Rosh Hashanah: Celebration, Rememberance, and Renewal

Today is Rosh Hashanah, the Feast of Trumpets, also known as
the Day of Remembrance. It is the Jewish New Year.  The greeting for the day  was “may you be inscribed for a good year. A
good website for basic information on the Holiday if found at this website: http://www.hebrew4christians.com/Holidays/Fall_Holidays/Rosh_Hashannah/rosh_hashannah.html.

The article has two areas that bring thoughts to me find.
First is the thoughts of remembrance. It is a time to remember who God is and
what he has done.  Two aspects of God are
central for remembering today. It is that of God as creator. Today is thought
of as one that goes back to the “first day.” So, it is a day to reflect on what
God did in creating the world and us.
The second aspect of God to contemplate is that as God as King. Today is
also thought of as a coronation day. It is a day to think of the coming actions
of the King. It is a time to start reflecting on repentance and judgment. It is
the start of the King doing what he does to make things right.

One of the parts of Rosh Hashanah is the blowing of the
trumpets. The shofar is blown over about a 100 times on that day. The is a
combination of four types of trumpet blows. One type of blast signifies the
King’s coronation. One blast type announces a focus on repentance. A third is
about an awakening of the soul. The fourth time is a long blast that goes until
you cannot blow anymore.

These trumpet blow types signify to me a perspective that
goes well together. We start with God as King. We need to recognize and identity
and submit to what we need to change to be in line with the King’s will and
directive.  We need the basic elements of
who we are before God awakened and revived.  A blast of alarm is what does awaken each of
us if we hear it.  And finally there is a
giving all of self until reach the end of self: a total submission.

It is worth noting that all these elements are what today is
about. It is a time of rest, renewal, and celebration. It is a focus on God and
self. A time of renewing proper alignment and embark on what and he has ahead for
the New Year. So take time today to learn, reflect, and examine. Let God show
you what to remember and what to move forward into change. Celebrate God. Remember Him and His work in your life. Change course from where you left His will and be awakened to what He is directing and calling. For Today is the day. Celebrate. Repent. Awaken. These are the words for today. In this is found renewal.

Musing on the Days of Awe (Yamim Noraim)

Recently on this blog there was some reflection on The Feast of Trumpets (Rosh Hashanah) which has also been commented on in two previous articles one in 2008, the other in 2009. There has been little commentary on this blog regarding the days following Rosh Hashanah or on Yom Kippur. This year this writer is being stirred to comment on these as well. Starting with Rosh Hashanah and ending with Yom Kippur are ten days known as the ‘Days of Awe’ (Yamim Noraim) also known as the ‘Days of Repentance.’ Part of the reason these days have not been addressed is because of the perspective of doing something to get right with God to assure being in good standing and possibly reversing God’s judgment. The views is that the actions taken on the Days of Awe can alter what God had written on “The Feast of Trumpets” with the final judgment being cast on the day of Judgment. The viewpoint is that during this time a person can engage in one of three actions: “teshuvah, tefilah and tzedakah,” repentance, prayer, good deeds. There is also the focus on reconciling with those who you have done wrong as Jewish though based on the Talmud suggested that the Yom Kippur sacrifice does not atone for what you have done wrong to others. So,w hile the ten day focus on repentance and getting right with God is honorable, it is coming from a missing perspective.

As a Christian, the perspective of repentance is different, as we do not focus on whether or not we have to “earn God’s favor.” Nothing that we do makes us right before God, as we have been redeemed, covered by the blood of the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. Yet, if you take some time to examine and consider there is a Christian perspective on these days and it is certainly worthwhile to take time to engage in extended reflection on our relationship with God and others. Note, that these days start with the “trumpet blasts” of the Feast of Trumpets. The blasts are a wake-up call stating the time is now and time is left before the coming day of Atonement, the great day of judgment. The period between the “wake-up” alarm and the serious day of atonement may well be reflective of the tribulation period. God does nothing without meaning and what he established is a shadow of what is to come. So it is worthwhile to take these days seriously and reflect on repentance. On this blog up until Yom Kippur the article focus will be on various aspects of repentance. From a Christian perspective this is examining both what have done wrong and what am doing right. It is seeking God to know and learn what area of life he is refining toward change. It is a time to look at the things that have been left undone. It is a time to allow the Holy Spirit to work on our hearts and move through the ongoing sanctification. It is also worthwhile to consider or relationship with others and reconcile with those we have wronged and forgive those who have wronged us.

It is also important to be aware that for each of us this process should be a daily process. As being a member of the Kingdom of God and being made clean by the blood of the Lamb of God, every day is really a day of Awe. Every day is a day to consider our relationship with God: where we are missing the mark due to action or inaction. Daily we need to forgive and be forgiven. Daily we need to make right what we have done wrong. Yet, there is the time of the calendar between God’s established days that we can learn from. The majority of the Christian church has lost awareness of these days. Some parts of the church have taken the concept and used it for other extended periods of reflection such as Lent. Yet, God has set some days for His purpose and being aware and remembering what God has done and is doing is important. It is worthwhile to reflect on what God has done, what he is doing, and what is yet to come. As a believer in Messiah, God has made me clean and redeemed me. I am currently in an ongoing process of being cleaned known as sanctification where that which is unclean is being refined and done away with. There is a coming and future point where as a part of the body of Christ, we will be presented as clean before Jesus as the “bride of Christ.” For those who accept Jesus as Messiah, each has no fear of the day of Judgment for the position before God has been established. We await the great and future day of true great Awe and wonder as we await Jesus who will straighten out all of which has been made crooked and twisted and all shall be brought into proper account. So take time, reflect. Repent. Pray. Act in love toward others. These are actions of people in the Kingdom of God, not because they put us in right position with God, but because he loved us and we desire to serve and grow into a greater reflection of Jesus the Messiah. It is a day by day, step by step process.

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!”