One of the great mysteries of life is time. Nobody really knows much about it, other than it passes by and people get older and die. But outside of the obvious, the real meaning of time is hidden from us right now. One day there won't be any more time because we will be living in the eternal now forever. You see the Lord doesn't wear a wrist watch and there aren't any wall clocks in Heaven. The Lord operates outside of time as we know it, and as His people that will be our experience of time one day as well.
For many people today, the idea of time is connected to the New Year's Eve party the world held a few days ago, some fireworks and perhaps watching a ball drop from a tower in Time Square in New York City on December 31 at midnight. New Year's Eve can be a time to celebrate new beginnings, but honestly most people have no idea of why the year is new or if anything new will happen to them or the world that they haven't seen before. That is true because without the Lord nothing is ever really new....no it was here long ago as the Bible tells us (Ecclesiastes 1:10.)
Now of course, the real reason we celebrate a New Year in January is connected to the simple fact that the days are getting longer. The Winter Solstice was December 21, the shortest day of the year, and after that the days start getting longer. That fact led people to dream up the calendars we have today. Our current, civil calendar is called the Gregorian calendar, named after Pope Gregory XIII who introduced it in October 1582. Like most things, this tradition got into culture and we don't really question it too much. We just print calendars, use them and call it a day.
However, the one amazing fact about calendars is that they ALL must have a starting point. There has to be something special or a central event that starts the clock running so to speak, to mark time. The Gregorian calendar chose to mark its beginning with January, starting it when the days become longer and the sun starts a new cycle of life and seasons.
The main problem with the Gregorian calendar is the fact that the Lord doesn't mark time that way. The Lord loves us, but He has never been interested in our calendars, our clocks or any of the ways we mark time. The Lord isn't waiting for the Time Square Ball to drop. No, the Lord put together a calendar that has a message to tell us about His love and purposes for us in the Lord Jesus Christ. That is the REAL calendar everyone should be interested in because it is about our lives and future. That is the REAL New Year of life and the Divine Calendar that most people on earth have never heard about.
Now the central story of the New Year in the Bible, and the one the Lord chose to build the history of the world around, is found in Exodus 12:2. The Lord tells Moses,
"This month is to be for you the first month, the first month of your year."
The Lord goes on to explain to Moses that the Passover for the Israelites will mark a new month, a new beginning for them as a people. Passover marks the Exodus Story and the leaving of Egypt for the Promised Land. The Passover also marked the beginning of what is referred to as the sacred calendar. Thus, the New Year, from a Biblical standpoint, starts in the spring during the season of Passover. So if we were to be totally Biblical in New York, the ball would have to drop when the month of Passover arrived in the spring...... not the winter.
Now the ultimate meaning of the Passover Story is the Lord showing His people that they could have their sins forgiven by the Passover Lamb and leave a sinful world behind for a new beginning with the Him. That is WHY Passover is set as the first month of the year. Grace, salvation, forgiveness and new life are always the Lord's first gifts to us. If we don't have those gifts nothing will ever be new for us.
And so the real story of the New Year is that the Lord marks every second of time from the Exodus of His people from an old life. Time starts when people leave a sinful, old life behind and enter eternal life by embracing a new life that ONLY the Lord can give us. Jesus' death on the Cross, as reflected and taught in the Passover Story, is the beginning of time for the world because it marks the time when time starts over. All the clocks are reset forever. You see, when our Lord died on the Cross, something dramatically changed forever. Humanity went from counting the days to death to living and enjoying life eternally. The Lord is the Lord of forever, not just the Lord of passing time. When we are loved by the Lord and our sins are forgiven, we start living in a new dimension of life and experience that changes everything.
As a result, a New Year, a new life starts at the foot of the Cross, not on January 1. Our lives are marked in time and space by the Lord's sacrificial life for us as our Passover Lamb. The Lord marks us with His love and grace when we accept His death for us as our New Year. Under that calendar, old things truly pass away and behold the new comes forever.
As we head into a New Year, let's let the Lord help us to embrace His grace, forgiveness and love in new ways. Let's leave behind old things, sins, grudges, un-forgiveness and the failures of 2016. Let's celebrate a calendar of His love and grace in 2017 and beyond. Let's find wonderful ways to experience the fullness of life that our Lord Jesus Christ died to give us on that Cross as our Passover Lamb that takes away the sins of the world.
Here's to a GREAT 2017 and beyond. Happy New Year to all of you....THE spiritual one I mean! May we all meet Jesus afresh and fall in love with our Lord again OR perhaps for the 1st time.