Once again, it’s time to hear from our sister in Jerusalem about what she is witnessing there as a believer in Yeshua. Put your prayer shawls on and pray for Israel and Sister J. Now here she is …
Shalom Dear brothers and sisters,
May The Lord be glorified and blessed and may you be blessed and encouraged in Him. I am thankful for you.
Apples and Honey. As big things, humongous things, swirl all around us: Scotland, Iran, Iraq, Syria, Sudan, Yemen, Ebola, ISIS (or ISIL depending upon who is speaking), wars and rumors of war, life changing decisions and world shaking events mixed with people-shaking fears. We here in Israel sweep away the dust of war and enter the “frenzy mode” of cooking and shopping and preparing to feast before The Lord, because HE said to do it. It has often made me laugh to see all of the crisis events put on the back burner while the focus among my people turns to fulfilling the commandment.
Tradition plays a big part in every Jewish holiday, and certainly there are as many traditions as there are families (much like our Christian traditions), but all of them seem to place family, friends and food just under God.
There is little actually written in the scripture about this feast, the first of the three fall feasts. So, much of Rosh H’ashana is actually characterized by traditions. Finally, I’m beginning to understand the why of traditions. They seem to me to be focus tools, implemented to help us focus on something that God commanded and then to establish it as important in our lives.
The danger of traditions, as Yeshua constantly taught, was they may take the place of God’s commands and become the focus in and of themselves. It seems to me as I live among so many traditions that it is a heart issue, often individual. Some people focus on God and some on the tradition.
Never the less, I will describe to you some of the traditions that I witness. Hopefully, its flavor will encourage you toward God and His intent. And this is my prayer and the prayer of many other local believers that the fulfillment of these traditions may be seen and that hungry hearts may embrace the God Who calls us to His table with His trumpet blast, the sounding of the shofar.
There are definite foods that symbolize Rosh H’shana: Perhaps most prominent among them are apples (or pomegranates) and honey, almonds, dates, figs, and the head of a fish. The feast is built around these foods.
THEREFORE, the shuk (market place) just TEAMS with activity and people. Crowded streets, yummy smells and busy vendors fill the air with one resounding, “Shana tova. Shalom oo bracha vay bree-oot l col am Yisroel!” (Good new year. Peace and blessing and health to all of Am – the nation, the people, the tribes – Israel.) Gifts begin to be shared.
Working for a doctor, I am deeply humbled by the sudden blessing of a dish, a jar, some honey, a plant or a tablecloth from often aging patients who will take my hand and thank me for serving them this year. I purchase some lovely nuts from the shuk for two local shop owners who have been constantly kind and I want to thank them. Other gifts might go to the bus driver or a guard that sits at the market and a generous 20shekels (instead of the usual 1/2shekel) pressed into the hand of a familiar elderly beggar bringing such her surprised joy.
We are thankful for one another. It is GOOD to stop and remember that all of ‘us dust balls’ are made in God’s image.
And mingled with the sound of the impatient car horns is the high call of the shofar bidding each one to come to the mercy seat, as families and singles gathered with families. Come to the mercy seat with apples and honey, almonds and dates and remember the sweetness of the land and the promises that God Almighty has given us and be humbled at the thought of His Greatness.
My boss brings his shofar to work and each morning blows it in the 4 directions at the door of the clinic. An older learned patient who came by at 7 a.m. this morning told us about a time that he was asked to demonstrate and explain the blowing of the shofar to a class of 6 year olds.
He said to them, “Do you know how sometimes you need something very badly…maybe you are scared and you need a hug, or maybe you hurt your knee and you need your Ima or Abba to make it better? Do you ever run to Ima or Abba and don’t know what to say, so you just cry? Sometimes there is something inside of you that seems too big and you can’t say it, so you cry, am I right?’”
He said all of the children said, “Yes yes! That is right!“
He continued. “Well…THAT is the blowing of the shofar. We are the children of Adonai and we don’t know what we need, but we need Him and we call to Him and we cry to Him and we come to Him. And when we blow the shofar, we are crying to Him and calling each other to come and cry to Him too. He is our Abba.”
He told us that the children ALL seemed to understand.
I understood and saw how it fit in with our prayers this morning for the hearts of the people to be turned to Him this season of the fall feasts and for them to come to Him and SEE HIM AS HE IS.
So he calls this the Feast of trumpets and commands us to come aside and stop all work and have a holy convocation and to blow the shofarim (ram’s horn trumpets). KNOWING that exactly 10 days later we are called to afflict our souls and seek repentance. We know that the shofar is calling us to Him at this time, just as it called the children of Israel to the mount when the 10 commandments were given and they feared greatly when they heard the trumpet blast. Tt is a fearful thing to fall into the Hands of The Living God…if you do not know that you are covered by The Blood of The Perfect Lamb!
With tons more to say, I will leave you with ‘AMEN!’ as we turn our hearts to Him to press into the reality of all He is, all He asks, all He calls us to…each one called alone, and yet as one in His body. God Bless and keep you dear brothers and sisters.