Now that we have celebrated Christmas in all its glory, and have done so religiously as well as commercially, we are immediately face-to-face with what we call the New Year. But is it really the start of the year?
The Jewish calendar has a specific start for the New Year, and in 2018 it is September 9th. Well, that’s a surprise! It’s called Rosh Hahanah and is a great feast day, described in detail in Leviticus 23:23-32. It is also called the Feast of the Trumpets. So coming from a Judeo-Christian background, we have a New Year in September (the “seventh month” in the text is too involved to discuss here). It was the first day of the civil year from before the Exodus, and the start of the agricultural cycle. Also traditionally the anniversary of the creation of Adam.
Then centuries later with the founding of the Roman empire came the Roman calendar, from which our current calendar derives. That calendar begins the year in March, and this is why September (from septum, seven) and October (from octavus, eighth) and December (from decum, ten) are two months out of sequence. And there are only ten months, but that is another story too. So maybe we should have New Year’s Day in March? The calendar was amended in 46 BC (Julian Calendar), with two months added, and again in 1582 (Gregorian Calendar), which we follow today. There is only 0.002% difference between the two!
Perhaps all this confusion led to the New Testament statement in Colossians 2:16-17, “Therefore let no one pass judgment on you in questions of food and drink, or with regard to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath. These are a shadow of the things to come, but the substance belongs to Christ” (ESV). Christ is all and in all; its all about him every day, and we need to center our lives on him every day.
Even in Old Testament times it was stated many times that the start of a new day was the start of new opportunities, a clean slate as it were. “But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. ‘The Lord is my portion,’ says my soul, ‘therefore I will hope in him’ (Lamentations 3:21-24). And it is no surprise to me that those verses are found in a book called Lamentations! I could sure preach on that!
“What has been is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done, and there is nothing new under the sun. Is there a thing of which it is said, ‘See, this is new’? It has been already in the ages before us” (Ecclesiastes 1: 9-10). That’s an interesting philosophical statement. Yet God says, “Behold, I will do a new thing…” (Isaiah 43:19). That’s just one verse of several where God proclaims the newness of something He will create.
Perhaps the most famous of all, and the verse upon which this ministry is based, is II Corinthians 5:17-18a: “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. All this is from God.” The Message Bible words it: “Now we look inside, and what we see is that anyone united with the Messiah gets a fresh start, is created new. The old life is gone; a new life burgeons! Look at it!”
I have introduced the depths of these statements in my book In Christ: A New Creation and gone into greater depth in the larger work In Christ, Christ In. You should also read the article “The Essential Newness of the New Creation. “
So, let’s live the New Year (whenever it is) and tomorrow, as new creations in Christ with a newness of life (Romans 6:4), equipped by God to handle every situation and opportunity that comes our way with the partnership of Christ within.