The New Year is an important opportunity to start again. Many of you have taken stock of the last year, and have set some goals for 2019. Daniel Pink, in his book, When, demonstrates the tangible power of new beginnings. Significant days & markers have proven impact on our ability to see the bigger picture, and also help us to leave behind old patterns and establish new habits. As a shared special day, the New Year helps us to internalize this significance even more.
God created this reality, and He desires to use its power in our lives for good. Israel celebrated significant days on their calendar, like Yom Kippur–the Day of Atonement (Leviticus 16), when the High Priest would make sacrifices for all of the overlooked and unconfessed sins of the nation. Every seven years the people were to celebrate a Sabbath year (Leviticus 25:1-7) to let the land rest from farming and regain its nutrients. Every week the people celebrated the Sabbath day, a chance to rest and worship, then resume their work—a new beginning every seven days.
Perhaps the most powerful picture of this new beginning was the year of the Jubilee (Leviticus 25:8-55). Every fifty years, all debts were to be cancelled, all slaves were to be set free. Land that had been sold was to be returned to the original tribe. It was a powerful new start in the lives of all the people.
When we consider these new beginnings, they are all cultural pictures of a bigger reality. It is possible to begin again, because God loves to rescue what is lost and to fix what has been broken. All of these new starts in Jewish life are a picture of the renewing power of God. The human race is broken and dead in sin—but God, through His own Son’s sacrifice, purchases a new life and a new start for every person who believes. A few weeks into 2019, if you feel like the year is already in trouble, take heart! God promises His mercies are new every morning (Lamentations 3:23). You can begin again right now.
The God of the Jubilee, who sets slaves free and gives us a truly fresh start, will be pleased if we take this opportunity to begin again with Him.