THE SABBATH AND THE CALENDAR: LUNAR OR SOLAR?

There  will always be people with new and innovative excuses  for not obeying God, especially when it comes to observing his fourth commandment: "Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy." One such argument  revolves around the idea that the lunar/solar  calendar in use today by the Jewish people is not the same kind of  calendar  that was in use when Israel was organized as a nation  under Moses. This argument also includes the belief that the calendar of Moses was purely  a solar calendar where the months were not set by the moon.  The principal  teacher  of  this  belief is Curtis Clair  Ewing  in  his  booklet "Israel's  Calendar and the True Sabbath," which is based on  a book by Samuel Walter Gamble "Sunday - the True Sabbath of God," published in 1900.

In his booklet, Ewing states, "Israel retained a thirty-day month, twelve  months to a year, but instead of adding five days at  the end  of the year, they added three days at the end of  the  sixth month and two days at the end of the twelfth month. The  governing  principle was that the extra days should be added only  when and where needed . . .. Seven supplementary days, or one week, were added every twenty-eight years to provide for the fraction of  a day" (p10).

Ewing's calendar is based on the interpretation of  scripture that requires  the annual festivals of Leviticus 23 to be weekly sabbaths, and the various prophecies and other scriptures that  seem to indicate  that  a year should be 360 days,  with twelve thirty day months.  This calendar has the effect of moving the Sabbath  forward  one  day each year following Pentecost, so  that  in  seven years,  the Sabbath cycles through all seven days of the week.  If this  calendar is the true calendar of Moses and  the one  Jesus  used,   we would not know which  day the Sabbath should be observed based on today's calendar. Moreover, we would not be able to obey  the fourth commandment. Additionally, we would have to accept a new Sabbath as  promoted by Ewing and Gamble.

The sincerity of the authors of these publications is not being called into  question, but sincerity does not define truth.   Admittedly, their calendar is very impressive, but is it the calendar used by ancient Israel or during the time of Christ?

In answering these questions, it is important to keep in mind that, although Jesus condemned the Scribes and Pharisees for their many  perversions of the law, he did not call into question the calendar that was in use in his day.  He observed the Sabbath and annual observances according to the sacred calendar in use at that time.

It  should  also be kept in mind that  all  historical and archeological  evidence, and  Jewish and Christian writings  and  traditions refute such a solar calendar as presented by these authors. But, this evidence is not the final proof and does not need to be  presented here to refute this calendar. Because the very foundational  argument  of  Gamble and Ewing is that ancient Israel had  a  365-day solar calendar, we need to turn to the Bible to see if there  is scripture that will prove or disprove this 365-day solar calendar as the inspired calendar of ancient Israel.

If the Bible shows that the calendar year used by ancient  Israel could not have possibly been a 365-day solar-calendar year, all other arguments presented by these authors collapse with their foundation and do not even need to be considered.  Their  premise that  the Sabbath of ancient Israel has not been  preserved,  and that  a new Sabbath has been established will have no basis  for belief.

PROOF OF A LUNAR/SOLAR CALENDAR

Ezekiel was inspired by God to date his prophecy and to enumerate a  number of days between the two dates given, which supports a a 365-day lunar/solar calendar, not a 365 day calendar.

A lunar/solar calendar bases the month on a moon cycle of approximately 29.5 days per month, and it requires the month to be made of complete days and the year to be complete months. Therefore, a year of 12 months will have 353, 354, or 355 days  to  a year,  depending  on the number of 29 and 30 day months  in  that year.  If no adjustments are made, the seasons will cycle through different months over a period of time.  However, God  commanded his  Annual Observances  and Festivals to be  kept  in  specific months and in specific seasons of the year (Lev.23:4-5).  To keep the months  in the proper seasons, a 13th month  must  be  added periodically in this calendar, which creates a year of 383,  384, or 385 days.

Ezekiel  began  his book by dating it while he was by  the  river Chebar in the 5th year of King Jehoiachin's captivity on the  5th day  of the 4th month (Ezk.1:1-2). He was commanded by God to go to  the House of Israel and speak to them (Ezk.3:4-5).   Then,  he sat  before  them  seven days (vs.15-16).  In  chapter  4,  God commanded  Ezekiel  to  act out a prophecy  concerning  Israel and Judah.   Acting out this prophecy required Ezekiel to lay on  his left side for 390 days, then turn to his right side and lay on it for  40  days  (Ezk.4:1-6).  After Ezekiel  had  completed  God's instructions,  he again dated his prophecy in the 6th  year,  6th month, and fifth day (Ezk.8:1)—exactly one year and two months later.

If Ezekiel was using the calendar as described  by Curtis  Ewing, this period of time should have been 425  days  or possibly 432 days if it was the 28th year when an extra week  was added. Adding up the days that Ezekiel counted (this  does  not include any travel time), we get 7 + 390 + 40 = 437 days.

With this number of days in this period of time, it is not possible for the calendar to be the solar calendar described by Ewing, nor could it be a regular lunar/solar calendar year of 12 months.  The only possibility is a lunar/solar calendar year that has  the extra month added.  Adding up the time allowed in a 13-month year plus two months, gives a period of time that lasts 443 days  plus or minus one or two days to correct for the variable number of 29 or 30-day months.  This agrees with Ezekiel's account of 437 days plus a few days of traveling time.

It  is obvious from scripture that the calendar of Israel  during the  time of the prophets was a lunar/solar calendar and not  the calendar  as  promoted by Gamble and Ewing.  It  should  also  be beyond  doubt  that the cycle was not lost from the time  of  the prophets to the time of Christ. Jesus Christ was sinless, he did not  violate any of God's laws and he kept the same Sabbath as the Jewish nation of his day.

The weekly cycle, as well as knowledge of what day is the seventh day of the week, has been preserved by  Catholics,  Protestants, Moslems,  and  Jews, without change since the time of  Christ to this day.   The Sabbath was indeed from Friday evening  to  Saturday evening  (on  today's calendar), both then  and  now.   Gamble's calendar, as promoted by Ewing, is shown by the Bible to be  just another  deception  that promotes the violation  of  the   fourth commandment—"Remember the Sabbath day and  keep  it  holy" (Ex.20:8).

By B. L. Cocherell, file b5w6