Got some nice gifts this year? Ok, so what is the Christmas present that a fair number of us get, that you can’t use for at least a week? I got one with vegetables and recipes on it, curtesy of my organic veg box delivery people. Of course it’s a calendar.
God told the Israelites to start a whole new calendar (Exodus 12:1-2). They were about to exit Egypt, and this was a fresh start; it was the beginning of a new era, a new nation was being born. They were going to leave behind all things Egyptian, including the way they marked time. The Egyptians had 12 months, each containing 3 weeks of 10 days each. But of course God had instructed the Israelites to have a rest every seventh day, so a 7-day week was a natural pattern for them. Before long, it would be literally set in tablets of stone. From here on they would be living life God’s way, or that was the theory at least.
The calendar we use is based on another fresh start. Although there may well be some discrepancy with the actual date, we count our years from the birth of Jesus. 2015 AD – anno domini – the year of our Lord. From the moment when sin had entered our world, God had been planning a way to give us an opportunity to turn away from our wrong ways and start over with a clean sheet. A new way of living was being unveiled and demonstrated by the only One who knew how to do it – God incarnate, Immanuel, God with us, Jesus.
Of course, it wasn’t long before the Israelites, when they were hungry and couldn’t yet see God’s provision for them, were looking back to their old life in Egypt. At a distance, the pots of meat and tasty vegetables seemed a rosy memory (Exodus 16:3, Numbers 11:4). They had forgotten they had been slaves there, and now they were set free! A little adversity, and they were looking back, away from the goal of a wonderful land God had planned for them.
We too, easily forget the freedom that was bought for us at such a high price by God incarnate, Jesus. When life gets tough for us, or we just get bored because church isn’t hitting the spot for us, we can easily look back to easier times. We need to heed Philippians 3:13-4 –
“Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”
So, while we are waiting to hang up our calendars for 2015, let’s remember this is anno domini – God’s year. God help me to press on with passion, whatever life throws at me.