This time of year has more than its share of new beginnings. In many parts of the world, freshly fallen snow creates a pristine landscape, cleansed of yesterday’s grime and soot, coating tree branches with feathery plumes and sparkling crystal, and blanketing downy fields that invite fresh footprints.
Those who celebrate Christmas with gift giving are enjoying their new presents – perhaps the novel experience of an exotic fragrance, the taste and texture of undiscovered gourmet treats, the exciting look of the latest fashion accessory, or even the crisp, cool feel of new sheets. All across the globe people are viewing the first page of their new calendar or journal, and many of us who read devotionals are marveling that once again it is January of a new year.
Our pastor likes to say that the New Year, as well as the start of each month and even the dawning of each new day, is like an automatic reset button. Praise God that His mercies are new every morning (Lamentations 3:22-23), and that no matter what mistakes we have made and what sins we have committed, He is quick to forgive us and to cleanse us from our sins if we confess them and repent (I John 1:9).
In our daily Bible reading, we are back to Genesis, contemplating the Creator of all, the self-existent One Who simply was “in the beginning.” (Genesis 1:1; John 1:1). Without Him was nothing made that is made (John 1:3). As we have seen in our study of triplets in Scripture, the attributes of God, the Names of Jesus, types of worship, and works of His creation can be described in groups of three. This pattern continues as we look at new beginnings of the earth and of human life.
The Bible describes three new beginnings for the earth and all it contains, even though the earth will in one form or another continue eternally (Psalm 78:69; Ecclesiastes 1:4). First, God created the heavens and earth, as well as light, celestial bodies, water, plants, animals, and man (Genesis 1). But once Adam and Eve disobeyed God, sin and death entered their world, and even the earth was cursed and fell into corruption (Genesis 3:17-19; Hebrews 1:11-12; Romans 8:22).
The second beginning for the earth was the flood, in which God caused cataclysmic changes on the earth and its oceans and destroyed most of the earth’s inhabitants because of man’s wickedness (Genesis 7).
The third beginning for the earth will be renovation by fire, occurring after Christ’s return and His reign in the Millennial Kingdom. Even the very elements of the earth will then burn with an intense heat (2 Peter 3:10) in preparation for the new heavens and new earth (2 Peter 3:13). Christ will make all things new (Revelation 21:5), purging the earth from the corruption of the curse, sin and death.
For God’s children, human life also has three beginnings: conception, birth, and being born again. For every human being, life begins at the moment of conception, at that defining moment when the union of sperm and egg result in a reassortment of genetic material from both the father and mother, containing all the instructions needed to ensure development of a unique person with specific physical and emotional traits.
Everyone on earth was born on a specific year, date and time, with our birthday marking our beginning in this world, that moment when we first cried out to announce our presence. Pediatricians note the newborn’s weight, length, and head circumference and track these three measurements throughout early development. But we were born “few of days and full of trouble,” (Job 14:1) with only a very brief, limited time (James 4:14) to overcome and subdue our sin nature and to honor God with our life.
This can happen only if we have a new spiritual beginning – that moment in time when we are born again (John 3:3-8). That rebirth requires that we come to the end of our natural self and die to our sin nature (1 Corinthians 15:31), realizing that we are sinners in need of a Savior (Romans 3:23-28), and that without Him, we can do nothing (John 15:5).
God has created each born-again believer with the potential to use our own peculiar characteristics to glorify Him, no matter how the world perceives us (Ephesians 2:10; Philippians 2:13). What others might see as a defect is like clay in God’s hands to be fashioned into a special vessel consecrated to His purpose (Isaiah 29:16; 64:8; Romans 9:21). At the moment of salvation, the Holy Spirit indwells us and equips us with at least one spiritual gift to be used to encourage fellow believers (1 Corinthians 12).
A new beginning awaiting all believers is the Rapture, when we will have new bodies, a new address, and a new name (Revelation 2:17). Our bodies will be like that of the resurrected Christ (Philippians 3:21), and we will never die, age, or become ill. Instead of pain, sorrow, and tears, we will experience vitality, joy, and a new song. (Isaiah 35:10; Revelation 5:9; 21:4). Our new home will be in our own mansion, (John 14:2) in Heaven, in the New Jerusalem (Revelation 21:2).
As the New Year begins, I’m eagerly anticipating what God has in store for this year, and even more eagerly awaiting the new beginning of the Rapture! It could be this year or even this very day – may we be ready by knowing and serving Him!