How to Understand the New Testament-Part 7

There is a concept in the Scriptures concerning “two calendars”, so we are going to begin with that. This is essential to understanding the Scriptures as a whole, not only the New Testament. In the book of Genesis, we have the account of the creation. On Day 1 we have the beginning of time and the civil calendar, Tishri 1. On Day 2 the waters are divided and Day 3 the plants and vegetation are created. On Day 4 the sun, moon and stars. On Day 5 the animal kingdom (the “tannim=serpent/Leviathan) and on Day 6 he creates man and woman. On Day 7 we have the first Sabbath, called the Lord’s Day (Isa 58.13). In Gen 7.11; 8.4,5,14 we find out that there was a calendar in operation from the beginning, which makes sense because God created time in Gen 1.1.

Why did God create everything in six days? He could have done it in less time, or more, if he wanted to. It is because he is instructing us about something (2 Pet 3.9). He is revealing his 7000 year plan for redemption, and certain characters involved in that redemption. The serpent (Gen 1.21=tannim) on Day 5 is going to be symbolic of Satan, Pharaoh, the false messiah and every enemy of God that has come against his people, known as “Leviathan” (Isa 27.1; Psa 104.26; Psa 74.13-14; Job 26.12-13; Rev 12.3; 13.1). The sun symbolized the Messiah (Psa 19.4-5; Mal 4.2) and the moon the believer (Isa 30.26; who reflects the light of the sun, and is “reborn” every month every month. The term “born again” comes from the New Moon festival).

We see in Gen 1.14 that these “lights” were placed in the heavens for “signs” and we know that in Isa 7.14 the virgin birth was a “sign”, and this is the Hebrew word “oht” which is made up of the letters aleph, vav and tav. In ancient Hebrew, the aleph was symbolized by an ox head and means “leader, strength.” The vav was symbolized by a tent peg, or nail, and the tav was symbolized by a cross. Now, at the first Passover, the blood of the lamb was to be put on the doorposts and lintel of each Israelite house, as a “sign.” When the Lord see’s the blood, the first born in the house would be spared.

So, the “sign” in Exodus and Isaiah are related. When you take the symbols, the letters, of the word “oht” it means “(the) leader nail (ed) (to the) cross” and Yeshua is the “sign”. Also, the word “oht” is saying that Yeshua is both God and man. The word is made up of the aleph and the tav (God) with the letter vav (the number of man) in the middle. Yeshua said not one stroke or letter of the Torah will pass until all is fulfilled (Matt 5.17-18), and this is a tiny example of what he is talking about. In a later teaching, we will present the Hebrew alphabet and show why this is important to understanding the New Testament.

Now, Genesis 1 is the beginning of the civil calendar. The months, beginning with the first month, are in this order: Nisan; Chesvan; Kislev; Tevet; Shevat; Adar; Nisan; Iyar; Sivan; Tammuz; Av; Elul. Any date in the Bible from Gen 1.1 to Exo 12.1 is according to this calendar. But, in Exo 12.1, a religious calendar is instituted. The religious year begins with the month of Nisan and it goes in this order: Iyar; Sivan; Tammuz; Av; Elul; Tishri; Chesvan; Kislev; Tevet; Shevat; and Adar. Any date given after Exo 12.1 is according to this religious calendar. Both of these calendars operated at the same time. Knowing that there are two calendars will help you understand Bible prophecy.

For instance, Joel 2.23 says, “So rejoice, O sons of Zion, and be glad in the Lord your God; for he has given you the early rain for your vindication. And he has poured down for you the rain, the early and latter rain in the first month” (KJV). This is a verse that refers to both the civil and religious calendar, and is alluding to the two comings of the Messiah (Hos 6.3; James 5.7). The term “early rain” is “teacher of righteousness” in Hebrew and is a term for the Messiah (Mishnah Ta’anit 1.2; Targum Yochanon ben Uzziel). Now, how can the Messiah come as the early and latter rain “in the first month” when they are six months apart? Because there are two “first months” in the Jewish year. Messiah will come in Nisan (which is the first month of the religious calendar and his first coming fulfilled the spring festivals of Passover, Unleavened Bread, First fruits and Shavuot, which is linked to the spring festivals and was seen as the “atzeret” or conclusion of them) and he will come in the month of Tishri, the first month of the civil calendar and fulfill Rosh Ha Shannah, Yom Kippur and Sukkot at his second coming.

So, this verse is telling us the month when the teacher of righteousness will come in his two comings. Knowing the calendars will help you when you see a date in the Bible, and we know that the festivals have certain dates and these should be memorized. When you see a date in Scripture, it is telling you something, possibly relating to a festival and therefore relating to the Messiah. Remember, any date prior to Exo 12.1 is according to the civil calendar, after that it is according to the religious calendar. For example, the Ark of Noah rested on the mountains of Ararat on the 17th day of the seventh month. This is before Exo 12, so this is the month of Nisan on the civil calendar.

Why is this important? Because we need to “track the dates” and that is the day Yeshua resurrected from the dead, the festival of First Fruits. Also, the 17th of Nisan is the day Israel passed through the waters of the Red Sea. In addition, Hezekiah consecrated the Temple in 2 Chr 29.17 and this consecration ended on the 16th of Nisan, meaning that the services started on Nisan 17. Lev 23.4 says that the festivals were to be proclaimed at the time the Lord said because this will apply to prophecy, so it has an eschatological meaning. To do away with knowing when these festivals occurred will limit your understanding of prophecy. Paul knew that, so that is why he said in 1 Thes 5.1, “Now as to the times (the moedim, the festivals) and seasons (the festival seasons like Passover to Shavuot and Rosh ha Shannah to Yom Kippur called the “Days of Awe” for example), brethren, you have no need of anything to be written to you (because he already taught these things to them, and their eschatological expectations).”

By knowing these things properly, they would not be taken by surprise because they were in “the light” of understanding (v 2-5). Remember, the word appointed in Lev 23.2 is “moed” and means “an appointment” and the word “convocation” is “mikrah” which means “a rehearsal.” However, the festivals can only be kept in Jerusalem now according to Deut 12.11; 16.2; 1 Kings 8.29 and 2 Chr 6.6, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t know when they are and what they mean.

So, let’s apply this to a situation in the Scripture to see how this is valuable. We know from Exo 5.3 that Moses asks Pharaoh to let Israel go into the wilderness for three days. It is not like the movies that say that he was asking for total freedom, the Lord told him to ask for three days (Exo 3.18). So, the Passover was Nisan 14, and three days later was Nisan 17 and they crossed the Red Sea after Pharaoh changed his mind, but why did he chase them? What made Pharaoh go after them? Here is why. We know that Joseph ruled in the Faiyum, or middle Egypt, and was buried there. In fact, the canals he built to get the grain to the Nile for shipment to the rest is Egypt are still there and called “the canals of Joseph.”

When Moses was granted the three days (Exo 12.31 “as you have said”= the three days), a delegation went to the Faiyum and took Joseph’s bones that were buried there. They took the ark (aron; box; coffin-Gen 50.25-26; Exo 13.19) that protected the sarcophagus to show that his remains were not stolen (why would a thief do that). Now, Pharaoh (a type of Satan and the false messiah) knew that Joseph wanted Israel to take his bones back to the land when the Lord delivered them from Egypt (he made the sons of Israel swear to it-Gen 50.25-26), so when the tomb of Joseph was emptied, Pharaoh knew they were not planning to come back. Pharaoh chases them to the Red Sea, where he is “cut off” on Nisan 17 (dies). Upon his death, Israel was now free from slavery.

Historically and eschatologically, Yeshua dies on Passover but has said that in three days he will rise again. He is buried in the tomb of another Joseph (of Arimathea). Yeshua passes through the waters of death after three days (Nisan 17) and Satan (Pharaoh) knows he isn’t coming back because the tomb of Joseph is empty (again).

In the book of Esther we have another example of where these dates tell the same story. King Achashverosh marries Esther. She has an uncle named Mordechai, who is from the tribe of Benjamin and the family of Kish, the same as King Saul. Saul was to kill the Amalekites but failed, letting King Agag live for a period of time until Samuel killed him with a sword. Haman was an Amalekite and a picture of the false messiah. Haman wanted to exterminate the Jews and devises a plan. In Nisan (Est 7) he cast “lots” or “purim” to ascertain the best date to do so and comes up with the month of Adar, the twelfth month (of the religious calendar-remember this was after Exo 12).

On the 13th of Nisan the decree goes out (Est 3.12). The story continues and Esther decides she must do something. So, on the third day (from 3.12), which makes it the 16th of Nisan, she goes before the king, her husband, and wants to invite Haman to a banquet. Her request is granted and the king and Haman come to the banquet. She again asks for them to come to another banquet the next day (the 17th of Nisan) and they comply. That night (the 16th) the King can’t sleep and has someone read some history to him (Est 6.1-2) and finds out Mordechai saved his life by exposing a plot against him. He decides to honor Mordechai, and has Haman arrange it, which infuriates him because he was already building a gallows to impale him (5.14). This second banquet occurred on Nisan 17 (7.1-2) and Haman’s plot is exposed, and he dies. Saul’s disobedience resulted in a Haman, but his descendant Mordechai finished the job. Just like Pharaoh, he is cut off on Nisan 17. So, we see Satan, Pharaoh and Haman cut off on Nisan 17, so this day is becoming a day of salvation in the Scriptures and the death of God’s enemies.

So, in these brief examples, and there are more, we hope you begin to see the value of understanding the two calendars and understanding the dates given in the Scriptures. In Part 8 we will pick up here and begin to present more eschatological aspects to the calendars and the festivals, and see how they relate to the coming of Messiah, which is critical to understanding the New Testament.

Posted in Articles, Idioms, Phrases and Concepts, Understanding the New Testament

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