The Time Before Jesus Was Twelve Years Old

 Isaiah 7:14-16

 14 "Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, a virgin will be with child and bear a son, and she will call His name Immanuel.

 15 "He will eat curds and honey at the time He knows enough to refuse evil and choose good.

 16 "For before the boy will know enough to refuse evil and choose good, the land whose two kings you dread will be forsaken.
NAS

 

INTRODUCTION

Understanding Jesus in his pre-adolescent years

Isaiah’s prophecy of the birth of the Messiah offers us unusual insight and an explanation why Jesus, as a child in preadolescence, did not know enough to refuse evil, and choose good.  Jesus was not guilty of willful disobedience and sin.  Rather, as a child he was subject to the normal feelings, passions, and discipline that all children encounter.  Jesus needed the same godly parenting by Joseph and Mary as did his siblings.  In his prepubescent childhood, Jesus needed to be trained and disciplined to understand how to refuse what was evil, and choose what was good.

 

Jesus is not God, nor is he “God the Son,” as portrayed in the creeds of so-called Christendom.  He is the only begotten SON of God; he is a man (1 Timothy 2:5; John 8:40).  The scriptures teach Jesus was made like his brethren in ALL ways, and this includes his childhood.

 

Hebrews 2:17-18 Therefore, He had to be made like His brethren in all things, so that He might become a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people.  For since He Himself was tempted in that which He has suffered, He is able to come to the aid of those who are tempted.  NASU

 

Jesus was tempted as a man.   The first time Jesus can be observed in scripture being “tempted” was in the wilderness at age thirty after his baptism.

 

Luke 3:23 And when He began His ministry, Jesus Himself was about thirty years of age…  NAS

 

Matthew 4:1 Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.   NAS

 

God cannot be tempted, and He tempts no man.  Therefore…Jesus cannot be God.  In scripture, the apostle James, the very brother of Jesus, offers the best description of the connection between lust, temptation and sin.  An adult or teenage juvenile must come of age before grasping what it means to be carried away and enticed by his or her own lusts, then to conceive lust, and have it give birth to sin.

James 1:12-20

12 Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial; for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life, which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.

 

13 Let no one say when he is tempted, "I am being tempted by God"; for God cannot be tempted by evil, and He Himself does not tempt anyone.

 

14 But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust.

 

15 Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death.

 

16 Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren.

 

17 Every good thing bestowed and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation, or shifting shadow.

 

18 In the exercise of His will He brought us forth by the word of truth, so that we might be, as it were, the first fruits among His creatures.

 

19 This you know, my beloved brethren. But let everyone be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger;

 

20 for the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God.

NAS

 

In James 1:15 the Greek word translated as, “conceived,” is, “sullaboúsa.”  This Greek word sullaboúsa comes from two root words:

 

“Sun” = 4862  (pronounced “soon”) is a primary preposition denoting union; with or together (but much closer than NT:3326 or NT:3844), i.e. by association, companionship, process, resemblance, possession, instrumentality, addition, etc

 

The second Greek word that sullaboúsa is comprised of is, “lambano.”

 

“Lambano” = 2983  (pronounced as “lam-ban'-o”) is a prolonged form of a primary verb, which is use only as an alternate in certain tenses; to take (in very many applications, literally and figuratively [properly objective or active, to get hold of; whereas NT:1209 is rather subjective or passive, to have offered to one; while NT:138 is more violent, to seize or remove]):

 

(Biblesoft's New Exhaustive Strong's Numbers and Concordance with Expanded Greek-Hebrew Dictionary. Copyright (c) 1994, Biblesoft and International Bible Translators, Inc.)

 

Thus the correct meaning of “conceived” in James 1:15 means literally, “taken hold of & in union together with,” or, “taking hold of, possessing and associating together in union with.”  James 1:15 would more properly read, “Then when lust has been taken hold of, possessed and united together with (in intimate association), it gives birth to sin…” The importance of this definition is to understand that a child, even Jesus, could not possibly comprehend this process, and is therefore incapable of “sin” (Greek = hamartían; meaning, “to miss the mark”) in this manner.

 

The context of James 1:12-20 begins with an admonition to the “man who perseveres under trial.”  The Greek word for “man” in James 1:12 is “aneér” and Strong’s defines this Greek word as, “a man; i.e. - an individual male.”  Thayer’s Greek Lexicon says with a reference to age, aneér distinguishes an adult man from a boy, as seen in Matthew 14:21.

 

The context of James 1:12-20 is an exhortation to adults, not children.  Children have not yet formulated the mental capacity to understand the dynamics of temptation.  God does not put an unrealistic demand on children, saying, “once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life.”

        

From a very early age children know the difference between right from wrong.  Their distinction of what is right and what is wrong is much different from that of an adult.  Children do, of course, have a conscience, and as they mature, their instinct tells them when they have done something wrong.  However, a child learns to distinguish right and wrong from the instructions given them by dad and mom.  For example, a child does not know it is wrong to play with a poisonous adder, and is promptly scolded by its parents if he or she gets near the deadly snake.  The scolding is for the child’s own well-being.

 

The conscience of children must be trained, and it is the godly responsibility of parents to guide and instruct them.  Children need help to differentiate between good and evil.

 

Children can memorize scripture, and are aware when they have violated their conscience.  They can and DO exert their will.  They are sometimes (even often) defiant, but not rebellious in the same manner as a teenager is.  Infants and toddlers have little or no concept of right and wrong.  Even their conscience is something that develops with age. 

 

The exact age of “accountability” may differ from one child to the next, but it is safe to say that adolescence would put each individual person squarely on the side of choice.  Character and commitment generally are seen as the moral distinctions between adolescents and children.  The tragic trend of school shootings, rape, gang-style initiation beatings and other horrific acts of violent criminal behavior, brought on by the immoral and amoral influences of our American society, are committed by teens, not prepubescent children.

 

The psychology of a very young child, such as a toddler, is characterized by glimpses of what he or she views mommy and daddy doing, and mimics as a consequence.  If either parent displays anger, or moodiness, then the child will do the same.  If the adults pout, or scream, or cry to get their way, the small child will imitate their behavior.  In this way children learn conduct, and often parents discipline their young children for being vociferous, when in actuality, the child is simply acting out what the parent has modeled for them!

 

On the other hand, a parent in tune with his or her children will strive to consistently model a morally blameless character for them.  Actions speak as loud, or even louder than words, and this is how little children learn to understand right and wrong.  By the time they become teens and adults their preadolescent concept of “right and wrong” develops into a realization of the difference between “good and evil.” 

 

This difference between a child’s concepts “right and wrong” and an adult’s concept “good and evil” is a simple rule of thumb for appreciating the age of accountability.  A child’s mind may think, “It is wrong to play in the street,” because mom and dad said so.  Another example of a child’s feelings or thought process when he or she considers stealing a candy bar at the local convenience store is, “I hope I don’t get caught, cuz I’ll be in big trouble.”  Their minds reason with childish naivety, even though they violate their conscience when they choose evil.

 

By comparison, a teen or adult has a developed perception, extending beyond the childlike meanderings of the consequence for stealing.  They KNOW it is EVIL to steal, and they KNOW ENOUGH to refuse the evil, or become a thief at heart.

The Woman’s Seed = The Seed Of Abraham

 

God the Father created the sperm cell in Mary’s ovary, and a fetus developed in her womb, and nine months later Jesus was born.  Though his conception was unique, Jesus’ birth was just like any other baby.  Many righteous men and women in Israel were anticipating the birth of their long-awaited Messiah, as was a very wicked king. 

 

To escape the murderous rampage of Herod the Great, who sought to kill all the Jewish males, two years of age and younger, Joseph and Mary took their baby Jesus, and instead of returning to their home in Nazareth, were forced into exile.  They hid in Egypt until Herod’s death in 4 B.C.  Other than this account of his childhood, little else is known about Jesus’ early life.

 

Jesus had other brothers and sisters, and Joseph and Mary, a righteous and blameless couple, did their best to raise him according to the commandments and statutes of the scripture.  God the Father handpicked Joseph and Mary to be the earthly parents of Jesus.  He knew they were blameless, and upright, fearing God, and keeping His commandments.  Joseph’s character is most notable, as seen by his compassionate and discerning treatment of Mary when she was found to be pregnant before they had any conjugal relations.

Matthew 1:18-25

18 Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place under these circumstances: When His mother Mary had been promised in marriage to Joseph, before they came together, she was found to be pregnant through the power of the Holy Spirit.

 

19 And her promised husband Joseph, being a just and upright man and not willing to expose her publicly and to shame and disgrace her, decided to repudiate and dismiss (divorce) her quietly and secretly.

 

20 But as he was thinking this over, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, descendant of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of (from, out of) the Holy Spirit.”

 

21 “She will bear a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus [the Greek form of the Hebrew Joshua, which means Savior], for He will save His people from their sins [that is, prevent them from failing and missing the true end and scope of life, which is God].”

 

22 “All this took place that it might be fulfilled which the Lord had spoken through the prophet,

 

23 Behold, the virgin shall become pregnant and give birth to a Son, and they shall call His name Emmanuel--which, when translated, means, God with us.” [Read Isaiah 7:14.]

 

24 Then Joseph, being aroused from his sleep, did as the angel of the Lord had commanded him: he took her to his side as his wife.

 

25 But he had no union with her as her husband until she had borne her firstborn Son; and he called His name Jesus.  Amplified Bible

 

Jesus followed in their footsteps, but had something unique that his siblings were lacking. 

 

God sent a message to Joseph through, “THE angel of the Lord.”  This is a very specific angel, seen throughout the OT.  The angel of the Lord (Yahweh) gives the impression of having a regal status, and the messages he delivers originate directly from Yahweh.  In fact, throughout the Old Testament scriptures that mention the angel of Yahweh, often show him speaking in the first person singular FOR Yahweh (e.g. – “Thus says Yahweh…”).  This royal messenger’s divine reassurance to Joseph, a righteous man, includes a reference to the text of Isaiah 7:14-14.

 

An interesting note, not related to this Bible study, is the fact that nowhere else in the entire New Testament scripture, including the gospels, is THE angel of the Lord ever mentioned again.  His role as Yahweh’s divine messenger seems to end with the procreation of Jesus.

 

Another interesting note is the distinct difference between the angel of the Lord, and the yet unborn Jesus.  Christian theologians have misrepresented the angel of Yahweh as being one and the same as the “Pre-Incarnate Christ” seen in the Old Testament.  This is false doctrine, originating from the doctrine of the Trinity, claiming there are three co-eternal persons of God that existed from eternity and Jesus is one of them, existing as the “Pre-Incarnate” Christ of the OT, who manifests himself as “the angel of the Lord.”

 

Unlike the popular theory foisted by the Christian church at large, Jesus did not leave his throne in heaven, and then, as the second person of the Trinity, dive down into the human race, and become a man.  Such a view is absurd, illogical, and creates confusion with regard to Jesus’ identity.  Matthew 1:24 distinctly proves the angel of Yahweh is completely separate in identity from Jesus, and further verifies that Jesus’ existence began at his conception in the womb of Mary, and NOT from all eternity.

 

Unfortunately it is necessary from time to time to expose false teaching, because it has warped and twisted the churches’ understanding of who Jesus is.  In fact, the purpose of this study is to help “un-learn” centuries of bogus theology, so we can know and understanding with clarity the Jesus we seek to imitate.

Below is a brief summary of the history of man and God’s dealing with him:

A.      From the beginning of creation, God makes man in HIS OWN image and likeness (Genesis 1:27 with Genesis 5:1), and gives him choice (free will; read Genesis 2:16).  He gives man freedom to "eat" (meaning of any tree except the tree of the knowledge of good & evil.  He gives solemn command to Adam, telling him in the day he eats of it, he will surely die (Genesis 2:17).  After God gives Adam this commandment, THEN God creates the woman (Genesis 2:18, 21-25). 

 

B.     The woman was created from Adam’s rib BEFORE they both sinned.  This is proof the genetic code was defiled through Adam’s chromosomes, not Eve’s.  After God put Adam to sleep, and took a rib from his side, and made the woman, Adam proclaimed, “This [creature] is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of a man.” (Genesis 2:23-24)  Since the woman was made from Adam’s own flesh, he was supposed to nourish and cherish and sanctify her, even as he did his very own flesh (Ephesians 5:31-33).  Adam was responsible to protect his wife from sin.  Instead, he stood by and watched as the serpent beguiled Eve, and then, to compound his disobedience, Adam partook of sin himself!

 

C.     Genesis 3:6 When the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was desirable to make one wise, she took from its fruit and ate; and she gave also to her husband WITH her, and he ate. NAS

 

D.     Man sins and abuses his choice.  Eve may have been beguiled, and certainly she sinned, but she originated FROM MAN, not the other way around.  She was bone of HIS bone, and flesh of HIS flesh, not the other way around.  Therefore Adam allowed his OWN FLESH to be defiled, bringing sin, disease, and death into the world.  Sin is a choice, as is righteousness. 

 

E.     God curses the ground because of what Adam did by listening to his wife and committing sin.  Because Adam failed to protect the “flesh of his own flesh (Eve), God cursed the ground, and to Adam He said, “Because you have listened and given heed to the voice of your wife and have eaten of the tree of which I commanded you, saying, ‘You shall not eat of it,’ the ground is under a curse because of you…” (Genesis 3:17). The word “ground” in Hebrew refers to more than just dirt.  Man was created from the dust of the earth, and was sown a natural body by the Creator Himself (Genesis 2:7 with 1 Corinthians 15: 45-49).  The ground that is cursed represents all living organisms and inanimate matter, including the genetic structure of human beings.  This begins Newton’s second law of thermodynamics.

 

F.      The second law of thermodynamics gives a precise definition of a property called entropy. Entropy can be thought of as a measure of how close a system is to equilibrium; it can also be thought of as a measure of the disorder in the system. The law states that the entropy—that is, the disorder—of an isolated system can never decrease. Thus, when an isolated system achieves a configuration of maximum entropy, it can no longer undergo change: It has reached equilibrium. Nature, then, seems to “prefer” disorder or chaos. Microsoft® Encarta® Reference Library 2002. © 1993-2001 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.

 

G.    Since Adam was physically and morally responsible for sin, his male gene could never regenerate a human species that was free from the chaos and disorder stated in the second law of thermodynamics.  God is a God of order, not disorder, and when He created Adam, He did so in perfect order. 1 Corinthians 14:33 states, “For is not a God of confusion and disorder but of peace and order...” From Adam’s transgression came chaos, disorder, enmity, and strife, seen from the jealous rage of Cain, when he killed his brother Abel (Genesis 4:1-16).  To summarize, Adam introduced sin and death into the world, and Cain executed the first murder, spilling the first human blood of a righteous man Abel.

 

H.     While the negative consequences of what happened in the garden have been widespread and far-reaching, God promised the woman (Eve) that her “seed” would eventually crush the head of the serpent that had beguiled her.  Only the Creator, who understands the way He created mankind, would be able to make such a promise.  God’s nature is such that He demands justice, and Adam’s seed would never produce an unblemished offspring.

 

I.        Man becomes corrupted, and is left to guide himself through his own “knowledge” of good and evil.  Finally, mankind became so corrupt, God was forced to destroy all but eight persons with a global flood (READ Genesis chapters 6 & 7). 

 

J.      After, the flood, a man named Abraham is born, and he becomes God’s friend.  So great is this man’s faith, that God makes a covenant with him, and promises Abraham that, through his “seed” will come a multitude of spiritual descendents greater than the sands of the sea.  In Abraham God sees hope for His creation, and knows He can eventually redeem the human race.  It will take just the right timing and circumstances, but a promise by God is made, and it cannot be broken.  The “seed” of Abraham is obviously not referring to the genetic, even though his son Isaac, and grandson Jacob would be given (by God) the same covenant promise.  Abraham’s “seed” was a seed of promise.  The Messiah would not come Abraham’s genetic loins through Joseph, the husband of Mary; nevertheless, it WOULD come from his genetic loins through Mary, cousin to Elizabeth, a descendent of Aaron.

 

Galatians 3:16, 19 Now the promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed. He does not say, "And to seeds," as referring to many, but rather to one, "And to your seed," that is, Christ…Why the Law then?  It was added because of transgressions, having been ordained through angels by the agency of a mediator, until the seed should come to whom the promise had been made. NAS

 

K.     After the covenant to Abraham and his descendents, God eventually gives man the Law through Moses, saying "if" you do this, I will do that.  The "if" means God knows what He WANTS man to do, but leaves some uncertainty with respect to the outcome of each individual person’s choice (i.e. - either obedience or disobedience).  Because of the chaotic effect of the fall, those who chose to walk in covenant with God needed to have His will spelled out.  Therefore God etched His commandments and statues in tablets of stone in order that man and women would be without excuse for understanding what His will is.  The Law itself did not make men righteous, or justified before God.  Rather, through the Law, men understood what sin was (Romans 3:20).  The remission of sin, for the purpose of gaining a clear conscience, could only come through the sacrifice of blood.   This seems rather grotesque, but because Adam’s disobedience brought death into the world, Jesus’ obedience to offer his blood (in a sacrificial death) would bring life to the world.   It is a law of the universe; for every action, there must be an equal and opposite reaction.

 

L.      Because God is dealing with fickle mankind, and cannot trust they will always choose to listen to and heed His voice of command, He formulates a plan to create the perfect man (so to speak); one who WILL obey, and one whom God CAN rely upon to obey His word every time.  God’s plan of redemption will not reverse the effects of physical death on the body, which is the consequence of man’s sin.  However, it WILL reverse the effect of death to man’s spirit, the consequence of one man’s obedience.  In order to do this, God must begin His plan, and bypass the genetic defect passed on to all men, because all men came from one bloodline…Adam (Acts 17:26).  By creating a unique and uncontaminated sperm cell, with the DNA structured so that only a male gene exists, God knows He has altered the inborn weakness of the human race passed on through Adam’s loins, radically increasing the likelihood of total obedience and compliance with His will by His son Jesus.  Unlike the thousands of tiny sperm cells that ordinarily compete with each other for the right to the female egg, God implanted only ONE SEED in a virgin, in order that there would be no room for error or random selection (so-called).  Gambling bookies would call this, “A long shot.”  But in God’s mind, it is a mathematical certainty…one seed, and only one only begotten son…Jesus.

 

M.    After his birth, and having been raised up and trained by his earthly parents, as an adult Jesus would need to be tempted and tested just as all other men, to prove he was worthy, and to qualify as being the spotless Lamb of God.  The fifth chapter of the Book of Romans best summarizes what happened:

 

Romans 5:12-6:1

12 Therefore, as sin came into the world through one man, and death as the result of sin, so death spread to all men; with no one being able to stop it or to escape its power because all men sinned.

 

13 To be sure sin was in the world before ever the Law was given, but sin is not charged to men's account where there is no law to transgress.

 

14 Yet death held sway from Adam to Moses the Lawgiver, even over those who did not themselves transgress a positive command as Adam did.  Adam was a type (prefigure) of the one who was to come in reverse; the former destructive, the latter saving. (See Genesis 5:5; 7:22; Deuteronomy 34:5.)

 

15 But God's free gift is not at all to be compared to the trespass; His grace is out of all proportion to the fall of man.  For if many died through one man's falling away (his lapse, his offense), much more profusely did God's grace and the free gift that comes through the undeserved favor of the one Man Jesus Christ abound and overflow to and for the benefit of many.

 

16 Nor is the free gift at all to be compared to the effect of that one man's sin.  For the sentence following the trespass of one man brought condemnation, whereas the free gift following many transgressions brings justification (an act of righteousness).

 

17 For if because of one man's trespass (lapse, offense) death reigned through that one, much more surely will those who receive God's overflowing grace (unmerited favor) and the free gift of righteousness putting them into right standing with Himself reign as kings in life through the one Man Jesus Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed one).

 

18 Well then, as one man's trespass, one man's false step and falling away led to condemnation for all men, so one Man's act of righteousness leads to acquittal and right standing with God and life for all men.

 

19 For just as by one man's disobedience (failing to hear, heedlessness, and carelessness) the many were constituted sinners, so by one Man's obedience the many will be constituted righteous (made acceptable to God, brought into right standing with Him).

 

20 But then Law came in, only to expand and increase the trespass; making it more apparent and exciting opposition.  But where sin increased and abounded, grace (God's unmerited favor) has surpassed it and increased the more and superabounded,

 

21 So that, just as sin has reigned in death, so grace (His unearned and undeserved favor) might reign also through righteousness (right standing with God) which issues in eternal life through Jesus Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed one) our Lord.

AMP

 

N.     In the plan God formulates to redeem mankind He inspires the historical writings of His prophets, He gives a prophetic glimpse into HIS future plan, with a defined purpose for how He will use it.  We refer to this written plan as the books of the Old Testament.  This prophetic plan includes a deliverer, a messiah if you will, and God knows it will be a man created in the womb of a virgin.  God knows He must bypass the genetic defect in Adam that makes man's flesh so weak.

 

O.    In the Law and the Prophets (i.e. - Old Testament writings) God includes many messianic facts in the inspired record (writings).  In so doing, He inspires the OT in such a manner that it will speak directly to the heart of His future (yet uncreated) only begotten son Jesus.

 

P.     Jesus is created in the womb of a virgin, and the "seed" (sperm cell) God implants is divinely manufactured.  In bypassing the genetic code of Adam, and creating a sperm cell that is not tainted with whatever defect has caused mankind to be more prone and vulnerable to yielding to sin, God procreates His only begotten son using the ovaries of a virgin (Mary) who is undefiled by the sinful Adamic male.  It was THROUGH ADAM that sin was passed to mankind, not through Eve.  This does not imply “original sin,” as the Calvinist or Roman Catholic would purport.  Rather, it proves that after the fall of Adam in the garden, because of the way God designed him, Adam would genetically pass on this defect to his descendents.  This is clearly seen in the narrative of Cain, who slew his own brother Abel.  In the generational record of Adam, we see that Seth was then created, not in God’s likeness and image, but rather in Adam’s.

 

Genesis 5:1-3 THIS IS the book (the written record, the history) of the generations of the offspring of Adam. When God created man, He made him in the likeness of God.  He created them male and female and blessed them and named them both Adam [Man] at the time they were created.  When Adam had lived 130 years, he had a son in his own likeness, after his image; and he named him Seth.  AMP

 

Q.    Jesus is born in the time of Herod the Great, one of "two kings" who lived at the time when the land of the Jews was forsaken (Isaiah 7:14-16).  The historical setting of Isaiah's prophecy also fits with the time of Jesus.  In Isaiah's days, before the exile and captivity, Israel's children ate "curds and honey" up until age twelve (12) because Israel's crops had been destroyed.  Ordinarily, Israel's children only ate curds and honey to wean a child from feeding at the breast, between ages of 2-5 or so.  But Assyria had razed their crops, so Israel’s children ate curds and honey until age 12 in Isaiah's days.  All they had was what the herds produced (curds for protein) and wild honey.

 

R.    Jesus reads Isaiah, his favorite and most often quoted OT book.  He comes upon Isaiah 7:14-16.  What does he think?  He is not eating literal curds and honey, but as he reads verse 16 "For before the boy will know enough to refuse evil and choose good, the land whose two kings you dread will be forsaken," Jesus realizes this is referring to him as a toddler at the time when Herod the Great killed all the newborn in Israel by trying to eliminate he who would be called King of the Jews.  The first of the "two kings" in Jesus’ day was Herod the Great.  Jesus was about two years of age when, according to Isaiah 7:16, "the land whose two kings you dread will be forsaken."  In fact, Matthew 2:12-27 verifies that the land of the Jews was forsaken during this time, after which Herod the Great died shortly thereafter, and his son Herod inherited the throne.

 

S.     Jesus realizes he would have been about age twelve if he actually lived in Isaiah's time.  He knew Isaiah 7:14-16 spoke of his birth because verse 14 says, "Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, a virgin will be with child and bear a son, and she will call His name Immanuel."  Where do we find in the gospels a passage indicating when Jesus first ate the milk (curds) of the word, and enjoyed its sweetness (honey)?  Wasn't it in Jerusalem at age twelve?

 

Luke 2:42, 46-52 And when he became twelve, they went up there according to the custom of the Feast... And it came about that after three days they found him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the teachers, both listening to them, and asking them questions.  And all who heard him were amazed at his understanding and his answers. And when they saw him, they were astonished; and his mother said to him, "Son, why have you treated us this way?  Behold, your father and I have been anxiously looking for you."  And he said to them, "Why is it that you were looking for me?  Did you not know that I had to be in my Father's house?"  And they did not understand the statement, which he had made to them.  And he went down with them, and came to Nazareth; and he continued in subjection to them; and his mother treasured all these things in her heart.  And Jesus kept increasing in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men. NAS

 

T.     At age twelve, having reached adolescence, and having been raised by godly parents to identify with the Law and the Prophets, understanding what God had in store for him, Jesus is ready to start reading the scriptures in a more personal way.  Note in Luke's account Mary's response to Jesus in the temple, "Son, why have you treated us this way?  Behold, your father and I have been anxiously looking for you."  She obviously had treated him more like a child than a teenager up to this point.  At the same time, Joseph probably had been teaching Jesus who his REAL Father was all along, but it took the adolescent hormones and mental growth process for Jesus as a teen to think independently and to declare to Mary, ""Why is it that you were looking for me?  Did you not know that I had to be in my Father's house?”

 

U.    What is even more interesting, and verifies age twelve was the time when Jesus came to, "know enough to refuse evil and choose good," (Isaiah 7:16) is what is said about Joseph and Mary's interpretation of the account in the temple, "And they did not understand the statement which he had made to them."  THEY (Joseph & Mary) did not understand, but Jesus' time had come; he was now old enough to comprehend his Father's message to him contained in the OT scriptures.

 

V.      It was AFTER age twelve that, "Jesus kept increasing in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men."  He then saw the passages like Genesis 1:26 in a whole different light.  This age is when he truly read the OT as instructions and teachings from his Father God.  He understood his Father (God) was instructing him to make man back into the likeness and image of God. 

 

If the OT writings were given by God to His son Jesus, and were for his admonition, then they are not unlike the NT writings, given to us for our admonition. 

 

Is age twelve the age before one cannot sin?  At approximately age twelve Jesus knew “enough” (Isaiah 7:14-16) to refuse evil and choose good.  This is a ballpark figure, but mainly speaking of adolescence.  Before the teen years, children are cleansed by the chastisement of the parents.  He or she is told what to do, or not do, receiving direct parental consequences either way.  Perhaps this is what is meant in the following scripture:

 

1 Corinthians 7:14 For the unbelieving husband is set apart (separated, withdrawn from heathen contamination, and affiliated with the Christian people) by union with his consecrated (set-apart) wife, and the unbelieving wife is set apart and separated through union with her consecrated husband.  Otherwise your children would be unclean (unblessed heathen, outside the Christian covenant), but as it is they are prepared for God [pure and clean].  AMP

 

At age twelve Jesus became adolescent and he developed his own independent thinking process like all adolescents throughout time, and could therefore see his Father's instructions written directly to him in the OT from a more discerning and intelligent perspective than a child could.

 

When, at age twelve Jesus reads Isaiah 7:16, "For before the boy will know enough to refuse evil and choose good, the land whose two kings you dread will be forsaken," he realizes this refers to the time during and after Herod the Great killed all the newborn in Israel trying to eliminate he who would be called King of the Jews.

 

The first of the "two kings" in Isaiah 7:14-16 was Herod the Great.  Jesus was about two years of age when, according to Isaiah 7:16, "the land whose two kings you dread will be forsaken."  Matthew 2:12-27 verifies Joseph and Mary forsook the land of the Jews as they fled from Herod the Great during this time.  They traveled as far as Egypt, which was apparently outside of Herod’s ruling jurisdiction.  Herod the Great died shortly thereafter, and his son Herod inherited the throne.

 

When Herod the Great killed the 2 year olds, Jesus, Mary and Joseph had forsaken the land and went to Egypt.  Jesus at 2 years of age was not capable of sin by any measure.  The point in Isaiah 7:16 is BEFORE the boy knows enough to refuse evil and choose the good, the land is forsaken, not after. 

 

Isaiah also mentioned Jesus as eating “curds and honey” AT THE TIME HE KNOWS to do good and refuse the evil.  This is the time when he begins to understand the word of God, which is symbolized in the Law, the Prophets, Psalms, and Proverbs by four food groups...milk, meat, honey and bread.  At age twelve Jesus is asking questions of the scribes in the temple; this is the first and only childhood record of him.  It is safe to say, at this time, that Jesus is eating the milk (curds) and honey of the word of God.

 

Joseph & Mary Discern Isaiah’s Prophetic Words

Isaiah 7:14-16

14 Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel.

15 Curds and honey He shall eat, that He may know to refuse the evil and choose the good.

16 For before the Child shall know to refuse the evil and choose the good, the land that you dread will be forsaken by both her kings.

NKJV

Isaiah's prophecy takes place during the time the virgin conceives.  In fact, as stated earlier, Isaiah 7:14 is the very passage of scripture quoted to Joseph by the angel of the Lord when he came to bring Yahweh’s message to him by revealing Mary was pregnant with the Christ of Israel.

 

Joseph, being a righteous man, and chosen by God to raise His only begotten son, would assuredly be a man of the word.  He would not only be familiar with the context of Isaiah 7:14-16, but after this angelic visitation, he most likely went to his synagogue, and either read about, or inquired as to the meaning of the passage.

 

As Joseph read, pondered and discussed the meaning of this passage with his beloved wife Mary, mother of the child, the meaning and implications of Isaiah 7:14-16 must have seemed intriguing, and staggering.

 

Isaiah's prophecy could be perceived from a few different angles:

 

1.      His name “Immanuel” would not be the surname, because the angel of the Lord told him the Christ child would be called, “Jesus.”  In Hebrew, the word, “Immanuel,” does NOT mean, “God with us,” as has commonly been mistranslated in our English Bibles.  Immanuel comes from two primary root words, and its literal meaning is, “overshadowed with strength.”  Joseph could only ponder and speculate what this meant, but as time passed and Jesus matured, he would have observed the hand of the Almighty being with Jesus, guiding and directing him in the direction of his redemptive plan and purpose.  On the other hand, Isaiah 7:14 clearly states, “…the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and SHE shall call His name Immanuel.”  Was it not Mary who was “overshadowed” by God’s power (strength) to conceive the child in her womb?  Isaiah says it was Mary, the virgin, who named the child Immanuel, not Joseph.  In fact, the literal Hebrew meaning of “overshadowed” is “huddled together.”  Mary was huddled together with the one (Jesus) whom God (Yahweh) would give her strength (ability) to conceive.  Thus we conclude Immanuel implies a huddling together of mother and child as they are both overshadowed with strength that originates from on High.

 

2.      As Joseph and Mary considered Isaiah’s prophetic utterance concerning Jesus, it they must have been confused and bewildered as to how the boy would eat curds and honey (typical of the word of God) UNTIL the time he knows enough to, “refuse the evil and choose the good.”  According to Jewish custom of Jesus’ day, a boy reaches his adult status of manhood at age twelve. Joseph and Mary would surely have understood this age as being the time when a boy knows enough to refuse the evil and choose good, and yet children no longer ate curds and honey as their main food staple until age twelve. What could it mean?  Joseph probably never figured it out, for even when Jesus was discovered in the temple during a yearly sojourn to Jerusalem, neither Joseph nor Mary understood what he meant when he told them he had an obligation to be in his “Father’s house.” (NOTE – Though neither parent comprehended Jesus’ words, Mary kept a close and consistent guard concerning him after this.  She most likely outlived Joseph to witness Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection.)

 

Luke 2:49-52 And He said to them, “How is it that you had to look for me?  Did you not see and know that it is necessary [as a duty] for me to be in my Father's house and occupied about my Father's business?  But they did not comprehend what He was saying to them.  And He went down with them and came to Nazareth and was habitually obedient to them; and his mother kept and closely and persistently guarded all these things in her heart.  And Jesus increased in wisdom (in broad and full understanding) and in stature and years, and in favor with God and man.  AMP

 

3.      It did not take very long for Joseph and Mary to figure out the application of Isaiah 7:16.  After they were warned Herod the Great was seeking to find and murder the Messiah, they fled to Egypt until after Herod was reported to have died.  Herod the Great had a son named Herod that had inherited the throne in 4 B.C.  The two kings would seem to concur with the messianic prophecy in Isaiah 7:16, “For before the child shall know to refuse the evil and choose the good, the land that you dread will be forsaken by both her kings.”  This “land” would include all of the land in Palestine where the male children two years old and up were killed by Herod the Great.

 

Matthew 2:16-18 Then when Herod (the Great) saw that he had been tricked by the magi, he became very enraged, and sent and slew all the male children who were in Bethlehem and in all its environs, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had ascertained from the magi.  Then that which was spoken through Jeremiah the prophet was fulfilled, saying, "A voice was heard in Ramah, weeping and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children; and she refused to be comforted, because they were no more." NAS

 

4.      One remaining aspect of Isaiah’s prophecy was certain to have affected both Joseph and Mary in all seriousness.  They knew the history of their people Israel.  They knew Isaiah had formerly prophesied to a stubborn and obstinate nation who refused to repent, and as a result of their obstinacy had faced God’s judgment, first through having their crops destroyed by the Assyrians, and then being exiled.  They also knew that children in Isaiah’s time ate curds and honey until they were upwards of age twelve.  While they may not have understood why or how Jesus would eat curds and honey until he knew “enough” to “refuse the evil and choose the good” one thing was crystal clear…it was THEIR RESPONSIBILITY to instruct Jesus in the ways of Yahweh and teach him the scripture UNTIL Jesus knew “enough” to refuse the evil and choose the good on his own accord.

 

5.      Joseph and Mary also understood Jesus would eat curds and honey BEFORE the time he would know enough to refuse the evil.  They would likely have assumed this application was during the time when Jesus was a toddler.  The land “forsaken” while he ate curds and honey from about age two upwards was Bethlehem, but likely included Palestine, since Herod the Great was Idumean, and fancied himself to be familiar with Jewish heritage.  After Herod's death in 4 BC, they returned to Nazareth, and Jesus would have been anywhere from age two years and upwards.

 

Messianic Instructions To Joseph & Mary

 

One must understand the historical setting and culture of the scriptures to properly interpret them.  This is especially necessary when studying the life of Jesus.  Joseph and Mary are given a divine assignment from the very conception of Jesus, and apart from Zacharias and Elizabeth, there were not many people with whom they could share their cherished revelation.

 

Who in Nazareth would believe Jesus was conceived miraculously?  There are some gospel narratives showing that the community in Nazareth viewed Jesus no differently than they viewed his siblings.

 

·         Matthew 13:54-57 And coming to His home town He began teaching them in their synagogue, so that they became astonished, and said, "Where did this man get this wisdom, and these miraculous powers?  Is not this the carpenter's son?  Is not His mother called Mary, and His brothers, James and Joseph and Simon and Judas?  And His sisters, are they not all with us?  Where then did this man get all these things?"  And they took offense at Him. But Jesus said to them, "A prophet is not without honor except in his home town, and in his own household."  NAS

 

Jesus was not born and raised as the “God-Man” that most Christianity believes.  He was the offspring of God and Mary, to be sure, but he was subject to the same naivety as other children.  He needed to be trained and disciplined, in keeping with his character, but also his high calling as the Christ of God, and deliverer of Israel.  What a huge responsibility Joseph and Mary encountered!

 

·         Proverbs 22:6 Train up a child in the way he should go and in keeping with his individual gift or bent, and when he is old he will not depart from it. AMP

 

Proverbs 22:6 is a passage of scripture is not a reference to just any child, but a child that is to be inaugurated into the office as a leader.  Thus it has specific application to Jesus, who was inaugurated by Joseph & Mary as the very Messiah of Israel!  A more literal translation of Proverbs 22:6 is seen below:

The Appropriate Translation

Proverbs 22:6

Instruct, consecrate and inaugurate the child, from the age of infancy to adolescence, with distinction of excellence in the actions and behavior he should portray as the external manifestation of his character and disposition, so that when he grows old enough to show his age as a man, he will not turn aside from it.

Joseph and Mary were given this command to inaugurate the Messiah of Israel through their parental role.  The Hebrew describes this word “child” as the age of infancy to the age of adolescence.  It is interesting to note HOW Joseph and Mary spoke to Jesus, and reprimanded him when they were forced to return to Jerusalem and search for the boy.  When they found Jesus in the temple, he was chastised just like any other child, and consistent with the way they had always administered correction to him.

 

Luke 2:41-51

 

41 Now His parents went to Jerusalem every year to the Passover Feast. [Deut 16:1-8; Ex 23:15.]

 

42 And when He was twelve years old, they went up, as was their custom.

 

43 And when the Feast was ended, as they were returning, the boy Jesus remained behind in Jerusalem.  Now His parents did not know this,

 

44 But, supposing him to be in the caravan, they traveled on a day's journey; and then they sought him diligently, looking up and down for him among their kinsfolk and acquaintances.

45 And when they failed to find Him, they went back to Jerusalem, looking for Him up and down all the way.

 

46 After three days they found Him came upon him in the court of the temple, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions.

 

47 And all who heard Him were astonished and overwhelmed with bewildered wonder at His intelligence and understanding and His replies.

 

48 And when they Joseph and Mary saw Him, they were amazed; and His mother said to him, “Child, why have you treated us like this?  Here your father and I have been anxiously looking for you distressed and tormented.”

 

49 And He said to them, “How is it that you had to look for me?  Did you not see and know that it is necessary as a duty for me to be in my Father's house and occupied about my Father's business?”

 

50 But they did not comprehend what He was saying to them.

 

51 And he went down with them and came to Nazareth and was habitually obedient to them; and his mother kept and closely and persistently guarded all these things in her heart.  AMP

 

It is important we view the context of the passage above as any other child being scolded for misbehavior.  Can you imagine how you would feel if you discovered your child was missing while you were on vacation, and then the frantic search began?  How would you feel if you looked everywhere, including the homes of friends and relatives, only to come up empty-handed?  Imagine the stress and worry and panic that both Joseph and Mary endured during the three days Jesus was missing!

 

While theologians have always focused on the words Jesus spoke concerning his Father God’s house, little attention is paid to how Mary spoke to him and chastised him for his disobedience.  Yes, Jesus was obeying God the Father, but apparently this was the first time he’d ever pulled a stunt like this!  Yes, it was God’s will for him to be in the temple asking questions, but we get a rare glimpse of how he was treated with regard to parental instruction.  Mary rebuked Jesus saying, “Child, why have you treated us like this?  Here your father and I have been anxiously looking for you distressed and tormented.”

 

Jesus was not given any special treatment this time, and it is strong indication of the kind of discipline that existed in the household of Joseph and Mary.  They were the type of individuals who embraced their role in molding and shaping the character of Jesus.

 

While God is the paternal Father of Jesus, and it is the relationship He shared with Jesus that ultimately shaped His only begotten son into the man he was, Joseph and Mary’s response to what they were called to do should be emphasized as an example for us to follow.  It was their concern, diligence and moral fiber that helped produce in Jesus the, “distinction of excellence in the actions and behavior,” so that, “ he should portray as the external manifestation of his character and disposition.”  It was their godly parenting applied throughout Jesus’ childhood which insured, “that when he grows old enough to show his age as a man, he will not turn aside from it.”

Why Was Jesus Baptized?

 

John the Baptist was a forerunner, sent by God to prepare the way for His Messiah, the anointed one, the Christ.  John’s was a baptism of repentance, and not a baptism for the remission of sins.  Many people who claim to be Christians do not fully understand the significance of John the Baptist’s role and message.

 

Jesus came to John to be baptized.  Why?  John’s baptism was for “repentance.”

Matthew 3:1-4:1

3:1 Now in those days John the Baptist came, preaching in the wilderness of Judea, saying,

 

2 "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand."

 

3 For this is the one referred to by Isaiah the prophet, saying, "The voice of one crying in the wilderness, 'Make ready the way of the Lord, make His paths straight!'"

 

4 Now John himself had a garment of camel's hair, and a leather belt about his waist; and his food was locusts and wild honey.

 

5 Then Jerusalem was going out to him, and all Judea, and all the district around the Jordan;

 

6 and they were being baptized by him in the Jordan River, as they confessed their sins.

 

7 But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming for baptism, he said to them, "You brood of vipers, who warned you to flee from the wrath to come?

 

8 "Therefore bring forth fruit in keeping with repentance;

 

9 and do not suppose that you can say to yourselves,' We have Abraham for our father'; for I say to you, that God is able from these stones to raise up children to Abraham.

 

10 "And the axe is already laid at the root of the trees; every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.

 

11 "As for me, I baptize you with water for repentance, but he who is coming after me is mightier than I, and I am not fit to remove his sandals; he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.

 

12 "And his winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will thoroughly clear his threshing floor; and he will gather his wheat into the barn, but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire."

 

13 Then Jesus arrived from Galilee at the Jordan coming to John, to be baptized by him.

 

14 But John tried to prevent Him, saying, "I have need to be baptized by You, and do You come to me?"

 

15 But Jesus answering said to him, "Permit it at this time; for in this way it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness." Then he permitted Him.

 

16 And after being baptized, Jesus went up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending as a dove, and coming upon Him,

 

17 and behold, a voice out of the heavens, saying, "This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well-pleased."

NAS

 

Those who came to be baptized by John also confess their sins.  This was something never done before!  No one from Israel had ever been immersed in water publicly in this manner, and confession of sins until this time was done only before the priests.  All those people who were true Israelites, (according to the spirit, and not by way of boasting in their blood lineage), knew John was the one referred to by Isaiah the prophet, saying, "The voice of one crying in the wilderness, 'Make ready the way of the Lord, Make His paths straight!'"

 

John’s message was for everyone everywhere to repent.  John’s baptism could not wash away sins, because the blood of God’s spotless Lamb (Jesus) had not been shed yet.  Nevertheless, John’s message was the beginning of the “good news” (i.e. – the gospel) of Jesus the Christ:

 

·         Mark 1:1-4 The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.  As it is written in Isaiah the prophet, "Behold, I send My messenger before Your face, who will prepare your way; the voice of one crying in the wilderness, 'Make ready the way of the Lord, Make His paths straight.' "  John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.  NAS

 

John preached, “a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.”  At about age thirty, Jesus came to John, and asked to be baptized.  Why?

 

Matthew’s account (above) says Jesus arrived from Galilee at the Jordan coming to John, to be baptized by him.  But John tried to prevent Him, saying, "I have need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?"  But Jesus answering said to him, "Permit it at this time; for in this way it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness." Then he permitted Him.

 

Let’s analyze the facts now:

 

1.      John came preaching, “Repent, for the kingdom is at hand.”

2.      John baptized with a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.

3.      He was baptizing people in the Jordan River, as they confessed their sins.

4.      John refused to baptize the self-righteous Pharisees and Sadducees.

5.      Jesus came to be baptized by John, and John refused.

6.      Jesus asked John to permit his baptism to fulfill all righteousness.

 

Fulfill all righteousness?  What does this mean?  The literal Greek rendering of Matthew 3:15 reads as follows in The Appropriate Translation:

 

The Appropriate Translation

Matthew 3:15

But responding from his own conclusion, Jesus said to him, “Do not hinder it just now, for in this way, what follows us is the conspicuous explanation that will fill the hollow place and imbue (me) with the whole equity of character and justification (I need to fulfill my calling).”

What is Jesus saying?  He is telling John that he must be baptized in a public (conspicuous, obvious, evident) way to fill the hollow place, or that which is lacking in him that would indeed make him justified before God and complete in Him. 

This can only mean ONE thing…Jesus was baptized to account for his prepubescent error, not for willful disobedience and sin.

 

In other words, as a child, Jesus would experience the normal disciplinary issues all children face, but his righteous parents (Joseph & Mary) would stand in his stead before God, and their blameless life would sanctify Jesus until he was of the age of accountability.  The age of accountability is not a scriptural term, but there is a clear mandate in scripture explaining what willful sin is, and it can only fully apply to one who has attained a measure of adulthood.

 

·         James 4:17 So any person who knows what is right to do but does not do it, to him it is sin.  AMP

 

To account for this childhood erring is what Jesus means when, in the Appropriate Translation, he utters the words stating this is, “the conspicuous explanation that will fill the hollow place and imbue (me) with the whole equity of character and justification (I need to fulfill my calling).”  What “hollow place” could have possibly existed in Jesus’ equity of character as an adult?

 

Furthermore, this hypothesis explains WHY Jesus needed to be imbued (tinctured, dyed) with the “whole equity of character” AND justification.  Though Jesus never sinned by failing to refuse the evil and/or choose the good as an adult, his justification for the right and wrong behavior of his childhood needed adult acknowledgement and recognition, accompanied by a change of heart and mind (repentance) that would move him in a completely different direction.

 

When Jesus was baptized, it was not for the remission of sins, but rather it was his acknowledgement of John’s God-given authority and his divine message.  By allowing himself to be baptized by John, Jesus was admitting the necessity for his own past to be reconciled and justified, though it be nothing more than a child’s concepts and actions manifesting his perception of right and wrong.  Nevertheless, John’s was a baptism of repentance (change of mind and heart) and forgiveness filled the hollow spot of all Jesus did before the time he knew enough to refuse the evil and choose the good.

 

Selah


 

Return to BAS Homepage   ·   Craig's Bible Studies   ·   E-mail Craig   ·   Write Us   ·   Writings & Links to BAS Friends   ·   Q & A   ·   Return to Top of This Page