Rosh Hashanah – the Jewish New Year – is a time of reflection and expectation. Just as when January 1 approaches, Rosh Hashanah draws Messianic Jews as well as all Jewish people to look back on the previous 12 months and gaze ahead to the unfolding new year.
When we reflect, we think quietly, ponder, consider, mull over, observe, study, examine and contemplate.
Rosh Hashanah means “head of the year” in Hebrew, and Jewish tradition teaches that at this time, God decrees a judgment on the life of individuals for the coming year. Ten days later, at Yom Kippur, He seals that judgment. Therefore, Rosh Hashanah, along with the preceding month of Elul, form a season of contemplation and repentance to ensure right standing with God. The focus on self-examination and making amends heightens during the 10 Days of Awe immediately preceding Yom Kippur.
Messianic Jews and other Believers are reconciled to God through faith in Yeshua (Jesus), the Messiah God sent to make complete atonement for our sin. His death on the executioner’s stake was a once-for-all sacrifice. In receiving this incredible gift, Believers are assured that their standing with God is secured eternally, and there is no need for annual reconciliation to determine our fate for the coming year.
Reflection should be a significant part of any Believer’s life. But annual events often extend a clear invitation to take stock of one’s life. Birthdays, anniversaries and the New Year beckon us to examine who we are and how we live.
As the Jewish calendar turns the page to the year 5778, Rosh Hashanah provides a natural opportunity to consider our growth, mistakes, goals, desires and dreams. Why not take some time to contemplate the past year and ponder the coming one? Start by asking yourself some questions and praying that God will help you hear His answers.
In the past 12 months, how have you grown spiritually? Are you more patient, positive, thankful or has your trust in God increased? Thank Him for those areas of growth.
What about the ways you’ve disappointed yourself? Take those to Him as well, and receive His forgiveness as you stand on the biblical truth that God knows your every weakness, loves you completely and truly delights in you as His child.
How would you like to grow in the year ahead? What negative habits – whether physical or spiritual – would you like to break? What new habits would you like to form? Do you have specific goals? Would you like to pursue a volunteer opportunity, share your testimony with your congregation, talk about Yeshua with someone you know, or learn a new skill?
Ask God what he wants to teach you in the next 12 months. Ask Him to speak to you through His unchanging Word and His Spirit.
And then listen.
Remember that your time with God doesn’t have to be all in one sitting. Your reflection can come in multiple prayer sessions, quiet times, and even in spare moments in your days. But do set aside some time to give Him your undivided attention.
And when you hear His voice beckoning you to new heights and delights in your spiritual walk with Him, rejoice that He loves you so much that He is always working within you to perfect and complete you so that you may more fully enjoy His abundant life.