The backstory of Christmas is fascinating. God really did move heaven and earth to come and save us!
12 Apply your heart to instruction and your ears to words of knowledge.
The Israelites were in the land of Egypt 430 years according to Exodus 12:40. With 430 years between Abraham’s 75th year and the Exodus (1446 BC), he would have arrived in Canaan in the year 1876. God made a promise to Abraham that “all peoples on earth will be blessed through you [him].” Genesis 12:3. After the Exodus, Israel lived in Canaan until the Assyrians conquered the northern kingdom in 722 BC. Babylon conquered the southern kingdom of Judah in 597 BC.
In Babylon, Daniel prophesied what would happen over the next 500+ years (see Daniel 2). It began with the golden kingdom of Babylon, who was then conquered by the Medo/Persian Empire in October of 539 BC. Cyrus allowed the Israelites to go back to Israel and even helped them build the temple! Malachi was written around the time of Ezra and Nehemiah, which was 445 BC.
What happened next? Timeline of Israel
- Fall of Persian empire to Alexander the Great in 334 BC.
- Death of Alex and subsequent parceling of his kingdom between his four generals in June of 323 BC. Ptolemy ruled Jerusalem, and Syria for a while.
- The area of Syria and Israel changed hands several times over the next 100+ years.
- In 200 BC, the Syrian general, Antiochus III the Great, defeated the Ptolemies. In 173 BC, Antiochus IV Epiphanes conquered Israel and desecrated the altar by offering a pig to Zeus.
- In 167 BC the Maccabean Revolt ensued when the priest Mattathias was asked to make an offering to the gods. Mattathias and his five sons, one of which was Judas Maccabeus, led the revolt. The Israelites won their independence. Hanukkah happened.
- Israel changed hands several times again in the next 100 years.
- Enter Rome in 63 BC. They built roads and unified the entire area under one leader, one common language, and one common coin.
- Syria and Israel were under Roman rule. A census was called for that region by Quirinius, who was ruler of Syria (and Israel) for his first seat as governor. His second was in 6 AD and is mentioned in Acts 5:37.
- Herod died in 1 BC contrary to most documents of Josephus dated after 1544 that say he died in 4 BC. The older manuscripts say Herod’s death in 1 BC. Is it a copying error? Probably.
- According to the star charts shown in The Star of Bethlehem, Jesus was conceived in September, 3 BC. and born in June, 2 BC. The Magi came on December 25th, 2 BC. These events are demonstrated on the video, The Star of Bethlehem, using a program that shows the constellations in that day. The Star of Bethlehem beginning at 39:30
Conclusion: God waited 430ish years to speak again to Israel. Why? Could it be to heighten the miracle of prophecy coming true in order to keep man from gaining glory? Could it be that God was relating the gap between the two Testaments to the tenure of Israel in Egypt? If so, then even as Moses was the savior of the children of Israel, Jesus is the Savior of the world!
“In the fullness of time, Jesus came…” Galatians 4:4
Abba, WOW! You sure set the stage for Your Coming. Thank You, Jesus, for leaving Your throne and setting aside Your glory, Your magnificence, Your splendor, and Your vastness to live in a human body for my sake! May I NEVER take for granted the miracle of Christmas. Amen.