The Equinox – A Man-Made Calculation?

When Yahshua the Messiah returns, where will He descend? To whom will He return? To Christians who keep Sunday? To Muslims who keep Friday? To Jehovah’s Witnesses who keep all days? To the U.S. Naval Observatory to confirm the day of the week and the equinox? Or to those who keep the Biblical Sabbath and Feasts – just as He did Himself?

Bible prophecy tells us that world conditions indicate that the return of our Savior is drawing ever nearer. He could return at one of the Feast days of the seventh month – at year’s end – because He is prophesied to return at the last trumpet sound. When Yahshua returns, only the believers are raised to an incorruptible state.

The New Testament deals with the end times and moves step by step through the chapters of Revela­tion and the sounding of seven trumpets of Yahweh. A number of verses corroborate the return of the Messiah, stating that it is at the seventh and last trumpet that our Savior returns. One such is lCorinthians 15:52: “In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trum­pet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed” (ICor. 15:52).

The Apostle Paul also wrote, “For Yahshua Himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of Yahweh: and the dead in Mes­siah shall rise first” (1Thes. 4: 16).

While we are assured that Yahshua will return at the last or seventh trum­pet, we are also told that He will return to Jerusalem to the mount of Olives: “And His feet shall stand in that day upon the mount of Olives, which [is] before Jerusalem on the east, and the mount of Olives shall cleave in the midst thereof toward the east and toward the west, and there shall be a very great valley; and half of the mountain shall remove to­ward the north, and half of it toward the south” (Zech. 14:4).

Atonement and the High Priest

Many believe that the Savior will return at one of Yahweh’s Festivals — perhaps the Feast of Trumpets.

There is also justification for the be­lief that the Day of Atonement may be the time of His return. Leviticus 16 gives a detailed account of the high priest’s duties on Atonement day. None of the Israelites could enter that holy place at any time, and the high priest entered the Holy of Holies only on the day of Atonement.

Our Redeemer is pictured in type as having gone to the heavens where He as our High Priest is also our advocate or mediator between His ekklesia (As­sembly) and the Heavenly Father.

The populace waited outside with baited breath for the return of the high priest, knowing that when he emerged, the sacrifice for himself and the people was then accepted by Yahweh. Had he been struck dead in the Holy of Holies, the message was clear that the Atone­mentsacrifice was rejected, and the people were still in their sins.

So it is with us. When we see the re­turning Messiah, we will know that we are among the redeemed and our sins have truly been forgiven. We can now stand in His presence: “So Messiah was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for Him shall He appear the second time without sin unto salvation” (Heb. 9:28).

True Roots Soon Lost

In preparing for the coming birth of the Savior to Bethlehem, Yahweh un­der Ezra and Nehemiah had brought the exiled Jews back from Babylon. The Temple was rebuilt and Jerusalem was again occupied by the Jews. Un­der the Romans, the Levitical priest­hood wasallowed to function.

The community of Jews in the Holy Land was the only composite witness to the world that Yahweh was indeed the Mighty One of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Yahweh sent His Son as His prophet to a people now restored in the land, but they received Him not,John 1:11-12.

Dr. Ethelbert Bullinger’s Compan­ion Bible notes that had the people back then accepted Yahshua as the Messiah, the Kingdom could have been estab­lished at that time. However, their rejec­tion of Him brought tragedy upon the whole Jewish nation. A number of Jews along with some Gentiles did accept the Messiah, which was the beginning of the early ekklesia or Assembly of believ­ers, erroneously called “the church.”

Yahshua had spent three and a half years teaching and preparing His twelve Apostles concerning the Kingdom of Heaven. They were to be His wit­nesses, proclaiming His truth after His return to the Father in heaven. These and other Jewish converts to the Messiah made up the early believers and were known by the world as “Jewish Christians.”

However, soon after the Savior’s death and resurrection the Jewish con­verts died off and were replaced by Gentiles. The ekklesia(known as the early “church”) for the most part be­came “Gentile Christianity” and lost its Israelite or Jewish roots. Paganism was adopted wholesale.

Enter Heathenism

The church soon was composed of un­converted pagans who continued in their heathen customs. Pagan doctrines began to supplant the Savior’s New Cov­enant teachings and perverted His mes­sage. Sunday replaced the Sabbath.

Pagan days such as Christmas, Hallowe’en, Lent, and Easter soon displaced the holy days of Leviticus 23. False teachings like going to heaven and the immortal soul idea were bap­tized and woven into the fabric of “Christian” worship. Pagan worship continued on pagan days, but was now syncretized with a new meaning sup­posedly adapted to the Bible.

The “gentile church” now claimed the promises made to Israel. Christian­ity no longer looked to the Jews to learn when Passover was to occur, but turned to the worship of Ashtoreth at the time of the vernal equinox, calling it “Eas­ter.”

Pagan worship revolved around the movement of celestial bodies, and the solstices and equinoxes were the stan­dards for heathen holidays. Xmas came at the time of the winter solstice. The term Easter was derived from the pagan deity Eostre which was the name of the goddess of spring. “In her honor sacri­fices were offered at the time of the ver­nal equinox,” The International Stan­dard Bible Encyclopedia, p. 6, “Easter.”

The celebration in honor of Eostre (Ashtoreth) was adopted by the church and changed to honor the resurrection of the Savior, an observance nowhere commanded in the Bible. We are never told to remember His resurrection, but to remember His death.

Zion-centered Truth

Yahshua clearly states, “Salvation is of the Jews,” (John 4:22), referring to Himself as the ultimate Savior Who would spring from Judah. Paul empha­sizes the important role the Jews had in preserving Yahweh’s Word: “What advantage then has the Jew? or what profit is there of circumcision? Much every way: chiefly, because that unto them were committed the oracles (Greek logion, utterances) of Yahweh” (Rom. 3:1-2). It is the Jews who have meticulously copied and maintained the accuracy of the Old Testament for us.

Notice that Yahshua Himself made His presence known at the Feast of Dedication in December (John 10:22- 23), a memorial of the cleansing of Ezra’s Temple after its defilement by Antiochus Epiphanes. This was not a commanded observance, but has great historical significance to Israelites.

The Old Testament speaks of the fi­nal deliverance of Yahweh’s people as taking place in Mount Zion and Jerusa­lem where the Jewish nation is pres­ently recognized: “And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of Yahweh shall be delivered: for in mount Zion and in Jerusalem shall be deliverance, as Yahweh has said, and in the remnant whom Yahweh shall call” (Joel 2:32).

During the Sabbatical year of 69-70 C.E., the Temple was destroyed and the Levitical priesthood ceased to function. The Jews were soon driven from the Holy Land following the Bar Kochba rebellion in 135 C.E. Few returned.

For almost 2,000 years Yahweh has not had a “showcase” witness on this earth as was the nation of Israel in the time of David and Solomon, of whom the world could attest to blessings of obedience from Yahweh.

Pagan customs and worldly influ­ence continue to hold sway in churches as corruption of Bible teaching pro­ceeds apace. However, sincere Bible stu­dents reject traditions and practices not found in the Bible but seek the Bible’s admonition and example to return to the pristine truth of Scripture as closely as we are able.

It was only in this century, after 2,000 years, that in 1948 Yahweh saw fit to reestablish Israel back in the Holy Land. Israel is the only nation in the world where the seventh-day weekly Sabbath is nationally acknowledged as the day of rest (but not necessarily ob­served by everyone). While His per­sonal Name, Yahweh, continues to be disguised and avoided, His feast days are tolerated and even respected by most Jews in Israel today.

Once again Yahweh has a viable, visible showcase where His laws and ways are acknowledged (but not always observed).

This tiny nation called Israel, with some 4 million people, has been preserved and spared by Yah­weh in spite of repeated attacks from the Arab coalition sworn to push the fledgling country into the sea. It has not happened, and will not happen, because Yahshua Himself will yet inter­vene at Israel’s darkest hour: “Yahweh also shall save the tents of Judah first, that the glory of the house of David and the glory of the inhabitants of Jerusalem do not magnify themselves against Judah” (Zech. 12:7).

Israel was given the Torah and a priesthood to educate them in Yahweh’s ways. Each of the priest’s ac­tivities in some way symbolized the re­demptive work of the Savior. The Sab­baths have special significance in carry­ing out Yahweh’s grand design for man­kind. Yahweh set apart special days and times for the worship of Himself. These days are prophetic, Colossians 2:17.

These special days are in harmony with the harvesting of crops in the Holy Land. Passover and Days of Unleav­ened Bread mark the beginning of the barley harvest, followed by the Feast of Weeks for the wheat harvest, and Tab­ernacles for the general harvest.

Savior to Return to Zion

When Yahshua returns, He will go to the Holy Land and stand on the Mount of Olives, Zechariah 14:4. He will then establish Jerusalem as the bright and shining beacon of light showing His truth to the whole world.

“And it shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of Yahweh’s house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it. And many people shall go and say, Come, and let us go up to the mountain of Yahweh, to the house of the Elohim of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of Yahweh from Jerusalem” (Isa. 2:2-4).

Yahshua will rule with a rod of iron from Jerusalem with the resurrected saints. All His Sabbaths will be strictly honored and kept, “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, says Yahweh” (Isa. 66:23).

All Feast days will be observed as well, Ezekiel 45:21-25; also Zechariah 14: 16-18. His Name Yahweh will be revered by all and they will gladly serve Him in the Kingdom: “For then will I turn to the people a pure language, that they may all call upon the Name of Yahweh, to serve Him with one consent” (Zeph. 3:9).

Passover and the Equinox

Because we know that the Sabbaths and Feast days will be observed in the King­dom, it is incumbent upon us as the Elect of Yahweh to learn as much as we can of these special times.

By keeping these sanctified days now, we will understand and compre­hend their deeper spiritual lessons.

Yahweh teaches us spiritual truths through physical actions. We keep the weekly Sabbath to be reminded every week, 52 times a year, that Yahweh is our Creator, the One we serve and obey. We are reminded weekly that Yahshua came to show us how we are to walk in His footsteps and live the truth He teaches.

In the year of His death, history records that the Savior kept the Pass­over at the same time as did the Sadducees. John 18:28shows that some Jews had not yet partaken of the Pass­over, but Yahshua and His disciples had done so in John 13. His disciples raised no question about their observing Pass­over before the Jews who followed Rab­binic Judaism.

Historians agree that while the Temple was standing the Jews kept Passover BEFORE the equinox. Because Yah­shua kept Passover as determined by the Sanhedrin before the equinox dur­ing Temple times, then we are on safe ground to do likewise. Nothing is said about having to observe a NEW MOON that appears after the vernal equinox before keeping Passover. Historians point out that the vernal equinox often comes during the month Abib.

McClintock and Strong’s Cyclopedia of Biblical Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature, Vol. 3, p. 13, under Easter states: “Many of the Church fathers are of opinion that, according to the origi­nal calculation of the Jews up to the time of the destruction of Jerusalem, the 14th Nisan had always been after the spring equinox, and that it was only in consequence of a miscalculation of the later Jews that the 14th of Nisan oc­casionally fell before the equinox. They therefore insisted that the 14th of Nisan, which for both parties within the church determined the time of Easter, should always be after the equinox.

“As the year of Jews is a lunar year, and the 14th of Nisan always a full-moon day, the Christians who adopted the above astronomical view, whenever the 14th of Nisan fell before the equi­nox, would celebrate the death of [Mes­siah] one month later than the Jewish Passover. As the Christians … had to make their own calculations for the time of Easter … These calculations fre­quently differed, partly from reasons al­ready set forth, and partly because the date of the equinox was fixed by some at the 18th of March, by others at the 19th,by others at the 21st of March.”

Man Sets His Own Rules

Notice that the Christian “Church fathers” established their own rules by relying upon the vernal equinox as did the pagans, instead of the green ears of barley as the Bible requires (Abib = “green ears,” Deut. 16:1).

Another authority writes, “That the vernal equinox occurred in Nisan [Abib] is attested by Josephus (Ant. 1. x. 5) and also in cuneiform literature (Muss-Arnolt p. 77) Nisan corre­sponded to the first zodiacal sign (Ar­ies) in which the vernal equinox fell. The sacred year was determined by the annual festivals and the first of these fes­tivals was henceforth fixed by the Pass­over moon.” “Equinox and the Calen­dar,” Dictionary of the Bible, James Hastings, p. 765.

Notice that Hastings says, “The ver­nal equinox occurred in Nisan Abib.” That is to say, sometime during the month of Abib, after the new moon of Abib, the vernal equinox took place. Thus, the equinox came AFTER the new moon of Abib! This counters those who erroneously cling to the idea that the new moon must occur AFTER the equi­nox.

Nothing is mentioned here about let­ting the equinox determine the month of Nisan. The vernal equinox fell within the month of Nisan [Abib] -which means the new moon of Nisan came BEFORE the equinox! That is, the new moon came establishing the month of Nisan (Abib), then came the equinox, then the Passover. Therefore, those who insist upon keeping the Feasts a month later are out of harmony with Yahweh’s calendar.

Fausset’s Bible Encyclopedia, under “Year [Hebrew year] reads, “They be­gan it with the new moon nearest to the equinox, yet late enough to allow of the firstfruits of barley harvest being offered about the middle of the first month. So Josephus (Ant. iii. 10,5) states that the Passover was celebrated when the sun was in Aries” (p. 727).

Many authorities and Bible dictio­naries corroborate the fact that the Pass­over was kept AFTER the equinox, but that the new moon of Abib, which be­gan the new year, was that which was nearest the vernal equinox. Some even declare that the equinox came in the month Abib-Nisan, which is AFTER the new moon. Therefore, history confirms the fact that the idea is from paganism that the new moon of Abib must come AFTER the vernal equinox. Often it precedes the equinox.           .

Savior Likely to Come at Feast

Because the return of Yahshua will have wide repercussions, many serious Bible students anticipate that the Messiah may well return on one of Yahweh’s prophetic annual Feast days. Trumpets may be a likely time, for this festival has not yet been fulfilled and we read that the Savior will return at the sound of a trumpet: “For Yahshua Himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of Elohim, and the dead in Mes­siah shall rise first” (1Thess. 4: 16).

We also read that the Savior will re­turn to the land of Israel: “Then shall Yahweh go forth, and fight against those nations, as when he fought in the day of battle. And his feet shall stand in that day upon the mount of Olives, which [is] before Jerusalem on the east, and the mount of Olives shall cleave in the midst thereof toward the east and toward the west, [and there shall be] a very great valley; and half of the mountain shall remove toward the north, and half of ittoward the south” (Zech. 14:3-4).

At Last, a Return to Truth

Almost all great Bible events have taken place upon special days that Yahweh has set aside for His worship. Still not fulfilled are the four annual Sabbaths of the seventh month.

The Hebrew tekufah (Strong’s No. 8622) is assumed by a few to be the spring equinox. It appears four times in the Bible with the following literal meanings: Exodus 34:22; at the year’s end (marg.: revolution of the year) 1Samuel 1:20; when the time was come about(marg.: in revolution of days) 2Chronicles 24:23; at the end of the year (“in the revolution of the year” – margin) and Psalm 19:6[concerning the sun] “His going forth [is] from the end of the heaven, and his circuit unto the ends of it and there is nothing hid from the heat thereof.”

Tekufah means at the end of a complete circuit and not the vernal equinox at the beginning of a year.

Before the Savior comes there will be a movement of New Testament be­lievers who will diligently seek the an­cient paths and return to keeping Yahweh’s Torah in preparation for Yahshua’s return. The union of Judah and Ephraim will surely come as the latter rain when Yahweh’s Spirit is poured out on His people.

The Savior will return to the mount of Olives, which is in the land of Israel. It will most assuredly be on a Feast day (perhaps Trumpets?). Would not He honor His people by returning when they are obe­diently keeping the feasts of the seventh month?

Because the Jews were given the oracles of Yahweh, their observance of His holy days would certainly be in the right season, in the correct month, and not a month later as determined by an unbiblical “new moon after the vernal equinox.”

This practice would delay the Feast Days one whole month. Furthermore, observing the signs of the heavens such as the equinoxes and solstices was the practice of pagans who gave us Easter and Xmas. We are better off to be in harmony with the Jews than attempt to observe another month through worldly customs outside the Bible.

Remember the words of Yahshua: “You worship you know not what: we know what we worship: for salva­tion is of the Jews,”John 4:22. Keep the days Yahweh has com­manded, in the time that is appointed, not according to the notions of man.

by Donald Mansager

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Posted in Biblical Feast Days, Biblical Law and Torah Studies.

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michael
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michael

How is the vernal equinox determined?

Ruth
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Ruth

I’m so thankful for this article. It truly confirms what conclusion I’ve come to regarding this issue. So grateful I found your website.

Bill
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I had e-mailed this website about this and received no reply so I’m pleased to have found this article. Thank you.