I remember that before I was a believer, I wondered and asked the question: Why do we have and remember New Year’s. I was particularly thinking about the Jewish “New Year” which had become one of the High Holy Days in the synagogue. The answer that I gave myself, and to my parents, was that there must be Someone who is keeping us (the Jewish people) alive for another year. It gives an opportunity to thank Him, and to also hope that He would do the same for the next year.
Now, I have what, for me, is a broader and a more personal understanding of the significance of New Years. YHVH God has given three opportunities to observe a New Year. He is the God of Creation and of Redemption. We are all born in the flesh; we must be born of the Spirit to inherit eternal life. We are individuals; Israel is a nation, whom God calls His first-born son. These New Years — new beginnings — are begun by God, and adopted by His people — whether Israeli Jews, or whether Christians.
YHVH told Israel that for them, the New Year would begin on the first day (the first day of the covered New Moon) of the month of Aviv/Nisan, the first full month of Spring of the Hebrew calendar for Israel. This New Year focuses on the death of the Lamb of God, who died at the Passover, which is the 14th of that month (a Full Moon). Israel does not perceive the resurrected sacrificial Lamb, but only the Passover sacrifice for deliverance from Egyptian slavery. Jesus Christ/Yeshua the Messiah is the Lamb of God who died for the sin and sins of every person, both in Israel and for all humanity for all time. In His death, all died, for He is the representative Man in God’s ultimate plan of salvation, which He conceived before time began. This first New Year of God’s redemptive calendar is the foundation of the gospel: Messiah crucified, and risen from the dead on the day after the Sabbath of the Passover week. By grace Israel was delivered out of Egyptian bondage; by grace all who believe are saved from sin’s bondage.
At some point in her history, Israel began to observe the civil New Year on the first day (the first day of the covered New Moon) of the seventh month (Tishri/Etanim) on her calendar in the Autumn/Fall. This may seem strange, yet for Israel, each year they would be forgiven their sins, and God would dwell among them for the next year, which the Feast of Booths commemorates with joyful celebration, two full weeks after the beginning of the month, marked by the light of the Full Moon. And the Jubilee year is marked from the Day of Atonements, which falls on the 10th of the same month. Jubilee is a new beginning for slaves, prisoners, debtors and creditors, and land possessions. The Day of Atonements is the day of the LORD, in which those who accept YHVH God’s sacrifice for forgiveness of sins — both personal and corporate — are saved and justified; and those who refuse His sacrifice and way of righteousness are condemned for their unbelief and unthankfulness. For an individual — and for Israel as a nation — this experience of being born-again through faith in God’s good news of His Son, truly marks a New Year of a new life in everlasting restored fellowship with God the Father and with His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. It marks new birth, which is needed since we all died with Messiah in His death on the cross. This new beginning for Jews and for Gentiles upon whom the Lord bestows His mercy will be fully realized at the coming again of the Lord.
The time around the birth of this Son, this Lamb, who was born to die, and to live forevermore to provide for the full reality of the Kingdom of God over all, marks the celebration of the third New Year, and this for all who love Him for who He is and for what He has done, is doing, and will yet do. God so loved the world that He gave His only unique Son so that whosoever believes in His name should not perish but inherit eternal life. Yeshua was born near the end of the “world” calendar, in the first month of winter, Chislev/December, on both calendars (and the 9th month beginning with April/Aviv), and puts away the old that the new may come in. His birth marked a new beginning of God’s intervention in Israel’s and the Gentiles’ affairs in order to take back to Himself all that had been lost by Adam and Eve and subsequent humanity, and deceitfully stolen by the devil to oppose the Sovereign God and His plan that human beings created in His image and likeness would be joint heirs with God’s Son of the Kingdom of God. Jesus’ circumcision on the 8th day marks the covenant faithfulness to God’s promises given to Abram/Abraham that Israel and the people of God would one day worship Him without fear of any enemies. We have all been God’s enemies, and the birth, death, and resurrection of the Lord Messiah takes away that enmity in us against Him, and we glorify Him, who is seated on the Throne!
So, to summarize:
All of the New Years have to do with Jesus Christ, and the celebration of Him by those who are God’s chosen and elect. They quicken an expectation of what God will do, based on what He has promised and has already done:
1. Yeshua’s Death and Resurrection: The Lamb of God was slain to redeem His people and set them free to serve YHVH God, and Him only. He was slain before the foundation of the world, according to the perfect plan of God. And this Lamb rose from among the dead to everlasting life to enjoy the fruit of His suffering and sacrifice! Israel’s calendar begins with YHVH God’s redeeming them from slavery that they may know and serve Him.
2. Yeshua’s Coming Again: All who are born-again through faith in the atoning sacrificial death of Jesus begin a new life unto God. Israel as a nation still has this promise before them when Yeshua returns to save “all Israel”, the preserved remnant from all the tribes who will see Him whom they pierced, and afflict their souls for all their unfaithfulness and unfounded hatred toward Him and the Father. And the Body of Messiah has the hope of the Lord’s return and the resurrection of their bodies, to rule and reign with Him during His kingdom on Earth.
3. Yeshua’s Birth: His coming into the world in the flesh, born in order to be our Redeemer – to be the Lamb of God — who died to declare God’s Sovereign righteousness regarding sin, and His grace toward human sinners. Peace on Earth, goodwill towards mankind!
These three New Years center around the birth, the death and resurrection, and the coming again of the Lord Jesus Christ. For the people of God, they mark natural birth, death, redemption by new birth through faith by the Holy Spirit, and the return of the Lord. These three events are each memorialized with a ‘new song’: the song of Moses, the song of Mary, and the song of the 144,000 redeemed from the Earth. They mark progressive time as the Sovereign Lord of history continues onward bringing to pass all that must be. Till now, the Holy Spirit is bringing all to pay homage to the Son, whether they realize it or not, and whether they rejoice in it or not in fellowship with other worshipers of God in spirit and truth!