Every four years we experience a leap year which means that we have 366 days in the year instead of 365. It actually takes 365.242190 days for the earth to orbit the sun. Without the adjustment, the seasons "drift." So, one day is added to our calendars at the end of February. The Hebrew calendar also has a leap year. However, it is necessary for their calendar to have an entire month added to it so that their holidays fall in the proper season. The Bible makes it clear that the first month (Nisan) is to occur in the spring and the seventh month (Tishrei) during the fall harvest. In addition, since the Hebrew calendar is lunar, and our calendar is solar, the leap year helps correct the imbalance between the two calendars. There are seven leap years every nineteen years in the Hebrew calendar.
The last month on the Hebrew calendar is Adar. Since this is a leap year, we have an extra Adar month. Though Purim is celebrated during Adar II, we should still connect to the aspects of this month during Adar I. Adar means strength. God tells us in Isaiah 40:29-31, "He gives strength to the weary and to him who lacks might He increases power. Though youth grow weary and tired, and vigorous young men stumble badly, yet those who wait for the Lord will gain new strength. They will mount up with wings like eagles, they will run and not get tired, they will walk and not become weary." (NAS) What a promise!
Earlier in Isaiah 40 it explains that all creation should make a way for the Lord as His Word "stands forever." (Isaiah 40:8) He comes to comfort His people and assures them of this: "Behold, the Lord God will come with might, with His arm ruling for Him. Behold, His reward is with Him and His recompense before Him." (Isaiah 40:10 - NAS) The chapter goes on to rejoice in the characteristics of the Lord that include the truth that He made all creation, and that justice, knowledge, and understanding are His. Verse 18 asks an important question: "To whom will you liken God? Or what likeness will you compare with Him?" (NAS) "Lift up your eyes on high and see who has created these stars. The One who leads forth their host by number, He calls them all by name. Because of the greatness of His might and the strength of His power, not one of them is missing...Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth does not become weary or tired; His understanding is inscrutable." (Verses 26 and 28 - NAS)
God gives strength to us through joy. As it says in Nehemiah 8:10, "The joy of the Lord is our strength.” This word was given to God's people after Ezra the priest read the law to them. Verse 12 of Chapter 8 tells us that all the people "celebrated with great joy, because they understood the words that had been made known to them." Since God is the Word (John 1:1) this explains Psalm 16:11. "...In Your presence is fullness of joy." (NAS)
Isn't it wonderful that during this leap year we can focus on having two months of strength and joy? Being in the Lord's presence is the key to both gifts.
Joan E. Mathias