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Thoughts and Commentary on Today's ReadingIn John chapter 9, we find a pretty powerful defense of the Sabbath. It offers a powerful proof that the Seventh-day Sabbath cannot be determined by the moon phases. Because, after all, if one can prove even in one case where the Seventh-day Sabbath did not fall on the lunar cycle, then the entire idea that the Seventh-day is governed by the moon falls apart. To be true, the Seventh-day must be governed by the moon phases every time.
Yet, in John 9, we find the record where Yahshua healed the blind man on the Seventh-day Sabbath, which was on the 23rd day of Tishri (the seventh biblical month) - a complete impossibility if the Sabbath were determined by the phases of the moon.
Since I brought it up, let's start at the beginning and build up to seeing this proof in John 9.
Exodus 20:8-11 “Remember the Sabbath Day, to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work: But the Seventh Day is the Sabbath of Yahweh thy God...”Keeping the Sabbath holy should be important to God’s people, because it is important to Yahweh. We know this, Scripturally, because the Bible tells us that God especially blesses those who keep His Sabbath holy. Also, Sabbath-keeping is the Sign which He looks for, to prove that we really belong to Him.
Exodus 31:13 “...Verily My Sabbaths ye shall keep: for it is a sign between Me and you throughout your generations; that ye may know that I Am Yahweh that doth sanctify you.”
Isaiah 58:13-14 (NIV) - “If you keep your feet from breaking the Sabbath and from doing as you please on My holy Day, if you call the Sabbath a delight and Yahweh’s holy Day, honorable, and if you honor it... then you will find your joy in Yahweh. And I will cause you to ride in triumph on the heights of the Land and to feast on the inheritance of your father Jacob. For the Mouth of Yahweh has spoken.”KEY POINT
The Seventh-day Sabbath was set apart and made holy (hallowed) by Yahweh Himself. Man may not presume to “unesteem” the Day which God has so “esteemed” - “...Yahweh blessed the Sabbath day, and hallowed it.” Exodus 20:11 (See also Deuteronomy 5:12-15.)
Most notably, Yahshua, Who was our Example in all things (1 Peter 2:21) kept the Sabbath.
Luke 4:16 (ASV) - “Then Yahshua went to Nazareth, where He had been brought up, and on the Sabbath He went as usual to the synagogue. He stood up to read the Scriptures.”Since Sabbath-keeping is important to Yahweh, and since it is His Will for His people to keep His holy Day, the next issue is to determine which Day is the weekly Sabbath. Which Day has the Heavenly Father esteemed, that no earthly power may presume to unesteem? There are three days, which are believed to be the Sabbath of Yahweh. They are: Sunday, Saturday, or a weekly day determined by the moon phases (commonly called the “Lunisolar Sabbath”). In this study, we will examine the Scriptural validity of these days, in order to Biblically identify the weekly Sabbath, which is hallowed by our Creator.
Is Sunday the Sabbath of Yahweh?
Today, many Christians believe that Saturday used to be the Sabbath of Yahweh. But they also believe that Saturday is no longer to be kept holy. This is because it is commonly thought that Yahweh changed His Mind and appointed a new day, in honor of Yahshua’s Resurrection. But, as we’ve already studied in the prior blog, God neither changes His Mind nor His Law.
Amazingly, even the idea that Yahshua’s Resurrection is being honored by keeping Sunday is actually a tradition, not a Scriptural fact.
The Day of the Resurrection Was Not Sunday!
We can prove, Scripturally, that Messiah rose from the dead towards the end of the Biblical Sabbath Day; because the women were running to His Tomb, as the Sabbath was ending. Yet, they were too late to witness the Resurrection. Clearly, Yahshua had already risen, before the Sabbath ended!
Matthew 28:1 (ASV) - “Now late on the Sabbath Day, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, came Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to see the Sepulchre..”Biblically, a day begins and ends in the evening (Leviticus 23:27-32). The women went to the Tomb to anoint Yahshua’s Body just before sunset on the Seventh-day. It was still the Seventh-day Sabbath, when the women headed to the tomb. But how can “late on the Sabbath Day” be nearing the dawn of Sunday morning? The way this passage is translated into English makes it appear that the women were running to the tomb some time after midnight, and just before sunrise. But that isn't how this verse is written in the Greek.
“Began to dawn” is translated from the Greek word epiphōskō. Like with a dictionary, the context helps us determine which meaning to use. This word can mean “begin to grow light.” or “begin to draw on”. Since the Bible says that Sabbath ends at sunset, Sunday began to draw on (start) just after sunset.
The truth is that there is no Scriptural support for keeping Sunday sacred. This tradition was started by Roman emperor Constantine, replacing the true Sabbath of Yahweh, in the 4th Century AD (just as the prophet Daniel warned that the Little Horn power would do - see lesson 5). It was Constantine also, who first began referring to Sunday as “the Lord’s Day”.
“Christians shall not Judaize and be idle on Saturday (Sabbath), but shall work on that day: but the Lord’s Day (Sunday), they shall especially honour; and as being Christians, shall, if possible, do no work on that day. If however, they are found Judaizing, they shall be shut out from Christ.” Catholic Church of Laodicea, circa 364 AD - Rev. Charles Joseph Hefele, Henry N. Oxenham (trans.), A History of the Church Councils from 326 to 429 Volume 2 (Edinburgh: T. and T. Clark, 1896): 316The Catholic Mirror of September 23, 1894, puts it this way:
“The Catholic Church for over one thousand years before the existence of a Protestant, by virtue of her divine mission, changed the day from Saturday to Sunday.”As history and Scripture easily verify, traditions started by the Little Horn power have established Sunday worship. Sunday is not Yahweh’s esteemed holy Day. One down, two to go! Now let’s turn our attention to the teaching that the weekly Sabbath is determined by the moon phases.
Is Sabbath determined by the Phases of the Moon?
When first presented with the “Lunisolar Sabbath”, one will probably be amazed at the sheer volume of historical notes on changes to the calendar over the centuries. By the time one wades through all this impressive documentation in the “Lunisolar Sabbath” argument, one question looms large in the mind: “With all these changes, how can we be certain that Saturday is still the Seventh-day Sabbath from Creation?”
The “Lunisolar Sabbath” argument appears to be a sure solution, if for no other reason than that it attractively “simplifies” the Sabbath issue. But is the “Lunisolar Sabbath” teaching Scripturally correct? To test the Scriptural validity of this teaching, we must first clearly define it.
The “Lunisolar Sabbath” goes by many names. It is also known as the “Lunar Sabbath” or “Creation Calendar Sabbath”. This teaching states that the weekly Sabbath of Yahweh is determined by the phases of the moon. This means that the Day of the New Moon (following the night when the first sliver of the crescent moon was sighted) starts the count for determining the weekly Sabbaths for that month (moon cycle).
From the New Moon, the weekly Sabbath would then fall upon the 8th day (of the Biblical month), the 15th day (which is the day of the full moon), the 22nd day and the 29th day of the moon cycle. This means that the weekly Sabbaths might fall on a Wednesday for that given month. The day of the week on which the “Lunisolar Sabbath” happens to fall is irrelevant, in this teaching.
To make this plain, consider the calendar example shown above, comparing “Lunisolar Sabbath” vs “Saturday” (for clarity) Sabbath. To determine when the “Lunisolar Sabbaths” would fall, we must know the New Moon dates. The New Moon dates which determine this calendar are: Thursday, March 10 and “Saturday”, April 9. In each calendar, proposed Sabbath days are shown in yellow. New Moon dates are shown in purple.
At the outset of this study, we can already notice that the Lunisolar Sabbath is not consistently the 7th day. This is because, each month, between the 29th day of the lunar cycle and the first Sabbath following the next New Moon, there may be 9 days (see the calendar for the week shown in red on the prior page). Thus, the “Lunisolar Sabbath” cannot be called the 7th Day Sabbath, as this qualifier doesn’t always apply.
For this reason, in this study we will continue using the term “Lunisolar Sabbath” for that day, but will use the term 7th Day Sabbath for the day society has paganly called “Saturday” (please note, we sometimes use this term only for clarity). It is now time to compare these two proposed Sabbaths, to see which holds up to Biblical inspection. In this study, we will compare the Lunisolar Sabbath and 7th Day Sabbath in the following six tests:
1) We will check the “Bone Structure” of each - going back to Creation, to see how the first Sabbath was determined.
2) We will investigate the calendar change issues.
3) We will address which construct fits the Scriptural requirements for the weekly Sabbath.
4) We will see whether there are any provable cases in Scripture where the weekly Sabbath didn't fall on the 8th, 15th, 22nd or 29th. Even one provable case will disprove the Lunisolar theory.
5) We will to look at the history of keeping the Sabbath to see whether it was done by the moon phases or by a continuous count.
6) We will examine the Seventh-day Sabbath to determine whether there is enough evidence to show that “Saturday” is indeed still the 7th Day.
7) The Pentecost count includes seven Sabbaths AND fifty days. Which Sabbath fits this - Lunar or 7th Day?
TEST #1: Bone Structure - The first place that Sabbath is mentioned in Scripture lays the foundation for Sabbath doctrine. Since Sabbath is first mentioned in Genesis, in the Creation story, which Sabbath fits Creation?
The Sabbath was instituted in Genesis, at the end of Earth’s first week. Counting from the first day, on which Yahweh made light (Genesis 1:3-5), the Sabbath Day was the 7th Day. The moon was created on the fourth day of the Creation Week.
TEST #2: Calendar Change Issues - The first point to remember, when investigating historical records of calendar changes, is that historical records have been tampered with. It is great to quote from historical sources, so long as this is not the basis for your belief. Historical sources must fit with the doctrinal teaching you have found through proper Bible study.
You should never make your Bible doctrine fit your historical finds. For this reason, we will quote historical sources, only as they fit what we have first found in Scripture.
When we were introduced to the Lunisolar Sabbath teaching, we were presented with a thick document of calendar changes, all of which were used to prove that Saturday could no longer be the 7th Day Sabbath from Creation. The sheer volume of calendar changes was enough to bring someone to the Lunisolar Sabbath belief merely from the shock value alone! But, upon closer inspection we found that most of the calendar changes were completely irrelevant to the Sabbath issue! Here’s why...
When Yahshua was here, He was our Example in all things (1 Peter 2:21). Yahshua kept the Sabbath, which was the same Sabbath being kept by the Jews, in His time. This means that the Jews were keeping the right Day. If they had not been keeping the right Day, the Bible says that Yahshua would have corrected them:
“For if Yahshua had given them Rest, then would He not afterward have spoken of another Day? There remaineth therefore a Rest to the people of God. For he that is entered into His Rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from His.” Hebrews 4:8-10
This cut the impressive document of calendar changes down tremendously. For none of the calendar changes prior to Christ need even be considered. It is also interesting to note that the Jews were keeping the day society calls “Saturday” as the Sabbath in the time of Messiah.
But there is a big issue, among Lunisolar Sabbath teachers, about the “Gregorian Calendar”. It is often suggested that Pope Gregory so changed the calendar that it is impossible to determine the weekly Sabbath by a “Gregorian Calendar” (which is another name for our modern calendar).
To address this correctly, we must look at the calendar changes made by Pope Gregory XIII. In October of 1582 AD, Pope Gregory XIII dropped 10 dates from the calendar. He also added a day to the month of February. But none of these changes impacted the order as is shown in the calendar below:
None of these changes impacted the order of the DAYS of the week, by which we determine Sabbath. Sunday was still followed by Monday and Monday by Tuesday, and so forth. Ten DATES were removed, but the order of the week days continued uninterrupted. Thus, Gregory’s changes did not effect the Sabbath.
The implication that we cannot determine the Seventh-day Sabbath from a Gregorian calendar is simply not true. The Seventh-day of the week remained.
TEST #3: The Scriptural Construct for Sabbath- In Scripture, the Sabbath is plainly called the Seventh Day. This is because it is always the Seventh Day, as will be plainly seen when we examine the count to Pentecost. In a Lunisolar Sabbath construct, the first week is 8-10 days between the 29th day of the lunar cycle and the 8th day of the next lunar cycle. This means that determining the Sabbath by the moon is both not the original way to calculate Sabbath (from Creation), nor is it always the 7th Day, which defines Sabbath.
One reason Lunisolar Sabbath teachers give to support the Sabbath being governed by the moon phases is the story of the manna falling in the Wilderness, in which the Sabbath fit the Lunisolar Sabbath timing (which is the 8th, 15th, 22nd and 29th of the Biblical month). Also, the first and last annual Sabbaths of Unleavened Bread and Tabernacles fall on the 15th and 22nd. These days are Scripturally called Sabbaths or Days of Rest.
While these examples may at first appear to support a Lunisolar Sabbath construct, closer inspection reveals that many assumptions must be made to make these prove a Lunisolar Sabbath teaching:
1) It is being assumed that since the manna story shows the 8th, 15th, 22nd and 29th were Sabbaths, during that month, than these days are Sabbaths every month. (But, as we will see in this study, there is at least one case when the Sabbath was on the 23rd of the Biblical month). It is a wrong assumption to believe that because sometimes the Seventh-day is on the same days as the lunar phases that this is always the case.
2) It is an assumption to state that simply because the first and last Days of Unleavened Bread and Tabernacles are annual Sabbaths, that they must also be Seventh-day Sabbaths.
TEST #4: A Provable Case in Scripture where the weekly Sabbath DIDN’T fall on a “Lunisolar Sabbath” day (8th, 15th, 22nd or 29th) - In order for the Lunisolar Sabbath to be correct, it must consistently be Scriptural. Thus, we must be able to find that ALL datable Sabbaths in the Bible took place on a lunar phase date (falling on the 8th, 15th, 22nd, and 29th of the Biblical month). Even one datable Sabbath, falling outside of these lunar phase dates, is sufficient to disprove the whole theory!
Scripture tells us that Yahshua made clay to heal a blind man’s eyes on the weekly Sabbath.
John 9:14 - “And it was the Sabbath Day when Yahshua made the clay, and opened his eyes.”
And on that occasion, the Seventh-Day Sabbath fell on the 23rd day of the Seventh Month. This is a complete impossibility in a Lunisolar Sabbath construct. In this belief system, the Sabbath could never fall on the 23rd. Yet, in this case, the Bible proves that it DID.
How can we be certain that the Sabbath when the blind man’s eyes were healed was the 23rd of the Seventh Biblical month? John tells us that Yahshua invited the people to come to Him for Living Water. This invitation was given on the Last Great Day of the Feast, which is the Day immediately following the Week of Tabernacles.
John 7:37 - “In the Last Day, that Great Day of the Feast, Yahshua stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto Me, and drink.”In Leviticus 23:34-36, we find that the Feast of Tabernacles begins on the 15th day of Tishri (the Seventh month). This Feast continues seven days, but the 8th day, counting from the 15th, is called the Last Great Day by the Hebrew people, and is an annual Sabbath.
Leviticus 23:34-36 “...The fifteenth day of this Seventh month shall be the Feast of Tabernacles for seven days... On the eighth Day shall be an holy convocation ye shall do no servile work therein.”The Bible tells us that the next day, after Yahshua stood and invited everyone to drink the Water of Life, Yahshua came again to the Temple early in the morning (John 8:2). The next day after the Last Great Day (which is always Tishri 22) is the 23rd day of that Biblical month.
The Gospel record then shows that while Yahshua was at the Temple on this 23rd day of Tishri, He healed the blind man’s eyes. Again, John recorded, “It was the Sabbath day when (Yahshua) made the clay, and opened his eyes,” (John 9:14). Clearly, there are at least two cases where the Seventh-day Sabbath didn’t fall on the 8th, 15th, 22nd, or 29th of the Biblical Month:
1) The first Sabbath of Creation (on which the moon was only three days old).
2) The day Yahshua healed the blind man - when the 23rd of the Biblical month was the Sabbath.
TEST #5: History of Sabbath keeping. Was Sabbath kept by the Lunar Phases or the 7th Day? - Many teachers of Lunisolar Sabbath suggest that the Children of Israel kept the Sabbath by the moon phases. However, when we looked up the quotes given in the documents, we found that some pivotally important quotations, had been misquoted. In one noted document, the encyclopedia being quoted actually didn’t show that ancient Israel kept the Sabbath by the moon at all, but showed the opposite! Whether the Lunisolar Sabbath teacher was misquoting due to ignorance, a lack of due dilligence, or intentional deception is unclear. But the resulting teaching is certainly dangerously deceptive!
For space in this study, we will just give one example of such a deceptive misrepresentation:
In the article, “The One Unanswerable Objection to a Saturday Sabbath”, which is quoted by many Lunisolar Sabbath teachers, the following pivotal statement appears:
“The connection of the Sabbath with lunar phases, however, was later discarded by the Israelites”.This statement is sourced, within the document, as having been quoted from The New Schaff-Herzog Religious Encyclopedia, Vol 10 p 135-136. In “The One Unanswerable Objection to a Saturday Sabbath”, this quotation is used to show that Israel used to keep Sabbath by the moon, but later discarded this correct practice, replacing it with a “pagan” Saturday worship practice. This method of keeping the weekly Sabbath by the moon phases is even presented as returning to the “Creation Calendar”. But the actual quote in The New Schaff-Herzog Religious Encyclopedia, Vol 10 p 135-136, says quite the opposite, when fully quoted (and when the word “later”, not present in the source, is removed):
“The connection of the Sabbath with the lunar phases, however, was discarded by the Israelites who did not worship the moon, and the weeks were accordingly divorced from the days of the months and were made to follow in succession throughout the year, a more regular correspondence with the week of Creation being thus secured...” (The New Schaff-Herzog Religious Encyclopedia, Vol 10 p 136 - viewable online at http://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/encyc10/Page_136.html).
Additionally, The New Schaff-Herzog Religious Encyclopedia, goes on to show that keeping the 8th, 15th, 22nd and 29th days of the lunar cycle as “holy days” comes from Babylonian paganism!
“...The fifteenth day of each month was the sabbath of the Babylonians. This day was reckoned that of the full moon, but since the Hebrew Sabbath was not connected with the full moon... and since the Babylonians had no week of seven days, the assumption that the Hebrews borrowed the Sabbath from the Babylonians lacks all foundation.”But, history does show that moon worship was practiced by the pagans in the time of ancient Israel. Historical records tell of a moon god named “Sin” (pronounced SEEN). The region of Sinai was named for this false “god”. The symbol of Sin was the crescent moon. And the holy days of this false god were determined by the moon (1st, 8th, 15th, etc.). Idols of Sin even show the crescent moon (New Moon) which is the symbol of this false god and the first of its “holy days”.
(ibid, p 135)
TEST #6: Is There Evidence to Show that “Saturday” is the Seventh-day Sabbath from Creation? - Messiah Himself disproves the charge that the Jews picked up Babylonian worship during their captivity which affected their Sabbath-keeping thereafter. As we have already addressed, Yahshua kept the same Sabbath as the Jews, most powerfully validating their worship on the 7th Day (“Saturday”).
Language is another form of historic evidence. Rooted deeply in antiquity, we can study the beginnings of most any culture through its language development.
So what exactly do ancient languages teach us on the subject of the Seventh-day Sabbath? Interestingly enough, the most ancient of all languages literally call Saturday - Sabbath. There are 108 different languages that refer to Saturday as “the Sabbath”. We will only look at a few of the many examples in the table on the right.
In Leviticus 23, all the Sabbaths (weekly and annual) are listed. The Seventh-day Sabbath is differentiated from the annual Sabbaths in how it is calculated. This is why the Seventh-day Sabbath is listed first, in verse 3.
Leviticus 23:4 marks the beginning of the annual Feast Sabbaths, all of which are different from the weekly Sabbath, in that they are “seasonal”: “These are the Feasts of Yahweh... which ye shall proclaim in their seasons.” Levitcus 23:4
Both the words “Feasts” and “Seasons” are Strong’s Number H4150. This reference is to the days which are calculated by the moon. The 7th Day is not determined by the moon, but the annual Sabbaths are:
“He appointed the moon for seasons...” Psalm 104:19
TEST #7: Evidence in the Pentecost Count - There is a powerful way to prove how the weekly Sabbath is calculated in the way Scripture tells us to count to Pentecost. There are four qualifiers which must be included in the Pentecost count. According to Leviticus 23:15-16, they are:
1)Pentecost, or the Feast of Weeks, is counted from First Fruits, which is the day after the weekly Sabbath which falls during the Week of Unleavened Bread.
2) From First Fruits, we must count seven Sabbaths. Since there are about 4 weekly Sabbaths in a month, the Pentecost count includes enough time to prove that the weekly Sabbath must always be the 7th Day of every week (New Moon time included).
3) The day after the seventh Sabbath is Pentecost.
4) Pentecost must be the 50th day from First Fruits.
Because the Lunisolar Sabbath isn’t a consistent seven day cycle, it can never meet all of the Pentecost requirements.
In other words, since calculating the Sabbath by the moon phases always makes an extra long week between the last moon phase of the last month and the first moon phase of the next month, a lunar Sabbath week is not consistently 7 days. The Pentecost count requires that all Sabbaths be consistently seventh-day Sabbaths.
In conclusion, for all these reasons the 7th Day Sabbath (“Saturday”), not the Lunisolar Sabbath, is still the Sabbath of Creation.