This week Jewish communities throughout the world will celebrate Rosh Hashanah. Rosh Hashanah literally means "head of the year" and commemorates the anniversary of the creation of the world. It is celebrated on the first day of the month of Tishri. This year, Rosh Hashanah will begin at sundown on September 12 and end at nightfall on September 13.

Rosh Hashanah is often referred to as the beginning of the Jewish New Year. However, the Hebrew month of Nissan, in which Passover is celebrated, is the first month of the Jewish calendar. Rosh Hashanah is actually only one of four symbolic Jewish new year celebrations. The concept of having multiple new years may seem strange, but keep in mind that in America we celebrate the New Year in January and the new school year in September. Likewise, businesses often have a fiscal year that does not coincide with the beginning of the calendar year (for example October 1st marks the beginning of the fiscal year for the US government).

The commandment to observe Rosh Hashanah is found in Leviticus 23:23-25: "And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying, ‘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. Ye shall do no servile work therein: but ye shall offer an offering made by fire unto the LORD.’"

It is also mentioned in Numbers 29:1: "And in the seventh month, on the first day of the month, ye shall have an holy convocation; ye shall do no servile work: it is a day of blowing the trumpets unto you."

One of the central features of Rosh Hashanah is the shofar. The shofar is an instrument made from a ram’s horn that sounds somewhat like a trumpet. In the Bible, Rosh Hashanah is referred to as Yom Teruah, the day of the sounding of the shofar, otherwise known as the Feast of Trumpets. The shofar is often representative of Abraham offering Isaac to God as a sacrifice on Mount Moriah (Genesis 22). It was then that God provided Abraham with a ram, caught by its horns in a thicket, as a substitute for Isaac.

Rosh Hashanah is a time of both celebration and repentance. It is a time of spiritual renewal through prayer and deep personal reflection leading up to Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, on the 10th day of Tishri (Leviticus 23:26-28). Rosh Hashanah is when the Jewish people recognize God as King and Judge over all living things. On Rosh Hashanah we celebrate the creation of the world, when "God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good (Genesis 1:31)."

The vast majority of Christians are unfamiliar with most of the traditional Jewish holidays. Yet they hold great spiritual and prophetic significance. In Colossians 2:16-17 it says, "Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days: which are a shadow of things to come." For more information about Rosh Hashanah or other Jewish holy days and their prophetic significance refer to our briefing The Feasts of Israel.

Rosh Hashanah is a time of forgiveness and new beginnings. Please take some time out of your week for serious introspection. Examine your heart before God and spend time in prayer.

May you be inscribed and sealed for a good year.