Rosh Hashanah  —  Seven Feasts of Jehovah: The Editor's Column

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On September 6 the Jews will celebrate their New Year, Rosh Hashanah, which according to their calculations will commence the year 5717. They will keep their festivities with blowing of the Shofar (ram's horn) in commemoration of the "memorial of the blowing of trumpets," as originally instituted by God in Lev. 23 and Numb. 29
Unlike what is given in Lev. 23, however, the Jews in their civil year reckon the month Tishri as the first month, while God looks upon it as the seventh month. This they recognize in their sacred year. When they were to be redeemed from Egypt and were first sheltered by the blood of the Passover lamb, God changed their calendar, and said, "This month" (the month Nisan, or Abib) "shall be unto you the beginning of months: it shall be the first month of the year to you." Exod. 12:22This month shall be unto you the beginning of months: it shall be the first month of the year to you. (Exodus 12:2). The object of this change was to mark their redemption by the blood of the lamb as the foundation of all their future blessing. From henceforth everything was to be calculated from that point. Just so, the death of the Lord Jesus Christ on the cross as the "Lamb of God" is the foundation of every blessing for the believer now, and for all millennial and eternal blessing.
Little as the Jews realize the fact, the "feast of trumpets" is the next thing to be fulfilled for them from the grand table of events given in Lev. 23 There are seven "feasts of Jehovah" in that chapter (Passover, Unleavened Bread, Wave Sheaf, Feast of Weeks, Trumpets, Atonement, and Tabernacles), four of which have had their fulfillment. They are:
1. The Passover. While the Passover's being kept year by year in Old Testament times looked back to their being sheltered by the blood of the lamb in Egypt, its primary purpose in the ways of God was to look forward to the death of the Lord Jesus as the true Passover Lamb. This foreshadowing was actually fulfilled when, on the very day in which the Jews kept the Passover, the Lord Jesus was crucified and slain. On the cross in the three hours of darkness, He suffered as the Lamb of God, by whose precious blood we are redeemed (1 Pet. 1:1919But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot: (1 Peter 1:19)).
"The feast of unleavened bread" immediately followed the Passover and represented the separation from evil as a practical result of our being sheltered by His precious blood. This feast lasted seven days, and as seven is the number indicating completeness, so the whole life of the believer is to be marked by entire separation from evil, of which leaven is without exception the type in Scripture.
The feast of the Wave Sheaf was the waving of the first sheaf of the new harvest before the Lord "on the morrow after the sabbath." On the very day in which this was done in the temple by the priests, the Lord Jesus rose from the dead as "the firstfruits of them that slept" (1 Cor. 15:2020But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept. (1 Corinthians 15:20)). He was the true Sheaf of the firstfruits, and the fulfillment of the type found in the feast.
4. The Feast of Weeks (Shavuoth) gets its name from the fact that the Israelites were to count seven weeks from the day they offered the wave sheaf "unto the morrow after the seventh sabbath," or fifty days. At this festival they were to offer two loaves of bread "of the firstfruits" before the Lord. These loaves were to have leaven baked in them, and a "kid of the goats" was to be offered for a sin offering. The type presented in this has also been fulfilled exactly. On the very day when the priests presented the wave loaves with their accompanying sacrifices, the Holy Spirit descended from heaven and formed something new on earth—the Church. It was the fruit of the same harvest of which Christ was the firstfruits. Those for whom the Lord Jesus died and rose again were together in an upper room that day; "And when the day of Pentecost" (indicating fifty) "was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind.... And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost" Acts 2:1-41And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. 2And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. 3And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. 4And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance. (Acts 2:1‑4).
The leaven baked in the wave loaves indicated that there would be evil in the Church on earth, hence the sin offering was presented at the same time. There was no sin offering connected with the sheaf of the firstfruits which prefigured Christ in resurrection.
It is worthy of note that the Jews keep two feasts which are strictly connected with the first day of the week—the Wave Sheaf and the Wave Loaves. Both of these were kept "on the morrow after the sabbath." The one spoke of Christ in resurrection, and the other of the formation of the Church; in other words, that which specially marked Christianity was connected with the Lord's day and not the Sabbath. Lev. 23 should settle the matter that the observance of the Sabbath is not connected with Christianity. After the Church has been taken to the Father's house, the Sabbath will have the special place on earth again. The fact is borne out by the Lord's instruction for the faithful Jewish remnant in the tribulation to pray that their flight "be not... on the sabbath day" (Matt. 24). No such instruction was given for the Christians of Jewish parentage who fled Jerusalem in A.D. 70, before its destruction by Titus.
This digression to mark out the feasts that have had their typical fulfillment brings us up to Rosh Hashanah—September 6 of this year. While the Jews keep this feast as a joyous occasion in their calendar of religious festivals, they little realize that it too is to have a fulfillment. The time of its typical enactment is ever drawing nearer, but two things must precede the realization of it the coming of the Lord for the Church, and the seven eventful years which will follow—the latter half of which are designated as "the time of Jacob's trouble." As we are on the very eve of the Church's home going, so the true "memorial of blowing of trumpets" for Israel is close at hand. Just as surely as the first feasts have had a literal fulfillment, so likewise will the last three.
The main typical significance of Rosh Hashanah is the calling back of Israel when the Lord comes with His saints in power and great glory. Then "He shall send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other." Matt. 24:3131And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other. (Matthew 24:31). "And it shall come to pass in that day, that the great trumpet shall be blown, and they shall come which were ready to perish in the land of Assyria, and the outcasts in the land of Egypt, and shall worship the LORD in the holy mount at Jerusalem." Isa. 27:1313And it shall come to pass in that day, that the great trumpet shall be blown, and they shall come which were ready to perish in the land of Assyria, and the outcasts in the land of Egypt, and shall worship the Lord in the holy mount at Jerusalem. (Isaiah 27:13).
Trumpets were blown in Israel on various occasions, as outlined in Numb. 10 They could be used to call the assembly together, or just to call the princes; they could sound an alarm in preparation for war, or announce days of gladness, or the beginnings of the months. In Joel 2 it says, "Blow ye the trumpet in Zion, and sound an alarm in My holy mountain: let all the inhabitants of the land tremble: for the day of the LORD cometh, for it is nigh at hand." v. 1. This verse is not what Rosh Hashanah means, for this is an alarm to be sounded when the Lord comes back to execute judgment, when He will bring all nations against Jerusalem for their destruction. This will precede the calling together of Israel at the memorial of the blowing of trumpets. Later in Joel 2 (v. 15) other sounds of the trumpet are to be heard: "Blow the trumpet in Zion, sanctify a fast, call a solemn assembly: gather the people, sanctify the congregation, assemble the elders, gather the children, and those that suck the breasts: let the bridegroom go forth of his chamber, and the bride out of her closet. Let the priests, the ministers of the LORD, weep between the porch and the altar, and let them say, Spare Thy people, O LORD, and give not Thine heritage to reproach, that the heathen should rule over them.... Then will the LORD be jealous for His land, and pity His people." vv. 15-18.
This last quotation signifies a national humbling before God in all phases—political, religious, and family life. When the Lord calls the Jews back with His purpose of blessing, it will be for humiliation and repentance. Even today the Jews look upon the ten days following Rosh Hashanah as days of penitence, and the Sabbath following their New Year celebration as "Shabat Shubah" (the Sabbath of Repentance). This brings us up to the next great Jewish festival—Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement). This year this high holy day falls on September 15.
The Day of Atonement too is to have a fulfillment of its typical import. In Lev. 23 we read: "Also on the tenth day of this seventh month there shall be a day of atonement: it shall be a holy convocation unto you; and ye shall afflict your souls, and offer an offering made by fire unto the LORD. And ye shall do no work in that same day: for it is a day of atonement, to make an atonement for you before the LORD your God. For whatsoever soul it be that shall not be afflicted in that same day, he shall be cut off from among his people." It is to be a time of special soul searching and repentance on the part of Jews brought back to their land. This is further borne out by the prophet Zechariah: "And it shall come to pass in that day, that I will seek to destroy all the nations that come against Jerusalem. And I will pour out upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplications: and they shall look upon Me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for Him, as one mourneth for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for Him, as one that is in bitterness for his firstborn. In that day shall there be a great mourning in Jerusalem
... And the land shall mourn, every family apart;... all the families that remain, every family apart, and their wives apart." Chap. 12:9-14. They will pass through great searching of heart when they see the One who was crucified; when they actually look on Him whom they pierced, they will go into intense mourning and repentance.
This soul searching is typified in the case of Joseph's brethren when they said, "God hath found out the iniquity of thy servants." They were finally brought into the realization that the one whom they rejected and sold to the Gentiles was alive and had been exalted to the place of great power and glory. Joseph dealt with his brethren in great wisdom while holding back the deep affections that burned in his heart for them. In all this he was a type of the Lord Jesus, who will lead them step by step until the climax in the soul affliction of Yom Kippur.
The 16th chapter of Leviticus is full of instruction and significance regarding the Day of Atonement. The sacrificial death of the Lord Jesus will be the grand basis for the restoration of the earthly people, and this will be climaxed for them when they see their sins completely borne away by Him as typified in the scapegoat. We are privileged to enter more into the larger character of the sin offering as signified by the bullock, but there was no scape bullock. It was when the priest came out of the sanctuary that the scapegoat was brought and the sins of the people confessed on his head. So when the Lord Jesus comes back as out of the sanctuary above, the redeemed Israel will enter into the fact that He whom they pierced actually bore their sins away, never to be remembered again.
The Jews' keeping of the Day of Atonement now is a hollow formality, for they have no temple, no priest, and no offering for sins according to the law. They do not even have the shadows of that which alone can cleanse from all sin. Of old they did not acquire a perfect conscience by the sacrifices, but there was a sanctifying "to the purifying of the flesh" (Heb. 9:9-139Which was a figure for the time then present, in which were offered both gifts and sacrifices, that could not make him that did the service perfect, as pertaining to the conscience; 10Which stood only in meats and drinks, and divers washings, and carnal ordinances, imposed on them until the time of reformation. 11But Christ being come an high priest of good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this building; 12Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us. 13For if the blood of bulls and of goats, and the ashes of an heifer sprinkling the unclean, sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh: (Hebrews 9:9‑13)). Now all this is gone. Of what use is it to have their sins brought to their remembrance and have nothing to cleanse them? The more sincere one is in remembering and confessing his sins, the greater must be his burden when he has no offering for them.
The Jews will also keep the feast of Succoth (Tabernacles) on September 20 this year. We shall not go into the details of its typical meaning, but briefly point out that this feast foreshadows the millennial day of rest. It lasts seven days, or a complete cycle, so the millennial reign of Christ will be for 1000 years, as we learn from Scripture. The feast also has a supplemental day, the eighth day, which foreshadows the day of eternity; for the number eight indicates the bringing in of a new week, or a new thing.
While we may reasonably expect that Rosh Hashanah will be really fulfilled on the day of its keeping—that is, that the Lord will come and send forth His angels with the sound of a trumpet to regather Israel on the day in which they keep the "memorial of blowing of trumpets," which according to the Jewish lunar calendar falls either in September or October each year—yet this is in NO way to be confused with His coming to call His heavenly people home. There is no date or hint of a date for that grand event for which we are waiting. In Lev. 23, which gives exact dates for the seven "feasts of the Loan," there is one parenthetical verse which applies to our being taken to be with Christ. It is verse 22, which reads: "And when ye reap the harvest of your land, thou shalt not make clean riddance of the corners of thy field when thou reapest, neither shalt thou gather any gleaning of thy harvest: thou shalt leave them unto the poor, and to the stranger: I am the LORD your God."
No date is given for reaping the harvest, nor does the verse seem important to the yearly religious festivals of the Jews, but there, between the feast which prefigured the coming of the Holy Spirit to form the Church, and the Lord's coming to regather Israel, is a parenthesis which indicates that at some indefinite time the harvest was to gathered in. Even so, the Lord shall come and gather into His heavenly garner the harvest from the earth—the people that He is taking out of the Gentiles for Himself (Acts 15:1414Simeon hath declared how God at the first did visit the Gentiles, to take out of them a people for his name. (Acts 15:14)).
To confuse the indefinite time of the reaping of the harvest for heavenly glory with Christ's coming to Israel on earth is to mix two entirely separate truths. This has been done by some Christians who, as a result of the mixing things heavenly and earthly, say that the Lord will not come for the Church except in the months of September or October, according to the time of the feast of the memorial of the blowing of trumpets. This conclusion is utterly false, and the net result would be to have Christians go to sleep for ten months in a year, thinking that He will not come in them. This is the work of the enemy, who would have us say, "My lord delayeth his coming." Fellow Christians, let us rouse ourselves from any lethargy and spiritual sloth, and be as men that wait for their Lord.
The grain left in the corners of the field for the poor and the stranger represents blessing left for poor Jews and stranger Gentiles who will be martyred for their faithfulness during the tribulation period. They too will share in the heavenly blessing.