When God was ready to deliver His people from the bondage of Egypt, He introduced a new calendar order for the months. "The Lord said to Moses and Aaron in Egypt, 'This month (Nissan) is to be for you the first month, the first month of your year.'" (Exodus 12:1-2) I believe God wanted the Israelites to associate their deliverance and the Passover they would experience just before leaving Egypt with new beginnings. Spring is a time of new beginnings and a reminder of how all creation has recovered from a death process in order to rise to new life.
In this year (2023), the first month on the Hebrew calendar begins on Wednesday at sunset. It is called Nissan or Abib and is a Hebraic term for when the seeds of the grain have reached their full size. This was demonstrated as the children of Israel entered the Promised Land. God told them, "...When you enter the land I am going to give you and you reap its harvest, bring to the priest a sheaf of the first grain of your harvest. He is to wave the sheaf before the Lord so it will be accepted on your behalf; the priest is to wave it on the day after the Sabbath." (Leviticus 23:10-11) Isn't it amazing that the Promised Land was ripe for harvest when God's people were given it?
The details of God's timing and coordination of the events of each month are amazing! When Nissan began, the children of Israel were told that each Jewish family was to bring a spotless, year-old lamb into the household on the tenth of the month. The lamb was to be cared for until the fourteenth of the month when it would be slaughtered. The blood of that lamb was to be placed on the sides and top of the doorframes of their homes. As the angel of death passed through Egypt to kill their firstborn sons and animals, the children of Israel were protected by the blood of the lamb, and their homes were "passed over." The plague that struck Egypt did not touch the Israelites. In memory of this event, the Israelite families killed a Passover lamb yearly until God stopped the lamb sacrifices by bringing His Son, Jesus, to earth to die once and for all time. He became the true Passover Lamb that redeems us from our sins. As we receive Jesus into our hearts, His blood is applied to the doorframe of our hearts. We become "born again." 2 Corinthians 5:17 says, "If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation: The old has gone, the new is here!" And, as a sign that heaven was touching earth, the Lord placed a reminder of our Passover Lamb in the heavens during Nissan. The constellation Aries, the lamb, is prominent in the night sky during this month.
With God, nothing is left to chance. He even assigned a marching order to the children of Israel when they began their journey to the Promised Land. The tribe of Judah was to go out first. The Lord knew that HIs people would face battles on the way to their destination. What better way to overcome the enemy than with praise to the Lord? Judah comes from the Hebrew word Yadah, which means "to praise, to give thanks, and to glorify God." We find two interesting verses in Psalm 114: "When Israel came out of Egypt, the house of Jacob from a people of foreign tongue, Judah became God's sanctuary, Israel His dominion." (Verses 1-2) This means that God lived among them. He chose to dwell in their presence, and they became His dominion on the earth.
Let us rejoice in the reminders that we see of God's redemption and praise Him for what He has done. As spring erupts around us, He is calling each of us to join Him in a journey to our own Promised Land. If we walk in the will of God, He will empower us to live there and partake of the fullness of HIs provisions.
Joan E. Mathias