This month shall be to you the beginning of months: it shall be the first month of the year to you.
The exodus from Egypt was the birthday of the nation of Israel. In commemoration of this great event, the day from which the (religious) year began was changed. The month Abib was thenceforth to be "the beginning of months." The civil year continued to begin with Tisri (cf. Exodus 23:16).
I. REDEMPTION, THE TRUE STARTING-POINT OF HUMAN EXISTENCE. The day when salvation comes to a man's house (Luke 19:9; Acts 16:34) is the true "beginning of days" to him.
1. It is the commencement of a new life. "Born again" (John 3:3); "passed from death into life' (John 5:24); "a new creature" (2 Corinthians 5:17). "The years we spent before we turned to the Lord are not worth counting; the best that can happen to them is to be buried out of sight" (Dr. J. M. Gibson).
2. It is the day of separation from the world. Some think that up to this time the Israelites had used the Egyptian calendar, which began about the time of the summer solstice. "From this time, however, all connection with Egypt was to be broken off, and the commencement of the sacred year was to commemorate the time when Jehovah led them forth to liberty and independence" (Geikie).
3. It is the day which begins the journey to heaven. Redemption is the beginning of the new life: it is, however, but the beginning. The wilderness journey follows it. Conversion is not a resting-place, but a starting-point. It begins, but does not complete, salvation.
II. TIME, A MEMORIALIST OF GOD'S MIGHTY WORKS. Even on so immaterial a thing as time, God has inscribed a memorial of His three greatest works.
1. Creation. He has built into the structure of the week an imperishable record of the six days' work.
2. The Exodus. The order of the year in Israel was made to testify to the deliverance from Egypt.
3. The Christian redemption. The advent of Christ has founded an era. The bitterest enemy of the Gospel is compelled to do it, at least, the involuntary homage of dating his years from the Lord's advent. By his use of the Christian calendar, the infidel testifies unwittingly to the power of the religion which he seeks to overthrow.
III. THE SPHERES OF THE SACRED AND THE CIVIL ARE DISTINCT. One indication of this, even in the polity of Israel, is seen in the fact that the sacred year began in one month, and the civil in another. - J.O.
Parallel VersesKJV: This month shall be unto you the beginning of months: it shall be the first month of the year to you.