"So do you think that something Christians would think is significant might one day happen on Rosh Hashanah?" my friend asked, as I bustled around getting things ready for the substitute teachers who were going to take over my classes so that I could be off for the holiday.
"Could be!" I replied.
The idea that the Old Testament feasts found in Leviticus 23 might have some sort of fulfillment in the future is a somewhat popular one. It might seem silly- the ravings of so many end times madmen- except for one thing: It's happened before. Three holidays (four if you count Unleavened Bread) have actually had a significant event happen that in some way fulfilled their original purpose.
Passover was originally established as a memorial of the Exodus. "'And it shall be, when your children say to you, "What do you mean by this service?" that you shall say, "It is the Passover sacrifice of the LORD, who passed over the houses of the children of Israel in Egypt when He struck down the Egyptians and delivered our households."'" (Exodus 12:26-27) The story of redemption, however, was fulfilled when Jesus, our Passover lamb, was sacrificed for us. The symbolism of His death wasn't just partial, though. He actually did die on Passover, on the very date. Then, He was resurrected on the very next holiday in line, Firstfruits.
These events weren't seen as mere coincidence by the early believers. Paul explicitly states that Jesus is "our Passover" (1 Cor. 5:7) and also, since He rose from the dead, He is the "firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep." (1 Cor. 15:20) In fact, the entire book of 1 Corinthians is replete with Passover terminology. Our freedom from sin, for example, is likened to purging out the "old leaven," an important rite during the Feast of Unleavened Bread. The early believers knew that Jesus Himself had made the feast/fulfillment connection when He shared that final meal with His disciples. As they celebrated the Passover together, He made sure that they would one day understand the new layer of meaning His death would add to the ancient tradition: "Do this in remembrance of Me." And even Christians today are familiar with Pentecost, though perhaps not all realize that the Holy Spirit was given on a day that had already been a holiday for thousands of years.
So it's not entirely implausible that the other feasts (there are seven yearly feasts: Passover, Unleavened Bread, Firstfruits, Pentecost, Trumpets, the Day of Atonement, and Tabernacles and one weekly: the Sabbath) might find a prophetic fulfillment at some point in the future. God likes doing things like that, it seems. What then, might we be looking forward to on Rosh Hashanah in the future?
Rosh Hashanah means "Head of the Year" and it's currently celebrated as the Jewish New Year. Some historians suspect that its celebration as the new year might have arisen sometime during the Babylonian captivity, but the evidence is a bit murky. Biblically speaking, the start of the new year is Nisan, the month of Passover (March or April) and that's pretty clearly spelled out in Exodus 12:1-2. The Bible's name for Rosh Hashanah isn't actually Rosh Hashanah at all! It's called Yom Ha-Zikkaron (the day of remembrance) or Yom Teruah (the day of blowing the shofar.) It was commemorated by blowing the shofar (ram's horn) and, in the book of Nehemiah, reading the Word of God.
When Christians think of the blowing of a shofar- a great trumpet- our minds turn to the day, the "mystery," when "We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed- in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall all be changed." (1 Cor. 15:51-52) And on that day, "we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep. For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord." (1 Thess. 4:15-17)
And maybe, just maybe, it will be Rosh Hashanah.