Monthly Archives: September 2014

The Ten Days of Awe

We are in the midst of the Ten Days Awe which began with the first day of the Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashanah.  The other name for this season is the Ten Days of Repentance as the traditional Jewish belief for this season is that God will judge our hearts and actions during this period of time and determine our future.  The culmination of the ten days is the observance of Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement which begins this coming Friday evening.

I have written a series of devotionals on the themes of atonement and forgiveness and hope you will read them.  The following is the text of the first devotional…

We are about to observe the Civil Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashanah, which literally means, the “Head of the Year.” The festival is one of the seven great festivals, appointed by God to be celebrated on the first day of the seventh month of the Jewish calendar, Tishrei. 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. There is also a vast amount of rabbinic material describing the festivals and how they should be observed.

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. The holidays are similar as each one involves a rest from labor, worship, offerings and usually a reminder of a great event in the history of Israel. Oftentimes a holiday is also tied to the agricultural season and in one way or another is connected to the harvest.

It is important to note the Hebrew word translated as “holiday” in Leviticus 23 is better when understood as “appointments.” God asks Israel to remember what He did for them in history over 150 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.

I also 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 Spring festivals pointed to His first coming and the latter three in the Fall are related to His second coming.

These holidays have a variety of themes and customs and are observed in a similar manner by most Jewish people, whether they be Ashkenazic (Eastern European decent) or Sephardic (primarily from Spain and North Africa)—New Yorkers, Brooklynites or Israelis. The major themes of the Jewish New Year are Kingship, Remembrance and the Blowing of the Shofar.

Over the centuries, our rabbis and sages have complied a book entitled the Machzor, which is used in the synagogue as the prayer book and service guide for Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur (See Leviticus 23: 23- 25; Numbers 10: 10; 29: 16 for the biblical details).

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

The great theme of Rosh Hashanah is repentance and the overarching theme of the High Holiday season is forgiveness. In fact, the first day of Rosh Hashanah begins a season of ten days of repentance, often called the Ten Days of Awe by the Jewish people. The observance of the Day of Atonement concludes these ten days. It is understood by most Jewish people that repentance is the path that leads to salvation and the forgiveness of sin, which is secured at the closing moments of Yom Kippur.

Though it is difficult to explain the difference, forgiveness is stressed in the Jewish community far more than personal salvation, especially as understood by most Christians. Jewish people are not as apt to think about personal salvation or a secured future beyond the grave in the same way Christians do.

However, Jewish people do think about forgiveness during this time of year and are usually eager to repent before God and reconcile with whomever they may have offended as well. But, forgiveness is viewed as temporal, needing annual renewal and received on the basis of God’s grace as well as our repentance and willingness to be obedient to His Law found in the Five Books of Moses. At least this is the traditional Jewish teaching on the subject.

The Ten Days of Awe or the Ten Days of Repentance are observed during the time between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. Jewish tradition calls upon us to ask for forgiveness and to forgive others as one vital part of receiving God’s forgiveness at the conclusion of the ten-day period.

The Purpose for the Devotionals:

During the Ten Days of Repentance, we will be providing our readers with ten devotions, one for each day.

These devotional thoughts will hopefully be a blessing to you and help sensitize you to what your Jewish family and friends are observing as well. We also will present a passage or two from the Bible for you to meditate upon and will allow the Lord to speak to you through His word during this important season of the year.

The Apostle Paul suggests the importance of understanding and even experiencing the Jewish festivals in his letter to Timothy. He writes,

All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work. (2 Timothy 3:16-17)

Scripture Meditation:

I have found the above verses to be very helpful and practical in understanding the role of the festivals in the lives of believers in Jesus the Messiah.

In using the term Scripture, Paul is referring to the entirety of the Old Testament. Certainly, we can infer that this is also true of the New Testament, but specifically Paul has the Hebrew Scriptures in mind. Every part of the Bible is useful to us in the process of growing to spiritual maturity. This would include the Jewish holidays.

Paul is not suggesting that we must keep these festivals in any particular way nor is he suggesting that we are under obligation to keep them! Rather, he tells us that every verse in every one of the 39 books of the Old Testament is helpful and may be utilized for spiritual benefit. This would be true of the festivals outlined in Leviticus 23 and would include the three Fall events; the New Year, the Day of Atonement and Tabernacles.

Therefore, learning more about these “Feasts” is helpful for your spiritual journey. And for me, the emphases of the first two holidays on repentance and forgiveness create a magnificent backdrop for understanding the work of Jesus the Messiah, who died that I might live.

To read the rest of the devotional go to:

http://www.chosenpeople.com/main/index.php/holidays-and-festivals/836-ten-days-of-awe-devotionals

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Pray for those who persecute you

Shalom from the heart of Orthodox Jewish Brooklyn, where I have been part of a prayer meeting with our staff at the new Charles Feinberg Messianic Center. As you will see from the attached article, the religious Jewish community is well aware of our presence in the community, and they are responding in a variety of ways.

One group sent out a video opposing our work, and this same group rented space nearby in order to counter our efforts. Another group, we recently discovered, also rented space across the street from our Center in order to oppose our efforts to tell Jewish people about our beloved Messiah Jesus.

This is to be expected!

So, how do we feel about this intense and very public opposition?

I believe the words of Jesus speak loudest in this instance, as He told us,

Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 5:10)

We are blessed, and our burden has deepened for our fellow Jewish people to open their hearts to the Messiah. We understand that our people do not really understand the message of Jesus.

It is hard for most Jewish people to distinguish between the historic bad behavior of nominal “Christians” who treated the Jewish people so poorly throughout the ages and authentic Gentile Christians who love the Jewish Messiah and the Jewish people. My people simply do not know the difference between the two.

And more importantly, they do not understand that Jesus is Jewish, His earliest disciples were Jewish and that believing in Jesus as the Messiah is not only acceptable for a Jewish person, but the right thing to do!

The question I want many people to think about is not whether it is permissible to be Jewish and believe in Jesus – but whether or not Jesus is the true Messiah of Israel. If my fellow Jews come to this conclusion, then they will choose to follow Him – as I did.

So, please pray for the Jewish people with us!

We are not upset or angry or feeling competitive as described in the article. There is only one Messiah, and we believe with all our hearts that it is Jesus and that He is the One sent from heaven to save us from our sins. My hope and prayer is that my people will be drawn to this loving, forgiving Messiah and find salvation in Him.

We are about to begin the Jewish High Holidays, starting with Rosh Hashanah (the Jewish New Year) beginning Wednesday evening. Please pray with us that during this time, when the Jewish people think seriously about atonement and forgiveness, that the Lord would open the hearts of our Jewish people – especially those who oppose us – and reveal to them that Jesus is the promised Messiah for both Jews and Gentiles.

Please read the article, which we feel is balanced and accurate in describing the situation… but of course not a true reflection of our heart and motives for establishing the Charles Feinberg Center in the heart of Brooklyn.

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