New Moons Part Three: The Reasons for the Season
Why did God institute the new moon observance? It sound strange and Jewish to most Christians, but God’s logic is above ours. God chose a dark time for several reasons.
It is first a time of darkness to show us that our darkness needs to be laid down to Jesus. Isaiah states beautifully the important godly principle of exchange: "Surely our griefs He himself bore, And our sorrows He carried…All of us like sheep have gone astray, Each of us has turned to his own way; But the [Father of Lights] has caused the iniquity [the darkness] of us all To fall on Him [Jesus]" (Isa. 53:4,6).
A sheep does not go astray unless it is part of the fold. This refers not only to our past but also to our wanderings once saved. And much of our dark straying from the Shepherd comes from our past: regrets that become fears and dreads for the future.
The Bible is full of analogies: dark to light, old to new, sin to righteousness. The old man is released at baptism to give way to the new. It becomes a continual process. Jesus said it is impossible to put new wine in old wineskins. The old leaven of sin gives way to Jesus' righteousness during the Feast of Unleavened Bread (I Cor. 5:7-8). In like manner the darkness of the moon at the first of the lunar month gives way to light.
Book V of the Psalms looks ahead to the newness of the Millennium. This division of the Psalms begins with Psalm 107. We read of "those who dwelt in darkness and in the shadow of death, Prisoners in misery and chains" (v. 10). The shadow cast over the new moon mirrors this shadow of death caused by sin. But Jesus "brought them out of darkness and the shadow of death And broke their bands apart" (v. 14).
As the dark time of the new moon comes, Jesus promises to "bring to light the things hidden in darkness and disclose the hidden motives of men's hearts" (I Cor. 4:5). He thus calls us "out of darkness into His marvelous light" so we can proclaim His "excellencies" (I Pet. 2:9).
The Sabbath is the day of excellence. And those who go even further to observe the new moons are showing that they are not satisfied with the status quo. They want more of Jesus. They want to release their darkness to Him in exchange for the light of His excellence.
Another important reason for the new moons could be expressed by asking a pointed question. How would you like for the wife you married to refuse to have sex with you? Would you think that she wanted to be intimate with her husband?
Sexual intimacy usually happens in the darkness of night. It is ideally a time of peace, quiet, closeness and sharing.
Jesus is the Bridegroom of the church. While we would have to compare this betrothal time to a serious dating period rather than the future marital intimacy, nonetheless Jesus wants to be intimate with His bride.
He never forces our will. He yearns however, as the Song of Solomon portrays, to know us intimately and have us know Him intimately.
For that reason He has established the new moon observance as a voluntary celebration rather than a commanded assembly. It is not a holy day where the church is ordered by our Supreme Commander to assemble and worship. It is nonetheless a statute of the fourth commandment to be observed voluntarily in the way each member chooses. Some choose to lay down their burdens to Jesus at their personal altar, and some categorically refuse to humble themselves to bow down before Jesus. Others reap the full benefit of defeating their pride by coming to the altar of God at the church to prostrate themselves before the King of Kings and their High Priest, Jesus.
Those who refuse to bow at all are in disobedience, since God expresses His perfect will in Isaiah 66:23. The place they bow down and the degree to which they humble themselves at that time depends on their free will.
A Test of Maturity and of Voluntary Surrender
God leaves it voluntary in order to see who will cling to Him in intimacy and humility. "My soul clings to You," said the man after God's own heart (Ps. 63:8; Acts 13:22). I like the way the KJV expresses this radical seeking after God: "My soul followeth hard after thee…" (Ps. 63:8).
The new moons help those who are children of God to become mature sons and daughters of God. The flesh is defeated so that we can be led by the Holy Spirit as true sons (Rom. 8:12-14).
Laying down false doctrines and childish ways at the new moon enables us to mature until we attain “to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ” (Eph. 4:13-14).
Psalm 119 shows how much David loved all of God's laws, even the statutes like the new moons. David spoke of the new moons when He told Jonathan, "Behold, tomorrow is the new moon, and I ought to sit down with the king…" (I Sam. 20:5). If Psalms 119, 42 and 63 are any indication, it is more than probable that David also kneeled down in intimacy with the King of Kings on that day.
While most in the Hebrew Scriptures did not have the kind of intimacy David had with Jesus, they did observe the new moons. The Shunammite woman's son responded to his mother when she wanted to go to see the man of God, Elisha. "Why will you go to him today? It is neither new moon nor sabbath" (II Kings 4:23). It is clear that faithful Israelites [believers] observed both the Sabbath and the new moons (I Chron. 23:31; II Chron. 2:4; 8:13; 31:3). It also clear that God ordained them for a future time as well (Isa. 66:23; Ezek. 45:17; 46:1,3,6).
Paul states categorically that he believed everything that was written in the Law and the Prophets (Acts 24:14). He said that he had "committed no offense against the Law of the Jews or against the temple or against Caesar" (Acts 25:8). A failure to observe the new moons would have made him a liar.
Too many Christians see anything Moses taught as some terrible burden we must at all costs avoid. Where is the burden of trading our sorrow for the joy of Jesus (Jer. 31:13) or exchanging our darkness for His light?
Back in the dark days of my computer experience I had an older PC that challenged my faith level. According to my mentors at the time it would often need to defragment whatever it had to defragment. I never quite understood. I did understand, however, that it was like our dreams at night. I would leave it to "defrag" at night every once in awhile.
My computer people at the time told me it was like our dream state. We sort out things in our state of reverie at night. Most of us would agree that our brains need sorting out from time to time. Our brains need sleep for a number of reasons, and this is one of them.
Notice it is in the nighttime that these periods of sorting out occur. In the case of my computer, it was the nighttime since the machine would not be in use and this pause time would allow for any fragmentation to be resolved. In the case of our sleep and dream state, God made the night for that reason. Our brains as well as our mind and emotions need that time of rest and recuperation. It is our dark nighttime for sorting things out in our brains.
The new moon is also the dark time of the month. We need to "defrag" or put together the fragments of our spiritual hearts in good order. God made this monthly sorting out time on purpose. He knew we would need renewal. He knew that He would bring to the minds of obedient believers past issues that would need to be turned over the Jesus. The darkness brings evil to light in us and allows God's light to shine on us.
Reaching for God's Hand
Darkness has many powerful symbolisms in the Bible. In pitch black darkness men grope around as blind men (Isa. 59:1-10). We have no control over darkness without Jesus and without the hand of our Father Love. Ever tried to get to the bathroom in total darkness? You have your hands out, feeling for something familiar. When God calls people out of spiritual darkness, they reach out to Him and His light.
The dark new moon pictures this kind of time. It is the appointed time for us to reach out for the hand of our Father Love to lead us out of any darkness that may affect us. No matter how dark Satan has made things, our Daddy will take us out of the darkness into His marvelous light. The new moon time is "reaching out to Daddy" time.
The hand of God has many aspects and purposes. We can call for His hand against our enemies. But the new moon is the time to call for the hand of rescue, the hand of comfort, the hand of compassion and the hand of the Potter to mold and shape us into His image. We are clay in His hand and we have a right to call out for the Potter's hand to take off any rough edges on His wheel and make us new (Jer. 18:3-6).
Pride can keep us from the Potter's hand at the time of the new moon. This appointed and anointed time is a test of humility. Not only may the religious crowd falsely accuse you of putting yourself under "that Jewish burden," but you also may seem foolish lying on your belly face down before an altar. But the "foolishness" of God contains more wisdom than the prideful, worldly kind (I Cor. 2:18-25).
While God never tempts, He does test the righteous (Jer. 20:12; 11:20; I Cron. 29:17): "The eyes of the [Eternal] move to and fro throughout the earth that He may strongly support those whose heart is completely His…" (II Chron. 16:9).
People love, and rightly so, the encouraging verse that says God has a hope and a future for us (Jer. 29:11). But the following verses get less attention: "Then you will call upon Me and come [to the altar at the appointed time] and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart" (Jer. 29:12-13).
How much do we want to be like our Father Love? How much do we desire to be intimate with our Bridegroom Jesus? To what extent will we go to get to know our God more?
One of our church members was a bit pressed for time at the new moon period last month. She was planning to stay at home and lay down her burdens to Jesus at her personal altar or place of prayer. She decided, however, to ask the Holy Spirit what she should do. He encouraged her to go to the church altar instead. He knew the experience would be more powerful at the appointed place as well as at the appointed time.
God has nevertheless given us free choice. We can receive as much light from Him as we choose. It depends on how much darkness we are willing to release to Jesus. It depends on where we are willing to go to have more of Jesus. God wants to know that we love Him more than anyone or anything else in this world.
He rewards us in this life and the next according to how much we show we want Him. He is pleased when Christians reject their traditions to keep His Sabbath and holy days. Each weekly Sabbath is a time to lay down to Jesus the cares and concerns of the week. The holy days also, especially the spring feasts, are times to lay down sins and burdens. But our Father is especially pleased when we observe to the fullest extent in our free will those times that are to some extent at least, "extra credit."
Teachers love to see students go above and beyond the required assignment. Our Teacher, the Holy Spirit, loves it when we do more than simply obey our Father when He commands us to come corporately for a church meeting on a Sabbath or holy day. When we come prepared to lay down our long-term burdens to Jesus at His altar at every new moon, He is greatly pleased. He doesn't love us any less if we don't, but He will reward us with great intimacy, freedom and victory in our lives. (CONTINUED: Part Four: An Offering to Jesus
Read More in this New Moon Series:
Part Three: The Reasons for the Season
Download the entire nine part series: Click HERE