Wednesday, April 18, 2012

The Cycle of the Moon and the Generations of Israel

Unlike our modern or Gregorian calendar, the traditional Biblical calendar is a combination of lunar and solar calculations; the Gregorian being strictly solar.  The months on the Biblical calendar begin at the New moon and the annual cycle of festivals are timed with the waxing and waning lunar cycle.  At the new moon, with only a sliver showing above the Western horizon just after sunset, the light reflected by the moon is weak.  But at the full moon, at mid month, the 15th day on the Biblical calendar, the light of the moon is strong and bright enough to see clearly and perhaps read by.

This lunar cycle, from one new moon to the next, is approx 30 days in length.  But did you know that the lunar cycle, the reflection of physical light has a spiritual parallel in the nation of Israel?  The moon reflects the physical light of the sun, and the nation of Israel reflects the spiritual light from God!  It says in Isaiah:

Isaiah 49:6 NKJV 6 Indeed He (the LORD) says, 'It is too small a thing that You should be My Servant To raise up the tribes of Jacob, And to restore the preserved ones of Israel; I will also give You as a light to the Gentiles, That You should be My salvation to the ends of the earth.'"

The nation of Israel was to reflect the spiritual light of God to the Gentile nations of the world.  They were to be a holy, or a set apart, nation of priests.

Exodus 19:6 NKJV 6 'And you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.' These are the words which you shall speak to the children of Israel."

Just as the new moon holds the promise of the greater light of the full moon, also the generations of the nation of Israel beginning with Abraham, to whom the promise was given, reflect the greater light of God yet to come.

These are the generations of the nation of Israel in the days of their glory when the LORD dwelt among them in the land that He had prepared for them.  Just as there are 15 days from the first light of the new moon to the full moon, beginning with the promise to Abraham, there are 15 generations to the “full light,” culminating with the construction of the Temple built by Solomon in Jerusalem, the place of God’s choosing.  These generations are Abraham, Isaac, Jacob (Israel), Judah, Perez, Hezron, Ram, Amminadab, Nashon, Salmon, Boaz, Obed, Jesse, David and Solomon.

David purchased the thrashing floor of Ornan the Jebusite:

1 Chronicles 21:18 NKJV 18 Therefore, the angel of the LORD commanded Gad to say to David that David should go and erect an altar to the LORD on the threshing floor of Ornan the Jebusite.

David’s son Solomon, built the Temple, the “House of God” on the very same site:

2 Chronicles 3:1 NKJV 1 Now Solomon began to build the house of the LORD at Jerusalem on Mount Moriah, where the LORD had appeared to his father David, at the place that David had prepared on the threshing floor of Ornan the Jebusite.

The full light had come to the world.  The nation of Israel was at its peak.  Jerusalem was referred to as “the Light of the World,” and rightly so.  During the Feast of Tabernacles in the fall, which begins on the 15th day of the month of Tishri at the full moon, Jerusalem and the temple are crowded with pilgrims and worshipers from all over Judea, Samaria and from as far away as those who were able could travel.  It is recorded in the Talmud as well as in the writings of Josephus and other historical sources, that during the Feast of Tabernacles, the Temple was brightly lit by gigantic oil lamps on 70 foot high poles.  The Temple was on a hill and Jerusalem itself being several thousand feet in elevation, the light from these lamps could be seen for miles around and for several hundred miles out in the Mediterranean Sea!  One could travel by night at this time with the full moon lighting the path and the light emanating from the Temple giving direction.

Just as the moon is full on the 15th day of the month so, too, was the spiritual light “full” at the 15th generation from the promise to Abraham.  But even so, the waning moon is just a day away.  The light begins to diminish as the moon continues its path to darkness.  And the spiritual light of the nation of Israel after Solomon, who was not entirely a good king himself, began to diminish and eventually go out all together.

These are the generations of the Kings of Judah, the Kings who presided over Jerusalem during the waning light of the chosen nation.  After Solomon, there was Rehoboam, Abijah, Asa, Jehosaphat, Jehoram, Ahaziah, Joash, Amaziah, Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, Hezekiah, Manasseh, Amon and Josiah.  Rehoboam was the first in a series of truly bad kings, who embraced idolatry and caused the people to sin and turn away from their God.

Josiah was the last good king; the last sliver of light to shine in the nation of Israel before the light was gone.  Just as the 30 days of the lunar cycle reflects the greater light of the sun, so too with the nation of Israel, the 30 generations from Abraham to Josiah, a single blood line, reflect the waxing and waning spiritual light of God in the land of Israel!

Following Josiah, over the next 32 years, there was a succession of four exceedingly bad kings.  Spiritual darkness had truly come to the land of Israel.  It was during this time the presence of the LORD left the Temple as recorded in Ezekiel chapters 6 through 11.  The people were killed or enslaved and taken captive to Babylon.  The Temple was completely looted of its treasure and the remaining kings of Judah served only as vassals of Babylon with the Temple itself eventually destroyed.

But the story does not end there.  In Biblical times, the beginning of the months were not determined by calculation as they are today, but the new month was declared by the 70 elders of the Sanhedrin at the sighting of the new moon in Jerusalem.  The sighting of the new moon was a greatly anticipated event each month and was especially anticipated at the Feast of Trumpets, what we know today as Rosh Hashanah.  The Feast of Trumpets is the only Feast of the LORD to take place on the new moon, at the very beginning of the month.  As such, no one knew the exact day or hour that the new moon would be sighted to announce the beginning of the new month and therefore the Feast of Trumpets!  Everyone saw the moon go dark at the end of the last cycle.  The question was, would the new moon be sighted tomorrow night at sunset or the following night at sunset? 

The Feast of Trumpets was also a High Sabbath, a day that is celebrated as a Sabbath regardless of which day of the week it fell on.  A Sabbath requires a great deal of preparation.  All food to be consumed on a Sabbath day had to be prepared ahead of time.  All work had to be completed before the beginning of the Sabbath at local sunset.  But this Sabbath was a special High Sabbath, it was a Feast of the LORD.  Special offerings and sacrifices were to be prepared for the Temple services on this day and a special blowing of the shofar was to take place to announce the beginning of the Feast.  The Shofar was blown at every feast and new moon:

Psalms 81:3 NKJV 3 Blow the trumpet at the time of the New Moon, At the full moon, on our solemn feast day.

But for the Feast of Trumpets, the Shofar was to be blown 100 times with the last blast, the 100th being called the “last trumpet!”

Everyone was watching and waiting, preparing and anticipating this special High Sabbath and Feast of the LORD, but when did it begin?  Would the new moon be sighted tonight?  If not then all the preparation would have to be done all over again the next day in anticipation of the sighting of the new moon the next night.  No one knew the day or hour when the new moon would be sighted or exactly when this Feast would begin.  Does all this sound familiar?  It should!  Rabbi Shaul, or better known to most of us as the Apostle Paul, wrote in 1st Corinthians:

1 Corinthians 15:51-52 NKJV 51 Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed-- 52 in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.

And recorded in the Gospel of Matthew are Yeshua’s own words at the end of the parable of the 10 virgins:

Matthew 25:13 NKJV 13 "Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour in which the Son of Man is coming.

The Apostle Paul, as well as Yeshua Himself were telling us that Yeshua’s return will be at the Feast of Trumpets!  The terminology they were using placed this future event squarely at the Feast of Trumpets!  Yeshua would return at the blowing of the shofar; at the “last trumpet!”  And so, like the wise virgins of the parable, we are to be watching and waiting His return, preparing and anticipating this announcement of the return of the “Light of the World!”  Along with the Feast of Trumpets, we will not know the exact day and hour of His return.  Neither do we know what year He will return, but when we understand the context of these important scriptures, we can know the season of His return and be prepared and waiting!

The Biblical calendar and the annual cycle of Feasts are God’s timetable of His redemption plan for all mankind, both Jew and Gentile alike.  Just as the cycle of the moon waxes and wanes, there remains the promise and assurance of the new moon to soon follow.  The nation of Israel will once again rise from the dust of history to fulfill her role in the timetable of God.  Just as it is foretold by the prophets, Israel will be the “Light of the World” and a “Nation of Priests.”  We are seeing these ancient prophesies fulfilled in our generation!  In 1948, we saw the nation of Israel return to the land once again, and the great exodus continues today.  The spiritual rebirth of the nation of Israel will soon occur.  Although we live in a time of spiritual darkness, we can watch with anticipation for the rising of the “new moon.”  For the LORD spoke these words through the prophet Isaiah:

Isaiah 66:22-23 JPG  22 For as the new heavens and the new earth which I will make stand before Me, states Yahovah, so shall your seed and your name stand.  23 And it will be from new moon to its (His) new moon, and from Sabbath to its (His) Sabbath, all flesh shall come to worship before Me, says Yahovah.

And also from Isaiah:

Isaiah 46:10 NKJV 10 Declaring the end from the beginning, And from ancient times things that are not yet done, Saying, 'My counsel shall stand, And I will do all My pleasure,'

שלום ברוך
Shalom and be blessed
Dan & Brenda Cathcart

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