Happy Jewish New Year 5784, traditionally known as Rosh Hashanah, falling this year on September 15-17.

To be accurate, Rosh Hashanah is not a biblical event, or even a phrase in the context of any feast. As we’ve pointed out for many years, the holiday known today as Rosh Hashanah is actually the Feast of Trumpets (Yom Teruah). The biblical goal of Yom Teruah (literally, Day of Blasting) is to prepare ourselves for the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur) ten days later, followed in another five days by the Feast of Tabernacles (Sukkot). This explains why Rosh Hashanah occurs in the seventh month of the year instead of the first month. (Leviticus 23:23-25)

God clearly set the new year for His people on Nisan 1, which comes shortly before Passover. (Exodus 12:1-2) In connection with Israel’s exile in Babylon, however, rabbinic tradition and oral legend changed certain practices, times and seasons that had been set in Scripture. Some of those changes are still followed to this day, including the celebration of Rosh Hashanah.

In an effort to connect with their Hebraic roots, some Christians enjoy following rabbinic traditions not necessarily based in Scripture. Our personal aim over the years has been to identify and distinguish “traditions of men” (Colossians 2:8) from the Word of God. At the same time, we honor the precious freedom we have in Messiah to celebrate Him (or not) in customary ways such as Rosh Hashanah, according to individual conscience. (Colossians 2:16, Romans 14:4)

The scriptural mandate for observing the Feast of Trumpets is simple but weighty. God merely tells us to “have a sabbath-rest, a memorial of blowing of trumpets, a holy convocation” … to “do no customary work” and … present “an offering made by fire to the Lord.'” (Leviticus 23:23-25, see also Numbers 29:1-6 for details on the offering) It is valuable to bear in mind and heart that in biblical times, trumpets were blown for these occasions:

  • At the start of a new month;
  • To hold a memorial day;
  • To signify the beginning of a Jubilee year;
  • To gather God’s people;
  • To mark a personal encounter with Him;
  • To warn of impending danger;
  • To awaken or rouse people to repentance prior to judgment; and
  • To coronate a king.

In today’s Messianic Jewish communities, trumpets are blown on Yom Teruah to gather God’s people; mark the first day of a new (seventh) month; hold a worshipful memorial to His redemption past, present and future; rouse us to repentance; mark a personal encounter with Him; warn of impending danger or judgment; and coronate Yeshua as our King.

One day, the sound of heavenly trumpets will signal a literal coronation of King Jesus when He comes to rule and reign over the earth. (Matthew 24:31, 1 Corinthians 15:52, and 1 Thessalonians 4:16) Until then, our coronation in praise, worship, intercessory exaltation and prophetic declaration is weighty in spiritual realms. We might even view our celebration of Yom Teruah and the other fall feasts as prophetic intercessory acts helping prepare the way for their future, prophetic fulfillment at the return of the King.

Meanwhile, we are to pray earnestly for God to reveal His salvation in Messiah to Jews around the world as they celebrate these fall feasts.

Ministry News

Personally, we look forward to stepping with joyful gratitude into what the Jewish world will note as the start of 5784. The year will be special for us and the ministry of Light of Zion. In 5784, after more than 40 years of formal ministry, I (Sandra) will turn 70. With the loving prompting of God and approval of our board of directors, I will be taking a sabbatical this year. 

We believe God is asking the Western Church in general to return to its first love. (Revelation 2:4) He is also calling us to prepare for revival. Kerry and I want to say “Yes!” to that call as we temporarily set aside much of the work of leadership, research, writing and mentoring. We look to the sabbatical as a time of spiritual and physical rest and reset. We eagerly anticipate spending more time with our King, seeking not mainly His strategies for a new season but seeking mainly His face.

During the sabbatical we will continue co-leading our monthly Shabbat Watch Zoom prayer for Israel, as well as a Jerusalem prayer watch for our home congregation. We will participate in, but not lead, other important gatherings. We look forward to strengthening God-ordered friendships and relationships.

During the sabbatical, we ask you to please join us in praying for clear direction into the next season. If you would like to participate in a special prayer support team for the ministry, please do let us know. Your prayers are essential and bear fruit for eternity.

About 5784

Some Christians say the new year will be one of important new doors opening and old doors closing for God’s people because the number 4 in both 5784 and 2024 corresponds to the Hebrew letter “dalet,” which in turn relates to the word “door.” They say Psalm 24:7-9, which declares the lifting up of ancient doors, should therefore be a focus of prayer. Whether or not these perspectives prove true for the collective Body of Messiah, it seems they will likely apply to us.

Our landlord has decided to sell the apartment we currently rent for ministry and personal use. As we’ve shared before, rents in Jerusalem and the cost of living in Israel are both among the highest in the world. We ask you to please pray with us for divine intervention and provision in finding another place to rent. For many reasons this is not a simple endeavor in the natural. But God is not limited and can make a way where there is none!

Relating to 5784, on the ground realities in Israel and around the world suggest that Psalms 57 and 84 could be especially (and coincidentally) instructive this year. Psalm 57 sounds a cry for mercy in warfare while steadfastly and exuberantly declaring God’s praise. Psalm 84 expresses a passionate desire for the courts of the Lord and His dwelling place. In 5784, we would do well to engage with the spiritual dynamics described in both these passages.

Shaking and Harvesting

In closing, we’d like to briefly summarize our perspective on the complex political shakings taking place in Israel. As we’ve written these past few years, we believe God is allowing His beloved Jewish nation to discover she is not able to govern or sustain herself apart from Him. This means He may allow her to make some serious, even very serious, mistakes. But at the same time, He is tenderly calling her to surrender to His leadership of lovingkindness. The process is painful but the end goal is glorious.

We don’t know how long the shakings will last. We don’t know when Iran will attack or when increasing levels of antichrist powers will overtake Israel as domestic discord and internal strife intensifies. But we do believe many Jewish hearts will be drawn to their Messiah before that day arrives. Therefore, we personally have our eyes on the spiritual harvest before us. Even during a sabbatical, we will lean into and labor in prayer for that day when all Israel will be saved. (Romans 11:25-26)

Yeshua told His followers a parable about wheat and tares springing up together in the last days. (Matthew 13:24-30) At the start of 5784, we want to set our sight more on the wheat than the tares, and if God allows it, on harvesting that precious wheat (Israeli souls) for eternity. We thank you for laboring in love with us!

A happy, healthy 5784 to you and yours.