For "Scripture Sunday":
This all begs the question: Just when was Jesus born?
"Jesus was born in the autumn of the year.
Maybe you've read the Gospel of Luke and thought it was strange that the book begins not with the story of the conception of Jesus, but with the story of the conception of John the Baptist. There's a very good reason Luke was sure to tell us in very specific detail when John was conceived and born.
Luke tells us that John's mother Elizabeth was six months pregnant when Jesus was conceived: "In the sixth month of Elizabeth's pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to . . . a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin's name was Mary . . ." (Luke:1:24-36).
Elizabeth, the mother of John the Baptist, and Mary, the mother of Jesus, were cousins. From this passage we know that John was six months older than Jesus. So we can discover the approximate time of year Jesus was born if we know when John was born.
Let's look at what the Bible says about the time of John's birth.
John's father Zacharias was a priest serving in the temple at Jerusalem in "the division of Abijah" (Luke:1:5). At this time, the temple priests in Jerusalem were divided into different "divisions" or "courses"—groups of priests that would take turns performing temple service during the year. This formed a yearly schedule for those serving at the temple.
Historians calculate that the course of Abijah, during which Zacharias served, was on duty around early to mid-June (see The Companion Bible, 1974, Appendix 179, p. 200).
During Zechariah's temple service, the angel Gabriel appeared to him and announced that he and his wife Elizabeth would have a child (Luke:1:8-13). After he completed his service and traveled home, Elizabeth conceived the cousin of Jesus—the child who would later become known as John the Baptist (Luke:1:23-24).
Considering that John's conception likely took place later in June, when Zechariah returned home after completing his service in the division of Abijah, adding nine months brings us to around late March as the most likely time for John's birth.
Adding another six months—the difference in ages between John and Jesus (Luke:1:35-36)—brings us to about late September as the likely time of Jesus' birth." Complete article at: http://www.ucg.org/christmas/when-was-jesus-born/
Comment by Martin1
"As you quote the Companion Bible you will also know that it claims that Christ was born at the Feast of Tabernacles (FOT) and that John the Baptist was born six months before at Unleavened Bread (ULB)and it provides compelling evidence to support these statements.
You state that there is no command to keep Christ’s birthday. Yet if Christ was born at the FOT there would not be any need for any special directive in the Bible to commemorate Christ’s birth, as his birth would have already been during the existing festival.
For first century Christians, and for us today, to celebrate Christ’s birth at this time would simply add to the meaning of these days and ULB also.
By noting Christ’s birth at the FOT the Church today could also provide a real alternative to Xmas celebrations, yet there would be no need to categorically state Christ must have been born at the FOT, but that such would be a reasonable assumption- certainly more so than 25th December.
Reiterating Christ’s birth at the FOT would also provide an opportunity for talking about the events surrounding, which rarely happens at all due to there simply not being an occasion to do so in the UCG spiritual calendar."
Misconceptions About the Magi
Matthew 2:11: And when they had come into the house, they saw the young Child with Mary His mother, and fell down and worshiped Him. And when they had opened their treasures, they presented gifts to Him: gold, frankincense, and myrrh.
"Often nativity scenes will show three wise men along with the shepherds coming to see the newborn Christ in an animal’s manger. However, the biblical account describes things differently. First, it mentions that the wise men came “into the house.” This was apparently some time after Jesus’ birth, since Herod assumed the baby could be up to 2 years old (Matthew 2:16). By this time the family was living in a house.
Also, though the account mentions three types of gifts, it does not mention the number of wise men who came to worship the Messiah, the “King of the Jews” who will eventually rule all nations in the Kingdom of God. The gifts were given as homage to a king, not birthday gifts. “Bringing gifts was particularly important in the ancient East when approaching a superior (cf. Ge 43:11; 1 Sa 9:7-8; 1 Ki 10:2)” (Zondervan NIV Bible Commentary).
For more about Jesus Christ’s birth and how it is misrepresented in the traditional nativity scenes and customs of Christmas, see our article “Christmas: Should Christians Celebrate It?”" From: http://lifehopeandtruth.com/bible/blog/misconceptions-about-the-magi/
Is there any connection between the tree mentioned in Jeremiah 10 and the Christmas tree?
"Jeremiah 10:3-4 describes a custom involving cutting a tree from the forest; carving and then decorating it with silver and gold. Is this decorated tree connected to the modern day Christmas tree? What should we as Christians learn from these verses in Jeremiah about our relationship with God and the use of idols?
The symbolism of Jeremiah 10 is briefly explained in this excerpt from our Bible study aid Holidays or Holy Days: Does It Matter Which Days We Observe? :
Vertical News: New Film Takes On the Exodus Story
"A new generation of Biblical epics is taking shape and the latest offering, “Exodus: Gods and Kings,” just recently reached theaters. How do we approach this or any semi-biblically based film?
"As the new film adaptation of the story of Moses, Exodus: Gods and Kings , reached theaters on December 12, we once again have a chance to measure where the leaders of the entertainment industry of our society are in their approach to Biblical subjects. Will they tell a literal tale drawn only from the words of Scripture? Will they lavishly embellish and distort the tale, akin to a recent film about the story of Noah? Should we see these films or not?
In a recent interview by The Times of Israel , the consulting rabbi to Exodus, Rabbi David Baron made this statement, “And when you go to the film, you know you’re getting one man’s perspective on it. You’re not getting the be-all and end-all…” In his assessment of the subject matter of the film, he said, “...the endgame for me, is that young people from all religious backgrounds see this eternal story of freedom taking new light. And maybe they’ll go back to the Bible and reread it, compare notes,” (Jordan Hoffman, “Ridley Scott Trades Out God for Nature’s Fury In Scientific ‘Exodus,’” The Times of Israel at TimesofIsrael.com, December 9, 2014).
According to other reviews and reports the film diverges from the biblical story of the Exodus and seeks to account for the miraculous nature of the 10 plagues with scientific postulations: tsunamis, insect infestations, etc. It should come as no shock to us that a Hollywood epic diverges from the biblical record. We live in a distinctly disbelieving world, and the entertainment industry has a two-fold goal: to entertain and make money doing it. Strict, faithful renditions of religious texts are not their thing.
So, the crux: should we see the film? This is a personal question with a personal answer. Some people will see it in order to consider what it has to offer and where it leaves the biblical story behind. Others won’t choose to see it because they don’t want the distorting images in their head, or because of the violence, or for other reasons.
If you do choose to view this or any other upcoming (or past) biblically-related epics, the advice of the consulting rabbi was useful, use it as a jumping off point to actually read the biblical narrative. Go back to the source, the Bible, and see what God says. Ultimately, we must believe Him and trust that what He preserved for us in the Bible is the accurate explanation of the actual events surrounding the miraculous Israelite departure from Egypt under the leadership of Moses.
If you want to dig even deeper into the truth of the Bible, do some research about recent biblical archaeological finds. For more on this subject check out these resources; Is the Bible True? , The Bible and Archaeology Part 1 , and The Bible and Archaeology Part 2 ." From: http://www.ucg.org/youth/vertical-news-new-film-takes-exodus-story/
An Amazing Fact: "Plastic is one of the most versatile materials in the world. Plastics can be made as hard as stone, strong as steel, transparent as glass, and elastic as rubber. Plastics are also lightweight, waterproof, resistant to chemicals and bacteria, and can be produced in a rainbow of colors. At night many of us sleep on mattresses and under blankets made of plastic materials. In the morning, we step out of bed onto polyester and nylon carpets. Plastics are used in the computers we use, the utensils we cook with, the toys we play with, the buildings we work in, and the cars we drive.
For example, the average car contains over 300 pounds of plastics—approximately eight percent of the vehicle’s overall weight! Telephones, textiles, paints, boats, furniture, and thousands of other products are made of plastic. In fact, by 1979 the volume of plastics produced in the United States surpassed the volume of steel produced.
Where does all this plastic come from? Most plastic is chemically fabricated from fossil fuels, such as oil and natural gas. And where did all that gas and oil come from? Our earth’s great reserves of fossil fuel were formed from organic matter that lived before Noah’s flood. As the tremendous forests of the antediluvian world, lush with plants and teeming with animal life—including dinosaurs—were destroyed by the flood, the wind and currents pushed their debris into immense heaps. These deposits were buried under deep layers of mud and silt, which gradually hardened into rock. After 4,000 years of heat and pressure, these enormous pockets of compost were compressed and transformed into great fields of coal, oil, and natural gas. That’s right—the car you drive is not running on horsepower but dino-power! And your computer is made of ancient ferns! It’s amazing to consider that so many of our modern plastic products are made from ancient plants and animals.
God is a master at converting matter. He turned water to wine and sticks to snakes. God even turned a woman into salt! But God’s most amazing conversions are the ones He works on human hearts--He turned a greedy tax collector into a generous giver, and a demon-possessed maniac into a missionary. Does your heart need a conversion today? All God needs is your permission."
KEY BIBLE TEXTS: A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh. - Ezekiel 36:26
A bit more work was done to the greenhouse addition of the storeroom, we have the front wall up and the door installed. Now we are working on putting in the ceiling, which will add a few more square feet to the attic over the guesthouse.
A lot of time has been spent blowing and raking. A big wind came up before a rainstorm and carpeted everywhere with leaves and pine needles. Jay went up on the roofs and blew a lot more down, too. We had two burn piles to burn on the calm day. The man across the street can't stand even one pine needle on his grass, so he has really been at it, too!
Ray and I went to church, and enjoyed the service which had Bible readings Gen.41:1-44:17 about how Joseph interpreted the Pharaoh's dream, and 1 Kings 3:15-4:1 about Solomon and the dividing of the child. The Teaching was on the same theme, about Solomon and how he could have asked God for anything, but asked for wisdom. He was known as the most wise king.
I hadn't been able to spend much time in the kitchen the afternoon before, as we were working on putting in a fancy new light in the pass-through between the kitchen and dining area, so all I could throw together was a sweet potato and pineapple dish for the potluck. But, as nearly everyone takes something, there was plenty to go around.
It was supposed to warm up to 63°, but only went to 50°, so it was a cloudy, cold day.