This powerpoint endeavors to use both archaeological and historical research to enhance the Christian's understanding of the Nativity of Christ. It debunks many popular "myths" and critical attacks on Christmas as well.
The Nativity ofOur Lord Jesus Christ. The First Christmas : A Biblical and Historical Study of the Basic Facts. Presented by Joseph David Rhodes, M.A. High School English & Science Instructor: New Frontiers Lighthouse Christian Academy Wills Point, Texas (December, 2011 A.D.)
The Nativity of Our Lord Jesus Christ. In him was life, and the lifewas the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the the darkness has notovercome it. (John 1:4,5. ESV) ESV
The Nativity of Our Lord Jesus Christ. Today, we begin with the John’s Gospel, the witness ofJohn of Zebedee to Jesus Christ. But why John’s Gospel ?Here is the answer: 1. In the beginning was the Word, and the Word waswith God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginningwith God. 3 All things were made through him, and withouthim was not any thing made that was made. 4 In him was life,and the life was the light of men. 5 The light shines in thedarkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. English Standard Version
The Nativity of Our Lord Jesus Christ. The Apostle John then goes on to say this about the eternalWord who was always with the Father but now entered intoman’s world and time: 9. The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming intothe world. 10 He was in the world, and the world was made throughhim, yet the world did not know him. 11 He came to his own, and hisown people did not receive him. 12 But to all who did receive him,who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children ofGod, 13 who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh norof the will of man, but of God. . . .14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we haveseen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of graceand truth.
THE NATIVITY OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST. “ Christmas is not God’s second plan. Before he created the world, God determined to save sinners through the blood of his own Son. The grand narrative of the Bible points to this essential truth — God determined to bring glory to himself through the salvation of a people redeemed and purchased by his own Son, the Christ. Bethlehem and Calvary were essential parts of God’s plan from the beginning, before the cosmos was brought into being as the Son obeyed the will of the Father in creation. “
The Nativity of Our Lord Jesus Christ. “ The Christmas story does not begin in Bethlehem,but we appropriately look to Bethlehem as the sceneof the most decisive event in human history — theincarnation of the Son of God. Even as we turn ourattention to Bethlehem, we must remember that thestory of our salvation does not begin there. That storybegins in the eternal purpose of God. ”11Dr. Albert Mohler, President of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary (Louis-ville, Kentucky) in his blog for December 21, 2009: “ Where Does the Story ofChristmas Begin ? ” at www.albertmohler.com
The Nativity of Our Lord Jesus Christ. This actually connects perfectly with one of 5:1) the most well known of all the prophecies of the Messiah in the Old Testament (the Hebrew Scriptures):[ואת ה ּבל־תית־לח ם אפרת ה ָָרְ ּתַ ֵּ ֵ פֶ פֶ פֶ ָרְ הָ ה ֽ־תי ֵּ ָ הצעל־תיר ִ ָרְל־תיות ּבאלפל־תי ל־תי הוד ה ֵָּ ּתַ ָרְ ֵ ָרְ ֵּ ה ְָר ֹ הָ ִ ־תיֽ התו ל The Coming Messiahממך ִל־תי ל־תיצא ל הל־תיות מושל ֵ ׁ ֹתו ִֹ ֵּ הָ ל ֵ ֵ ִ ָרְתו ֽ־תי ְָר "But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, 2 Though you are little among theֵּל־תישראל ומוצאתל־תיו מקד ם ֶּבִ ׂ הָ ֵ ֵּ תוֹ הָ תוֹ הָ ִ ֵּ פ ֶפ ְָרְ ָר thousands of Judah, Yet out of you shall come forth to Meמל־תימל־תי ]עול ם׃ ֽ־תי ִָ ֵ תוֹ ה The One to be Ruler in Israel, Whose goings forth are from of old, From everlasting." Micah 5:2 (NKJV)
The Nativity of Our Lord Jesus Christ. But now let’s us turn to the history of the Incarnation,i.e., the Nativity of our Lord Jesus Christ:
The Nativity of Our Lord Jesus Christ. . . . But there was immediate historical preparation for thebirth of Jesus the Messiah. According to prophecy, He (i.e., theMessiah) must have a forerunner. This is like a prelude to themain drama of history and the unfolding of God’s plan:Johns role as forerunner to Jesus was alluded to in aprophecy from Isaiah 40:3, which spoke of A voice ofone calling: "In the desert prepare the way for the Lord;make straight in the wilderness a highway for ourGod."
The Nativity of Our Lord Jesus Christ.There is another prophecy, in Malachi 3:1, that also alludes toJohn the Baptists role in preparing the way for Jesus Christ : "Behold,1 I send My messenger,And he will prepare the way before Me.And the Lord, whom you seek,Will suddenly come to His temple,Even the Messenger of the covenant,In whom you delight.Behold, He is coming,“Says the LORD of hosts. Mal 3:1 (NKJV)
The Nativity of Our Lord Jesus Christ.Thus, by the logic of Scriptural prophecy, the forerunner mustannounce the coming of the Messiah. This is true even in hisbirth, because John the Baptist, son of Zecharias and Elizabeth,was born about six months before Jesus.
The Nativity of Our Lord Jesus Christ. Now, if one sets on one side the two key events in theannouncement and conception of John the Baptist (the cousinof Jesus according to the flesh, incidentally !), this then leavesexactly twelve events or stages in the Nativity narrative. Whilenot all scholars would see it this way, most accept a similar listor chronology in their interpretation. Yet, all of these stages aresimple reflections on either Matthew 1:18-2: 23 or Luke 1:1-2:40.These are sometimes called the Nativity narratives and expressthe historical conception and birth of Christ and the aftermath.These are the reports of the chief Advent of the Savior !
The Nativity of Our Lord Jesus Christ. I. Joseph and Mary betrothed - Matt. 1:18,19; Luke 1:26,27.2 According to the accepted Jewish betrothal custom, Joseph and Mary had made acontractual pledge to be married. This commitment was considered so binding thatdissolution required a formal decree of divorce, as Joseph considered doing. Cohabitationand sexual coitus were not considered proper during the betrothal period as the betrothedparties were preparing for their wedding festival. Tradition indicates that Joseph was considerably older than Mary. The absence of latermention of Joseph, may indicate that he had died while Jesus was fairly young, and wasnot alive during the time of Jesus passion. We do know that he was a carpenter (Matt.13:55), and he seemed to be able to care for his family, even in a foreign country (Egypt).2 There are hundreds of commentaries which interpret the Nativity events, but here we follow Rev.Professor James A Fowler’s analysis in “ Christmas Considered Historically, ” at http://www.christinyounet/christmas/xmas.home.hmtl
The Nativity of Our Lord Jesus Christ.In ancient Galilean Jewish culture that betrothed womanshould become pregnant was a disgrace. Josephs knowledgethat he had not had intercourse with Mary would have givenhim cause to dissolve the betrothal, but being a righteous andmerciful man he was willing to do so without publichumiliation (Matthew 1:18-19; Luke 1:26,27).The supernatural conception of Jesus in the womb of Marywas caused or created by the Holy Spirit. As the "secondAdam," Jesus was only the second man to ever live who hadonly God as His father. His was thus of divine paternity.Though fully human, "born of a woman" (Galatians 4:4), Hedid not participate in the depravity of sin predicated to all ofthe human race because of Adams disobedience (Romans 5:12-21).
The Nativity of Our Lord Jesus Christ. II. Gabriel’s Annunciation to Mary. (Luke 1:26-38)Although there is no infallible Biblical evidence of Mary’s age, givenJewish marital customs of the time, she probably would have been ateenager of thirteen to seventeen years. Sometimes, Jewish girls werebetrothed as early as twelve years of age but married a year or two later.Some scholars take Mary’s statement in the Magnificat of Luke 1:46-55 (i.e., that she was of “low estate”) that she was from a poor family or of socially humble status (even though both she and Joseph were royal descendents of the famous king David). The real focus here, however, may be that she is expressing humble gratitude at being the servant of the Lord.
The Nativity of Our Lord Jesus Christ. Young Mary was terribly confused at the announcement thatshe would bear a child though she had no sexual intercoursewith any man (Luke 1:34). Yet, she was nonetheless willing toaccept the explanation of the archangel Gabriel that "nothingwill be impossible with God" (vs. 37). She consented to be theservant of God in accord with His solemn declaration. ( See the Next Slide . . . . ! )
The Nativity of Our Lord Jesus Christ. II. Gabriel’s Annunciation to Mary. (Luke 1:26-38) (Cont’d): 1. Many scholars simply understand “the sixth month” in which Gabriel visited Mary to be the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, rather than a month on the Jewish or Roman calendar. But Luke wrote his Gospel from Mary’s point of view and Mary would have lived by the Hebrew festival calendar of Leviticus and Deuteronomy. 3 2. On the following slide the Hebrew year is displayed. The civil year began in late September/early October (Tishri) and the sacred or festival year began at Passover in Nisan (Late March).3 Cf. Cf. Exodus 23:16; 34:22; and Leviticus 25:9. See the article on “Time” in the Bible in James Orr, et al., (eds.), The International Standard Bible Ency– clopedia (Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 1915), n.p.
The Nativity of Our Lord Jesus Christ. II. Gabriel’s Annunciation to Mary. (Luke 1:26-38) (Cont’d):Thus, if Mary’s visitation from Gabriel occurred in the “sixth month” ascounted from Tishri (the Jewish civil year), then it must have been beenin either the later part of the month Adar or the early part of Nisan. Wewill return to this point later, but suffice for now to say that thetradition of Mary’s conception of Jesus on March 25 in the ancientfathers of the Church appears to have a sound Biblical and historicalbasis.44 ProfessorProfessor Kenneth F. Doig speculates, however, that St. Luke, a Greek, mayhave used the ancient Syrian-Macedonian calendar rather than the Jewish. Cf.New Testament Chronology (Lewiston, N.Y.: Edwin Mellen Press, 1990), ch. 6
The Nativity of Our Lord Jesus Christ. [ταῦ τα δὲ αὐ τοῦ ἐ νθυμηθέ ντος III. TheMatthewRevelation to Joseph: Angel’s 1:20 – 25ἰ δοὺ ἄ γγελος κυρί ου κατ’ ὄ ναρἐ φά νη αὐ τῷ λέ γων Ἰ ωσὴ φ υἱὸ ς But while he thought aboutΔαυί δ μὴ φοβηθῇ ς παραλαβεῖ ν these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him inΜαρί αν τὴ ν γυναῖ κά σου τὸ γὰ ρ a dream, saying, "Joseph, sonἐ ν αὐ τῇ γεννηθὲ ν ἐ κ πνεύ ματό ς of David, do not be afraid toἐ στιν ἁ γί ου. take to you Mary your wife, for that which is conceived inτέ ξεται δὲ υἱὸ ν καὶ καλέ σεις τὸ her is of the Holy Spirit.” "And she will bring forth aὄ νομα αὐ τοῦ Ἰ ησοῦ ν αὐ τὸ ς γὰ ρ Son, and you shall call Hisσώ σει τὸ ν λαὸ ν αὐ τοῦ ἀ πὸ τῶ ν name JESUS, for He will save His people from theirἁ μαρτιῶ ν αὐ τῶ ν] sins.“ . . . . (NKJV).
The Nativity of Our Lord Jesus Christ. III. The Angel’s Revelation to Joseph: Matthew 1:20 – 25 That Joseph was a man of true fidelity and trust in God is revealed herein the brief record of the first chapter of Matthew. Like Mary, he is adescendent of David (through Solomon and Jehoiachin, however), and now he however)becomes a recipient of Divine revelation and is included the Messianic plan ofYahweh. It was, of course, God’s grace, yet God’s wisdom is displayed. TheDivine messenger (presumably also Gabriel, but this is disputable) quelled hisfears about both Mary’s purity and his own reputation. Although the originalsituation could hardly be worse for a perspective bridegroom, God revealed thatHe was in sovereign control and that Joseph’s choice in Mary was perfectly inHis unfolding eternal design.
The Nativity of Our Lord Jesus Christ. III. The Angel’s Revelation to Joseph: Matthew 1:20 – 25 The angel of the Lord who appeared to Joseph revealed to him the namewhich God had chosen for His Son and His Messiah, the name “Jesus.”Luke’s Nativity narrative adds that this name was revealed to Mary as well(Luke 1:31). Our English translation “Jesus” comes from the original Koine’Greek, ‘Iησοῦ ς [Iēsous], which in turn comes from the Hebrew Yeshua(derived from Yehoshua, meaning “ Yahweh is salvation.” ) Naturally,Yeshua in the Hebrew Old Testament is the same as Yehousha or “Joshua.”Then, the angel of the Lord adds the further exegesis of Jesus’ name byexplaining that He will save His people from their sins (v. 21). Luke andJohn each add in their own way that He will be a “savior ” (Cf. Luke 2:11 andJohn 4:42).
The Nativity of Our Lord Jesus Christ. III. The Angel’s Revelation to Joseph: Matthew 1:20 – 25
The Nativity of Our Lord Jesus Christ . III. The Angel’s Revelation to Joseph: Matthew 1:20 – 25 Matthew also tells us via Joseph that all these events were foreordained by theLord God and spoken by the ancient prophets. He thus cites the famous prophecyfrom Isaiah 7:14 about the sign of the Virgin with child. Isaiah’s prophecydescribed him as “ Immanuel” which means “ God with us” (Hebrew:.)עמּונו אל ֵ ֵּ ֵּ ִ ָ הThis connection between Matthew and Isaiah (not to mention Psalms 2and Daniel 9:27) is an incredible miracle and forms the basis of the Christiandoctrine of the Virgin Birth (cf. also Romans 1:3,4 and Galatians 4:4). 5 5 See the superb classic apologetic monograph on this topic by the great Princeton scholar, J. See the superb classic apologetic monograph on this topic by the great Princeton scholar, J.Gresham Machen, Ph.D. , The Virgin Birth of Christ (2nd Edition; London, U.K.: JamesClarke, Ltd., 1958. Original Edition, published 1930).
.The Nativity of Our Lord Jesus Christ ).Isaiah’s Prophecy of the Virgin-Born Messiah (ca. 740 B.C ּתַ ל־תיו סף ל־תי ה ו ה ד ּבר אל־ א חז לא מר׃ ש אל־ ל ך אות מ ע ם ִֵ ָרְ ּתַ ָרְ הָ תוֹ ׁ תוֹ פֶ ָרְ הָ ּתַ ֵּ פֶ הָ הָ ֵ תוֹ ֵּ ֵ וֵּל־תי ה ו ה א ל הל־תי ך ה ָרְ מק ש א ל ה או ה ג ּב ה ל מ ע ל ה׃ ּתַ ל־תיא מר וֵּ פֶ ָרְ הָ הָ תוֹ ּתַ ָרְ ֵ ּתַ ָרְ הָ ָרְ הָ תוֹ ֵּ ֵּ ׁ ָרְ הָ ֱ תוֹ פֶ הָ ּתַ ע ֵא חז לא־ א ש אל ו לא־ ֲ ּונ ס ה פֶ ל־תי ה ו ה׃ ּתַ ל־תיא מר ש מע ו־ תוֹ פֶ ִ ָרְ ֵּ ׁ וֵּ הָ הָ תוֹ פֶ ָרְ ּתַ ָרְ תוֹ אּתַ פֶ את־ָרְ הָ ֵּ ּׁונא ּבל־תית ד וד ה מ עט ם כ ם ה ל אות ֲ ּונ של־תי ם כל־תי ת לא ו ג ם ֵּ ִ ּתַ ָרְ ֵּ ּתַ ֵּ ׁ א הָ ִ הָ ִ ּתַ ָרְ ּתַ ִ פֶ ּתַ ָרְ תוֹ ֵּ ֵּ ֵּ הָ ֵאת־ א ל הל־תי׃ ל כן ל־תי תן א תוֹ ּונל־תי ה וא ל כ ם אות ה ּונ ה ה ע ל מ ה ִ ֵ הָ ּתַ ָרְ הָ ֵּ הָ ֵ ִ ֵ ֲ ד הָ ֵּ הָ פֶ תוֹ ֵּ פֶ ֱ תוֹ הָ 6 ה ר ה ָרְ ל־תי ל דת ּבן ו ק ראת ש מו ע מּונ ו אל׃ ָרְ תוֹ ִ הָ ֵּ ֵ ֵּ ׁ הָ הָ ותוֹ פֶ פֶ ֵ ָרְ הָ הָ ֵּ6 See See my research article, “ The Ultimate Sign for God’s People: The Advent ofImmanuel (Isaiah 7) ”. A Thru the Bible lesson taught at Park Central Baptist
The Nativity of Our Lord Jesus Christ. IV. Augustus Caesar Obeys God: The Roman Census Decreed:Even the mighty Caesar Augustus is moved by the unseen handof God. (Luke 2:1 – 6). He is known to have issued a decree in ca.8 B.C. to enact a census of the Roman Empire. This possiblyoccurs even before Mary and Joseph receive their Divine call toservanthood in God’s orchestration of the world for theMessiah’s Advent. We shall discuss the details of this later.77 See See the evidence of G. H. Stevenson, “The Imperial Administration,” in The Cambridge AncientHistory, ed. by S.A. Cook, F. E. Adcock, and M. P. Charlesworth (Cambridge, U.K.: CambridgeUniversity Press, 1934) , X, 192-193; A.N. Sherwin-White, Roman Society and Roman Law in theNew Testament (Oxford, U.K.: Oxford University Press, 1963), p. 168; William M. Ramsey, TheBearing of Recent Discoveries on the Trustworthiness of the New Testament (4th ed.; London:Hodder & Stoughton, 1920), pp. 255-274. See also Professor Harold W. Hoehner’s analysis in hisChronological Aspects of the Life of Christ (Grand Rapids, MI.: Academie Books, ZondervanPublishing House, 1977), Ch. 1, pp. 14-18.
The Nativity of Our Lord Jesus Christ.IV. Augustus Caesar Obeys God: The Roman Census Decreed: Joseph, we are told by both Matthew and Luke, was fromthe house and family of David. Since David’s familial city wasBethlehem in Judea, Joseph had to travel there. A particulardate must have been set or else Joseph would not have feltcompelled to take his pregnant bride on such a difficult andexhausting journey of almost seventy miles from Nazareth toBethlehem. But now the betrothed are going with assurance ofGod’s revelation spoken by Gabriel.
The Nativity of Our Lord Jesus Christ. V. God’s Son is born to Mary in Bethlehem (Luke 2:6,7).This is actually the fifth stage in the Nativity story, and here atthis point preachers and laymen both tend to follow traditionand ignore the literal Biblical text and actual history. Here are St.Luke’s words in the original Greek: ἐ γέ νετο δὲ ἐ ν τῷ εἶ ναι αὐ τοὺ ς ἐ κεῖ ἐ πλή σθησαν αἱ ἡ μέ ραι τοῦ τεκεῖ ν αὐ τή ν, καὶ ἔ τεκεν τὸ ν υἱὸ ν αὐ τῆ ς τὸ ν πρωτό τοκον: καὶ ἐ σπαργά νωσεν αὐ τὸ ν καὶἀ νέ κλινεν αὐ τὸ ν ἐ νφά τνῃ , διό τι οὐ κ ἦ ν αὐ τοῖ ς τό πος ἐ ν τῷ καταλύ ματι.
The Nativity of Our Lord Jesus Christ . The New King James Version here correctly translates the Greeksecond aorist deponent middle verb (indicative mood) of γί νομαι (hereἐ γέ νετο ) as “ so it was” ( or “ so it happened – the 3 rd person singular)with preposition ἐ ν rendered as “while” (then followed by the presentinfinite εἶ ναι with the nominative plural pronoun (αὐ τό ς) immediatelybefore it . Thus the NKJV gets it right when it translates it as “ So itwas, while they were there, the days were completed for her to bedelivered.” 88 Consult also the footnote 22 on this verse in the NET Bible (www.netbible.com) and moststandard exegetical commentaries. One Christian archaeologist, Professor Gary Byers,M.A. , Hebrew University, Associates for Biblical Research), substantiates this exegeticalanalysis in his article, “ Away in a Manager, But Not in a Barn,” in the BibleStudyMagaz-ine.com, November –December, 2009, pp. 44-46.
The Nativity of Our Lord Jesus Christ. Thus Mary and Joseph were already in Bethlehem whenJesus was born! So, in this regard most movies and religiouspresentations are partially incorrect about the couple franticallysearching for a place to stay a few hours before Jesus was born.As many scholars have recently pointed out, they were lookingfor privacy and space in a small crowded town of numerousrelatives. The hard-hearted “innkeeper” whom preachersfrequently abuse never existed ! (see the next slide).99 Professor Gary A. Byers, “ Away in a Manger, but not in a Barn ” in theBibleStudyMagazine.com , November –December, 2009, pp. 44-46.
The Nativity of Our Lord Jesus Christ. Away in a Manger Most people for many centuries have imagined that thereference to the manger in Luke 2:7,12,16 must mean that Jesuswas born in a barn. Yet, we must be wary of reading ourmodern western ways in the ancient world, especially theancient Middle East. There for thousands of years, and even inmany places today, managers for domestic animals are foundwithin the confines of family residences.1010 “ Away in a Manger, but not in a Barn ”, Ibid. Look carefully also at ISamuel 28:24 and Judges 11:31.
The Nativity of Our Lord Jesus Christ. “ Archaeologists have uncovered stone-carved and plasteredmangers on the ground floor of numerous domestic structuresfrom biblical times. Historians and anthropologists have notedthe practice of keeping animals in the house down throughhistory. While flocks were kept in sheepfolds out in the fields(see Luke 2:8), at night very valuable or vulnerable animals (anox, donkey, or pregnant sheep and goats) would be brought intoa room on the ground floor of the house. This kept a weak animalsafe from harm and prevented theft. ” 1010 “ Away in a Manger, but not in a Barn ”, Ibid. Professor Byers adds: “Animals alsoprovided additional body heat on cold Palestinian nights and convenient access to themfor special purposes like milking. In the morning the animals would be led out of thehouse ” (p. 45). Cf. also Kenneth E. Bailey, Ph.D., “ The Manger and the Inn,” TheologicalReview of the Near East School of Theology, Vol. 2, No. II, November 1979), cited inhttp://www.biblearchaeology.org/post/2008/11/08/the-manger-and-the-inn.aspx
The Nativity of Our Lord Jesus Christ. A Typical First – Century Jewish Home. Notice the animals in the lower level ! (http:www.bible – archaeology - info/htm.)
The Nativity of Our Lord Jesus Christ. Reconstruction of thecentral courtyard of a two-storyhouse in ancient Israel.
The Nativity of Our Lord Jesus Christ. Thus Professor Byers explains : “ The text does not saythere was not “a room” available, but no available space (topos, τόπος)in the inn. The Greek word translated “inn” in that verse (kataluma,κατάλυμα) is used in only one other story in the New Testament. InLuke 22:11 (and it’s parallel in Mark 14:14), the word describes theupper chamber of a house where the Last Supper was held. As such, theword may be translated “guest room,” as in the ESV’s rendering of Luke22:11. When Luke says that there was no room “at the inn,” his point isthat at the particular house Joseph and Mary approached, the guestroom was already occupied. “ 1111 “ Away in a Manger, but not in a Barn ”, p. 46. See Kenneth E. Bailey’s elaboration of this and itsconnection with the “cave” of Justin Martyr, Dialogue with Trypho, LXXIX, The Writings of JustinMartyr and Athenagoras, trans. by M. Dodds, G. Reith and B.P. Pratten (Edinburgh: T. and T.Clark, 1868), pp. 195–196 in “ The Manger and the Inn ”, Op. Cit. His article is marvelouslydocumented and relevant .
The Nativity of Our Lord Jesus Christ. VI. Shepherds Are Guided to the Stable (Luke 2:8-20). Now we come to the Sixth Stage of the story. Shepherds near ancientBethlehem were tending their flocks at night. Perhaps it was lambingseason. Some scholars (e.g., Alfred Edersheim) have conjectured that thesewere "lambs without blemish" being prepared for sacrifices at the temple inJerusalem. However, in the Palestinian social milieu of that time shepherdswere regarded as a low-class subculture, and were often isolated from themainstream of Jewish life. How appropriate that Jesus birth was firstannounced to these lowly and outcast people. While the Angel’s appearanceto the shepherds greatly frightened them, it was full of symbolicsignificance. The supernatural phenomenon of angels in the Nativity storyhere and earlier relate to the Messiah’s Incarnation. The multitude of angelsover Bethlehem were praising God and announcing Gods Prince of Peacenow born among men (cf. Isaiah 9:6).
The Nativity of Our Lord Jesus Christ. Shepherds Are Guided to the Stable (Luke 2:8-20).For to us a child is born,to us a son is given;and the government shall be upon his shoulder,and his name shall be calledWonderful Counselor, Mighty God,Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.Of the increase of his government and of peacethere will be no end,on the throne of David and over his kingdom,to establish it and to uphold itwith justice and with righteousnessfrom this time forth and forevermore.The zeal of the LORD of hosts will do this. (Isaiah 9:6,7, ESV)
The Nativity of Our Lord Jesus Christ. VI. Shepherds Are Guided to the Stable (Luke 2:8-20). Incidentally, you may have heard from some loud modernrevisionists and authorities that Jesus’ birth could not havebeen in winter because the shepherds and sheep could notstand the terribly wet and cold nights. Before you leap to thisconclusion, here are few facts you ought to know:
HISTORICAL MONTHLY AVERAGES FOR DECEMBERThe information presented below gives detailed historical monthly averageweather conditions along with exceptional weather occurrences. Tomaintain relevance to current weather trends the displayed information hasbeen calculated using data collected over the past two decades. The climateprofile is taken from closest available data source to Bethlehem, Israel :Temperature:Throughout the month of December daytime temperatures will generallyreach highs of around 14°C, thats about 58°F. At night the averageminimum temperature drops down to around 7°C, thats 44°F.In recent times the highest recorded temperature in December has been29°C thats 83°F, with the lowest recorded temperature -1°C, about 30°F. 12
The Nativity of Our Lord Jesus Christ.“ This Migdol Eder was not the watchtower for the ordinary flocks which pastured onthe barren sheep-ground beyond Bethlehem, but lay close to the town" (EdersheimLife and Times of Jesus the Messiah 1:186). . . . He surveys (in Appendix VII) all theevidences he is aware of, and while he admits that absolute certainty is impossible asto the exact date of the Nativity, he shows that the known factors do not really conflictwith the December dating. "There is no adequate reason," he wrote, "for questioningthe historical accuracy of this date. The objections generally made rest on groundswhich seem to me historically untenable.“Readers of Scripture who possess first-hand knowledge, or have acquaintance withauthoritative works on the climate of Palestine, recognize that the arguments againstthe December date, based upon wintry and snowy conditions, are untenable. The factshave long been known. . . . As far back as 1863, Smiths Bible Dictionary, under theheading Palestine: the Climate, explained the rarity of snow in southern Palestine,while it conceded its more frequent occurrence in the northern parts of the land. Themean temperature at Jerusalem during December is said to run around 47 to 60degrees F. 1313 David J. Gibson, “ The Date of Christ’s Birth, ” The Bible League Quarterly (October-December, 1965) republished on the website, http://nabataea.net /birthdate. html
The Nativity of Our Lord Jesus Christ. Occasionally, Bethlehem has had a white Christmas in modern decades,and probably it did sometimes in the ancient times as well:
The Nativity of Our Lord Jesus Christ. VI. Shepherds Are Guided to the Stable (Luke 2:8-20).Q. But what would the shepherds do if it was too cold and wet ? A. They wore warm clothes and knew where shelters were near Bethlehem (like enclosed sheepfolds and even warm caves !). B. They knew how to build fires to keep themselves and their sheep toasty warm (incidentally, a herd of sheep create warmth themselves !) C. On the night of the Nativity, God could have arranged for more seasonable weather !
The Nativity of Our Lord Jesus Christ. VII. Jesus’ Circumcision on the Eight Day: (Luke 2:21) Chronologically, this is the seventh phase or stage of the Nativitystory. While its significance is often minimized by modern WesternChristians, for first century Jewish believers the circumcision andidentification of the Promised Seed of Abraham and the Messiah of Davidheld incredible meaning. When He was eight days old Jesus wascircumcised according to Jewish custom, probably in Bethlehem. This was adistinctive physical mark given to all Jewish males from the time ofAbraham (Genesis 17:9-14). It was also at this time that the baby wasofficially given the name "Jesus" as Joseph and Mary had both beeninstructed (cf. Matthew 1:21; Luke 1:31).
The Nativity of Our Lord Jesus Christ. VII. Jesus’ Circumcision on the Eight Day: (Luke 2:21)
The Nativity of Our Lord Jesus Christ. VIII. Jesus’ Temple Presentation In the Temple (Luke 2:22-40). Once again, Jesus’ early life as a child conforms to God’s will andthe ancient covenant of Yahweh with Israel. Hence, when he wasforty days old, his parents brought him to be presented at the Templein Jerusalem. The Apostle Paul thus writes that He “ was born of awoman, born under the law, “ (Galatians 4:4), intimately partaking ofHis Jewish ethnicity and heritage. These were traditional ceremoniesand family tradition which made Jesus a Jew’s Jew, a true son ofAbraham in external matters. Levitical law further required thirty-three days of purification of a woman who had born a son before shecould enter into worship at the Temple (Leviticus 12:4). Logically,these days would be spent in Bethlehem with the newborn infant .[Continued . . . Next Slide]:
The Nativity of Our Lord Jesus Christ.VIII. Jesus’ Temple Presentation In the Temple (Luke 2:22-40). Then, after the required time, and in accord with theLaw (Exodus 13:2,12), Joseph and Mary took Jesus tothe temple and made a sacrificial offering of "a pair ofturtledoves and two young pigeons," which was theoffering for the humble poor who were unable toafford a lamb for sacrifice (Leviticus 12:8).
The Nativity of Our Lord Jesus Christ. VIII. Jesus’ Temple Presentation In the Temple (Luke 2:22-40). Elderly Simeon, a righteous and devout Jewish man, had been toldby God that He would not die until he had seen the expectedMessiah. When Jesus was presented in the temple Simeon declaredthat he had seen Gods salvation who would be "a light of revelationto the Gentiles" (Isaiah 42:6; 49:6) and not only to Jews. Simeon toldMary that her son would be the basis of many Jewish people eitherstumbling or being resurrected (vs. 34), but this would require thepiercing suffering of her own soul (apparently alluding to the deathof Jesus). Anna, a prophetess in the temple, also recognized the infant Jesusas Gods Redeemer at this same time (vs. 38).
The Nativity of Our Lord Jesus Christ. IX. The Eastern Magi Seek The New King (Matthew 2:1-12) ( Read Matthew 2:1 – 12 in modern translation). Think ! Three popular (traditional) myths about the Magi: 1. There were only three Magi. 2. The Magi were kings from foreign nations. 3. The Magi were mainly astrologers who practiced magic.
The Nativity of Our Lord Jesus Christ.IX. The Eastern Magi Seek The New King (Matthew 2:1-12)1. The different groups of Magi (“wise men” , “skilled princes,” etc. have existed from remote antiquity in Egypt, Babylon, Persia, and many other places in the Middle East (Cf. Herodotus, Histories I: 101,132; Daniel 2:2).2. Although many fakes and sorcerer “types” existed among the ancient Magi, some (especially in Babylon and Persia) were ancient priests, astronomers, scientists, and physicians. According to Professor Merrill F. Unger (Dallas Seminary): “ It is with such men that we have to think of Daniel and his fellow-exiles as associated. [But] They are described as ‘ten times wiser than all the magicians and astrologers’ (1:20) ” (See the rest of the quote on the next slide . . . )
The Nativity of Our Lord Jesus Christ.IX. Eastern Magi Seek The New King (Matthew 2:1-12).3. Professor Unger goes on to state: “ The office which Daniel accepted (5:11) was probably identical with that of Rab-mag who first came before us.” [ Dr. Unger is referencing back to the Chaldean officer or emissary sent by Nebuchadnezzar into Jerusalem (Jeremiah 39:3,13) ].144. It appears highly probable that the Magi depicted by Matthew were of this nobler kind (also referred to in the writings of F. Josephus and Philo Judaeus) who, being wise men and priests in the Babylonian and Chaldean traditions, had some knowledge of the prophecies of Daniel and the other Biblical prophets.14 Unger’s Bible Dictionary (3rd Edition; Chicago: Moody Press, 1972), “Magi, “pp. 678 –679. Cf. also Paul Maier’s article on these men which is quoted later.
IX. Eastern Magi Seek The New King (Matthew 2:1-12) Why have people calculated that there werethree Magi ? This is undoubtedly a conjecture basedon the three different kinds of gifts mentioned. Theirgifts were gold, frankincense (fragrant gum resin usedas incense) and myrrh (aromatic resin used inperfumes). The costly nature of these gifts provides acontrast that evidences the universality of JesusChrist: the shepherds were poor, local and Jewish,while the Magi were rich, foreign and Gentile. Jesuscame for all men, both Jew and Gentile (cf. Acts 1:8;Ephesians 2:11-18).
The Nativity of Our Lord Jesus Christ. IX. Eastern Magi Seek The New King (Matthew 2:1-12). The star that the Magi observed has been the source of much conjecture and astronomical calculation. Was it an astronomical occurrence such as a meteor, or a comet, or a nova? It is calculated the well-known Halleys comet would have appeared in 11 B.C. (but this is a few years too early!) Or, was the star which the Magi observed a divinely placed supernatural light in the sky? It must also be asked whether anyone other than the Magi saw this star. Since they are the only ones reported to have seen the star, it might have been a special revelation for them. Herod inquired of them when and where they had seen the star (vs. 7), so apparently it was not a phenomenon of sufficient import that others had noticed.
The Nativity of Our Lord Jesus Christ. IX. The Eastern Magi Seek The New King (Matthew 2:1-12). A fourth possibility ( if the “star” is to be understood as a natural astronomical phenomena ) was a rare conjunction of the planets. It is now known that there was an unusual near proximity of Jupiter and Saturn three times in 7 B.C. 15 15 Burke-Gaffney, W.“ Kepler and the Star of Bethlehem.” In Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada. XXXI (December, 1937): 417-25; Hughes, David. The Star of Bethlehem: An Astronomers Confirmation. New York: Walker and Company, 1979; Marshall, Roy K. The Star of Bethlehem. Charlotte, North Carolina: University of North Carolina: Morehead Planetarium, 1963; and Molnar, Michael. The Star of Bethlehem: The Legacy of the Magi. Rutgers, New Jersey: Rutgers University Press, 1997.
The Nativity of Our Lord Jesus Christ. Dr. Mike Molnar, Ph.D. Author - Astronomer, Historian, and Violin Maker
The Nativity of Our Lord Jesus Christ. IX. The Eastern Magi Seek The New King (Matthew 2:1-12) In the decades before Christ’s coming, the Jews no longerhad their own king (though they desired such), and Herod (anIdumean) had been declared king over the Palestinian regionwhere Jewish people lived. The star itself did not necessarilyguide the Magi to Palestine, though the popular song refers to"following yonder star". If they were led continuously by thestar, why did they stop in Jerusalem to inquire where the kingcould be found? It did not guide them directly to Bethlehem,but doubtless it was a unique celestial phenomenon. They hadseen it and did inspire them to travel to Israel.
The Nativity of Our Lord Jesus Christ. IX. The Eastern Magi Seek The New King (Matthew 2:1-12) When the Magi inquired where the "King of the Jews" could be found,Herod interrogated the Sanhedrin, the Jewish council of "chief priests andscribes", to ascertain where the Messiah was to be born. They quickly toldhim that prophecy indicated that it was in "Bethlehem, in the land of Judea"(Micah 5:2). The city of Bethlehem, located five miles south of Jerusalem,was the familial city of famed King David (I Samuel 16:4; 17:12). God hadindeed foretold to David that his descendant would be the Messianic King,the Son whose throne was forever (II Samuel 7:12,13).
The Nativity of Our Lord Jesus Christ.IX. The Eastern Magi Seek The New King (Matthew 2:1-12) The star that the Magi had previously seen nowreappeared, and they were elated at its epiphany. Yet, it ispossible that the celestial light led them in a differentdirection than Bethlehem, where Herod had directed themand requested a report (Matthew 2:8). Perhaps the stardirected them to Nazareth where Joseph, Mary and Jesushad gone to live after His presentation in the temple (Luke2:39). The time required for the Magi to journey toPalestine was probably many months, and possibly morethan a year. It was after Jesus’ birth (Matthew 2:1).
The Nativity of Our Lord Jesus Christ. IX. The Eastern Magi Seek The New King (Matthew 2:1-12) Now, although it is rarely noticed by some casual readers ofthe Bible, Matthew supplies some missing parts to the Nativitystory and his account enhances the historical veracity of Luke’snarrative. For Matthew plainly records that the Magi entered a“house” (Gk., εἰ ς τὴ ν οἰ κί αν not a stable or “place” (Matthew2:11). Though Jesus was referred to as an infant "babe" (Greek,brephos) while in Bethlehem (Luke 2:12,16), He is referred to as a"young child" (Greek, paidon) when the Magi arrive (Matthew2:8,9,11). It was a glorious moment right before a flight for theirlives to Egypt !
The Nativity of Our Lord Jesus Christ. IX. The Eastern Magi Seek The New King (Matthew 2:1-12)
Dr. Mark Kidger, Instituto de Astrofisicade Canarias, Tenerife, Spain. Astronomer.
The Nativity of Our Lord Jesus Christ. X. The Holy Family Flees to Egypt (Matthew 2:13-15) After the Magi depart from Herod’s domains byanother route (possibly Nabatea) an angel advisesJoseph to take Mary and the child, Jesus, to Egypt toavoid Herods search for Him. Matthew regarded thisaction as a fulfillment of Hoseas prophecy of Godsdelivering His Son out of Egypt (Hosea 11:1).
The Nativity of Our Lord Jesus Christ. XI. Herod’s Massacre of Bethlehem’s Males (Matthew 2:16-18). Herod had been appointed by Caesar Augustus in 40 B.C. toserve as Palestines ruler under Roman authority. He was highlyrespected by the Romans as an architect. He built fortresses,cities, temples, and aqueducts. He greatly encouraged foreigntrade by building a port at Caesarea. He was an accomplishedpolitical negotiator who forced religious and ethnic groups tocooperate. Yet, the Jews hated Herod for his burdensometaxation, for his tyrannous cruelty and selfishness, and for hispolitical scheming which included many murders.
The Nativity of Our Lord Jesus Christ. XI. Herod’s Massacre of Bethlehem’s Males (Matthew 2:16-18). When the Magi did not return from Bethlehem as Herod had requested(Matthew 2:8), and that probably because they were led to Nazareth ratherthan to Bethlehem, Herod concluded that he had been deceived, and hebecame enraged. Herod then ordered his soldiers to slay all male childrenunder two years of age. He chose this age group because he knew the childwas no longer a newborn infant, but must have been between one and twoyears of age. This calculation was probably based on the time when wisemen said they first saw the star, and the time required for their travel toPalestine. The slaughter later of the Jewish infants was regarded by Matthew asbeing the fulfillment of Jeremiahs prophecy of "great mourning andweeping for the children" (Jeremiah 31:15), which leads into his prophecy ofa new covenant (Jeremiah 31:21-34).
The Nativity of Our Lord Jesus Christ. XII. Return to Nazareth after Herods Death (Matthew 2:19-23). The Return to Nazareth19 But when Herod died, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dreamto Joseph in Egypt, 20 saying, “Rise, take the child and his mother and go tothe land of Israel, for those who sought the childs life are dead.” 21 And herose and took the child and his mother and went to the land of Israel. 22 Butwhen he heard that Archelaus was reigning over Judea in place of his fatherHerod, he was afraid to go there, and being warned in a dream he withdrewto the district of Galilee. 23 And he went and lived in a citycalled Nazareth, so that what was spoken by the prophets might befulfilled, that he would be called a Nazarene.http://www.esvbible.org/search/ Matthew+2%3A12-23/