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Published by MustardSeedNews
Mustard Seed Newsletter (Back Issues 2007)Christianity, Religion, Jesus Christ, Christian Living, God, Filipino, News, Gospel, Bible, Truth, Prophecy, Christmas
Mustard Seed Newsletter (Back Issues 2007)Christianity, Religion, Jesus Christ, Christian Living, God, Filipino, News, Gospel, Bible, Truth, Prophecy, Christmas

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Published by: MustardSeedNews on Apr 29, 2009
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Feature Article: 
Religious Holidays - or God's Holydays?
p. 10 
“The Kingdom of heaven is like to a grain Mustard seed…”
 Matthew 13:31
December 2007
When Was JesusBorn?
e areappro-achingthetime of the yearwhen the worldcelebrates thesupposed birth ofJesus Christ.
The jingles on the radioand television invadeour sanity earlierevery year, and thedecorations now go upbefore Halloween!Anywhere we go,Christmas "cheer" isinescapable. For mostof us, this is a seasonwe struggle through,wishing it would rush by and be over.Yet it is also a season that requires us to be on our guard. Since we donot celebrate Christmas, we often stick out in a crowd. Such a differencepiques the curiosity of some, and they may ask why we do not keep it. Ifwe respond, "Christ was not born on December 25," can we prove it? IfHe was not born on that date, then when was He born? What are thefacts?When this subject is broached, many Protestants and Catholics becomequite emotional, often becoming firmly entrenched concerning the
What is thegreatest gift Mancan give?
What is the greatest gift Man can give? 
There are many gifts that wecan give to others. However, thegreatest gift we can give is our love,our time and a part of ourselves.Notice:"
This is my commandment, thatyou love one another as I haveloved you. Greater love has noman than this, that a man laydown his life for his friends.
"(John 15:12-13, RSV)We can lay down our lives forothers, literally by dying for othersas Jesus Christ did. Or we can dothe same by giving them ofourselves and our time, in thinkingabout them, caring for them andspending time with them. One of thethings that older people miss themost is being able to spend timewith others. When their childrengrow up and are gone, this elementbecomes lacking in their lives, insome more than others.
(continued next page…)
What greatest gift? (From p. 1)
Virtually every single problem in the world today would be solved if people wouldsimply have love for one another. But that will not happen until Jesus Christreturns to this earth in all power and glory to take over the reins of governmentand begins to teach people how to love God and how to love one another, whichis the keeping of the two great commandments (Matt.22:36-40). We live in aworld filled with hate, which is the direct result of the one whole currently rulesthis world, Satan the devil, the god of this world (2 Cor.4:4).Another great gift we can give people is the God’s truth from the Bible (John17:17) and the truth about the One, True God of Israel, which is not the God thatprofessing Christianity worships. Notice:"
Jesus then said to the Jews who had believed in him, "If you continue inmy word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and thetruth will make you free."
" (RSV, John 8:31-32)The world today in general is not free but in bondage to Satan’s system and theworld that man has built, because mankind rejected God as ruler over them inthe Garden of Eden and thus accepted Satan as their god and ruler. Since then,mankind has gone its own way and has in general been cut off from God andfrom salvation.But once God calls someone to salvation and opens their mind to the truth of HisWord and His thoughts, that person will become free and begin to start thinkinglike God does. Once you make a commitment to live God’s way of life, you willbegin to develop the spiritual "gifts" or fruits of the Holy Spirit (Gal.5:22-23). Youwill also start to understand many of the mysteries of life that are hidden frommost human beings, such as:Who is God? Where did everything come from? Who am I? What does lifemean? Why is the world so confusing and have so many incurable problems?What is the meaning of the human family? What is my destiny and where am Igoing?The most important gifts we can give to others in this life are not the physicalones, but rather the ones that make a long-lasting effect on the lives of othersaround us. The gifts we can develop and give to others, of love, joy, peace,patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control, are theones that will last for eternity:"
There are three things that will endure-- faith, hope, and love-- and thegreatest of these is love.
" (1 Cor 13:13, NLT)
When Was…?
December 25 date in spite of the facts. Many simply enjoy the seasonand feel that the actual day of Christ's birth is irrelevant. Biblical andhistorical scholars are equally divided over this question as well.Christmas, however, is founded on the premise that Jesus was born onDecember 25, and a person who is truly striving to follow the Bible willsee that the celebration of Christmas is based upon falsehood.
The Clues in Luke's Gospel
On the surface, the accounts of Matthew and Luke reveal little about thetime of Jesus' birth. No dates are given, no season of the year is named.As a well-regarded historian, Luke, however, provides a sound, orderlyaccount of the events that removes any doubt as to the general time ofJesus' birth. All the clues arethere, and all that is required isto dig them out and put them inorder to discover the truth.In a long section covering Luke1:5 through 2:8, Luke writes of aspecific series of events inchronological order. He beginsby telling the story of Zacharias,a priest, and his wife Elizabeth,who were childless. Whileadministering his priestly dutiesduring the course of Abijah,Zacharias was visited by theangel Gabriel, who told him thathis prayers had been answeredand that he and Elizabeth wouldhave a son. They were to namehim John.Because Zacharias doubted thatthis would happen, Gabrielinformed him that he would notbe able to speak until the birth ofhis son. As soon as his servicein the Temple was completed,he returned to his own house.Elizabeth soon conceived andhid herself five months, unsureof how her pregnancy would beviewed.In the sixth month of Elizabeth'spregnancy, Gabriel visited Maryand informed her, "And behold,you will conceive in your womband bring forth a son, and shallcall His name Jesus" (verse 31).Soon thereafter, Mary visited hercousin Elizabeth and stayed withher until the latter's ninth month,leaving just prior to John's birth.Jesus, then, was bornapproximately six months afterJohn.What information do we have upto this point?
» Zacharias, a priest, performed hisduties during the course of Abijah.» After he returned home fromJerusalem, Elizabeth conceived.» Mary conceived in the sixth monthof Elizabeth's pregnancy.» John was born approximately sixmonths before Jesus.
The Course of Abijah
To date Jesus' birth, we need astarting point. Fortunately, Lukesupplies one in mentioning "thecourse of Abijah" (Luke 1:5). Is itpossible to know if this courseexisted then, when it fell duringthe year, and how long it lasted?Indeed it is!I Chronicles 24 lists the courses,divisions or shifts of thepriesthood that served in theTemple throughout the year.Verse 1 states, "These are thedivisions of the sons of Aaron."Among the sons of Eleazar weresixteen heads of their father'shouse, while among the sons ofIthamar were eight additionalheads of house, making twenty-four courses (verse 4).These courses of priests weredivided by lot to be officials ofthe sanctuary and of the houseof God (verse 5). Beginning onNisan 1, these courses rotatedthroughout the year, serving inthe Temple for one week apiece.The course of Abijah, the courseduring which Zacharias wasresponsible to work, was theeighth shift (verse 10).Josephus, the first-centuryJewish historian—who was, bythe way, of the priestly lineage ofthe course of Jehoiarib, the firstcourse—supplies furtherinformation about the priestlycourses."He [David] divided them alsointo courses: and when he hadseparated the priests from them,he found of these priests twenty-four courses, sixteen of thehouse of Eleazar and eight ofthat of Ithamar; and he ordainedthat one course should ministerto God [during] eight days, from[noon] Sabbath to [noon on thefollowing] Sabbath. And thuswere the courses distributed bylot, in the presence of David,and Zadok and Abiathar the highpriest, and of all the rulers: andthat course which came up firstwas written down as the first,and accordingly the second, andso on to the twenty-fourth; andthis partition hath remained tothis day" (Antiquities of theJews, 7:14.7).These courses were strictlyfollowed until the Temple wasdestroyed in ad 70.The Talmud describes thedetails of the rotation of courses,beginning on Nisan 1. With onlytwenty-four courses, obviouslyeach course was required towork twice a year, leaving threeextra weeks. (The Hebrew yearnormally has fifty-one weeks.Intercalary, or leap, years havean additional four weeks.) Thethree holy day seasons,Passover, Pentecost andTabernacles, during which allthe courses were required toserve, made up these threeextra weeks. Thus, each of thecourses worked five weeks outof the year: two in their specificcourses and three during theholy day seasons.John the Baptist was sent toprepare the way for Messiah(Malachi 3:1; Luke 1:13-17). Thegospel accounts make it veryclear that he was born about halfa year before Jesus was born.From historical details in Luke'saccount, it is clear that Jesuswas born sometime in 4 bc. Thismeans, counting back the ninemonths of gestation and the six-month difference in age, Johnmust have been conceived inthe first half of 5 bc.This fact forces us to choose thefirst shift of the course of Abijahas the time when Gabriel visitedZacharias in the Temple.Frederick R. Coulter, in his
Harmony of the Gospels 
(p. 9),computes it this way:In the year 5 bc, the first day ofthe first month, the month ofNisan, according to the HebrewCalendar, was a Sabbath.According to computercalculation synchronizing theHebrew Calendar and thestylized
Julian Calendar 
, it wasApril 8. Projecting forward, theassignments course by course,and week by week, were:Course 1, the first week; Course2, the second week; all Coursesfor the Passover and Feast ofUnleavened Bread, the thirdweek; Course 3, the fourthweek; Course 4, the fifth week;Course 5, the sixth week;Course 6, the seventh week;Course 7, the eighth week;Course 8, the ninth week; and allcourses [sic] the tenth week,which was the week ofPentecost.Zacharias of the course ofAbijah worked the ninth week inhis assigned course and thetenth week in the Pentecostcourse, and this period ran fromIyar 27 through Sivan 12(Hebrew calendar) or June 3through 17 (Julian calendar). Heprobably returned homeimmediately after his shifts werecompleted, and Elizabeth mostlikely conceived in the followingtwo-week period, June 18through July 1, 5 BC.With this information we cancalculate Elizabeth's sixth monthas December, during which Maryalso conceived (Luke 1:26-38). Itis probable, because of thecircumstances shown in Luke 1,that Mary conceived during thelast two weeks of Elizabeth'ssixth month. Thus, John wasborn in the spring of 4 BC,probably between March 18 and31. By projecting forwardanother six months to Jesus'birth, the most probable time forHis birth occurred betweenSeptember 16 and 29. It is aninteresting sidelight that Tishri 1,the Feast of Trumpets, is one ofthe two middle days of this timeperiod.

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