Does September 19-20, 2009 mean anything to you? For Jews, this week marks the celebration of Rosh Hashanah, the biblical new year. That may seem insignificant on the surface to us as western Christians. However, a closer study reveals deeper truth that I am excited to teach my family this week in our Faith Talk Sunday evening.
Rosh Hashanah literally means “Head of the Year.” The modern day celebration bears only a distant resemblance to the biblical holy day. The feast, originally called the Feast of Trumpets derives from God’s command in the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament) for His people to observe 7 sacred feasts. The feasts can be divided into 2 categories: spring feasts and fall feasts based on the agricultural context of the Scriptures. The spring feasts include Passover, Unleavened Bread, First Fruits and Shavuot. Each of the spring feasts dramatically point to Jesus as the Messiah, the Lamb and the King.
The fall feasts include Rosh Hashanah (Feast of Trumpets), Yom Kippur, and Sukkot. Each fall feast calls believers to remember the story of God and how He has rescued and redeemed us. The fall feasts begin on Tishri 1 (our September 19-20 this year) with the Feast of Trumpets. Consider the following words of God.
And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, “Speak to the people of Israel saying, In the seventh month, on the first day of the month, you shall observe a day of solemn rest, a memorial proclaimed with a blast of trumpets, a holy convocation.”
On the first day of the seventh month you shall have a holy convocation. You shall not do any ordinary work. It is a day for you to blow the trumpets.
The Feast of Trumpets is a solemn time. It is not trumpets sounding in celebration. Instead the trumpets remind God’s people to reflect and repent. This is not a drunken New Year’s party but instead a time of sober reflection. God put this in place to lovingly lead His people to consider the year before. How did we walk in ways that were not pleasing to God. Who did we sin against along the way?
I have a Jewish friend named Ronny that travels with me in Israel. While on the Temple Mount last year I asked Ronny to explain how he celebrates Rosh Hashanah in his family as a 21st century Jew. He described the process of making a list of all of his sins for the past year. He explained that he called everyone he knew he possibly offended over the past year and confessed, asking for forgiveness. The Feast of Trumpets signals individual and national repentance and restoration. It is a yearly call to reflect and change.
For Christ-followers the Feast of Trumpets not only signals repentance but also anticipation of the second coming of Jesus. Matthew 24:29-31 tells us that immediately following the tribulation of those days (speaking of the last days) there will appear in heaven the sign of the Son of Man. We learn from this passage that upon seeing the sign of Christ “all the tribes of the earth will mourn” as they see Jesus coming “with power and great glory.” Why mourn? Why not celebrate? I think in the presence of Christ we first mourn in repentance.
And he will send out his angels with a loud trumpet call,and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.
When we think about the feast of trumpets we should embrace the cycle of sanctification and repent. We should also gladly anticipate the time when Jesus will break from Heaven to gather us at the sound of the trumpets.
Our Family Faith Talk
So how will all of that turn into our Family Faith Talk on Sunday evening? Angela and I will use the occasion of Rosh Hashanah to teach our girls the basics of the original feast. I want them to connect with three things:
- Repentance: We will talk about my friend Ronny and his family. We will follow his lead making lists of the things we have done that were not pleasing to God this year. We will repent in prayer and lead our girls to ask forgiveness of those whom they have sinned against. We will also talk about the goodness of God’s forgiveness through Jesus using 1 John 1:9.
- Anticipation: We will read Matthew 24:31 together and talk about the promise that Jesus made to return for all those who follow him. We will talk about what that might be like. We will also think about what we need to do to prepare for that day.
- Jesus: We will talk about Jesus as our Savior and our King. Angela and I will share about how Jesus changed our lives when we turned to him for the forgiveness of sin. We will talk about the good gift of repentance as a daily discipline. Even the ability to repent is a gift from God. We will also talk about walking with Jesus every day. We will ask them to describe what it means to walk with Jesus. Then we will read Galatians 2:20-21
At the end we will take turns praying. “Lord Help us remember at this time of the year to walk in your ways. Forgive us for the times we have sinned or hurt others. Help us to remember every time we hear a trumpet that you will be coming again. Thank you Jesus for loving us and giving yourself for us!”
Use Rosh Hashanah as an opportunity for a great family Faith Talk !