The LORD said to Moses, “Say to the Israelites” ‘On the first day of the seventh month you are to have a day of rest, a sacred assembly commemorated with trumpet blasts. Do no regular work, but present an offering made to the LORD by fire.’” (Leviticus 23:23). Thus were the Jewish people commanded to begin the holiday of Rosh Hashanah – with a trumpet blast, a day of rest, and a time of feasting.
Rosh Hashanah begins Wednesday at sundown. The Bible calls it the Feast of Trumpets because of the trumpet blasts that accompany the holiday (Leviticus 23:23-25). It is also known as the Jewish New Year or the Days of Awe, and is the beginning of the Jewish High Holy Days and the Ten Days of Repentance. These are the days between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, which in 2017 starts at sundown on September 29th. Rosh Hashanah is celebrated for two days and marks the anniversary of the creation of the world and man (Adam and Eve).
Rosh Hashanah is celebrated in early fall on the first day of the month of Tishri on the Jewish calendar, which falls in September or October. Amazingly, calculating the date of Rosh Hashanah is even more complicated than calculating the date of Easter! It occurs 163 days after the beginning of Passover, which begins on the fifteenth day of the month of Nisan, which itself begins on the night of the full moon after the northern vernal equinox. Despite this gauntlet of mathematics and astronomy, it always falls on the same day – the first day of Tishri. A quick search engine query for Tishri reveals the date easily.
The Ten Days of Repentance symbolize God’s call for His people to gather together and to repent from their sins. During traditional Rosh Hashanah synagogue services, the trumpet sounds 100 times. The trumpet used is actually a shofar, which is a hollowed-out ram’s horn. Such trumpets have been used by the Israelites and Jewish people since before the time of Moses. A blast on the shofar can be heard far and wide.
Figuratively speaking, repentance is a blast of Holiness. Repentance means a sincere turning away, both in mind and spirit, from self to God. This requires us to recognize how our sin is offensive to God, the One who commands us to be Holy, just as He is Holy (Leviticus 11:44-45, 19:2, 20:7).
We are called to repent in both the Old and New Testaments: “Therefore, O house of Israel, I will judge you, each one according to his ways, declares the Sovereign LORD. Repent! Turn away from all your offenses; then sin will not be your downfall”; and, “The time has come,” Jesus said. “The kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the good news!” Repentance is a crucial part of our salvation through Jesus Christ, because there is no salvation without repentance from sin (2 Corinthians 7:10). John the Baptist called for repentance even before Jesus started His ministry (Matthew 3:1-3, Isaiah 40:3). Repentance is as much a part of receiving Jesus Christ as it was for receiving the Law.
Jewish tradition tells how, during the High Holy Days, God opens the Book of Life and studies the words, actions, and thoughts of every person whose name He has written there. If a person’s good deeds outweigh or outnumber their sinful acts, his or her name will remain inscribed in the Book of Life for another year. In contrast, as Christians we recognize the permanent solution God put in place for the world: Those who accept Jesus Christ as LORD and Savior will have their name written eternally in the Book of Life; those who reject Him are doomed when the Final Judgment comes (Revelation 20:15). Scripture also records how the Book of Life belongs to the Lamb, Jesus Christ (Revelation 21:27).
Moreover, Christians await a single, final Day of Awe and trumpet blasts when Jesus Christ returns. “For the LORD Himself will come down from Heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first.” (1 Thessalonians 4:16). As Scripture tells us, it’s a blast of the trumpet heard worldwide that signals the Second Coming of our LORD Jesus Christ. That will be a Day of Awe as no other.
As the Apostle Paul reveals in Colossians 2:16-17, the Jewish feasts and celebrations were but a shadow of the glorious things to come through Jesus Christ: “Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath Day. These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ.” Pray for God to open the eyes and ears of the Jewish people so they may see and hear the Good News of Jesus Christ (Isaiah 6:9-10, Luke 8:10).
It is normal to want to understand the history behind the grace and salvation we receive through Jesus Christ. He celebrated Rosh Hashanah every year, showing us how there is blessing in both the Old and New covenants. We lose opportunities to draw closer to God when we ignore Christ’s history. The New Covenant does not demand celebration of Jewish holidays, but neither does it restrict us from their blessings (Colossians 2:16).
When we unlock the Old Testament meanings and significance of each of the Jewish holidays, we gain a greater knowledge of God’s Word and an improved understanding of the Bible. We are also enlightened by the power of the Holy Spirit so we may come to enjoy on Earth a deeper and richer relationship with God. Our eternal reward through Jesus Christ is never-ending fellowship with God – It’s a blast!
“I’m Normal.” – I AM
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In His love and service,
A servant of Jesus Christ
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