I was listening to a sharing from a friend and he was commenting about us the Chinese having 2 significant new years.

To the Chinese, they celebrated the News Years Day (quite recently) and now the Lunar New Year had just arrived.

It such joyous occasions, it is actually a good period for us to feast and be happy, its a time for us to reflect on the year and to plan for the new. It is joyous, that I remember when the stroke of midnight came, there were loud sounds of fireworks and fire crackers.

But in the sharing, my friend was saying that similar to the Chinese, the Jews had 2 new years that are significant in their lives as well.  The Jews generally celebrate their new years very differently from the rest of the world.

To Illustrate it, I have created a chart that identifies the feast and festivals of the Israelites as describe in the bible, (I have left out the other nationalistic festivals as I would like to highlight those that are written in the bible)

A Typical Jewish Calendar Vs Our Calendar

1.Passover (Feast Of The Unleavened Bread)

The Jews begin their new year doing something that is very different from our usual feasting and enjoyment. They begin by purging their house of all leaven. It was said that as a training to young Jewish children, the parents will deliberately leave some leaven behind and see if their children can find it.

After that comes the feast of the Passover, while we would have a feeling that it is as sumptuous as our reunion dinner of the Chinese. But these are the things that were eaten.

1. Unleavened Bread

These are plain bread made without yeast, also known as “Bread of Affliction”. It is a    very tasteless and hard bread. It is called Matzo by the Jews

2. Bitter Herbs
The Passover lamb has to be eaten with bitter herbs, the typical herbs use are horse-radish and romaine lettuce,  It is called Maror by the Jews

3. Roasted Lamb

Interestingly, the bible records that God instructed them to eat this meal in a haste, with belt on the waist, sandals in the feet and staff in the hand (Ex 12:11)

The purpose of the Passover is to remember the deliverance of God to the Israelites in Egypt where he sent the angel and killed the firstborns of all Egypt. The angel will pass over any of the Israelite houses as they have smeared their doorpost with the blood of the lamb.

 

1.1 Significance Of This New Year Celebration

The Passover sacrificial lamb is a Jesus, (1 Cor 5:7) and when Jesus had the last Passover meal with his disciples, he instituted the Holy Communion one that day (Mattt 26:26-29) . He told his disciples do this in remembrance of him (1 Cor 11:23-26)

Although a Christian can hold holy communion at any time of the year, but there are a few spirits of this old testament festival that we must take note.

a. Removing Of Leaven

Jesus once said
“Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy. For there is nothing covered that will not be revealed, nor hidden that will not be known. Therefore whatever you have spoken in the dark will be heard in the light, and what you have spoken in the ear in inner rooms will be proclaimed on the housetops.” – Jesus (Lk 12:1-3)

Let us be careful how we live our lives as Christians, let us not be hypocritical in what we do, let us learn to be sincere and truthful in whatever we do. For we must remember that eventually God will judge us for everything we do.  Let us take note of what King Solomon said

“Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter:

Fear God and keep His commandments,
For this is man’s all.
  For God will bring every work into judgment,
Including every secret thing,
Whether good or evil.” – Solomon (Ecc 12:13-14)

b.  Eat in Haste, Belts On The Waist, Sandals on the feet, Staff In The Hand

If Egypt symbolises the world and everything that is in it, then we must be prepared not to long for things in the world. The night of the Passover is the night where God will save his people out of Egypt.

The bible depicts our Christians walk as like “Days in the wilderness” On that night the Israelites has to be prepared to leave Egypt immediately.

This is a solid reminder to us that we are not of this world, and that we are only a pilgrim waiting for our heavenly home. So like the ancient Israelites, let us be willing to start our journey with God and not to carry our cross daily to follow God.

Let us remember that the words of Jesus

““If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily,and follow Me. 24 For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it. 25 For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and is himself destroyed or lost?” – Jesus (Lk 9:23-25)

But we know that that generation did not managed to get into the promise land because of their unbelief (Heb 3:16-19)

Therefore, let us also bear that in mind and to believe in the words of Jesus. Following all his commands in faith, just like the how the first Israelites believed and kept the Passover while in Egypt.

2. Feast Of The Tabernacles

The beginning of the Jewish civil year is the second new year that is significant to the Jews. It started out with the feast of the trumpets, the day of atonement and the feast of the tabernacles.

It is pretty interesting to see that the first new year celebration is about the salvation of God in Israel and now its about atonement for sins. In general, the Jews will do the following

1. Blow the shofar (trumpet) to announce the new year.

2. Gather together on the day of Atonement to sacrifice for the sins of the nations

3. Stay in tents for 7 days.

It is hardly what the rest of the world will do on a new year isn’t it?

2.1 Significance Of This New Year Celebration

This new year celebration is one that is very different from ours, it tells us of many important things we ought to do in the new year.

a. Reflection and Repentance.

Generally at the Rosh Hashanah (Feast of the trumpets) The Jews and Samaritans alike would reflect on the sins, this is to prepare for yom kippur (the day of atonement) . While as Christians we know that we have a compassionate high priest, which is Jesus (Heb 4:14-16)

We must still repent and come before him for forgiveness. How often have we failed to do so, so I will say that this is a very good practice for all of us to do to constantly examine ourselves to see if we have fall short of Gods mark.

If we find that we have strayed from God, it is a good time to realign ourselves and to have a change of heart. To return to God as God is just like the father of the prodigal son who waited staring at the horizon for the sons return.

b. Staying in Tents

The staying in booths down during the feast of the tabernacles serves as a reminder to the Jews about their wanderings in the wilderness. It serves likewise to us as a reminder that we are on our way to a better world.

Though the modern Christians no longer needs to follow these feasts, we ought to keep the spirit of the festival, as they hold good teachings for us to learn from.

The modern wilderness is one where we withdraw from the daily rush of the world and to study the word of God.  They can also mean the church camps where we give up the comforts of our home to concentrate on prayers and learning the word of God

Staying in tents reminded us of that building that we would eventually receive from God

Just as what Paul tells the Corinthians

“For we know that if our earthly house, this tent, is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed with our habitation which is from heaven, if indeed, having been clothed, we shall not be found naked. For we who are in this tent groan, being burdened, not because we want to be unclothed, but further clothed, that mortality may be swallowed up by life.  Now He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who also has given us the Spirit as a guarantee.” – Paul (2 Cor 5:1-6)

 

Therefore, let us be constantly reminded of that permanent home God is given us, and may we all have a blessed new year.

Advertisements