Mathematical Bias and the Biblical Calendar
(Revised 2015)

By: Shawn Richardson

Section 15:


You have now seen the Biblical perspective of an observational-based calendar and the specific instructions given for telling times and seasons. This Biblical Calendar is based on the perceived visible signs ordained by Yehovah Himself of the sun, moon and of the harvest season. It is a system that does not predict future dates, but rather relies on Yehovah to present such signs to the observer as He deems fit - putting Him in full control of times and seasons that He appoints for Festivals throughout the year. Beyond counting every seven days to keep His Sabbath, we are given instructions to blow trumpets over peace offerings (or meals) and at the beginning of our months - or at each renewed moon. The people of Israel were expressly told to refer to the renewed moon of the Abib harvest to begin their years. The Bible refers to detailed events, including the Festivals, based on the number of days from a specific renewed moon or the number of renewed moons from the start of the harvest year. This same method of counting days and months from particular events (or signs) is also used for referring to definitive years throughout the Bible (such as the establishment of Kings). This is the calendar as represented by the Bible.

The Hebrew Calendar, generally used by groups such as the Churches of God and others in the Western World, ignores nearly every Biblical aspect of signs and instruction outside of days and the Weekly Sabbath starting around sundown. Instead, this system creates a mathematical 19-year timetable of average occurrences of barley harvests, a timetable of days to establish fixed-length months with the exception of one month that refers to the calculated Molad (an average of the moon's unseen conjunction) once a year to establish the Feast of Trumpets. Its man-made rules institute a noon-hour cutoff time in Jerusalem to determine the start of the lunar cycle and postpones the Feast of Trumpets by another entire day depending on the Day of the Week. By relying on mathematics, the blowing of trumpets is no longer required (or recognized) by many church organizations, a burnt offering (or meal) is ignored and grouped into a temple requirement that is no longer required even though it is prophesied that we will gather together at the New Moon in Yehovah's coming Kingdom. The Yehovah-given name of Abib is completely ignored in favor of Babylonian names based on Pagan gods. Any discrepancies from actual events are ignored based on a supposed authority given to the Rabbinical leadership once fought on principle by Yeshua Himself. Finally, an overall ignorance of the Hebrew Calendar's history seems to be instilled in the Western World with a belief that the Jews perceive their own calendar as being preserved throughout the ages and from the time of Moses when, in fact, the calendar has been a topic of hot controversy for centuries following the crucifixion of Yeshua. Today's Orthodox Jews consider the Hebrew Calendar a temporary solution until the Messiah arrives or the temple is re-established within Jerusalem where a method of observation would most likely return. Even today, many Jews that follow the Torah of Moses keep an observed calendar, rejecting the Hebrew calendar, and have done so going back for centuries.

These issues regarding the Hebrew Calendar continue to be ignored by many today. A clear level of conflict exists between the written scriptures and the man-made construct based on rules and mathematics. But modern society's use of mathematical calendars has created a bias toward the Hebrew Calendar and has created a false sense of insecurity of relying on Yehovah to show us His signs based on observation.

This is certainly an issue that needs to be addressed by many church organizations! But many are afraid to ask their church leadership for answers. In fact, it is these organizations that have gone as far as to criticize individuals who attempt to even question today's Hebrew calendar. Mr. John Ogwyn of the Living Church of God agrees. He states[18]:

Time and time again, especially in more recent history, individuals have been spiritually abducted or taken away in their dreams by God and given a revelation of a new calculated formula that holds the secret key to understanding times and seasons. Generally what follows is a future prediction of when Jesus Christ will return to the Earth in either a secret rapture or at the battle of Armageddon. But Yeshua explained that no man will know the day and hour, not even Yeshua Himself. Instead, we are told to be watchful of signs like that of a fig tree, not to predict dates using math. Only by watching for signs are we actively anticipating and yearning for Messiah's return and can have a full understanding when that season finally arrives without being caught unaware. The Biblical Calendar of observation reinforces the faith we should place in Yehovah - the Heavenly Father who is in control of the ultimate destiny for all mankind. By ignoring the Biblical instruction and principles He gave us for a calendar, we are only left with man's devices filled with various computations and theories utilizing the primary bias of mathematics (often so complicated that only computers can keep it all straight). Suddenly the topic becomes overwhelming - it's no wonder so many turn back to the long-established fixed Hebrew Calendar that gives reassurance and convenience of knowing that the majority of followers have the same mathematical result and that Festivals can be predicted years, even centuries, in advance. For these people, the Biblical instruction is no longer significant because it just does not provide enough detail to achieve this same result.

But there are those who are turning to the one authority they know to be true - the Bible itself! They can see that the current Hebrew calendar simply cannot be supported by scripture. In fact, nearly all of those whom Mr. Ogwyn above calls "self-appointed" experts are turning elsewhere for answers because their own churches won't provide any support for the Hebrew Calendar from scripture themselves. It is only when we turn solely to the Bible for answers on the calendar topic (or any other topic) that we are then submitting to the authority of Yehovah - not "self-appointing" ourselves as experts or "doing what is right in our own eyes". Although it is true there are individuals that attempt to add more man-made rules and mathematics in their own attempts to create an alternative to the Hebrew Calendar, their failure comes in relying on mathematics that simply are not in scripture. The United Church of God also recognizes the various groups struggling with this topic[19]:

They continue in their Doctrinal Summary Paper[41], though, fully accepting the Hebrew Calendar as the best option:

We see here an acknowledgment that they simply do not know the answers! Most continue to search for the origins of the mathematical concepts within scripture. Too many organization's simply do not teach on this subject because they don't rely on the Biblical answers to backup their conclusions and cannot let go of their mathematical bias! The United Church of God's Doctrinal Summary Paper does indicate numerous issues regarding the various viewpoints on the calendar - both Biblical and Rabbinical. But, even their doctrinal paper does not cover all of the reasons to support their decision to use the Hebrew Calendar. They state[19]:

However, the United Church of God's Doctrinal Summary Paper[41] is dated February 1997. It will soon be two decades since the Council of Elders made their decision to follow the Hebrew Calendar. Yet, there are still no widely distributed materials supporting their decision, no booklets, no telecasts, no regular sermons and nothing that addresses any of the various issues identified in their own paper. When confronted with the topic again in January 2010, their response (from Cecil E. Maranville in an email dated January 12, 2010) is:

Why can't they defend their decision for choosing the Hebrew Calendar that is Biblical and not just practicing what is right in their own eyes? They can't because, even as the Council of Elders proclaim, there is no Biblical support. There are a growing number of people that have turned away from the Hebrew calendar because it simply is not supported by scripture! They have followed the instruction to PROVE ALL THINGS because no one else will. They are sheep looking for answers that their Earthly shepherds will not direct them toward by using scripture.

UPDATE: The United Church of God has since release a revised doctrinal paper on the subject of the calendar. However, the content gives no additional information for their decision to follow the Jewish calendar. In fact, their sole foundation from scripture is based on the New Testament reference of Romans 3:1-2 where they claim the calendar was preserved by the Jews within the Oracles and, whether wrong or not, should be followed for that reason. The arguments against observation continue to be based on a Mathematical bias stating:

Again, calculation MUST be used! And based on the Romans verse, their belief is that the Jews are the ones to calculate it. Yet, somehow, they understand that the Weekly Sabbath is not based on calculation:

This is the crux of the issue that I hope has been made clear within this paper. The Holy Days are based on the renewed moons (chodesh) and cycle based on the Abib barley within the holy land. They are NOT based on calculation any more than the Weekly Sabbath is. One positive note that is made within the Doctrinal Paper, though, is this statement:

This begs the question, if the essential elements of a Biblical Calendar exist, shouldn't they be used? Shouldn't they support whatever calendar is chosen to follow? Finally, do the scriptural elements support the calculations of the Hebrew Calendar? The answer still remains: no!

This topic should be just as important as teaching the Holy Days themselves! Without a calendar, you cannot know when to keep the Festivals! But that calendar is not mathematical. Just as many of us had to retrain our thinking in determining the weekly Sabbath based on sundown, we need to continue to retrain our minds on the remaining aspects of the calendar. We also need to hold to the belief, as followers of Yeshua, that the Holy Days are an outline of Yehovah's overall Plan of Salvation for mankind! We must remember that the Holy Days are special Sabbaths, High Sabbaths, that Yehovah gave His people to rejoice and to learn His law. The Holy Days are sacred, and therefore, so is His calendar! By changing Yehovah's sacred calendar to simplified mathematical timetables that institute "simple" leap-days and rules as we do our day-to-day calculated calendars, we begin to treat Yehovah's appointed times as Holidays rather than Holy Days!

Meanwhile, church organizations hold on to the convenience a calculated calendar provides them in determining future dates. Simple observation is simply dismissed because you cannot, with any level of certainty, predict the exact day Feast of Tabernacles (for example) will be held the following year. Instead, they continue to print their pocket calendars and plan extravagant Feast sites years in advance. The comfort that comes from consistent mathematics, which is based on man-made rules (conjunctions, time zones, datelines, leap adjustments, postponements, etc.), has fooled them into believing it must be correct. Math changes our conceptions and forces us to find that one specific moment (by one-trillionth of a second) when the Sabbath begins, for example, so that we can be as mathematically accurate as possible until we eventually lose sight on what is really important (the Sabbath day itself). Our salvation will not depend on whether we start the Sabbath a few seconds too late or miss the new moon due to clouds in the sky. But if our hearts are centered on the mathematics rather than the inspired instruction within the Torah, then we have lost the true focus. Scripture cannot be ignored, nor can we go against the principles contained therein! Certainly math can be used as a tool in preparing our day-to-day lives of this world and even help prepare for the Feast of Tabernacles by narrowing down its arrival within a few days (especially once the year begins with green-eared barley in the fields). However, if we are not ultimately relying on Yehovah Himself to show us His ordained signs by which He appoints the Festivals, then we (not time) are the ones that are lost!

I urge you, the reader, to seriously study this topic, let go of your mathematical bias and opinions of earthly shepherds. Look to the Heavenly shepherd to guide you through the scriptures of the Bible. Do not be discouraged by accepting the criticism that you are doing what is right in your own eyes. We are told in I Thessalonians 5:21[1]:

We are given an example of how to test all things in Acts 17:11[1]:

Finally, we need to prove to ourselves truth through scripture worthy to present to Yehovah. II Timothy 2:15[1] explains:

Therefore, we should be doing what is right in the eyes of Yehovah! Look to His Word; the answer is there, we just need to see it! Don't take my word for it, prove this to yourself and let the Spirit of Yehovah direct you. Stay on the path to always better yourself in serving Him. May Yehovah bless and keep you on your journey.

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