If you want to spend your time with a complicated study try doing some research on calendars and dating systems. The details of how various cultures have tried to keep a record of time while making adjustments for lunar or solar cycles is mind bending.
Natural new beginnings— One thing that seems clear is that calendar dating has been influenced significantly by issues of solstice and equinox. Winter and summer solstice, for instance, mark that moment when, because of the sun’s relationship to the earth, the days are at their shortest and longest. Spring and fall equinox represent the two times in the year when days and nights are equal.
Since by the Julian Calendar December 25 marked the winter solstice, my mind makes an easy association with the beginning of the next month as the beginning of the New Year. But reading the details of dating systems soon confuses me.
Spiritual new beginnings– What I find very clear, however, is that Moses established the spring equinox time of March-April as the “first month of the year”. According to Leviticus 23:5, “On the fourteenth day of the first month at twilight is the LORD’s Passover.” Apparently, the Lord of Israel was establishing Passover as marking a “new beginning” for the calendar of his people. That makes sense, since it was on Passover that God defeated the “gods” of Egypt and delivered his people from slavery.
Yet, modern Jewish people celebrate their civil New Year on Rosh Hashanah (lit. “head of the year”) which is at the opposite end of the calendar and corresponds instead with their closely related fall holidays (Trumpets, Atonement, and Tabernacles).
In many ways it is understandable that, even though most of the world recognizes the Gregorian Calendar as an international standard, some are uncomfortable with this system because of its attempt to date years in terms of BC and AD, or in other words, “before Christ” and “Anno Domini” (i.e. in the year of our Lord). For that reason many prefer to avoid the reference to the coming of Christ as being the center page in history and instead refer to CE and BCE, (Common Era and Before Common Era).
Yet for all practical terms, the turning of the calendar from 2008 to 2009 will once again silently, if boisterously, shout to the world that it has been, more or less, 2009 years since the Son of God took on a human body to reveal our Creator, and save us from our sins.
Meanwhile the Jewish Calendar has its own counting system saying that we are approximately 5769 lunisolar years from Creation.
In earlier posts, we’ve talked about how the death of Jesus on Passover and his resurrection 3 days later corresponds with the Spring Feasts of Israel, and that Jewish Fall Feasts seem to represent the yet unfulfilled events of the last days (i.e. sounding of trumpets, repentance, and God living among his people).
So here’s what I’m wondering. How well do we appreciate the power of a calendar that declares, for one reason or another, that we are now 2009 years from Jesus birth– and counting… toward his return? And are we just as aware that, for the purposes of Israel, the month of Passover was declared by God to be the first month? Why then does the modern nation celebrate its civil New Year at the opposite end of the calendar? Could they be inadvertently signaling that, for the one nation originally and uniquely chosen to reveal God to the world, the idea of a new beginning won’t be fulfilled until the return of their Messiah?
Or am I just confused :-).