Ignorance is bliss. When a person first begins to learn about the Sabbaths, New Moons, and Feast Days of the Biblical calendar, they begin by thinking that this is the most wonderful discovery of all time! You know what, I believe it truly is a wonderful discovery. Discovering any of Yahweh's commandments to apply to your life is beautiful. After all, Yochanan (John) wrote in 1 Yochanan 5:3 - "This is the love of Yahweh, that we keep His commandments, and they are not a burden." If we are interested in loving our Creator, then we MUST be interested in loving all of His commandments. From the least to the greatest.
I'm writing this post because there are just SO many differences when it comes to calculating the calendar among brethren. I use the term brethren purposefully, because I want to be clear that I personally know men that disagree with me on let's say, the timing of the new moon, that are my spiritual brothers in Messiah. Our disagreement on the timing of the new moon doesn't mean we're not brothers, and it certainly doesn't mean we must dis-fellowship one another because of our differences. I have met some people in my life who will dis-fellowship you for every single, little thing and it always turns out that they are the only person in their fellowship. We need to realize that there are brothers and sisters out there who love Yahweh, but who come to different conclusions after studying. I believe we should still meet with one another, discuss our differences, and do our best to come to a unified understanding on such issues, but this all must be done in love rather than pride, strife, hatred, etc.
I do try to be as ecumenical as possible with people. That doesn't mean I am a man of compromise, but it does mean that I try to conform for the sake of unity on grey areas in Scripture that I honestly feel could go either way. At the same time, there are areas I've studied long and hard about concerning the calendar (the topic of this particular blog article), and I cannot in good conscience follow a pattern that I believe can be dis-proven by Scripture.
Take this issue of the new moon for example. You've got people who believe the new moon is determined by conjunction and others by the first visual crescent sighting of the moon (in the west). You've got others who try their best to link up the Sabbaths each moon with the major phases of the moon, even though this is an absolute impossibility to do across the scale because the moon does not phase in exact 7 day intervals. People who are bent on doing this have alternating new moon days whether they realize it or not. This is because in one month the quarter moon phase may align with conjunction. The next month the same phase may align with the first visible crescent method.
Take this coming up 9th new moon (Nov-Dec 2012). We see that by looking ahead the moon will be a have on Tuesday evening, November 20. However, the moon will not be full until Wednesday evening, November 28. http://www.moonconnection.com/moon_phases_calendar.phtml
I'm of the persuasion that the new moon is determined by the conjunction, and that after determining the new moon the Sabbaths of each moon/month are counted to in intervals of 7. This means that sometimes the Sabbaths will line up on the quarter phases and full phase of the moon, but it is not a necessity. This seems to me to be the most Scriptural way of doing things. The moon begins to rebuild after its conjunction with the sun. This means that the day after conjunction is the first full 24 hour day of the rebuilding moon. Everything is pulled from there each month.
My reasons are detailed here:
I'm open to correction, but sometimes it's difficult to have an honest, intelligent discussion with others about these matters. It would be nice if the men of Yahweh would take things more seriously and make the decision to fast, pray, and then come together in humility to discuss topics like this.
Most of the time when I tell people that I use the moon for determining the calendar they look at me as though I'm from another planet; one time someone thought I was a Wiccan; go figure.
Most of the time this stems from just a simple lack of knowledge, a lack of knowledge that we all have at one point or another in our life. What we need to learn to do is research what we hear from others. This way we will not pass unrighteous judgment on someone for believing a certain way or ways.
Take this little bit of information about the moon for instance. We use the word "honeymoon" in our culture to speak of the vacation a newlywed couple takes. Have we ever stopped and thought about why we call this time period "honeymoon?" The word honey-moon (originating probably in the 1500's) is a compound word stemming from two words "honey" and "moon." The word "honey" refers to the sweetness of time (or according to some scholars the sweetness of wine) the newly wed couple will have. The word "moon" refers to the time period of the vacation. The word moon is where we get our derivative word "month." Months, in various cultures in the past, where determined by the length of the lunation period, about 29 or 30 days. We see then that we are acknowledging that months used to be determined by the moon every time we speak the word "honeymoon."
We don't ask ourselves enough, "Why do we use this word?" or "Why do we practice this?" The next time someone speaks something to you that sounds strange to your ear, take the time to research what they are saying before jumping to any unfounded conclusions.
Just a little bit of study will show that the new year is not on January 1 (in mid-winter), but rather in the spring when everything is coming to life and being re-born. Grass starts growing again, leaves come back on the trees, birds start chirping, and nature starts singing. The first month on the Biblical calendar is named Abib (Exodus 12:2; 13:4) meaning "ears of grain." The month name stems from the harvest of barley in the spring-time. The Biblical calendar is found in the heavens, Genesis 1:14-18. It consists of the sun, moon, and stars.
The pre-46 B.C. Roman calendar actually had lunar months that began on what was called then the kalends of March or March 1. March 1 then and March 1 now do not coincide because March now is an arbitrary solar month that consists of strictly 31 days. March - pre-46 B.C. - was a lunar month consisting of either 29 or 30 days depending upon the lunar cycle. The Roman month of "Martias" (March) was the moon that came closest to the spring equinox. This equinox which takes place on the current Gregorian calendar around the latter part of the month of March.
In 46 B.C. Julius Caesar of Rome, under the advice of an astronomer named Sosigenes decided to discard the moon from the Roman calendar and adopt a strictly solar calendar. The reason that January (then Ianuarius) was chosen to be the first month on the calendar was because it was named after the god Ianus (Janus), a two faced god of new beginnings. He was the god of gates, doors, births, etc. He had one face to take out the old year and bring in the new. He was sometimes depicted holding the number 300 in one hand and the number 65 in the other.
After I studied this out years ago, it seemed to me that I should acknowledge and celebrate the beginning of Yahweh's year, not the beginning of a year that is completely out of kilter with nature and dedicated to a pagan, heathen god. Here are some links to get you started if you want to search this out yourself.
It seems that as the Scriptural year comes close to ending I always find myself doing more reading and research on the Biblical calendar. I do this I guess to refresh my mind on why I have made the decisions I have made in regards to how to begin the Biblical new year, and sometimes I do so because I have been challenged by others who feel that the method I've chosen to use is incorrect.
I have found that many in the modern "feast-keeping movement" (for lack of a better term) are very adamant that their way is the right way and that all other ways are false inventions of man. Some people will put you right into the lake of fire if you don't agree with them on the calendar. I'll be the first to say that I really would like for the Biblical calendar to be laid out in kindergarten terms in Scripture, but I've come to realize that this is just not the case. I do believe that we can arrive at some solid foundational conclusions, but when it comes to tedious points on what exactly constitutes a new moon or how exactly is the new year to be determined, the Scriptures are grey rather than black and white.
I by no means am faulting Yahweh on this point. He "calls the shots" if I may say and I believe He has placed in Scripture what we need to know for eternal salvation. All I am saying is that the exact directions for certain calendar calculations are not spelled out in the Bible. The Bible never gives us a command like this: "Thou shalt begin the first month of the year with the conjunction of the moon that takes place after the spring equinox." I currently believe that this is how the first new moon of the new year is to be determined, but I'm not going to be so one-track minded as to think that I'm 100% certain that this is how it is to be done.
I have good friends that I believe love Yahweh dearly who disagree with me on how to begin the new year. This sometimes leads me and my friends to keep feasts days in different months or new moons on different days. I do not believe that doing so marks them for destruction or that they (or me for that matter) are committing intentional sin. They could be in error, I could be in error, or we both could be in error. I believe they are trying just as much as me if not more so to do their best to serve Yahweh in the area of keeping His appointed times.
I do know some people who are very quick to bring up the issue of Jeroboam's false 8th month feast when certain feast keepers keep what they call a "late Tabernacles." For those that don't have a clue what I'm talking about go read 1 Kings 12, specifically verses 25-33, but the entire chapter should be read. Basically, Yahweh ordained that the Feast of Tabernacles be kept in the 7th month of His calendar, but Jeroboam devised a month in his own heart and thus moved the Feast from the 7th to the 8th committing all sorts of abominations along the way.
Sometimes I keep a later Tabernacles than other feast-keeping groups because I use a different method than them. There are many other people who believe as me and they too keep a "later Tabernacles" than other people in certain years. Sometimes you hear people say things like: "They are keeping Jereboam's 8th month feast!" Sometimes they say it loud and boastfully, but others say it with true concern in a gentle manner. Is there a possibility that some people are today keeping the Feast of Jeroboam?
My answer is no for the most part. Here is why. Everyone that I know personally today that keeps the Feasts of Yahweh does so genuinely wanting to keep His feast. They are not seeking to move His feast from the 7th to the 8th month on purpose. Their heart isn't seeking to make golden calves and bring in false worship. They are rather seeking to please Yahweh. Now that being said, could I among others possibly be keeping the 8th month instead of the 7th? Yes, it is possible, but the situation is not the same as with Jereboam. I am not purposefully keeping a wrong feast.
See, in the time of Jereboam there was no argument as to when the 7th month on Yahweh's calendar was. Everyone agreed because everyone knew exactly when the 7th month occurred. Therefore what Jereboam did was deliberate, intentional, and downright rebellious. Today, there exists people who love Yahweh on all sides of the calendar debate. We are discussing and debating which month is the 7th, so we should not condemn another person if they choose a different month than us because they really believe it to be the 7th. Jereboam didn't really believe that His 8th month was Yahweh's 7th month. You should see the difference.
I would suggest that you now read 2 Chronicles 30. Here we see a Passover and Feast of Unleavened Bread celebrated with a pure heart, but without all the i's dotted and t's crossed. I believe we should make an effort to dot the i's and cross the t's but if we fall short while making the effort Yahweh sees the intention of the heart. He sees that you are doing your very best and if you don't get it all exactly right it's not out of an evil intent to distort His calendar, it's simply out of lack of knowledge on our part. Sometimes we lack knowledge not because we have not studied, but simply because we just don't know - it can be that simple.
There's so much more to say, but if you study the calendar again before this new year starts, study with an open mind towards others who see things a bit differently. Recognize that people are at different stages and that at least they are trying to serve Yahweh in the area of His appointed times even though they may not see eye-to-eye with you on all the particulars.
Blog by Matthew Janzen. Lover of Yahweh, Yeshua, my wife and 5 children. All else is commentary.