Day of Atonement, Passover, Epiphany

The Day of Atonement, Passover, and Epiphany may seem like three strange Feast to be linked together when talking about the birth of Jesus.  Bear with me as I explain their connection.  

I know it is a good thing that God is a “God Who hides Himself” and did not give us exact dates for everything that occurred.  “He concealed things” so we could search them out.  Luke or Matthew could have given us “better” timestamps but Holy Spirit stopped them.  But Luke did give us some very important calendar dates.

Time

Jewish timekeeping is different than Western thought, it was started by God in the Garden.  (another post on time) The Biblical day starts in the evening and goes to daylight.  This thought is consistent in the Bible as there are many examples of things going from dark to light.  The Jewish religious month is lunar-based; they would add an extra month when needed to keep them in line with the revolution of the earth.   In the Book of Leviticus, the major feasts are set in this framework of months.

Day of Atonement

This important day, for the Jews, of fasting, prayer, and repentance is explained in Leviticus 16.  In Leviticus 23: 26 its time is given as the tenth day of the seventh month.  In Luke we find Zachariah, John’s father, doing the offering of incense behind the Veil in the Second Temple.  Luke 1: 23 had him finish “his time of service” before going home.  This possibly was until the end of the month, so he was with Elizabeth in the eighth month.  She stayed secluded for five months.  (I am not trying to do days or exact times, those belong to God!)

Passover

Luke 1:26 has the “sixth month” for Mary’s visit with Gabriel.  That should be the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, which makes it the first month of the Jewish year, the month of Passover!  The Father is a God of order.  It would seem fitting to “birth” Jesus in Mary at Passover. That would put Jesus’ “coming out party” with the angels and shepherds in the December/January time frame (Julian Calendar) of the month of Tevet.  (see the calendar below)

Epiphany 

From ancient times (before the fourth century) the 6th of January has carried special importance in the Church!  Dietrich Bonhoeffer in his Testament to Freedom, pgs. 504-5 talks about Epiphany.  I read it in a compilation called God is in the Manger.  On page 90, he talks about four events associated with that date – the birth of Jesus, His baptism, the wedding of Cana, and the arrival of the Magi. Traditions are frequently built on fact.  Some of these I will not try to defend or deny, but it sure is interesting.  (Again, I am not trying to be dogmatic in writing this.)

Tevet is the Jewish tenth month.  The root of the word comes from tov or nine.  The meaning of the word is “good”.  If you look in Psalm 119: 65 – 72, the ninth section of that acrostic psalm you will find the idea of good four times in the NIV. (I did an alternative to how Psalm 119 is written.)

Matthew, in his telling of the Christmas story, injects that the Wise Men had seen the star two years earlier (Herod killed the babies two and under.).  He gives no timestamp, but if it was on Jesus’ birthday (Passover) when they found Him, it would fit. 

Okay, I will go out on a limb here, because I know the Father is a God of order!  Jesus’ return with Mary and Joseph from Egypt should have been at the same time as the Exodus (Passover).  I will inch a little further out and say that Jesus’ baptism with John coincided with the anniversary of the “baptism” of the people in the Red Sea. 

The wedding at Cana – I am clueless!  John was writing about proofs of Jesus’ divinity when he wrote on the Seven Miracles (or the Plus One I added), not about dates and times.  

For you scholars out there, I have not researched any of these thoughts on Epiphany!  It may well be that someone else has already come up with the same ideas!  I like the way they fit together, and it gives me a reason to reflect on Epiphany.  One day in Heaven I will have to ask how close I was to being correct.   

Christmas Characters – Caesar Augustus

Augustus is part of this story!  I am adding him as a reminder (to myself) that God is in control even of power-hungry political figures (Democrat and Republican).  The census is more than just taxation.  Augustus gets to know how many people he controls, a true “power trip”.  Even with Roman roads and a courier system, the thought and decree were probably started more than a year in advance of Jesus’ birth.  Herod was also part of Augustus’ handiwork.

I have a feeling Joseph was a practical man and would not have chosen that long trip unless he was made to do so.  Mary had already walked to Bethlehem once before she was “great with child” and would not have looked forward to a bouncy trip on the back of a donkey.  Prophesy, however, had to be fulfilled, Jesus was not to be born in Nazareth.  Caesar had to be part of the plan or Mary and Joseph would have stayed where they were!

If I was scripting a scene for a movie, Augustus’ part would have been the introduction.  All you would have seen was him signing a scroll and ordering an official to get it out fast.  The camera would then pan up to show Father God saying to Jesus, “Good, that is started are You ready?”

Further Thought – When has God used political problems to advance the Gospel?

http://rome.phillipmartin.info/rome_soldier.htm

http://www.LumoProject.com.

Light and Dark #4 – Christmas Characters

Isaiah 9: 2 (NIV) The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned.

Darkness and Light is very much a part of the Christmas story!  Holding to the idea of God starting with darkness and then bring light plays very much into the First Coming of Jesus.

This image in Isaiah 9: 2 where it is foretold that Galilee would see a great light.  Verse 6 of chapter 9 is also a much-used Christmas verse. In chapter 8 we see what was happening in Isaiah’s life as well as Israel at the time of this word.  Isaiah and his children are physical signs to a nation that was not following God, and Assyria is predicted to come and sweep the land clean. Galilee was part of the Northern Kingdom that left the worship of God for idols.  Kings and Chronicles go into detail of their unfaithfulness and for Galilee to be associated with Gentiles or the nations hints how far they had fallen. 9: 2 tells us that the people were in darkness (spiritual darkness) and that they would see a great light.  This is the region where Jesus did much of His earthly ministry, they saw the Light!  Isaiah 8: 19 – 22 paints the picture of mediums and spiritualists with the people being distressed, hungry, and fearful.

Dark and light set the stage for the angels’ announcement to the shepherds in Luke 2: 8 – 12.  It was night all around the shepherds when the Glory (light) replaced the darkness and they heard that the Light of the World had come.

Joseph was in darkness (night, asleep) when the angel told him to accept the Light and marry Mary. Joseph had several dreams that would lead him into the light he needed: to go to Egypt, to return, and to go to Galilee.

The Wise Men also show our dark to light theme in Matthew 2: 2; 9 -10.  They were the living definition of the Gentiles in Isaiah 8, they worshipped the stars and sought guidance from the created not the Creator! So, in their night they saw a light (star – “every star a burning signal fire of grace” from the song 100 Billion X by Hillsong) that would lead them to worship the King!  The Father also gave them night visions to protect the Light and sent them home a different route.

After many Nativity movies and planetarium shows on the Christmas star, I will admit this thought is not mine or original.  I have heard about comets and stars in the wrong constellations, then there was the animated movie that the door to heaven was left open as explanations for the star. We know that the glory showed in the night sky over Bethlehem.  The Magi eluded they saw the star/light when the king was born.  It reappeared after leaving Jerusalem and then stationed itself over where Jesus was. (I think the Holy Family went back to Nazareth before going to Egypt.)  The Magi gave Herod a two-year period since they observed the star.  I find it easier to believe that the star/light was angels on “star-duty” than a comet or out of place star.

To tell the story of Christmas there has to be darkness, and Light came in to show the way.

See the post Follow the Light.

pic: http://clipart.christiansunite.com

FURTHER THOUGHT – Compare the Christmas story to Genesis 1 and the “First Day”.

Christmas – Jesus in Other Words

Christmas – Jesus in Other Words

cropped-jesus-2.jpg

  • Psalm 2:7       The Son
  • Psalm 132:11 David’s descendent
  • Isaiah 7:14     God with us
  • Isaiah 9:6       Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace
  • Isaiah 28:16   A stone tested, precious, and a sure foundation
  • Isaiah 42:1     Chosen Servant
  • Isaiah 49:6     A light for the Gentiles
  • Isaiah 59:20   The Redeemer
  • Isaiah 62:11   Your Savior
  • Jeremiah 23:5 Righteous Branch
  • Jeremiah 23:6 The Lord Our Righteous Savior
  • Daniel 2:34     Rock
  • Daniel 7:13     Son of Man
  • Micah 5:2       Ruler over Israel
  • Haggai 5:2     Desire of all Nations
  • Zechariah 3:8 God’s Servant, the Branch
  • Zechariah 6:12 Builder of the Temple
  • Zechariah 12:10 Spirit of Grace and Supplication
  • Malachi 3:1      Messenger of the Covenant

See Christmas – Jesus Verses

These are NIV.

Christmas – Verses of Jesus

Christmas – Verses of Jesus

Christmas candle 1John 1:1  In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. (NIV)

Matthew and Luke have genealogies for Jesus; Matthew 1 is for Joseph and Luke 3: 23 – 38 is for Mary. John 1 is also a type of genealogy as well as a mission statement but it is a verse that could precede even Genesis 1:1.

Genesis 3: 15 speaks of the Seed (singular) of the woman and how there would be enmity between the Seed and the snake. The snake gets a crushed head and the Seed gets a strike at His heel.

Revelations 12:1 A great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet and a crown of twelve stars on her head. She was pregnant and cried out in pain as she was about to give birth. Then another sign appeared in heaven: an enormous red dragon with seven heads and ten horns and seven crowns on its heads. Its tail swept a third of the stars out of the sky and flung them to the earth. The dragon stood in front of the woman who was about to give birth, so that it might devour her child the moment he was born. She gave birth to a son, a male child, who “will rule all the nations with an iron scepter.” And her child was snatched up to God and to his throne. (NIV) (The bold words in the verses are my emphasis.)

Christmas is a time of joy for mankind as we celebrate Jesus. The turmoil that some people experience at this festive season has its roots at the beginning of our age but the answer is still the promise that was given to Eve – JESUS.

Verses are from https://www.biblegateway.com