Rosh Hashanah or
_ Feast of Trumpets _
NEW YEAR'S DAY for the Jews is not a holiday, it is a holy day, often called, together with the Day of Atonement, the "days of awe." It is celebrated on the first and second days of Tishri. It is not a time of frivolity but of introspection and prayer. It is a solemn day when Jews believe that all people stand before the Creator.
The Orthodox Jew does not come to this season unprepared. He knows the New Year is approaching. During the preceding month, the month of Elul, which to the modern Jew is the last month of the year according to the civil calendar, the approach of Rosh Hashanah is heralded by the sounding of the shofar in the synagogue. All year long the shofar, which is usually a ram's horn, lies hidden, probably in the holy ark in the synagogue. It is not sounded on the Sabbath. However, on the first day of Elul, it is taken from its hiding place to play a prominent role as Israel's days of awe approach. The sounding of the shofar reaches its crescendo on Rosh Hashanah, when it is sounded after the reading of the Law.
The Sacrifice of Isaac
The reading of the Law on the second day's service is the story of the sacrifice of Isaac. The rabbis believe that the sacrifice of Isaac, when a ram was offered in his stead, took place on New Year's Day. Because of this belief, this story, together with that of Isaac's birth, is the basis of the liturgy of the second day's service in the synagogue.
Because of this, there is no Bible story more familiar to the Orthodox Jew than the story of Abraham offering up Isaac. It abounds in spiritual truth. This story is found in Genesis, chapter 22. It is helpful to study it together with Psalm 22 and Luke 22:42·44.
It is the story of Abraham's faithfulness: Some time later God tested Abraham (Genesis
22:1). We should realize that God did not tempt Abraham, as the
Authorized Version states; God tested Abraham. When Satan tempts, he
tries to defeat us. When God tests, He provides
However, it is well to see that God confers a signal honor upon us when He thus tests our hearts. We never read that the Lord did tempt Lot. No, Sodom tempted Lot. He never reached a sufficiently high elevation to warrant his being tried by the hand of Jehovah. It was too plainly manifested that there was plenty between his heart and the Lord, and it did not, therefore, require the furnace to bring that out. Sodom would have held out no temptation whatever to Abraham. This was made manifest in his interview with Sodom's king, in chapter 14. God knew well that Abraham loved Him far better than Sodom; but He would make it manifest that he loved Him better than anyone or anything, by laying His hand upon the nearest and dearest object, "Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac."! 'Mackintosh, C. H., Notes on Genesis, pp. 225·226; Genesis to Deuteronomy, pp.
For many long years Abraham waited for his promised seed. Finally, the Lord gave him a son by Sarah and then commanded him to cast out Ishmael, the son of the bondwoman. That in itself was enough to test any man. It was a test of faith. But Abraham believed God and obeyed Him.
Isaac's birth was in a very real sense miraculous. He was the seed of Abraham, born after his mother was past the age of childbearing (Genesis 18:11). Perhaps Abraham even thought that Isaac was the Messiah. (This is one of the reasons why Jewish couples earnestly desire their firstborn to be a son. They hope he may be the Messiah.) But the promised Messiah was not only to be the seed of Abraham, but also the seed of the woman (Genesis 3:15). Thus we see Jesus, born of a virgin, Mary, who was herself of the seed of Abraham.
Isaac grew into young manhood. Josephus says that Isaac was twenty-seven years old when his father was told to sacrifice him. The Scriptures don't give his exact age, however, but he had grown strong enough to carry the wood that covered the altar that was large enough to bear his body. Thus, he was not a young weakling.
Abraham Believed God
It was when Abraham's only son, the heir to the Abrahamic covenant, the son of promise whom he greatly loved, blossomed into manhood that God ordered Abraham to offer him up as a sacrifice on Mount Moriah. This command did not come from within Abraham, it was not suggested by the human sacrifices of the Canaanites, nor did it come from Satan. It came from the one true God, who was proving Abraham's faith! The final issue dearly showed that God wasn't interested in the death of Isaac. Rather, He wanted Abraham's complete surrender.
You and I know the outcome of Abraham's deep trial. At the time, Abraham did not. He drank the dregs of the bitterness of his sorrow. Imagine the pain these words must have brought to Abraham: Take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love (Genesis 22:2). He laid the wood on his son (verse 6). He told Isaac, God Himself will provide the lamb (verse 8). Then he "bound his son Isaac" and "took the knife to slay his son" (verses 9-10).
Luther remarked that it must have seemed as if God's promise would fail, or that this command came from Satan, not from God. How beautifully Paul describes Abraham's faith in Romans 4:20-21. Yet he did not waver through unbelief, [he] was strengthened in his faith, [he was] fully persuaded. But the letter to the Hebrews shows the basic reasoning of Abraham, that God could raise the dead, and figuratively speaking, he did receive Isaac back from death. (Hebrews 11:19)
Abraham's answer to his great trial was he believed God. Four centuries before any of the written Word came into existence, God spoke to him, and Abraham implicitly put his trust in God's Word. God commanded Abraham to leave his kindred, Abraham obeyed; God promised him a seed, Abraham believed. For long years Abraham waited for God to fulfill His promise. Finally, Isaac was born. God had fulfilled His promise.
The same God who fulfilled His promise now demanded that Abraham offer Isaac, his beloved son, as a sacrifice. Abraham believed God and showed his faith by his works. He knew that God honored His Word. As previously mentioned, it is very possible that he even thought that Isaac was the promised Seed of the woman of Genesis 3:15, the Messiah. In any event, Abraham knew that Isaac was his own promised seed. God had said that in his seed all peoples on earth will be blessed (Genesis 12:3). Abraham believed and obeyed God.
The key to Abraham's obedience was that he actually believed in the resurrection. If Isaac was the Messiah and the Messiah had to die, then it was necessary for God to raise Him from the dead!
By faith Abraham, when God tested him, offered Isaac as a sacrifice, He who had received the promises was about to sacrifice his one and only son, even though God had said to him, "It is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned." Abraham reasoned that God could raise the dead, and figuratively speaking, he did receive Isaac back from death" (Hebrews 11: 1 7-19).
Abraham actually expected God to raise up Isaac from the dead!
Enemies of the gospel complain that the biblical doctrine of justification by faith alone is amoral. Even some well· meaning friends of the gospel frequently teach a "faith-plus works" salvation. They complain that if righteousness is by faith alone, apart from works of the Law, then a man who is saved by faith could still commit heinous crimes. This could not be if he has the faith of Abraham.
Abraham's faith resulted in acts of obedience. Romans 4:20·24 says:
Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God,
but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, being fully persuaded
that God had power to do what He had promised. This is why "it was credited to him as righteousness." The words "it was credited to him" were written not for him alone,
but also for us, to whom God will credit righteousness-for us who believe in Him
who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead.
Abraham's trial stands out in history like a mountain peak whose height only one other Climber has been called upon to scale: "He who did not spare His own Son, but gave Him up for us all" (Romans 8:32). Abraham is a beautiful type of God the Father. Just as Abraham had an only son, whom he loved, so did God and He gave His only begotten Son to be slain for us.
God stayed the hand of Abraham before Isaac could be sacrificed. When the Lord Jesus Christ was on the cross upon which He was to be sacrificed, God did not stay His hand! Isaiah 53:10-11 says:
Yet it was the LORD'S will to crush Him and cause Him to suffer,
and though the LORD makes His life a guilt offering, He will see His offspring
and prolong His days, and the will of the LORD will prosper in His hand. After the
suffering of His soul, He will see the light of life and be satisfied; by His knowledge
My righteous servant will justify many, and He will bear their iniquities.
Two thousand years after Abraham, One stood in the Temple that crowned Mount Moriah and said, Abraham rejoiced at the thought of seeing My day; he saw it and was glad. (John 8:56). We believe that it was when Abraham received his son figuratively speaking ... back from death (Hebrews 11:19) that this prophetic rejoicing took place.
It is no wonder that Abraham called this place Jehovah-jireh, which means the LORD will provide (Genesis 22:14). Some erroneously interpret this name to mean that God will provide for all our needs. This is a comforting truth, but it is not the one taught in the name Jehovah-jireh. The reason for this name is given in Genesis 22:14: On the mountain of the LORD it will be provided." What was it that Abraham saw after he had received Isaac as if from the dead? Abraham looked up and there in a thicket he saw a ram caught by its horns. He went over and took the ram and sacrificed it as a burnt offering instead of his son (Genesis 22:13). Years later, John the Baptist exclaimed in joy when he saw Jesus, the Messiah, Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! (John 1:29). Thus, we see another truth in the offering up of Isaac. It is a type of God's provision of a sacrifice. But our Lord Jesus Christ did what Isaac could not do-He became our Sacrifice for sin.
Abraham was not the only one whose faith was tested on Mount Moriah. Isaac was a grown man and could easily have resisted his aged father, but he was obedient. We have mentioned that he was not an infant. It takes strength to climb mountains; it takes greater strength to climb mountains carrying wood. How much wood Isaac carried, we do not know, but it was sufficient to bear his body.
Think for a moment of the important effect of this event upon Isaac. From the account in Genesis 22, it seems as if Isaac was ignorant of the fact that he was to be offered up as a sacrifice. Imagine then how he felt when he was actually tied to the altar and watched as his father reached for his knife! Two thousand years later, One also bore the wood of sacrifice, but He knew what He was doing. He had been born for this very purpose.
The Scriptures do not tell us how Isaac acted when he was bound to the altar. We have seen him as a robust youth who, as previously mentioned, could have resisted Abraham if he so desired. But he didn't resist. When he allowed himself to be bound and laid upon the altar, he fully entered into the spirit of Abraham; he joined in Abraham's faith. In so doing, he showed himself to be the heir to the promises. How much was the behavior of Isaac like our Lord, who was oppressed and afflicted, yet He did not open His mouth; He was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is silent, so He did not open His mouth (Isaiah 53:7).
In both Psalm 22 and Luke 22:42-44 we see parallels between the story of Isaac in Genesis 22 and the sacrifice of our Lord. As Isaac lay on the altar and saw the hand of Abraham upraised, certainly he could have wondered, "Father, why have you forsaken me?" But the record is silent. The whole picture given of Isaac shows him in the same attitude as our Lord in Gethsemane, Not as I will, but as You will. (Matthew 26:39).
The timing of Isaac's sacrifice is also symbolic. When God commanded Abraham to offer up Isaac, he obeyed; and in Abraham's heart, Isaac was dead from that moment on. We should realize that Abraham did not know for sure that God would also provide a way out (1 Corinthians 10:13), although he had faith in God's goodness. It was three days later that Isaac was offered, and it was on this third day that Isaac was returned to his father. To some this may seem to be an unimportant detail, but as we saw in Hebrews, chapter 11, Abraham, "figuratively speaking, did receive Isaac back from death." Isaac is clearly a type of the Lord Jesus Christ, who rose on the third day, having yielded up His spirit to the Father. Thus the Father also received His Son on the third day.
God not only "provided a way out" for Abraham; He also provided the lamb for the sacrifice. Abraham looked up and there in a thicket he saw a ram caught by its horns. He went over and took the ram and sacrificed it as a burnt offering instead of his son. (Genesis 22:13). And thus God the Father has provided us a way of escape from the penalty of sin: For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 6:23).
This is why the shofar is sounded on Rosh Hashanah.
How about you?
Have you received your Redeemer, the Stone whom the builders rejected?
In Him is life, light and joy and in His sacrifice is forgiveness of sin.
He, the Messiah is the way to Eternal Shabbath, Yom Shekulo Shabbat!
- The Messianic Age Day of Total Shabbat -
Eternal Paradise/Heaven, of the world to come.
Is that of one long extended, unending eternal Sabbath Day.
Reprinted for educational purposes from:
ISRAEL’S Holy Days, In type and Prophecy, Daniel Fuchs, chapter 7
Chosen People Ministries www.chosenpeople.com .
And other publication sources.
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