Wednesday, December 31, 2008

New Year's Eve


Opening Scripture: Psalms 65:11 You crown the year with Your goodness, And Your paths drip with abundance. (NKJV)

What does it mean when God says that He crowns the year? In order to understand this better, let’s look at what King David, the writer of this song, understood the year to be.

Of course King David was an Israelite born to the tribe of Judah. He was very well educated in the Torah, the first five books of the Bible, Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy. These books were understood to be written by Moses and handed down as both history and law for God’s children.

Not only was David familiar with the Torah but was also privileged to have prophets and other spiritual leaders surrounding him who continually studied the scriptures and other sacred writings which were handed down through the generations, detailing God’s interaction with mankind. Many stories and traditions were rehearsed and passed on by word of mouth for generations prior to Moses who we understand committed them to writing.

King David was familiar with the covenant God made with Noah recorded in Genesis. This covenant declared that God would never again destroy the earth by a flood. A reminder of this covenant is still seen today, as it was in David’s day, each time we observe a rainbow in the sky. God continued His promise to Noah and his descendants by proclaiming that:

"While the earth remains, Seedtime and harvest, Cold and heat, Winter and summer, And day and night Shall not cease." (Genesis 8:22)

David knew that each year contained this promise and that one could expect seasons to be predictable according to God’s grace.

When David wrote Psalms 65 as a song of praise and thanksgiving to God, it is no wonder that he included the fact that God crowns each year with His goodness … but why did He use a picture of a crown?

The crown which David speaks of here is in reference to the end of the year, the harvest-time of the year, if you will. You see, the Hebrew calendar is not the same as the Julian calendar … in other words, David’s calendar and his observance of the new year is not perhaps what you are used to if you are more familiar with the Western world’s system of tracking days and weeks and months.

In fact, it can seem a bit strange to some of us when we first realize that the Jewish New Year does not even begin on the first day of the first month of the Jewish calendar. Before I fully explain, let me read a passage from the book of Leviticus, chapter 23. I know this passage is not easy to understand just by simply reading it from our modern day frame of reference, but I will explain it along the way.

Leviticus 23 KJV
23 ¶ And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,
24 Speak unto the children of Israel, saying, In the seventh month, in the first day of the month, shall ye have a sabbath, a memorial of blowing of trumpets, an holy convocation.
25 Ye shall do no servile work therein: but ye shall offer an offering made by fire unto the LORD.
26 And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,
27 Also on the tenth day of this seventh month there shall be a day of atonement: it shall be an holy convocation unto you; and ye shall afflict your souls, and offer an offering made by fire unto the LORD.
28 And ye shall do no work in that same day: for it is a day of atonement, to make an atonement for you before the LORD your God.

The Jewish New Year for things like people, animals, legal contacts and things like the calculating calendar years and years of jubilee etc, actually begins on the first day of the seventh month, the month of Tishrei. It is believed that man was first created on this day and each year on this day called Rosh Hashanah a new year begins.

The first ten days of each new year are observed as days of repentance, seeking God’s forgiveness of the sins of the past year, concluding on the tenth day of Tishrei with Yom Kippur, known as the Day of Atonement.

Jewish tradition holds that God inscribes each person’s fate for the coming year in a book on Rosh Hashanah, New Year’s day, and waits through the ten days of repentance until Yom Kippur before sealing that fate. During the ten days of repentance people attempt to mend their ways, curb their behavior and seek forgiveness for things done against God and man, hoping to affect a more positive fate for the coming year. At the end of Yom Kippur one considers himself absolved of sins by God and destiny set for the new year.

This is, of course, a very rudimentary lesson on these subjects, however suffice it to say that King David understood what the end of a year hoped to bring. Tishrei, the first month of the new year, coincides with the autumn and harvest time as far as seasons go and more closely with September/October of our more familiar calendar. In fact, Rosh Hashanah was last celebrated beginning at sundown on September 29, 2008, causing Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement this year to fall on October 8th and 9th.

Why is any of this important to you and me?

King David, a man after God’s own heart, understood and wrote that God always intends to crown our year with goodness, to end our year and in perhaps some likeness, our life and time on earth, with a bountiful harvest. God has a habit of saving the best for last!

Many believe, in fact most every studied person I am acquainted with, that God will send His Son, Messiah of the Jews and Savior of the World, back to earth in this Jewish season of the New Year, Rosh Hashanah. Prior to His coming the year, or season or time on the earth, will be marked by the ultimate fulfillment of this David’s prophecy, a great world harvest of souls.

The book of Revelation confirms that God will instruct the earth to be harvested in the season of ripened fruit. And, we are told by Jesus that the word and Kingdom of God will reproduce only three glories or stages of growth before reaching final maturity, first the blade, then the ear and then the full corn in the ear, representing the fruit in its fullness at harvest time.

Notice once again the scripture from Psalms 65:

Psalms 65:11 You crown the year with Your goodness, And Your paths drip with abundance. (NKJV)

The New Living Translation says:

Psalms 65:11 You crown the year with a bountiful harvest; even the hard pathways overflow with abundance. (NLT)

I don’t know how exact or accurate this translation is in reference to the hard pathways of God, but these things I do know:

1. Without regard as to when you celebrate your new year … Every New Year is a time to review and rededicate one’s life to the Lord.
2. It is God’s will and intent to bless you as much as you will let Him … this is already written in the Book.
3. The path of God for your life drips with abundance, even when the path seems hard.

Decide tonight that you are going to use this special time to review and rededicate your life to the Lord. Perhaps you too may find the need to enter into some solemn days of repentance, seeking God’s forgiveness and blessing on your next year. Surely He will hear you, He will forgive you and He will bless your life.

4. Lastly, Don’t forget … A great harvest in on its way!

God bless you and Happy New Year!