The COGWA calendar paper has much to offer if you have the humility to accept it.
I was looking for a different paper, actually, when I came across the COGWA “The Hebrew Calendar Study Paper“. It details very similar things to what I’ve written over the years, but especially thoughts along the lines of:
There are numerous difficulties with observation as opposed to calculation. Of course, the greatest hurdle is the lack of any biblical requirement for observation….
Other questions include what constitutes “seeing” the crescent?With the naked eye it will be difficult to see the crescent with less than 5 percent illumination in most locations, but with a telescope one can view the crescent with 1 percent illumination. Since a telescope would make observation more accurate, are telescopes permitted for the witnesses? Who can make that decision, since telescopes were not in use during the time of the Second Temple?
Yes, indeed, who has the authority to make such decisions? And, if we allow telescopes, then why not allow the use of computers that can calculate when the phases occur and avoid the whole notion of nothing less than a calendar postponement because the moon crescent is not visible? After all, is it not hypocritical to condemn others for annual postponements while practicing a type of postponement on any given month that a crescent moon is not visible?
More statements similar to ones I’ve asked about:
• Find proof from the Bible that we are to use Jerusalem as the location for the sighting.
• Find proof from the Bible that we are to look for the period of total darkness of the moon (and only with the naked eye without using a telescope). This assumes a nonbiblical definition of total darkness for a new moon.
•Find proof from the Bible that we are to look for the visible crescent (and only visible to the naked eye without using a telescope). This assumes a nonbiblical definition of a visible crescent for a new moon.
• Find proof from the Bible that authority for the calendar has been given to someone else besides the Jews.
• Find proof from the Bible as to what to do when the moon is not visible due to cloudy weather.
• And, finally, find credible evidence that this was the calendar that God’s Church has used over the past 2,000 years.
I’ve stressed the “from the Bible” for a good reason: No matter how much posturing the “biblical calendar” folks do, they always have to fall back upon tradition to make their case because the Bible does not make it for them!
The only question I believe I have consistently asked that this paper does not ask (but hints at here and there) is: What is a calendar for? This is not a silly or facetious question! If we are to agree to meet together by appointment (Am 3:3, NASB) and observe the holy days together, then we must be working from the same page!
The last point from the paper above should not be overlook, either. Seriously, will God hold those in “Ye Old Jolly England” accountable for not knowing when the crescent moon occurred in Jerusalem? If so, then why would He be inconsistent and do so today?
However the biggest point they make, and they should stress a lot more, is: Who has the authority to decide? Seriously, if it is not the Church, then who? You? Me? And, who are we?
4 ‘These are the appointed times of the Lord, holy convocations which you shall proclaim at the times appointed for them.
Notice! God commands that men proclaim His appointed feasts! Which men? For, if it is you and I and everyone on their own, then who could meet together?
12 And the man that will do presumptuously, and will not hearken unto the priest that standeth to minister there before the Lord thy God, or unto the judge, even that man shall die: and thou shalt put away the evil from Israel.
~ Dt 17:12
It is the responsibility of the Church leadership to make certain decisions, and the penalty for being rebellious and going your own way is quite high!
Quite frankly, if the Church leadership decided to go with observation, then who would you and I be to decide differently? Isn’t that just a case of pride, believing that self is always right? Unless the Bible provides a clear direction in a given matter, it is the responsibility of the Church leadership to make decisions about matters. That’s why in Acts 15 we see the leaders of the Church gathering together to judge upon an important matter of their day.
I believe God has intentionally left some matters murky because He wants to see how we make decisions and whether or not we will follow godly leadership. He also wants to see if we are willing and able to discern between godly and unrighteous leadership, and if we are even willing to follow ungodly leaders (such as our civil politicians or corrupt employers or whomever) as long as their orders do not involve us breaking God’s Law.
The Pharisees of Jesus’ day were proud in how they majored in the minors. They made mountains out of molehills and in doing so were actually violating greater commandments than the ones they were supposedly observing. It was pride and arrogance. By keeping a different calendar, the greater law of gathering on the holy days is being violated.
Can you really say you are following Church leadership and doing this well in accordance with the Bible?