Month 9:9, Week 2:1 (Rishon/Pesach), Year 5935:239 AM|
Gregorian Calendar: Sunday 4 December 2011
Hebrew & Roman Watches
More Creation Calendar Evidence
Continued from Part 6
It has been interesting of late watching how messianic ministries still following the hybrid Roman-Hebrew or Pharisee calendar have been defending their positions against the Creation Calendar or Luni-Solar Calendar. They have been quite active of late. Time and time again I have noticed the same recycled flawed arguments being used so I thought this might be a good opportunity to address two of them today.
If you go back to Israel in the time of Yah'shua (Jesus) you are at once struck by the fact that different sects are using different calendars, just as they are today. Most serious messianic scholars agree that at least two calendars were in operation in Roman Palestine: the Julian one (which was the precursor of the Gregorian version we use today) and the Jewish Hillel II Rabbinic calendar, and most agree that in addition to these there are Conjunction Calendars and some versions of the Lunar Sabbath one. The very 'theologically-correct' statement is then made that we must do only what Yahweh says (which of course we all agree with, so we can't score points of that one) to which is added that had the Rabbinical calendar which most messianics follow been flawed, surely Yah'shua (Jesus) would have said something to counter it? And since, it is argued, we get the impression that Messiah basically 'went along' with what was, then we must assume that the Talmudists of the time had at least got that right.
The latter is not, unfortunately, necessarily or even logically true. Let's take another example as an illustration. As we all know the Hebrews had three four-hour watches: the beginning of the night, the middle of the night, and the morning watch:
There is no revelation in Torah saying there had to be three four-hour watches because it wasn't needed. This is the way the watches had always been organised. People criticise lunar sabbatarians by saying that there are not detailed instructions anywhere in Torah telling us how to do the calendar, and the reason for this absence is because there was no need to - everyone was doing it.
"Arise, cry out in the night, at the beginning of the watches" (Lam.2:19, NKJV).
"So Gideon and the hundred men who were with him came to the outpost of the camp at the beginning of the middle watch, just as they had posted the watch; and they blew the trumpets and broke the pitchers that were in their hands" (Judg.7:19, NKJV).
"Now it came to pass, in the morning watch, that Yahweh looked down upon the army of the Egyptians through the pillar of fire and cloud, and He troubled the army of the Egyptians" (Ex.14:23-24, NKJV; also see 1 Sam.11:11).
Later on, the Romans came along and introduced their system of watches consisting of four three-hour watches in their Palestine Province. In time, the Hebrews adopted this system too:
Just because one system is observed that is pagan (Roman in this case) and is uncriticised in the B'rit Chadashah Scriptures (New Testament) doesn't mean it was Yahweh-sanctioned or right. Matthew records what 'was' since the country was under Roman occupation and administration, just as on these devotionals I quote the latter Roman Gregorian Calendar as well the Hebrew Luni-Solar one, simply because it is universally known. And even if Yah'shua (Jesus) did criticise the Roman or Jewish Calendar, that does not mean that this criticism 'has' to be in the B'rit Chadashah Scriptures (New Testament)! According to the Gospel of John, the Gospels only record a fraction of what the Master taught, said and did (Jn.21:25). It would in any case have been impossible to recall and record everything.
"Now in the fourth [Roman] watch of the night Yah'shua (Jesus) went to them, walking on the sea" (Matt.14:24-25, NKJV).
Matthew was simply acknowledging the official watch system of the occupying power just as it is impossible for us to get by in society without using the Roman calendar.
The B'rit Chadashah Scriptures (New Testament) writers - and the Gospel writers in particular - had only one objective in mind: to convince people that Yah'shua (Jesus) was the Messiah. It's purpose is not to be a New Covenant Torah Manual - even the Tanakh (Old Testament) does not do that, leaving many matters undealt with because they were 'common practice' passed down from the earliest time by the Patriarchs, such as the Calendar system of Yahweh. We can only deduce what it was by what they did and recorded for us. And it is interesting that those Messianics who reject the Creation Calendar purposefully skirt around the plain evidence that it was practiced and zoom in on perceived weaknesses.
So really it comes as no surprise that what is recorded about Yah'shua (Jesus) does not touch on the many calendar systems in use in His day (two are evidenced in the Gospels), since they are not the main witness. The Pharisees, Saducees and Essenes had their own systems, and doubtless there were others in addition to the Roman Julian one, including the Creation Calendar. Many falsehoods that were believed and practiced in Yah'shua's (Jesus's) day, like Hanukkah are therefore only attacked indirectly since the purpose was to get the people focussing on the Person of Messiah, and any criticisms that may have been made would then not necessarily have been recorded.
Are there difficulties with the luni-solar calendar? Of course, simply because we no longer have a 30 day month. But this is a problem shared by all calendars. Those that rely on the viewing of the first crescent moon (a Babylonian custom adopted by the rabbis during the Exile) have problems too because of weather visibility. There are difficlutlies with all calendar systems. And in many ways, I think calendology has the same 'proof' problems as origins does - you cannot 'prove' 100% that Yahweh created the universe rather than evolved it but you can show that the overwhelming evidence supports special creation rather than evolution. It is our contention that the Creation Calendar fits the biblical data better than any other calendar, and overwhelmingly so. We may need to refine a few details as more light and emet (truth) emerges but basically we believe it best fits the ancient Biblical witness before Babylonians and Romans influence changed systems.
I do sympathise with those struggling to find the true calendar - it is not easy. It took me 12 years as a messianic to figure it out and at one point it was driving me around the bend. That is why I try to be patient with those trying to figure it out, remembering where I once was. Today I no longer fret, just as I don't over the creation/evolution controversy, because as a scientist (and not just a theologian) I am content with the 'best fit'. I remain open to new insights but feel no reason to embrace any of the other calendars in the messianic mart.