Saturday, February 28, 2015

Setting straight a "Sabbath" myth....

Social media teems with posters/memes suggesting that the Seventh Day Sabbath is the day “we are supposed to WORSHIP God.”  But this is not exactly true.  The Seventh Day Sabbath is the day we are supposed to REST from our weekly work.  We can and are supposed to “worship” Him ALL the time, not just on the Sabbath.  YHWH instituted the Seventh Day as a day to REST.  Take a look at these two scriptures:

Exodus 20:8 "Remember the day, Shabbat, to set it apart for God. 9 You have six days to labor and do all your work, 10 but the seventh day is a Shabbat for ADONAI your God. On it, you are not to do any kind of work -not you, your son or your daughter, not your male or female slave, not your livestock, and not the foreigner staying with you inside the gates to your property. 11 For in six days, ADONAI made heaven and earth, the sea and everything in them; but on the seventh day he rested. This is why ADONAI blessed the day, Shabbat, and separated it for himself.

Jeremiah 17: 21 Here is what ADONAI says: "If you value your lives, don't carry anything on Shabbat or bring it in through the gates of Yerushalayim; 22 don't carry anything out of your houses on Shabbat; and don't do any work. Instead, make Shabbat a holy day. I ordered your ancestors to do this, 23 but they neither listened nor paid attention; rather, they stiffened their necks, so that they wouldn't have to hear or receive instruction. 24 However, if you will pay careful heed to me," says ADONAI "and carry nothing through the gates of this city on Shabbat, but instead make Shabbat a day which is holy and not for doing work;

So, if you are a housewife, stop cleaning the house and spending hours cooking and cleaning. Take care of your children and tend to their needs, but do all the hard labor BEFORE Shabbat.  Do all you can to make Shabbat "different" from any other day.

If you are doctor, lawyer, construction worker, garbage truck driver, or whatever work you do to support yourself and your family, do NOT do this work on Shabbat.  Yes, an emergency may arise, and it's perfectly fine to do whatever needs to be done; but in general, stop working.  Medical personnel - including ambulance drivers, etc. DO often work on Saturday because there is nothing wrong with healing or saving lives or "doing good" on ANY day of the week, as Y'shua plainly demonstrated (see Luke 13:14, Mark 3:1-6 and John 5:1-18). But if you are, for instance, a construction worker, you are to REST from your work days ... unless, of course, some dire emergency arises.  It's all a matter of common sense.

The Shabbat is a day to set aside to just REST and to keep holy for YHWH/Y'shua!  It's a day to "rest in HIM" so that your mind and body can have a chance to be renewed and restored.  Humans weren't made to work themselves to death. We NEED rest! 

Isaiah 58:13 "If you hold back your foot on Shabbat from pursuing your own interests on my holy day; if you call Shabbat a delight, ADONAI's holy day, worth honoring; then honor it by not doing your usual things or pursuing your interests or speaking about them. 14 If you do, you will find delight in ADONAI - I will make you ride on the heights of the land and feed you with the heritage of your ancestor Ya'akov, for the mouth of ADONAI has spoken." For more, please see our article, True Sabbath Day.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Rabbi Tovia Singer insists "Jesus never existed"

Folks, one of the ways we can know we are IN the end times is by the overwhelming number of Bible teachers perverting the Word of God and doing their level best to win people over to their respective viewpoints!  On one side we have Christian pastors insisting “the law” is a curse and that “the church” replaced Israel and is now “His Chosen” etc.  On the other side, we have “the rabbis” debunking YHWH’s Divine Messiah, Y’shua.  And lately, the rabbis and their followers have been working overtime to get you to see that "Jesus is a myth" and the "New Testament" is a complete farce....
Well, "Jesus" may well be a myth, because Christians insist He came to abolish the "law" (actually, Torah, YHWH's Divine Instructions in Righteousness without which we would have NO blueprint for moral, holy living).  But the Torah observant Y'shua was no myth, for He is foreshadowed throughout the Tanach!

Acts 20:29. For I know, that after I am gone, fierce wolves will come in among you, and will have no mercy on the flock.  30. And also, from among yourselves, there will rise up men speaking perverse things, that they may turn away the disciples to go after them.  31. Therefore be vigilant;

Among those who are guilty of "having no mercy on the flock" is Rabbi Tovia Singer of Outreach Judaism who, as evidenced in one of his latest videos, is trying to convince people that
Jesus didn't exist at all!  Why didn't He exist? Well, because - according to Singer - there is no documented evidence of Jesus. 

Okay, fair enough.  But in that case we posit there is also "no documented evidence" of anyone in the Middle East in Biblical times who complained about "those Hebrews cutting down all our acacia trees and smelting all that gold and copper" (
Exodus 25).  There is also no "documented evidence" of the Ark of the Covenant, either.  There is "no documented evidence" of the jar of manna YHWH commanded the Hebrews to place inside the ark and retain forever (see Exodus 16:1-36 and Numbers 11:1-9).  Outside of Scripture, we have "no documented evidence" of much of what is espoused in the Bible! 

ALL we have is our FAITH! 
And we have our intellect and our ability to read and comprehend.  But, unless we have the Ruach haKodesh (Holy Spirit) to guide what we are seeing/reading/hearing, we WILL be led astray!
The Refiner’s Fire has for years now been “talking back” to those who make the unholy assertions designed to negate Y’shua or Torah! We created The Refiner’s Fire back in 2002 when we first discovered how active both the Torah deniers and Yeshua deniers were. For the longest time, we "had it out" with Christians who even saw fit to issue "death threats."  But recently, or focus has turned to Jewish rabbis and their followers who are busy verbally beating to death believers in Y'shua.

Our Challenging Jewish Anti-Missionaries page has debunked myriads of their unbiblical assertions.  Also, the last four of our videos on our Reality Check TV Channel (there will be a total of 5 soon! - see videos 25 through 28) were designed to “talk back” to not only “what the rabbis espouse” but also responding to what their followers are regurgitating  (those who have rejected Y’shua and the NT and are doing radio shows and writing blogs designed to tear apart and even shred believers in Y’shua).

Our question is:  If "the Jews" are so holy and knowledgeable and "right" with God,  then WHY are they still dispersed into the nations?  WHY is the Land of Israel crawling with "false gods" and "religions" and WHY did they give up their Temple Mount to the Muslims?  YHWH was angry with them for constantly straying off His Path thousands of years ago, and now they're STILL out there denying HIS Truth!  But now, instead of just denying His Truth, they are determined to take others with them....

Romans 16:17. And I plead with you, my Brothers, that you beware of them who cause divisions and stumblings apart from the doctrine which you have learned: and that you stand distant from them.  18. For they who are such do not serve our Master Y’shua the Mashiyach, but their own belly: and by bland speeches and good wishes, they deceive the hearts of the simple.  (AENT)

We are, it seems, in a war to defend our faith.

We are surely living in the “end times” as outlined in the Books of Daniel and Revelation!  People are "falling away" from YHWH's Truth to follow man's lies. 

The only advice we have is for every one on Earth to follow NO man!  GET INTO THE BIBLE TODAY and learn for yourself what it says.  ALL of it!  Don't blindly believe anything you see, read or hear.  If it doesn't line up with Scripture, it isn't from God!  But a word of warning:  Seek a true understanding of ALL scripture!  The "Messiah Deniers" will point to errors and apparent inconsistencies in the New Testament, while ignoring the many changes, additions, and subtractions over the centuries in the Hebrew scriptures!  Study is the only way to ferret out the truth with so much established against you! 

2 Timothy 3:1. But know this: That in the latter days hard times will come:  2. and men will be lovers of themselves and lovers of money, boasters, proud, revilers, unyielding towards their own people, deniers of grace, wicked, 3. unloving, addicted to irreconcilable malicious gossips, ferocious, haters of the good,  4. treacherous, rash, inflated, attached to pleasure more than to the love of Elohim,  5. having a form of respect for Elohim but wide from the power of Elohim. Them who are such, repel from you.  6. For of them are they who creep into this and that house and captivate the women who are plunged in sins and led away by divers lusts,  7. who are always learning, and can never come to the knowledge of the truth.  (AENT)

Mark 16:15. And he said to them, Go into all the world and preach my Hope to all of creation.  16. Whoever believes and is immersed will live, and whoever does not believe will be condemned.  (AENT)

Friday, February 20, 2015

The wearing of tzitzit

Good grief, if it isn't the Jews bashing us for our belief in Y'shua, then it's the Christians bashing us for our desire to obey Torah!  Check out the nonsensical stuff on the Facebook group, "Joyfully Growing in Grace" which exists to do nothing but trash and berate those of us who wish to be Torah observant!  Her latest rant is about the wearing of tzit-tzit (tassels)...Since she thinks "Jesus" came to bring a new religion, she has no clue that Numbers 15 tells us that the people of Israel are to wear tzitzit as a "reminder":  

Numbers 15: 37 ADONAI said to Moshe, 38 "Speak to the people of Isra'el, instructing them to make, through all their generations, tzitziyot on the corners of their garments, and to put with the tzitzit on each corner a blue thread. 39 It is to be a tzitzit for you to look at and thereby remember all of ADONAI's mitzvot and obey them, so that you won't go around wherever your own heart and eyes lead you to prostitute yourselves; 40 but it will help you remember and obey all my mitzvot and be holy for your God. 41 I am ADONAI your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt in order to be your God. I am ADONAI your God."

Last time I checked, the "people of Israel" includes ALL who believe in YHWH and Messiah Y'shua....But then, "cherry picking their way through Scripture" is what some people do best.

"Let the dead bury the dead"

Y'shua never cajoled or begged anyone to believe Him. He simply said, "Follow Me!" and moved on. (See Matthew 16:24; Mark 8:34; and Luke 9:23)

I saw in an anti-missionary thread recently where someone was poking fun at Y'shua's comment, "Let the dead bury the dead" (Matthew 8:22) - and they insisted He was being "anti-Torah" which "proves" He cannot be THE Messiah....

Well, the meaning is perfectly clear for those who understand the whole of the Bible. Y'shua wasn't talking about physically dead people; rather, spiritually dead. If someone is spiritually dead, NOTHING you can say to them will matter, because they don't and can't understand (1 Cor. 2:14).

In other words, "leave those people alone and move on. Don't waste your time because they don't want to hear what you have to say." Matthew 7:6 tells us: "Do not give what is holy to dogs, and do not throw your pearls before swine, or they will trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces."

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

More on: Rejecting Y'shua is blaspheming the Holy Spirit!

A comment on our blog article "Rejecting Y'shua is blaspheming the Holy Spirit!" of January 20th, resulted in a statement from "John", which required a reply which exceeded the permitted length of replies.  Therefore, the answer to John is here:

Taken from the bottom of

February 11, 2015 at 9:34 AM
"nothing in that link that said that we need the holy spirit to understand the written word. It clearly says in the ot that it is not to hard for and we should do it." 


John, I'm not at all sure you are understanding this right.  One does need the Holy Spirit to maintain the desire to stay holy and to know what scripture tells them so they can apply that knowledge in the real-world in which we live.  The written word, I hope you will agree, does NOT cover all events in our daily lives for which we must make decisions and act. We must know scripture well enough, and understand it enough to be able to apply it in ALL situations we face.  And we cannot do that without the Spirit of YHWH!    

Sure, anyone can "read" the written Word, but I guarantee not everyone can or will understand it! Though I'm guessing you do no believe in the New Testament, here is what Paul says about this: "For a man in his natural self does not receive spiritual concepts; for they are foolishness to him. Neither can he know them; for they are discerned by the Spirit." But since you probably don't want quotes from the NT, let me remind you how the OT says exactly the same thing: 

...I will pour My Spirit on your descendants, my blessing on your offspring. (Isaiah 44:3)

And Isaiah goes on to explain that not everyone has the Spirit and understands:

"All idol-makers amount to nothing; their precious productions profit no one; and their witnesses, to their own shame, neither see nor understand." (Isaiah 44:9)

"Such people know nothing, understand nothing. Their eyes are sealed shut, so that they can't see; their hearts too, so they can't understand."  (Isaiah 44:18)

And David, in his eloquent prayers to YHWH, often admits his own failures and sinful nature and pleads with YHWH to "Wash me completely from my guilt, and cleanse me from my sin. For I know my crimes, my sin confronts me all the time." (Psalm 51:2-3)  But then he goes on: "Don't thrust me away from your presence, don't take your Ruach Kodesh away from me. Restore my joy in your salvation, and let a willing spirit uphold me." (Psalm 51:11-12)

Does the prophecy of Isaiah and the teaching of David sound like "it is not too hard for [us] and we should [just] do it"?  My goodness!  David knew he'd sin again if left to his own actions and pleaded that YHWH not take his Ruach Kodesh away from him!

When you imply that all we have to to is read the written word and "do it", you are, no doubt, referring to Deuteronomy 30:11 "For this mitzvah which I am giving you today is not too hard for you, it is not beyond your reach."  But let's read on a bit: "It isn't in the sky, so that you need to ask, 'Who will go up into the sky for us, bring it to us and make us hear it, so that we can obey it?' Likewise, it isn't beyond the sea, so that you need to ask, 'Who will cross the sea for us, bring it to us and make us hear it, so that we can obey it?' On the contrary, the word is very close to you - in your mouth, even in your heart; therefore, you can do it!" (vs 12-14)

Yes, absolutely, I agree with you that YHWH is clearly telling us that his rules for us to live are not hard.  But you must see that He is not saying that "all we have to do is read them and do them"!  He is saying they (His mitzvot) are right there within our reach, and that when they are in our mouths and in our hearts, we can do them!  But even YHWH, obviously understands that there are those who cannot and will not understand because they will not open their hearts.  And it is there we find the need for the Spirit of YHWH to become a part of us so we can live our lives in the holy way He expects of us.

This idea of the Holy Spirit is IN the Tanach, and in no way deviates from the requirement that "God is One".  The Holy Spirit (Ruach haChodesh), is not a "separate entity" or "another god", if that is the problem you are having.  The Holy Spirit is a part of YHWH right there with us, among us, in us if we don't rebel!  Let's go look at Isaiah again:

"For he said, 'They are indeed my people, children who are not disloyal.' So he became their Savior. In all their troubles he was troubled; then the Angel of His Presence saved them; in his love and pity he redeemed them. He had lifted them up and carried them throughout the days of old.  However, they rebelled, they grieved his Holy Spirit; so he became their enemy and himself fought against them. But then his people remembered the days of old, the days of Moshe: 'Where is he who brought them up from the sea with the shepherds of his flock? Where is he who put his Holy Spirit right there among them, who caused his glorious arm to go at Moshe's right hand? He divided the water ahead of them, to make himself an eternal name; he led them through the deep like a sure-footed horse through the desert; like cattle going down into a valley the Spirit of ADONAI had them rest. This is how you led your people, to make yourself a glorious name.'" (Isaiah 63:8-14)

Is this so hard to understand?

Monday, February 9, 2015

Why is the Hebrew Calendar not “certain”? (Part 2 of 2)

In the first segment, (Part 1), I boldly stated that the the Hebrew Calendar IS “certain”, but making that statement does not really address the issue and is surely less than satisfactory!  The issue can be restated as: “Why are there so many variations to the Hebrew Calendar?  In the simplest terms, it is because people apply poor interpretations of scriptures, making unscriptural “rules” or “claims” to create their calendar and then insist they are “right”.  Four examples: 
Claim: The month begins with the sighting of the new crescent.
Discussion:  I find this idea is largely myth but it has been stated for so long, by so many that it is more often simply assumed as “fact.”  Few question it.  Everyone should.  Some go so far as to say the “sighted moon is the Biblical way”, yet absolutely nowhere in scripture do we find ANY such declaration to determine the month by the sighted crescent.  (The “scholar” mentioned in the first segment went on to insist that the original Hebrew word translated as “Observe” in Deuteronomy 16:1 has to mean “look” and therefore it means “sight the crescent”.)  But it’s easy to prove the sighted crescent wrong.  Assume you are in Israel, and when your “sighted moon” calendar says the date is changing from the 14th to the 15th, simply watch the eastern horizon for the moon to rise at sunset.  Your calendar says it is the middle of the month, so at sunset that night you should see a full or nearly full moon rise near sunset. And you will see the moon rise, but it will rise well after sunset, and it will be visibly, noticeably past “full”, and you should go “Uh Oh!” 

You see, if your “month” by the moon is correct, then the “middle” of the month must be a Full Moon (a “sign”!), and if you see a Full Moon (or nearly Full Moon) rise, the calendar date MUST therefore also say it is the middle of the month!  (I’m not going into the specifics of this issue but suffice it to say, most of the time the moon should become full sometime within the period when the calendar says the date is going out of the 14th to into the 15th. )  Therefore the requirement for the 1st day of the new month has to be that day which will ensure the Full Moon is at the middle of the calendar month.  That turns out to be the first sunset after the lunar conjunction. (Also not going into the specifics here.)  The first sunset after conjunction must become the 1st day whether or not you “see” a crescent!  The old, tired argument that “the moon can’t be seen in conjunction, therefore it cannot be the sign of the new month” is simply bogus.  In general, yes a "sign" would be "visible", but in the case of the moon, its very absence at conjunction IS a very clear sign!  (I’m also not going to elaborate on this.  Suffice it to say that it is not hard, by observation alone, to know the period when the moon is in conjunction, and hence, which sunset becomes the 1st of the next month. You can nail it 100% of the time by skilled observation alone.)

Claim:  The month of Nisan is determined by the stage of ripening of the barley crop in Israel.

Discussion: With all due respect to the sages, IMHO, this is a misapplication of scripture.  It centers around the idea that the word “aviv” (or “abib”) has a special meaning as a stage of ripening, and so they take Exodus 13:4  “You are leaving today, in the month of Aviv and instead of seeing this as the “monthof the year that the Spring crops begin to green which happened to be the month of the Exodus, they instead see that it must be the “the greening of the barley set the month”, and thus develop an entire calendar based on the unbiblical interpretation.  The arguments  supporting the “abib barley” are many, but the overarching problem with all of them is that nowhere in scripture do you find ANY requirement to hold hostage the month or the year to an “earth sign.”  Genesis 1:14 says: "Let there be lights in the dome of the sky to divide the day from the night; let them be for signs, seasons, days and years” – i.e., the sun and moon are the signs, and it does NOT say “…and use the abib barley to determine which month is the 1st month of the year. Truly, where are the signs found? “In the dome of the sky” – nothing about any sign on the ground.  Since the sun and moon determine the seasons, and barley does not, this is a simple matter to understand.  The month of the Exodus was in the month when the season was changing to Spring, and the commandment is to “keep it in that month”.  The commandment is decidedly NOT to go look at the barley and then “hold” the start of the new year if you don’t think it was green enough!

Claim:  The Hebrew Calendar leap year is determined by the application of the Metonic Cycle.
Discussion: The Metonic Cycle is so named because over the centuries of observation of the moon and sun it became understood that in the span of 19 solar (i.e., tropical) years there are exactly 235 lunar months (within just a few hours).  (A lunar month is properly called a “synodic” month, and is about 29.53 days long.) The cycle is named after the Greek astronomer Meton after he introduced the cycle in the 5th century BCE, though the cycle was also known to Babylon astronomers long before Meton.  The Metonic Cycle is used to determine which year in the modern Hebrew Calendar is to be a leap year.  Using the cycle, a leap month is inserted every 3rd, 6th, 8th, 11th, 14th, 17th, and 19th years.  The problem is, though the Metonic Cycle is certainly valid over the entire 19 years, within any given cycle of 19 years the proper year to include a leap month may not be the 3rd, 6th, 8th, 11th, 14th, 17th, or 19th!  You will see this problem in 2016, when the modern Hebrew Calendar, by the rigid application of the Metonic Cycle, inserts an unnecessary leap month and has 1 Nisan at sunset April 8th, 2016, causing Pesach to fall a full month late!  (The 1st of Nisan in 2016 should fall at sunset Mar 9, 2016, making Pesach fall properly at sunset March 23, 2016.)  It is simply wrong to assign the Metonic Cycle to the “real” moon!

Claim:  The Hebrew Calendar must alternate months of 29 and 30 days.

Discussion: In general, this is a true statement because alternating months of 29 and 30 days does closely match the average lunar synodic period of 29.53 days.  But in reality, and by observation alone, you can discover that this “rule” simply does not fit the “real” moon!  Even if you knew nothing about precession of the lunar orbit around the earth, you can observe that some months are “short” while some months are “long”.  Not by "whole" days of course! (Indeed the shortest synodic period is around 29.26 days and the longest around 29.84 days.  When the moon’s orbit is in the “longer” side of the average, it is possible that the calendar months may need 2 or even 3, 30-day months in a row to have the “1st” fall on the correct day each month.)  But the modern Hebrew Calendar only uses the “average moon” year-round and the calendar very often “misses” the correct day for the 1st of the new month.  The modern Hebrew calendar also fixes the number of days in 5 of the months to 30 days, and in another 5 months, they are fixed to 29 days.  But in reality, a month which is today only permitted to have 30 days, may only require 29 if going by the real moon, and a fixed 29-day month may need a 30th day if going by the real moon.  (Worse, the modern Hebrew Calendar artificially “postpones” the 1st day of the 7th month to “control” the weekday on which Yom Kippur falls, then adds or subtracts days in 2 other months to control the length of the year!) Again, with all due respect to the rabbis and sages, these "rules" are wrong!
By these examples, hopefully you can see how it is man who has made a mess of the Hebrew Calendar! The expectations of the calendar are very clear in scripture even though no scripture provides the “formula”.  The expectations are these:  The sun determines the day, the moon determines the month (and thus the appointed times), and the sun and moon together determine the year.  (Note: While some will argue that Psalm 104:19 which says: “He made the moon to mark the seasons; the sun knows its time for setting”, means that the moon determines Winter, Spring, Summer and Fall, this is simply not the case.  The English word “seasons” is not the meaning of the original word  למועדים  (l’moedim) in Hebrew, which means “appointed times”.  Read Leviticus 23, and see how it is that the “moon marks the moedim”!  Many moedim are specified by a precise day of the Hebrew month, i.e., “appointed times”!)

So I have illustrated but four examples of man-made “claims” which are demonstrably erred.  You may now be asking just what is correct?

A “correct” calendar will establish the month of Nisan at the proper New Moon (as determined from Jerusalem, of course.)  It is known that all ancient peoples understood the four seasons.  Even Genesis 8:22, attributed to the time of Noah, names the seasons: “So long as the earth exists, sowing time and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, and day and night will not cease.”  It is also clear that ALL these attributes are determined by the sun alone.  Again, simple observation of the sun proves this.  So understanding, at the time of the Exodus, they knew full-well that the sun determined the seasons, and that when the original Pesach came, it was the "time of the year for spring", that is, it was the “month of spring” -  the “month of spring” was first, then Pesach happened.  So the commandment to “keep Pesach in the month of Aviv” is clear.  Pesach is on or after the Spring Equinox, and the New Moon of Nisan is the new moon that makes that happen.  Here is the rabbinic interpretation of Deuteronomy 16:1, “Guard the month of spring, and make [then] the Passover offering.”  To do otherwise would mean “make the Passover offering, then spring begins” and that would clearly be contrary to scripture.

A “correct” calendar will begin the Hebrew month on the correct day.  The correct day is the 1st sunset after lunar conjunction.  The period of the lunar conjunction, in Biblical times would have been ascertained by watching all the signs the moon has to offer – and there are many - and not just a single, unreliable sign such as the new crescent.  If a month needed a 30th day, then you had a 30th day. The day after that would be the 1st.  Nothing has really changed since those days when they had to watch the moon-signs except today we are blessed with the ability to calculate not only the period of the conjunction, but we know the exact time of conjunction!  Thus, we can build the “correct” calendar months and years in advance.

That’s it.  Those two “guides” establish the proper Hebrew calendar (IMHO).

What should you do about all this?  Well, it’s up to you, but the most important thing is to observe the commanded moedim!  (The moed were listed at the beginning of part 1.) But since you are not charged with keeping a “correct” calendar, your only responsibility is that you follow the Hebrew calendar you trust!  I use that word “trust” carefully.  By “trust”, I mean that you should not simply “go with someone's calendar”, rather, you should carefully investigate the “rules” of the calendar and assess if you agree or not.  Blindly following a ridiculous calendar makes you guilty of laziness and ignorance.  YHWH does not want his people to be ignorant!  Scripture is full of the merit of obtaining wisdom!  The modern Hebrew calendar is pretty good in that it is typically pretty close to reality, but as I have indicated here, it is set by “rules” and those rules are actually indefensible – and will be clearly wrong in 2016.  The “sighted moon” calendar is very wrong every month, as is holding off the 1st month of the year by the ripening barley.  I did not even mention any of the problems with the silly “Lunar Sabbath” calendar as it is just too far out!      

Though the Hebrew calendar is actually pretty simple, and obviously necessary for the proper keeping of the moedim, it’s truly a shame there is no “common” ground on the right way to keep the calendar!  Some have commented to me that the modern Hebrew calendar should not be questioned and simply “accepted” by all “for the good of the community”.  But I can’t in good conscience advocate keeping a calendar that is demonstrably wrong, but I also can’t expect  anyone to adopt MY idea of what makes a proper calendar! After all, I am not a Levi, and I, too, am not charged with keeping the calendar for others, nor do I have any authority to specify the “proper” Hebrew Calendar!  I do recommend the “Wheel of Stars” calendar of Andrew Gabriel Roth, and we publish it annually on The Refiner’s Fire ( for anyone interested. 

What do I do since my calendar of choice differs from the traditional? Pretty much nothing!  I observe the moedim on the dates I believe are correct, and if my synagogue is observing the moed on different dates, I’m happy to participate in the moed with them on their date of choice!  After all, as I mentioned,  the important thing is to observe the commanded moed, not to argue over the dates! Battling and taking “sides” over calendar issues is counterproductive, yet the commandment to keep the moedim at their proper times was important enough for YHWH to have specified it in scripture, so my recommendation is to just be a good steward of the Word, and if you don’t know – learn! Proverbs 4:7! 

Why is the Hebrew Calendar not “certain”? (Part 1 of 2)

Upon initial discovery that there are “God commanded Holy observances” required of all who accept YHWH as their God, (the 7th Day Sabbath, Pesach, Feast of Unleavened Bread, Firstfruits, Shavuot, Yom Teruah, Yom Kippur, and Sukkot), most soon pose the question: “When are these observances? 

The 7th Day Sabbath is obvious, but the others depend on the calendar of the Bible – the so-called “Hebrew” or “Jewish” calendar – the term can be used interchangeably.  Our modern civil (Gregorian) calendar is perfectly fine for keeping the man-made holidays such as “Christmas” and “Easter” (neither of which meet any of the required observances listed above), but the civil calendar has no way to establish and identify the commanded feasts!  So one must turn to the Hebrew calendar.   

Anyone just getting into the Hebrew (Biblical) calendar, having never before seen it is usually somewhat bewildered and confused!  The source of that confusion is simply a lack of “familiarity”.  After all, we are, the world over, very familiar with and comfortable with the “common” calendar in use today.  The modern civil calendar with its repeating 12 months, January to December is very well understood, as are the number of days each month which simply varies between 30 and 31, except of course, for February which has 28 or 29 on a regular cycle of 4 years, with the year length fixed at 365 days or 366 if  a leap year.  There are even cute mnemonics to help one remember the number of days in each month. For example:

30 days hath September,
  April, June and November,
All the rest have 31,
  Excepting February alone
(And that has 28 days clear,
  With 29 in each leap year).

Indeed, because the civil calendar is a “daily fact of life”, most people have at least some understanding WHY February is the only month with 28 days, and why a “leap day” is periodically needed, though I will not address these topics here.

But, when trying to understand the Hebrew calendar, one is quickly accosted with the “month” determined by the moon, a “year” of either 12 or 13 months, months varying between 29 and 30 days  (never “31” or “28”), and the “1st day” of each month somehow depends on when the moon is considered “new”, and number of days in a year can be as few as 354 or as many 385!  Oy!

Let me stop here and state that the Hebrew Calendar is not that hard! The difference is simply this: Our “world” calendar today is the Gregroian calendar – and is based on the “year” solely by the sun, i.e., it is a purely “solar calendar”.  It has no relationship with the moon.  That’s why the civil year has a fixed 365 days, and in leap years, 366. (Any skilled person, simply watching the sun can determine this very same “year”.)  The 366-day leap year keeps the calendar “in-sync” with the sun by adding one day every so often (on a well-known schedule).  But the Hebrew calendar is both a solar calendar and a lunar calendar because it keeps track of the months by the cycle of the moon, and the year by the sun (and moon).  The Hebrew calendar is thus a “lunar-solar” (or lunisolar) calendar. To keep the "year" by the moon, in-sync with the sun, a whole leap month must be intercalated every 2-3 years rather than a single day.

Once you understand that the Hebrew calendar is lunisolar, it becomes easier to understand why the leap year is a whole month, why months have only 29 or 30 days, and why the start of the month is with the new moon. 

But here is the problem:   Everywhere you look in this INTERNET age, there are “different” Hebrew calendars! And it seems everyone is saying “theirs” is the right one!  Some even declare their calendar as “God’s Calendar”, or the “Creator’s Calendar”.  The INTERNET is FULL of such nonsense! Some argue the 1st day of the Hebrew month is by “sighting the new crescent moon”. Some say the new month begins with the conjunction of the moon.  Some say the 1st Biblical month of the year must be by the new moon when the barley crop is beginning to ripen.  Some say that Pesach can fall before or after the Spring Equinox, while others say Pesach must be after the Spring Equinox.  Still others come up with bizarre interpretations of scripture which require the 7th Day Sabbath to fall on certain, invariant dates of each Hebrew month (the so-called “Lunar Sabbath)!  Even the modern, “traditional”, Jewish Calendar in effect today applies extra-biblical “rules” for calculating which day is the new month, and inserts or removes days as needed to prevent Yom Kippur from falling on a Friday or a Sunday.

So it does beg the question:  “Why is the Hebrew Calendar not ‘certain’?”

Well, it’s a trick question, because the Hebrew Calendar IS certain.  It’s man who has made a mess of it!

Before I go on, let me clarify something.  Nowhere in scripture do we find ANY instructions for maintaining the proper calendar!  Nowhere!  So please don’t believe ANYONE who insists “their” calendar is the true “Biblical one”!  All scripture assumes that the mechanism for keeping the calendar is already known.  Scripture never states that the 1st day of the new month is determined by the sighting of a crescent new moon! (One “scholar” actually dares to say, and I quote: “Contained within the first phrase of Deut 16:1 is in fact a command to sight the first visible crescent of the moon.” I have to shake my head at that!)  Scripture never states how many months there are in a year.  Scripture never tells us exactly how to establish the month of Pesach.  Scripture does not even provide the names of the months! (It’s true, the names of only 4 months are mentioned in Scripture! They are Aviv, Ziv, Ethanim, and Bul – and today none of those names are commonly used!)  Scripture never says Yom Kippur can’t fall on a Friday or a Sunday.  Scripture never says the 7th Day Sabbath is tied in any way to the moon.  This list could go on and on, but I hope I’ve made my point.   ALL Biblical calendars rely on just a few key scriptures which only provide clues to establishing the calendar. It is this fact alone that we really must rely on what has been handed down through the ages by the Jewish sages on how the calendar was managed.  Unfortunately, that is also not entirely clear!

The Scripture highest on the list of “key” to the calendar is the month in which the Exodus began.  This is mentioned in Exodus 12, verse 2: “You are to begin your calendar with this month; it will be the first month of the year for you.”  The commandment “anchoring” Pesach to this month is also found in Exodus.  The night of Pesach is the late afternoon of the 14th of the Hebrew month of Aviv (now called “Nisan”), Exodus 12:6, and Pesach is to be “kept in this month”, perpetually, in remembrance of that night (Exodus 12:14, Leviticus 23:5, Deuteronomy 16:1).  All other commanded observances are tied to the 1st month, and they follow the annual Pesach observance.

So the “proper” way to establish the Hebrew Calendar is to: Establish the month of Nisan.  If you do that right, you have the whole calendar. There.  The Hebrew Calendar actually IS certain! 

In the next segment, (Part 2), I will discuss some of the claims of how the Hebrew Calendar is to be determined and provide a brief explanation of the problem with the claim, and end with a suggestion about how to deal with this calendar problem.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

I’ve been thinking an awful lot about “grace” lately....

I’ve been thinking an awful lot about “grace” lately.  It seems that at least once a day I’m bombarded by someone writing to my website to blast me for having put myself “under the law.”   SIGH!  They just don’t get it.  And no amount of explaining seems to help. 

They just don’t get it.

I “got it” practically from the moment I was “saved”
in a little hick town Baptist church in Missouri  in January 1995.  I was 44 years old when it happened … when Pastor Wil Pounds said those words that resonated and “clicked” and nearly caused me to fall, mesmerized and awestricken, from my pew.

I was stunned to discover I hadn’t had to “do” anything to “get saved.”  All I had to do was to “accept Jesus as my personal Savior.”  He paid it all and there was nothing left for me to do, because my righteousness was like” menstrual rags” (Isaiah 64:6) And so I did; I “accepted” that fact.  But right away, I felt sorry that “Jesus” died so that I could gain eternity with God.  I’m the one who sinned all my life; not Him!  It was unfair that HE died on my stupid behalf!  I should have been hung on that cross!

It took me awhile to get used to the idea that He really DID “pay it all” and that my job was to simply accept it and move on.  I “accepted” many things back then, including the fact that if my adoptive father (a raving, physically and verbally abusive pedophile who was the main reason I didn’t “accept” God for most of my life) could possibly “end up in heaven with me” IF he had simply repented and “accepted Jesus”....

I “accepted” the fact that my Jewish mother  - who was married a total of 8 times before her death at the age of 45, and who had given me away at birth and then yanked me out of my happy foster home at the age of 9 and caused me unspeakable grief over the years – I accepted that IF she had “accepted Jesus” before she died, I would see her in heaven.  Truth be told, neither of these things appealed to me and, in all honesty,  throughout my life this was one of the reasons I did NOT want to “go to heaven” –  I did NOT relish the idea of being with my abusive “parents” for eternity!

It was just PART of the “baggage” that had kept me from God....

But after I “got saved” (and I mean, SAVED … a thing that is impossible to explain!) I began to view it in a different light.  I LET GO of my human feelings – the anger, the pain, the disappointment , the “stuff.”  I was READY to let go!  I was now truly a “new creature in Christ.”  (2 Corinthians 5:17)

But I never “got over” this feeling that I wanted to DO something for God!  I KNEW I should be “doing something – but WHAT?  I literally begged Him to tell me what this drive was all about.

Well, the answer came slowly, but it finally came in progressive steps that took three years to get me to where I needed to be.  And it happened, in part, because  I obeyed the Holy Spirit’s command to sell my house and all my possessions in Missouri and move to Colorado – the place where “Daddy” started sexually abusing me … a place I NEVER wanted to see again! 

But I obeyed.  And I faced my past in ways no one could possibly imagine.   It HURT, but because I faced it, I was healed from the inside-out.   And in the meantime, I clung to God and studied everything I could get my hands on … and I kept “growing” and I “went church hopping” to find that “just right place” that could tell me what I could “do” for God. 

And nothing happened.  My church experiences were all empty, devoid of any real “meat” … they were all about “grace” and “being forgiven” and about providing fluffy sermons every Sunday that didn’t get my soul in touch with God!   I needed HIM to tell me what to do and how to live; not some pastor!  Where was GOD in all those endless sermons?  There was always “Paul wrote” and “Jesus said” and New Testament “feel good” stuff but “something” was missing! 

Now, please understand, there’s nothing wrong with “grace” and “being forgiven” – but my goodness, when you marry the love of your life, don’t you want to DO something to please him/her?   WHAT DID I HAVE TO DO TO PLEASE GOD besides just “believing in Jesus?”  Cripes!  Everywhere I went, I kept getting verbally slapped down for my desire to DO something!  “Jesus paid it all,” they kept telling me.  “You don’t need to DO anything!”

Well, long story short, I didn’t believe it.  Yes, I realized I was “saved” (as the Baptists refer to it).  But WHY couldn’t I DO something for my Savior?  What was so wrong with wanting to PLEASE Him with my life? 

After I moved to Colorado I ended up having to wait for more than a year  before I FINALLY found what I had been seeking!  Through a series of supernatural events that I didn’t understand at the time, God caused me to find my way to a Torah study where I, for the first time in my life, heard that there WAS something I could “do” for God!  The secret was in the “Old Testament”  - specifically, those first five Books called “Torah” – where God told HIS people to keep His Seventh Day Sabbath REST.  It had nothing to do with “which day is right for ‘worshiping’” (you can “worship” ANY day!); it was simply a specific day (which, on our Gregorian calendars happens to fall on Saturday) to set aside each week to REST and to be with Him and study His Word, and to just chill.  Halleluyah!  How cool was that?  I could finally DO something to show my appreciation!

But that wasn’t all!  He also had some other commands for HIS people:  Keep HIS Feasts/Appointed Times, each one with its own significance!  And yeah, as “HIS people” (after all, we are ONE in Messiah!) I was also expected to eat only “clean” foods, which meant I had to give up bacon.  (That one was hard!)   And – by the way -  I found out “the Father” had a Name that He had given to Moses, and that His Son’s REAL Name was Y’shua!  Who knew?  (See and  )

And there it was – HALLELUYAH - the things I could DO
for the God who sent His Divine Son to basically “put a face on God” for us stupid humans who always need a “sign” or something tangible; who showed HIS people how to live holy, set apart lives according to HIS divine rules; who then  martyred Himself on our behalf to make it easy for anyone to simply “accept” God and thus gain eternal life with Him.

Obeying those “forever commands” has nothing to do with “not trusting Jesus!”  I obey them because I love God and want to please Him!  He NEVER, EVER said that plain, rote “obedience” would please Him; He wanted obedience to come from our hearts and souls, because we LOVE Him!  THAT is also what Paul preached.  For instance,  paraphrased – “Don’t get circumcised because you HAVE to; do it because I said it was a SIGN between Me and My people, and you now WANT to!  You WANT to be ‘MY PEOPLE!’”  (See Genesis 17:7-14, Exodus 12:48-51, 1 Corinthians 7: 18-19 and )

Had I been an uncircumcised man, you’d better believe I would have gotten circumcised!  Simple!  I got it!  I LOVED it!  I wanted the whole world to know it!

But unfortunately, most just don’t get it.  They’re too stuck in their religious traditions and denominations and other nonsense which – to be honest – was why YHWH scattered His Chosen into the world, in the first place.  People didn’t listen back then, and they’re not listening now.  Nothing has changed.  EVERYBODY wants to do whatever they want to do. 

I love how Isaiah put it:

Isaiah 64: 1 We wish you would tear open heaven and come down, so the mountains would shake at your presence! 2 It would be like fire kindling the brush, and the fire then makes the water boil. Then your enemies would know your name, the nations would tremble before you! 3 When you did tremendous things that we were not expecting, we wished that you would come down, so that the mountains would shake at your presence! 4 No one has ever heard, no ear perceived, no eye seen, any God but you. You work for him who waits for you.

5 You favored those who were glad to do justice, those who remembered you in your ways. When you were angry, we kept sinning; but if we keep your ancient ways, we will be saved. 6 All of us are like someone unclean, all our righteous deeds like menstrual rags; we wither, all of us, like leaves; and our misdeeds blow us away like the wind. 7 No one calls on your name or bestirs himself to take hold of you, for you have hidden your face from us and caused our misdeeds to destroy us. 8 But now, ADONAI, you are our father; we are the clay, you are our potter; and we are all the work of your hands. 9 Do not be so very angry, ADONAI! Don't remember crime forever. Look, please, we are all your people.

10 Your holy cities have become a desert, Tziyon a desert, Yerushalayim a ruin. 11 Our holy, beautiful house, where our ancestors used to praise you, has been burned to the ground; all we cherished has been ruined. 12 ADONAI, after all this, will you still hold back? Will you still stay silent and punish us past endurance? (CJB)