——The Lord said to Moses, “Say to the Israelites: ‘On the first day of the seventh month you are to have a day of sabbath rest, a sacred assembly commemorated with trumpet blasts. Do no regular work, but present a food offering to the Lord .’”-Leviticus 23:23-25
With blasts from the shofar, the traditional ram’s horn trumpet, the first of the fall feasts begins the month of Tishri. The Feast of Trumpets, or Yom Teruah, as it was called in ancient times, came to symbolize spiritual beginnings and renewal. In Rabbinical tradition, the holiday became known as Rosh HaShanah, the “head of the year.” A New Year celebration in the seventh calendar month? We can rationalize this by the fact that Tishri is the beginning of the fall harvest season, or we could consider the Jewish significance of the number seven. I like to say, however, that there is no wrong time for a new beginning……….Selah
As with most of the Biblical feasts, the Feast of Trumpets has taken on many different attributes over the past three and a half millennia. The theme of this feast is one of repentance, regathering, and restoration. We can only be made spiritually new by repentance, and by turning from our sinful nature and back toward God. This idea is constantly reinforced throughout the Tanakh; when we see the nations of Israel and Judah conquered and scattered, only to be restored after repenting and turning back to God.
——In that day the Lord will thresh from the flowing Euphrates to the Wadi of Egypt, and you, Israel, will be gathered up one by one. And in that day a great trumpet will sound. Those who were perishing in Assyria and those who were exiled in Egypt will come and worship the Lord on the holy mountain in Jerusalem.-Isaiah 27:12-13
Our own sins can separate us from God’s hedge of protection. Like the ancient Israelites, we can repent and turn from wickedness. God is faithful to his promises of forgiveness and restoration. This is the theme of new beginnings that Rosh Hashanah brings to all believers.
—— Therefore this is what the Lord says:
“If you repent, I will restore you
that you may serve me;
if you utter worthy, not worthless, words,
you will be my spokesman.
Let this people turn to you,
but you must not turn to them. -Jeremiah 15:19
Traditional observance of Rosh HaShanah begins long before the feast day itself. The preceding month of Elul is usually spent in repentance and contemplation of one’s spiritual state. Orthodox men will undergo a ritual immersion, or tevilah mikveh, to symbolically cleanse in preparation of the feasts of Yom Teruah and Yom kippur (ten days later). Often the feast day itself, after the Shabbat service the previous evening, will be spent near a body of water, where people throw rocks into the water to symbolize God’s forgiveness.
——You will again have compassion on us;
you will tread our sins underfoot
and hurl all our iniquities into the depths of the sea.-Micah 7:19
Consider the beginning of Yeshua’s ministry in the book of Matthew, and how it parallels the themes of Rosh HaShanah we’ve discussed. We have a ritual immersion, or tevilah mikveh, in the Jordan (Ch. 3:13), a forty day testing of his spiritual fortitude (Ch.4:1), followed by a message of repentance (Ch.4:17)
——”Then will appear the sign of the Son of Man in heaven. And then all the peoples of the earth will mourn when they see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven, with power and great glory. And he will send his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other.-Matthew 24:30-31
To those of us who are followers of Yeshua, the feast days are rich with Messianic significance. We understand that Jesus’ life and ministry on earth was a fulfillment of Pesach (Passover), Unleavened Bread, and Sfirat Haomer (Firstfruits). The upper room experience of Pentecost was a fulfillment of Shavuot (the Feast of Weeks). We now anticipate the return of our Lord, and, after a long summer season, the fulfillment of the fall feast days. His return will be accompanied by blasts from the Shofar, and the great harvest spoken of by the Prophets will begin.
——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 I prepare to celebrate Rosh HaShanah with my family, I pray that you will also take time to reflect on the meaning of this important holiday. Take stock of your spiritual life, your relationship with God, your family, and your community. Are you prepared for that final trumpet call? Have you sown the proper seeds in your family and community for a plentiful harvest? If the answer to any of these questions is no, time may be getting short.
——Blow the trumpet in Zion;
sound the alarm on my holy hill.
Let all who live in the land tremble,
for the day of the Lord is coming.
It is close at hand.-Joel 2:1
So l’shanah tovah u’metukah, have a great and sweet New Year. It’s always the right time for a new beginning in Jesus the Messiah. Throw a pebble in the lake and rejoice, we serve a God who loves and forgives! Sow seeds of love and forgiveness everywhere you go, this is what it means to be a worker in the field, preparing for the great harvest.
——with trumpets and the blast of the ram’s horn—
shout for joy before the Lord , the King.-Psalm 98:6