I have to tell you, dear reader, that the Bible Study this week is more of a prophetic warning that a study. As I started this study, I clearly heard God's words, through His Holy Spirit. Although I wanted to do some New Year themed study, maybe about resolutions and the way we fail to keep the, the study took on a life of its own and took me in another direction. In honesty, I had not thought about the New Year in this light before, and certainly not as an abomination to God, so many times had I attended the late night Watch Night Service on New Years Eve, to welcome in that new. Again I praise Him for teaching me again today about something new. Please read and take into your hearts.
Well here comes the New Year, and yet another reason to over eat and drink, again. It is a time when many look forward to being blessed in a new date and look forward to new opportunities. For others however it is a time of dread, what new difficulties will the New Year bring, what suffering and how many will be martyred for their faith? So maybe, as we joyfully wish each other a “Happy New Year, let's keep some of the following points in mind.
New Year is not special, it is just a point in time when two numbers on our calender change from thirty-one to one and from one twelve-month period to another. In Cambodia it happens on April thirteenth, in Ethiopian it's on September eleventh, in Israel it's September twentieth and in Islam the twenty-second. In India New Year is on March twenty-eighth and in Korea the year starts on January twenty-eighth and in Mongolia it's the twenty-sixth of February. So it's just a designated date on which the calendar changes. Neither is it God's designated New Year because God ordained Passover as the beginning of the year [Exodus 12:2; Deuteronomy 16:1] and neither did He ordain any celebrations for that time.
Once again we find that New Year's celebrations have their roots in the pagan world. In early Roman times people gave gifts of the branches of scared trees, later this developed into gifts of nuts covered in gold, or the gift of a gold coin with the head of the Roman god Janus on them. Janus was the god of entrances and new beginnings, he is depicted with two faces, one looking forward and the other looking backward. The celebrations got so out of hand that in A.D. 567 the Christian church outlawed most all of the customs associated with the New Year’s practices. God does not want Christians to celebrate New Year, as it remains a purely pagan feast, not commemorating any act of God or any spiritual significance. God certainly warns us of following pagan practices [Deuteronomy 12:30-31]. As with many pagan feasts, if we continue to celebrate then they return to their origins, just as New Year has returned to over-indulgence in food, strong drink ans loose sexual morals.
God dislikes pagan practices, look at the warning in Jeremiah 10:2-4, which contains a vivid picture of the way we put up Christmas trees, the prophesy says:
“Learn not the way of the nations, nor be dismayed at the signs of the heavens because the nations are dismayed at them,
3 for the customs of the peoples are vanity. A tree from the forest is cut down and worked with an axe by the hands of a craftsman. 4 They decorate it with silver and gold; they fasten it with hammer and nail it so that it cannot move.”
God tells us that we must not do as they do (the pagans and unbelievers) we must not follow their traditions [Leviticus 18:3]. God's instruction continues to say that these things make us unclean, He calls keeping pagan feasts 'abominations' and any who continue with these abominations will be cut off [Leviticus 18:24-29].
Our God is not the author of confusion, but the bringer of peace [I Cor. 14:33], the Greek word used in this verse and translated as confusion, is 'akatastasia' means “ instability, disorder, commotion, tumult” which certainly applies to the chaos we find at New Year. It took thousands of years man has discussed and changes the date of the New Year from the fall to winter to spring and back to winter. Look in an encyclopedia and you will find that: “January 1 was restored as New Year’s Day by the Gregorian calendar (1582), immediately adopted by Roman Catholic countries. Other countries slowly followed suit: Scotland, 1660; Germany and Denmark, about 1700; England, 1752; Sweden, 1753; and Russia, 1918.” [Merriam-Webster’s Encyclo-pedia of World Religions] More than any other celebration, the New Year feast is totally pagan, constituted entirely by man, with NO connection to any faith other than a pagan belief. We must follow faithfully the commands that God gives us and Jesus confirmed that “‘Man shall not live by bread alone,but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” [Matthew 4:4]. We must live by God's word, not just those commands that we feel like observing, but every word. Of course we cannot hope to live up to the standard that God has set, none of us can claim that they can, [1 John 1:8] which is why we need Jesus as our advocate. That does not mean that we don't need to try to observe God's law, which means that we should not go against God's law and indulge ourselves in these pagan festivals, like New Year. The heart of man is deceitful and will turn against God at the first opportunity, man has a sickness that cannot be understood [Jeremiah 17:9], we all have a rebellious heart [Jeremiah 5:23]. I have lost count of how many times I have heard Christians say that, “Yes but that's Old Testament, it does not apply to the New Covenant, today,” Many claim that the Old Testament law is now obsolete, despite Jesus telling us that it is not [Matthew 5:17-18]. The Old Testament law remains valid and as 2 Timothy 3:16-17 tells us, all scripture, including the Old Testament is 'profitable', “for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness,” because it comes from God, and cannot be broken [John 10:35]
God views both a rebellious person and pagan ways very seriously, and Jesus spoke about following pagan traditions, what He called, “doctrines the commandments of men.” Jesus quoted Isaiah's prophesy [Isaiah 29:13] and calls man 'hypocrites' because they honour God with their lips but follow the traditions of men [Mark 7:6-8], like New Year celebrations. And Jesus told them “You have a fine way of rejecting the commandment of God in order to establish your tradition!” [Mark 7:9]. We must take care to do what God decrees we should do, but more importantly we MUST take even more care not to do anything that that God has not decreed, especially when we add those things to our faith [Deuteronomy 12:32], especially pagan practices. Yet which of the feasts, which God ordained, does the Christian church observe? Many Christians believe these annual feasts or Sabbaths are just for the Jews, and they prefer to observe pagan holidays, appointed by man. This is short-sighted because although they may be more fun, we risk our salvation when we purposely defy God.
When we defy God and observe these man-made feasts we are entering into Satan's world, he is the lord of this world and these feasts are worldly, and he is the deceiver [Revelation 12:9]. So logically, anything that is not ordained by God, or anything that is the invention of man (the world) is of Satan. That serpent has blinded the world to keep us from seeing the truth of the Gospel and God's law [2 Corinthians 4:4]. In Genesis 3 Satan tricked Eve and then Adam into disregarding God's command, he fooled them by mixing truth and lies, just as he has done down the ages. The feasts of man have been cleverly mixed with God's truth to fool us into disobedience to God. Satan converted Passover to the pagan Easter, Hanukkah into Christmas, Sukkot into the pagan Harvest Festival, and cleverly connected the New Year with Christmas, giving it a pseudo-spirituality. Jesus told His disciples,us, that they were not of this world because He set us apart [John 15:19]. The Bible, when it translates a word as 'church' misleads us because the Greek word they translate is,'Ecclesia' (ἐκκλησία ekklēsia) ' which means 'a people set aside' and we are told not to conform to this world [Romans 12:2]. Celebrating New Year is, therefore, conforming to this world, an open rebellion against our God.
The apostle Paul gives us a stern warning about continuing with the things associated with these pagan feasts, which are things of the 'flesh'. He lists the very things that the Christmas and New Year feasts bring out in us at that party we may be going to, beware because the warning is stark, he says:
Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20 idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, 21 envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. "[Galatians 5:19-21]
The Bible tells us the truth about feasts that are not ordained by God, about the New Year festivities, and how God views these practices and traditions of man and Satan. History tells us about its chaotic and pagan origins, and it tells of the consequences of wilfully disobeying our Lord, time after time, year after New Year.
So says the Lord.