Lunar Shabbath Refuted by Scripture

B'ereshiyth (Gendesis) 1:14-19

In recent days I have been confronted with some thoughts on shabbath that I do not find supported anywhere in scripture. Several people who claim to be followers of Yahuwah tell me that the seventh-day shabbath is related to the phase of the moon and they refer to it as the "lunar sabbath." In other words, in order to know on what day of the week the shabbath really is you have to know when the new moon occurs and then count to the seventh day after that event.

I have searched scripture and find zero support for this doctrine.

Something that everyone should notice about scripture is its consistency throughout. The shabbath is always on the seventh day, Yahuwah is always the only Eloah, etc., and that consistency is an attribute of our Creator. He does NOT change (Mal’akiy 3:6). If He were wishy-washy then we could not believe anything He said. Yet everything He has said has happened exactly as He said it would, with the exception of those things that still lie in the future. Based on His past performance we can expect to see them happen exactly as He said too. The things He established at the creation still exist today, WITHOUT change.

In B’ereshiyth chapter one, Elohiym started the creation effort on Day One. In that chapter the sequence of days was continued though the sixth day, and then in chapter two we are told that Yahuwah rested on the seventh day, proclaimed that seventh day as a time out (or intermission) from work, and set it aside as a hallowed day of rest. The day of rest applied not only to Himself but to all of mankind also. Seven is the scriptural number of completion, and the creation was completed in seven days, so that seven days comprised a "complete" week. That established the seven-day week and it is the only seven-day event we know of in the history of mankind. There is nothing else in the natural world that has a seven day sequence of events.

He did not call the day "shabbath" at that time either. He merely said that He blessed it and set it aside (sanctified) as a day of rest. Shabbath literally means a time-out or intermission, and that is exactly what the day is. We are supposed to work for six days and accomplish whatever we need to accomplish, and rest on the seventh day (Shemot 20:8-11; 31:13-17; 35:1-2, Dabariym 5:12-16, etc.).

Now take careful note that the day count started from the beginning of creation and not at some time determined by a phase of the moon. In fact, the sun and the moon do not even appear until the fourth day, so it obviously played no part in determining which day He hallowed. So the chronological sequence of the week was set at creation, prior to the appearance of the sun and moon, and has not been changed since then.

The next mention of a day of rest after the creation is in Shemot 16:23. Here Mosheh tells the people to gather food that day but not the next. Then he goes on to say that in verse 26, "Six days you shall gather it but on the seventh day, which is a shabbath, there will be none." So the sixth day was the day they "prepared" for shabbath and the seventh day IS the shabbath. There is no mention of any phase of the moon in setting this day.

Also take note that He just declared that the seventh day as the shabbath without saying anything about how to determine the start of the week. Now if the shabbath were to be calculated by the appearance of the new moon (every 29.53 days), the six days of work would never be consistent. Instead in the last week of the month people would work for some number of days until the new moon, then count seven days and rest. For the rest of that month the sequence would remain intact, but then at the end of that month and the start of the next month, it would once again be out of kilter and they would work more than six days prior to the next shabbath.

That seventh day has remained the same in Ibriy history and custom over the millennia and has never been lost. (For detailed inspection of that statement, see the article, "The Lost Shabbath?" below.)

The Ibriy knew a seventh day shabbath and also other days that were treated as shabbath even though they fell on other days of the week. Those "other shabbaths" are commanded by Yahuwah as "set times" for certain activities, such as festivals and specified days (Yom Kippur, for instance). Those events are determined by the day of the month on which they occur and not by a weekly chronology. So here the phase of the moon does have every thing to do with the day. (As a matter of fact the day of the new moon is sometimes counted as a shabbath in and of itself.) These shabbaths that occurred as a result of being part of a festival are called "high shabbaths." An example of that is Passover. It always occurs on the fourteenth day of the first month. That first month is determined by the sighting of the first new moon after the vernal equinox.

Now let us look at the impalement of our Savior Yahushua and when it occurred.

As the Passover Lamb, He had to be killed on the fourteenth day of the first month and so He was. That was ordained at the exodus of the people from Mitsrayim (Shemot 12) and I don’t think I will get any argument from anybody about that fact. But what day of the week did that Passover fall on?

  • He was "cut off in the middle of the week."

  • He had to be buried around sundown because the next day after Passover starts the festival of Unleavened Bread and is a "high day" and therefore a shabbath.

  • He said that He would be in the heart of the earth for three days and three nights (sign of Yonah and 72 hours).

The women watched to see where He was buried and then went home to keep the shabbath (Markos 15), which was the "high day" (Yahuchanan 19) of the first day of the Festival of Unleavened Bread. After that shabbath was past (fifth day of the week), the women bought spices to anoint His body (sixth day of the week) and rested on the regular seventh-day shabbath. Then at the break of dawn on the first day they went to the tomb where they thought His body lay. They could not have bought those spices on the shabbath (and remember that the day starts at sundown in their society) so they waited until AFTER the shabbath of the first day of the festival, which was a "high day," to buy those spices. Then they had to wait again until after the regular weekly shabbath to go to the tomb. It is pretty sure they would not have found a merchant open and doing business before dawn on the first day from whom they could have bought those spices.

  • He was risen around sundown 72 hours after He was buried. He was then seen in the garden early on the first day of the week AFTER He was risen.

So counting back we see that for Him to have already been risen on early on the first day (as scripture says), He had to buried at least three days before that and that day falls on the fourth day of the week (middle of the week).

So the day of the week of His death and the day of His rising are well established in its chronology of the week. Even those people who erroneously think He arose ON the first day around dawn know when the first day really is, as it has not changed over the millennia either.

For the doubters who think these people who wrote those words of scripture were mixed up about which day it was, remember that Yahushua IS the Creator and He surely knew exactly what day it was. He made it a point to do things on shabbath that violated the rabbinical restrictions that had been illegally placed on that day.

There has been no change in the succession of the days of the week since that time, either scripturally, historically, or in any other way. The seventh day today is STILL the seventh day of scripture, and it occurs in the regular sequence of seven days continuously, as established in B’ereshiyth chapter one and two, without the new moon ever being taken into account.

Now some other people, notably that group of bigots who style themselves as "Christian Identity," believe that they can keep the shabbath any time they so desire, which is almost as bad as attempting to change the day to the first day. Their reasoning is that since sunset occurs at a different time every day it is too difficult to determine the exact time of sunset so they cannot know when the shabbaths start and stop. They instead pick noon as the time the day starts and stops. Of course there is absolutely zero support for that idea in scripture. Besides that, they start the day at noon by the clock. That means when we are in daylight savings time that their day is an hour different that at other times of the year.

Determining the correct time of noon by the position of the sun is just as difficult as determining the correct time of sunset by the position of the sun, so the only difference in their method is that they are not in obedience to Yahuwah."

Then there are also those that say, "One day in seven." This is a flagrant attempt to rationalize and justify the observance of the first day, the day they call Sunday, as the "Christian Sabbath" and the "day of worship." Yet scripture says nothing about any one day being a "day of worship." In scripture we are cautioned to worship Yahuwah EVERY day, and to rest on the seventh day.

Further proof that the seventh day shabbath cannot possibly be determined in accordance with the lunar theory is found in Wayiqra (Leviticus) 23:15-16 (below).

  • Wayiqra 23:15-16 And you shall count for yourselves from the day after the shabbath, from the day that you brought the omer of the wave offering, seven shabbaths shall be completed. 16 Count fifty days to the day after the seventh shabbath. Then you shall offer a new tribute to Yahuwah.

Take note that this day that is celebrated after seven shabbaths is the day commonly called Pentecost. It is the fiftieth day after the wave offering mentioned and the word Pentecost literally means fifty. In order to get to that day you must count seven shabbaths. If the lunar shabbath theory is correct then the number of days between seven shabbaths would be more than fifty. A month is actually variable, but the average time is 29.53 days. So if the first shabbath of the lunar month always occurred on the seventh day of that month after the new moon, then the last shabbath would always occur on the twenty-eighth of the month. That leaves almost two days before the next new moon. To get to this festival by counting seven shabbaths those almost two days have to be included and the time from the wave offering to Pentecost would be on average 52 days instead of the fifty stated in scripture.

If you keep any other day than the seventh day from sundown to sundown as shabbath, as we know it today, then you are in violation of the word of Yahuwah and as stiff-necked and rebellious as were the sons of Yisra’el during the exodus and will face the same results. He gave us the day as an everlasting covenant (see below) and it is up to us to honor and keep it as He commanded. If you do not do so, you are not in obedience to Him and you are none of His.

  • Shemot 31:12-17 And Yahuwah spoke to Mosheh saying, 13 "Speak also to the sons of Yisra'el saying, 'Surely My shabbaths you shall keep for it is a sign between Me and you throughout your generations that you may know that I am Yahuwah who sanctifies you. 14 You shall keep the shabbath therefore, for it is sacred to you. Everyone who profanes it shall surely be put to death, for whoever does any work on it that person shall be cut off from among his people. 15 Work shall be done for six days but the seventh is the shabbath of rest, sacred to Yahuwah. Whoever does any work on the shabbath day he shall surely be put to death. 16 Therefore the sons of Yisra'el shall keep the shabbath to observe the shabbath throughout their generations as an everlasting covenant. 17 It is a sign between Me and the sons of Yisra'el forever, for in six days Yahuwah made the skies and the earth and on the seventh day He rested and was refreshed.'"

Related articles which you may find to be of interest.

The Lost Shabbath?
Rome's Challenge
The Shabbath. Saturday?
The Shabbath Day of Yahuwah
When Does the Shabbath Start?
True Shabbath in the Languages of the World
The Shabbath Over the Centuries
Shabbath References in Scripture
Week Chart of the Shabbath

C.F. Castleberry