Rosh Hashanah/Yom Teruah

The fifth festival in the annual cycle is the first fall festival known as Rosh Hashanah, or more accurately, Yom Teruah.  Rosh Hashanah is translated as “Head of the New Year,” and is traditionally called this because it is the beginning of the Hebrew civil calendar.  Yom Teruah translates as “Day of Blasts” and is thus called because it is the day of blowing the shofar (ram’s horn).

Its institution occurred in Leviticus 23 where it is referred to as “a memorial of blowing of trumpets.”  It is traditionally observed as a memorial of the sacrifice that was ready to be made by Abraham and Isaac.  The ram’s horn is derived from the replacement sacrifice that HaShem gave to Abraham in place of his son.  It is also a remembrance of the creation of Adam and Eve (and mankind, for that matter).

The traditional belief in Judaism is that it is on this day when HaShem takes seat in His “seat of judgment,” opens the book of life and the book of death, and the proverbial “court” is open.  Over the next ten day, the people of the world will seek to atone for their wrong doings and sins from the past year, and in fear of their name being written in the book of death, seek to appeal to HaShem to write it in the book of life.  The ten days, known as the “Days of Awe,” conclude with Yom Kippur, when HaShem seals the books!

There are a number of traditional titles for this festival throughout the Hebrew society.  These include:

  1. Time of Jacob’s Trouble
  2. Awakening Blast
  3. Yom Hadin (Day of Judgment)
  4. Ha Kiddushin (Wedding of Messiah)
  5. Ha Melech (Coronation of Messiah)

All of these titles and the traditions behind them point to prophetic occurrences that are yet to come.  We will examine these in general in an effort to keep this as short as possible.

Shofar

The shofar is a ram’s horn that is blasted in the synagogues during Rosh Hashanah.  It comes from the tradition of the sacrifice replacement given by HaShem to Abraham.  There are many references to its use and purpose throughout the Bible.  Number 29:1 says:

“For you it is a day of blowing the trumpets.”

The word “blowing” here is teruah, and means sounding, shouting, rejoicing, blowing trumpets, a battle cry, or an alarm.

Psalm 47:5

“God has gone up with a shout (teruah).”

1 Thessalonians 4:16

“For the LORD Himself will descend from heaven with a shout (teruah), with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God.”

From this verse in Thessalonians, we can see that it will be at the sounding of the shofar when the Master returns to us.  The shofar is strictly related to this fall festival, so it makes sense that the return of Messiah refers to Rosh Hashanah.  Further, in Zechariah 9 while prophesying the return of Messiah and the restoration of Israel, we find the passage:

“The LORD God will blow the trumpet (shofar).”

The shofar plays an integral part in our understanding of the timing of the Master’s return.  It is critical that we hear the shofar blasts on Rosh Hashanah, and understand it’s importance.  The book of Revelation is filled with trumpet blasts, as are the rest of the apocalyptic prophecies.  It is a central theme to our “dress rehearsal” for the Messianic Kingdom here on Earth.

Psalm 89:15

“Blessed are the people who know the joyful sound (teruah)! They walk, O LORD, in the light of Your countenance.”

Jacob’s Trouble

In Jeremiah 30 we read:

“For thus says the LORD: ‘We have heard a voice of trembling, of fear, and not of peace.  Ask now, and see, Whether a mans is ever in labor with child?  So why do I see every man with his hands on his loins like a woman in labor, and all faces turned pale?  Alas!  For that day is great, so that none is like it; and it is the time of Jacob’s trouble, but he shall be saved out of it.’”

Of course, we understand that Jacob, mentioned here, is Israel.  So this prophecy is about a time of tribulation for the nation of Israel.  This prophecy also says that Israel will be saved from this day of trouble, or the “Tribulation,” as it is known in Christianity.  Notice that the prophecy found in Jeremiah pairs this tribulation period with the imagery of being in labor (birth pains)!  In Judaism, this end times period leading up to the restoration of the Jewish people is known as “the birth pangs of Messiah.”  Throughout many of the prophecies of the end times, we find that this reference to being in labor, or labor pains, is used!  For example, Isaiah 26:17 says:

“As a woman with child is in pain and cries out in her pangs..”

Isaiah 13:6-8:

“Wail, for the day of the LORD is at hand!  It will come as destruction from the Almighty.  Therefore all hands will be limp, every man’s heart will melt, and they will be afraid.  Pangs and sorrows will take hold of them; they will be in pain as a woman in childbirth; they will be amazed at one another; their faces will be like flames.”

Another very interesting prophecy about the end of times is found in Daniel 12, verse 1, which says:

“At that time Michael shall stand up, the great prince who stands watch over the sons of your people; and there shall be a time of trouble (Jacob’s trouble, birth pangs, etc.), such as never was since there was a nation, even to that time.  And at that time your people shall be delivered, everyone who is found written in the book.”

This is a very interesting comment about the “book,” since we learned earlier that Rosh Hashanah is traditionally the day that HaShem opens the book of life and the book of death for review!

Furthermore, in Zephaniah’s prophecy about these end times, we read:

“The great day of the LORD is near; It is near and hastens quickly.  The noise of the day of the LORD is bitter; there the mighty men shall cry out.  That days is a day of wrath, a day of trouble and distress, a day of devastation and desolation, a day of darkness and gloominess, a day of clouds and thick darkness, a day of trumpet (shofar) and alarm (teruah) against the fortified cities and against the high towers.”

This verse links the tribulation period with the shofar and the Day of Alarm, or teruah.

Of course, the book of Revelation is the “go to” book in the Bible when searching for “end times” prophecies.  It is filled with imagery of trumpets and days of trouble!  The book of Daniel would be a very close second!  Let’s take a look at some of the prophecies in these two books.

Revelation 17:1

“Then one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls came and talked with me, saying to me, ‘Come, I will show you the judgment of the great harlot who sits on many waters…’”

Daniel 11:31

“Those who do wickedly against the covenant he (antichrist) shall corrupt with flattery; but the people who know their God shall be strong, an carry out great exploits.”

Here I have underlined a couple of descriptive words we will keep in mind when cross-examining these verses with another prophecy interestingly found in the book of Proverbs (you probably never thought Proverbs was a prophetic book!!).

Proverbs 7:1-15

“My son, keep my words, and treasure my commands within you.  Keep my commands and live, and my law as the apple of your eye.  Bind them on your fingers; write them on the tablet of your heart.  Say to wisdom, ‘You are my sister,’ and call understanding your nearest kin, that they may keep you from the immoral woman, from the seductress who flatters with her words.  For at the window of my house I looked through my lattice, and saw among the simple, I perceived among the youths, a young man devoid of understanding, passing along the street near her corner; and he took the path to her house in the twilight, in the evening, in the black and dark night.  And there a woman met him, with the attire of a harlot, and a craft heart.  She was loud and rebellious, her feet would not stay at home.  At times she was outside, at times in the open square, lurking at every corner.  So she caught him and kissed him; with an impudent face she said to him: “I have peace offerings with me; today I have paid my vows. So I came out to meet you, diligently to seek your face, and I have found you.”

When placed with the prophecies in Revelation and Daniel, it becomes more clear that Proverbs 7 is referring to this same harlot!  Notice that it is in keeping the commandments of God that will enable a person to keep from this harlot.  Also, the fact that she had peace offerings and has “paid her vows” suggests that she is somehow religious in nature.

In Mark chapter 13, Yeshua is telling about a coming kingdom.  He says in verse 34:

“It is like a man going to a far country, who left his house and gave authority to his servants..”

In this verse, the prophecy of the Kingdom of Heaven is likened to “a man on a journey.”  Again in Matthew chapter 25, he likens it to “a man traveling to a far country.”  Let’s now go back to Proverbs 7 and fill in the pieces:

“For my husband (in the Bible, Yeshua is referred to as the bridegroom, or husband) is not at home; he has gone on a long journey; he has taken a bag of money with him, and will come home on the appointed day.”

In this verse, the word used for “day” is keseh, which literally means the full moon.  This is a reference to the Feast of Tabernacles, which we will learn about later.

When all of these prophecies are combined, we can more clearly see that at the end of this tribulation period the Master will return.  We are to hold to HaShem’s commandments so we will not be taken by this “harlot,” and will be ready for the troubled times.

In Matthew 16:3, Yeshua says to the Pharisees:

“Hypocrites!  You know how to discern the face of the sky, but you cannot discern the signs of the times.”

These times He was referring to are the coming end times.  In Luke 19, Yeshua actually rebukes those who could not discern the signs of the times!

Awakening Blast

Going back to Daniel 12, in verse 2 we read:

“And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, some to shame and everlasting contempt.”

This is one of many prophecies throughout the Bible about, what is called in Christianity, the rapture.  This event in Daniel happens at the sounding of the shofar, or Rosh Hashanah.  1 Thessalonians 4:16 is a parallel prophecy which says:

“For the LORD Himself will descend from heaven with a shout (teruah), with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet (shofar) of God.  And the dead in Christ will rise first.  Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air.”

In traditional Judaism, three of the main festivals are referred to as trumps.  Pentecost is called the “First Trump,” Rosh Hashanah is called the “Final Trump,” and Yom Kippur is the “Great Trump.”  In 1 Corinthians 15:52, Paul says:

“… in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet.  For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.”

In Matthew 24, Yeshua is asked about the timing of His return.  He responds by saying:

“But of that day and hour no one knows…”

Of all the festivals, there is only one (Yom Teruah) which falls on the new moon, or the first of the month.  This becomes a very important detail when you learn about the history of the calendar in ancient Jerusalem.  When a new month was soon to begin, scouts would be sent out to watch for the sign of the new moon, which would be a tiny sliver.  It was then that the new month was declared.  For the Jews in the diaspora though (dispersed outside of Israel), they would have to wait for a messenger sent from Jerusalem, or watch for fire signals that were lit across the lands.  This process of getting word of the new month would take, at the least, an entire day.  With this in mind, by the time the word got to them about the new month, they would have already missed the observance of Rosh Hashanah.  Therefore, the authorities in Jerusalem declared the festival a two day event, but was still considered as “one long day.”  Because of this un-assurance as to when this festival would begin, in the diaspora, Rosh Hashanah became known as “the festival in which no one knows the day or the hour.”  Very interesting!!!

Day of Judgment

During Rosh Hashanah, we attempt to appeal to HaShem to place our names in the book of life, and if it’s found in the book of death, then this is our chance to seek atonement for the sins in order to be switched to the book of life.  In heaven, HaShem takes His seat of judgment, and begins his review!  Thus, this festival is called the “Day of Judgment.”  2 Corinthians 5 describes this well:

“For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.”

Interestingly enough, this very image is presented in the book of Daniel.

“I watched till thrones were put in the place, and the Ancient of Days was seated; His garment was white as snow, and the hair of His head was like pure wool.  His throne was a fiery flame, its wheels a burning fire;  a fiery stream issued and came forth from before Him.  A thousand thousands ministered to Him; ten thousand times ten thousand stood before Him.  The court was seated, and the books were opened.”

We see this same wording used in Revelation 5:

“Then I looked, and I heard the voice of many angels around the throne, the living creatures, and the elders; and the number of the was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands…”

Later in Revelation 20, we read more about this:

“Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away.  And there was found no place for them.  And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God, and books were opened.  And another book was opened, which is the Book of Life.”

Going back to Zephaniah 1, we read:

“The great day of the LORD is near; it is near and hastens quickly.  The noise of the LORD is bitter; there the mighty men shall cry out.  That day is a day of wrath, a day of trouble and distress, a day of devastation and desolation, a day of darkness and gloominess, a day of clouds and thick darkness, a day of trumpet (shofar) and alarm (teruah) against the fortified cities and against the high towers.”

Now let’s continue reading further in chapter 2, verses 1-3:

“Gather yourselves together, yes, gather together, O undesirable nation, before the decree is issued, or the day passes like chaff, before the LORD’s fierce anger comes upon you, before the day of the LORD’s anger comes upon you!  Seek the LORD, all you meek of the earth, who have upheld His justice.  Seek righteousness, seek humility.  It may be that you will be hidden in the day of the LORD’s anger.”

What the church calls “the rapture,” the Biblical prophecy here calls being hidden from the day of the LORD’s anger, which we now know will happen on Rosh Hashanah.

There are many other aspects of this festival that I could go over, and maybe will soon, but hopefully you’re getting the picture!  One last note of great importance:  also, traditionally, Yom Teruah is annually the day in which we coronate the Messiah as the King of the Universe!  This is why the traditional challah bread is made round in the shape of a crown.  Naturally, it will also be the day that “all will declare that Christ is LORD!”

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