Traditionally, there are three dominant themes described in Jewish tradition that dominate the liturgy and prayers for Rosh Hashanah. The first theme is Kingship (Malchiyot), the second is Remembrance (Zichronot), and the third is the Shofar (Shofarot). Each of these themes is designed to remind us of God’s purpose and plan for mankind at the beginning of the New Year.
On Rosh Hashanah, we remind ourselves that the Creator of the universe is King of the universe and Lord of our lives.
According to Jewish tradition,
In Malchiyot, just as trumpets are joyously sounded when a king ascends his throne, we sound the shofar as we reestablish God’s dominion over us as our King for another year.
This also emphasizes the fact that we must serve the Almighty the same way a servant serves his king – with absolute and total dedication.
This concept is called kabalat ol malchut shamayim, which means, “accepting the yoke of Heaven.” This type of service is considered most sublime, for we have subjugated our own desires and proclivities to a selfless service of God.
This is also a wonderful reminder to me as a follower of King Yeshua. He is my Lord and King, and one day He will come again to reign over His literal Davidic kingdom, and the blessings promised to Abraham in Genesis 12:3 will flow throughout the earth and be enjoyed by both Jews and Gentiles. As Paul describes in Philippians chapter 2,
“For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Phil. 2:9-11).
Rosh Hashanah is a wonderful time of the year to rededicate yourself to Yeshua and to make sure He reigns on the throne of your life.
Are there any particular areas that you continue to control, or have you bowed in obedience and asked Him to be Lord in every area of your life? This is a good time to identify the areas of your life you believe are not currently under His dominion.
List them, ask God to guide you to see yourself as He sees you, and then turn from your self-control, elevating the Lord to His rightful place in every area of your life.
This second theme of the holiday again harkens us back to Genesis 22 – the great story of Abraham’s almost-sacrifice of his son Isaac, which is read in the synagogue during the holiday.
The rabbis reflect upon this encounter between Abraham and God, which took place on Mount Moriah where the Temple would later be built and, of course, where Jesus would be sacrificed.
Again, according to tradition, in Zichronot we call upon to God to “remember” the dedication of our ancestors as exhibited by both Abraham and Isaac. God commanded Abraham to offer his beloved son Isaac as a sacrifice.
At the last moment, God informed Abraham that it was merely a test, and instead of sacrificing Isaac he would offer a nearby ram. By blowing the shofar, a ram’s horn, we remind God of the dedication displayed by both Abraham and Isaac.
I am further reminded of the parallels between Isaac and Jesus when we read and study Genesis 22 in the synagogue as part of the High Holiday services.
Both Isaac and Jesus were young men who suffered innocently. They were perfectly obedient to their fathers and accepted their roles as sacrifices without complaint.
Of course, Isaac was spared but the Messiah Jesus literally died for our sins. This foreshadowing of the sacrifice of Jesus in Genesis 22 stirs my heart and reminds me of the well-known verse in the Gospel of John,
“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.”(John 3:16).
I hope you will meditate on the above verse and think deeply as to how His sacrifice, love, and truth found in this well know passage of Scripture has changed your life and, if shared and believed by others, would transform theirs as well. You might focus on the word “gave” for a moment. In what way did God give us Jesus? A few thoughts come to my mind.
- He was given through incarnation.
This is the fulfillment of the words of the prophet Isaiah in chapter 7:14, 9:6-7, and in the prophecies of Isaiah’s contemporary, Micah, in chapter 5:8. The God of the universe took on human flesh and all of the weakness this implies, without taking on our sinful nature.
He then endured the hardships of life when He could have remained in heaven. He was hungry, thirsty; He understood hard work and even the pain of enduring the death of a loved one. Yet, He was without sin. I find that knowing He understands me and what I go through each day draws me closer to the Savior who the author of the Book of Hebrews declares is a “merciful and faithful high priest” (Hebrews 2:17).
- He was given in death
When I recite John 3:16, or meditate on the truth and power of the verse, I am gripped by the voluntary nature of His death. He did not have to die. God was not forced to send the Son of His love to a gruesome and painful physical death. And the Holy One of Israel certainly did not need to turn His face from His Son in that moment when eternity was transformed, as He bore our sins and endured hell on our behalf.
The giving of Jesus in sacrifice and death is the crowning moment in redemption’s story, and the evidence of God’s love for His creation.
May the Lord give you insight into His depth of His love!