The The Ten Days of Awe
These are the Foundation Scriptures for the 10 days: It is written in Isaiah 55:6, “Seek the LORD while He may be found; Call upon Him while He is near.” It is written in Jonah 3:10, “When God saw what they did and how they turned from their evil ways, he had compassion and did not bring upon them the destruction he had threatened.” It does not say “God saw them wearing sackcloth, and repenting.”The very essence of these days - the concepts of teshuva, repentance, and renewal, atonement and forgiveness - are all grounded in our specifically Jewish understanding of time.
The 4 Steps of Repentance
Teshuva is actually a process of self-evaluation and self-improvement. The Rambam counts four primary steps to the teshuva process:
1. Recognize and discontinue the improper action.
2. Verbally confess the action, thus giving the action a concrete form in your own mind.
3. Regret the action. Evaluate the negative impact this action may have had on yourself or on others.
4. Determine never to repeat the action. Picture a better way to handle it. There are two different types of transgressions: those between a person and God and those between one person and another.
Why 4 Days before Rosh Hashanah?
The 10 days of Awe, for the Orthodox Jew, actually starts 4 days before Rosh Hashanah. There is a Jewish custom that on the 4th day BEFORE Rosh Hashanah the Jewish person would rise early to say their prayers, and study the Torah.
WHY? It is because of the relationship between us and sacrificial animals, which had to undergo examination for blemishes 4 days before they were sacrificed.
Consider this: In reference to all other sacrifices, it reads in Numbers 29:8, “But ye shall offer a burnt offering unto the LORD for a sweet savour; one young bullock, one ram, and seven lambs of the first year; they shall be unto you without blemish:” (NAS). On Rosh Hashanah, Numbers 29:2 is read. “Prepare a burnt offering to make a fragrant aroma for ADONAI - one young bull, one ram and seven male lambs in their first year and without defect” (CJB). This is to teach that every man, on Rosh Hashanah, should PREPARE himself for self-sacrifice. These 4 days are set aside for us to examine all our sins and return to God.
Rosh Hashanah Eve – “Remember the Covenant”
Remember, there are the 3 Books that God opens on Rosh Hashanah:
- The Book for the Wicked,
- The Book for the Righteous,
- The Book for the in-between.
These Books are mentioned in Scripture. David recorded the Books of the Righteous and the Wicked in Psalm 69:28. Moses talked about G-d’s Book and G-d confirmed it inExodus 32:32-33.
The Second Day of Rosh Hashanah
The Orthodox Jew will allow a second day of Rosh Hashanah. It is also observed in Israel. (Talmud –Erubin III, end). It is treated as one long day, yet this will explain some verses from the Renewed Covenant. It is written in 2 Peter 3:10, But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up. Now look at Revelation 3:3. It reads, Remember therefore how thou hast received and heard, and hold fast, and repent. If therefore thou shalt not watch, I will come on thee as a thief, and thou shalt not know what hour I will come upon thee.
Here is the point: I believe Yeshua fulfilled the first 4 feasts as Messiah ben Joseph:
- Passover- Redemption
- Unleavened Bread - Separation
- First Fruits – Resurrection
- Shavuot(Pentecost) – Presence of the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit)
Why do I believe this? It is because all of the 456 prophecies in scripture pertaining to Messiah ben Joseph have been fulfilled. There is not one of them missing. If that is true, it means that He will also fulfill the Fall Feasts and the rest of the prophecies as Messiah ben David. The next Fall Feast is Rosh Hashanah. The next prophecy is the Messiah coming back to re-gather His people. When the scripture says we do not know the day of hour that is true. This Feast is celebrated for 2 days and 48 hours. – Pick One. We do not know the day or hour, but we do know the season – Rosh Hashanah.
Story of Nabal
I Samuel 25:2-38 tells the story of Nabal. During the Month of Elul, The shepherds would shear their sheep for their wool and to prepare them for winter. During that time, David protected Nabal. It I written in I Samuel 25:15, But the men (David’s) were very good unto us, and we were not hurt, neither missed we any thing, as long as we were conversant with them, when we were in the fields:16They were a wall unto us both by night and day,all the while we were with them keeping the sheep.” This shearing was to be completed by Rosh Hashanah. They would then, have a Feast. The Feast recorded in I Samuel 25:36, was according to Jewish Tradition (Rosh Hashanah 18a), Rosh Hashanah. “Then Abigail came to Nabal, and behold he was holding a feast in his house, like the feast of a king. And Nabal’s heart was merry within him, for he was very drunk. So she did not tell him anything at all until the morning light.” “But it came about in the morning, when the wine had gone out of Nabal that his wife told him these things, and his heart died within him so that he became as a stone.” God applied his mercy for 10 days, waiting for Nabal to repent. He did not. The scripture continues: “And about 10 days later, It happened that the Lord struck Nabal, and he died” [I Samuel 25:36-38]. The day recorded in Verse 38 was the Day of Yom Kippur. The Book of Judgment was sealed by God on that Day.
The Third Day – The Fast of Gedaliah
It is recorded in II Kings 25:25-26 “But it came to pass in the seventh month, that Ishmael the son of Nethaniah, the son of Elishama, of the seed royal, came, and ten men with him, and smote Gedaliah, that he died, and the Jews and the Chaldeans that were with him at Mitzpah. And all the people, both small and great, and the captains of the forces, arose, and came to Egypt; for they were afraid of the Chaldeans.” This story is recorded in in more detail in Jeremiah 41. It is a half day fast, meaning it is only observed from dawn of the third day until dusk of that same day.
When the Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar conquered Jerusalem, he killed or exiled most of its inhabitants and appointed Gedaliah as governor of the now-Babylonian province of Judah. Many Jews who had fled to Moab, Ammon, Edom, and other neighboring lands returned to Judah, tended the vineyards again, and enjoyed a new respite after their earlier suffering. However, Baalis, king of Ammon, was upset and envious of the Judean remnant and sent a Jew named Yishmael Ben Netaniah, who was descended from the royal family of Judea, to assassinate Gedaliah.
In the seventh month (Tishrei), a group of Jews led by Yishmael came to Gedaliah in the town of Mitzpa and was received cordially. Gedaliah had been warned of his guest's murderous intent, but refused to believe his informants, having the belief that their report was mere slander (Lashon Hora). Yishmael murdered Gedaliah, together with most of the Jews who had joined him and many Babylonians whom the Babylonian King had left with Gedaliah. The remaining Jews feared the vengeance of Nebuchadnezzar (seeing as his chosen ruler, Gedaliah, had been killed by a Jew) and fled to Egypt. The surviving remnant of Jews was again dispersed and the land remained desolate. In remembrance of these tribulations, the Jewish sages instituted what was known as the 'Fast of the Seventh' on the day of Gedaliah's assassination in the seventh month.
It is written in Zechariah 8:19, "Thus says the LORD of hosts, 'The fast of the fourth, the fast of the fifth, the fast of the seventh and the fast of the tenth months wil lbecome joy, gladness, and cheerfulfeasts for the house of Judah; so love truth and peace.'” It was believed that Gedaliah was slain on the first day of Tishrei but the fast was postponed till after Rosh Hashanah, since fasting is prohibited during a festival. Concerning this fast day, the Rabbis have said that its aim is to establish that the death of the righteous is the same as the burning of the house of God. Just as they ordained a fast upon the destruction of the Jewish Temple, likewise they ordained a fast upon the death of Gedaliah.
The Shabbat of Return
It is called the “Shabbat of return” because of the portion from Hosea which is read: It is written in Hosea 14:2 “Take words with you, and return to ADONAI; say to him, "Forgive all guilt, and accept what is good; we will pay instead of bulls [the offerings of] our lips.” Shabbat Shuvah literally means "Sabbath of Return," but it is also a play on the phrase "Shabbat Teshuvah" (“Sabbath of Repentance”). It is the Shabbat that occurs between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur and is a time for reflection leading up to the atonement of Yom Kippur.
Judaism provides a framework for this Shabbat by asserting that every single life is imbued with unique purpose. “A human being creates many coins from the same die and they are all identical; the Supreme King of Kings, the Holy One blessed is He, coins all people from Adam's die and not one looks like another. This is why every person must say 'The world was created just for me'."
This quote is calling on each individual to recognize his or her uniqueness and as a result to make a distinctive contribution in life. It is not a lesson about taking; it is a lesson about contributing and doing something extraordinary with your life. In other words, it is identifying that which is unique in us leads us to think less about what we need and more about what we are needed for. Returning to your true self through repentance is what the Sabbath of return is all about. You do not need to be Jewish to appreciate its importance and recognize its potential positive impact on your life.
Three Portraits of Grace and Repentance
On Shabbat Shuvah these three prophetic portions are read to teach us what repentance means and how God shows us grace. Grace is undeserved favor. Forgiveness is a gift. Do not even think that our repentance makes us deserve forgiveness.
Hosea: The Wisdom of Returning
Hosea, a prophet to the northern kingdom shortly before Assyria come to destroy, gave Israel a four-part message:
- Hosea 14:2-4(1-3) - Bring words of repentance and return to God, rejecting all idols and reliance on human power.
- Hosea 14:5-8(4-7) - God will heal and restore you to a place of love, blessing, and divine protection.
- Hosea 14:9(8) - You need God and not idols.
- Hosea 14:10(9) - Those who are wise understand the need for repentance and rejection of idols, even in an unwise generation.
Micah: The Miracle of Forgiveness
Micah, prophet to the southern kingdom in days of apostasy, gave us instruction about the wonder of God’s gracious pardon. God prefers mercy to judgment and easily forgives. God attacks iniquity when we return to him, destroying the record of our judgment. God desires to restore and reconcile, not remember past offenses.
Joel: Weeping Turns to Rejoicing
Joel, whose era is not known, gave to Israel a message of contrition, deep sorrow over sin, followed by God’s fierce love and blessing.
- Joel 2:15-17, Joel calls for a public display of emotional repentance. This repentance is characterized by a gathering of everyone, great and small, and the weeping and intercession of leaders for the people.
- Joel 2:18-27, God’s response to this contrition is jealous or fierce love. The idea is that God longs to see his people restored with an emotional fervency. When the people cry out with emotion, God reacts in kind, loving and restoring with zeal. God will restore his people to blessing if repentance is real.
Lessons from the Texts
- Hosea emphasizes sole allegiance in returning from idols to God where Joelemphasizes emotional repentance.
- Hosea’s emphasis is on the will and Joel , yet both are teaching.
- Their instructions add to each other, giving us a full picture of repentance as a choice and a deep-felt need.
- Hosea and Joel both speak of healing and restoration, but Micah emphasizes thegrace behind the very idea of divine forgiveness.
- In Hosea God promises to turn from anger and inJoel, God is jealous to restore his people, but in Micah, God is unique among all the deities of religion for his eagerness to show devotion and love.
What does this show us? God’s mercy is greater than his judgment.
The Eighth Day – The 13 Qualities
It is written in Exodus 34:6-7, “And the LORD passed by before him, and proclaimed, The LORD, The LORD God, merciful and gracious, long suffering, and abundant in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, and that will by no means clear the guilty; visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, and upon the children's children, unto the third and to the fourth generation.” On this day, the Orthodox Jew will study these 13 Qualities of God.
The 10th Day – Yom Kippur
The number 10, which symbolizes “Perfection of Divine Order,” is the thrust of the most sacred day of the year.
- The Ten Days of Awe end on the 10th Yom Kippur.
- The second set of the Tablets containing the 10 Commandments, along with God’s forgiveness, were given on Yom Kippur.
- 10 additional sacrifices were added to Rosh Hashanah to correspond to these 10 sayings.
The 10 Days of Awe also line up with the Structure of the Tabernacle. Consider this:
Day #1: The Door of the Outer Court
Day #2 : The Altar of Sacrifice
Day #3: The Laver
Day #4: The Door of the Tabernacle
Day #5: The Table of Shewbread
Day #6: The Candlestick
Day #7: The Altar of Incense
Day #8: The Veil protecting the Holy of Holies
Day #9: The Ark of the Covenant
Day #10: The Mercy Seat [Yom Kippur]
Enjoy this very special time, and may it be a time of change for you.