We celebrate the New Year on the eve of December 31 following the Gregorian Calendar that started in 1582. Previous to that the Julian Calendar was used. The Jewish Calendar, on the other hand, is different because it uses the moon rather than the sun. So in the Bible, it was sundown to sundown, and not midnight to midnight as Genesis 1:5b says, “And there was evening, and there was morning–the first day.”
So how is the New Year celebrated in the Bible? What can we learn from it? There are three significant celebrations in the Bible with regards to the New Year.
First, in Exodus 12:2 God said to Moses and Aaron, “This month is to be for you the first month, the first month of your year.”
What happened in this chapter? The angel of death passed over the houses of the Israelites because they have slaughtered the Passover lamb, and painted the blood in their doorposts.
After they left Egypt, the Israelites celebrated Passover every year to commemorate their freedom.
So the lesson for us is this — celebrate the New Year by thanking Jesus for being the Passover Lamb, the Savior. Remember that the time that you accepted Him was the time of your new life!
Second, in Numbers 10:10 God that at the appointed feasts and New Moon festivals–you are to sound the trumpets over your burnt offerings and fellowship offerings. This tradition is to be a reminder that the Lord is God.
Fireworks are now the norm in celebrating the New Year. In the Bible, the Israelites sounded the trumpets. So as we make some noise to welcome the new year, let us remember to acknowledge that Jesus is the Lord of our lives.
Third, in Ezekiel 40:1 the beginning of the year was mentioned. This is called the Rosh Hashana, and this is the time that the Jews started to celebrate the new year up to the present. It usually falls on the 3rd week of September.
Rosh Hashana is a time for reflection and repentance. The Shofar or ram’s horn is blown during this time as a call to repentance. So as we celebrate the new year, let it be that we will have a time of reflection on what happened during the year, and also ask God for forgiveness for the sins that we have committed.
Happy New Year everyone!
Rev. Francis Neil G. Jalando-on