Every New Year, millions of people resolve to change their lives and make a new start. These usually take the form of New Years resolutions such as losing weight, taking more exercise, quitting smoking or
learning a new skill. Unfortunately, by February many of us have forgotten these resolutions and have returned to same old rut which we were previously in, despondent at our lack of willpower. So why not make a change which will be life changing….forever!
The Bible is full of people who did just that. They changed their old life and made a fresh start. Let’s looks at just 3 examples:
Abraham was a wealthy businessman who lived in Ur of the Chaldeees (which is where modern day Iraq is) around 2080BC. God told him to move him and his family to a new part of the world.
“Get out of your country,
From your family
And from your father’s house,
To a land that I will show you.
I will make you a great nation;
I will bless you
And make your name great;
And you shall be a blessing.
I will bless those who bless you,
And I will curse him who curses you;
And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”
Abraham did just this. Well with a promise like that you would wouldn’t you! The thing is the promised which God made wouldn’t be fulfilled in Abrahams life. The nation that descended from Abraham was the Hebrews (or more commonly referred to as the Jews) but the promise extends far beyond just them. It has partially been fulfilled but will only be fully realised in the future, as we will see shortly.
In the book of Exodus we come across Moses. Moses was born a Hebrew but grew up in the palace of the Egyptian Pharaoh in about 1500BC. He never forgot his roots and one day made a decision that would change his life forever. He killed an Egyptian who was abusing a fellow Hebrew (who were by this stage slaves to the Egyptians) and fled the country.
When he was in exile in the neighbouring country of Midian, God spoke to him, just like he spoke to Abraham around 600 years earlier. He said:
I have surely seen the oppression of My people who are in Egypt, and have heard their cry because of their taskmasters, for I know their sorrows. So I have come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians, and to bring them up from that land to a good and large land, to a land flowing with milk and honey, to the place of the Canaanites and the Hittites and the Amorites and the Perizzites and the Hivites and the Jebusites. Now therefore, behold, the cry of the children of Israel has come to Me, and I have also seen the oppression with which the Egyptians oppress them. Come now, therefore, and I will send you to Pharaoh that you may bring My people, the children of Israel, out of Egypt.”
Exodus Ch3: 7-10
So God was continuing the fulfilment of the promise made to Abraham, but wanted Moses personally involved. If you read the rest of the chapter yourself, you will see that Moses was initially reluctant, but eventually came around and was indeed a great leader.
By the time we get to the New Testament (about 50 AD), Jesus, the son of God, has been crucified and raised from the dead. His disciples (the Christians) were being persecuted by the Jewish and Roman (Pagan) authorities. They were trying to quash this new belief. One person who was the most fervent was a man called Saul who was at the execution of one of Jesus’ followers, Stephen:
Now Saul was consenting to his death. At that time a great persecution arose against the church which was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles. 2 And devout men carried Stephen to his burial, and made great lamentation over him. As for Saul, he made havoc of the church, entering every house, and dragging off men and women, committing them to prison.
Even he made a fresh start and an amazing transformation when Jesus himself confronted him as Paul was travelling to Damascus:
Suddenly a light shone around him from heaven. 4 Then he fell to the ground, and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?” And he said, “Who are You, Lord?”
Then the Lord said, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting.[a] It is hard for you to kick against the goads.” So he, trembling and astonished, said, “Lord, what do you want me to do?”
From this point on, Paul became one of the most devout followers of Jesus and the majority of the New Testament is made up of his letters to believers encouraging them on their new lives.
Now it’s important to say that none of the above men had easy lives after they turned to God, but they all knew that they were working towards something greater. It’s worth noting also how initially reluctant some of them were, but they eventually came around to understanding God’s purpose. In fact Paul in his letter to the Hebrews (the Jews who had converted to Christianity) refers to Abraham, Moses and many other Old Testament characters in chapter 11 of the letter, often referred to as the “chapter of faith”.
What applies to these 3 men also applies to us. The great nation that was promised to Abraham extends beyond the Jews tp the believers in Christ who also share the promise of eternal life in God’s Kingdom when Jesus returns to the earth.
So perhaps this New Year instead of just considering changing superficial aspects of our lives such as they way we look or what we know, we should consider making a real fresh start, make a fresh new life, and really start living!