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The weekly Sabbath observed by the Sabbatarians is named the “seventh-day Sabbath.” It is so called because it is the seventh day of a recurrent seven-day cycle. This cycle originated at the end of Creation Week, when God instituted the seventh day as holy (Genesis 2:3).
And the Lord instructed the Israelites to observe the seventh-day Sabbath just after they left Egypt. He also supported it by controlling the way manna fell during the week (Exodus 16). The manna came down every day except on Sabbath. And the Sabbath became preserved in the Hebrew calendar. The Jews have been keeping that periodic seventh day ever since that time.
While the seventh-day Sabbath falls every seventh-day, the lunar Sabbath resets it’s cycle on the lunar cycle (approximately 29.53 days). Meaning after the new moon day (either 1 day or 2), they’ll begin a new weekly cycle and rest the seventh-day until the end of the current lunar cycle. In today’s calendar keeping the Seventh-Day would mean keeping the Sabbath on the Seventh-Day of the week (Saturday), while keeping the lunar Sabbath would be observed different days of the week each month (Sunday, Monday… etc.).
Other notable differences are that Seventh-Day Sabbath keepers keep the Sabbath day in accordance with the creation days, during the evening and daylight hours (Genesis 1). Lunar Sabbatarians, on the other hand, just observe Sabbath during the day light hours.
Is there Scriptural basis for the Lunar Sabbath?
Lunar Sabbatarians support their stand of building the weekly Sabbath on the lunar month by quoting verses such as Genesis 1:14 which says:
“Let there be lights in the expanse of the sky to separate the day from the night. They will serve as signs for festivals and for days and years.” (HCSB)
The Hebrew word translated as “festivals” is moedim, a word that is significant to lunar Sabbatarians. Moedim is a plural noun (#4150 in Strong’s Hebrew Concordance). Translators call it as “seasons” or “times.” And correctly, it signifies “appointed seasons” or “appointed times,” pointing to the festivals of God, or feast days. Christians call these festivals “holy days.” Lunar Sabbatarians, looking at Genesis 1:14, rightly say that the sun, particularly the moon, have a part in setting the seasons, the appointed feast days or God’s holy days.
Leviticus 23:1-4 presents these festival days (moedim). The Lord said to Moses:
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. These are the feasts of the Lord, even holy convocations, which ye shall proclaim in their seasons. (KJV)
Lunar Sabbatarians’ claim that the weekly Sabbath in Leviticus 23:3, is shown in the middle of the presentation of the moedim, the appointed times (verses 2 and 4). And they claim that the addition of the weekly Sabbath (verse 3), shows that the weekly Sabbath is tied to the moedim. Further, they add that the moon in Genesis 1:14, is the foundation for deciding the weekly Sabbath. And it is a foundation in deciding the arrival of the holy days. Thus, Lunar Sabbatarians claim that the moon, which decides when a new month begins, also decides when the weekly Sabbaths starts.
The Annual Holy Days (feasts or Sabbaths): one cycle
But lunar Sabbatarians’ dismiss the Scriptural fact that God identifies two different cycles in determining Sabbaths. For He created an annual cycle and He also created a weekly one. These two are distinct and separate cycles. The annual cycle, that determines the appointed feasts (moedim), is tied with the moon (Genesis 1:14) which in Hebrew is khodesh (Strong’s #2320). The annual cycle starts on a new moon, the one starting the Hebrew month of Abib.
The fall of most moedim or festivals, is set by the new moon. “The Passover to the Lord comes in the first month, at twilight on the fourteenth day of the month. The Festival of Unleavened Bread to the Lord is on the fifteenth day of the same month” (Leviticus 23:4-6 HCSB).
We read of khodesh as “month.” Khodesh is mentioned ten times in Leviticus 23, every time in relation to deciding the day on which the moedim come. This emphasis on the new moon is consistent with Genesis 1:14 that the moon would “serve as signs for festivals.” Therefore, the fall of the annual “appointed feasts” is founded on the coming of new moons. This gives the start of the Hebrew lunar months.
The Weekly Sabbath: a second cycle
However, the fall of the seventh-day Sabbath is built on a second cycle. It is a different cycle. Significantly, in the account of the seventh-day Sabbath, the ideas of moedim and khodesh are not there at all. They are missing. For example, neither moedim (appointed feasts) nor khodesh (new moon) is mentioned in Leviticus 23:3
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.
Similarly, it is also missing in Genesis 2 which mentions God’s creation of the seventh-day Sabbath – the weekly time. In the following verse as well, neither the word moedim (appointed feasts) nor khodesh (new moon) is even mentioned once. “By the seventh day God completed His work that He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work that He had done. God blessed the seventh day and declared it holy, for on it He rested from His work of creation” (Genesis 2:2-3). This verse shows the cycle of the seventh day, not the coming of a new moon. Other verses that show “the seventh day” are Exodus 23:12; 31:15, 17; 34:21; 35:2; and Deuteronomy 5:13-14.
The Sabbath Commandment
In addition, khodesh and moedim are missing as well in the Sabbath commandment in the Ten Commandments which states: “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy: You are to labor six days and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. You must not do any work—you, your son or daughter, your male or female slave, your livestock, or the foreigner who is within your gates. For the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and everything in them in six days; then He rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and declared it holy” (Exodus 20:8-11)
In each of these vital passages relating to the weekly Sabbath, the word moedim is not present and is absent. This proves that the weekly Sabbath is not an “appointed feast” and therefore not part of the annual events. The feasts are set by a distinct and different cycle. Further, in these passages, the word khodesh is also absent. This proves that the new moon is not an aspect in deciding the coming of the seventh-day Sabbath.
Lunar Sabbatarians disregard the obvious truth that the Lord has instituted two separate cycles and with them, two different methods of determining the fall of Sabbaths. They use the method of counting the holy days—which at its main principal does involve the new moons to determine the occurrences of the weekly Sabbaths. But the Bible does not support the idea of using the same method for both cycles. Thus, the new moon and the lunar month are irrelevant in deciding which day the seventh-day Sabbath falls on.
In His service,