The Sacred Calendar
Part 5:  Examining the Options

John Plunkett
March 29, 2014

By way of an introduction, I just wanted to express, once again, how I’ve been feeling about what we are going through right now.  Not just Trish and I, but also, perhaps, what many other listeners might be going through right now with regards to a change of thinking about the timing of the Holy Days and the Calendar.

Although I say, “going through,” we’re not, of course, going through anything like heavy persecution; but still, change is often painful.  And we can be sure that the only constant is change.

The mental and/or emotional “pain” that I’ve been feeling lately is not just because I am resistant to change.  Which I am!  I think that most human beings are resistant to change.  But rather, the pain that I’m feeling is somewhat similar to that which I experienced during other periods of major change in my past spiritual life.  I will cite a few examples:

I’m sure that many – if not most – of you have experienced similar feelings and their associated pain.

The main common factor between those three periods of major change in our spiritual life and our present changing situation is the sadness of the potential of parting company with the loved ones with who we once spent much quality time with.

Going back a year or so to the time when we were in the process of changing our beliefs with regards to Sabbath food, although there was some impact due to that change, we found it to be relatively minor.  Of course, we needed to change our ways of doing food-related things on Sabbaths and Holy Days and, yes, we needed to turn down some restaurant invitations on some Sabbaths.  But surprisingly few!  We quickly got the hang of it and others who were not in agreement with us on that point did too.  We "agreed to disagree without being disagreeable" and so far it has not caused any major or permanent rifts between us and any of our brethren. And that's great!  That is as it should be.

I am aware, though, that other brethren have experienced much worse responses than we have.  Again, we have to be careful – and this is applies to our current calendar subject, as well – that a person can bring persecution or criticism on himself/herself by handling things in an aggressive or otherwise unwise manner:

Proverbs 15:1: 
A soft answer turns away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger.

I am sure that we all try our best to go by this “soft answer” proverb and also by the converse of Colossians 2:16 by refraining from unrighteously judging others who might disagree with us in respect of meat and drink, etc.  We tried to avoid harsh responses and arguments, of course and so far and for the most part, it has worked well. 

But now, as we embark on this change – not to something truly new, by the way; but rather to something very old which we believe that we are reverting to and restoring – an item of doctrine that we believe to be part of “the faith that was once delivered to the saints” of yesteryear.  As we embark on this change, I am disturbed by the feeling that, once again, it will likely – almost definitely – cause some additional separation between some brethren.  

Yes, potentially including some separation between ourselves and our brethren who agree with and follow the mainstream Churches of God support for the Jews' Calculated Rabbinic Calendar (CRC).  But also between some of those who disagree with the CRC!... between brethren who agree with each other about the error of the postponements and other erroneous Jewish calendar calculations (as detailed in Part 3), but who may not agree on the alternate methods and timings of the monthly New Moons and/or New Year.

This concerns me very much because these disagreements and the potential for resulting separations might once again contribute to the ongoing scattering of God’s church and I don’t want to be a part of that.  God warns us that any scattering of His people is His responsibility and He warns His ministers not to be the cause of any such scattering (Jeremiah 10:21; 23:1-2).  

But are such major separations between God’s people for such differences of opinion really necessary?  Are they inevitable?   I would say "No."

The difference of opinion regarding Sabbath Food might naturally cause some separation between some brethren for a matter of a couple of hours on a Sabbath Day or Holy Day.  And differences of opinion with regards to the timing of the New Moons and God’s New Year can, and does, cause separation between brethren for parts of – or even all of – the Holy Days. 

If we can limit our separation to just that and if we can refrain from falling out with one another over these differences, I believe that that will be a good thing.  It is likely that many people reading this transcript agree that the CRC and the postponements are wrong.  But if we can limit our separation to keeping the New Moon dates and Holy Days at different times until God clearly reveals them to us and gives us 100% knowledge of the way that they should be determined, then I think it would be a good thing if we can limit it to that, not fall out over it and that we can love each other and continue on doing what we believe to be the right thing to do to the very best of our belief and understanding.

At this instant in time, Trish and I have not yet come to the point where we are 100% in support of any of the various opinions on the timings.  We still have questions and we perceive that there are potential problems with virtually all of the different options and opinions that we've had presented to us so far. 

The stage that we are at right now in our studies is that, although we definitely agree that the Jews' CRC calculations and postponements are wrong and that they should not be supported by God’s true church in the New Testament, we have not yet come to the point where we are 100% totally convinced which combination of the various New Moon and New Year timing opinions is correct.

So then, am I saying (as some Church of God leaders do to encourage us to stay with the status quo) that, because I’m not totally sure which of the many opinions is the correct one and because I don’t want to be the cause of further scattering of God’s church, and also for the sake of church unity, we should ignore all that we have learnt so far and that we should go back to observing the CRC?  Is that what I am saying?  No! That is absolutely not what I am saying!

For this upcoming spring 2014 Holy Day season, Trish and I must make our best decision for our own household on the basis of the information we have learned so far.  We have to choose the option that we believe is the closest to what God’s Word says.  I encourage you to do the same if you have not already made a choice.  I am not going to make that decision for you.  I can't.  I don’t have that authority.

If new scriptural, historical or astronomical evidence comes to light in the process of time, then our decision might change.  If it does, we won’t keep it to ourselves; but we will let you know.  We are all to be growing in grace and knowledge; so, as God reveals knowledge to us, change might take place.

But once again, I need to assure you that I’m not going to try to browbeat you into agreeing with my choice.  If you disagree with my choice and if you, in all sincerity, choose one of the other combinations that you believe to be closest to what God’s Word says, then I’m not going to give you a hard time about it.  I promise not to unrighteously judge you in respect of a holy day or new moon (Colossians 2:16).  And I ask that you would grant me and Trish that same courtesy.  Once again, as necessary, let’s agree to disagree without being disagreeable.

So that’s it for my long-winded introduction!  Now, let’s get into the main body of the sermon transcript in which I would like to attempt to explain, in as simple terms as possible, the various methods that I am aware of for the determination of the timing of the God’s New Moons and New Years.  If there are any that I miss, please let me know and we will slot them into a future sermon.

There are various groups, and various ministers, that use various combinations of what I'll refer to here as the "piece-parts."  So, as there may be many combinations of the “piece-parts,” I will just do my best to go through the various individual piece-parts themselves, and hopefully that will make it clear as we go through.

I will not go into the CRC methods used by the mainstream Jewish and Church of God groups, because I went through them in quite a bit of detail in Part 3.

In today’s examples, for reference I will refer to the next New Moon based on tomorrow night's Lunar Conjunction (i.e. Sunday March 30th 2014).

One question that is common to all of the options is whether the New Moon day should be calculated or viewed from a central point (usually Jerusalem) or from one’s own home location.  I believe that, for most decisions, a central point is absolutely necessary, because it fixes the New Moon Day itself, and hence fixes the Holy Days around the world.  

If the "home location" option is taken... and I am not criticizing this option; but if you believe that it is right and if you choose the "home location" option, there will be some brethren at certain points around the world who live close to each other; but could be keeping the Feasts on different days, whether you go by the sighting or the calculation of the New Moon.  (As this takes quite a lot of explanation, if you would like further clarification on it, please don't hesitate to contact me).

As we go through this, please refer to the diagram at  This diagram and all of the times listed are based on Jerusalem timing.

We will look at three New Moon methods and then we will look at a couple of New Year methods.  As we go through these methods, I will respectfully point out any potential problems, for which the people who keep them may or may not have answers.

Option 1: Roman Calendar Conjunction Day (calculated)

It is true that, from the earth, although the moon usually appears dark a day before conjunction and a day after, photographs have been taken using high-tech equipment showing a tiny sliver of the new crescent appears within mere seconds after the exact instant of conjunction.  This can be verified by viewing the US Navy's "What the Moon Looks Like Now" web-sit at

The supporters of this method keep the New Moon Day on the Roman Calendar day on which the moon goes completely dark, no matter what the specific time of the conjunction is, whether it is before or after sunset.

Perhaps the main objection to this method is that its supporters appear to disregard the fact that God’s days run from sunset to sunset.  Thus, their New Moon day could include many hours of the “old moon” before the actual conjunction time... or even worse, as we see this year. 

If you'll look at the diagram, you'll see that this year, supporters of this method are keeping Abib 1 from sunset at 6:56pm on Saturday March 29th until sunset at 6:57pm on Sunday March 30th.  However, the Lunar Conjunction does not occur until 9:46pm on Sunday March 30th.  So, according to God's days running from sunset to sunset, their Abib 1 day is finished by the time the conjunction takes place.

Option 2: First visual sighting

Some supporters of this method might tell you that this was the original one that was given to Moses and was used by the ancient Israelites.  However, I have yet to see verifiable proof that either of these was truly the case.

The potential problems with this method are, I believe, quite obvious.  If you rely on visual sighting, what if the weather is cloudy?  What if the "official" viewers’ eyesights are impaired for some reason?  What if those "official" viewers are, for some reasons of their own, dishonest about their sightings?  Maybe they would say that it was seen, or wasn’t seen, at a certain time. 

(N.B. May 8, 2014:  Some sighters claimed to see the first crescent on March 31st.  Others denied that they did.  It is reported that some unpleasant controversy ensued). 

The uncertainties and inefficiencies of this method can pose difficulties and potential wastage of funds for the planning of church services, travel and time-off from work.

Using New Moon tables, the sighters can predict the date and the time that the first crescent should become visible to the naked eye… on a totally clear day.

My calculated 2014 New Moon chart shows March 30th as not being visible, March 31 as probably visible and April 1st as definitely visible.  So they can predict when it is likely to be visible if the weather is clear.

The time difference between the lunar conjunction and the ability for the first viewing of the first crescent can vary from month to month.  This is because the moon is in an elliptical orbit around the earth.  This time difference from month to month can vary from approximately 15 hours up to 23 hours.  I have seen records of 12 or 13 hours; but they are contested.

If the weather at the viewing point is cloudy on the evening that they expect to see it, some sighters then defer the beginning of their New Moon day to the following sunset, even if it is still cloudy.  This contingency plan assumes that “it must be there even though we can’t see it” or “it would be visible if those pesky clouds weren’t in the way.”

The sighters' next prediction is that the next first crescent might be visible by the sunset on March 31st.  But, because they feel that “might is not good enough,” they plan to begin their New Moon day at the time of the next sunset beginning on the evening of April 1st.  If it is cloudy on that evening, then they will go for the next sunset on April 2nd. 

Option 3: The Sunset after the Conjunction (calculated)

The supporters of this method start their New Moon Day at the first sunset after the Conjunction time.

As mentioned, the next conjunction will occur at 9:46pm on Sunday March 30th.

The Conjunction times are pretty accurate.  Looking at the high-resolution photographs and comparing them with the tables, they were bang-on within a second of what the tables showed them to be.  So the next Conjunction will occur at 9:46pm on Sunday evening March 30th.  

But that is almost 3 hours after that evening’s sunset; so adherents to this method, insisting that none of the New Moon day can have any of the "old moon" in it, will start their New Moon day (and New Year day) at the time of the next sunset after the Conjunction; that is 6:57pm on Monday March 31st. 

This method might quite frequently coincide with the New Moon days and Holy days of those using other methods – even with the CRC method.

A possible problem with this method is that some people claim that the ancient Israelites and ancient Christians did not have the technology or the know-how to be able to determine the time of the Lunar Conjunction.  

I disagree.  We should beware of short-changing the ancient Israelites and Christians.  They were not a bunch of dummies.  Just look at the Egyptians Babylonians and all that they were able to do with astronomy.  Were the ancient Israelites and Christians who were so blessed by God any worse off in mathematics, scientific and astronomical skills than the Egyptians and the Babylonians?  I don’t think so!  I believe that they definitely did have the ability to make accurate determinations of the Conjunction times – primarily by revelation from God.  God gave His oracles and methods to His people through Moses, Aaron, the priests and Levites.  

Secondarily, they could confirm that through many, many repeated detailed observations of the lunar cycles, they could record and predict them.  This is where our present-day lunar tables come from – through the observations, mathematic and scientific calculations of some very smart, well-trained people whose time is dedicated to such things and who know how to do this.  Their calculations, though worked out mathematically are verified by frequent observations.  Could the Israelites do this?  You better believe they could!

An important thing to remember is that not everything that happened in Bible times is recorded in the Bible.  That is not a blasphemous statement.  If we think about all of the things that happened, I am sure that not everything – not even every significant thing – that happened in Bible times is recorded in the Bible.   Think, just for one example that comes immediately to mind, about the great earthquake that took place at the time of Uzziah.   We know very little about that.  Although briefly mentioned by Amos and Zechariah, there is no mention of it in the more detailed coverage of Uzziah's life in the books of Kings and Chronicles. 

When we think about all of the calendar details and how God gave them to Israel along with His other "oracles," we must admit that we don’t know all of the "hows" and "whys" and "wherefores" of them. 

I believe that God may initially have given the correct instructions to Adam and Eve.  Remember that His Holy days and His Sabbaths were "made for man" (Mark 2:27); not just for the Israelites, Jews or even for the Christians alone.  Did Adam and Eve keep God's Sabbath?  Did He expect them to keep His Sabbaths?  He obviously did.  What about the Holy Days?  I believe so. 

Secondly, I believe that He also gave the calendar instructions to Moses and the Israelites – perhaps as an important and integral part of "the living oracles" (Acts 7:37-38).  I believe that they were all passed down through the patriarchs; but could have been lost in the Egyptian captivity; so perhaps God might have needed to repeat them to Moses.  This is my own speculation, of course; but I'm trying to be logical about the way it might have happened.

Thirdly, it may have been necessary for God to repeat them once again to the Jewish leadership after their Babylonian captivity.  I am not sure what they were allowed to do during that captivity and to what extent they were permitted by their Babylonian captors to keep God's Sabbaths, Holy Days and New Moons. 

Fourthly, we know that Jesus, His human parents and His disciples were keeping the Holy Days at the same time as their fellow Jews – other than the Passover timing on Abib 14.  Apart from that, I believe that Jesus, His human parents and His disciples kept the New Moons and Holy Days at the same time as the other Jews.

Fifthly, we know that the Jews kept the proper timings after that, at least up until the destruction of the second temple in 70 AD; but also beyond that date and possibly right up to the time of the Dark Ages and the time of Hillel II. 

Let us move on now to the New Year.  We have been through three New Moon options; now let us go through three New Year options:

Option 1: Israeli Barley must be almost ready for the Wave Sheaf Offering

We know that the readiness of the firstfruits of some crop for the Wave Sheaf Offering may be a factor in the determination of the New Year.  But how do we know that that crop was barley?

Once we have determined that God’s New Year falls in the springtime (and that is a worthwhile study in itself), if we look at the crops of Israel, here's what we find.  I found this information in a book called “Jesus and His Times” which lists the agricultural seasons in Israel.  I will just mention the months with significant crop information:

1. Abib/Nisan = March/April
Passover and Feast of Unleavened Bread
Barley harvest

3. Sivan = May/June
Dry season begins
Wheat harvest

4. Tammuz = June/July

5. Av = July/August
harvest begins

6. Elul = August/September
Summer heat
Date and summer fig harvest 

7. Tishri = September/October
Feast of Trumpets
Day of Atonement
Feast of Tabernacles
Last Great Day
Main harvest time is over
First, autumn rains
Ploughing time

8. Marchesvan = October/November

9. Kislev = November/December
Main rains
Grain planting time
Main rains

12. Adar = February/March
in bloom
Flax harvest
Spring rains

Some have used the Exodus 9:31 mention of the barley being smitten by the hail plague in Egypt as proof that the appearance of the barley must be the sign of the year's beginning.  Let's take a look:

Exodus 9:
25:  And the hail smote throughout all the land of Egypt all that was in the field, both man and beast; and the hail smote every herb of the field, and broke every tree of the field.
31:  And the flax and the barley
{Hebrew: se-orah} was smitten: for the barley {se-orah} was in the ear {abiyb}, and the flax was bolled {gibol - means "in bud"}.  
32:  But the wheat and the rye were not smitten: for they were not yet grown up.

This might look convincing at first reading; but we can’t strictly go by the mention of barley in Exodus 9:31 for two reasons:

First, the location of that mention of barley (and flax) was in Egypt where the usually greater heat gave an earlier harvest than in Canaan… some experts say, up to a whole month earlier.

Second, who knows for sure when the seventh plague of Exodus 9:31 took place and what the time difference was between that seventh plague and the morrow after the Sabbath that fell within the Feast of Unleavened Bread that year (Leviticus 23:15)?  

Of course, the Wave Sheaf Offering is not required today, was not permitted in that year of the Exodus – and was actually not permitted at all until the Israelites reaped their first crops in the Promised Land. 

I personally do not know how long barley takes to ripen from its young, green-ears stage.

I have also heard some brethren claim that the word "Abib" refers to barley.  Some actually think that it means “barley.”  But all 32 Old Testament occurrences of the word “barley” are translated from the Hebrew word “se’orah” (Strong's 8184), which has absolutely no similarity whatsoever to the word “Abib.”

According to the Bible lexicons I have, the Hebrew word “abiyb” (Strong's 24) stems from a root word meaning "to be tender."  We see it rendered in the King James Version as:
- Abib (6 times) 
- In the ear (once)
- Green ears of corn (once).

Other than in Exodus 9:31, barley is not specified or implied in any other scriptures where Abib is mentioned.

Back in the 1980's, a Church of God member from right here in British Columbia wrote to the Ministry of Agriculture in the modern state of Israel and asked them about the timing of the barley harvest in that region.  I have a copy of the reply that he received from the Ministry of Agriculture, which I will read to you.  It is not really definitive; but it gives some idea that you would be really going out on a limb to hang the New Year timing on the appearance of the Israeli barley.  Here is the response that the questioner received from an official in that Israeli Agriculture Department:

Dear Sir,

I received your letter of May 12, in which you asked for some data about barley.  It is a real coincidence that recently I have been receiving two other letters from different countries, all dealing with the same subject.

First of all, I want to give you some general information about barley growing today in our country, which I may use for a background for better understanding.  

As a matter of fact barley has been diminishing steadily in our country for the last ten to fifteen years.  It covers today no more than approximately ten percent of the total small grain production.  This trend is due to the much lower prices for barley in comparison with wheat prices, whereas the yields of both grains are more or less at the same level. 

The main region for barley growing is in the Negev, which is in the south, between Beersheba and the Gaza Strip.  In the Jordan Valley there is hardly any barley left today.  Among the Arab farmers in the vicinity of Jericho, there can still be found some small patches of barley. 

This year (1983) was an exceptional one from a climatic point of view.  We have had an extremely cold and wet winter and therefore there was a great delay in the ripening of wheat and barley.  Both are sown, as a rule, in November and the harvest starts around the end of April, to the beginning of May.

As stated, this year the first wheat and barley have been harvested not before the middle of May in the Jordan Valley. 

However, it is not right, of course, to make a comparison between today and the ancient time.  Not as far as concern the variety of barley, and not the way of harvesting. 

Today, we have to wait with the harvest until the grain is entirely dry, which means a moisture content of 12 to 13% only.  Otherwise the mechanical harvester does not perform a clean threshing and the grain cannot be stored without further drying.

In the ancient times, and even today with primitive methods, the barley and wheat were harvested with a sickle and left on the land in sheaves for further drying.  Therefore the crop could be harvested a couple of weeks earlier, even if the barley would have been harvested with 20% moisture content.

As you may know, at Passover, the first omer of barley was brought and sacrificed to the temple.  Before this day, the new barley was not allowed to be consumed neither for the animals.  New wheat was not allowed to be consumed before Pentecost, or at least as long as old wheat was still available.  In the Talmud it is mentioned that there were years were the barley was not yet ripe at Passover.  In order to be able to bring the omer sacrifice of barley in time for the temple, they used to sow barley on the flat roof of some houses in the Jericho Valley which would be ready.  The omer is not a big quantity of grain.  

I guess that this rather extensive answer will satisfy you, but in case there is still any information required don’t hesitate to write again.

Yours sincerely,

N. Bardroma
Director Field Crops Department

There is a lot more that could be said about that letter;  but what does it really tell us?  Without going into all of the fine detail about the dates, if you look at what Mr. Bardroma wrote, it would indicate that it is very, very doubtful that Abib 1, the beginning of the New Year could fall before the Spring Equinox (March 20th) as it does in some calendars.  We will go into that shortly.

Also, it would be very difficult, confusing and inefficient to set the timing of the New Year and all of the Holy Days around the world for thousands of people by waiting for the green ears of barley to appear in a certain place.

In addition, similar to some questionable New Moon sightings (or lacks thereof), there has also been some history of instances in which different "official barley sighters" working on behalf of different organizations have either artificially delayed or advanced seeing the spring barley or chosen their own preferred barley-growing locations in order to further their own methods and/or opinions. This kind of playing around with God's Holy Days is a disgrace; but it has been done.  

Who does one trust to know and tell the truth regarding whether or not the barley is at a stage where it will be ready to reap by the Wave Sheaf Offering day?  I personally know one minister who flew to Israel in order to check it out for himself!

Although we do not need to keep the Wave Sheaf offering in this day and age, its spiritual symbolism is very important to modern-day Christians.  We all really should be thinking about the Wave Sheaf Offering day, its timing and what it symbolizes. 

But just where should these green ears of barley be sighted?  Should it be sighted in Jerusalem?  I don’t even know whether, after reading what Mr. Bardroma wrote, that there is any barley grown in Jerusalem at all?  I don't know.  Perhaps, as he stated, on some rooftops?

Although barley might be a secondary indication of the New Year season (because the firstfruits of some crop definitely were necessary for the Wave Sheaf Offering), there are so many uncertainties that cause the Israeli barley sighting to be a very uncertain method on which to determine the New Year and God’s Holy Days.

I personally believe that the other two major non-CRC options that we are going to look at, are based on a much more solid, scriptural foundation, which we find in:

Genesis 1:
14:  And 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:
15:  And let them be for lights in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth: and it was so...

Just what were those "lights" that God created and set in heaven to determine the seasons, and days, and the years?  I'm sure that it wouldn't be wrong to include months in here, as well.

16:  And God made two great lights; the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night: he made the stars also.

Of course!  The sun, moon and stars!

The word "signs" in verse 14 is very interesting and, I believe, very significant in this context.  It is translated from the Hebrew noun owth (Strong's 226) probably stemming from the root verb uwth (Strong's 225) in the sense of appearing.

Elsewhere in the King James Version, owth is translated as tokens, ensigns, miracles and marks.  It can also include: signal, distinguishing mark, banner, remembrance, miraculous sign, warning and proof.  With all this in mind now, let’s go to New Year Option 2:

Option 2:  The New Moon closest to (whether before or after) the Spring Equinox 

This one pretty well speaks for itself.  This year (2014), the first New Moon after the Spring Equinox happens also to be the closest one to the Spring Equinox.  

But this is not always the case.  For instance, last year (2013), the New Moon that was closest to the Spring Equinox actually occurred nine days before the Equinox.

Is this a problem?  Yes, it could be.  Why?  Because the Spring Equinox is the official, natural, astronomical dividing line between winter and spring.  So, if God were to begin His year before the Vernal Equinox, He would be starting His year in the winter instead of the spring. 

Would that be a problem?  Yes. Why?  Because, if we begin our New Year too early, the Fall Feasts can arrive too early, even causing the Feast of Tabernacles to come in the Summer, before the conclusion of the time of ingathering! 

Those Fall Feasts have to come at or shortly after, the time of ingathering.  Here is one of the scriptures which commanded the Israelites to take all of their produce they had grown during the summer, reaped at the time of ingathering, and sold to enable them to attend the Feast of Tabernacles:

Deuteronomy 14:
22:  You shall truly tithe all the increase of your seed, that the field brings forth year by year.
23:  And 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 firstlings of your herds and of your flocks; that you may learn to fear the LORD your God always.
24:  And if the way be too long for you, so that you are not able to carry it; or if the place be too far from you, which the LORD your God shall choose to set His name there, when the LORD your God has blessed you:
25 Then shall you turn it into money, and bind up the money in your hand, and shall go unto the place which the LORD your God shall choose:
26:  And you shall bestow that money for whatsoever your soul lusts after, for oxen, or for sheep, or for wine, or for strong drink, or for whatsoever your soul desires: and you shall eat there before the LORD your God, and you shall rejoice, you, and your household.

If this does not take place at the right time, the whole timing of the fall Feasts in relation to the harvest season would be thrown off.

Exodus 23:
16: And the feast of harvest, the firstfruits of your labours, which you have sown in the field: and the feast of ingathering, which is in the end of the year, when you have gathered in your labours out of the field.

Exodus 34:
22: And you shall observe the feast of weeks, of the firstfruits of wheat harvest, and the feast of ingathering at the year’s end.

So again, the proper Fall Holy Day timing can be thrown off if we start the year too early.

Option 3: The First New Moon after the Spring Equinox

The title of this one virtually speaks for itself.  With this method, this is the first New Moon that occurs after the Spring Equinox, which is March 20th in most years.

Referring once again to our diagram, this year (2014), using this method, the first New Moon after the Spring Equinox begins on the evening of March 31st.

Someone might ask, "Where does the Bible mention 'Equinox'?"  Some say that the scriptures do not mention it at all.  Other brethren claim that the Hebrew word “tequwphah” refers to the equinox.  Let's take a look at this word:

The word "tequwphah" (Strong's 8622) appears in the King James Version as the English terms end, circuit and come about.  Its extended meanings are: coming round, circuit, circuit of time or space, at the circuit and a turning.

"Tequwphah" stems from the root word “naqaph” (Strong's 5362) which appears in the King James Version as compass, compass about, go round about, go about, round and enclosed.  Among its extended meanings are compass, encompass, round, surround, to go around, to make the round, to make round, round off and to complete the circuit. 

A couple of Sabbaths ago, we watched an episode of BBC's wonderful 3-part "Orbit" TV documentary series which pictured our tilted earth going around the sun throughout the year – completing its annual circuit.

From these details, one can easily understand why this term tequwphah might be applied to the turn of the year, the completion of the year’s circuit, the completion of the earth’s annual revolution around the sun.

But how is this word used and applied in the scriptures?  Here are the four scriptures containing the word “tequwphah.” 

Exodus 34:22:
And you shall observe the feast of weeks, of the firstfruits of wheat harvest, and the feast of ingathering at the year’s end
{shaneh tequwphah}.

This mention would obviously indicate the time of the Autumnal Equinox. 

In the same way that we have two solstices per year – one in the summer, one in the winter, so we have two equinoxes every year, one in the spring (March 20th) and one in the fall (September 22nd or 23rd).

Just as the firstfruits of the wheat harvest that is mentioned here relative to the Feast of Pentecost can be determined to occur in the late spring to early summer, the "ingathering" here refers to the main harvest time in the autumn of the year.  So again, this mention of tequwphah, we can be sure, is in the autumn.  The year’s end here appears to be referring to the end of the main agricultural growing season/year.

If the word tequwphah can, in fact, refer to any equinox, we can be sure that this particular mention would, of course, be of the Autumn Equinox.

This next scriptural mention may not be truly significant for the timing of the New Year; but it does give us a really good idea of what the word tequwphah means:

I Samuel 1:20: 
Wherefore it came to pass, when the time was come about
{yowm tequwphah} after Hannah had conceived, that she bare a son, and called his name Samuel, saying, Because I have asked him of the LORD.

This mention of the word is referring to the end of another type of cycle – the end of the baby Samuel’s nine-month gestation period.  The time that came about {yowm tequwphah} was Samuel's birth – which occurred, of course, at the end of a cycle of time – that of his gestation period.

Here is the third tequwphah scripture:

II Chronicles 24:23: 
And it came to pass at the end of the year
(tequwphah shaneh), that the host of Syria came up against him: and they came to Judah and Jerusalem, and destroyed all the princes of the people from among the people, and sent all the spoil of them unto the king of Damascus.

Unless we knew the actual season when this battle took place, it is difficult to know what “the end of the year” is referring to in this case.  Was it (as in Exodus 34:22) at the end of the agricultural year – in the autumn?  Or was it at the end of the whole year – in the spring?  We can't be sure.

Now the fourth and final tequwphah scripture in its context:

Psalm 19:
1:  The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament shows His handywork.
2:  Day unto day utters speech, and night unto night shows knowledge.
3:  There is no speech nor language, where their voice is not heard.
4: Their line is gone out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world.  In them
{the heavens} has He set a tabernacle for the sun,
5:  Which is as a bridegroom coming out of his chamber, and rejoices as a strong man to run a race. 
6:  His going forth is from the end of the heaven, and his circuit
{tequwphah} unto the ends of it: and there is nothing hid from the heat thereof.

Here, in wonderful, poetic language, David is extolling God's stunning handiwork – especially as made manifested through the marvellous heavens – and even more especially, through the sun in the sky, as viewed from the earth.

The word "his" in verse 6 is referring to the sun.  As viewed from the earth, the sun has a daily circuit which starts in the east in the morning and terminates in the west in the evening.  Of course, this is due to the spin motion of the earth and is relative to where we are on the earth; but it seems to be moving through a daily circuit.

Because of how the earth's seasonal tilt affects the closeness of any point on earth to the sun, the sun's daily path in the winter appears to us earthlings as a very short and shallow one; but in the summer, it stays visible for longer and appears to ascend much higher into the sky.

The sun also appears to have another circuit – an annual one – again, as viewed from the earth.  In reality, it is the earth that follows that annual circuit – or orbit – around the sun at the dizzying speed of about 65,000 miles an hour.  

On the equinox days, in both the spring and the autumn, the tilt of the earth relative to the sun is reduced to zero.  If you were standing on the equator, on either the spring or the autumn equinox day, the sun would be directly over your head and you would have no shadow.  

On the day of the spring equinox, the tilt of the earth pushes the northern hemisphere closer to the sun, the winter ends and the springtime begins. The southern hemisphere starts to tilt away from the sun, resulting in the beginning of its autumn.  This is all reversed on the day of the autumn equinox.

The sun is also in motion.  It too really does have an orbit of its own and is moving around the Milky Way galaxy at an astonishing, mind-numbing speed of 486,000 miles an hour.  If earth's circuit of the sun takes a solar year, the experts estimate that the sun’s circuit around the Milky Way – yes, just one revolution around our galaxy – is 226 million years!  We are going to have to be spirit beings to get our minds around such monumental concepts.

Here we are on earth, spinning around every day; and while the moon is spinning around us, we are spinning around the sun and the sun is spinning around our galaxy.  All in perfect equilibrium!  Is God wonderful or what?  I wanted to bring this out today because, even though it might only seem to be slightly related to the calendar timing calculations, it has everything to do with it.  God knows what He is doing.  He really does!

But does the use of the equinox in determining the New Year fit in with Genesis 1:14-17?  Yes, it does.  I believe that it fits in with very well with those requirements.  

I am not knocking the opinions of those people who want to determine the New Year by the viewing of the early Israeli barley; but I don't believe that it fits in with the requirements of Genesis 1 as does the equinox.  Can the equinoxes be considered to be kinds of "sub-signs of the sun, moon and stars?  Yes, we have seen that they certainly can.

How should we look at the time of the New Year?  This is not really important, but it is kind of an interesting thing to think about.  Should we look at the New Year as the end of an old year or the beginning of a new one?  This is like asking if a glass is half full or half empty! 

In the King James Version, the English word “year” is usually translated from the Hebrew word “shaneh” (Strong’s 8141), which is also translated in the King James Version as yearly, live and old.

There is more than one Bible term for the end of the year.  I will just let you know what the scriptural words are in addition to tequwphah which we’ve already covered.  I would like to go into the scriptures that are relevant to these words; but I am running out of time and I am not able to go into all of them today.  Please take the time to look them up yourself if you are so inclined:  

Tamam (Strong’s 8552):
It means: consume.  Think of the old year being consumed, ended, finished, spent, perfected, done and accomplished.  You can apply all of these to the end of a year and, if also applied to our preparations for the Passover, it can also mean clean and upright.

Yatsa (Strong’s 3318):
It can mean: out, forth, proceed, go and depart.  It can be meant as departing from the old year and proceeding and going forward into the New Year.

Achariyth (Strong’s 319):
This means end, latter, last or hindermost.

Qets (Strong’s 7093):
This word means end, after and border.  I like the term border when you think of the day of the New Year New Moon as being the boundary between the old year and the new.

They are the words that apply to the end of the old year.  There are also a few Bible terms for the beginning of the New Year:

Reshiyth (Strong’s 7225):
This one means beginning, firstfruits and firstFirstfruits can certainly be applied to the Wave Sheaf Offering and first can obviously applied to the first day of the first month of the year.

Rosh (Strong’s 7218):
This means: head, chief, top, beginning, captain, ruler, sum, first and principal.  Many, most or even all of these can be applied to our Lord Jesus Christ.

We could probably have a full hour's Bible Study just going over those words and applying them in the context of the Sacred Calendar.

We have had lots of variety in today’s sermon – hopefully some powerful and meaningful facts.  But the main things that I wanted to cover today were the basic options for the determination of the New Moon days and the New Years days.  I hope I was able to succeed in doing so.  If you found any of it confusing, I apologize; but please do not hesitate to contact me and I will do my best to clarify anything that I was not able to make clear the first time around.

So, where are we now?  Because we are just a few weeks away from Passover, I want to put this line of study on hold for now.  I have really been enjoying the study of this subject and I think that there are a few more things that we can look into that I was not able to get into today. 

The main thing that I want to ask you to do is to ask you to make your calendar decisions based on what we have talked about today.  If you have not already made a decision, please make one and be confident in the decision that you make. 

Once again, if you decide to keep the CRC, I am not going to criticize you for doing so.  But if you feel that it is time for you to pull away from the Jews' CRC and from the mainstream Church of God groups' ways of doing it, we will certainly pray for you.  Prayers are necessary for one another in this because it is not going to be an easy road, as many have already found out. 

Whichever alternative you decide on, please pray about it, ask God to give you the confidence and to show you the right way to go.  We are doing the same thing. 

Yes, it is true that different brethren are coming up with different answers; but one day God will straighten us all out on these things and they will become totally clear.  I believe that there might be "releasing scriptures" in the Bible somewhere that we are going to come across and make it all crystal clear.  When we find them, we'll say, "Why didn’t I see that before?"