It will interest readers to know that before it became possible to establish the true dating of what has been called the 'Passion Week' - that which we know God regards as the central week of all time and eternity - it was necessary for those conducting this research to be able to prove the exact course of calendar and astronomical time from the first day of Genesis through to the close of the 6,000 years in 1933. This involved the accurate measurement of time by both sun and moon, and also with sabbaths and weekdays in their true place throughout Biblical history. Apart from this, a calendar of 354-day (see Appendix 1 ) years was to be found running its course from Genesis onwards, which amazingly confirmed dated events in the Bible and brought to light their true meaning. Time designs, which could never before have been discovered, and which showed the hand of God operating behind the scenes throughout the Scriptures, kept on coming to light, giving rise to praise and worship as the perfect accuracy of Bible statements was confirmed, and the 'vision' of God's works enlarged.
The purpose of God in making this revelation was plainly to show that all His works were accomplished 'according to pattern.' Moses was told that he must 'make all things according to the pattern' which was shown to him on the Mount. (Hebrews 8:5)
So we needed to be shown that the 'week' or seven days of the first creation was the pattern of the 'week' of the 'new creation' in AD 33. This was why 'Jesus six days before the (Jews') Passover came to Bethany' (John 12:1), and we know that in the evening (3 pm) as those six days drew to their end, Jesus cried with a loud voice. 'He said: 'It is finished' and ... gave up His Spirit'.(John 19:30, NKJV) Through His death He had brought in 'a new creation', for He had put away the old.
But it was also necessary to see that God did not reckon the time when Jesus was in death - any more than time is ever reckoned to one who is dead! So, in this aspect of things, the glorious day of our Lord's resurrection fills the pattern of that seventh day of Genesis, which God 'blessed' and 'sanctified' (Genesis 2:3).
No wonder the side of Adam was opened in the evening of a sixth day, and that taken from it which was to form his bride. For the very name Eve means 'living' (Genesis 3:20), and of necessity we are carried on to the day of the resurrection to see the continuation of this pattern.
So much more than is generally understood transpired in the days surrounding our Lord's death and resurrection, (and, indeed, in those days which followed) that it was absolutely necessary for God to provide in His Word the means whereby the actual dates could be fully established. It will be appreciated that, where measurement is concerned, there must be a point from which to measure! This is what had been lacking in those innumerable attempts men had made to fix the year and date of the Crucifixion. They had not had an end from which to measure back! Neither, of course, had 'the pattern' itself been revealed.
So God required a real step of faith to be taken by the group of believers He had brought together to 'watch' through the years prior to 1933, as has been described briefly in our former pages. Everything depended, when the first step was taken in November 1932, on whether God would keep to 'the pattern' (in this case, the ordered stages by which the 'seven times', or 2,520 years, of Daniel chapter 4 was being fulfilled).
As soon as the light of God had shone on His use of the 'seventy times seven' (or 490-year) cycles, and we had been shown that these were years of 354 days each, the problem was solved. For the Holy Spirit had caused it to be declared that in June 1933 the sentence of Romans 11:22 would be carried out. This meant that, not God's 'goodness', but the absence of it,would mark the progression of things among the nations from 1933 onwards. It was clear, therefore, that 1933 was the initial ending of 'the times of the Gentiles.'
So the measurement of four times 'seventy weeks' (that is, 1,960 years) was made back to October 12th AD 33, which was found to be the first day of the Jewish seventh month. It was then seen that on October 11th, the one 'year' following the 'three years' Jesus referred to in Luke 13:7-8 had ended. These four years could only have commenced when 'Jesus began to be about thirty years of age'. (The Greek implies that He was actually thirty when He began to teach - Luke 3:23). Measuring thirty years of 354 days further back to their beginning in October, 1 BC , disclosed the fact that the day of the Saviour's birth in Bethlehem was the 15th of Israel's seventh month in that year, as the age of the moon revealed.
This confirmed what so many have instinctively known, that is, that Jesus was born at the opening of the Feast of Tabernacles. ( Most investigators had realised that His birth could never have been at the end of December!) In John 1:14, we find the statement: 'And the Word was made flesh, and (lit.) tabernacled among us', which accounts for the fact that His Nativity actually took place in a 'booth' (as the Hebrew word sukkah should more properly be translated in Leviticus 23: 34 etc). A 'booth', 'covering' or 'shelter' was the birthplace of the Son of God in this world - and this for a very vital reason in the sight of God, His Father, as we were presently to learn.
Jesus was God's 'Firstborn, higher than the kings of the earth' (Psalm 89: 27), but away back at the Exodus from Egypt, we hear God say to Moses: 'Israel is My son, My firstborn' (Exodus 4: 22). And the day that nation was 'born' was, of course, the day of their coming out of Egypt, following the Passover 'Midnight' (Exodus 12:29).
We alluded earlier to a calendar of 354-day years running from Genesis onwards, the measurement of which can be checked with the aid of the Appendices. It began on the day after 'the seventh day' or Sabbath, which God 'blessed' and 'sanctified' (Genesis 2:3). From this beginning 2,513 years (of 354 days) 6 months and 14 days can be traced up to the day of the Passover, when Israel, God's 'Firstborn', was 'let go' from death at the hands of the destroying angel. On the night of the 15th the people encamped at a place called 'Succoth'(Exodus 12:37) and sheltered in 'booths' - see Leviticus 23:39-43, where it is plainly shown that the Exodus was in 'the seventh month.' Now we know from Exodus 12:2 that God made that 'seventh month' to become 'the beginning of months' and said, 'it shall be the first month of the year to you.'
In order to fulfil His purposes, the original 7th month must also be the 1st month, and it was called 'Abib' which means 'sprouting,'
Those who revere God will know that He had a reason behind this change in time at the Exodus and that it must have been related also to Jesus, His Firstborn Son.
So, when it was discovered that the Bible's time records proved that the Exodus took place in the year 1639 BC (see the Appendices 3 & 4) a careful measurement was made through to the day of our Lord's Birth in Bethlehem. In Israel's Calendar there were just 1,638 years and 6 months in the period, but in the hidden 354-day calendar, there were,1,690 years and 6 months. This meant that the month in which Jesus was born in 1 BC could be called 'the seventh month' in Israel's Calendar but, in the concealed 354-day series of years, the 'first month.' (Of course, none but God Himself took account of this second aspect.)
When we sought for the reason for this, the Holy Spirit revealed that Jesus was not only God's true 'Tabernacle' - our dwelling-place upon earth in Whom to abide - but He is also the Living Bread which came down from Heaven (John 6:33), and the 'Unleavened Bread' for our food and sustainment in this world (see Chart 6).
To express this fact, Christ must be born at the Feast of Booths or 'Tabernacles', which signifies our temporary abiding in Him, and at the Feast of Unleavened Bread, which signifies our feeding upon Him. This necessitated two calendars - the one a soli-lunar series which the Jews had kept from the Exodus onwards, and the other a civil lunar one which could only be known to Heaven above.
But this was not all. In earlier pages it has been shown that in the Chronology of Redemption there were 1,960 years from Adam to Abram and a further span of 1,960 to the Crucifixion of Christ. Together with the 80 years of Jubilee which were reckoned by God, we know that the total came to exactly 4,000 years. But reckoning only the total years in the Scripture record of this Chronology, there were, of course, only twice 1,960, or 3,920 complete, in AD 33. If we deduct the thirty-two and a half years back to the Birth of Jesus in the autumn of 1 BC , we find that He came into this world in the middle of the year 3,888 (from Creation). This clearly appears to be by design of God, for, as is widely known, the numerical value of the name 'Jesus' in the Greek spelling amounts to '888'. The number '3', of course, signifies His deity and the number '8' signifies resurrection, seeing that eight resurrections are recorded in the Bible.
As God uses the number 888 to seal many of His time patternings (whether of days or of years) it is only right to illustrate how this total is made up. The spelling of JESUS in Greek is:
888 which is 37 x 8 x 3
Before leaving the year of our Lord's birth, we feel we should draw attention to the Divine use of another number - '13' - which is eloquent of the purpose for which Christ came into the world. '13' is the number which throughout Scripture signifies sin and rebellion. (An illustration of this can be seen in Genesis 14:4 'in the thirteenth year they rebelled'.)
In the Redemption Chronology the number of completed years from Adam to the Birth of Jesus was 3,887. This number is 13 x 13 x 23. We found that the total in 354-day years from the Exodus was 1,690, and the factors of this are 13 x 13 x 10. However, the same period in Jewish years was 1,638, Jesus being born in the middle of the 1,639th year. 1,638 has the factors of 13 x 9 x 7 x 2.
(These multiples of '13' are in harmony with what we find in the numerical value of two of God's titles in the Old Testament, the Hebrew letters for 'Jehovah' being 26 or 13 x 2, and those for 'Adonahy' (Lord) being 65, or 13 x 5.)
Oh, how wonderful that 'God, sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh' (Romans 8:3). And how amazing to find that the total numerical value of the Greek spelling of 'Jesus of Nazareth' amounts to 2,197, which has the factors of 13 x 13 x 13. God made Him, Jesus, to be sin for us - that is, He was identified with our sin - that we might become 'the righteousness of God in Him'(2 Corinthians 5:21).
Let us never forget that the Bible is a numerical book. Every single letter in the Hebrew, and also in the Greek language, stands for a numeral. Every one of the words of God has a value of its own, so that the value of a phrase will often provide a positive clue as to its meaning, which would not otherwise appear. Not for nothing does our Lord tell us that 'the very hairs of your head are all numbered'(Matthew 10:30)! Let us ask, what is there that is not numbered in this universe?
And what is the Chronology of the Bible? It is the Word of the living God, and it can never be separated from His Person, any more than any other part of the Divine Revelation. Have we not seen that redemption is inseparably linked with time in the Scriptures?
With this in mind, then, let us look once more at the date and the circumstances surrounding the Redeemer's birth in Bethlehem, which name in the Hebrew signifies 'the place of food.'
When all the facts had been brought together, it was established that the hour of the Saviour's birth was 8 am (see Note 5) (the opening of the hour of incense, or morning sacrifice) on October 29th 1 BC. This 15th of the 7th month was the first day of the Feast of Booths, commonly called 'Tabernacles'(Leviticus 23:33-43). This feast was to remind Israel that God made them dwell in booths, when He brought them out of Egypt. For this reason Jesus must needs be born in an outside shelter, or booth, no doubt constructed of branches, or rough wood, for the beasts that fed there.
In His Father's hidden calendar (see Appendix 1), however, this same day was the 15th of the 1st month - the first day of 'unleavened bread' (Leviticus 23:6) - and there is no doubt that, for this reason, the Babe was laid in a feeding trough, or manger. In His manhood, He could say of Himself, 'The bread of God is He which cometh down from Heaven, and giveth life unto the world' (John 6: 33).
And did this Feast of Tabernacles that year have a 'last day' (like that in John 7:37, where the eighth day is called 'that great day of the feast')? Yes, it was on the 'eighth day' after His birth, when the Child was circumcised, that 'His Name was called JESUS' (Luke 2: 21). We cannot stay to touch on the significance of this now, but trust to do so later.
In the foregoing details we have sketched the timing of the Lord's birth in
Bethlehem so that we might the better be able to appreciate the miracle of His
Father's timing when, once again, He brought together the two Feasts (of
'Tabernacles' and 'Unleavened Bread') that is, at the culmination of His work,
when Jesus died and rose again in AD 33 (see Chart 6 and Chart 9).