This week we celebrated Rosh Hashanah. This is the Jewish New Year or what is termed, “Head of the year”. Ironically, it is celebrated on the first day of the seventh month (Num. 29:1, Lev. 23:24). While this may seem strange, really what is most strange is that most evangelical Christians do not have a clue about the feasts of God. We don’t understand God’s times and seaons because we live in a culture that operates on a different calendar. God’s word clearly tells us the days and times of the feasts and we should honor these times. Practicing this is not Judaism, it is simply obeying God’s word to his people. The danger is turning the feasts into a legality instead of what God intended. The times and seasons of God are intended to draw us to him, not invite religious activity. For instance, I was not raised Jewish so the traditions are foreign to me, however I do know how to read and apply God’s word. I think it is much simpler than we make it. If we say celebrating the feasts is just for Jews or a Jewish holiday (and not for the rest of us), then we could make a case that the 10 commandments are only for the Jews too. If we observe the 10 commandments are we practicing Judaism? No, we are obeying the commands of God as his people.
So, if we are to honor and celebrate the feasts of God, then how do we do that as non-Jewish people? Well, I think using common sense is a great start. Many of the types and shadows in the Old Testament are symbolic. So, I believe we should honor God’s word and his commands in a way that is possible and makes sense. It is the principle, not the legality. It would have been great to take this past Thursday off to celebrate, but I could not do that. So, what did I do? I chose to celebrate with my family on Saturday after lunch. Not with great pomp, but with simplicity – reading God’s word, explaining the feast, blowing the horn, and reflection. Wait, did I say blowing the horn! Why yes I did, let me explain. Rosh Hashanah is called the Feast of Trumpets (and with good reason). Speaking of this feast, Numbers 29 says, “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,” And in Leviticus 23, where God commands Moses on all the feasts, it states, “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 blast of trumpets, a holy convocation.’” So blowing the horn or shofar is part of this celebration. Before you cringe in social disagreement, you might want to consider that God’s word is clear about the blowing of the trumpet and Jews have been practicing this for centuries. The blowing of trumpets is known for making announcements and beginning celebrations – such as the coronation of kings, introducing royalty or declaring war. But what does the Biblical record say about blowing the trumpet?
The trumpets shall be to you for a perpetual statute throughout your generations. And when you go to war in your land against the adversary who oppresses you, then you shall sound an alarm with the trumpets, that you may be remembered before the Lord your God, and you shall be saved from your enemies. On the day of your gladness also, and at your appointed feasts and at the beginnings of your months, you shall blow the trumpets over your burnt offerings and over the sacrifices of your peace offerings. They shall be a reminder of you before your God: I am the Lord your God.” Numbers 10:8-10
Getting back to the practice of celebrating the feast, as a family we recited (read) Psalm 47. This is a fantastic way to involve everyone and understand the purpose of the celebration, expressing joy in God’s goodness. God’s calendar matters and is something we should observe. I think our Lord expects us to celebrate his goodness in practical ways and the point is never tradition, but honoring God and drawing near to him.
And finally, if we are God’s people then we should obey his commands. I find many Christians somehow think we are not required to do anything with our faith or for the God we say we love! This is sickening and not in accordance with the New Testament words of Jesus.
Clap your hands, all peoples!
Shout to God with loud songs of joy!
2 For the Lord, the Most High, is to be feared,
a great king over all the earth.
3 He subdued peoples under us,
and nations under our feet.
4 He chose our heritage for us,
the pride of Jacob whom he loves. Selah
5 God has gone up with a shout,
the Lord with the sound of a trumpet.
6 Sing praises to God, sing praises!
Sing praises to our King, sing praises!
7 For God is the King of all the earth;
sing praises with a psalm!
8 God reigns over the nations;
God sits on his holy throne.
9 The princes of the peoples gather
as the people of the God of Abraham.
For the shields of the earth belong to God;
he is highly exalted!