Three New Years

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!

HAPPY NEW YEAR!: OF WINTER AND SPRING – 2011

The one true living God has left His witness in every place, including in His sovereignty over times and nature.  The universe at large, and our unique solar system set within it, both bear witness to His Godhead and plans, to His times and His seasons.  (Gen 1:1-19; 8:22; Ps 19:1-6; Jer 31:35-37; 33:25-26)

The ‘modern’ calendar for the whole world till now is centered around the person of Jesus Christ (Messiah Yeshua).  The all-encompassing “creative” year begins in Winter around the season of His birth into the world and His circumcision, testifying to Him being the first-born of creation, and of coming in the flesh as a Jew. (Col 1:15-17; Lk 2:21-24)  The “redemptive” year — which YHVH gave to Israel for a testimony — is set within the overall created order, and begins in the Spring, during the season of Yeshua’s death and resurrection, upon which foundation our salvation is grounded through faith.  This newness of life which the Spring proclaims testifies to Yeshua being the first-fruits from among the dead (1Cor 15:12-23).

As the birth of Messiah came during the darkest and bleakest time of year, He also came as the Light of the world, with each day increasing its light in the hope of a ‘better and cheerful Spring’.

The believer in Jesus can rejoice in all of God’s wonderful works, from the beginning of the year through to the end.  His Word and His Spirit have given us to know and understand the times in which we live, and the signs of His coming.

Glory to God in the highest, and on Earth peace, goodwill toward men!  This is still the acceptable year of the LORD; Today, if you will hear His voice, is the day of salvation!

Being Reconciled to God and to One Another

Matt. 23:16-21   The altar is greater than the gift

Matt. 5: 21-24   First be reconciled to your brother, and then offer your gift upon the altar

The calendar tells us that it is a new year,  a year which reminds us and the world that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh into the world which He made.  We can look back and consider how our God has watched over us and has kept us.  We can look ahead and know that our salvation and redemption are nearer this year than they were this past year.

The Lord is building up His church and showing Himself faithful, training us to trust Him fully to bring us through to glory at His coming.

God has shown us His way to be at peace with Him and with one another.  He had (has) a controversy with Israel and with mankind.  Our sins separated us from the LORD our God. What was God to do since it became clear that we were not going to do anything sufficient to get right with Him?   The reality is that we blame God for our problems and those in the world at large.  God’s altar is the place of sacrifice.  In Lev. 17:11 the LORD says that the life of the flesh is in the blood, and that He has given it to us upon the altar to make atonement for our souls.  The heart of God our Father came to us in the person of His Son Yeshua, who sacrificed Himself on the cross to make atonement, to make reconciliation, for those who have sinned against Him.  Yeshua satisfied God’s righteousness and justice so that the LORD can show grace and mercy and compassion to whomsoever He will.  He has reconciled Himself to man.  We have been given the ministry of reconciliation in that we are to be peace-makers, telling and showing others how they can be reconciled to God:  through repentance and faith in Him through Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sin.  This is the love of God and the new commandment to love one another as Jesus has loved us:  if we know that someone has reason to have something against us, we are to humble ourselves and grant forgiveness based on the righteousness of  God.  Then we can come to the Lord’s table and supper; then we can offer our gifts and prayers and praise to God.  For we have acknowledged that the cross – the altar – of God is greater than any thing which we can offer.  It is the faith we have in, and the thankfulness for,  the sacrifice of God’s Son that sanctifies us and our gifts, both before God and before our brothers and sisters.

When Jesus came into the world, His whole life was consecrated to God His Father and to His Kingdom.  He knew that the spirit in the world was opposed to God.  He came to give honor and glory to His Father, whom He knew to be good.  Jesus brought light to expose the darkness in men’s souls, even in those who claimed to know and to serve the LORD.  Before the Holy One of Israel, many of the religious leaders were exposed as hypocrites, not really sincere in caring about God’s interests, but more concerned for their own honor and privileges.  Jesus did not sing their songs or dance to their tunes.

(Mt. 11: 16-19; Is. 22:12-13)    The Son of God listened to God’s voice and responded in a manner which showed that He loved His Father more than He wanted to prove that He was a man like others of His day.  He seeks the lost sheep of the House of Israel, those who want to be found and go back home.

There is a time to weep and a time to laugh; a time to mourn and a time to dance (Ecc. 3:4).  What “time” is it this year?  Certainly the Lord will give us much to know and enjoy the liberty that we have in Messiah.  Yet the Holy Spirit in us groans and mourns over the sin still acting within us, and the spirit in the world which still is separated from and in opposition to the LORD and to His Anointed One – to the sovereignty  of God and the truth that Jesus is LORD.  The people of this age are getting ready for a big party and celebration for the new millenium.  They have forgotten God, and, sadly, so have many who are called by His name.  It is written that the joy of the Lord is our strength; if our joy is truly in Jesus, the Holy Spirit will enable us to respond in a worthy way to show that we love our heavenly Father, that we are His children and servants.

Even so, the Lord Jesus says to His disciples that when we see these things beginning to happen, that we are to rejoice, for our redemption is near.  As God intervenes in the affairs of man – whether in grace or in judgement – the holy Father in Heaven so loves the world that the reconciliation which Jesus accomplished still abides:  the blood of the Lamb still speaks salvation and  peace to those who will repent from their unbelief and evil and, instead, believe the love of the truth:  God has forgiven sinners and Jesus rose from the dead to justify all who believe that with thanks.

This year the Lord wants to bring forth more fruit from us His  people.  He wants to give us His song to sing.  Jesus has given us His peace.  Let us desire to be at peace with one another for His sake.  He will make us glad in Him.