Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur – they are the High Holy Days of the Jewish year. But what is their significance for Christians? Do these holidays still hold meaning and power for those of us who either aren’t Jewish or are Jewish Believers?
If you know me, you know that my answer is obvious. Yes! But why? Why do we, as Christians (or Messianic Believers) celebrate the High Holy Days?
First of all, when it comes to celebrating the Biblical Holidays in general, I believe that we serve a God who never changes, and our God created these holidays for us as Appointed Times. Did you get that? God created holidays as an “appointment” to meet with us, and for us to celebrate! Their importance and significance has not been diminished over the years, because God never changes! We also know from Scripture that Yeshua (Jesus) celebrated these holidays and commanded us to imitate Him. The early believers all worshiped in the context of Judaism, and these holidays were celebrated by believers until antisemitism crept in and began pulling Christians away from their roots.
So with that established, you may now be thinking “Okay, I see that there’s value in celebrating God’s holidays, but what are Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur all about? How do I celebrated them?”
Let’s start with this. The main theme of the High Holy Days is repentance. These are good days, but weighty days. They are joyous, because we serve a God who forgives, a God who desires right relationship with His people and gives us a way to be right with Him through His Son. But they are still serious, because our sin separates us from God, and that is a very serious thing.
Rosh Hashanah is known in Scripture as Yom Teruah – the Day of Blowing, what we also call the Feast of Trumpets. On this day, there are only a couple of commands – to gather together (a holy convocation) and to listen to the blowing of the shofar.
What is the significance of the shofar? The shofar has been used in Scripture as an audible symbol of the presence of God. It brings us back to Mount Sinai, where the people heard the shofar blast growing louder and louder, as God Almighty was preparing to give His people His instructions for life. It was used in worship throughout centuries. And we know that when our Messiah comes again, the sound of the shofar will precede Him. God, in His wisdom, established a holiday in which we are to listen to the shofar. We not only spend this time looking forward to His final return, but we remember the importance of paying attention to His presence in our lives now and listening to His voice.
Rosh Hashanah also begins what is called the 10 Days of Awe. This is a time set aside for introspection and righting wrongs in your life, especially in the area of relationships with others. This time prepares you for the holiest day of the year, Yom Kippur.
Yom Kippur is the Day of Atonement. It is the holiest day of the year. Unlike other holidays which are feasts, Yom Kippur is a day of fasting. It is a somber day. Jewish people traditionally spend this day in prayer, repenting for sin and asking God to seal them in the Book of Life for another year. As Christians, we don’t believe that we need to ask for salvation year after year. Our salvation is promised to us through our surrender of our lives to the Lord.
But there is still great value to keeping Yom Kippur! We still have the theme of repentance that is so important. It is another chance to make sure our lives are in right standing with God. We remember that atonement for our sins was bought with Yeshua’s blood. And we thank Him that we know our names are written in the Book of Life!
I hope that I have inspired you to celebrate these fall feasts to some degree through this little blog post. God has designed these Appointed Days with so much meaning and purpose, and I know He has something planned for you in them as well.