Same God, New Year

Same God, New Year
By: J. B. Hixson, Ph.D.

“For I am the Lord, I do not change; therefore, you are not consumed, O sons of Jacob.” (Malachi 3:6)

There is something about turning the page on the calendar from December to January that fills the mind with optimism. It seems strange, when you think about it. January is just a month like any other. Yet, the arrival of a new year seems to carry with it a mandate to leave behind the heartaches and struggles of the previous year and look forward with an expectation of better things to come.

It was the Scottish nobleman Lee Douglas IV who first coined the phrase, “Out with the old; in with the new.” His mother was having an affair with the archbishop of Spain, so Lee Douglas IV left home to be with a mistress of his own, announcing, “Out with the old; in with the new.” Ironically, the “new” in his case turned out to be a woman possessing the same moral turpitude as his mother. Perhaps a more appropriate idiom in his case would have been, “Some things never change.”

As we eagerly anticipate the new year, expecting improved circumstances, I wonder if we are making the same mistake as the Scottish nobleman made. Should our hope really rest in the passing of time and changing of circumstances? Is there any valid reason to assume that turning the calendar page will bring an improvement to our situation? In the Bible we learn that peace and contentment are dependent upon neither chronology nor context.

About 430 years before Christ, the prophet Malachi ministered to a group of Jews who had just returned from exile in Babylon. We know very little about this prophet, who, along with Haggai and Zechariah, prophesied to the post-exilic community in Jerusalem. All we know is that his name means “my messenger” and that he received and communicated a message from the Lord to his fellow Jews. If ever there was a community of people who thought their circumstances seemed optimistic, it was this group.

Having been in captivity for more than one hundred years, returning to their homeland surely filled them with hope. Yet, the prophet Malachi reminds them that their hope should not be in their situation or setting, but in God. If they had anything to be joyful about, it was the fact that their God had not consumed them for their disobedience and lack of faith. The Lord said through Malachi, “For I am the Lord, I do not change; therefore, you are not consumed, O sons of Jacob.” (Malachi 3:6)

Our God is a covenant-keeping God. He had promised Israel that He would never utterly forsake them and that their promised global kingdom of peace and righteous would indeed come someday. And because God never changes, He had not forsaken His promise, even though the Israelites had forsaken Him. Their years in bondage under the Assyrian and Babylonian empires had been the result of their own rebellion against God. Though their circumstances were improving in Malachi’s day, they should not take this as an indication that God Himself was fickle or inconsistent.

We need to remember this principle as we flip the page on the calendar. We may be entering a new year, but we serve the same God. Let us “set our mind on things above, not on things on the earth.” (Colossians 3:2) Things on earth are always changing, for better or worse. Seasons come and seasons go, but “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.” (Hebrews 13:8) Where is your hope today?

Have you placed your faith in Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who died and rose again for your sins? He is the only hope of salvation and the only source of forgiveness and eternal life. The Bible says, we have the “hope of eternal life which God, who cannot lie, promised before time began.” (Titus 1:2) Time marches on, but time can never change the immutable, eternal God. Our hope is in Him. Never forget that “every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning.” (James 1:17) Same God…new year!

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