The Lunar Sabbath Debunked
There are many people on the Internet that claim to have "debunked" the Lunar Sabbath by offering up three or four "proofs" that point out why the Lunar Sabbath is flawed.
The truth is that Lunar Sabbath theology is much more complex than most people assume!
This is likely because early proponents of the Lunar Sabbath encountered these arguments themselves, and have long since come up with counter-arguments that often surprise and confuse someone unprepared to discuss the topic with them.
The Lunar Sabbath Encyclopedia was created in order for you to better understand the details of this complex theology, and to learn about the flaws inherent in all of the arguments used to support it. Each page contains an "Objections" section that provides the information that you need to thoroughly debunk the Lunar Sabbath.
So how exactly can the Lunar Sabbath be debunked? By examining the major tenets of the theology and discussing its fatal flaws.
A Foundation of Sand
The basis for the Lunar Sabbath is made up of several core assertions based on Scripture:
The day of the Sabbath, just like the days of the month, are determined by the moon
The basis of this core belief, as well as objections, can be found on our Sabbaths and Moedim page. Besides a number of scriptures that directly contradict this argument, the argument itself is a type of Invalid Argument that should not be used to prove a theological point.
The Sabbath is never defined as the sixth day of the week but as the day that follows six working days
Although it is true that the week is always described in Scripture as six working days followed by a Sabbath, there are a number of situations in which this strict definition of a "week" is not valid:
- The Day of Atonement falls on the 10th day of the seventh month and is described in Scripture as a Sabbath (see Lev 23:26-32). If the eighth day of the month is supposed to be a Sabbath, then the fifteenth day of the month cannot be a Sabbath because there will not be six working days between the eighth and the fifteenth.
- The Last Day of Unleavened Bread, or Abib 21, is clearly described as a non-working day in Scripture, but falls on the sixth day of the week on the Lunar Sabbath Calendar instead of the seventh (the 22nd). This has caused some Lunar Sabbatarians to debate whether Scripture is really referring to Abib 21 as a day of rest or instead Abib 15. This controversy is discussed in detail on our Abib 21 page.
The New Moon Day is not a day of the week and is a non-working day
There are plenty of scriptures that describe the New Moon Day, but it's never described as a Sabbath or a non-working day. It's clear that there are specific sacrifices to be brought on the New Moon Day, and that there is to be an assembly at that time. However it's never stated in Scripture that the New Moon Day is a non-working day. Although some people point to Amos 8:5 as proof that there was to be no buying or selling on the New Moon Day, it's commonly believed that this passage refers to the Feast of Trumpets. That day always falls on the first day of the month (the New Moon Day), and it is specifically commanded to be a non-working day. In contrast with the New Moon Day, the Sabbath is described extensively throughout Scripture as a non-working day. There are also no scriptures that describe the New Moon Day as a day separate from the days of the week.
Extended Worship Days
One of the unique features of the Lunar Sabbath Calendar is that the format of one New Moon Day plus four weeks adds up to only twenty nine days. Because the duration of a lunar month (the time required for the moon to completely orbit the Earth) is approximately 29.5 days, an extra day is required about every other month in order to keep the calendar synchronized with the new moons. This "extra" day is referred to as an Extended Worship Day. This day is somewhat problematic though. It's not considered a working day because it comes between the last Sabbath of the month and the New Moon day (not part of the six working days described in Scripture). It also can't be a Sabbath because it's not preceded by six working days. So there is some debate regarding how exactly this day should be observed.
The biggest problem though with Extended Worship Days is that they aren't mentioned anywhere in Scripture! There's no mention of them directly (such as how to observe them) like there are for working days, Sabbaths and New Moon days. There's also no indirect mention of them anywhere, such as describing an event or timeline involving an Extended Working Day. Without such evidence, it seems unlikely that Extended Worship Days were really used in Biblical times. If that is true, then it also must be true that they did not observe the Lunar Sabbath Calendar either.
Pinpointed Lunar Sabbaths
One of the major "proofs" used to convince people of the validity of Lunar Sabbaths is the overwhelming number of Pinpointed Lunar Sabbaths that have been identified in Scripture. These are Sabbaths that fall on Lunar Sabbath dates: the 8th, 15th, 22nd or 29th days of the month. Some people go so far as to claim that there are seventy two of them! The list of them seems quite convincing at first, until you begin to examine them closely. When you do, you will find that there are some large assumptions made to claim that they can be "pinpointed" on Lunar Sabbath dates. A comprehensive list of these events can be found on our Pinpointed Lunar Sabbaths page, with links to a detailed analysis of each one.
Most people know that the timing of Pentecost is determined by the "Counting of the Omer", which can be either "seven Sabbaths" or fifty days as it's described in Lev 23:15-16. If a Lunar Sabbath month also includes the New Moon Day, and potentially an Extended Worship Day, then seven weeks will add up to significantly more than fifty days. This should clearly show that the Lunar Sabbath Calendar is invalid, because it doesn't align with Lev 23:15-16, right?
Not so fast! This concern is as old as Lunar Sabbath theology itself, and reconciling Pentecost with the Lunar Sabbath Calendar requires embracing a number of additional beliefs. This is primarily due to their interpretation of Lev 23:15-16, which is that the Counting of the Omer involves first counting seven Sabbaths and THEN fifty days. To support that interpretation they teach that Pentecost occurs in the fourth month, that Aaron's golden calf orgy was in fact the first observance of Pentecost, and that the length of Paul's Third Missionary Journey proves that Passover could not have occurred only fifty days after Passover. A list of the most common arguments for this assertion, and a detailed analysis of each, is available on our Pentecost page.
However, there is one passage in Scripture that never seems to be mentioned on either side of the argument, and which itself should be enough to debunk the notion of Pentecost in the fourth month. Deuteronomy 16:9-10 is the second place in Scripture where YHVH describes the timing of Pentecost, and it is not as ambiguous as Leviticus 23:15-16. It clearly describes the Counting of the Omer as consisting of seven weeks, with no mention of fifty days. This means that the "traditional reckoning" of Pentecost is the only valid option. If Pentecost comes only seven weeks after Passover, it's not possible to reconcile this Biblical requirement with the Lunar Sabbath Calendar.
If you study Lunar Sabbath arguments in detail, you will probably uncover a number of invalid points. Some of these can be categorized as "Invalid Arguments" such as Formal Fallacies, others rely on a specific translation of a Hebrew word or phrase which is invalid. It's possible that these invalid points are simply honest mistakes, but the attention to detail and subtle twisting of words in many of these arguments suggests that they are intentionally deceiving rather than unintentional errors.
- Ezekiel 46:1 is often cited as proof that the New Moon Day should not be considered one of the days of the week, neither a Working Day nor a Sabbath. This argument relies on a Formal Fallacy known as Denying the Antecedent, which is contradicted when reading further to Ezekiel 46:12. See the Ezekiel 46:1 page for more details.
- The Day Before The Wave Sheaf Offering uses Equivocation to attempt to prove that this day is a "Pinpointed Lunar Sabbath". This causes the reasoning to be somewhat circular in nature and not actually proving the point.
- The Law of the Leper is cited as a "Pinpointed Lunar Sabbath", but requires using a Fallacy of the Single Cause, at least one False Dilemma, and Equivocation to prove that this event falls on a Lunar Sabbath.
- The basis for observing Pentecost in the fourth month requires translating the Old English phrase "Even Unto" in Lev 23:16 as "From". The correct translation of that phrase from both the original Hebrew and also the Greek Septuagint is "To" or "Until". This completely contradicts the Lunar Sabbath reading of Lev 23:16. See the Even Unto page for more a more detailed examination of this topic.
- It's sometimes argued that the New Moon Day was the first day of creation by translating the Hebrew word hayah as "Followed" instead of "Were". The passage then reads “… and the evening and the morning followed the first day.”, meaning that the heavens and the Earth were created on the day before “the first day” of Creation (on the New Moon Day). Unfortunately, the word hayah is never translated as "followed" unless it is used together with the word ahar, as in "were behind". The details behind this gross mis-translation are documented on the Followed page.
- Ex 16:26, Ex 20:9-11; Ex 23:12, Ex 31:15-17, Ex 34:21, Ex 35:2, Lev 23:3, Deut 5:13-14, Eze 46:1
- Num 28:11-15, 1Ch 23:31, 2Ch 2:4, 2Ch 8:12-13, 2Ch 31:2-3, Ezr 3:4-5, Isa 1:10-20, Isa 66:23, Eze 45:16-17, Eze 46:1-7, Hos 2:11, Amo 8:5
- Lev 23:24, Num 29:1
- Ex 20:10-11, Ex 31:14-16, Ex 35:2, Lev 23:3, Num 15:32-36, Deu 5:14