Month 6:26, Week 4:4 (Revee/Shavu'ot), Year 5935:168 AM|
Gregorian Calendar: Saturday 24 September 2011
Observance in the Southern Hemisphere
With the autumnal festivals starting in only four days' time with the approach of Yom Teruah I thought I would answer an interesting question sent to me the other day from South Africa, which is in the southern hemisphere. South of the equator the seasons are reversed - as summer is starting here in the northern, winter is starting in the southern. So if you are living south of the equator in South America, Africa, Indonesia, Papua-New Guinea and Australasia, what should you do? These were the three questions/solutions posed to me:
In recent years I have been involved in a lot of discussions about these very issues. Many of them have since been resolved (by this ministry) by following the biblical Creation Calendar, particulatrly in respect of the third question. So to answer that first, it is important to know where the true set-apart or Qodesh International Date Line (QIDL) is. As discussed elsewhere, these are our current beliefs (admittedly based on a number of assumptions, but we believe them to be best assumptions), pending more information being given:
- 1. Adjust the calendar so that the festivals occur in the proper season everywhere, and break global synchronisation? or
- 2. Pick a spot somewhere and caleculate the calendar according to that, following it regardless of how out of sync it is at the place you are living, and retain global synchronisation? and
- 3. As far as the second question is concerned, there is also the problem of the International Date Line (IDL), along with numerous date-line issues (such as not bisecting a city, and which protocols sailors would follow in time-keeping).
Since the Jordan River bisects no cities in the Holy Land, at any rate, this eliminates one problem. How the IDL is to be drawn north and south of the northern and southern most points of the Holy Land is another matter. We will address this issue if and when we need to.
- 1. The true QIDL passed through, or on the eastern border of, the Garden of Eden;
- 2. The Garden of Eden was located roughly where the current City of Jerusalem is found (I used to think it was Lake Van in Turkey);
- 3. The true QILD runs along the eastern border of the Promised Land;
- 4. The eastern border of the Promised Land is (currently?) the River Yarden (Jordan) - it might be farther east in the Millennium.
The festivals, as revealed in Torah, were designed to synchonise with the Israelite agricultural cycle and provided useful teaching illustrations for spiritual principles. Here in Scandinavia, where the agriculture cycle is very short compared with the Middle East, there is already much lack of synchronisation. Should we, then, compress the moedim (appointments), squashing them into a shorter period of time, to reflect Scandinavian conditions? This is a similar question being asked about the seasonal differences in Argentina, South Africa and Australia, though admittedly the differences there are more radical - the reverse, in fact, rather than just (in extreme northern latitudes) seasonal contraction (though with the double problem in extreme southern latitudes too, though there aren't that many people in Sub-Antarctica).
I believe reasonable arguments could be advanced for the second question, namely, callibrating the festivals based on geographical location. I have to say, though, that on balance, I think it is better to callibrate the festivals based on the original setting for the moedim, namely, the Promised Land, not because the land is cuurently operating under a theocratic régime (clearly it is not) but for the sake of unity in the Body of Messiah. Though there may be differences of up to 24 hours, depending where you are on the globe, this is better than having differences of several months. To my knowledge there are no festival-observant groups anywhere that advocate a system along the lines of the second question, and since there is no scriptural precendent either, there would have to be divine revelation to set such a system up and to my knowledge no one has ever claimed such revelation to date. This ministry definitely has not, even though we have adherents in the southern hemisphere. It is best, therefore, I believe, to leave such a matter up to Messiah upon His return. Having said that, I would not condemn anyone who thought a parallel southern-hemisphere system was valid. The only problem this might cause would be to travellers. So using the principle of Occam's Razor, I would opt for the simplest solution in this case and the only scripturally-mandated one thus far.
By following the simpler everyone-follows-the-same-times schedule you then avoid a while string of problems, including those associated with the IDL and what sailors should do. Since the autumnal festivals are tied with the Second Coming I think there is added importance in following the Promised Land Schedule, otherwise you're going to have to keep a watch for both sets of equatorial calendars - and I think the spiritual meaning is much more important than any agricultural cycle.
If the earth is retured to pre-flood conditions at the Millennium (another speculation, admittedly) then there will be a uniform climate and agricultural cycles will not be dependent on seasons anymore. But I still believe the festivals will follow the original tavnith (pattern) found in Torah. Aviv is Aviv and not the 6th months south of Nairobi.
Finally, many are concerned about fellowship in a world where there are currently very few messianic evangelicals as most believers assemble on Sundays (evangelicals) and Saturdays (messianics), where there are no messianic-evangelical groups. Fellowshipping with other believers is essential even if they are observing wrong days, and since you can gather to worship Yahweh on any day, what's important is that you are clear in your own mind why you are gathering. If it's not to observe Saturday or Sunday as 'holy days' I see no problems. I frequently attend evangelical churches on Sundays when I am abroad and unless that particular Sunday happens to be a Creation Sabbath, I just treat it like any other day. It is admittedly a little more difficult in Saturday-observing messianic assemblies where they will say 'Shabbat Shalom' when it isn't necessary the true Creation Sabbath, but there you must use wisdom and tact as you do in dealing with well-wishing people saying 'Merry Christmas' during the Brumalia season . The important thing is maintaining fellowship. And even if there are other messianic-evangelicals you can assemble with at the correct times, there is nothing stopping you from continuing to fellowship with others unless they start pressuring you to imitate their false ways. For if they won't at least respect differences, how can there be any sort of true oneness based on the things that you do have in common?
I do believe Yah'shua (Jesus) guides in all things and it is a matter of taking such matters up with Him and then acting on what He tells you. One thing that I do believe is that nearly all of the messianic-evangelicals of the last generation will be converting from the world and not from the existing churches and assemblies which, like the first generation of Israel that left Egypt, metaphorically 'die off' in the wilderness of false teachings. Of course there will be, and already are, earnest seekers in the evangelical churches and messianic assemblies who will be open to Yahweh's call too.
I hope this is of help to our brethren and sisters in the southern hemisphere!
 Interestingly, I don't think any orthodox christian has ever though to observe pagan Christmas at the end of June in the southern hemisphere.
 International Date Line Change: The Sabbath Unchanged? (movie)