The New Year

How do we view New Year’s Day? In the western world, New Year’s eve and day have become a time of celebration. In the public domain people get together to welcome in the New Year. This can take many forms, firework displays around midnight, with other social gathering taking place. In some churches services are held late on New Year’s Eve so that Christians are able to give thanks to God for the year past and seek His blessing for the year ahead. 

Does the Bible mention anything about new years, new days? The first occasion in the Bible about a new year was when the Lord spoke to Noah, telling him to go out of the ark: “In the six hundred and first year, in the first month, the first day of the month the waters were dried from off the earth” (Genesis 8:13-22). Noah looked out on a clean new world. 

The second is in Exodus 12:1-2. Here the Lord is speaking to Moses and Aaron preparing the Children of Israel for the institution of the Passover: “This month shall be for you the beginning of months. It shall be the first month of the year for you”. The Passover was remembered each year as a memorial to what God had done for the Israelites in bringing them out of Egypt; but it also pointed forward to the coming Messiah and His life given as a ransom for many (Matthew 20:28 &cp. 1Corinthians 5:7). 

The third instance is in Exodus 40:1-2. The Lord spoke to Moses saying: “On the first day of the first month you shall erect the tabernacle of the tent of meeting.” This was God’s special day as the tabernacle was the place where He designed to be amongst His people, so fulfilling the words of Exodus 25:8 – “Let them make Me a sanctuary, that I may dwell among them.” Here we have the first mention in Scripture of God desiring to dwell amongst His people. Yet as we read the Bible we are reminded that there were serious limitations set as to how and when people could approach Almighty God. 

But you may say, this is all about the Old Covenant, what about the New Covenant? Are we given any instructions about the New Year in the New Testament? In contrast to the do’s and don’ts given to the People of Israel, there is a comparative silence about outward practices in the New Testament. It is noted that believers in the New Testament met on the first day of the week to worship, rather than on the seventh day, the Sabbath, this day being when our Lord Jesus rose from the dead (Acts 20:7 & 1 Corinthians 16: 1-2). Our Lord did give instructions about what we call the Lord’s Supper, or Communion service (Luke 22:14-20 & 1Corinthians 11:23-26). The other command given to His disciples was to “go make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the Name of the Father, the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age. Amen” (Matthew 28:19-20). 

While it is important to learn from the past, as those who love the Lord, we must always be mindful that there is yet a day to come which is referred to in both the Old and New Covenant as the ‘DAY OF THE LORD’ (Joel 2:1, 11, 31,  1 Thessalonians 5:2,  2 Peter 3:10, and others). 

This period of time begins when the Lord Jesus returns in power and great glory, to gather to Himself His redeemed people for the marriage supper of the Lamb (1 Corinthians 15:51-57 & Revelation 19:6-8). Then the Lord Jesus goes forth to rule and to reign. Zechariah chapters 13 and 14 and other passages in the Bible give much detail of judgement to come, associated with the Lord finally coming to earth to rule and reign, for we are told: “In that day His feet shall stand on the Mount of Olives which faces Jerusalem on the east, and the Mount of Olives shall be split in two from east to west, making a very large valley.” (Zechariah 14:4). “In that day it shall be that living waters shall flow from Jerusalem... and the Lord shall be King over all the earth. In that day it shall be the Lord is one and His Name one” (Zechariah 14:8-9). 

As we consider the wonder and marvel of this special NEW DAY, NEW BEGINNING yet to come, let us rejoice and call to mind the words of Charles Wesley when he wrote:

O for a heart to praise my God

A heart from sin set free

A heart that always feels Thy blood

So freely shed for me 

Thy nature gracious Lord impart

Come quickly from above

Write Thy new Name upon my heart

Thy new, best Name of love

R.John Wheeler