This Sabbath we will address the issue of when we worship. The Church of God in the Temple period kept exactly the same days and times as the Temple itself. From the days of Noah the calendar had been kept according to the lunar system based on the equinox that determined the year in Abib. The system in Babylon changed the beginning of the year to the seventh month, but the months were kept as they had been with Noah. The book of Genesis records that the flood was determined according to the years of the system before the flood and since Adam. The term we find in Genesis for month is chodesh (SHD 2320), which is the New Moon and the event as the conjunction, which measures the days for the flood, which began in the second month (chodesh) in the seventeenth day of the month (chodesh). The months were numbered and remained numbered for the entire period of the Patriarchs and the Temple. The Church has numbered the months and so have the Samaritans. The practice of using the Hebrew names for the months based on the Babylonian became widespread, and the names of the months entered the biblical record although the Bible does not record them all. That in itself implies they were not universal and did not replace the Temple calendar system of numbers while the Canon was being compiled. All texts of the Hebrew Canon were finished and compiled by the death of Ezra in 321 BCE, which coincided with Alexander the Great, who is recorded to have died in the same year as Ezra, being in, or by, 321 BCE.
There is an aberrant idea being circulated among the racists, that the book of Enoch and the books of Jubilees are somehow inspired, but the Canon is not. They do this to introduce a variant of the Qumran Calendar based on the solar system of Enoch. To achieve this they circulate the fiction that Enoch is the ancient book of the Patriarchs, written by the patriarch Enoch who was righteous. The book makes mention of the angel Uriel and so they claim that Uriel gave the text to Enoch and hence it precedes Noah and the Pentateuch and is inspired. They then use Esther as an example of a late book that is not inspired in order to attack what they describe as Judaism. That view is the most fanciful nonsense and it is difficult to understand how grown adults are taken in by such ideas.
Esther was entered into the Canon along with the other texts at the death of Ezra in 321 BCE and translated into the Septuagint in the third century BCE. It is a story of the activities during the Babylonian captivity, but also represents a much greater truth regarding Messiah and the Church. That symbolism is given in the paper Commentary on Esther (No. 63).
It is utter nonsense to say Esther was written ca 150 BCE or that anything else in the Canon was written that late. The Apocrypha is another matter. We know it was written later, but its uninspired nature is evident from its contradictions with the Canon. I listened to professors of Religious Studies from South Africa and those of their ideas, present such concepts to me at a seminar. Daniel, Ezra and Nehemiah etc. were all late writings. The incidence of prophecy in them is not taken as their inspired nature, but rather as evidence that they were written after the event. I drew their attention to the archaeological findings at Elephantine, which were translated by Ginsberg. These findings are published in one of the most basic text books in the English speaking world, and that is James B. Pritchard’s, The Ancient Near East An Anthology of Texts and Pictures, Vol. 1, Princeton University Press and Oxford University Press 1958. Now on page 279 of that text we find a copy of the original Passover Papyrus, which was an order sent by king Darius to Arsames the satrap of Egypt in what is identified as the year 419 BCE. This is an order to keep the Passover we see identified in the texts in Ezra. The people in the Temple at Elephantine are seen, from the letters there, to have been in contact with the priests in Jerusalem and they provided funds for the refurbishment of the Temple after its construction. This is exactly in accordance with the text in Ezra and they refer to the priests by name as found in the texts in Scripture. They prove the Bible texts were written exactly when the Bible says they were written. Now if a student had written an essay and not taken those texts into account, then he/she would have been severely penalised. Yet we see university lecturers writing nonsense to the contrary out of ignorance.
The books of Enoch and Jubilees were written at the beginning of the second century BCE and have no Canonical authority and never have had any authority. They contradict the law and the testimony. They are pseudepigraphic writings. That was a practice in use from the second century BCE to the fourth century CE that attributed writings as being from people often in the Bible and long dead. There are books by Adam and Enoch, and Abraham and Eldad and Modad. There is the Apocalypse of Adam, of Elijah, and the Testament of Moses, the Apocryphon of Ezekiel, and the Questions of, the Vision of, and the Revelation of, Ezra. There are works on, and concerning Jacob, Job, Johannes, Jambres, Joseph and Asenath; there is a prayer of Manasseh and even a treatise allegedly written by Shem. No one with any serious training gets taken in by these writings.
The book of Enoch was written after that and shows by its Greek names of the months, using the names of Hellenised gods and goddesses, a Hellenised influence that cannot have been earlier than the Ptolemies. It was the visit of Alexander and Ptolemy to Jerusalem that placed the Jews in good stead with the Greeks. The Septuagint was ordered translated after Ptolemy took over Egypt by his successors, because the Greeks developed good relations with the Jews at Alexandria and Ptolemy decided to use them. The best way to get them on his side was to translate the existing Cannon of the Scriptures, hence the LXX came into being.
The Greeks did not have this influence prior to Alexander the Great and it was only entrenched in Egypt from 321 BCE. The Seleucids did not enter Judea and take over their system until well after that, towards the middle of the Second century BCE under Antiochus Epiphanes. That is why Onias IV built the temple at Heliopolis in Egypt ca. 160 BCE in accordance with the prophesy by God through Isaiah in Isaiah 19:19. Next they will tell us that Isaiah was written after 160 CE because the Temple was built there at that time in accordance with the prophecy, therefore it must have been after the event.
The book of Enoch displays in the calendar a Greek influence adopting an Egyptian calendar system, and indicates the probable influence of early Alexandrian Gnosticism. An early sectarian proto-Pharisee is acknowledged as writing Jubilees in the first half of the second century BCE. They sought to corrupt the Temple calendar with it to introduce traditions. The Enochian calendar is a solar calendar, and is based on an ancient Egyptian calendar that had twelve months of the year with thirty days per month. It was intercalated by adding five days each year as no days. Four of these days were on the equinoxes and solstices and all were named for one of the gods. It was never accepted by the Temple system and was introduced into a small group of aberrant theology with a group in Alexandria and later at Qumran. The variations of two weeks, or fortnightly periods, follows a fourteen day and fifteen day variation in some calendars. The newer variations are directly anti-Sabbath and anti-Fourth Commandment. Their adherents rely on a fiction that says the word chodesh in the Bible actually refers to the equinoxes, of which there are two a year. They seem oblivious to the fact that as early as Noah the months were named First, Second, Third and Fourth etc Chodesh. The Tenth Chodesh is mentioned in Genesis 8:5. The later or current adherents are racist. They worship on Sundays and are usually anti-Semitic.
The value of the book of Enoch lies solely in its explanation of the text in Genesis 6:4 showing the proper understanding of the text against the silly interpretations advanced by modern Trinitarians. That is why it is claimed that Jude quotes Enoch, usually by those seeking to denigrate or reorient the Scriptures to denigrate their inspiration. I saw this ploy used by the WCG when it sought to destabilise the law and introduce Trinitarianism. Jude is not quoting Enoch. It is explaining Genesis 6:4 in its correct understanding. Enoch is an embellishment on the correct understanding of what happened in Genesis 6:4, as understood at the time of Christ.
The Church worships every day by prayer and by fasting on some days. In accordance with the Temple system there were sacrifices every day. The daily sacrifices were divided into the morning and evening sacrifices.
The Church followed and still follows the Temple system of worship and its calendar based on the twelve months with the second twelfth month intercalated seven times every nineteen years (see the paper God’s Calendar (No. 156)). It operates according to the conjunction and numbers the days from the conjunction. There are approximately 59 days every two months. The Sabbath is every seventh day, which is and always has been, the day we now call Saturday in the English paganised or heathenised system, being named after the God Saturn.
The Church also worships on New Moons and on Holy Days of the feasts and meets on the feasts, for their entirety, three times a year as commanded by God through the prophets (see also Seven Days of the Feasts (No. 49)). On these three feast periods the entirety of the Twenty-four Divisions of the priesthood officiated together (Schurer, History of the Jewish People in the Age of Jesus Christ, Vol. II, p. 292). The Daily Sacrifice occurred in the morning and the evening. The divisions of the priesthood mounted duty on a weekly basis and the priests changed over on the Sabbath. The retiring course offered the morning sacrifice and the incoming course offered the evening sacrifice (Schurer, ibid).
The priesthood was divided into Twenty-Four Divisions as were the Levites also, and the nation or Congregation of Israel was also divided into Twenty-four divisions, “each of which was to serve in weekly rotation as the peoples’ representative before God when the daily sacrifice was offered” (Schurer, ibid pp 292-293). Unlike the priests and Levites, the congregation however was not obliged to go up to Jerusalem for the week, but assembled in their synagogues to prayer and Bible reading, and probably only a delegation went up to Jerusalem (ibid, p. 293).
The timing of the sacrifices was at 9 AM or the Third hour for the morning sacrifice and 3 PM or the Ninth hour of the day for the evening sacrifice. It was on this evening sacrifice at the Ninth hour or 3 PM that they began killing the Passover lambs. That is why we celebrate each year on the 14th of Abib, the First month, the Death of the Lamb at that service, having commemorated the Lord’s Supper the evening before. The lambs were killed from the Ninth hour to the Eleventh hour i.e. 3 PM to 5 PM on 14 Abib (cf. Josephus, Wars of the Jews, VI, IX, 3). This timing was in accord with the standard daily sacrifice at the evening sacrifice.
In the antechamber of the Temple (the eastern room) were the three sacred vessels. In the centre stood the golden altar of incense, also called “the inner altar” on which incense was offered daily both morning and evening; south of that was the golden seven branched lamp-stand of oil which was kept continuously burning (Schurer, pp 296-297; fn 17 p. 297). North of the altar stood the golden table of the shewbread, which had its twelve loaves replaced every Sabbath.
The Bible texts tell us that the lamps of the Menorah were to be lit in the evenings so that they burned during the night. The practice in the Temple was that they lit three during the day and all seven at night (according to Josephus, (Antiq, III, 8,3), but according to the Mishnah it was one by day and all seven by night (m.Tam. 3:9); 64:1; likewise Sifra on Lev. 24:1-4, cf. Schurer fn. 17 p. 297).
We know that the Church kept the timings of the daily sacrifices in their worship,
as they were all together in worship at Pentecost at the Third hour, which was
9 AM. At that time the Holy Spirit entered and was given to the Church. This
was exactly fifty days from the Wave Sheaf Offering, which was waived at the
Morning sacrifice on the First day of the week or Sunday during the feast of
Unleavened Bread (cf. also Lev. Ch. 23). The Church kept all Sabbaths, New Moons
and Feasts and the entire system of the feasts as we know from the Gospels,
Acts and Epistles and continued to do so, wherever it was not prevented by persecution.
We also know the Church kept the New Moons, Feasts and Holy Days according to
the Temple Calendar and that the postponement system was not in operation until
the Third century CE.
It is being claimed that in the days of Ahaz the morning offering was a burnt offering and the evening sacrifice was usually a grain offering (2Kgs. 15:16) (cf. Schurer, ibid, p. 300). Thus “at the grain offering” meant towards evening (1Kgs. 18:29-36). However, we also know that burnt offerings were made in the evenings (Ezra 9:4,5; Dan. 9:21). Schurer makes this point to claim that there were alterations to the sacrifice. Ezekiel shows us that a burnt offering and a grain offering were made in the evening (Ezek. 46:13-15). However, Schurer claims this is indication of the changing sacrifices (ibid). To support that claim he then claims the texts are composite and the so called “Priestly code” provides that a burnt offering and a grain offering be made at both morning and evening sacrifices and a drink offering with each (Ex. 29:38-42; Num. 28:3-8). The provision of a burnt offering twice a day was of long standing, as we know from Chronicles (1Chron. 15:40; 2Chron. 8:11, 31:3).
The fact of the matter is that both daily sacrifices at Morning and Evening were full systems of worship and required proper care, effort and attention by all three areas of the nation, from Priests and Levites to the National Divisions in their areas of residence.
The Morning sacrifice saw the procedures implemented from early morning when the day had started and the officers who wished to, commenced by cleaning the ashes of the altar of the burnt offering. Those wishing to perform the duty had bathed before the arrival of the officer of the division. They cast lots for the performance of the task. In the glow of the altar fire the man chosen washed his hands and feet in the bronze basin standing between the Temple and the altar. He ascended the stairs and swept up the ashes with a silver pan. During this activity the priests preparing the baked grain offering of the High Priest attended to their tasks.
Fresh wood was then brought to the altar. When it was lit the priests washed their hands and feet and went to the lishkath ha-gazith, which was the place of meeting of the Sanhedrin right to the time of the destruction of the Temple. There they cast further lots. Their meeting in the NT account in the house of the High Priest is explained by the irregularity of the proceedings at night (cf. Schurer ibid pp 224-225).
The officer cast lots to decide: 1: the slaughterer, 2: the sprinkler of blood
on the altar, 3: who should clean the ashes from the inner altar, 4: who should
clean the lamps, and then to decide who should bring each piece of the sacrificial
victim to the altar steps which are, 5:the head and one hind leg, 6: the two
forelegs, 7: the tail and the other hind leg, 8: the breast and neck, 9: the
two sides, 10: the entrails, 11: who should carry the fine flour, 12: the baked
grain offering (of the High Priest), 13: the wine (cf. Schurer, ibid, p. 304).
The sacrifices did not occur before daybreak. While the lamb was then selected
after daybreak the two priests chosen to clean the altar of incense and the
lamp-stand went to the Temple, the former with a golden pail and the latter
with a golden pitcher. They opened the great Temple gate and entered. In the
case of the golden lamp-stand, if the two lamps furthest east were burning they
were left untouched and only the remaining lamps were cleaned. If the two eastern
most lamps had gone out then they were cleaned and relit first, before the remainder
were cleaned and filled.
The two priests left the utensils they had been using behind them in the Temple when they departed.
While they were occupied in the cleaning the other appointed priests selected the lamb and killed it. It was then skinned and it was divided into its parts and each of the appointed priests received the parts due to him. The animal was divided among six priests in total. The entrails were washed on marble tables at the slaughter area. A seventh priest had the flour offering, an eighth had the baked grain offering of the High Priest, and a ninth had the wine for the drink offering. All this was then laid on the western side of the steps to the altar. It was then supplied with salt. The priests then withdrew to the lishkath ha-gazith where they recited the Shema. Having done this, then they again cast lots. Firstly, the lot was cast for the performance of the Incense Offering among those who had never performed this duty. The lots were then cast to see who would carry the individual elements of the sacrificial offering to the altar. (According to R. Eliezar bin Jacob the same priests who did it initially performed the duty and carried them to the altar steps). Those on whom no lot fell were free to go and removed their sacred garments and retired.
The priest selected to bring the incense offering now took a lidded golden pan containing a smaller pan with the incense. A second priest fetched coals from the altar of burnt offerings in a silver ladle and emptied them into a golden ladle. The two then went into the Temple. One of them poured the coals onto the altar of incense, prostrated himself in adoration and then retired. The other priest took the small pan with the incense out of the large pan, handed the latter to a third priest and then poured the incense out of the pan onto the coals on the altar so that the smoke ascended. Then he also prostrated himself and then retired. The two who had already attended to the cleaning of the altar and the lamp-stand had already re-entered the Temple before these others to fetch their implements mentioned above. The cleaner of the lamp-stand then cleaned the more easterly of the lamps still uncleaned. The other was left burning so that the others could be lit from it in the evening. If it had gone out it was then cleaned and relit from the fire on the altar of burnt offering.
The five priests who had been busy inside the Temple then mounted the steps
in front of the sanctuary with their five golden utensils and pronounced the
priestly blessing (Num. 6:22 ff.) on the people. In doing this they pronounced
the divine name as it is written. They said Yahovah. They did not say Adonai
(cf. Schurer ibid. p. 306). Thus the idea that the priest did not say the name
of God is completely false. They not only uttered it, they did so in public
prayer as part of the actions of the Temple.
Next the presentation of the burnt offering took place. The appointed priests laid hands on the separate pieces of the sacrificial animal lying at the altar steps and took them to the altar and placed (threw, so Schurer) them on the altar. When the High Priest wished to officiate he is alleged to have had the priests hand the pieces to him (cf. Ecclus. 1:12) and he threw them on the altar. Lastly, the two grain offerings viz. of the people and of the High Priest were presented together with the drink offering. When the priests bent to pour out the drink offering a sign was given to the Levites to begin singing. They broke into song and at every pause in the singing two priests blew silver trumpets. “With every blast of the trumpets the people prostrated themselves in adoration” (Schurer ibid). “The evening worship was very similar to the morning. In the former, however, the incense offering was made after rather than before the burnt offering, and the lamps of the candelabrum were not cleaned in the evening but lit” (cf. also Schurer p. 303).
The people had assembled themselves in the Temple during the process in the morning preparations for the final offerings. They prostrated themselves in adoration, at the blowing of the trumpets, in the pauses in the singing. There were different Psalms set for the days of the week. The Psalms were: the First day of the week Sunday was Psalm 24. the Second day of the week Monday was Ps. 48; Tuesday was Ps. 82; Wednesday was Ps. 94; Thursday was Ps. 81; Friday was Ps. 93 and Sabbath was Ps. 92.
The spiritual significance of these actions is of interest. Note the Morning sacrifice began at daybreak and went on into the morning. The people were present and participated in the activities that reached their climax at about the third hour.
The sacrifices represent the development of the faith. The Passover refers to the Messiah as the lamb and the first fruits of the Wave-sheaf. The evening sacrifices refer to the Great Multitude of the Church. The Sabbaths, New Moons and Holy Days refer to the elect of the 144,000. Each of the Sabbaths etc. has the Morning and Evening elements which is a requirement of the elect to advance in the Holy Spirit through their relationship with God. The entire Church of God is the evening element of the sacrifices and there is mention of the evening sacrifice in the later Temple system.
It should be obvious to us all that the services of the Church are to be at 9 AM and 3 PM on each day of congregation. The Church has met at 10 AM and 2 PM on some Holy Days but always meets at 9 AM for the Wave Sheaf and Pentecost. This has been because many of the brethren travel long distances to get to services and to get home. Where the Church is gathered together at a feast, or where there are no people with long distances to travel, it is expected that services will follow the usual timings of the Morning and Evening sacrifices.
Christ also kept the Sabbath in due diligence and on these days no trade was permitted in accordance with the understanding of Amos 8:5. In Matthew 14:14-15 we see that the people came to Christ at the time of the Evening sacrifice, which was on either a New Moon or a Sabbath. His disciples said to him when the Sabbath had ended and it was dark and people were still gathered together, that they should be allowed to go and buy food.
14 And when He went ashore, He saw a great multitude, and felt compassion for them, and healed their sick. 15 And when it was evening, the disciples came to Him, saying "The place is desolate and the time is already past; so send the multitudes away, that they may go into the villages and buy food for themselves."
The Church as the body of kings and priests is required to offer prayers each day both morning and evening (Ex. 30:7-8). The preparation and prayers of the morning precede the timing of the offering of the Morning sacrifice and the prayers of the evening follow after the Evening sacrifice. Thus our prayers act as the incense offering and the light of the Golden Lamp-stand that stands before the Holy of Holies and intercedes with God for the world. That is the why the twenty-four elders are charged with monitoring our prayers and assisting us (Rev. 5:8-10).
There is a requirement of diligence in the faith in the aspect of the Calendar. Whom we worship is not just determined by our understanding of the nature of God. That there is only One True God who is the God and Father of us all and who sent Jesus Christ, and which forms the basis of our worship, can be undermined by the misapplication of the Calendar and process of worship. If you keep a wrong calendar, you worship the god for which it was formed. If you postpone the days of worship you put another god before the One True God. Do not be misled. Hold fast to the faith once delivered to the saints.
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