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What the Bible says about New Moon
(From Forerunner Commentary)

All the commands given by God—everything that He commands about the new moons (Numbers 10:10; 28:11-15)—regard specific offerings. All other information from the Scriptures about their observance is implied.

Without question, the Israelites regarded them with a deference not given a common day. Given the Israelite's proclivity either to add or take from what God said, that is not unexpected. But God nowhere—except for the Feast of Trumpets—designates the new moons as holy time.

He does not command the Israelites to come before Him. He does not tell them to abstain from work, nor does He say they cannot prepare food or buy and sell. Neither does He instruct them to feast. Yet, we can clearly infer from Scripture that the Israelites were doing all of these things.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The New Moons

Related Topics: New Moon


Genesis 1:14

Lunar Sabbatarians defend their notion of pegging the weekly Sabbath on the lunar month by citing primarily two scriptures. One is Genesis 1:14 (Holman Christian Standard Bible [HCSB]): “Then God said, 'Let there be lights in the expanse of the sky to separate the day from the night. They will serve as signs for festivals and for days and years.'”

The Hebrew word translated as “festivals” is moedim, a word that is key to lunar Sabbatarians' arguments. Moedim, a plural noun (#4150 in Strong's Hebrew Concordance) occurs for the first time in this passage. Translators often render it as “seasons” or “times.”Properly, it denotes “appointed seasons” or “appointed times,” referring to the festivals of God, His feast days. Today, we generally call these festivals by the term “holy days.” Lunar Sabbatarians, looking at Genesis 1:14, correctly conclude that the sun—and particularly the moon—play a key role in establishing the seasons, and most specifically, the appointed feast days, the holy days of God.

The biblical chapter that summarizes these festival days, these moedim, is Leviticus 23. This is the second passage on which lunar Sabbatarians focus. Most specifically, they cite Leviticus 23:1-4. (Note: Moedim is translated as “appointed times” in verses 2 and 4.)

The Lord spoke to Moses: “Speak to the Israelites and tell them: These are My appointed times, the times of the Lord that you will proclaim as sacred assemblies. Work may be done for six days, but on the seventh day there must be a Sabbath of complete rest, a sacred assembly. You are not to do any work; it is a Sabbath to the Lord wherever you live. These are the Lord's appointed times, the sacred assemblies you are to proclaim at their appointed times.” (HCSB) (emphasis ours)

The remainder of Leviticus 23 discusses the moedim, the holy days, in their sequence through the year.

Here is the thrust of the lunar Sabbatarians' arguments. They note that the weekly Sabbath, discussed in Leviticus 23:3, appears in the midst of the discussion of the moedim, the appointed times, mentioned in verses 2 and 4. They submit that the inclusion of the weekly Sabbath in verse 3, in the context of the moedim, the focus of the chapter, proves that the weekly Sabbath is connected to the moedim. Hence, they conclude that the moon, as mentioned in Genesis 1:14, is the basis for determining the weekly Sabbath, just as it is basic in determining the arrival of the holy days.

In other words, lunar Sabbatarians argue that the moon, which determines when a new month begins, also determines when the count toward the weekly Sabbaths begins.

Lunar Sabbatarians' a priori dismissal of an important fact has led them to a wrong conclusion. That fact is this: God recognizes two distinct cycles in determining Sabbaths: He created an annual cycle. He also created a weekly one. They are not the same.

The annual cycle, which defines the appointed feasts (moedim), is intrinsically connected with the moon, as Genesis 1:14 says. Specifically, the annual cycle is connected with the new moon, which in Hebrew is khodesh (Strong's #2320). The annual cycle actually begins on a new moon, the one starting the Hebrew month of Abib. The fall of most moedim, that is, most appointed festivals, is determined by the occurrence of a new moon.

For example, the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread falls on the fifteenth day of Abib. It falls fifteen days into the month of Abib—fifteen days after the new moon that ushered in Abib. Likewise, the Feast of Trumpets is the first day (that is, the new moon itself) of the seventh month, Tishri. The Day of Atonement falls on the tenth day of Tishri.

As an illustration of the importance of the new moon in determining the “appointed feasts,” notice Leviticus 23:4-6 (HCSB), whichrenders khodesh as “month”: “The Passover to the Lord comes in the first month, at twilight on the fourteenth day of the month. The Festival of Unleavened Bread to the Lord is on the fifteenth day of the same month.”

Khodesh appears ten times in Leviticus 23, alwaysin reference to determining the day on which the moedim arrive. This stress on the new moon is consistent with God's comments in Genesis 1:14 that the moon would “serve as signs for festivals.”

So, the fall of the annual “appointed feasts” is based on the arrival of new moons, which define the start of the Hebrew lunar months. The annual holy days define one cycle, a cycle of seven holy days throughout the year.

Charles Whitaker
The Lunar Sabbath or the Seventh-Day Sabbath: Which?

Numbers 29:6

It is important to note that there is no command from God to observe the new moon in either Testament. Instead, they are presented as a recognized and ongoing practice to which God adds special sacrifices and offerings. These additions elevate them above an ordinary day but not to the level of a holy day.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The New Moons

Related Topics: New Moon | Observing New Moons


1 Samuel 20:5-6

This shows that feasting on the new moons was not looked upon as something unusual but expected as a matter of social custom. It was not evil nor did God disapprove, but as He had not commanded it, feasting on a new moon was a social custom.

Perhaps feasting on the new moons began with families customarily making an annual sacrifice on one of them, as David mentions his family doing in Bethlehem (verse 6). Again, God nowhere commands Israel to do this. Commentators feel this feast was probably a thank offering on which the family feasted after God's portion was burned on an altar. They chose the new moons for these affairs, since they were not encumbered by the restrictions of God's law as the weekly and annual Sabbaths were.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The New Moons

Related Topics: Annual Sacrifice | New Moon | New Moons


2 Chronicles 2:4

Some have thought that II Chronicles 2:4 proclaims that the new moons are to be an ordinance forever, similar to the weekly Sabbath and annual holy days. But the context reveals that this verse provides no such authority.

Solomon, writing to Huram (Hiram), the king of Tyre (verse 3), was explaining what he (Solomon) was doing and why Huram should deal with him in the same way he dealt with David, his father. It was not a general proclamation to Israel; Solomon is stating his intentions in the dedication of the Temple. It is Solomon who, in verse 4, declares this to be "forever to Israel." God was not making this proclamation, as He did Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy; the spokesman was "merely" a king, and there is no indication that God either inspired his statement or, on the other hand, condemned it. But Solomon's statement must be seen in the context of a letter about the Temple dedication: He is declaring that the things that were formerly carried out at the wilderness Tabernacle were now to be performed at the Temple.

An interlinear Bible reveals that the phrase "is an ordinance" is not in the original Hebrew (this is also italicized in the NKJV to show that the phrase was added). So the last part of the verse literally reads, "This forever to Israel," and, again, these were Solomon's words to Huram, and thus did not have the weight of when God declares something to be "perpetual" or "everlasting."

This verse does not add to what was already established by God in Numbers 29:6 regarding the new moons (which only gives instructions about the animal sacrifices, which do not have a literal place under the New Covenant). For more information, see the article entitled The New Moons.

David C. Grabbe

Amos 8:5-6

These verses give an interesting insight into how far the Israelites may have gone in adding to God's commands about the new moons.

There is a small chance that the new moon in question is the Feast of Trumpets. But if it is not Trumpets, it sets up an interesting situation: As the Israelite's ruling class wallowed in wealth, it drifted farther and farther from a true worship of God. In practicing some stringent traditions that God had nowhere commanded, they had attached their own ideas to His law!

This strict observance did not at all impress God favorably! Totally out of harmony with God's aim of "justice run[ning] down like water, and righteousness like a mighty stream" (Amos 5:24), they missed the intent of God's law entirely! He desires mercy and not sacrifice (Hosea 6:6; Matthew 12:7).

These verses strongly imply that the Israelites did not conduct business during the new moon, but God never commands such a restrictive practice. Clearly, the day was different from common days because of God's assignment of special offerings. But in their occasional bursts of zeal (Romans 10:1-3), the Israelites apparently believed that if the little God required of them was good, then more would be better!

In theory it sounds good, but we are given a twofold warning in Deuteronomy 12:32 and Proverbs 30:6 that we should not add to His Word. This casts grave doubts on following the Israelitish tradition.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The New Moons

Colossians 2:16

From this verse, the sole reference to a new moon in the New Testament, it appears as though the early church observed them in some way, and they were castigated by their neighbors for doing so. Exactly how they kept them is not clear. Surely they did not observe them as Israel did, that is, with the assigned sacrifices and the blowing of trumpets. Hebrews 5 through 10 make abundantly clear that those sacrifices typify Christ's many-sided work and are no longer required as part of the worship of God.

If it were not for their link to God's festivals, the new moons could almost be taken as an anachronism today. But since the festivals are still to be kept and dating them is tied to the new moons, and in the absence of a direct command to celebrate or convene on them, it seems right to mark them by paying attention to their coming and going, at the very least.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The New Moons

Find more Bible verses about New Moon:
New Moon {Nave's}

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