New Year’s Day is often a time for making resolutions. We’re going to lose weight, exercise more, advance our career, learn a new skill, etc 1. We use that one day of the year as an incentive to make a fresh start, to break bad habits or begin good new ones.
Day of Salvation
God offers many opportunities for a fresh start. The main one, of course, is accepting Jesus as Savior and being born into His eternal life. That is a once-in-a-lifetime event, as much of a start to new life as the day that a baby is born.
Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.2 Corinthians 5:17
The Bible teaches that every day is a potential day of salvation. It does so with an interesting series of references. During the Exodus from Egypt to the Promised Land in about 1450 B.C., there was a time when the Israelites complained against God because there wasn’t enough water. God provided the water, but He was not at all happy with the people for complaining instead of trusting. Remember, at this point they had already experienced the plagues in Egypt and the miraculous crossing of the Red Sea. But they still didn’t have faith that God would take care of them. That place was called “Meribah”, which means “strife” or “contention”, and also “Massah”, which means “temptation” (Exodus 17:1-7, see also Numbers 20:8-13). Several hundred years later, in about 1000 B.C., King David wrote:
For He is our God,Psalm 95:7-9
And we are the people of His pasture and the sheep of His hand.
Today, if you would hear His voice,
Do not harden your hearts, as at Meribah,
As in the day of Massah in the wilderness,
“When your fathers tested Me,
They tried Me, though they had seen My work.
In about 68 A.D., over a thousand years after David wrote the psalm, the writer of Hebrews quoted it:
But encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called “Today,” so that none of you will be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.Hebrews 3:13, Hebrews 4:7
He again fixes a certain day, “Today,” saying through David after so long a time just as has been said before,
“TODAY IF YOU HEAR HIS VOICE,
DO NOT HARDEN YOUR HEARTS.”
God’s “today” had lasted from the Exodus through the Psalms and on to Hebrews. And it is still in effect. Any “today” can be the day to hear His voice and begin life with Him.
But each day, even each moment, also brings its own chance to begin anew. Each time we go to God admitting that we’ve messed up (again) and asking for forgiveness (again!), He responds. I may think that He will get tired of me and give up, saying that I’ve passed my limit. But that will never happen.
When Peter asked Jesus how often he should forgive someone who sinned against him, he thought that he was being exceptionally gracious by offering to forgive seven times. Rabbinic law only required three times 2. He and the other listeners would have been stunned when Jesus answered with an implied unlimited number of times (Matthew 18:21-22). Depending on how the Greek is translated 3, He said either “seventy-seven” or “seventy times seven”. Either would have meant “Don’t count. Just keep forgiving.” That’s a reflection of how God reacts. He never stops forgiving, no matter how many times it’s needed 4.
God promises that He puts the past behind and treats us as clean and new.
Create in me a clean heart, O God,
And renew a steadfast spirit within me.
Restore to me the joy of Your salvationPsalm 51:10, 12
And sustain me with a willing spirit.
As far as the east is from the west,Psalm 103:12, see also Acts 3:19, Isaiah 44:22, Isaiah 55:7
So far has He removed our transgressions from us.
The Bible also tells of other blessings that God gives repeatedly, every day and every time that we ask. From the Lord’s Prayer (Luke 11:1-4), we get “Give us this day our daily bread“, provision for the necessities of life 5. From James 1:5, we see that wisdom is available whenever we face a difficult decision. From Isaiah 40:31 and Isaiah 33:2, we see God providing the strength needed to get through each day.
Whatever we need, every day, every time we need it, God will provide.
The LORD’s lovingkindnesses indeed never cease,Lamentations 3:22-23
For His compassions never fail.
They are new every morning;
Great is Your faithfulness.
Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day.2 Corinthians 4:16
The Ultimate New Day
Finally, we look forward to a day when God remakes His entire creation. That will include redeeming the broken part within us that causes sin and separation. After that point, we won’t need to regularly return to God for a “reset”. We will be so close that we never leave Him in the first place. What a New Eternity that is to anticipate!
But according to His promise we are looking for new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness dwells.2 Peter 3:13, See also Revelation 21:5-6 and Jeremiah 31:34
Enjoy the New Year’s celebrations. But don’t wait for them before you start — or renew — your close relationship with God. Happy New Day!
Footnotes and Scripture References
- January 2nd is often a time for those resolutions to be broken! 😁
- See this site for the teaching. Search for the word “three” to get to the relevant section.
- The Greek “hebdomekontakis hepta” is literally “seventyfold seven“.
- In one of my favorite books, “Tahn” by L. A. Kelly, a character describing God to another tells him “I think he likes to forgive people, if they’ll give him the chance. You don’t have to keep on like you are.”
- For more context, see Luke 11:1-13.
- Here’s another version, done by some precious and talented children.)