The fifth feast we hear God calling His people to is the Feast of Trumpets. It marks the civil new year for the Jews.
I find it interesting that God’s timing has brought us to this feast at this time. I live in the United States and we are approaching our new year; 2020. I never studied the feasts of Israel before and knew little beyond Passover and Hanukkah. Walking through this book, especially this chapter, has brought me new insight and understanding. I am VERY grateful for that!
When reading God’s requirements for this feast I notice that they are few and far between. He doesn’t command a specific sacrifice. He doesn’t say what the people are to do on this day. He simply states the day, the focus of the day, one restriction, and one observance.
The day God chose is the first day of the civil calendar year of the Jewish people. They actually have two ways to mark time. The first is the religious calendar and the second is the civil calendar. God placed Passover in the first month of the religious year and the Feast of Trumpets, Rosh Hashanah, as the mark of the civil new year. Before leaving Egypt Israel had only one calendar. God created this second one with the events of Passover. HE told Moses that this would be the beginning of their year. Rather than shift the entire country’s calendar a second one was superimposed on the first. This kept the people’s daily schedules in step with those countries around them and also focused their attention to God’s works. Did you notice that God didn’t revert to the civil calendar when announcing His date for this festival? He called for “In the seventh month, on the first day of the month” (verse 24a). I wonder if this is why I missed the connection all the other times I read this passage.
God called for the focus to be on HIM on this day and for everyone to STOP. “You shall observe a day of solemn rest, a memorial proclaimed with blasts of trumpets, a holy convocation” (verse 24b). Holy days require a holy focus. There is NONE more holy that our Holy Father. He was to be the focus of this day of rest. A rest more solemn than even the Sabbath rests.
When I was looking for the meaning of the Feast of Trumpets I came across a Youtube presentation of Day of Discovery done on this feast. It explained the focus and direction this holiday takes in the Jewish community; those who still follow the Torah. Their interpretation is of interest to me because they cling to the Torah and attempt to follow God’s law as it is given to Moses in our text.
The thing that struck me most about the Jewish celebration of the Feast of Trumpets is its focus. It is a new year celebration unlike that in my country. In my country we are happy to be beginning again with a “clean slate” so to speak. When the year ends, all that has gone before ends, in some respects. I don’t know how many people have said, in my hearing, “I’m sure glad ____ is over. It was a bad year. Hopefully the next one will be better.” We also make new year’s resolutions and typically break them within the first 24 hours. The Jewish people instead turn their focus to their spiritual standing. They examine all that has gone before, in the previous year, and try to make amends for any wrong they have done. They weigh their spiritual lives against God’s laws. As one person in the program I watched said, “No one is good enough for the Book of Life and no one is bad enough for the other book so they get put into the ‘book of neither’.” The Jews HOPE they have enough good credits to outweigh their bad ones in the end at God’s reckoning. And they keep examining their lives up until the next festival day; the Day of Atonement ten days later.
I’m SO glad I don’t have to measure my works! The only measure I have to take is if Jesus is my Lord and Savior. HE did all the work to get me into the Book of Life. I’m secure there, unlike the Jew who fears he may fall the ‘other’ way. But my life is still to exhibit good works. “I bear ‘apples’ BECAUSE I am an ‘apple’ tree.”
The next two things that God mentioned regarding His festival intrigue me. I want to know what constitutes “ordinary work” and what sacrifice He really wants to see on His altar of fire.
I’m certain that ordinary work constitutes running a grocery store or printing a newspaper. I would say that it didn’t include doctors and nurses caring for the sick as Jesus Himself cared for the sick even on the Sabbath. I would expect all “elective surgeries” to be halted but not the emergency department operations. So do restaurants stay open to offer a “traditional” meal for families who don’t want to gather at home? The priests certainly have to work in performance of the sacrifices. And are the wives allowed to prepare a festival meal on that day? I don’t know. Another question I’m going to have to ask from my special bench.
And what does God really want on His altar? To me that begs the question of what does Jesus want for Christmas? I think the answer to both is our hearts. Not our physical hearts on God’s altar of fire in the Old Testament but the thing that draws each person away from Him instead. What I’m drawn away with has my heart. If I surrender it for Him, my heart once again belongs to God. I think that is what God would ask that each offering at least symbolize. And I’m sure Jesus would say that was a WONDERFUL birthday gift.
So what will my new year’s look like? How about yours? Did our discussion alter the way you plan on spending it? I pray it did for me. I want to remember this story as the clock counts down and take stock instead of breathing a sigh of relief because it’s over.
Father God, thank You for showing me this message, especially at this time. Thank You for opening my eyes. Help me to take stock and make amends where I have wronged others. Not so I can balance the scales and get into Heaven by the “preponderance of the evidence” of my goodness but so my heart can be tender to Your Spirit. And so my life can speak of You and ALL You have to offer; especially and including salvation and forgiveness of sin. THAT is what Jesus purchased on the cross for me. HE gave me a new slate, not some date on the calendar. Help me fill each day that remains in my life with Your love. Love for You, love for my family (physical and spiritual), and love for those who don’t know You yet. Happy New Year Father! Today is the first day of the rest of my life and I intend to make each of those days count. (I know it’s not officially the new year yet but it feels like it to me.)