God's Biblical Calendar
Understanding How to Determine His Months and the First Day of the Year
(Peter Donis © 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020)
An understanding of God’s actual Biblical Calendar, as well as its correct observance, is a sign that we are God’s people (Exod. 31:13, 17; Ezek. 20:12, 20). How we determine the New Moons is also a sign between God and us. This study paper carefully examines the basic Biblical framework for God’s Calendar. It also explains why both the Hillel and a Universal Conjunction Calendar (UCC) are also invalid.
When we examine the relationship between the celestial bodies (sun, earth, and moon) in regards to determining God's correct calendar, we see no allowance is given for multiple versions of the calendar or the slightest man-made adjustment(s). The creation has no give. It is so precise it does not allow for two or three different options to work alongside one another. There is only one exact method of determining and observance that will not impugn the word of God for anyone. Whether one is in Jerusalem or Japan, God has ordained the exact same method for everyone from the beginning of creation (Gen. 1:14). He has not authorised two or more different calendars to operate alongside one another. The slightest variation or change from scripture will result in someone, somewhere, having to breach one of God's days He has specifically sanctified; it is inevitable.
God’s system does not grant authority to individuals, churches, or theologians, to alter His calendar in order to support their own unique twists or biases with regards to God's way of determining the time.
And God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years: (Gen. 1:14; Emphasis added; KJV throughout unless otherwise noted)
He appointed the moon for seasons: the sun knoweth his going down. (Ps. 104:19)
Throughout all of human history, a change in how God's calendar is to be determined has never been authorised by God, or His Son, Jesus, and neither can there be. God is unchanging (Isa. 40:8; Mal. 3:6). The law regarding how time is to be determined was made clear from the very beginning of creation (Gen. 1:14). It is part of the creation sequence and thus, set in stone. It cannot be altered. Only when the physical creation comes to an end and is no more, and God and His Lamb will provide the light to His city, the New Jerusalem, will the physical system of time-keeping cease (Rev. 21:2, 23-25).
The earth rotates continuously and as a result, the conjunction of the moon around the globe occurs at different times of the day accordingly. In most cases, the first day of the month falls on the same day of the week for everyone. However, from time to time, some countries or regions will have their first day of the month fall on a different day to that of Jerusalem due to the time that one day moves into the next at dark. This is perfectly natural and part of the creation sequence.
The First Day of the Month
Biblically speaking, the start or first of each month in scripture is referred to as the day of the New Moon. It is the day in which the earth, the sun, and the moon, are in perfect elliptical alignment. Astronomically, it is referred to as a conjunction. At this point, the moon is directly between the earth and the sun, and is no longer visible, reflecting zero light from the sun for at least a day (approx. 24hrs). It is neither waxing nor waning, that is, the moon is at the point where it is neither fading in light nor growing in light. At this point, it becomes a “New Moon.”
As to which day is to be observed as the first day of the New Moon, the rule is simple. That particular day must have the local conjunction occurring within what constitutes a day according to scripture (Num. 10:10; 1Sam. 20:5, 18; Ezek. 46:6).
Eze 46:1 Thus saith the Lord GOD; The gate of the inner court that looketh toward the east shall be shut the six working days; but on the sabbath it shall be opened, and in the day of the new moon it shall be opened. (Emphasis added)
Whether the conjunction occurs at the start or the end of the day is irrelevant. In regards to the conjunction, God talks in days, not hours. The Lord God made no provisions in the Law to postpone the day of the New Moon if the conjunction happens to occurs late in the day for a particular area. The day (defined biblically) in which the local conjunction occurs merely identifies the day to be observed. The day of the New Moon does not begin at the point of conjunction, but rather, begins like every other day, at dark (Lev. 23:32).
Scripture shows that it is 'in the day' in which it occurs is the determining factor. Thus, it stands to reason that any part of the first day of the month cannot extend beyond 24 hours from the time of the local conjunction having taken place. Evidence the wrong day is being observed is if any portion of that day is not the same day in which the local conjunction takes place.
Some argue that since the astronomical conjunction cannot be pinpointed by visual observation, that there is no singular event to confirm it. An astronomical conjunction is a precise event, with tables available today being calculable in advance to the second for hundreds of years. Visual confirmation was not, and still not necessary as the Bible shows Ancient Israel knew of the celestial movements in advance.
1 Sam. 20:5 So David said to Jonathan, "Behold, tomorrow is the new moon, and I ought to sit down to eat with the king. But let me go, that I may hide myself in the field until the third evening. (NASB)
1 Samuel 20:18 Then Jonathan said to him, "Tomorrow is the new moon, and you will be missed because your seat will be empty. (NASB)
God, in His omniscience, knew that man would try to alter His calendrical method. Therefore He ordained a faithful witness, the moon, to testify to the truth of the matter (Ps. 89:37; Col. 2:16-17). That witness is still on the stand so to speak and accuses everyone who testifies falsely.
We are commanded in Gen. 1:14 to "let them be for signs for signs,...for days...". The first day of the month is just that, a day in which the moon faithfully testifies in the form of a conjunction. And as we can all agree, a day, as to its start and finish, can only be determined via the signs in the heavens on a localised basis. If we observe the first day of the month without the testimony of the moon's conjunction occurring within it, we will find ourselves committing perjury, testifying falsely in that the day we consider to be the first day of the month does not contain the sign (testimony) of the conjunction. This crime is apparent in calendars that forsake determining every day, be it day by day, or the first day of the month via the signs God has ordained from our locality. The two most notable offending calendars are the Hillel, and what we have coined, the (unofficial) Universal Conjunction Calendar (UCC).
Today, many Jews and Christian denominations observe what is known as the Hillel Calendar. It was standardised around 358 CE. Its core objective is to avoid Sabbaths and/or Holy Days occurring back to back or one day after another. To ensure these natural occurrences don’t take place, it has established a number of postponement rules that make a mockery of God, His Word and His ordained Calendar.
The Hillel Calendar, rather than using the true astronomical (biblical) conjunction to identify the first day of the month, has adopted the first crescent, a Babylonian practise dating back thousands of years. Many seem to think that since Israel has adopted this ancient Babylonian practice for some time now, that it somehow legitimises its use; it doesn't. It is not a practice found in the Bible. It is a well-documented fact that beginning the month from the first crescent (or first sliver) observation has its roots in pagan religions, being the symbol for the moon god in Mesopotamian mythology as well as Assyrian and Babylonian history.
Furthermore, the Hillel Calendar, in determining the first day of the month, only recognises the conjunction that takes place in Jerusalem. In establishing a fixed point and/or singular conjunction (Jerusalem's), it does away with God's ordained method. It fails to recognise that these same signs were given to man, no matter where we are, for the exact same purpose (Gen. 1:14; Ps. 104:19).
God, In His perfect wisdom, has permitted that every person's conjunction around the globe may not always fall on the same day of the week. To get around this, man has made our proximity to Jerusalem the determining factor as to whether or not we observe local astronomical signs as God commands. If one lives in Israel or neighbouring regions which observe the same astronomical signs then that all good and fine. But if anyone's astronomical signs differ to that of Jerusalem's, man, in his own wisdom, has determined that it is expedient that we either reject or abstain from using our own local conjunctions in favour of adopting Jerusalems. Thus, by default, two distinct calendars are established. God did not establish the signs in the heavens so that some people are able to use local astronomical signs to correctly identify His holy days while others are required to ignore theirs, copying and pasting astronomical signs of another place, which, from time to time, be found to contradicted theirs. It is logically absurd.
Remember, the first Adam represented us all, a man of no ethnicity, race or nation. In regards to the calendar, it did not matter as to the exact location of Adam's creation because he would have still received the same calendar. God has given every one of Adam's descendants the same reference point to tell time, that being, where we are. Assuming the Garden of Eden was in the close proximity of modern-day Jerusalem today, God did not say to him, ‘Here is my calendar, which I have given to you and all your descendants after you to observe. Observe my signs in the heavens as they appear from this location. But if you or any of your offspring travel far enough, then you will be required to ignore the signs you will see, (except for the start and end of the day, I'll make an expectation); you will have to envisage the heavenly signs as they appear from the other side of the planet'.
Everyone's local conjunction is as valid and sanctified as Jerusalem’s (Jn. 4:21). What this means is that every single person is on the same equal footing, no matter we live. God is not a respecter of persons (Deut. 10:17; Ac. 10:34; Rom. 2:11). A Christian in Jerusalem today has no higher standing than a Christian, say, in Australia, Asia or Africa (Gal. 3:28; Ps. 101:6-7).
God made it explicitly clear that there shall be one law for the native and for the stranger who sojourns among you.
Exod. 12:49 ESV There shall be one law for the native and for the stranger who sojourns among you."
This is not just speaking to those who live in the same vicinity but extends to include all the gentiles, anywhere and everywhere who have come to be grafted into the body of Christ, who is not divided (1Cor. 1:13; Eph. 4:5).
The heavenly sky is an intricate timepiece in which we all share equally. Time is constant and defined in the moment, according to the signs God ordained in the heavens in relation to where we are at the time. Whether one is in Jerusalem or Japan, each person must use the same method; otherwise, we breach His Word and are guilty of respect of persons and establishing our own will over and above that of God's. Those in Japan are commanded to use their conjunction to determine the first day of their month in precisely the same way those in Jerusalem are. If those in Japan or anyone else on this planet foregoes their local conjunction in favour of adopting Jerusalem's, then they have not one, but two, distinct calendars operating concurrently.
Even within the same country such as Australia, Russia, the USA or Canada, the start and finish of the weekly Sabbath aren't standardised. The reason is simple; there are too many hours of daylight differentiating from one side of the country to the other. Worst still, would be the idea to universally set the start and finish of weekly Sabbath as it occurs in Jerusalem. Immediately the blatant astronomical contradictions that would take place come to mind. If we can understand that it is the astronomical signs in our locations that God wants us to abide by as well as avoiding any astronomical contradictions, then why can't we see this also applies to the determination the first day of each month? Therefore, when travelling to any place of significant distance, one must make a careful and thorough examination ahead of time to confirm the first day of the month according to local astronomical signs in case any Feasts, Sabbaths or New Moons occur during ones stay there.
The (unofficial) Universal Conjunction Calendar (UCC)
The main thrust of this calendar is that it is a “one conjunction fits all” system, similar to the Hillel Calendar. If someone’s local conjunction occurs on a different day of the week to that of Jerusalem, then that person is required to postpone their day of conjunction and align themselves as it occurs in Jerusalem. It requires one law for those who live in or around Israel, and another law for those who don’t, contrary to scripture as we have already read (Exod. 12:49).
In man's eyes, this harmonises worship around the world more so if we all obeyed God's word in the same manner.
This system, like the Hillel Calendar, also establishes two separate calendars that operate simultaneously, dependent upon our proximity to Jerusalem. The fact that God’s calendar was set from creation and cannot be changed and that He only gave mankind just one, not two calendars, never gets a mention. Therefore, any calendar system that requires anyone to postpone or defer any day the Almighty has sanctified, or reject or deny a sign in the heavens He has ordained, from their locality, is heresy and an idol, carved from the minds of men. The rationale behind the postponements built into the universal conjunction calendar makes it just as invalid and idolatrous as the Hillel calendar.
Arguments Used to Support the Universal Conjunction Calendar (UCC)
For instance, Jeremiah 3:17 is often used to support the use of Universal Conjunction Calendar.
Jer. 3:17 KJV At that time they shall call Jerusalem the throne of the LORD; and all the nations shall be gathered unto it, to the name of the LORD, to Jerusalem: neither shall they walk any more after the imagination of their evil heart.
The above scripture is set in the future, after the return of Christ. At that time Jerusalem shall be called the throne of the Lord, where all nations will look to it for such things as guidance, leadership and understanding.
Jesus, our Lord and Saviour, has already crushed the idea of a universal conjunction calendar here on earth while the physical realm exists. Christ pointed out that even during the entire period of his millennial reign, the Law, (in this case, how we are to determine the time, as set out from creation), cannot be changed or updated until the entire physical creation is translated into a spiritual existence.
Mat 5:17-20 ESV "Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. (18) For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished. (19) Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. (20) For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. (Emphasis added)
If Jeremiah 3:17 refers to the stage of creation when it's entirely a spiritual existence, then this verse has no bearing on the debate. What is ironic about this verse is that also refers to those who use a false calendar such as a Hillel or a Universal Conjunction Calendar and how they will no longer walk any more after the imagination of their evil heart.
The prophet Isaiah is also used to achieve this ruse.
Isa. 2:3 And many people shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.
It is clear that it is the law that shall go forth out of Zion. And the law regarding how time is to be determined was made clear from the very beginning of creation (Gen. 1:14). It is part of the creation sequence and thus, set in stone. It cannot be altered now nor in the millennium. In the future, when the law will go forth from Jerusalem, it will not be updated so as to say, ‘everyone now is to scrap scripture beginning with Gen. 1:14, Exod. 16:29-30, 20:8-11; Jer. 17:19-23; Neh. 13:19; Num. 10:10; Ezek. 46:3 and the words of our Saviour (Mat. 5:17-19; Jn. 4:21-23) because late in the 20th Century, man decided to adopt a universal conjunction calendar based on Jerusalem due to increased communication’.
Many have been swayed to adopt a Universal Conjunction Calendar by an erroneous interpretation of scripture found in 2 Kings 21:7 (cf. 2Chron. 6:6).
2Ki 21:7 ESV And the carved image of Asherah that he had made he set in the house of which the LORD said to David and to Solomon his son, "In this house, and in Jerusalem, which I have chosen out of all the tribes of Israel, I will put my name forever.
What is ironic is that those who use the above verse to support the argument that we should all adopt Jerusalem’s conjunctions and abandon our own, (thus establishing two distinct calendars by default), is that they are in breach of the very same sin, spiritually, that Manasseh, King of Judah, is referred to as having committed.
The Hillel and Universal Conjunction Calendar are idols because neither abides by the law and word of God, but rather, are the works of man's hand. What these people have done is set up a spiritual idol in the hearts and minds of the people, which is the Temple of God today (1Cor. 3:16-17; 2Cor. 6:16). By this, they defy God to His face, in open rebellion before everyone.
The leaders of these religious organisations who promote the uptake of false calendars based on faulty theology are like the kings of Judah and Israel who caused Israel to sin. For fear of making their leader their enemy, these so-called 'kings' decree is enough to corrupt the generality of unthinking people, who do as their leader does, right or wrong. Those who disregard God’s word, and make others to follow suit have sealed their own fate (Mat. 5:19). God is seeking those who will worship Him in spirit and in truth (Jn. 4:24).
Some might even argue that by only observing Jerusalem's conjunction it perpetuates a certain holy or righteous deed. Some may even keep it out of misguided loyalties to past associations or persons. Make no mistake; the Lord is weary of bearing calendars devised by man(kind).
Bring no more vain oblations; incense is an abomination unto me; the new moons and sabbaths, the calling of assemblies, I cannot away with; it is iniquity, even the solemn meeting. (14) Your new moons and your appointed feasts my soul hateth: they are a trouble unto me; I am weary to bear them. (Isa 1:13-14, emphasis added)
If we’re truly honest, blatant misrepresentation of scripture to rationalise disobedience in the name of conformity or convenience, in the face of numerous scriptures which say otherwise, is nothing more than willful sin.
Exod. 20:24-25 'You shall make an altar of earth for Me, and you shall sacrifice on it your burnt offerings and your peace offerings, your sheep and your oxen; in every place where I cause My name to be remembered, I will come to you and bless you. 25 If you make an altar of stone for Me, you shall not build it of cut stones, for if you wield your tool on it, you will profane it (Emphasis added.
Under the Wikipedia article, “Hebrew Roots/New Moon” the following statement is made.
The New Moon is a precise astronomical event and can occur on different days because of the rotation of the earth. The determination of the New Moon, therefore, must be determined from the time in which it occurs in Jerusalem to ensure the uniformity of religious worship throughout the world, given increased communication. (Emphasis added)
Here, the New Moon is acknowledged correctly as a precise astronomical event that can occur on different days because of the rotation of the earth; no argument there. The question arises, are we permitted to reject or alter any of God’s commandments in light of "increased communications?" The word of God cannot be thrown underfoot just because man wants to fix what he perceives as an oversight perpetrated by God. The only way to 'ensure the uniformity of religious worship throughout the world' is total obedience to the word and will of God by everyone in the same manner.
When you boil it down, the use of a universal conjunction calendar (or any calendar other than the one God ordained from the beginning) accuses God of mismanaging the creation, given the technological advancements that would be made available to man from the 20th Century. It implies God got it wrong somehow, and we have to modify or correct His Word to make things more manageable now that we have microchips and satellites.
Any change to God's law dictates a redefining of God. When we go against scripture, what we are really doing is attempting to control God through a redefining of His Word and nature. Thus, the use of any type of calendar designed or adjusted by man is an attempt at defining God. God is now someone who is not steadfast and absolute and doesn't mind if we change His Word, statutes or commandments to suit ourselves. It insinuates that God doesn't understand our needs, and that He cannot be trusted continually or eternally and that from time to time, that even God makes mistakes, and that we, in our wisdom, have the right, the duty in fact, to change His Word, given we have the right intention or motive, i.e. unity, conformity or manageability. Worst still, it conveys the concept that God is no longer in control, that He is now absent from creation.
God is alive, and so is His word (Jer. 10:10; Heb. 4:12; 1Tim. 3:15). This is not our creation. In this matter, we simply can't just do what is right in our own eyes (Jud. 21:25). It is God who defines His terms of worship, not man. This same dangerous spiritual attitude was also present at the Tower of Babel (cf. Gen. 11:1-9).
God's word and His Law does not need repairing or mending for it is alive and active (Heb. 4:12).
2Tim. 3:16-17 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work .
Ps. 18:30 As for God, His way is perfect: The Lord’s word is flawless; He shields all who take refuge in him .
Ps. 33:4 For the word of the Lord is right and true.
Let's not forget, when God finished all his work and saw everything that he made he declared it to be 'very good' (Gen. 1:31). He did not declare it that it was simply, 'good enough'. There was nothing that needed fixing or mending at some future point.
God's word is clear; from the beginning of the physical creation, the Almighty has ordained only one method to determine the time for all of humanity (Gen. 1:14; Ps. 104:19). Scripture dictates the start and end of every day, weekly Sabbath and the first day of the month ANYWHERE on this planet is best determined using ONLY the sun and moon from our location (Ex 20:8–11; Neh. 13:19; Jer. 17:19-23; Jn. 4:21-23). That is what the law is now and what will continue to come forth from Jerusalem in the millennium under Christ's rule (Isa. 2:3; Mat. 5:17-19).
Christ did not come to destroy or loosen the Law or the prophets (Mat. 5:17). He is the same yesterday, today and forevermore (Heb. 13:8). If we truly understand what that means, we who make up his body should not even want to contemplate, worse still, be found guilty of adding to the law purely out of convenience, no matter the amount of technological advancement at our disposal.
When we look at it, what the churches are doing today is no different from the idolatrous practices of Ancient Israel in the past. We may consider ourselves more civilised and not so blatantly idolatrous, but we're not. Ancient Israel made gods out of wood and stone and fell into worshipping Baal. Today we've sunk to worshipping Baal by way of computer chips and communication devices; our gods are merely technological in nature.
Those that adhere to a first crescent calendar, whether determined locally or based on Jerusalem, follow a practice that is not found in the Bible. Crescent observation finds its roots in pagan religions. It is a well-documented fact of being the symbol for the moon god in Mesopotamian mythology as well as Assyrian and Babylonian history. Crescent observations were never observed by the patriarchs, Christ or the early Church.
The Babylonians observed the first day of the month from the first crescent. They then celebrated every seventh day as a holy day, offering sacrifices on the 7th, 14th and 21st day to their respective gods (see Wikipedia article ‘Babylonian calendar', subsection ‘Days'). This tradition of observing every seventh day as a Sabbath from the first of the month is still observed today by those who follow the Lunar Sabbath system.
The day, biblically defined, begins and ends at evening (Gen. 1:5; Lev. 23:32; Neh. 13:19; Acts 27:27-33). The world views the start and end of the day at midnight. Many religious groups, including Judaism, assume a new day starts and ends at the point of sunset; it does not. Sunlight is still emitted into the lower atmosphere even when the sun is just below the horizon (sunset), in some cases for nearly an hour.
God did not commence the creation week while there was still sunlight emitting from just below the horizon. God commanded light to appear while it was dark. God said, "let there light: and there was light" (Gen. 1:3). God did not say, ‘Let there be more light'. The light was the first thing God created in the Genesis account. Darkness was over the deep (Gen. 1:2).
Darkness precedes the light, commencing the first or early part of the day. Our new day, therefore, cannot begin just as the sun dips below the horizon, as it still emits light. The day, therefore, cannot start at dawn either.
The precise astronomical point when traces of light are very difficult, if not impossible to discern, is known as End Evening Nautical Time (EENT). It is when the sun's geometric centre is 18 degrees below the horizon. It is at this point the sun has indeed set. (The website is a useful resource for finding local conjunctions and EENT's).
There are two Hebrew words in the Old Testament related to the month. The most frequently used word is 'chodesh' (SHD 2320) generally rendered New Moon. The root word (SHD 2318) means to repair or make new. The other Hebrew word is 'yereach' (SHD 3394), and is the equivalent to the English month.
The first month of God's calendar is termed 'Abib' or 'Nisan' (Exod. 12:1-2, 18; Num. 28:16; Lev. 23:5).
The Ten Commandments
The beauty of the 10 Commandments (and all of God's Commandments that flow from them) is that they can be taken anywhere and applied wherever one resides without prejudice. Each of us has been given the ability and responsibility to confirm the start of our day, weekly Sabbaths as well as the day of the New Month via the faithful witness God provided equally to everyone (Ps. 89:37). The moon is an impartial witness not only for and against those living in Jerusalem, but for everyone no matter where we live.
Amid the Ten Commandments, the Fourth Commandment is the only one that directly relates to time. Nowhere is a specific landmark such as Jerusalem mentioned that we are to tie or align ourselves to. On the contrary, we are commanded to remember the Sabbath day,
"Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. (Exod. 20:8; ESV; emphasis added)
The very word ‘day' is derived from SHD 3117 from an unused root meaning to be hot; a day (as the warm hours), and is used in reference to an entire 24-hour day. Hence, the day can only be defined as to where one lives.
A day, by its very definition, only extends as far as its astronomical breadth. In the very same way, Jerusalem's New Moon conjunction is also limited to its astronomical territory.
Biblically, an average day is split into two equal amounts of 12 hours of daylight and darkness (Jn. 11:9). Proponents of a universal conjunction calendar have to change the definition of a day to comprise of some 40+ hours to ensure everyone around the globe fall under the one conjunction.
The Fourth Commandment starts off with the word "Remember". It is Strong's Hebrew Dictionary 2142 'zakar'. It means to mark properly, to be recognised, make mention, be mindful, remember, bring to remembrance. We are not just to remember to observe the Sabbath but also why it was instituted, what it looked forward to, and how it was initially determined, i.e. locally. How can the Churches today ask anyone to 'remember' to observe a universal conjunction calendar based on Jerusalem when it had never been adhered by any of the patriarchs, prophets, Christ or the early church?
The Fourth Commandment was not designed to be split or divided in its adherence or application once global communication was at everyone's fingertips. God ensured that within that commandment the word 'day' was stated so that we would determine the day of the New Moon like every other day, from our locality.
Even now and during the millennium, the reach of Jerusalem's weekly Sabbath day will not encompass every region at the same time. Scripture continually reiterates that the Sabbath day is regionalised (Jer. 17:19-23; Neh. 13:19).
God made it very clear; it is in the day of our gladness, in accordance to our dwelling place, in our solemn days and at the beginning of our months that we to come before Him in praise and worship (Num. 10:10, 28:11),
‘On the day of your gladness also, and at your appointed feasts and at the beginnings of your months, you shall blow the trumpets over your burnt offerings and over the sacrifices of your peace offerings. They shall be a reminder of you before your God: I am the Lord your God' (Num. 10:10; ESV; emphasis added).
Jerusalem's Sabbaths and New Moon conjunctions now and in the millennium will always belong solely to the people of Jerusalem who are within her gates.
Likewise the people of the land shall worship at the door of this gate before the LORD in the Sabbaths and in the New Moons. (Ezek. 46:3)
Thus said the LORD to me: ‘Go and stand in the People's Gate, by which the kings of Judah enter and by which they go out, and in all the gates of Jerusalem, 20 and say: 'Hear the word of the LORD, you kings of Judah, and all Judah, and all the inhabitants of Jerusalem, who enter by these gates. 21 Thus says the LORD: Take care for the sake of your lives, and do not bear a burden on the Sabbath day or bring it in by the gates of Jerusalem. 22 And do not carry a burden out of your houses on the Sabbath or do any work, but keep the Sabbath day holy, as I commanded your fathers.' 23 Yet they did not listen or incline their ear, but stiffened their neck, that they might not hear and receive instruction. (Jer. 17:19-23; ESV; Emphasis added)
As soon as it began to grow dark at the gates of Jerusalem before the Sabbath, I commanded that the doors should be shut and gave orders that they should not be opened until after the Sabbath. And I stationed some of my servants at the gates, that no load might be brought in on the Sabbath day. (Neh. 13:19; ESV; Emphasis added)
Christ gave us a fascinating insight as to where, how, and when we would worship the Father,
Jesus saith unto her, Woman, believe me, the hour cometh, when neither in this mountain, nor in Jerusalem, shall ye worship the Father. 22Ye worship that which ye know not: we worship that which we know: for salvation is from the Jews. 23But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and truth: for such doth the Father seek to be his worshippers (Jn. 4:21-23; RV; emphasis added).
Here Christ told the women that God's true worshippers would unhinge themselves of the need of a physical temple in Jerusalem. We would come to worship the Father in spirit and truth, in accordance to His will, word, law, and commandments and in turn become the temple of God (1Cor. 3:16, 17; 2Cor. 6:16).
Physical Jerusalem is merely a transitory habitat, not a final destination. Christ is getting us to focus on the New Jerusalem, a spiritual city in the spiritual realm. This is what the patriarchs and prophets understood and what they looked forward to upon their resurrection (Rom. 4:13).
In 2017 for example, those in Australia who observe Jerusalem conjunctions instead of their locally assigned ones found they had to postpone the first day of the 2nd, 5th and the 9th month.
In 2018 the 1st month of Abib had to be postponed by one day for those in Australia. This threw out the entire Passover and Feast of unleavened bread sequence. The same goes for 2020 where the first day of the 12th month is postponed along with the first day of the first month, throwing out the correct sequence and timing for the Passover and Feast of Unleavened Bread. The first day of the 5th and 7th month is also affected, throwing out the Day of Fasting or Day of Atonement on the 10th of Tishri (7th Month), as well as the Feast of Tabernacles and the Last Great Day. The ramifications are immense and cannot be understated. (See the paper, ‘The Passover of the New Covenant – Its Purpose and Correct Observation" at www.thecovenantofgod.com).
Are New Moons Holy?
Many Christians are unaware of their duty or responsibility in regards to New Moon or the first day of the month. The day of the each New Moon or ‘new month' is observed like a Sabbath day (Amos 8:5; Num. 10:10; 28:11; 1Sam. 20:5; 2 Ki. 4:23; 1 Chron. 23:31; 2 Chron. 2:4, 8:13, 33:3: Ezra 3:5; Ezek. 45:17, 46:1, 6; Isa. 1:13, 66:23; Hos. 2:11; Neh. 10:33; Col. 2:16).
Many like to pigeonhole the New Moons mentioned in scripture refer specifically to the seventh month, which is also the Day of Trumpets. But scripture shows us that it was every new moon. The people and merchants didn't complain about the one new moon in the year that buying and selling were not permitted (Amos 8:5).
Isaiah the prophet is clear that it is from every new moon and Sabbath the people will to come before the Lord to worship.
Isa. 66:23 RV And it shall come to pass, that from one new moon to another, and from one sabbath to another, shall all flesh come to worship before me, saith the LORD.
The Fourth Commandment is consistent in that it establishes the precedent that each day, Sabbath, New Moon, Holy Day and Feast of God are to be determined locally. In most cases, the weekly Sabbath is our first point of contact or introduction to time that God sanctifies and makes holy. Upon reflection, this is the perfect grounding tool to familiarise oneself with how God determines time on a personal level. We soon learn that any day must be observed according to local astronomical phases (i.e. where we live). Where we fail is that we don't make the necessary connection that the same rule still applies when determining the first day of the month as well.
‘Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. 9 Six days you shall labor, and do all your work; 10 but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God; in it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter, your manservant, or your maidservant, or your cattle, or the sojourner who is within your gates; 11 for in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day; therefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day and hallowed it.' (Ex 20:8–11, Emphasis added)
In Leviticus chapter 23, Exodus 31:13ff, Deut. 5:12-15, God laid down the structure and constraints for the fourth commandment by opening with the weekly Sabbath. By listing the weekly Sabbath first, God established the principle of localised time. The emphasis on "that very day" and "that person from among his people" are not throwaway lines.
‘Speak to the people of Israel and say to them, These are the appointed feasts of the LORD that you shall proclaim as holy convocations; they are my appointed feasts. 3"Six days shall work be done, but on the seventh day is a Sabbath of solemn rest, a holy convocation. You shall do no work. It is a Sabbath to the LORD in all your dwelling places.' (Lev. 23:2-3)
And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, 27 "Now on the tenth day of this seventh month is the Day of Atonement. It shall be for you a time of holy convocation, and you shall afflict yourselves and present a food offering to the LORD. 28 And you shall not do any work on that very day, for it is a Day of Atonement, to make atonement for you before the LORD your God. 29 For whoever is not afflicted on that very day shall be cut off from his people. 30 And whoever does any work on that very day, that person I will destroy from among his people. 31 You shall not do any work. It is a statute forever throughout your generations in all your dwelling places. 32 It shall be to you a Sabbath of solemn rest, and you shall afflict yourselves. On the ninth day of the month beginning at evening, from evening to evening shall you keep your Sabbath." (Lev. 23:26-32; ESV, emphasis added)
However, in Exodus 34, the Passover and the observance of seven days of eating nothing leavened and eating unleavened bread is mentioned before the weekly Sabbath (Ex. 34:18, 21). It is to be observed in the month of Abib, picturing our departure from spiritual Egypt. Jerusalem does not get a mention here, only the place of our former spiritual captivity where the first of the month of God's calendar was issued to Moses. That is significant.
The feast of unleavened bread shalt thou keep. Seven days thou shalt eat unleavened bread, as I commanded thee, in the time of the month Abib: for in the month Abib thou camest out from Egypt. (Exod. 34:18)
Today, Christ, our Passover, is the only cornerstone of the calendar we are to tie ourselves to, not Jerusalem. The point is, it doesn't matter where we are, as long as we are in Christ (Jn. 4:23-24). Case in point, when Noah and his family were in the ark, the waters covered the highest mountain top by 15 cubits.
Gen 7:19-20 ESV And the waters prevailed so mightily on the earth that all the high mountains under the whole heaven were covered. (20) The waters prevailed above the mountains, covering them fifteen cubits deep.
Noah would still have been required to observe God's calendar (weekly sabbath, New Moons) despite the fact there were no landmarks to identify his exact location. One major point being conveyed here is that our focus should not be where we are (or are not) but what we are in, specifically the body of Christ, symbolised by the ark that rose clear above the highest mountain top.
Sabbaths, New Moons and Holy Days
Both Leviticus chapter 23 and Exodus 34 work hand in hand and validate that God is not a God of confusion, but of steadfastness and faithfulness. Most often, the New Moons are mentioned between the weekly Sabbath and Holy Days (1Chron 23:31; 2 Chron, 2:4, 8:13, 31:3; Neh. 10:33; Hos. 2:11). We can surmise that it is not only to show they are to be kept as Sabbaths, but each one must be reckoned locally so the integrity of the Fourth Commandment is not compromised in any way.
The First Month of the Year
The first month of the year is based upon the timing of the liberation and redemption of God's people from bondage in Egypt (Exod. 12). The lamb that was sacrificed and roasted with its blood placed on the doorposts and lintels of every Israelite's home of the first exodus was a sign for the death angel to spare those living in that dwelling and pass-over them. It was a precursor to the sacrifice of our Lord and appointed Saviour, Jesus, the Christ, whose sacrifice now releases us from spiritual captivity.
When God released the nation of Israel from bondage during that Passover, He reinstituted the first month for His people everywhere. Thus, the Passover must be observed in this same month of the year by all who serve God around the world (Exod. 12:1-11; Deut. 16:1-6; Num. 9:1-3; 33:3; Josh. 4:19; Ezek. 45:18, 21).
The physical land of Israel with its seasons and harvests and the physical temple was chosen as a prototype in which the plan of salvation was illustrated physically.
Today, the Church, those called out, are the temple of God. Each of us now has been given the responsibility to conduct ourselves with the same principles and laws and statutes. The early church in the dispersion was no longer tied to a physical temple for God is our sanctuary (Ezek. 11:16).
The New Year is not determined based on when the spring season occurs on each side of the equator. Seasonal equinoxes are opposite on either side of the equator. As a result, the spring (vernal) equinox in the northern hemisphere is the autumnal (fall) equinox in the southern hemisphere. Therefore, the equinox that occurs in March (of the modern world calendar) is the one each person uses according to the equinox in their hemisphere of observance to determine the first month of the year.
The first month of the year for the entire globe must be in agreement with the New Moon nearest the spring equinox of the northern hemisphere where the Passover, the 14th of the first month, falls after the day of the spring equinox. The latest possible time (date) the equinox can take place is on the 14th of Abib, the day of the Passover. If the equinox falls on the first day of Feast of Unleavened Bread which is the 15th of Abib, then the day of the Passover, the day prior, falls within winter, as the Bible only has two seasons, winter and summer, delineated by the equinox.
The day of the Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread must take place in the same season, the sun having crossed the celestial equator into its hemisphere in spring when the amount of light continues to increase, reflecting our departure from sin and darkness. Consider Christ who is the light of the world (cf. Jn. 3:19, 8:12, 9:5).
If the equinox falls on the first day of Unleavened Bread (the 15th of Abib) or before both the Passover and the first day of Unleavened Bread, then what is known as an intercalary month (a 13th month) termed Adar II, is added to the year. This occurs naturally seven times out of 19 years. This natural phenomenon has been well understood for thousands of years. It is because we have been so accustomed to observing the Roman secular calendar all our lives that the concept of an intercalary month is foreign to us. It is the reason why we find ourselves saying, “winter is late one month" or "spring is early this year." Once we understand God's calendar requires intercalations, we are more able to determine the start and end of the seasons.
The Bible tells us Israel came out of captivity through the actions of the Angel of God, whom we know today as Jesus, the Christ, in the first month of Abib (Ex. 23:20-22; Josh. 5:13-15; Judg. 2:1).
Celebrate the Festival of Unleavened Bread; for seven days eat bread made without yeast, as I commanded you. Do this at the appointed time in the month of Aviv, for in that month you came out of Egypt. "No one is to appear before me empty-handed. (Exod. 23:15; NIV)
Thus, the beginning of the year is determined in reality by the redemptive work of Jesus Christ (who is the beginning of the creation; Rev. 3:14) pictured in the Passover of the Spring Feast in the northern hemisphere. It was at this time of the year when ancient Israel was freed from slavery in Egypt and Moses was told it was the first month (Ex. 12:2).
We cannot come before God empty-handed (Ex. 23:15). That is to say without an appropriate free-will offering to contribute to the Festival but most notably coming empty-handed spiritually, without Christ our Passover correctly acknowledged having preceded us. We cannot enter the marriage feast (first resurrection) without the groom (Christ) and the proper attire, which the sacrifice of Christ makes possible (cf. Matt. 22:1-14; Lk. 14:15-24).
People Disobeying the Sabbath - 40 Years in the Wilderness
In Exodus 16:29-30, ancient Israel was told to ensure every man was to remain in his place on the Sabbath day. What we found was that some in the congregation went "out of his place" on the seventh day expecting to find manna (v. 27), but they found none.
See! The Lord has given you the sabbath, therefore on the sixth day he gives you bread for two days; remain every man of you in his place, let no man go out of his place on the seventh day." 30 So the people rested on the seventh day. (Exod. 16:29-30; ESV; Emphasis added)
By forgoing local conjunctions to observe Jerusalem's when they aren't identical or apply to our locality, we have figuratively gone out of our place in regards to time and space. We are no longer keeping God's word to “remain every man of you in his place on the seventh day.” Note it says “every man” and “on the seventh day”. The observance of local astronomical signs applies to everyone, especially on the seventh day, a Sabbath. If we choose to use universal conjunctions based on Jerusalem, we find we will inevitably be asked to go out of our place, that is, our time-zone according to the heavenly signs.
By following man, we will eventually find ourselves in the same predicament as those who went of their place, in that they found no bread, which today is Jesus, the Christ, the bread of life. The lesson is in all this is that there is a penalty for willful disobedience.
God gave us His method of reckoning time so that we might know that it is the Lord God who we are to obey and who sanctifies us, and not man,
Moreover, I gave them my Sabbaths, as a sign between me and them, that they might know that I am the Lord who sanctifies them. (Ezek. 20:12; emphasis added)
Ezek. 20:10-12 ASV So I caused them to go forth out of the land of Egypt, and brought them into the wilderness. (11) And I gave them my statutes, and showed them mine ordinances, which if a man do, he shall live in them. (12) Moreover also I gave them my sabbaths, to be a sign between me and them, that they might know that I am Jehovah that sanctifieth them.
God wants us to walk in His statutes, His ordinances, according to His word and not in the doctrines or constitutions of religious organisations and their ministry.
Ezek. 20:18-20 ASV And I said unto their children in the wilderness, Walk ye not in the statutes of your fathers, neither observe their ordinances, nor defile yourselves with their idols. (19) I am Jehovah your God: walk in my statutes, and keep mine ordinances, and do them; (20) and hallow my sabbaths; and they shall be a sign between me and you, that ye may know that I am Jehovah your God.
Man's desire to want to move a Sabbath day is nothing new. Beginning in Rome, in the First century CE, the early church witnessed the efforts by the Romanised Christian Church to change the annual observance of Passover on the fourteenth day of the first month, to observing Easter in its place on the following Sunday. From this unauthorised change in God’s law, it became easier for the Romanised church to eventually move the weekly day of worship from the Sabbath (Saturday) to Sunday by the mid-third century, becoming the fixed custom it is today. We see the same thing developing in regards to the determination of the New Moon.
For some time now, religious organisations and groups have not only fooled around with the idea that we should adopt a universal conjunction calendar (UCC) based on Jerusalem but have openly accepted it as part of their doctrinal faith. It has become so embedded in the psyche of some churches today that they are oblivious that it actually creates two different calendars operating simultaneously, questioning God's character and opposing His word and authority in the process. It is reminiscent of the same rebellious attitude that occurred with the golden calf (cf. Exod. Ch. 32). Both the UCC and golden calf were unanimously craved and accepted by the entire congregation and both were designed and created by man. The use of engraving tools by Aaron symbolises the etching into doctrine and permanency upon the people’s minds by their ministry. Both were used as vehicles to worship God and establish days of worship according to man's desires. Each one was viewed as a vehicle to worship God, and in no way viewed as an idol or in breach of God's word which it was.
1Co 10:1-12 ESV For I do not want you to be unaware, brothers, that our fathers were all under the cloud, and all passed through the sea, (2) and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea, (3) and all ate the same spiritual food, (4) and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank from the spiritual Rock that followed them, and the Rock was Christ. (5) Nevertheless, with most of them God was not pleased, for they were overthrown in the wilderness. (6) Now these things took place as examples for us, that we might not desire evil as they did. (7) Do not be idolaters as some of them were; as it is written, "The people sat down to eat and drink and rose up to play." (8) We must not indulge in sexual immorality as some of them did, and twenty-three thousand fell in a single day. (9) We must not put Christ to the test, as some of them did and were destroyed by serpents, (10) nor grumble, as some of them did and were destroyed by the Destroyer. (11) Now these things happened to them as an example, but they were written down for our instruction, on whom the end of the ages has come. (12) Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall. (Emphasis added)
Heb 3:15 ESV As it is said, "Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion." (Emphasis added).
We, the Church, the temple of the Living God, are supposed to be one body, with one spirit, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father over all (Eph. 4:4-5). This cannot occur until God's true biblical calendar is restored and observed in the same manner by everyone as it was ordained from the very beginning. Whether we want to accept it or not, the Fourth Commandment incorporates all of God's Feasts, from the weekly Sabbath to the first day of the month (New Moon).
The fundamental lesson in all this and it is that we all must observe God's Word, in the same manner, method and degree no matter where we live. God has not ordained two means of calculating time; one for those in Jerusalem and another for everyone else outside her gates. God wants us to trust Him with all our hearts and not lean to our understandings or follow the traditions of men. In all our ways we are to acknowledge Him, and in doing so, He will direct our paths (Prov. 3:5-6).
And for those who observe or promote a universal Jerusalem conjunction calendar and find comfort in the fact that none of their days differs to that of Jerusalem, the word of the Lord says,
You shall not spread a false report. You shall not join hands with a wicked man to be a malicious witness (Exod. 23:1; ESV).
You shall not fall in with the many to do evil (Exod. 23:2a).
If there is any doubt as to whether or not the great falling away is yet to occur (2Thes. 2:3), we see that most Christians today have been deceived into following false calendars. Added to this is the confusion surrounding the correct observance of the Passover, (please read, ‘The Passover of the New Covenant – its Purpose and Correct Observation').
In both the calendar and Passover observance we come to realise Christ is the cornerstone. By altering either one, we remove the role of Christ and our part with him.
Copyright: © Peter Donis 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019
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