|God's Sacred Calendar|
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The signal for the start of the sacred day is the setting sun in the west. The Biblical Calendar has very definite signals, which are readily determined and easily observed. The rotation of the earth is the cause of this signal. Each of God's signals is based on astronomical events, which become larger and further from earth as the size of the event being signaled is longer.
The local sacred day begins with evening at sunset. The evening begins the dark portion of the day with the setting of the sun. The morning begins the daylight portion of the day with the rising sun.
5 And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day.
All calendar determinations depend on understanding the difference between the local day and the "global day", or the day from a global perspective. At the sunrise in Jerusalem, the day begins for the globe about twelve hours in advance of arriving in Jerusalem.
Those places on earth up to twelve hours ahead of Jerusalem begin the day in advance of its coming to Jerusalem. Those places on earth up to twelve hours after Jerusalem begin the day after its coming to Jerusalem. This places Jerusalem in the center of the determination for the day.
The start of the new global day occurs in the middle of the great ocean where it is of little consequence to almost anyone except those who travel great distances across the ocean. This is approximately the same location as the IDL. I suspect this great ocean existed at creation for where else would the great creatures of the sea reside.
If you live without any contact with civilization and the calculated time of sunset is not available, you can use observation to approximate the beginning of the day.
Weather, altitude, and visibility considerations can occasionally create discrepancies. Beginning or ending the observance of a holy day a few minutes early or late is easily avoided by starting a little earlier and ending a little later.
Modern society depends on precision and advance determination of the elements of the Calendar. It is a simple matter to define scientific methods for precisely determining the elements of the Calendar from formulas based on astronomical observation. The times provided by these formulas must always be accurate, current, and verified by observation. Thankfully, the scientific mind set is obsessed with these exact requirements.
The Bible is unquestionably clear. When the sun is up it is the daytime. When it is down it is the nighttime. The cycle of the day begins with the night. The transition to a new day is called sunset. Our scientifically based modern world uses precision to calculate the transition of sunset.
Clearly, the day cannot begin as long as the sun is in the sky. It is a simple matter to determine scientifically when the sun has gone below the horizon whether it is visible or not. It is also easy to determine in advance when the sun will set. This can be accurately determined for any location on the globe.
Critical Calendar BasisThe day is the most elemental basis of the Calendar. Every other element of the calendar depends on the correct determination of the day. It is critical to understand its determination at sunset and the significance of sunrise in Jerusalem.
The local day begins at sunset but the beginning of the day for the globe occurs at sunrise in Jerusalem. Because Jerusalem is the center reference point, the day begins for the globe on the exact opposite side of the globe. Simple astronomy indicates sunset on the other side of the globe is sunrise in Jerusalem.
This is important because the first day of the month must begin after the signal of the new moon. Modern scientific method gives us precise information, which is used for the precise determination of a worldwide application of the calendar.
In the same way, the first yearly Sabbath, which occurs at the full moon, must begin after the signal of the equinox.
In each of these cases the signal must occur before the event or the event is postponed a day in the case of a month or a month in case of the year.
Confusing CircumstancesThere are confusing circumstances, which can occur because of altitude and latitude. The confusion with differences in altitude is small compared to the severe problems, which occur with differences in latitude. The reason is primarily because altitude does not usually change as much as latitude. These confusing circumstances are of no particular importance except with the beginning and end of a Sabbath day.
When a person is in a valley beside a high mountain then they lose sight of the sun a few minutes before the sun disappears from the height of the mountain near them. This difference of a few minutes does not cause any particular problems.
When traveling in an airplane at much higher altitudes then the difference becomes even greater with greater confusion. This confusion increases because you are moving at high speed and your location of reference for sunset is constantly changing. This is especially confusing when travelling either east, away from the setting sun or west, toward the setting sun.
This confusion becomes a major problem when you are traveling near the International Date Line. Imagine the confusion if you were ever to be orbiting the planet! It might be a wise idea to reduce confusion by avoiding travel, especially in an airplane or rocket, near the Sabbath unless you carefully think through the results.
People living at different latitudes here on earth until the Second Coming of the Savior also face confusing changes in the time of the sunset as the seasons pass. The change at the equator is only from 17:47 - 18:18. At the tropic of Cancer (23 degrees North) it varies from 17:14 - 1850. In the middle of the temperate zone (45 degrees North) it varies from 16:18 - 19:51 (20:51 with Daylight Saving Time). Near the Arctic Circle (66 degrees North) sunset is as early as noon and it never sets in the summer. The change becomes alarming and very confusing when you pass the Arctic Circle where the sun does not rise in the winter and does not set in the summer.
When confronted with confusing circumstances there are two important principles to consider. The first principle I suggest is a consistent continuity of practice. The ideal, specified by God, is six days of labor followed by a seventh day of rest. When traveling or other confusing circumstances cause difficulties, maintain the cycle as much as possible. When shifts must occur, plan for them and make them on a day other than the Sabbath.
The second principle is community association. When confusing circumstances, like being near the earth's poles or the IDL, cause uncertainty about the day, practice in agreement with the nearest community with which you associate. It may even be thousands of miles away. Long distance associations would occur in remote areas such as in the Pacific Ocean or the Polar Regions.
There was a recent issue in the Pacific where a nation on the IDL changed its association from those to the east those to the west. This caused a lot of confusion for some. Following the seven-day cycle without acknowledging the change caused Saturday to become Sunday. Some confused Adventists continued the cycle and began worshipping on Sunday! It is clear to me that the change was reasonable and all should acknowledge the change and follow the community association. It is the same as "travelling" to a new time zone and crossing the IDL.
Clearly, God does not condemn those who do what they can to make a consistent practice of God's Holy Days. When confronted with confusing circumstances we need not fear for our inability to make an accurate determination. God understands our limitations and respects our honest effort to observe His expectations.
Have you ever thought about what it will be like on Sabbath in Heaven and on the New Earth? The Bible clearly indicates we will all be before God. I suspect we will be aware of the time in the New Jerusalem no matter where we are in the universe. We will be able to return in a short time no matter where we are. We will all meet every Sabbath in the New Jerusalem well before sunset and spend the entire day in worship before leaving well after sunset.
23 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.
Counterfeits and ApostasiesSatan seeks to counterfeit, corrupt, and replace everything God specifies. The idea of the day beginning at midnight when most are asleep at some indefinite time, which cannot be readily determined without a clock, is an apostasy of God's truth.
The world uses a reference point in Greenwich England for the center of the world with a date line at the opposite end of the globe over the Pacific Ocean. The International Date Line is relatively accurate compared to God's date line based on the low population of the area. I am sure God will not condemn any on the edge who might worship a day later with those to the east, instead of with those to the west.
A day on the Biblical Calendar begins at sunset. A day on the Gregorian calendar begins at midnight. This creates a discrepancy when a Gregorian day or date is used to identify a sacred day or date. By convention, the sacred day actually begins with sunset of the previous Gregorian day. As an example, the weekly Sabbath (a sacred day) is Saturday (a Gregorian day) and begins at sundown on Friday (a Gregorian day).
Hours of the Day
The division of the day into twenty-four hours is not a part of the Calendar, which appears to be specified by God. The word appears in the Old Testament only in Daniel but is a poor translation because the Hebrew does not actually specify a particular period of time.
9 Dan 4:19 Then Daniel, whose name was Belteshazzar, was astonied for one hour, and his thoughts troubled him. The king spake, and said, Belteshazzar, let not the dream, or the interpretation ...Daniel was not dumbstruck for a whole hour. A better translation would be "for a moment".
Nevertheless, the hour is mentioned in the New Testament and needs to be noted with some confusion about its use explained.
9 Jesus answered, Are there not twelve hours in the day? If any man walk in the day, he stumbleth not, because he seeth the light of this world.
This verse illustrates the Messiah recognized daylight was divided into 12 hours, ignoring seasonal variation, resulting in 24 hours including the night. Unbelievably, I have heard of a deception and apostasy from truth, which proclaims we observe Sabbath only in the daylight! The claim is based on a twisted interpretation of the preceding verse.
This excerpt from a parable illustrates the New Testament numbering of the hours begins at sunrise.
1 For the kingdom of heaven is like unto a man that is an householder, which went out early in the morning to hire labourers into his vineyard.
Therefore, the first hour of the day is about 6AM, the third hour is about 9AM, the sixth hour is noon, and the ninth hour is about 3PM. This is valuable to understand the events of the crucifixion.
25 And it was the third hour, and they crucified him.
33 And when the sixth hour was come, there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour.