Our Lord’s Birth?

Our Lord’s Birth?

Determining the Facts

Seventy weeks are determined For your people and for your holy city, To finish the transgression, To make an end of sins, To make reconciliation for iniquity, To bring in everlasting righteousness, To seal up vision and prophecy, And to anoint the Most Holy.

Know therefore and understand, That from the going forth of the command To restore and build Jerusalem Until Messiah the Prince, There shall be seven weeks and sixty-two weeks; The street shall be built again, and the wall, Even in troublesome times.

And after the sixty-two weeks Messiah shall be cut off, but not for Himself; and the people of the prince who is to come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary. The end of it shall be with a flood, and till the end of the war desolation’s are determined.

Then he shall confirm a covenant with many for one week; but in the middle of the week He shall bring an end to sacrifice and offering. And on the wing of abominations shall be one who makes desolate, Even until the consummation, which is determined, Is poured out on the desolate.” Dan 9:24-27

The Seventy Weeks of Daniel, or four hundred and ninety days, represent four hundred and ninety years, each SYMBOLIC day representing a year.

Note: The authority for using a day to represent a year comes from God himself; that is, He has made the application. (See Ezek 4:6 Compare with Num 14:34)

Likewise it should be noticed that the 69 symbolic weeks (“seven weeks and sixty-two weeks”), or 483 years, reach unto Messiah the Prince, and not to the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem. The Hebrew word “Messiah” corresponding to the Greek word “Christ”, signifies, The Anointed, and is a title rather than a name.

Jesus was not the Anointed, the Messiah, the Christ, until after his baptism. Compare Acts 10:37, 38 and Matt 3:16. He was anointed with the Holy Spirit immediately on coming out of the water, (the symbolic representation of his surrendering or death of his personal will, for that of the Fathers). This was when he had attained manhood’s estate, which was at 30 years according to the Law, under which he was born, and to which he and every Jew was subject until he ended its dominion by fulfilling its conditions, i.e. “nailing it to his cross.”

Therefore the 69 weeks of this prophecy reach to the time of his baptism and anointing, from which time, and not before, he was the Messiah, the Christ, The Anointed. Hence the 69 weeks, or 483 years, ended in the autumn of A.D. 29. And there that portion of the prophecy was fulfilled which says:

From the going forth of the commandment to restore and build Jerusalem (Dan 9:25), unto Messiah [the Anointed] the Prince, shall be seven weeks and threescore and two [69] weeks.” Beginning there we find the seventieth week fulfilled like the rest, a year for a day.

Most writers on this subject have commenced to count this period from the seventh year of Artaxerxes, when a commission was given to Ezra (Ezra 7: 7-14), supposed to be the enforcement of the decree of Cyrus. (Ezra 1:3; 5:13; 6:1-12) It should be noted, however, that Cyrus’ order was to build the house of the Lord, the Temple and its court wall. But there was another decree granted to Nehemiah in the 20th year of Artaxerxes to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem, which at that time were still un-repaired. (Neh 2:3-8; 6:15; 7:1) And it is from this decree “to restore and build Jerusalem” that this prophecy of Daniel should be dated.

The entire account harmonizes with this, there being but one seeming objection, in a prophecy concerning it by Isaiah, which had said of Cyrus, not only, “He shall let go my captives,” but also, “He shall build my city.” (Isa 45:13) to this apparent objection we answer thus: The word here translated “city” is “ir”, and signifies a walled place. We understand the court walls of the Temple to be referred to here; and with this the facts above referred to agree. This same word “ir” is rendered “court” in 2 Kings 20:4.

The date of Nehemiah’s commission is ordinarily stated to be B.C. 445. But Dr. Hale’s work on chronology (pages 449 and 531) and Dr. Priestlie’s treatise on the “Harmony of the Evangelists” (pages 24-38) show this common view to be 9 years short, which would give B.C. 454 as the true date of Nehemiah’s commission; and with this date Daniel’s prediction (Chapter 9 Verse 25), concerning the decree to restore and build Jerusalem, agrees.

Since 69 weeks (“seven weeks and sixty-two weeks”), or 483 years, reach unto Messiah (the Anointed) the Prince, therefore from this period of 69 symbolic weeks, or 483 years, we deduct 454 years B.C. as the true date of the decree to restore and build Jerusalem; and the remainder 29 A.D. should be the year in which the Anointed (Messiah) would be manifested. This is in exact accord with the scriptures which testify that Jesus was baptized by John and received the anointing of the Spirit A.D. 29, about October 3rd, at which time he was 30 years of age, according to the true date of his birth.

Our Lord’s ministry covered 3 ½ years, ending with his crucifixion, at the time of the Passover, in the spring of A.D. 33. In this he exactly fulfilled the prophecy concerning the remaining or last week (seven years) of promised favor, which says:

AFTER (“seven weeks and sixty-two weeks”), sixty-nine weeks shall Messiah be cut off [“be slain”, Douay translation] but not for himself, in the midst of the week [the remaining 70th] he shall cause the sacrifice and oblation to cease.”

Now when Jesus began to be about thirty years of age he cometh” etc. John the Baptist was six months older than our Lord (Luke 1:26, 36); hence he was of age (thirty years, according to the Law–Num. 4:3; Luke 3:23, etc.) and began to preach six months before our Lord became of age and began his ministry.

The date of the beginning of John’s ministry is clearly stated to have been “the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar,” the third emperor of Rome. (Luke 3:1) This is a clearly fixed date of which there can be no reasonable doubt.

Tiberius became emperor at the death of Augustus Caesar, in the year of Rome 767, which was the year A.D. 14. But those misled by the inaccurate statements of Josephus relative to Herod, and who place the birth of Jesus at B.C. 4, in order to harmonize with him, run across a difficulty in this clearly stated date given by Luke, and endeavor to make it also harmonize with their B.C. 4 theory.

To accomplish this end they make the claim that Tiberius began to exercise authority some two to four years before Augustus died, and before he was fully constituted emperor. They claim that possibly his rule might have been reckoned from that date. But such suppositions will be found baseless, by any who will investigate the matter on the pages of history.

It is true that Tiberius was exalted to a very important position by Augustus, but it was not four years before Augustus’ death, as their theory would demand, but ten years before, in A.D. 4, and the power then conferred upon him was only such as had been enjoyed by others before his day. It was in no sense of the word imperial power, and in no sense of the word can his “reign” be said to have begun there: he was only the heir-apparent. Even in the most exaggerated use of language, his “reigncould not be said to have commenced before Augustus’ death and his own investiture in office at the hands of the Roman Senate, A.D. 14.

History says, “The Emperor, whose declining age needed an associate, adopted Tiberius A.D. 4, renewing his tribunal power.” Article TIBERIUS, Rees’ Cyclopedia.

“He [Augustus] determined accordingly to devolve upon him [Tiberius] a share in the government, this formal investiture placed him on the same footing as that enjoyed by the veteran Agrippa during his later years, and there can be no doubt that it was universally regarded as an introduction to the first place in the empire, the program for the succession was significantly shadowed out: Tiberius had been ordered to assume his place at the head of the Senate, the people, and the army, the adoption, which took place at the same time, is dated June 27  (A.U.C. 757)–A.D. 4.” Merivale’s History of the Romans (Appleton’s), Vol. IV, pp. 220,221

Thus there is conclusive proof that the first year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar was not two to four years before Augustus died; and that the honors referred to as conferred during Augustus’ reign were conferred ten, and not four, years before Augustus’ death, and then were in no sense imperial honors.

Nowhere in histories, monuments, or coins of unquestioned authority, is there a trace of any other reckoning of the years of Tiberius Caesar, than from the date of Augustus on the 19th of August 14 A.D.

We may, therefore, consider the date of Luke 3:1 not merely the only one furnished in the New Testament, but an unequivocal one. There can be no doubt about it in the minds of any who have investigated it. Tiberius began to reign in A.D. 14.

The fifteenth year of his reign would therefore be the year A.D. 29, in which year, Luke states (3:1-3), John began his ministry. Since our Lord’s 30th birthday and the beginning of his ministry were in October, and since John’s birthday and the beginning of his ministry were just six months earlier, it follows that John began his ministry in the spring, about April first–just as soon as he was of age; for God’s plans are always carried out on exact time.

So, then, John was thirty years old in A.D. 29, about April first, consequently he was born B.C. 2, (For the benefit of those not much accustomed to calculating dates, we call attention to the fact that in the beginning of the year A.D. 29, only 28 full years had elapsed: the twenty-ninth was only beginning.) about April first.

And Jesus’ birth, six months later, must have been B.C. 2, about October first.

Again, there is clear, strong evidence that Jesus was crucified on Friday, April 3rd, A.D. 33. The fact that his crucifixion occurred at the close of the fourteenth day of the month Nissan, and that this date rarely falls on Friday, but did so in the year A.D. 33, substantiates that date so thoroughly that even Usher, who adopted B.C. 4 as the date of Jesus’ birth was forced to admit that his crucifixion was A.D. 33.

Compare Usher’s dates in the margin of the common version Bible at Luke 2:21 and Matt. 2:1 with those at Matthew 27 and Luke 23.

“The difference between lunar time, used by the Jews, and solar time, now in common use, would be a few days, so that we could not be certain that the exact day of our Lord’s birth might not be in September about the 27th, but October 1st, B.C. 2, is about correct. Nine months back of that date would bring us to about Christmas time, B.C. 3, as the date at which our Lord laid aside the glory which he had with the Father before the world was [made] and the taking of or changing to human nature began.  It seems probable that this was the origin of the celebration of December 25th as Christmas Day.

Some writers on Church history claim, even, that Christmas Day was originally celebrated as the date of the annunciation by Gabriel to the Virgin Mary. (Luke 1:26) Certain it is that a midwinter date does not well agree with the declaration of Scripture, that at the time of our Lord’s birth the shepherds were in the fields with their flocks.

Even though Christmas day is not the real anniversary of our Lord’s birth, but more properly the annunciation day or the date of his human begetting (Luke 1:28), nevertheless, since the celebration of our Lord’s birth is not a matter of divine appointment or injunction, but merely a tribute of respect to him, it is not necessary for us to quibble particularly about the date. We may as well join with the civilized world in celebrating the grand event on the day, which the majority celebrates –“Christmas day.”

 

 

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