Some very learned men say that the moon determines the times of the seventh day Sabbath, in fact, they
place the New Moon on the first day of the month, and follow this with seventh day Sabbaths on the 8th
day, the 15th day, the 22nd day, and the 29th day. Their names are Arnold Bowen and Matthew Janzen. They
have written a book about their theory entitled, "Weekly Sabbath Days Are Determined By The Moon."
The observance of the Sabbath is the mark of God's people. Those who fail to keep the Sabbath as God
intends had better be walking in Christ's footsteps to escape a judgment, because they aren't walking with
God. So, we who keep the biblical Sabbath on the seventh day must not be misled about the days of
Bowen and Janzen have given many proofs of their theory, and although you may be tempted to stop
halfway through my comments, those of you interested in theology should persevere to the end.
Example 1. The Crucifixion Week.
The authors conclude that "an unbiased reading of each of the four gospels does not yield two differing
Sabbaths in the crucifixion week, but rather one Sabbath on the 15th day of the month...Messiah was killed
on the day before the weekly Sabbath... the only sequence that fits this typology of YHWH's festivals is the
14, 15, 16 sequence during the month of Aviv (sic)." ("Weekly Sabbaths Are Determined By The Moon,"
Arnold Bowen & Matthew Janzen, Ministers of the New Covenant, Conyers, Georgia, 2007, pg. 38, 39).
There are a number of scriptures that contradict the conclusion above. First, there are three testimonies
which indicate that Christ ate the Passover on the right day: Luke 22:1,7; Mark 14:12; Matt. 26:17. According
to God's instructions, the lamb was to be killed on the 14th day in the evening, thoroughly roasted and
eaten that night. (Ex. 12:6-9). The 15th day begins at sunset, so the Passover Seder (ceremonial meal) is
eaten on the 15th, which is the first day of Passover. Judas departed to betray Christ after the Passover
Lamb was eaten. (John 13:1,2). After the departure of Judas, Christ taught his remaining disciples of the
coming Comforter, and then He prayed. (John 13 thru 17). Finally He led His disciples to a garden by the
brook Cedron, where He was seized by a band of men. They led him to Annas, father-in-law to the high
priest Caiaphas. (John 18:1-14).
Christ was questioned by the priests, and then early in the morning, He was taken to the judgment hall to
appear before Pilate. (John 18:15-40). "Then led they Jesus from Caiaphas unto the hall of judgment: and it
was early; and they themselves (the priests) went not into the judgment hall, lest they should be defiled:
but that they might eat the Passover." (John 18:8). This scripture has misled some who don't keep the
feasts; they believe that Christ ate the Passover Lamb on the wrong day. However, the Lamb referred to
can only be the daily. "Now this is that which thou shalt offer upon the altar: two lambs of the first year day
by day continually. The one lamb thou shalt offer in the morning (at the third hour from sunrise); and the
other lamb thou shalt offer at even (at the ninth hour)." (Ex. 29:38,39). The priests were supposed to eat
the offerings on this first day of Passover, and indeed on every day. (Ex. 29:32).
All these events took place on the 15th, the first day of Passover. However, the priests and scribes had
determined not to kill Christ on a holy day. "Then assembled together the chief priests, and the scribes,
and the elders of the people, unto the palace of the high priest, who was called Caiaphas, and consulted
that they might take Jesus by subtlety, and kill Him. But they said, Not on a feast day, lest there be an
uproar among the people." (Matt. 26:5-7). Instead, Christ was crucified on the preparation day for a high
day. "When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said, It is finished: and he bowed his head, and
gave up the ghost. The Jews therefore, because it was the preparation, that the bodies should not remain
upon the cross on the Sabbath day, (for that Sabbath day was a high day,) besought Pilate that their legs
might be broken, and that they might be taken away." (John 19:30,31).
The Sabbath was a high day then as now, because it was the seventh day Sabbath in a feast week. By
divine providence, God arranged the days in the crucifixion week so that Christ's prophecy of the sign of
Jonah might be fulfilled. "An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign
be given to it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas: For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the
whale's belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth." (Matt,
12:39,40). Christ was seized before dawn on the 15th (Thursday) and was thereafter in hell until he died on
the cross on the 16th (Friday). Christ rested in the grave on the 17th (Saturday). "This man went unto
Pilate, and begged the body of Jesus. And that day was the preparation, and the Sabbath drew on. And the
women also, which came with him from Galilee, followed after, and beheld the sepulcher, and how His body
was laid. And they returned, and prepared spices and ointments; and rested the Sabbath day according to
the commandment." (Luke 23: 52,54-56). This is not a feast day Sabbath under statute (Lev 23:14), but the
fourth commandment seventh day Sabbath. Christ rose from the grave before dawn on the 18th (Sunday).
(Matt. 28:1-6). So Christ was either suffering the torments of hell or in the grave for three days and three
nights. He describes this as being "in the heart of the earth." (Matt. 12:40).
Therefore, contrary to the Lunar Sabbatarians conclusions, there were three Sabbaths in the crucifixion
week (first and last day of Passover and a seventh day Sabbath) and Christ died not on the 14th, the
preparation day for the first day of Passover, but on the 16th, the preparation day for the seventh day
Sabbath, which fell on the 17th. Here we have an example that actually disproves their rule.
To give credit where it is due, I am much indebted to V. T. Houteff for his tract, "The Sign Of Jonah," which
guided my understanding of these scriptures.
Example 2. The Healing of the Blind Man.
The authors conclude that because the last day of the feast of tabernacles, the 21st day is identified as
"the last day, that great day of the feast" (John 7:37) and the next day "was the Sabbath day when Jesus
made the clay, and opened his (the blind man's) eyes," this is an example of the seventh day Sabbath
falling on the 22nd day of the month where lunar calculation would place it.
This example is inconclusive because there are two last days of the feast of Tabernacles. "The fifteenth
day of this seventh month shall be the feast of Tabernacles for seven days unto the Lord." (Lev. 23:34).
These seven days would be the 15th, 16th, 17th, 18th, 19th, 20th, and the 21st. That the seventh day is
considered the last day of the feast of tabernacles is clear from Deut. 16:13 and Nehemiah 8:18. The day
after the feast of tabernacles is also a Sabbath. "Seven days ye shall offer an offering made by fire unto
the Lord: on the eighth day shall be a holy convocation unto you: and ye shall offer an offering made by fire
unto the Lord: it is a solemn assembly; and ye shall do no servile work therein." (Lev. 23:36). The 22nd day
therefore could be called a Sabbath because it is a day of rest and solemn assembly, it does not have to
be a seventh day Sabbath.
Example 3. Paul's Journey.
Paul left Philippi after the days of unleavened bread, the authors presume on the 22nd of the first month.
He arrived in Troas 5 days later on the 26th, where they stayed seven days. Paul identifies the seventh day
after the arrival in Troas as the day after the Sabbath. (Acts 20:5-7). The authors say that the Sabbath Paul
referred to was a New Moon Sabbath, and so proves that Paul kept the Lunar Sabbaths on the 8th, 15th,
22nd and 29th of each month.
There are several problems with this scenario. First Paul was devout; he would not have departed on the
22nd if it was a Sabbath. Second, the authors have to assume that the New Moon was celebrated both on
the 30th day of the old month and the 1st day of the new month, if Paul was not speaking of a seventh day
Sabbath. How much easier it is to assume that Paul did not leave immediately after the feast of unleavened
bread. Incidentally, contemporary feast keepers keep the 22nd of the first month as a day for religious
ceremonies. Finally, the fact that Paul kept the New Moon Sabbath does not even imply that he kept the
seventh day Sabbath on the 8th, 15th, 22nd, and 29th of the month.
Example 4. John 5:9.
The authors claim that "The Sabbath in John 5:9, when comparing verses 1, 4, and 9 is the same day as the
feast in verse 1. The second day of the new moon is the first workday proving the new moon was not
counted and the Sabbath was always on the 8th, 15th, 22nd, and 29th of the moon. The work days do
indeed begin after the New Moon worship day." (Ibid., pg. 41). I quoted the whole argument so the reader
can judge whether it is logical.
Now I'll quote the scripture. "After this there was a feast of the Jews; and Jesus went up to Jerusalem.
Jesus saith unto him, Rise, take up thy bed and walk. And immediately the man was made whole, and took
up his bed and walked: and on the same day was the Sabbath." (John 5:1,8,9). In fact, the Sabbath on which
Christ healed the infirm man could have been either the first or last day of the feast or an intervening
seventh day Sabbath. You will note that I quoted verse 8 (the second sentence in the quote) instead of
verse 4. I felt verse 4 only added confusion. Here it is. "For an angel went down at a certain season into
the pool, and troubled the water: whosoever then first after the troubling of the water stepped in was
made whole of whatsoever disease he had." (John 5:4).
Example 5. Numbers 29: 12-39.
The authors assert that God set a pattern when he made Sabbaths on the first and the eighth day of the
Feast of Tabernacles, since these would fall on the 15th and the 22nd day of the lunar month. I can only ask
why God chose to use a different pattern for the Passover, where he made Sabbaths on the first and
seventh days, which correspond to the 15th and 21st day of the lunar month. I believe that God set the
pattern for the seventh day Sabbath when he created the universe. "For in six days the Lord made heaven
and earth, the sea, and all that in them is and rested the seventh day: wherefore the Lord blessed the
Sabbath day, and hallowed it." (Ex. 20:11).
Example 6. Esther 9.
The authors state that after the Jews destroyed those who had plotted to destroy them on the 13th and
14th of the 12th month Adar, they rested on the 15th day, showing the 15th day to be a Sabbath. In fact
some of the victorious Jews rested and feasted on the 14th and others on the 15th and so the Jews to this
day keep both the 14th and the 15th days of Adar as the feast of Purim. "Jews that were in the king's
provinces gathered themselves together... and slew of their enemies seventy and five thousand... on the
thirteenth day of Adar, and on the fourteenth day of the same (month) they rested and made it a day of
feasting and gladness. But the Jews that were in Shushan assembled together on the thirteenth day
thereof, and on the fourteenth day thereof (to slay their enemies); and on the fifteenth day of the same
they rested, and made it a day of feasting and gladness." (Est. 9:16-18). Our church keeps Purim too, and
not because the 15th is a seventh day Sabbath. Purim foreshadows the end time death decree on God's
people and their miraculous deliverance.
Example 7. The Exodus from Egypt.
The authors claim that at the time of the Exodus, both the first and second months had Sabbaths on the
15th day. As they state, this could only result from the lunar calculation of the Sabbath. First, I will concede
that if God rained manna for the first time on the very first day after Israel arrived in the wilderness of Sin
(the 16th day of the second month), then the 22nd of the second month was the first Sabbath. God
provided manna for five days (16th, 17th, 18th, 19th, 20th), a double portion of manna on the sixth day
(21st) and none on the seventh day Sabbath (22nd). However, the scripture does not confirm the exact
first day of manna. Further, the scripture that is cited to prove that the departure day from Egypt (the 15th
of the first month) was a seventh day Sabbath as well as the first day of Passover, does not do so. "And
remember that thou wast a servant in the land of Egypt, and the Lord thy God brought thee out thence
through a mighty hand and a stretched out arm: therefore the Lord thy God commanded thee to keep the
Sabbath day." (Deut. 5:15).
Example 8. Exodus 19:1,2.
The authors argue that since the first two months after the Exodus had Sabbaths on the 15th day, the third
month also had a Sabbath on the 15th day. Once again the authors say that Deut. 5:15 (quoted above)
proves a 15th day Sabbath and once again I disagree. The text on which they base this example says
nothing about a Sabbath. "In the third month, when the children of Israel were gone forth out of the land of
Israel, the same day came they into the wilderness of Sinai. For they were departed from Rephidim, and
were come to the desert of Sinai, and had pitched in the wilderness; and there Israel camped before the
mount." (Ex. 19:1,2).
Example 9. Coming Into the Land.
The authors assert that God stopped supplying manna to Israel on a seventh day Sabbath, the 15th day.
The scripture says "And the children of Israel encamped in Gilgal, and kept the Passover on the fourteenth
day of the month at even in the plains of Jericho. And they did eat of the old corn of the land on the
morrow after the Passover, unleavened cakes and parched corn in the selfsame day. And the manna
ceased on the morrow after they had eaten the old corn of the land, neither had the children of Israel
manna anymore, but they ate of the fruit of the land of Canaan that year." (Joshua 5:10-12). The Passover is
the 15th day, they ate the stores of their enemies on the 16th day and there was no more manna on the
17th day. If anything, this example disproves their theory.
Example 10. The Wave Sheaf.
The authors use Lev. 23:11 and Joshua 5:10-12 to show that the 15th of every month is a seventh day
Sabbath, because the 15th of the first month is the Lord's Passover. To support their theory, they cite the
work of Philo and Josephus who they claim said that the wave sheaf was always waved on the 16th. Joshua
5:10-12 is quoted in the preceding example. Here is Lev. 23:11. "And he shall wave the sheaf before the
Lord, to be accepted for you: on the morrow after the Sabbath (in Passover) the priest shall wave it." As
you see, the scripture does not support their assertion. As discussed in Example 1 above, in the
crucifixion week that took place during Passover, there were three Sabbaths. I am not a great believer in
relying on uninspired men instead of the plain "thus saith the Lord" of the KJV Bible. Further, these
"authorities" are not quoted, so I'll postpone discussing them until I get to the author's chapter on Philo.
Example 11. Aaron and Sons.
The authors tell us that because Moses instructed Aaron and his sons to remain in the tabernacle seven
days following their anointing as priests (on the first day of the first month), the day of their release must
be a seventh day Sabbath, specifically a Sabbath on the 8th day. The scripture is silent on whether a
Sabbath occurred while they were in the tabernacle, however I see no reason that the seventh day
Sabbath could not have occurred during the seven days they were in the tabernacle.
Example 12. Solomon and Company.
Once again the authors claim that the 8th day from the start of the feast of Tabernacles (the 22nd day of
the month) must be a seventh day Sabbath. This is the same claim refuted in Example 2. The day after the
feast of Tabernacles is a holy rest day in its own right (see Lev. 23:36).
Example 13. Sanctification.
The authors assert that the sanctification of the temple in Hezekiah's reign, which began on the New Moon
and ended on the porch on the 8th day and the subsequent preparation of the temple that ended the 16th
day (2 Chron. 29:17) prove that the 8th and the 15th were seventh day Sabbaths. "And they gathered their
brethren... to cleanse the house of the Lord. Now they began on the first day of the first month to sanctify,
and on the eighth day of the first month came they to the porch of the Lord: so they sanctified the house in
eight days; and in the sixteenth day of the first month they made an end." (2 Chron. 20:15,17). Obviously,
since the priests started on a New Moon and worked through at least two Sabbaths, this duty was held to
very important. King Ahaz had shut up the house of God; it was being reopened by his successor
Hezekiah. (2Chron. 19:24; 20:1-19). Because the priests worked without resting, it is not possible to
pinpoint the Sabbaths from this example.
Other points: According to the Book of Jasher, the Battle of Jericho began on a New Moon. The authors
argue that God would never have sent his people into battle on a Sabbath. First, God sent them on a holy
day, a New Moon. Second, the walk around Jericho (the authors admit) was an approved distance for a
Sabbath. Third, the actual battle only lasted one day, the seventh day when the walls fell down. Fourth, it is
not unlawful to follow God's orders on any day; witness Christ who healed on the Sabbath.
Additionally, the authors use the work of Philo Judaeus to support lunar calculation of the Sabbath. Philo
refers to "a heavenly brilliancy like a full moon, at the height of its increase at the end of the second
week." This would point to the end of that week (seventh day) on the 15th. They claim "that Philo's beliefs
were representative of those of Hebraism during that period (his lifetime)" (Ibid, pg. 91). "The Jewish
Encyclopedia" says, "Philo included in his philosophy both Greek wisdom and Hebrew religion, which he
sought to fuse... His work was not accepted by contemporary Judaism." ("The Jewish Encyclopedia," Funk
and Wagnalls Company, New York and London, 1916, Vol. 10, pg. 6). "While he read the Old Testament
chiefly in Greek translation, not deeming it necessary to use the Hebrew text because he was under the
wrong impression that the Greek corresponded to it, he nevertheless understood Hebrew..." (Ibid., pg.
10). "Philo's teaching was not Jewish, but was derived from Greek philosophy. Desiring to convert it into a
Jewish doctrine, he applied the Stoic mode of allegoric interpretation to the Old Testament... a method that
could produce no lasting results. It was attacked even in Alexandria (where he lived)..." (Ibid., pg. 11). I
believe that thoroughly discredits Philo. I can only add that the standard of accuracy I have found in this
book leaves me skeptical of the quote as well.
Without specific quotes, the authors have also invoked the support of Josephus. The Jewish Encyclopedia
has a better opinion of him than Philo, but they note that he is more important to Christians than to Jews;
Christians rescued his work from obscurity. (Ibid., Vol. 7, pg. 279). (Josephus independently verified the
existence of Christ.) Josephus did not much expound on Jewish Law. "He had intended to write a separate
work on the laws; and therefore he treats some briefly, while others he does not mention at all." (Ibid., pg.
277). Where he discussed the law, "he is usually in harmony with the rabbinical Halakeh." (Ibid.). However,
differences exist, "The Jewish Encyclopedia" specifically mentions Ex. 21:22, Ex. 22:28, Lev. 12:9, and Lev.
22:28. (Ibid.). Without specifics, I cannot give much credit to Josephus as an authority on the lunar
calculation of the Sabbath.
In conclusion, I should say that at first glance, I saw some merit in lunar calculation of the Sabbath. Later,
after I studied their book for hours and looked up the scriptures they cited and time and again found that
they had misrepresented the scriptures or overstated what they proved, I decided that lunar calculation of
the Sabbath was false and non-biblical.
Keeping the Sabbath of the Fourth Commandment is our acknowledgment that God created the Universe.
(Ex. 20:8,11). When we keep the seventh day Sabbath with all reverence, it is a sign to God that we claim
the covenant He makes with His people. "I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquities of the
fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate Me; and showing mercy
unto thousands of them that love Me, and keep My Commandments." (Ex. 20:5,6).
Despite the advice of the Apostle Paul, Satan has tricked most of the Christian world into worshiping God
on the wrong day and other errors. "Let no man therefore judge you in meat (because you eat unclean
foods), or in drink (because you abuse alcohol), or in respect to an holyday (Feast Day), or of the New
Moon, or of the Sabbath Days." (Col. 2:16).
As any calendar will tell you Saturday is the seventh day of rest. So I have to see any attempt to cause the
devout Sabbath keepers to worship on the wrong day as an attack on their claim to God's mercy, and
therefore as an attack on their salvation.
Amo Paul Bishop Roden
|ARE LUNAR SABBATHS BIBLICAL?