New moon observance?
As proof that the Sabbath is eternal, Seventh Day Adventists often cite the following two verses:
(22) For as the new heaven and the new earth which I will make, shall remain before me, saith the Lord, so shall your seed and your name remain.
(23) and it shall come to pass, that from one new moon to another, and from one sabbath to another, shall all flesh come to worship before me, saith the Lord.
The argument is that since these texts also mention the “New Heaven and the New Earth” which we know John the Revelator mentions, that the Sabbath, also mentioned, will still be observed then. But against this some have brought forth the argument that these texts also mention the New Moon, and logically ask the following two questions: Shouldn’t we also keep the New moon today? And, Will we also be observing the New Moon in the New Earth?
The first question is based upon an assumption which could possibly be the result of Adventists not explaining themselves correctly. Sometimes when we quote these verses, it is in the context of defending the keeping of the Sabbath right now, in our time. This is a mistake. Isaiah 66:22-23 is not a text proving we should be keeping the Sabbath today; otherwise, we should also keep the New Moon festival. Rather, these texts are proof that these weekly and monthly gatherings will be taking place in the far future, in the “new heavens and the new earth…” –verse 22. Once this is understood, and explained correctly, there is no room for our opponent to ask: Why then don’t you keep the New Moon today?
The second question is a bit more profound, and there are a couple of points our critics should consider. First, the words translated “new moon” is the Hebrew word chodesh (חדש) and simply means, “month.” This word didn’t always carry a “festival” meaning. Its first use is found in Genesis 7:11, here translated “month,” far before chodesh was ever designated to be a Jewish festival for the nation of Israel.
Second, by the words “new heavens and new earth” we get the impression that God’s intention is to “restore” everything as he had originally intended, namely, the perfect condition of the Earth before the entrance of sin as described in the first two chapters of the book of Genesis. The wise king tells us that “whatsoever God doeth [he made the earth], it shall be for ever” –Ecclesiastes 3:14, and in chapter one of his book he wrote:
(4) One generation passeth away, and another generation cometh: but the earth endureth for ever.
Whether you believe the Earth itself will remain or no, the point is that, regardless, everything will be “restored” as it was from the beginning. The apostle Peter tells us this himself:
(20) And he shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you:
(21) Whom the heavens must receive until the time of restitution of all things, which God has spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began.
In other words, everything will be restored into the perfect state which the Lord had at first intended. Further evidence of this is seen in the vision of the New Earth which John saw in Revelation 22. Notice that the Tree of Life, once in the Garden of Eden on the earth before the entrance of sin (Genesis 2:9), yet again, after sin is destroyed, in the new city on the “new” earth:
(2) In the midst of the street of it, and on either side of the river, was there the tree of life…
In the beginning we find, among other things, the seventh day Sabbath (Genesis 2:1-3). It is of no wonder, then, that the prophet mentioned the Sabbath as still in existence far after sin, for the restoration of all things will include the original seventh day Sabbath. Yet, when we study the description of the original earth in Genesis 1 and 2, we don’t find anything about new moon festivals. Nothing even about feast days. Why is this? The answer is found in Revelation 22:2:
(2) In the midst of the street of it, and on either side of the river, was there the tree of life, which bare twelve manner of fruits, and yielded her fruit every month: and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.
Remember, the words “new moon” simply means “month.” When we compare Isaiah’s words with that of Johns, we find that by the words “from one new moon to another” is meant the gathering of the saints, once a month, for the purpose of partaking of the tree of life. The answer to the question, if whether the New Moon will also be present in the Nea Earth, is simply... yes. The difference, however, is that the "reason" for gathering every month will be to partake of the tree of life. The reason for celebrating the Sabbath will also change. Rather then celebrating every week the creation of the old earth (Exodus 20:11), we will here celebrate the creation of the "new" earth, which is why in context Isaiah is speaking about the "new heavens and the new earth which I will make."-Isaiah 66:22.
The late Samuel Bacchiocchi Ph. D. and author of “From Sabbath to Sunday” offers some interesting incites. He notes that the prophet Isaiah “speaks of ‘the new heavens and the new earth’ in the context of the restoration of Jerusalem and the regathering of the Jews ‘from all the nations . . . to my holy mountain Jerusalem’ (Is 66:20). This means that the description of all flesh coming to worship ‘from new moon to new moon and from sabbath to sabbath’ refers first of all to the hoped-for political restoration of Jerusalem and its religious services, and second, to the End-time restoration of this earth, of which the former was a type.”
Dr. Bacchiocchi continues by explaining that… “the prophets often intermingle imminent historical events with far distant events. The prophet Isaiah, for example, announces the nearness of the Day of the Lord with reference to the destruction of Babylon by the Medes, saying: ‘Wail, for the day of the Lord is near; as destruction from the Almighty it will come’ (Is. 13:6). In the context of this impending historical judgment, Isaiah describes the final Day of the Lord which will be accompanied by the darkening of the sun, moon, and stars and which ‘will punish the world for its evil and the wicked for their iniquity’" [compare Is. 13:10-11 with Matt 24:29-30].” -Questions about the Sabbath. (texts in brackets are ours)
Isaiah sees the new moon in his vision restored in the context of the restoration of all things, especially Jerusalem (and we know there will be a “new” Jerusalem). His seeing of the new moon, or month, parallel’s that which the apostle John also saw in the restored city (Revelation 22:2). This is, in essence, what Isaiah saw in verses 22-23, the restoration of all things with the original Sabbath of creation week, along with the gathering of all saints, once a month, to rejoice in the Lord and eat of the Tree of Life.
Our response would be incomplete without also…
Of course, such an explanation will not be so readily accepted by the opponents of God’s Sabbath unless they receive answers to what they believe to be discrepancies in this explanation. For instance, verse 24 verse tells us that there will be carcasses present, with worms that “shall not die, neither shall their fire be quenched.” But a little reading of some context, along with some comparisons with the description of the events which lead up to the “New Heavens and the New Earth” can help clear up any confusion.
As noted, Isaiah is viewing the restoration of all things in the context of the restoration of Jerusalem and the gathering of all the faithful Jews from every nation into “my holy mountain.” In verse 15 Isaiah first tells us that the Lord “will come… to render his anger with fury…” In verse 16 he describes what the Lord will use to “plead with all flesh,” mainly, fire and by his sword. As a result… “the slain of the Lord shall be many.” This parallel’s a well known chapter, which most Christians believe is describing either the Second Coming, or the coming of Christ with his saints after the millennium:
(11) I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse…
(12) His eyes were as flame of fire, and on his head were many crowns; and he had a name written, that no man knew, but he himself…
(15) And out of his mouth goeth forth a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations...
(17) And I saw an angel standing in the sun; and he cried with a loud voice, saying to all the fouls that fly in the midst of heaven, Come and gather yourselves together unto the supper of the great God.
Of course, there is much symbolism within this chapter, but nevertheless we see a parallel.
Isaiah then details who will be destroyed by his coming (verse 17-18) and then describes the gathering of all the Jews and Gentiles, who believe in the Lord, into his holy mountain Jerusalem (verses 19-21). God then tells us that as long as the New Heavens and the New Earth, which he will make, shall remain before him… “so shall your seed and your name remain.” Right in the midst of this promise, he adds these words… “which I will make.” God “will” make the New Heaven and the New Earth, and therein will we worship him “from one new moon to another, and from one sabbath to another.”
At the coming down of New Jerusalem, after the comings of the Lord when the slain “of the Lord shall be many,” fire will come down from God out of heaven will devour the wicked:
(9) And they went up on the breadth of the earth, and compassed the camp of the saints about, and the beloved city; and fire came down from God out of heaven, and devoured them.
In comparing Isaiah’s words “the slain of the Lord shall be many” –verse 16, with that of John, we begin to understand why verse 24 says there will be “carcasses” present for the righteous to behold. The people of God are “inside” the “beloved city,” New Jerusalem. In Isaiah 66 we were also told that the people of God would be gathered to “my holy mountain Jerusalem” –verse 20. While Isaiah 66 seems to be more detailed, perhaps describing events which lead up to this gathering, John’s description of events in the Revelation do nevertheless parallel that of Isaiah’s. At that time, soon after they are gathered together within Jerusalem, John tells us the wicked are destroyed “with fire from God out of heaven.” Here we see why Isaiah mentioned carcasses, because around this time the wicked were destroyed by the judgments of God. Just as there are dead bodies mentioned in Isaiah’s account, so there are dead bodies, at least implied, in Johns account!
Or course, a carcass, by definition, would eventually disappear, but since God will immediately after begin creating the “New Heaven and the New Earth (Revelation 21:1) they will quickly pass away along with every other "former things" -Revelation 21:4.
No critic would be satisfied, however, without a response to the objection that it is impossible to have a sabbath, or even a new moon in the newly made Earth, because John said that…
neither need of light.
The following verse is used as a proof text to make this point:
(23) And the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it: for the glory of God did lighten it, and the lamb is the light thereof.
This verse, however, is not saying that that the Sun and the Moon won’t be present, but simply that they wont be “needed.” The reason for this is in the same verse… “for the glory of God did lighten it, and the lamb is the light thereof.”
As an example, the bible tells us that God is light (1 John 1:5, John 8:12). And since he never changes (Malachi 3:6) this means that he was always light. When God created the sun, the moon and the stars in the beginning (Genesis 1:16) this was not because there was “need” of light. He created them to help us tell “time” (Genesis 1:14). Yet he was always the light for all of the universe, and indeed for Adam and Eve. In a similar manner, within the city, New Jerusalem, the light of these heavenly elements will not be “needed.” It’s important to note that Revelation 21:23 is, in context, speaking about the city, not all the earth. Within the city, these elements won’t be needed, for the light will come strait from God and Jesus Christ himself. And of course, being that their light never goes out, there will also “be no night there [in the city]” –Revelation 21:25.
Will these heavenly elements, however, be restored along with everything else? Well, remember the verse says also that there will be a new “heaven.” So the answer is Yes. We are hinted of this also in Revelation 22:2. Despite the fact that they wont be needed in the city, and that there wont be anymore night there, the saints will still gather to eat of the tree of life “every month.” By mentioning the word “month,” already we know there must be time, for you can’t measure a month without time. And since there will be time, there must also be a "moon," one of those heavenly elements. See, these elements wont be needed for "light" but will still serve their original purpose of settling time.
Therefore, since these elements will be restored, they will serve their original purpose, for “signs, and for seasons, and for days, and for years” (Genesis 1:14) to help us know when it’s time to gather for the fruit of the tree, and in like manner when its time to once again celebrate our creator of the “new heavens and the new earth” on the seventh day Sabbath.
For further study, see:
-Question #11: What about verse 24 of Isaiah 66?
-The phrase"evening and morning" in Genesis chapter 1
-Sabbath in Genesis