Monday, January 01, 2007

Some Thoughts on New Year's Day

I have been wondering lately how folks in biblical times celebrated New Year's Day. Interestingly, the Israelites had two New Year's Days. The first occurred in the spring on the first day of the first month—the month of Abib/Nissan (Exodus 12:2). The second occurred in the fall on the first day of the seventh month—the month of Tisri (Leviticus 23:24) at the end of the harvest year (Exodus 23:16). Interestingly, in each case, a significant day followed New Year’s Day—Passover in the spring and the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur) in the fall. The fall New Year’s Day was more of a civil holiday like our New Year’s Day, but the Israelites celebrated it in spiritual ways. Some specific steps were to be taken on this day (Rosh Hashanah), according to Leviticus 23:24-25:

1. Observe a Sabbath.
2. Observe a memorial of blowing of trumpets.
3. Observe a holy convocation.
4. Give an offering.

This is good advice for activities on New Year's Day that can be applied to us (without the blowing of trumpets). Cease from normal, servile activities. Remember the blessings of the past year. Spend significant time with the family at home and at church. Resolve anew to present ourselves as living sacrifices, which is our reasonable service (Romans 12:1).