Welcome to Church of God Sharing Village!
- Category: Scripture Studies
- Created on 03 March 2015
- Last Updated on 03 March 2015
- Written by Ivan Ezras
The Creator God ordained courses of the sun and moon with relevance to the path and rotation of the earth to signal set times and seasons.
Genesis 1:14 God said, “Let there be lights in the firmament of the heavens to divide the day from the nights; and let them be for signs and seasons, and for days and years.”
Based on these, God established appointed times.
Appointed times – “mô'êd, mow'êd or mow'âdâh” in Hebrew (Strongs #4150) – can also mean an appointment, set or fixed time feasts, seasons, festival, an assembly or congregation, or signal. Of God’s appointed times, the Sabbaths are unique because they were hallowed and set apart by Him. They are His Sabbaths and they are also called God’s holy days.
Following are the Sabbaths of God in their “set times” based on the Hebrew calendar:
1. The Seventh day Sabbath,
2. Passover and
3. First Day of Unleavened Bread on the 15th day of the first month, the Last Day of Unleavened Bread on the 21st day of first month,
4. Pentecost (or Feast of Weeks), 50 days after the priest wave a sheaf of harvest,
5. Day of Trumpets (or Loud Sounds) on the first day of the seventh month,
6. Day of Atonement on the 10th day of the seventh month,
7. First Day Feast of Booths (or Feast of Tabernacles) on the 15th day of the seventh month, and
8. The Eighth Day on the 22nd day of the seventh month.
All these holy days (Sabbaths) are thoroughly discussed in Leviticus 23: 2-37.
Leviticus 23:2 Speak to the children of Israel, and say to them, concerning the feasts of the LORD, which you shall proclaim to be holy convocations, even these are my feasts.
3 Six days shall work be done: but the seventh day is the Sabbath of rest, a holy convocation; you shall do no work therein: it is the Sabbath of the LORD in all your dwellings.
4 These are the feasts of the LORD, even holy convocations, which you shall proclaim in their seasons.
5 In the fourteenth day of the first month at even is the LORD'S Passover.
6 And on the fifteenth day of the same month is the feast of unleavened bread to the LORD: seven days you must eat unleavened bread.
7 In the first day you shall have a holy convocation: you shall do no servile work therein.
8 But you shall offer an offering made by fire to the LORD seven days: in the seventh day is an holy convocation: you shall do no servile work therein.
9 And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying,
10 Speak to the children of Israel, and say to them, When you come into the land which I give to you, and shall reap the harvest thereof, then you shall bring a sheaf of the first fruits of your harvest to the priest:
11 And he shall wave the sheaf before the LORD, to be accepted for you: on the morrow after the Sabbath the priest shall wave it.
12 And you shall offer that day when you wave the sheaf a male lamb without blemish of the first year for a burnt offering to the LORD.
13 And the meat offering thereof shall be two tenth deals of fine flour mingled with oil, an offering made by fire to the LORD for a sweet savor: and the drink offering thereof shall be of wine, the fourth part of a hin.
14 And you shall eat neither bread, nor parched corn, nor green ears, until the selfsame day that you have brought an offering to your God: it shall be a statute for ever throughout your generations in all your dwellings.
15 And you shall count unto you from the morrow after the Sabbath, from the day that you brought the sheaf of the wave offering; seven Sabbaths shall be complete:
16 Even to the morrow after the seventh Sabbath shall you number fifty days; and you shall offer a new meat offering to the LORD.
17 You shall bring out of your habitations two wave loaves of two tenth deals: they shall be of fine flour; they shall be bake with leaven; they are the first fruits to the LORD.
18 And you shall offer with the bread seven lambs without blemish of the first year, and one young bullock, and two rams: they shall be for a burnt offering to the LORD, with their meat offering, and their drink offerings, even an offering made by fire, of sweet savor to the LORD.
19 Then you shall sacrifice one kid of the goats for a sin offering, and two lambs of the first year for a sacrifice of peace offerings.
20 And the priest shall wave them with the bread of the first fruits for a wave offering before the LORD, with the two lambs: they shall be holy to the LORD for the priest.
21 And you shall proclaim on the selfsame day, that it may be a holy convocation to you: you shall do no servile work therein: it shall be a statute for ever in all your dwellings throughout your generations.
22 And when you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not make clean riddance of the corners of your field when you reap, neither shall you gather any gleaning of your harvest: you shall leave them to the poor, and to the stranger: I am the LORD your God.
23 And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying,
24 Speak to the children of Israel, saying, In the seventh month, in the first day of the month, shall you have a Sabbath, a memorial of blowing of trumpets, an holy convocation.
25 You shall do no servile work therein: but you shall offer an offering made by fire to the LORD.
26 And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying,
27 Also on the tenth day of this seventh month there shall be a day of atonement: it shall be a holy convocation to you; and you shall afflict your souls, and offer an offering made by fire to the LORD.
28 And you shall do no work in that same day: for it is a day of atonement, to make atonement for you before the LORD your God.
29 For whatsoever soul it be that shall not be afflicted in that same day, he shall be cut off from among his people.
30 And whatsoever soul it be that do any work in that same day, the same soul will I destroy from among his people.
31 You shall do no manner of work: it shall be a statute for ever throughout your generations in all your dwellings.
32 It shall be to you a Sabbath of rest, and you shall afflict your souls: in the ninth day of the month at even, from even to even, shall you celebrate your Sabbath.
33 And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying,
34 Speak to the children of Israel, saying, The fifteenth day of this seventh month shall be the feast of tabernacles for seven days to the LORD.
35 On the first day shall be a holy convocation: you shall do no servile work therein.
36 Seven days you shall offer an offering made by fire to the LORD: on the eighth day shall be a holy convocation to you; and you shall offer an offering made by fire to the LORD: it is a solemn assembly; and you shall do no servile work therein.
37 These are the feasts of the LORD, which you shall proclaim to be holy convocations, to offer an offering made by fire to the LORD, a burnt offering, and a meat offering, a sacrifice, and drink offerings, every thing upon His day.
The New Testament also holds records of these holy days kept by the saints:
Acts 13:44 And the next Sabbath day came almost the whole city together to hear the word of God.
Acts 18:4 And he reasoned in the synagogue every Sabbath, and persuaded the Jews and the Greeks.
Acts 18:21 But bade them farewell, saying, I must by all means keep this feast that come in Jerusalem: but I will return again to you, if God will. And he sailed from Ephesus.
Acts 20:6 And we sailed away from Philippi after the days of unleavened bread, and came to them to Troas in five days; where we abode seven days.
Acts 20:16 For Paul had determined to sail by Ephesus, because he would not spend the time in Asia: for he hasted, if it were possible for him, to be at Jerusalem the day of Pentecost.
1 Corinthians 5:7 Purge out therefore the old leaven, that you may be a new lump, as you are unleavened. For even Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us:
8 Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.
No man, however holy he may be, can assign a day or days and make them holy; only God can.
- Category: Scripture Studies
- Created on 19 February 2015
- Last Updated on 19 February 2015
- Written by Ivan Ezras
As a chosen people for Himself above all peoples of the earth (Deuteronomy 7:6-8 For you are a holy people to the Lord your God; the Lord your God has chosen you to be a people for Himself, a special treasure above all the peoples on the face of the earth. The Lord did not set His love on you nor choose you because you were more in number than any other people, for you were the least of all people; but because the Lord loves you, and because He would keep the oath which He swore to your fathers, the Lord has brought you out with a mighty hand, and redeemed you from the house of bondage. . .), God made a covenant with Israel at Mount Sinai. He laid down the primary terms of that agreement which contain 10 fundamental laws or commandments.
God wasn’t imposing a set of rules to control ancient Israel. Definitely not! Most people tend to look at this giving of the law from carnal Israel’s point of view. Looking from the opposite side reveals that the previous eight weeks or more, the Almighty God had astoundingly begun demonstrating and executing His part of the covenant.
The gods of Egypt were punished and shamed by the all powerful God before Pharaoh’s eyes. During the plagues that brought a great deal of damage and wounds to Egypt, the loving God protected Israel from harm especially from death of their first born.
As their Redeemer, God freed Israel from more than 400 years slavery in Egypt. He was their shade of comfort from the scorching heat of the sun by day and a pillar of fire to give warmth and light by night. As a shield in fight, God defended Israel from Pharaoh’s army. He guided Israel to safety as a caring Shepherd, giving them sustenance across the harsh and arid desert.
God loved Israel first. Israel never knew before the true essence of love. Here now at Sinai, God is covenanting with them about His ten basic laws of expressing love. One of the principal laws or conditions stipulated in that covenant is the law of the Sabbath – the fourth commandment.
8 Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy.
9 Six days you shall labor and do all your work,
10 but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord your God. In it you shall do no work: you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your manservant, nor your maidservant, nor your cattle, nor your stranger who is within your gates.
The reason God gave:
Exodus 20:11 For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it.
God’s people therefore are to remember that it is God’s Sabbath, the “rest day” of the very One who formed and molded human beings, including all things in the wide expanse of the universe. This same God wants His people to follow in their life and work cycle, after that sequence which He emulated, as a memorial of His Sabbath and of an existing covenant between the Creator and His created beings chosen by Him and sanctified from the rest of the world.
Gentiles (non-Israelite mixed group of people) living among Israel, who submitted to God and accepted obedience to His laws are considered part of God’s people.
Exodus 12:38 And mixed multitude went up also with them (Israel); and flocks, and herds, even very much cattle.
Exodus 12:48 And when a stranger (foreigner) shall live with you and will keep the Passover to the Lord, let all his males be circumcised, then let him come near and keep it; and he shall be as one born in the land: for no uncircumcised person shall eat it.
49One law shall be to him that is home born and to the foreigner that live among you.
- Category: Meditations
- Created on 15 February 2015
- Last Updated on 15 February 2015
- Written by Ofelia Limpoco-Magat
AFTERMATH OF A STORM
After the shedding of tears from heaven,
appears the clear blue sky with silver linings.
Houses whose foundations are strong were cleansed,
trees whose roots are deep were watered.
How wonderful is the dawning light shining, brighter and brighter ,
till the full orb of the day.
How beautiful in the budding plant growing in freshness, boldness,
till it becomes a full grown tree.
How fragrant is the blossoming flower spreading its aroma and beauty,
till its sweetness fills the air.
Only after a storm can one appreciates the splendor of a brand new day,
with faith, hope in one’s heart.
THE EARTH AND MAN
When the planet earth moves in tune with the music of the universe
And patiently obeys its laws, there is harmony and peace.
But, if for a moment the earth from its axis tilts
There is catastrophe and confusion.
When the lovers in silence dance with the rhythm of the heart
And in ecstasy love life, there is mutuality and completion.
But, if a lover departs from the bonds of love,
There is misery and sorrow.
- Category: Scriptures With Songs
- Created on 14 February 2015
- Last Updated on 14 February 2015
- Written by Administrator
Hymn 1: page 2.11 Brethren, We have met to Worship
Hymn 2: page 142 Mount Zion Stands Most Beautiful
Hymn 3: page 26 Hallelujah! Praise God!
A. What is Justice?
The word justice is often heard nowadays. Most people are demanding or seeking some form of justice. With the recent events that unravel the summary deaths of law enforcers in pursuit of justice, people are asking, “where do we find justice?”
Because of rampant abuses and injustice, other meanings and connotations have been attached to it, such us “Justice delayed, is justice denied”, “justice is only for the rich”, “there is no peace without justice” etc. Indeed, justice can be very illusive in our times, but that does not mean that it cannot be attained. The book of Proverbs described a paradoxical condition that is seldom seen today when it said, “the righteous care about justice for the poor [oppressed], but the wicked have no such concern.” (Proverbs 29:7). It also reminded us that it should always be pursued, “it is a joy for the just to do justice. But destruction will come to the workers of iniquity [evil].” (Proverbs 21:15)
What does the Bible really mean when it speaks of justice? Does God care about the many injustices and inequalities we see around?
The Bible tells us that God is just. This means that He is fair and impartial. It also means that He abhors lies and deceit, the abuse, cruelty and oppression of people and of nature, which He has created. Thus, biblical justice entails making individuals, families, and communities whole by upholding both goodness (right and true) and impartiality (fairness). Justice can be placed at the center of one’s true faith. It is one of God’s attributes that directly flows out of His holiness. For this reason, it is what motivates God throughout the Old and New Testaments in his judgments on sin and injustice. These judgments are applied to both an individual and a community or nation.
Our first set of Bible readers will show us how justice originated from God and how God dispenses righteous justice and judgments:
Bible Reader 1: God is the Judge of All
Bible Reader 2: --God’s Justice reflect His Perfect Will and Righteousness
Thank you Bible Readers. Brethren, let’s please stand as we sing praises through the following hymns:
Hymn 4: page 63 O How I Love Thy Law!
Hymn 5: page 66 I’ll Sing of Mercy and Justice
B. God’s Establishes Justice
The moral righteousness of God is revealed in his laws and commandments and its practical applications are recorded in the statutes and judgments for the appreciation of mankind. God’s commandments and judgments meet perfect standards of justice, and his apportioning of punishments and rewards is also perfectly just. All these standards emanates from the Creator of the perfect balance of justice. The Bible reveals how these are so…
Bible Reader 3— God’s justice is exercised fairly and equitably
Bible Reader 4— He upholds the cause of the oppressed and vindicates those who have been wronged:
Psalm 103:6; Ps 135:14; Ps 140:12; Ps 146:7-9;
Thank you Bible Readers. Brethren, please all stand as we responsively offer our next hymns:
Hymn 6: page 56 Rise and Judge, Eternal One!
Hymn 7: page 124 In Days of Old
Thank you brethren, please be seated.
C. Justice in the Old Testament
The Hebrew word for “justice,” mishpat, occurs in its various forms more than 200 times in the Old Testament. Its most basic meaning is to treat people fairly and equitably. It means acquitting or punishing every person on the merits of the case, regardless of race or social status. Anyone who does the same wrong should be given the same penalty. But mishpat means more than just the punishment of wrongdoing. It also means giving people their rights. Another understanding may also be gleaned when we consider a second Hebrew word that can be translated as “being just,” though it usually translated as “being righteous”. The word is tzadeqah, and it refers to a life of just and right relationships. Our next Bible verses will show us how these can be done…
- Category: Scriptures With Songs
- Created on 11 January 2015
- Last Updated on 11 January 2015
- Written by Ofelia Limpoco-Magat
Scriptures and Songs
Opening Hymns 1. In Your Image, p.162
2. Oh, Day of Rest and Gladness, p.159
3. Safely Trough Another Week, p.174
Introduction: In today’s Songs and Scripture readings, we will read and study one of the very nature of our Sovereign God—that our God is a Holy God. God mandated all His people to be holy just as he is holy.
Our key verses are in 1 Peter 1:16 and Psalm 99:9. God doesn’t tell us that we can make ourselves holy, “but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy” (1 Pet 1:15-16) and God through Moses tells the children of Israel that they must be “’Be holy because I, the LORD your God, am holy” (Lev 19:2). In Psalm 99:9 king David exhorted, “Exalt the Lord our God, And worship at His holy hill; For the Lord our God is holy.”
Everything concerning God is Holy. In the book of Psalms, King David wrote regarding a “holy place”. Prophets Ezekiel, Obadiah, and Habakkuk spoke of “holy mountain”, “holy throne.”
The English derivative word of “holy” comes from the old English "halig”, “hal”, it means “whole” (or complete) hence, to “perfect” is to complete. The Hebrew equivalent is “qodesh” and it means “apartness, set-apartness, separateness, sacredness”.
In the New Testament, the word for holy is the Greek “hagios” and it means “set apart, reverend, sacred, and worthy of veneration.” While this word applies primarily to God because God Himself is totally “other”, separate, sacred, reverend, and set apart from every created thing, His call is for His people to be like Him.
A. God Declared or Created What is Holy.
Our Sovereign God created and declared the seventh (7th) day as holy. Even at the very beginning, God ordained, set apart a day, sanctified it and made it holy. This seems very important enough because the first thing God declared to be holy was not an object or thing or place, it is time—a holy time. This is called the Sabbath. Thus, even as God created time and seasons, for days and years as signs, He then set apart special days called Sabbath, Feast days, or holy convocation and assemblies. Let’s hear it from our first set of readers…
2. Joyful At the Feast p.225
B. How Can We Be Physically Holy Before God?
God in His Sovereign Will did not let his people grope in the dark or decide for ourselves what is holy or not holy. He declared or set apart certain food we can eat. God wanted us to eat healthy and good food, including clean animals. Why? Because our body is the temple of God’s Holy Spirit. We must keep our body clean, holy and undefiled. As these laws on holiness teach us to be physically clean, so our mind must also be clean. Our Heavenly Father wants all of us to be like Him—holy and clean. Just as every parent wants what is best for his children, so God is no exception. We cannot remain holy or clean if we eat things that are unclean. This should be a lesson for all of us. Our next set of readers will read these verses from…
Reader 4: 1Cor 3:16-17; 1 Cor. 6:19-20
2Cor 7:1; 1 Thes. 4:4; 1 Thes. 5:23
Hymns 3. Praise the Eternal with a Psalm p. 2
4. On Our Way to the House of the Lord, p.221
- Category: Scripture Studies
- Created on 18 December 2014
- Last Updated on 19 December 2014
- Written by Administrator
As a believer of Jesus Christ, have you ever asked the question of what “Santa Claus”, “Christmas tree” mistletoe, holly wreath, exchanging gifts, and other quaint customs have to do with His birth? Almost twenty years ago, I found a small booklet about this subject that seriously challenged my belief and made me rethink of many long-held traditions whenever Christmas season comes around. I would like to share it with you as its information are still relevant today as it was when I first read it.
WHERE DID we get Christmas?... from the Bible, or paganism? Here are astonishing facts which may shock you! Do you know the origin of the Christmas tree -- of "Santa Claus" -- of the mistletoe, holly wreath, -- custom of exchanging gifts?
Does Christmas really celebrate the birthday of Jesus? Was He born on December 25th? Did Paul, the apostles, and the early Church of the New Testament celebrate Christmas? Do you know what the Bible says about the Christmas tree?
Stop and think! Very few know WHY we do the things we do, or WHERE our customs came from! We were born into a world filled with customs. We grew up practicing them, taking them for granted, but NEVER QUESTIONING WHY!
Not a Christian Festival
We have supposed Christmas to be the chief of the Christian holidays. Without asking questions, we have blindly assumed its observance must be one of the principal teachings and commands of the New Testament. We have supposed Jesus was born December 25th, and that the New Testament set this day aside as the chief Christian festival. We have supposed we exchange gifts because the wise men presented gifts to the Christ-child.
But let's quit supposing and look into history and the Bible for the facts! The word "Christmas" means "Mass of Christ," or, as it later became shortened, "Christ-Mass." It came to us as a Roman Catholic Mass. And where did they get it? From the heathen celebration of December 25th, as the birthday of Sol, the sun-god! It is, actually, an ancient rite of Baalism, which the Bible condemns as the most abominable of all idolatrous worship!
It is not so much as MENTIONED anywhere in the New Testament. It was never observed by Paul, the apostles, the early true Christian church! The idea that Jesus was born December 25th is one of the FABLES the Apostle Paul prophesied (2 Timothy 4:4) would deceive the world in these latter days.
The truth is, Christmas is NOT Christ's birthday at all! And this festival, important as it seems to so many, is not of Christian, but of pagan -- Babylonish -- origin! But does that make any difference? Isn't it all right to go ahead and observe it anyway? Isn't the "Christmas spirit" a good and splendid thing, regardless of how it got started?
We shall see!
Jesus NOT Born on December 25th
Now let's look to the interesting proof! When was Jesus born?
Jesus was not even born in the winter season! When the Christ-child was born "there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night" (Luke 2:8). This could never have occurred in Palestine in the month of December. The shepherds always corralled and brought their flocks from the mountain sides and fields not later than October 15, to protect them from the cold rainy season that followed that date. Notice that the Bible itself proves in Song of Solomon (2:11), and Ezra (10:9 and 13), that winter was a rainy season not permitting shepherds to abide in open fields at night.
“It was an ancient custom among Jews of those days to send out their sheep to the fields and deserts about the Passover (early-Spring), and bring them home at the commencement of the first rain,” says Adam Clarke's Commentary, Vol. 5, page 386. Continuing, this authority states:
"During the time they were out, the shepherds watched them night and day. As ... the first rain began early in the month of Marchesvan, which answers to part of our October and November (begins mid October), we find that the sheep were kept out in the open country during the whole summer. And, as these shepherds had not yet brought home their flocks, it is a presumptive argument that October had not yet commenced, and that, consequently, our Lord was not born on the 25th of December, when no flocks were out in the fields; nor could He have been born later than September, as the flocks were still in the fields by night. On this very ground, the nativity in December should be given up. The feeding of the flocks by night in the fields is a chronological fact ... See quotations from the "Talmudists in Lightfoot."
Any encyclopedia, or any other authority, will tell you that Christ was not born on December 25th. The Catholic Encyclopedia frankly states this fact.
The exact date of Jesus' birth is entirely UNKNOWN, as all authorities acknowledge. The Scriptures strongly indicate that it was in the early Fall -- probably September -- approximately six months after Passover. If God had wished us to observe and celebrate Christ's birthday, He would not have so completely hidden the exact date.
What Encyclopedias Say
There is not one word in the New Testament, or anywhere in the Bible, telling us to observe Christmas. The Christians of the first century, under the inspired teachings of Peter, and Paul, and the other apostles, never observed it. There is NO BIBLE AUTHORITY for its observance, strange as it may seem.
Then where did we get "Christmas?" Since it has come to us thru the Roman Catholic church, and has no authority but that of the Roman Catholic Church, let us examine the Catholic Encyclopedia, published by that Church. Under the caption "Christmas," you will find:
"Christmas was not among the earliest festivals of the Church ... The first evidence of the feast is from Egypt." "Pagan customs, centering around the January calends, gravitated to Christmas."
Encyclopedia Britannica has this: "Christmas (i.e., the Mass of Christ). Christmas was not among the earliest festivals of the church..." It was not instituted by Christ or the apostles, or by Bible authority -- it was picked up afterward from paganism.
The Encyclopedia Americana says:
"Christmas. It was, according to many authorities, not celebrated in the first centuries of the Christian church, as the Christian usage in general was to celebrate the death of remarkable persons, rather than their birth..." (The "Lord's Supper," which is instituted by New Testament Bible authority, is a memorial of the death of Christ). "...a feast was established in memory of this event (Christ's birth) in the fourth century. In the fifth century the Western Church ordered it to be celebrated forever on the day of the old Roman feast of the birth of Sol, as no certain knowledge of the day of Christ's birth existed."
- Category: Scripture Studies
- Created on 12 December 2014
- Last Updated on 19 December 2014
- Written by Raul Hipe
We are again in this time of the year when majority of the world keeps a very special time they believe commemorates the birth of Jesus Christ.
While this celebration is inescapable for most of us, this season can be a real struggle, especially when our difference piques the curiosity of some as they think it sad that we are removing ourselves from the most meaningful time of the year, or is it?
Was Jesus Christ really born on December 25th? If he was not born on that date, can we know for certain when his birth possibly took place? A careful study of the surrounding events leading to the birth of Christ will actually show some vital facts.
On the other hand, plethora of information is just a click away over the internet that will show us undeniable information as to the questionable origin of Christmas celebration. Many people are now beginning to see how the “winter-time” merry-making of December 25 actually predated the birth of Christ—that these were derived from an ancient cultic celebration of the re-birth of the Roman pagan sun-god on the day of the winter solstice or Saturnalia.
History also attested to the fact that the Catholic church heavily borrowed from this celebration in order to entice the heathens (pagans) to embrace a new religion. While this method was successful in preserving “Christmas” as it survived today, the Bible is actually explicit in forewarning us and discouraging such borrowed and sanitized pagan practices.
God’s overriding admonitions in Deuteronomy 12, are very instructive in helping us know how God views all these things:
“When the Lord your God cuts off before you the nations whom you go in to dispossess, and you dispossess them and dwell in their land, take care that you be not ensnared to follow them, after they have been destroyed before you, and that you do not inquire about their gods, saying, ‘How did these nations serve their gods?—that I also may do the same.’ You shall not worship the Lord your God in that way, for every abominable thing that the Lord hates they have done for their gods, for they even burn their sons and their daughters in the fire to their gods. “Everything that I command you, you shall be careful to do. You shall not add to it or take from it.” Deuteronomy 12:29-32 ESV(see also Jeremiah 2:2-5, Ezekiel 23:37-39, Zephaniah 1:5, 2 Cor. 6:14-18)
But what information do we have surrounding the birth of Christ?
On the surface, the gospels’ accounts of Matthew and Luke revealed little about the time of Jesus' birth. But a careful study of the narratives will clearly indicate two things:
First, that the December 25 date is very untenable and unlikely date for Jesus to be born.
Second, the chronology of the events and familiarity with the Biblical customs pointed to a different but meaningful period.
As a well-regarded historian, Luke, provided a sound and orderly account of the events that removes any doubt as to the time of the birth.
As an overview, Luke introduced us to event leading for Jesus’ parents coming to Jerusalem (Bethlehem). And this was due to a Roman census ordered by Caesar Augustus compelling everyone to return to their hometown (Luke 2:1-4). Both historical fact and logic dictate that such censuses cannot be taken in winter, when temperatures were often below freezing and travelling can be very arduous due to roads’ poor condition. It would be self-defeating for such census to be enforced.
Another least understood factor was the influx of many travelers in and around Jerusalem during this period that made it difficult for Joseph and Mary find a decent "inn" (Luke 2:7). Looking at the historical context, the only possible reason was the fact that it was a pilgrimage-feast (harvest) season (Exo 23:16, Deut 16:16), making it even more an opportune time for Roman census and collect taxes.
Moreover, Luke in his account about the timing of birth, also noted the presence of shepherds in the fields watching their flocks “by night”. (Luke 2:8). For shepherds to be in the fields at night with their flocks in the bleak of mid-winter December in Israel is unnatural and topographically untenable even when it is only a mild winter. Thus The Interpreter's One-Volume Commentary says this passage argues “against the birth [of Jesus] occurring on Dec. 25 since the weather would not have permitted” shepherds watching over their flocks in the fields at night. Other references suggest based on this account that, “Jesus may have been born in summer or early fall. Since December is cold and rainy in Judea, it is likely the shepherds would have sought shelter for their flocks at night” (Celebrations: The Complete Book of American Holidays p. 309).
If it is not possible for Jesus to be born on December 25, does the Bible indicate when He was born?
To unlock this and using the same sequence of events in Luke Chapter 1:5 through 2:8, two overlooked key factors will give us answers.
The Key Events
Luke Chapter 1 begins by telling the story of a childless couple named Zacharias, a priest, and his wife Elizabeth. While Zacharias was in the Temple administering his priestly duties under the “division of Abijah”, he was visited by the angel Gabriel, who told him that his prayers had been answered and that his wife Elizabeth will finally bear a son. He would name his son “John”( Luke 1:5-13).
Because of their advancing age, Zacharias doubted that this would happen. So Gabriel told him that he would be “mute” and not be able to speak until the birth his son. It was after receiving this vision and as soon as his priestly service in the Temple was completed, that Zacharias departed to his own house. Elizabeth soon conceived but kept it secret for five months. (Luke1:19-25)
It was in the sixth month of Elizabeth's pregnancy, when Gabriel visited Mary (her cousin) and informed her about her own unique pregnancy, telling her "And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name Jesus". Soon after, Mary visited Elizabeth and stayed with her until the latter's ninth month, leaving just prior to John's birth. Thus, making Jesus Christ birth approximately six (6) months after John the Baptist. (Luke 1:26-56)
- Category: Scripture Studies
- Created on 08 December 2014
- Last Updated on 12 December 2014
- Written by Raul Hipe
I think it is without question that all of us believe in love. We have our view and understanding about what love is. We all have our own unique experiences when love is shown. We can further ask the same question to a more religious person and they will tell you how they profess and uphold love. Oh, how they love the subject of love! They would not even hesitate and embrace the virtue of loving others as they love themselves. No question about that.
But what do we really know about love?
How does the Bible define love?
I am asking this question about love, because I was once confronted with this question. Some thought that I tend to favor love more than the application of laws and commandments.
Is this observation correct? Is there some validity to the idea that we cannot truly show our love if we want to uphold the law? Are laws and love two different and opposing subject in the Bible? Will you be showing strength when you uphold the law, and you are giving in to some weakness when you favor love?
King David, one of the toughest men in the Bible (he has confronted and killed the mightiest giant of his time, Goliath), once wrote a meditation in concerning the interplay of law and love as he understood it in his life:
Oh, how I love Your law!
It is my meditation all the day.
You, through Your commandments, make me wiser than my enemies;
For they are ever with me. Psalm 119:97-98
David goes further in his affirmation by saying:
I hate the double-minded,
But I love Your law.
You are my hiding place and my shield;
I hope in Your word.
Depart from me, you evildoers,
For I will keep the commandments of my God! Psalm 119:113-115
So here is David, the righteous King over all Israel, affirming his love for God’s laws. Do we have contradictions here? Did King David confuse himself by showing his love for God?
David further adds in:
My life is continually in my hand,
Yet I do not forget Your law. Psalm 119:109
That why I called this the triple “L” formula in Psalm 119 – Law, plus Love equals Life! I called this the love's equation.
Putting it another way: If you Love God’s Law, then your life will be full. If you love Life then you know that the foundation of that life must be grounded on the law and If you uphold life through love, then you are showing a love that is real! This is the synergy to a real life.
We cannot simply have one without the other. That’s the biblical application of Love. As they say, love is verb—an action word. Love defines our way of life. Love is manifested in itself as a fruit in one’s life (“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. Galatians 5:22-23).
This same principle applies when we understand that our physical body, for example (with its various internal parts or organs woven intricately, playing distinctive roles), has built in system of laws that made our life possible and sustainable. And so laws are everywhere in God’s creation (laws of gravity, electromagnetism, laws on thermodynamics such as entropy, etc.) because laws are what made life possible. Law made life and love is what makes life worth living. Hence, without the interplay of law and love you can only have chaos, destruction and death.
However, many have this distorted idea about love who subvert those lacking in understanding of true, godly love. That is why the Bible is also full of admonition about a false sense of love, like this one in the book of Proverbs:
Come, let us take our fill of love until morning;
Let us delight ourselves with love.
For my husband is not at home;
He has gone on a long journey;
He has taken a bag of money with him,
And will come home on the appointed day.”
With her enticing speech she caused him to yield,
With her flattering lips she seduced him.
Immediately he went after her, as an ox goes to the slaughter,
Or as a fool to the correction of the stocks. Proverbs 7:18-22
This is the kind of love that is popular nowadays. Naturally the product of this kind of love is betrayal that causes pain and heartbrokenness in relationships.
Another sense of false love is described by prophet Ezekiel this way:
“As for you, son of man, the children of your people are talking about you beside the walls and in the doors of the houses; and they speak to one another, everyone saying to his brother, ‘Please come and hear what the word is that comes from the Lord.’ So they come to you as people do, they sit before you as My people, and they hear your words, but they do not do them; for with their mouth they show much love, but their hearts pursue their own gain." Ezekiel 33: 30-31
This is empty love that borders on deception and duplicity. These are commonly seen among those who profess to love God but their action speaks otherwise. Jesus equally has this strictest condemnation:
While there are false concepts of love these should not deter anyone in seeking the true kind of love that truly support and uphold life. In fact, we can confidently say that love is the centerpiece of all Scriptures (both Old and New Testaments).
Moving in the New Testament, Jesus Christ made it very clear in Matthew 22, even as He was challenged by those who claimed to uphold the Law:
But when the Pharisees heard that He had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together. Then one of them, a lawyer, asked Him a question, testing Him, and saying, “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?”Jesus said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.” Matthew 22:34-40
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