New Beginnings: Rosh Hashanah for Christian Homeschoolers
I love fall…the changing leaves that bring bright beautiful colors, evening walks in the cool, crisp air, harvest vegetables on our table, hot apple cider, and new beginnings.
As homeschoolers, we’re getting ready to start a new year. We’re putting together curriculum, schedules, and goals for our family. It all can be a little overwhelming. But, just like each day, when we begin with our focus on Jesus, it can make all the difference.
There is a special holiday in Judaism that marks the beginning of the year, called Rosh Hashanah (literally “head of the year”), which falls in early Autumn. If you’ve ever wanted to know more about the Jewish Feasts, how they relate to Jesus, and what they mean for you as a Christian, read on…
To understand why the The Feast of Trumpets is celebrated, we must go to Leviticus 23 in the Bible:
The L-rd said to Moses, “give the following instructions to the people of Israel. On the first day of the appointed month in early Autumn, you are to observe a day of complete rest. It will be an official day for holy assembly, a day commemorated with loud blasts of a trumpet. You must do no ordinary work on that day. Instead, you are to present special gifts to the L-rd.”
In synagogues and according to Jewish tradition, the shofar, or ram’s horn, is blown. This tradition comes from belief that after Abraham was called to sacrifice Isaac, G-d told him to blow a ram’s horn every year at the same time to remember that he had provided the sacrifice. The sound of the shofar is a call to repentance and some deep soul-searching. We recognize that G-d has kept us through another year, and we are about to begin a new one. As the shofar blows its loud cry, our hearts are awakened to examine our lives, taking care to change the things that aren’t bringing us closer to G-d or each other.
Another facet of Rosh Hashanah is when we demonstrate our change of heart by walking to a nearby stream and throwing rocks or bread crumbs into the water, representing our sins. As we get rid of the old ways and watch them drift slowly away, we look forward to embracing the new. (“See, I am doing something new; it’s springing up-can’t you see it?” Isaiah 43:19)
Raised as a traditional Jew, it wasn’t until I was an adult and began to read the Bible for myself, that I thought more deeply about the story of Abraham and Isaac. After G-d had called Abraham to sacrifice Isaac, and while they were ascending the mountain, Isaac spoke and said to Abraham, “My father?” He answered, “Here I am, my son.” He said, “I see the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for a burnt offering? Abraham replied, “G-d himself will provide the lamb for a burnt offering, my son; and they both went on together. If you know what happened next, G-d didn’t provide a lamb, he provided a ram. Why? I believe it was because G-d was showing Abraham, and his future descendants, that the lamb was still to come. Approximately 2000 years later, another son would carry wood (the cross) for the sacrifice up the same mountain and offer his life for Israel and all mankind. Instead of requiring Abraham to sacrifice his son, G-d would do it himself. That is love!
For Christians and Jewish believers in Jesus, the celebration of Rosh Hashanah is a preparation for what is to come when he returns. The Bible tells us we do not know the day or the hour of his return, but we should be watching and preparing. Daily, we should be practicing repentance to make ourselves ready. 1 Thessalonians 4:16-18 says, “For the L-rd himself will come down from heaven with a rousing cry, with a call from one of the ruling angels, and with G-d’s shofar (or trumpet); those who died united with the Messiah will be the first to rise; then we who are left still alive will be caught up with him in the clouds to meet the L-rd in the air; and thus we will always be with the L-rd. So, encourage each other with these words.”
In traditional Judaism, it is believed G-d writes our names in the book of life during Rosh Hashana. But, as believers in the Messiah, we know it is only through trust in his perfect sacrifice that we can find eternal life. If you know and follow the King of Kings, you can look forward to not only a sweet year, but an eternity spent in everlasting joy. The king has a place for you at his table, and he is coming soon!
Rosh Hashanah Challah is in the shape of a crown, to represent the kingship of G-d and the “head” of the new year.
Check back at ajoyfuljewishjourney.blogspot.com in the coming weeks for an extensive unit study on The Feast of Trumpets in e-book form that includes activities for celebrating the feast with your family, science and math activities, geography, history and culture of Israel, crafts, recipes and more!
Thank you for reading this post about Rosh Hashanah for Christian Homeschoolers.