A New Year, a New Season
Today is Rosh Hashanah!
This is the Jewish New Year. Rosh Hashanah actually means the ‘head of the year’ and is always observed for two full days that begins on the 1st of Tishrei. The first day of the Jewish year.
As Christians our roots are Jewish. Jesus was born in a Jewish household and had ancestries from Abraham and David and Jacob and Isaac. When we receive Jesus as Lord and Saviour, we get ‘grafted’ into Israel.
Whoa…Wait! Please wait!
What does this mean? Let me quote from Romans 11:24…‘For if you were cut off from what is by nature a wild olive tree, and were grafted contrary to nature into a cultivated olive tree, how much more shall these who are the natural branches be grafted into their own olive tree.’
We are all Gentiles. Born outside Jewish heritage. When we find faith in Jesus our Messiah, then we are this ‘wild olive tree’ Paul is talking about in Romans. We now have been grafted to the ‘cultivated olive tree’, which is Israel. The analogy is taken from a fruit grower who grafts the wild olive to the one, which will impart life.
So are we part of the modern state of Israel? Or is it that we are part of Rabbinical Judaism? Or maybe we are some part of Israeli society? No! The apostle Paul gives us an amazing pointer. This is what Paul says in Romans 9: 6 to 8… They are not all Israel who are descended from Israel, neither are they all children because they are Abraham’s descendants, but through Isaac your descendants will be named. That is, it is not the children of the flesh who are children of God, but the children of the promise are regarded as descendants. (Underline mine).
In other words, Paul says that…merely physically descending from the line of Israel is not enough to make one a member of the true Israel but rather one has to be personally trusting in God by faith.
And so then who is the true Israel? These are the ones who receive Jesus as their personal Lord and Saviour. This is the Church of Jesus, which includes the Messianic Jews who follow the Messiah…and together we make up the ‘one new man’ the Bible talks about.
Here’s what Paul reiterates in Romans 2:28 and 29…For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly; neither is circumcision that which is outward in the flesh. But he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that which is of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter; and his praise is not from men, but from God. (Underline mine).
No wonder Jesus told Nicodemus that he had to be ‘born again’ to enter the Kingdom of God in John chapter 3. And so must we, whether Jew or Gentile.
Rosh Hashanah is actually the anniversary of the creation of Adam and Eve. It commemorates their first actions toward the realization of mankind’s role in God’s world. It is a time to remember that God has a special relationship with us. He loves us! And we are dependent on Him as our creator, protector and sustainer. It is like all of us as sheep pass under the eyes of the Shepherd, and it is then decreed in the ‘heavenly court’ as to who lives and who dies, who will fall and who will rise. It is here that God’s Kingship is freshly mandated on our lives.
Therefore there is the cry of the shofar (the ram’s horn), which not only represents the coronation of the King, but is also a call to genuine repentance. We are thus reminded that just as Adam and Eve fell into sin the Garden of Eden, we too are only sinners that can be saved by the Grace and Mercy of a Living God. Therefore the cross that Jesus died upon must become a reality to us…and not just a symbol to wear around our necks or tattoo our bodies with!
So also there is a cry, which is called the ‘Ten Days of Awe’ that culminates on ‘Yom Kippur’, the Day of Atonement. Genuine repentance must play a key role if we truly desire to follow God.
Another significance of the shofar is to recall the ‘Binding of Isaac’, which also occurred on Rosh Hashanah, in which a ram took Isaac’s place as an offering to God. We are reminded of Abraham’s obedience and faith. God became his provider.
At this time there will be one hundred shofar blasts over the course of the Rosh Hashanah services in the synagogues. The last blast is called the ‘Last Trumpet’, which we all will hear at the coming of Jesus!
I’m happy today! I’m grafted into God’s purposes for me for the rest of my life. I am under God’s total protection plan. As I walk in faith and obedience to the Bible, God will provide all my needs for tomorrow.
I am secure. I am satisfied. I can rest. Jesus did it all for me!
So the coming year is already fashioned for me!