Bible Birthdays

            Gen. 40:20-23–“And it came to pass the third day, which was Pharaoh’s birthday, that he made a feast unto all his servants: and he lifted up the head of the chief butler and of the chief baker among his servants. And he restored the chief butler unto his butlership again; and he gave the cup into Pharaoh’s hand: But he hanged the chief baker: as Joseph had interpreted to them. Yet did not the chief butler remember Joseph, but forgat him.”

            Matt. 14:1-12—“At that time Herod the tetrarch heard of the fame of Jesus, And said unto his servants, This is John the Baptist; he is risen from the dead; and therefore mighty works do shew forth themselves in him. For Herod had laid hold on John, and bound him, and put him in prison for Herodias’ sake, his brother Philip’s wife. For John said unto him, It is not lawful for thee to have her. And when he would have put him to death, he feared the multitude, because they counted him as a prophet. But when Herod’s birthday was kept, the daughter of Herodias danced before them, and pleased Herod. Whereupon he promised with an oath to give her whatsoever she would ask. And she, being before instructed of her mother, said, Give me here John Baptist’s head in a charger. And the king was sorry: nevertheless for the oath’s sake, and them which sat with him at meat, he commanded it to be given her. And he sent, and beheaded John in the prison. And his head was brought in a charger, and given to the damsel: and she brought it to her mother. And his disciples came, and took up the body, and buried it, and went and told Jesus.”

            You’ve just read the only two accounts of birthdays in all the Scriptures.  The word “birthday” occurs only one other time in Mark 6:21, where Mark recounts the story of John the Baptist’s beheading in Mark 6:13-29.

,           Notice some parallels between the two birthdays.  Each one was the birthday celebration for an ungodly king—Pharaoh in Gen. 40 and Herod in Matt. 14 and Mark 6.  Each one involved putting someone to death—Pharao’s chief baker and John the Baptist, respectively.  Each birthday occurred while someone was in prison—Joseph and John the Baptist, respectively.  They don’t sound like very happy occasions, do they?

            Admittedly, I haven’t researched the origins of celebrating birthdays.  I can’t categorically say birthdays are unscriptural, since the bible is silent as to whether or not they should be celebrated.  On the other hand, it’s easy to see why certain religious sects don’t celebrate birthdays.  Think of it this way.  If you didn’t have a party or get cards and presents on your last birthday, you’re in good company with all those in the bible who either didn’t celebrate birthdays or whose birthdays simply weren’t mentioned as part of God’s Holy Word.  Strictly speaking, from the Bible’s lack of emphasis on birthdays, they’re not that big of a deal.  The Bible doesn’t even tell us to celebrate Christ’s birthday.  However, Paul tells us what Jesus did instruct us to Commemorate.  “For I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you, That the Lord Jesus the same night in which he was betrayed took bread: And when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me. After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me. For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord’s death till he come.: (1 Cor. 11:23-26).

Explore posts in the same categories: Bible Study, Thoughts from John

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