A picture of the New Moon from the Old City of Jerusalem, March 2016.

This is my favorite time of the year. We are fast approaching the 7th biblical month, a month called sacred by the first century Jewish historian Josephus.

The Bible refers to this season as the “turn of the year” (Exodus 34:22) and the “going out of the year” (Exodus 23:16). It is a time to reflect on our deeds and to turn to God.

There is something quite moving about being in sync with God’s appointed times (moedim). They are listed in Leviticus 23. In the very first verse we learn that these are the “festivals of YHVH.”

The Jewish people have kept these festivals since antiquity and have developed their own rich traditions around each of these. Non-Jews are beginning to see the great value in studying them and incorporating them into their walk. These moedim clearly have meaning for anyone that seeks to adopt the ways of the Creator.

Beginning at sundown on September 20th, according to the Jewish calendar, and with the sighting of the thin crescent of the new moon, we enter the 7th biblical month. The first day of the 7th month is known in the Bible as Yom Teruah, (a day of blasting, shouting), more commonly known as the Feast of Trumpets, and traditionally as Rosh HaShanah (or New Year’s day).

Anciently, the new month was determined based upon the sighting of the new moon (a thin crescent), while the modern Jewish calendar is determined by calculation. The subject of the Hebrew Calendar is a very interesting and hotly debated subject – but one that is quite rewarding. So whether you follow the Jewish calendar or prefer to spot the thin crescent moon in the sky with your own eyes, this is the Day!

An Ancient Sermon delivered on Yom Teruah

The 8th chapter of Nehemiah contains a sermon that was preached on this very day (Yom Teruah) nearly 2,500 years ago! It is there referred to as “a day Holy to YHVH.” The Torah has two main references to this Festival (Leviticus 23:23-25 and Numbers 29:1-6). The key word for this particular holy day is the Hebrew word Teruah. It is from the root “rua’ – רוע” which means to “raise a shout” and is often associated with a battle cry or with making a loud noise. The ram’s horn trumpet or shofar is often connected to this day of noise.

See the following passages for other examples of the word – Psalm 47, Psalm 66:1; Psalm 81:2; Psalm 100:1, and Joshua 6:5.

This coming Sabbath which follows Yom Teruah is called Shabbat Shuvah – the Sabbath of Repentance, or literally return. From the 1st day of the 7th month, we enter a 10-day countdown towards Yom Kippur – the Day of Atonement. I would encourage all of you to examine yourself and seek to make mends. The gates of repentance are always open.

I pray that each of you will meditate on these things as we enter this Holy 7th month. Look for the new moon and when you see it, make some noise!

Shalom as we anxiously await Yom Teruah – the Day of Shouting!

Video on Yom Teruah

Additional Reading on Yom Teruah