Mathematical Bias and the Biblical Calendar
(Revised 2021)

By: Shawn Richardson

Section 2:


To begin our Biblical search, we don't have to go very far. In the very first chapter of the first book of the Bible, Genesis 1: 14-19[1], we find Yehovah Himself being quoted at the time of creation itself:

Notice what is being created here: signs and seasons, days and years - a calendar? More specifically, He created lights in the firmament of the heavens, which are used as signs! The word firmament here is from the Hebrew word raqia (Strong's 7548[3]), which also translates as "expanse"; whereas the word heavens is shamayim (Strong's 8063[3]) meaning the "sky" above us. Therefore, this is describing these great lights in the expanse of the sky above us to give light on the earth below. Notice that these signs are being described from an observer's perspective right here on earth, not from some far off place floating somewhere out in the solar system. There are no scientific descriptions given here, no mythical secrets, no complicated rules and absolutely no mathematical formulas!

What exactly is a sign? Many contemporary Christians today infer from this word as being an omen, something extraordinary or miraculous. Although the sun and moon, of themselves, are miraculous as Yehovah's overall creation, they are also to be used as instruments in our ordinary day-to-day lives. The Hebrew word here for signs is 'oth (Strong's 226[3]) which means:

Therefore, these signs are the form of communication from Yehovah - a flag or beacon - that appear in the expanse of the sky. They are meant for us to take notice, to mark such an event! Just as a ship searches for land with the assistance of a lighthouse beacon in the midst of a storm, Yehovah created these signs for us to see with our own eyes. It is Yehovah's timepiece, a great clock in the sky above us!

Let's consider the difference, for a moment, between a calendar and a clock. If one were knocked unconscious for days at a time and awoke on a deserted island all alone with only a calendar lying in front of them, what would it tell them? Would they be able to determine the current date by simply looking at the calendar? Unless they could remember what day they were knocked out and had some other evidence corroborating how many days they were passed out, the short answer is no. Unlike a clock, a calendar cannot immediately infer information to the viewer on its own. A calendar is simply a tool, mathematically constructed, to assist one in their own future plans or to mark milestones from those that have occurred in the past. A clock, on the other hand, as long as it is functioning correctly and was properly set, can communicate information directly to the viewer. It would require no additional mathematics or information to determine the current time.

Genesis 1:14 is describing the components of this great timepiece and Yehovah God Himself is properly setting them in place. Notice verse 16 above where it states "God made two great lights." The Hebrew word here is 'asah (Strong's 6213[3]) which means:

This is telling us that Yehovah God appointed, or bestowed, the sun and the moon in the expanse of the sky. This does not necessarily mean the sun or moon were being created here from scratch. Remember, Genesis 1:14 was already the fourth day. If the sun did not exist prior to this, there would have been a need for some other light source to rule over the previous three days. Rather, the sun and the moon were being placed into their proper alignment, being put into motion to serve a particular purpose. In fact, it was from this very moment in history that the Creator God established His time. He ordained the sun and moon, along with the stars to divide the day from the night, to serve as signs - markers of time - to serve in determining His seasons, days and years!

It's important here to take note that the word 'seasons' is the Hebrew word 'mow'ed' (Strong's 4150[3]), which we have already learned refers to Yehovah's annual festivals, or appointed times (His appointments) referred to in Leviticus 23:2-5[1], where Yehovah instructs Moses to:

And a list of specific appointed times continues to the end of this chapter:

The term mow'ed makes the connection between the ordained signs of Genesis 1:14 and Yehovah's ordained appointments throughout each year. Exodus 13:10[1] instructs us:

The word seasons is not describing the mathematical concept of an equinox or the solar year being divided into winter, spring, summer and fall. These particular concepts, which have been so carefully ingrained into our brains, cause us to apply our mathematical bias to these verses. If we could overcome the mental noise within our heads and understand that this is referring, instead, to Yehovah's Festival Days, we can clearly see that He is allowing us to know when we should keep these appointments with Him - at His appointed time based on the signs of His great clock in the sky. Psalm 104:19[1] clearly makes this connection, as well:

Jeremiah 31:35[1] further clarifies that the sun, moon and stars were officially decreed by Yehovah Himself:

Observance versus Worship

This being said, it's also important to note that observing any of these objects (sun, moon or stars) has nothing to do with astrology or the worship of the heavenly bodies themselves. In fact, this practice is strictly condemned by Yehovah. Deuteronomy 4:15-20[1] clarifies this stating:

We see here that these signs were given to men as a heritage from generation to generation as a possession to use, but never worship! This warning is repeated in Isaiah 47:13-14:

Astrology, the study of celestial movements as having an influence in human affairs (such as horoscopes and other mythical practices based on the movements of the heavenly bodies), is different from Astronomy. The latter is the mathematical and observational study of those objects to better understand the universe and its overall function. Prognosticators, as they are called in the above verse, are forecasters who claim to obtain special knowledge of future events who, then, make supposed intimate predictions about one's life or group of individuals based on their secret understanding. As we can see, being driven to worship the signs of the sun or moon as entities, or gods, would also be a sin. They are merely objects that Yehovah uses (and ordained) in order for us to understand His timetable. Seeing them in the sky, or observing their motions, is completely different from worshiping them. Just as one should not worship the hands of a clock or believe it brings the viewer secret knowledge!

Use of Signs

Jesus (Yeshua) gave a very moving end-time prophecy in Matthew 24 that also gives us an example of signs. The Messiah's disciples listened very carefully to His prophecy of a future destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem and a later end-time age. As most of us in their shoes would do, the disciples immediately questioned when such things would take place. Notice what they ask in Matthew 24:3[1]:

Why would it occur to the disciples here to ask for a sign? The context here is that they wanted to know when this would happen. If we were in their shoes, wouldn't we be asking how many days from now will this take place? Our mathematical bias would probably cause is to break out our handy calendars that contained our neatly organized pattern of future days and ask Yeshua to point to the square that represents the exact date this will occur. The disciples, though, seemed more accustomed to telling time through the use of visible signs. After all, that's exactly what Genesis 1:14 described when telling God's time.

Yeshua went on to describe several events that would eventually come to pass - earthquakes, betrayals, false prophets and the abomination of desolation, to name a few. All of these are signs, but Yeshua went on to explain the example of a fig tree in Matthew 24:32-33[1]:

Yeshua refers to summer here. Again, he's not referring to the mathematical concept of the summer solstice (or the spring equinox); rather he is describing, in simple agricultural terms, the time of year when vegetative growth is about to begin. We can determine, through the arrival of simple signs, like leaves sprouting from the branches of a fig tree, that the full potential of the season is coming in the not-so-distant future. Yeshua stopped short of giving the disciples an exact date or sign. He only gave them warning signs to know when the time will draw near.

In the modern world, many "so-called" prophets give in to their confidence of mathematics, often leading them to imagine patterns and formulas within scripture that, they believe, indicate when the end-time age will occur. Referred to as "doomsday prophecies", these prophets tend to throw out dates, like candy, claiming the answer has been revealed to them. And they fail to come about time and time again, because these patterns and calculations are just not there! How do we know this? Verse 36 explains[1]:

Are we doing the same thing as these prophets when it comes to the Biblical calendar? Are we looking for patterns and calculations that don't exist? What need would there be for Yehovah to give us signs for His time if the intended result was to follow a mathematical formula all along? Yes, we can use attributes of these signs as variables within a calendar-based formula, but the formula would still be man-made, just like those of false prophets. If we were simply given a calculated calendar by Yehovah God, we would consequently have no need to actively look for any signs, making the purpose behind Genesis 1:14 completely moot. In order for us to know what time it is, we must actively keep watch for His signs! This theme continues in Matthew 24:42-44 that ends with this warning:

We can learn an important lesson here when applied to the Biblical calendar (or observing the Biblical clock). Looking for signs does not involve relying on mathematical calculations. Sure, we can utilize math as a tool to help us look for these signs. But if we truly desire to know when Yehovah has appointed His Holy time, His appointments, then we need to be like these watchmen, looking for His signs that He ordained - His lighthouse beacon - to visually observe when his time arrives! If we are actively looking, then His timetable will always remain forefront in our minds. It also builds anticipation for His appointed festivals! This is something that we can easily take for granted when we rely strictly on invisible, abstract calculations - especially calculations that are never given to us in scripture. Even more, what if our calculations are wrong?

Only by observation of His ordained signs can we truly understand, in our hearts, that we are proclaiming and guarding His time properly. How do we know this? Because mathematical calculations, aside from simple counting the number of days, simply do not exist in the Bible. Something this important would never get missed by the Almighty God, the Creator of the Universe! He would not have given someone a 'magical' formulas and then relied on man to spread that key understanding by word of mouth. Remember the Bereans in Acts 17:11? Teachings done by word of mouth is not what they searched for when they were looking to prove a doctrine.

Now that we have a better grasp on these lights serving as "signs (observable in the sky) and seasons (to determine His Feast days), and for days and years", let's begin by looking at what constitutes a Biblical Day by using these signs.

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