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Celebrating the Babylonian New Year?

by Lonnie Lane

Q. How come it doesn't mention Rosh Hashana in Leviticus 23 or anywhere else in the Bible? If this is the Jewish new year, wouldn't that be important enough to be mentioned?

A. You're right. The Bible doesn't mention Rosh HaShana which literally means the head (rosh) [of] the (ha) year (shana) as one of God's appointed times, or holy convocations, for Israel to come before Him.  God understandably declared Passover to be the beginning of the Hebrew year since it was the beginning of freedom and of Israel becoming a nation, no longer just a relatively small family.
Pastor Ron Cantor who lives in Jerusalem recently offered this explanation. When Israel was exiled to Babylon, they had absorbed the Babylonian calendar which celebrated the new year in the Fall. So when the Hebrews returned to the Land of Israel, they just kept the calendar they were accustomed to.

The Feast of Trumpets or Yom haTeruah, literally the Day of the sounding of the trumpet or shofar, is to declare the beginning of the ten days leading to Yom Kippur, the day of Atonement. As a Fall occasion was already in place, the Babylonian new year was attached to Yom haTeruah. So Yom haTerruah became more popularly known as Rosh haShana, the head of the year, or new year. Jews the world over for centuries have greeted each other on this holiday by saying, Shana tova, which means happy new year.  

The trumpet or shofar is sounded to call for a time of introspection and repentance to prepare oneself to be worthy of being written in the Book of Life which would occur on Yom Kippur when the high priest would go into the holy of holies on that one day a year to make atonement for the entire nation. If you were counted worthy, you were included in the blessings and protection of the nation for that year.

While this day may not actually be a new year on God's calendar, He did ordain that it would be a time to present yourself before Him for a season of looking into your life to see where you may need to adjust your life to "walk in a manner worthy of the Lord" (Col.1:10) even if you are assured that your name is written in heaven in the Lamb's Book of Life, which Yeshua Himself said was great cause for rejoicing.  (Lk 10:20) 

If you are a Gentile and wondering if this would apply to you, consider that "many nations will come and say, 'Come and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD And to the house of the God of Jacob, That He may teach us about His ways And that we may walk in His paths.' For from Zion will go forth the law [Torah], Even the word of the LORD from Jerusalem" (Micah 4:2). Those who wish to walk in His paths, Jew and Gentile, have found much joy and fulfillment in observing these appointed times of the Lord by His Spirit.

Pastor Ron, in mentioning that the calendar is based on the Babylonian calendar stated that he personally isn't much interested in celebrating the calendar of Saddam Hussein. As there are many Biblical occasions for blowing a shofar, surely the most significant and glorious one is the one announcing the return of King Yeshua to the earth. (Please see Matthew 21:30-31 and 1 Thes.4:16.) Ron suggests that instead of greeting each other with "Happy New Year" or "Shana Tova" we declare, "HE IS COMING!" 

Pass the word around:  He is coming!  Amen.  

Lonnie Lane

For Lonnie's other articles, check out our Exclusive Articles and Resources, especially the section on One New Man.

Lonnie Lane comes from a family of four generations of Jewish believers, being the first one saved in 1975. Lonnie has been in church leadership for many years, and has planted two “one new man” house fellowships, one in Philadelphia suburbs and the other in Jacksonville, Florida, where she now lives near 6 of her 8 grandchildren. Lonnie is the author of “Because They Never Asked” and numerous articles on this website. She has been the Producer of Messianic Vision's radio and TV shows and the International Prayer Co-Coordinator for Messianic Vision's intercessors. Click Here to order Lonnie's book, "Because They Never Asked."

Scripture quotations are from the New American Standard Bible Copyright 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundationk, La Habra, Calif.  All rights reserved. Used by permission.


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