Learning of Jewish culture is, to me, a thick slice of warm cinnamon bread slathered with butter from the bread shop. I just can’t get enough of it. Upon partaking of it’s yumminess, I walk away full, fat, and happy.
I recently stumbled upon a website entitled HebrewsforChristians.com and got myself lost up in there, clicking away, for hours. Studying about the rich importance infused into special dates on their calendar is especially lovely to me.
Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement)
Tonight (September 22nd), for instance, actually begins the holiest day in the entire Jewish calendar, the Day of Atonement, or Yom Kippur. Around dusk, a 25 hour fast will begin. During this time, it is customary for those participating to not eat or drink, cease from mundane tasks, attend extra services at Synagogue and most importantly, repent. Repent of all the sins that have built up throughout the year, cleanse the heart of the developed sludge that has taken residence there marring much of daily activity.
Historically, this was the day one Priest had the honor of entering the Holy of Holies to offer a blood sacrifice for himself, then for the nation of Israel. This was the day Zachariah saw an angel in that place that changed his life (Luke).
Perfectly, as these days land, Yom Kippur is the last day of The 10 Days of Awe which begins on Rosh Hashanah (Jewish New Year). The first ten days of a fresh year spent in repentance in hopes of having one’s name written in the book of life, rather than the book of death.
Lending to Yom Kippur an even greater impact, the 10 Days of Awe follow the 30 Days of Teshuvah, a complete season each fall set aside for reflection, repentance and restoration.
WHAT IF I DID THIS EACH YEAR OF MY VAPOR LIKE LIFE?
What if I set aside 40 days each year at the beginning of fall (my favorite season anyway) to cease from extra activities in order to free up space to reflect on my relationship with Jesus, my proximity to Him and His Heart.
While most family life is barreling down the freeway toward sports, extra curricular and school preparatory activities, what if I and my family took an off ramp instead sending us meandering through His beautiful creation on a lazy country road? If these precious forty days were built into the rhythm of our year, maybe, just maybe I wouldn’t miss so much of life that seems to be buzzing by me. That was my thought, anyway.
Back to Yom Kippur. This year’s celebration of this highest of holy days is particularly fantastic as many believe it is also the first day of the Year of Jubilee in the Jewish Calendar.
Year of Jubilee
Now, the Year of Jubilee just gives me goose bumps.
For 50 years men, women, children, lived, planted their fields, bought and sold property, accumulated assets, sold assets, gained and lost. Some did well for themselves. Some did poorly, so poorly in fact, they may have sold themselves into slavery just to pay the bills.
God knew this. God knows us. WE ACCUMULATE, WE GATHER DEBT. We rarely keep it simple. He figured on us needing a wild card.
Shabbat (Rabbit Trail)
Resultantly, lovingly, He built rests and resets into the ebb and flow of our quick little lives. One of them being the well known Sabbath, our Sunday, their Saturday-Shabbat. A day of rest. Warm fuzzies fill me when I read the romantic accounts of how a true Shabbat is fleshed out in community.
Dusk hits on Friday evening, dinner is prepared, the candle is lit, family and friends gather and join in conversation, in relationship, and the calm that is contrary to the world outside their door.
Could you imagine?
Candlelight dancing on warm Challah bread, your favorite people surrounding your table. Sounds glorious, doesn’t it? Maybe some of you have this ritual imbedded within the fabric of your circle. Well Done. In that case, text me, my family and I would like to join you.
Sorry, sidetracked. Listen to me-Shabbat, Yom Kippur, Teshuvah, Jubilee-this German’s gone Jewish today, folks!
Year of Jubilee, Yes.
When the shofar blew on this day, rejoicing was heard. Debts canceled. Slaves freed. People raised their heads and went home to their family’s heritage.
Bent over the wheat, the field your sweat has watered for years-back breaking burden-then it comes. The shofar blast fills the air around you-releasing you, redeeming you, restoring you. Stand up and go home.
And this is where it gets good, friends!
JESUS IS OUR JUBILEE.
He is our blood sacrifice, our life for a life given so we can live. He paid our debts on the cross. He set us free from slavery to Satan. And when we die, we are free to go home, really HOME, our perfect home in Heaven. Is there a tear in your eye at the thought? Maybe a chill up your leg not induced by too much caffeine or the coolness of fall out your window?
Jesus releases us. Jesus redeems us from the slave market of this life. He restores us to reality, that is to really living.
How beautiful is that piece? That piece of peace. So beautiful in fact that ministries are named thus.
Yesterday we waded through the meanings of these precious celebrations in our sweet community of 46 families and haystacks of kids. Upon completion, we stood up and danced. We danced to the Newsboys song below. If you like, listen to the words, then maybe replay it, at an unreasonable volume, and then maybe sing along. It’s the goods.
Finally, may you see, feel, realize and KNOW Jesus as your Jubilee, your release into Freedom, Liberty, and true Life.
Plowing through this field of life all dirty, dusty, but in rest alongside you,
P.S. Maybe Father God will ask you to set aside time, food, activity over the next 24 hours to “reset” your relationship with Him. If He nudges, please say yes. So much richness in the yes, I promise.
P.P.S. I realize this letter is not rife with the Scripture to back up my claims. I’m ok with that, today. If it is unsettling to you, Dear Berean, take your Bible into your lap and dig. For truths are found within in abundance.