Already the words are repeated to each other: “Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.” (I am writing this in mid-December.) Happy New Year! What does man mean? What do we really mean when we say it? Are we thinking of what we speak? Or do we simply adopt a traditional expression—because everyone else uses it? What is the expression? Is it a wish? Do we wish really that everyone to whom we speak does have a happy new year? And what sort of a happy new year do we wish each to have? Do we wish that one have a happy new year in the sense that he will have no major problems during the new year, that he has no sickness, that he is prosperous? Is this what we mean when we wish each other a happy new year? Or do we perhaps think that if we say “Happy new year” often enough, then we will surely have one?
Happy New Year—really? What will be happy about it? Will perchance the world situation improve so that this world will become a more pleasant place in which to live? Statistics not only, but especially the Word of God emphasizes that this will not be. Wars continue. Man speaks of peace. He engages in strife, violence, revolution—to emphasize his desire for peace. But wars continue. Is 1970 going to be any better than 1969.
The crime rate continues to increase. Each year the statistics indicate that it is worse than the year before. What makes us think that 1970 will be “happier” in this respect than the year before? Who will be happy under the constant threat of robbery, injury, murder and all forms of violence?
World problems continue. Constant cries are made about impending famine within the next ten years (maybe in 1970?). Over-population seems to be a great worry of man. Soon there will be not enough room for all the people. There is such a degree of air and water pollution that those who do live on the earth may soon be poisoned to death. Then you dare say, “Happy New Year”? What will be so happy about it?
The situation within the churches of the world is equally grievous. There is evidence of gross apostasy on every hand. Men freely now deny the infallibility of Scripture. Nor is this limited to churches outside of the Reformed circles. The atonement of Christ is distorted or denied. The Trinity is questioned. Heaven and hell do not exist as far as some are concerned. A social gospel is proclaimed—and especially the idealistic young are impressed by this. The trend continues toward mergers under the cry of “ecumenism”. Those who love the truths of Scripture grow ever smaller in number. And you say, “Happy New Year”? Do you think this trend will change in 1970? Do you think that there will be a greater love for the truth in this new decade? Yet you say, “Happy New Year”?
And what are your personal prospects for 1970? Young people, especially, can look for good health; they are filled with dreams concerning the future. But God has not given a guarantee to any one of you that you will live through 1970—that you will not spend long days and months in the hospital. But worse, temptations about you increase. The world ever more presses in upon the church—especially upon its youthful members. Young people are particularly quick to imitate even the world. The temptations to be as like the world as possible are great. In dress I sometimes observe little or no difference between the church and the world. In the realm of entertainment, the world has managed to seduce many to enjoy that which it produces—for it can introduce this directly into our homes. We rather flippantly and jokingly speak of “nude looks”, but is this trend not frightening? There is open violation of the laws of God—and it does not even seem to bother the members of the church too greatly anymore. Rather, we want to defend our right to do as we please; to live as like the world as possible; to enjoy those same things which the world enjoys. This whole situation will grow worse in 1970. Do I dare, then, wish you a “happy new year”? I wonder how happy it can be under these circumstances. One would be inclined to crawl into a dark corner and weep because of the Sinful Seventies which have come upon the world and the church. What, do you think, will be happy about these?
But I do not want to be only pessimistic. I do wish you a happy new year. There is room for such a wish, for such a prayer. But this wish or prayer cannot be a desire that you will prosper materially, that the world improves, that utopia will be established on this earth. This won’t happen. But children of God can expect a happy new year. It will be happy from many spiritual viewpoints.
You, faithful children of God, will have a happy new year because God promises in His Word that we will not stand alone. Trials and tribulations there will be. But His Word assures us of grace sufficient for every need. His Word testifies that nothing can happen to us by chance or accident, but that on the contrary all things will work together for our good. God’s Word assures us that He Who hath begun a good work in you will also complete it. Happy is that man whose God is the Lord—such an one will have a happy new year indeed.
Happy new year it will be, too, because the signs all point to the fact that our Lord Jesus Christ will soon return. The very things which seem so deplorable to man, are signs which point to Christ’s return. Wars and rumors of wars, earthquake and pestilence, apostasy—these all remind us of the nearness of the end of this dark age. More is yet to come. Persecution will increase. It will become ever more difficult to find jobs—and maintain God’s Word at the same time. One’s life might be threatened. Imprisonment might become commonplace for Christians. Temptations will become more subtle. Before long, the kingdom of the antichrist will be established. Man will succeed for a short time in uniting nations and churches. The beasts of Rev. 13 will be seen in all of their awfulness. But shortly after all these things take place, our Lord shall return on the clouds of glory. A happy new year it is as one sees through that year the definite unfolding of all the plan and purpose of our Sovereign God. It is a happy new year which brings us one year closer to the return of Christ. It is a happy new year—not so much because of what happens in it, but because it will serve God’s purpose of bringing in something far better.
And each new year does serve as a little reminder of the new age which shall be ushered in. We know not all of its beauty. We can only try to imagine some of its glory. Jesus will be there. Sin will be gone. We shall be able to praise our God with our whole being and with all that we have. There will be no more curse. But the glory of God shall shine as the sun. That will be a happy new “year” indeed. We must be looking for that.
So—happy new year, young people!
Originally Published in:
Vol. 29 No. 9 January 1970