In a Stable

Was Jesus born during the Feast of Tabernacles?

I think I know why Jesus was born in a stable and not in a house.  This is one of the coolest things I’ve come across in a long time and I wanted to share it with my friends.

Let me start with John the Baptist.  Zechariah, his father, was of the course of Abia. Now, if you can figure out when the course of Abia ministered in the Temple, you can do the math to figure out when Jesus was born.

The answer is found in 1 Chronicles 24 where David doles out the ministrations of the Temple to the chief rulers of the sons of Aaron.  There were 24 of them.  Each one was responsible to minister for two different weeks during the year, and all of them had to show up for the three Feasts of the Lord: Passover, Pentecost, and the Feast of Tabernacles, for which all the males of the tribes of Israel were to show up in Jerusalem.  The ministrations were given by lot, and Abia (or Abijah) was given the 8th one.

Now considering that the Jewish calendar was a lunar calendar, there were four weeks to a month (28 days), each starting on the New Moon. The first month Abib (or Nissan) started the year sometime in March or April.  Since the Lunar Calendar runs differently than our Solar Calendar, dates will shift back and forth.

Abia had the 8th ministration, but you also have to figure in the Feast of Unleavened Bread in the first month and Pentecost in the third, so the course of Abia was on the 10th week, which was during the second week of the third month.  Zechariah is visited by the angel Gabriel during his ministration in that second week and is told that his wife will conceive.  Zechariah finishes his ministration on the 14th day and goes home.  Assuming that old Zech was glad to get home and see his wife, John was probably conceived on or around the 15th day of the third month.

Pregnancy is 40 weeks long, or 10 lunar months.  That means that John would have been born during the Feast of Unleavened Bread. It is interesting to note that the Jews to this day traditionally set out a goblet of wine for Elijah as an invited guest during this Feast.  John had the spirit of Elijah, so you might say that John showed up right on time.

According to Luke, Jesus was conceived 6 months after John.  So if John was conceived during the 3rd month, Jesus had to be conceived during the 9th month, which right about the time of the Festival of Lights, Hanukah. Since Jesus was the Light of the World, I don’t think it would be too much of a stretch to imagine that this was part of the Plan also.

I might also add that the Hebrew word for “feast” actually means “appointed time”.  God is well able to perfectly engineer His astounding appointments.
Okay, now it starts getting really cool.  If Jesus was conceived in the middle of the 9th month (remember, the cycle all starts when Zechariah went home to his wife on the 15th day), that places His birth at the beginning of the Feast of Tabernacles.  The Feast of Tabernacles is a feast of 8 days, the last day being the “great day of the feast”, which the Jews call Semini Atzeret.  If He was born on the first day of the Feast, then he had to be circumcised on the eighth day, or the great day of the Feast.

No wonder there was no room at the inn!  Every Tom, Dick, and Harry (or Ira, David, and Jacob) was crowding out every available place for miles around Jerusalem because they were required to attend the Feast.  (Bethlehem is very close to Jerusalem.)  I thought everybody was there because of Augustus’ taxing, but God isn’t controlled by a heathen emperor but by His own holy appointments. That makes a lot more sense to me. Bethlehem was a small village and the great bulk of Israelites could not have been born there, so why was the place so crowded that there was no room at the inn?  Because it was the time of the great Festival!  What better time to tax them than when they all showed up in one place?

Isaiah said He would be called Immanuel, or “God with us”.  The word “tabernacle” means dwelling, or in other words, God would “tabernacle” or dwell with us. What better way to fulfill that than to send His Son, Immanuel, as a Savior right at the beginning of this Feast of Tabernacles and confirm it by His circumcision on the great day of that same feast!

Hang on, this gets even cooler!

The Feast of Tabernacles is also called Sukkoth because it commemorated the trek in the Wilderness and the Jews were supposed to spend that time dwelling in temporary booths.  Where was Jesus born?  In a stable! A temporary dwelling of sorts, not in a house!

Wow. Is that cool?

This may not be some earthshaking revelation that will change your life or anything, but it is one more brick cemented into the wall of our faith that God is not only really there, but He is the Great Architect of the Universe.  He is not only able, but is active in His dealings with men. He is All-Powerful, omnipotent and omniscient.

How small is our faith that we do not take Him at His Word for the great and precious promises that He has given us, and to fully believe Him when He says that He not only hears our prayers, but will answer them!

“Call unto me, and I will answer thee, and shew thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not.”  (Jeremiah 33:3)

Brother Dale,

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