Reflecting on the Feast of Trumpets (Rosh Hashanah)

Today is the Feast of Trumpets, the Jewish New Year, one of God’s Holy days.   Sadly, it is a day that most Christians know nothing about other than a name that appears on a calendar in the fall and known as a Jewish Holiday.  Well, it is not just a Jewish Holiday; it is the Jewish New Year.  It is a day established by God for celebration.  As all things established by God the day has specific meaning about what has happened, what is going on today, and what is to come.  The point of this article is to examine some principles of this day a little deeper. Admittedly, this article is written not from personal experience, but upon examination of the documented elements of the day. Certainly there is plenty of information out that can give much deeper insight into the day. One article that has been helpful in understanding the elements of the day is found here: http://brenda.ratcliffs.net/07Trumpets.pdf.  

This Holy day is a day of transition.  As such it is a day of paradox. It is a beginning and an end. It is a day of celebration and introspection. It is marked by a transition of a waning moon to a new, full moon.  It is a day of joy and can be a day of fear.  The fear comes as the day is the start of focusing on God judgments. According to Jewish thinking it is the day when God writes folks in the book of life, the book of death, or sort of a yet to be determined state.  Thus there is fear of judgment and sober reflection.  As followers of Jesus the Messiah who as made us clean, there is no need of fear of judgment but sober reflection is beneficial.  I think it is very important to note there is a day that reflects beginning and end, as this day clearly points to Jesus, the Alpha and Omega, where everything starts and everything ends. He is the one who brings about all changes and by His gift our name is assured of being in the book of Life. And this Holy day is a day for reflecting on this fact.

One element to reflect on is that the Holy day of Rosh Hashanah is a day that does point to the past. It points to the beginning of all things. It points to God as the creator.  There are other events that may well have taken place on this Holy day. One is that is the most likely day that Jesus was born. There are also suggestions it also was the day of his baptism and the day he was led to the wilderness. So this day has been a day of prime importance to God, one that He has seen fit to be a day he has chosen for some beginnings.

If we look at this Holy day for what it what it means to us today. It is a day to look both at what has changed from the past year and what it is ahead. It is a day to focus on what God has been doing and to note what comes ahead.  For Jews, there are two greetings on this day. One is “May you be inscribed and sealed (for a good year” the other is to wish others a year of sweetness and joy.  Well, every year is a year of sweetness and joy when we live a life of surrender to Jesus.  When we accept Jesus as the one who saves us and the one to whom we submit it bring a complete wholeness that is sweet and joyous. And the fact is that with that relationship to the Messiah, we are sealed and inscribed.  A follower of Jesus is sealed with the Holy Spirit and his name is assured of being written in the Lamb’s book of life.  There is no greater joy than that fact, as for the follower of Jesus there is no fear of judgment, just the need to continue to grow and be cleaned and purified.

Now, the day is certainly one about the end. While Jesus may have been born on this day, there is another day coming. It is a day of Jesus coronation as coming King. A day he establishes his government and authority and begins the judgment.  This day is a day established by two witnesses because it may be missed because of clouds and obscuring darkness.  Those who have turned to Jesus for salvation and call Him Lord are to be having a mindset of preparation and watchfulness. We his followers are his servants and bride. He is coming to claim his bride and reward faithful servants.  We are to be about His business. We are to watch. We are to prepare. We are to be sober and alert.  This day, is a day that reminds us of all these things.  It is a day to examine what gets in the way of walking in surrender and being faithful servants. It is a day for the bride to be cleaned and prepared for the groom.  So on this day and the days that follow is a day to take a close look at self and listen to God’s direction to learn what needs to change in the year ahead.  It is an ongoing process until the day of the great Rosh Hashanah when the King of Kings comes and his throne is established.  It is a joyous and dreadful day, for judgment is coming but Jesus will put all enemies to flight and then there is true joy and rest.

So, there is much to reflect and learn from on this day.  Take some time and learn more about the Feast of Trumpets, for the day is soon coming when the trumpets shall resound and it will be a day unlike any other day.  A day from which forth the whole of creation will resound with “Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise!” and “To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be praise and honor and glory and power, for ever and ever!”

Passion Week Musings: The Garden Betrayal

After the Last Supper the scene moves to the Garden and the eventual betrayal. There are two main reactions to focus on during the time in the garden, Jesus action and that of the disciples. Jesus was under intense emotions and stress. He was about to undergo something that none of us can grasp. He knows he is about to die a horrid death. He knows he is to be sacrificed. He is at a moment of intense anticipation for the events ahead. So what he did was seek the father. He resisted the temptation to run or go another way. He stayed true and let his heart out toward the Father. His emotions and struggle was so intense that his body could not hold up under the emotional distress and he started sweating blood. Take you most intense emotional stress and it will not come close to the agony Jesus was experiencing. Yet, he continued to submit to the will of the father, knowing that there is no other way to redeem mankind for if there was any other way it would have happened.

Now during the period of time that Jesus is undergoing this intense emotional struggle while awaiting the betrayal the disciples were there. Jesus asked them to stand by, watch, and pray. The disciples tried to follow suit but the fell asleep. Jesus did not condemn them for their failures. He was aware that their spirits were willing, they tried to follow suit, but they could not overcome and resist the flesh. They fell asleep. He found them sleeping and the third time he did not even bother to waken them until the betrayer arrived. When the moment arrives, he declares there ongoing status of sleeping and then awakens them to let them know the time has come. As the event unfold, the disciples end up ready for a fight, Peter even gets aggressive. Jesus remains steadfast. So it is clear that in spite the teaching and preparation they did not understand. They were still focused on a conquering messiah in spite of Jesus telling them over and over he would suffer death, this may even been part of their struggle with flesh. They did not really know why they needed to watch and pray. They were confident and had faith in Jesus and were ready to fight with him. They were not ready to see the one they loved so much and put faith in turned over to suffer and die.

Today the church is not really in a different place then the disciples. We know Jesus is coming soon. We are aware of events and signs to watch for. Yet we get caught up in the cares of world. We have our goals and plans and dreams we want to accomplish or experience before His return. These very things cause is to be weak in flesh and ultimately to fall asleep. God directs us to watch, pray, and be sober. Yet, we all fall asleep. Every one of us, for ultimately we fail to fully understand and grasp what is going to happen. In our spirit we long for the return, but in our flesh it is another story, so we fall asleep. It is much better to watch and pray and stand firm, yet it does stretch our limits. Now some fellow believers focus and hope on the “Rapture” of the church, yet know this, we need to be awake. If you rest in a perception of coming safety when the world is already growing darker, it is really a form of slumber. God like the disciples gives us preparation and will direct us what we need to do to stand firm and not falter. Yet, for us often the spirit is willing but the flesh is week so we sleep in the appearance of current and coming safety. Meanwhile there is a roaring lion about looking who he may devour. There is evil going on, sometimes coordinated, sometimes just in synchronicity. If we slumber, we falter and fail to stand firm.