Introduction to “Sunsets of Awe”
This is the introduction to a series of devotional posts that will continue through the Days of Awe. They are meant to be a daily, self-reflective guide for the purpose of unmasking our faces before the face of our Father—the all-powerful, healing G-d. The first post will be available on Erev Rosh Hashanah and there will be one post per day (available around sunset, the beginning of each day).
You may have heard talk at B’rit about the Season of Repentance. It is the forty day period that includes the whole month of Elul plus the first ten days of Tishrei, up to and including Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement. As we wind down the month of Elul, we are about to enter the Days of Awe (or Yamim Noraim), sometimes called the Days of Repentance. It is those ten days starting with Rosh Hashanah on the 1st of Tishrei that are called the Days of Awe.
These ten days are a time of concentrated introspection and self-examination, a time to consider any sinful patterns and come to repentance prior to Yom Kippur. In traditional Judaism, there is the concept that HaShem has “books,” one of life and one of death, and at Rosh Hashanah He writes names into one or the other of these books. It is our actions during the ten Days of Awe that can change that decree from “Death to Life.” The three actions are: Teshuva, Tefillah, and Tzedakah — Repentance, Prayer, and Charity.
In Messiah, we know that if we have accepted His sacrifice as our Atonement that our names are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life (Phi 4:3; Rev 3:5; 13:8; 17:8; 20:12,15; 21:27; 22:19). However, this doesn’t mean that there is no place in our lives for examination, repentance, and doing good deeds. In fact, it should mean exactly the opposite. Out of gratefulness and love, we should desire to be in a constant state of examination, participating in the renewing of our minds under the leading of the Ruach. We should be active participants in the process of the Ruach “writing the Torah on our hearts” (Ezk 36). In a way, the Days of Awe are a metaphor, an allegory, of our Spiritual Life. We start with a new beginning—like Rosh Hashanah is the new beginning of the year: “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation.” (2Co 5:17)
The days end with Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, which can represent the day of our physical death. On that day, we can have the assurance of the Messiah Yeshua as our High Priest to represent us and the knowledge that our name is written in his “Book of Life.” Thus the days between those two appointments are the days of our sanctification, days where we want to be constantly examining ourselves to make sure that we are in tune with the Spirit, the Ruach, and constantly coming into deeper repentance. For the Believer it is not so much ten “Days of Awe” as it is “Lifetime of Awe.”
So let us rejoice that our names are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life and, at the same time, seek to practice introspection and repentance in these coming days. Bless HaShem that He provides these reminders to us in His calendar, His mo’adim.