Days and Equinoxes:
Is There a Connection?
In recent years, small numbers of God’s people have been abandoning the use of the modern Jewish calendar as the means of determining when to keep the Holy Days, in favor of using scripture alone to determine when we should assemble together and “keep” these special days. Long gone are the days when the Jewish Holy Days coincided with the scripturally mandated dates. Historic sources recount the significant changes that were made in the modern Jewish reckoning of these days. The Encyclopedia Judaica freely acknowledges the many alterations that were made in their calendar, particularly those changes made in the fourth century after Christ. Since the very people whose predecessors made the changes readily acknowledge the facts, one would think that the controversy would be readily resolved. The Jews could do anything that they want to do with their calendar and those of us using only the scriptures as our authority could simply do that.
There are several articles on this web site that explore this topic in detail. This article is intended to aid those people who have already made the decision to abandon the unsanctioned changes that have been adopted by mainstream Judaism and who want to know where the guideposts are for determining when God intended that the year should start. This article was written to answer only one question: When is the first day of the Biblical year? There is perhaps no disagreement among people, who are even moderately familiar with the Biblical reckoning of time, that around the time of year we call “spring” is when the Biblical year should begin. For the purpose of this article we will consider this to be quite evident. We believe that God does not begin His day in the dead of night (midnight), nor does He begin His Sabbaths in the depths of the Pacific Ocean (at the International Date Line) nor does He begin His months by the use of an invisible “sign” (a conjunction) or a Molad or by a convoluted solar calendar, and that He does not begin His year in the dead of winter.
Daniel’s prophecy warned that a world leader would come and that a succession of later kingdoms would stem from that kingdom. The Roman Empire and its ecclesiastically sanctioned resurrections fulfill that. The reckoning of time was changed under that system, and the Laws of God have been systematically suppressed by the resurrections of that system and the changes will last until the “time and times and half a time” is finished, (that being the coming 1260 day period.)
Daniel 7:24-25 “The ten horns are ten kings who shall arise from this kingdom. And another shall rise after them; he shall be different from the first ones, and shall subdue three kings. 25 He shall speak pompous words against the Most High, shall persecute the saints of the Most High, and shall intend to change times and law. Then the saints shall be given into his hand for a time and times and half a time.”
Incidentally, this indicates that the Beast will be in power for the entire three and a half year period rather than being crushed after the first two and a half years of it.
The very months of the Roman calendar bear the names of some of its “founding fathers”: July is to remember Julius Caesar by, and August is to remember Augustus Caesar by.
Roman calendar concepts have been almost universally accepted throughout the world to determine “times” and “seasons” by assigning fixed imaginary lines. But God said that it is He who changes the times and the seasons!
2:21 "Blessed be the name of God forever and ever, for wisdom and might are His.
21 And He changes the times and the seasons; He removes kings and raises up kings; He gives wisdom to the wise and
knowledge to those who have understanding. 22 He reveals deep and secret
things; He knows what is in the darkness, and light dwells with Him.”
We do not believe that it is only coincidental that the removing and raising up of kings is associated with the changing of the seasons. The harvest seasons are not fixed by mans imaginary lines any more than the succession of kings is under man’s own control, tho these kings have meddled with the perceived measurements of time. May God reveal “deep and secret things” to you.
There are extant today only two methods of determining when a new year has begun. One you were taught from birth and the other is presently at least close to being a “deep and secret thing”. We will examine both of these in the light of scripture and see if God has expressed an “opinion”. If He forgot to tell us, then we are in trouble because He has commanded us to assemble on seven exact dates!
The Holy Days of God are intricately associated with the harvest seasons in the geographical area of the Middle East. So the question arises, is the Biblical year subject to harvest seasons or are the harvest seasons subject to man’s imaginary lines, such as equinoxes?
It is interesting to note that the equinoxes had absolutely nothing to do with the ancient Hebrew calendar, nor do they have anything to do with the present Jewish calendar. Furthermore, even the descendants of Abraham’s son Ishmael, the Arabs, do not look to the equinoxes for the keeping of time. The Muslims continue to this day to use the crescent moon to differentiate between the months. The calculation of equinoxes has, however, been extremely well utilized by pagan religions on every inhabited continent as far back as history has been recorded. Might that not, in itself, raise a red flag? We’ll say more about that later.
The equinox has taken a role in determining the Biblical year in the minds of a number of God's people today. Does the equinox serve a purpose in determining when God’s Holy Days are to be commemorated? Is there Biblical support for that viewpoint?
The best “evidence” given in support of a “Biblical equinox” is found in Exodus:
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.” <08622>
The assumption has been made, based upon this verse, that “the year’s end” <Strong’s 8622> equates to the “fall” "equinox". What is an equinox? Is it not a “moment” in time, which is designated by man? The equinoxes are not equally distanced from each other as opposites in the earth's elliptical orbit around the sun. This can be determined by counting the days between the spring and fall versus the fall and spring, they differ some. The velocity of the earth, while it “travels” around the sun is in constant flux. The earth is continuously either accelerating or decelerating. Its speed around the sun is never constant. Technically, the equinoxes are only relative to the tilt of the earth, relative to the sun, as seen from a constantly different location (from equinox to equinox) on the “equator”, which is yet another imaginary manmade “line” (By definition, a line is only two dimensional and takes up NO space.)
So we ask, “Do farmers harvest their crops when the almanac says that the fall equinox has occurred?” Must not even pagans wait on God to regulate their harvest? Does the spring equinox compel the trees to bud and the flowers to blossom? Does the animal kingdom regenerate itself when the beasts perceive that an equinox has occurred?
Another desperate effort to find an equinox in the scriptures is an attempt to make Psalm 1:4-6 concern an equinox. Could this refer to an equinox? What is the context? The topic in this passage concerns the “line” separating “day unto day” and “night unto night” as seen in verse 2. From God’s lofty vantage point, this line is in constant motion. He can always watch it “run its race”; “Its rising is from one end of heaven, and its circuit to the other end….” The phrase “and there is nothing hidden from its heat” means that every part of the earth receives the sun’s heat some of the time, unlike the moon. There is no preferential treatment for the equinoxes; the earth is always halfway immersed in sunlight. So in this instance, circuit (“tekufah”) is the visible and moving line separating day from night, which travels full “circuit” every twenty-four hours.
There is an entire article devoted to “tekufah” <8622> written by people who speak Hebrew, that we will reference later. There is no reason for us to try to improve on their explanation. Suffice it to say, for now, that the Hebrew word “tekufah” <8622>, (various spellings) when it was written, only meant a “circuit” or cycle. The article shows this by elaborating on every usage of the word within the scriptures. However, that usage apparently did evolve into “equinox”, as one application of the word, by the time that the Jews wrote the Talmud, (the so called “oral law”).
What is man that his imaginary lines should determine what "spring" or “fall” is, and when they should occur? Aren't we to look to God for all of our needs? By using such things as lunar conjunctions and the equinoxes to determine the starting points of our months and years, have we not usurped God? Is there a viable Biblical alternative method of accurately and consistently determining our annual guideposts? For example, rather than explain this verse the way many of our brethren do today, which is that the “year's end” determines when to harvest, why not view it the logical way - that the “harvest” determines the “year's end”? The fall harvest actually has nothing to do with a year ending anyway, because the old year ends on the day preceding the first day of Abib, several months later! So how could “tekufah” refer to anything but the fall harvest? The Jews did invent the fiscal year concept so that they had two separate years, but that is a separate, non-Biblical issue. It is important to understand that “abib” was not really intended to be the name of a month that just happened to be named after “green ears” in Hebrew, rather it is an actual specification regarding which particular "new moon" is being referred to. Also, the term “month” is a later development. While it is derived from the Biblical term "new moon", it only approximates the length of a lunar cycle.
So, how do we know when “spring” is? We do not need a man to tell us? All we need to do is to look outside and when it is spring there will be green! Likewise, when the crops are “ripe” they are ready to harvest. When we harvest our crops we have reached the “end” of the “agricultural cycle”. Why not let God’s creation determine for us when the “cycle” has ended and when a new agricultural cycle or “end” or “tekufah”, or “circuit” has begun, as God instructed?
God placed man in a garden. He intended for humanity to thrive in an agriculturally based society. Prophecy is positively filled with agriculturally relevant information. The harvest was meant to be one of the most celebrated times of our lives. God even compared the expansion of His own family to an early harvest of Firstfruits followed by a much larger main harvest.
By substituting “equinoxes” for the harvests, we have taken away the natural process established by the Creator God, have we not? Could this be a form of idolatry? We force ourselves to look to “other” carnal humans for the way to determine when God’s Holy Days are to be kept. What is the difference between this and the Jewish calendar, there does not seem to be very much of one, does there? Both of these methods require the average servant of God to consult men - the Jews, Church Leaders, computer programs, the Naval Observatory website, etc. - all things written by man, for the determination of the Holy Days of God. These methods seem to inhibit the instruction telling us to “work out our own salvation with fear (of God, not man) and trembling”, don’t they?
For the sake of consistency, and in order to select one exact day for God’s people to begin the year, God selected one crop in one geographic locality to signify the first day of the year. Other plants have been used in other places for “calendar” purposes. Some American Indian tribes watched the leaves of a particular kind of oak tree to determine when to plant their corn. When the leaves were the size of a “mouse’s ear” it was the time to plant.
In Leviticus, after they had “come into the land”, God placed a requirement upon Israel, specifically the Levites, to harvest and wave the "wave sheaf" before any other grain harvesting could continue in the new year. This requirement obviously did not exist prior to when they crossed the Jordan, under Joshua.
Leviticus 23:10, 11, 14:10
“Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, When ye be come into the
land which I give unto you, and shall reap the harvest thereof, then ye shall
bring a sheaf of the firstfruits of your harvest unto the priest:
11 And he shall wave the sheaf before the LORD, to be accepted for you:
on the morrow after the Sabbath the priest shall wave it. 14 And ye shall eat neither bread,
nor parched corn, nor green ears, until the selfsame day that ye have brought an offering
unto your God: it shall be a statute forever
throughout your generations in all your dwellings.”
Ancient Egypt used three different calendars. Is it any wonder that God had to tell Israel how to begin a year at the Exodus? “The ancient Egyptians originally employed a calendar based upon the Moon, and, like many peoples throughout the world, they regulated their lunar calendar by means of the guidance of a sidereal [star] calendar. They used the seasonal appearance of the star Sirius (Sothis); this corresponded closely to the true solar year, being only 12 minutes shorter. Certain difficulties arose, however, because of the inherent incompatibility of lunar and solar [lunisolar] years. To solve this problem the Egyptians invented a schematized civil year of 365 days divided into three seasons…The original lunar calendar, however, was not abandoned but was retained primarily for agriculture because of its agreement with the seasons. Thus, the ancient Egyptians operated with three calendars, each for a different purpose.” (See - http://www.ragz-international.com/egyptian_calendar.htm). While Egypt was creating confusion in their calendar keeping, enough to have confused even the “Babylonians” [Literally confusion], all of the other Middle Eastern societies, Babylon included, retained their lunar calendars, presumably uninterrupted since the Noachian deluge.
Regardless of how Israel knew when the year began, during their forty years of wandering, (it seems likely that God told them when each of the forty years had begun) a "wave sheaf" was required after their entry, when they finally came into the land.
Since we should use Jerusalem (Palestine) as the place on earth for determining the beginning of the day and month, [See: Where is God’s International Date Line] then why not use it for determining the beginning of the year as well?
Here is what we mean. Just for the moment, let’s say that the “equinox” actually was the determining factor for beginning the year “today”. Was it in ancient Israel? Some might argue that since Christ fulfilled the wave sheaf, the use of it is immaterial today, and that it is not relevant to the beginning of the year, even if it was in ancient Israel
For the sake of “argument”, let’s say that the above were so today. That still leaves the question concerning the original yearly cycle. Whether the equinox played a role or not, then, in ancient Israel, they could not harvest the grain until the wave sheaf, right? What happened then (in ancient Israel) when the “new moon” after the equinox was as late as it was this year (2002)? What happened to the crops? They would have been harvestable for four or five weeks already, fair to state? There are even other years possible, due to the “new moon” being after the equinox, where this occurrence could be as much as seven or eight weeks “late”.
Please consider that maybe God did not set up a “calendar” where the crops would have the possibility of just standing in the field for nearly two months after they were harvestable. What would that have done to the planting and harvesting of successive crops in ancient Israel? Everything would have been pushed way behind the "natural" (as God created it) growing “season” and the crops would not have received their rain in due season, would they have? Furthermore, the concept of the firstfruits of the crop would have become totally irrelevant by the use of this old “lastfruits” grain.
We should note that the modern varieties of commercially grown barley, in Palestine, do not tend to ripen as quickly as the “wild” naturalized barley known from “Biblical” times, which comes up, without man’s interference, over much of the region. The timing of that barley’s maturity is little affected by weather extremes, though the use of modern varieties, were they to be used as the basis for determining abib, would alter significantly God’s timetable. The Karaites risk their lives traveling to where Jews are in peril, in search of “natural” barley. Watching for faster maturing native barley assures us that the Pentecost harvest is timed as it was originally intended; that is in such a way that the grain crops of the fall harvest are also timed for harvest prior to the Feast of Tabernacles.
God specifically “permitted” Israel to use “partially” ripe grain (green ears) at the beginning of the “year” on the occasions when it was necessary. On the other hand, there is nothing stated or inferring that Israel was required to “wait” for the harvest past the time of its being fully ripe. God created a large enough window of opportunity for Israel to begin their harvest, by allowing the wave sheaf to be acceptable in the green ear stage (which required roasting for eating) as well as permitting ripening grain, or even fully ripe grain, depending upon how the new moon “fell” with respect to the crop growth. If anything, God had placed an emphasis on making it possible to begin the year as early as possible, not as late as possible.
The “green ears” really has no absolute connection with the color green in Hebrew, any more than it does in English, though quite often unripe food crops are actually green - hence the use of the word “green”. A good illustration of “green ears” is the roasting ears of sweet corn found in our gardens and grocery stores. If the shucks are no longer green then the kernels inside will have begun to toughen. We eat roasting ears in the tender succulent “green ears” stage. It is not ripe; rather it is in the very perishable moist “unripe” stage. Grain farmers do not harvest corn until it is fully ripe (dry), that is the grain is hard enough to crack your teeth!
The very fact that Israel was “permitted” to harvest unripe grain for the wave sheaf (which had to be roasted for consumption) “proves” from an astronomical and agricultural stand point, that it is impossible for the equinox to be a factor in those years. And if it was not applicable in those years, then why, or how should it be used at all? Does God use it sometimes and not at other times?
All three Holy Day seasons are directly based upon agricultural seasons, right? How could that be the case if in some years the crops were six to eight weeks before the calendar seasons? Again, do not the natural seasons determine the “calendar” rather than the “calendar” determining the seasons? It seems incomprehensible for us to believe that the determining factor of the year could be responsible for a misalignment of the seasons with respect to the Holy Days. The “great” concern offered by some regarding the “supposed” use of the equinox in determining the beginning of God’s year is a paradox in its own right. Those who “rely” on the equinox must actually “rely” on both of the “equinoxes”. This is because they “must” place the Feast of Tabernacles at, or after, the fall equinox due to their interpretation of Ex. 34:22 (quoted earlier). If they do not do this then they defy their own reasoning and justification for employing the equinox in their calculations in the first place. The result of “requiring” the use of the equinox in the determination of the year creates the exact same “behavior” pertaining to the “calendar” that the “Rabbinical Jew’s” have exhibited toward their own fourth century calculated Calendar. They both “must” determine the dates for specific “fall” Holy Days (the Jew’s “Trumpets” and the church’s “Tabernacles”) BEFORE they can know when to BEGIN the year, which is six months earlier! It seems a bit paradoxical, doesn’t it? First, they “decry” the Jew’s and their “calendar” because the Rabbinical Jew’s FIRST determine when, or on what day of the week, they think the 1st day of the 7th month should fall on; then they count “backwards” in the coming year to see where in the week, the 1st day of the 1st month of that same year will occur.
In comparison, these “liberated” members in some of the Churches of God turn around and do exactly the same thing; only in their case they calculate the 15th day of the 7th month before being able to “know” when the year will begin. This does appear to be contradictory, doesn’t it? This is not intended to “bash” anyone; rather we simply wish to point out the inconsistency of applying a form of logic and procedure in one particular situation, while totally ignoring or decrying it in another. There also seems to be an apparent absence of any scriptural reference to any “requirement” for determining the seventh month before the scriptures explain about the wavesheaf requirements. The reference to the “end” of the year in Exodus 34 appears in the context of the “end” of the year and not the beginning. God did not appear to make any mention of this “requirement” to Moses in Egypt or in the wilderness. Yet, if the equinox were a “requirement”, there would be no reason to wait until Israel was “come into the land” to explain its purpose to Moses, since the barley harvest would have been irrelevant. At any rate, aren't the harvests supposed to be in harmony with God's annual cycles? The science of biological cycles is an astonishing “new” science. There is an incredible complexity of exact cycles in nature; each of these cycles is dependent on being in harmony with the other cycles, all attesting to a Divine plan. Does this have to do with inserting a 13th month to make their calendar come out “right”?
Finally, just how was the New Year determined in the year that Christ died? Christ "fulfilled" the wave sheaf offering of the "firstfruit" grain. After Christ died and was resurrected, was there not one last wave sheaf offered at exactly the same time that our Savior was "accepted" by our Father? Who decided when to begin that year and harvest that year’s wave sheaf? If there had been any other factors than the ones identified above, then Christ might have been resurrected during the wrong month. Christ never gave anyone any indication that that particular year should be any different than any other year in his life, did He? The Israelites in Palestine used the green ears to determine the year's beginning during the year that Christ died. We have no indication that it was any other way; if you have found factors that indicate otherwise, then please forward it to us for our consideration. It appears that in the year of His death and resurrection that the fields were searched for the earliest possible ripening grain and then the first month began with the sighting of the first crescent moon from Palestine and Jerusalem following that!!!! These appear to be the only Biblical factors. We could be wrong, but none of us want to be wrong, I'm sure.
You may be wondering how the 13th month on a lunar “calendar” comes into play. You have probably thought that an ecclesiastical guru would be needed to determine when to insert them. The Jews did have a guru dependent ecclesiastical body in the fourth century, which decreed quite a number of hoops to jump thru, with a variety of exceptions to the rule, to guarantee their ecclesiastical positions of authority. An example of how an edict replaced a process that was self-maintaining was their arbitrary selection of seven years on a nineteen-year cycle, which were to contain 13th months. That works out mathematically on average but God did not say anything about using averages or schedules. By using lunar months for the delineation of time, and selecting the first month of the year based on the agricultural cycle of barley, one would discover that the additional months would automatically be added to some years, between the harvests, not however, on a calculated schedule but on a harvest based schedule. This method of determining years is so simple that God did not see fit to create any complicated rules.
We would like to commend a group of people for being a faithful remnant to the limited knowledge that they have been given, and for tenaciously guarding that understanding with their lives since the middle of the fourth century, when Judaism itself, under threat of the Beast, compromised their “calendar”. The Diaspora did not halt their dedication. Actually, these same people, following an interruption by persecution, are once again observing the truth of the month and year of God, in the modern state of Israel as had been observed from the time that ancient Israel entered the land after the 40 years in the wilderness. These people are known as the Karaite Jews. Having been referred to by various names, by the world, these people and their present day descendants are still striving to use nothing but scripture to determine the Feasts of God. And though they do not recognize Jesus Christ presently, their zeal for truth, limited to the “Old Testament”, will most assuredly carry over into the next age. Every year they send observers through out the countryside where barley ‘springs’ from the earth naturally, not being forced by the hand of man. They go out in armored vehicles because the area where the earliest barley matures is in very hostile country. Because of the extreme danger involved in the search, the Karaites permitted four Church of God observers to join them this year, so that if absolutely necessary, they could rely on us rather than we relying on the Karaites, for this sacred determination. Brian Convery, who has written articles in the Journal, was one of those observers this year.
We have carefully considered the ways in which these people, by using every scripture accurately and consistently, determine the Holy Days. Their example has hastened our own understanding of the same scriptures. They have a web site, http://www.karaite-korner.org/ , which explains much that the scriptures reveal about the Biblical “calendar”.
By contrast, we decided to study the equinox and Easter to reexamine the little understood relationship between “Christianity” and the equinox, so we did an Internet search combining these words.
Here, beginning in the first paragraph of the first search that we found, is information taken from the best source of such information: the U.S Naval Observatory:
“The commonly stated rule, that Easter Day is the first Sunday after the full moon that occurs next after the vernal equinox, is somewhat misleading because it is not a precise statement of the actual ecclesiastical rules. The actual conditions to determine the date for Easter are (1) Easter must be on a Sunday; (2) this Sunday must follow the 14th day of the paschal moon; (3) the paschal moon is that of which the 14th day (full moon) falls on or next follows the day of the vernal equinox;* and (4) the equinox is fixed in the calendar as March 21. Easter can never occur before March 22 or later than April 25.” *
This Catholic method of creating a “fixed Passover” in order to avoid having Easter coincide with a Jewish Holy Day, did serve their purpose, although occasionally the “paschal month” was begun earlier than the month of the equinox. This formula dates back to the Nicene Council of 325 A.D. where they also formally substituted Easter for the Passover, as well as substituted Sunday for the Sabbath. It is interesting to note that the Catholic formula of avoiding Passover did not factor in a calculated Jewish Passover, nor were postponements utilized. Rather they factored in an actual moon sign! The reason for this is quite simple. The Jews hadn’t “invented” a mathematically fixed Passover yet! That was to take place a couple of decades later. So the Catholics invented one for them. Although the Jews have never used the vernal equinox to determine Passover, perhaps they got the idea of a fixed calendar from the Catholics!
U.S. Naval Observatory continued: “In order that the date for Easter be incontrovertibly fixed, and determinable indefinitely in advance, the Church constructed special tables for calculating the time of the paschal moon. There are three major differences to note between the ecclesiastical system and the astronomical system. (1) The 14th day of the paschal moon is not necessarily identical to the time of astronomical full moon. The ecclesiastical tables do not account for the full complexity of the lunar motion. (2) The vernal equinox has a precise astronomical definition determined by the actual motion of the Sun. It is the precise time at which the apparent longitude of the Sun is zero degrees. The actual date varies very slightly from year to year. In the ecclesiastical system the vernal equinox is fixed at March 21 regardless of the actual motion of the Sun. (3) The date of Easter is a specific calendar date. Easter starts when that date starts for your time zone. Astronomical phenomena occurs at a specific date and time all over the Earth at once.”
“Inevitably, the date of Easter occasionally differs from a date that uses an astronomical full moon and the astronomical vernal equinox. In some cases this difference may occur in some parts of the world and not in others because two dates separated by the International Date Line are always simultaneously in progress on the Earth.”
“1962 was such a case. In 1962, the astronomical full moon happened to occur about six hours after astronomical equinox. That full moon occurred on March 21, UT=7h 55m. The ecclesiastical full moon, however, occurred on March 20. The ecclesiastical equinox is fixed to be March 21; therefore, the ecclesiastical full moon occurred before the ecclesiastical equinox. In the first case, the full moon followed the equinox; in other case, it proceeded the equinox. Following the rules, Easter, therefore, was not until the Sunday that followed the next ecclesiastical full moon. That occurred on Wednesday, April 18 making Easter Sunday, April 22.”… [complex calculations deleted, bold notation ours.]
“The date of Easter is different in the eastern (Orthodox) Christian churches. The Julian calendar, which preceded the currently-used Gregorian calendar, is the traditional basis for the ecclesiastical calendar. (The Julian calendar was still used in much of Eastern Europe until the early part of the 20th century.) In a congress held in 1923, the Orthodox churches adopted a modified Gregorian calendar and decided to set the date of Easter according to the astronomical full moon for the meridian of Jerusalem. However, these changes have not been universally implemented, and a variety of practices remain among the Orthodox churches.”
Shouldn’t equinox observers use “The ecclesiastical full moon” and “The ecclesiastical equinox”? This is just a suggestion. Why didn’t God provide this kind of system for His people? Look at what we are missing out on! Belly laughs aside, notice the inherent contempt for the “paschal moon” - the Passover. The Catholic Church built into its calculations for Easter a stipulation that it should never fall on the Passover!
The second web site that looked promising led me to a pagan site with the following article, of which we included the first three paragraphs. It is interesting to note the gleeful comments that the neo pagans make about the “Christians” adopting their equinox and solstice celebrations.
The Vernal Equinox
By Mike Nichols
“Now comes the Vernal Equinox, and the season of Spring reaches it's apex, halfway through its journey from Candlemas to Beltane. Once again, night and day stand in perfect balance, with the powers of light on the ascendancy. The god of light now wins a victory over his twin, the god of darkness. In the Mabinogion myth reconstruction, which I have proposed, this is the day on which the restored Llew takes his vengeance on Goronwy by piercing him with the sunlight spear. For Llew was restored/reborn at the Winter Solstice and is now well/old enough to vanquish his rival/twin and mate with his lover/mother. And the great Mother Goddess, who has returned to her Virgin aspect at Candlemas, welcomes the young sun god's embraces and conceives a child. The child will be born nine months from now, at the next Winter Solstice. And so the cycle closes at last.”
“We think that the customs surrounding the celebration of the spring equinox were imported from Mediterranean lands, although there can be no doubt that the first inhabitants of the British Isles observed it, as evidence from megalithic sites shows. But it was certainly more popular to the south, where people celebrated the holiday as New Year's Day, and claimed it as the first day of the first sign of the Zodiac, Aries. However you look at it, it is certainly a time of new beginnings, as a simple glance at Nature will prove.”
“In the Roman Catholic Church, there are two holidays which get mixed up with the Vernal Equinox. The first, occurring on the fixed calendar day of March 25th in the old liturgical calendar, is called the Feast of the Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary (or B.V.M., as she was typically abbreviated in Catholic Missals). 'Annunciation' means an announcement. This is the day that the angel Gabriel announced to Mary that she was 'in the family way'. Naturally, this had to be announced since Mary, being still a virgin, would have no other means of knowing it. (Quit scoffing, O ye of little faith!) Why did the Church pick the Vernal Equinox for the commemoration of this event? Because it was necessary to have Mary conceive the child Jesus a full nine months before his birth at the Winter Solstice (i.e., Christmas, celebrated on the fixed calendar date of December 25). Mary's pregnancy would take the natural nine months to complete, even if the conception was a bit unorthodox.”
For more information describing the universal acceptance of the spring equinox as a method of worshiping the deity of your choice, check out the following site:
You have undoubtedly noticed the inherent complexities surrounding religious equinox observances. Now would be a good time to mention the built in safeguard that God has incorporated into His “calendar”. Actually, God’s timetable does not necessarily concern itself with defining “spring”, because Biblically a “spring” is a source of water and the unbiblical term “calendar” is not really applicable to a Biblical year because Webster’s first definition for “calendar” refers to “a system for FIXING the beginning….” The term “calendar” is not even Biblical. It is man who insists on fixing a calendar. Virtually every civilization in the history of man has relied on a fixed calendar. For example the Roman/Gregorian calendar is solar, based entirely on the sun. Today’s orthodox Jewish calendar, although entirely dependent on calculations, is descended from a calendar, which was based strictly on the lunar cycles.
The purpose of this article has been to expound upon the nature of the Biblical year, which is lunar/agricultural, and illuminate the faulty reasoning that Herbert Armstrong used, which spanned his entire ministry.
There are a widening number of smaller Churches of God today, descended from Herbert Armstrong, which have rightfully rejected the current orthodox Jewish calendar, but they have erroneously turned to non Biblical versions of a “solar/lunar” calendar of their own creation! This newer conjecture embraces a presumed “solar/lunar” calendar for the people of God. Today, those people who have shed the Jewish calendar for another, have unknowingly traded one faulty calendar for another one that also includes assumptions and errors. In their sincere efforts to obey the living God, they have unwittingly, and unfortunately accepted a concept ingrained upon the human conscience since ancient Egyptian times, that the sun (“solar” equinox) establishes the year. The result of this misunderstanding has led them to utilize the equinox as the determining factor for establishing the beginning of the year, by arbitrarily assigning the new moon closest to, or prior to, or following (in one case using the second new moon!), the equinox (depending on the group) to initiate the first month. The very fact that one uses an equinox as a part of a “calendar” creates a “calendar” possessing a “solar” component. Thus, whether one starts the month with a conjunction or first visibility, the addition of the equinox component, by definition, identifies that calendar as being a “solar/lunar” syncretic hybrid - pagan and lunar in origin.
A careful study of the “fourth day” (Genesis 1:14-19) will eliminate some common misunderstandings held by many in the Church of God. Many assume that a “solar/lunar” calendar is God ordained because both the sun and the moon appear to be intricately involved in the calendar year’s determination. This assessment is only partially correct. While no one disagrees that the sun sets the boundaries between the day and night, verse 14 might appear to require the sun’s use to distinguish not only the day from the night, but an added role concerning the signs, the seasons, the days, and the years. We should mention that these signs are all actual and visible, rather than imaginary and calculated! The word “lights” means “light holders or luminaries”, and is understood as being plural, due to the context. Still, this does not require the sun to directly factor in everything listed in verse 14, otherwise, this scripture would then require for us to use the moon to help determine every time period as well, since “lights” is plural and there is only one sun. The conflict that this creates is presented by the impossible situation of having to use the moon in helping determine the day. Therefore, the two great lights of verse 16 do not have to be used simultaneously to determine everything in verse 14. However, the sun does play a role in the determination of not only day from night, but for “signs”, “season” and “years” because years are made up of months, which are made up of days. “Seasons” should not to be confused with spring, summer, or fall “seasons”. Notice carefully what the word “seasons” implies. Gen.1:14 is the first indication that two “lights” are to be used “for signs, and for seasons [Hebrew: mo’ed: appointed times, Holy Days] and for days and years”. In practice, how does this work? Psalm 104:19 says that “He appointed the MOON for “seasons” [mo’ed]; the sun knows its going down. You make darkness, and it is night…” Here we see that the moon plays a dominant role in determining the Holy Days because “mo’ed”, as used here, indicates Holy Time. However the “sun…going down” separates the days, one from another. Incidentally, the “signs” can include much more than the sun and moon. “Signs” are used in the Bible as a true indication of “things to come”, such as the heavenly signs involving the sun being darkened and the moon turning to blood.
From the beginning of recorded history, one of man’s strongest desires has been to develop fixed calendars with which to live by, so that he can plan as far into the future as he wishes. However, God has told us not to be anxious for the future, and to let the needs and problems of the present suffice. Over and over again, God has shown us that we must wait on Him for every good and perfect gift. We are transitory creatures, sojourners and vapors, from God’s perspective. Perhaps this desire for a fixed calendar relates to our desire for control of our present and particularly our future. Could it be that God, understanding our human desires, designed His years to be permanently indeterminate and flexible, forcing us to look to Him for everything, especially our future. We know, from keeping the Holy Days, that God has woven into them a story about the future of humanity. We also know that God has chosen to keep secret His earth-shattering timetable:
Daniel 12:9 “for the words are sealed up until the time of the end.”
God knows the “end” from the “beginning”; perhaps we do not know the end because we have not known God’s beginning!
Easter Sunday, 3/31/02
Lon Martin and Richard Fix
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