When I was in the Air Force, my wife, Amy, and I always looked forward to transferring to a new base. No matter how much we had enjoyed a particular assignment, the idea of turning the page and starting fresh always appealed to us.
Many of us were happy to have put the year 2020 into our rearview mirror. What started out as a year of great promise seemed to turn into a year of dread and curse. And so it is quite natural to look forward with anticipation to a new beginning.
A Time for Reflection
But it is exactly at a moment such as this that we need to stop and reflect. Scripture is filled with examples of God commanding His people to pause at a moment of transition — to look back and to prepare for what lies ahead. When the children of Israel were poised to enter Canaan, Moses and then Joshua took time to recount their journey — both physically and spiritually — to the Promised Land.
Even the Jewish feasts were meant to be times of reflection and introspection as much as celebration. Just think of the Passover, where Jewish families recount their heritage of captivity in Egypt and deliverance by the hand of God.
Similarly, Rosh Hoshanah marks the first day of the Hebrew New Year. It is set aside as a holy day, not because it is to be filled with frivolity and good cheer, but so that every Jew can look back and consider God’s blessings from the past (Leviticus 23:23-27). The meal marking Rosh Hoshanah is known as the Feast of Trumpets, and a series of trumpet blasts on the shofar is commanded. The rabbinical tradition requires a minimum of 30 blasts, but most celebrants use 100 or 101 carefully prescribed blasts.
Even the shofar itself is meant to point the Jewish mind back to a moment when God provided. The ram’s horn is a tangible reminder that when Abraham was poised to sacrifice his own son Isaac out of obedience to God, the LORD provided a ram.
The trumpet blast points back to the sound that called the children of Israel to Mount Sinai where they entered into a covenant with God (Exodus 19:13,16-19). And, it points forward to future trumpet blasts. Isaiah spoke of a trumpet, or shofar, that will sound to signal the regathering of the Jewish people (18:3). And Zechariah wrote of the Lord God Himself blowing a shofar when He once again dwells among the Jewish people and goes forth to fight on their behalf (9:14-16).
So, as we turn the page on a year that has been described in terms ranging from surreal to catastrophic, let’s pause to praise God. Regardless of the trials and tribulations we experienced in 2020, a follower of Jesus Christ can discern the Lord’s hand at work — providing and preserving. Even when darkness seems to be on the rise, we should pause to “count our blessings one by one — because we will certainly be encouraged by all that God has done.”
And let’s consider what lies ahead — more opportunities to shine the light of Truth in our darkening world, and the soon appearing of our Lord of Light.
No matter how you ring in the New Year, just know that soon “the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God” (1 Thessalonians 4:16). Paul said that the dead in Christ will rise first, but then “we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord” (1 Thessalonians 4:17). It is because of our anticipation of this promised deliverance that we can comfort one another.
Finally, it’s one thing to roll the calendar forward every year — sloughing off the old and looking forward hopefully to a shiny new year. But how much more spectacular will it be to lay aside all the baggage of this life and put on our glorified, imperishable body as we rise to meet Jesus?
If you do not know Him as Savior and worship Him as Lord, you will be left behind at the Rapture of the Church. 2020 will look like child’s play as you enter the Tribulation and endure the wrath of God and the evil reign of the Antichrist. Pestilence, war, natural disasters, and famine of cataclysmic proportions will engulf the world.
Do not wait another day; turn a page right now and start afresh and anew. Trust in Him who sits on the throne of heaven and said, “Behold, I am making all things new” (Revelation 21:5). Ask Him to do so for you today.