The New Moon – Who Knew?
I had been reading the five books of Moses (Genesis through Deuteronomy) every year for five years and observing the Sabbath, Feasts and Festivals for five years. But as many times as I’ve read the Bible and practiced the Feasts, Yehovah never fails to show me new insights every time. This year has been no exception.
I had signed up to speak on the portion of scripture called “Phineas,” Numbers 25-30. Not knowing what I would speak about, I figured there was plenty to choose from. Numbers 28-29 are commonly referred to for teachings on observing Yehovah’s appointed times or Holy Days.
As I came to those chapters, I read quickly through the list: The daily offerings, the Sabbath, the New Moon, Passover, Unleavened Bread, Pentecost… Wait, the New Moon? When did they start that? Is that one of Yehovah’s appointed times? Why have I never observed this day? I decided I had to look into this.
I immediately turned back to Leviticus 23, which is the first place in the Bible where all Yehovah’s appointed times are spelled out. There was no mention of a celebration on the New Moon. In fact, the first mention of the New Moon celebration is in Numbers 10, where it specifies that the trumpets should be sounded over the offerings, including offerings for the New Moon. The offerings themselves or any other details of the New Moon observance are not mentioned until the list in Numbers 28.
On the Hebrew calendar the Bible refers to, each month starts on the night the new moon is visible in the sky, when just the first sliver is showing (called Rosh-Hodesh in Hebrew). So I looked up every scripture I could find referring to the New Moon or the first day of the month. It turns out the Israelites had been celebrating the New Moon from Numbers 10 through Colossians 2, including notable patriarchs such as Moses, David, Elisha, Isaiah, Ezekiel, Hosea, Amos, Ezra, Nehemiah, King Solomon, King Hezekiah and the Jews of Paul’s day. There’s even reference to it as something we’ll be observing in the Millennium (Isaiah 66:23-24).
Besides those, I found 20 incidents that took place on New Moons – two in Noah’s ark, the setting up of the tabernacle in the wilderness, Yehovah speaking to Moses and Haggai and repeatedly to Ezekiel, Ezra’s reading of the Torah to the Israelites, the death of Aaron, and the Feast of Trumpets falls on the first day of the month of Tishrei. It seems this is a busy time on Yehovah’s calendar.
So how are we to observe it? Unlike some of the other appointed times, there’s no scripture that tells exactly what we are to do or not do on a New Moon. In my research, I found references to sounding the trumpet, bringing offerings, worshipping, dining, and avoiding buying and selling.
These reminded me of observances of some of the other appointed times:
- The offerings are very similar to those commanded for the daily offering, the Feast of Unleavened Bread and Pentecost.
- Avoiding buying and selling is also commanded on the Sabbath.
- The Sabbath and The Feast of Tabernacles are also both mentioned as appointed times we’ll be celebrating in the Millennium.
- The New Moon celebration occurs the same day as the Feast of Trumpets and includes blowing the trumpet over the offering, as do many of the offerings presented for other purposes.
However, its unique distinctions are what I found most compelling about the New Moon:
- Unlike others of Yehovah’s appointed times, the New Moon will never be the same day of the week or the same day year after year. This requires us to note a timeframe on our calendar, but look for the sliver of moon every month. Not having a set day each month (i.e. the third Thursday) or year (i.e. the 5th of June) challenges us to interrupt our normal schedule and break our routine. For planners like me, this is a great gauge as to the priority of my appointments with Yehovah. How easily can I be interrupted by Yehovah? How quickly will I change my schedule for Him?
- The New Moon is the only appointed time not mentioned in the original list of them in Leviticus 23. I could not find an explanation in the Bible for the omission of the New Moon in Lev. 23. As I thought about the idea of not designating this until later and how it reminds us of many of the other appointed times, I wondered if Yehovah added it as a monthly reminder for us to watch for the other appointed times.
Genesis 1:14 tells us one of the reasons the sun, moon and stars were created was to “serve as signs to mark sacred times, and days and years.” Although the sun indicates the season and the time of day, it cannot tell us what day it is, only the moon can. The moon is what determines the months and Yehovah’s appointed times. Could the New Moon be our day each month to acknowledge that we are keeping track of the days and Yehovah’s appointed times? It just may be a specific day designated for us to mark off where we are on His calendar, a chance to say, “I’m on your schedule and excited to be another month closer to one of your special days!”
However you decide to observe the New Moon, let the spontaneity and the other special times it reminds us of guide you to a meaningful personal expression of thanksgiving to Yehovah for His faithfulness to us from month to month.
Postscript: Since writing this post, I studied each of the Hebrew months. My discoveries are posted here: Rosh Hodesh.