Last week I shared about the Feast of Trumpets which is a God-designated feast. The festival is also called Rosh haShanah, and several other names, which we'll explore because with each name comes a revelation about God's prophetic plan!
This week I want to insert something important for our understanding that will help provide the how and why to this study, and then next week we'll get back into more detail about the Feast of Trumpets, the High Holy Days, and Yom Kippur.
Rosh haShanah means 'the head of the year'
Just like with the new year start with the 'Gentile' January 1st, it is a time of starting afresh after judging oneself on the past year. In many if not most Jewish communities Rosh haShanah is a 2 day celebration, the 1st and 2nd of Tishri. Think about the US Thanksgiving Day which occurs on the last Thursday of each November - how many people feel like doing anything on Friday after Thanksgiving other than digest the feast they ate the day before? Or, how many really feel like going to work on January 2nd after New Year's Day on the 1st? So the 1st of Tishri spills over into the 2nd as per human nature, lol.
Israel has 2 calendars; A sacred and a civil. The sacred calendar was started by God on Nisan 1 as He stated in Exodus 12: 2: "This month shall be the beginning of months; it shall be the first month of the year to you." (In 2018 the 1st of Nisan was our March 17. Their year 5778). It is on the 10th of Nisan that Passover week starts.
The Civil calendar is how the terms of kings are measured
They used the civil calendar for things like real estate transactions, marriages and divorces and such - in their thinking you cannot mix the sacred calendar which is all about God's festivals, with secular life. The civil calendar starts at the Feast of Trumpets, Rosh haShanah - the head of the year.
But no where in the OT does God designate Tishri 1 as the New Year of the Civil Calendar. But there are hints throughout the OT they considered it almost immediately to be the civil New Year, and certainly in the ancient writings of the Rabbi's they designated it such. (In the Mishnah, Rosh haShanah 1:1 states: "The first of Tishri is the beginning of years for sabbatical cycles, and the jubilee.") Also, Nehemiah 8: 1-8 was on Tishri 1, a new start for the exiles returning to the land, etc.
Additionally many ancient semitic cultures started their civil year after the fall harvest. The Egyptians had a sacred and civil calendar as well; their civil year starting around July 20. But for many semitic people the new agricultural season after the fall harvest became the 1st of the new year. God clearly didn't forbid it, and in fact as the ancient cultures show, and Israel's writings and OT hints at, this was their practice. So Israel has had 2 calendars for centuries.
At this point
Some readers might ask if we cannot find many of the beliefs and practices in the actual Old Testament, why then should we pay attention to them? Are they valid beliefs and practices?
The answer is this: It is in the writings of the ancient Rabbi's that we find out HOW they practiced chapter and verse - how they lived it out. In the Talmud (Mishnah & Gemara), Targum, and Midrash, we find the 'how to' of their faith. These books are the commentaries, customs, and practices of ancient Israel, written by Rabbi's down through the centuries.
For instance, how many Christians have attended a Passover Seder? In scripture only 3 elements are mentioned as required: Roasted lamb, bread with no yeast, and bitter herbs. (Exodus 12: 8) But nothing is said HOW to eat it.
If you've attended a Seder you know we often find salt water, an egg, the Afikoman which is half the bread broken off, hidden in linen and revealed later to be eaten, and more. Where did these come from as they aren't in scripture, nor are the instructions on how to eat the Passover meal? The how-to came from the Rabbi's of ancient times - the 'how to' do the Passover. You won't find it chapter and verse, but it is clearly ancient and derived from God's original instructions.
The apostle Paul in Ephesians 5: 14-17 directly quotes and paraphrases this section of the Rabbi's from Rambam, Hilchot Teshuvah (ch 3):
"Awake you sleepers from your sleep, and you slumberers, arise from your slumber; examine your deeds, repent and remember your Creator. Those of you who forget the truth in the vanities of the times...look into your souls and improve your ways and actions, let each forsake his evil path and his thoughts which are not good..."
What Paul wrote: "...awake you who sleep, and arise from the dead, and Messiah will give you light. See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, redeeming the time because the days are evil. Therefore don't be unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is." Paul included Rabbinical works in and as, scripture in this instance, giving some validity to these sources in some cases.
Another example is the contrast between Genesis 12:1 and Acts 7: 2. In Genesis 12:1 we read this: "God said to Abram, leave your country, away from your family, to a land I will show you." That's it, God told him.
But when Steven is giving his defense in Acts 7:2, about 50 verses of that chapter are nothing more than the history of Israel, which was clearly common knowledge for those listening because he was allowed to continue uninterrupted and without correction. In v2 he said, "...the God of glory appeared to our father Abraham while he lived in Mesopotamia before he lived in Haran, saying, 'Leave your country, away from your family, to a land I will show you."
Do you see the difference? Steven knew God actually appeared to Abraham, but Moses in Genesis 12:1 left that detail out. All Moses told us was that God told him. How did the whole of Judaism know God actually appeared to Abraham to tell him to leave? By the oral and written history passed down through ages and generations. I could go on and on, (Look at the information Steven shares in v19-25 which is information not found in Exodus, as another example.)
In a very practical sense I remember 'helping' my mom in the kitchen as a boy - she was an award winning cook - and she would have her written recipe, but then she would tell me things like "The recipe says this, but I do it this way, it makes a difference', and so on. One was the written word of her recipe, the other the 'how to'. I could add in examples of my dad and I fixing appliances, manual in hand, but the doing of it was always a bit different, or additional details were needed the manual didn't include. Just because something wasn't in mom's recipe did not invalidate the recipe or meal. The same with my dad fixing things around the house using his own knowledge and skills beyond what was written in a manual.
So that is why these additional pieces of information from the Rabbi's are valid and important to our understanding.
Where were we...
The above was for the purpose that I want anyone reading this to be able to answer objections or questions they may face if they share the above - what I share is pure from scripture and the Rabbi's. I'm not claiming to be perfect by any means, but I stick to what is solid and balanced and right and don't delve into sensationalism nor do I go off on tangents that can't be supported by scripture and/or history, culture, or ancient knowledge.
Next week I'll pick up again with why the Feast of Trumpets occurs on the new moon phase, what the concealment is all about, and what the earth is going through during the time after the Last Trump is blown, showing NT verse related to all this. Thank you for reading this foundational understanding and the why they are valid and important. Until next week, blessings!
(And remember my Wednesday morning Facebook and YouTube video teachings are covering the same subject as this series.)
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