Holiday or Holy Day?

Think for a moment if we observed New Year’s Day in the spring. As noted in the last post, the LORD established Nisan (March/April on the Gregorian calendar) as the first month of the year (Exodus 12:2).

In the verses following, the LORD commands Israel to observe Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread as an everlasting memorial of their deliverance out of Egypt. The Feast of Firstfruits, following the Passover sabbath, was observed by Christians in memory of Christ’s resurrection.

For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive. But each in his own turn: Christ the firstfruits; then at His coming, those who belong to Him (1 Corinthians 15:22-23).

Imagine, then, that the first month of the year was a celebration of Passover (if you were Jewish), or the Feast of Firstfruits (if you were a disciple of Yeshua). Wouldn’t that be a more solemn, reverent, holy observance of the New Year?

Someone may ask, “How did January become the first month of the year?” Pope Gregory XIII codified the custom set forth by the Julian calendar which honored the Roman god, Janus, who was considered to be the first among gods; and the beginning of days, months, years and time. The festival of Janus, for whom the month was named, was celebrated on January 9.

In contrast, ancient Israel numbered its days and months. Only four months are named in the Tanakh and these are of Canaanite origin. Naming the days and months of the year was a pagan tradition associated with idol worship — a custom Israel later adopted in exile.

The Gregorian calendar that we use today is a testament of false gods and pagan deities. Instead of observing the New Year in a manner prescribed by YHWH, the world celebrates in the month dedicated to a Roman god.

Why does Israel celebrate New Year’s (Rosh Hashanah) in the fall?

In the seventh month of the year, Tishri on the Hebrew calendar, Israel was commanded to observe the Feast of Booths (Leviticus 23:34). Known also as the Feast of Tabernacles, Feast of the Ingathering (or Sukkot) it was a seven-day celebration of the autumn harvest at the end of the year (Exodus 23:16).

The end of the year (haš·šā·nāh, הַשָּׁנָ֔ה), so thought the Rabbin, implied the beginning of a new year so Tishri was mistakenly recognized as the first month. The Rosh Hashanah celebration that is observed in September/October evolved out of this misinterpretation. Even if we followed the earliest Hebrew calendar — which only had ten months — Tishri could not be the first month of the year. And, as I have noted, Rosh Hashanah is mentioned nowhere in the Torah. It is a human tradition, with pagan origins, that dates back to the second century AD.

The Feast of Firstfruits was supplanted by Easter just as the Feast of Trumpets was supplanted by Rosh Hashanah. The LORD commanded that Israel observe the Feast of Trumpets on the first day of the seventh month (Leviticus 23:23-24). The blowing of the shofar announced a ten-day period of repentance culminating in the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur) — the holiest day in Judaism.

Jewish disciples of Christ expected that the end was near. There was no prophecy on Jehovah’s calendar unfulfilled except the return of Messiah. Yeshua HaMashiac fulfilled the feasts of Israel. *

Passover Lamb
Unleavened (sinless) Sacrifice
Resurrected at Firstfruits
Outpouring of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost
Righteous Atonement

* Dispensational premillennialism teaches that the fall holy days will be fulfilled at the Second Coming of Christ.

Holidays are of pagan origin while holy days were appointed by G-d. The Gregorian calendar is a deception — a device of human tradition. Only the Hebrew calendar provides insight as to the revelation of Jehovah’s plan of redemption.

Copyright © 2018 Eternal Christ

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Pop the Cork, or Say a Prayer?

Those who have read my Christmas posts over the years probably have concluded, “This guy is a party pooper, wet blanket, spoil sport, and all-around buzz-kill.” Now that we have established that, let’s talk about New Year’s celebrations. But first a brief history.

To begin with, the LORD established the first month of the year as Nissan (נִיסָן‎) on the Hebrew calendar:

The LORD said to Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt, “This month shall be for you the beginning of months. It shall be the first month of the year for you.” (Exodus 12:1-2)

Nisan 1, therefore, is the Jewish New Year’s. Why, then, is Rosh Hashanah observed as the Jewish New Year? Nisan (formerly called Abib) falls within the months of March/April while Rosh Hashanah is observed in the seventh month of Tishri (תִּשְׁרִי‬), or September/October on the Christian calendar. The earliest recognition of Tishri (as the Jewish New Year) dates back to Israel’s sojourn in Egypt. This was based on the interpretation of Exodus 23:16 where the autumn harvest is gathered at the end of the year thus implying the beginning of a new year.

Rosh Hashanah appears nowhere in the Torah. The nomenclature, according to the Mishna, was most likely introduced in the second century AD. Rosh, meaning head of … and hash-shanah, meaning the year supplanted the biblical name Zikhron Teru’ah (Yom Teru’ah, יוֹם תְּרוּעָה) which means a memorial blowing of trumpets. The Mishna notes that the common observance of Rosh Hashanah was influenced by pagan customs adopted while in Babylonian captivity.

Messianic Jews believe that Yeshua was born in the month of Tishri. Rosh Hashanah obscures the fact that the blowing of the trumpets signified the reception of a king. That Jesus is the second Adam conforms to Hebraic teaching that the first Adam was created in the same month.

The blowing of the trumpets begins a ten-day period of repentance culminating in the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur). The trumpets announce the birth of a king and ten days later (marking the completion of his work) Yeshua is offered upon a cross as the righteous atonement for sin.

Israel is blind to these truths, and the Catholic Church — in its zeal to separate Christianity from its Jewish roots — tossed a veil over the revelation. It is all a deception. One flock of sheep follows the shepherd of this world while another follows the Word. I couldn’t help but ponder this as I watched the Christmas Eve Mass at St. Peter’s.

My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me (John 10:27).

So the Jewish civil year begins in the autumn (Tishri) while the ecclesiastical year begins in the spring (Nisan). Why is January 1 (with some exceptions) observed as New Year’s Day? Pope Gregory XIII introduced the Gregorian calendar in 1582. It was a refinement of the Julian calendar which was a refinement of the Roman calendar, and was intended to establish a fixed date for the Catholic observance of Easter. Otherwise, Christians would be celebrating — rightly so — the resurrection of Jesus Christ at the Feast of First Fruits which is observed after the Passover sabbath.

The Church believed that Easter should be observed independent of the Jewish calendar, and certainly not at the same time as Passover. Because Christ was resurrected on a Sunday, an adjustment was needed to ensure that Easter always falls on that day. Passover was deemed fulfilled and no longer relevant. Syriac Christians continued to celebrate Easter in relation to Pesach for they believed that Christ — the paschal lamb — was, indeed, relevant to the Passover observance.

The Gregorian calendar was not recognized outside the Catholic Church. Nations independent of Rome observed New Year’s Day in the spring or autumn. As the papacy extended its reach, January 1 was more universally accepted as the first day of the year.

Israel was instructed by the LORD to not practice the customs and traditions of its pagan neighbors. It’s a mystery (Babylon?) why the Church divorced Christianity from Judaism — then aligned Easter and Christmas with the pagan celebrations of the spring and winter solstice. Was this the act of a sovereign G-d, or an apostate Church?

Too many Christians, I imagine, have one foot in the world and the other in the Kingdom. On New Year’s Eve I will not be partying, dancing, drinking — nor even stealing a midnight kiss.

You may be thinking, “This guy is a major party poop.” Well, yes, we’ve already decided that. Did you know that partying (called reveling in the Aramaic Bible) is a mortal sin? (Galatians 5:21)

Hold on — I’m not talking about your toddler’s birthday party so let’s not fall off the boat. I think we understand what kind of partying is implied here. The point is that G-d established the first month of the year — Nisan on the Hebrew calendar — and no Papal decree has changed that. What is observed on January 1 is a celebration of pagan customs and traditions — reveling, drunkenness, carousing, sexual immorality, and unrepentant debauchery.

Paul wrote that Christians have liberty to observe, or not to observe special days (Romans 14:5). However, this is in the context of Jewish holy days such as the Sabbath and is not applicable to a pagan celebration.

What am I doing on New Year’s Eve? Trying to be more like Christ. That should be our goal every day.

Copyright © 2017 Eternal Christ

A Tale of Two Christmases

Pastor David Jeremiah confessed at last weekend’s service that he loves the trappings of Christmas. Every year he takes his family to New York City to watch the Rockettes perform their holiday program. He shared the story of his family’s recent visit:

They gave us a pair of special glasses and turned down the lights. As the program began we could see 3D projections of Santa Claus flying over the stage delivering presents. It looked so real that I actually reached out to try to catch one of the wrapped gifts.

At the end of the program they recreated the Christmas story from the Book of Luke. I sat in wonder as the story of Christ’s birth was presented on the big stage. How would it be received by a New York audience in 2017? Well, there was a standing ovation, but as we were leaving I heard a man say,  “I really enjoyed the first part of the program, but why did they have to ruin it with all that religious stuff?” I wanted to reach out and tell the man, “That religious stuff is what Christmas is all about.”

When it premiered on December 9, 1965, A Charlie Brown Christmas was expected to be a ratings disaster. CBS executives didn’t like the theme music (Linus and Lucy by Vince Guaraldi) because it sounded too adult. More importantly, TV execs did not want to broadcast a religious-themed Christmas program. Director Bill Melendez somewhat agreed with the network, but noted that “Sparky (Charles Schulz) would not budge.”

CBS thought of canning the program, but it had spent so much money to develop the project that it decided to air the special and simply write it off as a production loss. The rest, as they say, is history. A Charlie Brown Christmas was seen in 50% of American households. It earned critical acclaim, and was awarded an Emmy and a Peabody. It became a Christmas classic, and has aired for over fifty years.

Pastor Jeremiah warned that even a Christian can get caught up in the trappings of Christmas. Santa Claus is a jovial, non-threatening substitution for Jesus Christ. The North Pole is a substitute for heaven — a lump of coal  a substitute for hell. The concept of good and evil reduced to an innocuous list of those who are naughty, or nice.

 There is a great divide — two Christmases, if you will, one for the pagans and one for the Christians. It is hypocritical, though, for non-Christians to celebrate Christmas, or Christ’s mass. The world loves the holiday music, parties and gifts, but they fail to recognize the true gift of the season.

2 Corinthians 9:15
Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!

Ephesians 2:8
For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God.

Romans 6:23
For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

John 3:16
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

God blinds their eyes and hardens their hearts so that they cannot discern what is true nor perceive what is deception. My sorrow is that many Christians are equally confused.

Copyright © 2017 Eternal Christ