Rosh Hashanah is a mystery to most people. Find out all about the ancient tradition in the article below!
To most people in America, Rosh Hashanah sounds like a fancy hotel or some type of food we would never consider eating. The real Rosh Hashanah is an ancient Jewish holiday (one of the holiest days of the year) filled with customs and beliefs revolving around judgement, repentance, redemption, and atonement of sins.
What is Rosh Hashanah?
Rosh Hashanah was originally a time when the Jewish people would begin a new year according to when they believed God first made creation. For those who were not cleansed of their sins and written in the Book of Life, they would have ten days where they could change their status with God to become saved before judgement fell upon them. This celebration happens during September or October. Although the exact words ‘Rosh Hashanah’ are not used in what we know as the Old Testament, or rather the Torah, it points back to Tishrei (God’s creation of the world) and certain scriptural phrases in Leviticus 23:23-25 which commands a day of rest and praise to God.
For most, this time always consisted of lots of prayer in the synagogue. This tradition also includes the eating of apples and honey together, symbolizing the sweetness of the year to come and God’s divinity as reality. Part of the symbolism of Rosh Hashanah was that during this ten-day time period before Yom Kippur, they may be washed of their sins. Christians can view this idea as being fulfilled by the awaited King, Jesus Christ, because through Him, all sins have been washed clean. Rosh Hashanah is filled with lots of other traditions too, such as the blowing of the shofar, a ram’s horn, symbolizing the coming of a king, sacrifice, redemption, judgement, and other aspects that ultimately point to the Cross.
Regent celebrates with special Chapel event
At Regent University, the Christian Broadcasting Network (CBN) hosts an annual Rosh Hashanah celebration. This year’s celebration included music, dancing, and entertainment that all revolved around the Jewish traditions of Rosh Hashanah, and as a Christian school, it was another opportunity for us to see the atoning of sins God has completed through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. From the beginning, God had plans set in place to one day fulfill this atonement through one person: Jesus, the Messiah. This celebration of grace can be seen in the annual redemption the Jewish community received at this time of year. Today, we celebrate as we wait on His return.
The chapel was decorated wonderfully for the celebration; there were large standing prop flames, phenomenal professional lighting and sound that produced all kinds of effects and amazing color combinations. The service began with a video that gave background information about the origins of Rosh Hashanah, which also explained the significance of why Christians can and should enjoy this celebration too—our price has been paid for by the blood of Jesus Christ, and now we await the joys of His coming again the way that the Jewish people originally waited for their salvation between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. Prayer by both Gordon Robertson and Dr. Joseph Kickasola took place immediately after. The night was then followed by a mix of worship songs sung by Paul Wilbur and dances by groups including The Messiah Company and Masterworks Performing Arts. One amazing part of this was the different types of flags that the dance companies used including some royal drape-like signs that glorified God with beautiful words about His reign as King and Messiah. There was also a shofar player, and a brief talk and prayer by Dr. Pat Robertson before the closing performance of a giant song-and-dance compilation where people in the audience were allowed to come up and worship with dance if they would like to join in.
A time of celebration and expectation
Every moment of the celebration was rich in the Holy Spirit; every person in the room cheered, clapped, sung, danced, laughed, and cried out for our heavenly Father and the return of His beloved Son. I personally felt one of the greatest bursts of joy I’ve ever had with such a deep and personal connection with God; He showed me the massive love and joy that He has for me with the message to keep my eyes focused on Him and He will provide for all my needs and worries. It was evident in that room that others were feeling the same type of overwhelming love and joy; God was giving us a glimpse into the joyous celebration that will occur when we are all united with Him in heaven. It was also a wonderful cultural event in itself too; for Christians, we were able to see the ancient traditions of Judaism played out in front of our eyes, while seeing it as part of our religious heritage.
Rosh Hashanah may be an ancient celebration, beginning a new year and a time of asking for forgiveness, but it is still something that God uses to touch our hearts today, letting this be the time for Christians to realize that they are the allies of the Jewish people and that their forgiveness has been granted through Jesus Christ, whose homecoming we await.
Abby Trivett is a staff writer for the Daily Runner.