Significance of Yom Teruah for Christians

With the last 3 Feasts of the Lord quickly approaching -- Yom Teruah falling October 1 this year -- I thought I'd repost an oldie but a goodie on why Yom Teruah matters for gentile Christians.

Happy Yom Teruah! In English, Happy Day of the Awakening Shofar Blasts!

God said to Moses: "Tell the People of Israel, On the first day of the seventh month, set aside a day of rest, a holy get-together. Mark it with loud blasts on the ram's horn. Don't do any ordinary work. Present a fire offering to the Lord.

-God, speaking to Moses in Leviticus 23

Sounding a blast on the shofar (ram's horn)

Listen to a shofar in this Messianic song


What is Yom Teruah?

Simply put, it's a holiday commanded by God in the Old Testament.

  • "Yom" is the Hebrew word for day.

  • "Teruah" is a Hebrew word for awakening noise -- shoutings, blastings, in particular, shofar blasts.
There are at least 3 other names for this Feast! When God told the people to keep this Feast, he called it Yom Teruah. Modern Jews call the Feast "Rosh haShana". Modern Christians call it "Feast of Trumpets". It also goes by the name, "Day that no man knows", due to it falling on a new moon, which is difficult to precisely identify.

For Jews:
Yom Teruah is celebrated in modern Judaism as the Jewish holiday of Rosh haShana. Why the different name, you ask? The name Rosh haShana means "head of year" and Jews didn't start calling it "head of year" until after the Babylonian captivity. This is a reason why you'll hear some Jews say it is the Jewish (civil) new year. In reality, Yom Teruah is NOT the beginning of the Biblical year; in Torah, God told us explicitly that Yom Teruah occurs in the 7th month of the Biblical calendar, not the 1st month! :-O

Jews also celebrate it as a 2-day-long festival, per rulings in extra-Biblical Jewish law; though the Torah states it is a 1-day feast.
For Christians:
The Biblical Festival of Yom Teruah is also called the Feast of Trumpets in modern Christianity, although modern Christianity has largely ignored this day, brushing it off as a Jewish holiday. This, despite Messiah and his disciples having observed all the Feasts, including Yom Teruah.




God's Yom Teruah feast is also known as the Day that No Man Knows, due to it falling on a new moon, something that isn't easy to identify in the sometimes-cloudy night sky. This little tidbit is a juicy one for prophetic teaching; the lack of this knowledge on the part of the non-Hebrew speaking Western world has caused Christians to skim over verses like this one without thinking twice:

Now learn a lesson from the fig tree. When its buds become tender and its leaves begin to sprout, you know without being told that summer is near. Just so, when you see the events I've described beginning to happen, you can know his return is very near, right at the door. I assure you, this generation will not pass from the scene before all these things take place. Heaven and earth will disappear, but my words will remain forever.

"These things will happen on the day that no man knows, not even the angels or the Son himself, only the Father.

-Jesus, speaking to his followers as recorded in Matthew 24


Yom Teruah is the day of the shofar blastings. Loud, ear-splitting, ground-shaking blasts on the ram's horn (shofar). These blasts have prophetic and spiritual implications, as will be discussed in a moment.

To sum up, "Yom Teruah", "Rosh haShana", and "Feast of Trumpets" and "Day no man knows" are different names for the same holiday from different perspectives, both Jewish and Christian. Jews call it Rosh haShana, Christians call it Trumpets, the Torah calls it Yom Teruah.


Why it matters to Christians


Why does this matter for Christians? Why should a gentile (non-Jewish) believer in Jesus care at all about this day?

I want to make the case to you that Yom Teruah is a Biblical festival that ought to be celebrated by us modern Christians. In doing this, I am not saying this out of condemnation or anything so high-pedestaled. I am saying these things not out of condemnation, but out of encouragement -- encouraging you to life a life filled with the commandments which give life. I further encourage you, as a believer in Jesus, to live as Jesus lived and celebrate these life-breathing Feasts of the Lord.

My dear children,

We know that we have come to know him if we obey the commandments. The man who says, "I know him," but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But if anyone obeys his word, God's love is truly made complete in him. This is how we know we are in him: Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did.

-1 John 2
I hear some of you thinking, "Judah, you misguided Christian, you're trying to make a Jew out me!". Not at all - not into a Jew or a follower of Judaism, but I do want you to be changed into the grafted-in branch of the Olive Tree -- Israel -- that you became when you accepted our common Messiah, a Jew himself, into your life as your Master.

It's true, some of the natural branches of Israel have been broken off, and you gentiles, though a wild olive shoot, have been grafted in among the others and now share in the nourishing sap from the olive root. However, this doesn't mean you can boast over those natural branches. If you do, consider this: You do not support the root, but the root supports you. You will say then, "Branches were broken off so that I could be grafted in." That's true. But they were broken off because of unbelief, and you stand by faith. Don't be arrogant, but be afraid: if God did not spare the natural branches, he certainly won't spare you either.

-Paul, in his letter to the Romans


So then, if I have at least convinced you of my sound intentions, and that I am not a crazy Jew out to Judaize Christianity, let's get on with it then.


God-commanded, God-institued


If there was ever a compelling command I could give to Jews so they would celebrate the Feasts, including the Yom Teruah, it would be this: God commanded it! These things are not Jewish in nature; they are God-created, God-instructed, God-commanded.

These are My appointed feasts, the appointed feasts of the LORD, which you are to proclaim as holy.

-God, speaking to Moses in Leviticus 23


I hope that clears the air of all this "the Feasts are Jewish" nonsense. The Feasts are straight from God, not straight from the Jews, nor limited to the Jews. Since they are God's Feasts, why should gentiles be disallowed from keeping them? Is God the God of Jews only? No!

To God-fearing Jews, there is hardly anything more compelling than God telling you to have an appointed time -- an appointment! -- with Him on a certain date.


To the non-Jewish Christians:
What, exactly, did Jesus do?



Unfortunately, I am speaking to gentiles who are in seeming need of more convincing to change your ways, since everything changed with Jesus, or so I am told. Let me present an equally compelling argument, only specially crafted for you who have nailed the Law to the cross. ;-) The most compelling argument I can give to Christian gentiles is this: that our common Master and Messiah, Yeshua HaMoshiach, Jesus the Messiah, celebrated them. What better excuse to celebrate the Feasts of the Lord than the excuse that the Master himself celebrated them?

On the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, the disciples came to Jesus and asked, "Where do you want us to make preparations for celebrating Passover?"

He replied, "Go into the city to a certain man and tell him, 'The Teacher says: My appointed time is near. I am going to celebrate Passover with my disciples at your house.' " So the disciples did as Jesus had directed them and prepared the Passover.

-John's gospel


For the Feast of Tabernacles, Jesus went up to the Temple courts and began to teach about the Kingdom of God. The Pharisees were amazed and asked, "How did this man get such learning without having studied?"

Jesus answered, "My teaching is not my own. It comes from him who sent me. If anyone chooses to do God's will, he will find out whether my teaching comes from God or whether I speak on my own. He who speaks on his own does so to gain honor for himself, but he who works for the honor of the one who sent him is a man of truth; there is nothing false about him. Has not Moses given you the law? Yet not one of you keeps the law. Why are you trying to kill me?"

-Matthew's gospel


Not only the Feast of Passover, not only Feast of Tabernacles, but all of the Feasts; in doing so, he fulfilled -- made complete -- the Law and the Prophets.

Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. Anyone who breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.

-Jesus, teaching the fundamentals of the faith in his Beatitudes sermon, as recorded by Matthew

I often see Christians wearing clothing or decorations with the "WWJD" acronym embossed on the piece -- "What Would Jesus Do?" -- as a reminder to always try to follow Jesus' example. In this case, the matter is clear as crystal: not only would Jesus celebrate the Feasts, but he did celebrate them.


And the apostles?


But the compelling arguments do not stop at the Master's own words and actions. The apostles -- even after Jesus' death! -- kept the commands and the Feasts of the Lord:

The apostles were all gathered together for the Feast of Pentecost. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.

Now there were staying in Jerusalem God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven. When they heard this sound, a crowd came together in bewilderment, because each one heard them speaking in his own language. Utterly amazed, they asked: "Are not all these men who are speaking Galileans? 8hen how is it that each of us hears them in his own native language? Parthians, Medes and Elamites; residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya near Cyrene; visitors from Rome (both Jews and converts to Judaism Cretans and Arabs—we hear them declaring the wonders of God in our own tongues!" Amazed and perplexed, they asked one another, "What does this mean?"

- The Acts of the Apostles


The fact that the apostles -- the one's who walked and talked with Jesus -- were celebrating the Feasts of the Lord despite the fact Jesus already come and gone, this very fact, should give you a good hint as to whether the coming of the Son did away with the Feasts of the Father.

If that weren't enough, Paul -- oh, yes! -- the same Paul that gentile Christians often use to shoot down any notion of following the commands or the Feasts of God, instructs believers in Jesus to keep the Feasts:

Messiah, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed. So, let us keep the Feast, not with the old yeast, the yeast of malice and wickedness, but with bread without yeast, the bread of sincerity and truth.

-Paul, in his letter to Corinth

Pouring on the spiritual nature of the feasts


All these things mentioned so far are empirical, physical things. Yet we are a spiritual people, and sometimes spiritual things mean so much more in the end than the natural physical things. This ties in perfectly with what Paul says about the Master being our Passover lamb. Let me prove to you, from a spiritual standpoint, the signficance of the Feasts, in particular Yom Teruah, to you as a gentile Christian.


God's Ultimate Plan, Part I
(He's already done it!)



Remember earlier how I mentioned Yom Teruah is the day of the shofar blast? This is a subtle hint at things to come. Just like the Passover Feast of the Lord was fulfilled in Jesus becoming our Passover, so Yom Teruah will be fulfilled. Just like the Feast of Pentacost was fulfilled in Jesus sending the Holy Spirit to the apostles, so Yom Teruah will be fulfilled. Just as Jesus fulfilled the Feast of First Fruits by becoming the first fruits -- the best and holy fruit -- from the dead, so will Yom Teruah be fulfilled. Let me prove it to you.

In regards to your eating and drinking, your celebrating the Feasts, the new moons, and the Sabbath, let no one judge you, for these things are a shadow of things to come and of the Messiah.

-Paul, in his letter to the Colossians


We know that Jesus fulfilled, chronologically and in real-time, all of the Feasts of the Lord that occurred in the spring: first he fulfilled Passover, as it was the purpose of his coming. At Passover, a spotless lamb was slaughtered, and eaten. In Egypt, it's blood covered the people from death, causing death to pass over them. In an amazing theatrical display of symmetry between old and new, rehearsal and reality, Jesus, the spotless Lamb of God, was slaughtered so that his blood would cover us, defeating death, becoming the blood atonement for the whole world.

The next day, John the Baptist saw Jesus coming toward him and said, "Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!

-John's gospel


With this knowledge, we begin to better understand what Jesus meant when Jesus said, "This is my body, take and eat.", or "This is my blood, the blood of the covenant, poured out for all. Drink." Or even, "Do this in rememberance of me."


God's Ultimate Plan, Part II
(He's done it, consider it fulfilled!)


After fulfilling Passover by his death, he made complete -- in yet another amazing symmetry spectacle of old and new -- the Feast of First Fruits by raising from the dead on that very day! As Paul said, Jesus was the first of many that will be raised from death -- out of the ground, the dead will arise, starting with the greatest -- Jesus, the first fruits -- all the way down to us schmucks, Jew and Gentile alike; anyone who knows Jesus as Master.

There is a symmetry in this: since death came through a man, the raising of the dead also comes through a man. Just as in Adam all die, so in Messiah all will be made alive. But each in his own turn: Jesus, the firstfruits from the dead, raises first. Then, when he comes, all those who belong to him.

-Paul, in his letter to Corinth

God's Ultimate Plan, Part III
(The Master has finished it, consider it done!)



And keeping with the real-time fulfillment of the grand theatrical play set out for us, 50 days after the First Fruits Feast (the one on which Jesus raised from the dead), the Feast of Weeks (Pentacost) falls. And fall it did! The Holy Spirit falls on hundreds, making an amazing spectacle in plain sight of thousands of people:

The apostles were all gathered together for the Feast of Pentecost. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.

Now there were staying in Jerusalem God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven. When they heard this sound, a crowd came together in bewilderment, because each one heard them speaking in his own language. Utterly amazed, they asked: "Are not all these men who are speaking Galileans? 8hen how is it that each of us hears them in his own native language? Parthians, Medes and Elamites; residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya near Cyrene; visitors from Rome (both Jews and converts to Judaism Cretans and Arabs—we hear them declaring the wonders of God in our own tongues!" Amazed and perplexed, they asked one another, "What does this mean?"

-Acts 2


The Feast of Pentacost was crafted by God as a Feast of thanksgiving for the harvest that took place on First Fruits. What an amazing fulfillment! The Spirit of God falling on humanity, presented as a harvest offering, a result of the sewing done by the Master, Jesus. The parable of the sewing of seeds becomes less abstract and is given a more concrete meaning through this fulfillment.

"A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants. Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop—a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown. He who has ears, let him hear."

-Jesus, speaking to his followers and the crowd in Jerusalem, as recorded by Matthew

The seed sown here is the good news of Jesus: that he is here and our slavery to sin addictions is hereby broken, and that we have forgiveness and eternal life; not by our own works, but by sheer gift of God: grace! And when the Spirit fell on the Disciples at the Feast of Pentacost, their spirits ministering to God in a miraculous way -- speaking in foreign languages the good news of God -- what an amazing, miraculous thanksgiving offering to the Father. An ultimate fulfillment of the Feast of Pentacost.

What handiwork by God. Playing out, right in front of our eyes, over thousands of years. Each person playing a part in the play -- each piece playing a vital role -- first played out with Israel in reality as a rehearsal of spiritual things to come -- almost as a living prophecy -- then fulfilled in the physical, in real-time, by God himself as the Messiah. Awesome!

We've covered Passover, First Fruits, Pentacost. But what of Yom Teruah (Feast of Trumpets/Shofarim), Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement), or the Feast of Tabernacles? These last 3 feasts are even more exciting to look forward to. They are more exciting because Jesus will do these when He comes back, to the best of our estimation. And since he fulfilled the first feasts in chronological real-time, he'll likely do the last 3 in real-time as well.


Coming to a planet near you:
God's Ultimate Plan, Part IV!



And the Day of the Awakening Shofar Blast -- Yom Teruah -- will kick things off! Jesus will come back and finish what he's started, complete all that was put in motion. Chronologically, Yom Teruah is the next Feast after Pentacost, yet Jesus did not yet fulfill this one, or the 2 Feasts after it, because he's got something awesome planned.

I already hinted that Jesus' saying he will return "on the day no man knows but the Father" is a subtle hint that Jesus will return on the Feast of Awakening Shofar Blasts -- Yom Teruah. Of course, we don't know *which* Yom Teruah, but we believe it will be *a* Yom Teruah, and here's why:

At that time the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky; every nation on earth will look up, see it and cry out in mourning. They will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky, with power and great glory. He'll send his angels with a loud shofar blast, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other.

-Jesus, speaking to his followers, as recorded by Matthew


Notice the loud mourning, the shouting, the shofar blasts, the nations waking up to see Messiah in the sky. This is a picture-perfect fulfillment of the Feast of Awakening Shofar Blasts! There's more, a mystery Paul is not afraid to share with us:

Listen, I'm telling you a mystery: we won't all sleep forever in death; we will all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the great shofar sound; for the shofar will blast, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed.

Paul, in his letter to Corinth


This trumpet sounding, this shofar blasting talk is all Yom Teruah language. There's an abundance to confirm this:


Then the angel I had seen standing on the sea and on the land raised his right hand to heaven. And he swore by him who lives for ever and ever, who created the heavens and all that is in them, the earth and all that is in it, and the sea and all that is in it, and said, "There will be no more delay! But in the days when the seventh angel is about to sound his shofar, the mystery of God will be accomplished, just as he announced to his servants the prophets."

-John, in his writing down the revelation of Jesus



And in that day a great shofar will sound. Those who were perishing and suffering will come and worship the Master on the holy mountain in Jerusalem.

Isaiah, prophesying to Israel


Sound the shofar in Zion;
sound the alarm on my holy hill.
Let all who live in the land tremble,
for the day of the Master is coming.
It is getting closer!

-Joel, prophesying to the nation


Then the Master will appear over them;
his arrow will flash like lightning.
The Sovereign Master will sound the shofar;
he will march in the storms of the south

-Zachariah, prophesying to the people


Lots shofar sounding, trumpet blasting in the last days, it seems. Lots of waking up to hear the alarm.

But this isn't limited to ancient Old Testament prophecies. Remember Jesus' parable about the 10 virgins waiting for their bridegroom? 5 of them were wise and were ready to be picked up by the bridegroom, the other 5 weren't ready because they didn't know when the bridegroom would be coming. I'll let Matthew elaborate:

"God's kingdom is like ten young virgins who took oil lamps and went out to greet the bridegroom. Five were foolish and five were wise. The foolish virgins took lamps, but no extra oil. The wise virgins took jars of oil to feed their lamps. The bridegroom didn't show up when they expected him, and they all fell asleep.

"In the middle of the night a shout rang out, 'Wake up! He's here! The bridegroom's here! Go out and greet him!'

"The ten virgins got up and got their lamps ready. The foolish virgins said to the wise ones, 'Our lamps are going out; lend us some of your oil.'

"They answered, 'There might not be enough to go around; go buy your own.'

"They did, but while they were out buying oil, the bridegroom arrived. When everyone who was there to greet him had gone into the wedding feast, the door was locked.

"Much later, the other virgins, the foolish ones, showed up and knocked on the door, saying, 'Master, we're here. Let us in.'

"He answered, 'I never knew you.'

"So stay alert. No one knows the day or hour the Master arrives."

-Jesus, telling a parable to his followers


When the shout goes out, and the last great shofar is sounded, the Master comes. Of course, we don't know what month or even what year this will happen. But we believe it will be the on a Feast of Awakening Blasts, Yom Teruah. How fitting! This awakening shout, accompanied by a great shofar blast, to signal the return of the Messiah, Jesus our Master. In this sense, an understanding of Yom Teruah gives clearer meaning to the Scripture.


Conclusion


I hope this article has given you encouragement to understand the Feasts of the Lord. I hope Christian readers of this article will give second thought before calling them "Jewish feasts", when they are, in fact, a physical and living prophecy of things to come and things that have happend through Messiah, Jesus. I encourage you to be like the wise women, who were ready for the Master at the sound of a shout and a blast of the shofar, expecting him at that Awakening Blast.

I encourage believers in Jesus -- whether Jew or non-Jew -- to show up for the appointment God made for humanity in the Feast of Awakening Blasts, Yom Teruah. The command in Leviticus is to
  1. Honor God by not working on that day.
  2. Give an offering to the Lord.
  3. Sound a blast on a shofar!

Most of the Feasts can be summed up with an offering to the Lord: for you, that can be taking time to pray, thank God, give God an offering of praise. And finally, on Yom Teruah, hear the blast of a shofar and remember what it means: with it, we can look forward to the nearing fulfillment of this living prophecy, when we can celebrate it with the Master, Author, and Finisher, Jesus our Messiah. When that awesome time comes, I hope to see you there!

Peace and shalom.

10 comments:

  1. Wonderful article. I forwarded it along to my mother, who also has an interest in the feasts.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thank you, Robyn, glad you enjoyed it.

    Shalom.

    ReplyDelete
  3. The scholars who advocate the Rosh HaShanah is a Babylonian name for this holiday also do not believe that Moses had anything to do with writing the Torah. They believe that the ancient Jews picked it all up in Babylon and that the Torah makes up Ancient Israel's mythology.

    Please don't pass on misinformation about Rosh HaShanah without doing a little more research. Ezekiel 40:1 indicates that calling Yom Teruah by the designation Rosh HaShanah is perfectly fine.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Hi Anon.

    I didn't suggest there is anything morally wrong in calling the holiday "Rosh haShana".

    I only mention that is not what God called it when he gave us the Torah. It was only called "head of year" after the Babylonian captivity. It's possible this "head of year" name was borrowed from the Babylonian calendar. Torah does not call it the head of the year; it calls it "the 1st day of the 7th month".

    You cite Ezekiel 40:1, in which Ezekiel writes, "In the 25th year of our exile, at the beginning of the year..."

    If anything, that proves my point, it was not called "head of the year" until Babylonian captivity.

    ReplyDelete
  5. The Torah does, in fact, call this time Rosh HaShanah:

    Exodus 23:16 and 34:22

    Do these verses come from Moses, or from J and/or E?

    And since when does God not instruct us through Prophets like Ezekiel?

    ReplyDelete
  6. Anon,

    Neither Exodus 16 nor 34 mention Yom Teruah as Rosh haShana.

    The Torah uses 2 names for this feast:

    Zicaron Terua - "a memorial with the blowing of shofars" in Leviticus 23.

    and

    Yom Terua - "day of blowing the shofar" in Numbers 29.

    If you want to call it "head of year", I'm not going to say it's immoral.

    Folks only need to understand it's not the head of the Scriptural year.

    ReplyDelete
  7. If anyone wants to check these assertions, see Wikipedia's article on Rosh haShana. A choice quote:

    The term "Rosh Hashana" does not appear in the Torah, but is used in the Hebrew Bible in Ezekiel 40:1 in general reference to the beginning of the year. Leviticus 23:24 refers to the festival of the first day of the seventh month as "Zicaron Terua", Numbers 29:1 calls the festival Yom Terua.

    ReplyDelete
  8. You missed the point of seeing that the Torah mentions a turning of the year in the Spring, and later in the Fall. How do you reconcile this all together--two new years in Scripture? The Jews are just all wet as usual, right, holding on to some vain traditions of men?

    Your dismissal of Rosh HaShanah--as just being above "immoral" (as though it is to be likened to murder or homosexuality)--is deplorable. You are acting like most of the people in the Ephraimite movement, not giving a rat's tuccus about Jewish tradition.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Turning of the harvest year, I think that's clear.

    Torah explicitly states this falling in the 7th month of the year, not the 1st month of the year. Therefore, it isn't the start of the year.

    Logic, folks.

    I didn't link Rosh haShana as "just above immoral". Not at all. You're reading things that aren't there.

    Shabbat shalom! I'm off to praise him on shabbat, do a little music and glorify him. Take care.

    ReplyDelete
  10. is the something that is significant about the "Sons of Judah" around the first of every month?

    ReplyDelete