God’s Appointed Times
by Rosh Pinah
Rosh Hashana (ראש השנה / Head of the Year)
There are certain fixed days both annually and weekly on which God promises to meet with His people in a special way.
In Leviticus 23 a cycle of worship is described which was to be observed “throughout your generations wherever you live”. The Hebrew word for this cycle is Mo’edim (Heb מועדים)/Appointed Times) and conveys the idea that God, in a sense, has a calendar. God called Israel to assemble on these days for two main reasons:
- To Remember: God’s gracious intervention in their national historical events both physically and spiritually.
- To Reflect: On each individual’s spiritual journey.
The first of these annual festivals began this year on Sept 13, 2015/Tishrei 1, 5776, God’s appointed time, at which the People of God were instructed to gather in Jerusalem on Mount Moriah, the place where the Temple once stood.
What do we remember?
In Jewish tradition it is the anniversary of the creation of the world and of the first man and woman Adam and Eve. From this we learn that our actions have significance in God’s world and that there is a special relationship between God and humanity. We are dependant on and accountable to God and we are called to represent Him in the world, created in his image.
On what do we reflect?
The central observance of Rosh Hashanah is the sounding of the shofar (שפר / ram’s horn) blown 100 times over the course of the holiday. It announces the acceptance of the Kingship of God in the world for the coming year
The cry of the shofar is also a call to repentance, for Rosh Hashanah is also the anniversary of the first sin and its effects in the world. Tishrei 1 is the first of the “Ten Days of Repentance” which culminate in Yom Kippur (Heb יום כיפור/the Day of Atonement).
Another significance of the shofar is to recall the Binding of Isaac which traditionally also occurred on Rosh Hashanah. The scripture read on this occasion is Gen. 22, which describes the binding of Isaac on Mount Moriah 2000 BCE. In this account a ram took Isaac’s place as an offering to God. Herein Abraham becomes the prototype for us of righteousness (Heb. 11) by trusting in God’s provision, and believing that God could raise Isaac from the dead. He looked forward to God’s promise to give him the land of Israel and to make him a great nation through this promised son, Isaac. (Gen. 12) The ram, caught by its horns, becomes the sacrifice by which Isaac was given back his life and a symbol of their hope in the coming Messiah.
So when we hear the shofar, we reflect on:
- A call: to repentance. – Isaiah 58
- Judgment: the coming judgment day of the Lord. – Joel 2, Rev. 4
- Resurrection: the resurrection of the dead.
- Regathering: the re gathering of Israel to the Land. – Matt. 24:31, Isa. 27:12,13
- Messiah: the coming of the Messiah. – Zach. 9
Paul also taught these themes in relation to the blowing of the shofar.
The Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, and with the voice of the Archangel and the shofar of God, and the dead in Messiah shall rise first”– 1 Thes. 4:16-18
The shofar will sound, and the dead will be raised to live forever, and we too will be changed.” – 1 Cor. 15:52
Hence in every generation, year by year we are called to remember God’s gracious provision, our personal call to trusting faithfulness to God, and our hope in Messiah’s future restoration and redemption of the world.
Rosh Hashanah observances include: Eating a piece of apple dipped in honey, to symbolize our desire for a sweet year, and other special foods symbolic of the new year’s blessings.
The traditional greeting is:
May you be inscribed for a sweet New Year”
L’shana Tovah v’m’tuchah
ומוקה תובה לשנה