This is a revised re-post celebrating and diving into the beautiful symbolism of Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year. Since Jesus was a Jew, I find it adds to the depth of my understanding of who God is when our family celebrates the Jewish Feasts as believers in Christ. It’s not something we, as believers, have to do…but something we get to do. So, let’s take a look at our roots and a little bit of this festive holiday!
My background is definitely not Jewish, but I did marry a man of Jewish lineage: a “Cohen”. In researching many of the most important celebrations of the Jewish/Messianic heritage, I have found such a depth of revelation and a desire to share this amazing heritage with our kids. And, since Jesus was a Jew, I figured there may be some worthwhile things to learn from that rich heritage!
God loves patterns and He loves a good party! From the movement of the sun and moon to the cycle of the seasons…there are patterns penetrating every aspect of our world and lives. In the Old Testament, we see how God instituted various Feasts, fasts and Sabbaths for our benefit. The primary reason given is always the same: to remember that He is the Lord…the Sabbath day is also to actually rest and remember that He is our Provider (and not us!) Fasts remind us that He is our Sustainer and His Word, our very Bread! And the Feasts remind us of specific points in time when God has shown up in a HUGE way!
Autumn is my favorite season of the year! There is so much going on and to look forward to. And now, the Fall Feasts are upon us! Our family is still working to get to where we incorporate each of these into our calendar year. But I look forward to bringing these into our family life with a creativity that honors God and reminds us of His ongoing Lordship.
So, just for fun, I’d love to share our journey and the bits I’ve learned over time. Rosh Hashanah/New Year is only days away! It is a wonderful opportunity to reflect on the previous year and to dedicate the upcoming year to God, entrusting our lives, our finances, our ministries and all that we put our hands to, to Him. The traditional foods of this celebration are sweet, in anticipation of the good things God will bring in our new year. My personal favorite is sliced apples dipped in honey!
So how is Rosh Hashanah celebrated? There are really endless methods, but I don’t believe the important thing is to focus on the method so much as it is to focus on the memorial, the remembrance of God in our lives. For example, one Rosh Hashanah, we had extended family over for a huge, intricate meal. I hand-kneaded challah bread and made multiple traditional Jewish dishes. And I learned so much about the symbolism behind them. Last year, we stepped away from the daily distractions to spend some time in nature as a family and seek God’s vision for us in this upcoming year. And, this year, we’ll have a simple meal at home with a few traditional dishes to celebrate.
You’ll see in Leviticus 23:23-25 how this celebration is also called the Feast of Trumpets. The blast of trumpets (traditionally called the “shofar”, which is seen above) every day for 30 days was a reminder to examine yourself and return to God in every area of life. A great activity for kids is to make little “trumpets” out of paper towel rolls, decorate them and let them blow their trumpets.
Whether you follow the Messianic calendar or the traditional Christian calendar, or if the primary celebrations of your year are simply Christmas and Easter, I want to encourage you to use these reoccurring holidays to remember and glorify our Lord.
By the way, Rosh Hashanah this year begins at sundown on September 4, 2013. And, if you’re interested in diving deeper into how the traditional Feasts impact us as believers today, I recommend The Torah Blessing by Larry Huch. It’s a fabulous resource with great ideas, without placing a burden of legalism on believers. Remember, it’s not about the method…it’s about establishing a memorial honoring the Lordship of God in your life.
Disclosure: This is an affiliate link which gives me a small referral commission at no extra cost to you should you choose to purchase this resource through the provided link. I want to assure you that I only recommend resources or products that I have personally found to be useful and beneficial. Thank you!
With Rosh Hashanah (the Jewish New Year) now past, the next “feast” God set in place is actually a fast, Yom Kippur, or the Day of Atonement.
So, a (hopefully) really brief history: The Day of Atonement is first mentioned in Leviticus 23:26-32. Basically what happened was the high priest would take one goat, slaughter it and sprinkle blood on the altar of sacrifice to cover up the sins of the entire nation. Then he would be washed from head to toe and put on fresh, white linen clothes and enter the innermost sanctuary…the Holiest of Holies where only he was allowed to enter one day per year. When he came out, he would take another goat, the “scapegoat” and place his hands on the animal, laying all the curses of the sins of the people on it. Then the animal was released to wander in the wilderness, symbolizing that those sins, now covered by the blood of the first sacrifice, were also forgotten by God and put far away from the people.
Okay, so this is gory and pretty gross if we take the time to really imagine the smells and sights and sounds of these sacrifices. But, what I love is that there is still relevance in remembering the Day of Atonement today.
It’s pretty easy to see that Jesus came to be our sacrifice…a perfect, one-time for all eternity, never requiring more bloodshed kind of sacrifice for us. And one fabulous thing is that His blood didn’t just cover up our sin…it actually washed it away! But He is also our High Priest. He is the only one clean enough, perfect enough, worthy enough to approach God. But He gave us a way to enter into God’s Presence, face-to-face, not only just one day a year, but everyday! He is our Intercessor and our Sacrifice.
So, Yom Kippur is, again, a time to remember God’s Lordship in our lives. It’s listed as a feast, even though it is truly a day spent fasting. But this is actually so good to remember that our real feasts in life aren’t around food, but when we feast on the Word and the Presence of God!
Traditionally, Jews have celebrated by fasting from food and work and also resting, repenting and bringing gifts to the Lord. Fasting is simply dedicating a period of time to God and purposefully denying ourselves of something that can easily be given priority over God. This could be food, internet, T.V…etc. Again, just as with Rosh Hashanah, it’s not about fulfilling a formula or performing a particular method. It’s about remembering what God has done for us and putting Him first once again. It’s about realizing that we are actually able to come face-to-face and know Him with the closeness of best friends…..spouses…..a father and his child.[In case you’re interested, Yom Kippur this year begins at sundown on September 25, 2012. And as a reminder, if you’re interested in diving deeper into how the traditional Feasts impact us as believers today, I recommend The Torah Blessing by Larry Huch. It’s a fabulous resource with great ideas, without placing a burden of legalism on believers. Remember, it’s not about the method…it’s about establishing a memorial honoring the Lordship of God in your life.]