You may have heard of the "Jewish New Year" in Hebrew, Rosh Hashanah (the Head of the Year). But the biblical name for this day is Yom Teruah, the Day of Trumpets.
It is recorded in Leviticus 23:24, "Say to the Israelites: 'On the first day of the seventh month you are to have a day of sabbath rest, a sacred assembly commemorated with trumpet blasts.'" That day, according to an ancient Jewish tradition, the shofar (a trumpet made of a ram's horn) is sounded in a special and quite specific way. This is a call to God's people to leave all their everyday business and turn to God.
Ten "Days of Awe" follow, during which every Jewish person is supposed to reflect on the past year, repent before God, pay back debts, apologize to those we have offended and forgive those who have offended us. In a word, we are supposed to put our souls in order. The Days of Awe lead up to Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement), the holiest day of the year according to the Jewish calendar. It's the day of God's judgment and in Bible times, the day to know that we have forgiveness in accordance with the sacrifices made by faith, according to God's instructions. According to more modern tradition, God passes judgment on who is or isn't written into the Book of Life for the year.
It's a wonderful tradition that makes us think from year to year about God's inevitable judgment that all people face for our deeds, thoughts and words. God exists. He sees everything, and everyone will answer to Him! Blessed are those who have heard the trumpet call, because it reminds us of God's all-seeing presence and judgment - and our need for reconciliation. That's why every year, Jews for Jesus conducts a lot of outreach during the High Holidays of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.
Last year was a financially difficult one for Jews for Jesus in Russia. I was thinking that instead of street outreach, we would conduct a door-to-door visiting campaign in Moscow, as it costs much less. And suddenly at the last minute (it was already September), I got word from my supervisor that we had the necessary finances for the street outreach after all! I was absolutely not prepared and considered whether to argue for the already scheduled visit campaign, but felt it would be right to show obedience and conduct a street outreach instead.
That abrupt change of plans seemed like a trumpet call, God's way of getting my attention and showing me that I must be ready for Him to change my plans at any time, as Paul's plans were changed in Acts 16:6-10.
Praise God, lots of aspects of the last-minute preparation went far more smoothly than I expected. We conducted a street outreach in Moscow successfully, with God's blessings. One of those blessings was wonderful weather that ended just as soon as we ended our project! Thank you, Jesus, for sunny days! The main blessing is the many conversations we had about Christ! Here are the statistics: 4 staff members and 17 volunteers (the majority of whom came out only for two hours each) for six days handed out 18,670 broadsides and received 23 contacts, including addresses of 13 Jewish seekers and three people who prayed a sinner's prayer with us (one of them was a Jewish person). Praise the Lord!
Are you, reader, ready to respond to the "trumpet call" today? It's always a blessing! To return to God's will, again be "on the wave" of the Holy Spirit! Although sometimes, and maybe often, it's not easy, because you have to set aside your plans, which were perhaps well thought out. Blessed are the people who heed the trumpet call!
Maxim Ammosov leads our Moscow branch.