Mathematical Bias and the Biblical Calendar
(Revised 2015)

By: Shawn Richardson

Section 7:


We have now established, using Biblical scripture and eliminating any mathematical bias, that days, months and years are determined through Yehovah's ordained signs that are defined from an observer's perspective. We are given no variation or alternative method. Sighting of these objects depend on variables controlled by Yehovah Himself that not only include the movements of the celestial bodies themselves, but whether they appear in the sky to an observer (such as weather). He gives us the sun to indicate days (starting after it goes down), the moon to indicate months (starting after sundown on the first day where the blowing of trumpets confirm to others the visual new moon crescent) and seasons (the appointed festivals of Yehovah). He refers to the harvest to indicate years (starting after sundown on the first day of the visible crescent when Abib barley is found growing in the fields). In addition, He gives us direct instruction for keeping a perpetual Sabbath every seven days, which creates the week. It is this system that we can determine the Annual Festivals based on the number of days from particular pre-defined events, starting with the new moon crescent of Abib barley.

One piece that has not yet played an major role is that of the stars. We saw in Genesis 1 that they can be used within Yehovah's calendar to divide the day from the night. There are Biblical references to "twilight", which infer the appearance of stars (stars are also referred to in Job 3:9 at the time of twilight). However, we are not given any other instruction to use stars in relation to a calendar. Star constellations have also served a prophetic role in determining the arrival of specific events. An example of this practice is seen by the group of Magi (also known as the Three Wise Men in modern Christianity) when they stated in Matthew 2:1-2[1]:

A supposed celestial description is later described in Revelation 12:1-5[1]:

Here, describing the birth of Yeshua, we see a child being born (the moon) to a virgin (the constellation Virgo, meaning virgin) while being clothed with the sun (at sunset). Just over the head of Virgo is another constellation known as "Coma Bernice's hair," which would serve as the crown of twelve stars (verse 1). Just above the "legs" of Virgo, the constellation "Draco the Dragon" is found ready to consume the virgin's child. Now whether this happened at the time of Yeshua or happens again at another future event, it does indicate that the stars can be used as prophetic signs. Again, this does not mean that Astrology and its inherit meanings are valid or should be followed as predicting future events. Merely, it is that stars themselves can be used as a reference for telling specific times when they occur. Perhaps, in a pinch, they could serve as an alternative timepiece when the other preferred methods are unavailable. But again, unless specifically instructed within scripture, there is no evidence that stars should solely relied upon within the context of a day-to-day calendar other than dividing the night from day.

As we have touched upon earlier, there is one noticeable complexity with the Bible's naturally-based calendar method of observation when compared to other calculated or modern calendars: you simply cannot predict, with any certainty, when these signs will occur into the future. Although mathematics has recently 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 visible to the naked eye, determining mathematically when barley crops will be ready to harvest years in advance (even months in advance) cannot be determined with 100% certainty. This is mostly due to weather conditions and other environmental variables that are still beyond our complete understanding. Furthermore, when you apply mathematical findings into a timetable of average time-spans for everyone to reference (like the calendar that hangs on our walls at home) you begin to lose any accuracy the math originally obtained. Certainly corrections and adjustments can be made to any mathematical formula in hopes of better anticipating future events, but unless the variables involved are completely static and unchangeable, fixes will never cease. 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 result would no longer be as good as it once was. However, we are never told anywhere in scripture that we need to predict Yehovah's appointed signs beyond counting the number of days from particular events (new moons and weekly Sabbaths); neither are we instructed to calculate or average the time between these events. Again, that's not to say that math in itself is somehow evil, it's just not the method we are given to use. But our bias toward mathematics forces us to make changes in order to force the variables into fixed universal patterns that help us predict and measure future events. Eventually, we become to rely 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:

And Leviticus 19:26 warns:

Here, observing times is the Hebrew word anan, or soothseyer, which predicts the future. Proverbs 27:1 also reminds us:

Given what we have learned, perhaps Yehovah did not give mathematical formulas within scripture for a good reason. Mankind tends to break these principles when it comes to creating calendars and some go even further by trying to apply spiritual understanding using patterns of numbers thinking they have found the magical key to understanding Yehovah or the universe. By letting go of this bias and relying on pure observation, however, it requires us to have faith in His overall intelligent design to show us His signs and accept that the times and seasons, or the Calendar and Festivals respectively, are controlled by Him rather than by man - no matter how wise men may be (including the wisdom of mathematics). We see, though, that we should always choose Yehovah's wisdom in I Corinthians 2:5[1]:

Mathematics is a tool that is perceived to put the times and seasons in control of men. But Yehovah is the one in control of the times and seasons. Acts 1:6-8[1] tells us:

Once again, the people were asking for a sign of the future coming kingdom. But it is Yehovah that has ultimate control of time itself! With faith and guidance in the Spirit, we too can understand using the signs that are given to us - and we can prove it with scripture. Given the lack of any further Biblical instruction to calculate a calendar, we must then infer that we have been given all that we need. The act of observing these signs is simplistic in nature and 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. 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]:

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]:

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, to the time of Moses, and will continue into the coming Kingdom. Just as we understand that Yehovah never intended on His people to cease celebrating His annual Festivals, neither did he ever intend on changing what was created on Day Four of the Creation Week! If we look to the Heavenly Father in our day-to-day lives, we would understand that we have no need to mathematically predict when Yehovah's Festivals will be held years in advance and, instead, wait on Him to show us His appointed times.

Our bias toward mathematics and fixed timetables gives us a false sense of security that we are somehow immune to uncertainty. Even church organizations will often fall back on the calculations of the Hebrew Calendar for the sake of unity. But this decision can only be achieved by accepting the twisted perceptions and added rules that are not provided in the words or context of the written scriptures. Only when you take a step back and remove the rose-colored math glasses we look through when reading scripture, you may just realize that we rely too heavily on men and have desensitized ourselves from the methods of Yehovah.

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:

Satan has been very successful in deceiving even the very elect by making Yehovah's times and seasons confusing to many - enough to consider it a "can of worms". There have been many different calendars created (nearly all mathematical in nature). Because of this, many avoid studying this very important topic.

Now that we have a better understanding of the Biblical concepts and historic evidence of an observed calendar, let's take an even deeper look into Jewish history and exactly how the current Hebrew calendar came about and how the mathematical bias began.

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