Hope of Israel Ministries (Ecclesia of YEHOVAH):
A New Look at the NEW MOON!
Should YEHOVAH's people today be concerned about observing the "New Moon" festivals? Were New Moons -- the first day of each Biblical month -- observed in ancient times? How were they observed by ancient Israel? What about in New Testament times? Will New Moons be observed in the Messianic Age, the World Tomorrow?
by HOIM Staff
We read an astounding thing in the book of Colossians, which thousands of YEHOVAH's people have overlooked, ignored, and misunderstood. In their attempt to refute the gainsaying and heresy of those who try to do away with YEHOVAH's laws and holy days, they have stumbled and overlooked a vital TRUTH!
Notice this remarkable passage! Paul writes, "So let no one judge you in food or in drink, or regarding a festival [margin, "FEAST DAY"] or a new moon or sabbaths, which are a shadow of things to come, but the substance [lit., "body"] is of Christ" (Colossians 2:16-17). The King James Version says in these verses: "Let no MAN, therefore, judge you in food, or in drink, or in respect of a feast day, or of the new moon, or of a sabbath day, which are a shadow of things to come; but the body is [note: these italics are not in the original, meaning the word "is" has been supplied by the translators and is not in the original Greek version] of Christ."
Let us notice three things in these verses. First, we are to allow no human being -- Gentile, or Jew, rabbi, or minister -- to "judge" us regarding these things, or to sit in judgment over us.
Secondly, these days -- festivals of YEHOVAH God, new moons, and sabbath days -- are (present tense, meaning they STILL EXIST and have not been done away or abolished!) "shadows" of things to come. That is, they all foreshadow and picture elements in YEHOVAH's plan, future events still to come. Therefore, they have great meaning and significance for us, today!
The fact that the weekly Sabbath day is a "shadow" of the millennial reign of YEHOVAH God and the Messiah, picturing the seventh "day" of YEHOVAH's seven-thousand year plan (see II Peter 3:8-10), is a wonderful truth, one we should appreciate as we "rest" every Sabbath day, as YEHOVAH God commands. This fact does not lessen the importance of the weekly Sabbath, but strengthens and magnifies it! And so it is with all the other holy days, which picture vital elements in the overall Plan of YEHOVAH God.
Thirdly, notice the last expression of this passage: "But the body (is) of Christ." What does this mean? If we take this whole passage together, it becomes clear. Paul says, "Let no man, therefore, judge you....but the body of Christ." If we leave out the "is" supplied by the translators, the passage becomes clear. It is the body of the Messiah that is to "judge" us -- that is, the true Church of YEHOVAH God, led by the divinely appointed servants of YEHOVAH God (apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, etc. -- see Ephesians 4:11-13 and I Corinthians 12:12-30), inspired and led by the holy spirit of YEHOVAH God (Romans 8:9-11, 16-17; compare also Hebrews 12:7, 17, I Peter 5:1-3).
The "body of Christ" means the Church, led by the ministers, who teach the word of YEHOVAH God, and explain it. As Paul writes, "And how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach, except they be sent? As it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!" (Romans 10:14-15). Therefore, it is the Church of YEHOVAH God, led by YEHOVAH's spirit, which leads us into "all truth" (John 16:13), which is to "judge" our actions and conduct regarding how we observe the holy days of YEHOVAH God, new moons, and sabbath days!
But in so doing, during the past fifty years or so, has the End-time "church of YEHOVAH God" been negligent? Have the ministers of YEHOVAH God overlooked, and ignored, vital truth and a command which YEHOVAH gives in these verses?
A New Look at the "New Moons"
Notice! Among the days the Church is to "judge" us in respect to is the subject of NEW MOONS! According to the original calendar YEHOVAH God gave His people, each month of the year is a lunar month and begins with a NEW MOON! In ancient Israel, every New Moon the trumpet was blown -- the shofar was sounded -- to call the people to celebrate and observe the New Moon, the beginning of the new month.
In ancient Israel, special sacrifices were offered on every New Moon, signifying the importance of the day to YEHOVAH's people. In the book of Numbers we read:
"And in the beginnings of your months ye shall offer a burnt offering unto the LORD; two young bullocks, and one ram, seven lambs of the first year without spot; and three tenth deals of flour for a meat [meal] offering, mingled with oil, for one bullock; and two tenth deals of flour for a meat [meal] offering for one ram; and a several tenth deal of flour mingled with oil for a meat [meal] offering unto one lamb; for a burnt offering of a sweet savour, a sacrifice made by fire unto the LORD.
"And their drink offerings shall be half an hin of wine unto a bullock, and the third part of an hin unto a ram, and a fourth part of an hin unto a lamb: this is the burnt offering OF EVERY MONTH [NEW MOON] throughout the months of the year.
"And one kid of the goats for a sin offering unto the LORD shall be offered, beside the continual burnt offering, and his drink offering" (Numbers 28:10-15).
The Custom in Ancient Israel
In ancient Israel, before the Exile to Babylon, the New Moons -- the first day of each month -- were observed as "minor festivals." Evidence for this is found in the account of David and Saul. Notice:
"And David said unto Jonathan, Behold, tomorrow is the NEW MOON [marginal reference, "A time of rejoicing"], and I should not fail to sit before the king at meat: but let me go, that I may hide myself in the field unto the third day at even.
"If thy father at all miss me, then say, David earnestly asked leave of me that he might run to Bethlehem, his city: for there is a yearly sacrifice [margin, "feast"] there for all the family" (I Samuel 20:5-6).
The word for "sacrifice" in this verse is zebah. Notice what Vine's Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words says about this word:
"The basic meaning of zebah is 'sacrifice.' When a 'sacrifice' had been slaughtered by the priest, he then offered it to God....The zebah was not like the burnt offering (olah), which was completely burnt on the altar; and it was unlike the sin offering (hatta't), where the meat was given to the priest, for most of the meat of the zebah was returned to the person who made the 'sacrifice.' The fat was poured on the altar (Lev.3:2). The person who made the zebah had to share the meat with the officiating priest (Exo. 29:28); Lev.7:31-35; Deut.18:3).
"In view of the fact that the people shared in the eating of the zebah, the 'sacrifice' became A COMMUNAL MEAL in which the LORD hosted His people....Apart from the sanctuaries, the Israelites also celebrated God's goodness together in their native villages. The story of Samuel gives several good illustrations of this custom (cf. I Sam. `9:13; 16:2-3)" (p. 210)."
In I Samuel 9:12 we read, "...he [Samuel the prophet] came today to the city; for there is a sacrifice of the people today in the high place: as soon as ye be come into the city, ye shall straightway find him, before he go up to the high place to eat: for the people will not eat until he come, because he doth bless the sacrifice; and afterwards they eat that be bidden" (I Samuel 9:12-13).
Each New Moon therefore, with its extra sacrifices, was regarded as a "mini-festival," not unlike the annual holy days of YEHOVAH God. Feasting and worshipping were part of the festivities. Says the Soncino Pentateuch & Haftorahs, "In Pre-Exilic times, the New Moon was celebrated as a minor Festival" (p. 695).
During the time of Elisha, the son of a woman died unexpectedly, and she asked for her husband to send for Elisha, the man of YEHOVAH God. He replied, "Wherefore wilt thou go to him today? it is neither new moon nor sabbath" (II Kings 4:23). This passage suggests that it was a custom in ancient Israel for people to visit YEHOVAH's prophet on the New Moons!
A Day of Worship and Rejoicing
Being a festive occasion, and a special time for worship, when the New Moon arrived trade, buying and selling, and handicraft work stopped, and the Temple was opened for public worship services.
We read in the book of Amos that YEHOVAH God says to His people:
"Hear this, O ye that swallow up the needy, even to make the poor of the land to fail, saying, When will the New Moon be gone, that we may sell corn? and the sabbath, that we may set forth wheat, making the ephah small, and the shekel great, and falsifying the balances by deceit?" (Amos 8:4-5).
On the New Moons, the trumpets were blown at the offering of the special sacrifices of the day. YEHOVAH commanded Israel, "Also in the day of your gladness, and in your solemn days, and in the beginnings of your months [New Moons], ye shall BLOW WITH THE TRUMPETS over your burnt offerings, and over your sacrifices of your peace [fellowship] offerings; that they may be to you for a MEMORIAL before your God: I am the LORD thy God" (Numbers 10:10).
Notice that the New Moon is listed right along with the annual Holy Days, the days of "gladness" and "solemn days." The Hebrew word for "solemn" here does not mean stern, foreboding, grave, or serious-minded, but rather "festive," "feast day." It is the Hebrew word moed, meaning "an appointment, i.e., a fixed time or season, spec. a festival, by implication, an assembly."
Although there is no Scriptural commandment in the Torah designating the New Moons as a day in which work was forbidden, as it was on the weekly Sabbath, and to a lesser extent on the annual Holy Days, nevertheless, since it is listed right along with the Holy Days as a day of worship and blowing of trumpets, and was a day to assemble for the special sacrifices of that day. In ancient Israel most labor and business activities ceased on the New Moons.
Almighty God says, in His Word:
"SING ALOUD unto God our strength; make a JOYFUL NOISE unto the God of Jacob. Take a psalm, and bring hither the timbrel, the pleasant harp with the psaltery. Blow up the TRUMPET in the NEW MOON, in the time appointed, on our solemn feast day. For this was a STATUTE for Israel, and a LAW of the God of Jacob" (Psalm 83:1-4).
This reference to the NEW MOON is very significant. Although we know that the only Holy Day that falls on a New Moon is Rosh Hashanah, the first day of the seventh month, Tishri, which is also called Yom Teruah, the "day of blowing" of trumpets, nevertheless, the trumpets were also commanded to be blown on EVERY New Moon throughout the year, marking each New Moon as a festive and joyous occasion!
Says Peloublet's Bible Dictionary:
"The mentions of the new moons shows that they were regarded as a peculiar class of holy days, distinguished from the solemn feasts and the Sabbaths. I Chron.23:31; II Chron.2:4; 8:13;31:3; Ezra 3:5; Neh.10:33; Ezek.45:17" ("New Moon," p. 445).
The New Moons were celebrated with special rites on the first day of each lunar month, in ancient times, as part of the worship due to YEHOVAH God by His people. They were highly regarded and observed by family get-togethers, communal meals, and community sacrifices. The people would enjoy them, with a fellowship meal, with eating and drinking and fellowshipping before YEHOVAH God. There would be singing of hymns, and spiritual songs, and songs of praise and worship.
But what about in the future? The fact is, Biblical prophecy also indicates that New Moons will be observed during the Messianic era -- during the 1,000 year reign of YEHOVAH God and the Messiah!
New Moons To Be Observed in the Kingdom of YEHOVAH God
In the prophecies regarding the Temple services which will be re-instituted during the Messianic Age, we read in Ezekiel:
"...the people of the land shall give this oblation for the prince in Israel. And it shall be the prince's part to give burnt offerings, and meat [meal] offerings, and drink offerings, in the feasts, AND IN THE NEW MOONS, and in the sabbaths, in all solemnities of the house of Israel..." (Ezekiel 45:16-17).
"Thus saith the LORD GOD; The gate of the inner court that looketh toward the east shall be shut the six working days; but on the sabbath it shall be opened, and in the day of the NEW MOON it shall be opened. And the prince shall enter by way of the porch of that gate without, and shall stand by the post of the gate, and the priests shall prepare his burnt offering and his peace offerings., and he shall worship at the threshold of the gate: then he shall go forth; but the gate shall not be shut until the evening.
"Likewise the people of the land shall WORSHIP at the door of this gate before the LORD in the SABBATHS and IN THE NEW MOONS" (Ezekiel 46:1-3).
Notice! During the Millennial Reign of YEHOVAH God and the Messiah, there will be WORSHIP SERVICES ordained for all the people -- all Israel! They will worship YEHOVAH God ON THE NEW MOONS!
In fact, a prophecy in the book of Isaiah makes the truth even plainer. Not only al Israel, but ALL MANKIND will worship YEHOVAH God during the Millennial Reign of YEHOVAH God and the Messiah, the Messiah, "from New Moon to New Moon"!
"...as the new heavens and the new earth, which I will make, shall remain before me, saith the LORD, 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 THE LORD" (Isaiah 66:23-24).
Clearly, the New Moon observances and celebrations are very important, in YEHOVAH's plan, and in His eyes. But among the people of YEHOVAH God the remembrance and observance of the New Moons of YEHOVAH God has fallen into disuse, and disregard. The end-time churches of YEHOVAH God by and large totally neglect and ignore worshipping YEHOVAH on the New Moons!
Is this one reason why most professing people of YEHOVAH God, today, are SORELY LACKING in SPIRITUAL POWER, FAITH, and dynamic spiritual IMPACT in their lives?
A New Perspective on New Moons
Says Hastings Dictionary of the Bible, an authoritative, multi-volume work:
"The celebration of the New Moon belongs to the most ancient of Hebrew rites...Lagarde held that the generic Heb. term for `joyous praise' was derived from an old name of the New Moon...In the time of the earlier prophets, the New Moon stood in the same line with another lunar observance, the Sabbath. No work or business was attended to on either day (Amos 8:5). Hosea (2:11) speaks of the feasts, the New Moons, the Sabbaths, and festival assemblies as passing away with the national independence; and a similar connection between the New Moons and the other solemn days is found is Isaiah 1:13.
"Just as the New Moon occupies a prominent place with the prophets, so does it with Ezekiel and in the Levitical legislation. Ezekiel, who curiously enough frequently dates his prophecies on the New Moon (26:1, 29:17, 31:1, 32:1, cf. Hag.1:1), describes the gate of the inner court of the temple looking eastwards as kept shut for the six working days, but opened on the Sabbath and New Moon (Ezek. 46:1). The prince, besides making special arrangements for the great New Moons of the first and seventh months (this is the probable meaning of Ezek. 45: 18-20), was also to provide offerings for ordinary New Moons (Ezek.46:10-7). The gate was open till the evening, and while the people stood without the prince was allowed to stand by the threshold. According to Ezekiel (46:6), the New Moon offerings consisted of a young bullock, six lambs, and a ram without blemish (the Sabbath burnt-offering was less, v.4), as burnt-offerings; an ephah for the bullock and for each ram, a handful of flour for each lamb, and a hin of oil to an ephah as a meal-offering (vs.7-8). In Numbers 28:11 the burnt-offering consisted of two young bullocks, one ram, and seven he-lambs of the first year without blemish; fine flour, oil and wine carefully proportioned (vs.12-14), and a he-goat as a sin- offering (v.15). The offerings here, as in Ezekiel, are more important than for the Sabbath (Num. 28:9-10). An additional detail is added in Numbers 10:10, where the law ordains that `in the days of your gladness, and in your set feasts, and in the beginnings of your months' the two silver trumpets were to be sounded during the sacrificial rites as a `memorial before your God.' Some authorities have held that Psalm 81:3, `Blow up the trumpet in the New Moon, at the full moon, on our solemn feast day,' refers to the ordinary New Moon...But the LXX...omits "every.' The Targum refers the passage solely to the New Moon of the seventh month (Lev. 23:24); and this, the traditional Jewish view, has been adopted by modern commentators" ("New Moon," vol. 3, page 521-522).
The Encyclopedia Judaica says regarding the observance of New Moons:
"The Torah placed its observance ON A PAR WITH the observance of the festivals, declaring, 'Also in the day of your gladness, and in your appointed seasons, AND IN YOUR NEW MOONS, ye shall blow with your trumpets over your burnt offerings....' (Numbers 10:10). A special Musaf sacrifice was ordained for the day (Num. 28:11-15). The Bible mentions various practices observed on it, including festive MEALS...abstention from business transactions (Amos 8:5), and the practice of visiting the prophet (II Kings 4:23). When foretelling the chastisements that will come upon the Jewish people, Hosea says that the joys of the New Moon will cease (Hos. 2:13). The redemption is viewed as a time when 'from one new moon to another, and from one sabbath to another, shall all flesh come to worship before Me saith the Lord' (Isa. 66:23)" ("New Moon," vol. 12, p. 1039).
Clearly, the New Moons were very important in ancient Israel. Judging by the sacrifices offered on them, they were uniquely important, requiring more sacrifices than the weekly Sabbath. The prophet Amos says, "Hear this, you who swallow up the needy, and make the poor of the land fall, saying, `When will the New Moon be past, that we may sell grain? And the Sabbath, that we may trade wheat?'" Thus commercial activity ceased on this day (Amos 8:4-5). Although the New Moons were not Sabbath days in which no work was permitted, the people of YEHOVAH God did not go about their normal occupations of buying and selling on that day.
Because of the sins of His people, YEHOVAH warns in the prophecies of Hosea, that He will punish Israel (Hosea 2:2-10), saying, "I will also cause all her MIRTH to cease, Her feast says, her New Moons, her Sabbaths -- all her appointed feasts" (v. 11).
Truly, Israel forgot all these wonder observances of the Law of YEHOVAH God when she went into exile and captivity in 718-721 B.C., and to this very day, most of modern Israel neglects all these holy days and festivals of YEHOVAH God!
In Isaiah 1:14, YEHOVAH tells His people Israel, who have forsaken Him (Isaiah 1:4, 10), "When you come to appear before Me, who has required this from your hand, to trample My courts? Bring no more futile sacrifices; incense is an abomination to Me. The New Moons, the Sabbaths, and the calling of assemblies -- I cannot endure iniquity and the sacred meeting. Your New Moons, and your appointed feasts My soul hates; they are a trouble to Me, I am weary of bearing them" (Isaiah 1:12-14).
Why was YEHOVAH God so upset? Because of their hypocrisy and iniquity! They professed to worship Him, but they twisted and distorted and subverted His Holy Days, Sabbaths, and New Moons! Today, most people don't regard these days of YEHOVAH God as of any importance whatsoever. Instead, they celebrate the world's pagan holidays of "Christmas" (the ancient Roman Saturnalia, all dressed up as to appear "Christian"!), Easter (whose very name is that of a pagan sex goddess of spring and fertility), and "Halloween" (a day of demonic revelry and wickedness).
What must YEHOVAH God think of modern Jews and Christians alike who neglect and ignore His Holy Days, Sabbaths, and New Moons?
Yet, notice that these Scriptures all place the New Moons on a par with the annual festivals, as observances of YEHOVAH God! They were celebrated in ancient Israel, at the Temple, and will be celebrated in the Temple in the Kingdom of YEHOVAH God.
Hastings goes on to comment on the observance of the New Moons in Israel:
"As to the manner in which the New Moon was observed, there were other features besides the sacrifices. There was no `solemn convocation' on the New Moon, but it is usually inferred from II Kings 4:23 that visits were paid to the prophets on that day....The New Moon was apparently the time for changing David's officials, according to I Chron.27:1. It is not easy to gather the full significance of the incident related in I Samuel 20:5. David evidently refers to a FAMILY FEAST ON THE NEW MOON, but it is not clear that the king had a special feast on that day" (p. 522).
During Christian times, Hastings points out, the observance of New Moons ceased among the vast "Christian" church. Its observance fell into disuse, in the church which began to avoid all things "Jewish." However, the Jews continued its observance.
"Fasting was avoided on the New Moon (Judith 8:6). The observance of the New Moon fell into disuse in the Christian communities (Col. 2:16). In the medieval Jewish circles the New Moon, however, retained its importance. Women did not work, fasting was prohibited, and in the synagogue liturgy many special features were introduced. On the Sabbath before the New Moon the event was publicly announced, on the day itself a reading from the law (Num. 28:1-15) was introduced, special Psalms (forming part of the Hallel, Psalm 113-118) were chanted, and other liturgical passages were added. These are retained in the modern synagogue" (ibid.).
How, then, should true Christians, desiring to obey YEHOVAH God and to keep His commandments, handle the question of observing the New Moon?
The New Moons and Christian Observance
New Moons, of course, are the first day of each month of YEHOVAH's sacred calendar. This passage of Scripture in Colossians 2:16 definitely connects them with observance of the annual holy days, YEHOVAH's festivals, and the weekly Sabbath! Although we are commanded not to allow any "MAN" to sit in judgment of us as to how we observe the New Moons -- such as pastors, ministers, rabbis, or neighbors -- we are to remember that Almighty GOD is our Judge, and we are to seek to please HIM in everything we do!
As Paul wrote, "Whether ye eat or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do ALL to the glory of God" (I Corinthians 10:31).
Paul also wrote, "For do I now persuade men, or God? or do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ" (Galatians 1:10).
Paul also reminds us, "...for we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ. For it is written, As I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God. So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God" (Romans 14:10-12).
What about New Moons? Clearly, they are a BIBLICAL INSTITUTION! They were ordained by YEHOVAH God, and they will last FOREVER -- so long as the days, months, and years, last! As YEHOVAH God said of David's descendants, "My covenant will I not break, nor alter the thing that has gone out of my lips. Once I have sworn by my holiness that I will not lie unto David. His seed shall endure for ever, and his throne as the sun before me. It shall be established FOREVER AS THE MOON, and as a faithful witness in heaven. Selah" (Psalm 89:34-37).
Since the MOON is established "forever," it follows logically that the NEW MOONS also are ordained and established forever!
As YEHOVAH's people, then, we ought to be celebrating them every month, when the New Moon comes!
What About the Example of the Messiah and the Apostles?
What example did Yeshua the Messiah and the apostles set for us, concerning the New Moons?
Although there is no specific mention of New Moons in the Gospels, nevertheless, we can know that the Messiah both observed them and taught his followers to do so. The New Moons were ordained by YEHOVAH God as a statute forever, as part of His holy calendar. And the Messiah himself taught, "Think NOT that I am come to destroy the law or the prophets: I am not come to destroy [or do away with, abolish, or abrogate or rescind!], but to fulfill [i.e., fill up to the brim!]:" (Matthew 5:17).
Notice! The Messiah -- Yeshua our Saviour -- went on, saying, "For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, ONE JOT OR ONE TITTLE shall in NO WISE pass from this law till all be fulfilled. Whosoever therefore that shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall DO and TEACH them shall be called GREAT in the kingdom of heaven" (Matthew 5:18-19).
Yeshua the Messiah and the apostles and early Church observed the New Moons. James, the brother of the Messiah, and the apostle in charge of the Jerusalem Church, told Paul when he visited Jerusalem, circa A.D. 60, that the Church of YEHOVAH God was very zealous to obey YEHOVAH's Law -- the Torah. This would include the New Moon ceremonies and services. Notice! James said:
"Thou seest, brother, how many thousands [Greek, myriads, meaning, literally, tens of thousands) of Jews there are which believe: and they are all ZEALOUS OF THE LAW [that is, the Law of YEHOVAH God, or the Torah]..." (Acts 21:20).
Paul himself later witnessed to the Jewish leaders in the Sanhedrin,
"I am verily a man which am a Jew, born in Tarsus, a city in Cilicia, and brought up at the feet of GAMALIEL, and taught according to the PERFECT MANNER OF THE LAW OF THE FATHERS, and was zealous toward God, as ye all are this day" (Acts 22:3).
Later, in Rome, Paul witnessed to the Judahite leaders in a similar fashion, saying, "Men and brethren, though I have committed nothing against the people or customs of our fathers, yet was I delivered prisoner from Jerusalem into the hands of the Romans" (Acts 28:17).
As followers of the Messiah, and the early church, therefore, should we not also highly regard YEHOVAH's Law, and obedience to YEHOVAH God's Laws, handed down by our forefathers? Should we not also highly regard the New Moon observances of the Biblical, Hebrew calendar?
By all means! As Paul also wrote, "For not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the DOERS of the law shall be justified" (Romans 2:13). He added, "Do we then make void the law through faith? GOD FORBID! Yea, we establish the law" (Romans 3:31).
Observing the NEW MOONS Today
True Christians, then, should observe these days, and to keep them in remembrance, in a fashion that would be approved and pleasing in the sight of YEHOVAH God.
Therefore, we should be "observing" or "marking" the passage of each New Moon -- that is, we should be observing time in accordance with YEHOVAH's sacred calendar, and keep track of each New Moon (new month) as YEHOVAH God counts time -- not as the Roman and Gentile world does. And we should hold a memorial observance, as they did in ancient Israel -- such as a family dinner, with appropriate Bible readings and study, together with a sumptuous meal, whenever possible -- on the New Moons, with singing of psalms and spiritual songs and songs of praise to the LORD.
It would certainly be appropriate to hold a "Kiddush" -- the wine and bread ceremony which the Messiah held with his disciples at the "Last Supper" -- as part of the festivities connected with the fellowship or communal meal served on the New Moons. The "Kiddush" goes at least back to the time of Abraham and Melchizedek (see Genesis 14:18-20). Write for our article on the "Kiddush," if you have never participated in one and desire to know how to hold one.
Let's notice this verse in Colossians again, as it is our only reference to the New Moons found in the New Testament. Notice several things about this verse: We are to allow NO MAN to judge us in respect to HOW we observe these things, including the New Moons. That would mean, we should allow religious official, neighbor, Gentile or even a Jewish person to judge us or condemn us for observing them, or how we observe them.
Obviously, the professing Christian/pagan Churches, masquerading as Churches of YEHOVAH God, don't observe the New Moons at all, and would tend to condemn us for observing them, calling us "Jewish.". Jews, on the other hand, might tend to judge us as to "how" we observe them -- do we go to synagogue, or recite Jewish ritual prayers on the New Moon?
Clearly we should observe them in a fitting manner, in a way pleasing to YEHOVAH God -- not man. We don't need to become "Orthodox Jews" or "Ultra-orthodox" in order to obey YEHOVAH God, and celebrate His New Moons in a godly and holy manner. We don't need to adhere to various "traditions of men" which have been added to the traditional Jewish rabbinical observance of these days. The Messiah clearly warned us to avoid the "traditions of men" which often in effect nullify YEHOVAH's Law (see Matthew 15; Mark 7). The various rabbinic accretions added to the original Torah -- the many "do's and don'ts" added in the Mishnah and through rabbinic halackha or "rules" -- are not necessary. As Peter told the disciples at the Church conference in Acts, chapter 15, "Now therefore why tempt ye God, to put a yoke upon the neck of the disciples, which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear?" (Acts 15:10).
It is clear from the Scriptures that the New Moons are not commanded holy days of YEHOVAH God or "sabbaths," nor are they "commanded convocations." Therefore it is not necessary for us today to hold regular religious worship meetings on these days, as we do on Sabbath days. Nor are we commanded to "rest" or "cease from all work" on them, either. The New Moons are not Sabbath days. However, they are days which should be given special attention, and celebrated, and normal routine work minimized when and where possible.
A Festive Family Meal
How, then, should we observe them?
One of the main things we can do to observe each New Moon, today, is to hold a family feast, or festive dinner. It would be good to have an introduction, and Bible readings for the occasion, and ask a special blessing on the evening and the day.
At the special dinner prepared for the New Moon celebration, it would be all right to recite the blessing thanking YEHOVAH God for the lights, and then thank YEHOVAH for His laws, which set us apart from the world, including His laws about the observance of the New Moons. We should also ask YEHOVAH's special blessing on our families, children, friends and relatives, and not forget to ask His blessing on His Church, His Work, and to pray for His soon coming of His Kingdom with the Messiah ruling over Israel.
We should then enjoy the banquet, feast, and blessings of the table YEHOVAH God has provided for us. We should sing hymns of worship and praise, also, before the evening is concluded.
On the New Moon, we in our home often have a special meal, beginning with the special "bread and wine" ceremony that the Messiah instructed us concerning at his Last Supper. At that supper, he used artos, regular leavened bread, as a symbol of his body. This bread would have been similar to the modern Jewish Sabbath bread, or "challah." This tradition of the bread and wine goes back to the time of Abraham and Melchisedek, at least (Genesis 14:18-20).
This is called the "Kiddush." We should use this as an opportunity to remember the Messiah, as we break the bread, praying over it, as he is our "bread of life" (John 6:48-51). We should eat it, remembering his broken body, given for us (Matthew 26:26; Mark 14:22; Luke 22:19; I Corinthians 11:24). We should then partake of the wine, symbolizing his shed blood in our behalf, the blood of our Messiah, Saviour, Redeemer, Elder Brother and Friend (Matthew 26:27-28; Mark 14:23-24; Luke 22:17-18, 20; I Corinthians 11:25-30).
At this New Moon celebration meal, also, it would be good for us to make a special point to regularly pray as Paul declared: "Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of THANKS be made for all men, for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth" (I Timothy 2:1-3).
YEHOVAH God has given us the "New Moons" to help us mark the passage of time. They are intimately involved with His holy calendar. As David wrote, "My times are in Thy hands" (Psalm 31:15). Also, YEHOVAH instructs us: "For a thousand years in Your sight are like yesterday when it is past, and like a watch in the night" (Psalm 90:4). The Psalmist goes on: "So TEACH US to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom" (verse 12).
Observing the New Moons helps us to "number our days" according to YEHOVAH's calendar and system of time-keeping, as opposed to the pagan Roman calendar! It helps us to think in terms of YEHOVAH's calendar, and in relation to HIS time-table for our lives!
New Moons -- An Official Time to Worship
YEHOVAH God tells us through Isaiah the prophet that during the days of YEHOVAH's Kingdom on earth, when the Temple of YEHOVAH God is restored, "And it shall come to pass that from one New Moon to another, and from one Sabbath to another, ALL FLESH shall come to worship before Me, says the LORD" (Isaiah 66:23).
Obviously, New Moons will be observed and celebrated during the Kingdom of YEHOVAH God, with people coming up to Jerusalem, to the Temple, to worship before the LORD.
How to Determine the New Moon
Unfortunately, in the fourth century A.D., the rabbis of Babylonia polluted YEHOVAH’s sacred calendar by introducing the continuous week and postponements to prevent certain days from clashing with the Saturday sabbath which they had created. When Hillel II introduced these changes, not all of the religious leaders of the Jews went along with it. In fact, a large number of the leaders continued to observe the new moons by observation -- as was done in Yeshua’s day.
In the book Saadia Gaon: His Life and Works, by Henry Malter, we read --
"It is generally accepted that the Jewish festivals were, in Biblical times, fixed by observation of both the sun and the moon. Gradually, certain astronomical rules were also brought into requisition, primarily as a test, corroborating or refuting the testimony of observation. Such rules are mentioned for the first time in the Book of Enoch, in the Book of Jubilees, in the Mishna, and later in the two Talmudim [Babylonian and Jerusalem]. It has been authoritatively proved that in spite of a more advanced knowledge of astronomy the practice of fixing the new moon and the festivals by observation was in force as late as the latter part of the fifth century [A.D.]."
"The right to announce the new moon after receiving and testing the witnesses who had observed its appearance was the prerogative of the Palestinian Patriarchs, and the repeated attempts of the authorities in Babylonia to arrogate this right unto themselves were promptly frustrated by interdicts from Palestine. With the beginning of the fourth century, however, Palestine, owing to the terrible persecutions suffered at the hands of the Romans, gradually ceased to be the spiritual center of Jewry. Babylonia, where better conditions prevailed under the Persian rule, took its place, and the religious right to fix the calendar likewise passed over to the heads of its flourishing academies, though not without protests from Palestine."
Malter clearly shows that the observation of the New Moons continued way past the time that Hillel II introduced the written calendar --
"In Babylonia also, the practice of observation was continued until the time of the last Amoraim, although a practical system of reckoning had been known to scholars for more than a century. It was only after the close of the Babylonian Talmud, in the sixth or perhaps later, in the seventh century, that the observation of the moon was entirely given up, and a complete and final system of calendation introduced. This was adopted by all the Jews of the Diaspora, and has been accepted as binding down to the present day."
With the obvious polluting of YEHOVAH’s sacred calendar by Hillel II and the rabbis of his sect, the present Jewish calendar cannot be trusted in the determination of YEHOVAH’s Holy Days and Sabbaths. So where does this leave us? Back to the Bible! Even though the Bible doesn’t go into great detail about the calendar, it does give us valuable information we can use to correctly determine the New Moons.
If you study the gospel accounts of Yeshua’s life one thing stands out above all others -- he never once upbraided or corrected the Jews of his day regarding the observance of the Feast Days or the Sabbaths. He kept the Passover and Feast of Tabernacles at the same time as everyone else -- “On the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, ‘If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink’” (John 7:37).
Notes Ronald L. Dart --
We don’t know what they [the Seventy Elders] did about the calendar, but we do know that the rules and observations of the calendar were, in the days of Jesus’ ministry, in the hands of the Sanhedrin. We also know that in spite of all the issues where Jesus opposed the Jewish leadership, He never argued with them about the calendar.
Getting Back to the "Faith Once Delivered"
The Messiah said he did not come to abolish YEHOVAH's Law, but to fulfill it -- to fill it to the brim, to magnify it and make it to "run over" (Matthew 5:17). He also said, "Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called LEAST in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever DOES and TEACHES them, he shall be called GREAT in the kingdom of heaven" (Matthew5:19). Do you want to be LEAST in the Kingdom? Or do you want to be considered GREAT in the kingdom?
Most, if not all, of the End-time churches of YEHOVAH God have seriously neglected and ignored the celebration of the New Moons which YEHOVAH God ordained. As part of restoring the truth of YEHOVAH God, and His laws and observances, we need to begin observing these days as YEHOVAH Himself commands. The apostle Jude exhorts us, saying, "Beloved, when I gave diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should EARNESTLY CONTEND for the faith ONCE DELIVERED unto the saints" (Jude 3-4).
YEHOVAH's New Moons are important. If we observe them, properly, He will surely bless us, and shelter us from the storm coming upon the disobedient. If we observe them properly, they will add a special dimension of joy and peace, and spiritual POWER in our lives. As Malachi declared: "Then they that feared the LORD spake often one to another: and the LORD hearkened, and heard it, and a book of remembrance was written before him for them that feared the LORD, and that thought upon his name. And they shall be mine, saith the LORD of hosts, in that day when I make up my jewels; and I will spare them, as a man spareth his own son that serveth him" (Malachi 3:16-17).
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