Using the Bible and an exegetical approach to research, we first examine the teachings of Jehovah's Witnesses. However, our goal is to help Christians to draw closer to our Lord and our Father and to develop the qualities of love, faith, and hope.
When is Nisan 14 in 2020?
When is Nisan 14 in 2020 (Jewish Calendar Year 5780)?
New Moon in the Western Sky begins the lunar month.
The Jewish Calendar consists of 12 lunar months of 29.5 days each, bringing the “return of the year” in 354 days, falling short by 11 and one-quarter days of the solar year length. So the first problem in determining the date is to choose which new moon will mark the first month of the sacred year (as opposed to the start of the agricultural year which is 6 months latter).
In the 4th century of our common era the rabbi Hillel II established an official Jewish Calendar that has been in use since then. A 13th lunar month is added 7 times in 19 years to make up the shortfall. The long years (13 months) occur at the end of years 3, 6, 8, 11, 14, 17 and 19 in the cycle, which is named for the Greek astronomer, Meton, who first devised it in the fifth century before our common era.
This cycle pattern is similar to the black keys on the piano, representing the grouping of long years.
Piano Key pattern of 13-month years in 19 year Metonic Cycle
This means that by simply observing the calendar, we can determine which years correspond to this pattern of long years. Since the 20th century the first year on the Jewish calendar in the 19-year groups began in 1902, and again in 1921, 1940, 1959, 1978, 1997, and 2016. The first 13-month year of the current cycle occurred in 2019, corresponding with C# on the piano scales as year 3.
Jehovah’s Witnesses have followed this same pattern since the first World War. However, their first year in the cycle occurs 14 years after the Jewish system, or 5 years earlier in the over-lapping scale of time. So in 2020, the Jewish calendar is at year 5 (12 months), while the Witnesses are at year 10 (also 12 months.) The mis-matches between the two parallel systems occur in years 1, 9 and 12 of the Jewish system, when those years are short, whereas the Witnesses are observing long years 6, 14, and 17 at the same corresponding time. Likewise, while the Jews are observing adar-adar, their 13th month in their years 3 and 14, Witnesses are starting Nisan a month earlier. This means that although Witnesses claim to follow the Jewish passover for Nisan 14, in 5 out of 19 years, there is a month difference in setting the date for Nisan 14.
According to this for 2020 (5780) both systems have a short year, with Nisan starting with the new moon just after the spring equinox. That astronomical conjunction of the moon and the sun will occur at 11:29 am on March 24th (28th day of the Jewish month Adar) Jerusalem time, with the sun setting just before 6 pm. In order for a star or a dark face moon to be visible, the sun must be at least 8 degrees below the horizon, and the body observed must be 3 degrees above the horizon. Therefore, the new moon will not be visible in Jerusalem that evening, even with the best weather, and the next day will be the 29th of Adar.
The moon moves to the left of the sun when the sun is high in the sky in its daily arc, or it appears to rise above it at sunset at the rate of one diameter per hour or 0.508 degrees of arc out of 360. Therefore to separate from the sun by the required 11 degrees, at least 22 hours of time must elapse after the time of conjunction or point of passing in the observed sky.
Sunset the next evening in Jerusalem on March 25th will occur at 5:54 pm local time (GMT+2), when the sun will descend below the horizon. Thirty-two minutes later the sun will be 8 degrees below the horizon, but the lunar month’s astronomical age will be 30.5 hours old, placing the moon about 7 degrees above the horizon, allowing for a visual sighting. Therefore, Witnesses will start their month of Nisan at sunset on Wednesday March 25th. This means that Nisan 14 will begin at sunset on Tuesday, April 7th,
Abide, Sweet Spirit
[This article was contributed by Alex Rover]
Dear brothers and sisters, seldom I have researched such an intimate and beautiful topic. As I worked on this article, I was in a state of joy ready to sing praise at all times.
So sweet and precious the Psalmist thought of the holy spirit he prayed:
Create for me a pure heart, O God! Renew a resolute spirit within me! Do not reject me! Do not take your Holy Spirit away from me! -- Ps 51:10-11
Scripture likens us to clay in the hands of our Father, our potter. (Isa 64:8, Rom 9:21) Our bodies, like clay containers, yearn to be complete and full. In Ephesians 5:18 Paul commanded us to be “filled with the spirit” and in 1 Corinthians 3:16 we read that the spirit of God “may dwell in us”. (Compare 2 Tim 1:14; Acts 6:5; Eph 5:18; Rom 8:11)
The Holy Spirit is a Gift.
Repent, and each one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:38) 
While the spirit is a gift freely given to us (1 Cor 2:12), the spirit of holiness cannot be received by an impure vessel. “What do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness?” (2 Cor 6:14) Therefore baptism in the name of Jesus Christ for forgiveness of our sins is a prerequisite, his cleansing blood wiping out every trace of wickedness.
As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us. Just as a father has compassion on his children, so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him. – Psalm 103:12-13
Therefore if the spirit bears witness with you that you are the Father’s child, be assured that your sins are forgiven, for the spirit of holiness that dwells in you was freely given to you by the Father in response to our Savior’s petition.
Then I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to be with you forever – John 14:16
Thus, should we desire to receive Holy Spirit, we first need to repent of our sins, obtain forgiveness through Christ’s blood and be baptized in his name. Next, we need to make it known to the Father that we wish to receive his spirit of holiness:
If you then, although you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him! – Luke 11:13
This desiring and petitioning the Father for his spirit is so beautifully illustrated by the Psalmist in our opening verse, and our own wishes resonate with the words in 1 Thessalonians 5:23:
Now may the God of peace himself make you completely holy and may your spirit and soul and body be kept entirely blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Walk by Spirit
Walking by spirit conveys the thoughts of following, holding on to, standing by and going along with. When we become filled with spirit, spirit permeates our every thought. It prevents the carrying out of the cravings of our sinful nature. (Gal 5:16 NLT)
Calvinism – Total Depravity Part 2
[this article is contributed by Alex Rover]
In part 1 of this article, we have examined the Calvinistic teaching of Total Depravity. Total Depravity is the doctrine describing the human condition before God as creatures who are completely dead in sin and unable to save themselves.
The problem we found with this doctrine is in the word ‘total’. While human depravity is an indisputable fact, we demonstrated in part 1 the problems arising from taking it to Calvinistic extremes. I believe that the key to approaching this topic with the correct balance is found in 1 Corinthians 5:6
"Don't you know that a little yeast leavens the whole batch of dough?"
We can see humans as both evil and good at the same time, each having a portion of the yeast that is sin, hence fully dead. Therefore, I submit that it is possible to see humans as inherently good and still be able to satisfy the fact of us being wholly dead in sin and unable to save ourselves.
Imagine: a certain woman is 99% good, and 1% sinful. If we met such a woman, we would probably call her a saint. But the 1% of sinfulness would act as yeast, and would make her 100% dead in sin, and unable to save herself.
Something is missing from the picture. How can she be 100% dead in sin, yet be 99% good?
Holy, Holy, Holy
In Isaiah’s vision of Jehovah God in His Glory, one seraphim calls out to another and said:
"Holy, Holy, Holy, is the LORD of hosts, The whole earth is full of His glory.” (Isaiah 6:2 ESV)
At this, the doorposts were shaking and the temple of Jehovah was filled with smoke. That’s when Isaiah realized and said: “I am ruined for I am a man of unclean lips.” Unless we truly appreciate our Father’s ultimate Holiness, we cannot understand our own depravity. Even the tiniest speckle of sin would make us fall down on our knees before our superlatively Holy Father. In this light we proclaim: “WOE IS ME, FOR I AM RUINED” (Isaiah 6:5 NASB).
Then one of the Seraphim flew to Isaiah with a burning coal in his hand, which he had taken from the altar. He touched his mouth with it and said: “Behold, this has touched your lips, and your wickedness is removed and your sin is atoned for.” (Isaiah 6:6-7)
Only if our sins are atoned for, we can approach God and start to know him as a Father. We understand that we are totally dead in our sin and unworthy to approach him without our mediator Christ. Meditating on his enduring love and activity (Psalm 77:12) along with his Holiness will help us to develop a genuine bond with him and never allow our hearts to be hardened.
Hymns of Dawn - Holy, Holy, Holy
1 Holy, holy, holy! Lord God Almighty!
Early in the morning our song shall rise to Thee:
Holy, holy, holy! merciful and mighty!
God in The Highest, blessed Majesty.
2 Holy, holy, holy! all the saints adore Thee,
Casting down their golden crowns around the glassy sea;
Cherubim and seraphim falling down before Thee,
Which wast, and art, and evermore shalt be.
3 Holy, holy, holy! though the darkness hide Thee,
Though the eye of sinful man Thy glory may not see,
Only Thou art holy; there is none beside Thee
Perfect in pow’r, in love, and purity.
4 Holy, holy, holy! Lord God Almighty!
All Thy works shall praise Thy Name, in earth, and sky, and sea,
Holy, holy, holy! merciful and mighty!
Yea, let thy Son be blest eternally.
In His Image
In his image we were made, to resemble his Holiness, to abound in love and wisdom and might. To reflect his glory. (Gen 1:27)
Let’s analyze Genesis 2:7:
“The LORD Yahweh formed the man from the soil of the ground [...
Let Nothing Deprive You of the Prize
[From ws17/11 p. 25 – January 22-28]
“Let no man deprive you of the prize.” – Col 2:18.
Consider this picture. On the left we have two old people looking forward to the hope of being with Christ in the Kingdom of the Heavens. On the right we have young people looking forward to the hope of living in a paradise earth.
In reference to Christians—to repeat, in reference to Christians—does the Bible speak of two hopes? The last paragraph of this study concludes: “The prize before us—whether immortal life in heaven or everlasting life on a paradise earth—is marvelous to contemplate.” Is this teaching based on Scripture?
Granted, the Bible speaks of two resurrections.
“And I have hope toward God, which hope these men also look forward to, that there is going to be a resurrection of both the righteous and the unrighteous.” (Ac 24:15)
When Paul refers to “these men”, he is referring to the Jewish leaders who were standing before him in a judicial hearing seeking his death. Even these opposers believed in two resurrections, as did Paul. Nevertheless, Paul’s personal hope was to achieve the resurrection of the righteous.
“I am pressing on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God by means of Christ Jesus.” (Php 3:14)
So why would Paul say that he had “hope toward God…that there is going to be a resurrection of…the unrighteous” if he wasn’t hoping for that end himself?
The love of Christ was in Paul as it should be in all his followers. Just as God does not wish any to be destroyed, Paul, secure in his own hope, also hoped for a resurrection of unrighteous ones. This was not a guarantee of salvation, but it was an opportunity for such.
Jesus said: “But if anyone hears my sayings and does not keep them, I do not judge him; for I came, not to judge the world, but to save the world.” (Joh 12:47) Judgment day is yet future, so those who have died—even those who have heard Jesus sayings, but not kept them—are not judged unworthy of the opportunity of life. There is a hope for such unrighteous ones. Many of these will be those who call themselves Christian; who hear Jesus’ sayings, yet do not keep them.
However, that is not the message that Jehovah’s Witnesses are imparting via the opening illustration of this article. For Witnesses, there are actually three resurrections. One of the unrighteous to earth, and two of the righteous: one to heaven and the other to earth. Righteous non-spirit-anointed Jehovah’s Witnesses are known as the other sheep of John 10:16. These are declared righteous as God’s friends to live everlastingly on the earth. They get resurrected at the start of the 1,000 reign of Christ to prepare the way for the resurrection of the unrighteous which follows. The righteous Jehovah’s Witnesses will teach and instruct the unrighteous hordes that will return progressively. Other sheep elders among Jehovah’s Witnesses will serve as rulers or princes on the earth for the anointed kings ruling far away in heaven with Christ. (This is how Witnesses misapply Isaiah 32:1, 2 which clearly applies to the anointed brothers of Christ who rule with him in the kingdom of the heavens. – Re 20:4-6)
Here’s the problem: The Bible doesn’t teach this earthly resurrection of righteous other sheep.
With that in mind, let’s look at all the evidence provided in this article to support the idea that the other sheep of John 10:16 are not part of the anointed followers of Jesus, the children of God.
To be clear, we’re dealing with finding proof that everyone depicted on the right side of the opening illustration is envisioning a legitimate hope as they picture their prize.
The other sheep have a different hope. They look forward to gaining the prize of everlasting life on earth—and what a happy prospect that is...
I Know He Will Rise
[From ws17/12 p. 3 – January 29-February 4]
“Our friend has fallen asleep, but I am traveling there to awaken him.”—John 11:11.
A rare article that sticks to what the Bible says without introducing doctrines of men. All in all, an encouraging review of historical resurrections to give us faith in the future resurrection.
Of course, the subtext to this article is that the attendees at this week's Watchtower Study will be thinking only of an earthly resurrection for themselves. It is the only hope offered to them in the publications. In fact, JW theology teaches three resurrections, not the two that Jesus and Paul referred to at John 5:28, 29 and Acts 24:15. Besides the earthly resurrection of the unrighteous, they teach two resurrections of the righteous—one to heaven and another to earth.
So according to the Organization, Daniel will be resurrected to imperfect, sinful life on earth as part of the earthly resurrection of the righteous while Lazarus, as one of the anointed who died after Jesus, will be resurrected to immortal heavenly life.
A discussion of the nature of the heavenly resurrection can wait until another, more opportune occasion. For now, the question that concerns us is whether there is reason to believe that Daniel and Lazarus will share in the same resurrection or not.
The basis for the belief of Jehovah’s Witnesses is that only those who died after the death of Jesus can lay claim to the heavenly hope, since the spirit of adoption was only poured out on them. Faithful servants, like Daniel, cannot expect that resurrection, having died prior to the outpouring of redemptive Holy Spirit.
This is the only basis for this belief, and it should be noted that there is nothing explicitly stated in Scripture to support it. It is a deduction based on the premise that the adoption of sons cannot be applied retroactively, nor given to dead people. Perhaps another reason for this belief is that the Organization limits the number of those getting the heavenly reward to 144,000; a number that would surely have already been reached by the time Jesus walked the earth, if we are to include all the faithful servants from Abel down to Jesus’ day. (There were 7,000 alone in the day of Elijah—Romans 11:2-4)
Of course, the premise that Jehovah cannot pour out his Holy Spirit of adoption on dead people ignores the Bible truth that to Him, his faithful servants are not dead!
“‘I am the God of Abraham and the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob’. He is the God, not of the dead, but of the living.” (Mt 22:32)
Another indication that the pre-Christian servants of God will join with the disciples of Jesus in the kingdom of the heavens is given by Christ when he says:
“But I tell YOU that many from eastern parts and western parts will come and recline at the table with Abraham and Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of the heavens; 12 whereas the sons of the kingdom will be thrown into the darkness outside.” (Mt 8:11, 12)
And then we have the transfiguration. Some of his disciples bore witness to a transfiguration in which Jesus was seen coming in his kingdom with Moses and Elijah. How could that apparition reflect the true nature of the kingdom of the heavens if Moses and Elijah are not to take part in it along with the Apostles?
This article has unwittingly provided us with one more proof of this. Martha refers to the same time period as the angel did who reassured Daniel of his reward.
The message to the prophet Daniel continued: “You will stand up for your lot at the end of the days.” – par. 18 (See Daniel 12:13)
Martha clearly had reason to be confident that her faithful brother, Lazarus, would “rise in the resurrection on the last day.” The promise given to Daniel, as well as the certainty reflected in Martha’s reply to Jesus, should reassure Christians today.
“I Have Hope Toward God”
[From ws17/12 p. 8 – February 5-11]
“The last Adam became a life-giving spirit.”—1 Cor. 15:45
What a pity that after last week’s delightful review of the Bible resurrection accounts, this week’s study wastes no time in getting off on the wrong foot:
IF YOU were asked, ‘What are the key teachings of your faith?’ what would you say? Surely you would stress that Jehovah is the Creator and Life-Giver. You would likely mention your belief in Jesus Christ, who died as a ransom. And you would happily add that an earthly paradise is ahead, where God’s people will live forever. But would you mention the resurrection as one of your most cherished beliefs? – par. 1
We might stress that Jehovah is the Creator and Life-Giver, but only mention Jesus as the one who died as a ransom?! “Oh, yes, there was also this nice fellow named Jesus who died for us. Isn’t that just peachy keen? He did some other stuff too. A really fine, all around chap.”
Having critically reviewed every Watchtower study for several years now, I can attest to the fact that Jesus is viewed as our exemplar—i.e. someone to imitate—and as our ransom—i.e. our ticket into paradise. That pretty much says it all. We don’t like to focus on him, as that takes away from our focus on Jehovah. We seem to think we can gain access to God without going through the door that is Jesus.
In the last paragraph of the study, we come back to the idea that Jehovah is doing all the resurrecting with this statement:
“Proving that Jehovah is capable of resurrecting the dead…” – par. 21
Of course, Jehovah is the ultimate source of life, but given that we're quoting from John 5:28, 29 in the paragraph, maybe we should consider what it actually says.
“Most truly I say to you, the hour is coming, and it is now, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who have paid attention will live. 26 For just as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted also to the Son to have life in himself. 27 And he has given him authority to do judging, because he is the Son of man. 28 Do not be amazed at this, for the hour is coming in which all those in the memorial tombs will hear his voice 29 and come out, those who did good things to a resurrection of life, and those who practiced vile things to a resurrection of judgment.” (Joh 5:25-29)
Does this sound like Jehovah is doing the resurrecting? Is it God’s voice they hear and respond to? If so, then why has He granted the Son to have life in himself and why is Jesus called “a life-giving spirit” in 1 Corinthians?
Shouldn’t food at the proper time be accurate and give honor where honor is due?
The other expression in this first paragraph that is off-putting may not be so quickly apparent: “you would happily add that an earthly paradise is ahead, where God’s people will live forever.” Not God’s children, not God’s family, but God’s people. We don’t live forever because we are God’s people. The Israelites were God’s people, for instance, but not his children. The subjects of a ruler may benefit from being governed by a benevolent king, but the children of a father inherit, which is far better. As children, we “inherit everlasting life” and much more. (Mt 19:29; 20:8; 25:34; Mark 10:17; Heb 1:14; Re 21:7) So why does the Watchtower constantly focus on friendship with God, not a family relationship? Why does it always speak of Christians as God’s people, but not his children? That is not the message of the good news. It is a foreign good news. (Gal 1:6-8)
The Organization has a long history of getting the timing of things wrong. They do this by supposing that there are exceptions and loop holes to the prohibitions God imposes. For instance, paragraph 13 states: “Jesus did tell his apostles that there were things they did not and could not know.
My family and I studied with Jehovah Witnesses after buying a house from a couple, who are also our neighbors, that are witnesses and have been for a long time, even went the the Hall for awhile, because we have the true love of Jesus in our hearts we were able to distinguish from the misinformation and know that this is not the truth, but it certainly shook things up in the meantime and this is great to listen to from a Christian perspective to continue our efforts to seek THE TRUTH and stand up for ourselves and Jesus when things are brought up and witness to them.