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Can We Know the Actual Date of Christ's Birth?

OAKLAND, Calif., Dec. 1 /PRNewswire/ -- The newly released book "Time Has An End," by author Harold Camping uncovers many of God's sacred mysteries that have been hidden for centuries in the Bible - questions such as "Can we really know the actual date of Christ's Birth?"

A careful study of the Bible gives us far more information concerning the date of Christ's birth than has ever been realized. Because the Bible is God's Word, the information given in the Bible is absolutely trustworthy.

It should be kept in mind, as we review the following information regarding the date of Christ's birth, that God is a God of order and exactness! His master plan for the world has, and will be, fulfilled according to His precise timing! We read in Lamentations 2:17: "The LORD hath done that which he had devised; he hath fulfilled his Word that he had commanded in the days of old." And Jesus said in Matthew 5:17,18: "Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled."

The Year of His Birth

In Matthew 2, the Bible describes a meeting of the Magi (possibly religious rulers of Persia) who came to Jerusalem to pay homage to a newborn king of Israel. They report that about two years earlier, they had seen a miraculous star (Matthew 2:16). We know that this star was miraculous because it appeared again to these Magi, or wise men, as they journeyed to Bethlehem after their meeting in Jerusalem with King Herod (Matthew 2:9,10). This star moved before them until it stood over the house in which Jesus lived with his mother Mary and stepfather Joseph (Matthew 2:9-11). A star that was more than a few hundred feet in the sky would not stand above a particular house. It had to be a special, miraculous star that was unrelated to any celestial activity such as comets, alignment of the planets, eclipse, etc.

Religious leaders of Persia would have had access to the religious books of Israel and would have knowledge of the various prophesies, because, in the year 587 B.C., the Babylonian nation plundered Jerusalem, the holy city of Israel. Then, in the year 539 B.C., the Media-Persian Kingdom conquered Babylon. The religious library of Israel would have passed from Jerusalem to Babylon, and from Babylon to Persia.

Returning to the meeting of King Herod with the Magi: a consequence of this visit, we learn, was that King Herod, who was an extremely jealous, wicked king, committed a most despicable act. In an attempt to kill the infant Jesus, Herod ordered that many of the children of Bethlehem were to be killed. All of the infants "two years old and under, according to the time which he had diligently inquired of the wise men" (Matthew 2:16), were to be killed. This phrase, "according to the time ...," assures us of the high probability that Jesus was born about two years earlier than the time of this meeting.

The Bible records that immediately after the Magi paid homage to the infant Jesus, Joseph and Mary were warned to flee to Egypt to escape the plot of Herod to kill Jesus (Matthew 2:13). Early historians and theologians such as Origen (A.D. 185-253), Eusibius (A.D. 325) and Epiphanius (A.D. 315-403), have written that Jesus was two years of age when the wise men came, and He was taken to Egypt to escape Herod's plan to have Him killed (Jack Finegan, pp. 225-234 in Handbook of Biblical Chronology; Princeton University Press, 1964).

Thus, we have additional accounts of the probability that Jesus was born about two years earlier than the time of the meeting of the Magi with King Herod.

There exists considerable secular evidence that King Herod died in the spring of 4 B.C. Therefore, Jesus would have had to have been born no later than the spring of 6 B.C. - two years earlier than 4 B.C.

The Biblical information which we will next examine concerning the time of the year in which Jesus was born shows that He was born in the fall of the year. This points us to the high likelihood that Jesus was born in the fall of 7 B.C. This would have been about two years and six months before the death of King Herod.

A Jubilee Year - 7 B.C.

According to the Bible, every 50 years beginning with the year 1357 B.C. was to be a Jubilee year (Leviticus 25). 7 B.C. was a Jubilee year. The Jubilee year was the year when "liberty was to be proclaimed throughout the land" (Lev. 25:10). The Bible teaches that the liberty God had in view was liberty, or deliverance, from the penalty demanded by God's law, as payment for our sins. That penalty was paid by Jesus, who endured the wrath of God on behalf of all people He had come to save. Therefore, He is the very essence of the Jubilee. Thus, the year 7 B.C., which was a Jubilee year, fits perfectly as the likely year in which Jesus was born. (See "Time Has An End" by Harold Camping for other Biblical time references that point to 7 B.C. as the likely year of Christ's birth - pp. 315, 316; Vantage Press, 2005.)

The Month and The Day of His Birth

To know the probable month and day of Christ's birth, we must turn to the timing of the birth of a relative of Jesus named John the Baptist. The Bible teaches that John the Baptist was about five-and-a-half months older than Jesus.

The parents of John the Baptist were an aged couple. His father was a priest named Zacharias and his mother was Elizabeth, who was a cousin to Mary, the mother of Jesus (Luke 1:5,36). The Bible further indicates that, in the sixth month of the pregnancy of Elizabeth, the virgin Mary was told that she would become the mother of a miraculous Son who was to be called Jesus. The father of Jesus was not Joseph, to whom she was betrothed, but was to be God Himself (Luke 1:26-35).

Therefore, if we knew the date of the conception of John the Baptist, we would also know the probable date of the conception of Jesus, which would have been in the sixth month of Elizabeth's pregnancy, or about five-and-a-half months later than her pregnancy.

Indeed, the Bible discloses to us the probable date of the conception of John the Baptist. We read in Luke 1 of the Bible that the priest Zacharias was ministering in the temple when the angel came to him to inform him that, even though both he and his wife were very old (Luke 1:18), his wife would bear a son who was to be named John (Luke 1:13).

The crucial time information is the statement of Luke 1:5, where God discloses to us that Zacharias was of the course of Abia. The word Abia is the Greek form of the Hebrew word, Abijah.

From additional Bible information, we can know the exact time when the course of Abijah served in the temple. King David, on God's instructions, had divided the sons of Aaron into 24 courses (groups) to set up a schedule by which the Temple of the Lord could be staffed with priests all year round in an orderly manner (1 Chronicles 24:1-19). After the 24 courses of priests were established, lots were drawn to determine the sequence in which each group would serve in the Temple, so that each course would have been a half-month in duration. The Bible informs us that the eighth course was that of Abijah. This is the group to which Zacharias, the father of John the Baptist, belonged.

These 24 courses began on the first day of each new year. The Biblical year began with the month Abib (also called Nisan). The length of each month was the time from one new moon to the next new moon. In any year, the first new moon would occur sometime in the spring of the year. The precise date of the first new month in the Biblical Calendar in any year of the past or of the future can be calculated by the astronomical data. (See the Jewish calendar.)

So, if we look at the Jubilee year of 7 B.C., that we discovered earlier as the probable year that Jesus was born, and that He was about five-and-a- half months younger than John the Baptist, we can surmise that the likelihood is that John the Baptist would have been conceived in the year 8 B.C.

We can also know that the end of the fourth month, which also ended the service of the course of Abia, in the year 8 B.C. was July 5th. Therefore, allowing a week or two from the completion of the temple service by the priest Zacharias (Luke 1:23,24), the likelihood is that John the Baptist was conceived very close to July 15th, 8 B.C.

Thus, Christ probably would have been conceived about five-and-a-half months later, or very close to January 1, 7 B.C. Nine months later He would have been born, which means that His birth was very close to, if not on, October 1, 7 B.C.

Day of Atonement - October 1, 7 B.C.

An extremely interesting fact is that, in the year 7 B.C., October 1 was a very important day in God's calendar of history. October 1, 7 B.C., was the tenth day of the seventh month of the Biblical Calendar. According to Leviticus 25:9, the tenth day of the seventh month was the Day of Atonement. It was a day that focused on the work of Christ as He atoned, or paid for, the sins of all who would become saved. We read in Leviticus 25:10 that on the Day of Atonement, the trumpet (actually a ram's horn) of Jubilee was to be sounded, indicating the intimate relationship that existed between the Jubilee and the Day of Atonement. Thus, both the year 7 B.C. and the Day of Atonement identify very closely with the Jubilee.

Therefore, we dare to conclude that there is a high likelihood that Jesus, as the very essence of the Jubilee, was born in the year 7 B.C., a Jubilee year, and on the first day of October, which was the Day of Atonement in the year 7 B.C.

For additional information concerning the timing of Jesus' birth, please see "Time Has An End," pp. 309-316, by Harold Camping.

The book is published by Vantage Press (ISBN 0-533-15169-4), and is available at most of the major booksellers throughout the country as well as online, through the Internet, or through BookMasters at 1-800-BookLog (266-5564).

For more information, to set up an interview with Harold Camping, or to receive a copy of the book for review, contact:
 Harold Camping
 Phone: (800) 835-4810
 Write: "Time Has An End"
 c/o Family Stations, Inc.
 PO Box 2140
 Oakland, CA 94621-9985

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CONTACT: Harold Camping, Family Stations, Inc., +1-800-835-4810, E-mail:
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Date:Dec 1, 2005
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