Disagreement on calendar issues has resulted in much controversy and division among and within the Sabbath-keeping community. Understanding a simple principle of calendar calculation is vital to maintaining unity on this subject.
6-26-10 Key to Calendar Calculation
Introduction – The topic for today is related to the Feast.
• It is an important but controversial topic.
• I have never covered the subject before for a number of reasons
• We will talk about it today.
• In case you haven’t guessed it by now, we will be talking about the calendar and calendar issues.
SPS – What are the basics of the calendar?
• How do we determine when to keep the Holy Days?
• How do we know who or what to believe on the subject? NKJ Leviticus 23:1 Leviticus 23:1And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying,
American King James Version×¶ And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, 2 "Speak to the children of Israel, and say to them: 'The feasts of the LORD, which you shall proclaim to be holy convocations, these are My feasts. 3 ' Six days shall work be done, but the seventh day is a Sabbath of solemn rest, a holy convocation. You shall do no work on it; it is the Sabbath of the LORD in all your dwellings. 4 ¶ ' These are the feasts of the LORD, holy convocations which you shall proclaim at their appointed times. • “feasts” = Heb. moed (moedim pl.) • “appointed times” = moed (moedim pl.) – nor “seasons” as in KJV. NRS Leviticus 23:1 Leviticus 23:1And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying,
American King James Version×¶ The LORD spoke to Moses, saying: 2 Speak to the people of Israel and say to them: These are the appointed festivals of the LORD that you shall proclaim as holy convocations, my appointed festivals. 3 Six days shall work be done; but the seventh day is a sabbath of complete rest, a holy convocation; you shall do no work: it is a sabbath to the LORD throughout your settlements. 4 ¶ These are the appointed festivals of the LORD, the holy convocations, which you shall celebrate at the time appointed for them. TNK Leviticus 23:1 Leviticus 23:1And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying,
American King James Version×¶ The LORD spoke to Moses, saying: 2 Speak to the Israelite people and say to them: These are My fixed times, the fixed times of the LORD, which you shall proclaim as sacred occasions. 3 On six days work may be done, but on the seventh day there shall be a sabbath of complete rest, a sacred occasion. You shall do no work; it shall be a sabbath of the LORD throughout your settlements. 4 ¶ These are the set times of the LORD, the sacred occasions, which you shall celebrate each at its appointed time: Leviticus 23:5-6 Leviticus 23:5-6  In the fourteenth day of the first month at even is the LORD's passover.  And on the fifteenth day of the same month is the feast of unleavened bread to the LORD: seven days you must eat unleavened bread.
American King James Version×5 'On the fourteenth day of the first month at twilight is the LORD's Passover. 6 'And on the fifteenth day of the same month is the Feast of Unleavened Bread to the LORD; seven days you must eat unleavened bread.
Leviticus 23:24 Leviticus 23:24Speak to the children of Israel, saying, In the seventh month, in the first day of the month, shall you have a sabbath, a memorial of blowing of trumpets, an holy convocation.
American King James Version×24 "Speak to the children of Israel, saying: 'In the seventh month, on the first day of the month, you shall have a sabbath-rest, a memorial of blowing of trumpets, a holy convocation. Leviticus 23:27 Leviticus 23:27Also on the tenth day of this seventh month there shall be a day of atonement: it shall be an holy convocation to you; and you shall afflict your souls, and offer an offering made by fire to the LORD.
American King James Version×27 "Also the tenth day of this seventh month shall be the Day of Atonement. Leviticus 23:32-34 Leviticus 23:32-34  It shall be to you a sabbath of rest, and you shall afflict your souls: in the ninth day of the month at even, from even to even, shall you celebrate your sabbath.  And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying,  Speak to the children of Israel, saying, The fifteenth day of this seventh month shall be the feast of tabernacles for seven days to the LORD.
American King James Version×32 "It shall be to you a sabbath of solemn rest, and you shall afflict your souls; on the ninth day of the month at evening, from evening to evening, you shall celebrate your sabbath." 33 ¶ Then the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, 34 "Speak to the children of Israel, saying: 'The fifteenth day of this seventh month shall be the Feast of Tabernacles for seven days to the LORD. • Specific “appointed times” are listed in terms of which day of which month.
• The problem is that no calendar is recorded in the Bible. NKJ Genesis 1:14 Genesis 1:14And 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:
American King James Version×¶ Then God said, "Let there be lights in the firmament of the heavens to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs and seasons, and for days and years NKJ Psalms 136:7 Psalms 136:7To him that made great lights: for his mercy endures for ever:
American King James Version×To Him who made great lights, For His mercy endures forever -- 8 The sun to rule by day, For His mercy endures forever; 9 The moon and stars to rule by night, For His mercy endures forever. • Days are determined by the sun.
• Daytime is when the sun gives its light.
• Nighttime is when the moon and stars give their light. NKJ Genesis 1:5 Genesis 1:5And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day.
American King James Version×God called the light Day, and the darkness He called Night. So the evening and the morning were the first day.
• Day and night are easily determined by observation.
• Genesis 1 sets the precedent of a day as beginning at night. NKJ John 11:9 John 11:9Jesus answered, Are there not twelve hours in the day? If any man walk in the day, he stumbles not, because he sees the light of this world.
American King James Version×Jesus answered, "Are there not twelve hours in the day?
• So the night is also twelve hours long.
• Technically this is true in exact measure only twice a year—the spring and fall equinox, when the tilt of the Earth's axis is inclined neither away from nor towards the Sun, the centre of the Sun being in the same plane as the Earth's equator.
• The name "equinox" is derived from the Latin aequus (equal) and nox (night), because around the equinox, the night and day are approximately equally long. • But it is still easy to determine days and nights.
• The weekly cycle of 7 days is also easy to determine, because it is simply a period of 7 24 hour periods of time based on the setting of the sun.
• This 7 day cycle has never changed or varied.
• Jesus kept the Sabbath on the same days the Jews did.
• Accurate records have been kept since that time until now, and the 7 day cycle has remained the same to this day.
• The only question regarding the Sabbath is when the day ends—at sunset or darkness.
• The Bible doesn’t say.
• Only on the day of Atonement is this specified, but even then it says “from evening to evening” not “from sunset to sunset” or “from darkness to darkness.”
• Otherwise, when to keep the Sabbath is very clear, because it is based on days determined by the sun.
• Not so with the Holy Days, which were instituted on specific days of the first and seventh months. NKJ Genesis 1:14 Genesis 1:14And 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:
American King James Version×¶ Then God said, "Let there be lights in the firmament of the heavens to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs and seasons, and for days and years • “seasons” = Heb. moedim NJB Genesis 1:14 Genesis 1:14And 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:
American King James Version×¶ God said, 'Let there be lights in the vault of heaven to divide day from night, and let them indicate festivals, days and years. CSB Genesis 1:14 Genesis 1:14And 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:
American King James Version×¶ Then God said, "Let there be lights in the expanse of the sky to separate the day from the night. They will serve as signs for festivals and for days and years.
• The Hebrew calendar is a lunar calendar. • Each month began with a new moon. NKJ Psalms 81:3 Psalms 81:3Blow up the trumpet in the new moon, in the time appointed, on our solemn feast day.
American King James Version×Blow the trumpet at the time of the New Moon, At the full moon, on our solemn feast day. NET Psalms 81:3 Psalms 81:3Blow up the trumpet in the new moon, in the time appointed, on our solemn feast day.
American King James Version×Sound the ram's horn on the day of the new moon,2 and on the day of the full moon when our festival begins.3 TNK Psalms 81:3 Psalms 81:3Blow up the trumpet in the new moon, in the time appointed, on our solemn feast day.
American King James Version×Blow the horn on the new moon, on the full moon for our feast day.
• The first day of the month was at the time of the new moon, also Feast of Trumpets..
• The Feast of Unleavened Bread and the Feast of Tabernacles begin on the 15th day (full moon).
• Sounds pretty simple so far, doesn’t it?
• However, although months were determined by the moon, seasons (spring, summer, fall & winter) are determined by the sun.
• And even though the Festivals are designated to be observed on specific days of specific months, they are also clearly connected with the harvest season.
• A month is approximately 30 days in length, yet there are approximately 365 days in a solar year.
• Do the math; it doesn’t compute.
• So now what?
• Leap year in our Roman calendar adds an extra day every 4 years. But there are other matters of concern regarding the times of the Holy Days in connection with the weekly Sabbath. • This brings up one of the main controversies regarding the calendar—“postponements” • Does the Bible give us any indication regarding this controversial topic? NKJ John 7:1 John 7:1After these things Jesus walked in Galilee: for he would not walk in Jewry, because the Jews sought to kill him.
American King James Version×¶ After these things Jesus walked in Galilee; for He did not want to walk in Judea, because the Jews sought to kill Him. 2 Now the Jews' Feast of Tabernacles was at hand. 3 His brothers therefore said to Him, "Depart from here and go into Judea, that Your disciples also may see the works that You are doing. 4 "For no one does anything in secret while he himself seeks to be known openly. If You do these things, show Yourself to the world." 5 For even His brothers did not believe in Him. 6 Then Jesus said to them, "My time has not yet come, but your time is always ready. 7 "The world cannot hate you, but it hates Me because I testify of it that its works are evil. 8 "You go up to this feast. I am not yet going up to this feast, for My time has not yet fully come." 9 When He had said these things to them, He remained in Galilee. 10 ¶ But when His brothers had gone up, then He also went up to the feast, not openly, but as it were in secret. • Jesus kept the Feast on the same day as the Jews. NKJ Acts 2:1 Acts 2:1And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place.
American King James Version×¶ When the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place.
• “with one accord” = pertaining to mutual consent or agreement - 'with one mind, by common consent, unanimously.' (Louw-Nida lexicon).
• Today, there are many differing beliefs regarding when Pentecost and the other Holy Days should be observed.
• Consequently, Holy Day observers are keeping the same days at different times and different places. What is the solution to this dilemma?
• How can we determine who, what and when is right? Let’s take a step back and look at the bigger picture. Deuteronomy 16:16 Deuteronomy 16:16Three times in a year shall all your males appear before the LORD your God in the place which he shall choose; in the feast of unleavened bread, and in the feast of weeks, and in the feast of tabernacles: and they shall not appear before the LORD empty:
American King James Version×16 ¶ "Three times a year all your males shall appear before the LORD your God in the place which He chooses: at the Feast of Unleavened Bread, at the Feast of Weeks, and at the Feast of Tabernacles….
• How do we know the place which God chooses to keep the Feast?
• How did Israel know? NKJ Deuteronomy 14:23 Deuteronomy 14:23And you shall eat before the LORD your God, in the place which he shall choose to place his name there, the tithe of your corn, of your wine, and of your oil, and the firstborn of your herds and of your flocks; that you may learn to fear the LORD your God always.
American King James Version×"And you shall eat before the LORD your God, in the place where He chooses to make His name abide, the tithe of your grain and your new wine and your oil, of the firstborn of your herds and your flocks, that you may learn to fear the LORD your God always.
• Same questions re. where to eat the festival tithe. Let’s get specific here—was this left up to each individual Israelite to decide, or don’t you suppose the decision was made by one person in a leadership position—specifically, Moses?
• What if it were left up to each individual Israelite to decide?
• Do you think that they would all agree on the place? • What about today? • Who decides where to locate our Feast sites?
• Charles Melear investigates the possibilities, and the council makes the final decisions.
• You can decide which site to attend, but the decisions of where the sites are located are not made by each individual member for obvious reasons. NKJ Leviticus 23:39 Leviticus 23:39Also in the fifteenth day of the seventh month, when you have gathered in the fruit of the land, you shall keep a feast to the LORD seven days: on the first day shall be a sabbath, and on the eighth day shall be a sabbath.
American King James Version×¶ ' Also on the fifteenth day of the seventh month, when you have gathered in the fruit of the land, you shall keep the feast of the LORD for seven days; on the first day there shall be a sabbath-rest, and on the eighth day a sabbath-rest. 40 'And you shall take for yourselves on the first day the fruit of beautiful trees, branches of palm trees, the boughs of leafy trees, and willows of the brook; and you shall rejoice before the LORD your God for seven days. 41 'You shall keep it as a feast to the LORD for seven days in the year. It shall be a statute forever in your generations. You shall celebrate it in the seventh month. 42 'You shall dwell in booths for seven days. All who are native Israelites shall dwell in booths,
• Why don’t we do this?
• Who decided that we can stay in motels, tents or RV’s?
• I don’t know who specifically made the decision, but it has been church policy ever since I can remember. The point is that, for the sake of unity, decisions that involve the whole church are made by designated church leaders.
• God’s Feasts and Holy Days are “holy convocations” (special gatherings or assemblies of His people) to be kept at the same time and the same place.
• If the decisions about when and where to keep them were left up to individual members, there would be chaos. • This is an important key to calendar issues.
• In ancient Israel, the key to Holy Day celebration was the new moons.
• How were they determined? In ancient Israel the calculation of the calendar was entrusted to the Levitical priesthood. It was their responsibility to compute the beginning of each month and make it known to the congregation of Israel. The declaration of the New Moons was an essential part in Israel’s calculation of the annual Holy Days. Authorities in Jerusalem continued to declare the New Moons even after the Babylonian captivity. They based this declaration on both observation (looking for the first crescent) and calculation. The key here isn’t the method that was used, but the fact that the authorities declared to the Jews the first day of each month. Today, the calendar is fixed and there is no need for physical observation. What about today?
Conclusion – Colossians 2:16-17 Colossians 2:16-17  Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holy day, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days:
 Which are a shadow of things to come; but the body is of Christ.
American King James Version×tells us that the Sabbath and Festivals foreshadow key events in the plan of God. God’s Holy Days are times of worship and rehearsing and reviewing the basic truths of His marvelous plan.
• Both elements presuppose corporate unity, which is one of the ultimate goals of God’s plan as emphasized in the Holy Days, especially Passover and Atonement.
• Jesus prayed for His disciples to be one as He and the Father are one.
• I have said many times that anything that divides God’s people is not good.
• Calendar issues certainly have divided God’s people.
• One reason is that some consider the decisions regarding the calendar to be matters of individual choice, thereby placing a higher priority on chronological accuracy than on unity, which I believe is a misplaced priority.
• Some claim that the Hebrew word moed implies that God makes an appointment with us on these days, and that if we show up on the wrong day, God will not be there.
• While that sounds plausible, I disagree both in principle and in practice.
• Calendar issues are simply not that clear, nor are they spelled out in the Bible.
• If that premise were true, what does that mean about the many years we observed Pentecost on Monday?
• And why didn’t God correct the situation sooner? Longtime elder Harold Treybig (father of UCG pastors Dave and Ken Treybig) and a CPA once commented in response to a technical question about tithing, “I don’t think God has called us to be spiritual accountants." By the same token, I would suggest that neither has God called us to be calendar experts.
• I recently listened to a noted calendar authority who has spent 4,000 hours researching the calendar, including 1,000 pages about barley. • In my estimation, that is way over the top.
• We must be careful not to, in the words of Jesus Christ, “strain at a gnat and swallow a camel.”
• Our time is far better spent learning more about the spiritual truths that can be gleaned from the Holy Days and Festivals and leave the calendar questions to the leadership of the church and those they designate to determine such matters as we do regarding other decisions regarding Festival observance.