Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Did You Know? - Christmas 2011 (Pt-1)

How well do you know the Christmas story? Here are some obscure facts (& some conjecture) about what really happened all those years ago.

On a few occasions in the past I've posted what I consider to be interesting facts about some of our Christian HolyDays as the time approached. I've been meaning to do the same this Christmas season and just haven't gotten it done till now. Hopefully, it's better late than never though. I'll add to this over the next few days with some little-known thoughts / facts / info regarding the Christmas story. For a more in-depth study, see my full study in the file titled "The Christmas Story" at:

Did You Know? ...

The Birth of Christ:
1. The birth of Christ was predicted generally more than 530 years earlier by Daniel the Prophet. His writings predicted the event we’ve come to know as Palm Sunday to the very day (1). By extrapolation, the birth of the Messiah about 30 years earlier could have been easily recognized within a few years.

2. The Jewish scribes knew from Scripture the location in which the Messiah was to be born, but they had missed the prediction of the time of his birth (and apparently forgotten the knowledge of signs in the stars that was known by the Magi so that they did not recognize all the pointers to the time of His birth.

3. It is likely that there was no room in the local inn for Mary and Joseph because many were traveling to their home towns for the same reason they were (the census). Mary’s pregnancy likely slowed their travel considerably. Coming from far in the northern portion of the country made for an even longer journey and they arrived late finding no room in what was probably already limited space for accommodation due to the small size of Bethlehem. It’s possible that Mary’s condition – especially after the long journey so late in her pregnancy, made even the short trip back to Jerusalem (a much bigger city) impossible.

4. The fact that the Shepherds were still watching their flocks in open fields at night indicates that the season was not winter. Other clues, including timing of the birth of John the Baptist 6 months earlier probably place the birth of Jesus in late September.

5. The shepherds got a small glimpse into what was going on in the heavenly realms as the angels swarmed and hovered protectively around the infant Jesus - their Creator and King - having placed himself into so lowly and vulnerable a form. You can bet that Satan was doing everything he could to try to attack and kill the baby Jesus. In the stillness of that “Silent” and “Holy night”, there were not doubt ferocious battles taking place, or at least an unimaginably large and fortified gathering of the host (“host” means “army”) of heaven establishing a defensive perimeter around the manger

6. The "stable" was almost certainly a cave as is referenced by a number of early church historians all the way back to the first century (3). It was not uncommon to build a house (or inn) near a cave which could serve as shelter / stable for animals. Wooden structures were very scarce and typically small in rural places due to the scarcity of wood in the hill country near Jerusalem. Olive trees were the most common, but does not produce much wood. So the traditional pictures of a wooden barn like structure and even a wooden manger (animal feed trough) are very likely wrong. Both structures were likely carved from stone either by hand or naturally.

(1) Sir Robert Anderson’s work “The Coming Prince”. Anderson demonstrated the prophecy of the “70 Weeks” from Daniel chapter 9 predicted Jesus’ Triumphal Entry to Jerusalem (Palm Sunday) to the exact day.
(2) Clues from the text regarding John’s father being a priest and being in service in the temple are very important. The priests served in rotation on a schedule which is known from archaeology. If the timing of Christ’s birth can be discovered to within a year or two, then the exact time of John’s birth can be discovered to the month.
(3) Justin Martyr (c.100-165) "Dialogue with Trypho"

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