The speed at which time passes makes it difficult to appreciate that one year has passed and that we stand on the threshold of another. What 2006 holds for us, in the will of the Lord, we do not know, but we rest in the fact that God is in control, and, no matter the turmoil and trouble of a Christ rejecting world, His purpose cannot be thwarted.
Although the Word of God does not teach that the first month of a new year has spiritual significance, it is nevertheless a milestone on the journey of life and gives us occasion to reflect on the past and on what the Lord may do with us in days yet to be. As we do so it would be profitable to reflect on the significance of the first month for Israel.
It was, first, a new year for saved people (Ex 12.2). They were about to be saved from the power and presence of the might of Egypt; days of slavery would be over and God-given freedom would be enjoyed. If the reader of these words does not know Gods salvation, today is the day to "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ" (Acts 16.31). Following their deliverance the Israelites commemorated the day of their salvation as they kept the Passover. We remember the Cross on the first day of every week in the assembly, and continually thank the Lord for His goodness in salvation. The beginning of a new year is a time to look back and praise Him for all His grace from that day when salvation became ours as a gift of God. As we face the opening hours of 2006 let us determine never to forget that we have been purged from our old sins (see 2 Peter 1.9). Let this be a thankful year for all His goodness and grace and for His unspeakable gift (2 Cor 9.15). May we heed the exhortation of 1 Thessalonians 5.18: "In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you".
But if we turn our attention to Exodus 40.2 we find that the first month was also, on that occasion, a new year for sacrificing priests. The materials had been brought, Bezaleel and Aholiab had faithfully seen the work of building brought to a conclusion, and now the time had come for the Tabernacle to be erected. Once this was done "and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle" (Ex 40.35), the Lord called to Moses out of the Tabernacle and said, "If any man of you bring an offering " (Lev 1.1). Now Israel could worship in the appointed manner! They could show their devotion to Jehovah by what they brought to Him. Let us determine that this will not only be a year when we have thankful hearts, but that it will also be a year of filled hands (Lev 2.1-2) as we bring our worship. Worship is not limited to a Lords Day morning, but should be offered continually. However, we have a unique opportunity each Lords Day to offer worship, sisters silently and brethren audibly, as we gather to Break Bread. May I exhort all brethren who read these lines to come prepared, but not determined, to lead the saints in worship on the first day of the week. It is not necessary to make the prayer long, nor is it required to make it a display of scriptural knowledge. Make it an expression of appreciation for all that the Lord is and for all that He has accomplished. Let us determine that this will be a year when long, dead silences at the Breaking of Bread are a thing of the past.
In Ezra 7 we learn of a first month that was the beginning of a new year for separated pilgrims (v.9). Ezra rose above the complacency of many Jews in Babylon; he overcame the worldliness of those who had no desire to go back to Jerusalem; in short, he went against the tide. He and his companions set out on the journey from Babylon to Jerusalem. The number who travelled with Ezra was much diminished compared to those who had returned with Zerubbabel. But still they went, seeking to revive the work of God. May we make this year a time when we seek to revive the work in the assembly of which we form a part. It may be that we have to go against the tide of indifference and perhaps even of worldliness, but let us give ourselves to that task, with pilgrim character, separated from the world. The blessing will be ours and the glory will be His.