A new year has come; and it is common for us to look forward into the new year with expectancy. Many of us see the new year as a time to make a fresh start of things, to better ourselves, and to get rid of bad habits that we may have in our life. This is a perfectly natural response, and I believe it is a Biblical response.
As I think about the year ahead, my mind goes to the story of Israel’s deliverance from Egypt in the book of Exodus. The Israelites had lived happily in Egypt for many years; but eventually the Egyptians made the Hebrews into slaves. Scripture says that the Egyptians “did set over them taskmasters to afflict them with their burdens….and the Egyptians made the children of Israel to serve with rigor: and they made their lives bitter with hard bondage” (Exodus 1:11, 13-14). The Jews were no longer free, but were slaves to Egypt.
Israel was God’s chosen nation, and so he sent Moses to deliver the Hebrews from servitude in Egypt: God said to Moses, “behold, the cry of the children of Israel is come unto me: and I have also seen the oppression wherewith the Egyptians oppress them. Come now therefore, and I will send thee unto Pharaoh, that thou mayest bring forth my people out of Egypt” (Exodus 3:9-10).
When Moses arrived at Egypt the Lord Jehovah poured out many plagues upon the nation of Egypt because Pharaoh would not let the Hebrews go. Finally God told Moses, “Yet will I bring one plague more upon Pharaoh, and upon Egypt; afterwards he will let you go” (Exodus 11:1). This final plague would be the death of every firstborn child: “all the firstborn in the land of Egypt shall die, from the firstborn of Pharaoh…unto the firstborn of the maidservant” (11:5).
To protect the children of Israel from this horrific plague, God gave them specific instructions; instructions on performing the first Passover. Through Moses, God instructed each household to take a lamb (Exodus 12:3), a lamb that did not have any blemishes or imperfections (12:5). The people would take the lamb and kill it, and put the blood of the lamb upon the doorposts and lintel of their house (12:6-7). They would then cook the lamb and eat it as a feast.
The Bible calls this feast “the LORD’s passover” (Exodus 12:11). God even gave them the reason why they were supposed to complete these instructions: God said, “I will pass through the land of Egypt this night, and will smite all the firstborn in the land of Egypt….And the blood shall be to you for a token upon the houses where ye are: and when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and the plague shall not be upon you to destroy you, when I smite the land of Egypt” (12:12-13). As a celebration of God’s deliverance and protection, God told the children of Israel to keep the feast of Passover yearly; “this day shall be unto you for a memorial; and ye shall keep it a feast unto the LORD throughout your generations; ye shall keep it a feast by an ordinance for ever” (12:14).
So we see that God used the blood of the lamb to protect his people from death and to deliver them from bondage in Egypt. Interestingly enough, when God gave Moses the instructions about Passover, he told Moses, “This month shall be unto you the beginning of months; it shall be the first month of the year to you” (Exodus 12:2). In Israel’s first New Year, God saved them by the blood of a lamb and delivered them from slavery. Every new year after that God commanded them to celebrate Passover and remember his salvation.
This whole story of Passover—God delivering his people from slavery with the blood of a lamb—is a grand analogy of what Jesus has done for us. 1 Corinthians 5:7 says that “Christ our passover is sacrificed for us”. Jesus is the lamb; because scripture calls him “the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world” (John 1:29). Jesus is the “Lamb slain from the foundation of the world” (Revelation 13:8). God delivers us from the bondage of sin through the blood of Jesus. Because the lamb died for the Jews, they were protected from death; and because the Lamb has died for us, our names can be “written in the Lamb’s book of life” (Revelation 21:27). The plague on Egypt was the death of the firstborn; I find it interesting that Jesus, God’s firstborn, died in our place.
The New Year is a time of new beginnings; by making Passover part of the first month God teaches us that new beginnings start with the blood of the Lamb!
I find it interesting that the scriptures say “This month shall be unto you the beginning of months: it shall be the first month of the year to you” (Exodus 12:2, emphasis added). For those of us who have been saved through the blood of Jesus, I feel like it would be appropriate to spend the first part of this new year remembering his death on the cross. We Christians know best of all how the Lamb’s blood saved us from death and liberated us from sin and gave us a new start. For us, our new life started with “Christ our passover”; and at the beginning of this year we ought to remember these things and think on them.
To my readers who may not yet know the saving power of Jesus’ blood: A new start is possible! Just as Jehovah saved Israel from death by the blood of a lamb, and delivered them from slavery; so he can save you from death by the blood of his Son and deliver you from the slavery of sin. In this New Year, know and understand that a new start through Jesus’ blood is possible.
Happy New Year! I hope that in this next year we all start a new beginning through the blood of the Lamb!!