A New Beginning
It is a New Year and renewal of a new beginning.
For some it is auspicious and for some superstitions. Here are some that have evolved around the first day of the first month.
web link|http://www.happywink.org/newyearfestival/new-year-superstitions.html. Accessed: Jan 3, 2012).
Lucky New Year Babies
Babies born on 1st January is said to be the luckiest of all throughout their lives.
Don’t Let Money Leave the House
In several countries, people do not let money, jewelry, precious items or other invaluable things leave home on New Year Day.
Letting the Old Year Out
At midnight, all the doors of a house must be opened to let the old year escape unimpeded.
People believe that Evil One and his attendants and servants hate din and loud noise. So, scare them away by being as loud in New Year celebrations as possible. Church bells are rung at midnight for the same reason.
Find Future Groom
On New Year’s Day if, on rising, a girl should look out of her bedroom window and see a man passing by, she may reckon to be married before the year is finished.
Interestingly there are some events that surround the first day of the first month in the Bible. While we do not wish to develop a theology around dates, it is interesting to study and learn what happened on the first day of the first month.
A quick look at the Jewish Calendar
The Jewish calendar is based on three astronomical phenomena:
• the rotation of the Earth about its axis (a day);
• the revolution of the moon about the Earth (a month); and
• the revolution of the Earth about the sun (a year).
When is New Year’s Day in the Jewish Calendar?
Among others there are two important start dates or at least two New Year beginnings. There is Tishri and then there is Nisan.
Nothing surprising here, it is like us we have our Calendar year, the fiscal year and the school year each beginning at a different time of the year.
In this case, Tishri the historical beginning; and Nisan is the beginning of the social calendar.
The first day is called Rosh Hashanah, literally the head of the year.
This day celebrated as the beginning of creation of the world and marks the start of a new calendar year.
The reign of the kings were counted using this calendar.
This is important knowledge for history scholars. Any discrepancy regarding the duration of reign of the king can easily be accounted when we use Nisan instead of Tishri, as the basis of calculation.
This is also the start of the religious year. Nisan is considered the first month, although it occurs 6 or 7 months after the start of the calendar year.
What so special about the first day of the first month?
We will look specifically into the reference “first day of the first month” and draw our lessons from them. We will not get into the specifics of Tishri or Nisan but just at new beginnings.
I. WORLD EXTENDED
Bible:Gen 8:13 – “And it came to pass in the six hundredth and first year, in the first month, the first day of the month, the waters were dried up from off the earth: and Noah removed the covering of the ark and looked and, behold, the face of the ground was dry.”
The water from the flood had dried up. It was time to take the covers off (not just a peak through the window). We don’t have the description of the covering of the Ark, but it was on the first day of the first month that the curtain rose revealing a new world. The scene must have been spectacular for those staying covered for almost a year.
The old world was gone and it was a new beginning. Grace was extended to Noah and his family.
Gen 6:8. But Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD.
Incidentally, this is the first time grace or favour is found in the Bible. They too should have been consumed in the flood, but they get to see a new beginning.
The New Year was certainly the beginning of new things for Noah and his family.
The beginning of the Tishri calendar was believed by the Jews to have started from day one of creation.
The importance of that was not lost to Noah and his family, when on the first day of the first month they see the new world.
Passover in Egypt
We read of a similar beginning when the nation of Israel is ready to leave Egypt. They were to participate in a Passover meal, symbolizing the passing over of the Angel of Death over them because of the blood of the lamb smeared on their door posts.
Here we read:
Exodus 12: 2 – this month shall be unto you the beginning of months: it shall be the first month of the year to you.
It is a new beginning for the nation of Israel. They had come into Egypt as a family of 70 (or 75 if you count Joseph and his family) (Ex 1:5 Deut 10:22 Acts 7:14).
The number of the children of Israel leaving Egypt was 603,550 armed men for war (Numbers 1:46), add to that number women and children and men who were too old to go to war and you can easily reach a number upwards of 2-3 million.
God had protected the Children of Israel in Egypt during their country’s infancy. They had settled in Goshen in relative peace from the Egyptians because shepherds were an abomination to Egyptians (Gen 46:34). And left in solitude and later kept through slavery they had grown in numbers, no wonder Pharaoh saw them as a threat on one hand and cheap labor on the other.
Whole New World
Just like Noah and his family step out in a whole new world (sounds like a Disney Production but much better), the nation of Israel step out to go to this new place that God has promised them.
And in this case God commences a new calendar.
God begins a new life with a new time table, a new year.
“this month shall be unto you the beginning of months: it shall be the first month of the year to you.”
If you pick a coin, you will see a year inscribed on it. The year is a reminder that those many years ago God’s Son came down as man to die on the cross so that men and women would have a new life.
By His death on the cross He divides time into two – BC and AD.
With God, it is always a new beginning, a new life and He continues to do that even today.
2 Cor 5:17 — Therefore if any man be in Christ he is a new creature.
Old things have passed away, behold He has made all things new.
May this year be a year of renewal. If you have lost the freshness of your relationship with God – He says to you, He can make all things new.
Is there is anyone who is waiting for Christmas to put their trust in Christ?
News flash! Christmas just got over. God says, “Today is the day of salvation, now is the accepted time.”
Gen 9: 1 & 7. “And you, be ye fruitful and multiply; bring forth abundantly in the earth, and multiply therein.”
A repeat of the original command in Genesis 1:28.
Gen 1:28. “And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.”
However, Gen 9: 7 is unique in three ways
• Personal: And YOU, be ye fruitful.
• Plenteous: The word ABUNDANTLY is added.
• Persistence: Command is repeated in the same chapter — as if a double portion; a higher urgency to be fruitful and to multiply.
Two Birds Mentioned
The two birds mentioned — raven and the dove are pictures of the ‘old’ and the ‘new’ natures of the believer, aren’t they.
Noah releases the raven after the waters were subdued Gen 8:7 but it did not return like the Dove that Noah releases later Gen 8:9.
It is written, “And dove found no rest for the sole of her foot, and she returned unto him into the ark, for the waters [were] on the face of the whole earth: then he put forth his hand, and took her, and pulled her in unto him into the ark.”
The new nature that God gives us will find no rest on the decaying mess of the old self. It will not find rest for the sole of her foot.
What a beautiful picture of a saint.
Apply this truth to our new life in Christ. He gives us new life which is better and abundantly greater than the old life.
The command is different. It is personal, plenteous and persistent.
It is another year that God has extended His Grace.
Lamentations 3:22. [It is of] the LORD’S mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not.
In Luke 13 some people ask about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mixed with their sacrifices. Pilate had killed these Galileans and mixed their blood with the blood of their sacrifices. People wanted to know if these Galileans were so wicked that they deserved such a death. Jesus says to them, ” I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.”
What Jesus was saying to them is ask not if they are suffering because they were so wicked but how come we were spared for we deserved the same state, seeing that we are no better than them. It is God’s grace that He has extended time and delayed His judgement.
When natural calamities hit various nations and regions, Christians unfortunately get sucked in to making foolish comments that it was God’s judgement on them.
The shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, is one of them. There were Christians who quickly claimed it to be God’s wrath because of abortion and legalized gay marriages.
There is a judgement day reserved for all, including any here, who will reject God’s salvation. Sure none can escape that, meanwhile today, we must remember that it is because of His compassions that we are not consumed.
God is welcoming you in Christ Jesus to come into this new world limited only by eternity.
And for those of us in Jesus Christ, it is a new year to be abundantly fruitful in Him.
II. WORSHIP ESTABLISHED
Bible:Ex 40: 2. “On the first day of the first month shalt thou set up the tabernacle of the tent of the congregation.”
Tabernacle was reared up.
It is desert all around and 40 years of it. God’s grace extends not just to the opportunities He gives us but also so that we can worship Him and more importantly that He may dwell among us.
The ‘Song of Moses’ that the Children of Israel sing once they cross the other side of the Red Sea is indicative that they understood God’s intention.
Exodus 15:17. Thou shalt bring them in, and plant them in the mountain of thine inheritance, [in] the place, O LORD, [which] thou hast made for thee to dwell in, [in] the Sanctuary, O Lord, [which] thy hands have established.
True there is a future fulfillment, but they understood the heart of God.
Pitches tent with them in the wilderness
They were not yet in the Promised Land and it seems that God can’t wait to be with them. He joins them in their sojourns in the wilderness.
Exodus 25:8. And let them make me a sanctuary; that I may dwell among them.
Picture of Worship
And so they do. They rear up a tabernacle in the sandy desert.
In Ex 40: 35: we read that they could not enter, for the glory of God filled the tabernacle.
A place of worship was established in the wilderness.
Not an ideal place
We can argue, wilderness is not the ideal place to worship. We would want to wait till we reach the Promised Land. Look at us; look around – How can we sing the Lord’s song in this dry land. How can I invite God into this mess?
We forget often that worship does not flow from circumstances – good health, good house or good happenings but that it flows from a glad heart.
We wait for things to settle down but God says it is in the wilderness you need me and I will come and dwell in your midst.
We read in Isaiah what He does when He joins us in the wilderness...
Isaiah 43:16-19. Thus says the LORD, who makes a way in the sea, a path in the mighty waters, who brings forth chariot and horse, army and warrior; they lie down, they cannot rise, they are extinguished, quenched like a wick: “Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old. Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.
God wants us to fill our hearts with the glory of His Son who tabernacled amongst us.
Fill us up so much that there is no place for anything else.
The first day of the first month is also the day Aaron and his sons were consecrated.
We read about it in passages Exodus 40:1-16 and Leviticus 8:31-36.
Later we read that Hezekiah begins to sanctify the temple on the first day of the first month.
2 Chron 29:17 “Now they began on the first day of the first month to sanctify, and on the eighth day of the month came they to the porch of the LORD: so they sanctified the house of the LORD in eight days; and in the sixteenth day of the first month they made an end.”
The beginning of the year is a good time to consecrate ourselves. It is time to renew our hearts, sanctify or set apart ourselves to be His worshippers.
Psalm 22:3, tells us that “the Lord dwells among the praises of His people. ”
First, God begins the year with deliverance and then he establishes worship.
The new life we have received is so that it is filled with His glory.
2 Chron 28:22. And in the time of his distress did he trespass yet more against the LORD: this [is that] king Ahaz
About Hezekiah’s father, Ahaz, it is written “it was that king Ahaz”.
Pointing out the wickedness of the king. It is that King who the Prophet Isaiah said ask God for a sign that He will deliver Judah from the two kings that were rising up against it, and Ahaz says, “I will not ask, and I will not put the LORD to the test.” (Isaiah 7:12).
God knew the intent of his heart. It was not that he did not want to ask God for a sign, an affirmation of God’s faithfulness. God knew that Ahaz had put his trust somewhere else; for he had already signed a foolish treaty with the Assyrian king.
Ahaz was depending on Assyria, instead of the God of Israel.
That is when Isaiah gives that famous prophecy, “Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.” (Isaiah 7:14)
He saw an altar in Damascus and made his priest Uriah to make a similar altar for him to worship. He thought he will please the gods of Syria more than the King of Syria could and thus avert losing his throne .
He cut up the brazen laver that was in the temple for his idols He made his sons pass through fire in worship to Molech.
In short, there was no true worship in Israel during his reign; the temple had been closed. It is almost impossible to believe such depravity ion Israel.
The question we must ask
And yet we rarely ask ourselves, if we have reared altars for Baal in our lives.
We should ourselves if our temple is closed, so that no godly and true worship ever ascends from our hearts?
There is a kind of worshipers that God is seeking.
John 4:23-24. “Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks.”
My prayer is that this would be us.
In 2 Chron 29: 3 when Hezekiah became king, in the very first year of his reign in the first month he opened the doors of the house of the LORD.
He gave it the highest priority. Let’s begin with purging and repentance.
2Chron 31: 21 attests the greatest commendation he received from God.
“Every work that he began in the service of the house of God, and in the law, and in the commandments, to seek his God, he did it with all his heart, and prospered.”
Oh that this would be said of us, “all that we did we did it with all our heart”.
Ezk 45: 18 We read about the Millennial temple.
“Thus saith the Lord God; In the first month, in the first day of the month, thou shalt take a young bullock without blemish, and CLEANSE the sanctuary.”
Take the bullock and cleanse the temple. In the Millennial temple, though no sacrifices are needed anymore to cleanse, it will form a reminder to be vigilant in keeping the intensity of worship.
Oh that we would cleanse and sanctify our temple on this the beginning of months.
“And in the beginning of your months ye shall offer a burnt offering unto the LORD; two young bullocks and one ram, seven lambs of the first year without spot;”
In the Lord Jesus as we experience a new year, let worship be truly established in our lives. Let us offer a spotless, blemish free sacrifice, through our relationships, actions, thoughts and even with our lips.
Worship is the proclamation of a profound love to the other. Who is worthy of that honour except our LORD.
III. WORD EXPOUNDED
Bible:Ezra 7: 9-10.
“For upon the first day of the first month began he to go up from Babylon, and on the first day of the fifth month came he to Jerusalem, according to the good and of his God upon him. For Ezra had prepared his heart to seek the law of the LORD, and to do it, and to teach in Israel statues and judgments.”
On the first day of the first month, Ezra journeys from Babylon to Jerusalem.
Ezra had prepared his heart to seek the law of the LORD…to do it and to teach.
The Nation of Israel were held captives for 70 years.
When God stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia, we read in Ch 1:1-3, the king says, “who is there among you of all his people? His God be with him , and let him go up to Jerusalem….” It signaled the end of captivity.
And we see Ezra commencing his journey from captivity to freedom on the first day of the first month.
We saw that that the first day of the first month signalled a new beginning, it established a renewed worship, and here we see Ezra begin his journey back to Jerusalem.
So what does Ezra do?
Ezra 7: 10. “For Ezra had prepared his heart to seek the law of the LORD, and to do it, and to teach in Israel statutes and judgments.”
No journey should be commenced without adequate preparation.
Remember, Elijah under the juniper tree and the angel of the LORD tells him,
“Arise and eat; because the journey is too great for thee”.
In this passage we read, Ezra prepared his heart, he sought the law and he taught the statutes.
Are our hearts prepared?
• Is it plowed enough for the fruits to grow?
• Is it tender enough to be swayed to God’s prodding?
• Is it thirsty enough to soak in the dew of God’s Word?
Do we seek the law, search out the scriptures earnestly, to prepare ourselves for LIFE’S journey?
Oxygen masks during the flight
Not sure how many of you have paid attention to the flight stewardess who make the safety announcements. When she gets to the oxygen masks that will drop when cabin pressure drops her instruction is you first get it on yourself first before you help someone else, even the infant or child with you. The principle is, “You must prepare yourself first before you can be of help to anyone else.”
As a Christian our preparation begins with the Word of God.
Ps 119: 9-10 “Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? By taking heed thereto according to Thy word. With my whole heart have I sought Thee: O let me not wander from Thy commandments.”
Do we teach the statutes?
Parents we have a great responsibility.
Gen 18: 19 – This passage relates to when visits Abraham and wants to tell him about the destruction of Sodom. God is telling this about Abraham, even before he has had any children.
“For I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the LORD, to do justice and judgment; that the LORD may bring upon Abraham that which he hath spoken of him.”
Children of Israel had to gather manna daily. It was the food that sustained them through the journey .
End of captivity is not the end, but it the beginning of something new.
We must remember what Ezra did, before he started off on his journey – before we start out our day, so that the good hand of our God will be upon us.
The result of studying God’s Word led to something drastic in their lives.
Ezra 10:17. “And they made an end with all the men that had taken strange wives by the first day of the first month”.
Reading and studying God’s Word will bring to light all the strange things we have taken for ourselves.
A new beginning will not be complete without the total cutting off with the old.
I want to end with just one incident in David’s life and may it be a lesson for us.
2 Samuel 11:2 –
“And it came to pass, after the year was expired (remember this part…after the year was expired), at the time when kings go forth to battle, that David sent Joab, and his servants with him, and all Israel (remember this part too … and all Israel); and they destroyed the children of Amon, and besieged Rabbah. But David tarried still at Jerusalem.”
It is end of the year and when all of Israel was winning battles, David tarried still.
And we know what happened, the darkest patch in the life of David, because he tarried still, instead of being out there in the battle.
It was the time for the kings to go forth to battle, but David sent Joab.
There is not proxy Christianity. No one else can do what you have to do. If Christian life is that of a soldier in battle, we must remember that no one take our place.
Christ who had given us a new life, set us free and has established worship in our hearts and given us His Word for our daily walk also warns us through the life of David that there is no tarrying in Christian life.
God has started a new calendar – the first day of the first month. The end of the year, the end of time will soon be upon us and He is calling upon us to be faithful.
Hebrews 3: 14-19. “For if we are faithful to the end, trusting God just as firmly as when we first believed, we will share in all that belongs to Christ.
But never forget the warning: “Today you must listen to his voice. Don’t harden your hearts against him as Israel did when they rebelled.” And who were those people who rebelled against God, even though they heard his voice?
Weren’t they the ones Moses led out of Egypt? And who made God angry for forty years? Wasn’t it the people who sinned, whose bodies fell in the wilderness? And to whom was God speaking when he vowed that they would never enter his place of rest? He was speaking to those who disobeyed him.
So we see that they were not allowed to enter his rest because of their unbelief.