Thursday, September 05, 2013

Happy New Year! (Last Trump, anyone?)

Happy New Years!
Or putting it as Jesus would have:
L'Shanah Tovah!
We did some celebrating of the future return of our Lord at our house last night.
Sliced apples were dipped in honey, a tasty honey cake was whipped up in about ten minutes, and Bernie scored a New Year's Challah at the grocery store. 
In case you didn't know (and we didn't until lately) challah is baked in a crown shape for Rosh Hashanah instead of the traditional braid.

There is a reason for that bread shaping...more on that later...but see if you can figure it out.
(Hint: Who is the Bread? and What is His status upon His return?)
Few Christians and even fewer non-Jewish  non-religious people have any grasp of what Rosh Hashanah is all about.
Other than perhaps knowing it is Jewish New Years, and a curious New Years Day at that, celebrated in the SEVENTH month of the year, (what is up with that? Shouldn't it be the first month of the year?) by Jewish folk, little is grasped about this Biblical Feast day.
The actually Biblical passage about it is found in Leviticus 23-24:

Speak unto the children of Israel, saying, In the seventh month, in the first day of the month, shall ye have a sabbath, a memorial of blowing of trumpets, an holy convocation.
The trumpet blowing went on and on...100 blows, and then a final blow was to be sounded, a long blow, which the Jewish people called "The Last Trump", and all the Chosen People were gathered together.
Let me see if I can ring some mental bells for you from the New Testament:
"Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed,
In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. "
- I Cor. 15:51-52
In our household, that last trump is something we look forward to!
In fact, we celebrate that it will come!
(The sooner the better actually...)
So when would be a good time to celebrate this future event?
For many reasons...we celebrate on Rosh Hashanah.
Rather than muddle through my own explanation of why, let me just copy below what another writer wrote.

Throughout Scripture, we find many important prophecies fulfilled on Jewish Biblical feast days. Looking back we see God's fulfillments in Passover, First Fruits (Christ's Resurrection), Pentecost, etc.
Those were referred to as the Spring Feasts.
The Fall Feasts appear to also line up as further fulfillment, with the next Feast event being the Feast of Trumpets and the prophetic event of the Rapture.
We will learn shortly why and how Christ can fulfill this prophetic event on this day when we do not know the day nor the hour; but, first, we need some background.
Biblically, the Feast of Trumpets (also known as Rosh Hashanah or Yom Teruah) celebrates the Jewish New Year.
The word means "Day of Blowing", referring to the shofar horn being blown one hundred times. There is a set pattern of different sounds that are repeated eleven times, with one single final blast referred to as the "Last Trump".
Rosh Hashanah is a unique celebration in that it is actually two days referred to as one day, and called Yoma Arichtah in Aramaic: "one long day".
This is because (unlike all the other feasts) it is marked not by a day, date, or time - it is traditionally marked as when two witnesses reported to the Sanhedrin that the new moon had been spotted.
What makes it impossible to assign a day or hour to this event (which the Jewish people were commanded to observe) is that the timing would be relative and different depending on where in the world you were. Although it was officially done at Jerusalem.
Historically, this is why it is celebrated over two days as one - when the sighting was made official in Jerusalem, fires on mountains would be lit to spread the word to far off areas and nations that it had officially started.
However, if you were Jewish and were part of those who still lived in Babylon and other nations after the dispersion, then you might not find out till a whole day later!
This is why the holiday is spread over two days.
It was a common idiom in Christ's day to refer to Rosh Hashanah as not knowing what day it would be on, or what hour; but, you would still have a very close idea of the period of week by watching the signs in the moon phases.
Even in our modern times, we use common idioms to refer to time frames.
For example, people generally refer to the time and events around December 25th - January 1st as "The Best Time of the Year."
It is not a day-specific idiom, but everyone knows generally the season you are talking about.
For some it's December 24th and 25th, others it the 25th only, and for others it might be 24th through 1st.
 Likewise, when Jesus referenced that no one would know the day or the hour, it would have rung some mental bells in His disciples' heads, since Rosh Hashanah was commonly known as "the feast where no one knew the day nor the hour".
One reason to strongly think that Christ was 'speaking their language' by referencing a common idiom is that He repeats this phrase with the two points of day and hour; He does not simply state that we will not know the day - that should have been enough if it was just going to be only random day of the year.
The fact that He makes extra emphasis on a particular saying seems to be a 'Hint, Hint' to the timeframe (one of the Feast of Trumpets) yet at the same time without being able to give a specific chronological marker.
In the following verses, you will see several repeating idioms and illustrations overlapping.
Let's examine the Scriptures and see if Christ was using what would be a common and familiar Jewish idiom when He spoke with His disciples:
"But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only." - Matthew 24:36The thought of "but my Father only [knows]" is also another Jewish idiom. It comes from the Jewish wedding tradition where the engaged groom would be working on his future place for his bride under the auspices of the groom's father - the one who arranged the marriage. The groom would not come for his bride until his father checked off that everything was ready at home. Hence, when people would ask the groom-to-be if he was ready, he would respond "only my father knows..." The groom may have a very close idea, though. (See also John 3:16, John 14:2-3).
"Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh." - Matthew 25:13Notice how He tells us to "Watch" right before He (supposedly) tells us we wouldn't know what to look for. If we replace the idiom (bolded) with the words "Feast of Trumpets" the verse takes on a whole new meaning - a double meaning, in which both are true. He is telling us to look for something, and gives them a strong hint of what it is.
"But of that day and that hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father.
Take ye heed, watch and pray: for ye know not when the time is.
For the Son of man is as a man taking a far journey, who left his house, and gave authority to his servants, and to every man his work, and commanded the porter to watch.
Watch ye therefore: for ye know not when the master of the house cometh, at even, or at midnight, or at the cockcrowing, or in the morning:
Lest coming suddenly he find you sleeping.
And what I say unto you I say unto all, Watch."
- Mark 13:32-37
Again, references the Jewish wedding concept, and that we should be watching. Remember, in ancient times, the official word about the start of Rosh Hashanah was signaled by lighting signal fires. If you were not watching for them, you would miss or sleep through most of a feast day that you were commanded to observe!
Notice how He makes reference to the fact that His coming will literally be at different times of the day. People all around the world will be in different time zones and activities when He returns.
He warns against spiritual sleep, or apathy, and urgently commands us to watch. Watch for what? - the signs of His coming, and the time and season He repeated to His disciples.
"The lord of that servant will come in a day when he looketh not for him, and at an hour when he is not aware, and will cut him in sunder, and will appoint him his portion with the unbelievers." - Luke 12:46Here He uses a variation of the idiom to emphasize that some will not be looking for Him, even though He told them to watch and be faithful stewards.
For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first:
Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.
Wherefore comfort one another with these words.

But of the times and the seasons, brethren, ye have no need that I write unto you.
For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night.
For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape."
- I Thess. 4:16-18; 5:1-3
It shouldn't surprise us that if Christ is coming back on the Feast of Trumpets (a day which also celebrates crowning God as King of the world, hence the round Challah bread used in Jewish observances) that God will also sound a trumpet. Yom Teru'ah (Rosh Hashanah) literally means "Day [of] blowing [the horn]".
Paul remarks (and clues us in) that he didn't need to rehearse all the Jewish seasons (festivals) because of his audience - they already knew the background and that Christ gave strong indication of when He would return.
The phrase "as a thief in the night" is another ancient Jewish idiom referencing how the captain of the Temple guard (some say the High Priest) would sneak around the Temple at night checking on the Levites who guarded the Temple to see if they were sleeping on the job. If he found one sleeping, he would use his torch and singh their garments. This captain of the guard had the common nickname of "Thief in the Night."
This is an important distinction because Christ's return will not surprise those who are watching for Him - only those who are spiritually asleep and apathetic will be surprised. The guards who were alert and watching were not ashamed or surprised at the coming of "the thief in the night."
"Behold, I come as a thief. Blessed is he that watcheth, and keepeth his garments, lest he walk naked, and they see his shame." - Rev. 16:15Again, Christ uses this familiar Jewish idiom in warning the churches. Some Christians will be caught unawares, and their garments will be spotted and wrinkled by living in sin and apathy. Their 'singed garments' will be an embarrassment to them on that day.
"Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed,
In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. "
- I Cor. 15:51-52
The last blast of the shofar on Rosh Hashanah is referred to as the "Last Trump". Symbolically, the sound of the shofar is intended to awaken the listeners from their "slumbers" and alert them to the coming judgment. One day soon, the trump of God will sound as He comes for His Bride - but it will also signal the start of judgment of the nations of the world.

 When is Rosh Hashanah in 2013?
While the Julian/Gregorian Calendar marks it as starting on the evening of September 4th and going through Friday, technically (depending on where on planet Earth you are, and going by the confirmed appearance of the new moon) it will be more toward starting (technically in America) early Thursday morning and going through Saturday.
However, it has been pointed out that due to the proximity of the sun to the moon during the 5-6th, it most likely will not be observeable (which is what traditionally makes it official) till the 7th, Saturday.
You can roughly check this with stellarium software.
Because of the 8 hour time difference, here is a chart to help you better understand when Yom Teruah starts in America.
It is shown as two-days (traditional Rosh Hashanah), even though Biblical Yom Teruah really is just one day (Lev. 23:34).
Yom Teruah:IsraelUS (CDT)
Calendar Date:Sept. 4th-6th, Wed evening - Friday evening.Sept. 4th (Wed. noon) - 6th ( Fri. noon)
Astronomical (Technical New Moon) Date:Sept. 5th-7th, Thurs evening - Saturday evening.Sept. 5th (Thurs. noon) - 7th (Sat. noon)
Observed Timeframe (from Jerusalem) :Sept. 7th-9th, Saturday evening - Monday evening.Sept. 7th (Sat. noon) - Sept. 9th (Mon. noon)

Keep in mind that the observing of the new moon only signals the official start of Yom Teruah - Christ tells us that He will leave us guessing as to the time of His arrival after that.

"Blessed are those servants, whom the lord when he cometh shall find watching: verily I say unto you, that he shall gird himself, and make them to sit down to meat, and will come forth and serve them. And if he shall come in the second watch, or come in the third watch, and find them so, blessed are those servants. And this know, that if the goodman of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched, and not have suffered his house to be broken through. Be ye therefore ready also: for the Son of man cometh at an hour when ye think not." - Luke 12:37-40
 Are You Ready?
  • Are your sins forgiven?
    • If not, admit you are a sinner: "For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God." - Romans 3:23
    • Believe the Christ can save you: "For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord." - Romans 6:23
    • "That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life. For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." - John 3:15-16
    • Call on Him to save you: "...if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved." - Romans 10:9
  • Have you been baptized? The ordinance of baptism is not required for salvation, but is an outward sign that you have been saved. Acts 8:36-38; 10:47; 18:8.
  • Are your household affairs in order?
  • Do your friends and family know your clear testimony and where you would be if Christ returned this Feast of Trumpets?
  • Are you reconciled with your brothers and sisters (Matthew 5:24)?
  • Is your house and life purged of uncleanness (2 Timothy 2:20-21; I John 3:3)?
 Suggestions (only if you have the above settled first):
  • If possible, request time off for Wednesday-Saturday so you can observe 'a religious holiday'.
  • Clear your schedule as much as possible to avoid being distracted by matters that do not matter.
  • Write up a note to those who will come looking for you IF Christ should come back THIS Feast of Trumpets.
  • Have some instructions, keys, etc. out for those who may first come looking for you. Instructions and directions on how to best use what you've left behind or charitable use suggestions (with a clear presentation of the Gospel).
  • If you have books or resources regarding end times, prophecy, etc. that others may be interested in, considering the circumstances, make them easily findable as well.
  • Also, if you have books related to preparedness, survival, etc. have those findable, but not as prominent. The time of Tribulation will be a literal tribulation. You may want to intersperse Gospel tracts in the pages of your books that people may thumb through.
  • If you have animals (pets, livestock, etc.), have clear instructions and supplies for others to be able to provide for them in your sudden absence (Proverbs 12:10, Proverbs 27:23).
  • Have your house neat and clean - it will be part of your evidence and testimony when you are gone.
  • Make the day leading up to Rosh Hashanah a time of celebration and anticipation. Have some traditional Jewish feast foods, but don't go overboard.
  • Observe the Lord's Supper, whether as a church body or in family fellowship. Write out and share your testimony of what Christ has done in your life.

Please Keep in Mind:

Rosh Hashanah, the Feast of Trumpets, is a celebration and a rehearsal. Christ's Return might not be this particular Feast of Trumpets, but we can still celebrate and commemorate it, and live in light that He may return this one. So in other words, don't do anything stupid, don't burn your bridges, and keep your attitude and heart right! Watch!

Back to me now:

If you think you might want to get in on this celebration, (and you have plenty of can celebrate this year right up until Saturday if you want) it can be as easy as the dipping an apple slice in honey and eating it, to express sweetness in the New Year (which as you can see refers more to the "new" after Christ returns.)  

One thing I really like about the Jewish Feasts are how simple they are and how they all teach something that relates to both Jewish history and Christ's fulfillment. 

The Feast of Trumps with all that trumpet blowing was a wake up call each year to the Jewish people.
A few days afterwards they celebrated Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement.

Hmmm....imagine that.
If Jesus does return on the Festival of Trumpets, can the Judgement day be far behind?
Could sharing some honey dipped apples and honey cake with a neighbor perhaps be a way to start an interesting conversation about salvation?

Just a thought.

Wish my blogging buddies were honey cake came out really good and I would have plenty to share with all of you!


ellen b. said...

You really are a gifted researcher, Jill!
Wonderful info put together here.

Vee said...

Are you sharing your recipe for honey cake? May all those who celebrate Rosh Hashanah have a blessed New Year...that goes for Utah Christians who are looking forward to being caught up! = D We have been studying many of these same Scriptures as we learn to distinguish between The Rapture and The Second Coming. I'm with you...anytime now would be good...IF only I had the assurance of knowing that all I love would be going with me.

Thoughts on Life and Millinery. said...

Yes...there IS a difference between 2nd coming and rapture. And many views on the timing between them.

My honey cake recipe is the one with the link in the post, except I had to do lots of tweaks to make it work in high altitude. Even with the standard tweaks I had to cook it almost 20 minutes longer to get it done. Which is why I rarely bake any more; too many high altitude variables.

Pondside said...

Like Ellen, I thought about the extent of the research necessary for this post to come together. Wow!

Rosella said...

Happy Rosh Hashanah to you and yours!! Thanks for sharing this - I never knew all the detail of this celebration. May we all be ready for that final trumpet call!

Kathie said...

So many finer points that we miss when we aren't aware of our OT heritage! Thanks Jill!

Wish I was near enough to try that honey cake - sounds delicious!