Have you ever spent time just looking up at the stars? When I homeschooled, we spent a season in astronomy. Lying on a blanket in the yard and gazing up at the marvelous works of the Lord was truly amazing.
Yet it’s strange how I never connected the beauty of His handiwork with times and seasons. Yet it’s right there in Genesis. On the fourth day He created the lights in the sky for times and seasons.
To be fair, coming from a gentile background, I missed the import of this verse because I didn’t have the insight of Judaism to enlighten me. That’s what is so exciting about this walk! The more we learn from Judaism, the bigger our God gets. And the bigger He is, the more intimate our relationship.
Not long ago, a friend asked if our singles group could gather to celebrate Rosh Chodesh. After seeing the blank look on my face, he explained that it was a time to thank the Lord for the blessings of the past month and pray for the needs of the month ahead. This sounded good, so I agreed.
Now anyone who knows me knows that I seldom do anything half way. So I started digging into Rosh Chodesh. What I discovered about this little known, little observed occasion was huge!
For starters, God instituted this commandment when the Israelites were still slaves in Egypt (Ex 12:1-2). Could this be the start of being set apart as a peculiar people? Think about it. The Egyptians worshiped the sun-god Ra. The Lord told His people to mark their calendars not by the sun, but by the moon.
So what would happen if they couldn’t mark the beginning of the months? How could they celebrate the feasts of the Lord? They couldn’t, which explains why the Greeks forbid them from observing Rosh Chodesh. No Rosh Chodesh, no annual festivals. No annual festivals, no obedience to God.
Now Rosh Chodesh is not a festival listed in Leviticus. So why celebrate? And how should we celebrate? Well, as I dug into this occasion, I found that tradition sets this as a Sabbath for women. And during the synagogue service there are special scriptures read to remember this occasion. They also announce what day Rosh Chodesh will fall on, so that you and your family know when to go outside and honor the Lord.
So as a group, we gather for a shared meal, blessing the Lord for the wine and the bread. We then venture outside to read scripture, join hands in prayer of thanksgiving and petition, and end with songs of praise to our Father who is Creator of all that we see. And it has a lasting effect all month long.
You see, this occasion no longer seems important because we can predict the times and seasons. But I think we’ve lost something very precious. Our Father gave us a date night with Him. He holds out His hand, asking us to join Him in the beauty of His creation, marveling at the splendor of His majesty, and reveling in the comfort of His love. Why would we stand Him up?
And personally, in celebrating the beginning of each new month, I have a new view of the moon and am more aware of its phases. Each night as I gaze up at the sky and see the moon waxing and waning, I realize how quickly time is passing. And I must ask – am I wasting this precious gift of time, or am I following in the steps of my Master, doing the work God has called me to do?