Can you hear the trumpets?
(Image: screenshot YouTube)
A big meal is planned for tonight, and all over Israel kitchens are buzzing with activity and festive tables are being set up in most homes as families prepare to get together all across the country to celebrate Rosh Hashanah together, the “Jewish New Year,” on the first day of the seventh month of the biblical calendar. Yet, while our mailboxes are being filled with electronic holiday greeting cards and our calendars recognize the occasion, many Israelis don’t really know what they are celebrating at all during Rosh Hashanah on this first day of the month of Tishrei.
In fact, our Hebraic ancestors in biblical times not only DID NOT observe the date the way we do it today, but probably had no clear idea regarding any New Year’s celebration at all other than recognizing that the Passover month was the first month of the year as recorded in Exodus 12. The rest of the months were simply named second, third, fifth, seventh and so on, and the only biblical observance of a “New” anything was the “New Moon” cycle, announcing the start of a new lunar month to the population of ancient Israel.
Nowhere in the bible were our ancestors commanded to celebrate Rosh Hashanah. And while extra biblical traditions conceived and placed this holiday on the first day of the month of Tishrei, the seventh biblical month, this date was actually assigned by God much earlier, through Moses, for a different biblical feast all together: the “Feast of Trumpets.” The historical fact is that Rosh Hashanah’s traditions originated during our Babylonian exile and following centuries, when Israel was distant from the land and from God, yet this made-up modern holiday nearly replaced the biblical commandment regarding the observance of the fifth feast God commanded Israel to keep, Tabernacles, incorporating the blowing of the trumpets among the new, man-made traditions.
As all students of the Bible know, there are seven feasts God commanded Israel to observe: Passover, Unleavened Bread, First Fruits, Pentecost, Trumpets, Day of Atonement and Tabernacles, all pointing to (1) God’s plan of world redemption and (2) His Anointed Servant, our Messiah (Leviticus 23). Concerning the fifth feast, Trumpets, the book of Leviticus 23:24-25 says “Speak to the children of Israel, saying: ‘In the seventh month, on the first day of the month, you shall have a Sabbath-rest, a memorial of blowing of trumpets, a holy convocation. You shall do no customary work on it; and you shall offer an offering made by fire to the LORD.’”
Blowing of trumpets and keeping a Sabbath rest are the only instructions given us for this fifth feast of God, and the blowing was for a remembrance. A remembrance of what? Perhaps Trumpets is a call to remember the true state of our being, humanity’s great need of divine help and mercy, and set our hearts and minds in preparation toward the two upcoming and final feasts of God. As the Day of Atonement and the Feast of Tabernacles soon arrive, carrying in their wings the prophetic weight of the divine plan and purpose, all God’s children must seek to comprehend their message and examine our hearts in light of their severity and eternal impact.
Many in the Messianic community today believe that the Day of Atonement (sixth feast) points toward Israel’s national repentance and redemption (Zechariah 12), and that the Feast of Tabernacles (seventh feast) speaks of Messiah’s reign on earth (Zechariah 14). These feasts arrive in fast succession following the blowing of the Trumpets, and the entire prophetic season lasts only 21 days from beginning to end, culminating in the fulfillment of all of God’s seven feasts; the unfolding of the mystery of Messiah; and the coming of His Kingdom to earth.
Thank God that He gave us the Feast of Trumpets to celebrate today, providing a needed reminder and a wake-up call urging all who have ears to hear to prepare and look expectantly for these promised world changing events.
WHERE DID ROSH HASHANAH COME FROM?
While Rosh Hashanah doesn’t appear anywhere in the Bible, we need to recall that Jewish religious practices greatly changed during the Babylonian exile. By the time Ezra and Nehemiah led the exiles back to Judea to restore the national and spiritual life in the Promised Land, things changed a lot. Now the months of Israel were not named first, second, third, and so on; rather each month now boasted a Babylonian name, and the seventh month was called Tishrei, a derivative of the Akkadian word tishritu, meaning “beginning.” Not only that, but the Babylonians took their New Year’s celebrations very seriously with remarkable events and festivities going on for 12 consecutive days. It appears the Jewish exiles brought back with them not only pagan wives as recorded in Ezra chapter 10, but also pagan practices.
Nowhere in the Second Temple period literature is there any mention of “Rosh Hashanah,” and the holiday only appears in rabbinic writings starting from the third century AD. These writings deal with the holiday’s observance and many (extra biblical) details, with great attention given to the theme of entering the “Days of Awe,” the 10-day purging and cleansing period leading up to the Day of Atonement; a theme that is actually biblically sound.
The blowing of the silver trumpets mentioned in the scriptures was replaced with a blowing of the shofar, a horn, usually of a ram. Consolidating various blowing traditions from different Jewish communities, today we have the Tekiah (a long blow), the shevarim (three consecutive blows), and the teruah (nine fast blasts), all sounding at different times throughout the day, rounded up to 100 blows total.
Additional traditions were added over the centuries as different rabbinical schools needed to place their own mark on the new holiday. Today we find Rosh Hashanah featuring fish head dishes (getting “ahead” during the new year); honey, sweet bread and fruit (hoping for a sweet year); pomegranates (based on the erroneous notion that it has 613 seeds as the number of the commandments in the Law); and Tashlikh, the practice of emptying one’s pockets into the sea, river or a well, symbolizing getting rid of one’s sins. Abundant superstitions!
SO WHAT SHOULD WE DO TODAY?
Enjoy Rosh Hashanah with your family and friends, but do not neglect the real, biblical, and Spirit breathed observance of the Feast of Trumpets. And let us remember the apostolic warning, saying, “Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Messiah. For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily; and you are complete in Him, who is the head of all principality and power…“
“And you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses… So let no one judge you in food or in drink, or regarding a festival or a new moon or Sabbaths, which are a shadow of things to come, but the substance is of Messiah.” (Colossians 2:8-17).
The Lord Yeshua Himself rebuked the religious leaders of His day, confronting their practices of “making the word of God of no effect through your tradition which you have handed down…” Matthew 7:13.
May God’s fifth feast of Trumpets strengthen and cleanse our hearts as we seek His face in preparation for the sixth and seventh feasts, Atonement and Tabernacles. They are right around the corner.
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Parashat Nitzavim: The hidden Torah and the visible Torah
Read the teaching below, or watch a video of the teaching by Yehuda Bachana.
This Shabbat we study Parashat Nitzavim, which is a rather short portion. In fact, all the upcoming weekly Torah portions are concise, however, the excitement builds up towards the completion and the restarting of the weekly Torah reading cycle.
We, together with all the people of Israel, are excited because the holidays of Tishrei are coming up. We are just about to celebrate Rosh Hashanah, which is the first of the appointed times.
The Personal Aspect of the Covenant
In Parashat Nitzavim, Moses declared that the people of Israel were making a covenant with God. All were considered equal and all were to stand together; this applies to the past generations as well as those to come.
Sometimes we think about our personal relationship with God and what Yeshua did for us. I often contemplate how Yeshua released me personally from the burden of the Torah, or at least from the punishments mentioned in it.
Indeed, the covenant is with individuals, but these individuals are all a part of the whole, they are part of the people of Israel. In other words, God was and is making a covenant with all the people of Israel. If I am a part of the Jewish people, than this covenant still applies to me.
Yeshua redeemed me personally, but I am still part of Israel, and due to this I am also part of the covenant.
The Torah Applies to All of the People of Israel as a Whole
If we, the people of Israel, leave the path of God and transgress the covenant, then we will receive the curse; this includes the believers. In fact, we are also to blame, we have not been successful enough in shining the light of the Messiah, the gospel, and the Torah. We did not succeed in being a good influence.
We can see this form of thought woven throughout the stories of the Bible. When the people sinned and got punished, the prophets, the priests, and even those who remained faithful to God suffered and were killed.
The culture we live in today encourages us to think that we live in a personal bubble, that we are the center of the world. This ideology can also be seen with believers today. We have become accustomed to the thought of personal salvation – it’s me and my God.
In my opinion, there is a core concept that must be changed so that we can truly be tools in the hands of God. This is the concept of the overall salvation of the nation, as opposed to the salvation of the individual.
Each person or small group decides what he feels that God wants from him on a personal basis.
The approach that we must adopt is that the gospel is intended for society as a whole.
For example in Israel, we need a vision that suits the entire Jewish people. We have a mutual responsibility like what is found in the saying that ended up becoming one of the foundations of Jewish culture: “All Israel is responsible for each other.” We are responsible to pay the debt.
Each member of the people of Israel took upon himself to pay the debts or the sins of his fellow man.
We are All Responsible for Each Other’s Sins
Last week we read in Deuteronomy 27 about the commandment to stand on Mount Gerizim and Mount Eival in order to perform a ceremony in which the people committed themselves to the covenant of the Torah.
The Biblical understanding is that we have a collective responsibility of each and every member of the nation of Israel, including the sins of others. The example of this is Achan’s sin, when he took some of the loot which was forbidden, and as a result, innocent individuals died in battle. This story appears in chapters 7 and 8 of Joshua.
The Bible mentions the sin of Achan in a general and collective way:
“The Lord said to Joshua… Israel has sinned; they have violated my covenant, which I commanded them to keep. They have taken some of the devoted things; they have stolen, they have lied, they have put them with their own possessions. That is why the Israelites cannot stand against their enemies…” – Joshua 7:10a-12a [NIV]
Should We Take Responsibility Only for Public Sins?
Now, there is a disagreement among the sages of Israel on this matter: does this responsibility apply only for public sins or also for hidden sins that no one knows about?
The accepted view today is that we must take responsibility only for the public sins, and even then there is no punishment. That is unless a person was able to protest the sin, but he did not do so.
This issue brings us to the verse that serves as a summary for this covenant:
“The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may follow all the words of this law.” – Deuteronomy 29:29 [NIV]
The Hidden Meanings Found in the Torah
In the original Hebrew text found in the Torah, there is a dot above each letter in the words “to us and to our children forever.” No one knows what exactly these dots mean.
Most likely there is a secret hidden within these mysterious markings.Perhaps this means that what is hidden from us, the hidden sins, are revealed to God. It is also possible that the Torah has a hidden side and a visible side: the visible side being the practical commandments and the hidden side as the secrets of the Torah that are revealed only to those who seek God.
In my opinion, this verse asks us to understand the reasons behind the commandments, and to understand the intention of the Torah. On one hand, the whole chapter deals with keeping the Torah and the reward that will follow if you do so. On the other hand, however, there are numerous punishments that will follow if we breach the covenant and choose not to observe the Torah.
The question is, what is the proper observance of the commandments of the Torah? Do we have to know the entire Torah with all of its secrets? Or is it enough to fulfill it only in its clear plain meaning?
I think we can explore, think, pray, and examine the secrets but this is indeed between us and God. The revealed are the actions and things that the Torah commands us to do or to avoid, and they are an obligation for us and our children.
The Torah and the Commandments are Attainable
In our parasha, Moses made two important statements: the first is that we do not know all the secrets of heaven, which is ok. We must leave what is hidden to God and act honestly in the visible plane.
The second important statement of Moses is that the truth is attainable, the Torah and the commandments alike. This includes the will of God, which is close, clear, attainable, and available.
The Long Journey to Find Treasure
I will end with a short story:
There was a man who dreamt of finding a treasure buried under a bridge. After having this same dream repeatedly, he decided to get up and go on a journey for hundreds of kilometers in order to reach that same bridge and the treasure hidden beneath it.
After many days of a difficult journey, he finally reached the bridge. He approached it slowly, examining it carefully, when suddenly a stranger approached him and asked him what he was doing. When he heard the story, the stranger bursted into laughter and said: “So what if you had a dream?! I also dreamt that somewhere there lived a man named…” and here the stranger mentioned the exact name and address of that person. “…under whose kitchen there is a treasure. Do you think I’d just go off on such a long journey just to find some dream treasure?”
The man, who had wandered such a long way, suddenly turned around and went home. When he arrived, he dug in his kitchen floor and found the treasure.
This is a well-known Hasidic story, and can be understood and explained in several ways: It can be understood as a parable for every Torah student who goes far to study the word of God. The meaning behind it is that the treasure was already in his possession. He must dig in his house and within himself in the spiritual sense in order to find his treasure. In other words, only the person himself can decide to follow God. The rabbi, pastor, or leader cannot save you.
“Now what I am commanding you today is not too difficult for you or beyond your reach. It is not up in heaven… Nor is it beyond the sea… No, the word is very near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart so you may obey it.” – Deuteronomy 30:11-14 [NIV]
One does not have to look for the answer overseas or in the heavens, nor does one need to consult with the rabbi or pastor. The answer lies solely within us.
It is also possible to interpret this story in the opposite way: we must go out and search for the meaning of life, in order to understand that the treasure is at home. Sometimes we have to go to the end of the world to understand that the real treasure can be found right under our noses.
I want to end with the blessing of a happy holiday and a Happy Jewish New Year!
May we all start the year with renewed hope. My prayer is that God will bless the new year with health and mercy. May it be a blessing to the family, and a blessing to the community. I pray that God will bless the work of our hands and our lives, that we will always walk in the light of Yeshua the Messiah. May this year be a year of success, productivity, and faith. I pray this in the name above all names, the name of Yeshua the Messiah.
This article originally appeared on Netivyah and is reposted with permission.
The teachings of Messiah Yeshua in a Jewish context. Netivyah is an Israeli non-profit organization that teaches God's Word and helps those in need.
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Feast of Trumpets heralds Good News in Israel
Just as people commonly take stock and think about the course of their lives at the beginning of January, so Israelis take time to reflect each time the Feast of Trumpets comes around.
Jewish and Messianic communities around the world celebrate the Feast of Trumpets by eating sweet foods, typically apples dipped in honey which symbolize a sweet year, and by hearing the stirring noise of the shofar being blown. We have a holiday from work, and wish each other ‘Shana Tova’ (a good year), even though it’s not really the new year according to the Bible – it points to the ultimate, last trumpet of Yeshua’s return! But until that time, each year, we take the opportunity to stand back to take a look at how far we’ve come… and where we are headed.
We invite you to take a look back with us, but to see it all through the eyes of faith in the Messiah and in his word.
God has truly brought his people back to the land, and is continuing to gather them in. There are now more Jews in Israel than in any other country. Of the 14.7 million Jewish people in the world, 6.625 million are living in Israel, just about 75% of Israel’s total population of 8.9 million. The remaining quarter are Muslim and Christian Arabs (21%) and just under 5% are Druze, non-Arab Christians, and other minorities.
We are seeing great steps forward in reaching both the Jewish population and also the Arabic speaking populations with the gospel primarily through media, and many are responding! Our evangelistic videos have been viewed well over 10 million times (that’s more than there are Israelis!) and we are contacted on average every two hours by someone wanting to know more about Jesus. Many have come to faith in this way, both Jews and Arabs. God is truly opening hearts here in Israel in an amazing way.
According to a poll carried out by HaAretz1, “54 percent of Jewish Israelis believe in God, and another 21 percent accept the existence of an undefined superior power other than God”, which is very high compared to other developed and democratic countries. An interesting fact is that of those who do believe in God, a significant majority are young (18-24 years old) compared to only 22% coming from the older generation (65+). The Holocaust severely affected the relationship between the people of Israel and God, and perhaps this is part of the reason for the stark difference. Here at ONE FOR ISRAEL, we are seeing people from all different ages coming to faith in Yeshua, but we would also report that the majority are from the younger generation.
However, there is a huge difference between following religious Judaism with all the rabbinic laws, and following the God of Israel. The rift between the ardently religious and the cynical secularists is growing all the the time, but frustration with the religious powers has led many secular people to become more open to considering the claims of Jesus – the great taboo.
“44.3% of Israelis define themselves as secular, while 21.4% are traditional, 12.3% are traditional with religious leanings, 11.5% are religious and 10.2% are ultra-Orthodox”, reports the Times of Israel2. Today we believe that there are at least 30,000 Messianic believers in Israel, which is still a tiny minority, but it is a number that is increasing all the time. The number was about 24 in 1948, but has tripled almost every decade since.
Happy and healthy, but not very wealthy!
The Central Bureau of Statistics data shows that “89% of Israelis satisfied with their lives, more than half exercise regularly, and life expectancy still one of highest in the world”2.
So almost 90% are happy with their lives, but the economic situation for many Israelis is not easy. “37% said they weren’t happy with their financial situation, and 31% said they were struggling to cover their monthly expenses.” The tense Middle East situation and challenging economic realities have not brought the nation down though. Technological breakthroughs and educational advancement are signs of a generally optimistic and successful society, despite the many challenges.
The vast majority of Israelis (84%) reported to be in good health, and the average life expectancy in Israel is 84.6 years for women and 80.7 for men, which is among the highest in the world. Along with that, Israel’s high fertility rate (average 3.11 children per woman), along with steady streams of new Jewish immigrants making “Aliyah” each year, means that the population is expected to reach 10 million in the next six years.
Pray with us that as the nation grows and develops, so body of Messiah will continue to prosper and grow, and that God’s kingdom would advance in all areas and aspects of our society.
Prepare the way of the Lord!
 Haaretz Poll: For Rosh Hashanah, a Picture of Israel’s Muddled Jewish Soul, Chemi Shalev, Sep 9th 2018
 The Times of Israel: Ahead of Jewish new year, Israel’s population at 8.9 million, largely content, Michael Bachner, Sep 4th 2018
This article originally appeared on One For Israel and is reposted with permission.
ONE FOR ISRAEL strives to be the leading organization in sharing the Gospel of Yeshua the Messiah with Israeli Jews and Arabs in the Hebrew language. Our staff is comprised of both Jewish and Arab Israelis, with the shared belief that true peace in the Middle East can only come into existence under Yeshua.
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A message from the cassette tape archives
Connie and I got inspired this summer to clean out and reorganize our storage shed. Amidst boxes and dust and unused scraps of wire, pipe and lumber (saved “just in case”), we found a substantial collection of cassette tapes. Few of us still have cassette tape players anymore. As we went through the tapes one by one, we realized that we would NEVER be using them again.
Aside from the nostalgia evoked—especially looking at the collected classics of Derek Prince, Bob Mumford, Billy Graham and Michael Brown—there remained, deep inside the cardboard cartons, the praise music we “grew up on.” Carefully stacked were Integrity Music tapes, Andre Crouch, Israel’s Hope, Lamb and many others that we now have downloaded to our newer electronic music devices.
While pitching a trash can full of these former treasures into the dumpster, I found myself thinking about what really lasts in life. Cassette tapes certainly have not. Other forms of music, voice and film storage continue to change with each new information technology breakthrough. Already fading are CDs and DVDs technologies that only a few years back, still felt “revolutionary.”
What else will become passé?
That which today impresses us as innovative, groundbreaking, new and exciting—will tomorrow be obsolete and worn out. This wakes me up. It compels me to adjust my world view and my decisions about acquiring more stuff. There was a play whose title I remember: “You Can’t Take it with You.” The play was a comedy, but Job’s life certainly was not. Job stated it succinctly long before Broadway. “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return…” (Job 1:21 NKJV).
The tragic passing, yet heroic fight for life, of our friend who grew up in Jerusalem, Esther Ridings Moore, at the tender age of 29, underscores this issue of mortality. Not incidentally, Esther made her life count. Writing and performing worship songs with Israeli teenagers, teaching and inspiring youth and adults alike, she invested her days in glorifying God and drawing people closer to Him through Yeshua. This forces me to ask a blunt question. What am I doing with my days?
“So teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom” (Psalm 90:12).
“See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil”(Ephesians 5:15,16).
These two exhortations speak directly to the issue of life being finite. It’s almost a cliché, but nonetheless true, that I really don’t know how much time I’m being allotted for this stage of my life’s journey. I want to invest my days in that which pleases the Lord, in that which helps others know Him more deeply. I want to see eyes opened to the awesome mercy of God through Yeshua haMashiach. And I want to walk in His light, bringing hope, healing, and deliverance to those He places in my path.
No matter where you are in life or how much you’ve already accomplished in the Lord, may you be renewed to exceed every previous limitation.
Cassette tapes have become irrelevant.
But the love of God demonstrated through you, will never become irrelevant.
This article originally appeared in Oasis newsletter, September 2018, and reposted with permission.
Eitan is the Founder and Executive Director of Tents of Mercy Network of Messianic Congregations is Northern Israel. He's a published author, having written "What About Us?", which answers the question about Gentile participation in the restoration of Israel.
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What are the High Holidays?
“Come now, let us reason together, says the Lord; though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool.” Isaiah 1:18
September and October are months of festivities and holy days (holidays) throughout Israel.
Jerusalem is bursting at the seams with thousands of visitors and residents – repenting, worshiping, remembering, praying, feasting, singing, laughing, dancing – at all hours of the day and night.
The month of Tishrei is considered the holiest month of the Hebrew calendar and contains several significant holidays, through which I have learned much about the culture, people and even more about the God of Israel, and what these events mean to us as believers.
Literally “head of the year” – Jewish New Year, following a lunar calendar, also known as the Feast of Trumpets (see Leviticus 23:23-25). This year Rosh Hashanah is celebrated September 10-11th and symbolically is the anniversary of the creation of Adam and Eve, emphasizing man’s dependence upon God.
This holiday initiates the new year with the sounding of the shofar, trumpets or rams horns, blessings over the new year, celebrating a meal with friends and family that usually involves food with symbolic significance (apples and honey, pomegranates and crown shaped challah bread with raisins), and choosing to rest fully in the Lord’s goodness as He initiates a new season.
The 9 days following Rosh Hashanah are considered “days of awe” and are a significant time of repairing relationships, repentance before God and others, heart searching and preparation for the High Holy Day of Yom Kippur.
During this time, thousands of people crowd the Old City and special prayers of repentance are offered at the Kotel (Western Wall) throughout the night.
The Day of Atonement on on September 19th this year (see Leviticus 16 & 23:26-32). Yom Kippur is the holiest day of the year, a time of reflection, confession, fasting, self-denial, repentance and rest, and atonement for sins.
In fact, it is such a consecrated day that no cars are allowed on the streets and everything in the city literally shuts down for about 26 hours.
This commemorates the day when the High Priest would enter the Holy of Holies to sacrifice offerings, first for himself, then for the sins of the entire nation.
“On that day, offerings of purification will be made for you, and you will be purified in the Lord’s presence from all your sins.” Leviticus 16:30
Sins were forgiven and right relationship with God and man restored.
This day bears special significance especially as we consider the message of Hebrews and Christ as our Great High Priest who offered Himself once for all time for the remission of sins.
“For God’s will was for us to be made holy by the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ, once for all time. Under the old covenant, the priest stands and ministers before the altar day after day, offering the same sacrifices again and again, which can never take away sins.
But our High Priest offered Himself to God as a single sacrifice for sins, good for all time. Then He sat down in the place of honor at God’s right hand. There He waits until His enemies are humbled and made a footstool under His feet. For by that one offering He forever made perfect those who are being made holy…and so, dear brothers and sisters, we can boldly enter heaven’s Most Holy Place because of the blood of Jesus.
By His death, Jesus opened a new and life giving way through the curtain into the Most Holy Place. And since we have a great High Priest who rules over God’s house, let us go right into the presence of God with sincere hearts fully trusting Him.
For our guilty consciences have been sprinkled with Christ’s blood to make us clean, and our bodies have been washed with pure water” Hebrews 10:10-14, 19-22
This article originally appeared on FIRM and is reposted with permission.
FIRM (Fellowship of Israel Related Ministries) is a global fellowship of Biblically-grounded believers committed to cultivating Messiah-centered relationships that bless the inhabitants of Israel—Jews, Arabs, and others—and the Jewish community around the world.