The following is a letter written by Mr. Armstrong in the spring of 1940. It was written to help the brethren determine the correct date for Passover and the other Holy Days by using the Hebrew Calendar. Like it is today, many brethren were having difficulty with this. The letter is reproduced as it was written with only a few minor edits.
HOW TO FIGURE PASSOVER
Mr. Herbert W. Armstrong
Because the Catholics and Protestants figure “Easter” a month earlier than the Hebrew Calendar sets Passover this year, … and because Brother Dodd has published the date March 22 as Passover, while both Stanberry and Salem organizations have the date as April 21st, many of the brethren are in doubt, and want the facts.
Briefly, after very exhaustive study, and counsel with brethren who also have made thorough study of the question for years, the facts are these:
1) The Bible YEAR is solar, while the Bible MONTH is lunar.
2) PROOF the Bible month is lunar; that is, each month begins with a new moon: By studying Numbers 28 and 29, we learn offerings were held DAILY (verses 3-4), WEEKLY on every Sabbath (verse 9), MONTHLY on the 1st day of each month (verse 11), and YEARLY on the annual Holydays (verse 16 and on through chapter 29). Compare with I Chronicles 23:31; II Chronicles 2:4; 8:13; 33:3; etc., where the same sacrifices and meat and drink offerings are mentioned, and in each case the MONTHLY offerings are on the NEW MOON. Since Numbers 28:11 says this is the “beginnings of your months” or the first day of each month, we have Bible proof the 1st day of each month is calculated by the New Moon.
3) The Bible YEAR is solar. This is proved by the Festivals and Holy Days. A month is between 29 and 30 days. A 12-month year, or lunar year, is approximately 354 days, whereas a solar year is a little more than 365 days. Thus a lunar year is about 11 days less than a solar year. If the Bible year were lunar, always 12 new moons, Passover would be about 11 days earlier each year. Thus, in about nine years it would come in the MIDWINTER; in another 9 in the fall, and a few years later Passover would come in the SUMMER. In 34 years it and all the Holy Days would make the round of all four seasons. But Passover ALWAYS comes in the SPRING, at the time of the early grain harvest. On the morrow after the Sabbath during the Feast of Unleavened Bread, the priest waved the wave-sheaf, and none of the early Spring grain could be used until this was done, Leviticus 23. Pentecost ALWAYS came in the summer, Tabernacles always in the fall at the time of, or right after, the Fall harvest, Leviticus 23:39. These were set Feasts, set for DEFINITE SEASONS of the year, Exodus 23:14-17; 34:18, 22-23; Deuteronomy 16:9,13,16; Leviticus 23:4; Numbers 28:2; Exodus 13:10
4) These facts prove there had to be an intercalary, or 13th, month ADDED to the year SEVEN TIMES in each 19 years. God had set the sun, the earth, and the moon in motion so that once every 19 years the sun and moon come into conjunction. That is, once in 19 years there will be a new moon on March 21st, for example. There are SEVEN more new moons in each 19-year solar-lunar cycle than there are solar months, (12 to the year). God’s great time cycle, written in the heavens, is based upon SEVEN – God’s complete number, signifying Sabbath – added to TWELVE, the number of the Tribes of Israel, number of Jesus’ original apostles, etc.! Since this is true, the ONLY POSSIBLE METHOD by which months can begin on new moons, and yet the solar year can be retained, is to add a 13th month every two or three years, seven times in 19 years. Nowhere do the scriptures specifically mention an intercalary month, yet these facts of astronomy and these Bible facts PROVE it was used.
5) Now, our problem is, WHEN, and HOW OFTEN, did God ordain these intercalary months should be added.
Research reveals two basic points on this question, 1st, GOD DID NOT RECORD IT IN THE BIBLE, which gives us absolute nothing more to go on than I have stated above. 2nd, History is vague on the subject, shedding little light that can be accepted and trusted. Yet we know God gave HIS PEOPLE a fixed rule for calculating TIME PERIODS, and for figuring WHEN to hold the Festivals of Jehovah. Otherwise, the prophecies, so full of definite time-periods, can never be understood. Otherwise God’s people could not obey Him!
We learn in the Bible the men of old did have understanding of the times. They knew how to figure time. ‘Of the children of Issachar, were men that HAD UNDERSTANDING OF THE TIMES, to know what Israel ought to do,” I Chronicles 12:32. See Esther 1:13.
In Daniel 7:25, the ‘little horn,” or papacy, was to “think to change TIMES” as well as laws. Notice, only to THINK to change them – to deceive the world in general, but not God’s people. Thus with the LAW and the Sabbath. The world is deceived. But have WE lost “TIME” in respect of the Sabbath? No! This Scripture, then, indicates TIME HAS NOT BEEN LOST! The true sacred calendar is no more lost than the weekly Sabbath. Then WHO HAS PRESERVED THIS TIME, this sacred CALENDAR? To whom did God give it? To whom were “the oracles of God COMMITTED?” To ISRAEL AND JUDAH, of course! Israel LOST the Sabbath, LOST time, and LOST even her national name and identity. But JUDAH NEVER DID. Judah has kept TIME in respect to the weekly SABBATH. The Jews rejected Christ. They apostatized in doctrine, BUT THEY WERE STRICT, STICKLERS FOR THE LETTER OF THE LAW. Would such a people have lost their calendar? If so, TIME IS LOST! There is no other source through whom God could have committed AND PRESERVED His calendar. He did COMMIT it to them. Therefore it must be through them He has preserved it! They had the calendar correct at the time of Christ. They figured Passover, all the Feasts, as He did. In 70 A. D. the Jews were scattered in every nation. The present “Jewish Calendar” has come down intact without change since 100 A. D. – that much is proven by history. Could they have changed it, and all changed it exactly in the same ways, while scattered all over the world, and that within a thirty-year period between 70 and 100 A. D.? IF THE PRESENT JEWISH CALENDAR EVER WAS CHANGED FROM THE WAY GOD COMMITTED IT TO THEM, IT HAD TO BE DURING THOSE THIRTY YEARS. The Jews in one part of the world, without knowing what the Jews in other parts of the world were doing, all had to get it changed in exactly the same way! That, of course, was utterly IMPOSSIBLE!
Further PROOF comes through the continuous observance of Passover by one Jewish sect, going by the name of “Samaritans.”
In the Encyclopedia Britannica, 14th edition, volume 17, page 357, we read:
“The Samaritans have throughout their history observed the Passover with all its Pentateuchal ceremony and still observe it down to the present day. They sacrifice the paschal lamb, which is probably the oldest religious rite that has been continuously kept up.” Here are the ONLY people who have kept Passover, continuously, through all generations without a break, exactly as God gave it to them under the Old Testament form. They have NEVER made any change in their doctrines regarding Passover, or the manner of observing it. Could THEY have lost the calendar – the way of figuring WHEN to take it – as God committed it to them? Hardly! Yet they use today the same calendar all the Jews use – the sacred original calendar!
Interesting, too, is the fact they observe Passover on the eve, or night part, of the 14th, not on the 15th. They observe the FEAST the night of the 15th. Also they have continued to figure Pentecost from the morrow after the WEEKLY SABBATH during the days of unleavened bread, the true Bible way – instead of from the first annual Sabbath.
In conclusion, unless God has preserved His sacred calendar through the Jews, then WE DO NOT KNOW how to figure Passover or ANY of the Holydays this year. For there is NO AUTHORITY for any other way.
There is NO BIBLE AUTHORITY WHATSOEVER for figuring the 1st day of the 1st month from the new moon NEAREST the Spring equinox!
As soon as I learned of Brother Dodd’s published dates for the Festivals this year, I sent him a telegram asking his authority for his dates. His reply is that he bases his method of figuring on certain statements of profane history found in encyclopedias. He replies, In some Bible dictionary, or Encyclopedia, or Jewish encyclopedia, I read something like this: “The ancient reckoning of Passover was from the actual sight of the New Moon nearest the Vernal Equinox …!’
But, we ask, (though Brother Dodd is quoting from memory, and was unable to find the clipping or reference, or state WHERE he had read this), how did the man who wrote the article in the encyclopedia KNOW this was the ancient method of reckoning? Did HE offer proof? The Jews, continuing the observance of all the seven Festivals every year continuously, though scattered all over the world, say it was figured anciently as they figure it today, by the Jewish calendar. What more dependable record has come down from Moses’ time?
Brother Dodd also cited Josephus, Jewish historian, to indicate that Passover could NEVER be earlier than March 20th, or later than April 13th. Yet in Hastings Bible Dictionary, I find this same Josephus quoted as saying the vernal equinox (March 21), always occurred IN Nisan, which means the year always began with the new moon PRIOR to March 21st. They quote one more author to this same effect, (Muss-Arnolt, p. 77). This one writer says Josephus (Ant. I,5,5) figured from the new moon PRIOR to March 21st, another uses the same Josephus to prove we ought to take the new moon NEAREST the same date, or about half the time the new moon FOLLOWING March 21st, while in the Britannica I find statements supposed to be historic that it ALWAYS began with the first new moon AFTER March 21st.
Surely we can see that profane history only contradicts itself, is inaccurate, and cannot be depended upon, and HAS NO AUTHORITY WHATSOEVER. There is no Bible authority for any of it.
God did not commit His oracles, or the preservation of His TIMES to profane history, or to the Roman Catholics, but to the Israelites [Romans 3:2]. And they have been preserved BY THE JEWS.
The Catholics are the ones who have thought to CHANGE the Times. They say the paschal new moon this year is the one BEFORE March 21st, and figure Easter accordingly. The Jews say it is the one AFTER March 21st.
After thorough study of the Bible, of the Hebrew calendar, of history, and every angle, -- after going into the matter with all the Eugene brethren, and other brethren who have made a special study of this question, we have unanimously agreed that the Hebrew calendar has been preserved correct by the Jews.
The new moon occurs, IN JERUSALEM, (World Almanac) at exactly 10:18 P.M., the night of April 7th, which is the eve of April 8th. However, God had the new moon observed by the naked eye, and by this method the first day of the 1st month begins the following sunset, April 8th. This Passover comes after sunset April 21st, and the HOLY CONVOCATION after sunset April 22nd, which is Abib 15th. The second Holyday begins sunset April 26th, with holy convocation held during the day-time, April 29th. Pentecost this year is JUNE 17th, sunset, until sunset June 18th, instead of June 12th [Sivan 6] as erroneously figured on our calendar printed three years ago.
Sacred calendar, for 1940.
Passover, after sunset April 21st.
Unleavened Bread, April 21 to 29th,
First Sabbath, meeting after sunset April 22nd,
Second Sabbath, daytime April 29th.
PENTECOST, daytime meeting, Tuesday, June 18th [sic., he means Monday June 17th, but was changed to Sunday in 1974 by Mr. Armstrong].
TRUMPETS, Sabbath, October 3rd.
ATONEMENT (fast), October 12th
TABERNACLES, sunset October 16th to sunset October 24th.
How to figure Passover was a mimeographed legal sized article written in early 1940 (the dates match with the Jewish calendar), for it has a 1940 calendar of Holy Days.
From: Early writings of Mr. Herbert W. Armstrong
THE TRUE PENTECOST
Pentecost is a vitally important Day in the lives of all those who have been called and chosen by God: “… by THE WORD OF TRUTH to be a kind of firstfruits of His creatures” (James 1:18).
Firstfruits, who are to be harvested at the end of this age when Jesus Christ returns in awesome power and great glory to take over the rulership of this earth from Satan and then as glorified family members we are to assist Him in ruling over the nations of this world.
Pentecost pictures the beginning of the New Testament Church of God when God the Father poured out His Holy Spirit for the first time begetting His called out and chosen ones to establish the very foundation and building of the body of Christ.
This occurred on Sunday, June 17, 31 A. D. when our Father for the first time in a unique, dramatic and powerful manner manifested this wonderful blessing as it descended upon the 120 disciples who were assembled in a room in the Temple in Jerusalem in obedience to Christ.
Since that beginning the Church of God has been in the growth and ripening states and will come to the acceptable ripeness through the grace and help of Jesus Christ when He returns to fulfill this awesome and wonderful responsibility of bringing about a new and wonderful world in which mankind will come to be at peace with one another and righteousness will begin to reign over the whole earth.
A COMMAND FROM CHRIST
Jesus Christ remained here on earth after His resurrection for 40 days before ascending to heaven (Acts 1:3). Just prior to His departure, He told His disciples to wait in Jerusalem for this blessing to take place in their lives:
And being assembles together with them, He commanded them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the Promise of the Father “which,” He said, “you have heard from Me” (Acts 1:4).
This is also recorded in the book of Luke:
“Behold, I send the Promise of My Father upon you; but tarry in the city of Jerusalem until you are endowed with POWER from on high” (Luke 24:49).
Though there is no written record of Christ stating what day they were to receive this Promise they knew the wait would be 10 days from then, Pentecost! The 120 disciples gathered together at the designated place for they had observed this Festival all of their lives and understood exactly the right day and time to be there for the receiving of this wonderful blessing. And they did as we find in Scripture:
Now when the Day of Pentecost had FULLY COME, they (the 120) were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. Then there appeared to them tongues as of fire distributed and resting on each (margin) of them. And they were ALL FILLED with the Holy Spirit … (Acts 2:1-4).
Both commandments had been fulfilled and they then received God’s Holy Spirit that made them His begotten people and the very first of the firstfruits of the many who would be added to them over 2000 years of time. All are then to be resurrected as the completed first harvest in God’s plan.
God has seven annual Holy days. Six are on the same day every year according to the Hebrew calendar. They vary, of course, on the Roman calendar from year to year.
As already noted, Pentecost, however, must be counted: “And you shall count for yourselves from the day after the Sabbath, from the day (Sunday) that you brought the sheaf of the wave offering: seven Sabbaths shall be completed. Count 50 days to the day after the seventh Sabbath; then you shall [observe the Feast of Firstfruits]” (Leviticus 23:15-16, New King James throughout).
Jews and Christians who spoke Greek came to call the Holy day pentekoste, which means “fiftieth.”
Pentecost was called the “Feast of Firstfruits” in the Old Testament (Exodus 34:22). The Greek word pentecost is derived from two Greek words: pente meaning “fifty” and cost meaning “to count.” Literally translated Pentecost means: “count fifty.” (Smith’s Dictionary of the Bible, article: Pentecost).
Normally, there is no question on which Sunday for the Church to begin counting Pentecost. Notice the instruction from God: “You shall also count for yourselves from (Hebrew, ‘beginning with’) the day after the Sabbath, from (‘beginning with’) the day you brought in the sheaf of the wave offering there shall be seven complete Sabbaths.” …
In a normal sacred year, all one needs is to locate the weekly Sabbath falling during the Days of Unleavened Bread, and on the morrow after (on Sunday) begin counting the fifty days.
Counting to 50 is not the problem. The problem is to understand where the beginning point should be.
Over many years until this present time too many people have felt merely because God records the method by which Pentecost is counted, they are qualified to come to independent conclusions about when Pentecost should be kept!
They are wrong! They have attempted to take to themselves a responsibility that God placed ONLY in the hands of His called, chosen, and faithful ministers, and in our time, His late apostle, Mr. Herbert W. Armstrong, and those who have remained faithful to those teachings that God made known through him!
The instructions for counting Pentecost are given in the book of Leviticus – the book for the Levites. The Levites were God’s priests doing the work of the ministry of the Old Testament.
Leviticus is written, not so the common lay-members of the Church could “second guess” God’s ministry, but so His ministers could know how Pentecost is to be properly counted. The ministers then were to make this known to the whole congregation.
Though sincere as they may be, it is sad that some ministers and lay-members no longer recognize and accept the office of the man God used to restore the true foundational doctrinal teachings within His Church in this end-time.
Among such people are those who have not remained faithful to the teaching regarding where the count should begin to determine the right day in such as year as this! They use a different method of counting and will have observed Pentecost, 2005, one week late, as some have also used the wrong means of calculation to determine the date of the Passover and observe it on the wrong date!
GOD NOT THE AUTHOR OF CONFUSION
Almighty God is not the author of confusion! (I Corinthians 14:33.) The proper dates of the Passover, Pentecost, and other Holy Days, are vitally important in God’s Master Plan of salvation for mankind. It is not logical nor does it make sense He would leave His people all confused and observing them at different times!
God has placed specific offices in His true Church from its very beginning to determine just such things as the exact date of the Passover and where the count should begin regarding Pentecost (Ephesians 4:11-13)! There are no other dates acceptable in God’s Church!
The office of the apostle is listed first among the levels of the ministry (I Corinthians 12:28; Ephesians 4:11). And it should be a recognized fact that God gives a greater measure of His Spirit to the highest office holder and a lesser measure to the lower offices.
As long as the fruits reveal the apostle is faithful to God and His teachings; the lower offices are to follow those teachings. Otherwise this can lead to rejection of God (I Samuel 8:7).
God has used only apostles from the very first century to place and determine doctrine in His Church! The only exception has been in some cases the prophets in Old Testament times. There are no apostles or prophets today!
The year, 2001, was one of those rare years that presented a problem to some. Jews and some in God’s Church were confused regarding the time to begin the count. Once again this is occurring in this present year, 2005.
The Pharisees interpreted “the day after the Sabbath” (as do Jews today) as the day after the first annual Sabbath of the Feast of Unleavened Bread –- always on the 16th day of the first Hebrew month, Abib, no matter what day of the week it may be.
The Sadducees, most of whom were priests, said the wave offering should be made on the day after a weekly Sabbath during the Feast of Unleavened Bread. This would always be on a Sunday and not on a specific day of the month.
When we examine the context and the New Testament, the correct meaning of the Sabbath becomes clear.
THE FIRSTFRUITS WAVE OFFERING
The firstfruits wave offering pictured the resurrected Christ and His ascension into heaven to be accepted as the First of the firstfruits. Jesus Christ was resurrected at the close of the weekly Sabbath (Saturday evening), but He ascended to His Father in heaven sometime early Sunday morning (the following day after the Sabbath), as revealed by comparing John 20:17 with Matthew 28:9.
Christ was the first of the spiritual firstfruits: “But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the FIRSTFRUITS of those who have fallen asleep” (I Corinthians 15:20). With this in mind, Christ would have had to ascend on a Friday, the 16th of Abib, if the Pharisees were correct. (The first annual Sabbath of Unleavened Bread was Thursday that year). But He was NOT resurrected UNTIL the close of the Sabbath (that evening), and He ascended into heaven on a Sunday morning –- on the morrow after the weekly Sabbath!
Modern Judaism observes the wrong day. The Jews have PRESERVED the Hebrew calendar and Scriptures, but do NOT fully understand those Scriptures. God opened the mind of His late apostle to understand those Scriptures along with the correct use of the Hebrew calendar God had preserved through the Jews (Romans 3:2).
We had before us the question in the recent occasional year, 2001, which Sunday should we have begun the count to determine the Day of Pentecost?
In most years, only one Sunday falls during the Feast of Unleavened Bread; therefore that Sunday is clearly the day the firstfruits should have been offered.
But when the Feast of Unleavened Bread begins on the beginning of the weekly Sabbath (evening) and ends at the close of the same Sabbath (sunset), the question that has perplexed and misled some: should the firstfruits wave offering be on the following day, Sunday, the first day of the Feast, or Sunday the day after the seventh day of the Feast?
To be explicit – which Sunday should the Church use to begin the count to determine Pentecost when the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread begins on a weekly Sabbath, as it did in 2001, and now in 2005?
We have understood for years that we always let Scripture reveal answers to our questions. Remember God led the prophet Isaiah to tell us the answers are found here and there (Isaiah 28:10, 13). We find the answer to this perplexing question when Israel first entered the Promised Land.
So the children of Israel camped in Gilgal, and kept the Passover on the 14th day of the month (weekly Sabbath) at twilight on the plains of Jericho. And they ate of the produce of the land on the day after the Passover (Sunday), unleavened bread and parched bread on the very same day (Joshua 5:10-11).
The Authorized Version (King James) of the Bible says they ate “old corn,” but “old” is not in the Hebrew text (NRSV, NJPS, International Version, etc.).
Note the writings of the following Commentaries:
SONCINO COMMENTARY: Joshua 5:11 … THE PRODUCE OF THE LAND. Since the manna ceased to fall, as stated in the next verse. The Rabbis held that the new harvest is meant, the Israelites first having brought the wave-offering of the ‘sheaf’ (omer), in accordance with Leviticus 23:10-14, the morrow after the Passover here being identical with the morrow after the Sabbath there.”
CRITICAL, EXPERIMENTAL COMMENTARY, Volume II, Page 13:
Joshua 5:11 … they did eat of the old corn … [not ‘old corn’ as in the English Version]. This was conformably to the law (Leviticus 23:5-14). Parched corn – new grain (see on Leviticus 23:10), probably lying in the fields. …”
ADAM CLARKE COMMENTARY, Volume II, Page 23:
Joshua 5:11 They did eat of the old corn of the land] The Hebrew word abur, which we translate old corn, occurs only in this place in such a sense, if that sense be legitimate. The noun, though of doubtful signification, is evidently derived from abar, to pass over, to go beyond; and here it may be translated simply the produce, that which comes from the land into the hands of the cultivator; …
On the morrow after the Passover] That is, on the 15th day; for then the Feast of Unleavened Bread began. But they could neither eat bread, nor parched corn, nor green ears, till the firstfruits of the harvest had been waved in the tabernacle; (see Leviticus 23:9, &c.;) …”
The very strong implication of Scripture makes known the Sunday falling within the Feast of Unleavened Bread would symbolically be the right one because it depicts an “unleavened” and perfectly sinless state that pictures the sinless Jesus Christ.
The wave sheaf offering, the very first of the cuttings of the barley or wheat, was a representation of Jesus Christ after His resurrection appearing in Heaven before God the Father for His acceptance by Him (John 20:17; Matthew 28:9; I Corinthians 15:20).
Based on the meaning of the Days of Unleavened Bread it strongly implies that Christ would not have been accepted by the Father; for these Days of Unleavened Bread pictured His totally unleavened state.
In Canaan, grain ripened in the spring, and the Canaanites would have harvested it as soon as they could. However, they were preparing for a siege, and the new grain was just becoming ripe. Therefore, all their old grain would long since have been harvested and stored in the city (Joshua 6:1).
The Israelites were eating newly harvested grain on the day after the Passover.
PHYSICAL LABOR INHERIT IN HARVESTING
A friend of mine wrote me the following: “There are those who are bothered about the physical labor inherit to harvesting as an objection to conducting the omer ritual on the weekly Sabbath. Please consider the following:
Offering the wave omer on a Holy day does not demand that the rest of the harvest progress on that day. The remainder of the harvest would certainly be deferred until the Holy day had ended.
- 2) The Passover, by all accounts, is allowed to transpire on the Sabbath Day. This involves the slaughtering and cooking of 1000s of lambs on Holy time. This is vastly more physical labor than would be inherent in harvesting and preparing the small amount of barley for the wave omer.
- Remember the Levites were required to work on the Sabbath and Holy Days as they were the servants of Jesus Christ fulfilling their charges on those Days:
Jesus said to the Pharisees, “Or have you not read in the law that on the Sabbath, the priests in the temple profane (margin: desecrate) the Sabbath and are blameless” (Matthew 12:5)? (End Quote)
Since eating new grain was permitted only after the firstfruits wave offering (Leviticus 23:14), we can conclude that the firstfruits wave offering had been that very morning or in the very beginning of the new day the night before of the first Day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, which that year was a Sunday.
As they offered the firstfruits on the Sunday DURING the Feast, the Feast must have begun that year on the first day of the week.
The morrow after the Passover was very special because it was the first day of Unleavened Bread and they had begun eating the newly harvested grain of the land.
And before they could partake of that new grain, the special ceremony of the wave sheaf offering first had to take place!
“You shall eat neither bread nor parched corn nor fresh grain UNTIL the same day that you have brought an offering to your God, …” (Leviticus 23:14).
Since the wave sheaf offering always occurred on a Sunday (that is, ‘the morrow after the Sabbath’), this tells us that the year the Israelites entered Canaan, the Passover Day fell on a weekly Sabbath, and the WAVE SHEAF OFFERING was on a Sunday, the first Holy Day of Unleavened Bread!
Just like this year, 2005! This Scripture reveals that it was the FIRST SUNDAY “WITHIN” the Days of Unleavened Bread God’s Church that should have BEGUN THE COUNT to determine the Day of Pentecost:
“And you shall (begin to) count for yourselves from (beginning with) the day that you brought forth the SHEAF OF THE WAVE OFFERING: seven SABBATHS shall be completed. Count 50 days to the day AFTER the 7th Sabbath: then you shall offer a NEW GRAIN OFFERING” (Leviticus 23:15-16).
Again, I repeat: To determine the correct date for Pentecost, we MUST BEGIN the count with the Sunday DURING the Feast of Unleavened Bread.
The day of the Wave Offering, the Sunday DURING the Feast of Unleavened Bread, was DAY ONE. Day SEVEN was a weekly Sabbath. DAY 49 would be the 7th Sabbath, and the 50th day would be on a Sunday, the day after the 7th Sabbath. Pentecost is therefore always on a Sunday. In the year, 2001, it was Sunday, May 27.
Pentecost for God’s people is too important for any of us to observe it on the wrong day. After all it does picture us as a few of the sickled firstfruits that are soon to be harvested when Christ returns to this earth to bring about our change in the resurrection.
Remember the 120 Disciples of Christ when He began His Church almost 2000 years ago? They were in the right place and on the right Day obeying the command from Christ. Is that not what we want? Is that not what we live for? Do NOT permit anyone to mislead you to believe otherwise. You could miss out!
Please realize that the true Feast of Firstfruits, or Pentecost, for this year is to be observed on Sunday, June 12, 2005.
It is our prayer that our good and wonderful caring God will bless all of His true people with a most profitable and meaningful Holyday.
Presently, there are any number of ministers and members who question the validity of using the Hebrew Calendar to determine the dates for the observance of the Holy Days. They also question the validity of using the rules of postponement that form the basis for the calendar calculations. Different conclusions have resulted from studies by ministers and members alike who have not accepted the findings of Herbert W. Armstrong, which were based on the Hebrew Calendar. It is obvious their various interpretations have led them into error, since they cannot all be right.
To resolve problems about fundamental doctrinal teachings within the Church, the apostle Paul, in his letter to the Church at Corinth, wrote that God has placed government in His Church (I Corinthians 12:27-28; Ephesians 4:11-16). Further, he wrote, “Christ is neither divided nor the author of confusion!” (I Corinthians 1:13; 14:33).
God’s form of government, if carried out correctly through His chosen and faithful ministry, eliminates any such confusion from developing -- confusion such as we see in the over 200 corporate Churches today. “The Church is organized as a theocratic government, hierarchical in form. The members do not set officials in the Church. God sets EVEN THE LAY MEMBERS in the Church” (I Corinthians 12:18, Mystery of the Ages, page 246). Unfortunately, since the death of Herbert Armstrong, we find ourselves in a tragically similar time to the Book of Judges: “A time when there was no king in Israel, and everyone did that which was right in his own eyes” (Judges 21:25).
Both Luke, in the book of Acts, and the apostle Paul, in his writings, make very clear that to prevent the members of His Church from being “blown about with every wind of doctrine,” God established the fundamental doctrinal teachings within His Church through His apostles -- and no one else! (Acts 2:42; Ephesians 3:3-5; 2:19-20; I Corinthians 4:1-2; 2:10; II Peter 1:21, etc.). God used the early apostles to “plant” the foundational doctrines of the Church. Ministers are to “water” (expound upon) these teachings. God then gives the increase (I Corinthians 3:6,10).
In order to understand the function of an apostle, it would be helpful to consider the meaning of the word apostle in the Greek language: Apostle -- apostolos, means a delegate, ambassador. A chosen messenger who is sent to perform a special mission for God. One sent forth by God. Officially a commissioner of Christ (Strongs and Youngs, Concordances; Ungers Bible Dictionary, etc.).
In contrast: Apostasy means a falling back, abandonment, rebellion, desertion of obedience toward God, a denial of faith in Christ (The Interpreter’s Dictionary of the Bible, volume 1, page 170). As stated, apostasy IS a denial of faith in Christ, and it rejects His use of the apostles He has specially chosen to fulfill the responsibilities He has given them.
The Church in the early 20th century lost much of its foundation -- its Truth -- as a result of persecution and compromise (Mystery of the Ages, page 289). God began using His late apostle, Mr. Armstrong, to RESTORE the truth, as He promised He would in the end time (Malachi 4:4-6; Matthew 17:11). Considering the fact God restored, through His apostle, Herbert Armstrong, knowledge of the Feast days and the proper seasons for observing them, it is only logical God would also make known, through him, the exact dates and times of these commanded assemblies.
The fact is, God made known to ancient Israel, through a calendar He gave them, when His Passover and Holy Days were to be observed (Exodus 12:2; Deuteronomy 16:1; Leviticus 23). That Calendar was still being used in the New Testament. Christ, His family, and His disciples observed the Passover, Pentecost, and other Holy Days according to that calendar (Luke 2:41). As a result, the disciples knew exactly when they were to meet together on the day of Pentecost in 31 A.D. (Acts 2:1).
During the early years of his ministry, Mr. Armstrong encountered the same problem we are experiencing in 2001 with counting Pentecost. In the process of restoring truth, Mr. Armstrong was forced to make an in-depth study into the means God uses to make sure His people would know when to observe the Passover, along with all the Holy Days. His study also included when to begin and end the COUNT for Pentecost. This knowledge was delivered to him over a period of time, the final adjustment being the correct day for beginning the Pentecost count. Though he had the wrong day -- for a few years -- on the basis of his understanding of the Hebrew word translated “FROM,” God eventually led HIM to make the correction -- not anyone else!
God also led Mr. Armstrong to know how to count Pentecost in such a year as this one -- beginning the count INSIDE the Days of Unleavened Bread, not outside them, on Sunday, the first Holy Day of Unleavened Bread.
Mr. Armstrong’s findings are borne out when we consider what the Days of Unleavened Bread are to teach God’s people. The week of Unleavened Bread pictures the time of “escape” from sin. The Sheaf, Christ, who was first offered for sin, ascended (after He was resurrected) to His father to be accepted by Him, then returned -- a perfect representation of what the wave sheaf offering was to represent. Once the sacrifice for sin had been accepted, the barriers holding God’s people in enslavement to sin could be crossed. Obviously, this picture necessitated the sheaf offering being waved some time during the days of Unleavened Bread, so the “Red Sea” crossing on the last day of Unleavened Bread, picturing the final escape from bondage to sin, could occur.
Vol. VI, Number 10
Prove God's CALENDAR Correct!
Prove all things! God commands us to! Against what will we check the NEW MOON dates of God's Sacred Calendar to be certain they are correct?
by Kenneth C. Herrmann
ALMANAC DATES for the new moon sometimes disagree with those on the Sacred Calendar. Here is a point that has in years past caused some church members to become upset, to begin to stumble. One member will look for the first faint crescent of the new moon in our western sky and actually see this "new moon" a day or two AHEAD OF THE DATE DIVINELY APPOINTED as indicated on our Sacred Calendar. Another will look on the Roman Calendar or in an almanac. Are these individuals justified in being skeptical of our work in publishing this calendar? Or have they failed to read the instructions that go with it?
How did the men of Berea prove the words of Paul and Silas? First -- and this is important -- "they listened with all readiness of mind." They paid close attention to the instructions given. Then, they "SEARCHED the scriptures DAILY whether those things were so."
Again and again they compared with God's Word to see if the testimony of those men were true. The Scriptures were the standard against which the testimony of Paul and Silas would stand or fall.
WITHOUT SUCH A STANDARD to compare with, any attempt to prove a thing becomes futile, subject to all the weakness and vanity of human nature and subject to human 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 Sinai, 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 WITH 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.
It is our responsibility as God's people to search out these Oracles, to study and obey them.
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. Why not get back to the truth and then remain firm in it.
We Answer the Questions
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, God's people will continue to follow them.
Now We Ask You Questions
Now it is our turn to ASK YOU TO PROVE ALL THINGS. Have YOU already proved that the Sacred Calendar which we publish is identical with that preserved by God through the Jewish people?
Are the ministers in the Church of God able, in due time, to clear up puzzling questions and seeming contradictions about the calendar? Do they "read in the book of the law of God distinctly, and give the sense and cause the people to understand the reading?"