Lunar Sabbath



The feast days spiritually memorialize YAHUAH’s entire plan of redemption (salvation) for Israel (His chosen people). So Bet Yeshurun Assembly, in obedience, opens its sanctuary to worship Yah on His moedim (set-apart days including Chodesh). All the feasts stand together and are equally important. When BYA gathers to celebrate a New Moon we are following the ways of our ancient fathers, but do so in a converted manner of new life and faith (Isaiah 1:13-14).

Except for certain sacrificial practices found in the Books of Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy, the celebrations of New Moons, Sabbaths and festivals are similar. In the Millennium everyone will know what to do for Chodesh. (Isaiah 66:23). The first step in the process is to recognize something is to be done, then begin doing it. Taking that first step will lead to more revelation. Yah will gently correct the way of His people to have them worship Him as He desires. So why not start being a Chodesh-keeper starting with the next New Moon celebration?


Visit our Schedule page for dates and times of worship. All interested visitors are welcome to attend!

The Divine Calendar and Phases of the Moon

The Lunar Month begins with the first crescent of the moon appearing after the dark period. You can access future and past months as well on the controls on our Lunar Calendar page. Also see our Worship Schedule page for our worship times and dates, and read about the Divine Calendar in the Biblical study below.

YAH’s Calendar


All are invited to celebrate the last new moon feast of the year with praise and worship of Elohim. “Thus says Sovereign YAHUAH; “The gate of the inner court that looks toward the east shall be shut the six working days. But on Sabbath it shall be opened and in the day of the new moon it shall be opened.” (Ezekiel 46:1)


As an example, you may have noted that many messianic believers and followers of Judaism kept Passover on Monday evening, March 25, 2013 and Unleavened Bread for seven days until Monday, April 1, 2013. And, many followers of Christian faiths celebrated the anniversary of Yahshuah’s resurrection from the grave (often called Easter) on Sunday, March 31, 2013.  What is the basis for BYA to celebrate next month’s new moon as the first month in YAHUAH’s calendar rather than this month like most religious groups? In other words, why will BYA celebrate YAH’s spring festival (Numbers 28:16-25) one month later than most?


The Word provides the answers. “Elohim said, ‘Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night. Let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years. Let them be for lights in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth.’ And it was so. Elohim made two great lights: the greater light to rule the day and the lesser light to rule the night. He made the stars also.” (Genesis 1:14-16)


Thus, Elohim created “lights” in the sky (sun, moon and stars) as “signs” for “seasons” (“moedim” H4150) which means YAH’s festivals). To determine when His people will gather for YAHUAH’s set-apart (“holy”) days; we look for signs in heaven.


An “equinox” is a physical sign in YAH’s heavenly creation. Webster’s New World College Dictionary defines equinox as “the time when the sun in its apparent annual movement along the elliptic crosses the celestial equator, making night and day of equal length in all parts of the earth.”    An equinox occurs twice a year; once in the spring and once in the fall. On these days we can observe a length of night (720 minutes from sunset to sunrise) that equals the length of day (720 minutes from sunrise to sunset).


According to the Gregorian calendar, the 2013 spring (vernal) equinox is March 20. This calendar is widely accepted in modern day society. It serves internationally as a global standard for communication, transportation and commerce. It is recognized by international institutions like the United Nations and the Universal Postal Union. (“Introduction to Calendars”, United States Naval Observatory)


According to astronomical data from the United States’ Naval Observatory (Astronomical Applications Dept. in Wash. D.C.) on March 16, 2013, the sun will set on at 7:40 pm (EDT) and the sun will rise the next morning on March 17, 2013 at 7:40 am. This is the “true” equinox when all locations on earth will have 720 minutes of night and day.


This discrepancy between a Gregorian calendar and science is significant as many religious groups use the calendar’s equinox date to schedule their spring festivals (e. g. Passover and Easter). Why would world religions schedule festivals according to a calendar date instead of the true equinox date? Webster’s defines a “calendar” as “a system of determining the beginning, length and divisions of a year and for arranging the year into days, weeks, and months.” Let’s look deeper into some of man’s calendars.


Wikipedia (the information source for this article on calendars) lists nearly 50 different types of calendars in use today. These include national ones like: Chinese, Indian, Armenian, Ethiopian, Iranian, Irish, Lithuanian, Nepal, Javanese, Romanian and many other countries. Religious ones in use today include: Buddhist, Hindu, Kurdish, Maya and many other religions. You likely heard of tax or fiscal calendars, and all of us are familiar with academic or school calendars. Ancient civilizations had calendars, too (e.g. Aztec, Babylonian, Egyptian, Hellenic, Macedonian, Roman, et al).


This article will discuss four particular calendars in use today: the Islamic, Hebrew, Julian and Gregorian Calendars. These calendars all utilize astronomical cycles: the day (based on the earth’s rotation on its axis), the month (based on the moon’s revolution around the earth) and the year (based on the earth’s revolution around the sun). Interestingly, these three specific time periods are all based upon the time pieces YAH created in the sky (the sun, moon and stars) as recorded in scripture.


An Islamic calendar is a lunar-based calendar that uses the moon as a basis for days, months and years. For religious purposes, Muslims determine the start of each month with the sighting of a lunar crescent.  Islamic calendar months are 29 or 30 days, which is the time it takes for the moon to revolve completely around the earth.   This 12-month calendar has a yearly total of 354 or 355 days. So, its calendar dates systematically shift relative to the months of a Gregorian calendar that totals 365 or 366 days. A yearly Islamic cycle begins with the 1st month called “Muharram” (“Islamic New Year”), and regresses through the seasons over a period of about 33 years. The Islamic calendar began in 682 AD and often regards Friday as the weekly gathering day of rest.


The Hebrew calendar (also known as the Jewish calendar) is a lunar/solar-based calendar that uses the moon and sun as a basis for days, months and years. Its dates, however, are based upon calculations rather than actual astronomical observations. After the 1st century AD, Talmudic principles gradually replaced the Israelite method of an observation-based calendar with a mathematically calculated one. This resulted in the Jewish religious dates that are officially accepted in the country of Israel. Many messianic groups observe these festival dates, which are computed from defined Pharisaic rules. For example, the day of Passover is calculated so that it occurs after the fixed date of March 20 or 21. On a Jewish civil calendar, New Year’s Day is called Rosh Hashanah and it occurs in the fall. The ecclesiastical Jewish New Year is in the spring. A Hebrew calendar day begins at sunset and lasts until the next sunset (about 24 hours, the time it takes for one complete earthly rotation). The Hebrew calendar’s weekly day of rest is regarded as Saturday.


In 45 BC, Roman emperor Julius Caesar introduced the Julian calendar, a solar-based calendar that used the sun as a basis for days, months and years. The vernal equinox date for this 12-month, 365-day calendar was designated to be March 21. The Julian calendar New Year began in winter on the1st day of January. It also instituted a leap year rule (inserting an extra day every 4th year for a total of 366 days). This was designed to ensure a calendar year matched a solar year (the time it takes for the earth to completely revolve around the sun). This calendar rule didn’t produce a precise match to a solar year.


Over centuries, the astronomical equinox slowly drifted away from the fixed calendar date of March 21. Religious leaders noted Easter’s computed March date was moving out of the springtime. So, on February 24, 1582, Pope Gregory XIII decreed the Gregorian calendar (also known as the Christian calendar) would replace the Julian calendar. This solar-based calendar, like its predecessor, fixed March 21 as the spring equinox. For a sense of how much drift occurred, the Julian calendar equinox was March 11 rather than the ecclesiastically fixed date of March 21. Reforming the calendar 10 days brought the Easter dates back into springtime. It took many centuries before this calendar was accepted worldwide. In fact, some still use a Julian calendar.


A Gregorian calendar leap year rule differs slightly from the Julian calendar. Each year divisible by 4 is a leap year (except for years exactly divisible by 100). These centurial years are leap years if exactly divisible by 400 (e.g. the years 1700, 1800 and 1900 were not leap years, but 2000 was). The Gregorian calendar dates for Easter are computed from a set of ecclesiastical rules and tables. A Gregorian calendar has days that start in the middle of the night, regards Sunday as its weekly day of rest, starts its new year in January and uses the names of pagan gods.


Are not the calendars of men complex? New Year’s dates can occur in fall, winter and spring. For some, their days start at dusk, for most others the days start at midnight. A pontiff nullifies a calendar; then adds 10 days to its replacement. Church rules move festival dates for man’s convenience. Leap year rules fail to meet their goal. Has the vernal equinox drifted again? (Recall in 2013 it is really March 16, not March 20 per the Gregorian calendar). Will history repeat with a papal decree of a new Christian calendar?


What about YAH’s calendar? He gives a very specific date for His Passover and Unleavened Bread. “In the fourteenth day of the first month at even is YAHUAH’s Passover. On the fifteenth day of the same month is the Feast of Unleavened Bread unto YAHUAH. Seven days you must eat unleavened bread.” (Leviticus 23:5-6)


Would YAH expect obedience, and then confuse us about when to keep His Feast? Scripture says, NO! “If you shall hearken to the voice of YAHUAH your Elohim, to keep His commandments and His statutes which are written in Torah, and if you turn to YAHUAH your Elohim with all your heart, and with all your soul. For this commandment which I command you this day, it is not hidden from you, neither is it far off. It is not in heaven that you should say, ‘Who shall go up for us to heaven and bring it to us that we may hear it, and do it?’ Neither is it beyond the sea that you should say, ‘Who shall go over the sea for us and bring it to us that we may hear it, and do it?’ But the word is very nigh to you, in your mouth and in your heart that you may do it.” (Deuteronomy 30:10-14)


We know days, months and years are important to people. That’s why men create calendars to track these time periods. That’s also why YAH created the sun, moon and stars. (Genesis 1:14-16) This scripture study illustrates how men devise their calendars. It makes sense that YAH created physical signs that men cannot alter so YAH’s people can trust YAH’s calendar.


Webster’s Dictionary has another “calendar” definition: “a list or schedule, as of pending court cases, bills coming before a legislature, planned social events, etc.” That’s what scripture teaches of YAH’s calendar, “Lights in the firmament of the heaven” (sun, moon & stars) are “for signs, and for seasons (i.e. appointed times), and for days, and years.” We don’t need to read a man’s calendars to know when to meet with YAH. As a disciple of Yahshuah we need to learn how to tell time. We do that by reading His signs, looking in the sky, not down at the ground. Hallelu Yah!


So, how can a disciple of Yahshuah do this? Let’s consider history and scripture. Romans used a Julian calendar when Yahshuah walked on earth. Did Yahshuah consult a calendar filled with the names of pagan deities for the times of YAH’s Holy Days? Did He rely upon a non-existent Hebrew (Jewish) calendar to plan for YAHUAH’s Feasts? Or would He, like other Torah-obedient Israelites, search for YAH’s signs in heaven? For example, Yahshuah knew each day began at sunset, and He was to rest at night. “I must work the works of Him who sent me, while it is day. The night comes, when no man can work. (John 9:4)


As spoken through the prophets, Yahshuah also knew what was in store for those Israelites who strayed from Torah and used the lunar and solar calendars to schedule their own sabbaths, new moons and annual festivals. “I will also cause all her mirth to cease, her feast days, her new moons, and her sabbaths, and all her solemn feasts.” (Hosea 2:11) 


Webster’s defines “spring” as “that season of the year in which plants begin to grow after lying dormant all winter (in the astronomical year: that period between the vernal equinox and the summer solstice). This truly is the season for celebrating Passover, as scripture confirms, “Observe the month of Abib and keep the Passover unto YAHUAH your Elohim. For in the month of Abib, YAHUAH your Elohim brought you forth out of Egypt by night. You shall therefore sacrifice the Passover unto YAHUAH your Elohim, of the flock and the herd, in the place which YAHUAH shall choose to place his name there.” (Deuteronomy 16:1-2)


Note that Passover is observed in “the month of abib”. The Hebrew word, pronounced “Ah-veev” (H24) refers to “tender plants”. So, scripture describes a time when plants are tender, (e.g. at the time barley is being harvested). The desert is coming to life again as winter ends. Israelites obediently celebrated Passover in spring with a pilgrimage to Jerusalem. They sacrificed lambs and baked unleavened bread. If their festival began too early, they ran into impassable roads flooded from the rainy season. Their lambs, born in late winter, would be unavailable for the Temple sacrifice and unripe barley could not be made into bread for their Feast of First Fruits ceremony.


To ensure that didn’t happen, YAH said the Israelites would see a special “moon” prior to Passover. This moon marked “the beginning of moons (months)”. “YAHUAH spoke to Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt, ‘This month shall be unto you the beginning of months. It shall be the first month of the year to you.’” (Exodus 12:1-2)


The Hebrew word for “year” in this passage is “shana” (H8141), from a root word “shanah” (H8138) that means “to do again, repeat”. That’s what happens. Spring comes again. YAH’s cycle of life returns again with the light of sun.


So it is understandable that prior to Passover people will see signs of spring like ripe barley in Israel, flowering fruit trees, buds on trees, etc. These physical signs do occur in spring. Yet YAH gave very specific signs of spring’s arrival. Remember YAH says to look up for the sun, moon and stars, not down at the ground.


Many are misled into believing a new year begins in the fall or winter. Scripture says no such thing. “And it came to pass that after the year was expired, at the time that kings go out to battle, Joab led forth the power of the army, and wasted the country of the children of Ammon, and came and besieged Rabbah. But David tarried at Jerusalem. And Joab smote Rabbah, and destroyed it.” (1 Chronicles 20:1) In this verse, the word “year” is again “shanah.”


The Chronicler records that leaders of nations went on war expeditions “after the year expired” i.e. in the spring. Kings would not embark on war activities at the start of fall (rainy season) or middle of winter (short daylight hours). They waited until spring knowing the daylight of summer and dry weather would assist their endeavors. Thus, the calendars of Islam (rotating new year month), Jews (a fall new year) and Christians (winter new year) are all wrong according to YAH’s Word. How many other non-divine concepts do these calendars contain?


Our western mindset and calendars also convince people that a new year begins with a new month (or moon). That’s not necessarily true. Consider next month’s new moon, which is called “Rosh Chodesh” (First New Moon). This Feast occurs on April 10/11, which is after the March16/17 equinox of 2013.   


Can you picture YAH speaking to Aaron and Moses about His calendar? (Exodus 12:1-2) Can you see our patriarchs in Egypt looking at a clear night sky in the spring? Visualize them pointing at the stars, specifically the constellation Aries that appears during the spring equinox. At sunrise they could see a desert turning green and blossom again after a long winter. The most prominent of all YAH’s spring signs were the equinox (sun), the stars (constellation of Aries) and a new moon (Rosh Chodesh).


Few of us know how to use stars as a sign of YAH’s spring feast. Thank YAH we have a second heavenly witness, the vernal equinox. But what if you don’t have access to a scientific data base like the U.S. Navy keeps? Can we tell when an equinox occurs without consulting a calendar or other external resource?


Yes! You can construct a device in your own yard. Insert a 2-foot long stick in the ground in an open clearing in your yard. At sunrise insert another 2-foot long stick in the ground along the shadow of the 1st stick.  At sunset, if the shadow from the 2nd stick aligns with the 1st stick, it is the equinox. The shadow line between the sticks will be pointing exactly due east and west. A more sophisticated sundial can help you to track the sun’s movement relative to the earth’s sky throughout the year.


Scheduling Passover based upon man’s calendars, and specifically upon the Gregorian calendar’s March 21 date, is out of order with YAH’s created signs. Passover is a physical and spiritual celebration. Can the barley (Yah’s chosen ones) be ripe for the harvest if Passover comes too early?


I pray this brief lesson on YAH’s calendar signs exposes some false doctrines that insidiously are contained within man’s calendars. May we continue to seek and to worship YAHUAH Elohim and to serve our Messiah, King Yahshuah, in spirit and in truth. And, may YAH be with you and His grace with all, Elder Curt

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