High & Holy
I feel it is important to send this week's post early because this evening, Sunday, September 9th at sunset, the Jewish High Holy Day of Rosh Hashanah רֹאשׁ הַשָּׁנָה begins. The two-day celebration continues until sundown Monday, September 11th. Rosh Hashanah represents new beginnings and sweet blessings.
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 NIV
Rosh Hashanah occurs during the seventh month of the Jewish calendar, Tishrei, which is during September in our Gregorian calendar. Rosh Hashanah is called by many names because Scripture does not give it a specific name. It is considered one of the High Holy Day and part of the Days of Awe acknowledging the reverence of Elohim. Other common names refer to it as the Jewish New Year, Festival of Trumpets and Head of the Year. The last two names I believe are the most descriptive and help differentiate it from our noisy, indulgent January New Year celebrations leading to personal resolutions. Rosh Hashanah calls believers to consider the previous year in view of their relationship with God and others. Charity and time spent in prayer are the focus for the two days.
Shout for joy to the LORD, all the earth, burst into jubilant song with music; make music to the LORD with the harp, with the harp and the sound of singing, with trumpets and the blast of the ram’s horn— shout for joy before the LORD, the King. Psalm 98:4-6 NIV
Rosh Hashanah, beginning on the first day of the Seventh month, was viewed as a sabbath commemorating the creation of the world and man. It was on the seventh day that God rested from His work creating the world, thus Rosh Hashanah is a time of rest, holy to the LORD. Rosh Hashanah is also a time of celebration, joy and remembering the goodness of the LORD with meals that include tasty cakes, apples and honey.
Scholars have suggested this day may have also been celebrated in ancient Israel as a divine coronation day, the time of God’s assumption of the kingship over the nation of Israel. This providing a reasonable explanation for it being called the Head of the Year since Christ is the Head of the Church (Ephesians 5:23) from the lineage of King David and the tribe of Judah.
Another point that I believe to be true, is represented in the name The Festival of Trumpets. Each year the two-day celebration focuses our attention on the blowing of the shofar (click link to listen). Christ told us that we needed to know the signs for His return.
“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...Now learn this lesson...when you see all these things, you know that it is near, right at the door." Matthew 24:30-33 NIV
Rosh Hashanah is the festival that celebrates the blowing of the trumpet and Christ as the Head of the Church, so what better day would Christ return for His elect, but on that day! We know that Christ is the Passover lamb which is celebrated in the first month of the Jewish calendar. The Holy Spirit was given to the disciples on the next Appointed Day, Pentecost or Shavuot, fifty days later. Next is Rosh Hashanah followed by Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement (which we will discuss next week). Our redemption purchased through Christ's crucifixion and resurrection followed by the arrival of the Holy Spirit precede His victorious return announced by the blasts of the trumpets. Much to consider.
The angel of the LORD encamps around those who fear him, and he delivers them.
Taste and see that the LORD is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in him.
Fear the LORD, you his holy people, for those who fear him lack nothing. Psalm 24 7-9 NIV
This weekend, slice an apple, dip it in honey and proclaim the goodness of the LORD. Spend some quiet time in prayer seeking our Adonai's heart and meditating on His immeasurable love for you. Consider with anticipation the second coming of our LORD. Perhaps one Rosh Hashanah we will see the heavens part and hear the blowing of the shofar as He returns for His elect.
You can learn more about Rosh Hashanah at Chabad.org.
We beseech You, Holy God, King of the Universe, grant us a healthy and sweet Rosh Hashanah. We humbly request that You draw us near to Your heart during this New Year. Help us demonstrate kindness and generosity to those around us, transforming us as we touch our world for Your glory. Teach us the sweetness of obedience to Your will and train our ears to listen for Your shofar during this Festival of Trumpets. As we submit our lives and hopes to the Lordship of our Savior, Jesus Christ, my we learn to celebrate the Head of the Year as we cooperate with Your plans to touch our world for Your glory and honor. Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed, for Your compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness. Amen.