Sukkot: The Timing of the Birth of Messiah

Feast of Tabernacles — Day 6

The accounts in the Bible about the births of Yochanan the Immerser and Messiah Yeshua (Jesus) seem to point to their being born around the times of the Biblical festivals of Passover and Tabernacles, and for very good reason based on their missions.

Point is, the Bible teaches clearly that Yeshua wasn’t born on Dec. 25, as Daniel Agee explains in this discussion.

Daniel digs into the Nativity narratives in Matthew 1 and Luke 1-2 as well as the workings of the priesthood, namely the scheduling of priests such as Yochanan’s father, Zechariah of the division of Abiyah, to work in the temple (1 Chron. 24:1-19). The accounts give important clues to the timing of the births based on when Zechariah’s division would have been serving in the temple, the normal timespan of pregnancies, the six-month earthly age difference between Yochanan and Yeshua, and the role Yochanan would play for Yeshua’s work.

Because of the likely timing of the birth of Messiah — as John puts it, His "tabernacling" with us (John 1:14) — around the Feast of Tabernacles, the conception of Messiah by God’s Spirit in Miriam would have come around the end of the ninth month. That’s around the time of the Festival of Dedication (John 10:22) — commonly known as Chanukah after the Hebrew word for "dedication" — which comes on the 25th day on ninth month. (Listen to "An Introduction to the Feast of Tabernacles" for an exploration of the historical setting for Chanukah.) That coincides with a curious prophecy about the building of the temple on the 24th day of the ninth month more than 100 years before the historical events connected with Chanukah (Haggai 2:10-19).

Another important point in this discussion is that despite the evidence that points to the timing of the births of Yochanan and Yeshua, the date of Messiah’s birth isn’t specifically mentioned. Likely, it wasn’t because it wasn’t as important as the date of His death, on a Passover. Given the rabid commercialism that has crowded out Christ from Christmas, we should be thankful the real date of His birth was hidden.

Daniel also covered this topic at Sukkot in 2006.

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