How is Rosh Hashana the New Year?
First things first: Many of us, especially believers from a non-Jewish tradition have puzzled over this scripture:
“On the first day of the seventh month, you are to hold a sacred assembly, and you must not do any regular work. This will be a day for you to sound the trumpets.” (Numbers 29:1)
This scripture helps us to see why Rosh Hashana is called ‘The Feast of Trumpets’ but it leaves us pondering how the seventh month can be the Jewish new year! Or why is it called Rosh Hashana! Here is the explanation: Exodus 12:2 informs us that the Jewish Calendar begins with the first month, known today as Nissan, which is when the exodus from Egypt occurred, and as a result when we celebrate Passover.
However, in Jewish tradition, there are several new years. Whilst the month of Nisan represents the beginning of the religious year and the start for calculating the reign of kings, Tishri the seventh month, according to Jewish tradition is the beginning of the Jewish civil year.
There is another Jewish tradition that says that Rosh Hashanah commemorates the creation of Adam and Eve which connects us with another theme of this mysterious holiday and that is the kingship of God over our lives. And the reason it is called Rosh Hashanah, which means the ‘head of the year’ is perhaps because it is the most important beginning of all: the start of our human experience under God’s Kingship!
What is the Prophetic Significance of Rosh Hashana?
Now that we have understood this, we can move onto the prophetic significance of the trumpets which herald Rosh Hashana, The Feast of Trumpets. During the Rosh Hashanah service, the blowing of the shofar features as a call to our hearts, a call to repentance. It is blown 100 times in modern services and so has great significance. It is possible that Paul alludes to this Jewish tradition when he speaks of the last trumpet at the rapture:
“Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed – in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed” (1 Cor. 15:51-52).
In his letter to the Thessalonians, Paul also writes,
“For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep. For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Messiah will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord” (1 Thess. 4:15-17).
Since Rosh Hashanah is the “Day of the Blowing of the Shofar”, it looks forward to that moment in the last days when we will hear that great sound of the shofar. When God will transform the bodies of believers who have died and give them new, immortal bodies.
The sounding of the shofar on this festival is a powerful reminder: it looks back to the creation of our physical bodies and points forward to our new spiritual bodies. It also encourages us because our bodies are only temporary, we look forward to our eternal bodies, in which we will see the Lord face to face when we will be with Him forever.