Last week, a much anticipated copy of the four gospels in side-by-side column format arrived in the mail. I was very excited about it and couldn’t wait to dig in and test the notion that each gospel was written to address a specific group of people in the end times. I wanted to start at the feeding of the five thousand, where little differences in each gospel had caught my attention. Well, apparently God had other plans for me that day.
I ended up studying the birth of
John, and the birth of Jesus. It was unexpected. It's even more unexpected that not finishing a blog post last week about this topic weighed heavily enough on my mind that I felt compelled to sit here and write it out this week, meaning dinner is going to be late and my tummy is rumbling. That's serious stuff, for me.
- Zechariah was working in the temple, fulfilling the priestly course of Aviyah (it means “My Father is God”) when Gabriel showed up to announce the birth of a son, who was to be named John. The course of Aviyah takes place in the month of Sivan (3rd month) and Kislev (9th month).
- Aviyah is immediately followed by the Yeshua course of priestly service – imagine that!
- John would be dedicated from birth to the service of God.
- In the 6th month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, Gabriel visited Mary and told her that she’d become pregnant with Jesus (John’s cousin) when “the Holy Spirit shall come upon thee.”
- Mary went to Elizabeth “in haste” which implies it was right after Gabriel came to visit, and stayed the last three months of the pregnancy. Presumably, after John was born.
- Zechariah prophesied (when his speech was restored) that his son would “give light to them that sit in darkness,” among other things.
- When Jesus was born, the shepherds were in the field watching over the flocks at night.
- Jesus was Mary’s firstborn son.
The birth of John and the birth of Jesus are six months apart. So Zechariah would likely have gotten Elizabeth pregnant either in Kislev, or in Sivan if it happened directly after the Aviyah course of service.
How did it come about? Zechariah and his wife Elizabeth were quite advanced in years and had not yet had any children. Gabriel gave Zechariah the news, but the old priest doubted. Compared to Mary’s humble reply when she heard she’d be conceiving a child through the Holy Spirit (How can it be that…), Zechariah challenged Gabriel with “How will I know that…”. For that challenge, Zechariah would lose his speech until after the child was born.
I suspect that John was conceived around the time of Hanukkah. The phrase Zechariah used to describe John was that he would “give light to them that sit in darkness.” The description may point to a Hanukkah conception, since it’s called the Festival of Lights. Also, Zechariah and Elizabeth conceived this child the old-fashioned way, which aligns with Hanukkah being a man-chosen holiday instead of one of God’s appointed times.
If John was conceived around that time, he would have been born around Rosh Hashanah. This appointed time is also referred to as “day of shouting” or “day of blasting.” Certainly, John was appointed to declare the coming of the Messiah. Also notable is that the month of Tishri translates to “to begin” or “beginning.” What a perfect way to describe John’s ministry. His beginning came as a precursor to the beginning of our time of redemption. The time of Rosh Hashanah has a very strong theme of repentance, which definitely aligns with John’s mission.
Are you with me, so far?
That particular course takes place just after Pentecost, or Shavuot. Since the theme of Shavuot is the giving of the law and the arrival of the Holy Spirit just 7 weeks after Passover, it makes sense that Mary is told she would be come upon by the Holy Spirit, and the power of the Highest would overshadow her. It calls to mind the cloud that enshrouded the mountain on which Moses waited for God. I wonder what Mary was thinking at that exact moment? It’s hard to even imagine it.
So, the month of Sivan is translated to “season” and the word Shavuot translates to “weeks.” Those seven weeks (times seven days) are the time of the counting of the Omer. Each day represents spiritual preparation and anticipation for the giving of the Torah which was given by God on Mount Sinai at the beginning of the month of Sivan, around the same time as the holiday of Shavuot. It’s fitting that a period of preparation would take place before Jesus would be conceived by the Holy Spirit. Mary must have participated in this, as well.
If Jesus was indeed conceived at the time of Shavuot, his birth would have taken place right around the time of Passover. I know, the tradition of Jesus being born near Hanukkah (December) is what we’ve all come to accept as fact. But when you consider the shepherds were camping out in the field when Jesus was born, that December thing seems unlikely, doesn’t it?
The way I outlined it instead makes more sense to me. Taking the Aviyah course as a starting point, would mean John and Jesus (at six months apart) had to be conceived either in Sivan or Kislev. If we flip the months around between John and Jesus, making Jesus born at Rosh Hashanah, that would mean he was born at the head of the Civil year instead of God’s beginning of the year. It just doesn’t fit as well, the way I see it.
If my understanding is correct, then Jesus would have been crucified right around (or on) his birthday. The crucifixion was horrific enough. That just makes it worse, doesn’t it?
In my studying, I learned of a fast that takes place on the 14th of Nisan. It’s the Fast of the Firstborn. Apparently, this fast only applies to the first born children of Israel, as they commemorate the passing over of the plague that claimed the lives of the Egyptian first born. That was another interesting connection.