LUNAR SABBATH DEBUNKED
Yahweh’s Restoration Ministry - www.yrm.org
Once you recover from your utter disbelief at first hearing such a teaching, you entertain the possibility of trying to fit this lunar sabbath notion into Scripture. You quickly realize that no matter how you try to coax it, twist it or force it, establishing the weekly Sabbath by this method is impossible. It does violence both to historical fact and to Yahweh’s clear commands
Here is how the scheme works:
As we will show, the new moon is not a day of rest or a sabbath. In addition, the word week derives from a Hebrew word meaning “sevened” (sheb-u-wah). It is connected to a sequence of sevens, not to the new moon and not to more than seven. It begins with day one and ends with the seventh day, not the eighth day. Neither is “Sabbath” in any way linked etymologically to the word moon.
Falling on the 8th, 15th, 22nd and 29th day of each lunar month initiated by the new moon means the Sabbath would also fall about the time of the new moon, First Quarter, Full Moon, and Last Quarter. Most lunar sabbatarians do not consider the new moon day to be a day of the week, but rather a day of “no regular work.” The first day of the actual week for them comes on the second day of the lunar month, making the eighth day the first weekly Sabbath and not the seventh as Yahweh commands.
But dissension exists in the lunarian ranks because some lunar sabbatarians believe that the weekly Sabbath falls on the 7th, 14th, 21st and 28th days of the month.
Such details aside, the general thrust of this theory is that just by looking at the moon you are supposed to be able to tell when the weekly Sabbath occurs, always falling on specific lunar phases. That is the main point for this doctrine--to produce a heavenly marker to determine when the Sabbath occurs, instead of associating the Sabbath with Yahweh’s own example of rest as we are commanded, Exodus 20:11, 31:17. We will show the fallacy of the heavenly marker notion momentarily.
The scheme also means that the Sabbath floats
around and can land on any day of the week each month. If the new
moon falls on a Tuesday, the Sabbath will be on succeeding Tuesdays
of that month. Then it will flip to another day of the week the next
month when the Sabbath is “re-set” by the appearance of the new
Many more difficulties than this, however, are presented by the lunar sabbath doctrine. As noted, when the end of the month comes it will typically have an extra day or two left over before the next new moon arrives. That’s because the month is 29.5 days from new moon to new moon and not four sevens (28 days). These extra days don’t fit in anywhere. The Scriptures nowhere recognize them or address them. So what do you do with these leftover days?
Many lunar sabbatarians just ignore them. Others keep them as Sabbaths, meaning they observe an additional sabbath or two or three in a row. Try explaining that to your employer, or to Yahweh for that matter. The Fourth Commandment says to work six days and rest the seventh, which is the Sabbath, not Sabbaths. Scripture nowhere allows for or addresses multiple consecutive Sabbaths. No day can be added in and none can be ignored. All days must fit into the Fourth Commandment command of work for 6, rest the 7th.
Nothing in Yahweh’s Word says the moon has anything to do with the weekly Sabbath. Regardless, there are Herculean efforts to force the lunar sabbath teaching into the Scriptures. Some lunar proponents also say that the seventh-day Saturday Sabbath is pagan, and that even the universal weekly cycle is pagan in origin. They have a problem with the Sabbath falling on Saturn’s day (Saturday) but apparently have no issue at all when it falls on Sun’s Day, Moon’s Day, Tiw’s day, Woden’s Day, Thor’s Day or Frei’s Day (Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday—all honoring heathen deities). Which came first, Saturn’s-day or the seventh day? Man’s spin is irrelevant.
As with every teaching, to be true it must stand up to the scrutiny of the unadulterated Word of Yahweh. If not, it’s bogus. In that case we abandon the teaching.
Genesis 1:14: A Generic Proof Text
Here is Genesis 1:14: “And Elohim said, Let
there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day
from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for
days, and years: And let them be for lights in the firmament of the
heaven to give light upon the earth: and it was so. And Elohim made
two great lights; the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser
light to rule the night: He made the stars also. And Elohim set them
in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth, and to
rule over the day and over the night, and to divide the light from
the darkness: and Elohim saw that it was good. And the evening and
the morning were the fourth day.”
Attempts at a Sabbath in the Sky
Not even seasoned astronomers can simply look at just the moon’s phases and distinguish one day from another with 100 percent accuracy every time. Quarter phases can be confusing in their closeness. Because of such close resemblances in the moon’s appearance the average person would need technical training to determine the Sabbath. He would also need a lot of clear skies during each of those critical phases in order to get the Sabbath right.
When it comes to the Full Moon it gets really uncertain, with three or four consecutive moons every month all appearing full. Which one do you choose as the Sabbath moon? Note this from scientists: “Although Full Moon occurs each month at a specific date and time, the Moon's disk may appear to be full for several nights in a row if it is clear. This is because the percentage of the Moon's disk that appears illuminated changes very slowly around the time of Full Moon. The Moon may appear 100% illuminated only on the night closest to the time of exact Full Moon, but on the night before and night after will appear 97-99% illuminated; most people would not notice the difference. Even two days from Full Moon the Moon's disk is 93-97% illuminated” (quotation from U.S. Naval Observatory).
But that’s not all. Every 2.7 years there are two full moons in a month, the second of which is known as the Blue Moon. So how would the average believer know when that will happen, not to mention decide which full moon is the correct one?
Now be honest: does Yahweh establish His weekly Sabbath amid all this uncertainty and confusion? He is not the author of confusion, 1Corinthins 14:33. Are His people supposed to be aware of and distinguish among all the anomalies and similarities in lunar appearances when they keep the day of rest? Do we need college degrees in astronomy to observe the right Sabbath holy? Does that sound like the design of a wise Creator who gives plain and simple laws for us to keep? What about David out tending his flocks in the field, did he know all of this? Or did he just need to know how to count to seven for the proper time to observe the Sabbath? Frankly, the lunar Sabbath scheme appears like the shenanigans of mythical Greek deities trying to frustrate their human subjects just for the fun of it.
The creation account in Genesis 2 plainly
teaches that the weekly Sabbath cycle was not based on the heavenly
luminaries but simply on the seven days in the original creation
week put in perpetual motion by Yahweh:
The Sabbath and its sequence in the week is
the result of a direct action of Yahweh—originating entirely from
His own personal rest on the seventh day. Because of His own
activities the weekly Sabbath is directly tied to worship of Him
following His own example. It is His day made for man. No wonder He
says the Sabbath is the one sign identifying His people. “It is a
sign between me and the children of Israel for ever: [now notice the
special link:] for in six days Yahweh made heaven and earth, and on
the seventh day he rested, and was refreshed,” Exodus 31:17.
“But seasons means appointed times and the Sabbath is an appointed time,” will be the argument. That is correct. But where does this passage or any other specifically link the new moon to the weekly Sabbath? Nowhere but in the imagination of the lunar sabbatarian.
Is the New Moon Day a Sabbath of Rest?
When does a meal with a king constitute a
weekly Sabbath? Wouldn’t a Sabbath be indicated by a meeting with a
priest at the temple? Neither do sacrifices in themselves prove a
Sabbath, because there were sacrifices commanded every day, Numbers
29:6 and Hebrews 7:27.
Exodus 40:1, 2 and 17 reads: “And Yahweh spake unto Moses, saying, On the first day of the first month shall you set up the tabernacle of the tent of the congregation… And it came to pass in the first month in the second year, on the first day of the month, that the tabernacle was reared up.” (Read all of Exodus 40 to learn just how much work was done on the new moon day.)
If every new moon day is a Sabbath or a day of no work, why does Yahweh command Zerubbabel to gather wood and build the temple upon the first day of the month? (Haggai 1:1, 2, 8, 12).
If every new moon day is a Sabbath, why do we not find any command to rest upon it (with the exception of the Feast of Trumpets, which falls on the new moon of the 7th month)? Shouldn't we find it listed as a Sabbath among the appointed times of Leviticus 23? What explanation can be given to the fact that nowhere in Scripture is the command to cease from labor upon the new moon day, or upon the extra days that fall out each month?
Shabbat and Shabbatown: Different Kinds of
Not so. The word used for the weekly Sabbath (in Hebrew) is “shabbat” (7676) while the word behind the feast day Sabbath is “shabbatown” (7677). High-day Sabbaths are different from the weekly Sabbath. From Exodus 12:16 we learn that on the high day Sabbaths of Unleavened Bread, for instance, some work to prepare food is allowed “so that all may eat.” No such leeway is given for the weekly Sabbath.
The weekly Sabbath is a memorial to Yahweh’s creative act and His subsequent rest. He did not create high day Sabbaths by resting on them. To say the weekly Sabbath changes every month according to the cycles of the moon is to make the memorial to the creative rest of Yahweh into a memorial to the moon.
More Problems Using Genesis 1:14
Never did Yahweh ever say He re-set the week after four creation days by utilizing the now-orbiting new moon. That is a critical piece of information we must have if we are to base Sabbath observance on the moon’s cycle as shown by Yahweh.
Attempting to be free of this difficulty, some lunar sabbatarians speculate that the moon was created in an advanced phase and that the Sabbath would be made to synchronize with it later on; others speculate that perhaps the moon was already in its orbit the first day of creation but was just hidden behind heavy mist. Or that Yahweh’s creation week and our week are different. To which we ask: where is the chapter and verse supporting these hypotheses? Genuine doctrine does not rest on supposes or maybes. There is not a shred of evidence in Scripture to support such assumptions.
Genesis 1 and 2 are crystal clear that Yahweh created the heavens and the earth in six days and then He rested on the seventh. Lunar sabbatarians ignore Yahweh’s rest on the seventh day and go solely with a Sabbath-setting lunar phase.
Yahweh commanded, “And you shall count unto you from the morrow after the sabbath, from the day that you brought the sheaf of the wave offering; seven sabbaths shall be complete,” Leviticus 23:15. Pentecost means 50th. It takes exactly 50 days to arrive at Pentecost—seven Sabbaths of precisely seven days each or 7 x 7 + 1 = 50. Partial weeks or extra days don’t compute.
Numbers 28:26 says the Feast of Firstfruits or Pentecost comes “after your weeks be out.” “Weeks” is the Hebrew shabua and literally means “sevened” not “lunared.” After your seven sevens are over and complete, then you observe the Feast of Weeks or Pentecost. The Bible, An American Translation by Goodspeed says, “…counting fifty days to the day following the seventh Sabbath, and then you shall present to Yahweh a grain-offering from the new crop.” The New English Bible says, “The day after the seventh Sabbath will make 50 days…”
You can’t have 7 Sabbaths totaling 51 or 52
days. Because you are spanning two months it is impossible to
accomplish this as commanded when a new moon interferes with one of
those weeks by adding extra days. You cannot get 7 Sabbaths to equal
49 days under the lunar sabbath scheme. This fact alone proves the
lunar scheme bogus. One lunar sabbatarian claims that Pentecost is
counted for seven weeks and then 50 days are added on top of that,
making a combined 99 days. He has apparently never looked at the
Hebrew behind the command.
Consider how the manna was regularly provided each week. When Israel was in the wilderness Exodus plainly teaches that the manna fell for six days, with a double portion falling on the sixth day because none would fall on the seventh-day Sabbath. This went on continuously for 40 years, Exodus 16:35.
Nothing is said about a big interruption of this weekly manna cycle every fourth week by a couple of additional days at the end of the month when the new moon resets the week.
Nothing is said that Israel starved for a few days at the end of each month because of additional Sabbath days or “non-work” days added to the month. For those who count those extra days as non-days, did it mean that a quarter of the time Israel got not 6 but 7, 8 or 9 days of manna gathering? If so, where in the Word is it found?
To mention such a critically important lunar interruption in the 7-day week could not possibly have slipped Yahweh’s mind. It is inconceivable that He would not have warned Israel to prepare for it! After all, He warned them to be sure to gather extra on the sixth day to make up for none on the weekly Sabbath. So why did He not tell them also to gather extra manna the sixth day to eat on the seventh, eighth and possibly ninth day at month’s end? Obviously no lunar-added days ever existed.
This monthly lunar disruption is found nowhere in the Word because the Sabbath cycle that began in Genesis continued unabated. No additional, interpolated days ever interfered with it.
New Testament Dynamites the Lunar Theory
The Sabbath set in motion by Yahweh continued to be in effect down to the first century, when Yahshua came in the flesh. We know that He came as one "under the law," and that He never sinned (i.e., transgressed the law, 1Pet.2:22).We find Yahshua keeping the same Sabbath day holy as did His fellow Jews around Him (Matt 12:1-12; Mark 2:23-28; Mark 1:21; 3:1-4; 6:2; etc.). Yahshua never rebuked the Pharisees for keeping the wrong weekly sequence.
These Events in Yahshua’s Life Disprove
Chapter 9 is a continuation of the events of that same day when he heals a man of blindness. We are told that this was the weekly Sabbath, the 23rd of the month, verse 14. But lunar sabbatarians say the lunar sabbath falls on either the 21st or 22nd. Either scheme violates this provable 23rd day Sabbath. (See John 7:37-38; 8:1-2, and John 9:1-3, 14, 16.)
Another math meltdown for the lunar sabbath scheme comes with Passover, which falls on the 14th of the month of Abib. Yahshua was laid in the tomb at the end of Passover day the 14th, just before sunset when the 15th started. He rose three days later (Matt. 12:40), making it the end of the 17th of Abib. He came out of the tomb just before sunset the weekly Sabbath because the two Marys found the tomb already empty at “the end of the Sabbath,” Matthew 28:1. Lunar sabbatarians say that the Sabbath must fall either on the 14th or 15th, but here on the most important week in all of human history the weekly Sabbath falls on the 17th.
Having no other response, some lunar advocates take issue with Matthew 12:40, saying Yahshua’s words about being in the “heart of the earth” for three days and three nights does not mean in the tomb. Yahshua, however, directly compared it to Jonah’s being three days in the fish’s belly. And Jonah describes his experience this way: “And said, I cried by reason of mine affliction unto Yahweh, and he heard me; out of the belly of hell [sheol, grave] cried I, and thou heardest my voice. For you had cast me into the deep, in the midst [heart] of the seas; and the floods compassed me about: all thy billows and thy waves passed over me,” Jonah 2:2-3. “Midst” means to be enclosed (Hebrew labab). Jonah was encompassed about by water. Obviously Yahshua was enclosed by the tomb in the earth for three days just as Jonah was enclosed in the belly of the beast for three days.
Yahshua clinches it when He Himself “began to teach them, that the Son of man must suffer many things, and be rejected of the elders, and of the chief priests, and scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again,” Mark 8:31. See also John 2:19 and 21. Paul confirms it as well in 1Corinthians 15:3-4: “For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that the Messiah died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures.” Even the chief priests and Pharisees testify to Yahshua’s statement that after three days He would rise again, Matthew 27:63.
Furthermore, those who contend that the 14th of each month is a Sabbath of rest and no commerce must explain why this 14th day of the month of Abib is called in the New Testament a “preparation day” (which is Passover day, the day of preparation for the high Sabbath and not a Sabbath itself). This 14th day is a day of work and commerce, not a day of rest. See Mark 15:42-46; Luke 23:53-54; John 13:29.
Those who believe a switch to the universal Sabbath cycle came after the time of the Messiah and who believe the Jews (including Yahshua) were still keeping lunar sabbaths must explain why both Scripture and subsequent history show the contrary.
The Babylonian calendar was lunisolar with years consisting of 12 months. Counting from the new moon of every month, the Babylonians celebrated every seventh day as a "holy-day," also called an "evil day." On every seventh day offerings were made to a different deity. Merodach and Ishtar on the 7th, Nergal and Ninlil on the 14th, Shamash and Sin on the 21st, and Enki and Mah on the 28th. Tablets from the sixth-century BC reigns of Cyrus the Great and his son Cambyses give validity to these dates. The Babylonian calendar had a lunation of 29 or 30 days, containing three seven-day weeks, and a final week of nine or ten days which ended the continuous seven-day cycle. The remarkable similarities with the Babylonian calendar give us great insight into the origin of this doctrine and its error.
Being idolators, the Babylonians perverted the true Sabbath Yahweh instituted at creation. Such perversion has continued throughout Biblical history. Nimrod, the great-grandson of Noah and founder of Babylon, is one of the earliest examples. His perversions can still be seen today. In Genesis 10:10 we read the account of Nimrod: "And the beginning of his kingdom was Babel, and Erech, and Accad, and Calneh, in the land of Shinar." Strong’s Concordance says that "Babel" or "Babylon" means confusion through a mixing. Ancient Babylon mixed truth with error, which is strongly condemned in the Word of Yahweh.
Lunar sabbatarians would have us believe that the pagans corrupted only the nature of Sabbath worship, not the actual weekly cycles supposedly based upon the moon. Ancient Babylonians worshiped the moon ("Asherah") as part of their shabbatum veneration. This fact strongly suggests that they also perverted the weekly cycle to complement their devotion to the moon.
Again we ask, is there any place in Scripture saying that the weekly cycle is established by the sun or moon? If lunar sabbaths are truly based in Scripture, why would we have to search all over its pages with a magnifying glass to find even a hint of them? When something so simple as the continuous weekly cycle is made so complicated, then something is instinctively wrong. When a doctrine lacks scriptural evidence and must be explained with suppositions, human explanations and a host of forced or twisted Scripture, then it is always suspect.
Ha Satan is working with all power and lying wonders to deceive even the very elect (Matthew 24:24). His greatest desire is to cause those who are under "the sign of the covenant"— the Sabbath—to become confused about that "sign" and turn away from the covenant. If he cannot get them to keep Sunday in place of the true seventh-day Sabbath, then He will be satisfied just to have them turn to "floating sabbaths" as taught by lunar sabbatarians. Either way the true Sabbath is violated and the Adversary is pleased.
Scripture warns us of Babylon’s influence "And upon her forehead was a name written, mystery, Babylon the great, the mother of harlots and abominations of the earth," Revelation 17.
The Start of the Modern Lunar Sabbath
Various Verses Vindicated
Ps. 81:3: “Blow up the trumpet in the new moon, in the time appointed, on our solemn feast day.” The reference in Psalm 81:3 is to the Feast of Trumpets on the first of the seventh month, the only festival that falls on a new moon; the verse calls it a solemn feast day because it is Trumpets, not because it is a new moon. Other versions split the verse and speak of two different observances: the new moon and a separate feast day:
The Interlinear NIV Hebrew-English Old
Amos 8:5: “When will the new moon be gone, that we may sell corn? and the Sabbath, that we may set forth wheat, making the ephah small, and the shekel great, and falsifying the balances by deceit?” Is this passage saying the new moon is a Sabbath with no commerce allowed? As shown, work on the new moon was prescribed by Yahweh and therefore the new moon cannot be a non-labor Sabbath. Amos 8:5 is likely speaking of the Feast of Trumpets, a Feast that is also a new moon day. On a Feast high day no work or commerce is to be performed.
Another possibility centers on the Hebrew. Because the Hebrew word translated "new moon" here (chodesh) can also mean "month," some scholars (going back 2,000 years) have interpreted Amos as referring to a harvest month: Kimchi and Ben Melech interpret it of the month of harvest, when the poor found what to eat in the fields; when they gleaned there they got a sufficiency of bread, and so had no need to buy corn [Lev. 23:22]; and hence these rich misers, who hoarded up the grain, are represented as wishing the harvest month were over that they might sell their grain to the poor, having had no demand for it during that month. (John Gill, Exposition of the Entire Bible, Amos 8:5 note) “Month” is how the Douay-Rheims version translates “new moon.”
Regarding sacrifices, if every new moon day is
a Sabbath then we should find the command to make the Sabbath
offering on new moon days as well. Yet, no such command is given