L’Shanah Tovah – Happy New Year!

Today begins the Biblical holiday of Rosh Hashanah (Feast of Trumpets).

Speak to the children of Yisra’el, saying, In the seventh month, on the first day of the month, shall be a solemn rest to you, a memorial of blowing of shofars, a holy convocation. (Lev. 23:24)

As Gentile believers, we are not commanded to keep this feast or any other. We are not effecting any sort of spiritual merit by performing rituals of acts of tradition, since the Lord Jesus is our righteousness before the Father. We are not made right with God through anything other than the shed blood of Jesus on the cross for our sins! However, there are many things the Christian can learn from the Jewish observances. They can deepen our understanding and walk as talmidim (disciples) of the Messiah Yeshua (Jesus). Celebrating the Feast of Trumpets can help us in the following ways:
First, the month of Elul and the preparation for Rosh Hashanah reminds us to be ready for the soon appearance of Yeshua, our Lord. Though we do not know the exact day or hour of His return to possess His kingdom on earth, we are commanded to watch and be ready for His soon appearance. We ought, therefore, be in a constant state of repentance as we seek to humble ourselves and walk with our Lord.

Second, Rosh Hashanah itself–or rather the Days of Awe–has prophetic significance in the life of the Christian. The blowing of the shofar is prophetic of the rapture of the church, where those who are part of the Bride of Messiah, the church, will experience everlasting transformation:

Look, I will tell you a secret–not all of us will die! But we will all be changed! It will take but a moment, the blink of an eye, at the final shofar. For the shofar will sound, and the dead will be raised to live forever, and we too will be changed. (1 Cor. 15:51, The Complete Jewish Bible)

Third, the Tashlikh (casting away) ceremony reminds us that our Lord is a God of new beginnings, and even if we have sinned and fallen away from Him, He is faithful to restore us and cast our sins away from us. (After all, God sent His only Son Yeshua to be our Sin-Bearer and Substitute, so we can take comfort in His forgiveness when we earnestly seek to repent from the harm we have done and begin anew with God.

Fourth, we should be grateful to the Lord for writing our names in the Lamb’s Book of Life. Of course, we do not believe that we are made acceptable in the Lord’s eyes by means of our own works of righteousness (Titus 3:5-6), but that does not excuse us from being without such works (as fruit of the Holy Spirit in our daily life).

Finally, we anticipate the prophetic fulfillment of the Lord’s covenant faithfulness to Israel when we understand that the Days of Awe foreshadow the future repentance of national Israel in the days to come. Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement) is the Holiday that pictures the full restoration of Israel to all her covenant promises and Yeshua will be revealed as Israel’s Savior, Lord, and Deliverer.

FEAST OF TRUMPETS

God named the other holidays, Sabbath, Passover, Day of Atonement, etc.; however, the Feast of Trumpets holiday has no name. It’s simply referred to as the day of the sounding of the shofar (Yom Teruah), so it became known as the Feast of Trumpets, a special day calling attention to the coming holy day—the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur). A shofar (ram’s horn) is blown during the Feast of Trumpets service. Leviticus 23 calls the blowing of trumpets a memorial but does not say what it is a memorial of. Many believe it is a memorial of God’s grace to Abraham when He substituted a ram to be sacrificed instead of Isaac (Gen. 22). It is also regarded as a memorial of the creation of the world, at which the sons of God shouted for joy (Job 38:7). This holiday was the new year’s day, on which the people rejoiced in a grateful remembrance of God’s benefits and implored His blessing for the future year.

The Feast of Trumpets and Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur) are the holiest days of the Jewish year. This season is a time for looking inward to spiritual growth. The themes surrounding this holiday include:

New Year

The Feast of Trumpets is the Jewish New Year. There is little resemblance between the Feast of Trumpets, one of the holiest days of the year, and a typical New Year’s Eve midnight drinking party. It is a celebration of the earth’s physical birthday on Tishri 1, the seventh month of the religious calendar, the first month of the civil calendar. It is the first of the fall holidays and usually occurs in September.

Judaism has several different new years. This is similar to the calendar year starting in January, the new school year starting in September, and many businesses starting fiscal years in July and September. In Judaism, Nisan 1 is the new year for the purpose of counting the reign of kings and months on the calendar. Regardless when the king became ruler, the coronation was on Tishri 1. Elul 1 (in August) is the new year for the tithing of animals. Shevat 15 (in February) is the new year for trees (determining when first fruits can be eaten, etc.), and Tishri 1, the Feast of Trumpets (Rosh Hashanah) is the new year for years.

Coronation Day

Another theme of this holiday is God’s royalty. The Jewish liturgical tradition has preserved tunes for many of the prayers that aptly accompany what the Chassidim called “Coronation Day.” The shofar, in this light, announces God’s Kingship: With trumpets and sound of cornet [shofar] make a joyful noise before the LORD, the King (Ps. 98:6). Through repentance we become God’s subjects. It is said that the day that God manifests His Royalty, the day He created His world, is also naturally the day He sits in judgment. Coronation Day is a joyous day and world celebration.

Judgment Day

The history of the Feast of Trumpets as a “Day of Judgment” is from the legend that God sits in judgment between the New Year and the Day of Atonement over mankind to determine fates for the coming year. This symbolism is drawn upon to great effect by the authors of the liturgical poems written to heighten the prayers of the season. The sages say that destiny — whether financial, physical, or other– is pre-ordained on one day each year for the entire duration of that year (Talmud Rosh Hashanah).

It is said that on this day God has three books that are opened. Those who have returned to God are written in the Book of Righteousness. All other people are divided into two groups. The first is the wholly wicked whose names are written in the Book of the Wholly Wicked. The other group are considered intermediates. They are people who have not been judged and have ten more days to repent. If they repent by the Day of Atonement their names will be written in the Book of Righteousness. Hosea 14:1-9 expresses this theme.

The sages of the Jerusalem Talmud (Rosh Hashanah 1:3) say, “Normally, someone standing in judgment would dress somberly, cloaking himself in black robes and not trim his beard. After all, he does not know how it will turn out. Israel is different, though. We dress in white and cloak ourselves in white and trim our beards and eat and drink and are joyous for we know that God will do miracles for us. Being judged by God is at once an awesome thing — He knows all — but He is a merciful God. Even judgment itself need not be devoid of joy (Talmud Rosh Hashanah 1:3).

Remembrance

The theme of “remembered” is thought to be from God remembering Sarah and Hannah. A Talmudic dictum (Rosh Hashanah 10b) says that on Yom Teruah, Sarah, Rachel, and Hannah were “remembered.”

Birthday of the World

Jewish tradition believes this day is the birthday of the world because the first part of Genesis, Bereishit, “in the beginning,” when changed around, read Aleph b’ Tishri, or “on the first of Tishri.” Therefore the Feast of Trumpets is known as the birthday of the world (Adapted Chumney 1994).

Perhaps Peter was thinking of the Fall Holidays when he wrote 2 Peter 3 because it contains all the themes contained within this season:

Dear friends, I am writing you now this second letter; and in both letters I am trying to arouse you to wholesome thinking by means of reminders; so that you will keep in mind the predictions of the holy prophets and the command given by the Lord and Deliverer through your emissaries.

First, understand this: during the Last Days, scoffers will come, following their own desires and asking, “Where is this promised ‘coming’ of his? For our fathers have died, and everything goes on just as it has since the beginning of creation.” But, wanting so much to be right about this, they overlook the fact that it was by God’s Word that long ago there were heavens, and there was land which arose out of water and existed between the waters, and that by means of these things the world of that time was flooded with water and destroyed. It is by that same Word that the present heavens and earth, having been preserved, are being kept for fire until the Day of Judgment, when ungodly people will be destroyed.

Moreover, dear friends, do not ignore this: with the Lord, one day is like a thousand years and a thousand years like one day. The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some people think of slowness; on the contrary, he is patient with you; for it is not his purpose that anyone should be destroyed, but that everyone should turn from his sins. However, the Day of the Lord will come “like a thief.” On that Day the heavens will disappear with a roar, the elements will melt and disintegrate, and the earth and everything in it will be burned up.

Since everything is going to be destroyed like this, what kind of people should you be? You should lead holy and godly lives, as you wait for the Day of God and work to hasten its coming. That Day will bring on the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt from the heat; but we, following along with his promise, wait for new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness will be at home. Therefore, dear friends, as you look for these things, do everything you can to be found by him without spot or defect and at peace. And think of our Lord’s patience as deliverance, just as our dear brother Sha’ul [Paul] also wrote you, following the wisdom God gave him. Indeed, he speaks about these things in all his letters. They contain some things that are hard to understand, things which the uninstructed and unstable distort, to their own destruction, as they do the other Scriptures.

But you, dear friends, since you know this in advance, guard yourselves; so that you will not be led away by the errors of the wicked and fall from your own secure position. And keep growing in grace and knowledge of our Lord and Deliverer, Yeshua the Messiah. To him be the glory, both now and forever! Amen. (The Complete Jewish Bible)

Shofar

The shofar (trumpet) was the signal for the field workers to come into the Temple. On the day of the Feast of Trumpets, the high priest actually stood on the southwestern parapet of the Temple and blew the shofar so it could be heard in the surrounding fields. At that instant the faithful would stop harvesting, even if there were more crops to bring in, and leave immediately for worship service in the Temple. This is prophetic of the rapture when, at the sound of the shofar, the spiritual harvest will be over and believers will ascend up into heaven.

For the Lord himself will come down from heaven with a rousing cry, with a call from one of the ruling angels, and with God’s shofar, those who died united with the Messiah will be the first to rise; then we who are left still alive will be caught up with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air; and thus we will always be with the Lord. (1 Thess. 4:16-17, The Complete Jewish Bible)

This morning, EJ, JJ, and I ate the symbolic foods and said the blessings as we remembered the meanings of this day. We thanked God that through Jesus sacrifice for us we are written in the Book of Life, we thanked Him for His sustenance and care for us, we asked for protection from enemies, and we prayed as we dipped an apple into honey that the coming year would be filled with sweetness. We have been filled with anticipation at the coming of Jesus–may it be soon.

This is a wonderfully joyous Rosh Hashanah song that I have been enjoying. As I watch the joy of this video, I anticipate the joy that we will have when we finally see Jesus face to face.

L’Shanah Tovah in Messiah!! ♥ (Happy New Year in Messiah!)

 

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