Monday, December 5, 2011

Musings on the timing of Yeshua's arrival

I mentioned in my last post that God gave us some clues as to when His Son was born.  Let's look at those clues, just for fun.  These clues cannot give us an absolute answer, because of the workings of the Hebrew calendar, so some of this is definitely subjective.

First of all, a clue as to when Yeshua was NOT born.  Winter.  Sheep don't graze all night in the winter.  They do this in the spring and in the fall, when the former and latter rains fall, which is also when many of these animals were needed for the sacrifices of the spring and fall Feasts.

Jerusalem was very crowded at the time of Yeshua's birth.  The Jewish people would not have enthusiastically filled Jerusalem to beyond capacity for a taxation decree - they were supposed to each go back to the place of their birth for that.  However, there are three times per year that the people WOULD have filled Jerusalem to beyond capacity - the three Feasts that were pilgrimage Feasts, during which the Israelites were required by the law of Moses to go up to Jerusalem.   These were Passover, Shavuot (Pentecost), and Tabernacles.  Bethlehem was a mere six miles from Jerusalem and would most certainly have been filled beyond capacity during these pilgrimage feasts.

Another clue rests with John the Baptist.  In Luke 1:5, we learn that Zachariah was of the priestly division of Abijah.  A seemingly small detail - but we can take that detail and visit 1 Chronicles 24 and learn that it was the eighth priestly division of the year.  There is no way to determine EXACTLY when his course would have taken place due to numerous calendar discrepancies between Hebrew and Roman calendars, but it can be estimated to be in the 9th or 10th week of the year (the year begins at Passover), because during the pilgrimage feasts, ALL priests were required to serve in the temple, not just the divisions.  If Elizabeth conceived immediately following her husband's service, we can estimate the conception to be in the early/middle of the summer; perhaps mid-June or so.

We also know from scripture that Mary conceived Yeshua six months into the pregnancy of Elizabeth.  If this is the case, we can count forward and determine that He was conceived around Hanukkah, which takes place in December.  Hanukkah is the Festival of Lights!  John 1:4-5 makes an allusion to this:   In him was life, and the life was the light of men.   And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it. 

The conception of John in the summer would put the birth of John the Baptist at the time of Passover.  This makes sense, because he was the fulfillment of Elijah who had to come before Yeshua did.  The Jewish people even today welcome Elijah to their Passover celebrations, knowing that the scriptures teach that he must come before the Messiah.

Six months from Passover we have the Feast of Tabernacles. Wow!  The feast that celebrates God dwelling with us!  Young's literal translation of John 1:14 makes another connection:  And the Word became flesh, and did TABERNACLE among us, and we beheld his glory, glory as of an only begotten of a father, full of grace and truth.

If Yeshua was born on the first day of the Feast of Tabernacles, then He would have been circumcised on the eighth day, which is also a Hebrew holy day, called Shemini Atzaret - the eighth day of gathering.  This would have been the day that He was named and officially became an Israelite.  The number eight  in scripture represents new beginnings.

So, if I WERE going to celebrate the birthday of Yeshua, I would pick the Feast of Tabernacles.  The cool thing about God's Appointed Times, or Feasts, is that they are Biblical.  When you try to hijack a pagan festival and "Christianize" it, you leave all sorts of room for satan to work.  I'm just sayin'...

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