Sermon given 3 May 2008

The Oracle of the Calendar

by Jon Bowles

(PLAY FROM START)

I want you to imagine for a moment that you are actually here in Wales, with us in this room; and we make an arrangement that we are going to go ahead and start moving from this place here in Wales, we are going to start moving in opposite directions. I am going to start going west and you are going to start going east. So I am going to go on down to Pembroke or somewhere like that, Milford Haven, get on a boat and start journeying across the Atlantic. You, on the other hand, will get in a car and drive down to the Channel ports, go across into Europe and start moving down to the Middle East, moving steadily eastward from that point.

And what we have done is to have an arrangement that every Friday evening we will go ahead and contact each other by phone. So I set off, I get on my boat - sailing boat so it's going to take me a while - and I sail myself out into the sunset. And I go towards America and just before I actually hit the coast of America, it's getting in towards Friday, but all of a sudden it is Friday with me, but you are down in the Middle East going down that way, probably Iran or Iraq or somewhere like that and suddenly you phone because it is Friday for you - but it is Friday sunset for you.

So I get that phone call and for me it's Friday mid-day something like that, or around that kind of time or a little bit into the afternoon. And as I then go across into America and as I go a little further into America, across the Great Plains and out towards California, you have moved even further. You are maybe down towards and past India, across into China, you are moving in that direction. And then you start phoning me and it is early Friday.

Each time you phone - when the Sabbath sunset actually comes to you - you are phoning me, I am not phoning you. The call charges are all going down to you because you are going east. I am going west, because the sun actually is coming towards you and the sunset therefore is coming towards you first.

And we keep going; and I then travel up through Canada, right up into Alaska and I start going along over the Aleutian Islands. I go down to the Aleutian Islands - they go out from Alaska, and they are like an arc that going out into the Pacific Ocean. You however, have gone down through the Philippines, you have gone down into Australia, you've gone across to New Zealand, you go on to Fiji and you finally go into Tonga.

And you give me a ring in Tonga. I am now at the Aleutian Islands - north - and if you like, we've crossed! You phone me when the sunset comes to you and that sunset, when I get that phone call, it is not even sunset for me at all on Thursday. On Thursday. Your Friday sunset has occurred before sunset for me occurs on Thursday.

It is the same sun in the sky. We are both looking at the same sun. I am in the north, you are down in the south. The actual 180 degree parallel, the 180 degree longitude is between us and we are on opposite sides. I have crossed it and so have you. And yet you are celebrating your Sabbath on a day that - for me - starts before Thursday evening. Should that be right? Should that be the way it works? Why should that be the way it works? As I said, it's the same sun, and it is interesting that Albert Einstein made a quotation - now he was referring to relativity and these kind of things - but I think it has a bearing on what we are talking about. He says:

"Space and time are modes by which we think. They are not conditions under which we live." (Albert Einstein)

In other words we perceive something. Now you have kept the Sabbath as you have travelled going in that direction, travelling towards the east, you have kept the Sabbath diligently as you have gone all the way through to Tonga.

I have kept the Sabbath diligently all the way as I went into Alaska and the Aleutian Islands, 1100 miles out to two lots of islands in Aleutian Islands, which are the Near Islands and Rat Islands, a chain over in that area. And we have kept the Sabbath diligently. Now if we carried on going - if I went over the straits and actually carried on and went into Russia - I would have crossed the International Date line. Because the International Date line actually has has a bend and goes around the Aleutian Islands. It also has a bend and it goes around Tonga and Fiji, going the other direction.

Now how do you keep the Sabbath? What should we do in keeping the Sabbath in such a situation? When the person in the Aleutian Islands - and there have been members up there incidently. There are people that were fishermen, who were fishing in those areas. There have definitely been members in Tonga, because they had a church in Tonga. They had ministers and everybody else in Tonga. Should we start re-writing the Date line?

You see if you go on the internet, you will find that there is a group in Tonga of Adventists, who say; "No, this is nonsense, we shouldn't be doing this." And therefore they keep their Sabbath - very conveniently - on a Sunday. Because they say that "the 180 degree - which is opposite Greenwich - is to the west of me." Therefore they keep the Sabbath on a Sunday.

Now the Church of God however, doesn't do that. And the Church of God has been there back in the 1970's and so on. The Church of God has kept the Sabbath on the Sabbath, from Friday sunset to Saturday sunset. But when you get to the International Date line who is to say what's the Sabbath and what isn't the Sabbath? Who do you go to? How are you going to determine this?

Now let's have a look at Exodus 3. Because when we are looking at the subject of the calendar these are the kind of tricky problems that you get into. I want you to notice something here, in verse one. It says:

"Now Moses kept the flock of Jethro his father in law, the priest of Midian: and he led the flock to the backside of the desert, and came to the mountain of God, even to Horeb. And the angel of the [Eternal] appeared unto him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush: and he looked, and, behold, the bush burned with fire, and the bush was not consumed." (Exodus 3:1-2)

Now the word 'angel', [Strong's H4397], literally means messenger, the one who was bringing this message. It actually was Jesus Christ as we will go on and see. Exodus 3:3:

"And Moses said, I will now turn aside, and see this great sight, why the bush is not burnt. And when the [Eternal] saw that he turned aside to see, God called unto him out of the midst of the bush, and said, Moses, Moses. And he said, Here am I. And he said, Draw not nigh hither: put off thy shoes from off thy feet, for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground. Moreover he said, I am the God of thy father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. And Moses hid his face; for he was afraid to look upon God." (Exodus 3:3-6)

Now here he was, he came into the presence of God and the thing that made that bush holy was the presence of God. It was God being there and therefore he had to take his shoes off, to acknowledge that presence of God. Now we see the same kind of thing as far as the Sabbath is concerned. We keep the Sabbath holy because the presence of God is in that day.

But there is a problem. What about the people in Rat Island and the people down in Tonga? The sun is the other side of the Date Line for them, so whose day is God present in? Whose day, whose Sabbath? Where do you draw this line? Where is God in this? Turn over to Jeremiah 23:24, there is another aspect that we have got to understand about this. Here we find a scripture that really throws the cat amongst the pigeons because it says:

"Can any hide himself in secret places that I shall not see him? saith the [Eternal]. Do not I fill heaven and earth? saith the [Eternal]." (Jeremiah 23:24)

So God right now is present here with us God actually leads His Church through His Spirit that dwells in us. Do we therefore walk around with our shoes off our feet? Is that the way we should be walking around? I mean, mentally yes we should, in a mental sense. But you see God fills heaven and earth. He is here right now. So what was different as far as Moses was concerned? Was God not also elsewhere? Can God not see elsewhere through His Spirit? You see what was happening is that God was there in that bush dealing with Moses. That's what is was. It was the dealing with Moses. And as far as Moses was concerned God was there and He was talking to him personally.

To the person in Tonga, the Sabbath has come and God is there dealing them on His Sabbath day; and that would be on the Thursday evening before even sunset, as far as someone up in the Aleutian Islands.

When the Sabbath finally comes to the person in the Aleutian Islands, then the people in Tonga, you are looking at Saturday evening - already passed the Sabbath - by the time it came to Tonga, going into Sunday. So the people up in the Aleutian Islands would be keeping their Sabbath when the people in Tonga would be keeping Sunday. Well - not keeping Sunday, but it would be their Sunday. But it was the presence of God within that day, as He dealt with the people in Tonga or the people in the Aleutian Islands. This is a crucial point! In this subject of the calendar, which is what I want to go on to. I want to talk about the Oracle of the Calendar, today. In this subject we have got to understand that, No, there is a relationship here. Over in Exodus 31:12 it says:

"And the [Eternal] spake unto Moses, saying, Speak thou also unto the children of Israel, saying, Verily my sabbaths [plural notice] ye shall keep: for it [the keeping of them] is a sign between me and you throughout your generations; that ye may know that I am the [Eternal] that doth sanctify you." (Exodus 31:12-13)

That sets you apart. It's a two-way thing. It is that they recognise that "this is the Eternal". The Eternal is then sanctifying them - who are keeping those days. And it is when the Sabbath actually comes to them.

Now in the case of Tonga and in the case of the Aleutian Islands, why do we do it that way? Why has the Church made that ruling? And that comes from Mr Armstrong. You can actually go and read it in; ' Has Time Been Lost? ' It talks about the International Date Line and how it is nearly opposite Jerusalem. It is not quite, it is actually about two and a half hours difference between Jerusalem and Greenwich. But the understanding that we always have had is that we recognise the authority that has been placed in that Date Line and we therefore go and we keep the Sabbath according to that authority that is in that Date Line. So that has been understood by the Church all the way through. But the Sabbath as it says here, it's a sign between God and His people and it is a sign that we keep it.

And the reason why the people in Tonga keep it on the day that they do and the people in the Aleutian Islands keep it on the day that they do, is that one is, if you like, joined to the Australian landmass, which is going towards the west from Tonga. The other is joined across to the American landmass, which is going towards the east from the Aleutian Islands. And it is those landmasses that govern and the ownership of the Islands and where they actually are and how they are linked together that governs where that Date Line has actually been drawn. It goes through open ocean most of the time. But it goes down and through and around the Aleutian Islands pulling them across to the American mainland. And it goes around Tonga and Fiji pulling them across to the Australian mainland. Because that is the direction in which they are operating and they are linked across to Australia and the east. Whereas the Aleutian Islands are linked across to the west, even though America is east of the Aleutian Islands.

So we see here that there is an authority that has been recognised by the Church. To those of you who are listening to me over the internet who disagree with Mr Armstrong on this, who reckon, Oh no, we must go by what they see, what they determine within scripture. How they actually take scripture and dissect it and they will dissect it in such a way that they then come up with their own rules on the calendar and so on. What are you going to do about this situation? Are you going to go along with the Adventists and draw the line down the 180 parallel? Is that what you are going to do? And therefore make the people in Tonga go ahead and keep the Sabbath on a Sunday. If you do, what justification have you got for doing that? What possible justification is there? And then they say; "Oh, no, we wouldn't do that. We're going to go to Jerusalem." OK fine, go to Jerusalem. What are you going to do? Draw the 180 from Jerusalem? Jerusalem is at 35 degrees east of Greenwich. It's not exactly 35 degrees east of Greenwich, it is 35 degrees 13 minutes east of Greenwich.

The reason that Greenwich was taken as the centre - Greenwich is a province of London; it is where the National Observatory is. And the reason Greenwich is taken as the zero within the longitude is because of a man called Harrison. Harrison came up with the first chronometer that can be taken on board a ship and therefore allow the ships to determine their longitude. Before that they were running into rocks, smashing themselves up and all the rest of it. It really was a horrendous problem. They could go ahead and determine north and south, that was not a problem for them because they could do that with a sextant. But the longitude? They hadn't a clue. There was no way they could by visual observation determine the longitude. They couldn't determine east/west.

So you are heading for say, America and without an accurate chronometer that would give you the time it was when you left, you cannot determine that. Just a freak of history in some ways; in many ways it is not because it actually gave the British the dominance of the seas, because could they determine longitude. It was a national secret in that sense. But it causes the entire earth to therefore go by Greenwich, Greenwich Mean Time. Our servers are set on Greenwich Mean Time, both the one in San Francisco and the one in Germany. But they are both set the same time - this standard time - because that is where the time originated, with Harrison and the determination of longitude.

But when you are looking at Jerusalem, it is 35 degrees 13 minutes east of us. Now if you want to go ahead and start drawing a line which would be a 180 degrees round from that, maybe that is what you want to do. And therefore keep your Sabbath according to that. Well that is going to be wonderful for you if you are in, say, mainland America. It is going to be rather difficult for your brethren that happen to be in Hawaii, because the line would go right through between Honolulu and the main island of Hawaii. It would go right through the main island of Hawaii.

So what people could do is go across the main island of Hawaii and if they didn't want to keep the Sabbath, they could stand here and then they could stand across and all of a sudden be in Sunday immediately. And if they wanted to keep two Sabbaths, they could stand over on this side and then when sunset went down they could stand on this side and all of a sudden they could keep another Sabbath. So they could keep two if they wanted to. What are we looking at here? What is actually going on? Well basically what is going on is total chaos; it's total chaos, and this is the problem with this entire subject.

Again what are you going to do? Get the Jews to determine where the Date Line has got to be? See it never became an issue with the Jews. It didn't become an issue until about 1941. What happened in 1941 was that a group of Jews were actually fleeing from Nazi Germany and the Japanese Consul in Russia gave these Jews free passage across - and actually he is regarded within Israel as one of the righteous Gentiles, because he helped and assisted them to flee out of Russia, away from the Nazis who were advancing. And he then had them taken across to Japan.

But there was a real problem. These were ultra-orthodox Jews, these were the kind of Jews that don't swallow on the Day of Atonement, that kind of thing. And they went across to Japan and they suddenly found themselves on the wrong side - not of the Date Line, the Date Line was fine - they were still on the eastern side of the Date Line, but they were on the wrong side of some ancient Mishnah declaration by some rabbi, Rabbi Judah or somebody, who declared that what you should do is not go 180 degrees, but 90 degrees from Jerusalem. Now 90 degrees takes the line down through China and chops Australia in half as well.

But at that time it wasn't really a big problem, it was kind of 'over there some where'. So it didn't really make any difference. But now having been set into the Mishnah they had a real problem. They therefore started keeping two days. Finally, they got fed up with that, telegrammed another Rabbi to give them advice who said that No, they should keep it according to this ruling, and so on. And it actually resulted in them not being able to flee for several years because what actually happened was, they started keeping it on the, whatever side it was, the two days, and the only boat they were able to get out would have fallen between two Days of Atonement, and therefore they would have had to keep two Days of Atonement. So they decided to leave that boat and by the time they left that boat and they were actually stuck, marooned in Japan.

Where are you going to draw your lines? Another - if you really want to draw a line somewhere - according to certain Jewish customs - these are all Jewish ideas, coming from various Rabbis that you have got; they believe that the line should go down, some say, down through the Temple Mount. The others say the line should go down the boundary of Israel, wherever the boundary was towards the east from Israel. If it goes down through the Temple Mount, again you have got the same problem. On one side you have got the Sabbath on the other side you are on a Sunday and you can go walking between the two. Who is actually going to make the decision?

What I want to do today, I want to give this first of the two sermons I would like to give about the calendar. And I want to really stress, and I hope I have stressed a fair amount within the introduction; that this subject is not primarily about astronomy and calculation. It is not about astronomy, it is not about calculation, not primarily, yes it goes into that but that is not primarily what it is about.It is about government and who has the authority to make decisions within God's Church. That is what the subject is about.

Because you can go to all kinds of a myriad of opinions even in Judaism today. Just the Date Line is one. Where do you draw the Date Line? And people do, they argue about this. But again, what is the majority decision within Judaism? It is in whatever area you are in, you go by that area's decision. If you are actually travelling into an area, and you were going to travel out of it, you keep your Sabbath as to how you are actually travelling. But if you are staying in an area, you should go ahead and keep it according to the area that you are in. That again is the Jewish reflection on this.

But you know, it is a case of government. It is who has the authority to decide. Now what I would like to do today is, I want to concentrate more on an overview of the subject. An overview of the astronomy and the calculations because, I think we live in a world where literally we don't even know the phases of the moon. People have no concept of the phases of the moon. They don't even know where the new moon will be found if they went outside. Yet everything revolves around new moons.

So we need an overview of astronomy and the calculations. The next time I want to concentrate more on the government issues involved and go into more detail, having put this down as a basis. But we do in fact keep the Holy Days, and it is a vitally important subject. It is not just something that you can get hold off and put on the shelf. It is vital in the sense that we keep the Holy Days that picture the very plan of God. And those Holy Days, those annual Holy Days fit somewhere and it is a case of where do they fit.

Now there has been a very clear decision made by Mr Herbert Armstrong about this entire subject and I will bring that out very clearly today. But we do need to know something about it. We do need to at least be aware of the subject to some degree. In College this was a dreaded subject. This is a sermon which I have been dreading to give. And the reason for that is that my College notes are not an overview, they are not an overview at all, what my College notes go into. In fact I can remember one of the questions on the exam paper. "The Passover in 1605 - calculate which day of the week it was on." There you go - calculate which day of the week was the Passover in 1605! And you have got to sit down there and calculate what day of the week Passover occurred in 1605.

You know, where would you even start in doing that? Now by the end of the couple of sermons I guarantee you will not be able to go ahead and answer the question, unless you go to a programme and have it worked out. I would have a real, real struggle and have to get my notes out and go through and get the benchmarks out again.

Let me just give you a little bit of the insight on this. The way it is actually calculated is, you go back to the day of creation and on the day of creation, it was created at a certain precise time and you work forward from there, and so, 1605 is AD - and we will go into that in a little while. But that is the kind of way it - the class - was detested. I talked to my wife and she said she'd just look with just a glazed look across the face when various figures used to show up on the blackboard. But it does mean, how do we actually set the Holy Days? The Holy Days picture the plan of God and they fit within the calendar. They fit within a calendar. So we do need to know something about it. Now the areas I want to go into today are;

The Oracles of God (PLAY FROM 27:45)

Now, when we look at this subject about the oracles of God, I always remember when I am thinking about this subject, that I came across a group one time, that we were thinking of actually aligning with and they said; "We remain committed," - they had this doctrinal statement that they had, and it went something like this: "We remain committed to review and alter all doctrines that are not in alignment with scripture." Now, on the surface that appears very commendable. The only question, and this is the question I asked them, and they could not answer me was; Who is 'we'?

Who is 'we' that makes these decisions? Why should this particular group come up with some kind of an idea about maybe the International Date Line? What should happen in Tonga? Who is this 'we'? Who is the 'we' who makes this kind of decision?

And what we find ourselves in today with this shattering within the Churches is total, unimagined chaos. And in particular, if there is one area where there is total, unimagined chaos it is in the area of the calendar. It is utter chaos. If you go onto the internet you have all kinds of opinions. Opinions of men. I want you to turn to Genesis 1:1 and just remind ourselves what it says here, it says:

"In the beginning God created the [heavens] and the earth." (Genesis 1:1)

Now He created the heavens and the earth and He created them and the angels shouted for joy when they were created. But Genesis 1:2 says:

"And the earth [became tohu, Strong's H8414 and bohu, Strong's H922, as it is in the Hebrew; chaos, confused, totally out of kilter];and darkness was upon the face of the deep..." (Genesis 1:2)

It was dark - truth wasn't there! Truth was very much missing. Why? Because something happened between verse 1 and 2 and we understand what that something was. But Satan himself went up and tried to take God off His throne and it caused utter chaos throughout the universe. And when we see within the Church today the chaos and the confusion from the shattering that has actually taken place, all we have to do is to go back there and say; "Look, who is the author of shattering, who is the author of this chaos that we see? This chaotic idea." Turn over with me to Acts 7:37 here it says:

"This is that Moses, which said unto the children of Israel, A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren, like unto me; him shall ye hear." (Acts 7:37)

Now he is talking here not about some prophet that somebody deems themselves to be, this is talking here about Jesus Christ, who is going to come. It also by inference is about the prophets of old that would come, talking the words that were coming from Jesus Christ. But Acts 7:37 says:

"This is he [talking about Moses], that was in the church [the congregation] in the wilderness with the angel [messenger] which spake to him in the mount Sina, and with our fathers: who received the [living] oracles to give unto us:" (Acts 7:38)

And notice who got the living oracles, it was the fathers, it wasn't just Moses. It was Moses and the fathers who received the living oracles that were then preserved all the way down through history to "give to us" and it is also to give to us today as well. Those living oracles came from the fathers and it was preserved for us in this generation, just as much as it was for the people when the book of Acts was being written by Luke. Acts 7:39 says:

"To whom our fathers would not obey [notice, here were the actual fathers, who would not obey, who were not righteous], but thrust him from them, and in their hearts turned back again into Egypt, Saying unto Aaron, Make us gods to go before us: for as for this Moses, which brought us out of the land of Egypt, we wot not what is become of him." (Acts 7:39-40)

So even though they were not righteous, he still says that the living oracles were given to the fathers and were given to them - to give to us. And that is something that we have to keep in mind. Turn over to Romans 3:1 it says:

"What advantage then hath the Jew?..." (Romans 3:1)

Now what happened regarding the living oracles that were given to them? What happened to the Israelites? Well Israel, the northern ten tribes were actually taken away out of sight and they lost their identity. But the oracles were then preserved and they were kept by the Jews. They were preserved down through the centuries and the millennia by the Jews. Romans 3:1 says:

"What advantage then hath the Jew? or what profit is there of circumcision? Much every way: chiefly, because that unto them were committed the oracles of God [it was to the Jews that these oracles were committed] For what if some did not believe [what if some did go astray]? shall their unbelief make the faith of God without effect [is that going to nullify what God has actually done]? God forbid: yea, let God be true, but every man a liar..." (Romans 3:1-4)

So we see here that these oracles, even though our fathers were not obedient, even though they were carnal, they were still entrusted to them. And the question is, what were the oracles?

Now we have got to go to the understanding - we will go through that next time when we deal more with the government issue. But the understanding that we obtained from the source - from which we obtained the truth, and that is an important point. We obtained the truth by revelation through an apostle. That is the key point that we need to understand. And that source - which is Mr Herbert Armstrong - also defined for us what those oracles were.

There are three things that are the oracles. One is the Hebrew scriptures. We received the Hebrew scriptures preserved for us, all the way down through history from the Jews. And if we want to go and find out something about the Hebrew scriptures, about the actual preservation of them, we go to the Jews.

Now does that mean to say that there aren't certain problems? Yes, there are certain problems within the Hebrew scriptures. There's been certain letters added in certain places. There is a place where it talks about Gershom who is the son of Moses and his son; and in the sermon I gave last time about the one who was the Levite who went ahead and was taken by the Danites? Well that individual was the son of Gershom, who was the son of - and it doesn't say Moses - it gives another word; Manasseh I think it actually says. But someone had stuck another letter in there and they have done it in a certain way because they wouldn't dare have Moses' grandson do such a dastardly deed in the book of Judges. You can see certain things have taken place. But the Hebrew scriptures have been entrusted to the Jews. That has no bearing on what the Hebrew scriptures are bringing to us today; none whatsoever. But the Hebrew scriptures are one [of the oracles].

Another area of oracles is the seven day cycle. Now I am not talking about 'how' to keep the Sabbath. The how to do it has not been trusted to the Jews because they have gone astray. And it say here; "For what if some did not believe? shall their unbelief make the faith of God without effect?" (Romans 3:3). Can unbelief nullify the fact that God is working with His people, with a spiritual Israel today? No, it is not. But that seventh day Sabbath, the actual structure, the seven day cycle has been preserved from creation all the way through and it was preserved from the time in the wilderness right the way through to Christ by the Jews. And it is preserved from there forward from there for us. So we can have absolute assurance that the seven day cycle, the weekly Sabbath, when it comes to us, which is sunset on a Friday night and it lasts until sunset on a Saturday night. We know that that is the Sabbath.

Now as to the way the Jews count it from sunset to the first star, no, we are not going to go down that route. Again are we going to go ahead and start drawing date lines? No, because Mr Armstrong said; no we go by the established authority which is the Date Line that we find. It is near enough to a position opposite Jerusalem to serve the purposes. And it is also therefore the authority, and it is therefore binding on the Church because Mr Herbert Armstrong, the apostle of God, has actually put that as binding as far as the Church is concerned.

Just as the weekly Sabbath therefore fits within the seven-day cycle and the observance of it.... (HOW to observe it is for us to understand through spiritual means. But the fact that it is observed, when it is observed is part of the oracles of God.)... in a similar way the third point concerns the annual Sabbaths, which fit into the other oracle of God, which is the Hebrew calendar. The way that that Hebrew calendar is declared is something that is given to the Jews. It is not given to the Church. We do not make those decisions. Just as we do not make the decision as to where the International Date Line is, we do not make the decision as to the Hebrew calendar. How to observe the Holy Days, yes, that is given to the Church and we have got to put ourselves under the revelation that the Church was given from Jesus Christ, but what days those are, that hasn't been given - they're part of these oracles mentioned over here in Romans 3:2.

Sun, Moon and Time (PLAY FROM 38:41)

Let's go into the actual sun, moon and time.

Let's talk about the sun. Now, let's imagine ourselves away from the earth - this time we are not going to go across to the Philippines and so on. We will actually go straight up, and we are looking down on the earth, and we are watching the earth going around the sun. We are standing up there in space and we are looking at the sun and we are looking at the earth and how the earth goes around. You will notice that the earth is actually tilted at an angle. It is not straight up and spinning around. It is tilted at an angle and spinning around and that is what gives us our seasons.

Now what that therefore means is that when the tilt is towards the sun on the north, then you have got the summer in the north. When it goes around the other side of the sun and the tilt is with the southern part towards the sun, you have got the summer in the south and winter in the north.

Now there are obviously points at which it is actually pointing at the sun. Where the north is pointing at the sun, or the south is pointing at the sun. As that earth goes round the sun, it is actually pointing at the sun - the actual tilt is pointing. The south is as close as it can get and the north is as far away from it as it can get. And that is the winter solstice. So you are looking at the middle of winter, in the north that is. When it goes around the other side and it is pointing right at the sun, you have got the summer solstice as far as the summer is concerned.

When it is halfway between and it is going towards the winter, you have got the autumnal equinox, and when it is going towards the summer, you have got the spring equinox as well. So on earth when you are actually standing on earth and we are looking at the sun, we see it rises and it sets, and there is a point where daylight equals night time. That is the autumn and the spring equinox. And there's a point where daylight is the maximum, that's the summer solstice, and there is a point where daylight is the minimum, and that is the winter solstice.

Now we are looking at the northern hemisphere which is where Jerusalem is and we are looking therefore at the way in which the sun actually works. This is how you get equinoxes, and this is how you get seasons. We need to understand that element; winter, summer, spring and autumn. {1}

Now when you get to the moon, the moon is a little bit more tricky, let's put it that way. Let's imagine for ourselves just for a minute; imagine you have got a very, very fast rocket, a rocket-propelled aeroplane. And you jump in your rocket-propelled aeroplane and just as the sun has just set, you go and you rev it up to 900 miles per hour, round about the equator and you keep going at that speed, around 900 miles per hour, so that the sun has just set in the west. And you are chasing the sun; that is what you are doing.

The Concorde was able to do this. It was literally able to chase the sun. We can't quite get up to that speed in the 747s or whatever, you are going substantially less. But in this one we're going along 900 miles per hour and we are chasing the sun and the sun has just set and we see a kind of glow on the other side. What then happens?

Well at this present time you will keep flying for about three days. And in three or four days, something like that, you will suddenly see just on the horizon, you will see a faint crescent of a moon. The moon will actually start to appear, and this moon as it starts to arise - remember the sun is just below the horizon and you are screaming along at 900 miles per hour, and the sun is just below the horizon - so as the moon comes up, the sun just lights it from underneath. Now whether the moon is kind of down a bit or left or right a bit doesn't make any difference. It will light it from underneath, so if you like, if you are looking at it as a cut-out shape, you can put your left hand into it. That is the new moon.

And what you are doing is that you are watching the new moon all the way round the earth, all at different times. And so what you will see as that new moon just starts to rise ever so slowly, it will just rise a little bit every day. And you are flying now at 900 miles per hour, going towards the setting sun. The sun is always just below the horizon, just setting. And this moon then starts to rise and it rises around in front of you and it goes right up over the top of you. And when it gets to the top it is a quarter - it's half - because you are facing the sun all the time and therefore the moon is at half. And as it moves down behind you and just before it disappears over the back of you, it becomes a full moon.

And then it goes round underneath you - because it goes underneath the earth - and the length of time as you are going at this 900 miles per hour facing the west all the time, facing the setting sun, you are looking at seven or eight days to go into the first quarter. About fourteen and three quarter days it goes down to the full moon. It then takes another two weeks, a total of twenty nine and a half days to then come round underneath you, underneath the earth, and then suddenly it will appear again, and you will be able to put your left hand in it.

Now that's for the rocket-ship going around at 900 miles per hour, this conceptual rocket-ship facing the sun all the time. Now if you were to go ahead and watch this rocket-ship - you went out into space and you look down on the earth and you saw that rocket-ship, screaming along at 900 miles per hour - you look at it and it is standing still. It is not going anywhere. It is literally standing still in relation to the sun. And what's happening is the earth is spinning underneath it at 900 miles per hour.

That is what is actually taking place. And at the same time as that rocket-ship stands still, as the earth is rotating underneath it at 900 miles per hour, the moon is actually making its revolution around that earth - and the rocket-ship that is stationary - at one revolution around the earth in one month; in a twenty nine and a half day month. And it is coming towards the rocket-ship going over the top of it, going round the back of it and then going round the back of the earth. And that is how you start to understand what actually is happening.

Because what is really happening is, let's imagine that you are in your rocket-ship, you are looking at this moon that suddenly appears and slowly climbs above you, but I am not. I am on the earth and every day I come whizzing round at 900 miles per hour underneath you, because the earth is rotating underneath you. You are standing still. The earth is going round and I am on that earth whizzing round at 900 miles per hour - which on the equator is what you will do - you can see the phases of the moon as the moon starts going around the earth, you can see that actually happening.

But to me on the earth, what do I see? Well, at the time you are watching that new moon -and the hand goes into the left part of it - as I go underneath you, I look out to the west and the first thing I see just before I come and get to your point, the first thing I see is the setting sun, because I am still on the side of you that can see the sun. As I go underneath you the sun then sets and at that precise time the moon becomes visible just above it, lighted from the sun which is setting and this crescent, this small crescent of the moon appears. And that then, because I am whizzing away backwards at 900 miles per hour that then disappears under the horizon. That is the new moon. The moon that you suddently see.

And I go round, I go all the way round and come back up again and come to you in your spacecraft still screaming along at at 900 miles per hour - and remember this time, this day the moon for you has come up a little bit. And when I see it, it has also come up a bit and it has also filled a little bit more. Each day that I whiz round at 900 miles per hour I come to this point where you are - remember you are looking at the setting of the sun and the rising of the moon - and that happens all the way until I come to the point where you notice that the moon is full, behind you. And what happens then, when I get to that point, that moon suddenly - as the sun sets for me on the earth and it goes down - so the moon rises behind me. There is your full moon.

And because I am whizzing at 900 miles per hour around the back of the earth, away from you in your rocket-ship, I am coming around again to the other point where you will be again, that moon seems to move over the top of me and goes until we finally get to the point where the sun is about to rise. And round the time the sun starts to rise you are coming up and you see the sun rise and you also see the moon set.

There is the way in which it works. That is how you see the phases of the moon and it is moving all the time. You are actually moving all the time - if you are on the equator, at about 900 miles per hour. Whizzing round, going round watching this phase as this moon slowly starts moving across around the earth.

And you are watching it and you see the new moon initially just before sunset, or at the point of sunset and that moon then comes round away from the sun and as it goes away from the sun it comes right to the back of the earth you then notice it as a full moon. And then as it goes a bit further underneath away from the rocket-ship because the rocket-ship can't see it now, it actually rises progressively later. When you are looking at the last quarter, the last quarter will rise around midnight and then it will set at sunset, until finally you come to the last sliver where you can put your right hand into it, and that is just before sunrise, you put your right hand into it and all of a sudden it comes right the way onto the other side of the sky and you see it as the new moon coming at the point of sunset. {2}

But that is what is happening as the earth is spinning underneath. Now what you have therefore are the moon phases. And at the same time, when you are looking at a lunar-solar calendar, which is what the calender of God is - turn over to Exodus 12:2, it says:

"This month shall be unto you the beginning of months: it shall be the first month of the year to you." (Exodus 12:2)

And if you notice in Exodus 13:4:

"This day came ye out in the month Abib." (Exodus 13:4).

Now the word Abib [Strong's H24] means 'green ears' and so this month, which is Abib, should be the first month of the year to you. Now why is it the first month of the year? It is the first month of the year because of the Holy Days, it begins the Holy Day plan. The Holy Days remember fit into the calendar. It is also the time of the wave-sheaf, the wave-sheaf also must be offered in this particular month, the month of Abib. Therefore the barley harvest has got to have actually occurred. So any calendar that there is, has got to make sure that the Passover and the Days of Unleavened Bread are in that springtime, around about the time of the spring equinox.

Now we notice that it is also called Nisan, that is a Babylonian name. When the Jews were in Babylon they called it Nisan because that is what the Babylonians called their month which corresponded to it because they also had something that was similar, which is a lunar-solar. I will come into the fact that that was not discovered in Babylon, it was certainly before that. Numbers 10:10:

"Also in the day of your gladness, and in your solemn days, and in the beginnings of your months, ye shall blow with the trumpets over your burnt offerings, and over the sacrifices of your peace offerings; that they may be to you for a memorial before your God: I am the [Eternal] your God." (Numbers 10:10)

So the months were actually observed. They have to be literally observed so that the Holy Days can therefore be kept. If we go onto Numbers 28:11 it says:

"And in the beginnings of your months ye shall offer a burnt offering unto the [Eternal]; two young bullocks, and one ram, seven lambs of the first year without spot; And three tenth deals of flour for a meat offering..." (Numbers 28:11-12)

So these were actually being offered at that particular time. If you turn over to I Samuel 20:5 we find it says:

"And David said unto Jonathan, Behold, tomorrow is the new moon, and I should not fail to sit with the king at meat [food]: but let me go, that I may hide myself in the field unto the third day at even." (I Samuel 20:5)

Now what we need to understand is that there was an observation involved with the new moon. When I mentioned about the new moon - let's go back again to the rocket-ship. Go back to the fact that it is facing into the sun. The sun has just set and the new moon, as we are right now. We are looking at the end of one month and the beginning of another month in a few days time.

The moon is below the sun at the moment. And whether you went out in a very early morning, whether you would actually see it or not depends. I am not quite sure you would see it in the very early morning. You might just see a very faint crescent that you put your right hand into. That is right now because we are coming into the tail end of the month. And what then happens is that moon will move in relationship - remember the earth is spinning underneath this rocket-ship. The rocket-ship is stationary in relationship to the sun. The earth is spinning underneath going towards the rocket-ship all the time. But what we are looking at is that the moon then comes up from underneath the earth, which the rocket-ship is over, and it comes up and it therefore it gets to a point and that point is where it crosses the line with the sun.

It goes in front of the line that goes between the earth and the sun, and there is a point. It is such a specific point. It can be calculated down to the split second, it is that accurate. That is called the Molad, it's the conjunction. It is where you get an eclipse, where the moon passes between the sun and the earth. It is where you get the total eclipse. You also get a shadow of the sun going across onto the moon. That is a partial eclipse going onto the other side. But when you get the total eclipse it is where it goes through that conjunction where you go past that particular point and that is known as the Molad.

Now here in I Samuel 20:5, it is very clear that they had to have some kind of idea of when the new moon was going to be. It could not be purely by observation, because it could be cloudy. It had to be by partial calculation, they had to know - or at least knew - that it was at least 29 days followed by 30 days, followed by 29 days, followed by 30 days, because you have got 29 and a half days for a lunar month. So they knew at this particular time and therefore they must have been calculating, there must have been some kind of method of calculation and of a calendar. Genesis 1:14 talks about:

"And God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years:" (Genesis 1:14)

God says; "...let them..." (Genesis 1:14). The new moon is not just the conjunction. It is not when the moon passes in front of the sun, that line between the earth and the sun, that is the Molad. The moon has got to rise that little bit more so that you in your rocket-ship can see it. So that me on the earth as I whiz past at 900 miles per hour just as it comes to sunset, I can also see that faint crescent.

Now another thing to be aware of, when you are actually doing this, in your rocket ship and pointing towards the setting sun; be aware as that earth is rotating round - suppose you just catch the faintest glimpse, as Jerusalem is going underneath us in the rocket-ship, we are looking at this horizon in the west and we see the moon just start, the faintest crescent that is there, that you put your left hand into, that you just see it as you go over Jerusalem. As you move west, or as the west moves towards you underneath you, so that is growing all the time. So the visibility of the new moon is greater as you go towards the west and it is less as you go towards the east. Does that make sense?

You can actually see more of the moon in America than you can in the Philippines on the same day, because they are on the extremities. And it is not just the earth that has been rotating. While the earth as been rotating, the moon has been moving towards you. It has been coming up. It has been rising and therefore you see progressively more of that moon.

Today's Pagan Calendar (PLAY FROM 58:58)

Let me just give a little bit more regarding today's pagan calendar, which is solar; it is a solar calendar that we have got today. Now what actually happened around the 5th Century BC, the 400's BC, Greece was coming into prominence and Greece had a whole variety of calendars. Now what actually happened, and what they say about Greece and the rising of Greece - the thing that made Greece - and what they say about it is that; "The wheel gave industry and the calendar gave it commerce."

It was the calendar that actually allowed them to make arrangements as to what they were going to do on a particular day, and make plans for the future. This standardisation actually happened and gave them the basis for their empire. They had a certain standardised calendar which was a solar calendar that they had round about the 5th Century BC.

Now Julius Caesar in 45 BC when you are looking at Rome, you come then to the Julian calendar. Now what they looked towards as far as their calendar was concerned were the Egyptians. And so the calendar that we have got now has got a basis back in Egypt. So we are looking at Egypt as far as the basis for our present calendar - we are not on a Julian calendar at all. There were no leap years in the Egyptian calendar. Julius Caesar added leap years, because he could see they were getting out of kilter. To keep it in kilter with the sun he implemented leap years.

The only problem is that 365 and a quarter days for a year is wrong. It is not 365 and a quarter days. It is 365 days, 5 hours, 48 minutes and 46 seconds. That is the astronomical day and therefore what is actually happening when you are looking at the Julian calendar, you have got too much time being built up. You are moving in the direction of having too much time by 11 minutes and 15 seconds.

So by the time you get to five or six years, you have actually got too much by an hour. By the time you get to 125 years, you are a day out. You have got too much time in your calendar. So what then happened was in 1582 Pope Gregory actually recognised, or the people recognised for him, that they were ten days out. The calendar was actually out of sync with heavens by ten days. So in 1582 on October the 4th and October 4th in 1582 was a Wednesday. The next day was October the 15th which was a Thursday. And people moaned and groaned and said they got rid of their lives and all the rest of it and of course it had no bearing whatsoever. It was exactly the same day, it was just the calendar was inflated and therefore you had to get rid of ten days.

Now this Gregorian calendar that we have got today, and that is what we are using at this present time, has actually got 13 days removed, another three days had to go. Because, what they say is that every 400 years three days get dropped. And in 1600 there was a leap year, but 1700, 1800 and 1900 were not leap years. The year 2000 if you remember was a leap year, but the year 2100, 2200 and 2300 are not leap years and 2400 will be a leap year again.

So when we are looking therefore at the present calendar that we have got, again what are we looking at? We are looking at authority. Who was in authority to change these things? Who is in authority to say; "Well OK, we have got to get rid of some days"? Well at that particular time that authority was in Europe which was the authority which was governing most of the civilised world as we knew it at that time in 1582. The Pope, unfortunately was the authority at that particular time. And he therefore and the people with him went ahead and decided to take those days out.

Now that is neither here nor there as far as the character of the Hebrew calendar is concerned. But I want you to notice that even in the world you have got to have an authority. Even in the world you have got to say where the Date Line is. You have got to say that Tonga is allied with Australia and the Aleutian Islands are allied with Alaska. You have got to have an authority to say that, and there as got to be an authority there.

God's Calendar and Faith (PLAY FROM 1:04:13)

Now when we come towards God's calendar and we will probably go a little way into the next point, on God's calendar and faith, we will pick up on there when we go into the next sermon. Turn with me to Genesis 7:11 I want you to understand something, I want you to notice something here:

"In the six hundredth year of Noah's life [Noah measured his years according to his life, he counted the years past, all the way through as far as his life was concerned], in the second month, the seventeenth day of the month, the same day were all the fountains of the great deep broken up, and the windows of heaven were opened." (Genesis 7:11)

So it is the seventeenth day of the second month. That is when it actually took place. I am not going to go into all the details, but the actual calendar was slightly different here. The beginning of the year was Trumpets. It wasn't Passover. It wasn't Passover time. Abib was not the start of the year at this particular time. That is why there was a change that Moses had actually made, that Abib became the beginning of the year because the Holy Days flowed down from Abib down through the rest of the calendar. In Genesis 8:4, notice:

"And the ark rested in the seventh month, on the seventeenth day of the month, upon the mountains of Ararat." (Genesis 8:4)

Now that corresponds - when you are looking at the seventh month, the seventeenth day of the month - the chances are that that would correspond with the day, the Sabbath day, that Christ was actually resurrected on. So again God is not doing things arbitrarily here. Certain of these dates were meaningful. In Genesis 7:24:

"And the waters prevailed upon the earth an hundred and fifty days." (Genesis 7:24)

Now you have got the second month on the seventeenth day of the month when it started. The seventh month on the seventeenth day of the month when the washing backwards and forwards had stopped. It stopped prevailing on the earth and it says here that that is 150 days. Now if you subtract two from seven you come up with five. But that is five months of 30 days. It is not quite the same as we have today, we have got a 29 and a half day month. But there we are looking at a 30 day month. So they alternate, 29, 30, 29, 30 is the way the Hebrew calendar works. And we see the same in Genesis 8:3, it says:

"And the waters returned from off the earth continually [from going and returning continually, the moment of washing back and forth had stopped]: and after the end of the hundred and fifty days the waters were abated." (Genesis 8:3)

So this 150 days. Now it is interesting again in Genesis 8:13:

"And it came to pass in the six hundredth and first year, in the first month [Tishri], the first day of the month [The day of Trumpets], the waters were dried up from off the earth: and Noah removed the covering of the ark, and looked, and, behold, the face of the ground was dry." (Genesis 8:13)

As the Jews believe; and it makes sense, to have the beginning of the creation at the Tishri because you are looking at all the fruits there being on the trees, being able to harvest everything. The harvest was all ready for the man and women who were put into the garden and all the harvest was there for them to eat. Tishri would make sense. In the same way when Noah came on the scene here, he came and he actually started again on the first of Tishri.

Now, the thing I want you to notice though, and the thing I want to point out is, that there was a calendar, there was a calendar at the time of Noah. It is not something that has just suddenly come on the scene. But there was a calendar at the time of Noah. It may be - and this is the question, we just do not know - but it may well be that there were 360 days in the year. And 12 months of 30 days. Maybe in the Millennium it may be that God puts, or Jesus Christ puts back - "restores all things" - and He puts back a calendar which is precise. It may be. Or it may be that the calculations were awry at that time, and it was therefore being a general concept, but I tend to have my doubts on that. God doesn't tend to be or look at things that way.

When we are looking at this entire subject though, and this is the heart and core of the subject itself, it is that it is primarily a matter of faith. The faith that God is quite capable of guiding His Church, of guiding His people. Of giving the oracles to who He wanted the oracles to go to. Of making sure that those oracles are correct and it is not a case of how the Holy Days then must be kept, it is merely a case of when they are to be kept. The Holy Days then fit onto the calendar.

We are not subservient to the calendar. The calendar is not put up there in such a way - let's take that example I gave before, that in the case of Tonga, in the case of the Aleutian Islands; it is a case of the relationship between ourself and God on the Sabbath day. That is crucial, and therefore even though the same sun is up there and the same sun is actually setting for the people in Tonga before the Thursday sun is setting for those in the Aleutian Islands, it is this relationship between God that is important.

And it is also the authority that is necessary within the Church and also within the world as a whole. And even the ideas that we have today as far as commerce, industry or whatever, those ideas, there is a standard that has got to be made. And as we will come on and see in the next sermon there was a time that was crucial which was 142 AD and what you are looking at there is, when the Sanhedrin, the Beth-din which actually have the control of the calendar made a pronouncement. And just after that you then get the quartodeciman controversy between the Catholic church and the true Church. And the reason for that is because the Jews had to go ahead and make a pronouncement and had to make a decision of adjusting the intercalary years. The way in which the calendar is actually calculated.

Just in the same way as we just talked about Pope Gregory made an adjustment to the Julian calendar to come up with the Gregorian calendar, so the Jews had to adjust their calendar in order to keep everything in sync. They also had gained ten days and they took it out in 142 AD. And the people in Rome said; "No we are not going to listen to the Jews." But the people in the east said; "We have got to listen to the Jews because that is the way that all the apostles before us operated."

And there was this controversy between the two. The authority was to do with the capendar! The authority was; do we listen to the Jews? And the quartodeciman is the 14th of Nisan, when the Passover had got to be kept. So this history, the actual history is that the true Church held onto the Jewish calendar. They put themselves under the Jewish calendar and the pagans, the Roman Catholics went their own way.

The issue is not one of rocket-ships charging round the world and getting all the astrological bits right, making sure you have got these days and whether the barley harvest is wherever it is in Israel. It is to do with authority. It is who has the right? Where are the oracles of God preserved? And in history as we will go on and see next time, even history itself tells us the Jews have the oracles of God. They were given the jurisdiction over those oracles and that is precisely the way we have been left, by the apostle that was sent to us, which was Mr Herbert Armstrong.


Footnotes:

{1} The differences between solstices and equinoxes are explained at: At https://www.britannica.com/story/whats-the-difference-between-a-solstice-and-an-equinox.

{2} Phases of the moon are explained here: https://spaceplace.nasa.gov/moon-phases/en/