You'll recall from Part 1 and Part 2 of the Rosh HaShanah series that a predominant theme of Rosh HaShanah is that of repentance. During this Holy Day, as Jews gather together, they do so in acknowledgment that it is before their Creator and King, that they are assembled.
Rabbinical tradition holds that, beginning on Rosh HaShanah and ending at Yom Kippur, the very destinies of Jewish men and women hang in the balance. For some--the righteous and/or repentant--they will receive the good fortune of having their names written in the Book of Life. Others--the wicked and/or impenitent--will have their names inscribed in the Book of Death.
So, what truth is there in this long-held belief of many Jewish people? What do we as Yeshua’s followers believe?
1. In one sense, judgement day has come, in that God's wrath against man's sin fell upon His sinless Son, Yeshua, at Golgotha about 2,000 years ago. (see 2 Cor. 5:21, Gal. 3:13, Isa. 53:4-6).
2. In placing our trust in Messiah's atoning work when he hung on the Tree (Gal. 3:13), by God's grace our names are written in the Lamb's Book of Life (Rev. 13:8, 20:15)
3. The Word of God teaches that our sin was judged on Messiah's Tree, but that there remains a time when even believers will give an account to God. On that Day we will be "recompensed for our deeds in the body, according to what we have done, whether good or bad." (2 Cor. 5:10; see also 1 Cor. 3:13)
4. For the unbeliever, the wicked and unrepentant--i.e. anyone whose name has not been written in the Book of Life--there remains a fearful expectation of judgement, even the Lake of Fire. (Hebrews 10:27; Rev. 20:15)
The "Calling Up" of the New Creation
While the term "Rapture" may carry a plethora of connotations for those of you reading this, it is a term nevertheless used in Scripture, and one that carries associations with Rosh HaShanah/Yom Teruah, so let’s definitely take a look.
No matter your source, the Bible passages cited most to note the relationship between Yom Teruah and the Rapture are:
1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 (TLV):
For the Lord Himself shall come down from heaven with a commanding shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the blast of God’s shofar, and the dead in Messiah shall rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left behind, will be caught up [Latin = rapture] together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air—and so we shall always be with the Lord.
...and 1 Corinthians 15:51-52 (TLV):
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 shofar. For the shofar will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we will be changed.
We see from the Thessalonians passage that there is certainly a connection between the "blast of God's shofar" and the rising of the “dead in Messiah” (Saints). Further, we see that this “rising up” of the “dead in Messiah” is to be followed by the believers (who are still alive) being "caught up together with them [i.e. the risen ones] in the clouds." In Corinthians, a similar correlation is made: "...at the last shofar... the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we will all be changed."
A profound insight is provided us by John Parsons of Hebrew for Christians, who says:
"Rosh HaShanah (or better, Yom Teruah) is therefore a sacred time that has prophetic significance for the Messianic believer, since it commemorates both the creation of the universe by Adonai as well as the "calling up" of the new creation at the behest of Yeshua, when the sound of the heavenly shofar inaugurates the anticipated End of Days."
The Future Regathering of Israel:
In addition to pointing the believer to our future "gathering together" with the Lord and His redeemed, Rosh HaShanah likewise directs our attention to another regathering: The regathering of the remnant of Israel at the second coming of Messiah.
One hope that we cling to as lovers of the God of Israel is that He will one day fulfill all of His covenant promises to the Jewish People. Among these promises are that God will return the Chosen People to their Promised Land; the fulfillment of this promise is already happening right before our eyes, and in that we rejoice! However, we know that the LORD intends not just to bring the Jewish people back to their land; God is aiming for the spiritual return (Teshuva) of Israel to Himself. Isaiah the prophet foresaw that day being inaugurated with, guess what? A great trumpet blast!
In that day from the river Euphrates to the Brook of Egypt the Lord will thresh out the grain, and you will be gleaned one by one, O people of Israel. And in that day a great trumpet will be blown, and those who were lost in the land of Assyria and those who were driven out to the land of Egypt will come and worship the Lord on the holy mountain at Jerusalem. (Isa. 27:12-13, ESV)
Messiah Yeshua, when asked about the future of Israel, confirmed this as a latter day promise in his own teaching:
He [the Son of Man] will send out his angels with a great shofar; and they will gather together his chosen people from the four winds, from one end of heaven to another. (Mt. 24:31, CJB; from Barney Kasdan’s, God's Appointed Times)
Messiah's Coronation as King Forever
Lastly, Rosh HaShanah reminds us that God is indeed "King over all the earth" (Ps. 47:2). While His kingship may not be acknowledged by everyone now, there is coming a Day when all will bow their knee before King Yeshua, and confess that He is Lord (Phil. 2:9-11). Until then, we His ambassadors are to faithfully tell all people about our King "who is and who was and who is to come" (Rev. 1:8). When He comes, it will be to Jerusalem (Zion), from which the Messiah-King will reign and rule forevermore.
- God, give me a holy anticipation for the return of Yeshua. Help me to be "watching and waiting," for His coming is soon.
- God of Israel, regather and revive the Jewish People en masse, that all of Your purposes for Israel might be fulfilled, in Yeshua's name and for His glory.