The Apple Of God's Eye

December 30, 2009

The Plain Truth About New Year's Eve!

askmatthewpotter.com

How did the celebration of New Year’s Eve begin? Why is the beginning of a year placed in the middle of a dead winter? And where did the many customs surrounding it originate?

Most people carelessly assume that celebrating New Year’s Eve is a Christian custom.  But did the practice of “waiting the old year out” really come from the Bible?  Is January 1 the true beginning of a new year? Who has the authority to determine when a new year begins?

New Year’s is one of the oldest and most universal of all pagan traditions! The custom of celebrating it has remained essentially unchanged for 4,000 years! “There is scarcely a people, ancient or modern, savage or civilized,” writes Theodor H. Gaster, in his definitive book “New Year”, “which has not observed it … in one form or another. Yet no other festival has been celebrated on so many different dates or in so many seemingly different ways.”

In ancient Babylon, New Year’s festivals were closely bound to the pagan feast called “Christmas” today. When and how did New Year’s celebrations originate? Who began the custom? (more…)

November 4, 2009

Proving God's Calendar Correct!

JEWISH-CALENDARThe Scriptures are the standard against which any arguement for a Christian should stand or fall. Without such a standard to compare with, any attempt to prove a thing becomes futile, subject to misinterpretation.

Think for a moment! How would you prove that a rug you bought was 9 by 12 feet? You would need a ruler, a standard to measure by. How would you know the ruler to be correct? The final word on the matter would come from the Bureau of Standards in Washington which keeps masters on hand for every weight or measurement.

Now how will you check the new moons? Are you certain the first day of the month is in the correct place or should it be a day or two earlier? Where is the master, the standard to go by?

Here is the answer! What advantage did Paul have being a Jew? “Unto them [the Jews] were committed the oracles of God” (Romans 3:1,2). Oracles are communications from God. These must be our final authority in the problem with regard to new moon dates. The question now arises, where is the oracle which will solve the problem of new moon dates? Is the Jewish calendar such an oracle?

Who gave the Jewish people their calendar? Suppose you found it to be the same person who preached for 3 1/2 years, chose 12 disciples to be apostles and then gave His life on the cross, to be resurrected three days later. Would you be willing to hear Him?

Notice Stephen’s testimony to the High Priest concerning Moses and Christ, “This is he [Moses], that was in the church in the wilderness with the angel [or messenger — Christ] which spake to him in the mount Sina, and with our fathers: who received the lively oracles to give unto us” (Acts 7:38).

How to Prove It

Now consider this: The One who became Jesus Christ spoke to Moses and Aaron (not to the entire congregation) saying, “This month shall be unto you the beginning of months: it shall be the first month of the year to you.” These two men were to instruct the people to use this Sacred Calendar.

GOD gave the Calendar. Man is to use it. Is man to stand in judgment of God as to whether this divine communication, this oracle, is proper or not? Hardly.

The knowledge of the inner working of the Calendar was retained by God’s appointed physical priesthood until the year 360 A.D. In that year the Jewish leaders published the information for all to know, so the broken and scattered Jewish nation (and Christians as well) would be able to continue the observance of God’s Feast Days in accordance to the new moons as calculated from Jerusalem.

Jerusalem was always the point from which the new moons were observed and sanctified. It was the Sanhedrin, the Supreme Court in Jerusalem, that determined when the new moon was apparent. And it was their responsibility to notify the Jewish communities of the beginning of the months.

However, by 360 A.D. when oppression and persecution threatened the continued existence of the Sanhedrin, the Jewish leaders took an extraordinary step to allow the scattered Jews to keep the new moons, festivals and Holy Days always at the same time. They then made public the system of calendar computations that hitherto had been an apparently guarded secret of the priesthood.

Thus, all Jews (and Christians) throughout the world could know when the new moon would occur according to Jerusalem time and consequently they could celebrate the same day all over the earth in unity.

It should be obvious now how to prove all things. Check them against the Oracles of God. What are these Oracles preserved by God through the Jewish people? Three: The Scriptures, The Sabbath, and The Calendar.

It was God’s prerogative to give these communications and commands. It was God’s responsibility to see that they were preserved down to our time. It was God’s judgment that a stiff-necked, rebellious, unchanging Jewish people should be given the assignment to preserve His Calendar, His Sabbath, His Scripture. With God behind them you may be sure that they carried out this task.

Do the Jews Obey?

The matter of whether the Jews have obeyed these Scriptures, rested on this Sabbath, kept the correct days in the correct manner on this Calendar, is an entirely different question.

There is no need to follow the Jews in their rebellion. Stephen continues, “Our fathers would not obey, but thrust him from them and in their hearts turned back again into Egypt.” In rejecting Moses, they rejected Christ whom he represented.

If you reject Moses today, if you reject the Oracles given through Moses, you also reject the One who sent him. The overwhelming majority of those of you who read this had ancestors who did reject Moses and Christ as their leaders and were condemned to die in the wilderness.

The real reason now becomes apparent why it is so hard for us to turn our hearts and minds to the true way that God has given to us. We have inherited this same stiff-necked rebellious nature.

Questions Answered

Doesn’t the faint crescent of the new moon become visible at an earlier time to the observer in California than to an observer in Jerusalem?

Yes, it does and for a number of reasons.

Mainly that the day travels from east to west across the globe. A day starts on the eastern coast of China or Australia (or even earlier with the islands just to the west of the International Date Line). It requires 24 hours to make a complete circuit arriving once more at the International Date Line. The moment of sunset thus travels westward across the earth. It would occur in Jerusalem 10 hours earlier than in California, which is 10,000 miles farther west.

This 10 hour difference would allow the moon to move 5 degrees eastward through the background of stars away from the sun’s position. The crescent of the new moon could thus be seen one day earlier by California observers about 40 per cent of the time. What are God’s instructions? If the people of Jerusalem, where God’s permanent headquarters are to be, cannot see this crescent of the moon following sunset, then the entire world east and west of that city must delay beginning the month till the following sunset.

This is the ordinance as it was given by God. We are not free to begin earlier because of the way we see it.

Another 6 hour difference as to the date for the new moon is introduced by the practice of delaying the ending of a day till midnight. Your almanac and Roman calendar “new moon” dates follow this pagan practice. This factor alone would shift the date of the new moon one day earlier 25 per cent of the time. Yet this pagan source is the one that many of you have used to check God’s Sacred Calendar. Isn’t it time we shift our allegiance to God’s Oracles and away from the customs and terminology of the heathen?

Still another factor makes this crescent of the new moon visible earlier in California. Just as the path of an eclipse of the sun moves from west to east across the earth so the moment at which the crescent would become visible (if the observer’s time were just after sunset) also moves from west to east across the globe and for the same reason. Up to 6 1/2 hours are required for this moment to cross the earth.

Thus while the day comes to us from the east, the month (or the moment the month might begin) sweeps across the earth from the west. It is natural for the western observer to want to begin his month too early. But it is God’s calendar and His month based on that calendar that we ought to follow.

A Difference in Latitude

Another question: Does one’s latitude also make a difference in his ability to see this crescent of the new moon in the west just after the sun goes down?

Yes, this also affects the problem on all except two days of the year, the day of the spring equinox (March 21) and of the autumnal equinox (September 23).

On these two days the sunset line runs straight north and south on the surface of the earth from south pole to the north. Latitude thus makes no difference in sunset time on these two days. Sunset would be six o’clock (sun time) for everyone. (The fact that standard time is commonly used for an entire time belt and is based on mean solar time would mean that the time shown by our clocks might vary up to 50 minutes and in certain localities over an hour from sun time.)

During the summer months the sunset line curves toward the northeast with a portion of the north Polar region in continual sunlight. During the winter months the sunset line curves toward the northwest with a portion of the north polar region in darkness 24 hours a day. (These statements are for the northern hemisphere only. The conditions are reversed south of the equator.)

The moment at which an observer at any point on the earth might see the crescent of a new moon and want to begin his month varies widely. Even the factor of whether the moon is north or south of the ecliptic, slightly affects the ability of the observer to see the crescent, especially in the extreme latitudes.

Conjunction or Crescent

A third question: Is the new moon noted on the Roman calendar or in an almanac or astronomy book the same term as the new moon on God’s Sacred Calendar? Not at all. The term “new moon” from these secular sources refers to the conjunction (or molad) of the sun and moon rather than the visible crescent which could first be seen about six hours later.

The astronomer’s “new moon” is the moment an eclipse of the sun might occur. (The moon is usually above or below the sun rather than in front of it. Thus eclipses do not occur at each of these “new moons”.) But remember that this conjunction occurs at least 6 hours before any observer anywhere can see the new moon crescent with his eyes.

God’s new moon on the other hand is the beginning day of a month, a day that begins at sunset at least 6 hours after this conjunction. Both the conjunction and sunset must be calculated for the Jerusalem area not for our local area. Then the first day of the new month moves west across the earth.

Delay for Preparation

A fourth question: Isn’t the first day of God’s Sacred Calendar sometimes delayed for special reasons?

Yes. One reason for delaying the beginning of a month is to prevent the day of Atonement (Annual Sabbath) from falling on a Friday which is a preparation day. Another is to prevent any of the autumn annual festivals from falling on a Sunday. All feasts which follow Pentecost represent the SECOND PART of God’s Plan. They must not fall on Sunday which would represent the FIRST part of God’s Plan which began 1300 years ago.

Timed for the Future

A final question: Don’t the Jews themselves admit that the computation of the length of the month and length of the year upon which this Sacred Calendar is based are not quite in perfect accord with the present day figures provided by the very exacting measurements of our modern astronomers?

Yes, this is true. It would be more surprising if it were not true. There are slow accumulative changes in the length of the month and year over centuries of time.

This minute variation which makes 13 Sacred Years slightly longer than 19 astronomical years is a very important clue to chronology. But that subject is too long for this article! This variation, however, does not affect the mathematical calculation of new moons.

Is it unusual that the One who planned the Sacred Calendar should be one step ahead of both the astronomers of the time of Moses and the present twentieth century? With a perfect understanding of the movements of the heavens as well as the needs of man, God looked forward over a six thousand year period and prepared a Calendar that would keep in harmony with the heavens throughout the entire time.

It was this system that was restored to the children of Israel as they were being freed from bondage and it is this system that is preserved for us today by God through the Jewish people.

No need exists for any change or alteration in the Sacred Calendar prior to Christ’s return and we look for no such change from the Jewish people. The published dates of the Jews and of our Sacred Calendar which cover the entire twentieth century are absolutely correct.

 

Source: Good News, October 1957

March 28, 2009

Pagan Holidays Or God’s Holy Days – Which?

Editors Note: This article is the introduction to the above mentioned booklet. I will keep sections short, for brevity, and include other parts of the booklet in different articles and subjects.

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From The Booklet: Pagan Holidays or God’s Holy Days— Which?
by Herbert W. Armstrong

Does it make any difference which days we observe or whether we keep them? Does the Bible establish whether we are to keep certain days holy to God? Were these days given to ancient Israel only? Are they binding today only on the Jewish people, while Christians are commanded to keep holidays such as Christmas?

In the seventh chapter of the book of Daniel is an amazing prophecy picturing, for twenty-five hundred years into future, from the day it was written, the course of the Gentile kingdoms. Starting with the ancient Chaldean Empire of Nebuchadnezzar, this prophecy foretells the successive world rule of the Persian Empire, Alexander’s Greco-Macedonian kingdom with its four divisions, and finally, of the mighty Roman Empire.

Out of the original Roman Empire, symbolized by “horns” growing out of the head of a “beast,” are pictured the ten resurrections of the Roman Empire that have continued since its fall to the present, and are scheduled to continue until the coming of Christ.

Among these ten kingdoms, which have ruled in the Western world since the fall of Rome to the present, appeared another “little horn,” whose “look was more stout than fellows.” In other words, another government, actually smaller, yet dominating over all the others. Students of prophecy recognize this “little horn” as a great religious hierarchy. And in the 25th verse of this prophecy, it is stated that this hierarchy shall “think to change times and laws.”

How Time Was Changed

This same power is mentioned again in the 17th chapter of Revelation, here pictured as ruling over the kings and kingdoms of the earth, persecuting the true saints.

In every possible manner, this power has changed TIME.

  1. God begins the days at sunset, but “the little horn” has changed it so the world now begins the day in the middle of the night by a man-made watch.
  2. God begins the week with the ending of the true Sabbath, the seventh day of the week, but the world begins the working week in the middle of the night, the second day of the week.
  3. God begins the months with the new moons, but this “little horn” has induced the world to begin the months according to a clumsy man-made calendar of heathen origin.
  4. God begins the year in the early spring, when new life is budding in nature everywhere, but ancient heathen Rome caused the world to begin the year in the middle of dead winter.
  5. God gave His children a true rest day, designed to keep them continually in the knowledge and true worship of the true God, a memorial of God’s Creation, the seventh day of the week. But the “little horn” has fastened upon a deluded world the observance of the days on which the pagans worshipped the Sun, the first day of the week, called SUNday.

Pagan Origins

Ancient Rome’s pagan holidays have been chained upon a heedless and deceived world. These include certain annual holidays Christmas, New Year’s, Easter, as well as many more, every one a pagan day, every one used to stimulate the sale of merchandise in the commercial markets. Upon honest investigation, the earnest seeker-after-truth learns that these days are all of heathen origin and pagan significance. He learns that he can have no part in them.

But is the Christian of today left without any annual holy days? Did God never give to His people annual holy days, as well as the weekly Sabbath? Are not ancient Rome’s annual holidays mere counterfeits of God’s true holy days, exactly as Sunday is a counterfeit of the true Sabbath?

Banishing Prejudice

We are told to study, not argue, not to refute, but to show ourselves approved unto God to learn God’s will. We are commanded, as Christians, to grow in knowledge as well as in grace (II Peter 3:18). All Scripture is given by inspiration of God and is profitable to correct and to reprove us, where we have, through assumption, false teaching, or prejudice, been in error.

Most people have supposed that all the annual Sabbaths and feast days of Israel were done away. And yet Church history shows that the early true Church did, for more than four hundred long years at least, perhaps much longer after Christ’s resurrection, continued to keep and observe these annual holy days given by God!

And just as the Sunday observer is inclined to look, at first, upon any argument for the weekly Sabbath with prejudice, as a heresy, and to examine every argument only in an attitude of attempting to refute it— so it will be only human, only natural for us, if we are not on our guard against it, to look upon any presentation of these annual Sabbaths in the same spirit of prejudice. But remember that, “he that answereth a matter before he heareth it, it is folly and shame unto him” (Proverbs 18:13).

Study This Twice

Certain objections will be sure to come to the mind all of which, will be dealt with and explained later on. But unless the reader is careful to guard against it, the mere presence of this objection in his mind will, to him, overthrow each point as it’s presented— and then, when the objections are later explained, the points made will not come back to the mind, unless the whole exposition of the subject is carefully studied again from the first.

And in each case, the objection will be one of the very arguments used by Sunday preachers in attempting to overthrow the truth of the weekly Sabbath! For the weekly Sabbath and the annual Sabbaths stand or fall together. The arguments used against the annual Sabbaths will be the identical arguments used to overthrow the Sabbath and if these arguments could hold, then they would abolish the weekly Sabbath!

Such arguments as “the annual Sabbaths are part of the law of Moses,” or “they offered sacrifices on the annual Sabbaths,” or “Colossians 2:16 does away with the annual Sabbaths,” are not scriptural.

For the annual Sabbaths were not part of the law of Moses, but were observed before the ritualistic ordinances contained in the law of Moses were given. Sacrifices were offered on the weekly Sabbath, but this does not do away with the Sabbath. In fact, sacrifices were offered on every day of the year (Numbers 28:3).

Colossians 2:16 refers, not alone to the annual Sabbaths, but to the annual days, the monthly new moons, and the weekly Sabbath. Whenever the Bible uses the expression “Sabbath days,” with new moons and holy days, it is referring to the weekly Sabbath days, the new moons and the annual holy days or feast days. The “Sabbath days” of Colossians 2:16 refers to the weekly Sabbath. Compare I Chronicles 23:31 with II Chronicles 2:4; 31:3; Ezra 3:5; Nehemiah 10:33; Ezekiel 46:3. If Colossians does away with the one, it also abolishes the other.

The Old Testament Church

When did the true Church begin? In Acts 7:38 we learn that the congregation of Israel was called the church in the wilderness, in the days of Moses. The English word “congregation” used throughout the Old Testament is only another rendering, having the same identical meaning, as the word “church” in the New Testament. The word translated “congregation” in the Old Testament is ekklesia in the Septuagint the same identical Greek word that is always translated CHURCH in the New Testament.

Israel was both church and state. As a kingdom, it was for years ruled by a system of judges, over 50s, 100s, thousands, etc., later having a king. But as a congregation, or church, Israel was organized with a leader Moses, Joshua, etc. and the priests of the tribe of Levi. The law of Moses contained those ritualistic or ceremonial laws which were ADDED, because of transgressions, to the Old Covenant— added until Christ— to teach and instill into them the habit of obedience. These consisted of meat and drink offerings, various washings, and physical ordinances. Also they had the sacrifices, as a substitute for the sacrifice of Christ.

Prior to the Law of Moses

In the 12th chapter of Exodus, while the Children of Israel were still in Egypt, long before any of the Law of Moses had been given, prior to the time when God revealed to Moses and the Israelites He would make the Old Covenant with them, we find God’s annual holy days being observed. And in the 23rd chapter of Leviticus we find a summary of these annual holy days or set feasts.

Now when God made the Sabbath for man, He gave man a rest day carrying great significance and purpose. To His Church in the wilderness, God said that the Sabbath was a covenant sign between Him and His people. A sign is a supernatural proof of identity. It is the sign by which we know that He is God. How does it prove that to us? “For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, and on the seventh day he rested.” It is a memorial of creation.

And creation is the proof of the existence of God. Creation identifies God. The Sabbath is a weekly memorial of creation. A weekly reminder of God’s power to create. Therefore it identifies God to us, keeps us in the true memory and true worship of the true God. No other day, but the seventh day of the week, could have that great significance and meaning. It was designed to keep us in the true worship of God.

The Purpose of Holy Days

Now in like manner, when God gave His Church seven annual Sabbaths, God, in His wisdom, had a great purpose. These days, too, were given to keep God’s children in the true memory and worship of God, by keeping us constantly in the understanding of God’s great plan of redemption. For these annual days picture the different epochs in the plan of spiritual creation, mark the dispensations, and picture their meaning.

The whole story of spiritual regeneration was, in these feast days, to be reenacted year after year continually. They have vitally important symbolism and meaning.

It is an historic fact that any nation which ever profaned God’s holy Sabbath (weekly), has lost contact with and knowledge of the true God, and gone into idolatry. The only nation which ever did keep God’s Sabbath is the only one that was kept in the true memory and worship of the true God— and only when they kept the Sabbath. When ancient Israel began to profane God’s Sabbath, they began to worship idols!

And in the same way, when in these New Testament times we have failed to observe God’s annual Sabbaths we, as a nation and people, are without knowledge of God’s true plan of reproducing Himself.

The so-called Christian churches today do not understand or teach what sin is— they do not teach that sin must be put away— they do not understand what man is, the purpose of life, the meaning of being born again, and of the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit— they do not understand that God’s Church, today, is not to convert the world, but to proclaim the Gospel of the Kingdom as a witness— to live a life of overcoming sin, enduring unto the end, and that the over-comers shall reign with Christ, being kings, and priests, in His Kingdom.

They do not understand that Christ is coming again, and those who preach the second coming fail to understand its meaning and purpose. They have no knowledge or conception of the good news of the coming Kingdom of God— the only true New Testament Bible gospel.

Not understanding these vital steps in the true plan of regeneration, the Christian churches teach that the Law is abolished. They teach the pagan doctrine of the immortality of the soul, going immediately to heaven or hell at death and they teach that death is only life.

And all is confusion!

God’s feasts, or holy days, or Sabbaths, were commanded to be kept year after year, and forever! Thus God purposed to impress the truths these “high” Sabbaths picture upon all the minds of His children through all time, keeping His Church in the true understanding of His plan!

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