Message Preached by Rev Timothy Tow
to Muar, Rawang, Kelapa Sawit
Originally Published in Weekly of Life BPC,
31st January 1982
Abridged by Pastor Clement Chew

Chinese New Year is celebrated by the Chinese people more
enthusiastically than Christmas is by the rest of the world. Just look at
Malaysia and Singapore! When we went to eat at the roadside stalls
(many eating houses were closed) in Muar as Chinese New Year’s Eve
was approaching, we could see mountains of Chinese New Year cakes
and other foods bought and sold in a last minute rush. On such a festive
occasion as this, I cannot help but speak to you on the similarities
between Chinese New Year and the Hebrews’ “New Year” in Exodus 12
from which we can draw many truths for our salvation and admonition.

Chinese New Year is an annual holiday with the Chinese people, but like
many other holidays it began as a Holy Day. In the dawn of Chinese
history, religion was practised in a purer form. For example, sheep was
sacrificed, but today it is the pig! Our ancestors celebrated Chinese New
Year and other festivals according to the seasons, first of all, to return
thanks to “Heaven”. But today, it is rather the filling of the abdomen.
Nevertheless, by comparing the rites of Chinese New Year with the
Hebrew New Year, which is the Feast of the Passover and Unleavened
Bread, we shall draw many lessons for our Christian Faith. The Passover
was commanded to be observed by Moses in Exodus 12:2, “This month
shall be unto you the beginning of months: it shall be the first month of
the year to you.

Now what are the similarities between Chinese New Year and the
Hebrews’ Passover? And what are the contrasts? At Chinese New Year,
we have an abundance of protein foods. Chicken, pork, waxed ducks and
sausages, fishcakes, and sweetmeats of all sorts. Behind all this eating,
there are sacrificial animals killed. At the wet markets, you will see the
display of two well-shaven pigs, each with an orange in its mouth. These
were offered to the gods.

In the Hebrew Passover, it is the killing of the one-year old male Lamb.
Do you know that this lamb is slain to foreshadow the death of Christ to
deliver us from the oppression of Satan, from death and from hell? Paul
says, “For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us” (1 Cor. 5:7).
And the whole family must eat this lamb. As you eat a lot of delicious
foods this Chinese New Year, think of the Passover lamb. Do you also
eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink His blood? (John 6:53) Do you
eat with your sons and daughters and other members of the family? Is
your whole household saved? Have you made the most important New
Year resolution – to seek the salvation of that lost son or daughter? Your
unsaved father or mother? Husband or wife?

At Chinese New Year, we see red paper strips with auspicious words
written with a Chinese brush pasted on the door posts and above the
doorway. The Hebrews, however, had their doorway reddened with the
blood of the Passover Lamb. It was the application of this blood that
guaranteed protection to the inmates from the angel of death. The angel
of death killed every firstborn Egyptian who lived in houses not daubed
with the Lamb’s blood. To profess oneself a Christian is not enough. Do
you know your heart has been sprinkled with the blood of Christ? Do you
know that Christ’s blood has cleansed you from sin? Are your sins
forgiven? As the children of Israel were about to set out for the Promised
Land, do you know you are now on your way to Heaven?

At Chinese New Year, it is the custom to spring clean. Out goes
mountains of rubbish and old lumber. The house is thoroughly washed
up. All debts are paid. New clothes for a new life of success over last
year’s failure are worn. The idea is to get rid of the bad times and an even
fate. This is a ritual that reminds us of the casting out of leaven in the
Hebrew house. So the Passover must be kept with the eating of seven
days of unleavened bread. The New Year should bring newness of life.

But how can we enjoy the newness of life unless the old sins are purged?
Paul says, “Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither
with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened
bread of sincerity and truth.” (1 Cor. 5:8) Are we still at odds with God
and with our brothers and sisters in the Church? Do you say “hello” to
one another with brotherly kindness? Or do we plot in our heart evil
against someone? Do you point a finger at this one or that behind
another’s back? Let us at Chinese New Year forgive one another and
keep it with the unleavened bread of “sincerity and truth”. Let members
make up with one another now, if you had not done it last Christmas!

At Chinese New Year, we present our friends and elders with sweet
Chinese oranges. At the Passover, the Hebrews, however, had to eat bitter
herbs. What a contrast! In the midst of sweetness, let us be reminded of
bitterness. It is good for us, during this vacation to reflect on the sterner
facts of life. The Hebrews were reminded of their hard times in Egypt. I
am sure, as they ate the bitter herbs, like Chinese eating bitter gourds, they
were reminded of their humble estate. Thus, it will do us well at Chinese
New Year to resolve to go through life with Christ in His death. Come
what may, we will serve the Lord to the bitter end.

Now we all have the means to celebrate Chinese New Year richly and
sumptuously. The day may come when we cannot. Hard times can come
any day. Judgment on the world is at hand. Let us be prepared to go
through life’s sufferings without wavering in our service for the Lord.
How we pray for the dropouts in our Churches!

Last but not least, is the Angpow! Chinese New Year cannot be so merry
without the angpow. So you trade angpows merrily with one another,
hoping to make more this year over last year. Then you hoard all of them
in the bank. In the Passover Feast, God has laid down a precept – “none
shall appear before me empty” (Exo. 23:15). The Hebrews must bring on
top of the feast an offering. How about you? Do you bring an angpow for
the Lord? Begin with one-tenth of all your receipts. When you give, give
to Him lovingly, worshipfully. Do not say “Gone with the Tithe”!

Pastor’s note:
My prayer for all brethren is that you may prosper and be in health, even
as your soul does prosper (3 John 2). May we use the health which the
Lord gives to us to glorify Christ’s name.