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.
It often comes as a shock to people I meet when I tell them that I celebrate the time of the new moon. I recently heard a speaker explain how that a person should not consider the observance of the new moon as important in this day and time. I guess these two positions on the new moon are entirely different though. One simply is ignorant of the celebration, maybe they've never even heard of such a celebration. The other knows of the occurence but believes the New Covenant era is not concerned with such a practice.
I remember talking to a very friendly woman one time about the Biblical Calendar. I explained to her, by going to Genesis 1:14-18, that according to the Bible we should based time on the sun, moon, and stars. Here response was, "Sounds like astrology to me!" I'll never forget that response.
Of course astrology was the furthest thing from my mind as well as Yahweh's mind when He inspired this text to be written. Maybe the word astronomy would better explain (at least to some extent) what I am speaking of. Genesis 1:14-18, when compared with Psalm 104:19, 136:7-9 and Jeremiah 31:34-35 teach that the sun and the moon were appointed for signs, festivals, days, and years. Most Bibles have the word "seasons" at Genesis 1:14 but many will footnote the word explaining that a fuller meaning of the Hebrew word here (moedim) has the meaning of appointed times or festivals. Some Bibles (HCSB, Moffat) will actually translate this Hebrew word as festivals or something of such like. What this teaches us clearly is that time, according to Scripture, should be based upon the heavenly lights created by the heavenly Father.
One such period of time that is sacred on Yahweh's calendar is the time of the new moon. We read in Scripture of special banquets at this time (1 Samuel 20), of people inquiring of prophets (2 Kings 4:23), of worship at the temple of Yahweh (Ezekiel 46:1-3), of Israelites refraining from commerce (Amos 8:5), and of not letting any man judge us in regards to celebrating the time (Colossians 2:16-17).
One of my favorite texts in regards to the sanctity and relavence of the new moon is Isaiah 66:22-23.
"For as the new heavens and the new earth that I make shall remain before me, says Yahweh, so shall your offspring and your name remain. From new moon to new moon, and from Sabbath to Sabbath, all flesh shall come to worship before me, declares Yahweh." [ESV]
Here we have what I like to call a "kingdom text." Verses 18-24 of this chapter have the idea of the kingdom written all over them. What I mean is the kingdom of Yahweh that Yeshua was sent to preach about (Luke 4:43). That is a king and domain or dominion that will rule in righteousness and holiness on the earth. According to this text in Isaiah we see not only Sabbath worship going on in the kingdom, but also worship taking place on the new moon! Thus a new moon celebration will be held in the kingdom! If that's the case, shouldn't there be relevance for a celebration on the new moon taking place now in preparation for the coming kingdom? I would think that this would be an accurate assessment.
Why not look up all the places in Scripture that deal with the new moon. I truly believe you will be astounded at what the Bible has to say about it.
Sometimes I have encountered people who have used passages as this one in Hosea to teach that the feasts of Yahweh, mentioned primarily in Leviticus 23, should not be observed under the New Covenant. Usually this verse is quoted, and then it is explained that this was a prophecy which spoke of a future time when Yahweh would place an end to these celebrations. The future time given by such interpreters is the time after the cross of Christ.
Sometimes, I am really amazed at the quality of study, or should I say lack of quality, that people put into texts of Scripture. I do not think that the intent of the prophet Hosea here is that difficult to ascertain, that is, if we read Hosea 2:11 in context of at least chapters 1-3 and even more so in the context of the entire prophetic work.
Hosea 1:1 tells us that Hosea was given a word of Yahweh during the reigns of certain kings in Judah and Israel, and in reading chapter 1 we find that Israel is likened to a promiscuous woman.
When Yahweh first spoke to Hosea, He said this to him: Go and marry a promiscuous wife and [have] children of promiscuity, for the whole land has been promiscuous by abandoning Yahweh. (Hosea 1:2 HCSB)
Here Yahweh basically setting the seen for the house of Israel to actually, physically see what they are doing to Yahweh. Israel was Yahweh's symbolic bride at the time, but Yahweh was so fed up with her going after other lovers that he was going to divorce the house of Israel and send them off into captivity.
Notice Hosea chapter 2. Yahweh begins by saying that Israel is not His wife, and He is not her husband. He orders her to remove the whorish look from her face, and the adultery from between her breast. Here, Yahweh uses such graphic language to reveal the seriousness of the transgression of His people. He had promised and given to Israel many blessings, yet she played the harlot and sought after other gods, which in reality were no mighty ones.
...their mother is promiscuous; she conceived them shamefully. For she thought: I will go after my lovers, the men who give me my food and water, my wool and flax, my oil and drink. (Hosea 2:5 HCSB)
When we read verses 6-10 we find that because of the actions of His beloved bride Yahweh would send strong calamity and cursing. This includes blocking her way with thorns and enclosing her with a wall (vs. 6), and taking back the grain, new wine, and oil that He had blessed her with (vs. 9). He would also remove the fine wool and linen that covered her nakedness, leaving her naked, cold, and ashamed in the sight of her lovers (vs. 9-10). Among all these curses came yet another, and this was the removal of her celebrations which she had been blessed with and enjoyed so much: the feasts, new moons, and sabbaths (vs. 11).
Yahweh is telling Israel that because she has played the harlot, He will remove the good and pleasant things He has given, including the festivals she enjoyed. Yahweh's removal of these festivals was a curse upon the people, seeing that they did not deserve to celebrate them, enjoying the blessings of fellowship with brethren, singing to Yahweh, and time off from laboring.
Yahweh surely did this very thing by sending the house of Israel into Assyrian captivity, causing the festivals to cease in Israel. These same festivals ceased for the nation of Judah as well, whilst in Babylonian captivity, yet they were restored during the time of Ezra and Nehemiah.
The true meaning of the text, in context, is that when Israel played the harlot, Yahweh took many things away from her which she once enjoyed. Grain, wine, oil, figs, jewels, wool, linen, beauty, and all the joyous festivals. All of these were precious gifts of her husband, but she left this husband, so He made her like a deserted, parched land (Hosea 2:3).
Nothing in the context leads to the conclusion that Yahweh has removed the feasts, new moons, and sabbaths from New Covenant worship.
Blog by Matthew Janzen. Lover of Yahweh, Yeshua, my wife and 5 children. All else is commentary.