Rosh HaShanah–a Call to Blessing

Jew at Prayer

Illustration: “Jew at Prayer,” by Marc Chagall, oil on canvas, 1913.

“And the angel of the LORD called to Abraham a second time from heaven and said, ‘By myself I have sworn, declares the LORD, because you have done this and have not withheld your son, your only son, I will surely bless you, and I will surely multiply your offspring as the stars of heaven and as the sand that is on the seashore. And your offspring shall possess the gate of his enemies, and in your offspring shall all the nations of the earth be blessed, because you have obeyed my voice'” (Genesis 22:15-18).

Abraham received God’s blessing for the third time. This is the last time the Bible mentions that God blessed Abraham in such a way. Abraham’s descendants did number as many as the stars in the sky. Because of Abraham’s faith in God, all nations have been blessed as well.

One modern tradition of Rosh HaShannah (not mentioned in the Bible) teaches that when the trumpet blows, God opens three books: the Book of Life, the Book of Death and a third book, which we will call the Book of Waiting. The Book of Life is for those who are especially righteous. The Book of Death awaits those who are especially wicked. And everyone else waits…10 days until Yom Kippur. These are the Days of Awe. Jewish people spend these days praying, fasting, paying and forgiving debts, rebuilding damaged relationships, and doing good deeds in vain hope that God will write their names in the Book of Life for another year. On Yom Kippur, the trumpet will blow again, the books will be closed, and each person’s name will be written to either Life or Death.

The road ahead has split into three paths. We walk the path of Life, but a wider side road invites us to try another way, to try to do good works to earn eternal life.

The tradition of the Days of Awe is a false hope. There is no one who is righteous. The prophet Isaiah said, “all our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment” (Isaiah 64:6). Everyone’s name is written into the Book of Death. We live because through Abraham’s offspring all nations on earth have been blessed. Y’shua, our Savior, is a descendant of Abraham. Everyone who believes Y’shua is the Messiah is written into the Lamb’s Book of Life. For believers in Christ, the trumpet is a celebration of victory over death.

Prayer: Lord God, You are indeed the Author of life. Thank you for writing my name in the Lamb’s Book of Life. In Y’shua’s name, Amen.

Ponder the path: The only path to life is through Jesus, who paid the debts and rebuilt our relationship with God. Share the blessing that you received through the blood of Y’shua.

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