I would like to wish our Jewish friends all around the world a Happy, Healthy New Year!
Rosh Hashanah means “New Year” in Hebrew. This festival marks the beginning of the Jewish year every fall.
Surprisingly, Rosh Hashanah’s origins in the Bible are not actually connected to a new year celebration. Leviticus 23:23–25 calls this holiday the Feast of Trumpets: “The LORD spoke to Moses: Tell the Israelites, in the seventh month, on the first day of the month, you must have a complete rest, a memorial announced by loud horn blasts, a holy assembly. You must not do any regular work, but you must present a gift to the LORD.”
The Feast of Trumpets was an appointed time of the year for Israel to hear the blast of the shofar––a ram’s horn––and to remember the faithfulness of God in all He’s done for them as a nation and individually. The shofar was an ancient way of getting the Israelites’ attention. Today we have sirens that warn us of a coming tornado, sirens on top of cop cars and ambulances warning us to get out of the way, and sirens that go off to excite us that our hockey or soccer team just scored a goal.
The ancient shofar was blown to get the ancient Israelites’ attention, to prepare the people for battle, or to announce the Jubilee Year. It was blown on the Feast of Trumpets to wake up the Israelites, to pull them out of the mundane things of life and to focus their attention on God’s faithfulness.
Sadly, though, what we see throughout the Old Testament is that the Israelites forgot all the Lord did for them. Oftentimes, in fact too often, the Lord would say to His people, “Don’t you remember me? I’m the Lord your God who brought you out from the land of Egypt and from the burden of slavery.” All too often the Israelites forgot God. Even though they heard that shofar, they still forgot.
Now before we go and wave our judgmental finger at Israel for their lack of respect, not remembering what the Lord has done, even though they heard that shofar blown every year, let’s pause and remember we also have the capacity to forget God. I always like to say: “Israel’s story is my story.”
Sometimes in our lives, even we as Christians have the capacity to ignore the many ways the Lord tries to get our attention. Like a loud trumpet blast, sometimes the Lord sends other believers into our lives to try to wake us up to His faithfulness. Other times it may be an event that should shake us from our normal routines and make us remember the Lord’s goodness.
Sometimes we just don’t respond to even the loudest call to action. When I was in college, every so often we had fire drills in the dorms. One of my roommates became so apathetic to the drills he would just ignore that loud siren that was designed to save His life in case of an emergency. Instead, he just sat there.
What my old roommate did ignoring the fire alarm during the drill could have been life-threatening if there was a real emergency. As believers we should respond to those moments the Lord gives us to praise His name, give thanks, and remember His faithfulness to us. We shouldn’t sit idly by and tell ourselves we’ll remember Him next time. Respond to those loud trumpet blasts the Lord gives us. Take a brief moment out of your day to stop and remember the Lord our God and all He’s done for us through His Son and in our lives.
If you’re not spending time in God’s Word, you’re missing the best opportunity to be reminded of all God has done in your life.
Let me tell you two things I think you could do to always respond to those moments of God’s faithfulness. First, stay in God’s Word. God’s Word is like a constant shofar blast sounding out God’s goodness and mercy in our lives. God’s Word always challenges us to look retrospectively at our life and our world. If you’re not spending time in God’s Word, you’re missing the best opportunity to be reminded of all God has done in your life.
Second, take inventory of your life to see where you were and where you are in Christ now. Not everyone is going to be in the same place. Some of you may be feeling very blessed by God right now and others of you may feel like you’re lost in the wilderness, struggling from day to day. No matter where you are, take inventory so you can watch God work in your life as you remember His faithfulness. For those of you feeling blessed, look back and thank God for His goodness in your life. For those of you who feel like you’re wandering in the wilderness, just remember the faithfulness of God who cared for those Israelites in the midst of their desert experience. God is ministering to you even now, and that is a great reason to respond to His faithfulness.
When we respond to those moments when God is reaching out to get our attention and we give Him praise for His faithfulness, we will have a better perspective on how the Lord is working in and through us, no matter where we are in life.
So be sure to wish your Jewish friends a Happy and Healthy New Year, and let them know just how faithful our God and the Lord Jesus have been to you!