Determining God's Appointed Times Scripturally

     What is to be used to determine the Appointed Times?

     What signals the start of a new month?

     What signals the start of a new year?

     Some may say that God left the calendar for the Jews, namely the Sanhedrin, to decide its methods. Some believe God left it up to Church leadership to make these decisions. If the calendar is one of those things that God has left for us to set, then why was He so explicit as to what days these Appointed Times were to occur on?

     Why did He specify that Passover is to occur on the 14th day from the new moon of the abib? That the Feast of Unleavened Bread is to begin on the 15th day of the same lunar cycle? Why give such detail as to when precisely the Day of Atonement is to begin and end (from the ninth day of the seventh month at sunset until the sunset on the tenth day of the seven month)?

     If the calendar was and is no matter to God, why did He tell us how many days each of these Appointed Times are from each New Moon? Why didn't He just say, "Alright children, sometime during the year, I want you to observe these festivals to Me, at any ol' time that is convenient to you. You pick what lunar phase a New Moon is, and if you want, you can change your mind about it and postpone it a day or two. It's all up to you"?

     God is not the author of confusion. Just as He singled out a certain day of the week for His Appointed Time (i.e., Sabbath) instead of leaving man to choose for himself one in seven, so with the annual Appointed Times: Passover is the 14th day from the New Moon of the Aviv. The Feast of Unleavened Bread begins the 15th day from the New Moon of the Aviv. "Trumpets" is the very day of the 7th New Moon of the year. And so on. God Himself has fastened these days where He wants them. He set the courses of the sun and the moon. And man may plant, and man may water, but it is God who gives the increase. He sets the times of harvests. All is under His authority.

     I have read and heard many claims that the Scriptures simply don't reveal to us the mechanics of a calendar. In spite of the claims in the CoGs to the contrary, in actuality, there is quite alot of Scripture which points to God's calendar which He desires us to follow.

     Consider, if you will for a moment, this Scripture:

Matthew 2:23 And He came and dwelt in a city called Nazareth: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophets, "He shall be called a Nazarene."

     What Scripture in TaNaKH  (the Old Testament) says this? Where did Matthew quote from?

     I know many apologists try to make a point that Matthew stated that this was merely "spoken" by the prophets, as opposed to "written." But notice that Matthew used the same term to describe other written sayings of the prophets: Matthew 1,22,23; 2:15,17; 3:3; 4:14; 8:17; 12:17, etc.

     So what Scripture was Matthew quoting?

     Concerning this matter (Matthew 2:23), commentator Albert Barnes noted:

It is a great deal more probable that Matthew refers not to any particular place, but to the leading characteristics of the prophecies respecting him. The following remarks may make this clear:

1st. He does not say, "by the prophet, as in Matthew 1:22; 2:5,15; but "by the prophets," meaning no one particularly, but the general character of the prophecies.

2nd. The leading and most prominent prophecies respecting him were, that he was to be of humble life, to be despised, and rejected. See Isaiah 53:2-3,7-9,12; Psalm 22:1.

3rd. The phrase "he shall be called," means the same as he shall be.

4th. The character of the people of Nazareth was such that they were proverbially despised and condemned, John 1:46; 7:52. To come from Nazareth, therefore, or to be a Nazarene, was the same as to be despised, and esteemed of low birth; to be a root out of dry ground, having no form or comeliness. And this was the same as had been predicted by the prophets. When Matthew says, therefore, that the prophecies were fulfilled, it means, that the predictions of the prophets that he should be of humble life, and rejected, were fully accomplished in his being an inhabitant of Nazareth, and despised as such.

     You may be wondering, "What does this have to do with the Scriptural calendar?"

     Simply this:

     Just as there is no direct Scripture that says "He shall be called a Nazarene," there is no direct Scripture that tells us the details of the calendar...BUT, as the combined voices of the prophets declare that He shall be called a Nazarene, so too, the combined voices of the authors of Scripture tells us how the calendar operates and how to determine which month starts each year.

     What are the leading characteristics given in the Scriptures respecting the calendar?

      Let us read a little, there a little...precept upon precept.

Determining the Head of the Month

God said, Let there be lights in the dome of the heavens, to separate the day from the night, that they may be for signs--for set times, for days and years, and let them be for lights upon the earth! It was so (Genesis 1:14-15).

     The above scripture plainly declares that "light" in the dome of the heavens would be a sign to demark God's appointed times. One of those times, Day of Trumpets, occurs on the first day of the seventh month (Leviticus 23:23-25), which is a New-Moon day.

     Since the Law tells us that it is "lights" in the heavens that mark the appointed times, we can conclude that the conjunction (that is, the dark moon) is not the scriptural New Moon.

     According to the Law, then, there must be the sign of the two lights (the sun beginning to shine upon the moon, as Philo recorded--see other post) to be a New Moon. This testifies to the first visible crescent.

     Likewise the Israelites (who spoke, read and fluently understood Hebrew) would know what a New Moon is just from the Hebrew word chodesh, which is used in Torah and the rest of the Tanakh (i.e., the Old Testament) to designate the New Moon.

     The New Strong's Expanded Dictionary of Words in the Hebrew Bible, page 81, entry No. 2320, shows that chodesh means "new moon;month." It further states that "the word refers to the day on which the crescent reappears."

     Page 263 of Gesenius' Hebrew-Chaldee Lexicon to the Old Testament shows that the word for "new moon" comes from a root that refers to something that appears like "a sharp polished splendid sword."

     The very word itself points to the crescent sliver of the moon. A lunar conjunction is not "sharp" nor "polished" nor like a "splendid sword," but these well define the crescent moon.

Determining the Head of the Year

And YHVH spake unto Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt, saying, "This month shall be unto you the beginning of months: it shall be the first month of the year to you." (Exodus 12:1,2)

     These verses speak of the Biblical "Rosh haShanah" ("head of the year"). YHVH Himself pointed out the New Moon that began the new year. But which month is it? How can we identify it?

     In a simple answer, it is the month that contains the Passover, Feast of Unleavens, and Elevation Sheaf / Wavesheaf Day. (Read Exodus 12:1-20 along with Leviticus 23:5-14)

     Ok, great! So, the first month of the year contains the Passover, Feast of Unleavened Bread, and Elevation Sheaf Day (i.e., the day of offering an omer of the first fruits of the harvest). This gives it some identity (actually, quite a bit).

     Now, how do we know what month this is in relation to time in general? Where does it fit into the year? Does the Bible really give us no further instruction?

And Moses said unto the people, "Remember this day, in which ye came out from Egypt, out of the house of bondage; for by strength of hand YHVH brought you out from this place; there shall no leavened bread be eaten. This day came ye out in the month Abib." (Exodus 13:3,4)

Thou shalt keep the Feast of Unleavened Bread: (thou shalt eat unleavened bread seven days, as I commanded thee, in the time appointed of the month Abib; for in it thou camest out from Egypt: and none shall appear before Me empty. (Exodus 23:15)

The Feast of Unleavened Bread shalt thou keep. Seven days thou shalt eat unleavened bread, as I commanded thee, in the time of the month Abib: for in the month Abib thou camest out from Egypt. (Exodus 34:18)

Observe the month of Abib, and keep the Passover unto YHVH thy God: for in the month of Abib the YHVH thy God brought thee forth out of Egypt by night. (Deuteronomy 16:1)

     Ok, we can see that the month in question is not only identified as the month which contains the Passover, Feast of Unleavens, and the day of offering an omer of firstfruits, but it is straightly referred to as the month of the abib!

     Great! It is the month of Abib.

     What does abib mean?? (and why is this month called the month of abib?)

     Feel free to look it up in your Hebrew lexicon of choice (James Strong numbered it 24 in his).

     Most lexicons will simply define abib as "green ears of grain" or just "ears of grain" (absent of any color reference), however neither of these definitions are as on target as they should be. The Scripture, however, teaches us the specific meaning of abib (or, as its more literally transliterated, `aviv).

     These are the only verses that use the term `aviv:  Exodus 9:31; 13:4; 23:15; 34:18; Leviticus 2:14; Deuteronomy 16:1.

     Four of these citations are verses where `aviv is used to designate the first month of the year, namely Exodus 13:4; 23:15; 34:18; and Deuteronomy 16:1 (as seen above). The other two verses, Exodus 9:31 and Leviticus 2:14 are in reference to a stage of growth of the barley crop, and their contexts define the meaning of `aviv.

And the flax and the barley was smitten: for the barley was in the ear ["in the ear"--Hebrew `aviv], and the flax was bolled [Hebrew giv'ol = "in the pod; budded"]. But the wheat and the rie [actually, "spelt"] were not smitten: for they were not grown up [Hebrew afilot = they were yet "dark"]. (Exodus 9:31,32)

     It is seen here that the 'aviv barley could be smitten by hail, while the wheat and spelt could not. In opposition to Strong's suggestion in his lexicon that `aviv comes from an unused root meaning "tender," we see here that the barley and the flax were brittle enough to be destroyed by incoming hail, but the wheat and the spelt were yet dark--they (the wheat and spelt) were still quite green and tender. When barley is `aviv, it is no longer tender, nor dark in color (but would generally be yellow-streaked).

     The Scriptures further define `aviv for us in Leviticus 2:14 where we find that `aviv is a stage of growth where the barley grains can be dried in fire and remain (i.e., not shrivel up) to be used for an offering:

Leviticus 2:14 And if thou offer a meal offering of thy firstfruits unto the LORD, thou shalt offer for the meal offering of thy firstfruits green ears [`aviv] of grain dried by the fire, even grain beaten out of full ears.

     Putting it all together, `aviv, as defined by Scripture, is reference to barley that:

     The other four Scriptures that utilize the term `aviv (Exodus 13:4; 23:15; 34:18; and Deuteronomy 16:1) reference this definition.

     In other words, the month of the `aviv is the month of barley that is no longer dark in color, that is brittle enough to be destroyed by hail, and mature enough to be dried in fire (without shriveling up and leaving empty shells) and can be readily made into flour.

     So we see that the first month of the year, according to Scripture, has these identifying marks:

     The barley must be `aviv (at minimum) by the middle of the month (specifically, by Elevation Sheaf Day) in order to offer the required firstfruits offering of an omer of barley flour (Leviticus 23:10-14 & Leviticus 2:14).

Determining the Length of the Year

     When the 13th "new moon" is sighted, at sunset in Israel, and the barley is not going to be ready, it would be the beginning of the thirteenth month. If the barley is going to be ready in time, by the "morrow after the Sabbath" during Unleavened Bread, it would be the beginning of the first month of the new year.

Summing Up The Simplicity

     Friends, do you have ears to hear what the Prophets are saying?

"The first of the months is the month when the barley is `aviv and ready to harvest by the first sunday on or after the 15th day of that lunar cycle"

     Is this written outright in one verse? Nope, but neither is the saying of the Prophets "He shall be called a Nazarene."

     Can you hear the Prophets?

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