Reflections on Rosh Hashanah

This post first appeared on Kineti and is authored by Judah Gabriel Himango, one of Tabernacle of David’s teachers.

Shalom Kineti readers,

L’shana tova, a happy Rosh Hashanah/Yom Teruah to all you fine folks. If you’re wondering how to celebrate, see my previous post.

Can I share something that’s on my heart this week?

Turn to the Lord, now, in this special time. The Scriptures command us to “seek the Lord while he may be found.” There’s never a bad time to return to God, but during these High Holy Days the time is right.

In Jeremiah, God warned the people again and again to turn from their sins. Jeremiah says to Israel in exasperation,

For these 23 years the word of Adonai has come to me. So I have spoken to you, speaking early and often, but you have not listened.

Additionally, Adonai has sent to you all His servants the prophets, sending them early and often—but you have not listened or inclined your ear to hear— saying: ‘Turn, now, everyone from his evil way, and from the evil of your deeds, and dwell in the land that Adonai has given to you and to your fathers forever and ever. Do not go after other gods to serve them, to worship them, and so do not provoke Me with the work of your hands, so I would do you no harm.’

“Yet you have not listened to Me,” declares Adonai. “So you are provoking Me with the work of your hands, to your own hurt.”

Can you hear and heed that?

Don’t think about other people, or the culture, or the politicians you don’t like. Think about yourself.

Our sin — my sin, your sin — provokes God to anger, to our own destruction.

God says that He is slow to anger, but not so that we’d keep sinning. Rather, slow to anger so that we’d return to Him:

But you, O man—judging those practicing [sin] yet doing the same—do you suppose that you will escape the judgment of God? Or do you belittle the riches of His kindness and tolerance and patience—not realizing that God’s kindness leads you to repentance?

Can you return to God, dear reader? Can you get rid of the sins, even the private ones you keep from everybody?

Our reward for turning to God is glory and joy and honor and eternal life. Our reward for sin is destruction.

But by your hard and unrepentant heart, you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath, when God’s righteous judgment is revealed. He will pay back each person according to his deeds. To those who by perseverance in doing good are seeking glory, honor, and immortality—eternal life. But to those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness—wrath and fury. There will be trouble and hardship for every human soul that does evil—to the Jew first and also to the Greek. But there will be glory, honor, and shalom to everyone who does good—to the Jew first and also to the Greek.

I am turning to God now, friends, getting sin out of my life and returning to the Lord. I hope you’ll do the same, dear reader.

What does all this have to do with Rosh Hashana/Yom Teruah? One of the few commandments God has for us on this holy day is to hear the sound of the shofar and remember. Remember what? The coming judgment and the resurrection of the dead.

There will come a day, friends, when a loud blast of the shofar from heaven will sound and God will, by incomprehensible miracle, raise the dead. At the end, the living and the dead will be judged. Let’s turn to God now, before that time. The shofar you hear on this day will be a reminder for you to turn from sin and turn to the Lord.

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