For Everything, A Season
“For Everything There Is A Season...” So says the Preacher in Ecclesiastes 3:1. Our God has ordained whatsoever shall come to pass, according to His most wise and free counsel. He has set the limits for every hour, day, week, month and year. He has also ordained the seasons. We live our lives by the divine designations of days and seasons. We mark our births and deaths, we plant and pluck up, break down and build up, all according to the times that God has designated. We live our lives by calendars.
Can you then imagine a sudden and irreversible change of order to the calendar? Can you imagine a change of such dramatic proportions that it changed the very time-frame of life itself? Such a pivotal moment actually occurred in the history of Israel. The Old Covenant people of God underwent a recalibration of their calendar.
In Exodus 12:1, the LORD commanded Israel to mark their deliverance from judgment, by the celebration of the Passover feast. The Passover was THE great redemptive act of the old covenant. It was to be celebrated yearly by the entire nation, each household sacrificing a lamb and observing the many stipulations God concerning the feast. They were to remember that by the means of a sacrificial lamb and the blood on the doorposts and lintels of their home, the LORD had passed over them in judgment. The Passover was the removal of judgment and the typological precursor to physical redemption of the Exodus.
One stipulation concerning the Passover--frequently ignored and sometimes debated--was the recalibration of the Israelite calendar. In Ex 12:2-3 the LORD states “This month shall be for you the beginning of months. It shall be the first month of the year for you.” It appears that the Lord is requiring Israel to place the month of Abib, later called Nisan, as the first month of the year.1. (For us, this would be equivalent to starting the New Year at April, rather than in January). For obvious reasons, the LORD changed the Israelite calendar to begin the New Year--it came with the commemoration of redemption. The Israelites' New Year marked a new beginning: the LORD’S Passover (12:11), the LORD’s deliverance of Israel as a nation. It set the tone for the rest of the Israelites' lives. As each New Year dawned, Israel was to remember their salvation and deliverance--and to look forward to the ultimate deliverance to which the typical redemption pointed. Quickly followed by the Feast of Unleavened Bread (which taught the Israelites the necessity of holiness in a relationship with the LORD) the Israelite New Year was redolent with God’s acts of deliverance and man’s response in holy living. What a blessed way to commence the Israelite new year, in celebration of God’s mighty acts on behalf of his people!
The New Covenant has its own equivalent to the Israelite calendar recalibration. The only other place in Scripture (and history)2 where there was a permanent recalibration of the calendar was during the days of the Apostles--as recorded in the book of Acts. The Holy Spirit intimated in the descriptive record of the early church that, during the days of the Apostles, the church moved from Sabbath to Lord’s Day. The Lord’s Day commemorated the resurrection of Christ – His own deliverance from death which guaranteed his people’s deliverance from the same. The calendar of worship was recalibrated to mark the concluding act of God’s great act of deliverance in the New Covenant – the resurrection. Moreover, just as the recalibration of the Israelite calendar was marked by a feast (i.e. the Passover) so too was the Christian calendar recalibration marked by a feast – the Lord’s Supper.
What does all this mean for us? Here are two practical considerations:
- First, we must learn to recalibrate our minds to the New Covenant calendar. The Lord’s Day is the day that God has appointed to reverberate with the tones of resurrection and redemption. If we were more conscious of the redemptive-historical significance of the Lord’s Day, we would derive more personal benefit from it. Approaching the Lord’s Day through the lens of resurrection and redemption makes the day of worship seem less like chore and more like an experience of joy.
- Second, we must give more attention to the Lord's Day as the actual day of deliverance. The many stipulations and rituals of the Old Covenant served as reminders of deliverance. The stipulations of the Old Covenant deliverance in no way stifled the celebration of the Passover, rather they bolstered its meaning by symbolizing the same thing--the redemption to come in Christ. The Lord's Day does that very thing for us in the New Covenant. We celebrate in fulfillment on the New Covenant Lord's Day what the Old Covenant church only celebrated in type and promise.
Ian D. Campbell On the First Day of the Week
1. This is debated by some commentators, including John Currid in his Exodus commentary.
2. The French Revolution’s attempts to obliterate the Lord’s Day, by moving to a ten-day working week was a disastrous failure!)