The Sabbath More Fully Lesson 8: Timing and Calculating the Holy Days
Calculating the Weekly Sabbath: Luni-Solar or Seventh Day of the Week?


It seems such a simple question: how do you calculate the weekly Sabbaths? Yet it is far from simple. Since the devil is working to divide and conquer among Sabbath-keeping, Torah-following believers, we should come to expect differing doctrines on all important subjects. The teaching of which day is the Seventh-day Sabbath is no exception. In fact, there are two points of view regarding determining which day is the weekly Sabbath:

  • Viewpoint #1 - The weekly Sabbath is calculated from counting a seven-day cycle through the weekdays – Sabbath is the Seventh-day of the Week or “Saturday” (as it is currently called)
  • Viewpoint #2 - The weekly Sabbath is calculated from the lunar phases – Sabbath is "luni-solar" (calculated by the phases of the moon) – not “Saturday”. In this view, counting from the sighting of the new moon, the eighth, fifteenth, twenty-second and twenty-ninth day of the lunar phases are the weekly Sabbaths

To begin, let us look at Genesis 2:1-3 and Exodus 20:8-11. Here God gives us details and instructions about the weekly Sabbath. To determine which day is the Sabbath, we must submit both concepts (luni-solar Sabbath versus "Saturday" Sabbath) to the microscope of the Word. For, the true weekly Sabbath will adhere to ALL the Biblical teachings about the weekly Sabbath. For the purpose of this study, we will specifically look for Sabbath timing details (which are set apart in bold in the following verse and summarized in a list below).

Genesis 2:1-3 - "Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. And on the seventh day God ended His work which He had made; and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had made. And God blessed the Seventh day, and sanctified it: because that in it He had rested from all His work which God created and made."

Exodus 20:8-11 - "Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work: But the seventh day is the Sabbath of the LORD thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates: 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."

From these Bible passages, we find the following timing details:

  • God created the first Sabbath on earth as a commemoration of the day He rested from His 6-day work of creating the world.
  • The first weekly Sabbath fell on the Seventh-day of the Earth's first week.
  • The weekly Sabbath follows six days of labor
  • The weekly Sabbath is also called "the Seventh-day" Sabbath because it consistently falls on the Seventh-day of a repeating cycle.

Is the Seventh-day lunar? The Bible teaches that the holy days are to be calculated by the heavens. Consider Genesis 1:14. "And God 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."

The Seventh-day Sabbath must consistently follow a seven-day cycle. But, there isn’t always a seven-day cycle between moon phases. Let us assume that the eighth, fifteenth, twenty-second and twenty-ninth day of the lunar month are Sabbaths as we verify whether or not these days would allow the Sabbath to always be a consistent count of seven days:

  • SABBATH: first quarter moon (eighth day no matter which weekday this day falls on) - 9th day (1st day of the week) - 10th day - 11th day - 12th day - 13th day - 14th day (6th day of the week)
  • SABBATH: full moon (fifteenth day of the lunar month) - 16th day (1st day of the week) - 17th day - 18th day - 19th day - 20th day - 21st day (6th day of the week)
  • SABBATH: waning quarter moon (twenty-second day of the lunar month) - 23rd day (1st day of the week) - 24th day - 25th day - 26th day - 27th day - 28th day (6th day of the week)
  • SABBATH: conjunction (dark moon) (twenty-ninth day of the lunar month) - this week will not be seven days, because we must wait for the new moon sighting (first visible sliver as the Hebrew term for New Moon is Rosh Hodesh - translated best as "renewed moon")... and then count out the days to the first quarter moon, or eighth day of the new lunar cycle. This final week of the lunar month is 9 days in length, as we will demonstrate on the following calendar (for clarity):

In the luni-solar construct, the last week of the lunar cycle is always longer than seven days. This time discrepancy is accounted for with a "gap theory" which accounts these days between the conjunction (dark of the moon) and the new moon sighting as "dead days," or days which don't count. Some of the luni-solar proponents have explained that this is a shadow picture of the jubilee. While this sounds very plausible at the outset, this teaching is not Scripturally sound for the following reasons:

  • The Bible makes a point to call the Sabbath the "Seventh-day" time and again. Never once does it suggest that a Sabbath can have followed a 9-day week cycle.
  • The clear Scriptural injunction for how to calculate Pentecost proves that the Seventh-day Sabbath must always be a consistent count of seven-days.

In Leviticus 23:15-16, we find the specific instructions for how Pentecost (also called the Feast of Weeks) is to be calculated. "And ye shall count unto you from the morrow after the Sabbath, from the day that ye brought the sheaf of the wave offering; seven Sabbaths shall be complete: Even unto the morrow after the seventh Sabbath shall ye number fifty days..."

Thus, Pentecost is to be calculated as being BOTH 7 Sabbaths AND 50 days. Now, if the luni-solar belief is Scriptural, that the last Sabbath of the lunar cycle can be a part of a 9-day week, it should be possible to calculate only 7 Sabbaths for Pentecost and still have it come out to 50 days. Let's see whether it is possible to get 7 Sabbaths AND only 50 days with the luni-solar "gap theory," at the end of each month. Remember, Pentecost is in the third Biblical month, and is exactly seven Sabbaths and fifty days from First Fruits, falls during the Week of Unleavened Bread. Additionally, the Bible indicates that Pentecost is always the "morrow after the seventh Sabbath" (Leviticus 23:16)

  • First lunar week = seven days - total days = 7 - SABBATH 1
  • Second lunar week = seven days - total days = 14- SABBATH 2
  • Third lunar week = seven days - total days = 21- SABBATH 3
  • Fourth lunar week = nine days - total days = 30- SABBATH 4
  • Fifth lunar week = seven days - total days = 37- SABBATH 5
  • Sixth lunar week = seven days - total days = 44- SABBATH 6
  • Seventh lunar week = seven days - total days = 51- SABBATH 7
  • Day after the seventh Sabbath - total days = 52- THAT'S 52 DAYS TO PENTECOST - NOT 50!

The only way to get seven Sabbaths and only 50 days in the count to Pentecost is to never break the cycle of consistently counting the Sabbath as the Seventh-day. There can never be a break in the seven-day week count and still get only 50 days.

  • First calendar week = seven days - total days = 7 - SABBATH 1
  • Second calendar week = seven days - total days = 14- SABBATH 2
  • Third calendar week = seven days - total days = 21- SABBATH 3
  • Fourth calendar week = seven days - total days = 28- SABBATH 4
  • Fifth calendar week = seven days - total days = 35- SABBATH 5
  • Sixth calendar week = seven days - total days = 42- SABBATH 6
  • Seventh calendar week = seven days - total days = 49- SABBATH 7
  • Day after the seventh Sabbath - total days = 50- THAT'S 50 DAYS TO PENTECOST - Exactly as it says in Leviticus 23:15-16!

This lack of a consistent seven-day cycle is not the only issue to consider regarding the lunar Sabbath teaching. Consider the following additional Biblical discrepancies:

Discrepancy #1: The Moon was created on the 4th day of the week of Creation

If we want to understand weekly Sabbath-keeping today, we must study the original model of Sabbath found in the week of Creation. In so doing, we find that the first day of the first week was NOT the first day of the first month. How so? Because a month is designated by the phases of the moon; but there wasn't a moon from which to designate, on the first day of the first week. Genesis 1:14-19 says, “And God 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 God 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 God 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 God saw that it was good. And the evening and the morning were the fourth day.”

If the moon indicated the weekly Sabbath, it could not have been created on the 4th day! The Seventh-day Sabbath would then have to be called the third day!

Discrepancy #2: Christ did not keep the Sabbath by the lunar phases

The general claim of lunar sabbath adherents is that the lunar sabbath understanding was discarded during the Babylonian captivity, and was then replaced by the Sabbath of the day of Saturn (i.e., saturday) at that time. Thus, lunar sabbatarians would have us to believe that the remnant who returned to the Land of Israel were keeping a false sabbath.

This would then continue to be the case in the first century, when Messiah came in the flesh. We find, however, that Yahshua kept the same Sabbath day holy as did His fellow Jews about Him, (Matt 12:1-12/Mark 2:23-28; Mark 1:21; 3:1-4; 6:2; etc.), and we know that He came as one "under the Law," and that He never sinned (i.e., transgressed the Law). Therefore, the Sabbath kept by the Jews in the first century C.E. is the same Sabbath from creation codifed at Sinai.

If luni-solar Sabbath is true, than the 8th, 15th, 22nd,and 29th of the Biblical month will always be Sabbaths. But this is not so. Yahshua made clay to heal a man's eyes on the weekly Sabbath. And on that occasion, the Seventh-day Sabbath fell on the 23rd day of the month (a complete impossibility to the lunar Sabbatarian beliefs):

John records that Yahshua stood up on the last day of the Feast, the Great Day, and cried out to the crowd. This "last day, that great day" is the eighth day of the Feast of the 7th month and occurs on the 22nd day of Tishri (Leviticus 23:34-37). The next day (John 8:2), Jesus came again to the Temple early in the morning. After His discourse with the scribes and Pharisees, He healed a man who was blind from birth. John recorded that "it was the Sabbath day when Jesus made the clay, and open his eyes." (John 9:14). This evidence shows that the 23rd day of Tishri was a Sabbath that year.

Discrepancy #3: The Moon itself does not consistently adhere to the 1st, 8th, 15th, 22nd and 29th!

It is possible to have a full moon on the 12th day rather than the 15th. In such a case, the seven-day cycle is lost between the 8th lunar day and the 15th lunar day. An example of a possible 12th day Full Moon:

  • If... the 28th Dark moon conjunction occurs at 2 a.m. (i.e., approximately 8 hours into the 28th day)
  • And... the 29th is a continued dark moon
  • And... the 30th is a continued dark moon
  • Then... the 1st fresh crescent seen at 7:30 p.m. (65.5 hours after dark moon conjunction)
  • And... the 12th Full moon proper occurs at approximately 8 p.m. [being 13.73 days (approx. 330 hours) from conjunction--2 hours into the 12th day from the fresh crescent]

It is also possible for the full moon to fall on the 16th day of the lunar month. An example of a possible 16th day Full Moon:

  • If... the 30th Dark moon conjunction occurs at 5:30 a.m.
  • Then... the 1st fresh crescent seen at 7:30 p.m. (14 hours after dark moon conjunction)
  • Then... the 16th Full moon proper occurs at approximately 11:30 p.m. [15.8 days (approx. 378 hours) from conjunction--5.5 hours into the 16th day from the fresh crescent]

Discrepancy #4: Worship on the Lunar Phases is actually an ancient PAGAN practice!

One of the biggest reasons luni-solar proponents often give for believing weekly Sabbaths are determined by the moon phases is that the Gregorian calendar was created by Pope Gregory. The papal doctrines are the polluted "wine" of Babylon - no question. And there is no question that Pope Gregory DID indeed remove 10 dates from the calendar in 1582. But, does that mean that Pope Gregory somehow affected the Sabbath itself? NO! The order of the week days didn't change one iota by simply re-dating the days. The first day (which the pagans have named "Sunday") is still followed by the second day (Monday), and the third day (Tuesday), which was followed by the fourth day (Wednesday), followed by the fifth day (Thursday), followed by the sixth day (Friday), which was still followed by the same Seventh-day. See the calendar below for clarification of what Pope Gregory did to the calendar and why this change did not affect the weekly Sabbath count.

The Seventh-day was the Sabbath before Pope Gregory removed ten dates, and it was still the Sabbath after he removed them. It is not following a papal calendar to honor the seven-day count which started at Creation, simply because a calendar change took place in 1582... which didn't even affect the Seventh-day Sabbath count. So, it isn't pagan to keep the Seventh-day of the week. It really has nothing to do with Gregory! The Sabbath was before his changes, throughout and continued after in an unbroken cycle of seven.

But, lunar phase worship IS rooted in an ancient pagan practice. Worship on the lunar phases was anciently associated with worship of the “moon god” “Allah was the proper name of the moon-deity of the Arabs before Muhammad brought his brand of religion to them. They worshipped hundreds of idols in a big black cube, the Ka'aba, in Mecca. Today, they believe "Allah" resides inside this same black box, calling the Kaaba the "house of Allah". This term, Allah, was adopted because of its "name recognition" among the common population. Because the previously Pagan Arabs worshipped the moon diety they called Allah, you will often notice that the primary Islamic symbol is the crescent moon, placed above their places of worship in a similar way Christians use the cross.” Lew White, www.fossilizedcustoms.com/moon.html

The idol of the moon "god," pictured below, shows the moon in its new sliver phase on the chest (facing front). This is because in ancient middle eastern pagan practices the moon phase dates were considered to be the sacred day of Sin, called "Allah" later.

Discrepancy #5: There are Biblical Exceptions Proving That Specific Lunar Phase Dates Aren't Sabbaths!

In order for the 8th, 15th, 22nd and 29th days of the lunar cycle to be weekly Sabbaths, it must be provable that they are Sabbaths EVERY time, without exceptions. Yet, there are two significant exceptions on which these days are clearly NOT Sabbaths:

  • As was demonstrated above, the 23rd of Tishri (the seventh Biblical month) was the Seventh-day Sabbath when Yahshua healed the blind man's eyes, not the 22nd as is proposed by luni-solar adherents.
  • Also, the 15th of Abib is NEVER a Seventh-day Sabbath, according to the Scripture, as we will demonstrate below.

The fifteenth day of the month Abib is also referred to as the first day of Unleavened Bread. (Abib is the first month of the Biblical year, which begins sometime in April on a calendar.) Now, according to the luni-solar Sabbath theory, the 15th day of the lunar month is always a Seventh-day Sabbath. But, in the month Abib, the Bible makes it plain that the 15th is NOT a Sabbath. How so? Consider the statute stipulations for food preparation on the Seventh-day Sabbath compared with that of the statutes for food preparation on the fifteenth of Abib.

The statutes are very clear about prohibiting all food preparation on the weekly Sabbaths. It was even against the Torah (Hebrew for "instructions," also known as the "Law" of YHWH) to kindle a cooking fire on the Sabbath day. All food preparation for the weekly Sabbath was to be completed on the sixth day, also known as the "Preparation Day" for the Sabbath. This is stated in the following Scriptures:

Exodus 16:22-23 - "And it came to pass, that on the sixth day they gathered twice as much bread, two omers for one man... And he (Moses) said unto them, This is that which the LORD hath said, Tomorrow is the rest of the holy Sabbath unto the LORD: bake that which ye will bake today (on the sixth day), and seethe that ye will seethe and that which remaineth over lay up for you to be kept until the morning."

Exodus 35:2-3 - "Six days shall work be done, but on the Seventh day there shall be to you an holy day, a Sabbath of rest to the LORD: whosoever doeth work therein shall be put to death. Ye shall kindle no fire throughout your habitations upon the Sabbath day.

But, while it was plainly prohibited to cook upon the Seventh-day Sabbath, it was Biblically acceptable to prepare food on the 15th of Abib, which is the first day of Unleavened Bread - also known as an "annual Sabbath." This is stated in Exodus 12:15-16 - "Seven days shall ye eat unleavened bread; even the first day ye shall put away leaven out of your houses: for whosoever eateth leavened bread from the first day until the seventh day, that soul shall be cut off from Israel. And in the first day there shall be an holy convocation, and in the seventh day there shall be an holy convocation to you; no manner of work shall be done in them, save that which every man must eat, that only may be done of you."

The Seventh-day Sabbath is calculated differently than the annual Sabbaths. This distinction is given in Leviticus 23. Leviticus 23:1-4 - "And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, Concerning the feasts of the LORD, which ye shall proclaim to be holy convocations, even these are My Feasts. Six days shall work be done: but the Seventh day is the Sabbath of rest, an holy convocation; ye shall do no work therein: it is the Sabbath of the LORD in all your dwellings..."

After listing the Seventh-day Sabbath as the first of YHWH's "Feasts," there is a break in the thought before the annual Sabbaths are listed. The Bible continues to say, These are the feasts of the LORD, even holy convocations, which ye shall proclaim in their seasons."

Then, when we turn to the Psalm, we find that the "moon" was "appointed for seasons," (Psalm 104:19). Thus, the Seventh-day Sabbath is not among the "Feasts" of YHWH, which are determined by the moon. Just as was established at Creation, when the moon was made on the fourth day while Seventh-day Sabbath had come 3 days later, having started before the existence of any heavenly body, the Sabbath is a simple count of seven. It has continued unbroken from Creation. And it is still the weekly Sabbath today.

For More Information on this subject, visit the following websites: http://www.truthontheweb.org/shabbatu.htm, http://www.truthontheweb.org/losttime.htm and http://www.fossilizedcustoms.com/moon.htm


Studies on Calculating the Biblical Holy Days:

Calculating the Weekly Sabbath: Lunar or Seventh-week day
Calculating the Beginning of the Biblical Year
When are Passover and Unleavened Bread?
When are Firstfruits and Pentecost?
When is the Feast of Trumpets
When is the Day of Atonement?
When is the Feast of Tabernacles?


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