This is an attempt to collate some of the more popular arguments for a supposed biblical calendar. There isn’t enough room in all of the blogs in the world to try to store all of the fanciful imaginations of people, so I only want to concentrate on a few I’ve heard over and over again.
The problem is that they are all self-refuting, and people who buy into these arguments are sticking their fingers in their ears and their heads into the sand. That’s because no matter how you try to present it, there is no clear outline for a calendar in the bible, and everything connected to it requires someone, somewhere to make a judgment call. Yet, the argument for a biblical calendar is always in opposition to the God given authority of the Church to make such judgments.
Time Always Starts With Light, Not Darkness
This one is so easy as to be laughable. A biblical day starts at sundown. The biblical Sabbath begins Friday at sunset, a period more of darkness than light, then becomes darker, and only just before sunrise is there increasing light.
All Times, Etc., Are in Relation to Jerusalem
It amazes me that people will spend plane fare to fly to Jerusalem to look for green ears and other such things. Is this what God intended?
At any rate, the weekly Sabbath starts at sundown local time. Why shouldn’t everything else?
Someone had to make that decision for or against.
The Jewish Calendar Isn’t Based on Astronomical Events
Again, this is laughable. All calendars are based upon astronomy and astronomical events. Whether you agree with how they are based upon them is another matter, and that too is a human judgment.
A New Moon Means a Crescent Moon
The new moon is nowhere defined in Scripture, so we must rely upon extrabiblical testimony. In fact, even those who teach a biblical calendar cannot strictly from the Bible define these things and must turn to historical events. No matter what, you must go outside the Bible. No matter what, someone must decide what the proper definition is. The question is whether or not you are going to allow your prejudices to cause you to do what is right in your own eyes or not.
There Is no Record of a Calculated Calendar in the Bible
Actually, there is. Noah obviously used a 360 day calendar in the account of the Flood. There is no way he could have used observation, even if he wanted to.
Often, the 360 day calendar is called the “prophetic calendar”, and it is the one used during the Great Tribulation in Revelation. It is obvious that during the Great Tribulation that the Church cannot use observation because the signs in the heavens will be so overwhelming.
Personally, I wonder if the ones who will not go into the Place of Safety will be the ones who will pridefully reject the authority of the Church to use a calculated calendar during this time. There will be something to divide the children of God, and this issue has been one of the most contentious ones of the modern era because many of the proponents confuse Pharisaical nit-picking with zeal.
During the Exodus, there were some that attempted to return to Egypt, thereby rejecting the authority of Moses and Aaron as the true representatives of God. All considering, it seems trite that someone would reject godly authority and replace it with taking it upon themselves to determine right and wrong, but that was what happened then, and it will surely be what will happen again.
6 Now these things were our examples, to the intent we should not lust after evil things, as they also lusted.
~ 1Co 10:6
The Priests Did Not Set the Calendar in Ancient Israel
Actually, the priests always made judgments about various things
They established the system of having two witnesses to observer the moon. Where is that in Scripture?
The priests established that the witnesses must appear before a priest who judges their testimony. Again, there is a human judgment involved.
If weather blocked the view of the moon, the beginning of the month was postponed. Where is the Scripture that says to do this?
Observations Are Clear, a Calculated Calendar Is Not
However, as we have seen, that is not true. Human judgments are required in any means of keeping time, whether it be about when sunset is, the month begins, the year begins, etc.
A Calculated Calendar Is Based Upon Tradition
And, so what? Human traditions are not condemned in the Bible unless they break God’s Law or are elevated to the same level as God’s Law. Since there are human judgments required in an observational calendar, it too is based upon tradition.
However, creating a calendar and calling it “God’s Sacred Calendar” when it is actually the inventions of men (hopefully attempting to do God’s will) is elevating tradition to the level of God’s Law.
A Calculated Calendar Means Keeping the Holy Days on the Wrong Dates
That is an assumption based upon the notion that one calendar is right and the other is wrong.
More importantly, it ignores the purpose of a calendar to begin with. A calendar makes sure that people do the same things at the same time. By insisting upon a different system of calculating time and the holy days, it causes people to keep them on different days. In short, it causes division.
One thing that strikes me is that throughout Genesis in particular is the notion that one walks with God. Adam and Eve walked with God in the Garden of Eden. Enoch walked with God.
3 Do two men walk together unless they have made an [a]appointment?
Can the Church meet together by using different calendars? Can we truly meet with God if we cannot obey God given authority?
Another issue is that some seem to assume that God cannot know which calendar we are using. Some seem to assume that appointed leaders have not shared their plans with God, or that somehow God is unable to discern the decisions that men make.
We are in training to be leaders — all of us. Why does God share some of the responsibilities with us? To train us to lead!
When you read the detail surrounding the building of the Tabernacle or the building of the Temple, it is interesting how God lists exactly what He wants, where He wants it, who is to do it, and so on. Yet, He leaves a lot unsaid about a number of things to include government and the calendar.
He wants us to make certain decisions, and one of those decisions is whether or not when something is unclear we will obey God appointed authority.
Personally, I find the question of which calendar to use much less important than how we should deal with disagreements. To agree on what holy days should be kept, to further agree on the dates that they should be kept, and to even agree that the calendar is based on the cycles of the moon, but to then have a huge UNSOLVABLE blow-up over the exact day that begins a new month is both absurd and shameful. I sincerely hope that I don’t seem to be endorsing either one side or the other – I don’t know enough reliable information about the situation to make a judgment one way or the other.
@Steven Britt: Yes, it is shameful. It is even more shameful when you consider that the root of it all is everyone doing what is right in his/her own eyes.
Perhaps Mr Armstrong should have written another chapter in MoA, The Mystery of the Holy Calendar. It’s calculation and derivation is a mystery to nearly all members. They have no way of calculating it and that’s because it’s based on many arbitary Jewish rules and traditions that are unbiblical–like Atonement falling before or after a Sabbath.
Should it be a mystery? Of course not.
@Chris: Of course it is arbitrary. Just as it is arbitrary as to how to define a new moon, or how it is arbitrary that two witnesses would be required to observe one. It is arbitrary as to whether or not to postpone the month for a day because of cloudy weather but never two.
Arbitrary is the point.
What is not arbitrary is who has the authority to decide such matters.
Numbers 27:19-20 talks about giving authority over the people.
“set him before Eleazar the priest and before all the congregation, and inaugurate him in their sight. And you shall give some of your authority to him, that all the congregation of the children of Israel may be obedient.”
I couldn’t state for certain whether Israel kept a calculated calendar or one that is strictly observed during the temple periods. The historical evidence for either side of the debate is circumstantial. That’s why it’s still an issue of controversy between people. In my view when it comes to calendars, it’s an easy issue whereby a person can try to inaugurate himself as an interpreter of authority over the CoG.
@norbert: Exactly! We are constantly being tested about whether or not we understand biblical authority, if we know how to wield it, and if we are humble enough to submit to it.
I think most of the time we forget the principle outlined in Phillipians 4. Do we dwell on the rumors, slanders and supposed motives of leaders, or do we think upon what is “lovely” about them? Do we dwell upon what is gossip and clear innuendo, or upon what we know to be true?
In the vernacular, do we give them the benefit of the doubt?
Over the decades I have read many things regarding the calendar and there is only one reference source that I have found to be most intriguing and convincing. Some free discs are available relative to the calendar and they are available from a Don Roth (http://www.biblicalcalendarproof.com), who I personally have never met. It all seems to boil down to counting: as in 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 1, 2, 3, 4, …etc.
That might be interesting, but it’s difficult not to be skeptical when he makes a number of claims on his site that are difficult to accept without a lot of hard evidence.
Why DVDs, though? I’ve ripped all if mine onto my hard drive, as messing w/ disks is inefficient and invites errors through scratches, fingerprints, erc. I would hate to go through all of that and be disappointed.