Trail Blazer Ministries
Base Camp for Life: A Spiritual Journey...

L'shana Tovah!

Leviticus 25:23 The LORD said to Moses, 24 "Say to the Israelites: 'On the first day of the seventh month you are to have a day of rest, a sacred assembly commemorated with trumpet blasts. 25 Do no regular work, but present an offering made to the LORD by fire.' "

Before I get caught up in the weekly rat race and forget to post, I'd like to wish everyone a very happy Rosh Hashana! Rosh Hashana, or "Jewish new year," begins tomorrow at sunset, and is one of the most holy days of the Jewish religious calendar. But, it is also an important day for Christians to remember, not only for its Old Testament significance, but also for what it can teach us about God's plan for humanity.

Rosh Hashana, which literally means the "head" or "beginning" of the year, is a beautiful holiday of new beginnings. Symbolically, the holiday commemorates the creation of the world, and one source indicates that "Jewish tradition sees everyone as being created anew at this time of year." ( Observant Jews will often go down to a local river on Rosh Hashana to symbolically cast their "sins" into the water, which are sometimes represented by small pieces of paper or pieces of bread. This custom is called "tashlikh," and it is traditionally associated with a passage from Micah 7:18-20: "You will cast all of their sins into the depths of the sea."

But Rosh Hashana is also viewed as a day of judgement. On Rosh Hashana, it is believed that God opens the Book of Life and pronounces judgement for the coming year. The Book of Life is said to remain open throughout the ten days following Rosh Hashana, which are called the "Days of Awe." During this time, observant Jews will ask forgiveness for their sins and do good deeds, in the hopes of securing a more favorable judgement on Yom Kippur.

The most famous symbol of Rosh Hashana, however, is the shofar, or ram's horn. The shofar is blown much like a trumpet, and it is from this instrument that Rosh Hashana derives its other name - "The Feast of Trumpets." One hundred notes are sounded on the shofar during each day of the festival. While no Biblical reason is given for this practice, several theories have been advanced, including the idea that the sounding of the shofar marks a call to repentance, the coronation of God as King, or the wailing of God's people throughout the world.

In the New Testament, Paul beautifully connects all of these images and uses them to paint a picture of the believer's future state:

1 Corinthians 15:50 I declare to you, brothers, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. 51Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed— 52in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed.

The New Testament teaches that we are new creations in Christ. Rosh Hashana, then, looks ahead to the restoration of all things - the "new beginning" that we have found in Christ Jesus. This restoration begins at the personal level and extends outwards to include all of creation. The Festival of Trumpets, then, is a celebration for all of God's people, as we rejoice in the wonderful new work that God has begun among us - the creation of a new heavens and a new earth, starting right now with me and you.

Isaiah 65:17 "Behold, I will create new heavens and a new earth. The former things will not be remembered, nor will they come to mind.

2 Corinthians 5:17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!

Revelation 21:1 Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. 2I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. 3And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, "Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. 4He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away." 5He who was seated on the throne said, "I am making everything new!" Then he said, "Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true."

Michael, careful man, believing Rev 21 to be fulfilled will make you a full preterist, which to some, makes you a heretic.
You quoted 1 Cor 15; if you believe this to be here and now, what future fleshy resurrection do you ascribe to?

Hi Jesse,

Thanks for the feedback. Let me clarify my remarks. I do not believe that Rev 21 and 1 Cor 15 have been completely fulfilled. What I believe is that God is in the process of "re-creating" us and the world we live in. When we come to Christ in faith, we become "new creations" as Christ transforms our hearts and minds and gives us a new identity as Children of God. The effects of this transformation extend outwards, to touch those around us, like ripples extending outward from a stone thrown into a lake. In other words, I believe that God the "new creation" is still unfolding, as lives are changed by the gospel.

Romans 8:19-23 is an important passage:

19The creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed. 20For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope 21that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God. 22We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. 23Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.

Notice that Paul links the redemption of the natural world with the manifestation of God's children and the "redemption of our bodies." So, while I believe that while the Kingdom is a present reality for the believer, there is an outward manifestation of that reality that is still to come, when creation itself experiences transformation and redemption. At that time, I believe we will be raised to experience the wonderful new world that we have labored with God to bring about. I really like the Jewish perspective on this subject:

"The resurrection of the dead will occur in the messianic age, a time referred to in Hebrew as the Olam Ha-Ba, the World to Come, but that term is also used to refer to the spiritual afterlife. When the messiah comes to initiate the perfect world of peace and prosperity, the righteous dead will be brought back to life and given the opportunity to experience the perfected world that their righteousness helped to create."

Jewish definition of messiah:

"Anglicization of the Hebrew, "moshiach" (annointed). A man who will be chosen by G-d to put an end to all evil in the world, rebuild the Temple, bring the exiles back to Israel and usher in the world to come. It is better to use the Hebrew term "moshiach" when speaking of the Jewish messiah, because the Jewish concept is very different from the Christian one."

Michael, this isn't my definition of the messiah and I hope you see the difference here. Since they'll deny that Jesus was the messiah, they can look forward to a time when their "moshiach" comes to rebuild the temple that was intentionally destroyed to END the messianic age.

Great comment Ryan, why is Michael confusing the messianic age with Christianity?

Hey guys,

Obviously, there are significant differences between the Jewish and Christian understanding of the word "Messiah." As a Christian, I do not agree with the definition of "Messiah" that Ryan posted.

However, I do believe in a literal second coming of Christ and a physical, external Kingdom reign of God over humanity. I do not believe that the Temple will be rebuilt, as it no longer serves any function in God's plan, but I know that some dispensationalists will argue for a future restoration of the Temple. The term "messianic age" is not one that is commonly used in Christianity. In the context of the passage I cited above, I would argue that the Jewish "messianic age" is equivalent to the second coming of Christ. However, I could see where it could be reasonably argued that the so-called "messianic age" refers more specifically to coming of Christ in the first century.

If the "messianic age" was inaugerated by Christ in the first century, then the Preterist would argue that we are currently living in the "messianic age," correct?

I listened to a Rabbi on a CD recently, he mentioned Daniel was completely fulfilled in 70ad. The temple has to be rebuilt for the Jews, some look forward to this rather than a literal coming of the Messiah.
A post Millennial has the "golden age as the "messianic age" as it were. Notice Christ doesn't need to return for this to happen.
Your right, the full-preterist would argue the new heavens and earth are inaugurated, and we are living in the "messianic age" as you define it.

Shoot, I guess I got "messianic" confused with "mosaic."

Well, Michael, I got that definition of messiah right off the website that you quoted in your first comment! If you don't agree with that pivotal definition--that's like, kind of important you know!

"The pursuit of truth can only begin once they start to question and analyze every belief that they ever held dear. If a certain belief passes the tests of evidence, deduction, and logic, it should be kept. If it doesn't, the belief should not only be discarded, but the thinker must also then question why he was led to believe the erroneous information in the first place."
- Socrates

My Point is: If the Jews do not believe Jesus was the messiah, I don't find any reason to be enamored with them. Rather, I'm a little more worried about what lengths they will go to achieve full dominance of "their" territory and a rebuilt temple--if the philosophy of "the end will justify the means" holds consistent. Regardless whether some Jews differ on the opinion of looking forward to a rebuilt temple vs. a future messiah, who Jesus was is still an issue. Jesus claimed to be the messiah that Daniel prophesied of and the Jews rejected him. Jesus came and said that he doesn't want to live in a stone temple or in a house or with a mouse or on a boat or with a goat... he wants to dwell in us. Jesus' message messes up the plan for a future temple or a future messiah because he came and took care of business if you know what I mean!

That point comes back to the Socrates quote from earlier, which initiated for me a personal quest for truth a couple years ago in what I understood to be Christianity at the time.

Ryan, I agree with your definition of the Messiah and I absolutely do not hold to the view of Messiah that you have cited above. When I cited Judaism 101, I was not giving a blanket endorsement to the entire site. However, I think that the author's thoughts on the resurrection are interesting, and I find Biblical support for the paragraph I cited in my post above. I particularly like the idea of God's people being resurrected to experience the new world that they have helped to bring about by sharing God's love through the gospel of Jesus Christ. I do believe that God will one day allow us to experience the fruit of our labors here on earth. It might not be too far from the mark to suggest that those who (working through God's grace) have given their all and contributed the most to the world to come (by sharing God's love) will have the greatest joy in the resurrection. Those who merely sat on their hands and did not actively seek to transform the world through the power of the gospel will perhaps have the greatest shame, since they'll see all of the opportunities that they missed to share the love of God with those around them. But that's a whole 'nother issue, and I've got a feeling I'm opening another can of worms :-)

Judaism is as diverse as Christianity in some respects, and there are many different Jewish sects with differing beliefs about the nature of the Messiah and on the issue of Zionism. I'm not necessarily "enamored" by Judaism, but I do find the Jewish perspective to be helpful in understanding certain parts of Scripture - afterall, they wrote the first half of the Book :-)

Regarding the nature of the "messianic age" or "the Kingdom," I would agree with you guys that the Kingdom was inaugerated by Christ in the first century A.D., and that it is a present reality for believers. I believe that God is presently in the process of progressively unfolding a "new creation" through the gospel of Christ. The only difference between my view and yours (assuming I'm understanding you guys correctly) is that I believe the Christian story has a definite climax to it, which is the second coming of Christ and the establishment of God's reign over all the earth: not only spiritually, but also physically, in the perfecting of creation. I do not believe that God's reign will be established through human effort (apart from God's grace in working through and with his people), and I particularly reject the notion that the Kingdom can be established through military means to reclaim Jerusalem and build another Temple.

Does that help to clear things up? Or have I only muddied the waters even more? :-\

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