Wednesday, June 18, 2014

FOUNDATIONS - Yahweh's Calendar

The study of the early foundations of human history and this present creation would be incomplete if it did not include an examination of the celestial testimony that Yahweh wrote upon the immense canvas of the heavens. It is a message placed where all mankind and the angels can read it. In this present age the heavenly constellations are viewed with great disdain by the church. Christians have been taught to associate the constellations of the Zodiac with pagan astrology. To many believers, looking to the stars to discern a divine message is considered as great of an evil as consulting a medium, or participating in a seance. The majority of Christians today have been taught that the practice of star-gazing to receive a divine message has its origins in idolatrous religions.

The rejection of Yahweh’s heavenly message provides evidence of how little most Christians study the Scriptures to discern truth for themselves. Many, having heard their pastor, or some Christian teacher, warn against paying heed to occult astrology and horoscopes, have been all too willing to relegate the entire field of celestial signs and messages to Satan’s domain. This constitutes an imprudent overreaction to Satan’s corruption of a mode of communication that Yahweh originated. Rejecting celestial signs and messages is an untenable position to adopt from a purely Biblical perspective.

Christians exhibit a mental contradiction when they annually recount the story of the magi who were informed of the birth of the King of the Jews by their observations of the heavens, while at the same time condemning the practice of receiving divine messages from the stars. In the Gospels we read of the wise men seeing the Messiah’s star announcing His birth. Acting upon the celestial revelation, these wise men traveled to Jerusalem, ultimately arriving at the home where Joseph and Mary dwelt with the young Messiah in Bethlehem.

Matthew 2:1-2, 10-12
Now after Yahshua was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, magi from the east arrived in Jerusalem, saying, “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we saw His star in the east, and have come to worship Him...” And when they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. And they came into the house and saw the Child with Mary His mother; and they fell down and worshiped Him; and opening their treasures they presented to Him gifts of gold and frankincense and myrrh. And having been warned by God in a dream not to return to Herod, they departed for their own country by another way.

Here we have worshipers of the Son of God bowing prostrate before Him and presenting gifts of great value and significance. Not only are we informed that these wise men from the East rightly discerned the heavenly message announcing the birth of God’s Son, but they afterward received further communication from God in a dream, informing them of the treachery of King Herod, and advising them to take another route on their return journey. It is readily apparent that Yahweh spoke to these learned men of the East through the stars even as He did through a dream. There is NOTHING in this account that would condemn the practice of looking to the heavens for divine messages.

Star of Bethlehem, 1890, Sir Edward Burne-Jones

If this passage were an isolated account, and there were no more Scriptural references to Yahweh speaking to mankind through celestial signs, it might be viewed as an anomaly, with no endorsement of the practice implied. However, it is not an anomaly. There are many passages that speak of the role of the stars and constellations being used as a divine message board by Yahweh. Not only was the first coming of the Messiah announced by signs in the heavens, but Yahshua has informed His disciples that His second coming to the earth will be preceded by a similar testimony in the heavens.

Luke 21:25-28
“And there will be signs in sun and moon and stars and upon the earth, dismay among nations in perplexity at the roaring of the sea and the waves, men fainting from fear and the expectation of the things which are coming upon the world; for the powers of the heavens will be shaken. And then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. But when these things begin to take place, straighten up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.”

Even as there were signs in the heavens announcing the birth of the King of the Jews, there will be heavenly signs announcing the time of His return. The Sun and Moon and stars serve as Yahweh’s appointed messengers. The wise men from the East understood this and accurately read the divine message while King Herod and the Jewish religious leaders were ignorant of the fact that the birth of their long awaited Messiah, the most anticipate event in all of Jewish history, was occurring in their day.

It should not seem strange that Yahweh would use the stars to speak to mankind. There is a profound correlation made between stars and messengers in the Bible. We begin to see this as we observe that the angels of God are often associated with the stars of the heaven.

Job 38:6-7
“On what were [the Earth’s] bases sunk? Or who laid its cornerstone, when the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy?”

“The sons of God” (bene ha elohim) is a reference to the angelic hosts. They were present at the creation of the Earth. These sons of God are also called “morning stars.” In this passage from the book of Job we read of the stars “singing” and “shouting for joy.” Both “singing” and “shouting for joy” are forms of communication, something most people do not associate with stars.

In the New Testament, the Greek word used to describe these heavenly messengers is “angelos.” This Greek word that is rendered into English as “angel,” literally means “a messenger.” We see this meaning affirmed in the word “evangelist” which is defined as “a messenger of good news.” In the New Testament angelos is oftentimes translated as “messenger,” whether heavenly or terrestrial.

Matthew 11:9-10
“But what did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I say to you, and more than a prophet. For this is he of whom it is written: ‘Behold, I send My messenger (angelos) before Your face, who will prepare Your way before You.’”

In these words, Yahshua describes John the Baptist as an “angelos,” a messenger. The correlation between an “angelos” and a star is further revealed in the book of Revelation as the Son of God is figured as holding seven stars in His right hand.

Revelation 1:20
“As for the mystery of the seven stars which you saw in My right hand, and the seven golden lampstands: the seven stars are the angels of the seven churches, and the seven lampstands are the seven churches.”

Star of Bethlehem - Close Up, Sir Edward Burne-Jones

Some translations render the word “angels” here as “messengers.”

Revelation 1:20
As to the hidden meaning (the mystery) of the seven stars which you saw on My right hand and the seven lampstands of gold: the seven stars are the seven angels (messengers) of the seven assemblies (churches) and the seven lampstands are the seven churches.
[Amplified Bible]

Revelation 1:20
The seven stars are the messengers of the seven assemblies, and the seven lampstands are the seven assemblies.
[The New Testament: An Expanded Translation by Kenneth S. Wuest]

Revelation 1:20
The secret of the seven stars that thou hast seen upon my right hand, and the seven golden lamp-stands: the seven stars are messengers of the seven assemblies, and the seven lamp-stands that thou hast seen are seven assemblies.
[Young’s Literal Translation]

It is demonstrably proven by the Scriptures that stars are intended to be viewed as divine messengers. The utilization of stars and other heavenly bodies as divine messengers is established from the very first chapter of the Bible.

Genesis 1:14-18
Then God said, “Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens to separate the day from the night, and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days and years; and let them be for lights in the expanse of the heavens to give light on the earth”; and it was so. And God made the two great lights, the greater light to govern the day, and the lesser light to govern the night; He made the stars also. And God placed them in the expanse of the heavens to give light on the earth, and to govern the day and the night, and to separate the light from the darkness; and God saw that it was good.

There is a mystery contained in these words whose depths need to be plumbed. Many Bible teachers when discoursing on this passage from Genesis, comment on the divine role the heavenly bodies serve as they mark the annual seasons and passage of months and years. Although much more is indicated by this passage, it is certainly true that Yahweh determined that the lights in the heavens should serve as a sort of divine calendar. The passage above states that the lights in the heavens are “for seasons.” We recognize that the angle at which the earth faces the Sun changes over the course of a year. This results in distinct seasons being observed on the earth.

The Hebrew word translated as “seasons” in the passage above is “moed.” A common mistake is made due to the fact that we are reading an English translation of a book originally written in ancient Hebrew. The mistake is in assuming that the Hebrew word translated as “seasons” is referring to the  four seasons of the year that we know as winter, spring, summer and fall. The Hebrew word “moed” actually means an “appointed time.”

The feasts of God are collectively called “moedim.” Three times a year, on dates prescribed by God, all Israel was required to gather at the place appointed to observe the feasts. The dates were based upon Yahweh’s divine calendar. We can see the relationship between the moon and Yahweh’s calendar and appointed times in the following verses.

Psalms 104:19
You made the moon to mark the [moedim], and the sun knows when to set.

Isaiah 66:23
“And it shall be from new moon to new moon and from sabbath to sabbath, all mankind will come to bow down before Me,” says Yahweh.

If we were to state the verse above in modern vernacular we might say, “from month to month and from week to week, all mankind will come to bow down before Me.” The new moon marked the beginning of the month for the Jews. This was Yahweh’s design for a calendar. The English word month is derived from an ancient Germanic word meaning “moon.” The time it takes for the moon to go through all of its phases and return to the same point is 29.53 days. Because the lunar cycle does not perfectly match the solar day, the month prescribed by Yahweh may be either 29 or 30 days in length.

The first day of every month is referred to in Hebrew as Rosh Chodesh. Rosh Chodesh means “head of the month” and it occurs on the first sighting of the new moon over Israel. You can note on the calendar above that the days of the week are numbered, rather than named. Yahweh did not assign names to the days of the week such as Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, etc.. These names are pagan in origin, the days of the week being named after a specific god that was honored during each consecutive 24 hour period. The beginning of this practice was ancient Babylon. The Babylonians recognized five planetary bodies, as well as the Sun and Moon. Each one of these planetary bodies were named after gods.

It is easy to recognize the name of the moon in Monday, and the Sun in Sunday. The other five days of the week which correlate to planets and their associated gods bear different names depending upon the nation, language and century in which the calendar was in use. Four of the five names for the days of the week have come down to us in English through Norse or Teutonic mythology. The fifth bears a Roman name.

Tuesday - Tiws’ Day, Tyr - God of War. One of the sons of Woden. (Corresponds to the Roman god Mars.)
Wednesday - Woden’s Day - The chief Teutonic deity. (Corresponds to the Roman god Mercury.)
Thursday - Thor’s Day - Hammer wielding god of thunder and lightning. (Corresponds to the Roman god Jupiter.)
Friday - Frige’s Day, Freya - Wife of Woden, and goddess of beauty and love (Corresponds to the Roman goddess Venus.)
Saturday - Saturn’s Day - The Roman God Saturn.

For obvious reasons, Yahweh eschewed the use of such names, referring to each day of the week solely by its numeric value. This is true even of the Sabbath, for the word Sabbath (shabbat) in Hebrew means “seventh.”

Yahweh’s appointed calendar for His people has always been a Lunar calendar. It seems significant that Yahweh would force men to look up toward the heavens to determine what time it is. Yahweh desires mankind to remember that the creation runs according to a divine calendar of events. Yahweh has appointed times and seasons for mankind. Every event upon this earth is running according to a heavenly timetable, a divine plan of the ages. It is important for Christians to recognize this truth. Nothing can hinder God’s calendar, or speed it up. There is a time appointed for all things under the Sun.

Isaiah 46:9-10
“Remember the former things long past, for I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is no one like Me, declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things which have not been done, saying, 'My purpose will be established, and I will accomplish all My good pleasure.'”

Isaiah 48:3
“I declared the former things long ago and they went forth from My mouth, and I proclaimed them. Suddenly I acted, and they came to pass.”

Before Adam was formed, even before the stars were set in their courses, Yahweh established by His own counsel a divine plan of the ages. He saw the end from the beginning and appointed times for every event, culminating in the reconciliation of the entire creation back to Himself through His Son Yahshua.

Ephesians 3:8-11
Unto me—the less than least of all saints, was given this favour, unto the nations, to announce the glad-message of the untraceable riches of the Christ, and to bring to light—what is the administration of the sacred secret which had been hidden away from the AGES in God, who did all things create: In order that now, unto the principalities and the authorities in the heavenlies, might be made known, through means of the assembly, the manifold wisdom of God,— According to a plan of the ages which He made in the anointed Jesus our Lord.
(Rotherham's Emphasized Bible)

There is a profound precision to the calendar of God. The exactness of events that occur on Yahweh’s timetable is observed everywhere throughout the Scriptures. The Israelites wandered for forty years in the wilderness, and Yahshua was tested for forty days in the wilderness at the beginning of His ministry. The Israelites came up from Egypt at the appointed time, on the night of the first Passover. This occurred 430 years to the day from the time they first entered Egypt.

Exodus 12:40-41
Now the time that the sons of Israel lived in Egypt was four hundred and thirty years. And it came about at the end of four hundred and thirty years, to the very day, that all the hosts of Yahweh went out from the land of Egypt.

The first three kings of Israel, and the only three to rule over the entire twelve tribes, each in turn ruled for forty years and then died.

Acts 13:21
And then they asked for a king, and God gave them Saul the son of Kish, a man of the tribe of Benjamin, for forty years.

I Kings 2:11
And the days that David reigned over Israel were forty years...

II Chronicles 9:30
And Solomon reigned forty years in Jerusalem over all Israel.

Similarly, we see that Joseph, David and Yahshua were all 30 years of age when they began their ministry.

Genesis 41:46
Now Joseph was thirty years old when he stood before Pharaoh, king of Egypt.

II Samuel 5:4
David was thirty years old when he became king...

Luke 3:23
And when He began His ministry, Yahshua Himself was about thirty years of age...

The design of God’s plan bears a greater precision than a Swiss made watch. The stars serve as the jewels in Yahweh’s heavenly chronometer, marking the precise moment of every event established by divine fiat. It was Yahweh who determined that there should be 14 generations to divide each of His great works among His chosen people.

Matthew 1:17
Therefore all the generations from Abraham to David are fourteen generations; and from David to the deportation to Babylon fourteen generations; and from the deportation to Babylon to the time of Christ fourteen generations.

Before Adam was formed of the dust of the earth, Yahweh had already set a star in motion that would appear at a precise moment to announce the birth of the Seed of the woman who would redeem mankind from their sins.

Galatians 4:4
But when the fulness of the time came, God sent forth His Son...

Truly the stars and heavenly bodies are given for much more than to mark seasons as most men understand seasons. They were established to declare the “appointed times” of Yahweh. Only One with all power, Who has a will that cannot be resisted, could establish the course of the stars of the heavens to mark events that would not occur until thousands of years later. This knowledge should give great confidence to the faithful servants of God. No matter how much Satan boasts and wicked men prosper, Yahweh has set a limit to their activity. The day has been established when Yahshua will return to rule upon the earth. The minute has been established when every knee will bow, and every tongue confess that Yahshua the Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father.

Despite the great pride and swelling words of Satan, he recognizes that he is operating on borrowed time. The book of Revelation announces the following.

Revelation 12:12
"For this reason, rejoice, O heavens and you who dwell in them. Woe to the earth and the sea, because the devil has come down to you, having great wrath, knowing that he has only a short time."

Before Satan ever rebelled, Yahweh had established a limit to the time of his insurrection. The day of Satan’s judgment was determined from the beginning of Yahweh’s plan of the ages. It will not delay. Christ announced during His time on earth that the very hour and day of His return are known to the Father, yet disclosed to no one. That hour hastens forward, and will not delay.

Hebrews 10:37
For yet in a very little while, He who is coming will come, and will not delay.

The remarkable characteristic of Yahweh’s creation that sets it apart from the works of men and angels, is its irresistible character. There is an appointed time for everything. The clock of God, just like the starry heavens above, never loses a second, nor does it run fast. It is always right on time.

We have observed that the calendar Yahweh delivered to His people to mark the time of events established by His will follows the template of a lunar calendar. Each month begins with a new moon and goes through one complete lunar cycle. God has pegged His moedim, His appointed times, to precise dates on this calendar.

Exodus 12:2
“This month shall be the beginning of months for you; it is to be the first month of the year to you.”

Numbers 9:2-3
Now, let the sons of Israel observe the Passover at its appointed time (moed). On the fourteenth day of this month, at twilight, you shall observe it at its appointed time (moed); you shall observe it according to all its statutes and according to all its ordinances.

There is a great preciseness to the times established by God. Note that for the Passover Yahweh identified the month, the day, and even the hour of day (at twilight) in which the Passover is to be observed. The hour and day and year in which the Son of God was offered up as the Passover Lamb to secure the life of mankind was similarly set to occur at the precise time determined by Yahweh from the very creation of the earth.

Revelation 13:7
And they shall worship him, all who dwell upon the earth, [everyone] whose name does not stand written in the scroll of the life [the scroll] belonging to the Lamb who has been slain [in the mind and purpose of God] since the time when the foundations of the universe were laid...
[The New Testament: An Expanded Translation by Kenneth S. Wuest]

Because Yahweh established a plan of the ages, and His good will shall prosper with no one to turn it back, He is able to show forth by signs and parables the length of time between the formation of the first Adam and the appearing of the Last Adam who will come to establish His kingdom upon the earth. The time between these two events is revealed in the seven days of creation. A key to understanding Yahweh’s prophetic timetable is declared in the following Scripture verses.

Psalms 90:4
For a thousand years in Your sight are like yesterday when it passes by...

II Peter 3:8
But do not let this one fact escape your notice, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.

It should be obvious to any reasoning child of God that Yahweh did not need six days to create the earth as it is described in the opening chapter of Genesis. Yahweh did not need as much as six minutes. He could have created all things as they exist today in no time at all. He is omnipotent. There is no limit to His power and wisdom. He chose six days because it conformed to a specific pattern established in His own mind that He devised to show forth His mighty works among the creation.

Exodus 20:11
For in six days Yahweh made the heavens and the earth, the sea and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day...

The Scriptures declare that when Christ returns He will set up His kingdom upon the earth. In that day the earth will know rest.

Isaiah 65:25
"The wolf and the lamb shall graze together, and the lion shall eat straw like the ox; and dust shall be the serpent's food. They shall do no evil or harm in all My holy mountain," says Yahweh.

The rule of Christ is described as “the millennial kingdom,” for it shall last for a thousand years.

Revelation 20:6
Blessed and holy is the one who has a part in the first resurrection; over these the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with Him for a thousand years.

Peter has told us that one day with God is as a thousand years. The seventh day is holy in the sight of God. It is a day of rest. This seventh day corresponds to the millennial rule of Yahshua. It comes after six days of humanity’s existence on the earth. Six thousand years from the creation of Adam the Lord must return and establish His rule upon the earth. That hour is near at hand, for Yahshua appeared the first time, born of a virgin, 4,000 years after Adam was created. It has now been 2,000
years since Yahshua ascended to the Father. We stand at the end of 6,000 years of human history. The 6th day of mankind is coming to a close, and the 7th day is about to begin.

It is an important matter in the sight of God for His people to recognize the times in which they live. Yahshua chided the Jews for failing to recognize the time of their visitation by the Son of God.

Matthew 16:2-4
He answered and said to them, “When it is evening, you say, ‘It will be fair weather, for the sky is red.’ And in the morning, ‘There will be a storm today, for the sky is red and threatening.’ Do you know how to discern the appearance of the sky, but cannot discern the signs of the times?”

Luke 19:41-44
And when He approached, He saw the city and wept over it, saying, “If you had known in this day, even you, the things which make for peace! But now they have been hidden from your eyes. For the days shall come upon you when your enemies will throw up a bank before you, and surround you, and hem you in on every side, and will level you to the ground and your children within you, and they will not leave in you one stone upon another, because you did not recognize the time of your visitation.”

Brothers and sisters, if we would live in readiness as wise men and women, knowing that the return of the Lord is near at hand, we must look to that heavenly calendar that Yahweh set before us to give us knowledge of His appointed times. Providing a detailed discussion on the heavenly signs being observed at this hour is beyond the scope of this book. The intent of this chapter is to declare that the heavenly luminaries were established by Yahweh for this purpose. Wise men will continue to look to the heavens to discern the days in which they live and the acts of God that must be accomplished during their lives.

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1 comment:

John Cole said...

The Star of Bethlehem