Monday, September 14, 2015

Ten Days of Turning Back - the Days of Awe

The "Days of Awe" are also known as the "Ten Days of Repentance".  These are the days between Rosh Hashanah (the Feast of Trumpets) and Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement).  They are set aside as a time for self examination, to right wrongs against others and to turn back to God in areas that we have gone in our own ways.

I have included a VERY brief summary of the Fall Feasts in order to set these "Days of Awe" in their context, hoping it will help guide you as you listen to the Lord for how you might apply the principles to your own spiritual life.

The Feast of Trumpets is recognized for its sin offerings and the awakening blasts of the shofars.  It is a time for rest and sacrifice.  The blowing of the shofar (trumpet) is a central feature and calls the worshippers to turn to God. This Feast is also known as "the Day of Remembrance" (Leviticus 23:24).  The blast of the shofar is to jolt us from our slumber and to remember who we really are by remembering that the LORD is our King! 

What the "Days of Awe" can mean for believers
Though the next ten days, the "Days of Awe" are not identified in the Old Testament as special days, the activities of introspection and repentance would certainly be appropriate as the people looked towards the second great feast of the season, the Day of Atonement (also known as the Day of Judgement.)  This is the one day out of every year that the High Priest entered into the Holy of Holies and offered the sin sacrifice before the mercy seat and represents the atoning work of the cross that Jesus has accomplished for us.   Every part of each Feast is embedded with layers of meaning - and even the number of days between each one can have significance...for instance, ten happens to be the number that represents testing, responsibility, government and restoration.  The five days between the Day of Atonement and The Feast of Tabernacles is associated with the idea of grace, atonement and life.

The progression of the fall feasts also tells a story. Rosh Hashanah, on the 1st of Tishri, focuses on sin and repentance, and is followed by the Day of Atonement or Yom Kippur on the 10th of Tishri, and then Sukkot or the Feast of Booths on the 15th of the month, which focuses on God's providential care of his people.  

It is said that there are three types of "turning" associated with the Fall Feasts: 1) a turning inward for self examination; 2) a turning toward God in repentance; and 3) a turning towards others in charity.

Why would I entertain the idea of using these days as a springboard to "Turn Back to the Lord"?

The answer is quite simple...because every day we have many opportunities to turn around (repent) and return to Him! Notice that the definition of "repentance" is to have a change of mind, yet the command is not completed until the returning to the Lord happens... (Mark 6:12, Acts 3:19).

Now, with this seasonal focus to using these days to "turn back to God", we can use each day to explore ways to experience His rest and turn away from seeking this rest and His approval in our own strength.

Let's begin today by finding that special spot in your home that will be your "sanctuary" with the Lord.

What should this space be?  Where should it be?  

Begin by simply, slowly and intentionally, walking through your home. 

Ask the Lord to show you where He would like to meet with you. 

Is there any place that is drawing you?  

Do you need to rearrange it; 
                   add some things to it?

It may be a place you are already using. 

Or it may be a space you would never thought of before.

When you have found your spot, mark it in some specific way.  Make it attractive and appealing.  This doesn't need to take any money.  Move things that you like or even cherish into the spot.  Make a little "still life" arrangement.  

Ask yourself what you might need, physically speaking, in order to set time aside to "rest in Him".  (A timer?)  A fine teacup that you reserve for special occasions?  A soft throw to signal you mind "this is a restful space".

When you have this space set up and set aside...celebrate a job well done!  

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Rosh Hashana 0902
Fall Holidays, Days of Awe
Rosh Hashanah