The Calendar: Part 7

 John Plunkett
January 3, 2015

Note:  For the purpose of improved clarity in this transcript, I have altered the order of some of the paragraphs from the original sermon dialogue. 

It was a little over two years ago that Trish and I first started to become seriously concerned about the sacred calendar and about whether or not we had been keeping the right “Holy Days” for the past thirty-five years or so.

And it was just one year ago that I gave Part 1 of a six-part series of Bible studies on the subject of the sacred calendar.  

I gave the last one – Part 6 – on June 7th of last year (2014), when we finished the series with a study of the scriptural meanings of “The Oracles of God.”

Back then I didn’t think that we were going to need a Part 7; but there were a couple of things that subsequently changed my mind.  After some recent conversations with various brethren at the Feast of Tabernacles, and since then from recent studies of our own, additional questions have come up.  It appears that more and more brethren are beginning to question the Hebrew Calendar and its traditional adoption by the mainstream Churches of God. 

Also, with the Roman year of 2015 having just begun, there is a somewhat unique relative timing of the phases of the sun and the moon in the late winter and spring of this year, which significantly affects the timing of God’s Holy Days. 

So because of all of these things, I began to think that a seventh part of this Calendar series might be a good idea.  Although there will probably be some repetition from the earlier six parts, I think this is necessary, especially for the people who are just coming into the knowledge of this topic.

So, in the sermon time today, I would like to tell you how some of our family members, Trish and I have come to believe how the New Moon days and the New Year’s days are to be determined; and what this means to us for the timing and the keeping of the Holy Days in this coming year.

In some of the other sermons in this series, I included one of my favourite scriptures.  Some people have said that this verse is out of context for this topic and that it was addressed to other people; but I really believe that this verse does apply to you and me, and certainly in relation to this subject:

Colossians 2:16: 
Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days:

But let us not forget the converse of this verse.  Let us not unrighteously judge any of our brethren in respect of any of these things, even if they think differently than we do.

With the sub-topics that we will go through today, as we discuss “our” timing of the New Moon Days and the New Year’s days, I know that some of our listeners might disagree with me.

First of all, some of our listeners may not have come to point at which they are convinced that the Hebrew Calendar (also referred to as the Calculated Rabbinic Calendar (CRC)) and its adoption by most of the major Church of God groups are unscriptural and wrong.  If so, that’s fine.  Three years ago, Trish and I were of that same opinion.

Some others of our listeners have come to the conviction that the CRC and the adoption of it by the mainstream  Churches of God are wrong; but may disagree with our timings and our calculation methods to determine the New Moon day, the New Year’s Day, or maybe both. 

And again, if so, that too is fine.  If either or both of these happens to be the case with you, please, in the spirit of unity and love, and in the spirit of Colossians 2:16, let’s peacefully agree to disagree.  Let’s not fall out over these things.  

By the end of today's study, some brethren might not be too happy with the things that I have to say.  One of the things that came up in correspondence in recent months is that there are some brethren who feel that any church member who questions or rejects the CRC and its adoption by many of the Church of God groups are somehow being anti-unity, or even worse, that we are causing division.  Let me say that nothing could be further from the truth!

Yes, it is true that God the Father and Jesus Christ want mutual love and unity in their church and amongst their people.  But do they want love and unity in their church at the expense of disobedience?  Or at the expense of us closing our eyes to unscriptural additions to their Holy Word? 

Here are three scriptures that I'm sure you are very familiar with:

Deuteronomy 4:2: 
You shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall you diminish ought from it, that ye may keep the commandments of the LORD your God which I command you.

We see a very simple command there: You shall not add unto the word.  It seems that the Eternal was aware that His people would likely do this kind of thing.

Deuteronomy 12:32: 
What thing soever I command you, observe to do it: you shalt not add thereto, nor diminish from it.

These are two commands that the modern-day Jews should be adhering to.  Of course, we should be adhering to them as well.!  The Jews would likely ignore the similar New Testament scripture in Revelation 22; but let’s read it anyway because these are commands for you and me.  Some people think that this command is just referring to what is written in the book of Revelation; but I feel that because God has placed it at the end of the Holy Bible, it really applies to the whole book:

Revelation 22:18: 
For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book:

Let’s talk a little now about the differences in opinions and methods for the Holy Day timings.  

Some of these differences might tend to separate some of us for some days in some years.  

In some years, for many brethren, the days line up like they did in 2014, when we were able to get together for the Holy Days. 

But in some years we may be separated because of those timing differences.  Hopefully only a few days in a few years. 

Let us pray that God will bring us together in our understanding.  He doesn’t seem to be doing that right now – obviously for His own good reasons.  I don’t know why; but that's the way it is. 

Nevertheless, if we have God’s Holy Spirit dwelling within us, we should be able to work around our differences.  And despite our differences, we should still be able to maintain a high level of unity and love for one another.  

So, once again, in the spirit of Colossians 2:16, whatever I say in this sermon, I do not want to offend anybody who happens to disagree with our timings – those that we consider to be correct.  But in order to better explain what we call “our” timings, I need to explain why we didn’t choose the other alternate methods.  

Although there will be some repetition from the previous parts of this study, I do not want to repeat all of the fine details of the different options today; but to just discuss them briefly.

How Should the New Moon Days be Determined?

Let’s begin with a brief mention of the Jews’ Calculated Rabbinic Calendar (CRC).  

For those of you who didn't know, at a very early time, initially through Herbert W. Armstrong, the mainstream Churches of God adopted the CRC.  From what I have been able to find out, I believe that Mr. Armstrong initially adopted it in its entirety, and then the Worldwide Church of God (WCG) chipped away at it in a couple of areas over the years.  But basically, as far as the timing of the calendar is concerned, they adopted it. 

Some of our listeners and readers may not have taken the time to look into this for themselves.  If you haven’t, I really do want to urge you to do so. 

Some recent correspondence and conversations tell me that it is highly likely that your minister or church leader might possibly have advised you personally – or maybe your whole church group – that you should trust his word, his education, and his long church experience that the CRC and the church’s adoption of it is okay.  He may also have told you that any discussion of it is divisive, unloving and anti-unity.  And again, I totally disagree with that opinion.

May I respectfully urge any of you who are still maintaining adherence to the mainstream CoGs’ use of the CRC,  not to believe me or my words; but rather, to do what the Bible says and to prove all things:

I Thessalonians 5:21: 
Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.

Also, as God said through Luke, it is good for us to emulate the Berean brethren who were considered to be more noble than other brethren.  Why?  Because they researched the scriptural veracity of the things preached for themselves.  Yes, they listened to what their ministers said; but they looked into it for themselves.  This is what I ask you to do.  Research it for yourself:

Acts 17:
10: And the brethren immediately sent away Paul and Silas by night unto Berea: who coming thither went into the synagogue of the Jews.
11: These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.

Many of you will remember a Worldwide Church of God minister by the name of Herman Hoeh.  He wrote and taught an Ambassador College course on the subject of the Hebrew Calendar.  Here is a quote from his course material: 

It is the responsibility of the Church (please note the capital ‘C’) to announce the time of each festival to the congregations … 

When he says, “the Church” here, I am pretty sure that he means the upper levels of the Worldwide Church of God ministry.  Continuing in Dr. Hoeh’s quote:

Detailed understanding of the Hebrew calendar is not even necessary for a lay church member. 

Please note that here, the word "church" has a lower case “c.”  Back in those days, it appeared that, if you were a "lay" church member, you were "down there"; but if you were a Worldwide Church of God minister, you were "up there."  Continuing in the quote:

Fortunately, the Hebrew calendar requires surprisingly little mathematical sophistication.  A fifth grade background in arithmetic will suffice!"

Fifth grade?  Is this true what he wrote here?  The answer is Yes!… and No!

Dr. Hoeh’s last words quoted here about the simplicity of the calculation of the Calendar are actually true – or at least, they should be true if it’s done right!  It should not be complicated.  God is not trying to trick His people.  He is not trying to confuse us; nor is He trying to make us fail.  It is important to remember this as we continue.

But Dr. Hoeh’s words are certainly not true when applied to the CRC, as his quote implies.  He was trying to say that the way that they were keeping it is easy to calculate.  I can tell you with absolute confidence that the CRC is not simple to calculate.  It is not fifth grade stuff.  I can say this with absolute confidence because I recently downloaded the “Hebrew Calendar” article from Wikipedia (a well-known on-line encyclopedia), which was obviously written by an expert on the subject (probably Jewish).  There can be little doubt about that.  Here is a link to that article:

This article is intended to be relatively simple.  It gives an overview – the very basics – of the CRC.  Most of the CRC’s more complex timings and postponement rules are not included in it.  Still, that so-called “simple” article, when printed out even in a small font size, is thirty pages of heavy, confusing reading – plus another seventeen pages of footnotes and links to other explanatory web-pages and sites!  Even with all that verbiage, it leaves out a lot of the more important information (e.g. the details of the Jews’ backward count from their beginning of their seventh month in order to determine their beginning of their first month. (And yes, I purposely put the accent on my repetition of the word “their”). 

But once what we believe to be the proper methods are employed, the Sacred Calendar really does become amazingly simple.

So please let me repeat that I respectfully urge any of you who are still adhering to the CRC to research it for yourself. 

Once we have questioned and rejected the veracity of the CRC, we are faced with a huge problem: What do we replace it with?  What is the correct alternative? 

This question is a big sticking point for many brethren – including many ministers.  It deters many from even getting started on honestly researching into it.  Because the answers to some of these questions may initially be somewhat unclear and may take some time and effort to uncover, many shy away from looking into it altogether.  I know, because Trish and I have been there; and not so long ago!  Again, I am not putting a guilt trip on anyone who, for their own reasons, decides to stay with the CRC; and I am not trying to appear to be "holier-than-thou."  I know that it takes time, deep thought, study and effort.

But I know also that shying away from the problem is not the answer!  If you know that something is wrong, then it is a sin to continue in it:

James 1:
22:  But be you doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.
23:  For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass:
24:  For he beholds himself, and goes his way, and straightway forgets what manner of man he was.
25:  But whoso looks into the perfect law of liberty, and continues therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed.

The CRC, the postponements and other rules: are they part of “the perfect law of liberty” which God, through James, tells us here that we are to continue in?  Or are they man-made additions, rules and traditions?  If you do a little research, you will find out the answers to these questions pretty quickly.

God promises here that, if we are willing to look into and study into His perfect law of liberty, and if we are willing to act upon it, He will bless us for doing so.  Even if we don’t have all the answers.  Even if one family may be doing it one way and another family might be doing it another way, because that is the way that they sincerely understand it to be, He will bless us because we are not just going along blindly following the word of a fellow human being. 

Rather, we need to dig into God’s Word, as well as digging into a little history, and even into a little in the way of basic astronomy.  If we do this, God will bless us, again, even if we don’t have all the answers.  And I don’t claim to have all of the answers.  But right now, as we get closer to the beginning of another Holy Day season, we really do need to be making some decisions.

Still in the book of James, let’s pick up one verse in chapter 4:

James 4:17: 
Therefore to him that knows to do good, and does it not, to him it is sin.

Was this not one of the very first lessons that we all learned when we first came in contact with God’s church; when we first learned about the Sabbath, clean and unclean meats, etc.?  We learned that repentance was necessary; that we needed to change from the things that we previously thought were acceptable to God, but then discovered to be wrong – sin.  It is the same with this issue.

Not that making those changes is easy.  It isn’t.  It’s tough!  We all know that swimming upstream against the tide and flow of "the world" is tough enough.  But swimming upstream against the tide and flow of the majority opinion of the greater Church of God is something else again!  It is more difficult by another order of magnitude!

For the New Moon part of this sermon I am going to concentrate mainly on the three main alternatives to the CRC’s methods of doing it.  If anyone wants more details on the CRC’s version of it, you are welcome to contact me again.  Again, I don’t claim to have all the answers and, just like everybody else, I have my own opinion of what I believe to be the truth.  And, to a great extent, that is what this is all about. 

Also, please keep in mind that these three alternatives that I am going to give you can be further divided into other differences of opinion – for example, whether the timing should be determined from Jerusalem (as we believe) or from one’s own home location (which can result in much unnecessary confusion). 

Option 1: The First Visual Sighting

I have not researched any numbers on this; but from what I have read and heard, this appears to be the most widely accepted alternate option amongst those who have come to reject the CRC.

Some of the proponents of the first visual sighting will say that their method was the one that was given to Moses by God and was used by Moses and others throughout the Bible.  Some of them also say that their method is based on the light of the moon, whereas the "Conjunction methods" are based on the dark of the moon.  With all due respect to the brethren who use this method, I do not believe that the scriptures back up either of these views.

In addition to my disagreements with these two claims I have some other problems with the First Visual Sighting option.  And again, I say this with all due respect for those who choose this method:

a)  What if the weather is foggy or cloudy on the sighting nights so that the new crescent cannot be seen?

b)  What if it’s foggy or cloudy on multiple sighting nights or in multiple months?  That could cause a problem.

c)  Saul, David, Jonathan, the Shunammite woman and even her unbelieving husband all confidently knew in advance when the New Moon Day was due (I Samuel 20:5, 18, 24; II Kings 4:22-23).  There is no record of any of them (nor of anyone else in the Bible) saying, “If the New Moon comes” or “If we sight the first crescent.”

d)  There is no reliable, universally-accepted “official” sighting authority.  This can result in major differences of opinion as to whether or not the first crescent was actually sighted.  Last March when I was first researching this part of my study, it was reported that there were some people who said that the new crescent had been sighted on a certain day; but there were other people who said that is had not been sighted.  Unpleasant arguments resulted. 

e)  Using sighting methods, the span of time from the sighting of the new crescent to the time of the full moon might only be thirteen days; and from the time of the full moon to the sighting of the next new crescent might be as much as seventeen days.  As well as being odd and unbalanced, this would throw off the timing of the full moon from falling on the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread and the first day of the Feast of Tabernacles (Psalm 81:3).

f)  Until the invention of the electric telegraph approximately two hundred years ago, there was no reliable way of informing Holy Day keepers who were at all distant from Jerusalem.

Option 2: The Roman Calendar Conjunction Day

I do not believe that there are many people who adhere to this option.

I received an e-mail last year from an old church friend who keeps the CRC.  He asked me, "What is so difficult?  All you have to do is look at your wall calendar and you know when the New Moon Day is.

It is true that many regular "Roman" calendars that we can commonly purchase on regular stores show the four monthly moon phases – represented by a white circle for the full moon, a black circle for the new moon (lunar conjunction), and semi-circles for each of the quarter-moon phases.  

From what I understand, the proponents of this method simply take their Roman calendar down off the wall, find the black circle which merely indicates that the conjunction occurs some time (this could be any time from midnight to midnight) on that particular day.  They choose that day as their New Moon Day.

But how does one know which country the calendar was printed in and, therefore, which country's source of data was used.  The Black Circle (Conjunction) day in Europe might be one day different from that in North America.

By the way, as those Roman wall calendars rarely line up with the CRC data, I'm sure that my friend continues to consult his little, white CoG cards.

But for those who really do prefer this option, its main problems are these:

  1. If the Lunar Conjunction occurs before sunset, but late in the day, then most of that day would be under the "old moon," not the new one. 

  2. If the Lunar Conjunction occurs after sunset on that same Roman calendar day, according to the scriptural counting of days (sunset-to-sunset), the Conjunction would actually occur on the following day. 

    For example, if the Roman calendar shows the Conjunction occurring at 7:00pm on Monday February 12th, but the sunset for that day is 5:30pm, then according to God’s timing of days, that Conjunction falls on the 3rd biblical day of the week (Monday/Tuesday); not the second day of the week (Sunday/Monday) as would be chosen by the proponents of this option. 

Option 3: The Sunset after the Conjunction

Right now, at this time, this is the option that we believe to be the most convincing – scripturally, historically, scientifically, and astronomically.  However, we are praying about it constantly.  I hope you are too.  If God reveals to us that a different method is correct, we will gladly be willing to change.

One of the great things about this method is that it really is very simple.  Briefly stated: 

The New Moon Day begins at the first local sunset following the time of the Lunar Conjunction at Jerusalem.

The sunset and conjunction times are easy to find, both for Jerusalem and one's local area.  We use the simple-to-use web-site at; but there are lots of other similar websites that give the same information.  Some sites may be a couple of minutes different from others; but not so much that they would cause an error in which days are to be kept.

Some detractors of this method feel that the Conjunction options are based on the dark of the moon and that the dark of the moon is somehow a bad thing.

We totally agree that spiritual darkness certainly is a bad thing.  But all physical darkness (the kind we are talking about here) is not necessarily bad or evil.  At the instant of the Lunar Conjunction, the moon is dark for a mere few seconds – if that!  However, God created the laws of physical darkness just as much as He created those for physical light:

Genesis 1:
4:  And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness.
5:  And God called the light Day, and the darkness He called Night.  And the evening and the morning were the first day…
17:  And God set them
(sun, moon and stars) in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth, 
18:  And to rule over the day and over the night, and to divide the light from the darkness: and God saw that it was good...
31:  And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good. And the evening and the morning were the sixth day.

Not only the physical light is very good; but the physical darkness is very good, as well.  God did not create evil!  If God had wanted to have twenty-four hours of light for the whole world, He would have made it that way.  But just as much as He created daytime and light for mankind’s benefit, so also He made nighttime and darkness for mankind’s benefit.

Yes, there are scriptures that tell us that spiritual darkness is a bad thing, but none of them allude to the physical dark of the moon:

Romans 13:
11:  And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed.
12:  The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light.
13:  Let us walk honestly, as in the day; not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying.

I Thessalonians 5:
6:  Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober.
7:  For they that sleep sleep in the night; and they that be drunken are drunken in the night.
8:  But let us, who are of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for an helmet, the hope of salvation.

When we look into these scriptures, we see that God is telling us through Paul that He condemns spiritual nighttime and spiritual sleep, along with spiritual darkness.  So, as we must be fair and logical, the question arises: “Do those who claim that the physical dark of the moon is a bad or evil also claim that nighttime and sleep are bad or evil things?  

Also, it is important to remember that, at the time of the lunar conjunction, the moon is only totally dark for a very short time – perhaps only seconds  – perhaps not even that!  If you want to prove this for yourself, check out the astonishing high resolution photographs of the moon at the instant of conjunction, taken just last year (2014) by French photographer, Thierry Legault.  These amazing photographs show that at the very split second after conjunction, the brand new crescent appears to the right hand side of the lunar orb. 

When I say that this is "our" method, I didn’t just sit down one day and say, "I think this is the best one."  Nor did I just copy it from somebody else.  Once we proved to ourselves that the Hebrew Calendar is filled with errors, a group of us sat down, looked at the alternative options, brainstormed it and thrashed it out between ourselves. 

What we call “our” method happens to agree with Frank Nelte’s methods.  Frank has a very good web-site, replete with many fine articles on this topic:  We first met him back in the 1990's.  One of the great things about Frank is that, amongst all of the people I know who have looked into this, Frank is the one who has been doing it for the longest.  Not that that really matters in every circumstance, of course; but he has so much experience on it and looks at it so very logically.  

But we didn’t go into Frank's web-site first; neither did we copy everything from him.  With much prayer, deep study and research, we sat down and asked ourselves, "What is logical?  What is scriptural?  What is historically, astronomically and scientifically true?"  And this is the method that we sincerely believe to be the best, the most accurate and the most logical. 

Also on the positive side, in favour of what we call “our” method, if we use this method, the full moons for the First Day of Unleavened Bread and the first day of the Feast of Tabernacles will always fall on the 15th of the first and seventh months, as they logically should.  This line-up with the full moons might fit in with Psalm 81:3.  We covered this in Part 4; but let’s just mention it again.  The King James Version reads as follows:

Psalms 81:3: 
Blow up the trumpet in the new moon, in the time appointed, on our solemn feast day.

But at least thirteen more modern translations, including the New King James Version, give this idea:

Psalms 81:3: 
Blow the trumpet at the time of the New Moon, at the full moon, on our solemn feast day.

The Hebrew word for “in the time appointed” (King James Version) and “at the full moon” (New King James Version) is kehseh (Strong’s 3677), which appears only twice in the scriptures; once here and once in Proverbs 7:20 where the NKJV agrees with the KJV for its translation as “on the appointed day.”  Still, Strong does agree that “full moon” is a valid translation of the word. 

Kehseh is apparently derived from the primitive root verb kacah (Strong’s 3680) which is translated elsewhere in the scriptures as cover, hide, conceal, covering, overwhelmed, spread over, clad, closed and clothed.  Some Bible translations refer to it as the covered moon; but that is hard for most of us to get our heads around.  It is difficult to use this verse to dogmatically prove the point on either side because, from these translations of kacah, we could argue in favour of either side, depending on whether the moon is clothed or covered with light (full moon) or darkness (new moon).  But again, Strong does state that the full moon definitely is a valid translation of “kehseh.” 

So they are some different ideas of how the New Moon should be determined.  So now, let's ask:

How Should the New Year be Determined?

Again, I am not going to get into the various options too deeply because I went into their details in the earlier parts of this series.  But we will skim over them and just give them a brief mention.

Option 1: The CRC Method

It is my understanding that the majority of the Church of God groups do not actually go into the detailed calculations, as the Jews do.  Rather, they go to the Jewish calendars, find out the Jews' timings from them, plagiarize them and modify them according to their own individual Passover, Wave Sheaf Offering and Pentecost teachings.

This is this method used by the Jews’ as emulated by the mainstream Church of God groups:

They start with the day that they believe to be the first day of the seventh month (i.e. Ethanim/Tishri 1); then they count backward 177 days to calculate the first day of the first month (i.e. Abib/Nisan 1)

By the way, when I say "the Jews," I am not being anti-Semitic.  Not at all!  I love the Jews.  They are our brothers and sisters of the tribe of Judah. I am talking about the Jews generally in this context; but I know that there are different sects of the Jews, some of whom are probably more accurate in their calendar methods and more willing to do it the way that God wants it done.

There are a couple of problems with the CRC method.  The main problem that I see with it is that it totally disobeys God’s clear command in:

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

We can be sure which month the LORD is referring to here by reading the verses that follow which contain His instructions for the timing of the Passover and Feast of Unleavened Bread, as well as from the four "Abib verses" in Exodus and Deuteronomy.  Also from the Holy Day and Wave Sheaf Offering instructions in Leviticus 23.  We know which month that first month was – Abib; and we know that it was in the springtime of the year.

In effect, the Rabbinic Jews and their Church of God followers disobey this command by beginning their year in the autumn and counting back 177 days to determine their New Year’s Day.

The second problem with this way of doing it (and I don’t have time to go into all the detail) is that the Jews' timing of the first day of the seventh month is sometimes in error. 

Thirdly, the difference between the first and seventh lunar conjunctions is not always 177 days.  Sometimes it is 176 days and sometimes it is 178 days.  So if they sometimes start their year from the wrong day and if they sometimes count backwards with the wrong number of days, then the whole calendar is bound to be off.

Option 2:  The Barley Method

The two bases of this option are:

1. The Old Testament requirement for the availability of the firstfruits of some grain crop to be ready for its reaping for the Wave Sheaf Offering on the day (Sunday) after the Sabbath that falls within the Feast of Unleavened Bread, per  Leviticus 23:9-14.

2. The erroneously perceived meaning of the Hebrew word ‘Abib’ (Strong’s 24), which was derived from a root word meaning “to be tender”  and is rendered six times untranslated as "Abib," once as "in the ear" and once as "green ears of corn."  

I am not adversely criticizing these basic facts.  However, I feel that they constitute only a merely secondary indication of the season when the New Year New Moon should be. 

As we discussed in some detail in Part 5, this Barley Method is a very hit-and-miss one – especially because the growing seasons can be so unpredictable.  

In a letter confirming this unpredictability of the growing seasons in Israel, Mr. N. Bardroma, Director of the Field Crops Department of the modern State of Israel’s Ministry of Agriculture –  an expert on field crops, wrote that normally:

The {barley} harvest starts around the end of April, to the beginning of May...

But that in that particular year of his writing:

We have had an extremely cold and wet winter and therefore there was a great delay in the ripening of the wheat and barley…

It is interesting that he mentions the ripening of the two grain crops together – the wheat and the barley.

This year the first wheat and barley have been harvested not before the middle of May in the Jordan Valley.

Would a mid-May harvest of the firstfruits and mid-May Wave Sheaf Offering have been acceptable to the Jews and to the mainstream Church of God?  I am unable to answer for either group.

Mr. Bardroma also points out that:

In the Talmud it is mentioned that there were years were the barley was not yet ripe at Passover.

Could the Jews’ timings have been off in those particular years?  Having been put together between approximately 200 and 500 AD, the Talmud is not necessary referring to Bible times; but more likely to later times.

Again, how would a mid-May harvest of the firstfruits affect the timing of the Wave Sheaf Offering and the Feast of Unleavened Bread?  

It would push them, the New Years Day and all the subsequent Holy Days back really late.  Would that be have been acceptable? 

But God in His holy Word commands nothing with regards to the timing of His calendar and Holy Days by the state of the barley crop.  Barley is not even mentioned in Leviticus 23, nor in any other scripture that refers to the Wave Sheaf Offering.

What did He command His people to use for their determination of the times and the seasons? 

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:

He commanded this to be done by the actions of the sun, the moon and the stars. 

We have already seen that the new Moon indicates the beginning of each month. So which “light in the firmament of heaven” determines the beginning of the year?

What else, but the sun?

But how?  And when?  At the winter solstice, as the heathen believed (and still do!)?  Of course not!  The Wave Sheaf Offering scriptures and other scriptures clearly show us that God’s New Year begins in the fruitful springtime of the year – not in the dead of winter – not during the season of Satan's counterfeit "holy" days!

We know that the Wave Sheaf Offering and Passover season are both in the spring.  So what major solar event announces the arrival of spring?  The Vernal Equinox!  Some insist that the Vernal Equinox is not specifically mentioned by name in the Bible.  True; but God says that we are to use the heavenly bodies and their movements to determine the seasons – which would certainly include the year's beginning.

So then, what possibilities do we have for the timing of God’s New Year by the Vernal Equinox?  There are at least three:

Option 3: The Closest New Moon to Vernal Equinox

The supporters of this option believe that the closest New Moon to the Vernal Equinox – whether it falls before or after the Equinox – is the New Year New Moon.

The main problem that I see with this option is that, if the New Year is counted from the New Moon before the Equinox, all the time from that New Moon to the Equinox is not in the fertile season of spring; but is still in the relatively dead season of winter. 

Also, the further the closest New Moon is before the Equinox, the more time is still in the winter… up to a maximum of approximately 14.75 days that would still be in the winter season.

By the way, some have pointed out that we occasionally have good weather and nice days before the Vernal Equinox.  That is true.  Here in western Canada and in the Pacific Northwest of the United States, we occasionally experience temporary, unseasonably warm, dry periods due to the effect of "Chinook" and "Pineapple Express" winds from the relatively warm Pacific Ocean.

But these are only occasional and temporary.  The Vernal Equinox is what really does make the big and more permanent difference.  In Israel, even more so than here in western Canada, the temperatures increase and the rainfall decreases markedly right after the Vernal Equinox.  

Option 4:  Counting Backwards from the Passover that follows the Vernal Equinox

The supporters of this option feel that, if the fourteenth day of the month (i.e. Passover Day) follows the Vernal Equinox, the first day of that month should be considered the New Year Day – even if the first day of that month precedes the Vernal Equinox.  (This option is sometimes incorporated with Options 1 and 3). 

But this option can leave as many as thirteen days of the first month in the winter season.  

Option 5:  The First New Moon following First Conjunction following the Vernal Equinox

This is the one that we believe to be the correct one and, just like "our" New Moon calculation, the timing of our New Year calculation is very simple.

To give it its full description:  the New Years Day begins at the first sunset following the first Lunar Conjunction following the Vernal Equinox. 

The dates and times of these solar and lunar events are easy for us to find, especially now on the Internet.  However, with God's help, our ancient Israelite forefathers had the ability to calculate them too.

First, we find out the date and time of the Vernal Equinox (Jerusalem Time).  Next, we find the date and time of the next Lunar Conjunction after the Vernal Equinox.  Next, we find the date and time of the first sunset following that Conjunction.  That sunset begins the New Year New Moon day.

This is initially calculated using Jerusalem times. We look up the dates and times for Jerusalem to determine the correct day; but then, we keep that whole day at our own location.  Here on the North American West Coast, we are ten hours behind Jerusalem. So we determine the New Year New Moon Day in Jerusalem; then we keep it on the same day – from sunset to sunset locally.  Actual dates for 2015 are listed below.

We have developed some diagrams that show very clearly how this works for this year (2015).  See

The use of this option will prevent the New Year from ever occurring in the winter – i.e. prior to the Vernal Equinox.  In Old Testament times when they were keeping the Wave Sheaf Offering, this method would have produced the appropriate weather conditions for the correct ripeness of grain (whether barley, flax, wheat or rye) in time for the Wave Sheaf Offering.  This would be more agriculturally reliable than the other options that force the New Year’s Day to be before the Equinox, and thus still in the winter.

Also, the use of this option avoids the necessity for the advance pre-calculation of the Jews' unnecessarily complex Nineteen Year Time Cycles.  Yes, in some years (including the 2014/2015 one), Intercalary Months will be necessary in order to align the lunar and solar years.  But when this method is used, those Intercalary Months fall in line naturally and do not need to be generated or calculated artificially. 

Of course, there are brethren who have problems with this method (Option 5), and for various reasons.  For example, some of the detractors of this method claim that the ancients did not have access to such accurate data as we have today.  

Just recently, I read an article about the Vernal Equinox and the "tequwphah" on the " Karaite Korner" web-site.  Its author stated:

It is doubtful whether the ancient Israelites even knew of the equinox, and they certainly had no way of calculating when it would be.

I strongly, vociferously beg to differ on this statement.  After the Feast last year (2014), Trish and I visited an astonishing Neolithic site in Ireland's Boyne River Valley just north of Dublin called in the Irish tonge: Brú na Bóinne (Palace/Mansion of the Boyne), which is spread over a couple of square miles area.  This truly amazing prehistoric site contains three huge, complex, brilliantly designed, brilliantly engineered, brilliantly constructed and brilliantly decorated buildings that are more than 5,000 years old!

One of the three buildings (the one that we went into) is called Sí in Bhrú (Mound of the Palace/Mansion); but its better-known English name is Newgrange.   The amazing thing about it is that the whole building was designed and built so that it – and especially its main entry passage way – lines up perfectly with the rising sun on the winter solstice. 


The second of the three main buildings is called Knowth (Irish Cnoghbha)It perfectly lines us with the sun on the Vernal Equinox.  

The third building, Dowth in English (Irish Dubhadh) has not yet been fully unearthed; but I am quite sure that its archeologists will find something astronomically special about it once they have completed its excavation.

The designers and builders of these structures were not working with pieces of plastic or paper to line these things up so perfectly.  These guys were using absolutely huge blocks of stone – the estimated weight of which totals approximately 200,000 tons!

The 5,000 year old Irishmen who built these structures were pre-Israelitish.  Actually pre-Noah!  Still, if this ancient people had the ability to compile such finely accurate astronomical data in order to engineer and build these huge buildings to line up so perfectly with the sun's major annual events of the Solstices and Equinoxes, I have no doubt at all that the Israelites could do so, as well.  And even more particularly with God’s special guidance, perhaps similar to the talent with which He imbued Bezaleel and Aholiab for the building of His Tent Tabernacle (Exodus chapters 31, 35, 36,37, 38).

I believe that God didn’t leave the Israelites in the dark (if you'll excuse the pun).  Rather, I believe that He would have explained these things to them and would have given them all the necessary information as part of what we call "the Oracles of God."  I believe that they did know how to calculate these things, and they were given the mathematical and astronomical information that they needed to be able to do it on an ongoing basis.

What does this mean for 2015?

What does all this mean now in 2015?  What does this mean for the Holy Days this year?

I would like to compare “our” New Moon and New Year methods and dates with the usual CRC/Church of God timings.

If we look at any 2015 “Holy Day Calendar" put out by most Church of God groups (most of them plagiarized from the Jews’ postponement-based CRC), we might notice that their “First Day of the Sacred Year” is shown as March 20/21 (I am giving you the two dates that span from sunset-to-sunset). 

Let’s take a closer look at Jerusalem at that time:

The Vernal Equinox will occur, in Jerusalem, on March 21st at 12:45am (some tables show 1:02am).

The closest Lunar Conjunction to the Equinox will occur on March 20th at 11:37am – which is more than 13 hours before the Vernal Equinox and thus is still in the winter season.  Not the spring!

The sunset that begins that New Moon Day falls on March 20th at 5:50pm.  This is closer; but is still 7 hours before the Vernal Equinox – 7 hours before the beginning of spring, and thus still in the winter season. 

Some people may howl, "Hey!  Loosen up guys!  It’s only thirteen hours or seven hours."  Some may accuse us of "Pharisaical nit-picking" 

But the movements of the sun, moon and stars are precise!  God is precise!  His Word is precise!  His calendar is precise!  It has to be.  If it isn't precise, then confusion reigns – as we see with the complex CRC rules!   

Should we be less precise with God's Calendar and Holy Days than we are with His weekly Sabbaths?  A person could say, "It really isn't convenient in the winter time for me to finish work at 4:20pm.  God will understand if I have to work until 5:00pm."  

Similarly, would God be happy with us if said that we were going out shopping at 3:30pm next Sabbath?  Of course He wouldn't!  There can be no argument with God’s timing, whether it be with His Sabbath, with His Holy Days, or with His Calendar.  

We are not nit-picking!  But once we have prayerfully researched, proved and settled on what we sincerely believe to be His rules, then we must strictly adhere to them.  That is, of course, unless and until He clearly shows us that His true method is different to the one we have previously believed to be correct.

So, we believe that, rather than ushering in the New Year’s Day of the 2015/2016 sacred year, the March 20th New Moon actually ushers in the 13th (Intercalary) month of the 2014/2015 sacred year.

Here is what we believe to be the correct timing of the New Year’s Day of the 2015 Sacred Year, again, timed at Jerusalem:

In conclusion, may I repeat a few important points:

Firstly, if you have not looked into this very important issue, please take the time to do so. 

Secondly, in the spirit of Colossians 2:16 and its converse, please let us not fall out over any of this.  

If you choose to stay with the CRC methods and timing, please go ahead and do so.  We are not going to judge you; and we ask you not to judge us on our beliefs.  We are your brothers and sisters. 

If you have rejected the CRC methods; but have chosen any of the other New Moon and/or New Year determination methods than "ours" and if you disagree with us on any of these points:  Please! We still want to be your spiritual brothers and sisters. 

Do you have physical brothers and sisters with whom you don’t agree on everything?  I do!  And don’t you still love them?  I love my sister.  But we have God’s Holy Spirit dwelling in us.  That being the case, shouldn’t we be able to do the same?  

Or rather, shouldn’t we be able to do even better?