Everlasting Kingdom: Unraveling the Bible’s Secrets

Dealing with the [Jewish] Calendar Question

Part 3, Problems with the Jewish Calendar Summarized

Barley Harvest
Barley Harvest

Part 3 Preview: If you just surfed into Part 3, I recommend going back to Part 1. Is there a calendar in the Bible? The historical commentary presented in Frank Nelte’s calendar articles is quite thorough. Please overlook the sectarian references. He has written many articles on the subject but we disagree on what actually initiates a Day, a Month and a New Year. He uses the International Date Line instead of Jerusalem to begin the Day; (you might consider Where is God’s International Dateline? Where Does the Sabbath Begin?) He uses astronomically calculated “invisible lunar conjunctions” instead of actual observation of crescent moons from Jerusalem to determine when a New Moon begins (Karaite site); and the equinox instead of the maturity of barley, to begin the Year. The parameters for determining a Biblically correct calendar are readily apparent (visible): All you need to understand is 1) When does a day begin; 2) when does a week begin and end with the Sabbath); 3) when does a month begin; and 4) when does the year begin! We have disagreements but Frank provides an incredible amount of factual information.

XXIII) How Much “Shifting” Is Actually Involved?

Articles
INDEX

1) In the present Jewish calendar the earliest Days of Unleavened Bread will start on March 26th in 2013 AD, the latest Days of Unleavened Bread will start on April 24th in 2005 AD, the earliest FoT will start on September 19th in 2013 AD, and the latest FoT will start on October 18th in 2005 AD. (Two cycles later, in 2043 AD FoT is scheduled to start on October 19th.)

Note these earliest and latest dates!

2) If we make only 2 changes to the sequence of leap years (i.e. change Year #6 to #5, and Year #17 to #16 as the leap years), then we have the following results:

The earliest Days of Unleavened Bread will start on March 30th in 2010 AD, the latest Days of Unleavened Bread will start on April 27th in 2002 AD, the earliest FoT will start on September 23rd in 2010 AD, and the latest FoT will start on October 21st in 2002 AD.

Assessment: These 2 changes will result in the earliest dates being exactly 4 days later than the present Jewish calendar, but the latest dates will only be 3 days later than the present Jewish calendar.

3) If we make only 3 changes to the sequence of leap years (i.e. change Year #6 to #5 and Year #17 to #16 and Year #14 to #13 as the leap years), then we have the following results:

The earliest Days of Unleavened Bread will start on April 1st in 1999 AD, the latest Days of Unleavened Bread will start on April 28th in 2010 AD, the earliest FoT will start on September 25th in 1999 AD, and the latest FoT will start on October 22nd in 2010 AD.

Assessment: These 3 changes will result in the earliest dates being exactly 6 days later than the present Jewish calendar, but the latest dates will only be 4 days later than the present Jewish calendar.

4) If we make 6 changes to the sequence of leap years (i.e. change Year #3 to #2 and Year #6 to #5 and Year #11 to #10 and Year #14 to #13 and Year #17 to #16 and Year #19 to #18 as the leap years), then we have the following results:

The earliest Days of Unleavened Bread will start on April 5th in 2004 AD, the latest Days of Unleavened Bread will start on May 3rd in 2015 AD, the earliest FoT will start on September 29th in 2004 AD, and the latest FoT will start on October 27th in 2015 AD.

Assessment: These 6 changes will result in the earliest dates being exactly 10 days later than the present Jewish calendar, but the latest dates will only be 9 days later than the present Jewish calendar. (They will be only 8 days later than the Jewish dates 2 full cycles from now in 2043 AD.)

5) Evaluation of This Data:

A) The dates in the present Jewish calendar are clearly too early for FoT and for the Days of Unleavened Bread in some years (e.g. 2013 AD). Something needs to be done about this.

B) Making only 2 changes achieves a shift to 4 days later in the year for the earliest date. This is not sufficient, as FoT will still start after sunset on September 22nd in 2010 AD, which is still in the summer. It is also highly unlikely that barley would be ripe as early as March 30th. So this is not a good solution.

C) Making only 3 changes achieves a shift of the earliest dates to 6 days later in the year. This will ensure that FoT will never start before the end of summer. Furthermore, the latest dates will only be 4 days later than dates sometimes used by the present Jewish calendar. This is a possible option to consider. However, April 1st may still be too early to have ripe barley available? Only 3 years during this cycle will actually start in the winter, i.e. before March 21st.

[Comment: Year #3 in this sequence of leap years for the current cycle is 1999 AD, which will have the 1st Day of Unleavened Bread on Thursday, April 1st. Therefore the wave offering would only be required on Sunday, April 4th. However, in the following cycle year #3 will be 2018 AD and then the 1st Day of Unleavened Bread would be Saturday, March 31st. Therefore the wave offering would be required on Sunday, April 1st. This illustrates that with this sequence the wave offering may be required as early as April 1st.]

D) Making a total of 6 changes achieves a shift of the earliest dates to 10 days later in the year. By April 5th there should certainly be some barley available for the wave offering. The latest dates will be 9 days later in the year than the latest dates used by the present Jewish calendar. This is also a possible option to consider.

In plain terms: even though this option involves making 6 changes to the sequence of leap years, the overall effect is no more than pushing the Feast of Tabernacles a little over one full week further into autumn from the way things are under the present Jewish calendar. That could be a desirable factor from a farmer’s perspective?

6) The point we should understand very clearly is this:

There is no one specific sequence of leap years that the bible automatically requires us to accept and implement!

It is up to us to see that the sequence we select (this is what Hillel II should really have done back in 358 AD!!) meets all of the biblical requirements. And making this selection at different times in the history of God’s church (i.e. whether we do this in 200 AD or in 1000 AD or in 1999 AD), will result in selecting different sequences.

So as I see it, there are two possible choices we today can make, both of which would satisfy those requirements. We could make either only 3 changes or we could make 6 changes to the sequence of leap years. There is no point in considering making 4 or 5 changes—since the only reason for considering 6 changes as opposed to 3 changes is the desire to never have Nisan 1 start before the beginning of spring—and making 4 or 5 changes provides no advantages over making only 3 changes.

I believe that both of these options would meet all of God’s requirements. And this brings us to the penultimate point I would like to cover in this paper.

XXIV) A Matter of Authority

1) The biblical requirements for a calendar that we have examined show that the year cannot start earlier than a certain date. However, are there any indications that a year cannot start later than a certain date, as long as there is not a shift to the next season in the year?

In other words: as long as the Seventh Day of Unleavened Bread is still within spring, is there a requirement that Unleavened Bread conclude by a specific date?

2) For example, under the present Jewish calendar the Feast of Pentecost will always fall into the latter part of spring. It will never fall into summer! For Pentecost to fall on the first day of summer (June 21st), the Sunday during the Days of Unleavened Bread would have to be on May 3rd, exactly 7 weeks before June 21st.

However, the present Jewish calendar never has the 7th Day of Unleavened Bread later than April 30th. So Pentecost can never fall in the summer in the present system.

3) However, when we see to it that the Feast of Tabernacles never starts before September 23rd, then sometimes the 7th Day of Unleavened Bread will be as late as May 4th. And if that May 4th happened to be a Sunday, then Pentecost would be on June 22nd, the second day of summer!

So it is clear that in a calendar where Tabernacles never starts in the summer, Pentecost will sometimes be in the first few days of summer. This shows that Pentecost cannot be limited to the spring.

I mention this point because the timing of Pentecost does not impose any “seasonal” restrictions on the calendar—it could be in either late spring or in early summer.

4) Similarly, while Tabernacles should never start before the first day of autumn, is there any restriction as to how late in autumn it may be observed? Is there really any instruction that requires Tabernacles to start no later than October 18th/19th (present Jewish calendar), as opposed to starting only on October 27th (8 or 9 days later)?

Exodus 34:22 tells us that we are to observe the feast of ingathering “... at the year’s end.” The Hebrew phrase translated as “at the year’s end” is “the ‘tequfah’ of the year.” The word ‘tequfah’ refers to the two solstices (June 21st, December 21st) and the two equinoxes (March 21st, September 23rd), the four dates that signal the start of each of the four annual seasons. Perhaps the expression “at the tequfah of the year” implies that Tabernacles really should take place at the first possible date after September 23rd, the start of the season of autumn? Or, since the Hebrew here used does not contain the preposition for “at,” perhaps any time after the tequfah is acceptable?

[Comment: The expression “at the year’s end” is used twice in the Old Testament. In one case it includes the preposition “at,” and in the other case it does not include a preposition for “at.” In Exodus 34:22 the Hebrew reads “tequfat hashanah,” “ha” being the definite article attached to the form “shanah,” meaning “year.” There is no preposition for “at” in this expression. In 2 Chronicles 24:23, which speaks about the army of the king of Syria coming to fight against king Joash “at the end of the year,” the Hebrew expression is “litequfat hashanah,” “li” being the preposition for “at.” So 2 Chronicles 24:23 clearly does include the preposition. In recognition of the absence of a preposition in Exodus 34:22 the Interlinear Bible, edited by Jay P. Green, Sr., has placed the word “at” within brackets in the text itself and printed the word “at” in italics in the marginal column English rendition.]

5) There is one other possible limitation that has occurred to me. And that is as follows:

Once there is with certainty some barley available for the wave offering, then the preceding new moon should have been made the 1st day of Nisan. I believe that to make the new moon after barley has become available the 1st day of Nisan, places the year one new moon too late.

6) Now while some barley may be available as early as April 1st, we should also admit that in order to find some barley by that date we will really have to scrape the barrel and possibly employ some tricks (like growing the barley in a box on our balcony or in some hothouse). It would be a great struggle to find any mature barley in Palestine before about April 4th/5th.

7) The result of this is that someone must make a decision! While it could be acceptable to have the Days of Unleavened Bread start as early as April 1st, it certainly would not be wrong to decide that date is still “too early.” And if the new moon leading to an April 1st First Day of Unleavened Bread is not selected as the start for the month of Nisan, then Nisan will only start one new moon later.

Someone must have the authority to make binding decisions in such ambiguous situations!

8) In plain English: In some years it could be quite acceptable before God to start the new year either on March 19th (leading to a 1st Day of Unleavened Bread on April 1st) OR on April 17th (one new moon later). Neither of those two choices automatically violates the calendar requirements, as I understand them.

9) Now it should be quite clear to us that the pharisees (i.e. the present Jewish religious authorities) do not have such authority over deciding when the people of God today should observe the annual Holy Days. They are completely shackled by their own traditions! And we are commanded to obey God rather than men!

They do not have the authority to tell us which days to observe. Thus we don’t observe “Passover” when the Jewish religion would tell us to observe it. We don’t observe “Pentecost” when the Jewish religion would tell us to observe it. Similarly, we don’t let them tell us to observe the 2nd Day of Pesach, the 8th Day of Pesach, the 2nd Day of Shavuot, the 2nd Day of Rosh Hashanah, the 2nd Day of Succoth and the day of Chanukah. We reject their authority to impose the observance of these days on us.

And neither do they have the authority to tell us which new moon should start the new year. Nor do they have the authority to tell us whether we must use the invisible molad or first visibility of the new crescent to start a month. Their misuse of the calendar (placing Passover into the winter, completing Tabernacles before the end of summer, inventing postponement rules to make the placing of Holy Days more convenient, etc.) has completely destroyed any binding authority they may (?) at some time in the past have had in the matter of deciding about the calendar.

All they happen to have is a fairly good method of calculating the invisible conjunctions of the moon. That is something we may be able to use?

10) So we have to look elsewhere for someone (or some body of leaders) who has the authority to decide for the people of God today in such ambiguous situations.

To me it would be a tragedy of the greatest proportions if the various church organizations of the Church of God today would make such decisions independently and at variance with other organizations of the Church of God! That would be one of the saddest days in the modern history of God’s Church, as it would finalize the divisions that have overtaken us!

11) King Jeroboam introduced a totally new religious calendar (feast in the 8th month, etc.) to cement the division of the 12 tribes of Israel—his motivation was totally selfish.

We are in danger of the strife over the calendar doing the same thing to God’s Church today—entrenching divisions amongst us more firmly.

12) We cannot use this potential danger as an excuse to not face the very real problems with the present Jewish calendar. But neither should those same problems become an excuse for every man to do that which is right in his own eyes.

13) If the churches of this world can at times get together in order to discuss matters of mutual concern and interest, can the people of God not do the same thing? Have we lost our humility to accept input from others who may be able to point out to us things we haven’t thought of or considered?

14) About two-and-one-half years ago I already suggested that the various organizations that today make up the Church of God get together to reach some common decision on this matter—for the sake of God’s little ones! At that time I mentioned the possibility of Dr. Meredith perhaps chairing such a meeting. A number of people who read that article took me to task for suggesting Dr. Meredith to chair such a meeting.13) If the churches of this world can at times get together in order to discuss matters of mutual concern and interest, can the people of God not do the same thing? Have we lost our humility to accept input from others who may be able to point out to us things we haven’t thought of or considered?

I can now see that my suggestion of Dr. Meredith was a big mistake on my part. I have made a few blunders over the past few years, and that is possibly one of the greater ones. So I now wish to apologize for having made that suggestion. Those of you out there who took exception with my proposal: you were right and I was wrong! I have read the letters Dr. Meredith wrote recently when he started his new church, and it is quite clear to me, sadly so, that Dr. Meredith is not the man who will put the spiritual well-being of God’s people above self-interests.13) If the churches of this world can at times get together in order to discuss matters of mutual concern and interest, can the people of God not do the same thing? Have we lost our humility to accept input from others who may be able to point out to us things we haven’t thought of or considered?

15) But once again I feel compelled to ask the question:

How many of the churches of God that have come out of WCG actually have the honesty and the integrity to openly face the problems inherent in the present Jewish calendar? Or is all or some willing to do still only a blind defense of the status quo, the traditions we have inherited? Am I an enemy of the people of God because I insist on squarely facing up to the problems with the Jewish calendar, because I insist on calling a spade a spade?

16) How many of the present church organizations are willing to consider discussing a matter of mutual interest, like this calendar issue, with some of the other organizations? Or are they so worried about “preserving and protecting their turf” that it would never cross their minds to even consider making some decisions for the benefit of ALL of God’s people today, irrespective of their organizational affiliations? I hope this latter situation is not the case at all!

17) I would like to beseech and implore all those who are in any positions of influence in any of the churches of God today to reach out to their counterparts in some of the other organizations in an effort to openly address this matter of the calendar. Do it for the sake of God’s scattered people! Not until we have acknowledged the existence of real problems are we in a position to consider possible solutions.

I don’t think we realize the incredible boost to their morale that ALL of God’s people, scattered throughout various different organizations right now, would get if they could see their leaders sitting down with the leaders of some of the other organizations for the explicit purpose of reaching an agreement about the calendar questions, and striving to resolve the problems for the common good of ALL of God’s people!

We already are agreed about Sabbath observance, tithing and not eating unclean meats. We also are agreed about the need to observe the annual Feasts and Holy Days—but the calendar questions threaten to divide us further. In the multitude of counselors there is wisdom and safety. And if we are all guided by God’s Spirit, will the Spirit of God not guide us into a common understanding? Do we in faith seek a better understanding of the will and the ways of God?

And if we really don’t reach a common understanding with some of the other organizations, at least we should have the confidence that we tried to come to a common understanding, for the sake of all of God’s people everywhere. It would be to our shame if, when the time comes for God to take us to a place of protection, we will be found observing God’s Holy Days at different times from others who will also be taken to that place of protection—because we could not agree on how to resolve the problems inherent in the present Jewish calendar.

18) I am not saying that what I have suggested in this paper has to be the final answer. Yes, there may be relevant issues that I have not even considered in this paper? But the things I have mentioned could perhaps form a starting-point for some kind of discussion amongst different organizations?

19) When God’s people know that the leadership of their particular organization has not really been willing to face up to genuine objections to the present Jewish calendar, then that creates a considerable amount of insecurity. After the unbelievable deceptions that were foisted upon God’s people in recent years, we cannot afford to ignore genuine questions that are presented to the leadership. We have to work at again establishing a trust and a confidence in the leadership.

20) So please, whoever you may be, face up to the real problems with the Jewish calendar. Consider possible solutions to those problems. And see if you can in any way have an influence so that those solutions may be implemented on a level higher than just one single organization. Do it for the little ones amongst the people of God!

Now to the last point I believe is important to understand.

XXV) the Importance of the Right Motivation

1) God is in the process of putting us human beings through a training program to first of all reveal the type of character we have, and then to help us, through the gift of His Holy Spirit, to shape and to mold that character into something that He, Almighty God, will want to co-exist with for all future eternity.

All of God’s laws and God’s instructions to us are aimed at achieving that goal—of bringing out into the open how our minds work and to expose the thoughts and the intents of our hearts (see Hebrews 4:12). None of God’s laws are an end in themselves. Everything God has done since Genesis 1:3 has been done for the purpose of achieving that goal—of ultimately sharing His existence with multiple millions of other immortal beings within the context of the Family of God.

2) It is towards the goal of exposing the thoughts and the intents of our hearts that God has always used “progressive revelation,” right from the time of creating Adam and Eve onwards. It is not so much our actions that God is interested in, as He is in our motivation for those actions. The “why” for what we do in life is far more important to God than the things we do themselves, because the “why” has to do with the character that is being created and developed in us.

Doing all the right things in life (keeping the Sabbath, not eating unclean meats, etc.) is not nearly as important to God as is our motivation for doing those right things. In doing what is right God requires us to use our minds.

3) Thus: while someone in the world who never eats any unclean meats, simply because they are not available in his part of the world, will reap the benefit of not experiencing any adverse physical reactions that the ingesting of such unclean meats produces, his coincidental compliance with this particular set of laws has no effect on his mind and on the development of his character. However, when you, who know God’s instructions, refrain from eating unclean meats, you too are protected from adverse physical reactions to such “foods.” But, in addition, your compliance with these laws affects the development of your mind and your character! And knowingly eating unclean meats would not only affect your body in a physical way; it would also affect your mind and your character in an adverse way.

4) “Progressive revelation” is one powerful way God has used throughout human history to prevent the people He has been working with from obeying Him simply out of habit and without actually thinking about their actions of obedience. Constantly adding new applications for God’s laws (e.g. in our century today grasping that the principles of God’s laws in effect tell us: “don’t smoke!”) and constantly giving new or greater understanding prevents us from obeying God in a rote mechanical way. Every new bit of understanding challenges what we have until then believed and practiced; our response to it exposes how our minds work; it exposes the thoughts and the intents of our hearts. Our response tells God a great deal about us—our integrity, our honesty, our priorities, our commitment, etc.

5) The fact that doing “the right things” in themselves is of no value before God can perhaps be most clearly seen in the matter of fasting. Fasting is a very powerful tool for establishing and benefitting from a closer contact with God. But fasting with the wrong motivation is utterly worthless, as explained in Isaiah 58:3-11 (e.g. fasting for strife and debate and to smite with the fist of wickedness, etc.). Similarly, praying to God with a wrong motivation is equally worthless, as explained by Jesus Christ in Matthew chapter 6. It is only when we pray to God with the right attitude and the right motivation that the fervent prayer of a righteous man will avail much (see James 5:16).

6) So likewise with the calendar ... the right calendar accepted and applied by someone with a wrong motivation is utterly worthless before God!

7) As is sometimes the case with fasting, we need to recognize that unfortunately there are sometimes people who will use the calendar (even if they happen to have it right!) “... for strife and for debate,” to cause further divisions amongst God’s people.

In such a situation the right calendar is utterly worthless before God!

8) Seeking to rectify and to resolve genuine problems with the present calendar is only acceptable in the sight of God when it is done with the right motivation!

Frankly, the “this is the only way to organize the calendar, and anyone who disagrees can go and hang by his thumbs” approach and attitude is wrong and is simply not acceptable before God. There is no blessing from God for those who set about causing strife and division. No, rather, “blessed are the peacemakers.” A refusal to honestly face up to the very real problems with the present Jewish calendar is equally unacceptable before God.

9) While we can say that God is “allowing” the present scattering of His people, we should not mistake that with being God’s “desire” for His people. It is God’s “desire” that all our actions are motivated by an attitude of genuine concern for the well-being of all of His people, a desire to be willing to do anything we can to re-establish a unity amongst the people of God.

The example God has set us is: “come now and let us reason together ...” (first part of Isaiah 1:18). God expects US to have the same attitude towards all of our brethren from whom we have in recent times been separated, the attitude of: "Come now, and let us reason together, to see if we can perhaps resolve these calendar problems, and reach a solution that will be acceptable to all of us, for we are brethren."

10) Let’s look at the concept of working from “the right motivation” in the context of the calendar. God tells us to count to establish a date for the Day of Pentecost. The Jews have through their traditions fixed the observance of Pentecost on Sivan 6th. In those years where Sivan 6th happens to be a Sunday, the Day of Pentecost will indeed be on Sivan 6th.

So the question is: in those years where Pentecost really does happen to fall on Sivan 6th, is the Jewish observance of that day of any merit before God—since that particular year they happen to have the correct day?

No, their observance of the day is of no value at all!

Why is this so?

Answer: Because their motivation for observing the day is to hold fast to the traditions of their fathers. They are not motivated by a desire to seek out and to put into practice the will of God. The thing that is important to them is that it happens to be Sivan 6th. That it also happens to be a Sunday that year is immaterial to them. So their observance of the correct day is of no more value than fasting for strife and for debate.

The same is true for all of the other laws of God. People can, and sometimes do, obey God from a wrong motivation. And in such cases the obedience is always of no value before God.

11) Now let’s look at the situation of Mr. Armstrong deciding to use the present Jewish calendar without any modifications for the Church of God. Here we have a situation of a wrong decision being made—but the motivation for it was right! Mr. Armstrong did try to establish how God would want us today to determine when to observe His Feasts and Holy Days. And from his perspective the present Jewish calendar was really the only option. Mr. Armstrong was not really aware of the problems with the Jewish calendar that I have pointed out in this paper. So Mr. Armstrong died without ever having a conscience-problem about the Jewish calendar.

12) you are in a different situation to Mr. Armstrong! For you to continue with the present Jewish calendar without any kind of modification, you would have to reject the evidence that has been presented to you. Throughout Mr. Armstrong’s entire ministry the Church of God was subject to “progressive revelation” and “new understanding.” Why would God possibly have stopped that process with Mr. Armstrong’s death? The evidence that I have presented in this paper stands on its own feet—it is a collection of facts about the present Jewish calendar. And facts are stubborn things—they have a way of asserting themselves.

13) I have mentioned that I personally believe that there are some things about a correct calendar model that are “negotiable.” There will be those who disagree with that—feeling that the correct calendar simply “must” be based on visual observations, or “must” be based on the molad, or simply “must never” start in the winter, or “cannot” be postponed under any circumstances, not even by four seconds.

14) I believe that people who have taken a rigid stand on some of these “negotiable” issues (none of which violate any clear biblical statements or principles, as far as I can see) really should examine their motivations. Is their motivation one of wanting to solve a problem, but to do it in a peaceful manner? Is their motivation one of wanting to help and to serve as many of God’s people as possible? Are they concerned about practical, real-life situations or do they simply want to establish a set of dates in an academic sort of way? Are they willing to listen to reasons that favor an alternative solution to the one they have decided on? Do they have the confidence that their reasons for their particular solution will stand up to close examination and scrutiny by people who have a different view—or are they afraid of such close scrutiny? Do they have the faith that God will eventually lead all those who are diligently seeking His will to a common understanding? Or are they totally unconcerned about the rest of “the body of Christ”?

15) I believe that IF the facts I base my views on are sound and correct, then I have nothing to fear in that regard. I don’t have to be afraid that someone with a different view may perhaps be able to discredit some of my “facts.” And if I don’t feel threatened by others who hold different views on the calendar, then I can be more open to valid criticisms, which may indeed point out some flaws in my reasoning. And if there are flaws and weaknesses, I’d like to eliminate them from my thinking.

I believe that this is a part of the right motivation that everyone who has anything to do with the calendar should have.

16) A right motivation in approaching this whole calendar question will go a long way towards preserving peace and unity of practices amongst God’s people today. The thoughts and intents of our hearts take precedence over some of the “negotiable” details for a calendar. Those thoughts and intents must strive for peace and harmony.

17) As far as the present Jewish calendar is concerned, the motivation for determining the start of each year is a desire to adhere to the traditions developed by the Pharisees. They don’t really care whether this results in harmony with the invisible molads or whether it results in harmony with first visibility. Keeping the traditions is what is important to them.

18) Whether the churches of God today opt for the invisible molad or for first visibility, the motivation for such a decision will have nothing to do with adhering to the traditions of the Pharisees. The motivation will be a desire to achieve consistency of practice. The option selected will be based on the need to have something that can be applied on a worldwide basis.

19) Similarly, the decision regarding whether or not to consistently postpone by up to six hours will come from the motivation of wanting to meet the needs of a worldwide application of this calendar.

20) And the motivation for deciding whether to make only three changes or whether to make six changes to the sequence of leap years, must come from a desire to clearly understand God’s will on this matter. Just how much would God want us to take agricultural requirements into consideration?

And that’s about it.

XXVI) Summary of the Main Points

As we have covered a considerable amount of material in this paper, it may be helpful to summarize some of the main points. So here they are:

1) There is no “divinely revealed” calendar in existence today.

2) Astronomically we find that we have to deal with circuits that have been corrupted since the creation of Adam and Eve.

3) The present Jewish calendar was not given to Moses by God. The names of the months go back to Ezra, who brought the Babylonian calendar back to Jerusalem during the time of the Persian Empire. Ezra readily used the Babylonian calendar of that time.

4) The actual calculations of the present Jewish calendar were first devised by Greek astronomers.

5) The starting date of 3761 B.C. for the Jewish calendar makes clear that this calendar was only constructed at some point after 130 A.D. It could not have existed during the 1st century A.D.

6) Two biblical requirements for a correct calendar are that it must:

A) Never have the Feast of Tabernacles start in the summer.

B) Never have the Feast of Unleavened Bread so early that no barley would be ripe for the wave offering on the Sunday.

7) both of these requirements have been grossly violated by the present Jewish calendar since its inception in the 350’s A.D. by Hillel II.

8) In 360 A.D. Hillel II placed the Passover into the winter and the entire Feast of Tabernacles well into the summer. This gross violation continued for several centuries. This negates any possibility of “God’s approval” for this calendar.

9) In addition to violating 2 biblical requirements, the Jewish calendar also introduced “postponement rules” to prevent Atonement from falling on inconvenient days of the week.

10) The historical evidence makes quite clear that during the ministry of Jesus Christ these postponement rules simply did not exist. They were only invented at some point after 130 A.D. There is no justification of any kind for postponing Atonement away from inconvenient days.

11) The whimsical character of the postponement rules becomes very apparent when we realize that the 168 hours of the week are broken down into four blocks of: 48 + 48 + 56.75 + 15.25 hours, to fit in with “the traditions of the Pharisees.” The actual time of the conjunction becomes almost incidental in this scenario.

12) When we understand the importance of the wave offering having to be offered, at some point, on each of the 7 Days of Unleavened Bread—and we see that the postponement rules prevent it from ever being offered on the 3rd and the 5th and the 7th Days of Unleavened Bread—then we should recognize the diabolical implications of the postponement rules.

13) The Jewish calendar has also never taken the 1-day shift for every 216 years into account. IF Hillel II had indeed instituted a correct calendar in 359 A.D., then today all of the new moons would be between 7 and 8 days later in the seasons—and therefore some corrections to Hillel’s calendar would have been required even before our present century. The Jewish calendar simply makes no provisions for such corrections.

14) While in the 1st century A.D. the Jews used a calendar based on the observations of the new moon crescents, there is no question that in our world today relying on visual observations would result in chaos. Today we simply have to have a calendar, with a worldwide application, that must be based on calculations, be it of the molad or be it of first visibility. Visual observations have no inherent value over calculations.

15) If you imagine the term “oral law” refers to some information given by God to Moses and then being handed on orally from generation to generation, then there simply is no such thing as an “oral law”! What the Jews call “oral law” is nothing more than a human “Old Testament Commentary,” also called “the Talmud,” which was produced by the sect of the Pharisees over several centuries. It is confused and contradictory.

16) The things that are “right” about the Jewish calendar are:

A) It is based on the movements of the moon and on the movements of the earth around the sun. This is a requirement for a correct calendar.

B) The actual calculations that are used are not totally correct (they embody a very minor error), but they are certainly good enough to be usable.

C) For most years in every 19-year cycle the Jewish calendar starts the year with the correct new moon.

17) The things that are “wrong” about the Jewish calendar are:

A) There are some years when it has the year starting one new moon too early, thereby placing a part of the Feast of Tabernacles into the summer, and also placing Unleavened Bread too early for having any barley available for the wave offering.

B) It is extremely inconsistent. Some years there are no postponements, and the day of the conjunction becomes the Day of Trumpets. In other years the day of the conjunction is deemed inconvenient and therefore a postponement is invoked. This is to conform to “the traditions of men.” This type of postponement has no biblical justification. The effect of these postponement rules is that for some years the Jewish calendar is in harmony with the invisible conjunctions, while for other years it is basically in harmony with first visibility of the new crescents. Occasionally it is even after first visibility. No consistency!

18) To construct a right calendar:

A) Select a leap year sequence which will ensure that the year will never start too early.

B) Use the calculations that are employed by the Jewish calendar.

C) Reject the “postpone away from certain days of the week” rules. Apply a consistent way of always assessing the start of a new month.

19) Things that can still be negotiated:

A) Can the year start as early as March 18th or should it never start before March 21st? The answer to this question will affect the leap year sequence that will be selected.

B) Should the calculations focus on the invisible molad or should they focus on first visibility at some location? Viewed from a worldwide application with a need for being practical, I personally see no objection to continuing to use the invisible molads.

C) Do we always use the calculated molad (or the calculated first visibility), even when that may be a few seconds before the end of the day? Or do we consistently apply the rule of postponing up to a maximum of 6 hours to the following day?

20) The calendar has over the past few years become a rather emotional issue, with some people unilaterally instituting their own calendars. This has led to confusion. For the sake of all of God’s people today, irrespective of their particular organizational affiliations, it would be most helpful if the leadership across organizational boundaries could get together in a conference or council or synod to openly discuss all of these questions relating to the calendar.

21) Deciding, as a collective body of leaders, to implement a uniform adaptation of the Jewish calendar in all of the churches that observe the annual Holy Days, would create a sense of confidence and security in God’s people. It would also stop people from leaving one particular fellowship for no other reason than to find a group whose calendar they could agree with. And, unless it would still violate some biblical principles, could we not recognize the authority of a decision reached by a gathering of leaders representing a collection of different fellowships? It would not be a matter of the majority vote carrying the decision. It would really be a case of only those who reach some consensus on this matter actually implementing the decisions reached! In practice those who do not see it the way the majority would view this matter, would simply leave such a meeting and retain or implement their own understanding on the calendar. But hopefully a majority of those representing the people of God would be willing to acknowledge the problems with the present Jewish calendar, and they would in sincerity seek to resolve those problems.

22) In Acts chapter 15 the early New Testament Church held a conference to resolve some major potential problems.

Today the church of God once again has a dire need for an Acts 15 type of conference!

23) We, the people of God, are already scattered and divided. That is a sad fact. Many families today have relatives in more than one of the different organizations making up the Church of God. Let’s not compound these divisions by either ignoring the very real problems that do exist with the present Jewish calendar or by unilaterally implementing calendar changes without seeking a common understanding with our brethren in other organizations.

24) Let’s be sure that we approach this whole question of resolving the problems with the Jewish calendar with a right motivation—a desire to abide by God’s instructions and guidelines and a desire to achieve a unity of beliefs and practices amongst all of the churches of God, so that God’s people may be strengthened and encouraged.

The End
 
Frank W. Nelte
1/99

For several years I have posted a selection of Frank’s many articles, (naturally, the ones I really liked) which were only available to those on his own email list. Others posted some of his other articles. Now, since I believe early 2005, he has his own web site.

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Minor update January 10, 2012