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Mathematical Bias and the Biblical Calendar
(Revised 2021)

By: Shawn Richardson

Section 7:

TIMES AND SEASONS

We have now established, using Biblical scripture and eliminating any mathematical bias, that days, months and years are determined through Yehovah's ordained signs, defined from an observer's perspective within the firmament above us. He gives us the sun to rule the days, the stars to divide the day from the night, and the moon to rule the night. The day begins after the sun's light gives way to the moon and stars, after it goes down below the horizon. The moon begins the month when it is renewed in the firmament, and it marks the seasons or the appointed festivals of Yehovah from which we are instructed to count. Additional instruction is given to begin counting those months (or renewed moons) with the renewed moon of the aviv harvest growing within the land, ready to present in the annual wavesheaf offering. We are told to blow trumpets, communicating the events of the renewed moon and Yehovah's appointed times. Finally, we are given direct instruction to keep a perpetual Sabbath every seven days, creating the continuous week.

We are given no instruction on substituting these signs for any kind of unseen, mathematical alternative such as a dark moon or the spring equinox. A new, or renewed, moon cannot be represented by a waning crescent or a full moon and we are certainly not given a fixed number of days to observe months or a fixed number of months for determining years. Sighting the signs given to us within the firmament depend on several variables controlled by Yehovah Himself, which include the movements of the celestial bodies themselves, whether or not they appear in the sky to an observer due to weather and visibility. Actively looking for these signs often requires one to rely on faith, having no certainty to when and where they will occur. For this very reason, observation is a turnoff to many who prefer the predictability of mathematics. Because observation can be unpredictable, they view it as primitive and too difficult to plan around. And instead of using mathematics as a tool to help find the observed signs, nearly all abandon the signs, relying instead on man-made scenarios and algorithms, believing this makes them more sophisticated, unified and predictable - even years or centuries in advance. Proverbs 27:1 reminds us[1]:

By using a method of observation, you simply cannot predict with any certainty when these signs will occur into the future. Although mathematics has matured to a point that will allow man to calculate when the sun should go down at any geographical location worldwide or when the new moon crescent should be bright enough to be seen by the naked eye, man has not reached the level of wisdom to factor every possible variable that plays a role. Determining mathematically when barley crops will be ready to harvest years in advance (even weeks in advance) cannot be determined with 100% certainty. Only Yehovah has the capability to understand and control when all of these things will merge, and in His time.

Furthermore, when man begin to use averages, constructing a timetable or calendar for everyone to reference, like the calendar that hangs on our walls at home, you begin to lose any accuracy the math may originally obtained. Unless the variables involved are completely static, unchangeable or certainly predictable, there will always be a need for fixes, adjustments, and intercalary tweaks. Since Yehovah has created the celestial bodies in a continual state of flux, and since He can allow any variable to change at any time, our mathematical timetable would no longer be as good as it once was. We are given direct instructions within scripture to count the number of days from these particular events and signs, we are never told to predict them, neither are we ever instructed to calculate or average the time between these events. Our bias toward mathematics almost certainly leads us down this path, forcing the variables into fixed, universal patterns to help us predict and measure future events. All so we can rely solely on the math-based prediction rather than observing the event we were attempting to predict in the first place. This is wrong. In fact, scripture encourages us not to predict the future for our own planning. James 4:13-15[1] tells us:

    "Come now, you who say, 'Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, spend a year there, buy and sell, and make a profit'; whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away. Instead you ought to say, 'If the Lord wills, we shall live and do this or that.'"

Given what we have learned, perhaps Yehovah did not give mathematical formulas within scripture for a good reason. Mankind tends to break Biblical principles when it comes to creating mathematical calendars. Some go even further by trying to apply spiritual understanding within these patterns, believing they have found that magical key to understanding Yehovah or the universe. By letting go of this bias and relying on pure observation, however, requires us to have trust and conviction in His overall intelligent design given by Him. It is His signs that appear at His time we must accept as being His time and season. We must yield the Festivals to be shown by Him rather than by man - no matter how wise men may become or how advanced the wisdom of mathematics become. I Corinthians 2:5[1] states:

    "that your faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God." {Underlined emphasis added}

Mathematics is a wonderful tool, a blessing in itself. But most men believe it puts them in control, including His times and seasons. This cannot be further from the truth. There is a powerful lesson we can learn through the practice of observation. Acts 1:6-8[1] tells us:

    "When they therefore were come together, they asked of him, saying, Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel? And he said unto them, 'It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power.'" {Underlined emphasis added}

Once again, the people were wanting to know when the future coming kingdom was to take place. But we are told that it is Yehovah who has ultimate control of time itself! With faith and guidance in the Holy Spirit, we too can understand using the signs that are given to us - and we can prove it with scripture. The lack of any further Biblical instruction to calculate a calendar shows that we have been given all that we need. Simply by observing these signs and recognizing them when they appear and making them known is simplistic in nature. The process itself can be taught to school children. Only by participating in observation (combined with the power of the Holy Spirit) will we truly come to realize how this practice can apply to understanding prophecy and signs of the end-times.

A good analogy would be of one driving down the road. Imagine you are driving in a white-out blizzard, difficult to see around you until you are right up close. This type of situation causes one to be more heightened and alert to their surroundings, unaware of what lies ahead. Stress increases as we begin to desperately seek for any kind of sign or road marker, keeping any eye out for other cars or obstacles in the road. If you come across a stop sign or witness brake lights ahead of you, most would stop. We begin to rely on the communication of others to keep us safe and on course. Would we ever decide to simply abandon the practice of observing these signs around us in this situation? Would we rely, instead, on mathematics, calculating the distance of all the stop signs? Could math predict when a car is stopped in your path? Even more, would we calculate the mean average of distances between stop signs and only stop based on that mean result? Of course not! So why do we do this with time? Why would we use solar midnight, or the dark moon, or the spring equinox, or any other unseen event when our God tells us to look for the signs themselves? Does the unpredictability of signs make driving too complicated to navigate or too unpredictable to rely upon?

Several Church of God organizations have taught that observation of the calendar brings too much confusion causing different outcomes and, therefore, conclude that math must be the only solution. Yet, they contradict themselves by teaching that the Biblical Day begins by observing sundown, stopping short of providing any calculation here. If math is the obvious solution and the only way to avoid individual interpretations, shouldn't they also provide these calculations to be in unity? Shouldn't they teach them and explain them? Shouldn't they be able to show them from scripture? The supposed unity, after all, may be lost if a person chooses sunset versus sundown, for example. There's also nautical and astronomical sundown and even solar midnight, as we've already discussed. Perhaps they would be fine fixing days from 6pm-to-6pm, as another example.

Others teach that those who keep an observed calendar are only doing what is right in their own eyes. This phrase is often used in the Bible, including several times in Judges. Judges 17:6 states[1]:

    "In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes."{Underlined emphasis added}

This phrase is repeated again in Judges 21:25. The NIV puts this as, “Everyone did as he saw fit.” Since it is a requirement to use one's eyes to observe any visual sign, it's understandable why many make this claim.

If math is the ultimate solution, perhaps keeping midnight would be the best alternative. After all, this modern, mathematical solution provides convenience and unity to all that follow it. Yet math can actually skew our sense of time. Let's take the Biblical Day, for instance. Even though most, including Biblical scholars, agree that scripture supports the Biblical Day being after sundown, man has decided to abandon God's timepiece in the firmament by replacing these visual signs with the mathematical, unseen abstract concept of solar midnight. Mankind then creates clocks measuring days in 24-hour periods. Originally, clocks were calibrated empirically by marking the time of High Noon, in the middle of the day (the opposite time of Solar Midnight). This was then taken a step further by introducing time-zones, providing more convenience and unity across defined regions, eliminating the inconsistencies observation caused, essentially disconnecting the term midnight from the actual solar event that took place at our specific location. Finally, our modernization has now added additional rules adjusting midnight by yet another full hour with Daylight Savings Time. The result is man's start to the Day, even though it provides unity and mathematical consistency, it looks nothing like God's original intention of when to begin the Day.

Furthermore, by creating and manipulating rules for the sake of mathematical averages we are directly disobeying what we have been instructed in Deuteronomy 4:2[1]:

    "Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish ought from it, that ye may keep the commandments of the LORD your God which I command you."

Yehovah does not change from one methodology to another nor would He ordain a particular man-made formula that requires periodic adjustments. How do we know this? Because we are told in Malachi 3:6[1]:

    "For I am the LORD, I change not."

This is a principle on which we can rely upon! There is no indication given from the Bible that we should have changed to a method of calculation at any time. Telling time and seasons has always been through the use of Yehovah's ordained signs in Genesis with the added instructions to count months from the renewed moon of aviv and blowing trumpets during these times. Observing the renewed moons will continue into the coming Kingdom as we read in Isaiah 66:23.

Our bias toward mathematics and fixed timetables gives us a false sense of security that we are somehow immune to uncertainty. It's this false security that many church organizations often fall back on, assuming that calculations must be the solution. This usually leads to the conclusion of following the calculated Hebrew Calendar and all in the name of unity. However, all this truly only provides uniformity. And most times it is uniformity in error.

The reality is that we have been conditioned and indoctrinated into believing that time itself is a mathematical formula. When reading scripture, we often do so through the use of math glasses, believing that those formulas are behind the dates rather than Yehovah's signs, and we have become desensitized to His methods of time.

We also know that Satan has made many attempts to fool Yehovah's people throughout history. Math is just one tool that he can use to do just that. In fact, it is prophesied that Satan himself will attempt to change time itself in Daniel 7:25:

    "He shall speak pompous words against the Most High, Shall persecute the saints of the Most High, And shall intend to change times and law."

Satan has been very successful in deceiving even the very elect by making Yehovah's times and seasons confusing many - enough for it to be considered a "can of worms" to open. While many do realize that time was not measured in Biblical times using today's Gregorian Calendar, many still attempt to create similar calendar methodologies, nearly all mathematical in nature or containing components that are strictly obtained mathematically and usually in an attempt to be precise and predictable. The result is either a complete avoidance of the subject or any number of different interpretations or just giving up all-together and settling for the Hebrew Calendar.

Now that we have a better understanding of the Biblical concepts and historic evidence of an observed calendar, even within Jewish history, let's now take an even deeper look into the current Hebrew calendar, how it came about, and what types of mathematical bias may also be at play.

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