The Date of Messiah’s Birth
The Almighty in his wisdom did not see fit to give us the date of Messiah’s birth in a year day and month format. Instead he allowed Luke, John, and other writers of Scripture to indicate the date indirectly by stating facts to which logic may be applied to lead us to the date. The steps in getting to the answer require acceptance of a number of prerequisite truths taught in Scripture. The method was chosen so that we are encouraged to come to a knowledge of the supporting truths which form part of the chain of reasoning leading to the correct date. Otherwise the date remains a secret and a mystery. The blessing of knowing the date depends on listening to other truths. There is a profound divine wisdom in presenting the matter this way.
There are a number of chronological parables in Scripture. A parable gets the message to those with ears to hear. For example, Luke 13:6-9 is a parable on the length of Messiah’s ministry. Anyone holding to a one, two, or three year tradition of the length will not have ears to hear it because they will simply dismiss it as a story taking from it only the threat of judgment. However, when all the truth in the story is applied great things can be discovered. Another well known case of chronological ciphering in stories is the third day theme in the Torah and prophets relating to Messiah’s death and resurrection. Consider also the cipher in Gen. 15:13,
Then he said to Aνram, “Knowing you must know that your seed shall be sojourners in a land that is not possessed by them (Then they will have served them when they have afflicted them) four hundred years. It is evident from other data that Israel was not in Egypt 400 years. How is the cipher to be solved then? “Your seed” means also Isaac and Jacob before Jacob went to Egypt. Those without ears either ignore these ciphers or they stumble over them solving them in a way that contradicts other Scripture. But those with ears to hear, who ponder the solution in the light of other things the Almighty has said, will see the the things they do not understand come into harmony. Thereby they will confirm their faithfulness.
Early on the date or time of his birth was known by the early Assembly of Messiah by people who remembered other important facts that were not recorded in writing. This oral knowledge is likely to have persisted at least till the end of the first century. By the end of the first century the disciples of the longest lived emissary John would have remembered the date. These disciples are men generally unknown to history. Their knowledge was lost due to the increasing apostasy and heresy brought on by the Gnostics. Catholic History recorded the later edited sayings of the church fathers, which we must realize was one cult responding to another cult. In other words, the so called church fathers were just another erring group after massive destruction had occurred. They opposed the Gnostics, but as newly minted Christians themselves, they did not accept everything handed down from the emissaries. The Gnostics were extremely anti-Law, but they also opposed the divine law in varying degrees. And the Law is necessary as the very foundation of sound chronology. Both they and the Gnostics eradicated the original dating with their speculations and eventually with new traditions based on their speculations.
The err in chronology is a relatively simple matter to fix compared to their accompanying errors in spiritual matters. It is not that understanding chronology in general causes one to have other doctrines correct or that having other doctrines correct causes good chronology. It is that if one reads Scripture accurately in the one case, then one is likely to do so in the other case. And it is likely that the Christians which have corrupted the chronology are likely also to have corrupted other doctrines. However, there are a few chronological truths that lead directly to discarding erring doctrine. Especially if the doctrine has a chronological element.
Since the oral knowledge was lost and changed into tradition, the trail of clues laid down by the emissaries in their writings becomes all the more important for the recovery of the truth in the latter day. Now the date once known cannot simply be remembered. It must be reconstructed by going through the foundational truths. Only when this is done do the heavenly lights line up and confirm the solution.
When seeking to understand a subject it is necessary to understand the beginning building blocks. The subject of geometry is begun with definitions concerning lines and points. We can skip to the end and look at an elegant proof of a profound geometrical truth, but if we do not understand how the answer was derived then our appreciation for the end result is reduced as well as our confidence in it. The way we come to the proof is every bit as important as the conclusion. The steps leading to a date for the birth of Messiah are just like this. We can show that everything lines up in the end and this is only half the confirmation. Confirming each individual point is the other half of the confirmation.
It is often stated that Scripture gives no date or that it is impossible to know the date. This statement is usually made in ignorance if not arrogance. Scripture is full of ciphers and puzzles. Some are parables. Some are chronological. Humility would call us not to declare a thing cannot be so long as we have not solved every cipher, every parable, every puzzle. Really one should say no such thing unless they have proved the date is impossible to know. When a matter is forgotten and then hidden because requisite knowledge has also been forgotten or neglected only to be replaced with speculation and tradition, then it is assured that skeptics will claim the date is unknowable. The process of recovering the date is one of divine intervention.
It is necessary for the Spirit to decide that the situation needs to be redeemed and the knowledge recovered. Man in his sin keeps destroying it. Religious man in his sin arrogantly imagines that he has been handed all knowledge and the keys to the kingdom of heaven in the form of a human organization safe from corruption of any sort. The emissaries, on the other hand, are clear to declare that the organization will be corrupted and that heresies will enter in among the faithful. For this reason the Spirit teaches the truth by teaching the supporting truths leaving us to put the connecting dots together. We are not just presented with a list of things to believe. This would be like saying “this is the date, believe it”. The wisdom of the method of making the faithful reason out the supporting steps is proved by the greater confidence that can be enjoyed in using that method. The enemy on the other hand depends and declaring a truth and then demanding belief in it. The enemy of truth depends on inserting a false tradition and then expecting people just to accept it. Which way of knowing the truth does your faith depend on?
It is also said that the date, whatever it is, is of little or no importance. This is an assumption that comes from profound ignorance of Scripture Chronology and the sacred nature of times and seasons. It comes from an arrogant tradition that has exalted itself against the teaching of Scripture. If dates and timings were of no importance then Scripture would not have provided any. The false writings of other religions contain little in the way of chronological information. This is because they are false and unhistorical. Dates are important, because when they may be linked up and checked and found to be truth then it becomes evident that the Scripture which reports them is true. And this is no trivial finding in a day and age when atheists and liberal Christians are constantly attacking the plain sense of of the Scripture starting with the account of Creation.
Because there are prerequisites the road to the solution takes time and patience, not only to explain, but just to appreciate. Those who have already made their minds up that no answer exists, or that the answer is unimportant, or that their alternative dating is correct, will not have the patience to see the reasoning to the end. And some of those who do will look back at their traditions like Lot’s wife and long for them instead in spite of the truth.
Christians making the above excuses invariably settle for the prevailing tradition of December 25th, and a good deal of the other traditions with it. It will be proved in the most absolute sense that any date between mid November and mid March is utterly impossible based simply on the fact that John the Baptist was conceived just after his father’s service in the Temple.
I should also note that this subject is burdened with hundreds of years of miscalculations and traditions, not only in the concluding dates, but in most of the supporting and prerequisite subjects. It is as if the enemy was not content to erase the conclusion itself, but he sought to erase all the the supporting evidences which could be used to reconstruct the conclusions. The enemy has literally replaced the original religion with a different religion and then taught men that that this revised religion is the original.
In order to keep the readers interest I have to put things out of order lest the technical path to the answer be boringly long. Therefore, what to some will seem to be prematurely stated conclusions are in fact statements of where we are headed. All things will be completely proved. Both sides the the truth must be presented. The conclusions and the way we arrived at the conclusion are both necessary to confirm the conclusion.