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Judgement and the New Year

September 5th, 2013 by Oleg Kostyuk

Rosh Hashanah

Today (September 5) is the beginning of a new year by the biblical calendar. The festival that commemorates this new beginning is called Rosh Hashana, which literally means “head of the year.” The biblical new year always begins with ten days of reexamining your heart; these days are called Yamim Noraim, which means “the days of awe.” According to Jewish tradition (Mishnah), it is believed that God opens the Book of Life on this day and begins to decide who shall live and who shall die. So during these days, texts about God’s amazing desire to forgive and restore repentant sinners are read in the synagogues. According to the Mishnah, these are the days to put your relationship with God right. The ten days of awe end with Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement. Judgement and forgiveness are the key words that describe these days.
Most likely, John references this feast in chapter 5 of his Gospel when he writes about Jesus healing a man at the pool of Bethesda. After Jesus heals him, he states that, from that point on, judgement is given to him and the judgment will be performed by him (John 5:22).

People in the time of Jesus were terrified because the ten days would commemorate the judgement, but Jesus in John 5:24 says, “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life.”
God has an enormous desire to forgive and restore relationships with sinners; the Bible constantly reminds us of this:
“Even now,” declares the LORD, “return to me with all your heart, with fasting and weeping and mourning.” Rend your heart and not your garments. Return to the LORD your God, for he is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love, and he relents from sending calamity. (Joel 2:12-13)
Nowhere else was God’s desire to forgive and restore manifested better than on the Cross. So, if you celebrate the New Year, Rosh Hashana, or any other kind of new beginning, think about God’s great desire to share a new beginning with you.

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5 Responses to “Judgement and the New Year”

  1. On September 5, 2013 at 8:27 pm Edwingts Mompremier responded with... #

    According to Exodus 12.1,2, the Lord said to Moses and Aaron in Egypt, “This month is to be for you the first month, the first month of your year. Since Passover is being celebrated between March and April, I’ve always thought that it was the first month. Please clear my lantern.

    • On September 5, 2013 at 10:43 pm Oleg Kostyuk responded with... #

      You are absolutely right. The Exodus commemorated the beginning of the year. However, Rosh Hashanah, which translates as “the head of the year” commemorates a new start or a new beginning. It is also important to note that it is the seventh month in the Jewish calendar. Despite that, perhaps, because it is the seventh month it commemorates a New Beginning and it is Rosh Hashanah, the head of the year.

  2. On September 5, 2013 at 8:57 pm Robin responded with... #

    Actually, the beginning of the biblical year was set by God in Exodus 12:2, “This month shall be for you the first of months” (ESV). The month is Aviv which occurs in the spring and is counted from the first cresent moon of spring when the barley crop is aviv (ripe enough to produce a grain offering when the ears are parched in fire.) This is the month in which God brought the Israelites out from Egypt and the passover occured. The Feast of Trumpets, or Rosh Hashonah, occurs on the 1st of Tishrei (the seventh month), and is the beginning of the Jewish fiscal year.

    • On September 5, 2013 at 10:55 pm Oleg Kostyuk responded with... #

      Robin, thank you for pointing that out. You are right Rosh Hashanah is not necessarily the New Year as we, westerners, think about it. However, in the biblical sense it was a period of time that played a significant role and commemorated a new beginning. Thank you for your comment again.

  3. On September 5, 2013 at 9:24 pm Swaliki responded with... #

    Here I am Lord, have mercy up on me God. I am a sinner now and then, that is why I carry to you for forgiveness.

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