Chronology and History – Luke 2:1-7

God’s Timing Is Perfect And Everything He Does Is Precise

1 In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. 2 (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) 3 And everyone went to their own town to register.

4 So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. 5 He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. 6 While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, 7 and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.

Date Debate

Part of the difficulty in determining the dates of various ancient (2000 years ago is ancient relative to today) events is that records were destroyed through various battles in history.  We can now use what records are left, and rely upon archeology to fill in the gaps.  The problem with this approach is that there is some leeway in the Generally Accepted Date (GAD) for these events.  Because of this, we can only make approximations.  If, however, we can tie them to specific astronomical events, we may be able to get a better idea of when they occurred.

Here we find two important historical events that occurred at the time of Jesus’ birth:

  1. Quirinius was pro-Counsel in Syria when Jesus was born. (Luke 2:2)
  2. A census sent Mary and Joseph to Bethlehem. (Luke 2:3)

These events will help us to place, along with other clues in the Bible, the time of Jesus birth.

Census Called

The Roman census was a great tool for taxation.  It was called every fourteen years, and required that everyone return to their hometown to be registered and pay their tax.  There were two Roman censuses taken that can be dated around the time of the estimated birth of Christ – 8 B.C.E. and 6 C.E.  However, unlike today with television, email, and rapid transportation, it took time to spread the word to the ends of the dominion of Rome.

Additionally, the Israelites despised having to pay the Romans tax for the privilege of living in the very land that God have given them.  So they did everything in their power to delay paying their taxes until absolutely necessary (“…there is nothing new under the sun…”).  So finally, when the delays would be tolerated no longer by the Roman officials, the Israelites traveled back to the land of their ancestors to pay their taxes.

Governor Guided

Quirinius was the pro-Counsel in Syria when the Roman Census was called in 8 B.C.E.  This helps us to narrow down the time frame.  There have been some claims that the Roman Census of Quirinius took place at 6 C.E., but this may be due to a mistake by Josephus in his writings.

Baby Born

There were two signs in the heavens that date the birth of Jesus Christ.  The first was recorded by the Apostle John in the book of Revelation:

1 A great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet and a crown of twelve stars on her head. 2 She was pregnant and cried out in pain as she was about to give birth.

Fred Larson, the writer and producer of the film “The Star of Bethlehem”, using Starry Night software, confirmed that an astronomically rare event occurred on September 11, 3 B.C.E.  That morning, the star Virgo rose directly behind the Sun in the sky at sunrise, and the moon was at her feet – the feet of the constellation of Virgo. It is a small crescent moon, because it is the Jewish New Year – Rosh Hashanah. It is a representation of a life just starting. This may possibly be describing the sign of the Son of Man – the conception of Jesus – because conception is the birth of life according to the Jews and (many) Christians. The twelve stars upon her head were the constellation of Leo (for more information, please see the movie “Star of Bethlehem”, and Fred Larson’s website, www.bethlehemstar.com).

The second sign occurred nine months after Virgo was clothed with the Sun, with the Moon at her feet, and the twelve stars crowning her head.  On June 17th, 2 B.C.E., Venus and Jupiter came in close conjunction. They literally stacked upon each other like a snowman. This created the brightest star in the sky that ANYONE had ever seen at that time. And off rode the Magi of the East to Jerusalem.

If you don’t have access to the movie, here is a concise summary of the movie and its conclusions.

A Qualifying Question

Let’s ask a question:  Which do I believe, the conclusions of man, or what is written in the Bible?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, You continually show us signs and wonders as You work in us and among us.  Father, give me a heart of wisdom and discernment to know the truth, and to search Your scriptures for all things.  Help me to know and understand Your word.  Thank You, Father, for giving us the tools to verify what You have already stated to be fact.  And where there is conjecture, help us to rightly discern the truth of these matters.  Strengthen me in Your work and Your Spirit, that I may know the truth, and that the truth would set me free.  This I ask in Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Want more?  Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?


This blog has been edited for grammatical errors.

Worshiping God – Deuteronomy 13:1-5

Worship God And No One Nor Anything Else

1 If a prophet, or one who foretells by dreams, appears among you and announces to you a sign or wonder, 2 and if the sign or wonder spoken of takes place, and the prophet says, “Let us follow other gods” (gods you have not known) “and let us worship them,” 3 you must not listen to the words of that prophet or dreamer. The Lord your God is testing you to find out whether you love him with all your heart and with all your soul. 4 It is the Lord your God you must follow, and him you must revere. Keep his commands and obey him; serve him and hold fast to him. 5 That prophet or dreamer must be put to death for inciting rebellion against the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt and redeemed you from the land of slavery. That prophet or dreamer tried to turn you from the way the Lord your God commanded you to follow. You must purge the evil from among you.

False Foreknowledge

Not every sign and wonder comes from God.  In the time of the end, Satan will try to deceive with false signs and wonders.  It should not surprise us to know that Satan tries to copy what God does in order to try to get people to worship him.  God specifically tells us that He allows this in order to test us.

Troubling Test

It is troubling to think that God would allow false signs and wonders to appear, for we associate these things with the working of the Lord God Almighty.  But God wants to show us where we are.  He already knows the condition of our hearts, but we often don’t know because we are busy, or compromised in some way.  Think about poor Aaron just after Moses had gone up the mountain to speak with God.  The people demanded that he create a God for them that they could worship.  Moses had been gone for so long (a month can seem like an eternity…), they thought he was dead.  Aaron capitulated, and made them the golden calf.

God tests us in many ways.  He allows difficult circumstances to occur in our lives so that we will make a choice – hold fast to what God has said, or react to the pressures around us and do what is expedient.  We may fail these tests, but we must constantly strive to hold fast to the word of the living God.

Chase Christ

God tells us that we must follow Him and not other Gods.  Only the Lord God Almighty is worthy of our praise.  Satan seeks this worship for himself, and will do anything that God permits him to do to try to convince us to either worship him or someone/something other than God.  We must be vigilant in this, because we were created to worship, and we will worship someone or something.

Obedience to God is crucial to the life of the disciple of Christ.  Without obedience, we will be easily caught up on sin and have our lives, careers, and reputations harmed by the pitfalls that Satan plans for us to encounter.  It is bad enough to be persecuted for following Christ in faith.  It is far worse when those who are respected and looked up to fall from public trust due to moral failure.

Sovereign Sentence

God does not take kindly to those who claim to speak for Him and do not.  God has authorized and issued the sentence for all who would dare invoke His name without His permission.  They are to be put to death.  While this may seem harsh, it is a just penalty for trying to lead others down a path of unrighteousness.  Jesus declared,

“If anyone causes one of these little ones—those who believe in me—to stumble, it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung around their neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea.”

Exterminate Evil

It is only through obedience that we are able to exterminate evil from our presence.  We must say no to sin and temptation in order to overcome.  Otherwise, we will become victims of the snares that have been placed before us.  If we allow evil in our midst – to permit the active participation of people who claim to be disciples of Christ (colloquially but only anecdotally now called Christians) within the church, we will allow leaven into the dough.  And once leaven enters the dough, it will leaven the whole lump.  The Corinthian church did this, and tolerated an evil that even those who did not know Christ would not tolerate – incest.

Without holiness, it will be impossible to see God.  Evil must be removed from our presence.  We need to retrain our desires using the word of God so that we will desire righteousness instead.  Evil cannot be tolerated.  God will not allow it.

A Qualifying Question

Let’s ask a question:  Do I permit evil to live and thrive in my life?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, You are holy, holy, holy.  You cannot tolerate evil, and have repeatedly told us in Your holy word to rid ourselves of it.  Sin crouches at our door and seeks to devour us.  Keep me safe today, and help me to avoid the pitfalls and traps that have been placed before me.  Rescue me when my adversaries seek to box me in to finish me off.  Help me to overcome all of the attacks and pull of sin and evil that I may follow You in righteousness and holiness.  Give me the wisdom and discernment to recognize when others are trying to lead me away from You to follow false gods.  This I ask in Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Want more?  Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?

Combat Training with God – 1 Corinthians 1:22-25

Seek After God, Not Signs And Wonders Nor Worldly Wisdom

22 Jews demand signs and Greeks look for wisdom, 23 but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, 24 but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25 For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength.

Seeking Signs

The Jews would often look for signs in the person who claimed to be a messenger from God.  In the past, God would use signs and wonders to confirm the validity of the prophets’ ministry.  However, many people desired the signs and wonders more than the message.  Jesus rebuked the people who were following Him after he had fed thousands with a few loaves of bread and small fish because they were seeking the gifts of the giver, and not the giver Himself.

Even today, there are Christians who seek after the manifestation of the gifts of God in the form of miracles, signs, and wonders.   They will go to any length to be present when the gifts of the Giver are given to bear witness to the power and glory of God to the unbelieving generation He is trying to reach.  It has been said that signs and wonders should follow Christians, rather than Christians following signs and wonders.  If a disciple of Christ is yielded to God, and is doing His will, God will provide whatever is necessary to bring about the results that He desires.  The disciple won’t need to follow signs and wonders:  God’s power and presence will be present in the disciple’s faithful execution of ministry.

Worldly Wisdom

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.  When we seek wisdom, we need to first consult with the One who created the universe, and in whom all things in the universe are held together.  Only God knows the beginning from the end, how the laws of the universe were placed, and why all things that are taking place are doing so.

When we seek worldly wisdom, we eventually put aside the wisdom of God and, believing ourselves to be wise, become fools in His sight:

21 For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like a mortal human being and birds and animals and reptiles.

When we seek wisdom only in the creation, and not the creator, we exchange the glory of God for what has been created.  Look at the detrimental effects of Secular Humanism.  Those who engage in this begin to worship human leaders rather than God because they believe that humans are capable of achieving moral and ethical righteousness apart from religion and God.  Paul, seeing this almost two thousand years ago, penned a letter to the Corinthian church.  And even now we are seeing the fulfillment of it.

Sweet Salvation

The message of the cross is a stumbling block to those who seek signs because the miracle has already happened:  God has raised His Son from the dead to everlasting life, and gives the amazing gift of salvation to anyone who believes.  Rather than believe the miracle, the Jews still seek Messiah of God to rescue them from the oppression of their enemies.  Two thousand years ago, it was the oppression by the Romans.  Now, it is the oppression by the fundamental adherents to Islam.  The players keep changing, but the situation is still the same:  Satan, the greatest of deceivers, is always after the chosen ones of God.

For those who are not direct biological descendants of the line of Israel, the message of the cross is foolishness.  After all, in life, everything must be earned or stolen to be gained.  It makes no sense that an all-powerful God could be the embodiment love, and give the gift of salvation freely to any who believe, given the effects that sin has brought upon us.  It appears either too fantastic to them (because they are too busy studying the creation for clues to the meaning of life, the universe, and everything that they are unable to look up to God for answers) or that it is far to simple to be plausible.  God has provided the answers to the big questions in life through His word so that we could focus on living in the present in relationship with Him.

God is Greater

Because God is omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent, He sees and knows everything that ever happened as well as everything that ever will happen.  When we humans look to ourselves or His creation for answers without first going to Him, we come up with the stupidest of conclusions:

  • The Earth is flat.  If you sail far enough across the ocean, you will fall off the world to your death.
  • The Earth sits on a great turtle, who in turn sits on another great turtle, and it is turtles all the way down…
  • There is nothing beyond this life – once we die, we just push up daisies with our dead, decaying flesh.
  • There is no such thing a God who exists outside of the physical universe.  Because man feels the need to worship, we must worship that which we see, because obviously it is the things on the Earth, beneath the Earth, or above the Earth that have power over us.

The wisdom of men is foolishness to God.  And the greatest strength and power of men is mere weakness to the God who, by speaking, caused the universe – including all matter and the laws that the created manner are to follow – to be formed in the first place.  What man cannot explain he mocks.  But be assured of this – God cannot be mocked: a man reaps what he sows.

A Qualifying Question

Let’s ask a question:  Am I seeking God’s wisdom or man’s wisdom in all that I do?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, You have caused all things to be created and know all things.  Thank You for Your counsel in Your holy word, and for the counsel You have given those who fear Your name.  Help me to always seek Your counsel first before I undertake anything so that Your will would be done, and You would be glorified.  Keep me from the false teaching of the world and the devil so that I would solely and completely trust in You.  Guard my heart and preserve it for the day when Your Son comes in glory.  This I ask in Jesus’ Holy Name, Amen.

Want more?  Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?