From the Preacher’s Pen…
There are many things that people seem to think about with the arrival of a new year. Some are planning diets after the holiday meals, others are hoping to get into better physical shape. The gyms will be full for the next few weeks and diet foods will sell well.
But in a month or so many will go back to their old way of life and the resolutions will be forgotten.
While the lessons are many and we are often reminded (at least once a year!) of them, there are also spiritual lessons that are even more important to remember!
To a New Year
When I think of a new year there are two great Biblical reminders that come to mind.
The first one is what Paul calls putting on the “New Man.” He says it like this: “that, in reference to your former manner of life, you lay aside the old man, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit, and that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and put on the new man, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth” (Ephesians 4:22-24)
Now, before you ladies go to sleep, notice the two specific words that Paul uses in this passage.
“Man” is not the word for a male person but rather the generic term for human beings.
Likewise, “New” is not the usual word for something new in time. This is not a “new day in our week,” but rather is the Greek word that points specifically to something new in quality as opposed to what is old and worn out. A good example of the difference is found in the tomb that Joseph of Arimathea used for the body of Jesus (Matthew 27:60). It is not called “new” in the sense of being recently cut in the rock but rather is “new” as it has never been used.
Put those two words together and you get the picture: Our new being in Christ has never existed before. We are transformed (remember Romans 12:1-2?), changed by God into new beings with new desires and a new way of life. As Paul says it, “Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come” (2 Corinthians 5:17).
The second reminder comes with the “New Song.” You may be familiar with the song by that title in our songbooks and even know that it comes from the final book of God’s word as a reminder of the promised “New Song” in heaven (Revelation 5:9; 14:3). But you may be surprised to learn that the theme of the “New Song” begins in the Old Testament!
Again, let’s consider the two specific words used by God. The Hebrew word “new” is often used for what has never been seen or done before. In Ezekiel 18:31 God challenges His people to repent and “Cast away from you all your transgressions which you have committed and make yourselves a new heart and a new spirit! For why will you die, O house of Israel?” (Ezekiel 18:31)
“Song” is the word especially used for a religious song and is used by Ezra and Nehemiah of the Levitical choirs (cf. Nehemiah 12:46).
The two Hebrew words occur together seven times in the Old Testament. Each time it is a “new song” being composed in response to what God has done and nearly always uses a form of the command formula of “Sing to the Lord a new song.”
The first occurrence is Psalm 33:3 and the phrase also forms part of the opening for Psalms 96, 98 and 149. Likewise, David declares that he will sing “a new song to You, O God” in Psalm 144:9.
Isaiah appropriately makes the final Old Testament reference as God looks forward to the fulfillment of His plans for man’s redemption and repentance. “Sing to the Lord a new song, Sing His praise from the end of the earth! You who go down to the sea, and all that is in it. You islands, and those who dwell on them.” (Isaiah 42:10)
Now, when we move to Revelation and the final “New Song” of praise to the Lamb of God who bought our salvation with His own blood, we realize just how much it means.
As we begin a “New Year,” is there any greater promise than our renewal in Christ leading us toward that eternal “New Song” in heaven?
May we truly be a renewed, new people that rejoice in our new song this new year!
— Lester P. Bagley
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