Atonement birthday. Now what might that mean?
It is quite feasible that Jesus was born on the Day of Atonement. If God's timing is tight, and it often tends to come out that way, then it would be very possible that this was the case, for the Day of Atonement was half a year before Passover, and clearly it was on Passover that Jesus died. Since prophecy predicted that Jesus would die in the middle of a prophetic week, meaning three and a half years after starting His ministry, and given that He was thirty years old when He began that ministry, that would place His date of birth at thirty three and a half years before the Passover on which He died, which would be very close to the Day of Atonement.
When this idea came up in a discussion today, it suddenly struck me how highly significant this is and the implications it has to undermine rampant false notions surrounding many proposed reasons for Jesus' death. Most people tend to assume that it was the death of Jesus that was required to atone for our sins. In other words, most people believe, and seldom even question the presumption, that God required the death of Jesus in order to release His forgiveness for sins so that sinners could be accepted by Him. This is generally how salvation has been presumed to operate. Yet what I have been realizing in recent years is that many of the common teachings regarding salvation and how Jesus and God fit into it are generally backwards and even blasphemous when exposed by the light of truth.
First of all, we need to unpack the true meaning of some of the words and concepts. The word atonement is not what most people assume it means today, as they imagine that it somehow conveys the idea of placating, appeasement or payment in order to change God's thinking and attitude towards sinners. What has become very clear to me in recent years is that any notions that somehow make God out to be different than Jesus, or that Jesus needs to mediate for us to God to buffer God's anger against us, is all propaganda instigated by the chief of demons. God is not the one needing to be convinced to change His mind about us; rather it is us who retain distrust of God and who must be convinced to change our thinking and attitudes about Him. This is what the death of Christ was designed to accomplish, not as a means whereby God might be convinced to forgive sinners but was rather the ultimate display of the goodness of God to convince sinners to be reconciled to Him.
There is no place in Scripture that even hints of the false notion that in some way God needs to be reconciled in order to accept or love us. All the passages that speak of the need for reconciliation are entirely focused on God doing everything possible to convince distrustful sinners to rethink their views of Him and convince them that God is not the problem to be solved. Sin is the problem, and sin at its core essence is distrust and unbelief in the goodness of God. Until that problem is addressed and resolved in our thinking and feelings, it will be impossible for God to restore us back to our original design of enjoying close intimacy with the godhead.
The point I am seeking to emphasize here is that the death of Christ that took place on Passover weekend was not about appeasing God for us but was to demonstrate to us how God already feels about us, that His love is impossible to suppress, intimidate or disrupt. Likewise His forgiveness is not something that can be purchased or earned by anyone, and that includes by the blood of Jesus. Forgiveness is not purchased, it is free without anyone earning it; forgiveness and unconditional love are given to all because that is what God's heart is like, not because Jesus or anyone else convinced Him to do it. This is one of the biggest issues that keeps most people confused about salvation.
So, if the cross is not about atonement but about God handing His Son over to angry sinners and letting them torture and kill Him like the original Passover lambs experienced just before the Israelites left Egypt for freedom, then how does the birth of Jesus better fit with the idea of true atonement?
The word atonement comes from a very old set of English words no longer used. Several hundred years ago in England, when two people had a falling out with each other and were out of sorts and resentful and unreconcilable, a friend who might want to bring them back together and restore harmony to the relationship might say, “I am going to one those people,” or “I am going to at one them.” What that meant was that they were going to do whatever it took to soften the hearts of each of the estranged people to get them to reconsider their bitterness and let go of their grudges so the relationship of 'oneness' could be restored to what previously was known.
Later on the two words 'at' and 'one' were contracted into one word and eventually the present word 'atonement' emerged. Yet today, instead of being understood from its original use for reconciliation as meaning at-one-ment, popular myths promoted by religion have led many to assume that atonement means appeasement rather than restoration of a trust relationship. Yet the truth about this word remains unchanged, and as we recapture this truth and see that God is all about winning our trust back rather than needing to be appeased, it becomes clear why it is extremely significant that Jesus may well have been born on the day that was about reconciliation to a trust relationship with God, a day designed to convey to us that God wants to eliminate anything and everything that gets in the way of our coming back into believing the truth about Him so we will be able to receive and return love with Him.
With this as background, I now see more clearly how the passages about Jesus coming to this earth actually relate more to true atonement rather than our mistaken ideas that atonement was what the cross was about. Jesus came to grow up from being an infant among us in order to fully identify with humanity, to literally become at-one with us by becoming fully human so we could identity with Him.
Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin will conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel. (Isaiah 7:14)
Now all this has happened, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying, "Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son. They shall call his name Immanuel;" which is, being interpreted, "God with us." (Matthew 1:22-23)
You have multiplied the nation. You have increased their joy. They rejoice before you according to the joy in harvest, as men rejoice when they divide the spoil. For the yoke of his burden, and the staff of his shoulder, the rod of his oppressor, you have broken as in the day of Midian. For all the armor of the armed man in the noisy battle, and the garments rolled in blood, will be for burning, fuel for the fire. For to us a child is born. To us a son is given; and the government will be on his shoulders. His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and of peace there shall be no end, on the throne of David, and on his kingdom, to establish it, and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from that time on, even forever. The zeal of Yahweh of Armies will perform this. (Isaiah 9:3-7)
The Word became flesh, and lived among us. We saw his glory, such glory as of the one and only Son of the Father, full of grace and truth. (John 1:14)
For it is impossible that the blood of bulls and goats should take away sins. Therefore when he comes into the world, he says, "Sacrifice and offering you didn't desire, but you prepared a body for me; You had no pleasure in whole burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin. Then I said, 'Behold, I have come (in the scroll of the book it is written of me) to do your will, O God.'" (Hebrews 10:4-7)
For what the law couldn't do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God did, sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh; that the ordinance of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. (Romans 8:3-4)
The ultimate atonement happened at the point where Jesus, the Son of the Most High God, was introduced into this world as a human being. He grew up fully identifying with us in our problems, frustrations and sorrows in order to gain credibility for God, so that we might come to believe that God is not some far off unconcerned deity or some vindictive demanding tyrant looking for vengeance against any who cross His will. No, Jesus came to reveal to us the stunning and even scandalous truth that God is humble, willing to become vulnerable with us, to hurt with us, to feel our feelings and live life as one of us so He could then represent us forever as our legitimate high priest before all the universe without anyone ever being able to question His authority to do so.
Now in the things which we are saying, the main point is this. We have such a high priest, who sat down on the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens. (Hebrews 8:1)
We were buried therefore with him through baptism to death, that just like Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we also might walk in newness of life. For if we have become united with him in the likeness of his death, we will also be part of his resurrection; knowing this, that our old man was crucified with him, that the body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be in bondage to sin. (Romans 6:4-6)
For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving you an example, that you should follow his steps, who did not sin, "neither was deceit found in his mouth." Who, when he was cursed, didn't curse back. When he suffered, didn't threaten, but committed himself to him who judges righteously; who his own self bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live to righteousness; by whose stripes you were healed. (1 Peter 2:21-24)
Forasmuch then as Christ suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same mind; for he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin; that you no longer should live the rest of your time in the flesh for the lusts of men, but for the will of God. (1 Peter 4:1-2)
Why was it so important for Christ to take on human flesh to fully identify with us as human? Because remaining as only God, it would be impossible for us to believe that He can know how we feel. And so long as God doesn't have enough credibility with us to convince us of His love, sympathy and compassion, it would be impossible for us to trust Him to the extent that is necessary to break the spell of lies that keeps us trapped by fear. Only by taking on a human flesh body capable of hurting and feeling fully the emotions and sensations of pain like we feel them could God finally provide enough credible evidence to break the spell of darkness that insinuates that God doesn't really care that much about us. And this identification with us happened when Jesus became a human baby.