Since 1866 or 152 years ago, there were three lunar events that coincided with each other on the eve of January 31: a supermoon, a blue Moon and blood moon. It was one of the rarest lunar displays that happened in our lifetime (although we were disappointed in Pavia, Iloilo because it was cloudy during that night, thus, we just resulted to watching the phenomenon in the TV). The next time that it will happen will be 19 years from now or 2037. Some of us would still be around to see it, and hopefully no more cloudy skies during that time.
In the Bible, there is a Feast of the New Moon. The Hebrew calendar is lunar-based, and the beginning of the month or hodesh literally means “new moon.” It was during this time when the Israelites would bring an offering to God. In Numbers 28:11, the New Moon offering is described as this: “On the first of every month, present to the Lord a burnt offering of two young bulls, one ram and seven male lambs a year old, all without defect.” The animal sacrifices were accompanied by a grain offering and a drink offering (verses 12–14). Moreover, a goat was to be sacrificed to the Lord as a sin offering (verse 15). In other words, every time there is a new moon, the Israelites remembered to give praises and thanksgiving to God. This should also be a reminder to us – every time we see a new moon, let us thank God for giving us another month, and another opportunity to spread the Gospel.
Later on in the Old Testament, a time came when the Israelites observed Feast of the New Moon and other feasts as a way to earn favor with God. This was not the original intention. It became an outward ritual that God despised. God said through the Prophet Isaiah, “Stop bringing meaningless offerings! Your incense is detestable to me. New Moons, Sabbaths and convocations – I cannot bear your worthless assemblies. Your New Moon feasts and your appointed festivals I hate with all my being. They have become a burden to me; I am weary of bearing them.” This is a lesson for us – if we think that going to church or doing church activities or celebrating religious festivals is a way to earn God’s favor, then think again. The Bible is telling us that it is wrong.
The Prophet Isaiah once again relayed what is more important than the religious festivals – “Wash and make yourselves clean. Take your evil deeds out of my sight; stop doing wrong. Learn to do right; seek justice. Defend the oppressed. Take up the cause of the fatherless; plead the case of the widow” (Isaiah 1:16-17). The next time that we go to church, let us remember what God really desires. Let us enter the church to worship, but let us not forget that when go out of the church, we serve God by serving others.
May God bless us all!
Rev. Francis Neil G. Jalando-on
Office of Communications
Central Philippine University