Happy New Year everyone! Whenever we go into a new year, some of us take the opportunity to remember what took place last year and write down our goals for the new year. It is so important for us to take the time to reflect on a regular basis, and it is extremely important that we do so at the beginning of the new year.
I’ve been thinking about the new year since last year (yes, I had to use that pun), and when I thought about the different ways we celebrate a new year, I considered how God Himself instituted a holy day that centered around the passing of a new year. We operate under a different calendar system than the Hebrews do, which is why the new year for Jews starts in September or October, depending on the year. Our calendar is called the solar calendar because it is based on the sun, while the Hebrew calendar is called the lunar calendar, which is based on the lunar calendar.
The name of this celebration is now called Rosh Hashanah which means “head of the year.” In the Bible, it is referred to as the “day of shouting/blasting.” Whenever Rosh Hashanah was observed in the Old Testament, there was the blowing of the shofar horn, as well as a day of rest. Check out Leviticus 23:23-25 below:
The Lord spoke to Moses, saying: Speak to the people of Israel, saying: In the seventh month, on the first day of the month, you shall observe a day of complete rest, a holy convocation commemorated with trumpet blasts. You shall not work at your occupations; and you shall present the Lord’s offering by fire.
Notice that the verse says the seventh month, and this is because the seventh month is known as the month when the new year is increased officially while the start of the calendar is the month Nisan in the spring before the Passover. Nisan is the month God gave to commemorate Israel’s beginnings as a nation, the seventh month Tishri begins national reflection and repentance. Think of how our new year started on January 1st, yet the fiscal new year starts on October 1st.
This aspect of reflection and repentance resonated with me, considering that the tenth day of the seventh month is the day of atonement, called Yom Kippur. The people of Israel humbled themselves by examining their lives from the past year and repenting before God, which is a bit different from the goal-setting and celebratory way we’re used to coming into the new year. It doesn’t mean we’re wrong for being happy. Heck, I celebrate myself! But imagine if we took the time to examine the things that took place last year, and laid them at the feet of Jesus in repentance?
Thankfully, the sacrifice of Jesus paid for all of our sins, but as I looked into how God set apart this day on the Hebrew calendar, I believe He left a lot of principles from this that we can glean and apply today. What are some of the habits and practices you took part in that you want to lay down this year? In what way will you maintain balance between filling your yearly planner, and reflecting on what already took place? Let us know in the comments below!