This Month Shall Be The Beginning
In Exodus 12.2, God, through Moses, told the children of Israel, “This month shall be the beginning of months for you.” The setting in which these words were uttered was the announcement of the last of the ten plagues upon Egypt (Exodus 11.4-7). A memorial was set up for the Israelites to keep throughout their generations (Exodus 12.26-27).
A question was asked by the Israelite children: “What mean ye by this service?” This is a relevant question in religious matters. “Why do you do the things you do in your worship?” The Israelite parents were to explain the significance of this memorial to their children. The “sacrifice of Jehovah’s passover” was a serious matter. The significance of this new memorial is seen from the fact that this month was to be a “beginning of months” in their religious life. The term “beginning” is translated “head, chief, top, and principal” elsewhere in scripture. This gives us an idea of its importance. Exodus 12.26-27 states the reason why the sacrifice was to be offered. The determinations of what, when, and where of the sacrifice were mentioned in other passages. It was not left up to the people to decide for themselves as they desired. In Exodus 12.14-20, we find that God’s commands were very specific as to the what, when, and where of this sacrifice. These were appointed matters from God. The people were to honor his word in their observance of the sacrifice.
Fast-forward to January 1, 2023. Today begins a new month of a new year. With the first day of this year being the first day of the week, Christians are in the same situation of Israel of old. We have been given a memorial to keep throughout our generations. We have specific language from our Savior as to the who, what, when, where, and why of our spiritual sacrifices. Israel was warned not to “appear before the Lord empty-handed,” not only in regard to this sacrifice, but all of them. “Three times in a year all your males shall appear before the Lord your God in the place which he chooses, at the Feast of Unleavened Bread and at the Feast of Weeks and at the Feast of Booths, and they shall not appear before the Lord empty-handed” (Deuteronomy 16.16).
We sing a song entitled, “Must I Go and Empty-Handed?”. When we come before the Lord today (and every first day), have we appeared empty-handed? The Lord has blessed us both materially and spiritually. We have been provided faith through the blessing of his word (Romans 10.17). Are we empty-handed in our faith? We have the resource of guidance in his word (1 Corinthians 10.13). Are we empty-handed? He has fulfilled our need for companionship in the marriage relationship (Genesis 2.18-24). Are we empty-handed? Have we been blessed with children or grandchildren from the Lord (Psalm 127.3)? Are we destroying their lives by being empty-handed? Are we empty-handed in our own spiritual discipline before them?
The apostle Paul spoke of our “spiritual service”: “I beseech you, therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service. And be not fashioned according to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is the good and acceptable and perfect will of God” (Romans 12.1-2). Have we presented our bodies unto God as instruments of righteousness alive from the dead or of unrighteousness (Romans 6.13)? Have we given up our love for sin? Have we ever truly developed as yet in our lives a love for righteousness and truth? Are we empty-handed in regard to our practice of righteousness and truth? "Let us not love in word, neither with the tongue; but in deed and truth” (1 John 3.18).
We have been forgiven by God of our sins by the sacrifice of his Son (John 1.29,36). What of our forgiveness to those who have wronged us? Are we empty-handed? God loves us more than any other thing he created. Are we empty-handed in our obedience to him (John 14.15)? Jesus was crucified for us. Have we been crucified with him (Galatians 2.20)? Are we empty-handed? We will all stand before God in judgment one day (Romans 14.10). He has blessed everyone with one or more talents. Why should we appear before him empty-handed at the Judgment (Matthew 25.24-29)?
For children of God, every day presents a new beginning. Every day we awaken, we wake with a blessing of life and breath from the Creator. We wake with hope of heaven before us. We wake in fellowship with him because his word so declared it to be. We are his because he chose us in Christ. He has blessed us with the freedom of choosing life or death. Let us choose to be filled with his Spirit, his knowledge, his goodness, and his love, and we will never again be empty-handed before him.