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Version 2.59 released  Aug. 28, 2012

NOTE:  This site does NOT provide display materials, booths or other items for sale, rental or loan.  This website site provides ONLY FREE ideas and suggestions for you to use according to the space,time and resources that you can devote to your display.
The last section of this web site does list some Resources such as places where books, maps and literature are sold. They are not connected with us, but some of their materials may be of help.

Spiritual messages should be presented, not merely 

a walk-thru entertainment event. 

Facts need to be presented which TRANSCEND the

cultural locale of the Town at the time of His birth. 

The guests leaving your display can know that they 

have been worshiping because of their awe and praise 

to God as they appreciated the facts and miracle 

of His Birth.  


See suggestion for the last part of the "Future" section about the wonderful New Heaven and New Earth (He Will Wipe Away All Tears; No More Death; No Mourning; No Crying; No Pain) however there are the warnings about the Lake of Fire.





You want your Christmas display to be more than merely a display of the Baby Jesus, Mary & Joseph, a manger, some animals, shepherds, wise men, and Roman soldiers.

Your guests can learn valuable points about the life of Jesus. 

What are they learning from the display which you have been

using? Are they learning what is really important and of

eternal value?

How about presenting some of the spiritual concerns which people had before the birth of Jesus?  Teach about the importance of His adult life.   Why not present more at Christmas?

Take a look at the "Town" secton here for a quick overview of what you can do to improve the display which you already use.


ADBERTISE YOUR DECEMBER DISPLAY NOW.  Tell people that it will be more than just The Baby Jesus in the manger. They will learn about miracles and prophecies that took place BEFORE His birth.  They will also see and hear of miracles and teachings that Jesus gave that have changed the lives of people around the world.


Free ideas & dozens of suggestions


“In the Fullness of Time, 'Pleroma'” To Enhance The Experience.
Here are ideas and suggestions especially for 
Bethlehem “Walk-Thru” displays, whether large or small. 

By Dr. David A. Depew, Burbank, California 


IF you have comments or questions on this Bethlehem 5 B.C. website or if you spot errors, please write to me, David A. Depew at:  



WELCOME to this site which freely provides many ideas from which you may choose. Save all of these ideas and then use the ones that you want to enrich your Bethlehem walk-through display or other displays which are being made at Christmas time.

Help your guests learn about "The Fullness of Time" when Jesus came. What was unique about the historical, social, religious and spiritual condition of the world?  Help your guests to learn about questions and concerns that thoughtful people had before the coming of Jesus, The Messiah, and help your guests learn more about the adult ministry of Jesus and His life.

The suggestions given are useful for small displays and up to very large displays. 

Many churches are preparing wonderful displays which depict how Bethlehem may have looked at the time of the birth of Jesus Christ. Great variations are necessary in these displays because they are presented in such differnt locations. Many are outdoors while others are indoors. Some are smaller more traditional nativity scenes. Different amounts of surface space are available and displays have to avoid conflicting with already existing fixed objects such as walls, barriers, foliage, posts, light poles, etc. Very creative uses have been made of the spaces available. Much time, effort and money have been used to make wonderful displays which draw the attention of guests to life in the time of His birth in Bethlehem of Judah.  People can leave your display having experienced some of the feeling that Jewish people, Roman soldiers and officials and others must have felt two thousand years ago.

In those days, many thoughtful literate Jewish people had a grasp of the biblical, religious and secular history of Israel and the surrounding nations. Such knowledge could include information about the vital events that happened after the last of the Hebrew (Old Testament) writings about 400 years before the birth of Jesus. For those who knew some of these facts, their lives and understandings could be enriched by the knowledge of the significance of the coming Messiah (“Christ”). The same is true for people in this 21st Century. 
Jesus came when the “Time was Ripe” or as also expressed, “In the Fullness of Time” in Greek "Pleroma." This is found written by St. Paul to the Christians in Galatia and to us in Galatians 4:4-5. “But when the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His Son born of a woman, born under the Law, so that He might redeem those who were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption as sons.” (NASB)

The events and setting of the birth of Jesus are NOT myths, NOR stories based on fantasy. They are based in history which is used throughout the sacred text of the New Testament to prove the spiritual significance and setting of the revelations, work and ministry of Jesus.   Nowadays these events are mostly forgotten and neglected.  IF YOU USE several of the suggestions which are given here, guests who come to your Bethlehem display should have a greatly enriching experience!

The suggestions given here are based on the plan that your guests will be walking through your display, perhaps much as they may have done last year. To help the guests to learn more, the wording for several signs may be selected, painted and posted, skillfully mentioning past and “present” (5 B.C.) events. Many of these are in the form of advertisements and news commentaries, sort of a graffiti. Booths where occupations are depicted are of course used. “Closed booths” which are not open for business as the time of the display can be made to appear to merely be closed for a few hours or days, thus allowing the display of business signs which inform the guests, without the need for a functioning booth.

The novel use of four identifiable chronological sections is of great help. These may be marked with signs for the clear understanding of the guests as: The Prelude; The Present Town, The Postlude and TheFuture.

The “PRELUDE” section depicts by signs, dioramas, drawings, paintings or videos a few of the key events which set the stage for the coming of Jesus. These are keys to understanding the Fullness of Time and why Jesus came when He did. Historical, social and spiritual circumstances are mentioned.

The “TOWN" is the "PRESENT” time of 5 B.C.   It is the depiction of the appearance of Bethlehem about the time of the birth. This is probably what you have already displayed last year or planned for this year’s display.  One key differences can be the ADDITION of a few more booths, even ones which are “closed,” which add to the richness of the display. There are many suggestions for signs which can be displayed anywhere in the “Present” town. Other signs would be put near specific booths (whether open or “closed”) to “advertise” the occupation which is represented by that specific booth. Some signs can give the spiritual biblical teaching in connection with such occupations. Jesus referred to some of these occupations in His teachings and so appropriate signs can help guests recall these teachings.

The "POSTLUDE" is very important. It covers the times from days after His Birth, into His adult ministry of teachings and miracles and His death and Resurrection and departure to Heaven.  It continues on into the times of the Church since then in brief. 

The POSTLUDE is divided into three sections to show the events from a few days after His birth thru His ministry as an adult, His death and Resurrection. The next section tells a little about His Church.

Special consideration can be given to four new items in the POSTLUDE.  Perhaps some of these may be a blessing in your display. Consider:
-  the provision of the Lord's Supper / Communion as either a provision for guests to partake of it or as only a display; 
-  foot washing display or demonstration and activity;  
- have Bibles and DVDs of the "Jesus" film in local languages for free 

distribution and the
-  playing of the "Halleluiah" Chorus from "The Messiah" by Handel as people leave your display.

The "FUTURE" section briefly tells of some future events.  You may wish to expand this section according to your understanding of the many prophecies in the Bible. There is also a secton on the wonderful comfort and pease of the New Heaven and New Earth, as well as the warning of athe Lake of Fire.

The "RESOURCES" section gives some information about resources that may assist you in the preparation of your display and give you further information with which you may answer some of the questions of your guests who may be interested in further independant study. There is information About the Author in this section.

WHY 5 B.C.?   A monk in Rome calculated the year of the Conception of Jesus Christ to have been 525 years before the monks time. His available information was off by about one percent. We know now that that King Herod probably died in 4 B.C. The Magi came after the Birth of Jesus, but before the death of King Herod. They spoke with Herod. So Jesus was probably born in 5 or perhaps 4 B.C.

See more information about this in the Postlude at the year 525 A.D., regarding the monk, Dionysius Exiguus.



Free "tickets" for admission can be handed out as souvenirs which tell on one side the info on the dates, times and place of your display and some church welcome info with days and times of regular or special Christmas services. On the reverse there can be some info about the importance of His birth and His life. A little sentence could be put on the card to the effect that, “You may keep this as a bookmark and reminder of what you experienced and learned in Bethlehem.”  You may want to put on the ticket a reference to this web site This could encourage guests to do further study.

It is recommended that your actors NOT “stay in character” all of the time. They can be available to answer serious questions from 21st Century visitors who are not so familiar with life in Bethlehem or the other time periods, before and after 5 B.C.

Because many actors will not be intimately familiar with the historical and spiritual setting and not be experienced teaching these things, it is suggested that TWO TYPES OF PRINTED MATERIALS be available,. One type is for handing out to most guests and the other type is printed display items to remain at specific parts of the exhibit. See the section on HANDOUTS below.

The second type are information sheets that can be printed on cardstock and fastened by string to fixed objects so that many guests can take a little time to read more about the things at  those different locations.  Actors are not needed at these points and the material presented can be more detailed than the average actor would be expected to learn and be able to  tell to guests.  This really takes pressure off of the actors. The information sheets could be protected by clear plastic page sleeves.  INFORMATION for some of these sheets is given near the end of this web site.


One MAIN HANDOUT could be given to all adult guests and younger individuals who seem to be seriously interested.
On one side place a pastoral printed message of welcome and tell of the significance of the life of Jesus to people of your local church community and to people in other parts of the world!  On the same side of the handout you could have a list of church services, classes, programs and languages used.  Advertise upcoming special Christmas and Easter services and activities.

A MAP on the reverse of the handout sheet can show your Bethlehem display. The locations of the various booths are marked. Also shown is what is going on in other locations (stages, animal shows, foods and beverages, video presentations, 21st century style rest rooms, etc).  

To provide biblically based spiritual instruction, have a Scripture quote or reference to that type of occupation that is happening at that booth. Also have references to the spiritual message from some of the occupations (i.e. Some of these will be found in this document in the sections of SIGNS and also on BOOTHS. These can include:  God as the Potter, we as the clay; the jewelry maker, instruction about ornaments and the inner beauty of a holy life; and metal workers reminding us of the biblical references to someday that tools of war, such as swords, will be hammered into peaceful farming tools, such as plows.

HAVE AVAILABLE A HANDOUT for those people who are interested a single or double side printed article teaching about the coming of Christ in the Fullness of Time. Some of the biblical prophecies could be listed as well as various items of the social, religious and cultural setting. Many of these specific items would have been seen on signs by your guests. This handout would be a good way for them to have the needed notes and references for their personal research or in classes. 

Furthermore, this type of document might be valuable for use  IN THE WEEKS BEFORE the display as the Pastors and/or Sunday School teachers can teach about the importance of the coming of Jesus, The Messiah.  Such teaching/preaching could do much to prepare hearts for greater spiritual growth at Christmas.

HANDOUTS CAN BE PRINTED IN BLACK INK ON COMMON OFFICE PRINTERS. The number estimated to be used can be printed for the first couple of days.  In the later days,  more accurate estimates of future attendance can be made.  Then additional numbers of handouts can be made, even on a rush basis as necessary.


New for this year are these suggestions for your consideration:


** Foot washing demonstration or actually for guests (see “Postlude” section).

** Communion / Lord’s Supper demonstration or actual sacrament for guests (see “Postlude” section).

** Have Bibles and DVDs of the Jesus film to give to guests.(see “Future” section).

** As guests leave have an audio recording of  “THE "HALLELUJAH!" CHORUS.  (see the the “Future” section).

** You may have certain of the information “signs” displayed on computer screens or with video projectors showing several “signs” in timed sequence (or  using a button/switch for guests to press to display the next signs).   If the changing of the display “signs” are automatically timed,be sure to allow sufficient time for guests to understand the information.  God took time to prepare for and reveal  the coming of Jesus.  Our guests can take awhile to understand the information.


It is even a blessing for people to just read on this web site of the events and available information for their own spiritual growth and blessing.  

Information about this web site can be placed in the hand-out literature so that guests may continue their education and be blessed later on. Also some guests may wish to tell people in other churches and areas about this web site.

HOW CAN YOU FIND YOUR WAY BACK into your same place in this website when you return the next time?  First, be sure to know what Section you are in (Home Page; Prelude; Town; Postlude; Future; or Resources).

If you have a unique key word from your previous visit, you might do a “search” for that word when you are again IN that same Section. That may lead you back to the place you want to be.

Otherwise,  always notice and record the year(s) or approximate time period (years) in which you are working . Most information is connected with a year or period of time.





Consider providing at your church a permanent administrative section which can help provide enhanced educational opportunities year-round. The experience of the Incarnation is a blessing throughout the year and valuable information is given on this website that can be used in Sunday Scchool classes, Bible studies, etc. people  who study about these things well before Christmas will learn much and probably be more likely to participate in the work of putting on your next Bethlehem Walk-Thru on next year.

WHO ELSE HAS BEEN LOOKING AT THIS SITE ?    Starting in October, 2009, we begin noting the different nations from which visitors came.  People viewed from within these nations:   Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Canada,  China, Czech Rep., Denmark, Dubai, Finland, France, Germany,  Hong Kong, India, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Malaysia, Mexico, Moldova, Mozambique, Netherlands & the old Netherlands Antilles, New Zealand, PakistanPhilippines, Poland, Romania, Russian Federation, Senegal, Singapore, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sweden, Taiwan, Thailand, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United States of America and Venezuela.

 Consider the blessings of INDOOR Bethlehem displays

WEATHERPROOF  your display by going INDOORS
DAYTIME is a good time to display indoors

“Weatherpoof your display by going to the great indoors! 

Here are ideas and suggestions to help you have your next display completely or partially INDOORS.


Many outdoor displays have serious problems because of the weather.

Rain, cold, snow and wind have caused damage to outdoor displays.

Some outdoor displays are habitually impaired and some nights of display have to be canceled year after year because of bad weather.

Some of our volunteers, actors, presenters, docents and of course our visitors are deterred by bad weather (or even the concerns the bad weather may come).


Outdoor displays do NOT necessarily add a spiritual dimension to the displays. Indoor displays can present all of the spiritual messages and emotional and religious aspects of the Birth of Jesus, the Messiah.


Daytime: Indoor displays can be conducted in the daytime, not being limited to the dark night hours. This can make the display available to people who otherwise might not be able to travel or come at night.


Floor surface: Consider using sawdust to simulate soil. The real Bethlehem is quite rocky, however using even small rocks could endanger guests who might mis-step and also damage wooden floors.

Animals:   Commercially recorded sound effects, especially of doves, pigeons, sparrows, chickens, sheep and cows  are useful when used sparingly.  Life size statues of animals can be made of paper mache and be useful. Show the appearance of animals in closed pens with closed wooden doors or curtains concealing the “animal” with just artificial feet or legs of animals or the horse tail hanging up over the top of a door, use sound effects of appropriate animal sounds from places where it appears that the animals are located, use occasional sounds of horses, donkeys, doves, pigeons, or chickens. Perhaps display in an indoor area, in a place were the floor can be properly protected from soiling and damage. Try a few animals such as live sheep, goats , chickens, doves, pigeons and sparrows. Careful control is needed over such live displays.

Sound Control: Usual techniques to control excessive echoes can help the effect of being in an outdoor area. Curtains, other cloths, carpets on floors and walls and the irregular placement of objects can all help reduce echoes.

Wind:  Use concealed electric fans gently blowing in some areas to give effects of wind on displays and on guests. Depending on the circumstances, doors which are open to the outside may help give fresh air and some natural circulation of a breeze.

Fires:  Use an electric fan, laying horizontally with the air coming up out the top. On the top attach strips of clear or colored cellophane paper to be blown upward by the flow of air. Hide a few small electric lights nearby of red, yellow and orange colors to illuminate the blowing strips of cellophane.

Odors: Various commercial room deodorants can be used to provide outdoor type of odors. Sometimes a very small amount of Frankincense can be obtained and burned on a charcoal bricket. That is the usual type of incense that would have been used in those days and is used in many churches today. It would not be wise to use other types of spicy incense. To make smells of cooking food, small electric cooking stoves can be used carefully. The kettle or pan on top could contain a soup concentrate or other odiferous food.


Starry Sky: A small “planetarium” projector may be available. In the 1950’s, the Harmonic Reed Corp sold a “Spitz Junior” toy planetarium projector.  It has a 7 inch globe on top. Some such projector could be placed in a dark medium size room with the stars projected on the plain light color ceiling and upper walls. The projector can be near the center of the room and elevated above eye level and somewhat obscured.



SIGNS - To make signs in the Hebrew or Greek languages find the word(s) in the English Bible, then look up the verse and word(s) in the Interlinear texts below. .

For the Prelude and Town sections, Hebrew signs may be useful.



For certain careful uses in the Town, Postlude and Future sections  Greek may be useful.


If there is someone available who has some familiarity with the language (or at least with the alphabet of the language), you might receive some assistance from such person. A member of the clergy or a professor could help you.




{NOTE}  Please go to our first section for the display, the PRELUDE. at



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Go to Prelude


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