Rosh Ha-Shanah - The Feast of Trumpets


The forty (40) days that lead up to Rosh Ha-Shanah and Yom Kippur is a period of solemn reflection, that begins with the month of Elul.  Elul arrives on the Gregorian Calendar around August/September. For many generations, Elul has been a time for personal change and renewal. 

The First Elul

To put Elul into historical perspective, we reflect upon the story of the Jewish people at Mount Sinai. They had blundered badly with the Golden Calf, and things were not looking good concerning their relationship with God.  It was on the first day of Elul that the reconciliation process began. On that day, Moses ascended Mount Sinai (for the third time), where he spent 40 days in prayer on behalf of the nation. At the same time, the Israelites themselves searched their hearts and renewed their conviction to accept the challenge they'd received at Sinai.

Forty days later, the former slaves had raised themselves up to a spiritual position where they were once again fit for a relationship with Yahweh. On that day Moses descended the mountain with a second set of the Ten Commandments, symbolizing God's forgiveness and the reinstatement of the Jews as the people who would bear God's message. That day of reunification was Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement.

Pattern Of The Forty (40) Days

The theme of forty seems to show up in dozens of places in God's Word. The very first time Moses ascended the mountain, he was there for 40 days. Also, in the story of Noah and the flood, the rain fell for 40 days. The Jews wandered in the desert for 40 years. And the list of "forties" goes on (40 days). Forty represents the concept of renewal -- a new beginning. Forty means that something might look like the same old thing on the surface, but its essence is totally new.

Consider that the first time Moses ascended Mount Sinai for 40 days to receive the Torah, the children of Israel were transformed from a collection of individuals into a nation. The 40 days of rain in Noah's day symbolized the judgment of the world which would have to start again from scratch. The 40 years of wandering was the transformation of a Jewish people entrenched in Egyptian slave mentality, to one that understood true freedom.  

The 30 days from Elul and first 10 days of Tishrei that runs up to Yom Kippur was a crucial period of renewing the relationship the people were to have with the Creator. And today, whenever we perceive God as being distant, we can be certain that it was not the Holy One who moved away. In contrast, the people in Moses' day moved away from God--He who had miraculously spared their lives at the Red Sea--and had become unworthy of an intimate relationship. They spent those 40 days changing their attitude towards God, and ever since then, Elul has been an ideal time for personal and spiritual renewal. 

Rosh Ha-Shanah: Day Of Judgment

Rosh Ha-Shanah, known in the Scriptures as the Feast of Trumpets, arrives around the month of September/October and is considered in Judaism as the Day of Judgment. In the case of all other Jewish holidays, the Bible itself clearly explains the background and purpose of each one, sometimes at length, and in some cases several times. In the case of Rosh Ha Shanah, only hints are offered by the Scriptures as to the intent and purpose of the holiday.

The LORD said to Moses, "Say to the Israelites: `On the first day of the seventh month you are to have a day of rest, a sacred assembly commemorated with trumpet blasts. Do no regular work, but present an offering made to the LORD by fire," Leviticus 23:23.

We should comprehend the concept of being summoned to judgment. We are all familiar with courts and judgments and obeying the law. We all comprehend that the commandments of the Word are the commandments of God, laws that must be obeyed. Obedience to them must be rewarded, disobedience must be deterred and punished; and, to do both properly and efficiently, periodic evaluations of performance are required. 

The thirty days of month of Elul that lead up to Rosh Ha-Shanah, followed by the ten Days of Awe that take us to Yom Kippur, have everything to do with the judgment of souls. Jews know from their prayers that the judgment of Rosh Ha-Shanah concerns the events of this world as Jewish prayers of the day imply:

Regarding countries, it is said on this day which is destined for the sword and which for peace, which for hunger and which for abundance; and creatures are recalled on it to remember them for life and death. (Musaf prayer)

On Rosh Ha-Shanah will be inscribed and on Yom Kippur will be sealed how many will pass from the earth and how many will be created; who will live and who will die; who will die at his predestined time and who before his time... (Nesane Tokef prayer)

What does all this have to do with the judgment of the whole world and the opening of books in Heaven?  According to Judaism...

Three books are opened on Rosh Ha-Shanah, one is the book of the totally wicked, one is the book of the totally righteous, and the third is the book of the intermediate. The totally righteous are written and sealed immediately for life into their book, the totally wicked are written and sealed immediately for death into their book, whereas the intermediate are held suspended from Rosh Ha-Shanah till Yom Kippur. If they merit it they are then written up for life, if not, they are written up for death. 

The judgment of Rosh Ha-Shanah is truly a judgment about this world. But the Heavenly Court arrives at its decision based on a person's status with Yeshua, our Messiah.  Only the names of the righteous are written into the Book of Life. 

The “Book of Life” in the Hebrew Scriptures


u Psalm 69:28—“May they be blotted out of the Book of life and not be listed with the righteous.”

u Philippians 4:3—“Yes, and I ask you, loyal yokefellow, help these women who have contended at my side in the cause of the gospel, along with Clement and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the Book of life

u Revelation 3:5—“He who overcomes will, like them, be dressed in white. I will never blot out his name from the Book of life, but will acknowledge his name before My Father and His angels.”

u Revelation 13:8—“All inhabitants of the earth will worship the beast—all whose names have not been written in the Book of life belonging to the Lamb that was slain from the creation of the world.”

u Revelation 17:8—“The beast, which you saw, once was, now is not, and will come up out of the Abyss and go to his destruction. The inhabitants of the earth whose names have not been written in the Book of life from the creation of the world will be astonished when they see the beast, because he once was [alive], now is not [alive], and yet will come [alive again].”

u Revelation 20:12—“And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another Book was opened, which is the Book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books

u Revelation 20:15—“If anyone's name was not found written in the Book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.”

u Revelation 21:27—“Nothing impure will ever enter it [New Jerusalem], nor will anyone who does what is shameful or deceitful, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb's Book of life


The Prophetic Rosh Ha-Shanah At The Appointed Time Of The End

As we discover on the The Kingdom Calendar Pt. 15, Rosh Ha-Shanah brings us near to the final work of Satan's wrath against the righteous, and God's wrath against the wicked that will accelerate during the Great Tribulation--which will begin on the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur) ten days later.  As mentioned, this ten day prostration, where decisions of life and death are made, falls between the two High Holy Days.  Jews call it "yamin noraim"--the Days of Awe--which uniquely expresses the heart searching and mood of penitence that prevails.  The prophet Joel referred to this period as the valley of decision: "Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision! For the Day of the LORD is near in the valley of decision.," 3:14.

The trumpet warnings of Rosh Ha-Shanah brings mankind to the realization that time is running out.  Within just days the Day of Atonement will come when all who remain unrepentant will be cut off forever from salvation, while the righteous are sealed for life eternal. 

Judaism maintains three cardinal principles associated with the Ten Days Of Awe between Rosh Ha-Shanah and Yom Kippur.

        1) the acknowledgment that God is King of the universe

        2) the acknowledgment that God will intervene in the world to punish the wicked and reward the good

        3) the recognition that God reveals Himself at Mount Sinai [with lightning, voices, and thunderings]    

                and will fully reveal Himself again [in similar manner] to bring about the end of days

Revelation 7:1-4 speaks, in part, about this time of sealing: "After this I saw four angels standing at the four corners of the earth, holding back the four winds of the earth to prevent any wind from blowing on the land or on the sea or on any tree. Then I saw another angel coming up from the east, having the seal of the living God. He called out in a loud voice to the four angels who had been given power to harm the land and the sea: Do not harm the land or the sea or the trees until we put a seal on the foreheads of the servants of our God.  Then I heard the number of those who were sealed: 144,000 from all the tribes of Israel."

On the other hand, there will be many tested as to their loyalty, and many more martyrs for Jesus Christ during the last ten Days of Awe that end world history:  "Do not be afraid of what you are about to suffer. I tell you, the Devil will put some of you in prison to test you, and you will suffer persecution for ten days. Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you the crown of life... He who overcomes will, like them, be dressed in white. I will never blot out his name from the Book of Life, but will acknowledge his name before My Father and His angels," Revelation 2:10; 3:5.

The trumpet sounds of the Feast of Trumpets also warn of the approaching Day of the Lord: "Blow the trumpet in Zion; sound the alarm on my holy hill. Let all who live in the land tremble, for the Day of the Lord is coming. It is close at hand," Joel 2:1.

And why is the Day of the Lord fast approaching and the trumpet blast of warning given at Rosh Ha-Shanah?  "Put the trumpet to your lips! An eagle [eyes of the Lord] is over the house of the Lord because the people have broken My Covenant [Ten Commandments] and rebelled against My [Moral] Law.  How sad that God's people, who should know better, will allow Antichrist to enter onto the Temple Mount in Jerusalem to set up the abomination that will bring such devastation on Israel in the final days, followed by the entire Planet.

Jesus said in Matthew 24:15-21, "So when you see standing in the holy place the abomination that causes desolation, spoken of through the prophet Daniel--let the reader understand--then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. Let no one on the roof of his house go down to take anything out of the house. Let no one in the field go back to get his cloak. How dreadful it will be in those days for pregnant women and nursing mothers! Pray that your flight will not take place in winter or on the Sabbath. For then there will be great distress [Great Tribulation], unequaled from the beginning of the world until now--and never to be equaled again. If those days had not been cut short, no one would survive, but for the sake of the elect those days will be shortened."

Luke 21:21-22 clarifies further what Christ was warning of:  "When you see Jerusalem being surrounded by armies, you will know that its [Jerusalem's] desolation is near. Then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains, let those in the city [of Jerusalem] get out, and let those in the country not enter the city [of Jerusalem].  For this is the time of punishment [of the beloved City] in fulfillment of all that has been written." 

See The Kingdom Calendar Pt.15 for the Rosh Ha-Shanah connection to the end-times.

More on Rosh Ha-Shanah from Wikipedia.

From a Messianic Jewish Perspective: