Happy New Year or Shanah Tovah in Hebrew!
Rosh haShanah is the first Jewish holiday that occurs in the autumn and falls on the first and second days of the Jewish calendar, Tishri. Usually, it comes sometime in September or October. This year it begins on the evening of September 20th.
The blowing of the shofar is a central part of this holiday. It calls the Jewish people to turn to God or announces something special is about to happen. Traditionally, Genesis 22—the story of Abraham and Isaac—is read on this holiday.
Rosh haShanah is both a somber and joyful event since it is a day of repentance or judgment and celebrates the birthday of the world. It is celebrated for two days. Families gather together for a special meal where honey cake is eaten as well as apple slices dipped in honey, symbolizing the sweetness of a new year. The traditional Sabbath sweet bread is served, but baked this time with either white or dark raisins and formed into a braided circle instead of a loaf.
The Messianic Jewish Bible Institute is dedicated to restoring the biblical roots and traditions to Messianic Jewish people dispersed in the nations through discipling and teaching. These customs are extremely important because they have kept the seed of Abraham together as a nation for thousands of years.
Whether you are Jewish or not, the High Holy Days have great meaning and significance for you as a follower of Yeshua. Below are five points about Rosh haShanah that will be a blessing to you as a believer to understand during this annual season of celebration for the Jewish people. The symbolism and deeper purposes of their traditions, bring richness to life on earth and hope for our home in heaven someday.
1) Honoring Creator – God is honored and remembered as sovereign Creator as the birthday of the world is celebrated. Psalm 47:2 calls the Lord the “great King over all the earth.” As believers, we recognize His ultimate authority and righteous reign. Rosh haShanah is a “sanctified time” to remember His creative power in our lives and in the world.
2) Sacrifice – “The Binding of Isaac” or Adkedat Isaac is a foundational theme during Rosh haShanah. The ram’s horn is blown to remind the Jewish people that God Himself provided a sacrifice for Abraham—the ram caught in the branches. This was an early symbol of the perfect sacrifice of Yeshua for the sins of the world. The shofar’s sound should tickle our souls down to our toes for the joy of salvation paid by the Jewish Messiah (Genesis 22 and Hebrews 9-12).
3) Fresh Start – He is a God of new beginnings. Throughout the year, all miss the mark and are in need of repenting, making amends, and rectifying our lives with God and man. As believers, we are not limited to the value of our good deeds; they can never measure up. This is a time to consider life and face the next months with a clean slate because our sins have been covered by the atoning work on the cross of Yeshua (II Corinthians 5:17).
4) Book of Life – As Jewish people around the world wait in the balance of their good and bad deeds and hope to have their names inscribed in the Book of Life, we rejoice that our names are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life because of the price Yeshua paid for our sins (Daniel 12:1 and Luke 10:20).
5) Change is Coming – The blowing of the ram’s horn or the shofar on Rosh haShanah has great significance for the believer in Yeshua. Someday the last trump will sound; and we, who believe, will be forever changed. Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed—in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed (I Corinthians 15:51-52).