God’s Holy Day Calendar
Because man has tampered with God’s holy day calendar using his own reasoning rather than the Bible, much confusion has arisen about when to keep the holy days of Leviticus 23 that Jesus spoke, commanded, and kept in his lifetime on Earth. Since these days are holy, we must keep them at the time God prescribed. Here is what the Holy Spirit and the Word have explained to us about the timing of these days.
Note: The following article was written for the specific situation of the fall festivals of 2007 and was updated for 2011. A similar situation existed in 2008. The simple truth is that we decided to follow the Word of God rather than arbitrary Jewish rules to fix the dates for the holy days. You may submit technical questions to our web site, which will list the dates we have established with church and biblical authority. It is our responsibility as a church to establish these dates according to the Word of God and the understanding the Holy Spirit gives us. Much of this is rather technical, and you are only required to understand it according to your conscience. The responsibility before God lies with us. He expects us to obey according to our understanding, and since this involves church government, members are blessed according to their obedience. In the past, mistakes of calculation have been made, but God looks on our heart of obedience, and He has always corrected us when we went astray in understanding. We firmly believe we now understand the proper timing of His feasts, even though we realize that the Jews and some Sabbath keepers have not come yet to this understanding. Pastor Robert Scott
God has shown us that relying on the calendar that Jews and most Sabbath keepers use to fix the dates of the holy days is a mistake. Since we have begun to obey what the Holy Spirit revealed to us about the new moons, He has granted us greater understanding. He promised to lead us into all truth (John 16:13). While God has blessed and anointed those meetings held on the wrong days, He wants us fully in line with Him in order to receive the end-time blessings He has for us. He wants our "feasts on schedule" (Isa. 29:1).
We have discovered that what many call the Hebrew Calendar is no more than a calendar concocted by Judaism, not the Bible. It was initiated by Rabbi Hillel II in 358 A.D. and only completed in the eleventh century. It contradicts the Word of God, which establishes the "beginning of months" (Ex. 12:2) based on the time of the new moon of Nisan or Abib rather than the seventh month of Tishri. The later rabbis decided to base the calendar on what is known as the "Molad of Tishri" in the seventh month, making Rosh Hashanah New Year's Day1 They used arbitrary and unbiblical rules to postpone certain holy days based on their ideas of what should occur.2 They made their rules, which sought to avoid back-to-back Sabbaths such as a Friday Atonement, because of the legalistic burden they had added to the Sabbath days. These onerous laws of Judaism were the same ones Jesus condemned, even though the calendar postponements did not exist in His day. The Jewish Mishna (Besah 2:1, Sukkah 5:7, circa 200 A.D.) records that festivals such as Atonement did occur on Friday at times. So Jesus kept the holy days based on the exact time of the new moon. Had He kept the feasts on the wrong day, He would have sinned.
God, whose ways are simple, never made up these rules that changed the days He had ordained. We observe the Sabbath when it comes to us on the globe. We observe the new moons (first day of each month) as they occur in our area. No confusion exists, nor has it existed for millennia, regarding the exact time of the new moon, called "the conjunction." Once you find the right web sites today, finding the exact time of the new moon is easy.3 Historian Philo confirms that the new moons were determined, not by observation, but by preset calculations. Chinese records show that their ancestors migrated from the Middle East after the flood and kept the new moons as a monotheistic society, with exact new moon calculations from 2000 years B.C. to today. Their new moon times correspond exactly with those of the Naval Observatory. Astronomical archaeological sites in New England confirm the same.
When I studied the calendar in college in 1971, I read a manual that stated, "Since it is the responsibility of the Church to announce the time of each festival to the congregations, detailed understanding of the Hebrew calendar is not even necessary for a lay church member. When a holy day is to be kept is not for the individual Christian to decide." Time was when first-century pastors received correction from the Word, even if it came from members. Honest questions should not be squelched. Church mistakes are usually based on false or misleading premises. While it is true that the oracles of God, especially the Word of God, were entrusted to the Jews (Rom. 3:2), it is easy to take that too far. Do we, for example, accept what Jewish rabbis after Jesus added as rules to the calendar if those rules contradict the very oracles of God?
God answers: "To the law and to the testimony! If they do not speak according to this word, it is because they have no dawn [or light of truth]" (Isa. 8:20). It is ultimately the church's responsibility (with input from members!) to make binding decisions regarding which days to keep and which calendar to use (Mat. 18:18; Heb. 13:17). We are thankful that God is merciful and meets us where we are, and that members are also forgiving. Please forgive us for not having seen this sooner.
The new moon or first day of the seventh month is the time God fixed for the Day of Trumpets (Lev. 23:24), whereas Judaism fixes it as the third of that month for 2007. The new moon occured exactly at 6:45 AM on Tuesday, September 11, 2007, in Edmonton and fell within the same day in Jerusalem that year.
In consequence, "on exactly the tenth day of this seventh month" (Lev. 23:27) was the Day of Atonement, which fell on Thursday, September 20 in 2007. The timing must be exact, says God.
That put the beginning of the Feast of Tabernacles as sunset on Monday, September 24 (evening of the 15th of Tishri, Lev. 23:39). The first holy day, a day to abstain from work, as with Trumpets and Atonement, was Tuesday, September 25 (the day portion of the 15th). The Feast ended on Monday, October 1, the evening of which begins the Last Great Day, a holy day in which work is forbidden, celebrated with a service on Tuesday, October 2.
Those who choose to compromise use a variety of weak excuses. They try to confuse the new moon with the crescent, which is patently pagan, invoking the god of Sin and Baal worship. Yet lexicons make it clear that the crescent has nothing to do with the exact time of the new moon.4 Both history and the Bible show that officials knew in advance the exact time of the new moon, rather than having to rely on observation (I Sam. 20:18). Exceptions do exist, however.
The only times that observation is important is in the spring and fall. In the spring the timing of the barley harvest is key in fixing the proper date for the beginning of the new year. This new moon date can sometimes only be calculated a short time before the new moon, and thus the fixing of the dates of the spring holy days can only be determined at that time. Some years this date can be foreseen further in advance.
In the fall and spring, several times during a nineteen-year time cycle, the new moon may last for two days rather than one. This year, 2011, the new moon conjunction occurs at 11:09 AM Universal (England) Time, so it falls at 4:09 AM MDT here in Edmonton and at 1:09 PM in East Africa, where our brethren meet there. All time zones that fall with the sunset to sunset period of Monday, September 26 to Tuesday September 27 can thus begin observing the new moon lay down at this time.
An important stipulation must be made, however. This new moon is an extremely important one, called the Molad of Tishri, and it is declared by observation and the blowing of the trumpet in Jerusalem up to two hours after the sighting of the first crescent of the new moon at evening. Since the conjunction occurs both here and in Jerusalem during the morning or early afternoon, it cannot be observed until the evening, the evening of Tuesday, September 27. So the new moon is declared with the blowing of the trumpet (shofar) within two hours after its viewing, thus in the evening after sunset, and thus the beginning of a new day in God’s evening to evening reckoning. This means that, while the lay down portion of the new moon can begin Monday evening since the conjunction occurs within that day, the new moon and thus the Day of Trumpets or Molad of Tishri (seventh month in God’s calendar) is declared and celebrated beginning Tuesday evening, September 27. Services can be held that evening, but traditionally a service has been held the following day, which would still be Tishri 1, but in our Roman calendar would fall on Wednesday, September 28, which is the day on which we will hold our services here and in Africa.
In consequence, the Day of Atonement would fall on the Tenth of Tishri, or Friday, October 7 (beginning at sunset on Thursday, October 6), and thus our fast would begin on Thursday sunset and end Friday sunset.
The Feast of Tabernacles would begin on Tishri 15, which begins at sunset on Tuesday, October 11, with the important holy convocation that evening, followed by services the next day, Wednesday, October 12. The holy days are annual Sabbaths on which no business or normal work is to be done. These would include the Day of Trumpets, Atonement, the first holy day of Tabernacles, October 11, and the Last Great Day, which occurs on Wednesday, October 19, 2011.
While God did employ the Jews to preserve His Word and calendar, why should we let rabbis after the time of Jesus tell us what to do? Such a capitulation makes you wonder how the church would answer Paul's questions: "…what fellowship has light with darkness? Or what harmony has Christ with Belial, or what has a believer in common with an unbeliever [a compromising rabbi that does not know Jesus]? Or what agreement has the temple [church] of God with idols [putting tradition ahead of the Word of God]?" (II Cor. 6:15-16).
Paul warns us to come out of this world's system and not to touch that which is unclean. For the same reason we keep the Sabbath and not Sunday, we are perfecting holiness in reverence for God by keeping the days He commanded, not the days decided on by compromising rabbis (II Cor. 7:1).
Even the encyclopedia tells us that the Jewish calendar has been corrupted. Satan's main end-time tools to get Christians off track are intimidation, deception and compromise. He used all three in leading astray even those who were keeping, or at least trying to keep God's days.
Hillel II got help from Babylonian rabbis. God says to come out of her, the false system of Babylon (Rev. 18:4). Satan's fourth-century move to infiltrate and corrupt the church from within was not limited to the likes of constantly compromising Constantine. A watering down of the calendar that God's own people would use to determine the days they keep was already in the works.
God condemned Jeroboam for changing the Feast of Tabernacles from the seventh to the eighth month (I Kings 12:32-33). "Jerry" wasn't wary. He allowed Satan to set a feast date "devised in his own heart." While Satan often gets away with the big lies, in this end time he figured, "I'll just change God's days by postponing them a day or two, and nobody will notice they're keeping the wrong days, especially that awful one, Atonement, that prophesies my demise. The faithful won't fall for Sunday, but they'll fall for a little change, and they won't be keeping the right days. Aha!"
As with worshiper David, Satan used people against him who "devise deceitful words against those who are quiet in the land [keeping God's Sabbath rest]" (Ps. 35:20). David calls for shame and dishonor upon those, including the devil behind the details, who say, "Aha!" (verses 25-26).
All this brings new meaning to Isaiah 1:14: "I hate your new moon festivals and your appointed feasts…" The God who knows the end from the beginning knew this deception was coming and he also foresaw the repairing of the breach. We are not the first group to discover this, and we are thankful that some have had the courage to look beyond the smokescreen of justifications and embrace the truth that makes us free (John 8:32). Holiness is coming into alignment and agreement with God, and how important it is to keep His holy days at His appointed times, not ours. Our desire is to worship in spirit and in truth.
1Quote from W.E. Cox, ccg.org: "The concept of the New Year in Tishri as Rosh Hashanah is a post Temple pagan practice which entered Judaism in the third century of the current era. Rabbi Kohn, Chief Rabbi of Budapest, writing from 1894, makes mention of this important fact in the work Sabbatarians in Transylvania stating it entered at a third century and 'post-biblical' period (referring to Talmud Rosh haShanah 8a at n. 18 to ch. 7) (Ed. W. Cox, tr. T. McElwain and B. Rook, CCG Publishing, USA, 1998, pp. v, 58, 106 ff, et. seq. and nn.) Biblically the New Year is in Abib which is the First month."
2 Fixing Rosh HaShanah (New Year’s Day) Encyclopedia Judaica . "The year begins on Tishri 1, which is rarely the day of the molad, as there are four obstacles or considerations, called dehiyyah, in fixing the first day of the month (rosh hodesh). Each dehiyyot may cause a postponement of two days: (1) mainly in order to prevent the Day of Atonement (Tishri 10) from falling on Friday or Sunday, and Hoshana Rabba (the seventh day of Sukkot; Tishri 21) from falling on Saturday, but in part also serving an astronomical purpose... (2) entirely for an astronomical reason, if the molad is at noon or later Rosh HaShanah is delayed by one day (ibid., p. 44)."
3Google "new moons" and you'll find aa.usno.navy.mil/data/docs/MoonPhase.html, the Naval Observatory site, which will give you the exact GMT new moon time. Then go into theweathernetwork.com, click on your city (top left), then on Sun, Moon and Seasons, find your city again, click on "moon" and the date you just discovered at the naval site, click "calculate" and if you've chosen Edmonton on September 11, 2007, the exact new moon time is 06:45 (that's AM), meaning that's the day of the new moon (and Trumpets). The Jews keep Rosh Hoshanah two days later.
4The New Brown-Driver-Briggs-Gesenius Hebrew-English Lexicon says of this word (p. 294) that it means New Moon or Month ...“1. new moon as day, time of the new moon as a religious festival. 2. month as beginning with the New Moon”…The word is related to châdar (SHD 2314), to surround or enclose, to conceal or curtain. In its note on Strong's 2314, the Lexicon continues: "(as something surrounding) [from] II. conceal behind a curtain, conceal, confine. IV. conceal oneself, also abide, stay or remain behind also as sheathing a sword" (p. 294). [Thanks to Wade Cox and ccg.org for these and other quotes in this article].
5Britannica's 15th edition says on page 466: “The (Jewish) calendar is thus schematic and independent of the true New Moon.)”. Quoted from W. E. Cox The New Moons (No. 125), Christian Churches of God, 1995, 1999).