THE CALENDAR OF GOD
How can the Churches of God claim that Jesus Christ kept God's Holy Days using the fixed Hebrew Calendar with its "laws of postponement" when even 200 years AFTER Christ, in the days of the compiling of the Mishnah, this calendar was not yet in use?
Entry after entry in this record of the laws of the Pharisees gives examples of what to do if the months fall this way or the years work out that way, showing that in their day no prior knowledge of the length of a month or year existed.
Just to give one example from the Mishnah, in Megillah 1:4, the Jews keep the Feast of Purim in the middle of the last month of the year. Therefore they would most often keep it in the middle of the twelfth month. If, by the end of the same twelfth month, only two weeks after celebrating Purim, it was decided that a thirteenth month would be added to the year, the same Feast of Purim would again be held in the middle of the thirteenth month, because it has to be held during the last month of the year. However, if the calendar was fixed, as it is now, no such uncertainty would have existed. This is just one of a myriad of examples this book gives.
Following are a few more passages from the Mishnah:
-- Pesahim 7:10, in discussing the burning of the remains of Passover, says that this should be done on Nisan 16, unless that day falls on a Sabbath, when the burning of the remains moves to Sunday the 17th of Nisan. That however would mean that Nisan 15, the first day of ULB, could fall on a Friday, which by the rules of postponement is impossible.
-- Menahoth 11:7 mentions the Day of Atonement falling on a Friday. However, this is not possible by the rules of postponement. According to the fixed calendar we use, the Day of Atonement can only fall on Monday, Wednesday, Thursday or Saturday.
-- Megillah 1:2, dealing with the Jewish festival of Purim (Adar 14 or 2nd Adar 14, whichever is the last month of the year), shows that this festival can fall on a Sabbath, but by the rules of postponement this never happens. It also makes provision for this day falling on a Monday, which also cannot happen by the rules of postponement.
-- Taanith 2:10 mentions the Jewish fast of Ab, Ab 9, falling on Sabbath eve. By the rules of postponement it never does.
- Arakin 2:2 says "There are never less than four full (30 day) months in the year, nor ... more than eight". The first clause does not line up with the current fixed Hebrew Calendar the Churches of God follow, as there are never FOUR thirty day months in the Hebrew calendar in use today. The second clause can apply, as a 13 month year can have 8 thirty day months and 5 twenty-nine day months, making a 385 day year.
- Erubin 3:7 states "If at the New Year (Rosh Hashanah) a man feared that the (sixth) month might be intercalated (made a 30 day month).........". Nothing to "fear" with the fixed Hebrew calendar, as all is known in advance. The sixth month ALWAYS has 29 days on the Hebrew calendar.
- Eduyoth 7:7 - "the year could be declared a leap year (a 13th month added) any time during Adar; whereas it had been taught: only until Purim (the middle of Adar)". This cannot apply to the calendar the Churches of God use, as all the leap years are known in advance.
There are many more such examples in the Mishnah.
A gradual development of the calendar can be seen by studying the Mishnah (200AD), the Tosefta (Approx. 300AD), the Jerusalem Talmud (4th Century) and the Babylonian Talmud (5th Century). However, even the Babylonian Talmud does not contain all the Hebrew calendar laws as they exist today.
The only proof being offered that Christ kept the days of postponement is the way the days fell in the suggested year of His death, 31AD.
See the partial email exchange from April 2010 between the author and MN (name withheld), PCG calendar "expert" below, which refutes this "proof".
The two part article titled "God's Sacred Calendar" referred to can be found at www.thetrumpet.com searching for "calendar".
Writing in purple, highlighting and underlining has been inserted by the author.
From: Ron Mey
Date: April 24, 2010 7:46:41 AM CDT
Subject: [FEEDBACK] Re: God's Sacred Calendar (Part Two)
Name: Ron Mey
Article: (DocID: 4884) God's Sacred Calendar (Part Two)
.........if I may I would really like to ask a question regarding the working out of Tishri 1 in the year 31 AD as stated in your article. It says that the new moon (molad) was at 23:52 on Thursday night. To the best of my information however (Googling "new moon visibility") the new moon is only visible for about half an hour just after sunset (until moonset) which is why the Jews would look at sunset or just thereafter for the new moon. This new moon therefore that occurred by CALCULATION late on Thursday night would not have been VISIBLE until Friday sunset. If my reasoning is correct, wouldn't this mean that observation on the one hand and the rules of postponement on the other would lead to one and the same day for Tishri 1 in 31 AD ?
Kind regards and all the best,
...As you mentioned, it comes out the same this year whether you go by the calculations and postponement rules or if you go by visual location and postponement rules.....
Greetings Mr N,
Thank you for responding to me so promptly.......................... but now I'm left somewhat confused. The
before mentioned trumpet.com article says that Tishri 1 in 31 AD falling on Saturday and therefore Passover in the same year falling on a Wednesday is proof that Christ kept the laws of postponement. If, as you confirm, visual observation alone as well as visual observation combined with the laws of postponement lead us to the same Saturday for Tishri 1, 31 AD, how can it be proof of Christ keeping
the laws of postponement?
All the best,
I believe the (that) I can clear this point up. The new moon is visible any time after sunset, not “just” after sunset. It is normally not visible during the day light hours because the light of the sun overwhelms the faintness of the crescent moon. That means the new moon would have been visible in 31 A.D. from 11:52 until sunrise.
I hope this is helpful.
(Insert by the author: Pardon the pun, but this highlighted statement is total "lunacy". I hope the reader can recognise the absolute folly here. It comes from modern living, with a calendar on the wall, and never actually going out and observing the heavenly bodies as God intended. Research "new moon visibility" and learn about this if you are as ignorant as I was before doing this study).
Greetings Mr N,
Sorry to bother you again and I really don't want to be contentious, but if you don't mind, I'd like to present the following points. When you say that the new moon is in the sky during the day, but cannot
be seen, that is absolutely correct. To quote an internet source: "At the astronomical new moon (conjunction), the moon is positioned between the sun and the earth, and cannot be seen at all. After a day or so, the moon has moved slightly out of the almost direct line between sun and earth and so the sun illuminates a slight crescent of the moon. This however cannot be observed during the day either, because of the sun's light, until sunset, when for a short period of time this crescent is visible from earth, until the earth's ongoing rotation spins the observer away from the moon, which is moonset. No moon is visible for the rest of that night at this early stage of the lunar cycle, as the moon is still positioned between the earth and the sun, not on the dark side of the earth where it is night time"
Following are a number of quotes (only one reproduced here, as this is so obvious) to show the time of visibility of the new moon.
"...the new moon is only visible at a specific time of the day; between sunset and moonset. At this stage of the moon's orbit, the interval between sunset and moonset is often not more than half an hour. It is only in this short period of time, when the sun is isolated from the moon and deep enough below the horizon, that the sky becomes sufficiently dark for the thin moon crescent to become visible against its background."p100, "Calendar and Community - A History of the Jewish Calendar 2nd Century BCE -
10th Century CE" (Rabbi) Professor Sasha Stern - Oxford University Press.
All the very best,
Such is the proof offered for Christ keeping the Jewish calendar laws of postponement; the proof doesn't exist.
The above mentioned article, by the way, is still published in the same form on the PCG website.
The simple truth is that the calendar was kept by observation, throughout Biblical times, as shown in God's Word.
Gen 1:14 states right from the beginning that the sun and the moon were intended to be used to keep time on Earth, to determine seasons (lit. "appointed times" - Heb "moed"), days (by the moon) and years (by the sun).
There is only one way the sun can indicate the start of the year and the halfway point of the year, and that is by the two equinoxes. God tells us in Exodus which of the equinoxes begins the year: it is the time of new growth, the time we call Spring. In Joseph's dream recorded in Gen 37:9-10, the sun is a type of the husband (and Christ) and the moon is a type of the wife (and the Church). This makes it easy to see that the sun should determine the start of the season and then the first new moon that follows starts the year, just like any Bible believing couple is led by a man, with a wife who is obedient to him. The first new moon, called Abib in Scripture, is a type of the new spiritual growth God is looking for in His Church as it follows him.
The Bible mentions only two seasons: Summer and Winter. Summer is that half of the year when the days are longer than the nights. Winter is the other half of the year when the nights are longer than the days. In Jer 36:22 we see this confirmed where the text mentions it being the ninth month (approx. December), Winter, and cold. The same is seen in the New Testament, in John 10:22-23, where Christ is in Jerusalem during the Feast of Dedication (Hanukkah). Again, it is said to be "Winter". This Feast is kept late in the ninth month, corresponding roughly to our December.
The above two events are more than 600 years apart. Clearly the people knew how to keep the calendar in harmony with the solar year.
Likewise, the months were kept by observing the moon, thereby keeping the calendar in sync with the moon. When observation was not possible, 30 days per month were counted, as in the account of Noah on the ark, until observation was restored and the months were again brought into harmony with the moon.
Noah appears to have spent an exact solar year of 365 days on the ark, from the 17th day of the second month when the flood began, until the 27th day of the second month the following year (Gen 7:11 and 8:14-16). Therefore He can't have been counting 30 days for every month permanently.
Noah kept time while he was on the ark, and also when it ran aground in the country that is called Turkey today. Moses kept the calendar in Egypt and Arabia. Ezekiel kept time in Babylon, and Israel did it in the land of Israel.
A great number of men of God have recorded dates in Scripture, and the Scripture can't be broken, so their dates and method of dating, wherever they found themselves, though independent of one another, are considered correct.
A really unfortunate aspect of not keeping God's feasts by observation is the lesson missed in keeping the Feast of Trumpets. This feast of course is kept on the first day of the seventh month. If you keep the day by observation, you don't know exactly when it will come until you observe the actual new moon. You're in suspense until the end of the sixth month.
This is exactly what is pictured by this day.
Trumpets pictures the return of Christ. The fact that we would have to be ready to observe the day each year without knowing exactly when it's going to come, would therefore be a perfect picture of the timing of Christ's return. Unfortunately, by keeping this feast with a fixed calendar, this built in lesson from God is missed by us every year.
Another matter needs to be taken into consideration regarding the rules of postponement of the fixed calendar. The rules were formulated to ensure certain problems wouldn't arise concerning preparations etc. However, we keep both Passover and Pentecost on different days from the Jews. The difficulties avoided only apply to the days as kept by the Jews, not the days the Church keeps !!
When Emperor Constantine decided to fix the date of "Pascha" at the Council of Nicea, one of the reasons was that he didn't want to be like the Jews, who could be observed in different cities keeping this festival on different days or even months, depending on the local reckoning of time in their particular locality.
The greatest authority on the Hebrew calendar that the author is aware of is Professor (Rabbi) Sacha Stern of the University College in London. His thesis "A History of the Jewish Calendar, 2nd Century BCE - 10th Century CE" would have to be the most in depth and detailed research done on this subject. I'll give just two quotes from this book:
1) "The use of the present-day rabbinic calendar for ancient Jewish datings is an anachronism which unsuspecting historians ........ too frequently commit". (p136, footnote 111).
2) "Contemporary rabbinic sources ...... reflect rabbinic wishful thinking rather than historical reality". (p83)
What he proves in his studies is that the current Hebrew "rabbinic" calendar, which both the Jews and most Holy Day keeping Christians use, did not come into general use until the 10th century AD. The much quoted "Hillel", who supposedly revealed the way to keep the fixed calendar, is not referred to in either of the Talmuds and is not found in Jewish writings until the 11th century AD!! As late as the 9th century AD, Jewish sources still show debate as to whether to intercalate the year, showing that, even then, the calendar was not yet fixed. What this means is that it is impossible to use the current Hebrew calendar and just count back and determine dates like the day Passover fell on in the year Christ died. It also shows that Jesus Christ did not keep the modern "laws of postponement". The calendar in His day was kept by visual observation.
One also needs to keep in mind that as much as we may love the Jewish people, most of them did reject Christ, and the majority of Jews continue to do so in their teachings and beliefs. Check out James Ussher's "Annals of the World" Appendix G, or any Jewish chronological timeline. An amazing fact, unknown to most people, is that the Jewish version of the timeline of history has cut the Persian Empire's period of rule down to 53 years, reducing it by well over a hundred years. Why was this done? In the second century this story was concocted to deny the embarrassing truth that the Messiah the Jews rejected had fulfilled the 70 week prophecy of Dan 9!!!! Although this is not directly related to the calendar, it does show an agenda of re-writing history.
The author acknowledges that keeping God's calendar, and therefore the Holy Days, correctly, according to local time, will require the promised "restitution of all things" (Acts 3:21), but at least the Churches should be open about this matter and admit that the calendar by which we keep these days is not the way it was done in biblical times, but rather a later invention. The Scriptures do refer to "Jewish fables" (Titus 1:14), something the Jews must have been partial to. The Hebrew calendar is certainly not part of the "oracles of God" (Rom 3:2), as has been commonly taught in the Churches of God.
The conclusions reached above leave sincere Christians with the question as to what they should do regarding the keeping of God's Feasts. Should they try, by themselves, to determine a calendar, and to keep these days alone to the best of their ability? In many ways this would seem to defeat the purpose of the Feasts, as they are meant to be "holy convocations". I can't see much purpose in sitting all by myself in a hotel room somewhere, keeping the Feast of Tabernacles alone. It was twice declared to Moses that "you shall proclaim" these days in Lev 23:2 and 23:4. Therefore the ball is in the court of the leadership of the Churches to make the right biblical decisions.