Traditions can be a wonderful part of our lives! Yet, at times, they can easily overshadow the real essence of the very thing that they represent. As we are at the beginning of the High Holy Days, starting with The Feast of Trumpets, also known as Yom Teruah and today, as Rosh Hashanah. I would like to share some thoughts and personal reflections about this very special Holy Day.
As a child, Rosh Hashanah (which literally means “head of the year”) was one of my favorite holidays. You would walk on the streets and everyone would wish you a "Shanah Tova" (A good or blessed year) with a smile. I couldn't wait to eat apples dipped in honey, which is a wonderful symbol for a fruitful and sweet new year. Another tradition that I loved was going to the Synagogue for the blowing of the Shofar, the ram's horn that makes a sound similar to a trumpet; that was always very special and meaningful. However, the beauty of the tradition has overshadowed the actual meaning behind the blowing of the Shofar. Let's take a look at where the tradition originates in the Scriptures.
And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, “Speak to the sons of Israel, saying, ‘In the seventh month on the first of the month, it shall be for you a Sabbath (a day of rest) a remembrance by blowing of trumpets, a holy convocation’”.
There is much richness in the verses above. The actual blowing of the trumpet takes us back to the amazing story found in the book of beginnings, Beresheet (Genesis) 22, known as the sacrifice of Isaac, where we read in verses 7–13:
Isaac spoke to Abraham his father and said, “My father!” And he said, “Here I am, my son.” And he said, “Behold, the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?” Abraham said, “God willprovide for Himself the lamb for the burnt offering, my son.” So the two of them walked on together. Then they came to the place of which God had told him; and Abraham built the altar there and arranged the wood, and bound his son Isaac and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood. Abraham stretched out his hand and took the knife to slay his son. But the angel of the Lord called to him from heaven and said, “Abraham, Abraham!” And he said, “Here I am.” He said, “Do not stretch out your hand against the lad, and do nothing to him; for now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your only son, from Me.” Then Abraham raised his eyes and looked, and behold, behind him a ram caught in the thicket by his horns; and Abraham went and took the ram and offered him up for a burnt offering in the place of his son.
The Shofar that we blow into on Rosh Hashanah in order to make the sound like a trumpet, is an amazing reminder of this story; we can be assured that God will provide for us as we choose to trust Him and walk with Him.
In Hebrew, the Feast of Trumpets is called “Yom Teruah”. The Hebrew word “teru’ah” (תרועה) comes from a root word that means “rejoicing, a loud joyful sound.” In Nehemiah 8, we read of the the Jewish people rediscovering the Torah (God’s teaching), which they had not been permitted to read or hear being read in well over seventy years of Babylonian captivity:
And all the people gathered as one man at the square which was in front of the Water Gate, and they asked Ezra the scribe to bring the book of the Torah of Moses which the LORD had given to Israel. Then Ezra the priest brought the law before the assembly of men, women and all who could listen with understanding, on the first day of the seventh month. He read from it before the square which was in front of the Water Gate from early morning until midday, in the presence of men and women, those who could understand; and all the people were attentive to the book of the Torah. Ezra the scribe stood at a wooden podium which they had made for the purpose. And beside him stood Mattithiah, Shema, Anaiah, Uriah, Hilkiah, and Maaseiah on his right hand; and Pedaiah, Mishael, Malchijah, Hashum, Hashbaddanah, Zechariah and Meshullam on his left hand. Ezra opened the book in the sight of all the people for he was standing above all the people; and when he opened it, all the people stood up. Then Ezra blessed the LORD the great God. And all the people answered, “Amen, Amen!” while lifting up their hands; then they bowed low and worshiped the LORD with their faces to the ground. Also Jeshua, Bani, Sherebiah, Jamin, Akkub, Shabbethai, Hodiah, Maaseiah, Kelita, Azariah, Jozabad, Hanan, Pelaiah, the Levites, explained the Torah to the people while the people remained in their place. They read from the book, from the Torah (Teaching and instructions) of God, translating to give the sense so that they understood the reading.
Then Nehemiah, who was the governor, and Ezra the priest and scribe, and the Levites who taught the people said to all the people, “This day is holy to the LORD your God; do not mourn or weep.” For all the people were weeping when they heard the words of the Torah. Then he said to them, “Go, eat of the fat, drink of the sweet, and send portions to him who has nothing prepared; for this day is holy to our LORD. Do not be grieved, for the joy of the LORD is your strength.” So the Levites calmed all the people, saying, “Be still, for the day is holy; do not be grieved.” All the people went away to eat, to drink, to send portions and to celebrate a great festival, because they understood the words which had been made known to them.
I love the last words of the above Scripture portion, “...because they understood the words which had been made known to them.” The people of Israel celebrated since they understood the powerful words of the Scriptures! I believe that here we see once again an amazing prophetic picture which is found in Zechariah 12:10–14, when Israel will mourn and weep as they will see the One whom we have pierced, but that the mourning will turn into incredible joy as the veil is finally lifted from our eyes, and we will understand the mystery spoken to us throughout God’s Word, that His Son, the Anointed One, was given to us for our salvation!
My dear brothers and sisters, a day is coming when the final trumpet will announce the second coming of our King, Messiah Yeshua, and we His Followers will welcome Him with great joy, celebration, and awe. Be encouraged in this time of difficult trials, and press on in His strength and peace!
May God bless you with a Shanah Tova, filled with the joy of the Lord!
Shabbat shalom and Hag Sameach,
Did you know? — Lone Soldier
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