Among the various groups of feast keepers, there is a common awareness that our Father’s Biblical year begins with a new moon, and that each of the three yearly appointments (Exodus 34:18,22,23; Leviticus 23) in the first, third, and seventh months are counted from that first new moon.
Even though most of us recognize the event of the recurring new moon day as a central governing tool for God’s clock, there are wide and varying opinions about what this day means to us as His people who are preparing for heaven. Questions often arise from the inquiring minds of those who have accepted and are striving to keep the new moons: How do we keep them? What do we do on those days? Is the new moon to be observed as a Sabbath every month? How do we know when the new moon is? What does it mean to us? How does the observance of this day teach us sanctification through the Gospel of our Lord Jesus?
When we look through our Bibles, we find that there are 21 verses which mention the new moon specifically. In all of these texts, there is no direct instruction for us as to how to observe this monthly appointment in our day. I believe, though, that we have been given definite clues which are able to lead us to discover answers and to understand these Scriptures, and that we have the privilege of applying what we find to our own lives so we may be obedient to the pattern which was originally established by God for His people. Father has also revealed what this day is about through the principles of His Word and the plan of redemption.
I have experienced that there are tried and true ways to observe the new moon day – very beautiful revelations of the gift of our Father to His people. This does not mean that there is only one way to observe the day, but that we may indeed have enough accumulated material to know exactly what is acceptable to do and how we can commemorate and celebrate the day with confidence that our God approves.
As this study progresses, I will endeavor to shed light on how the 21 Scriptures referring to the new moons may be understood and applied because I believe they can be harmonized for our instruction today.
Since this is a study about the new moon day itself, there will be no emphasis on how to determine which new moon is the first of the year. That is another study in and of itself. The basic outline here concerns the what, when, where, why, and how of the matter, as I believe our understanding of the answers to these questions will help reconcile our minds to receive the blessings God intends for us by the observance of this day.
First, we need to understand what the basic purpose was for the new moon day as Scripture explains it. Then we will explore how Israel was directed to keep it.
What is the new moon in the Bible?
In short, the new moon is the beginning of each month in the Bible. It is the first, or new, day of a month. The Hebrew word for months in the following texts is ‘chodesh’ (Strong’s 2320), which means ‘new moon.’ The beginning of this day is marked by a particular phase of the moon, which we will see a bit later.
“Also in the day of your gladness, and in your solemn days, and in the beginnings of your months, ye shall blow with the trumpets over your burnt offerings, and over the sacrifices of your peace offerings; that they may be to you for a memorial before your God: I am the Lord your God” Numbers 10:10.
“And in the beginnings of your months ye shall offer a burnt offering unto the Lord; two young bullocks, and one ram, seven lambs of the first year without spot” Numbers 28:11.
On the new moon, or at the beginning of the month, the priests of the Israelites blew silver trumpets to announce the meeting of the congregation (see Numbers 10:8). The two silver trumpets were made after Moses was given instructions for their construction and use (verse 2). Among other purposes, these trumpets were to be used in connection with the temple for calling the assembly together for the new moons. The ram’s horn, or shofar, was also used to ring in the time of the new moon in areas distant from the temple grounds. The shofar is still used today by some to herald the new moon. The silver trumpets were confiscated by Titus’ army in 70 AD when the temple at Jerusalem was leveled.
There were also specific sacrifices to be made by the Israelites on this day. It was in God’s wisdom that He called for this time of sacrifice to make reparation for sin so that the Plan of Redemption and faith in the coming Redeemer might be illustrated to His beloved people.
In the next several Scripture verses, the term ‘new moon’ is also ‘chodesh.’ Both phrases (‘beginning of your months’ and ‘new moons’) are used to describe the same event. I have supplied the emphasis in these verses:
“And to offer all burnt sacrifices unto the LORD in the sabbaths, in the newmoons, and on the set feasts, by number, according to the order commanded unto them, continually before the LORD” 1 Chronicles 23:31.
“Behold, I build an house to the name of the LORD my God, to dedicate it to him, and to burn before him sweet incense, and for the continual shewbread, and for the burnt offerings morning and evening, on the sabbaths, and on the newmoons, and on the solemn feasts of the LORD our God. This is an ordinance for ever to Israel” 2 Chronicles 2:4.
“Even after a certain rate every day, offering according to the commandment of Moses, on the sabbaths, and on the newmoons, and on the solemn feasts, three times in the year, even in the feast of unleavened bread, and in the feast of weeks, and in the feast of tabernacles” 2 Chronicles 8:13.
“He appointed also the king’s portion of his substance for the burnt offerings, to wit, for the morning and evening burnt offerings, and the burnt offerings for the sabbaths, and for the newmoons, and for the set feasts, as it is written in the law of the LORD” 2 Chronicles 31:3.
“And afterward offered the continual burnt offering, both of the newmoons, and of all the set feasts of the LORD that were consecrated , and of every one that willingly offered a freewill offering unto the LORD” Ezra 3:5.
“For the shewbread , and for the continual meat offering, and for the continual burnt offering, of the sabbaths, of the newmoons, for the set feasts, and for the holy things, and for the sin offerings to make an atonement for Israel, and for all the work of the house of our God” Nehemiah 10:33.
Josephus, a Jew who lived in the first century just after the days of Messiah, noted that, “At the new moon, they both perform the daily sacrifices, and slay two bulls, with seven lambs of the first year, and a kid of the goats also, for the expiation of sins” (Josephus, Antiquity of the Jews, Book III).
As important as the sacrifices were on the new moon, this was primarily a time of worship, as we will soon see. As on the Sabbaths and feasts, the blood of the sacrifices performed during the new moons were to point the children of Israel to the true Lamb, Jesus Himself, as their propitiation for sin. They were to look forward in faith to that day when type would meet antitype at Golgotha (see Matthew 27:33).
Being influenced by the rituals of bloodshed of the pagan nations around them though, the Israelites eventually drifted toward thinking that the mere act of killing animals and shedding of blood would satisfy God.They soon forgot the original purpose for which God had established the sacrifices. Regarding the blood-filled worship of the Israelites, God says:
“Bring no more vain oblations; incense is an abomination unto me; the new moons and sabbaths, the calling of assemblies, I cannot away with; it is iniquity, even the solemn meeting. Your new moons and your appointed feasts my soul hateth: they are a trouble unto me; I am weary to bear them. And when ye spread forth your hands, I will hide mine eyes from you: yea, when ye make many prayers, I will not hear: your hands are full of blood” Isaiah 1:13-15.
Because the people desired to keep their iniquity, God could not and would not accept the dead formalism of their sacrifices or their observation of the new moon. In the same way, it is our iniquity that separates us from Him (see Isaiah 59:2). This is will be important to keep in mind as we advance through this study.
It is true worship that our Father desires. God told Ezekiel:
“…The gate of the inner court that looketh toward the east shall be shut the six working days; but on the sabbath it shall be opened, and in the day of the new moon it shall be opened…Likewise the people of the land shall worship at the door of this gate before the LORD in the sabbaths and in the new moons” Ezekiel 46:1, 3; emphasis added.
The prophet Isaiah wrote:
“It shall come to pass, that from one new moon to another, and from one sabbath to another, shall all flesh come to worship before me, saith the LORD” Isaiah 66:23; emphasis added.
David remembered the command from Numbers 10:10, saying:
“Blow up the trumpet in the new moon, and in the full moon, on our solemn feast day” Psalm 81:3.
This charge is preceded by the wonderful privilege and duty of worship given to His people to “sing aloud” and “make a joyful noise unto God” (verse 1).
Being that the new moon was a day of worship, the law of God was taught during this time as well:
“And it came to pass in the fortieth year, in the eleventh month, on the first day of the month, that Moses spake unto the children of Israel, according unto all that the LORD had given him in commandment unto them” Deuteronomy 1:3.
God also chose the time of the new moon to give important messages through His prophets Ezekiel and Haggai (I have added the emphasis):
“And it came to pass in the eleventh year, in the first day of the month, that the word of the LORD came unto me, saying…” Ezekiel 26:1.
“And it came to pass in the seven and twentieth year, in the first month, in the first day of the month, the word of the LORD came unto me, saying…” Ezekiel 29:17.
“And it came to pass in the eleventh year, in the third month, in the first day of the month,that the word of the LORD came unto me, saying…” Ezekiel 31:1.
“And it came to pass in the twelfth year, in the twelfth month, in the first day of the month, that the word of the LORD came unto me, saying…” Ezekiel 32:1.
“In the second year of Darius the king, in the sixth month, in the first day of the month, came the word of the LORD by Haggai the prophet… saying…” Haggai 1:1.
The new moon day was about worship, forgiveness, revelation, character perfection, and instruction in the law. In His perfect wisdom, our Father in Heaven saw that it was beneficial for His people to start every month in this manner and to establish all of His feasts by its recurrence.
David says in Psalm 104:19, that “He appointed the moon for seasons [or ‘for feasts’ – Strong’s 4150].” The new moon was the starting point at which the months began, and all the feasts during the year were numbered by counting the days from that day. The evening of the 14th day of the first month is Passover (Leviticus 23:5). It is necessary to know which day is the first day of the month in order to count to the 14th day.
The same is true for the Day of Trumpets, which is the seventh new moon of the year. The Day of Trumpets begins the count to the 15th day which begins the feast of tabernacles. It is very important to know when the seventh new moon is going to occur because this new moon was commanded to be kept holy:
“Speak to the children of Israel, saying: ‘In the seventh month, on the first day of the month, you shall have a sabbath-rest, a memorial of blowing of trumpets, a holy convocation” Leviticus 23:24; emphasis added.
“And in the seventh month, on the first day of the month, ye shall have an holy convocation; ye shall do no servile work: it is a day of blowing the trumpets unto you” Numbers 29:1; emphasis added.
The seventh new moon is the only new moon in the Bible that was declared to be a Sabbath. None of the other new moons during the year come with such a command; however, there is still a solemnity and sacredness attached to them.
We are told that David and Jonathan were expected to be at the king’s table on the new moon:
“And David said unto Jonathan, Behold, tomorrow is the new moon, and I should not fail to sit with the king at meat: but let me go, that I may hide myself in the field unto the third day at even” 1 Samuel 20:5.
In relating this story, Ellen White says:
“At the time of the new moon a sacred festival was celebrated in Israel…At this feast it was expected that both the young men would appear at the king’s table” (Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 654).
The prophet Amos tells how the greedy merchants yearned for the Sabbath and new moon to be over in order that they might sell corn:
“Hear this, O ye that swallow up the needy, even to make the poor of the land to fail, Saying, When will the new moon be gone, that we may sell corn? and the sabbath, that we may set forth wheat, making the ephah small, and the shekel great, and falsifying the balances by deceit?” Amos 8:4-5.
Indeed, since there was a “sacred festival” on the new moon, the people would be required to attend the assembly and the ceremonies of the day, and the market would be closed in honor of God’s intention that all the people meet with Him. However, this does not necessarily suggest that every new moon was regarded as a Sabbath in which no work was to be performed or that it was to be kept holy. The work prohibited was that of a secular nature – any work which tended to take the mind away from worship and devotion. Those who were involved in their day-to-day pursuits of worldly and temporal gain are the ones referenced in Amos. They could not bear to sacrifice their gain potential on the new moon. It was more important to them to fill their pockets than to worship the true God.
There was, however, sacred work that was performed during the new moon:
“On the first day of the first month shalt thou set up the tabernacle of the tent of the congregation…” Exodus 40:2.
The people began to cleanse and sanctify the house of God on the new moon according to 2 Chronicles 29:17.
Ezra began to travel to Babylon on the new moon, and he also arrived in Jerusalem a few new moons later:
“For upon the first day of the first month began he to go up from Babylon, and on the first day of the fifth month came he to Jerusalem, according to the good hand of his God upon him” Ezra 7:9.
Thus we see that on the new moon, there was definitely work done which God approved of – work that furthered His cause. Work that kept the mind upon the cares of this world did not meet His approval. Likewise, there is no record of any work or travel being conducted on the Day of Trumpets in the Scriptures.
The trumpets were to be blown on every new moon and feast in order to call an assembly of Israel for the appointed time that Jehovah commanded. It was only in the seventh new moon that a Sabbath and holy convocation were to be observed; it was a memorial of blowing of trumpets. The seventh new moon was the beginning of a very solemn time, a call to holiness, with the Day of Atonement coming ten days later. It was a time to be rid of sin and to afflict the soul so that the feast of tabernacles could be participated and rejoiced in. If a person did not have Sabbath rest in his heart after afflicting his soul during the time of Atonement, he would be cut off from Israel and could not keep the feast of tabernacles (see Leviticus 23:29-30).
“This feast [Tabernacles] was to be pre-eminently an occasion of rejoicing. It occurred just after the great Day of Atonement, when the assurance had been given that their iniquity should be remembered no more. At peace with God, they now came before Him to acknowledge His goodness and to praise Him for His mercy. The labors of the harvest being ended, and the toils of the new year not yet begun, the people were free from care, and could give themselves up to the sacred, joyous influences of the hour. Though only the fathers and sons were commanded to appear at the feasts, yet, so far as possible, all the household were to attend them, and to their hospitality the servants, the Levites, the stranger, and the poor were made welcome” (Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 540).
Since we believe Father still wants us to meet with Him according to His appointments, and since we know that in order to keep these appointments on their proper days we need to know how to determine when the new moon is, it behooves us to study how He told Moses to begin the months and to see what kind of pattern has been established for those of us who are seeking to obey God’s commands today. We want to know when He is calling us to meet with Him. I believe He has not left us in the dark – light is shining from Scripture and throughout the history of His people.
When is the new moon?
This is where it is good to have a basic understanding of the moon’s phases. Anyone can easily find this information online by searching the phrase “moon phases” or “moon cycles.” For the sake of explanation and as an aid to understand the remainder of the study, I will lay out the basic sequence of the phases of the moon.
Each month, the moon goes through a complete cycle.*
“The term ‘moon cycle’ (or ‘lunar cycle’) refers to the moon’s continuous orbit around the earth. As the moon orbits the earth, its appearance (the ‘phase’) changes and thus gives us an indication of the moon’s progress in the cycle (the ‘age’).
“The sun always illuminates exactly one-half of the moon, but we see it at different angles as it rotates around the earth. With the naked eye, we can see only the part of the moon that the sun is illuminating. For instance, a crescent moon is what we call the moon when we see only a small portion of its illuminated surface” (www.moonconnection.com).
* A full lunar cycle is an average of 29.5 days, sometimes 29, and sometimes 30 days in length.
Every month, the moon enters its point of complete alignment with the earth and sun. This phase is called conjunction and lasts for a period of about three to five minutes. When the moon is in this phase, it is directly between the earth and the sun, and because we always see only one side of the moon, our side is completely dark because the sun is perfectly behind it. The opposite side of the moon is fully illuminated because it is facing the sun, but we will not see it.
As the moon moves past the point of conjunction, it slowly becomes illuminated on our side. It can take anywhere from one to nearly four days for us to see the very first sliver of light with our eyes here on earth. This period is called the translation period. When we see this first sliver, the left side will be open and the horns will be pointing to the left, much like this parenthesis, ). This phase is called the waxing crescent. It will be first visible in the western sky very soon after sunset. Depending upon your location and the time of year, the waxing crescent may be shaped like a ‘U’ with the horns of the moon faced upward.
The waxing crescent then grows into the first quarter and past the first quarter to the full, when it is a complete and perfect circle of light. After the moon has passed the full phase, it begins to wane until it is in its last quarter, and then it moves on to the very last waning crescent, which appears in the eastern morning sky. This last waning crescent is open to the right and the horns are pointed to the right, like this: ( . The waning crescent can also look like a ‘U’, but it will be slightly tilted up on its left side. After this phase, the moon disappears for a time and enters into conjunction soon after, and we cannot see it. The same process repeats each month.
How did God instruct Moses to begin the new moon, and how did Israel begin their months?
“And God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years” Genesis 1:14.
When our Creator set the sun and moon in place on the fourth day of creation, He assigned them not only to determine night and day, but also to tell when His appointed times, or feasts, would commence.
Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance, H226: (in the sense of appearing); a signal (literally or figuratively), as a flag, beacon, monument, omen, prodigy, evidence, etc. – mark, miracle, (en-) sign, token.
Ibid, H4150: properly an appointment, that is, a fixed time or season; specifically a festival; conventionally a year; by implication, an assembly (as convened for a definite purpose); technically the congregation; by extension, the placeofmeeting; also a signal (as appointed beforehand): – appointed (sign, time), (place of, solemn) assembly, congregation, (set, solemn) feast, (appointed, due) season, solemn (-ity), synagogue, (set) time (appointed).
This word ‘owt’, for sign, is the same word used to describe the ‘token’ of Noah’s rainbow (Genesis 9:12) and Abraham’s circumcision (Genesis 17:11). A rainbow is beautiful to our outward senses, and when we see it, we are reminded of God’s covenant with Noah. God gives us this visible token to remember Him and how He has designed a plan to rescue us from destruction as He did Noah and his family. Circumcision was also an outward sign, a visible mark that identified a male as belonging to Jehovah, the God of Heaven.
As these signs were outwardly visible and observable to the naked human eye, Father gave the moon to be an outwardly visible and observable sign to His people for telling when His new month begins. When God told Moses to “observe the month of Abib” (Deuteronomy 16:1), He was telling him to watch for and keep the new moon. The meaning of the word, ‘observe’ in the Strong’s Concordance is, “to keep, watch, preserve.”
When the last visible waning crescent disappeared, Israel could not see the moon for one to four days, depending upon the moon’s speed of rotation and relation to the earth. (If the moon is moving faster from the earth, it appears sooner than later. If the moon is moving slower from the earth, it will take longer to appear. We call these positions of the moon perigee and apogee). It was during these days of no moon that they were to watch vigilantly for the next appearance in the western sky at evening. This would occur soon after sunset and would be visible to the eye as a thin crescent which was open towards the left, as shown earlier. When this new moon was sighted and confirmed, the new moon day began.
Historical accounts confirm that:
“Originally, the New Moon was not fixed by astronomical calculation, but was solemnly proclaimed after witnesses had testified to the reappearance of the crescent of the moon” (Encyclopaedia Judaica, Vol. 12, p. 1039).
Philo (20 BC-50 AD), a prominent Jewish leader and contemporary of Jesus and Paul, describes the new moon:
“[It] is that which comes after the conjunction, which…[is] the day of the new moon in each month…at the time of the new moon, the sun begins to illuminate the moon with a light which is visible to the outward senses, and then she displays her own beauty to the beholders”Treatise on the Special Laws, Book II, XI (41).
It is especially significant how Philo describes the new moon being visible “to the outward senses” because he lived during Jesus’ whole life while He was on earth as a man. This was within the Second Temple Period (530 BC – 70 AD). Christs Passover, Resurrection, and Pentecost in 31 AD occurred, therefore, according to the method of beginning months with the sighting of the moon’s first visible crescent.
“These types were fulfilled, not only as to the event, but as to the time. On the fourteenth day of the first Jewish month, the very dayand month on which for fifteen long centuries the Passover lamb had been slain, Christ, having eaten the Passover with His disciples, instituted that feast which was to commemorate His own death as ‘the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.’ That same night He was taken by wicked hands to be crucified and slain. And as the antitype of the wave sheaf our Lord was raised from the dead on the third day, ‘the first fruits of them that slept,’ a sample of all the resurrected just, whose ‘vile body’ shall be changed, and ‘fashioned like unto His glorious body’ 1 Corinthians 15:20; Philippians 3:21” (The Great Controversy, p. 399, emphasis added).
Ellen White says here that our Lord’s Passover was the true 14th day of the 1st month, and it was according to that which had been observed and practiced for 1500 years. If we are paying close attention, that was in reference to Mt. Sinai. Jesus was crucified on Passover in 31 AD according to the same direction He gave to Moses 1500 years before. He had instructed Moses to begin the month at the first appearance of the moon. Our Lord wasoffered up for our sins on the true 14th day of the 1st Jewish month. It follows that our Heavenly Fatherordained His Son to fulfill the type on the proper day, and Heprearranged the Holy Spirit to establish His church on a Pentecost that was, in fact, exactly the 50th day from Wave Sheaf. Jehovah is a God of order and exact fulfillment.
Our Adventist pioneers also understood that the moon’s appearance was fundamental for the beginnings of the months. This was vital to their conclusion that the date of October 22nd was the date for the Day of Atonement in 1844. Here are some statements from their periodicals that tell how they viewed the beginnings of the Biblical month and year:
“Consequently, this Jewish year began with the appearance of the moon on the 18th of April, bringing the passover on the 1st of May – an entire month later than the Rabbinical passover. Reckoning from this moon, the seventh Jewish month commenced with the appearance of the moon on the 13th of October; so that the tenth day of the seventh month synchronized with the 22d of that month…It is therefore evident that the seventh month must have commenced with the new moon in October; and that the tenth day of the seventh month of the Jewish Sacred year, in A.D. 1844, could only synchronize with the 22d of that month” (Advent Shield, January 1845, pp. 278-279; underline in original, italics added).
“In the commencement of the Jewish year no reference was originally had to astronomical accuracy. They reckoned from the first appearance of the moon” (Signs of the Times, December 5, 1843, p. 134; emphasis added).
“When they saw the new moon, then they began their months, which sometimes consisted of 29 days, and sometimes of 30, according as the new moon did sooner or later appear. The reason of this was, because the synodical course of the moon (that is, from new moon to new moon) being twenty-nine days and a half, the half day, which a month of 29 days fell short of, was made up by adding it to the next month, which made it consist of 30 days; so that their months consisted of 29 and 30 days alternatively. None of them had fewer than 29 days, and therefore they never looked for the new moon before the night following the 29th day; and, if they then saw it, the next day was the first day of the following month. Neither had any of their months more than 30 days, and therefore they never looked for the new moon after the night following the 30th day!” (Prideaux, History of the Jews, Vol. 1, p. 51, as quoted in The Signs of the Times, December 5, 1843, p. 135; emphasis added).
“As the moon changes in the evening of October 11th, it will not be visible till the 13th, and that is the most probable time for the commencement of the 7th month…We are, therefore, shut up to this conclusion, that the new moon of October begins the seventh month, and the anniversary of the day of atonement will be on Oct. ” (The Midnight Cry, October 11, 1844, p. 117).
“We can see no possibility of beginning the seventh month later than the appearance of the new moon after its change on the evening of Oct. 11” (The Midnight Cry, October 19, 1844, p. 133).
“The Jews, we are told, commenced their months with the first appearance of the moon, which, in that climate, was usually the second evening after the change [i.e., conjunction]” (Advent Shield,January, 1845, p. 274; underline in original).
It is plain to see that October 22, 1844 was determined by the “moon’s appearance” in both April and October. This historic and foundational date which our Pioneers proclaimed and later understood as the beginning of Christs ministration in the Most Holy compartment of the Sanctuary rested upon a method which was used in the time before His earthly ministry to commence the prophecy of the 2300 years, and also by which the Son of God was offered up on Calvary for our sins.
Being that the date of the Day of Atonement in 1844 was so significant to our Adventist predecessors and that this date was arrived at by counting from the new moon in April, we may rightly conclude that the new moon will have more meaning to us in these last days, as “every divine institution is to be restored” (Prophets and Kings, p. 678). Isaiah says:
“And it shall come to pass, that from one new moon to another, and from one Sabbath to another, shall all flesh come to worship before me, saith the LORD” Isaiah 66:23.
We understand that this is referring to what we will be doing in Heaven and the new earth, so the new moon will still have great significance to us long after this sinful world has passed away.
The new moon was important before the cross, and it will be important throughout eternity, but what about after the cross and in our day today? What does it mean to us? And since it is something we should keep today, how are we to keep it?
“God teaches that we should assemble in His house to cultivate the attributes of perfect love. This will fit the dwellers of earth for the mansions that Christ has gone to prepare for all who love Him. There they will assemble in the sanctuary from Sabbath to Sabbath, from one new moon to another, to unite in loftiest strains of song, in praise and thanksgiving to Him who sits upon the throne, and to the Lamb forever and ever” (Testimonies for the Church, Volume 6, p. 368).
“His commandments are given to a thousand generations, and when that period is ended the redeemed host shall be in the city of God and observe the Sabbath there, and especially come up to worship God from Sabbath to Sabbath and from one new moon to another” Isa. 66:23 (MS 173, 1897, pp. 4-5).
Here the new moon, along with the Sabbath, is associated with sacrifices of thanksgiving, commandment keeping, worship, and great joy. It is implied that if we are not cultivating the attributes of perfect love while on this earth, we will not be fit to dwell in those mansions that our Lord is preparing. The Sabbath and the new moon are also about preparing and fitting us for the New Jerusalem. If we are not keeping the Sabbath and the new moon here on earth, we will not be fit to keep them in Heaven.
What will we do on the new moon in Heaven?
“And he shewed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb.In the midst of the street of it, and on either side of the river, was there the tree of life, which bare twelve manner of fruits, and yielded her fruit every month: and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.And there shall be no more curse: but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it; and his servants shall serve him:And they shall see his face; and his name shall be in their foreheads” Revelation 22:1-4; emphasis added.
“In the last chapter of Revelation we are told something about the home Christ is preparing for His faithful ones. John writes, ‘And He showed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb. In the midst of the street of it, and on either side of the river, was there the tree of life, which bare twelve manner of fruits, and yielded her fruit every month: and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.’
“Christ says, ‘I am the bread of life…. Whoso eateth My flesh, and drinketh My blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day’ (John 6:35, 54). It is our privilege to eat the bread of life. Christ says, ‘The flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life’ (verse 63). As we believe and practice the words of Christ, bringing them into the everyday experience, we become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust” (Sermons and Talks, Volume 2, p. 146).
Ellen White makes a clear comparison in these two paragraphs between partaking of the Lord’s Supper and partaking of the fruit and leaves of the tree of life. By partaking of the body and blood of Jesus, we partake of His divine nature (2 Peter 1:4), and our Spiritual lives are prospered and lengthened. By eating of the fruit of the tree of life every month (every new moon) in Heaven, we will live forever.
There is also a comparison to the ordinance of humility that precedes communion:
“I saw the redeemed host bow and cast their glittering crowns at the feet of Jesus, and then, as His lovely hand raised them up, they touched their golden harps and filled all heaven with their rich music and songs to the Lamb” (Early Writings, p. 288).
“I then saw Jesus leading His people to the tree of life, and again we heard His lovely voice, richer than any music that ever fell on mortal ear, saying, “The leaves of this tree are for the healing of the nations. Eat ye all of it.” Upon the tree of life was most beautiful fruit, of which the saints could partake freely. In the city was a most glorious throne, from which proceeded a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal. On each side of this river was the tree of life, and on the banks of the river were other beautiful trees bearing fruit which was good for food” (Ibid, p. 289, emphasis added).
There will be a monthly new moon gathering where we will participate in washing the feet of our King Jesus with our crowns in humility and adoration, and then He will direct us to the tree of life whereby we may partake of eternal life! It will follow the same sequence of the ordinance of humility and communion we do here. Notice that He will say, “Eat ye all of it”. On the new moon in Heaven, Jesus will use the same phrase with the saints that He used with His disciples at communion!
“And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed it, and brake it, and gave it to the disciples, and said, Take, eat; this is my body. And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Drink ye all of it; For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins. But I say unto you, I will not drink henceforth of this fruit of the vine, until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom” Matthew 26:26-29; emphasis added.
What may we do on earth on the new moon day?
Can you see the fulfillment of our Lord’s words to His disciples happening according to the testimony?
“The Lord’s Supper is not to be observed only occasionally or yearly.—The salvation of men depends upon a continual application to their hearts of the cleansing blood of Christ. Therefore, the Lord’s Supper was not to be observed only occasionally or yearly, but more frequently than the annual passover. This solemn ordinance commemorates a far greater event than the deliverance of the children of Israel from Egypt. That deliverance was typical of the great atonement which Christ made by the sacrifice of His own life for the final deliverance of His people” (SDA Bible Commentary, Volume 6, p. 1090).
Though “the Lord’s Supper was instituted as a memorial of the same event of which the Passover had been a type (Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 539), it is not only to be observed “occasionally or yearly.” This ordinance commemorates freedom from sin and worldly bondage. It is a conscious decision to partake with our Master in the same suffering in the flesh that He experienced in His sinless life, a renewal of our pledge of allegiance to Him.
“Forasmuch then as Christ hath suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves likewise with the same mind: for he that hath suffered in the flesh hath ceased from sin; That he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh to the lusts of men, but to the will ofGod” 1 Peter 4:1-2.
“Duties are laid down in God’s Word, the performance of which will keep the people of God humble and separate from the world, and from backsliding, like the nominal churches. The washing of feet and partaking of the Lord’s supper should be more frequently practiced” (Early Writings, p. 116).
Clearly, communion and foot washing are to be done often. It is not enough that we only practice this together once a year. And do we think that once a quarter, or four times a year, is frequent enough? Why not every month since we will be doing it in Heaven and the new earth every month?
“Let therefore no man judge you in meat or drink or in respect of…the new moon…which [is] a shadow of things to come, but the body is of Christ” Colossians 2:16.
Do we understand Paul’s instruction a little better now? Our meat and our drink are Jesus (John 6:55-56), and if we do not eat His flesh and drink His blood, we have no life (Ibid, verses 53-54). On the Passover and new moons, we have cause to do this very thing with one another because we, as His body, are gathered to partake of Him. If we gather for any other reason other than Him, it is in vain.
How does the new moon relate to God’s church, and why is it important for us to keep it in the last days?
So far, we have seen that the new moon was a very fundamental day for ancient Israel. We have also seen how our Savior’s Passover took place according to its manifestation. As we learned earlier in this study, the new moon day was about worship, character perfection, forgiveness, revelation, and instruction in the law. We have also seen how the forerunners of our movement discovered that the new moon was an integral piece in their study of prophecy as well as the rules and boundaries of its interpretation. The new moon will be kept in Heaven and the new earth as we partake of the tree of life every month. We have studied how it is appropriate to observe the ordinance of humility and partake of Christ’s flesh and blood every month here on earth as we look forward to and prepare for eternity with our Lord.
I believe we have had the opportunity to understand that the new moon, along with so much of God’s law which was kept in ancient times, has been lost sight of (pun intended), and how, as our pioneers were just awakening out of the Dark Ages, they began to understand its significance in the fulfillment of time according to the way God ordained.
It would be appropriate for all who are living in the last few grains of sand in the hourglass of earth’s history and who have so much responsibility for knowledge, to further understand and apply to ourselves the meaning of the new moon. I believe there is a clue in the following verse:
Most of us will probably agree that the woman represents Father’s remnant church and that the sun represents the Son’s righteousness that covers and identifies His church, but what does the moon represent here and why is it under her feet? Have we understood enough concerning this symbol?
This is where the new moon is very closely applicable to our condition as a people. We begin to realize that we are closely connected to the moon because we are the lesser light which reflects the Greater. This dark world is looking upon us, we who are chosen to be representatives of the character of Father, to shine forth His glory as new creatures in His Son, Jesus.
“God is Light, and Him is no darkness at all” 1 John 1:5.
The Father is the very source of the Son’s Light, and the Son gives Light to you and me through His Spirit, the Comforter. Were this not the case, we would continue in darkness. The new moon is a faithful reminder to us of this truth. It is an astronomical fact that the moon needs the sun to “rule the night.” This is why Moses called it the “lesser light” (Genesis 1:16). It is because of the sun that the moon can shine its light into the darkness of the night.
Sister White compares us to the moon in this statement:
“Humanity has in itself no light. Apart from Christ we are like an unkindled taper, like the moon when her face is turned away from the sun; we have not a single ray of brightness to shed into the darkness of the world. But when we turn toward the Sun of Righteousness, when we come in touch with Christ, the whole soul is aglow with the brightness of the divine presence” (Thoughts from the Mount of Blessing, p. 40).
The renewal of the moon and her reflection of the sun’s light are a fitting example of humankind in relation to the Son of Righteousness. Just as the moon is a dark and imperfect shape without the sun’s light, so the character of the church is dark and imperfect without His righteousness. Without Jesus, we possess an imperfect character and are without glory. Without the sun, the moon does not give off any light whatsoever. She cannot begin to show any light until she turns toward the sun. When the moon becomes new, she shines out of darkness, shining more and more light until she is full. When the human soul turns toward the Son, he becomes new and begins to shines out to a dark world, growing into more light until at last, he will become a perfect reflection of the “Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ” (Ephesians 4:13).
Just as a woman goes through a monthly cycle of cleansing, the church, represented by a woman, should experience a monthly cycle of cleansing and renewal as the members of her body come into harmony through self examination and humble service to one another so that impurities of character may be taken away. What better time to do this than as the moon is renewing its cycle?
“Remember ye the law of Moses my servant, which I commanded unto him in Horeb for all Israel, with the statutes and judgments” Malachi 4:4.
Ellen White expounds upon this instruction:
“The closing words of Malachi are a prophecy regarding the work that should be done preparatory to the first and the second advent of Christ. This prophecy is introduced with the admonition, ‘Remember ye the law of Moses my servant, which I commanded unto him in Horeb for all Israel, with the statutes and judgment’” (The Southern Review, March 21, 1905).
The feast days are an integral part of the statutes and judgments, and they are all kept by the new moons. Since the church of God will remember these things as they prepare for the Second Advent of Jesus, then they surely will be keeping them and will stand firmly upon the whole law of His Father. They will know that the statutes are “not shadowy types to pass away with the death of Christ” (Review and Herald, May 6, 1875) and that “they were to be binding upon man in every age as long as time should last” (Ibid). This is why it is significant that the moon is directly under the feet of the woman of Revelation 12. It means that the woman is abiding by God’s clock and His appointed times, which are governed by the sun and moon. Because of this, the Dragon is wroth with her. She does not follow the pattern and keep the times of the Beast and its Image. Her foundation is the Word, the whole Word, and nothing but the Word, and since Jesus spoke the law with the statutes and judgments to Moses, that Word is true and everlasting. It is the foundation upon which she stands.
The church’s sanctification
In both the Bible and Ellen White’s writings, there are consistent examples and object lessons of the moon’s application to the character and condition of Messiah’s church. Just as we would have no light during the night if the moon refused or failed to reflect the sun’s light, the church has nothing to reflect to a dark world without the perfect light of Christ’s righteousness. We are currently in the late night hours of this earth’s age, and as Adventists, we believe in the imminent return of our King. Our human character, left to itself, has no goodness and is only a dark and lifeless object with many craters and defects. We, as the moon, cannot vindicate the true character of our God without His Son’s Glory living in and shining through us.
We have seen that the ordinance of humility and the Lord’s Supper serve to sanctify the members of God’s church. The members of the church are privileged to go through self-examination to purify their hearts before Him. No one is worthy to take part in the communion unless they have done this heart work:
“But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup.For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body”1 Corinthians 11:28-29.
As we have previously seen, the new moon is a day for us to practice more and more being “fit for the mansions that Christ has gone to prepare for all who love Him” (Testimonies for the Church, Volume 6, p. 368).
“When this work shall have been accomplished, the followers of Christ will be ready for His appearing. ‘Then shall the offering of Judah and Jerusalem be pleasant unto the Lord, as in the days of old, and as in former years.’ Malachi 3:4. Then the church which our Lord at His coming is to receive to Himself will be a ‘glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing.’ Ephesians 5:27. Then she will look ‘forth as the morning, fair as the moon, clear as the sun, and terrible as an army with banners’ Song of Solomon 6:10”(The Great Controversy, p. 425).
This work that is to be accomplished is the final removal of sin from the sanctuary in Heaven. The church will be wearing the righteousness of Christ perfectly, and her character and disposition will be “fair as the moon” when fully reflecting the light of the sun.
When the Israelites saw the last waning crescent in the eastern morning sky, they knew that they would not be able to see the moon for a time as it would be dark and hidden from view. During this period, they would watch vigilantly for the moon’s next appearance in the western sky after sunset. This vigilance was an act of devotion and dedication of time in order to be ready for the observance of the events that day would bring. What a glorious opportunity for Israel to ‘make right’ with their brethren and their God!
During this time when the moon is in its conjunctive and dark phase, we too may be sober and vigilant, meditating upon our own dark and void spiritual condition without the Son as we prepare for the ordinance of humility and communion after the moon once again begins to reflect light to us. After we have done diligence in prayerful examination of self, we may worthily serve our brethren in humility and take communion with our Savior.
“Examine me, O Lord, and prove me; try my reins and my heart” Psalm 26:2.
When the moon is full, emotions and crime rates tend to be high. Conversely, when the moon is becoming new, we may find that our emotions are lower and that we are more contemplative and ready to examine ourselves. We may also be more ready to think intellectually instead of emotionally. On the new moon, we see that we can come before the Lord and before our brethren in contriteness of spirit and humility, recognizing that without our Master’s righteousness, we are meeting in vain. As the moon is again showing forth its illumination by the sun, so may we be renewing our covenant with Jehovah by partaking of the body and blood of Messiah.
As we do this every month, we give added opportunity for our God’s Spirit to sanctify us more, and self examination will be to us a joy that we associate with thanksgiving. We may be thankful for self-examination because we are giving our Father in Heaven more chance to speak to us of our own shortcomings and character flaws. Specific sins not confessed will have less time to be forgotten and swept under the rug. The church will be cleansed of iniquity, and we will be perfected unto that day as we look to allow Christ to cut away our sin and cleanse us from impurity.
Keeping the new moon here on earth will indeed fit us to keep it in the new earth. As we keep 12 or 13 new moons a year here, rehearsing and participating in the ordinance of humility and communion, we will already be practicing to eat of the new fruit of the tree of life every month, “from one new moon to another” (Isaiah 66:23).
A blessing of experience
Some of us who have already learned of the truths presented in these pages have developed a love for the new moon, just as we love the Sabbaths and feasts of God. We look forward to this time of needed reflection. It means more to us than simply recognizing that the phase of the moon tells us it is a new month; it is an opportunity to become more refined in character, as “gold tried in the fire” (Revelation 3:18), and to worship our Creator and take part in His body and blood. There is a joy and peace in knowing a full blessing is to be gained by coming together to worship from one new moon to another.
Being persuaded that the new moon is not a Sabbath, except for the 7th new moon, we still take the time off from our day-to-day secular jobs and workplaces. We see that although the new moon is not a weekly Sabbath, the day still should be set aside and devoted to self-examination and the ordinances our Lord established with His church. Though we do not refrain from all work, we do not ‘go to work’ at our normal jobs. We see a blessing of temporal and monetary sacrifice in this practice. We also understand that if we are busy with the secular cares and bustle of life, we may not be as able to hear the messages God is trying to give us.
Normally, we will gather in the morning to sing songs, speak testimonies, share from God’s Word, and tell of what the new moon means to us individually, to keep fresh in our hearts why we are gathering. We may have a new testimony about something that has changed or become clearer through revelation for us since the previous new moon.
After this, we take some time for personal prayer and confession of any known sin and/or share with one another anything that may have had a chance to stand in between us during the month so we may be fit for the Lord’s Supper. Then when we are satisfied that this has been accomplished, we wash the feet of one another, telling how grateful we are to be servants by Messiah’s example, and we express our thoughts toward one another. Then we move to a table which has been set for a banquet of fruits, nuts, and unleavened bread or crackers.
Before we enjoy this agape meal together, we take the body and blood of Jesus into us in the form of unleavened bread and fresh grape juice. Then we have thanks for the meal set before us and thank God Almighty for the promise of Jesus dining with His family in Heaven at the banquet table. We then enjoy profitable fellowship with one another as we eat joyfully and in hopeful expectation of the gathering of the saints when we will one day sit with the King at His table (1 Samuel 20:5)!
“And he saith unto me, Write, Blessed are they which are called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb” Revelation 19:9.
My family and others with whom we have shared fellowship over the years have been mightily blessed and tremendously benefited in our relationships through this monthly practice. We want to experience the fitting for the kingdom of God and desire that all who believe in its significance may find an experience in keeping the new moon which is as true and real as the one we have found! Its observance, together with observance of the Sabbaths and feasts, helps us to prepare for and hasten the coming of our Lord, for He must have a perfect people to retrieve. We look forward to and relish these times of appointment which keep us ever mindful of our Father’s plan of salvation through His only begotten Son, Jesus, and His timing.