Messianic Rabbi Ariel ben-Lyman HaNaviy
(Note: all quotations are taken from the Complete Jewish Bible, translation by David H. Stern, Jewish New Testament Publications, Inc., unless otherwise noted)
"ADONAI said to Moshe, "Tell the people of Isra’el: ‘The designated times of ADONAI which you are to proclaim as holy convocations are my designated times."
With the coming of the fall part of the year, comes the final series of festivals, as detailed in our theme passage of Leviticus twenty-three. In rabbinical thinking, these last festivals are known as the "season of t’shuvah", the season of our repentance. Many scholarly studies have been done on the feasts of HaShem. To be sure, I would recommend that the serious student go back and conduct further research on his own, consulting various rabbinical commentaries and such, to gain an accurate and complete historical perspective on these feasts. However, these present commentaries are not designed to be a comprehensive work on the feasts, rather, I only want to supply the reader with some Messianic insights which I believe will enhance the average reader’s knowledge of Biblical things.
As previously mentioned in the overview, the Feasts of HaShem are meant to serve as daily, monthly, and yearly reminders of the wonderful historical plans that HaShem has for mankind. We in the Church usually only think of the feasts as past requirements that the Jews had to obey. Requirements which are now, somehow, spiritually fulfilled in the work of the Messiah Yeshua, and consequently, no longer pertinent for the non-Jewish believer. In a small way, the Church is not entirely wrong. Yeshua did come to bring to their fullest meaning, the feasts that are listed in Leviticus twenty-three. Yet I’m here to explain to the readers, the greater significance that HaShem had in mind when he instituted these holy gatherings. I wanted to reiterate some of the things that I commented about in the overview again, as we are entering into the final time period of the feast outline of Leviticus.
"ADONAI said to Moshe, "Tell the people of Isra’el, ‘In the seventh month, the first of the month is to be for you a day of complete rest for remembering, a holy convocation announced with blasts on the shofar. Do not do any kind of ordinary work, and bring an offering made by fire to ADONAI.’" (Leviticus 23:23-25)
As the name of this commentary states, Yom T’ruah is another of the "designated meeting times" that the people of HaShem were to remember and meet on. In this particular case, Yom T’ruah was a day just for "meeting" and "remembering". The literal verse of instruction that I quoted reads just that way. The Hebrew word for day is "yom", while the Hebrew word for trumpet or ram’s horn is "shofar". The Torah instructs Am Yisra’el (the people of Isra’el) to commemorate this first day of the Hebrew month Tishrei with blasts from the shofar. This blast is called "t’ruah".
Your calendar probably calls this day "Rosh HaShanah". This name literally means "Head of the Year", from the Hebrew words "rosh" meaning "head" or "beginning", and "shanah" meaning "year". It gained this title when the rabbis created the civil calendar to be used by all Jews living in the Land of Isra’el. It eventually became the standard for all Jews everywhere. A religious calendar was already in effect when this change took place. Rather than replace the religious one, the rabbis simple adjusted it, making the beginning of the months Tishrei, instead of Nissan. This day has many significant themes attached to it. I want to list the other names of this feast, and then quickly explain the Messianic significance to each one. In this way, I believe the non-Jewish reader can quickly identify with the Scriptures and the People of Isra’el.
Names, Themes, and Hebrew Idioms associated with Rosh HaShanah:
1. Season of T’shuvah this title, borrowed from the proximity of this particular feast to the Day of Atonement, suggest the attitude that is assumed during this most important time of the year. The Jewish nation as a whole wanted to spiritually prepare their heats to meet their Creator on the Day of Atonement, hence the title given to the entire time period. As believers in Messiah, we already recognize the significance of his effectual blood sacrifice, thus we too can appreciate the state of mind that Nation of Isra’el was trying to reach. Because many Jewish people as of yet do not have a personal relationship with Yeshua, I feel that their attitude during this time is appropriate, as, according to rabbinical belief, the Messiah could come to vindicate his chosen people during this season.
2. Rosh HaShanah as previously stated, this day is recognized and celebrated as the head of the Jewish Calendar year.
3. Yom T’ruah because the Torah explicitly commanded Am Yisra’el to sound the shofar on this day, it is called by this name. In Hebrew thought, a shofar is used to sound an "awakening blast" to the listener.
Sometimes the call was to assemble, while at other times, the call was to war. In the case of the latter, usually a trumpet was used, instead of the traditional ram’s horn. At any rate, the rabbis taught that the sound that the shofar made during this time period was to awaken the sleeping sinner from his spiritual slumber, and challenge him to make t’shuvah, repentance, unto the LORD his God. Because of this, Yom T’ruah is better translated as "Day of the Awakening Blast". A spiritual call to assembly was what the writer of the New Covenant had in mind, when he penned the famous words in 1 Thessalonians 4:13-17. That quite a few believing Gentiles and Messianic Jews (myself included) teach that our Messiah could return on or around this season, is no small secret. We would do well to study this feast more in our non-Jewish Church settings.
4. Yom haDin translates as "The Day of judgment". On this day, the Chazal (Sages of Antiquity) believed that three great books in heaven were opened, and HaShem the Almighty Judge would weigh each man’s worth (Talmud, Rosh HaShanah 6b). During this time period, all of the dead was raised to face the Ancient of Days, linking this day also to the great time period of resurrection. This is quite possibly the time period that Dani’el was referring to in Chapter 7, verse 10, of his book. Also the apocalyptic author John made references to books in Revelation 20:12-15.
5. Chevlai shel Mashiach translated as "the Birthpangs of the Messiah". This final theme associated with Yom T’ruah is a much-repeated one throughout the Torah, especially in the prophets. The idea that one day there would be a great time of trouble on the earth, focusing primarily on the Nation of Isra’el as a people, is a major theme even in some New Covenant passages. Perhaps the most well known passage comes from the book of Jeremiah. In 30:4-7, the prophet speaks of the coming time of dread and terror as likened to a woman in the pains of childbirth. In other words, the Torah suggests that one day, most likely before the Messiah returns, the peoples of the world, and the Nation of Isra’el in particular will have to suffer a horrendous time of "birthing". This "birthing" is necessary for the Messiah to be "born". The language here can be confusing if you fail to remember that this is very figurative writing here. The authors employ heavy uses of real life images to convey what they are seeing in the Spirit. We know that Messiah was already born once. Yet, in a spiritual sense, the Torah teaches that all of creation is still waiting for him to be "born". For in this second "birth", the new heavens and the new earth will finally come forth also.
What can all of these different names and such teach us about the nature and purposes of HaShem? Our God is in the business of calling men back to himself. In order to get man to realize his fallen spiritual state he sometimes needs reminders. The Torah says of itself, in Psalm 19:11, that by it’s words "your servant is warned". Warned of what? Of the impending doom that is to befall all of the evil of mankind and the deeds that he does. Within this warning is a message of mercy; the time to repent is now! Turn to HaShem with your whole heart, cry out for his mercy, beg for his forgiveness in pardoning your sin, and receive his atonement! There used to be a time when the average person living within the community of Isra’el could bring an offering to the LORD, and the LORD would forgive him. To be sure, we will discuss that time period known as Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement) in our next commentary on the Mikra’ey Kodesh. But history and the Torah record that our Great High Priest Yeshua changed all of that. Today, if it is the mercy, forgiveness, and atonement of HaShem that you seek, then accept Yeshua as your Savior, and your will find those things! You don’t have to wait until Yom Kippur to pursue atonement. Yeshua offers it freely today, to anyone who will put his or her trusting faithfulness in him!
"Besides all of this, you know at what point of history we stand; so it is high time for you to rouse yourselves from sleep; for the final deliverance is nearer than when we first came to trust. The night is almost over, the day is almost here. So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and arm ourselves with the weapons of light." (Romans 13:11, 12)
Sah-meach Yom T’ruah!"
For further study, read: Leviticus 23:24, 25; Numbers 10:10; Nehemiah 8:1-3; Psalm 47:5; 81:1-4; 89:15; 98:6; Isaiah 26:19; 58:1; Joel 2:1, 2; Zechariah 12:10; Matthew 24:8, 31; 1 Corinthians 15:12-58; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18