Church of God, New World Ministries

Which Calendar Did Jesus Christ Use?

The Roman calendar on your wall originated with Julius Caesar about 45 B.C. But God gave Israel a different calendar! Without knowledge of it you can not obey the Creator!

What is the true calendar provided by God? Has God left it up to each individual to follow whatever calendar he pleases? Or is there an accurate one which He has preserved for us today?

How can we know the proper time to keep Passover, the Feast of Tabernacles and the other sacred days which God commanded for the Church?

Take a look at the calendar on your wall first! Isn’t it of Christian origin? History answers:

“Our (Roman) calendar is not Christian in origin. It descends directly from the Egyptians, who originated the 12 months year, 365 day system. A pagan Egyptian scientist Sosigenes suggested this plan to the pagan Emperor Julius Caesar, who directed that it go into effect throughout the Roman Empire in 45 B.C. As adopted it indicated its pagan origin by the names of the months –called after Janus, Maia, Juno, etc. The days were not named but numbered on a complicated system involving Ides, Nones, and Calends. It was not until 321 A.D. that the seven-day week feature was added, when the Emperor Constantine (supposedly) adopted Christianity. Oddly enough for his weekdays he chose pagan names which are still used” (Journal of Calendar Reform,” Sept 1953, footnote p. 128).

Jesus Christ taught that man “shall not live my bread alone, but by every word of God” (Luke 4:4). He accepted the writings of Jeremiah as the inspired word of God – writings which contain the command from God, “Learn not the way of the heathen” (Jer. 10:2). Certainly Christ did not use this heathen Roman calendar.

Then what is the word of God on this question? What calendar did Jesus follow?

The first Bible evidence of a God given calendar is found in Genesis 1:14. The sun and moon are “for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years.”

Our present Roman calendar does not meet this qualification. It divides the year in the dead of the winter. It divides the day in the middle of the night and its months have no reference to the moon. It couldn’t be God’s calendar.

The first unit of time revealed in the Bible is the day. Six times in Genesis 1 the term “evening and morning” is used, always with the evening or dark part of the day preceding the morning or daylight part of each day. The day as revealed by God does not begin in the middle of the night but at sunset.

This division of days was understood and followed in Jesus’ time. When the Sabbath was drawing to a close, those who wished Him to heal waited and “when the sun was setting all they that had any sick with divers diseases brought them unto him; and he laid his hands on every one of them, and healed them” (Luke 4:40).

Although they understood correctly when the day would come to an end, they were not aware of the fact that Christ was willing to heal on the Sabbath day also. The traditions of their Jewish rabbis had caused them to be ignorant of this point.

Mark records: “And at even, when the sun did set, they brought unto him all that were diseased and them that were possessed with devils (demons).” These people were brought to Jesus when the Sabbath day was over, “when the sun did set” (Mark 1:32).

Can the “lights in the firmament of the heaven divide the day from the night” (Gen. 1:14) unless the moment of sunset is used as the proper division of one day from another?

That a new day begins with nightfall is also confirmed by the description of the Day of Atonement occurring on the 10th day of the 7th month. “In the ninth day of the month at even, from even (sunset) unto even (sunset) shall ye celebrate your Sabbath” (Lev. 23:27-32). Notice that the 10th day begins at the very close, the evening at sunset of the 9th day.

The exact moment for a day to end is again revealed by a comparison of Lev. 22:7 with Lev. 15. Individuals designated as unclean by these laws were to bathe and then to be considered clean when the evening came. “When the sun is down, he shall be clean” (Lev. 22:7). A new day would begin at sunset, not at midnight.

God wants you to begin the observance of His Holy Days at sunset, not in the middle of the night according to a man-made watch.

When did the period of time called the week come into existence? Was it first revealed to Moses and the children of Israel when they came out of Egypt? Far from it!

Several hundred years prior to the Exodus, Jacob was required to serve Laban seven years for each of his two daughters -- Rachel and Leah. Following the first seven years of service for Rachel, Laban tricked him giving him Leah for his wife. A seven day period or week followed before he was allowed to have Rachel also and then only with the stipulation that he was to serve Laban another seven years (Gen. 290:15-30). They already knew at this time the symbol of a day for a year (an important key in understanding Bible prophecy) and they had knowledge of a seven day week.

Though this is the first time the word “week” occurs in the Bible, yet the first week mentioned is back in the very first chapter of Genesis. Seven consecutive days are listed. The sixth of these seven days was nearly over when Adam was created. This sixth day came to a close with Adam’s naming of the animals and his presentation with Eve.

Six of the days of creation were now past. One thing remained yet to be made for man. A day of rest had not yet been set apart. Christ speaks of it in Mark 2:27, “The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath.” History records the existence of the seven day week in many ancient nations even before the Exodus. It is easy to see why God commanded, “Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy.” This special seventh day was added to the week the day after Adam and Eve were created. It was made for them; thus it had to be made at the time they were made, not 2500 years later at the Exodus.

God had completed the physical creation in six days, then, He “rested on the 7th day, and blessed the 7th day, and sanctified it” (Gen. 2:1-2). To sanctify means to set apart for a holy use.

This weekly cycle of six days of labor with a Sabbath devoted to our spiritual needs has never been lost by God’s true Church. This seven day cycle continued unbroken down through Christ’s time. It is a vital part of the Christian calendar for today. Those who observe the 7th day of the week, called Saturday today, are observing the same 7th day God rested on, blessed and sanctified!

Astronomy gives us no basis why the week should be a period of 7 days. A seven day period does not divide evenly into 29 ½ day month (from new moon to new moon); neither does it divide evenly into a 365 ¼ day year. No signs in the heavens can be held accountable for its origin.

The existence of our seven day week demands an explanation. Its only sound logical origin is found in the literal truth of the account of creation week found in Gen. 1 and 2. The week points definitely to a literal seven day period in which God created the present day life forms and brought order out of the chaos that had existed on the earth just prior to this time.

Only by continual observance of the Sabbath between Adam and Christ has man been kept in the knowledge of the correct beginning of this seven day unit of time. An exception to this was the period of slavery of Israel in Egypt after which the date to begin the week, the month and the year were again revealed.

We have found that the new day begins just as the sun sinks below the horizon and that the week begins with the sunset following the 7th day. This was true in Adam’s time. It was still true over 4000 years later after Christ’s death when the day after the Sabbath was the first day of the week or Sunday (Matt. 28:1).

But where does the Scripture give us information concerning the month and the year? And, when were they first made known to man?

The Eternal God instructed Israel, while they were still in Egypt, when to begin a new year. Why was this necessary? Weren’t these facts known to the patriarchs and followed by them? They certainly were. The reason for the reissuing of this knowledge is that the descendants of Israel had been in slavery in Egypt for nearly two centuries after the death of Joseph and had lost God’s method of keeping time. Only a few may have retained a partial knowledge of these things.

To clarify matters for everyone, God had to reveal it. Concerning the spring month of Nisan or Abib, God said: “This month shall be unto you the beginning of months: it shall be the first month of the year to you” (Ex. 12:2).

The first day of this month, which occurs at the beginning of spring – then would be the first day of the New Year. The first month of God’s sacred calendar is not January which lies in the dead of the winter, but rather a spring month when the earth is bringing forth new life. The new month and New Year begin together on the same day, independent, however, of the weekly cycle.

It is interesting to note that while the practice of beginning of the new year of the Roman calendar with the first of January was begun by Julius Caesar in 45 B.C., this custom was not introduced into Great Britain until 1752. The colonies in America naturally followed the lead of the mother country. Thus, today’s history books record George Washington’s birthday as having been February 22, 1732, whereas the event would have been recorded in the Washington family Bible as February 11, 1731.

By moving the beginning of the year backward from April to January, it was necessary to have a forward shift of one year for all dates in between. The eleven day discrepancy was due to another change made in the Roman calendar in Britain at the same time. These changes did not affect the sequence of the days of the week in any way.

The word “month” comes from the word moon. In Hebrew the word for month when speaking of the calendar is identical to that for new moon or moon. The observation of this first faint crescent of the new moon just after sundown was always made from Jerusalem. Word was then spread to the surrounding area that a new month (or moon) was beginning.

God’s months begin with the new moon. Yet because of certain special consideration they may begin a day or so later than the astronomical “new moon” noted on many of our calendars today. The observation had to be made from Jerusalem and is stated in Jerusalem time, not from the United States and Central Standard or Pacific Standard Time. The seven to ten hours difference in time between Jerusalem and the part of the United States one lives in can make our own observations and estimations as to when we would want to begin a new month somewhat misleading.

You can prove that each month begins with the new moon by comparing Num. 28:11 with I Chron. 23:31. In every instance these monthly offerings were made on the day of the new moon.

Compare these scriptures: “In the beginning of your months, ye shall blow with the trumpets over your burnt offerings” (Num. 10:10). Concerning one of His Holydays, God commanded, “In the seventh month, in the first day of the month, shall he have a Sabbath (rest), a memorial of blowing of trumpets, an holy convocation” (Lev. 23:24). Then in reference to this same day Ps. 81:3 states “Blow up the trumpet in the new moon, in the time appointed, on our solemn feast day.”

This leaves no doubt that the start of a new month is to be regulated by the moon. Each new month begins with the discovery of the crescent of a new moon in the western sky just after sundown following the 29th or 30th day of a preceding month.

Do these months coincide with the months of the Roman calendar which was also in existence at Christ’s time and with which He was certainly familiar? Not at all. The date of the new moon on the Roman calendar may occur at any time of the month. The few moments required to prove this to yourself will be profitable spent.

The months God gave average approximately 29 ½ days, while the Roman months are close to 30 ½ days in length. This difference causes the months of the true calendar to begin, in general, one day earlier each succeeding month of the Roman calendar.

It is important to recognize that the days of these God given months seldom coincide with those of the Roman calendar. The Passover today varies from about March 26 to April 22 over a ten year period. On the Sacred Calendar it is always Nisan 14th.

We have now established a daily cycle that begins at sundown, a weekly cycle that begins at sundown following the Sabbath (Identical with the one in creation week) a monthly cycle that begins with the new moon observed from Jerusalem, and a yearly cycle that begins in the spring with the first day of the month in which the early harvest would take place.

The day, month and year are easy to follow by watching the sun in its daily path, the moon in its phases and the seasons as they progress. The signs in the heavens were intended for this purpose. The Sabbath is remembered by its weekly observance.

In setting up this calendar, some divinely designed complicated relationships do arise when an attempt is made to relate the day to the month and the month to the year. For example, the length of time between astronomical new moons is slightly more than 29 ½ days. To solve this, one calendar month in general has 30 days, the rest 29. Minor adjustments from this pattern take care of the remaining fraction.

In fitting the months into the year more difficulties were encountered. The time required for the spring season to return each year is approximately 365 ¼ days. Twelve lunar months (of 29 ½ days each) make only 354 days. Unless something was done the beginning of the calendar year and the time of the annual feasts would occur about 11 days earlier in the season each year. This could not be allowed for the feasts throughout the year have a definite relationship with the harvests.

Note Lev. 23:4, “These are the feasts of the Lord, even holy convocations, which ye shall proclaim in their seasons.” They could not be allowed to wander through the seasons as do dates on the Mohammedan calendar which always has but 12 months.

The Passover, for example, had to be at the time of the early grain harvest for the High Priest was to wave a sheaf of the new grain crop on the morrow after the Sabbath during the Feast of Unleavened Bread. “Keeping this ordinance in his season from year to year” (Ex. 13:10). No other grain could be cut until the wave sheaf was offered. (Ex. 23:14-17; Deut 16:9-19).

To keep the month in accord with the year, God intended that a 13th month be added in certain years. Seven times in a 19 year cycle this 13th month must be added to keep the year in line with the seasons.

The perfect clock of the heavens is the timepiece given by God to man. Instructions concerning its use were given after Israel came of Egypt. They were only a repetition of earlier instructions known to Adam, Noah and Abraham alike. God told Israel through Moses the days to be observed but did not leave it to the individual to devise his own calendar adding an extra day to a month or month to the year when it might please him. Certain men were given mathematical principles upon which the calendar was to be based. Their decisions were accepted by the nation. God revealed to these men a calendar based on the laws of mathematics and astronomy – a calendar that would follow the movements of the heavenly bodies far into the future- one that would be accurate. Not a new calendar, but a mathematical continuation of an original revealed pattern based on the signs of the heavens; a calendar that would lead to order and harmony among God’s people in the matter of keeping time.

Who preserved this calendar down to the time of Christ? Who preserved it from that time forward? Has it been preserved intact down to the present day? If not, then in commanding us to observe His Sabbath and His Holy Days, God has commanded us to do the impossible. If God’s calendar is lost, God’s commandments in regard to His Feast Days are impossible to keep! But since God does not command the impossible, the calendar is preserved!

To whom was this responsibility committed? The oracles of God were committed to all Israel to be passed on from generation to generation. Acts 7:38 speaks of the Israelites “who received the lively oracles to give unto us.” Oracles are communications from God. These were given to all Israel, both the house of Israel and the house of Judah. The house of Israel went into captivity, losing her identity and her knowledge of God. She did not preserve the calendar or the Bible for us. Then who did?

The House of Judah also went into captivity over 110 years later in 604 B.C., but retained knowledge of her identity and her God. Recognizing the fact that she had gone into captivity for breaking the Sabbath, Judah became very strict in its observance adding many dos and don’ts which Christ ignored completely. The Jewish people have been forced to retain the knowledge of a Sabbath and a calendar which they however refuse to follow in truth.

Notice what Paul asks: “What advantage then hath the Jew?” Then he answers, “Much every way; chiefly, because that unto them were committed the oracles of God” (Rom. 3:1-2). The Jews alone were left to preserve the Scripture, the Sabbath and the calendar. If they did not fulfill this God-given commission, Jesus Christ could not have observed Passover, Pentecost, the Feasts of Trumpets and the Feast of Tabernacles in their proper seasons during His boyhood. He could not have lived a sinless life. The authority for keeping the calendar was delegated to the Jews. If they did not preserve it to this day, then we have no real basis for calculating and observing the Holy Days of God.

If the Jews did not preserve the Law and the Scriptures, how could Christ have lived His early life in the knowledge of them?

He accused the Jews of “laying aside the commandment of God (to) hold the tradition of men” (Mark 7:8). The commands Jesus followed were the ones written in the Law – the Scriptures Judah was forced by God to preserve, yet Scriptures they refused to believe and obey.

Here is absolute proof of Jesus’ recognition of the authority vested in the religious leaders of Judah at that time. Christ kept the same Sabbath that the Jews around Him did. He observed the same Holy Days, proving that they had a correct knowledge of time.

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