Posted by: Randall Niles | December 30, 2009

New Beginnings – Happy New Year

Noah was called by God to build an ark. “Righteous and blameless,” he was assigned the task of saving a world filled with wickedness and sin (Genesis 6:9). With an ark of animals and eight people, Noah was responsible for ushering in a “new beginning” for earth and humanity.

After the flood, the Jewish scriptures record the following:

“…and on the seventeenth day of the seventh month the ark came to rest on the mountains of Ararat.” (Genesis 8:4)

According to the Jewish civil calendar, the seventh month was the month of “Nisan” in the spring (March-April in today’s Roman-based calendar).

As background, the Jewish “new year” is called Rosh Hoshana (“head of the year”). Rather than January 1st, like most Roman-based calendars today, the Jewish new year is celebrated in the fall on the 1st of Tishri. This is according to the Jewish civil calendar, which has existed since the Jewish patriarchs and continues to this day.

As the Jewish people were being delivered from slavery in Egypt, God instructed Moses and Aaron to institute a new religious calendar for the Israelites. In Exodus 12, the feast of Passover was established to commemorate the “new beginning” of Israel after God miraculously delivered them from the Egyptians. Passover was in the spring during the month of Nisan. Thus, Nisan was declared “the beginning of months” on the new religious calendar:

“The LORD said to Moses and Aaron in Egypt, “This month is to be for you the first month, the first month of your year’.” (Exodus 12:1-2)

Therefore, since the Exodus, the Jewish people have had two calendars – (i) the civil calendar that begins with the month of Tishri in the fall and (ii) the religious calendar that begins with the month of Nisan in the spring.

OK, let’s return to our passage in Genesis 8:4: “…and on the seventeenth day of the seventh month the ark came to rest on the mountains of Ararat.” The reference here to the seventh month was under the traditional civil calendar, since the Exodus hadn’t occurred yet. Thus, the seventh month was Nisan.

Later, after the Exodus, the new calendar was instituted, which places Nisan as the first month. So, the “seventh month” in Genesis 8:4 is now considered the “beginning of months” after Exodus 12:2. Confused yet?

OK, here’s where it gets really good!

About 2,000 years ago, a world-changing event happened on the seventeenth day of the month of Nisan. Here, on the anniversary of mankind’s “new beginning” after the flood, Jesus Christ rose from the dead – a “new beginning” for all those who believe!

History records that Jesus was crucified on the eve of the Jewish Passover, which always falls on the 14th of Nisan in the Jewish religious calendar. History also records that Jesus rose three days later – the 17th of Nisan!

During his ministry on earth, Jesus said:

“As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark; and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away. That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. Two men will be in the field; one will be taken and the other left. Two women will be grinding with a hand mill; one will be taken and the other left. Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come.” (Matthew 24:37-42)

Something to think about this New Year’s Day!

Randall Niles

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