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 Jewish Nun

Rosalind Moss is a woman I truly admire.  (You can read her testimony here.) Born to Jewish (Hungarian/Russian) parents, Rosalind grew up in Brooklyn, New York. Her family kept all of the traditions, attended synagogue and celebrated Passover. Every year they sang the traditional songs including Eliyahu Ha Navi (Elijah the Prophet) which is an invitation to the prophet to bring the Mashiac to the Seder feast. At Pesach a place is set for Elijah. If he does not show up then the family prays that he will come next year.

Rosalind, and her brother David, spent many years seeking after the LORD. They questioned, pondered and researched all that they were taught, or had read about their Jewish faith. One day, David found an article about a ministry called Jews for Jesus. He shared the article with his sister, but she was suspicious.

Rosalind told her brother, Jews do not believe in Jesus. That’s what it means to be a Jew. Jesus wasn’t Jewish. He was for the Gentiles. Anyway, if there are Jewish believers they must all be in California.

David, however, was intrigued and continued to do research. That there were Jewish believers in Jesus was simply unbelievable. Rosalind then came out to California on business. Walking through the campus of UCLA she spotted a young man wearing a T-shirt that was imprinted Jews for Jesus. Rosalind stopped and blinked her eyes.

“What,” she exclaimed, “there are Jewish believers in Jesus!?”

The young man gave her a tract which she graciously took for further study. Rosalind continued her studies with a group of Messianic Jews.

They taught me about our Jewish faith. I didn’t know anything. I didn’t know about the Mosaic law. I didn’t know about the sacrificial system. I didn’t understand the shedding of blood. The Day of Atonement was a mystery. These things were not taught in synagogue. All I knew was that when Messiah came there would be peace. There is no peace so Messiah could not have come.

Beginning in the Torah, Rosalind learned the meaning of animal sacrifice. She now understood how the blood of an innocent lamb atoned for a person’s sin. Then, her Messianic teachers showed her John 1:29 where John the Baptist declared of Jesus, Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! Rosalind said, That one verse shattered my world. I knew then that Jesus was the Messiah.

Rosalind’s mentor was an evangelical, ex-Catholic. The brand of Christianity that she was taught was virulently anti-Catholic. For the next 18 years she was on a mission to save Catholics from their false religion.

Two years after Rosalind accepted Jesus Christ as her Lord and Savior, her brother David — believing that it was the true church of Christ — converted to Catholicism. This caused not an estrangement between the two of them, but it did motivate Rosalind to spend the next 16 years of her life trying to save her brother from what she thought was a satanic system.

David would not be swayed. He had experienced Judaism, agnosticism, atheism, Protestantism (Baptist), and was convinced that the Catholic Church was the New Testament church established by Jesus Christ.

Christmas Eve 1978, Rosalind attended Mass with David. She was struck by a sense of awe and reverence — of holiness and majesty. The service began with a solemn observance of God, the Creator of all things, and Rosalind said to her brother, This reminds me of synagogue with Christ. When the Eucharist was celebrated Rosalind felt a bolt of energy surge through her body and she said to David, This is the breaking of bread at Passover. They’re observing Passover!

[The Eucharist is condemned by Protestants as crucifying Christ all over again.  Seen through Jewish eyes it is a memorial observance of Pesach.]

In the summer of 1990, Rosalind began a soul-searching examination of the Catholic Church. She continued seeking until her conversion at the Easter Vigil in 1995.

But that isn’t the whole story.

Rosalind Moss, as a Protestant, earned a graduate degree from Talbot Theological Seminary. A Jewish girl turned evangelical Christian, who later converted to Catholicism, had only just begun her spiritual journey. Having once been on the staff of a Quaker Church she would later become a writer of Catholic apologetics defending the very doctrines that she condemned for 18 years.

It was a road to Damascus story.

On September 8, 2011, Rosalind became Mother Miriam of the Lamb of God, Order of Saint Benedict. She can be heard daily on Immaculate Heart Radio.

The one issue that turned the hearts of Rosalind and David was that of church unity. They didn’t understand the tens of thousands of Protestant denominations. God is not the author of division and confusion.

I pray that they will all be one, just as you and I are one — as you are in me, Father, and I am in you. And may they be in us so that the world will believe you sent me (John 17:21).

The Reformation — understood by Catholics to be the falling away — has wrought tens of thousands of churches that teach just as many interpretations. There is not universal agreement even on what Protestants call the essentials. Some might argue that the split between the Eastern Orthodox Church and Rome was also divisive, but in practicality it was mostly due to cultural and political differences (such as the authority of the Romish Pope).

Together, we are his house, built on the foundation of the apostles and the prophets. And the cornerstone is Christ Jesus himself (Ephesians 2:20).

[The Catholic Church traces its roots back to the New Testament. Protestants trace their origins to the 16th century and after. This is not to suggest that the Church was without fault, but that correction should have been made internally.]

There are two Catholic churches in my neighborhood, and both conform to liturgical tradition. Conversely, there are a dozen Protestant churches nearby and none of them share the same doctrinal statement. In fact, a few require that a member be baptized according to their bylaws.

Brothers, we are not baptized into a denomination — but into the body of Christ. (I’ve already received two Protestant baptisms because of this errant teaching.)

Mother Miriam reflected on her journey:

I have always felt that I was made for another world and that I was a pilgrim in this one. Giving my life to God through Christ from my Jewish background changed my life forever. Coming further into the fullness of Christianity 18 years later in the Catholic Church deepened my relationship with God more than I knew was possible.

This is one person’s testimony. It is not intended to be a defense of Catholicism. The church of Jesus Christ is a spiritual body. It is not a building nor even a denomination. It is people of faith. Some are Catholic … some are Protestant … some attend a local parish while others meet in a private home … some are Pentecostal … some are Baptist … and there are still a few who insist that they are simply Christians.

“For a Jewish person to accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior is a difficult thing to understand,” said Rosalind.

But it truly is a coming home.

David

Copyright © 2017 Eternal Christ