Monday, December 21, 2009

What’s John The Baptist Got To Do With It?

A lovely sunny day, so Ray and I finished painting the cross-fences in the back yard.

Then I had an early dinner at the True Wei restaurant with my granddaughter, Michelle (17 yrs), her mother, Becky, and Becky’s five month old son, Carson. He sure is good, and a cutie. We had a great time, and then I scurried to get home before dark.
Now about John the Baptist:

Luke1:5 tells us: “In the time of Herod, King of Judea, there was a priest named Zechariah, who belonged to the priestly division of Abijah, his wife Elizabeth was also a descendant of Aaron”.
So we know that priestly division that John the Baptist’s father belonged to.  Therefore we know when he was serving in the Temple.

In 1 Chronicles we read that the sons of Aaron had been divided into 24 groups, and that each group had a set schedule for serving in The Temple of God.  The division of Abijah, which Zechariah belonged to was assigned the 8th. slot of the 24 divisions.
The Jewish calendar begins in the spring during the month of Nisan, so the 1st. division of priests, the division of Jehoiarib, would serve for 7 days.  The 2nd. week would then be the responsibility of the division of Jedaiah, and so on.
The 3rd. week would be the Feast of Unleavened Bread, and all the priests would be present to serve.  Then the schedule would resume with the 3rd. division of priests.  This would go on until the 24th. division had served, then the cycle would repeat again.

So Zechariah served during the 10th week of the year.  This was because he was a member of the division of Abijah, the 8th. division, and both the Feast of Unleavened Bread and Pentecost would have occurred before his scheduled duty.
Luke 1:23-24 tells us: “When his time of service was completed, he returned home.  After this, his wife Elizabeth became pregnant, and for five months remained in seclusion.  Having completed his Temple service on the 3rd. Sabbath of the 3rd. month, Zechariah returned home and conceived his son John, soon after.”  So John the Baptist was probably conceived shortly after the 3rd. Sabbath of the 3rd. month of the Jewish calendar.

Now, why is the information about John so important?  It is because according to the Gospel of Luke, Jesus was conceived by the Holy Spirit in the 6th. month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy.  In Luke 1:36 the angel tells Mary: “Even Elizabeth, your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be barren is in her 6th. month”.  Luke 1:56-57: “Mary stayed with Elizabeth for the last 3 months of her pregnancy, until the time when John the Baptist was born”.   
So starting with John’s conception late in the 3rd. month of the Jewish calendar, and going forward 6 months, we arrive late in the 9th. month of Kislev, (Nov-Dec) for the time frame of the conception of Jesus.
It is interesting to note that the first day of Hanukkah, the Festival of Lights, is celebrated on the 25th. day of Kislev.  Could Jesus have been conceived then?

Now if John was conceived shortly after the 3rd. Sabbath in the 3rd. month of the Jewish calendar, we arrive in the month of Nisan for the date of his birth, if Elizabeth's pregnancy was normal.  It would appear that John the Baptist may have been born in the middle of Nisan, which would coincide with the Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread.
Now, since Jesus was conceived 6 months after John the Baptist, and we have established a likely date for John’s birth, we only need to look 6 months farther down the Jewish calendar to arrive at the likely date of the birth of Jesus.

From John the Baptist’s likely birth date of the 15th day of the 1st. month, Nisan, adding 6 months gives us the 15th. day of the 7th. month, Tishri. (Sept)    And what is on the 15th. day of Tishri?  It is the 1st. day of the Feast of the Tabernacles!  But should this surprise us?  God has always had the most important events fall on his festival days.  It is interesting to note that John 1:14 literally says: “The Word became flesh and tabernacled among us”. 

If Jesus was born on this day it would also fully explain why there was no room at the inn for Mary and Joseph.  Bethlehem is approximately 5 miles from Jerusalem, and all the men of Israel were required to attend the Feast of the Tabernacles.  Every room for miles around the city would have been full for the feast.
It is also interesting to note that the Feast of the Tabernacles is an 8 day feast. 
Why would God make a feast that lasts eight days?  Well, according to the Laws of Moses, a child is supposed to be circumcised on the 8th. day.  So if Jesus was born on the 1st. day of the Feast (a High Sabbath), He would have been circumcised on the last day of the Feast (another High Sabbath).  In addition, the celebration of the Feast of the Tabernacles actually prophetically foreshadows how Jesus would enter the world.

For centuries God had made His followers set up humble temporary shelters and live in them during this great Feast of Tabernacles.  This was a prophetic indication of how His Son would enter the world in a humble shelter during that exact same time of the year.
Only the God of the universe could have set up holidays that His Son would fulfill perfectly over a thousand years later.

So that’s what John the Baptist has to do with the birth date of Jesus Christ.

Enough typing for today!