Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Daily Bible Reading - December 19, 2017

Today's Reading:

Colossians 2:20-3:17

Ezekiel 29-30

Isaiah 55

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Thoughts and Commentary on Today's Reading   

In Isaiah 55, we have reminder about the Promises and Word of Yahweh - which is more solid and permanent than stone.
Isaiah 55:11 "So shall My Word be that goeth forth out of My Mouth: it shall not return unto Me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it." 
Yahweh doesn't change His Mind (Malachi 3:6, Psalm 89:34). This is certainly comforting when we are claiming His Promises! And it is also safely stabilizing, when we are seeking true doctrine. The old ways (found in Torah) are still the right ways (Jeremiah 6:16).

As we draw to the end of the modern year, 2017, many of us face the challenge to determining the timing of the Feasts for the coming year. And - as in any doctrinal issue - the old ways of concluding and beginning the biblical year are still the right ways. 

What does Yahweh's Word say about the Calendar issue? At first, it seems exceedingly confusing - enough so, that there are several differing viewpoints on it, the main of which are listed below:

•  The year begins with the first new moon after the barley is “Abib” in Jerusalem.
•  The year begins with the new moon NEAREST the vernal equinox (this year that was March 20).

•  The year begins with the first new moon ON or AFTER the vernal equinox (tekufah).
So, which is it? Which one is Scripturally correct - the Word that does not alter?
To do our due dilligence in searching it out, we must start with a study of "Abib". 
The word "Abib" appears exactly four times in the Bible: Exodus 13:3-4, Exodus 23:15, Exodus 34:18, and Deuteronomy 16:1. In each instance, Abib is the name given to the first month of the year (which is the spring in the Northern hemisphere). Since we are commanded not to add to the Word, nor take anything away from it (Deuteronomy 4:2), we must notice that in none of these references does the Bible mention barley being in any stage of ripeness. According to these Scriptures, Abib is merely the Hebrew name of the first month of the biblical year.

Yet, many Feast-keeping groups are quite concerned with noting the ripeness of Jerusalem's barley, in order to determine if it is "abib." You see, if you're watching for barley, it won't be Joe's barley, or Susie's next door...  The only barley to be considered it Jerusalem's barley...  And that in itself should be a strong clue that this cannot be the original method for determining the start of the biblical year... The oldest ways, found in Scripture, are the right ways. 
So, how does the Bible say to calculate the Biblical year?

• 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.”
• From the New Jerusalem Bible:
• God said, "Let there be lights in the vault of heaven to divide day from night, and let them indicate festivals, days and years. (Genesis 1:14)
• From the New American Bible:
• Then God said: "Let there be lights in the dome of the sky, to separate day from night. Let them mark the fixed times, the days and the years, (Genesis 1:14)
• Psalm 104:19   “He appointed the moon for seasons...”
• Leviticus 23:4   “These are the feasts of Yahweh, even holy convocations, which ye shall proclaim in their seasons.”   
The word which is translated as "Feasts" in Leviticus 23 also appears in Genesis 1:14. Only in Genesis it is translated as "seasons". The original Hebrew word for both of these instances is "mo'ed", which is the Feasts of Yahweh. Clearly then, the appointed times of Yahweh were put in place at Creation, before sin. And the means of calculating them (creating a biblical calendar) was given as the "heavenly lights" - specifically, the moon (Psalm 104:19).

Determining the start of the Biblical year could not have been originally done with abib barley. Barley can only be a second witness, it can never be the primary determiner. This is because abib barley is dead grass- and there was none at Creation…   Also, long before Jerusalem was captured by David and made into the holy City, Yahweh’s people were keeping the Feasts. They were able to determine the timing of keeping the feasts entirely without Jerusalem barley at all.
During the flood, Noah was able to determine the first day of the year without consulting a barley harvest.

   Genesis 8:13 “And it came to pass in the six hundredth and first year, in the first month, the first day of the month, the waters were dried up from off the earth: and Noah removed the covering of the ark, and looked, and, behold, the face of the ground was dry.” 

Lot kept the feast of Unleavened Bread, feeding unleavened cakes to the angel visitors in Sodom (Genesis 19:3).

Joseph proclaimed the Feast of Trumpets in Egypt (Psalm 81:3-5).

The Children of Israel kept the Passover when they were delivered from Egypt (Exodus 12:11-12). And during the 40 years of wandering in the wilderness (a desert), Israel kept a careful record of the months and years without consulting the barley harvest in Canaan.

Remember, the oldest ways, found in Scripture, are the right ways. Yahweh appointed the Heavenly Lights for Seasons – Seasons is moedim – feasts. In other words, the timing of the annual Feasts is determined entirely by the heavenly lights. And barley, was given as a second witness, being part of First Fruits. But it was never the primary witness. As Isaiah told us in today's reading, God doesn't change. The heavens are still the primary timekeeper for determining the biblical calendar. 

So, in order to use the heavens to determine the biblical calendar, we need to know what heavenly event ends the prior year. Watching for this ending point, helps to bring us to the correct starting point for the subsequent year.

What heavenly event ends the Biblical year? The Scriptures tell us to end the year at the tekufah. Tekufah is a Hebrew Word which refers to the actual Vernal Equinox, in the spring. It is a heavenly event, because on the Tekufah day and night are of equal length (both being 12 hours). 
• "And it came to pass, after the year was expired (tekufah) , at the time when kings go forth to battle..." (2 Sam. 11:1 KJV).
• "In the spring of the year, the time when kings go forth to battle, ..." (Ibid., RSV)
• The end of the year was the Spring Tekufah.
Before we go any farther into explaining the tekufah, we need to address the subject of "spring", which presents a whole new complication...
So if the year begins and ends in the Spring, we immediately have a problem in creating a Biblical calendar. The northern and southern hemisphere are opposite in their seasons. So, when it is  spring in the Northern Hemisphere, it is fall in the southern. And when it is fall in the northern hemisphere, it is spring in the southern.

So, if you go by the Spring Tekufah in the Northern Hemisphere, Passover will be kept in April or May on a modern calendar. But, many of our dear brothers and sisters in Australia have wondered what they should do. April or May is fall in Australia and New Zealand. There spring is in September and October. So, if you live in the Southern Hemisphere, should you keep the Passover in September or October on a modern calendar?

That’s a good question. To answer this, I need to remind that the Feasts were started in Eden… This is not only significant for showing that the feasts pre-dated sin, it also shows the epicenter of Yahweh's heavenly time-clock, helping us to align with Heaven's prophetic clock.

As the Bible says, Eden was the home of Adam and Eve. And it was in Eden that the Feasts were first given – and mankind was first shown Yahweh’s heavenly time-clock. Now the Garden of Eden is no longer found on planet earth. But its former location can be found. And finding Eden’s location is a big part of aligning with Yahweh’s Heavenly Clock – from which we may determine the timing of the Feasts. So where was Eden located?

The site of the Garden of Eden was in the Middle East, situated somewhere near where the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers are today. This is based on the description of the rivers given in Genesis 2:8–14.

Using the rivers, Tigris and Euphrates, which Genesis tells us used to flow out of Eden, we may determine that Eden was found in this region.

That puts the former Garden of Eden in the red circled region, which is located in the Northern Hemisphere.
Is there any evidence to show that this region is still significant in the future?

Yes, In Zechariah 14:4, we find that when the New Jerusalem is brought down to Earth, Yahshua will stand upon the Mount of Olives, cleaving it, and it will become the site of the New Jerusalem on the earth made new, as the Bible tells us in Revelation 21-22. 

Zechariah 14:4  “And His Feet shall stand in that day upon the mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem on the east, and the mount of Olives shall cleave in the midst...”
Revelation 21:1-2 “And I saw a New Heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea. And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of Heaven…”

Not only will New Jerusalem stand upon the place - on the earth made new - that was the location of Eden on the former earth, but also, this will be the headquarters of Yahweh's Government. And to this place His people will gather to worship Him on His appointed times, into Eternity.

Isaiah 66:22-23 “For as the new heavens and the new earth, which I will make, shall remain before me, saith Yahweh, so shall your seed and your name remain. And it shall come to pass, that from one new moon to another, and from one Sabbath to another, shall all flesh come to worship before Me, saith Yahweh.” 

Just so we are totally clear about it, Scripture also tells us that we will be keeping Yahweh’s Sabbaths and New Moons according to the timing of His Clock – which will be fully aligned with the position of the New Jerusalem, in the Northern Hemisphere. 

So, when God first gave His Feasts at Creation – the timing of His Feasts would have been aligned with Eden in the Northern Hemisphere. And when the earth is made new, once again, God’s Clock for determining when to worship Him will be aligned with the position of New Jerusalem – which is again – the Northern Hemisphere.

I also find it notable that Yahweh has a pattern of fulfilling His prophetic events on His holy Days. And every fulfillment of a prophetic event has always fallen on a Feast Day - according to the timing in the Northern Hemisphere.

For example, according to Genesis 19:1-3, Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed during the Feast of Unleavened Bread - the timing of which aligned with the Northern Hemisphere (as Sodom and Gomorrah were in the Northern Hemisphere).

The Children of Israel were delivered from Egypt during Passover - when it was Passover in the Northern Hemisphere...

The armies of Egypt were destroyed in the Red Sea during the Feast of Unleavened Bread - when it was Unleavened Bread in the Northern Hemisphere...

Yahweh spoke His Torah from Mount Sinai on the Feast of Weeks - Pentecost - when it was Pentecost in the Northern Hemisphere...

Yahshua's Death on the Cross took place on Passover - when it was Passover in the Northern Hemisphere...

And I could go on...  Every prophetic event that has ever fulfilled a Feast, at any time - ever - has always taken place on the Feast according to the biblical calendar of the Northern HemisphereThis is where creation began and where God’s Government will one day be based in the New Jerusalem. 

Since every past fulfillment of God’s Prophecies has happened when it was the Feast in the Northern Hemisphere, I believe it is a safe conclusion that God’s Heavenly clock – which was established in Eden is still aligned with the timing in the Northern Hemisphere. I also believe that all future fulfillments will of prophecies will take place on God’s Feasts, in the timing of the Northern Hemisphere. 

For this reason, dear ones in the Southern Hemisphere, I believe that you need to keep your calendar aligned with the north. Passover should be following the Spring Tekufah in the Northern Hemisphere, even though it is fall in the Southern Hemisphere.

The ultimate purpose of a biblical calendar is to align mankind with God. We are bringing our understanding into alignment with His Heavenly Clock. And the Almighty started time in Eden. Heavenly Timing has continued from this point.

So, now that we've seen the calendar needs to be according to the spring of the year on the Northern Hemisphere, we next need to address which new moon is the beginning of the new Biblical year. To answer that, we must first see when the Bible tells us to end a Biblical year. Once we know when the prior Biblical year ends – we will know that the next new moon, following the year’s end, is the beginning of the next biblical year. So, when does the biblical year end? - As we already discussed, the end of the year comes at the tekufah:

• "And it came to pass, after the year was expired (tekufah) , at the time when kings go forth to battle..." (2 Sam. 11:1 KJV).
• "In the spring of the year, the time when kings go forth to battle, ..." (Ibid., RSV)
• The end of the year was the Spring Tekufah.
The Hebrew word Tekufah—in plural Tekufothliterally meaning "period or season, also, equinox or solstice, referring to the annual seasonal changes. The four Tekufoth are the month of Aviv/Nissan at the spring equinox… at the summer solstice… the autumnal equinox and… the winter solstice.” 

So, when is the tekufah of the spring? The original word was the Hebrew of the Vernal Equinox...  But the timing of the Vernal Equinox has been changed...  Originally Equinox meant "equal nights" - in other words, it was supposed to be the day when the hours of daylight matched the hours of night. On the date of this heavenly event, it was the tekufah
Actually, the infamous emperor Constantine changed the timing of the Vernal Equinox. Instead of being the day when the hours of dark and light were equal in length, they fixed the date to March 21, as is explained in the following quote:
“…The ecclesiastical rules that determine the date of Easter trace back to 325 CE at the First Council of Nicaea convened by the Roman Emperor Constantine… The Council decided to keep Easter on the same Sunday throughout the Christian world. To fix incontrovertibly the date for Easter, and to make it determinable indefinitely in advance, the Council constructed tables to compute the date…
The ecclesiastical rules are:
The vernal equinox occurs on March 21,
•Easter falls on the first Sunday following the first ecclesiastical full moon that occurs on or after the day of the vernal equinox.

The date of the actual Tekufah is March 17...  The times change depending on where you are located in the Northern Hemisphere, but the date is the same. For Oregon, the following sunrise and sunset chart makes it easy to see that March 17 is actually the day of the tekufah, when days and nights are of equal length:

By the way, this chart is for my timezone...  But you can look up your timezone also, and will find that the date of March 17 is right, even though the sunrise and sunset times may change, depending where you are... So now that we see when the biblical year ends – on the tekufah, which is March 17, let’s see when the next Biblical year begins. 
Exodus 12:2 “This month shall be unto you the beginning of months: it shall be the first month of the year to you.” 

When we look up the word “month” found in Exodus 12:2, we find that the primary meaning of “month” is “NEW MOON”. It only came to mean month, by implication. A month was the length of time from one new moon to another. But the primary meaning of chodesh isn’t month, its NEW MOON.

With this in mind, let’s look at how Exodus 12:2 was translated into English. Translators chose to translate chodesh as month in this text, but that isn’t the primary meaning. Let’s restore the primary meaning back to chodesh and translate this verse properly.

Which new moon are we talking about here? Since the biblical year ends on the spring tekufah – the day when day and night are equal in length – the new moon that starts the biblical year must be the new moon immediately after the spring tekufah.

This coming year, the first new moon of the year is going to be sightable on the evening of March 18, which means March 19 is the first day of the biblical year. 

And that is the old way, the way given in Genesis, to determine the timing of Yahweh's holy appointments. It is the way that goes all the way back through to the Garden of Eden. And it will continue to the time when Eden is restored. Truly, Yahweh doesn't change, nor alter the things that have gone out of His Lips.

Isaiah 55:11 "So shall My Word be that goeth forth out of My Mouth: it shall not return unto Me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it." 
Yahweh doesn't change His Mind (Malachi 3:6Psalm 89:34). This is certainly comforting when we are claiming His Promises! And it is also safely stabilizing, when we are seeking true doctrine. The old ways (found in Torah) are still the right ways (Jeremiah 6:16).