Author: David Wilber
Did you know that God commands us to rejoice and make noise? Indeed, Yom Teruah—also known as the Feast of Trumpets or Rosh HaShanah—is an incredible celebration during which believers come together to worship the God of Israel with shouts of joy and the blast of the shofar as we look forward to the second coming of our Messiah, Yeshua (Jesus).
In the Bible, God commands us to come together and celebrate on certain days during the year. These biblical feast days are broken down into two seasons: the four spring feast days and the three fall feast days. (See Leviticus 23 for a complete overview.) Yom Teruah marks the beginning of the fall feasts. The name Yom Teruah literally means, “Day of Shouting/raising a noise.” This day has later become known as Rosh HaShanah, which means “head of the year.” It is the beginning of the civil year on the Jewish calendar. According to Jewish tradition, Rosh HaShanah is like an anniversary commemorating the creation of Adam and Chavah (Eve). It is a day to reflect on our special relationship with the God of the universe and recommit to walking in our created purpose—that is, sanctifying the name of God in this world and bringing Him glory.
Yom Teruah, along with the rest of God’s feasts, is called an “appointed time” (Leviticus 23:2). It is a special time that God told us to remember and celebrate every year. With that said, the following is a list of ways that you can make this amazing holy day part of your life.
1) Observe the Season of Teshuvah
On the Hebrew Calendar, the month before the fall feast days is called Elul. In Judaism, this month is traditionally associated with the theme of repentance, or in Hebrew, teshuvah. It’s a time of introspection, reconciliation, and preparation. The season of teshuvah begins at the beginning of Elul and goes all the way to Yom Kippur. The word teshuvah literally means to “return.” The goal of this entire season is simply to return to God—in other words, to restore unhindered fellowship with Him.
See our article on teshuvah and for more information on how to observe this amazing season. In addition to teshuvah, it is traditional during Elul to blow the shofar and recite Psalm 27 every morning.
2) Blow the Shofar
In Leviticus 23:24, we are told that Yom Teruah is a memorial proclaimed with a “blast of trumpets.” The Hebrew word translated “trumpet” is shofar, which is an ancient musical instrument made of a ram’s horn. Our Yom Teruah celebration should consist of making lots and lots of noise with the shofar! As believers in Messiah, the shofar blast is done in anticipation for the second coming of Yeshua, who will return at the sound of a “trumpet” (1 Thessalonians 4:16). In addition, it is a call to teshuvah (repentance) as Yom Teruah is the first of the “Ten Days of Awe” leading up to Yom Kippur.
3) Don't do any ordinary work
Yom Teruah is called a day of rest. It is a “high Sabbath.” Therefore, you must not do any work on this day. This is definitely something to keep in mind for those of you who have to request time off from your job a few weeks in advance. This is an easy mitzvah (good deed) to do on Yom Teruah. Simply enjoy God’s gift of rest—and remember the ultimate rest we have in our Savior, Yeshua (Matthew 11:28).
4) Have a holy convocation
Yom Teruah is all about community. Therefore, if at all possible, make every effort to be part of a congregation of likeminded believers on this special day. If there is no congregation in your local area, and you simply aren’t able to travel to one, then get together with just a small group of family, friends, or perhaps your local bible study group. Together with other believers, enjoy the many fun traditions attached to this feast and make this a day of praise and worship to our King.
5) Have a tashlich ceremony
Tashlich is a beautiful tradition. On the afternoon of Yom Teruah, God’s people gather together to throw breadcrumbs or small rocks into a river (or any other flowing body of water). This tradition symbolizes God’s forgiveness through Yeshua and how He casts our sins into “the depths of the sea” as mentioned in the book of Micah:
Who is a God like you, pardoning iniquity and passing over transgression for the remnant of his inheritance? He does not retain his anger forever, because he delights in steadfast love. He will again have compassion on us; he will tread our iniquities underfoot. You will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea. (Micah 7:18-19)
Since Rosh HaShanah is regarded as the head of the year, this is also a great time to make “New Years Resolutions.” The month of Elul leading up to the fall feasts is supposed to be a time of introspection. In fact, in Aramaic, the word Elul means to “search.” During this season of teshuvah, we are to ask God to search us and expose anything in our lives that offends Him. Therefore, your breadcrumbs or small rocks can represent particular sins, addictions, or even certain character deficiencies (e.g. tendencies to be prideful or easily frustrated). This tradition symbolizes the act of throwing those things away and allowing God to work in your life and change you.
6) Read the story of the binding of Isaac
It is customary on Yom Teruah to read and reflect on the binding of Isaac (see Genesis 22). God commanded Abraham, “Take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you” (Genesis 22:2). This is the first mention of the word love in the Bible, and it is connected to the picture of a father offering his only son:
For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, that whomever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16)
The blowing of the shofar on Yom Teruah reminds us of how God provided a ram in Isaac’s place as an offering to God (Genesis 22:13). As believers in Yeshua, it also reminds us of how the Messiah died in our place to free us from the death we deserve because of our sins. There are many Messianic pictures found throughout this incredible story. Here are some of the interesting parallels that exist just between Yeshua and Isaac: (1) Both had a miraculous birth (Genesis 21:1-7, Matthew 1:18-25); (2) Both were the “only son” of their fathers (Genesis 22:2, John 3:16); (3) Both carried the wood for their own sacrifices (Genesis 22:6, John 19:17); and (4) Both were delivered from death on the third day (Genesis 22:4, 1 Corinthians 15:4). These are just a few examples out of many.
7) Eat a festive meal
Last but not least, no feast day is complete without having a feast! On Yom Teruah, it is customary to eat apple slices dipped in honey, symbolizing our hopes for a “sweet” new year. For believers in Yeshua, the eating of honey-dipped apples is done in anticipation for when Yeshua returns at the sound of a trumpet and brings His people into a “land flowing with milk and honey.”
Shanah Tovah (have a good year), friends! May your Yom Teruah celebration be blessed!
About David Wilber
David’s heart is to minister to God’s people by helping them rediscover the validity and blessing of God’s Torah and help prepare them to give an answer to anyone who asks about the hope within them (1 Peter 3:15).
In addition to his book, A Christian Guide to the Biblical Feasts, David has written several theological and devotional articles available on various Messianic and Christian websites. David currently serves as a Bible teacher and writer for Freedom Hill Community and as a writer for 119 Ministries.