How Do You "COUNT" Pentecost?
For 40 years the Worldwide Church of God kept Pentecost on a
Monday. Then in 1974 new understanding led the Church to begin
observing Pentecost on Sunday. But now amazing new under-
standing shows that even that arrangement is wrong because the
Church has been counting from the WRONG DAY! Here is the
proof -- the PLAIN TRUTH about Pentecost observance!
William F. Dankenbring
Amazing -- but true! Once human beings begin a pattern of error, it is exceedingly difficult to correct the effor, and to come to the truth! Nevertheless, Herbert W. Armstrong wrote several years ago, "We are all human. We are all fallible. I have been wrong. I have made mistakes. The same is true of all those God is using in HIS WORK."
He goes on,
"God says, 'PROVE all things.' That means you are fallible.
This means all the 'great' men are fallible! ALL are human.
ALL can be wrong -- and nearly all are. The whole world is
DECEIVED (Rev.12:9). . . .
"The very recognition of that fact is the beginning of right
knowledge. We do recognize it -- that we ourselves could be
wrong. That is the first step toward coming out of the fog of error
and deception, starting toward truth."
Herbert Armstrong went on,
"The second step, if you would know TRUTH, is to be to admit
being deceived or in error, and to reject it and accept truth new to
me -- when proved even though unpopular . . . To find and
live the TRUTH requires a HUMBLED mind" (January 1985,
Does that sound incredible? Unbelievable? But why should it? The apostle Jude wrote 1900
years ago, "Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should EARNESTLY CONTEND (fight, struggle, strive) FOR THE FAITH which was once delivered unto the saints" (Jude 3).
It is not easy to be a true, genuine Christian. It is not easy to stand apart, to be separate from the crowd, to accept and practice NEW TRUTH, even when unpopular!
the facts prove that beyond any shadow of doubt, the
Notice, now, the amazing, exciting TRUTH!
God's Original Commandment
Notice God's original commandment about counting the day of Pentecost God said, "And on the fourteenth day of the first month at even is the Lord's passover. And on the fifteenth day of the same month is the feast of unleavened bread unto the Lord: seven days ye must eat unleavened bread. In the first day ye shall have an holy convocation: ye shall do no servile work therein. But ye shall offer an offering made by fire unto the Lord seven days: in the seventh day is an holy convocation: ye shall do no servile work therein" (Lev.23:5-8).
Here the beginning of God's annual festival plan is given to us. The first day of unleavened bread, God says, is a "holy day" -- an annual Sabbath. No servile work is to be done on it or on the seventh day of the feast.
Continuing, "And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying, Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, When ye be come into the land which I give unto you, and shall reap the harvest thereof, then ye shall bring a sheaf of the firstfruits of your harvest unto the priest: And he shall wave the sheaf before the Lord, to be accepted for you: on the morrow after the sabbath the priest shall wave it. And ye shall offer that day when ye wave the sheaf an he lamb without blemish of the first year for a burnt offering unto the Lord . . . And ye shall eat neither bread, nor parched corn, nor green ears, until the selfsame day that ye have brought an offering unto your God: it shall be a STATUTE FOR EVER THROUGHOUT YOUR GENERATIONS in all your dwellings" (vs. 9-14).
is it that this eternal commandment of God has been totally overlooked and
ignored by the people of God, the
The "wave offering" was to be done first; and then the people were permitted to begin partaking of the new spring harvest, and the fruits of the harvest!
God continues: "And ye shall count unto you from the morrow after the sabbath, from the day that ye brought the sheaf of the wave offering; seven sabbaths (weeks) shall be complete: Even unto the morrow after the seventh sabbath (week) shall ye NUMBER FIFTY DAYS. . . . And ye shall proclaim on the selfsame day, that it may be an HOLY CONVOCATION unto you: ye shall do no servile worth therein: it shall be a STATUTE FOR EVER in all your dwellings throughout your generations" (Lev.23:15-21).
the festival of Pentecost is described.
For years the
For example, if you were told to count from one to ten, would you begin with one -- or with two? Common understanding and practice is that you would begin counting, "one, two, three, four," and on to "ten." This is INCLUSIVE counting.
In 1974, after years of controversy and argument, the light finally dawned upon Herbert Armstrong, and he learned that the very translators of the Bible admitted that "inclusive" counting was the original meaning of the Hebrew. Therefore, since he had always begun counting Pentecost by beginning with a Monday, and therefore ending on a Monday, when he switched to beginning on a Sunday, the fifty days now ended on a Sunday, the first day of the week.
seemed to take the
It was the question, what Sabbath Day do you count from? What did God mean, "From the morrow AFTER THE SABBATH"? (Lev.23:15). What Sabbath was that?
Whicb Sabbath Do We Count From?
Some believe that the sabbath intended is the regular weekly sabbath (Lev.23:3). However, others believe that the Sabbath in question is the first high holy day Sabbath of the Feast of Unleavened Bread. In verse 7 of this chapter, God plainly shows that the first day of Unleavened Bread was ordained as a Sabbath -- no servile work was to be done therein, and it was an "holy convocation."
Immediately following this commandment God introduces the offering of the "sheaf of the firstfruits" (verse 10). Verse 11 then explains, continuing on with this same thought, "And he shall wave the sheaf before the Lord, to be accepted for you: on the morrow after the sabbath the priest shall wave it" (Lev.23:11). It is obvious that the CONTEXT ITSELF at least indicates that this sabbath is the First Holy Day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread! Otherwise, confusion would have set in. If God had meant the regular weekly sabbath, and thus change the thought, He would have said "the weekly sabbath," in order to distinguish it from the annual Sabbath which He had just ordained and mentioned in verse 7 of this chapter!
Notice, now, the story flow and sequence of events during this pivotal springtime festival of seven days. First the Passover was slain on the evening of the 14th of Nisan, symbolizing Jesus Christ our Passover Lamb (I Cor.5:7). Then the first day of Unleavened Bread was observed as an annual Sabbath with a holy meeting. Then, the following day, as an integral part of the spring festival, "on the morrow AFI'ER" that Sabbath, the very NEXT morning, the wave sheaf offering was performed by the priest! This event was an integral part of the spring festival. It was not delayed till the morrow after the weekly sabbath.
How did the Jews interpret this expression, "the morrow after the sabbath"?
How Did the Pharisees Count Pentecost?
the days of Christ there were two leading religious sects in
It should be obvious that neither Christ nor the apostles went alone with the Sadducees in their doctrines. In fact, when Paul defended himself before a court of Pharisees and Sadducees, he exclaimed boldly, "Men and brethren, I am a Pharisee, and the son of a Pharisee: of the hope and resurrection of the dead am I called in question" (Acts 23:6). Paul himself had been a Pharisee all his life until his conversion, and still called himself a "Pharisee" long after his conversion.
The Sadducees did not believe in angels, spirits, such as demons, or in an afterlife -- the resurrection. They obviously had gone way far astray in doctrine, but the Pharisees were very conservative guardians of the law and traditions of the fathers (Gal.1:13-14).
Jesus said of the Pharisees, "The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses' seat" (MatL23:2). THIS MEANS HE RECOGNIZED THEIR AUTHORITY AS EXTENDING DOWN FROM MOSES!
Jesus Himself therefore acknowledged the authority of the Pharisees as holding authority from God, although they were abusing and misusing it! He said to His disciples, All therefore whatsoever they BID YOU OBSERVE, THAT OBSERVE AND DO . . . " (Matt.23:3).
How did the Sadducees and Pharisees decide this matter of counting Pentecost?
The Jewish Historian Josephus
The great Jewish historian Josephus who lived during the first century joined the Pharisees at the age of 19 and remained a member for the rest of his life. He was a great Jewish general, leader, and was a member of the priestly family.
In his description of the festival of Pentecost (the name "Pentecost" derives from the Greek
Septuagint translation of the Old Testament, and means "Fiftieth Day"), Josephus writes:
"But ON THE SECOND DAY OF UNLEAVENED BREAD, WHICH IS
THE SIXTEENTH DAY OF THE MONTH, they first partake of the fruits
of the earth, for before that day they do not touch them . . .
"When a week of weeks has passed over after this sacrifice (which weeks
contain forty and nine days,) on the FIFTIETH DAY, which is called
Pentecost . . . (Antiquities of the Jews, Book 3, 10, 5-6).
There was obviously no doubt in the mind of this Jewish leader of 2,000 years ago how to count Pentecost!
The Jameson, Faucett, Brown Commentary says about the sheaf of first fruits, "The offering described in this passage was made on the sixteenth of the first month (Abib or Nisan), the day following the first passover Sabbath, which was on the fifteenth . . . and the second day of the festival, the sixteenth of the
This authority continues, "'ye shall count . . . from the morrow after the sabbath' -- i.e., after the first day of the passover week, which was observed as a Sabbath."
Adam Clarke in his authoritative commentary says of Leviticus 23:15,
"Ye shall count unto you -- seven Sabbaths. That is, from the sixteenth of
the first month to the sixth of the third month. These seven weeks, called
here Sabbaths, were to be complete, i.e., the forty-nine days must be finished,
and the next day, the fiftieth, is what, from the Septuagint, we call PENTECOST."
The Source of the Pentecost Error
How, then, did the Church of God get mixed up counting Pentecost from the wrong day -- that is, from the weekly Sabbath?
This error can be traced back to the liberal sect of the Sadducees. "The Sadducees celebrated it on the fiftieth day (inclusive reckoning) from the first Sunday after Passover (taking the 'sabbath of Leviticus 23:15 to be the weekly sabbath) . . . The Pharisees, however, interpreted the 'sabbath of Leviticus 23:15 as the Festival of Unleavened Bread, and their reckoning became normative in Judaism after 70 AD" ("Pentecost," The New Bible Dictionary).
The interpretation of the Sadducees placed Pentecost on a Sunday -- the day of the "sun," or sun-god! But God never intended His Festival to coincide every year with the day of Baal!
Unger's Bible Dictionary points out: "The Jews, at least as early as the days of Christ, connected with the Passover, and commemorated on the 6th Sivan, the giving of the Decalogue. It was made out from Exodus chapter 19 that the law was delivered on the fiftieth day after the Exodus. . . The Pentecost was essentially linked to the Passover -- that festival which, above all others, expressed the fact of a race chosen and separated from other nations -- and was the solemn termination of the consecrated period."
Says Unger, "The precise meaning of the word Sabbath in this connection, which determines the date for celebrating this festival, has been from time immemorial a matter of dispute. The Boethusians and the Sadducees in the time of the second temple, and the Karaites since the 8th century of the Christian era, have taken 'Sabbath' in the sense of the seventh day of the week, and have maintained that the omer was offered on the day following
that weekly Sabbath which might happen to fall within the seven days of the Passover. THIS WOULD MAKE PENTECOST ALWAYS COME ON THE FIRST DAY OF THE WEEK."
Yes, right on the day of Baal, and Mithra, the pagan sun-god!
Unger continues, "Against this many arguments are presented, showing that such an opinion involves many arbitrary and improbable arrangements. Commenting on Lev.23:15-22, K. and D. say that 'Sabbaths' (v.15) signifies weeks. Consequently, 'the morrow after the seventh Sabbath' (v.16) is the day after the seventh week, not after the.seventh 'Sabbath.' It is therefore evident that the Jews who during the second temple kept Pentecost fifty days after the 16th Nisan, rightly interpreted the injunction in Leviticus 23:15-22."
WHO WERE THE SADDUCEES?
The rabbis say that the Sadducees took their name from their founder Zadok, who lived around 300 B.C. Schurer suggests that the priestly house of Zadok, under the Persian and Greek kings, began to place political considerations above religious considerations. In the time of Antiochus Epiphanes (175-163 B.C.), a large number of priests were friendly to Greek or Hellenistic customs. The high priests Jason, Menelaus and Alcinius were pronounced Hellenizers.
When the Maccabees triumphed, the Hellenistic priests were forced into retirement and driven into politics. They continued to be ready to neglect Jewisb customs and traditions of the elders, and to embrace Greek culture and influence. These "Sadducees" were favored when John Hyrcanus, Aristobulus and Alexander Jannaeus were in their supremacies (134-76 B.C.). The conduct of political affairs was largely in their hands under the Romans and the Herods, for the high priests during this period were Sadducees (Acts 5:17).
The Sadducees were comparatively few in number and were the major opposition to the Pharisees. Most of their followers were wealthy, whereas the multitudes followed the teachings of the Pharisees. The Sadducees held that the written law of God alone was binding and were very severe in the administration of justice (Ant XX, 9, 1). They not only denied the resurrection of the body, and an afterlife, but did not believe in the existence of angels or demons (Acts 23:8; MatL22:23-33), and did not believe in rewards or penalties in the next life (Josephus, Antiquities, X, VIII, 1, 4).
This Jewish sect had strayed far from the Word of God and divine revelation. John the Baptist called them, along with the Pharisees, "a generation of vipers." We read, "But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees come to his baptism, he said unto them, 0 generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come? bring forth therefore fruits meet for
The Sadducees counted Pentecost from the day after the weekly Sabbath which falls within the Feast of Unleavened Bread. However, two Scriptures prove conclusively that we are to count from the day after the first holy day of Unleavened Bread -- and not the weekly Sabbath!
The Offering of the Wave Sheaf
In Leviticus 23, God tells us that "When ye be come into the land which I give unto you, and shall reap the harvest thereof, then ye shall bring a sheaf of the firstfruits of your harvest unto the priest: And he shall wave the sheaf before the Lord, to be accepted for you: ON THE MORROW AFTER THE SABBATH the priest shall wave it" (vs.10-11).
"And ye shall eat neither bread, nor parched corn, nor green ears, UNTEL THE SELFSAME DAY that ye have brought an offering unto your God: it shall be a statute FOREVER throughout your generations in all your dwellings" (v.14).
Notice! God said His people were not to eat of the new harvest UNTIL AFTER they had performed the wave sheaf offering on the "morrow after the sabbath."
What "sabbath" was this? The annual or weekly Sabbath?
Turn over to Joshua, chapter 5. Notice! "And the children of Israel encamped in Gilgal, and KEPT THE PASSOVER on the fourteenth day of the month at even in the plain of Jericho. AND THEY DID EAT OF THE OLD CORN OF THE LAND ON THE MORROW AFTER THE PASSOVER, unleavened cakes, and parched corn IN THE SELFSAME DAY. And the manna ceased on the morrow after they had eaten of the old corn of the land; neither had the children of Israel manna any more; but they did eat of the fruit of the land of Canaan that year" (Josh.5:10-12).
Now notice carefully! God had commanded them to NEVER eat of the harvest of the land until AFTER the wave sheaf offering, on the "morrow after the sabbath" (Lev.23:10-11,14). This was a statute FOR EVER (verse 14).
But notice! When they entered the Promised Land, they ate of the harvest "ON THE MORROW AFTER THE PASSOVER!" In other words, the morrow after the First Day of Unleavened Bread! Remember, Passover was celebrated at the END of the 14th of Nisan, at evening, and was actually eaten on the 15th day of Nisan, after sunset. Thus it led right into the First Day of Unleavened Bread (see Exodus 12:13-16). This is why there were "seven" days of unleavened bread, including Passover, and not "eight" days.
Therefore, as this mysterious verse in Joshua 5 shows, it was the "MORROW AFTER THE PASSOVER" -- or the day after the First Holy Day of Unleavened Bread -- when the Israelites ate of the "old corn of the land, unleavened cakes, and parched corn IN THE SELFSAME DAY" (Joshua 5:11). This verse indicates that they ate of the harvest of the land that year, after wandering 40 years in the wilderness and eating manna, on NISAN 16 -- the day of the wave sheaf offering, the day after the first holy day of Unleavened Bread! What could be clearer?
Clearly, then, the "morrow after the sabbath" of Leviticus 23:11 and the "morrow after the Passover" of Joshua 5:11 are the SAME DAY -- the day after the ANNUAL SABBATH --NOT THE WEEKLY SABBATH! This verse PROVES it beyond doubt!
Why COUNT Fifty, Then?
Some have wondered why, if Pentecost always falls 50 days after Nisan 16, we are admonished to "count" fifty to arrive at the correct date. It would always be Sivan 6. However, this question misses the essential point that Pentecost is not an entirely separate festival, but is closely interrelated with the Passover festival. Whereas the "wave offering" occurs at the beginning of the spring harvest, Pentecost comes at the conclusion of the spring harvest!
The Jews count each day that passes from Nisan 16, with an air of expectancy and anticipation for the final spring harvest holy day -- the day on which the Ten Commandments were given on Mount Sinai -- the day on which God "married" Old Testament Israel, taking her for His bride -- the day on which Israel became "His" in holy wedlock, confmning a covenant of marriage with Him (Jer.7:22-23; Ezek.16:8).
Says Unger, "In accordance with the injunction in Leviticus 23:15, 16, the Jews regularly count every evening the fifty days from the second day of passover until Pentecost, and recite a prayer over it. The three days preceeding the festival, on which the Jews commemorate the giving of the law, are called the three days of separation and sanctification, because the Lord commanded Moses to set bounds about the mount, and that the people should sanctify themselves three days prior to the giving of the law (Exodus 19:12,14, 23)" (Unger's Bible Dictionary, "Festivals").
Why did the people "count" each day as it passed? It was not to determine what day Pentecost would occur on, but as a special observance in itself, "counting down" the days until the final Festival of the springtime harvest would arrive, with all its rejoicing and happiness!
The world uses the same idea when it "counts" the days until its chief holiday, Christmas. Songs have been written about how many days are left until Christmas. This builds and heightens anticipation and suspence and adds to the thrilll and excitement of the final day, when it at last arrives. So it was with Pentecost! God intended for there to be a building air of
excitement and growing thrill of anticipation from the beginning of spring harvest, and the offering of the wave sheaf, until the fmal arrival of Pentecost fifty days later! It is like the building excitement of a wedding day!
That first Pentecost, under Moses, occurred on the Day the Ten Commandments were given at Mount Sinai, the very day God "married" ancient Israel and entered into a covenant relationship with them, taking them as His people, and them taking Him as their one true God!
I had always wondered why of all God's festivals, Pentecost seemed to occur alone, all by itself. Now I see that it does not occur by itself. It is closely tied in with and related to the spring Passover festival! It is the FINAL DAY of the spring Harvest, which begins with Passover!
What a wonderful truth this is!
When Was Chnst Accepted?
Jesus Christ, the Messiah, our Saviour, plainly told us, "The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses' seat: ALL therefore whatsoever they BID YOU OBSERVE (such as counting Pentecost!), THAT OBSERVE AND DO" (MatL23:2-3).
These powerful instructions from Jesus Christ Himself ought to settle the matter on what day we should count Pentecost from.
However, some might object that if we do this, then the "wave sheaf" offering would not fall on Sunday, the day after the weekly Sabbath. Some claim the wave sheaf typifies Christ as the "firstfruits from the grave," being "accepted" of God the Father on Sunday, the first day of the week. They refer to Jesus' words to Mary, the Sunday morning after He arose from the grave, "Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father. . ." (John 20:17).
Some assume that since Jesus had not yet ascended to the Father, that means He was not yet "accepted" by the Father! His ascending to the Father they claim is the fulfillment of the "wave sheaf" offering!
But is that assumption or idea really true? Was the sacrifice of Jesus NOT ACCEPTED of the Father until AFTER THE RESURRECTION and ASCENSION?
There are several problems with this interpretation. First there is no proof Jesus "ascended" to God the Father on that Sunday. Rather, the Scriptures show He did not "ascend to heaven" until some forty days later (Acts 1:3-11), in the sight of all the apostles. In the original Greek language, Jesus' words to Mary, "Touch me not," did not refer to simple touching, but clinging to Him, hanging on to Him, embracing Him. He was telling her not to hold on to Him. Later, however, Thomas even felt His hands, where the nails had been driven (John 20:27).
The truth is, Jesus' sacrifice for our sins was accepted the moment He died for our sins -- not several days "later." His "acceptance" had nothing to do with His "ascension," which did not occur until forty days later! The sacrifice of Jesus for our sins was accepted by Almighty God, our Father, immediately. This fact was corroborated by God with a display of power and divine intervention, when Christ died. The earth quaked. The vail of the Temple was torn in two. Dead saints even arose from their graves, and walked about (Matt.27:51-54)!
Jesus was crucified on a Thursday. Friday of that week was the First Day of Unleavened Bread, an annual Sabbath. Therefore, the wave sheaf offering, which was performed the day after the people of God ate the Passover, symbolizing their partaking of God's deliverance and the blood of the Lamb, was performed on Nisan 16, the weekly Sabbath that week. But this wave sheaf did not symbolize Christ's acceptance -- that had occurred at the very moment He died! Rather, it typified a whole SHEAF of grains being waved and accepted by God the Father -- it symbolized the "FIRSTFRUITS" of God's people -- the SAINTS (James 1:8; Rom.8:23; Rev.14:4). The sheaf was a bundle of many grains -- not just one. It typified MANY PEOPLE being accepted of God the Father, because of the sacrifice of Christ, recently completed! Until that sacrifice, none could be "accepted"! The only way to the Father is through the Son!
It is a false assumption that the acceptance of the offering of Christ did not occur until THREE DAYS after the death of Christ on Thursday. That is sheer nonsense! God accepted His death as payment for our sins as soon as He died. The wave sheaf offering had to do with the acceptance of Christ's sacrifice, or with His resurrection. It was a type of US -- THE FIRSTFRUITS that God has called, who belong to Christ! For more proof on these subjects, write for the article “How Long Was Jesus in the Grave?”, “Jesus’ Last Week,” “Counting the Omer,” “The Wave Sheaf Mystery,” and “Why Did Jesus Say, Don’t Touch Me?”
The plain truth is that the wave sheaf offering occurred right after the first annual holy day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread. We were reconciled to God by the DEATH of His Son. As Paul wrote, "God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them . . . For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him" (11 Cor.5:19-21).
More Incredible Proof
The New Westminster Dictionary of the Bible puts it plainly. It says of Pentecost, or the Feast of Weeks:
"It was so called because its date was set 7 complete weeks after the consecration
of the harvest season by the offering of the sheaf of the first-ripe barley (Lev.23:
15-16; cf. Deut.16:9- 10). This sheaf was waved on the morrow after the Sabbath
(Lev.23:11). The Boethusians (associated with the Sadducees) interpreted this Sabbath
as meaning the weekly Sabbath which occurred during the Festival of Unleavened Bread;
and some modem scholars have adopted this view. The opinion has even been held
that it denoted merely the weekly Sabbath which fell immediately before the
harvest. THE OLDER AND BETTER OPINION IS THAT IT DENOTES THE 1ST
DAY OF THE FESTIVAL OF UNLEAVENED BREAD. The Greek translators
understood it so (Lev.23:7, 11, LXX), as did also those who directed the services of
the 2d Temple (Jos. Antiq.iii.10,5); this lst day was kept as a Sabbath; no work was
done on it and there was a holy convocation; and such rest days, no less than the 7th
day of the week, were called Sabbath (Lev.23:32; 25:2); ON THE MORROW
AFTER THE PASSOVER the new grain was used, which could not be eaten until the
sheaf had been waved before the Lord (Lev.23:14; Josh.5:10-11, RSV)" ("Weeks, Feast
of," page 989).
Here the truth is succinctly expressed. Notice that this authority admits, first of all, that the OLDEST AND BEST view is that Pentecost is to be counted from the day after the first annual Sabbath of the Days of Unleavened Bread -- not from the day after the weekly Sabbath. Notice, secondly, that those wbo directed the sacrifices of the Temple of Zerubbabel, the 2nd Temple, also so understood it. This was the Temple in existence during the time of Christ, and remained in existence until 70 A.D. when it was destroyed by the Romans. Therefore, the Temple services of Pentecost, during the time of Christ were conducted on SIVAN 6, FIFTY DAYS AFTER NISAN 16, JUST AS THE PHARISEES TAUGHT THE PEOPLE!
The Sadducees, even though many of them were priests, had NO POWER TO CONTRAVENE this reality! They were compelled to go along with the Pharisees, who controlled the Temple rituals and religious customs of the ENTIRE NATION OF JUDAH! Thirdly, notice that the translators of the Septuagint, the earliest translation of the Holy Scriptures, into the Greek language, which was often quoted by the New Testament writers, and often used by early Christians, also understood it that way.
What could be clearer?
PROOF OF THE SEPTUAGINT
The Jewish priests from Jerusalem who translated the Hebrew Scriptures into Greek also understood Pentecost to be counted from Nisan 16. But why should the fact that the translators of the Septuagint Version understood it that way be significant? Just what was the Septuagint, anyway?
The Septuagint is the Old Greek version of the Hebrew Scriptures, and the earliest complete translation of them. It was called the Septagint commonly designated LXX, because 70 or 72 translators were reputed to have been employed on translating the Pentateuch during the time of Ptolemy Philadelphus, 285-246 B.C.
According to Josephus, the king of Egypt made application to Eleazar, the high priest at Jerusalem, for 72 interpreters, 6 from each tribe, to make the translation of the Hebrew books of the law into Greek. They arrived in Alexandria, Egypt, were assigned a quiet house on the island of Pharos in the harbor, and transcribed and interpreted the law in 72 days (Antiq. XII,2,1-13). From Egypt the LXX spread to all parts of the Hellenistic-Jewish world. The entire Old Testament was completed by around 150 B.C.
Says The Bible As History, by Werner Keller, "Great celebrations were organized in honour of the visitors from Jerusalem, as whose wisdom and knowledge the king and his courtiers were greatly astonished. After the festivities they betook themselves to the extremely difficult task which had been assigned to them, and for which there was neither prototype nor dictionary. They set to work out at sea, on the island of Pharos off Alexandria . . . Each of them worked in a cell by himself. When the scholars had completed their work and the translations were compared with one another all seventy-two are said to have corresponded exactly, word for word" (p.312).
Obviously, God inspired the original translation of the Torah, or the Five Books of Moses, in the Septuagint! The basic proof for this, however, is not the words of Werner Keller, but the fact that Christ and the apostles quoted from and used the original Septuagint in the vast majority of their quotations from the Old Testament! What better authority do we need? Says the New Westminster Dictionary of the Bible,
The LXX became the 0.T. of the Christians, who used it in their controversies
with the Jews . . . The quotations from the 0.T. in the N.T. ARE USUALLY
CITATIONS FROM YYIE LXY, either verbatim or with unimportant verbal
changes; in other cases the N.T. writers apparently themselves translated
from the original Hebrew. The Ethiopian eunuch whom Philip met was
reading the LXX (Acts 8:30-33)" (ibid, p.972).
Jesus and the apostles usually quoted from the original Septuagint thus bestowing upon it authority as a good translation of God's inspired Word. This acknowledgement of its authority and usefulness on the part of the New Testament writers, under God's inspiration (11 Tim.3:16), is additional strong evidence that the wave sheaf offering was to occur on the day after the first Day of Unleavened Bread, and not the weekly sabbath day. The Septuagint translates the original Hebrew in this way. Since the writers of the New Testament and early Christians all commonly used the Septuagint, this fact establishes the reliability and authenticity of the Septuagint, and its usefulness in areas of Biblical research, including the matter before us at this time.
Says Unger's Bible Dictionary, "Representing a PRE-MASORETIC HEBREW TEXT, THE SEPTUAGINT IS ACCORDINGLY OF BASIC TEXTUAL AND EXEGETICAL VALUE" ("Versions of the Scriptures," p.1147).
Visit a theological library at a college or university or seminary. Or a large public library. And obtain a copy of the Septuagint, translated into English. Look up Leviticus 23 and the verses dealing with the Holy Days, and the counting of Pentecost. If you do this, you will see plainly that the Pharisees were correct in counting from Nisan 16. But of course. Jesus Himself said so. For He said the Pharisees sat "in Moses' seat," and that we should do everthing they bid us observe as regards to the Law of God.
Jesus Himself kept Pentecost at the same time all the other Jews in ancient Judea did. The Pharisees are the ones who created the synagogues throughout the land. And Jesus Christ, on one fme Pentecost day, met in a synagogue with His fellow Jews, all observing the same day of Pentecost as the Pharisees commanded. We can read the story in the book of Luke.
Notice! "He went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and ON THE SABBATH DAY he went into the synagogue, AS WAS HIS CUSTOM. And he stood up to read. The scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him" (Luke 4:16-17).
The Greek word for Sabbath here is literally, "day of the Sabbaths," or "day of weeks." In other words, this particular Sabbath day was PENTECOST! The fact that Jesus Christ, our Saviour, was meeting with other Jews, in a synagogue, on Pentecost, is further evidence that Jesus followed the customs and counting methods of the Pharisees concerning Pentecost! If He had met on the day the Sadducees sanctioned, the Galilean synagogue would have been EMPTY! He would have been the only one there, preaching to Himself alone!
How plain! Isn't it about time we all stop our present day foolishness, and REPENT of error, and "EARNEST CONTEND for the faith which was ONCE delivered to the saints" (Jude 3)?
DOES IT REALLY MATTER?
Does it really make any difference which day we observe? Is It it all right for every man to decide for himself?
Or, if the Church of God selects a particular day, even if it is tecnically wrong, shouldn't we go along with Church authority in this matter?
The question boils down to this: Which is more important, Church authority, or the authority of God's Word?
When the leaders of the Old Testament Church, the congregation of Israel, the Pharisees, commanded the apostles to do something contrary to the instructions of Christ, the apostles, led by Peter and John told them, "We ought to OBEY GOD RATHER THAN MEN" (Acts 5:29).
I know a man several years ago, a high ranking evangelist in the Church of God, who told me in his office that if the Church changed from observing Pentecost from Monday to Sunday, he would still personally observe it on MONDAY -- although he would observe it on Sunday also, so as not to cause trouble. He was double-minded. His ego was apparently at stake, for when the original evidence for changing Pentecost was brought up years prior to that point in time, he had dismissed it without serious question. And now his own pride was at stake! So even though the Church changed, on this small point, in his heart he refused to change, even though he went along with it outwardly.
How important is it that we observe this holy day at the right time?
God expects us to do things as He commanded. To observe His weekly Sabbath on the wrong day -- for example, on Sunday -- is a capital offence to God! It is the Sabbath time itself which God set apart as HOLY TIME -- not merely the idea of keeping any day. Particularly, God abhors the very idea of His people observing in honor to Him the PAGAN day of worship devoted to the pagan SUN GOD -- SUNDAY!
When the original disciples were gathered together, as Luke records, "WHEN THE DAY OF PENTECOST WAS FULLY COME, they were all WITH ONE ACCORD in one place" (Acts 2:1). They had the right time -- the right day!
What happened that day? "And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. And THEY WERE ALL FILLED WITH THE HOLY SPIRIT, and began to speak with
other tongues (languages), as the Spirit gave them utterance" (Acts 2:2-4).
Now notice! If for some reason any of them had been mistaken as to the right day, and had NOT BEEN PRESENT, they would have MISSED OUT on receiving the Holy Spirit when God sent it on that particular day, that Pentecost, when it was "fully come"! They would have been ABSENT. They would have missed the plane -- missed the train -- missed EVERTHING! If they had been observing Sunday that year, which fell on Sivan 8, when the true Pentecost fell on Friday, Sivan 6, they would have missed out on the GREATEST DISPLAY OF THE HOLY SPIRIT in all history, all time, up to that time and to this present day!
Some might think, "Well, Sunday was only two days off." Well, my friends, "close" doesn't count -- except in playing horsehoes!
To God it is very important that we do things correctly, after His prescribed manner and according to His precise instructions.
In the days of David, when the ark of God was being brought from the house of Abinadad in Gibeah, the ark was set in a cart pulled by oxen, contrary to God's command. When a non-Levite tried to steady the ark when the oxen shook it, "God smote him there for his error; and there he died" (II Samuel 6:7).
It does make a difference to GOD!
What About YOU?
What about you? What are you going to do with this totally wonderful new truth? Will you observe Pentecost on the correct, Biblical day this year? Or will you continue in error? Herbert Armstrong wrote in a December 1976 Good News magazine,
"Wouldn't it be all right to compromise, 'just a little,' on some
'unimportant minor point'?
"Nevertheless, if we begin to compromise with God's TRUTH,
even in smallest, slightest manner, we have allowed Satan to
get a foot into the door of the Church, and soon he will push
open the door (he is stronger than we) AND TAKE OVER
THE WHOLE CHURCH."
What a frightful warning those words are! Herbert Armstrong did not live to see that warning fulfilled. But because the leaders of the Worldwide Church of God have rejected this TRUTH ABOUT PENTECOST, this prophecy has come to pass. They opened the door for Satan the devil to enter and gain a foothold; and today he has pushed upon the door and TAKEN OVER THE WHOLE CHURCH!
Since Church leaders have proved that they will NOT repent, the Church is plunging into gross error and compromise. That means, in order to remain faithful to GOD, and His WORD, there is only one thing left to do -- when a church goes astray, into error, and refuses to repent -- ANY CHURCH -- then God's true people MUST LEAVE THAT CHURCH IN ORDER TO OBEY GOD! Their spiritual SALVATION is at stake!!!
Mr. Armstrong added,
"A little leaven leavens the WHOLE LUMP! I have been
charged with the commission of KEEPING GOD'S WORD.
Keeping it inviolate -- NO COMPROMISE! I have never
compromised with God's TRUTH -- regardless of the cost
or the circumstances. I never shall!"
Will YOU compromise, even a "little bit," with the truth of Ahnighty God? A "little leaven" -SIN -- soon leavens the whole lump of dough. The Truth has been proved. The Worldwide Church of God, the Church of God, International, the Global Church of God, the Philadelphia Church of God under Flurry, the United Church of God -- and countless others too numerous to mention, and too small -- have been PROVED TO BE IN ERROR. Will you follow one of them in their sanguinary error? Or will you stand up, and be counted, and come out of BABYLON, and OBEY GOD?
Will you COMPROMISE with God's Word -- or keep it faithfully -- NO COMPROMISE?
What about it?
Herbert Armstrong continued,
"I will CHANGE whenever proved wrong. I will accept
NEW TRUTH as often as PROVED to be new truth to
me or to the Church.
"But I will not compromise with the truth! I never have!"
"I won't compromise - not even 'just
What about YOU? Will you "CHANGE WHEN PROVED WRONG"? Will you "ACCEPT NEW TRUTH"? Will you "compromise" with this exciting new truth about the correct date for Pentecost? "NOT EVEN JUST A LITTLE"? Will you refuse to grow in truth -- refuse to OBEY GOD?
God says stubbomess is as idolatry and witchcraft. God inspired Samuel to tell king Saul, "For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbomess is as iniquity and idolatry. Because thou hast rejected the word of the Lord, he hath also rejected thee from being king" (I Sam.15:23). Saul "compromised." In his own eyes, it was "just a little." And as a result, he was rejected by God, and lost the kingdom! Beware, brethren! If we compromise, like Saul did, we also will be punished, only much greater -- our punishment would be to lose out on eternal life and the real kingdom, the Kingdom of God!
King Saul, upon hearing this reproof and rebuke, confessed that he had sinned, saying that he had "feared the people, and obeyed their voice" (verse 24). He looked to the opinions of the people for guidance, instead of to God! But his problem was more than that. His problem was he feared the people MORE than he FEARED GOD!
Saul did not respect the commandments of God. He "compromised." He was so selfish, and self-centered, and full of his own EGO, that he could not bear to admit error, to humble himself before all the people. He could not admit he was wrong before all the people! Sounds like a lot of "ministers of God," today, doesn't it?
But what about you, personally?
Because of this SIN, God rejected Saul from being His chosen king. Although Saul remained in office for many more years, he had already disqualified himself in God's sight.
What about Church leaders today? Will they repent? Will they change, admit they have been wrong? Will they confess their errors and sins, and begin to OBEY GOD? Will they admit this wonderful NEW TRUTH, receive it with delerious JOY and thankfulness and appreciation and gratitude, and cling to it with conviction and earnestness?
I began preaching this truth in the summer of 1988. Thus far, after eight years of proclaiming the truth, the overwhelming majority of ministers in the Worldwide Church of God, as well as the off-shoot churches of God, have ignorjed it, rejected it, shunted it aside, swept it under the carpet, refused to deal with it in an honest and open manner! Their paychecks are more important to them than the pure truth of God's Word! Shame, shame, shame on them!
Although I have proclaimed it boldly, and written about twenty articles on the subject, they continue to ignore the truth. I have patiently presented it to them, but they have still refused it, rejected it, and adamantly refused to repent! How much longer before the patience of God runs out? How much longer will He call them to repent? How much longer before He casts them into the Great Tribulation, or the lake of fire?
Many have shown by their fruits that they will NOT REPENT!
But forget them for a moment. Let's look at you. What is your excuse? What about you, yourself? Where will you stand?
At the second coming of Christ, will you stand with the righteous and obedient? Or will you stand with the unholy and disobedient? Will you stand with the sheep on His right hand, who obey Him, and who will enter His Kingdom? Or will you stand withs the goats on His left hand, who disobey Him, and who will be thrown into outer darkness, where there is bitter weeping and gnashing of teeth? (see Matt.25:31-46).
Will you enter into eternal life? Or enternal judgment? You must make your own personal choice.
As Herbert Armstrong wrote, many years ago -- ask yourself these questions:
"[Am I] willing to admit being deceived or in error, and
to reject it and accept truth new to me -- when proved
even though unpopular - even though it cuts me off from
my family, friends, associates or club members -- even though
everything in my selfish and vain nature rebels against it? Am
I willing to ACT ON IT -- OBEY the truth no matter what the
These are very serious words! Mr. Armstrong continued:
"To find and hve the TRUTH requires a HUMBI.ED mind. Did
you ever know a person of great intellectual powers who did not
have the kind of VANITY that shrinks from confessing he has
been WRONG -- and has misled others?"
Herman L. Hoeh and Joseph Tkach, Jr., Rod Meredith, Garner Ted Armstrong, Ronald Dart, David Hulme, Gerald Flurry -- read these words, and take a hike! YOU MEN have misled thousands, and tens
of thousands. You should read those words, of your mentor, Herbert W. Armstrong, the man who claim to honor and highly respect, whom you claim to FOLLOW -- and you should fear and tremble before the Throne of Almighty God! Herbert Armstrong declared,
"I had to be willing, continously, to confess being wrong,
and to embrace truths constantly NEW to me."
It is hard to admit error. It is TEN times harder to confess error, than to learn new truth! Regardless of what others may do, what will YOU do with the truth? Are you willing to do accept new truth, and CHANGE, even though it may cost you your church affiliation? Would you even be willing to give up fellowship, if necessary, to embrace new proven TRUTH?
Is eternal life worth it?