Sunday, September 13, 2015

Apples and Honey and Trumpets, Oh My!

This year's Rosh Hashanah snack,
complete with honey from Israel!
Some of my sweetest childhood memories are of gathering downstairs in the synagogue, feasting on apples drenched in honey.  We were celebrating Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, just as countless Jews are beginning to do around the globe tonight.  This apples and honey tradition, which follows the worship service, is meant to celebrate the year behind and usher in a sweet year to come.

You see, honey is symbolic of God's Promised Land, which He said would be flowing with milk and honey.  It also reminds us of God's sustenance to the Israelites during their journey to that Promised Land, because Moses said the manna from heaven tasted like honey wafers.  And so, as the congregation partakes of this sweet snack, we are reminded of God's sustenance in years past, and look forward to a new year of sweet fellowship in the promised land of His Presence.

The congregation prays together, "May it be Thy will, O Lord our God and God of our Fathers, that you renew us for a good and sweet year."  

On the eve of such rejoicing, however, there is also the anticipation of mourning. Because, as the sun sets on Rosh Hashanah tomorrow night, all eyes and hearts will look forward ten days, toward Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement.

Hence, the trumpets.
"On the first day of the seventh month hold a sacred assembly and do no regular work.  It is a day for you to sound the trumpets."  Numbers 29:1 NIV
The biblical name of the sweet new year holiday is Yom Teruah: the Day of the Trumpet Blasts, or the Feast of Trumpets.  Over the course of the sacred assembly - even today - the ram's horn is blown 100 times.

The trumpet blast serves as a call to repentance as the Day of Atonement approaches.  It remains the holiest day on the Jewish, Old Testament calendar.  Yom Kippur was the one day on which the high priest entered the Holy of Holies, under cover of thick incense, to offer atonement for the sins of the entire nation.*

And so, during the Rosh Hashanah assembly ten days beforehand, the ram's horn is blown.  Over and over and over again.  And as the ram's horn pierces the air, it proclaims three things.  Literally.

The three "words" spoken by the ram's horn - based on three different words God uses to describe the trumpet blast in the Old Testament - are Tekia, Shevarim and Teru'ah.
Tekia is a single, long blast.  This trumpet sound was used to announce a king.  So, on the Feast of Trumpets, this sound announced the coming of the Heavenly King to pronounce judgment.
Shevarim refers to three short sounds that are an ancient, auditory picture of wailing.  It calls God's people to recognize and mourn their sin before Him. 
Teru'ah is a series of nine quick blasts.  It served as an alarm.  With the first two proclamations in mind, this alarm alerts people to wake up and make things right with God and with the people around them.
From the holy hill of Jerusalem, the Rosh Hashanah trumpet blasts prepared the hearts of God's people to receive His coming forgiveness on Yom Kippur, which would be based on the atoning blood of a perfect lamb.  

Those three cries of the ram's horn also proclaimed a vivid picture of our Triune God, including the nature of the coming Messiah, the atoning blood of the perfect Lamb of God. 
Tekia!  All hail!  The Heavenly King, the Father, is coming!
Shevarim!  Mourn!  The Messiah, the Son, will take our place in death.
Teru'ah!  Wake up from your mourning!  The Holy Spirit has raised Christ from the grave!  And He will rouse and prompt and guide you until the day He raises you from yours as well.
There's no sweeter news I can possibly think of than the salvation proclamation of the ram's horn on this holy day!  So grab some apples and honey and celebrate our King, our Savior and our ever-present Holy Spirit.

Taste and see that the Lord is good!

*To learn more about the Feast of Trumpets, the Day of Atonement, and other Jewish feasts, read Tammy's past blog entries and/or written resources (