Sunday September 27 2020

THE TEN DAYS OF AWE

AWAKENING TO JUDGMENT

Sunday September 27 2020

The commandment to observe Rosh Hashanah is found in Leviticus 23:23–25:

”And the Lord spoke unto Moses, saying, ‘Speak unto the children of Israel, saying, In the seventh month, in the first day of the month, shall ye have a Sabbath, a memorial of blowing of trumpets, an holy convocation. Ye shall do no servile work therein: but ye shall offer an offering made by fire unto the LORD.’”

It is also mentioned in Numbers 29:1: “And in the seventh month, on the first day of the month, ye shall have an holy convocation; ye shall do no servile work: it is a day of blowing the trumpets unto you.”

We have just passed through this time on our calendars. Saturday, September 19th, marked the day of Rosh Hashanah, the Feast of Trumpets, the Jewish New Year. This coming Monday, September 28th, marks the Day of Atonement or Yom Kippur. The ten intervening days are called the TEN DAYS OF AWE. This ten day interval is to be used as a time of personal reflection, repentance and prayer. It is also to be a time of “Awakening to Judgment.”

One of the central features of Rosh Hashanah is the shofar. The shofar is an instrument made from a ram’s horn that sounds somewhat like a trumpet. In the Bible, Rosh Hashanah is referred to as Yom Teruah, the day of the sounding of the shofar, otherwise known as the Feast of Trumpets. The shofar is often representative of Abraham’s offering Isaac to God as a sacrifice on Mount Moriah (Genesis 22). It was then that God provided Abraham with a ram caught by its horns in a thicket as a substitute for Isaac. (More on this next week.)

Rosh Hashanah is a time of both celebration and repentance. It is a time of spiritual renewal through prayer and deep personal reflection leading up to Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, on the 10th day of Tishri (Leviticus 23:26-28). Rosh Hashanah is when the Jewish people recognize God as King and Judge over all living things. On Rosh Hashanah Jewish believers, both Messianic and Old Orthodox,  celebrate the creation of the world as well on this day, when “God saw every thing that He had made, and, behold, it was very good,” (Genesis 1:31).

The vast majority of Christians are unfamiliar with most of the traditional Jewish holidays. Yet they hold great spiritual and prophetic significance. In Colossians 2:16–17 Paul says, “Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holy day, or of the new moon, or of the Sabbath days: which are a shadow of things to come.”

Rosh Hashanah is a time of forgiveness and new beginnings. Please take some time out of your week for serious introspection. Examine your heart before God and spend time in prayer.

Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, is observed on the 10th of Tishri. This day was a day of sin offerings and numerous other rituals as it was the most solemn of all the observances.

This was the day—the only day—that the High Priest was able to enter the Holy of Holies, and then only after elaborate ceremonial washings, offerings, and associated rituals.

Rosh Hashanah begins the ten Days of Affliction, or Awe, in anticipation of the Day of Atonement, or Yom Kippur.

We have just seen the passing of the civil Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashanah, which literally means, “head of the year” which was celebrated this past week on September 19th 2020.

This festival is one of the seven great festivals of the Lord described in the Hebrew Scriptures. It is appointed by God to be celebrated on the first day of the seventh month of the Jewish calendar, Tishri. All seven of these holy days are found in the Bible in Leviticus chapter 23, as well as in a number of other passages in the Pentateuch/Torah.

The holy days are prophetic in nature, and over the course of the year, provide a roadmap to redemption: Passover, Unleavened Bread, First Fruits, Pentecost, the New Year, Day of Atonement, and Tabernacles. They are similar in that each one involves worship, offerings, a rest from labour, and usually a reminder of a great event in the history of Israel. Oftentimes, a holiday is also tied to the agricultural season and is in some way connected to the harvest.

It is important to note the Hebrew word translated as “holiday” in Leviticus 23 is better understood as “appointments.” God asks Israel to remember what He did for them in history more than one hundred and fifty times in the Hebrew Scriptures. He set up these appointments, or appointed times, to help His people commune with Him and remember His good works in their history.

Each of these holy days was established by God and revealed to the children of Israel by Moses, who received the calendar as part of the Sinai revelation. We also understand and believe that every one of these festivals (“appointed times”) was fulfilled in the person of Jesus, the Messiah, and along with many scholars, believe the first four festivals, which occur in the spring, point to His first coming. The latter three in the fall are related to His second coming.

Rosh Hashanah is the first of three great festivals to be celebrated in the fall. The other two are Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement) and Sukkoth (the Feast of Tabernacles).

The great theme of Rosh Hashanah is repentance, and the overarching theme of the high holiday season is forgiveness. The first day of Rosh Hashanah begins a ten-day season of repentance, often called the Ten Days of Awe by the Jewish people. These ten days conclude with the observance of the Day of Atonement.

As I mentioned earlier, this past week from Saturday September 19th,  Rosh Hashanah, through to Monday  September 28th, the Day of Atonement or Yom Kippur, mark the Ten Days of Awe. It is a special collection of 10 days for reflection and repentance, book-ended by the two high Holy Days of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.

This is a wonderful opportunity for we, members of the body of Christ, to take time to join in faith with our Jewish brothers and sisters by a  celebration of reflection and self-examination, and to repent and seek forgiveness for the wrongs of our recent past. I believe there is a special application of God’s grace and mercy available to those who voice repentance and seek forgiveness during this season. I understand that God’s grace and mercy are ever present before us, but it is also evident that God Himself set this specific season aside for just such a purpose. I encourage each of our members to reflect on the past year. Where there has been resentment – let us seek understanding; where there has been hurt – let us pursue reconciliation; where we have been quick to point-the-finger –  let us bear the fruit of patience; where we have been negligent – let us put our hand to the plow once again.

We often have our New-Year’s-resolution-times. Well, Rosh Hashanah is the Jewish New Year, and that occurred this past week, Saturday September 19th. What better time to start afresh – afresh in the Holy Spirit. God has ordained this day, Rosh Hashanah, as His day for us to make the things of the past year right. He ordains ten days of Awe for us to make things right within ourselves, with our family, and with our brothers and sisters in Christ. Forty some odd years from today where will most of us be? When we come before Him on that our day, what are the words that each has uttered that will stand? Will our opinions count, our harsh words of criticism, our accusations, our ridicule? Will these things endure the testing or will they tumble about our feet as so much dry dung under the burning fire of His gaze? (Rev. 2:18)What are the words that will echo about His ears, the words we uttered to others? “I’m sorry….. Forgive me…… I was wrong to say that….. I forgive you…..” These are the words that will bring music to His ears.

It is critical to embrace this season. The Ten Days of Awe end with Yom Kippur, the day of atonement – the “day” of judgment! This was the day that sin was dealt its death blow. This season outlines perfectly the process. Rosh Hashanah, Saturday September 19th, 2020 the day of new beginnings. Followed by The Ten Days of Awe, for reflection, prayer, forgiveness and repentance. Then ending on Monday September 28th, 2020 the day of Yom Kippur – the day of judgment where confessed sin of the past ten days is dealt with or, if the sin be left un-repented, it is left to linger and seep forward carrying its infection onward into the next year. That’s the prototype. So, what’s it to be? Rosh Hashanah is often termed, “Awakening to Judgment.” The shofar is sounded to startle us from our sleep. God shakes us by the shoulders and cries, “Wake up! The time approaches!” Rosh Hashanah is also often referred to as “The Feast of Shouting.” I am reminded of 1Thess. 4:16:

“For the LORD Himself shall descend from heaven with a shout and the voice of the archangel, and with the trump [shofar] of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first:”

Rosh Hashanah is therefore a sacred time that has prophetic significance for the Messianic believer, since it commemorates both the creation of the universe by Adonai as well as the ‘calling up’ of the new creation at the behest of Yeshua, when the sound of the heavenly shofar inaugurates the anticipated End of Days (1 Cor. 15: 51-54).

For we Christians then, Rosh Hashanah reminds us that the LORD God is the king of all the earth, our Creator and Redeemer. As Psalm 47:2 reminds us, “For the LORD Most High is awesome, the great King over all the earth.” (NIV)

We Christians need to be reminded of the soon appearing of King Yeshua our LORD. And though we do not know the exact day or hour we must watch and be ready for His appearance. We ought, therefore, be in a constant state of humility as we seek repentance.

We also are reminded that Yeshua’s first message was, “Repent and believe the gospel.” (Mark 1:15) So our first duty on this the day of the New Year, Rosh Hashanah, is to believe the gospel and repent. And the sounding of the Shofar is to awaken our hearts and to prepare for the coming judgment. Also, the blowing of the shofar is prophetic of the rapture of the church.

Then, we understand the ceremony reminds us that our LORD is a God of new beginnings.  He is faithful to forgive us and restore with the casting away of our repented sins which He remembers no more.

During this ten days of awe our Jewish brothers and sisters employ the following greeting. “May you be inscribed in the Book of Life for a good year!” You see, their belief being that it is during this period of repentance that one’s name is written either in the Book of Life or in the book of the dead. We can rejoice that at the cross our names have not been blotted out of the Book of Life. (Rev. 21:27) 1

Another aspect of Rosh Hashanah is that the blowing of the shofar takes the Hebrew mind back to the Akedat – the binding of Isaac, where a Divine Exchange occurred – the ram for Isaac. The significance is many-fold. The ram was caught by its horns – ram horns – shofar horns! So, upon hearing the shofar they are reminded that there was an exchange of the ram for Isaac. More next week.

So what is our response this day? I do not want to carry anything with me that is unbecoming when I appear before Him. I want to be “prayed-up.” I don’t want fowl things that I have uttered to ring in His ear. I want His words ringing in my ear – “Well done thou good and faithful servant . . .” (Matt. 25:21,23). Hearing this comes at a cost! We must do what is outlined during this Ten Days of Awe.

I encourage us to live according to 1 John 2:1, “My little children, these things write I unto you, that you sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.”

We need to endeavour to put off, “anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth.” (Col. 3:8) We need to put on, “… therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercy, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering; and above all these things put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness.”

Let us not grow weary in well doing for in due season we will reap if we do not lose heart. (Gal. 6:9)

Let us celebrate the goodness of our LORD and Saviour who, on the same Mount Moriah of Abraham and Isaac, also participated in The Divine Exchange. He, the Lamb of God, the Innocent One, the Ram ‘caught’ in the brambles, offered Himself freely on our behalf, so we may be freed, once and for all, from the curse of our sin nature. And as He uttered forgiveness upon us all, let us echo His forgiveness towards others who may have wounded us.

May the LORD strengthen you with the resolve to get-it-done – repent and forgive and move into your new beginning. Amen.

1  Hebrew for Christians www.hebrew4christians.com

 

PASTORAL PRAYER

As believers, we need to reflect and repent regularly throughout our lifetime but since we are passing through the Days of Awe, let us now consider ten days of prayer, reflection and repentance as the Pastor has suggested. Judaism traditionally holds that actions consistent with  teshuvah (repentance), tefilah  (prayer), and tzedakah (charity/good deeds) during the Days of Awe are practiced. Let’s make it a time spent getting right with God and with our family and friends. The following may assist you in your journey:

  1. A) Seek forgiveness from at least one person you may have wronged and try to make amends.
  2. B) Ask the Lord to lead you into dialogue with a person who is seeking God, and lovingly introduce them to Jesus. God’s desire is that everyone should repent and no one should perish. (Matthew 18:14)
  3. C) Though we cannot atone for our sins with gifts of money, God does command that we be generous to the poor and needy in the Land. Ask the Lord if there is at least one person you can bless during this time with a financial gift (no matter how small).
  4. D) If possible make an effort to take practical steps to be instruments of reconciliation, forgiveness, and love in the lives of people around you.

Day 1 A Prayer of Praise for God our Father and our King (borrowed from Crosswalk.com)

Abba, Father, you are the Alpha and Omega, the Beginning and the End. You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God. You are my Creator and my Counselor, guiding me daily to make wise decisions. You are my Comforter in sorrow, pain, or distress. I praise you for drawing near to me when I draw near to you. You are El Roi, the God who sees me, and you are Eternal, Lord. You are my heavenly Father, and the father of the fatherless. How great are you and your faithfulness, God, day in and day out.

You are holy, yet you made a way for me to approach you. I praise you for being my Helper, and for your Holy Spirit‘s conviction, correction, and protection in my life. You are invisible, but I see you with eyes of faith. You are Jehovah God, and Jehovah Jireh, the One who provides for all my needs. I praise you as my Jehovah Rapha, my God who heals, and for being Jehovah Rah, My faithful Shepherd. You are not just King, but you are King of Kings, and Lord of Lords. And yes, you are Jesus, the name above all names.

With my whole heart I praise you, God. You are Messiah, the soon and coming King. You are omniscient; you know all things. You are omnipresent; everywhere at all times. You are my Peace, my Protector, and the High Priest who became my Redeemer and Sacrifice forever. You died to set me free; you rose again and gave me victory over death. No longer am I enslaved in sin; you are my Salvation, my Rescuer and my Refuge. You give me hope within.

I praise you because you are trustworthy and true. You are my Teacher, and your understanding and wisdom is beyond finite minds; you promise wisdom to me when I ask. You are the Way, the Truth, and the Life. Lord, I love that you delight in me and that you rejoice over me with singing. You know the number of hairs on my head, and you are always thinking of me.

You are preparing a place for me so that one day I will live with you forever. Maybe then—and only then—will I be able to praise you adequately in a way not possible here on earth—the way you truly deserve. All my love, all my praise are for you. Lord, oh, Lord. How excellent is your name in which I pray! Amen

Prayers of Repentance – from Prayers on constantcontact.com suggested for the Days of Awe (divided over several days by me)

Day 2

Dear Lord, we come before You now in humble repentance for our hedonistic ways. Please forgive us Father for not being satisfied with Your merciful provisions for our lives. Forgive us as a nation for prideful boasting of being blessed or lucky instead of rightfully glorifying You for Your bountiful blessings upon us by Your Great Goodness and Mercy. Please forgive us, dear Lord, for not bearing public witness to Your gracious and generous provisions and for failing to love and cherish You and Your eternal, supernatural and Divine purposes more than our own mortal life. We confess that all that is Good is by Your hand only, and we thank You!! Dear Lord, we humbly repent of our unfaithfulness to You, of failing to ascribe to You all the Power, Glory, Honour and Praise!

Please forgive us Lord for our endlessly voracious appetites for more. We have been neither humbled nor appropriately grateful to You for all we have on our table and have coveted the things on our neighbours’. We have gluttonously sought and lusted after the pleasures and powers of this world instead of seeking and desiring only You and that which You desire for us. Please forgive us for setting our affections more on the things and gods of this world than on You and Your Kingdom. ~ In Jesus’ name. Amen

Day 3

Dear Lord please forgive us for our vainglory and idolatry of self. We have made ourselves into ‘golden calves.’ Please forgive us for being more preoccupied with the physical fitness and appearance of our mortal coils than our spiritual well-being and inner beauty that have everlasting value. Please forgive us for trying to reduce You to our image rather than serving, revering and exalting You as our One True, Holy God Who is Far Higher and Above ourselves in every way.

We have cared more about ourselves than others, hoarding and investing in our own comforts and worldly ‘security’, while shutting the door of our hearts, homes and bank accounts to those in need. Please forgive us, dear Lord, for selectively reading and interpreting Your Holy Word to suit our own purposes and to justify our own self-centered agendas. Please transform our stony hearts into hearts of flesh; may we love You and others as You first loved us, with a selfless, sacrificial kind of love that is pleasing to You. ~ In Jesus’ name. Amen

Day 4

Dear Lord, we have been living as if we only have power in ourselves as mere mortals and at the mercy of our sinful flesh, rather than living as ones who have been made righteous and immortal by our faith in salvation by the precious, shed Blood of the Lamb of God and the triumphal power of Your risen, conquering Son. Please forgive us for not boasting of You and Your Triumph as we ought, for hiding You and even Your Name under a bushel as if ashamed of knowing You. We have not identified with You as we ought. Nor have we yielded ourselves fully to Your Word, Your Will or Your Ways. We have been brazenly living as if we ourselves are the creators instead of the miry clay. We have failed to humble ourselves before You, to live penitently as we ought, cleaving only unto You as our only Life Source in this dry and barren place….. Please outpour Your Mercy to us dear Father and we humbly thank You Jesus for Your amazing Grace! Please forgive us for the times when we have taken even these for granted. ~ In Jesus’ name. Amen

Day 5

Dear Lord God Almighty, we are grieved to confess that our nation has become like the Valley of Kidron, full of dry bones and a filthy reservoir of every unholy thing. We have shamelessly prided ourselves in the things of man – yes, even the sins that You call “abominable” – and even we in the Church have waywardly looked to our own ‘cleverness’ to ‘save’ us. Please forgive us for our folly. We have invested much thought, time, money, energy and resources into the conception of our own ideas and plans, without looking to You alone and waiting to hear from heaven – and as a result we have birthed only wind and this land has been overtaken by the Enemy. Worst of all, we have neglected to proclaim the life-giving Gospel Truth and have omitted your Holy Name that carries all Power and Authority, even within our own families and schools and in Christian gatherings and media messages in the public arena. We repent of living our lives as if You were dead and we were capable of saving ourselves. Oh dear God, please forgive us!  ~ In Jesus’ name. Amen

Day 6

Dear Lord, we rejoice in Your Divine Love and thank You for dying for us while we were yet still dirty, rotten sinners. Lord, please take from us our filthy garb and dress us in white linen. Please wash and cleanse us with Your Fuller’s soap and refine us with Your fire. Transform us from being brazen to bronzed, redeemed and refined just as the bronzed laver was made holy through the purification of fire, and infilled with Your purifying Living Water. May we be transformed into holy vessels in Your sight, dedicated to Your righteous service as Truth speakers.  ~ In Jesus’ name. Amen

Day 7

Please infill us with the oil of Your Holy Spirit so that we may become Your Light in this darkened world. Please set our feet straight on the path that You have set before us and bless us with eyes to see as You see, and ears to hear as You hear. May we evermore resist temptation and flee from evil, looking neither to the left or the right, but rather keeping our eyes and ears fixed on You alone, Lord Jesus. May we run the course You set for us in the fullness and confidence of Your Power and Authority, as the chosen adopted sons and daughters of the Living, Triune God. And may we now and forevermore give You Alone all Honour, Glory and Praise, boldly proclaiming Your Goodness and Grace, even unto our (mortal) death.

Thank You, Thank You, Thank You dear Lord God Almighty, Who was and is and is to come. May Your redeemed Bride be dressed in righteousness and adorned in holy array with the jewels and sweet fragrance of Your Spirit as we joyfully prepare for Your soon return. HalleluYah! ~ In Jesus’ name. Amen

Day 8  and 9 Reflection and Prayer (borrowed from catholic-daily-reflections.com)

Jesus said, “At the judgment the men of Nineveh will arise with this generation and condemn it, because at the preaching of Jonah they repented, and there is something greater than Jonah here.”  Luke 11:32   What an interesting way for Jesus to call the people to repentance.  Simply put, the people of Nineveh repented when Jonah preached to them.  However, many people in Jesus’ time did not.  The result is that, at the end of time, the people of Nineveh will be given the responsibility of condemning those who failed to listen to Jesus.

The first thing we should take from this is that condemnation for refusing to repent of one’s sins is real and serious.  Jesus is speaking about eternal damnation to the people who fail to listen to His preaching.  As a result of this very strong teaching of Jesus, we should sincerely look at our own willingness to repent, or lack thereof. 

Secondly, it’s important to point out that the people Jesus chastised were far more blessed with the prophetic message than the people of Jonah’s time.  Remember that Jonah was a man who, at first, ran from God and from his mission.  He did not want to go to Nineveh and only did so after being brought there in the belly of a whale against his will.  It’s hard to imagine that Jonah would have subsequently preached with a wholehearted zeal.  But, nonetheless, his preaching was effective.

The people of Jesus’ time were blessed with hearing the actual words of the Savior of the World.  But so are we!  We have the Gospels, the teachings of the Church, the witness of the great saints, the shepherding of the Holy Father, the Sacraments and so much more.  We have countless methods of obtaining the Gospel message in our technological age and, yet, we can easily fail to heed Christ’s message. 

Reflect, today, upon your own willing response to the words of Jesus.  He speaks to us in powerful ways and yet we so often fail to listen.  Our failure to listen leads to a failure of complete repentance from our sins.  If this is you, reflect also upon the words of severe condemnation that await those who are obstinate.  This realization should fill us with a holy fear and motivate us to listen to the preaching of our Lord.

Prayer: Dear Lord, I know You speak to me in countless ways.  You preach through Your Scriptures, Your Church and in my life of prayer.  Help me to heed Your voice and accept all You say with perfect obedience and submission.  I love You, my dear Lord, and I repent of my sin.  Jesus, I trust in You. Amen.

Day 10 borrowed from prayerandpossibilities.com

Heavenly and Almighty God, I come before you humbled and sorrowful, aware of my sin, and ready to repent. (2 Corinthians 7:9-11) Lord, forgive me for I have sinned before you. Wash away my sin, purify me, and help me to turn from this sin. Lead me to walk in your way instead, leaving behind my old life and starting a new life in you. Lord, you who are loving and just, show compassion upon me, shower me with your mercy. All this I pray through your Son Jesus Christ, who came to save us from our sin. Amen. 

 

 

 

 

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