Soon, we will all be staying up until midnight and watching the ball drop in New York. But, why do we celebrate the New Year?
According to some sources, the celebration of the New Year is the oldest of all holidays. The date of January 1, however, has no basis in the stars or in agriculture.
Around 2000 BC, the Babylonian New Year began with the first New Moon after the first day of spring. The start of spring was a logical time for this celebration. It marks the end of winter, of planting crops, and of blossoming. Even The Bible recognized the original New Year. In 1 Samuel 20:5, King David refers to the festival by name.
The Romans continued to observe the New Year in late March, but various emperors continually tampered with their calendar so that it soon became out of sync with the sun. In 153 BC, the Roman senate declared January 1 to be the beginning of the New Year.
Although in the first centuries AD the Romans continued celebrating the New Year, the early church condemned the festivities as pagan. But as Christianity became more widespread, Christians began having their own religious observances concurrently with many of the pagan celebrations, much like Easter and Halloween.
So why do we celebrate the New Year? What are we hoping for? A do-over? That we will finally have the health, the wealth, or the recognition that we so desperately seek? That we will lose the weight, forgive or find forgiveness, quit smoking, or finally be that Christian we long to be? News flash! God is not concerned with tomorrow but with today.
Hebrews 3:12: “See to it, brothers, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness. We have come to share in Christ if we hold firmly till the end the confidence we had at first. As has just been said: ‘Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as you did in the rebellion.’”
If you are determined to change something, do it today. Then failing another New Year’s resolution won’t disappoint you. If you want to be saved, ask today! If you desire to do something great for God, determine it today! There is no promise for tomorrow, only the opportunity of today.
Remember, the New Year (or tomorrow for that matter) is nothing more than man’s attempt to record and assign time. God exists outside of time.
As far as the hope of prosperity, we have already been told that we don’t need to concern ourselves with food, clothing and shelter.
Matthew 6:25: “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?
And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?
So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”
Even when we pray, we need to understand that our requests are not surprising to God. Nor do we have to beg and plead with him for what we need.
Matthew 6:6-8: “But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.”
Even the scriptures teach us not to worry about tomorrow, but today. James 4:13 says this: “Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.
Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that. As it is, you boast and brag. All such boasting is evil. Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn’t do it, sins.”
If we truly believe in Christ and His gospel, then today is really all that matters. And we are called to die every day to self and to live to Him.
1 Corinthians 15:30: “And as for us, why do we endanger ourselves every hour? I die every day—I mean that, brothers—just as surely as I glory over you in Christ Jesus our Lord. If I fought wild beasts in Ephesus for merely human reasons, what have I gained? If the dead are not raised, let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die.”
I have never ceased to be amazed that Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year are three of the biggest party days of the year. I am sure that the downplaying of Jesus during Christmas makes it easier for people to party guilt free, whereas Easter is a little more difficult to justify. You don’t hear about wild office Easter parties, do you?
We have seen from the scriptures that God is all about today, and that festivals and new moons and new years mean nothing to Him. He has miraculously provided all that we need and all of His promises in Jesus are yes and amen. So whatever you desire to do tomorrow, start today.
Our prayer today should be “Lord, let me see Your face today, let me be more like You today, let me hear Your voice today and be Your obedient servant today and forever.”
Article by Cameron Reeder
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