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Messiah in the Feast of Rosh Hashanah

Ron Elkin
Ammi Ministry

God chose to make the major events of Christianity coincide with the Feasts of Israel. This is because these Feasts, given 1,500 years before the birth of Jesus, are prophetic pictures of the past, present, and future ministries of Jesus/Yeshua our Lord and Messiah.

The Spring Feasts

Four of the seven Levitical feasts occur in the Spring.

PASSOVER. Jesus died on the Passover. His blood on the cross is the same design as the lamb's blood on the door in Exod. 12. His blood like the lamb's blood protects all who apply it from the wrath of God.

UNLEAVENED BREAD. Leaven is a symbol for sin in the Old and New Testaments. The bread of the Passover had to be unleavened, and Jesus used this bread to represent his body when he initiated communion. See Matthew 26:26.

FIRST FRUITS. See Leviticus 23:9-14. This was a day to give God the glory for the approaching harvest. A part of the new harvest was waved before God as a Thanksgiving offering. God choose for Jesus to rise from the dead on this day. In 1 Cor. 15:20-23 Christ is called the "first fruits" of those who will be raised from the dead. He represents the future resurrection (harvest) and salvation of all who trust and believe in Him. He is the beginning of the harvest of the Church.

PENTECOST. See Leviticus 23:15-22. God told Israel to count fifty days from First Fruits and to have another ingathering feast. They were to make two loaves of bread with leaven (one of the only offerings where leaven is allowed) and to wave them before the Holy of Holies. Again this was a Thanksgiving offering for the Spring wheat harvest (during first fruits, barley was harvested). It was on this day that Moses received the Law of God, Israel rebelled, and 3000 men were slain by the Levites because of their false worship of the Golden Calf (see Exodus 32). It was also on this day that God’s Spirit fell on the disciples of Jesus in the upper room. Peter under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit preached the word and 3,000 souls were saved. "The Law came through Moses, but grace and truth through Jesus Christ" (John 1:17). The "letter of the law" brings death, but Jesus brings life. The two loaves of bread represent the two tablets of the Ten Commandments, which are for both sinners and the church, which in turn is made up of sinful Jews and Gentiles.

The Fall Feasts

The remaining three Levitical feasts are Fall feasts and occur in the month of Tishri. The first two, Rosh Hashanah (Head of the Year) and Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement) are the most somber of all seven holidays, while the last of the feasts, Succoth (Feast of Tabernacles or Feast of Booths), is the most joyful of all.

Introduction to Rosh Hashanah

In the seventh month on the first of the month, you shall have a rest, a reminder by the blowing of trumpets, a holy convocation" (Lev. 23:24).

The name "Rosh Hashanah" is not used in the Bible to discuss this holiday. The Bible refers to the holiday as Yom Ha-Zikkaron (the day of remembrance) or Yom Teruah (the day of the sounding of the shofar). This is seen as the Jewish New Year which now as of this past Friday evening became the year 5767. God told them that the beginning of the year would be at Passover time, yet they see the 7th month as the beginning of the New Year. Some believe that this change came about during the exile in Babylon or because it is the end of the harvest, it is the beginning of the civil or fiscal New Year. Just as some businesses have their fiscal New Year beginning and ending at a different time than our regular calendar. Another reason this is seen as the New Year is because the Rabbi’s are convinced this is the anniversary of the completion of the creation of the world.

They also on this day remember the sin of Adam and the need to for Jewish people to begin a season of repentance which concludes on Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement.

No work is permitted on Rosh Hashanah. Much of the day is spent in synagogue, where the regular daily liturgy is somewhat expanded. In fact, there is a special prayer book called the Machzor used for Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur because of the extensive liturgical changes for these holidays.

A popular religious observance during this holiday is eating apples dipped in honey, a symbol of our wish for a sweet new year. We also dip bread in honey (instead of the usual practice of sprinkling salt on it) at this time of year for the same reason.

One symbol of repenting for sins is Tashlikh ("casting off"). Religious Jews will walk to flowing water, such as a creek or river, on the afternoon of the first day and empty our pockets into the river, symbolically casting off our sins. Small pieces of bread are commonly put in the pocket to cast off. The name of this custom is derived from the Biblical passage (Micah 7:18- 20, ESV).

The call to begin this repentance is the sounding of the Shofar or Ram’s horn in three distinct calls.

The shofar is a ram's horn which is blown somewhat like a trumpet. One of the most important observances of this holiday is hearing the sounding of the shofar in the synagogue. A total of 100 notes are sounded each day. There are four different types of shofar notes: tekiah, a 3 second sustained note; shevarim, three 1-second notes rising in tone, teruah, a series of short, staccato notes extending over a period of about 3 seconds; and tekiah gedolah (literally, "big tekiah"), the final blast in a set, which lasts as long as possible. This 4th long sound is also called the Last Trumpet. Keep this last trumpet in you mind as we later look at the blasting of the trumpet in the new Testament.

The Bible gives no specific reason for this practice. Lets look at the use of the trumpet in the Bible to see if the Rabbinical idea or repentance is accurate.

The Trumpet in the Old Testament

The Trumpet as a Sign of Warning of Impending Danger

When the Israelites were rebuilding the wall around Jerusalem, they were surrounded by enemies who wanted to stop them. Nehemiah stationed people with trumpets around the wall to sound a warning if these enemies were about to attack.

Wherever you hear the sound of the trumpet, join us there. Our God will fight for us! (Neh. 4:20)

The Trumpet as a Sign of the Judgment of God

We see an example of this use of the trumpet when God judged the enemies of his people at Jericho.

Now Jericho was tightly shut up because of the Israelites. No one went out and no one came in. Then the LORD said to Joshua, "See, I have delivered Jericho into your hands, along with its king and its fighting men. March around the city once with all the armed men. Do this for six days. Have seven priests carry trumpets of rams' horns in front of the ark. On the seventh day, march around the city seven times, with the priests blowing the trumpets. When you hear them sound a long blast on the trumpets, have all the people give a loud shout; then the wall of the city will collapse and the people will go up, every man straight in.' (Josh. 6:1-5, NIV).

We will see another example of this use of the trumpet in God's final judgment on the wickedness of this earth.

God has patiently endured the wickedness of the human race. There will come a time when He will pour out on this earth the judgment it has earned through Its rebellion against God and His ways (Ps. 2). As each angel sounds the first six trumpets a different judgment is inflicted on the earth. When the seventh trumpet is sounded voices in heaven declare that the Kingdom of God has taken over the kingdom of the earth. The throne room and the holy of holies is revealed from heaven. This leads to further judgment on the earth as revealed in later chapters.

The seventh angel sounded his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven, which said: "The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he will reign for ever and ever." And the twenty-four elders, who were seated on their thrones before God, fell on their faces and worshiped God, saying: "We give thanks to you, Lord God Almighty, the One who is and who was, because you have taken your great power and have begun to reign. The nations were angry; and your wrath has come. The time has come for judging the dead, and for rewarding your servants the prophets and your saints and those who reverence your name, both small and great and for destroying those who destroy the earth." (Rev. 11:15-18, NIV)

The Trumpet as a Sign of God's Sovereignty, Majesty, and Power

This is one of the things God wants to remind the Israelites of on this feast day. Rosh Hashanah comes ten days before Yom Kippur. God is reminding Israel to prepare for the coming day of judgment. They are to reflect on their sins and repent. To repent is to not merely to feel sorry for wrong behavior, but to turn towards God and acknowledge that you are a sinner and seek His strength to live in a better way.

If the world could only see the majesty and might of God, how quickly it would also repent!

On the morning of the third day there was thunder and lightning, with a thick cloud over the mountain, and a very loud trumpet blast. Everyone in the camp trembled. 17 Then Moses led the people out of the camp to meet with God, and they stood at the foot of the mountain. 18 Mount Sinai was covered with smoke, because the LORD descended on it in fire. The smoke billowed up from it like smoke from a furnace, the whole mountain [a] trembled violently, 19 and the sound of the trumpet grew louder and louder. Then Moses spoke and the voice of God answered him. (Exod. 19:16-19, NIV)

In verse 16 the people trembled before this sign of God power and majesty. This was an act of mercy extended to Israel. Soon after this experience they were going to commit to obeying God’s laws. God was giving them a warning that He was not to be disobeyed. Imagine if every time we were about to sin, the ground trembled under our feet. There would be a whole lot less sinning going on among believers.

The Trumpet as a Sign of the Call to Proclaim the Gospel

Shout it aloud, do not hold back. Raise your voice like a trumpet. Declare to my people their rebellion and to the house of Jacob their sins. (Isa. 58:1)

So we see that God uses the trumpet call in the Old Testament as:

  1. A warning of danger
  2. A sign of the judgment of God on his enemies
  3. A symbol of God's power and majesty
  4. A call to repentance

The Trumpet in the New Testament

The Trumpet as a Signal of the Lord's Future Deliverance of the Church

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. (Matt. 24:31, NIV)

The Trumpet as a Signal of trhe Return of Christ

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. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. (1 Thess. 4:16-17)

The Trumpet as a Signal of the Transformation and Resurrection of Believers

Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed--in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: Death has been swallowed up in victory. Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?" The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain." (1 Cor. 15:51-58, NIV)

Application to Rosh Hashanah

The Return of Christ

Will Christ return on the eve of Rosh Hashanah? Consider how many of the other major events for Christians have occurred on Jewish feasts. It is very possible that this event will occur on Rosh Hashanah.

A Time for Reflection

As believers this would be a good time of year to take stock of our walk with the Lord. Is he pleased with our obedience? Do we need to repent before him and change our ways so that at his coming we are not ashamed?

The Jewish Cultural Celebration of Rosh Hashanah

Jewish people greet each other during Rosh Hashanah with Lashana tovah tikatevu, which means, "May your name be inscribed." What they are saying is, "May God place you in his Book of Life for this coming year."

The rabbis teach that on Rosh Hashanah God judges what will happen to each individual for the coming year. He opens books in heaven that contain everyone's name and inscribes what will happen to each one. However, his judgment is not fixed. On Yom Kippur this judgment is finalized.

The Days of Awe

The ten-day period between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur is called the "Days of Awe." The Orthodox and observing Conservative Jews will spend a lot of time in prayer and confession of sins in the earnest hope that God will forgive them, bless them, and remove any negative judgment against them.

The Bible Teaches that God Does Keep Sets of Books

Moses asked God in Exodus 32:32 to blot his name out of God’s book if God will not forgive Israel:

But now, please forgive their sin—but if not, then blot me out of the book you have written.

God responds by saying that He will wipe sinners out of His book.

In Daniel 12:1 there is a picture of God’s judgment on this earth, and it is a parallel with the judgment picture in Revelation. In this verse Daniel is told that everyone whose name is written in "the book" will be delivered. The following verses go on to state that in the resurrection some will arise to everlasting life, while the rest to everlasting contempt:

At that time Michael, the great prince who protects your people, will arise. There will be a time of distress such as has not happened from the beginning of nations until then. But at that time your people--everyone whose name is found written in the book--will be delivered. Multitudes who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake: some to everlasting life, others to shame and everlasting contempt. Those who are wise will shine like the brightness of the heavens, and those who lead many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever. (Dan. 12:1-3, NIV)

Jesus also alluded to this book when he told the Apostles to rejoice because their names were inscribed in heaven:

However, do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven. (Luke 10:20).

We know from Revelation 20:12 that whoever is not found written in the Lamb’s book of life will be cast into the lake of fire. Has your name been placed in God's Book of Life? Are you trusting in your goodness, or have you repented of your sins and recognized that God's way to have your name inscribed in the Book of Life is by believing in Messiah Jesus? Jesus is the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of a person before our Holy and perfect God.

There are only two options:

If you have placed your faith in the work of Christ as the source of your forgiveness with God, then you can rejoice to know that your name is inscribed in Heaven with indelible ink.

On the other hand, if you have not believed in Jesus and repented of your sins, then unfortunately a fiery judgment waits for you in the lake of fire:

And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books. The sea gave up the dead that were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them, and each person was judged according to what he had done. Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death. If anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire. (Rev. 20:12-15)

The same is true for both Jew and Gentile: all must believe in Jesus in order to be saved. The sad thing is that God has already made provision for our sins in the death and resurrection of Jesus the Messiah, but Jewish people like myself are taught to not believe in Him.

If you are a believer, you can share with a Jewish person your assurance that through the Messiah God has permanently placed you in His Book of Life.

If you are a Jew or Gentile who has not placed your trust in the atoning work of Jesus the Messiah, now would be a good time to repent and acknowledge before God that you are a sinner who has offended God and then gratefully accept and believe on the sacrifice of Jesus for your sins. God promises us in the New Testament book of Romans, Chapter 10:

That if you confess with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved. As the Scripture says, "Anyone who trusts in him will never be put to shame." For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile--the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, for, "Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved." (Rom. 10:9-13).

May your name be inscribed this Rosh Hashanah in God’s Book of Eternal Life.

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