Today is the first day of the month Aviv and, according to Exodus 12, this is the first day of the biblical new year.
“Now the Lord spoke to Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt, saying, ‘This month shall be your beginning of months; it shall be the first month of the year to you.’” (Exodus 12:1-2)
Aviv is the month in which we celebrate the Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread. Passover is indicative of a new beginning in our lives because it is the picture of the death, burial and resurrection of the Messiah and our new birth in Him. So, it’s in this spirit that we look at some of the key events that took place on the first of Aviv, the first day of the biblical new year.
Tradition tells us that the Tabernacle was erected on this day coinciding with the consecration of Aaron and his sons into the priesthood. It’s important to note that the purpose of the Tabernacle was not to support the priesthood or allow for sacrifices. Those elements were ordained in order to support the greater purpose of the Tabernacle – the Holy One wished to reside among His people (Exodus 25:8). The priests were to make sure that everything in the Tabernacle was being used and cared for in the exact way that God had instructed. This was very important in order that His presence might continue to dwell in the midst of His people. Also, the priests were to teach the people to distinguish between holy and profane, between clean and unclean, and were to lead the people in how to properly approach the Creator with their offerings. On that note we should also mention that it was on this day that, according to tradition, Nahab and Avihu, the sons of Aaron, were struck down and consumed when they offered profane fire before the Lord.
So the emphasis of the Tabernacle and the pattern it presents to us should not be placed on the priests nor on the offerings, but on the presence of the Holy One. Without His presence, the priests, their garments, all the furnishings and all the offerings meant nothing. It was always intended that those elements were to create an environment conducive to God’s presence remaining among His people.
Knowing that our bodies are considered to be temples of the Holy Spirit, our spiritual “pedigree” matters little. If I were a third-generation denominational heir or if I happened to be born a Cohen (son of Aaron) doesn’t guarantee anything. My theological degree or my rabbinical ordination mean nothing if His presence doesn’t reside within me. Remember the admonition of Paul who said:
“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God. For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith. For as we have many members in one body, but all the members do not have the same function.” (Romans 12:1-4)
To be clear, the priests of God were necessary in order to fulfill the purpose. The offerings were required in order that God’s purpose might be realized but these things were always in support of the greater purpose: that He might dwell among us. Thus we conclude that our obedience to His instructions and Spirit is necessary in order that His presence might continue to reside within me. That obedience, however, must be predicated on our acceptance of the atonement provided by the Messiah. Given that those that are born again are to be a dwelling place for His Spirit, it’s also important to realize that it is our responsibility to present ourselves as a living sacrifice. We, also, are to conduct ourselves as a royal priesthood, distinguishing between clean and unclean, that our lives might be a proper abode for the presence of the Holy One.
May it be that today and everyday, we are that dwelling place that He desires to inhabit that our lives might prosper and bear the fruit of knowing Him.