What Does Rosh Hashanah Mean For You?

Next Thursday, Sept. 29 is Rosh Hashanah.

“So what?”, you may say.

I believe it is meaningful to us believers in Jesus, because the timing of God and His cycles and patterns are recorded for us to take advantage of and to help us understand His ways. There is a proper time for things. God wants us to seek Him every day, but there are times when He is ready to receive from us and times when He is nearer. He set up the feasts and seasons, so let’s learn what we can about them and do what He desires for us to do during them.

They also help us to acknowledge the great things He did for His people in the past, for us in the more recent past, and to thank Him and prepare our hearts for what He will do for us in the future. The feasts and biblical holidays help us to set apart time to be with Him.

Rosh Hashanah is known as the Feast of Trumpets. It is known as the Head of the Year, the Jewish New Year. The previous month of Elul is the time of preparation. This season is a time of reflection, contemplation, and putting things in order and getting right our relationship with God.

Leviticus 23 calls the blowing of trumpets a memorial. Many believe it is a memorial of God’s grace to Abraham when He substituted a ram to be sacrificed instead of Isaac (Gen. 22). It is also regarded by both Jews and Christians as a memorial of the creation of the world. This holiday was the new year’s day, on which the people rejoiced in a grateful remembrance of God’s benefits and implored His blessing for the future year.

The Feast of Trumpets and Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur) ten days later are the holiest days of the Jewish year. These ten days in between are called the Days of Awe or High Holy Days. This season is a time for looking inward to spiritual growth. The themes surrounding this holiday include:

-Jewish New Year
-God’s Royalty (Coronation Day)
-Day of Judgment
-Birthday of the world

Taken from Biblical Holidays, p. 279, Robin Sampson

During the days leading up to the High Holy Days we are to examine ourselves.

“The key purpose of these holy days is to come before God, our Almighty Creator and the Source of Life, to give an account of our life, our actions and interactions, during the past twelve months; also, to place our trust in Him for another year of life. Throughout the time of the Fall Feasts we are reminded of how little control we have over our lives and how we cannot know for certain whether we will live from one Rosh HaShanah to the next. Our lives truly are in His hands.”

Keren Hannah Pryor “The Center for Judaic-Christian Studies – Appointments with God”

There is a big emphasis on repentance. When the trumpet sounds, you are reminded to repent.

“The Feast of Trumpets requires a preparing of the spirit. Each person is to take time to look back in self-examination over the events and emotions of the previous year. The shofar is blown each morning in the synagogue. Psalm 27 is recited twice a day. New Year’s cards are sent, choirs practice and a special collection is taken for the poor.

This is a time of offering forgiveness and seeking reconciliation with others. Everyone is to seek out anyone who feels hurt or wronged and “clear the air” by asking for understanding for any harsh words said or deeds done during the past year. If anyone has treated someone unfairly, this is the time to correct it and make amends.”

Biblical Holidays, p. 287, Robin Sampson

It is a serious and somber, yet festive occasion. There is so much meaning in all of the symbols that if you want to understand more about this Jewish holiday, you really need to study about it in one of the books I’ve quoted from or another source about biblical holidays. The shofar (trumpet) or ram’s horn is so full of meaning that it would take another post just to describe all the reasons for using a ram’s horn and the significance of the different sounds made by the blower of the trumpet who happens to be a priest who has been trained his whole life just for that job!


“On the one hand, the mysterious, reverberating blasts should awaken our slumbering souls as they announce that the King is approaching and we need to prepare to stand in his glorious presence. On the other hand, the plaintive notes are like wordless cries that express all we cannot find words for. They carry these cries from our deepest hearts to the heart of God.”


One thing I ask of the LORD, YHWH, this is what I seek:
That I may dwell in the House of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and to seek the LORD in His Temple (Psalm 27:4).


Keren Hannah Pryor, “The Center for Judaic-Christian Studies – Appointments with God”

There is a theory that Jesus will fulfill the Fall holidays by coming on the Feast of Trumpets to carry away His Bride, the Church.

Robin Sampson tells us, “Celebrate Rosh Hashanah by teaching your children about repentance, renewing your heart toward God, and looking forward to the Second Coming of our Lord!”

There is a family element that I wasn’t aware of.

“The Talmud considers the first of Tishrei as the day on which Man was created, which marks it as the ‘birthday’ of the human race. The supernatural birth of Isaac, however, was the beginning of the first God-ordained family unit according to His Covenant promise. If one is to serve God as Creator and King and to participate with Him in building His Kingdom, one must start with one’s self and one’s family.”

“To achieve redemption and perfection of God’s purposes in our lives requires a willingness to sacrifice. More often than not, the sacrifices we are challenged with, as well as the inherent blessings, arise in the context of family.”

“At the conclusion of Yom Kippur a final Tekiah is sounded. It is a long, victorious, unbroken note that is drawn out as long as the shofar blower has breath. It signals full forgiveness and spiritual restoration, and sends one forth into the year ahead more whole and prepared to go forward in newness of life.”

Keren Hannah Pryor, “The Center for Judaic-Christian Studies – Appointments with God”

Here are some action steps I intend to take:

-I’m planning to read Psalm 27 every day. I’ll try to read it to all of my kids as often as I can.

-I will discuss repentance with them and do it!

-I’ve already thought of one friend from way back that I need to apologize to. I’ll attempt to do that through Facebook.

-I’ll get alone with God and ask Him to forgive and purify me so that I can stand before Him and walk in newness of life and have a sweet year during this coming year.

In our lives we have seen God pour out some amazing blessings right around the beginning of the Jewish new year. One year we got new (to us) furniture, including a couch and love seat, dining table and hutch, entertainment center and more. They were all like new and beautiful.

We always start anticipating surprises and blessings from God around this time of year.

So I would encourage you to have hope and believe for God to bless you with a sweet year this year, too, and for blessings to start overtaking you!

The Relevance of Offerings

My son, Shawn, wrote a paper about the relevance of offerings. It is very thorough and in-depth. I thought my Hebrew Roots friends might enjoy it. I am reading it several times so that I can absorb more of the information here.

One of the most enlightening things I learned from it was that “Ancient idolaters believed that animal-offerings were needed to assuage the anger of a judgmental, bloodthirsty god. This is totally foreign to Jewish belief. The Torah teaches us that offerings are a means to draw closer to Hashem – the Merciful God.”

I was also able to identify the ways that I make these types of offerings through the different kinds of prayers that I pray with the help and leading of the Holy Spirit.

I hope you enjoy this study of offerings and are able to see our God and His ways more clearly than ever before.

To read more go here

Meet With the Beloved of Your Soul

This comes from an explanation of the Feasts that God instituted for His people which Keren Hannah Pryor wrote in her email series, Appointments With God. The Feasts are appointed times for us to come to God and “meet with the Beloved of our soul”. They are His call to holiness. I loved the way she described the cycles of times and seasons and the unchanging nature of celebrating the Feasts every year.

As we walk in His cycles we do not find ourselves spinning giddily round in circles getting nowhere. Rather, we discover that we gradually spiral upward, ever higher and stronger. Our spirits grow according to our Father’s design and draw closer and closer to His Presence.

At the conclusion of each annual cycle we should not be where we were, or even who we were, at the start. On a spiritual journey it is the person who changes, not necessarily the scenery. When we have accepted His invitation, kept the appointment, and met with the Beloved of our soul, we should be moving steadily nearer to our destination and accomplishing more fully our purpose of being the unique and precious person He created us to be. We will then shine forth more of His image, for His Name’s sake.

You can join her email list and get her weekly teachings at jcstudies.com.

I believe we can live this kind of growing, changing life without celebrating the Feasts the way God called the Jews to celebrate them, but I believe it helps us to pull our focus onto the things of God and off of the ordinary things of life when we acknowledge the time and the season that God ordained for His chosen people to observe. And it is good for our children to hear us rehearse the mighty acts of God in our own lives.

Begin Anew With Joy!

This is an email that I get from Keren Hannah Pryor at jcstudies.com. She puts really neat graphics in the emails that she sends out, so if you want to see them, subscribe to her email weekly devotional study, and you will get the full effect. Details are at the bottom of this teaching.


A New Beginning

The conclusion of the annual Torah reading cycle at this time and the immediate beginning of the cycle for the next year is the central reason and focus of the holiday of Simchat Torah. An old gate is closing and a new one is opening. We celebrate the new beginning and the opportunity to step forward into another year of relationship with our Father, the Giver and Source of Life, and into continuing growth in knowledge of His Word and thereby of Himself. We can lift our hearts and rejoice and sing with the Psalmist:
“Open my eyes, that I may behold wondrous things in Your Torah.
Your testimonies are my delight, they are my counselors. …Give me understanding, that I may keep Your Torah and observe it with my whole heart. Lead me in the path of Your commandments, for I delight in it.
The sum of Your Word is truth; and every one of Your righteous ordinances endures for ever… my heart stands in awe of Your words. I rejoice at Your Word, like one who finds great treasure”
(Psalm 119:18, 24, 34-35,160-162).

Be glad and rejoice in Simchat Torah and give honor to the Torah…
for she is our strength and our light (Simchat Torah song).

The central means of celebration on Simchat Torah is singing and dancing! Simchat Torah calls us to rejoice before God with all our hearts and might… to celebrate the Word of God as King David did when he returned the Ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem (1 Chronicles 15:28-29). What would we do without the light and wisdom of God’s Word? Simchat Torah gives us an opportunity to rejoice over the wonder, the depths and the power of His Word with childlike abandon; to drop our self-conscious defenses and throw ourselves joyfully into rejoicing greatly before our Father in Heaven! To “dance as David danced” is a challenge to adults, but now a wonderful occasion is given for children and adults to sing and dance in joy together at the great gift God has given of His Torah, His precious and eternal Word, and the incarnation of this Word in the life of His Son and our Messiah – Yeshua. How can we not find reason to rejoice greatly?

In synagogues, the dancing takes the form of seven hakafot, or circles, which reinforces the concept of the cycles of life. This also highlights the relationship of God and His people as that of a Bride and Groom, one of Covenant love, and recalls how at Mount Sinai the Torah can be seen as the ketubah, the wedding document of the bridegroom and the bride. In some traditional Jewish wedding ceremonies the bride circles the groom seven times, signaling the constant daily presence of the Shekhinah of God that surrounds us in steadfast love. Joyful dancing is also the means of celebration at a wedding, the elation of which is expressed in the final of the Sheva Brachot, the Seven Blessings that are prayed over the bride and groom. This crowning blessing also encapsulates the heart of Simchat Torah, and the heart of our relationship with the Beloved of our souls:

Blessed are You, O Lord our God, King of the Universe, who created joy and happiness, bride and groom, gladness, jubilation, cheer, and delight, love, friendship, harmony, and fellowship.
O Lord our God, let there speedily be heard in the cities of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem the sound of joy and the sound of happiness, the sound of the Bridegroom and the sound of the Bride…
Blessed are You Lord, who gladdens the Groom with the Bride.

Hakafot at the Kotel – Western Wall

At the synagogue evening service all the Torah scrolls are removed from the Ark [special cupboard that houses the Torah scrolls], to be passed lovingly from person to person during the seven hakafot. Sometimes a lit candle, or a Bible, is placed in the now empty Ark to show that the light of Torah never goes out.

After the dancing, the last portion of the Torah is read, VeZot HaBeracha – And This is the Blessing (Deut. 33:1-34:12); the only time of the year that the Torah is publicly read at night. Then the scroll is rolled back to the beginning and a part of the first portion of Genesis, B’reishit – In the Beginning, is read. The cycle of the Word continues without interruption, in harmony and joyful gratitude.

Oh How I love Your Torah!

During the morning service on the following day, celebrations are a little more subdued and the deeper values of God and His Word are reflected upon. In accord with the understanding that the Torah is “a tree of life to those who grasp it,” the opportunity on Simchat Torah to literally hold it close to oneself is meaningful. To touch and hold a person one loves is a great blessing, so too one finds blessing in touching and holding the Torah scroll, which is resplendent in a finely embroidered robe, is crowned with a beautiful crown and adorned with a decorative breastplate. As we grasp the Torah scroll it is an expression of our deep longing to embrace the Beloved of our souls, the Word made flesh, the King of kings!

An IDF soldier holds a Torah scroll

After further hakafot, quieter singing and dancing with the scrolls, to enable every person to hold and kiss a scroll, all but three of the Torah scrolls are returned to the Ark. Readings are done from the three scrolls and certain people are honored in making aliyah to the Torah, being called up to read. Recognizing the connection with marriage, the first person called is named “groom of the Torah” (chatan Torah), who reads the last verses of Deuteronomy. The second is the “Genesis groom” (chatan B’reishit), who has the honor of reading the first chapter of Genesis. The third and last one is called “the groom for the reading of the prophets” (chatan maftir), who reads about the succession of leadership from Moses to Joshua.

A special aliyah is made for the last blessing of the Torah readings, when all the children are called up to the bima, the central platform from which the Torah scroll is read. A large tallit (prayer shawl) is spread over them and the rabbi blesses them and the congregation recites Genesis 48:16,
“The angel who has redeemed me from all evil, bless the youths; and let my name [Jacob] be named upon them and the name of my fathers Abraham and Isaac; and let them grow into a multitude in the midst of the earth.”
The children are the next generation and this is a powerful gesture of the desire to fulfill the biblical injunction: “And these words which I command you this day shall be upon your heart; and you shall teach them diligently to your children…” (Deuteronomy 6:6-7).

The Feasts of the Future

It is of interest to note that, in Temple times, identical sacrifices were offered at the altar on both Rosh HaShanah and Shemini Atzeret (the Eighth Day, together with Simchat Torah, which in Israel, as well as in the Reform tradition of Judaism, are celebrated on the same day). This was not merely coincidence as the Temple sacrifices were a significant component of worship of God and they were meticulously planned and executed in order to express the meaning and essence of each festival. The matching sacrifices thus tied Rosh HaShanah to Simchat Torah, embracing the Fall Feasts as one unit. This fact reinforces the understanding that this group of feasts is the “crown” and culmination of the Festival Cycle and represents the aim and fulfillment of all the holy days of the year. Whereas the previous Feasts are rooted in history, and relate to an historic event already experienced by God’s people, the Fall Feasts celebrate prophetic events that await fulfillment in the future.

At present, on Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur we recognize with gratitude our present relationship to God as our Father and King of the universe, and we can come before Him in repentance, clothed in the righteousness of Yeshua our Messiah, and accept His loving forgiveness. Also, on Sukkot we rejoice in the knowledge that we are covered by the Hand of God and can rest in His protection and provision on our tenuous journey through life. On Shemini Atzeret and Simchat Torah, we joyfully thank God for His Word and anticipate eternity in His Presence. The true and full promises of these Festivals, however, are yet to be experienced. On that Great Day known only to the Father, the final ‘new beginning’ of Rosh HaShanah, the last great trump will sound – the Tekiah Gedolah of the great Shofar – announcing the arrival of Mashiach ben David, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, Messiah the Son of David. The dead will be raised; and all mankind will stand before the King who sits on the Throne of Judgment. On the final Yom Kippur, the judgment on all nations and people will be sealed and delivered. Those who are to enter the great sukkah – the banqueting hall of the Wedding Feast of the King and His Bride – will assemble and great will be the rejoicing. Shemini Atzeret, the Eighth Day, will begin – the Day that is all Shabbat – the time of true peace, a time of eternal, unbreakable unity and blessing, harmony and joy. The King will be reigning in Jerusalem and the Kingdom of God will be established in all the earth. HalleluYah!

Until that time, we wait in hope and faith and continue on the next cycle of our journey through life. Let us join hands, united in the true and faithful Word and promises of our Father in Heaven, in the fellowship we have in Messiah, and in the love and power of the Holy Spirit. Let us step confidently into the winter season ahead, anticipating the beautiful, dancing lights of Hanukkah that shine the light of God’s Presence into the darkness of the world – just as we are called to do.
With the flame of God’s love bright in our hearts, let us shine for Him!

Chazak! Chazak! ve’Nitchazek!

Be strong! Be strong! And may we strengthen one another!

Baruch HaShem! Praise His Name! We are reaching the end of another 
year of study of the precious Word of our God and of His pleasant paths.


Keren’s devotional studies on the weekly portion, A Dash of Drash, are now available in well-formatted book form – hot off the press in time 
for the new Torah study cycle that begins the first Shabbat of October, (2nd Oct., 2010). An excellent way to review and dig deeper 
into the text during the year ahead!

You can order your copy now through our secured website JC Studies

You can also take advantage of our special offer to obtain a set 
of both commentaries, A Taste of Torah and A Dash of Drash, at a special launch price. Good to keep in mind for your gift-giving!

Thank you for walking with us this past year, may our faithful Lord 
continue to guide and bless our steps on the path ahead – for His glory!

Keren Hannah and the JC Studies team

You have subscribed to Keren Hannah Pryor’s weekly devotional study through the five books of Moses, in order to better understand how knowing the Bible in its original context helps us live more intentionally in God’s Presence today. Visit us at www.jcstudies.com.

Our contact information:
The Center for Judaic-Christian Studies
P.O. Box 750815
Dayton, OH 45475
1 (937) 434.4550

If you desire to contribute financially, thank you.

Copyright (C) 2010 Keren Hannah Pryor & The Center for Judaic-Christian Studies. All rights reserved.

Correcting Our Understanding of Heaven As Our Home

In recent years, we have studied more of the Jewish thought and the Hebrew roots of Christianity. One of the sources I have been learning from is Dwight Pryor. He crystallizes his mission statement like this:

My strong conviction is that the Lord is restoring the Hebraic foundations of the Church so that together we all can move forward in greater faithfulness and maturity in the service of the Messiah and the Kingdom of God. Toward that end we should be Father-focused, Christ-centered and Spirit-saturated. We should stand with and pray for Israel. Our teaching should strive to be biblically balanced and theologically sound.

Of all the followers of Jesus, we who are being reconnected to the olive-tree roots of our faith, who study Torah and treasure Jewish wisdom surely we should be the most humble and wise, with a servant heart and a good eye, like Abraham, our father in the faith. Love should abound in all that we do. More than just knowledge, if the fruit of the Spirit is not characterizing our lives and our communities, then we are in the wrong movement.

At the end of the day, we can never improve upon Jesus and his example. His passion was for one movement alone, the Kingdom of God, and his priority was for the raising up of disciples through sound instruction and godly example. To authentically emulate that and to carry on that mission should be the raison d’etre of the Hebraic renewal community.

One of the common misconceptions among Christians is what we will do after we die – and where we will live. Here are some thoughts to help us clarify what the Bible really says about it.


Is Heaven Our Destiny?
Author: Dwight A. Pryor

THE BELIEF IN LIFE AFTER DEATH IS nearly universal among the world’s religions. Unique to the biblical faiths of Judaism and Christianity, however, is the conviction that there will be a life after life-after-death (to borrow a phrase from N.T. Wright). In other words the afterlife will not be our final destination, but we shall be materially embodied once again in the resurrection of the dead at the Last Day.

The implications of this seem not to have registered fully on the popular Christian culture, which tends to define salvation as “going to heaven when you die.” In a carryover from medieval times, when the travails of this present world were countered by the Church’s otherworldly spirituality, the common sentiment among Christians today remains:

This world is not my home; I’m just a passing through. My treasures are laid up, somewhere beyond the blue. Just over in Glory land we’ll live eternally …

This popular point of view runs counter to the witness of Scripture — which indicates that our ultimate destiny as believers is not “heaven” but a new “heaven and earth” (the biblical idiom for created cosmos).

THE VISION OF A NEW OR RENEWED universe is common to both Testaments, as well as to Jewish apocalyptic literature during the four-hundred year intertestamental period. The earth will go through a period of judgment, purging and cleansing at the Apocalypse before it is restored at last to the pristine condition of Gan Eden (Garden of Eden).

The Apostle Peter foresaw that Day of the Lord when the cosmos will dissolve into its elements by fire, to be renewed according to God’s promise by “new heavens and a new earth, where righteousness is at home” (2 Pet 3:13). The Hebraic terminology “new heavens and a new earth” derives from the prophetic vision of Isaiah (65:17ff), in which a new Jerusalem will become a joy and delight to the nations and the natural created order will be restored to innocence and shalom, so that “the wolf and the lamb shall feed together, and the lion shall eat straw like the ox” (65:25).

This end-time scenario of course is found also in the Apocalypse of John. The Apostle envisions a restored heaven and earth, after evil and wickedness have been destroyed, with the “holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God” (Rev 21:1-2).

Then the Creator himself will descend and take up habitation among redeemed humankind. “He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God” (21:3). The “Immanuel” (God-with-us) that found fulfillment in the Incarnation will come to its consummation in the Last Days when the Lord God will dwell fully and perpetually in the midst of His people (Ezekiel 37: 26-27).

The creation itself shall then be set free from its enslavement to futility and decay to obtain the “freedom of the [resurrected] glory of the children of God” (Rom 8:21). It will be purged, purified, transformed and glorified. It will not be annihilated, but made new or renewed. As the One seated on the Throne promises, “Behold, I am making all things new!” (Revelation 21:5).

THE HOPE WE HAVE IN THE LORD therefore is far grander than some post-death consciousness or some everlasting state of disembodied bliss. Our final home will not be “over in Glory land.” Heaven will be but a temporary layover on the way to a better world.

Our ultimate destiny is to dwell forever in the House of the Lord. His habitation will be in a renewed heaven and earth. We have no need of resurrected bodies in heaven. But when at the Last Day heaven comes to earth and the Jerusalem which is above, whose architect and builder is God (Heb 11:10), descends upon the present city — then indeed we will need and will prosper in the transformed physicality of resurrected bodies.

Like the risen Jesus, our bodies will be in continuity with our previous existence, and yet also new, glorified and animated fully by the Spirit. Then we shall walk with our Redeemer and have unhindered fellowship with the true and living God. Our joy will be complete and His purposes for the creation will be consummated. That is our destiny!

© 2010 Dwight A. Pryor and The Center for Judaic-Christian Studies.
All rights reserved.