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114: COGWA Doctrinal Committee Response to The Biblical Calendar Paper

 

 

CHURCH of GOD

A WORLDWIDE ASSOCIATION, INC.

P.O. Box  1009

Allen, TX 75013-0017

November 12, 2014

Dear Mr. Henderson

Your paper is based on a flawed premise and incorrect interpretation of Scripture (Genesis 1:14; Psalm 104:19).  Genesis 1:14 states that the “lights” (sun and moon) are to be used as “signs for seasons, and for days and years.”   Your assertion that “clearly, according to  Scripture we are to use the light of the heavenly bodies to keep time and determine God’s holy festivals” is an interpretation with which we cannot agree. Neither verse says or implies that a month must begin with the light of a new crescent moon.  Both verses simply identify the moon (and sun) as a method for laying out the months of the year. 

This is a false statement.  Gen 1 is not some vague reference to the moon as they try to imply; we are told very specifically to use the LIGHT of the moon, and the clear implication to BEGIN the month with the LIGHT, this strongly implies using the BEGINNING of the LIGHT to BEGIN the month.  Moses and the Scribes understood this and BEGAN the months with the first LIGHT of the moon.  Jesus Christ confirmed this by his keeping of the Festivals by the Mosaic Calendar.  The Rabbinic molads of darkness were not fully accepted until Moses Maimonides in the 12th century. 

 

  • Your paper is based on a flawed premise and incorrect interpretation of Scripture (Genesis 1:14; Psalm 104:19). Genesis 1:14 states that the “lights” (sun and moon) are to be used as “signs for seasons, and for days and years.”   Your assertion that “clearly, according to Scripture we are to use the light of the heavenly bodies to keep time and determine God’s holy festivals” is an interpretation with which we cannot agree. Neither verse says or implies that a month must begin with the light of a new crescent moon. Both verses simply identify the moon (and sun) as a method for laying out the months of the year.

False again;  The scripture plainly says to use the LIGHT; which is an ordinance or instruction from God.

The Scriptural command to sight the new moon:

Deut 16:1 “Observe the month of Abib, and keep the passover unto the Lord thy God: for in the month of Abib the Lord thy God brought thee forth out of Egypt by night.”

Contained within the first phrase of Deut 16:1 is in fact a command to sight the first visible crescent of the moon. This command becomes clear when looking at the original Hebrew. Each Hebrew word from the phrase “Observe the month of Abib”, illustrates a distinct command which requires no personal interpretation to see. The Hebrew words interpret themselves.

“Observe H8104 (H853) the month H2320 of Abib H24….” [KJV w/ Strong’s]

A.“Observe”: Heb – “shâmar” H8104 (H853)

H8104 A primitive root; properly to hedge about (as with thorns), that is, guard; generally to protect, attend to, etc.: – beware, be circumspect, take heed (to self), keep (-er, self), mark, look narrowly, observe, preserve, regard, reserve, save (self), sure, (that lay) wait (for), watch (-man). [Strong’s]

H853 – “’êth” Apparently contracted from H226 in the demonstrative sense of entity; properly self (but generally used to point out more definitely the object of a verb or preposition, even or namely): – (As such unrepresented in English.) [Strong’s]

H226 – “’ôth” Probably from H225 (in the sense of appearing); a signal (literally or figuratively), as a flag, beacon, monument, omen, prodigy, evidence, etc.: – mark, miracle, (en-) sign, token. [Stong’s]

B.“the month”: Heb – “chôdesh” H2320

H2320 – From H2318; the new moon; by implication a month: – month (-ly), new moon. [Strong’s]

C.“Abib” – Heb “’âbı̂yb” H24

H24 From an unused root (meaning to be tender); green, that is a young ear of grain; hence the name of the month Abib or Nisan: – Abib, ear, green ears of corn. [Strong’s]

Please note that “’ôth” is used in Gen 1:14, and is translated “signs”, specifically the lights in the heavens are to be for “signs”. *Is it mere coincidence this word is found in two separate commands pertaining to the moon and its use for appointed times?*

Compare Deut 16:1 using the Hebrew above with the original KJV:

Original KJV: “Observe H8104 (H853) the month H2320 of Abib H24….” [w/ Strong’s]

Hebrew: “Shâmar (êth/’ôth) chôdesh âbı̂yb…”

Direct literal Hebrew to English translation:

“Look narrowly, wait (for), Watch, observe (specifically in the sense of appearing), for a Signal (literally), the new moon of Abib.”

And simplified:

“Look and watch for the appearing of the new moon of abib.”

  • You state that the purpose of your paper is to turn God’s people “back to his commanded precepts.” The Hebrew word “precept” means an ordinance or command. There is no biblical ordinance or command that we are to look for the visible crescent of a new moon to declare the beginning of a month. In fact, Scripture does not explain how the new moon should be determined.  The scripture clearly says to use the LIGHT to establish the months, and this was done by Moses and Israel right up to Moses Maimonides in 1178 AD by most Jews.  To deny the LIGHT to begin the months is to deny the scriptures, Moses and Jesus Christ; who accepted and lived by  this system without comment.

 

  • There is abundant historical evidence that the calendar was not determined by observation alone. If it had been, there would have been no need for the development of the rules by the calendar committee of the Sanhedrin.   For that matter, if the calendar were so simple, there would have been no need for a “calendar committee.” Clearly calculations were also used to determine the calendar.  [The same old straw man false “calculation vs. observation:” argument again.  This issue has never been calculation vs. observation.  The issue is on what basis calculations are to be made; the LIGHT as God commanded,  or the Rabbinic darkness of conjunctions. 
  • The job of the Mosaic Sanhedrin Calendar Committee was to examine witnesses and make a declaration based on that examination, and to intercalate the years based on scriptural criteria; period.  It was not until the fourth century ad that Hillel 2 and the Hellenic Rabbins were able to take over the Sanhedrin and attempt to change from the scriptures to the darkness of conjunctions, and even then they struggled over the matter with the scribes for a thousand years.]

 

  • Observation was certainly used to determine the beginning of a month in certain time periods, but there is no biblical imperative that it be the only means for establishing a calendar. While observation was used during the Second Temple period, history is inconclusive when it comes to exactly how the calendar was established during that time frame and there is no historical evidence for how the calendar was determined during the time of the first temple. [The above statement is absolutely false: and now they confuse the calculations based on the LIGHT, and the calculation change to base it on the darkness by the modern Rabbins.]   There is much historical evidence that a calendar based on observation was never the only means used (i.e. , the calendar was also calculated to verify the observation.  [Of course the Mosaic Calendar based on the LIGHT could be calculated, and so can the modern Rabbinic apostate from Moses calendar be calculated.  That is NOT the issue; the issue is on what basis the calculations are made:  The LIGHT as God commanded and Moses and Christ followed; or the darkness of conjunctions of darkness in rebellion against God?]

 

  • The Karaites whom you cite as the standard for an observed calendar, claim that they begin each month with the observation of the new moon in Jerusalem. They claim that the Hebrew Calendar is flawed for using calculations, however, they calculate the new moon so they can publish the dates for the festivals years in advance.  [Precisely, the LIGHT commanded by God could always be calculated and then confirmed by observation.  AGAIN, I repeat; the issue is not calculation; but whether we are to obey God and calculate based on the LIGHT; or whether we are to deny God and obey idols of men contrary to scripture with their darkness of conjunctions calendar.] 

 

* There is no evidence that two or three witnesses are necessary for the observation of the crescent moon.  Scriptures about witnesses do not apply to the calendar—they have to do either with criminal or sinful behavior or witnessing that Jesus is the Son of God. To insist that these passages mean there must be two or three witnesses to the beginning of a month is contrived. As well, according to some sources, calculations were used to verify the reports of witnesses before they came to the court of the temple. [This is a denial of the scriptures and history.  The scriptures teach that ALL things must be established by two or three witnesses; the commanded LIGHT to begin the month is foundational to ALL of the Holy Day, Festival and Appointed Times dates!  It is also an Appointed Time on which to gather to worship God himself!   It is a vital issue and of course such a vital issue would require the commanded two or three witnesses. 

Yes simple calculations were used; for example if an enemy sent several false witnesses to claim to have seen the moon several days before it was possible to be seen, they would be disregarded.  The calculations were based on the fact that the moon’s course is 29 1/2 days so that no month can be less that 29 or more than thirty days.  This is simple and nowhere near the confused complexity of the average time between conjunctions and the postponements needed by the  Rabbinic calendar.

* Early in your paper you point out that “God in not the author of confusion.” But if what you suggest to be the biblical calendar is so clear and simple, why is there so much confusion among those who reject the Hebrew calendar for determining holy day observance?  [Bear in mind that there are some teething troubles as we are just in the early process of restoring what has been lost for so many centuries. To throw out God’s Word because we are not yet perfect is foolishness.

There are some who use the spring equinox regardless of the state of the lambing and ripening barley.  If we stand on the scriptures there is no confusion, as it is essential to have lambs for Passover and ripe barley for the Wave Offering. 

My position is that it is on these essentials that we must depend, and not the equinox, however the equinox is a strong indication of when the barley will be ripening and when to look for it.  The question of setting the first month before or after the equinox should be decided by the lambing and the ripening barley; with the equinox only a general indicator and not a decisive point.]  Those who follow alternate calendars often observe the annual festivals on different days. Which calendar, among all those that have been put forward, should be chosen and who has the authority to decide?  The fact is, we already have a valid calendar.  [What you follow is the exact opposite of the scriptures, and is NOT valid in the eyes of Almighty God.]  The only harmony and unity found among those who observe the annual holy days is among those who have accepted the (calculated) Hebrew calendar.  [Yes, if you regard organizational unity contrary to God’s Word as desirable.  However if you want unity with God; you must keep the Word of God; and not the rebellious, opposite of scripture, false teachings of Christ cursing idols of men.] 

* The complexity of a calculated calendar isn’t proof that it is not valid.   By establishing different cycles for the sun and moon, God built complexity into the calculation of months, seasons and years. There is no scriptural indication that the calendar is so simple that everyone could decide for himself when to observe the holy days.  No one is to decide for himself, not even the Rabbins (and you by following them) who are deciding for themselves with their false anti scriptural calendar.

Compare how God gave the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20; Deuteronomy 5) to how He gave instructions about the holy days. God spoke to all the people when He gave the commandments; and each individual was to be responsible to understand, apply and obey them.  But when He listed the holy days, the Lord told Moses to “proclaim” these days. The Hebrew word translated “proclaim” means to call out, to summon, to invite.  Moses (representing the spiritual leadership of the nation) was to proclaim when the festivals were to be observed so that the people could be called together for a holy convocation on the day of observance.  [Later when the priests rebelled, did individuals not have the right to refuse to follow their errors to remain faithful to God?  What did Peter say to the Jewish authorities? ] It was not left to individuals to understand the working of the calendar and determine for themselves when to observe the annual festivals.  They were to be proclaimed, so there would be no confusion of fragmentation in worship.  [The true Word of God and the scriptural calendar based on the LIGHT are to be proclaimed by the leadership.  The leadership has no authority to depart from the truth to proclaim a false anti scriptural calendar based on darkness and not on the commanded LIGHT.   We are to PROVE ALL THINGS (and especially the called out of the New Covenant), by the standard of the whole Word of God.  You are forgetting that the Mosaic Covenant was a national Covenant; while the New Covenant is a personal and individual Covenant.  You want to come between the brethren and God in the Nicolaitane “Primacy of Peter” abomination, to exalt yourselves above the Word of God; else you would rejoice at this restoration and be quick to follow your LORD!]

In conclusion, we find that this paper is based primarily on opinions and personal interpretation of Scripture, and there is no conclusive evidence for rejecting the Hebrew calendar. 

The truth is that to change back to the scriptures would present no hardship and no inconvenience to you, the LIGHT calendar can be easily calculated. 

Your rejection of the scriptures to follow the apostate from Moses Rabbinic calendar is nothing other than a desire to reject the Word of God to follow idols of men, and to lead the brethren to follow yourselves above the Word of God.

If you wish to appeal the decision of the Doctrine Committee, you can request, through Mr. Welty, that the Ministerial Board of Directors review the paper and make a final determination.

      Sincerely,

      Don Henson,

      Chairman

      On behalf of the COGWA Doctrine Committee

      John Foster

      Bruce Gore

      Don Henson

      David Johnson

      Ralph Levy

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  1. {In conclusion, we find that this paper is based primarily on opinions and personal interpretation of Scripture, and there is no conclusive evidence for rejecting the Hebrew calendar.} For what I can see all the cog’s depend on their own opinions and personal interpretation of Scripture when God inteprets his own words.

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