By Bill Kuik
You might have wondered about a day on your calendar called Rosh Hashanah by the Jewish people.
The name of the holiday means “The head of the year” from the Hebrew language.
One biblical reference for Rosh Hashanah is found in Leviticus 23:23-25. “In the seventh month on the first of the month, you shall have a rest, a reminder by blowing of trumpets, a holy convocation. You shall not do any laborious work, but you shall present an offering by fire to the LORD.”
It is known as the Jewish New Year, but it also has other names. It might be called Yom Teru’ah (“The Day of Blowing”) from the Hebrew or the “Feast of Trumpets.” In a traditional Jewish synagogue the shofar (a ram’s horn trumpet) is blown one hundred times on this day. The blast of the shofar is symbolic of being jolted from our spiritual sleep and to announce that Adonai (God) is King of the Universe. The one hundredth blast is special, known as the “Last Trump.” As I will explain later, this holds special significance to me.
Traditional Judaism teaches that on this day there will be an “Opening of the Books” (Daniel 7:10), in which God will read the account of what every individual has done for the previous year. This begins a period of self-examination and repentance known as the “Ten Days of Awe,” leading to the Day of Atonement, or Yom Kippur.
Rosh Hashanah stands alongside Yom Kippur to comprise “the high holy days.” It is traditional during the high holy days to greet one another with “L’Shanah Tovah Tikatevu!” This unusual greeting means, “May you be inscribed in the Book of Life for a good year!”
Since I was not raised in a Jewish family, you might wonder why this is significant to me; or to you for that matter. According to the Bible, Israel and the church are distinct entities, with promises made to both. It is equally clear, however, that there is a contiguous relationship between Israel and the church. Every blessing which the church enjoys comes out of covenants and provisions which God made with Israel. As a Messianic follower of Yeshua (Jesus), I choose to honor the Lord and the nation of Israel by walking in His ways to the best of my ability; because of the blessings I enjoy every day.
Yeshua is the perfect sacrificial offering for our sins (2 Cor. 5:21). Through His death and resurrection, our names are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life (Rev. 13:8). We are not made acceptable in God’s sight by means of our own works of righteousness (Titus 3:5-6); rather, it is our love for God and deep appreciation for His Salvation through Yeshua that leads us to seek out these works daily through the power of the Holy Spirit working in our lives.
The Hebrew word “Teru’ah” means “shouting” or “raising a noise,” and therefore this day is to be marked by making a joyful noise to the Lord (Psalm 81:1-4). The sound of the shofar is meant to awaken our hearts and to prepare for the coming judgment.
It is prophesied that upon the Last Trump Yeshua (Jesus), the Jewish Messiah, will come on Rosh Hashanah; like a bridegroom coming for His bride. Believers in Yeshua look forward to His second coming at the time of the blowing of the shofar (1 Thess. 4:16-17). Yeshua is called the Mashiach (Messiah), a title used to describe His Kingly dignity and royalty. He is coming to rule and reign from Jerusalem in the near future, and the heavenly shofar will sound from Zion (Isaiah 27:13).
Are you ready for that Day? We do not know the day or hour of His return, but we are commanded as His followers to watch and be ready for His soon appearance (Matt. 24:42). Therefore, let us humble ourselves, learn to walk in His ways, and be ready.
In 2014, Rosh Hashanah begins the evening of Wednesday, Sept. 24, ending at sundown Thursday, Sept. 25.
“May you be inscribed in the Lamb’s Book of Life!”
Bill Kuik is the Congregational Leader of Etz-Chayim B’Yeshua Messianic Congregation (ECBY) in Cortez.