Saturday, September 13, 2008
There are important parallels between Jewish feasts and the fulfillment of Christ. For example the Passover is now celebrated as the Lord’s Supper.
The Sabbath is now celebrated by the Resurrection.
Some other parallels are:
Pesach / Passover
Hag HaMatzah / Feast of Unleavened Bread
Bikkurim / First Fruits
Shavout / Feast of Weeks (Pentecost)
Jewish tradition holds that Rosh Hashanah celebrates the anniversary of the creation of the world, a day when “God takes stock of all of His Creation,” which of course includes all of humanity. Translated from the Hebrew, Rosh Hashanah means “head of the year” – rosh means head, while hashanah means year. Jews believe that God’s judgment on this day determines the course of the coming year.
Rosh Hashanah is a Jewish festival in which most work ceases, just as on the weekly Sabbath. It’s celebrated both in joy and solemnity. During the daily prayer service a ram’s horn, or in the Hebrew, shofar, is sounded:
“And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, Speak unto the children of Israel, saying, In the seventh month, in the first day of the month, shall ye have a sabbath, a memorial of blowing of trumpets, an holy convocation. Ye shall do no servile work therein: but ye shall offer an offering made by fire unto the LORD.” (Leviticus 23:23-25)
God does not do things in vain, or without purpose. The Old Testament Holy Days were not just some sort of Divine make-work project to keep the Israelites busy while they were out wandering in the desert. All of the Old Testament Holy Days (Passover, Days of Unleavened Bread, The Feast of Weeks, The Feast of Trumpets, The Day of Atonement, The Festival of Tabernacles and the Last Day) were, and continue to be, living symbols of the stages of God’s Plan of Salvation for all humanity. Those events are now in progress, and true Christians are the manifestation of it.
In the Christian world, Rosh Hashanah is known as The Feast of Trumpets. Many Christians observe this festival for its Christian prophetic application – the Rapture of the Church.
“Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.” (1 Corinthians 15:51-53)
“For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.” (1 Thessalonians 4:15-17)
All the Spring Feasts were fulfilled at Christ’s first coming. All the Fall Feasts picture the Second Advent, and the Feast of Trumpets is the first of the fall feasts, picturing the Rapture.
Now there are more feasts to be fulfilled with the second coming.
Yom Teruah (Rosh HaShanah) / Feast of Trumpets
The Rapture; the last trump; wedding of the Messiah; New Moon; Open Door
Yom Kippur / Day of Atonement
Sukkot / Feast of Tabernacles (Booths)
A special season known as ‘Teshuvah’ which in Hebrew means “to return or repent”, begins on the first day of the month of Elul and continues 40 days, ending with Yom Kippur. Thirty days into Teshuvah, on Tishrei 1, comes Rosh HaShanah. This begins a final ten-day period beginning on Rosh HaShanah and ending on Yom Kippur. These are known as the High Holy Days and as the Awesome Days. The sabbath that falls within this ten-day period is called ‘Shabbat Shuvah’, the Sabbath of Return. Five days after Yom Kippur is ‘Sukkot’, the Feast of Tabernacles. Teshuvah begins on Elul 1 and concludes on Tishrei 10, Yom Kippur. Each morning during the 30 days of the month of Elul, the trumpet (shofar) or ram’s horn is blown to warn the people to repent and return to God.
Rosh HaShanah is also referred to as ‘Yom Teruah’, the Day of the Sounding of the Shofar, or the Day of the Awakening Blast. On Yom Teruah, the Day of the Sounding of the Shofar, it is imperative for every person to hear the shofar.
Yom Teruah is the only festival that no man knows when exactly it will occur. This is due to the fact that it begins on the new moon. The new moon was sanctified when two witnesses see the new moon and attest to it before the Sanhedrin in the Temple.
This sanctification could happen during either of two days, depending on when the witnesses come. Since no one knew when the witnesses would come, no one knew when the Feast of Trumpets would start.
On the 30th of each month, the members of the High Court assembled in a courtyard in Jerusalem, where they waited to receive the testimony of two reliable witnesses. They then sanctified the new moon. The new moon is very difficult to see on the first day because it can be seen only about sunset, close to the sun, when the sun is traveling north. So, looking for a very slim
faint crescent moon, which is very close to the sun, is a very difficult thing to do. If the moon’s crescent was not seen on the 30th day, the new moon was automatically celebrated on the 31st day.
For this reason, Yom Teruah is always celebrated for two days. These two days are celebrated as though it is just one long day of forty-eight hours. The reason that it is celebrated for two days is because if they waited to start the celebration until after the new moon had been sanctified, they would have missed half the celebration because the new moon can only be sanctified during daylight hours. The command seems to be that we know the season, but not the day or the hour (Matthew 24:32-36).
Yom Teruah, or the Feast of Trumpets, is the only feast that we do not know the day in which to keep it. Therefore, we have to be on the alert and watch for it.
Teruah means “an awakening blast”. A theme associated with Rosh.
HaShanah is the theme “to awake”. Teruah is also translated as “shout”.
The book of Isaiah, chapter 12, puts the shouting in the context of the thousand-year reign of Jesus. The Messianic era and shout is mentioned in Isaiah 44:23 and Zephaniah 3:14. The first coming of Christ is associated with a shout in Zechariah 9:9. The ultimate shout is the Rapture in First Thessalonians 4:16-17.
Whether it is by the blast of a shofar or the force of a supernatural shout, God’s goal is to awaken us. “...Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light.” – Ephesians 5:14.
The book of Ephesians has many references to Rosh HaShanah and the high Holy Days. For example, in Ephesians 4:30, being sealed unto the day of redemption refers to Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement. God gave this festival to teach us that we will be judged on Rosh HaShanah and will be sealed unto the closing of the gates on Yom Kippur.
The theme of awakening from sleep is used throughout the Bible. It is found in John 11:11, Romans 13:11, Daniel 12:1-2 and Psalm 78:65.
The shofar was also blown at the temple to begin the Sabbath each week. There are two types of trumpets used in the Bible:
1. The silver trumpet
2. The shofar or ram’s horn
Each sabbath, two men with silver trumpets and a man with a shofar made three trumpet blasts twice during the day. On Rosh HaShanah, it is different. The shofar is the primary trumpet. On Rosh HaShanah, a shofar delivers the first blast, a silver trumpet the second, and then a shofar the third.
According to Leviticus 23:24 and Numbers 29:1, Rosh HaShanah is the day of the blowing of the trumpets.
“Speak unto the children of Israel, saying, in the seventh month, in the first day of the month, shall ye have a sabbath, a memorial of blowing of trumpets, an holy convocation.” – Leviticus 23:24
“And in the seventh month, on the first day of the month, ye shall have an holy convocation; ye shall do no servile work: it is a day of blowing the trumpets unto you.” – Numbers 29:1
The trumpet used for this purpose is the ram’s horn, not trumpets made of metal as in Numbers Chapter 10.
Another name for Rosh HaShanah is ‘Yom HaDin’, the Day of Judgment. The righteous are separated and will be with God. This is known to us as the Rapture. The wicked will face the wrath of God during the tribulation period.
The shofar blown on Rosh HaShanah is known as the last trump, which the apostle Paul mentioned in First Thessalonians 4:16-17. At this time, the believers in Christ will escape the tribulation on earth and will be taken to Heaven in the Rapture along with the righteous who had died before this time.
The gates of Heaven are opened on Rosh HaShanah so the righteous nation may enter (Isaiah 26:2, Psalm 118:19-20). Because the gates of Heaven are understood to be open on Rosh HaShanah, this is further evidence that the Rapture of the believers in Christ will take place on Rosh HaShanah.
One of the reasons for blowing the shofar is to proclaim the resurrection of the dead. The resurrection of the dead will take place on Rosh HaShanah.
In First Corinthians 15:52, the apostle Paul tells us that the resurrection of the dead will be “at the last trump.” Earlier in First Corinthians 15:14, he wrote that without the Lord Jesus rising from the dead, our faith is in vain.
We cannot go to the Book of Revelation and say that the voice of the seventh angel (Revelation 11:15) is the last trump. In the first century, the last trump (shofar) meant a specific day in the year. In Judaism, there are three trumpets that have a name. They are the first trump, the last trump, and the great trump. Each one of these trumpets indicates a specific day in the Jewish year. The first trump is blown on the Feast of Pentecost (Exodus 19:19).
It proclaimed that God had betrothed Himself to Israel. The last trump is synonymous with Rosh HaShanah, according to Theodore Gaster in his book, Festivals of the Jewish Year, in his chapter on Rosh HaShanah. Herman Kieval also states the same thing in his book, The High Holy Days in the chapter on the shofar. The great trumpet is blown on Yom Kippur, which will herald the return of Jesus back to the earth (Matthew 24:31).
The first and last trump relate to the two horns of the ram, which according to Jewish tradition, was caught in the thicket on Mount Moriah when Abraham was ready to slay Isaac and offer him up as a burnt offering. This ram became the substitute for Isaac even as Jesus became the substitute for us and provided life for us through His death.
Rabbi Eliezer tells us in Pirkei Avot, that the left horn (first trump) was blown on Mount Sinai, and its right horn (the last trump) will be blown to herald the coming of the Lord for His Church.
Isaiah 18:3 and First Thessalonians 4:13-18 speak of the resurrection of the dead. First Thessalonians chapter 5 continues with the day of the Lord and the birthpangs of the Messiah. The festivals will, beyond a shadow of a doubt, tell you that the resurrection of the dead precedes the time of Jacob’s trouble (the Tribulation). First Thessalonians 4:16-17 says that the dead in Christ will rise first, and that the catching away of the believers will immediately follow.
The term ‘rapture’ comes from the Greek word ‘harpazo’, which means “to seize, catch away, catch up, pluck, pull, take by force” (1 Thessalonians 4;17). Isaiah 57:1-2 speaks clearly of the resurrection of the dead, the taking of the believers, and the hiding of the believers from the indignation (the
tribulation). Zephaniah 1:14-18 and 2:2-3 tells about the terrible times during the day of the Lord, the birthpangs of the Messiah, and issues a decree to repent and turn to God before that day to be hid from that time.
Psalm 27:5 says the righteous will be hid in the time of trouble. Paul in Second Thessalonians 2:1 tells us, “Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto Him.” The phrase “gathering together” comes from the Greek word ‘episunagoge’, which means “an assembly”.
The Feast of Trumpets, through careful study depicts nothing less than the return of Jesus Christ for His Church at the last trump, just before God pours His wrath and judgment on a sinful and Christ rejecting world
The Feast of Trumpets is when the “last trump” of the Rapture of 1 Cor. 15 is blown.
The Feast of Trumpets is known as the Wedding of the Messiah, and the Church is the Bride of Christ, and the Rapture is when the Church is caught up to heaven to be wed with Christ.
The Feast of Trumpets happens on the “new moon”, which is 29.5 days after the last one, meaning it might occur on the 29th or 30th day, nobody knows for sure.
The “Open Door” of the Rapture in Matt 25, and Rev 3, & Rev 4:1 is a symbol of the Feast of Trumpets. [Ezek 46:1] “Thus says the Lord GOD: The gate of the inner court that faces east shall be shut on the six working days; but on the sabbath day it shall be opened and on the day of the new moon it shall be opened.”
“Thus saith the Lord GOD; The gate of the inner court that looketh toward the east shall be shut the six working days; but on the sabbath it shall be opened, and in the day of the new moon it shall be opened.” (KJV)
We are told that the new moon and the Feasts of the Lord are a shadow of things to come in Col 2:16,17. Since the Feast of Trumpets is the only Feast of the Lord that falls on a new moon, we should take particular note.
There are seven Days of Awe in between the Feast of Trumpets and the Day of Atonement. These picture the seven years of tribulation. Atonement pictures Satan being defeated and cast away at the end of tribulation. If you add the two-day Trumpets Feast, and the Day of Atonement, the 7 Days of Awe are “ten days of tribulation” which might be referred to in Rev. 2:10.
In the Jewish Wedding, a marriage takes place over a period of time known as the “bridal week”. During the bridal week, the groom and bride have relations in the bridal chamber. At the end of the week, there is a marriage supper. Compare Judges 14, Rev. 19, and Genesis 29:22-28. This bridal week will be the tribulation week on earth, while the bride of Christ is in heaven.
In the Jewish Wedding, the groom comes for his bride without warning to take (seize / rapture) her away and into the bridal chamber for the bridal week at his father’s house.
The Feast of Trumpets is also known as the coronation of the Messiah, when he will start reigning as king, thus the beginning of the “Day of the Lord”, which includes the Tribulation.
Will final events start in 2008? Are 6,000 years of sin almost over? Will Jesus come in 2015? The Bible presents enlightening, logical, and compelling answers to these questions. In short, yes!
The 70 “sevens” prophecy in Daniel 9:24 has two fulfillments. First, the 70 “sevens” are 70 sabbatical cycles – 490 years, pointing to the first coming of Jesus as our Savior from sin.
Second, the 70 “sevens” are 70 Jubilee cycles – 3,430 years, pointing to the second coming of Jesus when His people will be permanently freed from sin. Near the end of 2015 the 6,000 years of sin on earth will come to an end, everlasting righteousness will be brought in, and Jesus will come again.
God’s Clocks of Sevens
When God created the earth He defined the weekly clock. He worked six days and rested the seventh. God named the seventh day the Sabbath. Every week since creation has followed the same pattern of six days for work followed by one day for rest.
God applied the same pattern to a week of seven years. He told the children of Israel to plant and to harvest their land for six years and then let the land rest the seventh year. He called the seventh year a sabbath. It is also called a sabbatical.
A third time scale for the weekly pattern is 7,000 years. People have been sinning by breaking God’s Ten Commandment law for almost 6,000 years. In a few years people will be removed from the earth and the earth will rest for 1,000 years.
|Man - 7 days||Work||Work||Work||Work||Work||Work||Rest||7x1 day|
|Land - 7 years||Work||Work||Work||Work||Work||Work||Rest||7x1 year|
|Earth - 7,000 years||Sin||Sin||Sin||Sin||Sin||Sin||Rest||7x1,000 years|
Seven sabbaticals brought God’s people to the Jubilee to bring restoration to His people and to their land. The Jubilee is a one-year sabbath for the land. The Jubilee cycle is a 49-year repeating pattern. It consists of seven sabbatical cycles, followed by a 50th year called the Jubilee. During the Jubilee the land rests, debts are cancelled, and land is returned to its original owner.
God’s Sabbath Years are Important
The children of Israel were not faithful to God. For 430 years they refused to allow their land to rest during the sabbaticals and Jubilees. For 70 years the land was not allowed its sabbath rest.
Because of their disobedience, God allowed the children of Israel to be taken captive to Babylon for 70 years. While they were in Babylon the land back in Canaan enjoyed its 70 sabbath years of rest.
Daniel is taken to Babylon in 605 BC when he is only a teenager. Throughout his captivity he remains faithful to God. As he realizes the 70 years of captivity is almost over, Daniel turns to God and pours out his heart in contrition and repentance.
Daniel is deeply concerned because God’s people are permeated with sin. He begs God to heal His people from their leprosy of sin. While Daniel is still praying Gabriel arrives from the courts of heaven to answer Daniel’s prayer. Gabriel says:
“As soon as you began to pray, an answer was given, which I have come to tell you, for you are highly esteemed. Therefore, consider the message and understand the vision:
“Seventy 'sevens' are decreed
For your people and your holy city
To finish transgression,
To put an end to sin,
To atone for wickedness,
To bring in everlasting righteousness,
To seal up vision and prophecy
And to anoint the most holy.” Daniel 9:23,24 (NIV).
In a simple, compact, elegant prophecy Gabriel answers Daniel’s prayer. God does have a plan to deliver His people from sin and wickedness. God does have a plan to bring everlasting righteousness into their lives.
One Prophecy, Two Fulfillments
This prophecy has two distinct and essential fulfillments. Remember, Daniel is praying about the lethal problem of sin in his own people. Gabriel brings him a dual answer that provides a complete solution:
1. Seventy "sevens" - 70 sabbatical cycles – 70 x 7 = 490 years
Seventy "sevens" are decreed for your people to atone for wickedness. Jesus was the atonement and sacrifice for our wickedness. He lived a perfect life on earth and then died for our sins making it possible for us to be delivered from sin and to receive eternal life. The first fulfillment pointed to the coming of the Messiah. The 70 sabbaticals predicted Christ’s first coming.
The 70 sabbaticals began in 457 BC and ended 490 years later in 34 AD. Jesus died and was resurrected in 31 AD in the middle of the 70th sabbatical cycle. The first coming of Christ occurred at the exact time predicted in Daniel's prophecy.
2. Seventy "sevens" - 70 Jubilee cycles – 70 x 7 x 7 = 3,430 years
Seventy "sevens" are decreed for your people to put an end to sin and to bring in everlasting righteousness. The second fulfillment points to the time when God’s people will no longer transgress His law. They will have everlasting righteousness brought into their lives and they will never sin again. Then Jesus will come to take them to heaven. The 70 Jubilees predict Christ’s second coming.
The 70 Jubilees began in 1416 BC when God’s children entered Canaan. The 70 Jubilees will end 3,430 years later in 2015 AD when God’s children will enter heavenly Canaan. God’s people will be totally and permanently delivered from sin and Jesus will come again. The second coming of Christ will occur at the exact time predicted in Daniel’s prophecy.
In these two steps God eliminates sin in His people. They will be forever freed from sin.
Seven Clocks from God
The following time chart shows seven clocks that God specially designed. The clocks are based on God’s word alone. The first clock started when the world was created and the seventh clock will end when the world is re-created. This chart uses the formula: Unit of Time x Pattern = Total.
|Unit of Time||Pattern||Total||What is the significance?||Repeat|
|1||Day||7x1||7 days||Rest on 7th day - Sabbath||Continuous|
|2||Day||7x7||49 days||Pentecost 50th day||Yearly|
|3||Year||7x1||7 years||Rest on 7th year - sabbath||Continuous|
|4||Year||7x7||49 years||Jubilee 50th year||Continuous|
|5||70 Years||7x1||490 years||Christ's first coming||Once|
|6||70 Years||7x7||3,430 years||Christ's second coming||Once|
|7||1,000 Years||7x1||7,000 years||Rest on 7th 1,000 years |
End of 7th - New earth created
End of sin in the universe
The 70 “sevens” prophecy in Daniel 9:24 has two fulfillments. First, the 70 “sevens” are 70 sabbatical cycles – 490 years, pointing to the first coming of Jesus as our Savior from sin.
Second, the 70 “sevens” are 70 Jubilee cycles – 3,430 years, pointing to the second coming of Jesus when His people will be permanently freed from sin. Near the end of 2015 the 6,000 years of sin on earth will come to an end, everlasting righteousness will be brought in, and Jesus will come again to take His people to heaven. Then the earth will begin its 1,000 years of rest.
God gives each of us a period of time on earth as probation. This probationary period is our opportunity to repent and to have faith in Christ. My probation and your probation will end sometime between now and the end of 2015 and it may well be sooner rather than later. The most important thing we can do right now is to give ourselves completely to God in humility and repentance and by faith to receive Jesus as our personal Savior.
Now is the time to seek God, while He may be found. Now is the time to repent. Today is the day to choose to receive Christ fully and to abide in Him.
No,.this isn't a new war games movie due to release this fall, it’s the real thing which is about to manifest itself right before our very eyes. Yes this will happen in our lifetime and the end result will begin a whole new era of change, and not the type that Barack Obama is suggesting.
How close are we?
Well within the next few weeks this will be history, not a prophetic utterance. The coming events that are about to transpire will shake the foundations of this world unlike anything it has ever seen.
So what events are occurring now that are upping the stakes?
The new missile shield for one, being setup in the Czech Republic as well as Poland.
This is a huge issue for the security of Russia for there to be a defense system that can knock down ICBM’s before they ever leave the atmosphere. Russia has already threatened Poland with a nuclear response if Poland signs the agreement. The new verbal approval this week by Dick Cheeny to allow Poland into NATO only escalates things more.
Another huge game changer is Russia is threatening to sell an air defense missile system to Iran as a high stakes bargaining chip in its new "cold war" with America.
This system can track 100 targets at once and fire on planes up to 75 miles away. Israel will never allow this to happen before striking Iran’s so called peaceful nuclear program and setting it back a few years.
See, Israel knows that Hezbollah has continued to stockpile weapons since the 2006 war with Lebanon. Iran has been supplying Hezbollah with advanced missiles which can accurately hit extensive targets inside Israel. According to them, the missiles will be operational at any moment Israel "thinks of acting adventurously and attacking Iran" or when the United States launches a regional war against the Tehran government.
Hezbollah has a combination of short to medium range rockets and guided missiles in Lebanon, and longer range guided missiles in Syria. These with the smaller number of rockets and missiles in the West Bank and Gaza, and the longer range guided missiles in Iran, present a massive amount of warheads aimed at Israel that threaten her borders.
Before you will see Israel attack Iran, you will see a war with Damascus and Hezbollah take place first. You always remove the closest and immediate threat before preempting an attack on a more distant enemy.
Damascus’ destruction will not be all inclusive to Syria, it will involve an enormous part of Lebanon as well. Just understand that as soon as the war begins, Hezbollah will launch a barrage of missiles towards Israel at which point Israel will annihilate any further resistance from these areas. Iran will be next on the radar. Considering that Syria has armed Hezbollah with chemical and biological warheads, Israel will not retaliate by conventional means but by a nuclear strike.
Immediately following the attack on Damascus and Lebanon you will see an attack on Iran’s nuclear facility. This will bring the Russians into the war considering their scientists are in the nuclear facilities with Iran’s scientists.
I still believe that an incident will spark a war in the black sea between the US and Russian forces with the catalyst being Poland and or Georgia joining NATO. The strained tensions between America and Russia are extreme now as it is, and one isolated incident could cause a full scale nuclear war between the two countries.
The Black Sea equation
Operation Brimstone ended only one week ago. This was the joint US/UK/French naval war games in the Atlantic. These ships however, are still in the area preparing for something. Either a blockade for more sanctions or something else. Whatever the case may be, the 5 carriers that left for the Persian gulf a week ago are about to arrive and they could assist Israel if called upon.
You have to realize that any involvement by the US in helping Israel will also spark a war between Russia and the United States.
Are things volatile? You bet, more so than we have ever seen. The Cuban missile crisis that began in October of 1962 pales in comparison to this.
But if you believe all of this is just bitter tensions because of people invading another territory or Iran trying to obtain nuclear weapons, you are only half right.
Oil and natural gas gives more than power, but also a sphere of influence over the area and the entire world.
Whoever controls the access to these vital resources believes that they hold the keys of global authority.
Now…The reason I am saying all of this is, these world events that are about to take place are extremely important for one reason. They are God’s time pieces written by the prophets of old in the bible. Isaiah and Ezekiel have laid out a road map for all to see and the events prophesied by them are about to take place. The good news is, when you see these things, look up.
We are about to be taken out of here. Not by nuclear means, (Well not all of us that are saved) but by the Lord Jesus Himself coming in the clouds from heaven.
You might ask is it really this close? It can’t be, we got at least 20 more years left. Well I know this much. Israel won’t wait 20 years to attack Iran which will start the domino effect of world cataclysmic events. It was said to me a couple weeks ago by someone, "Well my son just started college, Jesus can't come back yet" I lovingly told that person, "God doesn't go by your timetable, he goes by his own".
There is enough information within this site to not only show that we are living in the last days, but more than convince you of that fact. A new shavua year is about to start within the Hebrew calendar coming this Sept 30th that begins a 7 year timetable. Some very interesting things happen at the end of that time period and our NASA scientists have recorded these things on their website, which the bible also lines up with.
You can't tell me all of this is coincidence when so much of these things are happening all at one time. The birth pains are getting closer and closer. The earth is crying out and the end all of the events in Matthew 24 you can see happening right now.
The Peace treaty that is trying to be implemented between Olmert and Mahmoud Abbas to divide Jerusalem is just another part of bible prophecy. Joel 3:2
Wake up people. I can’t say this enough. If you are saved, you are about to go home.
If you do not know Jesus, and you would like to, just say this prayer aloud with me.
“Father, I know that I have broken your laws and my sins have separated me from you. I am truly sorry, and now I want to turn away from my past sinful life toward you. Please forgive me, and help me avoid sinning again. I believe that your son, Jesus Christ died for my sins, was resurrected from the dead, is alive, and hears my prayer. I invite Jesus to become the Lord of my life, to rule and reign in my heart from this day forward. Please send your Holy Spirit to help me obey You, and to do Your will for the rest of my life. In Jesus' name I pray, Amen.”
The Feast of Trumpets is the first day of the Hebrew year on the civil calendar. On this day God's people stop work. It is a holiday, or a 'holy day'. And it is called Rosh Hashanah, meaning in Hebrew, 'head of the year'.
Our coming Messiah is in the Order of Melchizedek. Melchizedek as King of Salem or 'peace' was also Priest of God most High. So our Messiah has dual offices or authority. He is to be both King of Kings and High Priest. He rules in the priestly or religious authority. He also rules in the royal or kingdom authority. His Kingdom is to be ruled from the Throne of David of the Jewish House of Judah.
So as our coming Messiah He is therefore both priest and king. This is a very important point. His future Millennial dominion embraces both the realms of politics and also religion or Church and state as it were. This is a key prophecy for us to understand.
Messiah's First coming fulfilled the spring feasts. The three of them celebrate His priestly ministry at Calvary and the Garden Tomb.
Messiah's Second coming will fulfill the fall feasts. They will celebrate the coming of His kingdom rule with the Millennium of Messiah.
This issue of the dual offices of the Order of Melchizedek is very important. It is a key to our understanding of the feasts in their spring and fall groupings. The kingdom and priestly offices of Messiah also helps us understand the basis for the the eventual reconciliation of both houses of Israel and the gathering of all the covenant people of God. God will seek out His people. He will call them from out of the Church. He will also call them out from the Jewish nation. The New Covenant will also go out to connect with people from all across the world. The Light of Israel will bring salvation to the ends of the earth.
God has an agenda for holy history. It has been set forth plainly in the Holy Scriptures. Our Messiah came 2,000 years ago as the prophesied Suffering Servant. At that time He was manifest in His priestly role as both our High Priest and also our promised Sacrifice Lamb. In His priestly role, we saw Him fulfill the first three feasts, which are the spring feasts. Now we await the fulfilment of the Fall Feasts.
In the Fall Feasts we shall be seeing Messiah emerge in His Royal Kingdom role. It will be the politics of Messiah that will be seen this time. He will come as the conquering King of Kings. God's determined dealing with His covenant people will begin. And this final seven year period, the final "week" of Daniel's 70th Week will begin. It will be announced with the blowing of Trumpets.
THE MEANING AND PURPOSE OF BLOWING OF TRUMPETS IN SCRIPTURE AND THE VITAL RESPONSIBILITY OF THE WATCHMAN TO WARN GOD'S COVENANT PEOPLE IN A TIME OF APPROACHING CRISIS.
If we do a word study of 'trumpets' or 'blowing of trumpets' throughout the Bible we come to a clear and straightforward conclusion. Apart from the annual and ceremonial events the occasions when trumpets were blown are pivotal momemts in the history of God's people. Typically the blowing of trumpests marked the emergence of some crisis in the history of the nation of Israel. So wrapped up in this act of blowing of trumpets is the idea of watchfulness and, (when necessary), the sounding of an alarm.
"Therefore, let us not sleep, as do others, but let us watch and be sober-minded." (I Thessalonians 5:6)
In blowing the trumpet the watchman is announcing to the people under his care, "Look, pay attention!! Here, I am bringing you some vital information concerning an imminent and present danger. Come, let us gather together as an assembled corporate body of people. And let us deal with this crisis before our God."
This is how a faithful watchman operates. In doing this he may well be putting his own life in jeopardy. The first order of business for an invader is to take out the sentries. Those are just the facts of life for a watchman.
THE VITAL AND ESSENTIAL WORK OF THE WATCHMAN OVER GOD'S COVENANT PEOPLE.
Our religious leaders have an awesome responsibility here. We are told that God holds His ministers responsible for the proper and timely warning of His people. When the enemy is sighted by the watchmen on the wall they have a sacred responsibility. The people need to be warned. When an enemy threatens to attack or maneuvers against their city or camp then the watchman is expected to blow the trumpet and sound the alarm.
The sounding of the trumpet is an alarm, calling the people of God to 'wake up' and 'pay attention'. But that is not all. The trumpets also summon the covenant people to assemble themselves before God. Indeed this positive response to God's call to assembly is what actually makes them the 'called out', the 'ekklesia'/'church', or the 'congregation' of God.
Joel 2:1 Blow the trumpet in Zion, And sound an alarm in My holy mountain! Let all the inhabitants of the land tremble; For the day of the Lord is coming, For it is at hand: 2 A day of darkness and gloominess, A day of clouds and thick darkness...
Joel 2:15 Blow the trumpet in Zion, Consecrate a fast, Call a sacred assembly; 16 Gather the people, Sanctify the congregation, Assemble the elders, Gather the children and nursing babes; Let the bridegroom go out from his chamber, And the bride from her dressing room. 17 Let the priests, who minister to the Lord, Weep between the porch and the altar.
The last trumpet is about to blow. Are you awake? Are you watching?
The words of Jesus concerning the end times and what to watch for just before His coming.
Luke 21:25 ¶ And there shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars; and upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring;
Luke 21:26 Men's hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth: for the powers of heaven shall be shaken.
Luk 21:27 And then shall they see the Son of man coming in a cloud with power and great glory.
If you look out in the Gulf of Mexico and south east towards the western Sahara desert in Africa, you will see that more storms are coming this way. Gustav is just the beginning.
What you are about to see is historical evidence that shows Jesus was born in the year 3 AD It appears most probable that a late summer birth in 3 AD has the best credentials. I need not rehearse my reasons for this, but they are very strong. Indeed, the evidence from the priestly courses alone suggests that a September nativity is the most likely. This gives a pretty close approximation that most scholars would probably accept as reasonable. But now, we come to the nitty-gritty! To propose an early evening birth on September 11, 3 AD appears almost impossible to believe. To get that close to his time of birth might at first seem to be fanciful.
The fact is, however, I can state without a shadow of a doubt, that the celestial scene described by the apostle John in Revelation 12:1–5, if viewed astronomically, would center precisely on a New Moon date within mid-September, and that in 3 A.D.. that exact celestial phenomenon would have occurred in the early evening of September 11th. I can also state with assurance that sundown on September 11, 3 A.D.. was also the beginning of the Jewish New Year (Rosh ha-Shanah ― The Day of Trumpets).
Even if the apostle John were only giving the symbolic time for Jesus’ nativity, and not the actual, we are provided with a great deal of insight on how early Christians interpreted significant periods of time on the holy calendar of Israel. If Jesus were actually born on Rosh ha-Shanah (the Day of Trumpets) in 3 A.D.., a most impressive astronomical panorama of events burst forth on the scene that would have awed and astonished most Jewish people who lived at the time. Truly, this is not an exaggeration.
The Importance of the Day of Trumpets
Look at the celestial events that occurred around that Rosh ha-Shanah date of September 11th in 3 A.D.. Exactly one month before (on August 12) the world would have witnessed the close conjunction of Jupiter (reckoned astrologically as the Father) and Venus (the Mother) when they were only .07 degrees from one another when they appeared as morning stars on the eastern horizon. This was a very close union. But then, nineteen days later (August 31), Venus came to within .36 degrees of Mercury in a very similar astronomical display.
Then, on September 11th, the New Moon occurred which represented the Jewish New Year. This happened when Jupiter (the King planet) was then approaching Regulus (the King star). And, on September 14, Jupiter and Regulus came to their first of three conjunctions in this extraordinary year. Then, over an eight month period, Jupiter made its “crowning effect” over the King star Regulus. There could hardly have been a better astronomical testimony to the birth of the new messianic king from the Jewish point of view. Why? Because every one of these celestial occurrences I have mentioned happened with the Sun or planets being positioned within the constellation of Leo the Lion (the constellation of Judah — from whence the Messiah was destined to emerge) or in Virgo the Virgin. The apostle John may have seen importance in these extraordinary occurrences when he symbolically showed that Jesus was born at the New Moon of Tishri, the Day of Trumpets (Revelation 12:1–3).
What we now need to do is to rehearse some of the typical and figurative features of the biblical accounts associated with this particular day. They may well reveal why John and early Christians looked on Jesus as the Christ and the king of the universe. The Day of Trumpets was a special day that symbolically showed this rule.
Jesus Was Born on the Day of Trumpets
If one can realize that the New Testament shows Jesus born on the Day of Trumpets (the first day of Tishri ― the start of the Jewish civil year) an impressive amount of symbolic features emerge on the biblical and prophetic scenes. Before the period of the Exodus in the time of Moses, this was the day that began the biblical year. It also looks like this was the day when people were advanced one year of life ― no matter at what month of the year they were actually born.
Notice that the patriarch Noah became 600 years of age “in the first month [Tishri], the first day of the month [later to be called the Day of Trumpets]” (Genesis 8:13). That was the very day when “Noah removed the covering of the ark, and looked, and, behold, the face of the ground was dry” (v. 13). This was not only Noah’s official birthday, it became a new birth after the Flood for the earth as well.
There is more. Even the first day of creation mentioned in Genesis 1:1–5 could be reckoned as being this very day. The early Jews discussed whether the actual creation took place in spring or in autumn. But since the autumn commenced all biblical years before the Exodus (Exodus 12:2), and since all the fruit was then on the trees ready for Adam and Eve to eat (Genesis 1:29; 2:9, 16–17), it suggests that the month of Tishri was the creation month, beginning near the autumn. If so, then the first day of creation mentioned in Genesis was also the first of Tishri (at least, Moses no doubt intended to give that impression). This means that not only was this the birthday of the new earth in Noah’s day and what was later to become the Day of Trumpets on the Mosaic calendar, but it was also the day which ushered in the original creation of the heavens and the earth.
As shown before, among the Jews this day was called Rosh ha-Shanah (the Feast of the New Year). The majority belief of Jewish elders (which still dominates the services of the synagogues) was that the Day of Trumpets was the memorial day that commemorated the beginning of the world. Authorized opinion prevailed that the first of Tishri was the first day of Genesis 1:1–5. It “came to be regarded as the birthday of the world.” It was even more than an anniversary of the physical creation. The Jewish historian Theodor H. Gaster states,
“Judaism regards New Year’s Day not merely as an anniversary of creation ― but more importantly ― as a renewal of it. This is when the world is reborn.”
Gaster’s insight is so germane to the interpretation of the significance of biblical festivals that I will be referring to his research several times in my following references.
When Was the “Last Trump”?
The matter does not stop there. Each of the Jewish months was officially introduced by the blowing of trumpets (Numbers 10:10). Since the festival year in which all the Mosaic festivals were found was seven months long, the last month (Tishri) was the last month for a festival trumpet. This is one of the reasons that the day was called “the Day of Trumpets.” The last trump in the seven months’ series was always sounded on this New Moon day. This made it the final trumpets’ day (Leviticus 23:24; Numbers 29:1).
This was the exact day that many of the ancient kings and rulers of Judah reckoned as their inauguration day of rule. This procedure was followed consistently in the time of Solomon, Jeremiah, and Ezra The Day of Trumpets was also acknowledged as the time for counting the years of their kingly rule. Indeed, it was customary that the final ceremony in the coronation of kings was the blowing of trumpets.
For Solomon, “Blow ye the trumpet, and say, ‘God save king Solomon’” (1 Kings 1:34).
For Jehu, “And [they] blew with trumpets, saying, ‘Jehu is king’” (2 Kings 9:13).
At the enthronement of Jehoash, “The people of the land rejoiced, and blew with trumpets” (2 Kings 11:11).
There could well be a reflection of this symbolic feature in the New Testament. The Day of Trumpets was the time for the start of the seventh month (since the time of Moses), and the time for the “last trump” to introduce festival months. Note that in the Book of Revelation, we have the record of a heavenly angel who will blow the seventh and last trumpet blast. And recall what happens at the exact time this “last trump” is sounded.
“And the seventh angel sounded [blew the last trump]; and there were great voices in heaven, saying, ‘The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord and of his Christ; and he shall reign forever and ever [for the ages of the ages].’”
In New Testament parlance this shows the time of the coronation of Jesus, and it happens at the seventh (or last) trump in the Book of Revelation ― the Day of Trumpets.
Further Significance of the Day of Trumpets
The early Jews also recognized that the Day of Trumpets was a memorial day for considering those who had died. It was not a simple type of “Memorial Day” that we moderns are accustomed to. Gaster said it was a symbolic time when “the dead return to rejoin their descendants at the beginning of the year.” Such a day was a time when Israel would rally to the call of God for the inauguration of God’s kingdom on earth. Gaster also states this was the time that became “a symbol of the Last Trump.” Since the apostle Paul was Jewish, it is possible that his reference to the “Last Trump” and the resurrection from the dead was also connected with the same biblical theme. The “Last Trump” of the early Jews was when the dead were remembered. To Paul the “Last Trump” was the time for Jesus’ second advent and the resurrection of the dead (1 Corinthians 15:52; 1 Thessalonians 4:16).
Truly, the Day of Trumpets theme is that of kingship. There may even be a reference to this in the elevation of the patriarch Joseph to kingship on this New Moon day which began the month of Tishri. Notice that he had been in a dungeon for “two full years” (Genesis 41:1). It was not simply a two year period which Moses was intending, but the passage of two full years. The implication is that the story of Joseph’s rise to kingship happened on a New Year’s Day. This is manifest in Psalm 81, a New Year’s psalm commemorating Joseph’s royal enthronement (Genesis 41:40). As with Jesus, in Revelation 11:15, the kingdoms of the world became Joseph’s on the day intended for coronations ― the day that later became the Day of Trumpets. Of course, Pharaoh retained top leadership, but as the New Testament shows, God the Father still maintains supreme rule over Jesus even when Jesus is prophesied to rule the kingdoms of this world.
The Crowning of Kings
As we have shown from the Bible, the blowing of trumpets was the sign that kings could then begin to rule (1 Kings 1:34; 2 Kings 9:13; 11:11). Jewish authorities long acknowledged this royal import to the Day of Trumpets. Gaster states, “The Sovereignty of God is a dominant theme of the occasion [and] it is one of the cardinal features of New Year’s Day.” The main issue that prevailed in the significance of the day was the triumph of God as a king over all the forces of evil. The symbolic motif of the Day of Trumpets, as Gaster shows, was God
“continually fighting His way to the Kingdom, continually asserting His dominion, and continually enthroning Himself as sovereign of creation. At New Year when the world was annually reborn that sovereignty was evinced anew.”
The theological thrust of the early Jews within their synagogue services for the Day of Trumpets was the fact that God rules over all and that he is the King of kings. On Trumpets it was common to quote Zechariah 14:16. “The king, the Lord of hosts.” Indeed, some scholars have suggested that psalms which begin “Yahweh is become king [or ‘The Lord reigns’]” (Psalm 93 and 97) were originally designed for recitation at the New Year festival.” Recent study shows this to be true. It is postulated by many scholars that in Israel, Yahweh was crowned annually at the “New Year feast of Yahweh.” The scholar Mowinckel has argued that the “enthronement psalms” (Psalms 47, 93, 96–99) in which Yahweh reigns were a part of the liturgy of the ancient synagogues. There is no doubt that this is true. This was also the very day when Jesus was born.
Jesus as the King of Kings
The central theme of the Day of Trumpets is clearly that of enthronement of the great King of kings. This was the general understanding of the day in early Judaism and it is certainly that of the New Testament. In Revelation 11:15, recall that the seventh angel sounds his “last trump” and the kingdoms of this world become those of Jesus. This happens at a time when a woman is seen in heaven with twelve stars around her head and the Sun mid-bodied to her, with the Moon under her feet. This is clearly a New Moon scene for the Day of Trumpets.
And note: Professor Thorley who reviewed the first edition of my work has shown that there are exactly twelve stars surrounding the head of Virgo as we see them from earth. And indeed there are. If one will look at Norton’s Star Atlas, twelve visible stars will be seen around Virgo’s head. They are (according to astronomical terminology): (1) Pi, (2) Nu, (3) Beta (near the ecliptic), (4) Sigma, (5) Chi, (6) Iota — these six stars form the southern hemisphere around the head of Virgo. Then there are (7) Theta, (8) Star 60, (9) Delta, (10) Star 93, (11) Beta (the 2nd magnitude star) and (12) Omicron — these last six form the northern hemisphere around the head of Virgo. All these stars are visible and could have been witnessed by observers on earth.
Thus, the description of the apostle John describes a perfectly normal heavenly scene that could be recognized by all people. Here was Virgo with twelve stars around her head, while the Sun was in uterine position and the Moon under her feet. And again, the only time this could have occurred in 3 A.D.. was on the Day of Trumpets. This is when the “king of kings” was born.
Another explanation of the Twelve Stars around the head of Virgo is that it represents the headship position (the “head” of Virgo is situated in the last ten degrees of Leo) for the beginning of the story found within the Twelve Constellations as reckoned in the biblical Zodiac. In the biblical Zodiac, the tribe of Judah (the Lion, or Leo) was situated around the Tabernacle directly east of its entrance. This meant that half of the tribe of Judah was south and the other half north of the east/west line from the Holy of Holies through the court of Israel and then eastward through the camp of Israel (in this case, Judah) to encounter the altar outside the camp where the Red Heifer was burnt to ashes. This means, unlike some Gentile reckonings which started their zodiacal story with the zero line between Cancer and Leo (that is, at the very commencement of Leo), the biblical Zodiac that Drs. Bullinger and Seiss were talking about began with the 15th degree of Leo (of Judah). This signifies that the first constellation to be met with in this celestial story would have been the “head” of Virgo the Virgin which occupied the last ten degrees of Leo. So, John began his story at this point.
The Significance of Being Born on New Year’s Day
The Day of Trumpets in the biblical and Jewish calendars is New Year’s Day for commercial and royal reckonings (just as we have January the first on our Roman calendar as the start of our New Year). This New Year’s Day signified a time of “new beginnings” to all those in Israel who accepted the teachings of the Bible. As a matter of fact, the Jews over the centuries have held to the belief that the Day of Trumpets was a cardinal date in the history of Adam (our first parent). It was the very day when Adam and Eve came to the recognition of whether to obey God or to defy him (see The Complete Artscroll Machzor, p.xvi). But that was not all that occurred on that day. No day in the year could be reckoned as being of more esteemed value and symbolic influence than Rosh Ha-Shanah. That day is important for the birth of the Messiah in several ways that are very profound in Jewish symbolism.
The book The Complete Artscroll Machzor gives some chronological details that the early Jewish theologians and scholars worked out from indications in the Old Testament to show when important individuals were born or major events happened in association with their lives. And what an array of significant things occurred on the Day of Trumpets and the month of Tishri. The book gives a summary of accounts found in the Jewish Talmud (Rosh Ha-Shanah 10b–11a).
Note what the Machzor states about this particular Day of Trumpets. The quotes are interesting and of value,
“The Patriarchs Abraham and Jacob were born on Rosh Ha-Shanah. Abraham was a new beginning for mankind after its [mankind’s] failure to realize the promise of Adam and Noah. Jacob was a new beginning for the Jewish people, for it was with him that Jews advanced from the status of individuals to that of a united family on the threshold of nationhood”
Artscroll Machzor, p.xvi, italics and bracketed word mine
The Machzor does not stop with Abraham and Jacob. Look at the following quote,
“On Rosh Ha-Shanah God remembered three barren women, the Matriarchs Sarah and Rachel, and Hannah the mother of the prophet Samuel and decreed that they would give birth. Not only was Rosh Ha-Shanah a turning point in the lives of these great and worthy women, but the births of their children were momentous events for all Jewry, because they were the historic figures Isaac, Joseph, and Samuel.”
Ibid., italics mine
If the Jewish people would realize that the New Testament in the Book of Revelation (chapter 12:1–5) also places the birth of Jesus on the very same Day of Trumpets, they might begin to understand just how important Jesus is in a Jewish sense as well as to the world. The New Testament states that he is the Messiah. He shares many similarities with the births of Abraham, Jacob, Isaac, Joseph and Samuel. People should begin to realize the significant coincidences of the birthdays of these prominent men as understood by the Jewish people. And standing out above them all, is the teaching of the apostle John that Rosh Ha-Shanah is also the birthday of Jesus.
More Significance of the Day of Trumpets
Jewish chronological evaluations show other important events associated with the Day of Trumpets (Rosh Ha-Shanah). The Machzor continues,
“On Rosh Ha-Shanah, Joseph was freed from an Egyptian prison after twelve years of incarceration. He became viceroy of Egypt, provider to the world during the years of famine, and the leader of Jacob’s family. God’s plan called for Joseph to set in motion the years of exile and enslavement that were the necessary preparation for Israel’s freedom, nationhood, and emergence in a blaze of miracles to accept the Torah and march to the Land of Israel.”
This shows Rosh ha-Shanah as a day of freedom. There is more on the theme of freedom. The Machzor continues:
“On Rosh Ha-Shanah, the Jewish people in Egypt stopped their slave labor [they began their time of liberty and freedom], while they waited for the Ten Plagues to play themselves out so that Moses could lead them to freedom”
Ibid., words in brackets mine
The Final Festivals of Israel
As I stated, this day at the beginning of the month of Tishri was the day when the seventh trump (or the last trump) was sounded to introduce the final month when the festivals of God ordained at the time of Moses would be held. This last trump is mentioned by the apostle Paul as heralding the events associated with the Second Advent of Christ back to this earth (1 Corinthians 15:52 and 1 Thessalonians 4:16–17). This last or final trump is also mentioned by the apostle John in Revelation 11:15 as the warning sound that the Kingdom of God will soon be coming to earth. And soon after, the seven angels of the Book of Revelation will bring on the seven last plagues (in the same fashion as the Jewish analyzers of chronology saw that from the same day of Rosh Ha-Shanah the Ten Plagues were sent forth on Egypt in the time of Moses).
What is certain is the fact that the Book of Revelation (with its teaching that Jesus was born on the Day of Trumpets) is giving us in a symbolic way the time for the nativity of Jesus whom Christians considered to be the king of the world. He was prophesied to lead all people into a time of freedom and profound peace. This is the central reason why the apostle John in Revelation 12:1–5 shows that the birth of Jesus occurred within the first few minutes (the twilight period) of the Day of Trumpets that works out to be September 11th in 3 A.D..
The suggestion was made in the last chapter that the Magi presented their gifts to Jesus on December 25, 2 B.C.E. This was not, however, the time of his birth. When the Magi arrived, Joseph and Mary were no longer in a stable with Jesus. They were now residing in a house (Matthew 2:11). Jesus had been circumcised (Luke 2:21) and dedicated at the temple some forty days after his birth (Luke 2:22–24). He was then being called a paidion (toddler) and no longer a brephos (infant). When the Magi arrived, Jesus was already walking and was able to speak a few words as most normal children would be able to do when several months old. Soon after the Magi left, Herod killed the male children in and around Bethlehem who were two years of age or younger (Matthew 2:16). This does not mean Jesus was exactly two years old at the time. The fact that all children two years and under were slain shows that Herod was taking every possible interpretation of the Magi into account for the time of Jesus’ birth.
Since it was not clear in astrological interpretation whether the appearance of a star or planet signified the conception or the birth of a baby, Herod decided to kill the children born within a two-year period in order to cover both possibilities. When all these evidences are considered, it shows that Jesus was certainly a few months old when the Magi presented their gifts.
There is biblical information which could go a long way in helping us understand the general time period for Jesus’ birth. Luke gave more chronological data regarding the birth and ministry of Jesus than any other biblical writer. In doing this, Luke began his story with John the Baptist. He gave some chronological indications as to the time of John’s conception and birth. Though his statements are general, they are plain enough to indicate the approximate time of John’s birth, and consequently that of Jesus himself. This chronological information is found in Luke’s first chapter. Note what Luke said,
“There was in the days of Herod, the king of Judaea, a certain priest named Zechariah, of the course Abijah and his wife was of the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elizabeth.”
This verse tells us something about the parents of John the Baptist. Zechariah was a priest whose duty it was, on certain occasions, to offer the national sacrifices in the temple at Jerusalem. While he was accomplishing his assigned requirements, Luke said an angel came to him and told him that his wife Elizabeth would bear a child. Zechariah could hardly believe what he was told because Elizabeth was beyond the age of childbearing. The angel understood his reason for disbelief; so, Zechariah was struck dumb to prove the certainty of what was prophesied. When Zechariah came out of the inner temple, the people perceived that he had seen a vision and were amazed that he was unable to speak. They realized that something significant had been pointed out to Zechariah.
Luke tells us that all this happened while Zechariah “executed the priest’s office before God in the order of his course” (Luke 1:8). He was performing his priestly duties “according to the custom of the priest’s office” (Luke 1:9). Zechariah’s course was that of Abijah (KJV: Abia) (Luke 1:5). What was this course, and when did it serve?
The Twenty-Four Priestly Courses
There were twenty-four priestly courses that administered the services in the temple. These are enumerated in 1 Chronicles chapter 24. Each course had a title associated with it. These were the names of the leaders who headed each course in the time of David. Samuel and David were the persons responsible for establishing the twenty-four courses of priests (1 Chronicles 9:22). Originally in the time of Moses the priesthood was confined only to Aaron and his immediate sons. But by the time of Samuel and David, that family had grown to such proportions that they could not all officiate together at one time in the temple. That is why Samuel and David divided the priests into twenty-four separate groups, which were called “orders” or “courses.” The course in which Zechariah served was the eighth, that of Abijah (1 Chronicles 24:10). Josephus, the Jewish historian, was also a priest and he mentioned that he was a member of the first course called that of Jehoiarib.
The original twenty-four priestly families established by David performed their services in the temple until the Babylonians destroyed the sanctuary in the 6th century B.C.E. When the Jews returned to Palestine, they rebuilt the temple, but they discovered that representatives of only four courses of the original twenty-four were still accounted for (Ezra 2:36–39). Something had to be done to restore the twenty-four courses to their ordained service in the temple as commanded by David. Under the authority of Ezra, the remaining four were divided back into the former number. Thus, a new set of twenty-four courses commenced their administrations in the temple. And though these family courses were different from the ones established by David, it was decided that each course was to retain the name of the family which headed each course back in David’s time. The re-establishment of these twenty-four courses was accepted as proper by the New Testament authorities, because John the Baptist’s father was reckoned to be of this new arrangement. The twenty-four elders mentioned in the Book of Revelation also reflected this new arrangement.
The Twenty-Four Courses Were Calendar Indications
These twenty-four courses were ordered by Samuel and David (and later by Ezra the priest) to serve once a week in the temple services at two different times each year. The first family of priests commenced their administrations at noon on a Sabbath (Saturday) and they were relieved of duty the following Sabbath at noon. The Bible said they “were to come in on the sabbath,” and to serve until they “were to go out on the sabbath” (2 Chronicles 23:8; 2 Kings 11:5). The second course then began its service in the second week; the third course the third week, etc.
Since each course administered for one week, it follows that there was a twenty-four week period for each of the courses to have its chance of serving. This occupied a span of about six months. When this was accomplished, the series started all over again. In a period of forty-eight weeks, each course would have served for two weeks ― with each session being separated from the other by about six months. There are just over fifty-two weeks in each Solar Year. The Jewish calendar, on the other hand, is a Lunar-Solar one. In ordinary years it only has about fifty-one weeks. At particular intervals the Jewish authorities had to add an extra month of thirty days to keep it in season with the motions of the Sun. In a nineteen-year period, seven extra months were usually added. But, as said before, all normal years with the Jews had about fifty-one weeks. The priests served in their courses for forty-eight of those weeks. This means that there were three weeks in the year which were not reckoned in the accounting. What happened with those three weeks? David provided the answer back in his day.
The Courses Served Together at the Three Festival Seasons
Since there were three major holy seasons on the Jewish calendar (Passover, Pentecost and Tabernacles), and since at those times there were great crowds at Jerusalem, David ordained that all twenty-four courses were to serve together for the week of Passover, the week when Pentecost occurred, and the week of Tabernacles. “For all the priests that were present [at Tabernacles] did not then wait by course” (2 Chronicles 5:11). At Tabernacles (and also Passover and Pentecost) the priestly courses were suspended ― they “did not then wait by course.” In actual fact, all the courses of priests served together during those three holy seasons. But in all other normal weeks, the various courses were doing their assigned work at the temple. In the case of Zechariah (the father of John the Baptist), Luke said he was officiating in his regular office (the eighth course, or the eighth week) when the angel said his wife Elizabeth was to have a child.
This is a chronological clue. Luke meant it that way. He was showing his readers the general time of year that Zechariah was serving. We know that Zechariah was not serving at a festival period because the priests “did not then wait by course.” Also it was either in the first half of the year when the course of Abijah served, or it was during the second half. Let us look at this course of Abijah, because we can know the approximate times when it served in the temple.
The Chronology of the Twenty-four Courses
It is perfectly reasonable that the priestly courses started their serving with the springtime month of Nisan ― the first month of the Jewish ecclesiastical year. This was the customary time ordained in the Bible when priests began their administrations (Exodus 40:1–38). David arranged the twenty-four courses of the priests to coincide with the time when each of the twelve tribes of Israel had their representatives helping in the temple service. Each of the twelve tribes administered a whole month. They “came in and went out month by month throughout all the months of the year ... the first course for the first month” (1 Chronicles 27:1–2). The first month for temple services was Nisan. The first month-long course of the twelve tribes started at the beginning of that springtime month. This must also have been the first month for the priests.
The twenty-four priestly courses, however, lasted only for one week (from Sabbath to Sabbath). Their courses started with the Sabbath just before the beginning of Nisan in order for the priests to be on duty to perform their regular ceremonials on Nisan One. The same procedure was also followed for their second yearly tenure commencing six months later on Tishri One. There is even in the New Testament a reference to this second yearly tenure which commenced six months after the first. In Luke 6:1 in some manuscripts we read what appears to be a strange statement (at least it is strange to some scholars). It says that the Sabbath day on which Jesus excused his disciples for picking grain was the “second-first” Sabbath. Many manuscripts and in the writings of several early fathers of Christendom, they state this event was performed on the “second-first Sabbath.” This must be a true reading of the original text and its supposed oddity is what helps to explain its meaning. What in the world was the “second-first Sabbath”? The answer is easy to determine. The truth is, the phrase was a regular calendar indication that all Jews in the time of the temple understood.
The answer is plain. Luke in using the phrase “second-first Sabbath” was simply following the regular order of the twenty-four courses of the priests because this chronological indication was a reference to their second cycle beginning with Tishri One and the disciples picked the grain on the first weekly Sabbath of that second yearly tenure. The next weekly Sabbath would have been called the second ― second Sabbath. Of course, during the week of Tabernacles all the twenty-four priests would have attended to the temple ceremonies together, but the next weekly Sabbath after Tabernacles, the routine would have continued and that weekly Sabbath would have been called the second-third Sabbath, the next Sabbath after that would have been the second-fourth Sabbath, etc., until the priests reached the “second-twenty-fourth Sabbath.” After that, the priests re-started the cycle once again with the first weekly Sabbath associated with the first day of Nisan of the next year. They would have called that first Sabbath the “first-first Sabbath,” the second would have been the “first-second Sabbath,” etc.
However, when weekly Sabbaths occurred inside the festival weeks of Passover, Pentecost and Tabernacles, those intervening Sabbaths (which were not counted in the two cycles each year) were called the “between Sabbaths,” and Luke even refers to one of those that occurred during the week of Pentecost. Note Acts 13:42 where the phrase “the next Sabbath” as found in the King James Version, really states from the Greek, “the between Sabbath.” This means that Luke in the New Testament was well aware of the twenty-four priestly courses and he knew the specifics concerning the weekly Sabbaths in which the twenty-four priestly courses changed their weekly tenures two times a year (separated by a six month period). These indications by Luke are calendar references and they give us important clues to help us understand some New Testament chronological facts.
Before we look at the chronological indications of the priestly courses to determine the time of the year John the Baptist was born (and consequently the nativity period for Jesus), let us find the proper year for Jesus’ birth. We can then know what year to apply the chronological clues within the cycle of priestly courses for the month of John the Baptist’s birth, and also that of Jesus. The year for the birth of Jesus is not difficult to determine if we allow all of the biblical and historical information to be used in our appraisal. What was the precise year of Jesus’ birth?
Was Jesus Born in 3 or 2 B.C.E?
If the simple chronological statements of Luke are accepted, the nativity of Jesus must be placed in 3 or 2 B.C.E. The historical evidences I have presented support this conclusion. However, there is a problem that is not solved by Luke’s narrative alone. He said that Jesus began His ministry in Tiberius’ 15th year when He was “about 30 years of age.” I will show in a moment what Luke meant by the phrase about 30 years of age. But for now, let us note that Luke does not inform us whether Jesus was “about 30” near the beginning, the middle or near the end of Tiberius 15. Further, we are not told whether it was the Roman method of reckoning Tiberius’ 15th year, or that which people in Judaea and Syria were accustomed to, which antedated the reign of kings and emperors to Tishri One of the previous year.
In spite of this, it will not be difficult to determine that Luke was using the ordinary method of dating Tiberius’ 15th year as was common among easterners in the Empire. This is an important thing to understand in identifying the Star of Bethlehem. This is because we must know the year in which Jesus was born to see if the celestial pageantry of 3 to 2 B.C.E. would fit the chronological indications in the New Testament. Indeed, it fits remarkably well. The method of reckoning the 15th year of Tiberius is an interesting one, but very understandable and consistent. It simply means that in the eastern part of the Empire, the whole of the year in which Tiberius became emperor of Rome (August 19, 14 C.E.) is awarded to Tiberius as his first year. It means that New Year’s Day for the beginning of that year begins the first year of Tiberius. This would have been on Tishri One (the first day of Tishri) in the year in which Tiberius came to rulership. Thus, the whole first year was from Tishri One in C.E. 13 to Tishri One in C.E. 14. Consequently, Tiberius’ 15th year would have been from Tishri One in C.E. 27 to Tishri One in C.E. 28. I will have more information showing this matter in a later chapter.
Jesus Was Born in the Year 3 B.C.E.
If Jesus was about 30 years old near the commencement of the emperor’s 15th year (as reckoned by people in the east), then His birth was in 3 B.C.E. Recall that Luke tells us that Jesus was born at the time of a Roman census or enrollment. If we can determine the period of that registration, this will help to pinpoint the year of the nativity. This is where the new historical information I have posted here becomes essential. We now know that an Empire-wide citizen registration took place for the award of the Pater Patriae upon Augustus in early 2 B.C.E. This was the census Luke meant. I will give a full account of this registration (a census) in a further chapter of this book titled “The Census of Quirinius” (Chapter 12). But let me briefly rehearse some of the evidence that shows when the census mentioned in the New Testament took place.
The Census of Quirinius
This registration took place in 3 B.C.E. Lewin points out that Augustus was already being called the Pater Patriae on one or two inscriptions by 3 B.C.E. In late 3 B.C.E. he was offered the title by a deputation of people who met him at Antium though he refused it until the Senate bestowed it upon him on February 5, 2 B.C.E. (the Day of Concord). This is good evidence that “all the Roman people” must have started to give him this most prestigious title sometime in 3 B.C.E. And interestingly, our historical reconstruction shows that an oath of obedience to Augustus was demanded of all people in Judaea in 3 B.C.E. This oath would have been required of Joseph and Mary.
More than that, a Paphlagonian inscription shows that an oath of obedience was required of all Roman citizens and non-citizens in exactly the same year, in 3 B.C.E. Moses of Khorene, the early Armenian historian, quoted sources which related that the census mentioned by Luke was also administered by Roman agents in Armenia (a neighbor country to Paphlagonia) in 3 B.C.E. and the wording of Moses of Khorene about the event was very similar to that of the Paphlagonian inscription. Orosius in the 5th century also said that in 3 B.C.E. an oath/census was commanded of all nations at the time Augustus was honored as “the first of all men” ― an appropriate description of the title Pater Patriae. Remarkably, Orosius said this was the Empire-wide census mentioned by Luke in his Gospel.
This information strongly suggests that the census which brought Joseph and Mary to Bethlehem was conducted in the summer or early autumn of 3 B.C.E. A census by the Romans would hardly have been ordered in very early spring or late autumn — and certainly not in winter when the rainy season was in evidence. Ramsay expressed confidence that the normal time for Roman censuses was from August to October. Thus, the latter part of 3 B.C.E. makes sense.
The Birth of John the Baptist
Let us now return to consider the chronology of the priestly courses. This will help us arrive at a general period for the birth of John, and also of Jesus because John was born about six months before Jesus (Luke 1:36). This would indicate that the conception of John as well as that of Jesus was most probably in 4 B.C.E. Luke mentioned that Zechariah was serving at his regular time of administration during the week when the eighth course of Abijah served. This course had duty two times each year, once in late spring and again in late autumn. Look at the spring session.
We must find out when the first day of Nisan occurred in 4 B.C.E. This is not a simple task in some years. Since the calendar of the Jews in the 1st century was dependent upon the state of the crops around Jerusalem (in order that certain ritualistic duties could then be performed regarding the first fruits), it was necessary for the priests to observe the ripeness of the barley before they would allow any ecclesiastical year to begin. If twelve lunar months had passed from the beginning of the previous year, it was the normal custom to start the next year with the thirteenth month — which, of course, would have been reckoned as Nisan, the first month of the new year. But if the barley was not yet ripe enough, the priests often postponed the start of the year for one month.
Thankfully, in 4 B.C.E. this agricultural requirement is no problem. The month of Nisan began on March 29. That is always late enough in the year to allow no quibbling over the state of the crops. This date was also Nisan 1 on the Babylonian calendar. However, a
“new moon was visible at Jerusalem thirty-seven minutes before it was visible at Babylon and therefore upon occasion the new month could begin a day earlier in Jerusalem.”
In the year 4 B.C.E. this factor was a definite possibility. But in this reckoning, I will follow the date given by Parker and Dubberstein (the noted authorities regarding the calendars of the Babylonians and the Jews in this period). Yet even if Nisan 1 were a day earlier in Jerusalem it is of no consequence to our present question. Recall, also, that when we say Nisan 1 was March 29, it must be understood that the day actually commenced the previous evening at sundown on March 28 because all Jewish days start at sundown.
To illustrate how this information can help us arrive at the approximate time of John the Baptist’s birth, understand that the first of Nisan in 4 B.C.E. was March 29. The priestly courses began their administrations on the Sabbath near the first of Nisan. And while there was a belief among some of the Dead Sea sects that the duties of the first course started on Nisan 12, the people of Qumran were out of the mainstream of Jewish thought. This reference need not be taken as reflecting normal Jewish practice. But even if it were, there would be only a two-week discrepancy, and this is not enough to seriously upset the general chronological indications associated with the course of Abijah to which we are referring. The main Jewish custom, however, had the first priestly course commencing its duty on the Sabbath before Nisan 1. The Sabbath just prior to March 29 was March 24. This indicates that the week of service for the course of Jehoiarib (the first course) was from Sabbath noon, March 24 to Sabbath noon, March 31. The second course began March 31 and served to April 7. The third course started April 7 (but its week was interrupted by the period of Passover when all priests officiated together). This caused the third course not to end its administration until the Sabbath after Passover, April 21. Then the weekly courses started once again in their regular order of service.
The Eighth Course of Abijah
The period for the eighth course of Abijah would have been from May 19 to May 26. If it were in this springtime administration when the angelic messenger came to Zechariah about his wife having a child, then we have a chronological hint of the period for John the Baptist’s conception — because it must have happened immediately after that time. Indeed, because Zechariah was struck dumb during his administration, he was disqualified at once from exercising the priest’s office (Leviticus 21:16–23). He no doubt left very soon for home. Thus, somewhere near May 26 to June 1, Elizabeth must have conceived. The human gestation period is about 280 days ― nine months and ten days. This shows the birth of John the Baptist near March 10, 3 B.C.E.
The Birth of Jesus
Let us now look at the birth of Jesus. From what we have observed about the approximate time of John’s birth, it should be easy to compute that of Jesus. Luke said that Jesus was conceived sometime in the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy (Luke 1:26, 36). Five full months had passed and Elizabeth was then in her sixth month. Since John the Baptist was probably born some time around March 10, 3 B.C.E., Jesus’ birth would be near September in 3 B.C.E. We will soon see from other astronomical data that this is the only year that will satisfy all the facts. It must be admitted that it is impossible to arrive at an exact birthday for either John or Jesus based on the priestly courses, yet the information provided by Luke helps us to pick the approximate periods with some confidence. Two or three weeks each way would be the outside limit.
There is, however, a possibility that Luke was referring to Zechariah’s late autumn session in the temple instead of the springtime one. If so, we would have a six-month displacement for the time of John’s and Jesus’ births. John would then have been born near the middle of September and Jesus would have been born early the following March. Yet, there are reasons for not accepting this. Luke said that Jesus was born at a time when his parents went to Bethlehem in response to Caesar’s command for a census. Ramsay showed that considerable confidence can be placed in the belief that the general time of the year for the start of a census was from August to October. The September period for Jesus’ birth we are suggesting fits this well. There are also other reasons.
A late summer or early autumn date for Jesus’ birth has also been suggested because Luke said the shepherds were tending their flocks at night at his nativity (Luke 2:8). Many have believed this precludes a wintertime birth (either early winter on December 25th or a late winter in early March) because it would have been too cold for the flocks to be out in the open at that time. But this evidence is very problematic. In exceptionally cold winters this may have been the case, but in mild winters sheep are often out of doors in Palestine all night. Since no one knows what kind of weather there was in Palestine the year of Jesus birth (either severe or mild), this factor can be of no chronological value.
Some have thought that Jesus was born at the period of the Jewish Feast of Tabernacles because John in his Gospel said that he “tabernacled [Greek] among us” (John 1:14). Tabernacles in the year 3 B.C.E. was from September 26 to October 3 B.C.E. But Jesus′ birth at this time is not possible. Actually, there is clear proof that Jesus’ birth could not have been at any of the three holy periods of Passover, Pentecost or Tabernacles. These were times when all Jewish men were required by biblical law to be in Jerusalem (Deuteronomy 16:6, 11, 16). Yet Luke tells us that during the time of Jesus’ nativity “everyone went into his own city” (Luke 2:3). Besides, the Romans would not have selected the three primary festival seasons for a census when most of the Jews in Palestine were required to be in Jerusalem.
The reason there was no room at the inn was not because the people were crowding into the Jerusalem area for ceremonial purposes, but, as Luke tells us, they were there to be registered for the census. Also, since our new history shows that the census and the oath of allegiance to Augustus (for his award of the Pater Patriae) were one and the same, it then makes sense that even Mary who was in biblical law able to bear a king of the Jews would also be expected to swear that she and her offspring would remain loyal to the existing government. And this census no doubt occurred in the latter part of 3 B.C.E. (as I will show in detail), not in the late winter or early spring of 3 B.C.E.
There is another reason for placing Jesus’ birth in September, and it is a powerful one. This is because the New Testament itself gives a precise chronological sign that identifies the exact day Jesus was born (and within a period of an hour and a half on that day). It is now time to look at this New Testament indication.
An Exact Date Can Be Picked
There are only three places in the New Testament that record events connected with the birth of Jesus. They are in Matthew’s Gospel, Luke’s Gospel and chapter twelve of the Book of Revelation. This latter book has some information about Jesus’ birth that should be considered, though it must be admitted that all data in the Book of Revelation are highly symbolic. Yet the figurative nature of the book may contain the very clue we need to precisely date the birth of Jesus.
People of the 1st century were very prone to use astronomical signs as having bearing on historical and religious events. They were especially important regarding the births of eminent people, and kings in particular. Because of this, the section about Jesus’ birth in the Book of Revelation may have been significantly related to particular heavenly signs that Jesus had formerly told his disciples to be aware of (Luke 21:11). Let us look at Revelation 12:1–5. It gives us precise indications as to the hour and the day that Jesus was born. This section should be read carefully.
“And there was a great wonder [sign] in heaven; a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars: and she being with child cried, travailing in birth, and pained to be delivered. And there appeared another wonder [sign] in heaven; and behold a great red dragon, having seven heads and ten horns, and seven crowns upon his head. And his tail drew the third part of the stars of heaven, and did cast them to the earth: and the dragon stood before the woman which was ready to be delivered, for to devour her child as soon as it was born. And she brought forth a man child, who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron.”
The scene just described is symbolic. Certainly, this could hardly be a description of the virgin Mary. This “woman” had the heavens associated with her — the Sun, Moon and the Twelve Stars. John said that the display was a wonder (a sign) and that it was “in heaven.” What did he mean by the phrase “in heaven”?
The Bible speaks of three “heavens.” The first is the heaven in which the birds fly and all weather phenomena occur (Jeremiah 4:25; 1 Kings 18:45). The second is that of the Sun, Moon, planets and stars (Genesis 1:17). The third heaven is that where God lives (2 Corinthians 12:2). Which of these heavens is meant?
People of the 1st century would have had no difficulty in interpreting the proper “heaven” that was intended by the apostle John. The Sun, Moon, and stars are not located in our atmosphere where the birds and the clouds exist. They are also not found in the heaven where God has His abode because John himself tells us that the Sun or Moon are not needed in that region (Revelation 21:23). The only “heaven” that is reasonable is that where the Sun, Moon and the Twelve Stars are located. The Book of Genesis revealed that the celestial bodies were made by God to give signs (Genesis 1:14). Jewish opinion included among these “signs” the astronomical associations between the Sun, Moon, planets, stars and constellations. There can hardly be a doubt that such astronomical “signs” as these are referred to in the Book of Revelation. With these points in mind, we may have some interesting clues that will provide us with the exact time of Jesus’ birth.
Astronomy and the Birth of Jesus
The essential factor in interpreting the symbol of Revelation 12:1–5 is the identification of the woman. What is John signifying by mentioning her? This much is certain: the woman in the first three verses is featured as being in heaven and both the Sun and the Moon are in association with her. After the dragon casts down a third of the stars of heaven (Revelation 12:4), the woman is then found on earth (verses 6 and 14). But the important factor is the birth of the man-child and the Woman’s relationship with the heavenly signs while she is symbolically in heaven. (The first three verses of Revelation 12 shows the Sun clothing her, the Moon under her feet and the Twelve Stars on her head).
The “birth” of the Messiah is associated with this heavenly spectacle. Since some noted heavenly bodies are a part of the picture, it could well be that John intended the woman to represent a constellation that the two primary luminaries transverse, and that she was a part of the zodiacal system which gives headship to the signs (the Twelve Stars were a “crown” upon her head). Recall that interpreting astronomical signs dominated the thinking of most people in the 1st century, whether the people were Jews or Gentiles. Indeed, the word “sign” used by the author of the Book of Revelation to describe this celestial display was the same one used by the ancients to denote the zodiacal constellations.
This is made clearer when one looks closely at the text. Since the Sun and Moon are amidst or in line with the body of this woman, she could be, in a symbolic way, a constellation located within the normal paths of the Sun and Moon. The only sign of a woman which exists along the ecliptic (the track of the Sun in its journey through the stars) is that of Virgo the Virgin. She occupies, in body form, a space of about 50 degrees along the ecliptic. The head of the woman actually bridges some 10 degrees into the previous sign of Leo and her feet overlap about 10 degrees into the following sign of Libra, the Scales. In the period of Jesus’ birth, the Sun entered in its annual course through the heavens into the head position of the woman about August 13, and exited from her feet about October 2. But the apostle John saw the scene when the Sun was “clothing” or “adorning” the woman. This surely indicates that the position of the Sun in the vision was located somewhere mid-bodied to the woman, between the neck and the knees. The Sun could hardly be said to clothe her if it were situated in her face or near her feet.
The Sun Clothed the Woman
The only time in the year that the Sun could be in a position to “clothe” the celestial woman called Virgo (that is, to be mid-bodied to her, in the region where a pregnant woman carries a child) is when the Sun is located between about 150 and 170 degrees along the ecliptic. This “clothing” of the woman by the Sun occurs for a 20-day period each year. This 20 degree spread could indicate the general time when Jesus was born. In 3 B.C.E., the Sun would have entered this celestial region about August 27 and exited from it about September 15. If John in the Book of Revelation is associating the birth of Jesus with the period when the Sun was mid-bodied to this woman called Virgo (and this is no doubt what he means), then Jesus would have to be born within that 20-day period. From the point of view of the Magi who were astrologers, this would have been the only logical sign under which the Jewish Messiah might be born, especially if He was to be born of a virgin. Even today, astrologers recognize that the sign of Virgo is the one which has reference to a messianic world ruler to be born from a virgin.
This heavenly woman called Virgo is normally depicted as a virgin holding in her right hand a green branch and in her left hand a sprig of grain. In the Hebrew Zodiac, she at first (in the time of David) denoted Ruth who was gleaning in the fields of Boaz. She then later became the Virgin when the prophecy of Isaiah 7:14 was given in the time of King Hezekiah and the prophet Isaiah. This Virgin held in her left hand a sprig of grain. This was precisely where the bright star called Spica is found. Indeed, the chief star of the constellation Virgo is Spica.
Bullinger, in his book The Witness of the Stars (pp. 29–34), said that the word “Spica” has, through the Arabic, the meaning “the branch” and that it symbolically refers to Jesus who was prophetically called “the Branch” in Zechariah 3:8 and 6:12. And Bullinger (and Seiss in his book The Gospel in the Stars) maintains that this sign of Virgo designates the heavenly witness for the birth of the Messiah (Jesus). They say that Virgo should actually begin the zodiacal signs which give the story of the Messiah. This may be. The apostle John may have given the same indication as far as the first full sign of the zodiac is concerned. He depicted the woman of Revelation as having a crown of Twelve Stars on her head.
This could well show that the woman (Virgo) is the constellation of headship for all the twelve signs. The “head” position of Virgo is located within the last ten degrees of Leo. It was in this very region where the story of the career of the Messiah would begin that Bullinger and Seiss referred to. Thus, the story of Jesus and his mission on earth, as related by these heavenly symbols, should logically begin with his birth from a virgin and conclude with him being crowned king in the final sign of Leo the Lion (with its chief star being Regulus ― the King star). This is no doubt what the apostle John was trying to show through the symbols found in Revelation 12.
The birth of this child in Revelation 12 (whom John identified with Jesus) should have occurred while the Sun was “clothing” the woman, when the Sun was mid-bodied to Virgo. This period of time in 3 B.C.E. covered 20 days (August 27 to September 15). If Jesus were born within that 20-day period, it would fit most remarkably with the testimony of Luke (relative to the birth of John the Baptist and the eighth course of Abijah). Indeed, the chronological indications associated with the priestly course of Abijah place Jesus’ birth exactly within this period. But there is a way to arrive at a much closer time for Jesus’ birth than a simple 20-day period. The position of the Moon in John’s vision actually pinpoints the nativity to within a day ― even to within a period of an hour and a half (within 90 minutes) on that day. This may appear an absurd assessment on the surface, but it is quite possible.
The key is the Moon. The apostle said it was located “under her feet.” What does the word “under” signify in this case? Does it mean the woman of the vision was standing on the Moon when John observed it or does it mean her feet were positioned slightly above the Moon? John does not tell us. This, however, is not of major consequence in using the location of the Moon to answer our question because it would only involve the difference of a degree or two. The Moon travels about 12 degrees a day in its course through the heavens. This motion of one or two degrees by the Moon represents on earth a period of only two to four hours. This difference is no problem in determining the time of Jesus’ birth. What is vital, however, is that this shows the Moon as a New Moon.
The Precise Position of the Moon is Important
Now note this point. Since the feet of Virgo the Virgin represent the last 7 degrees of the constellation (in the time of Jesus this would have been between about 180 and 187 degrees along the ecliptic), the Moon has to be positioned somewhere under that 7 degree arc to satisfy the description of Revelation 12. But the Moon also has to be in that exact location when the Sun is mid-bodied to Virgo. In the year 3 B.C.E., these two factors came to precise agreement for about an hour and a half, as observed from Palestine or Patmos, in the twilight period of September 11th The relationship began about 6:15 p.m. (sunset), and lasted until around 7:45 p.m. (moonset). This is the only day in the whole year that the astronomical phenomenon described in the twelfth chapter of Revelation could take place.
This also shows one other important point. The Moon was in crescent phase. It was a New Moon day, the start of a new lunar month. (See plates one and two below which show early depictions of the celestial scene of Revelation 12:1–3 and how the Moon is shown to be in its crescent phase.)
Modern Man and Astronomical Motions
While ordinary people in modern times who are not professional astronomers have little knowledge of the solar, lunar, planetary and stellar motions, the people from the 1st century up to the Industrial Revolution were well accustomed to them. Even people of little education were generally knowledgeable of the main motions of the astronomical bodies — even more than most college-educated people today. When anyone of early times read Revelation 12:1–3, an astronomical relationship was realized at once. There was no doubt that a New Moon display was being shown to them. And when the woman of the sign was interpreted as Virgo the Virgin, and with the Sun mid-bodied to the Virgin, they clearly saw a New Moon day occurring sometime in late summer.
The apostle John said this heavenly relationship occurred at the time of Jesus’ birth. And in 3 B.C.E. this exact combination of celestial factors happened just after sunset only on one day of the year. It was on September 11th. It could not have occurred at any other time of the year. Indeed, even one day before ― on September 10 ― the Moon would have been located above the Virgin’s feet with the crescent not visible, while one day farther ― on September 12 ― the Moon had moved too far beyond the feet of the Virgin, at least 25 diameters of the Moon east of her feet. Thus, only one day applies. That day was just after sunset on September 11th, 3 B.C.E.
The Exact Day of Jesus’ Birth
The apostle John is presenting to his readers something of profound significance in a symbolic way. Revelation 12:1–3 shows a New Moon day that could only be observed from earth just after sunset, and the day was September 11th. This fits well with Luke’s description of the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem. Recall that,
“there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over the flock by night ... and the angel said ... unto you is born this day [which began at sundown] in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord.”
Jesus was born in early evening, and Revelation 12 shows it was a New Moon day.
What New Moon could this have been? The answer is most amazing. It is almost too amazing! September 11, 3 B.C.E. was Tishri One on the Jewish calendar. To Jewish people this would have been a very profound occasion indeed. Tishri One is none other than the Jewish New Year’s day (Rosh ha-Shanah, or as the Bible calls it, The Day of Trumpets ― Leviticus 23:23–26). It was an important annual holy day of the Jews (but not one of the three annual festivals that required all Palestinian Jews to be in Jerusalem).
What a significant day for the appearance of the Messiah to arrive on earth from the Jewish point of view! And remarkably, no other day of the year could astronomically fit Revelation 12:1–3. The apostle John is certainly showing forth an astronomical sign which answers precisely with the Jewish New Year Day. John would have realized the significance of this astronomical scene that he was describing.
Whatever the case, the historical evidence supports the nativity of Jesus in 3 B.C.E., at the beginning of a Roman census, and (if we use the astronomical indications of the Book of Revelation) his birth would have occurred just after sundown on September 11th, on Rosh ha-Shanah, the Day of Trumpets — the Jewish New Year Day for governmental affairs. There could hardly have been a better day in the ecclesiastical calendar of the Jews to introduce the Messiah to the world from a Jewish point of view; and no doubt this is what the apostle John clearly intended to show by the sign he recorded in Revelation 12.
Why is all of this relevant to me? Because Jesus fulfilled certain feasts during his life and Rosh Hashanah has a dual fulfillment. The first being Jesus' birth and the second could possibly be His return amongst other things, the feast of trumpets was the day the "door to heaven" was opened...Also it was the opening of the books of judgement...