Christian Traditions

Last week I wrote of the Jewish “New Year” which is not mentioned by the Lord anywhere in Scripture. But Christians cannot point too many fingers, because we are guilty of the same thing, a made-up holiday. Nowhere in the Bible are we told that Jesus was born on December 25th, nor is it even intimated. December 25th is a holiday associated with Tammuz, the son of the goddess Semiramis.

But we are given clues to when Jesus was born. The first clues are found in Luke 1:5-38. First, we are told that Zechariah, the father of John (the Baptist), was a priest and served in the course, or shift, of Abijah. There were twenty-four courses of priests, and the priests served from Sabbath to Sabbath. During Holy Days all priests served. So each course served twice a year plus Holy Days, filling the fifty-two weeks of the year.

First Chronicles 24:10 tells us that the course of Abijah was the eighth course. Including the Holy Days of Passover/Unleavened Bread and Pentecost, Zechariah would have been serving in the Temple during the tenth week of the year, or just after Pentecost which is in late May or early June. While he was in the Holy Place of the Temple, the angel Gabriel informed Zechariah that his wife Elizabeth would become pregnant. When his time of service was completed, Zechariah returned home and afterward his wife became pregnant, probably some time in June.

Luke then tells us that the angel Gabriel visited Mary and told her that she would be the mother of the Messiah, Jesus. He also told Mary that her cousin Elizabeth was six months pregnant. That would indicate that Mary became pregnant probably in December. To save you from counting on your fingers, nine months later would have been September.

At this point, let me insert an Old Testament requirement of all Hebrew men. According to Exodus 23:14-17 all men were to appear before the Lord at the place He would choose (the Temple had not yet been built) three times a year; on the Feast of Unleavened Bread, the Feast of Harvest (or Pentecost), and the Feast of Ingathering (the fall harvest).

Luke continues with the story of the birth of Jesus in chapter two. Mary and Joseph had to go to the town of Bethlehem to register and pay taxes. Agrarian cultures always are taxed when the crops come in. Farmers cannot pay their taxes until they sell their crops. To this very day our property taxes are due in the fall, because the United States used to be a country of farmers.

Mary and Joseph went to Bethlehem, which is a short distance from Jerusalem, to pay their taxes in September. During this same time, all Hebrew men were required to appear before the Lord at His Temple in Jerusalem. That is why there was no room at the inn. Jesus, I believe, was born at the time of the Feast of Ingathering (also known as the Feast of Tabernacles), in September or October.

In 2011 the Feast of Tabernacles falls on October 13th. Let us celebrate the Birth of the Savior. Kill the fatted calf, or the fatted turkey. Celebrate! Praise and honor the Lord! But leave your Tammuz trees in the closet.

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