In Rabbinical literature Rosh Hashanah is considered the second most solemn day of the year. The most important is the Day of Atonement. The famous Rabbi Akibah wrote, “On New Year’s Day all men are judged; and the decree is sealed on the Day of Atonement; Rosh Hashanah is the Day of Judgment. The Rabbis teach that each year at this time, in preparation for the Day of Atonement, 3 books are opened before God.
The names of those who are righteous are written in one book, and they are sealed for everlasting life. The wicked are blotted out of the book of the living and sometime during this following year they will die and their souls will be placed in the book of Death. Those whose names are not found in the either The Book of the Righteous or the Book of the Dead are given a respite of 10 days. These 10 days are known as the 10 days of Awe. Let’s consider what the Bible teaches.
The most significant aspect of Rosh Hashanah is the blowing of the Shofar. God speaks of this day in Leviticus 23:23-24. The first mention in Scripture of the Rams horn is found in Exodus 19:13,19 and is associated with the giving of the Law on Mt. Sinai. The blowing of the Shofar was God’s method of calling His Chosen people into the privileges of the Covenant. It was used by Israel for the calling of: Assemblies; Alarms; to Begin Journeys; and on New Moons & Holy Days, when it was blown over the sacrifices.
What should the blowing of the shofar mean to us? What should we who are Believer’s be reminded of when we blow the Shofar? Maimonides (Rambam) writes: “There is a message implicit in the Command to blow the Shofar on Rosh Hashanah … “Sleepers awake from your sleep!”
Search your deeds and return (tshuva) and remember your creator. Look to your souls; Let each one of you abandon your ways and deeds and your thoughts which were not good.” These words bring to mind those spoken by our Messiah in Revelation 2:3-4;3:3. As we hear the Shofar this year we would do well to be reminded that:
1. God is our King
2. To be exhorted to repentance.
3. That we are called to obedience.
4. That our King is coming soon.
1. The Shofar is reminder to us that God is our King – Rosh Hashanah according to tradition marks the anniversary of the creation of the world.
In ancient times Kings would blow trumpets to mark the anniversary of when their reign began. So too in like manner are we called to remember our King, who also is our judge (Psalm 98:1-6). Note Psalm 98:6 where we learn that He will judge the world in righteousness and the peoples with equity. This is most significant when we consider this in the light of 1 Samuel 8:4-7;8:19-20 where Israel rejected God as their King.
This promised King of Israel was spoken of by the prophets in Isaiah and Zechariah. This promised King has come. The prophets foretold that we would reject this King. However from the time he came to today we have the opportunity to allow Him and His Kingdom to reign in their hearts. The Peace and Joy of His Kingdom can be ours if we will allow this Eternal King Yeshua to be King in our lives.
2. This reign of the King will come if we will respond to the call of the Shofar to Repentance. As all Jews begin the 10 days of Awe seeking to be written in the Book of Life by doing Tsuvah so we are reminded that entrance into the kingdom of God is entered into only by way of repentance. Ezekiel 33:1-11 is a call to repentance. The Scriptures clearly teach that all of us are separated from God because of our sins consider Isaiah 59:1‑2.
The Jewish prophet Isaiah taught that One would come upon whom our sins would be transferred. As the Passover Lamb and later the Sacrificed Lambs were substitutes, so too would One come like a Lamb (Isaiah 53:6). Jesus is this Lamb (John 1:29). So when we hear the Shofar we are called to Repent. And to understand that our sin was placed upon God’s perfect Lamb. And so it shall be that if we repent we will receive the comfort of the King of Kings.
3. The Shofar is a reminder that we are called to obedience and personal sacrifice. The concept of personal sacrifice is taught in the Synagogue with the lesson to the Akaida which in Hebrew means “the binding”. The Akaida is the story of the binding of Isaac upon the altar by Abraham. We who have come to faith in Yeshua as Savior are also called to acknowledge Him as our Lord. We, Like Isaac are called to surrender our lives. In losing our Lives we shall find it (Genesis 22:7-9;Matthew 16:25-26;Romans 12:1-2). When we hear the blast of the Shofar we too should be reminded that we are called to a personal sacrifice.
4. The Blowing of the Shofar is a reminder that the King is Coming Back. First He is coming back for Believers (John 14:1-3;1 Corinthians 15:50-52). Then following a period of Great Tribulation for Israel He is coming to Judge the Nations and Save the survivors of the Battles against Israel (Zechariah 12:1-3,9‑10).
The Shofar is a call to all of us gathered here.
A call to remember that God is our King.
A call to repentance.
A call to obedience and the laying down of our lives
And a call that the King is coming again soon.