Much of what I am conveying here is the result of summarized notes I had used in a presentation of these principles to our home fellowship. The reference material is originally from a site called Stewarton Bible School and can be viewed in its entirety here. While I am not in agreement with all prophetic references on that site, the calendar presentation is quite good in covering the general principles of how the Biblical Calendar functions. Material is reproduced here by permission.
Most people are unaware that God has provided a calendar/timekeeping system within the pages of the Bible. It is efficient, trustworthy, and so simple that a child shepherding sheep on the hills of Judea can understand it.
Why is this Biblical calendar important? Because through this system of marking the passage of time, God has provided us:
- clues to historical Biblical events
- a structure for weekly, monthly, and annual worship activities based in his word
Biblical timekeeping is a lost art
If God’s children don’t know how to tell Biblical time, then they will not understand the current season or time.
Regarding this watchfulness connected to this aspect of Biblical timekeeping, Yeshua remarked the following:
And he said also to the people, When ye see a cloud rise out of the west, straightway ye say, There cometh a shower; and so it is. And when ye see the south wind blow, ye say, There will be heat; and it cometh to pass. Ye hypocrites, ye can discern the face of the sky and of the earth; but how is it that ye do not discern this time? Luke 12:54-56
Shortly thereafter, as Yeshua was about to enter Jerusalem for the last time, he wept over the city and the lack of understanding of the people:
Saying, If thou hadst known, even thou, at least in this thy day, the things which belong unto thy peace! but now they are hid from thine eyes. For the days shall come upon thee, that thine enemies shall cast a trench about thee, and compass thee round, and keep thee in on every side, And shall lay thee even with the ground, and thy children within thee; and they shall not leave in thee one stone upon another; because thou knewest not the time of thy visitation. Luke 19:42-44
Part of the heaviness of judgment on Israel of that day was due to the fact that they could not discern the times or the planned timing of God’s visitation to them. We must understand that God has chosen to teach spiritual principles through the use of his timekeeping system, and also to give us insight into what he has done, and what he is currently doing, if we are watching.
However, before we look at the Biblical method of timekeeping, let’s briefly review our current civil calendar history.
The Julian Calendar
Most modern calendars are based foundationally on a form of the Julian calendar, after the Roman Emperor Julius Caesar who had attempted to universalize a calendar system in the year 46 BC. One of Caesar’s amendments was to pattern the civil calendar on the calendar of ancient Egypt, which was at that time the only calendar in which the lengths of the months and years were fixed by definite rules.
The Gregorian Calendar
This is the calendar that hangs on almost every wall today in the civilized world. The Gregorian calendar takes its name from Pope Gregory XIII, who reformed the Roman calendar in the year 1582. For all intents and purposes, this civil calendar which hangs upon your wall is similar in structure to the calendar that was used in ancient Egypt. Like its Egyptian ancestor, the civil calendar is governed alone by the sun. Its months (January to December) are in no way influenced by the moon. In the civil calendar:
- a new moon can occur on any day in the month
- days begin in the middle of the night (0.00 hour)
- and years (in the northern hemisphere) begin in the middle of winter on the 1st January.
The Biblical Calendar
By comparison the Biblical calendar is strikingly different. The Biblical calendar, while primarily using the moon, and not the sun, for timekeeping, is not a strict lunar calendar. Days are still reckoned using the setting of the sun, and the seasons (driven by the sun) are used as markers, as well. It is not a lunar calendar, or a solar calendar, but a lunisolar calendar.
However, regardless of technical descriptions, Biblical timekeeping is still as simple as 1, 2, 3:
1) the setting sun begins a new day
2) the new moon begins a new month
3) and the new year begins in the spring.
That’s it! Not surprisingly, therefore, many creatures from tiny birds keeping to their 14, 21 or 28 day cycles, right through to the complex human body, are designed to keep in step with the simplicity of the weekly and monthly periods of the Biblical calendar.
In the beginning…
God has been very precise with events recorded for us that are linked to the Biblical calendar, which has been in existence since the creation of the world. Our understanding of Biblical timekeeping, therefore, naturally begins in Genesis:
Then God said,“Let there be lights in the firmament of the heavens to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs and seasons, and for days and years.” Gen. 1:14
Does this mean that God is condoning a form of astrology for reckoning time? No, this is not the case, as no one using the Biblical calendar is attempting to determine individual fate by interpretation of the positions of these astral bodies. These heavenly tools have been given to us instead as universal evidences for keeping mankind humble in the expanse of God’s universe, helping us determine the passage of time, and for displaying his glory to the entire world.
When I consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which thou hast ordained; What is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him? Psalm 8:3-4
The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork. Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night sheweth knowledge. There is no speech nor language, where their voice is not heard. Psalm 19:1-3
The heavens declare his righteousness, and all the people see his glory. Psalm 97:6
We are not here discussing a Jewish calendar, for the Biblical calendar has been in existence hundreds of years before the first Jew (Judah) was even born! (We will look at differences between the Jewish calendar and the Biblical calendar later).
For example, we read of the Biblical calendar’s use in the account of Noah’s flood, which was over 800 years before Israel came out of Egypt:
In the six hundredth year of Noah’s life, in the second month, the seventeenth day of the month, the same day were all the fountains of the great deep broken up, and the windows of heaven were opened. Gen.7:11
And the ark rested in the seventh month, on the seventeenth day of the month, upon the mountains of Ararat. Gen.8:4
And it came to pass in the six hundredth and first year, in the first month, the first day of the month, the waters were dried up from off the earth: and Noah removed the covering of the ark, and looked, and, behold, the face of the ground was dry. Gen.8:13
So we see that God’s calendar has been in place since he created the world and the heavenly timepieces. I believe that the more we learn of the Creator’s way of tracking time, the more we will begin to understand his perfect timing in all of history.