A. An Introduction to the
Festivals of Messianic Israel
The Festivals of Yahweh or Moedim (Appointed Times) were given by the Most High, El Elyon, to be observed by those who love and reverence Him, for all time. They were not, as 'orthodox' Christians claim, abolished by the Messiah (Christ) but have been commanded until all things have been fulfilled at the end of the Millennium.
Yahweh's Biblical Calendar is entirely different from the Roman one used by most of the world, and it is impossible to calculate the Sabbaths and Annual Festivals using it. It is also different from the one used by both Judaism, Messianic Judaism and Evangelical Sabbatarians which is likewise based on the Roman one. Both have endless sequences of 7-day weeks and assume that the Sabbath is the 7th Roman day of the week, Saturday. Using the same Roman Calendar, Orthodox Christians observe the 1st Roman day of the week, Sunday. They are all wrong as we shall see in a moment.
Seven of these nine annual festivals described in the Bible were commanded in Torah by our Heavenly Father, Yahweh, Himself (Leviticus/Vayikra 23) and two (the winter festivals) were added by the Jews, without revelation or authority, to commemorate later historical events. These winter festivals are not therefore observed by Messianic Evangelicals though their historical background is taught.
The seven mandatory festivals (see Fig.1 below & B. Synopsis of the Weekly, Monthly & Annual Festivals) were observed by both Yah'shua the Messiah (Jesus Christ) and by His apostles. They are as much a part of the Messianic or 'New' Covenant as they were of the Mosaic or 'Old' Covenant, albeit without the former sacrifices which were fulfilled by Messiah. These seven annual festivals were given both so that people could understand the coming of the Messiah and the rôle that the Messiah would play in redeeming and restoring both man and the earth to Yahweh, our Heavenly Father, following the fall in Eden. The three autumn (fall) festivals have not as yet been fulfilled and await the physical return of Messiah to inaugurate the Millennium.
Fig.1 Life's Spiral
The Fourth Commandment requires that the people of Yahweh observe a weekly day of rest from ordinary work in order to assemble to worship Him. This is called the Sabbath Day, and was inaugurated on the seventh day of Creation to be observed by all mankind for ever. This weekly Shabbat is the foundation of Israelite life. Its observance both protects and inspires Yahweh's people and is based on two fundamental premises:
Together with the seven annual festivals, the Shabbat provides the physical and spiritual rhythm of Yahweh's people, defining their rest days and days of celebration and commemoration. They form the "way of life" of all true Bible-beliving Christians. Together with Rosh Chodesh or the monthly New Moon observance and the Sabbatical Year (one year in every seven to allow the land to rest) these make a total of 10 Moedim or Appointments when true, obedient believers are obliged to formally assemble in congregations of spiritual families to worship Yahweh.
- 1. That Yahweh created the world in six days rested on the seventh; and
- 2. That He intervened in history to take the Israelite people out of the bondage of slavery in Egypt.
Unlike the Roman calendar observed by the world, Yahweh's Biblical Calendar begins in the Spring, and not 1 January. The first day of this month - known as Aviv 1 - is calculated using the New Moon Conjunction and is itself a commanded observance known as Rosh Chodesh meaning 'Head (Start) of the Month'. It is not a day of rest like the Sabbath but very similar to it - you may travel and cook but not engage in commerce, and you are required to assemble with Yahweh's people on it to hear the words of the prophets. This first Rosh Chodesh is New Year's Day and begins, like all biblical days, at sunrise (not sunset or midnight). The eleven or twelve (if it is a leap year) months that follow it in the Biblical Year are each reckoned by observing the New Moon Conjunction.
Once the New Moon at Aviv 1 has been fixed (R in the diagram below), you can calculate the sabbaths for that month. The first week begins on Day #2 and the Sabbath Day is Day #8 (marked S in the diagram). Three more consecutive weeks of 7 days each follow so that there are a total of four 7-day weeks and therefore 4 Sabbaths each month. As the period of the moon around the earth is 29¼ days long, an extra Day #30 is added which, for want of a better term, we call 'New Moon Preparation Day' (marked P in the diagram). In early times, the moon's period was a round 30 days so that there were always exactly 30 days in a month. Accordingly, adjustments have to be made to accomodate orbital fraction. This is what a typical month looks like:
Fig.2 A Typical Biblical Month
The Annual Festivals can only be calculated using this system as this is how they are numbered in the Torah. Thus a typical year's calendar might look like this:
Fig.3 A Typical Biblical Year
Obviously this means that since groups of four monthly weeks are punctuated by Rosh Chodesh and occasionally a Preparation Day that the Sabbath day will be on a different Roman day each month. Thus in 2011-12, the monthly sabbaths were on Mondays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays, Sundays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays, Sundays, Tuesdays and Thursdays in the eastern United States. Therefore those who claim that the Sabbath is on a 'Roman Saturday or that the 'Lord's Day' is on Sunday cannot possibly be right.
Because of paganisation leading to apostacy - a departure from the truth took place and the sabbaths and festivals were either replaced by pagan festivals (like Christmas and the Roman Sunday Sabbath by apostate Christians) or were added to by the Talmudic Jews who rejected the Messiah and added lots of man-made festivals (like Tu b'Shevat, Yom haShoah, Lag b'Omer, etc.).
In this Assembly of Yahweh we follow neither the Christianised pagan traditions (Christmas, Easter, Lent, Halloween, etc.) nor acknowledge the accretions made by the Jews (still accepted by many Messianic Jews), nor do we follow the pagan Roman Calendar adhered to by nearly all Christians and Messianics, but we observe the simplicity of the biblical revelation.
Many of the directives given in Torah concerning the Festivals are no longer applicable in the Messianic New Covenant because they were filfilled in the death and resurrection of Yah'shua the Messiah (Jesus Christ). Thus neither the Mosaic animal sacrificial system and associated ceremonial Torah, nor the Levitical Priesthood that administered it, are any longer applicable, including circumcision. What were therefore prophetic pointers are now commemorations only as well as times for instruction and worship. For some idea as to how the festivals are celebrated by us, please see the essays, sermons and FAQ's on our Festivals Page.
The Biblical Luni-Solar Calendar (as it is called by us, though some called it the Solar-Lunar Calendar) enables you to calculate all Yahweh's moedim wherever you are and without the benefit of the internet should that not be available, and as it may not be available to believers in the future. You just need to know how to do it - this website will assist you in doing that. New Moon Conjunction can be calculated either by making observations or by using a dynamic calendar.
One other item concerning the marking of times needs to be mentioned and that is the man-made line of longitude - the International Date Line (IDL) - which runs through the Pacific Ocean. This is of recent invention (19th century) but plays no rôle in the determination of the sabbath day in the Creation Calendar which is calculated from the New Moon. It is believed by us and others that the Garden of Eden was originally where the modern Jerusalem is today, so the true divine IDL must be close to it, and specifically the eastern border of Israel marked by the River Jordan 31° east of Greenwich. However, this is not needed in calculations to create a soli-lunar creation calendar.
All the moedim, including the Sabbath, are observed from sunrise to sunrise, or at a fixed time like 0600 (6 a.m.) in extreme northerly or southerly sub-Arctic/sub-Antarctic and Arctic/Antarctic lattitues).
It should be clear, as we understand the Biblical Calendar, that the first day of each new month, as measured by the New Moon, is both set-apart to Yahweh and essential for calculating every moed commanded by Him. In the Old Covenant this was marked by special sacrifices (Num.28:11-15) over which twin silver trumpets were blown (Num.10:10; Ps.81:3) as on the Festival of Trumpets (Yom Teruah) which alone of the 7 annual festivals was observed on the New Moon. In the New Covenant as in the Old, both the New Moon and the regular Sabbath provided an opportunity to consult the prophets. It is so observed by Messianic Israelites.
This page was created on 25 November 1999
Last updated on 6 March 2012
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