When we began learning about Rosh Hashana last time, we learned that Rosh Hashana is the Jewish New Year, but because the Hebrew Calendar has four new years within it, Rosh Hashana is known as the head of the year. It’s also known as the Feast of Trumpets and it’s one of seven mandatory feasts of the Lord. They are;
These are the mandatory feasts instituted by God. The Jewish people have many other annual celebrations and anniversaries, but these are the only ones commanded by God to be celebrated every year.
The trumpet blasts are very significant in Rosh Hashana and they have to do with the coronation of God as their king, repentance of the soul and the expectation of the ‘Last Trump.’ We also leaned that the feasting always involves honey and sweet foods to wish each other a sweet new year, while at the same time, reflecting on the year just past to ensure not repeating any mistakes that may have been made.
Usually on the afternoon of the first day of Rosh Hashana, Jews perform a ritual called ‘tashlikh’ which means ‘casting off’, where they symbolically cast their sins into a body of water by emptying their pockets and casting the contents into the river, stream or creek. Micah 7:18-20, Psalm 118:5-9, 33 and 130 are recited during the Tashlikh ceremony.
Micah 7:18-20, ‘Who is a God like You, who pardons iniquity and passes over the rebellious act of the remnant of His possession? He doesn’t retain His anger forever, because He delights in unchanging love. He’ll again have compassion on us; He’ll tread our iniquities under foot. Yes, You’ll cast all their sins into the depths of the sea. You’ll give truth to Jacob and unchanging love to Abraham, which You swore to our forefathers from the days of old.’
This is such a beautiful picture of the graciousness of God toward His people. But my favourite lines from these verses is the very last statement. God will give truth to Jacob – the Jewish people – and unchanging love to Abraham – who represents all his descendants after him, because God promised He’d do that. Who is the epitome of truth? Jesus, the Son of God, the Word made flesh. The Jewish people live under judicial blindness at the moment, but the day is coming when this passage will be fully seen and God will give the truth of the Messiah to His chosen people, and they’ll know Him. He is their King, but they just don’t realise it…yet.
Rosh Hashana is also believed to be the time when the righteous are written in the Book of Life and the unrighteous are written in the book of death in Jewish tradition; this tradition believes that all people have ten days during the Days of Awe to repent and determine their fate. These are Jewish traditions, they’re not found in Scripture but they hold great symbology of what is in Scripture.
The ten Days of we start with Rosh Hashana and end ay Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement.
Another major theme that is focused on during Rosh Hashana is the Akedah Yitzchak – ‘The binding of Isaac’. In Jewish tradition God told Abraham that the shofar was to be blown on Rosh Hashana to remind the people of God’s substitutionary sacrifice when He provided a ram to replace Isaac.
Rosh Hashana is also known as ‘The destiny of the Righteous’ and just mentioned, it begins what is called the Days of Awe and they lead into the most holy and solemn day of the Hebrew calendar which is known as Yom Kippur – the Day of Atonement.
From a Messianic/Christian perspective, it’s important to understand that ALL the feasts of the Lord are fulfilled or yet to be fulfilled by Jesus. With regard to Rosh Hashana, there are seven really important points to look at in relation to what we’ve just learned about this feast.
Jesus IS the King of the Universe, the Creator and Redeemer. In Hebrew the term is Melech Gadol al-kol-ha’aretz – ‘Great King over all the earth’ (Psalm 47:2); Jesus is called the Mashiach which denotes His kingly dignity and royalty; He is the Creator and Sustainer of all life (Colossians 1:16).
Psalm 47:2, ‘For the Lord Most High is to be feared, a great King over all the earth.’
Colossians 1:16, ‘For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities – all things have been created through Him and for Him.’
The identity of the King and Creator in these verses are both talking about Jesus the Messiah and next time we’ll conclude learning about Rosh Hashana, the fifth of the seven mandatory feasts of the Lord and we’ll see really clearly how Jesus is going to be the fulfillment of it in history yet future.