Most lunar Sabbatarians and non-lunar Sabbatarians believe that Jesus died on the sixth day of the week in the year AD 31.
The Bible is very clear in the gospel accounts that the day of the crucifixion was the day of preparation—the sixth day of the week, the day before the Sabbath.
And Jesus cried with a loud voice, and gave up the ghost. . . . And now when the even was come, because it was the preparation, that is, the day before the Sabbath, (Mark 15:37, 42)
We have this confirmation of the sixth-day-of-the-week crucifixion from the Pen of Inspiration, as well:
Trouble seemed crowding upon trouble. On the sixth day of the week they had seen their Master die. (Ellen White, The Desire of Ages, p. 794)
How can we say that the year of crucifixion was AD 31? Based on the 70-weeks prophecy of Daniel 9, we know that AD 31 is accurate. The seventieth week of Daniel’s prophecy was from AD 27 to AD 34, and Christ died in the middle of the final prophetic week which was the spring of AD 31.
There are three further New Testament proofs to show that AD 27 was the year of baptism of Jesus which makes AD 31 (after three and a half years of ministry) the death of our Lord.
Proof 1: The death of Herod
Herod died, according to historical records, in 4 BC (Paul S. Karleen, The Handbook to Bible Study, page 332 and Sharon Rusten with E. Michael, The Complete Book of When & Where in the Bible and Throughout History, page 67), and Jesus was born just before the death of Herod, according to the Gospels (Matthew 2:19, 20). Jesus was baptized when He was about thirty years old, according to Luke (Luke 3:23), so that puts Jesus’ baptism at AD 27, thirty years from 4 BC.
Proof 2: The fifteenth year of Tiberius Caesar
Luke records the baptism of Jesus to be in the fifteenth year of Tiberius Caesar (Luke 3:1, 21). According to historical records, the fifteenth year of Tiberius Caesar was AD 27 (The Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, volume 5, page 714)
Proof 3: The building of the Temple
When Jesus visited the Jerusalem temple for the first time after His baptism in the month of Abib, the first Jewish month, He had a discussion with the leaders of the Jews. He said, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up” (John 2:19), to which they replied that the temple had been in construction for forty-six years, so how could He re-build it in three days?
From historical records we know that Herod started to rebuild the temple in 20/19 BC (David S. Dockery et al., Holman Bible Handbook, page 522). Forty-six years later puts the baptism of Jesus in AD 27.
The year AD 31 is also confirmed in the Spirit of Prophecy:
In the spring of A. D. 31, Christ the true sacrifice was offered on Calvary. (Ellen White, The Desire of Ages, p. 233)
Lunar Sabbatarians also believe that in AD 31, on the sixth day of the week, Jesus died.
Passover falls on the 6thday of the week … (Author not given, www.worldslast chance.com; accessed 12–30–13 at http://www.worldslastchance.com/ecourses/lessons/12-criteria-of-true-crucifixion-date-ecourse/22/criteria-7-12.html)
The prophecies of Daniel pinpoint A.D. 31 as the year Yahushua was crucified . . . (Author not given, www.worldslast chance.com; accessed 12–30–13 at http://www.worldslastchance.com/ecourses/lessons/12-criteria-of-true-crucifixion-date-ecourse/22/tradition-or-truth.html)
Not only does Ellen White call it the sixth day of the week, but she also calls it Friday which is the sixth day of the week in the Gregorian calendar:
From eyewitnesses some of the disciples had obtained quite a full account of the events of Friday. Others beheld the scenes of the crucifixion with their own eyes. (Christ Triumphant, p. 295)
The lunar Sabbatarians believe you cannot get a Friday crucifixion in AD 31 if the Gregorian calendar is used. It is only possible with a luni-solar calendar, they say:
The problem that when you superimpose a luni-solar calendar on top of the Julian calendar for AD 31, you do not and you can not have a Friday crucifixion. (Author not given, www.worldslastchance.com; accessed on 12–30–13 and 1–8–14 at http://www.worldslastchance.com/the-gra ce-amadon-research-of-1938/i-was-told-that-in-the-grace-amadon-collection-pro ves-that-the-sda-church-leaders.html. Using this url will take you to a page at World’s Last Chance that says this particular page of information is no longer available, but if you search in Google for “when you superimpose a luni-solar calendar,” the second hit takes you to the page at the World’s Last Chance website which uses the above url! Interesting.)
The problem arises from the fact that when the new moon for Nisan is found (which is easily done because the moon is so predictable) and you count up 14 days to the Passover/crucifixion you do not have Friday. (Ibid.)
They are saying, according to the astronomical data available on the phases of the new moon and full moon in the year AD 31, the full moon (Passover is always during full moon) in April was on Wednesday in the Gregorian calendar. They also say there is no way you can get a Friday crucifixion in AD 31, and they say in AD 33 you can get a Friday crucifixion in the month of April.
Though many Protestants and the Catholic Church believe that Christ was crucified on a Friday in AD 33, Seventh-day Adventists believe, and have always believed, it occurred in AD 31 because of Daniel’s time prophecy that started in 457 BC and ended in AD 1844. The important time tucked in between is AD 31. If the crucifixion did not occur in AD 31, then the 2300 year prophecy did not end in 1844! So it is a serious challenge to one of our most important beliefs.
Look at what the lunar Sabbatarians are saying about this:
As people who believe in the 2300 day/year prophecy of Daniel 8:14 beginning in 457 BC, there is no other possible year [AD 31] for the crucifixion, unless you are willing to give up 457 BC, October 22, 1844, (the ending date of the prophecy) and thus, Ellen White as well. (Ibid.)
We have seen from Daniel’s time prophecy that the crucifixion year was indeed AD 31, and we have seen that the day of the week was indeed the sixth day of the week. We have also seen that the Pen of Inspiration agrees to it and calls the sixth day of the week Friday—the Friday of the Gregorian calendar.
The Astronomical Facts
Yes, since the phases of the moon can be predicted pretty accurately, we can, with modern technology and computation, go backward or forward to find out the phases of the moon at any given month of any year.
So going back to the year AD 31, we get from reliable sources that the astronomical new moon in April occurred on the 10th of April at 11:32 a.m. The lunar Sabbatarians agree to this. Here is what they say:
The year was A.D. 31 and the first month of that year was April. Since N.A.S.A identifies the Gregorian 10th day to be the conjunction, all we must do is add a day to arrive at the first visible crescent as viewed in the night sky following sunset on the 11th of April. The following day April 12 is then New Moon day, which is also the first day of the lunisolar month of Abib/Nissan. Since we know from Scripture that Christ Yahushua died on the 14th of the lunisolar month of Abib/Nissan, then we simply count to 14 and, therefore, arrive at Wednesday April 25, A.D. 31, as the day of Christ Yahushua’s crucifixion.” (Kerrie L. French, The New Moon, When is it?; accessed on 12–30–13 at http://www. thecreatorscalendar.com/Articles/New_Moon_When_OLD/New_Moon_When/02_New_Moon_When.html)
Yes, the new moon in the first Jewish month was April 10th, but that is the new moon in conjunction. The biblical new moon, as they also say, is the crescent new moon. The lunar Sabbatarians have just added one day extra to arrive at the first visible crescent to be viewed in the night sky of April 11th.
Only the astronomical new moon can be found through calculations, not the crescent new moon. Does the crescent moon always appear in one day’s time? No!
Read what The United States Naval Observatory has to say about the crescent moon:
Although the date and time of each New Moon can be computed exactly (see, for example, Phases of the Moon in Data Services), the visibility of the lunar crescent as a function of the Moon’s “age” - the time counted from New Moon - depends upon many factors and cannot be predicted with certainty. In the first two days after New Moon, the young crescent Moon appears very low in the western sky after sunset, and must be viewed through bright twilight. It sets shortly after sunset.” (The United States Naval Observatory, Crescent Moon Visibility; accessed 12–30–13 at http://aa.usno.navy.mil/faq/docs/crescent.php)
Again, The United States Naval Observatory says:
The sighting of the lunar crescent within one day of New Moon is usually difficult. The crescent at this time is quite thin, has a low surface brightness, and can easily be lost in the twilight. Generally, the lunar crescent will become visible to suitably-located, experienced observers with good sky conditions about one day after New Moon. However, the time that the crescent actually becomes visible varies quite a bit from one month to another. (Ibid.)
The United States Naval Observatory says that “the sighting of the lunar crescent within one day of New Moon is usually difficult,” yet the lunar Sabbatarians have added only one day from the astronomical new moon to the crescent new moon!
The lunar Sabbatarians also believe that it is not always possible to have a crescent new moon on a fixed day:
If the crescent is observed for just a minute or less before full dark and then disappears, it is considered too young to be a new moon. When this occasionally occurs, sighting is delayed until the following night. (Author not given, Crescent Moon Sighting Instructions, www.worldslastchance.com; page acces- sed for original publication, but no longer available at this website)
The Karaite Jews say this about the sighting of the crescent moon:
. . . the ancient Israelites would have been well aware of the Crescent New Moon. In ancient societies people worked from dawn to dusk and they would have noticed the Old Moon getting smaller and smaller in the morning sky. When the morning moon had disappeared the ancient Israelites would have anxiously awaited its reappearance 1.5-3.5 days later in the evening sky. Having disappeared for several days and then appearing anew in the early evening sky they would have called it the “New Moon” or “Hodesh” (from Hadash meaning “New”). (The Karaite Korner, The New Moon in the Hebrew Bible; accessed 12–30–13 at http://www.karaite-korner.org/new_moon.shtml).
We are told by this group of Jews that it takes up to three and half days from the astronomical moon to the crescent moon! Why does it take between one-and-half to three-and-half days between the astronomical new moon and the crescent new moon? That is because the speed of the moon varies due to the shape of its orbit.
The United States Naval Observatory says:
The Moon’s orbit is elliptical, and its speed is greatest when it is near perigee, least near apogee. If perigee occurs near New Moon, the Moon will appear to be moving away from the Sun in the sky at a greater than average rate. (The United States Naval Observatory, Ibid.)
We are not disputing the fact that the astronomical new moon in April AD 31 occurred on April 10th. We are questioning the credibility of adding just one day to the astronomical new moon as the lunar Sabbatarians have stated above should be done.
We are told by The United States Naval Observatory that sometimes even two days are too few to see the crescent new moon. The number of days depends on several factors. The Karaite Jews tell us that it could take up to three and a half days. There are no scientific records at all for the crescent moon appearances because there is no single parameter for its calculation.
However, the time that the crescent actually becomes visible varies quite a bit from one month to another. (Ibid.)
How can the lunar Sabbatarians conclude, as if it were a scientific fact that the crescent new moon in April AD 31 was on the twelfth? They have only added around one-and-half days to the astronomical moon, but we are told it can take any time between 1.5-3.5 days.
We are equally justified to add 3.5 days to the astronomical new moon and arrive at the fourteenth of April as the crescent new moon!
The Jewish month starts from the crescent new moon. The 14th day is the Passover.
In the fourteenth day of the first month at even is the LORD’S Passover.” (Leviticus 23:5)
The fourteenth day from April 14 is April 27, and it is Friday in the Gregorian calendar!
The lunar Sabbatarians may say that when Jesus died, it was the full moon because fourteen days after the crescent new moon comes the full moon, and The United States Naval Observatory records that April 25 in AD 31 was the full moon, not April 27. But let us not forget that the ancient Israelites did not have the advance of scientific knowledge that we have today. They were not going by astronomical new moons and astronomical full moons. They were going by the new moon and full moon visible to the naked eye, and the lunar Sabbatarians agree to this.
Ellen White also wrote that it was a full moon the day Jesus died:
In company with His disciples, the Saviour slowly made His way to the garden of Gethsemane. The Passover moon, broad and full, shone from a cloudless sky. The city of pilgrims’ tents was hushed into silence. (The Desire of Ages, p. 685)
Since it was not an astronomical new moon, it also was not an astronomical full moon. Is it possible to see the moon as broad and full for more than a single night? Try it out. You can never know the difference the day before the astronomical full moon, the day of the astronomical full moon, and the day after the astronomical full moon.
Here is a quote from the best of places:
Although Full Moon occurs each month at a specific date and time, the Moon’s disk may appear to be full for several nights in a row if it is clear. This is because the percentage of the Moon’s disk that appears illuminated changes very slowly around the time of Full Moon . . . The Moon may appear 100% illuminated only on the night closest to the time of exact Full Moon, but on the night before and night after will appear 97–99% illuminated; most people would not notice the difference. Even two days from Full Moon the Moon’s disk is 93–97% illuminated. (The United States Naval Observatory, The Royal Gazetteonline, Moon Phases; accessed 12–30–13 at http://www.royalgazette.com/ static/pdf/moon%20phases.pdf)
The prophet of the Lord was right calling it a sixth-day-of-the-week Friday crucifixion in AD 31.
So we have proved that it is possible to have an AD 31 crucifixion that falls on a Friday even in the Gregorian calendar!
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