As mentioned in the post last Sep regarding my biggest study project last year – God’s calendar, the 2 biggest assumptions that i wasn’t sure about, but that the evidence seemed to lean toward, was:
1. The new year starts after the spring (vernal) equinox
2. The new month starts at the conjunction (dark phase) of the moon
Well today i found good evidence for both of these positions 🙂
And God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years: 15 And let them be for lights in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth: and it was so. 16 And God made two great lights; the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night: [he made] the stars also. 17 And God set them in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth, 18 And to rule over the day and over the night, and to divide the light from the darkness: and God saw that [it was] good. 19 And the evening and the morning were the fourth day.
This text is key for determining both the new year, new month, and new day. I think all Seventh-day Adventists understand that the day starts at sundown, as that is when the 7th day Sabbath begins. Each 7th day goes from sundown Friday to sundown Saturday.
The month is much trickier to determine. But keeping the above text in mind, and the principle of how the day starts, we can get very good instruction in determining when the new month starts. Since the new day starts when the darkness starts, and the rule of the sun is gone, it naturally follows that the new month would start when the darkness starts – i.e.: at the conjunction. Now i know it was determined for a long time in Israel by a physical sighting, but don’t see any place in the Bible where that is referred to at all. Psalms 81:3 says:
Blow up the trumpet in the new moon, in the time appointed, on our solemn feast day.
The Hebrew word for “time appointed” is kece which means “full”, but has the meaning of “plump”, and “filled up” with the implication of “cover” and “conceal”. Now this verse is used for a strange theory i just came across today on the wild-n-wooly internet, where some guy says the new month should really start from the full moon, not the new moon – ha! Anyway, to say that this word means full moon, when there is an implication of concealment is not good. Aha! but wait a minute. It’s true that the moon is “full” TWICE a month. Once when it is bright as we always consider it “full”, and once when it is completely black, at its conjunction! So this riddle can be easily solved when letting it refer to the full dark moon.
It is also interesting to note that God concealed himself in a thick cloud at Sinai from the multitude of people so that they would not make a graven image of him. In a similar vein, it looks possible that the dark phase of the moon would be what God would choose as the important marker, rather than when it can be seen. All thru history people have been worshipping the moon, and a very large religious group even today has crescent moon symbols all over their religious paraphernalia.
In 1Samuel 20 there is an interesting episode between David and Jonathan where they are going to part, and which seems to be prophetic as it talks about 3 days and departure and also the new moon:
18 Then Jonathan said to David, To morrow [is] the new moon: and thou shalt be missed, because thy seat will be empty. 19 And [when] thou hast stayed three days, [then] thou shalt go down quickly, and come to the place where thou didst hide thyself when the business was [in hand], and shalt remain by the stone Ezel.
They knew that the feast for the new moon would be “tomorrow”. This is obviously before it was observed anywhere, which gives credence to the idea that they were calculating the new moon phases then. It is very likely that the ancients were great astronomers, as witness the many megalithic structures around the world with precise alignments with the solstices and equinoxes, so the idea that the Israelites were too ignorant to calculate such complex things is just false.
Much of the above thots regarding using the conjunction as the determiner for the new month is from this web page: http://holyfeasts.com/tcfm.html
When should the new year start? Again, the evidence leaned towards starting the new year at the first new moon after the spring equinox, but the Karaites, whose calender methodology was of great benefit to the Millerites in determining 1844, go strongly for the idea of starting the new year at the first new moon after the first bit of barley is found in Israel in the stage of “abib”. I’ve had some discussions on youtube with followers of that method, showing that there is absolutely no biblical evidence for the barley having anything to do with determining the start of the new year. As quoted above, Genesis 1 says nothing at all about any agricultural product having anything to do with “years” or any timings at all for that matter. Sure, God wanted them to have some barley to bring at the firstfruits service. But it’s a great leap of logic to say, “OK, we can’t start our new year until we get some barley”!
There is another group, probably the biggest group among those who follow God’s calendar, who believe that the new month doesn’t start until the first crescent is actually seen. That also is nowhere mentioned specifically in the Word of God. Sure, it makes sense to have somebody on the lookout for the moon to be able to tell when the new month should start, but there are several big questions raised by that method. What about when it is cloudy? Well, one quickly finds out that believers in this method for determining the start of the month have it all calculated out in advance! They don’t go by the actual sighting of the moon at all! So their practice is against what they teach. They have tables showing them the conjunction, then they calculate how many hours after that the moon should be visible, and then just go right ahead with making their calendar years in advance based not on when they actually see the moon, but from the date of the conjunction, then adding several hours or days to that. That is very hypocritical to me.
The new day starts when the sun goes down, whether the moon comes out or not, and the day ends when the sun goes down. This is very important when considering when the new month should start. If the new month starts when the first crescent is visible, then it is breaking the pattern the sun made in determining the day. To repeat: The new day starts when the sun becomes invisible, and the day ends when the sun becomes invisible again. To follow the same pattern, the month should start when the moon becomes invisible, and end when the moon becomes invisible again. The believers of having to observe the moon to start a new month are going against the example of how the day is determined.
The following is copied from the web site: http://www.franknelte.net/article.php?article_id=40
The determination of years is to be controlled by these two lights, the sun and the moon. Years are NOT to be controlled by only the sun or by only the moon. They are to be controlled by BOTH of these lights working in agreement with one another. But they are NOT “equal partners” in that process; one is greater than the other. It is THE SUN that provides all of the light for the moon, and without the sun the moon would always be invisible.
Now the only way you can have a calendar that is luni-solar is if the solar year starting with an equinox or with a solstice is THE FOUNDATION for such a calendar. If you do not have the solar year with an equinox or a solstice as the foundation, it is IMPOSSIBLE to have anything that you could call a luni-solar calendar. Without the equinoxes you can have a lunar calendar, but you simply cannot have a luni-solar calendar.
All of the people using God’s calendar that i know of agree that it is a “luni-solar” calendar. Yet they don’t realize that to have the “solar” part, the sun must actually do something to determine the years, not just the days. If the barley harvest has taken over the function of determining the start of the year, then the function God gave the sun in Genesis 1 has been usurped. It is agreed by all too, that the start of the year cannot begin in the middle of a day, it can only begin when the sun goes down, signaling the end of one day and the start of a new one. Now some people trying to follow God’s calendar say to start the new year at the new moon that is NEAREST the spring equinox. But this leads to confusion, as it puts the moon in a position of superiority over the sun in determining the start of the new year.
The day is ruled by the sun. The nite is ruled by the moon. And it appears that they must agree to rule the year. The sun does not have full control, as the new year does not automatically begin at the equinox, it must wait until the first new moon AFTER the equinox. And the moon cannot just say: “I’ve gone thru my cycles 12 times, i will decide to start the new year now”. It must wait until the sun gets to its position in the sky (equinox), which seems to have something to do with where it is in relation to the stars but i haven’t studied that out yet, and then the new moon can start the new year.
The biggest objection to using the equinox to determine the new year is that it is not directly specified in the holy scriptures. That is true. However, it appears to me that there is a heavy weight of evidence to using the equinox of the sun, in combination with the new moon after it, to determine the new year.
If God is going to do something significant on his calendar this year, it should be in the spring around the beginning of the year – March 21, Passover – April 4, or Pentecost – May 26 (note that the biblical days start at sundown on these gregorian days). Someday the Ark of the Covenant will be brought out, signaling the start of the judgment of the living, and i believe the countdown to the very end of the age.
Even so, come quickly Lord Jesus.