This raises some serious questions like: Why in the world would God care about the lunar cycle, and what does that have to do with Christian spirituality?
Well, the fact that God cares about the lunar cycle is established in Genesis chapter 1, where we find that the moon, along with it's cycle, was created to mark important moments on God's spiritual calendar. Wouldn't it be nice to know what is on the schedule for us each and every month? Well that is exactly what the lunar cycle tells us!
"...Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years:" Gen 1:14.
The Hebrew word "seasons" here is the word mo-ade' which is not talking about summer, winter, Fall etc. It actually means something quite different. The dictionary defines mo-ade' as..: "an appointment, that is, a fixed time or season." So the seasons referred to in Genesis are actually appointments on God's calendar; Spiritual appointments that are pre-programmed into God's life-plan for you and me.
I know what you're thinking: "What strange cultish teaching has Steve embraced now?"
But wait! Before you think that I've jumped off the deep-end of a very lonely and weird pool, be aware that throughout history, men and women of God considered the day of the new moon to be a special day. Here are some examples from the Bible:
David, Saul and Jonathan were expected to be at a special meal or event that day:
1Sa_20:5 And David said unto Jonathan, Behold, to morrow is the new moon, and I should not fail to sit with the king at meat: but let me go, that I may hide myself in the field unto the third day at even.
1Sa_20:18 Then Jonathan said to David, To morrow is the new moon: and thou shalt be missed, because thy seat will be empty.
1Sa_20:24 So David hid himself in the field: and when the new moon was come, the king sat him down to eat meat.
In the days of Elijah, people would go see the prophets on that day:
2Ki_4:18 And when the child was grown, it fell on a day, that he went out to his father to the reapers. 19 And he said unto his father, My head, my head. And he said to a lad, Carry him to his mother. 20 And when he had taken him, and brought him to his mother, he sat on her knees till noon, and then died. 21 And she went up, and laid him on the bed of the man of God, and shut the door upon him, and went out. 22 And she called unto her husband, and said, Send me, I pray thee, one of the young men, and one of the asses, that I may run to the man of God, and come again. 23 And he said, Wherefore wilt thou go to him to day? it is neither new moon, nor sabbath. And she said, It shall be well.
And finally, in case you think this only applied to folks in the Old Testament, think again! When Jesus returns to this earth, all the people of the Earth will come to worship God at Jerusalem on (you guessed it!) the New Moon (and the Sabbath). Plus, the main gate of the temple will only open on those days:
Isa_66:23 And it shall come to pass, that from one new moon to another, and from one sabbath to another, shall all flesh come to worship before me, saith the LORD.
Eze_46:1 Thus saith the Lord GOD; The gate of the inner court that looketh toward the east shall be shut the six working days; but on the sabbath it shall be opened, and in the day of the new moon it shall be opened.
So how does the lunar cycle affect me? I'm glad you asked.
If I had to say it in one sentence, it would be this: "Adverse spiritual pressures are lowest around the new moon and they are highest around the full moon." I almost want to say, "One is easy, and the other is difficult," but that could be misleading. I'll explain more on that below.
Before I get into the details, here are some basic biblical and astronomical definitions: The biblical month is a lunar month which starts on the day of the new moon. The biblical new moon is different that the astronomical new moon: Biblically, the new moon arrives when the first 'slice' of the moon is sighted from Jerusalem after the moon has been completely dark. Finally, the moon's cycle is divided into 4 quarters and each quarter begins with one of these 4 moon phases: The new moon, the first quarter-moon, the full moon and the third quarter-moon.
THE NEW-MOON HALF OF THE CYCLE: Covers 2 quarters - The one before and the one after the NEW MOON. (Starts at the third quarter-moon and ends at the first quarter-moon.)
The time around the New Moon is when the 'spiritual-pressures' are lowest. Trials seem easier to bear, temptations are easiest to resist, and spiritual attacks are far less aggressive. This is the time of the month when God covers up a lot of our flaws with special grace so that we will use our energy to seek Him. It is also a time of preparation for what is coming later on in the 'difficult part' of the month when we will have to face those flaws head on. The good news is that any effort you make to seek God fervently during this time of the month will have a far greater impact on your spiritual life than in the difficult part of the month. When you seek God with urgency at a time when you have no urgent trial or temptation to escape from, it means more to God, and takes you further toward God. It's like trying to swim up-river; If you swim up-stream against a strong current, you won't go very far, although it is better than being dragged down-stream. But if you swim up-stream when there is no current, you can travel much further up-stream. Your greatest spiritual breakthroughs usually happen during this time.
But it's not all moonlight and roses. This time of the month can be VERY dangerous! Precisely because there is less spiritual adversity forcing us to seek God, we tend to get distracted and careless and thus fall prey to the seduction of our enemy. You will notice your mind wandering more, you might notice a bit more complacency or even apathy toward the things of God, and it will seem like you are floating in space without any clear gravitational pull toward God; getting traction and momentum God-ward will require a special effort. Sadly, most of us only seek God when we feel like we're being crushed under the weight of spiritual adversity, and this behavioral pattern has become our spiritual life-style. Yet during this time of the month it will take a very purposeful and intentional effort on our part to focus when we're praying, maintain our fervent edge, and seek God for who He is, as opposed to seeking Him for what He can do for us. If we haven't learned how to seek God this way yet, this is the time to start!
THE FULL-MOON HALF: Covers 2 quarters - The one before and the one after the FULL MOON. (Starts at the first quarter-moon and ends at the third quarter-moon)
A day or so before this time starts, the Lord will come to you and call you to a special time of prayer to prepare you for the 'Full-Moon Half' of the lunar cycle. You will sense a strong urge to go pray, accompanied by a tenderizing of your heart and a sweet desire to commune with the Lord. This is not from you! This is the Holy Spirit calling you to prayer. Take advantage of it! Drop everything you are doing and pray. The special grace that you will receive in this time of prayer cannot be obtained later after the moment has passed, and boy are you going to need it.
Once the first quarter-moon arrives, the spiritual atmosphere will suddenly shift; the special grace that was covering our carnality will be taken away and replaced with the grace to face it. The lid on our ugliness will come off! But this is not the time to run and hide in the distractions of this world; if you do, God will make sure your weaknesses find you. This is a time to stand and fight the good fight of faith in prayer and in fasting. The mental and spiritual attacks from the enemy will intensify greatly, doubts and fears will assail you, and Pride and Self will rear their ugly heads. This is God apportioning to us a carefully-measured dose of ourselves. Whatever is inside of us, which He wants to clean or which needs to be surrendered to Him, will rise to the surface so we can overcome it by His grace. Like a wet sponge being squeezed, God will squeeze us so the filth that is hidden inside can be seen and removed, and the enemy will be allowed to attack us so that he (the enemy) can be defeated in our lives.
Despair and shame will try to make you give up the fight, but don't let these tools of the devil separate you from your heavenly father. Remember that these temptations and trials are not arbitrary and they are not out of your Father’s control. Your Father is not far away in an ivory tower while you get lambasted down in the valley. Quite on the contrary, you are in Abba's workshop, on His work table, and He is carefully controlling the process and walking with you through every heart-searching moment. He is with you and for you at all times, specially when it gets ugly. He will never leave you nor forsake you. You must not let the thoughts in your mind or the feelings in your heart stop you from trusting in Him and leaning into His bosom in the heat of the test. No matter how difficult it gets, remember this: "There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it" (1Corinthians 10:13).
Yet, God's faithfulness doesn’t mean we won’t fail royally and run away screaming in the heat of battle. These times require the mobilization of ALL of our resources and they will test ALL the spiritual reserves we should have. If we prepared ahead of time, filled our lamps with oil to the brim, and face it with courage and spare no resources to seek God, we can overcome. If we don't prepare, or if we don't fight a good fight, then we can expect spectacular defeats.
Why do we have to go through this, you ask? Because this fiery trial is our opportunity to grow. God's plan to prepare you for eternity is this: "That the trial (testing) of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ: (1Peter 1:7)” When we ask to be purified, this is our answer. When we sing "Draw me close to you...," this what we wanted. When we screwed up and asked for another chance, this is it. There is no other way. We must be tested and pushed to the limit of our commitment to God in order to grow our spiritual muscles, and these 'muscles' are the ones we use to hold on to God; our faith, our joy in the Lord, our hope in Him and our love for Him. If we pass this test we will be stronger and purer at the end of it and we will emerge at a higher level; closer to God and more like Christ. If we fail the test, the opposite is true.
A day or so after this time ends, the Lord will once again sweetly call you to a special time of prayer. This is to refresh you, renew you and heal your wounds after the brutal battles you fought during the 'full-moon half' of the month.
I have noticed that each half follows a specific progression; they start, they build up until they reach their apex (the new moon or the full moon respectively), and then they begin to slowly come to a resolution. Yet there is a method to the madness: Leading up to the apex we are being bombarded with situations, thoughts, experiences, and opportunities. After the apex our choices start to become clearly defined and our decisions begin to solidify. As soon as the phase ends, our choices are set and they become part of who we are. We are like a chunk of steel being allowed to choose what we want to become: We are melted down in the heat of the furnace, then we are poured out into the mold that our choices created. The molten metal of our soul will seep down into every nook, cranny and crevasse of our will and then we will be allowed to cool into a final product. The purpose is to force us to CHOOSE whom we shall serve, and to be CONFORMED to his image.
Let me end this with a challenge for anyone who is interested in testing this whole theory: Track the way you feel spiritually throughout an entire lunar cycle, and then come to your own conclusion.
Use the following website to see what the moon is looking like at any given moment: www.moonpage.com . You can even enter any past or future date and see the moon for that day.
This other page has a calendar with all the moon phases built in: www.timeanddate.com/moon/phases
The next new moon is set to happen on the night of Thursday, September 21st.