Hope of Israel Ministries (Ecclesia of YEHOVAH):
Sabbath Truth Postponed
We know the postponements have caused us to observe the annual Sabbaths on the wrong days! Is it impossible that we can have no error in the timing of our weekly Sabbath? Who, in the face of this evidence, can hide his head in the sand and deny even the possibility that we and the Jews could be wrong about Saturday? The postponements are clear evidence of this perversion and their true origin, perhaps more than any other single proof, drives the final nail in the coffin of the pagan Saturday Sabbath!
by Darren W. Clarke
What is the true origin of the postponements introduced by Hillel II in 359 CE? It is an issue that has been debated among the Churches of God for some time and, while the technical basis for their institution is well documented the question remains, why then? Why, in the 4th century CE, was it deemed necessary to sometimes skew the calendar by one or two days resulting in a complete realignment of all of the annual Holy Days? By what authority was the timing of YEHOVAH's Holy Days changed? What truth stands undiscovered behind the screen of lengthy technical regulations upon which the postponements are based?
Coincidentally, during the preparation for this article, I consulted an excellent article to which I would refer all readers, entitled New Truth About the Calendar Postponements. In the article the author makes the case quite plain that the postponements added by Hillel II in 359 AD cannot be sanctioned under the umbrella of the "oracles of God." Rather than duplicate his fine work or quote extensively from it I will simply build upon those conclusions by attempting to get at the underlying reason for the introduction of the postponements.
The rules which govern the administration of the postponements show that the first rule was to prevent any inconvenient arrangement of certain annual Holy Days and the weekly Sabbath. The remaining three rules, in a fashion typical of Pharisaical legalism, change the new year depending on what fraction of a day had passed before the new moon conjunction, the Molad Tishri, had occurred.
Arthur Spier in The Comprehensive Hebrew Calendar:
These are the four Dehioth (postponements):
a. When the Molad Tishri occurs on a Sunday, Wednesday, or Friday, Rosh Hashanah is postponed to the following day.
b. When the Molad Tishri occurs at noon (18h) or later, Rosh Hashanah is postponed to the next day. (Or if this day is a Sunday, Wednesday or Friday, to Monday, Thursday or Sabbath because of Dehiah a.)
c. When the Molad Tishri of a common year falls on Tuesday, 204 parts after 3 A.M., i.e., 3d 9h 204p or later, Rosh Hashanah is postponed to Wednesday, and, because of Dehiah a., further postponed to Thursday.
d. When, in a common year succeeding a leap year, the Molad Tishri occurs on Monday morning 589 parts after 9 A.M., i.e., 2d 15h 589p or later, Rosh Hashanah is postponed to the next day.
Dehiah a mainly fulfills the following three religious requirements: Yom Kippur (Tishri 10) shall not occur on the day before or after the Sabbath and Hoshana Rabbah (Tishri 21) shall not occur on the Sabbath.
As has been pointed out, there is no human authority to change the appointed times of YEHOVAH God. This is holy time that He has set aside and only He can sanctify it. Adding or subtracting from His Word is a serious offence and we ought to carefully consider any man-made regulations no matter the source. Postponements are a scheme designed for one overriding purpose: to try to make the Sabbaths less of a burden. Is the Sabbath a burden? The Word of YEHOVAH God says it is not!
Mark 2:27-28: And he said unto them, The sabbath was made for man, and not man for the sabbath: Therefore the Son of man is Lord also of the sabbath.
Matthew 11:28-30: Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.
Matthew 23:1-4: Then spake Jesus to the multitude, and to his disciples, Saying, The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses' seat: All therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do; but do not ye after their works: for they say, and do not. For they bind heavy burdens and grievous to be borne, and lay them on men's shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers.
It was the Pharisees who made the Sabbath a burden in the first place. It is not surprising then that they should devise still more regulations to try to make their other additions to the Sabbath workable. This is clearly man's work, not YEHOVAH's. Man continually tries to improve upon and perfect YEHOVAH's already perfect designs. We have ample evidence of this throughout human history. Indeed, no time has been more defined by these "improvements" as our very own today. But as students of YEHOVAH's ways know, almost every so-called advance man makes is made at our own peril. The Sabbath has not been overlooked in this self-righteous desire to improve upon YEHOVAH God's plan and to assume its interpretation and administration unto ourselves. The Sabbath, as a cornerstone of YEHOVAH's plan for mankind and a test commandment for His people, has been attacked and distorted in the most diabolical ways. What could be more critical for Satan to shroud in deception than the day in which YEHOVAH God established His very presence!
We have one obvious perversion of the calendar in the reassignment of the date of the new year itself. The Jewish calendar holds Rosh Hashannah, Tishri 1, as the beginning of months. YEHOVAH's Word establishes the new year in the spring, in the month the Jews now call by its Babylonian name Nissan but was originally known as Abib:
Exodus 12:2: This month (Abib) shall be to you the beginning of months: it shall be the first month of the year to you.
I don't know of any clearer evidence that this calendar oracle, while faithfully preserved in Biblical text, has certainly not been preserved in deed. We must differentiate, as the Messiah himself did, between what is preserved in writings and what is practiced. The oracles, or as Strong's definitions have them, the utterances of YEHOVAH God, have been preserved by the Jews as it is written in Romans 3:1-2. The practical application of those oracles however cannot be taken at face value and assumed to have divine sanction based on this scripture when the Messiah himself declared otherwise!
If we agree with the conclusions about the postponements, and I certainly do, then we should probe further and ask why, after more than 4000 years, was the sacred calendar of annual and weekly Sabbaths no longer deemed workable without tampering with the timing of the annual Sabbaths as they relate to the weekly Sabbaths? Postponements were not in effect at the time of the Messiah and there is no mention of any such calendar conflicts up to then. Only after the Jews had been in Babylonian exile for about 290 years was YEHOVAH God's Holy Calendar found wanting. Surely there must be more here than meets the eye. Can we really just accept that after 4000+ years of harmonious annual and weekly Sabbaths juggling the dates just seemed like a good idea whose time had come? To make this assumption is, I believe, very dangerous indeed. Let's look a little more closely at the events of the 4th century AD for clues.
Were there any other significant calendar changes in Babylon during this period? History records that in 321 AD Emperor Constantine abolished the previous eight day Roman week and established the modern Roman seven day week that we continue to observe today. This week was based on the then seven known "planets": Sun, Mercury, Moon, Mars, Venus, Jupiter and Saturn. In addition to reducing the number of the days in the week from 8 to 7, he also made the counting of weeks perpetual. Whereas the eight day week was repeated without breaks until the new year's day when it started over at day 1, the modern seven day week would form an unbroken chain in perpetuity beginning in 321 AD. Is it mere coincidence that one generation after the introduction of a new system of weeks that the Jews in Babylon found it necessary to refine YEHOVAH's calendar? We can look to our own time to see that significant shifts in weights and measures, calendars and even moral attitudes take about a generation to take firm hold and become standard practice. We do not need to be students of history to understand that principle and, human nature being what it is, we can count on the fact that it was no different in the 4th century AD.
John Keyser has written a series of articles which uncover the origins of our pagan week and reveal the simplicity and perfection of God's system of calendar reckoning. In Have We Been Observing the Sabbath At the Wrong Time All These Years? he traces the historical roots of a single, unified system so perfect and so unassailable by any human devices that it renders all human tampering and self-righteous administration of no consequence whatsoever! YEHOVAH's calendar is not dependent on human ingenuity, it does not require doctoring up or refinement by man's ordinances. It is written in the heavens, locked into the intricate synchronicity of the very Earth, Moon and Sun that by His Word He set in motion! Once the very simple keys to its understanding are found it becomes impossible to pervert by any human calculation, regulation or "wisdom."
In these articles John Keyser uncovers YEHOVAH's system of weeks as tied to and heralded by the phases of the moon. Permanently marked out in the heavens for all who will see and untouchable by Satan's subterfuge. Here we find a key to understanding the real reason behind the institution of the postponements in 359 AD, one generation after the introduction of the Roman planetary week in 321 AD! In the lunar week the Sabbath can NEVER come into such a conflict with Yom Kippur for they are always in perfect conjunction! The first holy day of Passover can't fall the day before or the day after Shabbat because it can never fall on any other day but the weekly Shabbat! The first holy day of Tabernacles must always fall on a weekly Sabbath as well and, once again, it is only the Pharisaical Sabbath prohibitions that impose their will on YEHOVAH's calendar here.
There was no hint of postponements before the mid 4th century because the Jews had not been keeping an independent seven day weekly cycle up till then. Yom Kippur had always been a day of affliction and had never caused undue hardship for YEHOVAH's people as He says by His Word. Only after the self-appointed arbiters of religious regulation twisted and perverted the sacred calendar for economic gain during the Babylonian exile did the whole system begin to unravel. It's not hard to imagine their reasoning, it's the same as ours today: "We're still technically worshipping on the 7th day after all and it means we'll be able to take advantage of the Roman market system. This new 7 day Roman week is better than our old ways. We're too out of the loop with this lunar cycle and, hey, everyone's doing it! As long as we can say it is the 7th day what does it matter where we start counting, we need to join the economic revolution." We know the postponements have caused us to observe the annual Sabbaths on the wrong days! Is it impossible that we can have no error in the timing of our weekly Sabbath? Who, in the face of this evidence, can hide his head in the sand and deny even the possibility that we and the Jews could be wrong about Saturday? The postponements are clear evidence of this perversion and their true origin, perhaps more than any other single proof, drives the final nail in the coffin of the pagan Saturday Sabbath!
Dear readers, vital keys to lifting this cloud of controversy over the lunar vs the Saturday Sabbath are now before us! Let us review, with a fresh eye and an open mind some simple truths surrounding this mystery:
1) The Bible clearly defines the seventh day as the sabbath but does not map that day to our current week. Hence, Saturday CANNOT be proved or disproved by a seventh day argument alone.
2) The seventh day sabbath observed by the Jews in the time of the Messiah was correct with regards to its timing though not without error in regard to its practice.
3) That the Jews have preserved the oracles (including the calendar) of YEHOVAH God does not necessarily mean that they have continued to observe them correctly. We know that they do have error particularly in their Sabbath observance and we have seen that the postponements add error upon error. We need to be careful about assuming that they have kept its proper place in the calendar. And, without a careful historical review, it does come down to an assumption. Even those who want to argue for a perpetual, unbroken 7 day week, Saturday or not, do so by relying on traditions of men. There is NOTHING to support a Saturday Sabbath except the tradition of the Jews! After all we have learned are we really going to build our altar on that shifting sand?
4) The only calendar given by YEHOVAH God is based on the sun and the moon. We long ago recognized that we could not determine the annual Holy Days from our modern pagan calendar. Why have we assumed that YEHOVAH's other weekly appointment is fine where it is, completely dissociated from the only calendar He gave and so neatly synchronized with the self-perpetuating Roman week?
5) The Bible doesn't repeatedly mention something without it having significance. Why then, have the New Moons and their Sabbath association gone relatively unnoticed?
6) The Bible is fairly short on actual dates so when it does give them -- as in Exodus 16 -- we ought to take some notice. Here the Sabbath rest is re-instituted as occurring on the 15th of the month after centuries of captivity in Egypt. We have already learned that periods of Jewish exile introduce foreign practices contrary to YEHOVAH's Law and it takes supernatural intervention to sort it out again.
7) Historical sources reveal the true origin of our planetary week. We KNOW from that, if not from the names of the days alone, that whatever its alignment with creation week, it is NOT an invention of YEHOVAH God's. That by itself ought to trigger a closer look at its history.
With postponements exposed for the fraud that they are, what does this mean for the Jewish calendar as it now stands? 1999, 2000, 2003, 2004 and 2005 all include postponements! In 1999 Abib 1st was postponed from March 17th to March 18th so any annual Sabbath calendar based on this year's Jewish calendar will be off by one day as will the weekly Sabbaths. Clearly we can no longer go by the Jewish calendar without subtracting all postponements. We ought also to see that this postponement idea didn't come out of nowhere. Circumstances changed that brought Yom Kippur into a conflict with the weekly Sabbath that could not have existed before. There is no effect without cause and no other explanation satisfies the cause of the postponements. The Pharisaical Sabbath regulations go back long before 359 AD and yet no postponements were needed before then. Therefore they cannot be sufficient cause to justify changing the times of the annual Sabbaths. The smoking gun is the dramatic Roman calendar change of 321 AD and the generational gap between it and the introduction of the postponements.
Hope of Israel Ministries -- Courage for the Sake of Truth is Better Than Silence for the Sake of Unity!
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