On Measuring Time: The Effect of New Year Dating on the Weekly Sabbath

The Jewish people even today date their Passover from Abib. And yet they keep Saturday as the Sabbath, just as the Seventh Day Adventists do. But with the first new moon occurring on different days of the week from year to year, and the Sabbath being always seven days later, it is not possible to follow a seven-day sequence around the calendar from year to year, as our Saturdays do. Also, with all the shifts in the calendar that have occurred through the centuries, the Sabbath could not possibly fall on the same day as it did two thousand years ago. There were odd days at the end of each year, because the new moon began a new year. And the Sabbath was always the seventh day of the new year, the fourteenth day, the twenty-first day, and so on through the year.

About the Date of Christ’s Birth From the foregoing it should be evident that dates of festivals on the

Hebrew calendar cannot fall on the same date of our calendar every year. What do we know about the date Christ was born and why both Mary and Joseph happened to be in Bethlehem at that time?

Prophecy and history alike agree that Bethlehem was Christ’s birthplace. Was there any event during the year which attracted Mary and Joseph to Bethlehem? The enrollment as ordered by Caesar Augustus and mentioned by Luke required the presence of only the male member of the household. Certainly this enrollment would never have brought Mary to Bethlehem in her condition.

Yet, she was there, impelled by some inner urge to make the journey with Joseph. Why? Was it the Passover, principal of Jewish feasts, which motivated Mary to make the long difficult trip? Not so, as the Passover was observed in Jerusalem, and Mary and Joseph were in Bethlehem when Jesus was born.

Abib was the first month of the Jewish sacred year, as defined in the Hebrew Lexicon. It was the likely season for the political rulers to impose a census for tax purposes, for loyal Jews were under obligation to “observe the month of Abib.” According to custom, Bethlehem was the town where the family of David assembled to carry out this command. You will remember David mentioned to Jonathan the yearly new moon feast for “all the family” (1 Sam. 20:5-6). It was this yearly feast for the family of David of which both Mary and Joseph were members that brought her to Bethlehem with a strong desire to observe the new moon of Abib when Christ was born.

This is all from the standpoint of reason. We cannot say that we know Christ was born the first day; but we know how precise God is in everything He does, and all the evidence seems to point to the fact that He must have been born on the first day of Abib. At least we know He was born at that season of the year.

Another point of evidence for Christ’s birth occurring in the spring is found in the fact that the tabernacle was set up on the first of Abib and that Christ was, in a spiritual sense, the door of the spiritual house of God.

The tabernacle was completed on the first day of the first month of the year. The God of heaven being a God of order and Christ being the firstfruits from the dead, it seems very possible that He arranged that Christ’s birth should coincide with the anniversary of the setting up of the tabernacle.