Written on January 20, 2015. By Shari Norvell
Blanketed in darkness, the moon waits, tucked into it’s heavenly vault like a precious treasure. Around it, all is still, but not motionless, quiet but not silent. For stars sing and the earth rotates, in worship of the Creator, expectantly awaiting the declaration soon to burst forth.
Like players on a stage awaiting the rise of the curtain, they are. For there is a story to tell, a poem to recite, a masterpiece to unveil. The poignant pause is the moon’s shabbat. Nestled in the vastness, as the heavens calibrate for the coming scene.
A lunar event has occurred in preparation for what is to come. Calibration, alignment, completion, so the next chapter can be read. The sun, earth and moon now hang like a mobile in a perfect line. In this conjunction, no part of the moon can be seen. For two to three days, it dwells there, flawlessly concealed awaiting the moment when the Director says action. For the breathtaking moment when it rushes onstage to play the character named Rosh Chodesh.
As the curtain rises, light pierces. A waxing crescent appears in the shape of a shofar. There is an announcement to make, a declaration to fill the air. For when the moon hung invisible it was given a seed, that when basked in light will grow and become full. The seed is part of a story that needs a retelling, even as it is yet to be told. That seeds holds the ancient along with that which can be created to complement and complete the original tale.
In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters. And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. God saw that the light was good, and he separated the light from the darkness. Genesis 1:1-3
Rosh Chodesh rebroadcasts the story of Genesis. It reminds us of the beginning. It restores us to the truth that the first moment He gave a part of himself away, it was in the form of light radiant with love. He was unafraid to place himself in darkness. Though Genesis 1 says the light was good, it does not say the darkness was bad. It is simply incomplete until love’s light fills it.
God reminds. God retells. And in doing so, God restores us to the story we were created to live. How crushing the reality that we forget. How glorious the truth that He moves Heaven and earth so we will remember.
Each chapter begins the same as the story it dwells in, “Let there be light.” The first line is our first invitation, “Be light.” For we were filled with it when He breathed that first breath into us. It burst forth when we responded to what we received and exhaled. The first time we gave away what was given. Just breathe. Doing so reminds and renews. We were blanketed in darkness too, until light bathed us.
Rosh Chodesh summons us. To worship. Not the orb of rebirthed light, but the One whose hovering hand hung it there. The One whose finger it dangles from. The Narrator that refuses to stop telling the story, all the while fiercely and tenderly inviting us to practice our lines, get over our stage fright and run to the stage, so the world will see the story, moment by moment, person by person, act by act.
“And beware, lest you lift up your eyes to heaven and see the sun and the moon and the stars, all the host of heaven, and be drawn away and worship them and serve them, those which Yahweh your Elohim has allotted to all the peoples under the whole heaven” Deuteronomy 4:19.
Pappa does not desire that we would worship anything He created. At the same time, He longs for us to watch for and observe the signs and markers He placed within creation. That we would honor and follow His unique calendar and the setting of His special holy days. One of the first invitations God gave the Israelites after the Exodus, was to watch for the new moon and sanctify it through worship.
The Lord said to Moses and Aaron in Egypt, “This month is to be for you the first month, the first month of your year. Exodus 12:1-2
Also at your times of rejoicing—your appointed festivals and New Moon feasts—you are to sound the trumpets over your burnt offerings and fellowship offerings, and they will be a memorial for you before your God. I am the Lord your God.” Numbers 10:10
They were invited to return to the original calendar God placed in the sky for all to see and described in Genesis 1:14:
And God said, “Let there be lights in the vault of the sky to separate the day from the night, and let them serve as signs to mark sacred times, and days and years,
Always the cry to return. He never gives up. In Egypt, there were other gods before the Israelites and their choice was continually to re-turn to their God. In the place of exile, there was a god for each part of the calendar (sun, moon, planets and stars) for nothing is whole when Pappa isn’t the source. The markers and signs He so tenderly hung to establish time, were simply objects to be worshipped in pagan lands. And Pappa knew that though He had just taken them out of Egypt, there was yet some Egypt to take out of them.
Throughout scripture, Old Testament and New, the invitation is given (Numbers 10:10; 28:11-15; 1Chronicles 23:31; 2Chronicles 2:4; 8:13; 31:3; Ezra 3:5; Ezekiel 46:1, 3, 6; Colossians 2:16, Acts 18:21; 27:9; 1Corinthians 5:7-8) to look to the light to find our way. A prophecy is found in Ezekiel 46:3 that says the observance of the new moon, the opening of the new month will be kept even in the coming Kingdom.
The people of the land shall also worship at the doorway of that gate before the Lord on the sabbaths and on the new moons.
And throughout history, we find that whenever God’s people were in captivity, there were certain things the enemies of God always sought to take away. Shabbat, Rosh Chodesh and the Feast were the top of the list. What a revelation this holds. The command was to not obey God. A demand to cover a fear. For the enemy of God’s heart is terrified of a people who obey, who respond to the invitation to love with wholehearted abiding and fulfillment. There is an earth shaking, heaven opening power in a people like that. The enemy can’t write the story, he is not an author. And so he seeks to have us do the rewrites he desires, by our own hand, by our own wayward hearts.
The original calendar look much different then the ones we have today. The first time that the waxing crescent moon was visible from Jerusalem marked the beginning of the new month. The Sanhedrin would declare the new month after receiving the testimony of two reliable witnesses that they had seen the new moon. Then the message was spread throughout Israel and Babylonia via small fires on hilltops. When a new moon was announced, someone would go to the top of the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem with a long pole of wood. He would set the end of his pole on fire and wave it around until he could see someone on another hilltop waving his own pole. The second person waved his pole until he could see a third person waving, and so on until the message reached Babylonia. Eventually the Samaritans began lighting fires on hilltops in order to mislead the Jews, and so instead of fires, messengers were sent out from Jerusalem.
Scripture uses the same Hebrew word for both “new moon” and “month.” The new moon is linked to and sets the beginning of the month. Our wall calendars (gregorian) portray the conjunction with a large black dot and call it a “new moon.” But in reality it is the concealed moon, pregnant with a story to tell. Modern calendars don’t follow the original way of setting the first day of the month by the visual new moon, and instead calculate it.
Man calculates that which was always meant to be observed. “Natsar’ and ‘shamar’ are hebrew words for “observe” and mean “to keep, preserve, consider, retain and treasure.” Our modern calendars are based on calculations, but we were created to observe. Calculations lead to proof. And proof is always the enemy of love. Proof turns us into law abiding citizens instead of love pursuing people. Please don’t misunderstand. I am not proposing law breaking in our here and now. I am just speaking to the enemies plan to be thwarted. If we believe that God is law in the definition it became through the Pharisees and Sadducees then rules, regulations and prohibitions confine us instead of love defining us. Love leads us to desire to honor the boundaries that protect us and lead us to limitless life.
Not only do the lights or marks in the heavenliness tell us what “time it is”, they tell the story of God and His people. Deuteronomy 33:14-16 speaks of the sun and moon.
And for the precious fruits brought forth by the sun, and for the precious things put forth by the moon.
Naturally, the moon lags behind the sun, reflecting the light that comes from it. It follows, doing what the sun does, releasing light. The closer the moon comes to the sun or the more it faces it, the more light it contains. The more it has to release. And so it is with us and our great light, Jesus! The more we face Him, turn towards Him, the more light we become. The more we catch, the more we release!
No detail has been left out of the story Pappa began. There is something in everything because all is in Him. His design is to release Himself through us. This truth leads to an expression of Him that I absolutely adore.
The moon has four phases, just as there are four covenants we walk through (servant, friend, inheritance and betrothal). Each phase of the moon last approximately seven days, which is the hebrew number for maturity, perfection and wholeness. Oh, but that our “phases” lasted seven days!
The first part of the moon’s journey begins with the waxing crescent, which means “moving to fulness.” The partial illumination reveals the shofar and the scene begins, and so it is with us, so is our entrance to the servant covenant. We cross the threshold between darkness and light, shining and aware of the One who called us as we proclaim our covenant. We begin to see the story we are a part of and like scribes grasp our quills and parchment in order to describe what plays out before us.
Now, the moon begins to “plump” and “fill the hollows” for it has an appointment to declare. It is ‘kacah’ or an appointed time.
Sound the ram’s horn at the new moon, and when the moon is full, at the day of our feast” Psalm 81:3
Fully facing the sun, completely illuminated, the harvest moon glows. On its way to the nearest proximity to the sun, it vibrates and turns, just as we wrestle our way to our resting place next to Him. Face to face we come, and realize things really aren’t as dark as they seem. Farmers work longer under a harvest moon and we learn to dwell longer with Him in the friendship covenant and our intertwined gaze.
The moon begins to wane, with a crescent dangling from the other side like a sickle ready for reaping. The moon has benefitted from a mighty deposit and is ready to spend it. We do the same in the Inheritance Covenant. In that place, we realize how rich we are and move forward to invest, spend, pour out what we have received. Our hearts spill out for the harvest and there is nothing we wouldn’t give to carry the sheaves into the storehouses.
Having completed a monumental task, the moon finds Shabbat as it and the sun are perfectly aligned. Hidden, concealed it receives the seed for the next chapter. Oh, the glory of dwelling in the betrothal chamber, the bridal place. The one in which we do nothing separate from HIM, secure in the promise. Rested, reconciled and renewed.
I could stop. Maybe I should. But I have one more tale to tell that reveals the heart of a passionate father, wild lover and completed spouses, no longer plural.
The entire lunar cycle takes approximately 29½ days. Since a month needs to consist of complete days, a month is sometimes twenty-nine days long and is known as ‘chaser’ or “missing” and sometimes the month is thirty days long, called ‘malei’ or “full”. Time is ever signed by Him in so many overwhelming ways. One month He reveals to us His desire fulfilled, another His longing for what is missing.