New Moons Part One: A New Understanding
God's Recipe for Renewal
New moons. Sounds a bit strange. You might think immediately of a native smoking a peace pipe and talking about the new moon. Or you might think of new moons being a bygone relic of ancient Hebrew custom in the Bible.
God has thought everything all out. He knows the end from the beginning. He does nothing by accident. What He establishes always has a purpose, even if we don't always discover that purpose.
In fact, we as a church have only recently uncovered the value of the new moon celebrations. God showed us that we needed to obey this principle, laying down our long-term burdens to Jesus every month as we find out when the astronomical new moon occurs. We began to set aside that day (from sunset to sunset) as a sort of "turnover day." We invited members to come to the church altar to lay down sins, habits, fears, regrets and dreads and to bow down or prostrate themselves at Jesus' feet and release these burdens to Him.
This practice proved a great blessing for those who voluntarily submitted. We saw changes in their lives, a great freedom in Jesus.
We have always found that understanding comes with obedience (Ps. 111:10). The principle has proved true with the new moons. What seemed an unnecessary burden before has turned out to be a surprising benefit.
As we have laid down our darkness to Jesus during the dark night of the new moon, we have found that Jesus' light is shining "brighter and brighter until the full day" (Prov. 4:18).
This concept of darkness to light is the key that shed new light on our understanding of the new moons. In this article we will explore what God has given us so far on this overlooked subject.
Not in the "New Testament"?
We have already addressed the controversial argument condensed in the deceptive excuse, "That's Old Testament." This is no small hurdle for most Christians to negotiate. What adds to the challenge even for those of us who have known the truth about the Sabbath and the holy days is that new moons were never a commanded assembly like the feast days.
Furthermore, many argue that the new moons were never mentioned in what men call the "New Testament" (in reality, "The Last Words of Jesus," the "Old Testament" being His first words).
Surprise! The very verse men use to dishonestly prove that the Sabbath and holy days are done away is the verse that proves the opposite, as we shall see. This verse also shows that New Covenant Christians were continuing the voluntary practice of celebrating in some fashion the new moons.
Why Observe the New Moons?
But why? Why would Christians observe the new moons?
Years ago we thought we knew. After all, the only new moon that always falls on a holy day is what the Jews call the Molad of Tishri, that is, the first day of the seventh month, Tishri. It is indeed a new moon, as well as a high Sabbath.
Moreover, if we did not "observe" (in the sense of recognizing for the purpose of calendar calculations) the new moons, we could not know when to keep the annual holy days that are commanded by God to be observed in Leviticus 23. New moons are not listed in the commanded assemblies and holy days in that chapter, but someone must note the occurrence of those new moons in order to establish the calendar on which the feasts are based.
Consequently we had previously assumed that observing the new moons in that tacit way for the purpose of calendar calculations was sufficient. After all, we did observe the Feast of Trumpets, the high day that falls on the new moon of Tishri.
It was only in obeying what God showed us to do that we began to grasp more about the new moons. Jesus said of the foot washing ceremony at Passover, which we also celebrate, "If you know these things, you are blessed if you do them" (John 13:17). We are also blessed with understanding (Ps. 111:10).
We learn something new about the foot washing ceremony every year that we perform it. Now the same thing has become true of the new moon celebrations. God gives His Holy Spirit to those who obey Him (Acts 5:32). As they continue to obey Him, the Holy Spirit leads them into all truth (John 16:13-14).
Some might think, "Where did you dream up this stuff about the new moon, in your dreams on the dark night of the new moon?" No. We did not dream this information. We received it from God because we obeyed.
Are we not called to live by every word that comes out of God's mouth (Mat. 4:4)? Let's clarify. Teachings on animal sacrifices are instructional and are to be practiced in a spiritual sense. We understand that Jesus is our sacrifice and that we no longer have to offer animals in sacrifice to God (Heb. 9:8-10). The sacrifices and their frequency and timing do, however, teach us lessons.
While Jesus commanded special sacrifices on the Sabbath, the feast days and the new moons or first day of each month, He also ordered sacrifices to be made each day. Some argue that the fact sacrifices were offered on the Sabbath days means those days are done away as were the offerings themselves. Following that line of reasoning, we might as well quit living. Since sacrifices were made on each day, every day must be done away!
Statute of the Sabbath Commandment
What is interesting here is that special sacrifices were ordained on the new moons, showing that these were not ordinary days, even though they were not commanded in Leviticus 23. As the feast days were statutes of the fourth commandment regarding the weekly Sabbath, so were the new moons also statutes of that same commandment.
Times of revival in Israel were few. When they did occur, as in the time of Nehemiah, they realized they were obligated "to keep and to observe all the commandments of God [their Divine Master], and His ordinances and statutes" (Neh. 10:29). That included contributing financially so that all the special occasions ordained by God could be observed, including "the Sabbaths, the new moon … the appointed times…" (v. 33).
At the occasion of another revival, David commanded the Levites to offer sacrifices "on the Sabbaths, the new moons and the fixed festivals…" (I Chron. 23:31).
Solomon said it even more powerfully, commanding offerings "on Sabbaths and on new moons and on the appointed feasts of the [Eternal, or the Word, Jesus] our God, this being required forever in Israel [that is, among the believers]" (II Chron. 2:4).
Even more powerful is the confirmation of Solomon's words in the period that his reign prefigured, the Millennium: "And it shall be from new moon to new moon And from sabbath to sabbath, all mankind [Gentiles and Jews alike!] will come to bow down before Me, says [Jesus]" (Isa. 66:23). This is indisputably a prophecy for the time that Jesus returns to earth to rule for a thousand years in a world as ideal as Jesus can make it.
Even before we saw this connection, God had shown us as a church that we needed to come and bow down and prostrate ourselves before Jesus at His altar. Now we understood why.
Why? Because God Says So!
Often we must obey without understanding. While it is not a good parental practice to say when children ask why, "Because Daddy said so," God sometimes tests us. He wants to see if we will obey simply because He said it.
Since Jesus did tell us to live by every word of God, we must. And it is clear that God does command us to observe the new moons. While it is not a commanded assembly, it is a command to the church as a whole. Whether individual members choose to lay down their burdens to Jesus at their personal altar or the church altar is their personal choice.
Consider Psalm 81:3-4: "Blow the trumpet at the new moon, At the full moon, on our feast day. For it is a statute for Israel [the believers], An ordinance of the God of Jacob." This verse does not specifically single out the new moon of Trumpets. It declares new moon observance to be a statute. God did not give statutes for interesting reading. He meant for us to obey them (Ps. 119:5-6).
It is amazing how Christians pick and choose what part of the Bible they obey. Most believers seem to be New Testament exclusivists, yet even some publishers of New Testaments include the Psalm and Proverbs as part of what they might call "The New Covenant Bible." Since they have chosen the Psalms because of their inspirational value, do they then pick and choose which Psalms they approve?
What I like to call "lovey-dovey" Christians summarily do away with all specific law by quoting Jesus' words about the law of love. In the sixties the hippies had a similar mot d'ordre: "Love, man, just love" or something along those lines. Jesus doesn't think you're so hip. He says, "If you love Me, you will keep My commandments" (John 14:15).
Most ignore what Jesus said after He made His famous statement about loving God and neighbor, which in the minds of many Christians means only two laws need be observed today. Others say like the hippies that the one important thing is love, and that's all. But Jesus continued, "On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets" (Mat. 22:40). (CONTINUED: Part Two: A Proper "Hanging"?
Read More in this New Moon Series:
Part One: A New Understanding - God's Recipe for Renewal
Download the entire nine part series: Click HERE