What do New Year’s celebrations and the word “amen” have in common? New Year’s celebrations are recognized and often participated in, all around the world. Likewise, the word “amen”, although of Hebrew origin, is one of the most internationally recognized and spoken words in all the world. That is about as far as the similarity goes.
New Year’s celebrations date back some 4,000 years to ancient Babylon. The Babylonians celebrated the first new moon following the vernal equinox as the beginning of a new year. They combined it with the pagan celebration of Atiku, which commemorated the victory of the Babylonian sky god, Marduk, over the evil sea goddess Tiamat. In most countries, it is a time of revelry with many varied customs, true to its beginnings.
“Amen”, however, is a short, comprehensive and powerful word that has not evolved over time. The Hebrew root, aman, means “firm” or “sure” in the sense of permanency. By implication, it means to be true or faithful. It is used in scripture to affirm truth or to demonstrate that what is said is absolutely true. Christ said, “And to the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write, ‘These things says the Amen, the Faithful and True Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God: “I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot”’ (Revelation 3:14-15). Christ self-identifies as the Amen, the faithful and true witness. He has revealed this name and explained its meaning so that those who were neither cold nor hot might therefore listen and repent! It conveys truth with emphasis.
“Amen” should be spoken from the heart. That is how Israel spoke it on the day that the ark of God was finally brought to Jerusalem to the place that David had prepared for it, after the incident with Uzza. David composed a lengthy song of thanksgiving for the occasion that is enthusiastic throughout. That tenor carried through to the end of it. “Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever. And say, ‘Save us, O God of our salvation; Gather us together, and deliver us from the Gentiles, to give thanks to Your holy name, to triumph in Your praise.’ Blessed be the Lord God of Israel from everlasting to everlasting! And all the people said, ‘Amen!’ and praised the Lord” (1 Chronicles 16:34-36). Those who were there were affirming from the heart that which had been faithfully offered up.
“Amen” is a powerful assent to the word of God. The attitude of “amen!” is what those who are faithful to God’s truth need as we, according to the Gregorian Calendar, leave one year behind and begin another.