Four Months Out From A Harvest And New Year

This is an exciting year for the nation of Israel as it is a year of celebration for them, dancing and singing in the streets remembering 70 years ago when the UN voted for them to once again be a nation, on  Nov 29, 1947 and 50 years ago when they conquered Jordan in the 6 day war, June 5-10, 1967 and took their holy city, Jerusalem back.

Isaiah’s prophecy came true when the nation of Israel ceased to exist at its destruction in 70 AD, and then re-appeared again, against all odds, in just a day.

“Who has heard such a thing? Who has seen such things? Shall the earth be made to give birth in one day? Or shall a nation be born at once? For as soon as Zion was in labor, She gave birth to her children.”  Isaiah 66:8

For the nation of Israel, their year is currently 5777 (to us, it’s 2017.  Their years began at the assumed creation of Adam & Eve, so in this case, it has been 5,777 years since man).  As the year begins to switch to 5778 (Sept 21-22), they will begin celebrating “Rosh Hashana” or the Jewish New Year.   The year 5777 means “the year of grace perfected.”  5 means grace in the Bible and 7 is the number of perfection, so three 7’s is the completeness of God’s perfection, the holiest of numbers.  So, they will be ending the year of grace perfected on Sept 21 & 22.  They are not totally sure of when their new year will start because it is based off of the viewing of the new moon.  This date is called “No one knows the date and hour”  (referencing Mathew 24:35-37) because they have to wait and see (and must be verified by two witnesses.).  Their days will also start at sundown (so approximately 6:25 pm at this time of the year).

The first day of the calendar year is Rosh HaShanah (one of the holiest days of the year where no work is permitted and most spend time in the synagugues) (The Bible refers to this holiday as Yom Ha-Zikkaron (the day of remembrance) or Yom Teruah (the day of the sounding of the shofar).  The holiday is instituted in Leviticus 23:24-25. ), on 1 Tishri is determined as follows:

  • The new year starts on the day of the new moon that occurs about 354 days (or 384 days if the previous year was a leap year) after 1 Tishri of the previous year.
  • If the new moon occurs after noon on that day, delay the new year by one day. (Because in that case the new crescent moon will not be visible until the next day.)
  • If this would cause the new year to start on a Sunday, Wednesday, or Friday, delay it by one day. (Because we want to avoid that Yom Kippur (10 Tishri) falls on a Friday or Sunday, and that Hoshanah Rabba (21 Tishri) falls on a Sabbath (Saturday)).
  • If two consecutive years start 356 days apart (an illegal year length), delay the start of the first year by two days.
  • If two consecutive years start 382 days apart (an illegal year length), delay the start of the second year by one day.

The shofar is a ram’s horn which is blown somewhat like a trumpet. One of the most important observances of this holiday is hearing the sounding of the shofar in the synagogue. A total of 100 notes are sounded each day. There are four different types of shofar notes: tekiah, a 3 second sustained note; shevarim, three 1-second notes rising in tone, teruah, a series of short, staccato notes extending over a period of about 3 seconds; and tekiah gedolah (literally, “big tekiah”), the final blast in a set, which lasts 10 seconds minimum.  The Bible gives no specific reason for this practice. One that has been suggested is that the shofar’s sound is a call to repentance. The shofar is not blown if the holiday falls on Shabbat (which is their Sabbath, or holy day of rest.)

We are now four months out from this very special time of the year for the nation of Israel.

34 Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me, and to finish His work. 35 Do you not say, ‘There are still four months and then comes the harvest’? Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes and look at the fields, for they are already white for harvest! 36 And he who reaps receives wages, and gathers fruit for eternal life, that both he who sows and he who reaps may rejoice together.”  John 4:34-36

Father God, Thank you for your time of fall harvest when we reap what we sow and thank you for the coming of each new year when we can set a side time to reflect on where we have been, where we should have been, and where we should be for the future.  It is a great time of celebration when we are a part of the fall harvest.  Keep us focused on planting and sowing good seeds until your fall harvest.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.