The Ministry of the New Moon
Why does the Bible often mention the Feast of the New Moon, known as “Rosh Chodesh” in Hebrew? This is a question I asked myself repeatedly before taking the time to do some research. I knew in my heart that there was a treasure trove of information hidden in the ancient feast, and I was determined to discover it. Perhaps you are curious about the Feast of the New Moon also. In the words of a young man, an astronomy major who inquired about the significance of the feast several years ago, “I will never look at the new moon in the same way again!” I hope that will be your testimony also after learning about this fascinating topic. Now we will see what the Bible has to say on the subject.
The Hebrew term mo’ed, meaning “feast,” also means “appointed time” or “appointed place”. Mo’ed is a time that cannot be altered because it has been established in the heavens. Feast days were determined by the initial appearance of the new moon. Interestingly, the term mo’ed also pertains to the migration of birds. The seasonal, instinctive movement of birds and animals from one locale to another reminds me that festal observance was to be intuitive for God’s children, a command that was to be obeyed instinctively. Much like a migrating species, the Israelites journeyed to Jerusalem three times annually to worship, sacrifice, rejoice and fellowship. Just as the migratory call of nature helps sustain animal life, the worship of God sustains spiritual life. Unlike animals, however, man has a free will, and he tends to forget easily.
The observance of Rosh Chodesh marked a new beginning for Israel every month. Rosh Chodesh was a special holy Sabbath day. In fact, it was the most sacred Sabbath of the month, even more so than the weekly Sabbaths. It is not surprising that Moses was commanded to erect the Tabernacle on this sacred day:
“Now the Lord said to Moses, ‘Set up the tabernacle, the Tent of Meeting, on the first day of the first month’.” Ex 40:1
Rosh Chodesh reminded the people to renew their lives monthly, just as the moon renews itself. The feast pointed prophetically to redemption and restoration that would come through Yeshua one day. The emergence of the moon from darkness to light reminded the Israelites that God delivered them from the darkness of sin. The emerging moon also represented the emerging revelation of God (divine light) to His chosen people. Unlike their pagan neighbors who worshiped the full moon, the children of God worshiped the Lord when the moon was invisible. This helped to prevent idolatry and reminded the people that they were a “peculiar treasure,” set apart by God for a holy purpose.
The timing of the Feast of Rosh Chodesh was determined when the first sliver of the new moon appeared in the sky. Strict guidelines were followed to determine credibility of two independent witnesses, who were interrogated by the high priest and two assistants. Slave owners, women, gamblers, usurers, and those who flew pigeons (a game of wager equated with theft) were not deemed creditable witnesses. A confirmed sighting was heralded by bonfires from hilltop to hilltop throughout Israel and beyond, including the Mount of Olives and the hilltop city of Tzfat in the northern Galilee region. Riders carried news of the new moon sighting to other cities of Israel and beyond, and the festival was announced with the blowing of the silver trumpet:
“Also in the day of your gladness and in your appointed feasts, and on the first days of your months, you shall blow the trumpets over your burnt offerings, and over the sacrifices of your peace offerings; and they shall be as a reminder of you before your God. I am the LORD your God.” Num 10:10
To learn more about the monthly Feast of Rosh Chodesh and the annual Feasts of the Lord, see my new book which is coming out soon … By Divine Appointment: A Study of the Feasts of the Lord and the Feasts of the People (available from noreenjacks.com and bibleinteract.tv).