IT’S BIRTHDAY TIME
Tuesday, October 14, 2008 is the 15th day of Tishri on the Hebrew calendar. This is the date of the Feast of Tabernacles. This feast is also one of three feasts in which attendance was mandatory for Jewish men within a certain distance of Jerusalem. It is, in effect, a celebration of the Fall Harvest.
Have you ever wondered why our property taxes come due at the end of September and not the end of December? Our nation used to be an agricultural society, and farmers paid their bills, including taxes, after the harvest when they had sold their crops. This was also the reason for the census required by Caesar Augustus. The census described in Luke 2:1 was for taxation and military conscription. Jews were exempt from the military, but they were taxed. And you paid your taxes when you sold your crops.
We know the approximate time of the conception of John the Baptist, a relative of Jesus. John’s father, Zechariah, was a priest who served in the eighth “course,”or shift in the Temple 1. Each shift served one week, from Sabbath to Sabbath. While alone in the Temple, the angel Gabriel told Zechariah of the forthcoming birth of John 2. We know that sometime after he went home from Temple service, Elizabeth his wife, became pregnant. Based on his time of service, Zechariah went home toward the end of the month of May.
Assuming Elizabeth began “expecting” in June, when Mary visited her, Elizabeth was then six months pregnant 3 and the month would have been December. Mary had just received the announcement from Gabriel that she would become pregnant with Jesus. In fact, Elizabeth’s baby even acknowledged the presence of the Christ Child in Mary’s womb by leaping as soon as she arrived for her visit 4. Based on all these assumptions, Jesus was conceived in December, which means He was born in September of the following year.
As discussed above, September was harvest and tax time, as well as the time of the Feast of Tabernacles which required all Jewish men to be in attendance. This explains why “there was no room in the inn.” The hotels were booked because everyone had come to Jerusalem for the feast.
I have gone around this circuitous route to say that I believe that Tishri 15, or October 14, 2008 is the anniversary of the birth of Jesus.
Although we are not instructed to celebrate the birth of Jesus, or even directly told of the date, let us honor our Savior for coming to this world to accept the burden of our sin, and to die for us. I am thankful that we do have the exact date of His Resurrection. We celebrate it each time we take communion and each year on Resurrection Sunday.
Praise the Lord for Jesus! And it is OK to wish Him a Happy Birthday and bring Him the gift of your heart.
1 - First Chronicles 24:3-19
2 - Luke 1:5-25
3 - Luke 1:37
4 - Luke 1:44