Just now as sunset is coming on, Rosh Hashana has just begun, the Jewish New Year of 5776. This holiday is celebrated every year with the blowing of the shofar, even the same as it was done when the Messiah, the Lord Jesus Christ walked upon the face of the earth. This was also a time that Israel coronated its kings, and it was also a time that the people prepared for Yom Kippur, a high holy day for repentance. Rosh Hashana is really just a one day feast day. ‘However, the Sanhedrin would send out messengers to inform people that the new moon had been seen; but sometimes the messengers would actually be late by an entire day. So by the time of the 12th century, Rosh Hashana was extended to a two day feast which was considered to be just one incredibly long day’ History.com .
Good food is an integral part of the celebrations; namely, challah (pronounced ‘hollah’) bread and apples dipped in honey which represents a ‘sweet new year’ and as such, the participants bless each other with sayings such as, “Shana Tovah,” meaning ‘A good new year.’ Some participants stand by a body of water and cast the contents of their pockets out onto the water which represents the casting away of their sins.
The next ten days are considered to be ‘high holy days’ in preparation for the culmination of Yom Kippur. Rosh Hashana is also a ‘serious time to ask oneself if you have strayed from the path of righteousness. How can one return and be better in the coming new year? It is a wake-up call to wake up those that are sleeping and could have done better’ History.com.
So light some Shabbat candles and serve some apples and honey for a sweet new year.
Tonight begins the Jewish feast of Rosh Ha Shana, or the Head of the Year, which simply means the New Year. In Biblical times, Israel began its civil new year on Rosh Ha Shana and a new Feast year at Passover. This time of celebration begins with a series of three Fall Feasts, beginning with the celebration of the Head of the Year which leads into the Days of Awe and then culminates in Yom Kippur, otherwise know as the Day of Atonement.
Rosh Ha Shana is a time of great celebration and the sounding of the Shofar was heard throughout Israel and wherever the scattered tribes of Israel lived throughout the centuries.
And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying, Speak unto the children of Israel, saying, In the seventh month, in the first day of the month, shall ye have a Sabbath, a memorial of blowing of trumpets, an holy convocation. Ye shall do no servile work: but ye shall offer an offering made by fire unto the Lord.
After this feast begins the Days of Awe as stated above after the Head of the Year celebration. This is to usher in thoughts of repentance and asking humbly for forgiveness for all of our mistakes. This lasts for ten days, after which, the third Fall Feast begins, Yom Kippur. Christians celebrate these Fall Feasts by placing Y’shua ha Mashiach at the center of our thoughts and keeping Him as the central focus. It was the coming of the Messiah and His sacrificial death as the final atonement; seeing that Yeshua came as the Lamb of God. He made it available for our sins, transgressions and iniquities to be removed as we plead the Holy Blood of our Messiah, which has been eternally placed on the Mercy seat in Heaven before the One True God. This indeed is a time of great celebration for God has shown great mercy upon all of His people.
The feast technically begins on the eve of September 24th, since the new day begins at sundown and continues until September 25th at sundown. According to the Jewish calendar, September 25th is reserved as the second day of Rosh Ha Shana for those that live outside of Israel. Some Scriptures that you can read are:
1 Samuel 1:1 – 2:10
1 Thessalonians 4:13-18
So today at sundown, let us begin a joyful celebration, whether you can physically hear the blowing of a Shofar or not, let the spiritual Shofar be heard in your spirit as we look to our God for all of the wonderful things that He has brought to pass as He is fulfilling all of these great Feasts which will culminate with the arrival of our King and God.
The official beginning of Yom Kippur begins tonight, September 25, 2012 and lasts through tomorrow, September 26th which is according to the Jewish calendar, Tishrei 9 and 10. It is a time for reflection upon the great mercies of our God.
The Day of Atonement was given to Israel as a means to have their sins covered on one special day of the year. Yom Kippur literally means in Hebrew, ‘The Day of Covering.’ This was the one day that the High Priest entered into the Holy of Holies to offer sacrifices for atonement for the entire nation of Israel before God Almighty. God set in place what would be needed for the atonement of sins, and we find this in:
For the life of the flesh is in the blood: and I have given it to you upon the altar to make an atonement for your souls: for it is the blood that makes an atonement for the soul.
But the Day of Atonement was but a shadow of that which was to come, namely the final atonement that would be purchased with the pure and perfect blood of the Messiah, the Lord Jesus Christ. We find this in:
But Christ being come an high priest of good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this building; Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us.
As Christians, we can celebrate Yom Kippur by acknowledging the Lord Jesus Christ’s complete sacrifice for us, and that His sacrifice does not have to be continually repeated as we also find in:
For if the blood of bulls and of goats, and the ashes of an heifer sprinkling the unclean, sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh: How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?
The Scriptures detail that the nation of Israel was to fast on this day in order that they might show the solemnity of the day. The animal sacrifice was to remind them that the atonement for their sins was going to ‘cost’ the life of an animal so that its blood could be sprinkled upon the altar. Of course, this looked forward to the costly gift of God’s only Son who would lay His life down for the many.
In the book, “Walk with Y’shua Through the Jewish Year” by Janie-sue Wertheim and Kathy Shapiro, they write about how modern Jewish Christians sometimes celebrate this day by taking their family for a walk or driving to an area where they can climb a hill. They make a list of the things that they would like to ask God’s forgiveness for, tie it to a balloon and then let it go, letting the wind carry it away. By doing this, especially for the children, it allows them to physically see that as the wind carries their sins away along with the balloon, so also does God cast our sins away, as we read in:
As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us.
If the family chooses to fast in recognition of the solemnity of the Day, then they prepare a meal and then celebrate the forgiveness of their sins by the Messiah, the Lord Jesus Christ.
In any event, although as Christians we no longer have to sacrifice animals and sprinkle its blood to obtain remission of sins, we can still celebrate the day and acknowledge the goodness of God’s eternal plan of salvation through praise and worship to the Holy Father and His Son, our Messiah, the Lord Jesus Christ. What a blessing it is that we have these great and precious promises that have been given to us as we read in:
And for this cause he is the mediator of the new testament, that by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first testament, they which are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance.
During this day of reflection, here are some other Scriptural readings that can further enhance our understanding of what a great Messiah we have in the Lord Jesus Christ. In the morning you can read:
- Leviticus 16:1-34
- Numbers 29:7-11
- Isaiah 57:14-58:14
- Romans 3:21-26
and then in the afternoon, you may also read for further reflection:
- Leviticus 18:1-30
- Book of Jonah
- Micah 7:18-20
- Hebrews 10:1-14
May the blessings of our God be with you as we praise and celebrate His Son, our Savior and so this writer closes with Psalm 118, which you can read in entirety, but here is the last two verses:
Thou art my God and I will praise thee: thou art my God, I will exalt thee. O give thanks unto the Lord; for He is good: for His mercy endures forever.