(Public Domain material on Grace Gems website, no author given for this article)
The Lord said to Moses and Aaron in Egypt, “This month is to be for you the first month, the first month of your year. Tell the whole community of Israel that on the tenth day of this month each man is to take a lamb for his family, one for each household. If any household is too small for a whole lamb, they must share one with their nearest neighbor, having taken into account the number of people there are. You are to determine the amount of lamb needed in accordance with what each person will eat. The animals you choose must be year-old males without defect, and you may take them from the sheep or the goats. Take care of them until the fourteenth day of the month, when all the people of the community of Israel must slaughter them at twilight. Then they are to take some of the blood and put it on the sides and tops of the doorframes of the houses where they eat the lambs. Exodus 12:1-7
God has ever been wont to express his estimate of certain events in history and epochs in time. He would mark their importance, and perpetuate their memory by appointing standing memorials, which should in after ages testify to His righteousness, faithfulness, and love in the government of His Church. The institution of the Passover, and the time selected for its observance, illustrate this thought. There was, probably, no Jewish rite more strikingly typical of Christ, more impressively suggestive of Gospel truth than this. Whether we consider the occasion of its appointment- the deliverance of the Israelites from the destroying angel; or the nature of the institution itself- a lamb slain, without blemish; or, the sprinkling of the blood upon the dwellings of God’s chosen people- all point to the great truth- “Christ our Passover:” or, “Christ our Pascal Lamb,” as the original expresses it- “was sacrificed for us.”
The time, too, of its appointment was scarcely less significant. The Israelites were to begin the year with its observance. They were to enter upon the first month of the year with sacrifice- the sacrifice of the pascal lamb. All this was typical of Jesus: all was replete with Gospel truth. But it is more especially with one view of the type our present reading relates- the period when the pascal lamb was to be offered- it was “the first month of the year.”
We are now entering upon a similar period of time. This is the beginning of months, the first month of the year to us. How are we to commence it? With what sentiments, feelings, and service shall we embark in its yet unshaped history? Guided by the typical teaching of the institution we have just referred to, we are to commence this new year with sacrifice: to begin it with atoning blood; in other words, speaking in Gospel language- to make the cross of Jesus the starting point in the new journey of life. The reasonableness of this will at once appear to the spiritual and reflective mind. If we would not ingraft upon the new year the sad memories of the old: if we are desirous not to import into its yet unstained, because its yet unborn time, the sins and guilt, the backslidings and failures, the habits and doings of the past, we must offer a sacrifice: we must present in faith a lamb: we must observe the sprinkling of blood. All this we have in “Christ our Passover, sacrificed for us.”
The first thought which the opening of the year naturally suggests to a reflective mind, relates to individual conversion. It is quite possible that many into whose hands this work may fall, are about to enter upon a new epoch of time still in a condition of spiritual unregeneracy. You are about to take into the new year the same unrenewed nature to which must be traced the countless sins, short-comings, and infirmities of the old. What a solemn, yes, what an appalling thought is this! You are entering upon a year in which everything in its history will be new. What! are you resolved to wed the old nature, the old sins, the old habits, with the new stage of your being? Shall this year be even as all the past have been -blanks in your life? -worse than blanks!
There are, properly speaking, no blanks in human life. The page of each day’s life is being inscribed with a history that will confront us in the last great day, and which will be read out before an assembled universe. There are no blanks! This is a probationary state, and every event, and action, and word of the present is solemnly and indissolubly linked with our future. What a man sows in this probationary state of his being, that shall he also reap. Let your first consideration, then, be, on entering upon a new stage of life- your new birth, your true, spiritual conversion to God.
Prostrate yourself in prayer, and beseech Him that this may be the year of jubilee to your soul- the year of your release from the thraldom of sin, the tyranny of the world, the despotism of Satan, and the yet more enslaving power of your self-righteousness. Thus introduced into the liberty of the children of God, the freedom with which Christ makes His people free, it will be to you not only the beginning of months, but of a new and heavenly life, the beginning of an immortality of ever-growing bliss, and of ever-deepening glory.
Thus earnestly do I plead with you, while yet standing amid the twilight shadows of the dawning year, to exclaim- “What have I to do any more with idols? Thus taught by the Spirit, your sinfulness and need of Christ; thus led to trust only in Jesus; drawing from Him the inspiration of a new-born and heavenly life, and by His grace henceforth living upon Christ and for Christ, all things will become new.
This is conversion- the conversion which the Word of God teaches, which the Holy Spirit imparts, and which heaven demands as an essential condition of its end less glory. Oh, hesitate to take another step in this new stage of life, before you seek in earnest prayer to be a partaker of spiritual life. Begin not the year’s duties, responsibilities, and temptations, but with Christ. It is for your life that I solemnly implore you to ask the Holy Spirit to regenerate you, that, henceforth; living the higher, nobler, and enduring life of a child of God here, you may became an heir of glory, and an inheritor of the kingdom of heaven hereafter.
Another reflection suggested by the new year relates, to our progress in the Divine life. Where is the child of God who desires that the past year of his Christian advance should be the model and the standard of the present? Who would ingraft upon the new year the spiritual coldness, torpor, and slothfulness, the infirmities, backslidings, and feeble advance of the old? No! the real believer, the true Christian pilgrim, mournfully and sorrowfully lamenting the past- his slow advance, his little real growth in grace, his innumerable frailties, infirmities, and short-comings, the coldness of his love to Christ, and the distance of his walk with God- most earnestly desires that, with a new-born period of time he should commence a new start in the Divine life, a fresh surrender of himself to the Lord.
If this be so, we must begin the year as the Israelites did with atoning blood. In other words, we must make the cross of Jesus our starting point. There must be a renewed application of the blood, cleansing the past: and there must be the fresh sprinkling of the blood, consecrating the future. O import not into the new year the unrepented, uncleansed sins, the unhealed backslidings, and low spiritual standard of the old. Begin. the year with all things new.
One spiritual truth I am most solicitous in pressing upon the believer: it is, the application of atoning blood. This alone imparts assured peace. What was it that gave to the Israelites the security, confidence, and composure which they felt when the angel of death sped through the land smiting the first-born of Egypt? It was the knowledge and consciousness of the blood of the pascal lamb applied to his dwelling! Apart from this he possessed no security and could have felt no peace.
The grand failure in experimental religion of multitudes of Christian professors is, the lack of an applied atonement. They are not sure that this blood is upon them: they have not fully come in faith to the blood. To them the words cannot wholly apply, “You ARE come to the blood of sprinkling.” Rest not short of this, my reader. The blood, sprinkled by the Spirit…, will impart to your conscience present peace, by assuring you of a present security. Beneath that sprinkled, that personally applied blood, you can calmly repose, and triumphantly exclaim- “There is now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus.”
The blood on the conscience will purge it from the guilt of sin, and from dead works; the blood on the heart will fill it with peace in believing: yes, with joy unspeakable, and full of glory. If the blood of the pascal lamb, a type only, was to the Israelites a boon so precious, and conferred a blessing so vast, and was attended by results so hallowed, “how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the Eternal Spirit, offered Himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works, to serve the living God!” sealing upon your heart “quietness and assurance forever.”