In the month of March, the Philippines welcomes a new batch of young hopefuls in search for jobs. It also welcomes a season of going to beach resorts and swimming pools to cool down. But welcome a new year?
Without fireworks, without waiting for midnight, the Members Church of God International celebrated the Christian New Year on March 11, 2013. Before sunset — the biblical reckoning of a day — members gathered at the ADD Convention Center and at Church chapters across the globe using its Internet and satellite services.
In a country where most people observe the Gregorian Calendar, such a celebration can be considered something new. However what many do not know is, it has been like that for over five thousand years.
A New Year’s Birth at Night
During their sermon for the occasion, MCGI Leaders Bro. Eli Soriano and Bro. Daniel Razon discussed the biblical reasons behind the celebration.
“One of the things that God told His servants that we must first learn is written in Exodus 12:1-2,” said Bro. Eli. With the verse he cited, the preacher traced back the birth of the calendar given by God to the Israelites in the time of the Prophet Moses.
“After all the chaos that was done in the land of Egypt, after they have seen terrible events, the night came when they were prepared to go,” Bro. Eli said. It was the same night, remarked Bro. Soriano when God proclaimed to them: “This month shall be unto you the beginning of months. It shall be the first month of the year to you, (Exodus 12:1-2).”
The International Evangelist stressed that it was in that “glorious night” when the Israelites’ sufferings ended and their freedom began that the Hebrew Calendar was born – the same calendar observed by MCGI.
Following the Leader
“Why do we have to respect that calendar, that started on that very night when the Israelites were liberated by God from Egypt?,” Bro. Eli asked.
He stressed that it is because it was the same calendar that the Lord Jesus Christ observed. “If we are Christians, we have to follow the very same calendar, the very same reckoning of time.”
The Old Path program host explained that there are many calendars existing in the world today associated with religious beliefs. The Gregorian, Indian, Chinese, and Islamic calendars are some examples of the calendars that are now in use.
(Calendars in time present and past: “Calendars from Around the World”)
Bro. Soriano also pointed out that during that time, Egypt was an established kingdom or dynasty, and for certain, they had their own calendar. However, God did not tell the Israelites to “bring to Canaan the calendar they were accustomed with in Egypt,” but He gave them a new calendar.
“They were to disregard the Egyptian Calendar and start a calendar as a free nation, a nation of God,” he added. According to Bro. Soriano, it is important that people understand that “this is really the calendar that existed from the time of Moses to the time of the Lord Jesus and the Apostles.”
A proof of this, Bro. Eli said, is the Israelites’ observance of the Passover, “whose point of reckoning or beginning is the first day of the first month of the year they were about to leave Egypt.”
The entire congregation welcomed the first of Nisan, the first month in the Hebrew Calendar, of Year 5773 with songs of praise and prayers, and by studying a Biblical topic prepared by its Leaders.