RALPH'S CHRISTMAS QUIZ

I first wrote this quiz in 1989 and distributed it to a few friends over the internet. There were plenty of corrections and some criticism, but I either prevailed or repented and sent it to even more people. Many forwarded the quiz to their friends and we estimate that ten thousand persons all over the world have received this quiz. Corrections and suggestions are still welcome!


HOW WELL DO YOU KNOW THE CHRISTMAS STORY?

Here are twenty multiple choice questions for you to answer. There is at least one correct answer to each question but some have more than one right answer. You get 5 points for every correct answer for a possible total of 150 points, but for every wrong answer, 5 points will be deducted, so be careful! Since Christmas is to be a joyous occasion, you may find reason to laugh at some of the choices, but don't let yourself get fooled by trick questions! You may not use your Bible but there is no time limit.

1.    When Joseph discovered that Mary was expecting a child...

a.  ...he was very happy
b.  ...he got a divorce
c.  ...he contemplated getting a divorce
d.  ...he brooded over it until he fell asleep

2.    Before Jesus was born...

a.  ...Joseph left Mary
b.  ...Mary left Joseph
c.  ...Joseph and Mary led a normal married life
d.  ...Joseph built a crib

3.    Why did Joseph and Mary travel to Bethlehem?

a.  King Herod’s decree required it
b.  Joseph and Mary were related to a king
c.  A star led them to Bethlehem
d.  An angel appeared and told them to go

4.    How did Joseph and Mary get to Bethlehem?

a.  They both rode donkeys
b.  Mary rode a donkey and Joseph walked
c.  They rode camels
d.  The Bible doesn't say

5.    Which animals were present at the manger when Christ was born?

a.  Sheep and cows
b.  Donkey and ox
c.  The Bible only mentions sheep
d.  The Bible doesn't say

6.    What did the shepherds in the field see?

a.  an army
b.  a choir
c.  a star
d.  three kings

7.    Who were the visitors from the East?

a.  Relatives
b.  Kings
c.  Astronomers
d.  Farmers

8.    How did these visitors find the baby Jesus?

a.  They followed the star to Nazareth
b.  They followed the star to Bethlehem
c.  They followed the star to Jerusalem
d.  They followed the instructions of King Herod

9.    What did these visitors do when they arrived?

a.  They had a snowball fight
b.  They found the child in a manger
c.  They dreamed of the bad man
d.  They sang Christmas carols

10.    Which is the most probable time of Christ's birth?

a.  December
b.  In the year "Zero"
c.  In the year "One"
d.  Five to seven BC

11.    The innkeeper...

a.  ...sent Joseph and Mary away because they were Jews
b.  ...was angry because they woke him from a sound sleep
c.  ...offered them a place in the stall
d.  ...isn't mentioned in the Bible

12.    Which of the following books of the Bible says the most about Christ's advent?

a.  Revelation
b.  Matthew
c.  Luke
d.  Isaiah

13.    When Christ was born...

a.  ...there was snow in Bethlehem
b.  ...there was snow in Jerusalem
c.  ...there was probably snow somewhere in Israel
d.  ...the Bible doesn't say

14.    How many brothers and sisters did Jesus have?

a.  Jesus had two brothers
b.  There were at least seven children
c.  Jesus was an only child
d.  The Bible doesn't say

15.    Where did Jesus live the shortest length of time?

a.  Bethlehem
b.  Nazareth
c.  Egypt
d.  Capernaum

16.    Why did Joseph and Mary take their newborn child to Jerusalem?

a.  because Herod wanted to kill him
b.  for Christ's baptism
c.  for Christ's circumcision
d.  for Christ's dedication service

17.    When was Jesus baptized?

a.  shortly after his birth
b.  when he was eight days old
c.  as a young lad of twelve
d.  a few years before his death

18.    As a youngster...

a.  ...Jesus was a good student
b.  ...Jesus stayed back
c.  ...Jesus confounded the teachers with his knowledge
d.  ...Jesus' parents were not happy about his behavior

19.    Who named the baby?

a.  An angel gave him his name before he was born
b.  Joseph named him
c.  He received his name at 8 days of age
d.  The prophet Isaiah gave him his name

20.    How well do you think you did on this test? (Read instructions again!)

a.  I believe I received at least 75 of the 150 possible points
b.  I think I have 50 to 70 points
c.  I probably only have 25 to 45 points
d.  I doubt if I got more than 20 points

You get 5 points for this question too - if correct! 

Do not complete question 20 until you have graded yourself on the other nineteen questions. 


Answers to Christmas Quiz (READ ONLY AFTER COMPLETING QUIZ !!!

1.       The correct answer is "d"

According to Matthew 1:18-20, Joseph was not at all happy about Mary's pregnancy. He contemplated privately or secretly breaking their engagement or betrothal. He did not want to hurt Mary. Joseph brooded about the situation until he fell asleep and an angel appeared to him in a dream. Webster’s Dictionary defines "brood" as follows: "to think anxiously or moodily upon, to ponder". If you marked "c", please read further. I am aware of the NIV translation, which uses the word "divorce". It is a matter of dispute among many theologians, but my research has not turned up anything that would justify the NIV translation "divorce" in this verse. While it is true that a betrothal in New Testament times was taken much more seriously than today’s "engagement", it was still not a marriage. A marriage was and still is in most if not all countries and cultures a formal, public declaration of commitment, whereas the betrothal or engagement is a declaration of intent. Elsewhere in scriptures, only a legally or publicly recognized marriage could be divorced. The breaking of an engagement could be carried out privately, as Joseph contemplated, but not the divorce of a marriage. If a betrothal actually can be divorced (I leave that up to the reader’s discernment!), then "c" could be allowed as a correct answer (possible ten points if you got them both!).

2.      The correct answer is "b"

According to Matthew 1:25, they did not lead a normal married life until after the birth of Christ. Mary left Joseph when she made an extended visit with her cousin Elizabeth, mother of John the Baptist (Luke 1:39 and 56). I warned you about those trick questions!

3.     The correct answer is "b"

Not King Herod, but Augustus made the decree mentioned in Luke 2:1-4. According to the genealogies of Matthew 1 and Luke 3, both Joseph and Mary were descendants of King David, whose birthplace was Bethlehem. They were related not only to King David, but also to THE KING OF KINGS (Joseph indirectly through David’s lineage).

4.       The correct answer is "d"

The Bible doesn't say how Joseph and Mary got to Bethlehem. All other answers are "Christmas card theology"!

5.       The correct answer is "b"

This idea is taken from the writings of Isaiah who wrote, "The ox knows his master, the donkey his owner's manger, but Israel does not know, my people do not understand" (Isaiah 1:3).Since it is Christmas and we want everyone to live peaceably, "d" may also be considered correct. If you checked both, you get ten points even though that would be a contradiction!

6.       The correct answer is "a"

The shepherds first saw a solitary angel, who was soon joined by a heavenly host (army). The Greek word used here means “army”. This angelic army “praised God, saying...”  The only reference to angels singing is found in Revelation 15:3, where they are apparently included in those who sing the song of Moses. Revelation 8 has them blowing trumpets.  The NIV also mentions angels singing in Rev. 5:12, but the Greek word is lego, which means speaking. I could have used the word “heavenly host”, but then the test would be too easy. People would think they know it all and go on believing that a host is actually a choir.

7.     The correct answer is "c"

The Bible does not say that they were kings, nor that there were three of them, although three gifts are mentioned. This is an ancient tradition of the (Roman Catholic) Church, which even gives them names and racial origins. Roots for this tradition can be found in Isaiah 49:7-12 and 60:3-6.  One person who took this quiz, contended that if I allowed for two possibilities in question 5 (based upon an Old Testament passage), then I should be fair enough to allow it here. You give an inch and they take a mile! Like the Psalmist of Psalm 119:99-100, some students have more understanding than all their teachers and “understand more than the ancients”.  If you are one of those “die-hards”, I’ll give you credit for “b” and “c” just because I am a nice guy!

Many Christians argue that “magi” refers to astrologers. This is only partially true. Not all who studied stars were astrologers. I don’t know where the notion originated, that ancient students of the stars were always “astrologers” and that we have “astronomers” only in modern times, but it seems that only Christians perpetuate the idea! Modern astronomers are often amazed at the knowledge that ancient civilizations displayed in the science of stars.

The Bible account seems to indicate that these men were serious students of the stars. This is not surprising if our visitors were Chaldeans (as most theologians suppose). Large areas of Chaldea or Babylon are desert. If one has to choose between studying  sand by the heat of day, or stars in the cool of the night, I suppose the decision would not be too difficult to make.

Now, do you still contend that men can find Christ through astrology?

 8.     The correct answer is "a" (See “Comments and Explanations” below before you get angry!)

 9.     The correct answer is "c"

According to Matthew 2:9-12, they dreamed of Herod, who was obviously a very bad man. Only the shepherds are reported to have visited the stall. (See “Comments and Explanations” at end of this quiz!)

10.    The correct answer is "d"

This is the only question that cannot be answered from the Bible, but you should be aware of the fact, that our calendar is not correct.

Jesus was born approximately five to seven years BC (which means “Before Christ” - an impossibility, but human beings have the craziest notions, which this test proves). The error arose when the "Christian" calendar was being created by Pope Gregory. The Bible's references to Jesus being "in his thirties" were misunderstood to mean he was exactly thirty years old.  Thus, when they backdated the date of his birth from the known date of his crucifixion, they miscalculated. Christ had to be born before Herod's death in 4 BC. The dates of Quinius or Cyrenius are 6 or 7 AD. Some experts claim that the Greek word “first” in Luke 2:2 could be translated “before”. This would indicate that the registration took place before the one of Quinius.

11.    The correct answer is "d"

The Bible mentions an inn, but not the innkeeper (Luke 2:6)!

12.    The correct answer is "d"

More is written about the coming of the Christ in the book of Isaiah than in all four gospels together. It is possible that the book of Psalms should receive this honor. There are quite a few messianic Psalms, but “Advent” can also refer to Christ’s second coming, so Isaiah still wins.

13.     The correct answer is "c"

Jeremiah wrote "Does the snow of Lebanon ever vanish from its rocky slopes?" (Jer. 18:14) and there is a similar verse in Isaiah 55:10. The peak of Mount Hermon glistens with perpetual snow. 

Some argue that climatic changes have taken place in the thousands of years since these words were written. This may be true in modern times (I haven’t checked it out), but I have been assured that this was still the case when Jesus was born. In no way can “d” be allowed! I hear someone saying, “That is just plain not fair!”  Hey, did I say this test was fair?

14.    The correct answer is "b", but “a” is also correct (“two brothers”) because I didn’t say “only two”.

Matthew 13:55-56 mentions four brothers and at least two sisters of Jesus. The Bible doesn’t give the exact number, but “d” is incorrect unless you can prove “a” and “b” to be wrong. Agreed?

15.    The correct answer is "a"

Jesus lived longer times in Nazareth and Capernaum. Many believe that Joseph died sometime before the wedding of Cana, after which the family apparently moved to Capernaum. The stay in Bethlehem was less than 40 days (compare Luke 2:22; 39 and Leviticus 12:4). See comments at end for further clarification.

16.    The correct answer is "d"

See Luke 2:22-23. The circumcision took place on the eighth day and Mary would not have been allowed to enter the temple area before the 40 days of purification had passed.

17.    The correct answer is "d"

Jesus was baptized by John about three years before his crucifixion.

18.     The correct answers are "a,b,c,d"

Read Luke 2:40-52 and you will see that this is true!

19.    The correct answers are again "a,b,c,d"

Read Matthew 1:21-25; Luke 2:21 and Isaiah 7:14!

20.    Congratulations if you got these five points!


Here are two more questions for you (sorry, no credit!)

1.    Which modern song is most closely related to the angel's message to the shepherds?

a. "Silent Night" 
b. "Jingle Bells" 
c. "Don't Worry, Be Happy!" 
d. "O Tannenbaum"

The angels’ message to the shepherds was "Fear not, for we bring you tidings of great joy!" That is pretty close to "Don't Worry, Be Happy!", don't you think?

2.    Which Christmas symbols have a biblical connection to Christ?

a. Gifts
b. Wreath
c. Candles
d. Christmas tree (Tannenbaum)

ALL THESE SYMBOLS OF CHRISTMAS CAN BE FOUND IN THE BIBLE!

GIFTS

The wise men brought gifts to Jesus and Christ is God's gift to men. Unfortunately, people seem only interested in what THEY receive for Christmas and show little desire for that which might give JESUS a happy birthday.

WREATHS

Faithful believers receive "an incorruptible crown" (I Corinthians 9:25), which is actually a reference to the victor’s wreath commonly presented to winners of athletic events.  Other references to this can be found in I Thessalonians 2:19; II Timothy 4:8; James 1:12; I Peter 5:4. According to Revelation 4:10, we will lay our wreaths (trophies) at the feet of Jesus. The way many people act at Christmas time reminds one more of the crown associated with Christ’s death: the crown of thorns

CANDLES

Jesus is the “Light of the world”. John wrote, “In him was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not“ (John 1:4-5). The word “comprehended” could be better translated “received” or “accepted”. If we stop to consider this for a moment, that is a scientific impossibility! There is no darkness which cannot be penetrated by the light of the smallest candle, yet wicked men manage to shut out the brightest light which ever shone in this world and prefer to remain in their darkness!

Christians too, are to be light for the world. Our light is not to be hidden or „kept under a bushel” (Matthew 5:14). Man’s most noble attempt to live without the light of God can be compared to a painter, who mixes all his colors together in order to get the most brilliant color. But that color would be black! With light, all colors mixed together make white! Joy and sorrow, success and failure, giving and receiving, sickness and health, living and dying are all part of life. Without Christ, what frustration and gloom! In Christ, the eternal Light of the world, what glory and hope!

TANNENBAUM or EVERGREEN

The prophet Hosea (14:9) compares the Lord to a green fir tree (Martin Luther’s translation: “Tannenbaum”). Christ is often compared to a tree or vine (Isaiah 11:1-10; John 15:1-8; Rev. .2:14 and 19). During the Feast of the Tabernacles, the Israelites took branches and built temporary huts. They stayed in these shelters for the duration of the feast. It was about the time of this feast when Jesus was born in a stall and laid in the manger.

In II Kings 16:4, the prophet of the Lord accuses the king and nation of sacrificing to idols “under every green tree”. This is an apt description of the Christmas celebration in many families!  Paul wrote that materialism is in essence just plain idolatry (Ephesians 5:5 “..covetous man, who is an idolater”; Colossians 3:5 “...covetousness, which is idolatry”; I Corinthians 10:7 Neither be ye idolaters, as were some of them; as it is written, The people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play”). On the way to Golgotha, Jesus said to his followers, “For if they do these things in a green tree, what shall be done in the dry?” (Luke 23:31)

The prophet Amos could have been describing many modern westerners, considering the frivolity with which they celebrate Christmas.  "I hate, I despise your religious feasts (Christmas holidays); I cannot stand your assemblies (Christmas programs). Even though you bring me burnt offerings and grain offerings (Christmas dinner and cookies), I will not accept them. Though you bring choice fellowship offerings (Christmas gifts), I will have no regard for them. Away with the noise of your songs (Christmas carols)! I will not listen to the music of your harps (Christmas concerts) ...You have lifted up the shrine of your king (Santa Claus), the pedestal of your idols (Christmas tree), the star of your god -- which you made for yourselves (Christmas lights).” (Amos 5:20-27)

COMMENTS AND EXPLANATIONS ON THE QUIZ

Wow, did I stir up a wasp nest with question Nr. 8! Some who have taken the quiz were so angry about my desecration of their manger scenes, that they didn’t even bother to look up the Bible passages I gave them (see below). A few argued that the holy family didn’t return to Nazareth until they got back from Egypt. Others claimed that the “house” where the wise men found Jesus was also in Bethlehem. It seems more difficult to get the family out of Bethlehem than it was for them to find a room in the town’s inns.

How did the wise men (this term is acceptable, for wise men still seek Jesus!) know that a king had been born in Israel? We know that they saw a star, but how did they recognize the special significance of that particular star?

The wise men were obviously familiar with the one yet unfulfilled prophecy of a famous Babylonian prophet, Balaam (or Bileam).

In Numbers 21, we find Israel wandering through the desert because the people listened to faithless spies instead of Joshua and Caleb. In their ensuing quest for food and water, they wander from one place to another, gradually moving northward. As they approach the countries of Moab and Ammon, Moses requests permission to pass through these kingdoms, but their kings refused.

Because God had warned Moses not to declare war against these nations (God gave Esau a specific territorial inheritance just as he had given Canaan to Israel -Deuteronomy 2:9-29), Israel circled around and even paid for all the food and water needed for their journey.

After this, Israel sent messengers from its camp in Jahaz to the king of the Amorites in Hesbon (about 20 miles distant). Moses requested permission to pass through his land just as he had requested of Moab and Ammon. He even made reference to the fact, that their journey around these countries was without incident and that they had even purchased food and water. But the Amorite king also refused to allow their passage through his territory (Deut. 2:26-37). This time, Israel declared war and easily defeated the Amorites. Deuteronomy 2:34 reports that the entire population was wiped out! The region of the Amorites had at one time belonged to Moab (Numbers 21:25-30).

When King Og of Basan heard of this victory, he feared that he would be next and sent his armies to fight Israel. He probably surmised that Israel would be weak and tired after the battle against the Amorites. But his plan didn’t work and Og experienced the same fate as the Amorites.

Although Israel had already passed around his territory without incident, Balak, King of Moab now began to fear that his new neighbor could seek revenge for his inhospitable treatment. The people he had once viewed as peaceful Nomads, were now seen as a powerful and dangerous threat. Balak felt compelled to declare war on Israel, but being a very religious (superstitious) man, he first sought the help of a renowned sorcerer named Balaam.

Chaldea or Babylon (now Iran and Iraq) was famous for its sorcerers, astronomers and astrologers. Balaam lived and prophesied about 1400 years before Christ in Pethor on the Euphrates River. According to Nahum 1:11, Balaam was actually from Nineveh. The word “Pethor” means “sorcerer” or “diviner”. Perhaps this passage should be rendered,  ”...sent to the city of sorcery, which lies on the Euphrates River”). It is possible that the Edomite king was Balaam’s brother, whose territory was to the south of Moab and north of Midean (Genesis 36:32). The names Mideonite and Moabite were often used interchangeably (see Num. 22:7, 31:2 and 25:1-6). The Moabite king kept Mideanite priests as his advisors, and it was perhaps these who referred him to Balaam.

Whatever the case may have been, Balak called for Balaam to curse the Israelites (Numbers 22-24). Balaam was warned by God in a dream not to go, but Balak insisted (22:12). He believed that Balaam was holding out for more money, so he sent other messengers, offering to pay whatever Balaam should demand. Isn’t it amazing, the extent that some people will go to, in order to protect their health, wealth and lives when they are not even in danger?   Unbelievers are usually superstitious and see everything through these spectacles. He who doesn’t fear God, fears everything and everyone.

After an eventful journey which involved a talking donkey (see my study, “The Donkey that Talked”), Balaam finally arrived in Moab. But to the utter chagrin of the Moabite king, the famous Chaldean prophet could only bring forth blessings for Israel. After several futile attempts to curse Israel, Balak commanded Baalam to cease his prophesies and return home. But God told Balaam to prophecy just one more time. This time he foretold the appearance of an unusual star, which would announce the birth of a special ruler in Israel (Numbers 24:17).

The appearance of a new or different star alone would not likely have in itself provided sufficient reason for the wise men to set out on their long journey to Jerusalem. They were undoubtedly familiar with the yet unfulfilled prophecy of another famous Chaldean prophet, Belteshazzar, better known to us as Daniel. It was acclaimed of both Baalam and Daniel, that all their prophecies came to pass (Numbers 22:6 and Daniel 6:3). Daniel lived about 800 years after Baalam and foretold the exact time in which that special Jewish monarch would arrive on the scene. He even prophesied that this special prince would be executed without a fair trial. (Daniel 9:24-26).

Six centuries after Daniel and fourteen centuries after Baalam, the Chaldean astronomers or "wise men" of Matthew's gospel saw a special star and concluded that it had an important significance. Perhaps they searched for clues in the gigantic collection of more than 100,000 clay tablets that were stored in Nineveh. At least 30,000 of these still exist, most of them in a British museum. Many of the tablets have to do with observations of the stars. The wise men may also have had access to Daniel’s writings. After recognizing that the only unfulfilled prophecies of their two most famous prophets coincided exactly, the wise men set out on their long journey (about 600 miles) to Jerusalem, where they fully expected to find a newborn prince in the palace of  King Herod the Great.

"And when the fullness of time was come, God sent forth his Son..." Galatians 4:4

The arrival of the wise men in Jerusalem did not go unnoticed. Their query about a newborn king of the Jews caused no small stir in the king's palace and also in the city. You see, the wise men were not the only ones who were familiar with Old Testament prophecy. Jewish leaders and residents of Jerusalem, including the aged Simeon and Hanna, expected the imminent arrival of the promised Messiah (Matthew 2:3; Luke 2:25-40). Joseph of Arimithea expected the Messiah (Mark 15:43) and Luke 3:15 declares that the people of Israel were in general expectation of the Christ, wondering if John the Baptist could be the promised Messiah. It is reported that leading Jews sent Levites and priests to Bethany near the Jordan River to investigate this possibility (compare Malechai 4:5; Matthew 11:14; 17:11-13; John 1:19-21).

When the wise men told King Herod that they had seen “his” star (i.e. of the newborn prince) in the East, he took this news very seriously ("Even the devils believe and tremble!" - James 2:19). Herod called all the leading theologians into his palace for consultation. Gamaliel, the Apostle Paul’s famous teacher (see my special study on Gamaliel), was probably among their number. In fact, Gamaliel must have also been in Bethlehem, for he too was of David’s lineage. Perhaps he slept in a comfortable room of the inn while his donkey witnessed the birth of the Messiah in the stall! The Chief Priests and Scribes told King Herod that according to Micah 5:1, the Messiah was to be born in Bethlehem. Herod sent the wise men to this town with instructions to report back to him on their findings (Matthew 2:1-8). He was so upset about the failure of the wise men to report back, that he ordered the slaughter of all male infants, two years old and younger (historians estimate the number between 25-100).

The wise men had hardly set out for Bethlehem, when they again saw the star that had appeared to them in their homeland (The star did NOT lead them to Jerusalem as some assume (Matthew 2:1 and 9-11). The wise men did NOT obey Herod, but obeyed God instead -- as wise men still do! (Matthew 2:9-12)  The Bible doesn’t name the town or place where the Magi found Christ other than mentioning a “house”, but it certainly was NOT in Bethlehem. Jesus was circumcised when eight days old (either in Bethlehem or Nazareth). The Bible DOES say that Jesus was dedicated in the temple of Jerusalem after the period of purification (40 days according to Leviticus 12:4) and that the family “returned to Nazareth” (Luke 2:21-22 & 39). They also returned to Nazareth after the trip to Egypt (Matthew 2:23). Consider how much time it would have taken for the Magi to get to Jerusalem (about 600 miles) and for Joseph and Mary to get to Egypt and back (at least 200 miles).

Some have argued against my contention, stating that Jesus would not have been in danger if he had been in Nazereth. Only the children in the surrounds of Bethlehem were killed. There would have been no need for Joseph and Mary to flee to Egypt.

Let me first state that Jesus was never in any real danger! Many attempts were made on his life beginning with Herod, continuing with satan himself during the wilderness temptation (Matthew 4) and throughout his ministry (Luke 9:51, John 7:6-8 and John 8:59). When in seeming danger, Jesus declared that his time “was not yet come.”  Being omnipotent, God could easily have kept Jesus safe from Herod’s baby-killing henchmen. Don’t you think that the army of angels which appeared to the shepherds could have warded off Herod’s soldiers? Jesus said at his crucifixion, that he could summon a legion of angels (12,000) to rescue him from the cross, but his time had now come. Jesus prayed to his Father in heaven, “Not my will, but thine be done”.

One reason Joseph and Mary fled to Egypt was that scripture should be fulfilled (Matthew 2:15). Another reason was that God probably wanted Joseph and Mary to live peacefully with their baby. Can you imagine what it would be like for a nursing mother to be constantly anxious for her baby’s life? Joseph was fearful even after God told them that there was no more threat of death (Matthew 2:20-22). Our loving heavenly Father protected them from the anxiety and stress of a fugitive life by sending them to Egypt and later to Nazareth. He even provided them with gold (from the wise men) which would suffice for their travel expenses.

Herod had all male children in the surrounds of Bethlehem, two years old and younger killed "...according to the TIME which he had diligently inquired of the wise men.". This slaughter obviously took place long after the birth of Jesus. Even if Joseph and Mary had been living in Nazareth, they certainly would have been struck with terror at the very thought of such a vicious attack designed to kill their special child. Herod was a hard calculator, who didn’t give up easily and left nothing to chance (see my special study on Edomites). "Herod will seek the young child to destroy him." (Matthew 2:13).  He was certain to learn sooner or later that his attempt to kill the newborn prince had not been successful! Even though further attempts would also be doomed to failure, Joseph and Mary were human and God spared them of this stress.

Incidentally, several have argued that Mary could not have entered the temple even after her purification, since women were forbidden to enter the temple.

Wow! No wonder Jesus admired the poor widow of Mark 12:41-43, who threw her “mite” into the temple treasury, apparently from outside the wall! She must have had a fantastic aim! The aged Hanna would have to have been a terrible sinner, for she “departed not from the temple, but served God with fastings and prayers night and day” (Luke 2:37).

Seriously, I do not pretend to be an expert on the temple of Herod, which stood at the time of Christ. The difficulty probably arises from our own concept of church buildings. The term "temple" ("sanctuary" - holy area) sometimes referred to the central structure, consisting of the holy place and Holy of Holies. This was divided by the veil which was rent at the crucifixion. Then there was an inner court where only priests were permitted. There was also the “greater”, “outer”, “upper” or “peoples” court, a court of the Gentiles and a women’s court. When people spoke of the temple, they often referred to the entire temple complex which measured approximately 300 by 500 yards. Only the High Priest was allowed in the Holy of Holies and other areas were reserved for priests or men only, but women were allowed in some parts of this temple area. Mary was definitely there, for the aged and godly Simeon spoke to her in the temple and blessed her together with Joseph (Luke 2:33-34).

From the cradle to the cross and from the cross to the crown, Jesus Christ is LORD! Some day everyone of us will stand before Jesus Christ and be called to account of our lives (II Corinthians 5:10). If you have not yet accepted God’s gift of salvation through Jesus Christ, then I invite you to take this time to kneel before him and pray, asking His forgiveness and yielding your life to Him. Give God YOUR life as a present that really pleases Him (Romans 12:1-2). You will experience the most wonderful Christmas of your life and the angels will have reason to celebrate your new birth (Luke 15:7)!

Have a blessed Christmas and may you be resolved to study your Bible more carefully in the New Year!

Quiz and comments by Ralph Harvey

Questions, comments and criticism are welcome! I still have much to learn!

November, 2003