Edited Sermon Transcript
Jon W. Brisby; 6-28-2003
Today, brethren, we’re going to pick up where I left off last time on this topic of counting Pentecost. This is the continuation of the Fundamentals of Belief of the Church of God, The Eternal series. Fundamental number twenty-one says:
We believe that Pentecost always falls on a Monday—following a complete fifty-day count from the Sabbath occurring within the Days of Unleavened Bread. That this day pictures the receipt of God’s Holy Spirit and the beginning of the New Testament Church.
And so, I’ve given you the foundation of the reasons why we came to keep a Monday Pentecost, originally. I explained how Mr. Armstrong was first inspired by God to know Monday was the right day, and how we kept that Holy Day for almost forty years before 1974 when it was changed on the basis of technical scholarship—and for very nefarious reasons, not honest reasons at all. I’ve gone through and hammered repeatedly, brethren, that our confidence is not going to be in our technical understanding of Greek and Hebrew words. It is going to be in the simplicity of Christ—the divine revelation that He gave on which He founded His Church—which allows even simple-minded people, whom God has placed within His Church, to understand and to have confidence in the Truth.
We are the simple-minded—all of us—because God called us into His Church, and He didn’t call the great ones. He called the weak and the base things. That’s who we are. He gave us a system that allowed even the weak—not the scholars or geniuses of the world, but us, the weak—to be able to understand and have confidence in these things. What is that basis of our confidence? The knowledge that Christ founded the Church, and Jesus Christ does not lie. Yes, He uses a human instrument—a weak human instrument, which is subject to failure and to mistakes—but we have to come to believe, brethren, that when God chooses to use a human instrument to reveal His Truth, He’s not going to allow that human being to err in how He transcribes and relays those doctrines. He may allow that human instrument to make mistakes in other ways—maybe in administrative decisions or in other aspects, but not in the doctrine, because that comes from Jesus Christ. So that is our basis for understanding, and our confidence in spite of what these men have come up with to try and tell us otherwise.
So, last time, we finally got into the technicalities of the Monday Pentecost count. For those who can grasp those things, I’m trying to make it as simple as I possibly can to allow you to understand that the technicalities from the Bible, in the Hebrew, absolutely substantiate what Mr. Armstrong taught us about a Monday Pentecost. That’s what is absolutely phenomenal to me—because it is there.
And so, last time, I outlined for you, just in quick review, that in order to know how to count anything, you’ve got to understand the building blocks—the formula for counting. And so, no matter what it is, what are the four elements that we have to have in order to count? We have to know the start date. You’ve got to have an anchor of where you’re going to begin to count. That’s one of the key pieces we must have. What else did we find? You have to know how many days, or whatever, that you’re counting. That’s part number two. You’ve got to have a start; you’ve got to know how many units you’re counting. For the Pentecost count, we’re counting days. What are the other two elements? You’ve got to know whether or not that first day is included or excluded, and you’ve got to know—part four—whether or not the last day of the count is included or excluded. Remember, I explained that to you with the example of starting a race. Is it one, two, three, and you go on three? Or is it one, two, three, go? That tells you the dilemma about having to make decisions on inclusive or exclusive.
I also went through and explained to you the simple English count by which Mr. Armstrong explained the revelation of a Monday Pentecost. Does that mean that it was through this English count, and only by believing in an English count, that he came to Monday? Not at all. Mr. Armstrong first became convinced that Sunday could not be Pentecost before he did anything with the counting. God revealed that to him. Now, those who don’t want to believe that Mr. Armstrong was inspired by God, will just say, “Well, he already had a blind spot there. He kind of made up, according to his own reasons, that Sunday wasn’t it; and therefore, he ruled it out, and he shouldn’t have.” That’s what they’ll say. “He was biased to start. He wasn’t objective. He wasn’t willing to look at everything openly.”
Let me ask you this, brethren: If you’ve got the master sitting down to instruct you one-on-one, and you have absolute confidence that this master knows, will you not go by exactly what he trains you to do? You bet you will. God is that Master. He is the Teacher, and He was the one who taught Herbert Armstrong through divine revelation, just like He did with all of these other apostles that we read about in the Bible. He taught him directly, and He said, “Sunday’s not it.” He planted that thought in Mr. Armstrong’s mind. Mr. Armstrong had a strong aversion to Sunday. He knew that God would not have started His New Testament Church on Satan’s pagan day of worship, and so Sunday was ruled out. And it was through that means that God, then, revealed to him that it must be Monday.
But then, as I explained to you, by the simple reading in the English of Leviticus 23, verses 15 and 16, he applied common sense from what he understood of counting—the way we count, and the way the banking system counts money and days. That’s how he came up with the substantiation for that which God revealed to him. Does that mean that the English count was holy? No. There are some who want to claim that. I’m not going to address that. I’ll address that next time when I get into some of these other contentions about Pentecost. Today, I want to complete the issues of the accurate Hebrew count in Leviticus and Deuteronomy.
So we explained the basis of the English count. Mr. Armstrong counted away—out of—Sunday. He accepted that the Sunday following the weekly Sabbath during the Days of Unleavened Bread was the start point. I gave you the example of playing hopscotch. If you’re standing on the concrete, inside a square labeled Sunday, do you count “one” while you’re standing still? Or do you count “one” the first time you jump to the next square in front of you? Mr. Armstrong did it according to an English, exclusive count. He didn’t count “one” until he leapt from Sunday to Monday. That’s how he counted away—out of. Is that the same way we count in the Hebrew? No. Hebrew counting is very different from that. But guess what? When you count correctly in the Hebrew, you’re going to arrive at the same day that Mr. Armstrong did. And that, my dear brethren, is an incredible miracle in and of itself.
So we saw that Mr. Armstrong’s English count was exclusive; that means he excluded Sunday. He started from Sunday as his beginning point, but then day one of the count was Monday. From Sunday to Monday was one, which in reality is excluding the first day of the count. That’s why it’s called an exclusive count—in the same way that the bank is not going to consider you in debt to them for having borrowed money until that loan is one day old. You don’t immediately owe them interest when you’ve just taken out the loan. You don’t owe them interest until you’ve already had that loan for at least a day; then you owe them interest. That was the orientation that Mr. Armstrong took with it, which is the way that God used in order to help him understand the revealed day of Monday. We’re not going to contend with that at all. At the same time, Mr. Raymond Cole understood that this was not the Hebrew method for counting, which means there was no way he was going to be able to stand up to these who were arguing according to the Hebrew enumeration rule, and make any headway or have any credibility at all, if we just wanted to argue from the perspective of an English count. The Bible wasn’t written in English. It was Raymond Cole who understood the correct Hebrew count—God gave him that capacity—and it supports the same conclusion that Mr. Armstrong came to.
We also saw that there are two different counts—the count in Leviticus 23 and the count in Deuteronomy 16—and they are not the same count. The Leviticus 23 count is how many days? Fifty. “Number fifty days.” That’s what it says in verse 16. What about in Deuteronomy 16? Seven weeks. It’s not a fifty-day count; it’s a forty-nine-day count. They are two different counts—something that most people do not even fathom. They try and make them the same. They are not the same. You cannot have the same count if one is only a forty-nine-day commanded count and the other is a fifty-day commanded count. They are two different counts. The fact that they end on the same day means what? They must begin on a different day. And so, I went through and explained to you why God gave two different counts.
Why a fifty-day count? Why a separate forty-nine-day count? Because the start day for the fifty-day count in Leviticus points to Jesus Christ as the wavesheaf offering—the first of the firstfruits—the first human being who died and was resurrected to immortality in that God Family. He was the first one out of humanity to qualify for immortality. He was the first of the firstfruits, but He was a part of that same general harvest that you and I are a part of now as the Church of God. That wavesheaf, that stalk that was cut first in order to be brought before the priest on wavesheaf Sunday, was out of the general harvest. It wasn’t out of its own separate patch, a little holy patch, that was grown separately just for the wavesheaf. No, it was out of the general harvest with all of the rest. It was just the first that was cut out and offered for this special offering before God. And so, the fifty-day count which begins with that wavesheaf Sunday, points us to Jesus Christ as the first of the firstfruits—the one who went before all else and who qualified first as the forerunner and our Elder Brother to give us that hope of eternal life.
Why the forty-nine-day count of Deuteronomy 16, which obviously can’t begin on Sunday? If a fifty-day count beginning on Sunday ends on Pentecost, how can a forty-nine-day count beginning on Sunday end in the same day? It can’t. You’d be a day off on the end. The only way a forty-nine and a fifty-day count end in the same day, is if they begin one day apart at the beginning. That tells you that the Deuteronomy count begins on Monday. Monday is day one. Why? Monday was the first day of the general harvest. After wavesheaf Sunday was over, the entire general harvest was begun, and the fruits of that harvest were going to be brought into the storerooms. That’s the harvest that pictures you and me, brethren. That pictures our salvation—being born into that very Family, just like Jesus Christ was. That’s why we have the separate forty-nine-day count. It’s an absolutely beautiful picture of God’s plan.
So, obviously, we’re going to focus on the fifty-day count in Leviticus 23 because that was the one that was so contentious and the one that was used for justification for this change from Monday to Sunday back in 1974. That’s where we’re going to spend our time. Okay, so we’ve talked about the building blocks. We’ve talked about the different pieces. Now we want to start to put them all together. We want to go back and focus on the start day. How do we have confidence of when this Pentecost count is supposed to start? Wavesheaf day is the Sunday following the weekly Sabbath occurring within the Days of Unleavened Bread. But how do we prove that?
Notice Leviticus 23, verse 11. Here’s where the command begins:
And he shall wave the sheaf before the [Eternal], to be accepted for you: on the morrow after the sabbath the priest shall wave it.
As I went through last time, defining which Sabbath this is, is a major contention. It’s interpreted by those who go back to the Pharisee method of counting, which is what modern Judaism does today, that this is not the weekly Sabbath, but the first day of Unleavened Bread—the high Sabbath. And so they count from the day after Nisan 15—Nisan 16, the high Sabbath. Fifty days later—or actually, forty-nine days later—they end up on Sivan 6. Believe it or not, the Pharisees admit that they only count forty-nine days. But that’s not our topic right now. If they actually counted fifty days, they’d end up on Sivan 7. But according to their count, beginning from Nisan 16, they end up on Sivan 6 every single year.
So, why do you need to count? If that is what God intended to do, why did He have us count Pentecost, rather than just giving us the date on the calendar for Pentecost like He did for every other Holy Day? He told us that the Passover is the 14th of the first month, and the first day of Unleavened Bread is the 15th of the first month. We know that Trumpets is always the first day of the seventh month. Atonement is the 10th day, and the Feast of Tabernacles begins on the 15th day of the seventh month. So why didn’t He just tell us a date on the calendar for Pentecost, if it has one? If Sivan 6 is the calendric date for Pentecost, and if it’s that way every single year, why didn’t He tell us?
Well, obviously, to us, it doesn’t make sense, and the reason is because it doesn’t fall on a particular calendar date every year. It falls on a particular day of the week, which can be several different dates on the calendar from year to year. That’s why Pentecost has to be counted. Now, what will the Jews tell you, and those of our former affiliation who have embraced this idea that we should look to the Jews for our authority for keeping Pentecost? They keep Sivan 6 today. Shame on them. They know better. They used to keep Monday Pentecost with us, and now they’re out espousing a Sivan 6. Shame on them. But how do they justify it? They say, “The reason we count is not because we need to count in order to know the day, but because God wants us to count in anticipation of, and looking forward to, the coming of Pentecost. He wants us to actually count fifty days, every day, toward the coming of Pentecost—in anticipation of this great Holy Day.” Have you ever heard so much mumbo-jumbo in your life? But that’s how they rationalize around it.
Do we have more technical evidence to substantiate that it should be a weekly Sabbath, and not an annual day, that we start from? Yes, we do. This “sabbath” here in Leviticus 23, verse 11, is not just the word shabbath; it is hashabbath. What is ha in the Hebrew? It’s the definite article “the.” It’s the same way you understand, brethren, that if I say to you in the English, “Sabbath,” it leaves it open. You don’t know whether I’m talking about the weekly Sabbath that comes every seven days, or whether I’m talking about an annual Sabbath. You don’t know, if I just say, “Sabbath.” But if I say, “the Sabbath,” it gives you a specific connotation of the weekly Sabbath, doesn’t it? Because that’s how we use it. When we talk about the Sabbath day, we’re talking about the weekly Sabbath. It works the same way in the Hebrew. When you see ha in front of shabbath, “the Sabbath,” it does denote the weekly Sabbath. I’m going to give you some evidence of that in just a little bit, but let me get to a couple of other points first. Drop down to verse number 15 of Leviticus 23:
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 shall be complete.
So, whatever this day is that’s going to be day one of our count—our starting point—it’s “from the day that ye brought the sheaf of the wave offering.” We’ve already talked about the significance of that wave offering. Who was it? It was Jesus Christ. That’s who it pictured. That’s what that wavesheaf offering was all about. It was looking to, foreshadowing, the coming of Jesus Christ who was going to become our High Priest in heaven, our Advocate with the Father. We’re talking about His qualification—not only being resurrected to immortality, but also qualifying to be in that office of the Lord of Lords, your Advocate and mine, at the throne of God. That’s what His qualification as the wavesheaf did.
Now, how can we believe and be sure, as true Christians, that this wavesheaf day was truly a Sunday, and not the 16th of Nisan, whatever day that is that follows the first day of Unleavened Bread every year? How can we be certain that wavesheaf day is the Sunday following a weekly Sabbath every year? All we have to do, brethren, is look to the time chronicled in the New Testament about Christ’s crucifixion and His resurrection, and it will tell you. Christ is that wavesheaf. As the first of the firstfruits, He was first raised from the dead, but then He had to be accepted of the Father before He was sanctified. All we need to do is look at the story of how He was sanctified. It tells us in the New Testament. Turn to John 20 and verse 16.
Now, what I’m not going to do is go back and repeat all of the details about the last week of His life and that final Passover because I’ve done that in an earlier fundamental. I think it was under the topic of the resurrection of Jesus Christ, and I went through the story of that final week in detail. We confirmed that it was Passover that He kept with His disciples on a Tuesday evening before He was arrested right after midnight. It was on Wednesday morning that He was crucified at about 9:00 in the morning. He was on the stake for approximately six hours before He died at about 3:00 in the afternoon on Wednesday, and He was laid in the tomb very near, or exactly at, sunset Wednesday evening. And guess what? It was that Wednesday evening that began the first High Day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread. So, in that year of His death, the first day of Unleavened Bread was a Thursday, and we understand that Jesus Christ was in the grave a full seventy-two hours—three days and three nights. When that rock was rolled in front of that tomb, that began the count of the three days and the three nights in the grave. And so, seventy-two hours later from Wednesday evening at sunset is, when? Saturday evening, right as the sun was setting. That is when our Savior was resurrected from the dead. Then we pick it up the following morning—several hours later, around sunrise on Sunday morning, after He had already been resurrected from the grave—and now there is this encounter with Mary Magdalene at the empty tomb.
John 20, verse 16:
Jesus saith unto her, Mary. She turned herself, and saith unto him, Rabboni; which is to say, Master. Jesus saith unto her, Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father: but go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God.
Why was it, then, that He did not allow her to touch Him at this time? He said it was because He had not yet ascended to His Father. Why? He had not yet ascended to participate in this wavesheaf ceremony. All that had happened at this point is that He had been resurrected to immortality out of the grave several hours before, but He had not yet gone through the official ceremony at the throne of His Father where He became the High Priest. That just didn’t happen automatically. God is very formal, and He does have His ceremonies and His rituals that He requires, and so you had better believe that there was going to be an incredible ceremony where God’s resurrected Son was going to ascend up to that throne. We can’t even begin to imagine the kind of pageantry that would have been involved in this great ceremony where Jesus Christ, the resurrected Son, was given this official office as High Priest.
Remember, brethren, this is the point where the priesthood was transferred away from the human descendants of Aaron, and was now turning back to its original descent, which was from Melchisedec. Remember, the priesthood began with Melchisedec, who was Jesus Christ, and then when Israel was raised up and formed as a nation, that God of the Old Testament—who was the one who became Jesus Christ—vested that power of the priesthood into Aaron and his descendants. So, the transition took place all the way back at the time of Moses. But now, we’re talking about the time when the transition is going back. The priesthood is changing back to Melchisedec, the resurrected Jesus Christ, who now holds that office and title of Lord of Lords, our great High Priest in heaven. This is the incredible ceremony that took place at the very throne of God, and it happened on this day following His resurrection. What day was that? It was a Sunday. He was resurrected Saturday evening when the sun went down, and here now, we have His very own words to Mary on Sunday morning. As of this point in time, He had not yet ascended. And yet, we know that during that day He did ascend, and by the end of that same Sunday—the first day of the week—He had come back after the ceremony was completed.
Notice Matthew 28 and verse 8:
And they departed quickly from the sepulchre with fear and great joy; and did run to bring his disciples word. And as they went to tell his disciples, behold, Jesus met them [Okay, now, He’s already come back. How do we know?], saying, All hail. And they came and held him by the feet, and worshipped him.
What does this tell us? If He allowed them to touch Him—if He allowed these disciples to hold Him by the feet—something must have happened between this time and the earlier time when He did not allow Mary Magdalene to touch Him. What was it that occurred in these intervening hours? He had ascended all the way to the throne of His Father; He had gone through this incredible ceremony of acceptance, even that which was originally pictured and foreshadowed by the command to Israel of the wavesheaf. Now the real thing actually happened. It came to pass, and it happened at the throne of God. Now He is vested with the power and the authority of the High Priesthood of Melchisedec. He now returns to begin a final forty-day ministry to those disciples, who would become apostles, in order to prepare them to become His ambassadors and representatives on the earth. And so, on the afternoon of this same day, He returns.
To you, brethren, who believe in the account concerning Jesus Christ, do you have any doubt what day of the week wavesheaf day is, the day from which we’re going to start the Pentecost count? Why do the Jews reject Sunday as wavesheaf day, and instead pick Nisan 16? Because they reject Christ. They don’t consider Jesus Christ in their determination of these things at all. Christ doesn’t enter into the picture for them. They don’t recognize Jesus Christ as representing the wavesheaf, so they’re certainly not going to look to the example in the New Testament, which they don’t accept, as the picture of what happened and the means by which to determine these things. Yet Christ, by His own example, proves to us what the start date of the count is. It’s amazing to me that these who were once a part of this Body and who learned like we did, and who still profess Jesus Christ, absolutely reject Sunday as the first day of the count. Instead, they embrace the deceived Pharisees and their Nisan 16 start. It’s tragic. Does it help just to have the right start date? No. Most of our former brethren have not embraced the Pharisaic error. They start with Sunday, and they still mess it up.
Before I get into that, this term hashabbath occurs thirty-seven times in the Old Testament. Twenty-five of those thirty-seven times, it definitely specifies the weekly Sabbath. Let me give you just one example—Exodus 16 and verse 29. This is to answer those who want to say, “Well, we’re not going to accept that the configuration of the last week of Christ’s life, and His death and resurrection, pinpoints wavesheaf day. That’s not what we’re going to use.” Okay, we’ll give them a little bit more of the technicalities on something that they should be able to understand. They won’t accept it even so, but we have the evidence, so we’re willing to submit it to those who are opened-minded. This term hashabbath does not leave open the possibility for an annual Sabbath. Twenty-five of the thirty-seven times that it’s used in the Old Testament, it means the weekly Sabbath.
Exodus 16:29: “See, for that the [Eternal] hath given you the sabbath [hashabbath], therefore . . .” Are we maybe talking about an annual Sabbath? What kind of Sabbath is God referring to here?
See, for that the [Eternal] hath given you the sabbath [Maybe He’s talking about an annual day; let’s keep reading.], therefore he giveth you on the sixth day the bread of two days; abide ye every man in his place, let no man go out of his place on the seventh day. So the people rested on the seventh day.
Now, is there any doubt about which Sabbath this is speaking of? This is the seventh-day Sabbath—the weekly Sabbath—not an annual Sabbath. The phrase here in the Hebrew is hashabbath—the Sabbath. We’re not going to turn to all the others, but there are twenty-four other ones just like it where the context hashabbath refers specifically to the weekly Sabbath.
What about the other twelve? The other twelve don’t specify one way or the other, and that includes the three that are in Leviticus 23, verses 15 and 16, which provide the contention. They just simply say hashabbath—the Sabbath—but there’s nothing else in the context that pinpoints it as the seventh day of the week. So twelve of the thirty-seven uses of hashabbath in the Old Testament don’t tell you one way or the other whether it’s the weekly Sabbath or an annual Sabbath. But twenty-five times it does, and it is specifically the weekly Sabbath. Now, what’s the preponderance of evidence there? Hashabbath means the weekly Sabbath. That’s what it’s telling you. Some will want to say, “Well, there’s still a possibility that it might mean an annual Sabbath.” You can believe what you want, brethren. That’s what human beings are going to do. They’re locked in, and they’ve decided because they have an idol in their own minds that they refuse to let go of. They’re going to hold it with their teeth to the very end just like a mad dog, even if they drag themselves to their deaths. That’s basically what these people are doing with their false concepts. So be it. We’re not going to be fooled and taken down the trail by their idols of mind.
So, our start day for the beginning of the Pentecost count, by this preponderance of evidence, is going to be the Sunday following a weekly Sabbath. The other issue is, and we’re going to get to this next time because I don’t want to belabor it here: Is it the weekly Sabbath that has to fall within the seven days of Unleavened Bread, or is it wavesheaf Sunday that has to be within the seven days of Unleavened Bread? For most years, it doesn’t matter. About every seven years, it does make a difference, and it will throw your Pentecost off by an entire week. We’ll talk about that next time. For now, we’ve got our start date; it is going to be a Sunday. We’re going to start from a Sunday that follows the weekly Sabbath that falls within the seven days of Unleavened Bread. That’s our start date.
Now what’s the next part of the formula that we need to know? Last time, we went through and I showed you that in Leviticus 23 and verse 16, it says, “Number fifty days.” So, how many days are we going to number? Fifty. Pretty simple. We found our start day—wavesheaf Sunday. It is a Sunday, so that’s where we’re going to start our count. But are we ready? Do we have everything we need yet? No. Are we going to count inclusively or exclusively? Here’s the tough part. Is it, “One, two, three,” or is it, “One, two, three, go”? With the first part of the question, we are in agreement with those who changed in 1974. We are not in agreement with the result of their change because they changed to keep Sunday, but we are in agreement with the meaning of the Hebrew term that tells us whether it’s an inclusive or an exclusive count in verse number 15.
Let’s read verse 15 of Leviticus 23: “And ye shall count unto you from the morrow . . .” This is the biggest, most contested phrase, maybe of all time, within the Church—on this issue of Pentecost.
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 shall be complete.
What does this phrase, “from the morrow,” really mean in the Hebrew? It is the phrase in the Hebrew, mimohorat. According to the Hebrew enumeration rule, all agree. What I’m saying is, here’s the one point of commonality we’re going to have with these liberals who changed Pentecost in 1974. We will agree with them on this point: that the start date—this mimohorat—means that the first day must be included in the count. According to the Hebrew, Sunday must be day one. In Hebrew, that’s the way it has to be.
Now, you see, that was a change from the way Mr. Armstrong did his English count because, remember, as I told you, he was counting exclusively. He started on Sunday, but he jumped to Monday before he said, “One.” Now, according to the Hebrew, you’re standing on that hopscotch square labeled Sunday, and we’re going to count “one” right where we stand—before we jump. That’s what we’re talking about. It’s an inclusive count; it means your starting point, where you are anchored at the beginning, is a part of the count. So you count that place where you are. Sunday is day one. In the Hebrew, that is accurate. That is what this mimohorat means. It means inclusive. It means the beginning of your count must be a part of the count. It’s not what Mr. Armstrong did in the English count, but I’m telling you, brethren, you’re still going to come out with the same day for Pentecost. You just wait and see.
The prefix mi, or min—another derivative—requires that the first day be counted; and that, we know, was the basis for the change in 1974. What they said was, “Oh, Mr. Armstrong, you’re not a scholar. You don’t know the technicalities—that this word, ‘from,’ in English, doesn’t really mean, ‘from’; it should mean, ‘beginning with.'” So, instead of counting Monday as day one as Mr. Armstrong did—from Sunday to Monday was one—they start with Sunday as day one; and so, they end up with a Sunday. And they say, “Just like Mr. Armstrong kept the fiftieth day, we’re going to keep the fiftieth day still. And so, that makes Pentecost Sunday.” What’s wrong with that? There are two parts to counting in Hebrew, brethren—the first day and the last day. You’ve got to be consistent. If you’re going to go by the Hebrew rule, you’ve got to go by the Hebrew rule all the way. There’s none of this half-way stuff. And this is the piece they refuse to do.
But before I get ahead of myself, we will admit—and we concur—that according to the Hebrew, Sunday is day one of the count. We’ve never contended with that. Mr. Raymond Cole understood that years ago. Remember, I told you that he was the one Mr. Armstrong sent out to these churches, including the Eugene congregation back in the 1950s—and to the Portland church, to the Tulsa church, the San Antonio church—everywhere this debate over the technical count of Pentecost was coming up and where they were arguing for Sunday. It was Raymond Cole that was sent out to deal with these things. He understood the technicality of the Hebrew, and that was the basis on which he was able to squelch this debate—because he understood the Hebrew enumeration rule. It wasn’t the way Mr. Armstrong had first come to understand it or to make sense of it himself by what God had revealed to him, but he certainly was happy for Mr. Cole to use whatever explanation possible if it supported what he knew was divinely revealed, which was Monday. And so, even if it wasn’t the way that Mr. Armstrong chose to explain it, he was very happy for Raymond Cole, who did understand the technicalities of the Hebrew, to go out—and if it was successful in squashing this attempt to change Pentecost to Sunday, he was happy with the result.
So, Raymond Cole understood the Hebrew enumeration rule, and he understood it years before this 1974 change came up. But we agree that, according to the Hebrew enumeration rule, Sunday is day one of the count. Now, if you asked just about anyone in any of these other splinter groups about what Church of God, The Eternal teaches and how we justify a Monday Pentecost (because we’re just about the only group identified with a Monday Pentecost), they will say, “They still count it like Mr. Armstrong did—an exclusive count, away, out of.” Wrong. They never have gotten it.
We admit, and have always admitted, that in the Hebrew, Sunday is day one of the count; but now we’re going to get the rest of the story, which is the final day of the count. This is part four of that formula. Remember? We’ve got to have the start date; we’ve got to have the number of days we’re counting; we have to know how to treat the first day of the count—inclusive or exclusive. And what’s part number four? This is the key, brethren. Is the last day of the count included or excluded? This is the clincher. This is the one none of them have ever been able to see. Well, that’s not the reason they haven’t seen it; God has blinded them from being able to see it because they’ve closed their eyes to the Truth. But from a technical standpoint, this is the one they will not admit.
Is the final day of the count—day fifty—included or excluded from the count? What difference does that make? What distinction am I talking about? Do you keep day fifty? Is day fifty of the count your Pentecost, or does day fifty have to be all the way completed, or finished, before Pentecost can begin to be kept? That’s the question. Is Pentecost on day fifty, or is it on the day after day fifty? We don’t call it day fifty-one. Some people want to say that we keep the fifty-first day. No, you stop counting after fifty. When God says to count seven days for Unleavened Bread, we don’t count the day after the seventh day as day eight, do we? We don’t say the eighth day of Unleavened Bread because there is no eighth day of Unleavened Bread. The count stops after seven. It’s the same way with the Pentecost count. It’s fifty in Leviticus 23, and then comes Pentecost, as you’re going to see. There’s no fifty-one; it’s just the day after the end of the fifty-day count.
Back to verses 15 and 16 of Leviticus 23:
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 shall be complete.
We just saw that this phrase, “from the morrow,” is the Hebrew phrase mimohorat. Guess what, brethren? There’s another mimohorat in verse 16. There’s another one. We have to take it into account. It’s the thing that these others refuse to do.
Verse 16: “Even unto the morrow . . .” Guess what that is in the Hebrew? Mimohorat. Actually, it’s the phrase admimohorat. It gives the definite Hebrew rule for terminating a count. Mi at the beginning; ad at the end.
Even unto the morrow [admimohorat] after the seventh sabbath shall ye number fifty days; and ye shall offer a new meat offering unto the [Eternal].
Now, the question is, what about that fiftieth day—the last day of the count, which is Sunday? If day one of a fifty-day count is Sunday, and seven weeks later—day forty-nine—is a weekly Sabbath, day fifty, then, is going to be a Sunday also. The question is, is that final day of the count the Holy Day, or is it the day that precedes the beginning of the Holy Day? How do we know? Well, you have to be consistent, brethren. If there’s a mimohorat at the beginning, and there’s a mimohorat at the end, it tells you that the final day has to be all the way counted before you can keep Pentecost. That’s what mimohorat means.
In other words, these people who used their technicalities in 1974 to justify making Sunday day one of the count, hang themselves by their own scholarship because they refuse to use their own rule at the end of the count with the second mimohorat. That’s how simple it is. They have never admitted that there’s a double mimohorat in verses 15 and 16. There are two of them, and they both have to be accounted for. One tells you how to handle day one of the count; the second one tells you how to handle day fifty of the count, and you are still going to be on the wrong day of Pentecost if you don’t handle both of them correctly.
That’s why I gave you those four pieces, brethren. You have to have the right start date; you have to count the right number of days, and you have to know how to handle the first and last days of that count or you will be in the wrong end. That’s why we have all of these groups today keeping all of these various days for Pentecost. They are all over the map. There was a publication a couple of years ago that showed six different dates, at least, that former members of the Worldwide Church of God were keeping for Pentecost that year. Amazing, isn’t it? And you can bet there are going to be more in the future. The longer we go on, there are always going to be men who will come up with their own take on things, and they will try to find their unique niche in order to teach something that no one else is teaching yet, and make a name for themselves. So, they’ll either contend with the start date, or the number of days that need to be counted, or the rules on how to treat the first and last days of the count. You can get nine out of ten right, but if you get that tenth one wrong, you’re still in the wilderness. And that’s what these are all doing because they refuse to accept fundamentally what God revealed in simplicity. We’re not talking about the simplicity of the revelation right now; we’re talking about the technicalities, but they absolutely support that divine revelation.
“Even unto the morrow [admimohorat] . . .” There it is, brethren—mimohorat a second time. It tells you how you have to treat day fifty, and what that means, brethren, is that day fifty is not fully counted until the last second of day fifty expires. If you don’t count all of day fifty—meaning the last hour, the last minute, and the last second of day fifty—you haven’t counted fifty days yet.
In 1974, they mixed Hebrew with English. They wanted to count in Hebrew at the beginning, and they wanted to count in English at the end. Now, does that make sense? According to an exclusive count, as Mr. Armstrong used, he excluded day one, and he also excluded day fifty. He was consistent. That was good. He didn’t break any counting rules when he did that. How did he exclude day fifty? He kept the fiftieth day. When you keep the day of the count, it’s really excluded from the count. It’s not part of the count unless that day is completely counted before you do what you’re going to do. The fact that he kept the fiftieth day, according to an English count, means he was counting exclusively. He excluded day one of the count, and he also excluded day fifty of the count. That’s how we ended up keeping it on—according to the English reckoning—the fiftieth day. It didn’t make the fiftieth day hallowed—again, because the Deuteronomy 16 count is only forty-nine days. There is nothing hallowed about fifty; it’s only one of two ways God gave to count. I’ll talk more about that next time.
The key, brethren, is that in 1974, they wanted to appeal to the Hebrew to change how it was going to be counted on the front end, but they still wanted to count in the English on the back end. That’s where they made their mistake. They used mimohorat as a rule for establishing the start day—Sunday as day one—but they refused to use the second mimohorat and do the same thing on the back end, which tells you that day fifty must be all the way counted before you can begin to keep Pentecost.
I haven’t seen a single one of these other groups yet, or any of these evangelists leading those groups, that will admit that. They will not address it; they refuse. They don’t want to address it because they can’t answer it. So they will still tell their members, “Oh, well, that Raymond Cole group, they just continue to count in the English like Mr. Armstrong did. They don’t understand that mimohorat means it has to be inclusive.” What a lie that is. I’d like for some of them to at least get the record straight. We understand precisely what mimohorat means. We’re the only ones that are admitting that there are two mimohorat’s. There’s a double mimohorat in the command for counting Pentecost, and you’ve got to handle both of them correctly.
Do we have any further evidence to support that mimohorat is interpreted this way? You bet. Let me just give you some examples. First, from the Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament, which says, “Like other Hebrew prepositions, it [meaning mi or min] is used in many combinations. Min plus ad means literally, ‘from, to, or inclusively.'” Of the word ad, the Hebrew and English Lexicon by Gesenius says, “Of time, even unto this day, i.e. the limit being included.” The limit being included. What’s the limit? The limit is the end point of your count. What’s the end point of the Pentecost count, which includes this preposition ad—the Hebrew word admimohorat? What’s the limit? Day fifty of the count. That’s the end; that’s the termination of the count. And it says that ad means it must be included. You haven’t counted that final day until that day is all the way completed.
Let’s see an example that we can all understand because I’ve got a number of examples here that are going to show you how God counts and how He recorded it in the Old Testament according to the Hebrew enumeration rule.
Exodus 12:15: “Seven days shall ye eat unleavened bread . . .” Here we have a command for the keeping of the Days of Unleavened Bread. “Seven days shall ye eat unleavened bread; even the first day . . .” This is a command about counting. “. . . even the first day ye shall put away leaven out of your houses: for whosoever eateth leavened bread from the first day until the seventh day, that soul shall be cut off from Israel.”
Now, how do we interpret the proper number of days that we’re supposed to avoid eating any leavening and instead eat unleavened bread? How many days do you eat unleavened bread? Six days or seven? I think most of you keep the seven days of Unleavened Bread, don’t you? But here’s the command for counting: “. . . whosoever eateth leavened bread from the first day until the seventh day, that soul shall be cut off from Israel.” Guess what? The word “from” is the Hebrew preposition mi, and that word “until” is the Hebrew preposition ad. Mi plus ad, according to the rule, is inclusive, and it means “the limit.” The last day of the count must be fully included just as much as the first day of the count.
Isn’t that what we do? Isn’t that what all, or most, of these remnants of the Worldwide Church of God still do? Don’t they still keep seven days of Unleavened Bread? They know what mi and ad means here. They don’t keep six days of Unleavened Bread, and then say that on the seventh day, we’re off the hook. We’re back in the world; we eat our leavening; we go to the store and pick up our puffy bread. That’s not what they do, is it? But if you interpret it the same way they do Pentecost, that’s exactly what you would do because that’s what it says here. “. . . whosoever eateth leavened bread from the first day until the seventh day . . .” So, according to their rationale, they would say, “Well, we can’t eat leavened bread again until the seventh day.” Isn’t that what it says? “. . . until the seventh day . . .” So, when the seventh day comes, it’s okay to eat leavened bread again, right? That’s what it says—except we understand that’s not what it means. We know the command is to eat unleavened bread for seven days and to have that leavening put out all seven days—equally on the last day as much as the first day.
Mi plus ad, in the Hebrew, means inclusive, the first day as well as the last day—all of it. And you haven’t finished the count of seven days of Unleavened Bread until the sun sets at the end of the seventh day. Then your count is over. The same way, brethren, with Pentecost, the count of fifty days is not completed until the sun sets at the end of the fiftieth day. You’ve got to be consistent. Otherwise, if you’re going to keep a Sunday Pentecost because you refuse to admit that mimohorat in verse 16 of Leviticus 23 requires that the fiftieth day be counted, you might as well just start keeping six days of Unleavened Bread and eat your leavened bread again on day seven, because that’s what you’re doing.
Are there any more examples? How about Leviticus 15 and verse 13? “And when he that hath an issue is cleansed of his issue; then he shall number to himself . . .” Okay, here’s a command for counting. We’ve got to use the same rules, brethren—a start day, a number of days for counting, inclusive or exclusive at the beginning, and inclusive or exclusive at the end. The same formula is going to apply here. “And when he that hath an issue is cleansed of his issue . . .” We’re talking about somebody who has had a disease, some sort of a running issue that’s considered contagious, and according to the laws of Israel, they were put in quarantine. Now, when he’s healed and is no longer contagious, then a count is going to begin, according to God’s health laws.
And when he that hath an issue is cleansed of his issue [That’s your start point—whenever that is.]; then he shall number to himself seven days for his cleansing . . .
Okay, so the count is seven. It begins when he’s healed. When is it going to end?
. . . he shall number to himself seven days for his cleansing, and wash his clothes, and bathe his flesh in running water, and shall be clean.
The question is, are we going to count the way these 1974 Sunday Pentecost advocates do it, which is what? Well, if we count seven the way they count seven, you count 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, and on day seven you’re free and clear. But is that the way it works? Was he free and clear on day seven when day seven started? After six days, was day seven the day of freedom from quarantine? No. Day seven was part of the count. It was still part of his quarantine time. Day seven had to be completely finished, and then there was a command for him to do something. What was it? Verse 14:
And on the eighth day he shall take to him two turtledoves, or two young pigeons, and come before the [Eternal] unto the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, and give them unto the priest.
That was when he was let out of quarantine and then commanded to come and take this offering to the tabernacle for the priesthood—not until day eight. But how many days were in the count? It wasn’t an eight-day count, was it? He didn’t say to count eight days and then go on day eight. No, the count was seven, and that’s the way it works in the Hebrew, brethren. It’s consistent all the way through. All seven days of the count have to be fulfilled before you do whatever you do that follows—the same way consistently. Count seven and then go to the priest. Keep all seven days of Unleavened Bread and then you go back to eating leavened bread.
Are there any other examples? Here’s the most compelling of all—Leviticus 25 and verse 8 concerning the count for the jubilee year. Oddly enough—and I just think this is fascinating—these Sunday Pentecost keepers will actually try to use this as a substantiation for their count, which I think is just incredible. Let’s analyze this. “And thou shalt number seven sabbaths of years unto thee . . .” So here’s a count. We’re going to use the same rules we already know, and we’re going to see how this one comes out. “. . . number seven sabbaths of years . . .” What is that? Well, here, when it says sabbaths of years, it’s talking about weeks, but of years instead. So we’re talking about seven times seven, or forty-nine years, and that’s exactly what it says as we read further.
And thou shalt number seven sabbaths of years unto thee, seven times seven years; and the space of the seven sabbaths of years shall be unto thee forty and nine years.
God didn’t leave any room for misinterpretation here, did He? How many years are we going to count? Forty-nine. Is there any doubt about that? First He says, “seven sabbaths of years,” then, “seven times seven years,” and finally, He specifies it for anybody who still didn’t get it—that’s “forty and nine years.” Okay, forty-nine years is the count. “Then shalt thou cause . . .” When? We’re going to count forty-nine, and then this magnificent event is going to take place. The question is, is it in the forty-ninth year? Is that when this thing is over and when this happens, or is it when forty-nine is completed? Well, we’ll find out.
Then shalt thou cause the trumpet of the jubile to sound on the tenth day of the seventh month, in the day of atonement shall ye make the trumpet sound throughout all your land. [Verse 10:] And ye shall hallow the fiftieth year, and proclaim liberty throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof: it shall be a jubile unto you; and ye shall return every man unto his possession, and ye shall return every man unto his family. A jubile shall that fiftieth year be unto you: ye shall not sow, neither reap that which groweth of itself in it, nor gather the grapes in it of thy vine undressed.
How many years did we count? I hate to sound so simplistic and keep harping on it, but what was the count? Forty-nine. Is there any doubt, from verse 8, how many years were counted leading up to the jubilee? It was a count of forty-nine. Was the forty-ninth year the one that was kept as the jubilee year? No. What did we read in verse 10? “And ye shall hallow the fiftieth year . . .” What does this tell you, brethren? The same, consistent rule for counting in Hebrew is absolutely confirmed right here. We’ve seen it for counting Unleavened Bread; we’ve seen it for the rule of quarantine, and now we find the same thing for counting the jubilee. You must count the days fully, and when those days are expired in the count, then you do whatever you’re going to do. It’s absolutely substantiated by the count of jubilee. Forty-nine is the count, but it’s not the forty-ninth year which is the jubilee. The forty-ninth year has to be totally included in the count, and fulfilled and ended, before the jubilee begins, which is the fiftieth year, the year that follows.
Now, how is it possible that these other groups attempt to use this? I would think they would absolutely want to run away from the rules showing the counting of jubilee. And yet, do you know what they say? “Here’s a substantiation for the way we count Pentecost. This shows you that we’re supposed to do it the same way. You count forty-nine, and you keep the fiftieth day.” That’s what they say. They say, “We’re supposed to keep Pentecost just like jubilee. Jubilee is the fiftieth year, and therefore, Pentecost is supposed to be the fiftieth day. And because we agree that, according to the Hebrew, we start on Sunday, then the fiftieth day is also a Sunday. So, just like the jubilee is the fiftieth year, Pentecost is the fiftieth day, and the fiftieth day is Sunday.” That’s their rationale. Does anybody see a problem with that? You will if you understand why I’ve been harping on how many days we count. How many days are in the jubilee count? Forty-nine.
And thou shalt number seven sabbaths of years unto thee, seven times seven years; and the space of the seven sabbaths of years shall be unto thee forty and nine years.
How many days are counted for Pentecost in Leviticus 23? What do we read in verse 16? “. . . number fifty days . . .” It is not a forty-nine-day count, brethren; it is a fifty-day count in Leviticus 23. You cannot count the same number of days as in the jubilee count. They are not the same count. One is a fifty count, and one is a forty-nine count. Is there anything that should be more simple?
But if you use the same counting method that you do for jubilee, and you apply it to Leviticus 23, what day are you going to keep for Pentecost? When we are commanded to count fifty days, and it’s got that double mimohorat in there—admimohorat that says the last day has to be completely fulfilled; that Sunday, day fifty, must expire before Pentecost can begin—therefore, when are we going to keep Pentecost? When the sun goes down on Sunday evening. Monday is the true day of Pentecost.
Brethren, that’s how you put all the pieces together. I don’t know how many of you I’ve lost in the course of these last two sermons on the technicalities. I know it gets much more difficult, but that’s as simple as I think I can possibly make it. When you understand that you’ve got to find the right start date, you have to know how many days you’re counting, and you have to know whether to include or exclude the first day and the last day, then you have all the pieces you need in order to come out to the right conclusion. And, brethren, when you count in Hebrew, according to the accuracy of the Hebrew enumeration rule, you will count all fifty days in Leviticus; and when that fiftieth day expires on Sunday evening, your Pentecost will begin on Monday.
And guess what? It is precisely the same outcome that Mr. Armstrong taught us. He didn’t explain it to us that way, because he wasn’t a technician with the Greek or the Hebrew. If he had been, I think it would have detracted much. Do you know why? We would have had a tendency, then, to trust human scholarship and human education, had Mr. Armstrong had those self-educated skills in the world. God used a man who did not have that training, and yet, inspired him with divine revelation and pointed him to the right day. You could say He pointed him to the right day but didn’t give him all the technical explanation of the Hebrew that the scholars of the world have; and yet, God did add that knowledge later. He certainly added it to Mr. Raymond Cole.
Thankfully, Mr. Raymond Cole was a man who didn’t trust in that scholarship, because that’s the kind of knowledge and ability that has destroyed many a man. Raymond Cole did not allow his understanding of scholarship to become predominate in his mind—to become an idol of worship—but he did understand the technicality, and he used it. He used it to help thwart these attempts back in the 1950s to change from the divine revelation. Unfortunately, it didn’t work in the early 1970s. Things had gone too far. And so they changed. They used scholarship to do it, but they became fools in the process. It’s like doctors tinkering with the human body. They are messing with an instrument of such complexity and design by God. They have no idea what they’re doing, but they get in there with their half-knowledge and think they understand how to create this drug or that surgery that’s going to be able to make it better or to fix it. They’re like a child playing with matches. They don’t know anything. And that’s exactly the kind of foolishness and the kind of ignorance that was applied by these self-proclaimed scholars in the 1970s in their utilization of mimohorat, because they used it halfway, and they wouldn’t complete the count in verse 16 according to the same inclusive rule.
Brethren, you don’t have to understand any of that in order to have confidence in the day that God revealed as Pentecost. If you understand the technicalities of the mimohorat’s, the admimohorat in verse 16, and the proper way to count inclusively on both ends, then you just have further technical substantiation of that revelation. But as I said from the beginning, brethren, that is not our confidence. That’s not the primary reason we keep a Monday Pentecost, but that technical understanding is that which does allow us to stand toe-to-toe with anyone who wants to argue on the basis of technical scholarship. I’d challenge any of them to refute the second mimohorat in verse 16. I’ve never seen them, ever, address it. They’ve never addressed it, period. All they do is talk about the first mimohorat in verse 15. They never address the second one in verse 16. Why is that? They act like it’s not even there. Maybe, one day, somebody will have enough courage to address it. The problem is, when they do, they’re going to ultimately have to admit they’re wrong and that they’ve been separated from God and keeping the wrong day of Pentecost for almost thirty years.
One final thing, brethren—Leviticus 23 and verse 16 one more time.
Even unto the morrow after the seventh sabbath shall ye number fifty days; and ye shall offer a new meat offering unto the [Eternal].
This word “and” in the Hebrew can also be translated “then.” Now, it’s not one of those things that we have absolute confirmation to say that it should be translated “then,” but here’s one example of a place where it is translated that way.
Exodus 12 and verse 48:
And when a stranger shall sojourn with thee, and will keep the passover to the [Eternal], let all his males be circumcised, and then let him come near and keep it . . .
So it tells you, first, the circumcision occurs, and then, afterwards, they can come and keep the Passover. It’s the same Hebrew word in Leviticus 23:16, when it says, “. . . and you shall offer a new meat offering . . .” In the context of what we’ve already proved, based upon the Hebrew enumeration rule, it would be absolutely accurate to translate this as, “Even unto the morrow after the seventh sabbath shall ye number fifty days; and [then] ye shall offer a new meat offering unto the [Eternal]”—meaning, after the fifty-day count is completed, then you keep Pentecost, which is exactly what we do. When you put all of those elements together, then you have an understanding of the proper day.
Next time, brethren, I’m going to finish this up. There are a few, what I’ll call, loose ends, and other arguments that I want to address—just spend a little bit of time—and a couple of other things, then, to finalize this series on the Monday Pentecost.