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The Jewish New Year

In Israel, we are now entering the season of the Fall Festivals. This is a collection of holidays that emphasize a time of repentance and reflection. The festivals are given to us as a shadow and signs so that we know how to “identify the season” we are in.

Rosh Hashanah is ten days before Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement). Yom Kippur is the holiest day of the Jewish calendar. This was the only day of the year where the High Priest would enter into the Holy of Holies to make atonement for the sins of the people. The preparation prior to this was a 40 day period where the people prayed and repented for their sins. If you think of it like a trial, the 40 days were the trail proceedings, and Yom Kippur was the day when judgment was pronounced. So the 10 days prior to the final day of Judgement are the “closing arguments” part of the trial. This is the season of “drawing near.”

“Seek the Lord while He may be found, Call upon Him while He is near.

Let the wicked forsake his way, And the unrighteous man his thoughts;

Let him return to the Lord, And He will have mercy on him;

And to our God, For He will abundantly pardon.” (Isa 55:6-7)

In Jewish tradition, the fate of every person was determined for the next year during the 10 “Days of Awe” between Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur. One’s name was written in either the “Book of Life” or the “Book of Death.” Yom Kippur was the final day when everyone’s name was written in one of the two books, and the quality of repentance during this time was what determined where your name was written. That is why this period is called “Aseret Yemei Teshuva” or “the Ten Days of Repentance.”

As members of the Body of the Messiah:

“We have such a High Priest, who is seated at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens, 2 a Minister of the sanctuary and of the true tabernacle which the Lord erected, and not man.” (Heb 8:1-2) “Christ came as High Priest of the good things to come, with the greater and more perfect tabernacle not made with hands, that is, not of this creation. 12 Not with the blood of goats and calves, but with His own blood He entered the Most Holy Place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption. 13 For if the blood of bulls and goats and the ashes of a heifer, sprinkling the unclean, sanctifies for the purifying of the flesh, 14 how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God? 15 And for this reason He is the Mediator of the new covenant, by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions under the first covenant, that those who are called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance.” (Heb 9:11-15)

So our hope is secured not through our own righteousness, but through Him we have already been written in the Book of Life. Now may God use our lives to make known the path of true repentance leading to eternal life. We long for the day in Israel when:

“I will pour on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem the Spirit of grace and supplication; then they will look on Me whom they pierced. Yes, they will mourn for Him as one mourns for his only son, and grieve for Him as one grieves for a firstborn.” (Zech 12:10-11)

 This is a promised season of true repentance that is to come through a pouring out of a Spirit of Grace and Supplication on “the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem” that we long to see released. Please pray with us for this outpouring.

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