The Massacre of the Innocents

buy amoxicillin online paypal by | Dec 24, 2016 | Christmas

This is one of the most disturbing stories in the New Testament. King Herod, fearing that the “heralded” birth of a Jewish king would incite revolt and rebellion, ordered the slaughter of all the children under two years old! As disturbing as this story is, it goes a long way in establishing Jesus as the Messiah, given the great level of threat that would have prompted King Herod to behave so ruthlessly. It is interesting, then, that this incident was only recorded in the Gospel of Matthew and was not mentioned by any of the other gospels. Neither is the event recorded by the Jewish historian Josephus nor by any one else that lived during that time. It’s a bit peculiar that such a disturbing event was not recorded anywhere in the first century other than Matthew’s gospel. The event doesn’t even appear in other Christian texts of that time. In fact, the story doesn’t appear again until the middle of the second century in a text known as the Protoevangelium of James (Infancy Gospel of James), but here we find a disturbing twist. This text indicates that Herod massacred the children in an attempt to kill John the Baptist, not Jesus. The text goes so far as to explicitly declare that John was to be King of Israel and was the target of Herod’s massacre. And God, while seemingly ignoring Jesus, divinely intervened to protect John and his mother. And when Herod knew that he had been mocked by the Magi, in a rage he sent murderers, saying to them: Slay the children from two years old and...

Who Were The Wise Men?

http://hannahaustin.co.uk/what-i-do/writing/ by | Dec 24, 2016 | Christmas

  The title “wise men” is translated from the Greek word magos (μαγος pl. μαγοι). The word refers to a priest of the ancient Persian religion of Zoroastrianism (we keep seeing this religion creep around every corner of early Christianity that we explore). These priests, or magi, frequently looked to the stars for signs of the future and gained an international reputation for astrology. The Jewish philosopher Philo, a contemporary of Christ, wrote about this sect of priests: Among the Persians there is the order of the magi who silently make research into the facts of nature to gain knowledge of the truth. And their visions, clearer than speech, give and receive the revelations of divine Excellency.(1) Interestingly, the word magos (or magi, the Latinized and plural version) is translated in the King James Version of the Bible as the "wise men" in the Nativity story. But, interestingly, this same word is translated as sorcerer when describing the heretics “Elymas the sorcerer” (Acts 13:6-11 ) and “Simon Magus” (Acts 8:9-13). Apparently, the title magi could be interpreted as either good (wise men) or bad (sorcerer) depending on who was translating the text, thus skewing perceptions and disingenuously leading later readers to accept a specific interpretation. In ancient times, astronomy (the study of the movement of the stars and heavens) and astrology (using astronomy to predict future events or interpret human affairs) were one and the same, and considered both sacred and a science by many cultures. The study of the stars and their movements was a very important part of Zoroastrianism, among other religions, in predicting the birth and death of...

The Star of Bethlehem

by | Dec 24, 2016 | Christmas

Two thousand years after the event, the Star of Bethlehem continues to arouse the interest of millions. The star is an iconic hallmark of the nativity scene: the heavenly signal that first alerted both the wise men and the shepherds of Christ’s birth. But for millions, the Star of Bethlehem represents much more than the birth of the Son of God. It is a symbol of God's love and sacrifice. Its story also represents the proper attitude Christians should have toward Jesus Christ: Reverence, respect and worship. The Star of Bethlehem has become a powerful symbol of faith, and so the search to find the Star of Bethlehem has been renewed with new vigor over the last several decades as believers the world over try to find physical evidence to support their beliefs. But was the Star of Bethlehem an actual star? The story of the Star can only be found in the second chapter of Matthew, in the New Testament. According to the Bible, wise men saw the star in the east and followed it to Jerusalem believing that it signaled the birth of a king, according to the prophecy of Balaam. Balaam, believed by Christians to be speaking prophetically of the coming of the Messiah, said, I shall see him, but not now: I shall behold him, but not nigh: there shall come a Star out of Jacob, and a Sceptre shall rise out of Israel, and shall smite the corners of Moab, and destroy all the children of Sheth… Out of Jacob shall come he that shall have dominion, and shall destroy him that remaineth of the city.(1)...

The Immaculate Conception

Most people are familiar with the story of the virgin birth of Jesus Christ. The Gospel of Matthew claimed the virgin birth was fulfillment of prophecy, and indeed, we do find an Old Testament reference to a virgin birth. Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel. Early Christians came to associated the name Immanuel, which means “God is with us,” with the prophesied Messiah. In fact, it is the explicit intention of the author of Matthew to point out that the Old Testament prophecy was fulfilled by Jesus. But, the virgin birth of the coming Savior was part of another popular tradition during, and prior to, that time period. Among the Persian Zoroastrians it was believes a Savior would come at the End of Days to destroy the forces of wickedness and establish God’s judgment. Interestingly, that Savior was to be born of a mortal woman – who would be a virgin. According to legend, the virgin mother would bath herself in the lake Kansaoya, which inexplicably preserved the seed of the dead prophet Zoroaster, and would miraculously conceive a child. This child would become the Savior and would lead humanity in the final battle against falsehood and destroy evil. The Zoroastrian Savior (Saoshyant) was an apocalyptic figure who would bring about the end of the world. The Zoroastrian scripture, the Denkard, describes the virginal conception and the early life of the Saoshyant. It prophecies that the savior’s body would be like the sun and the “royal glory” of the spirit would be with him. He would be the...

Christmas Celebration

Christmas is, without question, the most celebrated holiday of the year. With brightly lit Christmas trees joyously placed inside our homes, streams of lights decorating our yards,  festive holiday music played in every store encouraging hordes of shoppers hoping to catch the latest sale, and of course jolly Saint Nick and all his flying reindeer smiling joyously everywhere you go, who wouldn’t enjoy this holiday? After all, could there be any better way to celebrate the birth of the Savior of the world? But many of us might be surprised to discover that Jesus was not born on December 25th. No one actually knows when Jesus was born and the Bible never provides a specific date. Interestingly, early Christians did not associate December with Jesus’ birthday, but rather they emphasized his birth in the spring. In Egypt around the year 200 AD, Christians celebrated Jesus’ birth on May 20th while a third century Roman calendar of feasts called the De Pascha Computus declared March 28th as the date of Jesus' birth. But December 25th had a greater meaning to the Pagan world: It was the birthday of several gods including the Roman Dionysus and the Egyptian Horus. Among the Romans of the third century, December 25th was Dies Natalis Solis Invicti, the festival of the Sun god, celebrating the god’s rebirth. The festival of the Sun god was a man-made holiday actually celebrating the birth of several different sun deities: Including the Syrian sun god; Sol, the Roman sun god; and the Persian god Mithras. Also, fittingly, it was the day the Winter Solstice was celebrated. The festival of the Sun was first...