Calendar Wars among Jewish Scholars have been going on for centuries. There are many different calendars used by Judaism such Hillel’s Calendar, The Lunar Calendar, The Hanochian Calendar, The Levitical Calendar, The Hekhalot Calendar, The Jubillee Calendar, the Aviv Moon Calendar—the lists and debates go on and on. If ANYONE and I mean ANYONE comes declaring that their calendar calculations are the correct one, I normally tell them to get in line.
When the Northern Kingdom of Israel and the Southern Kingdom of Judah broke their covenant with God one of the resulting curses was that they would be exiled to nations where they could not obey the Torah. In other words, because of Israel broke the terms of the covenant they lost their covenant land grant and their descendants where scattered to the four corners of the earth. Shabbat or Sabbath is a sign of the covenant God extended to Israel. To this day neither kingdom, Northern Kingdom of Ephraim or the Southern Kingdom of Judah, has ever been fully restored.
It is a noble and righteous desire to want to honor God. We feel that separation between us and him and in our zeal to restore that relationship we want to establish those things that we believe will help us make that connection with him again. Let me be clear on one point though, the outward of observance of the Sabbath (Shabbat) and the Feasts of Israel (Moedim)without understanding and walking in the covenant relationship with God is an abomination, “Stop bringing me your meaningless gifts; the incense of your offerings disgusts me! As for your celebrations of the new moon and the Sabbath and your special days for fasting--they are all sinful and false. I want no more of your pious meetings.” (Isaiah 1:13)
To keep Shabbat and the other appointed times without walking in covenant loyalty to God is similar to having an unfaithful wife that literally has sex with other men while her husband is away, but when he comes home she asks her husband, “What are we doing for our Anniversary?” I mean really? Why Bother? To me, this is the symbolic context of God’s condemnation of Israel in the above referenced scripture. What is the value of celebrating the Anniversary when in all reality there is no real love, honor, and loyalty from the wife—in this case Israel?
Where are we at?
God has extended an invitation to come to him so that a covenant relationship may be extended. An invitation to come to the place where a covenant can be extended is not the same thing as having the covenant extended. Upon coming to the Messiah, God can extend a covenant to us which entails a new point of reference, a covenant land grant, and the establishment of the ordinances or cycles that are involved in establishing a covenant kingdom here upon the earth. The Sabbath and the other Appointed Times (Passover, Shavuot, Sukkot, etc) are just such ordinances because they involve a people who have entered into covenant with God appearing at his throne to learn from, pay homage to, and establish the commandments of the King in their covenant families and land.
If anyone supplicates to the Father and obtains a witness that they should observe Shabbat then I would say go and do what you are commanded to do. I myself keep Shabbat out of my tradition, but I am under no illusion that when things are again set in order that what I think may be the day of Shabbat may turn out to be at some other time than what tradition dictates.
My suggestion would be to learn, rehearse, and use God’s appointed times to teach our families their covenant Identity as Israel and the fulfillment of these times both past and future by Messiah (Christ). There are many things that we are unable to perform according to God’s instructions without a covenant, a covenant land grant, an Altar, and a Temple to perform them in. Instead of focusing on endless debates of the when and where of Shabbat or other appointed times, it would seem wisdom to seek to place ourselves in a position so that God may extend to us a covenant just as he did ancient Israel.
There are many things yet to come forth regarding the ancient of days. While we have bits and pieces regarding the knowledge, ordinances, and cycles of the celestial bodies that Abraham had there is much being kept from us because of wickedness and unbelief. Rending the veil of unbelief (a Hebraic idiomatic expression) starts by turning back to God, embracing his commandments, and creating a place for him to come to.
There is a great promise extended to Israel even in our scattered condition:
“In the future (latter days), when you experience all these blessings and curses I have listed for you, and when you are living among the nations (gentiles) to which the LORD your God has exiled you, take to heart all these instructions.” (Deuteronomy 30:1)
God revealed to Moses that Israel would not be faithful in keeping his instructions. Moses knew that we would be scattered to the ends of the earth. We would be found living among nations that did not know the God of Israel and in conditions where we would forget his covenant instructions that he not only gave to all Israel that stood at the foot of Mount Sinai, but to all their future generations yet unborn. Realizing this predicament God revealed:
“If at that time you and your children return to the LORD your God, and if you obey with all your heart and all your soul all the commands I have given you today, then the LORD your God will restore your fortunes. He will have mercy on you and gather you back from all the nations where he has scattered you.” (Deuteronomy 30: 2-3)
This promise that God revealed to Moses is the backbone of the Great and Marvelous Work wherein God will remember his promises he made to the Fathers and restore the House of Israel.
“Even though you are banished to the ends of the earth, the LORD your God will gather you from there and bring you back again. The LORD your God will return you to the land that belonged to your ancestors, and you will possess that land again. Then he will make you even more prosperous and numerous than your ancestors! The LORD your God will change your heart and the hearts of all your descendants, so that you will love him with all your heart and soul and so you may live! (Deuteronomy 30:4-6)