In response to my column on the evidence that December 25 was not set aside as Christ’s birthday because of some pagan holiday, but for good reason, alert WORLD reader Rev. Gary Hinman sent me this article on yet another line of evidence. The calculations are based on the course of Temple duties for the clan of Zacharias, the father of John the Baptist. The months are laid out with precision in the Gospel of Luke, including when his wife Elisabeth visited her relative Mary, and the unborn John leapt in the womb as he came into the presence of the unborn Jesus. Counting out the months leads us somewhere after the middle of December as the time of Jesus’ birth. The article also makes an argument from when lambs are born, requiring shepherds to be out in the fields watching their flocks. But the argument from Zacharias’ temple duties is even stronger than mine, since it comes straight from the Bible.
I found the article online. It was written by John Stormer, author of the Cold War classic “None Dare Call It Treason,” who later became a Christian and a Baptist pastor.
“Lambs are born at the Christmas Season” _Is there evidence that Jesus was born at Christmas??
by John Stormer
For too many years, pastors and teachers have said, “Of course we don’t know when Christ was actually born- but the time of year is not really important.” Jehovah’s Witnesses and others have taught that Christmas was “invented” in the fourth or fifth centuries. The supposed goal was giving a “Christian” facade or influence to the wild pagan or Satanic holiday observances during the winter solstice (the shortest days of the year).
What’s the real story? Is there any real evidence that Jesus Christ _was born at Christmas? A careful examination of a number of seemingly _unrelated Bible passages gives clear indication that the Lord Jesus was _indeed born at Christmas time. Such study will give new emphasis to what _Christ came to do. It will also provide a much deeper appreciation of all _that is hidden in the Word of God which can be discovered by those who _prayerfully search the scriptures.
Every word in the Bible is there because God put it there. He has a _purpose for every one of His words. Therefore, seemingly casual listing of _periods of time, genealogical references, etc. have significance which can be _discovered through prayerful study.
In Luke Chapter 1, the Bible records seemingly unimportant details _about what a priest named Zacharias was doing when an angel announced to him _that he and his wife were to have a child. The child was to be John the _Baptist who would prepare the way for the Messiah, Jesus Christ. The Bible _further records that the Lord Jesus was conceived in the sixth month after _John the Baptist was conceived. Therefore, if the time of the conception of _John the Baptist could be determined, the birth date of the Lord Jesus could _be calculated.
The scriptures say (relevant passages are underlined): “There was in _the days of Herod, the king of Judaea, a certain priest named Zacharias, of _the course of Abia: and his wife was of the daughters of Aaron, and her name _was Elisabeth.
And it came to pass, that while he executed the priest’s office _before God in the order of his course… ” Luke 1:5,8 _At this point Zacharias demonstrated his amazing faithfulness to his _duties as a priest. Even though he had been given the wonderful news by the _angel that he and Elisabeth would have a son, Zacharias stayed in the temple _until the days of his course were completed.
“And it came to pass, that, as soon as the days of his ministration _were accomplished, he departed to his own house. And after those days his _wife Elisabeth conceived, and hid herself five months…” Luke 1:23-24 _The passage then describes how an angel came to Mary to announce that _she was to be the virgin mother of the Messiah, the Lord Jesus. The _scripture says: _”And in the sixth month, the angel Gabriel was sent from God unto a _city of Galilee, named Nazareth. To a virgin espoused to a man whose name _was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary…” Luke _1:26-27 _And Mary arose in those days, and went into the hill country with _haste, into a city of Judah; and entered into the house of Zacharias, and _saluted Elisabeth.” Luke 1:39-40
Contained within these quoted passages are scriptures which point to _the exact time when Jesus was born. (Remember that God puts every word and _every detail into the Bible exactly as He wants it and for a purpose.) The _underlined words are the key.In Luke 1:5 and Luke 1:8, we are told that Zacharias was a priest of _the course of Abia and that he fulfilled his priestly duties in the order of _his course. To understand the importance of the course of Abia and its _bearing on the date of John the Baptist’s conception, it is necessary to turn _to 1Chronicles 24:1-10. This passage describes how a thousand years before _Christ, King David established the courses for priestly service in the coming _temple. Twenty-four courses were established and numbered by drawing lots – _twelve courses for sanctuary service and twelve for the government of the _house of God.
Members of each course would serve during a month starting with the _Hebrew month of Nisan. (Because of the way the Hebrew calendar fluctuates, _the month Nisan can start anytime between early March and early April.) The _sons of Abijah (the Old Testament spelling for Abia) were in the eighth _course. Priests of Abia like Zacharias would, therefore, have each _ministered for some days during the eighth month which in some years because _of the fluctuation in the Hebrew calendar started as early as the fifth day _of our month of October. Zacharias would have returned home when his days of _service were accomplished and John the Baptist could have been conceived _sometime between October 15 and the end of the month.
After conception the scripture says that Elisabeth hid herself for _five months. Then in the sixth month of her pregnancy (which, based on the _above calculation, would have started about March 15 and continued until _April 15) the angel announced to the Virgin Mary that the Lord Jesus would _be conceived in her womb by the Holy Ghost. If this took place on or about _April 1 a “normal” gestation period of 270 days would have then had the Lord _Jesus due on or about December 25. How about that!
There are other scriptural and natural indicators that confirm that _the Lord was born at Christmas time. IN the account of His birth in Luke _2:8, we read: _”And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, _keeping watch over their flock by night.”
My son-in-law, who has a degree in agriculture, after hearing the _above presentation, told me, “Certainly, the Lord Jesus was born at _Christmas. The only time shepherds spend the night in the fields with their _sheep is during the time when the lambs are born. The ewes become _’attractive’ to the rams in the month after June 21, the longest day of the _year. The normal gestation period is five months so the ewes start lambing _about mid-December.” He added: Isn’t it natural that the Lamb of God who _takes away the sin of the world would be born when all the other lambs are _born?
This “coincidence” was too amazing for me to accept until I checked _it out. A former teacher from the school where I am the administrator is _married to a Montana sheep rancher. She confirmed what I had been told. She _said, “Oh, yes! None of the men who have flocks are in church for weeks at _Christmas. They have to be in the fields day and night to clean up and care _for the lambs as soon as they are born or many would perish in the cold.” _Isn’t that neat? God’s Lamb, who was to die for the sins of the world, was _born when all the other little lambs are born. Because He came and died the _centuries old practice of sacrificing lambs for sin could end.
There is another neat confirmation that God had His Son born at _Christmas. The days at the end of December are the shortest (and therefore _the darkest days) of the year. Jesus Christ said, “I am the light of the _world.” So at the time of the year when the darkness is greatest, God the _Father sent God the Son to be the Light of the world.
The Lord Jesus Christ came to earth, lived a sinless life and was _therefore qualified to pay the penalty for the sins of all mankind (which is _death). He paid it all- but all do not benefit from the wondrous gift God _bestowed on mankind at Christmas.
“He came unto his own, and his own received him not. But as many as _received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them _that believe on his name.” John 1:11-12
John Stormer, Pastor Emeritus _Heritage Baptist Church, Florissant, MO _from the PCC Update, Winter 1996 (The ABeka magazine) _(PCC – Pensacola Christian College)