Today is the day immediately prior to the Sacred New Year which begins this evening. I don't think I have ever felt quite so much awe in the realisation that Yahweh is actually marking sacred time and actually setting His annual appointments or moedim starting this evening at sunset. Officially in Sweden, spring doesn't begin here for just under two weeks and that is when we move our clocks forward an hour. However, we operate on Yahweh's time in this household as we prepare not to enter 2010 or 2011 but the 5934th year since creation, or 5934 AM (Anno Mundi). If you want to know how we calculate that, click here.
"Those who wait on Yahweh shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint" (Isa.40:31, NKJV).
How does the world prepare for its New Year Day Festival otherwise known as the Day of Janus? For most people in the West, and increasingly around the world, it consists of a midnight party. Here, in Scandinavia, there are losts of spectacular and noisy fireworks. It seems people will celebrate anything if it gives them an excuse to have a day of work and get inebriated. Nothing actually happens at midnight each 1 January. The universe goes on as usual, even if the world proclaims a secular 'sabbath'. There are no 'heavenly signs' which we could identify to enable us to remember a particular secular new year. True, our Roman calendars change one annual digit but everything continues as before.
There are all kinds of secular new year superstitions arising from occult beliefs in the West. These include leaving doors and windows open at midnight to let the old year out, a freezing prospect for those of us in extreme northern latitudes. Some people make lots of noise at midnight because they believe evil spirits try to get into the near year at the strike of the clock - the noise presumably frightens them away. Some dance around trees to ensure luck, prosperity and love, not at all unlike Yule customs. Some believe that if spouses kiss at midnight they will remain intimate for the rest of the year. Some wear red underwear on New Year's Eve to bring luck and others eat pork on New Year's Day for luck because pigs eat moving forward ... therefore those who eat pork will supposedly move forward in the coming year. And babies born on New Year's Day are supposed to have good luck for the rest of his or her life. There are many, many other foolish beliefs that I won't bore you with.
You may ask whether celebrating New Year on the 1st of Aviv (Nisan in the Jewish Babylonian calendar) isn't just 'another day' in which the universe just moves on as before. In the physical dimension, the 1st of Aviv is like the beginning of any lunar month - there's a new or invisible moon outside. There are no physical indices that this is the New Year other than nature will tell you, in certain climates (in the northern hemisphere at least) that spring is beginning. Aviv 1 is the first Spring New Moon. That's about all one can observe and say about the Biblical New Year in the visible world.
It is a different matter in the invisible or spiritual, though. "How do you know?" you might ask. "How do you know this isn't just another superstition?" I can only answer that as a Christian or Messianic and my answer is simple: Yahweh commands us to meet with Him at fixed time during the year as the Messianic Nation of Israel. These fixed dates not only have important symbolic significance in that they teach us about our history and our relationship with Him through Yah'shua the Messiah (Jesus Christ) but Yahweh sanctifies them or makes them holy. What this means is that He is present in a unique way on these days, whether they be weekly Sabbaths, monthly New Moons or in the seven annual festivals. Not only do special things happen on these divinely ordained days but as a whole you enter into a rhythm or cycle of events that enables you to synthronise your mind and heart with the very being of the Creator. To learn more about what happens - or can happen when you are tuned - please take a look at some of my sermons about these set-apart events.
Today it feels a bit like waiting for the curtain to rise or be drawn, as in today's illustration. I don't think I have ever been so excited about a new sacred year and hope that you will be able to join in with me this evening and tomorow as we celebrate the marking of set-apart time. Baruch haShem Yahweh!