Descoperire unică în Israel. Sinagoga unde a predicat Isus -Synagogue where Jesus likely preached uncovered in Israel – December, 2014

sinagoga din Magdala unde a predicat Isus

Sinagoga din Magdala unde a predicat Isus Photo credit http://www.israeltoday.co.il

Arheologii au făcut o nouă descoperire pe coasta Mării Galileei, în Israel. Arheologii care au descoperit o sinagogă pe coasta Mării Galileei, în Israel, cred că acesta a fost de fapt locul unde Isus a predicat, aşa cum scrie şi în Biblie.

Ruinele sinagogii au peste 2.000 de ani şi se află în oraşul Migdal din nordul Israelului. Localitatea se află chiar deasupra anticului Magdala, locul unde tradiţia creştină spune că s-a născut Maria Magdalena, una dintre cele mai devotate discipole ale lui Iisus.

Situl arheologic se află în proprietatea unei organizaţii catolice, Legiunile lui Cristos, care susţine că în acest loc a predicat Iisus adepţilor săi.

Părintele Eamon Kelly spune că Iisus şi-a petrecut cea mai parte a vieţii sale aici, în nordul Israelului, deşi Biblia vorbeşte mai mult despre evenimentele din Ierusalim şi Betleem. Aici, Iisus a predicat celor veniţi să-l asculte şi tot aici a cunoscut-o probabil pe Maria Magdalena.

Photo credit plus.google.com

Călătoria lui Iisus în oraşul Magdala este menţionată în Evanghelia după Matei. Localitatea era situată de drumul urmat de negustorii care făceau comerţ între Siria şi Egipt.

Lângă situl arheologic organizaţia catolică va construi un centru pentru vizitatori, un hotel, o capelă şi un restaurant.

Sinagoga datează din perioada celui de Al Doilea Templu şi în lume mai sunt doar 6 sinagogi păstrate din această epocă.

Primele ruine au fost excavate în anul 2009, fiind descoperite întâmplător, în timpul lucrărilor la un şantier pentru construirea hotelului.

Şefa echipei de arheologi, Dina Avshalom-Gorni, spune că descoperirea este „unică şi extrem de importantă”

Sinagoga din Magdala unde a predicat Isus Photo credit myocn.net

ENGLISH

Synagogue where Jesus likely preached uncovered in IsraelDecember, 2014

By Ofira Koopmans Dec. 22, 2014
When the Legions of Christ bought a piece of land on the western shore of the Sea of Galilee, little did it know what it would find.
DPA – Some would call it luck, others coincidence. Father Eamon Kelly calls it „providence.”

When his Catholic organization, the Legions of Christ, bought a piece of land on the western shore of the Sea of Galilee, little did it know what it would find.

When people think of Jesus, they usually think of Bethlehem or Jerusalem, Kelly points out. But Jesus spent almost his entire life and ministry in what is now northern Israel.

„Eighty percent of Jesus’ public life was here,” says the Irish-born priest, gesturing at the Galilee region.

He stands on what are likely ruins of the ancient town of Magdala, thought to be the home of Jesus’ best-known female disciple, Mary Magdalene. The waterline of Israel’s only sweet-water lake shimmers in the distance.

It took his organization several years to buy and acquire permits for four adjacent plots of land on which to build a pilgrims’ hotel, an inter-faith chapel, a restaurant and a women’s shelter.

But in Israel, archaeological excavations are compulsory before any construction can begin.

When archeologists and volunteers started digging, they were astonished to find a treasure: A 1st-century synagogue, one of only seven in Israel – and in the entire world.

Experts say it’s highly likely that Jesus would have preached in the recently uncovered synagogue, believed to have first been built in the year 1 as a simple structure which was then upgraded into a more ornate one in the year 40.

Until Tiberias was built, the only town on the western shore of the Sea of Galilee was Magdala.

Anyone touring the region, as Jesus did according to the New Testament, teaching and preaching in synagogues all through Galilee, would not have skipped Magdala, located on the Via Maris – the ancient trade route that ran along the Mediterranean and the western shore of the Sea of Galilee all the way from Egypt to Syria.

Matthew 15:39 also mentions Jesus setting foot there, saying „and he took ship, and came into the coasts of Magdala (sometimes also translated from the Greek as Magadan).”

In the times of Jesus, people would gather in local synagogues to meet and assemble, not just for prayer.

According to archaeologists, the Magdala synagogue was destroyed in 67 or 68 CE by Romans in their first war with Jews. Until the Magdala Stone was discovered, the oldest menorah ever found was on Rome’s Titus Arch of 82 CE.

Read the entire story here – http://www.haaretz.com/archaeology/1.633141

Synagogue Where Jesus Preached Found at Capernaum in 1983

Rough black basalt residences of first-century A.D. Capernaum stand in stark contrast to the smooth white limestone of the fourth-century synagogue in the background. Under this synagogue, excavators have found another synagogue made of the same black basalt as the residences in the foreground. The lower synagogue was built on nearly the same plan as the upper limestone synagogue visible here. The walls of the lower synagogue were nearly four feet thick—much thicker than those of these residences—and the walls were made of worked stones, rather than the unworked stones builders used in the residences. The upper synagogue has three entrances on the south, Jerusalem-facing facade. Through these entrances can be seen three rows of columns forming aisles on either side of the prayer hall and the back wall.
The first-century Capernaum synagogue in which Jesus preached has probably been found. Because more than one synagogue may have existed in Capernaum at this time, we cannot be sure that this new find was Jesus’ synagogue. But this recently discovered first-century building is certainly a likely candidate.a
At the moment, the synagogue is not a very impressive-looking structure, but it is there nevertheless. And for millions of Christians, that is the important thing. For Jews, too, this find adds important new evidence of how their people worshipped 2,000 years ago. Only a handful of such synagogues are known.b
Reclame

fara cuvinte…

Daniel Chereji – „Minunat” Isaia 9:1-6

Isaia 9:1-6

1 Totuşi întunericul nu va împărăţi veşnic pe pământul în care acum este necaz. După cum în vremurile trecute a acoperit cu ocară ţara lui Zabulon şi ţara lui Neftali, în vremurile viitoare va acoperi cu slavă ţinutul de lângă mare, ţara de dincolo de Iordan, Galileea neamurilor.
2 Poporul care umbla în întuneric vede o mare lumină; peste cei ce locuiau în ţara umbrei morţii răsare o lumină.
3 Tu înmulţeşti poporul, îi dai mari bucurii; şi el se bucură înaintea Ta cum se bucură la seceriş, cum se înveseleşte la împărţirea prăzii.
4 Căci jugul care apăsa asupra lui, toiagul care-i lovea spinarea, nuiaua celui ce-l asuprea, le-ai sfărâmat, ca în ziua lui Madian.
5 Căci orice încălţăminte purtată în învălmăşeala luptei şi orice haină de război tăvălită în sânge vor fi aruncate în flăcări, ca să fie arse de foc.
6 Căci un Copil ni S-a născut, un Fiu ni S-a dat, şi domnia va fi pe umărul Lui; Îl vor numi: „Minunat, Sfetnic, Dumnezeu tare, Părintele veşniciilor, Domn al păcii.”

Titlul predicii: MINUNAT
Text biblic: Isaia 9:1-6
Schiţa predicii:

  • 1. Minunat prin persoana Lui
  • 2. Minunat prin caracterul Lui
  • 3. Minunat prin lucrările Lui
  • 4. Minunat prin poziţia Lui
  • 5. Minunat prin destinul Lui

Predicator: pastor Daniel Chereji
Biserica Baptistă ”Biruinţa” Baia Mare – http://biruinta.ro
http://facebook.com/pages/Biserica-Cr…

VIDEO by Biserica Creştină Baptistă Biruinţa Baia Mare

Iosif Ton – Timotei, ia seama la citire, nu la televizor

Iosif Ton Londra

Fii atent la citire –

Timotei, ia seama la citire, nu la televizor. Cat timp petreci citind? Televizorul iti da imagini si alea numai te tulbura. Ia seama la citire. Cat de mult citesti Scriptura? Cat de mult ti-a imbibat mintea cu ea? De la 12 ani am inceput procesul de memorizare a Scripturii. La 20 de ani am facut un test cu cineva. I-am zis: „Eu ma uit pe geam, tu citesti orice text din Biblie, orice verset si eu iti spun de unde citesti. Acuma, imi citesti din Isaia, cred ca e cap. 51; acuma citesti din Matei. Si m-a dus prin toata Biblia si la fiecare spuneam de unde citeste.

Coloseni 3:16 – Cuvântul lui Hristos să locuiască din belşug în voi în toată înţelepciunea. Cum poate locui Cuvantul lui Hristos in tine, daca nu-l citesti si daca nu-l memorizezi?

„Pai, frate, dar eu n-am timp.”
„Poftim? N-ai timp pentru Dumnezeu? Tu vrei sa petreci vesnicia cu Dumnezeu si n-ai timp pentru El?”

„Da, si eu am venit sus.”
„Dar, ce-ai facut acolo jos? Cat timp ti-ai petrecut cu Mine, acolo?”
„Pai, dar, a trebuit sa fac avere in Londra… A trebuit sa fac bani. Dupa aia, sa imi fac casa in Romania. Si daca am avut un pic timp, l-am petrecut la televizor, sa vad si eu macar atat in Anglia.”

Fii atent la citire.
Si dupa aceia, fii atent la meditare. Moise ii spune lui Iosua: „Cartea asta care am scris-o eu,” cand zice cartea asta a legii, era Exodul, Levitic, Numeri si Deuteronom. Astea erau „Cartea Legii”. Cu cartea asta incingi o lume. „Cugeta la ea zi si noapte. Mediteaza la ea.” Ce inseamna asta?

Biblia: Cugeta la ea zi si noapte. Mediteaza la ea –

Dupa ce ai citit un text, sa faci ce spune in Psalmul 119:147 –
147 O iau înaintea zorilor şi strig; nădăjduiesc în făgăduinţele Tale.
148 O iau înaintea străjilor de noapte şi deschid ochii, ca să mă gândesc adânc la cuvântul Tău.

Asta inseamna a medita. Cuget adanc la cuvantul Tau. Uite cum se intampla. Tu trebuie sa-ti disciplinezi mintea, sa stie cum sa cugete, sa gandeasca adanc. Invata pe de rost intrebarile care sa le pui textului. Ce-mi vorbeste textul acesta despre Dumnezeu Tatal? Ce-mi vorbeste despre Domnul Isus? Ce-mi vorbeste despre Duhul Sfant? Ce-mi vorbeste despre om? Ce-mi vorbeste mie personal? Care-i versetul care scanteiaza si simt caci cu ala imi vorbeste mie Dumnezeu? Care-i versetul care se merita sa-l memorizez? Si acela il si rumeg, pana se imprima.

Astea-s cateva intrebari. Mai poti pune si alte intrebari. Stai la masa, stai cu Biblia in fata, ai hartie si creion. Pui textului intrebari. Dar, acuma, fii atent: autorul acelui text e Dumnezeu. Cand eu pun intrebari la text, practic, eu pun intrebari lui Dumnezeu. Si treptat, treptat, dupa ce invat sa dialoghez cu textul, ridic ochii, zic: „Doamne, ce-mi raspunzi Tu la intrebarile astea?” Spune-ti lucrul acesta; apoi, taceti. Asa spune in Psalmi. Taci. Taci, sa-L asculti pe El. Si dintr-o data auzi ca spune ceva. Asta-i Dumnezeu! Si e asa de distinctiv, ca imediat simti ca Dumnezeu vorbeste. Si treptat, treptat, ii recunosti vocea cand vorbeste si incepi dialog cu Dumnezeul cel viu.

Solitudine

Dialogul tau cu Scriptura, cugetarea ta la Scriptura devine un dialog cu Dumnezeu. In cacrtile pe care vi le-am recomandat se vorbeste de citire, de mediatie, de solitudine. Domnul Isus zice: „Du-te in camaruta ta, incuie usa dupa tine.” Sa nu fii, decat tu cu Dumnezeu. Aia e solitudine. Du-te undeva unde esti numai tu cu Dumnezeu, neintrerupt macar 1 ceas, doua si sa inveti sa dialoghezi cu Dumnezeu. „Cautati-ma. Cautati-mi fata si Eu ma las gasit de voi.” Sunt promisiuni in acest sens.

Vezi mesajul integral aici …

Iosif Ton la Londra (Partea II-a)

Din vizita Doctorului Iosif Ton la Biserica Sion, in care a predicat Evanghelia si a impartasit o abordare sistematica de a dezvolta discipline spirituale in viata personala a credinciosului. Londra, 26-27 octombrie 2014

Iosif Ton: Voi sunteti Romani in Londra. Ce inseamna asta? Pana nu de mult, Romanii erau inchisi in ei insisi si se credeau cei mai buni oameni din lume. Este o carte care a aparut imediat dupa revolutie, scrisa de un mare teolog ortodox, Dumitru Staniloaie. Toti il revereaza. Dar daca cititi carticica aia spre poporul Roman, e atata lauda poporului Roman, cum nu mai poti gasi alta- cel mai bun, cel mai cumsecade, cel mai cinstit popor din lumea asta. Si dupa aceea, tu stii cum ne priveste Europa pe noi, Romanii, ca ti-e rusine sa zici ca esti Roman. Multi sunt ambarasati, suntem luati in deradere.

Ceva, face Dumnezeu, ce n-a mai facut. Toate natiunile astea care erau inchise in ele, dintr-o data se trezesc in Uniunea Europeana- eu care am trait in inchisoarea romaneasca, nu mi-am imaginat vreodata  ca vine vremea cand ma pot urca in masina undeva, la noi in Ardeal, si sa plec de acolo pana la Londra sau la Stockholm, sau la Madrid, fara pasaport, numai cu buletinul si fara chinul de-a obtine vize si aprobari. Si in libertatea asta, doua milioane de Romani, ca voi, au plecat din tara si au umplut Europa de Apus. Unii, numai temporar, sa-si faca un banut, ca sa-s poata construi o casuta si apoi sa se duca inapoi. Dar, foarte multi zic: „Dar, de ce sa ma mai intorc acolo?” Si tot mai multi Romani decid sa ramana in tara in care au venit. Si avem Romani care se englezesc, Romani care se Suedeaza sau se Spaniolesc sau se Italienesc. E foarte interesant sa te duci si sa stai intr-o familie de Romani in Austria si sa-i vezi pe copii ca nu mai vorbesc romaneste, numai nemteste. Sau te duci la familie in Spania  si copiii numai spaniola [vorbesc], numai cultura spaniola. Si asa sunt Romanii din Anglia.

Ce vrea Dumnezeu cu asta?

Ca asta nu se intampla asa, din intamplare. Dumnezeu a prevazut-o de mult si va fi tot mai mare comunitatea de Romani in Anglia, Romani care-si permanentizeaza starea  in Anglia. Acuma, sa stiti o diferenta intre Europa si America. In America, intr-o generatie, copiii nu mai sunt Romani. In America, deci, se spune: „Mai, tu nu mai esti Roman. Tu esti American. Si copiii nu mai sunt rusi, italieni, romani; ei s-au americanizat. In generatia urmatoare, ei nu mai stiu ca au fost Romani, ca asa li se spune: „Uita ce ai fost; acuma, tu esti american.” Dar in Londra, peste trei generatii, voi tot Romani veti fi; doar nu te poti face englez. Si tot neamt ramai in Germania, ca nu te faci neamt. Nu te poti face spaniol. In Europa raman pocketsof minorities – grupari de minoritati. Ce vrea Dumnezeu cu asta?

Eu am crescut la ceea ce s-a numit scoala ardeleana. De pe la 1700, Petru Maior, Gheorghe Sincarin, altii ca ei, Samuel Klein, mergem la scoli in strainatati si apoi ne intoarcem la poporul nostru sa ne ridicam poporul. Eu cu ideea asta am crescut si atunci cand am ajuns la Oxford, sau vadul boului. Cati dintre voi stiti ca Oxford inseamna vadul boului? Au venit dupa mine din America, sa-mi ofere pozitii. „Nu, d-le. Eu sunt de la opinca si ma intorc la opinca. D-le, te mai duci inapoi la oamenii aceia, in inchisoarea comunista? Da, pentru ca neamul meu are nevoie de mine si Dumnezeu de aceea m-a adus la Oxford, ca apoi tot ce-am adunat sa dau la poporul meu. Now that’s a different mentality, isn’t it? Aceasta este o mentalitate total diferita, nu?

Voi, ma adresez acelor care ati venit si vreti sa ramaneti aici si repet, astia vor fii tot mai multi. Incepeti sa va organizati, nu numai intr-o adunare. Va trebui ca comunitatea romaneasca din Londra sa se organizeze asa fel incat  statul britanic sa va dea resursele extraordinare care au la dispozitie pentru minoritati. La ora actuala, Romanii nu profita de asta. Si vio trebuie sa va ganditi; noi trebuie sa formam o comunitate romaneasca in Anglia. Si chiar daca urcam pe toate treptele si ajungem maine, poimaine ca macar un Roman sa fie in parlamentul de la Westminster, reprezentantul romanilor, acolo. De ce nu?  Pe cand vom avea primul roman, membru al academiei britanice- Royal Society- un roman savant recunoscut si e primit ca membru in The Royal Society. Aim high! Tintiti sus!

In 1940, a aparut o noua traducere a Noului Testament in limba engleza, care pana astazi e admirata si multi o folosesc. J. B. Phillips.

10:58

24:00 Eu veau sa provoc in seara asta toti tinerii, v-a adus Dumnezeu in Anglia si va veti aseza aici. Indrazneste sa-ti insusezi toata cultura acestei tari, toata istoria acestei tari si mai ales istoria crestina a acestei tari. Si istoria oamenilor mari ai lui Dumnezeu pe care i-a dat tara asta.

Iosif Ton in Londra, Anglia Octombrie 2014 PART II

VIDEO by ISUS PENTRU TOTI

Third Day – Soul On Fire (Official Lyric Video)

Photo credit itunes.apple.com

„Soul On Fire”

God, I’m running for Your heart
I’m running for Your heart
Till I am a soul on fire
Lord, I’m longing for Your ways
I’m waiting for the day
When I am a soul on fire
Till I am a soul on fire
[x2]

Lord, restore the joy I had
And I have one to bring me back
In this darkness, lead me through
Until all I see is You

God, I’m running for Your heart
I’m running for Your heart
Till I am a soul on fire
Lord, I’m longing for Your ways
I’m waiting for the day
When I am a soul on fire
Till I am a soul on fire

Lord, let me burn for You again
Let me return to You again
And Lord, let me burn for You again
And let me return to You again

God, I’m running for Your heart
I’m running for Your heart
Till I am a soul on fire
Lord, I’m longing for Your ways
I’m waiting for the day
When I am a soul on fire

God, I’m running for Your heart
I’m running for Your heart
Till I am a soul on fire
I wanna be
Till I am a soul on fire
Till I am a soul on fire

Lyrics via http://www.azlyrics.com

Music video by Third Day performing Soul On Fire (Official Lyric Video). (C) 2015 Provident Label Group LLC, a unit of Sony Music Entertainment

VIDEO by ThirdDayVEVO

David Platt – Incarnation Lord of All (Part 4 of 4)

jesus-is-lord

Philippians 2:9-11 – Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
and gave him the name that is above every name,
10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
11 and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.

This proclamation that Jesus is Lord, is at the central core of the early church. First sermon ever preached in chapter 2:36, Peter stands and says: „God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ. And throughout the rest of the New Testament, this proclamation is central. Over and over again, Jesus is proclaimed as Lord. 750 different times in the New Testament, Jesus is referred to as Lord.

It is the heart of the incarnation. The fact that this baby, born in a manger, would one day be exalted as the Lord over everything. What does that mean? Even the word Lord, it kind of loses its meaning in our christian vocabularies. I don’t want that to be a lifeless word for us. I want you to see 4 facets of His Lordship, that unfold here in Philippians 2:9-11.

For Jesus to be Lord, it means that:

  1. He reigns in the utmost position. For Jesus to be highly exalted, to be exalted to the highest place, does that mean that He was greater after the incarnation than He was when He came to the earth? That after He died on the cross, rose from the grave, and ascended into heaven, that means He was greater when He was exalted than He was when He became man? Obviously, He was not greater in a sense, as He was fully God before, and fully God after. So the essence of who Jesus is has not changed. WHAT HAS CHANGED? What does Jesus have now in heaven that He did not have before He came to the earth? The answer is clear: It’s His humanity. He became a man, and He was resurrected as a man, and He ascended as a man. And His humanity is with Him forever. He is fully God and fully man through all of eternity. a) He has gone from the humiliation of man to the honor of God. Just as we have seen God exalted throughout the Old Testament, we now see Jesus exalted. What that means is all the praise that belongs to the most high God of the Old Testament, now belongs to Jesus. When you read in Luke chapter 2:11, it says: Today is born to you ‘Christ the Lord‘. The baby born in the manger is the Lord of creation. He is exalted above all gods. He is therefore the object of our worship. 
  2. He holds unending power. We’ve taken the idea of LORD from the Jewish mindset. Now, let’s come to a more greek gentile mindset. For the Gentiles, Lord was used to describe master or owner of slaves. The picture here is of one who has absolute power and absolute authority over others. That’s what it means to be Lord. All authority has been given to Him. 1) First, He has the power to save. He alone is Lord over sin. 2) He has the power to rule. He is sovereign He, is in control over all things. (32:49) It is our decision whether to bow the knee today for salvation, or to bow the knee after death in condemnation.
  3. He deserves universal praise. Worship, adoration. Every knee will bow, every tongue will confess- literally means ‘declare openly’ that Jesus Christ is Lord. He deserves universal praise- from every angel, from every people, and from every language.
  4. He fulfills the ultimate purpose. Why did God exalt Him? God exalted Jesus to bring glory to Himself. That is the ultimate purpose and it is the ultimate purpose for which Christ came to the earth, died on a cross, rose from the grave, ascended into heaven so that God the Father would be exalted. „To the glory of God”. John 1:14 „We have seen His glory, the glory of the one and only, full of grace and truth.” That’s what it means for the Word to become flesh. The ultimate reason at Christmas is we look back to His revelation of the Father’s glory. John 12, before Jesus is about to head to the cross, „What shall I say Father, save Me from the cross? No, it is for this reason I came. Father, glorify your name.” John 12:28 „I came to bring glory to your name”. John 13:31 „Now the Son is glorified and the Father is glorified in Him”.  So, at Christmas we look at the Father’s revelation is Christ, but, that is not where we stop. But, at Christmas we also look forward to His return with the Father’s glory. We do not just rejoice that He came, we rejoice because He is coming back. He is coming back for His people and will show the fullness of the Father’s glory. 1 Corinthians 16:22 „Maranatha, Come Lord Jesus. Come”. At Christmas, let’s not just look backward, let’s look forward to the fact that He is coming back for you and me. The Lord has promised that He is coming back. We will be with Him forever. That’s the beauty of incarnation.

Our prayer this Christmas is simple:

  • Open our eyes, so that we may see the magnitude of your glory!
  • Open our hearts that we may feel the weight of your grace
  • And open our mouths so that we might declare the wonder of your Gospel

The Father as Prophet, Priest, and King — R C Sproul

God is holy. People are unholy. Through God’s holy grace Christians are deemed holy because of the finished work of Christ. We are indwelt by the Holy Spirit, who labors daily to make us more holy. But until we are glorified, the presence of sin remains. Perhaps nothing highlights this more than the way we often respond to the holiness of God. His perfection can terrify we who have broken His law.

The Father as Prophet, Priest, and King

— 2001 National Conference

VIDEO by Ligonier Ministries

On what day was Jesus really born? A New Testament Manuscript Expert Responds

A 1466 copy of Jewish historianFlavius Josephus‘ first century workAntiquities of the Jews, widely used to establish the chronology of Jesus. Photo from Wikipedia.

This is a study by Daniel B. Wallace , which you can read it in its entirety here-  http://bible.org/article/birth-jesus-christ

Daniel B. Wallace has taught Greek and New Testament courses on a graduate school level since 1979. He has a Ph.D. from Dallas Theological Seminary, and is currently professor of New Testament Studies at his alma mater.

His Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics: An Exegetical Syntax of the New Testament (Zondervan, 1996) has become a standard textbook in colleges and seminaries. Dr. Wallace is also the Executive Director for the Center for the Study of New Testament Manuscripts.

Wallace – We must keep in mind that the Jesus we worship was truly born in time-space history. And that babe in the manger was truly crucified–and just as surely rose from the dead. The Bible is different from the sacred books of other religions because it invites historical investigation. And when it has met the test–as it surely always, inevitably does–it inculcates a greater devotion in the heart of the believer for the one we call the Son of God.

The Year Jesus Was Born

In the western hemisphere, we split time by the birth of Jesus Christ. But did he really even live? If so,when was he born?

Josephus records an eclipse of the moon just before Herod passed on. This occurred on March 12th or 13th in 4 B.C. Josephus also tells us that Herod expired just before Passover. This feast took place on April 11th, in the same year, 4 B.C. From other details supplied by Josephus, we can pinpoint Herod the Great’s demise as occurring between March 29th and April 4th in 4 B.C.

It might sound strange to suggest that Jesus Christ was born no later than 4 B.C. since B.C. means ‘before Christ.’ But our modern calendar which splits time between B.C. and A.D. was not invented until A.D. 525. At that time, Pope John the First asked a monk named Dionysius to prepare a standardized calendar for the western Church. Unfortunately, poor Dionysius missed the real B.C./A.D. division by at least four years!

Now Matthew tells us that Herod killed Bethlehem’s babies two years old and under. The earliest Jesus could have been born, therefore, is 6 B.C. Through a variety of other time indicators, we can be relatively confident that the one called Messiah was born in either late 5 or early 4 B.C.

My atheist friend scoffs at such flexibility. He says, „If you don’t know exactly when Jesus was born, how do you know that he really lived?” That is hardly a reasonable question! The other day I called my mother to wish her a happy birthday. „Mom, how many candles on this birthday cake?” I inquired. „I don’t know, son–I don’t keep track any more,” she sighed. After a few minutes of pleasant conversation, we hung up.

Now, of course, I can’t be certain, but I do believe that that was my mother on the other end of the phone. She can’t remember how old she is (and she’s neither senile nor very old), but that doesn’t make her a figment of my imagination, does it? Because if she’s just a phantom, then for the last three minutes, you’ve been reading absolutely nothing!

The Day Jesus Was Born

This coming December 25th most parents will be lying to their children about old St. Nick. Some of us will be celebrating the birth of our Savior. But was he really born on this day?

Was Jesus really born on December 25th? Virtually every month on the calendar has been proposed by biblical scholars. So why do we celebrate his birth in December?

The tradition for December 25th is actually quite ancient. Hippolytus, in the second century A.D., argued that this was Christ’s birthday. Meanwhile, in the eastern Church, January 6th was the date followed.

But in the fourth century, John Chrysostom argued that December 25th was the correct date and from that day till now, the Church in the East, as well as the West, has observed the 25th of December as the official date of Christ’s birth.

In modern times, the traditional date has been challenged. Modern scholars point out that when Jesus was born, shepherds were watching their sheep in the hills around Bethlehem. Luke tells us that an angel appeared to „some shepherds staying out in the fields [who were] keeping watch over their flock by night” (2:8).

Some scholars feel that the sheep were usually brought under cover from November to March; as well, they were not normally in the field at night. But there is no hard evidence for this. In fact, early Jewish sources suggest that the sheep around Bethlehem were outside year-round. So you can see, December 25th fits both tradition and the biblical narrative well. There is no sound objection to it.

Now admittedly, the sheep around Bethlehem were the exception, not the rule. But these were no ordinary sheep. They were sacrificial lambs. In the early spring they would be slaughtered at the Passover.

And God first revealed the Messiah’s birth to these shepherds–shepherds who protected harmless lambs which would soon die on behalf of sinful men. Whey they saw the baby, could they have known? Might they have whispered in their hearts what John the Baptist later thundered, „Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!”

Now, of course, we can’t be absolutely certain of the day of Christ’s birth. At least, not this side of heaven. But an early winter date seems as reasonable a guess as any. And December 25th has been the frontrunner for eighteen centuries. Without more evidence, there seems no good reason to change the celebration date now.

We can blame the ancient church for a large part of our uncertainty. You see, they did not celebrate Christ’s birth. At all. To them, it was insignificant. They were far more concerned with his death . . . and resurrection.

But modern man has turned that around. A baby lying in a manger is harmless, non-threatening. But a man dying on a cross–a man who claims to be God–that man is a threat! He demands our allegiance! We cannot ignore him. We must either accept him or reject him. He leaves us no middle ground.

This Christmas season, take a close look at a nativity scene once again. Remove your rose-colored glasses–smell the foul air, see the cold, shivering animals. They represent the Old Testament sacrificial system. They are emblems of death. But they are mere shadows of the Babe in their midst. He was born to die . . . that all who believe in him might live.

The Visit of the Magi

When Jesus Christ was born, men–known as magi–came from the east to worship him. Were they wisemen . . . or astrologers?

Matthew begins his second chapter with these words: „Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, magi from the east arrived in Jerusalem, saying, ‘Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw his star in the east, and have come to worship him.'”

Who were these wise men from the east? Matthew tells us next to nothing about them–he doesn’t mention their names, nor how many there were–not even which country they came from. As mysteriously as they come on the scene, they disappear. . .

Though Matthew doesn’t tell us much, over-zealous Christians throughout church history have dogmatically filled in the blanks. By the 6th century A.D., these dark strangers were given thrones and names: Gaspar, Melchior, and Balthazar were the alleged names of these alleged kings. But this has nothing to do with the biblical story: we really have no idea what their names were–nor even their number. There could have been 3 or 300 as far as we know! But one thing we do know for sure: they were not royalty. The ancient magi were reilgious and political advisors to eastern kings–but there wasn’t a drop of blue blood among them.

But isn’t it true that the magi were astrologers? And didn’t God prescribe death to astrologers in the Old Testament? ‘Not always’ and ‘yes’ are the answers. In Deuteronomy 17, God commands his people to execute all astrologers by stoning. Jean Dixon wouldn’t stand a chance in such a theocracy! The fact that she–and others like her–are so comfortably tolerated–even well respected!–in modern America ought to show us that the U.S.A. is a post-Christian country–at best . . .

But what about these ancient magi? Were they astrologers? After all, they followed a star to Bethlehem.

We might answer this in three ways: First, not all magi were astrologers, for Daniel the prophet was the chief of the magi in Nebuchadnezzar’s court. Through his influence, undoubtedly many of the magi carried on their religious and political duties as worshippers of the One true God.

Second, there are some biblical scholars who believe that Isaiah predicted that a star would appear when the Messiah was born. If this interpretation is correct, then the magi who worshipped the newborn king were clearly following in Daniel’s train, for he almost surely taught them from Isaiah.

Third, although a few believe that the ‘star’ they saw was a natural phenomenon–such as a conjunction of Saturn and Jupiter–this cannot explain how the star stood right over Bethlehem. Clearly, the ‘star’ was completely of supernatural origin. If so, it probably had nothing to do with astrology.

Therefore, the magi most likely did not subscribe to such superstitious folly. If so, they were truly wisemen . . .

I saw a bumper sticker the other day, which read, „Wise men still seek him.” Actually, that’s not quite accurate. The Bible tells us that „no one seeks God, not even one.” But if he has led us to himself, then we have become wise. For it is true that „wise men still worship him.”

The Boys from Bethlehem

One of the most heinous atrocities in human history was the murder of Bethlehem’s babies by Herod the Great. But did it really happen?

In the second chapter of Matthew’s gospel, we read that when Herod the Great heard of the Messiah’s birth, „he was troubled–and all Jerusalem with him.” Later, when the wise men did not report back to him, he became furious and ordered all the baby boys up to two years old in and around Bethlehem to be slaughtered!

Three questions come to mind as we consider this cruel incident: First, how many babies did Herod actually kill? Second, how old was Jesus when this happened? And finally, why does no other ancient historian record this outrage? In other words, did it really happen?

How many babies did Herod murder? Some scholars have suggested as many as 200! But most reject such a figure. Bethlehem was a small community–almost a suburb of Jerusalem. The village itself–and the surrounding countryside–would hardly have more than 30 male infants under two. Most scholars today place the number between 20 and 30.

But that’s if only the boy babies were killed. Actually, the Greek text of Matthew 2:16 could mean ‘babies’–not just ‘boy babies.’ And psychologically, Herod’s henchmen might not have bothered to check the gender of their victims. The number might be as high as 50 or 60.

Second, how old was Jesus when this occurred? According to the best chronological evidence, he could not have been more than three or four months old. He was more than likely born in the winter of 5 or 4 B.C.–Herod died in the early spring of 4 B.C. So why did Herod slay all children up to two years old? The answer to the third question might help to answer this one. . .

Third, why is this event not recorded outside the Bible? Specifically, why did Josephus, the first-century Jewish historian, fail to mention it?

Josephus tells us much about Herod. The best word to describe his reign is ‘overkill.’ He murdered hisfavorite wife’s father, drowned her brother–and even killed her! He executed one of his most trusted friends, his barber, and 300 military leaders–all in a day’s work! Then he slew three of his sons, allegedly suspecting them of treason. Josephus tells us that „Herod inflicted such outrages upon (the Jews) as not even a beast could have done if it possessed the power to rule over men” (Antiquities of the Jews 17:310). Killing babies was not out of character for this cruel king. And killing them up to two years old–to make sure he got the baby Jesus lines up with his insane jealousy for power.

Josephus might have omitted the slaying of the babies for one of two reasons: first, he was no friend of Christianity and he left it out intentionally; or second, just before Herod died he locked up 3000 of the nation’s leading citizens and gave orders that they were to be executed at the hour of his death. He wanted to make sure that there would be mourning when he died. . . Israel was so preoccupied with this that the clandestine murder of a few babies might have gone unnoticed. . .

Herod thought that he had gained a victory over the king of the Jews. Yet this was a mere foreshadowing of the victory Satan thought he had when Jesus lay dead on a Roman cross. But the empty tomb proved that that dark Friday was Satan’s worst defeat!

Conclusion

We’ve been looking at several aspects of the birth of Jesus Christ in this short study. Now, we want to put it all together.

In the winter of 5 or 4 B.C., God invaded history by taking on the form of a man. He was born in a small town just south of Jerusalem. Bethlehem, which means ‘the house of bread,’ indeed became worthy of its name one lonely winter night. For there, in that town, was born the Bread of Life . . .

His mother placed the infant king in a manger–or feeding trough–because the guest room where they were to stay was occupied. The birth of this king was celebrated that night only by his mother, her husband, and a handful of shepherds. The shepherds had been in the fields around Bethlehem, guarding the lambs which would die at the next Passover. An angel appeared to them and gave them the birth announcement: „today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:11). In their simple faith, they rushed to see their newborn king.

Shortly after the birth of the Messiah, magi from the east arrived in Jerusalem and inquired of king Herod where the real king of the Jews was to be born. The theologians of Herod’s court knew the Scriptures well–in ‘Bethlehem’ they recited. Ironically, though they knew the Scriptures, they did not believe them! They did not even bother to travel the five or six miles to Bethlehem to see their Messiah.

But Herod believed the Scriptures! That is why he sent a corps of butchers to Bethlehem to slaughter innocent children, in hopes of destroying this rival to his throne. But he was too late. The magi had come and gone and Jesus was by now safe in Egypt.

And the magi believed the Scriptures. They had traveled several hundred miles to worship this Babe. They were guided to Bethlehem by a supernatural celestial phenomenon–and by the Scriptures. Apparently, their ancestors had been instructed by Daniel the prophet about the coming Messiah. . . When they saw the child, they fell down and worshiped him. This was God in the flesh. They could do no other.

And they gave him gifts–gold, frankincense, and myrrh. This was an unusual present–by any standards. The gold, of course, we all can understand–but the frankincense and myrrh were odd. Perhaps they had read Isaiah’s prophecy that „nations will come to your light, and kings to your rising . . . They will bring gold and frankincense, and will bear good news. . . ” (Isa. 60:3, 6). This explains the frankincense, but not the myrrh.

Now myrrh, like frankincense, was a perfume. But unlike frankincense, myrrh smelled of death. In the ancient world, it was used to embalm a corpse. Jesus himself would be embalmed with this very perfume (cf.John 19:39).

If the magi were thinking of Jesus’ death when they brought the myrrh, they no doubt knew of it from Daniel’s prophecy (9:24-27). In the ninth chapter of Daniel we read that the ‘Messiah will be cut off’ and this ‘will make atonement for iniquity’ and ultimately ‘bring in everlasting righteousness’ (9:26, 24).

Even at the birth of our Savior, the shadow of the cross is already falling over his face. . .

The theologians of Herod’s court did not believe the Scriptures. They were fools. Herod believed, but disobeyed. He was a madman. The simple shepherds and the majestic magi believed in this infant Savior–and it was reckoned to them as righteousness. May we follow in their train.

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