celebrate Succoth - the Feast of Tabernacles. Is it merely a coincidence that John, in his account of the Gospel record, states that "... the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth;" (1:14), when we know that the word translated "dwelt" is the equivalent of "tabernacled"? We would also note that the original Tabernacle - the forerunner of the Temple - signified the presence of YHWH, the Covenant Name of God, with His chosen people.

I am learning, in these days, to try to see the Scriptures of both the Tanakh (the "Old Covenant") and the Brit Hadashah (the "New Covenant") with a more Hebraic mindset. It doesn't just help me to realise that Yeshua (Jesus) was born at a specific time in the Jewish calendar. It also helps me to understand more of what God would say to me, and us, in these end times. Glory to His Name.

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