Sundown this evening marked the beginning of Rosh Hashanah. To many, that is not something that is typically “calendared” in your yearly experience. For Christians, it marks some very historically important events. For the first celebration, it marked the celebration of the day God created Adam and Eve, and in such, His entire creation prior to the Fall. It also marks the Days of Awe, as well as the 10 days of repentance leading up to Yom Kippur, or The Day of Atonement, which will begin at sundown on Friday, September 13th this year.
Many have already quit reading and decided I have lost my mind and am going “legalistic” and “ritualistic” on them. If you are still reading, that is not my intent or the passion of my heart as I observe these next 10 days. I do believe that there is MUCH we can learn from our Hebrew and Jewish roots by way of reverence, duty, obedience, dedication, and holiness, but more than that, our Lord was Jewish and would have observed these days and so as we have moved into the age of redemption, we cannot fully grasp what we have gained without understanding more fully our heritage. Context is vital in scripture if we are going to accurately see the fulfillment of the law met by the measure of unmerited grace Jesus Christ and the gospel represent.
Here is what I mean in very simple terms. As I observe this 10 days of repentance I will be asking the Lord to reveal to me such areas as where I am failing in my relationship with Him whether by simply taking His creation for granted, or possibly growing slack in my passion for prayer, hardening my heart to things that His is tender toward, closing my ears to His voice, distracting myself with business instead of being still in His presence to receive from Him His best, or heaven forbid, harming His reputation because of issues in my character or attitude. You see, standing in awe of Him, His creation, and His presence was a priority in the lives of Jews from the beginning, but how much more should it be vital to us now that we have the fullness of the Messiah and His gospel? I am thankful for the law which points out my sin, but I am eternally changed and grateful for the finished work of Christ and the provision of the Holy Spirit living in me and through me.
As I reflect on and receive what the Lord reveals to me, I then as part of the days of repentance make it a priority to set things right with God first, with myself and my obedience, with my loved ones, and then with others. As a Christ follower, hearing His voice is only as good as I follow what He says. James says we should not be hearers only but doers of the Word. The Word is not just the written Word, but also the living Word which is Christ Himself. We must hear Him, and obey Him. What a precious time on my calendar, a 10 day span, marking the Jewish New Year, but for me, a new season or season of renewal in my walk with Christ. A time specifically set aside to do all I can to allow myself and position myself to hear from Him, and to do what He says as portrayed by the day of Atonement or Yom Kippur. I don’t know about you, but come September those “New Years Commitments/Resolutions” are faded and mostly forgotten sad to say. What a sweet time of slowing down and taking in a deep breath of reflection and renewal of passion for His presence.
Do I observe every tradition they did? No. Do I even pretend to know or understand them all? No. Do I have to in order for God to honor this time of dedication in my life? No. God knows our hearts. This for me is a specific time set aside on my calendar to refocus, regroup, and renew passion. I do try to study the traditions, learn more about the different aspects of these days in early practice, and honor the purpose set aside, but I am sure if you set days aside they will look different for you as well.
I have barely scratched the surface of these High Holy Days. I have just introduced the observances. I have purposely not gone into detail of how they practiced these times, or how I typically observe them. The point is this… the time is here. The High Holy days are upon us. Now that you have heard of them or been reminded of them, what will the Lord lead you to do with them? For each of us it will look different and carry different implications. My heart is overflowing with anticipation of what the Lord will do in my life over the course of the next few days. My prayer is that no matter what it looks like in your life, or where it fits on your calendar, you will allow Him an extended time in your life to do what only He can do. A time you purposely set aside to meet with Him. A specific time you purpose to slow down, listen intently and with anticipation to hear His voice and respond. Celebrate a season of renewal in your passion for your personal prayer time, revival in your personal quiet time, or a recommitment to obedience to His call in your life. Set aside time just to stand in awe of the creator Himself.