Tonight at sunset begins the first month in God’s annual Holy Day season. While most Greco-Romans believe that the “new year” begins January 1st, this is not when God began the months for the year.
Julius Caesar in 46 B.C. declared that January 1st would mark the beginning of the new year. January was named after Janus, the god of gates and doors in Roman mythology. People prayed to Janus when they wanted something new in their lives (such as resolutions). Janus is normally represented with two faces, one looking to the past and the other looking to the future. The first day of the month of January was sacred to him.
But not to God.
Concerning the month of Abib/Nisan God declared,
2 This month shall be your beginning of months; it shall be the first month of the year to you (Exodus 12:2, NKJV).
The Bible also teaches:
7 In the first month, which is the month of Nisan (Esther 3:7).
That month is also called Abib in the Bible (cf. Exodus 13:4). It occurs in March or April each year based upon the lunar cycle.
Now perhaps it should be mentioned that other cultures also accept that the new year begins in the Spring. And while those cultures have various non-biblical practices, it is certainly possible that because God’s year begins in the Spring that perhaps anciently these people were aware of it, and retained the correct season, but not the practices.
Not all have followed the practices of Julius Caesar (called “Julie” below):
For some thousands of years before Julie and the Roman Senate got involved, the new year was celebrated with the first edible crops of the season or the first new moon.
In much of India, Nava Varsha is celebrated in March or April, just as in the most ancient civilizations.
Sikhs celebrate Hola Mohalla in March; ditto for Persian Nowruz.
As celebrated in China and southeast Asia, Lunar New Year still has a floating date, the first day of the first lunar month. (Shore R. Pagan Party: New Year’s traditions that hail from the depths of antiquity The Vancouver Sun, Canada – Dec 26, 2008, http://www.vancouversun.com/Pagan+Party+Year+traditions+that+hail+from+depths+antiquity/1116320/story.html viewed 01/22/09)
From a biblical perspective, the new year begins in the Spring, and hence not January 1st. And it also begins with a new moon. The fact that even many non-Christian cultures realize that should make it easier for Christians to realize that they too, do not need to heed the later practices of the Romans.
God Determines Seasons by the Moon and Other Lights
Notice what the Bible shows that God declared in Genesis:
14 Then God said, “Let there be lights in the firmament of the heavens to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs and seasons, and for days and years; 15 and let them be for lights in the firmament of the heavens to give light on the earth”; and it was so. 16 Then God made two great lights: the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night. He made the stars also. 17 God set them in the firmament of the heavens to give light on the earth, 18 and to rule over the day and over the night, and to divide the light from the darkness. And God saw that it was good. (Genesis 1:14-18)
Hence, the movement of the moon and the sun were important to mark the religious seasons for those wishing to follow the God of the Bible–they were partially created to mark when God’s Holy Days would appear. Days such as January 1 are not part of the way that God marked time for the seasons.
It should be noted that the Hebrew word transliterated as mowed`, but translated as “seasons” in Genesis 1:14 likely refers to religious seasons.
This can be verified by noting that the same word mowed` (Strong’s 4150) is used four times in the following two passages and the KJV English translation for them will be bolded below:
2 Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, Concerning the feasts of the Lord, which ye shall proclaim to be holy convocations, even these are my feasts…
4 These are the feasts of the Lord, even holy convocations, which ye shall proclaim in their seasons. (Leviticus 23:2,4, KJV)
There are also many other passages in the Old Testament that support this understanding. Yet, most people are unaware of the connections between the creation and God’s plan for holy day seasons. And because most do not, they do not keep God’s Holy Days, nor understand many aspects of the plan of salvation that they depict.
The new moons were brought in with a trumpet in ancient Israel:
3 Blow the trumpet at the time of the New Moon,
At the full moon, on our solemn feast day.
4 For this is a statute for Israel (Psalms 81:3-4, NKJV)
The biblical Feast of Trumpets begins on a new moon (Leviticus 23:24), and the First Day of Unleavened Bread (Leviticus 23:6) and the first day of the Feast of Tabernacles (Leviticus 23:34) begin on a full moon. Lunar cycles were prepared for this at the creation.
Anyway, in 2011, the first day of the first month is April 5th, which technically begins at sunset on the 4th, based essentially on the calculated expectation of the sighting of the new moon from Jerusalem.
Passover, is April 18, 2011, and will be observed on April 17th after sunset.
Additional details about God’s Holy Days and calendar can be found in the following articles:
Is There “An Annual Worship Calendar” In the Bible? This paper provides a biblical and historical critique of several articles, including one by the Tkach WCG which states that this should be a local decision. What do the Holy Days mean? Also you can click here for the calendar of Holy Days.
Hebrew Calendar and “Postponements” This John Ogywn writing explains why we in the Living Church of God use the calendar that we do and answers such questions as “Did Jesus Observe the Postponements?”
Passover and the Early Church Did the early Christians observe Passover? What did Jesus and Paul teach? Why did Jesus die for our sins?
Melito’s Homily on the Passover This is one of the earliest Christian writings about the Passover. This also includes what Apollinaris wrote on the Passover as well.
TPM: Passover on the 14th or 15th? While the LCG observes Passover on the 14th, some observe it on the 15th. Why is the 14th correct?
The Night to Be Observed What is the night to be much observed? When is it? Why do Jews keep Passover twice and emphasize the wrong date?
Should Christians Keep the Days of Unleavened Bread? Do they have any use or meaning now? What is leaven? This article supplies some biblical answers.
Pentecost: Is it more than Acts 2? Many “Christians” somewhat observe Pentecost. Do they know what it means? It is also called the Feast of Harvest, the Feast of Weeks, and the day of firstfruits. What about “speaking in tongues”?
Did Early Christians Observe the Fall Holy Days? Did they? Did Jesus? Should you?
The Book of Life and the Feast of Trumpets? Are they related? Is so how? If not, where not?
The Day of Atonement–Its Christian Significance The Jews call it Yom Kippur, Christians “The Day of Atonement”. Does it have any relevance for Christians today?
The Feast of Tabernacles: A Time for Christians? Is this pilgrimage holy day still valid? Does it teach anything relevant for today’s Christians? What is the Last Great Day? What do these days teach?
Holy Day Calendar This is a listing of the biblical holy days through 2012, with their Roman calendar dates. They are really hard to observe if you do not know when they occur 🙂