On February 19 the Chinese and many other Asian peoples will celebrate the beginning of a new year on their ancient calendar.
Like the Israelites and many other ancient cultures, the Chinese use a lunar calendar based on the phases of the moon, with the dark new moon constituting the first day of the month. Since twelve lunar months is 11 days short of the solar year, there is a 19 year cycle of 7 years with 13 Lunar months for each 12 years of 12 Lunar months which keeps lunar and solar years in sync. Unlike other cultures which, like us, start our new year near the winter solstice in December or, like the ancient Israelites, near the spring equinox in March, the Chinese located their new year so that the winter solstice would be in the middle of their winter and the spring equinox in the middle of their spring. Thus, the second lunar month after the winter solstice begins their year.
The Chinese new year says a lot about the Chinese, who have always wanted to maintain their distinctiveness. Thus, while their historical records trace back to the Middle East like all humans, they chose neither the Egyptian winter solstice not the Babylonian spring equinox to start their year. Their early writing bears some striking similarities to Egyptian hieroglyphs and Babylonian cuneiform, but has diverged significantly from western writing systems since. Their lunar zodiac has also diverged somewhat from ancient Middle Eastern Zodiacs, although about 75% of the Star Bible message remains intact. Their religious traditions of emperor worship and ancestor worship also reflect distinctive Chinese elements even though they trace back to Babylon.
The Chinese carried forward the ancient knowledge of the Father God in the name of Shang Ti, “Emperor of Heaven”, which is linguistically equivalent to Hebrew “God Almighty” El Shaddai or Egyptian “Incomprehensible God” Shetai. Chinese pictographic writing preserves many elements of early Biblical history, as in the picture of “Ancestor” being made from pictures of “God”, “Two Persons”, and “Ground”, (i.e. Adam and Eve) or the word “Boat” being composed of “Vessel”, “Eight”, and “Mouth” (i.e. the 8 on Noah’s Ark). Sadly, this ancient knowledge of God was lost as pagan religion and emperor worship took its distinctive Chinese course.
Today many Chinese Christians are unearthing their Godly heritage, which has been hidden for centuries, in such books as Faith of our Fathers by Chan Kei Thong. And the Chinese cultural desire for distinctiveness been turned back to its Godly purpose as it has produced a vibrant and distinctively Chinese church.
This Chinese new year let us pray for the distinctive Chinese Christian Church and the rediscovery of their ancient Godly heritage.